Thursday, December 2, 2021

Entering our Third Month

 as Mexican Dirt Dwellers

—Blogpost written by Bob 

In this blogpost, we continue our 6-month winter excursion in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico.  We arrived by car on October 15, traveling from near Annapolis, Maryland where we live on our sailboat.  This has been quite a change in our life style!

Tuesday, November 30

I was moving slow from the get go today.  We finally got confirmation for our car's service appointment for tomorrow at 10 AM in Guanajuato.  

I lazed around watching YouTube videos most of the day, one on building a log cabin in a snowy wooded area--I'm not sure why I was so intrigued with this one--I guessed it was because it was so different from what I was used to.

We had lunch in our apartment and we went out for a light dinner later at Chill SMA--we both had personal pizzas.  We talked about how our experience here would have been so different if we had found a better place to rent, in particular an apartment with windows and an outdoor space.  (We made sure that our AirBnB rentals in Mazatlan later this month and Puerto Vallarta in February have both windows and outdoor spaces!)

Of course, the pandemic has affected
our experience here as well.

Wednesday, December 1

We were up early, driving to the Toyota dealer in the city of Guanajuato.  We allowed 2 hours for the 47-mile trip and it took every bit of it.  When we got to the Toyota dealer (just after 10 AM), no one spoke English and technical terms were beyond our limited Spanish vocabulary.  We used our translate app to get things started.  Finally, Oscar, from the Toyota sales department, introduced himself to us—he spoke excellent English and told us that a nearby (actually next door) Applebee’s would be a good place for us to have lunch.  (Our car service was expected to be completed by 1 PM.)  We both had big salads (Southwest Chicken Salads) for lunch--they were pretty much the same as back home.

The Toyota dealer's small service area
in the city of Guanajauto.

The Toyota dealer’s facility was very modern, rivaling those in the U.S. but much smaller.  Unlike a typical dealer in the U.S., there was only one service manager (and probably 3 mechanics)--back home there was about 5 or 6 (and a dozen or so mechanics).  (They were able to access our car's service records using our VIN number.)  The cost of our car service (for the 120,000-kilometer interval) was 4,362.99 Mexican pesos ($218 USD) which was more than I expected.  (I thought since almost everything else was cheaper here in Mexico that car service would be as well, but apparently not.)  At one point it was questionable whether we could use our U.S.-based credit card for payment but it was eventually approved.

We arrived back at our apartment at around 2:30 PM and glad that the task was completed successfully.  
It was unbelievable to me how a simple 47-mile drive can be listed on our GPS as taking 1 hour and 19 minutes and, in reality, take 2 hours (each way).  Part of the reason as to why road trips take so long is the frequent occurrence of large speed bumps.  (Back home, a 47-mile trip would typically take only 45 minutes or thereabouts!)

Thursday, December 2

Outside, it was a cool 38 degrees F this morning but, fortunately, the temperature was expected to rise into the mid to upper-70's by the afternoon.  By the time we were up and about the outside temperature was comfortably cool (mid 60's).

Our primary goal for the day was to get some groceries, by first, walking to the nearby butcher shop (for the first time) and, then, drive to La Comer (the supermarket).

The exterior of the butcher shop
down the street.

The inside of the nearby
butcher shop.

The butcher simply pulled out a side of beef, trimmed some fat off, and cut two steaks off for us. Before wrapping them up, he tenderized them with a tenderizing hammer.  We also purchased two thick pork chops and 2 kilos of hamburger, all for under $15 USD.

From there we drove to a new-to-us restaurant near La Comer, it was called PizzaGuy.  The owner was from upstate New York and his wife was from Mexico City.  

Just inside the entrance of PizzaGuy.

The inside dining area and cooking
area for PizzaGuy restaurant.

We ordered Italian dishes for lunch (Cheese Ravioli for Maggie and Lasagna for me--they were both delicious--the best we've had since leaving Annapolis!)  We purchased a pizza to go to have while watching the football playoff games on Saturday.  (We will definitely be coming back to this restaurant!)

After lunch, we did our grocery shopping at La Comer and then called it a day...

Thanks for following our blog!

Monday, November 29, 2021

November Dirt Dwellers in SMA

—Blogpost written by Bob 

In this blogpost, we continue our 6-month winter excursion in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico.  We arrived by car on October 15, traveling from near Annapolis, Maryland where we live on our sailboat.  This has been quite a change in our life style!

Friday, November 26

This morning, we were really missing being on the water after being land-locked for about six weeks now.  I was really looking forward to our trip to Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast in a couple weeks (December 16 through December 23).  (I think that if we come to Mexico next winter, we will be sure to stay along the coast somewhere.)

We decided to got out for lunch at the Santa Ana Cafe (in the bibliotheca) and then walk downtown to see an exhibit of Mexican textiles and other artwork.  The following images were captured on our walkabout.

Razor spikes installed on the top of a wall
surrounding a nearby gringo compound.
(Behind the razor spikes is a wire
fence and there is razor wire
on top of the fence.)

An unusual knocker on a door
along Hildalgo Street.

A plethora of motor bikes
along Hildalgo.

Mexican textiles displayed
around the jardin.

The looms used to make the Mexican
textiles were very crude.

Saturday, November 27

Today was dedicated to college football for me.  The day started out with Michigan thoroughly beating Ohio State by a score of 42 to 27, which was great!  However later in the day, my Penn State lost to Michigan State on a snowy day by a score of 30 to 27, another 3-point loss!  (Penn State has lost five games this season, all by relatively small point differences: Iowa by 3, Illinois by 2, Ohio State by 9, Michigan by 4, and finally Michigan State by 3.  The five single-digit losses throughout the season were very frustrating.)


A couple more images captured yesterday:

Looking into one of the many fine
restaurants in Centro.

 A musician getting setup to play along
one of the streets in Centro.

At times during the football games, Kali was climbing all over Maggie begging for attention--her occasional (almost-desperate) need for attention is a unique part of her personality that makes her different from any other cats I've had in the past.


Later in the day, Maggie strung up Christmas lights in the kitchen and living room.

Sunday, November 28

We were awake relatively early this morning and had a delightful breakfast in our apartment.  Then, we attended a Colonia Guadalupe Bazar de Navidad right around the corner from our apartment.

Hand-made paper mache Navidad dolls 
were available at the nearby Bazar.
(This was not my photo.  We
bought one of these dolls.)

We got at the bazar a bit too early (9 AM) and left only to return about an hour later when the displays were completely setup.  On our way to the bazar we saw more mural painting along Calle Cancion India.

More mural painting along
Calle Cancion India.

The Bazar de Navidad.  We purchased a paper
mache doll, a hand-painted T-shirt for
Maggie, and two very tasty desserts.

Later in the afternoon, we watched NFL football games and the afternoon ended with our usual Happy Hour.  (We finally found fresh cranberries and made cranberry sauce--we used some of cranberry sauce to make the very tasty frozen cranberry margarita.)

A frozen cranberry margarita for Happy
Hour--the perfect combination of
sweet, sour, and salty.

Monday, November 29

I took a nice hot shower this morning, which we don't do everyday because of a limited water supply.  As usual, when I got out of the shower Kali was waiting for me on the toilet beside the shower.

Kali usually waits for me to get out of the shower, 
sometimes sitting on the toilet seat and other 
times on the toilet's water tank.  (She 
is intrigued by the water in
the shower.)

Our primary goal for the day was to make an appointment for service for our car in a nearby city.  We checked all the Google reviews on nearby Toyota dealers and settled on one in the city of Guanajuato--it's located 1 hour and 15 minutes west of San Miguel de Allende.  (Several of the local Toyota dealers had terrible Google reviews!  I had to convert the 73,395 miles on our car's odometer to 118,118 kilometers.)  

We accomplished the goal of setting up a service appointment online through their website.  (They are supposed to call us back for confirmation of our 10 AM Wednesday appointment.)


We decided to go out for lunch at the Food Factory in the Fabrica de Aurora which is close by our apartment.  As we were walking up the road to the Food Factory we met a guy along the road who kinda hailed us, noticing my camera.  As it turned out, he was born in Stevensville, MD (near where we keep our sailboat in the summer), moved to Baltimore for a big part of his life, and lived in Elkridge, MD (which is southeast of Baltimore) before moving to San Miguel de Allende.  (His name was Tim and he was 76 years old.  He retired and moved to San Miguel when he was 73--he is now 76 years old.)  It was quite interesting talking with him.  He rents a 2-bedroom house ($800 per month) high in the hills above San Miguel.  (I wished that I got his contact information so we could connect again sometime.)

The daily menu board at
the Food Factory

As we were eating lunch we were discussing the advantage of living somewhere near the coast in Mexico during the winter and in San Miguel de Allende during the summer.  After a very nice lunch at the Food Factory we each had a cobbler for dessert--mine was cherry and Maggie's was apple.  They were more like a mini fruit pie in a small dish with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Floating poinsettia leaves artistically arranged
in a large ceramic bowl in the courtyard
of Fabrica de Aurora.  

That's all for this blogpost...thanks for following our blog!

Friday, November 26, 2021

November Dirt Dwellers in SMA

—Blogpost written by Bob 

In this blogpost, we continue our 6-month winter excursion in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico.  We arrived by car on October 15, traveling from near Annapolis, Maryland where we live on our sailboat.  This has been quite a change in our life style!

Tuesday, November 23

Kali watching us leave through
the front door this morning.

Today was another leisurely day for us.  Leaving about 10 AM, we drove to La Comer (the supermarket) primarily to get poultry seasoning for our Thanksgiving dinner which we forgot on Monday.  We picked up another couple frozen pizzas and some other small items.

We researched restaurants (on TripAdvisor) before leav
ing and we decided to try a restaurant called Rustica which had great reviews.  The restaurant was in a neighborhood called Guadiana which I recognized from looking at rental apartments before we came to San Miguel de Allende.  (Apparently, the neighborhood is populated mostly by gringos like us. Most of the occupants of the surrounding tables were speaking English.)

The outdoor dining area at Rustica.

The old broken brick wall beside our table
with a plant in the window space.  
(The "rustic" theme was carried 
throughout the restaurant.)

At Rustica, Maggie ordered fish tacos and I ordered a steak sandwich, Mexican style--it was a solid steak (not shaved) with fried onions on ciabatta bread--it was very tasty!

Our shared dessert of a chocolate brownie
with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
(Note the artistically presented
sliced fresh strawberry!)

Lunch for the two of us (with a very tasty chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for our shared dessert) cost 570 Mexican pesos (about $28 USD)--this was among the most expensive lunches we had since coming to San Miguel but it was also one of the best.

In the afternoon, I worked on the fine tuning of the autofocus on my camera and lenses.  I have never done this on this (Nikon D750) camera previously although I have done it on my previous (Nikon D700) camera.  (I ordered a plastic device on Amazon that will assist in the lens auto focus tuning process.)

Wednesday, November 24

I was very thirsty last night due mostly to the lack of humidity here in San Miguel.  I got up in the middle of the night and drank some sugar-free Fresca and did some reading.  Consequently, I didn't sleep very well last night.


Today was the day before Thanksgiving and even though we bought a turkey and plenty of fixings, it just doesn't seem like Thanksgiving time here.  I just got an email notice that the marina back home is turning off the water at the end of this month--it was always a sign of imminent cold weather.  Lately it has been a little warmer here in the mornings but still in the mid-70's in the afternoons.  I don't miss the cold but I do miss the water.  (I'm hoping that our upcoming trip to Mazatlan in December uncovers a nice inexpensive place in Mexico to spend the winters near the water, even if the ocean is on the wrong side.  For the most part, places in Mexico near the water are full of tourists and high prices.)


On today's agenda was going out for lunch at Cafe Santa Ana in the bibliotheca and then searching the nearby artisan's market for a (ceramic) pie plate needed for tomorrow.  Instead we stopped at the corner coffee shop and had sandwiches--it looked more inviting in the warm sun.

New college buildings near our
apartment.  (Note the solar
panel in the foreground)

We checked out a local butcher shop after lunch--it looked great!  We made a note to try it out in the future.  It was nice and warm outside but I was having some difficulty changing my camera from it's single point focusing mode--I came back to our apartment early to fix it.  Maggie went on to look for a pie pan (but never found one nearby).

Thursday, November 25

Thanksgiving Holiday

The turkey was in the oven and the Thanksgiving Day parade was on TV, all the typical signs of the Thanksgiving Holiday back home.  I had just taken a nice long hot shower and the world was good.  The weather was perfect (highs in the mid-70's and lows in the mid-40's), as usual for San Miguel de Allende.  Obviously, Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Mexico, except for us visiting gringos.  (I was surprised that we were able to purchase a frozen turkey at La Comer--but we were not able to purchase fresh cranberries!)


The delivery man for fresh water was supposed to come this past Monday but he never showed up.  No one but us seemed to be concerned about it.  Beto (the onsite manager?) went out and purchased a 5-gallon jug of purified water for us after I mentioned the fact that we had no purified water.  In this situation back home I would be calling the water delivery company and complaining but this is Mexico and I have to conform my first reactions to the cultural standards of the country.  So, we will simply wait until the water delivery man eventually arrives and be grateful for the delivery.


My friend Bill called yesterday to let me know that he had not received my recent blog posts--he thought I may have been kidnapped and held for ransom.  I have contacted the company ( who is responsible for my blogpost distribution--I had this same problem once before.  I hope it gets fixed soon but I'm looking for a more reliable alternative in the meantime!


We invited Christine, the Polish lady from the apartment below ours, to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.  We had a very nice dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  (Maggie spent almost all day cooking!)  We have plenty of leftover turkey for next week...

Thanks for following our blog!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

November Dirt Dwellers in SMA

—Blogpost written by Bob 

In this blogpost, we continue our 6-month winter excursion in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico.  We arrived by car on October 15, traveling from near Annapolis, Maryland where we live on our sailboat.  This has been quite a change in our life style!

Friday, November 19

We were both a little lazy this morning, finally eating breakfast at 8:30 AM.  Previously we were thinking about going to Mescal-Art for a mid-afternoon meal (like the locals) and mescal tasting but neither of us were in the mood for mezcal tasting at the time.

My new leather camera strap
I purchased in Leon.

As much as I researched the weather in San Miguel de Allende before arriving and after having been here for one week previously, I totally misjudged my clothing requirements for the winter season here.  I would bring less shorts and more sweatshirts/sweaters/jackets, maybe even a down vest.


Without a particular goal or destination today, we went out for lunch at Hierba Santa - Cocina del Sur, only a couple blocks away.  We opted for the fish entree which was delicious!  After lunch we decided to each try a shot of mezcal.  

Our first taste of mezcal
was not a good one!

It tasted like what I imagined "horse piss" to taste like!  We were given lime slices with the mezcal which tasted sweet compared to the mezcal.  I don't think we will be buying a bottle of mezcal anytime soon.

A colorful scene from the restaurant looking
outward toward various shops.

An interesting doorbell on a gallery down the
street (Aurora) from the restaurant.

In the afternoon I got caught up on my TripAdvisor reviews, something I have tried to do while on this trip.  Not only do I add a review, but I add photographs as well--all this to help other travelers.


I still haven't done much of anything with my photography--I'm talking artistically.  Maybe I will start doing more work on the photograph above (the interesting doorbell).  I could start by using the rule of thirds and composing the photograph better.

Saturday, November 20

This morning was my first attempt to improve a photograph and make it more artistic while here in San Miguel de Allende.  I started by determining the focal length of the image I had already taken--it was 48mm.  The f-stop was f16 and the shutter speed was 1/60 sec. I could improve the photograph by using a slightly faster shutter speed, maybe 1/125 sec (at f8 or f11 aperture).  

I took another photograph of the unusual door bell (with the door) this morning using my wide angle lens--this was simply for research purposes. 

Taking a photo of the entire doorway doesn't provide
sufficient detail on the unusual door bell.  I also
wasn't aware of the fact that the walkway
was sloped--this would detract from
an overall image if not properly

Today was Penn State-Rutgers game day.  We watched the entire game on my iPad since it was not on a major TV network available to us here in San Miguel de Allende.  Penn State won the game by a score of 28-0!  Penn State was now 7 wins versus 4 losses on the season.  (Our second string quarter back played most of the game.)

By the way, our VPN (ExpressVPN) was essential in this effort to watch Penn State football since we couldn't get access to FUBOtv any other way.  (There have been times that a particular selected server location, like Washington DC, was busy.)


Before the game, during half time, and after the game, I worked on removing the second failed camera lens filter.  I cut eight 1/8-inch deep slots (using the hack saw blade I purchased this morning) in the outer edge of the filter.  After cutting the slots I used the pliers of my LEATHERMAN multitool to pry the segmented filter from the camera lens.  (At this point the aluminum filter frame deformed and simply popped off.)

I finally removed the second broken camera lens
filter by cutting eight slots in the outer edge
with a hack saw blade and then prying
off the lens. (This destructive method
may not have been pretty but
 it was effective.)

Next, I made a list of the lens filters I needed to purchase to protect my lenses.  The list of lens filters that I needed was as follows:

For 20mm f2.8 lens: 62mm filter

For 85mm f1.4 lens: 77mm filter

For new 35-70mm f2.8 lens: 62mm filter

I ordered the needed filters on Amazon today, paying particular attention to the multi coatings and generally on the quality of the filters, and ordering a slim version for my wide angle lens.  (I stuck with HOYA-brand filters because they seemed to have the quality I wanted.)

Sunday, November 21

Sunday morning was quiet and peaceful after Kali got sick on something she ate last night.  (She has a habit of trying people food when made available--when not, she has been known to sample from the garbage can to accommodate her insatiable appetite.)

Today was a day of relaxation and watching NFL football games on TV.

Lola slept on her sheepskin
most of the afternoon.

A reflection of the hallway and
kitchen from the glass in
our bedroom door.

Monday, September 22

This morning's outside temperature was rather mild by recent standards--the low was 47 degrees.  After taking a shower this morning, Kali was sitting on the toilet seat beside the shower curtain, waiting for me.  (I think it is so cute when she does this!)
The best shot from Kali's photo shoot this morning.  
(I didn't focus on her eyes very well though.  She
wouldn't sit still for very long. I have to work
on this more--next time using my
faster 85mm f1.4 lens.)

We decided to drive to La Comer (the supermarket) this morning to get some things we still needed for our Thanksgiving dinner and some regular groceries.  We invited Christine, the Polish lady from downstairs, to join us for Thanksgiving dinner.


Early in the afternoon, getting back to my photography and working with the wide angle shot I took for research, I cropped the rough image to obtain the approximate image I wanted in the end.

By including the lock, the fact that it was a "door"
bell became more evident.  However, I needed 
to show a little more space to the left.  (I 
estimated that a focal length between 
 24 and 30mm would be required.)

At this point, I knew the range of focal length (24 to 30mm), the f-stop (between f8 and f11), and the shutter speed (>1/125 sec.).  With this information, I took more photographs in the afternoon, the best of which follows:

In this version, I brought out the wood grain in
the door and added some saturation. In
this image I used 65mm, f11, 450 ISO,
+1 EV, and 1/60 sec shutter speed.

Time of day was still a variable to be considered to make the best possible photograph.  I took the above photograph at 2:45 PM on a partly cloudy day, which wasn't bad but I'll try a few different possibilities before completing this effort.

That's all for now...thanks for following our blog!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

November Dirt Dwellers in SMA

—Blogpost written by Bob 

In this blogpost, we continue our 6-month winter excursion in San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Mexico.  We arrived by car on October 15, traveling from near Annapolis, Maryland where we live on our sailboat.  This has been quite a change in our life style!

Monday, November 15

Today was the day for Kali's surgery for neutering.  She had to fast for 8 hours before her surgery and that was tough for her--she couldn't understand why she wasn't being fed in the morning.  This was probably as tough on me (worrying about her) as it was on her.

We drove to the vet’s office (and I use that term loosely)—it was in an industrial building which seemed anything but a medical facility.  I had visions of the vet selling removed animal parts to nearby taco stands.  This ugly vision made me worry about Kali in the near term and affected my view of taco stands permanently.

The outside of the vet's facility looked like
 the other nearby industrial buildings.
(Note the cross on the roof.)

A courtyard opened up immediately inside
the front door of the vet's facility.

Against my better judgement, we dropped her off and we were told the cost would be 1800 Mexican pesos (about $90 USD) and we found out that credit cards were acceptable forms of payment.  They said she should be ready about 2 PM (earlier than the 4 PM previously stated on the phone).  

We spent most of the morning grocery shopping at La Comer (about 2 blocks away from the vet's facility), focusing on many items we missed previously but I couldn’t help worrying about Kali.

Fresh papayas for sale
at La Comer.

We went to Mario’s for lunch, a very short drive from La Comer.  Today, we met Mario, the owner.

Mario, the owner of Mario's Mariscos
Frescos, with Maggie at
lunch today.

Mario mentioned to us that we should visit Mazatlan, spending two days to get there (staying overnight in Guadalajara).  We thought about it awhile and decided to spend the week before Christmas there as one of our side trips.  (Another week-long side trip we were considering making was to Puerto Vallarta in February.)

A colorful image from inside Mario's
involved reflections from many
different surfaces.

This painting of a swordfish was painted
on a simple piece of 1/2-inch
thick plywood.

After stopping again at La Comer to buy some frozen items, we drove back to the vet’s facility and we were there nearly an hour early.  We were anxious to pick up Kali!

When we walked into the vet's facility we were able to meet the vet and get personalized instruction about Kali's recovery.  He pointed out that he expected a male this morning based on Maggie's instruction (using the word "castrado" for the operation) and that is why the surgery cost more than originally quoted.  (The total cost was 2200 Mexican pesos or about $110 USD.)  

After meeting and talking with the vet, that ugly vision I had previously (about him selling animal parts to taco stands) went away.  He was a younger (Mexican) man in his thirties or forties and spoke excellent English.  He was very professional and his care about the animals he treated was evident.

We had to keep Kali in her carrier for 2 more hours after getting home.  She was heavily medicated but kept trying to get out of her carrier.  After leaving the required 2 hours of confinement, Kali couldn’t get enough of our attention.  She would alternate her (desperate) needs for attention between Maggie and I.  Her pupils were still dilated, apparently from the medication, and she was quite active throughout the evening, considering what she had gone through.  Later at night, she came in to sleep between us on the bed.  (In some strange way, Kali became emotionally closer to us today.)

Tuesday, November 16

When we woke up at 7 AM, the outside temperature was only 37 degrees!  Still, the outside temperature was expected the reach the mid 70's in the afternoon.  (The weather report actually listed a 2% chance of rain today.)

We didn't have anything planned for the day because of Kali's recent surgery.  We went out for lunch at el Grandpa & Son Burgers and had delicious hot dogs, even though that may sound strange--it was one of our days of craving food from back home. 

The sign above the restaurant
where we ate lunch.

I look like a tired old man in this photo and
like I'm contemplating something
serious just after lunch.

At lunch we decided to take a taxi to the Tuesday Market.  The Tuesday Market is like a large collection of individual flea markets.

The massive structure housed all
types of vendor displays.

Most of the stalls involves
clothing or grocery items.

Mexicans are fans of American clothing.

Colorful baseball caps
covered an entire wall.

Lots of colorful bags at one stall--Maggie
must not have seen this one!

Maggie dug through this mass of Christmas
ribbon to find enough to hang
our Christmas lights.

We took a public bus home from
the Tuesday Market--it was
standing room only.

We got home sometime after 3 PM and we were beat, mostly from standing through the 45-minute long bus ride home.  The Tuesday Market was simply overwhelming for me while Maggie can usually shop until she drops!  We purchased some needed shoe laces, an extension cord, and Christmas ribbon.

In the early evening, Lola knocked my camera off the desk and onto the tile floor in the living room, about a 3-foot drop.  The glass in the filter shattered into a million pieces and I was faced with removing another filter frame--this time on my 20mm wide angle lens (which was attached to my camera at the time).

Wednesday, November 17

This morning we were up early to take a taxi to the bus station and catch our 7:30 AM bus to Leon for our planned day trip.  I decided not to take my big camera and save the wear and tear on my body a little bit.  It was very cold in the morning as we rode in the taxi and waited for the bus at the bus station.  (I guessed that the outside temperature was in the upper 30's.)


We have always enjoyed traveling by luxury buses in Mexico and today's trip was no different.  The Primera Plus bus we were riding on was manufactured by Scania--the parent company of Saab.  The bus left on schedule at 7:50 AM and stopped at the Guanajuato bus station on the way to Leon.  (Guanajuato was a little more than half way to Leon.)

When we got to the Leon bus station, we hailed a taxi to take us to the designer (his name was Xavier and he was the exhibitor at the recent Alternative Design Bazaar) of the shoes I wanted to buy.  We met him at his very modern house in the hills above the city--it was beautiful!

After I purchased my new pair of shoes and a leather camera strap, Xavier drove us back downtown and gave us a tour around Leon's beautiful historic center.  The historic buildings were preserved as in other cities but the streets were improved far beyond the cobble stone streets in San Miguel--this was such a welcome change. 


While the historic section of Leon is very old and small (several blocks long), the city is quite modern and has a population of nearly 2 million people.  (We marveled at the modern walk signals at the intersections in the city, equal or better than most equivalent U.S. cities.)  Most of the cars we saw were small Chevy's, Nissans, VW's, or the like.  There were some BMW's and Volvo's.


Xavier dropped us off at a very nice hotel (Hotsson) for lunch--this very modern hotel was within a couple blocks of the bus station. 

Maggie looking at the restaurant's
menu (by using the QR code
reader) on her cell phone.

We ate outside on a sort of veranda within sight of an old red church.  The hotel pool was also nearby on this (second) level of the hotel.  (We decided that if one of us found out we only had a month to live, we would want to live our last month at this hotel.)

This red church was located adjacent to the
hotel's veranda where we had lunch.

From the hotel, we walked several blocks in this thoroughly modern city to "Zona Piel" (where all the leather shops are located) and the bus station (which are in very close proximity to one another).  We walked around "Zona Piel" for probably two to three hours.

A photo looking down just one of the
several streets of "Zona Piel."

A display of shoes in just one of the several
thousand leather shops in "Zona Piel."

Where there are many shoppers,
there had to be taco stands.

We were good consumers for the Mexican economy as Maggie purchased two purses, a pair of shoes, and a few other little things.  (In a way, it seemed like we were spending monopoly money since $1 USD was currently equal to 20 Mexican pesos.)


We got back to the bus station in plenty of time to make the scheduled 3:50 PM departure.  (Our temperature was checked three different times while in the Leon bus station because of COVID-19 and, of course, all passengers had to wear face masks.)

As the bus made its way back to San Miguel de Allende via Guanajuato, most of the trip was through "high desert" terrain with occasional corn fields and villages.  (At the time, corn was just past harvesting in one of the three growing seasons of this area of Mexico.  Corn stalks were being plowed under the soil to increase the soil's fertility.)

A photo I took with my iPhone out the window
of the bus on our return to San Miguel de
Allende.  (This scene was typical of
"high desert" terrain of Mexico's
central highlands.)

It was dark outside when (six-ish) we got back to San Miguel de Allende.  By the time we completed our taxi ride back to our apartment, it was a long day for us old folks.  We had a drink, warmed up a frozen pizza for dinner, and went to bed soon after.

Thursday, November 18

Today was a day of playing catch up in a way.  We caught up on our rest for sure.  One of the things we accomplished today was setting up a procedure for getting packages delivered from the U.S.  Almost everything we need to get from the U.S. will arrive in packages.

I purchased a (used) Nikon 35-70mm f2.8D
lens on eBay today--hopefully, it will
become my everyday lens.

Another accomplishment for me today was installing my new leather camera strap on my Nikon D750 camera.  Every time I picked up my camera today, it had the pleasant smell of leather.


I also had our collection of mail sent from Green Cove Springs FL to our new address in Laredo TX and forwarded to us here in San Miguel de Allende.

One of the beautiful houses that we noticed
on our short outing today.

Kali trying to keep warm today.

We also finalized our arrangements for our trip to Mazatlan just before Christmas...more on this later...

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