Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Great Find - Reading A Part Of Tioga and George's Blog

I posted a comment the other day on George's blog.  I posted it on the final blog post made by his friend telling us about George's passing.  There have been 228 comments sitting there for months so mine would have been 229.  The purpose of my post was to see if anyone is reading or maintaining the blog.  George had said that if anything were to happen to him, the blog would cease to exist about six months after.

I went to check this morning as I had forgotten about posting the comment.  I had also mentioned in my comment that it would be great if there were a way to preserve his blog and his information.  I also included my email.  I guess I won't get an answer.

The interesting part is that for some odd reason, I decided to start reading the blog in the month of March 2013.  As I read, I stumbled across the post in the picture above where he says he discovered Hacienda Contreras from reading Bill and Carol, Kevin and Ruth and LivingboondockingMexico.  That was a surprise that I just happen to check that month with just a few posts ahead of it when I started to read.  

I was hooked for most of the afternoon.  As I read you could see the number of posts begin to diminish.  I knew I had chosen a point, be it subconscious or not, where his accident would soon happen.  After the accident and before he leaves for his apartment I stopped reading. 

What a wonderful life and what an inspiring blog.  It had me planning and thinking about where we are going to go in the near future when things open up.  In the next couple of weeks, our state is supposed to begin opening and we should be able to travel freely.  

It was a fun afternoon and it brought back memories of his adventures and I did remember most of the sequence.  He has left a legacy for online blogging and Mexico boondocking.  I realize that people have boondocked in Mexico for decades but not along with online blogging as it didn't exist.  

Thanks George.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Day Trip To The Mountains (Just About)

Up we went!

I'm not sure what happened yesterday but I made the comment that I was going stir crazy.  The next words were, "Let's go for a drive".   That didn't take long.  I had come home from my 10k walk and so I hopped in the shower and off we went.

A photo from a few years back of the Laguna with Juan, David and Cam.

The top of the mountain is called Laguna de Sanchez where there really is a laguna.  Some years because of drought it might go dry but it has been full the last couple of years.  Off we went up the winding road.  It's in pretty good shape except for one small area above the Cola de Caballo (Horsetail Falls).  The road was actually built over the waterfall so in heavy rains it causes mudslides.  When they clear the road it really tears up the asphalt and so about 100 meters is slow going. 

Although businesses were allowed to open up this week it has been slow going.  I'm sure that the tourist stalls near our house will not be back, it was just too long to be out of business and they weren't big businesses anyway.  The furniture stores are open and the buffets, well they will eventually reopen.  

As you head up the mountain there is another tourist area where you find lots of carved wood such as rustic tables and chairs and some small restaurants.  Again, a few people hanging out (no masks of course), but no one is really open.

With all the rain we've had, we passed a couple of good waterfalls along the way.

I'm not sure if any of you know, there is no beer in Mexico right now.  The breweries shut down and there just isn't any.  You may find the hoarders who are selling a six-pack for 600 pesos or $30 USD.  Lines are long and people of all economic levels are in the line.  In the south, a group of people died from drinking bootleg.  I checked the recipe to make vodka but it's too much trouble and wouldn't be worth it to me.  We stocked up in December for some unknown reason.  Juan had come home from SMA to take care of some business and there was a sale.  He bought a couple of cases.

A famous stopping point on the way up to the mountaintop is Puerto Genovevo.  It's way down in the canyon and can only be reached by four-wheel vehicles.  They call it a town, but there are only 13 residents.  As we came up to the turn off there was a blockade.  The police were stopping cars and turning us around.  There haven't been any COVID cases in the town of Laguna de Sanchez (250 residents) so they want to keep it that way.

Well, we did get turned around but we were able to get out in the air and the green.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

An Attempt To Defame Me

You never know who your enemies are until they strike.  I'm personally not affected by this story although the perp may have wanted me to.

As we all know, everyone is in a state of hurt over Covid-19 and the economic damage it has done to many people around the world.  Like most of you, I belong to many online forums, Facebook groups, and am an avid blog reader.

Like ourselves, many ex-pats as well as Mexicans are involved in helping those who need it the most.   Many are helping with money, food, handouts of all kinds, and more.  Lots of people have personally worked in the trenches.  Just like our small town, many people live off the land or sell things from small informal businesses and repair shops.   We too are involved in the community and do our share to help out as much as we can.  We won't enter the trenches because of our age and the danger that the virus presents.

That said, I sent the following email to a group offering some advice that I know is well-worth it and I have talked about it many times.  Yes, we need food banks, hot meals for the needy and most of all the elderly and children.  However, as a teacher in Mexico in the public and private sector, I know that the Bienestar program is heavily promoted and is offering funds to families in need as I have talked about here many times.   I've personally seen the program in action.  Who would deny needy children and elderly an extra couple of hundred dollars?

Here is the email I innocently sent in hopes that it would not fall on deaf ears.  

I did contact the DIF in the city in question and just as it says on the government website, 5000 food packages had been distributed and 20,000 more were on the way.  Imagine these food packages in addition to the hard work that Mexicans and ex-pats in the community are contributing would make a huge impact.

The person I sent it to is the commander in charge.  The person did not just forward my email but unleashed some information about me that was just not true.  Because of that, these are, the responses I have received:

This hasn't changed my mind about helping people though, and I insist that these programs work, are available but may not give those who are looking for some type of praise the kudos they want.  

 Shameful that this has happened and that in the end, the people who really count, the needy children and elderly will be cheated not by their government but by people who would prefer to be glorified than help other human beings. 

I have asked for a retraction of my email and/or clarification of the facts including my original email posted above.  It has been almost a week with no response  I will not divulge the name(s), city or communities involved.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Mexico To Drop GDP Statistics For Happiness Meter

Let me preface this blog post.  I'm not rving and I'm sheltered in place.  I'm sure that by now many of you are tired of reading about me cutting the grass, trimming the yard and washing the windows.  Over the next few weeks, you may find some of my blog posts to be on the political side, not all, or a mix of both.  Your choice to read it or not.  Funny thing is, viewer numbers have doubled in the last two months and more so when I present facts about Mexico and the systems we have in place.  

Here's a little bit of my happiness before I move on to the president's.  The path I take for my 10k walks each day.

Just by reading the title it's obvious something is rotten in Denmark.  The first two semesters have proven disastrous for Mexico in all senses of the word.  Obviously, Covid has taken its toll on many countries as well as Mexico.   S&P has dropped Pemex to a B- while Moody's has rated the government-controlled company to a -A or as most of us know, junk bonds.

Remesas or remittances from Mexicans working in the U.S. for the month of April hit an all-time high of 4 billion dollars.  The president is very happy about that as though it is a feather in his cap.  What that really says is that more Mexicans are working in the U.S. and sending more money than ever when they should be in Mexico making good money and doing what they really want, living with their families.  

I mentioned that the feds will take over state and federal trust funds.  The largest of those is FONDEN the FEMA of Mexico.  As of July 2017, FONDEN had a total of 683 million dollars in its trust.  FONDEN has been known as a preventive organization.  Under the new regs, the funds will be lumped together and then dispersed when needed but not reserved just for natural disasters.  When Monterrey was hit with its worst hurricane, Alex in 2010, FONDEN invested 4.5 billion dollars for the reconstruction of highways, bridges, avenues, and a breakwater called Rompe Picos.  Rompe Picos has since saved the city from severe flooding.

As the GDP begins to tumble for some obvious and not so obvious reasons, Presidente Dingus has decided that we will no longer count on the GDP to tell us how well Mexico is doing.  Yesterday in his two and a half hour verbal diarrhea, he has decided to create a Happiness Meter which he says is very common in Europe.  You know as well as I do that no European country has dropped its GDP statistics or doesn't take them into account.  Most of the above, especially S&P/Moody's ratings rely heavily on GDP.  Yes, there are lists that you can find online and I'm sure you have seen those list countries by their ability to be happy.  Mexico always rates high because we are just that way.  That is a completely different concept and one that will be used in the future according to PD.  When asked during the conference how he would gauge Mexico's happiness, his response was the typical one.  Well, I don't have one yet, but we are working on a formula and I will have it ready for tomorrow (today, and it wasn't mentioned).

I'm still not sure why many NGOs are still ignoring the use of government funds that are available for Mexico's poor.   I guess there is disdain by NGOs not to take advantage of the monies they beg so heavily for, not to mention the large NGOs that have six and even seven-figure salaries for their CEOs.  There are some that do it solely for the exposure and of course those that really care about helping those in need but either lack the knowledge of those funds and programs or do not have the language skills needed to work in harmony.

Another interesting post I will be making over the weekend or maybe Monday will be how much Mexican teachers are paid, their benefits, unions, and retirement pensions.  Someone mentioned it on a Mexican forum and that they are very poor.  Well, I am one of those and I can vouch that most of that isn't true.  I attempted to contact the poster but the person has their private message box blocked.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

It's Just Craziness In Mexico

A lot of information to share.  Supposedly, Mexico is in the peak of the Covid-19 and we are hoping for a flattening of the curve in the next two weeks.  Today we went to Costco to buy vitamins and the famous Costco chicken.  They put plywood around the columns outside the store so no one can sit there or loiter.  As you enter, they spray down a cart for you on the spot.  Inside the door, there are additional wipes for the cart as well as hand sanitizer.  People seem to keep their distance but there is an eery silence as you shop.  Checkout, as you can tell by the picture has plastic shields that are a meter high and cover the length of the checkout and of course the standard spots on the floor for distancing.  There is a slot in the plastic wall outlined in yellow so you can insert your card.  

As for craziness, Presidente Dingus now wants to eliminate Article 16, the right to privacy in your home, and your belongings.  He feels that one pair of good shoes is enough and we don't need luxury items.  He wants to allow INEGI, our Mexican census, to visit homes at random, enter the premises and do an audit of luxury items we have in our homes and also check our bank accounts.  Hugo Chavez did the same thing.

Proposal To Allow Stats Agency To Measure Everyone’s Wealth Meets Resistance

Old story but worth repeating.  I have a Venezuelan friend whose family lives in Caracas, Venezuela.  The family has an apartment in the city and has passed it down from the parents to the children.  A brother lives there.  They also "had" a piece of land, about the size of our lot that our house sits on.  It had chainlink fencing and a small homemade palapa.  One day, a census taker knocked on the door and asked if they owned that land.  The census taker said, "well according to those that live around there, you don't use it.  So now it belongs to the nation".  End of story.  No going back.

My advice to anyone thinking about moving to Mexico and living as an ex-pat now is not the time unless your investment is little to none.  Moving all of your household goods, buying property for me would be out of the question.  I imagine that soon, all ATM withdrawals such as Social Securitywill have an added tax and that would affect ex-pats living in Mexico on a budget.

As I have said before, our Senate is controlled by the president's party and they are on their knees worshipping him.  

Friday, May 15, 2020

Celebrating - Along With Some Other Things

Our new mode of grocery shopping.  We order online and then pull on the day and time we have designated.  They call you on your cell phone if something isn't available or to see if you may want a substitute.  We may just do this forever.  Imagine rving and two days before your arrival to a city you may pass you place your order.  Then when you get there it's ready.

It was a different kind of teacher's day.  I'm retired now, Juan still has this semester to finish online.  It's been a roller coaster as high school students can use a cell phone but are not well-learned on Microsoft Office products.  Working on an online platform requires a minimum, a tablet, and an internet connection.  Those that don't have an internet connection at home can no longer just walk down the street to a cybercafe because of COVID.

We celebrated by sleeping in until 6 a.m.  I watched the news, did my 10K, and then headed to the bank to make my contribution payment to social security.  One more year and then I will receive that pension.  Bank lines are long and I can only make the government payment at one bank, no other option.   BTW, I never did receive my stimulus check and I am still prepared to donate half of it.

Dinner tonight is a delicious ribeye, salad, and Edgar Allen Poetatos.  We aren't using the Weber.  In all the "goings through" we came across an old portable grill, we used for years.  It comes in a small box and you put the charcoal tray on the legs and then the grill.  We found some charcoal in the shed and decided to use it up.  A good wine to go with it, of course!

You may have thought I was being paranoid or inventing information but here is an interesting article.  Crime has soared in Mexico with the bad guys.  This article spells it out.  It wasn't more than six weeks ago that Presidente Dingus made a visit to Chapo Guzman's mother and told her he would do what he could to help her son.  Now, the bad guys are aligning with Dingus and are attacking what the president calls conservative newspaper and threatening them that if they should talk bad about the president they will suffer the consequences.  It's real folks, we are headed down the path of Venezuela.  The money being paid to poor families is only to create an alliance with Presidente Dingus' party which now has the majority of the senate.  He is preparing them for the vote for the next election.  All of this is part of what Chavez, Maduro, Morales, and Castro have done.  Mexico, as part of the T-MEC, will be disqualified as the rules stipulate certain Democratic rules that have to be followed.  If that were to happen, Mexico will become a failed state.  Sad, but very true.  You don't need to be political, just a good reader to find any and all of this information. 

As much as I love my life here and all that it represents, I guess it is true that nothing lasts forever.  

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Got To Keep Busy - Storms and Baking

WARNING!  Graphic Tornado Footage, Apodaca, Nuevo Leon May 8th, 2020

Good thing I finished the yard work yesterday.  I did the back on Thursday and the front on Friday, including trimming and cleaning.  It was hot, got up to 37C for a few days.  Then the windstorm came yesterday around 5 p.m.   We had tornados out by the airport and unfortunately two lives were lost.  Tornados in northern Mexico are a fairly new occurrence for us in the last 10 years.  We never heard of them or even considered them.   Now we have hail regularly when our truly devastating hailstorm was back in 1999.  Insurance companies were busy for six months.

Today I got up at 4:45 a.m. and after coffee and internet time I was dressed and ready to go out to do my 10K.  I got to the gate and the rain started again.  Bummer.  I don't do well being inside all day.  I had to find an activity to keep me busy.  I decided to make some homemade cinnamon rolls.

I don't have any cookbooks so I sometimes use the internet or in today's case, I made the dough for bread.  That's pretty easy from memory.   I did that earlier this morning when we had pancakes for breakfast.  You just throw the ingredients together and out comes pancakes.  They were pretty tasty s I like to add a bit of brown sugar and vanilla to the batter.

As you can see the baker is in the kitchen.  It didn't take long to put the ingredients together and waiting for the dough to rise is the true test.  It came out beautifully.  They are in the oven now and I will be making the icing in a minute to put on top.  

I am baking them in our new oven.  In the past, Mexican ovens didn't have temperatures on the dial, it was bajo, medio, alto.  This new Mabe has temperature control and I have the thermometer in there just in case.  Right on the button and the rolls are filling the house with some great cinnamon aromas.

As a side note, Presidente Dingus hired two persons for high positions in SAT.  That is our version of the IRS.  Neither has any fiscal experience.  PD says it doesn't matter, the most important thing is that they are incorruptible.  😎😎😎  Gotta love the guy, he's following in Venezuela's footsteps.  I figure we'll all be broke in the next two years!  Viva Mexico!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Things I Don't Understand

Do me a favor, and leave your comments about this post.  

The people who need to read this will never see this.  Why do gringos feel they have the solution to every country's need that they tend to gravitate towards?   They seem to have all the answers and other countries outside of Canada and the U.S. have governments that are shit.  

I'm not against NGOs but I really believe for some it is a badge to wear.  I recently read that a person was working in a rural area taking donations to poor people.  I couldn't disagree with this method at all.  We are doing the same here at home.  The person in question, after writing and receiving a nasty response, had stated that a woman with four children was living in a cardboard shack.  I get it!  However, wouldn't you have questions that go beyond that?  Where is the father?  Why does she have four children she cannot feed in a house made of cardboard with no running water or electricity?  

What would we do in Canada or the U.S. as there are people who live like that?  We would call CPS (Child Protective Services).  Why on God's green Earth would you want children to live in a shack without services in the sweltering heat?

I wrote the individual a letter and received a nasty response of, "I've been doing this for umpteen years and I won't read past your first paragraph".   I offered to make a donation but the person refused.  Two hundred USD goes a long way for a family of four.

The gist of my letter was to question why you wouldn't work with government agencies and also not spread the word to make sure that the family has the children registered in a public school.  Because if they are registered in a public school they will be receiving money every month that will help to feed and clothe them.  It was also stated that there are many girls, age 15, walking around pregnant or with babies in arms.  Doesn't that raise a flag to you?  Mexico offers free birth control pills, IUDs, condoms as well as vasectomies.  Hopefully, a person would want to change this be it the culture or not.  I respect women's reproductive rights.  How about handing out some pamphlets on the subject in Spanish provided by a government organization.

You all know I believe in the least amount of government intervention but when it comes to the well being of citizens those services need to be and are provided and essential.  

How will we ever progress as a nation if we continue to rely on handouts?

As a side note, Presidente Dingus proudly announced today that remittances from the U.S. were at an all-time high(money sent to families in Mexico from Mexicans working in the U.S.) .  Funny isn't it?  Presidente Dingus Socialista is against neoliberals but is happy to receive funds from them to the toon of 4 billion USD just in the month of April.  Boy, what a guy.  Dubious to say the least.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Montemorelos - What A Great Weekend!!!

It had to happen and I couldn't wait any longer.  I said there would be a surprise this weekend and there was.  We just returned from a weekend RV trip to our resort south of here about an hour.  We social distance from the driveway to the resort and back to the driveway.  It was easy because there is no one out there.  Some people have weekend homes but all of the resort parts are cordoned off including pools, clubhouse, dressing rooms, and showers.  They've turned off the wifi and the water to all the sites except for private homes.   They told us not to plug into anything, keep out of all roped off areas as well.  We did some walking, movie watching, sitting outside and talking and waving as people drove by with their masks on.

We followed the rules and had a relaxing weekend.  I was getting anxious at times being at home.  I've got to get out.  We had a movie night and watched Goldmember for about the umpteenth time, read newspapers and I am trying to finish a book.  

It is a bit eery being out in the middle of nowhere and it is like total abandonment.  However, the workers were all out even this morning (Sunday) keeping up maintenance on the pools and common areas.

One of the nice parts of the trip was that we got to try out the travel trailer after I had turned the hitch over to raise the trailer a notch.  There is still some sag on the SUV, which there has always been but the trailer now sails down the road very level and you feel the difference.  It seems to ride much smoother.   The trailer is now 12 years old and has seen some pretty rough terrain over the years but still holds together.   OTOH, the new fan clutch doesn't seem to do any better than the old one.  It comes on quite a bit and the sound is very, very loud.  It just doesn't seem right.  I think I may, as a last resort, take it to the dealer and see if they can figure it out.

Quite a few rvers have been here with us.  This spot with the eucalyptus trees is where Croft and Norma parked with us one Semana Santa about five years ago.  We had happy hour last night looking up at the trees and reminiscing about old times and good friends.   I really missed being in the RV and this weekend sure did the trick.  Thanks Juan!