Saturday, December 25, 2021

This Is What Happened Next And . . . Christmas Day

GoFundMe:  The donations were cut short by an error on my part.  I opened the GoFundMePage from Mexico but using my U.S. address and the glitch began and GFM wouldn't let me withdraw funds or make changes.  Once I discovered the error I didn't post it on social media.  Thus, only a couple donations were made and the funds could not be withdrawn because of my error with countries.  The funds will automatically be refunded to the donors after December 28th.  In the end, "M" was helped by us, friends, and family, and the issue was resolved.  

I took this in the morning, Christmas Day, at 10:30 a.m.  

I haven't posted since we arrived in Matehuala because we've been busy running around.  We left Matehuala Tuesday morning around 8:30 a.m.  A late start for us but we had some difficulty leaving the Oasis Hotel.  The paisanos (Mexicans living in the U.S. who visit at Christmas) with their loaded pickup trucks and cargo trailers, decided to box us in.  They wanted to park near the hotel office so the guard could keep an eye on things.  After they left there was still one more.  We couldn't wait any longer and he was parked directly in front of us bumper to bumper.  Juan went to the office and they hunted the guy down. He was very nice and apparently had been up for hours.  

Off we went.  Well, almost.  I had a small accident that I had been wishing for many years.   As we left I didn't wait for my guide and as I pulled out of the gate I smacked the rear awning arm.  There it was, dangling in my side mirror.  I've hated that thing from day one.  It's always in the way and like most travel trailers, no matter what you do, the slightest breeze will cause it to rattle and bang the side of the trailer just enough to keep you from sleeping or napping.  We wired it up and headed down the road.

We had the Glamping park set as our place to keep the trailer but one call the Hotel San Ramon changed that.  That gave us a very good storage rate and parking on the concrete area.  It worked out perfectly and is just five minutes from our house.  Well, just about everything in SMA is five minutes from our house.  We asked one of the workers if he could remove the awning.  He lowered his price after I told him he could keep the awning.  Good riddance!  I first smacked that awning backing the trailer into the driveway 12 years ago and several times since then.  Free at last!

I've done some painting and hanging of temporary curtains, some paint removal from the bathroom tile,  The patio wall was heavily stained around the top from water so I bought a liter of basic white, which matched, and covered it all up for now.  Looks good to me!  

We went to the Parroquia last night for the Christmas celebration.  We participated in the traditional posada ushering in Mary, Joseph, and the baby.  We walked from our house.  Walking at a normal speed with conversation took us 20 minutes from the house.  Good exercise.  People weren't out in droves but more than enough to make it festive.  

We will be celebrating the 40th wedding anniversary of our friends Michael and Carol on Wednesday with a lunch out.  Thursday Barbara wants to have happy hour in the trailer so we will spend the night in the RV park and then head home on Friday.  It's been a busy week but we got a lot done.  Still, no refrigerator although we have come close.  White is just not in fashion.  The ice chest has worked out well and we are making most of our meals at home although a quesadilla in passing is always a good thing.  

Last night on the way home I felt my phone vibrating.  I missed the call and decided to wait until we got home.  I called back and was so excited.  It was Peter and Linda from Canada.  They live in Ajijic and we met them eight years ago in Valle de Juarez.  We talked for quite a bit catching up on what we are all doing.  She said she decided to start calling friends she hadn't seen or heard from in a while.  Made me very happy. 

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and stays safe.  Even though I am enjoying my time here I look forward to taking the trailer to Guadalcazar next week and boondocking somewhere. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

On The Road Again - Christmas Trip

Parked at the Oasis Hotel in Matehuala!  First full-fledged rv trip in two years.  The SUV performed beautifully going over the mountains.  The fan clutch change out did its job.  I'll keep it short but we left at 8:15 a.m. and arrived at the Oasis at 2 p.m.  We took our time as the roads were still wet from the weekend rains and the fog over the mountains slowed us down.  We weren't in any hurry.

I'll upload the blue fog we saw today.  I've never seen anything like it.  The bluest blue you've ever seen.

Me siento como pez en el agua.

We here in the RV getting ready for a celebratory dinner out at Las Palmas.  So many great rving memories of rvers from all over the world that we've met.  We bought some new furniture for the house in Santiago so we brought the living room chairs with us for the SMA house.  Wow, they are great in the RV.  Wish we had room for them and get rid of that POS standard jack knife sofa. 

Being back in the RV makes us so happy.  You can only imagine.  Get ready for Christmas because Santa is definitely coming1

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Cheddar Cheese and Canadian Butter - It's That Time Of Year
Rvers are slowly tricking back into Mexico.  The forums and Facebook are buzzing with questions about permits, best crossing points, a first-night stay location, and of course, the most important, "What foods can I bring?

It's all good and whatever makes you happy.  Everyone has their reason for heading to Mexico in their rv.  For some, it's about staying put in one spot and enjoying the weather meeting up yearly with other ex-pats.  Others like to travel around and learn more about different places. 

Food is always an issue.  I've found several lists of what foods to bring, what you can't bring (supposedly), and then those that bring the whole house.  And that too is okay but you miss out on so much.  Mexican cooking doesn't turn out right using Canadian butter and cheddar cheese, it just doesn't.  Some don't like Mexican food either or that it's too spicy.  We spoke with some friends in San Miguel de Allende who could fit some of the descriptions above that thought all of Central and South American food was hot and spicy served with tortillas.  Nope, only in Mexico.  Cross the border into Guatemala and within an hour's drive, the tortilla disappears.  Chile peppers, no way.  Bland is as bland can be.

Oh and don't get me started on looking for imported items such as graham cracker crumbs.  Find a good substitute.  I make cheesecakes with Honey Kraker Bran and they turn out even better.  Take a course on Mexican cuisine while you're here or spend a day in the life of a Mexican woman who sells enchiladas.

Last night we were invited to our friend Suzanna's house.  She and another teacher, Jenny work with Juan and they are good friends.  We cooked on the grill, five of us, Jenny's boyfriend was the grill master.  Funny speaking about food, there was nothing on the table that wasn't Mexican.  Steaks, the most tender and flavorful we have ever had and I challenge anyone to tell us otherwise, came from 60 km down the road.  Guacamole, veggies, wine, and the cake, all were Mexican.  No Canadian butter or cheddar cheese to be found.  

It just seems like an obsession with so much time wasted hunting down things that, sure you might eventually find, but to what end. 

We went to McAllen for a booster.  Mexico will start a booster program for 65 and over this next week.  Of course, our Secretary of Health says it's not necessary as the Omicron variant will just make you stronger.  Good for him.  The border was much easier than we expected.  They only had one lane open to the bridge and we entered the like at 11:52.  Once you get across the bridge to the border agent booths then the line fans out into different lanes.

That was at 12:52 and the agent asked to see our vaccination records, passports, and visa permit.  Off we went not 300 yards and at the commercial strip mall on the left known as the Mercado de Los Chinos they had the vaccination tents set up.  We filled out the forms and no questions were asked.  

A little tense on the toll highway at two inspection checkpoints they had set up.  It appears they had been hit several times.  Spikes were strewn over the shoulders and the one blocked lane.  The soldiers kept moving traffic back and forth from one lane to another each time dragging spike changes to cut off the cordoned off lane.  Lots of shattered glass and car parks scattered about.

Yesterday's headlines in El Norte say that we now have five cartels operating in Nuevo Leon.  As I stated in a blog post or two ago, they're back and in full force.  Well, all we can do is work around them and hope for the best.

It was a fun trip though as it had been two years since we had been to McAllen.  We picked up a few things for family members and friends, nothing for us.  One SIL wanted a Fry Baby and Juan's little brother wanted some socks and underwear.  I'm not sure what the difference is between Walmart underwear in McAllen and underwear in Walmart Mexico is but he was happy.  

They look like hog troughs, don't they?

We drove all the way out to La Feria for some TexMex food at Don Beto's.  It was our favorite place when we were staying at the Kenwood RV park.  We got there and good old Don B didn't survive the pandemic.  In fact, La Feria looks like a ghost town.   Se we settled on a Chinese palace buffet and, well, we won't do that again either.  

As for the house in SMA, doors, closets and trim are all painted and rehung.  Looks great and we can't wait to get back there.  We have one Christmas party on the 18th and then we want to be out of here taking a couple of days on the way down stopping in Matehuala, Guadalcazar and maybe Santa Maria del Rio.

Took the cover off the trailer, cleaned out the fresh and black water tanks.

Got the cover bundled up just about the time a neighbor came by.  With a concerned look on his face he asked, "And what's that you got wrapped up?".  It did look a bit suspicious. 

We were looking for a place to store the rv for a week while we are at the house.  I posted on a SMA Facebook page and got a reply from Villa Zen Zonte.  They are outside town just a couple km from San Ramon Hotel and Rv Park.  She offered us a deal since we won't be staying.  Still checking around though but I had not heard of the place.  They offer glamping tents and other amenities.  You can check them out by clicking on the link.  Rvs are 400 pesos a night for two persons.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021 - Change Of Vacation Plans (Not Going To Zacatecas)

Here's hoping everyone is enjoying the holiday and of course Black Friday!  We're thankful for all our friends present and past and also for the opportunity to RV with so many people who like being on wheels and who have taught us so much over the years.  There are so many memories to recount of times spent in Veracruz, Hacienda Contreras, San Miguel de Allende, Texas, and all the places in between.  Let's hope we can put the pandemic behind us this next year and move with a bit more freedom and see some of you again.  We're itching to go to Spain and France and many other destinations.  Happy Thanksgiving!

We planned on going to Zacatecas on our Christmas vacation and then to San Miguel de Allende.  All that has changed.  There is a cartel war going on in Zacatecas.  The government is sending 3800 national guard and army soldiers to the area.  We were wanting to spend a week at the Sierra de Organos Natl Park but it is in the middle of the triangle.  You can see the statistics below in the two charts.  

We're not concerned about being shot but during these continuous battles, there is an increase in carjackings, extortion, and bribes as they need money to do their thing.  They are also using the homemade monster tanks that they create using heavy-duty dually pickup plated with armor.  For kicks, I called the national park office and said nothing other than asking if they were open to campers.  He advised me it was a no-go for overnight stays.

Zacatecas is in first place for murders, 440 in just two months, 11.2 per 100,000.

This graph shows the states with the highest homicide rates with Zacatecas first followed by Baja California, Colima, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, and Sonora.

You might be wondering what is going on.  Zacatecas is bordered by eight states which makes it easier to escape with their merchandise.  Hwy 54 runs from Manzanillo on the coast to Tamaulipas on the eastside.  Manzanillo as a port has ships sailing back and forth from China bringing in raw materials used for the production of fentanyl and other chemical-based drugs.  The dispute is between cartels over territory.    Interestingly enough, the ex-governor is now a senator and his brother is the current governor while another is the mayor of a large Zacatecan city with the highest number of shootings and murders.  

That won't stop us, we'll just go somewhere else.  It might be best to take the RV to San Miguel and while we are at our new house we can park it nearby or at San Ramon Rv Park hopefully at a very low storage rate.  There are plenty of places in Queretaro to RV such as Peña de Bernal and Amealco de Bonfil, both pueblos magicos.

We left the keys for the painter, actually a friend of ours.  He sent pictures of the work he has completed on the doors, closets, and door trim.  The color was the best we could do and it is much better than the mustard yellow that was originally there.  All the houses in this development had the same ugly color.  We're shopping for a refrigerator and a gently used dining room set.  All the lighting was installed last week before we left so things are shaping up.  We're excited to finish so that we can have visitors.  

We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving again this year.  However, I couldn't help but do something.  Yesterday I stuffed a chicken and made a truly delicious cauliflower casserole that comes from a Keto diet program.  I'm not on keto, but I made this before and it was really good. 

Thursday we head to McAllen to get a booster shot and do a short shopping list, mostly vitamins from Costco.  We want to limit our contact during the holidays so we will shop early a.m.  We'll spend the night and then come home.  I need my reading glasses from the Dollar Store.  I can order them online, but they have a minimum purchase of 100 pairs per order.  Still, it's only $100 USD but then what do I do with 100 pairs of glasses that are 1.75 magnification?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Last House Sit Of The Year - Los Frailes - Morning Walk

It was an uneventful drive down to SMA.  We made it to our house around 5 p.m.  Several construction roadblocks along the way so it was patience on my part.  We stopped for breakfast at the San Pedro rest stop.  The food wasn't so hot and that is meant in both senses of the word.  No wifi either but since two years ago they added a hotel and it was packed with lots of paisanos.  

Guardia Civil, the new Federales, were at work stopping those paisanos with heavily loaded pickups and cargo trailers.  I'm sure they paid a hefty sum to continue down the road.  So much for "no corruption" with this administration.  After all, they were allowed across the border and on down the road with the same loads.  Sinful.

We were hoping to see some painting taking place at the house but it hasn't started yet.  We had ordered some bedroom furniture and it was delivered.  We had to get it upstairs but the base wouldn't fit through the small staircase.  Saturday morning we took it out to the patio and with the help of our gardener and his son we tied heavy ropes around both ends of the base with two below and two up on the roof and it was a heave-ho.  We got it to the top and took it down the staircase from the roof garden.  The first comment out of the gardener's mouth was, "Wow, what a view you have".  It is too!

So now we are at our housesit in Los Frailes.  Los Frailes is on the road to Celaya just about 1 km from the famous La Comer supermarket.  Then it's down the hill to the lake.  We have quite a view from here.  The house, of course, is huge and quite luxurious.  We are enjoying our time here not to mention the two dogs we are taking care of.  They are real jewels.

Amazing architecture and design.

This morning I took my morning exercise down by the lake.  It was a cool 43F this morning and practically no one in sight other than a dog walker and two guys putting a kayak in the water.  You can see from the pictures it's a beautiful area.  Les has posted many pictures on his blog from the lake as well.  Very serene and peaceful.  Walking briskly I was warmed up in a few minutes.  Lots of birds in the area that flock to the water.  I was surprised by the cleanliness of both the lake and the surrounding areas. 

Huge houses along the hike as well and some strange designs.  Many of the homes sport castle-style towers and many with solariums.  I want to get some pictures of that as well.  The only downside is that the train runs along the lake.   We heard the last train around 10:30 last night as we went to bed.  I guess no place is 100% paradise.  

Today is a national holiday even though it is not the original date of the Mexican Revolution (actual is November 20th).   A three-day weekend brought a lot of tourists.  It is also Buen Fin, the weekend where department and hardware stores along with small shops and restaurants offer steep discounts.  We are looking for a specific refrigerator so we may go to Queretaro tomorrow to the Home Depot.  What happened to white refrigerators?  We have a new range and oven but it's white.  

I'm still planning to bring the RV in December.  Our house sit from the summer is meeting us for lunch today.  They have a buyer for their home and want us to manage it for the next six months until the new owners can get here.  It would be just a day or two a month checking on the house and the workers but that opens the door for a lot of travel, work on our house, and using the RV as well.  They are paying travel expenses so we will see what happens.  More on that later.

And on another note, if you're not on Kevin and Ruth's Camping and Rv Gear Deals Facebook group, you should be.  In addition to great deals, Kevin has been posting some really good openers that have given me some good laughs.  Check it out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Visitor And A Rush To The Border

First things first.  We had a visitor stop by.  I received a message from Wandering Mike who was heading towards the border.  He spent the night in a nearby town and last Sunday we met in the plaza in Santiago.  A real treat.  The last time we saw Mike was on his turf in Alpine, Tx two and half years ago.  

We had breakfast and then went for a walk around the plaza and talked about life in general, politics both here and in the U.S., and off he went for the border.  He'll be back and we can spend more time together hopefully seeing the sights.

Exactly seven years ago this next week I replaced our standard water heater with an on-demand water heater.  I worked great until this year and it started having hiccups.  I paid $70 USD for it in 2014.  This last week it petered out and we took it in for repair.  The control board was dead and it couldn't be revived.  It served us well and saved us a ton on LP gas usage.  It was a pain to have to turn it on in the morning for an hour and then remember to turn it off.  The latter was always an issue and it used up the gas, plus it was way too big.  We take quick on/off showers anyway so smaller was better.  

This time around we purchased a Krueger which the repair guy recommended.  This one is double the size (the other was pretty small and not meant for a whole house although it did the job) and it cost $150 USD.  What a huge difference, the hot water really is on-demand.  

Today was the opening of the U.S. border and it's been on the news since last night.  Some bridges have very little traffic and others kilometers-long lines.  Those are larger cities like Reynosa where relatives haven't seen each other since March of last year.  We may go on Wednesday to check it out and see if we can get through and maybe find a booster shot.  There are some things we want to buy that I just can't find here.  One thing is the bathroom rug sets.  They sell them but we are looking for the ones with the contour that goes around the toilet base.  Not here, not even online.  

The RV still sits in the driveway waiting to go somewhere.  I checked the batteries and cleaned the posts and cables.  The tires are good so we hope that December will be the month.  We have a housesit this next weekend in SMA, which gives us a chance to see the advancement of the repairs and paint on our new place.  The housesit has two dogs, Sky and Bonnie.  We can't wait to take them out on their walks and have them wake us up in the mornings. 

We were loosely planning a family get-together in Kansas City but we backed out.  Still no booster shots and all of the airline flight cancellations, we decided we didn't want to waste time sitting in the airport connections.  My brother from Hawaii sent me an email on Saturday saying the same thing.  

Things will all come together and we'll be doing more and more things as time goes on.

Our illustrious wizard appeared at the United Nations as a speaker on security, corruption, and poverty.  Wow, all of the things he has not been able to accomplish at home he told the world leaders how it should be done.   He recommended that the richest 1000 human beings on the planet along with the richest 1000 corporations each donate 4% of their incomes to the project.  He then went on to say that with that money we could feed 750 million of the world's poorest people.   However, to do that we shouldn't put the money in the hands of NGO's or government officials.  Instead, he recommended that the money directly to each of the individuals via a bank card.  Imagine that, an ATM in the middle of the Sahara Desert so that people could get their money.

The Russian delegate laughed him off and said no thanks to the invitation to participate.  He claims to have gotten the support of some 47 of the 199 countries.  Wow, that's a whopping 25%.  On his trip home via a commercial flight, he was booed off the airplane upon landing by his fellow Mexicans.

The word is going around that INM, Mexican immigration, will be checking on all of us and we should all be prepared with our proof of residency and/or tourist cards.  I've been saying that for years to all the people who slough in and out without giving any mind to the rules.  Maybe now people will pay attention.

Friday, October 22, 2021

It's Not Over Until . . . And Mexican Real Estate

Interesting parking garage with the three-story lift not to mention the life size crucifix on the wall.

Until you sign the deal.  And that we did.  After two months of pulling teeth, we were able to get this done.  The major hurdle was the seller.  For some reason, that was never discussed is why the owner's father was his legal guardian.  We'll never know but it put a wrench in the works.  As I have said many times, in the north things are done differently.  The real estate agent is very nice but she says yes to everything.   We asked her if she had given a checklist to the seller and of course, she said yes.  As time went on we discovered that we had to pretty much be involved in all the phone conversations.  That was another issue, long distance between all four parties; seller, buyer, agent, and notary.  We sent several documents back and forth for signing via FedX.

We were insistent about several things; 

1) Utilities had to be paid and the accounts in zeros. It is easier to do a name change than to open a new account for electric, water, and telephone.  

2) Even though it was a tract home, we wanted the plans for the construction.  In the north, it is common practice.  Here in SMA that can be hard if you are buying a home that was built pre-1800 and there are many.   When remodeling a concrete block house, load-bearing walls become a very important issue.

3) Proof from the loan company that the loan was paid and filed as such.

4)  Property taxes were current. 

We asked for these things the minute we signed the contract with the seller.  

The actual signing included a quick review of any errors.  We're accustomed to someone reading the pages out loud as someone takes notes.  The owner's father was a nice guy, 80 years old, and works as a private accountant.  Everything was done in an hour and the last hurrah was the real estate agent running in with the paid utility bills.  

So another thing to clear up is real estate agents.  There is licensing of real estate agents although it is not required by law.  There are courses and certifications for agents as well.  One such association is the Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios.  They also provide refreshers and update courses regarding changes in construction and the legal aspect of buying and selling.   

As always, it's know before you go.  We did that and fortunately, the agent did well overall.  She's a busy beaver and always has many irons in the fire.  Today she told us she sold a piece of land to the Holiday Inn franchise in Guanajuato for a new timeshare in SMA.

One interesting thing about the agent.  If you remember the La Siesta Hotel and Rv Park, she worked there for 30 years with Don Raul but at the real estate offices next door.  She said she used to marvel at the RVs as they came in especially in large groups.  She didn't tell us that until today in a conversation about other goings-on.

Getting my shoes shined I spotted this marine taking a break from vaccine watch.  He must be homesick, he was really eyeing the girls. 

We're at the house sit out in the camp area and the nights are great with the moon and the open skies.  We're not sure when we are going back to Monterrey.  We brought bedding to take care of a queen size should we run across a good deal.  We have become good friends with all of our house sits and this one in particular.  They are selling and moving back to the states.  On the property is a two-bedroom casita.  It has a beautiful oriental rug that they have given us as a housewarming gift.   Because of the language barrier, we do a lot of things on house sits like find repair people, get estimates and this weekend preparing the house for a showing Saturday morning.  We went out and bought flowers and did a cursory inspection this morning so we could have the workers focus on details.

We are looking forward to getting the house furnished and bringing things down in the travel trailer.  I'm still hell-bent on driving through Durango.  Time will tell.  So I hope I don't bore everyone with our new adventure but that's the adventure we have going.  Soon the pandemic will come to an end and we will feel comfortable about a transatlantic flight and visiting Spain and France.  

During my morning exercise, I ran into this busy fellow.  He was sewing when I came upon him.

The views from here are incredible but cost you a pretty penny not to mention the distance from town.  An Italian-styled villa.

Last but not least, a short political update.  Presidente Dingus has now decided he wants to also nationalize the Telmex telephone company.  He has created an energy reform that will close all private energy providers and their contracts will not be paid out.  Also, he is purchasing vaccines from Russia that have not yet been approved by the WHO and that too may be for the safety of all humans on the planet.  Really?   Dingus has made alliances with Cuba, Peru, Venezuela, and now he's going for Russia.  Isn't that a bit scary?  

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Getting The Urge To Travel - It's Going To Get Crazy

You can tell by the photo above that the weather is changing.   Cool nights have come again and the breezes can be seen in the curtains.  No need to turn on the air conditioning and it's very quiet at night.  We had a lot of rain but it's been dry since we got home from San Miguel de Allende.  We drove by the lake yesterday when we went out for lunch and the water level is very low.  It appears they opened up the gates to send water south.  

We decided it was time to go out for a nice meal.  The gardener has been out of service.  He fractured his arm a few weeks ago.  I got the yard in shape and then invited him over today to see how he was doing and so he could see how things should really look!  He will be back in full swing in two more weeks.  We had lunch at a local seafood restaurant where we reserved a private room.  Still not comfortable as the Covid deaths continue to rise.  They said the other day that Covid has left 140,000 orphans in the U.S. 

As for travel, well we both have the urge.  The problem is our vaccine is wearing off and there won't be any boosters here in Mexico.  We have the opportunity to fly to Kansas City for Thanksgiving.  My brothers from Hawaii and Cincinnati will both be there.  My oldest is 82 and I'd really like to see him.  Juan isn't convinced about flying just yet but we should be able to get a booster there.  Our Sinovac vaccine was originally not on the travel list for the U.S. but has recently been added.

We still have two to three more housesits to do in San Miguel that would give us the opportunity to start furnishing the house.  The gardener is going every two weeks and it's pretty much a 20-minute job at the most.  We'd like to RV and we might take the trailer with us in December stopping along the way although a detour to the coast would be nice.  So many good memories of driving the Espinazo del Diable (Devil's Backbone) and I'd love to do that again.  Flying has not gotten cheaper during Covid.  The prices have actually gone up.  It's hard to justify a five-day weekend when it will cost at least $2000 USD to go to K.C., find an Airbnb, and probably rent a car.  Still checking though.

I mention that it's going to get crazy.  By that I mean things are really opening up here at home and there are now more weekend parties in quintas although they are not nearby the house.  Kids will want to get out and party and I don't blame them.  I just feel a fourth wave coming and we, Mexico, won't be ready.  

This guy greeted me this week on my morning exercise routine.  I have a collection of stray dogs that I have shot and want to make a collage.  They are all friendly and greet me along the route and let me pet them.  I'd love to take them all home but  . . .  😎

I've averaged 14,000 steps each morning now and that would get me from the house to Cincinnati, at least according to Google Maps.  A lot of walking, I hope it does my heart good.  If not, I enjoy being out early in the morning.  I keep putting off my cardio checkup because of the pandemic but I think it is time to get it done.  Life goes on.  The good thing is we both have our health, for now, two places to go to,  and lots to look forward to.  

My little brother has recovered from his hospital stay and the bout with peritonitis.   He's back at volunteering at the radio station so that keeps him busy.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

On The Move - Housesitting In San Miguel de Allende

Taken this morning, Sept. 21, 2021 from the hills outside SMA at 6:40 a.m.

Blogs can be tell-all, make-believe, or insignificant blather.  Today will be a bit of all three.  Let's start out with the tell-all.  I decided to stop work in March of 2020.  I received my pension from the U.S. and still working on Mexican social security.  One more year.  Three weeks ago I received a call from the school where I had been working.  They had asked me if I would do some consulting to get the team going since the coordinator of English had left.  I really didn't want to but since they had been so nice to me, and the simple fact that the coordinator had quit, those were good enough reasons to say yes.

It didn't last very long.  Oh, I'm still working from home with them but in person was a true challenge.  You see, there is a person at a higher level in the school.  I always called him the "used car salesman", married with kids in the school.  There never was a fit between us and we always seemed to try and stay out of each other's way.  After my second year there he was involved in a scandal.  He had had an affair with a teacher in the school and she was pregnant.  I lost all respect for the guy.

The CFE came back to adjust the line.  After they repaired it was giving off a 12 V at the cameras.

On to other things.  Our gardener Fernando who comes twice a week fractured his arm about 10 days ago.  He is not able to work for at least a month.  I've taken over the chores and the good thing is that with the heat, the grass has pretty much gone dormant.  I cut the backyard last week and the front will be done today before we head out for San Miguel de Allende.  It worked out well because our last housesit asked us if we were available and it just happened to be the same time frame.  We have a beautiful place to stay at no charge, a dog and a cat to play with and we have promised ourselves to get out and do some hiking.  Les always offers but we become complacent in our surroundings and never get to it.  Let's see how it goes.

We're back in San Miguel de Allende.  We arrived yesterday afternoon.  It was a wonderful drive and the weather was in our favor.  Overcast most of the way so the sun was not an issue for the driver.  We arrived to our same house sit just in time for happy hour.  The hosts leave this afternoon and we will be here for 10 days.  It all worked out so well.

You can see that the rains here in Guanajuato have really done some good for the press.

Morning hikes around the area you run into raccoons, fox, and lots of these guys working hard.

No doubt SMA is growing.  Even though this house is hard to get to, I can see why the owners like it here.  It's like us not wanting to sell our house in Santiago.  Maybe we can have the best of both worlds, I don't know.

The new house project is going well.  We received the keys on Sunday so now we can get in the house and get some estimates going and take measurements.  The roof is usable as is but it doesn't have tile flooring just yet.  A good patio set and an umbrella will suffice for the near future.  The real estate agent sent a work crew to repair some things and they got it done fast.  It amazing how money always shakes the tree.  She wants her commission.

As for Mexico, the cartels are advancing in mass.  Monterrey is averaging 100 murders a month, the highest ever.  For this federal administration, he has racked up 100,000 in less than three years.  The recent eye-opener was a police ambush on the border of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila intersecting with the U.S. border.  Several police were killed but the amazing part was that the attack was carried out by a caravan of 50 pickups each with seven to ten men inside.   Almost as if they were moving from one territory to another.

As the world goes green, Mexico continues down its path of fossil fuel production.  The government has now taken over the sale of gas LP forming its own company called Gas BienEstar.  This is to control prices but since it was started a month ago, prices have increased.  PEMEX was granted another loan of 12 billion USD to add to their name the petroleum company with the largest debt in the world at 125 billion USD.  BTW, the 12 billion came from the IMF.  The president took the money as a loan to pay off debt but for the first week, he put it in the international reserves bucket so to say he had established the largest dollar reserves in the history of Mexico.  That was for his third presidential address.  

You look at the breadth of the new social programs and all the money being handed out and you wonder if any of these socialist politicians ever read anything like this:

In Chicago, in 1966, a study was carried out that showed that, although the US government invested considerable sums to improve the educational apparatus of marginalized areas in the hope of helping its inhabitants overcome their condition of poverty and exclusion, the percentage of citizens who were promoted socially thanks to these policies was almost nil. The administration in turn wondered what the problem was: the fact is that the family environment had not been addressed, where inequality takes deeper roots psychologically, sociologically, and materially.

So that was a bit of insignificant blather to some and this was not make-believe.  You can't make this stuff up. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Just Let It Rest For A Bit - Dejalo

I look like an old sourpuss!

Culture has a tendency to rub off on someone if they are part of it.  The saying in the title is so true for Latins.  When something stops working, give it a rest and it will probably come back to life.  

The other day we had issues with the on-demand water heater.  We had it fixed several months ago for a paltry 400 pesos.  The guy took it apart and replaced the valve inside as well as the battery casing.  It worked great.  It's only about eight years old.  It quit last week and we were stomping around about that damn water heater.   Juan said, "pues, dejalo".  And we did.  Two days later in the middle of a cold shower, it was instant heat.  Wow!  Cold showers are the thing right now since we are still over 100F to 103F this coming week.  You can always give it a kick.

Then Friday afternoon, after doing some educational consulting online, nap time rolled around.  The house was still pretty cool and the ceiling fan was on the second setting.  Nice after a dip in the pool.  I woke up about 45 minutes later wondering why the ceiling fan was off.  I heard, "power went out".  I figured it would come back.  You know, "dejalo".  We were planning on taking the rv south to the resort for an overnighter.

Another 15 minutes and I got up.  I heard the worker's radio next door.  Hmm.  I walked out to the road and there it was.  Some monster truck must have come down the road and ripped the cable down.  OMG!  I called 073 and the operator said that if the "bufa" (the pole that holds the cable from the street to the house) was bent, that we would have to fix that before making a report.  Well, it was bent in half.  We got two ropes, tied it up, and gave it several yanks adjusting the ropes as we went.  

Next, I took off for the CFE office but they close at 3 p.m. (socialist government-owned company).  I was hoping to find the crews returning from their rounds.  Lo and behold, I saw no one.  But then, there they came, walking out of the building after clocking out.  I waved and one guy came over.  I told him what happened and he said he needed the report number.  They were in the middle of a shift change.  He gave me his cell number and asked me to send him a WhatApp message when I got the report number.  Got home, got the report called in, and messaged him.  He said to be patient and that they had a lot of emergencies because of the heat.

You can't see much but he's up there on the pole!

Well sh--!  What do you do.  "Dejalo", and we did.  We set up out by the rv, turned on the cellphone hotspot, fixed a couple of drinks, and watched the news.  Time went by and no answer.  Two messages and no answer.  Then, after taking everything in and rigging up the bedroom with solar (tv, internet, window fan, etc.) we got a message.  "We'll be there in 10 minutes".  It was already 9:15 and as I walked out to the gate I could see the cherry picker.  Yes!  15 minutes later they were done and lights back on.  Of course, there is always a caveat.  As one was up on the pole, their truck was blocking the road, lights flashing and cones out.  Here comes some jerk on his cellphone looking at a map.  We waved and yelled to no avail.  He slammed on his brakes and skidded just missing the truck.  Imagine!

The rv came in handy though as we transferred all the food to the rv fridge.  When the report was made the operator had told us it could take up to 24 hours.  Yikes.  So sometimes it's best just to let it rest.

On another note, and I have never done this before.  A long-time friend who suffers from mental illness has been down on her luck for many years.  I won't go into details but better I set up a GoFundMe page for her with the story.  She needs emergency dental work, has no money, and barely makes it day to day.  Medicaid doesn't cover her particular need.  The downside of U.S. health care.  So far, between friends and her family, we have raised half of the money.  I'm just throwing this out there:

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Slowly Passing Through The Canicula

The canicula is the 40 day period of extreme heat, little to no rain, and clear skies.  It has been worse this year as we have already had temperatures of 44C as far back as April and May.  The last few weeks since being home from San Miguel de Allende, we have been over 100F over 50% of the time.  From posts on Facebook and blogs, the heat this year is just about everywhere.  Croft, who lives on Vancouver Island has seen some pretty hot ones this summer that I guess are not normal for British Colombia. 

Thursday we took a drive up to Laguna de Sanchez to check the highway (actually a very narrow road and in one part less than a normal lane between craggy rock) hoping to take the trailer up there.  The road is too steep in most parts and some tighter than hairpin curves.  We've taken visitors up to the top before and the road is pretty much improved in terms of pavement.  Too risky not to mention coming back down.  It was a nice drive and we had a very late breakfast on the way back down.

A big difference in temperature when you get up this high.

Speaking of breakfasts, we have been eating outside in the early mornings to take advantage of the cool morning air.  

By 10:30 a.m. we are already closing up the house with two box fans running.  Then after my nap around 4 p.m., the A/C goes on in the bedroom.  I'm truly impressed how low our last bill was even with being out of town for a few weeks.  It was 668 pesos (33 USD) for two months.  The mini-splits or high walls are very efficient.  We moved the mini-split in the living room to a more convenient spot and it cools the front of the house much better.  We've only used it a couple of days this year, it's a two-ton unit so the usage is much higher plus it's a 20-year-old unit.  😎

Yesterday was the second-highest number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic.  Notice the number of deaths;  confirmed deaths are 247,000 and "associated deaths" are 260,000. That's over 500.000 total.   The government finally had to admit that their original numbers were fudged and they had to count all those that died at home or had their death certificates altered.  

Two more Mexican nephews (ages 20 and 26) have come down with Covid.  One is at home on oxygen so we don't know if he will be hospitalized.  It has taken a turn for the worst here and yet tourism is the thing.  British Airways announced the cancellation of all flights to Cancun until further notice and the border remains closed to Mexicans heading north.  But, you can still head into Mexico via land with no restrictions, tests or questions asked.  Go figure.

We signed the contract on the house in San Miguel de Allende and we will be heading there again in a few weeks.  It's getting exciting and the closer the time comes the closer we are to wanting to sell the quinta.  It's hard to give up because it is so peaceful here but the maintenance and lack of workers to do repairs have become a problem.  I got tired of waiting for the gardener the other day.  He called in with some pissy excuse.  He hadn't come in five days (he comes twice a week) so I did the front yard.  That's how you find out what isn't being done.  It seems like these days people have become very unreliable.  The agent who was supposed to put together an analysis of our home petered out as well.  The palm tree trimmer never showed and won't answer his phone.  Neighbors are complaining as well of the same issues.  I guess everyone is rich now that their kids in school get free government money, education, and transportation and everyone over 65 get a check every two months as well. 

We're now looking at beds and all that goes with it.  The bedrooms in the SMA house are pretty small so I guess I won't be having a king-size which is my favorite.   Sheets are not expensive and we order ours online from a Mexican manufacturer.  Excellent quality cotton sheets that hold up extremely well.  The pillowcases are great and make any pillow comfortable.  Twin beds I guess to start in one room so we need box bases and mattresses.  We have a lot of "stuff" from home we can use, duplicates of things.  All will be done, little by little.  

Keep in touch and leave a comment.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Update On Our Trip and An Interesting Turn Of Events
I haven't posted for more than a week.  I was waiting for something important I wanted to share and it will come at the end.

A bit more of what we saw and what we did while we were housesitting in San Miguel de Allende.  Every day was something different and the best part it didn't involve being in the city or around people.  The countryside is beautiful and I can understand why Les is hiking so much.  So much to see.  These are just some of the plants and flowers we saw on each hike we took.  The daily rains were welcome although it is always good weather in terms of temperature.  The nights hovered around 14C and the days 24C.   You can't beat that for sleeping and we really don't know anyone in SMA that has air conditioning.  

I thought I had posted this pic of Les, Mike and Terrie Church but I guess not.  We got together for dinner one night.  The restaurant we went to, La Frontera, has very good food and reasonable prices.  I split a burrito and the others ordered the special which was fried chicken.  It seems like the specials are always good.  

I'm sure you remember our housesit from last year (2019-2020).  We took care of Stephanie's house and her two cats.  It was a long sit as Stephanie was in Los Angeles for treatment.  I will openly say that when I put her in the car to take her to the airport that day, I didn't think she would make it back.  Well, a year later here she is, in a beautiful condo with her two cats and healthy as an ox.  We went to Hotel Santa Monica for breakfast.  The event was fun but the food not so good for the price.  But, you have to find out for yourselves and we did.  

We got together a couple of times with Cheryl.  She lives in our neighborhood in San Miguel.  She rents a beautiful three-story house with an excellent roof garden.  The place in the pic below is at Geek's Coffee which is behind the Fabrica Aurora (you enter through the Fabrica parking area).  She has been living in SMA for quite a few years and loves it there.  Never a shortage of people to meet and they all come from different backgrounds.  Cheryl worked in many countries in Africa and other parts of the world before settling down in SMA.

I put these two pictures side by side.  On the left is our current rooftop and on the left is a picture of a garden we took at a community called Zarandero just minutes from town but it wasn't to our liking but the rooftop really caught our eye.   Simple, clean but with some style.  Not this year, but maybe next year as we save up more money or get lucky and sell our house here in Santiago.

Now for the story and it is worth reading.  Our present government made the decision to have a national vote or what we call a consulta popular.  The first in the history of Mexico.  It was meant to determine if the population of Mexico thinks or thought we should judge our ex-presidents and send them to prison for crimes such as corruption and fraud.  

The government of Presidente Dingus spent 26 million dollars on the vote only to have just 7% of the population vote.  The outcome was in his favor but the vote required 41% to make it a law.  It didn't pass.  but why is this important?  It shows that this president is out for vengeance against those who, for over 20 years, wouldn't let him play politics.  The 26 million dollars that were spent could have purchased the following:

1) 58,666 cancer treatments for children.  We have lost over 3000 children only because the government has refused to purchase the medications for the universal healthcare system.

2) 1748 homes for low-income families with a value of 300,000 pesos each.

3)  Over 10,000,000 food hampers for the poor

A complete failure.  In addition, even though Mexico is not a rich country, we sent three ships to Cuba this last week.  1 with "medicines", 1 with food, and one tanker filled with diesel all free to the Cuban government.