Sunday, November 28, 2010

Health Insurance, Work, and a Humorous Article on Being Mexican

I have been VERY busy first with trips to San Juan del Rio to get my health insurance. Although I had intended to go the IMSS route, I heard that going back some months ago, they no longer accept single applicants. Since I have no family here, I did not qualify under that rule. I had tried a few private firms but my age seemed to be a deterrent--I never heard a word! So on to Seguro Popular. I'm now insured for 3 years for anything but a pre-existing condition and covered for physician visits, diagnostic techniques, hospitalisation, surgery other than elective, even some medicine. At no cost. Wow!

Now, about the endless work. I had thought for a while about removing carpet tiles in my rig because of the constant dust. Regardless how often I'd vacuum and wipe everything in sight, the super-fine dust came back with a vengeance, the very same day! Before I'd start to rip up the carpet, I had to make sure that I could find vinyl tiles. There is a Home Depot in Querétaro but I kept delaying going there. So when in San Juan last week, I checked around to see if and where I could find any. I found one little store where the tiles are cheaper than at Home Depot and of a better quality. So I started to rip out the carpet tiles, which are backed by a semi-rigid product that provided a good insulation but are infinitely more difficult to remove than they were to install. And I did the installation, so I know. It isn't over yet. Hard and gruelling work. Which kept me away from either blog. Sorry folks. I am a busy woman.

Now, to levity. An article at appeared that I found hilarious. Some of the traits that could be attributed to a mamacita actually applied to my mother and my aunties (except for the language connection). I was born in a French-speaking milieu, in a catholic country and it is amazing how close the idiosyncrasies of one culture are to the other. Which would explain how and why I find myself so much at ease in Mexico. Home. Here is the link

I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you do, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Heartfelt Thanks

Since today is a very special day, I feel that some thanks are owed.

I am grateful for my readers without whom my writing would be but a song unsung, thrown to the winds, forever untold. Thank you.

I am grateful for my children, and all my friends, new and old, in both the U.S. and Canada, and now Mexico. More than grandiose vistas, all of you have made my travels worthwhile just to encounter you, whether in person or through the written word. All of you have enriched my life. Thank you.

Today I received an email from a young friend in Alberta, Canada. She sent an attachment without words. I want to share it with you. It brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. Please click on it. You won't be disappointed. It's just one more thing for which I'm grateful and that I want to share. It's called a Random act of Culture at Macy's

Happy Thanksgiving to All!


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Friday, November 19, 2010

Pardon me for Stepping on my Soapbox

I generally opt out of following the news, but cannot totally remain ignorant since I use Yahoo as my internet opening page. Actually, it would be the same with MSN, or practically any other provider. A few days ago, I read about John Tyner who refused a full body scan at the San Diego Airport, and was then directed for a full body pat. He said to the attendant who would pat him thoroughly, "Don't touch my junk", meaning his genitals. It all turned out a very big hullabaloo with threats of a fine of $10,000. even after he had gotten a refund from the airline, and he'd been escorted by a policeman toward the exit.

The first fact that stared me in the face is how terribly invasive and offensive these procedures are. Who would choose to have a perfect stranger examine your naked body? Many of us are even ill at ease disrobing for a doctor! In the face of such losses as the economy fosters on families and individuals--loss of gainful employment and all that it entails, loss of home, bleak prospects for children's education, non-access to medical care, etc. etc. one freedom should remain. That of protecting one's own body from unwanted intrusions or invasions. I may not earn a salary, or even live in a regular home. But my body remains MINE alone. To reveal naked or not. My choice. To be groped at or not. My decision. To have one's most intrinsically private possession, perhaps the final one, exposed in stark nakedness or groped at in a way that would be judged an indecent act in other circumstances, and this by order of the government, is the final act of coercion into totally surrendering to Big Brother.

A second fact is that if we look back at 9/11, the greatest loss of human lives and property was the assault on the twin towers. The airplanes that slammed into the World Trade Center were piloted by privately trained men. Thousands of lives were lost and I feel quite sure that had those men been scanned for weapons or any article that could be construed as a weapon, they would have passed with flying colours (no pun intended)! Airplanes had been their weapon of ultimate destruction. I do not doubt for one second that whenever and wherever terrorists would plan an attack, most if not all would be knowledgeable enough to realize what procedures are in place at the airports of the world. If they are determined to mount an attack, they will find a way to achieve their goal. A difficult to accept but stark reality.

Meanwhile, civil liberties are increasingly eroded. When I spoke to my son yesterday, he told me of his sister-in-law who had to go to a pharmacy. She went with her miniature Shih-Tzu all properly leashed, then tied the little one outside the pharmacy. A civil security employee accosted her and told her that she wasn't allowed to leave the dog tied outside. OoooK. She then untied the dog, took it in her arms, and started going into the pharmacy. Whereupon, the zealous civil employee followed her in and told her that she wasn't allowed to take the dog inside either. A discussion ensued. Finally, the obviously annoyed pharmacist intervened and said that he was ok with it, then proceeded to fill her prescription.

When I decided to come to Mexico, it was following an incident where I had been parking the rig for years in a small town of rural Alberta. I had secured official permission from the RCMP to park on that abandoned road between a town street and the new highway through town. And it had been given every year. I was careful to keep Keesha and Teddie leashed when they were still with me, then Queenie for that last year.

I had undergone elbow surgery in June and was following a program of physiotherapy twice a week through August. One day when I returned to my parking spot, I noticed that signs had been nailed to the fences on each side of the RV. They posted "Private Road" (an absolute falsehood), "No Camping", "Positively No Camping"... This on a road where I had often witnessed big rigs with trailers full of horses dropping by the field a bit down from where I was parked to let their animals take care of natural needs. At other times, big 16 wheelers would park a bit ahead of me and let their engine run all night long. On weekends, youngsters in a mood to party would litter the area with beer bottles and fast food containers. At the sight of my RV, they would leave for another party spot.

It did upset me a great deal. Feelings of dejection, rejection and finally disgust and of wanting to be free from it all shook me up. You will tell me that these are the risks of boondocking in towns. Not necessarily everywhere, but increasingly so, and on account of bylaws. Pray tell what harm can a lone woman (or a couple for that matter) in an RV parked overnight cause? The week before, I had watched on the news how a woman from North or South Carolina who lived up a hill in what appeared more of a rural area than a high-rise or condo environment had been told on threat of a fine that she wasn't allowed to hang her clothes on a clothesline! 

It has been very insidious how bit by bit, one bylaw following another, our liberties (dare I say our rights?) have been eroded, most of the time without our really noticing it. All in the name of law and order? or to ensure conformity in the general populace? I suppose that many bylaws have an ultimate aim to protect citizens. But tell me how the size of a leash or the breed of a dog consists of a threat. When I got Teddie Rottweiler at 10 months of age, I wasn't aware that she was considered an "Unacceptable Breed". The condo association sent me an ultimatum in writing, get rid of the puppy or face expulsion. Within the month I had moved out. BTW my Rottweiler Teddie, in the 10 years of her life, never so much as adopt an aggressive attitude or made even an appearance of a threat to bite anything other than her kibble and her toys.

The football player Michael Vick ran dog fights (secretly) where some atrocities were taking place regularly in defiance of laws and bylaws. Many of the animals were rescued by Best Friends Animal Society and fully rehabilitated. Please check out Best Friends. If I was a four-legged and suffering, I would pray to be rescued by them. It's people who choose a particular breed as a way to vicariously feel the "power" of owning such a dog who are the culprits as well as those who breed them so carelessly for profit. 

As a result, all these liberties lost have created an environment where neighbour watches over neighbour for any violation of a sacred bylaw, eager to report it and see him, her, or them, suffer dire consequences. Have we become a society of piously intolerant citizens, impatient with non-conformists, eager to prey upon one another in the name of LAW? Perhaps not such a society everywhere or quite such a one just as yet, but certainly a litigious one. So now it is either conform or pony up the $$$! If you can't, jail time! In many places, you can't even paint your own house to your liking--bylaws forbid it. Why such intolerance? What happened to "Live and Let Live"? And please refrain from pointing out that it's all for the purpose of protecting citizens. How much liberty must we surrender for so called protection? I seem to recall how the Godfather and his minions also offered protection to merchants, bar and store owners...

How I love Mexico! What a breath of fresh air it is from what to me felt repressive if not outright oppressive! Houses are painted in many colours here and make it a vibrant, lively and amazing sight. Based on what I have lived, I'm saying Women Solo RV'ers, BEWARE! You may at times be envied. But all too often you'll be judged as foolish, dangerously courting grievous mishaps, and sometimes be hinted at as I was, "...why aren't you home knitting for the grand-children or taking care of the hubby or waiting for death in your rocking chair?" No longer willing to be subjected to such judgmental attitudes, I found comfort in numbers. Which is why I liked it so much boondocking on BLM lands. At least I was among other non-conformists. Bylaws and regulations at RV parks, coupled with serious crowding up of RV'ers parked (packed?) as sardines in a can, also sent me towards boondocking.

That is, until I made it to Mexico where I found a land of delicious freedom. And I love it so much that I don't even feel like visiting back "home". I'm not saying that Mexico doesn't have its problems. What country is without? But it does feel so much freer, so accepting, so friendly and nonjudgmental. Imagine, I had to give up my favourite Jif peanut butter, some bargains, books in English, and I'll even admit to sometimes a few things more. But my gains are undeniable. I'm living healthier, without many of the stresses imposed by laws, bylaws, rules and regulations. With time, I'll be able to read books in Spanish and will get them free at the public library. And imagine!  Instead of losing my house to recession, I'm boondocking on MY lot, and planning to build MY house to my liking, and paint it whatever colour I want! How I love my new country, Mexico lindo y querido!

Please pardon me for getting on my soapbox. I promise to restrict myself to boondocking, Mexico, and RV'ing solo in the future. It's just that sometimes, I feel either terribly disturbed or profoundly emotional about some issues, freedom being my main "obsession".

Photos, Generator, Mindy, House Plan, Forum

Welcome new followers! I've been asked for photos. I will oblige shortly. Right now, my photo ops are rather limited. I've lost some plants. My lot is not landscaped and won't be until after my little house is built, some time next year. $$$ constraints. I hope that my fruit trees are becoming dormant for the winter. They are devoid of leaves. We'll see in a couple of months. My beautiful schefflera is totally d e a d, just as it had begun to grow new leaves. I'll have to replace it in the spring but will plant it in a large ceramic pot. This way, I'll be able to move it inside when there is a risk of close to freezing temps. We did have a cold snap a while ago when the night temperature dropped once to -4 Celsius and kept around freezing for a week, but at night only. The days are superb but the nights confirm that there is a winter season here as well. The Pacific beaches have more of a tropical flavour and weather but I do love Tequisquiapan. It seldom is unbearably hot or long enough to warrant air conditioning as it does in more tropical places. And the change of seasons without ice and snow feels both familiar and lovely.

I have gone through a difficult time attempting to get my generator fixed. And it has kept me busy physically going on a search... (Since I have no car, it means using public transportation; it eats up so much more time!) A friend's husband had tried to fix it a while back but accidentally set the whole thing on fire. Now it appears that many components may have been damaged. It has become a costly and hopeless proposition. I'll simply drop it. I can live pretty well with solar energy but cannot use my washer. So I give the large items, like bath towels and sheets, etc. to be laundered elsewhere and look after my own clothes by hand.

Mexico also goes on Daylight Saving Time and since we switched back to Standard Time, my days have sensibly shortened because it gets dark around 6 p.m. Without the use of my generator, I must do EVERYTHING during daylight hours. Running the computer at night is now impossible as it would lower my batteries' voltage way too much. I had faced a similar problem in the desert. So now, it's definitely Early to Bed, Early to Rise; I'm certainly healthy, I'm nowhere richer, and will eventually find out if I've become wiser!

Something weird happened to Mindy. Before the girls reached puberty and got their first heat, I got them spayed in San Juan del Rio. Everything seemed to be going fine until a couple of weeks ago. Mindy appeared to be in heat! I took her to the vet as I'd been told that a vaginal infection might provoke similar symptoms. Well, all was clear and she was indeed in heat. The vet said that it sometimes happens when a few cells of an ovary are unwittingly left behind and begin producing estrogen. While there is no risk of unwanted pregnancy she's been pathetic, ardently approaching any male regardless of species that would venture forth on this side of the fence. A bit embarrassing for all but guileless Mindy.

I have been working on my plan for the little house. I must have revised it 5 or 6 times. But finally, I think I've got it. After I mark the perimeter of the house on the lot with powdered lime, I'll get a definite confirmation of it. When I did it a while back, it made me realize that my plan was all wrong.

Also, I haven't stopped checking the internet about adding a forum to my new blog. I have spent DAYS copying html codes, inserting them in my new blog template, even lost it for a while to my great consternation, all without success. It's driving me nuts! But I've been raised with the D system (for Determination) ingrained in my bones. I'll get it going!

So, please forgive me for no new photos. I'll remedy it this weekend.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Heartfelt Thanks to my Followers

I have been blogging for a couple of years now but was sometimes far from punctual with my posts. I'm not attempting to present apologies but simply to offer facts. Life trekking solo does present challenges and problems. At times, it was easy to pour out my soul to sympathetic readers. But hardly fair. So I tried to do it as little as possible. However, it did have an impact on my ability to share. I was terribly concerned about discouraging "wannabes" (as you call yourselves, and as I saw myself once upon a time, rather unflatteringly...) from attempting the experiences of a solo traveler on the roads of our beautiful continent.
But in all fairness, how can one feel confident unless fully prepared for the uncertainties of a new life so far removed from the everyday "humdrum", yet comfortable, challenges of a predictable routine? I did personally rely on others' experiences to gauge my preparedness for the road. I'm not sure whether I succeeded, but in the end, any tip was worth its weight in gold. I was earnest in sharing truthfully so that others would benefit from my experiences. The Good, the Exhilarating, the Bad, and the Awful. And here I'd like to offer an analogy. There is no school of parenting. Yet most, if not all of us, will eventually father or mother a child of more. And we do wing it as we go along. Sometimes with smashing successes, at other times with painful failures. Life goes on. And so do we.
Just as in an everyday "humdrum" life there are highs and lows, so it is on the road. The only difference is that when one is stationary, there are friends and family members to share with us in delighting with the highs and in helping to alleviate the lows, all with a sense of the familiar and readily recognizable. It is different trekking solo. When one wants to share in the awesome wonder of a spectacular sunset or the worry about faltering machines, one can sometimes feel rather lonely. However, I can state unequivocally that the Good and Exhilarating far outweigh the Bad and Awful. And THAT keeps most going.
So here I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all those who faithfully follow my blog. Although it appears as a connection through the written word only, nevertheless it feels as a heartfelt connection from my soul to yours and vice-versa. You simply have no idea how it can help a solo RV'er going on, whether trekking or stationary. 
Thank you. I love you.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boondocking in Cold Weather

The temperature here has been plunging near freezing point in the middle of the night. This morning I woke up in a -4 Celsius temp! I'm told it is highly unusual and I do recall that last year, at this time of the year, it never got as cold as it has so far this year. At night, I couldn't use the forced air furnace in the rig since the electric fan blowing out the hot air drew a lot of power, dangerously discharging the batteries with the thermostat kicking in throughout the night. This was compounded by my solar panels laying flat on the roof. So yesterday I took things into my own hands...

Ismael has been coming a couple of times a month to help out with chores that are beyond my ken or power. Yesterday, he got on the roof of the RV to elevate the solar panels to about 20 degrees of arc to orient them towards the south according to our degree of latitude. Bingo! Immediately, the regulator showing the array current jumped from 7.4 to 10.1. Recharging the batteries now takes no time at all. In fact, using my PC hardly makes a dent in the voltage. Sweet!

The day before I finally convinced Emilio, the mechanic-machinist from Ezequiel Montes, to come to my rescue and attend to the generator. Actually, it was a cry for help since all I had to heat the rig was a small propane heater with only two ceramic plates. The cold had been so intense that it failed to provide enough heat for the bedroom area and the bathroom, way at the back of the rig.
So Emilio came, disconnected the carburetor and it was a shock to see that it was no larger than an orange. He dismantled it and thoroughly cleaned it. He then adjusted the air/gasoline ratio and voilà! That was all that it took to make it run perfectly. So now, for a quick warm-up I can use the furnace when I need to heat the whole house (especially including the bedroom and bathroom...) then switch to the propane heater for the night.

Next week, I'll have to skirt the rig to cut down as much as possible the outside areas exposed to the wind and cold. A fifth-wheel or regular trailer would make the job a little easier with a flat level bottom. Actually, mine rises towards the back of the rig and is thus on a slant. This allows for more cold to seep through the floor where the bedroom and bathroom are located. No worry. Ismael will land a hand. Or better, two.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Asking for Help re: Forum

I have spent hours (actually, it's more like a full day and then some) trying to get a free forum that works on Google's blogspot. The instructions were clear enough but were based on the presumption that a certain line of two possible ones would be present in the template html description. Neither of the lines appeared. I tried to improvise but it never worked. My forum is already registered with Nabble and I got the html script to include in the template. All I got was a couple lines of a message that "...cannot parse..." as written. I really don't know what to do to get the forum going.

Can anyone help?

Please email me if you can. I really want to get this blog going, like yesterday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Generator and Time as a Relative Concept

He came! The mechanic/machinist from Ezequiel Montes showed up! On time! Well, relatively... There are a number of problems tied in to proper maintenance on the generator. The size of the machine and its fitting in a restricted space for one--no access at all to the carburetor. It was so plugged up that while it ignited at first, pretty soon the gasoline would fail to arrive and instead would get mixed into the oil while also dripping wherever convenient--on machine parts and/or outside on the ground. A no-fail recipe for an eventual fire or explosion. I DID find this to be oh-so-true...

There were a few other reasons for the dirty carburetor. Ever since I'd arrived in Mexico, we've been at an altitude of over 6,000 feet. I had learned that at this altitude, the air-gasoline ratio has to be leaner so an adjustment that should have been made never was. This for lack of encountering a Honda trained or Honda knowledgeable mechanic in my peregrinations and proper access to the part. Another was the difficulty in finding Honda parts and substituting with "equivalent" ones, which does not necessarily mean equal or identical. For a terrific workhorse, it does seem a bit temperamental, doesn't it!

While the mechanic was removing the air filter and its casing to check on the carburetor w...a...y behind, we chatted and I mentioned all of the above. He stopped for a second, looked at me, and said something to the effect that I appeared to know a couple of things about the machine. (You think... after 6 years!) A very good preamble to what I next suggested to him. "...why try to remove the whole machine if only the carburetor needs maintenance? Can you easily remove it?" Another meaningful stare... and a obvious smile of relief. He had come prepared with a truck, a jack, and even a trailer. But alone. No way it could have been done without at least 2 men.

However, by then the sun was way down and there was not enough light to comfortably work in the cubbyhole. Without the generator, not enough power was left in the batteries for a light extension if I wanted to have enough juice for the night. He said he'd be back at around 10 AM mañana, i.e. today. Haven't seen him yet.

A little aside about the law of relativity as it applies to time here in Mexico. Everyone knows that mañana means tomorrow (well... at least technically or linguistically speaking.) Let me disabuse you of this concept. Mañana simply means "not today". As I found out with Los Coyotes and my load of dirt that never made it here. Frustratingly so, it may also mean never. Only in time can one tell.

Yep... patience is a virtue. I fully expect that within a relatively short time by my northern reckoning, I'll become the most virtuous female well practiced in patience between latitudes 19 and 20! At least at this longitude.

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