It’s 2020 and I’m such a slacker!

It’s 2020 and I’m such a slacker!

Geez Louise, it’s been about 6 months since I’ve written anything here. Of course, like everyone on the planet, the advent of the new year means a new resolution to do better. Well, let’s just see how that goes.

So, to catch you all up, Lyn and I are still living in Querétaro and teaching ESL. The last few months were quite interesting, with lots of things happening.

The Anglo

Lele

I completed one year at The Anglo in August. And, the good news is, my contract was renewed for another year. I’m so glad, as I just LOVE my job! I love all of the people who work there — and I do mean all of them, from the cleaning staff to the administration. It is a very closely knit family.

A visit home

The key benefit of having completed my contract is that I had a month-long paid vacation. I took that opportunity to go back to the US and visit my family in NY and friends in Idaho. Overall it was a great trip. I was able to meet the newest addition to the family — my grand nephew, Bryson. What a sweet little baby! I also had the chance to see my #1 nephew, Joey, play soccer. He’s a goalie. It was a fun day to sit and do something so normal with family!

Me and baby Bryson
Me and Bryson

I also had the chance to catch up with my beautiful nieces, both of whom are growing up so fast! Being a mom will certainly do that to you, so with Jenifer it was no real surprise. My precious Bells, though, is growing up too quickly. What a gorgeous young woman she is!

soccer game
Joey on the field

Of course, no trip home is complete without some shopping. I definitely had some quality time at Macy’s, where I bought myself lots of things to get me through the winter here in Querétaro. It does get cold here, and, even in the summer with the AC on in the classrooms, I needed some warmer things to wear.

hiking in the Boise foothills
Me, Ziva and Reese in the Boise foothills

While visiting family is great, the best part of the trip was the week in Boise. I was able to catch up with most people, celebrate my birthday with my best friends, and enjoy some quality outdoor time. We hiked in the foothills every day. It surprised me how well I did considering that I haven’t had a lot of exercise since living in Mexico. I was actually able to keep up with the others. I think it may have been because I’ve been living at an elevation of about 6,000 feet.

2019 Birthday dinner
Birthday dinner at Gino’s

Of course, I did a bit more shopping. Ultimately I had to buy another suitcase to get all the stuff home, which also included several month’s supply of AdvoCare products that I can’t get down here. It was so worth it though.

I also spent a little time with Lyn’s mom. I don’t even want to discuss that fiasco. Let’s just say it didn’t end well. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating that experience was. Let’s just say the first meeting took place in the ER. Nuff said.

Back home

Coming home is always the final destination, and I was thankful to be back with Lyn and our four-legged family. I still had a few days of downtime before going back to work, which I needed to recover from all that traveling!

Once here, I had a birthday party (our first in the new house). It was great fun! I learned how to dance Cumbia, and we ate, drank and danced the night away!

As the year continued, we had our first Day of the Dead while living in El Centro Historico. That was very fun! There were public alters everywhere, and the colors and decorations were beautiful. Of course, we even had an altar at school. Last year we had a competition. This year they just set one up in the lobby.

Day of the dead Lele doll

One of our friends, Tiffany, came over and we walked all over town the night of the celebration. We tried to go to a cemetery, but it was closed by the time we got there. It was interesting to me that, in such a catholic country, there are so few cemeteries. You would think there would be more.

One of many public altars. Note that the skull face in front is made from different types and colors of seeds

 

There were some public buildings, too, that had altars set up in them. In those cases, there seemed to be a theme, for example, in one building, each neighborhood had an altar.

There was also an indigenous exhibition of Mayan dancers. The costumes were just amazing! It was a little difficult to see everything since the dancers were performing without a stage. We were still able to get a few photos. They used a lot of fire in the performance, too.

Indigenous dancer costume.

Back to school

Naturally, I returned to work. My class schedule was pretty light the last few months of 2019, which was ok with me. I always feel a little guilty when I get paid for not working, especially when all the other teachers have multiple jobs to earn enough. It wasn’t without it’s frustrations, but, alas, that comes with the territory.

2019 Xmas party in CDMX
Christmas 2019 in CDMX

The Anglo had a wonderful Christmas party in Mexico City. That was so much fun! They had a great band, gifts, dancing, glow-in-the-dark face painting, tequila, and more! It was a long way to go for a party, but it was worth it. They bussed us, too, which meant we could sleep on the bus.

Xmas 2019

And that, my friends, brings me almost up to date!

It’s a party!

Christmas vacation

Blue Hawaiian by the pool

This year, Lyn and I went to the beach. We planned the trip earlier in the year when a mutual friend suggested we meet somewhere for Christmas. She ultimately wasn’t able to make it, so I invited one of my colleagues from work to join us. I already booked two rooms. She jumped at the opportunity. She, her son and her mother ended up going with us. It was a lot of fun.

Rocio, Ruben, Lyn and Me on the shuttle

My goal for the trip was to relax, which I did in spades! We mostly sat by the pool, where I sipped my 2-for-1 Blue Hawaiians. The only activities we planned were to go to Tulum and snorkeling in Cozumel. It rained the day we went to Cozumel, but it didn’t matter much in the water. We did get a bit soaked getting back to the hotel shuttle, as we had to walk all the way down 5th Avenue. Nevertheless, it was a very good day. Well, except for the fire coral I ran into to. Man did that sting!

2020

That pretty much brings us up to today, January 2, 2020. We’re not much for new year’s celebrations, so we stayed home and kept the animals calm as all the fireworks went off. The explosions kept up until after 2 a.m., so we started the new year a bit sleep deprived. Oh well, there’s another 364 days to rest.

Classes don’t start again until the 11th or so, so we still have time to rest. We did buy some new things for the house — a couple of very nice rugs, which are nice to have now that it is so much colder in the morning. I am also quite thankful for the warm clothing that I bought on my US vacation. (Oh, I forgot to mention I went shopping in Playa too, but only bought a couple of things — shoes and a bag.)

We are still working on getting our pictures and decor on the walls, but it is coming along.

A few more pics

Saadia, Denise and me, Boise 2019
At home with Bob
Me and Ellen, NY 2019
Mi cuñada, Flor, and me in NY 2019
Bob and Stef at Joey’s soccer game
Me, Lyn and Ruben in Playa del Carmen, 2019
One of several “cocodrillos” at the resort in Playa
The flamingo area at Vidanta
Me and my Bells, NY 2019

 

 

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

One of the things I like about living in the Col. Centro Histórico de Querétaro is that there is a river that runs down the center of Av. Universidades with walking paths on both sides. It reminds me a bit of the Boise Greenbelt, except that here the water is not as nice and it isn’t as “green.” There seems always to be a soapy foam in the water, as well as various discarded items (i.e., trash). I think the foam may be due to the people constantly scrubbing the statues and features along the path, but I can’t be certain.

Sophie & Izzy on Av. UniversidadesThe warm climate here also invites people to sleep outdoors on the many small retaining walls and benches that line the walkway. They also use the fountains to bathe and clean their clothes. Not the most sanitary approach to living, but some people must do what they must do.

It is one of the sadder aspects of living here — seeing the homeless and disabled people begging on the streets. We try to keep change handy for when we pass them. Just like in Boise, sometimes we walk on by and send up a silent prayer for them.

Our Anniversary

Yesterday was a very significant day for us. Our 20th Anniversary. I am so lucky to have found someone who makes me smile every day and gives me such joy. (I think he feels the same. I HOPE he does, anyway!)

Lyn at AlioliTo celebrate, I chose what looked to be an upscale restaurant for dinner. Alioli is located on one of the more touristy streets downtown. It is a lovely setting with comfortable seating and a beautiful view of the alley where so many locals sell their wares. Unfortunately, the food was a bit disappointing.

The cheese platter was lovely, with five different varieties of cheese, fruit and candied nuts. The menu had a wide variety of unusual items, such as barbecued octopus, etc. I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food, though.

My disappointing dinner at AlioliFor the main course, Lyn ordered the short ribs, which he liked immensely. I ordered the Creamy Chicken, which would have been more appropriately called Creamy Chicken Bones. There was absolutely no meat on it! The waiter told me it was because it was a small bird. So? You still have to have something to eat and you can’t eat bones.

Lovely view from AlioliUnlike in the US, the restaurant did nothing to compensate us for it, so we paid the check and left. I don’t think we’ll be going back there anytime soon.

The Interview

Among the other highlights of the day was my job interview at the International School of Querétaro. The school has a large campus in a town called Juriquilla, which is about 5-6 miles north of the center of the city. They have upwards of 1000 students and more than 170 teachers and staff, sports fields and a swimming pool.

The position I interviewed for was to teach English in the Middle and High Schools. I loved the two women I interviewed with. The first, Blanca, is the director of the school. She was having a tough day due to the death of one of their teachers over the weekend. It was her job to tell the students and teachers. My heart went out to her!

Marcela, the second, was the Academic Director. She was very nice and very professional. She asked me a lot of questions and seemed to like the fact that I had a marketing background and good computer skills. My lack of experience was also seen as a benefit, since it meant that I would bring fresh ideas and energy. A lot of the teachers there have been there for more than 10 years. That, I thought, was a good sign.

The next step will be for them to arrange for me to give a demo class. They will let me know when and what topic. Yikes! I will be quite nervous, however, that usually passes once I get in front of the class.

Cars

One of our dilemmas is that we have to return our rental car today. Yesterday we spent a lot of time looking for a car to buy. They are less expensive here, but the process is more complicated than in the US. Once you pay, it can take 48-hours for them to deliver the car to you. And, it appears we may have to get additional visas in order to buy a car.

I’m not quite ready to do that yet, so we are going to Uber for a while.

Lyn and I agreed that the process we should follow is 1) get jobs, 2) find a place to live, and 3) get a car. So that’s what we will do.

UGH!

UGH!

What a cluster! Never, ever, EVER trust UPS when they tell you “no problem.” Boy, did I learn that the hard way!

So, when last I wrote, we were waiting for UPS to arrive between 2 and 5 p.m. on Thursday to pick up all of our worldly possessions. I worked so hard to get everything the way they asked me to, to dot every “i” and cross every “t”, but to no avail.

When the driver and his 18-wheeler arrived at our house, he wouldn’t even come in the door. “I can’t take that,” was pretty much what he said.

“What?” (My response.)

Turns out that UPS Freight cannot pick up boxes that are not on a pallet and shrink wrapped.

They also cannot deliver to a residential address.

Oh, and you need a customs broker.

And,….

The list goes on.

Once again, I get on the phone with UPS. Once again I am transferred to at least four different people. Finally, after I break down into tears and hysterical sobbing, a woman in Florida arranges to have a regular UPS truck come and pick up the boxes.

An hour later, a very nice driver shows up at our house.

Now, this is where things get complicated. You see, it is almost 5:00 by then. The new owners of our home are sitting in their car in front of our house waiting to get in to do a walk through. The realtor has also arrived and is giving me shit about how his clients have a legal right to do their walk through and la-di-dah, blah, blah, blah.

Well, this New York girl had had it up to her eyeballs and went into battle mode with this young punk. You see, we still owned the house until 9:00 a.m. the following morning, and if he didn’t back up and straighten out, he was going to deal with the wrath of god in the form of one 5-foot 1-inch NY bitch.

Poor Lyn, my sweet little southern boy husband, just stood there muttering “she’s been drinking” (ok, a little wine with friends who came to give support), while my dear friend Mary watched with glee. She had never seen this version of me up close, and she was pleasantly surprised to see me in a rare form.

Needless to say, realtor-boy wisely backed down. Mary, the UPS man and I put all of the boxes into his truck, and Lyn and I collected the last of our things from the house so the buyers could do their thing.

They’re very nice people…

On the way out, I introduced myself to the buyers and tried to explain the chaos. They were quite understanding and kind. They, too, had recently relocated from the midwest and understood the trauma associated with moving long distance from a home they lived in for many years.

I had written them a letter and left them with good information about the house and the services they might need. Lyn and I had thoroughly cleaned the house in order to leave everything in the best condition possible. We went far beyond what other people do. I wanted to make them feel welcome and know how much we loved the house. It’s just the way I am.

Back to the UPS saga

So, once we got everything on the truck and I cried and cried and cried, we followed the truck up to a UPS store in Vista Village. The store is a franchise, so not technically UPS. The poor owner – a lovely woman named Elisabeth – was not prepared for what she received. It was like something from a bad dream — we had to explain again and again and again what was happening. Ultimately, around 7:00 p.m., we decided there wasn’t anything further we could do until the next morning, after our 9:00 a.m. closing appointment.

To be continued…

I hate moving…

I hate moving…

Ugh. Moving is a drag. Moving to another country is even more challenging. To date we have packed a few boxes, watched our living room, dining room and patio furniture leave without us, and have made travel arrangements for us and our pets. Still no place to live in Queretaro, although I’m confident something will turn up.

Our Fur-Babies

Traveling with five animals will be stressful enough. Just going through this move has been more than our new kitty can handle. She is behaving quite badly and I may need to re-home her before we go. I can’t have a bad cat in a rental. I hate to do it. I’m very attached to my pets, but Coco is fairly new to us and is quite shy, which means we haven’t really gotten that close. As it was, we rescued her and her kittens, all of which were adopted. Since then we’ve tried to get Coco to be part of the family. She is in love with Jack the Cat, but could easily live without us. I already made her plane reservation, but that can certainly be changed.

Boxes Everywhere!

Right now the house is a freaking disaster. There are boxes, papers, decor, clothes, and other detritus of life everywhere. We didn’t really unpack (what’s the point), so our suitcases have a prominent place in the middle of our bedroom.

Yesterday, we had some art appraisers come and look at the dragon (see photo above) and my great uncle’s oil paintings to determine if they would be able to sell them for us. At this point, they can just keep them if they can’t sell them. I don’t have the bandwidth to consider anything else.

It was amazing how different the house felt once all the artwork was off the walls. So far, we have packed 8 boxes. Not a lot, I know. Apparently, we were very good at getting rid of things!

This weekend, another friend will pickup our guest bedroom furniture, TV and remaining kitchen things. That will leave us with just our bedroom furniture and the couch in the den.

On the 15th, everything else goes, including us. We will have to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights before leaving for Queretaro on Saturday, Feb. 17. Yikes. No turning back now.

God help us!