I flew here from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to attend Molly’s high school graduation and many gala affairs surrounding that, including a pool party and a theater fundraiser.
As part of my two weeks’ family visit, we attended two fantastic theatrical, performances of the 30th Anniversary Musical of Phamaly (Family) Theater for physically-disabled actors. My grandaughter, who has a very rare genetic chromosome disorder found in only 34 people in the world, has been a dedicated actor for several years. The very talented cast uses wheelchairs, walkers and canes but they are polished and professional. What a show! This is the only such theatrical company in the United States and they have traveled as far as Japan to perform.
On Tuesday, June 4, I fly to Tampa, Florida, to visit my sister and brothet-in-law, Ann and Bill Sargent, and after a week, I’ll fly to San Jose, Costa Rica, for a convention and six weeks of pet sitting. I’m anxious to return to the Land of Pura Vida.
I see that I have neglected to blog for several weeks. The reason is that I have settled into a routine these days and work at my computer more than I circulate around town, so I have very little to report on this blog about the exciting adventures I’m having. I do miss the”Action” and realize that I am guilty of all the things I’m about to vent upon, here in my newly-resumed, Expat traveling life. But, living this way, I know that I’m behaving very Gringo and I look forward to the time that I can relax back from that.
When I arrived in this lovely Colonial Mexican mountain town of San Miguel de Allende, I stayed in a lovely new hostel and truly enjoyed the friendly ambiance of a changing company of travelers to get acquainted with. However, I intended to stay several months and soon found Sassha Lambert, formerly of the Seattle area, who was looking for a roommate. We easily became new best friends in a fancy, gated community, an easy walk from the center of town. I had many lovely days getting acquainted with this charming city and with a few of the other Expats as I met them in the cafe hangout within the Biblioteca: the Library, or at various public meetings, theaters, and programs, such as Open Mike Night.
However, my suitcase was made heavy with eight looseleaf or composition books which have served as my journals over the past year-and-a-half. These have accumulated while I postponed the inevitable secretarial attention they needed to reduce them to typed, electronic copies. Previous efforts along these lines have produced my four published books and I never know what’s hidden in my pages of hastily-scribbled or deeply-pondered life revelations. So, every few years, I must become a hermit to find out.
Well, Christmas is coming and December became the natural month for Sassha to fly north to visit her family, leaving me the whole apartment to set up shop in and to spend six-to-eight hours a day, typing away. I’m dispatching these babies at the rate of one journal every three or four days. That’s fast, let me tell you! It amounts to making a full-time job out of holing up in this apartment and taking a lunch break for errands or cafe meals. I figure I’ll be finished by the time Sassha returns in three weeks.
Of course, this sudden drop in my social life…. such as it was, or could be….. has left me analyzing the state of affairs as a foreigner, surrounded by thousands of other English-speakers, most of whom are strangers to me. Theoretically, out of our native land, we would joyfully greet each other and trade our most intimate information on first meeting, simply because we’re all in the same boat. This is sort of an expansion on the philosophy behind hostel sociability. Nobody’s a stranger!
I like that and my first expat experience in Montevideo, Uruguay, did not disappoint. It’s a small country, with a small and modern capital city and a correspondingly small expat community. Plus, we had an energetic local organizer, Sonia Duarte, whose contribution I couldn’t then appreciate; but do now. She was young and beautiful, with two small sons, but she was very involved in our lives and plans for meeting for lunches and other events. I never found that level of participation in either Cuenca, Ecuador or Cusco, Peru or here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. And I can now realize what a blessing she is.
Being so close to the United States, this city naturally has a huge Expat community and they accomplish many good things in charitable activities to benefit women and children, therefore giving them plenty of time to meet for sponsoring and volunteering together and in the community. But, it’s probably best to be a long-term expat to do that, and I will soon be moving on. I also understand there’s a regular lady’s luncheon which I really must look into, just to become more pro-active in making friends around here.
However, I have lived most of my life in Florida and have watched the regular Snowbirds come and go. Even though, they were part-time, once they had settled into their condo, they had the same, clubby characteristics that all of us do in the States. Frequently, we don’t even know our neighbors if they live a few houses down, rather than right next door. We drive everywhere and closet ourselves into hermetically-sealed houses, with thousands of us living in a subdivision and yet, never speaking to each other.
This is the exact same situation in this fancy, gated community I’m living in right now. We are all hiding behind doors. How many sit compulsively at their computers all day with our minds far away, corresponding with friends and relative we’ve left behind? Or in my case, re-experiencing moments with those I may have met on the travel trail many months ago, through a long-forgotten but nicely-journaled event? And, in the evenings, everyone is better informed about TV contestants on The Voice, than they are about what happens right here in this Mexican town.
I think that everyone is truly friendly and would be willing to stop and chat, but things work against that. We have no mingling place, no reason to gather when there’s time to linger. If we pass each other out doors, we have a mission or a timeframe and simply smile and continue on; or exchange names and hometowns and say goodbye. It’s the same as our life in the States, replicated here. We’re simply Snowbirds and not exactly Expats.
I guess the bottom line is that I’m lonely in my dedicated Writer’s Life. This too, shall pass!
My apologies, friends, if you’ve found the same post on both of my websites and Facebook, as well. Hey, it is what it is! I promise to try to divide my Traveling Self and my Spiritual Self sometime in the future again. But the good news is, that they are beginning to discover each other. Can you imagine that? Actually, the following directly relates to my Travels, but I have posted it on my woo-woo website: http://www.insecretdiffusion.com, too; as it mentions spirituality too. Neato!
I’m certainly not answering these Bootsn’all Around-the-world, Challenge Questions promptly, but I am paying attention to them as they hit my inbox daily. So, here is a collection of a week’s worth of wonderful and thoughtful questions posed to those of us out on the world trail and those who are planning to go pretty soon.
#23 How is Slowing Down The Best Way to Travel? – During each new Around-The-World (RTW) trip…. this is my third…. I have slowed down more and more. The last two amounted to a year apiece, with less and less advance planning. For my first, I bought six-month’s worth of one-way tickets at a time. For the second, and this one, I snag last minute, bargain, one-way, airfare; letting availability determine my departure time and direction. Plus, I forget about all such details until my visa limitation forces me to move across a border.
Within a country, I may stay in one town the whole time, not feeling any inclination to swan about, touristing. That has happened here in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I’ve hunkered down for a stretchy-sided, duration, morphing into some sort of permanence, like all my fellow expat Gringos. Leaving doesn’t have to appear on my agenda for another five months.
#24 Do You do Creative Cooking On The Road? – I don’t indulge in the cooking side of things; only the consumption, and that is most extremely delightful. Sassha, my apartment roommate, is a genuine creative artist of a cook and it’s fun to see how the other half lives. It’s also comforting to know that the causes are genetic. There’s a balance between humans and we each need each other to create and consume. Travel provides our ever-changing landscape, full of raw materials for eager cooks and hungry feasters.
#25 Do You Work While Traveling? Do You Make Money On The Road?
No, I don’t. Because I have a dependable Social Security deposit regularly refilling my bank account and because life outside of the U.S. isn’t as expensive, I can manage without finding supplemental income. I’m attracted to the idea of photoshopping and posting my travel photos on the istock sites and selling them in a passive income stream, but I haven’t taken the steps yet to set that up.
#26 What Are Your Tricks For Staying Healthy? Have You Ever Gotten Sick On The Road?
I follow the same routine of eating fresh, organic food whenever possible. I don’t overeat, and certainly, have never smoked. Exercise comes naturally, by walking miles on cobblestones. Plus, I’m a sleeper and napper of the Early-To-Bed variety. Other than a few colds, I’ve escaped any real problems.
#27 – How Does Exploring A New Place Affect You? Physically, Mentally, Spiritually?
You may as well be asking: “How Does Life Feel?” Being in new places comes so naturally to me that this is when I feel in balance. Whenever I become rooted to one place, that’s when things feel “off” to me. Something begins to stir and a restlessness forms within me until I finally take notice of the need to get moving again. My ancestors, on both sides, were sea captains; so this makes perfect sense to me.
I have now worked things out to be in permanent transit, as I own nothing in any particular country. The planet is my home and I feel perfectly natural everywhere. That said, I’m acutely aware of the atmosphere of certain places over others and I stay as long as I can in each one of those good-feeling spots. Then, I move on in search of others like that.
#28 – What Have You Discovered About Yourself In Your Travels? Did You Start For Discovery Or Escape? Have Your Reasons Changed Over Time?
I’ve learned that I must stay on the road in some way or another. Slow travel suits me well and I delight in staying longer in places that grab me. I love the people I meet and I love to find my Gringo Expat counterparts. They are not found at home! They are Out Here! I’m a very social person but I can also take my leave and travel alone, knowing that I’ll bond with others like myself, again, soon enough. We, Road Warriors, are sociable loners and we like each other well.
But, I also carry on a rich, Inner spiritual life, so I never feel lonely, even in the most isolated of circumstances.
Discovery and Escape are twin sisters! Maybe, you can’t have one without the other? They are the two wheels on our bicycles and are all we need to move ourselves about. My reasons feel consistent over time.
Consciously, I’m not looking for a man to share my adventures with. But, subconsciously, I probably am! Perhaps, I can sum this subject up by quoting a conversation at our women-only, Thanksgiving table yesterday. “The men our age are, either already married; or are simply looking for a Nurse With A Purse, while waiting for the Hearse!” That never was my style and surely isn’t now, even more than ever!
I want to travel, even at my very-advanced age of 78, because there is no reason not to! I’m healthy; I can afford it; and I’m adventurous and eager to satisfy my curiosity! So far, I have no alternatives and can’t imagine ever wanting one.
But, I will adjust if one ever discovers me. I view death as merely a passport to enter a country I can’t access otherwise; so I’m always eager to finally access that Far Shore. In the meantime, this planet is plenty for me!
November 10, Bootsnall Indie Travel Challenge Question:
Managing Traveling Money & Tips on RTW Money Matters
Money management is really easy when one has a very fine Social Security income, few personal expenses and simple tastes. That formula works for everyone, everywhere. But, I make things even easier on myself by also carrying a credit card with a high credit limit. My largest expenses are the occasional air flights between countries and that doesn’t happen very often because I’m sometimes traveling overland, going slowly and savoring each country. Besides, life is much cheaper on the road!
Around the world trips would include not locking yourself into flights before leaving home. In other words, book travel as you go. Purchasing a long-term ticket requires thousands of dollars, up front, and freezes your options as to time and place of departure. There are always flights, anywhere. Design as you go! Pay as you go! That’s your very best money plan.
The not-so-surprising truth is that other countries offer so much more for your money than the U.S. does. Plus, for the moment, the dollar is strong against other currencies, so you get more of their pesos, meals and souvenirs now, than usual. It’s a good time to get out there and try this sort of life.
The next responsibility lies squarely upon your shoulders: Don’t act like a tourist! Sure, avail yourselves of everything, right alongside the short-term visitors, but stay out of their hotels, or even the airbnbs. Homestays, maybe, and couchsurfing, for sure, as temporary places to land. I’m hooked on hostels and I often stay for the full two-week limit. Then, I find an apartment in the Old Town, the historic portion, which puts me near restaurants, parks and plenty of sightseeing. Usually, the cost of a lovely, furnished apartment is below $500 per month, which only amounts to the same cost as a hostel dorm bed for the same period of time, though they can’t be had for long-term.
Food is the next item in your budget and the same low cost for high quality ratio will simply shock you…again and again! That’s the real reason that travelers tend to discuss costs on the road. They are either pinching themselves, or bragging!
I no longer have one foot in a house – “at home.” Why should I? I’ll only return to The States to visit family every now and then. When I left the last time, I told them it was their turn to come and visit me, wherever I might be in this beautiful world.
It’s not necessary to force myself to travel around the world just to live this lifestyle. I could settle down as a permanent expat any time I want. I can afford myself while leading a very luxurious life. For instance, I’m currently ensconced within a gated community for my $500 a month, no less. I lead such a rich life on my Social Security, alone and life overseas is broadening and, obviously, very affordable.
#DoYouIndie That’s the hashtag for these quiz questions I’m answering for Bootsn’all.com in their independent traveler challenge. Yes, I Indie!….
…….which I interpret as traveling solo all over the world. We intrepid veterans of the road are being asked a question a day for the month of November in order to pass on our wisdom to the not-yet-initiated. Here are my answers to the November 6th question:
What are your top five travel tips for new travelers before they start a trip?
- Be imaginative and don’t follow the crowd! Do you really enjoy trooping behind a tour guide’s little red umbrella? Didn’t think so. You won’t be lonely, even if you travel solo, like I do. So, get familiar with an Atlas and a globe and go for it!
3. Initiate your conversations with strangers when on the road! People are friendly and interested in your story, as you will be in theirs. Start talking, often and early. Otherwise, why bother leaving home?
4. Get comfortable with your budget. If you can live within it in the U.S, and if you can control your ongoing, at-home expenses by renting out your house, for instance; then you can probably live cheaper while you’re out on the world trail and still stay well within your budget. Hotels are expensive and boring. Hostels are four times less, have kitchens and big dining tables that encourage friendships. They also have fine rooms with double beds and ensuite bathrooms; as well as dormitory bunk rooms with shared bathrooms down the hall. And, contrary to kneejerk conclusions, they’re not noisy or full of juveniles. I know! I stay in hostel dormitories, even the mixed dorm rooms and I sleep like a baby!
5. Beware of that old wet-blanket Fear! You can’t afford it and it’s not worth the attention you might give it. Confident, well-prepared travelers deflect danger that might lie in wait for the timid. The difference is the same as that between the Captain of a ship and a steerage passenger. The first has done his homework; the latter doesn’t have a clue about the sea that surrounds him and can’t even enjoy the voyage.
So, there it is! Take charge of your life! Eat alone in restaurants , as I’m doing as I write this. Don’t worry about anything. You really can’t go wrong. You may wind up “Somewhere Else” but it will expand your comfort zone, just like our Ship Captain has learned in a few stormy seas. It’s the journey that counts!
Patricia, The Greatest Hurricane Show That (N)Ever was! Or, Stalking The Elusive Not-Yeti In Central Mexico!
Dateline by Linda J. Brown: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, the day that Hurricane Patricia didn’t exactly hit much of anything!
Well, that was NOT interesting! I’m still waiting for my date with that Brutal Beaut, so-called Patricia; but she’s a no-show. I arrived in this small, colonial, mountain town, a little over a week ago; never realizing that a brazen, climatological hussy had set her sights on central Mexico, aiming to make it her slave before swaggering on to conquer Texas.
I had me some competition! But, I wanted to conquer this country with love and friendship, not dastardly deadliness. What to do? What to do? Did she plan to wash me out? I prepared for midnight evacuation. She seemed unbeatable and the broken records said so.
This marauder gave no warning, but secretly bellied up to Mexico’s Pacific Coastline sandbars, all swagger and braggadocio; shouting about being the Biggest Hurricane In History! That audacious claim was confirmed by meters and millibars splayed about on CNN and BBC, advising preparation and/or evacuation in less-than-zero hours. This Wayward Woman came barreling onto our radar screens with six-gun shooters spewing record-breaking statistics to bust our balls and anything else she could get her hands on….. roofs, roads, beaches, bridges and muddy mountainsides.
Take no prisoners! Give no surcease! Big Mamma’s here! Bow down in worship and wonder and then, run for your lives!
So, 10,000 coastal tourists and a few lucky locals did just that, busing seven hours inland to Guadalajara, leaving beach honeymoons behind for cold gym floors. At sundown, Friday, Patreeesia staggered ashore, all red and angry orange whirlwinds on underground weather channels.
Oh, such a Bad Asp she was! Gonna give Cleopatra a run for her money in the history books, alright!
Wham, Bam, Thank you, Mam! I wondered when she’d arrive at San Miquel, halfway across the country on her stated agenda. Maybe midnight? Well, she’d surely wake me, so I went to bed. Listening with half an ear, I schlepped to the window a few times in the night to check the sugar cane. Was it bending in the wind? Was rain pelting my hotel yet? At last, the sun came up to uneventfulness. Only clouds, like far-flung scarves; or an old lady’s long, grey hair.
Ah, Patrice, have I sensed your age? Are you all bluster and fancy talk? Can you no longer Get It Up?
What? Category One? This small mountain chain took it out of you so soon? According to your press release, you were “The only Category Five to ever be! And yadda, yadda, yadda. Now, look at you! Well, forget that…..I can’t even SEE you! The sky is blue! The cane is quiet! Come on, show me whatcha’ got!”
So, I left the window, disappointed. Until, I heard the low, slow, rumble of Power approaching. Okay, that’s better! Hey, I’m from Florida. I know my hurricanes! This one hasn’t shown me a thing, so far….. but now, maybe she’ll live up to her reputation and all the press reviews. Those revving rumbles sounded weird. But good! It was time to check them out; open the window and stick my head way, far west, peering in the storm’s direction.
What? Oh no! How super silly a comeuppance! Queen P has lost her crown to a whole batch of motorcycle riders, just launching from my hotel for their daily ride!
That does it! Let’s fire up the electronics in here and get the news again….such as it is! Hardly a mention of the partycrasher, now. Just mop-up remarks like: “Non-catastrophic!” “No deaths reported!” and “Much less damage than anyone expected!”
Patricia is going out like a lamb. She’s made the record books, alright; but maybe… just maybe… that was a swan song; instead of a siren song of things to come.
Possibly, she simply took a shortcut, and was only bringing buckets of water to sun-parched Texas, all along. She was a servant instead of a serpent! Her bark was bigger than her bite! All show and no substance!
“Asp, and ye shall receive!” Right, Cleopatra? Your sister’s gone patrician. She’s a lady, now! She only tiptoes through our occupied territories in her new role as our Rain Goddess. But, not here in San Miquel, well-known for its rainy tendencies. This Saturday is sunny and hot, just like it planned to be.
Hey, maybe she’ll run for President! I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s a windbag, that’s for sure. Just an offshore gas well, blown its top and gone bananas. What else is new? Even at record-breaking proportions! Show’s over, Folks! There’ll be no soggy circus today!
I’d like to think that hurricanes, in general, are So Yesterday! Not like my Florida high school years, when we scheduled happy hurricane parties to ride them out. We sure wouldn’t have liked this Record-Breaker who spent her wad just wading ashore! What’s the fun in that?
But, in my grown-up self, I’m happy that’s the case and that everyone who went to bed last night, will also get up this morning. And home and family will be intact.
Millenniums change things and here’s the evidence:
Weirdly, there’s a cluster of simultaneous, odd weather anomalies today, in different places on the globe. Smaller hurricanes or cyclones, like rabid animals come to say goodbye before dissipating and following in their Leader’s wake. That must have been what Patricia was trying to tell us.
“It’s over Folks! We Aliens won’t be back! Y’all behave now! We were only trying to help with overpopulation and clean up your nest a little bit. But the Big Boss says to let you do it on your own!
Ta Ta, now! I’ll just tiptoe on along, ’cause, I’ve got a thirsty row to hoe in the Lone Star State! Here’s a silver bullet! If anybody asks, just say it’s from the Lone Stargate Stranger! HiYo, Silver! Away!”
MY FIRST TRAVEL VIDEO – A PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME!
Here’s my traveling video….. a sizzle reel produced by Rock Richardson of Warrior Films, LCC, to entice a Reality TV Series into following my travels around the world when I set out this Fall for my
“Around The World In 80 Years” epic adventure
to travel for two years straight, solo backpacking, until I turn 80 in 2017, and then to keep going for at least two years after that.
My time in Santa Fe has been great, but is coming to a conclusion in mid-September. After a nice long visit with my family, I’ll take off to travel solo throughout the Caribbean Island chain, Central and South America. Throughout that long journey I’ll be filming myself with my new miniature camera and its gadgets.
So, stay tuned.