Tag Archives: travel

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.

Monday Monday

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Monday Monday

My calendar hanging on the wall reminds me that today is Monday. For the past several weeks the days just seem to be a total blur. They have become all too similar. Yet they pass by so quickly.

I was talking to a friend in Canada last night. She travels regularly to her cottage from her home in the city. I haven’t traveled anywhere in over two months. Not even to one of the pueblos mágicos that are so close by. My plan for this winter had initially included exploring more of central Mexico. Maybe next winter.

I checked my email earlier today. I found yet another job offer from China. Aside from the fact that I’m retired, I have absolutely no desire to ever even visit China.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up in the USA. I wonder what I’ll be missing in Washington. From what I hear things are starting to open up again. One of my friends has plans to go to her daughter’s in Seattle for a family gathering.

Yet when I check the COVID-19 USA map daily, the numbers are still on the rise. Not that I truly value the accuracy of these statistics. This pandemic is so widespread that I don’t believe it is measurable anymore.

I will soon don one of my masks and head out for my morning walk. The sun is shining brightly and it’s another gorgeous day here in paradise.

Have a great Monday!

Legal Again Among Other Things

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Legal Again Among Other Things

It’s the middle of May already. Despite the fact that I’ve been primarily self-isolating for over two months now, time is going by quickly.

I’ve always loved learning. Now I have the opportunity to delve into areas of knowledge I had no time for in the past.

A course I’m taking from Berkeley on EdX deals with the science of happiness. Today’s topic was forgiveness, forgiving ourselves as well as others. The health benefits of practicing forgiveness are phenomenal. It is encouraging that it is never too late to learn to forgive. Holding grudges and exacting revenge are definitely detriments to experiencing happiness.

Another course I’m taking on Coursera is offered by University of Edinburgh and deals with how to become more active and less sedentary. Because I’m self-isolating I am not nearly as active as I was. So setting new fitness goals to improve my lifestyle is quite important to me now.

Yesterday marked my final visit to Immigration. The extension of my FMM had been processed and I returned home with my renewed visa. I am now once again living legally in Mexico and am grateful that this country has allowed me to remain here at this time.

WestJet announced that international flights to Canada will not resume until at least July. The American airlines are flying to the USA but the borders are still closed to foreigners. I have an additional 180 days thanks to my new visa. Maybe in July I’ll figure out what comes next.

Farewell To Another Decade

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Farewell To Another Decade

It’s pouring rain here in Aguascalientes and unseasonably low temperatures have graced us. It’s a good day to sip herbal tea and to watch movies. And to write a blog post.

New Year’s Eve 2009 was when I rang in the second decade of the millenium. At the time I was with friends from church and living in Winnipeg.

In 2010 I was on a tour up in the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. I rang in the new year in El Fuerte with friends. We had dinner at the hotel where Zorro was filmed. Zorro himself appeared at our table just before the fireworks began at midnight.

I have celebrated New Year’s Eve with numerous friends from all over the world every year since then. I’ve been in Culiacán, Guadalajara, México City, Mazatlan and San Ciro. This year I will be in Aguascalientes to welcome the year 2020.

The past decade has been one of the most exciting times in my life. “Growth” has been the key word in describing my experience. I embarked in a new career in a foreign country. I learned a new language and assimilated into a different culture. I’ve celebrated holidays with new friends from all over the world.

I’ve lived in and explored amazing areas in Mexico that I’d never even heard of before. I went on an amazing train trip in the Copper Canyon, I climbed pyramids in central Mexico and I walked barefoot in the sand on numerous beaches along the Pacific coast. I’ve visited several magic towns and have enjoyed the local cuisine in most places, menudo aside.

Mexicans marvel at the fact that I am a single female and travel solo at my age, especially when I settle down for a while in a new place. I thrive on exploring new places and meeting new people. I have friends of all ages and backgrounds. I have a family in Culiacán who have adopted me and I am the proud abuelita of four amazing grandsons.

And just when I thought that Mexico was absolutely “it”, I discovered Leavenworth. This quaint Bavarian village has captured my heart. I’ve made good friends and we’ve shared some great adventures together.

All of these experiences have contributed to my growth. At this point in time I am really living life to the fullest.

Farewell to the second decade of this millennium. Welcome to the third decade. Can’t wait to find out what comes next!!!!

Do You Feel Safe?

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Do You Feel Safe?

I am constantly being asked this question. My friends up north wonder why I spend 6 months of the year in a country ruled by a drug cartel. My friends in Mexico wonder why I spend 6 months in the gun-toting state of Washington.

I think about my hometown in Canada. Winnipeg for several years was synonymous with the highest homicide rate per capita in the nation. Just last week a three year old child was stabbed to death by his mother’s boyfriend.

So where exactly in this world is “safe?”

I long for the days when air travel was fun. Security has become an ordeal. Take off your shoes and jackets. Take out cell phones, tablets and laptops. No liquids over a miniscule amount. And I have knee replacements. Bring on the body scanners and pat-downs.

Do all these precautionary measures make me feel safe? Nope. Just makes me wonder what might come next.

Please stop asking me if I feel safe. In this crazy world we live in, no-one is safe. But what we can do is enjoy the time we have left in our lives instead of dwelling on whether or not we feel safe. After all, when you were a child, did you not just enjoy life without a thought to being safe? Maybe it’s time to start being a child again.