Tuesday, July 30, 2019

After The Party - The AirBnb - Food


Now, most of the family has left.  I saw my oldest brother off yesterday at the airport.  He looks great and he'll be 80 in a few months.  Does lots of volunteer work on a farm that raises food for homeless and charitable organizations, is part of the German Kolping society where he participates in all their events.  He lost his wife last year but has such zest for life.    My brother Bill and his wife Kathy left for their home in Maui.   My oldest sister Dorothy leaves this morning.  They drove from Reno.  We went by their hotel last night for a chat.   They will stop somewhere, location unknown, on their way home for a few days. Now it's just one of my nephews and his family and MIL.  We will go visit again today.  

We missed dinner last night with family.  We stopped by but they had already taken off.  We had seen a pizza place called "The Flying Pizza Pie" and they had a sign for a habanero chile pepper pizza.  Wow!  My head was buzzing for an hour afterward.  That thing was mighty powerful but oh so good.  We watched a Twilight Zone on Netflix.   Netflix varies from country to country.   We don't get Twilight Zone at home.  It was a fun evening sharing comments about family and who's who and other guests, also wondering what my SIL will do now although it has been almost a year since my brother went away.  I need to stop being so emotional :) 

The AirBnb has been like a real vacation.  There is a real estate office upstairs and a hair salon so at night there is no one and it is super quiet.  Double-paned windows make it even more so.  Here are a few shots.  This beats any hotel any day.

Today we head down to the center of town for a walk and then back to my SILs house.  We may check out some thrift stores and I am always looking for reading glasses at the Dollar Tree.  I have about 12 new pairs at home but I am looking for reading sunglasses now.  

Monday, July 29, 2019

Celebration of Life - Boise Idaho


My brother Steve.   You brought so many so much joy and happiness and you'll truly be missed by all of us.  Thanks for sharing so much with me and adding to my life.

It's been busy since we arrived in San Antonio and I haven't had time to post.  We left San Antonio on time Saturday evening.   American Airlines was able to change one of our seats to an aisle but I was in a window seat in a different row.   Nice chat with a couple from L.A. who are teachers.  

We changed planes in Phoenix with only a few minutes to change gates but they were close.  That was a pretty long flight however we both had aisle seats across from each other.  Our tickets didn't allow for seat choices unless we paid $36 per seat on each leg of the flight.  

The shuttle was waiting for us in Boise and took us three blocks to the hotel.  Holiday Inn is always reliable and we had a free night there.   I was surprised that breakfast wasn't included, I had assumed that as in Mexico it always is.  They had breakfast but for the price, we opted to go up the street for Denny's special.

Our Turo car was waiting for us but we were not too happy.   All of a sudden we were told that the air conditioning had gone out on the Smart car.  Okay, no big deal as the weather here is comfortable.  We took the car but I will negotiate the final price when we return the car.  This is a Turo car share where the owner lets out their car for a very good price.  So far so good and for the money saved, well worth it.

Juan, my brothers Bill and Bob and of course, yours truly!

Off we went to my SILs house and very surprised to see it fill up within an hour with friends, family, and coworkers who had known my brother.   Quite the celebration.   Many people spoke at the event sharing their stories as well as my nephew who looks just like his dad.  I learned a few things about my brother I didn´t know.   I guess that's normal as we have always lived far apart and only shared trips together.  

My oldest sister Dorothy.

It was a bit sad at times as this was the first time I could realize that my brother was truly gone.  He was taken so young but lived a very full life.  My brother and his wife had a wonderful life together and they have two wonderful children and three grandchildren.  They are a very, very close family.  My niece, until recently, was the director of the botanical gardens in Colorado Springs and my nephew a university professor.  They have always shared family vacations and summer with grandkids. 

I won't go on.  We will stay until Wednesday relaxing and visiting.  My brothers from Hawaii and Cincinnati will go home today and my sister from Reno with have lunch with us today before heading home tomorrow.

Our Airbnb is a dream apartment.  Very comfortable and well decorated.   Again, Airbnb and super hosts make our travels easy, fun and carefree.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Trip To San Antonio And Boise


The weather here sucks for the most part.  After returning from SMA the temperatures range from 100F to 103F.  Yesterday and today we have had heavy rains so the humidity is 250%.  I've been told I need to be positive so here goes.  Yippie!!!

Tomorrow we take off for San Antonio.  We had planned to stay at an Airbnb but our friend and ex-neighbor has a suite attached to his house.  It needs a bit of TLC but we will do that when we arrive.  It's on the opposite side of the house and has it's own bathroom, entrance and patio access. 

We'll take off tomorrow morning early and hope to arrive in San Antonio before 4 p.m.  The suite doesn't have A/C, or it did but it isn't working.  I found a 5000 btu air conditioner in the shed which will work perfectly in the bedroom.  We used that on our old Funfinder travel trailer.  I'll never forget that.  It sat in the window of the rv just right and ran off the Honda 2000 generator without ever revving up and would run for up to 15 hours on a single tank of gas.   You can't beat that.

Friday is my visit to the social security office to see if I should start my pension or wait until January.  Why wait?  I earned quite a bit this year from the U.S. embassy and want to see if I should wait until 2020 and file my 2019 tax return.  If so, I'll wait.  If not, pension here we come.

My Mexican pension is 12 months into the payments I have to make.  28 more monthly payments and I will collect from that too.  For those that may find that strange, let me explain.  In Mexico, at age 60 you can take retirement.  Or, you can choose an amount (not to exceed $2500 U.S. per month) that you would like to receive.  Based on the number of weeks worked, your contributions and that of your employer, you can make additional payments to increase your pension.  I decided I can use some of my U.S. pension to make those payments and then have a juicier check when I'm 64.  

Saturday evening we take off for Boise.   We will spend five days with my family and on Sunday celebrate my brother Steve's life.   Steve passed away in October of last year.  We waited so that all of the kids and grandkids can be there to participate.   Melancholy is the best way to describe my feelings.   Bringing closure to this is what we all need.  It's as if my brother is still with us.  

We got a pretty good deal on tickets.  Flying inside the U.S. is very expensive and from Mexico even more so.  We paid $349 each for a round trip from San Antonio.  It only takes a tank of gas each way from Monterrey.  The hotel of choice was $150 a night.  We chose an Airbnb for $45 a night.  The rental car, a Mercedes Smart car, is $12 a day with taxes and insurance.  We are using Turo which is a car-share website.  People let out their vehicles similar to Airbnb.   We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nothing Remains Static - Changes In San Miguel de Allende


We're enjoying the weekend here in SMA.  The weather is a delight and you couldn't ask for more this time of year.  The sun can beat down on you taking into account a sunny day and the elevation.  That given, the temperature is much more agreeable than Monterrey.  In the north, they are enjoying 42C and here it was 25C today.  At night, 12C.  You have to close the windows sometimes because you can get chilly.  I'm loving every minute of it and have absolutely no complaints.

Saturday has always called for a trip to the organic market.  The market was located next to the Instituto Allende on a piece of property owned by the Rosewood Hotel.   They didn't renew the lease with the organic market group and they were forced to move.  Now they are two doors down from the OXXO on San Antonio.  Not sad, but changes they do come and now it has lost its flair.  The crowd was much less than before, the air of the music, artisans, cheese producers, fresh vegetables as well as the never-ending food stalls has come to an end.  It seems very commercial and U.S. to us.  Still nice, we had some great food; a quesadilla and a tortilla with a fried egg and pork with sauce on top.  Someone was selling gourmet hamburgers for $6.50 U.S.  Yikes!  Whoever heard of such a thing.  Where we parked the car, there was a nice family restaurant with enchiladas with beans and rice for 50 pesos $2.50 U.S.  

As a side note, I have my doubts about organics, free-range, etc.  I can't find the documentary right now but here is a CBC article that exposes the truth behind some Canadian farmer's markets.  'People are being duped': CBC exposes homegrown lies at farmers markets "  I mean really, $15 U.S. at the market here for a pound of cheese?  Sorry, I guess I don't have that "acquired" taste. 

The Angela Peralta Theater (Angela was an 18th-century soprano known as the Mexican Nightengale. 

We attended the flamenco concert last night at the Angela Peralta Theater.  A wonderful place to sit and watch any performance no matter what it might be; folkloric dance, acapella groups, singers, musicians, and flamenco dancers.   I'm no expert on dance but I have seen quite a few flamenco dancers in my day but the expert sitting next to me said that if it were a competition they would have received a 4.5.   Overall though, with its history steeped in gypsies, Arab rule of Spain in the 8th century, it was fun and entertaining.  

What a great view of the city from where we are staying.  At night with the city lights, it is magnificent.

We headed home and up to the wonderfully delicious terrace that overlooks the city of San Miguel.  If we were rich gringos this would be a place for us.  The views, the light, cool breezes and the quiet that surrounds the neighborhood is more than indescribable.  We enjoyed a drink or two up there and had a great conversation.  Pea, the fur child we are caring for, joined us and listened in intently. 

Today is Sunday and we, as always, head to the "mercado grande" on the road to Queretaro or as others know it, La Luciernaga or Soriana.  They have all kinds of things from tools, to fresh produce to clothes and food stands.  We split a slice pizza, 30 pesos de carnitas, and come home with two fresh out of the oven brownies.  This woman had just opened up her stall and there were ten people in line to buy cakes, loaves of bread, and pies all at very reasonable prices.  Brownies were $.75 U.S., a slice of delicious pecan pie (that we bought to share tomorrow) $1.25 U.S. and chock full of pecans.  

The downside is that the old market no longer exists.  It was an intriguing labyrinth of precariously draped tarps, some with stands others with tables or just laid out on the floor.  Since we were here, they have constructed huge metallic hangars, for lack of a better word with giant concrete slabs.  It is definitely cooler, cleaner and easier to move around but it has lost its je ne sais quio.  

All of this is part of what change, advancing is all about.   Now if we can just get all of these people enrolled as tax payers and contribute their fair share.  

As a side note, I was surprised no one said anything about my "UFO" picture.  I found it intriguing to say the least.  As you can tell from the original and the close up, the object was huge.  I'm still researching it though.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Did I Spot A UFO? (Enhanced Photo 07/14/19)


This week I drove down to SMA by myself.  It was a beautiful drive and I had the opportunity to listen to talk radio in Spanish.  The topic is our illustrious president who has, in less than six months in power, plunged the country into a recession, implemented an austerity program that has cut all scientific research, given money to adolescents to study (sounds great but they are spending it on cellphones, alcohol, and pot) and has already had 19 cabinet resignations, two of which are for the secretary of finance.  And he wonders why S&P, Fitch Rating, Moody's, Bank of America and even our own Banxico have downed rated the country three times already this year.  

I took our most popular route across the mountains.  I didn´t want to take pictures while driving so I only got a couple:

You can see a white speck in the middle of the picture above the third peak to the right.

I attempted to enlarge it but not very successfully.  If you can do it, it appears to be a square-shaped box with a pyramidal top. 

There was not a of traffic on Hwy 57 from San Roberto but it was a long enough day I decided to stop and continue on the next day.  I also got a late start but figured, I'm not in a hurry anymore. 

So we are housesitting for the next week.  Juan took the bus down last night and arrived today (Friday) around 8 a.m.  With our new senior discount card the fare was only 500 pesos and they served him a beverage, sandwich and snack plus individual movie screens and headphones.  What a deal!

Our friend Barbara took off on a short trip to the U.S. and we are guarding the fort and caring for her precious fur kid Pea.  She's a dream but she misses her mom.  We take her for walks and try to keep her entertained.  

The house is located in a small compound and it is very comfortable, well-decorated and we could stay forever.

Tomorrow is a hike in the morning and in the evening a flamenco concert.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Tioga and George Are Slowly Drifting Away


This will probably be my last post about George.  I still go back to his webpage and read a blog post or two.  It's a great library of information and I'm just not sure how much longer it will be around for us to read.   Check it out if you get the chance Tioga and George Vagabonders Supreme

I noticed last week that George's blog has dropped off the main page of Croft's Wanderings.  It's still there but you have to go into the "show all" at the bottom of the list.   Some good reads in there and good memories.

Here is a mail I really liked from George.  He and I had talked about his first trip to Mexico.  In February 2005 he had just returned from his first Mexico adventure.  I wrote to him about some of the comments viewers had left.  This is what I wrote and his response in February 2005.

Date sent: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 08:44:26 -0800 (PST)
From: CMB 
Subject: Back Home
To: george@vagabonders-supreme.net

Thanks for a great three-month adventure. 

I hope that everything is fine with your son and you are back in business, boondocking that is. 
I see you are getting Ms Tioga ready for the road again. 

Your trip plan sounds like a real winner.

 I am heading out again on March 20th for two weeks. All boondocking. 
 First heading back to Hacienda Viejo Padilla (Tamaulipas), Barra El
 Tordo (coast of Tamaulipas), Tajin Ruins (Veracruz) there is a great 

 festival there I want to check out, heading back to the beach and home
 again. Two days here to enjoy the newly remodeled pool, and then off
 to San Antonio, TX for the TESOL international convention.
 I'm glad you enjoyed yourself and had no problems in Mexico. It would
 be good to see a page on your blog dedicated to this trip with a brief
 on what was good and what was difficult. It then could be used as a
 tool for those wishing to venture down here without discouragement from

 the naysayers.
 Keep up the good work.
 Chris Bauer

Not sure why, but it took me three years after this mail to start my own blog.  Here is George's response:

"George S. Lehrer"  wrote:
Hi Chris,

I understand what you would like to see in a webpage. And, I
understand why you want such a page.

My blog speaks for itself, Chris. Those who read my blog understand
what a wonderful place that Mexco can be for an RVer. Those who
are looking for negatives about Mexico, will always be able to find
those negatives.

There is a certain amount of xenophobia concerning Mexico. My blog
opens up the reality of Mexico, so that readers can see what actually
happens to an RVer while visiting all over the Baja.

Do you agree?


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Sad Side of Social Media


We've been planning a trip to San Antonio.  From there we will fly to my brother's memorial service at the end of July.  We've made a lot of friends there over the years but like everything else, distance and time take its toll.  

Most of our friends are people we met while living there in the early 80s and some were friends of friends.  The majority, like my family, are much older than we are and don't use social media such as Facebook.

Our friend Rickie had been ill this last year with lung cancer although she was never a smoker.  We kept in touch via FB sending messages back and forth and sometimes a couple of months would go by.  

My last conversation with her was on March 8, 2019.  She said she stopped the chemo treatments to reduce the inflammation which worked and she was feeling just fine.  Last night I sent her a message to let her know we would be there and that I had hoped she was doing well.  Considering she wasn't a big social media fan I wasn't surprised not to get an answer right away.   I got a FB message this morning saying it was her birthday and I had started looking for a great picture to post but instead I went to her "wall" to see what others had posted.

Rickie had passed away on May 18th in the evening.   Her husband doesn't do social media but her son had posted a message to someone else who had asked about her.  

The downside to social media is just this.  I have friends who died 10 years ago but no one has updated or turned off their accounts and they still receive birthday greetings. A sad commentary about social media and being in touch, isn't it?