Tag Archives: friends

Half Time

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Half Time

I just crossed the border at Nogales. What do you mean I’ve been back in the USA for three months already?

That got me thinking about all the changes since I first arrived in Leavenworth in July of 2016. I’ve always lived primarily in Leavenworth but I’m now living in East Wenatchee. But I still commute to Leavenworth to teach fitness classes.

Covid caused a lot of changes. The Senior Center in Leavenworth has yet to reopen. I went there often for lunch and I also volunteered in the kitchen. I played bridge there and went to craft afternoons.

Covid also affected the library programs which all switched over to Zoom. The rumor is that in person programs are starting again next month. And I am looking forward to those, including book club, craft programs and speakers.

I now attend a church in Wenatchee and have a new life group as well. It’s a much larger church than the one I used to go to in Leavenworth. It’s also a Free Methodist rather than a Nazarene church.

My attorney has told me he’s retiring at the end of the year and my doctor has told me she’s moving on to a different clinic. More changes.

Over the years I’ve met a lot of people and have developed close relationships with many who I now consider as part of my extended family. Friendships are especially important to me considering my nomadic lifestyle. And those constantly change depending upon where I happen to be living. But my extended family changes very little.

There are constants in my life here as well. This is my sixth year teaching fitness classes in the SAIL program. Next month I’ll be taking training in A Matter Of Balance. But more about that in a future blog post devoted to the program.

Another constant is the beauty of the mountains. I am as much in awe of it today as when I first came here six years. This is truly God’s country!

What We Do

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What We Do

Today is May 1st. Today marks two months since I arrived back in the USA. Then why does it feel like I just got here? And what have I been so busy doing? I think it’s called Life or Living. I’ve had my fill of traveling for a while after my trip to Seattle via Tucson and Los Angeles after leaving Mexico. And then there were the five moves until I settled down in East Wenatchee.

Last night I was talking to a friend in Toronto who is off to Bali in a few weeks. She isn’t looking forward to the 32 hours of travel time and the cost of flights is astronomical post Covid. But this has been her dream for quite some time now and I’m glad that she is finally doing it.

I was talking to another friend in Toronto earlier in the week. She is a travel guide and is happy that business is starting to pick up post Covid despite the escalating cost of travel.

I have a friend I met in Guadalajara a few years ago who is on a mission to check out every major league stadium in the USA as well as other historical areas throughout the country. Recently he has traveled throughout Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.

I have other friends traveling through Central and South America right now. Several friends are still in Mexico and are on the move there as well, both within the country as well as those snowbirds who are returning home.

On a sad note, the USA just issued advisories against travel to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. I wonder what the situation will be like in the fall. Those cities have my two favorite airports in Mexico.

Okay. I admit it. I’ve been in East Wenatchee for over a month now and haven’t even made it out to Lake Chelan yet. The only commutes have been to Cashmere and Leavenworth. But I am beginning to think about traveling again. My eyes are set on Winnipeg in June.

But first I have to get through May. Fitness classes, library programs, plays, fitness training, medical appointments, a consult with my attorney, writers’ group, church, art and research regarding a character in my WIP. My visual voicemail still isn’t working and I haven’t even found time to go to AT&T yet. I’m staring at library books I checked out three weeks ago and still haven’t read.

I did find time to go shopping the other day to buy a much needed pair of New Balance. I discarded a pair in Mexico and the ones I brought with me are falling apart. I live in New Balance and sandals, and do not even own a pair of ‘shoe’ shoes.

But paramount is the time I spend with my friends here. This is my seventh year here, and although I only come for six months, I am blessed with more than a few close friends who I view as family.

I also keep in touch with friends by phone and Facebook. Many go back more than twenty or thirty years and a couple more than fifty. The older I get, the more important these friendships become.

This is what I do.

What do you do?

All About Me

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All About Me

I’ve written hundreds of blogs posts but have never done an “All About Me” post. I’m not sure just why I haven’t, but a friend called me on it the other day. So here goes.

I go by a variety of different names depending on which country I’m in or which website I’m on. I prefer to just stick to “Karen.” Here in Washington my friends have me in their contacts as “Karen Mexico” or “Karen Canada.”

I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and lived there all my life until 2010. My son still lives there. My daughter and my four year old granddaughter live in Canada as well, in Kelowna, B.C.

In 2010 I went to Culiacan, Mexico to teach English. A family there adopted me and I am now abuelita to four nietos ranging in age from three to twelve years old.

After a year in Culiacan, I taught briefly in Irapuato before settling down in Guadalajara for four years. I called Mazatlan home for just over three years and then decided to explore more of central Mexico. After three months in San Ciro de Acosta I discovered Aguascalientes, which has been my Mexican home six months of the year since 2019.

In 2016 a friend I met in Mazatlan invited me to come visit him in Leavenworth, Washington. My two week visit turned into four months when the snow chased me back to Mexico. And that was when I turned into a snowbird, spending the other six months of the year in Washington state.

While there, I’ve lived mainly in Leavenworth with short stints in other towns. This year I’m living in East Wenatchee with my friends Christina and Danny, who tell me that this is now my “forever home.”

As far as teaching goes, I officially retired in 2016, although I had worked extremely very part-time since 2012. Occasionally I selectively take on private students, but have not taught at all since Covid arrived.

This is my sixth year as a volunteer in the SAIL program in Leavenworth where I teach fitness classes to seniors that geared towards fall prevention. Both church ministry and volunteering at the senior center ground to a halt during Covid and are just now starting up again.

I enjoy traveling both in Mexico and the USA. Last summer I took an Amtrak along the coast from Seattle to L.A. I loved it and can’t wait to plan another train trip.

I’m taking a break from Duolingo but I have my gel pens, pastels and water colors to amuse me. And I have been doing a lot of writing lately. Fiction is a new genre for me which I am enjoying immensely.

I am especially blessed to have family and a wide circle of friends in three countries. The time always fly by all too quickly before I find myself once again packing a suitcase. My days are filled with adventure and making memories.

Other trivia……I’m a Gemini, my favorite color is green, I’m a chocoholic as well as a coffeeholic and I love country music.

All About Me

It’s That Time Again

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It’s That Time Again

Spring. Primavera. And the nomad is on the move again. I usually fly up north from either Aguascalientes, Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan. This year was different. I took a bus across the border at Nogales. I don’t have a bucket list, but if you read my last blog post, you know that for some strange reason I’ve always wanted to go there.

I hate saying goodbye to people. You think I’d be used to it by now. But I’m not. I’ve been wandering around for the last twelve plus years. I’ve lived in numerous places in Mexico and the USA. And I’ve added to my extended family.

When I wrote this post, I was in Tucson, Arizona. I had hoped to plop down there for a month and just work on my book. But that isn’t going to happen. And that’s okay. One of the habits I’ve formed in the lifestyle I lead is always having a Plan B or Plan C all the way to Plan Z.

Whatever direction I wind up going, I’m comfortable with it. Why? Because there are always new people to meet and new places to see. So although it’s often difficult to move on, new adventures always lie ahead. And I continue to grow.

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.

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!

Voodoo Lounge And Pozole

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Voodoo Lounge And Pozole

As I write this I’m eating a bowl of pozole and listening to Voodoo Lounge. They don’t go together? In my world they do. I know I’m in Mexico because it’s pozole. And I’ve been a fan of The Rolling Stones  for decades.

But as I listen to The Rolling Stones I’m magically beamed back to a hot August night in 1994 mildly buzzed as the smell of pot wafts through the stands of the old Winnipeg stadium. Down below Mick Jagger is strutting his stuff across the stage just as he did back in the 60s when I was a teenager.

Amazing how music can make you travel back in time like it was just yesterday.

So how is your 2022 going? I actually am beginning to wonder why we were all so eager to slam the door on 2021.

With the advent of Omni, I find myself no closer to going back to Canada than I did last year. I have way too many friends now struggling with family crises. I’ve had a few small blips on the radar screen myself this month.

But, ever the optimist, I’m looking forward to the future. February will be a bittersweet month as it’s countdown time until I head up north. It kind of feels like 2020 again when I didn’t know where I was going or how I was getting there.

My playlist for meditation time today will include Matt Redman and Josh Groban in addition to the usual Pachelbel. Lots to contemplate. Lots of people in my life who need prayer.

It’s all about FAITH.

This And That

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This And That

Wednesday, Hump Day and January is more than half over. This week is shaping up to be a lot better than last weekend was.

I watched the two Mamma Mia movies, in Spanish of course. I love the music. The one time I saw Mamma Mia live was at the Concert Hall in Winnipeg. My daughter was with me and I recall that she introduced me to steamers during intermission.

I’ve been in writing mode and my character in crisis is finally settling down. This means less tears for me and a much improved mood. Can’t wait to head up north in March and get my hands on a laptop. I love my tablet, but it isn’t the greatest for writing.

Despite the fact that schools are closed here, it’s been quiet at the park. I enjoy the quiet as I can focus more on my Spanish grammar. I’m consolidating three notebooks I’ve compiled over the years into one and want to make sure I don’t leave out anything.

Sharon and I went out for lunch yesterday and I was delighted to find some decent pizza. However nothing compares with the woodfired pizza in Tlaquepaque. That was the best!

Speaking of Tlaquepaque, I’m planning on heading there next month to visit with friends. Other than the airport, it’s been three years since I’ve spent any time there.

Thanks to social media, this has also been the week of reconnecting with friends who I lived with over the years here in Mexico. They’re now in Bali, Australia, Texas and Maine.

My friend who makes the most amazing empenadas is in Tulum and I’m going through withdrawal. Hope she gets back soon.

Time to put on some 80s music and dive back into my writing.

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

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….