Monthly Archives: November 2014

Budget Travel Advice: 10 Stupidest Things Travellers Do Overseas | Travel Deals, Travel Tips, Travel Advice, Vacation Ideas | Budget Travel,18910/?page=2

Thus article singles out the so called ‘Ugly American’abroad but yes, I’ve also witnessed the Canadian counterpart, alas. This annotated list is excellent and should be required trading before you get a plane ticket and start packing, imho.

Always remember that you are a GUEST in a foreign country and are a representative of yours. Don’t look like an obvious ‘tacky tourist’  and embarrass the more travel savy comrades from your country, por favor. The golden rule applies on either side of the border!

Enough said…


Walking Tours of San Miguel de Allende | USA Today

This is such a walkable city! Today I’m off to volunteer at a Childrens Art Foundation table in Plaza Civica which used to be the main plaza.

Guess it’s really true that the center never holds. Point to ponder today as it applies to other things in life.

On Location at Pollo Feliz


I haven’t posted anything for a few days but with a family fiesta complete with fireworks going full blast outside my casita tonight I thought I’d compose a few thoughts on my life and times in Colonia San Rafael, the neighborhood in which I live.

Have not seen too many gringos walking around here although I understand it is a mixed neighborhood and a family from Winnipeg, Manitoba owns the house next door. However, apparently they are only here for brief periods of time at Christmas and spring breaks and the like. Otherwise I believe that they rent out their house when they are not there.

The people in the private street leading out to Ignacio Allende Road are friendly and I now pay the local not gringo price for my bottle of Coca Cola or Fresco which is 8 pesos not 10. I like to put my money into the colonia so I buy my tortillas, eggs, flowers and two rotisserie chickens on the discount day which is Wednesday coming home from my daily walkabout.

It is very easy to get in the groove of daily life here and I’m getting to be a known person in the area. Often a passerby will greet me with’Buenas dias!’ before I open my mouth which makes me feel like I belong.

It was a lazy daisy Sunday today but I did manage to get to the three o’clock knitting circle at Starbucks. One of the expats here has organized quite a lovely knitting group that makes hats and scarves for kids in the camPO/countryside. I met lots of fascinating women including Gigi from Montreal who taught me a different way of casting on. I generally only knit and crochet in the fall and winter so I needed a refresher.

Anyway, to begin with I got started on a basic all knit electric blue scarf that I’ll work on this week and take to the group next Sunday. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even learn how to make a hat this winter!

Anyway, because I live in a much more accessible area than I did last winter I generally walk home if it’s not dark. At this time of the year it’s dark here by 6:30 p.m. The taxis are cheap so I do not balk at hailing a cab at night for 40 pesos plus propina/tip. No hay problema!

So about six o’clock I was walking home from Centro just observing my surroundings searching for my turnoff corner which is Pollo Feliz, a fast food chicken place with three locations. It was even easier than usual to spot at a distance because some poor schmuck  had been enlisted to dress up as presumably the happy chicken. Seems to me that given the nature of the restaurant the said chickens would NOT be all that happy since they are getting served up with rice, beans and tortillas but the guy in the hello suit was dancing around anyway.

I’ve seen this type of publicity stunt NOB/ north of the border, too so I didn’t think much of it until I also spotted this older woman making a small fire in this hibachi like metal receptacle in front of the restaurant in the street. . Now, I’m not exactly sure if she was going to be cooking or roasting something to sell since I  didn’t’t hang around but if she was she certainly scoped out a high traffic area to set up her ad hoc business!

Just another day in ‘hood. Earlier thus week an expat referred rather disparagingly  to San Miquel as Gringolandia. Well I don’t where he lives in the city but here in San Rafael I’m definitely the guest and visible minority and it sure ain’t Gringolandia!

Skills for online teaching | Skype English Teaching Jobs have fun teach Online now

I have a few goals for Winter Number 4 in Mexico and on the top of the list is to develop an online English teaching presence. Last summer I taught absolutely every level of English from Beginner Beginner all the way through Advanced wrapping up with three sessions of Business English focusing on Interview questions.

Today in my research for the ways and means to ‘ hang up my shingle’ so to speak I found out that interview English is in high demand. Which only makes sense really. There are so many non native speakers at top universities out of their own country earning their degrees or advanced degrees in English. So while they may have tip top marks eclipsing the locals they still need to jump the hurdle of applying for and getting that all important first position.

So this is where I come in. Being the rolling stone that I was during my career actually gives me the edge in this because not only have I worked for five different school districts and one private school in Oxnard, California I have also been a bartender and clerical temporary worker in a number of settings. Now being retired I’m no longer on the front lines but I feel that I still do have something to offer in the way of my varied background and experience. I no longer ever wish to teach children but my 30 years in the classroom developed many transferable skills of immediate value and use in either f2f or online English teaching settings.

Okay, I believe I can leave the University of Starbucks for today and wend my way home the long way until the sun goes down and a taxi is indicated due to a few heavy book acquisitions earlier this afternoon at the Biblioteca.

Second Day of Dia de Muertos

This the really muy grande day where the locals pull out all the stops to clean up, decorate, adorn with in some cases very lavish floral offerings and convene with family members at the cemetery.

Two years ago, I had been fortunate enough to visit first hand Dia de Muertos. Sadly most of the pictures I took then were lost forever with the stolen IPad unless they were emailed or posted on Facebook. I went to both the Ajijic cemetery and Cinco de Mayo Calle in neighboring Chapala where about four continuous blocks are set up with family shrines on both sides of the street.

Here in SMA the Plaza Principal hosted the major public shrines and then people went to one of three cemeteries. After a quick Internet search I hopped a five peso local bus from Centro to the panteon/ cemetery just behind Hotel Real de Minas. Easy to locate. Just follow the crowds. I had read somewhere that a thoughtful gesture was to bring some flowers to the foreigner section of the cemetery which presumably was not lavishly decorated and adorned .  So on my way to Centro I bought some long stem marigolds

I am glad I did this because having them in my hand deflected the countless flower sellers operating in an ad hoc marketplace ringing the cemetery. Besides flower sellers there were lots of food outlets, one of which was a pizza place doing a brisk business. I sat down briefly for a 15 peso slice just to look around and get my bearings.

There were a few but not a whole lot of gringos in the continually moving river of people going by. I had a rest then proceeded to the graveyard proper.  I must say that they were prepared for the hordes because the main sidewalk had been roped off dividing those entering and leaving Because I was there a bit later in the afternoon I was able to walk and observe quite freely in the different zones in the cemetery. I was on the lookout but actually did not find the foreigner zone.

What I did find was yes the requisite mariachi band but also quite a lively country and western band sporting electric blue cowboy attire.


Everywhere, there were families and extended families  standing around the graves of their loved ones, talking, laughing, crying; exhibiting a whole range of emotions.  Certainly my emotions were activated by the touching scenes and I didn’t even know anyone there living or dead!  Walking around the various zones, though, I did notice that here and there there were some unadorned graves. I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘ but where were THEIR families?’  Had they moved away? Had they moved on?

Well, after walking around the zones with the ‘rack ’em and stack ’em’  quadruple level crypts I spotted one that only had a large rusty can in front. Joseohina, age 18, Recuardo a su familia y esposo. Remembered by your family and husband.

Sadly, she apparently had not been remembered by either.

Here’s to you, Josephina. You had a very short life but I pray that there were some truly joyful years.  I can’t remember you but I am thinking of you and you deserve some flowers just like everyone else.


10 Critical Steps to Protect Your Data in the Cloud

If you’ve read an earlier blog posting you’ll remember how devastated I was when my new IPad was literally wrenched out of my two hands in a wifi bar by a passing hoodlum on a quiet Thursday evening in Ajijic. What you might not remember is that as a newbie user I had not registered for the I Cloud and along with my IPad went five months of pictures and videos because I had failed to save them in the cloud.

Don’t let this happen to you. When using electronics of any kind do not become so engrossed that you are not aware of your surroundings.

I wasn’t.

Take the time to back up your data either in ICloud if you are an Apple user or Google Drive for PC and Android users. I have also heard that smartphones have also been the target of various snatch and run scenarios right on the street even in broad daylight.

Be aware of where you are, never leave shopping bags or backpacks in a place where a nanosecond of inattention could alert a pickpocket that you could be an easy target. Crowded markets can be problematic if you have to unzip or reach into your wallet with every purchase. What I do now is decide in advance how much I’m going to spend and put this amount in small denomination bills in an outside pocket for easy access.

Do not dress to draw attention to yourself with watches and expensive jewelry. As gringos we can never ever completely blend in but there are ways to keep a low profile so that you will be safe; feel safe.


I didn’t. Hard lesson learned.

Dia de Muertos in San Miquel de Allende



I arrived in SMA on the evening of October 31rst, Halloween night after being in transit for a full 24 hours via car from my house to the ferry to a Vancouver city bus to the Skytrain station to Vancouver International, then routing through Los Angeles and Leon Airports to Viaje San Miquel airport shuttle to my comfortable townhouse (they call it a casita here) in Colonia San Rafael just outside of Centro.

Being very weary by this time and also two hours ahead of PST I knew that it would take about a week for my body and soul to rediscover each other south of the border and also adjust being in a high altitude city. I had actually forgot this variable since for half the year I live at ocean level in the Harbour City of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

However, since the two Days of the Dead are November 1rst and 2nd I did not have the luxury of sleeping until I knew where I was and what day it was. So the first thing I did on my first full day in Mexico was to hike into Centro to view the Day of the Dead shrines in El Jardin, what they call the plaza here.

Some of the shrines were very elaborate and honoured a famous person like a well known opera singer and some were simple but representative of the individual and his or her place in San Miquel’s life and times. One particularly poignant shrine was in honour of the well loved newspaper seller in the plaza. Another erected by the local board of education spotlighted a number of teachers. There were pictures, salt for purification and glasses or a jug of water to slake the thirst of the returning souls. Of course once they got here there was also their favourite dishes and stronger libations to enjoy.