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Year 2004 – I turn the big Six Zero (60)

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JANUARY

The year starts with me parked in El Golfo de Santa Clara (Sonora, Mexico) at the CRA RV park just south of town. 
To see how I got here, check here to see year 2003.

I survived New Years here in El Golfo.  I think I can stay here until the first of March.  Then I go to Yuma until it warms up.  Around the first of March I should be back in San Jose for more medical things.

Politics – Rising Costs
19 January

Some days just go wrong.  I went into Yuma today.  As usual I went from El Golfo through Algodones to the Yuma Kinko’s on 4th at about 20th.  I called Samaritan Health Care again for my test-strip prescription.  I got the Medical Assistance Line and left a message – third one – no reply.  From Kinko’s I followed 4th Avenue around the corner to 32nd Street.  A block before Pacific (Wal-Mart) street some yoyo in a big shiny pickup with new 5th wheel jerks out of a parking lot on the left side, across three lanes of traffic, through the boulevard and almost runs through me.  I am glad I have good brakes although my forehead may not think so.  He continues through in the left lane and lines up to turn left on Pacific Avenue.  Well, he is already in the left lane.  I go straight leaving me in the second left lane – also ready to turn left but away from this jack-in-the-box.  Two cars in front of me go straight.  I turn left slightly ahead of the jack-in-the-box.  Oops.  He takes the corner short and invades my lane.  He is not just a jack-in-the box: he must be drunk.  I jolt to the right but not enough.  He nudges me.  Darn.  The guy probably has a gun.  He has a cowboy hat.  He slows down probably because he had trouble with the following 5th wheel.  I pull into the left lane and into the center turn lane.  I slowly pull into the Wal-Mart lot with him following.  I worry about the gun.  This is Arizona.  People are violent here.  I pull into the loop where the RVs park and I wait for him.  He turns into the lot but does not follow me.  Instead he goes jerking around the lot to the store front and then off to the north.  I park my car and look for damage:  a three-inch little bruise near my tail lamp where my paint is a little lighter.  He probably uses that big rubber bumper frequently.  I see him off to the north by the Wiener Schnitzel.  Good riddance.  I shop and return to Sam’s Club for ice cream and go home.  Call the police?  He hit me -- I stopped -- He did not.  I do not need the trouble.  I write this because I am still shaking in the middle of the night.  Why do violent people seek me out?  Otherwise my shopping trip to Yuma went just fine.

FEBRUARY

Nothing has really happened but I picked up some sort of infection.  It did not go away in a week -- so I went to Yuma Emergency.  I was admitted and had some minor surgery.  I went home the next day.  The surgery got better then it got worse.  So, after 3 weeks I am back in the hospital with a serious urinary tract infection and will be here about a week.  I miss my regular life.  I miss my friends.  And I hurt.  It is now Sunday the 8th, in the hospital with no determination of the cause or the solution to the infection.  Again some surgery to remove a cyst that is not responding to the antibiotic.  Now I have an open wound that I have to fill with cotton tape until it heals up.  Back to Yuma on the 18th to see the urologist.  It shall be a bad year financially.  I am in good health.  I say that because all of these things and the diabetes will not get me down.  They are a normal part of doing business on this earth.  I have good friends and a good home and I enjoy the outside world.  Whoever thinks that retirement gives you a lot of empty time is out of their mind.

Computers – My SONY VAIO

I see a basic eMachines at Costco that may let me return to having both a mainframe and a laptop.  I like having the two for the backup ability, the configurability of the larger machine, and no lockups.  I already have the peripherals: I only need the box itself.  I have to check my finances.  With the hospital visits, two computers may be out of the question for another year and Gateway just bought eMachines.  Nevertheless, en external hard drive for the laptop is $200 and only solves half the problem while adding another device to my already crowded tabletop.  eMachines is a problem because I also have a thing against Gateway (they bought eMachines this month) when they required a certified check for a modem. 

There is another reason to not write checks: I am still receiving letters from lawyers trying to get me to pay for the checks written by the RV thieves (See Disaster) 16 months ago.  At this point, I could refer these letters to a lawyer but it is almost fun making replies to their nasty, threatening letters.  These guys are good at applying pressure: they send the account from one law firm to the next, each sending me a more threatening letter than the last.  The latest letter has questions about my employment, child support, home-ownership, liens, garnishments, and whatever they think will make me want to get them off my backs by giving in to their extortion. 

Some store clerk at Rite-Aid, Radio Shack, and a couple other places sold the thieves something using the stolen checks.  Obviously no attempt was made by the store clerk to identify the writer of the check.  Now they expect me to pay them for the bounced checks to cover up for their ineptitude.  The checks bounced because I closed the accounts immediately after finding the RV stolen (See Identity Theft).  These days who accepts a check without identifying the writer?  Wal-Mart even asks for my picture ID when I use my credit card – I thank them for this.

Back to life.  I am at the CRA RV Park.  I thank Pat every time I see him, maybe silently to myself, that he has permitted me to stay here – even though I have been in Yuma – for the season.  Choppy-choppy.  I help people with their computers and am considered by him as staff.  My friend Adelbierto (aka Gordo) was fired and I go visit his family today.  I take some food and sneak Sara twelve bucks more for food.  There is no welfare here in Mexico and I wonder how they will survive.  I offer to take her daughter off her hands but get a negative response.  I tell her that it is unfair for her to be growing a third child while I have none to take care of.  Sometimes I think she takes me seriously.  The problem is that I would be serious if it were really an option.  She is raising a great family except for her problem child: Gordo.

In another couple of weeks, I shall have everything put back together and can look at my finances.  GMAC insurance will be history even if the new company costs more.  I need the satisfaction of dumping them for the problems they caused me on settling the claim on my RV.  All policies from the RV Alliance agency (Escapees) include Mexican coverage.  I need this before I return to the states.  I also need to buy a brake system since Fleetwood, according to the class-action suit, makes motor homes with insufficient braking to stop the rig when towing a Tercel.  That is $1,200 more dollars – by March if I enter the class action.

Plans for the year

Since I am very poor this year, traveling out of the area is out of the question.  I really want to make better Mexican friends and learn their language.  I hate the humid summer heat in El Golfo but I think I can manage Arizona.  I must spend time in San Jose to get my medical situation straightened out.  This means that maybe some visits to Megan’s apartment with the RV stored in Yuma or EL Golfo.  Maybe a trip to Atlanta.  I need to start walking my two miles each morning.  Every morning.  I need to find a soul mate.  Maybe Megan is correct: I have been alone so long that being with someone permanently will not happen.  Maybe the medical problems will preclude enjoying sex.  Maybe all sorts of things.  Nothing can remove the joy of sitting with a woman in the sand and watching the sunset over the Baja.

Politics – Gay Marriage                 Politics -- Securing The Domestic Tranquility

MARCH

I made it to March.  Because of the 2 hospital visits last month, I am a bit weaker and need to improve my stamina but other than that I think I am in good health.  I am happy and am having to decide what to do for the next two years. 

My daughter, Bree, has decided to not repay her loan.  She borrowed a lot of money when she got divorced so that she could start with a clean credit record.  The hole in my early-retirement money causes me serious economic problems.  She knew when she borrowed the money that I needed it back by last year.  Until spring she made payments that did not even meet interest I owed on the money.  Now she just heaps her unhappiness of her childhood on my head.  It is hard to give up on a daughter but sooner or later it gives you headache.  Since last year was such a financial disaster and I recover slowly from such things, I am in tough financial shape.

Nevertheless, I have decided to limit my travels as I stated above.  I have four choices:

  1. Stay within the area (CA, NM, AZ, MX) and use my memberships to the maximum along with appropriate dry camping.  This saves the most money but defers the longer term expenses (like a new RV as this one is now past 5 years old.)
  2. Buy an extended-stay option at the El Golfo CRA Park.  This permits a 5-month stay every year at the up-front expense of a couple thousand dollars and a fixed monthly rate while in the park.  This spends some money up front, but still limits my stay and there is a monthly charge.
  3. Buy (lease) a lot on the CRA Park.  This is a serious up front fee but permits me to visit at any time for as long as I wish and I pay my own electricity.
  4. Buy (ala Mexico Bank trust) a lot in town.  This is a more serious purchase than the above and I still have the monthly expenses along with liability of damage to the property.

Which way I should go varies by time of day and how I feel.  I love the Mexican people and culture.  I could still commute monthly to Yuma to buy groceries and supplies.  How long to own this motorhome is a concern.  If I buy a lot (house), then I do not need the RV but it is an asset while it is alive.  The longer it is parked in one place, the more likely it is to grow problems.  The CRA lots will be sold in another year.  I have found a nice house in town for a good price – about the same price as a CRA lot.

It is decision time and I am not good at decisions that will influence my life this much.  I was inclined to do both 1 and 4.  That is, buy the CRA lot and travel small amounts.  If I run into trouble, high tail it safely back into Mexico.  Otherwise, just plan to spend the winters here.

Any choice but the first requires me to take money from my retirement account.  I am worried about doing this during the “Bush-Recovery” (read as: ongoing recession).  Today, I think I shall just go live in the desert until fall and settle it then.

I leave El Golfo on Wednesday 17.  I have a doctor appointment in Yuma on the 24th so I shall stay they for a week before going north.  It is getting seriously warm here.  I have been invited to a horse ranch in Yécora and may do so but not until I have had enough time to get everything back in shape in the Estados Unidos.

Decisions, decisions.

Poor is Relative

I am not poor but I live poorly compared to a few years ago.  My expenses have been high due to medical costs, money owed, and the earlier loss of the RV.  My primary splurge is my Carl’s Junior Hamburger each week.

I have friends in the Estados Unidos that make their food budget go far beyond mine.  I buy gifts for those friends and others:  I hate to see people in trouble.

Have you seen the newsreels of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan?  Have you seen people with no homes at all?  These are poor.  Where I stay in Mexico, I have friends that are poor.  These live in a rented house.  One house has a roof (it leaks seriously when it rains).  The walls are made of plywood chunks nailed in place.  The furniture is three beds, a couple tables, a refrigerator, and a chair.  The floor is dirt.  The bathroom is sort of a room off the back with a big tub.  There is no running water but there are plenty of cucarachas.  There is electricity: wires hanging around the room have a light bulb.  They have a small black and white TV.  There are no windows but there is a door with a chain through the hole for a lock.  Sara sweeps the floor frequently to pick up the junk that falls down.  It seems strange to see someone sweep a dirt floor.  There are boxes under the bed with changes of clothing.  The food is in the refrigerator.  The cat gets whatever it can find.  It is a scruffy grey cat – pregnant.  The cat eats any rodents and bugs it finds.  The neighbor dog had pups.  A couple of the pups hang around the house.  They have dug holes under the plywood to get in and out for when the door is closed.  When they are grown, they will protect the house from strangers.  With no windows, it is very hot in the summer.  It is March and the outside temperatures have already been as high as 90.  In another month they will stay at 100 degrees and the humidity will be high from the ocean.  There is no AC although they do have a fan.  Outside, they wet down the yard to keep the dust down.  They pull the grass to keep the bugs and rodents away.  Their rent is $30 per month.  The electricity this month is $20.  They do not have money for either.  No phones.  He has worked odd jobs for the last couple of days.  Sara is four months pregnant.  She thinks it is twins.  They already have two kids.  They are all happy.  The entire community is happier than most people I know.  Their best friends live a couple blocks away: their house is notably poorer.  Most of the neighbors are poorer than my friends here.  He had a good job but was fired for poor performance.  Poverty is not the same as in the Estados Unidos.

It is the middle of March and I have moved into the CRA Park in Yuma after a night at the Escapees Park.  I start getting organized for my return to Mexico in another month.  I am trying to take Sara up on her offer to go to her mother’s house in May.  A lot of work between now and then.  I went shopping at Yuma Wal-Mart today.  Another shopping cart thief.

APRIL

Politics – More Bush Bashing

But enough of that.  I needed something to cool off a bit.  Today I drove sown to El Golfo to tell Sara and family that I intended to take her up on her offer of a couple weeks at her mother’s ranch in Yécora.  Yesterday, I discovered that my FMT (Mexican Tourist permit) had expired as well as my Mexican insurance.  I could wait until Monday and get things straightened out or go unprotected today.  I chose the latter.  I also had a bunch of gifts for the family.  I also had some plastic eggs with candy inside to pass out among the children of friends.  You know me: the perpetual Easter Bunny/Santa Claus.

The day went well.  The weather was clear, families were in good shape, and the drive down was uneventful.  We had a nice day at the beach where I almost but did not get stuck in the sand.  My Spanish had deteriorated in just three weeks.  I started home with the expectation that a 30-minute wait at San Luis would give me an hour to run my generator within the park hours.  No such luck.  As I drove through town, some nut case zigzagging through lanes decided to zig right into the right side of my car.  He bounced off back into his lane and sped off.  I pulled to the right to pull over but he was gone.  I thought of pursuing him but remembered my lack of insurance would put me in jail.  He sped off on a side road ending the matter:  I was not about to pursue him.  I had heard no metal shear and knew that the worst that I would have would be paint scrapes and minor sheet metal bruising.  He had a late model something or other and would have worse damage, as he was not a Saturn.  When I eventually did stop, I found I was correct: a few red-orange stripes on my paint.

Texan Ambush at the Border

Now we write about what really got my goat today.  I went my merry way to the end of the San Luis Border crossing exit line.  The right lane was over 20 cars shorter so I took my chances.  The left lane is faster but last time it was 10 cars faster.  This was the wrong choice this time.  Someone up there in the booth must be intentionally giving everyone a hard time.

Let’s backtrack a bit here.  One of the more unpleasant experiences in Dallas (there were many of them) was shopping.  Shopping for anything.  It was an effort to convince the store clerk that you wanted to buy something.  Anything.  In most other cities, the clerks try to sell you things.  Sometimes before you are ready.  In Dallas you had to fight the clerk to buy something – even after you found a clerk.

Back on track.  An hour and a quarter later, I was right: a big bozo was giving everyone in his (my) lane a tough time.  He also decided to give me a tough time.  I have learned from experience to roll my window down and stop and wait for the INS guy to start asking questions.  Not this bozo.  He made strange gestures as if pantomiming “why are you in my lane?”  A good question that I already regretted not answering sooner by being elsewhere.  I did not react to the pantomime and he repeated the gestures in my face.  Now I was sure he was a Tejano but you sit quietly when control freaks are acting out their problems.  He eventually asked if I were an American citizen and where was I born.

He also wanted my registration and title as I was missing the required Texas Inspection sticker on my windshield.  I tried to explain to him that in Texas the sticker itself is the registration (I found this out when the RV was stolen two years ago).  He told me that he was from Texas (righto!) and that this was not true.  He also told me that the inspection sticker is required.  He gave me an orange slip and directed me to the holding area.  He actually called me a liar.

Another bozo came out and agreed with the first bozo.  He was also sure he was right because he also came from Texas.  He called the local police to cite me for improper registration and having registration for the wrong state since I was currently living in Arizona.  This all took another half hour.  So much for charging my batteries for the night.  The San Luis policeman came in about 10 minutes, asked a few relevant questions, and sent me on my way.  He was discussing the matter with the Texans (Tejanos?) as I drove away.

I shall correct this matter as soon as I am able.  I shall carry in the Tercel: a copy of the car title (I have the original in the RV with the rest of my papers), a copy of the registration fees paid, a copy of the Mexico Insurance policy.  In the Flair I need the same things

When you apply for Texas Title and Registration to be delivered out of state, you also get a letter exempting you from inspection until you enter the state.  This seems so obvious that it never occurred to me to keep it in the vehicle.  Since no one would care except the Texas Highway patrol and by the time they see it, I will have the inspection sticker.  Wrong.  Texas Ex-cops playing God as INS Border Patrol notice no sticker and in playing God call down their wrath upon you.  I mean, think about it: the Texas License authorities are able to send you title, license, and registration.  They cannot mail you an inspection sticker (although they charge you the inspection fee) and other states do not issue inspection stickers for their neighbors.  Until I get to Texas there is no inspection sticker.  Duh!

I can get these copies as I already have them or at least all but the exemption letter.  The paper I do need was not asked for: a copy of the title to the motorhome.  I shall need that to go to Yécora next month.

I shall need the exemption letter, as I shall not be in Texas in this lifetime if I can avoid it.  As far as I am concerned, the Dixie Chicks had it almost right.  Apologizing to the world that the President was from Texas was almost right.  It would have been better to apologize that he was a Texan.  It takes a soul greater than mine for civilized Texans to deal with the quantity of rudeness and arrogance of their compatriots.

Yécora

I am having some reservations about this trip: this is the longest trip that I have taken since two years ago to Atlanta.  On the Atlanta trip I had to deal with a hailstorm, Texans, and rejection.  This trip is shorter and the people friendlier.  In general.

I must look more into the tolls – I hear they are exorbitant and the local police have scams for those who circumnavigate the tollbooths.  By the way “banditos” is an American concept.  The Mexicans do not even understand the word.  If you want to speak Mexican and mean bandits or thieves, use “rateros”.  I have not even met anyone who has encountered a bandito.  I have met many who complain about police scams, as you get further inland.  Hopefully my Mexican family can get past any of these.

I worry about crossing the ‘frontier’.  The entire trip relies on no incident here.  I have planned for the permits.  I do not know what they will think of transporting a family: it could be easier or harder.  That is why they call it “unknown”.

Then there is Yécora.  I do not understand Sara when she pantomimes a rifle and pulls her ears.  She thinks it is a joke when I tell her that I like my ears as they are.  I hear from other Americans that there are many affluent Americans in Yécora with mansions and fields of marijuana.  No wonder they have rifles.  Mary Jane and I do not get along.  Ask my ex-wife: anyone smoking it even near the house gives me horrible nightmares.

Then there is the road to Yécora.  Most of the road from Nogales to Hermosillo (the capital of Sonora) is flat and heading toward the sea.  Yécora is in the mountains.  They draw switchbacks in the sand indicating serious curves.  Much more serious than the ones Sara drew for me at first.  Others also address the steep hills.  This could be a problem if the road is too narrow or not paved.  They tell me it is well paved.  They do not understand narrow: all Mexican roads are narrow to American standards.  Moreover, Mexican roads do not have shoulders.  I mean no shoulders at all.  This means I could be working hard to stay alive when some rico Norte Americano in his BMW comes around the curve.  The tourist book says to take two drivers so that they alternatively enjoy the view.  The view comes with a downside.

Then again my daughter says that my old dentist has asked about me.  He referred to me as “quirky”.  I presume that is a euphemism but for what I am not sure.

MAY

In two days we leave for Yécora.   So starts the great adventure.   I have also arranged with Pat to spend the next season here with a DirecWay Dish/Computer Network setup.   This will provide a high-speed data link for the park along with some computer services like printing and CD copies of photographs.  If possible this will be the start of an enterprise that will permit me to live here and permit CRA and Pat to have an enviable connection to the online world.

The problem at hand (my great adventure for the year) is that I shall now be driving 800 miles across a foreign country with a family that does not speak English and is used to having a dirt floor.   I have heard of people who never grow up but I have now found one.  The husband is a big kid who has refused any responsibility for anything except that he is faithful to his spouse.  For that I give him credit.  He is as unpredictable as a five year old and refuses to take commands from anyone for anything.  He has no concept of personal ownership except for himself.   I see this as the biggest challenge of the trip.  I mean I like him.   I am just fearful that bad things will happen with him along.

I have already spent the effort at getting the pretty hologram for the RV (permission to enter Mexico past the frontier).  I am really looking forward to this adventure but there is the fear of the great unknown.  But then it is only unknown once.

4 May

We are on our way.  I have been up most of the night getting ready.   I spent a several hundred dollars in food and supplies.  I caught up on computer stuff while in Yuma yesterday.  Sara is upset with me because all I talk about is gastos (expenses -- as I learn later).   They have no idea.   We get to San Luis and buy more groceries.   The problem is that she spends most of the money I give her for food on presents for family.   With my history of family this is very hard to understand but I did make the mistake of giving her control of the grocery money.  We leave San Luis 4 hours later with gifts for everyone and enough food for a meal.   Maybe.

We pass more soldados on the road from San Luis to Santa Ana (pronounced Santana).   They walk through with a short look-a-round.  No problem.

We have a nice lunch in Santa Ana (pictures), read the map, and head for Puerto Peñasco.   More things broken, dirtied, and the RV complaining about the heat.  I so need to find a single woman to marry.  Sara reminds me of that every five minutes.   The soldados at El Doctor had waved us through without stopping.  To my family this was strange.  I remind them that I have bought cake and cookies for the soldiers in the past.   It is also a hot day and maybe it is just our turn to be waved through. 

We drive to Puerto Peñasco for the night.   The RV is having trouble with the weight and the heat.  I mean the RV is packed from one end to the other.  I packed more than usual; my family showed up (promptly) with about twice what I thought was coming, including a portable microwave and a TV.   A suitcase that is twice what Megan and I took to Europe for a month and God knows what else they have.  I did not ask what was in the second suitcase that was larger than the first.   The weight I am sure exceeds Fleetwood’s numbers.  The heat is about 105°.  The RV still has too much transmission fluid (although I removed two quarts after Professional RV tried to overfill it and claimed that they had had a Ford dealer service it).   The transmission is complaining something awful.  I had been referred to an RV park Playa Elegante.  We finally found it although not even close to the web page directions.  It could have been worse but not by much.  I paid for one night and we took off early in the morning.   Like El Golfo, the electricity is hot.  Hot?   It runs over 130 VAC.

Puerto Peñasco

This city on the Mexican Coast of the Sea of Cortez is sort of like Honolulu only poorer and scaled back a bit and no Navy.   The only purpose of this city is to relieve a tourist of any excess money.  There are services, restaurants, RV parks, parks, and the beach.   Many people and many streets.

5 de Mayo

Early is not the same as I would have done by myself.   I would have been up at 5:30 and gone by 6:00.   We were up at 5:30 but left after 8:00.   I was ready for some level of culture shock but not what I encountered.  I mean in one day, if anything were loose or breakable it was off and missing or broken.  We got pictures of barren bushes.  I got no help at all with navigation and in fact attempts to ask for help are met with negative attitude.  I was resenting that I had done this.  The hardest part was dealing with my floor.

I have carpet throughout the RV -- The same as most RVs.  Mine was replaced and is better than the original equipment (thank you Professional RV) but it is a sandy, cream color that shows all dirt.  I am lucky in one respect: it does not show sand.   I did enforce my no shoes rule.   I had bought barachos (sandals) for everyone and these were to be left at the door.   Getting in and out was a problem because they left both their shoes and their sandals on the steps.  

The real problem was that at home they have a dirt floor that Sara sweeps several times a day.  For the kids this means that anything that they do not want gets tossed on the floor.  This varies from more dirt to wrappers to food to whatever else.  It also includes clothes that mommy gets to pick up.   I find this behavior difficult to handle with their dirt floor.  I want to scream when I find pieces of tomato and lettuce in my carpet.   May someday God bless me with a wife as patient a Sara.  I am not permitted to yell at the children and convincing Sara or Gordo that tossing trash on the floor is a problem for me.  Tossing garbage on the floor is a serious problem for me.   The kids know this and hide what they throw on the floor.

By the way, the following is a list of similar complaints but they are more intended to show a cultural difference than just to bitch.  You see I have walked into a situation where I do not know the language.   The culture is very different.   And the poverty level of the family is lower than anything I have even heard of in the Estados Unidos.   In the EEUU (USA), people as poor as this qualify for all sorts of government assistance.   They are also told to get to work.   Here in Mexico, such poverty is accepted and common.  When they want fresh air in their house, they remove part of the wall.  Since they have no money and they have never consistently worked for money, they have no concept of working for improving their life style.  When I come along they do not understand why I am reticent to keep spending money on them.  I have it, they want, I should give them what they want or I should shut up and hide the money.  I have seen similar behavior I the EEUU in poor areas – it is an area that the middle class (me excepted?) does not understand.  In the USA we are taught I middle class schools that if we want more, work smarter and harder.  In lower class schools they are taught to buy lottery tickets.  They are taught this not in school but in the advertisements for the lottery which are aimed directly at the poor and then have a small, exculpatory, print line at the end to buy the tickets with discretion.   The upper class needs no lottery tickets or work.  There is effectively no middle class in the third world and Mexico is certainly third world.

If this is a problem to understand, drive through any town in Mexico.   There are sections in any of these that remind you quickly of the streets you saw in the news regarding Afghanistan or Pakistan.   Now look for subdivisions of homes like you find in any city in the USA.   You may actually find one.   And rarely you will find one that is owned by Mexicans – the others are owned by gringos.

So we make it from Puerto Peñasco to Hermosillo.   We really did.   We passed the infamous security frontier and I was worried about having the right papers.   I had bought the hologram.   The papers for this and the children’s birth certificates and a nice smile from Sara got us past the immigration inspection.  The second stage is the customs inspection.  No papers, just a walk through.  No problem.  We enter the toll road from Santa Ana to Hermosillo.   It is a good road.   You have to get used to the roads in Mexico.   The lanes are narrow and uneven and there is no shoulder.  I mean there is no shoulder at all.  The road may slant off into the desert or it may drop of sharply for a couple of meters.  The road always seems to be above grade level – it is just a matter of by how much and how steep the cliff.  In no case would the RV survive leaving the highway.  If you have a problem, stop in the roadway, set up your markers, and try to fix the problem or wait for help.  Make sure you have enough gasoline for your trip.  The Pemex (pronounced Pay-Mex) tend to cluster and it may be a long time between them.  Pay the price and be happy with a full tank of gas.  If you cannot pay the price, do not drive.  There are camions (buses) everywhere.

Hermosillo

Hermosillo is a nightmare.  The streets are narrow and confusing.  The drivers in a hurry and I do have Mexican Insurance but I do not want to have to use it.  

Bahia Kino

We cannot make it to Yécora tonight so we aim for Bahia Kino – west on the beach.  We are lost in town and stopping to ask for help is hard for any man.  Stopping and having Sara ask when I have an RV and there are angry motorists behind me is even harder.   When the RV slips and bumps badly in first gear, I fear for the worst.  We get out of town on the same roads I would have taken without the help.  I have a great sense of direction and geometry – I got lost once in the desert on a dirt bike.  It was terrifying.   Maybe it is less terrifying to people who get lost frequently but I have made sure that it has never happened again.  I may not know where I am or where I am going but lost I am not.  I do have problems with distance.  My map is printed in miles and we are in kilometers.   It is almost twice as far to Bahia Kino as I thought.  The web pages say there are 8 RV parks on the beach.  We finally pass one.  It is painted with pastel colors and has a cabin thing next to each site.   It is obvious that this is out of our price range.  We pass a sign saying Western Horizons.  I have a coupon for them.  I back up and reread the sign: 10.4 miles to the east on a dirt road.   Are they crazy?   Why drive 100 km to the beach only to return for 17?  We see a quaint little park and stop for the night.  I send the family to the beach while I recover my sanity and the RV.

Speaker Trucks

Oh.  About the third time since I started writing this segment the local speaker truck is driving by.  These towns have a population that has no local radio or TV stations and if they do, many homes do not have matching hardware.  To make sure that everyone knows to buy products and go to the fair, the speaker trucks come by loudly announcing products and events.   This has been true of any place I have been in Mexico.   I rarely know what they are saying but it sounds like the same announcer in all of them.   This also reminds me.   The Mexican movies and shows are much more explicit in sex and violence than those in the EEUU.   Not as gory and colorful as Indian/Pakistani movies but along the same lines.   People die more terrible deaths.   Girls wear tighter, smaller outfits.

Barbie Dolls

And another thing.  Mattel has gone off the deep end.  Mattel?  They make Barbie dolls.  They now have lines of nationalistic Barbies.  And there is the competition.  I do not know if they are Mattel but they have similar dolls – some with bigger heads.  Barbie seems to have lost a few or maybe many inches in her bust line since I was a kid.   But I know of zero Mexican niñas that want a Mexican Barbie.  If it is not a gringo Barbie with yellow hair, why bother to call it Barbie?   I even saw a Mattel Barbie family doll set that was middle-aged.  A 5-year-old little girl wants a middle-aged set of dolls to look up to?   I don’t think so.   I tried several Wal-Marts before finding one with gringo Barbies at a low price.  I do not buy the high-priced collectible Barbies (I did for my daughter Bree but no more).

6 May

We leave Bahia Kino (taking the park keys with us -- oops) and head back for Hermosillo.   We stop at the Super Wal-Mart for some more gifts and groceries.  Sara has no more money.  I know where most of it went.  I do not know where the rest of it went.  Wal-Mart accepts my Visa.  I am surprised, as I do not remember telling them that I was going into Mexico.   Maybe all of the purchases at the border towns – at least one challenged – added the Mexico permission.  In any case, I was glad they did as I have just about enough cash to get us back to El Golfo -- hungry.

After getting out of the Wal-Mart with only a single incident, we head toward Yécora.  Incident?  Jonathon drops his giant candy wrapper on the floor.  I yell at him.  Sara tells me to not yell at her son.  He returns for the wrapper but does not throw it into the trash.   We get to the exit and Gordo is missing.  We do not remember the last time we saw him.  We did in the produce section and thought he followed us out.   Oops.   The family takes off looking for him.  After about 10 minutes Gordo comes up with a bottle of wine.  He knows I will not pay for it and heads off looking for his family.   Waiting for them to return is out of the question.  My Spanish will not stop him and he always knows less English when you want him to do anything.   In a few minutes a security guard returns with Jonathon in tow: he want me to pay for the sucker that Jonathon has long ago finished but is carrying around the foil wrapper.   I show the man the receipt but he does not care.  The receipt is in Spanish and abbreviated as they do in English so that they know what you bought and if you are clever can figure out most of what you bought.   I keep talking until Sara returns.   She talks the guard out of repaying for the sucker.  Gordo shows up a few minutes later with a paid-for bottle of wine.   I suspect I now where he got the money.

We head out of town looking for signs for Yécora.  I know that the Wal-Mart is on the proper road but Sara has to ask passers-by anyway.   Now she is angry with me because I did not make it clear that I knew the way.  My Microsoft map program does not give street-by-street of non-USA cities but it still gives main road directions.  In other words, it knows but does not say.  Hmm.   We pass a giant Costco and a large Sam’s Club.  If we had more time, I would have liked to stop at Costco just to show them the store.   But then again, it would have cost more money.  Off to Yécora.

The road starts to wind and the sign says 270 km.   The map program says 6 hours.   I have been told the road is winding and that Yécora has altitude.  The winding is true and is not a problem.   The problem is the combination of heat and grade.  It is always in the near neighborhood of 100°.  The roadway goes straight in many sections – straight up.   We go from sea level to 5,500 feet.   This is not the problem.   The problem is steep:   straight up is straight up.   There are sections where the RV is in low and I feel the transmission slipping and wonder what happens if it just decides to keep slipping.  It did that one time near Puerto Peñasco.  We made a U-Turn and from a stop, it just kept slipping between the shoulder (surprise – there was one) and the asphalt.   I had removed another quart of fluid at Bahia Kino and I think that that helped us today.   But still, slipping is slipping.   I gave the RV a rest for a half hour to cool off.  After that I did not hear slipping but now the high-pitched squeal it makes when shifting gears is frightening.  I think we shall fall of the end of the world on the highway to the sun but I do not think the world ends at 5.500 feet.

We start on the downward side and again meet soldados.   This is a surprise to me as I thought we were finished with soldados.  The road spits and goes to Chihuahua and these guys are looking for drugs.  This is the first time we have had serious inspection – he opens the freezer and all of the fish fall out.

I had spent an hour packing the freezer before we left.   It was totally full and I had removed the plastic shelf pieces.  Nobody else had checked and I had told the family that if they opened it, they could repack it.  Another reason for keeping it closed is that the propane refrigerator does not work while traveling and certainly not at 100°.  He also checked the closet, quested the large monitor and I showed him the Sony laptop.

Earlier at one of the soldado checkpoints, the car in front had given up his peppers.  We had a bag of them we had just bought.  Oh it was the checkpoint just outside of San Luis.   At that checkpoint, the soldado questioned our apples.  Sara convinced him that she needed them for her baby – due in 4 more months.  We kept the apples and he did not look in the other produce bags.  You see why everyone needs a Sara?

We make it to Yécora.   The soldado checkpoint here is only checking in the other direction.  We pull up to her mother’s house.  I have had larger houses on larger lots.   Everyone is overjoyed to see us.   The carpet and the cost of presents are overwhelmed by the love the family shows.  I am accepted and this is great.

Accepted?  I worry because this is another case where my friend is the woman and not the man of the family.  Her mother and sister and brother and their kids all accept me as Sara’s friend.   It is so hard to not hug the woman.   Especially when she stands two feet in front of me looking up with that smile of hers.   Touching her is not part of the deal.

I yelled at Chelito again for dumping wrappers on my carpet – after we cleaned it.  Sara jumps my case – only she is permitted to yell at her children.   If I had the words, I would have told her but in the heat of the moment while explaining pictures to 5 other people in a language with which I have serious problems, I did not want to lose the time for her to get away with the wrapper on the floor.

You see.  I have spent a lot of time with people outside my culture.   I think I understand them: that is I know I do not understand them and I know it.   I try and I like to try but I never fully get there.  I think anyone who has spent this much time within the culture understands me.   Those that just visit the country and see poverty or tourist attraction do not understand.   You have to live with the people.   I met a woman from Nebraska at Bahia Kino.  She claimed to almost live there.  She spoke much less of the language than myself and I think tried much less.   It is an insult to the people of any country to live in the country and not learn the language.   To me this is where the term Ugly American originates.  Yes – I know there is the book.  Some day I may read it.  Visiting or passing through a country does not have this requirement.   When you spend a measurable percentage of your life somewhere, learn the language and the culture.   Otherwise the Yeti has more brains than you do.

Enough for now.  I shall be called for dinner shortly.   I have been invited with the family to a wedding tomorrow  -- and the reception.  As I have said before the Mexicans know how to party.

Oh.  For you who write tourist guides: the road to Yécora has nothing of exceptional beauty and for sure, Yécora does not.   You will not have Sara sitting next to you with her face glowing with expectation of seeing her beloved family.   This makes it all worthwhile but only for me.

8 Mayo

I have spent most of the day in the RV with minor excursions out.  There is a wedding in town today with the fiesta tonight.  The family is good friends with Sara’s.  We are all going.  I made a plaster hand print of Jonathon this morning.   Passable.   The others should be better.   There is so much dirt.   It bothers me but not them.   They wash and wash and wash and accept dirt as part of life.

I am already aware that we are 200 miles up the side of a mountain with no chance for assistance if we have any problems getting down.  People would help but no one has even seen an RV let alone has tire wrenches or tires for such a thing.   Maybe I am just asking for trouble but I am happy that the trip back is mostly down hill.

My niña (Chelito) has pneumonia.   They think it is just a cough but she is sick at night and it seems to go away during the day – except for the cough.

9 Mayo

We went to the Boda (Wedding) last night.   Like I say the Mexicans know how to party.  We arrived (walking) right at the end of the Wedding.  Right now it is hard to write – Sara has just brought in breakfast.   Like most non-USA countries, the woman feeds the man.  In Mexico it is just serving the meal.  Trying to get the woman to sit down and eat at the same time is not only a waste of time, it is insulting.  I am so far succeeding in not having her do my laundry.

The wedding: a typical Catholic wedding mass.   When everyone piled out, pictures were taken and then on to the reception.  The reception was at the town pavilion with a band.   Sara’s mother was involved in the preparations: we have our own table – right next to the speakers for the band.  If my ears recover, it will take a week.  Sara knows everyone.  We take lots of pictures.  They pass out Squirt Soda followed by bottles of Tequila.  Against medical principles, I drink the squirt.   Because I am an alcoholic, I do not drink the Tequila.  Everyone knows I do not drink alcohol or it would have been impossible to turn them down.   The whole town showed up, I think.   I know we took the dog.

By the way, Yécora is an Indian town.   It is integrated with Mexican but the Indian heritage is obvious.  They do not mix.  The Mexicans look down on the Indians.  I do not know the Indian viewpoint.

I remember when Karen in high school was teaching me Spanish dance, the common statement was that after dancing a good tango, the couple should get married.  I think that applies to all dancing today from what I hear on the news or what I saw at the wedding.  I mean I never really took to dancing -- and Karen was very persistent -- but here when you have your entire leg between your partners, there is no problem knowing where the feet go: there are not a whole lot of choices.  I guess this is why women genetically have longer legs than men: when dancing like this, coming out even at the top is almost critical.

We had hot dogs from an outside vendor.   I was amazed.   The hot dog was tiny.   The bun bigger but still small.   The addition of mustard, ketchup, sauce, more sauce, different sauce, onions, and I did not see what else made the thing a whole meal.  Then there were the condiments at the table: peppers, frijoles, guacamole, ...

As much as I try, the language is a serious barrier.   There is also the problem that no does not mean no.  I have stated several times to not use the bathtub.  Sara asks only to wash Chelito’s hair and use minimal water.   She wants it hot.   I try to explain, while the water is running to fill the bath for her daughter that the hot water takes 5 minutes and the bathtub is not to be used since it leaks onto the floor under the tub.  We have been through this more than once.  Telling the kids to leave the RV has the same results: they do not.

Gordo promised yesterday to help me drain the grey water tank.  We shall have serious problems if the black water tank needs draining before we go.   Gordo is gone.   The grey water is now full.   I have no idea how much water is under the tub.  Sara tells me that she and not Gordo will help me drain the grey water tank.   We do this successfully with the standard drain hose, my extra drain hose, twenty feet of rain gutter (I carry this too), and some duct tape.

I do not know which I should do: remain a hermit for the remainder of my life or try to find someone like Sara.   I hope that writing about her is taken as a compliment.  I certainly do not wish to slight Gordo here.  They are a good match considering the culture and neither of them understanding the word no (to them – from them is another matter).   I learned long ago that anything that you say or put into print comes back to haunt you.   I hope that all of this narrative is taken in the best possible light.

The kids fell asleep last night.   Chelito is sick and a friend with a truck, which has a maximum speed of 5 kmh ultimately, gives us a ride home.  We sit on a street corner for 15 minutes wondering where he went but we do get the ride.   Everyone sleeps in the RV because I have a heater and they are concerned about Chelito.   No.  They sleep here because they like it here.

16 May (Happy Birthday Mary Ann Schwinghammer wherever you are)

18 Mayo

We stayed at the Ranch a few days: the ranch has no electricity.  We shined dear one night – the guy has a pistol of some sort, which I think he carried as self defense against marijuana growers.  His weapon for the dear: a 22-long-rifle.   We saw no dear or marijuana growers.  I got my feet wet.

We left for Obregon with Sara’s mother needing to see a doctor known to be in Obregon.  We were stopped at Navajoa by the local police officer as we left town.   I feared the worst but yelled “Sara” as I pulled over and we piled out of the RV.   Sara did the talking and the officer did not even get to asking for names, papers, or licenses.   We piled back in amongst a group of smiles and took off.  I had failed to totally stop at a marked school crossing topes.   It was clearly marked with yellow stripes: no stop sign.

We got to Obregon about 6 pm.   The doctor had gone home for the week at 2 pm.   We drove to the house of Sara’s nephew.  They were glad to see us and offered to let us stay the night except we were in a bad part of town such that the RVs paint might not match in the morning.   They were correct:   11 cars on that street were vandalized that night.  We drove off to Gordo’s father’s home.  I am writing this now from the RV parked next to his house.   The generator just went out so I have little time to finish writing.  We have now waited 3 days for Gordo’s father to come home so that we can visit people and the Wal-Mart.

The first day here I got sick as we took the bus to where Gordo’s father kept the car while working (driving a commuter bus).   When he arrived, they all drove me home again and that was it for everyone that day.   The stress from the drive over the mountain along with something I ate did me in.   To get to the house in the first place was another experience.  We started on a bus that took us halfway.  Before we got to the bus stop, we stopped at Gordo’s sister’s home and talked with her until the bus came.  When we got off the bus I discovered we were hitching the rest of the way.  The problem was we were hitching on a road with no traffic and there were 6 of us.  Sara walked down the hill to a house with a pickup truck.  Five minutes later we were in that truck with a ride to where Gordo’s father and brother kept the bus.   We all had breakfast again.   That is when I got sick and was driven home.

I have seen Gordo’s father once since: stone dead drunk.  I suspect he is in the same condition somewhere tonight.

The End of the Road

Yesterday after waiting again all day for Gordo’s father to return with the car, we took the bus to town.   We should have done it earlier.

I admire Sara greatly.  She is married to the biggest, strongest, handsomest, lazy ox of a husband you will ever find.  Like many such men, he is extremely likable – just dangerous.   Could I marry Sara?   Not while she is married to someone else.   I do not think I am smart enough to recognize such a find if she were staring me in the face.   That is the problem.   I have lived with this family for two weeks.  I spent most of the last three months seeing them daily.  Is she perfect?  I would not know.   There are many women much prettier.   Amy was much prettier.   Any of my girl friends and my wife were prettier.  Sara reeks of sensuality.  Nobody says no to Sara with her big brown cow eyes and mahogany hair.   Maybe she bleaches some strands.   Maybe the sun does.

She has the strongest back and the strongest hands of any woman I have met.  She goes from house to house and takes over.  She cooks, cleans, washes clothes, and talks with every woman in the area while watching all of the kids.  She fell out of the RV yesterday and I would have sent her to the hospital to make sure the baby was OK but she just got up, complained about the pain, and went back to washing clothes.  I really do love Sara -- but.

She makes sure I keep up to spec on Mexican courtesy.   Mexicans are extremely courteous.   It reminds me of when I moved to Boston in 1963.  When the light turns green, the first couple of cars are expected to turn left in front of the other traffic.  This is courteous except that if you are one of these cars and you do not turn left, those who have waited in front of you to do so are angry, let along those behind you.   With all the rush these days, I am sure that that practice has been abandoned.

In any case, when anyone offers you something, you say yes or no and “gracious”.  Always “gracious”.  When you meet someone for the first time in a day, you always, always say “Buenos Dias, Como Esta?”  You do not have to know the person.  I met a man giving us a ride who was introduced knowing I knew little Spanish.  Since he was the senior (he was giving his services), it was my job to speak first.   When I did not, he replied “bien, gracious” indicating that I had missed my “Buenos Dias, Como Esta?”  I immediately overcame this mistake and we shook hands.  He spoke English.

I have real talents in some areas.   I can draw kids better than the Pied Piper.  I stand on a street corner and kids pull away from their parents to stand with me.   Yesterday while waiting for Sara to leave some friends at a taco stand where we had just finished dinner, three 10-year-old (or so) girls lined up and started asking me questions.

Sara’s daughter will find me anywhere.   The two nieces that were here for a few days left today.  11 and 12.   Same thing.   Jonathon is a problem because I do not pay enough attention to him.  If I do not lock the RV, It will fill with kids faster than I can tell them to leave.  I can play with kids at their level and all of us have fun – even if we do not understand one word of conversation.

I give so much money to people who I think need it that I do not have enough for myself.  I really want others to enjoy their lives.  I have a faith in Jesus because of the miracles he has performed in my life.  My faith goes beyond just believing, it is knowing and knowing that my prayers are always answered.   I do not proselytize nor discuss this much.

19 May

We went shopping today at Sam’s Club and then Wal-Mart.  Taking the family to Sam’s Club was a mistake.  They tried to buy enough food to last until Christmas for a three-day trip.  Keeping track of three adults and three kids (I count Gordo as a kid) in a store as large as Sam’s is impossible.  I went with Sara to the front: she went to the bathroom and I went to the service desk to verify that my credit cards were acceptable.  The woman asked a man and he said they were.   This was of concern to me because in the USA, Sam’s Club only accepts Discover.  I had shown them my Platinum Discover Card and my old, green, Visa.   We went back to shopping.   After checking out an hour later, the Discover Card needed to be phoned in and was refused.   I was pissed off at the store and Discover.  Why both?   The man had said the card was good and it was not.  It was the same man whom the woman earlier had called in and had verified the card was good – without calling Discover.  There is no way in Mexico to validate a Discover Card: I had earlier tried the 800 number on the back and gotten a recording saying the number is not available outside the USA.   This is not the same as getting the invalid number recording.  This is Discover saying they won’t pay the 800 long distance charges if you are out of range.

I was also angry at the store because when the checkout clerk got the register message to validate by phone, he called his manager who took the card and made no reference to me but did say something to Gordo’s brother.  I followed this low-level manager to the phone where he saw see me watching, when he finished the call, I accosted him, and he further ignored me in favor of Gordo’s brother.   When he continued to ignore me, I took back the card and proceeded towards the exit.   When we were far enough distant, I called for Sara and called for the store manager.   She explained that the card had been refused and that I did have a card which had been accepted at Wal-Mart in Hermosillo a few days before -- if their man would be gracious enough to deal with me honestly we might complete the sale.

The manager told the man to recheck the groceries and try the new card.  He (the arrogant one – not the original clerk) spent the next ten minutes rechecking the items and then trying the Visa card.  It was accepted and we left.  Sara knows and I know that the anger was at the arrogant store clerk and not Discover.  The remainder of the group did not understand the anger.  You see: I have good credit.  I have maintained as good as possible credit throughout my life since my first Marshal Field’s card 40 years ago.   The Discover Card was platinum not because I have a need for prestige but because I got tired of refusing them.  I tried to verify its use.  I asked the store to be able to talk to Discover when the card was refused.   Not possible.   I tore up the card.   If I am in a good mood, I may call Discover and tell them why I shall never use them again.   I am sure I shall never be in that good of a mood.  This will also seriously reduce my purchases at Sam’s Club since I no longer can charge merchandise there.

When we went across the street to Wal-Mart, the troupe stayed in the RV and only Sara and I went into the store.   The person who thought that a barrel of monkeys was fun has much more patience than me.   She again tried to buy the entire store when supposedly we needed only tortillas (Wal-Mart?) and some produce.   She bought deli hot dogs!   No hot dog is good for you at any price.  The higher the price, the more the waste.  Foo.   We made it home with no major incident except that getting directions from a barrel of monkeys left some hard feelings on both sides.  More than once I pulled off to the side of the road until I got a solid izquierda, derecho, or derecha from all three.

Maybe I just have my hat on backwards but as I see it, I am in dangerous grounds here:

You think that I am laid back and comfortable?

Sometimes I wonder what it means to live on the edge.  Is one person’s edge the middle of the road for someone else?  Do I just let myself get stressed too easily?  I know I get into places that are hard to get out of more often than most but then life would be boring else wise.

Years ago I bought a condo in Mesa, AZ.  The real estate agent thought it would be a good place to retire.  After being in it for a month, I went back to San Jose.  There was no way I could live in a little apartment overlooking a field of cars or just blacktop for the remainder of my life.  It would be difficult just to live in the RV in one spot for the rest of my life if there were not such good friends in the immediate area and I had no other challenges to overcome.

20 May

We head for home tomorrow.  Finally.  I shall miss seeing Sara every couple of hours but I shall be glad to get rid of the rest.  Sara wants me to again drive through downtown Obregon and does not understand that I would rather take the bus.  Driving the RV downtown in any major city is no fun.  On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best (?) city, put Oregon somewhere about 3.

Oops.  Change of plans.  Sara y los niños y yo are going to see Gordo’s aunt.  This is a good friend of Sara’s.  We shall return in the morning.  Gordo is staying here.  I think he senses that I do not like him along but it is sort of like Jonathon:  the more he thinks something the more reinforcing it is.  If I feel distance from him, there is distance.  I would not blame him: after all I look at his wife like she is the only woman on earth.  When there is a problem, I listen only to her.  Etc.  This is the first trip anywhere (other than inside Wal-Mart) that we have gone anywhere together.  He must really not want to see his aunt.  His being along is always her choice.  She knows that I would not attack her but I think there is an appearances thing here.

21 May

We say goodbye to the aunt’s house (I thought it was the father’s) and drive into Obregon.  We say good-bye to the brother as he heads off to class.  We drive to the primo’s house and sit down for a chat.  Her mother shows up.  It is a couple of hours earlier than expected.  Everyone chats for a while I take a nap.  We are off.  I had told both Sara and Gordo before we left that I did not intend to drive around Central Obregon to get her to the doctor.

We all pile into the RV and it is obvious I am to deliver the mother to the doctor.  Dead in the center of town.  I am pissed.  I would have gladly ridden the bus into town and returned on the bus to the RV.  Worse.  Sara sits in the navigator’s seat and gives me no help at all.  She is too busy talking with her mother.  Gordo pops up now and then with a direction.  We are in the center of town when we let her mother off.  Everyone feels the tension – I am really angry.  They are angry with me.  We make it out of town with no incident.  We make it to San Carlos with only the problem of getting lost in Guaymas while searching for a park.

San Carlos

We get to San Carlos and I pull into a park.  It has lousy conditions, 20-amp service and costs $22/night.  San Carlos is a real tourist trap.  Why anyone would come here rather than El Golfo is beyond me -- but they do.  I mean real estate agency signs everywhere.  Police everywhere.  Rich houses on the beach.  A beach wall to keep non-paying strangers from enjoying the sights.  The works.  I skip dinner.  They huddle off to somewhere.  I think the beach.  I am sleeping when they return.  This is a really bad way to end this trip but I am owed at least an apology.  I walked on water for her yesterday by driving, without help, through that city and all I got was a foot in the door when I tried to come back in from hooking up the RV.

22 May

We got up this morning still angry at each other.  As I learned it, the person who feels injured is the one to take the initiative.  I did so and our first lovers quarrel was soon over.  We are not lovers but at least the strength of my emotion will make it easier to treat this as a lovers quarrel than anything else.

It will be a long day: we plan on spending the night in Santa Ana if we get there late, otherwise dog it through to El Golfo.  We get there early and I listen to Gordo about the distance (he forgets to count half of it and he is looking at a mileage chart and not a kilometer chart).  The day just lengthened.

Mr. Golden Hair

We approach one of the soldado checkpoints.  This is going to be long wait.  There are 6 lanes but the leftmost four are for semi’s.  The right two are for cars and then autobuses.  This presents a minor problem as we are for at least toll purposes -- and we are on a toll road -- an autobus.  We pull to the rightmost lane and cars shoot past us in the left of the two.  As at most places, there are a couple of women collecting for the Mexican Red Cross.  You see this at anyplace people are required to stop in line.  The one of these is very attractive and well endowed.  I toss in our spare coins: about 30 cents worth.  She does not add another little decal on our windshield indicating that we are suckers (We have two already).  I do enjoy looking down at her.  In an RV you are always looking down.  She tells us that we are in the wrong lane.  She does not speak English and I am slow so Gordo fills in that I should move to the left.  The soldados are waiting up ahead.  I pull to the left but the Mexican car lanes are barely wide enough for a car.  An RV might make it but two RVs or, in this case, an RV and a bus will cause at best the loss of some mirrors.  In this case, I had about half a meter on my left with a two-foot curb.  On my right, if the bus backed up I would lose my mirror.  I was sort of stuck with no maneuvering room.  The girls said move forward but she was on the left with no perception of distance on the right.  Sara was in the middle translating and Gordo was closely watching the mirror.  The soldados were waiting.

At this point a man who looked like he had just escaped the air conditioning of a Palm Beach board of directors meeting walked up and suggested he could help.  In English.  I mean he a golden, slicked back hair precisely cut and groomed.  He had on one of the 50% cotton and 50% polyester polo shirts with his club emblem sewn into the fabric.  He was as fit as a jailai player and he told me that I was rudely holding up 5 cars.  He would gladly help me back up off to the right so that I could be fairer about this and let these poor, waiting cars go ahead of me.  I replied, pointing at my right mirror: “no puedo”.  Sara said something in Spanish.  The soldados saw the problem and had the buses in front of me squeeze together.  I had room.  The man was explaining again how unfair I was to make him wait almost 5 minutes in his air-conditioned car when he had places to go and people to see and it was hot.  I knew it was hot; I never run the RV AC until it is about 10 degrees hotter.  The bus moved about a foot but that was enough.  We moved slowly ahead edging closer to that darn curb.  As we left, this man was patiently explaining to the Red Cross woman how rude I was to make him and the other cars wait.  The woman did not understand a word of English.  She just smiled.  The soldados asked the usual: where are you from?  Where are you going?  Other soldados had cleared an inspection spot for us off to the right.  The first soldado waved us through: he wanted his line to go away and he had better bait to inspect: the golden-haired man (soldados hate people making a fuss in line).  We were off – he told us to skip the other inspection line.  I expected some California car to pass us honking its horn.  No such car did within the next hour.  I think he must have gotten inspected.  Seriously inspected.  We passed two accidents in the next hour and forgot about this vagrant board member.

We kept the tip

I have to get this down line by line or it will be missed.  As we were driving west from Santa Ana toward Sonoita it became clear that we needed a place to stay for the night – and it may not be orthodox.  I suggested that we spend the night in an open Pemex (pronounced “Pay” “Mex”) and that when we got there, Sara exit with me rather than Gordo and she would ask the attendant if we could spend the night in their lot.  I see a lot of semi’s doing this and somewhere I read on a web page that this is a spot of last resort.  I made a couple of other suggestions in play but this was the plan.

We got to Sonoyta at the Pemex station located right where the highway splits off to get to the USA at Lukeville.  There is a very large section behind the station with Semi’s parked within.  This is a very busy Pemex as it is right on the major route from Arizona to Puerto Peñasco.  We pulled into the station from the south.  There are three lines of pumps creating six lines of traffic.  In an organized station this would mean three in each direction or all six in one direction.  No such luck: it was random fill.  My RV has to be in a lane with the pumps on the left side as the RV is so wide coming in on the long side means an exact stop or the hose will not make it to the fill under the license plate.  Row number two from the left seemed like a good match.  The car nearest us was in the right direction and just about to leave.   We pulled in behind him.  He zigged out frontward between the lanes.  We pulled into where he had been and waited.  I could not fill from this pump as I was right next to it and we had another 7 meters before the rear of the RV lined up with the pump but I did not want someone else scooting into where we had to go.  The car now in front of us had its hood up, facing us, and was obviously finished pumping gas.  Behind him there was another car facing us – waiting his turn.  I saw him as the only potential problem:  this could end up a true Mexican standoff but we had no place to go and I have learned to outwait the most obstinate of drivers wanting to go the other way.  This rear car figured discretion was the better part of valor and changed lanes.  The car with its hood up took it down, backed up, and drove away.  This gave me the entire row and I immediately pulled forward so that the rear lined up with the second set of pumps.

More of a surprise was that the Pemex attendant stood in place and told me when to stop.  This was great.  I have learned to guess pretty well and with any attendant, the guess is right on.  With an attendant who knew what he was doing, this was a gift from God.  By the time I stopped, Gordo was out.  Gordo has taken it upon himself on this trip to watch the Pemex attendants for me to make sure they zero the pump, use the correct gas, and to not start before I arrive.  The pumps now zero themselves so that is no longer a problem.  I have not seen the other two as problems but Gordo being there makes sure there is no problem and I am always glad to not have him underfoot.  This time I had asked him to stay behind and let Sara talk:  it is not possible to tell Gordo what to do.  As I am about to exit, Sara asks if she has to ask about spending the night.  She obviously does not want to do this so I tell her no and we shall figure something out shortly.

So I walk up about the same time the attendant has taken off the gas cover cap.  Gordo is looking on and I tell the attendant that I want 400 pesos of regular.  The attendant programs the pump to do this then heads to the other side of the pumps to start the car on that side.  Now here is where the story starts.  About the time the attendant turns away, Sara hops up and stands in front of Gordo.  Sara as we have discussed earlier is six months pregnant and mostly resembles a large bowling ball with arms and legs.  This is not a fair description because she has this inherent beauty and to whom I have not seen any man be able to say no.  I mean she is 28 and looks a few years older – she is not an innocent beauty queen.  She is strong as an ox, looks like she could lift more than you can and does this with a set of hands and arms that are so full of love and caring that you want to melt.

Sara is wearing the pajamas I bought her for the trip.  This means that she has on a low-cut, rosetta top with spaghetti straps and a pair of what should be loose-fitting, fluffy material, pajama bottoms.  They are not loose fitting because she is so very pregnant.  In addition to this she has her hands behind her back with a silk window sash cord and has stretched a 6-inch piece of duct tape across her mouth.  She looks like she has just escaped from someone’s sex pen.  She just stood there looking around.  Gordo again is about 6-foot with the typical Mexican mustache but looks more like a body-builder and is about the same age as Sara.  Gordo maintains his aloof stance as if she were not there.  I am sixty, sweaty, and look I just walked out of the local sex supply store and am gawking at her and looking around to see who is watching.

The attendant took one look at Sara and was gone.  Not gone away.  Just gone:  he stayed about 10 meters from us.  He mostly hid behind the pumps and watched, moved to behind another pump and watched some more.  At the programmed 400 pesos the pump stopped.  The attendant did not approach: he had jumped to behind another pump.  Sara just stood there looking around with that tape across her face.  Gordo put the hose back on the pump.  The attendant had moved the other way.  I capped the tank and held up the $1 tip.  We found him looking over some other men:  he would not approach.  Sara took off the tape and the three of us yelled “gratious” back to the attendant as we got in the RV and drove away.  For the next fifteen minutes I watched for police out the rear view mirror and for the next two hours sat and chortled to myself.  Sara was amused but she did not think what she did was so funny that I should still be laughing two hours later.  I shall still be laughing two years later.  You wonder why I love this woman?

23 May (Happy Birthday, Carole)

We made it back last night.  It is 7 am and I am tired.  We drove 550 miles yesterday in temperatures around 100F.  We saw 3 major accidents, had our fun at the Pemex station, had a Pizza Hut pizza (disgusting!), and said goodnight at about 10 pm.  The kids were cranky from being in the car for 14 hours straight.  I headed for the CRA Park – lucky me – the gate was open.  I pulled into an empty slot, said good evening to the night watchman, told him I would talk to Patricio in the morning, and fell asleep.  There was no need to wake up an audience.

The great adventure for this year is over.  I have seen so much.  I have learned so much.  I can now hold an easy Spanish conversation with an adult.  Maybe children next year.  Not a chance with the soldados for a couple of years.

I have lived with a family of four that if their behavior were malevolent would be considered vandals.  Everything breakable is broken.  Money wasted.  Food wasted.  All of the things that upset me in life I experienced this last month and tried really hard to keep my mouth shut.  I was not very successful.

I lived with their extended families and tried to handle them well.  I have not seen so much love in my life as I saw aimed at Sara this last month.   Everywhere there were shouts of “Sara” and welcoming hugs.  Gordo would yell out the window as we passed his friends.

I lived for a month where a “Good Morning.  How are you?” in English was as much English as anyone knew.  I tried it once.  I really did.  I responded “I died in my sleep last night”.  This got a “good” and we went back to Spanish.

At the end of this week, I head up to Yosemite to see Atis and family.  During this week, I buy parts for things that do not work and do a lot of cleaning.  My proposed route is through: Yuma, San Bernardino, Lancaster (TTN), Fresno (Costco-gas), Coarsegold (>Escapees>), Yosemite (TTN).  I figure I shall drive the RV to Coarsegold and drive only the car to Yosemite.  I see no reason to drag the car behind the RV up those mountains.  I need an air mattress, an ice chest, and some portable food.  I think I have the rest.

I have been cleaning all day and have another day to go.  Saturday I leave El Golfo and head only as far as Yuma.  El Centro is more on my way but the gas in Yuma is $2.12 and I figure gas in El Centro is $2.40.  28 cents times 75 gallons is a lot of money.  I get to stay at the >Escapee’s> Park in Yuma whereas if I went out by El Centro, I would spend the night on the streets.  I know that I shall get a late start on Saturday.

I have had a few days to reflect on the trip.  I stand by my decision to categorically stop looking for a partner.  It will not happen and to think that some level of trying will make a difference implies a low level of intelligence on my part and a lot more pain.  It is sort of like wishing I had grown up in a real family: all of the rethinking and hoping will not make it true.

I really love Sara but I think that we could not live together.  Even if she were available – and she definitely is not -- she is better than I could live with and that would cause problems.  And I have had two, well behaved, children – her two children are vandals-in-waiting and I could not afford the mental anguish of constant repair.

So, I miss them but I enjoy the sanity of having four walls with nobody else on the inside.  I miss the occasional hug already but I know that that will pass rapidly.  It will take months to get everything at least as good as it was.

I do not want to leave El Golfo.  I need to make plans on how to live here.  Sara still wants me to be the godfather of her baby boy in September.  Gordo does not.  She wins this one but circumstances may interfere.  Maybe I shall force circumstances to interfere.  I have to find out what it means to be godfather.  I shall ask Pat in the morning or maybe Jan next week.

Sara raids my belongings one more time and cajoles an extra 200 pesos from me.  I mean all together they have about $200 of my things and money that I begrudge them.   This is in excess of the $300 worth of stuff that I do not begrudge them.  I can afford that – what I cannot afford is them knowing that I am a patsy.  Next time I visit, I shall be expected to donate more.  I am missing my umbrella and a flashlight that I know I did not give them.  I hedge on giving them food but it is not possible for me to say no to food.  Too many of their meals consist solely of frijoles; sometimes frijoles and rice.  Sara really does need the vitamins for the baby.  She gained on kilo this month: her sixth month.  That is not very much.  I have never seen her sit for more than five minutes.  They tell American women to walk a mile everyday when they are pregnant.  Sara has walked a mile before breakfast just doing chores.

They tell me not to wait for his mom and Mateo on the trip to San Luis.  They had set up a blind date for me and are upset because I do not expect to spend multiple days with her.  I understand their frustration but I cannot handle a multi-night date as a first date.  They do not all wave good-bye as I leave.

I make it to Yuma and spend the night dry-camped at the >Escapee’s> Park.  No trouble with customs this time.  I still have to turn in my papers to the Mexico bank but I do not see one in San Luis and I think they are closed tomorrow.

Sunday I drive into town and go shopping.  Then off to El Centro to complete my shopping: $300 total.  Costco will be closed tomorrow, Memorial Day, so I stop for gas at Banning (Sam’s Club) and head to the Thousand Trails at Soledad Canyon.  Two nights:  I am really tired and I have allowed an extra day for this trip.  This means I spend the holiday itself parked safely where the crazy drivers cannot get to me.

Monday and I see the park starting to empty.  This park is mostly a refuge for Los Angeles area people to escape for such weekends.  There are more kids than mosquitoes in Florida.

JUNE

The first week of June is traveling to Yosemite to see Atis and family.  They told me where they would be.  They know where I shall be.  Our cell phones will not work there so I hope they will look for me: they are more mobile than me.

Atis, Jan, Julia, and Eric’s family and I spent a few days seeing Yosemite.  Their first visit.  Yosemite is a truly amazing place and everyone should see it.  If you live in this country and have not seen it, you have no excuse – people travel around the world to visit San Francisco and Yosemite.

I stayed at the Yosemite Lakes TTN in a tent for a few days while the RV was boondocked in the Escapee’s Coarsegold RV Park.  I stayed in the park a few extra days.  This Escapee park is by far the most beautiful and interesting of any of the Escapee parks I have seen.  Unlike Benson here are no houses on the sites.  Unlike Yuma (and others) there are no Park Models on sites.  Each site is separately landscaped and terrained.  The clubhouse is large and comfortable and always has friends in it.

Now I am in San Jose (Morgan Hill TTN) to visit my doctors and money and daughter.  I am looking forward to seeing Megan.

22 June

I spent two weeks in the Morgan Hill TTN.  Saw Megan, ran errands, saw the doctors.  Nothing wrong but I must see the urologist (previous infections) and the dermatologist (basil-cell things).

I have returned to the >Escapee’s> Park outside of Yosemite.  This time I can relax and enjoy the park.

I miss my Mexican family.  I bitched a lot but what it comes down to is I miss having people around me.  I am not a hermit -- I just live like one.  I think I shall get back there in about 5 weeks.  Maybe not to stay but to visit.  5 weeks puts me into the beginning of August.  Major heat and humidity in Mexico.

I have my new DirecWay.  It works but I am disappointed in the speed.  It is nothing like a local Wi-Fi.  Upload speeds are slow and download speeds start at dial-up speeds and go up randomly.  But I am now online all of the time when I am in the RV.

JULY

The dermatologist has three things to remove and will not see me until the 13th and then return on the 27th.  I have to scramble as my two weeks are up on the 11th.  I take advantage of the 4-day rule and after 4 days go to San Benito and return to Morgan Hill 4 days after that.  Now I can leave Morgan Hill on the 20th.  I do not know what to do about the 27th.  We shall see.

Finally although I have things to do I am bored.  It is sort of nice to be bored.  I get to fix the little things that I have been putting off.  Now I can play my Spanish CD’s and adjust the headlamps, and …

I notice that the local Costco does not have its usual reverse osmosis unit.  I need one before I return to Mexico.  I shall search the other Costco’s Tuesday morning when I go to the dermatologist.  I also need to buy the mainframe computer.  I get so tired of the SONY laptop crashing.  I also need to figure out how to live in Mexico permanently.  That is the reason for the RO unit and the mainframe and the DirecWay.  I miss my friends.

21 July

I am back in El Golfo.  This is as close as I will ever have to home.  I drive into town and someone waves.  I hope they know it is me and not just someone to buy clams.  Friends meet me at the gate and come by while I am setting up.  I visit my family.  They all rush to see me.  We are so happy together.  I deliver my presents and have dinner and we talk.

I go back home and set up my Internet dish.  TV can wait another day.  I hate this heat and humidity.  At Gordo’s house, they have a giant shade screen and their new home is on the beach – nice cool breeze.  They are caretakers of a nice hacienda.  Goats, chickens, peacocks.  Interesting.  This is a really great place –and very hidden.  The RV would never make it here.

Oops. Jonathan has a big mark on his forehead, Sara has medicine for that -- but Sara showed me a mark on Chelito’s arm.  Ringworm.  My soul turned cold.  I remember ringworm.  Medication is better today.  Tomorrow we take Sara and Chelito to the doctor.  Sara for her monthly checkup.  Baby is due in six weeks.  They say seven but August 31st is six weeks away on my calendar.  Padrino?  I am still not sure that that works.

AUGUST

I am back in El Golfo.  I have arranged to stay in El Golfo indefinitely.  Friends come and go.  I do not think Padrino is an issue any more.  If I can stay here for the season with no more major expenses I think my economics will straighten out by year-end.

More goes here but it was lost in the SONY failure (below).

SEPTEMBER

This has been an eventful week and I have some perspectives to add also.

Sara’s baby arrived.  I got the call at 4:30 am and we drove to San Luis with her mother as Gordo packed up the kids, took them to his mother’s and caught the bus.  Sara was in no hurry so meeting Gordo at the bus stop was no problem.  We went to lunch at KFC and then bought an umbilical clip for the baby.  This is a little clip sort of like a hair barrette with a more secure catch and serious teeth to hold it in place.  I men the hospital could order these by the thousands and put them in a box and save everyone a lot of hassle and money.

But this is the difference between the state hospitals and the US hospitals –- state or otherwise.  This hospital had 6 beds in a room.  The building was the size of a small elementary school.  There were 6 beds in Sara’s room – all full.  Sara had no gynecologist that she selected 9 months before.  It is an assembly line process and whatever doctor is available handles the delivery.  Friends, fathers and family stay outside from the time the woman enters until she is able to receive company.  When we entered in the morning, 5 other women were also waiting for their babies.  The waiting is done in the lobby or wherever since the charge clock starts when the woman starts delivering. The total cost is a couple hundred dollars but this amount is prohibitive for many Mexicans.  Sara and Gordo will be paying for this for the next several months.  When the bill is paid, the baby gets its papers – birth certificate.  It is not unsanitary but it is not the brilliant stainless steel and white tiles that you see in the USA.  The paint on the walls is patchy.  We brought lots of food while waiting.  Mostly bread and liquid.  Sara did a great job – no serious difficulties but it took a longer time than hoped for.  The baby was born at 9:30 pm.

In the middle, I drove Gordo and her mother back to El Golfo for the night.  The next morning, Sara’s mother hitched a ride to San Luis and I drove Gordo.  We waited for visiting hours and I took off for El Centro.

My Malevolent SONY

El Centro?  My SONY.  My stupid (euphemism) SONY VAIO had died.  I wanted to go back to Yuma and buy the $600 dollar PC at Sam’s Club but I needed to get back to the hospital for the afternoon visiting hour.  Sara was waiting with the baby.  She was out less than a day after entering.  This reduced her costs.  They were waiting for me for four hours.  This at least put her resting in the hospital a little longer.   They would have preferred her staying another night because of her exhaustion but that would have cost a couple hundred more dollars.  We drove to the grocery store for lunch and then took her mother to the bus station for her ride back to Yécora.  The four of us (baby) rode home to El Golfo.

The next day I drove back to Yuma and bought the Compaq Computer for $600.  In any case I have spent the day setting up the Compaq and adding software.  I need new copies of programs and have emailed vendors for my old codes.  If I can recover the D: drive, I shall have the codes but that is unlikely and also a month away.  I am sort of shell-shocked from this loss.  I am too pissed off to be depressed but that will happen if the D: drive is gone.  All of my pictures for the last year are gone.  The photos of our trip to Yécora are gone.  Sara will be really angry with me for that.  I had not even gotten printed copies for her of all of them.

Thoughts on Language

During repair/replacement process of going from my malevolent SONY to my new Compaq, I discovered that my ISP had disabled most of my email addresses.  Apparently they did this after I had complained about the quantity of SPAM that was being mis-routed by their SPAM Assassin program.  So much for out-of-country English speakers.  The problem here is that for at last the last month, email sent to me directly rather than replied to has been lost or returned to sender.  I do not know which.   If you sent mail and had it returned or not replied to, please do not think I am ignoring you.  I really need to hear from my friends. 

Last week I had to inform my Mexican family that I had lost ALL of the photos of our trip to Yécora this last spring.  I get to tell them today that Quetek has saved my life.  I mean lost were pictures of relatives not seen for years, children, homes, ALL valuable to people who rarely get to have such prizes.  When I had told them, I almost cried, they just looked at me like I was a criminal to trust such things to high-tech.  I think SONY will always have a bitter taste to them also -- during the trip they had had to wait many times for reboot of Windows to see their pictures.

Return to Yécora

MY friend Gordo has lost his home.  When I returned this summer to El Golfo my family had moved from their hut to a nice ranch on the beach.  This ranch was the first home in El Golfo.  It sits on a hill covered with trees.  They are the caretakers of the home.  They live in an add-on in the rear of the house.  Their patrona lives in Los Angeles and returns infrequently.  The Labor Day holiday ended all of this.  I presumed that there was a problem here as the woman had gone through multiple caretakers and my friends are vulnerable.  She first shouted them down in front of about 10 families that had moved in for the holiday.  She then returned full of apologies – solely to get them to continue working until she found a replacement.  She returned this week to tell them that they would not be paid for their work and for them to get out fast.  My friends returned to Yécora today.  I shall try to visit them but this chapter of my life will close soon.

I am trying to figure out a realistic schedule to visit them.  Next week I go to San Jose for my quarterly medical checkup.  By the middle of October, I must have the hot spot set up for the park.  It looks like the last week of September will be spent setting up the hot spot and the following week going to Yécora.  Got to talk to my padron for this.

Now it is the week of the 26th.  The trip to San Jose was uneventful.  Megan has more problems with her ankle.  The doctors were nominal.  I met a young woman on the bus and had an adventure trying to track her down in San Luis the following Saturday.  I found her house but she was shopping and I had to make my bus to EL Golfo or figure out how to spend the night.  I have to wait for my hardware to show up for the hot-spot.  I also have a lot of recovery work to do yet.  The SONY will ever be a bad problem in my life.  I hate junk.

Four hurricanes have hit Florida.  With all that water you would hope the meanness would wash out but I have learned that meanness does not wash out.  Sad.  The one thing I will always remember about Palm Beach is that they were always trying to kill me and I took it personally and others thought it was a joke.

It looks like my worst nightmare will come true: Bush will have a second term.  More tax cuts yesterday.  I wonder how much my taxes will go up this time.

OCTOBER

The members start showing up in the El Golfo park.  I make new friends.  The hot spot office must be set up.

The End of this Log

I am tired.  I tried to make this log an inspirational regale of my travels.  Instead it has become more of a bitch box of problems that do not go away.  This entry shall be somewhat longer but it is the last until I can find something that is more pleasant.

My Ex-Wife

A couple of months ago I took a big jump and asked my ex-wife to help with the personal history. This was a serious mistake.  Over the years I have let her hostility towards my life scar over.  She just re-opened all of the old wounds.  Instead of helping and contributing, she just complained about what I had written.  As a result I shall remove my personal history from public domain and make it only available to persons who ask.  Now I understand why living with her for 10 years put me into constant, serious depression.  Some people just like to make trouble and I make a point generally of avoiding them.  That is one road I do not want to travel again.

Trip to San Jose

I took the bus to San Luis, another to Yuma, rented a car and drove to Berkeley to spend a week with Megan and perform my quarterly visit to my doctors.  I saw the doctors and Megan and returned to Yuma, San Luis, and El Golfo.  The doctors gave me a clean bill of health.

This was an interesting sequence.  I met a very beautiful young woman, Lupita, in San Luis on the bus to Yuma.  We enjoyed each other for a half hour on the ride and exchanged addresses and phone numbers.  She told me to call.  I spent the week trying to call.  The number she gave me was a cell number in San Luis.  I did not understand the recording that I did not understand except the ending saying that I should call later.  When I returned the rental car and dropped into San Luis, I had 5 hours to kill.  I took the pasera to the address she gave me.  This was an adventure for me.  Why?  A pasera is a cross between a bus and a taxi.  It has a route but strays for letting some people off.  It also has a very circuitous route.  It remained close to Calle 4A but the zigzags basically got me lost.  I had asked a woman at the stop if she knew the streets and she said they were close to her house.  By the end of the ride she had found some young men who knew the house Lupita lived in.  She was not home.  Her nephew was and did not know when she would return.  A neighbor let me stay in his cooler house and watch TV while I waited.  After a few hours, I need to get back to the bus stop.  The bus to San Luis.  I now had to find a stop for the pasera.  I looked for tracks in the sand and found where I thought it must be.  This is the very southern limit of San Luis.  I can see the open desert a few streets down.  There are some teenage girls playing lotteria and I ask them.  This is indeed the street for the pasera.  I wait.  It goes the other way and I can see it stopped for the return.  This is great but the return seems to be forever.  The girls start a new game: they decide to remove the skirt of one of them with lots of yells and giggles.  So I got to see some teenage skin and panties and smiles.  Interesting game.  I crossed to the other side of the street.  They started a new game of lotteria.  When the pasera came, we waved at each other.  I took the bus back to El Golfo.

The next day I drove back to San Luis.  I found the house quickly and again found Lupita not home.  The nephew called and she would be back at 7 pm.  I went to Yuma and then returned in time for our date.  She was not there and would not be back that night.  I returned to El Golfo.  That week I related my sequence to Liz, a woman here at the park.  She called and sure enough, I got to talk to Lupita.  11 the following Sunday.  I could do that.

In the meantime, my friends want me to see a woman friend of theirs, also in San Luis.  So I go with them on Saturday and meet Maria x.  I have some errands to run in Yuma: I go to the Yuma airport to see if anyone turned in the power supply to my SONY.  I lost it on the trip and think it fell under the front seat of the car.  I take a chance and park in the rental return lot and walk rapidly to Budget.  No Luck.  I return to meet Maria and am about an hour late – but she see me.  She seems a nice woman.  Dressed a little formally for my tastes.  I always wear what I used to call the Peace Corp Uniform: T-shirt, shorts, and sandals.  I feel out of place but the conversation goes well.  At least as well as my Spanish can take me.  The others show up and we go to KFC.

I do not know why but the Mexicans think that KFC is a treat.  I go to KFC a couple times a year when I can find no Popeye’s (except Yuma) and I am tired of hamburgers.  Sorry – it is no treat.  They also bought Pepsi – my favorite soda but since I became diabetic, it is not on my list of potables.  And they all know it.  They bought the girl, Lupita, a hamburger and soda, but no consideration for me – and I paid half.  I know: bitch, bitch, bitch.  But that is how I felt.  We returned to Marie x’s sister’s house.  She asked when I could return.  This was a good sign and I explained that I would be in town the next day to visit other friends (but I did not think I could see her on that trip) and then I would be available the next week unless I went to Yécora.  I drove back to San Luis.

Sunday.  I drive to San Luis.  Lupita’s house is not far from Maria’s.  I wait until eleven and knock at the gate.  The nephew says she is not there.  I try to call: same results:  a message to call back later.  He does not know when she will return.  I explain that this is the fourth time the second with a date, and she is not home.  This is the last time.  Sorry.  I think I have been had.  But then the last woman I thought was pretty and available was a high-priced hooker.

I drove from Lupita’s to Maria’s.  I do not know the protocol.  I mean houses here have fences all of the way around.  How do you knock on the door?  I mean at Lupita’s house, the house is set back so far from the fence that I would not know what to do if the nephew were not always around the front on the outside.  But here at Maria’s the house is just out of reach of a long stretch to the front door.  The gate is latched but not locked.  I unlatch it and knock on the door.  Maria answers and seems very unhappy to see me.  I can understand this:  I have no date and she is more formal than me.  I back out and re-latch the gate.  I get no help with this and I am sort of put off.  Probably not her fault but I have no other place to go but back to El Golfo with nothing forward to look forward to.

This is the last straw: I decide to head off to Yécora – Tuesday.  Mateo is supposed to repay the loan on Monday.  He does not.  I ride to Yuma with Teresa on Tuesday , borrow some money on a credit card, buy some birthday presents for Chelito (and the others) and head back to San Luis.  I bus back to San Luis and head for the bus station for Hermasillo.  Since I do not know where it is, I have to ask.  Easy.  I also buy some pesos.  I find there are three bus lines to Hermisillo.  I take the one that leaves next.  No one tells me about the senior discount.  The bus leaves in 20 minutes and I am off.  I get to Hermissillo about 3 in the morning and look for the Yécora bus central.  No problem.  I wait 4 hours for the first bus of the day.  I lose my book when getting on the bus but otherwise it is off to the road to the sun (I named it that on the last trip in the RV).  The next problem: I do not quire remember how to get to Amalia’s house from downtown Yécora.  Not a problem: I see the hospital and ask to get off.  I walked to the hospital once with Sara on the first trip.

Remember that I have a 40-pound pack --  walking with no purpose is expensive on knee wear.  I walk to where I think the house should be and do not see it.  I walk another block and ask.  The woman jumps for joy: Sara is waiting for me.  Hmmm.  I told no one here that I was coming.  They walk me back a block.  There is a brick addition that is half-finished blocking the view of the house as I had approached it.  Lame excuse.  Jonathon is at the door.  I yell.  He runs around and gets the others.  It is nice to have such a welcome.

I pass out the gifts -- which all quickly disappear.  Sara collects them and hides them.  Chelito’s presents are saved for the party.  It is Wednesday and her birthday was Tuesday but there was no party – there is no cake.  I do not know where the other presents went.

I plan to spend a week and leave the following Tuesday.  I actually leave on Monday but the week goes fast and I enjoy the company.  I have never asked Sara for more than a hug but even just a hug is out of her range except for a quick hello or goodbye.  I use up all of the money I brought (except for bus fare home).  They want me back next month but I do not know if I can.  But then Sara wants more diapers and they beg my gloves from me.  I part with them reluctantly since they are Head skiing gloves and I do not know how to replace them inexpensively.  Megan is correct: Sara is one of the most manipulative women that I have ever met.  She also just smiles when I ask her not to smoke.  Sad but I have learned that you cannot change people and trying to just causes everyone frustration.

I return to San Luis on the buses – asking for senior discount this time.  Senior discount is 50%.  Now I am in San Luis at 5 am and do not want to wait 4 to 5 hours for the El Golfo bus.  I take the 57 bus to the turn and hitch hike.  Good choice as I get to El Golfo 3 hours early and the only expense is the loss of my cheap glasses and my sunglasses in the car.

There are plenty of people in the RV park now.  I mean like 20 RVs show up this week.  I know moist of them.  Thye all speak only English.  Mateo has lost his job with Z-Gas and the family will move to San Luis at month end when he finds a job.  There are no jobs here.  Lupita is out of school: the teacher for her grade quit and they have found no replacement.  The load shall not be repaid.  But then that is the next thing to talk about.  I spend a few days talking to the newcomers and in the bar.  I want to go back to Yécora.  I am not a social, group, clubhouse person.  Megan is again correct: I have never been socialized.

I have more problems setting up my local network.  That must be done as it is why I have had cheap rent for the year.

This is now and the end of my History.

Things I have learned

Loans

When I was in college.  Let me restate that.  When I left Chrysler to return to college for one semester, I had very little money.  The last paycheck covered my tuition, books, and first month’s rent.  I looked for a job and found one.  A good one but that is another story.  I needed more money.  My friends, Steve, Gary, and Bill Davis (Yes, Bill – I remember), loaned me money.  I also sent back my gasoline credit cards as I was now unemployed.  One sent it back saying that I should use it, interest free, until I could pay for the gas again.  Those were simpler days and people had more integrity.  This is sad to me because I really do not like to think that people have gotten worse.  They have – or at least those I know have.

I loaned my investment partner money to bail out the investment.  That was ten years ago.  No word if any money from the loan or the investment will ever be seen again.

I loaned my daughter money to repay her credit cards when she got divorced.  She paid back infrequent, token payments for a while and than decided that I was a bad father and decided it was easier to tell me to get out of her life than to repay her debts.

Any money loaned to any Mexican that I know has not been repaid.  I take that back: Mateo repaid the first loan to him – on time.

I think that personal integrity has been lost along with many other qualities in my lifetime.  No more loans to anyone – I cannot afford them either for the money or for the disappointment in my choice of friends.

Women

Where do I start?  Megan is again right:  I chose manipulative women.  That is true from Mary Ann to Sara and includes my ex-wife and Amy and anyone else.  Not their fault.  It reminds me of the story of the frog and the scorpion.  This is not to say anything bad about women.  I just have made poor choices.  As you know, my life has been full of poor choices.

Frog and Scorpion

Once upon a time, a scorpion came upon a pond that he could not walk around due to the marshes and streams.  He asked a sunbathing frog to give him a ride across the pond.  The frog declined, saying “You will sting me and I shall die”.  The scorpion insisted he would not sting the frog so persuasively that the frog finally agreed to swim the pond with the scorpion on his back.  Just as they arrived at the other side, the scorpion stung the frog.  The dieing frog asked “Why?” as he lay dieing.  The scorpion replied “Because that is what scorpions do – that is my nature”. 

Money

When I retired, I laid out a spreadsheet of my income and expenses.  This included a 6% return on my money (I was earning about 15% when I retired).  It included my pension money, my 401k, and my IRAs.  This came to about $750K.  I looked at Social Security and my company-paid insurance.  I covered all of my expenses as I had spent 10 years using Quicken ad religiously categorizing all of my expenses.  I printed out graphs, bar and circle.  I had it all down.  I added 10% and decided that I could live with $2,000 per month and feel rich.

I was really wrong.  I loaned my daughter money from my retirement money.  My choice of brokers was poor: he lost 1/3 of my money in two years.  My investments went to about 6% of what was left (the Bush recession hurt me badly).  My expenses were more than twice what I expected after the RV was stolen and I had to replace all of my belongings.

So.  When you plan retirement and you set up graphs and charts, do not add 10%.  Double the amount you compute and make sure that you have an honest broker.

My urologist made the comment to me (as sort of a joke): “God has a plan for all of us – or maybe I should not say that”.  My response: was “from my doctor that is OK – but not from my investment broker”.  He choked down a laugh as he looked back at me.  My investment broker who lost all of my money was a born-again Christian.  I have learned to never trust a Christian with my money.

Churches

I grew up in the Catholic Church.  Mostly I remember the envelopes for the weekly contribution.  I remember the Easter Sunday Hell and Damnation Sermon in New Jersey.  I remember the priest dropping the consecrated host.  I remember believing that the church was a giant hoax and that it placed a big wall between me and my creator.

I have belonged to many churches.  I have read many texts: the Hebrew testament, the Christian testament, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, Hindu and Buddhist texts, and George Bernard Shaw.  I took a course at the university in the Philosophy of Religion.  I have learned to pray.  I talk to God all of the time.  I do not always do the right thing.  I have learned to free myself of a guilty conscious. God and I know where I am with Him and I am confidant that we are friends.  I could be a better person.  I try to be honest and the best person I can be.

Having read some of the late books claiming Jesus was a fraud causes me some problems.  It is necessary to believe those things which are supported by the facts (whatever a fact is) and requires the least amount of faith.  Some day we shall all know the Truth.  In the meantime, I just keep asking God for help in my beliefs and support of Him and His way.

I have found no church with enough integrity for me to wish to be associated with it.

It has been so long that I do not remember if the answer is 41 or 42.

Good Bye -- Almost

I shall now attempt to spend my time in improving the content of the informational pages of this web page.

Well.  I give up.  I have not taken the time to update the other pages and I find I have a lot more to say.  So I shall continue with some activity and ongoing commentary.

NOVEMBER

Nothing of significance.

DECEMBER

I go back to San Jose for my quarterly medical checkup.  Everything is good.  Yécora had too much rain.  Megan is in  pain both physically and mentally.  I would be in worse shape if I were house-ridden for 6 months.

Summary

Nothing much happened at the end of this year.  I still chuckle over Sara’s bondage incident on our trip.  Gained a lot of weight.  Am ready for my wireless hot spot to fire up.

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Written:  2004          Updated:  February 14, 2006          Back To Top