Saturday, January 06, 2018

Outtahere - Heading for the Beach at Rincon de Guayabitos

Every year I'm ready to escape the cold nights and relatively chilly days by heading to the West coast of Mexico, somewhere in the area of the Costa Allegre - between Barra de Navidad and the Bay of Tenacatita on the Pacific Ocean. 
Above is a photo taken last year from the beach at La Manzanilla of the sunset over the bay.

But, this year, I'm heading farther north with many friends to Rincon de Guayabitos - a first for me.

Guayabitos is north of Puerto Vallarta.  It has been known in the past to have a cold wave come through, so I have hesitated to ever go that far north.   But, nothing ventured is nothing gained Besides, I have checked the weather for the whole time we are going to be there.  It appears it will
be in the mid 80's during the day and mid 60's at night.  Perfecto.

Many years ago, when Matilda, my granddaughter was born, we drove to Sayulita for her first "toe dipping" in the Pacific.  It has been that long since a trip to this area has been made - ten years!

Looking forward to taking a boat out to see the whales and another boat to go through the mangroves to San Blas.  Not to mention the time spent, sitting with my toes in the sand while sipping a pina colada!  A lot of the time...........

Hopefully there will be some exploring and maybe I'll discover an unoccupied beach such as Tecuan.  That was quite an adventure last year when we got locked in on the property.  By blowing my horn, someone came and let us out!  It was worth it to see this pristine area, however.

One day there is a planned trip to Puerto Vallarta.  THAT is where I always thought I would end up living starting in the 70's!   When I had a design project to restore the first home built by an ex-pat there, I stayed for six weeks.  Then I pined over it for months after I returned to reality.  Somehow
though, I did not end up there.  Luckily so, as it is now high rises and not the jungle town that I visited, lo those many years ago.  I do plan to go to PV and see some old haunts along with some old friends.

Interestingly, our weather has been mild the last couple of weeks.  In fact, it is still cold nights but the days have been in the 70's.  Yesterday was 76 at my house.  Aaaah......  Good news.  Some friends arrived a few weeks ago and said it was 28F below when they left their home in the North.  I cannot even imagine - nor do I want to imagine, living in that kind of weather.  I am SO grateful to have sunshine here almost every day.

Nine nights of sunsets over the ocean will be something to enjoy, photograph and experience.  It was a last minute plan that will bring dividends of relaxation, restoration and reflection.

What a great way to start 2018. Viva Mexico!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Paradise Lost - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

It started in 2008 with the designation of San Miguel de Allende along with Atotonilco as World Heritage sites.  It was a project that was worked on for several years to get the designation.  It
was and is an honor.

It did not seem, at first, to make a difference in our lives other then the excitement that we all
felt about this place that we called home and loved so much.

In about 2012, a huge tourist board campaign was started by the country and our state to bring
more tourism to Mexico and to San Miguel.

In the past, the breakdown of tourists was about 80% from outside of Mexico and about 20% Mexican nationals.  Now, the campaign was to encourage Mexican nationals to travel more within their country.  A big push to improve roads, add more toll roads and provide more information about
little known places was ongoing.  The mix of tourism in SMA now is 80% Mexican nationals and 20% from outside of Mexico.

Fast forward a few years and the fruits of the Tourism Board's campaign began to be quite noticeable.

On weekends, starting Friday about noon, the traffic was streaming into town.  The cars jammed the narrow cobble stoned streets with an attempt to find a place to park or a parking lot or something.  The narrow cobble stoned sidewalks were filled with people attempting to walk on them and not on the streets.  Centro was becoming a mad house from Friday til Sunday night. 

About the same time, Conde Nast named San Miguel the best place in the world to visit!  Most of us
were flabbergasted.   That is when the onslaught of people began to happen.  A couple of years ago.

We locals were astounded and learned to avoid the crowds, if possible, and find ways to get around town without getting into the gridlock of traffic.  For those who must drive, this became a nightmare.  Add to that, the taxi drivers were muttering because with all the traffic, it was nigh on to impossible for them to make much money in a day as they were stuck in traffic most of the time as well.  Many a conversation that I have had with the taxi drivers has ended with them bemoaning the fact that another weekend was coming up.

The Mayor of San Miguel lauded the fact of increased tourism in the Atencion newspaper a week or so ago by saying that we, in this little village of 50,000 people, had over one million visitors in 2016 and the increase in 2017 was another 1.2 or 1.7 million visitors.  Giving us a grand total of over two million visitors!  It is a nightmare of epic proportions.

San Miguel is a very compact town that one can walk from one side to the other in thirty minutes.  When I could walk, I did it time after time.  Sadly I no longer can walk the distance, but trust me, it is very compact.  Can you imagine that many people in a town this size along with their vehicles?

The government keeps saying they are going to build parking lots on the outskirts of town and have trolleys or buses or whatever to get people into town.  This has been said for at least three years, if not more.  Nothing so far.

One of the great fears that the UN World Heritage Site Selection committee has is the loss of quality of life upon designation.  That fear, sadly,  has come to fruition in San Miguel.  Many of us do not and can not leave our homes from Friday to Sunday evening or Monday morning........

Hopefully someone in our government is going to "snap to it" and do something to rectify this mess.

Times to visit when there is not that much traffic is April, when the Snowbirds leave.  Then for a couple of months, when people seem to think it is hot here, there are not that many tourists.  Times not to come are Easter, Independence Day,(September 15th), Day of the Dead - October 30th to November 2nd and Christmas from December 15th til January 6th which is Three King's Day.  That is, unless you like big crowds.

Do I still love San Miguel as I start my eighteenth year here soon?  Of course.  But, I would like to see it be livable again for those of us who live here along with being more enjoyable for those who visit!

Viva Mexico.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Tuna Trail

Sometime this summer, the Mama feral cat who wandered through my garden for over a year from time to time had three babies.  Two black and white along with one grey tabby.  Sweet.

She hid them under the huge aloe vera  at the back of the garden.  It is much taller then I and has thorns that could cause severe damage.

Hence, I did not attempt to retrieve them so they would not be feral.  I waited for the mama to bring them out to me.  Well, she did not exactly do that.  Common sense told me I did not want FOUR cats anyway,  therefore I did not feed them.  I called the animal shelter to see if they could help me catch them and the bottom line was no.

Now, before you get upset with me, I also knew that there were enough locusts and varmints on the edge of the canyon and in the canyon to feed a herd.  Add to that all the garbage that is strewn daily in the fenced in area of the primary school daily........

But, at some point, recently, I began feeding them with the thought that I could catch one or two and have them fixed and, if like Velcro the Cat, would no longer be feral, but would turn into lap cats.
I have failed in the last two months at that endeavor.

However, week before last I returned Scout the Dog to his rightful owner,k my son and grandchildren on a Thursday afternoon. Whew.  No pets.

Au contraire, while I was over visiting with the people in the guest house, ALL the cats came in the house, looked around and were about to leave when I returned home.  Oops.  There was the Mama
and only two of the kids - the grey tabby and one of the black and white ones.

The one STILL in the house, hiding, is the black and white one that has been following me around.

When I go up on the roof terrace, she climbs the tree and sits up there watching me.  She is an
acrobat and loves to zoom up the tree by the bird bath.  She is the one with the most personality.
One, I thought, I would love to have for a pet.

That is, until I tried for two days to catch her inside the house to put her outside!  "Hide and seek"
took on a whole new meaning.  She "hid" and I was "seeking".

It was hard to believe that there are so many hiding places, even in one room.  The living room.
She would get behind the sectional sofa and with my cane, I would try to herd her out.  Then she would run somewhere else before I could catch her.

At one point, I thought she had gone out since I was leaving the door by the kitchen open near her food bowl.  But, she left me a "gift" which told me that she indeed was still in the house.

The night before I finally did get her out of the house, I heard crashing and banging and all kinds of  commotion.  With all the windows, she was seeing her brother and sister and mama outside.  She was running at the door and window trying to get out.  BUT when she saw me, she would run and hide.
It was aggravating.

Then, my daughter Julie said, "tuna".  Ahh ha, why had I not thought of that?  That morning I put a little bitty pile near the long built in bench and walked into the dining room.  Zip, she got it. Then I put a little bitty pile near the end of the sectional and the stairwell, closer to the door.  Zip, darn that cat is FAST!  I was on to a solution.  Little bitty piles of tuna led to the open door and her outside
food bowl.

Voila!  After almost 48 hours, she was outside.  Yippee.  All the time she was IN the house, her family never left.  They were in the garden, where they could see the windows and her.  Very interesting............

Needless to say, I do not want a replay of this again.  Now I'm very, very careful to close that door behind me.  She is always sitting there when I go out. I don't have a cage to catch her.  After seeing her with her whole family, the conundrum is..........."Do I keep feeding them or catch one or two or what?"

Here is a photo of her yesterday when I was downstairs in my bedroom and she came down to see if I was there.  Isn't she beautiful?

 Life is ALWAYS an adventure!

Friday, December 29, 2017

A LITTLE of this and a WHOLE LOT of that!

Yes, I realize it has been twenty days since I last posted, but to say it has been a whirlwind, would be an understatement.  More like a hurricane of activities! 

I now have my desktop computer back but cannot use I'm writing on the laptop still.
When I tried to go on Yahoo, it was in Russian.  I worried about that all night as the hack from
Wanna Cry was from Russia, I think.  The computer guy will be here next week to figure out
how to get that off and how to get me back on US. Yahoo.  They would not take my password
as they said there had been unusual activity.  Sheesh.

Add to that the construction of the Plaza right outside my house, down the hill, where they have
removed three fourths of the cliff, is going on in earnest.  They brought the BIG machinery in a
few weeks ago.

The crane is humongous and lifts huge slabs of concrete into the hole that they dug to China!  The truck that brings all the concrete and the crane is so wide, that none of us can park our cars in front of our houses at present.  It makes a large sound, LOUD to let one know it is coming.  They come and go daily.  It is quite a production.

I wish I could see a rendering of the new Plaza so I would understand all that is going on........
Eventually, we'll all know.  When, is as good a guess as any.

During all this has been cookie baking time, decorating the house, a little and having Christmas.

Very little decorating this year.  There are Nativity scenes all over, but I did not photograph them.  Almost all Christmas cookie baking and Christmas itself happened at my son's new home..........YEAH.
What fun Mati and Seb and I had baking cookies.  No mixer, so we improvised.  The frosting in the bag was hard as a rock so we put it in the microwave to soften it.  And then, of course, we only had two cookie cutters, a star and a heart.  That's okay, the kids and I had fun.  And the laughter at the orange and turquoise sprinkles made me realize that nothing has to EVER be the same.  I don't think there was a red or green iced cookie in there!

 The tree went up on Christmas Eve...........the LAST tree left at the mercado!  Whew.  Here, John and Seb are trying, desperately, to get the star up on the very top.  They are on a ladder and I am holding my breath.  That star is from my first Christmas as a married woman so it is ancient.  Fifty seven years ago!  It is time to replace it with a lighted pretty star.  We all agreed.
 Stockings were duck taped to the concrete mantel............hilarious.
 And, we toasted each other with pomegranate juice for the kids, a baby bottle for Mati's doll and white wine for the adults.  It had been a few days of cooking for me to provide our first Christmas
Eve dinner.  Baked ham, au gratin potatoes, English peas, corn souffle, corn bread, and cookies among other things.  Yes, all was cooked in my toaster oven with the exception of the ham which
was cooked in John's oven with a glaze of dijon mustard and orange marmalade.  Very, very tasty!
 Another new tradition was opening one gift after dinner.  Sebastian is clapping because his Dad
got new flannel pajamas.
 Matilda got a Sketcher watch!
 And, Sebastian got a Max Steele character with all kinds of accessories..ALL were happy.
          Here's a few of the old Christmas decorations from past years that came from Texas.
                Sparklers outside with Dad helped to bring the evening to an end........
            And, Santa and the reindeers had a veritable feast.  A carrot for each reindeer, milk and six
decorated cookies for Santa.  The first thing the children did when they came down Christmas morning was to make sure the carrots had been eaten along with the cookies.  Along with the food, there were many notes and decorations for Santa made my Mati and Seb!
Christmas gift opening was full of squeals of delight and laughter and happiness.  In this photo you can see some of it all.  The kids got these "wheelie" shoes that were amazing.  One of their favorite things.  Books was another thing they were happy about.  Just a great morning followed by ham and eggs and bagels along with LOTS of coffee for the adults.  

That was a wrap!  In the midst of all of this, on the day that we baked cookies, Scout, the dog got out and had taken off on a little side trip.  Oh my, that was stressful.  Street by street we drove,  no Scout.  I figured someone had taken him in.  Sure enough, a lovely lady named Ana had and on Christmas Day afternoon, Scout and John along with the children, were reunited.  A happy, happy ending!

By then I was home and recuperating from three non-stop days.  Yes, indeed, I admit I was ready to do nothing.....Period!

On to the next adventure!  I know there will be one because life around here is NEVER dull.

Hope your holidays were happy, joyful and that you are looking forward to 2018, as I am

Happy New Year - 2018.  WOW!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Snow in Mexico - lots of it

I have not posted since the one about the furniture for sale as my desktop computer bit the dust on a Saturday night a week ago.  Aaargh.  The computer guy took it to see what he could save and called
once to say it is a "mess" and then no other words.  I'm not optimistic.  

I'm now writing on the laptop which I cannot type fast on, so this IS a labor of love and aggravation.

The excitement around here is the cold, the amount of snow just two hours north of here and the
fact that as I write this, the highway 57 from Laredo to San Miguel is shut down!  Of course, I have
friends supposedly arriving tomorrow who are driving.  I'm so hoping that my email to them reaches them before they attempt to cross the border.

The photos that I have seen show eighteen wheelers backed up for as far as the eye can see!  Yikes.

And, just in case you want to know, YES, it is as cold as "a rat's ass in Alaska" here.  Twenty-six on the downstairs thermometer this morning at 8:30AM!  Brrr.  Sixty-one F. inside the house.  YES, my nose and hands are cold.

But, the solution is to go outside and sit in the sun to thaw.  I'm going to do that in just a minute or two.  Just thought you would want to know how things south of the border are fairing.

One word - COLD!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Exquisite Furniture Sale in San Miguel de Allende

Anyone who has attempted to find quality made custom furniture here in San Miguel has found it to be an adventure. 

There are a couple of good consignment shops and a couple of quality stores with good quality furniture at very expensive prices.

Most of us here wait for Estate Sales and sometimes Garage Sales.  However, most expats sell their houses furnished, so finding  really, really beautiful things is a test of patience and determination.

Well, a friend of mine is selling a GREAT quantity of exquisite furniture made in Mexico City.
The finest of the fine.  Photos below are just some of the items of furniture, art and bronzes.

                                           Beautiful hand rubbed finish on the table and chairs
                                          Slip covered three seater sofa with beautiful frame
                                               Traditional Mexican chair covered in leather
                                                                   Antique armoire
                                                                Lyre back arm chair
                                                       Comfortable rocker
                                              Comfortable and beautiful Queen Anne chair
                                               Barley twist arm chair with beautiful fabric
                                        TWO custom made white sofas in very good condition

                                                                     A bronze
                                                            Nicely framed art
                                                            Exquisite piece
                                                        All iron headboards are custom made
                                                          Custom made armoire

                                                               Another bronze
                                                                    More art
 Believe it or not, this is just a sampling.  In addition there are more tables and chairs, a leather sleeper sofa in black, bedside tables. There are bed linens, lamps and a washer and dryer.  You will just have to call and set up an appointment with Carmen to go to her home and see all of it.  The prices, believe me, are incredibly reasonable.

Carmen is taking calls to set up appointments to see everything.  The appointments will begin on
Wednesday and go on until ALL is sold.  Carmen's phone number is 552-106-8070.  Yes, this is
a Mexico City cell phone but Carmen lives in SMA.  If you are calling from a land line phone you
will put 01 in front of the number.  If you are calling from the USA, dial 011521552-1068070.  Note
the 1 after 01152.  Hopefully this will work!!!  Prices WILL NOT be given out over the phone as it is not even finished being priced............

Carmen will be waiting for your call and to set up an appointment with you.  I promise that you won't be disappointed in the beauty or quality of anything she is selling.  Wish I could have photographed all of it.........

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Daily Life in Mexico.........especially San Miguel de Allende

The other day, as I left the sanctuary of my gardens, to head down the hill to centro, the first thing I saw was that the primary school across the road was having a grand celebration of the upcoming holiday honoring The Revolution.

I knew something was going on at 8AM as I heard the six boys and multiple others practicing their bugle playing and drumming in preparation for the big parade on Monday - supposedly starting at 9AM  I say supposedly because I can assure you it will be near 11AM before it gets to the jardin.

Anyway, the boys have been attempting to play the same tune in synchronization for the last three weeks after school, but playing at 8AM, I knew something was up. The drummers are all over the place and never beating the drums at the same time.  I'll look for them on Monday as that is the day that the little children dress up like Pancho Villa and crew to march along.

Honoring the Revolution is a big deal in Mexico.  It is when the reign of Porfirio Diaz ended and the haciendas were turned over to the people beginning in 1911 virtually ending the slavery of the people of Mexico.  Hard to realize that Mexico did not reach real independence until 1917 - only 100 years ago.  THAT explains a lot.

 I no longer can walk down the hill, so I drive and park in the same lot on Mesones every time.  Even though the door is always closed to not allow more cars, they always open it for me!  Secret - I bake home made cookies for the men who work there and give them tiny gifts of food at Christmas.  They take good care of me and I treasure them.  As I left the car, the man who gives me the ticket had a new pal with him, the dog above.  I had such a chuckle when I realized that instead of a fancy store bought sweater, he had taken a regular shirt, shortened it and put it on the dog.  When I saw the dog wandering around, I said "sit" and he obediently did so and I took the photo.  To be honest, I could have taken him home with me if it would have been possible.  Look at that face......
 I head to the jardin to my favorite bench when I do go down to centro.  As you know, I like to sit and watch the world go by.  Lotsa tourists in town for the three day weekend.  The previous night the taxi
drivers who took me somewhere were bemoaning the fact that on Friday, all the tourists would be arriving again.  They have.  I've been told there is not a hotel room available this weekend!

When the tourists are coming, the hat guys are there to sell hats to them.  It would be interesting to know how many of those things they sell in a day!  I bet it would be an astronomical number.  That, along with the balloon man, who always has to go back for more balloons in the afternoon. 

 As I was sitting there, a little girl went cartwheeling through the jardin.  I don't know if you can see her arms above the bench.  She went from one end to the other and then.........
 turned around and went the other way.  That's her getting up from a cartwheel in the photo below.
Notice, no one is paying attention.  Hilarious.
 As I was heading home later that afternoon, another scene caught my eye.  It was the guys and gals dressed up as chickens who dance around and wave at people in front of Pollo Feliz, a local chicken
restaurant, that is loved by the locals.  Obviously they were having a conference or something and no antics were going on.   The parking lot at Pollo Feliz, which is the largest restaurant parking lot in San Miguel, was packed with cars.
Life is NEVER dull in Mexico or San Miguel for sure!