20 June, 2021

Tropical storm Dolores made a drive-by last night! Just after midnight I heard the skies open and the rain come tumbling down! I think I’ve said before that my end of the street slopes, so I don’t have the flooding problems that are prevalent in other parts of Mazatlán. Sometimes a couple of FEET of water will accumulate in streets; if it happens to be one of the streets the buses use, then workers are in for a bumpy night.

Today I decided that I would hit restaurant MiYeya and see how their weekend buffet fits in with my discriminating food tastes (lol). Turns out it fits very well. So I grabbed my backpack and called an uber. The only problem is that they were packed (Fathers day? Normal Sunday?) and I didn’t make reservations. They were extremely accommodating and made a spot for me at the place where the woman makes tortillas. A little live entertainment, a little lengua, some coffee to wake me up – for $179 (about $9.00 usd) pesos (before propinas) it was a nice morning.

Lengua and chilaquiles from the weekend buffet at Restaurant MiYeya
Weekend buffet at MiYeya

Afterwards I decided that I’d walk down Av. Insurgentes to Colonia Juárez and visit the Sunday tianguis. As I said, my street slopes so I don’t have problems with rain water – but not so much Av. Insurgentes! I had to dodge lots of puddles and a few side streets that could have been traveled by boat. If you have a desire to watch my traveling travails, or just want to see a stretch of Av. Insurgentes, feel free to give the video of the walk a view (https://youtu.be/Dd7TJ5E-jHc). Otherwise, you can jump straight to the tianguis and stroll around with me for a few minutes! Enjoy the audio while you can … Youtube is claiming there’s a copyright violation from the music blaring from one of the shops and it’s going to go away at some point soon!

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17 June, 2021

More playing with the new camera. This time I walked from the south end of Playa Norte to the Gold Zone Soriana (old Mega). Took the fun contraptions off of the camera and it recorded the whole hour without overheating once!

“Whole Hour”? Yes, so feel free to double speed, skip ahead and back, find things you want to watch – or just set it going and get some vicarious exercise!

You may note that there’s one point where I peek into a trash can. That shot is there to explain why the malecón has so much trash blowing around. A few years ago the city put these really nice trash recepticles on the malecón. At first they had liners in them, but it didn’t last long. And without the liners, the design of the recepticles is such that if you put trash in the top, it falls out the bottom. Brilliant.

Another pause is to look at one of the old VBike signposts. VBike is one of those ‘pay to use bicycle’ services. At one point they were installed all along the malecón. I ‘heard’ that the city wasn’t getting paid to let them use space on the malecón, so they were forced out. Bike lanes all along the malecón, and if you don’t own one you have to figure out where Baikas has rentals. Brilliant x 2.

I also turn and show the road you take to get to the bus station, and of course the condo’s/apartments/hotel??? where El Chapo was finally caught.

Ok, so on to today’s walk! …

Walk Mazatlán’s malecón at Playa Norte!
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13 June, 2021

I’ve been home for a little over a week now, and think I’ve recovered enough to post about the trip!

36 hours on an Amtrak train. I’ve done this one and a half times before, so you would think I would remember what it’s like. It must be like childbirth, because there are moments – not pleasant ones – where my mind says ‘oh! I remember this!’. Unfortunately, my trip began with one such moment. I had an Uber pick me up and take me to the transit center where I caught a bus to the train station. Well, 2 blocks from the train station, but close enough that it shouldn’t have been an issue, even with the one suitcase with the wheels that no longer turn. When I made it to the station, the door to the elevator from street level to concourse level was locked. The security guard told me it had been locked since Covid lockdowns. This is the ONLY handicapped access to the train station from street level, without going WAY out of your way. So I had to schlep my 47 lb. suitcase down two big flights of stairs, then go back up and do it again with my 35 lb. bag. I have back, heart, and breathing problems (welcome to your 60’s!). THIS WAS NOT FUN. I fully intend on contacting the City of Seattle as the Amtrak personnel told me the city owns the building and it’s their job to come out and open the door. Thankfully I arrived early enough that I had time to stop sweating and let myself dry out before getting on the train.

Then there was the 90-year-old woman who boarded the train somewhere in Oregon and sat 3 rows behind me. When the train pulled out of the station she started screaming ‘LET ME OFF THIS F*****G TRAIN’ as loudly as she could, and interspersed it with a few ‘God Damn Its’ and a lot of coughing up what must have been VERY large hairballs. Many hairballs. There were a few times when she evidently felt she wasn’t getting enough attention and started screaming she was going to be sick. The Amtrak porters obliged her and deposited her at the next station.

I would think that by 90 you have realized that riding a train would give you an anxiety attack. Evidently, I’m just not thinking straight. But now she, and all the passengers in our car, know it. And as a side note – if your COPD has reached the point where your lungs are full of liquid, you need to be on oxygen. And you need to be medicated properly. And if you aren’t on oxygen, nor medicated properly – you should not be exerting yourself by traveling, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety attacks. To be clear, I am sympathetic to her situation, but there were children in our car and her behavior was not acceptable, even allowing for an anxiety attack. The Amtrak porters treated her with care and respect. I don’t know how they did it.

The dining car attendant kept announcing that Amtrak had gone back to 100% booking, yet the dining car had (and still is) been restricted to serving only the passengers in the sleeper cars. Coach, and business class needed to buy their food from the snack bar. When I asked why they were back to 100% booking, but hadn’t opened the dining car to all the passengers, the porters told me that Amtrak management decisions never make sense. I’d brought enough food to last the entire trip (still have some) and just supplemented with a burger here and there, so I really wasn’t bothered – with the exception of being told I wasn’t high class enough to deserve a spot in their exclusive dining car!

For most of the ride I had both seats to myself, but from Eugene to Sacramento I had a seat mate, Debbie. Debbie had been visiting family and we had nice conversations during her time on board. Much of the time was spent sleeping, so we weren’t to the point where we learned each other’s eccentricities! Debbie was going someplace in New México and was puzzled by having to take a bus from Sacramento to Los Angeles. I had to remind her the train moves VERY slowly, and her bus got her to LA a whole 4 hours before the train. Sadly, she would be missing the oceanside scenery.

The rest of the Amtrak journey was smooth and silky! BUT THEN … I had reserved a room at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel near LAX. Two factors made me chose this hotel, price, and the free airport shuttle. Again, I must be thinking like a crazy person. I called them from the train early on the 4th to tell them I would need a late check-in. They said, “No problem, we’re open 24 hours”. They did NOT say, nor was it listed on the site I use to book the room, that their shuttle is NOT 24 hours. So, after arriving at the train station I decided to take the $10 bus to the airport, where I could hop on the shuttle to the hotel. Airport bus drops me off at the hotel pickup spot, and I call the hotel to ask if they just do continual loops, or if I need to let them know I need a pickup. That’s when they tell me the shuttle stops at 9 pm, and I will need to take an Uber/Lyft/Taxi. That pickup lot is 5 blocks away. 5 blocks rolling a 47 lb. bag and dragging a 35 lb. one. And an additional $35, which is what it would have cost me to come from the train station directly. I will be asking the booking agent for a refund of my Lyft ride. I will also let you know that if you visit Los Angeles, do not stay in this hotel. I’ve been to many of the lower end hotels and this Wyndham branded hotel was dirtier and less properly maintained than any of those. The carpeting in the hallways was absolutely disgusting. The light bulb in my bathroom was burned out. There WAS a single cup coffee maker in the room, and a safe was sitting on a wooden box in the closet.

Next morning I checked out and took the now operating shuttle to the airport where I can say with all honesty that the upgrade I opted for to first class was money well spent! Alaska Airlines baggage scale gave the same reading as my home scale, and the one at Amtrak – so they didn’t try to hit me with overweight fees! And wonders of all wonders, the first-class seats in this Alaska Airline plane weren’t like the American Airlines Edith Ann ones! I was comfy, pampered, had one bloody mary, a nice American version of a bahn mi sandwich, and a warm chocolate chip cookie (which I ate, even though chocolate has lactose)! 92 degrees in Mazatlán when we landed and now I’m warm again! Pizza delivery for dinner the first night home (La Rustica), and 4 tortas ahogadas ordered from El Mono which lasted the week! Made it to the Mercado and (as I posted previously) Ley Express. Bags are unpacked, and my kitchen is enjoying its newest member, Mr. Giant Wok! Oh, and yes – customs made me open my suitcases. When they got to the chili crisp they started trying to unwrap it (I had it in two bubble wrap bags) until I told them there were no seeds in it. Then they stopped and put it back! Well, there ARE a few seeds, but they’re from chilis you can buy here, and they’ve been cooked and put in oil, so they’ll never grow. I did a chili crisp happy dance! (note that this is a 24.69 oz bottle!!!!).

Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp
Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp

I never did a menaje de casa when I first moved here, so I’ve been schlepping things down every time I make a run back to Seattle. If you’re coming into México by air, you can bring items valued at up to $500 usd, in addition to your personal items. When it’s iffy, I get online and print receipts/invoices from the places I bought them. If they’re old and used, I go on ebay and find the cheapest listing for the item. When you’re flying and have the airlines branded credit card, you get one free checked bag up to 50 lbs. If you fly first class, you get TWO free checked bags up to 50 lbs. each! There’s a post by Q’Roo Paul on bringing ‘Stuff’ into México – if you have any questions about the topic, you should read this well researched post: https://qroo.us/2019/10/04/mexico-how-much-stuff-can-you-bring-duty-free-and-which-items-are-exempt/. With this trip I now have the giant wok, the chili crisp, and my cold smoke attachment for my smoker! I will soon be finding out how smoked chihuahua cheese tastes!

So, back a little over a week. My body has stopped feeling as if I’m still on a rocking train. My diet has been restarted and I’m getting into the eating sensibly habit again. I’ve been taking a Spanish class from a community college by my house in Seattle, and that’s almost over … and the trip only cost me a missed quiz, one test, and a ‘late’ turn-in for one day’s assignments. Thankfully I’m using a program that doesn’t allow for my grade to affect my transcript! I took the initial Spanish class because the last formal class I had was in 9th grade. This one DEFINITELY filled in some blanks I had. I will likely be taking the next class as well … that one is going to make me do a bit of work in order to succeed.

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9 June, 2021

I’m always surprised at my first trip to the grocery store after getting back home. I bought almost too much to carry back to my apartment, and the total was $20.56 USD. Throw in the $20 I spent at the mercado for chicken and machaca, and some already prepped veggies, and $40 gets me what $100+ did in Seattle.

Today's groceries
Today’s groceries

I made time for an excursion to Stone Island on Sunday. Did a dry run on a new video camera. It definitely doesn’t like the heat in Mazatlán, but before it overheats it does a pretty decent job! If you want to spend a half hour at Lety’s, then another 30 minutes of me getting to Olas Altas, give it a view. You can always kick it into 2x speed mode – or just end it early. It’s always nice to be able to see the beach even if you can’t be there!

Stone Island beach time.

And now, for a little wake-up call for some. INM is cracking down on foreigners without valid tourist permits. Most of the stories I’ve seen have been in Quintana Roo, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t checking documents other places too. Deportation is happening. If you don’t have valid permits, then I would suggest you correct the situation asap. I know that when I’m traveling by bus there are usually checkpoints where they go through bags AND ask for tourist permits/residency cards from those who aren’t citizens. Now INM in Quintana Roo appear to be randomly stopping people. If you don’t want to carry your documents with you (as I believe is required) then at least have a photo of front and back in your phone. They likely will still need to double check your status, but at least they’ll have something to go off of.

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31 May, 2021

My 2 week wait after the second vaccine is done, and I’m enjoying not having to wear a mask everywhere I go. I still have one or two with me in case I’m somewhere that requires them (currently some shops/stores, and transportation – buses/trains/airplanes). I will also abide by whatever guidelines are in place in Mazatlán when I get home … but I think I can move the hand sanitizer from my pants pocket to my backpack. I bought a button that says I’m vaccinated – and wear it when I go out just in case someone might get snippy that I’m not wearing a mask.

There’s a walking/biking trail two blocks from my house in Seattle (the Interurban Trail), so I’ve been taking a few excursions trying to get back in the habit so I might more easily resume my walks in Mazatlán. The 20 lbs. I’ve gained since my trip in late October is not comfortable, and really needs to go away. The diet resumes the minute I get home!

Yard work at the Seattle house is almost done. Not a small task, the green field of two foot tall grass that was the back yard no longer is. Mail has been forwarded. Garbage collection paused. Tomorrow I’ll change the batteries in the security cameras. Then things will get unplugged, hot water tank will be turned off, and any food will be traded with the neighbor for a space in her can for my last bag of trash. I’ll make my way to the train station and then have a day and a half of watching the world go by!

I see that one of the nice Facebook pages about Mazatlán only has 911 members. That would be the ‘Mazatlán México sunrise and sunset by Yvon Marier’ page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1371473443035406). If you’re a fan of the sunsets in Mazatlán you might want to join in on the atardecer fun. It’s always nice to be able to give it a look when I’m not there to see one in person.

Next on my agenda is a trip to Lety’s for a little beach, botanas, and beer. I can almost feel it now!

Carmelita's, Lety's, and Victors @ La Isla de la Piedra
Carmelita’s, Lety’s, and Victors @ La Isla de la Piedra
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7 May, 2021

It’s now been two weeks since my first vaccine. In one more week I’ll get #2, then have the two week wait until it kicks in fully. I was considering getting the shingles vaccine after that but see that the one dose vaccine has been discontinued. I’ll have to ask my doctor if only getting one dose will give me any kind of protection.

Amtrak sent me an email talking about $50 fares, so when I come home I’ll be taking the train from Seattle to Los Angeles, then an overnight stay in a cheap hotel so I can catch a flight to Mazatlán the next morning. Cost, including the hotel, is just a bit more than flying from Seattle to Mazatlán, and I get a little mini train vacation out of it. The views from the Coast Starlight run can be amazing.

Twice now I’ve encountered crazy, angry people when the term ex-pat has been used to describe a Canadian or American living in México. They’ve said that the correct word to use is immigrant, and that ex-pat is what people of privilege use to describe themselves, and that those same people consider immigrants to be lower class.

I’ve tried to explain that expatriate and immigrant are two words that describe the exact same situation, and that neither has a positive or negative connotation. Apparently I’m wrong on that last part as the crazy just gets worse when I say it.

Let’s look at definitions, from Webster’s Dictionary.

  • Expatriate: To withdraw (oneself) from residence in one’s native country.
  • Immigrant: A person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.

So – an expatriate has left their native country and an immigrant is someone who now lives in another country. I am expatriated FROM the United States, and I immigrated TO México. I am BOTH an ex-pat and an immigrant. The exact same could be said of a Méxican citizen who moves to the USA. They are BOTH an ex-pat from México and an immigrant to the USA.

For the life of me I am not understanding the reason for all the anger, but believe me when I say that it’s there. So while I won’t be striking the term from my vocabulary, I will consider to whom I’m speaking and chose my words appropriately.

And before I close this post I’d like to revisit my rant on misinformation from a post or two ago. To refresh, I’d seen videos on YouTube where vloggers told people to take the WRONG buses to/from the Juárez tianguis. I had commented on one of the videos stating that the information presented was incorrect and could put a tourist in danger (one of the buses that could have been taken mistakenly would have dropped the rider off near a tuna packing plant in Parque Bonfil – just a little bit away from the Ciudad Perdida. Neither are places I’d want to wander if I didn’t know where I was). Those vloggers decided to delete my comment while doing nothing to correct their misinformation. These people have left Mazatlán, but that video will survive to misinform viewers for years. Please – unless you have first hand information, ALWAYS verify things people tell you before relying on them. Taking a new bus someplace? ASK the driver if they go there, even if you’ve read/seen/heard that they do. There are very few places I wouldn’t go around Mazatlán, but there ARE some. Just like there are places in Seattle where I wouldn’t go.

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13 April, 2021

I was able to get an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine – in Seattle. Not sure which it is. Washington State hasn’t blocked using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yet, so I’ll cross my fingers but won’t hold my breath.

So, today I grabbed a cab and ran to the airport for the antigen test. The airport is cheaper for the test alone than the clinics I could find in town, but when you add taxi fare to/from it grows a little bigger. I figured that it would be quick, that the airlines would be accepting the results without any problems, and that I could bounce upstairs to Carl’s Jr. and have a burger for breakfast. Not a total waste of a day! If you have a flight booked, the cost at the airport is $579 pesos. Slightly higher if you aren’t flying and just want the test. Thirty minutes for results. The three guys ahead of me all complained about the technician trying to remove their brains, but when it was my turn it was painless and quick. I think they just wanted an excuse to have a drink. I *would* have just taken the test before my flight, but I believe the testing station opens at 9:00 am and my flight is at 10:00 am. I just imagined a plane full of people trying to get tested and board within an hour. Nope.

Results were negative, so Thursday off I go. I’m kind of hoping the airline delays my flight from México City to Seattle so they put me up in a hotel and fly me out the next day. I would really like a few hours to wander around the city again. Actually, I’ve been thinking of taking a trip and visiting Teotihuacan, and Tula de Allende. The archaeology site in Tula is closed due to the pandemic (but Teotihuacan is open) so I’m going to wait it out! Never been to Tula before, so I’m really looking forward to it. Google it and see – it would really make a great day trip. Teotihuacan is more like a 3 or 4 day trip for me; so I could make it two weeks and just enjoy a nice relaxing time in CDMX, Teotihuacan, and Tula de Allende.

I combined two of my walks the other day – from my apartment to Juárez, then back on Ejercito Méxicano. I cut over to Insurgentes and had shrimp ceviche at Restaurante MiYeya. They confirmed that they are closed on Mondays now, not Tuesdays. And they told me that the breakfast buffet starts at 8:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays. I really should have ordered something that was cooked to have something more to critique, but the ceviche was good. There was plenty of it too. And it wasn’t horribly expensive. So, going on my limited experience, I’d recommend them if you’re in the area (they’re just over the estero de infiernillo [the waterway], to the East of Insurgentes Soriana).

I took a lot of photos along the walk, but haven’t edited them all yet! I’ll try to get it done before I leave, and post a few here to show the sites to be seen! In the mean time, here’s the ceviche at MiYeya (yes, I dunked hot sauce on it before I took the photo) …

Ceviche at Restaurant MiYeya
Ceviche at Restaurant MiYeya

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6 April, 2021

The scale was not nice to me yesterday. It seems all of my diet cheating caught up all at once! I gained 3 lbs, so the walks are going to happen and whole pizzas will NOT be eaten for one, or even two, meals!

I did a short walk yesterday, over to the Embarcadero Playa Sur, then up to Paseo del Centenario, over to Olas Altas, to the Mercado Pino Suarez for a quick cocochata, then home. I hit my 10,000 steps – but just.

Today was a walk to the Mercado Municipal Miguel Hidalgo in Juárez, then down Av. Insurgentes to the Malecón where I hopped on the Sabalo-Centro bus. 15,000 steps and counting!

I enjoy grabbing a few photographs in the mercado … here are today’s:

That last photograph shows one of the cenadurias – there’s always someone eating there, so either they have a large family to feed, or their food is good.

During my trip to Acapulco in 2019 I saw an inflatable penguin. If you’re from my era you might remember the big clowns that were weighted at the bottom that I think kids used more as punching bags than anything else. Well, the penguins are like that. Only smaller. I didn’t buy one when I saw it, then I couldn’t find them again anywhere! Until today!!! Sr. Pinguino is now guarding my front door! Best is that he was $65 pesos – $3.25 USD! Here he is posing for a photo before I took him outside …

Sr. Pinguino
Sr. Pinguino

While walking down Av. Insurgentes I keep seeing restaurante MiYeya. As you can see by the photo of their exterior wall, it’s hard to miss. This time I walked over and checked them out. Seems that they also have a breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday! It also looks like they’ve changed the day they close from Tuesday to Monday. They say that Uber Eats delivers from them, so I’ll have to see if I’m in range – or give the buffet a try!

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4 April, 2021

No walking lately because there are WAY too many people in town for Semana Santa! Most of them will be leaving today or tomorrow, so I don’t have long to wait. I think I’ll take my next walk to Juárez and maybe grab some lunch there.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta. I usually use it in October or November, and often make another trip sometime during the year (just seven hours by comfortable bus – pretty easy to do). I’ve been traveling there for over ten years now – it’s a place I really enjoy, but it’s a smaller town than I want for a place to live.

Since I have an interest in Puerto Vallarta I belong to several Puerto Vallarta Facebook groups. I thought I’d mention one of them here as it often applies to México in general. It’s called ‘Coffee & Headlines’ and is maintained by a gentleman named Paco Ojeda. Every day he produces a video for English speaking people living in Puerto Vallarta. As I said, a lot of his information translates to other cities in México. You can watch the live broadcast on Facebook every day at 10:30 am Puerto Vallarta time/9:30 am Mazatlán time here: https://www.facebook.com/pacoojedalivehttps://www.facebook.com/pacoojedalive. If you miss the live broadcast, you can pop over to YouTube and see the show here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ojedapaco/videos.

Today’s show featured a woman he knows who spent some time talking about what she calls ‘Mexicution’. Her definition isn’t in the list of meanings from what you’ll get Googling, but more about the buildup of things that happen to change your attitude about living in México. Over time I have seen several people who live in México a year or two, then return to where they came from. They all have one thing in common – they always refer to the place they came from as ‘home’, and not where they’re living in México. Living in another country requires a shift in perspective and you won’t be happy there until you learn how to do it. If you’ve made the move and are having trouble, or not – and just want some good advice, I recommend giving the interview a watch. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/AUTJH3AMeEw?t=1060. In case it doesn’t start at the right place, you want to watch from the 17:40 mark.

And here are a few photos from my last walk. Fog was rolling in and eventually engulfed El Faro!

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30 March, 2021

Today’s walk. No bus. 17,000+ steps (just for the walk). A little lying prone and an 800 mg Advil and I’m feeling much better now, thank you! I’m having difficulty in sticking to my diet, so the walking is offsetting the extra calories … so far holding me at a steady weight of 141 lbs. 16 lbs. from my goal weight, but better than 20!

Today's walk along Av. Ejercito Méxicano and the malecón
Today’s walk along Av. Ejercito Méxicano and the malecón

This walk goes down a major street in Mazatlán (Av. Ejercito Méxicano), but one that people usually travel by automobile or bus. It takes me a few minutes to get to the street from my apartment, but once I do there are a good dozen buses I can grab whose destination is a complete and total mystery! A mystery to be addressed in the near future perhaps?

It’s termite swarming time again! I looked out my kitchen window last night, and my porch light had a swarm around it. So it’s staying off for the next few days. Neighbors can just be more careful on our very narrow and steep cement stairs that are now shrouded in shadow. If I leave the light on I find them inside around my windows. I have very old windows that don’t shut tightly. They let the geckos in as well – so I’m not eager to replace them soon.

I had my roof sealed. Happy enough to pay them, but the coating wasn’t evenly applied, and they told me that it’d be dry in 2 hours. I let it sit from about 4 pm until 8 am the next day and I now have shoe prints on my roof from where I stepped to inspect it. I’m giving it a few more days before I attempt to walk on it again. It’s supposed to be the 7 year material, so I’m planning on having to re-do the application in 5. We’ll see. I had a small façade repair that they took care of as well … they did an excellent job there.

Ok, off for more Modern Family binge watching (while laying prone on the couch)!

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