We knew that The Millennium was going to usher in changes! All during the closing years of the Nineteen Hundreds, we wondered what the Y2K Year would bring. We dared to believe that the Prophecies about ¨The Fiery End Of The World¨ were incorrect. And, right at first, that seemed to be so. No big deal! The Year 2000… already twenty years ago, now….. seemed to be, quietly. just like all the others.
But, how about now? The planet has been in Lockdown since March, 2020! Travel ability is not taken for granted any more, as airlines, hotels, motels and many universal businesses have failed or drastically reduced their services. And, if you are one of the “Lucky Ones” to snag a spot on an international transport, you may just pay with your life, if you get exposed to someone breathing out live, invisible, Covid 19 viruses.
We are all wearing face masks these days and trying not to get too close to one another. Holiday tables don´t swell with our beloved family members and our turkey dinners seem much more everyday than ever! It´s been a hundred years since Planet Earth went through our last global plague and we certainly weren´t the travelers, then, that we are now. Wind-driven, four-masters were mostly filled with merchants back then. Maybe they could outrun the scope, or the timing, of the infection, if some countries had no problems? Now, it´s inescapably present, all over the planet and covered by CNN; though we are not exposing ourselves to international contamination simply by watching TV.
Where does it lead? Where and when will it end? Nobody knows and everybody is in this together. And yet, there´s an overall cheerfulness and calm among us. Have you noticed that? A quiet confidence or easy behavior. It’s simply too big to panic about. Wear the masks! Wash the hands! Sit and stand apart! And get on with business! And Life!
How many periods in history, has the entire world´s population experienced the exact same thing at the exact same time?
¨Never before!¨ is the answer to that innocent question. How can it be happening now? It defies all expectation and such a reality could never have been forced upon us by any dictator´s command or intention.
And how could it be conceived that our failure to respond and conform could very well lead to a sudden and inevitable death? Ours and others! Such a practice would be eliminated swiftly and made criminal in the future.
- Failure to wear a facemask!
- Failure to carefully wash your hands…frequently!
- Failure to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing!
Yet, these three deadly sins could cause sickness and/or death to your own family members and people throughout your township right now. No matter where you might be on the planet! Coronavirus, or Covid 19, is a universal, planetary danger that just flew in from unknown parts of the cosmos to surround Planet Earth in an oh, so moderate form: an invisible saliva spray! Earthlings have always exchanged saliva rather freely. Voluntarily, or not! In crowds or couples! Harshly, or familiarly!
In whatever language…. no problemo! Parties, bars, ballgames, restaurants! Wherever people have fun!
Or, what about this? What cheaper a time to go to war? Countries could just send unarmed soldiers out to breathe in each other´s faces. No need for ammunition. Except, that then, they risk friendships forming and there goes the aggression idea, right there. How many wars have failed to materialize simply because the G.I.s of both sides shared a campfire on a cold night? Separation is the only way to fan the fear and foreboding.
Why, in this new Covid thing, the aerosol spit factor would even seem to be much less dangerous than the other, well-known Black Plague Spreader: the common Black Fly! At the moment, my kitchen is hosting at least six of these wily pests, which are surviving my attempted flyswatting and bug-spray-elimination techniques. At least, flies are not likely to kill me within the next so-many hours. I can´t stand to live with them! They make my skin creep! Life is not acceptable with even one big, black fly spreading its invisible filth around. But, death? To me? Not that likely. We don´t panic in their presence and we try not to make utter fools of ourselves when trying to accurately wield our little bright blue, plastic fly swatter.
And yet, we could die in our sleep…. or cause someone else to…… simply by failing to mask in public! What is this world coming to?
And that, in my opinion, is the great and puzzling Conundrum of the Twentieth Century! We expected ¨something¨ to happen at The Millennium, for sure! And when it didn´t materialize, well, we knew it really would come about in 2012, didn´t we? Didn´t happen then, either.
At last! Here it is, in late 2020! Spectacular? Gargantuan? Ummmm, nope!
But, this? Covid 19? Can’t it count into the Twenties, for goodness sakes! Understated! Coming in on a whisper! A masked whisper, at that! It´s even LESS than a Black Fly Plague!
How´s that gonna look onstage? Julius Caesar going to battle against a sneeze? Not hardly!
What is it about World Travel that brings out the worst characteristics in some Americans? More accurately, in some females from the United States. Shakespeare called them “Shrews!” I have found one I´d like to shed. Or tame! Fortunately, I haven´t encountered as many Wanna-be-Trumps among the men out here on the trail, though I have no doubt that they exist. This self-centeredness is, surely, the reason for many unfortunate, knee-jerk, negative opinions of Americans in other parts of the world.
Luckily, I don´t join group tours; although I used to lead them throughout the Soviet Union in the 1990´s. Cruises and tour groups seem to attract an over-abundance of Miss Prisses, since that type requires such constant personal service and catering-to.
Now that I am lingering here in Mexico, it´s not surprising that I have encountered this strange, entitled attitude, so close to the U.S. borders. Not that my home country produces any more Narcissists than other lands. Simply, that more of us leave home to travel.
Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, let´s examine a much more desirable and positive topic: Spiritual Enlightenment. I highly recommend the excellent book: ¨Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damndest Thing¨ by Jed McKenna. He succeeds in defining for me, Nirvana, the goal of spiritual enlightenment, as: Nothingness, Emptiness, Lack of Input or Stimulus!!!
So, instead of achieving anything; the inner trail leads to nothing! Rather, quietness, rest, attainment, RETIREMENT! In other words, the goal that we seekers actually accomplish is similar to what a climber of a cliff or a mountainside, finds upon ¨topping out: ¨ flatness! Nothing more to achieve! The end of the trail!
That´s the damndest thing!
Or, here´s another existential discovery that might be awaiting us in a new place:
How many of us have, at long last, erected a dream home on that cherished property we snagged so long ago? Only to discover that it´s not quite up to our expectations? Reality fades in the light of personal examination. Sort of like realizing that it was your long-dead spouse´s idea all along. And you never made any plans of your own?
And here´s the biggie of private, existential questions: Can one even hope to have an original idea about your future at the age of Eighty and beyond?
Well, why don´t you just decide to find out?
Avoid the Narcs!
Buy a ticket to a new country!
Rent a place!
Or, better yet….. sign up for Housesitting or Petsitting somewhere in the world!
I´ve done all that! And so can you!
We are a small community of about twenty Expats, couples and singles, from England, Canada and the US. Each each of us has our own complete apartment. But, six days a week, breakfast and dinner are served in a beautiful dining room. There is also a separate library containing a large variety of beautiful books. Because of the careful precautions in cleaning and limited entry, we are very safe from the current virus infections. Right now, no one in Mexico is free to walk about. But in the future, this forested lakefront will again be available for strolls.
Pets are allowed and I have always wished that my traveling lifestyle permitted me to have a small doggie. There are several here so I borrow hugs.
But, voila! Here´s a solution I´ll bet you´ve never thought of!: My bathroom is the residence of Soda, the Denver family´s Golden Retriever, who recently had to be put down due to old age. He suddenly appeared in my washcloth here.
Now, he´s beginning to speak Spanish; often telling me to “Get into the shower! Now!”
I simply reply: “Oh go jump in the lake!”
Well, we´re all supposed to “Spring Forward” in April! Looks like I´ve already done that in March by moving permanently to Mexico! Plus,in April we will move our clocks forward. May we also, as a planet, successfully move forward through these testing times and come out happily at the other end!
I´m making a New Year Resolution to blog more frequently on both of these blog sites, now that I have truly Retired from my constant, around-the-world, travel life. Formerly, I have called myself a Road Warrior…. always on the move as I exhausted one country´s visa length after another. Though I had rented for six months, through June, 2020, (and then abandoned…see my previous blog) an apartment in Colonia, Uruguay, my more frequent housing solution, anywhere in the world, has been hostel living.
Now, I have a large, beautifully-furnished, one bedroom private apartment within a lovely retirement community called The Penthouse. We are only a block from the extensive shore of Lake Chapala, just outside of the tiny town of Ajjic, Mexico. That´s only an hour from the international airport of Guadalajara. So, I´m within reach of everything and am only a four-hour, direct flight from my family in Denver.
At twenty residents here, we seniors are all family, as well. We enjoy two bounteous and delicious meals in the lovely dining room together: breakfast at 9 am and dinner at 5 pm, every day except Sunday. I barely have time to get hungry in between meals, so, I also enjoy my creative day off to use my own kitchen on my own timeframe.
The kitchen has become my office, as well. Because the generous, dining table is a most adequate typing space, with windows overlooking the massive, skyblue swimming pool in the side yard. Sometimes, work on typing up my next manuscript, screenplay or blog, gets interrupted when I hear my new friends splashing around in the late afternoon sun. They sound almost like kids and I am tempted to pop on my suit and go join them. We´re gradually getting acquainted in catch-as-catch-can conversations. There are a few couples, but most of us are singles. Very USA-similar, all English-speaking. In stark contrast to the international. younger population of hosteling backpackers, who also spoke English but with a variety of accents, backgrounds and travel plans. I´m not quite the oldest one here, however; and happy I am to turn over that crown to 95-year-old Pauline!
So, what else is new? COVID 19! Coronavirus 19 is new! In every country of the planet…. Instantly! That´s what!
No one is permitted to freely world travel any more unless they have an emergency! In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined how to make world-wide, compulsive handwashing mandatory! But, so it has become! Nor, could we have foreseen the serious factors: sudden illness, massive deaths, loss of jobs and fortunes, irrespective of country or climate. ALREADY! In just a few weeks!
Even if the virus dates as far back as January this year, nobody took it that seriously until early March. Jennifer and I had no compunction about flying to Mexico on March 9, to check me in here at The Penthouse. We did carry face masks just in case we needed them and we were wary if we heard coughing. Nor had The Penthouse, at that time, gone on lockdown! I might not have been accepted to fill their only vacancy if it had been even one week later. Terms like Social Distancing, Self-Quarantine, or Six Feet Apart, were not yet trends. But that rapidly changed during those middle days of March.
I even saw a new face here after my initial three weeks had passed! My arrival had sent her into isolation, just in case. All of us in the world have to think like this now, and we do not even leave our compound unless we have some emergency. We certainly don´t mind our Lockdown. This is a mighty cosy and loving place to live through the Lockdown stages!
Note: I have taken lots of gorgeous photos but they are on the cell phone. Soon I´ll figure out how to post them here. In the meantime….. Stay tuned!
In my January post, I was writing from Uruguay about settling into a one-bedroom apartment for six months in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, on the Rio de la Plata, across from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to do some serious writing. Then, recently, quite without warning, I contacted my daughter, in Golden, Colorado, about a surprising new health symptom and decided to fly back to The States to make sure that this was not an escalating problem. So, I ignored my paid-in-advance-till-June, rent; and bought a one-way flight to Denver.
I had moved into this one-bedroom, half-furnished and half-painted apartment, planning to tough it out during the renovation and kitchen-equipping and even to help the new family owners decorate it to make an attractive, cozy living spot. I had even bought beautiful fabrics for curtains and a sofa coverlet. But, I´m sure that they would not want me to land on their plate with a sudden brain aneurysm if things went any further south for me. Hopefully, they can re-rent it and return my unused portion of the rent which I have paid through June.
That apartment was to be my cloistered workspace for the suitcaseful of culled journal pages that I was planning to compile into my fifth published book. However, just preliminary to this sudden brain change, I had taken my first look at this massive amount of handwritten metaphysical material and decided that I was just too tired to deal with it all. Ever! Plus, that third heavy suitcase had been a literal, real drag, all along. Impulsively, leaving the papers sorted by subject in their ziplock baggies, I stuffed them into black garbage bags. My landlord, Marcelo Monferrato and his grown son, Rocco, interupted my trip to the nearby dumpster.
Rocco, a writer, took an immediate interest in seeing what he could do with such unusual material if I, sincerely, didn´t want it. With a handshake and a recognition of a fellow-author and his true interest, I turned the bags over to him. One day, he might craft them into a book that others can read, just as my previous journals have become. At least, they have lived to see the morrow. Maybe? Which is better than a dumpster affords. It´s all up to Rocco and I may never hear of their survival. Both men speak excellent English and even though wife and mother, Virginia, speaks only Spanish, she was so sweet to me. I will miss them all. None of us were expecting this sudden conclusion. But, maybe I have spared them an even worse experience if I had become incapacitated within their property.
However, I did do the right thing to hurry home. My left brain ¨felt funny¨ and that eye seemed somewhat swollen, after an odd and invisible bump on the head . Was it a psychic ¨thunk¨ I had felt on my eyebrow? Nothing in my physical or metaphysical past had prepared me for that. So, after consulting with my best friend and experienced world traveler, Fawn Germer, in Florida, and my daughter, Jennifer, in Colorado, we all agreed that I should come home to sort my future out. It´s foolhardy to expect that warning signs might just disappear if one ignores them and sometimes the window of opportunity can be very brief. One does what one must!
My symptoms had begun to even out by the time I landed here, but Jen tells me that I was speaking and thinking more slowly than usual. We began to talk of my retirement from this freeform traveling life, however; and she put in her best computer skills to locate an attractive retirement facility for me to settle into. After that clear warning signal on my noggin, I was sincerely ready to hang up my riding boots and retire the beloved, well-worn, world-wandering saddle.
The solution is unexpectedly wonderful! She found a retirement-home dream-come-true for me. In Mexico, no less! It will be like staying permanently on the road in a foreign country and I have already filled their last available reservation which will cost approximately half of my monthly Social Security. Jennifer and I will be traveling together to get me installed in mid-March. In the meantime, we have done much communicating with the expat owners of this beautiful Lake Chapala facility and we all feel as if we´re already dear friends. I will take you with me on this new ¨staying-still stability¨ as it plays out.
Rather than initiate medical exams for this now-self-correcting eye condition, I will wait until I am settled in Mexico for the foreseeable future. Possibly, things will prove to be as simple as a new glasses prescription. I´m enough of a world traveler to realize that medicine outside of the U.S. is just as skilled and much more affordable than here. Plus, I´ll be there for follow-up, not just on-the-fly diagnosis.
Meanwhile, I have an unexpected chance to immerse myself in my own family´s home life, here in freezing cold Denver, Rocky Mountain territory, which was 74 degrees and bare ground when I landed. But has now seen many days filled with constant snowfall and very low temperatures. It was also actual summertime for me in the Southern Hemisphere so recently. But, the family hearth and loving welcome is warm and embracing and we are all sharing in the excitement of the new possibilities which Jennifer has discovered for me…possibly, just at this rare time when they have an available suite to put me in. So, I´m signed, sealed and nearly delivered by this time!
Nothing is by accident!
I’ll admit that I haven’t posted a blog on either website for several months. But that is merely the result of life on the road! So many friends in so many hostels, that any regular computer work goes by the boards. But tomorrow I’ll sign the lease for a one-bedroom apartment in Colonia until June 22, the balance of my visa time in this country.
Thus, I can get serious about finishing the manuscript of my fifth book and writing my blogposts more regularly. All is well from my health and wealth standpoint and I have some good stuff to share.
This is a darling small town, two hours by bus from Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay; and right across the River de La Plata from Buenas Aires, Argentina. It is Florida-style, summer, weather here now. I remembered it fondly from my last visit four years ago.
I already have some translators lined up to convert my existing four books’ PDFs to both Spanish and Potuguese. Wheee!
I´m now staying in the Casa Kiwi Hostel in Medellin. Don’t worry if my emails fall to zero and my blog postings get scarce. I’m as busy as possible, learning how to use my new Lenovo laptop computer, which spoke Spanish when I bought her here. She had to be switched to English, muy pronto. Now, if only somebody will activate my switch to speak Spanish just as easily. Sigh!
My NBF (New Best Friend and fellow-hosteler), Marc Rosenberger of Germany, is teaching me how to recall the computer basics, as well as new software-use technology. So every day we cover a new lesson and then I apply it for hours while he goes to Salsa dancing class and Spanish language lessons.
I’m turning into a serious writer again, as I’m organizing jillions of journal excerpts into future ebooks. My hostel, ensuite, private room on the first floor, even provides a writing desk, so I have a fine, quiet workspace. As the holidays approach, I am feeling right at home with my hostel family…. staff and guests from all over the world.
If you have not tried hostel-traveling for yourself, I urge you to stick your toe into this very welcoming and sustainable alternative to hotel life. Full kitchen and social spaces come with your room or bunk costs.
My single, ensuite room is a splurge and very well-worth it, at $40 per night, as opposed to a dormitory bunk at $12 per night. But, I frequently stay in mixed dorms for shorter stays. Here, we have a full kitchen and social areas, such as both a pool table and a rooftop swimming pool, a large patio filled with long tables for meetings or eating together, even a cinema room for Netflix showings. All are included amenities, which is much more than you would receive at most hotels. Plus,always the everchanging fellowship of like-minded adventure travelers. What´s not to like? Why fit the plasticized mold of normal Western travelers, when you are eligible for this traveling lifestyle?
According to any country´s overall economy, you can often find great housing in the world´s hostels at well under $10 per night. I urge you to research this at www.hostelworld.com to learn your options in any country you might consider traveling in. While you´re at it, check the one-way, and round-trip, airfares at www.cheapoair.com. Then, you will see how I can afford to do this on my social security income alone. I´m 82 years old and counting. If I can do it, so can you!
And I’m feeling right at home.
I arrived in Medellin, Colombia, six weeks ago when I flew here from San Jose, Costa Rica. Luckily, I landed in the gorgeous and leafy-green neighborhood of Poblado and have sampled three lovely hostels, staying two weeks each. Now, I’m in Casa Kiwi, where I stayed ten years ago. Instead of a dorm bed, this time, I have rented a private, ensuite, room so that I can use its lovely desk to work away on my next book. One of my three suitcases is crammed full of pages culled from many of my journals. Now, I’m marking and sorting subject matter to see what this book is going to be about. The past (going back to 2000) is so very interesting and this project will fill a good bit of my future, just massaging it.
Here’s another look at some of my surroundings:
Medellin, Colombia, is a most beautiful and welcoming city! Here are some street shots I took yesterday on a walk through my hostel’s neighborhood of Poblado. It’s a part of Medellin full of green, green parks and international restaurants. I notice that some of these pictures appear sideways. Just tap on them, and the enlargement is straight. Better yet… come on over and see them in.person.
Note the brand-new, condo highrise in the background of the first picture. There are many of these beauties going up.