Tag Archives: travel

Traveling Solo This Winter

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Traveling Solo This Winter

This has been a very different winter for me here in Mexico. When I left Culiacan back in November, I was determined to explore parts of Mexico that I had never seen before. When I lived in Guadalajara, I traveled to various pueblos on the weekends. I visited friends in Mexico City. I lived in Irapuato for a few months and checked out Guanajuato. But there was still lots of new territory left to explore in central Mexico.

Many of my friends back in Washington were skeptical about my plans. You’re going to travel alone? You’re going to take overnight buses? You’re going to a place where you know no-one? You’re not sure where you will wind up or for how long? But that’s exactly what I have been doing for the past few months and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

When I first arrived in San Ciro de Acosta, I marveled at the quaintness and the simplicity of life there. The town didn’t even have a bank. You couldn’t use a credit card here if your life depended on it. It was like stepping back several decades in time. And I thought that a couple of weeks here would suffice.

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But I was mistaken. I spent two of the most relaxing months of my life in San Ciro. I had time to work on my book without interruption. More importantly, for the first time in a decade, I had time for ME. I had time to contemplate life, time to process all the changes, time to reflect on my experiences and time to think about what lies ahead.

When I felt ready to leave, my destination was the city of Aguascalientes. Former students had raved about the beauty of this city and I was eager to see it for myself. And I have not been disappointed. The museums, churches and parks are amazing. It is such a clean city and is right up there with the Yucatan in terms of safety. Initially I planned on a one month stay.

But as the one month mark drew near, I knew that a second month was definitely in the wings. And when the second month drew near, I knew that a third month was indicated. And as the third month is drawing near, I am seriously considering returning here next winter for several months.

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Years ago my therapist remarked to me that I was fortunate that I made friends easily and adapted well to new situations. Sometimes this blessing is also a curse. While the transient lifestyle has its appeal, it also has its downside.The older I get, the harder it is to say good-bye to people I meet on my journey. However the friendships I have made are priceless and the growth I have experienced has been incredible.

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                                                     And that’s OK.

 

On This Day

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On This Day

Facebook has this remarkable feature entitled “On This Day” where I am reminded of what had gone on in my life by the posts I had made on that particular date. These memories are amazing. Some of them I can’t believe I had the audacity to share on Facebook while others are absolute treasures.

For example, this past week I saw photos of Mother’s Day celebrations with my kids in Winnipeg. This photo goes back to 2013 when I had returned to Winnipeg for knee surgery. Another photo dates back to 2015 when I had returned to Winnipeg for my book launch of Alive Again.

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A post from 2009 has me teaching an aquafit class at the West Portage YMCA and then going to a church service followed by lunch with friends. In 2011 I was in Culiacan, enjoying my first year teaching in Mexico. Back in 2015 Donna and I had gone on a tour of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.

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In 2016 I was in Mazatlan and in 2017 I was here in Leavenworth. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time.

On This Day is much more than a conglomeration of posts and events. It is the story of my emotional and spiritual growth. It depicts the trials and tribulations of being single again after thirty-six years of marriage. It hits on some of the more sensitive experiences and awesome adventures I’ve had in the past ten years.

Of  course there are numerous posts I could have written about my life, but the more personal issues are not things I care to share with the Facebook world. Much of my life will always remain private and will be known only by those closest to me. And that’s the way it should be.

The past ten years has seen me living in three different countries and in seven different cities. And yes, Kyle, your mother is still a nomad. Even U.S. Immigration has adopted that term in my conversation with them last month when I returned to Washington.

I think a lot about the meaning of life these days. I guess that comes with growing older. Time is precious and life is to be lived. The life I have chosen involves extensive exploration, exciting discoveries, constant change and adaptation. It is not the conservative, conventional life that I once so tightly embraced. It has drawn a magnitude of criticism from family and friends. Nonetheless it has become my mantra. And I’m sticking to it.

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On This Day, I reflect on all the remarkable people who have shared in my life in the past and continue to do so today. I am truly blessed to have friends wherever I may go. And I always look forward to the new friends I will meet on my journey, wherever that may take me.

And now it’s time for a Facebook post……………

Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

For someone who despises routine, I apparently do have one that includes packing, moving and unpacking. And it seems to be done on quite a regular basis. In the past month, I have repeated this process on my journey to Leavenworth from Mazatlan which included stays in Culiacan, Frankford and Toronto. And I have just moved again here in Leavenworth. While I am getting more efficient in organizing this whole process, it’s nice to finally unpack with the idea of staying here for a longer period of time.

My room is quite comfortable and is bright even on a gloomy, rainy day like today, a day very conducive to writing. It’s nice to slow down after a hectic week of packing and running around. Once I get this post up on my blog, I hear my characters calling in my current work in progress.

I once again joined the Bavarian Book Club at the Leavenworth Library. These meetings will be held immediately after my memoir writing class at the Methodist Church, so Mondays will be busy days. The book we are currently reading fits right in as it is a memoir of a family and culture in crisis entitled Hillbilly Elegy by author J.D. Vance.

I spent all day Tuesday at Grace Lutheran Church in Wenatchee with other fitness instructors. It was a most informative professional development day with presentations by physical therapists. It was also a great opportunity to interact with other SAIL instructors from across the state of Washington. The SAIL program is aimed at seniors and focuses on preventing falls as well as remaining fit.

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Wednesday was moving day in the morning followed by lunch and bridge at the Leavenworth Senior Center. And then it was major unpacking and organizing my bedroom. No idea where I found the energy but somehow I got it all done.

Yesterday I unexpectedly taught the fitness class in the morning as the scheduled instructor was unable to teach. Then it was off to Wenatchee to do some shopping in the afternoon. Dinner with a friend rounded out the day. We ate outside and to our delight saw a deer wander down the street.

The rain began last night and has continued throughout the day. It’s a great day to stay in and write. Skies are predicted to clear tomorrow so I intend to pursue some outdoor activities.

The view from my bedroom window at sunset, just a tad different from Mazatlan.

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Have a great weekend!

 

I’m Back!!!!!

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I’m Back!!!!!

It’s been over a month since I’ve written a post. That’s what happens when you travel and are distracted by things to do and limited internet access. But at least I remembered to take photos, and I am now in the process of organizing hundreds of them.

Here is a Coles Notes version of the past month. In future blog posts I will expand upon my adventures. But I did want to assure my readers that I have not merely dropped off the face of the earth.

I left Mazatlan on April 8th, the final day of Moto Week. The night before I had been hanging out with friends watching the motorcycle parade. Thousands of cyclists converge upon Mazatlan annually and the roar of engines is constant.

I arrived in Culiacan and spent a couple of days with my Mexican family. I enjoyed watching the kids frolic in a wading pool that first afternoon. The following day spring break was over and everyone was back at school. On Tuesday evening I found myself at the airport and boarded a flight for Mexico City.

I had a two hour layover before boarding the next flight to Toronto. I arrived in Toronto at 6 am to gloomy, cloudy skies. By the time my daughter came to get me at the airport, the rain had started. But my spirits brightened when I caught my first glimpse of my new granddaughter asleep in her car seat.

We headed to a mall for a while before heading out on the highway to Frankford. Once at my daughter’s home, I finally got to hold my granddaughter for the first time. It was amazing! This sweet little face gazed up at me with questioning eyes. Who are you? Why are you holding me?

After that any opportunity I had I held her in my arms, whether she was awake or asleep. My daughter is nursing and had expressed milk, so I even found myself giving Madeline a bottle in the aisle of Home Depot one afternoon.

The week I spent with them was a fleeting dream, and I soon found myself on a train heading back to Toronto. The hustle and bustle at Union Station at 5 pm was a tad overwhelming, but I found the next train that took me to a station close to where my friend Deborah lives.

My visit with Deborah was round three of an emotional journey. The first part was leaving my Culiacan family and the second was leaving my daughter and granddaughter. My friend Deborah almost lost her life last year to an infection last year and defied all odds by surviving emergency surgery and then learning to walk again. The time we spent together was special, but I soon found myself back at the airport.

I flew to Vancouver and then on to Seattle. It was a short two hour drive to Leavenworth. The three hour time change took its toll. I crashed for a few hours and then dove right into my usual routine. Exercise class, lunch at the senior center and then a craft afternoon.

Suddenly it’s Saturday and my first week back has flown by all too quickly. Only one photo for this post but many more to come in future posts. So stay tuned.

Who Still Likes To Fly?

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Who Still Likes To Fly?

I used to love to travel. But that was before you had to arrive at the terminal several hours before flight time. Before your bags had a weight limit or a charge attached to them. Before your carry-on became more and more limited in size and number. Before you had to place your electronic devices in separate trays. Before liquids were limited in size. Before sharp objects were outlawed. Before you had to go through body scanners. My knee replacements always trigger their alerts when I walk through the security area.

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I even recall a time when passports were not necessary in order to board a flight. I recall flying solo as a teenager before I even had a driver’s license and the only ID I had was the card they give you when you buy a wallet. Yes I even remember a time when the staff at Customs and Immigration smiled and made you feel welcome when you returned home to Canada.

A few months ago I flew back to Winnipeg after being away for a couple of years. And they ripped me apart. They went through my suitcase and my backpack. They asked me all kinds of questions that I considered were an invasion of my privacy. When the officer commented that I didn’t really spend much time in Canada, my reply was “With a welcome like this, why would I come back more often?”

Mexico has a system where you press a button and getting either a green or red light. In the past seven plus years I’ve always gotten the green light and I hope this continues until this system is phased out in the next couple of years.

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It’s getting a little trickier flying in to the USA since Trump has been around. But for the most part the American officials have been much more friendly than their Canadian counterparts.

I just booked a flight the other day with Interjet, an airline I have never flown with before. I’m off to Toronto to meet my new granddaughter.  I haven’t gone through Customs and Immigration in Toronto in a couple of years but I do recall long lineups in the past. But first I have a layover in Mexico City. The last time I was at that airport was eight years ago, and I expect that it has changed tremendously.

Yes, flying today is certainly more challenging today. But I still love the thrill of racing down the runway at take-off and that upward climb into the wild blue yonder………….. 

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Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

The weekend at my son’s flew by all too quickly. The highlight of the weekend, and of my entire visit to Winnipeg, was spending Mother’s Day with Kyle. I am so glad that I listened to that gut feeling I had back in November and booked a flight to Winnipeg. But goodbyes are harder each time as I have no idea when we’ll see each other again.

Nonetheless, I found myself on an early morning flight to Vancouver on Tuesday. And with the time change I gained two hours. Another short flight to Seattle, and I was on the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle into Peshastin, minutes away from Leavenworth.

My friends are always telling me that they envy the traveling that I do. Yes, it’s enjoyable and even fascinating, but there are times when I wish I could just put roots down somewhere and stop searching for somewhere to settle down.

Flying has become a tedious form of travel. I remember the days when I loved flying, especially the magical moments of taking off and landing. But that was back when two hours wasn’t required to clear security and customs, although the free WiFi does help pass the time.

The first security clearance was in Winnipeg. Long lineups of harried travelers. Laptop needs to go in a separate tray from my backpack and my purse. My state of the art supersonic knees always set off alarm bells, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to walk pain free. Now if only the body scanners were ever up and running at 5:30 am in Winnipeg………

To my delight Starbucks was conveniently located close to my gate. It’s amazing what a jolt of caffeine does to the body so early in the morning. By the time we boarded, I actually felt human again.

I slept through most of that flight and groggily sauntered through the Vancouver airport and stumbled upon a Carl’s Jr. A breakfast sandwich and another coffee soon revived me and I began the long trek to the wing housing the international flights and USA Immigration.

I lost track of the countless times my boarding pass and passport were checked. And then there was an additional security clearance, although I was already in a secured area. This check was a lot more thorough than the on by the Canadians in Winnipeg. Shoes off. Laptop and cell phone to be checked separately. Once again the knees performed their magic. Next was the computerized passport check. And I always manage to chop part of my head off in the photo.

And now it was time for my two favorite questions——–Where’s home? How long will you be in the USA? The answer to the first, according to my son, is that his mother is a nomad and has no real home. My reply to the Immigration officer was that Winnipeg was my home. The answer to the second question is in actuality until the snow flies. My reply to the Immigration Officer was that I’m really not sure, but at least one month.

Thank God there was another Starbuck’s close to my gate, although something a little stronger was definitely in order. But I knew that there was a Mack n Jack with my name on it in Washington. And I was getting closer. Just another short and uneventful flight to Seattle.

I was amazed that my bag was first off at the carousel and headed outside to get some fresh air. The sun was shining and it felt good after all that stale airplane air. But it soon clouded over and the rain began. The ride on the shuttle was rather interesting weatherwise. The rain turned to fog and then to freezing rain and then we drove for miles through a blizzard. Yes…….SNOW and lots of it! But at that altitude it isn’t uncommon. As we got closer to Peshastin, once again it was rain and then tapered off to heavy cloud.

Steve met the shuttle and loaded my bags into his SUV. We went in to Cashmere and had a wonderful dinner. I chose the chicken pot pie, quite suitable for a cool and rainy day, comfort food.

I woke up in Leavenworth this morning and did something rather rare for me. I unpacked my suitcase and my backpack! Maybe it was the brilliant sunshine that inspired me, but I smile because I know that I am finally somewhere that I want to call “home” for a few months. 

 

Semana Santa

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Semana Santa

Semana Santa has arrived, that dreaded time of year when the beaches here in Mazatlan are packed due to the invasion of vacationers from inland areas in Mexico. Children have two weeks off from school and the beach is always a popular spot. Of course there is also the added nightmare of the rerouting of traffic in an attempt to alleviate some of the congestion.

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I will be hiding out at the pool in our condo complex for the next three days.

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Then I will escape to Culiacan for a long overdue visit with my Mexican family.  We will attend the procession Friday morning to the cathedral. There are also special masses to be celebrated. Although I am not Catholic, I enjoy attending church and observing the traditions with my family.

Semana Santa is a busy time for all modes of travel, especially buses. Buses are crowded and it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, as opposed to merely showing up at the bus station and purchasing a ticket at the last minute, which is usually the norm here.

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When I lived in Canada Cadbury creme eggs symbolized Easter. When I lived in Guadalajara empenadas were prominent. I miss both of these, but I do look forward to a pina colada raspado in Culiacan. But most of all, I look forward to spending Easter with my family. After all, family is what life is all about.