We all know that Puns are the lowest form of humor. Right? But, aren’t they fun? The weightier the matter, the faster the flow of great puns! It’s simply our creativity trying to get our attention and to show us around-and-about the most solemn of subjects.
These are to be read simply as single headlines. I’m not trying to make a story here, though some subjects come in clusters (pun intended, I guess). And to get any sense out of this you do need to be somewhat informed about the Secret War of Laos, which is where I am traveling at the moment; and uncovering the SCOOP of the century! It’s a perpetual scoop, apparently, because “much” has already been written about it. Ish! Meaning that we, Americans, still haven’t heard of it. Check it out on Google and YouTube and then, do what you can to spread this shameful news. This egg on the American Face. Fifty years and counting!
I stumbled across the story in the COPE Center, here in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, while touristing through Southeast Asia. COPE is dedicated to clearing the UXO, unexploded ordinances, which kill and maim Laotians constantly as they work and walk the countryside. COPE makes prosthetics that allow them to survive. They need our support, primarily in the shape of money. They are not begging for it. I am!
When the oh so serious subject of America’s Secret War in Laos (see my previous blog) came to my attention; I found myself suddenly creating headlines and playing with words. I’ll share the pun-worthy results here, in order to give you full permission to slide gleefully down this slippery slope; even if you have a speech to the United Nations to prepare. Just try to imagine the subjects you could weave around each headline. And, there you will have it! Profundity! Keep paper and pen handy! These smarty-pants reproduce uncontrollably!
AMERICA’S TACTICAL TRAVESTY!
WOMBS OR BOMBS? TOMBS OR ROOMS? BOOMS CREATE GLOOMS!
LIVE or spelled backwards EVIL?
UNEXPLODED CLUSTER BOMBS – A BLAST FROM THE PAST!
BOMBIES – BLASTS THAT LAST!
LAOS OR LOSS? LOUSED OR LOST?
YOUR SONS, OUR SONS, MY SON!
SECRET WARS ARE NOT CIVIL! LET’S BE CIVIL TO EACH OTHER!
IF CIVILIANS ARE NOT SOLDIERS, THEN, WHY DID WE BOMB THEM? ‘SPLAIN THAT TO ME AGAIN?
WHERE WERE THE NO-FLY-ZONES OVER LAOS?
THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR HAND-HOLDING! MANY LAOTIANS DON’T HAVE THOSE ANY MORE!
BUT, THEY DO NEED A HANDS-UP!
LET’S JOIN HANDS AND HEARTS AND HELP THEM HEAL!
A CLUSTER BOMB FELL, LIKE A NUT, ON THE HEAD OF HENNY-PENNY. SHE RAN TO TELL THE KING BUT NOBODY LISTENED!
WHO WAS HENNY-PENNY, ANYWAY? THE BUSY BODY WHO THOUGHT THE SKY WAS FALLING!
BUCK, BUCK, BUCK! IF THE SKY FELL, THOSE PLANES WOULDN’T BE OVERHEAD! EVERYTHING’S NORMAL, YOU SILLY HEN!
RELAX, HENNY! IT’S ONLY CLUSTER BOMBS; JUST LIKE EVERYDAY, FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS!
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS THAT IT’S A BIGGER WAR THAN YOU THOUGHT POSSIBLE! LAOS IS THE MOST-BOMBED COUNTRY, EVER IN HISTORY! THANKS TO THE U.S! GUESS WHO GOOSEY-LOOSEY IS!
LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS! AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS, AS WELL.
WHO’S MINDING THE ROOST, ANYWAY?
DON’T ASK FOR WHOM THE COCK CROWS! IT CROWS FOR ALL OF US…. EVENTUALLY!
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE DAWN! COFFEE AND ROTTING CARCASSES!
SPILL YOUR GUTS, AMERICA! CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL!
AMERICA! YOU BIG BULLY! LOOK WHAT YOU DID!
LOOK THE OTHER WAY! WHAT BALLS? THESE ARE OBVIOUSLY FOR TENNIS!
TENNIS ANYONE? LET’S GO BAT A FEW BALLS AROUND BEFORE BREAKFAST. THEN, WHEN THE EGGS FALL, WE’LL EAT!
OH GOODY! RATTLES FOR THE BABY!
TALK ABOUT BURIED TREASURE!
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES, GALS! WE HAVE A RIGHT TO BARE ARMS!
CIVIL WAR=EVIL WAR!
MOM, UPSIDE DOWN, SPELLS WOW! AND DAD, WITH AN E, (enemy) IN THE MIDDLE, SPELLS DEAD!
WARFARE OR CARFARE?
LET’S LOVE LAOS, AMERICA!
AMERICA’S MURDEROUS EGGS – CLUSTER BOMBS
AMERICA HAS LAID AN EGG THAT WON’T GO AWAY, UNTIL WE EAT CROW AND MAN UP TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES! DOES THAT NEED MANSPLAINING, ANYONE?
ORGASM NOT WARGASM! MAKE LOVE NOT WAR! PEACE, NOT PIECES! (Not mine, originally.)
AMERICA’S SECRET WAR, OUR NEST OF BOMBIES!
WHAT DOES ONE DO ON THE WAY HOME FROM A BOMBING RUN? YOU DUMP YOUR LEFTOVER BOMBIES ON BABIES IN LAOS!
WE’VE JUST FOUND THE CAUSE OF PTSD! THE ONLY CURE IS TO LOSE YOUR MIND….ER, MEMORY! OTHERWISE, THE BRAIN-BOMBING IS NIGHTLY. EVERY EIGHT MINUTES!
BOMBIES FOR BREAKFAST? THEY LOOK JUST LIKE GIGANTIC RICE KRISPIES!
U.S. PILOTS BOMBED LAOS EVERY EIGHT MINUTES FOR NINE YEARS ON THEIR WAY BACK FROM VIETNAM…. IN ORDER TO LAND WITH NO DEADLY CARGO. MIGHT BLOW THEMSELVES UP, YA KNOW! OR THE CARRIER. CAN’T HAVE THAT, NOW CAN WE? THEY’D COURT-MARSHALL YOU!
NORTH VIETNAM INCONVENIENT? BOMB LAOS INSTEAD!
THERE’S NO DECLARED WAR WITH LAOS, BUT WE STILL KILL AND MAIM THE INNOCENT EVERYDAY! FIFTY-FOUR YEARS AND COUNTING. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR LIFETIME IS THAT?
AMERICA IS GUILTY OF THIS! WAKE UP, AMERICANS, AND SEE WHAT YOUR MILITARY HAS DONE!
MAMA HENS UNITE! LAOS HAS STUMPS TO FIX! THEY NEED PROSTHETICS!
THINGS FALL AND HIT US! SOMETIMES, BOMBS! SOMETIMES, TREES! SOMETIMES, TRUCKS!
HOW DOES ONE CELEBRATE WINNING A SECRET WAR? HOW DOES ONE WIN AN UNDECLARED WAR? HOW DOES ONE SILENCE THE NOSY, NOISY NEIGHBORS, WHO PRY INTO YOUR CLOSEST SECRETS? YOUR SHAMEFUL, CLOSET SECRETS? BUT WHAT IF YOUR NOISY FAMILY GETS NOSY? STARTS ASKING PRYING QUESTIONS? GETS OUT OF CONTROL? CAN YOU SILENCE THEM? DOES YOUR GUN HAVE A SILENCER? WHAT IF IT’S NOT IN YOUR CONSTITUTION? WHAT IF EVERYTHING YOU WERE FIGHTING FOR IN VIETNAM IS NOW HELD HOSTAGE IN YOUR SECRET LOCKER? HAVE THE COWS COME HOME? IS THERE FREEDOM IN YOUR HEART? AND IN YOUR SPEECH? DO YOU DO UNTO OTHERS? WHAT DID YOU DO, THAT THEY ARE SO AFRAID TO SPEAK UP….. OR MORE LIKELY, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?
OUT WITH IT NOW, CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL, UNCLE SAM!
Happy Punning, Punsters of the world! www.copelaos.org.
DOES HOW OLD YOU ARE AND HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE REALLY COUNT? NOT SO MUCH!
Almost a year ago, I published this blog post and it bears repeating…… especially since I have, only recently, become a huge fan of an Entity called Abraham-Hicks, through a DVD that I borrowed from The Celebration, a non-denominational worship service that I’m attending here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Abraham channels through Esther Hicks and is certainly worth looking up on YouTube and checking out. This collective Entity on The Other Side reminds us of who we really are and what we have come to Earth to accomplish. I urge you to check out this Wisdom, as it is spot on!
Basically, Abraham’s Teachings remind us to always concentrate on The Positive aspects in our life and not to see anything in the negative. Just always being Positive, brings us into a Creational Vortex that’s always longing to reward us with what we need and ask for; but cannot do so if we complain about our current situation. Woops, after listening to this DVD, I realized that I was, in the previous blog, complaining about the beautiful sunlight and the fact that I was finally getting the long-needed eye surgery that will help me to see better. That’s sort of outside of the vortex that I need to be within. So, I’ll leave the evidence in the last post right here for all to see, and then, reprint this attitude about my life, which I think might be on the more positive side of things.
If what is really bugging me is that I am now becoming restless, and am eager to begin traveling again; well why not simply say so, and not fuss about what is currently my excuse for not sticking to business and writing more frequent blogs. Hey, it is what it is! Now, here’s the reprinted blog post. As true today as it was a year ago:
“Age Schmage,….Money Schmoney” was a book title I thought of a long time ago and never used. It doesn’t exactly explain itself, does it? And that’s the beauty of a title. Make it so intriguing that you lure the reader in and make him pick up your slim volume or keep reading on into your article. Or, increasingly in this day and age, your advertisement.
But, the reason I wanted to use that particular attitude in an autobiographical way, was that it does “Say it like it is” in justifying my particular lifestyle. And no, I’m not Jewish, but I love that succinct way of getting the point across with a dismissive flair of the hand or a telling facial expression. And the older I get….. and also, the poorer I get, if that were the case….is even more reason to carry such a happy-go-lucky attitude.
Here I am, less than a month before my 78th birthday, and I feel this truth more than ever. What does age have to do with it? Well, everything and nothing! You see, I’m weird. I’m a constant world-wanderer: always either on a long trip or planning one. I’m also weird because I talk constantly, internally, to The Holy Spirit (actually, I interview Him) and then I write books and blogs about it. See: www.insecretdiffusion.com.
Old Age has always been a universal basket to explain away odd behavior in an elderly person. Wandering away from home is another common appellation, dug up from that accusatory mindset. The thing is, I do wander away from home and then, write about my international adventures in books and blogs. There’s, obviously, no irresponsibility or Little Old Lady Leanings in any of them.
So, AGE is not causing this “Craziness!” Hence, the Age Schmage dismissal! In fact, the very act of constantly getting older, and yet, remaining the same, becomes a more and more rarified quality. I love to watch the eyebrows go up, when I mention that ever-changing factoid about myself.
And what about MONEY? Many people automatically assume that I must be rich, to be able to afford airfare and all my international expenses; to just be able to pack up and go, where and when I wish on the globe. But, that’s not so! I live on my Social Security alone and I live cheap, compared to most people. I’m a hosteller. I own only what fits inside of my two suitcases…..plus, some writing materials stored in the States.
I begin where most people hope they never wind up: HOMELESS! But, this is the true face of freedom!
You can’t have it all and these are choices I have made: No house. No car. No stuff No pets. My accumulation lies within my journal’s memories, filled with reports of adventures and friends collected along the way. I’m happy…..and my regular social security income helps me to stay that way….but is not the cause of it. I watch it carefully and don’t require too much of it…simply regular dole-outs from foreign ATMs. Plus, payments on a credit card used to charge online air purchases. Debit cards don’t work in that case.
And now, with shaky things predicted to be around the corner concerning our national economic future, I’m trying to get ahead of the curve. And, guess what? Lo and behold, I’m already practicing many recommended tactics: Such as:
“Get out of Dodge, while yet you can! Find a nice, inexpensive but beautiful, retirement land where the healthcare is good and the costs are not so high! Apply for a second passport to increase your options!”
Well, I’ve spent this past enjoying life in Uruguay, Peru and Ecuador, all of which fill that bill nicely and are on everyone’s advisory lists. Soon, I’ll check out Central American countries; also excellent candidates for living the good life without some of the homeland downsides; even concerning weather. Right now, I’m housesitting in New Mexico, which is a very win-win situation.
“Move your money into inflationary-free investments! Build a second income stream!”
I’m studying on that right now. And overseas is where the fingers point. All of a sudden, my journalistic, writerly qualities can turn investigative, because I’m on the cutting edge without even trying to be. I’m planning to attend another International Living Conference in Denver in September so that I can experience a global changing scene in a very “waterbugish” way, with Travel Writing and photography. I keep wanting to post my excellent photographs on money-making, perpetual-stream, photostock sites to generate a safety net, just in case social security gets downsized, someday. That’s been a long-term goal of mine. Maybe it will finally go beyond the talking stages.
Because nothing holds me down, it doesn’t harm me or dictate my life. I can shift on a whim and respond to the moment; just like a waterbug can, because it never breaks the surface tension. But, I’m also free to settle down with the right person, or in the right place, if I should choose to. How’s that for having choices? Shady or sunny? Mountains or Beachfront? Perpetual springtime, if I like!
Now do you see how the terms: “Age Schmage! Money Schmoney!” might just say it succinctly? And, a lot more positively than grousing about “too much light in my life!” Both terms have nothing and everything to do with me. That title was probably invented by some ancient Sage……unless, it was me, since I’ve never heard it before.
It’s not referring to your years or to your cash flow. It’s speaking of Freedom!
This photo was taken August 7, 2014, when I was one of the speakers at the monthly Writer’s In Transition public meeting. I read from my movie script for an animated children’s film called The Candlewick Question, about an alternate waxen universe, where the candle population believes that their wick is simply for making hairdos. The movie deals with the existential question: What is the purpose of the soul?
At last, my fourth book is in its final months of preparation and I look forward to having it in hand before this Spring, 2015, is over. That would be very appropriate, since my book’s title is the title of this blog posting: “Millennial Springtime: Love In The Vast Lane.” Rather than merely a few months in our calendar year, this title refers to the first quarter of a thousand-year millennium, or a full 250 years. We are now so early in that vast time period, that we don’t even think in those terms yet. I’m hoping to examine the brand-new, long-term cycle which we’ve entered without even noticing it.
As I described in my last post, I experienced the very productive Tom Bird’s Writer’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona, last week, where some very personal material about my Spiritual Awakening in the form of Hearing Voices all came spilling out. This as a How It Feels To Go Crazy But Know You’re Not! kind of a revelation. How can one qualify for a diagnosis of Schizophrenia in 1980…. and probably still today? Just confess that you hear Voices in your head! My Voices began in 1980 when my kids were in high school; and I didn’t want to let them down, so I managed to turn off the noisy brain chatter through the use of Sony Walkman tape players. All was quiet for fifteen years.
Then, they came back, speaking again in my head, in 1995, when I no longer had a family at home, and I stayed with them. I have learned a great deal through my happy conversations with the Upper Realm since then and have published the results in my second book: “In Secret Diffusion: The Upper Realm Answers Questions About Earth” and through an ongoing website/blogsite www.insecretdiffusion.com where I solicit cosmic questions from the public. Then, interview The Holy Spirit for the answers.
My new book is a collection of many of these blog posts, written over a four-year period. The material I wrote in the Arizona Writing Retreat rounds it out by explaining how and why My Voices began and the life story behind that. A lot of the material centers upon this Millennial Rollover period and why there were such public expectations about what it meant to mankind. Remember how concerned everyone was, back then, in the decades before the year 2000? Some religions claimed the end of the world and some scientists worried that the lights would go out because of the Y2k bug.
And then, nothing happened! Apparently, anyway.
So, nobody talks about it any more. At all! Like a highly-anticipated party that nobody attended, after all. Well, my new book does talk about it and I make some highly original statements and conduct some very pertinent interviews with The Holy Spirit on the subject of this New Millennium and what it means to mankind. And the new things that are possible because of it.
One of which is that many people, all over the world, are hearing Voices and are organizing themselves to compare notes. There is a Hearing Voices Network, which I just learned about and intend to join. More about that soon. As I explain in this new book, God is now freely trying to initiate this conversational exchange with humankind. It’s not easy to break through to us. We become afraid. We get lost in the negative band that circles this planet and think that we’re going crazy. We don’t realize that God will literally “answer” our prayers and we are not sure whether we should talk to Whoever that is, in there, calling us by name. So much confusion these days. The medical profession doesn’t help in this instance. I believe that this is a new minority emerging from the closet and I hope to help all I can. This book shall address these issues.
The Vast Lane awaits when your inner hearing channels open up!
So, please hold your breath and wait just a little longer and Millennial Springtime will be yours for the ordering!
Calling all authors….Present or Future! If you have a book in you, crying to get out, then you need to give Tom Bird’s Writing and Publishing Techniques a try! http://tombird.com/
It’s almost Other-Worldly, in that your Left Brain is told to take a hike, while your poor, neglected creative genius of a Right Brain is finally given freedom to have a field day, expressing what is really in your heart. And what you write under the luxurious conditions of a Writer’s Retreat will really surprise you! Guaranteed!
No, this is not chemically-induced! You can replicate these writing conditions at home, once you learn how. There’s deep breathing in the right position; there’s music with benevolent subliminal suggestion, and there is permission to let your flying fingers on keyboard or unlined paper, run free and easy without judgement or caution of your dictatorial Left Brain.
While you’re “In the Zone” you hardly know what this epistle is turning out to be. You can write for hours at a time. Later, you’ll read and outline what your Author Within decided to tell the world. It may not be, at all, what you expected. In fact, it’s better to go into this with no expectations, at all, as to what topic to write about.
This past weekend, March 19-22, I met with about forty brave souls, in person, and a batch of other writers, located all over the world, attending remotely, the Tom Bird Writer’s Retreat in Sedona, Arizona. Many of these remote attendees worked throughout their own nights, since they were on the opposite side of the globe. Now, that takes real desire to become a published author!
I had attended a sample presentation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this January. Since I’d then been poking along on writing my fourth book for a whole year, I was particularly intrigued by Tom’s claim that I could “Write a book in a weekend!” What? My three other books didn’t come out that quickly! Is this the “fast food” of the publishing industry?
What kind of valuable work could emerge from my poor brain at the speed of light? Don’t our tomes need to be mulled and researched and worried to death (ie: left-brained) in order to qualify for consideration in the world’s Opinion Market? In a word…. No! Throughout history, literary geniuses have flash-written their best works. Those poured out as fast as the pen could fly. Wouldn’t I like that to happen to me, too? In a word….. Yes!
And it did! Tom’s method is a combination of Brain Science and Divination, honed over three decades of helping authors get off the pot and into publication. He is a Seer and makes no bones about that. But, as a Professor of the Craft of Writing, he lets his students discover their own truths by giving them the right conditions and the correct small and personal questions to get the floodgates open. Then, he circulates among us as we scribble words coming through our fingertips. He must be studying our aura or our energy intensity fingerprint, but he seems to know a good deal about what is going on inside. He softly drops occasional comments pertinent to what we happen to be writing.
The book that wanted me to write it wasn’t the one I wished to see upon my plate. I had hoped to be surprised by a stunning piece of fiction, pouring its irresistible story upon the page. But, the matter flowing from my fingers would require me to tell a secret that I didn’t want to reveal. Tears flowed and I struggled.
My writing output slowed. Every fifteen minutes, an alarm goes off and we must count our word output. This Left Brain crumb, apparently, keeps it happy. In the January Santa Fe Workshop, my writing speed was very fast. Now, with my secret grabbing the mental doorjamb, my words were slow and agonized. Tom noticed this and gave encouragement: “This is the most important book you will ever write!”
I know it was, because it was about my Inner Voices; telling how They started and the life difficulties that
They caused. The secret had to do with Something that I’d been told by the first Big, Loud, Inner Voice I’d ever heard. I had never told anyone about it and never intended to. Now, it was pushing to get out! It did get out, with the help of a consultation with a Counsellor standing by.
But, you’ll have to read my resulting book to learn just what it was and why I wouldn’t talk about it!
By the way, we all went home with a completed manuscript… nowhere near ready to publish. There’s a great deal of work to do under the guidance of Tom and his staff. But, the skeleton is complete and each book is fresh and inspired. And for those of us accepted into his Publishing House, we will not be struggling alone.
Self-examination can be dangerous! Especially when one changes the usual schedule of life and learns too many new and challenging things…..all at once!
I have deliberately stopped traveling for awhile for several temporarily good reasons: A long visit with my family; time for a dog-damaged left hand to heal; study time to learn some new skills, such as how to improve, massage and finally put to use my photography and also how to discover ways to bring my websites and blogs into the 21st Century. After all, this one was established in 2008 and the other in 2010. Eons ago, as far as website development is concerned.
The old adage about “The More You Know/The Less You Know”…. proves true in my case, all right! As I read my new books about how to create really good, attractive, navigable, Killer Websites, which will attract many readers, add something to the general learning curve of humanity, as well as bring in some traveling money for the resident blogger; I become embarrassed by my own website, which is very confusing and out-of-date on most of its pages. My apologies to all! I’ve been treating it like a journal…. and that part, I’ll keep on doing, because after all, it’s a report of a solo intrepid traveler of a certain age, whose unpredictability is part of the charm. But, this present state is now to be looked upon as a “Before.”
I’m going to take you along on my own painful journey of self-improvement as I struggle to reconstruct my website all by myself…..as these books say that I can. Don’t worry! I have a web designer in the background if I need to call for help. But the “rawther flakey” idea of a technophobic, late-in-life, blogger following do-it-yourself web instructions out of a self-help book, should be an interesting phenomenon…..just as interesting as the foreign countries I have been crashing around in.
So, Heads Up Everybody! Familiarize yourself with all the flaws presently showing here, because very soon, they shall disappear and a model website and maximized blog will take its place! And, if by any chance, you have always told yourself that you would really like to become a blogger but you’re too old to learn or you wouldn’t know how to begin….well now, take heart! Because, if I can do it, so can you!
Heck, these books even swear that I can design a whole new, practically free, website right from scratch, using WordPress…..in TWO hours time! And I plan to prove them right. I might make a whole bevy of them and link them together to increase my SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as I do plan to link my two, long-term but entirely different, existing websites. Hey Boomers with my metaphysical one, www.insecretdiffusion.com.
By the time I resume my travels and start swanning around in beachside cafes again; we’ll either have beauty and usability (and did I mention profit from all my ad sales?) on this site….or a defeated and disappointed wanna-be techie launching herself back into the comforting unfamiliarity of a new country.
Just in case you want to start building your own website, these are the well-thumbed books currently on my nightstand:
“How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul” by Ruth Soukup
“How to Make Money Blogging/How I Replaced My Day Job With Blogging” by Bob Lotich
“How to Start A Blog That People Will Read” by Mike Omar
“Photoshop Elements 12” by Nick Vandome
IN THE UNESCO HERITAGE OLD TOWN OF COLONIA, URUGUAY ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON – Five Spanish guitars serenade We of the Yellow Umbrellas; me, of the tall, yellow orange juice. This outdoor café with tables and shade-makers filling the cobblestones sits between two red ‘brella restaurants; our live musicians competing softly. Color, sound, breeze, hot sun, bluest sky and greenest trees. Not a cloud above. My pink building restaurant is named “impeccable.” River-stone buildings, slightly jail-like, with romantic black window grillwork as benevolent barred protection for geranium sill plants.
I can see the river, and ghostly on the horizon, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maybe the Buquebus Ferry will pass on its hour-ride between countries. It’s the River de la Plata, but it looks like a brownish ocean from here. Just now, the guitarists have made drums of their instruments while one of them sells CDs and mingles with dinner fans.
I can see why South Americans are such dancers. How can anyone stay still? Except that these cobblestones are no little uniform, egg-shaped things, but weird and wide, black granite slabs, with space between and slanty, up and down. Walking safely is a skill. I doubt if there’s any dancing in the streets here in this Historical Old Town of Colonia, Uruguay. Surely, indoors, and late at night! Even meals don’t get rolling till 10:00 p.m.; well after the sun goes down and the land cools off. That’s a little late for me.
I’m in Colonia for a week doing research on the luxury hotels and pousadas that I plan to use for the tours I’m designing: “Luxury Expat Due Diligence Tours of Uruguay,” which will be 7-day or 14-days long, beginning in late March. There are more than enough 4 and 5 star lodgings of all designs….. from Radisson and Sheraton-types to lush, plant and color-filled pousadas with tinkling fountains and lovely center garden patios. I’m opting for the smaller ones, even if our group fills several. Wandering around this historical, colonial town has convinced me that this is where I want to live for awhile when my lease is up in Montevideo. It’s a much more manageable but sophisticated small town. And yet, I still must explore the rest of the country, visualizing and planning the rest of the tour. Perhaps, I’ll feel that way about all of them?
In Colonia, there’s an endless, upon endless, happy and true discovery of good stuff! Food under all these umbrella enclaves…. and of course, within the air-conditioned restaurant interiors along every tree-lined sidewalk. Shops, with artisan crafts, semi-precious stones, woolen colorful weavings, high fashions, knitted-by-hand clothing.
I could have spent so much money in Roxanna’s sweater shop….. and indeed, I plan to, this winter. Glad it was hot today. I’m a turtleneck freak, always on the lookout. I tried a T-neck, crew sweater on. Two, actually, a beige and a navy one. The wool is from local sheep, snugly soft. I could feel the abundance of lanolin but not the smell or slipperiness. Have I completely lost my sense of proportion, when I believe that $70 is a steal? Roxanna has knit them all. A whole shop full and you just know that she would do a special order on the spot. Capes, too. And every sort of shapely sweater in every sort of color.
Her shop is the coral-colored one, down the way from The Drugstore, a restaurant so famous and so busy that it takes two hours to work your way through a meal. There are polka-dot tablecloths on riot inside, but I sat outdoors, cuddled up to the antique green jalopy with a big fern growing out of its rumble seat. This was directly across from the old Spanish Basilica, which I’d just visited. Cool and white inside, steeped in prayers.
I’ve fallen in love with Colonia’s Sycamore-Tree-lined streets. It’s shady, shady underneath. The trade-off is that their roots have absolutely tumbled the sidewalks here. However, people who live with granite slab streets have learned to balance and keep a good eye out. We can all co-exist with nature when it’s so very good to us, as it is in Colonia. Plants riot to be beautiful, healthy and green. An ongoing beauty contest!
Except…… you can’t tell where you are because every intersection looks the same. Not complaining! These are tall, tall, light green, leafy trees cloistering low, faded-crimson, or brilliant yellow, stone buildings, which themselves, hide secret flower-strewn patios. I get lost so often but don’t mind at all. It might be called discovery if I could replicate it. But the next time, I can’t find the new places I’d gleefully stumbled across. This wraps all in a constant sense of mystery. Shangri-La, I think.
Now and then, in the big city of Montevideo, where I currently live, I’ll come across one of those streets with Sycamores and I stop and admire and promise myself that, one day, I’ll live on one. Well, it’s in my power now and it will happen. Just can’t tell when.
The tour-planning idea is coming to maturity very rapidly. Within a week, it’s grown from infancy to teenager. I’m having fun raising it and dreaming. This first, special town I’ve come to, is so full of sweet pousadas, luxurious and precious; so many it’s hard to choose. So many, we can vary them from tour to tour.
Google this one where I now sit: The Pousada del Governador, www.delgobernador.com I’m hiding from the heat in the colorful Great Room. Bright lime and yellow-clothed breakfast tables; a sunshine-colored wall and a glass façade and a fountain garden; plants, inside and out; an emerald swimming pool with a jewel, hedge-hemmed lawn. This best hotel, smack next to the ancient basilica, actively worshiping still, within the heart of town. Here. in this lovely place, we will headquarter our groups when we’re in Colonia.
With so much going on, every single day is full of meaning and there’s so much to do. Tomorrow, I travel a few miles back towards Montevideo for another stopover in a Horse Ranch Hostel to check that out and maybe ride a horse. It’s been a long, long time! Such a variety of options in such a small area!
I’ve been living in Montevideo, Uruguay, on South America’s Atlantic Coast, for twenty-three days now and I’m happy, healthy and well on my way to a marvelous adventure. There’s so much potential for my life in the new year of 2014, working on becoming an Overseas American, commonly called an expat.
First, I’ll let you try on my brand-new moccasins and walk the first mile with me. From the airport, on Thanksgiving Day, I taxied to my reserved three-star Tres Cruces Hotel for five nights to lick the jet lag and then, begin my exploration of this capital city. My hotel was near the central bus terminal, where big, gorgeous buses depart for cities all over the country, as well as Argentina and Brazil, our closest neighbors. Uruguay is the size of Washington State, so everything is just a few hours away and tickets are reasonably-priced. However, nothing is cheap here. Costs are on a par with the United States. You can buy anything, though you’ll pay more for imported products, especially electronics. I learned about all this by strolling through an elaborate, Christmas-festooned, Mall above the bus station. It felt just like home…. brands, styles, prices and all. The big difference is that everything’s in Spanish. What did I expect? It’s South America!
But that’s okay! I’m determined to dredge up my high school Spanish and, eventually, take some language classes. Meanwhile, a lot of early-learning is coming back to me. So far, so good, with lots of smiles and funny gestures, wild stabs at vocabulary. A few people here do speak English or have a smattering to equal my poor Spanish. When I demonstrate that I’m quite happy to make a fool of myself , giving their language a try; then they will do that too. It’s the dignity thing. We usually laugh a lot and wind up exchanging names and shaking hands. Actually, quite fun. Otherwise, “Whatcha’ gonna’ do?”
Except for the language, Uruguayans are indistinguishable from Americans, though about ninety-percent of them are Caucasian. There’s a much greater racial mix in North America, than here. All early settlers here were Portuguese, Spanish, French, German or Italian. Hardly any British. A good bit of their present identity is tangled-up with their great-grandparents. I’ve met someone springing from the Basque region of France; another from German stock; an Italian pasta-maker’s descendant, and so on. What do they eat? Breads, pizza, pasta, sausages, beef, beef, beef, chicken and all meats….and a whole lot of Big Macs. I expected more fish and it is on menus, but pretty much neglected. Their local wine is good. There’s a massive item on the menu, called a Parrillada (Pa-ree-zha-da), with meat and fish and veggie on the barbeque. Yum!
My next ten days were spent in the historic district of Montevideo, Ciudad Vieja. I’ve already written about my happy time in The Hanging Gardens of Babylon Hostel, right on the pedestrian-only shopping avenue and an easy walk to the waterfront. By then, I was studying my expat manual: Escape to Uruguay, by David Hammond and the staff of International Living, bought at the November conference for $65 and worth every penny. How I’ve underlined!
You see, I decided to try actually living overseas, in my usual, wingdingarooney fashion, without much pre-planning.. Granted, for two years, I’ve paid close attention to International Living’s wise and plentiful advices. I’ve attended two IL training conferences, albeit, about making money while abroad and I’ve certainly stayed awhile in many lands and islands. “How hard can it be, for heaven’s sakes?”
It’s not exactly easy because it feels so scattered. I want more hand-holding than a manual!
What I’m doing about the official paperwork, right now, isn’t hard. What I’ll need to do in order to qualify for long-term residency, which has many advantages such as entre to their excellent healthcare system, is also, not HARD. Especially, when taken one item at a time, as presented in the manual. I’m even traveling with three important necessary documents on my person: birth, marriage and divorce certificates. Plus, I stopped in Florida for a police background check and fingerprints in Clearwater, where I used to live. But, I have learned already that it’s pretty frustrating and I haven’t even started yet.
Last week, still feeling innocently blasé about all this, I requested an appointment with an IL-recommended law firm in order to turn-in the few papers I’m carrying my satchel and set the clock ticking for my Rentista Visa. Ooops! I’m nowhere near prepared for that! Let me count the ways:
- My documents all need to be Apostilled, (a special stamp) and to do that I must send them to the U.S. State Department office for the region in which they were created: N.Y. for birth, and Florida, for marriage and divorce.
- The local, five-year, police clearance is not enough. I have to get a thorough investigation by the FBI, in all my names, and must send away for that. I can hire some company online for $18 to accomplish this and supply the results to me. Otherwise, my lawyer must accompany me to Interpol here, for the same type of investigation. But, FBI is the favored choice.
- I must obtain proof of my retirement income from overseas. Well, that was easy. I went to the Social Security website, www.myssa.gov, and now have that proof.
- To open a bank account here, my bank at home must supply a letter of recommendation. Done!
- I need to compose a Letter of Intent, stating my desire to become a resident and then, have it, and all of the above, copied in Spanish by a certified public translator. Then, I’ll submit the package to the Immigration Office. This allows me to overstay my three-month visa deadline, while waiting for all of the paper-processing to be completed in three to five months.
- A fairly simple Health Checkup Certificate is something I have yet to schedule here but that should be easy.
There are months of waiting, in-between official appointments and a lot of bird-dogging to keep the process moving right along. It’s probably an easier time than foreigners have obtaining their U.S. residency or citizenship, though.
Reading the above list, my brain admits that it looks ridiculously easy. It IS possible to do this all myself and I will later scoff at my “paperwork panic” of the moment. But there are reasons why law firms charge close to $3000, plus $500 in official fees, to help us get this done correctly. A tiny error in language or perception; a missed appointment; a forgotten duty somewhere, during the three to five year process, can sink our ship and we might have to start all over again.
However, I must now ask myself:
“Is three weeks of trying this country on for size, really long enough for me to know whether it’s the one I’ll ultimately choose to stay at home in?”
And, a little voice inside replies: “It’s almost like marrying somebody! You’d better date awhile!”
As time goes by, I plan to share with you….The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, as I live and breathe the expat process. But, I’ll tell you one thing right now. Something wonderful HAS occurred within me because of this unfamiliar…and nerve-wracking….. need to get all my ducks in a row and make them march in unison…. in Spanish, no less!
It’s a bright idea to create some investigative tours here, designed to take wanna-be expats by the hand, in advance of moving in. Certainly, before buying property. And even, as a way to choose which locality, or country, works the best for them. To help them do their recommended Due Diligence (which I’m doing now, alone, and after my arrival) in pre-move increments.
All that paperwork could be sliced and diced at home, brought along for Spanish-Spellcheck, so to speak. Every picky detail….like how to ship their furniture or car…. or bring their pets….. or start a business, could be thoroughly addressed in bus and hotel lectures by professionals, who will later get their business. Many for sale property showings, strolls through grocery stores and malls; a trying on of life, during an off-season vacation in luxury hotels all over this fascinating, highly-varied country.
Right now, the only choice to cope with this mountain-high, learning curve, is to fly down here alone, or as a bewildered couple; book in hand…. of they’ve opted to buy one….and, befuddled, stand on a street corner, wondering where in the heck to begin???? There’s just no time to muck about and make stabs at stuff when your time is limited. It’s expensive and inefficient. Yet, it’s all we’ve got right now. Re-invent The Wheel, maybe with printed instructions, if we’re lucky.
I may be the most-confused New Kid On The Block, but I do know how to plan great tours, having cut my teeth on doing this in the early days of the opening of the Soviet Union. It’s been awhile….. but, it’s just like riding a bicycle. At least, these tours would be a choice! Those folks who still want to muddle through alone can certainly continue to do that. But the rest of us could make it fun! Who wants to go with me?
EXPAT LUXURY DUE DILIGENCE TOURS
7 Days….. $1995 14 Days….$3495
Next blog post: see how I’m faring in my 202 sq. ft., not-cheap, apartment! While dreaming up the way things “oughta’ be!” It’s actually quite par for the course for me!
What’s even better than traveling the world, spending money right and left to get where you’re going; eating every culture’s delicious cooking… sampling their wine…. right in the valley where it was harvested?
Far better than that is to sit in a room with a hundred others of your “somewhat advanced” generation, and know that the world is right at your fingertips, just waiting to be plucked and plonked into your own personal future. We, wanna-be expats here at this International Living conference, are all such enthusiastic optimists! Preparing to start over in a foreign-speaking country of our choosing, trying to decide which money-making opportunity to zero in on, and how much time we wish to devote to our new career. As opposed to how much hammock therapy is necessary. The beauty of it is that we truly can choose the outlines of a new life abroad and, for the next two days, will have so many experts and such great resources to draw upon.
It’s 6 a.m., here in Phoenix at the Fund Your Life Overseas Conference sponsored by International Living Magazine, and I’m bouncing with new ideas. Expect to see more frequent postings on this site as I try to capture the flavour of what it’s like to Start Over Again, as opposed to the many years that I spent thinking about it on the world trail, trying to figure out where I wanted to live when I grew up. Last month, I realized that it was time to cut to the question, pick a country…”Eeenie, meenie, minie, moe!” and just up and do it! I bought a one-way ticket to Montevideo, Uruguay. Why not?
Suddenly, this is me in motion, already so excited I can hardly sleep. Plus, I’m auditioning for a new job that gobsmacked me as I walked across the hotel lobby last night. Imagine that!? I merely reported to a conference official that the restroom doors were still locked in our networking area, and in the course of our solving that, she invited me to write for IL’s new publication, Income Stream, a column called “The First Year,” giving the fresh perspective of a newbie expat. Wow, I can do that because it’s what this blog and my Hey Boomers book has been about all along: how it feels to throw yourself out on an unsuspecting world and to survive most grandly.
The new ingredient to the expat angle is that you don’t have to go broke doing it. In fact, money is at the root of our decision to leave home in the first place. It just doesn’t stretch as far in this country any more, so most of us must become creative and proactive while we wake up and harvest the roses somewhere else. And boy, are there a whole lot of good possibilities waiting to be plucked up:
There’s a franchise called Tutor Doctor where you build and manage a network of tutors anywhere in the world; as well as programs for six-figure copywriting, travel writing and other ways to generate a living from your keyboard. Turnkey ecommerce businesses in a box, selling all sorts of drop-ship items, can be custom-designed or bought readymade with expert mentoring throughout. There are also careers in niche tour leading; international real estate investments, which you can now learn about just as they appear on the market; stock photography websites creating ongoing cash flow for your best vacation shots. And there’s always English teaching jobs, worldwide. Any one of these exciting ways to earn money can give you autonomy and freedom to make a moveable feast of your life.
Retirement could be the best job you ever had! And possibly, the busiest. But only if you want it that way. Hammock time is important too.
Where and when, in my journey of ten-thousand miles (and counting) did I decide to become an expat? And exactly what is that, anyway?
Well, an expat is still a loyal American and isn’t leaving this country in a huff to make a statement of protest. In fact, those who move offshore are upstanding senior citizens, with family and property in the U.S., seeking ways to live well on their retirement income in countries where the dollar stretches to allow a far-better lifestyle than is possible here at home.
Right now, I’m luxuriating at the Hilton Phoenix Mesa Hotel, on the first day of International Living’s Fund Your Life Overseas three-day Conference. In less than three weeks, I’ll be exploring Montevideo, Uruguay, as a new American expat, and I’ll take you with me, step-by-step, into my new life. Where will I live? Who will I know? What will fill my days? Will I actually learn Spanish this time?
Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Yikes!
I’ll write about it all, naturally; but it dawned on me that I should also capture this adventure visually. I’m even thinking of buying a camcorder to tape my reports from ground zero. Maybe, someday, you’d like to follow in my footsteps? Possibly, I can help you to take heart and make your own retirement-enhancing opportunities. Believe me, I couldn’t have done this alone. I wouldn’t have known where to start.
My Social Security has funded two year-long meandering solo journeys around this globe, but I’d never have had a clue that the Expat Opportunity even existed if I hadn’t stumbled upon INTERNATIONAL LIVING MAGAZINE, (IL), http://www.InternationalLiving.com, about two years ago. My latest trip around the Southern Hemisphere took me to the West Coast in July, 2012, to head across the Pacific. When I learned that IL’s Travel Writing Conference in San Francisco coincided with my schedule, I signed up for it as an obvious way to turn my passion for global wandering into an income stream. It would certainly help justify these itchy feet if they kicked up a little cash, now and then.
But the conference did so much more than hone my interest in travel writing. After all, I was already a published author, times three; with a travel book aimed towards senior citizens. I had two active blogs and a passion for constantly writing in my journal. How hard could it be? As it turned out, the magazine writing is still waiting to take off, because leisure, privacy, and Wi-Fi connections to nurture that trade, were hard to come by, given my rough-travel lifestyle on this pass around the globe.
I frequently stayed in hostels’ mixed dormitories; sleeping in bunk beds and sharing bathrooms down the hall. Plus, I was socializing and kicking back with people a third my age and I couldn’t just disappear into my computer upon check-in. This setup is not conducive to serious writing; though truly, I found article composition easier than the research necessary to query magazines and fulfil their editorial requirements. It’s just not exactly a hostel-friendly activity but I have big plans to crank out some beautiful articles using my notes and photos generated on that trip once I settle down in my new expat routine in Uruguay.
And that whole plan could not have happened if I hadn’t attended the International Living conference on my way overseas. Because, once this dedicated staff embraces you, they will never abandon you! To be sure, I joined their ranks as a lifetime member and have since signed up for many perks and online study courses…..because their goals fit mine perfectly. I hear from them more often that I do from friends and family!
A very big part of International Living’s goal is helping retirees identify their very best international city to settle in, and then, helping us find ways to create or supplement an income if we need to do so. Thirty-five years of specializing in how to earn a living overseas has given them a true overview of wealth production because their many protégées have reinvented themselves so creatively. Many turn into entrepreneurs with businesses they didn’t expect to discover; perhaps trading on a hobby or a brand-new idea to fill a niche. Others go online in home-based businesses they can operate from a hammock on the beach…. if they can type better than I can lying down. Because of new digital possibilities, we have, virtually, no limitations.
Thanks to International Living, I believe in myself even more and am ready to tackle the scary part of trying to stay still in one place for a long time, rather than the global swanning about that I’ve become so good at, lately. Thus begins my report to you as to how this is working for me.
Yes, it’s true. My life is just about to begin again at the fantastic, and completely optimistic age of 76 and counting. After a lovely month here in Golden, Colorado, near Denver, with my darling family, I’m launching a new career in a new country, where I know no one and don’t speak the native language – Spanish. Not a problem! I’ll make new friends and take language classes. It won’t be much different from changing countries every few weeks on my around-the-world travels, except that I’ll be looking for a more permanent home base.
A few days from now, I fly to Phoenix, Arizona, to attend International Living Magazine’s conference, Fund Your Life Overseas, designed to teach retirees how to live and work offshore much more economically than is possible here in the United States. For 35 years, IL has been helping seniors settle in countries where their social security will stretch further and where health care is as good, or superior to, what is found here at home. By now, they have also identified careers that can be done by computer from anywhere in the world….. a beautiful beach in Thailand or Belize…for instance, and that is the theme of this meeting I’ll be attending next week.
Fortunately, I don’t need to work but am keen to see how to earn money from things that come naturally to me, such as writing: blogging, advertising copywriting, travel writing and book production; or taking pictures as I go: stock photography; or selling things that I’m passionate about online through an ecommerce version.
That would include items which have proved essential to me as a world traveller: flight suits/jump suits (that 1970’s beloved style, which I have always adored), now roaring back into fashion. BUT, I must locate or invent a drop-seat version and find those styles suitable to women over 21. Other essentials are the exact-right-sort of belly bag to carry the brains of your operation: passport, credit/debit cards, checkbook or register, cash and, most important, lipstick. You wouldn’t believe how many badly-fitting belly bags are out there! This goes for the no-nonsense, small, backpack that substitutes for a purse on the road. I don’t want to look like a schoolkid, but I do need the space for my laptop, my journal, my Kleenex, current reading material and all other essential travel stuff.
Plus, every time I schlep my suitcase and carry-on bags to and fro, I mentally design the kind of luggage cart that no one has made yet: one with a wheelbase like a stroller or baby carriage, instead of the present kind which puts all the weight on your dragging or pushing shoulder. This seems like a no-brainer to me, along with drop-seats on your jump suit…. but manufacturers seem not to have woken up to this. Anyway, these are the items that my fictional ecommerce site would carry if I decide to go that route.
Now, where am I headed on this Reinvention Phase of my life? To Uruguay, down on the Atlantic Coast of South America, just a tad north of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s a wonderful country and very high on International Living’s scoreboard of great places for expats to settle. Modern; European; much less expensive than the U.S.; high standard of medical care; quiet political situation, with parties taking turns in office; well-educated population; Spanish-speaking but a fair amount of English spoken in the cities. Uruguay’s long coastline forms the “Italian Riviera of South America,” where Brazilians and Argentines flock in summertime and rentals are so high that people snap up any properties for sale as great real estate investments.
I was in the beautiful old town of Colonia del Sacramento in 2009 and I completely loved it. Trees grow across the cosy streets, meeting in a green canopy and casting backlighting over the small downtown. Vintage cars sit in front of little cafes with tiny tables in their center and upholstered, old-fashioned car benches for a couple to eat their meal in private. Rusty old Model T convertibles, serve as flower boxes with riots of red geraniums in bloom. It’s very charming. So, I’m expecting similar surprises throughout the whole country.
We’ll soon see, as I land in the capital, Montevideo, on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, after a few days in the old hometowns of Clearwater/Dunedin, Florida to wrap up all business on the way south. Stay tuned!