The buzz words for this decade are “stay safe.” The ones I heard all the time in the last decade were “be aware.”
In Mexico I live alone, I take long walks alone and I often travel alone, very different from my life back in Washington. But in both places the above buzz words are always on my mind.
After having limited mobility prior to two knee replacement surgeries, I am extremely grateful to be able to take long walks every day. And I am very aware of my surroundings regardless of where I am. And I notice very different things.
Here in Aguascalientes, despite the fact that I live in a lower income neighborhood close to Centro (downtown), I am very comfortable walking the streets day and night. There are always people out walking. I’ve even grown accustomed to seeing young children out at night alone. Some of the shops have crazy hours too. There’s a dentist on my corner who is often there at ten at night. A hairdresser a block away is often cutting hair at midnight. Taco stands are open until the wee hours. And I think nothing of going out to the corner tienda at midnight if I crave a pinguino.
This past summer when I was in Winnipeg I stayed with a friend who lived downtown. Winnipeg can best be described as an urban reserve and is not a city I’d want to raise my kids in today. The downtown area is disgusting and filled with vacant office buildings. There is not a department store or a grocery store in sight. But the panhandlers are definitely out there in abundance. The streets are deserted at night except for the aboriginals who can be seen defecating or urinating on the sidewalks just as they do in the daytime.
When I walk in East Wenatchee I always see people out with their dogs. As I walk by the middle school I see kids out on the track. Further along by the high school I see the football team at practice. And of course there are always lovely gardens and trees as I stroll past the houses as I walk up and down the hills.
However in the blink of an eye things can change. I’ve had “interesting ” experiences in all three countries that I do not intend to ever write about. After all, we are never in control of everything.
Stay safe and be aware, wherever you are.
Saturday was one of the rare sunny days we’ve had recently and was a welcome change from the overcast gray skies. Linda and Gene came in from Leavenworth and we headed out for a walk along the river.
Riverfront Park is home to an asphalt hike/bike trail as well as a miniature railway, a statue garden and a boat launch. In the summer the trees and flowers are alive with color. But on a December winter day these few berries were all that was left.
A number of interesting statues caught my eye, such as this monkey on a skateboard.
The river views and the mountainous terrain really add to the beauty of this park.
Our timing was perfect as the sun had just begun its descent into the mountains as we arrived back at the car. Once the sun disappears the temperature plummets.
A lovely walk with great friends on a winter’s day with no snow on the ground. Life is good.
I go out for longer walks every day now. I have a variety of masks in my wardrobe and I am careful about physical distancing.
Seeing as traveling outside of the city is not a possibility, I have decided to venture down new streets to explore instead.
Vibrant colors of flowers are everywhere. This photo was taken on a nearby boulevard.
There are lots of street vendors in my neighborhood. It’s mainly juice and fruit during the daytime but this one was different and intrigued me.
Cafes and bars are open and tables are well spaced, even outdoors.
The car wash is open again and costs 30 pesos. The American dollar currently has a value of about 25 pesos.
Sculpted greenery is everywhere.
This doorway has its unique charm.
As I passed by the Fiesta Americana, there was a ceremony going on where hotel employees were being presented with hampers.
I wonder what I will find on my next walk.
Saturday is a very different day than it used to be. One cup of coffee with yogurt and granola. Off in an Uber to teach English for a couple of hours.
Another Uber home and off to the carnicería. He grilled the chicken I bought for me. I’d take a walk to the bakery and do any other shopping and then return to pick up my chicken.
After lunch (yes lunchtime was at around 4 pm) I’d head to the church to teach for an hour.
In the evening I’d explore the Expoplaza area. There were always numerous food vendors. I’d watch the children ride around the square on a burro. I’d listen to music and walk through the San Marcos park.
I’d have interesting conversations with people. A handful understood minimal English but it was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish.
Occasionally I’d attend a birthday party or another fiesta on a Saturday evening. And there were concerts close by as well.
Saturday now is very different. Lots of time for that second cup of coffee. I can leisurely make an omelet. No rush to get dressed. No reason to call an Uber. No students to teach.
I take two walks a day. One is before it gets too hot and the other is after it cools off in the evening. Daytime highs are in the low 90s.
This is what Expoplaza area looks like now.
I color, I watch movies, I write, I phone friends and I listen to music.
Actually Saturday seems pretty much like every other weekday now.
Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Maintain social distancing. Stay at home. This is all great advice for protecting your physical health.
But what about your mental health? What are you doing to protect your mental health?
If you’re self-isolating, you spend a lot of time by yourself. This is a perfect opportunity for your brain to go into overdrive. This results in an unnecessary abundance of fear and anxiety and ultimately panic. Even if you are at home and have other family members with you, the conversation ultimately focuses on COVID-19.
The art of mindfulness and meditation are two techniques that work for me. If I’m coloring I focus on the masterpiece I’m creating. If I’m watching a movie I really listen to the Spanish and am amazed at how much better my comprehension has become.
I meditate with music and imagery. I’ve even gotten back to gazing at the flame of a candle.
I’ve replaced a great deal of my social media viewing with the above-mentioned. When I want the facts about COVID-19 I go to the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site.
I find online Church as well as Bible study to be important. Both are a great way to stay connected. I also find them comforting.
I also spend less time on the phone although I do connect with the my family and close friends more regularly. Just as long as the conversation doesn’t focus completely on the virus.
Quite obviously I’m spending more time writing. Blog posts are every second day. I’m also working on my next book.
I make a point of going out for walks every day. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. So many trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.
I guess you could say I take a lot of time for ME and I highly recommend it.
Take time for yourself!
Social distancing. Physical distancing. Self-isolating. Self-quarantine. Common buzz words we all live with today.
I’m a people person. I like to be with people. I like to do things with people. I like to go places with people. I like to wander in and out of shops conversing with the locals.
Here I am in Mexico in the mist of this COVID-19 madness where I spend most of the time by myself. And my virtual world has become more important lately.
I confess I spend much less time on Facebook. Too much negativity and misinformation. However I do share my blog posts every other day. And I respond to private messages. But when I want the facts about the virus I check the Mayo Clinic website. I also participate in discussion groups on this site too.
On Sundays I no longer go to church. Instead I tune in online to Church of the Rock in Winnipeg.
And new this past week…. Pastor Kent of Leavenworth Church of the Nazarene is offering an online Bible study on Wednesdays. And I have partnered with my friend Becky in Indiana to further discuss what is presented each week.
And then there is What’s App, Instagram and Twitter. But I refuse to Zoom.
I do try to limit my time in this virtual world. I have my writing, coloring and daily walks to occupy my time. I also spend much more time on the phone with friends. I was even interviewed by a Winnipeg Free Press journalist on the phone a couple of weeks back.
But I miss the in-person contact. I wonder how much longer I will have to just be content with only my virtual world.
Since I’ve been retired I haven’t really had much of a daily routine. Basically it’s been traveling around Mexico six months of the year and doing a lot of volunteering and socializing in Leavenworth the other six months, with an occasional side trip to Canada.
This winter I returned to Aguascalientes City with the intent to focus on my Spanish skills. I returned to the same neighborhood where I am the only gringa.
I used to savor my first cup of coffee at 8 am. I’d often go to my favorite gordita stand for breakfast. And then it was off to the shops to engage people in conversation. Now many shops look like this.
In the afternoon I’d go to the park to color. Sometimes I’d meet friends there.
I also used to attend church services on Thursday and Sunday. Saturday was my one teaching day.
And then COVID-19 entered our lives.
I now have breakfast in my hotel room. And some days I don’t even get dressed until around noon. I watch movies in Spanish to improve my comprehension but it doesn’t do much for conversation or pronunciation.
I still color every day but not in the park. The park is closed.
I go for shorter walks. I spend more time on the phone with friends. I do on-line church and I’m going to sign up for another course on Coursera.
That leaves me with lots of time for writing. I now do blog posts every second day. And I’m hoping my imaginary friends keep talking to me so that my work in progress does indeed continue to progress.
Phase 2 has begun in Ags. People around here seem to be taking COVID-19 very seriously and the streets are quieter than usual. No problem with social distancing.
Stay home and stay safe!