Author Archives: iamkaren23

About iamkaren23

I am a Canadian writer currently living in Leavenworth, Washington. I published When Glad Becomes Sad in 2009. My second book, Alive Again, was published in March of 2015. Both are self-help books. I am currently working on a third book, this time a work of fiction.

Museo Ferrocarrilero

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Museo Ferrocarrilero

It was a somewhat cool and cloudy day when I took an Uber out to Plaza de las Tres Centurias to explore a train museum. I’d never been to a train museum before that had focused on railroad travel and the history behind it in Mexico, and this museum did not disappoint. What surprises me is the number of locals I’ve talked to who have never come to this museum before. Then again many have not gone to some of the other museums in this city either.

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This is a train museum. However one of the highlights has absolutely nothing to do with trains. The fuentes danzarinas (dancing fountains) was a delightful display of water combined with music. It is presented hourly throughout the day and lasts about 15 minutes. I actually watched it twice!

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The museum itself features displays in separate buildings. Admission is a mere 5 pesos and is free to seniors with an Inapam card. Each building had interesting displays, vintage items and photographs.

Outside there are a number of brightly painted railway cars along the tracks. There is even a miniature train that features a ride around the park area.

There is also a garden area with a few statues of railroad pioneers.

There is also a small ice cream shop as well as a quaint cafe featuring a variety of coffees and snacks.

I highly recommend a visit to this unique museum in Aguascalientes.

Shopping??????

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Shopping??????

Aguascalientes is an exciting city with a treasure of museums, churches and parks to explore. I had originally intended to stay for one month. I am now into my second month and still have a list of places I want to go and things I want to do. Last Thursday I decided to check out the Altaria Mall instead of my usual exploring. A 20 minute Uber ride and I felt like I was in an entirely different world.

I’m staying in Las Flores which is a typical Mexican neighborhood. The Altaria Mall is like any American mall and has many of the chain stores such as Bershka, Pull and Bear, Radio Shack, Starbucks and more. One of the flagship stores is Sears, so I now feel like I am in Mexico as Sears has all but vanished in the USA and Canada. The other main department store is Liverpool.

As I strolled through the mall, I was amused to see that Liverpool was selling Krispy Kreme donuts. I selected a Boston Cream but was disappointed and realized how much I missed Tim Horton’s in Canada. 

I walked by ComicX and I recalled fond memories of the one in Mazatlan where I often went with friends. I couldn’t help but snap photos of these lovable characters.

Hours later I found myself back in an Uber headed for home. Along the way we passed a tienguis close to where I was staying. I traded my sandals for track shoes and headed back out.

This tienguis was primarily fruits and vegetables with only a smattering of other items. It was much smaller than the one I used to frequent in Tlaquepaque. I was enchanted by the birds in cages and of course enjoyed the people-watching.

That was my shopping day…….from one extreme to another.

Diana’s Story

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Diana’s Story

I first met Diana in Aquismon on Thanksgiving Day in November. Six years old with a bright smile, she charmed all of us. A few days later, she moved to San Ciro de Acosta and my friend Bonnie became her new mother. Diana’s mother had abandoned her shortly after she gave birth and Diana had been living with her grandmother.

I first met Bonnie in a Facebook group back in November. I was looking for a small non-expat town where I could focus both on my writing and on my Spanish. Bonnie is from Texas and had married a Mexican and moved to San Ciro. Her mother Connie had moved to San Ciro a couple of months before I arrived.

I was curious as to why Bonnie and Ricky were so eager to adopt a child. Both have children and grandchildren from previous marriages. While Ricky’s family are here in Mexico, Bonnie had left all of her family behind in Texas. In addition, Bonnie’s daughter had died at the young age of 28 only 3 years before. To quote Bonnie, “I was left with an empty feeling. I was very lonely and I’ve always loved kids. When I saw how many kids really needed homes, I really became interested in adopting.”

They spoke with staff at DIF and learned that adoption is a difficult and long process here in Mexico. Ricky thought that maybe someone might give them their baby if they could not afford to feed and clothe another child. Months went by and they had resigned themselves to the fact that if it was God’s will an opportunity might arise.

And an opportunity did arise unexpectedly when they hired a boat guide one day. They had taken one of the neighbor’s children on their excursion that day. Mr. Martinez saw how they interacted and asked if Luis was their only child, Bonnie jokingly told him that Luis wasn’t their child, but that they were looking to adopt. He told them that his sister was raising her granddaughter and was looking for a home for her. Phone numbers were exchanged. Mr. Martinez invited them over for dinner. A friendship developed and the families began to see each other regularly. However no word was ever spoken about the child.

We were eating dinner on Thanksgiving Day when Bonnie and Ricky were asked if they’d like to meet Diana. After dinner, Bonnie and Ricky went to Mr. Martinez’s sister’s home and a couple of hours later they returned with Diana and her grandmother. Apparently Diana had already told her teacher that she was moving far away.

Bonnie and Ricky wanted to make sure that everything was done legally. Four days later they returned to Aquismon to pick up Diana. They consulted with a lawyer in Aquismon who drew up documents granting them full custody and guardianship. These papers were signed by Bonnie, Ricky, the grandmother and Mr. Martinez.

Adoption is complicated here. Had they gone that route, the process would have taken two years or more and Diana would be placed in an orphanage for that time period. As it stands, they are not allowed to take Diana out of the country. They also opted not to change her name as that would have added an additional 50,000 pesos to the legal fees already incurred.

The next step was to enrol Diana in a public school. Registration was 480 pesos and fees for the uniforms were another 2000 pesos. They also had to pay 80 pesos for breakfast fees although the school has yet to provide any food in this program. Students are expected to be immaculately groomed and in full uniform. Points are deducted from their grades if they are not.

The school itself has no heat or air conditioning. Parents must purchase all supplies, including toilet paper. Parents take turns cleaning the classrooms. They are also responsible for setting out cones to control traffic before and after school.

Parents are also expected to bring lunch to the children each day. Bonnie hands Diana her lunch through the bars as parents are not allowed on the campus. There are no chairs or tables and the children eat their lunch standing up outside in the courtyard.

Diana is adjusting remarkably well to her new life. She is learning to play and be a child instead of working in the sugar cane fields after school. She has made friends and eagerly shares her new toys and dolls with them. She has been introduced to swimming and indoor plumbing. Her diet now includes a variety of healthy foods in addition to the rice and beans she was accustomed to.

Most importantly, Diana is basking in the glow of all the love that Bonnie and Ricky have to offer. And I feel blessed that I have been a part of their lives and have shared in this amazing experience.

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This Week in AGS

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This Week in AGS

It’s been a busy week. I haven’t had much time for blogging. I’ve been visiting museums and admiring churches. Of course there was an unexpected side trip to Walmart………… 

On Saturday I went to the Plaza Tecnologia in search of a new battery for my phone. Oh oh! I couldn’t find one. A building filled with booths and no-one had the one I needed.

On Sunday I was delighted to find a Christian church right around the corner from where I’m staying. A handful of the congregants also spoke English although the service was in Spanish. My Spanish is really getting a workout this winter.

On Monday my destination was Walmart. I was on a mission to buy a new phone. And I did. And I am still playing with it and trying to adapt to all the new features. It’s only been two years since I bought my last phone. Quite amazing how there have been so many changes.

On Tuesday I dropped my laundry off at the lavenderia and discovered a lovely cafe close to where I’m staying. I then went to Centro to explore the Casa de la Cultura. I must admit that the art there was not really to my liking, but it was definitely different.

On Wednesday I decided it was time for a road trip. I headed to Leon, Guadajuato. I had been there briefly eight years ago en route to Irapuato. Leon was the closest airport. I spent part of the day in the historic Centro area visiting the Cathedral and other churches. I then browsed through the Zona de Piel. Leon is known for its leather and I was happy to find a new fanny pack as my old one was disintegrating.

On Thursday I was back to visiting museums and churches. The museum was dedicated to a famous artist here in Mexico, Jose Guadalupe Posada. The museum is located adjacent to the Templo del Encino, a beautiful church.

Today I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Loncheria Fer, owned by my friend Fernando. It was leisurely and three hours passed by quickly. Fernando has been a wealth of information about Aguascalientes and his cousin Raul manages the hotel where I’m staying.

Throw in phone calls to my family and friends in Canada and the USA, sorting through photos and learning to use my new phone, the days have flown. I’ve also had some interesting conversations with locals at the park and other places. I’m quite surprised at how many have been to Canada and even knew where Winnipeg is.

I’m staying in tonight and resting up for tomorrow. The planned agenda is two museums and a church. That will put me at the halfway mark for visiting museums in this city.

Museos Museos Museos

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Museos Museos Museos

I can’t help it. I’m a museum addict. At least I have become one since living in Mexico. Guadalajara is still in the lead although Aguascalientes is definitely providing competition for a city of its size.

I’ve been here just over a week and have already visited three museums. My earlier post on Museo Nacional de las Muertes speaks for itself. In this post I will focus on the other two museums I’ve visited.

On Thursday I ventured down a side street close to the bull ring and was completely enchanted with Museo del Juguete Tradicional Mexicano Aguascalientes. There are over a thousand exhibits here featuring traditional toys from all over Mexico. These toys are made from a range of materials including wood, rags, sugar, newspaper, mud and even chewing gum. Admission is a mere 15 pesos, a small price to pay for a delightful venture back into childhood. Of course, coming from Canada, these toys are amazingly different from those I grew up with. 

On Friday I went to the Regional Museo de Historia Aguascalientes. The building itself is an old structure with a lovely fountain at the entrance. There are several rooms with displays depicting the geological and cultural history of the area. Brush up on your Spanish as there are no English translations of the descriptive notes. Admission is 55 pesos, but it is free to seniors, students and teachers.

3 museums down. Only 8 more to go.

Museo Nacional de las Muertes

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Museo Nacional de las Muertes

Death. A cause for celebration or a time to dread. I guess it depends on your outlook on life. I heard that there was a museum of death here in Aguascalientes and I had to check it out. After all, Dia de las Muertes is one of my favorite experiences here in Mexico.

I was greeted at the door by this lovely skull. It was also a Wednesday so admission was free.

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This museum is home to a collection of items pertaining to burial customs, including photographs of the dead. I was directed down a dark, steep flight of stairs into a crypt where I found this creature.

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As I wandered through the various rooms, I was amazed at the display of artifacts dealing with death throughout the ages. There are literally hundreds of paintings, sculptures, lithographs and photos. Here is a small sampling:

This museum is definitely a must for any tourist visiting Aguascalientes.

 

I’m Back! Guess Where????

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I’m Back! Guess Where????

We take a lot of things for granted in life. When they suddenly become unavailable we become frustrated and annoyed. While I thoroughly enjoyed my two months in San Ciro de Acosta, the precarious internet has seriously affected my writing. Sitting next to the modem in the office of the junkyard (yes, the hotel office was the junkyard office) the signal came in as fair at best. Uploading photos took forever. I was constantly getting messages that I had timed out when trying to reach a website. Google would repeatedly tell me to check my internet connection. Ugh!

But I am now back in civilization. I am in the beautiful city of Aguascalientes. I haven’t been here a week yet and I am amazed at what this city has to offer. I sincerely hope that I can cram the eleven museums and other interesting landmarks into the month I intend to stay here.

A mere 5 minute walk from where I am staying is Expoplaza, a huge mall currently still under construction. Only a few shops and restaurants are open right now, but I was delighted to find Cinemex open and I enjoyed a movie yesterday afternoon.

Directly in front of the mall is a beautiful park with an abundance of benches and tables. I have decided that when it’s time to color this outdoor venue appeals to me. The park also has an awesome playground for the kids. Just beyond the park is an area designated for roller skating.

As I continue my walk towards Centro, I come across a street that reminds me of Calle Independencia in Tlaquepaque. Lined with restaurants and shops, it is open to pedestrian traffic only. I had a delicious torta and horchata yesterday afternoon for lunch.

Minutes later I arrive at the Templo San Marcos and the Jardin San Marcos. The church was crowded and a quinceanara was taking place. When girls turn fifteen here in Mexico, it is a great cause for celebration.

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The Jardin San Marcos has fast become one of my favorite spots here in Aguascalientes. The greenery is spectacular, the music relaxing and the variety of street vendors displaying their wares is most interesting. Food, candy and toys seem to be the most popular ones.

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About five minutes past the park and I am in Centro near the Basilica. This afternoon I went to Telcel to renew my plan. Best experience ever! Ten cashiers, no lineup and cashier activated it immediately. So much easier than in Mazatlan.

I then took a ride on the Turbus to acquaint myself with the city. The tour was in Spanish and I understood almost everything the tour guide said. I added a few places to my “to visit” list. 

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After the tour, I strolled down one of the side streets and came across yet another beautiful church. Across the street from it was a mall called Parian where I sought some air-conditioned relief from the heat outside.

Tomorrow is museum day……