I’m now in Culiacan. Gracias ETN for yet another smooth journey across this beautiful country.
I usually head to the USA at the end of April, not the beginning of March. But Covid threw everything out of whack. So the Jacaranda trees aren’t blooming yet.
Aguascalientes is home to me here in Mexico. My third time and it has really grown on me. I was here for the Ferria three years ago and will miss it this year. Covid affected that too. There was no celebration in 2020 or 2021.
I’m having a wonderful visit with my Mexican family. My grandsons have all shot up in height since I was here three months ago and the youngest turns three on Friday. I absolutely adore the curls!
My granddaughter in Kelowna turned four yesterday and we had a video call. She went swimming and then out for sushi. Today she’s having a party with her friends.
I spoke to my son in Winnipeg yesterday and was totally devastated to hear that he tested positive for Covid. He says he feels fine but I’m thousands of miles away, feeling helpless and concerned. A peril of living in different countries than your kids.
And now Russia has invaded the Ukraine. Why can’t we live in peace?
In January of 2019 I was living in San Ciro de Acosta, San Luis Potosi. I knew it was time to leave and my destination was Aguascalientes. When I taught in Guadalajara a few years earlier, my students used to tell me that I absolutely had to check out Aguascalientes.
In one of my Facebook groups, I mentioned that I was on the move again and I was going to Aguascalientes. Someone messaged me that his hometown was Aguascalientes. I asked him if he had any recommendations as to where to stay. I already had a list of museums and art galleries in hand. His reply was “I have a nephew.” He put me in touch with Fernando, who replied “I have a cousin.” And that’s how I wound up living in Las Flores and have Raul as a landlord.
I soon realized that I needed more time in this beautiful city. After my six months in Leavenworth I returned to Aguascalientes (Ags, as I now fondly call it like all the other locals). Raul had my room waiting for me and it felt like I was coming home.
In March of 2020 I was just starting to think of heading back up north when Covid hit. I never did get out of Mexico until September that year. So my six months became eleven.
This is where I brag about Raul. What other landlord offers to move you in with his family if the government was to shut down the hotel due to the pandemic? Or takes you to Immigration five times to obtain an extended stay? Or drives you to the bank or Telcel or to pick up food? Or drives you to the airport at 4 am when you are finally able to get out of the country? When I’m back in the USA I miss his daily reassurances of “Don’t Worry” or “Anything You Want, Anything You Need.”
Then my six months in Washington turned into twelve. When I was finally able to book a flight back to Mexico, I messaged Raul. He assured me my home was waiting for me. I flew into Guadalajara and took a bus to Ags. I had arranged with Raul that he would pick me up at the bus station at around eight that night. Of course I hadn’t taken into account that the police had closed off the highway for some unknown reason so it was more like eleven when we finally arrived in Ags. Nonetheless Raul picked me up and drove me home.
Ags really does feel like home. My neighborhood hadn’t changed much during Covid. My favorite restaurants were still around. The lavenderia was still there. The candy store and the bakeries and all the tiendas were open. The parks were open. The only big casualty was the cinema that had shut down.
The big difference this year is the friendships I’ve made and the people I spend my time with. There used to be a small church right around the corner and I made a couple of close friends there. But when I came back last fall, the church had moved. And yes, it is still within walking distance. But the times conflict with the online services I do. And at this point I need the English rather than the Spanish when it comes to my spiritual life.
Friendships have always been important to me, but even more so now with the lifestyle I lead. Back in my hometown in Canada I still have a handful of close friends I keep in touch with. And in Washington I have close friends. But in Mexico, my gringa and expat friends have always been of a more transient nature.
Until this year. These friends I’ve made here are all much closer in age to me, and that is not my usual norm either except for the years I lived in Mazatlan. We’ve become close in a short period of time and I will miss them all dearly when I head up north next month.
I actually met Sharon just before Covid hit and everything shut down. She is from Portland and lives in Ags with her Mexican partner.
Joanne is from Florida and has been in Ags for about three years with her husband. Their background is missionary work.
Charlotte is from Calgary and lives with her Mexican partner in Puerto Vallarta. However they spent several months here in Ags while he was undergoing chemo treatments.
I met Carole last month. She is from Toronto and is testing the waters here in Ags. This is her first winter in Mexico.
Joanne has a car and loves to drive so we all have done a lot of exploring and we’ve seen areas in and around Ags that we otherwise would never have known even existed. And of course we all enjoy discovering new restaurants and trying new Mexican cuisine.
Adios mis queridas amigas. Espero que nos vemos pronto. Ya las extrano!
Spring has arrived in Aguascalientes. Temperatures are back up in the low 80s. The rain has been replaced by warm sunshine. Different flowers and trees are blossoming. And it feels strange to leave here at this time of year. I usually leave in April. But Covid threw all that out of whack so I came to Mexico earlier this year and have to leave earlier. Friends in Washington tell me they still have snow, so I’m not too anxious to head up there anytime soon.
So what am I doing this last week in Aguascalientes? Definitely spending time with friends. That’s the part I hate about leaving. All the goodbyes. But there is always next winter to look forward to. Las Flores has become home and I’ve told Raul I want my room on Begonias back again.
Yesterday I took one last walk to Las Americas. I picked up a few things at Farmicia Guadalajara and at one of my favorite bakeries, La Flor. As I made my way home down the familiar side streets, I realized just how much I love this neighborhood.
And then last night I walked around Expoplaza. I will miss the people, the music, the bars and restaurants, the street stands………there’s nothing like this up north. There was even a concert going on, complete with fireworks.
I will do my usual Sunday internet church this morning with Sage Hills in Wenatchee. This afternoon I’m meeting a friend in the Jardin de San Marcos. I will miss this park. Not only is it a beautiful park, but there’s always a lot of different things going on such as zumba and salsa in addition to all the vendors displaying their wares in stands or on the sidewalk.
I also plan on taking last walks along Carranza, Nieto and in Centro. And of course I will spend time in the park near my house. I will stroll through the tianguis on Las Laureles one last time. I will also visit my favorite restaurants for one last gordita, enchilada, chaskas, burger, jamaica, horchata and Negro Modelo. Will also find some churros.
I will need some clean clothes when I start traveling. So I will say goodbye to Fatima at the lavenderia, who always does a fabulous job with my clothes. Near the lavenderia is Paulina, my hair stylist, so that will be another goodbye.
PACKING! You think by now I’d be used to it with all the traveling I do. It’s always a hassle. It doesn’t matter how organized I try to be.
And somewhere I need to find time for writing and Duolingo.
It’s the last week and it’s going to be a busy one.
The difference between Chuck Barris and The Gong Show vs. Justin Trudeau and The Gong Show is that the American one was entertaining. The Canadian version is disgusting.
To all my friends in Canada who complained bitterly about Trump and wondered how I could possibly want to live in the USA………Trudeau is a million times worse! He is destroying the country completely, carrying on the path of destruction his father began back in the sixties.
I try not to write about politics when I travel. When I’m in a foreign country, I’m a guest and have no right to criticize or complain. But I’m a Canadian citizen. And right now Canada is not a country I am proud to call home. Actually, this winter when I’ve met new people here in Mexico, I’ve stopped saying I’m Canadian. I’m given a lot more respect if I say I’m from Leavenworth and people assume I’m American. It used to be the other way around.
That’s my vent for today. But I want to leave you with something more positive.
Look what I found the other day right here in Aguascalientes. Is this a sign as to where I’m going once I cross the border? For those of you who don’t know, Seahawks are Seattle’s football team in the NFL.
On the other hand, up in Canada, Manitoba just announced the loosening of Covid restrictions. My hometown is in that province and my son lives there. But it’s still a waiting game. Things appear to change daily.
I’ve done more writing in the last couple of weeks than in the entire last year. I’ve actually set aside the WIP I was working on and have shifted way back to something I started writing way back in the 70s. My characters are absolute screaming their stories to me and I’ve had to put alarms in my phone to remind me when it’s time to meet friends or even eat. Breakfast can be anytime between 5 am and 1 pm. Often the first cup of coffee is at around 3 am. And I love every minute of this chaos!
I’ve just about met my goal for Spanish this winter. Just a handful of irregular verbs left to conjugate in the simple past and perfect tenses. And my notebook will be complete. I’ve been doing more texting in Spanish and I’m even dreaming in Spanish.
Just checked the Winnipeg Free Press online. Once again they’ve quoted me. This time it’s about the effect Covid has had on my life. My claim to fame has been seeking asylum in two foreign countries during a pandemic. I guess you could say Covid has impacted my life somewhat.
I was having lunch with Joanne and Carole one day. We were brainstorming about what to do that afternoon.
Joanne enjoys driving and we all enjoy exploring. We decided to venture out of the city and head north to the pueblo of Pabellon de Arteaga.
We had expected a small town. We were pleasantly surprised at how big and quaint it was. The main street through town was crowded with a variety of shops and businesses. There was even more than one Oxxo!
We all preferred the quaint old church compared with the big modern one.
Joanne and Carole opted to stay in the car while I wandered through the plaza across from the church. I snapped these two photos.
No idea what the second one is supposed to be other than it was kind of dilapidated. At one time a miniature train ran through there but the track was broken now.
When I come back next winter I plan on spending a few days walking the streets in Pabellon.
Yesterday morning I bundled up in leggings,a turtleneck and a fur-lined quilted vest. The occasion? Headed to the airport for a flight back to Washington? Or Canada? Nope. Just a one block walk to the lavenderia. It was a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Mexico—-the country of sunshine and heat. Not yesterday. We’ve actually been going through quite the cold spell. We even had pouring rain the other day. And last night’s overnight low hovered in the low 30s.
I’ve been drinking way too much coffee and cocoa to keep warm while I’m writing. Caffeine overload. I do switch to herbal tea at night though. And hot oatmeal in the morning has become the norm.
I’ve stopped asking Alexa for the daily forecast. Cold, cold and more cold. Can’t wait to get up to Culiacan in a couple of weeks to warm up.
I came across this quote the other day and it intrigued me.
Keeping busy is a wonderful defence mechanism for avoiding the things that really need your attention and avoiding feeling the things you really need to feel.
Everyone is curious as to when exactly I am leaving Mexico this year. I don’t know the answer to that at the moment. I haven’t even decided how I’m going to get to where I’m going. But I think I need to figure out where I’m going first.
Maybe I need to ponder that quote a little more and take a few things off my calendar this week. Is it really time to start thinking about where I’ll be about a month from now?
0ne of my writing friends challenged me to write a post about unusual things that have happened in my life throughout the years since I left Winnipeg. Interestingly enough, some of these do involve travel back to Winnipeg. This is a real challenge as I’m only supposed to choose one thing per year. Here goes!
2010. As if moving to Culiacan wasn’t unusual in itself, I’d have to say that the trip on El Chepe in the Copper Canyon stands out. I headed for the bus station in Culiacan and looked up at the departures on the board. A bus to Mazatlan in a half hour, a bus to Los Mochis in twenty minutes. Hmmmm. Los Mochis. Sure. Why not? When I got there I was in a taxi where by some miracle the driver spoke English. I asked him what there was to do in the area. He told me about the train. He took me to a hotel that had a travel agent. She arranged a package for me and the next morning I was on the train. And I really must add that it was on this trip that I met Angie and her family. We are still great friends and I spent this past New Years holiday with them all in Tlalnepantla, Jilotzingo and Pachuca.
2011. Definitely my escape from Irapuato to Tlaquepaque. A school had flown me down to Mexico from Canada but never lived up to their end of the bargain. I wasn’t interested in working more hours for less money. They never came through with renewing my work visa or providing a health plan. I received a phone call on a Saturday night from a school in Tlaquepaque with a job offer. I packed up my suitcase and Sunday morning I was on a bus headed for Guadalajara. I started at the new school Monday morning.
2012. Knee surgery number one. Terrified. My mother had died having knee replacement surgery. I returned to Winnipeg and rented a room in the lower level of a duplex. Of course there were steps to get into the house which meant walker to cane and back to walker for the first little while. And my walker didn’t fit through the bathroom door. And the laundry room was in the basement. Not conducive to recovering from knee surgery. But I did it and headed back to Guadalajara in the fall.
2013. Back to Winnipeg for knee surgery number two. This time I lucked out and was able to rent a house that had been completely renovated for a handicapped individual. Wheelchair ramp at the front door, walk in shower with a bench, lots of room to maneuver a walker…. I was in heaven! And recovery time was much faster. Soon I was on my way back to Mexico.
2014. I discovered that teaching Business English was a lot more lucrative than teaching ESL. I ventured into areas of Guadalajara that were new to me as I taught on site. I taught in high security buildings for private companies and government offices, as well as in places such as Fedex.
2015. I had just moved to Mazatlan when I found myself on a plane to Toronto to meet up with a group en route to Punta Cana for my daughter’s wedding. Kimmy wanted a destination wedding and chose the Dominican. It was quite the trek for me but as all moms know, you do anything for your kids. It was a beautiful wedding and I have wonderful memories, but in all honesty I was very happy to return home to Mexico.
2016. I had a leading role in a murder mystery dinner theater and was winding down my teaching career with a handful of private students when a friend I’d met in Mazatlan invited me to come to Leavenworth, Washington for a visit. I thought it was the prison place until I realized Kansas was home to that one. So off I went for two weeks, only I wound up staying for four months. One morning I got up and there was this white stuff on the ground. I hightailed it back to Mazatlan.
2017. I had this really strong gut feeling that I wanted to be with my son on Mother’s Day. I’m glad I did. That’s the last time I was in Winnipeg and I haven’t seen Kyle since. I certainly hope Canada can get it’s act together so that I can go to Winnipeg this summer.
2018. My granddaughter Madeline was born. On my way back to Leavenworth I flew up to Canada first to see her. My daughter now has a daughter of her own. I remember holding Madeline for the first time. Exciting and emotional. It was really hard to leave and I cried all the way from Belleville to Toronto on the train.
2019. This was the year I discovered Aguascalientes. I arrived in January after spending three months in San Ciro de Acosta. I had a list of museums and art galleries and visited them all. But there was still more to explore and I came back in October to spend the winter. Besides, Las Flores was beginning to feel like home. I am very comfortable in my room on Begonias and Raul is the most amazing landlord ever.
2020. March already? I was anxious to go to Winnipeg to see Kyle. Oh oh. Covid arrived. My six months in Aguascalientes turned into eleven when I sought asylum and was given an extra six months as I chose to stay in Mexico to ride out the pandemic. What I never told my kids was that when Covid first hit and people were panicking and packing airports and dealing with canceled flights, I’d been in bed with the flu for a few days. Who knows? It may have even been Covid. There was no testing being done back then. I finally made it to Leavenworth in September when I was able to secure health coverage that included Covid.
2021. My 180 days in the USA are almost up and the CDC issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel To Canada advisory. I retained an attorney and once again sought asylum. It was granted and I remained in Washington for twelve months instead of the usual six.
2022. It’s early yet. I’ll have to wait and see what unusual thing wins this year, not that there haven’t been a few that are definitely in the running already.
And now for the far from usual but the one thing that spans the more than decade since I left Winnipeg. That first year in Mexico when I worked at Senda, Juan and I taught together and became good friends. He wanted to improve his English and I desperately needed to learn Spanish. Juan’s wife Lucila used to pick us up from school and drive me home. At the time their son Juan Carlos was a year old. To make a long story short, they adopted me. This was huge to me. Coming to a foreign country solo, my own kids back in Canada, I now had family again. Juan and Lucila now have four sons and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons. Can’t wait to hug them all later this month when I go to Culiacan.
I have hundreds of readers and followers all over the world. Obviously most of you I have never met in person. I’m gratified that you enjoy my posts, and I often read blogs from people I’ve never met either.
I seldom post photos of myself. I also usually take terrible selfies, but I thought I’d share this one that I took just the other day. It’s tolerable. This is me.
Like many of you, I love coffee. Actually I more than love it. It’s mandatory if I’m ever to reach a state of consciousness in the morning. It goes without saying that it must be high octane. Decaf just doesn’t quite do it for me.
Another day, another natural disaster. This time it was an earthquake in Oklahoma. Centered around Medford and registered as a 4.5, tremors were felt in several other states as well. This is starting off to be quite a year for weather.
Today is Groundhog Day up north. Wonder if the little guy will see his shadow. Will there be another six weeks of winter? I hope not. I’m headed up north next month.
Here in Mexico today is tamale day. Whoever found the baby in the rosca on Kings Day provides the tamales. I was in Pachuca for that one. Thank goodness I didn’t find the baby or I would be headed back there and it’s a long commute.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that has also been added to my list of mantras.