I looked at the date on the calendar last night and wondered how come I have only two months left until I head back up north. The time is flying by way too fast. And the older I get the faster it goes.
I fly out of Guadalajara and will be back in East Wenatchee two months from today. Other than my trip to Culiacan, I haven’t done any other traveling this winter. I hope to go to Puerto Vallarta next month but that’s about it. I’ve focused on writing this winter and I’ve taken some courses online. So travel has pretty much been on the backburner this winter.
Tonight I’m doing a library program online from Washington. It’s about Mount St Helens 40 years after the blast. It should be interesting. And I’ll be participating in a Women’s study with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg for the next six weeks. Whatever did we do before we had Zoom?
I’m also going to be taking another psychology course but I haven’t registered for that one yet. I’m still trying to decide. There are so many available and they all appeal.
Duolingo……. I haven’t forgotten you either. I’ve actually come out of retirement and have referred you to a new student who is anxious to learn English. Such a fun place to learn a language!
But I do find time for friends too. I’m meeting a friend from Portland for lunch today. We haven’t seen each other since King’s Day and that was earlier in the month before I went to Culiacan.
My friend Ann in Leavenworth texted me a photo of the snow the other day. Quite a heavy blanket covered her car. Reports of two feet of snow. Chains needed to head over the mountain passes.
It’s very different here in Aguascalientes. Sunny and warm with temperatures hovering near 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It does cool off in the evenings. When I go out for my walks I need a light sweatshirt.
I was talking to David yesterday. It’s cold in Winnipeg. Temperatures are in the minus 20s Celsius. Not sure how to convert that. I’m still in American Fahrenheit mode.
My featured photo is one I took in Leavenworth two years ago when I spent a Covid winter there instead of returning to Mexico. I miss those gorgeous trees. That Bavarian village is a spectacular winter wonderland.
I remember my first December in Mexico back in 2010. I was living in Culiacan and it was extremely hot. My students didn’t like the air conditioning in my classroom and started wearing hats and gloves to class. I took the hint. Off went the air conditioning. The teacher got to roast so the students didn’t have to freeze. As soon as class was over I ripped off my uniform and changed into shorts and a tank top. I stopped at the first tienda and bought an ice cold Coke to put up against my cheeks to cool me down. It was much hotter in Culiacan than in Aguascalientes with temperatures soaring around the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark.
When I lived in Guadalajara the temperatures in winter were much cooler. Yes, there were nights when it dropped down to the freezing mark and we actually used the fireplace in our house. And I wore gloves and a hat. Atole was always welcome. And then there was one year when it actually got so warm that we had a thunderstorm on Christmas Eve.
I must say I enjoy seeing all my friends’ posts on Facebook with the photos and videos of snowfalls. They’re beautiful to look at from here in Mexico. But I sure don’t miss shoveling snow or driving in it. When I lived in rural Manitoba I rolled two cars off the highway due to black ice and totaled them both. I also do not miss the treacherously icy sidewalks.
So wherever you live, readers, be cautious and aware of inclement weather. Be prepared and stay safe.
I was sitting outside the other day enjoying the warm Washington sunshine and wondering why it is that I’m meant to be here. Have you ever done that? Wondered why you found yourself in a certain place or in a particular situation? I mean, you know how you physically got there, but it’s the why you came to be there that is so totally fascinating.
I vividly remember sitting in a bar one night in Guadalajara with my then boyfriend more than one decade younger, listening to a Mexican band playing music from the British invasion. As a teenager back in the 60s listening to the same music while living in Canada, never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself ever having this experience. It’s now several years later and I still wonder why I was meant to be there at that time, other than the obvious reason that I was teaching ESL in Guadalajara.
Just last month I was in Culiacan with my Mexican family. Although I am not Catholic, I always go to mass with them when I visit. My nine-year-old grandson did a reading and I was so very proud of him. The service was outdoors in the evening and I found myself distracted from the priest’s sermon by the stars twinkling above. It was as though they were smiling down at me and telling me that I was meant to be there and there was no need to even ponder the why.
I’m having great difficulty putting the finishing touches on this post as I have an Australian sheepdog and a cuddly cat vying for my attention. Thank goodness the fish are in their own tank. I wonder why I’m pet sitting in a home along the river in Peshastin, Washington aside from the obvious reasons that my friend needed a pet sitter and I needed somewhere to stay. Six years ago I’d never even heard of Peshastin, Washington.
I guess I’m always going to wonder why I’m meant to be where I am.
And that’s okay.
Because I have complete faith in The One who does know.
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.
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!
Three days until I leave. I’m actually very organized, other than the last minute stuff that just can’t be done beforehand.
I’ve been here for almost a year and am more than ready to head south except for the fact that I’ll be missing fall here. I won’t see the leaves in their fall splendor as they change color. The view along Highway 2 in Leavenworth is spectacular. I also won’t be able to meander through Cashmere admiring the glorious fall colors, especially my favorite red maple.
Wednesday will be a busy day and I won’t be posting. I fly from Wenatchee to Seattle to Los Angeles. Then on Thursday I fly to Guadalajara and grab a bus to Aguascalientes. I’ve done it before but that was before Covid. My masks are ready.
I said goodbye to my life group on Wednesday at a barbecue. Last night I had intended to bid farewell to my friends at the Senior Center, but the activity was canceled due to the rising number of Covid cases here in Chelan County. On Friday Joyce and I had spent the day together in Wenatchee and had one last lunch at Olive Garden. Joyce and I also taught our last fitness class together on Tuesday.
This afternoon Linda and I will have one last movie afternoon. We’ve been hibernating indoors on Sundays due to the smoke. Her husband Gene is an amazing chef and pampers us with a variety of tantalizing dishes.
There will be more goodbyes to more friends in the next couple of days. Each fall it gets harder to leave here as relationships grow. And I have been especially blessed this year as Debbie and Paul have provided me with a wonderful home for the last few months.
Although I am excited about a winter without snow again this year, I do look forward to returning to the mountains in the spring. This prairie girl will always be enamored by the beauty of the Cascades.
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.
Last weekend I celebrated another birthday. At this stage of the game, age is just a number. It does not dictate what you should or should not be doing. It also should not rule your life.
I live a very unconventional life. It’s never what I envisioned my life to be at this age. In fact, four years ago I was living a more conservative life. I was living and teaching in Mazatlan. I had been there for four years.
The fall of 2018 brought many changes. I flew from Seattle to Guadalajara, where I extended my stay to two weeks. Then it was off to Mazatlan for a long weekend. Next came a week in Culiacan with my family.
I wound up in San Ciro de Acosta and somehow extended that stay to just under three months. I then discovered Aguascalientes and stayed there for three months.
Covid curtailed my travels. Eleven months in Aguascalientes and eight months here in Washington state and the travel bug has hit. I’ve been vaccinated and things are opening up in America and this nomad will finally once again be on the move next weekend.
I get really mixed reactions from my friends. I have encouraging friends who say “Go for it! Live your dream!” Many of these friends envy what I’m doing as they aren’t able to.
And then there are the friends who say “I could never do what you’re doing. Isn’t it about time you settled down? You’re not getting any younger.”
EXACTLY! I’m not getting any younger! So while my health permits, I intend to keep traveling. There are so many amazing new people to meet and incredible new adventures to be had.
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.