Monday, June 30, 2008

Our Neighborhood in Guaymas

Finally some pics of our little neighborhood, el Centro, in the downtown area of Guaymas, Sonora Mexico.

Our landlady, Lolita, owns Hotel Ana which is across the street from Lolita's "compound," including our apartment, her daughter's house and her son's apartment. Luckily, Lolita has good signage for Hotel Ana and whenever I get turned around I can just look for a Hotel Ana sign to guide me home. Our driveway is just beyond the pink building on the left.

And this is another Hotel Ana sign on another street behind our apartment. The one-way streets get tricky, but this sign was really helpful in the beginning. And this last sign is up on one of the main streets leading into Guaymas.

We need to paint "free wi-fi" on her sign to drive in some more business!

We live just blocks from an area of plazas and parks with monuments and an amusement type of park for kids with rides. This is a large monument to Guaymas fishermen, with a beautiful church in the background and the amusement park to the right.

Below is the Palacio Municipal - I'm not sure what happens in this building, but I think it houses the local jail.

Below is the Tres Presidentes Plaza...all three of these Mexican Presidents were from Guaymas! GO GUAYMAS!!

And this is the Guaymas Marina - with plans for development on the billboard. Cruise ships are scheduled to begin visiting Guaymas in the next year.

So if you're wondering what our little slice of paradise is like, there is a taste for you. More to come!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Preschool English Teacher

Geez, it has been such an exciting week I forgot to post that I GOT THE JOB! I will be teaching English to 3, 4, and 5 year old preschoolers at Colegio Navarrete here in Guaymas. I will have 3 classes at 1.75 hours each, with about 20 of the little rascals in each class. OMG! Can I do it???

The term begins in August so I am "free" until then. The contract was emailed to me and I have hired our landlady, Lolita, to translate and review it with me before I sign it - but besides that I have the job.

And today must be the HOTTEST day we've experienced so far. The other day we thought about buying a thermostat, but we didn't want to know how hot it really is. We have the fans blasting, windows and doors open - trying to find a breeze - but today it was toooooo hot inside.

On another note, one of Lolita's grandsons was able to hook up cable to our TV so no more $$ to Block Buster. Plus, Lolita's Hotel Ana across the street offers wireless internet. So guess where I am right now? Sitting in my truck, with Sitka in the extended cab and the AC keeping me cool! Plus, we found even cheaper water this week. We bought a 5 gallon refill for just $6 pesos ($0.60 US cents.) Whhooo-hooo! I knew we could find bargains if we just kept looking.

And now I need to investigate Paul's idea about the fumigator...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


When I lived in South Florida, we called them Pallmetto Bugs. Susan, Maryjane – do you remember them?? They used to jump out at me when I opened the kitchen cabinets! Here they are known as LAS CUCARACHAS...

Now that we have the AC blasting only while we are sleeping, I really look forward to nightfall and turning on the AC. And it seems like once it is on it is not long before I am zonked out. Like last night…I fell asleep with the TV on…nice, cool, restful sleep…until 2:00ish AM…

Until I suddenly awoke and jumped from the bed. Until I pulled the sheets back and I thought I saw something moving. Until I turned on the lamp next to Mike’s side of the bed. Until I calmly said to Mike, “Mike, you might want to get up right now. I think there is a giant spider in the bed.”

Mike stood up. We pulled the sheets way back and didn’t see anything. But then – it sounded like a tennis ball hit tile next to the bed – and out of the folds of the bed’s dust ruffle fell a HUGE LA CUCARACHA! It ran across the floor toward the desk. Mike and I were yelling – asking each other what we should do. We saw it running and decided we needed to catch it.

I ran into the bedroom and got Sitka’s poop scooper (we’ve never used it for poop) and Mike scooped up the LA CUCARACHA. I opened the front door and he threw it out. That was the easy part.

Thinking of what had happened, and whether it will happen again, now that’s the hard part...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Days in Guaymas

Here we are! Brenda (from Guaymas), myself, and Bliss (from San Carlos)...Brenda and Bliss have a conversational Spanish class with our landlord, Lolita, and today they stopped by for iced tea and cookies before class. FINALLY, I got to visit with the 2 women that helped bring our Guaymas dream to fruition. Thanks Brenda and Bliss!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our New Crib

Thanks for the posts and emails about AC and bank accounts. We were able to provide the electric bill (in our landlady's son's name, but it worked!) and got a bank account yesterday. The benefit to us is that we can use the debit card and we can transfer funds from our Bank of American acct to the Santander acct without any fees.

And once we saw how the electric bill is "measured" we pulled out all of our fans and are now using the new air conditioner only while we sleep. Last night we sat outside with our neighbor until 11:00 and it wasn't so bad when we went in to sleep.

Since some of you have asked, I'm posting some shots of our new apt. It is modest, yet large, and we are very happy here. The biggest benefits are that it is on ground level (loved our rambler in Duvall!), it is off the main street so we aren't looking out into the street, there is parking for both the truck and trailer, Sitka has a little vacant lot at the end of our drive to do her business, and our landlady, Lolita, her son Jesus, and her daughter, also Lolita, live right here too. It is all sorta connected. And then across the street is Lolita's Hotel Ana and her son Raphael has a house over there. It appears Lolita is a Guaymas real estate mogul and it is nice to be surrounded by her family. More about Lolita to follow...

So here are some pics...

The front door with sweaty Mike.

The living room.

The "office" in the living room and the bed (the one we're sleeping in) in the living room.

The beds (2 pushed together) in the acutual bedroom.

The bathroom.

And the kitchen.

Oh and Nancy this last pic is for you. It's my one jar of Adams peanut butter. I wish I'd stopped in Mazatlan to share it with you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Settling In

With our FM3 Visas that we obtained in Seattle, we had 30 days from crossing into Mexico to register our address in Mexico. We crossed the border at Laredo, Texas on May 23rd so our time was running short. I'm happy to report that this morning we finished the process - after just 3 trips into the Immigration office!

Then we went to open a bank account...we found that we need our passports PLUS a utility bill in order to open an account. We're not sure that we'll have a utility bill in our name (we need to clarify that with our landlady) so we're not sure what to do. Anyone have any ideas?? We went to Santander Bank...another gringo in the Immigration line suggested it because of the relationship with Bank of America (our bank in Duvall.)

On Sunday we signed up for an account at Blockbuster Video - which is funny because we rarely rented or purchased videos in our previous life. But without cable we have been entertained with movies. We have a Spanish Scrabble game that we need to break open and I'm still waiting for Mike to teach me how to play chess with the chessboard I gave him years ago...

We have gone to the 4 main grocery stores and we have purchased our first 5 gallon water thingy. It's much cheaper than buying it by the bottle - DUH! Yesterday we stopped in a second-hand goods store, looking for a floor lamp. We found a really neat one, we tested it, it worked, and we said we wanted to buy it. The store owner smiled big and I thought she said $85 pesos (about $8.50 US.) HA. I handed her $90 pesos and she looked worried. She clarified that she had said $850 pesos ($85 US), but then she reduced the price to $500 pesos ($50 US.) We laughed and said no thank you. We would not have paid that much in Duvall...I wonder if she was thinking we were rich gringos (we're not!) Overall, we are not finding a lot of things to be as inexpensive as we had expected. We'll have to keep poking around, looking for the best deals - I'm sure they are here.

The school I applied at doesn't begin again until early August...but I haven't heard from the Director since my interviews last Friday. It would be great to have that time before starting work.

The heat and humidity take some getting used to. Our apt has an older air conditioner in the bedroom, a brand new air conditioner in the living room and a ceiling fan in the living room. Also, the apt has 3 beds - 2 in the bedroom and 1 in the living room. The first night we slept in the bedroom, but ever since we have slept in the living room bed with the AC running all night. We pay rent, electricity and gas (for the stove and water heater) so we're a little nervous about running the AC all night, plus anytime we're in the apt during the day. Gulp. And we're not sure that we have an actual electrical meter to our apt so therein lies another question...

But to answer Steve's questions - it is a lot different than in the Great Northwest. I am wearing tank tops and shorts and Mike's in shorts too. I haven't worn long pants since the day before we left Duvall. We use Sitka's kerchiefs to wipe our brows and necks. And drink lots of water. We understand that Guaymas is just beginning to heat up so I'm sure we'll report more about the heat as time goes on.

We went to the public beach on Sunday - Father's Day which I'd forgotten all about. And we had shrimp cocktails and waded through the warm water. The place was packed with families. Maybe next year we'll go there on Father's Day with Mexican friends!

I'm really enjoying exploring Guaymas. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Yeah, we make mistakes, but nothing serious - yet anyway. Today we're having a latte, mocha and sandwiches in a coffee shop with free internet. Yeah for free!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Home in Guaymas

Whewww...the last couple of days have been busy while we have been unpacking and settling in. We met the neighbor guys...they do something with boats although we´re not sure what. That darn language thing...but Mike is very good at pantomime! And it´s funny that they are so afraid of Sitka. In fact, most people on the street are afraid of her - maybe there are very few German shepherds in Mexico??

Now that we have a few of our own possessions unpacked it really is beginning to feel like home. It´s hard to believe that we left Duvall on May 15th. And for a minute I wondered if we had made a bad decision in changing our entire lives and moving here - and I think this was the first time in months I doubted our decision. But one of the first things we did was hook up the stereo. A little Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and Jimmy Buffett fixed me right up!

And we finally got to meet Bliss who lives in San Carlos (about 15 miles from here). She is the first blogger I´ve been able to meet. It is neat to see a blogger come to thing I´ll miss is internet access in the apt, but maybe we can get it hooked up!

I interviewed at an elementary school today for 2 English teaching positions. This is a lot different than the adult English school in Mexico City. Now I know some of you are laughing when imagining me with 20 or so kids, but keep an open mind! Mike is thinking he´d rather do something physical so if anyone has any ideas or leads, please let us know!

And here´s a funny story...remember that Mexican cop in Nuevo Laredo that wanted to give me a ticket for driving down a one-way street (or so he claimed)? Well, a cop in Guaymas pulled me over as I was just about to drive down an authentic one-way street. Yeah, he had his lights flashing and siren blaring. He had me roll down my window and then he smiled. He stopped traffic coming 3 ways and let me back out of my mess. No ticket, no attempt at bribery, just a nice cop looking at a truck from Washington and he gave me a break. I waved and waved at him as I drove off!

That´s it for now...stay tuned for more from Guaymas!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hotel Playa de Cortes

¡Buenas dias from the Hotel Playa de Cortes!

We had a relaxing night soaking in the beauty of this town called Guaymas. Sitka ran right into the Sea of Cortez and loved the warm water - we don't have any warm Pacific water in Washington!

We're meeting Lolita this morning at 11 at our apt. We can't wait to unpack and settle in. Tomorrow I will contact the school that wants us to interview and get that scheduled. That's it for now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seattle to Guaymas

Wheewwww...4,958 miles from there to here!

That's me in my element - a hotel pool. We're staying at a hotel on the beach tonight and enjoying some down time before contacting our new landlord to move into our apt. We had to bribe the front desk ($250 pesos - or $25 US dollars) to let Sitka in the room, but it is well worth it. She has been such a good doggie on this long trip - her first ever with us.

The drive from Morelia wasn't bad. We finally figured out that we need to study our AAA Mexico map before heading out each morning to get familiar with the names of the upcoming towns so we don't miss them on the directional signs. Duh. Too bad we didn't think of that when we were in Monterrey!

We would have liked to stop in Mazatlan to meet Nancy and Paul (see Countdown to Mexico in my blogroll to the right)...afterall, they are also from the Great Northwest! Unfortunately, we were on a mission to get to Guaymas and we zoomed right by. Hope to see you two sometime in the near future!

Guaymas seems like a really neat town on the Sea of Cortez with water that is a beautiful green-blue color. There are about 100,000 people here and it is much cleaner and quieter than Mexico City. I have only heard a couple of car horns and sometimes I think they honk at us just to say hello to the truck from Washington.

Brenda and Roy (see their blog in my blogroll) live in Guaymas and Bliss and The Capt. (1st Mate of the S/V "Bliss" in my blogroll) live not to far away in San Carlos. We can't wait to meet all 4 of these people who helped inspire our move to Mexico!

And to everyone else that has followed us here - THANK YOU! We will continue to write about everything that happens here. Keep posting and dreaming...after this journey I know that anything is possible!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the Road to Guaymas!

Mike grew up in Phoenix and had vacationed in Guaymas, in the state of Sonora, with his family when he was a kid. And he had a dream that someday he would return to Guaymas - well, that dream is about to come true.

When Mike and I first decided to move to Mexico we really wanted to live in Guaymas. Shortly thereafter I "met" Brenda who is a retired Canadian living in Guaymas, (see the link to her blog, Brenda and Roy Going to Mexico, in my blogroll to the right). Brenda has answered so many of my questions about living in Mexico and helping us to decide if we could really do it.

And now Brenda has come to our rescue! She located a really neat apt for us to rent in Guaymas and she provided us with an English teacher job posting in Guaymas. We spoke with the apt owner, Lolita, today and she agreed to hold the apt for us! Plus, last night we submitted our resumes online and we already have interviews scheduled as soon as we get to Guaymas!


Mike spoke with his doc today and everything seems to be okay. We picked up more of his meds at a pharmacy and we will find a new doc as soon as we are settled in Guaymas. Thank you all for keeping him in your prayers.

Here are some pics that I wanted to post from our drive to Morelia from DF...see these horses?

They were in the heart of DF and we saw them when the cab driver was leading us to the correct highway. I'm not sure what kind of trees these are/were, but they were next to a very small house out in the country that we invertently found ourselves in.

Here's a beauty for everyone who knows my fondness for Holstein cows. Earlier today, before we had the great apt and job news, we decided to relax and have some fun. There is a giant field here at the Holiday Inn in Morelia and we played and played with Sitka today. She really needed a break from sitting in the truck cab. The heat in Guaymas is going to take it's toll on her (and me) so we wanted to get in some quality time with her today.
Also today we did some road trip shopping at Mega (a big chain supermarket with household goods - including appliances, furniture and even tires!)

Mike was facinated with the escalator that has magnets imbedded into the track so that the carts do not slip. Lastly, I was impressed with the special parking area for pregnant women - can you belive that?

Thanks again to everyone for all of your ideas and support regarding our decision to leave DF. We'll leave Morelia in the morning and it's about 964 miles from here to Guaymas. We hope to be there by Wednesday or Thursday. ¡Adios mi amigos y amigas!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


First of all, thanks to everyone who has posted a comment or written us an email. We thought we'd head back to Laredo, TX and maybe up to San Antonio...and then we decided to take another route and make our plan to live and teach in Mexico work!

On that note...our Acura had GPS and I never realized how much I missed it until I came to Mexico...

Monday we packed our truck and trailer in record time and at about 5:30pm we decided to head out. Yah, I know - rush hour traffic is about the worst time, but we were ready to go. So we looked at our AAA Mexico map and headed west, looking for Highway 15 to Toluca. We thought it would be a short enough drive to get a room for the night. HA

By some miracle we saw the green directional sign to Toluca simply by driving west. And then there were NO MORE signs to Toluca. I think we drove on every highway in DF and found ourselves high on a mountain, in a very small community, at the end of a dead end road. Mike got out of the truck, helped guide me, the truck and trailer as I BACKED DOWN about 60 yards. People on the streets stopped to watch and all traffic came to a halt. I can't tell you how nervous I was. It was getting dark and I had all kinds of crazy thoughts running through my head. But HALLELUIAH we made it down, turned around and somehow found our way back into crowded DF.

We finally hailed a cab and asked him to lead us to a hotel. We got a room and went to sleep. On Sitka's morning walk I found that the hotel was about 6 blocks from the Inter Act school. Irony. In a city as big as DF, how is it that we would stay in a hotel so close to the school that we were running from???

Tuesday morning we hired another cab and had him lead us to the highway to Toluca. We got turned around in Toluca (habit by now), but eventually made it to Morelia, in the state of Michoacan. Again, we hired a cab to lead us to a Holiday Inn - we saw signs for it, but no hotel.

Now bear in mind that at age 20 I drove myself from South Florida all the way home to Seattle with just the aid of a map. So I know I can read maps, but I think the big problem is that the Mexican directional signs reference towns that aren't on the map and I end up taking the wrong turns. Mike helps as the navigator, but he has the same problems reading the signs and the maps.

Our plan right now is to spend another night or two in Morelia, get some resumes submitted and see if we get any leads regarding teaching jobs. We also had our front brakes replaced today as they had been taking a beating with the trailer and driving through the mountains to DF. Mike sweet-talked (in Spanish-English-body language-pantomime) the guys at the Nissan dealership and we walked away paying only about $700 pesos ($70 US dollars) - what a deal!!! We're in a very nice hotel with room service and I hope to jump in the pool tomorrow!

Regarding Mike, we left DF so quickly that we missed his 6pm appointment with his doc to get the brain scan and blood test results. And we have left her several voicemail messages, but no reply. We presume there is nothing urgent and that maybe the eye strain came from all of the training, reading and writing. We'll continue calling the doc and if necessary we could always turn around and go back to DF.

But tonight I'm taking a shower, getting some clean clothes and going for a walk with my man. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

English Teachers in Mexico


Our move to Mexico City to teach English and eventually retire has had some major complications. And we´re asking anyone out there for help.

As I posted back in March during our first trip to Mexico City, my husband, Mike, ended up in the hospital and had 2 brain surgeries after the docs located a cyst growing on his brain. His recovery has been going well - until this week.

Beginning last Monday we plunged deep into training for our teaching positions and this has included LONG, LONG days of reading and writing. The long days have strained Mike´s eyes and he is having a terrible time. So bad that we do not know if he will be able to teach.

He met with with his doctor yesterday (the main doc from the hospital he was at in March) and she did some tests on his eyes and blood was drawn. Tomorrow Mike will have another brain scan and his doc wants him to see an opthomologist asap. Hopefully, he will not need another surgery, however, that is a possibility.

On top of that, the conditions for our employment are not what we had expected. Lastly, we do not believe that we can live in Mexico City (it is much more expensive that we had anticipated) on teacher wages for myself only (if Mike is not able to teach.) We do not want to touch our retirement savings for several years so this poses a gigantic problem.

Of course, our future will depend on what the docs determine about Mike. And if they determine that the eye strain is a normal part of his recovery we would like to stay in Mexico, but not Mexico City.

That said, where do we go? Does anyone have any ideas? If there are any teachers reading this blog, can you suggest where we might go to teach - even if it is just me teaching? Does anyone know of a school that is looking for teachers?

Bottom line is we need to find a place to live in Mexico where I can teach and we can afford to live on just my teaching wages. I know a lot of people read this blog so if you have any ideas please post comment or email me at I am feeling desparate and any help would be appreciated!