Wednesday, March 21, 2018

SPRING is here!

BUT. not daylight savings does not happen in Mexico until April 1.  What that means is that IF we want to watch the US national news, we have to remember to turn the TV on at 4:30PM.

Needless to say, I remember once in a while.

The photo above was taken last year while I was in Houston.  I have never seen this flower before or since.  IF anyone knows what it is called and what kind of climate it needs to grow, please let me know. 

It looks to me like those little flowers that bloom in bogs in the South, but I was not in or near a swamp or bog when I saw these. 

EVERYTHING in the last week has started to bloom all over San Miguel.  A plethora of colors from fuscia to lavender to yellow and every shade in between. 

The hummingbirds are zooming around.  The monarchs are flying through heading north, but, first, stopping to refresh on both the nectar from the jacaranda trees and everything else that has nectar.
They will have a long journey over much desolate land as they head North.  Water will not be plentiful either so I always have birdbaths full as well as other water sources for them.

From the TV it appears that the North and especially the Northeast are getting hammered with snow.
What a mess.  Then it appears the West Coast is getting hammered with rain.  Another mess.

Not gloating, but we have the most consistent weather of any place that I have ever lived.  From now, until mid-May, it will be in the low to mid 80's during the day with sunshine and then in the high 50's to 60's at night.  Absolutely perfect.  Then there will be about four weeks of temps in the 90's, but still low, low humidity.  That will end when the rains come in mid-June.   The temps then drop back into the high 70's or low 80's during the day.  It remains that way through the rainy season or til October.  Blissful weather, spoken like a Texas girl who remembers humidity and heat very well.

The snowbirds will leave the first of April and the sweatbirds won't come to town til July and the first part of August.  The town will be muy tranquila.  

And, so it goes.............

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The "Best" of the Bench

When I'm "out of sorts" and feeling slightly grumpy, for one reason or the other, a trip to "the bench" seems to make everything right in the World.

I managed to get there yesterday!  It is not that easy anymore as they have closed the streets around the jardin so it is about a three block walk, with cane in hand, always looking down to avoid holes and tilted cobblestones.   But, I got there!

It was a National Holiday and so it was apparent there would be lotsa people there to celebrate the birthday of Benito Juarez.  I was not disappointed.

Along with visitors, however, there were the regular "benchinistas" such as, Bella the dog, who was stretching out and laying sprawled so all that saw her had to walk around her.  It is such a treat just to observe all the comments, photos, petting and other things people do when they see Bella.

Many, many Asian tourists in town yesterday.  One was a young woman who with her beautiful camera was taking many photos of Bella.  We started talking.  She is from China but a student in the USA at John Hopkins University.  She is here for Spring Break.  Her English was so perfect that if she had not told me that she is from China, I would have assumed that she was from the USA.  What a lovely person.

After she left a couple sat down next to me.  The man went over to rub Bella's ears and her stomach.
I've never, in all these years. seen Bella that excited.  After all she is a Bassett Hound and not prone to displays of excitement.  Usually rather droll.  Well, the belly rub really, really thrilled her.

I figured if that man was that gentle and kind to Bella that it might be nice to talk to he and his wife.
Indeed it was.  They are from Ottawa and come each year for close to two months.  They do indeed
love Mexico and San Miguel.  We covered a huge range of subjects.  Some of which made the three of us laugh out loud.  It is always very interesting to me to talk with Canadians.  They have a wider world view, IMHO.  Their perception and sadness of what is going on in the USA is eye opening.

These people along with many Canadians that I have talked with in the last year or so tell me that they arrange their flights here and home so that they fly OVER the USA and do not have to deal with US Customs in the USA due, often, to their rudeness.  Wow, what a sad commentary.............Often the rudeness is not directed at them, but Mexican people on the same flight that have to go through Customs.  A viewpoint through another person's eyes.

After about an hour of conversation this couple moved on to things they needed to do and then my great and old time friend Angie sat down.  Angie and I have known each other since I moved here.
She came here from Haiti over twenty years ago.  A fantastic artist and lover of life along with all things that have to do with cats.  She even painted a cat on the front of her house!  We caught up with each other's news and then parted ways.

Reluctantly, I had things that I needed to do or I could have sat and watched the panorama of people for hours.  It is NEVER a dull moment in the jardin.  It is one of the beautiful things about Mexico.  Parks are used.  Benches are used and one need never be lonely.  Walk to the jardin and it is like you are in a National Geographic Special. 

I certainly needed that yesterday..............Viva Mexico!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mexico First Choice for Second Home Buyers in USA

There was an interesting article in Mexico News Daily online newspaper this week, which quotes interesting information on real estate in Mexico.

The article is about a survey on a website "Point 2 Homes" which tracked the number of searches by US citizens interested in purchasing housing in Mexico.

With approximately 64,000 searches per month, Puerto Vallarta was first, followed by San Miguel de Allende with close to 7,000 searches per month.  It appears that the fact that there is "an alluring cultural scene" here added to the interest.  Mexico City only had a little over 2,000 searches, surprisingly.

After San Miguel were three more beach towns, Playa de Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and #5 was Cancun.  Beach towns are a whole different vibe from San Miguel.

It might help to explain some of the reasons why SMA is being inundated with people looking at and buying properties rather rapidly these days.

That and all the accolades from various publications over the last three or four years.  It certainly is astounding to us "oldtimers".

I'm meeting people from Hawaii, San Francisco, Boston, South America!  You name it - they are coming.............People with the ability to buy anywhere in the World who are choosing San Miguel.  Interesting, accomplished people who I look forward to getting to know.

My son, who is in real estate with CDR/Christie's, confirms what this article says.  Yes, they are coming and they are buying, whether it is a second home or a primary residence.  Many are doing as I did many years ago and choosing a less stressful and simpler life, South of the Border. 

Having heard from many of you blog readers in the last few weeks who are in town, it occurred to me after reading this article, that perhaps I should give out my son John's contact information.

John has been in the business world for many years.  According to his clients, in words they have shared with me, they say, "He is the most professional, organized, and knowledgeable" person they have ever worked with...........(makes a Mom's heart happy).  Not only that, but John has said to me from time to time that he told this person or that, that the house they thought they wanted was not right for them in one way or the other...........Yes, former clients tell me he was a huge help in directing them to the right house and the right property.

Here is his contact information:  John Eckrote 044 415 124-4755.  His email address is  Contact him if you are interested in seeing real estate in San Miguel.  He's laid back and low key.
Welcome to San Miguel!  I always look forward to meeting readers of the blog when ya'll are in town. Thanks for taking time to comment so often and for staying in touch.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Ambience of Gentility

Hopefully with words, I will be able to express something that happened last week which was exceptional to me.

Recently I contacted the plastic surgeon who had operated on my right arm when it went through the plate glass window.  Impressed with his professionalism and his aura, I wanted to see if he could
refer me to an orthopedic surgeon in the area to read some x-rays and confirm that I did indeed
need knee replacement.

The assistant in the USA to the orthopedic surgeon that is supposed to perform this surgery suggested that I do this now rather then wait until I got to Houston and then be told that "No the knee was not that bad".  Although I knew otherwise.

My expectation was that Dr. Bosco would, by telephone, give me a name and number.  But instead
he invited me to his office to discuss my needs.  My appreciation for his time was expressed with gratitude to him.

In the USA we are used to ten minute appointments.  Twenty if we are lucky.  Not here in Mexico.

Dr. Bosco greeted me and invited me to be seated.  We talked about my knee and impending surgery but then we also talked about a great honor that had been bestowed on him recently.

He was very humble when he told me that he had been inducted into the International Association of Plastic Surgeons.  There are 8000 plastic surgeons in the World in this group.  Quite an honor for Dr. Bosco.  In the ensuing conversation, at my questioning, I found out that he had performed operations all over Europe.  I, of course congratulated him profusely on this honor. 

Jokingly, I told him that it would have been nice the day of my accident to have known of his celebrity as the fear was deep in my bones at the idea of that surgery.  We laughed about that.

Then he changed the subject to my blog.  To say that I was surprised would be an understatement.  I'm always surprised when someone tells me they read the blog but especially this man who is so busy.   He complimented me and said it was apparent that I loved Mexico.  And then he said something that was, to me, the ultimate compliment.  He said, "It is not always the words that you write, but what is between the lines".  Staggering.  A beautiful thing to say.

It is hard, unless you live in this country, to understand the beautiful manners and gentility of the people of Mexico.  The criticism and unkindness toward the people from ignorant people who have never been to Mexico cuts deep.   

This recent experience with Dr. Bosco is one of many that have been my experience in the many years that I have been honored to be in this country.  I could list at least a hundred more but right now I want to savor the kindness and generosity of this man.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, the orthopedic surgeon drove an hour to meet with me to look at the x-rays and to see me walk.  Then he wrote a letter to give to the doctor in Houston.
Cost?  No charge.

Yes, the ambience of gentility is alive and well in Mexico.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Life From Another Elevation

This post is being written while I am staying at my son John's home in the suburbs of San Miguel.

Things are from a different perspective out here in the enclaves.

For one thing, it is flat.  No views other then the houses that surround one.  It gives me a different

I have found things to watch and enjoy.

The trees are leafing out.  One is a pear tree with delicate blooms.   There are plenty of birds but not many hummingbirds.

There also is a cadre of squirrels whose sole intention is to eat as much of Scout, the dog's food as
is possible.  There is a whole system of the "watch squirrel" who sits at the corner of the roof behind my son's house and in some manner, lets the squirrels know when the coast is clear.  They scurry down, one at a time and fill themselves.  It is quite a production.

I noticed today there is no dry food.  Hence no squirrels.

Can you tell I have time on my hands?  ha.  I've got a room looking onto the backyard along with large doors and windows directly to the backyard.  I've been truly enjoying reading and watching the wildlife when the grand kids are not here.
It was at first disconcerting not to have a lot of things to do.  I'm usually busy with this and that, but somehow I've moved into a slower mode and I'm liking that everything related to the guest house and my house is being taken care of by Josefina.  She is so wonderful.

It is still eleven days until I leave.  I cannot think of what I'll do with myself for the next days other then read..............Yikes. 

Of course, maybe this is the prelude to the hectic times that will descend upon me once I'm in the big city of Houston.
And, of that I am sure.  It will be busy until the surgery.............Anything I need to buy to bring back needs to be gotten before the surgery.  Things like fabric, a new pair of shoes and maybe a few more things.
The photos in this post were all taken from the doorway of my room.  If you notice in the  photo of the bourganvilla the stone blocks, it looks like that is black mortar, but in fact that is tiny black stones wedged in between each block of the wall.  Mexican artisans continuously astound me in their attention to detail and craft.

As much as I am grateful for the fact that I am at my son's house til I leave, I do have to admit that I miss the horizons from my house on the hill.  Luckily though, I'm happy to know that the person who is residing there is enjoying the flight of the egrets and ibis every night.  The glorious sunsets and seeing the twinkle of the lights of the town as they come on each night from up on the roof terrace as well.

The person staying in the guest house borrowed my Audubon bird and butterfly guide.  He is enjoying identifying and exclaiming about the many species that alight in the gardens of the property.

It makes my heart happy when people enjoy nature in the little sanctuary that I call home.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

I've been planning the trip to Houston for knee surgery for over a month.  All plans were in motion,
but somehow the Universe was not in agreement.

We (my son and I) headed out on time Thursday morning at 7:30AM.  Estimated time of arrival
at the border was to be nine hours later.  The cooler was packed with food along with suitcases packed for staying in Texas for three months.  One carry on suitcase was packed with gifts for grand kids. 

It was a unique experience because 99% of the time, I am driving alone.  However this time my son was adamant that he was going to go with me as far as Laredo and then take the bus back to San Miguel.  I acquiesced thinking it would be nice to have company and time to talk.

About two hours into the trip, we hit MAJOR road construction which had Hwy 57 down to one lane for a long, long time.  It took us one and a half hours of idling, slowly crawling along and finally we got through it.  Us and about 300 long haul trucks plus cars of course.

We hit the midway point, Matehuala in six hours.  It usually takes four and half.  We sighed and said that we would definitely not make it to the border in nine hours which is typical.

Little did we know what was getting ready to happen.  We bypassed Matehuala and about thirty minutes north, the car went from normal on the heat index to HOT.......that fast.  We immediately pulled over as soon as we could.  It was where a young man was selling honey and there was a very rudimentary house there.  This is desolate, desert country.  Obviously we were not the first car to overheat as he came with a big bucket and water.  He and my son spent the next thirty minutes getting
the car cooled down to the normal range.

In the meantime, we had talked and said we needed to go back to Matehuala where there is a motel that we have stayed in in the past 20 years and they could help us with a mechanic.  It took us
an hour of repeating the water on the radiator, and sitting on the side of the road til the car cooled down as a gazillion 18 wheelers went roaring by us.  (I'm not exaggerating)

We did get to Las Palmas.  I was quite a sight as I went into the lobby and told the man I hoped he had a room and a good car mechanic.  He instantly called the mechanic and then got a room for us.

The mechanic was there in thirty minutes.  He worked til dark and we all hoped that what he had done fixed it.  Unfortunately when we left the next day we only got thirty miles down the road, heading back to SMA, before the car overheated again.  John called the mechanic and we limped back to the motel, met the mechanic, and got our old room back.  We hoped we could still leave that day as it was now only 8:30AM.  It was not to be.  More major work.  The car was ready by 3PM, but we were not willing to take a chance of going back and getting caught in construction traffic again and having to drive in the dark.  It's a good thing we did not try.


We DID leave yesterday morning.  All was well.  We DID get to the construction traffic going south, but by some miracle or blessing, they diverted a few of us onto the road heading northbound and we zoomed by stopped traffic heading south for about thirty minutes!  Oh thank heavens that we were not in that again.


We DID arrive in San Miguel yesterday with no problems.  H alleluia.  I have thanked my son over and over for being there and taking care of that mess.  I am at his house in his guest room until I can reschedule things with the doctor's office as there was no way for me to get there by the appointment time of Monday morning at 9:55AM  Once the preliminary appointment was cancelled, that also cancelled the surgery as they need nine days before meeting, tests and then surgery.  It is what it is.

You may wonder why we came back here and did not go forward to the border.  Well, we both were not confident about the car.  Plus, the area north of Matehuala is very mountainous along with being very desolate.  No way  did I want us to be stranded in that area.  It's several hours from Matehuala to Monterrey......Then there was the concern about me driving back in the car alone in May.  Nope, is not going to happen.  I'll fly from now on.

I put close to 150,000 miles on the previous car driving all over Mexico, but this episode has changed my mind radically about driving alone anymore.  Drat!  I SO love road trips.

The other thing is that the money I had set aside for Houston has gone to the back insurance premiums and now repair to the car.  I need to regroup............

It will ALL work out.  I'm so grateful for my son being with me; for the fact that we were near somewhere where we could stay safe and secure; and that we made it back here, safe and sound.

I'm telling you, you can think you've planned well, that you have everything under control, but guess what, that is not always true!  The best laid plans can definitely go awry as these have.

Who knows what will be the future plans?  It certainly is true that "Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all".  This one was a doozy. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

"Worry Never Changes the Future"

Dr. Wayne Dyer said in one of the many self-help books I read about forty years ago, "Guilt never changes the past and worry never changes the future".  I had forgotten that quote for a couple of
days.  Shame on me.

If you read the previous post, you know I was coming unglued worrying about the insurance situation, how to handle it and what would happen.  My surgery was already scheduled and I was hoping that somehow I would be there for it.

Seriously, ever since I was awakened by my brain at 1:30AM on Sunday morning, worry has been my middle name.  By this morning, after reading all of your emails and comments along with all my ruminating, I still had not made a decision how to handle the issue.  That is not like me.
Usually I make a decisive decision and go forward.

I got up at 7AM this morning ready to tackle something, somehow.  First I called the Baylor Orthopedic clinic which connected me with insurance verification.  I spoke with a very kind, efficient, woman named Michelle.  I told her the situation, gave her the information that she asked
for and I requested, well pleaded, for her to find out and call me back.  She said they usually did not handle it that way.  I told her that I had not slept for two days and she said she would get back with me.

She did.  The news was not good.  With the information that I had given her, she was told that I was no longer a customer!  Oh my.  She said I would probably have to find another insurance company and apply and try to get a new policy somewhere for supplemental insurance.  Okay...........

Then I called the bank to see what they knew, which was exactly nothing about the fact that the premium deductions had not been paid since 2016.  She said I had to talk to the insurance company.

As I dialed that number I felt like I was calling "the devil".  I'm seldom scared but I was quite stressed and a bit scared.  I told this to the young man that I reached on the phone.  His name was Tollis and we probably talked for at least 30 minutes!  First of all, I had inadvertently given to the insurance verification woman a number that is no longer used at this company as a member group number. 

It seems that in 2016, the company changed their systems and "lost the information on quite a few
customers".  I was one of them.  I was still in the system as "active".  I could not believe my ears when Tollis told me this.  You see, he took enough time while talking to me to ask me which membership card I was using. The "old ones" or the "new ones".  Since there was no issue date on either that I had, I had no idea.  Once we resolved that and I found out that the info was different then what I had provided to Michelle.  That information was what elicited the info that I was no longer an active customer.

Now Tollis reassured me that I would not have received a notice of a premium increase if I was not still an active customer.  THAT fact allowed me to pay the back premiums for all of 2017 and all the months of 2018 plus December of 2016 so I could be current.  My insurance has been reinstated
and I'm now exhaling with relief.

I can leave for Texas knowing that we can proceed with the doctor's appointment and the surgery in mid-March.  No worries.  Whew.

Thanks to each and every one of you who cared enough to comment or send me an email or called me with suggestions.  I SO appreciate each and every outreach.  It is wonderful to have such great

I'm off soon for another "great adventure".  As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a great adventure or nothing at all".  Amen.