Category Archives: Last few Days in Calgary before flight to Romania …

New Reality 2020

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Whenever I start a new blog entry, my mind is often blank for many long minutes. The very act feels self indulgent, self centred, egotistical. It has, however, grown to be a source of comfort to me over the years, much like the diary I used to write in occasionally as a child. Initially I started my blog ten years ago to record and trace my travels and experiences of a year long solo trip around the world and share those moments with my family and a handful of friends. I see now that it has shifted more into the realm of a record, a personal peek into me and where I am at on this life journey, as much as it is a travel log .. blog. I read between my own lines lol 🙄 for clarity of thought. In many ways, I feel I have returned to the diary of my youth.

So … the Coronavirus …. I don’t even like capitalizing that pesky germ ridden creepy word!! Yes, I am most definitely testy on day eleven in the midst of a solo isolation! That tiny highly contagious little bugger of a germ has taken our planet Earth captive in a way no one could have predicted just one short month ago! The impact of that continues to ruminate around in my head … yes, lots of time for thinking now. Invariably, it is a gift in disguise, one that we can all learn from. Not quite there yet, but working on it 🙄!

Surprisingly, despite having eerily realistic dreams most nights, I have been sleeping better than I have in years. A welcome by-product and yes, a small gift of this surreal time. What I deeply and intensely resent the uninvited, the unwelcome coronavirus guest bringing to our table however, is this distancing from family, from friends. At a time when we all need each other for human comfort, we are told to stay apart. A grandmother … that would be me and millions of others, advised by our government that we should not see our grandchildren, healthy as we all might be. How can we possibly be infecting each other, all sequestered in a house, away from the masses, away from public places?? Paranoia Patty seems to be taking over the global mind! So many seem riddled with fear, common sense appearing to have jumped ship altogether! Stay tuned … rumination eventually turns into words … see what day twelve brings in revisions to this blog entry.

“If you can’t go outward, go inward” …. on that note, my yoga, meditation and chanting routine beckons … keeps me sane in a world seemingly gone insane.

The Far and Wide Reach of a Helping Hand

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A few years ago I had heard through a good friend in San Miguel about Amistad Canada and the good work they support in this area of Mexico. Health and the well being of the disadvantaged children and their families in the rural communities is the focus of five projects out of the fifteen they support in Mexico. Amistad is a Canadian endeavour and continues to be for the most part, started up by a few Canadian retirees over ten years ago. Responding to the vitality and warmth of San Miguel’s community life and the very evident need of the local population for more social support, many people in the expatriate community become active in supporting social agencies that provide services to those in need. Their reach has extended to a dozen or so projects today in Guanajuato, Oaxaca and Jalisco.

Bev and I, together with our friends Anne and Rick, fifteen other Canadians and Americans and the Patronato Pro Ninos staff head to the campo (countryside) to a small community where the mobile units were stationed for the week. We learn and see first hand what this amazing little company has been up to. As well as a Central Health Centre, it operates a fleet of mobile medical and dental vans, the newest ones, being funded by Amistad Canada. The programs give financial support to sick children and dental and medical care to those who have no means or access to either without the help of the Pro Ninos program.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when people gather together, sharing their organizational talents, passion and desire to help those less fortunate in our world. San Miguel is not just a winter haven for retirees. There are committed people wanting to lend a helping hand. Fundraising is a constant to keep the programs running smoothly. Many San Miguel residents have been very generous over the years. To move these vital programs forward, the goal of Patronato Pro Ninos is to include corporate fundraising in the future.

Mother watches as her child’s teeth are examined.
We meet teachers and students at the local school in the village … lots of support from Patronato Pro Ninos here as well
David Winfield, President of Patronato (on far right in beige) and his Executive Director Nory Contractor (center) share information about the programs
Doctor in the mobile unit
The Dentist in charge of the mobile dental van
A flock of sheep greet me as I explore the village
We gather around with Patronato President David Winfield and his highly enthusiastic Executive Director, Nora Contractor, who I must say is the most enthusiastic human being alive. Her passion is helping others.

I am humbled totally. This enthusiastic organization blows me away. There is much good in our world.

I loved watching this little girl ‘watching us’ 😊

Discovering yet another layer of San Miguel de Allende.

March 12, 2020, Amistad hosts a 10th Anniversary Party at Instituto Allende, inviting all Canadians living in San Miguel to the festivities. Bev and I volunteer with a handful of others, helping set up for the afternoon party.

Hanging of the flags
Loved the children’s choir

Bev and I form part of the backstage ‘security detail’ along with local staff 😊


I loved helping out, little as it was .. volunteering is in my blood

Hard to believe I started working on this post just ten brief days ago … how the world, yes literally the world, has changed since then! We learned shortly after that Amistad party on March 12th, that as Canadians, we would have to make our way back to Canada as soon as possible!! I waited another week and just managed to squeak in prior to border closings and the cancellation of many flights back to Canada. I rarely jump into a situation at first blush … I tend to wait for the furor to die down and as such, despite being borderline crazy to leave booking a flight to the last moment, it was pleasant to arrive at all connecting flights and airports with hardly a person around … have never in all my many years of travel, been in such empty airports! It was beyond a surreal experience. I breezed through Queretaro Airport in Mexico, same through Houston and Vancouver, disinfectant handy wipes in hand. Kelowna upon arrival was a total ghost town. Surreal indeed.

To think on March 16th, Bev and I hosted a small going away dinner party for our friends before we all dispersed on various flights to our homes in Canada. It was before “social distancing” became the new normal in our human interactions for the next several weeks if not months!! A few stayed on in San Miguel to weather this coronavirus pandemic here in the comfort of their homes.

Will miss them all 😢

How much has changed since this wonderful night together with good friends. Was it really just a week ago today??!! We now live with the reality of a viral pandemic that is already changing our lives forever. Stay tuned as I sit here in the midst of a 14 day solo isolation period in Kelowna, British Columbia as this global virus situation evolves. It is heartbreaking to be away from family at a time like this.

San Miguel de Allende Magic 2020

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It is early morning. The familiar sunrise ‘song’ of a nearby rooster, our reliable San Miguel alarm clock wakes me up. The rooster is an early bird … getting rather randy at 3:00 am on many mornings 🙄!! Bev and I return for our seventh year, to share a home in this charming cobbly colonial small town in Central Mexico … a town that never ceases to awaken the senses. We settle in, comfy in both our friendship and our home!

Local ladies creating amazing beadwork
Bev skipping along the cobblestones 😊

Travelling with friends has always added a totally different dynamic to my adventures! It is a definite departure from travel with my husband or children and grandchildren or my more frequent typical solo excursions. I welcome the diversity and remain grateful for both family and friends, so willing to share the experience of opening ourselves to different cultures, countries, experiences.

Many years ago, on our first adventure together, Bev and I were delighted to have the opportunity to soak in the warmth of the San Miguel ambiance in lieu of a wintry Calgary. We committed to a month initially, now stretched to two 😊. We get along, despite the odd mild spat once in a blue moon … how cool is that to say after all these years??!!

Love the local street vendors ❤️

I was not always much of a ‘girlfriend’ throughout most of my childhood or even in the decades that followed. I grew up with five sisters, most of us barely a year apart in age … that seemed about as much female company as I needed or wanted.

Times have changed and I have grown to value my women friends over the years … more then I ever thought I would. Despite that, I do so relish a daily dose of quiet solo time, be it walking a nature path in the mountains, parks, beaches or walking the streets of San Miguel … I have heard this yearning for quiet moments in solitude could well be a Finnish trait 🙄. One of my all time favourite ‘activities’ is still laying down in a sauna, in total silence 😌! My Finnish roots run deep. The sauna available at the Rosewood Hotel remains a main draw every year as I sign up for the monthly membership! The gym and pool are peripheral benefits 😂!

A tradition when I sign up at Rosewood … margarita and guacamole on their patio after a good workout and sauna!
Iconic San Miguel street view

A year or so ago when I stayed at the Osho Ashram in Pune, India, what delighted me no end was when I discovered a true Finnish sauna, tucked away in their tiny spa!! Needless to say, I rarely missed a sauna day 😂! I was often the sole occupant! Though my passport is Canadian … and despite that I love and value my country dearly, a substantial part of my soul remains Finnish to the core!

Sauna in Pune, India

But … onward and forward to this charming city of San Miguel where life moves along at a leisurely pace. We walk these familiar cobblestone streets where an interesting array of entertainment offerings are available daily … talks and documentaries at the Biblioteca, musical concerts at Paprika, Bellas Artes, Instituto Allende, plays at Santa Ana, movies at Mercado Sano, dinners in or out with friends, yoga with maestro Antonio, or sometimes opting to just stay put, have a nap, read or enjoy an evening of Netflix, wine and leftovers 😊.

Sunday mornings find Bev and I bathing in community at the Unitarian Universalist Church, where joys and sorrows, music and stories are shared in a deeply spiritual accepting atmosphere of love and respect for all, where every one is welcome … inclusivity permeates the atmosphere!

San Miguel can be as busy or relaxing as one wishes. It is said there are many layers to this magical little city. After living here for a part of all these winters, we continue to peel away layers, always discovering something that stirs and stokes the intellect, warms the heart, connects us to what ultimately sings to our souls …

Bev’s Calgary yoga group, in San Miguel for a retreat join us for lunch
The grand lady of San Miguel .. the neo-gothic 17th century pink spired Parroquia
UU Sunday church services
Me in a happy place, mixing with our spiritual community
The wooden chalice sculpture, a UU symbol created by and donated to the church by a local artist
Rooftop patio dining at Casa Papaya with Anne, Rick, Owen and Heidi
I make weekly stops to sit quietly inside the Parroquia
A visit with Francoise in her new apartment
Police presence in town 😗
Bev’s indulgence above and mine below 😊
Tequila tasting with chilli powdered fruit 😊

Beachside Solitude

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On my own once again. Linda left for the comforts of home last week, leaving me with a bit of quiet time before my next leg of travel to San Miguel de Allende.

I head off for an afternoon stroll to explore the markets, the street side cafes, the graffiti art along the side streets, the Pochutla produce market … all capture the brilliant textures and vibrant colours of this coastal region of Oaxaca, home of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico … undoubtedly the earliest inhabitants!


Given the past few years have been somewhat emotionally charged ones, losing my sister, brother in law and a dear close friend, it has been pure ‘comfort food’ to start off a new year, a new decade in the company of a friend who knows me so well … someone I can just hang with, be myself around, who accepts me despite my many quirks. Good soul infused companionship! Sometimes I even make Linda laugh out loud 😂!

It’s been a pleasant month. Leisurely mornings, sipping coffee on our patio, listening to the waves, the ocean view so soothing. Often we strolled into town for a late breakfast of fresh papaya juice, toast and beans or an omelet at either Posada San Cristobal, Nice Place on the Beach or Buda-Mar next door.

Zipolite has a unique small town vibe with an eclectic mix of accommodations. There are tents perched on the beach, mixed in with thatch roofed huts, small boutique hotels, all manner of little casitas with rooms to rent dotting the hillsides and main streets. Not a five star luxury place within a hundred kms of Zipolite … some sort of building ordinance I would think? The town consists of a handful of streets along the stunningly beautiful Zipolite beach …. normally these bits of real estate are nabbed by the big chain hotels that dot tropical coastal regions around the world. The population is somewhere in the range of a thousand people. It is an interesting mix of various indigenous Mexicans, tourists from everywhere … Americans, Canadians, Italians, French, Germans, Austrians, Finns, Scandinavians! Many are young backpackers who often come for a week and decide to stay for months or years … seekers of every persuasion, artists, musicians, surfers. Some seem lost in a different era … the sixties perhaps 🙄. Lots of alternative lifestyle sorts are drawn to Zipolite … the eclectic extends beyond the accommodations 🙄 … we are definitely an interesting assortment. As a local homeowner told us “there is no place anywhere quite like Zipolite” 😌

My favourite part of living here is enjoying a daily glass of freshly pressed papaya juice every morning! A simple pleasure 😊.

Since Linda left, I have walked the beach to welcome sunrise every morning, sans clothing as many here choose to do. Very natural and freeing. “When in Rome” …….. 😊! I sense this may well be a main draw for many ….. the only legally sanctioned nude beach in all of Mexico. It has become a rather pleasant side benefit this week. I opt for early mornings just before sunrise … fewer if any people around 🙄!! The play of morning light on the water mesmerizes … the gentle ocean breeze on my bare skin … perfecto!

After too many years of a rather haphazard “on again, off again meditation practice”, a meditation routine of sorts is slowly taking shape. I am learning to apply a meditative attitude wherever I am, whatever I am doing. My emotionally turbulent self of old, rarely surfaces … still I do honour that too … it was a chapter in my life … ok maybe too many chapters 😂 … all part of my journey. Today, thankfully, I feel at peace more often than not.

Aaah these rambling reflections rumble around in my head, competing for space with the zenny more mindful moments 🙄

Aiming this year for more calm, less doing, more being, less having, more sharing, less judgement, more kindness, more compassion, more love ❤️

Zipolite – January, 2020

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And so a new year, indeed a new decade begins. Hola 2020! January 1st, Linda and I meet at the airport, catch an early morning flight – Calgary to Huatalco, Oaxaca … and onward via an hour long cab ride to Zipolite! Linda had never travelled to Mexico and was keen to stay at a condo offered to us by a friend of hers … so onward ho to our second global adventure together! Monarca, an 18 suite condo project smack in the middle of the only ‘legal’ nude beach in all of Mexico! A nude beach in this Catholic country ??? 🙄. Say what??!!

It was not tucked away discreetly in a remote part of the beach area, as we had thought, but ran the entire almost two kilometres of beach! Took a few days to become accustomed to bare bums and various other body parts, fully displayed in all their free flying glory!

So after a few days of visual adjustment, the sleepy, zen like ambiance of Zipolite took hold of both Linda and I. There is a relaxing bohemian vibe to this wee Oaxaca town, drawing both young and not so young from all over the world. Gay folks constitute a good number … nice to see such a relaxed accepting atmosphere for those who in past decades, have been so cruelly marginalized. On daily walks through this primarily one street town, cannabis smoke wafts through the air.

Oaxaca is, by and large, the most ethnically complex of Mexico’s thirty-one states. Oaxaca is the historic home of the indigenous Zapotec and Mixtec peoples.

At least half of the population of Oaxaca still speaks an indigenous dialect! Sixteen different indigenous groups have been formally registered as indigenous communities, defined through dialect, customs, food habits, clothing, artistic beadwork, embroidery, rituals. By all accounts, most are gentle, helpful and kind to all of us foreigners invading their turf. Of course as tourism helps keep most everyone employed it becomes a circle of reciprocity. The history of this state intrigues .. onward with some research!

No surprise running into two Finlanders one evening. Seems wherever I travel, I run into someone who is from Finland!! Be it in such far flung unusual places as Pune, Dubai, Quito, Ulaanbaatar, or parts in between throughout Europe and Asia, Finns are out there exploring the world! So why not add tiny town Zipolite into the mix??! I imagine my own gypsy tendencies could well be a cultural heritage 😂

Sunrise to sunset …. papaya juices to margaritas, Linda and I indulge ❤️

Morning view from our patio ❤️

December’s Tender, Joyful, Celebratory Moments 2019

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December 10th, I close my Kelowna home down for the winter, head to the airport and arrive shortly after to a rather … hmmm … minus Celsius double digit wintry Calgary just in time to celebrate Oliver’s 5th Birthday. I doubt there is a sweeter more dear five year old anywhere. He is a kind, thoughtful, giving, sensitive, compassionate little soul. He is also a little rascal trickster at times, delighting my heart no end! I love him so dearly.

It was a busy month with many family dinners, skating and skiing outings, Christmas gift exchanges and of course, Sarah, Rob and Rob’s brother Jackson’s annual Christmas Eve party! New this year was sharing Christmas Day at Rob’s sister Lisa’s home with the James and Overmann families and Lisa’s partner Rick and his mom Janet. (Drats … totally forgot to take pictures at Lisa’s!!!). Delicious dinners all with many love filled moments sharing them. Pictures tell the story 😊

These last weeks are reflective ones … it was a year of both sadness and celebration. Family members and a dear friend passed on to the other side.

When we lose those we love, it reminds us to savour the moments … they are after all, transitory … nothing lasts forever.

I love the Ram Dass quote …. “We are all just walking each other home”. How love filled is that?? What if we collectively made sharing moments of kindness, compassion, love and hugs all around, our daily acts of creativity, of grace? What if we make it a goal to live in the moment, every single day as the wisdom traditions and sages suggest. What if …..

No doubt about it … my grandchildren epitomize living in the moment ❤️. Probably why I so enjoy being around them 😂 … they ground me to the exquisite beauty of life.

And so ends 2019 ❤️.

California Dreaming … A Return to Desert Serenity

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Mickey and I decided early this spring, shortly after Gordon’s passing, to return to La Quinta for our first trip together sans Gordon. A quiet kind of tribute journey … the three musketeers reduced to two. Our time here is short and although poignancy may hang in the air, we are still both buoyant with humour as we revive memories of our early years of friendship and the many global travels we shared over the decades. An early morning sunrise walk in the peaceful Santa Rosa Mountains soothes our souls …

There are many precious memories to savour as we reminisce, walking along these well worn trails or hopping around the boulders of Joshua Tree National Park. Mickey never ceases to crack me up … her sense of humour remains contagious 😂. When we arrived at the car rental booth at Palm Springs airport, for some reason, we were given a teenage boy’s dream car, a turbocharged black Dodge Charger!! Mickey in quick order, dubbed this our ‘Thelma and Louise’ adventure … set us off chuckling as we revved the engine, leaving other cars in a pouf of desert sand …. ok not quite 😂 … The novelty of driving this clamorous muscle car had faded by the next morning! We turned it back in to an astonished young clerk who couldn’t fathom anyone trading in his dream car for a Jetta 😂!!! We figured a few men might relish reliving their teenage years in this vehicle more than we ever would 🤪.

We toast Gordon often, sipping his favourite sauvignon blanc at the various desert happy hours in La Quinta, Joshua Tree or Palm Desert.

La Quinta has long been our Webb family favourite for golf getaways or short winter breaks at the PGA Residence Club villa … memorable holidays were enjoyed over many years with both extended family and friends often invited to join us. Although we sold our interest in the villa a few years ago, I was happy to return to the comforting soothing desert ambiance ….