Tag Archives: Mexico

Diana’s Story

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Diana’s Story

I first met Diana in Aquismon on Thanksgiving Day in November. Six years old with a bright smile, she charmed all of us. A few days later, she moved to San Ciro de Acosta and my friend Bonnie became her new mother. Diana’s mother had abandoned her shortly after she gave birth and Diana had been living with her grandmother.

I first met Bonnie in a Facebook group back in November. I was looking for a small non-expat town where I could focus both on my writing and on my Spanish. Bonnie is from Texas and had married a Mexican and moved to San Ciro. Her mother Connie had moved to San Ciro a couple of months before I arrived.

I was curious as to why Bonnie and Ricky were so eager to adopt a child. Both have children and grandchildren from previous marriages. While Ricky’s family are here in Mexico, Bonnie had left all of her family behind in Texas. In addition, Bonnie’s daughter had died at the young age of 28 only 3 years before. To quote Bonnie, “I was left with an empty feeling. I was very lonely and I’ve always loved kids. When I saw how many kids really needed homes, I really became interested in adopting.”

They spoke with staff at DIF and learned that adoption is a difficult and long process here in Mexico. Ricky thought that maybe someone might give them their baby if they could not afford to feed and clothe another child. Months went by and they had resigned themselves to the fact that if it was God’s will an opportunity might arise.

And an opportunity did arise unexpectedly when they hired a boat guide one day. They had taken one of the neighbor’s children on their excursion that day. Mr. Martinez saw how they interacted and asked if Luis was their only child, Bonnie jokingly told him that Luis wasn’t their child, but that they were looking to adopt. He told them that his sister was raising her granddaughter and was looking for a home for her. Phone numbers were exchanged. Mr. Martinez invited them over for dinner. A friendship developed and the families began to see each other regularly. However no word was ever spoken about the child.

We were eating dinner on Thanksgiving Day when Bonnie and Ricky were asked if they’d like to meet Diana. After dinner, Bonnie and Ricky went to Mr. Martinez’s sister’s home and a couple of hours later they returned with Diana and her grandmother. Apparently Diana had already told her teacher that she was moving far away.

Bonnie and Ricky wanted to make sure that everything was done legally. Four days later they returned to Aquismon to pick up Diana. They consulted with a lawyer in Aquismon who drew up documents granting them full custody and guardianship. These papers were signed by Bonnie, Ricky, the grandmother and Mr. Martinez.

Adoption is complicated here. Had they gone that route, the process would have taken two years or more and Diana would be placed in an orphanage for that time period. As it stands, they are not allowed to take Diana out of the country. They also opted not to change her name as that would have added an additional 50,000 pesos to the legal fees already incurred.

The next step was to enrol Diana in a public school. Registration was 480 pesos and fees for the uniforms were another 2000 pesos. They also had to pay 80 pesos for breakfast fees although the school has yet to provide any food in this program. Students are expected to be immaculately groomed and in full uniform. Points are deducted from their grades if they are not.

The school itself has no heat or air conditioning. Parents must purchase all supplies, including toilet paper. Parents take turns cleaning the classrooms. They are also responsible for setting out cones to control traffic before and after school.

Parents are also expected to bring lunch to the children each day. Bonnie hands Diana her lunch through the bars as parents are not allowed on the campus. There are no chairs or tables and the children eat their lunch standing up outside in the courtyard.

Diana is adjusting remarkably well to her new life. She is learning to play and be a child instead of working in the sugar cane fields after school. She has made friends and eagerly shares her new toys and dolls with them. She has been introduced to swimming and indoor plumbing. Her diet now includes a variety of healthy foods in addition to the rice and beans she was accustomed to.

Most importantly, Diana is basking in the glow of all the love that Bonnie and Ricky have to offer. And I feel blessed that I have been a part of their lives and have shared in this amazing experience.

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Who Am I?

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Who Am I?

I’ll be honest. I’m still trying to find myself. Yes, I know that this expression is decades old. But so am I, and I still crave adventure and who knows what else. I have been so many different people throughout the years. Baby to child to teenager to adult to wife to mother to name just a few. Babysitter to bookkeeper to manager to business owner to counselor to social worker to motivational consultant to teacher to writer to fitness instructor to name just a few. But who am I really?

Many followers of my blog know me personally. However there are others from around the world who read my posts and have never met me in person. So this post is dedicated to you. Here is a glimpse of who I am as I travel through this journey of life in an attempt to find myself.

My name is Karen and I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Winnipeg is the capital city of the province and is smack dab in the middle of the prairies. It is infamous for the brutal winters and has justly earned the nickname of “Winterpeg.” Other than a brief few years in Oak Bluff, Manitoba I lived in Winnipeg all my life until November of 2010.

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I still vividly recall the day I left. First stop was Grace Hospital to say goodbye to my daughter, who was a nurse there at the time. From there my son took me to the airport where another tearful goodbye transpired. I was on my way to my first ESL teaching job in Mexico. I had never been apart from my children for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and this was going to be a ten month separation. I cried all the way to Minneapolis and my first layover on the journey to Culiacan. And I must admit that I am still tearful as I don’t see my children often enough. I love them, I am so very proud of all their accomplishments and I miss them terribly. But we are all adults and we all have our own lives to lead. 

I returned to Winnipeg in July of 2011 and halfheartedly began looking around for a job and a place to live. I also had legal issues to deal with as my divorce decree was nowhere in sight although the marriage had ended in January of 2009. And then I received the phone call.

Are you interested in coming back to Mexico? We have a job opening in our private school here in Irapuato. Really? Hmmmm, teaching in Mexico was to be a one year plan. But the Skype interview went well and a couple of weeks later I was on my way back to Mexico.

It is now February of 2018. And I have retired from teaching. I’m into my third year here in Mazatlan after a few years in Guadalajara. I have also discovered a new summer home in Leavenworth, Washington where I lead an active life including a fair amount of volunteer work. Yes, summer home. Mazatlan is far too hot in the summer.

I have published two self-help books. “When Glad Becomes Sad” deals with depression and anxiety. “Alive Again” deals with separation and divorce. I am currently working on a book of fiction and enjoying writing it immensely. I have contributed articles to books published by other authors, and hope to publish more of my own poems and short stories in the future.

When I’m not writing, my favorite pastime here in Mexico is attending music and dance performances. I enjoy traveling and meeting new people. I belong to a Red Hat group and I play Hand and Foot regularly. I spend hours walking along the malecon. I love the ocean. That is what influenced my decision to leave Guadalajara. I like to watch movies and am hopelessly addicted to Candy Crush. I also take hundreds of pictures with my smart phone. And I have more recently begun volunteering at a Christian mission. And as an aside to my friends in Leavenworth, yes I am still coloring.

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I am forever indebted to former Tlaquepaque housemates Omar and Sean who encouraged me to begin writing a blog on WordPress. And I am flattered that so many people take the time to read my posts. And I now have the time to read other writers’ blogs.

Now that I am retired, my focus will be on my writing, especially my current work in progress.  I have no idea what my next post will be about. I hadn’t anticipated this one until the words began to flow. So we’ll all be in suspense until the next one.

Saturdays Then and Now

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Saturdays Then and Now

Do you remember back when you were a kid………..Saturday morning cartoons! Somehow it was easy to get up on Saturdays when you weren’t trudging off to school. My favorite was, and still is, Beep Beep The Roadrunner.

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As a teenager, Saturdays were spent hanging out downtown with my friends. We’d take a bus to Eaton’s and meet at the statue. That was THE popular place to meet in Winnipeg. We’d check out clothes and makeup and then snack on fries and Coke in the Valley Room or over at Hudson’s Bay (as it was called back then) in The Paddlewheel.

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In the early years of marriage before kids, Saturdays were spent shopping for groceries and other items we never had time for during the week as we both worked. Stores and parking lots were always so crowded. I much preferred doing my shopping during the week, even with kids in tow.

Once the kids came along, Saturdays took on a new meaning of hectic. I was busy chauffeuring them to activities such as ballet, bowling, music lessons and birthday parties. When the kids grew up and began to drive themselves around, Saturdays became my own again.

Saturday mornings meant garage sales, flea markets and auctions hunting for treasures for my Ebay business. I became quite familiar with the small towns surrounding Winnipeg. But my Ebay business ended when my marriage ended. I lost my storage room, shipping room and supplies and moved into a cramped one bedroom apartment.

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That then gave me the opportunity to teach Aquafit classes at the YMCA on Saturday mornings. I enjoyed this and often went out for lunch with friends afterwards. The afternoons were often spent studying as I was now back at University earning more letters after my name.

When I first came to Mexico, Saturdays were days of exploration as I taught full-time during the week. When I moved to Guadalajara I began teaching in language institutes where I quickly discovered that Saturdays were THE most requested class times.

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I’m now retired and Saturdays are my own again. Mornings are leisurely and then I head out with friends. I’m off to a 60s rock party today in The Gold Zone. I heard this group play in Centro a couple of weeks ago and they were amazing. The 60s was MY decade and the best years ever. And the memories the music conjures up………flower power, free love, hippies, peace, sit-ins, caftans, bell bottoms, love beads and much, much more. 

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Dia de San Patricio 2017

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Dia de San Patricio 2017

March 17th is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. I used to teach my students in Mexico all about the legend behind this day, but close on its heels is the holiday celebrating Benito Juarez’s birthday, and a school holiday here in Mexico. Needless to say, the students were always more interested in getting a day off from classes.

Last year we succeeded in finding green tequila in Sabalo Country. This year we found green beer at Twisted Mamas, one of the gringo restaurants in the Zona Dorada. Combined with good friends, a live band and delicious food, it was a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year.

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The servers were all decked out in green.

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The menu included traditional fare of corned beef and cabbage as well as Guinness beef stew.

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Even yours truly got into the spirit.

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And that was St. Patrick’s Day here in Mazatlan.

Pre-Op in Mexico

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Pre-Op in Mexico

Surgery. Ugh! I’ve had two of them in the last 5 years. But they were back in Canada. Now it turns out that I need cataract surgery. I have decided to have it here in Mexico rather than be put on a several month waiting list in Winnipeg.

The other day I ventured out to a lab for the required pre-op tests. I had often walked by this particular lab as it’s conveniently located close to a grocery store that I frequent. But this was my first time walking into the facility.

A guard opened the door for me and handed me a number. After a short wait of less than five minutes it was my turn. I handed the requisition to the attendant and was delighted to find that she spoke English. Although I had prepared my vocabulary in Spanish, it was comforting to converse in my own language.  I explained to her that I was traveling to Guadalajara for the surgery and that the results should not be sent to the doctor in Mazatlan who had requested the tests. She assured me it was no problem as this was a common procedure here in Mexico.

I barely had a chance to sit back down again in the waiting room when my name was called. The service was amazingly efficient. In less than forty-five minutes, blood, urine, chest x-ray and EKG were all complete. So Canada, you need to get your act together in this respect as well.

I was astonished to be told that all the results would be ready by 3 pm the same day. I thought back to the last time I had pre-op tests in Winnipeg in 2013 where they required a 3 week interval between the lab tests and the surgery date. My  cataract surgery is scheduled for next week.

I wasn’t able to come back that day but the following morning when I returned everything was ready for me to take to Guadalajara.

Future blog posts about my experience having cataract surgery here in Mexico are on the horizon.