I just crossed the border at Nogales. What do you mean I’ve been back in the USA for three months already?
That got me thinking about all the changes since I first arrived in Leavenworth in July of 2016. I’ve always lived primarily in Leavenworth but I’m now living in East Wenatchee. But I still commute to Leavenworth to teach fitness classes.
Covid caused a lot of changes. The Senior Center in Leavenworth has yet to reopen. I went there often for lunch and I also volunteered in the kitchen. I played bridge there and went to craft afternoons.
Covid also affected the library programs which all switched over to Zoom. The rumor is that in person programs are starting again next month. And I am looking forward to those, including book club, craft programs and speakers.
I now attend a church in Wenatchee and have a new life group as well. It’s a much larger church than the one I used to go to in Leavenworth. It’s also a Free Methodist rather than a Nazarene church.
My attorney has told me he’s retiring at the end of the year and my doctor has told me she’s moving on to a different clinic. More changes.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of people and have developed close relationships with many who I now consider as part of my extended family. Friendships are especially important to me considering my nomadic lifestyle. And those constantly change depending upon where I happen to be living. But my extended family changes very little.
There are constants in my life here as well. This is my sixth year teaching fitness classes in the SAIL program. Next month I’ll be taking training in A Matter Of Balance. But more about that in a future blog post devoted to the program.
Another constant is the beauty of the mountains. I am as much in awe of it today as when I first came here six years. This is truly God’s country!
I can’t believe that it’s Sunday again already. I just wrote a Sunday blog post a few minutes ago. But wait. That was last week’s. And it was a week ago.
Tomorrow is my birthday and it’s one of those where you leave one decade behind and enter a new one. People often refer to them as milestone birthdays. But I call every birthday a milestone.
The weather here in Washington has been a lot cooler than usual as well as being rainy and windy. Well, it does beat snow and my friends back in Mexico tell me they’re roasting in the heat.
Yesterday was interesting. The clouds allowed some sunshine to peak through so Christina and I headed for the community wide yard sale in Cashmere. Our biggest find was an oak armoire with lovely shelves and drawers and not even a hint of particle board. $5 well spent.
Back at home in the afternoon the rain finally poured down. I decided to spend my time doing research for one of my characters in my WIP. What’s App was the medium I used to chat with a friend in Mexico, a doctor from Calgary originally from England where she received her medical training. The topics wavered between bipolar 1 and atrial fibrillation. Heavy stuff.
Now where was I going with this post? Oh yes! Kreplach or perogies. I guess it really doesn’t matter what you call them. They are delicious.
I grew up with a Jewish background and they were kreplach. My Bobba had Russian roots and I can still envision her in the kitchen making them from scratch. I did it that way exactly once. Much easier to buy them frozen from Naleway or to head down to the nearest Ukrainian church where the ladies there offer homemade ones for sale on Friday afternoons. I also recall driving out to restaurants in rural communities where the Mennonite version was available.
But I’m far away from Manitoba now and here in Washington I’ve introduced several people to the frozen perogies I’ve found at Safeway or Albertsons. This afternoon I’ll be frying up some onions and getting out the sour cream. And ketchup. You heard me right. That’s a new twist for me. My friend Clairesse is coming over and she is one of the rare Washingtonians I know who enjoys perogies. She grew up on Camino Island and ate them with ketchup.
So there you have it. Call them what you like. Kreplach or perogies. Happy Sunday!
Life. A sequence of events where unplanned by far outnumber the planned. And when you get to Plan Z, you start over with Plan AA, Plan BB, Etc.
March was when I arrived back in Washington. I expected to go to Kelowna in March but Canada still had too many Covid restrictions. The next plan was May but that isn’t working out either due to my daughter’s work schedule. Another plan was May in Winnipeg but a minor health issue got in the way. I thought maybe June but there’s some fitness training all month that I really want to do here in Wenatchee. So now it looks like July in Winnipeg. There is always another plan.
I hope you check out the above link. It’s an old John Denver song I came across the other night. And I can’t get it out of my head. It really takes me back in time and I realize now that none of my plans back then have ever come into fruition. And that’s okay because there is always another plan.
So…….why make plans at all if they never seem to work out? I’ve come to the conclusion that long range plans don’t work for me. Even short range plans don’t always come about. But I still continue to make plans because I have learned to become extremely flexible. I don’t stress out when plans fall through.
To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
My plan for today is, hmmm, that isn’t going to work out either. Oh well!
In Mexico when I watch TV the programs are all in Spanish. When I’m up here in Washington, not only do I watch TV in English, I enjoy watching old westerns. I’ve been watching episodes of The High Chapparal lately. Lots of guns and violence. The same is true of The Rifleman and Gunsmoke. We all grew up watching those shows back in the 60s. I even had a cap gun when I was a child and we all played Cowboys and Indians.
Back then school shootings were unheard of. We didn’t have guns or rifles in our homes. It was a safer time.
Living in the state of Washington it’s very different. Many people I know here have at least one gun or rifle in their homes. They’re not always secured in gun cabinets. They’re often loaded and kept in nightstands or other drawers. I have female friends who carry them in purses or in glove compartments of their vehicles. They marvel at the fact that I don’t have one of my own yet.
Apple Blossom Festival was held last weekend here in Wenatchee. Just before the Grand Parade, a somewhat enraged man opened fire resulting in an officer being shot before he himself was shot and killed. Shootings are becoming all too common.
Then there’s pot, something we used back in the 60s to enhance our enjoyment of everything from rock concerts to sex. But we’ve all aged and now use it more for pain control. My philosophy remains the same now as it was in the 60s—– everything in moderation.
I recall flying in to Kelowna, Canada from Seattle a couple of years ago. Going through Customs, I was asked if I was carrying guns or had any pot. When I replied in the negative, the officer’s comment was “Are you sure you’re coming from Washington?”
I spend six months of the year in Mexico. When my friends ask me why I want to live in such a dangerous country, I shake my head and tell them to look around at their own neighborhoods.
It was great being a teenager in the 60s. It was a unique decade of flower power and hippies promoting peace and love. What a contrast to the decade we are currently in!
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.
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.
First week back in Washington has flown by quickly. I’m trying to adapt to the cold up here. Very different from Mexico and Arizona. So very glad I left a warm ski jacket here. And happy that I don’t need the boots.
I’m living out in Dryden for a few days and it’s always cooler along the river. But I spent yesterday in Leavenworth. I had a CPR course in the morning and went out for lunch with friends after. Then we got some apple cider and visited downtown by the gazebo. The sunshine was most welcome and I think we hit a balmy 50 degrees.
This morning we’re off to Sage Hills in Wenatchee. Can’t wait to actually be with people again and not just do church online.
SAIL fitness classes have started again for me and I really enjoy teaching them. The program was developed here in Washington state and is geared for seniors and aimed at fall prevention. Minnesota and a few other states are now offering this as well.
This coming week I’ll be in Wenatchee for more fitness training. And on Wednesday I’m moving again. Where? Maybe next blog post……..
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!
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.
0ne of my writing friends challenged me to write a post about unusual things that have happened in my life throughout the years since I left Winnipeg. Interestingly enough, some of these do involve travel back to Winnipeg. This is a real challenge as I’m only supposed to choose one thing per year. Here goes!
2010. As if moving to Culiacan wasn’t unusual in itself, I’d have to say that the trip on El Chepe in the Copper Canyon stands out. I headed for the bus station in Culiacan and looked up at the departures on the board. A bus to Mazatlan in a half hour, a bus to Los Mochis in twenty minutes. Hmmmm. Los Mochis. Sure. Why not? When I got there I was in a taxi where by some miracle the driver spoke English. I asked him what there was to do in the area. He told me about the train. He took me to a hotel that had a travel agent. She arranged a package for me and the next morning I was on the train. And I really must add that it was on this trip that I met Angie and her family. We are still great friends and I spent this past New Years holiday with them all in Tlalnepantla, Jilotzingo and Pachuca.
2011. Definitely my escape from Irapuato to Tlaquepaque. A school had flown me down to Mexico from Canada but never lived up to their end of the bargain. I wasn’t interested in working more hours for less money. They never came through with renewing my work visa or providing a health plan. I received a phone call on a Saturday night from a school in Tlaquepaque with a job offer. I packed up my suitcase and Sunday morning I was on a bus headed for Guadalajara. I started at the new school Monday morning.
2012. Knee surgery number one. Terrified. My mother had died having knee replacement surgery. I returned to Winnipeg and rented a room in the lower level of a duplex. Of course there were steps to get into the house which meant walker to cane and back to walker for the first little while. And my walker didn’t fit through the bathroom door. And the laundry room was in the basement. Not conducive to recovering from knee surgery. But I did it and headed back to Guadalajara in the fall.
2013. Back to Winnipeg for knee surgery number two. This time I lucked out and was able to rent a house that had been completely renovated for a handicapped individual. Wheelchair ramp at the front door, walk in shower with a bench, lots of room to maneuver a walker…. I was in heaven! And recovery time was much faster. Soon I was on my way back to Mexico.
2014. I discovered that teaching Business English was a lot more lucrative than teaching ESL. I ventured into areas of Guadalajara that were new to me as I taught on site. I taught in high security buildings for private companies and government offices, as well as in places such as Fedex.
2015. I had just moved to Mazatlan when I found myself on a plane to Toronto to meet up with a group en route to Punta Cana for my daughter’s wedding. Kimmy wanted a destination wedding and chose the Dominican. It was quite the trek for me but as all moms know, you do anything for your kids. It was a beautiful wedding and I have wonderful memories, but in all honesty I was very happy to return home to Mexico.
2016. I had a leading role in a murder mystery dinner theater and was winding down my teaching career with a handful of private students when a friend I’d met in Mazatlan invited me to come to Leavenworth, Washington for a visit. I thought it was the prison place until I realized Kansas was home to that one. So off I went for two weeks, only I wound up staying for four months. One morning I got up and there was this white stuff on the ground. I hightailed it back to Mazatlan.
2017. I had this really strong gut feeling that I wanted to be with my son on Mother’s Day. I’m glad I did. That’s the last time I was in Winnipeg and I haven’t seen Kyle since. I certainly hope Canada can get it’s act together so that I can go to Winnipeg this summer.
2018. My granddaughter Madeline was born. On my way back to Leavenworth I flew up to Canada first to see her. My daughter now has a daughter of her own. I remember holding Madeline for the first time. Exciting and emotional. It was really hard to leave and I cried all the way from Belleville to Toronto on the train.
2019. This was the year I discovered Aguascalientes. I arrived in January after spending three months in San Ciro de Acosta. I had a list of museums and art galleries and visited them all. But there was still more to explore and I came back in October to spend the winter. Besides, Las Flores was beginning to feel like home. I am very comfortable in my room on Begonias and Raul is the most amazing landlord ever.
2020. March already? I was anxious to go to Winnipeg to see Kyle. Oh oh. Covid arrived. My six months in Aguascalientes turned into eleven when I sought asylum and was given an extra six months as I chose to stay in Mexico to ride out the pandemic. What I never told my kids was that when Covid first hit and people were panicking and packing airports and dealing with canceled flights, I’d been in bed with the flu for a few days. Who knows? It may have even been Covid. There was no testing being done back then. I finally made it to Leavenworth in September when I was able to secure health coverage that included Covid.
2021. My 180 days in the USA are almost up and the CDC issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel To Canada advisory. I retained an attorney and once again sought asylum. It was granted and I remained in Washington for twelve months instead of the usual six.
2022. It’s early yet. I’ll have to wait and see what unusual thing wins this year, not that there haven’t been a few that are definitely in the running already.
And now for the far from usual but the one thing that spans the more than decade since I left Winnipeg. That first year in Mexico when I worked at Senda, Juan and I taught together and became good friends. He wanted to improve his English and I desperately needed to learn Spanish. Juan’s wife Lucila used to pick us up from school and drive me home. At the time their son Juan Carlos was a year old. To make a long story short, they adopted me. This was huge to me. Coming to a foreign country solo, my own kids back in Canada, I now had family again. Juan and Lucila now have four sons and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons. Can’t wait to hug them all later this month when I go to Culiacan.