Tag Archives: 2020

Aguascalientes And Me

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Aguascalientes And Me

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!

Not The Usual

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Not The Usual

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.

And Yet Another Change

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And Yet Another Change

2020 was a year filled with changes in my life. And 2021 probably won’t be much different. For the first week in January, I decided to get a new cell phone. The one I selected is light years apart from the one I bought in Mexico two years ago.

In some ways it’s similar to my tablet which is also very different from my old phone. But I am determined to master this device and make it my best friend. This is where the Serenity Prayer will really prove to be useful.

I’m a hands on type of person and not a RTFM type. Oh the challenges this presents at times! I also find that as I grow older I’m not as fond of change as I once was.

Of course there are some changes I do enjoy, but those usually involve traveling and moving. When it comes to electronics, not so much.

I wound up getting a Samsung something or other and so far so good. Of course, as I’m writing this, it’s  only day one. The staff at AT&T in Wenatchee  were most helpful this morning. And I’ve been  playing around with it for a while now. Lots of new territory to explore.

One feature I really like is the visual voicemail. I can pick and choose which message to check out first. And speaking of voicemail, I need to go and personalize my greeting.

See you on Sunday!

Happy New Year !!!

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Happy New Year !!!

I’m completely rewriting this post at approximately 10 pm Tuesday night.

At the moment downtown Leavenworth and Highway 2 are shut down. Everyone has been evacuated. The hospital is under lockdown. There is a bomb threat.

Leavenworth is a small town, not a big city like Nashville. Well, just another crazy thing to add to the list of crazy things that have happened in 2020.

I actually was in Leavenworth today. I met my friends for lunch and we went to the library. We dined on the patio at Heidelburger under the overhead heaters.

I was safely on Link and on my way back to Wenatchee a couple of hours before the bomb threat.

This twilight zone we are living in just gets more surreal every day. While everyone says they’re relieved that 2020 is almost over, I wonder just what’s next in 2021.

But let’s try to end this final post of 2020 on a more positive note.

December 21 has come and gone and the days are getting longer. The Covid vaccines are out there. The neverending American election is finally coming to a close.

Thank you to all my readers for taking the time to check out my posts on Wednesdays and Sundays. I wish all of you a Healthy and a Happy New Year filled with only good things.

See you next year.

5 Days Left

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5 Days Left

2020. The neverending year from hell. It didn’t start out that way. Think back to:

January. Rang in the new year with friends. Sunshine and warm weather in Aguascalientes. Coloring in the park. Exploring museums. Considering going to Mexico City and Cuernavaca to see friends.

February. Time has flown by quickly. Culiacán is on the agenda for next month. Enjoying my volunteer work and my private students.

March. A contagious flu bug out of Wuhan, China is classified a pandemic as of the 13th. Travel plans quashed. Will ride this out in Mexico.

I finally arrived in Leavenworth in September instead of in April. No volunteer work, church ministry, bridge games, craft days, exercise classes, book club, memoir writing classes or traveling.

I currently have friends in three countries struggling with Covid. On Thursday I found out that my granddaughter in Canada needs surgery. Yesterday my friend in Winnipeg told me her husband is in the hospital with pneumonia. Read the obituaries in the Winnipeg Free Press and recognized one too many names.

And then a couple of nights ago night we got our first substantial snowfall. Some has melted but not all of it.

My body is tired of wearing long sleeves and jeans, and now boots. It’s begging for shorts and t-shirts. I know this is one Christmas I won’t forget. Although it was enjoyable, I found my heart wandering elsewhere.

I’ve always thought American history was far more colorful than Canadian history. But after all the controversy surrounding the recent election, I just wanted things to calm down. Instead there was a bombing in Nashville that has everyone on red alert rather than on code red for Covid.

And 5 days still remain in 2020….

Twas The Week Before Christmas

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Twas The Week Before Christmas

Today is one day or two days before Christmas. In Mexico, the big celebration is Christmas Eve complete with ponche, tamales and pozole. But I won’t be doing that this year. Instead it will be a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Day here in the USA.

It doesn’t matter where we are in the world this year. It’s a Covid Christmas. Large family gatherings will be via Zoom rather than in person. There will be only two of us for dinner on Friday.

With temperatures in the 40s and no snow on the ground, I found it even more difficult to get into the festive spirit this year. It also feels strange not to be in Mexico.

We watched an excellent movie on Netflix last night. I highly recommend that you watch The Butler. American history is colorful and seeing old video clips really brought me back in time. I wonder what it would have been like if the internet had been around in the days of Kennedy and LBJ. Instead we had only the 11 o’clock news at night.

A sad event this past week. A writer friend of mine in Texas lost his battle with cancer. He was a retired homicide detective who unfortunately never had the chance to really enjoy his retirement.

I spoke to my son in Winnipeg and was updated on the code red lockdown. There are far more closures there than there are here in Washington.

I’ve gone on several enjoyable walks this week. I’ve been exploring my new neighborhood. The other day I saw a flock of geese take to the skies in a V formation and for a moment was transported back to Manitoba.

I went to Leavenworth one day and had lunch with Karen. Despite the snow and icy sidewalks, I loved all the Christmas lights and decorated trees near the gazebo.

Yesterday Ann and I were at the Wenatchee Valley Mall and Fred Meyer. At the mall, Ross appeared to be the busiest store with people lined up to get in and a strict head count. It was the complete opposite at Fred Meyer.

Please keep me in your prayers. Joyce and I are attacking Walmart today and I’m sure it will be a zoo.

Please mask up and physical distance when you are out and about. Stay safe!

Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Fantasyland

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A Christmas Fantasyland

The snow has arrived in Leavenworth and has not melted away as it has in Wenatchee. Snow and icy sidewalks prevail, creating a nice backdrop for the photos I took of the incredible trees the other night.

Crowds of people throng the downtown streets to gaze at this Christmas Fantasyland. Usually I’m in Mexico viewing photos my friends have posted on Facebook.

This year is different. This year I am here in person to view this spectacular display.

It’s Here!

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It’s Here!

Winter, you are such a tease! This was around 8 yesterday morning on the patio.

Later in the morning we headed out to Lowe’s to buy a shovel. By then it had warmed up although some of the fog still lingered. The streets were a tad slushy.

By noon the streets and sidewalks were completely clear. The sun was even trying to peek through. But up on the mountains the snow and fog were clearly visible.

The forecast is mainly for snow showers or rain for the next few days. I’m glad the snow is coming gradually. It makes it easier to get used to after ten years of Mexican winters.

My friend in Aguascalientes sent me this photo taken the other day at Jardin San Marcos.

I miss Mexico at this time of year. I hope that next year at this time that’s where I’ll be. It feels too strange not to be there now.

Wenatchee Riverfront Park

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Wenatchee Riverfront Park

Saturday was one of the rare sunny days we’ve had recently and was a welcome change from the overcast gray skies. Linda and Gene came in from Leavenworth and we headed out for a walk along the river.

Riverfront Park is home to an asphalt hike/bike trail as well as a miniature railway, a statue garden and a boat launch. In the summer the trees and flowers are alive with color. But on a December winter day these few berries were all that was left.

A number of interesting statues caught my eye, such as this monkey on a skateboard.

The river views and the mountainous terrain really add to the beauty of this park.

Our timing was perfect as the sun had just begun its descent into the mountains as we arrived back at the car. Once the sun disappears the temperature plummets.

A lovely walk with great friends on a winter’s day with no snow on the ground. Life is good.

Remember When

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Remember When

I was out for a walk on a rather gray and foggy day. I heard geese honking! Sure enough in a field across the way there were hundreds of them. Canada Geese. On their way down south for the winter.

In another lifetime I’d head out to Fort Whyte Center in Winnipeg to see them take off at sunset. Occasionally flocks of them would appear overhead as I drove down McGillivray.

I was at Walmart and picked up a gingerbread house kit. It seems like just yesterday when my kids used to make them. This year my friend Ida and I are going to make one.

I move around a lot and usually spend Christmas in different places. I always buy a small tree and decorate it. I keep some of the handmade ornaments but the tree and the balls are always given away to someone when I leave. This is my 2020 tree although I will probably add more ornaments.

Places I’ve been in the last ten years include Culiacán, Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara, Tototlán, Mazatlan, San Ciro de Acosta and Aguascalientes. This is the first time I’ve ever been in the USA for Christmas.

The temperature is dropping and snow is in the forecast for next week. That will definitely bring back memories of life before Mexico when Winnipeg winters were my norm.