For the longest time I’ve been posting twice a week, Sunday and Wednesday. I write about whatever happens to come to mind at the time. I’ve decided to change it up for a while. There will be one post a week for sure and the day will vary. If you’re a follower of my blog you’ll be notified in the usual way. If you’re not a follower, I’ll still be sharing to Facebook so you’ll see the announcement there.
I’m much busier here in Washington than I am in Mexico. I’m finding it hard to devote the time I want to the book I’m writing so I have to cut back somewhere. Giving up fitness classes or Tai Chi is not an option. My health is a priority at this stage of the game.
My social life is busier here as well. I have more friends, many of whom have become family to me over the years. I’m in year eight now in Washington. Yes we do go to fitness classes and Tai Chi together, but there are also activities like Leavenworth Summer Theater that I enjoy.
It also looks like a trip to Canada is in order again this summer. I’m hoping to actually be with both of my kids at the same time, something we haven’t done in almost eight years. And of course I’m looking forward to seeing my granddaughter. I enjoy the video calls but what I really want is to hug her and hold her in my arms.
Last week I was out at Lake Chelan for the day. The weather was wild. Windy and rainy when I arrived. Then in a matter of minutes it cleared up and was sunny. The museum is always interesting and they revamped it over the winter. A video about apples was added and some of the displays were changed around.
Fire season has begun. We had a Level 1 warning over the weekend over a 250 acre brush fire out near the airport, about a ten minute drive from where I live. Thankfully it was brought under control quickly. We could really use some rain here but there doesn’t seem to be any in the forecast.
I’m headed into Leavenworth today. That’s where my hair stylist is. Yes, I know there are hair stylists here in East Wenatchee. And I’m reluctant to change that. I discovered Shears during Covid and Lisa knows my hair well although I’m only up here six months of the year.
Jurassic Quest is coming to Wenatchee and I’m contemplating checking it out. The movies were all pretty great and I’ve seen them in English and in Spanish. Now to see those dinosaur up close. I remember a ride at Disney where we were surrounded by dinosaurs. That was back in the 80s and I’m sure the special effects are greatly enhanced now.
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
So often people want to talk about what they could have or should have done differently. Or maybe they shouldn’t have done it at all. I like to think of things I’ve done and if I had the opportunity would definitely do again. In this post I’ll touch on four of them.
I missed the first couple of weeks of high school. My friends from middle school were all going to Kelvin High and I lived in the catchment area for Grant Park High. My parents refused to sign the form that would have allowed me to change high schools. I never did hand in the registration form at Grant Park so I wasn’t registered anywhere. Instead I hung out at Memorial Park where I met some really interesting people. Of course eventually someone did catch on and I wound up at Grant Park. But those couple of weeks were awesome!
I had just received my certification for teaching ESL from University of Manitoba. I taught in a program at Red River College over the summer. Then it was time to find a job. I received a phone call from a school in Culiacan, Mexico and decided to head south. Yes, Culiacan is notorious for having one of the strongest cartels in the country. But I had a fabulous year in Mexico. It was so fabulous that when I returned to Canada to supposedly stay, instead I turned around and went back to Mexico. The past twelve years have been amazing!
That brings to mind the summer of 2015 when I came to Leavenworth for two weeks and stayed for four months. Then I made the decision to turn into a snowbird after living fulltime in Mexico for a few years. But I have become a snowbird returning to Washington State and not Canada. I’ve lived in different areas and have done some exploring. I’ve met some wonderful people who have now all become a part of my extended family. We laugh, we cry and we have incredible adventures together. It just doesn’t get any better!
But I’ve saved the best for last. I have two fantastic kids and it was worth all the nausea during pregnancy and all the pain during childbirth to be blessed with my son and my daughter. It was well worth moving my office home so I could be with my kids from infancy to adulthood. I enjoyed numerous hours volunteering with all the activities they were involved in. I have fond memories of bands practicing (of course they practice at the drummer’s home), chauffeuring, living in bowling alleys, coaching sports, being Akela of a cub pack and so much more. Yes, those were incredible days indeed!
I would do all of these all over again given the opportunity. High school, college, adulthood. It doesn’t matter. These are all great experiences that I would gladly repeat again.
It’s almost thirteen years ago since I arrived in Culiacan. Back then I made a point of proudly telling people I was Canadian. A year later I moved to Guadalajara. Still proud to be a Canadian. I didn’t want to be mistaken for an American. But it’s 2023 now and I stopped bragging that I was a Canadian long ago. Here in Aguascalientes I call myself a gringa and my neighbors know I live in the USA when I’m not in Mexico.
When Covid was declared a pandemic back in March of 2020, I sought asylum here in Mexico. I was given another six month tourist visa. In September 2020 I got as far as Leavenworth, Washington. USCIS said as long as I flew in I could come although I am not an American citizen. That was also the earliest I could obtain travel health insurance during the pandemic that would cover me for Covid.
In March of 2021 it was decision time. Return to Mexico? Hot summer weather coming up and no vaccines available. My 180 was almost up. I wasn’t keen on returning to Canada to quarantine. And I also had nowhere to live there either. The CDC came to my rescue and issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel To Canada Advisory. Once again I successfully sought asylum in a foreign country during the pandemic.
Here we are in 2023. I watch what is going on in Canada with Trudeau and the Liberals. I watch a country falling apart at the seams. Of course, that all began when Justin Trudeau’s father first took office back in the 60s. He has merely taken over where his father left off. Trudeau makes Trump look like an angel.
What is going on now in Canada scares me. I believe it’s every bit as dangerous as Covid. And I wonder what my chances are of once again seeking asylum in the USA. Awfully tempting to try. Define “refugee.” Lots of connotations there.
Where does chocolate milk come from? A dairy cacao! Thank you Alexa.
Have a great Sunday!
When I was a child growing up in River Heights, there were no large grocery stores in our neighborhood. The big chain stores were all located a car ride away and didn’t arrive in our area until the 60s. Until then there was a small grocery store a couple of blocks away on Grant that my mom went to occasionally. I don’t recall the name of the store but I remember going in there often just to buy popsicles or dixie cups. The owner knew just about everyone in the neighborhood.
Up in Washington, I frequent Costco, Safeway, Winnco and Walmart. I’ve been back in Mexico for almost six months and haven’t been to Walmart yet and only went to Costco once to renew my membership and buy cheddar cheese. There’s this tiny store on the corner of my street where I can buy everything from nail polish remover to onions to beer and everything in between.
And I don’t have to buy in quantity either. If I crave a bigger breakfast, I can buy one egg, two strips of bacon and a bolillo. I don’t have to buy a dozen eggs, a package of bacon and a loaf of bread. I’ve seen people go in there and buy one Tylenol or one tea bag. Even that River Heights grocery store wasn’t this convenient back in the 60s.
The interesting thing is that there are at least a half dozen more tiendas within a three block radius of where I live. They all carry an incredible amount of inventory. None of them had toilet paper shortages during Covid. My neighbors tell me they’ve all been around for years.
Later this month I’m going back to Washington and I won’t have the luxury of a corner grocery store. Instead it will be a full shopping cart. Reverse culture shock means I’ll also actually have to plan menus. No more satisfying my cravings on a whim by a few short steps to the corner.
On that note, I think I’ll head out and pick up an apple and a couple of slices of cheese for a snack.
I was looking over some older blog posts. I used to share tons of photos which I don’t do anymore. That’s because I used to take tons of photos which I also don’t do anymore. Photos require time, time that I’d rather spend with people or writing. And writing has been my focus this winter. I don’t have the patience to sort through photos, edit them and store them in files. I really admire my friend Ann who has literally gone through thousands of photos and is organizing them all in files. They’re family photos that span a period of decades. My family photos are haphazardly stored in cyberspace as they haven’t really made it out of the ancient photo albums in any type of order at all. But the albums are safely stored in waterproof bins in my son’s basement. I wonder if he even looks at them or if they just come out of hiding when I’m in Winnipeg which has only been a handful of times over the last almost thirteen years.
Yes. This fall it will be thirteen years since I first arrived in Culiacan. I know. The news reports tend to focus on all the violence in that city, but Culiacan will always have a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories of the year I lived there and I always look forward to going back to visit my family there. When I arrive at the bus station I still have a feeling of coming home although I moved away from there twelve years ago.
Coming home. When I visit Winnipeg it no longer feels like home. I’ve been away too long and the city has changed. Of course I’ve changed too. I feel like I have two homes. One is where I am right now in Aguascalientes. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood now for four years. Not much has changed despite Covid. I no longer do a marathon of museums and art galleries as I did the first couple of years. My Spanish has improved and I now am more comfortable talking with neighbors or people who work in the tiendas and restaurants here. I don’t feel like a tourist anymore.
My second home is Washington state. I lived predominantly in Leavenworth the first few years. But last spring I moved to my forever home in East Wenatchee with Christina, Danny and seven chihuahuas. I was talking to Christina last night and she’s excited that I’m coming back in a month. I think she missed me. Okay, I missed her too. It’s been a great winter but it’s time to return to family.
Of course it would be nice if the snow would be gone. But that’s out of my hands. On Monday it even snowed in Tucson. It’s been a crazy winter for weather everywhere except here. I found it quite warm in Mexico this year. Last winter I needed an extra blanket and was glad I’d brought my lined quilted vest with me. But this year I haven’t even needed a light jacket. It did snow up in Durango about a month ago, but that’s miles away from where I am.
Time for my writer’s workshop on Zoom. Fingers crossed that the Internet cooperates today.
I’ve actually been trying to catch up on phone calls lately and have been hearing all about the frigid temperatures in Canada and all the snow in Washington state. I was on zoom the other night with a group in Winnipeg and every week they beg me to send them the sunshine and the warmth that I have here in Mexico. Were it only that simple! Of course I blew them away when I told them I still sip herbal tea at night despite the warm temperatures.
Covid is still very much around here in Mexico. I have friends in Puerto Vallarta who have been stricken once again with this dreaded flu bug. Thankfully it’s not nearly as bad as their first experience. We need to keep them in our prayers. They have to travel internationally in a couple of weeks so hopefully all will be well by then.
I discovered a new bakery around the corner from where I live. Actually it’s not a new bakery. It’s just new to me. It’s open from 6:30 am to 2 pm. Seeing as I don’t really do mornings this winter, I’m seldom wandering down that street when they’re open. However, the other day by some miracle I had actually eaten breakfast before noon and found myself walking by the bakery at about 1:45. Delicious pastries with pineapple fillings and bolillos fresh out of the oven! No. I’m not setting an alarm in my phone to wake me early. But I do hope I’ll pass by there at least once or twice before I head back to Washington next month.
So now an object was shot down over Alaska this week. And apparently the balloon that the Americans shot down had meandered over Canada first. Interesting that Trudeau did ask the Americans to take down a second object hovering over the Yukon. As if China hasn’t caused enough chaos with Covid. I wonder what’s next.
I was talking with one of my friends the other day about tamales. He had just returned from Cuba and told me that tamales down there were pretty scant due to the food shortages. I think he was drooling when I told him about all the different fillings we have here in Mexico. The rajas and cheese are one of my favorites with chicken running a close second. Occasionally I get the ones wrapped in banana leaves too.
Have a great Sunday!
Who here remembers the sitcom Room 222? I recall watching it around 1970ish. Teaching has sure changed since back then. Of course the whole world has changed.
So the other day I went on an old sitcom binge. Unfortunately all were in English. But it was fun! Different Strokes, Facts of Life, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company and a few more.
February 2nd is coming up. Groundhog Day up in the north. Here in Mexico it’s Dia de la Candelaria. Back on King’s Day when we had the Rosca, small plastic figures of the baby Jesus were hidden in the bread. Legend is that whoever finds them brings the tamales on February 2nd. Carole, if you’re reading this, are you bringing them to a party in Toronto?
I had a great time at Costco earlier in the week. My friends in Washington tease me when I tell them I have a membership solely to be able to buy Cheddar cheese. The stores near me have a variety of Mexican cheese but Costco is the only place with the Cheddar.
It’s getting hot again. 80s this week. Looking at the pics my friends post of snow cools me off though. I don’t miss the snow.
I start a new class online tomorrow. It will probably be the last one this winter. Once I get back to Washington fitness classes and training will occupy much of my time. And of course I’m looking forward to seeing all my friends too.
My characters are still talking to me so I’m still focused on my writing. I finally have my timeline all straightened out and that was a rather tedious task.
Constitution Day is coming up this weekend. It’s always interesting keeping up with holidays in three different countries, especially when they don’t always coincide. My province in Canada has Louis Riel day later in the month while the USA celebrates Washington’s birthday. They’re all good excuses for a long weekend.
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.
I just returned from a fabulous weekend in Culiacan with my family. And I’ll add that it’s the highlight of my winter in Mexico this year.
Culiacan. This is the city where my Mexican adventure began back in 2010. When I first arrived, my Spanish vocabulary was extremely very limited to Cerveza fria por favor. Juan wanted to improve his English and I desperately needed to learn some Spanish. We both taught at Senda and would meet in the library where Juan patiently helped me read children’s books.
At the time he and his wife Lucila had one child. Juan Carlos had just turned one. The family has grown and they now have four boys. And I have four nietos.
On Saturday night my granddaughter Madeline called me from Kelowna. This was a really special video call because she got to meet my Mexican family. She was a tad overwhelmed as the boys were eager to talk in English to her and one even showed her a picture he had colored. Madeline commented that it was a little crowded with everyone in the room. She is an only child so it is very different.
The boys were all excited to see her and commented on her blond hair. I have always talked about Madeline to them and it was nice that they all had a chance to meet. We’ll have to do it again the next time I go to Culiacan.
One of our favorite pastimes is playing board games. This weekend we played Uno and Scrabble. We play in Spanish and English.
The boys are learning English at school. Juan Carlos received a certificate from Cambridge recently. I helped Jose Agustin with his homework over the weekend, another of my favorite things to do when I visit.
Although I’m not Catholic, I always go to mass with my family. Sunday evening we were at La Lomita. My ten year old grandson was sitting beside me with his arm around me and his head resting on my shoulder. He looked up at me and said “Grandma I love you” and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Life just doesn’t get any better than that.
Coffee revives me in the morning when I get up. It prepares me for the day that lies ahead, whatever that may happen to be. I don’t have regular structured activities when I’m in Mexico. My life is very different from when I’m back in East Wenatchee. There are lots of white spaces on my calendar that hangs on the wall. And that leaves me more time for writing.
Then Thursday morning happened. I admit I don’t always check the newscasts first thing in the morning. So it wasn’t until later on that I found out about the violence in Culiacan. My initial reaction was an emotional one. My Mexican family live there. Culiacan is a pretty wild city at the best of times and I must admit that I’m always concerned about their safety. But on Thursday the concern became fear as I saw the video footage of the the city under siege.
Shelter in place. I lived in Culiacan the first year I came to Mexico so that phrase is familiar. But when I heard that the entire state of Sinaloa was shutting down, that really bothered me. Highways and airports were closed. The military were firing at the cartel from the air. I had lived in Mazatlan for four years and had never experienced anything like this. Hurricanes suddenly don’t seem like such a threat anymore. I can only imagine the terror tourists felt trapped in their hotel rooms.
Thankfully I was able to reach Juan by phone and found out that my family was safe at home. The entire city was shut down. The only ones roaming the streets were Cartel members seeking revenge because one of their leaders had been captured. Culiacan was littered with burning vehicles and the sound of gunfire echoed throughout the city. An Aeromexico jet sitting on the tarmac was riddled with bullet holes. A cloud of black smoke filled the air.
I was supposed to go to Culiacan on Friday. My family had invited me to come celebrate King’s Day with them. I’m not sure just why, but I had decided to postpone my trip and come the following week. I believe someone up there was looking out for me and it wasn’t just a go with your gut feeling.
The airport is back open, public transit is moving, kids are going back to school tomorrow……………………typical normal daily life in Culiacan. I have my tickets and I do plan to go to Culiacan this Friday. Unless something astronomically crazy happens again.