Today is Wednesday and it’s moving day. This time it’s from Dryden to Peshastin. Will be pet sitting for a friend…a dog, a cat and fish.
I will still be on the river, but closer to Leavenworth than to Wenatchee. Temp will be a little cooler and a little more snow left on the ground although the rain the other day washed some of it away.
I saw this the other day.
I admit that this is something this free spirit rarely does. But I’ve started doing it this year. No, I don’t have paranoid friends, although I’ve accused them of this in the past. Maybe it’s approaching the almost seven decades of life. Maybe it’s Covid. Maybe it’s what’s going on in the Ukraine. But this year I have one contact in each of the three countries who always know where I am when I’m traveling.
I was contemplating a trip to Canada next week but have decided to put it on hold until May. The crazy and inconsistent regulations regarding Covid in Canada are raising my anxiety level, and I don’t need that when I can remain here in the USA and live a comfortable and relatively stress free life with a good deal more freedom.
Last week I was able to get a booster shot that had not been available to me in Mexico. While I was at Cascade Medical in Leavenworth, I realized how much at home I felt there. I’ve been there a handful of times in the past few years, yet I can no longer even envision the clinic I went to for so long all those years ago in Winnipeg.
I have friends who marvel at my lifestyle and I have friends who are very critical of it. In all honesty, sometimes I question it myself. But then I think of the amazing people I’ve met and the incredible adventures I’ve had and settling down in one place for a long period of time loses its appeal quickly.
So where’s home?
It’s true that I have called Aguascalientes home six months of the year for the past three years. But I don’t stay there all the time. It’s my home base for traveling elsewhere. Although it’s been more difficult traveling during Covid, this past winter I did get to Culiacan twice to see my Mexican family, celebrated Thanksgiving in Mazatlan, New Years in Jilotzingo and got to explore new places near CDMX and in the state of Hidalgo.
And it goes without saying that the other place I call home is Washington state. I have fond memories of my first visit in July of 2016. I came for two weeks and stayed for four months. The snow in mid November chased me back to Mazatlan. I have lived mainly in Leavenworth when I come to Washington, but that is going to change when I leave Peshastin next week.
Hint: Leaving Chelan County and moving to Douglas County.
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?
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.
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.
On January 1st I was in Jilotzingo. Not sure exactly what time I fell asleep after the New Years celebrations, but I do recall sleeping most of the day. Even the coffee refused to perform its magic to revive me.
On January 2nd Angie and I arrived at her home in Pachuca. After being with a house full of people all weekend, I really appreciated the tranquility, especially the garden.
Angie celebrated a birthday on the 4th.
On the 5th it was time for Rosca de Reyes.
I arrived back in Aguascalientes on the 7th.
While I was enjoying the beautiful sunny weather here in Mexico, it was a very different situation in Leavenworth, Washington. My quaint Bavarian village was labeled a disaster area as a snowfall of over four feet crippled the area. Mountain passes were closed and the National Guard was brought in to help dig out the town.
I’m so thankful I’m back in Mexico this winter. Last winter I stayed in Leavenworth due to Covid, and I can count the times I wore boots on one hand. Very different this year.
We were all eager to slam the door on 2021. Between global warming and the virus mutations, I wonder what’s in store for us this year. Only time will tell.
2021 is drawing to a close. A sigh of relief. Almost through year two of the pandemic. It appears that Covid and all of its mutations are here to stay. I wonder how different 2022 will be.
I was living in Wenatchee when 2021 arrived. It was my first winter in snow since 2009. While it was a relatively mild winter compared with the Canadian ones I’d experienced before, it was winter in a cold climate nonetheless.
This afternoon, seven of us enjoyed lunch together outside on the patio of an Italian restaurant. Now that feels more normal to me. With the exception of last year, outdoor dining in December has been the norm since I first arrived in Mexico in 2010.
In January I moved back to Leavenworth. There was more snow and the temperature was colder than in Wenatchee.
In February I was vaccinated and I began thinking about the future. I wasn’t ready to return to Mexico yet and the USA issued a Level 4 travel advisory against travel to Canada.
In March I retained an attorney and applied for an extended stay. I didn’t receive the confirmation that my stay had been approved until July. So I was in limbo for a while.
In April I had biometrics done at the USCIS Field Office in Yakima. Quite an interesting experience. But one step closer to getting that extended stay.
In May I moved to Dryden. It was peaceful living along the river, away from the hoards of tourists who continuously flock to Leavenworth.
The month of June flew by quickly as Amtrak became my new best friend. I traveled by train along the coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, visiting with friends in Portland and Sacramento along the way.
July and August were tense months. I was trying to figure out a way to get to Canada to see my kids and my granddaughter. Every day the rules changed with regards to travel restrictions. The Canadian airlines were gouging customers and I refused to pay quadruple the airfare I had paid before Covid. PCR tests were not available in small-town Washington.
In September I returned to Mexico for the same airfare I’d paid in years previously. No gouging here. No PCR test required. I was back home in Aguascalientes.
Considering that I’m not teaching or doing any volunteer work, I now find myself at more than halfway through my 180 days. The only traveling I’ve done was to Mazatlan for Thanksgiving and to Culiacan to see my family, as well as a day trip to San Jose de Gracia.
I will be with friends in Mexico City for New Years, and then on to Pechuca, Hidalgo. After that, who knows? What is certain is that the travel bug has returned, and that makes me happy.
The first time I went to this train museum was almost three years ago, before Covid. Situated within a lovely park, there was lots to explore, inside and outside.
This visit was very different. The musical dancing fountains were not dancing nor were they musical. The miniature train was not running through the park. And the large building that housed a sizeable museum filled with displays was being renovated.
We were able to view the inside of one building which previously was a ticket office and waiting area. So I was able to snag a few photos.
Outside we admired the statues.
And of course the train at the entrance.
Then off we went to a cafe for cafe olla and mollettes.
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. “
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…..