Monday, March 19, 2012

Taking a Break in Indiana

We are spending a relaxing week in Muncie, Indiana with our son Eric and his family.  While Eric and Crystal are working this week, we are able to have much extended time with our grand daughter, Isabelle. As you can see, she is bonding with Chuy and he with her.  Here are more photos.  The first two are of Isabelle emulating and angel and the devil: 

"Grannie" always loves unstructured moments with her sweet grand daughter...

 Dad has to attend to the fatherly chores, like making sure her face is squeaky clean...
We stopped in Little Rock on the way north to get some new tires and visit the Clinton Library.  Little Rock is a nice city.  We found a room at the La Quinta in downtown, free for Chuy, for $71.  Not bad. We visited the library and had dinner down by the River Market area.  Of course, I forgot to bring my camera to the Clinton Library, but here is a photo of the post card at least!  

 Back in 1972, my friends from Brown and I traveled through Louisiana.  As a blues and Dylan fan, I posed next to the legendary "Highway 61" signs.  On this trip, we followed the highway for a time in Arkansas, so I posed again in what I might shamelessly refer to as "Highway 61 Revisited." 
 When we arrived in Indianapolis on Friday, I had a chance to visit my cousins, Rod and Martha, children of my father's 94 year-old sister Alice.  It was Rod's birthday, so we had a small celebration.  Here are Rod and his wife, Deb, with their dogs, Gracie and Bochi...
 Martha, with her fiance, CE...
 Chuy loved hanging out with Gracie and Bochi, even though he was at a disadvantage in terms of size...

Here are Rod with his mom, my aunt, Alice.  Although she is suffering from several maladies, she just published a memoir and gave me a copy on our visit.  She is a painter, sculptor, and writer.  She even has an architectural detail on Westminster Abbey in London.  A remarkable woman, in every respect and my Dad's beloved sister...

Next week, we will be heading to Columbus Ohio to visit my friend from Brown, Dennis, and then on to Philadelphia...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On the Road Again

No new photos now, but I wanted to post an update to our adventures in San Antonio.  We spent three rainy days in the hotel without a car, eating at the Denny's next door, waiting for the windows on our car to be repaired.  When we got the car back, we packed up 15 boxes of stuff and took them to FedEx to ship them to Maine.  We shipped them to our good friends, Curt and Judy, who readers of this blog may remember visited us three times in Mexico.  Anyway, the boxes will likely be stacked in their garage in Auburn, Maine when we arrive. And our car, although still packed with plenty of stuff, no longer poses such a delicious target for a would-be thief!

We are now in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, planning to go into Little Rock today to get some new tires for the RAV4 and to stay in town overnight and, hopefully, check out the Clinton Library this afternoon.  We are now planning to be in Indianapolis by Friday and stay with my cousin Rod and hopefully visit Alice, one of my dad's older sisters while we are there.  Then, off to Muncie, for a week with Our son, Eric, and his wife, Crystal, and our grand daughter, Isabelle.  Then we'll visit my old Brown friend, Dennis, in Ohio, on our way to Philadelphia.  

So, with few clothes, and albeit a bit poorer, we're whole again and enjoying the trip.  Chuy's been a good little traveler.  He likes to explore the crabgrass and litter around each motel.  Next time I'll have some photos to post as well.  We miss all our wonderful friends from Ajijic while, at the same time, are looking forward to establishing our life in Maine again.   

Friday, March 9, 2012

Trouble in Paradise; no, no, I mean TEXAS!

These photos were taken about 4AM Thursday morning outside the LaQuinta Inn in San Antonio.  We were sleeping peacefully, when Chuy started barking.  When I looked out the window, I noticed a young man who had already cut open our canvas roof carrier and taken all our clothes and shoes, and had just smashed our driver's side window and our passenger's side rear window and was in the process of trying to take more items out of the car. Thanks to Chuy, I ran out and chased him away.  The police came and interviewed us, and an evidence cop came and took blood samples (the idiot had apparently broken the glass with his hand and bled all over the dash board).  I doubt they'll find him though.

So we were left with trying to figure out what to do.  We figured that our car was so obviously loaded with stuff, especially with the canvas carrier on top, that we were an obvious target.  We decided to unload the entire car into a new ground-floor room.  This took us till about 6AM.  To make the rest of our trip better, we decided to ship some of our stuff from San Antonio to Maine.  And our car is at the local Toyota dealer being repaired.  We're hoping to get it back this afternoon, ship our boxes, and get the hell out of Texas!  

Overall, we lost a bunch of our clothes and shoes, but none of our other Mexican treasures, and, of course, no one was hurt, except for the young thief (no sympathy here!).  So we were fortunate, and we hope the rest of our trip will be less eventful.  

We'll keep reporting from the road, hopefully about a lot of boring days!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crossing the Border

Here we are, yesterday morning, on Zaragoza in front of Ron and Jean's house, ready to head north with our car packed and Chuy ready to go in his crate.  I am happy to report that, after a couple of long days, we have crossed the border into Laredo, Texas.  We collapsed into a La Quinta Inn and ate dinner at Denny's next door.  Tomorrow we're off to San Antonio, where we need to have some work done on our car, so we'll likely be 2 or 3 days there.  

Mike and Christi were there to send us off, along with Ron and Jean, of course. (Although Jean did not want her photo taken, as she was still in her PJ's).  

  Last Saturday, right before we left, we had a wonderful evening with our close friends Fred and Mardele and Jeanne and Paul.  We enjoyed cocktails at Fred and Mardele's, then they all treated us to dinner at Simply Thai, and we returned to Fred and Mardele's for a late night swim and dessert, coffee and liqueurs.  A wonderful evening!

The drive through northern Mexico was interesting.  It is very dry, with few people living there.  We saw some interesting sights, including several fires burning with no one attending them, many beautiful joshua trees, and long stretches of flat land with few inhabitants:

Chuy has been riding in a crate, right behind the front seats, surrounded by boxes.  He's been doing great.  We get out about every hour so I can exercise my leg and he can get out of the crate.  Here he is in his crate: 
We spent about an hour and a half in line at Neueva Laredo crossing the border.  It was very tedious, but we made it, although we had to pay $16 for tax for the five bottles of wine we brought with us!  Here is our view of the line we waited in:

And, finally, here is Chuy, in the motel in Laredo, his first day as a US resident!

We'll keep posting throughout the rest of the trip...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Final Days in Mexico

As we are winding down our final days as full-time residents of Mexico, we certainly have mixed feelings.  We are excited to be back in Maine for the better part of the year, but it is indeed sad to be leaving such a vibrant and interesting area and so many of our good friends here.  When I started this blog in 2007, we were anticipating a wonderful adventure and planned to live in Mexico permanently.  Our decision to be here only seasonally has little to do with Mexico itself, and much to do with us.  We miss Maine and our connections there, particularly Wendy and Cassie (and Eric and his family in Indiana). And it is difficult living in a foreign country permanently.  Trips back to Maine were too short and too expensive.  Medical care here is good, but, even though it's cheaper here than in the US, we could not afford to pay for a major medical event out-of-pocket.  So returning to the US for most of the year gives us stable medical care and the access to Medicare.  And there are smaller benefits, like seeing live baseball games and good Thai and Chinese food!

We have been enjoying many dinners, etc. with our friends who wanted to say adios in a personal way.  Marion and John, two other vegans in our UU Fellowship, invited us for lunch last week in their beautiful Ajijic home.  Here are some photos:

    A couple of days ago, we met our old neighbors from Riberas, Ron and Pat and Wayne and Claudette, at a local restaurant for dinner.  It was good to reconnect and we look forward to seeing them next year.

Since we are leaving on March 5, and our lease went until April 1, we have been trying to find a renter for the month of March to save us having to pay for the month we will not be there.  It didn't look promising, but on Feb. 27, our rental agent, Georgina, found a tenant.  That was good, but left us scrambling to get out on time.  We managed to pack our car and clean out the house by Feb. 29, but we had to have a place to stay until we leave on the 5th.  Our friends Ron and Jean rescued us; we are staying with them, our fully-packed car in their gated driveway, until we leave on Monday.  Now we're enjoying a relaxing weekend, anticipating our departure.  Last night we went out to eat with Ron and Jean and Gary and Kay, our new snowbird friends from Minneapolis.  From left, Pixie, Jean, Gary, Kay and Ron:

Jean had an art show at a local restaurant last weekend:

We already know where we will be staying when we return in January.  Our friend, Kay Walker, offered to let us stay in her casita for the three months we'll be here.  She has a large, beautiful home in one of the oldest areas of Ajijic, La Floresta.  She has three dogs, and we will be able to watch them if she wants to travel to Indonesia to visit her daughter, or go anywhere else.  Kay is a wonderful and generous person.  Since the casita has no kitchen, we'll have to share hers, and we will be able to watch TV in her library.  She has a lovely pool and garden area.  Here are some photos: 
Kay with Pixie: 
  The inside of the casita:

The library and kitchen area we will be using in Kay's house:

Many people who come here for the winter only have a hard time renting in advance for the following year since property owners would rather find a longer-term tenant, so people  often have to find properties to rent on line in the fall.  So we are doubly lucky that Kay has been so generous to offer us this opportunity!  Now we can know we have a beautiful living space, with Kay, when we return. 

So, the next blog post will be from the road, heading north.  Since this is the tail end of our current life in Mexico, I'll leave you with the funny image of the tail end of a garbage truck we were following the other day.  The garbage collectors, like garbage collectors everywhere, try to save the good stuff: