I’ve extended my stay in the Fauna Luxury Hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica for another two weeks. This hostel puts no limits on one’s timeframe, contrary to most; so, some guests stay for months. Here’s why:
This colorful inner patio contains ping-pong and pool tables and this glorious mural. It’s an outdoor lobby leading to all rooms, the bar and huge dining room/cafe, and our hostel kitchen. My 5-bunk dorm room has the new-fashion cubicle bunks. We each get a comfy, wooden box with a descending curtain for darkness and privacy. I haven’t seen the private rooms yet but maybe I can get some shots of those too. My dorm bed costs $13 a night but the ensuite privates are only $35 to $50. All including breakfast. Such a deal!
It’s 2019 and I’m petsitting in Costa Rica and using my day’s full of downtime to cull my old journals for excellent blogging material. Here’s one written in Slovenia, Eastern Europe in 2005: I was 64 years old.
“As I pass through the world’s hostels, I’ll try to describe how life is in them. This hostel is very quiet and cordial, with young, hands-on owners. Everyone speaks English and will help with enthusiastic advice; as will the ever-changing, full compliment of guests, who all seem to be from Australia, Canada or England. Young professionals: teachers, nurses and doctoral candidates. One man spent three weeks in Irkutsk, Russia, as part of his PhD work. Eleven years ago, I was in that same beautiful region of Lake Baikal, Siberia, leading US/USSR group tours for almost a month. I must get back there, someday!
The subject of one’s travels is usually the first thing we all talk about: Where you’ve just been and where you are headed, It’s at these times that I realize what a Road Warrior I really am, because my experiences often rank me equal, or senior, to them and this is surely why they don’t see me as representing my age; but, as simply, a fellow traveler.
Now, what’s it like to sleep in an eight-bunk, mixed dormitory room witb fifteen other men and women sleeping all around you? Just fine! Mutual consideration makes it work out. Even having just one toilet room… with only one toilet. And another shower room, with one shower and no toilet…is managed very easily. Though, it helps to rise early, as I did today.
Everyone else was out until midnight and I turned in at 10:30 p.m. But,I barely heard them come in.
This hostel is similar, in principle, to those in Nicaragua, which I enjoyed so much. Those cost only $3 to $6 a nigbt, compared to $27 here; but that reflects each country’s economy. The Central American ones all had FAR more toilets and showers; but the friendly, welcoming ambiance was just the same. As were the backpackers, themselves.
People of my generation are probably stuck in the Hippie mentality, as far as their impression of backpacking goes. I was, until I met this serious evolution of “under-the-radar” traveler. They are lovely, lovely, highly-educated, very-considerate men and women, who behave like brothers and sisters of one another.
All are naturally attractive, clean-cut, fit, and in good health. Everyone sleeps in loose,
comfortable clothing: shorts, tee shirts, mumus or sundresses. No one talks in the dorm room after the first person turns in and it’s reading lights only. I always curtain my lower bunk sides with sarongs; simply for darkness, rather than modesty or privacy.
Now, a brief look beyond the hostel walls! I just saw a traditional Babushka, a granny, standing in tbe hot sun, bundled in sweater, skirt, a head scarf and heavy knit stockings. It would probably be immodest to wear anything less. She had the stocky, square peasant’s body and was either my age or younger. Otherwise, all people here are leading the fashion parade.
Such a clean city! With good sidewalks! Everything is under repair here, with none of the poverty I found in Central America. Slovenia is known as the richest portion of Old Yugoslavia. The land is not suited for agriculture, so it has become the center of industry, learning and finance.
I highly recommend this whole, less-traveled, anciently-civilized region!
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!
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.
Last night, for the second time on this solo, around-the-world jaunt, I taught some fellow-hostelers how to Jitterbug! That’s the fast, Rock & Roll Dance that I used to do in The Fifties, when I was in high school. Unfortunately, our favorite teen dance has practically disappeared from the planet these days and nobody has even heard about it. I discovered this fact at the Hostel Euphoria in Tallinn, Estonia, when I heard their band playing all of my old favorites. The only way I could conjure up some dance partners was to teach them the steps. We all loved the results and I vowed to find other teaching opportunities.
That was last August and I didn’t pursue it until the chance happened, almost accidentally, here at the lovely Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, just before I fly to Barcelona, Spain, tomorrow morning. I must get my videotaping act going, though. I came completely prepared to film this class; but got so wound up in selecting the music and setting up my computer, I didn’t even get the cameras out. When will I start recording this trip?
This dance was the last fast-dancing, Ballroom Touch Dance where the man leads the woman. In 1960, Chubbie Checkers introduced The Twist, where the partners faced each other and wiggled to the music, with no spins or even steps. Kaboom! That was that!
Dance Liberation! No more touching or Leading!
Much less fun, though the same amount of exercise! Boogie-Woogie is coming back in style, but it’s a strange conglomeration of the Lindy and some athletic show pieces, with women being thrown overhead and underfoot for the international competitions. You’ll find it all on YouTube. At least, I’ll do my part to bring a little authenticity to this modern-day interpretation of dancing. No problem that mycontemporaries who also danced this in high school, are pushing eighty. Let’s get out there all you 1950s graduates and set the record right! It’s great exercise!
My story is the same as it was a month ago, except that I’ve covered different ground. I flew from Paris, France to Tel Aviv, Israel on October 29 and it feels as if I’ve been here far longer than just three weeks. Maybe, TIME just expands here, or something that mysterious? Maybe, it’s because I caught a cold during my midnight layover in the Cairo, Egypt airport on the way, and I haven’t shaken it yet? Still coughing, hacking and feeling lazy with it, though I have stayed on the move, spending a week in each of the three major cities.
The first week, I stayed in the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, enjoying the warm weather of my new latitude. Paris was definitely showing signs of Fall. Then, I took a Sheroot (a small bus/large taxi) for two hours to Haifa, up on the northern coast, where I stayed for ten days in the Port Inn and enjoyed wandering about in the city of Mt. Carmel. It felt wonderful to have chosen a hostel that was still in the flat, port area; as the mountain rises very steeply, just a few blocks from the water. Then, a few days ago, I took the bus to Jerusalem and am staying in another Abraham chain hostel. Next week, I’ll shift over to the Stay Inn Hostel, which is closer to the Old Town. I’ll blame my cold on the lack of photography but here are some few that I have taken this month. In my walking explorations in this hostel’s neighborhood, I discovered the nearby Marketplace, or Souk, which bustles with life and interesting activity; plus piles of merchandise, fruit, vegetables, meats and tiny restaurants.
Here are some miscellaneous shots of some curious things I’ve seen lately.
On my 79th Birthday, September 10, I came north in Russia to walk along the White Sea in Archangelsk…. The name commemorates the Archangel Michael. Who better to ring in my 80th year? It was a gorgeous, warm day, and my friend Karina from my Hostel Troika, suggested we take a walk along the White Sea Beach.
A Funny Story About A New Dress Purchased The Night Before My Aeroflot Flight To Moscow….With Its Anti-Theft Device Still Firmly Attached!!!
I like clothes and it was my birthday, after all; so when I saw a darling dress in a cute little store in Archangelsk, Russia, I snapped it up the afternoon before I flew to Moscow. Instead of taking it out of the shopping bag and figuring how in the world I was going to stuff it into my suitcase; I simply took a nap, and didn’t address my last-minute packing until after five in the afternoon.
OH. MY. GOD! The anti-theft device was still firmly attached! Well, the store clerk, Lee, and I had gotten to talking rapidly, even though we had no common language….. but now what? It was so late that I was sure her store was closed by then. Maybe, the nearby bridal store could get it off? Oh, this must be the receipt, which I had yanked off when removing it from the bag! Nope, they didn’t have the right equipment!
And anyway, my receipt was for boots, not a dress! Oh no! I did buy boots earlier in the week…. black beauties…..You see, I’m thinking ahead to my mid-October World Congress of the Hearing Voices Network Conference in Paris, at which I will be teaching a workshop. Gotta’ dress right for that city!
I ran back to my room and found the correct receipt in the wastebasket. How was I to know? I can’t read Russian. Any other day during my stay, I could have simply gone in the next day and had Lee remove the plastic warning device; but I needed to taxi to the airport early the next morning. I ran the three blocks from the Troika Hostel to the mall and found the store CLOSED! Yoiks, what now?
Roman Baranov, proprietor of the body-building store next door to the clothing shop, and speaker of English, became my new best friend. After calling his mall-manager about the closed shop, he shut his own store and we ran together an additional three blocks to another swishy mall. By now, it was getting so funny and desperate, that I began a photo story. Three stores in a row, heroically used their little machines to remove this strange anti-theft device and I soon learned that the buggers are specifically programmed for each store and theirs didn’t work. But they pounded and stabbed with sharp objects, hoping to break its lock. I worried about the dress fabric getting slashed, but couldn’t complain. They put heart and soul into trying.