Tag Archives: Mazatlan

Facebook Memories

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Facebook Memories

Thank you Facebook for not only reminding me of my friends’ birthdays but also of reminding me of the different places where I have lived.

Apparently four years ago today I was at The Saloon in Mazatlan with friends doing this.

Today I’m in Aguascalientes sipping coffee instead of doing Jell-O shots.

Five years ago today I was still teaching and this was my classroom at Hotel Torres in Mazatlan. Most of my students were working in housekeeping or security at the hotel.

Today I’m retired and not teaching. Now I sip my coffee rather than gulp it.

But I’m really feeling nostalgic/homesick now. I spoke to my friend Debbie earlier today. She was shopping at Walmart in Wenatchee when I called, one of my favorite places. Then I found this pic from last summer in Cashmere.

I would certainly welcome some of that Washington rain today. 90s and sunny here in Aguascalientes. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had any rain.

Thanks for the memories Facebook!

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!

Leap Year

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Leap Year

I decided to take a break from COVID-19 and publish this post I’ve had sitting in draft form for almost a month.

Thank you Facebook for reminding me where I’ve been on February 29th in the past decade.

Today I am in Aguascalientes. Four years ago I was in Mazatlan. Eight years ago I was in Guadalajara.

But the most memorable February 29th of my life was back in 1984, long before Facebook was established.

I was eight months pregnant with Kimmy. I awoke that morning in incredible pain. Somehow I managed to drive Kyle to nursery school and then myself to the hospital.

Upon my arrival, hospital staff were smiling and reassuring me that giving birth a month early was no problem. I kept telling them that this pain was different from labor pain, but they admitted me and hooked me up to all the monitors.

That’s when the smiles disappeared and were replaced with frowns. I was right. Not in labor. A specialist arrived immediately and diagnosed torn ligaments in the uterus. Yet another hospital stay and more bed rest.

I was worried about Kyle. This wouldn’t be the first time I wasn’t there to pick him up from nursery school due to a hospital stay. It hadn’t been the greatest pregnancy and Kyle was such a trooper.

One month later on March 29th I arrived at the hospital and this time I was in labor. I’m glad Kimmy was born then and not on February 29th. I can’t imagine celebrating a birthday on the exact date only once every four years.

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….

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.

My Faves

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My Faves

I’ve traveled a fair amount in my years in Mexico. The culture and food vary greatly from area to area, as does the geography and climate. People often ask me about my favorite places and foods, so I’ve decided to write a post about some of my favorites.

Tlaquepaque is still in the lead. It is a quaint typically Mexican area only 20 minutes away from central Guadalajara. The Jardin Hidalgo, Calle independencia and Calle Juarez were my favorite haunts. Dia De Los Muertos is amazing. The best churros, rotisserie chicken and pizza are found here. The shops are quaint and ATMs are plentiful. But best of all, the locals are all friendly and there is always music in the air night and day. Uber and public transit are accessible, making commutes to Parque Mirador, Tonala, Zapopan, museums, art galleries and parks easy. Lots of day trips to smaller pueblos in Jalisco are most enjoyable.

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I’m about to begin my third month here in Aguascalientes. I live in Las Flores, a neighborhood adjacent to the Centro Historico. People are friendly and I have found a wonderful church two blocks from where I’m staying. The best gorditas are two streets over. My favorite coffee shop, Buenos Aires Cafe, is close by. The woman who runs it is from Argentina and the food she prepares is outstanding. The best omelets are at Loncheria Fer, run by my friend Fernando. Day trips to Leon, Zacatecas and the three magic towns are great. There are museums, art galleries and churches to explore.

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I spent two months this winter in San Ciro de Acosta in San Luis Potosi. This small town didn’t even have a bank. People are friendly and collectivos are available to Rio Verde, a larger town that even has two museums. Christmas celebrations in the plaza were most enjoyable. Day trips to other areas in the state as well as in Queretaro are best done by car, as buses and collectivos don’t go to many of them. I found the food very greasy as everything is fried. Finding fresh vegetables was difficult as beans, rice and tortillas were the norm to accompany the main course. I did find one place that made Chinese food, but it too was quite greasy and used frozen vegetables in their dishes.

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Culiacan is probably the most dangerous city I’ve lived in here in Mexico. It’s also home to the best tamales and incredible bakeries. I go back there often as my Mexican family live there. The first school I taught at in Mexico is also here, and occasionally I go back to visit. Culiacan has some lovely parks and the main cathedral is beautiful. I also explored art galleries and museums when I lived there.

I first went to Mazatlan in 2010 and dreamed of retiring there at some point. I moved there in 2015 when I was still teaching. But after three years, it was time to move on. The quaintness is gone and the city has become far too touristy for me. But Mazatlan has the best beaches and the most beautiful sunsets, and I’ve been to quite a few beach towns along the west coast. When I lived in Guadalajara I even preferred Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. Carnaval  is the third largest in the world. Fabulous concerts are found at the Angela Peralta Theater. Motorcycle Week and Semana Santa I can easily do without.

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I think my favorite park is Chapultepec in Mexico City. It boasts a castle, a zoo, botanical gardens, boats and more. The city itself is much too large for my liking, but it does have so much to offer in terms of art galleries and museums. The pyramids in Teotihuacan are awesome and are a must for visitors. My least favorite place in this city is definitely the airport which desperately needs more than a face lift.

I was very disappointed in Rosarito in the Baja. A few years ago I had planned on spending the winter there. After one week of a very dirty beach and warnings of not to go out after dark because of the high crime rate, I headed back to Tijuana, another not so great place, and then found my way back to Guadalajara.

I also lived in Irapuato, Guanajuato for a few months. This is another area I wasn’t too fond of. Day trips to Leon and Guanajuato City were good escapes. There really wasn’t much to do in this town. Even the Centro are was disappointing.

Let’s end this post on a positive note. A ride on El Chepe in the Copper Canyon is the train ride of a lifetime. The spectacular views made this quite the experience. I opted for a five day tour with overnight stays in four towns along the way. I actually hope to do this again someday.

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Mexico is one huge country and there is so much more I want to explore. My plan is to explore the Yucantan next winter. I also still want to go to Oaxaca, Chiapas, Morelia………the list is endless!

Adios 2018!

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Adios 2018!

The older we get the faster the time flies by. 2019 is fast approaching and promises to be another exciting fun-filled year with more amazing adventures. As I reflect on 2018,  I see a strengthening of several relationships as well as a fair amount of travel.

I rang in the New Year in Culiacan with my family. I returned to Mazatlan in January and soon got caught up in art walks, concerts, movies and luncheons.

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February is synonymous with Carnaval where parades and music abound. I also managed a quick weekend trip to Culiacan as there was an event at my grandson’s school. I took a day trip to with the Solo Snowbirds to El Qelite, a pueblos magico. But the true highlight of the month was the birth of my granddaughter, Madeline Annette, in Canada.

March was dominated with music and ballet performances. My friends Elly and Dwayne from Leavenworth were visiting Mazatlan and we had a delightful Sunday brunch together along with an afternoon by the pool at their hotel.

On April 1st, Easter dinner was at Al Chile with my friends Peggy, Delmar and Barry. Motorcycle Week roared in and I had a whirlwind trip to Culiacan to see my family before heading to Ontario. It was exciting to finally meet Maddie and my week with her flew by all too quickly.

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Then I was off to Toronto to spend time with Deborah, one of my best friends who also used to live in Winnipeg. On April 30th I was up in the air again on my way to Leavenworth via Seattle.

May was a busy month with activities at the Senior Center, SAIL classes, Church, book club and of course renewing the friendships I had made during the previous two summers I’d been in Leavenworth. The music and dancing at Maifest was most enjoyable. Laurel and I bravely hiked the difficult trails at Ohme Gardens as we had misread the signs. Knee replacements work!

Things got even busier in June as Linda and I prepared our classroom for VBS (Vacation Bible School.) Perfecting the crafts provided a bit of a challenge. Decorating the room was really a blast as well. The Accordion Festival in Leavenworth and Founders Day in Cashmere were held on the same weekend, and that made it rather hectic. I also started a course in memoir writing at the end of the month.

July 4th is synonymous with Kinderfest in Leavenworth. More preparing for VBS and then an amazing week with the kids at VBS, truly the highlight of my stay in Leavenworth. I also attended two performances of Leavenworth Summer Theater……Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. Christmas in July was held at Upper Valley Museum as well.

In August Ann and I did a whirlwind trip through the San Juan Islands and Whidbey Island. I attended another production of Leavenworth Summer Theater…Little Women. Next came Midsummer Night’s Dream in Wenatchee, Bell Ringers, and the Village Voices Picnic at Lions Park that was moved indoors due to the smoke.

September began with the County Fair in Cashmere where friends introduced me to funnel cake. I also went to Elder Speak at Snowy Owl. Ann and I took a day trip to Ellensburg and Cle Ulm. Wednesday night children’s ministry at LCN started again. I went to a children’s ministry workshop in Auburn and went to a meeting of the Autoimmune Society in Wenatchee. But the highlight of this month was the 9/11 ceremony held in Cashmere at Spirit of America.

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October was a bittersweet month. The leaves were in their glory but it was time for me to prepare to leave. Fond farewells filled the month and I was soon up in the air again headed for Guadalajara via L.A. I had a wonderful time revisiting San Pedro, an area I lived in for almost four years. It was nice to see old friends again, and to sit in the Jardin Hidalgo and stroll down Calle Independencia. Naturally I had to trek out to my favorite place via the Macrobus…..Parque Mirador.

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November was an interesting month. Day of the Dead in Tlaquepaque was spectacular. I enjoyed viewing the altars along Juarez as well as visiting the cemetery. Then I was off to Culiacan to spend a week with my family. My grandsons have all grown so much since I last saw them in April.

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Next I found myself on a bus headed for San Luis Potosi. I met Bonnie on a Facebook group and decided to check out San Ciro de Acosta. This pueblo is everything she said it would be and more. I had intended to stay for one month, but I am now into my second month. As well as exploring the town itself, I went out to Aquismon with Bonnie and her family for Thanksgiving.

In December I went out to Jalpan, Queratero for the day. This is another of the magical towns here in Mexico and it did not disappoint. I also discovered two museums in Rio Verde. I went with Bonnie up to the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe. There was a Christmas Posada at the Club de Leones and then on December 20th in the evening was the Migrant Parade. Mexicans returning home from working up north came ina caravan from Laredo. They tossed candies to the children and the locals brough tamales and atole to them in their vehicles. There was a huge Christmas posada in the plaza for the children that went on for hours. It began with the traditional procession through the town with Joseph and Mary seeking shelter and culminated with music, games and dancing for all the children. The fare for Christmas Eve was tostadas and ponche along with Christmas movies on Netflix. Connie and I also baked some cookies for the kids.

Adios 2018! It’s been another great year.

I wish all my readers a fantastic 2019 filled with love, peace and good health.

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Weekend in Mazatlan

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Weekend in Mazatlan

I arrived in Mazatlan bright and early Friday morning. TAP was not only on time but actually early. I prefer ETN but this trip the timing was better on TAP.

I’m staying with my friend Koren who happens to be an amazing caterer. She kept me well fed on Friday while adjusting to yet another time change and the scorching heat here in Mazatlan. I then ventured out for a walk around the neighborhood after a short nap.

Quite a few changes. New condos, new construction, new park……but I was delighted to see old friends Lance and Daniel. We sat around for a while catching up while watching a glorious sunset.

Saturday morning before it got too hot, I went out for my five mile walk in Centro. I passed by the mercado, the cathedral, Republica and Machado. I had conversations in Spanish with various vendors as well as with others seeking shade on park benches.

Tonight I’m meeting a friend for dinner on the malecon, where we will enjoy the sunset as we dine. Delmer is another Canadian and he and I taught together a couple of years ago here in Mazatlan.

A concert is happening at the park near my house and there are rumors of fireworks tonight as well.

Tomorrow Rotary is having an event at Zaragoza Park. Hard to believe it’s been three years since Steve was manning the barbecues at this annual event. The years are just zooming by way too quickly.

Monday morning I will be on a bus on my way to Culiacan and a whirlwind weekend in Mazatlan comes to a close.