Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Time Has Finally Come!

That's right.  We are scheduled for the vaccine on Monday at 8 a.m.  We went by the gymnasium in Santiago today to check it out.  They were setting up tents, chairs, signs, marking parking areas in the soccer field across the street for people to park.  I'll give an update on Monday.

The fires are still burning and there are days when it really eats up the acres.  As of today, the fire has consumed 16,000 acres.  More cabins have been lost as the fire advances down the mountains.  These cabins are weekend home and are pretty pricey.   Here is a news report more for the video of the actual fire.  Truly amazing how much has burned.

Semana Santa has started and the airports are packed.  I am sure we will see a surge in the next few weeks of COVID.  Many anti-vaccers out there and I find that amazing.   There is a rush on the border and people don't seem to understand why so many Hondurans are going to the U.S. 

If they would watch the news or pick up a newspaper, had a clue about geography and nature, they would discover that Honduras is just a strip of land with hurricanes on one side and cyclones on the other.  The country has been devastated by climate change over the last 15 years.  Crops are destroyed every year, farm animals have died and people are left homeless.  Rural people, in a country high in crime, don't have a lot of options.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Rv Overnighter and Forest Fires Around The Corner

As we wait for our turn for the vaccine, we have decided to cautiously take the rv out.  We called ahead to our resort in Montemorelos which is about an hour south of our house.  They said everything was closed but because we own our lots there we could come.  Also, the office said that no one was there and probably wouldn't come.  

We made the decision to have an overnighter.  The wheels on the trailer had not moved for over a year so I was concerned they might have some hard spots.  I had also turned the hitch upside down to raise it a bit.  The ride was fantastic.  I'm still not happy with the fan clutch.  It is very irregular and sounds like a jet engine roaring when it clicks on.  I found an original fan clutch and we may try that as our last resort and if it works, great.  If not, well we'll just keep going with the sound of a jet engine!

It was fun to sleep out.   It was very quiet and only the deer were out looking for food.  We cooked a great rib eye on the cast iron along with asparagus and a wonderful La Cetto cabernet.   A movie followed and then off to bed.  Came back home on Sunday morning.  I hadn't backed the trailer into the quinta for over a year.  It was comical, to say the least.  I should download the video from security cameras.  It was typical arguing about when to turn, stop, go, go forward, flailing arms but we got it done and had a good laugh afterward.

We are at the beginning of a severe drought.  With a three-day weekend, tourists came from the surrounding areas (one reason we took the rv out).  Well, they did their damage and started a forest fire.  On Tuesday, Juan went to the clinic to get his cholesterol medication.  I had taken a nap.  I woke up and thought I had overslept and it was late evening but from the blinds, there was an eery yellow light. I got up to find only 45 minutes had passed.   When Juan got to the house he called me in a panic.  The hills in front of our street were on fire.  

Before we had a chance to wrap our heads around what was going on, they were evacuating people from the top down.  As of yesterday, more than 700 people have been evacuated and many homes, farm equipment, and vehicles have been lost.  They have been rounding up farm stock and getting them loaded onto trailers.  

I doubted that it would ever jump the highway but now the trailer was ready so we could always take off.  The fire continues and there are helicopters dipping into the nearby lake and swimming pools.  We no longer have a national relief fund like FEMA as our president canceled it to save money.   The fires will take a couple of weeks to put out and we are hoping we don't have any winds.  No rain in the forecast either.  We have donation dropoffs so we will be taking a couple cases of canned tuna and water packs.  

I tried doing my 10k today but there is too much smoke so we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, March 12, 2021

NGOs, GoFundMe, and Federal Government Programs in Mexico

I always like rocking the boat.  I figure if I don't nobody else will.  There's been controversy for years about which way we should be helping people; NGOs, GoFundMe or Mexican federal programs.  I received an email asking me which one was best and this was my reply:

Do individuals really do more?  My only thing in this is that there is definitely good work going on by individuals.  Like most politics though, it is always one side or the other.  I'm not even a fan of the current Mexican administration.  That said, I have worked here and paid my taxes for 35 years and I want people to get what they deserve.

Why would someone who works so hard to help the poor refuse to allow the same poor people access to information they can use to make it easier on donors and improve their own condition?  I hear constant complaining that there is never enough giving and that people, especially ex-pats with fancy cars, could give much more.  That may certainly be true.  Take those donations and add another $40 USD per child per month to the formula and it is much better than just one side or the other.  That's what this federal program offers.

I was only trying to help.  As it turns out, most ex-pats, for lack of learning the language, have no idea what the Mexican government programs are and how they work. There are literally hundreds of them from delivering seed and fertilizers to farmers to sports scholarships for tennis, swimming, chess and so much more.  People have been emailing me asking me for details.  Ex-pats, for the most part, are completely disconnected from the Mexican reality.  

I now regret wanting to help and put in my "granito de arena".  We do it here in Nuevo Leon and we make sure all school children who are eligible have access to free breakfasts, books, uniforms, scholarships, and more.   It's a joint effort between state, local governments, schools, and teachers like myself.  

We could do so much more working as a team.  A real shame that people pit themselves against each other only to make a name for themselves and children suffer the brunt of such a petty thing as "It's MY project".  It's pathetic.  It should be everyone's project.  But there are selfish people who only think about their fame and noteriety and not the interest of those at hand.  

Interestingly enough, the program for people over 68 (68 Y Mas), is open to Mexicans and ex-pats who are residents in Mexico.  Now that I've said that watch people scramble to enroll, and they have.  Many ex-pats see it as something they are entitled to when they've never paid any taxes in Mexico.  I guess if they did enroll in the program and used the money to help others that would be a different story.  That may not be such a bad idea.  Many ex-pats say they don't have enough money to donate each month well here it is, a monthly donation of $65 USD and you don't have to use your own money.  Let's see how many bite! 

Okay, I mentioned the other day that I was going to check on my social security account.  I did and my consultant showed me where I am now.  I decided to wait two more years to get the maximum benefit based on what I paid in and my additional payments.  Did you know the maximum Mexican social security check is 50,000 pesos a month?  That's $2500 USD per month, not bad for Mexico.  I won't get that much but I do have my U.S. pension as well.  I'm happy.  

The weather is warming up and as they say, Spring has sprung.  Trees are in bloom, the grass is turning green and growing.  We had our first cut yesterday only in the back.  

As I close this part of my life (my rant about programs in Mexico) I'll need to find something else of similar or greater value to pull people's chains.  Someday, I'll have to explain why I get such a kick out of it.  Peace.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Back Home From SMA - Mission Accomplished (Plus a Video)

Not everything turns out the way you want it.  I had mentioned in my last blog post that the dashcam wasn't working.  We took it to Steren in San Miguel de Allende and they couldn't find the problem.  I didn't have the receipt so that was a no go.  When we got home on Saturday I took it back to our local outlet and they found the issue.  Although it says it can take a 64K memory card it can't.  They gave me two 32K cards and I paid an additional 3 pesos.  Back in business but it wasn't of any use on the trip.

I made a video though with Juan using his cell phone.  It jumpy and bumpy in lots of places but I learned about 25 new things related to making videos; how to add text, music, trim, change speeds, add photos and much, much more.  All by trial and error.  In the future the videos from the road should be of much better quality.  

Video: Road Trip To San Miguel de Allende

We didn't do much of anything and that was the plan.  I did my usual exercise routines, cooked, and actually ate in a restuarant, the first time in a year.   It was a bit uncomfortable but we wanted to meet friends that we had housesat for last year.   It was good getting together in an outdoor venue and there were only two waiters and one other couple on the patio.  The mask works really well, hardly any of the food would pass through the fabric.  That might make for a good diet in the future.

Barbara had us over on her rooftop one night and we had a good time doing nothing more than talking and of course a wonderful meal.  It was great being together with others who were also socially distance conscious.  

We were able to go out to the rural areas with Les.  I had asked him in advance and he assured me he'd like to have us along.  Les has been very active helping people living outside of SMA with food, clothing, his yearly soccer ball drive and now delivering wood cooking stoves to those who may need them.  They are pretty handy devices and work extremely well.

Also, a group came along the second day and as you can see in the picture above all with masks.  Juan and I presented the government program Bienestar and the scholarships (Becas Benito Juarez) for primary through university.  Everyone seems interested in getting the word out and since then I have received many emails asking for additional information.  Getting the word out is so important and also that we make this a community effort, not just an NGO where someone can toot their own horn.  It's about people helping people.  $40 USD a month for each child does a lot of good in addition to all the other donations and work people put into helping the poor.

So back home in confinement.  I've been busy getting my paperwork in order for the Mexican pension.  I have an appointment tomorrow.  Enjoy the video and leave your comments down below.