Tag Archives: Aguascalientes

Two Questions

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Two Questions

I usually travel a lot. Of course COVID-19 has temporarily grounded me here in Aguascalientes at the moment. But when I do travel to new places there are two questions that people ask me and quite honestly these questions annoy me. Why? Because the answers are complicated.

The first question is What’s your name?

I was twenty-one when I got married and that’s when I legally changed my maiden name to my married name. When the marriage ended, I had just published my first book. My publisher suggested I continue to write under my married name. And I still write under that name and I use that name on my Facebook author page.

However I decided to revert back to my maiden name when the marriage ended but thought I’d wait to legally change it until the divorce was final. By then I was living in Mexico where I had yet a different name on official documents. Here in Mexico your surname consists of father’s surname followed by mother’s maiden name.

I never did get around to legally changing my name back and the fun started when I arrived in Leavenworth four years ago. In order to volunteer in children’s ministry in the church, a criminal records check and child abuse registry check were mandatory. I can still see the puzzled looks on the two pastors’ faces when I pulled out my ID from my wallet and couldn’t find two photo IDs with the same name. Thankfully I remembered my passport that was at home in a drawer.

I prefer to just use the name Karen and totally eliminate all surnames.

The second question is Where’s home?

Actually that seems to be American Immigration’s favorite question. Once again the answer is complicated.

Undisputedly my hometown is Winnipeg. I was born there and lived there until ten years ago.

Culiacán with my Mexican family is home to me in Mexico. When I walk through the door of their home a wave of familiarity washes over me. This is definitely home to me, especially with my loving family surrounding me.

Four years ago I discovered Leavenworth, Washington and that also has become home to me. COVID-19 has screwed up my plans for my annual six month visit this year. But once things settle down I plan to return to Leavenworth. I miss my friends and I miss the volunteer work I usually do there.

But another place that has become home to me is where I stay here in Aguascalientes. I spent three months here last winter, intending to stay only three weeks initially. This winter I’m now in my ninth month and still counting thanks to COVID-19.

So……….Where’s home?

Nomad Not Now

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Nomad Not Now

I’ve been here in Aguascalientes for 8 months now, with the exception of a few days in Culiacán back in December. I haven’t stayed in one place that long in the past 10 years without traveling on holidays and weekends. The term ” nomad” when describing my lifestyle is apparently no longer appropriate at this time.

COVID-19 has quite effectively grounded me for the time being. I’ll just have to wait and see what transpires. In the meantime there is still new territory to explore right in my barrio.

Pets are different down here in Mexico. They’re not the usual dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles or fish. The other day my neighbor posed for me with his pet rooster.

I was out for a walk the other evening when the clouds began to roll in. I captured this shot of an apartment building. The church I attend occupies the main floor. No elevator and the apartments are on the second to sixth floors.

One of my neighbors sells candy, frozen chocolate bananas and chips. Here is a new colorful sign on their house.

This friendly little one sleeps on the sidewalk or in doorways in an attempt to find shade during the day. Temperatures have been hovering in the 90s for weeks now.

I always enjoy looking at the artwork on buildings around here.

The flowers are blooming everywhere.

This nomad will continue to roam only in Aguascalientes for another month.

June 17 Memories

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June 17 Memories

Aguascalientes has now changed from red to orange on the virus map. Trudeau is keeping the Canadian border closed. Leavenworth seems farther away now.

But I’d rather be where I am today than where I was seven years ago on this date.

Seven years ago today I was having surgery at Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg, my second knee replacement.

Another memory. Eight years ago today I was also in Winnipeg. It was the day before my first knee replacement.

Today I just returned from a short walk to the Cocina. My fridge is now full of fresh vegetable and fruit salads, chicken and pasta.

Today is June 17 and I am living in Aguascalientes in the midst of a pandemic, creating more memories.

Out For A Walk

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Out For A Walk

I go out for longer walks every day now. I have a variety of masks in my wardrobe and I am careful about physical distancing.

Seeing as traveling outside of the city is not a possibility, I have decided to venture down new streets to explore instead.

Vibrant colors of flowers are everywhere. This photo was taken on a nearby boulevard.

There are lots of street vendors in my neighborhood. It’s mainly juice and fruit during the daytime but this one was different and intrigued me.

Cafes and bars are open and tables are well spaced, even outdoors.

The car wash is open again and costs 30 pesos. The American dollar currently has a value of about 25 pesos.

Sculpted greenery is everywhere.

This doorway has its unique charm.

As I passed by the Fiesta Americana, there was a ceremony going on where hotel employees were being presented with hampers.

I wonder what I will find on my next walk.

Facebook Memories

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Facebook Memories

Thank you Facebook for not only reminding me of my friends’ birthdays but also of reminding me of the different places where I have lived.

Apparently four years ago today I was at The Saloon in Mazatlan with friends doing this.

Today I’m in Aguascalientes sipping coffee instead of doing Jell-O shots.

Five years ago today I was still teaching and this was my classroom at Hotel Torres in Mazatlan. Most of my students were working in housekeeping or security at the hotel.

Today I’m retired and not teaching. Now I sip my coffee rather than gulp it.

But I’m really feeling nostalgic/homesick now. I spoke to my friend Debbie earlier today. She was shopping at Walmart in Wenatchee when I called, one of my favorite places. Then I found this pic from last summer in Cashmere.

I would certainly welcome some of that Washington rain today. 90s and sunny here in Aguascalientes. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had any rain.

Thanks for the memories Facebook!

Too Soon? Not Soon Enough?

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Too Soon? Not Soon Enough?

Things are starting to reopen here in Aguascalientes. That leaves me a little confused. Cases and deaths are setting record numbers in Mexico, although I must admit I don’t have much confidence in the statistics released daily. Even the state officials can’t seem to agree if Aguascalientes City is a green area or a yellow area.

I went for my daily walks today and noticed that several shops, restaurants and doctors’ offices had reopened.

We’re all getting cabin fever from being cooped up for so long. Yet I know that I have mixed feelings about reopening.

I will continue to maintain an appropriate physical distance and will wear my masks when I venture out. And I will definitely avoid crowds.

I Should Be In Leavenworth

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I Should Be In Leavenworth

Under different circumstances I would be there today. I would have spent the last two days on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. I would have been on the direct flight to Sea-Tac last night.

But that was in another lifetime, the one before COVID-19. The lifetime before the world went crazy. The lifetime before my life got turned upside down.

There was no Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee. There will be no Maifest in Leavenworth. There will be no VBS, book club, bridge games or SAIL classes for a while yet.

I miss my friends in Leavenworth. I miss LCN. I miss the mountains. I miss the valleys. I miss the rivers and parks. I miss my favorite tree in Cashmere.

Until the borders open up again and the international flights resume, I will stay here in Aguascalientes.

But I really long to be back home in Leavenworth.

Taking Care Of Me

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Taking Care Of Me

Taking care of me is a relatively new phenomena in my life. Until about ten years ago, I had spent decades putting other people first. Now it was finally time for me.

The downside is that I have spent the last ten years mostly traveling around. This is not exactly conducive with getting involved in a long term relationship. And I find myself alone now in a foreign country waiting out this pandemic.

Why didn’t I return to Canada when I had the chance? I haven’t had a home there in ten years. I had nowhere to go. Yes I have children and friends there. But it’s one thing to come back to visit for a week or two but quite another to come back for a longer period of time.

Where I really wanted to go was back to Leavenworth. I discovered this quaint village four years ago and I’ve put down roots there. But I’m Canadian not American so the border is closed to me.

I have been taking care of myself here in Aguascalientes. First and foremost is that I have a comfortable place to stay and a neighborhood where food and other supplies are readily available within walking distance.

While I am living alone I am definitely not lonely. I have a great phone plan and have unlimited international calls. My family and friends are very accessible.

The highlight is definitely the video calls to my daughter and granddaughter. The other day Madeline sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to me and my heart melted.

Then there are the texts and messaging on social media apps. I’m really limiting my time on Facebook as I’m tired of all the misinformation and inaccurate statistics. I know what I need to do to stay healthy and I’m doing my best.

I go out for two short walks daily. I usually pick up food at this time as well. My fridge may be small but it’s adequately stocked.

I join in discussion groups on the Mayo Clinic website. These are a great source of support at this time.

I’m really enjoying a course I’m taking from University of Toronto. The topic is dealing with anxiety in the face of COVID-19.

I color every day and I listen to music. I watch movies in Spanish. I’m participating in an online Bible study. I do online church services. And I still do the SAIL exercises.

I take time to meditate. And I take time to contemplate life. I’m pretty sure there will be some big changes in my life when this pandemic is no longer a threat and becomes treatable instead.

I live in the present. Mindfulness is key. I want to avoid any unnecessary PTSD in the aftermath.

Last but definitely not least, prayer has been an important part of my life for some time. But it is even more meaningful now.

What are you doing for yourself?

Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter!

Easter is different this year. We’re all experiencing a virtual Easter.

For the past ten years I have celebrated Easter in Mexico. I’ve been in Culiacán, Guadalajara, Mazatlán and Aguascalientes.

I’ve gone on the Walk of the Cross in Guadalajara and in Culiacán with my Catholic family and friends. I’ve had Easter dinner with a variety of friends.

This year I’ll be alone in my room. I’ll have lots of church services online to keep me company.

Have a blessed Easter everyone!

My New Daily Routine

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My New Daily Routine

Since I’ve been retired I haven’t really had much of a daily routine. Basically it’s been traveling around Mexico six months of the year and doing a lot of volunteering and socializing in Leavenworth the other six months, with an occasional side trip to Canada.

This winter I returned to Aguascalientes City with the intent to focus on my Spanish skills. I returned to the same neighborhood where I am the only gringa.

I used to savor my first cup of coffee at 8 am. I’d often go to my favorite gordita stand for breakfast. And then it was off to the shops to engage people in conversation. Now many shops look like this.

In the afternoon I’d go to the park to color. Sometimes I’d meet friends there.

I also used to attend church services on Thursday and Sunday. Saturday was my one teaching day.

And then COVID-19 entered our lives.

I now have breakfast in my hotel room. And some days I don’t even get dressed until around noon. I watch movies in Spanish to improve my comprehension but it doesn’t do much for conversation or pronunciation.

I still color every day but not in the park. The park is closed.

I go for shorter walks. I spend more time on the phone with friends. I do on-line church and I’m going to sign up for another course on Coursera.

That leaves me with lots of time for writing. I now do blog posts every second day. And I’m hoping my imaginary friends keep talking to me so that my work in progress does indeed continue to progress.

Phase 2 has begun in Ags. People around here seem to be taking COVID-19 very seriously and the streets are quieter than usual. No problem with social distancing.

Stay home and stay safe!