Tag Archives: Mexico

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

Happy Easter! Happy Passover!

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Three important celebrations were held on the evening of Friday, April 15th, 2022.

I attended a very moving service at Sage Hills Church in Wenatchee. It was in English and I was there live and in person. For the past several years I have always done a Good Friday service in English online as I’ve been in Mexico.

Back at home in Aguascalientes the occasion was the beginning of the Feria, the first one since 2019 because of Covid. This usually annual festivity takes place over a number of weeks and spans an area from Centro all the way to La Isla.

Friday also marked the first seder of Passover for those of the Jewish faith around the globe.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this weekend, blessings to you for health and happiness.

Happy Passover!

Happy Easter!

Feliz Pascua!

Here And There

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Here And There

I’m sitting here sipping salted caramel tea as I write this. A nice change from the chamomile I drink in Aguascalientes. In the background The Rifleman fills the TV screen. I loved that show as a child and I still do. Not on any of the channels I watch in Mexico.

I enjoy my life where I’ve turned back into a snowbird. When I first arrived in Culiacan I met expats who had decided to revert back to the snowbird life. I didn’t understand it back then, but after living full time in Mexico for almost six years, I made that decision as well.

That was back in 2016 when I retired from teaching ESL. That was also when I discovered Washington state. My planned two week vacation turned into four months when the first snowfall finally chased me back to Mazatlan.

As I was eating a sourdough English muffin with marble cheese for breakfast, I found myself missing gorditas. Yes, that happens. The only Mexican food I eat up here is at Agave Azul in Cashmere. But marble cheese does not exist in Mexico.

I had lunch at Gustav’s with friends the other day. One of my rare red meat fixes. Although the burger was far superior, I found myself missing the country music at Country Break in Aguascalientes.

The mountains here in Washington never cease to amaze me. I see them out my bedroom window. I see them when I go out for walks. The view is magnificent on the drive from East Wenatchee along Highway 2 into Leavenworth.

The NCW Libraries features an abundance of programs and activities in addition to books and movies. I signed up for two of them this month that are offered on Zoom.

The museum in Wenatchee is another of my favorite places. The Martin Luther King Jr. Multicultural Fest is one of the featured events. There is also an art show going on with displays of art from local schools. I will have to check out what programs they are offering this month.

Yesterday Christina and I went out to garage sales and had a blast. We found lots of treasures. Brought back memories of another lifetime in Canada.

Here’s to a new month!

La Vida

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La Vida

It happened again on Wednesday. Another bomb scare in Leavenworth. There was one last year too. The downtown area was closed off. Highway 2 through town was closed off. Thankfully no bomb was found on either occasion.

I live in Mexico six months of the year. My friends up north tell me I’m crazy to live there because it’s dangerous. Well, I’m up north and it’s just as peligroso up here.

One of my Canadian friends suggested it was time I move back to Canada. Not on the radar. I read the headlines in The Winnipeg Free Press, my hometown newspaper. Lots of crime there too.

Our world was going crazy long before Covid and the situation in Ukraine. Technology makes it far too easy to build bombs or create other weapons. Technology is also to blame for the increase in school shootings. Canada, you’re not far behind the USA when it comes to those either. Technology is also responsible for providing accessibility to all types of criminal activity and even providing inspiration to criminals.

Face it, people. Nowhere is safe. So we may as well get out there and enjoy life wherever we happen to live. Maybe I take it to the extreme because I travel a lot. At least I’m living life to the fullest.

Have an amazing week out there! You only live once!

Why Am I Here?

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Why Am I Here?

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.

Today Is Moving Day

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Today Is Moving Day

Today is Wednesday and it’s moving day. This time it’s from Dryden to Peshastin. Will be pet sitting for a friend…a dog, a cat and fish.

I will still be on the river, but closer to Leavenworth than to Wenatchee. Temp will be a little cooler and a little more snow left on the ground although the rain the other day washed some of it away.

I saw this the other day.

I admit that this is something this free spirit rarely does. But I’ve started doing it this year. No, I don’t have paranoid friends, although I’ve accused them of this in the past. Maybe it’s approaching the almost seven decades of life. Maybe it’s Covid. Maybe it’s what’s going on in the Ukraine. But this year I have one contact in each of the three countries who always know where I am when I’m traveling.

I was contemplating a trip to Canada next week but have decided to put it on hold until May. The crazy and inconsistent regulations regarding Covid in Canada are raising my anxiety level, and I don’t need that when I can remain here in the USA and live a comfortable and relatively stress free life with a good deal more freedom.

Last week I was able to get a booster shot that had not been available to me in Mexico. While I was at Cascade Medical in Leavenworth, I realized how much at home I felt there. I’ve been there a handful of times in the past few years, yet I can no longer even envision the clinic I went to for so long all those years ago in Winnipeg.

I have friends who marvel at my lifestyle and I have friends who are very critical of it. In all honesty, sometimes I question it myself. But then I think of the amazing people I’ve met and the incredible adventures I’ve had and settling down in one place for a long period of time loses its appeal quickly.

So where’s home?

It’s true that I have called Aguascalientes home six months of the year for the past three years. But I don’t stay there all the time. It’s my home base for traveling elsewhere. Although it’s been more difficult traveling during Covid, this past winter I did get to Culiacan twice to see my Mexican family, celebrated Thanksgiving in Mazatlan, New Years in Jilotzingo and got to explore new places near CDMX and in the state of Hidalgo.

And it goes without saying that the other place I call home is Washington state. I have fond memories of my first visit in July of 2016. I came for two weeks and stayed for four months. The snow in mid November chased me back to Mazatlan. I have lived mainly in Leavenworth when I come to Washington, but that is going to change when I leave Peshastin next week.

Hint: Leaving Chelan County and moving to Douglas County.

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.

It Only Took 25 Years

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It Only Took 25 Years

I’m in Tucson right now. I arrived yesterday from Mexico. I crossed the land border at Nogales. It only took 25 years.

The last time I was in Tucson was 25 years ago. I was here with my ex and my daughter. One of the things we did was take a drive down the highway to the border. From the American side, I was enchanted with the Mexican side I saw from a distance. Back then you could just walk across the border without even a passport. And that is exactly what I wanted to do.

My ex wouldn’t get out of the car. He was a snob when it came to Mexico. Actually he had often spoken quite derrogatorily about Mexico in the past which of course  resulted in my daughter becoming hysterical and not wanting any of us to get out of the car.

Two to one. I never did get to Nogales, Mexico that day. But I finally did get there! I came from Mexico by bus yesterday.

Tucson has changed in 25 years. Two lane undivided highways are now freeways. Resorts line the freeways on the drive up from the border. I took yesterday to just breathe. I went out to eat and spent some time by the pool. Today I intend to go exploring.

Now, for those of you who are asking what’s next……..I haven’t decided!

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.