We are a small community of about twenty Expats, couples and singles, from England, Canada and the US. Each each of us has our own complete apartment. But, six days a week, breakfast and dinner are served in a beautiful dining room. There is also a separate library containing a large variety of beautiful books. Because of the careful precautions in cleaning and limited entry, we are very safe from the current virus infections. Right now, no one in Mexico is free to walk about. But in the future, this forested lakefront will again be available for strolls.
Pets are allowed and I have always wished that my traveling lifestyle permitted me to have a small doggie. There are several here so I borrow hugs.
But, voila! Here´s a solution I´ll bet you´ve never thought of!: My bathroom is the residence of Soda, the Denver family´s Golden Retriever, who recently had to be put down due to old age. He suddenly appeared in my washcloth here.
Now, he´s beginning to speak Spanish; often telling me to “Get into the shower! Now!”
I simply reply: “Oh go jump in the lake!”
Well, we´re all supposed to “Spring Forward” in April! Looks like I´ve already done that in March by moving permanently to Mexico! Plus,in April we will move our clocks forward. May we also, as a planet, successfully move forward through these testing times and come out happily at the other end!
I´m making a New Year Resolution to blog more frequently on both of these blog sites, now that I have truly Retired from my constant, around-the-world, travel life. Formerly, I have called myself a Road Warrior…. always on the move as I exhausted one country´s visa length after another. Though I had rented for six months, through June, 2020, (and then abandoned…see my previous blog) an apartment in Colonia, Uruguay, my more frequent housing solution, anywhere in the world, has been hostel living.
Now, I have a large, beautifully-furnished, one bedroom private apartment within a lovely retirement community called The Penthouse. We are only a block from the extensive shore of Lake Chapala, just outside of the tiny town of Ajjic, Mexico. That´s only an hour from the international airport of Guadalajara. So, I´m within reach of everything and am only a four-hour, direct flight from my family in Denver.
At twenty residents here, we seniors are all family, as well. We enjoy two bounteous and delicious meals in the lovely dining room together: breakfast at 9 am and dinner at 5 pm, every day except Sunday. I barely have time to get hungry in between meals, so, I also enjoy my creative day off to use my own kitchen on my own timeframe.
The kitchen has become my office, as well. Because the generous, dining table is a most adequate typing space, with windows overlooking the massive, skyblue swimming pool in the side yard. Sometimes, work on typing up my next manuscript, screenplay or blog, gets interrupted when I hear my new friends splashing around in the late afternoon sun. They sound almost like kids and I am tempted to pop on my suit and go join them. We´re gradually getting acquainted in catch-as-catch-can conversations. There are a few couples, but most of us are singles. Very USA-similar, all English-speaking. In stark contrast to the international. younger population of hosteling backpackers, who also spoke English but with a variety of accents, backgrounds and travel plans. I´m not quite the oldest one here, however; and happy I am to turn over that crown to 95-year-old Pauline!
So, what else is new? COVID 19! Coronavirus 19 is new! In every country of the planet…. Instantly! That´s what!
No one is permitted to freely world travel any more unless they have an emergency! In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined how to make world-wide, compulsive handwashing mandatory! But, so it has become! Nor, could we have foreseen the serious factors: sudden illness, massive deaths, loss of jobs and fortunes, irrespective of country or climate. ALREADY! In just a few weeks!
Even if the virus dates as far back as January this year, nobody took it that seriously until early March. Jennifer and I had no compunction about flying to Mexico on March 9, to check me in here at The Penthouse. We did carry face masks just in case we needed them and we were wary if we heard coughing. Nor had The Penthouse, at that time, gone on lockdown! I might not have been accepted to fill their only vacancy if it had been even one week later. Terms like Social Distancing, Self-Quarantine, or Six Feet Apart, were not yet trends. But that rapidly changed during those middle days of March.
I even saw a new face here after my initial three weeks had passed! My arrival had sent her into isolation, just in case. All of us in the world have to think like this now, and we do not even leave our compound unless we have some emergency. We certainly don´t mind our Lockdown. This is a mighty cosy and loving place to live through the Lockdown stages!
Note: I have taken lots of gorgeous photos but they are on the cell phone. Soon I´ll figure out how to post them here. In the meantime….. Stay tuned!
(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’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!
After finishing my six-weeks of petsitting in San Isidro de Grecia, I returned to Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. Fortune certainly smiled on me when I selected the Fauna Luxury Hostel out of a long list on Hostelword.com. This is, by far, the BEST hostel I have ever stayed in! And, I have stayed in hundreds all over the world by now. Here are pictures to prove my point:Lobby and Front Desk
I haven’t published any exciting details of my life here in Grecia, Costa Rica, housesitting and petsitting for a lovely and lively young doggie, Cara. My excuse is a good one, however. While I temporarily settle into a quiet, suburban expat life in a modern community; I am finally able to cope with an enormous editing/writing project that I couldn’t have done within my parapatetic traveling life.
I brought about 40 handwritten journals of my recent travels, which also contain details of my most-unusual inner, psychic life. My sister almost threw them in the dump when this journal collection landed on her plate but agreed to hold off until I arrived. I’m sure this is typical of most psychic’s relatives.
Since dogs are not the best conversationalists, we petsitters know to equipe ourselves with time-fillers: paperbacks or online haunts and duties. Or old journals to tear apart according to topic and then to retype for online distribution. That’s where I am now. Cara has my presence fulltime! Though, can you believe? She STILL competes for my attention with my computer!!! An egomaniacal young doggie! I try not to encourage that ego buildup.
Anyway, I’ll have these jounals gutted by the time her owner, Kathy, returns; and maybe I’ll rent a cabin on the beach to type them up? Or I’ll take a break and finish in the next spot I land in? My life is sooo flexible! It’s certainly an advantage to fashion ones’ self as a writer. Because that very designation identifies you as an analyzer who writes about what you discern under the covers: maybe, a dog’s influence upon your life? I hope my input is of a higher quality!!!
So, thanks to this dog, I have set a goal for myself that keeps me on target to keep winnowing my journals. Naturally, I’m creating more diaries as I go; but trying not to be so loquacious.
Can you say that about the animal in your life?
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!
Dancing right along!
I’m in the sixth month of my Mexican visa and have to travel on instead of jumping through legal hoops to continue; though even that requires a border run. I can always return for another half year after time spent in Central or South America…. if I’m homesick. This time in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has been so much fun that I’ve been taking dancing lessons. Not since high school have I thought about fast -dancing or even the Foxtrot. Now, in Ari’s well-trained arms, I see that the boys in my class did slightly different steps and we certainly held each other much closer, but Elvis hasn’t changed.
But, in two weeks, I’ll be in San Jose, Costa Rica, for another three-day International Living Conference and then a six-week, dogsitting/housesitting opportunity in nearby San Isidro. Then I’ll explore the country for over a month and return to the same home for more dogsitting until October.
Will I find a chance-to-dance in Costa Rica? Not unless little hound dogs know how! But dancefloor calesthenics have got me in shape!
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 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.