I was having lunch with Joanne and Carole one day. We were brainstorming about what to do that afternoon.
Joanne enjoys driving and we all enjoy exploring. We decided to venture out of the city and head north to the pueblo of Pabellon de Arteaga.
We had expected a small town. We were pleasantly surprised at how big and quaint it was. The main street through town was crowded with a variety of shops and businesses. There was even more than one Oxxo!
We all preferred the quaint old church compared with the big modern one.
Joanne and Carole opted to stay in the car while I wandered through the plaza across from the church. I snapped these two photos.
No idea what the second one is supposed to be other than it was kind of dilapidated. At one time a miniature train ran through there but the track was broken now.
When I come back next winter I plan on spending a few days walking the streets in Pabellon.
Traveling sure isn’t what it used to be. I recall enjoying the journey from Point A to Point B. And I can’t even blame Covid for messing that up. I long for the days before TSA. But those are just a distant memory now.
No. I’m not going to Canada. I can’t believe the idiocy of Trudeau’s latest. A fully vaccinated Canadian, if gone less than 72 hours, does not need a PCR test to come back to Canada. I guess they don’t shop at the same stores or eat at the same restaurants as those of us who are gone longer than 72 hours. Enough of that garbage.
Here in Mexico we’re being told that the entire country is green on the stoplight. Amazing considering only 53% of Mexicans have had even one dose of vaccine.
My travels this week will take me up north to Sinaloa, where I will celebrate Thanksgiving with friends in Mazatlan. And I will then finally get to see my family in Culiacan for the first time in two years.
I may even do another side trip while I’m up north. There’s so much of this country I have yet to explore.
Safe travels to all this holiday week. Will check in again from Mazatlan.
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.
I was out for a walk on a rather gray and foggy day. I heard geese honking! Sure enough in a field across the way there were hundreds of them. Canada Geese. On their way down south for the winter.
In another lifetime I’d head out to Fort Whyte Center in Winnipeg to see them take off at sunset. Occasionally flocks of them would appear overhead as I drove down McGillivray.
I was at Walmart and picked up a gingerbread house kit. It seems like just yesterday when my kids used to make them. This year my friend Ida and I are going to make one.
I move around a lot and usually spend Christmas in different places. I always buy a small tree and decorate it. I keep some of the handmade ornaments but the tree and the balls are always given away to someone when I leave. This is my 2020 tree although I will probably add more ornaments.
Places I’ve been in the last ten years include Culiacán, Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara, Tototlán, Mazatlan, San Ciro de Acosta and Aguascalientes. This is the first time I’ve ever been in the USA for Christmas.
The temperature is dropping and snow is in the forecast for next week. That will definitely bring back memories of life before Mexico when Winnipeg winters were my norm.
Finding a Christian church in Mexico is difficult enough as this is definitely Catholic country. Finding a Christian church where I feel comfortable and welcome is another hurdle. Finding a church where I am able to become involved is a blessing. I’ve lived in several places in Mexico and have attended a few Christian churches. The gringo churches were not my favorites. While I am still not completely fluent in Spanish, I still prefer the Mexican churches over the gringo churches.
Here in Aguascalientes I have discovered a gem of a church, and it’s only two blocks away from where I am staying. One Church is only two years old and has only fifty congregants. A husband and wife, both pastors, not only spearhead this church but they also financially support this church with outside jobs. Although One Church is affiliated with Redime (Redeemed Church), it receives no funding from this organization. Additional funding is provided by contributions from the congregants at the services. Tax receipts? Not in Mexico.
Services are held Sunday mornings at 11 am and Thursday evenings at 7 pm. The worship team lead the congregation in prayer and praise followed by a short coffee break. A nursery as well as a children’s program are available when the pastor next gives a sermon. The service concludes with more prayer and praise.
The church has an active group for young adults that meets on Saturday afternoons. A time of prayer and bible study is often augmented by going out into the community and evangelizing. The church also sponsors a radio program on Saturday afternoons where the pastors and congregants participate. The pastors were also instrumental in establishing a drug rehabilitation center in Aguascalientes. Many of the congregants volunteer their time at this facility.
The pastors themselves come from very different backgrounds. Martin attended Ana Sanders Seminary in Mexico City and received a doctorate from Vida Nueva Para El Mundo. Elizabeth had traveled around the world with profeta Yalile Diaz, Interestingly enough, Martin and Elizabeth met on Facebook. They have been married for three years and have an adorable two-year-old son.
If you ever find yourself in Aguascalientes, I highly encourage you to seek out this church in Las Flores. I’ve been in Aguascalientes for only three months, and I truly feel that I belong to this church family. The pastors and the congregants have been most welcoming to this gringa, and I know that I will miss them when I head back up north in a couple of weeks.
Today is April 4th. In three weeks time I will be back in Washington. I’m now into crunch time with several last minute things to do.
Here in Aguascalientes I still have one museum and one church on my list. A day trip to San Jose de Gracia is still on my list. My one month stay turned into three months and even that isn’t long enough.
The Feria San Marcos is coming up and it is the largest fair in all of Mexico and goes on for more than two weeks. Some of the events are happening right at the end of my street. Friends have warned me of the 24 hour loud music and the millions of visitors who come here to Aguascalientes for this fair. My dilemma is do I stay here for that extra day or do I leave a day early and spend a day in Puerto Vallarta before getting my flight to Seattle.
I have also begun investigating in earnest the joys of travel health insurance plans. Not all plans cover the USA and apparently not all plans cover the state of Washington either.
I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Culiacan with my family. My new grandson is a month old today and I met him for the first time last weekend. There is also nothing like having your six-year-old grandson crawl into bed to cuddle with you at 6:30 am on a Sunday with a Mamut (chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie). Or playing Spanish card games with him and his two brothers. The weekend flew by all too quickly.
I’m off to explore the Thursday tienguis in my neighborhood now. I enjoy engaging the vendors in conversation and always find something to buy.
This has been a very different winter for me here in Mexico. When I left Culiacan back in November, I was determined to explore parts of Mexico that I had never seen before. When I lived in Guadalajara, I traveled to various pueblos on the weekends. I visited friends in Mexico City. I lived in Irapuato for a few months and checked out Guanajuato. But there was still lots of new territory left to explore in central Mexico.
Many of my friends back in Washington were skeptical about my plans. You’re going to travel alone? You’re going to take overnight buses? You’re going to a place where you know no-one? You’re not sure where you will wind up or for how long? But that’s exactly what I have been doing for the past few months and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
When I first arrived in San Ciro de Acosta, I marveled at the quaintness and the simplicity of life there. The town didn’t even have a bank. You couldn’t use a credit card here if your life depended on it. It was like stepping back several decades in time. And I thought that a couple of weeks here would suffice.
But I was mistaken. I spent two of the most relaxing months of my life in San Ciro. I had time to work on my book without interruption. More importantly, for the first time in a decade, I had time for ME. I had time to contemplate life, time to process all the changes, time to reflect on my experiences and time to think about what lies ahead.
When I felt ready to leave, my destination was the city of Aguascalientes. Former students had raved about the beauty of this city and I was eager to see it for myself. And I have not been disappointed. The museums, churches and parks are amazing. It is such a clean city and is right up there with the Yucatan in terms of safety. Initially I planned on a one month stay.
But as the one month mark drew near, I knew that a second month was definitely in the wings. And when the second month drew near, I knew that a third month was indicated. And as the third month is drawing near, I am seriously considering returning here next winter for several months.
Years ago my therapist remarked to me that I was fortunate that I made friends easily and adapted well to new situations. Sometimes this blessing is also a curse. While the transient lifestyle has its appeal, it also has its downside.The older I get, the harder it is to say good-bye to people I meet on my journey. However the friendships I have made are priceless and the growth I have experienced has been incredible.
Last week I went on a day trip to the city of Zacatecas. My primary destination was the silver mine that had been made into a museum, La Mina del Eden. The bus trip from Aguascalientes took about an hour and a half. The taxi from the bus station to the mine took another 15 minutes.
Admission is 100 pesos, but half price for seniors and children. To my surprise, I was told that a tour in English was available. I decided to opt for that one. I have taken several tours in Mexico in Spanish. While I do grasp most of the content, sometimes details are missed.
Clad in hard hats, we boarded the train that would take us deep into the mine.
We disembarked in the darkened mine. To my delight, I was the only one on the English tour so I had the tour guide all to myself. Ruben is Mexican but had lived in Illinois for a while and his English was amazing. He was very knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed my private tour. We stopped several times as he explained the history and the logistics of the mine. We were several meters below the surface ourselves, and we were able to view the water running through several meters below us as well. This photo shows just one of the many displays along the way.
We continued our tour and it was interesting to see the gold and the quartz embedded in the rocks overhead.
My guide further explained that there is still untapped silver in the mine. However the city of Zacatecas has grown and is now encroaching on the mine, so official mining has stopped and the mine is strictly now a museum only. My guide also pointed out that there is actually a night club in the mine that is open in the evenings and nights on weekends.
After I left the mine I decided to walk a little, no easy feat in this city. The streets are extremely steep. I found myself at the teleferico, the cable car that goes up to the top of the mountain. But that day my fear of heights triumphed and I wound up taking an Uber to Centro instead.
I checked out the Basilica and some stores close by. That was when I noticed the tour bus.
The tour itself was in Spanish. The bus navigated the steep, narrow streets providing me with an amazing view from the upper deck of the city below. Our guide pointed out the various historical buildings, parks and statues along the way. It was most informative and interesting.
After the tour, I came across this man sitting on a bench.
I realize that Zacatecas has numerous museums and other attractions, but it was getting late and time to return to the bus station to board a bus back to Aguascalientes.
While I can envision another day trip in the future, the silver mine was definitely the highlight for me on my first visit to Zacatecas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!