Sunday, July 08, 2018

On the Road in Mexico - The Sweeper Seller

How does anyone figure out how to write a whole story around a scene like this?  No idea.  But, it just seemed that it had to be shared with you.

The ingenuity, the creativity and the fact that this man has outfitted a bicycle to carry his merchandise
down the highway and through neighborhoods is a testament to the Mexican "can do spirit".

This photo was taken in January 2017, but has never been forgotten.  It was seen as I was heading out to the beach, an eight hour drive.  It caused me to smile and it never fails to do that, even now.

If you click on the photo, you can see all the mops and dusters and brooms that this man coming in from the campo has to sell.

It is not unusual to see trucks piled high with fruits and vegetables.  Or piled high with mattresses, maybe twenty of them, tied down with rope in the back of a pickup truck.  Or the little trucks from over in Michoacan where the great pine forests are, come in with fifty chairs tied together and loaded in the back of a pickup truck.  They defy the law of gravity. 

Truly, I've never seen them lose a load, although I'm sure it has happened.  It is just part of the joy of living in this country to see how the people manage to make life work for them.

Viva Mexico!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

A Happy Third and Fourth of JULY!

Unexpectedly, good things happened on the Third of July.  One phone call changed my day!  Isn't life always that way?

The phone call was from my son and with that it was decided that Sebastian would spend the day with me.  How wonderful!  Imagine the surprise when TWO kids showed up and Matilda was
with him!

It was great as we had not seen each other since the end of March!  Waaaaaaaaay too long.
Yes, both have gotten taller.  Add to that, Sebastian is reading like a whiz!  Speechless would be an apt expression of my surprise, as a year ago he was just beginning to learn words!  He is "off to the races".  Since, to me, reading is key to life, happiness reins.

Add to the kids being here, I was finally able to give them their presents that I brought back from Texas!  Shouts of glee was their reaction.  For Seb, it was a Nerf ball and bat along with a golf club and ball with little pockets to catch the ball.  For Mati, it was a craft box of sticky things to make things.  The kids played with that for over two hours.  It was fun to watch their creativity.  Then out came the big blocks and they made a building for the creatures they created.  Here are a few photos of that day.

                                                    As the creative juices begin to flow!
                                          The wings were a hit and fit on many characters.
                                           All their creations in their new house of blocks!
                                                     We took a selfie of the three of us!
                                    Just to sit and watch them is a BIG treat for this Grammy!

At some point we did stop for lunch of spaghetti and meat balls - home made, along with yogurt and assorted other things that they found in the fridge from time to time!

Then the next day came and the kids had school.  After all Independence Day is not celebrated in Mexico.  So they all came after school, which was perfect as it gave me all morning to cook and
get ready for them.

 Sebastian with his Fourth of July headband was hitting almost every ball his Dad threw to him.  It is amazing the hand/eye coordination that he has for an eight year old.  Sure wish there was a Little League here in San Miguel.  Seb would be so happy.
                   Here's John waiting for Seb to throw a ball to him.......Again, fun to watch!

 It was FUN to cook again for the family!  We had brisket and ribs; mac and cheese, by request; Bush's Baked Beans; and Apple Cobbler, home made.  Deeeeelicious.
John took these two photos.  I'm a "happy camper" when the family is around.  Sure wish ALL the family could have been here - we would have needed a bigger house, but it sure would have been fun!  We are saving the headbands for next year - so come on down!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Rainy Season" in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The rainy season usually starts out with a stutter in mid-June after all the rain dances and festivities and fireworks to start it.  Then it goes on into a crescendo of rain usually in August and ends by the end of September.

NOT this year.  It began on June 10th and so far we are close or  have exceeded twenty, TWENTY, inches of rain!  During a whole season, we are thrilled if we get between twenty-four and twenty-eight inches. 

This has caused all of us to modify our lives.  Again, USUALLY, the rain comes at night.  Not this year.  Do you think there is such a thing as climate change?  Wow, this has been something.

Massive flooding.  Bridges washing out.  Road to Cieneguita, which is a little community near here is washed out.  And when the bridges wash out, the people in the communities around San Miguel are stranded such as in Banda, San Miguelito, Atotonilco, etc etc etc. 

The massive flooding comes from the arroyos that empty into the Rio Laja which travels north and south.  Yesterday I saw photos of Celaya, a major city about forty-five minutes south of here.  The flooding around the Honda car manufacturing plant was monumental.  No way you could even get near it.

Add to that, right outside my windows, it is possible to look at the Hotel Aqua and see that AGAIN it has been flooded.  Last September 27th, while construction had just started to renovate an old hotel and add to it, the property flooded.   Since that time, I've lost count of how many dump truck loads of dirt have been brought in to raise the land for the new construction.  It obviously needed about another hundred dump truck load of dirt and boulders.  If that would do any good...........

Below are the latest photos taken Thursday morning.  Hard to believe that the hotel company, Live Aqua, who owns and operates many other properties in Mexico, did not do enough due diligence to know NOT to attempt to turn a wetlands into a hotel property.  After all, Club Med abandoned the project back in 1983 after a year of attempting to build and it then was flooded.  It has sat vacant since that time.

Over the eighteen years that I have been here, it has flooded at least a half dozen times.......It will be interesting if, when it is completed, the City of San Miguel gives them an occupancy permit, if they even do that in Mexico!!

Note the water rushing over the edge of the presa.  I would guesstimate it is at least thirty feet above the hotel and therefore, no amount of fill dirt is going to stop the flooding.  Also note the bulldozer which is trying, in vain, to put boulders and push dirt, to stop the flooding.  And, thirdly, look to the right of the bulldozer and you will see the rushing water going down the arroyo while the rest of it runs through the property........What a mess!

Today, as I look out, we have not had rain, finally, for twenty-four hours - thank goodness, and the water is down.  The hotel is being cleaned up and the swimming pool, which is that long narrow hole at the end of the black metal structure, is being drained and cleaned.

Someone suggested that maybe they need to introduce gondolas or kayaks to get guests from their rooms to wherever.  A fun idea under the circumstances.

It will be interesting to see how this proceeds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The United Airlines Story

It seems like a long time ago, the end of March, but sadly I'm sure what happened to me and about forty other people is probably still going on............

It's time to bring it to light.

Needing assistance now when flying by having a wheelchair ready when I get to an airport, is a real
negative.  I have been doing it for a few years and it has opened my eyes, a lot.

Two years ago when I flew into Houston and landed, a wheelchair was there waiting for me as I exited the plane.  The attendant took me to a cart which took me to a "holding area" to await someone to take me through Customs and to get my bags. 

It was chaos.  One has to give a ticket, like a boarding pass, to the ONE person who arranges  your movement from the holding area to the elevator and down through Customs.  Those who have connecting flights are supposed to get priority.  That is the theory anyway, and, as it should be.  There was no one in the holding area who spoke any language other then English.

Two years ago it took about an hour for me to get an attendant to take me through Customs and to get my luggage and get to Super Shuttle.

This year was entirely different and NOT in a good way.  First, there was no wheelchair although I always remind the flight attendant when I board that I have ordered one and will need one.  Somehow it did not happen.  The United person outside the plane had me sit on a box until a wheelchair came for me.  In addition, there was a really elderly man who was from Mexico also waiting for a wheelchair.  When the one for me came, I told them to take the elderly gentleman that I would wait for the next one.

In a few minutes, a wheelchair came.  I thought it was a second one.  No, they had taken the elderly man to the terminal where he was left to stand, taken the wheelchair and come back for me!  It wasn't until they wheeled me to the terminal that I saw what had happened.  The man and I waited there for at least fifteen minutes, standing against the wall, until a cart came to take us to "the holding area". 

The cart driver got there, jumped off the cart and never told the man what he needed to do about the ticket to give to the ONE person in charge.  I helped him. 

In this area there were at least SIXTY people waiting.  It was hard to believe.  Very upset people from many countries with no one to interpret for them.  One daughter was trying to let the ONE person know that they had a connecting flight to catch.  Another very elderly lady sat their weeping.  Nothing seemed to be working.  Wheelchair attendants were non existent.

Stressful and sad does not begin to describe the situation.  After about an hour, a United pilot came up to me as he was walking through (the holding area is a hallway) and asked me what was going on.  I told him.  He was furious and said he was going to call someone.  Halleleuia!

Then more attendants began to arrive.  More then the two or three that would come and take one person and then we would wait for two or three more.

After TWO hours of waiting, someone finally took me down the elevator to go through Customs.  There were Custom officers there but it was very slow............Why, I have no idea. 

It took almost three hours from landing to finally get to the Super Shuttle kiosk.  WOW.

In a humorous note, I had needed to use the restroom throughout this three hours and the minute I got to Super Shuttle and they could handle my luggage for me, I took off for the restroom, on foot, with my cane.  I mean I was moving as fast as I could.  It wasn't until I left the enclosed stall and a man was standing with his back to me using a urinal that I realized that I had entered the men's restroom.  I truly giggled when I got outside.

A few days after the flight, I received a survey form from United asking me if I had had a good flight.  I have been a customer of TransTexas Airways which became Continental which became United all these years.  Indeed, I answered the survey.

I received a "number" to my response.  Then eventually a phone call.  The woman who called gave all kinds of excuses why this had happened and that it never happens.  Well, if it had not happened to me two years in a row, I would have probably believed her.  It was not a cordial conversation.

She said she would do further investigation and get back with me.  I explained to  her that it was not myself that I was upset about but all the other people who DID miss their connecting flights and no one could communicate with them!

I never had another call from the woman.  Instead, she sent an email with a voucher for $150USD for my "trouble".  No way to tell you how incensed I was by this...........I deleted the email and the voucher and at this time, have no intention of flying United ever again.

Imagine what those people who were coming to the USA for the first time must have felt and what they must have thought.............


Sunday, June 24, 2018

It Has Been a Month.........and What a Month!

Last time I wrote a post, I was in Hot Houston.  Now I'm back in San Miguel where the nights are in the 50's and the days in the mid to high 70's.  Aaaaah.

It has been quite a month.  Back in SMA since the first of June, it has been a time of reorganization, reconnection, getting stronger and resting.  In fact, today was the first time that lunch has not been at home.

It has been GREAT to be back home......except for the fifteen stairs that it seems that I traverse at least ten times a least.  But, on the bright side, they certainly are strengthening my legs.
A good thing.

Yesterday I managed to get to the third floor to take a few photographs that I had promised to share of the new Aqua Hotel along with photos of the new road next to the house.

The Aqua Hotel has more then doubled in size since the beginning of the remodel and expansion.

In the past, when there were floods, photos showed the water streaming through the property.  The only change that I can tell they have made is to elevate some of the spaces to an additional story to
help during the rainy season.  I have not been inside the property as yet.  It will be interesting to see it from the inside looking out when completed.  When that will be is not something that I have seen published anywhere.  It appears to me that it probably is at least a couple of months.  (you can click on the photos to enlarge).  Word is that it will be a 5 Star property.

Other exciting news, the dirt path alongside my house with the name Cuahtemoc, is now turning into a cobblestone road with sidewalks on each side.  Those sidewalks lead to the large pavilion which is
the "feature" in the new park on the hill.  It was possible yesterday to photograph Day 3 of the cobblestone work. 

 This is at the intersection of Cuahtemoc and Cuitlahuac.  Note the big sewer hole.  Prior to the cobbled work, two cars have gotten stuck in that hole!  Yup, no signage saying "Peligroso" or anything.
This is VERY labor intensive work.  The top photo shows the man putting another layer of concrete around the stones.  Each and every stone is selected and placed from a huge pile.  They are fitted into sand and dirt, then concreted and then concreted again.  At times there has been one lone man doing this work.  Yesterday there were three!  They still have a long way to go.  First they do one side of rocks, leaving the middle barren.  Then the other side, and finally fill in the middle.  Awesome to watch.
This worker is taking sandy loam, sifting it through screening to get rid of debris and then using it to make concrete!  The blue cylinder above him is full of water for the man who is spreading the concrete in between the cobbles with a plastic bag with a hole, kinda like a pastry bag.

The large platform on the right side is where parents and kids come in the evenings and throughout the day to stand and look at the canyon or, in the case of the other evening, a soccer game happened right there behind those benches.  

From all the excavating and  jack hammering and everything else that has gone on for over a year, it is wonderful to know that this park will be used by the kids and adults of this area.  It will be interesting to see now that they have basically destroyed the cliff side, how they intend to finish it up and landscape it.  No idea when or if that will happen.

Never a dull moment in Mexico..........change seems to be happening all around.  Stay tuned for
more info on other "stuff".

By the way, there was a little snafu in allowing people to comment.  It is fixed.  Also corrected has been the ability to be notified and to monitor comments.  Thanks to each of you for each and every comment.  A few more steps to correct a few more things, but at least now you can comment and I can see those comments..........

It IS good to be back!!!! 

Monday, June 11, 2018

My Symphony

Today I came across this poem by William Henry Channing, a 19th century clergyman.  I have saved it and read it for well over twenty years and thought you might enjoy it as well.

                                                                         'My Symphony'

                   To live content with small means;
                   To seek elegance rather than luxury,
                   and refinement rather then fashion;
                   To be worthy, not respectable;
                   and wealthy, not rich;
                   To study hard, think quietly, talk gently,
                   act frankly;
                   To listen to stars and birds,
                   To babes and sages, with open heart,
                   to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
                   await occasions, hurry never.
                   .....To let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious,
                   grow up through the common.
                   This is to be my symphony.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Two Months in Texas

From pillar to post, I've packed and unpacked six times in the last two months.  Note to self - next time, if there is one,  bring disposable clothing!

Many adventures, visits with friends and family, meeting new babies in the family and catching up with long time friends rank high on the list in my heart.

Here are some of the photos from the last two months...............
                                    Trip to Chappell Hill to enjoy wildflowers and glorious trees.

 A MAJOR highlight was to spend the weekend with my daughter and granddaughters for my birthday in early April.  I could not stop smiling!

My sweet sister-in-law with her newest grandson, Taylor.  Taylor has two precious
brothers, Austin and Grey.  I could never get them all together for a group photo!

Must always include a sunset photo of Houston.  This was taken from the ninth floor of my dear, long time friends' condo on Montrose Blvd. Sheila and Mark now live on the ninth floor because they lost everything in Harvey and had to be rescued.  What a traumatic ordeal to have gone through.  I've heard horrifying details of people's experiences.  Tragic.

  Always there was Abby, enjoying the view from the front windows.  Such a sweet dog.  I think I might be weakening about having another dog!
Many, many good meals out with friends and family.  Houston has over 14,000 restaurants.  I tried to help their economy...........ha.  In the photo above is Ann Criswell, former Food Editor for the Houston Chronicle, my dear friend Martha who I met twenty-five years ago through the Houston Culinary Guild and my dear sister-in-law, Annette.  (I sincerely dislike the term sister-in-law as we are as close as any two sisters).  Is there a better title?

Another "tropical" sunset while visiting friends near Galveston in Omega Bay.  Aaah, I loved mornings on the porch watching the ducks, egrets and herons looking for food as they skimmed the canals.
        Dinner with Amanda and Patrick on the Wharf in Galveston.   Yummy seafood.

Next I moved on to Pearland to stay with a long time friend, Elaine.  Unfortunately I did not take photos of her glorious home or gardens or the times we ate at Auntie Pasto!  To say I was shocked at the growth in Pearland would be a major understatement.  It went from a two lane road thirty years ago, to a city of 140,000 today!  Amazing.  The farm land now houses subdivisions, restaurants, malls and medical facilities along with schools. 

Meeting Arden who is six months old was so special.  She is six months old and always smiling. Here she was eating her lunch.

 Arden's precious brother Alex who climbed into my lap and stole my heart was nearby.  I was so busy enjoying everything that I did not get photos of the whole family together.  My niece and her husband live in Ft. Worth. Hopefully it won't be a long time before I see this precious family again.

Last, but not least, I spent the day Sunday with my grandson, Christopher, and his girlfriend, Kayla. He is Jennifer's son.   What joy!  I'm so lucky to have so much love and happiness in my life.  I NEVER take it for granted.!  Now if I could figure out how to get EVERYONE together in the family for one day, including my son John who is in San Miguel with Matilda and Sebastian, I would be
the happiest woman alive.
Life is good.  This weekend is graduation for Emma and more family and friends.  Home next week on the 31st.  Woo hoo.  Onward.