Tag Archives: COVID-19

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…..

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.

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.

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.

Good Riddance To Last Week

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Good Riddance To Last Week

Last week’s emotional rollercoaster ride was far too intense. Glad it’s over.

In addition to the ever-present stressful dilemma of figuring out travel plans, my daughter was evacuated from her home in Kelowna. Thankfully she is back at home, albeit still on an alert.

I really need to stop following the news. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires….those are merely the natural disasters.

COVID-19. The Delta variant. The other variants. To mask or not to mask. To mandate vaccination in the workplace. This virus isn’t going anywhere in my lifetime. Traumatized children…..what is their destiny? I can only pray for my grandchildren.

Afghanistan. It was wrong to send troops there in the first place. Apparently nothing was learned from the fiasco in Vietnam. And now thousands of innocent people will die yet again.

The above song was released back in 1965. I guess not much has changed.

Always A Mom

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Always A Mom

I worked remotely from home decades before Covid arrived. I wanted to be with my kids when they spoke that first word and took that first step.

I was an active volunteer in their schools and also in their extracurricular activities. Akela of a Cub pack, music librarian for ASYC and organizer of buses for a YBC provincial bowling tournament were some of the more memorable times.

The time flew by and my daughter moved to Ontario and I moved to Mexico, leaving only my son behind in Winnipeg. Then I started dividing my time between Mexico and Washington and my daughter moved to Kelowna.

When Covid arrived in March of 2020, I was in Mexico and was interviewed by a Winnipeg Free Press reporter. One of the more pointed questions he asked was how I felt about my decision not to return to Canada although my family was there.

While I’ve enjoyed the last ten plus years of traveling and living in other countries, it is hard living far away from my kids, and it has been even more so during the pandemic.

I still feel the sadness when I phoned my son from Culiacan on his birthday in 2010. He turned thirty and it was the first time in his life I wasn’t with him on his birthday. Over the years, the pain lessens, but there’s always a tugging at the heartstrings.

I did come back for their university convocations and I went to Punta Cana for my daughter’s wedding. And I do go back to visit as neither of my kids come to Mexico or Washington. And I have a three-year-old granddaughter who thinks I live in a phone.

Earlier in the week my daughter was evacuated due to wildfires. Last night she told me that they are able to return home but they are still on alert. I always have a TO GO bag packed in my closet due to all the fires around here. But I felt so helpless when she called me the night they were evacuated as she hurriedly packed up my granddaughter and the three cats.

Texts and video calls are great. But what I want more than anything are REAL hugs, not virtual ones. That day can’t come soon enough for this mom.

I Don’t Usually

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I Don’t Usually

I don’t usually post on Mondays. But today is no ordinary Monday.

I got a phone call from my daughter in Kelowna late last night. She was calling from her car, crawling along a road where way too many people were fleeing fires. She had about an hour to pack up and get my granddaughter and the three cats into her car. Thankfully my son-in-law was there to help her. He is a helicopter pilot and has been spending his time fighting fires.

Two years ago I visited my daughter and admired the forested area across the street from her house. I’m not sure I feel the same way today. But they were able to get out safely and they do have a safe place to stay temporarily.

I thought 2020 was a bad year but 2021 is still in the competition. I feel like I should get some type of reward for successfully obtaining extended stays in two foreign countries during a pandemic. I’m trying to get back to Canada but it’s still a waiting game. I spoke to my attorney again this morning. I’m still exploring options.

My daughter works in an ICU and tells me it’s been necessary to open up a second unit because of all the Covid patients. ALL UNVACCINATED!!!!!! And she is scheduled to work tonight even with her own chaotic personal life at the moment.

As if COVID-19 and raging wildfires aren’t enough, now there are earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and tsunami warnings around the world. What’s next???

I saw this post on Facebook today and thought it most appropriate for today’s world.