I Think We’re Ready

The day after tomorrow is going to be a Big Day, one we’ve been waiting on for months, and another one of those where our lives are going to change big time. After eight years without, we’re going to be dog owners again.

We are as ready as we can be to add the little puppy above into our lives. We have a crate, a bed, loads of puppy pads, a toothbrush, a comb, and bitter spray to (hopefully) protect the wood. His feeding dishes are set up. We have a collar along with a tag engraved with his name and our phone number, and a harness and leash. We have toys galore, courtesy of Meiling, and we have a vet lined up. The kennel has taken care of all his vaccinations, he has been neutered, and they have had him groomed. The only thing we don’t know is his preferred food, but the kennel will let us know what that is (and be sending some home with us to start him off).

Meiling sent Kai a wonderful assortment of toys – chew, dental, and just for fun – to start off his life with us. The long blue dog was our previous Shihpoo’s favorite, so she though Kai should have one too.

Our hearts are more than ready for this little guy, and we are as mentally ready as we can be. We’ve never raised a puppy before though so it will be an adjustment for all of us. Kai is very energetic, and our current space is small, so we know there’ll be some adjustment there. Also, after approximately six months at the kennel he is used to his routine and friends there, so it will take him a while to adjust to new routines with us as well.

We can’t wait to meet him! He is quite small and definitely favors his toy poodle dad versus his Shih Tzu mom (our last Shihpoo was the reverse). According to the kennel he is at or very near his full height now but will add a few pounds in the next few months. He will always be a small dog though, which is what we wanted this time for a variety of reasons. His caretaker at the kennel says he is an absolutely love and he will be missed.

Life is going to change for us, but once again it will be another adventure and a very good thing!

(P.S. Don’t forget you can leave an entry every day for the coffee giveaway!)

Coffee Time: A Giveaway from Mexico!

I am typically not a big fan of flavored coffee, and ones I’ve tried in the U.S. have always been disappointing (to me), but during our time in San Miguel de Allende I rediscovered how good flavored coffees can be if done right. The lavender coffee we enjoyed at Lavanda Cafe was amazing, and so are these wonderful flavored coffees I found at City Market. We brought home several bags of it for ourselves, and I also picked up a few extra for a giveaway. Brett and I enjoy a small cup every evening with our dessert and it will be a sad day for us when it runs out.

There will be three winners for the giveaway. I will choose a first, second, and third place winner with first-place getting first choice of the flavor they prefer: cinnamon (canela), vanilla (vainilla), or hazelnut (avellana). The second-place winner will choose between the remaining two flavors, and third place will receive the remaining package.

All three of the flavors are delicious! The coffee is a darker roast, and the flavor is present but not overwhelming. There are no added sweetners. Each resealable bag contains an approximate half pound of coffee.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post only. You can enter once a day to increase your chances of winning, and receive an extra entry by either letting me know you are a subscriber or subscribing to the blog. Previous giveaway winners are eligible to enter again. This giveaway will be open through midnight CST Friday, September 3, with the winners chosen by a random name selector and announced on Sunday, September 4. Entries are limited to those in the United States or Canada. I will contact the winners to get addresses and mail the packages out during the first week of September. I apologize that I can only accept entries from the U.S. and Canada.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Please remember to leave your entry on this post only, but that you can enter every day.

Sunday Morning 8/14/2022: What a Week!

The living room and dining room look out to a wooded area behind the apartment complex

I think I can safely say that we are settled, or at least very close to it. Only a couple of things are left to arrive: the credenza for the TV and Brett’s desk, but otherwise we finally have an Internet connection; the living room, dining room and bedroom are mostly put together; and the kitchen is organized with everything put away. We’ve decided though to return the rug we ordered. There’s nothing wrong with it but we thought it would be better to wait and add a rug later after our puppy is more settled. All of the stuff we mailed to Massachusetts arrived in good condition except for four items which broke somewhere along the way. It was sad to lose them but none were heartbreakers as some of our other things would have been. Finding a place for everything has been a bit of a challenge though as the apartment lacks storage (IMO) – we’ve made a few trips to Target and such this past week to pick up organizers, things like a shoe rack and hanging storage for the closet among other items in order to get everything to fit. As much as we downsized before our move, apparently we still have too much stuff.

The apartment is lovely though. We somehow ended up with an “upgraded” unit, so have wood (laminate) floors, nicer kitchen and bathroom finishes, more windows, a larger bathtub, and other things including a full-size washer and dryer. We’re on the ground floor, but for the most part the upstairs neighbors are quiet, especially compared to what we put up with back in Hawaii. The apartment’s floor plan is great, it’s a nice size for the two of us, and we’re conveniently located just across the driveway/parking from our daughter-in-law. There have been a couple of problems though – the electrical outlets in the living room have stopped working and the storage locker was keyed wrong so we couldn’t get into it – but the complex’s maintenance crew has been quick to make contact and get things fixed or at least get started on it. The air-conditioning is sublime as it’s been hot and humid since we arrived. Today’s temperature is supposed to reach 91 degrees.

I feel totally lost here though. The area and neighborhood where we live is beautifully landscaped and filled with shopping areas, but everything looks alike to me and I can’t remember where I’m supposed to turn (same for Brett at times although he mostly is oriented now). Although I think we can now get to Target, Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s without assistance for everything else we don’t dare to go without the GPS turned on. Brett has also figured out how to get to and from K’s school, but she will take the school bus beginning next week so we’ll rarely need to go there.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) We picked up our car the day we arrived, and even though everything was supposedly done beforehand, the process still took nearly three (exhaustingly boring) hours! We’re extremely happy with our new car though. 2) We had several tiring days in a row of unpacking and putting things away, but got that done and all the trash that was produced disposed of. 3) Brett has had to assemble something almost daily but there are only two more pieces to go (one scheduled to arrive later today). The bed frame arrived without instructions, but after a moment of panic he laid out all the pieces, looked at them and at a picture of the bed and put it together beautifully in around three hours. At the same time he began I started assembling the shade for the lamp we purchased for the living room but I only got 2/3 of the way through by the time he finished! Brett said the lampshade assembly – 72 strips which had to be fit into the shade – was far worse than assembling the bed. I finished it the next morning though and we love the lamp! 4) We shopped at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Costco and have enough food to get us through until the end of the month.
  • What we’re looking forward to this week: 1) We are bringing our puppy home this coming Saturday! The kennel sent us a new video of him this past week, and he sure takes after his toy poodle dad versus his Shih Tzu mom. Other than adding a few pounds he’s fully grown and very energetic. Our DIL and K will be going up to Indiana with us to bring him home. This coming week we’ll be picking up items we’ll need for him for the journey home and after: a crate, leash, harness, collar, etc. 2) We’re looking forward to getting the last pieces of furniture delivered and getting those in place so we can finally say we’re finished. 3) We’re going to being able to relax and rejuvenate a bit this week. The last two weeks have been crazy busy and we’re ready for a rest!
We have an actual jar this time for our change and $1 bills.
  • The ways we saved: 1) Our son and DIL surprised us with a $300 Target gift card, which helped in a BIG way for the many things we needed to replace here (broom, organizers, soaps, shelf liner, etc.). 2) Food prices here are quite low compared to what they were back in Hawaii (but of course more than Mexico), and between Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Costco got everything we needed for the rest of the month and came in right at what we had budgeted! There is normally sales tax on food in Tennessee but it’s suspended in August so we saved a bundle on that as well. 3) We had allotted $500 for gasoline for our drive from Massachusetts but spent only $272. 4) We brought along just $40 cash with us on the drive, and saved all the $1 bills and change we received back along the way and are starting off our new change/$1 bill jar with $21.72! 5) We ate free breakfasts at both hotels we stayed at, skipped lunch, and got dinner for free at the second hotel as well. We didn’t use our credit card once during the entire trip (hotels were paid for in advance).
We shopped for the first time at a U.S. ALDI and it lived up to the hype. It will be our primary grocery store.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Two and a half long years ago we left Japan, and this past week we were finally reunited with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. We had missed them so, so much and we’re having a wonderful time with them. Our son and grandson will return to Japan next week but will be back in December. 2) Everyone we’ve met so far has been very kind and very helpful which has made this transition much easier. 3) Meiling sent us a huge box from Chewy filled with chew toys and other fun items for our puppy. 4) Everything we have purchased online for the apartment has either arrived early or on time, and in good condition. So far we love all the furniture we chose. 5) K started kindergarten this past week and had a great time. C finished up his two weeks of outdoor camp and already wants to sign up for next year!

Pretty much all that will be left to do this week is hang pictures, but that’s going to be a bit of a challenge as we’re not allowed to put any sort of nail or tack into the walls. I’ve been researching Command hooks and other products and we’ll eventually figure out which will work best. Another project for me this coming week will be to figure out my new air fryer as I hope to use it as much as possible instead of the oven to help keep our electric bill down. Otherwise, I plan to read, read, read this week.

We’re glad to finally be here and settling in, and thrilled to be with our family again. I hope everyone reading had a great week as well. Our week was a very exhausting but productive one, and we are looking forward to what looks to be a more relaxing week coming up. Here’s to more good things happening, good books, good food, and family and friends!

Moving In, Getting Settled

A short update from my phone . . .

All is going well in Tennessee although we still don’t have an Internet connection. A technician is scheduled to come on Saturday to see if he can figure out what’s wrong. Data through my phone is all I’ve got right now.

We are almost completely unpacked and the furniture we’ve ordered has been arriving daily. Brett and his trusty tool kit have been busy every day assembling things (the bed came without instructions but he had it together in three hours), and so far we’re happy with everything we’ve bought. We currently have a sofa & loveseat, dining table & chairs, a very comfortable bed (I’ve been sleeping like a log), and bedside tables & lamps. Oh, and a lamp in the living room that about broke my hand when I made the lampshade. Brett said it was easier to assemble the bed without instructions than put one piece of the lampshade together (and there were over 75 pieces to assemble). Our coffee table arrives tomorrow, a console table and small desk for Brett on Saturday, the credenza for the TV on Tuesday, and a rug for the living room on Wednesday and then we’re done!! The apartment is very, very nice but lacks storage somewhat so organizing has been a challenge at times but we’ve made good progress and found a place for everything.

We’re having a terrific time with our son and family. K is sleeping next to me as I write this – her first sleepover at Grandma & Grandpa’s. Brett will fix her breakfast tomorrow and take her to school as our son will be on his way to pick up our grandson from camp. They’ll be back here on Saturday for another week before returning to Japan. Our son just received a major promotion at his company so we’re all celebrating that and M’s work is going well too.

Fingers are crossed that we’re back online on Saturday, but no guarantees. If all goes well I’ll post a giveaway next week! In the meantime, thanks for hanging in there with me. It’s been an exhausting week, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel . . .

. . . when we’ll be adding a small, very energetic puppy to the mix! I think (hope) we’re ready.

Sunday Morning 8/7/2022: A Quick Update

Sunset and blue hour on the way to Boston

We are on our way to Nashville today! We were up early this morning, enjoyed a wonderful free breakfast at the hotel (sausage gravy and biscuits for me!), have loaded up the van once again and will hit the road in a few minutes. Our drive today should only take around three hours (versus the eight hours we’ve driven the past two days).

Our first stop once we arrive in Nashville will be at the car dealer to pick up our new car! Once that piece of business is taken care of we’ll head to our hotel for the night and get checked in, unload the van once more, then head over to see our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. I’m so excited about that I can barely stand it!

We had a long day last Tuesday getting out of San Miguel de Allende and up to Boston, but our flights were comfortable and we actually arrived on time with WenYu and Meiling waiting for us. After we got home to WenYu’s we spent a couple of hours catching up with the girls, and then Brett and I fell into a deep sleep. I honestly did not sleep well the entire time we were in Mexico and it was wonderful to sleep so deeply again without waking up several times during the night or super early in the morning (like between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m.). I couldn’t get over the difference in how good I felt the next morning.

Good times in Massachusetts

Our two days in Massachusetts went by too quickly. On Wednesday, WenYu and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for Brett and I to carry along on our journey. Afterwards she took us on a walk around their property (the house sits on 10 wooded acres) – such a lovely place to live! Meiling had found a box of oil paints in a free box on her street, and brought them along with her along with a couple of canvasses, so we had fun watching the girls both try oil painting for the first time. In the evening we had dinner over at WenYu’s partner’s parent’s home. We enjoyed our time with them immensely and it was obvious they adore WenYu and look out for her. Early Thursday afternoon WenYu took us over to pick up our rental van, which turned out to be not only brand new but much, much bigger than we expected. Brett loaded it with all our stuff when we got back to the house, then he and I went with the girls to a concert being held at WenYu’s workplace. The band was great, and we had a very good time at the event (WenYu had recently worked with the band to design their logo). WenYu picked up sushi for everyone on the way home for a late dinner.

If there was a downside to our stay it was that WenYu’s partner wasn’t feeling well most of the time. He has long Covid (although currently disease free) and has no energy most of the time. It’s made it very difficult for him to work or do other things. He did show us around his work spaces (some in his home, some in his parents’ home), and provided us with gifts (a t-shirt for Brett and some of his product adorned with Meiling’s and WenYu’s artwork for me, to which I will add necessary accoutrement for a Christmas gift for our grandson). We left with a much better understanding of his product and the process that goes into designing, fabrication, and then getting it to customers.

We set off early Friday morning, and made our way through five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, stopping in Chambersburg for the night). We were up early again yesterday morning, enjoyed a delicious free breakfast at the hotel, reloaded the van, and traveled through another five states – Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, a long drive through Virginia, and finally Tennessee – stopping for the night in Knoxville. We have spent over $100 less than expected on gas, and less than $10 for food and drink while we’ve been on the road (WenYu gave us sandwiches to bring along). Breakfasts have been free at both hotels, and the hotel in Knoxville (Drury Inn) provided a free dinner as well.

There was lots of road work in MA, CT, and NY that added about an hour to our drive on Friday, but we also endured an awful rain storm in Pennsylvania for nearly an hour – we could barely see the road in front of us! Thankfully almost all the other cars and trucks put on their emergency flashers so we could see them. The roads were better yesterday but we had to drive through not one but two even worse storms, one in Virginia and one as we approached Knoxville. Both of these storms were frightening, with even heavier rain than Friday and loads of thunder and lightening, but very few put on their flashers and some didn’t even turn on their lights. Thankfully Brett is a good driver who remained calm and just kept going although we had a near miss during the final storm when a car pulling a trailer without any lights on stopped for some reason in the middle of the Interstate versus pulling over and we almost ran right into him. Thankfully Brett was able to swerve around him at the last second.

Anyway, it’s been quite the journey so far but we are ready to finally be in Nashville and start unpacking and settling in. We will meet with the property manager tomorrow morning to get the keys to our place, then will unload the van for the last time and head to Costco to purchase a mattress and TV. The van will be returned on Tuesday, and after that’s taken care of we’ll go food shopping. Our furniture will arrive on Thursday and we should be nearly settled by next weekend!

Sunday Morning 7/31/2022: Hasta Luego, Mexico!

Tomorrow will be our last full day in San Miguel de Allende. We’ll finish up packing later today and tomorrow, and enjoy a farewell seafood dinner at Mario’s Mariscos this evening. We cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry this past week and will take the pantry leftovers to our neighbor Jenny tomorrow. We leave for the airport at 8:00 am Tuesday morning, and depart later in the morning for Dallas where we’ll have a several-hour layover (and a trip through U.S. immigration and customs) before heading up to Boston. We’re flying first class on both legs of the trip, made possible by the refund we received from British Air and surprising low prices from the airline. We plan to wear our masks the whole way, and hopefully won’t have to worry too much about others either next to or around us. We’ll be fed on both legs of the trip too so maybe we can skip having to buy anything other than a cup of coffee at the Dallas airport. WenYu and her partner will meet us in Boston, no matter what time we get in, and bring us back up to their place.

We will mostly be spending our time in Massachusetts getting ourselves ready for the drive to Nashville. We’ve rented a cargo van and will be loading that up with all the things we sent from Hawaii as well as the items we ordered from Amazon. Meiling will be joining us while we’re at WenYu’s, and we’re planning to go out to dinner one evening with WenYu’s partner’s parents, and will also visit WenYu’s workplace as well as her partner’s business. He is the owner of a multi-million dollar niche firm he started when he was nine years old!

Can’t wait to see these two next week as well as our DIL! Our son and K took our grandson, C, to a two-week outdoor camp in Wyoming and then visited Grand Teton NP while they were there (C will finish camp and be back in Tennessee for a few days a week after we arrive). K discovered air dryers on their trip (they shut them down in Japan when the pandemic started), and apparently they’re now her favorite thing about the U.S.

This time next week though we’ll be in Tennessee! We’ll be having Sunday morning breakfast in Knoxville and then dinner with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in Franklin that evening (our grandson will still be at camp in Wyoming). After getting the keys to our apartment on Monday morning and unloading all our stuff from the van we’ll head over and pick up our new car then go to Costco to purchase a mattress and a TV. On Tuesday we’ll visit Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Costco for groceries. Otherwise the rest of the week we’ll be unpacking, getting some furniture delivered, and spending time with the family.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • A troubling/weird thing that happened: Last Wednesday evening I realized Brett had given me the wrong street number for our address in Tennessee when I placed our delivery orders with IKEA, so I went into my account to see if I could correct the mistake. We had placed two separate orders for our furniture, but the site informed me that in order to make any changes to the address I would have to cancel and reorder everything. This was problematic because a few items were no longer available for delivery to our address. However, when I was looking at one of the orders I noticed the delivery address had been changed from Nashville to one near Baltimore! What??? I went back and checked the the other order again, and the delivery address was changed to the Maryland address while I was on that page! YIKES! I cancelled both orders immediately, and changed my IKEA password. I have no idea if the switch was done by a hacker outside of IKEA who got into my account or by someone working for IKEA who was arranging to get a whole houseful of furniture for themselves but I am so thankful I caught it and was able to stop it. I contacted IKEA and let them know what had happened but they didn’t seem too concerned which was very disappointing. IKEA refunded us immediately, but that left us with no furniture and a decision about what we were going to do. We’ve been monitoring our credit card a couple of times a day ever since to be sure it wasn’t hacked as well but so far all seems to be OK there.
It didn’t take long to get packed, and we got everything to fit!
  • What we accomplished this past week: 1) Things this past week went in a couple of directions: getting ready to pack and starting to pack as well as using up as much of the food we purchased as possible. We’ve done a good job with both and will be ready to go on Tuesday morning. We have just a couple more things left to pack. 2) Brett got our utility accounts in Tennessee set up. The only one left to take care of is the Internet, but that’s done through the apartment complex when we get our keys. 3) We found a nice furniture store near our apartment, and after our money was returned from IKEA we bought a sleeper sofa, loveseat, and dining table and chairs from them. Everything will be delivered two days after we move in, so along with a mattress we’ll be OK to start out. We also found a cabinet we liked for our TV and ordered it as well; it will be delivered right after we move in. We still need a coffee table, possibly an end table, a bed frame, dresser, and nightstands, but they can wait until we get into the apartment and take some measurements.
This is the sofa we ordered (along with a matching love seat) – it’s a light teal. When we saw it we realized how ready we were for some color after years of beige, tan, and gray. I just hope it doesn’t clash too much with the apartment’s carpet and wall color (which are tan and beige, of course).
I found this cabinet for the TV in an online shop and chose metal legs so our puppy can’t chew them (not sure how we’ll protect the wooden sofa legs though). I thought I’d be having fun looking at and buying furniture but my stomach is in knots about it, especially after the IKEA situation. We’ll have less furniture than originally planned, but the quality will be far, far better.
  • What we’re looking forward to this coming week: 1) We’re very excited about seeing Meiling and YaYu and getting to spend a couple of days with them. 2) We leave for Nashville early Friday morning; it will take us two and a half days of driving to get there but we know there’ll be some interesting things to see along the way. 3) We’re planning to have dinner with an old friend from our navy days during our time in Knoxville.
  • What we saved: 1) All we’ll be giving to our neighbor is a can of vegetable oil spray, some vegetable oil and olive oil, two bottles of vinegar, a can of tuna, and half a package of pasta. Otherwise we used up everything. 2) We stayed away from City Market this week except to pick up a bottle of Tums and several bags of the absolutely delicious dark roast cinnamon coffee we discovered there and want to take back with us to the U.S. We usually don’t care for flavored coffee but this stuff is very good and will save us from having to buy coffee right away when we arrive in TN. 3) One reason we chose the TV cabinet above is because the company offered free shipping. However, they also surprised us with a $90 discount (!) because it was our first order from them. So far we have stayed under budget with the furniture we’ve bought, and think once we’re done we’ll be right at our limit or maybe only very slightly over.

It wasn’t all leftovers and odds and ends this past week. The restaurants (and their low prices) have been our favorite thing about SMA.

  • Good things that happened: We returned to some of our favorite eateries for our last week here. For our Wednesday lunch date we went back to Turk for Mediterranean food (a beef & lamb burger for Brett, a mezze platter for me); had tasty beefsteak tacos at Tacos Mario again on Thursday; and went to Rustica one last time for our last Friday brunch (frittata for Brett, chilaquiles for me). Both of us are looking forward to having seafood for dinner tonight at Mario’s Mariscos.
Panio Bakery has provided some delicious desserts for us on many evenings during our stay in SMA.

The big unknown for me leaving SMA is not did I gain weight? but how much? We have not walked/hiked as much as we did back on Kaua’i (we both agree that walking here has been a real pain, sometimes literally) nor have we been as careful about our eating. We definitely fell under the spell of the local bakeries too. My clothes haven’t gotten tight though, and Brett says I look the same, but overall I definitely feel heavier than I did when we arrived. Oh well, we’ll be back on the wagon once we arrive in Tennessee (and are looking forward to it). One of our first tasks will be to locate the gym at the apartment complex – we’ll use their treadmills on hot or rainy days – and we also want to find other nearby walking venues and get back to regular exercise.

I won’t be posting this coming week, nor next Sunday but will be back as soon as we get moved in and connected to the Internet in our apartment. I’ve also got a giveaway planned once I get organized. Thank you to all for staying with me while we make this transition from Mexico to Tennessee – I’ll be back in a little while.

Thoughts on San Miguel de Allende

More than anything, I have loved the colors and flowers of San Miguel de Allende. It’s a feast for the eyes and senses every time we go out.

San Miguel de Allende was a shock to our systems after Hawaii. The heat, the altitude, and the dryness initially knocked the winds out of our sails and it took a few weeks to start feeling like ourselves and appreciating where we were. There have been plusses and minuses throughout our stay, but overall it’s been a positive one. Below are some of my thoughts on our time here:

  • Our apartment has been a nice place to stay, with our friendly neighbors an added bonus, but we eventually realized this was not how or where we would want to live if we were to move here. The hill we have to walk up to get to our apartment is a killer. Having a car here would expand the areas in the city we could live and we also figured out we’d prefer a house to an apartment, and we could afford that here.

Two big entrees and two drinks for $20 has been the norm here, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. The quality of the food has always been outstanding.

  • The restaurant scene in San Miguel de Allende has been the highlight of our stay, and being able to eat out twice a week without breaking our budget has been a lot of fun and a big positive. There’s an amazing variety of restaurants in the city, all of them extremely affordable for what you get, and we have yet to not enjoy a delicious meal and great service at any one of them.
  • The number of expats we’ve encountered in the city has taken some getting used to. We’ve gone to restaurants where the entire clientele is expat, or walked down streets in Centro and seen and heard nothing but English. We pretty much hear nothing but English in the condo complex where we’re staying as well. After living and traveling overseas, the number of non-locals in the area has frankly been a bit hard to take at times and disconcerting as well, but full-time expats have offered lots of good advice and information, so there has been that side of it as well.
This is the road down from our apartment complex down to the main road. Walking on these has been such a discouraging way to begin any outing, or end one as well.
  • The cobblestones have driven me nuts and have kept both of us from walking as much as we had hoped. The stone roads can be beautiful and charming to look at, but an absolute terror to walk on or across and very uncomfortable. The cobblestones are in many places just rounded stones set into the roadbed with space between them – often it’s like walking on small rocks to cross a river bed. Some streets are worse than others but all have been difficult for me as I’m constantly afraid the next step I take is the one that’s going to send me tumbling. Thankfully there are sidewalks to use much of the time, but there’s no escaping the stones.
  • The cost of living has been the biggest draw for us and what would bring us back to live here. We knew things would cost less, but after living with Hawaii’s high prices for a few years the prices in San Miguel de Allende (one of the more expensive places in Mexico!) have been nothing less than a dream. The availability of goods, both food and otherwise, has also been a wonderful surprise. Anything we need or want can be found here and at low prices. Shops filled with affordable handmade Mexican goods have also been a delight and it’s been hard not to buy everything.
  • We never really gave SMA’s cultural offerings or expat activities a chance. We knew there were many things we could have attended or gotten involved with, but we just were not motivated to mingle with other expats, at least not on this visit.

All in all, we’ve enjoyed our time in San Miguel de Allende, and are glad we came. We were able to save quite a bit of money during our stay which will make a difference going forward and we’ve enjoyed the apartment we rented except for its lack of water pressure – taking a shower or washing dishes has been difficult and time consuming at times. The Mexican people we have interacted with have all been friendly, helpful, and kind, and I’m thankful for their efforts to understand my horrible Spanish and correct me when necessary. Our takeaway is that while we haven’t fallen in love with San Miguel de Allende we have fallen in love with Mexico and could see ourselves potentially living somewhere else here. Life in Mexico might require a bit more effort, whether that’s walking over cobblestones or up hills, remembering to wash and disinfect fruits and vegetables before eating, making sure there’s bottled water available for drinking and teeth brushing, etc. but overall the quality of life is very good. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back, even if just to visit again.

San Miguel de Allende: City of Fountains (Part 2)

Here are five more fountains that were discovered on our walks (one in the process of being cleaned and maintained). Although most were surprise discoveries, I had fun looking for them throughout the city whenever we went out, and leave knowing there are far more to still be discovered.

I’m particularly fond of the one in this batch with the water pouring from the jug into the waiting hand.

Sticker Shock?

This past week we ran into one of our SMA neighbors at City Market, and shared a taxi with her to come home. She had just gotten back from a trip to Texas and told us to be prepared for some real sticker shock when we returned to the U.S. A Clif Bar, she said, was $3.00!

I guess in comparison to what things cost here in Mexico prices in Texas probably did seem quite high to our neighbor. However, after our years in Hawaii we’ve been suffering from reverse sticker shock as prices here have seemed almost artificially low. We have no idea what things are going to cost in Nashville in comparison but we feel confident they’ll still be less than they were on Kaua’i.

We’ve been working on our monthly budget for Tennessee, but currently there are still too many unknowns to nail things down. For example, we know how much rent we’ll be paying, but have no idea what utilities will cost, and we haven’t paid a utility bill for nearly four years (and Kaua’i utility costs were high). We don’t know how much Internet service will be but we’re guessing it will be close to what it was on Kaua’i, maybe a little less if we’re lucky. We were paying over $5 per gallon for gas when we left Kaua’i in May, but prices in the area we’ll be living in Tennessee are currently under $4 per gallon so I think we may initially feel some slight reverse sticker shock there. Car insurance for our new car will most likely be more than what we were paying for our older Honda Civic.

We’ll have an abundance of food shopping options near to us in Tennessee including Trader Joe’s, Costco, Aldi, and many other stores, and I know we’re going to find prices to be lower than what we were paying on Kaua’i along with an increased selection of things available. However, at the same time those prices will most likely seem high after Mexico, so I’m guessing we’ll fall somewhere into the neutral zone with sticker shock, but we’ll again be bringing all our frugal shopping skills to bear to get the most for our money. We’ve determined an initial budget amount for food each month, but as always the goal will be to spend less, if possible, and put the difference into savings. Dining out will once again become the rare exception it was in the past rather than the norm it’s become here in San Miguel de Allende.

It’s been a few years since I purchased a Clif Bar, but I wanted to tell our neighbor that $3 would have seemed like bargain after Kaua’i, where it would have probably cost somewhere between $4-$5. We’ve prepared ourselves for higher prices than we’ve been paying in Mexico, but hopefully we’ll get to enjoy some of the benefits of reverse sticker shock as we compare Tennessee prices to those we were paying in Hawaii. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

Sunday Morning 7/24/2022: Final Week In Mexico

Every time we turn down a new street in San Miguel de Allende there’s always something interesting to discover.

This coming week will be our last full one in San Miguel de Allende – a week from Tuesday we’ll be on our way to Boston. The past couple of weeks have mostly been quiet ones and we’ve spent a good deal of our time relaxing in the apartment rather than going out (except to eat and food shop). We’re ready to move on, but that being said we’ll genuinely miss being in Mexico. We’ve felt especially lucky this past week that we came here instead of Strasbourg as originally planned, and didn’t have to deal with the broiling heat there while paying twice as much as we have here for the experience. We will always love Strasbourg but this was not the summer to be there (nor maybe any summer in the future), or to be heading to Oxford in the UK.

The shelf of souvenirs

The suitcases will be coming out again and the packing will commence toward the end of the week. Because we didn’t bring any of our winter things with us both of our bags had room to spare when we arrived. We’ve bought quite a bit while we’ve here though, mainly gifts for everyone else, so our bags will be leaving San Miguel de Allende stuffed to the max once again. I’ll be carrying the most fragile items onto the plane with me but I think in the end we’ll be able to get everything to fit. Several things will be unloaded when we’re in Massachusetts but the rest will head to Tennessee (with YaYu’s gifts being mailed to Pennsylvania once we get settled). We’re happy with what we’ve bought here and really spent very little for all we got. We’ve decided to leave the bean pot behind; it’s too big to pack or carry and its cost ($5) isn’t worth the hassle of bringing it back. We sure had a good time looking for it though.

On their way to the U.S. last Wednesday! Our son was surprised by how few people wear masks in the U.S.

Our son and family are all in Tennessee! They arrived last Thursday, and our daughter-in-law moved into her apartment yesterday. She’s bought a car which will arrive next week, and they’re picking up some furniture locally and ordered other pieces for delivery. They’re doing a big sweep (or two) through Target this weekend for necessities (cookware, dishes, etc.) to get her settled as well. We’re so excited about seeing them – just a couple of weeks to go!

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished this past week: 1) We got brave this past Wednesday afternoon and stopped at a hair salon down the road from our apartment for haircuts. Brett’s hair was getting shaggy, and my curls were absolutely driving me nuts and taking too much effort each day to maintain. The salon was recommended by our neighbor, and both Brett and I came out with great haircuts. 2) I put ten books on hold at the library so I am set for the rest of the summer and fall. Two other books came off hold this week so I’ve got plenty of reading to do! 3) We did our last food shopping at City Market – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at U.S. supermarkets in the same way again.
This view from our front door has been one of the best things about our stay in San Miguel de Allende.
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: We’re planning a relaxing week overall, even with getting started on the packing. We’ll mostly stay in the apartment to read, relax, and enjoy the view out the front door for a last few days but will also be going out to eat at a few of our favorite nearby restaurants.
Two happy customers!
  • How we saved: 1) The total price for our two haircuts was $15.72 USD (including the tip). It’s hard to determine how much we saved by getting our hair cut here versus waiting until we got back to the U.S. but it was A LOT. 2) We ate what we had on hand and didn’t buy any groceries until yesterday; nothing was thrown out. We have enough now to get us through until the end of our stay.

Lunch and brunch were at Raices and El Pegaso this past week. We have never had a meal in San Miguel de Allende that wasn’t completely delicious.

Good things that happened: 1) We had two terrific thunderstorms roll through last Sunday and Monday afternoons – both lasted for for a couple of hours and dumped a LOT of rain. I love a good thunderstorm, and the thunder and lightening from these were quite the experience. It also rained again Tuesday night, Wednesday afternoon, and Saturday afternoon (we walked to City Market with umbrellas). The storms cooled things off, cleaned out the air, and settled the dust. 2) We took neighbor Jenny to lunch at our favorite restaurant in SMA, Raices, on Wednesday. She had a horrible cold for two weeks (not Covid) and we wanted to get her out of her apartment for a little bit. The three of us ate for less than $25, including the tip, and the food was as amazing as always (cheese enchiladas for Brett, enchiladas stuffed with roast suckling pig in chipotle sauce for me (enchipotladas), and a mole taco for Jenny). 3) We finally stopped at the taco stand down the street on Thursday to try some tacos. Two plates with two beefsteak tacos, a Fanta orange soda to share, and a generous tip came to just $4.54. We’re mad at ourselves that we didn’t go sooner! 4) We had brunch again at El Pegaso in Centro on Friday. Both of us enjoyed chilis en nogada, the dish the restaurant is famous for. It was our most expensive brunch since we’ve been here: $34 USD including the tip, but very worth it.

We plan to get tacos at Mario’s again this week, maybe more than once! Both of those salsas were very spicy (but good), the green more so than the red!

I’m thankful for the creative and thought-provoking responses I received to Friday’s post about ideas for our post-Nashville life. They have given us quite a bit to think about! Brett and I really need about to two years to pull a big change/plan together, so we hope to decide on something not long after we get settled in Nashville and then get working to make it happen. It’s funny: A week or so ago I would have said relocating to Mexico was at the top of the list, but now we’re equally excited about potentially traveling with an RV or locating to Ventura County in California, or maybe even “base-hopping” around the U.S., none of which were on our radars before.

I hope everyone enjoyed a great week in spite of the heat the enveloped most of the U.S. and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up. Can’t believe it’s our last week here, but we’re going to make the most of it, whether that’s relaxing in the apartment, getting our suitcases loaded, or enjoying a meal out in town.