Sunday, December 30, 2018

La Cocinita, El Mercado, and Gigi's

Yesterday was going to be a rest day but it just didn’t turn out like that.   There is always something going on and even though you’re on vacation you still have things to do.  We started off the day with the group at La Cocinita for breakfast.  We decided to not overeat because after we would be heading to the mercado.   I had an omelet and a hot milk with Nescafe.  It was delicious.  At La Cocinita they bring plates filled with fresh cheese, refried beans, tortillas, salsa and other goodies and that’s before bringing your meal.  So I attempted to hold back as much as I could.

The adobe oven where they make the fresh ground corn tortillas and cafe de olla.

We hopped in the SUV and headed over to the mercado.  Some things never change and this market is one of them.  It isn’t very big but runs a couple of blocks long.  All the Christmas items are still out, and now red and yellow underwear for New Year’s.   Red is for love and yellow is for money.   I never see any that are mixed colors.

Walking around I decided I needed a haircut and a shoe shine.  The group walked over to the main plaza and sure enough there were a couple of boleros waiting for customers.   My shoes look brand new with a good shine.  Gail had her shoes shined as well.   While they toured the square I was off for a haircut.  Well, Jorge was busy until 6 p.m., Toni doesn’t open early on Saturdays, Lupita had over and hour wait but around the corner I found a place.  Great haircut!

I was hoping to get in a nap before our afternoon activity.  Heinz and Ulli came by along with Sal, Barb, Doug and Cathy and we loaded up and zipped down the road to Gigi’s Restaurant outside of Mazamitla.  It is an open area with lots of greenery, pine trees and quiet, still air.  The restaurant is actually a house divided up into dining rooms.  We had a room for 12 with a fireplace.  There are also outside palapas but you really need a reservation for those especially during a holiday.   We were more than happy with our place.  

The menu runs the gamut.   Some of what was ordered;  escargot, Thai curry, chateaubriand, Greek salads, and of course beer and wine.  We ordered the house wines, both red and white and many were interested in what label it was.   During the meal we mentioned our favorite wines which are La Cetto and when the bill came we asked about the house wine and sure enough it was La Cetto.  Good choice!

Lots of fresh flowers and delicious homemade breads spread among us.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hike From Valle de Juarez to El Tigre

We headed out on foot this morning for a famous landmark, Sierra del Tigre.  It is located up the mountains from Valle de Juarez exactly 10.5 km.  It was quite a climb although we did take the cobble stone road because most of the mountain is small farms and ranches.  We started off with vigor and vinegar.  As we continued to climb you could feel the altitude affecting your breathing.  The good thing is we have been working on our cardio-vascular muscles by do inclined treadmill activity.  What is that?  We do thirty minutes on the treadmill starting at 5 on the scale and increasing the speed to 4 miles per hour and the incline changes every four minutes to the next level, or 5 to 11.  We are now at 6 to 12 and it really gets the heart pumping to 140 beats per minute.   That is daily.  Then on Friday we do an actual stress test simulation to where you are at an incline of 14 and running at the end for three minutes.  I was impressed with our climb today.

Back to the trek to El Tigre.  The mountains are beautiful.  Only five cars passed us in the 2.5 hours it took us to go up to the top.  There were many stops for pictures but it was worth it.  We passed small ranches where everyone was friendly and gave us a wave and a howdy-do.  

Fossils in the rocks used to make the road.

I've mentioned before how the farmers produce milk, set it by the side of road, and Liconsa, a government program, comes by to pick it up and registers the milk and the producer is paid 6.90 pesos per liter.  A pretty good business. 

As you know, we have the OXXO convenience stores.  This is at km 5 on the way up.  This is a take-off on the name.  A truly good rest stop for bathrooms, food, water and snacks.  They have developed a truly good business.

We never really took a break of more than a picture or a drink of water.   When we arrived at the top we found El Tigre.  Unfortunately, for those that live there, it is not a tourist attraction.  The open safari wagons from Mazamitla just drive right through and never stop.   It would do a great deal for the very small community on top of the mountain.  We stopped and had the tacos I had prepared in the morning and walked to a small farmhouse that offered meals.  We ordered two coffees and chatted with the owners for a spell.  They too are disappointed with the lack of tourism.  They complained about the large groups of 4 X 4s and RZRs that pass through destroying the canyons and streams with their vehicles.  The owner had worked in Santa Maria, California for many years during the planting season.

Juan’s knees starting to hurt.  We had planned on walking up and hitching a ride down but only five vehicles passed us on the way up.  The owner who offered us a coffee said that eventually, someone would pass by.  One of the tour safari wagons drove by but refused to pick up us up even for pay.  We decided to started walking and all of a sudden a tuk-tuk passed with a woman and a couple of costales of grain for her cows.  We waved and he said he would be back to pick us up.  A fun ride down.

We met the group from the rv park at the entrance to the road we had gone up and they were at the famous Pemex at the entrance to Valle de Juarez having tacos.  Okay, what the heck.  We had a quesadilla.   Nap time came and went and before we knew it, chairs gathered on the lawn for happy hours and a few good jokes.   As Croft always says, “life is good”.  We sure miss Croft and Norma here.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Another Eventful Day In Jalisco

I'm not really sure just what day it is or what to title today's blog.  All I can say is that we are relaxing and enjoying the vacation.  Let´s hope it lasts for a long while.

The weather in Valle is my kind of climate.  22C during the day with the sun on your face it's nice and warm.  At night it has been hovering around 7C.  That's perfect for connecting the electric blanket.  

Everything here at the rv park works just fine.   Good electric, water, showers, and laundry.   There is no wifi but we are using the Telcel stick.   I called yesterday to confirm which package was the best and I am buying 2 hours at a time for 15 pesos.   So with 300 pesos of air time, choosing the "internet only" option, that gives us 40 hours of internet time.  That's according to the calculator.  We'll see what happens but it works great here in Valle.

Yesterday the guys went to Mazamitla.  We did a little shopping at the local mercado.  People are always surprised at the prices.   Lots of fresh meats and although we aren't big flesh eaters, they do have chicken livers.   I haven't had them for a long time and would really like to bread and pan fry some.  We also stopped by the little supermarket and picked up; kleenex, napkins, toothpaste, laundry soap, two Colgate toothbrushes, and it all came to 60 pesos or about $3.  

On the way home, we stopped at a restaurant that Heinz had recommended.   He gets the award for the best restaurant recommendation of 2018.  He said they sold fish tacos that were lightly breaded.  Well, Jerry ordered three fish tacos, Bill had two, I ordered the shrimp burger, and Juan ordered a fish taco and a shrimp quesadilla.  The shrimp burder is not like Toni´s in Mazatlan.  It's the best we have had but just a different flavor.   The fish tacos are white bass and truly lightly breaded.   They have a small salad bar with pico de gallo, cole slaw, chopped cabbage mixed with pico de gallo, salsa, etc.  U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E!  I have no need to try anything new this trip here in Valle, I've found all I want.

Last night we headed up to the restaurant that is on the grounds here.  It is closed for lack of workers, I won't go into that diatribe now.  On the covered patio they have an adobe oven.  We built a fire and had happy hour there.   The three girls were crowned "The Queens of Chema´s Rv Park" but just for the one night.  They received crowns and septors.  We finished up and went home to watch Austin Powers Goldmember.  

Tonight we have a bonfire at Becky and Jerry´s house.  They moved here two years ago and built a house so that will all be new to us.  They are loving their new life here in Valle. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas From Valle de Juarez

Sending this from my cell phone with a very small screen.  Don't expect miracles.

 We started out on Sunday from SMA taking the lead to Salamanca.  We stopped and Jerry and Paula took over.   We stopped a couple of times for a potty break, fix a quick bite to eat, and then on to Valle de Juarez.   Nothing much to report from the road.

Things are as usual, we did some libres and some toll roads and some were great and others not so great.

We arrived to the rv park around 3p.m. and got settled in.  Chema charges 1400 pesos a week including electric.   We really don’t need the electric and may negociate for just a primitive site.

The bathrooms are excellent and in new condition and there is a laundry room for wash. 

Last night we celebrated Barb and Sal’s 46th anniversary with a big party at their house with family, friends, and expats from all over who now reside in Valle and Mazamitla.   It looks like Mazamitla is really becoming a grand tourist attraction and was recently named as another Pueblo Magico.

This morning we headed out to La Cocinita for breakfast around 9:30 but not before I got in my morning exercise.  Lots of people from all over were there.  The waitress that they opened at 6 a.m. and were greeted by customers who had been out the night before doing some pretty heavy drinking.  All was good because they are doing a great business.
After we walked around the main plaza and some others did some quick shopping because tomorrow everything will be closed.   We had a late lunch with another large group of about 35 people at La Troje restaurant in Mazamitla.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

On The Road To Valle de Juarez

It was an uneventful drive to San Miguel de Allende.  We left Matehuala at 9 a.m. and picked up some fresh whole wheat bolillos and a chile relleno to make a delicious breakfast torta.  The highway this time of year is packed with paisanos and many of them are driving like there is no tomorrow.  

Blue skies all the way, in fact, it has been that way since Thursday and it makes for some great picture taking from the road.  We usually go down Hwy 57 to Dr. Mora which takes you to Los Rodriguez and then to SMA.  This trip we took the exit to Dolores Hidalgo and it is a lonely two-lane road through the countryside.   You can really see the plains of Guanajuato on this route and it is a bit shorter plus we didn't have to drive through SMA which we had heard was packed with tourists.  This route brings you right to the rv park Hotel San Ramon.

We arrived to a warm welcome from Bill, Gail, Paula, and Jerry.   We had a glass of wine and went to bed very early.   I was pooped.   I fell asleep around 8:30 and now it's 6:40 a.m.  We are heading off with the other two rvers in about an hour.   Nothing to unhook, we just leveled the trailer and left it at that.

It will be an interesting drive.  We haven't traveled with other rvers for many, many years.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Retirement and On The Road In Mexico

Here we are on the 21st of December and found this jewel as we were leaving the quinta.

We headed out this morning a bit later than our usual.  Now that It appears that there is no more schedule, we left the house around 8:30.   We stopped in our town to get the paper and I realized that the front passenger side headlight was out.  Go figure, from last night to this morning.  We stopped at Autozone in Santiago and they didn’t have the lamp.  We decided, what the heck, who needs the headlights during the day when the running lights are working and the low or day lights.  We got to Allende, about 20 miles south and stopped at that Autozone.  The manager knows me and he helped us out.  He had the lamp and we also had a bad wire.  It had rubbed another and shorted out the lamp.  All was well after that.

I had originally planned to take the route to Ciudad Victoria and meet up with the Policia de Federal caravan which takes people south.   But, as we approached Linares, we decided to head across the mountains.  I shied away from that because of our breakdown in March.   The SUV performed beautifully without a hitch (no pun intended, the trailer was behind us all the way).  When we arrived to the top, Galeana, we stopped in to see our gordita friend at the intersection of the highway and the entrance to town.  I had two tacos de higado, liver.  Shouldn't have, but man were they delicious.

We did hit very heavy traffic stopping at the Parador San Pedro.  The paisanos, or Mexican-Americans who travel home for the holidays had hit the road.  At San Pedro we hit a construction zone and the back up was over 45 minutes.   I’v never seen people bring so much used junk into the country.  For crying out loud, they make money in the U.S., can’t they bring new stuff or even better, help out the Mexican economy by buying gifts in Mexico?

Full moon behind us.  Looks like we're set up for the night and ready for bed.  

Arrived to Matehuala at 4 p.m.   The Oasis Hotel, where we usually stay, is being remodeled.  Very nicely painted, new lighting, and wifi.   The casino in front has received permission to reopen.  Good for them.  150 pesos a night.  You can’t beat that.

We’re in happy hour mode right now.  It will be 5C tonight.  Good thing we have an electric blanket. Not sure why more rvers don't use them as they work wonderfully on battery.  Tomorrow it is off to San Miguel de Allende where we meet up with Paula and Jerry and on Sunday head to Valle de Juarez.   Maybe we can meet with Barbara!!!!

More later.  As Croft always says, “life is good” and I am happy to say that we are not sure when we will go back home!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Meeting Up With The Caravan

We hosted the Kevin and Ruth Experience Caravan at our place in Montemorelos.  It was the best thing we could have done.  We met some new friends, some friends who have been blog followers for a long time and were able to put names to posts and faces.

As you know, we hadn't been out for some time and I wanted to do some things to get the rig in good shape.  Well, it performed beautifully.  Little Bit was in tow and he enjoyed himself as much as we did.  

We headed down on Sunday morning to avoid the traffic stopping at a popular restaurant between Allende and Montemorelos, Gran Principal.  They have great breakfasts and instead of serving chips and salsa they bring a crisp flour tortilla that measures 25 to 30 cm wide.   In addition, they also give you a couple of gorditas de manteca de res, or beef fat.  They are not greasy, probably not healthy on a daily basis but delicious to the palate with some of their wonderful salsa.

We arrived early, set up and took a quick nap.  The caravan made great time and I'm sure you have read all about it, if not here is the link to the blog, Travels With Kevin and Ruth A Great First Full Day In Mexico.

Sunday night after happy hour we had dinner with Ruth and Kevin.  We had marinated some steaks the day before.  They were great along with some delicious green beans.

We spent Sunday and Monday doing all types of activities.   You can tell we all pretty much come from the same ink in the sense that driving the group into town to do some minor shopping and get their cell phones working.   We all wanted to be in charge!  It was hilarious in the end.

We had a dinner out Monday night and it turned out to be a real bash.  We found a small place in downtown Montemorelos, Fonda San Miguel.  The owners really catered to us and the food was pretty good and so was the price.

We have made so many good friends who are so accepting and we just hope we return the same feelings and hospitality to them.

We left the rv at the park in Montemorelos because we had to shag for work thinking we would be back to pick it up.  We did go back but we didn't pick it up, we spent another night in the light rain enjoying conversation and going over the time we had with the caravan.   Up early this morning, heavy fog, rain and traffic my first thought was that I wouldn't be able to get the rv into the driveway.  Then I had a change of mind and thought, "Have I ever not been able to back the rv into the driveway?"  Never.   We pulled up to the quinta, opened the gate and on one try I backed it in.

Special shout out to Paul who has been a long-time reader and we really hit it off.