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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

So says ancient wisdom. We're about to test that with an extended trip away from Cuenca. Generally, we love the place. We love the freedom, the ease, the temperate weather and warm hearted people. Of course, there are things that drive us nuts. Making appointments with tradesmen and them not showing up until an hour after the agreed time - sometimes more. The hopeless search for certain items that are common place in North America. The struggle to conduct business in a second language. The lack of online services, web sites and the general lack of respect for email response times. 
Waiting at Guayaquil Airport
First world problems to be sure. Now we're going to find out if that old adage that is my title is true. In truth, we've been biding our time, waiting out the restricted period on our Visa's, so that we can head back out into the wide world with adventure and curiosity in our hearts.
12 Hour Delay in Auckland
NZ's Answer to the CN Tower
Chain Link Spider Web

Travel isn't what it used to be. We aren't looking forward to the flights, layovers and airport security. The scrimpy rules that run the airlines: "your bag's too big", "it weighs too much", "Dinner? $12 please", "Checked bag? $50". It all kind of sucks. I used to love getting on a plane, but it's just something to be survived now. That's part of the reason that we're staying out of country so long. I also am developing rules about flight time versus time away. The longer the flight the greater (exponentially) the time you stay.
Arrived at Sunrise, Left at Sunset
So, here's to adventure and discovering parts of the world unknown to us! Here's to finding out if absence really does make the heart grow fonder. 

(Side note: already missing Ecuador - we're in a bit of sticker shock, but that's first-world prices for you, I guess.)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Taking a Vacation from your Vacation

 I've realized that, at some point, I ceased feeling like I was on vacation and have slid into " normal" life. If I had to commit to it, I'd say it happened around the time we went to Machu Picchu - our first "vacation" since we got down here. Of course, I didn't think about it at the time, but that must have been the magic moment that Ecuador morphed from "holiday" into "my life".

In the 90's we took a three month trip to Europe. (Yes, a luxury, especially then, but in our minds, completely necessary.) It was a backpacking holiday, done as much on the cheap as possible, but we enjoyed almost every single second - barring a few meltdowns on my part and a bit of backpack prejudice from a few people on the Continent. We spent a lot of time paying off that holiday and really didn't travel all the much for the seven years afterward.So now, we're planning another monster trip, but this time it's a bit different.

The time between our big get-a-way to Europe and now has been filled with career advancement, cautious fiscal planning and an experience with higher-end travel. We enjoyed good hotels, nice restaurants and (at least occasionally) private airport pick-up and transfer to the above mentioned hotels. While we've never flown first class (which is probably for the best), we did enjoy the perks of having a good travel budget. Fast forward to now.

We find ourselves almost back to where we were when we went to Europe in the 90's, at least financially. We live fairly cautiously and with the Canadian dollar which is taking a beating and neither of us is working, money is a bit more precious to us. So how can we manage another three month vacation and not have to sacrifice the quality that we've come to enjoy? Home exchange. Thank heaven's for you! (And good financial management, but that's a whole other blog.)

When we got down to the calculations, we figure we're going to spend about as much (a little bit more) than we did over 20 years ago and all because of cutting out hotel expenses. That's how we're going to take a vacation from our retirement. We're a bit longer of tooth, a bit more set in our ways and we're so happy to find that we won't be slogging through hostels and paying per shower. This was one of the things that worried us when we decided to do the crazy thing (retire) and start traveling the world, but now those fears are laid to rest and we'll soon be off on our next grand adventure. You know you're blessed when you can actually take a vacation...from your vacation.

Can you go "Down Under", when you're already in the Southern hemisphere?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Vancouver is an Amazing Place

I confess that I never really appreciated how unique Vancouver, BC is. I grew up there and took it all for granted, but having traveled a bit now, I`m coming to understand that it`s special. What makes it different, you might ask? Tolerance, that's what. And I'm not just paying lip service to a popular buzzword.

I'm not saying that there isn't racism/intolerance there, because there is, but there are also people of all races, religions, colours and sexual persuasions living together peaceably. I never questioned why there were kids from South East Asia, Asia proper, Africa or Latin America in my classes. I had a special needs student in my class, as well, and that also seemed perfectly normal. The two men who lived down the street from me (that occasionally held hands and kissed) were also perfectly normal. They were as typical as single mothers, kids playing hockey on the street and families picnicking in the nearby parks.

I wasn't raised not to be racist...I was raised with the idea of equality and so were most of my friends. I never had a conversation about "them" or "us". And the truly beautiful thing about it, was that we got to experience a whole other way of life: new foods, new customs, new fashions. It was kind of magic,in retrospect. The biggest complaint I had was that my Jewish friends got way more holidays from school than I did, or that the newly immigrated kids from Asia had cooler clothes.Our biggest divide was rich versus not and while it was tough, it wasn't something that was rubbed in my face. It still hurt to be different, but it was an excellent life lesson.

So, peace amongst people of different stripes is possible. I'm so tired of hearing that it's complicated, because it isn't. Live and let live. How can we be so self-centered as to rant against people inflicting their "agendas" on us when we're doing the same; expecting people to be just like us, with the same values, beliefs and priorities. I didn't grow up in a melting pot - the people around me weren't homogenized, They were beautifully unique and made up the mosaic that nourished my childhood. 

I know there are other places in the world like Vancouver. Places where, for the most part, you can be who you are without reprisal, but these days, they seem few and far between. So that's what makes Vancouver special - the inherent acceptance of things different. I'm so glad I grew up there.

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Regenesis", Sequel to "Last Farmer" Now for Sale!

Regenesis is available for sale! Here's the description of the second book in the "Last Farmer Series"

 Having abandoned his sterile existence in the government controlled domes; Dax has crossed the desiccated wastelands of the Burn Zone and found an unlikely Eden that seems to offer the life he’s always dreamed of. But all is not well in his new home. The Resistance is losing ground while the government and the Triad, to whom they answer, are seeking to solidify their power. Still, there is hope.

An ancient legend will require him to leave behind the wonders of his island sanctuary to protect the very things he has come to cherish. Can he live up to the promise of the prophecy and become the hero that history demands or will he find only failure in the impossible task?

It's been a long 9 months since the release of "Last Farmer" and I'm so grateful for your patience! The sequel is out in e-book format and available at:

You can order early bird hard copies at:
Hard copies will be available through in the next three to five days on and up to 30 days on

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why You Should Travel Before You're 40

Ouch! I've officially crossed the "too old to do something without a doctor's permission" bridge. I have to be hurt, both my pride and my sense of self. At only 45, I think it's a bit of a crock, but I understand that caution is the better part of sense.
We've been planning to get our PADI diving certification and because I've been known to faint on occasion (exactly 3 times in my life, to be precise) and have reached that magical age cut off, I must have a dive doctor certify that I won't die under water. The circumstances of the fainting seem to be moot. (Okay, one was from sun stroke, one was from utter exhaustion and the last one was because I'm a big baby and don't like the sight of my own blood - I'm not proud.)

Anyhow, if this had been last year, I'd be okay - no doctor's not, no nosy questions, but because 6 months have passed, I'm now on the hook for a check up. So what if I hiked 71kms up to altitudes of 15,000 feet or 2,400 metres? Or that I live in one of the highest cities in the world - nope; faint + 45 = decrepit. Even Ron, bastion of good health and vigor now needs to get the doctor's okay.

So this is why you should do a lot of things earlier in life.  I know, for those of you past that's too late...just like it's too late for me, but for those of you on the cusp and wondering if you should or shouldn't...for the love of God, do it. Do it while you don't have to pay higher premiums for travel insurance, when you don't need to pay out good money for a doctor to give you the thumbs up. Do it when people hear your age and don't reach for the walker or cardiac arrest machine...just in case.

Sure, you might have more money or time when you're older, but sometimes no amount of time or cash will get you where you want to go. (Shocker...right?  I thought enough money could grease the way for nearly anything, but that's the's going to take money to do this thing now...and I can only imagine A LOT of money to "get around" the problem...not that we'd do  that.)

If you're past 40...don't panic. Get out and do the thing you've dreamed about doing, don't let the red tape and discouraging words stop you. We're going to and you should, too.