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.

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.

Sunday Morning 7/17/2022: Back At It

Thank you for indulging me with a couple of weeks off from writing. I’ve enjoyed the break, used my time wisely, and am looking forward to picking things up again. Going forward I’ll be moving the blog in a slightly different direction, with travel still playing a role but with more about retirement and figuring out the future, all along with the ups and downs of settling into a new location and what that entails.

Out and about in Centro last Friday

We only have two weeks left in San Miguel de Allende! Our attitudes about the city have been changing and we’re feeling somewhat sad about leaving while at the same time eager to see our family and get on with our lives. The hot, hot weather and altitude adjustment when we arrived as well as our apartment’s location had a strong influence on our feelings about this place, but we finally figured out we didn’t have to let those get in in the way, and are very happy we came to San Miguel de Allende.

Hyndai Tucson SEL FWD

We bought a car! The timing around our move is such that we need to pick up a car as soon as we arrive in Nashville, but we were having an absolutely awful time trying to find an available type of car we wanted (compact SUV). Dealers throughout Tennessee (and surrounding states) had few, if any, of what we wanted in stock, and what they did have were models we weren’t interested in, or ones that were out of our price range. Everything we wanted seemed to be “in transit,” with no one having any idea when new stock would arrive. Used car prices were nearly equal to those of new cars and those options were severely limited as well. The Hyundai Tucson has been one of our top choices, and week before last I checked with a dealer located near to where we’ll be living it and they were receiving a delivery of new cars this coming week! We were able to reserve the model and color we wanted, at the price we wanted as well and, unlike many of the other dealers we’d corresponded or talked with, the whole process with the Hyundai dealership was superb from start to finish. All Hyundai cars come with three years of free mechanical service (oil changes, tire rotations, etc.) and a lifetime warranty, and the Tucson is currently rated in the top in its class for compact SUVs so we’re feeling very good about this purchase.

We also got all of our furniture ordered from IKEA and it will all be delivered the two days after we take possession of our apartment. We were going to have to travel to Memphis to pick up the sofa and dining table we wanted because they were not available for delivery, but we changed those to items that could be delivered. The trip to Memphis would have been a three-hour drive each way from Nashville, a long day for us, but the cost for delivery was less than the two extra days of van rental we would have had to pay for as well as the cost of gas to get back and forth from Memphis. The delivery people will also carry everything up to our apartment, another savings in a way as IKEA packs can be very heavy and Brett was dreading having only me to help. There are still things we need to get (like a rug for the living room and lamps) but those will have to wait until the rest of our move shakes out and we see what our budget can handle and when.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • The things we accomplished: Besides the car and furniture purchases 1) I also placed a BIG order with Amazon and everything arrived at WenYu’s place in less than a week – so quick compared to how it was getting things delivered in Hawaii! The order had things like a shower curtain, cookware, a coffee maker, etc. that will help us settle in more quickly. We also bought a small soft-side cooler to bring with us on our drive down to Tennessee from Massachusetts as we plan to carry sandwiches every day for both lunch and dinner in order to save. The cooler will also be useful when we start exploring the area with our daughter-in-law and granddaughter. 3) I booked our van transportation over to the airport in Queretaro for our departure on August 2. I felt a bit sad as I made the reservation which surprised me, but it was another realization that we’ve grown somewhat fond of SMA.
  • What we’re looking forward to: 1) We don’t have a lot on our calendar these next two weeks. We’ll be going out to lunch on Wednesday, brunch on Friday, and food shopping at City Market, all things we look forward to but otherwise our days are ours to fill. 2) We’re determined to stop for tacos one day this week at the stand down the road from us. There’s almost always a crowd there so we’re thinking they’ll be pretty good.
We bought four of these glasses at less than half of what they would have cost back in the U.S.

The ways we saved: 1) Our weekly spending for food still has not topped $75 USD, and even going out to eat twice a week or picking up goodies at the bakery hasn’t broken our monthly food budget. We’ll be slowing down food purchases this next couple of weeks though to focus on using up what we have. Left over cooking oil, vinegar, and other staples will be donated to our neighbors. 2) We bought four blue-rimmed handblown glasses for 280 pesos ($13.63); the same glasses from World Market are $28. 3) We received a $500 rebate on our car purchase because of Brett’s military service. 4) By changing the sofa and dining table in our IKEA order we saved $400, and by having those items delivered we potentially saved at least another $250 (van rental extra days and gas to and from Memphis). 5) I decided not to buy the pair of silver earrings in the window of the silversmith’s down the street – I don’t need them and it’s money saved for the future. Same for another Mexican blouse I’d had my eye on.

Brunch at Cafe de la Parroquilla in Centro on 7/8 . . .

Good things that happened: 1) For our Wednesday lunch date week before last we went back to Luna de Queso (I wanted the Reuben sandwich again!), and for Friday brunch that week we visited Cafe de la Parroquilla, located in Centro. It was a great find and the food, service, and setting wonderful. This past week we tried a nearby Japanese-style restaurant, Mikka, for our Wednesday lunch date. The food was more Japanese-Mexican fusion rather than authentic Japanese but it was still very, very good. For Friday brunch we tried another new-to-us place in Centro, the Bagel Cafe. I had steak fajitas and Brett had huevos rancheros and while the food was simply prepared it was delicious and filling. We were also the only non-Mexicans in the cafe, a nice change from several of the other restaurants we’ve visited recently. 2) The weather has been much nicer these past two weeks, cool in the mornings (sometimes outright cold) but warm or even hot in the afternoon although usually never broiling like it was during our first month here (last Monday afternoon though it was back up to near 90 degrees). Thunder arrives almost every afternoon these days but not much rain accompanies it. Every little bit that falls though is welcome!

. . . and 7/15 at the Bagel Cafe (they had bagels for sale but we were too full to buy any)

I have been up and down the past couple of weeks with both good and bad days, thankfully more good than bad. This past Friday, for example, Brett and I walked all over Centro and I felt great, but the day before I could barely get myself off the sofa, let alone get dressed, with no energy and vertigo coming and going all day. I have no idea why other than I slept very poorly on Wednesday night. Thursday night though I slept soundly again (even after taking an hour-long nap in the evening) and woke up feeling like a million bucks. I can’t begin to express how much I am looking forward to sleeping on a really good mattress again once we get to Tennessee (the one here is only so-so) in an air-conditioned environment.

That’s a wrap for these past two weeks! They provided a good but productive rest, we got a lot accomplished, and we’re now very ready for our move to Nashville in just a couple more weeks (our daughter-in-law arrives this week). I hope everyone enjoyed a great couple of weeks as well and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up. Here’s to good things happening for all!

Sunday Morning 7/3/2022: 4th of July

I am really not feeling the Fourth of July this year, and not just because we’re outside of the U.S. I feel like the person on Twitter who said that this year it feels like we’re celebrating someone’s birthday while they’re in hospice. The last two weeks of Supreme Court decisions have felt almost personal as they ran roughshod over previously settled decisions, ones several of these justices swore under oath they had no intention of overriding, with the majority’s logic flipping from decision to decision (we have to do this because of history but no, history can’t be a factor with this one), etc. The more I continue to learn as well about what happened on January 6, 2021, has also been deeply unsettling. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the coming months and years, but I feel great despair about the direction our country is going and how we are already losing freedoms many fought and died for, and that we have been blessed with for so many years.

On a brighter note, we rented an apartment in Nashville and will move in the second week of August! Our daughter-in-law sent us a link early in the week indicating the available apartments at hers and our primary location choice, and we noticed that one of the one-bedroom units was not only in our price range but available for occupancy the day after we arrived in Nashville! So, we applied online, were accepted a few days later, and will now only have to stay in a hotel one night before moving in. Our idea is to unload our boxes from Massachusetts into the apartment on move-in day in the morning, then head to Costco and buy a mattress and a few other supplies so we can sleep there that night. The next day we’ll start unpacking the boxes and do some grocery and supply shopping, and then the day after that we’ll drive to Memphis and pick up our IKEA furniture and start getting that set up (Brett weirdly enjoys assembling IKEA stuff). Fingers crossed everything goes as planned, but our arrival week is going to be crazy (our DIL will also be moving into her apartment the same week). We only hope buying a car will go smoothly once we get there. We got our financing approved this past week, but so far we’ve either been quoted prices w-a-y over the MSRP or the car(s) we’re interested in are “in transit” or sold before we can complete anything and we’ve been told there could be anywhere from a 90- to 120-day wait for the next batch of cars to arrive. Sigh. We may end up buying a car when we’re in Massachusetts and bringing it down with us to Tennessee as Nashville dealers have all been a complete bust but we hope we don’t have to do that.

Some of our IKEA furniture choices.

I can’t honestly say I’ve been miserable since we arrived in SMA in May, but whether it’s been the altitude, the heat, the dry air, a lack of sleep (it can be very noisy around here during the night), occasional vertigo, or the current constant noise throughout the day (neighbors have been having their rooftop patio renovated the past three weeks and it’s been constant sawing and tile cutting going on the entire day, every day, starting at 8:00 a.m.), I just never have had my usual energy and feeling of well-being. I think I may also be/have been suffering from allergies caused by one or more of the plants in our compound. I felt bad enough one day last week (run down, sore throat, cough, and sinuses) that I took a Covid test but it came back negative so who knows what’s going on?

An unexpected afternoon rain on Friday was refreshing and cleared pollen and dust out of the air.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) Getting our apartment lined up in Nashville was the big accomplishment this past week. The one we’ve rented is the same square footage as the crazy-landlord house we lived in on Kaua’i, but costs so much less each month, actually a full $1000 less a month than what he’s currently charging for rent, and the apartment comes with a washer and dryer and a dishwasher (can you guess what I’m excited about?). 2) Getting our car financing set up this past week was easy, and it’s great that whenever we finally find a car we’ll be ready to go.
  • Looking forward to next week: I am looking forward to feeling better and hopefully getting a handle on what’s been bothering me – that’s my focus now. We didn’t do the San Miguel de Allende historical tour this past week so maybe that will happen this week.
Surrealism in the sink: Peaches, plums, mango, and raspberries getting washed in an antibacterial solution. Anything that will not be peeled or that will be eaten raw gets the treatment.
  • The ways we saved: 1) We spent very little on food this week, around $75 for fruit at the frutería – mangoes, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, figs, and raspberries – and a few items from City Market following our brunch on Friday. It will all get us through the next couple of weeks except for maybe one or two more stop at the frutería. 3) We will be paying more initially but but decided we will save overall by buying a car versus leasing. We currently don’t know what we’ll be doing when we leave Nashville, and felt it would overall be better financially to own a newer car at that point rather than having to start over after finishing up a lease. The car payment will be higher than the lease payment would have been, but we plan to pay off the loan in two years. It’s sort of weird to think this is probably the last car we’ll ever buy. 4) Our son and daughter-in-law booked and paid for our hotel room in Nashville as a small treat for us – we appreciate the savings!
  • Good things that happened: 1) The kennel sent a video of our puppy this past week and Kai looks healthy, happy, and fluffy, and we love how his little tail never stops wagging. We are very excited about meeting him in August! He will be almost six months old at that point, and the kennel is going to take care of having him neutered before we pick him up. One of our first tasks once he’s back in Nashville will be to get him groomed as he’s going to be very shaggy at that point! 2) Brett and I enjoyed a tasty lunch date at Raices on Wednesday afternoon. I had the Amor Amarillo (“love yellow”): chicken, beans, and cheese inside a fresh, handmade tortilla with yellow mole sauce. A pepper leaf was grilled to the outside of the tortilla to add extra flavor – yum! I should have ordered two of them, it was so good. Brett had the enchiladas verdes I had the first time we ate there and we both repeated our previous tea and lemonade drinks. We’re already planning our next visit. 3) We also had a delicious brunch on Friday at Turk Mediterranean Street Food, another nearby restaurant. I had a beef and lamb wrap and Brett had a falafel wrap, and he got a second wrap for free because unknown to us it was “Falafel Friday” (we brought it home and shared it for dinner). We had a lovely, long chat with the owner (originally from the U.S.) while we were there and he helped us think in a different and more positive way about possibly living in San Miguel de Allende in the future. The BIG (and fun) surprise though was during our conversation the owner and I figured out we grew up about three blocks from each other! Seriously! Talk about a small world. 4) The emergency J6 hearing on Tuesday was very compelling. 5) Our daughter-in-law was sworn in this past week as an official Consul for the nation of Japan. She will receive her diplomatic passport later this month to begin her position in Nashville. We’re so proud of her!

We enjoyed some good eating last week at Raices and TURK. The culinary scene in SMA is one thing I can’t complain about – so much creative, delicious food at affordable prices. The beautiful mosaic was part of the floor at TURK.

I am going to take a few weeks away from the blog again, although I will continue to post on the Occasional Nomads Instagram page and keep up my reading list. It feels a bit like we are now marking time in San Miguel de Allende with our focus more on getting to Nashville and getting settled there for the next two years. I also feel like the direction of the blog needs to change and adapt a bit and want to think about that for a while as well, with the focus of the blog less about travel, travel, travel, and more about creating an alternative (retirement) lifestyle and making it work. Although we plan to continue traveling while we’re in Nashville (visiting Mammoth Caves & Great Smoky Mountains National Parks – with some misgivings as visitors are now allowed to bring loaded guns into National Parks – and a couple of Civil War battlefields; touring Washington, D.C. with our granddaughter and DIL; visiting Asheville, N.C.; and doing a big family reunion at Walt Disney World in 2023) Brett and I will mostly be enjoying our time with family in Nashville and setting up where we’ll be going and what we’ll be doing next. I’d like the blog to focus more about that and keep track of our steps as it will be one of the most significant changes we’ll make in our lives.

Although I might not be feeling the holiday spirit this year, I hope others are and I wish all a happy Fourth of July, and a fun but thoughtful time with family and friends. I’ll be back in a few weeks.

Sunday Morning 6/26/2022: Not the Best Week

Although it’s been cooler here this week it’s also been very dry, and our lady at the fountain hasn’t been pouring any water from her jug into the one below. Almost 75% of the year’s rainfall here typically falls in June but there’s been just one day and one evening of rain all month so far.

This has personally been a nothing burger of a week for us. We decided to mostly stay home this week to help my back heal, and I am happy to say it is much, much better; in fact, I’ve gone to bed most evenings forgetting it’s even been bothering me. I got reminded of it almost every morning though and it usually took a couple of hours to work out the kinks, but yesterday I awoke without any pain at all – yeah! Reducing our activity and all seemed to have made things better, and hopefully my back issues will soon be nothing but a distant memory.

Some of the things we’ve bought the past few weeks: Small (18″) mirrors with tinwork frames; Dia de Los Muertos themed t-shirts; authentic Talavera pottery mugs; and colorful shopping bags. Everything but the mugs are gifts for someone in our family, and nothing cost over $15.

We went out last Wednesday afternoon to do some shopping and try to find some specific things we want to take back with us to the U.S. as gifts. We shopped with a list and found what we were looking for but also found two other items at prices we couldn’t resist. We bought three t-shirts, two for the Meiling’s and YaYu’s partners and one for our grandson, two small mirrors framed with tin work (the unplanned items, but they were just $12.50 each) and a small hand-carved and painted wooden heart with wings. Some of the things we’ve bought since we’ve been here will be put away for Christmas, but many are gifts for family members or fun things for the grandkids. We’ve bought a few things for ourselves too since we’ve been here: my embroidered dress, blouse, and straw hat; two authentic Talavera pottery coffee mugs; a small piece of original art; the bean pot; and Brett gave me a silver ring. Shopping here has sort of been like dining out – so many things are beautifully made and very affordable and it takes a lot of effort not to buy them. The only thing I still have my eyes on is a pair of silver earrings in the window of the silversmith down the street. We have no idea how much they cost though, and if they turn out to be more than we want to pay they won’t be purchased. We’re otherwise winding down the shopping now because Brett’s afraid buying anything more will mean we may have to purchase an additional suitcase! For now though, everything we’ve gotten will go into the bags we came with (I will carry the bean pot onto the plane).

This morning I am thinking about:

  • Things we accomplished this past week: 1) Other than finishing up our gift shopping, going to brunch on Friday, and doing our food shopping afterwards I don’t think we accomplished much of anything. 2) We both finished books and downloaded new ones from the library. I’ve read 27 books so far this year and I’m happy with that!
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) We’re looking forward to having our neighbor Jenny over for dinner this evening. We’re serving lamb burgers! 2) We’re going to have lunch at Raices mid-week and we’re both excited about that. I want to try their yellow mole. 3) We may try to take a two and a half hour walking tour of San Miguel de Allende one morning, depending on the weather. We’re hoping after being here for a month we’ll get more out of it and have a better understanding of much of what we’ve only been admiring up until now. 3) Other than brunch on Friday, everything else will be spontaneous (rain is predicted for several days, so somewhat difficult to plan ahead of time).
We did our food shopping for the next two weeks at City Market. All of this, including imported wine and cheeses, came to $124 USD. The most expensive item was the canister of Costco peanuts (for Brett). Every time I see the total after we shop I’m convinced we’d be fools not to move here.
We gave into temptation this week and purchased a stack of buñuelos, fritters sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. If we’re careful (LOL) they’ll last all next week. We’ve been enjoying the pastries, cookies, and such here because they are always far less sweet than what we’d find in the U.S.
  • The ways we saved: 1) We didn’t do anything special this week to save other than make an effort to eat all the leftovers in our refrigerator to make sure nothing had to be thrown out before we shopped. 2) We did all our shopping with purpose (and a list) and did not go crazy. We once again stayed under budget with both our food and souvenir shopping. We have put a higher than usual amount into savings since we arrived here
  • Good things that happened: 1) The weather has been delightfully cool this past week, perfect for walking and sleeping at night. It has been a pleasure to go out versus the chore it was when it was hot. It’s still very, very dry though. 2) The frutería down the street had peaches, figs, and mangoes available this past week at ridiculously low prices, and we enjoyed figs with our cheese and crackers this past week and I had peaches on my cereal – yum! The mangoes here are so, so sweet. I didn’t really care all that much for the mango variety available in Hawaii (and they were ridiculously expensive as well), but can’t get enough of the ones available here. 3) The pain in my back is gone! The vertigo remains but is not as bad as it was.
All the figs in this photo cost less than 30 cents. Each one was perfectly ripe, sweet, and a wonderful treat!

After the Supreme Court decisions handed down this past week, all I can say is that the United States that Brett and I knew, served, and trusted is over. Miranda rights are gone. Women’s autonomy has been crushed, and unfettered gun ownership appears to be the greatest right of all. Privacy rights are on the line, with hints (threats?) that contraception, marriage rights, and others will be reexamined in the future. Only Loving v. Virginia seems to be off the table for some reason, interesting because it was decided on the same legal reasoning as Roe v. Wade. Some may be happy about last week’s decisions, but as a country I’m afraid we’re never going to back to some of the freedoms and protections we have enjoyed and to what we thought was normal. Tomorrow’s expected decision is the scary one for me though, the Court’s ruling involving the EPA. Their decision will decide whether the EPA, an executive agency, can issue and enforce an environmental rule that they haven’t yet made or issued; the Court will be ruling on a hypothetical rule that the EPA might issue in the future. This is no longer “calling balls and strikes” or adjudicating a previous case ruling, but ruling on something that hasn’t happened yet and is therefore being done for purely political reasons. That we’ve come to this should scare all Americans because the ramification are enormous.

Sorry to end on such a low note, but that’s the sort of week it’s been. I’m not sure next week is going to be any better, but we still have the power and right to organize and vote (even though that’s sadly being threatened in places as well). In the meantime, I still hope good things happed for everyone in their lives and that more will be coming your way in this next week.

Sunday Morning 6/19/2022: Happy Father’s Day!

Some of this past week’s color from our walks through the city. The purple house is my new favorite!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! This holiday always sort of throws me because I always forget it’s the third Sunday of June versus the second one, like Mother’s Day. Anyway, I knew it was coming up this month so Googled to make sure I got it right. Brett and I are heading out shortly for brunch at Mario’s Mariscos (shrimp), a nearby seafood restaurant we’ve heard nothing but good things about since we’ve been here. It’s a little spendier than some other restaurants we’ve been to, but worth it to spoil Brett a bit on his day.

A week ago I was beginning to wonder if there was something seriously going wrong with my health. I was sluggish and sleepy, and occasionally would have a round of vertigo. Breathing had become difficult at times too. I tested negative for COVID, but Brett and I began to wonder if I should perhaps see a doctor. Then Monday afternoon a big noisy thunderstorm rolled through bringing with it loads of lightening, thunder, rain, and hail. The storm cleaned out the air and also brought along cooler temperatures that have happily hung around . . . and I have felt fine ever since! I’m sleeping more soundly at night, apparently catching up this past week on all the sleep I wasn’t getting while it was so hot. The air is clean and I’m breathing easier again as well (I grew up in Los Angeles County in the 50s and 60s when the smog was at its worst and my lungs were permanently affected; air pollution anywhere can make breathing difficult for me now). Unfortunately, the vertigo is still with me, although not as bad as it was. We’ve been following the weather in Nashville and noted that temperatures this past week have been near 100 degrees with very high humidity – not looking forward to that!

Of course, once one health problem gets solved it seems another pops up. Somehow this past week I strained my back. I have no idea what I did but it has hurt like the dickens and laid me up for a couple of days. It’s one of those parts of your body you don’t think about until it gets hurt and then discover it’s needed to do everything: walking, standing, sitting, turning over in bed, getting out of bed, coughing, etc. I have been giving my back as much rest as possible and it is getting better although it’s still annoying (and painful at times). I learned something new to add to my Need It But Don’t Have It Because We’re Traveling file though: how to make a homemade heating pad out of a dishtowel (fold and microwave for 40 seconds; repeat as necessary). Getting old is not for sissies.

  • What we accomplished this past week: 1) We’ve purposefully enjoyed what’s mostly been a very relaxing week including a couple of full days relaxing in the apartment (because my back hurt so much). 2) I booked our August return flight tickets to Boston, departing from the nearby city of Querétaro versus traveling all the way back to Mexico City. WenYu and her partner will pick us up at the Boston airport so we don’t have to rent a car there. 3) I also reserved our hotel stays (two nights) for our road trip from Boston to Nashville, but still have to choose a hotel in Nashville for our arrival there. 4) We watched the January 6 hearings via streaming each day they were available. 5) I finished a book I didn’t enjoy very much , one that almost became an effort to read (unusual because it was a mystery). I finished it just in time for two books I’ve been waiting for to come off of hold from the library!
He passed us as we walked through Centro on our way to brunch on Friday!
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) We again have no big plans for the coming week other than going out for brunch on Friday and making our weekly trips to the supermarket and the frutería down the street. We may go out to lunch one day, and we’d like to go looking for more fountains, but no decision has been made yet about which part of the city to visit. 2) The J6 hearings so far have been gripping television and well as shocking at times but we’re looking forward to learning more this coming week.
  • The ways we saved: 1) I don’t think we did anything special or out of the ordinary this past week to save but still stayed within our weekly budget. Our daily spending average has already dropped by over 30% compared to May and keeps going down. 2) Besides choosing hotels for our Boston to Nashville trip that came in under our budget, both hotels offer free breakfasts, and one hotel has an evening cocktail & snack buffet which can substitute for dinner. We used the senior discount at both hotels and received an additional discount by signing up for the hotel chains’ rewards programs.
The balcony looks more inviting with the plants our neighbor brought us.
  • Good things that happened: 1) Our lovely neighbor Jenny brought us a couple of plants for our balcony this past week. It looks much fresher and greener now and has become a favorite place for Brett to sit and read. 2) The weather has cooled off, and has stayed cloudy, breezier, and cooler, making a real difference in how both of us feel. 3) I found and bought a beautiful hand-embroidered shirt at a small stall in the Mercado Artesanias, where the woman running the stall did the embroidery (by hand). I can’t remember feeling so good or happy about a clothing purchase. 4) Meiling let us know she will be coming up to WenYu’s place while we’re there for another mini-reunion – we’re so excited to get to see her again!
Mural Of the Week (found outside a vet’s office)

Although they’re charming and add to the character of San Miguel de Allende, I’m finding the cobblestone streets to be frankly problematic at times, and I think they may be one of the things that have contributed to my back problems. In some places where we walked this past week the road has been nothing but uneven rocks stuck in the ground and we’ve had to walk very, very carefully not to trip and fall – there’s no way to maintain a natural gait – and I feel I may have twisted and turned in ways that gradually strained my back. Unfortunately, one of the worst of these streets is right outside our apartment complex so anytime we go out we have to deal with rock walking. Thankfully there are sidewalks through much of the city, but we often have to cross or walk in the street and over these exceptionally rocky streets from time to time. I keep telling myself they’re worth it though, especially when they take me to places and views like these:

Iglesia de San Francisco

We’ve now been in San Miguel de Allende for a month – the time has flown by. We still have seven weeks left in our stay though, and we known there’s still much to see and discover here. Each week though has been a gift, and we continue to look forward to the beauty, knowledge, and surprises that will continue to come our way during the rest of our stay.

Sunday Morning 6/12/2022: A Busy, Busy Week

Streets like this one make me want to stay and live in San Miguel de Allende

It mostly was another hot, hot week, but we had something going on every single day – I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a full day of rest today so we can catch our breath. Here’s how our week unfolded:

  • Monday: We did our food shopping this day, walking down to La Comer with a stop at the La Sabina organic store for a loaf of their wonderful banana bread (one of our favorite desserts). I’m not quite sure how we missed it earlier, but this past week we discovered a well-stocked Asian foods section at La Comer. We bought several items we enjoy and have missed, with only sesame oil being out of stock. I also filled my statin prescription at La Comer’s pharmacy. I was prepared for low prices compared to the U.S. (I was more shocked by the U.S. price) but what surprised me the most was the pharmacist just picking up a box of the pills off the shelf and handing it to me versus having to turn in a prescription and then wait or come back later to pick it up – Lipitor and other statins are over-the-counter drugs here. I also received a 20% discount on the prescription because we had spent enough on groceries at the store.

We saw and did a lot on Tuesday!

  • Tuesday: We took a morning trip to Centro to visit the toy museum, La Esquina, with our next door neighbor, Jenny. The museum was an absolute delight, with four floors containing an amazing and eye-popping collection of Mexican folk toys. The imagination, design, construction, detail, artistry, color – everything – about the toys was fascinating and jaw-dropping in many cases. Besides the museum visit, the three of us also stopped on the way to shop at a small, wonderful little store filled with traditional Mexican folk crafts. I bought a longed-for embroidered dress and we also picked up some gifts for the grandkids. We also made a stop for hot chocolate and churros before going to the museum. After the museum visit Brett went to take a closer look at another building he was interested in, and Jenny and I headed in the opposite direction to visit a small but mighty downtown supermarket (it sold everything) tucked into a very small space. She and I also ogled quinceañera gowns, and visited a couple of fabric stores before heading for home.
Brett’s lavender tea at Luna de Queso was a gorgeous shade of blue.
  • Wednesday: We met with the Senior Nomads for lunch at Luna de Queso (“Cheese Moon”). The food was delicious, and Brett and I were glad we ate before shopping because we would have probably bought twice as much from the extremely well-stocked deli & market attached to the restaurant. The conversation during lunch was stimulating and fun, and one of the best things we’ll remember from our time in San Miguel is that we were able to connect with Michael & Debbie.
  • Thursday: One of our neighbors in the complex, Blake, is an artist, and we had planned to go to the opening day of a show of her paintings in the early afternoon, along with Jenny. However, Jenny showed up at our door in the morning to let us know she had been exposed to COVID and was exhibiting several symptoms and felt she shouldn’t go to the opening (she later tested negative though as did both of us). I decided to stay home as well as my lack of sleep for several days had caught up with me and I felt too exhausted (and woozy) to be good company for anyone, let along go anywhere or do anything. Brett felt he should still help Blake for a few hours and he also wanted to check out the Guadalupe neighborhood where the show was being held so he headed over to the gallery with her. I slept deeply for over three hours while he was gone and woke up to a cool breeze and rain coming in through the bedroom window – yes!

Said to be the “hippest” in SMA, the Guadalupe neighborhood is filled with street art – Brett snapped these examples while he was there on Thursday.

  • Friday: We headed out for Centro a little before noon for our weekly brunch date, and enjoyed a delicious meal at Lavanda. It was worth the wait! After brunch we did some window shopping in Centro; stopped and viewed the Parroquia for a moment or two; purchased a gift for one of our daughters and another for our grandson at the Mexican folk craft store; and finally stopped in at the Bonanza Market for some laundry detergent, fabric softener, and coffee before taking a taxi home. It was hot again by the time we got to our apartment so we stayed inside the rest of the day.
Looking up at the pink sandstone facade of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel on Friday.
  • Saturday: We slept in yesterday morning, and our only outing for the day was a walk down the hill to the fruteria for produce.

A small reason I’ve been tiring so quickly whenever we go out is because a KN-95 mask seems to restrict the amount of oxygen I get (and need), especially when walking around. I switched back to a cloth mask and have been having a much easier time of it and not wearing out so quickly. The heat and the dryness are still somewhat problematic though so last Thursday’s rain and cooler temperatures were much appreciated. We keep hearing the temperature is going to drop now that May is over, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Palomas firecrackers look simple, but produce an incredible amount of noise.

I also didn’t get much sleep most of the week, beginning with loud firecrackers (palomas) being set off at the beginning of the week. After they stopped though I still found myself unable to fall asleep for who knows what reason. Last weekend a child living in one of the houses just outside of our complex was killed, and the fireworks were apparently being set off to honor him. Palomas are incredibly loud, and were being set off all day and all night (like from midnight to 2:00 a.m.) making it impossible to sleep. I have no idea why the sleeplessness continued though but I slept well last night so hopefully this unpleasantness is finished.

This morning I’m thinking about:

  • What we accomplished this past week: Everything on our list – it was a busy, fun week!
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) Cooler weather and some rain (hopefully). 2) More discovery. 3) Other than Friday brunch, a more spontaneous schedule.
  • The ways we saved: 1) We cancelled our British Airways flight to England this past week and will be receiving a full refund! They had cancelled and changed our original flight so a refund was one of our options and we took it! 2) I’ll be able to file with our insurance for a reimbursement of the difference between what I paid for my prescription here versus what I would have paid in the U.S. with insurance. I’m grateful that the cost was so affordable here, and that it was so easy get the prescription refilled. 3) We received an email this week from our dentist on Kaua’i that they owe me a refund. This is the third dentist in a row who has had to issue us a refund! 4) My student loan consolidation was completed this past week and my old servicer paid in full – I am so happy to be done with them! I once again have a U.S. Department of Education owned loan, so I now fall under the CARES act and do not have a payment due until early October nor am I accruing any interest until then. I have created a plan to pay off the loan within the next five years. 5) In spite of our shopping and eating out this week we still did not go over our budget (which I find amazing). 6) I think I paid less than half again for my embroidered dress this past week as I did for an embroidered Mexican blouse 40 years ago.
My Mexican dress will have pockets thanks to our neighbor!
  • Good things that happened: 1) Lunch with the Senior Nomads was lots of fun and we learned of yet another fabulous restaurant not far from our apartment as well as a great little market. I found sesame oil there! 2) I was thrilled to find an embroidered Mexican dress at such a great price. I had a similar, much beloved blouse when Brett and I were first dating, but it was stolen out of a dryer at a laundromat and I’ve wanted another for over 40 years. 3) On our walk over to downtown on Tuesday we were able to see a tree near Benito Juarez park filled with Great Egrets – apparently the area is a rookery for these birds. We saw several walking around – they are huge! 4) Jenny made a sour orange tart using some of the Seville oranges from the courtyard and brought us a couple of pieces on Monday evening – so good! She is also adding pockets to my dress this coming week.
An (absolutely delicious) Reuben sandwich at Luna de Queso kept me full the rest of the day.

Our eating schedule has, as the expression goes, gone to hell in a hand basket since we’ve been here. Brett and I typically eat a light breakfast, but if we have a brunch or lunch out we usually don’t feel like eating the entire rest of the day. Even hot chocolate and churros at around noon last Tuesday kept us feeling full the entire rest of the day. Menu planning and food tracking has flown right out the window as well as I don’t know from day to day how we’ll feel or even if we’ll feel like eating. Some evenings, even though I’ve planned a meal, all we end up wanting is a little bit of cheese, a few crackers, and some fruit. We still choose healthy foods, eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables, limit our sweets, walk every day, and don’t appear to be gaining weight, but I’m seriously hoping that within the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to get back to a somewhat more normal eating routine.

We’re looking forward to a less hectic week coming up, and a chance to literally and figuratively catch our breath. Last week was a very good one but it was tiring and we’re glad to be through it. Here’s to another great week coming up, another of accomplishments, savings, and good things happening!

Sunday Morning 6/5/2022: A Very Colorful Week

There is an abundance of beautiful, happy color in San Miguel de Allende.

One of the upsides of staying in a location for more than a few days is that we don’t feel compelled to be out and doing something every single day. This past week was mostly another hot one, and with the heat and altitude still having their way with me I spent a good portion of the week indoors with a book. We did get out though: Brett did a small bit of grocery shopping on Tuesday and we went out to brunch on Friday morning followed by some more food shopping. Last Monday we wanted to go out for lunch, but the restaurant we chose was closed and we ended up stopping instead at a lovely little six-table cafe and enjoying a nice lunch there. We discovered a couple of interesting little food shops on that outing that we plan to revisit.

On Wednesday evening there was a nice breeze and the temperature had cooled down enough that we walked into Centro. We used a “back road” and were treated to several colorful murals along the way as well as beautiful houses, flags, and a churchyard with the setting sun bouncing off of them. The Parroquia was absolutely glowing in the setting sun when we arrived, so we sat in the nearby park to look at it for a while, enjoying ice cream cones and listening to mariachi playing. When the sun was no longer visible we headed for home, and met the Senior Nomads on the way back! It was a lovely evening and we’re looking forward to doing it again.

Scenes from our Wednesday evening walk to Centro. I loved how the last of day’s sun hit different buildings along our walk and made them or parts of them glow. The big vine covered house in the upper right corner is my new dream house.

I’m still adjusting to the dry air and altitude, although it’s getting better. In Hawaii I never needed body lotion, for example, because of the humidity. Here I slather myself in it every day and my skin still feels dry (the humidity level here has been around 25%; the lowest it ever got in Hawaii was something like 65%). One of my eyes has been affected by the dryness and I occasionally have had to add drops. I’m going through lip balm like crazy and drink water like a fish. On the plus side, everything dries quickly, and produce and bakery goods don’t get moldy in a couple of days like they did in Hawaii. And, my hair doesn’t frizz! I know there are people who love this climate, who thrive in it, but may not be one of those people, and a lower altitude and a bit of humidity might suit me better. I may change my mind by the time we leave, but this is where I am three weeks in. Otherwise, I grow more enchanted with San Miguel de Allende every day and am very glad we decided to come and spend some time here.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished this past week: 1) I made some pretty darn good refried beans with the beans I cooked on Sunday, and don’t know if I can ever use any from a can again. 2) For the first time in around three years, I read an actual book (left in the apartment by a previous guest) versus reading from my Kindle. The small print was difficult for my eyes at the beginning but eventually they adjusted. The book, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower, was a great mix of personal stories from the White House staff as well as some White House history. 3) I downloaded another book from the library when I finished, although that ended up requiring a late night call to Amazon customer service. Amazon had locked my account because of the VPN we use when traveling, and I had to go through some pretty rigorous questioning before they agreed to unlock the account.
Luna de Quest may prove to be a dangerous location for us: they sell more than 100 varieties of cheese from around the world. Their cafe menu is fabulous.
  • What we’re looking forward to this coming week: 1) We’re getting together with the Senior Nomads on Wednesday! We’ll be meeting at our apartment and then walking over to a wonderful nearby restaurant (Luna de Queso/Moon of Cheese) for lunch. 2) I have two books that should come off of hold from the library by the end of this week, but thankfully have a new book to read in the meantime. 2) We’re of course looking forward to exploring more in SMA – we plan to visit a toy museum this coming week – and hopefully we’ll finally get to eat brunch at Lavanda this coming Friday (they were closed for vacation this past Friday).
We’re looking forward to visiting the colorful toy museum next week.
  • The ways we saved: 1) Spending this past week was kept to a minimum: we bought only a few groceries, ate one lunch out, and enjoyed our regular Friday brunch. I love that we can afford to eat out here without breaking the bank. 2) May turned out to be a very expensive month for us – between all the moving and traveling, road food, hotels, rental cars, YaYu’s graduation, a family reunion and everything else, at one point our daily spending average was up to $73 – yikes! We’re looking forward to seeing how low we can get it in June.
  • Good things that happened: 1) YaYu successfully started her new job and moved into her new apartment – on the same day – this past week and all is going well. I feel such relief and satisfaction that all our children have been launched and are doing well. 2) We almost literally bumped into the Senior Nomads on Wednesday evening – we were walking home, they were coming around a corner! So happy to see them again and be getting together again. 3) Seeing so many murals in different styles on our Wednesday walk was a very unexpected good thing!

Murals and paintings spotted along our Wednesday evening walk.

Could we possibly live here? is a question that has started popping up recently. The cost of living is very inviting, the climate not so much, although so far we’ve only experienced what everyone says is the worst month of the year. We have commitments coming up that make the question purely academic at this point, but it is fun to think about from time to time and San Miguel de Allende could definitely be a contender for a future location to settle. I think if an apartment was available in this complex, with its great location and lovely neighbors, we’d be far more likely to vote yes and maybe even jump at the chance.

It’s wonderful nonetheless to know we still have nearly two full months to spend here. In spite of my slow adaptation, we are getting out more, and the hot weather does feel like it’s going to break soon. We are having a wonderful time, and we haven’t even begun to take advantage of all that’s on tap here. We’re looking forward to next week, all that we already know about but also the potential for new and unexpected good things as well. I hope everyone had an enjoyable week, with loads of good things happening, and that you’re looking for to this coming week as much as we are.

“Choose peace, joy, hope, and positivity” – Gurdeep Pandhur

Sunday Morning 5/29/2022: Another Hot Week

Meeting the Senior Nomads was the highlight of the week!

We were out an about a bit more this past week, although we still tended to feel tired and worn out by early afternoon, both from the altitude and the heat. We would have normally considered Tuesday’s 30-minute walk over to Centro for hot chocolate and churros easy by any measure but by the time we arrived on Tuesday we were both very tired, overheated, and I was struggling to catch my breath. We followed our chocolate treat with a long visit to the big Tuesday market and completely wore ourselves out. We felt better on Wednesday when we met with the Senior Nomads, although once again the heat turned out to be our nemesis later in the day and we returned home exhausted once again. Thursday we did our weekly supermarket run but took a taxi back to our apartment and spent the rest of the day cooling off. On Friday we changed our brunch destination because we didn’t want to face another walk the heat, and yesterday we decided to skip a visit to the organic market in favor of staying home and staying cool. We still ended up having a fun and interesting week that included meeting the Senior Nomads, touring the Fabrica Aurora to enjoy the art, antiques, and other beautiful goods for sale there, and visiting the giant Tuesday municipal market.

A tiny fraction of what can be found at the Tuesday Market (plus the produce we bought).

I have been on a quest since we arrived to find a simple clay pot for cooking beans, an olla de barro or olla frijolera. They’re widely used in Mexican households, so you’d think they would be an easy thing to find, but locating one in SMA took some effort. Brett and I were sure someone would be selling them at the big Tuesday municipal market, the San Miguel Allende Tianguis, but even there they were not to be found. Although we came up empty-handed with the olla, our visit to the market was still quite an experience. First of all, the market was HUGE, set up in four giant halls under tarps, with quite literally everything for sale: clothing, tools, garden supplies, candy, spices, produce . . . everything and anything you could think of. I think the only things we didn’t see were live animals or bean pots. We visited all four halls and looked at everything, asked several people about where to find an olla and were pointed toward possible vendors, but a bean pot was not to be found. We did fill two shopping bags with produce while we were there that included two melons, a kilo (2.2 pounds) of fresh strawberries, a bag of onions, another of potatoes, four avocados, a giant head of garlic, and three mangos, all for less than $10 USD.

After a delightful visit with the Senior Nomads on Wednesday morning, Brett and I walked through the Fabrica Aurora for a while, enjoying all the art on display and for sale and the many other gorgeous items available, including fabrics, jewelry, ceramics, antiques, and more. We fell in love with and purchased a very small (4″ x 6″), affordable piece of original art that will easily fit into our suitcase and didn’t break the bank. We then headed back to the Mercado Artesanias as we’d been told that’s where we’d most likely find an olla, and at the very end of the market, in one of the very last stalls, there they were! The vendor had several beautiful painted ones that were unfortunately way too big for our needs, but we found a smaller, simple clay olla and for just $5 USD brought it home. I bought some Flor de Mayo beans on Friday and tonight I am going to cook up a first batch in my pot!

My olla frijolera is very simple. Most pots have a handle on each side but because this one is smaller it has just one. The pot can be used directly on a stovetop, either gas or electric.

This past week the Fiesta en honor a la Santa Cruz del Valle del Maíz passed right outside the gates of our complex. The group visits various neighborhoods around the city before their main fiesta and last week was our turn. The festival has not been held for the past two years because of COVID.

El Valle del Maiz is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. The majority of its inhabitants are of Chichimeca or Otomi origin, and during its festival, which takes place the last weekend of May, people venerate the Santa Cruz, in a mixture of Catholic and pre-Hispanic traditions.The celebration venerates a Catholic symbol, such as the cross, but also performs indigenous dances and rituals like the blessing to the four winds, part of the Chichimeca culture before the Spanish domination. The main objective of the festival is to give thanks for the blessings received during the past year and ask for a good rainy season and an abundant harvest.

The costumes were colorful, fascinating, and some were a bit scary. Almost everyone in the parade was dancing though and the participants threw candy to the audience. The whole event was incredibly noisy, and we were glad when the parade passed to another location.

Although she looks sort of benign in this photo, Brett said this woman “had the moves like she was going to make someone dead.” One neighbor said she was the scariest thing she’d ever seen.

The video was taken by a neighbor. The music was actually VERY loud, and there were also VERY, VERY loud mortars being repeatedly fired. Although the parade and costumes were interesting to watch, the whole complex was VERY happy when the parade had moved on and quiet returned.

This morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished this past week: We did a lot of walking this past week even though it was hard at times – we still haven’t completely adjusted to the climate here although Brett is coming along faster than I am. I’m thrilled with my olla frijolera – it’s just the right size for the two of us. Fingers crossed I don’t burn the beans tonight!
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: We don’t have anything set on our calendar other than brunch on Friday. We’ll probably head into Centro or another neighborhood once or twice for something – we want to check out the organic market on Saturday, for example – but otherwise plan to stay home to rest, save money, and keep cool.

We’ll definitely be returning to this cafe again: two cups of creamy, spiced hot chocolate with freshly made churros (three each) for just $6.25 USD.

  • The ways we saved: We purchased a couple of things this week beyond groceries (the piece of original art and the bean pot), enjoyed a delicious brunch on Friday, drank Mexican hot chocolate and churros on Tuesday, and made a couple of stops for coffee, but still stayed within our spending limit. We ate leftovers most of the week and no food was thrown out or wasted.
  • Good things that happened: Meeting the Senior Nomads was the highlight of the week, and we wish we could have had a longer visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet again before they leave SMA in June. We found some new places to eat, I found a bean pot, and we tried out a great new supermarket (La Comer), which can best be described as a high-end cross between Target and Costco with prices like Aldi.

We may be in Mexico, but Brett and I have spent most of the week feeling sad, depressed, and incredibly angry following the horrific mass shooting event in Uvalde, Texas last Tuesday. What’s made the incident worse beyond the horror of the children’s and their teachers’ deaths is the constantly changing story of what happened that day, especially why it took anyone in law enforcement so long to confront the shooter. The United States has become the alcoholic who refuses to admit he or she has a drinking problem. I have to wonder what has happened to this country when an 18-year-old, who can’t buy alcohol (including beer) or a handgun or even a single bullet for a pistol, can’t rent a car or legally take on many other responsibilities, can still walk into a gun shop and purchase two high-powered, semiautomatic military-style rifles and a huge amount of ammunition in order to go shoot up an elementary school (58 magazines were discovered at the school, over 1,650 bullets). Why does anyone need to own a semiautomatic rifle such as an AR-15, guns whose design and sole purpose is to kill a lot of people in a very short period of time? I am not opposed to gun ownership for hunting, personal protection, or sport, but I draw the line at the easy purchase and open carry of these weapons of mass death. Last week’s tragedy has nothing to do with reinforced doors, or a good guy with a gun. Ten people were massacred at a grocery store in Buffalo the week before this, and the good guy with a gun, a former police officer, was killed by yet another 18-year-old shooter wearing body armor. Are we supposed put in place door control and bulletproof plate glass on every public building in USA? The Las Vegas shooter fired from a hotel window; do those need to be controlled as well? Last week’s tragedy may have been the result of a mental health issue, but every other country in the world has citizens suffering from mental health issues, and mass shootings happen extremely rarely if ever, and when they have occurred, laws are put into place to restrict further tragedies. What these countries have that the U.S. lacks are sensible, well-regulated, sane gun ownership standards and laws. The reason for repeated mass shootings in the U.S. is the enhanced availability of guns and a culture that venerates the ownership of them. Think of all the many things that require effort and registration in our country, from getting a driver’s license to buying Sudafed or having certain prescriptions filled to being allowed to vote, and compare those to how easy it is to buy a gun, especially a semiautomatic rifle, even if you’re only 18 years old and perhaps have some mental health issues. I pray that the beautiful children and their teachers who were slaughtered last Tuesday, and the 10 that were killed in Buffalo, will not be forgotten, that we as a country can finally admit we have a serious problem and the direction we’ve been traveling has to change. There has been sweeping legislation passed that has cut drunk driving deaths in half. There are penalties for underage drinking, overserving, and driving under the influence. Sellers are closely monitored & taxed. We can do the same with guns and stop this madness.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, when we honor those service men and women who gave their lives serving our country. Brett and I are planning to watch Saving Private Ryan on Netflix tomorrow evening, but there are other great movies to watch that honor the day and the sacrifices of those who died: Glory, Courage Under Fire (a personal favorite), Platoon, Gettysburg, The Hurt Locker, and many others. I hope everyone will at least take a moment to remember the service members who died in defense of our country and honor them in their own way.

This past week was fun but busy, and also somewhat exhausting, so we are planning to slow down this coming week and keep outings to a minimum and enjoy our surroundings at the complex. Temperatures will be in the 90s again this coming week, and as has become obvious these past two weeks, I don’t do well in this kind of heat (especially when altitude is added to the mix). I’m grateful we’re staying in a place where we can retreat, relax, and stay cool and comfortable. I hope everyone had a good week as well, got a lot accomplished, and are looking forward to a great week coming up!