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SMA, week 3, recap

Pflouff’s new groomer is located outside the town of Atotonilco, which is about 10 miles northwest of San Miguel de Allende. Her groomer also happens to be just down the road from Nirvana, a hotel/restaurant/spa we visited back in March and loved. Sounds like a plan for an afternoon out!

We dropped Miss Pflouff off at 11, and then Jay, Polo, and I popped over to Nirvana. They were happy to have Polo accompany us in the outside part of their restaurant.

We decided to order several things and share them. We started with this delicious cheese plate of manchego cheese, green olives, and pancetta.

I absolutely had to try the Huitlacoche and squash blossom cream soup. It was marvelous!

Jay wanted to try the beet carpacchio salad with goat cheese and walnut praline and a touch of fresh arugula in creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Nom!

The we split the scallops. Jay says my scallops are better, but we loved the sauce.

After a leisurely lunch we walked around the grounds for a while. Although I had been here back in March, I hadn’t explored much then. They grow their own vegetables, and they raise some of their meat animals. Intermixed with the farm, there were delightful park-like spots. I loved this area with a statue of St. Francis.

We met these two adorable burros, who brayed loudly until they were given the attention they were due.

Polo wasn’t sure what to make of the burros. He was captivated by the ducks, though!

After touring the grounds, we decided to drive into Atotonilco to see the church. I wasn’t expecting it to be so crowded, but apparently they get 5000 visitors a week.

We drove through and parked at the far end of town. It was basically a permanent street festival on the way back toward the church.

We wove our way through the crowds. This gold man loved Polo and was fun to chat with.

In general the people in Mexico ignore dogs on leash, but Polo is an exception to the rule. He’s so unusual that people want to ask about him and touch his fur. Polo doesn’t love strangers, but he’s getting used to them, and he graciously tolerated quite a lot of attention in Atotonilco. Honestly, he’s a good traveling dog and was EXTREMELY well-behaved yesterday. Pflouff would not have enjoyed the day at all, not one single aspect of it.

The church itself is gorgeous.

I have just two photos from inside. Jay thinks maybe there was a wedding going on — he couldn’t get past the entrance because it was so full. But he said every inch of it was ornate, like the photos he took.

Here’s a statue that was outside the church.

After a while we got hot and thirsty, so we headed back to the car. There’s a cemetery near town, and we tried to find it, but failed. Oh well — another time.

We stopped at this devotional spot on the way out of town. Apparently there’s a big facility inside that does things like wedding receptions. The gate was unlocked, but I didn’t venture in.

By then it was almost time to pick up our daughter dog, so we headed back to the groomer. Pflouff looked beautiful (and was more than ready to leave), so we piled in the car and drove straight home. We had a wonderful day, but as soon as we got home, the four of us split and went to our respective areas to relax and decompress. I live in a house full of introverts!

The rest of the week was low key and normal. During the week, we have a standard routine that is not unlike our routine in the US. We work during the day, and every other day in the late afternoon, one of us goes to the grocery store. We cook most of our meals at home, though we like to do take out once or twice a week.

We’re still having some internet issues. Supposedly Live Telecom is doing some upgrades, which is what’s causing our outages and slow downs. That doesn’t change the fact that we can’t work when those are happening. I intended to talk to them on Friday to see if there’s a dedicated solution we could get that would be guaranteed up (and a faster pipe), but when I went to pay my MegaCable bill, I found out that they may have a faster, cheaper solution. We’re going to try to get that next week and have both for a month to compare services.

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SMA, week 2, recap

We went to a birthday party! A local friend invited us to his daughter’s birthday party. She turned two, and is crazy about Minnie Mouse.

It was so much fun. Most of the attendees were family — lots of siblings on both sides — but there was another ex-pat couple there that helped take some of the language pressure off. There was another couple and their son who spoke some English, as well, and they sat and chatted with us.

We had so much wonderful food! A woman prepared gorditas, and then we had homemade ice cream and, of course, cake. The hit of the party, though, was the piñata, which apparently was as much fun to fill as to hit.

The children were so polite (all day). When it came time to hit the piñata, they started with the youngest — the birthday girl — and then went upwards in age. Stefoni, the little birthday girl, just tapped it very lightly with the bat.

The next girl, who was just a year or two older, whacked the heck out of it!

I loved the house and the neighborhood. (If we’re ever invited back, I would love to walk up and photograph the church.) I’m very much afraid, though, that the area is becoming popular with ex-pats. You could clearly see big, expensive houses and upscale hotels and restaurants being built. This will force the locals out. I say this with guilt, because my kind — ex-pats — are the cause of this problem.

 

So what else did we accomplish this week?

  • 90% of the boxes are unpacked, and the stuff is put away. This happened because our maid came on Thursday. Good motivation!
  • Jay had his first routine doctor appointment. It was a house call, and she was here about two hours, I think, to do his complete intake. It cost $1000MX… about $55US.
  • Jay, I, and the dogs ventured out one evening. We drove south because we hadn’t been that way, then went back toward town, and drove to the mall and back. I was reminded of how I felt as a teen when I learned to drive. Baby steps, each new thing feeling big and scary.
  • Both Jay and I have run errands in the car individually. Neither of us has gone far, but we’ve each explored a bit.
  • I got my “real” camera out this week!

I haven’t ventured out and taken lots of cool pictures, because I was mostly focused on getting a picture of this bee. I mostly failed. I don’t have a macro lens, nor much of a zoom.

Even if I had those things, I don’t think I could have really captured the SIZE of this bee, which was what impressed me. It’s at LEAST 2.5 inches long. A regular honeybee is about the size of one of those little white petals.

This photo doesn’t really capture the vibrance of its colors either. Its orange and black are just stunning.

Oh well. I started (restarted, actually) a free online photo class, so that’s a win for the week. Now I just have to get out and take some photos of this gorgeous neighborhood.

The Good

We’re settling in a bit. We’re learning our way around the supermarket, and we’re comfortable buying food and cooking it. LOL — well, sort of. We have a gas stove, which made Jay so happy, but we’re not experienced cooking on it. Pair the unfamiliar stove with unfamiliar cuts of meat, and some of our meals are… experimental.

We’ve noticed something interesting here. When we buy meat, we need to use it that day or maybe the next day. It just doesn’t keep, even though it’s wrapped in plastic. I wonder what they do to meat in the US to make it last so long?

The doctor recommended that we shop at the organic market. Jay taxi’d up there today and looked around. He didn’t find any veggies he wanted, but he did talk to a guy who procures local meat.

Other good:

  • We went out to eat twice. The first place is essentially a McDonalds. The second place was a Thai restaurant! The food was yummy, and we were both thrilled to find it.
  • In addition to pulling out my camera, I also pulled out my novel. Oh, I don’t think I’ll make much progress, but it’s nice to do something creative.
  • I started working on my Spanish in Rosetta Stone again. There are some free resources that I use that are wonderful too. I’m starting to remember some of what I had learned (and then lost do to non-use and competing priorities).
  • We’re loving the weather here. It’s mostly sunny and moderately warm during the day, and then there are thunderstorms at night. Of course, this is the rainy season, so those storms won’t happen much longer. But they’re super fun while they last.

The Bad

There’s not too much bad, thank goodness. The worst, though: the Internet.

As I’ve mentioned before, the residential internet doesn’t have a fast enough upload speed to work for work. So we had Live! Telecom install their fiber optic + microwave internet. We purchased a business plan, so we would get the biggest upload pipe.

And it’s great… when it works. So far it has been down three days this week. They have gotten it back up within a few hours, but when they do, it takes HOURS to get back up to speed. Right after it comes back, the speeds are as slow as dial up! Unusable.

We have cable internet to use as a backup, so we’re able to connect, but it doesn’t handle both of us well. Jay had to have someone else on his team be his “hands” on a system one day — and that’s absolutely not acceptable.

For the record: I do NOT recommend Live! Telecom in San Miguel de Allende.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know. Live! Telecom supposedly has a dedicated solution that can be installed. I have no idea how much it costs, nor what they have to do to the HOUSE to install it. (Remember, these are the guys who punctured the water pipe last week.)

Still, this is the only fiber optic game in town, so we might have to ask a bilingual friend to go with us to talk to them.

My Thoughts…

Jay and I need to get out more. If we want to learn Spanish, we’re going to have to leave our home. (This is tougher for a pair of introverts than it sounds.)

We chatted with the other ex-pat couple at the party, and they own a house here and have been splitting their time between the US and Mexico for about five years. They have each taken several different classes in Spanish, some quite immersive, but they’re not fluent.

Jay and I are going to have to work very hard if we want to be even reasonably conversant before we leave SMA next year. Our task is made much harder because we work — in English — all week. Immersing ourselves just isn’t easy.

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