Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

It is hard to keep up with all the new places opening weekly and monthly in San Miguel in response to the demand from locals and tourists!  Honestly, it is astounding.  Will they all last? Probably not.  However,
San Miguel does not seem to experience the failure rate that is typical in the USA.

Many places, my favorites, are the hole in the wall places like Ole' Ole' which did close but now has reopened.  At one point Bon Appetit magazine named it one of the best in San Miguel.  Great fajitas and prices. It is strange that I would like hole in the wall, undesigned places, but I do go for the food, most of the time and not necessarily the concept or ambiance that used to be designed by my firm.

Now there is a true "concept" restaurant that has opened.  It is called Fat Boy's.  Not a name that would have been chosen by me, but it is what it is.  Name aside, it is a fun, funky, well done theme restaurant.

The owner is no stranger to the restaurant scene.  He has been in the business since I moved to San Miguel, which feels like a long time ago.  He was a silent partner in Romano's with Dick Weber, then a partner in
Hansen's in a building he owned and had had a previous restaurant, lo those many years ago. 

Now there is Fat Boy's.  On a huge piece of property located on Cinco de Mayo, there are several dining rooms on the first floor and second.  Space for TV watching, darts, private parties.  You name it, Arvino
has thought of it all.  Open only part of the week from 1pm til.........check out their website for all the info.

It is being promoted as a biker bar.  No feeling of that during the day, but I hear at night it is hopping.  Especially late at night.  Since I'm usually a daytime diner, the times I've been there with friends the service has been excellent as has the food.

Ahh, the food~!  Excellent.  Trooping over there the first time was because I heard they had pate'.  The pate' that Hansen's had served.  They do.  It's yummy

.  But the other items on the menu that our group has sampled from ribs to burgers to French dip sandwiches have lifted the bar for quality and quantity here in San Miguel.

Here are a few photos:

The other point to make is that the times we have been there, both men and women are there.  It is not a typical "biker bar" with dirt and smoke etc.  In my mind, a biker bar was like the ice houses in Texas.  Enter at your own risk, sometimes.  This is in no way like that.   Oh, and did I mention that they have valet parking?  Yup, they think of everything and either own or lease a huge lot for parking! 

Across the street is another new restaurant, Pork Belly.  Oh my, delicious is all that needs to be said.  Our Friday Lunch Bunch group has been there numerous times.  We've ordered just about everything on the menu.  Everything is superb and tasty.  Everything.  The only issue is they don't open til 2PM BUT there is a solution.

Now Pork Belly has a food kiosk at the new Mercado where Don Pedro's hardware store used to be located.  I have not eaten there yet, but it is open from 8AM ..........breakfast and on.  Limited menu, but that will probably change.

There is a new place that I have not gotten to yet but which I hear has a French menu.  Oh la la!  I love French food.  It is on Mesones and called Mon Bistrot.  Owned by a French Canadian I'm told.  It is on my list of a new place to get to soon.

Yesterday our group had lunch at Grandpa's and Sons at La Aurora.  It is a diner kind of menu with hamburgers, hot dogs, great salads and milk shakes, to name a few items.  Well seasoned and well priced in a nice airy semi-outdoor setting just as you enter La Aurora to your left, it could become a favorite place in the near future.

That's about it.  I'm told there are now over 300 dining places in San Miguel.  I don't know if that includes the taco stands or not.  The number is staggering.  All restaurateurs trying to get a piece of the pie of tourists and locals, so to speak.  Buen provecho.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Code of Silence

We women of the generation that were born about the time World War II began have lived our lives in a code of silence.

We were raised to be polite, respectful, not to "make waves" and to always "be a lady".  We did it too.
Teachers, ministers, relatives, friends of our parents and others were all part of this group.

Then came our days of not having the protection of living at home.  A whole new ballgame, to put it mildly.

Not everyone in the "outside" world lived the Golden Rule.  It was shocking to me.  Having been raised in a relatively religious family and gone to Catholic girl's school for a great part of my life, there was a whole other world out there.

Marrying at 19, it was not necessary to fight that world for long.  I had the protection of my I thought.  But, when the time came that I had to work, wow, that was something else.

I'm not going to go into the details of the sexual moves, inuendos, repercussions of telling someone "hands off" or worse, but suffice to say, I'm a battle worn woman just like all the other women who have been shocked to our core by the video recording last Friday, followed by the unbelievable comments of some people who act as though it was not the words of a sexual predator.

Even though I thought I had seen and heard a lot, believe me there IS a whole other world out there that thankfully most of us had never heard of.

Who had ever heard of alt-right, Breitbart, Bannon and ad nauseum?  We all knew about the candidate as there was an opportunity to see him on a TV show previously and to read his comments which, even at the time, were disgusting........and still are abhorrent.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday night I could not sleep.  The whole saga kept replaying in my mind along with the things that I had experienced in my life.

It was a relief yesterday to hear someone else say they were shocked to their core - Michelle Obama.  Her heartfelt speech will go down in history as the "words of women".  She said it all so eloquently and with such great dignity and empathy that I thought, "Okay, I'm not alone.  Someone else was as horrified and affected as I."

The code of silence of my generation, hopefully, is over.  My freedom from sexual harrassment and sexual assault occurred when I started my own company and had the financial and moral assurance to not associate with those kind of people.  I wish this for all girls and women.  Freedom.

As Michelle Obama said yesterday, "Enough is enough!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

All GOOD News!

First of all, yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, the Vonage phone rang.  I knew it was a call from the USA, but had no idea it would be such an important call.  The Vonage phone is great because whoever calls can leave a verbal message which pops up on your computer.  The message was from the mail service who I
have been in contact with many, many times since August 24th. 

That was the fateful day that I took the precious package to them to send UPS to my grandson for his 18th birthday on September 4th.

The woman was calling to let me know that she was in Laredo and the package had been found.  Did I still want them to send it to my grandson?  Of course.  Most important though was to make sure that the correct
information was on the package as it had been a long time since I had handed it over and no telling the shape of the label or anything else.  We finished that business of reconfirming the destination.  Hopefully UPS has
picked it up this morning and the package will be at his home by the weekend.  Oh, I so hope. 

I am thrilled that it was found.  That they called and that I can now know my grandson will be able to see all
the photos of he and his Mom when he was first born and throughout his life to now.  Christopher was 5 1/2 when his Mom, my daughter Jennifer, passed on.  So, that explains why the package is so, so precious.

On another note!  Last Friday morning, the day after the earth was scraped clean of wildflowers and debris, including the motorcycle shops complete inventory, there was a big ceremony right outside my house.  Literally.  I could have watched the whole thing from the dining room window, but instead participation was
the name of the game.  I sat among my neighbors to hear what is happening.

It appears that the land that has been the walking path has been donated by the person or persons who owned it and it will become a plaza for the neighborhood.  The plaza will be where the motorcycle shop had their stuff and the part of the area will be set aside closest to the edge of the canyon for enjoying the view.

The architect, city official, heads of the colonia and who knows who else were all here for this big announcement. 

Here are a few photos.

Yes, it is apparent that there will be much noise while building whatever it is that they have planned, but for the colonia, it will be a beautiful and welcomed addition.   To say I'm thrilled that the view of all the junk from the motorcycle shop is totally gone would be a vast understatement.  I'm sure those living right close to it are
as ecstatic as me.

I'll keep you posted on how a scorched earth area becomes a place of beauty.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Wildflowers are Gone!

The canyon, along with the Obraje reservoir, is usually a very tranquil place.  So much so that the zinging of the hummingbird wings, birdsong along with butterflies fluttering, is about the most activity on a typical day.

It's a beautiful place to behold.  It is an honor and humbling to live in such a lovely place.

With all the rain since mid-June - over 20 inches - glorious wildflowers higher then the Pathfinder have adorned the dirt road next to the house.  Photos can be taken out of the car window as it slowly meanders down the deeply rutted road at about 2MPH.  Here are a few.

Imagine the feeling of "oh no" this morning around 8:30AM when the sound of a bulldozer roared through the closed windows and doors.  What the heck?

Within an hour, I'm not exaggerating, all of the wildflowers that the hummers, butterflies and birds used for foraging were GONE.  Totally.  Truly amazing to behold....and of course, very upsetting.

One of the lessons that I have learned living as an expat in Mexico is that complaining or saying something accomplishes nothing.  Plus, it is not my place to do so.  Even when it is my fondest wish to do so.

Here are the photos of the scraping of the street that was totally completed along with some kind of a barbed wire contraption that divides the street.  Who the heck knows what is going to happen?  Not me......

 Obviously no one knew this was going to happen other then the bulldozer guy and the people who put up the barbed wire.  Looking from the roof terrace down the street, the motorcycle guys were scrambling to get all their stuff out of the way.  Tonight it is all under one white tent.  I presume they are moving.......
 The boulders in the above photo are the ones that the head of the colonia had installed last year when they tried to close this path to vehicular traffic.  It did not last long.  And now, they are being used to prevent anyone from driving into a natural ravine at that point. The photo below is at the end of Day One.
 I've been having conversations with myself all day.  ""Well", I said to myself, "You had all these years
of those beautiful wildlflowers every year.  You and you alone since you are the only house that faces this scene. Be grateful"  Then later on, in another conversation with myself I said, "It could be worse, you could
be in Florida facing a horrible hurricane.  Be grateful" 

By late this afternoon it is my intention to be excited to see what new thing is going to happen out there and hopefully it will be as wonderful as looking from the roof terrace and seeing lots of hummers and butterflies.

One can always Hope..........and, Be Grateful.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Does this EVER happen to you?

The month of September started out perfectly with the Orchid Show.  It was fun to see friends both at the fiesta and the sale on September 3rd.  Needless to say, getting home without an orchid was not in the plan.
I got two.  A beautiful experience.

That was the beginning of my grandson Christopher and my granddaughter Jessica's birthday weekend also.  Angst was  part of that weekend as I waited and waited for their gifts to arrive on time......or at all.  As you know, Christopher's did not - nor has it ever arrived.

I ordered a replacement remote for my car from this great company in Georgetown, Texas named
Keyless Ride.  Having done business with them in the past, I never worried that my order would not be
processed correctly.  It was processed correctly by them, but when my mail service opened the envelope to
invoice me for the duty and processing of this order, they lost the invoice and the sheet with instructions on
how to activate the new remote.  Aargh.   Today I finally got the instructions from Keyless Ride via email.

Of course, those of you who read the blog regularly know the story of the mirror that was broken just two weeks ago.  I'm happy to report the new mirror is on the car as of this past Tuesday at a cost of 600 pesos which is about $30USD for the new mirror and the installation.  The mirror works - but now the window won't go up and down.   You have to laugh.............or!

The bumper has still not been straightened out from the bollard that a resident put in front of their house illegally and which my car decided to hit when backing up.  It's just one more thing.

But, the month is ending in rare fashion.  A ticket was on my windshield this morning when I went out to
get in it to go out of town.  And, as they do with Transito, my Texas license plate is gone!  I'm not going
anywhere.......certainly not out of town.  Truly I could not believe my eyes.  The car is parked in the same place it has been parked for ALL the years that I have lived here - sixteen~~

The city or someone, at the request of the school across from me, changed our street from two ways to one way a few months ago, which now requires all cars to go up the dirt path that is not even a street!  Seriously.  Of course my neighbors and everyone else ignores the new arrow sign painted on the school and goes happily on, as always and ignores the arrow. 

Well, I sat and waited for the policeman to come back to his vehicle which was parked on the dirt road for a couple of hours. To say I was and am irritated would be an understatement.  I don't have this red hair for nothing.........  Even after I explained the situation and asked for my plate back nicely, the answer was "No".  In fact, he told me to tell my neighbors to park the right way also!  Exasperated is my reaction.

With ten days to retrieve the license plate, this scenario is not over yet.  But, thankfully September almost is and for that I am grateful.

Do you ever have a spurt of things that go wrong, one right after another?  It's been quite a while since this
has happened to me, thankfully.  Hopefully it will be a long time before there are this many things all at once again.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Queretaro in My Rear View Mirror

The saga began ten days ago.  While leaving the Friday Lunch Bunch group, a new path home was my plan.
Someone at lunch had talked about a short cut to avoid the traffic at the roundabout or "glorieta"as
we call it.

Usually one just zips around the glorieta where four different roads intersect.  But starting about noon on Fridays and through the weekend, it can be a nightmare.  Avoidance is the trick.

Off I went to the short cut.  I was amazed to see the steep, gravel covered incline to the libramento which is a road around town.  Ahead of me were two cars.  One with Mexico City plates was at the head of us.  As
he got near the top, he started "fishtailing" and then started careening back down the gravel covered road.
Of course this caused the car right in front of me to quickly start reversing down the incline....which you can
imagine caused me to do the same.  In fact I tried to move over to the right so that if they were going to hit me, it might be a side swipe.

It was a sideswipe all right, but on the right side of the car.  For some reason there was a wooden pole in the ground, on the road and not only did my car sideswipe it from back to front, it  broke my side mirror and cracked the casing of the thing that holds the mirror onto the car.  Oy vey.  What a mess.  I just sat there with no one behind me for a second or two.  I was so stunned at what had happened in a matter of seconds.  Nothing like this had ever happened to the car.

I eventually went home slowly, got out the duct tape and covered the mirror and casing until I could get it replaced and repaired.

A person never realizes how much they use a right hand rear view mirror until one does not have it.

I was already scheduled to get new tires on Monday.  When the owner of the tire shop saw my duct tape mess, he told me his shop could get the mirror and fix it, but it would be later in the week.  Ok, well, later
is better then never.  I did get four new tires.  Good deal.

The tires were purchased when they were because I had agreed to take a friend to Queretaro to buy upholstery fabric to have her sofa and chair recovered.  Queretaro is about a forty-five minute drive
from San Miguel.  My mechanic had told me my tires were so bad that I could not leave San Miguel
with them.  Hence, the new tires. I had been procrastinating for months.

Off we went to Queretaro last week.  Beautiful drive with wildflowers blooming for as far as the eye could see.  That was the first part of the trip until we got up on the six lane highway - three lanes one way and three lanes the other  to Queretaro.

It had been about eight years or so since I had been to the area where the fabric store was located.  In my mind I could recall the landmarks.  Amazingly we drove right to it.  No one was more amazed then I.   Thankfully I had my friend Jennifer along because getting off a freeway on an exit to the right is a bit tricky without a mirror.  She was great.

We pulled into the parking garage of the center with no problems, parked, took the escalator up to where there had been an exit to the fabric store.  There was no longer an exit!  We could see the building, but not how to get to it.  Weird.  Aha, a security guard was watching us so we walked up and asked him how to
get to the Bayon Fabric store.

Then he told us it had moved the week before.  It had moved to the other side of the freeway and we would have to walk across a bridge.  So, Jen and I went out the front of the building to look at the bridge!  No way could I have walked up that high and walked across that thing.  No way.

So, we got the car, took the lateral road (feeder road to you Texans) and managed to take a turnaround and get back to the "other side".  All went well when we finally found the fabric store, bought forty meters of fabric and with it firmly ensconced in the back of the Pathfinder headed back to San Miguel.

We decided, wisely, not to take any more side trips but head back to two lane roads and MUCH slower traffic with polite drivers.   Lordy those people in Queretaro drive like demons!

We made it back safely.  I was holding my breath most of the way because of the lack of the mirror.
I couldn't get the car to the repair place fast enough the next morning.  This is what the side of the car looked like after they removed the casing and the mirror and the interior panel of the door.

To me it is fascinating to see that a car this old was so well built and was so clean inside the panel.  I don't know what I expected but nothing so orderly.

The car still has no mirror.  Over the weekend the shop was too busy to reinstall the mirror.

Rest assured that tomorrow morning the car will be at the shop first thing so it can be put back together and I'll be driving, wherever, with the ability to see as I merge to the right.

When will I be driving back to Queretaro?  Maybe another eight years.  But, I did see as I was zipping along on the highway a Tony Roma's restaurant, a Dairy Queen and of all things, a Chuck - e - Cheese restaurant for kids in a new center called Uptown spelled in English!  My goodness, the times and area is changing....a lot.

Who would have ever thought all these companies would be moving into Mexico.  There were lots more, this is just a few of what we saw.  My oh my.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oh Me, of Little Faith - Expecting a Day of Quiet in the Jardin

It would seem that the Monday morning after all the hoopla of four days of celebrations from the Celebration of Independence for Mexico would be very, very quiet.  There had been parades, dance groups, upteen thousands of visitors, tour buses, more parades, fireworks on a daily basis - morning, noon and night.  So, it WOULD seem that Monday morning would be very, very quiet.

Arriving in the jardin relatively early, ten a.m. the scene was very quiet.  There was a group of about eighteen people who were in the Patronato Pro Ninos Walking Tour group.  Visitors to San Miguel.
Not a large, boisterous group at all.  Besides these people there might have been another five people, including myself, sitting on the benches.  Ahh, the serenity of San Miguel.  It was what I wanted to see and hear.  It appeared that I was going to get my way.

Within five minutes of that thought sirens, fire alarms and the sound of emergency vehicles filled the air.
Some employees of businesses came out into the public area in front of the jardin with yellow tape signifying some kind of emergency.  I continued to sit where I was, totally dumbfounded and wondering what the heck was going on.
 The next thing that happened occurred when all these teeny, tiny little school kids in their school uniforms streamed down Hidalgo street from their school and were instructed to quietly sit on the ground.
Right behind them were an older group of kids.  The numbers were so great that they extended about three quarters of a block down Hidalgo.  They too were told to stand quietly..........

Then, the sirens, alarms, and all the other stuff stopped and they quickly and quietly walked back to whence they had come.  Just like that!

The jardin returned to its previous tranquil self.  No one yelled.  No one said what was going on but I did hear two theories later on that day.  One was that it was a disaster drill.  The other was that it was in memory of the earthquake that hit Mexico City September 19th, 1985.  In my humble opinion, it probably was the first scenario.

By the time I left the jardin at 11AM, people were streaming into the jardin.  Amazingly, all kinds of noise, sirens and a fire truck with little pre-school children came marching into the jardin and surrounded it.

Here are a few pictures of kids dressed like nurses, policemen, firemen and other assorted characters.

 By now I was sitting with the Coffee Klatch group.  None of us could figure out what was happening.  Of course there were no signs or anything to indicate what it was all about.  Just another dose of cuteness
 for all of us to appreciate.  Somehow we did decide it might have had something to do with the Red Cross or........who knows?

It was a GOOD day, but surely not a QUIET day!  Viva Mexico.