Monthly Archives: December 2019

Adiós 2019 Bienvenida 2020

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Adiós 2019 Bienvenida 2020

I was in San Ciro de Acosta, San Luis Potosí when this year began. About two weeks later I traveled to Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes.

A frenzy of visiting fourteen museums, countless churches and beautiful parks followed. I also went leather shopping in León, Guanajuato and visited the pueblo mágico of Calvillo.

Three months flew by and I found myself on a flight to Seattle from Puerto Vallarta. And shortly after I arrived in Leavenworth.

The months I spend in Washington state are filled with activity. I volunteer at church, teach fitness classes, belong to a book club, play bridge and am active at the senior center. But of most importance are the friendships I’ve made over the years and the time I spend with these special people.

This past summer I also took a side trip to Kelowna to see my granddaughter. Madeline was just a few weeks old the last time I saw her and at 17 months she was now an active toddler.

Other highlights of my time in Washington included Vacation Bible School at Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene, as well as attending the 9/11 service at Spirit of America in Cashmere.

All too soon fall arrived and I boarded a flight to Guadalajara. A short bus ride followed and I was back in Aguascalientes City.

I’m staying in the Las Flores area again. Last winter I found a church close by and it felt like returning home this winter. I truly am blessed to have a church family here in Mexico as well as in Leavenworth.

This winter has been very different. I am not running around playing tourist. I’m taking time for ME instead. I do have friends here and I am teaching English a few hours a week. But I find time to color and to go for long walks. I am really focusing on my Spanish language skills. Because I live in a very Mexican neighborhood where virtually no-one else speaks English, I am totally immersed both in the culture and in the Spanish language. I also watch movies in Spanish with no English subtitles.

Other than one trip to Culiacán, I haven’t traveled much this winter. However I do have some travel ideas for 2020.

I spent Christmas with friends and will be attending an event at my church on New Year’s Eve.

This is my last post for 2019. At this time I’d like to thank all my readers for taking the time to follow my blog posts. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2020. May it be another fabulous year for everyone!

Farewell To Another Decade

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Farewell To Another Decade

It’s pouring rain here in Aguascalientes and unseasonably low temperatures have graced us. It’s a good day to sip herbal tea and to watch movies. And to write a blog post.

New Year’s Eve 2009 was when I rang in the second decade of the millenium. At the time I was with friends from church and living in Winnipeg.

In 2010 I was on a tour up in the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. I rang in the new year in El Fuerte with friends. We had dinner at the hotel where Zorro was filmed. Zorro himself appeared at our table just before the fireworks began at midnight.

I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with numerous friends from all over the world every year since then. I’ve been in Culiacán, Guadalajara, México City, Mazatlan and San Ciro. This year I will be in Aguascalientes to welcome the year 2020.

The past decade has been one of the most exciting times in my life. “Growth” has been the key word in describing my experience. I embarked in a new career in a foreign country. I learned a new language and assimilated into a different culture. I’ve celebrated holidays with new friends from all over the world.

I’ve lived in and explored amazing areas in Mexico that I’d never even heard of before. I went on an amazing train trip in the Copper Canyon, I climbed pyramids in central Mexico and I walked barefoot in the sand on numerous beaches along the Pacific coast. I’ve visited several magic towns and have enjoyed the local cuisine in most places, menudo aside.

Mexicans marvel at the fact that I am a single female and travel solo at my age, especially when I settle down for a while in a new place. I thrive on exploring new places and meeting new people. I have friends of all ages and backgrounds. I have a family in Culiacán who have adopted me and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons.

And just when I thought that Mexico was absolutely “it”, I discovered Leavenworth. This quaint Bavarian village has captured my heart. I’ve made good friends and we’ve shared some great adventures together.

All of these experiences have contributed to my growth. At this point in time I am really living life to the fullest.

Farewell to the second decade of this millennium. Welcome to the third decade. Can’t wait to find out what comes next!!!!

Sentimentality

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Sentimentality

As I sit here with a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie on in the background, my thoughts wander back to a conversation I had with my friend Florence when I was in Leavenworth this summer. Maybe it’s a combination of the holidays and the family Christmas in the Hallmark movie. But sentimentality is on my mind.

Florence was about to move out of her home in Leavenworth, a home she had lived in for 35 years. She lamented the fact that her children wanted nothing although she had offered them so many things that she and her husband could not take with them to their new home in Wenatchee. I could so identify with that. My experience was similar when my marriage ended. It’s obvious that the next generation is not in the least interested in the treasures we have accumulated. That sense of sentimentality is definitely missing.

I remarked about how in my past I had been extremely sentimental and how I no longer have those feelings about “things.” While I do have fond memories of my china and silver, I also have no need to host formal dinners anymore. The Moorcroft and other antiques belong to another life that ended when my marriage ended. In actuality, the hardest items to part with were the handmade birthday and Valentine’s cards my children had lovingly given me over the years.

But I do recall many a time when I used my mother’s or my grandmother’s china. I recall polishing the silver tea service my aunt and uncle had given us for a wedding gift. And so much more.

Florence and I agreed that our children will never know these feelings. And we wonder if someday our children may regret that they didn’t keep some of these things…..

How Do You Do It? Part 2

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How Do You Do It? Part 2

In Part 1 I focused on my first eight years here in Mexico.

When I returned from Leavenworth last fall, I had some health issues to deal with and found myself in Guadalajara for a couple of weeks. Next I went back to Mazatlan for a weekend. I then spent a week in Culiacán with my family.

Now fully retired, there was no school or private students to tie me down. I wanted to explore areas in Mexico where I’d never been before. I wanted to live in a Mexican area far removed from all the expats and snowbirds that had been my experience in Mazatlan for three years.

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I noticed some posts in one of the groups I belong to with photos of an area in San Luis Potosí. I messaged Bonnie for more information and we chatted back and forth. Bonnie is from Texas but moved to San Ciro de Acosta when she married a Mexican a couple of years ago. Her mother was around my age and had just moved down there as well. Days later I found myself on a bus headed for San Luis Potosí.

Bonnie and her husband met me in Rio Verde and drove me to San Ciro. They then took me around the town and helped me find somewhere to live.

My plan was to stay for three weeks or so. But I wound up staying for two months. Bonnie, her mother Connie and I all became good friends. We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s together.

It was hard to leave but there were other areas in Mexico to be explored. So I once again turned to the Facebook groups to decide where to go next, making specific inquiries about Aguascalientes City.

I received a text on Messenger one day from someone asking how I liked his hometown. I didn’t recognize his name until I looked back on a two year old thread when I’d been living in Mazatlan and had been looking for an opthalmologist. I replied and told him I hadn’t realized he was from San Ciro. His response was that he was from Aguascalientes and he thought I had already arrived there. I told him I was still in San Ciro but would welcome any information he had to share about Aguascalientes, especially pertaining as to a good area to stay. He put me in touch with his nephew Fernando.

Fernando has a cousin Raul on his mother’s side of the family. Raul has hotels in Aguascalientes. I now had somewhere to stay so off I went.

I had done my research and thought that one month would be sufficient for the museums and churches I wanted to visit. Nope. It turns out three months wasn’t enough and I returned to Aguascalientes at the end of October.

Of course by now I have put down a few roots and made some friends. I also found a church close by. Aguascalientes is my home base this winter until I return to Leavenworth in April.

I hope these posts have given some insight as to how I am able to do what I do. I’d like to add that I’m a single female in my late 60s. It’s a myth that you have to be young to do what I do. I never had the opportunity to do this when I was younger, so what better time than NOW?

How Do You Do It? Part 2

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How Do You Do It? Part 2

In Part 1 I focused on my first eight years here in Mexico.

When I returned from Leavenworth last fall, I had some health issues to deal with and found myself in Guadalajara for a couple of weeks. Next I went back to Mazatlan for a weekend. I then spent a week in Culiacán with my family.

Now fully retired, there was no school or private students to tie me down. I wanted to explore areas in Mexico where I’d never been before. I wanted to live in a Mexican area far removed from all the expats and snowbirds that had been my experience in Mazatlan for three years.

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I noticed some posts in one of the groups I belong to with photos of an area in San Luis Potosí. I messaged Bonnie for more information and we chatted back and forth. Bonnie is from Texas but moved to San Ciro de Acosta when she married a Mexican a couple of years ago. Her mother was around my age and had just moved down there as well. Days later I found myself on a bus headed for San Luis Potosí.

Bonnie and her husband met me in Rio Verde and drove me to San Ciro. They then took me around the town and helped me find somewhere to live.

My plan was to stay for three weeks or so. But I wound up staying for two months. Bonnie, her mother Connie and I all became good friends. We spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s together.

It was hard to leave but there were other areas in Mexico to be explored. So I once again turned to the Facebook groups to decide where to go next, making specific inquiries about Aguascalientes City.

I received a text on Messenger one day from someone asking how I liked his hometown. I didn’t recognize his name until I looked back on a two year old thread when I’d been living in Mazatlan and had been looking for an opthalmologist. I replied and told him I hadn’t realized he was from San Ciro. His response was that he was from Aguascalientes and he thought I had already arrived there. I told him I was still in San Ciro but would welcome any information he had to share about Aguascalientes, especially pertaining as to a good area to stay. He put me in touch with his nephew Fernando.

Fernando has a cousin Raul on his mother’s side of the family. Raul has hotels in Aguascalientes. I now had somewhere to stay so off I went.

I had done my research and thought that one month would be sufficient for the museums and churches I wanted to visit. Nope. It turns out three months wasn’t enough and I returned to Aguascalientes at the end of October.

Of course by now I have put down a few roots and made some friends. I also found a church close by. Aguascalientes is my home base this winter until I return to Leavenworth in April.

I hope these posts have given some insight as to how I am able to do what I do. I’d like to add that I’m a single female in my late 60s. It’s a myth that you have to be young to do what I do. I never had the opportunity to do this when I was younger, so what better time than NOW?

How Do You Do It? Part 1

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How Do You Do It? Part 1

I am in my tenth year here in Mexico. No two years have beared much resemblance to each other. I’ve lived in different cities and different homes with different people. I’ve worked in different schools and taught different subjects.

My friends up north are always asking me how I do this. How do you decide where to go? How do you find somewhere to live? How do you find teaching jobs? They also ask a myriad of other questions but I’ll focus on these three in these posts.

It was a Tuesday evening when my phone rang in Winnipeg. The caller was the director of English at a private school in Mexico. He wanted to know if I was available to teach in Mexico. The start date was the following Monday.

By some miracle and with the help of good friends, my apartment was packed up and the contents moved to a storage unit. My son made the travel arrangements for me. And less than a week later I found myself in Culiacán. The school arranged my accommodation.

Dave’s ESL Cafe was a popular website at that time for teachers and employers alike. I had posted a resume there and that was how the school in Culiacán had found me.

The school year ended and I found myself back in Winnipeg. I had totally forgotten about the resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe. Until my phone rang and it was a director of English at a private school in Irapuato. I thanked him for calling and explained that teaching in Mexico had been a one year plan. He offered to pay my flight down there. I accepted.

I wasn’t impressed with Irapuato or the school. The actual job in no way resembled the job description that had been outlined in the original contract. I decided that I would tough it out until Christmas.

I was out for coffee with my supervisor on October 1st when my phone rang. The caller was not in my contacts so I disregarded it and turned the ringer off. When I got home a few hours later I saw that the same number had called me four more times. I thought that maybe someone was urgently tried to call the person who previously had my number. And I called the number back to let them know they had a wrong number.

To my surprise the voice that answered asked, “Karen, is that you?” Going through an ugly divorce at the time, I was immediately suspicious. However the caller identified himself as the owner of a school in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. He had seen my resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe ( once again I had neglected to remove it) and offered me a job. It was around five in the afternoon on a Saturday. He needed me in Guadalajara Monday morning.

The next few hours were hectic as I hurriedly packed up my belongings. The following morning I was on a bus headed for Guadalajara. Once again the school arranged my accommodation.

I also found myself teaching business English that year. A friend from Norway needed a substitute while she went home for a visit. Her boss was impressed with me and offered me a job. So that winter I taught for him as well as at the other school.

Shortly before I headed back to Winnipeg for knee surgery the following spring, I was in a bar where I met a man who owned another school in Tlaquepaque. I accepted his job offer when I returned to Mexico after my surgery. He also managed properties and found me accommodation.

But I only taught there a couple of months. Parents were using his school as cheap babysitting for their kids, and it was far too frustrating trying to teach kids who hadn’t the slightest interest in learning English. But I did continue to stay in the accommodation he had offered me when I taught at his school.

Meanwhile, another friend had taught at yet another school but left to teach English on-line. The owner of the school called me with a job offer and I accepted.

I then received a call from the man whom I’d taught business English for, so once again I found myself with two jobs.

In the spring I was visiting with my family in Culiacán before going back to Winnipeg for a vacation. I got a call from the owner of a school in Mazatlan. Apparently we had a mutual friend on Facebook who told her I was an English teacher.

After my Winnipeg visit I found myself in Mazatlan where once again the school had found me accommodation. I only taught there a few months. I had met the owner of another school at Starbucks one day and had accepted his job offer. I also moved in with another friend at that time.

Unfortunately that school folded. And I decided that I was going to semi-retire and teach private students only. I also moved again and was delighted to find private students right in my condominium complex.

My last year in Mazatlan I completely retired. I moved again. Once you’re in a place long enough, you meet people and it’s quite easy to find affordable accommodation.

That’s all for this post. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll talk about life in San Luis Potosí and Aguascalientes.

Anoche en Centro

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Anoche en Centro

When I left for Culiacán last weekend, they had just begun decorating for Christmas in Centro. I decided to take a walk down there last night to check it out.

This is my 10th Christmas season in Mexico. I have celebrated this holiday in Culiacán, Mazatlán, Guadalajara, Tototlán and San Ciro de Acosta. Each has a unique feel to it, including different traditions.

Here in Aguascalientes, every evening for the past month there have been prayer groups in the streets. The Virgin of Guadalupe is sacred to Catholics. There will be a parade on December 12th. The last time I experienced this was in Tlaquepaque a few years ago.

By the San Marcos Church, I stopped to admire the tree and the nativity scene.

As I approached the plaza, I was amazed at the crowds of people that filled the streets. The vendors were out in full force and the restaurants were packed.

A skating rink had been set up and was quite a popular attraction. It was obvious that most people had never been on skates before. They lined the outside of the rink and clung to the walls and each other for support.

In another area in the square there was some entertainment going on involving acrobats and music.

I ventured into the government building to admire the tree.

And I fell in love with this cute little guy.

The streets were brightly lit and the camera on my phone really didn’t do justice to their splendor.

On my way home I strolled through the San Marcos Park. I sat for a while and watched the salsa dancers. And it goes without saying that people watching in the park is fascinating.

As I continued my walk home I found other brightly lit trees.

There is definitely a festive air here in Aguascalientes.