Saturday, December 5, 2009


These pictures are mainly the pictures of their property...A couple are on the road to Boquete......Today,I'm leaving their place and preparing to eventually bus down to Panama City.My plans have changed and instead of taking the condo for a month, I'm going to stay loose and travel around this beautiful country...down to Panama then up to Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean side...I'm meeting my friend Lorraine in San Jose Costa Rica on Dec.26th and then we'll journey north to Nicaragua and explore Granada and Leon....By the time she leaves I will only have 3 weeks left to go so.....will I come back down to Panama or fly back to the frozen north?


Joe and Betsy's casita is nearly finished

Thursday, December 3, 2009


December 3rd,2009
Somewhere between David (Dahveed)and Boquete Panama

Well, I noticed my last posting was 11 days ago and my environment certainly has changed since then.
Last Thursday the 26th of November, I decided I needed to get out of San Juan Del Sur and booked a ticket to Panama. Two days in advance for Ejecutivo class and a 24 hour bus ride straight through Costa Rica. I had made some good friends in Nicaragua and just as I was getting a bit too comfortable, I said my goodbyes promising to see them before I left for the north country and so I left some belongings at Tony's to ensure that I would. On Friday, Tony drove me to Granada about 1 1/2 hours from San Juan Del Sur and I sure was surprised at the difference between the sleepy little surfing community and the small c cosmopolitan vibe of Granada.The centre of the city consists of a square, as do most Central American cities and towns.The square was abuzz with artisans selling their wares and people from all over the world plying the immediate streets of this 500 year old colonial city. Surrounding the square was a series of hotels,the Alhambra,the Colonial,the Colone and coming off these streets were a series of lesser streets chock a block full of hostels,smaller hotels and bars and restaurants.I had bought my ticket 2 days earlier to ensure a seat on the bus so after finding the bus stop I proceeded to look for a cheap hotel to spend the night...2 blocks away on Calle le Libertad was the Hostel Samarcanda so for $15 dollars I secured a room for the night. It being a Friday, the city centre was alive with people and things going on. As I was locking my door to go out for a stroll, out walked a young lady from California doing exactly the same thing.I asked her if she wanted to accompany me and we ended up walking all over the city centre then going for dinner at the Coyote Grill.Out in front was a live band playing classic rock covers in Spanish and a group of young boys break dancing on the sidewalk...and I mean break dancing!...these kid were good....Spinning on their heads right on the cement,and feet straight up in the air..... Good enough in fact to be on America's Got Talent!
My dinner companion Maria turned out to be a biologist working with capucine monkeys up in Costa Rica....a fascinating profession and, like so many people living in Costa Rica was in Nicaragua on her 3 day leave to renew her visa. We said our goodbyes after walking back the 5 blocks to the hostel promising to stay in touch. I had my eye on the clock as I had to rise before dawn to take the long bus ride to Panama. Up til now, I hadn't any idea where I was going but before I got on the bus I sent one last email to my friends in Panama not realizing that they lived exactly where I had decided to make my first stop...David.

The trip down to David was uneventful except for the ridiculously long waits at both borders.Off the bus ,take our passports, on the bus ,drive to the next border, off the bus then on again where we were stopped twice by the Costa Rican police within 10 miles of the border and this was just to get into Costa Rica! We had to do the same thing leaving Costa Rica and getting into Panama.I also had a 6 hour layover in San Jose which I neglected to factor into my travel plans...too much information on my ticket ...all in Spanish of course. 1030pm out of San Jose and wait a minute!....arrival 430pm! So I had 6 hours to myself in the Tica Bus Station. Now I had seen a Denny's coming into town and I decided I'd cab it out to this paragon of North American comfort foods. $30 later I was arriving back to the bus station with 3 hours left to go and I'd just about finished my book "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari".So I enquired about an internet cafe and luckily there was one just around the corner and I was able to use up another hour.This turned out to be the longest 6 hours of my life or so it seemed and I finally resolved to just go with the flow, finish my book then just wait patiently for the 1030 out of the absurdly expensive San Jose. My language skills being negligible at this point in my Central American journey made it all the more difficult for me to understand simple directions and coming off the bus in San Jose and not knowing the procedure,not having it explained to me in a language I could understand clearly was frustrating enough and I was tired and...oh well...this is what I signed up for wasn't it? The AC on the night ride was turned up so high that I needed jeans, tshirt, shirt AND jacket. Fortunately I had been forewarned about this and I had changed before I left the bus station. No trying to squeeze in and out of my clothes in a tiny little bus banos. We arrived at the border at 5am - one hour before opening so...3 hours later we pulled out of the Panamanian border for the 1 hour ride to David.
I had prearranged by email to stay the night at the Purple House Hostal and upon arriving I took a taxi for $2 to the this ridiculously Purple abode. The price was right and I was immediately beginning to see how relatively inexpensive Panama was. I had been told ahead of time but you never know until you get there. Turns out Panama is cheap, definitely appealing to my scottish background!
The Purple House had an interesting mix of people and I was the grand old man of the house by 9 years.Richard from Montreal was 50 and he proudly told me he'd visited 34 countries including Iran. Several couples traveling separately were from the UK and we had some inspired conversations around the make shift patio tables.
One of the girls arriving that afternoon was from Victoria and had been volunteering in Granada. At this point I had been in touch with my friends Joe and Betsy only by email and had no idea just how close they lived to where I was at this point in my travels. Monday morning, just 3 days ago I found myself making arrangements by bus to Boquete and meet Joe.Betsy was on a cruise with her mother and Joe was batching it for 2 weeks.

Joe and Betsy were old friends from Victoria who'd spent the last several years in Costa Rica. 6 months ago they moved to Panama after purchasing 5 acres of land midway between David and Boquete.Now David is practically on the Pacific coast.Boquete is 25 miles north and 3600 ft above sea level.Where my friends had built was 1100 ft., 35 miles from the Pacific and 45 miles from the Caribbean and just a little bit cooler than David,especially at night. Boquete however could sometimes be quite cool and sweaters and long pants were often required as they were on Monday when I arrived. The bus ride from David was an old school bus but had a state of the art sound system blasting Salsa music at top volume and only cost $1.45 for the hour long trip! Joe had agreed to meet me at a restaurant called Amigos (!)After lunch Joe invited me back to the Yurt they'd set up on the property...and what a beautiful piece of property it is! As I sit here listening to some music and writing my blog I can here the river outside my window and I 'm looking at a park like setting with palm trees the likes of which I'd never seen live before arriving in Panama. Joe and Betsy have done a great job of hewing a beautiful paradise out of the jungle that was here only 6 months earlier and now they had raised the Yurt and were building a casita or little house underneath making it 2 stories and 2 separate abodes.I have been able to stay here all this week , giving me a chance to rest and catch up with myself as the heat here is relentless. It has also given me a chance to decide that this is where I'm going to stay for the next month or 6 weeks.I checked Craigslist and immediately located a one bedroom condo in a gated 11 condo complex with a pool.
So, for the next month through Christmas and New Years I will remain in David and explore this beautiful stable and relatively safe country.
During my last week I will, have to make my way back to Managua for the long flight home but first I want to see Leon and have one last visit with my friends in SJDS.

I promise there will be lots of pictures on my blog eventually.Once I figure it all out......

Thursday, November 19, 2009



Day 6 of my stay in Nicaragua and not a great deal to report so far.The folks who own this beautiful little hotel are most gracious and are treating me very well.
So far, I´ve learned a great deal about the area and met a few interesting people .Tony lives next door and has been here for about 4 months. Like me he has 4 kids in their 20´s and has been divorced or separated for quite some time.The other day we went to the beach with another friend of his Steve, who owns a beautiful house overlooking the bay at San Juan Del Sur,is married to Jasmine a Nicaraguan who has lived in the states for many years.Since my back is still quite an issue for me to deal with I was quite content to troll the immediate shoreline. I could still feel the tug of the tide pulling on my delicate spine. They, however spent at least 2 hours surfing back and forth on that perfect little beach and I was enjoying this first foray into warm water beach life. As I sat there alone watching the serrated V line of the sun dappling the bay under the canopy of a little thatched hut I thought to myself, how many times I´d seen this picture in other people´s vacation photo albums and now here I am! I´ve spent 42 of my 59 years on an island so I´m familiar with beach living but this was quite different from the UK or Vancouver Island.I´ve spent relatively little of that time in the water on any of the northern beaches I´ve lived by. Another thing I have to take care of is my skin like everyone else. So far,I´ve not burned myself and that is a difficult thing to avoid here as the sun shines all day every day.You cannot avoid it.I imagine by the time I leave here I´ll be suitably tanned but it won´t be from sunbathing ala sitting on the beach burning.
It will be from just walking around in and out of the sun with copious scoops of 30plus suntan lotion slathered all over my poor defenseless northern white torso.

Today is the first day I´ve not gone into town for coffee at El Gato Negro Book Store.Rob and Kelly are friends of April,Valerie and Brandon, owners of the hotel where I´m staying.....
......and they have been here for about 4 years now.The Gato Negro is a meeting place for locals and expats alike and likely as not I will meet someone in there from somewhere else just like me.It´s about 4 kms into town and Sergio has been my trusty driver to and fro.We have mini spanish english lessons as we go and neither one of us can understand the other but usually something positive comes out of the attempt at mutual comprehension.
It has been extremely windy for the last 2 days.Unlike Victoria,it blows from east leaving the air dry and the smell of the ocean unnoticeable unlike Victoria. Last night it rained leaving the cobbled streets of downtown San Juan del Sur looking quite irridescent in the pale streetlights.

Being as this blog is primarily about the relationship between living as a transplant recipient and travelling in poorly developed countries, I´d like to point out that so far I haven´t felt ill in any way ie. no temperature or serious stomach disruptions but....the water here is fairly safe to drink as we´re on a well .However,the water has a great deal of calcium so.... I´m sticking to bottled water for the most part.
Besides April,Valerie and Brandon,I´m the only one here so I´ve discovered that I´m learning a thing or 3 about myself with regards to looking for something to do and having nothing to do in the process.I´m used to The North American External Stimuli Syndrome so I´m attempting to let things go and allow the time to pass as it does here ....naturally...The rhythms of the day are totally synced to the rising and the setting of the sun.So that´s how folks here live...Up with the dawn and retiring with the early evening sunset.It is pitch black by 615pm and the sun doesn´t take long to disappear once it hovers above the horizon.
So, my plan is to stay here til next week´s end then perhaps jump on a bus and go to Granada which is about an hour or so away. After that,jump on the Tica Bus and go to Panama through Costa Rica.I have about 65 days down here and by the time I get home to Victoria where I have a couple of months work waiting for me I should be acclimatised to this strange and wonderful part of the world.
So far I haven´t seen any scorpions but when the wind blowes you have to watch out for them dropping from the trees so, every night I must shake out my bedding to make sure one hasn´t snuggled in to keep me company...They apparently pack quite the sting as I´ve been told but not necessarily deadly. Although, for me and my immune system I could have a fairly negative experience if I should come into contact with one. The Geckos are our friends however and they make a peculiar smooching sound like someone blowing a kiss! The other night I was typing away after dark in the office here and one just appeared on the wall out of nowhere right in front of me. They´re so fast!They scoop up all the bugs crawling about the place although, I haven´t seen any more bugs here than I would on any hot night in Canada...guess that´s the reason why...and no mosquitos at all so far!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


October.20th ....29th

Chicago,Kentucky Tennessee and back to Chicago

My 10 days in the states were 10 of the most painful days I have ever experienced.Barring my transplant or being caught in a burning wreck I can´t imagine ever having worse pain.
The first week in Chicago or...more precisely Rockford Illinois afforded me very little opportunity to get out by myself and explore the local town...I had recently been diagnosed with severe arthritis in my right hip and was told in no uncertain terms that I would need hip replacement therapy and sooner, rather than later, a mere 6 days before leaving on a trip which was to take me from Chicago to Tennessee and then down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans where I had booked 8 days banging nails for Habitat For Humanity.I had planned a total of 3 weeks and sadly, none of these plans were to materialize in the way I had intended. My trip was to be cut short by 10 days just so that I could come home and get some physio and much needed hot tub time.
No trip to New Orleans and a very painful week reminiscing with my cousins and their family in Rockford with no outlet for explorations of any sort...As a matter of fact, even a trip to the local grocery store caused me so much pain that when I took more than 20 steps ,I would have to stop and lean against a wall for at least 5 or 10 minutes before the pain would subside.This ordeal went on for about a week and I was not enjoying this at all.
On Friday, Oct.23rd my cousin Doreen ,her husband Chuck and I left for Florence Kentucky where we were to pickup 2 of their
daughters..Bethanie,who lived there and Carrie ,who was an airline pilot for CONTINENTAL. Here we were to stay the night at a hotel suite and then journey on the next am to Oak Ridge Tennesse where we were to have a reunion with my aunt and uncle and another cousin Sydney and her husband Paul. Now, I hadn´t seen any of these cousins for 40 years and we had been out of touch for much of the ensuing time. Our families had drifted apart and it fell upon me to find us all and help in getting us back together.It was a relief to discover that my cousins all felt the same way. As children we had been very close and the last time we had been together was in 1970 when everybody looked a whole lot younger and we had our whole lives yet to live. Tragedy had befallen both our families as a cousin Greg, a mere 3 months younger than me had been struck down in a car accident 21 years earlier. My father had died 17 years earlier and before he died he had told me he wanted me to get in touch with this side of our extended family. As it was, my father had no siblings and the matriarch of the family my aunt Doreen was the closest he had to a brother or sister growing up...I had no sisters but had 4 great cousins,3 of who were girls who had been just like sisters to me.
There was however a bittersweet component to all of this reunion stuff. My cousin Sydney had inoperable cancer and the prognosis was bleak. The entire day of Saturday was a holy day though as we reinserted ourselves back into each other´s lives,forgot about past differences and forged a new an meaningful blueprint for the future.
So this day of all days Oct.24th 2009 turned out to be a special one indeed where every word uttered had a spiritual patina shading the conversation. After 40 years I was to get only a few sacred hours with my beautiful cousin Sydney and her mother and least for now.
The rest of the weekend was a mirror image of the first half and after 1443 miles we pulled into Chuck and Doreen´s driveway. I had been away exactly one week and it was then that I decided to go home early and attend to my ailing back.
Fortunately for me and.... well... everyone else in the family too...Carrie being a pilot, was able to buddy pass me back to Seattle through Houston the following Wednesday.

The night previous to my departure though Chuck and I treated ourselves to a Bob Dylan concert at the local arena...The Rabbi of Rock,the Shakespeare of Pop was in fine form...doing his rock stance with his tiny little stache and his torreadorean chapeau just like the true rock n roller he´s always been and treating us to about 25 of his greatest of oldest and newest songs.His band was fantastic with Charlie Sexton on guitar and another fine gentleman the name of Larry Campbell also on guitar. Most of the time he spent behind his keyboards but he came out for a few tunes with his guitar and harp.His version of Highway 61 Revisited this time out was unbelievable ...I had never heard this song done this well before and believe me,I´ve heard many versions done well by him and many others before. A fine finale to 10 days that were many things to me. Painful in more ways than one....I must hand it to my fine cousins Chuck and Doreen whom we affectionately have always called Tinker. They showed me how a family should relate to each other in the face of adversity and tragedy. All members of the family extended and otherwise daily communicating with each other with the utmost of respect and care and love...and the goodbye to Paul and Sydney from the driveway was one of the most genuinely hearfelt goodbyes I have ever experienced...i truly love you guys and I´m so grateful for having reconnected with you all.
Coming home was uneventful and the pain had subsided probably by 50 percent or so and I was now getting ready for this part of my journey which i´m now experiencing without any pain to speak of, no painkileers and no cane!
Upon my arrival at the Clipper dock on a cool rainy Thursday morning in Victoria I was met by my beautiful friend Lorraine who is planning to meet me here after Christmas for a few days...

My heartfelt thanks to Chuck,Tinker,Bud ,Doreen,Sydney,Paul, Christie, Britton, Bethanie, Peter,Carrie, Jamie........

Saturday, November 14, 2009


November 14th 2009 400pm

Here I am finally in CentroAmerica a long long way from Victoria where it´s cold and rainy. It took me 52 hours to get here having journeyed through Seattle,Houston, Managua and finally my current destination of San Juan Del Sur...
I would like to go back to where I left off upon my arrival in Chicago as there is a few things I´d like to talk about my visit there but I will come back at a later time ....
Right now though the last 36 hours have been an extremely visceral experience...Even though I don´t yet know the language I´m already thinking in Spanish!!I am picking things up daily and with my knowledge of French and latin I find it quite easy to understand the written word...Speaking and listening to people talk is another matter though...I am truly a stranger in a strange land.
The trip from Houston to Managua was fraught with a mix of anxiety,fear hope and a serious case of¨"What the hell am I doing now at this point in my life".
Just before arriving I couldn´t help but notice how few lights there were on the ground as we were descending the night sky...I had just spent the better part of 3 hours talking to a Born Again Christian who tried to put the fear of God into me and I must admit it gave me a slight sense of foreboding...
Going through customs was a checking of luggage...( and I realized I wasn´t a young hippy anymore trying something dodgy at a border crossing) I was just an older man traveling to a third world country with all his papers in order so I really had nothing to worry about....
The big shock was stepping outside from an air-conditioned airport.The heat was quite opressive even at 900pm and the cacophony of taxi drivers and other transportation types along with the spanish chatter of most of the disembarking travelers was quite overwhelming...
I was being picked up by the Holiday Inn Shuttle and after about 15 minutes of wondering what the hell I was doing he found me and we were on our way.
Half an hour of driving through the Managuan slums brought us to an oasis of North American style tranquility. Now, I was ready for a native experience but not yet please...I had been travelling for 26 hours and although I´d had a good night´s sleep in Seattle I was still fatigued, not least from the stress of not knowing what was going to happen next.
Now ,even though I was in a third world country I certainly couldn´t tell by the prices that were presented to me from check in to breakfast the next morning; $80us for the hotel and $12 dollars tax!Then the next morning my buffet breakfast was a whopping $16! I was glad to be getting out of there by 10am, but my excitement was shortlived as my ride to San Juan Del Sur didn´t show and still hadn´t shown by 200pm...I kept trying to get a hold of my hosts and finally by 245pm I did...They thought I was coming on Saturday!..Quite clearly my emails had said Friday the thirteenth and as it turned out the hotel calender also said the same thing.So, after 7 hours of daring not to leave the hotel for fear of missing my ride Ramon showed up and we were on our way...and let me say that in no way was I upset about the experience...I just kept saying I was on Nicaraguan time now and this was the type of inconvenience one put up with here on occasion.
The ride from Managua at rush our was as I said before quite a visceral experience...The sight of 8 year old Nican kids juggling at intersections as well as all types begging in so many different ways was quite unsettling.I don´t think there is unleaded gas there yet and the smell on the road was headache inducing.The buses were all packed right out the doors and the bus stops were packed from one end of the street to the other.There were 3 wheeled taxis and bicycles everywhere.By this time I had heard so much spanish as I already said was starting to think in spanish and had no idea what I was thinking!
The ride to the hotel took 2 and a half hours and the sounds of the cicadas in the trees as we whizzed by at 100kms. an hour were quite noticeable. Also the traffic rules were generally diregarded by most and I noticed that when we approached oncoming traffic the cars and trucks would turn ON there high beams!
We arrived at the hotel at 730pm last night (Friday) bloody but unbowed and I have to say that Ramon my driver was excellent all the way...aggressive when need be and just the opposite when danger was present.I had a wonderful dinner of chicken cashew stirfry and 2 beers whent to bed with absolutely no idea of where I was or what I was about to see the next morning with my own 2 eyes.Now I´ve taken a bunch of pictures but so far my haven´t figured out how to upload them to my blog so we´ll have to wait until I figure it out or find someone to lend me a hand.
My hosts are a family originally from San Diego who´ve lived in Mexico and Nicaragua for most of the last 20 years...April and her son Brandon and April´s mother whose name escapes me at the moment...They have the most beuatiful boutique hotel on the outskirts of San Juan Del Sur comprising of 11 rooms and a restaurant.When I arrived it was dark and had no idea where we were situated but this morning I stepped outside and was greeted by the site of the most beautiful bay down below and off in the distance.The buildings are a Southwestern style of bright blues yellows and orange and my digs are small and austere (blues ,yellows and tiles everywhere) but everything I need while I´m here: kitchen ,sitting room ,bathroom and bedroom (furnished)...
So this brings us right to this moment in time-345pm on Saturday afternoon.The temp is about 90 plus and humid...I´m overdressed but would rather avoid a sunburn thank you very much...I think I´m going to go look for some expats and have a beer......
More about my trip to the states next.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Wednesday,October21st 2009
Rockford Illinois (just outside of Chicago)

Since my last post a great deal has happened and not all of it good but some of it incredible!!Sometimes I think this is the way life should be lived-always on the edge of disaster and triumph,agony and ecstasy,sacredness and profanity...Life sure has a way of testing one's resolve and being as this blog is as much about that as it is a just a traveling blog,it gives me more to write about as a result...

I've had a real setback with my traveling plans because on October 12th the day after my 59th birthday I found out I needed hip replacement therapy....
For the last 3 weeks or so I had been having back pain which I had experienced from time to time but never had a problem dealing with over the short haul....I went to the chiropractor and he would treat me and a few days later I'd be right as rain...this time no dice...I went to the chiropractor and it got worse. So, here I was a mere few days away from leaving on the trip of a lifetime and I had been crippled by intense back pain...I went to my doctor and he said to takle tylonal and rest for a few days...well, that wasn't good enough and the pain just kept getting worse so ...on my birthday I went to a walk in clinic and I was in so much pain I couldn't even detail my medical history and he gave me some heavy duty anti-inflammatories which as it turned out I should never have been prescribed...I was hoping for a positive outcome as I was leaving for Chicago in a week to spend some time with family I hadn't seen in over 40 years before I had to come back to Victoria for my son Evan's grad ceremony on November 9th...You see ,this was why I couldn't just go south right away and I suppose now with good reason beyond the obvious...
By the day after my birthday I was in so much pain that I decided to just go to emergency and hopefully get an it turned out the xray showed years of arthritic damage and the doctor said I would need my right hip replaced....I saw years of planning just go down the drain in one huge counter-clockwise deluge as I mistily stared at the xray for 10 long minutes...What about the miles and miles of backpacking I was planning in Central America?...What about the mountain climbing in Ecuador and Peru?...What about the nailbanging in New Orleans for Habitat For Humanity? What about writing this great blog full of exciting details of late in life mischief and adventure?....? a transplant recipient no less?.....
Well, here I am now in Rockford Illinois with my cane and my oxycodone and a head full of ambition unable to be actualized at least at this point and I'm just trying to process all of this now...Everyday though, the pain is settling down and I'm able to move around more and more.

The trip down was quite an experience. Leaving Victoria for the Vancouver airport at 545am then waiting til 1150 for a 3 hour flight to Minneapolis.Then a 1 hour wait for the final flight to Chicago,arriving at 630pm Pacific Time.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis I was so stoned I felt somewhat disoriented but i felt little pain and hadn't since leaving Victoria...I had the better part of a mile to walk from the arrival gate to the departure gate and that was mitigated by moving sidewalks just like The Jetson's !!..The airport colours were muted gray and blue which created an ambience I wasn't expecting...spacious,uncrowded and some great classical music playing through the speaker system...The sun was setting and the outside temp was in the high 60's...It certainly created a surreal effect...
Then Chicago...upon arrival I was greeted by the cacaphonous sounds of some very loud jazz playing through their speaker system... and not the cool Diana Krall or Norah Jones type either...mnore like the old Thelonious Monk, Bix Beiderbecke school...very interesting...and the same cool muted colours of Minneapolis airport...
Then this strange woman walked up to me and said "David"?..... Turned out it was my cousin whom I hadn't seen since 1970...which brings me to where I am this day..Sitting poolside on a warm sunny day somewhere on the outskirts of Chicago nursing a crippled hip and leg wondering what's going to happen next...I'm hoping to go and see Bob Dylan tomorrow but now it depends on how much pain I'm experiencing...
I don't want you all to be feeling sorry for me though,hehe...I'm still going to make this whole experience the "trip of a lifetime" and i will be adding to the blog daily even if nothing's going on.....I have yet to learn "the art of doing nothing" or "the art of none-doing"...
A dios

Friday, October 2, 2009


October 3rd, 2009
Hello......It's October 3 and I'm still here! I'll tell you why.
This month I'm to visit my cousins in Tennessee while I'm waiting for my oldest lad's grad ceremony November 9th. I'm wandering around Victoria with my wheelie as the days just fly by...
This week I heard from 2 of my cousins, one in Chicago and one in Knoxville but there seems to be some hitch to our plans for a long-awaited reunion.Without going into too many details ,suffice it to say that I will probably be cancelling my trip to Tennesse (but not New Orleans) if I don't get the definitive go ahead within the next few days...As I stated earlier, I'm to spend a few days in New Orleans the last 2 weeks in October and bang some nails for Habitat For Humanity...I've touched base with their volunteeer coordinators this week and secured decent digs at the India House Hostel which looks to me like where the winter party just might begin so over this weekend I will figure out finally how to proceed.
When I first started organizing my travel plans for this winter my son was still going to University and the grad ceremony wasn't much more than a future eventuality... I'm very proud of him for finishing up this summer and wouldn't think of missing his convocation!
My family in Tennessee and I had loosely arranged a reunion in October so my plan was to piggy back the trip to Tennessee and then journey directly to Mexico in order to begin my southern sojourn through the central american countries and on into northern South America...

I dare not venture too far south before November because I run the risk of not making it back for the grad and that would definitely be a family faux pas and all of you with kids know exactly what I'm talking about don't you?
So, when I finally get on the road my blog missives will start to come fast and furious as each day will reveal a new horizon and there will be plenty to write about. As it stands right now there's really not too much to write about ,or at least nothing I want to write about. The weather's starting to change and as I'm going south I'm making every effort to leave my winter clothes in storage. I'm fighting a losing battle though......

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Well, after my scare on Saturday at the travel clinic,I'm a little more relaxed about going...Looks like I won't be leaving for Central America til around November 10th after my oldest son's grad ceremony. I can't miss that for the world..I'd never live down the ignominy of being the black sheep of the family...Oh...where's Dad?...Uhhh don't know..he's off finding himself somewhere in Central America...(Actually you will be able to find me right here every day...writing to you about my travels...)
It seems that Central America is a toxic stew of chemicals, killer bugs ,deadly diseases (which can surface A YEAR after you return!?!)and corrupt officials with a handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged. Every time you take a step forward your life is placed in unseen hands of fate .Even when you sleep you can wake up dead!!!...Ok,I exaggerate but that's exactly how I felt when I left the clinic...Being a transplant recipient has its challenges but I certainly don't wish to be foolhardy for the sake of spending a few weeks in a warm climate...At the same time though I don't want to just sit on a beach or at a resort wondering what the real country looks like...
I guess I'll have to just temper my travel plans with common sense and knowledge -a -forethought,keep my eyes and ears open and use my intuition all at the same time..
Tomorrow I'm going to visit with some friends that have spent a lot of time down there in Mexico and beyond and I'm sure I'll come away with a much better understanding of what I'm getting into...It's all about communication really isn't it...The more people you talk to the clearer the understanding of where you are going and...what you're doing too...
I got an email from friends in Panama just today with places to go ...even the bus from Mexico to Panama looks friendly and inviting...
This is perhaps the most important tidbit of information I've received so far (aside from the scare tactics of the travel nurse)but first class bus (with toilets and AC from Tapachula in southern Mexico to Panama City is $246.00... .....a long way..That's over 1000miles...not bad and if I break it up over time it's extremely affordable...Now if i can just be guaranteed sober drivers and no hijackers I'll be just fine....Antigua Guatemala has many great restaurants and cheap hotels and hostels...Funny how none of my friends who've been there ever mention the hostile environment the travel nurse mentioned...same with Granada Nicaragua. Apparently Hotel Oasis in Granada 's really nice...Gonna check that one is very beautiful according to my Panama friends..i've done a little research on it and it's home to several universities ..lots of poets and artists live there.In Costa Rica, Samara beach is supposed to be nice with Carillo Beach just next door (
That, my friends is all before I get to Panama, Colombia and ultimate destination....on this trip...

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Sept.13th 2009
it's Sunday morning and I'm finally getting down to the nitty gritty with this blog thing...Yesterday, I visited the travel clinic here in Victoria and got the crap scared outta me regarding my travels and the issues that come up for transplant recipients travelling in third world countries...In all the countries I want to visit on this inaugural trip, there are huge swaths of areas where I could literally be putting my life in danger...not that i wasn't already aware of most of these issues but the way it was presented to me in black and white really brought it all back home.....Fortunately for me I won't be visiting a lot of these places ...for example,the entire west side of the Ecuadorean Andes are clear for me to travel and the 2 cities in columbia are fine as long as I constantly pay meticulous attention to how and what I eat...where and how I sleep (ie to make sure I have a hypo-allergenic mosquito net tucked into the bed BEFORE evening...this is going to be a challenge for me...always running the risk of malaria and if one contracts malaria it could be a YEAR before the symptoms manifest themselves...I certainly have my work cut out for me....Maybe I should just stay in the "safe zones" after all...

Next month (October) I plan to go to Tennessee to visit some family I haven't seen for 40 years and then to New Orleans for 2 weeks ...While I'm there I've booked 8 days to volunteer with Habitat For Humanity...They've already accepted my submission so it's simply a matter of getting there...There's a great hostel I can stay in for 20 bucks a night.. so the cost will be relatively minimal I'll be working every other day so I will be able to enjoy what this uniqely decadent city has to offer....
Forty years ago I first set foot in N.O. so I should expect a lot of changes (not to mention the changes I've experienced personally) but The French Quarter is still as it always was and always will be unless another act of God destroys this part of the city...Congo Square, Jackson Square and of course the venerable Cafe Du Monde will still be as they always were....More to come....

Take Care All