Thursday, May 31, 2012

Planting Spanish

7AM - Planting in Spanish!
Yesterday at the Soriana, we bought planting stuff: soil & pots-to begin growing the seeds that were purchased from the veterinary store a couple of days ago. Of course, all of the sowing/planting instructions are in Spanish. So we combine this fun job of planting with studying for today's Spanish lesson!

There is more to the studying then just the Spanish. The sowing instructions are in millimeters and centimeters. So, those dimensions are studied too in order to get an idea of how deep to sow and how far apart the plants should be.
Our gardening stuff

10AM - Camping on streets of Mexico
HoneyBee8888 posted in ShoutBox:
"George, I notice you setting down "roots" with your little cactus garden and the dog. Is it really true that in Mexico you can become a semi-permanent "resident" at the end of a dead end street and no one will bother you or expect you to move? For me (in NJ) this is almost unimaginable."

I would like to address the differences between the American and Mexican culture from my perspective. However! Whenever I've approached this subject before, some reader(s) get their backs up. Some readers take what I write as criticism of the United States. I receive email suggesting I am un-patriotic, that I should never come back to the USA, etc. Please know that I love the United States.

With that said, here is my take on Mexico: [Some of which I've written before]
When I first entered Mexico with MsTioga in 2003, we were in the City of Tijuana, very close to San Diego, California. I went to a super-market to shop and was pushing my shopping cart up an aisle. Ahead of me there were five woman blocking my path. They were chatting. As I approached them, I expected the group to step aside and allow me to pass. But these woman did not even appear to notice me. They just kept on chatting. So, I turned my cart around and walked back down the aisle. This was my first encounter with the cultural attitude in Mexico: "You do what you do and take responsibility for that. And I do what I do, and take responsibility for that".

You as an American reading what I just wrote, may interpret what happened as being discourteous. But this interpretation is not accurate. Because each culture has its own definition of courtesy. And, as an American, your interpretation of courtesy may be unique, and not shared by others.

In 2007 I decided to finally explore mainland Mexico. I recall first entering the City of Guaymas on the Pacific Coast. I found a nice Nite Camp above the city, and asked a neighbor across the street for permission to stay the nite. She told me, "This is Mexico! It is not necessary to ask permission".

Contrast and comparison:  Many, many times when I made Nite Camps on the streets of California [or other states in the USA], my neighbors called the police on me. People in the USA do not care to see an unknown RV staying the nite on their street. People in the USA believe that it is their right to enforce their beliefs, their wants and needs, their dislikes on everybody else. 

Here in Mexico, it is unthinkable to phone the police on your neighbor! For example, if  your neighbor is having a party and playing music very loud until 3am, nobody complains or phones the cops. Neighbors may not like the loud music. But that music is the responsibility of the homeowner who is playing the music. And in the Mexican culture, to assume responsibility for another's actions, is not even on the horizon of a Mexican person's thinking.

3PM - Cactus hiding from the Sun!
We wrote about some of our new cactus turning brown in spots. A very helpful email arrived from Reader Deb:

"Hi George, 
The brown spot on your cactus might be sunburn. The plant may have been indoors for a period of time prior to your purchase or kept in a location with in-direct sunlight. Placing the plant in full sunlight could be the cause of browning.....
If this is the cause, try moving the plants to a different location and introduce them to the sunlight for short periods of time, gradually increasing over a couple of weeks to avoid further browning. When you see new healthy growth without browning, you should be safe to put them back in your rock bed.
Hope this helps!

As you may see in the pic below, we have taken Deb's advice. Two of our new cactus our now shaded from full Sun by a nearby bush!
Cactus hiding from the Sun

10PM - We sure eat good on the TiogaRV Team!
Just finished supper. We never pre-plan our menu. Stuff just seems to come together. Have to admit though, we love to cook!
We eat supper late too!

Blue sky

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


7AM - Paying fumigation
This morning at the HSBC bank here in Tequisquiapan, I'll pay for the fumigation charge in order to get my shipment released. There is no way around doing this fumigation.

It seems that the big mistake that I made for this shipment, is the selection of USAMail1 as my freight forwarder. USAMail1 just does not appear to have the necessary experience for shipping stuff to Mexico.

This makes two times that I have selected the wrong freight forwarder. Wow! First I picked Bongo International of terrible customer service fame! Now I picked USAMail1 who has customer service, but not enough shipping experience to Mexico!

However, I am not giving up on finding the right freight forwarding company. For my next shipment, I am going to use Merkalink! Click [here] to take a peek a Merkalink's website.

Another freight forwarding company that is being considered is, Medrano Express [link].

8AM - Speaking of fumigation!
We have long been concerned about MsTioga's insect infestation. Where we are in Mexico, there are lots of aggressive insects. Including termites! We do not know if it is possible to have a termite infestation in a motor home. But we do not want to take any chances about that.

There is a very nice guy who owns a fumigation company located in central Tequisquiapan. We are going to talk to him this morning!

4PM - Back at Home Camp!
The first thing at Home Camp, we connected our watering hose, put out the camp chair and watered the ground in front of MsTioga. For some reason, we like wet looking ground much better than dry ground. Sure dries fast though!

There must be 20 or 30 hummingbirds eating at our sweet flower. We love to watch them!

While on our trip today, we traveled from Home Camp all the way south to San Juan del Rio. San Juan is not too far away. Only takes about 1/2 an hour to get there.

We stopped at Office Depot and printed out the bank deposit instructions for the guy doing the fumigation of our shipment. Then went to the Soriana store and bought some little pots and planting mixture for the flower seeds we bought the other day. Stopped at AutoZone and bought some more battery tie downs. Picked up some of my blood pressure medication [which, BTW, only costs $25US/month]. Then filled our 5-gallon drinking water bottles. Finally, we went to HSBC bank and deposited the fumigation fee of 1,392 pesos [$102US].

We have been busy-bees!
Jorge loves to water!

Clear sky

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Incoming shipment

7AM - Incoming shipment!
MsTioga and I have not left Home Camp since last Friday! However, we must leave this morning to go into Tequis in order to recharge our Telcel cell phone. We need the phone to call DHL customer service. We have selected DHL to be our customs broker for our incoming shipment.

We are very interested to find out what Mexico is going to charge us for import duty for this shipment. As you may recall, the cost to buy the stuff that is being sent to us via this shipment is $1,008US.

Our last shipment's duty equaled 20% of the purchase cost. This % is very acceptable to us! However, we do not have a lot of importing experience in Mexico. But we are hoping that 20% will be for this shipment too.

8AM - Myths about Mexico
My rant of yesterday was prompted by responses to "Dave Dods" robbery by his blog readers. I believe that a more appropriate response is demanded to robbers invading ones home than spraying them with bug juice. Some of Dave Dods readers suggested wasp or bear spray as a defense against robbers. And I felt very strongly, that if Dave Dods had a gun for protection, the robbery would have been halted immediately.

There appears to be some myths held by some of my blog readers regarding guns in Mexico. Here is Article 10 from the Federal Constitution of Mexico:

Article 10: The inhabitants of the United Mexican States have a right to arms in their homes, for security and legitimate defense, with the exception of arms prohibited by federal law and those reserved for the exclusive use of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard. Federal law will determine the cases, conditions, requirements, and places in which the carrying of arms will be authorized to the inhabitants.

11AM - Shipment hangup
The people at DHL informed that because the shipment is crated in a wood box, and because the box is above a certain size, the shipment is required to be fumigated. Hmmmm? Can you imagine that?

In addition, the fumigation cost of 1,392 pesos [$102US], must be paid in order to process the shipment thru customs. In otherwords, first they get the $102US, then they spray, then they come up with the cost of import duty.

I have referred this matter back to USAMail1, the freight forwarder. USAMail1 made the decision to re-pack the shipment in a wood crate of their own making and their own size. So, I guess that they will figure this "puzzle in Mexico" out.

2PM - Shipment update
The fumigation Mexico is asking to be paid for, is because of the wood crating that the freight-forwarder USAMail1 used. Mexico wants to make sure that there are no bugs inside that wood packing material.

USAMail1's contact at DHL is working with Mexican officials to see if there is a way to work around this bug business. I do not feel that I should be solely responsible for USAMail1's packing materials. I am paying USAMail1 for their expertise. That expertise is why I went to a freight forwarder in the first place.

5PM - Cactus garden growing
Today while in Tequis, we bought three little cactus plants. Cost 30 pesos for the three [$2.19US]. Now we have five cactus plants in our little rock garden hill.

I do have a question though? If you zoom into the cactus pic below, and look at the cactus in the upper left, you may see a brownish dry spot. What could this be? I have not watered the cactus much at all. Could this brownish spot be too little water?

Clear sky

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day2007

Memorial Day - 2007
On Memorial Day, 2007, we stopped at the Cemetery in Escalante, Utah.

Little Mavicito captured the pic below which delivers the message more than words.

8AM - What the hell happened?
I have to admit to you that I am really pissed off this morning! I was thinking about what happened to Dave Barnes who writes the blog, Dave "Dods" off to Mexico [link].

Dave is living in Weng and Francisco's Hill Top home in the Pueblo of Aticama. Dave was robbed about a week back. Three stinking, rotten crooks attacked Dave at Hill Top home and stole a bunch of his stuff.

The reason that I am pissed off, is because of the comments made on Dave's blog. Specifically, the comments made regarding how Dave should defend himself. Stuff like, "Spray bug juice in their face". Or, "Wasp spray".

What happened to us? When did we forget how to defend ourselves? My father knew how to defend himself. He carried a pistol. Our historical heroes knew how to defend themselves. George Washington knew!

But somehow, the notion that it is bad to defend ourselves has crept into today's society. And that notion has made us weak. Made us vulnerable. This world that we live in is a dangerous place. But there are those among us who would have us believe that to defend ourselves is wrong. To use guns to defend ourselves is bad.

I was robbed last year. I had no way to defend myself. I was lucky. The rotten crooks left without attacking me. I used to carry pistols. But the law down here in Mexico makes it dangerous for tourists to carry guns. Because of the mistaken notion that guns are dangerous. Citizens should not have guns.

But the crooks have guns. Because they do not obey these ignorant laws that prevent us from being able to defend ourselves against them.

Well, I am writing here, as clearly as I am able, that if you are a person who is against using guns to defend yourself against rotten, stinking criminals, then you are a person who is living far out of reality of today's very dangerous world! 

Freedom and liberty are very fragile. Some may believe that freedom and liberty are only things they read about in history books. But the freedom and liberty of every one of us is at stake every single day. The battle for our freedom and liberty is being fought right here. On your own streets.

You give up your Freedom and Liberty when you give up your right to protect yourself! Get with it!

Note to readers who disagree with the above:
I understand clearly that I may lose you with this writing. I am willing to suffer that loss. Because freedom and liberty have been under assault. Especially by our own government, since 911. I must be courageous to fight against what is fundamentally wrong.

I have begun a Forum Post about this subject. You may go there and discuss what I wrote and how you feel about it by clicking [here].

10AM - The fruit of my sprinkling!
Every day I have sprinkled the ground in front of MsTioga. My sprinkling is a hope, a prayer, that the waters that I put on this barren ground may find the seeds that we seek!

And look what has happened! Life! Flowers in the desert! They may be tiny, some only 1/2" round. But oh my! How beautiful they are!

3:30PM - A hummingbird just found our feeder!
I am hoping that now that one hummingbird knows about our "sweet flower", that more hummingbirds will come too!

This hummingbird has gorgeous colors. Green, red and yellow. I was standing at MsTioga's screen door when the bird arrived. It flew close to the door and gave me a stern hummingbird look! And then flew back to our sweet flower to eat some more. And then, the bird took off like a jet plane heading toward the fields below.

New Mavicita hopes to soon capture her first hummingbird pic!
Three different hummers come to our sweet flower

Blue sky

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Picking up rocks

7AM - Picking up rocks
When Jimena first visited Home Camp, she advised, "Every time you walk out here, pick up some rocks and put them in a pile". We did not know why, but we followed Jimena's advice. Of course we had no idea that one day we would find uses for these rocks!

In order to avoid using Mr. Levelers, we have constructed little rock piles for MsTioga to park on. Every day we place more rocks on those piles. Because when Tioga rolls over those rocks, she kind of crushes and scatters them.

In the pic below, New Mavicita has captured one of our rock piles. Peluchita, who has just finished breakfast, decided to get into the pic! BTW, do you see our hummingbird feeder way to the upper left of this pic? Yesterday we moved the feeder to this side of the road because we actually saw some hummingbirds flying near here!
Tioga's rock piles

10AM - Up on the roof
It's inspection time for Mr. Sunny's solar panels. When we went up there, we were reminded that we planned to install aluminum riser plates underneath the forward hinges. Riser plates became necessary, after the our wood to aluminum frame upgrade last year.

While I was up on the roof, Peluchita positioned herself on the block wall and was watching me. "Just how old are you?", called out Peluchita. "74 years old", I replied. "Why do you ask?" Peluchita said, "Because you are huffing and puffing up there!"

Peluchita was quiet for awhile, and then she asked, "How old is 74 in dog years?"

Cheeky hound!
Riser positioned in place

12 Noon - Oh! The beautiful bird!
It is at times like these, when I miss my children the most! To see in their eyes, what I see in my own eyes! Oh! The beautiful bird! How I long to share you with my kids!
Who are you, Birdy?

2PM - Weng phoned!
I love it when my phone rings! It goes "rrrrrinnng!" "rrrrrinnnnng" just like an old time telephone. When I answered the ring, it was my friend Weng on-the-line!

Weng and I have not seen each for awhile. I asked her if the family has plans for a trip to Aticama this coming winter. Weng says that they do have plans! From about Thanksgiving to the middle of January. Weng is working very hard at her gardening jobs to save money for the Aticama trip.

Tioga and I are going to use Weng's "Donate" button to send a donation to the family and follow up with an email marked:
"To be used only for the Aticama trip!"

Blue sky

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Face red

8AM - My face is so red!
Yesterday, I made a jerk of myself here on my blog. I accused Bank of America of bad service because their phone system appeared to be hanging up on me during my calls to BofA's customer service department.

It turns out that my own phone company, Rebtel, actually was doing the hanging up. Apparently, Rebtel maintains some control over my phone calls going thru the Rebtel system. When BofA's automatic phone system transferred my call to a live BofA customer service person, Rebtel intercepted the call, and on about the 10th ring, hung up!

I learned about what was actually happening during a phone call to USbank. During that call, USbank's phone system transferred my call to one of their live customer service people. And on the 10th ring, my phone call hung up. Well, it is very unlikely that my call to two different banks wound up being hung up on!

The culprit had to be Rebtel! I tested my thinking out by phoning Bank of America and USbank by phoning them directly. Not using the Rebtel phone system. And I got thru to a live customer service person in both instances.

So, I am here on my blog apologizing to you, BofA, and anybody else that I insulted by jumping to conclusions. I have also apologized to the BofA customer service persons to whom I sent rude email messages.

What a bummer this experience has been for me!!

11:30AM - Luxury of my time
It takes a certain amount of time to do everything that we do. It's not necessary to tell you this. You know how long it takes to drive from your home to the grocery. How long to mow your lawn. This understanding of time is the same for me.

For quite a while, I have taken a lot longer to do some things than is necessary. In doing this, I'm immersing myself in the luxury of my time.

Richard Saunders is a pseudonym that Benjamin Franklin used when publishing his, "Poor Richard's Almanac". This almanac is a an accumulation of advice from Benjamin Franklin. One piece of advice that I particularly care for is: "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time ! for that's the stuff Life is made of", as Poor Richards says.

I have been given a great gift with the founding of Home Camp. The gift of time! Time to do! Time to think! Time to get my life's perspective in order! I shall not squander the luxury of my time spent here!

6PM - Oprah and energy
This morning I stumbled upon Oprah Radio on the XM Satellite Receiver. I've never tuned in to Oprah before. Something that Oprah said caught my attention.

Oprah stated that she believed that people created their own energy. She said that we were responsible for the kind of energy that we put out. Whether our energy is positive or negative. Also, Oprah went on, we were responsible for who we allowed to be associated with us. Because if we allowed associations with persons who put out negative energy, this could impact our lives badly.

What Oprah said rang a big bell with me. I call it being balanced and centered. But it appears that positive and negative energy is the same thing as being balanced and centered. These are very obscure terms. So let me cut to the center of what positive/negative energy and balanced/centered means.

Remember "The Prime Directive" from the Star Trek TV series? My Prime Directive is: To know myself completely. For me, knowing myself completely = knowing why I do, everything that I do. Once I consciously know why I do, every thing that I do, I no longer am impacted by sub-conscious stuff going on inside my brain. From that point forward, I become my own person. Responsible for what I do, what I say, how I behave.

Coming back to Oprah: People who produce positive energy are completely aware of themselves. They impact those around them in a positive way. People benefit from being around positive energy people.

I agree with what I heard on Oprah Radio today!

Clear sky

Friday, May 25, 2012

Special places

9AM - What makes a place special?
I do not know the answer to this question. However, I do know when I arrive at a special place!

It was December 30, 2004, when Tioga and I first arrived in the Gulf of California Town of Santa Rosalia [link]. We knew right away that this was a special place. But why?

On November 5th, 2008 we first arrived in the Pueblo of Aticama [link]. Was it something about the beach that captivated us? Hmmmm?

And now we are in the suburb of Tequisquiapan called Colonia Santillan. At a place that we call Home Camp. We knew right away that this was a special place. You may recall that we were camping about three streets east of Home Camp, and walked down here simply to explore. That was on Thusday, April 19, 2012 [link]. We have been here ever since!
Is it the view?
Pic from Tioga's door

10AM - Shipment in Mexico City!
We just received a DHL email notifying that our shipment passed thru customs in Mexico City! Wow!

We had thought that our shipment was coming via truck! And it is flying!!.

4PM  - Bank of America has terrible service
A couple of weeks ago I made an ATM withdrawal at ScotiaBank, here in Tequisquiapan. I asked for 3,000 pesos. But only 2,600 pesos was delivered to me. This irregularity is a first for me. Never happened before.

You can imagine my surprise when my BofA checking account was charged for a 3,000 peso withdrawal. So, I tried to phone BofA to alert the bank. However, when I finally got thru the automated answering machine and got transferred to Customer Service, the phone rang about 10 times, and then hung up on me!

Over the past two weeks, I have tried to phone BofA Customer Service many, many times. Always, the same thing happens. The phone hangs up on me! So, I phoned BofA Corporate Headquarters to complain. And guess what Corporate told me? They said, "If there were such a problem as this with our phone system, we would already know of it!"

Well, that was all that I had to hear from BofA in order to make the decision that I was banking at the WRONG  bank. After a Google search turned up that USbank is the most loved bank according to national surveys, I phoned USbank and actually got a live-human being to talk to me!

I now have a USbank account setup, and am in the process of closing my BofA account [after more than 20 years with BofA].

Bank of America is really bad, in my opinion! BofA is NOT recommended by Tioga and George!

10PM - More about Bank of America's strange behavior!
While I was attempting to phone BofA's Customer Service Department without success, their online system asked me if I would like to talk to a chat person? I replied, "Yes!" Soon a chat person began typing at me.

I explained that I had made an ATM withdrawal of 3,000 pesos and received only 2,600 pesos. But BofA charged my account for a 3,000 peso withdrawal. That is a 400 peso difference. Not a lot of money. In fact, only $29.20US difference. The chat person asked me how much credit I wanted? I was surprised at this question, because what I expected BofA to do was to investigate my claim. But the chat person insisted that I provide an amount. So, I quickly made a calculation and came up with $22.82US. The chat person told me, "OK, I have credited your account with $22.82!!" And guess what? The next morning I saw a $22.82 credit to my account.

However, when I received that credit, I knew that my calculation was only an estimate. And when I calculated again [taking my time and using a calculator this time], I came up with being $5.86US short in my claim. So, I tried to phone BofA to tell them about this matter, and when the phone hung up on me again, I went to BofA's message center online and asked for another $5.86US credit.

Well, guess what happened? Without investigating anything about my claim, BofA posted another $5.86 credit to my checking account.

I tell you true! Something is really wrong at BofA. This is no way to run a bank To take a claim from a customer and process that claim without checking is really, really weird!

Partly cloudy

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tioga condition

9AM - MsTioga's condition
Since MsTioga and I met in 2003, she has never been in such excellent condition as she is in right now. For me, Tioga is a complicated challenge. It has taken all of this time (nine years!), for me to accumulate the knowledge to properly care for Tioga.

Staying in one place here at Home Camp, has given me time to consider things that may improve the quality of life of the TiogaRV Team. For example, the air-conditioner which now is on its way to us. As you may know, in prior years we discounted the value of air-conditioning. Back in those years, we did not stay in RV campgrounds. So, we did not have electric power available to run an air-conditioner.

In those past years, we traveled in order to remain in "T-shirt and short pants" weather. Sometimes we traveled very long distances to find that weather! Now-a-days, with gasoline prices what they are, traveling long distances like we used to do is not feasible.

We have a list of "to-do" things that will keep Tioga in this wonderful condition. In coming days and weeks, we will be doing these things and sharing with you all that is going on!
  • Move solar panels in order to make room for air-conditioner installation
  • Provide a new air-conditioner roof installation opening
  • Install (2) new roof vents
  • Repaint Tioga's fiberglass roof according to the specs received from Jose the Fiberglass Guy
  • Replace Tioga's tail light assemblies with new LED units
  • Replace the cabover and rear clearance lights with LED units. Provide new mounting for these new LED assemblies
  • Provide a new mounting system for solar panel hinges 
  • Install a new internal slide-out storage drawer underneath Jorge's bed
  • Other stuff too!
10AM - Buying stuff in the USA
It may very well be that I have understated the importance of being able to buy stuff in the USA and have it shipped to us here in Mexico. There are some things that simply cannot be bought here in Mexico, because they are not available. Take Bilstein shock absorbers, for example.

Yes! You may find resources here in Mexico that may be able to provide some Bilstein products. However, these resources do not have the knowledge necessary to know "which" Bilstein would be good for MsTioga. In the USA, with a minimal online Google search, I located "Don's Sport Vehicle Sales". Not only did Don's stock the exact Bilstein that MsTioga needed, but their customer service people had the training and literature to give me the specs for those Bilsteins.

Now multiply this Bilstein experience by hundreds of times, and you may get an idea of how important it is to be able to shop in the USA, while living here in Mexico.

I am pretty sure that USA residents simply take-for-granted going to the nearby Safeway Store to shop for their groceries. USA residents would be blown away if suddenly their local Safeway only offered what the largest grocery markets here in Mexico offer.

The product and the brand selection found in United States stores is absolutely phenomenal!

And..... I have not even gotten into the low cost of USA purchased products compared to the same product in Mexico!

11AM - Life in Mexico
A reader may ask: "If shopping in the United States is soooooo wonderful, why are you living in Mexico, Jorge?"

Jorge replies: "I must get into that with you someday!"

4PM - Profesora Gina
It's Thursday again. Which means another Spanish lesson with Profesora Gina! In the past, we have simply chatted together in Spanish, and when I needed help with some words, Gina would jot that word down. Conjugate the word. Write the word in past, present, future [if a verb].

Today I am changing the mode from chatting to reading a magazine named "Hola!" [that I bought in the grocery today]. This change should bring into the lesson words that I do not know.

I'll let you know how this lesson change works for me!

8PM - View from the camping chair
When we returned from our Spanish lesson [BTW-the new lesson change worked great!], the camping chair was setup in front of MsTioga. We watered our grass, plants and flowers. Then, New Mavicita captured a pano pic of our "View from the camping chair!"

If you look carefully at this pic, you may see a bit of the farm fields below us. This same view from inside MsTioga, shows the farm fields much better. Because Tioga is much higher than the camping chair.
Do you see the farm fields?

Clear/Misty sky