Tag Archives: 2021

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…..

Where I Live

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Where I Live

Aguascalientes City is in the state of Aguascalientes in central Mexico. Aguascalientes means “hot water.” And there are hot springs close by, even in the city.

My neighborhood is called Las Flores, which means “flowers.” The streets are all names of flowers. The name of my street is Begonias.

There are two tiendas, corner stores, within a block of where I live. There are about a dozen scattered throughout the neighborhood. Their shelves are full as there are no hoarders here.

There are three cocinas, kitchens, within four blocks of where I live. My favorite one has fresh vegetable salads and fruit salads. The dishes change daily and offer a variety of food from soups to desserts. I prefer to avoid the fried food but occasionally I can’t resist the flautas.

A block away is the lavenderia. I drop a bag of laundry off and a few hours later I pick it up, clean and neatly folded. It costs a few pesos, and far less than I’d spend buying detergent and fabric softener. And it’s done for me.

There are a number of small restaurants, gordita stands and taco stands in the area. A block away from home is Expoplaza where a number of food stands open up on the weekends at night.

Some of the specialty stores include butchers, fruit stores, bakeries and even a couple of pie stores. Fresh tortillas are made daily at tortillarias. There are also doctors and dentists, and even a pet store.

A tienguis takes place on Thursdays. This little street market features everything from fruits and vegetables to tools and everything in between. Many vendors are set up on tables but some just put a blanket or sheet on the ground to display their wares.

There is a lovely little park at the end of my street. I’ve spent many an hour coloring and watching the children play on the playground. People are always curious to see my art and it leads to many interesting conversations.

And did I mention that there is also a bull ring at the end of my street?

A Washingtonian in Aguascalientes

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A Washingtonian in Aguascalientes

It’s great to be back here in Las Flores. Being the only gringa in this barrio, it’s not surprising that so many people around here remember me although I was gone for a year.

Let’s get Covid out of the way. I don’t wear a mask outside. However masks are required in shops, restaurants, etc. Sanitizing mats and temperature checks are common. Done.

I’ve been out walking again and am delighted that my favorite cocinas and restaurants are all still here and open. However the nearby cinema is gone, not just closed.

The weather is comfortable and the thunder boomers tend to hold off until nighttime. I still haven’t found time to go and color in the park yet but tomorrow is another day. Today I’m looking forward to strolling through the tienguis.

Tonight is the reading of the gritto and tomorrow is Independence Day. I plan to venture into Centro and join in the celebration.

Vive Mexico!

Travel Time

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Travel Time

I remember when I used to love flying. I admit I still love the joy of take-off and landing, and the part in the middle is great for a siesta. It’s the before part and the layovers that have become more tedious as the years go by.

As a foreigner boarding an international flight, I am never able to check in online. The lines at SeaTac are usually ridiculously long although it can be amusing watching people pulling items out as their bags are overweight. And then the TSA lineups! I used to allow three hours and frequently it actually took that full amount of time.

I’d also take the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle out of Peshastin to SeaTac which added another two and a half hours.

Thank you Alaska Airlines for adding an afternoon flight from Wenatchee to SeaTac. Travel time to Seattle now reduced to just twenty six minutes.

Pangborn Airport…..you are now my favorite airport. In under twenty minutes, I checked in and went through TSA and arrived at the departure gate. When is the last time you flew out of an airport that had only one departure gate?

I had just over two hours in Seattle, plenty of time to catch the train to the other terminal and grab a much appreciated beer along with dinner.

I slept on the flight to LA. This is always an overnight layover, but not long enough to go to hotel and then start up with TSA all over again in the morning. But it was a perfect time for a Candy Crush marathon on my tablet.

I attempted to sleep on the flight to Guadalajara but the friendly staff on Alaska were determined that I remain hydrated. Then there were the customs and immigration forms. And a reminder to about a health questionnaire that I had already completed online.

My bag arrived well within Alaska’s 20 minute guarantee. Minutes later I had my 180 day visa in hand and was in a taxi headed for Central Nueva for the last leg of my journey to Aguascalientes by bus. And I did sleep for most of that two hour bus ride.

Raul picked me up at the bus station and drove me home to Las Flores. Shower and sleep time in a real bed!

The pandemic continues with all the new variants. However I was much more relaxed traveling now than I was a year ago when I finally made it out of Mexico and got to Washington. I’ve been vaccinated, for whatever protection that has to offer. Where I’m living in Mexico, masks, sanitizing mats and temperature checks are the norm. I even hope to do some traveling in Mexico in the next few months.

No, I am not afraid to travel. So are millions of others judging by the full flights I experienced. Life is too short to live in fear. Life is for living!

Checking In

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Checking In

I’ve been back in Mexico for just over 24 hours and it’s been a whirlwind of activity.

On Sunday I’ll post about my travel experience but for the time being I’d like to say that I have arrived safely and am settling back in to life in Aguascalientes.

Thank you Telcel for allowing me to keep my phone number although I’ve been away for a year. What’s App is up and running again.

The ATM was a bit of a challenge as it’s been reformatted. But that’s okay. I’m getting quite used to change.

Las Flores, my neighborhood. It’s so nice to be back. I went for a walk this morning in search of breakfast and enjoyed a delicious bolillo filled with shredded pork, frijoles, egg, cheese and potatoes. 25 pesos or $1.25 US.

I spent a good part of the day unpacking. And I even got together a bag of laundry that I will take to the lavenderia tomorrow.

For dinner I got takeout from one of my favorite local places. I have missed their enchiladas rojas served with a side of potatoes, carrots and beans. The cuenta was 48 pesos or $2.40 US.

Tomorrow I plan to hit Waldo’s (Mexico’s version of Dollar Tree) and then pick up a few groceries at the tienda nearby.

A big thank you to Raul, hotel owner extraordinaire, who has been chauffeuring me around since I got back. His translating skills were especially helpful at Telcel. It’s hard enough conversing with fast-speaking Mexicans, but the mask sure muffles the speech.

Yes, I’m back in maskland. Antibacterial gel before entering a store, temperature taken and sanitizing mats. Very different from Washington state.

Last Post From Washington State

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Last Post From Washington State

Three days until I leave. I’m actually very organized, other than the last minute stuff that just can’t be done beforehand.

I’ve been here for almost a year and am more than ready to head south except for the fact that I’ll be missing fall here. I won’t see the leaves in their fall splendor as they change color. The view along Highway 2 in Leavenworth is spectacular. I also won’t be able to meander through Cashmere admiring the glorious fall colors, especially my favorite red maple.

Wednesday will be a busy day and I won’t be posting. I fly from Wenatchee to Seattle to Los Angeles. Then on Thursday I fly to Guadalajara and grab a bus to Aguascalientes. I’ve done it before but that was before Covid. My masks are ready.

I said goodbye to my life group on Wednesday at a barbecue. Last night I had intended to bid farewell to my friends at the Senior Center, but the activity was canceled due to the rising number of Covid cases here in Chelan County. On Friday Joyce and I had spent the day together in Wenatchee and had one last lunch at Olive Garden. Joyce and I also taught our last fitness class together on Tuesday.

This afternoon Linda and I will have one last movie afternoon. We’ve been hibernating indoors on Sundays due to the smoke. Her husband Gene is an amazing chef and pampers us with a variety of tantalizing dishes.

There will be more goodbyes to more friends in the next couple of days. Each fall it gets harder to leave here as relationships grow. And I have been especially blessed this year as Debbie and Paul have provided me with a wonderful home for the last few months.

Although I am excited about a winter without snow again this year, I do look forward to returning to the mountains in the spring. This prairie girl will always be enamored by the beauty of the Cascades.

A Week From Now

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A Week From Now

A week from now at this time I will be landing in Guadalajara. I usually make this trip in late October, but nothing about this year has been usual.

When I booked my flights just over a week ago, my initial thought was to fly to Puerto Vallarta and spend some time on the beach. Thanks to Covid beach time has become more of a distant memory. But I opted to fly inland instead.

Flying inland seems to have been the wisest choice. Hurricane Nora tore into Puerto Vallarta this week, collapsing hotels and damaging bridges. Nora then made her way up the coast and caused extensive flooding in Mazatlan. It appears that once again my beach time has been put on hold.

That’s okay. I’m looking forward to getting back to Aguascalientes and seeing my friends. It’s been just shy of a year instead of the usual six months.

There has been so much talk of the new normal since Covid invaded our world. I’m trying to view it as the new usual. That seems a bit more positive.

In Case You’re Wondering

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In Case You’re Wondering

I’m into the home stretch. Saying goodbye to people and places.

My Tree. This spectacular red maple captured my heart back in 2016. Right now it’s still very green and I will miss the vibrant red leaves this year. I’m counting on my friends to send me pics. I know they will. After all, they visit my tree when I’m away for the winter.

Something else I will miss is the 9/11 service at Spirit of America. This is always a highlight of my time in Washington and sadly I will be far away in another country on September 11th.

The Chelan County Fair in Cashmere and the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth are two more favorite events I will miss this year.

Yes I will be thousands of miles away but I will be in time for Independence Day celebrations.

So now have you guessed where I’m going?

Made It To Humpday

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Made It To Humpday

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I wonder if Charles Dickens was forecasting the year 2021 when he wrote those opening words in A Tale Of Two Cities.”

My first winter in snow in eleven years was actually quite enjoyable. It’s much milder here than in Winnipeg.

In March the USA issued a Level 4 travel advisory not to go to Canada. I retained an attorney and began the process of obtaining an extended stay. Documents, documents and more documents. In April I provided the requested biometrics. But it wasn’t until July when USCIS officially notified me that the stay had been granted.

In June I went on my first Amtrak trip and visited with friends in Portland and Sacramento. The scenery along the coast was breathtaking and it felt so good to travel again.

Once again I’m thinking about travel. I’ve spent the past two days exploring options. It’s been nerve-wracking to say the least. And I’ve finally made a decision. And I’ve booked flights. But that will be discussed in another post at a later date.

Speaking of dates, September 20th is the date of the federal election in 🇨🇦, if the wildfires don’t burn the country down first.