It’s Coming

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It’s Coming

Yes the clock will go back an hour on the 31st, just in time for Halloween. But that’s not the big one here in Mexico.

Here is a pictorial preview of preparations for Dia de Los Muertos.

November 1st and 2nd are days of remembrance. These are the days when the spirits of the dead return to visit. Altars are created to honor loved ones who have passed. Cemeteries come alive with music and parties.

I snagged these photos of the traditional bread at a bakery.

Here in Aguascalientes the celebrations, including a parade, begin on October 29th. It will be an interesting weekend.

Parque Rudolfo Landeros (CEAR)

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Parque Rudolfo Landeros (CEAR)

I first visited this park almost three years ago. It was a weekend and it was packed. The parking lot was overflowing. Food vendors were busy and bike and golf cart rentals were very popular.

I went back a couple of times before Covid and it was crowded even on a weekday. Field trips from schools were in abundance.

Yesterday it was a very different story. The park was all but deserted. Signs indicating masks were required were prominently displayed. However nobody wore masks, even the staff.

We had picked up breakfast and found a shady spot to eat. Then we began our walk around the park.

This was our first greeter.

And here was our second.

The water levels were surprisingly low, considering that it’s rainy season now. But we did see some ducks and geese enjoying the water.

Very few animals were out but I did capture a shot of this guy.

We even found a train here, although the museum was closed.

And I had to take pics of the trees and the cacti.

Museo Ferrocarrilero

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Museo Ferrocarrilero

The first time I went to this train museum was almost three years ago, before Covid. Situated within a lovely park, there was lots to explore, inside and outside.

This visit was very different. The musical dancing fountains were not dancing nor were they musical. The miniature train was not running through the park. And the large building that housed a sizeable museum filled with displays was being renovated.

We were able to view the inside of one building which previously was a ticket office and waiting area. So I was able to snag a few photos.

Outside we admired the statues.

And of course the train at the entrance.

Then off we went to a cafe for cafe olla and mollettes.

New This Week

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New This Week

I’ve been back for over a month and have spent time reacquainting myself with the city of Aguascalientes and a few friends and neighbors. I’ve also made some new friends but more about that in another blog post. Right now I’m going to focus on three new things I’ve started this week.

I started a course on mindfulness offered by Rice University. I’ve taken two other courses in this area previously and am always open to ideas that will improve my quality of life. I’m taking this course through Coursera, a sight I’ve used before. It offers a variety of courses for free if you don’t want or need that piece of paper.

Guilty. I downloaded a new game onto my tablet. Word Connect. I’m learning new words that I never knew were words. It’s a stimulating game and a welcome addition to the other word games I’ve played in the past. And no, I’m not hooked up to Facebook with it so you won’t find me there.

I found a new place to shop, although it won’t be very often. I prefer to frequent the corner stores in my neighborhood and support the locals. But a new HEB opened up while I was back in the USA and I just had to check it out. And it’s only a 10 minute Uber trip away. Far superior to Walmart or Sam’s Club although a tad smaller than Costco.

A new course, a new game and a new place to shop. That’s my new things so far this week. And it’s only Wednesday!

Museo Regional de Historia de Aguascalientes

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Museo Regional de Historia de Aguascalientes

I first arrived in Aguascalientes in January of 2019, armed with a list of fourteen museums and art galleries I wanted to explore. And I visited them all.

On Friday I decided to return to The Regional History Museum. Hand sanitizer and temperature check and in I went. Admission is 50 pesos ($2.43 US) but seniors with an INAPAM card are admitted at no charge. Being a senior does have its perks.

I wandered from room to room admiring the various displays. I also stopped to read a number of the descriptions. My Spanish has improved and I was able to understand most of it, something I’d been unable to do back in 2019.

As usual, I took way too many photos. I hope you enjoy the selection I’m sharing in this post.

So What?!

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So What?!

Monday, Monday. Facebook down. What’s App not working. Didn’t bother checking Instagram.

It certainly made for a quieter day. No constant pings and dings of notifications on my phone. I actually spent very little time on my phone.

Here in Mexico What’s App is a lifeline to many. I’ve met a lot of people who just put 50 pesos at a time on their phone. They don’t have a phone plan like I do.

For 200 pesos a month, less than $10 US, I have unlimited talking and texting as well as long distance to the USA and Canada. Some data is included ans all social media is also free.

Without a phone plan, What’s App that runs off WiFi is free, so that is a very popular option for those who do not have a plan.

Therefore a lot of people were impacted when everything went down on Monday. Their pesos on their phones would not stretch quite as far.

I find it interesting that phone plans here are so reasonably priced. In the USA a similar plan with AT&T costs me $40. Canada was even more expensive the last time I was there.

While buying cell phones is far more expensive in Mexico, using them is definitely much more affordable here.

Fly With Me

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Fly With Me

The other day I was talking with a friend and somehow the topic of airports came up. We compared experiences and horror stories. He commented that I’d flown in and out of a lot more airports than he had.

Later on I thought some more and decided to list all the airports. So here goes.

I’ll start with Mexico. My favorite airport to fly into is Guadalajara. My favorite airport to fly out of is Puerto Vallarta. My least favorite is Mexico City. Other airports I’ve used include Culiacan, Mazatlan, Cancun, Aguascalientes and Leon. That’s a total of eight.

Next will be Canada. No favorites or least favorites here. Just Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, London, Montreal, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Kelowna. That’s a total of eleven.

The winner is the USA. My new favorite airport is Pangborn in Wenatchee. My least favorite is Houston. The others include Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Ontario, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Tucson, Dallas, San Antonio, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Rochester, Fargo, Grand Forks, Chicago, Buffalo, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Savannah, Charleston, Honolulu, Wendover and Las Vegas. The total is thirty.

Oh, and I can’t forget Havana and Punta Cana. That’s two more.

Grand total is fifty-one. And I haven’t even gone to Europe!

My favorite airline is Alaska. There’s a tie for my least favorite airline between Air Canada and Westjet.

Airports have changed over the years. Many are now like small cities and have multiple terminals and trains connecting them. Dallas-Fort Worth even has its own zip code.

Traveling has definitely become more complicated since 9/11 and is even more so now with the additional challenge of COVID-19. I don’t envy the staff at TSA. And then throw in my knee replacements that always set off the metal detectors and require the body scanners.

Yes, I remember when I actually used to enjoy traveling by air. Not anymore. I now travel by air only because I have to.

This One’s Really Real

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This One’s Really Real

When I’m in Mexico, the movies I watch are all in Spanish. The other day I watched a movie about a plane that crashed into the Hudson River. I also watched another movie where a family survived a tsunami in Thailand. Both of these were based on real life experiences.

On Sunday I was scrolling through the news and an article about an Amtrak derailment caught my eye. The Empire Builder had derailed in Montana. Three deaths and several people injured.

The Empire Builder runs regularly between Chicago and Seattle. It’s how we all commute from Leavenworth to Seattle. I know several people who have taken it out east as well. And it’s also been on my agenda for a trip next summer.

For the above mentioned reasons, this disaster really hits close to home for me. It’s not just a news item about another train derailment. This is the train I see every day when I’m in Leavenworth. And I’ve been on that train.

Eight of the ten cars derailed, with three completely tipped over. There were 141 passengers aboard as well as 16 crew. Only the two locomotives and the first two cars safely switched tracks.

An investigation is underway and Amtrak hopes to resume service in the near future.

Despite this horrific tragedy, I still plan to ride The Empire Builder out east next year.

It Feels Strange

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It Feels Strange

This is the first time in five years I’ve been in Mexico in late September. It feels strange.

Autumn Leaf Festival is happening this weekend in Leavenworth. I’m usually sitting out on the verandah of the Senior Center with friends watching the parade.

Instead, today I went to the park at the end of my street. I worked on some Spanish grammar for a while. I was about to leave when a man approached and asked if I knew the name of the park. And I don’t know the name of the park. It’s just always been the park next to the bull ring or in front of Expoplaza.

Anyways, a long conversation followed, all in Spanish of course. While we talked he kept a watchful eye on his children, ages 9 and 6, who were taking advantage of the playground structures.

He told me they had moved to Aguascalientes from Zacatecas two years ago. Zacatecas had become very dangerous because of cartel activity and was not a good place to live anymore.

He was curious as to why I had come to Aguascalientes. When I told him I was Canadian he admitted he knew next to nothing about Canada and had never even met a Canadian before.

He also told me he had never traveled outside of Mexico and didn’t speak any English at all. But he wants his children to learn English. He wanted to know if I still taught English even though I was retired. I told him Covid had put an end to that for the time being, although I have occasionally taken on private students in the past five years.

After close to an hour of conversation, he left with his kids and I headed for home. I was really pleased that my Spanish skills had improved so much that I didn’t have to ask him to speak slower or repeat himself. Not once did I say “no entiendo. “

I’ve come a long way.

Things To Ponder

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Things To Ponder

The sheep reelected the wolf again in 🇨🇦. The decision in the 🇺🇸 was to keep the land borders closed. Here in 🇲🇽 the entire country has been declared green or yellow on the stoplight.

Please take the time to check out the link. A very moving service was held at Spirit of America in Cashmere, Washington on September 11th. I usually attend in person but this year I was already back in Mexico.

We have been getting these incredible thunder boomers at night. After being up in Washington rampant with wildfires and drought, the rainy season here is most welcome. Iracema and I went out for dinner in the pouring rain. By the time we finished eating, the rain had stopped and off we went for a walk in the park.

Talking to friends in Canada this week, it appears that flights to Mexico are still chaotic. Canceled, rescheduled and extremely expensive. I’m so glad I decided to fly down from the USA. Great connections and reasonable fares. Alaska Airlines is the best!

INM is starting to crack down on people with expired tourist visas. They are checking regularly in bus stations and stories are circulating of people being held in detention and/or deported. Original documentation is required and a photo on a phone is not sufficient.

I have finally taken out my gel pens and started coloring again. Now if only King could fix the glitch with Jelly Queen on Candy Crush Friends…..