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!”
(Which of these shots “doesn’t go”; but does ’cause it’s on the wall?)
Here is my newly-discovered Costa Rican destination resort, The Fauna Luxury Hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica, just an hour from the airport. It is so easy to meet people in hostels
I have made all of these wonderful friends in just one week! Imagine that!
I am now happily ensconced in a lovely, modern home in Grecia, Costa Rica; takibg care of Cara, a young and very exuberant, middle-sized doggie, while her owner, Kathy, is in The States visiting family. Cara is the main reason I’m here, but I also keep the house occupied during the many weeks of its owner’s absence. This is a win-win situation for everyone.
I get to live in a foreign country as an expat, at no cost except my food and the incoming and outgoing transportation to Costa Rica. Americans get a 90-day visa at the border, which can be renewed by exiting znd re-entering.
Kathy has the peace-of-mind of knowing that her precious child is safe and happy and not “imprisoned” in a boarding kennel at great expense. I get to indulge my love for dogs and to spend many long hours culling my accumulated journals in order to write my next book. These many journals contain twenty-years’ worth of wisdom and forgotten adventures and fill a medium suitcase. It’s about time I took them off my sister’s hands and relived my “most adventourous traveling life”. So, days are being filled with research, cutting the valuable pages out and tossing the rest. All in the company of a sleeping dog.
I’d sleep too, if I had romped so exuberantly with Little Man, next door, during our walk this morning! Our immediate neighborhood consists of eight lovely homes each surrounded by a landscaped lawn, on a dedicated, gated street.
Originally, all of this property was owned by one Tico family with seven daughters. As the girls grew, Mom and Pop, who still live here in the family home, built each one of them their own house, up and down this street. By now, even the next generation of their grandchildren are raised and gone but most of those daughters and spouses still live here. A few have sold, and a few rent theirs out, like this one to Kathy, but this is still a delightful, family enclave.
They all have keys to each other’s places, so that they can rescue clueless dogsitters who get stuck in the fenced back yard when the wind slams the door shut and locks one out! Just this morning! Talk about community!
This wee town of Gracia contains all anyone needs in the way of shopping; but it is near to San Isidro (one of several San Isidros here), which is only an hour from the capital city of San Jose and the international airport. We are in the mountains where the air is clear and the temperatures are mild. It is extremely quiet and peaceful. The country, itself, is one of the safest in the world and the native Costa Ricans are renowned for their genuine friendliness.
Now, how can you avail yourself of this Win/Win World of house and petsitting? Just google those terms to find the several excellent matching service websites. I always use www.trustedhousesitters.com. You can find so many listings for all over the world for long and short periods. Couples are especially welcomed; particularly, if the pets are big muscular dogs who expect and need long walks.
Once, I spent a month in Capetown, South Africa, minding a sweet little Yorkie. I forgot to mention that you usually get introduced to all of the owner’s friends, who then make up your delightful support group. This time, I’ve already gone out to lunch with Maggie, a Reiki Master and fellow Voice Hearer and we’re going to try to start an HVN group (www.hvn.org) here to meet at the Yoga Center. Expats famously gather in so many interest groups in their new communities, that you will find yourself fitting in as a local in no time at all. This is an excellent and very affordable way to checkout a possible future location for an expating move of your own.
And, in my case, I only speak English! Spanish would be nice, but I’ve done this all over the world without the local language. You can too!
It feels like a long time has passed (Yup! Three months!) since I posted those photos of my new homebase here in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende, a lovely small town in upper, central Mexico. Life has been beautifully busy since then, beginning with the annual Writer’s Conference, which has gained a huge reputation for itself in the past fifteen years. I chose to attend “The Whole Enchilada” which meant five very-active days of attending lectures and workshops given by some of the world’s best writers. I hauled out one of my most exciting screenplays to use as my work-in-progress to review and consult with agents and, generally, seek to improve. This is a big-screen, sea saga that I wrote from an actual manuscript written by my father, who experienced the back-to-back South Pacific voyages of two famous vessels: The Cimba and The Seth Parker, on which he served as Second Mate. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong on the voyage between Pago Pago, American Samoa and Honolulu, Hawaii, and the crew had to mutiny to arrive safely into port. I knew I had a great story and a well-written script and was anxious to pitch it to the right agent. So, I signed up and paid extra to pitch Anna Geller, only to be told at the end of my presentation, that the conference was only able to deal with books and not filmscripts! Bummer! But, at least, The Insatiable Sea is back at the front of the pack and I will pay more attention to it, and my eight other screenplays, now that I have a real writing office and am not living out of my backpack. Sigh! The life of a Writer! At least, I met many of my contemporaries and members of the Literary Sala here, most of whom put on this very professional conference. I’m surrounded by excellent company and many already-good friends.
And that was true during my recent travels on my way to Mexico. Backpacking, hosteling, out on the world trail produces this kind of beautiful, but fleeting, friendship!
But first, consider this: would you eat one of these, mystery meats, just to fit into a new society? I passed on them, myself and haven’t seen their like, here in Mexico. Hence, I have no idea what Rat tastes like!
HAPPY MARCH 3rd, 19TH BIRTHDAY TO MY DEAR GRANDAUGHTER, MOLLY! I WAS ALSO TRAVELING IN ASIA THIS TIME LAST YEAR FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY. YOUR GIFT WILL BE MAILED PRETTY SOON AND WILL HAVE PRESENTS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, AS IT WAS THEN. LOVE YOU ALL!
We were each recently injured while traveling in a foreign country! He was thrown onto the pavement yesterday, when a Mercedes swerved in front of his motorcycle from the opposite lane. In Sardinia, I think. He’s bunged up, but will be alright.
My accident, in Dumaguete, on June 26, wasn’t as dangerous as his, but led to ten days in a Philippine hospital and I am now holed up in a Cebu City hotel for a long, long rest while my broken shoulder and twisted knee completely heal. Luckily, this didn’t happen in traffic, but right in my hostel kitchen when I tripped on a brick ledge in the floor.
Pain is pain and I’m sure George Clooney and I are mutually uncomfortable. But we’re alive and will recover completely. He’s younger, so his bones were stronger. I was very happy not to have very brittle bones at my age. My shoulder merely has a compression fracture, a little more serious than a hairline break, which it was originally thought to be. Things could have been much worse and I’ll get lot’s of writing done during my enforced rest.
But talk about famous people! This injury led me to my sudden spectacular friendship with a top Philippine Rock Star Band, SALBAKUTA. I sat surrounded by them on the airplane coming here. They had just performed a huge stadium concert the night before. Most of them slept, but Mad, my seatmate, (with tatooed arms and sunglasses) and I, talked nonstop the whole hour-long flight. Whoulda’ thunk we would have had so much in common? I don’t know much about modern music.
Their latest hit is “S2upid Luv” (Stupid Love), which is beautiful. Look it up on You Tube for a listen. The verses are in the Filipino language but the chorus is in English. Check out their band there, too. I haven’t learned to post the link here yet; but I will now make an effort to learn.
And while I’m bragging about my intimacy with fame just this week, I’ll report this flattering compliment they gave me. When I first met all of them, as we were settling into our seats, they asked if I was Gloria Romero. She is a big Filipino movie star of an earlier era, who is now 83. They said I look just like her and to prove it, they googled her on their cell phones. But those pictures were taken in her youth when she resembled Elizabeth Taylor. Now, I have found some taken in her eighties after her hair had turned white like mine. Okay, we do look a little alike!
So all that surrounding love and feel-good messages were poured upon me, seemingly to compensate for the “owies” I was recovering from! Not a bad exchange!
I hope George Clooney gets the same for his broken bones today!
I am letting go and letting God! Still here in the Wellnessland Wholeness Center in Cebu City, Philippines; but will checkout tomorrow and travel to the coastal town of Oslob, where I plan to spend a few days snorkeling with gigantic Whale Sharks and shooting a cover shot for my fifth book, just written here.
Yes, I have compiled a small book, Death Never Killed Anyone: But, Death Always Kills Every Body, full of quotations from my book, In Secret Diffusion, and my matching website of the same name. The cover will show me, freely swimming and perfectly safe, underwater in the ocean, consorting with sharks… known to be killers of all humans. Naturally, they are the objects of terror; just like death is.
Interestingly, these massive Whale Sharks don’t eat humans but cluster in a small bay because they are fed their vegetarian preferences so that we can meet them up close. Who’da thunk?
We’ve found an exception to the rule of our kneejerk prejudice! Same with death! Why do we so consistently panic at the thought or approach of it? Well, that’s what this long stay at WELLNESSland WHOL(Y)ness Ne(W)HEALTH Center has revealed to me. My philosophical pondering about that universal FEAR in everyone’s psyche led me to quickly produce this book, which will soon be propagated, like little chia seeds, free, all over these Philippine Islands. Let’s see if we can change that attitude to one of eager anticipation???? That would really be flipping things on their heads, wouldn’t it?
Well, you can join this experiment! When the booklet is complete in ebook form, it will be downloadable here. Help yourself and share it with your friends. Become a guinea pig and see if your Fear of Death is reduced by reading it? Become a lab rat in the name of science.
This weekend, twenty people gathered here at the Wellness Center for an overnight retreat. I was invited to be one of the speakers. I chose to weave the topic of Storytelling and Wordsmithing with the brand new international practice of Death Cafes . Google that. Lately, all over the world, people are gathering informally over tea and cake, to spill their guts about death. So, we did that and loved the sweet, teary, chuckling, cathartic results. This Center now intends to host a Death Cafe once a month!
I highly recommend that you try it, too! Ten people in a circle is probably perfect, but any number can be adjusted for. Homes, libraries, cafes. Just announce the meeting and let ‘er roll!
I have now spent two weeks in the vital Wellnessland Wholeness Center, here in Cebu City, the second-largest town in the large Philippine 7000 Island chain. This is a great Health Center combining a small hotel/hostel/Conference Center
with an attached Organic and Plant-Based Food Cafe as well as a general medical practice. It was founded and is run by a classically- trained, practicing physician, Dr. Romy B. Paredes, M.D., CMT, who is curing people with drug-free, alternative medicine. Here is Dr. Romy Paredes and me.
Last Saturday, I attended an Isha Yoga workshop, which I’d never tried before. Yesterday, I gave a three-hour talk on Inner Voice Hearing, which was only one of several speeches that I made this week!
We held the inaugural Phillipine Hearing Voices Network meeting in this country, which will now become the 36th nation to join the International Hearing Voices Network.
During the week, I traveled to Leyte with Dr. Paredes to speak at a professional meeting of SHEM: Self Health Empowerment Movement. which was a mini-vacation in itself. So, this country has provided me with a most-professional break in the usual anonymous touring.
Next week, I will travel on to other island communities after I visit Immigration to extend my 30-day entry visa. Maybe there will even be beaches in my future?
Wednesday, May 2: I’m in a very modern, brand-new, high-rise, hostel, the Lub-d, in Makati City, a section of sprawling downtown Manila.
I was at the sister hostel in Bangkok and knew this one would be very comfortable. It’s the newest hostel in the whole 7000 island Philippine chain. But, there are very few big cities out here and I’m keen to explore the smaller spots on the map.
I’m still sleeping off my overnight trip flying from Vietiane, Laos, last weekend; so I’ve merely walked through this particular neighborhood, ranging about for new restaurants to try. Though all the American chains like Subway, McDonalds and Wendys are ever-present too. I was thrilled to learn that the local taste isn’t dependant upon chilis and hot flavors, but consists of plenty of seafood, rice and veggies. Portions are huge and prices are low, so I get by on two big meals a day. Such a deal for really upscale living!
My eight-bunk, female dorm contains sturdy, curtained, cubicle beds and there’s a bathroom down the hall. So far, I have only a few roommates, but it’s so private and quiet that even at full steam, it would feel that way. My nightly rate is $15.
The atmosphere is still somewhat Asian but comes closer to the Western vibe than Southeast Asia. Maybe because everyone speaks English and there are all the familiar brands on the shelves. The weather feels exactly like Florida.
Now I’m planning my transportation to Cebu City further south on Cebu Island. It’s a 1.5 hour flight or a 26 hour sea voyage on a fancy cruiser ferry boat, and I’m leaning towards the water route as I haven’t done enough of that in my life. I’ve chosen a Health and Wellness nature retreat and spa as my accommodations there for as long as I decide to stay in that town, which is the second largest town of this country.
The photo course I was interested in isn’t available any more here; but I’m hoping I can find one in the college town of Dumaguete, where I’ll head after Cebu. I must start shooting pictures of my new life here, anyway; new skills or not.
This is a good possibility for a retirement, once I stop traveling. The country bends over backwards to attract retirees with a serious discount card (did I hear 20%?); a long-term visa; and a monthly living cost of $800 to $1300 per person, per month. And yet, high quality standards and excellent medical facilities. Social Security won’t send checks here, but it’s easy to have it deposited in a stateside bank and then accessed by ATM, as I do now. I’ll keep mentioning this attractive possibility as I learn more.
Haven’t laid eyes on the famous turquoise blue water yet, but that will happen soon.
I’ve been in Vientiane, Laos, for six weeks now, having temporarily hopped-off my wonderful Stray Tour of four countries of South East Asia: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I hadn’t planned to stay as long as this, here in the capital city of Laos, but I discovered the shocking fact of America’s Secret War during the neighboring Vietnam War and I wanted to gather the facts. I also needed the rest. I solve my desire for a homebase, by frequently becoming a longer-term tourist of any delightful spots along my way. Reading, writing, and resting can only be done when one lingers a little while. Otherwise, lack of desk space, wi-fi, handy electrical plugs, and non-stop hostel social activity, make serious computer work difficult, if not impossible. I try to catch up on blogging at times like these, even though other unexpected assignments tend to find me, too. New trips both simplify and complicate all that.
Plus, my eyes are sooooo tired right now. Probably, because I really need that eye surgery but the catarract isn’t quite ripe yet. A new pair of glasses wouldn’t hurt, either but those will have to wait till after the surgery. I’ll check all those out in my new country, as well. In the meantime, sleep and rest are on the to-do list. Same as everyone does in the aftermath of such a big holiday.
It’s a brand new year in this part of the world and, as if it’s an omen singing its siren song, I found a large, beautiful, pink, plastic four-wheeler suitcase to replace my old-fashioned, two-wheel cloth ones. So, I’ve cut my luggage down to two check-in bags, plus two carry-ons. Will your whole life fit into so small a space?
All this has started my travel clock ticking. Seven days to go, now!
Then, newly expert and recently beached, I’ll return here to pick up my Stray Tour into Cambodia and Vietnam. The delightful part of their offering is that I have a year to cover the ground. So, impromptu flights are very easy to incorporate into my plans.
Plus, I’d also like to cover my future dream destinations to the north and still have time to get to Lake Baikal, in Siberia, Russia; before the weather turns ….. well, too Siberian! Best be about it! So, I’ll buy my plane ticket for next week and announce my destination later. Hint: there’s a film academy there that I plan to attend.
This week, I’ll try to catch up on my blogging, as the future will be filled with learning the technologies of camera and video work and producing cinema reports of all my wonderful pictures. I’m already halfway around the world and still a rank amateur about the scenes I’m passing through. What good is fine equipment without the know-how? Here are some shots of this week and the New Years celebrations between April 14 – 18. Wet and Loud! Everybody throws water on everybody else. And, the Buddhist Temples broadcast very loud sermons constantly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. This hotel is surrounded by three temples, so we had triple cacaphony.
This subject was contributed by a brilliant thinker named Brooke, whom I met on my travels throughout Southeast Asia, and thus, fits perfectly on my travel website. However, you will find many more of her existential questions answered by The Holy Spirit on my other website, In Secret Diffusion.com (www.insecretdiffusion.com)
What does it do to the body, mind, and soul to travel to new places?
“Oh My Linda Layli, Layli Linda! We are finding out this answer through your adventures all over this World Below. You are touching the lives of many, many children this way. Adults too, of course! But your effect upon any child that you have loved with your eyes, your smile and your attention to them in a direct and personal way…. even if they don’t understand your language directly…. they still credit your country with good vibrations that will last forever and forever within their attitude about such a forceful place as America is, within the minds and in the spoken words of the adults around them.”
“Every person, man, woman or child, carries their nationality around like a visible flag in the minds and memories of all who meet them, everywhere. In most countries of the world, people don’t travel like Western tourists do. In other years, it was the soldiers in identical uniforms of one side or the other, who scattered the impressions of their countries. Now, it’s the tourists; most of whom are “wealthy” Westerners. Those travelers stay within their groups, quite predictably, and stay briefly at hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. This works very well for both locals and visitors, as tourism helps the local economy develop healthily; while allowing the resident population to continue their preferred routines, language and customs.”
“Tourism never attempts to convert or redesign beliefs as the meddling missionary groups have attempted to do in the past. Nowadays, there are schools, hospitals and educational gifts that those Faiths have brought to the many thousands of global locations which they have unsuccessfully invaded. Their religion has filtered around, but is usually mixed with local traditions. Ever since time began…. basically, ever since We started this tradition of Earth’s Mix & Match Population, and sent Messengers from time to time to answer their needs and prayers uttered by everyone to become the winner over the others; We have seen that this desperate dance simply goes on and on and on and on!”
“So, when the traveling from place to place puts you in contact with a local personality, or even with fellow travelers from many different countries, it gives Peace a chance to flourish! Particularly, if it gets seeded into the bright little mind of a child! Naturally, they will think good things about America all of their life when a friendly and happy American lays the foundation and sparks their positive, emotional reaction. One such incident can erase years and years of aggressive history filling the minds of their parents and grandparents. Even to changing those adult minds in miraculous ways out of parental gratitude to those who take the time to interrelate to their children; since most adults of any country either barely tolerate, or totally ignore, all babies and children of whatever nationality. There’s always a way to bridge any gap of language or age, but most adults never try.”
“So, a seasoned world traveler has had the experience and incentive to develop those necessary people skills!”