Monday, April 28, 2008

The Route

We had planned out our route down I-5 though Oregon and California, taking a left at Palm Springs, heading to Phoenix, and then down to Nogales, AZ to cross into Mexico.

The Mexico route would then hit Guaymas on the Gulf of CA, run down the coast and cut into central Mexico and finally Mexico City (Distrito Federal – the capital of Mexico - known as DF.)

However, the managers of the school we’ll be teaching at suggested crossing the border at Laredo, TX. That leaves about 700 (11 or so hours) miles of travel through central Mexico. We checked out this route and it looks like the better way to go. Also, if you ever need to learn about the Mexico highway system and tolls go to the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes site and the Traza tu ruta link is a mapping/toll tool that provides information about highways, tolls, kilometers, and driving times.

See the Mapquest map going through Laredo @ (scroll all the way down to see the map.)

If anyone else has any ideas or comments about the route, please post a comment or email us. Help make our trip as fun and safe as possible!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Tires and Packing the Trailer

When we were in DF we noticed very few non-commercial trucks (we're driving our Nissan 4x4 to DF and towing a small trailer.) And we saw none with the standard Pacific Northwest shiny mag wheels and big, oversized tires. But we did hear some stories about people coming out to their vehicles and finding that their shiny wheels and tires had been stolen. So we decided we'd fare better if we "downgraded" our wheels and tires.

Left - Picture of old wheel and tire.

Right - Picture of Nissan with new wheels and tires.

So we turned to Craigslist and created an ad for a "tire swap." Sure enough a guy from Arlington contacted us. He has a 1988 Nissan truck with stock tires so we met and swapped tires!

And today we unloaded the trailer and created our inventory (in both English and Spanish) list of everything we're taking. We understand this will be necessary for crossing the border and at the different checkpoints through Mexico. It's amazing how quickly the trailer filled up. I just hope we have room for everything.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snow in Mid-April?

At first it came down hard as hail. And then it changed to a very wet snow. It took forever, but it stuck and we got about an inch on the deck.

Last snow? I said that once before.

We should close on the house sale on 5/15 and begin our drive to DF (Mexico City) on the 16th. Mike has been in Denver, visiting his daughter and his new granddaughter. He's coming home today and then we can really figure out what we need to do before we leave.

Friday, April 18, 2008

We Have a Contract!

Perseverance. Steadfastness. Determination. Staunch. Resolute. Happy! Scared. Successful. Nervous. Ready.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Negotiations Underway

For the past 2 days we have been actively negotiating the sale of our house. And guess what? It is very difficult to be the real estate agent and the seller. Tomorrow may be the day we either have a deal or we have no deal.

So today also happens to be the night that the reality television show, Survivor, is broadcast in the Seattle area. If you have never seen it, the show takes a group of regular Americans into a remote area of the world and they compete to survive and outlast all members of the group for the chance to win one million dollars.

The series has been on since 2000 and Mike and I have been hooked on it from the beginning. So hooked that when the show had a casting call in the Seattle area, we went and Mike gave it his best shot. The potential Survivors tried out at a local casino by making a three minute videotape of themselves. Mike dressed in his best New York City police officer outfit (authentic New York Police Department t-shirt and baseball cap Mike bought on a trip to New York City), with his black jeans tucked into his Harley boots...ahhh, I wish I had a picture.

Unfortunately, Mike was not selected as a Survivor and we have had to live vicariously through the television series...

ANYWAY, tonight one of the contestants was enjoying a "party" with a tribe of native Micronesians and a comment was made about his innocence and his pure appreciation of a culture of which he had absolutely no knowledge. As I watched this segment, I could only think of my time in Mexico City and how I was mesmerized by the Mexico City culture of which I had no knowledge. I fully identified with the feelings the Survivor contestant experienced. And it made my resolve to move to Mexico City stronger than ever.

So that's my goofy story about Survivor and how I am integrating it into my negotiation strategy. Maybe Mike and I should give up our "power" and just make the house sale deal happen so we can get on to what really matters...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh Me, Oh My

p.s. I forgot to mention that I was guests of Cheryl & Pat at the game last night and "our little bro" Kevin tagged along too. Thanks for a great night!

Seattle Mariners

For many years I was a bartender in downtown Seattle in the area that had the old Kingdome, a domed stadium and the home for many Seattle sporting events. Professional sports played a large part in my life and in my livlihood...a bartender made a lot of tips when the home team was winning!

The Kingdome was imploded years ago and it was replaced with Quest Field for the Seattle Seahawks football team and Safeco Field for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. These 2 new structures are state of the art, very different than the Kingdome.

View of Safeco Field from above. It has a automated roof that extends and retracts (opens and closes) depending on the lovely Seattle weather.

View of Safeco Field with the Seattle skyline, including the Space Needle from the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. It's amazing the Space Needle has withstood the earthquakes here over the years. The Space Needle was very innovative for its time and there is a restaurant toward the top that does a complete rotation once every hour!

Last night I went to what was probably my last Mariner's game before I move to Mexico City. And it was very interesting. I couldn't believe how much food is sold and eaten there. Of course, there are the traditional hot dogs, peanuts, and beer but there is sooooo much more. Fish and chips, clam chowder, garlic french fries, BBQ, hamburgers, cotton candy, ice cream, pretzels, fruit dipped in chocolate, and of course espresso drinks. It is overwhelming. And everyone is eating all game long!

I also noticed the trains blowing in the background. There is a train station right behind Safeco Field so all night you hear trains coming and going. It's weird because I never, ever remember hearing trains anywhere else in Seattle - just at Safeco Field.

And the Mariners...they lost last night to Kansas City (5 to 1), but right now the Mariners are leading 11-6. Go Mariners. I remember the days when you couldn't give away a Mariners ticket. But ever since the 2001 season when the Mariners TIED THE RECORD for the most wins in a single season with 116 Seattle has rallied around the team.

I wish I could be here when they win the World Series. Maybe I'll have to come home for that game...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


We listed our house for sale on 2/11/08 and the only offers so far have been "lease to buy." Ugh. Not really an option because we don't want to move to Mexico City and have the deal not closed.

We've had professional upgrades completed and the house is move-in ready. It has been a wonderful home for Mike and myself the last 7 years and the only reason we are selling it is because we are moving to Mexico to teach English and eventually retire there. The small town we live in (Duvall, Washington) is friendly country living - just 7,000 or so people - and lots of cows, horses, alpacas, dogs and children. And it's just a 40 minute drive into Seattle.

The Multiple Listing Service number is 28024873 and you can review all the details about the house by going to Coldwell Banker Bain's website ( and searching under the MLS #. And if you have any real estate related questions you can ask me directly as I'm a Coldwell Banker Bain agent and I'm trying my hardest to make this this deal happen!

That said, I'm headed out to mow the lawn...ahhh, and what a lovely garden opportunity for someone who wants to customize a yard that's 1/3 of an acre...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mexico City Pics

These are pics from the Zocalo, "La Plaza de la Constitucion", the plaza in downtown Mexico City that can accomodate 300,000 people. I believe these are the different governmental buildings around the Zocalo.

Here are the Aztec dancers that were performing in the Zocalo the day we took the bus tour of Mexico City. I wonder if they have headaches after taking off those headdresses? (Click on the photo to get an enlarged version.)

I saw many instances of this - using buckets to "hold" parking spaces. And I sometimes would see a car in a space and the bucket up on the sidewalk. I don't think that would work on Capitol Hill - the densely populated Seattle neighborhood where we used to live and parking was at a premium!

Last one. Apparently this cantina was built right around the tree that grows through the floor all the way through the roof!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Who's Reading This Blog???

Ever since I put a "counter" on the blog, I have been watching the number of times people hit the blog and I am always amazed at the numbers!

So who are you?? Are you family, friends, new friends, strangers, or WHAT?? If you don't know, there is a link at the bottom of each post that is for "Comments" - so if you read this tonight, please leave us a comment!!!

Enough of my ranting and I'll post some more pics...

It's not a great pic, but that's ME in front of the building for Inter Act, the school in which Mike and I will teach English in Mexico City. And forewarning - if you come to visit, watch that curb - it is HUGE!

And this is a pic of a house in a regular neighborhood. Notice the barbed barrier between the rooftops of the different buildings as well as the barbs on the fence in front of what looks like a terrace. This would be an unusual site in Seattle - let alone our small town of Duvall.

Mike and I have been ardent recyclers for many years. But I was surprised at the tenacity of the recyclers I saw in Mexico City. I'm not sure if they work for the city or not, but every day we would hear and see a man walking down the street ringing a large bell. Following this bell ringer would be a garbage collection truck. And I think the ringer was letting the neighborhood know that it was time to bring their garbage to the curb. The very cool thing was watching the men on the truck actively recycling/sorting the garbage into piles of cardboard, glass, plastic, etc. as they collected the garbage. I'm sure it is not pleasant work, and not at all like our recycling in the states, but it sure seems to get the job done. HATS OFF TO THE RECYCLERS OF MEXICO CITY!!

I saw many dogs in Mexico City - many of them were white poodles which surprised me. But I also saw some that lived in the gargages of auto shops like these 2 which were across the street from the hospital. I watched these 2 dogs day and night. During the day they snoozed and snoozed, but when their Papa pulled up late at night (or occasionally during the day) the JUMPED TO LIFE! And I won't forget the day that Mike bent over to pet a melancholy small dog lazing on the sidewalk and it JUMPED AT HIM, barley missing a bite into him. Can you imagine rabies shots after brain surgery??

I have a couple more pics I want to share, but you'll have to wait til my next post. Now remember - we want to see some comments!

Buenos noches!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hospital Pics!

This is the small hospital in Mexico that we came to call home. Usually there were cars parked in the parking spots as well as cars parked in the street - blocking the other cars in. Strange.

Yup - this is Mike's head. He also has a incision on his neck where the catheter was inserted.

Here's Mike with his 2 Geisha nurses giving him a bath!

This is Dr. Rincon (she will be Mike's doc when we live in Mexico City) and one of the neurosurgeons, Dr. Sosa.

This is the extraordinary tech, Carlos, who donated his own platelets so that Mike could have the initial surgery. Carlos & Miguel are now brothers forever!

Finally Mike has his appetite back!

Nurse Israel knew very little English and Mike knows very little Spanish, but these 2 men developed quite a bond.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Ahhhh...we landed in Seattle last night at midnight and rolled down our driveway at about 1:30am. It felt good to be at home. The air was crisp and we got inside and immediately turned on the fireplace!

I picked up Sitka from the kennel this morning and she has been running around and barking like crazy all day - she is soooo happy we are home! And today we sold the Harley Davidson FATBOY motorcycle - that's Mike and the new owner, Dave, in the pic. And just now a couple that is interested in our house came by to take a second look at it!

Mike is feeling like his old self and life is good. Let's see what tomorrow brings...