Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Day Hike In San Miguel de Allende

The weather has been cold here especially at night.  Saturday night it was 1C here at the house.  The days are sunny and warm, warm enough to move around without a jacket. 

We spent Christmas Eve with friends, having a fantastic dinner of baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, green beans with bacon, mushrooms and small potatoes and a wonderful black cherry dessert from Julia Childs.  The conversation was the best, meeting a new to us friend.  We were in bed early and up early on Christmas Day.

Good friends are hard to come by.  Barbara found us and took us in.  She's something special.  

Somebody has to carve the ham.  I have no idea what I am doing, but the ham was delicious!

Manón, a new friend, helped me pop the top on the champagne.

 There is never enough to talk about especially when it is happy hour.

First order of business was to go for a hike around the lake at the botanical gardens.  The water levels are the lowest we have ever seen.  Water has become a big issue here.  Many would like to put the blame on the housing boom although most of the housing is being purchased by Mexicans from Queretaro and Mexico City who only come occasionally or on weekends.  The big issue now is corporate agriculture.  They are literally pumping the life of the aquifers and some wells are now as deep as 500 meters.  There are two sides to every debate.  On one side, Mexico needs food, the exportation of agricultural products, supplying jobs to local farm workers and on the other hand, we need to think about the local population and housing is a good thing also supplying jobs and the sell of construction materials, furnishings and the like.  We're not attempting to look for a viable solution for both sides.  Sides are now pitted against one another pointing the blame on the other.

The egret wouldn't raise its head.  We waited patiently and quietly to no avail.

Sad to say, three of my brothers are avid birders.  I have all the books but either I don't have the true desire or I'm lazy.  

Such beauty and it's right there on the edge of town.  10 minutes from the main plaza yet hardly anyone goes there.  So disconnected from nature.

There are plenty of birds to watch and identify.   We also came across a huge flock of sheep grazing and being moved by two shepherds.  We didn't actually enter the botanical gardens because we haven't paid our yearly membership plus the fact that there is some construction going on and we didn't want to see the mess.  The hike is worthwhile and the views are incredible.  So much to see and the air yesterday was clear with cottony clouds and blue skies.  What is even more impressive the fact that there is little to no trash along the trails.  One thing we have noticed during our stay here is that you can see down into the city drains and they are free of debris.  In other cities in Mexico, the problem with flooding during heavy rains is trash accumulating in the sewer drains and clogging them up.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Santa Claus Is Close

We're still here in SMA and Juan returned Friday morning early.  This year we won't have a Christmas tree.  We were hoping to have one here but there isn't one and we didn't want to spend the money on things we would have to cart back home and have more of what we don't need.  I decorated the fireplace.  Juan brought the lights from home and I purchased the paistle or musgo (Spanish moss), the garland, mini piñatas, and the baby, Jesus, for 200 pesos or $10.  This is our Christmas tree this year.

We went to the artesian market which is about ten minutes away from the house.  We went there for lunch with our friend Barbara.  This is one of the best Italian restaurants we have been to on our trips.  In addition, it is one of the best priced.  The chef and his wife run the small restaurant called "Andrea's".   Really good food and the couple is very nice.  We split a chicken parmesano over a bed of pasta with mixed veggies.  Barb had salmon that was truly flavorful.  (I share our money, our home, and anything else except for food.  But, you have to taste other people's food).  

As we walked through the market people were selling like crazy, lowering prices and the Christmas spirit was on high.  Like in all markets, we passed the altar to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The streets in this section are exemplary of what San Miguel looked like 300 years ago.  With the exception of some changes in the streets including repairs, the houses and shops are pretty much the same.  There is one exception though, the electric company, belonging to the federal government, found a way to put a semi-modern structure right in front of the restaurant.  I guess most people would hardly notice.-

Back home it was time to heat up the fireplace.  It was 1C last night and the days are wet with light rain and heavy clouds.  The house gets cold without it but during sleep, we turn off the fireplace and turn on the electric blanket.  

Juan took this before leaving home the other day.  It was a picture of the last sunset from home for this year.  I'm missing the place but not so much the house, just being in our own digs, going to the gym, neighbors, shopping and the like.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dog Rescue - Cell Phone Pics - Short Commentary

Short Commentary

Blogging and YouTubing have become big business.  Each and every click counts.  Over the last six weeks, I have watched Rv'ers come and go from the botanical gardens.  Some are in caravans and others by themselves.  Several have their blog or YouTube name or address on the side of their rigs.

I have checked a couple only to find out that they "have just discovered a new find",  the best boondocking spot in San Miguel de Allende.  I beg your pardon.  We have been boondocking since 2001 and I surely can't lay claim to any boondocking site.  That said, there was a boondocker from California that sent me a message last year asking where the botanical garden was and where they could park.  I sent them the information and lo and behold, a month later I read their blog and the same thing, "Wow, did we ever find an unknown boondocking spot".

Give credit where credit is due.  I'm not looking for anyone to praise me or thank me but I believe it is a courtesy from one blogger or YouTuber to another.  The reason people don't mention another blog is that they will lose those precious clicks.  I don't do my blog for money as I don't think it is interesting to know that today I swept the porch and did my laundry.  That said, others provide good information but none the less, blogging isn't what it used to be.  I have always given credit as well as provide a link to another blogger's website.  One last thing, even though the land does not belong to the botanical garden, be a good neighbor and buy a membership as a group or at least visit and pay the measly 50 peso entrance fee.  We always offer to pay wherever we stay if it is next to a business, restaurant, wherever.  

Last Friday, I was driving down the libramiento from Dolores towards La Comer.  There in the middle of the highway I saw what I thought was a dead dog.  As I drove by, it lifted its head.  Cars were driving over it and I turned around as quickly as possible.  I grabbed the dog and put her in the car.  She was in complete shock.  To make a long story short, many pesos later, she had x-rays which showed two minor fractures; one in the hip and one in the last vertebra.  She is now walking a bit and out of the vet.  I found a temporary home that was willing to take her in.  She is a real keeper and I know would give lots of love but we can't have any more pets.  It was worth it though.  You can't just let that happen, if you do, you also have little respect for life in general.

I haven't been posting much because I couldn't figure out how to download pictures from my new 900 peso cell phone.  I went back today and they showed me what I was doing wrong.  Something new to learn every day and now I will be posting more of what is going on around town.  Juan comes back Friday morning and we will be celebrating Christmas and taking some day trips to other towns nearby.  Too much gringo for me, I need a break!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Walk Around SMA - Diá de La Virgen de Guadalupe

This time of year there is always a celebration going on.  December starts with lots of fireworks and the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Juan Diego saw the vision of the Virgen of Guadalupe on December 9th, 1531 in Tepeyac which is now located on the outskirts of Mexico City.  Supposedly the Virgin identified herself and asked Juan Diego that a church be built on that site.  Juan Diego told the archbishop who did not believe him and asked for proof.  The following days he returned, the Virgin appeared and in Juan Diego's words, said to him, "Am I not here, I who am your mother?"

She then filled his cloak with roses, but not just any roses.  They were roses, they were Castillan roses not native to Mexico and couldn't have grown there on the hill in Tepeyac in the cold of winter.  Juan Diego returned to the archbishop.  When he opened the cloak, the roses fell to the ground and the picture of the virgin appeared on his cloak.

On the 12th I took off in search of celebrations here in SMA.  This is what I found on my three-hour walk around the city.   The first stop was a group of indigenous dancers.  With the sound of a drumbeat the dancer performed before the altar for an hour.  

There is an altar to the virgin in every Mexican market.  I wondered on down the road and came across a small market where I could hear mariachis.  Sure enough, they were playing, Las Mañanitas in front of the small altar of the virgin.  (Ignore the lady's head.  She refused to move out of the way).

I was told that over by the bus station there was an inauguration of a new street or street that has been turned into a plaza and walking street with no car traffic allowed.  I had my map in hand I was sure I knew where this event was being held.  They had been working on the street since we had arrived six weeks ago (can't believe I've been here this long).  I arrived just as the priest began to speak about the Virgin of Guadalupe and to say the mass. 

It was quite a long morning that ended with a stop at the butcher shop for some freshly ground beef.  I went home and prepared a flour tortilla with a bead of refried beans, sauteed ground beef and some grated cheese followed by fried egg on top.  It hit the spot before my nap.

Two things about this picture from the indigenous dances.  You can see how modern-day diet is destroying the Mexican people.  Second, the dancer in the middle danced for the complete hour with her cellphone in her hand.  My how times have changed.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Another Round of SMA

(I could tell by the overwhelming number of comments and responses that you enjoyed the article I posted the other day regarding our president 😎  That said, it does raise concern among many Mexicans as well as ex-pats and it is something people should be aware when coming to Mexico.)

I'm sitting here tonight watching "The Bells of Saint Mary's" with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as I write the blog.  I'm home alone.  Not so good news this week.  Juan's niece passed away at an early age from a blood clot in her knee.  he took the bus home last Saturday night.  He then went to school to sign his work release permit and they have decided to audit all the classes and teachers.  Now he won't be back in SMA until the 18th.  Such is life.

Before he left, we were in the city market downtown having a snack.  A couple walked by a couple of times and the second round Juan gave them the thumbs up on the food and they joined us.  We'll call them A&B for now.  They are from Quebec and came for a short visit.   We hit it off and we have done some sightseeing together.  This week we went to Atotonilco and Dolores Hidalgo, and they had me over for a wonderful pasta and sauce dinner at their VRBO.  We have seemed to hit it off.  We have many things in common.

Tomorrow we will take a tour of the Fábrica Aurora which is the old textile mill.   Mostly antiques and art galleries but they do have the original equipment and the halls are lined with old photographs of the textile mill.  

The pictures below were taken at the church Sanctuario Jésus Nazareno de Atotonilco also known as the Mexican Sistine Chapel.   All hand-painted ceilings and altars it has a history dating back to 1740 and founded by Father Felipe Nero de Alfaro.  I picked up a book there years ago, written in Spanish, that tells the story of the priest and the church.  A lot of history in such a small town that is really made up of the church and a few small shops.

We drove on to Dolores Hidalgo, the cradle of Mexican Independence.  We didn't have a lot of time but we did tour the main plaza, sampled some ice creams, had a nice lunch of enchiladas suizas (chicken enchiladas covered in a creamy tomatillo sauce and covered with swiss cheese) and a quick look at the museum.  I know I've posted about these places several times before but they are of great interest and for me, it never gets old.  I could do this every week.  I like showing people a bit about Mexico.

It looks like we will be here for Christmas and I will be looking for some semblance of a Christmas tree, something small, a few lights and decorations.  

I have also had the pleasure of spending time with our friend Barbara, happy hours, grocery shopping and doing odds and ends.  It's been fun and I think I would like SMA as a home base.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Interesting Article - Please Read

I have been good about not posting political articles although I'm not sure why people would be offended or not interested to know what is going on in Mexico when they live here and rv here.  We are all affected one way or another.  Anyway, what I have been saying all along is well-documented in this article.

AMLO and the “Fourth Transformation” in Mexico

A bit about the author:

Roberto Salinas-León is President of the Mexico Business Forum. He is an expert on trade, monetary policy, and economic liberalization in Latin America and co-editor of Money and Markets in the Americas: New Challenges for Hemispheric Integration.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thanksgiving Dinner San Miguel de Allende 2019

Like all good holiday events, Thanksgiving came and went with a bang.  We decided quite a while ago to have Thanksgiving at Barbara's house.  She has a beautiful home that is filled with very positive energy that you can feel walking in.  You're always at home there so it made the celebration even better.  We all have lots to be thankful for and this isn't the only day to be thankful.   This morning (Saturday), I went for my brisk walk and I was just happy.  The town has grown but it still won't change what is here.  No trash, no horn honking and there seems to be quite a bit of order.  We can walk everywhere and today I did a walk to the Jardin.  It's nice here, and I really think we would be happy living here, at least part-time.

This is Barbara's living room.  Such a beautiful place.  

You would think by the picture I was the chef in charge.  Hardly!  I did make the dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy and I have to admit they were pretty good.  The dressing was especially delicious because we used fresh herbs from the garden.  Barb did the turkey, whiskey glazed carrots and Juan made his delicious green bean cassarole.

When I was a kid I used to watch Graham Kerr on his "Galloping Gourmet" cooking show.  He always had a glass of wine on the counter.   Now I know why.  Wine is good for you!

They were not cooking, just horsing around and making me take pictures.

They insisted that I serve myself first, so I did what I was told!  This was a really enjoyable dinner and the food was excellent.  A beautiful turkey with everything else you could want.

This is Pea.  Her first owner passed away.  That's when she was adopted.  A good girl.

We've been given charge of these two good lookers.  Rufus is on the left and the right is Adie.  Adie is a charm.  She's on top of me all the time.  They both miss their mom.

I guess like all of us, we have good memories of family gatherings and some of you still have them.  My family is very spread out and they all have their own kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.  I have good memories though of Thanksgivings past and it seems like yesterday.  We're hoping for a family reunion in Cincinnati this next year with everyone.  I sure miss them all and look forward to seeing them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving and Christmas In SMA

We're preparing for Thanksgiving dinner at Barbara's this week.  Yesterday Barbara and I did a little shopping and picked up a 10 lb turkey.   I'm in charge of dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Juan has the green bean casserole which is always really good.  Barbara is doing the turkey, whiskey glazed carrots and many other goodies as well. 

Today we picked up a couple of extra veggies and checked the wine selections.  While we were there the Christmas spirit parked in front.  We've seen this guy for years.  His car is covered with stuffed animals, Christmas lights and music.  This morning I was on the treadmill at the gym.  It's on the second floor with an all-glass front.  I like watching the construction across the street, the dump trucks coming and going, etc.  There he was, driving by with all his glory, white beard and Santa hat.   That's what makes the season special.

After our shopping spree yesterday, Barbara came over for happy hour.  Never empty-handed whether here or at her house.  She prepared her famous cheese bread.   Out of the oven, it was better than any pizza I've ever had.  Lots of talk, laughing and overall good fun.

Here we are in the dining room tonight writing the blog and checking the internet.  This is what we see in the living room in front of us.  The television is on YouTube piano Christmas music.  Might as well get a head start.  It only lasts six weeks.  Every room in the house has a fireplace, each a unique style.

Adi is on the left.  She's a lover and follows us around the house.  Rufus is more subdued and is slowly warming up to us.  We love having the furkids around.  

We didn't bring much with us in terms of clothes as we weren't sure how long we would be here.  Juan is going home on Saturday for two days to go to a meeting, sign some papers and bring back a small list of things we need here.  Our housesit's niece will be coming on Saturday from Queretaro to visit friends and to see how things are going.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

San Miguel Keeps Growing

We've been here for three weeks now and we've seen and done quite a bit.  Most of the things we have done before but they continue to change and improve.  Some people say SMA is a small town.  That may be true but it continues to grow.  

What makes it nice here is that the city government does an excellent job of maintaining the city streets, lighting and water system.   There are constant projects to update avenues, sidewalks, and it appears that when they do updates on a street they are burying the cables as well.  Little by little.  New monuments are going up.  A statue of Ignacio Allende was moved to the glorieta that is on the exit to Dolores Hidalgo.

The majority of new development is taking place on the outskirts of the city.  For example, the area around El Charco, the botanical gardens, homes from $150,000 U.S, and condos are springing up everywhere.  We have visited several of these gated communities during the week.  Most are sold out or nearly sold out.   The real estate agents in these complexes assure us that the homes are being purchased by people mostly from Mexico City and Queretaro that use them on weekends.  So far, we see that the developments are quiet and without cars or people.  

We have had a visitor in town, our friend Darren from Mexico City.   This morning we picked Darren up and went to the Sunday market on the exit to Queretaro.  His first comment, "the town is quiet and full of gringos during the day.  At night, it comes alive with Mexican tourists that hit the bars and restaurants".  When I use the word "bars", I'm not referring to cantinas but semi-nightclub/restaurant bars where people go for appies and drinks.  I'm sure it can get crazy at times.

We went to the Saturday gringo market.  Most products are organic (?) and all-natural.  We eat at this place all the time.  Quesadillas with any guisado (topping) are 17 pesos.  Other places have gourmet burgers for 120 pesos, no thanks.   The sign says, "Huevo En Su Nido", that's "Egg In Its Nest".  It's a quesadilla with your choice of guisado and a fried egg on top.  Yummy!

This is a huarache (sandal) with beans and toppings and a quesadilla. 

This stand is called "Moles Galdi".  They have the best mole we have ever tasted.  Fresh, clean and well-prepared.  Last week we bought "mole almendra" which is an almond mole.  I used it to prepare a spicy curry chicken peanut sauce over angel hair pasta.  It was a hit.  A bit on the sweet side but using tahini will cure that next time.

There are household duties to take care of here at home.  Feeding the cats, cleaning the cat boxes daily, a little housekeeping even though a maid comes once a week.  Like at home, if we put things back where they belong, minor dusting and cleaning, the house stays in order.   Plants need constant attention and watering as the air is dry and the beats down hard in the afternoons because of the elevation  We enjoying our time here and providing service to others.  That said, I am watching more YouTube videos of rvs on the road and their adventures.  

Friday, November 22, 2019

Blog Post Correction

Some of you read my blog post last night titled, "They Wanted Me Out, Yesterday". 

It was meant tongue in cheek and was still in the writing and editing stage.  I hadn't intended to post it, at least not yet but I must have hit the "Publish" button and not the "Save As Draft" button. 

Anyway, it has nothing to do with our housesits.  It was about an article I posted in a local forum.  They wanted me out 😉

More later. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pics of Our New Housesit - Relieving Pain

I haven't blogged as I don't want to bore people with everyday activities.  You can only do so much in one town although we keep going every day.  I'm not the type to sit around the house all day.  It's got to start with some exercise which I have been doing until today when we started with a gym.  The gym is nice and has a special promotion of 2 X 1.  It's cheaper than at home and has all the equipment we normally use plus 20 treadmills, ellipticals, yoga, and jazz classes.  I have to admit, I enjoy my speed walking through the town for an hour and a half and might just do that in the evenings as well.  Juan has had issues with his knees and that limits his walking.

Here are some pics of our current housesit and I will post more later.  We have the upstairs although we have access and use the whole hose.  There are two cats and lots of plants to take care of so that keeps us busy at home.

Every room has a gas log fireplace. 
 The terrace has a view of the Jardin.  We had drinks up there last night.  It was great!

Preparing to close up the house at home, I decided to clean out the gutters on the palapa.  Well, I did a good job until the end.  The ladder wasn't set just right and my shoe got caught on one of the rungs.  Off I went, 10 feet down hitting my head and my back on the column of the palapa.  I landed on my right hip and the palms of my hands.  I messed up my shoulder.  I went to the chiropractor before leaving town and it did wonders although I needed to follow up.  You know me, I didn't follow up.  Today, I went for a deep-tissue massage and it helped immensely.  Who can turn down an hour of massage for 250 pesos.  I have another next Tuesday.  I have to lay off of weight lifting using my arms for a week or two but I can still do cardio and lots of leg.

The weather has been the best.  Warm days and very cool nights.  In fact, we put the electric blanket on the other night.  That thing is like a drug and as I have said before, it uses next to nothing in electricity and works great off of solar and battery

The last few days we have been to a museum, the Sunday and Tuesday market, a hike around the botanical gardens, folkloric dance, and a nice dinner out.  With some almond curry we bought, I made a great spicy curry peanut chicken sauce over angel hair pasta.  I may do a couple of breads in the next few days.

Have to say though, I'd rather be parked behind some truck stop out in the desert in the middle of Coahuila with the rv.  That's life!