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.