Monday, August 14, 2017

Palapa Update

We got this much done on the palapa.  Took awhile but worth the wait.  What's next?  Pouring the extension for the floor, tiling the floor, sheet rock the interior ceiling and the metal posts with square columns.   Sometime this year?   Wait and see.

I left yesterday for Chihuahua.   We had a rough start.  It was 39C yesterday at the airport and the flight was oversold and they asked for volunteers.   I was hoping that there was a later flight or a very early morning but there wasn't.  The offer was a voucher for 5000 pesos plus hotel and meals at the new Sheraton in the airport.   When I got on board, I was standing in back talking to the flight attendant and asked her what would happen if there weren't enough takers and she said they would up the ante.   Too bad for me.

Then, we're all on board, plane packed to the gills and the lights and A/C go out.   They start it again (Embraer 179) and a minute later it stops.   Maintenance comes on board and fiddles a bit then back off and back on again.   The the announcement that we were waiting for a jump start but that wouldn't affect the flight.   Hotter than heck until we got off the ground.  I knew those security information cards would come in handy, they make great fans.

Chihuahua continues to grow and it seems it has a planning committee.   Very easy to move around and also very modern.  Lots of homes that mimic the U.S. building styles.  People here are very nice.  I bought a beer at the OXXO across from the hotel.  I was waiting in line when the cashier's eight year old son pops up in front of me and says he can ring me up.   He did the debit card charge, bagged my goods and managed it like a pro.   My point:  I guess if an eight year old can do it so could anybody.  

Now my work plan has changed and I won't be home on Thursday instead going to Queretaro and then to Leon before returning to Monterrey on Saturday, hopefully in the morning.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How I Back In The Rv

My friend Steve from the Carolinas says it amazes him how I'm able to get the rv into the driveway.   I finally downloaded the videos from our security cameras.  You can probably skip through the video because they are a few minutes long.   Enjoy.

From the street backing in.

From inside looking out.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Waterfalls On Every Side

As I said yesterday, we made it to the park without any problem.   I would say any travel trailer can make it and travel buses do too but I don't drive a 45 ft motorhome.   

The park charges a day use  fee of 36 pesos per person.  When you're camping it is only charged once and you can come and go from the park.   The overnight camping fee includes a palapa with kitchen surface, a sink with running water (potable) and there is no electricity.   The idea is too keep the place as quiet as possible and it is.  Some picnickers come during the day and play music but the rangers keep an eye on them.  It's not a large park but there is hiking in the mountains and paths to take.  There are hot showers for 10 pesos and well-worth it.   Clean with lots of hot hot water.  

We're here and we have been into town for a breakfast and we have taken lots of pictures.   Hiking has been a bit muddy because it is raining off and on.  Quiet, cool nights with the sounds of waterfalls and soft rain on the roof.   

We're heading home in the morning.  I have several things I want to post about such as the now variable gas prices and welfare programs that are available to Mexicans.  Very interesting all the things that most people are unaware of.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

El Salto State Park Nuevo Leon - Parque Estatal El Salto Nuevo Leon

We had headed back to the botanical garden in San Miguel and stayed for another night.  We paid our yearly membership which we think is only fair.   The land we boondock on is not owned by the gardens but it's right in front plus we get access to the botanical garden for hiking.  They have a small restauarant which is great for an afternoon expreso.

We headed back to Matehuala for the evening.   Not an exciting drive but there really isn't any other way to head north.   There was a nice rain in the evening and it was cool during the night.  This year we didn't need to use the electric blanket but there was no need for even a fan.   Again, the Hotel Oasis charges 150 pesos for the night.   Our grey water was full so I asked the owner if I could dump in the back of the hotel.  No problem.   

We didn't get up early on Tuesday and opted to sleep in.  The cool air, watching the news and having coffee was too much fun for me.   We eventually showered and headed out.   To the north and exiting at Sandia or Parque El Salto,  There are two routes, one directly from Matehuala and the other I just mentioned off of Hwy 57 just one kilometer north of Parador San Pedro which now, by the way, has a very nice hotel that is packed (we saw it coming and going).

The road we took was the best of the best and the worst of the worst.   In other words, there were good spots and bad spots but more good than bad.  We saw some beautiful ranch land and small ejidos along the route.   Lots of livestock;  mules, cows, goats and horses, leisurely crossing the two-lane road.   As we were driving a motorcycle passed us and took a sharp left to an improvised lateral.  I should have known better even if it wasn't marked.   Someone had taken down the signs but road work ahead!   We came to an abrupt stop as there was a drop off of at least 40 centimeters.   We didn't back up but found a quick and easy work around.

We had called ahead to Zaragoza asking if we would have any issues passing through the small town of 2000 with the trailer.   Transitos are getting very picky these days and I urge people to exercise caution.   They said no problem.   Aramberri, a town 27 kms before Zaragoza (pop. 14,000) was bustling.  One major change is that there is now an official Pemex station.   Ten years ago there was no service and you had to buy from clandestine ranches.  Not a good idea as the only filter was an old pair of panty hose.   That was my only issue on this route but that was now resolved.

Made it through both towns without a hitch (no pun intended) and arrived to the park.  I hope you enjoy the pictures there is much more to share tomorrow.   We will be heading home on Friday taking another route which I think will prove interesting.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Trip Update - SMA - Matehuala - Zaragoza

We're back in Matehuala after enjoying the weekend parked in town in San Miguel de Allende.  It worked out well and we were charged 100 pesos per night, secured parking.  Saturday and Sunday were noisy as tour buses would come and go but we were gone during the day.  At night things were completely silenced as everyone has left but us.   Time to drag out the chairs, coffee table and have cocktails outside.   Beautiful skies, drinks and company.

Saturday night we passed by Barbara's house at 7 to go out for dinner.  We took a taxi, pricey but worth it, to Ristorante D' Andrea.   We were there last year.   The food is really, really good and the service is the best.   We started out the evening with vodka martinis and Barbara can attest to their quality.   The place is pricey but we hadn't been out to eat during the whole week except for a taco or quesadilla.   

We went to the Parroquia for a folkloric dance show that was pretty good.   We stayed for a bit and then headed home.  We have yet to disconnect the SUV from the trailer and 85% of our day trips are walking.   I've been doing my 8 kms or more everyday and that sure helps.   I also discover some pretty cool things along the way.

Yesterday we were invited to a town meeting by an activist group regarding the water situation in SMA.  Basically, the water in the lake or presa is being consumed by corporate farming in the area.  Also, the water treatment plant is not at full capacity for the city.  As I mentioned, there are new housing developments going up and they are not providing any special services in exchange for building permits.  For example, if a new neighborhood is going up outside Monterrey on the way to our house, the builder has to provide a water treatment facility for the new neighborhood, streets, lighting, and green areas.   I don't think that is happening in SMA.   There is also arsenic contamination in the city water supply created by the corporate farming.  The purpose of the meeting is to create awareness and look for some solutions that can be had by both the government and the population.   

We're not living there but it is interesting to participate and if someday we move nearby we want clean and plentiful water/   We are suffering from the same problems now at home with our water supply; drought and contamination.

We headed out this morning bright and early and are now at the Oasis Hotel.  Tomorrow we will be heading east and then south to the southern tip of our great state of Nuevo Leon hoping to find a spot at the El Salto State Park which is in the mountains and surrounded by waterfalls.   More later.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Cool Air - San Miguel de Allende

(Sorry, no pics.  My Telcel stick is not getting a strong enough signal.  I'll post some later).

We’ve been enjoying our time here in San Miguel de Allende.   Parked here at the botanical gardens (El Charco del Ingenio) we’ve had very cool nights and light breezy days.  You couldn’t ask for better weather.  The afternoon showers make for great down time or a nap.  

Tuesday night was a great surprise.  I received a letter from blog reader Barbara.   She came from Washington state last October to make her home here.   She had offered her place to me when I was looking to work with the kids at the school here.   She was very kind in her offer. 
Tuesday afternoon we got together for some wine and chat which turned into a great dinner and the opportunity to make new friends.   We’re planning on seeing each other again this weekend for dinner out.

Last night was a walk down to the Parroquia to people watch.   Again, the weather was cool and enough that you need to carry a light jacket or sweater.   There is just so much to see and do here I hope we living here in southern Mexico in the next couple of years.

Tonight  is a talk and Q&A with Lisa Pixley who is the author of a book about the history of San Miguel de Allende.  She has lived here for 15 years and speaks fluent Spanish.   She tells the history of the city and the influence that foreigners has brought.    I’m looking forward to her point of view as you know I have my own.

What has happened in the last year since coming to SMA?  Lots of changes.   Too many to say I would actually live in the city.   Other small towns nearby abound and offer just as much as here.   The traffic has gotten a bit hairy.   People are driving much faster and there are more cars.   New construction of avenues including infrastructure changes have created a big city feel.   I realize it’s summer and there are lots of tourists.   Here by the gardens are two, new housing projects with homes starting at 185K, I may have already mentioned that.   Too many people.

This morning we walked from the gardens to the Luciernega mall with the glorieta and the new Soriana.   We took a bus down to centro.   We could have walked faster because of the traffic and at one point we got off and just walked.   Quicker and faster not to mention great exercise.  BTW, I did my 1.5 hour walk this morning with a mix of hillside and city.  

We’re moving again in the morning.   I’ve mentioned several times that there is a public parking lot off of San Antonio St. where the big buses park bringing tourists.  The charge for 24 hours is 160 pesos.  The lot is changing ownership on Monday so the current workers have offered us 100 pesos a day for the weekend.   Fantastic, we’re right in town.  There are no services but our solar works just great for us.  It’s a paved lot but we’re here for the city and we’ve done a lot of hiking here at the gardens.

Turns out we may not make it to Hacienda.   It Sounds like the park is falling into disrepair and Chema’s is a bit muddy this time of year.    We are thinking about heading to the waterfalls in Zaragoza, a state park at the border between San Luis Potosi and Nuevo Leon.  Not sure yet.   Every day is something new.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

San Miguel de Allende July 2017

Spent a quite evening at home in Matehuala.   Got up early and had coffee and the local news.  Actually it was news from Mexico City.   We headed to the tire stores to check prices.   All of them are in town not along the highway where the hotels are.  That's weird.

They sent a tire to the vulkanizadora where we were parked and we paid right there.   No hassles, tire sent on a motorcycle, invoice and guarantee in hand.   I guess the two work together so it worked out well.   A guy pulled up while we were waiting in a new SUV.   Kind of startled me a bit.  He got out and said good morning in English.   Turns out he worked in the U.S. for 30 years and now is a trucker here.  He wanted to know about importing the trailer.  Nice guy.

Off we went, a bit apprehensive at first.   I then got off to a running start and kept it steady at 80 kph (you guys are rotten and you know who you are).  Peaceful drive, good music and excellent co-pilot.  We pulled into the botanical gardens and setup.  Went for a nice evening walk and watched a great movie with Andy Griffith called Savages with one of the Bottom brothers, Sam I think, who died a few years back from a brain tumor.   All the brothers are actors.

This morning as we were getting ready to take off, our friend Mario the director of the botanical gardens, pulled up  and visited for awhile.

We're not staying there.   We chose a night at San Ramon because we will be visiting a blog reader this evening and didn't want to leave the rv alone.   Things in SMA are changing.  It's become a bustling city.   You can see it in the traffic, the speed at which people drive, and sadly and most of all is the poor interaction between locals and gringos.

I could see it last year as well.  New housing developments are going up two blocks from the botanical gardens with their own strip malls.  Houses starting at $185,000 U.S.  The disparity between the foreigners (gringos and chilangos) is growing.   I was listening to the local news this morning and they have job offers.   Low educational levels, all minimum wage jobs.  But, like everywhere else in the world, business owners pay what the local economy demands not to mention government established minimum wages.

We're even closer now to selling the trailer.   I think it's time.  Maybe a Class B will work for us.  Only time will tell.