Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! Have a nice safe New Years, call or hug your family and watch as the New Year comes in.

We are heading down to Queretaro's main Plaza later to find a bite to eat and will then head back "home" to watch the festivities on TV. We were hoping that at least one other RV might pull in so we could share some snacks but no luck. We have been here by ourselves since we checked in two weeks ago.

It is a well known fact that fireworks scare away demons here in Mexico so we expect to hear lots of them tonight. I have my earplugs handy if I need them!

Here is a list of Mexican New Years Traditions:

New Years is our chance to get rid of the negative in our lives to make room for the positive. New Years Traditions abound here in Mexico and include:

1) Make a list of all the negative things of the past year and just before midnight, throw the list into the fire. This will rid them from your life forever.

2) Wear red underwear if you want love and yellow if you want money.

3) Eat one grape and make one wish with each of the twelve strokes of the clock as it counts out midnight.

4) Sweep out your house before midnight. This rids the house of the negative forces that have accumulated over the past year.

5) Bringing your luggage outside at New Years will ensure you will travel in the upcoming year.

6) Make an effigy of a hated politician, stuff it with fireworks and set fire to it at midnight.

7) Visualize a huge cloud crossing the sky at midnight. People who are lucky enough to have a glimpse of the cloud are believed to experience good luck in the New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Marriage Equality Comes To Quintana Roo!

Legal same-sex marriages are about to commence in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to popular vacation destinations like Cancun.
Cancun and other resort areas on the Mexican Caribbean will have a new attraction for gay and lesbian couples from the United States, Canada and Europe, allowing them to legalize their unions thanks to a quirk in the local civil code, activist Patricia Novelo told Efe. “This market niche ... is very attractive for European, Canadian and American (homosexual) couples,” said the spokesperson for Colectivo Diversidad. Novelo said that in January the first same-sex group wedding will be held in the resort area as part of local support for the human rights of the gay community. She said that already several couples have expressed their wish to formalize their unions at the ceremony. She said gay and lesbian marriages are possible in Quintana Roo, “thanks to a legal gap in the Civil Code,” which only makes mention of “people interested in getting married,” without specifying their gender.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in Mexico City and unions performed there are recognized throughout the nation. Hotels, airlines, and tour companies are already working to launch same-sex marriage packages to Cancun, Cozumel, and other beach towns in Quintana Roo.

And Here We Go Again!

Well, now Norma has the crud! I have just gotten back to feeling sort of normal and Norma is down. We have put our trip to Bernal off for about a week now and were going to go today but now that is in question.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve and the plan is to cab down to the Plaza de Armas, have dinner, people watch and then come home to watch the festivities around the world on TV.

That is the plan! We shall see if Norma's stomach allows it...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It Could Be Worse!

Our son Brooks and Linda spent Christmas with Linda's parents in Canmore, Alberta. They had a great time and headed home very early on the 27th expecting to make it all the way home to Vancouver Island. Well, they made it as far as Golden, BC where at 8:00 AM the road was blocked by an avalanche! They waited all day and finally had to get a hotel. They hope to be on their way tomorrow morning.

At least they have a nice view of the snow.


Laundry Day

We have not done laundry for a month and it was piling up in the shower! We have been watching for a lavanderia as we drove and walked around Queretaro but did not find one. We would not let the hotel laundry here do it because of the cost. The South African we met the other day told us his hotel charged him $250 pesos to wash a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. That is more than they cost to buy!

Yesterday one of the desk workers came over to see the motorhome and to practice her English so we asked her if she knew of one. Today a truck arrived to haul away out three garbage bags full of laundry to be washed, folded and bagged for $26 pesos ($1.90) per kilo. He could not weigh them here but I will let you know how much it costs. I suspect it will be much less than the number of quarters we would have had to put into a laundromat in the USA!

We were thinking of a drive to Bernal today but it is already 1:00 PM so we will have to see.


It came back at 5:00 and cost $480 pesos or $35. There were two very large shrink wrapped bundles and everything is spotless! It cost a little more than I expected but Norma figured that if she had done that much in Cocopah resort where we did our last big load, it would have cost at least $30 in the laundromat. Here, it was picked up, delivered, washed & dried, folded and bagged better than we would have done it. To top it off, she did not have to sit in a hot laundromat for hours! This was a bargain and we are happy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The "Dump"!

It is amazing how something so simple can become so complicated! It was our friend Chris who told us about this place and told us there was a place to dump when we needed to. Well, today we needed to! We have been collecting sewage for over a week and although the tank was not full, it was odoriferous if you get my meaning.

When we parked we spoke to one of the grounds guys who told us he would help us dump. We found him but he told us he was now told that RV's were not allowed to dump because that dump was connected to the hotel recycled water system that uses recycled water to water the lawns. He told us to talk to the people at the desk.

We went to the desk but were unable to explain what we wanted. They thought we wanted to rent a room so we could use the toilet in it. Then they thought we wanted to move to a different space but admitted none of the spaces had a dump site. She then thought we had made a mess in the motorhome and needed a maid to clean it up. She finally arranged to have her and the grounds manager meet us at the rig which we did. He had been told our toilet was broken and we needed repairs. I finally took both of them to the sewer bay, showed them the sewer hose and managed to explain what we needed. No problem! He told us to dump into the same place the first guy told us we could not. Without being too graphic we explained there was more in there than gray water but they said it was connected to the sewer system and did not matter.

The grounds manager guided me back and held the hose while I pulled the lever. I warned him as best I could to be careful and that it was going to stink, which it did. He just laughed and helped me put the hose away. He earned his $20 peso tip!

In the end it turned out the woman at the desk did not understand RV's but had seen the movie "RV" and thought we had one of "those" accidents and needed help. I would pity the poor maid assigned THAT task if that had indeed been the case. I doubt if $20 pesos would have made THAT problem go away!

When you RV in Mexico, there is never a dull moment! Life is good!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Visitor!

We had a visit from our friend Les today. He is spending the winter in nearby San Miguel de Allende where he supports two little Mexican girls. This is a busy time for him but he caught a bus down here to Queretaro and spent a few pleasant hours with us. Norma made a great lunch and then Les and I spent an hour in the pool speaking of manly things. There is a lot of "between the lines" stuff on Les' Blog and I pried as much as I could out of him. Thanks for coming down Les. It was great to see you!

He left at about 4:30, we cleaned up, Skyped both grand daughters and Norma's brother, had dinner and now I am watching the Canucks. A great day!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Mexican "The Night Before Christmas"

From My Friend Les' Blog:

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through la casa,
Not a creature was stirring, I wondered, que pasa?
I was hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado,
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
My brothers and I went to sleep in our camas,
Some in long underwear, and some in piyamas.
When out in the yard there arose such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked afuera.
And who in the world do you think quien era?
St. Nick in a sleigh and a big sombrero
Came dashing along like a little bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados,
Were eight little burros, approaching volados.
I watched as they came, and this fat little hombre
Was shouting and whistling, and calling by nombre:
Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuca, ay Beto!
Ay Chata, ay Chopo, Maruca y Nieto!
Then standing erect, with his hands on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.
Then huffing and puffing, a little cansado,
He picked up a bag that looked muy pesado.
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad:
Merry Christmas a todos ... feliz navidad!

Christmas Eve In Queretaro

The streets were filled with thousands of happy families! We wandered, talked to people, shopped, ate... You get the idea! Here is Restaurante Bar 1810 where I found "authentic" Pescado Veracruzana. It was worth the two year wait!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas y Feliz Navidad from Mexico!

Merry Christmas everyone and Feliz Navidad a todos nuestros amigos Mexicanos! 

Norma and I went to the Plaza de Armas here in Queretaro tonight and mixed with thousands of happy Mexican families. We had a great meal and met Ashley, a single traveler from South Africa. It was a wonderful evening.

The following is lifted from our Mexican friends Chris and Juan's Blog. I couldn't agree with them more!

This is my favorite Christmas song.  Thanks so much to John Lennon and Yoko Ono for doing this, the message brings home the true meaning of what Christmas is for me.  Let's hope the new year brings this war to an end here in Mexico.








I Survived!

I am feeling much better today and am ready to experiment with living again! Maybe a trip to nearby Bernal or a taxi ride to the Centro Histoico later on in the day. A nice meal out would be nice. We will make that huge decision over breakfast.

Friday, December 23, 2011

More Than You Wanted To Know!

They say, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall" and that is true with me. For three days any toilet activity was just wishful thinking and yesterday I started the opposite problem! I spent yesterday mostly laying on the bed watching TV and today does not look much more promising!

We had planned a road trip to the nearby "Pueblo Magico" of Bernal but it just might be on hold for a day or two. As bad as it is, it could be worse!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1825 Meters = 5990 Feet

That is the altitude of Queretaro! This is what gives us the cool nights that make it so east to sleep. Temperatures for this week will be +/- 25C (77F) in the daytime and +/- 10C (50F) at night. Perfect weather and similar to our summers at home.

You do notice this altitude when walking. I thought it was my age but I think it is the rarefied oxygen at this altitude. I am getting used to it now but I found myself slightly out of breath after a long walk or serious activity when we first arrived. Now, I am actually quite comfortable living at this altitude and I am sure it is good for me.

It is also noticeable when drinking coffee. Water boils at a lower temperature up here so coffee is not as hot as it is at sea level and cools down quickly. For someone who loves hot coffee this is a great inconvenience :).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Norma’s Day

Today Norma wanted to hang around our end of the city and get her nails and feet done. She talked to one of the women at the desk who recommended a close by place so we set off walking. Norma lucked out by finding a great place (hands $150 pesos and feet $120 pesos) and Croft lucked out by making friends with the enchanting daughter of the owner! We spent a good hour drawing, Play-Doh’ing and teaching each other words for colors in Spanish and English. What a charmer she was! Every time Norma looked over to watch us the little girl (Danica or “Dana” for short) yelled “No Peeka”, which I am sure meant just as it sounded, “No Peeking”.


Monday, December 19, 2011

La Corregidora

Queretaro was one of the Cradles of the 1810 Mexican War of Independence. It was the site of much of the preliminary planning and many of the conspirators lived or visited here. One of these insurgents was María Josefa Cresencia Ortiz y Girón, popularly known as Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez or La Corregidora (April 19, 1773 – March 2, 1829). She was the wife of the Spanish appointed Magistrate of Queretaro and lived with her husband in the white casa below. She was very sympathetic to the plight of the aboriginal people of Mexico who were being very badly treated by the Spanish. She began to hold “Literary Study Group” meetings in her house where books and documents banned by the Catholic Church were studied and discussed. These meetings soon turned to discussions of revolution. Present at many of these meetings were the Catholic Priest Miguel Hidalgo and the Spanish Capt. Ignatio Allende.

Her activities eventually drew the attention of the local Spanish commander and she came under suspicion. Placed under house arrest and confined to her quarters, she still overheard a meeting in her house where she learned of the imminent arrest of Father Hidalgo. She is said to have passed the information to a fellow conspirator on a rolled up piece of paper passed through the keyhole of her house. The information was quickly taken to Father Hidalgo in Dolores (now Dolores Hidalgo) and Capt. Allende in nearby San Miguel (now San Miguel de Allende), Hidalgo issued his Grito “Cry for Independence” and the eleven year long Revolution began a few days earlier than was planned. 

Dona Josefa was jailed for several years for her part in the conspiracy until she was released under an oath that she would refrain from supporting the rebellion, a promise she never kept. She is recognized as one of the Heroes Of The Revolution.


Plaza de Armas, Queretaro

Yesterday we took a $35 peso taxi ride to the centro. It was good we did not try to drive because it is very congested and confusing in the historical center of town. Taxis are the way to go in Mexican towns. They are generally very cheap but research must be done beforehand. In this case I asked the hotel desk how much they should charge and was told “no more than $40 pesos”. The actual charge was less but I added a $5 peso tip. We were dropped off right at the popular Plaza de Armas and spent the day enjoying the sights, smells, food, coffee and most important, the people!


We walked for an hour or two and then stopped in a streetside restaurant for a brunch of crepes. It was very good and just enough to keep us going. Later in the day we passed Maria y Su Bici “Maria And Her Bicycle”, an interesting looking restaurant specializing in Oaxaquena cuisine. Not being ready for dinner, we opted for a margarita. It was unlike anything we have ever seen! It was blue colored and served in a pottery bowl. It was made with mescal and was served with an extra shot of mescal on the side. The very personable maître de came to explain the process to us. We were to make a “wish” or “prayer” while he picked up the shot glass and repeated a chant while touching four sides of the bowl. He then asked us to tip our heads back while he poured the shot of mescal into our mouth. Lots of fun! He invited us back on the 24th when they will be serving a traditional Oaxacan Christmas dinner.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hotel Flamingo Inn – Queretaro

Here is our home for the rest of the year. There is room for three or four RV’s to park alongside the lawn and swimming pool area. There is good 15 amp power at a fairly steady 120 volts for each unit and water through a very long green hose is available to fill your fresh water tank. There is a dump about fifty feet behind the motorhome that I can back up to when I need to dump. There are immaculate washrooms and showers available by the pool so I hope to make the waste tanks last for at least a week or ten days. There was a conference in the hotel today but normally there are few cars parked along this road inside the gated hotel grounds.

The WIFI is excellent and requires a code that they gave me at the desk. There is a gym that we were offered a key for but turned down. The pool is very clean and warm although shaded most of the day by trees and buildings. When I went for my shower the desk gave me huge towels to use. All the reception staff and many of the grounds workers speak English. This is a great place! The cost is $250 pesos ($18.60) per night.

Norma noticed two of the workers washing a car yesterday and arranged for them to come over after their shift today to wash the motorhome and car for $350 pesos ($26). They will be here any minute and I will have to caution them against bumping into the StarChoice dish as it was a pain to set up this time.

Well, that was the best wash job we have ever had done! They were at it for over two hours, washing, drying and doing all the windows. They only got the motorhome done tonight before it got dark and will return tomorrow to do the car. Life is good.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Celaya Cheese Factory

Two years ago we found this great queso factory on Mex 45D as it approaches Celaya. I have been thinking of it ever since and yesterday I had my chance to revisit it! They have a large selection and are happy to hand out generous sized samples of everything. Norma found a couple of “chico” (small, 500 gram) sized rounds she liked and I added two portions of my favorite heavily smoked cheese! We walked out with almost five pounds of quesos for under $170 pesos. This, along with the Tillamook cheddar and pepper jack cheese (thanks Kelsi) we bought in Washington, will keep us going for some time.
Cheese FactoryCheese

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Safe And Sound In Queretaro

It was a short drive today to Queretaro and the Hotel Flamingo Inn. When we got within ten KM of the hotel we stopped at a Pemex and asked if we could park there for two hours while we checked out the access to the hotel as it is actually in the city. There was no problem so we tipped the two pump guys to watch the motorhome while we unloaded the car and drove the route. The entrance to the hotel parking lot is on the "wrong" side of the street so we had to go around several blocks to approach it from the right direction and it looked like there was no problem for us getting in. The church's book warns against rigs over 25 feet long but we pulled in with the car and dolly attached, making us an even 49 feet. It was a little tight but nothing like our unplanned trip through that #$@&*% town yesterday!

Back we went for the motorhome and duplicated our route to the hotel. The hotel has a central lawn area with lamp posts. Each lamp post has a 15 amp electrical outlet and we parked between two bushes with our slide out over the lawn. There is room for three or four RV's to park. The friendly staff told us they would give us a hose whenever we wanted our water tank filled and there is a dump station at the end of the driveway. We booked for two weeks and that will take us to December 29. We will probably add a few more days on the end because who wants to drive on New Years Eve? The cost is $250 pesos ($18.60) per night. Pretty reasonable and is (a long) walk to the centro.

We set up the Starchoice but could not get a good enough signal for the HD channels. Maybe it is the surrounding buildings causing some multipath, I don't know. It is not a big deal and I may try again tomorrow with the dish in a different place. Not a big deal as we get all the SD channels.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Norma enjoyed her pepper beef medallions but I found nothing on the menu for a vegetarian (pescaterian) to eat. There was no fish of any description on the menu so I was happy with Quesadillas and cesar salad. The bill was $445 pesos after a glass of wine each. A little steep but it is a hotel restaurant after all.

We will rest up tomorrow and then do a little exploring. I will post photos of the hotel grounds. You will be impressed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Villa Corona to ?

Well, this was a day I am not anxious to repeat!

We left Villa Corona at about 10:30 and headed for Guadalajara and the highway to Queretaro. Ms. Garmin wanted us to drive through the center of the second largest city in Mexico but lucky for me mom didn't raise any dumb kids so I turned onto the periferico and ignored all her pleas to turn around. she finally caught on and directed us to take Mex 15D. Norma was looking at the maps and thought we should be on Mex 90 but Ms. Garmin had our destination locked in and both highways headed east so we let her do her thing. Bad decision!

After a hundred KM or so she told us to turn left onto a narrow secondary road that connects with Mex 90. This road went through a small town on the way. When I say through, I mean through! The road got narrow and by the time I passed the "No Trucks Allowed" sign I was committed! We were on a very busy, narrow street with cars double parked and trucks unloading. Cars and buses were trying to pass me on the right but there was no room so they just beeped their horns. Ms Garmin then told me to turn left onto an impossibly narrow street and I had no choice but to ignore her. She objected loudly and then told me to turn right onto an almost as narrow street heading steeply downhill. The street ahead was getting even more congested as it got closer to the center of town so I turned down the hill. Luckily there was little traffic coming towards me as I took up 2/3 of the street and I could see a divided avenue at the bottom. Sure enough she now told me to turn onto that thankfully much wider street. We crawled along behind dozens of trucks for a good hour until we got on the road headed to Mex 90. We arrived at a 24 hour Pemex that has lots of parking and stopped for the night. I have no idea where we are. It looks like we will be safe here and I will walk over th the gas bar when the night shift starts and give them some pesos to watch out for us.

It is 91F outside and 81F inside.

I know your day was better than ours! Good night!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Market Day!

Tuesday is Market Day in Villa Corona! We did some wandering, a little shopping and I found some fresh squeezed orange juice for $18 pesos ($1.40) per liter, poured into my own bottle.


Norma got her hair cut and eyebrows done for $80 pesos ($6) total. She says to tell you they use tweezers, not wax. I guess that is better. Labour is undervalued in Mexico.


Lazy Days

The weather is so perfect here that we have decided to stay one more day! Tuesday is Market Day in the Puebla of Villa Corona so we will go and have a look at that. Then we will have a swim and showers. I will post photos of the market.

I just checked Weather Underground and the weather in our next stop, Queretaro, is about the same as here. It is averaging 25-26C in the day and 10-12C at night. Pretty perfect weather if you ask me!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Norma Insisted

Norma insisted that I jump up on an absolutely gorgeous Mexican woman’s bed. Well, what could I say? For a half an hour she could not keep her hands off me! It took me back to the old days! I love Mexico!

There IS a bathing suit under the blanket! She pulled it down a little so she could get at more of me!


Villa Corona, The Town

By Mexican standards, Villa Corona is a fairly small place. It has everything you need, a bank, a bakery and several small stores although no big grocery stores. For that you have to drive the twenty kilometers or so to Walmart or Mega on the highway to Guadalajara. There is a well-worn church and a popular square or jardine in the center of town. There are a couple of decent restaurants if you search them out.