Monarchs in Mexico

[NOTE: We finally updated the blog - wrote a summary ‘catch up’ post - to read it, CLICK HERE.]

We have been enjoying our new home in Zacatecas, where we moved at the beginning of April.

Our first month included the annual cultural festival which surrounds Semana Santa (holy week). One thing we learned, they *really* love American classic rock! In the 30+ year history of this festival, they’ve had appearances from Bob Dylan, Gloria Gaynor, Electric Light Orchestra, Dionne Warwick, Peter Cetera, Jose Feliciano, Air Supply, Michael Bolton, and KC and the Sunshine Band. This year the main act was Creedence Clearwater, and they know all the words. Huge crowds.

How huge? We got there about 1.5 hours early. This is as close as we got:

This is all the people outside on the street:

We’ve managed to connect to a couple of local vegan restaurants and three different vegan pop-ups and delivery services. One is in a nearby park every Saturday, two others deliver cheap (by bike) Monday through Friday. 30-60 pesos per entree.

Back in February we visited Morelia and the Michoacan butterfly reserve. Here is some Morelia street art that made me laugh.

Morelia has a very nice touristy downtown area, but it did not draw us in like Zacatecas did. We spent three nights at a Bed and Breakfast at the foothills of Cerro Pelon near the butterflies. We wrote a new post on our blog with more details, with slideshows and videos from our Flickr account.

The blog post: CLICK HERE

The full album slideshow and videos are on our Flickr page: CLICK HERE

And the winner is...

Zacatecas!

Since our last newsletter we have visited Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas and Morelia. It was our third visit to Guanajuato, and although it remains beautiful to look at, we found a few things that diminished its charm. One was the steep and narrow alleys. Picturesque in places, filled with graffiti in others, and sometimes requiring pedestrians and cars to take turns. A second issue was the tourism. It’s not the people who come to see the city that are the problem, so much as the people there to take their money. They try to wave your car over as if you are driving on the wrong side of the road, only to hawk maps and tours. They stick maps and pamphlets in your face. It’s difficult to walk around downtown on the weekend. Thirdly, the cost of living. I suspect some expats are migrating over due to the expense of San Miguel de Allende, and the price of rent has risen to match the demand. The availability of rental units has not risen, however, as most of them are still designed for college students.

We also spent a few days in Aguascalientes, including a tour from a friend of a friend who works for a real estate company. We saw several parts of town, but none of them were anything but plain residential neighborhoods in a large city, lacking any charm or color. It is mostly flat, which means that even if we found a room with a view, there wouldn’t be much to view from it.

Morelia, our most recent city while on the way to see the Monarch butterfly colony (details in the next newsletter), has a nice colonial downtown area with several vegan restaurants but by the time we visited there we were fairly set on Zacatecas. Nothing in Morelia managed to change our minds. Like Aguascalientes, it is a large city with all the pros and cons that come with that.

So, Zacatecas it is. It has some hills like Guanajuato, but not quite as steep and claustrophobic. Its streets are paved as well, but broad enough that you can walk on the sidewalk and not get conked in the head by the side mirror on a passing bus. And unlike Guanajuato it is not filled with tourists on the weekend, and most definitely is not an expat destination. There are a few here and there, just enough. Bryn was also smitten by the teleferico, a cable car that takes you up to the bluff above town (la bufa). There are large parks with grass and trees and an eco-park just outside of town. Large grocery stores and even a Sam’s Club are only a short bus or taxi ride away. And even though the vegan scene isn’t particularly robust, there is a vegan restaurant with a varied menu just around the corner from our new apartment. We will be on the third floor again, and the rooftop terraza has a wonderful view.

One additional factor, possibly more important than we care to admit, is the price. Let’s just say that in the last seven years, five of which were spent in Mexico, we’ve never had a rental that is this economical. This will enable us to travel a bit more and explore other parts of Mexico as well as other countries to the south.

More pics of Zacatecas here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vagabondians/albums/72157706742911425

Time to Travel

just a bit

We’re going to be traveling some over the next few weeks. Our lease is up at the end of March, and we’ve decided to use this as an excuse to shake things up a bit. We’re going to look for a new home base. As much as we love the view from our current studio apartment, Ajijic prices are getting perilously close to American prices. Also, it feels a bit odd being in a foreign country and spending 98% of our time with English speaking Americans and Canadians. It doesn’t help us practice our Spanish either. So we’re going apartment hunting!

First, we will visit Guanajuato for a few days to see if we still like the vibe. After that we will then go to check out Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, spending a couple of days in each. Depending on how this scouting trip goes, we will then return to whichever place strikes our fancy and try to arrange for a long term rental. Most of this will be with our friend Richard in his car. He’s scouting out some of the same towns.

After that, we come back to Ajijic for a week or so, then we hop on a bus with our friend Martha to travel to eastern Michoacan to visit a Monarch butterfly reserve. Then when we return, it will be time to get rid of a bunch of things and pack for the big move to — well, wherever it is we’re moving. You can get the glorious trip details on this map page.

I finally did a bit of sprucing up on the ol’ blog. As mentioned previously, I won’t catch up on image uploads until after we move. In the meantime, some of the images work, and all of the text works. So here’s something to read if you need to catch up on where we’ve been the last eight or more years…

Vagabondians

We’ll send out some updates and a few photos after each trip right here in our newsletter. Coming soon…

A few changes

A 'new'sletter - get it? :)

Happy New Year from us Vagabondians

[NOTE: If you just signed up, you may have already read this - sorry for the duplication!]

So this is new…

A new year, a new way of communicating. Think of it as a NEWsletter. (ha!)

It's New

In the past we used MailChimp as our newsletter provider, but it was designed for large-scale commercial mail, and was rather difficult to use and maintain. This new service (substack.com) is much better, and it's still free. We have also used our Facebook group to communicate with you, but they like to limit who gets to see our writing, and then force you to pay them for the privilege of having you see it. So we are going to phase out our use of the group. Going forward, when there are new photos or blog posts to tell you about, we'll do that here.

If you got this from us in an email, you have been subscribed here automatically. I migrated you over from MailChimp. As usual, if you no longer wish to receive these emails, just click to unsubscribe.

The blog

I am still working on renovating the blog. The big hold-up at this point is the photos. A lot of them don't show up any more. Links have changed, some services now require payment to link to them. Frankly, I need to consolidate. So I did.

Photos

We have upgraded our Flickr account to Pro and I am in the process of uploading a massive backlog of photos to the site. Unfortunately the internet upload speed here is 0.52mbps - yes, half a megabyte! I think I had faster speeds on my last dial-up account. But we should have much faster speeds in our new apartment starting in April. Speaking of...

Time to Travel!

Our landlord is renovating in April, and afterward the rent will be much higher. Unfortunately the rent is high *everywhere* here in Lakeside. So we have decided it's time to once again declutter, downsize and hit the road. Our current desination is Guanajuato, a city we've visited twice before. Fast internet, cheaper rent, less expat gringos. No lake, but amazing colorful views.

We will miss the view from our kitchen window

Bryn already has her Mexican Residente Permanente card and by the time we get to Guanajuato I will have my Residente Temporal card. This means we don't have to fly out of the country every six months. Our last trip to the States cost us a few thousand dollars! We did manage to add to our savings this last year, but we really need to accellerate that amount. Having a different home base will help.

The big ending

I will be posting a link to this newsletter for those on the Facebook group who aren’t already on our list. I have really enjoyed writing this update! Knowing that you get it straight into your email without having it hidden by some silicon valley overlords will hopefully motivate me to update you more often. But not *too* often. That would be annoying, and it would cut into the time I spend doing important things, like experimenting with beard shapes. What do you think?

It’s not a patchy spot if it doesn’t exist…

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