Sunday, July 16, 2017

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - Voted #1 in the WORLD by Travel & Leisure Magazine

                                          Photo taken on the Eve of Dia de los Muertos in jardin
                                                 in San Miguel several years ago.

It has happened again!  A national publication's readers have voted San Miguel de Allende the #1 place to visit in the WORLD.  It is totally astonishing to those of us who live here.  We do shake our heads in wonderment that our little village of about 67,000 people is recognized world over.

After all, we're not Paris or Florence or NYC, we are San Miguel, a little village that you can walk from one side to the other in 45 minutes or less. 

It is quite a feat to be in this place at this time.  We are honored and proud along with being a little concerned about the ramifications of more people knowing about this place that has three or four narrow roads into it. 

In 2008, UNESCO named the church at Atotonilco a World Heritage site.  At the same time, San Miguel due to its architecture and all the other wonderful things, was included in that designation.

It did impact the number of world travelers who have arrived.  It also has increased greatly the number of Mexican nationals who now travel from all over the country of Mexico to San Miguel.
I hate to confess, but on the weekends the traffic is a gridlock.  I see car licenses even from Baja.
Once they get to the town, the very few parking lots have little signs and no one knows where to go.
Most of the streets are one way because they were built for carriages, not cars!  It is a pedestrian
place not really set up for cars. 

Other then that, it is quite an amazing place to visit as well as to live.  As you know, I've been here seventeen years.  Every now and then I get the itch to move somewhere else in Mexico, but to tell
you the truth,  I can't think of where that would be.  It truly captures your heart.

Over the years the amount of high quality restaurants have opened.  Having formerly been a big "foodie", it certainly is a treat......for those who can afford the fancy schmancy places.  They are not the rule though, but the exception.  One can still have a magnificent breakfast for well under $5USD and a lunch for well under $10USD.  And, if eating on the streets, at the little stalls, anytime is usually under $5USD for delicious food.  Think carnitas, tacos al pastor, soups.  It is all here. Oh, and our bakeries.  Oh my.

It also is the norm for people to come here to visit, become so charmed that within a week, they buy a house and go back to sell off everything and move here.  I'm not kidding.  It is astonishing!

Usually when Travel and Leisure or Conde Nast, who also named San Miguel #1 in the world a few years ago, send writers here to write an article, they get their info from some uninformed sources. 

One article I just read said there are 20,000 expats here.  That is nonsense.  It is more like, maybe 7,500, if that many - full time.  The realtors want people to think the larger number, but it is not true.  I've checked this fact with the Immigration office here where people get visas. 

San Miguel is not only known for its visual beauty but for its festivals.  We locals feel like there is one almost every week accompanied by church bells and fireworks.  Some complain but I find it endearing to hear fireworks at dawn and sunset..........and sometimes earlier then dawn.  Most of us who have been here a long time, just turn over and go back to sleep at dawn.  Tee hee.

The festivals include, to name just a very few, a Jazz Festival, an International Music Festival, Independence Day in September, the Alborada the end of September when many indigenous tribes come and parade and dance in the jardin in full regalia.  It is spectacular.  December is a quiet time until the posadas start in mid month when people dressed as Mary and Joseph with burros and others walk the streets of San Miguel looking for lodging in a replay of the Birth of Christ. Christmas here is all about that, not presents.  Presents come in January on Three King's Day.  Then in February we have a magnificent flower market with growers from all over Mexico.  Our winter is ending and we all go gleefully to buy more plants. 

I could go on and on.  With all the saints and trades here that are honored, truly, there is almost something going on every day.  Life is never dull.

Can you tell that I love this village?  You would too, if you came to visit.  World travelers come here not expecting much and by the time they leave, they are planning a return.  It does grab your heart.

Let me know when you're coming to check it out for yourself.  I'd love to meet you in the jardin for a cappuccino or conversation........or both!

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Onward!

Another title for this post could have been "a stitch in time", but onward seems more appropriate.

The "episode" or adventure have moved forward after seventeen days of being disabled.  The stitches were removed today.

Don't believe it if anyone ever tells you that removing stitches doesn't hurt.  Baloney.  Luckily, although the doctor had said there were well over one hundred stitches, most of those  are inside and so the amount he had to remove were probably about twenty.  Enough, for sure.

Doc says it will take three or four weeks until everything is healed, but this is certainly a big step.

Part of my arm looks like a human quilt.  When I said that to the doctor, he did not know what a quilt was so I explained it to him...........he smiled.

Onward I go.  Maybe still a little slower then usual.  Maybe fewer things crammed into each day, but onward anyway. 

After all, at this point in life, there is no time to waste.

Thanks to all for their notes, their emails, the food, and phone calls.  I saw the anesthesiologist in the lobby of the hospital today.  I had not seen him since the fateful day of surgery.  I thanked him again for all his kind words and actions.  He responded by giving me a big bear hug.

When does that ever happen?  Made me smile.  I'm so grateful.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A Bump in the Road of Life

Above are the crepe myrtle bushes that bloom profusely in Texas this time of year.  No fragrance, but the softness of the blooms and the teeny, tiny flowers look like snow on the ground.

The title of this post is "a bump in the road".  Rather, maybe it should be "detour".  I have not been able to write for over twelve days and have so many photos to share, stories to tell and a bit of humor
as well.

However, the bump or detour or whatever, happened twelve days ago.  Big time.  Life can change in an instant.  And mine did.

Scout, the sweet, quiet spaniel of my son, John was staying here for a week while John was out of town. Scout is so quiet that I often do not know where he is, except at about 1:30AM in the morning when he decides he wants to go out and then cannot find his way back to the door for me to let him in......but that is another story.

On this morning, twelve days ago, I had put Scout in the house with the door cracked a wee bit so I could get back in.  My mission was to move the car out of the garden where it is parked overnight.
It is parked on the street during the day.  I was starting to back the car out when I saw the dog in the street. This was at 8:30AM when there is still a bit of traffic around the school.  I immediately shut the car off and went to gather Scout off the street and back into the house.

Isn't it amazing that when a pet does not want to do something how they can manage to turn into a concrete statue?  Scout tried that.  I think adventure was on his mind.  On my mind was to get the dog into the house, the car onto the street and get on with my day.

The Universe had another idea.

Just about the time I had pushed the dog's rear into the door, he got between my legs, I pitched forward and my right arm went through the glass window. 

I won't describe the gory details, because it was more then gory.  Thankfully the gate was open, a neighbor heard me screaming "Help, help" and his wife grabbed a towel to wrap around my arm.

Traumatic would be an understatement.  Eventually, off to the hospital we went in my neighbor's little car and into the ER we went, with me in a wheelchair. 

The bottom line was that a plastic surgeon had to take care of me in about a three hour operation.  With over one hundred stitches from my wrist along with part of my elbow, I look like a human quilt.

Wowza, I could have lived my whole life and never needed to have this adventure.  Truly.

Of course, it had to be my right arm, of course.  Today is the first day that I can use my fingers on my right hand to type!

I've missed writing.

According to the doctor this is going to be a "lengthy" recovery.  No, I did not ask what that meant.  I would rather take it "one day at a time".  It sure has left me weak as a kitten, surprisingly. 

On the bright side, the kindnesses of strangers and friends has been amazing.  It gives one faith that
in all the world, with the kind of people we know, life is going to be good..........eventually.

In future posts those stories will probably find their way into posts.  They keep running through my mind. 

In the meantime, I just wanted you to know I am not lolly gagging around on a chaise somewhere eating bon bons, but  trying to recuperate from this "bump in the road of life".  The adventure continues..............


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Life is Rich!

Five for five.  That's how many grandchildren are in Texas - four in Houston and the oldest, Jessica is in Austin.  Austin is about 2 1/2 hours from Houston.  My goal - to spend time with ALL of them.

I succeeded!

Not only did I succeed in spending time with all five, I even got to spend time with other relatives like my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, niece and their mates and their children!  Woo hoo.

Since Memorial Day was one of the days while I was up there, I spent it with the above mentioned
as we had the traditional meal of the day.  Hamburgers, potato salad and all the trimmings.  Yum.

Here are a few pictures of the fun and frivolity.
 Last time that I saw Grey, he was a tiny baby.  In one year he has gotten a personality and a precious smile.
 Austin is amazing.  At three, he is articulate, smart and adorable.  We had great conversations!
 Here is Ryan with his two children and my sister-in-law Annette. Grey and Austin will have a new baby brother or sister later in the Fall. 
 This photo makes me laugh.  The expression on Grey's face says he is not very happy.  My brother, Bill, is in this photo too.  As you can see, the hot tub was a hit that day.  It was still in the mid 80's at this time, so the pool water was too cool for the kids.  The hot tub was perfect.

One evening Annette and I sat in there for almost three hours just talking. We were astonished when we checked the time to see that we had enjoyed the evening breeze and the healing waters.
The garden that Annette works so hard to maintain always has flowers blooming.  This year the caladiums, the crepe myrtle trees and even the daylilies were blooming profusely.  Unfortunately,
I did not get photos of my niece, her husband and little boy.  How I missed that, I have no idea.

Then I made a trip to Kingwood, about 45 minutes from my brother's house to see Hannah, Andrew
and Emma along with their Mom and Dad.  Dad was at work, so no photo..........Andrew was busy upstairs, so no photo and Mom did not want a photo.  But how much fun it was to have photos with
Hannah and Emma.  We went to Wendy's for lunch.  We don't have Wendy's in Mexico.  I love their chicken sandwich...........and their Frosty's.

Guess who drove?  Emma!  She has a Nissan Rogue........woo hoo.  What a cute car.  I was having car envy while I was amazed at how carefully and safely Emma drove.


Then we returned to the house and sat around and talked for several hours.  They were all excited as they were heading to Garner State Park the next day for their annual visit.  Do you notice that I am now, officially, the shortest in the family?  How the heck did that happen?

From the 5th of June til the 7th of June, I spent time in Austin with Jessica.  The trip over there was great until I arrived in Austin and the road I had intended to take to her house had never appeared.

I called Jessica, but she had just moved to Austin the previous month and had no idea where I was.

Uh oh.  I got on 35 S and then quickly took the first exit as 35S was a parking lot.  Luck was with me!  I turned right on the first street that I could, as it said, "State Capitol".  And, lo and behold, on my left was a Hertz car rental!  I knew they would have a map.  I parked, walked in and told them
I was lost.  They were extremely helpful.  One of the men took the address that I had to get to, put it in his computer and printed out specific directions to get me to my destination.  I couldn't thank him
enough.  I would never have gotten there.  My plan had been to sit by the State Capitol until Jessica could find me..............Now that was not necessary~!

I got to the beautiful place that she lives with no problems.  When I called to tell her that I was there, the amazement in her voice made us both laugh.  We had so much fun together.  Dinner at Chuy's followed by breakfast the next day at a true Austin hippie breakfast place and then barbeque that night at Rudy's.  We also did a little shopping, but mostly we talked and shared what had happened in our lives for the last year and her plans for the future.  What a fabulous person she is........ I hated to leave. 




  The drive back from Austin was much smoother as Jess wrote out the directions for me, very specifically, and Hwy 71 is so much better then 290.  I'll definitely remember that next time.

I wanted to share a wonderful photo taken of us at Chuy's that Jess sent to me on her I-phone but for some reason I can't get it to download or anything.  I'll need to ask the Computer Guru............I've tried and tried every which way to get it so I can print it, but alas, at the present time it is no go.

The wrap up is the two times that I saw Christopher.  His graduation and the little celebration we had
in Kemah at the Flying Dutchman restaurant.  Then all the different times I saw little ones at my brothers. The surprise visit when my two nieces drove from Shreveport to see me.  My time with Jessica in Austin and then the short time, but sweet time with Hannah and Emma and Andrew briefly.

I'm a lucky lady, to put it mildly.  Then I come back to San Miguel to MORE grandkids and my son.
Life is rich...............



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Walking The Line

At the end of last year I mentioned that the city had decided to turn the cliff outside my house into a park/plaza.  Since there is an immediate drop off,  it seemed impossible to me.  But in the ensuing months there have been backhoes, bulldozers and many dump trucks hauling off half of the hillside in order to create a level space to expand what will be this park.  Truly astonishing.

Now I have never seen the plans and  have no idea what it will look like or, for that matter, when it will be finished.  Hopefully in my life time as now there are only two guys doing all the work!

Unfortunately, the city when deciding to do this did not take into account the parents at the kindergarten or the primary school who bring their cars or walk their children up or down the hill to school. 

It has been very dangerous as little by little the space they have allowed for cars to drive on the road has gotten smaller and smaller.  Now, also, there is no place for the parents to park to go into the school when necessary. Obviously due diligence or research was not part of this glorification plan.

Practicality would have said, it works the way it is and let's not mess it up for something that will give little benefit on a daily basis.

However, yesterday I received a lesson in compassion, empathy and patience.

One of the women who works at the school was out at the top of the hill, very close to my dining room window.  When I saw her, I wondered what she was going to do.  The previous day two workers had put up additional poles to make the driving space even narrower.

About an hour or two later I looked out the living room window to see if she was still out there as I could not imagine what she was doing. She had a rake and a bucket  She was carefully, slowly, and meticulously raking all the larger stones and rocks out of the space that is meant for the children and parents to use as a walk way. 





Of course, no child or parent walks single file, which is what this space will require.  They all usually walk holding their parent,s hand.  Or the group skips down the hill together, talking and laughing.

But, the fact that this woman took the time to clear this pathway of any walking hazards for the little children really touched my heart.  It is just one of a zillion thoughtful and kind things that I observe in my life here in Mexico.

Viva Mexico!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adventures in Texas

It would seem that since the trip to Texas is at about the same time each year with the mission to see family, friends and enjoy delicious food, that it would be a rather non-adventurous event.  Au contraire.  Every year it is anything but dull.

Just as I am trying to write this, it is an adventure, as the computer is not allowing me to put this sentence into a new paragraph.  Aargh.  I'm still having problems from when the encryption nightmare happened over a month ago, so bear with me.

I tried to write this blog yesterday on the laptop and three quarters of the way through, it all deleted.  Maybe it is writer's error and not the computer............ha.

Back to my adventure in Texas.  It was a frenzy of family, friends and dining out on all kinds of good food.

I managed to see all five GRAND kids, my brother and sister-in-law and my daughter and son-in-law.  In the midst of the trip, a great surprise happened when my two nieces, one from Shreveport and another from Florida, drove to Houston to see me.  How delightful it was to see them as it had been thirteen years.   Nice surprise.

One of my main reasons for heading up and staying a little later then usual was to be there for my grandson's high school graduation.  He is the son of my daughter Jennifer.  We got to spend time together and it was encouraging to hear what his plans are for the near future.  Kids today are so
smart!

Here is Christopher with his long time girlfriend Kayla.  A sweet, lovely young lady.  Graduation was out of doors and wouldn't you know, there was a minor monsoon that day which made it seem that there would be no outdoor graduation, but, it cleared, the sky was so clear that the stars and moon were beautiful.  The cool breeze added to the enjoyment of watching five hundred plus kids file up to get their diplomas.  Of course I was all choked up to see my grandson walk up to get his diploma and wishing that his Mom could be there to witness this auspicious event...........but, maybe she was  - in spirit.

Then we got together another time, about a week later to celebrate his graduation. 
We met at the Flying Dutchman restaurant in Kemah, on the water, to hear all about his future plans.  My sister-in-law, Annette and brother Bill, were with me.  It was a fun time.

There were many highlights in this trip, this was one of them.  Much, much more to share in the next few days.  It will take several posts for this three week saga.

I'm back home in San Miguel.  There is no place like home even though I was well taken care of in each place that I laid my head from Houston to Omega Bay to Seabrook to Austin and back to Houston.  Whew!  It was a journey.








Friday, May 26, 2017

Meeting New People

Traveling is always an interesting time.  One meets or greets a bevy of people in an eight hour period or however long one is traveling.  Wednesday was no different.  It was actually enjoyable.

Oscar was the van driver who drove me to Leon for my flight.  Then there were three passengers besides myself.  John, Ellie and the husband of Rebecca who never said his name.  John lives very close to me, farther up the hill.  He was on his way to Corpus Christi.  We have many mutual friends it turns out.  Then Rebecca's husband indicated that she is in real estate.  To prove it is a small world, she and my son John have a real estate sale that they are working on to close!

Ellie was visiting San Miguel for the first time for a week.  She is from Portland, Oregon..  A retired school teacher and cosmetic tattoo person.  She came to check out San Miguel.  She had already found a house for sale and was going back to sell everything and move.  One week!  I suggested she not sell her house yet in Portland, but, rather, come down for six months, rent and make sure.  Yikes,
people astound me when they make such a major decision so fast.

My flight to Houston was uneventful and smooth.  With a half empty plane, I was able to sit where I was on the row alone and look out the window when the Gulf of Mexico came into sight.  Aaah.  Water.  It is always astonishing to see how green the fields are in Texas after being in a semi-arid area for a year.  Gorgeous.

Even getting through customs and all that rigamarole was smooth and before you know it, I was at the Super Shuttle counter to get my ride to the rental car lot in Houston.   Johnny was the driver.  A lifelong resident of Houston, he was fascinated to hear about Mexico.  Truly fascinated.  He asked lots of questions. And, you know me, I love talking about Mexico.  By the end of the ride, I would not be surprised if Johnny and his wife werw to show up in San Miguel for a visit!

Got the rental car with no problem.  I had used Hotwire for the first time.  Saved $450USD on a three week rental.  Amazing!  Who knew?

Thankfully I know my way around Houston.  Even though it was a little after 4PM and fast approaching that 5 o'clock traffic, I quickly got on West Gray to San Felipe and was at my destination in about 20 minutes.  Smooth as glass.  Amazingly.

All in all, it is surreal to get up in Mexico and then to be having dinner in Houston.  We live in a
great time of conveniences and interesting people.

Yesterday was the day for the dreaded task of going to AT&T to get minutes in my US cell phone for the time I'm in the USA.  I knew it would not go smoothly..........and it did not.  It seemed at first that it was. but when I tried to use the phone with the minutes on it before I left AT&T, it would not work.
It turns out that that series of phones no longer is "viable" as they have stopped allowing service on it even though I purchased it only three years ago.  Long story short, I ended up buying a new phone with minutes.  It's a flip top phone.  Last night I discovered that I can even take photos with it.  The cost of the phone and the minutes - slightly over $100USD. 

I must say that Gary at AT&T was the most patient and persistent man in helping both myself and my friend Martha.  If he did not know the answer, he either figured it out or got help.  It turns out his wife writes a blog and free lances for the Houston Chronicle and other publications.  She even has a book deal coming up.  Interesting all the things you learn without even expecting to by talking with people that you meet along the way.

One major observation of the past two days has been the courtesy of people.  My friend Martha has a walker.  People have stopped in parking lots to allow us to cross in front of them.  They have held doors as we entered restaurants both coming and going.  It is lovely to see the courtesy and manners of strangers as well.  It is expected in San Miguel.  I was not sure how it would be in a big city.  I had forgotten how welcoming Houston is.

Welcome to the USA!