November 30, 2008 by rtwsenior · Leave a Comment
I was reading through the journal entries for July, 2008, four months ago, when I was right in the middle of trying to publish my book and to start my two blogs. The next trip was only a vague idea in the earliest stages. Now, so much has been finished and I’m within a month of departure on a well-conceived new trip. Here’s what I had to say:
(07-21-08) Yesterday, I freed up my workload a little bit by popping the manuscript back to Lynn, my copyeditor. At four, I went to the beach for a very long walk, almost to the end of Caladesi, so that was good and needed for exercise. During that walk, I reviewed all of the gradual levels of the creation of these things that I’m bringing into the Realm of Tangibility. I began my thinking way back at the beginning of this project’s origins: my travels to the USSR in the 1990s, which stemmed from the job I had in 1989, with US/USSR Initiatives, twenty years ago, next year. That Soviet travel set the tone for my present love of ranging about in the lesser-known places and it too, had the quality of something tangible formed out of nothing . That was not my own inventive work. I was just in on it.
Then, around the year 2000, I took some shorter trips to Hungary, Romania, Croatia, and Central America, after having already done some exploring in Mexico and in New York City. But, if I hadn’t come up with the idea (and succeeded at it) of the latest Around-The-World journey, there would have been nothing to write a book about.
Without the book, being produced in this new and labor-intensive way, there would be nothing to blog about in my two new blogs. And, without my age being what it is and getting “ageier” all along, there would be no angle or curiosity about what I do, so no hook to distinguish this from all the other travel stories – and no Social Security to make it happen.
So, I was appreciating the Layers of Life, and how the foundations are formed for a permanent structure. Soon, this intense production period will be passed and a finished book will result. It will be a hard copy, a tangible evidence of something that didn’t exist until I performed it, wrote about it, and produced it. Then, as the present becomes the past and inevitably swallows up that accomplishment, the book will serve as a new foundation for future ventures, giving me more license and credibility than I had before.
These are the slow, deliberate steps of creation which living on a planet in the material plane requires. These are the slow, deliberate steps that making a baby requires. Then soon, there results a physical evidence – a book or a baby – to live on, and to which others can relate.
There is no reason, as long as I have my health and strength, that I can’t just keep on building upon this ever-strengthening foundation well into the future, becoming more and more unique as I age. All because I set about doing it a long time back. There is really no such thing as simply waking up one day and creating something full-blown without the foundation being laid.
Oh, probably people are thrust accidentally into the spotlight or they are suddenly “discovered,” but if they manage to stay there, it’s because they happen to have been prepared for it.
November 23, 2008 by rtwsenior · Leave a Comment
I’ve had a glimmer of an idea about my approach to this exploration of the Continent of South America! Why didn’t I see this before? If ever there was a true spinal column among the landmasses of the world, this one continent stands out from all the rest. Take a look at any Physical/Topographical page in an Atlas and you will see long mountainous spines here and there. Many are small and run almost horizontally to the globe; some rise up from other elevated portions in a not-so-clear spinal statement. The North American spine is hugely thick: beginning in Alaska, culminating in the Rocky Mountains, and ending in a small squiggle at the Panama Canal.
But, oh my goodness, the Cordillera de Los Andes is the most human-looking, hunch-backed spine you will find on this planet. Well now…..how tempting is that? I shall start at the top in the soul box, (that little bump at the bottom of your neck and the top of your backbone,) which I figure is either Cartegena, Columbia, or Caracas, Venezuela, and I shall wander on down the Andes to the tip end of the spine, maybe as far down as Ushuaia, if I can get that far. Then, I will fly home from either Santiago, Chile, or Buenos Aires, Argentina, depending upon the advice of a ticketing agent I’m now working with.
When I reviewed my previous travels, with this cronky thought in mind, I learned that, again and again, I have unconsciously done this on so many world spinal columns, albeit the smaller, less obvious ones. I have started at the top and worked my way down. For instance, on my recent RTW, I started in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which marks the top of the Dinaric Alps, flowing down the Dalmation Coastline of Croatia to Athens, Greece; and I’ve gone from Mumbai, India, to Mysore along a spinal-looking ridge I hadn’t even noticed till just now. And why did I decide to go and live for two months in Fairbanks, Alaska, of all places and later in Aspen, Colorado for nine years? They are the soul box and waistline of North America, which I later finished by traveling to the tip end at the Panama Canal. See what I mean? Studying my Atlas today, I see that there are many other hidden spines, some of which I’ve also made my way along; never even thinking of the potential for critical adjustment that my feet might be missing the opportunity to make.
So now, when faced with the Mother of all Planetary Spines, how can I not tread those Spanish-speaking vertebrae in a deliberate fashion. In fact, in preparation, I shall obtain a chiropractic map of the spine and carefully grid my enormous new map, so that I know exactly which continental nerves run where and mean what. Then when I’m in the various cities, I shall stomp hard and deliberately on the sidewalks and roadways and dance barefoot on the shower stall floors, and maybe, even on the dance floors in high heels, all with the plan of making healing adjustments to a really big chunk of the world.
This sort of thinking is what adds an element of off-the-wall fun to an ordinary day of traveling…and which makes sobersided people look at me strangely. “Fiddlesticks!” is my reply to them! It sure can’t hurt and it helps me decide where to go within a collection of countries too large to cover them all in a mere four month’s time.
So now, let’s see if I can get air tickets that allow me to become the chiropractor to the world. This must be why I’ve been getting back alignments all year in order to prepare for this trip. Little did I know that it all had a deeper meaning. Little did I know that I was learning the Chiropractic Arts from the ground-side up!
November 22, 2008 by rtwsenior · Leave a Comment
Yes, my days are numbered and I’m running out of time…but not in the way you would suppose when a Senior Citizen makes such an announcement. My time pressure is all artificially-induced, at any rate. The thing is, I plan to leave in early January, 2009, on my next big exploration, and all I know at this moment is that I’ve chosen the continent of South America to bop around in, rather than the entire Southern Hemisphere.
It would actually be much easier if I had just decided to go all the way around and booked a string of one-way tickets like I did back in 2005 when I went around the upper half of the globe. Sitting at my table with maps, I picked out likely cities as entry and exit points, and then I let the chips fall where they may. It worked fairly well, though I did have to re-arrange a few flights, as well as spend big bucks to get to my take-off airport at least once, when I got down deep in Southern Turkey and needed to get to Athens so that I could fly to Cairo. The ferries I’d counted on had stopped running a few weeks before, so I had no choice but to fly on two expensive, last-minute bookings.
Now, I’m still dithering about which country to begin my journey in and whether to go “open jaws” instead of round trip. It’s such a huge landmass and I don’t want to miss anything, but at this point, I’m beginning to counsel myself to take it easy and not bite off too much. Shall I enter in Columbia, which someone has recently raved about, and then take on Ecuador, Peru and Chile? Or shall I hop onto a cruise ship going around the horn from Santiago, Chile to Buenas Aires, Argentina, offering the trip at 75% off? That would mean skipping all of those interesting sites farther north.
Brazil is rapidly falling off my list for this trip because they have sticky visa requirements for U.S. citizens. We must have angered their government by charging $130 for Brazilians to enter the U.S., so they are, quite understandably, soaking us for the same amount when we come to their country. They charge other nationals $35 and $40 and some don’t need any. Americans now can feel some of the border injustice that we so cavalierly dole out. My problem is that I don’t have time, at this late date, to send off my passport and application to our Brazilian Embassy, as it can take as long as six weeks and it must be obtained before one enters South America. I was planning to apply in Argentina, like I got my India visa in Egypt, but that doesn’t cut the mustard in this case. So, it looks as if me and Brazil are not going to get cozy on this trip.
I owe all this knowledge to our local Book Club. Someone mentioned that Brazil required a visa during our chat period after they reviewed my book. That country was still unstudied by me, since it was to be late in the trip. Now I know not even to swing that far around. Oh well, if I live long enough and the “crick don’t rise…” maybe I’ll get there another day, as it’s a fine and fantastic country. Luckily, all other South American countries either don’t require a visa or will sell me one at the border.
Travelers have so many flight options these days…really information overload…and I’m learning that often you have to plug in all of your sensitive credit card data to some travel site or other, before you definitively find out whether that seat is actually available. (See my previous tale of woe about Spirit Airlines.) And yet, Spirit’s flights always pop up as the most attractive. Not just because they are the cheapest (so says the listing, anyway) but because they fly in a southward fashion all the way along and don’t require one to fly far north to Newark, New Jersey, before heading back south. Though I might eventually wind up doing it, something inside of me simply rebels at the inanity of it. Inane as far as every single factor known to man in this era of carbon footprint sensitivity, to say nothing of simple body wear and tear.
I’m also working with a very nice guy named Lucas at Exito Travel, which is what you get when you dial the number for Multi-Stop South America, 1-877-788-1311, who has been very patient through my changing itinerary ideas. Heck, I was ready to just go in on a one-way ticket and then see where I wound up when it was time to leave and purchase another one-way home over the internet, but Lucas reminded me of a fact that I had read and forgotten. Most countries won’t let you in if you don’t have a return flight home to prove that you aren’t planning to land on them permanently. Those are things that these do-it-yourself sites don’t tell you.
So, my days are numbered and I’m nervous, but I think that probably happens every time, until I can actually visualize something concrete about this most amorphous traveling style of mine.
November 18, 2008 by rtwsenior · 1 Comment
I THINK I have been through a bait & switch gambit in trying to buy my air ticket to Peru, but in today’s airfare scene, I’m not sure. Maybe, it simply represents the sonic speed with which fares either change or get snapped up. I’ll give Spirit Air the benefit of the doubt, but here are the details of my experience:
Last week, while in Denver, I received one of the BootsnAll Cheap Ticket Watch newsletters and decided to price round-trip tickets between Tampa, Florida and Lima, Peru. Ooooo! Here’s one for $450! Wow! And it was more direct than most, flying in a logical manner south to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and on to South America instead of taking me all the way up to Newark, New Jersey and back down the length of the country to finally head way south to Peru. Unbelievably, that’s the most common routing.
Anyway, I tried to buy it, only to get the information after I had entered all my credit card data, that those seats were sold out. Did I want a much more expensive one? NO! So, I backed out of that transaction.
Two days ago, through the same Boots newsletter, I tried again and Wow, oh Wow! Here’s one for Spirit Air for only $307 on both the Cheapo and the One Travel Booking site. I went with One Travel. Gee, lucky the last one didn’t work out, maybe I can snag this one. Everything was good, including a sane departure hour in the morning – 8:45 a.m. This time, it looked as if the ticket went through as my credit card data was accepted and I had my ticket information to print out…though I noticed later that the base charge was $370, not $307 as had been shown on the original information page. With airport fees added, it all came to $515, which was still a good buy.
That night, I was awakened from a sound sleep at 11:30 p.m., by a One Travel employee, telling me that there were no seats at that price. Were my dates and flight times flexible? Well, yes. So, I sleepily stayed on the phone for a very long time while he surfed Spirit Air’s schedule trying to find a seat at that price. I heard him mumble “2 a.m. departure” and also, $700, both of which I quickly vetoed. He concluded the call saying he had to talk to his superior and could he call me tomorrow? Okay. I returned to bed but had great trouble slipping back into that nice deep sleep. Thanks Buddy!
Yesterday, I noticed through online banking that the original amount was now On Hold in my bank account. Still good to go! But, later, I found an email waiting for me saying that there was a mistake and my ticketing had not gone through, as the fellow said. I never heard from him again, but called and talked to somebody else, who confirmed that Spirit Air did NOT have any seats at that price, but for an additional $100, I could buy that ticket with them.
After the similar experience of the previous week, the words Bait & Switch were resounding in my mind. However, I liked the route, time and date and authorized the increase just to get the thing settled, so that I would have my tickets at $633, which included trip insurance. It was still a good price but all day I regretted having rewarded that practice by going ahead with it.
Ha! Today, I found an email from One Travel saying that my debit card didn’t go through for that second ticket. Well, there was money in my bank, but I think the problem was their own Hold on the previous funds of more than five hundred dollars for the first ticket. A second dip-in would have clanked. I was actually relieved and, right away, called the number given and happily cancelled the whole transaction. Now, I am ticketless again, or still, but next I plan to call the airlines that Donovan suggested in the first place – Multi-stop South America at 1-877-768-1311 and see what they have to offer. I’d forgotten that suggestion but have now found it scratched on the cover of my South America on a Shoestring Lonely Planet book. Hopefully, I’m still far enough out to get a good price.
Please understand that BootsnAll had nothing to do with this pricing tactic and I’m sure that One Travel is innocent too. It must be Spirit Air’s way of getting themselves on the top listing to come up, and even their added-onto price is not that expensive. But I feel very baited after this has happened twice. Maybe, I’ll wind up cooperating with the game if everybody else insists on sending me through Newark or Houston at a higher price for the privilege but I hope I can avoid encouraging that practice.
Today, I put in the hours at the Health Department to get my innoculations up to date. I only needed a typhoid shot as those only last for two years. Next, I must get my malaria prescription. Last night, I had a delightful meeting with a local book club that had studied my new book over the past month. Tomorrow night, I will give a speech at the Dunedin Public Library, so things are very active around here, travelwise.
November 16, 2008 by rtwsenior · Leave a Comment
A few days ago, I returned from my visit to Denver, Colorado, and my daughter’s home after a good visit. Fall was definitely in the air with lower temperatures and a very gusty wind, but still a few of the gorgeous yellow and red leaves were on the trees and I loved being back in my favorite State in this country. Life moved rapidly there with my two grandchildren to keep me busy and I thought nothing at all about blogging. I did, however, get a little closer to my South American takeoff when we went, as a family, to the flagship REI store there. As an early Christmas present, they bought me a personally-fitted, 65-litre women’s REI backpack which should be much easier to manage than the huge 85-litre pack I traveled with on my last RTW trip, snatched off a shelf in a Prague sporting goods store.
I then shopped for things to fill it, and came away with classy black silk long underwear; a sun and bug-repellent white, long-sleeved shirt; Rain jacket and rain pants that fit into their own small stuff sack; socks; Amazon jungle hat; fleece overshirt; gloves and a knit cap. I’m now well outfitted as I only plan to take the essentials. Though January is summer time in the Southern Hemisphere, it will still be cold in parts of the Andes, so I have to plan for two seasons.
If you are ever in Denver, the headquarter REI store makes a surprisingly interesting spot to visit. Right downtown, it’s surrounded by river trails and parks. Inside of the rustic, open, three-story building is a climbing wall, a Starbucks, and mezzanines with departments selling every sort of outdoor equipment. They always have lots of things on sale. One gadget that I might wish I’d fallen for is an ultra-violet water purifier that you just stick into your cup for a moment and all the bacteria obligingly dies. It was $99 and my daughter talked me out of it, but it was small and portable and made sense to me. I’m still considering it.
So, now I’m back home. The house is restocked with groceries, the laundry is done, some yardwork has been initiated to plant the patio hanging ferns in the ground so they’ll survive four months of no one to water them, and I finally address the urgent matters of book and blog. After six weeks of watching Amazon.com for the arrival of my book and seeing nothing, I finally inquired of my printers, Lightning Source. It seems that the proper forms had not been filled out and submitted. Woops! After signing contracts for the US and UK and faxing them in, I’m hoping that my book is, at last, in the lineup for online sales over Amazon.com. Unfortunately, this means another four to six week delay and it’s not likely to appear until the end of the year.
Sigh! If I’d been a real hotshot about publicity, as I’d originally hoped to be, it would have been somewhat wasted as this blog remains the only national source for the book, so far. Ah well, when I return from this next junket, I’ll try again and have even more to talk about, so that’s okay. I’m easy! From now until about January 7th, when I hope to fly to Lima, Peru, this blog will detail my preparations for my four-month exploration of the South American continent, since I have decided that four months is not a long enough period to attempt another around-the-world circle of the globe. It’s going to be a slower and more thorough examination of those lands down there, working my way around those large continents, piecemeal, as I find that I can leave my home responsibilities behind for awhile. Eventually, I will have it sewn up in the same way as the easier northern half. Like I say, I’m easy!
November 1, 2008 by rtwsenior · Leave a Comment
I am on the eve of a Take-off. Well, tomorrow is my last day at home and then I must leave for the airport before 6 a.m. on Monday morning. And yes, this is also a solo flight, as far as that goes. I am heading to Denver, Colorado, for a visit with my darling family. My daughter and son-in-law, and two wonderful grandchildren who live there, now much closer than when they resided for five years in Northern Ireland.
Even so, being in the same country again has not increased our visiting time. It’s been a year-and-a-half since I traveled to Colorado and almost seven months since they came here. So, the Big World Traveler has been a stay-at-home for quite awhile, mainly because my son needs me to be nearby as his lifelong disability makes it impossible for him to live alone. Though he managed well during my year away, now, a week gone is about all I think is fair to ask of him these days. That’s why my upcoming assault on the Southern Hemisphere is to be only four months long. Our snowbird neighbors will be nearby and they can help him and cover for me while I’m away.
Speaking of that trip, my dining room table is full of maps and guidebooks as I pore over them trying to figure out in advance the best way to tackle that continent. Some countries sing to me and others don’t. That’s how the proposed route shapes up in my head while I decide where to go. I’m in the plate-spinning stages right now, juggling the question of airline tickets, booster inoculations, new and more-appropriate (ie: fitted to my body, not snatched off the shelf) backpack; lightweight travel clothing snapped up from thrift shop racks; starter money supply, dentist appointments, medical check-ups, and whatever else my list will acquire.
Meanwhile, my high expectations on book and blog popularity are not exactly panning out…partly because I am deciding that they are not at the center of my universe and time will ripen us all to a much more attractive bloom. The book still hasn’t shown up on the Amazon.com lists, but I am assured that it is still wending its way through their system. Until that happens, the press releases that I send out look a little hollow. Some have borne fruit anyway as the TV interview here will show, and others have probably become lost in the pre-election hullaballoo. I will keep trying, but nowadays, I realize that I might be already busy on my next big trip by the time any big interviews or speaking engagements wish to land upon my calendar.
Things always work out for the best, and the other day, I thought up the best slogan for me these days: “This Hippy-come-lately isn’t really looking for fame, fortune, and a new career as an Author/Speaker.” I’m still into the easy-going, laidback life of a world traveler. As well as being the best Mother/Grandmother/Journal Writer/True Philosopher/Happy Human Being that I have time to be!