Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ending 2020 With A Bang 

Sometimes blog titles can be hard to come by and also misleading.  I've seen some that really attract my attention only to find out it's not what you would have thought.  The year has come to a close and I have to say, all things considered, it has been a good year.  I retired in March and received my U.S. pension.  My Mexican pension is only eight months away and it's almost a double bonus as I will not be making those additional contribution payments.  

We've done a lot of maintenance around the house, mostly painting and small repairs.  We remodeled our kitchen and the pool and resodded areas of the yard with still more design work to go.  I read a lot of books and watched many, many movies.  My conclusion on movies is that I am a film noire fan.  We have really enjoyed watching movies from the 30s through the 50s along with Alfred Hitchcock Hour, One Step Beyond and Boris Karloff's Thriller series.  

Lots of aromas have come out of the kitchen including new dishes, cakes, cookies and most of all whole wheat breads.  We beefed up our spice cabinet and tried new recipes.  Even with my 10 km power walks and weight routine I managed to put on 8 pounds.  But, that has always been a yo-yo thing for me ever since I was a kid.  Some are born thin, some are born chubby.  There's always that one person who says, "I can eat whatever I want and never gain a pound".  Well good for you!  

One interesting yet puzzling thing that happened recently is the stimulus check coming from the U.S. government.  When I applied for social security they interviewed me via telephone from the U.S. consulate in Cd. Juarez.  I started receiving direct deposits and have not had an issues with my account.  Two weeks ago, I happened to see a letter in our mailbox by the gate.  It was from the U.S. government saying that I was approved for a stimulus check.  

Tell me if my logic is right or wrong.  The letter dated November the 6th (Mexico has a lousy postal service and it took seven weeks to arrive) states that I was approved for the stimulus.  It also states that they will be sending me a check in the mail to my Mexican address.  WHAT?  I've given up on all government, doesn't matter what country it is.  Amazing. 

We've been zooming with friends and family lately and that seems to work out well.  We find though that one on one works best, be it individuals or couples.  Too many screens and too many people wanting to talk at the same time.

As for Christmas, we don't usually buy gifts anymore.  We have everything we need and we don't buy much in the way of clothes.  I did buy my yearly supply of underwear and socks and that will work for another year.  However, I couldn't resist ordering online.  It's nice when someone rings the doorbell and delivers a package.  Juan received an Adidas jacket and some airpods for his phone.  I got a Smart watch to track my exercise, blood pressure and pulse among other things.  It works really well and the blood pressure matches 100% to our BP machine.  Our caravan to the south of the state took off without us because of the virus.  We did manage to send clothing we collected along with lots of groceries and water.  That's the best we could do this year. 

One more homemade pizza to make for dinner tonight and that will be it for a while.  I have to admit, my big downfall the past few months has been cheese.  It's not good to have it in the house.  Another rule we are trying to put into effect is for Juan not to go get the newspaper, or stop for something "essential" and then walk in the door with all kinds of evils we don't need to eat.  

I could go on and I guess posting every couple of days would be better but life at Quinta Aruanda doesn't change much from day to day.  

Have a wonderful New Year, this one's been good but it will get better.  We're looking forward to the vaccines and getting out on the road as time heals the pandemic.  Be safe, wear a mask and keep away from others.

Mexico now has 125,000 COVID deaths as I had predicted and the U.S. 335,000.  The globe is at 1,800,000 and we are still in the beginnings of the second wave.  

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Interesting How Some Things Change

I have to admit that sometimes I believe we live in a backward society here in Mexico.  Oversized shopping malls that the middle and upper-class flock to and just down the street a mercado rodante or street market.  Monterrey's avenues and boulevards are jam-packed with new cars including Teslas, Ferraris, Lincolns, and Cadillacs and on the edge of town, a horse or donkey is pulling a cart.  

Here we sit during the COVID crisis, ordering groceries, gifts, and necessities online.  I recently ordered a spark plug for our Honda generator, bed linens, and did Christmas shopping without leaving the house.  Yet we drive an hour south of our house outside the Monterrey city limits and people live (quite well) in cabins with fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

I told you recently about the saga of the Best Buy electronics retailer and the closing of their 52 stores in Mexico.  A lot of very disappointed Mexicans.   We had also purchased a new printer on the cheap.  It's one of those HP $50 USD jobs.  We had purchased it on November 12 and it sat here in a box and never opened.  I kept saying, "open that box and test the printer because the guarantee is only 30 days".  It was never opened until December 13 and was after the announcement of the store closing.  It didn't work from the get-go.  The rollers wouldn't pick up the paper.  We fiddled with it but no go.

We attempted to return it saying that all the stores have been closed on weekends as part of the COVID lockdown and we were only a calendar day late.   They wouldn't buy it because unbeknownst to us, printers only have a 15-day guarantee because they are mechanical products.  We came back home and I never made a big deal out of not testing when we first got it.  We rarely print anymore but we do scan and make copies.

Juan wasn't going to accept defeat and throw $50 down the drain.  I thought it was a worthless venture as the stores are now closed and it just sounded like a huge waste of time.  He got on the phone with HP in Mexico City.  They have a major call-center there and a help desk.  The first guy helped him run some diagnoses and determined that yes, it was a bad unit from the factory.  

Put on hold for a short period, he came back and asked Juan if he could hang up, attempt to print something but take a video of it on his phone and send it via email to him.  That took a few minutes and the phone rang.  The technician confirmed the call center operator's diagnosis.  He asked us to hold again and said he would talk to a supervisor.   Next thing we know he gave us instructions via email and said a new printer would be shipped in 15 working days.  Kind of a "well that's fantastic" and an "arghhh" for waiting so long to get it.  

Tuesday night at 8:45 we were watching a movie and I heard the doorbell ring.  We had the bedroom door closed and the television on so Juan said he hadn't heard anything.  I got and checked the security cameras and lo and behold there as a DHL van sitting in front of the gate.

The delivery driver had the new printer!  We exchanged printers, he slapped on some pre-printed labels, and off he went.  We were shocked.  less than 3 working days.  We can't find anyone to fix an electric outlet, replace a few patio floor tiles, or chop down a tree unless we hire someone from Monterrey or pay through the nose and that still takes up to a month to get it done. 

It's an odd place sometimes, but you've got to love all of the contrasts, the culture, and the people.  After 35 years of living here, it can still surprise me sometimes how diverse it all is.  

Friday, December 18, 2020

I Was So Wrong About COVID In Mexico

My apologies to the Mexican government to speculate over the depth of the virus in Mexico.  I reported two months ago that Mexico would reach 100,000 COVID deaths by the end of December.  I was so wrong.  

It is now 116,487.  16,487 just doesn't sound like much when the total is over 100,000.  Take away the 100.000 and the 16,487 looks quite large.  That is still 3,000 more than in Canada for the nine months of the pandemic.  The 1985 Mexico City earthquake numbers were under 10,000 in one event.  

Our illustrious president Dingus has now decided that the pandemic is real and isn't getting any better. He still refuses to tell people to use a mask but that they should social distance and stay at home "when possible".  We are on a very slippery slope.

I hope you don't mind me sharing these things with you but I don't think this information is disseminated in English-speaking countries and if it is it doesn't make the news.  For the U.S. and Canada, it is vital as we are neighbors and share economies, trade, and both legal and illegal immigration.

One giant political reform we were able to dodge this week was the Reforma de Banxico.  Banxico is our federal banking regulator similar to the Fed in the U.S.  The idea behind the reform was to allow dollars to come into Mexico, mostly from Mexicans working abroad, but without having to prove the origin of the dollars.  Estimated remunerations from Mexico for 2020 are estimated at 40 billion USD.  Other countries raised the red flag weeks ago saying it could open the door for money laundering.  That was the final decision made by the Senate this week saying cartels would definitely take advantage of the system.

I have a theory, not a conspiracy theory 😎.   Since the early sixties, socialist dictators have belonged to a circle that meets every year mostly in Cuba.   These have included Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Cuba, China, North Korea, and even Romania.  They support each other and that is proven with the exile last year of Evo Morales.  First, they shipped him here to Mexico, then to Cuba, and after, off to Argentina.  

Their goal is to make Latin America a socialist continent.  So far, they have failed with Chile and Ecuador but are feverishly working with Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia.  I see president Dingus pressing for the reform.  He would allow dollars, without known origin, to be deposited into Mexico's private banks.  After a few years, he could easily prove that they are money laundering operations for organized crime and politicians.  Then he would move in and ----  nationalize banks which is the next step in the seven-step recipe for dictatorships.   These steps were outlined by Hugo Chavez from Venezuela.  Sounds cuckoo right?   History repeats itself.

On to lighter and merrier events.  The weather has been between 1C and 4C at night for the last two weeks.  Another week of it to come and maybe below freezing on Christmas Eve.  I'm happy because along with the cold temperatures and extremely dry weather we have a clear view of Cerro de la Silla or Saddleback Mountain in Monterrey. That's 23 km away.  Amazing.

On my daily power walks, I now have a tag along.  He belongs to one of my neighbors.  He used to try and attack me.  Then for two weeks, I would walk by and he would literally put his nose up at me as if I wasn't there.  I would talk with him, extend my hand and he wouldn't look at me.  Now the little guy just follows behind me back and forth for an hour and a half.  Someday, I hope to have him eating out of my hand. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Christmas 2020

You can tell by the woodwork and just about anything else made of wood has been restained and varnished or oiled.  That was my Covid project for two months including repainting the inside of the house a wall at a time.  Who says you can't survive during a lockdown?   I'm not sure if I mentioned it in the last blog but I am doing even better than when I went to the gym every day.  I'm not as big as I was but I am happy with the results.  Maybe I'll do a pic like Kevin and Les have done 😅💪

The really big news is that the vaccine is on its way and the vaccinations will begin soon.  I know it's not the end of the road for the lockdowns, precautions, and being safe but it is a great start to what will be one heck of a new year.  We are expected to get ours sometime in March according to the schedule.  We're itching to go somewhere and probably a boondocking spot.  The trailer is more than ready and so are we.

You wouldn't know by looking at the picture above that today is December 12, 2020.  The leaves just never seemed to want to leave the trees and the grass has never looked better.  One thing we did since changing gardeners (our longtime gardener retired), is we keep the grass longer.  It requires less water and endures higher as well as lower temperatures.  The previous gardener cut it very short to keep from having to cut it so often.  We seem to have more squirrels as well and that is not related to any of this other than to comment that I have made friends with one of them.  I call him/her, Sally.  She meets me in the mornings when I go out for exercise and follows me for a bit on the overhead telephone cables.  In the afternoon when I'm out in the yard, she comes to see me for a treat I give her and have some water.  She's not very close yet but little by little we are making friends.  Yes, I know it's probably just the food but I can pretend.  

I took this the day they laid the sod.  They hadn't yet covered with compost and it looked a bit ratty.  Now, two weeks later, the grass has grown and melded with the surrounding turf and it is just about ready for a trim.  So we're happy with the work they did and it beat doing it ourselves. 

I've been baking as well.  Made another great loaf of whole wheat bread and a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Having not eaten out since March we have become even better cooks trying new recipes and cooking all our meals at home.  An occasional pizza which we split into four meals and freeze.  I sure miss eating out, we have so many favorite places for tacos, local Regiomontano food such as machacado y turcos and of course our favorite Italian restaurants.  That will all come back with time.  

Santa Claus is on his way!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Nuevo Leon (Monterrey) In Weekend Lockdowns For December

My niece Virginia, married to my oldest nephew, went to a family celebration of life for a brother who passed away last year.  They couldn't wait.  Her uncle died last night from COVID.

Our excellent state Secretary of Health, Manuel de la O along with our governor Jamie Rodriguez, made the decisión to lockdown the state of Nuevo Leon every weekend for the month of December.  That includes the following:

  •  Supermarkets closed
  •  Restaurants, no dine-in or take-out, only home delivery
  •  Bars closed
  •  No Christmas parties
  •  No party romos
  •  Churches are closed
  •  No peringinaciones (pilgramages to the virgin of Guadalupe)
  •  Ley seca, no alcohol sales
Only gas stations and convenience stores are open with sales restrictions.  We were warned and nobody wanted to follow the rules so here we are.  Now everyone is p------ and moaning including big businesses.  Well, we have had eight months to figure this out and come up with a strategy.   Eight months!  Nobody did anything to prepare and we all know that this will last for at least three years.  The scenario is going as the virus has planned for the last 2238 years (recorded history).   What could businesses have done?  Developed strategies to reward people for good behavior, provide free rapid testing, créate permanent safe spaces, more online benefits for placing and receiving orders.   

Small local mom and pop shops; taco stands, small neighborhood businesses, mechanics, etc.,  could have set up webpages that are practically free, offered discounts to online buyers, free delivery with a mínimum order, hung banners advertising their webpages.  Nothing was done because no one took this seriously.   The American continent now has 850,000 COVID deaths and by the beginning of 2021 that number will likely hit 1,000,000,  That's right, one million dead people from Canada to Chile.  

I'm glad the world isn't on my team because I would be running with the ball and they would be sitting there doing their own thing.  In other words, nobody really cares about anyone but themselves.  We have spent the last 100 years living the high life with modern inventions, the age of technology, computers, internet and now social media.  George Bush Sr. was called the "me" generation.  That turned out to be a lie because we are living in the midst of a "me" annihilation.  Everyone is out doing their own thing and to hell with anyone else.   If I pass away during this pandemic from some other ailment, well, that's just history.  

I've got major computer problems.  Best Buy Mexico has 52 stores here.  We had a great policy with the Geek Squad for one year.  I took my laptop this week for a cleaning and to check the mouse pad.  Guess what?   Best Buy closed all their stores here in Mexico two days later.  I don't know if I'll get my laptop back.   Not good  and  not happy.  We have been calling but the phones just ring and the local news says the stores are not reopening.

It's been cold here this week.  Down to 1C 34F, and it will continue into the next week but warming up during the day and around 6C at night.  Good thing we got the LP radiant heaters checked and clean.  I don't like be cold or hot.  I have never slept with a hat on and never will, not in my line of thinking.  If I'm going to wear a hat to bed I'd might as well sleep outside in a cardboard box.  I'm the biggest sissy in the world when it comes to being uncomfortable.  Life's to short for suffering.  

I need to go, I'm supposed to be baking bread.  Be safe, stay home and read a book, paint a wall, do some yard work, knit, sew, work in the wwoodshop, wax the car whatever it takes.  Wear your mask.  Remember, BE THE EXAMPLE. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Thanksgiving That Was 2020

Update:  Our friend Irma passed away last night after six weeks on a ventilator.  QEPD

The days are passing and this year has flown by.  Who would think that, when you spend all of your time at home?  This isn't the first time in history and it won't be the last.  The first recorded pandemic goes back to Athens in 430 B.C.  This will happen again and just like today, many people will die and we'll go on and it will become part of our past.  Sad though that in the 21st century we are losing so many lives to ignorance.  On the American continent from Canada to Patagonia, 725,000 human beings have died from the virus.  I do know that in Mexico six national ex-secretaries of health have agreed that the actual number is 285,000 in Mexico.

The sad news today is that our long time friend, Irma, is now on a ventilator and in critical condition.  She is not expected to live.  How did she get the virus?  Her brother came from Texas to visit her.  He crossed the border into Mexico with no COVID testing, temperature check, nothing.  Funny isn't it?  The Mexican government has agreed with the U.S. and Canada to keep the border closed until December 21st but the Mexican border has never been closed.  Americans and Mexicans who are U.S. residents are traveling back and forth freely.  Turns out, Irma's brother was positive.  He's back home and recovered but he has left his sister to die here in Mexico.   We have the government to blame for not doing its job.   As I have said, we are averaging one friend or colleague every two weeks dying from the virus.  One is too many.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos of nomad rvers who rake in the money producing rving videos.  They have what they call tribes and even though the members come and go and meet up again, they use no protection.  This is a statement from the online Arizona tourism webpage.  "As of November 2020, there are no restrictions or Covid-19 testing requirements for individuals visiting Arizona".   You know what, it's selfish, ignorant, and pure bullshit.  Apart from politicians, business owners should be fined and some even jailed but the real burden lies on the general public.  As I have always said, on this blog no one is banned, deleted, or chastised for their views or comments.

We spent Thursday fixing dinner.  With just the two of us, we opted to stuff a chicken.  I guess I make a pretty good stuffing.  Last year at Barbara's in SMA, we left dressing at her house and said we'll be back for leftovers.  We waited too long!  She didn't have any left.  We've been picking on ours since Thursday.  Yum!  Juan made his delicious green bean casserole with new potatoes, bacon, and mushrooms.   Of course, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.

I also made some yeast rolls for dinner.  Here they are popped in the oven.  The yeast was bad so they didn't rise as much as I had expected but they sure turned out good.  We're not complaining.

We also rented White Christmas which I haven't seen since I was a kid.  We loved every minute of it.  Good music, dancing, storyline, and cast.  I really enjoy classic movies.  I rented this one off of Amazon.  Easy to do, you order and in seconds you can start watching it.  I connected the laptop to the flat screen.

We also Zoomed with my oldest brother who is over 80.  He and his girlfriend had dinner with his son and their family who live a block away.  All four of my nephew's family work and study from home and have rarely left the house.   They tested before Thursday as to not take any chances.   His other kids he said can't be trusted.  Some say Trump has told the truth and masks are not required.  I pray they don't get sick.

Be safe out there.  As the experts say, camping is a good Covid activity, gatherings are not.  Be safe, and lets get this over with.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

For Rvers And Ex-Pats Who Are In Mexico Now Or Are Coming Soon

Please post your comments.

1)  What provisions have you made in case you become infected with Covid while in Mexico?

2)  Should the vaccine become available while you are in Mexico, how will you obtain it?

I ask these questions because the cost of COVID care in a private Mexican hospital is between 980,000 and 1,350,000 pesos (49,000 and 65,000 USD).  ´

The IMSS universal care may take you but will charge you similar rates as a private hospital.  The death rate for intubated patients in IMSS is 78% and in a private Mexican hospital is 17%.

Should you want to return to the U.S. or Canada while infected will they allow you to travel via land or air?  I really don't think so.  Medivac maybe?

The Mexican border is officially closed until December 21, 2020, although the Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard has also stated they will not close it to tourism.  A pretty stupid statement.  

Be safe out there, wear your mask.  Dr, Fauci says restaurants are your worst enemy.  You can't eat with a mask on, everyone is talking, laughing, coughing and spitting food particles all around.  Not a good thing.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

We Just Cannot Let It Go - November 20th

This photo taken during the week is a giant picture frame sculpture.  It is located along the river that runs through Monterrey and if you pass it just right, you can capture this view of our famous Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Back Mountain).  For me, this represents the somberness we are now living with 5300 deaths here in Monterrey and now 102,000 deaths nationally bringing the Covid death rate to 9.8 per 100,000.  

With all due respect, I wrote this in the morning after listening to our illustrious president go on for two hours recounting the great Mexican Revolution.  Here is what it says:

A Brief History of the Mexican Revolution

Obregon and Calles killed Pancho Villa.
Venustiano Carranza killed Emiliano Zapata.
General Herrera (under Obregon and Calles) killed Venustiano Carranza.
Jose de Leon Toral, a Catholic leader of the Cristeros war (Catholics against the government), killed Alvero Obregon.
Then, Calles was exiled to the U.S. by Lazaro Cardenas.
And after 110 years, Mexico continues to live in poverty.

I'm not sure why we are still celebrating an event that has only driven Mexico even further into extreme poverty.  The whole thing was one giant power struggle.  The names listed above were the "heroes" of the revolution.  You know Pancho Villa and Zapata, the others were regional or national presidents in a very short period of time.  They all killed each other.  Zapata in the south and Pancho Villa in the north were actually rivals in the fight over supposed liberty.  

In our continued fight for our fair share of tax pesos in the north, the alliance that has been created between 10 states continues.  I always try to present facts such as those above and these below.  Sorry for the bad photo but I took it from the news this week.   This is the percent of the informal economy that exists in Mexico.  The north with the least amount and the south with the most.  Yet the south receives the majority of the redistribution of taxes.  I have found some very good statistics which I will be posting show the amount of taxes paid, types of taxes collected, and the amounts of redistribution to the states.  This chart though pretty much sums it up.  How will we ever overcome poverty?  I ask you.

With all of this free time and the cool weather that has been coming our way, I decided to fire up the oven to make a cake, some muffins, and this weekend more bread.  Here is a delicious homemade pound cake covered in the best chocolate icing I have ever made.  There are two ingredients in the frosting that aren't exactly secret but they are specific.  One was the brand of butter and the other the chocolate. 

Incredibly good and I doubt it will last very long.  What the heck.  It's winter, we are in lockdown and a few pounds will come off even though I continue to exercise.  Fauci has said that camping is good, not rving in an rv park.  So we may still get a chance at the end of this month to take off for a couple of weeks and do some "camping", hopefully boondocking.  I spent most of this morning getting the rv ready.  After we had the metal work done on the new battery and gas LP trays, I had some issues with the holes that were made to secure the LP trap to the hitch.  The holes were worn out and too big.  Today I used something similar to JB Weld.  Worked great.  

I cleaned the Mr. Heater and fired it up so we are good to go for cold nights.  We still remember waking up on that return trip from Mazatlan high up in the mountains of Durango.  No LP, no heat, and the temperature was -9C.  Worst of all, no way to make coffee.  That will never happen again!

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Things People Say

A couple of Canadians have shipped their rvs to the U.S. and then flown over to pick them up so they can continue south.  Here is the stupidest comment anyone could have made regarding people who will do anything to get around the rules.  

"This is funny.  Y'all getting riled up over people being resourceful and not breaking any rules."

True that no rules were broken except for those that show any sense of scruples or common sense not to mention morals and values.

Wisconsin is on fire with the virus and people there are heading down to Mexico.  Heck yes, come on down and spread a little more of the good stuff around.  We only have 98,000 official deaths and as many as 183,000 including unreported Covid deaths. 

The state of Chihuahua is on fire and even though Mexico City shows orange, it's more like reddish-orange and they are closing businesses again as cases are rising.  People can't follow the rules.   Fauci says, "stay home, if you have to eat out "one more time" before the big wave, eat in an outdoor restaurant and at least 10 feet from other diners",  Good luck with that.  

Fauci also says to take vitamin D and at least 1000 mg of Vitamin C.  Here's what I take on a daily basis.

Our good friend Irma who has been in the hospital for two weeks was intubated last night.  She may not make it.  

Landscapers start next week.  They will be burning patches of a weed invasion that has started to take over.  Then they will turn the soil, add new topsoil to those areas, fertilize and then put down new sod.  That will be the first step and I think we will hold off on the rest of the decorative work until January.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Autumn Leaves Must Fall (No Politics Here)

"Autumn leaves must fall".  Here we are in November and the trees aren't turning color but the leaves are dry and falling.  We had a good hurricane season which brought rain and well-needed moisture to the ground.  Now, however, we have been in a dry spell for four weeks, not a drop of rain in sight.  The air is crisp in the early mornings and warms up to the mid 20Cs during the day.   Open windows, fresh air, and light breezes throughout the day.  This picture is the everyday view of my power walks.  They get longer the cooler the weather gets but I prefer daylight savings time.  Darkness brings fewer people out and about and for me, that's what mornings are all about.

Covid update:  Our friend Irma is in ICU with the virus.  She is recovering.  Another good friend, Rolando, lost his mother this week to Covid.  She was 84 and lived alone.  Someone went to visit her and gave her the virus.  Today Mexico has had 94,000 deaths and continues to rise.  

I am two months behind on my cardio check up so I went ahead and pulled out my file and ordered some blood tests.  I went in early morning after a fast for blood work.  I did just about everything and my cholesterol is low, glucose I need to retest it was borderline, PSA extremely low, but one thing puzzles me.  I had urine tests and my calcium is low although we take a daily calcium tablet.  I just don't feel comfortable right now going to my doctor whose office is in a hospital.  Although he is the medical director of the hospital and says everything would be fine, in my head it's best to steer clear for a bit longer.

What to do during a two-week high alert lockdown?  Bake and cook!  I tried my hand at no sugar, low-fat whole wheat blueberry muffins.  They turned out great but they aren't sweet enough.  Warmed with a touch of honey makes them super delicious.

I'm not sure what happened Sunday morning.  You would think by the looks of it that we had family over for breakfast.   We just got "batter" happy I guess and made enough pancakes to last a couple of weekends.  Wrapped them up and put them in the freezer for future enjoyment.

Town square during lockdown when I went for my blood tests.  Restaurants are open and people were there enjoying the great weather but the plaza was roped off and business is way down.  Everyone was masked but they aren't locals.  Locals are convinced the have a "special" DNA that protects them.

I've mentioned before that people make assumptions based on a limited personal experience and I run across them on a daily basis reading Mexico forums, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube videos.  A YouTube couple claimed they couldn't find Dr. Pepper anywhere in Mexico.  Not that I give a rat's behind about Dr. Pepper as we don't drink sodas, but their experience was limited to a couple of small towns where they have lived over the last year.  Dr. Pepper is available in Mexico and Super 7 or Seven-Eleven has it on the shelves and also in supermarkets.

Another was the lack of building codes in Mexico and water shut off valves.  Mexico does have building codes but when someone decides to build their own house they have the opportunity to avoid those codes by being cheap and having a contractor who doesn't care.   As you know, we are always looking at homes for sale both new and pre-owned, and have never seen a house that didn't have water shutoffs under sinks, toilets, showers, etc.  Our house was built 25 years ago and all the water connects have shut off valves.  Opinions based on limited experiences are what can spread rumors about life in Mexico or other countries.

It reminded me of Tioga and George and his famous statement that ATMs were not available in Mexico.  Well, at the time in San Quentin, Baja Sur, there wasn't one when he needed it, hence the statement.  BTW, I checked his blog yesterday and it is still up and running.  I read what happened in the first week of November for several years.  The guy had a good life as a boondocker.   

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Black Sheep And The Ostrich (My Last COVID Post)

It's obvious that people aren't happy with my take on the Coronavirus.  However, on Facebook and YouTube where people make their living traveling day after day showing van life, tour operators in Mexico, and the tourism sector in general, think we shouldn't talk about the virus and that their income is more important than saving lives.  

These pictures are one of the reasons why the virus took off in the U.S. versus all other countries and is still in the number one slot followed by Brazil and Mexico.  This was air traffic in the U.S. on April 4, 2020.  Below that is European air traffic on the same day.  No wonder people are dying at a faster rate along with the pigheadedness of the general population not to follow the rules. 

Many rvers intent on coming to Mexico justify their travel by saying they will have no contact with anyone.  Here is an example of traveling "safely" in Mexico and stopping at a Pemex to fill up.  You can't pump your own gas.  You shake hands with the dispatcher.  Then when he finishes he takes your money or credit card and gives you change or returns your card that his greasy, grubby fingers have manhandled.  Where have his hands been?  He has probably been picking his nose, wiping the sweat from his brow, using the toilet without washing his hands (we know that most men don't wash their hands), and a myriad of other activities.  And then the rver wants to say, "all I'm doing is buying gasoline to get to my destination where I will hunker down in an rv park with other people who are safe".  Stupidity and sheer ignorance.  You cannot avoid touching things, having contact with people without masks, and who are not social distancing.

Baja has become a peninsula of controversy as well.  They want you to come so badly that tour promoters, hotels, rv parks, restaurants, and more are saying the Mexican government has declared rv travel into Mexico is "essential".  Boy, people will eat that S--- up and they are.  Heading to the border like bats out of hell to be able to cross before anything else might happen.  Are people that desperate to go somewhere? 

 I'm not sure what Canadians think of their PM, but he hit the nail on the head yesterday in a public address.

In an interview Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country is committed to keeping the border closed until the United States gets control of COVID-19.

"The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders," he told the hosts of "Smart Start," which airs on Canada's Global Television Network. “We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place." 

OTOH, I think it's pretty silly to make such a profound statement and then turn around and allow people to fly in and out of the country, the same as in the U.S. and Mexico. A Mexican friend just returned from a week trip to Houston via air. He is not a U.S. resident but has a U.S. visa. He went right through immigration and they checked his papers, took his temperature, and off he went. It was that easy.  Ludicrous.

Just got word last night that one of my great-nephews went to a party.  He was sick days later from COVID and passed it on to his parents and sister.  Sick for three weeks one with oxygen and a close call with being in ICU.   His 80 something grandmother lives with them but was isolated in time.

So that pretty much wraps up my posts on the pandemic of 2020.  Now they're just numbers and no one really seems to care much anyway.  I dropped out of Facebook also, only posting on a group a couple of times in the last six weeks.  It's all silly stuff as if people are looking for an escape.  I always thought Facebook would make a great social media center where important information could be disseminated.  If you get a chance, watch the Netflix documentary, "The Social Dilemma".  

Friday, October 23, 2020

Who Moved Mexico's Cheese?

"We're not interested in private enterprise, public enterprise is our interest.  The ones that should receive the most attention are public enterprises because we are public servants".

Where are we headed as a country?  Nationalization and possible dictatorship.  The above statement refers to the president's main interest, PEMEX.  He is going to pour more and more money into the dying oil industry as he doesn't believe in sustainable energy.  Also, he wants private initiatives out of energy production so that he may have complete control of the CFE electric company.  

Now on to the cheese.  As I mentioned the other day, Mexico's BBB ( PROFECO) played a major crackdown on the Mexican dairy industry removing and destroying millions of pounds of cheese, yogurts, and processed meats.  According to their studies, the products did not meet government standards such as; ingredients, labeling and additives.  Less than 48 hours, most of the decision was reversed as major dairy producers proved that their products met government standards.  One case in particular, Leche Lala, you may know the milk products.  The name Lala comes from the area of production in Mexico, "La" Camarca "La"gunera, which is in the area of Torreon, Coahuila.  Their cheese was removed for not stating the country of origin on the label although it did have city and state, an error that did not deserve to have their products removed from the shelf and destroyed.

This chart represents COVID deaths in Mexico.  Today we are at 88,000 deaths and according to the forecast below, we will hit 90,000 this weekend.  What will it be by the end of December?  This chart doesn't include those that died at home and received no official autopsy so according to six ex-secretaries of health in Mexico, we can easily add another 18,000 to 50,000 deaths.  People say deaths due to influenza are higher.  B.S. In the U.S. last year there were 36,000 deaths from influenza and in Mexico only 848.  That's a low number for Mexico, but that's what happens when you don't do proper reporting.

COVID cases are picking up as we are in our second wave.  Eight states have now changed to "red" again.  People just aren't getting it.  Rvers from the U.S. are planning their trips saying that Mexico needs tourism.  Mexico, like any other country, always needs business but we don't need people bringing more of the virus or vice versa.

I'm not against people coming to Mexico but now is not the time.   As much as I love rving and boondocking in Mexico, rving contributes very little to the Mexican economy.  The two major expenses are gasoline and rv parks.   Rv parks don't employ many folks and 41% of the money we spend on fuel goes right back to the broken down PEMEX oil company to keep it afloat.  Other than that, groceries are cheap and many rvers now shop at Costco and other big box stores.

I'd say the majority come here for the weather and the cheap.  Especially if you are boondocking very little money trickles down into the economy.  Many rvers bring their food and booze into the country as they can't find those relished treats such as cheddar cheese.  Some people literally bring so much that they can't make ice in their freezers and only purchase a few veggies here and there. 

I know this sounds negative, but it is better, to tell the truth than to be all cheery and happy that people are coming.  It's just not a good year and people just seem to not give a shit.  It's as if life is all about them.  Imagine if we all stayed home just for a couple of months.  If you want to help Mexicans, stay home, stay safe and wear a mask

Friday, October 16, 2020

Being Busy and Gasoline Prices In Mexico Will Increase In January

The price of gasoline that drivers see at the pumps is made up of five components: international references of gasoline prices, exchange rate, logistics costs, tax (IEPS and VAT), and profit margin of the service stations.

So far in 2020, consumers have paid an average of 7 to 8 pesos of taxes per liter of Magna, Premium, and Diesel gasoline, which represents around 42 percent of the final price, if you consider a final price of 18 pesos per liter for the Magna and 19 pesos for the Premium and Diesel.  We filled up yesterday at 17.88 a liter, the lowest price in months. 

The price increase will be via the IEPS tax.  IEPS (Impuesto Especial sobre Producción y Servicios) Special Tax on Production and Services.  The plan will be to increase this tax when the price of oil drops so that the PEMEX oil company won't suffer any losses.  This is exactly why the world does not need government-controlled businesses or nationalization.  

How does this affect you?  As a Rv'er or ex-pat, you will never see a major decrease again in the price of gasoline in Mexico.  Prices are and will fluctuate by each individual oil company or franchise that owns gas stations but the owners along with the consumers will be the big losers.

We are getting closer and closer to a socialistic regime and one that is not fair and balanced.  This week, the government cracked down on dairy and processed meats saying that there are added ingredients such as water and corn starch to name a couple.  These are commercial products that Mexicans can afford and are a part of the everyday diet and they will be affected.  An artisan cheese producer in Oaxaca exclaimed, "those products aren't even cheese".  Well, they certainly cannot compete with artisan cheesemakers but it does fill the stomachs of some of America's poorest people.  We have a saying in Mexico, "donde comen seis comen siete" or "where six eat, seven can be fed as well".  How does that work?  Well, when company comes to visit, you add water to your frijoles charros so that everyone gets something to eat.

On the home front, even I was forced to clean out my humble closet.  I found an old shirt that wasn't black, lordy be, will miracles never cease?  This is easy as everything on the left side automatically goes to charity and the 20 items hanging on the right go back in the closet.  That will happen on Monday as the yesero (plasterer) is redoing my closet.  20 years ago when we moved to this house (I thought I would never be saying that), the walls were covered in the old Hollywood style of rough stucco with hay mixed in it to give it that "look".  You could never match it so we had the complete house replastered.  Don't ever do that by the way.  But, for some unknown reason, probably laziness or stubbornness, my closet was never done and the false ceiling never installed.  Now's a good time and we have no contact with the worker as he has his own entrance and the bedroom to himself.

The weather is taking a turn today and we will have a wonderfully cool few days ahead.  Leaves are falling faster today along with the light breeze that brings the cool air.  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Mexico Got Caught In A Lie

Being at home we have taken to cleaning out closets and storage sheds.  One thing I've been carrying around in my little VW is pet supplies such as pet carriers, cat baskets and beds, medicines, and unopened dry food and cans of wet food for both dogs and cats.  We won't be having pets anytime soon again so we drove to a cattery downtown and donated all of the items including some extras such as cat litter.  What an eye-opener.  This woman has 22 cats at home, has neutered 190 cats this year so far, has over 30 cats in the cattery that are having some type of surgery or treatment while they are awaiting new homes.  She says she does pretty good with adoptions as people are more conscious.  A good thing to hear.  The best part of the visit was getting to play with the cats for a while.  I told her to call us if she had someone looking for a pet sitter. 

Mexico is now over 80,000 dead and it turns out that not all COVID deaths were reported.  The Mexican health department is now changing its methodology for counting deaths.   Since the beginning of the pandemic, Mexico has asked people to stay home if they were sick and they would send someone to come see them.  That rarely happened so many people died at home and because they weren't tested for the virus, their deaths were recorded as some other illness such as respiratory failure, pneumonia, heart failure, etc.  

When you die in your home in Mexico you need two things; a doctor and ministerial police.  The doctor writes the death certificate and the ministerial police confirm that there was no foul play.  There is no official testing unless the family wishes to have an autopsy which you have to pay for at a private hospital.   The question now becomes, How many people have died at home from COVID but we'll never know?  Estimates are another 20,000 from health officials, epidemiologists and virologists.   That would take us over 100,000 multiplied by 3X our rate would be higher than in the United States.

The talk now is that if you can't cross the border from Canada, you can fly into the U.S., rent a car, and then go come to Mexico.  For cryin' outloud, it's just one winter season.  Enjoy a few cold winter rv trips like Slim Potatohead on YouTube.  That guy gets a kick out of rving in the sonw at -20C.  

Other than that the weather is going crazy.  We've had two delicious cold fronts and now we are entering temps of 36C for the next week.  The trees are going nuts dropping leaves and then budding again and drying up.  We are now beating the record here for the lowest humidity ever.  The air is so dry you wouldn't know it's 36C and the nights are down to 13C.

Sunday, October 4, 2020


Friday, October 2, 2020

Should American RV'ers Travel To Mexico During Border Closures?

This is becoming a hotly contested debate.  Borders are officially closed to non-essential travel until October 21st.  That includes Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  Daily reports say that the Mexican aduana is allowing rvers as well as other non-essentials into the country and that the U.S. pretty much does the same depending on the border crossing.  Again, as I have stated many times, in the U.S. as well as in Mexico (I can't comment on Canada although I am hearing pretty much the same), each port of entry has its own criteria.

In Mexico, the aduana is currently under dispute because of disagreements with Presidente Dingus.  PD insists that the aduana is so corrupt that it requires a complete change of command.  He has attempted to put the Mexican Marines in charge of both land and sea ports.  The Marines as well as the SCT (Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transporte) agree that should not happen.  This is a main part of the discrepancy in Mexican border crossing rules for COVID as they are defying presidential orders.

Unless you are a Mexican or a Mexican resident, temporary or permanent, you need to stay home.  What part of a pandemic do people not seem to understand?  We know for a fact that we can flatten the curve within six weeks.  That was part of the plan by providing stimulus checks as well as extended unemployment benefits.  

You cross into Mexico, you pick up the virus, travel back to the U.S. and only aggrevate the situation and it works in the opposite direction.  For some reason, air travel is being permitted because aircraft can cleanse the air using HEPA filters.  Again, if you are a temporary or permanent resident, you have the right to move to either side of the border.  

The U.S. has over 200,000 deaths and Mexico will reach 80,000 this weekend.  Mexico has a third of the U.S. population, 120 million, so you could easily multiply the number above by 3 and come to the conclusion that Mexico is actually in worse shape than the U.S.  

Again, why is this so difficult to understand?  Why run the risk of infecting others?  The vaccine will be coming soon and the situation will slowly improve over the next year.  Enjoy your home country traveling as far south as possible to enjoy the warm weather.  Canadians are in an even worse situation because of climate but much better off in terms controlling the virus with lower infection rates and deaths as well.

It's like taking a year off of life.  Schools should do the same.  Cancel classes for a year as a good percentage of both Mexicans and Americans are not able to participate in online classes due to location, lack of internet as well as technology.  It would become part of history.  It has happened many times during world wars where students skipped a year or were behind a year.   

This is just my take on how it should be handled and as I have said, just because you can doesn't mean you should.  Governments are more worried about economics and not human beings.  I have now lost a dentist, a retired friend,  and seven retired teachers to COVID in our circle of friends.  How many is too many and how many are we willing to risk?  Every number has a family, children, coworkers, neighbors and friends.

Stay safe, wear a mask and "BE THE EXAMPLE".

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

What's Happening Now?

Two things now speak for themselves:

1)  COVID continues claiming lives but it's only a million so not to worry too much.  

"If they would rather die, they'd better do it, and decrease the surplus population".  

2) The presidential debate speaks for itself.  Entertaining, to say the least, and we had too much fun watching it.  And here I thought Mexico was in deep shit!

We finally found someone to help out in the quinta.  I had mentioned to a neighbor's gardener that we were looking for someone.  The next day, a kid of about 15 showed up at the door looking for work.  A good kid from Chiapas, his father pulled him out of school four years ago to come north to find more work.  They work in a place that offers parties for kids but they have a petting farm and show kids how to milk cows and shore sheep.  

First off, I told him he needed to bring his dad and give him permission to work here.  The dad came and he has never been to school, can't read or write, and helps out his 15-year-old son that works in the other place.  Very nice people and we made it clear that come January the son needs to be in school, which we will pay for otherwise he can't work here.  We will also enroll all of the children in the government scholarship program, Bienestar so that they can receive $200 USD monthly towards their education.

He seems to like it here and we made it clear that there are cameras here.  It's a gringo thing I guess but I feel more comfortable with them knowing it is fine.  In Mexico, it is common to have adolescents work for you so I guess it's not a big deal.

We are preparing things for our December trip and will take the rv out for a couple of test drives over the next months.  I have a couple of places in mind; our resort in Montemorelos and then a trip to Potrero Chico on the northside of Monterrey.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The End Of The Pandemic In 2023

I'm not a religious person but this seems to fit and drive home my point.  Feel free to disagree.



We are now seven months into the first pandemic of the century.  The U.S. has lost over 200,000 souls, Mexico 75,000 and the world total to date is close to reaching 1,000,000 deaths.  We live in an age of technology where information is at your fingertips.  Yet few people know what a pandemic is, a virus, and the scientifically proven methods to avoid COVID.  Instead, they prefer fake news, jokes about death and dying, laughing in the face of death as though they are immune.  Many people truly believe this is a hoax generated by world leaders for some dastardly gain and others feel they have a special DNA that will keep them free of the virus.  Many raise their voices and posters in protest saying their rights and freedoms are being violated.  It was played down by world leaders in the beginning and that downplay has been drilled into our heads.  We’re out in public, throwing caution to the wind.  We visit beaches, bars, and restaurants and attend mass group parties even though we know the dangers.


Fast forward to the year 2023.  The pandemic is coming to a close.  Herd immunity has done its work along with a slew of vaccines from different countries and pharmaceutical companies trying to gain even greater fame and fortune.  The death toll has now reached over 3,000,000 and many people say they never knew anyone who had gotten sick or died from it and they themselves are living proof.

In the initial months of the virus, world leaders attempted to convince the masses that it would pass, influenza killed way far more people, and that the Chinese created this virus for economic gain.  Some world leaders refused to wear a mask until corruption in their country came to an end while other famous presidents denied it existed and like all other things in the world we had to carry on even urging his followers not to wear masks.

We didn’t love our neighbor as we should have.  Human beings for the most part rebelled against the scientific and medical communities.  World-renowned institutions such as the CDC, ECDC and the CCDC warned us of the precautions.  The world has had a history of ten well-documented pandemics, their impact on human life and society, and also their demise and what helped to bring the world back to “normal”.   No one listened though.  

If we had loved our neighbor as we had learned in our churches, synagogues, and mosques, we would have followed the simple guidelines that may have saved those 3,000,000 souls.  But they were just numbers to us, weren’t they? They weren’t “our” people, family, friends or neighbors.  Religion, faith, and prayer saved no one.  We were all at the mercy of the virus or better said, Mother Nature.  We took our humanity and shelved it out of selfishness, defiance, and in some cases hatred for others.   Our own selfish gain for sheer enjoyment, entertainment, self-fulfillment came before our neighbor.

We could have saved most of those 3,000,000 lives just by example.  Would it really have taken away our rights and liberties to follow the three simple rules of social distancing, masks, and handwashing?  Human lives didn’t mean enough to say, “I’m thinking about you as well as for myself and even though I may not be a believer I am part of my community and what I do will be an example for others such as my children, neighbors and fellow citizens.  We could have all been heroes but we chose ourselves over others.  Yes, love they neighbor as thyself.

None of us will be here in another one hundred years and this pandemic will go down just as the others have; in history, forgotten in time, until the next one.  Then we will become those insignificant lives, those numbers, those stories of the ones that survived two pandemics and numerous wars and other such onslaughts.   

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sometimes, I'm Glad It's Over

Sleeping, I'm a very heavy dreamer.  I usually have three dreams in a row which I refer to as segments.  In almost all my dreams, one segment takes me to the offices I used to work in with Datapoint Corp, a now-defunct computer manufacturer.  I loved that job.  I started in Los Angeles, transferred to San Francisco for a year, back to L.A. and then to San Antonio, Tx.  Good people, some of who are my Facebook friends.  In my dreams, I am always walking around the offices although the offices change from dream to dream becoming larger and more modern.  As a person, I learned to grow up there.  I lived on my own, had a nice car, a house with hardwood fllors and a big yard, traveled two weeks a month, and worked in an office (in Los Angeles) by myself.  In San Antonio, it was a corporate environment and I learned about bureaucracy, favoritism, and discrimination.  That's another story.

In Mexico, apart from our language school, I always worked a second job.  In this case, it was as an academic consultant for EFL (English As A Foreign Language) publishers.  I always made it out to be a glamorous job.  It was in many ways.  I was fortunate to have learned Spanish fluently and that took me to Central/South America and the Caribbean.  As a gringo, I have to admit that I received special treatment.  Nice accommodations, business class flights in most cases, great restaurants, and some but little sightseeing.  The downside?  Long flights, hours in airports waiting, being shuttled from university to university, and some very exclusive private schools where teachers treated me like shit.  It was a self-esteem issue thinking I would belittle them (the Brits do that) and talk down to them.  What I really did was I used them to grow as a teacher trainer.  I took their interests, lack of training, lack of teaching knowledge to build my courses.  In other countries, smaller cities, and public schools, teachers worshipped me.  They felt that finally, they had an ally that would stand up for them and provide the training they truly needed, and I did. 

Juan and I always went the extra mile.  We were always studying new teaching techniques, reviewing new materials, testing them in classrooms and with teachers,  I still do even though I'm not working.  In fact, I'll be attending a three-day webinar this next week on virtual classroom techniques, issues, and solutions.  I loved what I did but it was time to stop.

Publishing had its ups and downs.  I not only had the role of an academic consultant but also as a proofreader, materials developer, and more.  Never an author though.  I was paid by the job and as I became better known, able to negotiate my pay to a certain extent. I'm an American and the Latin American market is dominated by the Brits.  If you weren't a member of the British Council, taught at the Anglo institute, or studied there, you would never be an author.  I only know of a couple of U.S. citizens that actually authored materials but they didn't last long.  Brits were the number one name on the book and maybe, an American or Mexican would take the second slot as a co-author.  Today, it's still Brits first, although more and more Mexicans are co-authors.  There is one major exception of a Mexican whose materials dominate the Mexican and Latin American markets.  

The biggest deception and one that made me change my complete outlook on publishing was a visit from a then friend and coworker.  The coworker came to the house for the weekend, we had really hit it off over the years.  We were out by the pool discussing language teaching, materials, textbooks, and the like.  I had mentioned that materials were important but also training teachers and the education of students was key.  The person turned and looked at me and said, "the only thing that matters is book sales".  That was in 2008.  That's when I knew I would never really play a bigger role in publishing.  I learned to like where I was and that was my calling.

 I was never bitter or jealous of anyone because I knew this going in, it was always very obvious.  I am referring to the six top EFL publishers.  I was happy to be a proofreader.   It was easy online work that I could do just about anywhere.  Even without an internet signal, I could download it and work on it later uploading it again when a signal was available.  I did that the summer we worked at Hacienda Contreras.  We did the chores in the morning while it was cool out and then after lunch and a nap I would work for four hours. 

In the end, I miss the travel side, working with teachers, and knowing that I did make a difference.  Earlier this year before COVID, I sent in an abstract to the national teacher's association which has a national convention every year.  I've given many conferences over the years and I loved the large groups.  However, this year my abstract and online registration of which I received a confirmation via email, was somehow lost.  I was sabotaged because I hadn't attended for the last three years.  The last year I did attend the association went through a major divide and there is a video of me speaking out.  I was blacklisted only to find out recently that many others suffered the same consequences.  One of the main reasons given was that we are older now and they are looking for younger faces.  The convention this year will be virtual and they are scrambling for speakers.  

Like any union, association, etc., there is always dissension, gossip, and backbiting and in publishing, it's a dirty business.  I was even paid for many years to spy on other publishers which is a common practice.  I'm happy though that I was an independent contractor and could pretty much pick and choose what I wanted to do.  

Sometimes I'm glad it's over and time to move with the rest of my life although it is on hold with the virus, much like most other rvers.  

Another piece of the puzzle.