Chunk 2: Xilitla & Hotel Tapasoli

Chunk 2: Xilitla & Hotel Tapasoli

Ok, since I have a little time, I’m going to fill in the blanks about my winter vacation. As you know, one of the teachers (Jodi) from the TEFL program in Puerto Vallarta come to visit us in Querétaro. She and I took a driving vacation to some of the most amazing places. Here’s where we started:

The Road to Xilitla & Hotel Taposoli

A little map to help you see where we went!

Jodi ran into some travel problems right off the bat. There was some kind of weather problem in Mexico city and she was unable to leave on the day she planned. She wasn’t alone. Quite a few tourists were also stranded. Of course, she at least could go home and try again the following day.

Once again, however, there were problems with the flights–delays, cancelations, etc. — so I took it on myself to see what I could do. Ultimately, I was able to find her a flight that eliminated having to go through Mexico City, but it meant she would have to spend the night in Guadalajara and leave first thing in the morning.

Since she was now delayed by two days, our new plans involved leaving for Xilitla immediately from the airport.

Jodi Donna Road to Xilitla
Photo op!

The road to Xilitla was long — about 4 hours plus some time for photos and food. It was a little nerve-wracking for me to drive into the Mexican countryside. This country has a bad reputation when it comes to traveling in certain areas. Fortunately for us, we were heading into a very popular vacation area in the mountains.

Delicious Margarita

If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought we were driving around some areas of the west, particularly in Idaho, where the elevation reduces the amount of tall trees. It was a perfect day to drive, and we made very good time, stopping only a few times to take photos.

A beautiful lookout. Unfortunately, it was not well maintained. What you can’t see in the photo is that, behind the cross & building, people have used this spot to dump garbage.

We did stop in one small town for a bite to eat. Wow. I can honestly say it was the best meal we had on the trip.

Restaurant Carretas

Amazing seafood, especially considering it is about as far away from the ocean as possible! The margaritas were also spectacular. I hope I get to visit this place again sometime.

 

View of the valley from the cross overlook.

 

Strategic Choices

When we planned the trip, we decided to stay in “interesting” hotels wherever possible. We were not disappointed. In Xilitla, we chose Hotel Tapasoli. The photos made it look like a visit to Hobbiton. We weren’t disappointed! While we didn’t stay in one of the hobbit houses, we still had an amazing stay.

Hotel Tapasoli
One of the “hobbit house” rooms at Hotel Tapasoli

We met a couple of nice people in the parking lot that invited us to see there hobbit room, which was right on the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view of the valley. There was another couple there too, enjoying the view over a glass of wine or two. We were invited to join the gang. Of course, we had brought some wine on the trip with us, so we added it to the festivities.

Hotel Tapasoli Breakfast
Breakfast with Alfredo and Evie

The couple we met were very from San Luis Potosí, a small city that was on our “to do” list for the trip. Of course, we talked about places to go, people to see, and politics. Alfredo’s English was excellent, so the conversation was quite animated. He and Jodi got into it over Trump. I tried to stay neutral and calmer, but watching the exchange was very entertaining.

The following day, we met them again at the hotel restaurant — a lovely deck with a great view. The food was amazing! I had chilaquiles, the local breakfast choice. It is a combination of tortilla chips, eggs, beans, rice and whatever else you want, with red or green salsa. It is hard to describe, but absolutely delicious!

Chilaquiles

After breakfast, we headed to Jardín Escultorio de Eduard James, a famous sculpture garden in the jungle. Of course, google and apple maps both failed me in the GPS area. We managed to get a little lost, but not too badly. After all, as in most mountain towns, there is only one main road. Once you find that, you’re golden.

The Jardín is amazing! Acres and acres of amazing buildings and sculptures designed just for this place. Lots of steps, though, so if you have bad knees, you may want to just buy a photo book.

I did buy a few things here: a T-shirt for Lyn and a small, hanging parrot for our new house.

 

Jardín Escultorio de Edward James
Jodi in the Jardín Escultoria de Edward James

We ended the day by heading to our next venue — Tamasopo — where we were looking forward to experiencing the amazing blue waterfalls. Stay tuned. We’ll cover that in Chunk 3.

 

 

 

 

The Anglo

The Anglo

Last time I posted, I mentioned that Lyn and I were going to Mexico City so I could sign my contract with The Anglo. The day consisted of two three-hour bus rides and one almost and hour meeting. All-in-all, fairly uneventful, yet very interesting. I was very glad that Lyn went with me. After all of the horror stories I heard about Mexico City, I really didn’t want to make the trip alone.

Of course, all the talk was just that. the trip went quite smoothly with absolutely no drama.

The Bus

The bus line we chose was Primera Plus. It’s considered the best line for this type of trip, and now I know why. You wouldn’t believe just how luxurious this bus was!

  • The seats reclined considerably.
  • The head rests cradled you head so you could easily sleep without that nasty crick you get on airplanes.
  • The windows had sunscreens and curtains.
  • There were “leg rests” that you could use to support your legs in a comfortable position.
  • They gave you complementary food and drinks before you got on the plane.
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Lyn and Donna on the bus.

In addition to the fancy bus, the bus station in both Querétaro and in Mexico City was as fancy as most airports, complete with shops, dining options, cafés, and waiting areas. Not only that, but they took security seriously, with metal detectors and security guards that checked you going out to the buses and before you boarded.

Impressive.

The Anglo Antonio Caso

The Anglo is amazing. The school we visited was in the middle of their summer programs. Lots of kids wandering about. The Antonio Caso branch is also where the administrative offices are located. To get there by taxi took about 10 minutes. The cabs in Mexico City are pink and white. The driver, of course, was amazingly friendly and gave us advice as to what to do once my meeting was over.

Once we got to the school, we were escorted into the administrative offices, where I met with the HR director, Alex. What a sweet young man, and very professional. We had spoken over Skype and by phone, so I knew what he looked like, although he was taller than I expected.

Mostly our meeting involved reviewing documents and signing them. Not much to talk about. We did cover some policies and procedures (code of ethics, professional standards, etc.), and once again he reviewed the very ample salary and benefits.

Mexico City

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Museo de la Revolución

After the meeting, Lyn and I followed the recommendations of our taxi driver and walked to the Museo de la Revolucion. It occupies a large square surrounded by cafés, restaurants, businesses and stores. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant right on the corner opposite the museum, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

I can’t remember what I ate, but it was yummy. Lyn had a beautiful paella. Really beautiful. The only issue was that the seafood adorning it came complete with heads and bodies — shrimp, crabs, mussels, etc. Lyn couldn’t quite handle it, so he mostly ate the rice. I completely get it; I’m one of those people who can’t look at my food “whole” either. He usually isn’t bothered by that, though. Oh well.

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so after lunch we wandered around the square a bit then headed back to the bus station. On that particular day, Bic (the pen company) was hosting an enormous coloring activity on the grounds. People were lined up to get in. I believe it was a promotion for a new line of colored pens.

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Bic Coloring Promo

Since our dogs were left unattended, we decided not to dally too long. We had left the door to the garden open for them, but they get nervous after more than a few hours. We didn’t want to give them a reason to misbehave.

Mexico City has a population over 25 million people. It is HUGE! While we didn’t see very much of it, we did see enough to make us want to return when we have a few days to really explore. It isn’t like NYC with all of the skyscrapers, although we did see some. It is more sprawling. From what we’ve been told, there are many “neighborhoods” where you can live and work and never need to travel beyond them.

Start Date

Back to my new job…

Technically, I started today, although I had an orientation session on Tuesday. There is a lot to know. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, but overall, I know I made a good decision.

I’ve been working with the Academic Director, Hector, who is delightful. He is kind, organized, patient and professional. He will be my mentor over the next few months.

My first class will start on Saturday, August 25th. It’s an adult group of intermediate students. I now have most of the materials and will be reviewing them (over and over and over) prior to class. Plus, this coming Saturday, I will be sitting in on an existing class. I’m quite nervous, but also sure that I will be just fine. I’m always nervous when I start something new.

Lyn

Meanwhile, while all this is going on for me, Lyn has also been looking for a different job. He really would like to go back to his roots and teach Math, but those positions aren’t readily available, at least not that we can tell.

He did, however, get a call from a private school in the area, Sun Hills Valley, that has a really big campus just outside of town. When he originally interviewed, they  didn’t have an appropriate position. Since then, though, they had an opening for an English teacher and have interviewed him a second time. He’s had to take some psychometric tests, as well.

His one disappointment was the pay. While more than Globoworld, it isn’t much more and the workload is a lot more. It is a formal school where he would teach four 7th grade English classes every week day. The advantages are things like summers and weekends off. But the pay was a stumbling block for him.

I suggested that he counter the offer, which he did. They are discussing it, and Lyn should have an answer by tomorrow. With his Ph.D. and teaching experience, I feel fairly certain they will do their best to meet his request.

Phew. If all of that comes together, we will actually be making a reasonable amount of money on which to live. My extra students, freelance work and pension will go a long way to keeping us comfortable here, and maybe even let us put some money back into our savings.

The Weather

I do believe rainy season is here. We’ve been having thunderstorms every night. They are quite frightening! The lightning comes down in streaks just like in those fancy photos of lightning storms. And the thunder is so loud it shakes the buildings. On top of that, it doesn’t just rain — we have a deluge! Some places get hail, which is odd given the climate here. But the rain! I don’t know where the water goes. Near our friends house, the torrents actually blasted a cement sewer cover five feet in the air. The road took a beating, too.

Poor Sophie is really struggling with the storms. She shakes almost uncontrollably at the slightest hint of rain and has taken to  hiding as far away from windows and doors as is possible. I think if she could get under the furniture, that’s where she would go. Alas, she’s a bit too big for that.

Izzy could care less.

Hmm. I guess we are all still getting acclimated to our new environment. At least now there is a rainbow in sight!

 

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter

OMG, it has been a hell of a few weeks, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Job

First, I am excited to say that I have been offered a new teaching position at The Anglo Mexican Foundation. I am very excited to be starting there in the near future. I don’t have an official start date yet, but I’m expecting it to be sometime around the 20th of August.

Of course, everything here is a process. While we are permanent residents of Mexico, questions about whether we need additional work visas was a questions. Turns out, we don’t. Phew. I was really dreading having to go back to Immigration!

However, I did need to go online and register with more government agencies and get the Mexican equivalent of a Social Security Number.

The new job is very similar to my current position. That is, it will have a split schedule, as the students are primarily working adults that can only attend classes early in the morning or after school or work. I will also be working Saturdays, as I am now. That’s okay too.

The real benefit is the dramatically increased salary, paid vacations and holidays, savings plans, life and health insurance, a month’s vacation each year, and a paid round-trip ticket (up to $750) anywhere I want to go at the end of the contract year.

The Anglo has been around for 75 years. They have 8 schools in 4 cities. The school in Querétaro is brand new. It has 20 classrooms well equipped with monitors, white boards, and materials. They have a rooftop cafe and a bookstore on the lower floor. They have both an academic director and administrative director, as well as staff to handle the day-to-day operations.

I am so excited to get this opportunity!

Car

Second, this week I successfully obtained license plates (placas) for our car. I am very excited about this, especially since it means that we can now take trips around the region and explore. This weekend, we may go to Peña de Bernal. I understand the monument is interesting and the town is quite charming. They have a reputation for good gorditas and beer. I’ll let you know!

Other

Last week was a bit problematic. Not only did Lyn lose his phone, but I had a terrible experience with a student. This week, I lost my car keys. Aargh. This won’t come as a big surprise to those of you who know me. I can’t keep track of anything when I’m feeling rattled. Fortunately, we have two keys, and another one can be obtained from the Honda dealer.

I also learned this week from a cab driver that Mexico offers discounts to people over 60 through their Instituto National Por Adultos Mayores (INPAM). I believe it was going to get this discount card that I lost my keys. I did get the card, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use it toward the fees on my license plates because it did not have my full name on it. Here, everything has to match.

At the time I got it, I was so consumed with checking the spelling of my middle name (Porretto, aka my maiden name) that I forgot to look to see that my last name (Geisler) was there! Oh well.

Sunrise over Querétaro

The sunrise this morning was fabulous. See the photo above as well.

Come visit me, peeps! Miss you all.

 

 

 

 

 

Where does the time go?

Where does the time go?

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything here for weeks! Of course, when I was sick, I didn’t have much to say. However, a lot has happened since then. Let’s see if I can remember it all.

First, I’m still not entirely better. Now I think it is just allergies. While I tested positive for cats, dogs and dust, I also know by experience that I am allergic to molds and mildew. I know this because every rainy season, my allergies go into overdrive. When I lived in Virginia, I was alway sick at Thanksgiving (November), because that was when all the leaves had fallen and were decomposing everywhere. In California, it was in the spring, when it rained the most. Here, I’m not exactly sure about the seasonal conditions, but I know it has been raining a lot, mostly at night, when it’s cooler. The mornings are lovely, but a bit damp, and I think this may be the cause of my continued snottiness and congestion. I still get that pain in my cheekbones and scratchy throat, although now it is probably due to postnasal drip. Nevertheless, it is quite annoying.

Just for fun!

For a little while, I was able to function quite well without having to take allergy meds. Now I’m back to it, every day. Sinus wash, allegra, nasal steroids. Life with allergies. I guess it is better than the constant feeling that I’m getting sick.

Rainy Season

We knew there was a rainy season here in Querétaro, although no one could really say exactly when that was. When it first started raining every night, we were told that it wasn’t rainy season, just storms from the Pacific. We had a few rainy days, but typically, the days are bright and sunny, just like back in Boise.

Querétaro reminds me so much of Boise. Just bigger. The main exception is that you don’t see as many people out riding bikes and running, and there are no paths through the hills for hikers and their dogs. I miss that. Still, people here are creative about how they exercise.

Yesterday, I saw some women in the park working out with soda bottles as weights. There was a group of them working out together. Cheaper than the gym, right? I am still hopeful that I will be able to join a tennis club at some point. I just need a little more money!

Back to rainy season.

A street in El Refugio during a rainstorm.

When it rains, it pours. Literally. I’ve never seen so much rain collect on the streets! Drainage here is problematic, although they have these enormous ditches everywhere, which I assume are to help. Still, the water comes so hard and fast, that the roads become rivers. The manhole covers can’t handle all the rain and turn into veritable fountains! If this isn’t rainy season, I’m a little worried…

Retirement/Pension

Speaking of which, I finally received the application I needed in order to receive my pension from Circuit City. This was the one thing I got out of my too many years of marriage to my first husband, and I’m determined to collect it. Of course, since Circuit City bellied-up years ago, the pension is being managed by the government. Can you say “red tape”?

The agency in charge — PBGC — Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp — actually contacted me in January, before we left for Mexico. They asked me to fill out a form online in order to determine my monthly benefit. After that, I never heard anything.

When I called, they told me I needed now to apply for the benefits, and that could be done online. So, I looked. I couldn’t find anything. Of course, during this time, I was leaving for Mexico to take the TEFL course, preparing our house for sale, and doing all of the things necessary for our upcoming adventure. Needless to say, I ran out of time.

In February, after we returned from the course and during the 10-days between that and closing and moving back to Mexico (yikes), I tried to call again and was told I had to go online. Still, I was unable to find anywhere where I could actually apply for the benefits.

Hence, we moved. Once again I went online, only to get no information. On the website it said that I could apply by phone, so I called again. We are in April at this point. The woman I spoke with told me that I could not apply on line because there were forms to sign and documents that needed to be provided. They would send me the application by mail.

If you’ve been following this saga along, you know that mail here is complicated. The last thing I had FedExed to me took two weeks, and the mail can take months. After this explanation, they suggested I change my address to a US address (a friend’s, etc.) and they could then fax or email me the documents. (However, the agency could not. Huh?) So that’s what I did.

My friend, Mary, back in Boise, did receive a notice of the change of address for me. She has been patiently waiting every since for the actual application, which, by the way, arrived here on Tuesday, July 10th. The letter inside was dated May 11, and the previous letter that had been returned to PBGC was dated March 10.

Holy cannolies Batman! Needless to say, Mary never received the application. Fortunately, we did. I still don’t understand what the issue was. All that needed to be attached was proof of my birthdate, via copy of my passport. There was one place that needed to be signed and dated. Other than that, which I could have done with my PDF app, there was nothing of real consequence. Just stupid bureaucracy!

I had the application completed and ready to mail back to them within 10 minutes. There is a FedEx office across the street from our neighborhood. So, in less than two days, the application was completed and returned. Will someone please tell me why this had to take more than six months? I just don’t get it.

That said, I should be getting a nice sum of money shortly (whatever that means), as they owe me retroactively to last April (2017).

Now I need to get my body back in tennis-playing shape, so once it arrives, I can join a club and get started! Gosh, I miss it!

Socialization

The other new thing for me is that I found someone to go out with. Laurie is a fellow teacher at Globoworld. She is a few years younger than I am, but a lot closer than the other teachers there. Last week, she and I went out on a Friday night to one of the plazas near where she lives in El Centro. We drank a bottle of wine and ate a local version of french fries. Delish!

We had so much fun we are doing it again tonight. I’m not sure how good an idea it is to go out on Friday the 13th, especially with a supermoon expected, but what the heck. A girl needs a little girl time and wine! I haven’t been drinking a lot of wine lately. It is too expensive on our budget to keep a bottle in the fridge. Now it is a special treat when I’m out with friends or for dinner with Lyn, not that that happens too often.

La Truckeria

Valet parking at La Truckeria!

Last Saturday night, our friends Tom and Tiffany (www.epicureanexpats.com) joined us for dinner at La Truckeria, a food truck place right near our house. We also invited our neighbors, Victor and Guiliana, to join us. It was a lot of fun.

These food truck places are very interesting. Both of the ones we’ve visited have been similar — they are largely outdoors although within a gated area closed off from the street. In the center, there is a bar, and around the outside of the courtyard, there are food trucks and small buildings where people prepare food. There is a waiter that brings the various menus and you select what you want to eat and drink, and they bring it to you.

The entrance to La Truckeria

The tables are set around the bar and everything is outside. At La Truckeria, there was a small swing set and slide for kids. This came in handy, as Victor and Guiliana brought their two children, one of whom is about 4 years old. The adults took turns taking him to “the park” and swinging him.

The food was good and plentiful. I ordered ribs, envisioning ribs like they serve at Applebees. I was mistaken, though. They were HUGE and quite meaty. We also had shrimp tacos with cheese, which we grew to love when we lived in Puerto Vallarta. We ate them everyday there! The kids had pizza and pasta, and Tom and Tiffany ordered something that currently wasn’t available, so I think Tiffany had a shrimp taco and Tom just had a margarita. Now that’s my kind of meal!

 

 

 

 

Out and about, and more…

Out and about, and more…

Lyn and I finally had a chance to go downtown and have dinner at a “local” restaurant. The restaurant — Marie y su bici — was recommended by some of my students. It is a very authentic Mexican restaurant that still serves some traditional dishes (one I call a “bowl of bugs”), along with some delicious tacos and barbecued meats.

Needless, we stayed with the more common dishes. I’m not one for exotic food, especially anything with the word “insects” in the title.

My drink at Marie y su bici

I did try one of their Mezcallina drinks, which are served in a ceramic bowl. The one I had included half of an orange, half of a grapefruit, and some lemon. It was okay. Not as juicy as I had hoped.

Lyn outside Marie y su bici Querétaro
Lyn outside Marie y su bici

Overall, we liked the restaurant, especially the decor and ambiance. Service was a bit slow — we had practically finished dinner before our drinks came — but otherwise, it was a very pleasant experience. I’m sure my foodie friends Tom and Tiffany will love it! They are a lot more adventurous than I am.

More Americans in Querétaro

After dinner, we wandered down to Hank’s for a nightcap and dessert. There, I overheard some people at a nearby table speaking English. I couldn’t help myself; I just had to go over and introduce myself. Turns out it was a young couple and their parents. The couple turned out to be fellow teachers who were about to embark on another country change. This time, they were relocating to Freeport, Bahamas. The woman, Julie, had been in Queretaro for almost 10 years, and her significant other, nearly as long. The two met at work. He teaches economics and she is an English teacher. They both have been teaching at the American school here.

I don’t know if you recall, but Lyn interviewed there not too long ago for a position teaching math. Turns out, the school will have some openings (at least one in English and one in economics). Julie encouraged me to apply and to say I had spoken with her.

The other position I interviewed for is still up in the air. I had two interviews last week. If they are interested, I will need one more interview, this time, locally. Fingers crossed!

I am feeling encouraged these days that something that pays more will be available in the not-too-distant future. We have been very frugal and still struggle to live within our current earnings. I have been freelancing a bit, which will help. I just started, though, so no income yet.

Retirement

Another update:  I did finally call about my Circuit City pension. Of course, they couldn’t take the application to receive benefits over the phone and insisted they had to mail it. Well, you know, mail here takes for-EVER! So, I asked them to send it to my friend, Mary, in Boise, who has been kind enough to be my forwarding address for these past few months.

I am still in the process of updating my address with various places. It takes quite a while, first to get through, then to explain, and then actually get the job done. I’ve been worried that it would impact our credit, which has slowed the process a bit. So far, though, all is well.

I’m just hoping it doesn’t take too long to get everything processed. Once Mary receives the application, she will scan and send it to me via email, after which I have to complete it and provide a number of documents, which, of course, means snail mail. (I will probably use DHL.) Hopefully, it won’t take months to complete the process.

Once I get that pension, things will be a little better. Apparently, they have to issue me money retroactively to April 2017, so the first chunk should be decent. And, because of the exchange rate, what may seem to be a drop in the bucket (about $250), is, for us, like getting a third pay check each month. My freelance income this month will add an entire month’s pay, too. Phew.

Things are definitely looking up.

The kids say “hello!”

Poodles (and Jack) lounging around
“Hello!”

 

Easter in Querétaro

Easter in Querétaro

So much to say, today, but first, I want to focus on my Sophie Poodle.

It is Easter here. Ninety-plus percent of the people in Mexico are Catholic. That makes Easter one of the biggest holidays of the year, here. In Querétaro, most businesses shut down from Thursday to Sunday. People are everywhere! Strolling down the streets, hanging out in the plazas with their families, shopping — you name it. They are out there doing it.

In addition to the locals, there are a lot of tourists from around Mexico and beyond taking in the sites. Festivities range from street fairs and church events to concerts and frequent fireworks. This is where poor Sophie’s story begins.

Fireworks

Being downtown is a blessing and a curse. It is great to be within walking distance of all the colonial buildings, plazas and historic sites, but it also means that we can hear everything. While I love the sound of the cathedral bells, the street musicians, and the crowing of the local rooster, there are some sounds that are not as pleasant.

For example, they are always working on the streets, and every night you can hear music from the plazas and various arenas around the area, sometimes well past midnight. Since Wednesday night — the start of the Easter holiday week — they have been setting off fireworks. Sometimes during the day, the construction involves destruction. It frequently sounds like things exploding or guns being fired. These noises have Sophie absolutely terrified!

For a big dog, she’s quite a baby when it comes to things she doesn’t understand. She starts shaking uncontrollably, which leads to heavy panting, followed by attempting to hide in a corner, or more likely, my lap. We have tried giving her some Xanax the the veterinarian gave us, but it doesn’t do much good. So we just try to comfort her the best we can. Poor baby!

Izzy, meanwhile, could care less. I’m hoping today will be the end of it so Sophie can relax a little before we send her off to the boarder Monday night. Yep, another big stressor. She hates riding in the car. At least she doesn’t scream like her sister. I feel sorry for these people who will  be taking care of them while we are in Texas. We will only be gone two days, but the dogs will be at the boarders for three nights, due to the timing of our flights. I’m sure they will all be fine. I just worry about them.

San Miguel de Allende

Yesterday, we took a drive in our new car to San Miguel de Allende. We’ve heard so much about it. It is only about an hour’s drive from here, although newbies that we are, we missed the turn off and had to go a little farther (duh).

First view of the cathedral
First view of the cathedral

Easter weekend was not the best time to go there. There is a really big cathedral there where thousands of people flock for the holiday. The streets are very narrow and very steep. So much so, in fact, that the police stopped letting people drive into the town. We were pretty much forced to park our car on the outskirts of the area and walk. It didn’t help that we had no idea where we were going. Like sheep, we followed the herd into town, which led us down a VERY narrow and VERY steep street. The street was so steep, that a taxi trying to drive up it became stuck.

Poor Lyn has bad knees, and the walk down was not so much fun for him. We made it, though, and found the church. Of course, it was opposite a plaza, where there were food vendors and people selling charms, rosaries and what not. I bought a couple of things — a rosary made of paper beads and some key chains to send to friends for gifts.

It turned out that Tiffany and Tom were also in San Miguel for the weekend, so we arranged to meet them for lunch. We ate at a charming cafe called Correo. Of course, it was on the street named Correo as well. A small place, it held maybe 10 tables, all apparently filled by non-natives. Lots of Americans and, I assume Canadians.

The food was traditional Mexican and delicious. We had sopas to share — soft fluffy tortillas topped with chicken, cheese and tomatoes. Delicious! The hot sauces here are quite hot. Fortunately I had a large and tasty Sangria with vodka to wash it all down! For lunch, Lyn had steak and I had albondigas (meatballs) and rice.

San Miguel de Allende market
The market

Afterward, Tom and Tiffany took us to a local market. It was huge! Inside was everything from food to home decor. Lots of traditional Mexican ceramics, pewter and tile mirrors, and, of course, embroidered clothing and purses. I passed on the purchases, although I coveted many things. Our new house is fully decorated and I can’t imagine where I might put anything new!

Moving Progress

That said, we are almost completely moved in to our new house. We brought all but one box over the other day. Having a car is great! All of it fit in our new Fit. We will still have to get our clothes and other things over there this week.

We brought the car into town yesterday. It is parked in a secure lot, which, of course, isn’t open today. So, tomorrow I will try to get some other things moved over so that when we get back from Dallas on Wednesday, we will be able to bring the dogs and cats over there and start living.

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

In my last post, I told you that we had decided the order in which we should proceed:

1. Jobs

2. Place to live

3. Car

Well, so much for planning. On Thursday afternoon, we found a gorgeous house to rent in El Refugió, a housing development off Fray Juniper Serró, a little north of downtown. It is brand new and completely furnished, and approximately equidistant from Juriquilla, where I hope to be teaching, and the downtown area. There are small shops and the all-important OXXO (convenience store) along the edge of the community, which makes it very attractive as well.

I still haven’t heard back about the job/demo class. I am hopeful, but I will start to look other places next week. We really need to get to work! I know Lyn is quite anxious. I sent his CV off to the school, too. We will wait to hear on that one. This weekend we plan to work on his academic CV so he can start looking for university positions. That, naturally, would be his preference.

The New House

One of the things we really liked about it, was that it was very tastefully decorated. Everything was brand new and well coordinated. There is a small grassy garden area, which will be perfect for the dogs.

While it isn’t “big,” it has plenty of space, two floors, and three bedrooms. It is an attached house, so we share walls on both sides. The construction here is mostly brick and stucco, so you don’t really hear anything. The walls are just too solid.

The same is true here in our Airbnb. You would never know that we are right off a main street. Although, some nights, when there are things going on, you can hear the crowds roar. The sounds come over the top of the building and drift down into our garden area, which is open to the entire house. Since we never close the windows (why would you…the weather here is gorgeous), we can hear it quite clearly.

The rent is also very reasonable — $750 US a month. Of course that doesn’t include utilities, but those here are minimal. Electric and gas, mostly. Water right now is free because the community isn’t finished. There is also a swimming pool (yes!) and green spaces for walking our babies.

Friday Night in Querétaro

The city is very different at night, especially on Friday nights. Everyone is out walking in the plazas. There are musicians and performers everywhere, and the kiosks and stores stay open late. The church steeples are all lit up, too, making for lovely photo ops around every corner.

Last night, Lyn and I took a stroll as well. On one corner was a man playing a saxophone with some prerecorded music. He was really good! We listened for a while, and I took some pics and recorded a little bit. I wanted to include it here with my post so you can enjoy it as well; however, it is taking too much time figuring out how to do it. (Tell you what: I will post it as soon as I get it sorted out.)

Since we had already eaten, we decided to look for a place to get some flan. We walked down to Restaurant 1810, where we had eaten once before, and had a little flan and listened to more music. There are two musicians that set up right outside the restaurant to play. One plays sax and violin, and the other the piano. Unfortunately, there was a concert going on right behind them. It turned out to be a student band. They were very cute!

There were also some performers going into a building along the square, perhaps to rehearse for an upcoming performance.

Today I am going to try to get to an bazar of independiente artists and others that our Airbnb host has organized. We don’t have a car right now, so we will have to Uber it. It looks to be between here and where we usually go to shop at WalMart.

Don’t judge! It has everything we need plus groceries and you can’t beat the prices. It isn’t like some WalMarts in the US. It is clean and usually quite empty of people. It is located conveniently in a shopping center with a small mall, Petco and Sam’s Club. There is also a Costco here in Querétaro, but we haven’t found it yet.

The Poodles

We’ve been trying to get the dogs out and about at least once every day. It is hard here because the sidewalks are virtually nonexistent and the streets are extremely narrow. The other day, Izzy hopped off and was nearly hit by a taxi! Lyn gets very stressed whenever we take them out. We have to meander around the block to avoid the crowds on Juarez to get to Av. Universidades. There is a decent walking path there for the girls. We just go a few blocks and turn around. They are getting used to it, but Lyn isn’t. It is easier when I go by myself.

The girls have gotten a little shaggy, so we bought a clipper. I just trimmed their faces and feet for now. They look better. I bet they really miss Andrea (Wizard of Paws). I know I do.