Tag Archives: Culiacan

Thanks For The Memories

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Thanks For The Memories

Every day on Facebook I check out the Memories section. And I reflect on my life and all the different places I’ve been. I also can’t believe how fast the time has gone by and how much I’ve changed throughout the years.

Two years ago I was volunteering at Camp Heartbeat in Peshastin. It was the beginning of my annual children’s ministry experience at LCN.

Three years ago I was in Toronto visiting my friend Deborah. I recall long walks along the lake and the beautiful view of the water from her backyard.

Four years ago I was in Puerto Vallarta enjoying walks along the malecon and gazing out at the ocean from my lounger on the beach.

I found another memory where I was actually in Winnipeg at this time six years ago. That was a year before I discovered Leavenworth.

And then I found a memory from ten years ago. On my way back from a visit to my friend Rochelle in Los Angeles, I had stopped for some beach time in Mazatlan before returning to Culiacan.

Today I’m moving from Leavenworth to Dryden, a town about 10 minutes away. Not quite as exotic as other places I’ve been, but it will be a memory nonetheless to look back on one day.

Sunday

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Sunday

It’s Sunday again. If I were in Aguascalientes I’d be going to the small church around the corner. But that was a year ago, before Covid. This year I do church online. And that’s okay too. Yesterday’s rain has now turned to snow.

I think back to Sundays of other years. I spent a fair amount of time in bowling alleys with my kids. When the kids were grown my ex and I often went out for brunch with friends. When my marriage ended I taught aquatic classes on Sunday mornings.

And then I moved to Culiacan. Sundays were non- teaching days so parks and museums were on the agenda. When I lived in Irapuato I went to church with friends. When I lived in Guadalajara Isaias and I traveled to numerous small towns in Jalisco on the weekends. When I lived in Mazatlan I went to church and out for brunch with friends. Then I often walked along the malecon. In San Ciro there was only a Catholic church so I did more touristy things.

For the past few months I’ve added a blog post on Sundays. I write about my life, my thoughts and feelings. I often include photos. And I never really have an agenda of what I should write about next.

I’ve taken a break from working on my book. My imaginary friends aren’t speaking to me very much. When they do, it’s just nothing I want to run with. Instead I have found other things to occupy my time. There has to be more to life than Netflix.

A 500 piece puzzle dominates the dining room table, a Christmas gift from my friend Joyce. It’s been years since I’ve done a puzzle. This one is a scene from England complete with double decker buses.

I learned how to bait rodent traps this week. My friend Steve has a pest control business and I helped him out one afternoon. Apparently rats, mice and voles are quite active in Washington state.

I had my hair cut the other day. No more long hair. It’s now in a short bob. Thank you to Lisa at Shears here in Leavenworth. No need to travel to Wenatchee for a style anymore.

I actually did go into Wenatchee yesterday with Ann. Walmart and Macy’s. I also had a lovely long walk. 50 degrees and sunshine in February. Very different from the brutal winters on the Canadian prairies.

Yes. I still play Candy Crush. But I play Candy Crush Friends now, not Candy Crush saga. I also play word games.

I still color. I’m enjoying the Thomas Kinkade coloring book. I’m learning how to blend colors with pencils and water now, although I still adore my gel pens.

Google Duo has become a good friend. Video calls with my grandkids are treasures, although I hope that someday virtual hugs and kisses will be replaced by in-person ones.

I read a lot too. It’s nice to have a library close by with books written in  English. Although the library is closed, curbside pickup is available for books reserved on-line.

Another good friend is Duolingo. I don’t want to forget my Spanish as I do intend to return to Mexico when it is safe to travel again. Oh how I miss traveling!

Time to tune in to Church of the Rock in Winnipeg.

Happy Sunday!

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?

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!

April Then And Now

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April Then And Now

A year ago I was in Culiacán with my family. I always come for one last visit before heading back up north for a few months.

The last time I was in Culiacán this winter was in December. I promised my grandsons I’d be back again in April.

I hate to break a promise. But with the self-quarantine in place until April 30th there is no way I’ll be able to keep that promise. Right now Culiacán feels as far away as Leavenworth.

I try to view it in a more positive way. Obviously my departure from Mexico will be delayed this year. Where my destination will be is also up in the air. I guess I won’t know that for a while either. I may get to Culiacán yet.

Food Glorious Food

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Food Glorious Food

I seldom write about food. I have mentioned traditional foods associated with holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Years ago I wrote posts about the cooking classes I took in Mazatlan. I may have also referred to the odd restaurant here and there.

Food in Mexico varies in nature from place to place. A torta is very different in Guadalajara from a torta in Mazatlan. My vote for the best tamales still goes to Culiacán. Gorditas in San Luis Potosí are not as tasty as the ones in Aguascalientes. So far Mazatlan is winning when it comes to sopa de tortilla. Hands down the best pizza is in Tlaquepaque.

I will begin by writing about the Cocinas Economicas I frequent here in Las Flores. These are basically places where you buy prepared foods. There is always a variety of cooked food available and the menu changes daily. One that I go to has tables and you can eat there. I did that often last year when I didn’t have a fridge or microwave. 55 pesos buys you soup, a main course, two sides, salad, a generous portion of agua fresca and of course, tortillas. This translates to US $2.91.

Yesterday I picked up chicken milanesa (3 large portions), chicken stew, beef stew, California style mixed veggies, salad, spaghetti, 3 chili rillenos and vegetable soup. Yes, that will easily feed me for the week. Total cost 265 pesos or US $14.04.

All ingredients are fresh. There is not a can or a frozen product used in the preparation of these foods.

Needless to say I do eat out as well. Because I am allergic to fish and seafood, I am unable to give you an idea of the cost.

A cheeseburger with fries and a soda averages 85 pesos or US $4.50. A large pizza averages 110 pesos or US $5.83. A quesadilla averages 25 pesos or US $1.32. I could go on and on but you get the picture. It is inexpensive to eat out.

I must admit that in the morning I prefer to have yogurt and granola for breakfast. But I do go out occasionally for gorditas.

Chicken rosticerias are high on my list as well. I picked up a whole roasted chicken for 70 pesos the other day or US $3.70. In the grocery section Walmart sells a half of a roasted chicken with salad for 35 pesos or US $1.85.

A friend who owned a cafe last year also cooks for me often. A delicious home-cooked meal is delivered to my door for 60 pesos or US $ 3.19.

Food prices vary from place to place as well. When I lived in Mazatlan I found the cost of food to be almost double, but it is a big tourist area. When I lived in Guadalajara the cost was about the same as here. In San Luis Potosí It was lower.

Wherever I have lived the fruit and vegetables have been fresher and cheaper than in Canada or the USA. What better way than to start your day off with a half litre of fresh squeezed orange juice for 20 pesos or just over US $1?

Many restaurants deliver and there is also the option of Uber Eats. But I have yet to use these services.

Now if only I could find some moussaka here in Aguascalientes….

Food Glorious Food

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Food Glorious Food

I seldom write about food. I have mentioned traditional foods associated with holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Years ago I wrote posts about the cooking classes I took in Mazatlan. I may have also referred to the odd restaurant here and there.

Food in Mexico varies in nature from place to place. A torta is very different in Guadalajara from a torta in Mazatlan. My vote for the best tamales still goes to Culiacán. Gorditas in San Luis Potosí are not as tasty as the ones in Aguascalientes. So far Mazatlan is winning when it comes to sopa de tortilla. Hands down the best pizza is in Tlaquepaque.

I will begin by writing about the Cocinas Economicas I frequent here in Las Flores. These are basically places where you buy prepared foods. There is always a variety of cooked food available and the menu changes daily. One that I go to has tables and you can eat there. I did that often last year when I didn’t have a fridge or microwave. 55 pesos buys you soup, a main course, two sides, salad, a generous portion of agua fresca and of course, tortillas. This translates to US $2.91.

Yesterday I picked up chicken milanesa (3 large portions), chicken stew, beef stew, California style mixed veggies, salad, spaghetti, 3 chili rillenos and vegetable soup. Yes, that will easily feed me for the week. Total cost 265 pesos or US $14.04.

All ingredients are fresh. There is not a can or a frozen product used in the preparation of these foods.

Needless to say I do eat out as well. Because I am allergic to fish and seafood, I am unable to give you an idea of the cost.

A cheeseburger with fries and a soda averages 85 pesos or US $4.50. A large pizza averages 110 pesos or US $5.83. A quesadilla averages 25 pesos or US $1.32. I could go on and on but you get the picture. It is inexpensive to eat out.

I must admit that in the morning I prefer to have yogurt and granola for breakfast. But I do go out occasionally for gorditas.

Chicken rosticerias are high on my list as well. I picked up a whole roasted chicken for 70 pesos the other day or US $3.70. In the grocery section Walmart sells a half of a roasted chicken with salad for 35 pesos or US $1.85.

A friend who owned a cafe last year also cooks for me often. A delicious home-cooked meal is delivered to my door for 60 pesos or US $ 3.19.

Food prices vary from place to place as well. When I lived in Mazatlan I found the cost of food to be almost double, but it is a big tourist area. When I lived in Guadalajara the cost was about the same as here. In San Luis Potosí It was lower.

Wherever I have lived the fruit and vegetables have been fresher and cheaper than in Canada or the USA. What better way than to start your day off with a half litre of fresh squeezed orange juice for 20 pesos or just over US $1?

Many restaurants deliver and there is also the option of Uber Eats. But I have yet to use these services.

Now if only I could find some moussaka here in Aguascalientes….

Adiós 2019 Bienvenida 2020

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Adiós 2019 Bienvenida 2020

I was in San Ciro de Acosta, San Luis Potosí when this year began. About two weeks later I traveled to Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes.

A frenzy of visiting fourteen museums, countless churches and beautiful parks followed. I also went leather shopping in León, Guanajuato and visited the pueblo mágico of Calvillo.

Three months flew by and I found myself on a flight to Seattle from Puerto Vallarta. And shortly after I arrived in Leavenworth.

The months I spend in Washington state are filled with activity. I volunteer at church, teach fitness classes, belong to a book club, play bridge and am active at the senior center. But of most importance are the friendships I’ve made over the years and the time I spend with these special people.

This past summer I also took a side trip to Kelowna to see my granddaughter. Madeline was just a few weeks old the last time I saw her and at 17 months she was now an active toddler.

Other highlights of my time in Washington included Vacation Bible School at Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene, as well as attending the 9/11 service at Spirit of America in Cashmere.

All too soon fall arrived and I boarded a flight to Guadalajara. A short bus ride followed and I was back in Aguascalientes City.

I’m staying in the Las Flores area again. Last winter I found a church close by and it felt like returning home this winter. I truly am blessed to have a church family here in Mexico as well as in Leavenworth.

This winter has been very different. I am not running around playing tourist. I’m taking time for ME instead. I do have friends here and I am teaching English a few hours a week. But I find time to color and to go for long walks. I am really focusing on my Spanish language skills. Because I live in a very Mexican neighborhood where virtually no-one else speaks English, I am totally immersed both in the culture and in the Spanish language. I also watch movies in Spanish with no English subtitles.

Other than one trip to Culiacán, I haven’t traveled much this winter. However I do have some travel ideas for 2020.

I spent Christmas with friends and will be attending an event at my church on New Year’s Eve.

This is my last post for 2019. At this time I’d like to thank all my readers for taking the time to follow my blog posts. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2020. May it be another fabulous year for everyone!

Farewell To Another Decade

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Farewell To Another Decade

It’s pouring rain here in Aguascalientes and unseasonably low temperatures have graced us. It’s a good day to sip herbal tea and to watch movies. And to write a blog post.

New Year’s Eve 2009 was when I rang in the second decade of the millenium. At the time I was with friends from church and living in Winnipeg.

In 2010 I was on a tour up in the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. I rang in the new year in El Fuerte with friends. We had dinner at the hotel where Zorro was filmed. Zorro himself appeared at our table just before the fireworks began at midnight.

I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with numerous friends from all over the world every year since then. I’ve been in Culiacán, Guadalajara, México City, Mazatlan and San Ciro. This year I will be in Aguascalientes to welcome the year 2020.

The past decade has been one of the most exciting times in my life. “Growth” has been the key word in describing my experience. I embarked in a new career in a foreign country. I learned a new language and assimilated into a different culture. I’ve celebrated holidays with new friends from all over the world.

I’ve lived in and explored amazing areas in Mexico that I’d never even heard of before. I went on an amazing train trip in the Copper Canyon, I climbed pyramids in central Mexico and I walked barefoot in the sand on numerous beaches along the Pacific coast. I’ve visited several magic towns and have enjoyed the local cuisine in most places, menudo aside.

Mexicans marvel at the fact that I am a single female and travel solo at my age, especially when I settle down for a while in a new place. I thrive on exploring new places and meeting new people. I have friends of all ages and backgrounds. I have a family in Culiacán who have adopted me and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons.

And just when I thought that Mexico was absolutely “it”, I discovered Leavenworth. This quaint Bavarian village has captured my heart. I’ve made good friends and we’ve shared some great adventures together.

All of these experiences have contributed to my growth. At this point in time I am really living life to the fullest.

Farewell to the second decade of this millennium. Welcome to the third decade. Can’t wait to find out what comes next!!!!

How Do You Do It? Part 1

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How Do You Do It? Part 1

I am in my tenth year here in Mexico. No two years have beared much resemblance to each other. I’ve lived in different cities and different homes with different people. I’ve worked in different schools and taught different subjects.

My friends up north are always asking me how I do this. How do you decide where to go? How do you find somewhere to live? How do you find teaching jobs? They also ask a myriad of other questions but I’ll focus on these three in these posts.

It was a Tuesday evening when my phone rang in Winnipeg. The caller was the director of English at a private school in Mexico. He wanted to know if I was available to teach in Mexico. The start date was the following Monday.

By some miracle and with the help of good friends, my apartment was packed up and the contents moved to a storage unit. My son made the travel arrangements for me. And less than a week later I found myself in Culiacán. The school arranged my accommodation.

Dave’s ESL Cafe was a popular website at that time for teachers and employers alike. I had posted a resume there and that was how the school in Culiacán had found me.

The school year ended and I found myself back in Winnipeg. I had totally forgotten about the resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe. Until my phone rang and it was a director of English at a private school in Irapuato. I thanked him for calling and explained that teaching in Mexico had been a one year plan. He offered to pay my flight down there. I accepted.

I wasn’t impressed with Irapuato or the school. The actual job in no way resembled the job description that had been outlined in the original contract. I decided that I would tough it out until Christmas.

I was out for coffee with my supervisor on October 1st when my phone rang. The caller was not in my contacts so I disregarded it and turned the ringer off. When I got home a few hours later I saw that the same number had called me four more times. I thought that maybe someone was urgently tried to call the person who previously had my number. And I called the number back to let them know they had a wrong number.

To my surprise the voice that answered asked, “Karen, is that you?” Going through an ugly divorce at the time, I was immediately suspicious. However the caller identified himself as the owner of a school in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. He had seen my resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe ( once again I had neglected to remove it) and offered me a job. It was around five in the afternoon on a Saturday. He needed me in Guadalajara Monday morning.

The next few hours were hectic as I hurriedly packed up my belongings. The following morning I was on a bus headed for Guadalajara. Once again the school arranged my accommodation.

I also found myself teaching business English that year. A friend from Norway needed a substitute while she went home for a visit. Her boss was impressed with me and offered me a job. So that winter I taught for him as well as at the other school.

Shortly before I headed back to Winnipeg for knee surgery the following spring, I was in a bar where I met a man who owned another school in Tlaquepaque. I accepted his job offer when I returned to Mexico after my surgery. He also managed properties and found me accommodation.

But I only taught there a couple of months. Parents were using his school as cheap babysitting for their kids, and it was far too frustrating trying to teach kids who hadn’t the slightest interest in learning English. But I did continue to stay in the accommodation he had offered me when I taught at his school.

Meanwhile, another friend had taught at yet another school but left to teach English on-line. The owner of the school called me with a job offer and I accepted.

I then received a call from the man whom I’d taught business English for, so once again I found myself with two jobs.

In the spring I was visiting with my family in Culiacán before going back to Winnipeg for a vacation. I got a call from the owner of a school in Mazatlan. Apparently we had a mutual friend on Facebook who told her I was an English teacher.

After my Winnipeg visit I found myself in Mazatlan where once again the school had found me accommodation. I only taught there a few months. I had met the owner of another school at Starbucks one day and had accepted his job offer. I also moved in with another friend at that time.

Unfortunately that school folded. And I decided that I was going to semi-retire and teach private students only. I also moved again and was delighted to find private students right in my condominium complex.

My last year in Mazatlan I completely retired. I moved again. Once you’re in a place long enough, you meet people and it’s quite easy to find affordable accommodation.

That’s all for this post. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll talk about life in San Luis Potosí and Aguascalientes.