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.

 

 

 

 

Felices Fiestas!

Felices Fiestas!

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat.

I’ve been putting pennies in the old men’s hats! This time of year, a lot more of the beggars are children. It makes me very sad. They wait at the corners and approach the cars while they are waiting for the light. I try to keep spare change in my car for them. Of course, you can’t give money to everyone, but I do my best to give to at least one person every day.

Lots of news from Querétaro!

Lyn

Lyn accepted a part-time position with UCO — the Universidad Contemporanea. Don’t be fooled; it isn’t a university. Rather, it is an IB preparatory school. Lyn will start teaching English two hours a week to prepare students for taking the IELTS exam. Passing this test is important for students going off to college. It is also one of the tests that many adults take in order to certify their English skills for various jobs.

I’m really thrilled he took it, even though it isn’t a lot of hours at first. There are several reasons:

1) He can get acclimated to the school at a slower pace. My understanding is that the school has rigorous requirements for the teachers as well as the students. Starting slowly will give Lyn plenty of time to get used to their process.

2) The school is located very close to The Anglo. In fact, it was my academic director who forwarded Lyn’s CV there. He and his wife, Paloma, have been lobbying for Lyn to get the job. UCO is about three blocks away.

3) In the fall there will be an opportunity for him to teach Math in English. I actually met the Math department head at The Anglo Christmas party. She is so excited that Lyn is going to be joining them!

4) The hours are during the regular school day, so Lyn will be spared the hassle of a rotating and unpredictable schedule that is part and parcel of teaching at a language school. I honestly don’t mind the schedule, as long as I don’t have to get up at o-dark-30 after working late at night. I don’t like to do the same thing all the time, so it is perfect for me. And, since we are moving closer to school, the schedule won’t be as difficult.

The other great thing is that he will be working. He needs that. We need that. $$$$$

The Holidays

Posada in Querétaro
You go girl! The piñata doesn’t stand a chance!

We went to our first Posada last night. Our community hosted it, with all the traditional fixings — from food to the star-shaped piñata for the kids. Of course, we walked to the front gate and sang the traditional posada song (I need to work on learning that for next year). One half of the group stood outside the gate and sang the parts of Joseph & Mary asking for lodging, while the other group stood inside the gate and sang the responses. Of course, we ultimately let them in!

The children really enjoyed the piñata. I took a lot of pictures. They were sooooo cute!

The food ranged from mole sandwiches and tunafish to traditional ponche — a delicious spiced cider served hot. Yummy! Several of the homeowners brought tequila and other traditional beverages, as well.

Flor de Alfalfa / Rancho Hondonado

Breakfast in the Cave at Rancho Hondonada
Breakfast in the Cave at Rancho Hondonada

We have also been doing some touring around Querétaro. A week or so ago, we toured an organic dairy farm where they make artisanal cheeses and yogurt. It was lovely! And, we got to pet the calves. We went with another teacher from the Anglo and his wife — Rodrigo and Eunice (pronounced Ay-oo-neece-ay).

The ranch is about an hour from our house. They have over 1000 cows that are very well treated! They play them music and give them treats when they are milked to keep them happy. Happy cows make sweeter milk. As part of the tour, we saw where they make and store the cheese. We were treated to a lovely breakfast/cheese tasting before heading out to see where they plan to put the vineyard. Yes, vineyard. It will be lovely, but it will take some time before they are actually producing enough grapes to make wine. Of course, there are vineyards all over the area where they can get good wines.

I had been hoping the tasting came with wine, but no. It was early — around 11:00 in the morning — so, alas, no wine. But… they had the most delicious hot chocolate.

All in all a very wonderful day.

The Anglo Christmas Party

Me, Mercedes & Joe: Teachers at The Anglo.

I am very fortunate to work at such a great school with such great people! Really. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to work. The conditions, the people, the pay and benefits are all amazing. I’m so happy.

Naturally we had to have a Christmas party and gift exchange. I am always a bit reluctant to participate in these things, but this was really fun. Gifts had to be less than $12 US, and everyone submitted three things they would like, which made it easier to pick something.

Me and Caro, another teacher from The Anglo.

The party was very well organized, and EVERYONE came! That, in and of itself, is amazing. From the security and parking attendants to the cleaning and sales staff to the teachers and administrators. It was amazing.

Stay tuned… I have more news. Just need to process! TTFN (ta-ta for now)!

 

 

The entire Anglo crew! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Boy!

It’s a Boy!

I just learned that my niece, Jennifer, had her baby. She wasn’t due until the end of the month, so it came a little early. Nevertheless, he’s a healthy 7 lb 8 ounce baby boy named Bryson Bruce.

It was welcomed news during a period of intense stress over health issues with family. My brother-in-law just had a hip replaced, my step-dad is going through chemo (again), and my mother-in-law has been in the hospital for three weeks and will likely be there a while longer. Being in another country has left us a wee-bit helpless in all of these situations. Although, in some ways, it has been a blessing.

In fact, one of the reasons we left the US was to get away from the hassles of caring for everyone. I admit, I’m a fixer, and if I were there, I would be doing everything possible to make everything “right,” which is what I always did when I lived there. That made me totally crazy and stressed out. From here, while I feel powerless, I at least am more sane not having to be the one to do everything.

With regard to my side of the family, they are well equipped, emotionally and financially, to handle their lives. My husband’s family, well, not so much. So, right now, with his mom in the hospital with a recurrence of breast cancer and a brain tumor, we are paying for people to assist and support her as well as doing whatever we can from afar. Fortunately, Lyn has taken over the responsibilities of managing it all. I couldn’t have done it for many reasons. First, I’m working full time. Second, I am not the one who should be making decisions about her healthcare. It’s time for Lyn and his brother to take over.

So, that where things are.

My beautiful, very pregnant niece, Jennifer.

Congratulations Jennifer! I can’t wait to get pictures of the newest addition to the family. And, please, remember that Bob and Ellen are getting on in years and have their own issues. I love you, sweetie! Be good.

Time is flying

Time is flying

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I wrote anything here. It isn’t because I don’t have things to say — I always have something to say — it is more because I have been so busy!

Teaching

I started my new job about six weeks ago, so I have completed the first round of classes. I definitely LOVE THIS JOB! I am having so much fun. The people that work here — the teachers, the administrators and the staff — are just wonderful people. Every day you are greeted with kisses and hugs, coffee and plenty of happy people. And that’s just the people who work here.

The students are equally wonderful. They are typically excited to be here. They pay a lot of money for the opportunity and are motivated to achieve their language goals. There are a couple of younger students (teens 14-19) that are a bit more challenging to engage. After all, they already have school work to do. This just adds to it. Nevertheless, if you can find a way to engage them, they bring an incredible life to the classroom.

For example, I have one 17-year-old student that loves science fiction movies, so, yesterday, we talked about SETI, METI and the pros and cons of finding life on other planets. We also talked about movies like Arrival, which was focussed on decoding language in order to communicate with visitors from another world. When possible, I also bring Marvel and DC comic movies into the discussion. They are very popular here.

If there is a downside, it is that some of the classes are small, like two people. Sometimes both students are absent. When that happens, you have to stick around to be sure that they don’t just show up late. That is a little dull. In fact, that is why I am working on this blog! I know for sure one of my students isn’t coming. The other hasn’t reached out to me yet, so I can’t be sure if she’s just late or not coming at all.

Business Classes

I did have the opportunity to teach at a business, too. It was a course on telephoning and teleconferencing. At first, it was very challenging, as the materials were not really appropriate for the level of the students. Additionally, the materials were out of date. It took a while for me to actually figure out how to manage the class. My midterm reviews from them were not good. In fact, I would say some were downright mean.

Nevertheless, I carried on and got through. After it was all over, they were happy.  They even wanted me back! That was a big surprise. However, here, they rotate the teachers to give students different perspectives and expose them to different styles and accents.

My business class at PSL.

The Home Front

In August, Lyn got a job teaching 7th Grade English. At first, he really liked it. But the honeymoon period was over quickly and the students’ behavior became unmanageable for him. I met the kids one night when we were at the mall. A big group of them were also there.

Lyn’s 7th graders

 

The end result was that he quit the job. It was best, although he was very sad, too. He really liked the kids; he just couldn’t control them so he could teach effectively.

In the long run, this was a good thing. Shortly after he left the job, his mother developed some serious medical issues and, as of right now, is in a rehab hospital. Lyn’s time is being devoted to managing her care and, alternatively, to studying Spanish.

Ten months and counting

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 months since we left the US. While the first month was in a different city, it was effectively the start of this grand adventure. We are finally getting a little time to explore and enjoy ourselves. Lyn is starting to drive and get out and about on his own. This morning he is grocery shopping while I work on my lesson plans for the week.

I’m always checking in with him about this move, if he thinks it was a good thing or if he has any regrets. He seems to be content overall. Me? I’m happy as a clam. I’m making friends, going places, learning new things. If only I could get some exercise, I’d be even happier. Ah, well. Soon.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Official!

It’s Official!
My visa! Hate the photo.

Well, you might say it’s about time. I’m just glad the process is over.

What process, you say? The visa process. It’s official:

Lyn and I are officially permanent residents of Mexico.

After a very frustrating week, the good news came on Friday. We had been patiently waiting for notification via the INM (Mexican Immigration) website, but it never arrived. So, we did what most other impatient types might do — we went down there and asked about it. Lo, and behold! They had the cards there.

Of course, that was Friday. Earlier in the week was quite tumultuous.

Monday

My neighbor, Victor, has been more than kind to us. Besides being our personal driver most of the time, he and his wife are my students and, more importantly, my friends.

We had been talking for months now about how to get license plates for our car. Victor graciously took us down to the motor vehicles office to find out what we needed and acted as our interpreter and advocate. Turns out, for the license plates (here, “placas”) you need an official government ID, for which a Mexico driver’s license qualifies. In addition, you have to pay a tax and provide proof of residence through a recognized bill, like a utility bill.

Needless to say, our passports did not qualify us, so we decided to try getting a Mexico driver’s license.

Off we go to yet another location. After driving for 20 minutes to find a parking spot and walking about a mile back, we were told that, in order to get a Mexico driver’s license, we needed to have our permanent visa cards.

Dang.

So, in frustration, we walked back to the car. I offered to buy Victor lunch at an empanada stand that he told us was “muy rico” and near where we had parked the car. That done, we headed home, determined that we were going to get our visas!

Unfortunately, when we went to pay for the food, Lyn set his phone down. Someone else picked it up. Aargh!

The nice thing about Apple products

Find My Phone

Unfortunately, we did not notice it was missing for several hours. But, fortunately, our accounts are linked, and I was able to use the “Find My Phone” app to locate the phone. We chased it around Querétaro for about an hour, until it landed at a house not far from where we lived.

This housing development was in a lower socio-economic area behind some retail stores. Being the trusting soul that I am, I just started knocking on doors. Despite the fact that I could see the phone clearly in the app, no one admitted having it. Shortly afterward, they turned it off so I couldn’t track it anymore.

I have to say that this was the first negative experience we’ve had here. Thus far, everyone has been more than kind, honest and generous. However, losing that phone was a bit devastating. Here, you have to have a phone just to get around. And, since Lyn and I are frequently in different locations, it is important for us to have a way to stay in contact, you know, in case of emergencies.

That night, I was called to sub for an advanced English class at a company about 30 minutes from town, as the teacher was sick. Of course, I agreed, actually excited to work with an advanced class. The coursework in these classes is more conversational. The topic for the evening was Stem Cell Research.

What a disaster! There was one student in the class who just dominated everything, refused to engage on an intellectual level, and made it impossible for the other students to do so as well. I left feeling quite frustrated, which added to my building depression.

Tuesday

On the following day, still a bit depressed about the events of the prior one, Lyn and I went to the local iShop and bought a new phone. Of course, here, because of the tariffs on Chinese goods, the same phone (an iPhone 7) cost $15,000 pesos. That’s roughly $750 US. On the ride home, I programmed it for him, downloaded all of his information from the cloud, and that was that… for a while.

Both of us were still feeling down, but the worst was behind us. Tuesdays are busy days, with classes in the early morning and till about 9 at night. Once we had completed our shopping trip, we opted for a quick nap before heading back to work.

Wednesday

Once again, Wednesday, I was asked to go back to the advanced class. Despite having such a bad experience on Monday, I decided to do it. I figured that maybe, if I was better prepared, things would go more smoothly. So, I spent several hours researching the debate about stem cell research, the issues regarding embryonic stem cells versus adult stem cells, and even found a news article from that day about a couple fighting over their embryos as part of a divorce.

Surely, armed with videos, news articles and a variety of perspectives, the class would be better.

Not

At first, only two of the students showed up. They were watching the video when the third, difficult student arrived. Once again, he took over, refusing to cooperate and enter into a thoughtful discussion about the issues. Nothing I did could get him back on track. And, to make matters worse, he even admitted he was being difficult. I asked him if he was the same with his other teacher, to which he replied, “No, he knows how to control me.”

WTF?

I was so angry, that I told the HR person at Globoworld not to send me there again. I told him that the guy was a f*cking @sshole and didn’t deserve to be in the class. Never mind that he was preventing others from actually learning something.

Interestingly, Globoworld had a workshop on classroom management scheduled for Friday, which I planned to attend for the sole purpose of addressing this issue.

Thursday

After all of this, Thursday came as a relief. I was beginning to think we were being cosmically punished for something we had unknowingly done. But Thursday… ahhhh.

Lyn and I headed down to immigration immediately after my early class, and, to our delight, were given our visas! Yay!

Friday

Originally, I planned to do absolutely nothing on Friday. However, after the week I had had, I decided to go to the workshop. Excuse me for saying it, but it was a waste of time.

The course was really about the complaints that the Quality people get from the students and how to address them. I brought my issue up, and what was said really didn’t apply to me. First of all, I found out that this class had been through six (6) other teachers because of this same person! The current teacher said his strategy was to intimidate him. This was seconded by other teachers as well. Well, maybe they can do that. They are big, burly men. Me, not so much. Five feet tall and 120 pounds.

It also turns out that this guy is the manager of the department where the other students work. Ah. Well, they’re not going to go against him. That might endanger their jobs. While I understand this, it isn’t our role as English teachers to enable this type of behavior. Learning this made me even more angry.

I definitely pitched a b*tch about it,too, and directly asked that they address the problem.

Everyone seems to be aware of this particular person and his issues, but no one wants to address it. I feel that is a disservice to both the other students and to the teachers. We will see if anything happens.

Dinner at Hank’s.

The Weekend

Now that the week was behind us, Lyn and I decided to celebrate our new visa status. We had a lovely dinner downtown and a walk around the city. Let’s hope this coming week is better.

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!