Monday, March 23, 2015

I've Got the Itch

I've got the itch again.  It's not a physical ailment, it's a mental issue.  Our time in Mexico is coming to a close, our 180 day tourist visa will expire in the middle of April.  The car and us will be leaving Mazatlán on April 14th so that we won't become illegal immigrants.

I'm ready to get back to life in the motorhome and traveling.

I caused my own ailment by beginning to read a book on the 5 National Parks in Utah.  It's my own fault, this has happened before, I should never have picked up that darn book. 

We are staying busy but several of our friends have left Mexico and things are winding down here for the snowbirds.

A selfie with a couple of my students.
I've taught my final class with our ESL students.  It was a good year at the new school and I look forward to next year already.  Third graders are very fast learners and it was good to see the changes from our first class to the last.  Teacher RRRRRooooss is on break until next Fall.

A new moon rising over the marina during a nightly walk.

We are increasing the length of our evening walks to try to get ready for the hiking in Utah.  The evening temperatures have dropped enough to make it a little more comfortable to be out walking after dark.  As we reach the end of Winter, the temperatures are consistently over 80 degrees every day.  Mexican Summer is starting.  We will be long gone by the time triple digits arrive.

We continue to find great music to listen to each week.  Yesterday was a five band concert on the beach in Cerritos.  The location was great for over 500 expats to enjoy the day.

Plenty of shade provided by the 10 tents.
The evening sunset came during the last bands performance.  It was a fine finish to our day.

The Sun sinks into the Sea of Cortez.

Pink sky at night, sailors delight.
Life is good, the itch ain't so bad.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Hamburger Theory of World Economics

I'm not a brilliant man.  I certainly did not earn top grades when I was in school.  None of my friends ever referred to me as their "smart" friend.  I don't have any letters after my name. 

But I'm about to show you that I may be slightly smarter than average.  Only slightly.

I'm about to disclose my brilliant theory of world economics.  I've spent years perfecting this simple theory.  "The Hamburger Theory of World Economics".

Decades ago I went to Europe.  This was long before the internet, smart phones and the information highway.  It was before the "Euro" was the common currency.  Every country had a different currency.  As I moved from country to country I had no idea what each currency was worth.

Each time I changed countries I would step off the train and look for McDonalds.  There was always a golden arches to guide my way.  I would step into the lobby and check the price of a Big Mac.

I could instantly know the value of a Franc or a Leare.

A simple mental calculation would give me an idea of what the world thought that countries currency was worth.

Now how does this apply to our life in Mexico?  Let's consider a Mexican hamburger (Hambergasa).

World Economics in action.
I'm about to enter the area of politics, I apologize.  No matter what a politician may tell you about the state of the world or our country..... remember this..... a hamburger doesn't lie.

Here is a deep truth.  Prepare to embrace this truth.  Remember a hamburger doesn't lie.

The good old USA is doing just fine in the minds of the world.  The US dollar is stronger than it has been in years.  The hamburger prices prove it.

Terri and I could eat a dinner of a Whopper, fries and a Coke for $3.30 each.  Now we wouldn't do that with all the great food available here, it's just a financial lesson.  If we wanted to go cheap a Whooper Jr., fries and a Coke would be $1.93.

No matter what Fox News or CNBC may tell you, the world thinks the US dollar is strong.  It's not just talk, when the world sets exchange rates they are betting their money on us.  They are betting in favor of the USA.  The hamburger proves it.

Enjoying real food.
Now to prove we would not eat a Big Mac or a Whopper here was last nights dinner out at Three Hermanos in the Marcado.  Terri had 3 Pollo Tacos and I had 3 Pollo Sopas.  We each had a Coke Light.  Dinner was $3.14 each.  The US dollar IS strong.

I trust that I have impressed you with my brilliant financial mind.  If not than we will just continue our simple lives here in Paradise.

Life is good.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Amazing Concert

Alexis Felix, lead singer and guitar virtuoso.
Last nights concert at the Mazatlán International Center was fabulous.  The symphony and choral that backed up the band made the music even more powerful.  It was an amazing evening under the stars.

We knew how good Alexis was from listening to him play every week this year.  But this was different, it was a whole new side of him we had never seen.  The talent it took to perform 2 hours of Pink Floyd music was unexpected.  His singing range was shown in a whole new light.  The man is amazing.

Earth shaking or a wiggly camera?
We sat in the back row, the highest seat in the place.  Also the best view.
We've gotten to know Alexis and his wife Heather this year.  Their three boys love our puppy and I am sure that Eva would abandon us in a minute to go live with those boys.  Eva slept next to the oldest son every night when we were in Guadalajara.

It was an honor and joy to hear Alexis perform to a crowd of about 2,000 last night.  It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Alexis as we usually see him.  Just him and his guitar.
As you can see we had a great time and here's a selfie to show you the cute couple.

Life is good for the Rangers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pink Floyd Anyone?

We are going to a concert tonight.  I can think of only one song by Pink Floyd so it will be interesting to see if we enjoy the concert.  We know Alexis, one of the guitar players in the band, he and his wife and three boys watched Eva when we went to Guadalajara a few weeks ago.

The outdoor concert is at the Mazatlán International Center which is in our Marina neighborhood.  We went there to pick-up tickets today.

After we purchased our tickets we wandered around the convention center to see the set-up for tonights concert.  It looks like a big bash.

The outdoor stage and bleachers in a panorama shot.
The stage is big enough to hold the symphony, choral and the Pink Floyd Band.
After seeing the concert area we wandered further into the convention center.  We could hear sounds coming from down a hallway.  That was our invitation to go snooping. When you are old and gray you can walk anywhere without anyone questioning you.

Let's go that way.
We opened a closed door.  There was a full symphony orchestra practicing in there.  What to do?  Walk in like you own the place, why not?  I have gray hair, I can go anywhere I want.

The music was great.  Nothing like a 100 people in the back-up band.
Alexis singing and playing.
Alexis is an amazing guitar player and it will be fun to see our friend in action tonight. We listen to him play almost every week, but never with a hundred back-up musicians.  He is the nicest young man and has a wonderful family. 

3 String Basses and a hand full of Cellos. 
At least a half dozen French Horns fill out the brass section.
3 or 4 dozen string players.
Some of the band members.  They must have thought I was the press, they posed for me.
I guess I am the press.   I write a blog, don't I?
From what we heard this afternoon it will be a powerful evening of great music.  It all starts at 8:00 tonight.  The weather has been perfect for an evening outdoor concert, it will be in the low 70's and stars will be out.

One of many murals in the  convention center.
Of course life is good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Smelly Dog, Oh Smelly Dog

It was a beautiful morning so we drove to Cerritos and had breakfast at Looney Bean.  Eva the wonderdog was excited because she knew that beach running always follows breakfast.  We sat outside and enjoyed our oatmeal and bagels, it was already a warm day by 9:00 am.

Eva returns her fetch stick.

As usual she was running into the surf and in a short time was a sandy wet dog.  That's normal and we are used to her love of water.  The bad part comes in a bit.

Terri continued to throw Eva's stick until she had her worn out.  Or so we thought.  As we began our return walk down the beach Eva raced ahead.  I knew what was about to happen.  A had seen several Buzzards on the beach picking at a dead fish as we walked by the first time.  As I watched down the beach the Buzzards took to the air as Eva raced toward them.  Terri began to run toward them.

It was to late.

Eva had gotten to the dead fish parts and was busy rolling in the sand as the buzzards circled overhead.  I wasn't that worried about the Buzzards and Eva, she can scare any buzzard that messes with her.  I was worried how she would smell after rolling in dead fish.

Smelly dog, oh smelly dog.

She may look really happy with herself, but we weren't that happy with how she smelled.  Dead fish is not a great smell for the car ride home. 

We kept all the windows down.

She looks and smells better after 3 shampooings and a bunch of scrubbing.  Dumb dog.

Another good day at the beach if you don't count the smelly dog incident.  Life is good even with a dumb dog.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Life has turned very quiet here with no guests.  We are enjoying this time and our regular routine.  We had a cold spell for a few days where it was in the mid to high 70's.  The Mexican all bundled up but I suffered along in my t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

The excitement for today was my third grade ESL class.  Sheila and I teach about 30 kids in a public school in a poor part of town.  Sheila was a teacher in Gig Harbor in her working career so she actually knows what she is doing.  I'm the bouncer, I keep the boys in line.  Some days that is not an easy job.

One of my favorite students.

Sheila in action.
Today we had an extra helper along.  Marcy has taught before and was a big help.

Marcy helping the kids.
It was a good class today.  Here are a bunch of picture of our students.

The kids all share a desk.

Most of the kids wear a standard school uniform in public school.
But on a cool day (80 degrees) they may have a sweater over to keep warm.

The kids follow us out of class for hugs and to get in a group photo.
The kids learn really fast and when we show up for class they are all excited to try out their English on us.  It's great to be teacher Rrrooosss (remember to roll that R).

Terri attracted a group of good looking young men in front of the theater the other night.
Looking down on Olas Altas (the oldest part of town) the other night.
We end with another sunset on a cloudless evening.  The colors faded for a really long time tonight.

Life is very good in a lazy kind of way.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dollars and Sense

Let's talk money today.  As I was sitting in the waiting room at the Honda dealer while the oil was being changed in the Fit I picked up the daily newspaper.  As I flipped through the pages pretending I could read Spanish, I came to the grocery advertisement.

We don't think to much when we go to the grocery store about the price of things, we just buy what we need.  As I sat there today I got out my phone and used the calculator to figure out prices.  The exchange rate at the cash machine today was 14.98 pesos to the dollar.  That means 10 pesos equals 67 cents.

Here is a photo of the produce section from the ad:

Here are the price conversions on a few of the things we buy all the time:
Tomatoes - 30 cents per pound
Bananas -   9 cents per pound
Broccoli -  41 cents per pound
Oranges -  15 cents per pound
Mango  -   90 cents per pound
Corn on the Cob - 9 cents per pound
Potatoes  -  55 cents per pound
Lettuce  -  15 cents per pound
Tunafish  -  50 cents per can
Orange Juice -  97 cents per liter

In other ads the best Sirloin Steak was $3.60 per pound.

A large croissant in the bakery is 38 cents.  I know this one well from being addicted to them.

They do an interesting thing here with sales taxes, they are all included in the price.  You never have to wonder what the final price is, it's what ever the sticker says.  Simple.

Yesterday I had a full wash and detail inside and out of the car for 60 pesos or $4.00.  It takes the guys about 40 minutes to do the job.  They power wash the exterior and wheel wells, hand wash exterior, hand dry exterior, wipe all door jams, vacuum interior, dust and clean all surfaces and finally do the wheels and tires.  I won't work that hard for 4 bucks.

So while I was sitting in the dealership I struck up a conversation with one of the new car salesmen.  We talked about the new Honda Fit for 2015.  All Fits and CVR's are made in Mexico now.  I really liked the new styling on the 2015 Fit.  I finally got around to asking him the price of a Honda Fit Sport in Mazatlán.  236,000 pesos sounds like a lot until I did the conversion to dollars.

$15,754.00 or about $3,000.00 less than I paid for mine 2 years ago.  Oh well.  I only have 36,000 miles on ours so it's nowhere near time to change.

This years exchange rate is the highest we've ever seen.  What it means to us is that for the six months we are here it is a 20% increase in our retirement income.

On top of the cost of living we also like the sunsets.

This is the sun setting over the Sea of Cortez tonight
5 minutes later.
That's all for today.
Life is good.... in paradise.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Doctor, Doctor, Mr. MD.....

....Can you tell me what's ailing me?

So we all have been sharing the same cold for the last few weeks.  Once one person gets a little better, the next person would get it.  It was time to brake this coughing cycle.

We belong to Group Health, but they don't do us any good while we are in Mexico.  It was time to find a "Doc in the Box".  In the USA we have urgent care centers that we can drop into, in Mazatlán there are a bunch of small doctors offices located near the pharmacies.

Sister Sara waiting her turn.  Terri is in seeing the doctor.
The prices on the chart are in pesos, not dollars.  That's right, a doctors appointment for less than $3.00.

We each saw the doctor separately and each agreed that he gave a thorough exam.  He spoke great English and asked lots of questions.  Following blood pressure, examining throat and ears, listening to heart, lungs and chest, he tapped and poked like any other doctor.  We talked some more and he wrote two prescriptions for me.  I've got a cold.

Total cost for my appointment and meds was $18.02.  Terri had three meds and her cost was $27.35.

A few pills to cure us.
Now to see if we can get rid of our colds.  I have to say I was happy with Dr. Humberto Cardenas. 

Life is good and will be even better without our colds.

Just another sunset.