Tag Archives: Aguascalientes

Coming Home?????

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Coming Home?????

Winnipeg has changed. This is not the city I remember growing up in and raising my children in. This is not the city I would ever care to live in again. There is such a cold feel to it. Winnipeg may be my hometown, but it definitely is not nor ever will be home to me again.

When I think home, I think Washington State and I think Aguascalientes.

It is nice to see my friends again. It’s been a few years. We have lots to catch up on. It’s interesting to see where we have moved to and what we are all doing now as we’ve grown older. Retirement has meant different things to different people. And let’s not even contemplate all the compromises we’ve made that have been impacted by health issues.

We’ve gone for drives through neighborhoods from my past. New roadways and buildings. A multitude of new apartments and condos. Even the trees look different, and not because they’ve grown taller over the years. They’re new too.

I met a friend for brunch on Friday and wandered over to look at the high school I graduated from back in 1969. University of Winnipeg Collegiate still looks pretty much the same. That’s my feature pic for this blog post.

We drove by my old elementary school and middle school. We drove by the house I grew up in as well as the house I lived in when my two kids were born. And of course the cemetery was one of the first places I wanted to go to as well.

The Forks has seen a few changes. Many of the restaurants have changed. Shops are not the same. But the river is still there.

I’m currently staying in the downtown area. It’s sad to see the empty Bay building. Taller skyscrapers also dot the downtown area and many buildings have changed names.

Tomorrow I’m headed to a cabin with a friend for a few days so I won’t be posting on Wednesday. Looking forward to the peace and quiet possible with No Wi-Fi!

Happy Fourth of July to all my friends out there!

Happy Easter! Happy Passover!

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Three important celebrations were held on the evening of Friday, April 15th, 2022.

I attended a very moving service at Sage Hills Church in Wenatchee. It was in English and I was there live and in person. For the past several years I have always done a Good Friday service in English online as I’ve been in Mexico.

Back at home in Aguascalientes the occasion was the beginning of the Feria, the first one since 2019 because of Covid. This usually annual festivity takes place over a number of weeks and spans an area from Centro all the way to La Isla.

Friday also marked the first seder of Passover for those of the Jewish faith around the globe.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this weekend, blessings to you for health and happiness.

Happy Passover!

Happy Easter!

Feliz Pascua!

Here And There

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Here And There

I’m sitting here sipping salted caramel tea as I write this. A nice change from the chamomile I drink in Aguascalientes. In the background The Rifleman fills the TV screen. I loved that show as a child and I still do. Not on any of the channels I watch in Mexico.

I enjoy my life where I’ve turned back into a snowbird. When I first arrived in Culiacan I met expats who had decided to revert back to the snowbird life. I didn’t understand it back then, but after living full time in Mexico for almost six years, I made that decision as well.

That was back in 2016 when I retired from teaching ESL. That was also when I discovered Washington state. My planned two week vacation turned into four months when the first snowfall finally chased me back to Mazatlan.

As I was eating a sourdough English muffin with marble cheese for breakfast, I found myself missing gorditas. Yes, that happens. The only Mexican food I eat up here is at Agave Azul in Cashmere. But marble cheese does not exist in Mexico.

I had lunch at Gustav’s with friends the other day. One of my rare red meat fixes. Although the burger was far superior, I found myself missing the country music at Country Break in Aguascalientes.

The mountains here in Washington never cease to amaze me. I see them out my bedroom window. I see them when I go out for walks. The view is magnificent on the drive from East Wenatchee along Highway 2 into Leavenworth.

The NCW Libraries features an abundance of programs and activities in addition to books and movies. I signed up for two of them this month that are offered on Zoom.

The museum in Wenatchee is another of my favorite places. The Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Fest is one of the featured events. There is also an art show going on with displays of art from local schools. I will have to check out what programs they are offering this month.

Yesterday Christina and I went out to garage sales and had a blast. We found lots of treasures. Brought back memories of another lifetime in Canada.

Here’s to a new month!

Thoughts

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Thoughts

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?

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!

It’s The Last Week

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It’s The Last Week

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.

Road Trip

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Road Trip

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.

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.

It’s Been A Fun Week

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It’s Been A Fun Week

There is no such thing as a typical week for me here in Aguascalientes, or for that matter anywhere I live. I do not thrive on routine. To me the word “routine” is a four letter word, along with the word “normal”, neither of which can be used to describe my life.

My characters are still talking to me so I’ve been doing a lot of writing, sometimes at 4 am. I do prefer to write during the day, but after experiencing writer’s block for several months, I’m extremely grateful for writing time regardless of the hour.

I did my usual morning run to the lavenderia. The day varies as I’ve grown quite accustomed to sipping that first cup of coffee and lounging around in bed checking emails and playing Candy Crush before I head out. But when I get close to running out of clean clothes, I brave the cold 40 degree mornings and go to the lavenderia. My reward is to pick up my clothes a few hours later, clean and neatly folded and ready to be put away.

I had a four hour fitness training on Zoom the other day from Washington. It was great to connect with everyone again and I’m looking forward to teaching again when I get back.

Joanne and I hit Costco the other day and here are two of my treasures……cheddar cheese and everything bagel. No idea how many steps we got in, but it was quite a few.

Joanne and I go for some pretty wild drives and have seen some really interesting areas in this city where I’m guessing most gringas don’t venture to. But we do!😜

Went for a haircut the other day. Last one with Paulina until I come back in the fall. Delighted to find a stylist here who actually knows how to layer hair like they do in the USA. And I also enjoy the banter all in Spanish.

I went to the park with Gloria and her daughter Romina. Gloria moves to Tulum next week. I will miss our intercambios and, of course, her delicious empenadas.

A project I’ve been working on this winter is condensing eleven plus years of notes on Spanish grammar and vocabulary into one notebook. And I’m almost done! It’s been a tedious task and I’m grateful to Gloria, Raul and Pedro for their help with grammar. I really understand why my students struggle with learning a second language.

I introduced my friend Carole to Country Break. We had a delightful lunch and I picked up a salad to take home. This amazing salad lasts at least three days and has become a staple in my fridge.

Time for internet church. Have a great Sunday!

I Went Out For A Walk

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I Went Out For A Walk

It’s been a crazy weekend so far, a real roller coaster ride. And I’m trying to get off of it. But it’s a tough struggle.

It started on Friday when I read something on Facebook. And then I made the mistake of reading the obituaries in my hometown newspaper. And if that wasn’t enough, I received malas noticias from a friend here in Mexico. The icing on the cake is the crisis one of my characters is going through, and I can’t get it out of my head.

Time to clear my head. Time for a long walk, by myself. Hoping I don’t bump into anyone because I just don’t feel like talking right now.

Some people call me homeless because I keep moving around. But this woman is truly homeless and she doesn’t move at all. No, she’s camped out on a boulevard on a busy street here in Las Flores.

I walked by a travel agency and saw this interesting poster. I’m thinking it was an old one, before Covid.

Luckily the only person I had to talk to was the server at Country Break. And yes, I ordered a burger to go along with my “comfort food.”

I think the walk helped. Duolingo is calling. Today’s story is a cheesy one about a secret place. I wonder what Junior will be up to today….