Tag Archives: travel

Two Down And Done

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Two Down And Done

Yesterday I had my second dose of the vaccine. Now to wait another couple of weeks until it’s fully effective.

A year ago today I was in Aguascalientes. Masks were not yet mandatory. Restaurants and parks were open. There were no temperature checks or health survey forms. Schools were open.

I wonder what life will be like one year from now. Will masks still be part of our wardrobe?

We went to Sage Hills Church in Wenatchee on Sunday. It reminds me of Church of the Rock in Winnipeg. But Washingtonians are rebels so no masks or physical distancing in this huge sanctuary.

Costco was a zoo on Sunday. However masks are required. Limited menu in the food area and no sauerkraut or onions for the hot dogs.

Now that I’ve been vaccinated I feel more comfortable about traveling again. I’m not used to staying in one place for such a long period of time. Last year I was in Aguascalientes for 11 months with only one side trip to Culiacan. In another week I’ll have been in Washington state for 6 months.

It’s a wait and see game as to when I’ll leave here and where I’ll go. I’d like to go to Canada before returning to Mexico in the fall. But with all the quarantine and other restrictions it doesn’t really appeal.

My Canadian friends envy me because I have been vaccinated already. They still have a long wait ahead of them.

I remember when the vaccines first came out. I was reluctant to be vaccinated. But I travel a lot, and it’s only a matter of time before airlines will require proof of vaccination for international travel.

Two down and done.

One Down One To Go

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One Down One To Go

I was vaccinated yesterday. The first shot went well and I will have the second shot in three weeks. I thank God that I am in a country where the vaccine is available now and that I don’t have to wait several months. God Bless The USA!

Wind back the clock to September 2020. It was now possible to leave Mexico and head up north. The pandemic was raging throughout the world and travel was greatly discouraged.

I’m Canadian. Returning to Winnipeg from where I was in Mexico involved three flights on three different airlines and a minimum of two days of travel through four airports.

My other option was to come to Leavenworth. Only three airports. A flight to Dallas with a connecting flight to Seattle. I left Mexico in the morning and arrived in Seattle in the afternoon. Only about a two and a half hour drive to Leavenworth. Definitely a better option.

Leavenworth is home to me. I may only be here a few months a year but this is where my friends and my support system are. This is where my life is. I usually spend the summer and fall doing volunteer work so my time this year has been spent very differently. It’s winter and Covid is still around.

In Washington state the vaccine distribution program is working well. Appointments are made on the internet. I made mine on Sunday. Yesterday, Tuesday, my friend Linda drove me to Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, a designated mass vaccination site. I didn’t even have to get out of the car. A symptom check and the actual vaccination took under five minutes. I did have to wait thirty minutes after instead of fifteen as I have a shellfish allergy.

I was given a card with my appointment for the second shot. I had received an email reminder yesterday about today’s appointment. By the time I got back to Leavenworth I had received another email congratulating me on being vaccinated and it also included my patient record.

I also registered for the follow-up program. I receive a text daily inquiring about my health and any symptoms I might be experiencing. Very reassuring.

Thank you Washington state for your efficient handling of the vaccination process.

Yesterday

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Yesterday

Yesterday was February 9th. My dad died on February 9th, 1977. That was forty- four years ago but sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday. I have learned to live without his physical presence and that is sometimes quite painful. After all, he never even met his grandchildren and has not been by my side throughout most of my life.

My dad had a heart condition. Back then there were no stints or even angioplasty. What gave us all more time together was that he was able to escape to a warmer climate in the winter. San Diego was far removed from the harsh winters on the Canadian prairies.

We are currently in the midst of a global pandemic. Travel is being strongly discouraged and in many cases is all but prohibitive. And I wonder what the quality of life would have been like in those final years if my dad were alive today.

From a mental health perspective, the suicide rate has skyrocketed during the past year. Quarantine and isolation are dangerous. Depression and anxiety have become more prevalent. Far too many people are living in fear while being sequestered in their homes. Isolation is detrimental to our health and well-being.

Domestic violence has escalated. While some families feel ties have been strengthened in their households, others have felt nothing but increased stress and faltering relationships. Zoom and other types of video calls lost their charm months ago when it comes to extended family relationships and keeping in contact with friends.

Some areas have more restrictions than others causing people to reevaluate whether the trip to the grocery store is really necessary. Standing outside in long lines in frigid temperatures just does not appeal. Nor does juggling fast food on our laps after going through a drive-thru when we’d much rather be sitting inside a restaurant with healthier food choices.

More than ever I cherish the memories of the freedom I once took for granted. As much as I miss my dad, I am thankful that he is not here now to experience the travesty of living during this pandemic.

Time To Vent

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Time To Vent

Is it just me or is anyone else having trouble remembering things BC? Before Covid is starting to feel like a far away dream.

Why can’t the children play nicely in the sandbox? Democrats and Republicans need to put the people of the USA first instead of merely themselves.

Back in 1968 the downfall of Canada began with the election of Trudeau as prime minister. And now in 2021 Trudeaumania continues with the next generation in the form of the mishandling of the Covid situation and the latest ridiculous cash grab re quarantine.

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I expect that it will be around long after my lifetime comes to a close. It’s time to acknowledge this and learn to live with it.

Vaccines will not make Covid disappear. Travel is far from the leading cause of transmission of this virus. Rewarding people with more money to stay at home rather than work is disgusting.

Avoiding bankruptcies and lowering the suicide rate is where the focus should be.

That’s my rant for today.

Wear your mask, wash your hands often and do your best to maintain physical distance. Maybe then we stand a chance of opening up the world again. Maybe then we’ll be able to hug our kids and grandkids again instead of just blowing kisses on video calls.

What’s Next

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What’s Next

The clock is ticking. I’ve been in the USA for over two months now and still don’t have a clue as to where I’ll go when my 180 days are up.

I know that I am not anxious to travel. If anything I’m anxious about travel, whether it be to Canada or to Mexico.

One thing I do know is that while Covid-19 is crazy everywhere, I am also determined not to live in fear. I’m not going to seek out crowds, but I do intend to continue to do my own shopping and to go out with friends. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that the library has reopened although the book club and craft activities are still cancelled.

By nature I am an extrovert. However after all the quarantining and closures, I believe I am now leaning towards being more of an introvert. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.

While it is nice to have a less hectic schedule, I miss my volunteer work in Leavenworth and in Cashmere. I miss my friends and the programs at the senior center. I miss the children’s ministry at church. And virtual Thanksgiving celebrations just don’t cut it.

It’s been well over a year since I last saw my daughter and granddaughter in Kelowna. I haven’t seen my son in Winnipeg in well over three years. And I haven’t seen my family in Culiacán in a year. Duo video calls are enjoyable, but they don’t take the place of in person interaction.

In one of my recent conversations with my son, he asked me what my long term plans were. He was adamant that 180 days in the USA is not a long term plan. I disagree. For me it’s as long term as I can fathom right now.

Before Covid I kind of had a long term plan. From Mexico I was planning to go to Winnipeg to see my son. I was planning on going to Kelowna to see my daughter and my granddaughter. I was also going to take some time to find a quaint little town somewhere in Canada where I might want to settle down in a couple of years. But now all of that is on hold.

I was also planning on doing a few months in Leavenworth again before heading back to Mexico for the winter. But it now appears that I am about to experience a Washington winter instead.

There always needs to be a Plan B or C or D because the only constant in life is change.

Traveling During A Pandemic

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Traveling During A Pandemic

Two weeks ago yesterday I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t leaving Mexico anytime soon. Two weeks ago today I found out I could get travel health insurance from the company I usually use that covered COVID-19 if I traveled to the USA. Two weeks ago today my flight was booked. I purchased the health insurance and reserved the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle. Talk about things changing overnight……

My adventure began at 4 am on Monday when Raúl came by to drive me to the airport. After weeks of sanitizing mats, having my temperature checked everywhere and drowning in antibacterial gel, I was surprised that none of these measures were being taken at the airport. There was no physical distancing either. In the waiting area at the gate, there were seats blocked off for physical distancing. However people merely sat down in them anyways despite the clearly labelled tape on them.

My favorite airline is Alaska but that would mean traveling to Guadalajara or Puerto Vallarta first. That would also mean an extra airport. I opted for American Airlines that flies out of Aguascalientes and has a decent connection to get me to Seattle. This airline does not block off middle seats and the flight was completely full. Thankfully everyone wore masks without complaint.

When we landed in Dallas it was business as usual. No health questionnaire. Other than people wearing masks, there was no physical distancing or antibacterial gel anywhere. Once again a completely full flight to Seattle. No objections to the masks either.

When I arrived at SeaTac, the airport was much quieter than usual. When I took the Wenatchee Valley Shuttle to Peshastin, there were only two of us although it was the last shuttle of the day.

This was my experience traveling during a pandemic. I’m thankful that my flights weren’t cancelled or delayed. But I must admit that I’m not looking forward to traveling again in the near future.

Like most people, I want things to revert to the way they were before COVID-19. I want my beach days in Puerto Vallarta back before heading up north in the spring. I want to divide my time equally between Leavenworth and Mexico with side trips to Canada to see my children and my granddaughter. But right now that is only a dream.

Nomad On The Move Again

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Nomad On The Move Again

I’ve enjoyed my time in Aguascalientes. But 6 months became 11. I’m not used to staying in one place for such a long period of time without traveling. But now that travel health insurance has become available again and covers COVID-19 it’s time to move on.

My destination is Leavenworth and I leave tomorrow. I’ve missed my friends and my church family. I can’t wait to see the trees and the mountains again. Autumn is my favorite time of the year.

My major regret is that I haven’t been in Culiacán with my family since December and won’t see my grandsons before heading up north. I’ve never gone so long without seeing them in the last ten years since I’ve been coming to Mexico. And I always squeeze in one last visit before I head north. Leaving feels really strange this year.

The worst part of leaving is always saying goodbye to people. It’s especially hard this year because I don’t know when I’ll be coming back. My familiar pattern of six months here and six months up north has been disrupted by the virus.

In the meantime, let’s take care of each other. Wear your masks, use lots of soap and antibacterial gel and practice physical distancing whenever possible. Above all, avoid crowds.

Stay safe!

Random Reflections

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Random Reflections

Canadians are calling upon Trudeau to resign. Trump somehow marches on. Fauci throws a pitch on a baseball diamond but the real pitch falls on deaf ears. Race riots and anti-mask demonstrations are becoming all too common. And here in Mexico…well, I just won’t go there. Politics are not my thing, especially when I’m a visitor in a foreign country.I started a new course online on Mindfulness offered by Price University in Houston, Texas. I used to dabble in mindfulness along with meditation. But the longer this pandemic goes on the more important these practices become. Now is the time to do things. Stop procrastinating. Be aware and be mindful of every precious moment of your life.My Facebook memories today remind me of being in Kelowna, Winnipeg, Altona, Guadalajara, Mazatlan, Leavenworth, Wenatchee and McAllen on this date. Three different countries, two different provinces in Canada, two different states in the USA and two different states in Mexico.I don’t get around much anymore. I feel like a kid again that got grounded unfairly, but this time by a pandemic and not by a parent. But at least I’m in a beautiful place.Ever since my Mexican family in Culiacán adopted me almost ten years ago, I have never gone seven months without seeing them. Until now.I enjoy my video calls with my daughter and granddaughter in Kelowna. Madeline turned two in February and I’ve only seen her twice in her lifetime. This photo was taken a year ago in July when I was in Kelowna.I learned an interesting fact about water in Aguascalientes. It’s hot and dry here so there is water rationing. The city pumps it out in the morning. If individual households run out during the day……tough luck! No more until tomorrow.Why are the beaches and malecons crowded in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta? Are they competing with Florida to set a new record for COVID-19 cases and deaths.Here in Aguascalientes people wear masks and physical distancing is the norm. I’ve had my temperature taken more times in the last week than almost in my entire lifetime. Sanitizing mats have replaced welcome mats. Antibacterial gel is readily available everywhere when entering shops as well as restaurants.Time for my morning walk. I wonder what awaits me today.

Two Questions

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Two Questions

I usually travel a lot. Of course COVID-19 has temporarily grounded me here in Aguascalientes at the moment. But when I do travel to new places there are two questions that people ask me and quite honestly these questions annoy me. Why? Because the answers are complicated.

The first question is What’s your name?

I was twenty-one when I got married and that’s when I legally changed my maiden name to my married name. When the marriage ended, I had just published my first book. My publisher suggested I continue to write under my married name. And I still write under that name and I use that name on my Facebook author page.

However I decided to revert back to my maiden name when the marriage ended but thought I’d wait to legally change it until the divorce was final. By then I was living in Mexico where I had yet a different name on official documents. Here in Mexico your surname consists of father’s surname followed by mother’s maiden name.

I never did get around to legally changing my name back and the fun started when I arrived in Leavenworth four years ago. In order to volunteer in children’s ministry in the church, a criminal records check and child abuse registry check were mandatory. I can still see the puzzled looks on the two pastors’ faces when I pulled out my ID from my wallet and couldn’t find two photo IDs with the same name. Thankfully I remembered my passport that was at home in a drawer.

I prefer to just use the name Karen and totally eliminate all surnames.

The second question is Where’s home?

Actually that seems to be American Immigration’s favorite question. Once again the answer is complicated.

Undisputedly my hometown is Winnipeg. I was born there and lived there until ten years ago.

Culiacán with my Mexican family is home to me in Mexico. When I walk through the door of their home a wave of familiarity washes over me. This is definitely home to me, especially with my loving family surrounding me.

Four years ago I discovered Leavenworth, Washington and that also has become home to me. COVID-19 has screwed up my plans for my annual six month visit this year. But once things settle down I plan to return to Leavenworth. I miss my friends and I miss the volunteer work I usually do there.

But another place that has become home to me is where I stay here in Aguascalientes. I spent three months here last winter, intending to stay only three weeks initially. This winter I’m now in my ninth month and still counting thanks to COVID-19.

So……….Where’s home?

Nomad Not Now

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Nomad Not Now

I’ve been here in Aguascalientes for 8 months now, with the exception of a few days in Culiacán back in December. I haven’t stayed in one place that long in the past 10 years without traveling on holidays and weekends. The term ” nomad” when describing my lifestyle is apparently no longer appropriate at this time.

COVID-19 has quite effectively grounded me for the time being. I’ll just have to wait and see what transpires. In the meantime there is still new territory to explore right in my barrio.

Pets are different down here in Mexico. They’re not the usual dogs, cats, hamsters, turtles or fish. The other day my neighbor posed for me with his pet rooster.

I was out for a walk the other evening when the clouds began to roll in. I captured this shot of an apartment building. The church I attend occupies the main floor. No elevator and the apartments are on the second to sixth floors.

One of my neighbors sells candy, frozen chocolate bananas and chips. Here is a new colorful sign on their house.

This friendly little one sleeps on the sidewalk or in doorways in an attempt to find shade during the day. Temperatures have been hovering in the 90s for weeks now.

I always enjoy looking at the artwork on buildings around here.

The flowers are blooming everywhere.

This nomad will continue to roam only in Aguascalientes for another month.