Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 8 years. Okay, okay, now it's been 9 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Headed for Alamos

We weren't able to make it to San Carlos and the Tetakawi last night. We had planned to be there around 6pm, but we forgot to include the border crossing delays in our plans.
So we have spent the night in Hermosillo at the San Sebastian. Before falling asleep last night I flipped through the 75 channels on the television one last time. And there was The Little Mermaid on the spanish Disney channel.. I watched the last 15 minutes of the movie. It made me teary eyed for that summer long ago.

This morning we are watching the weather Channel and the news coverage in Galveston. It does not look good. we will probably not hear for several days what will happen in the gulf.

Back in Alamos, the town is busy preparing for Dia de Indepencia. The largest celebration in Mexico, it is the celebration of Mexico's freedom from Spain, I can't remember the exact date of Independence, but the celebration will be across Mexico on september 15 and 16.

Flags have been hanging from homes and cars for the last 2 weeks, flag banners have been strung across the streets, and there have been new food and variety vendors popping up along the Alameda.
There is a flurry of activity throughout the town. We are eager to get back today and see what has been happening while we have been gone.

Alamos is also busy preparing for another event which will occur in late September. All of the governors of Mexico and the president of Mexico will be coming to Alamos for a meeting. Alamos has been receiving a huge sprucing up due to the upcoming visit.... new paint throughout town on the businessses surrounding the Alameda and the Plaza de Armas, the inside of the Palacio has new paint and it looks like a huge dance floor has been put down, new flagstone has been laid at the Alameda as well as a new wooden gazebo. Most of the electricity in the downtown historical area has now been placed underground.
The gardener down the street say that this event will bring over 5,000 visitors to town. Just the other day when we came out of the Palacio after paying our water bill, there was a huge tour bus from Arizona parked at the corner.
Around 50 American seniors were standing in the hot sun, holding their water bottles with one hand and fanning themselves with paper brochures with the other, while listening to an American tour guide talk about the colonial architecture of the Palacio.

So the activity has already begun. We understand the foreigners who come for the winter should begin arriving soon. The people we have met here say this summer has been very quiet, very sleepy, but that is about to change.
The Dia de Indepencia will bring dances, fireworks, horse races in the arroyo and much more. Hopefully I will be able to share some of this with you when I am able to get online again and write a new post.
Until then, we are off and going home to Alamos....adios.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bells, Whistles and Red Lights

This is a photo of the border wall between the US and Mexico. We can see the wall only briefly at the Mariposa border crossing.
In the photo below, Bill is tying down our IKEA load outside our storage unit in Tucson. I just noticed there is similar type of wall behind our concrete wall surrounding our unit.....

We just made border crossing #4..............

At the Mariposa border, we thought we were going to sail through and then a guard came out to pay us a visit. He asked us to pull over and stop. He wanted to know what was in our truck and where we had been and where we were going. His attitude was extremely serious, so Bill answered all of his questions and he waved us on.

Of course, we were very relieved and sighed thankfully. We briefly talked about all the blogged horror stories we have read about border crossings and commented about how lucky we have been.

At KM 21 not only did we get the BIG red light, we got a loud buzzer, a ringing bell and I think I heard whistles. I was jumping out of my skin.
Bill said, #*%$ *^#*.
I said, just move forward real slow and maybe it will stop. I think we moved one inch and more buzzers went off and a huge aduana came running to the truck. He made us pull over and looked at the IKEA load in the back of the truck.

Where are your tickets, he said........Bill and I looked at each other, tickets?....what are tickets?.......your tickets, he said again........I handed Bill our visas and passports...maybe that is what he wants?.......
What is in here, he asked.........house things, Bill said....what do they cost, he said........cost? we asked........
What is things worth, he asked.............$500?...$400....$300?......
no, oh no, said Bill, it is all old junk, from our old house , 30 years worth of stuff, junk, we are taking it to our house in Alamos......
It is not worth $500, he asked....no, no, said Bill, it is ALL old...

I think, THE LIST!!!!
Give him the list, I say, here, here it is....

Bill handed him the list.
This is it, aduana asked, only one page?....I say, Bill, here, give him the list in Espanol....now he has 2 pages..

Bill handed him the list in Espanol.......same list? asked aduana..........only worth $100?
Oh, even less than that...old, old, old, junk, said Bill.
Aduana looked at our IKEA load again, shook his head like he did not believe us for one second .......but then, he waved us on.

My palms were sweating. Bill handed me back the lists and I carefully folded them up and put them in my special book for safe keeping for some reason or another...

Bill said, good job, List Lady.......

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Living it up in Tucson

Well, here we are. ....back in the USA.
It has occured to me that I have not ever really discussed how it is to return across the border into the US. ...
The car lanes are always busy with vendors; some are aggressive, especially the young men who want to climb up on our car and wash the windshield. One of our guide books says to take your middle finger and point it at them and wag it back and forth, while shaking your head from side to side. I tried that in Navajoa and it did not work, and I felt very embarrassed and stupid doing it. So just we shake our heads and say, no gracias, and they don't listen....so we lock our doors and yell, no, gracias!!!! And by then they are on the hood of the truck trying to wash. So we turn on the wipers and usually they get off and go to another car.
At the border there are many women selling huge plastic maps of Mexico, and plastic brooms and dust pans, plastic toy drums and tom toms. Lots of food vendors want you to buy what they have. Then there are several people that look like they might be gringos, begging for handouts. This is very unnerving to me. I think, why are they here, begging? One man wears dirty, old Banana Republic looking clothing and is barefoot. If someone gives him food, he shares it with other Mexican vendors.....I don't understand..... Bill says I should bury my head in a book or take some dramamine......

The border crossing is a busy place but drivers seeem to be patient. We have encountered 2 long waits of around 30 minutes each and one crossing with no wait at all.
Of course, I always have the passports and visas ready, laying on the console between us. Only during yesterday's crossing did the customs agent ask to see them. She asked about our place of residency..... Alamos, and where we were going...... Tucson, and why....... to visit.
She took a flashlight and shined it into the truck and walked around the truck. She then went in the booth with our passports, and I am thinking...did we pay all of our old parking tickets?
Then she told us to have a good trip. As we drove on through we noticed that customs agents were holding the arms of the lady who had been in a Missouri plated van in front of us and steering her into the customs building...we drove straight to Carl, Jr's.

Now going for a burger immediately after crossing the border back into the states is not something we do. We are not burger food freaks, but we are looking for a restroom stop before we continue on to Tucson.
And the Nogales, US, Carl, Jr., has an okay restroom.

In Mexico, when we stop at a bathroom, the first thing I do before I get out of the truck is stuff napkins in my pocket. I put 3 pesos in my pocket with the napkins. Then I find the bano. Sometimes an old senor or senora wants my 3 pesos. He or she will give me toilet paper in exchange for the pesos. Once inside I am looking to see if there is any toilet paper available, so I can save my napkins and the paper I was given for another day when a senor or senora will not be there...... a waste can is always in the stall.....paper goes in the waste can.....never in the toilet.....I would not want to be the gringo who puts toilet paper in the toilet and then flushes the toilet, causing it to overflow onto the floor, thus making the old senor or senora come into the bathroom with the mop.......if the toilet does not flush, there might be an old empty bucket to put faucet water into the toilet tank so I can flush by pulling the float thingy up.... which I know is what I should do because there is no cover on the toilet tank and there is the empty bucket.....

Before we go into Carl, Jr's, I grab my 3 pesos and my napkins. I go inside and look for the bano. There is toilet paper in the stall, there is no waste can in the stall, there is a lid on the tank and no empty bucket on the floor.....I put my paper and pesos back into my pocket and remind myself where I am......

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Overnight in San Carlos





As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we are overnighting in San Carlos, at the Tetakawi Best Western. The top photo shows the pool as it is this morning and the second photo shows the pool as it was, full of dirt, rocks and slush, after tropical storm Julio came through here in late August. We arrived here that night in pouring rain, thunder, lightning and high winds. Last night there were strong winds, but no rain and a very clear, sunny morning now.
In the lobby this morning I met a group of divers on a tour from Phoenix. They have been here for a four day dive in the Sea of Cortez.
As I am telling Bill about meeting them, it prompts a quick discussion about one of our great all time trips...
When I was a flight attendant, one of our most memorable personal travel trips was departing Seattle during a snow storm in January. We got the last two seats available on a Delta flight at $13.00 a piece. After a rather long delay in Miami we arrived on the island of St. Croix, where we stayed at the Hotel on the Cay (where they used to film a portion of the old Starsky and Hutch series) for about $15.00 a night.
Bill and I were very excited about snorkeling, but after being in the water for about 30 seconds, I panicked when I saw all of the fish swimming around me. I gulped and gurgled, could not breathe, and I flailed ridiculously in the clear water. I thought I was going to drown and die then and there. Bill is now reminding me that the water was only about 3 feet deep. I don't remember that. I'm not sure I could touch bottom. He is saying I jumped up and ran screaming out of the water. I don't remember that either. Well. It is a darn good thing I am telling this story and he is not.....
ON TO TUCSON WE GO......

Monday, September 8, 2008

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Isn't that a tune from The Little Mermaid?

I should know.... one summer KD and Ian watched The Little Mermaid 37 times. Sometimes they watched it with Lisa, from across the street, sometimes with Xan and Wes, from next door, but I always seemed to get sucked in..... it was one of my favorites...

One Disneyworld vacation highlight was seeing the live version of The Little Mermaid. I brought this up recently.....KD said she did not remember the show......Ian said he hated that show....

Am I a terrible mother for letting them watch it 37 times, and yes, we did keep track and 37 is accurate....maybe we only watched it because I liked it, I can't remember now. In fact, that really sounds strange, that I would even allow my children to watch anything that many times.......
The movie obviously made different, but hopefully harmless impacts on them. I mean, they both like the ocean, they like fish, they aren't scared of ursula monsters or dogs or storms....

So, anyways, it is hot here.

It is much hotter, I think, than it was in June, July or August. I am very surprised. It was hot and humid during the other months, but I was still able to get to the soccer field and the gym and even later in the morning, to the mercado. In these 8 days of September, I have only been able to get to the track if I am up and on my feet by 5am. Then I am under a fan by 7am, reading or getting something ready for the crockpot, again under a fan. We cannot get far from a fan.

And it brings up discussions of air conditioning. I am not a fan of air conditioning. However, Bill is. He is pushing for one room with air conditioning. I will see how the rest of September goes. Fortunately we have 2 overhead fans in the outdoor living room area. Bill installed these and they are fabulous. Each of the bedrooms has a ceiling fan, which Bill was able to get spinning, so we are fairly comfortable in those rooms. But, if we are not under the fans, we are dealing with the heat in a variety of ways......mostly by getting in the truck and going somewhere.

So, that has precipitated another trip to Tucson to the storage unit and then, to Home Depot to buy a chain saw which would cost us over $400 in Mexico......
What this means is that we will make some purchases and get things from the unit in all this heat and once the weather changes and cools down, we will be tackling the roof of our casa and putting on a new one.

We were just in Tucson around the 1st of September and we made that 3rd border crossing. Honestly, there is nothing exciting about that crossing to report. HOWEVER, aduana actually walked over to our truck.......do you have any guns, he asked...no, no, no guns, just household things, Bill answered......and he waved us through. That was it. Before we crossed, we had been sitting in a US supermarket parking lot near the Mariposa border for an hour so I could translate the list into Spanish. Bill was very impatient, it was early afternoon and we needed to get to San Carlos by dark. He said that I could work on the list as we drove to the border. I said, what if we get there too soon and the list isn't complete. He said, does it matter...well, you can only imagine what I said.

Below are a few photos of the border crossing at Mariposa, which is called the truck route crossing. It is the alternative to crossing the border at Nogales centro (downtown).





We never follow the arrow to the left, we just keep going straight. Sometimes we wonder if we ARE supposed to turn left...but we only wonder.....
In the photo above Bill is checking the IKEA load after we have gone through the crossing. While the load doesn't look huge, we actually brought alot of things back with us. The truck cab is stuffed to the ceiling. In the photo below, the road curves downhill into a spectacular view of the Mexico mountain range, the Sierra Madre Occidental. And, just like that, we are across the border and heading back home.....