Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

The weekend at my son’s flew by all too quickly. The highlight of the weekend, and of my entire visit to Winnipeg, was spending Mother’s Day with Kyle. I am so glad that I listened to that gut feeling I had back in November and booked a flight to Winnipeg. But goodbyes are harder each time as I have no idea when we’ll see each other again.

Nonetheless, I found myself on an early morning flight to Vancouver on Tuesday. And with the time change I gained two hours. Another short flight to Seattle, and I was on the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle into Peshastin, minutes away from Leavenworth.

My friends are always telling me that they envy the traveling that I do. Yes, it’s enjoyable and even fascinating, but there are times when I wish I could just put roots down somewhere and stop searching for somewhere to settle down.

Flying has become a tedious form of travel. I remember the days when I loved flying, especially the magical moments of taking off and landing. But that was back when two hours wasn’t required to clear security and customs, although the free WiFi does help pass the time.

The first security clearance was in Winnipeg. Long lineups of harried travelers. Laptop needs to go in a separate tray from my backpack and my purse. My state of the art supersonic knees always set off alarm bells, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to walk pain free. Now if only the body scanners were ever up and running at 5:30 am in Winnipeg………

To my delight Starbucks was conveniently located close to my gate. It’s amazing what a jolt of caffeine does to the body so early in the morning. By the time we boarded, I actually felt human again.

I slept through most of that flight and groggily sauntered through the Vancouver airport and stumbled upon a Carl’s Jr. A breakfast sandwich and another coffee soon revived me and I began the long trek to the wing housing the international flights and USA Immigration.

I lost track of the countless times my boarding pass and passport were checked. And then there was an additional security clearance, although I was already in a secured area. This check was a lot more thorough than the on by the Canadians in Winnipeg. Shoes off. Laptop and cell phone to be checked separately. Once again the knees performed their magic. Next was the computerized passport check. And I always manage to chop part of my head off in the photo.

And now it was time for my two favorite questions——–Where’s home? How long will you be in the USA? The answer to the first, according to my son, is that his mother is a nomad and has no real home. My reply to the Immigration officer was that Winnipeg was my home. The answer to the second question is in actuality until the snow flies. My reply to the Immigration Officer was that I’m really not sure, but at least one month.

Thank God there was another Starbuck’s close to my gate, although something a little stronger was definitely in order. But I knew that there was a Mack n Jack with my name on it in Washington. And I was getting closer. Just another short and uneventful flight to Seattle.

I was amazed that my bag was first off at the carousel and headed outside to get some fresh air. The sun was shining and it felt good after all that stale airplane air. But it soon clouded over and the rain began. The ride on the shuttle was rather interesting weatherwise. The rain turned to fog and then to freezing rain and then we drove for miles through a blizzard. Yes…….SNOW and lots of it! But at that altitude it isn’t uncommon. As we got closer to Peshastin, once again it was rain and then tapered off to heavy cloud.

Steve met the shuttle and loaded my bags into his SUV. We went in to Cashmere and had a wonderful dinner. I chose the chicken pot pie, quite suitable for a cool and rainy day, comfort food.

I woke up in Leavenworth this morning and did something rather rare for me. I unpacked my suitcase and my backpack! Maybe it was the brilliant sunshine that inspired me, but I smile because I know that I am finally somewhere that I want to call “home” for a few months. 

 

Winnipeg Part 3

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Winnipeg Part 3

I arrived at Carolyn’s early Monday afternoon. She lives in an apartment in North Kildonan with a spectacular view from her twelfth floor balcony.

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We chatted away for hours. After all we had two years to catch up on. The next day we went out for lunch with our friend Brenda. The three of us met when we were doing physio at Concordia Hospital after having knee surgery five years ago.

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On Wednesday Carolyn and I went out to St. Vital Center. This is another tradition when I visit Winnipeg. Lunch at Moxies. My friend Joan also joined us.

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Thursday found us back at Concordia Hospital. Carolyn has recently had knee surgery again and was having physio. We had a short visit back at Carolyn’s after and then my son Kyle picked me up. I’m staying with him for the weekend before I fly out to Seattle.

He had a rec room built since my last visit and it is amazing. My son has been a fan of the San Francisco Forty-Niners since he was a child, and he now has his dream retreat in his home.

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I have begun the enormous task of sorting through photos and albums. It just isn’t practical to haul these heavy items along with me to Mexico or Washington, so I am selectively taking photos of photos. Quite emotionally draining as I recall when many of these were hanging on walls or displayed on shelves in another lifetime when I actually had a home here in Winnipeg.

I’m looking forward to spending Mother’s Day with Kyle and only wish that Kimmy were here too. 

Winnipeg Part 2

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Winnipeg Part 2

I can’t believe that a week has gone by already. On Thursday I moved again. Donna drove me to Audrey’s where I dropped off my suitcase. We visited over a glass of wine and then headed to my favorite Greek restaurant on the Corydon strip. I have been going to Nikos for years, and it’s always a must when I visit Winnipeg. The souvlaki and moussaka are outstanding, and I have yet to find Greek food in Mexico.

After dinner, our destination was a Immanuel Pentecostal Church for an event sponsored by Bridges For Peace, a Christian organization that supports Israel and promotes relationships between Christians and Jews. The featured speakers were fabulous and the two hour program felt more like two minutes.

On Friday Audrey took me out to the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery. It was a warm  and sunny afternoon. The flower beds were being prepared, and it was nice to have a real visit with my parents rather than virtual one which is the norm for me in Mexico.

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Our next stop was VJs Drive Inn on Main Street, another must when I come to Winnipeg. This is the home of the best chili burgers and most awesome fries. Lots of memories of coming here over the years when I lived in this city. We sat at a picnic table outside and I have fond memories of sitting on the hoods or on the trunks of cars when there were no picnic tables.

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Saturday was an incredibly special day. I had lunch with my son Kyle. He informed me that it was the first day off he has taken in almost four months. Because he is an accountant, the income tax deadline in Canada means he is deluged with work. His work as an auditor also finds him flying to Toronto today for a meeting with  client tomorrow. Later on this week I will be staying with him for a few days, and I am really looking forward to spending time with him. The main purpose of my trip is to spend Mother’s Day with him. Kyle despises having his picture taken, but I did snag this one and he won’t notice as he tells me he never reads my blog.

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Today promises to be a leisurely day and this evening I’m going out for coffee with another one of my friends. And then, you guessed it! Packing! Moving again tomorrow! 

Winnipeg Part 1

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Winnipeg Part 1

Back in Winnipeg. It’s been almost two years. I had an enthusiastic welcome from Immigration. Yep. Spot check. Searched my backpack, went through my suitcase, but surprisingly didn’t check my laptop. Tons of questions about what I’ve been doing for the past two years. And how long will you be in Winnipeg?????

And people wonder why I choose to travel to other places rather than return to Winnipeg regularly. Oh well…………..

Amazingly there was no snow on the ground when I arrived. Of course 15 degree heat wave in Winnipeg means nothing to me. I’m used to 30’s. But the sunshine quickly lifted my spirits.

David picked me up at the airport. For the first few days I’m staying with Donna and Loris in the Westwood area. I felt like I had come home when I stepped through the doorway. Although I talk to Donna on the phone often when I’m in Mexico, there is just always so much to talk about once I’m back. And it feels like we’ve never been apart. We went out for pizza that night and began our catching up.

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With no snow on the ground, the next day we decided to venture out for a walk with Tessa, Donna’s golden retriever. The path along Sturgeon Creek goes by Donna’s son’s home, so we picked up her granddaughter along the way.  Ella is a delightful four-year-old and was only too happy to ride her bike with us. Here is a shot of Donna along with Ella and Tessa.

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The water level was very low. I recall other years where the bridge going over the creek was flooded in the springtime. They have extended the walking paths for several kilometers and it was nice to see so many Winnipeggers taking advantage of the seasonably warm weather.

We went for a drive and I was astounded by the the growth and development of new housing and roadways in the city. Once desolate areas are now crowded with homes on small lots. The quiet area where I used to live now has condos and a higher volume of traffic. I wonder where all the people are coming from considering that population growth here is not really increasing.

Winnipeg is also home to a new outlet mall opening this week. I’d like to pass on that one. I’ll be back in the USA in a couple of weeks and I prefer to shop there. But for Winnipeggers this mall will be a big draw.

We went out for a drive to the north end of the city to a sprawling new grocery store that features a variety of ethnic foods. I checked out the Mexican section and chuckled at the Old El Paso products. But I do recall when I used to think this was real Mexican cuisine before I moved to Mexico.

I’m sitting here sipping hot cocoa in an attempt to warm up. While Winnipeg may think 15 is warm, to me it is cold. Loris went out to work in the garden in shorts. I’m inside bundled up in long sleeves and jeans. Yesterday Donna even turned on the gas fireplace in the family room for me!

It’s now three days later. How the time has flown by! I’ve had such an amazing time staying with Donna and Loris. I’ve enjoyed listening to Donna’s students when they come for piano lessons. Loris is retired and is quite talented in the kitchen. Here is a shot of him when he prepared some rosemary for me so that I could bake some bread. I had given Donna my breadmaker when I moved away, and nostalgically recalled that the last time I used it I had made rosemary bread for Thanksgiving a few years ago when Kyle and Krista had come over for dinner.

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I’ve enjoyed visiting with my friends. David and I had a relaxing Chinese dinner the other night.  Glenda, Ethel and I had lunch at Daily Grind yesterday. Last night Donna, Elinor and I went to a movie. And today I find myself once again packing! Later today I move from Westwood to Crescentwood and will be staying with my friend Audrey.

I will finally get to see my son over the weekend. He adores it when his mother comes back to visit during tax time. He’s an accountant deluged with work at this time of year, but unfortunately this is always the best time for me to come for a visit.

Stay tuned for Winnipeg Part 2.

 

Semana Santa

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Semana Santa

Semana Santa has arrived, that dreaded time of year when the beaches here in Mazatlan are packed due to the invasion of vacationers from inland areas in Mexico. Children have two weeks off from school and the beach is always a popular spot. Of course there is also the added nightmare of the rerouting of traffic in an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion.

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I will be hiding out at the pool in our condo complex for the next three days.

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Then I will escape to Culiacan for a long overdue visit with my Mexican family.  We will attend the procession Friday morning to the cathedral. There are also special masses to be celebrated. Although I am not Catholic, I enjoy attending church and observing the traditions with my family.

Semana Santa is a busy time for all modes of travel, especially buses. Buses are crowded and it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, as opposed to merely showing up at the bus station and purchasing a ticket at the last minute, which is usually the norm here.

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When I lived in Canada Cadbury creme eggs symbolized Easter. When I lived in Guadalajara empenadas were prominent. I miss both of these, but I do look forward to a pina colada raspado in Culiacan. But most of all, I look forward to spending Easter with my family. After all, family is what life is all about.

Mothers On My Mind

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Mothers On My Mind

April 5th was my mother’s birthday. She would have celebrated her 105th birthday that day. But sadly she passed away more than twenty years ago. And the last time we were together on Mother’s Day was in 1996. Cell phones with cameras weren’t around yet, and somehow we just didn’t drag out a real camera that day to take photos. At the time, my son was fifteen and my daughter was twelve. And the only pictures I have of that day are those etched in my mind and in my heart forever.

It was a glorious sunny day in Winnipeg, unseasonably warm and the snow had already disappeared. I had prepared brunch that day at home. I still recall the menu vividly………..salad, quiche, fresh fruit and a lemon trifle for dessert. We wanted to spend a quiet, leisurely time at home rather than fight the crowds in the restaurants. My mother was scheduled for surgery that week, a surgery that tragically took her life.

This year I will be back in Winnipeg for Mother’s Day. Instead of a virtual visit to the cemetery on my laptop, I will be able to visit in person, a routine I followed every year after her death until I moved away several years ago.

And I am a mother as well. I fondly recall the last time I spent Mother’s Day with both of my children back in 2009. My daughter made a lovely brunch and this time we did take pictures. 

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My daughter has since moved to Ontario, but I have been able to spend time with my son on Mother’s Day when I have come back to visit. Here is a shot of us back in 2013. 

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It’s been a while since I’ve been with both of my kids on Mother’s Day but last year they were both together in Toronto and sent me this lovely photo.

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Another memorable Mother’s Day was the first one I spent in Mexico. I was living in Culiacan. Juan and I taught together, and he and his wife Lucila had adopted me into their family. At the time they had a toddler named Juan Carlos. We went out for raspados and went to a park. Lucila had made a bracelet for me which I treasure and still wear.

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So I have had mothers on my mind this month, although Mother’s Day in Mexico is on May 10th and in Canada it’s on May 14th.

I am looking forward to spending Mother’s Day this year with my son. It will be the highlight of my visit to Winnipeg. Kyle be warned. There will be photos. 

Four Whirlwind Trips To Guadalajara

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Four Whirlwind Trips To Guadalajara

Last month I was in Guadalajara four times related to my cataract surgery. And I took advantage of every moment to spend time with friends and to visit some of my favorite places. I loved living in Guadalajara and if it had an ocean I’d still be there.

On my first trip, I headed out to Parque Mirador for the afternoon. The view of the canyon is breathtaking, and I used to spend hours here gazing out at the spectacular scenery and writing, while sipping my favorite Bohemia.

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I spent a fair amount of time in the Jardin Hidalgo in San Pedro, the area where I used to live. It is so peaceful there early in the morning and the pigeons are a delight to watch. The two churches are busy places with people coming for early mass. The man selling cheese and the lady selling bread have their usual spots. The shopkeepers have not yet opened their doors and the garden is a perfect place to relax.

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In the evening the Jardin Hidalgo is a busy place. Salchichas, tortas, churros, ayot and hamburguesas are only a few of the offerings here. What I enjoy is plopping down on a bench and watching people. And of course there is the added spectacle of the churches lit up at dusk.

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I stayed with my friend Pedro and his family and it is always a delight to visit. Pedro is a former student and we used to get into quite the conversations in the classroom. My students always tell me that they are so grateful to have a native speaker of English teach them, but I feel privileged to have students like Pedro as I have learned so much from them. Here is a shot of Pedro, an avid cyclist.

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On a sad note, my favorite coffee shop closed down. Claudia and her mom ran this place for eight years and their lease was not renewed. The ambiance was awesome and I treasure the memories of hours spent there with friends over the years. The food was outstanding and always cheerfully served. I was able to enjoy one last meal there in February just before it closed.

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Another one of my friends opened up a cantina and I spent an enjoyable night there with friends. I highly recommend Alaz Luchas for cold beer, great music, interesting decor and of course wonderful food.

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I enjoyed a morning in the Centro Historico although the main street was ripped up by the construction for the third line of the Tren Ligero. Here are some shots I took of the cathedral and the area nearby.

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One morning I headed to the mercado for a delicious breakfast of pizole and tacos. The lower level is where the crowds of locals come for traditional Mexican fare.

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I also squeezed in a quick trip to Forum Tlaquepaque, one of my favorite shopping malls in the area. I had planned on seeing a movie, but time just got away from me.

The main purpose of all these trips was the cataract surgery. The following photos are of this amazing clinic in Zapopan where I saw the opthamologist and had the surgeries done.

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I miss you Guadalajara. If only you had an ocean. I look forward to returning again soon, but this time it will be all pleasure and no medical issues to contend with. I intend to spend time with friends and revisit my old haunts.