Two For the Road ~ 5 traits that make a great travel partner

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you ~

 Let the Adventure Begin.

The photo above accompanied by the caption “Let the Adventure Begin” was how hubs and I chose to announce our marriage in 2003.  I thought the couple in this photo looked like a perfect team – happy partners in crime and in life.

Whether you are a duo on the Road to Zanzibar or the Road of Life, traveling with a partner can be tricky business.  One of the things I love about my hubby is that we travel well together.  As we get closer to heading out on our own Two For the Road adventures I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what makes a really good team.  For me it comes down to a few very important traits.

Here are the top five on my list ~

Every great team needs…

1.  A Yes Man, a partner who says Hell Yes or Why Not to whatever crazy idea you come up with.  Someone who is all in for a good time or an adventure and doesn’t sweat the details.  When you say “Just shut up and get in the car.”  That’s exactly what they do.  They might even roll down the window and hang their head out to feel the breeze.  Oh, wait.  That’s the dog.

2.  A partner who is calm during your storm.  Like the time a few years ago when Amtrak cancelled our train with no warning – just taped up a hand printed paper sign “No Train Today”.  No train?  Really?  I’m on a five day vacation!  I need the train TODAY!   That’s when you need a partner who stands back calmly while you throw an earth-shattering-all out-but-still-lady-like-bitch fit after the Amtrak service person says, “Ok. So, do you want to cancel now or do you want to come back tomorrow?”  and, then said partner calmly steps up, takes your arm, and says “Let’s go find a Happy Hour and come back in the morning”.  Happy Hour?  Ok.  I love Happy Hour.

3.  The guy in the rose colored glasses.  On those days when one of you is less than your shining best – let’s just call it major-ass cranky-pants and your partner looks over and says  “Have I told you today how crazy I am about you?”  Whoa!  Hello Dolly! Just the right words at the right time.  Well, rightbackattcha Big Boy.

4.  A comedian and a straight man.  You know, like George and Gracie, Lucy and Ricky, Will and Grace.  Every great comedy duo has an instigator, the comedian with the cockeyed point of view and the straight man who makes it all seem funny.  They are a finely oiled machine.  They play off each other.  They give as good as they get.  They make each other laugh.

5.  And, finally, you’ve each gotta be a switch hitter.  A great partnership works when you can switch roles easily and as often as required.  When you’re at the end of your rope – he’s just getting his strength.  When he’s too pooped to participate, you slow your frantic pace and stop to smell the roses.  It’s a balancing act and it works best when each person is tuned in to the other, to the moment, to the goal at hand, and to the bigger picture.

And so, ten years later, I say – Let The Adventure Continue.  We’re two for the road and I cannot wait to see where the road will lead us.

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something we must always remember.  We are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.  But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… we’ll always be together.”  Christopher Robin

I originally published a version of this post back in 2012.  It seemed like a perfect post for Valentine’s Day so I dusted it off, prettied it up a bit and thought I’d share it again.

Cheers!

Nancy

Retirement Reality Check

I wrote this in my very first blog post…

The backpack and rollie is really a good metaphor for life and all the baggage we accumulate, both the real stuff and the emotional stuff we carry around. What’s really important goes into the rollie bag and all the old unnecessary crap… just let it go. I know, so much easier said than done. However, I’ve decided to jump on the bus to wherever and embrace the possibilities of being a citizen of the world and all that might mean.

What would I keep? How much stuff can you fit into a couple of carry on bags anyway? I’m about to find out. This blog is my exploration of my experience in letting go of the old, and at a time when it appears I’m becoming “old” myself, letting go in search of finding new joyful adventures. Green lights and full speed ahead!

That first post was written on March 3, 2012.  Nearly two years ago.  So much has happened since I put words to those thoughts.  I’d certainly like to think the writing has improved, but that’s just ego getting in the way (again and still).  We’ve sold stuff on ebay, made many trips to Goodwill, sat through garage sale hell, and here we are, still swimming in stuff.   Still making the big house payment.  Still waiting to win the Lottery so we can cash in the chips.  In short, we’re in limbo.  We’ve slipped back  into our old, comfortable groove and it’s starting to wear on me.  It doesn’t fit like it used to.

There’s an old saying about progress being two steps forward and one step back and there is a lot of truth there.   Hubs and I have spent the last few months on auto pilot.  I won’t bore you with the excuses.   I won’t even bore myself with the excuses (often disguised as very good reasons).   They aren’t important really.  Truth is, it’s time for action and that isn’t always easy or comfortable.   In that post two years ago I said I was “jumping on the bus to wherever, green lights and full speed ahead”, but it feels more like being trapped in a rush hour traffic jam.  Nobody’s moving.

My Leap Date looms.  It’s marked on my calendar and it’s starting to flash like a beacon.

We’re rounding the turn and heading for the home stretch.  So set the countdown clock. It’s time to:  Find a way.  Make the plan.  Get off the pot.  Sell the stuff.  Rent the house.  Pack the bags.  Send the cat to live with his Auntie Ann.  Quit the job or figure out how to do it on the road.  In short, it’s  just do it or shut the hell up time.

It’s time to get on the bus to wherever before it leaves the station without me.

A lot of people I know choose a word at the beginning of the year to set their intention and focus their priorities around.  My word for 2014 is BELIEVE.  As in believe that I/we really can do this.  This I know is true:  If your fear of the unknown is stronger that your belief in your abilities to achieve your dream, you’re going to get stuck in the traffic and sit there spinning your wheels, wasting fuel, getting frustrated, doubting yourself.  Fear:  I’m not sure either hubs or I would have called it that out loud, but I’m pretty sure that’s where we’ve been stuck these past few months.  Call it busy.  Call it fear.  Call it the inability to truly believe.  Call it carting around some unnecessary baggage that’s weighing heavy in my backpack.  I’m done being stuck.  I choose to believe we can do this.  Hell, I know we will do this.  So let’s just do it then.  And, sooner rather than later.  My travel feet are getting itchy.

believeinchange

Now, I believe it’s cocktail time…somewhere.  And I’ve got work to do.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

Purpose, Passion & Reinventing Retirement ~

What are you doing for the next 20 years?

Retirement means very different things to each of us.   For some, it’s the old-style American Dream of what I call “I don’t do very much, and I do it slowly” where you work to a certain age, cash in your chips and take up a life of leisure.  No work.  No worries.  And certainly no responsibilities.

But, here’s the rub.  Here’s what’s missing in this picture for me, and apparently for a lot of other retirees and boomers who are just starting to think about what retirement might mean for them.   Purpose.  I’ve talked to so many women who’ve been retired one or two years and while they’ve enjoyed the freedom to toss out the alarm clock or sip coffee and read the paper when others are lining up like lemmings for the morning commute, these friends are starting to feel the itch to do something more.  Something meaningful.  Something that feeds the soul, or the creative spirit, or maybe even leaves a tiny reminder that we were here and it made a difference.

These days lots of people are re-inventing retirement.   Many are leaving old careers to create new ones.  On their own terms.  Remember when we told our kids “You can be anything you want to be.”?   Well, we said it but we didn’t always believe it, and many of us (me) didn’t actually do it ourselves either.   I had bills to pay and work, meaningful or not, was how I paid them.  Today’s retirement is our second chance to be anything we want to be and we’re going for it – by becoming senior entrepreneurs, re-claiming long lost passions like painting, fly-fishing, or running.   Some of us are exploring new creative outlets: cooking, travel blogging and anything else we can dream up.  Yes indeed, our generation is once again doing what we do best –  making waves and creating change.  We are turning that old-style retirement model upside down.  And why not?  We’ve got 20 or 30 good years ahead of us after we turn in our office card key and name badge.  Let’s make them the best damn years of our lives.  Lives full of passion, purpose and meaning.  Let’s be busier than ever creating joy and spreading inspiration.   Let’s make a difference and have fun while we’re doing it.

That’s  exactly what these recent winners of the Encore.org Purpose Prize are doing ~

A hearty High-5 to Ed Nicholson, the 71 year old founder of Project Healing Waters.   Ed, a retired military man, founded Healing Waters to help disabled soldiers and vets heal from the physical, mental & emotional toll of war through fly fishing.  Cast by cast, line by line, his organization is making a difference in lives across America.

Congratulations to Nancy Armitage who launched an encore career that combines her professional experience, creative joy and family history when she created Memories in the Making.   Supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy’s organization brings the power of expression to those who have lost their words due to Alzheimer’s.  Through Nancy’s inspiration, art becomes their voice.

And finally, a You Go Girl to Vicki Thomas, who, at 64, was a successful marketing and PR executive, but felt something was missing in her life.  When she saw a CNN news story about Dale Beatty and John Gallina, two injured Iraq vets who where changing lives, she knew immediately what she had been missing:  a higher purpose.  Vicki picked up the phone and cold-called them with an offer of help and a desire to make a difference by joining their Purple Heart Homes project where among their many services, they are adapting foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.

This is not your grandmother’s retirement.   Our generation is living longer and stronger.  We’re taking up causes big and small.  We’re sharing our experience and our expertise. We’re going back to school.  We’re heading out to see the world.  We’re re-igniting our creative spark.  Just like the Raging Grannies, we’re making noise.  We won’t go quietly into the night.   We’re starting a Retirement Revolution and I want to be part of it.

How about you?  Rocking chair or revolution?  Or, maybe a bit of both?

Want to learn more about what’s going on at Encore.org? Click on over to their website Read the fascinating stories of all the 2013 Purpose Prize winners here.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What began as an idea for a diverting day trip for soldiers has evolved into Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), the organization Nicholson, 71, founded to help disabled soldiers and veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war through fly fishing.

Cast by cast, line by line, it’s reshaping the lives of thousands of veterans across the U.S. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing now has 158 programs in 48 states as well as affiliates in Australia and Canada. In 2012 alone, 2,300 volunteers invested 122,000 hours to work with 4,000 wounded warriors.

– See more at: http://www.encore.org/ed-nicholson-0#sthash.JHVCHQhs.dpuf

5 Tips for Going the Distance From a 94 Year Old Champion

It’s dark.  it’s cold.  it’s raining.  And Nancy is not out there walking in it.  Just a few months ago, I was putting  in 20-30 miles a week.  And now?  I’m walking from the couch to the refrigerator in my toasty new UGG slippers.  I admit it.  I’m a fair weather exerciser.  The gym is my back-up, but I don’t love it.  Okay, I do love Zumba, but this time of year the classes are so full it’s almost a combat sport.  I haven’t done a downward dog in many moons either.  Yoga is great for your body, but where’s the cardio?  That leaves the hamspter-wheel, I mean treadmill.  BORING.  Mind-numbingly boring for me.  Last weekend’s long hill walk in the bright winter sunshine was a tonic, but we don’t have many days like that in the months ahead.  I need to get my walking mojo back.  Pronto!

So, I munched the last of my Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee and went looking for some sorely needed re-motivation.

I found exactly what I needed in a Parade Magazine article by Bruce Grierson who shared the inspiring and very motivating story of 94 year old Olga Kotelko.   A retired Canadian school teacher, Olga entered her first masters track and field competition at 77 and is still bringing home the gold.  She is the only woman over 90 who competes in the long jump and high jump.  Makes you feel like a bit of a slacker doesn’t it?  Well it did me.  I found the perfect role model in Olga.

I’ve read all the statistics about healthy longevity and exercise.  If the current science is correct and longevity is 75% about lifestyle, then we could all take a few pages from Olga’s book.  Will I be doing the high jump at 94?  Probably not.  Heck, I didn’t do the high jump at 14.  But, I will do everything in my power to be walking and dancing and kicking up my heels for as long as I can.  Olga is what researchers  call  a”super senior” – folks who are remaining sharp and healthy deep into old age.  Who doesn’t want that?  Besides, I’m somewhat of an over achiever so any title with “super” in it title really appeals to me.

How do Olga and other super seniors defy the odds?  Here are five of Olga’s habits that are well worth making your own:

1.  Put down the paper and lace up your sneakers.  Yes, it is that simple (and that difficult), but here’s a little added incentive.  We already know that exercise is important to your body, but Increasing evidence suggests that it is also great for the brain.  Want to fend off dementia?  Of course you do.   Well it might just be that taking a walk or a zumba class is better for your brain than completing every square in the New York Times Crossword.  Well then, what magic might happen if we did both?

2.  Stand Up!   Or at least get up.  We all sit too much.  I sit for hours every day at my desk – working, blogging, doing research, doing homework, writing articles.  Whatever. Then hubs and I hunker in front of the TV and sit some more.  Like most Americans, we are active for 1-2 hours tops and sedentary for the other 23 hours a day.  Desk jobs are unhealthy.  Extended periods of sitting can lead to serious problems like high blood pressure, blood clots and perhaps cancer.  Even in people who are deemed fit.   As the Parade article states “The painless act of rising from your chair pumps blood from the feet to the head, it helps tune your vestibular system, which helps maintain blood pressure and keeps you steady on your feet”.  Well, okay then.  It’s time for a few laps up and down the stairs.  I’ll be right back…

3.  Eat real food – most of the time.  If it comes from the ground, eat it.  If it comes from a can, bag or box, think twice.  Allow for the occasional really good indulgence.  That has been my motto for quite a while and I hope it’s working.  Like Olga, I don’t skip meals and then fill up on junk food at the Jack In the Box drive through.  Thankfully, I gave that up years ago.  Olga eats four or five times a day and not much in the evenings.  I like this simple approach.

4.  Become a creature of habit.   Olga’s point is that it helps to make exercise a routine and stick to it so that eventually it becomes a habit.  Easier said than done for me, but I have the perfect role model right here at home.  Hubs, goes to the gym 4 or 5 mornings a week, plugs in his ipod, climbs on the treadmill and listens to the same 20 songs over and over again.   Olga does the same thing at the track, but instead of Meat Loaf, she’s plugging in to Mozart’s Piano Concerto.  Whatever works.  They are both in it for the long haul.  I am too, but I need to change things up or I get restless and slack off.  It’s the “Just Do It” motto that creates the exercise habit.

5.  Give yourself a High-5.  On the 80’s TV show Coach, Luther was the bumbling assistant whose motto was “set the bar low so you will always be successful”.  It got a laugh on the show, but it’s not such a bad idea.  We tend to set lofty goals and then beat ourselves up when we don’t reach them.  Sometimes the goal can be as simple as “take a 10 minute walk” or “just go to the gym for 15 minutes”.   Easy goals get you going and you will probably walk longer or workout more than you planned once you are out there.  Give yourself a mental High-5 when you’re done.   Even better, find a workout buddy and cheer each other on.

Here’s my favorite part of Olga’s story ~ Recently she was at an airport going through security.  As usual everyone began removing their shoes but Olga didn’t.  A sign said that you didn’t have to if you were over 75.  “Excuse me, ma’am” the security agent asked.  “How old are you.?”  “Ninety-three,” Olga replied.  The agent was flabbergasted and asked her again.  “How old?” “Ninety-three” She said again.   “What’s your secret?”  the skeptical agent asked.  Olga’s reply?  “Enjoy life.”   A huge grin spread across the agent’s face.   She nodded her head and turned to her supervisor somewhere behind the barrier and announced, “I quit.”

And there’s the motivation I needed to get out in the cold, damp, dark and walk, walk, walk.  Even and especially if it’s walking to the gym.

Thank you, Olga, from a former Canadian and brand new fan.

See you on the road.

Nancy

Bruce Grierson has a new book What Makes Olga Run?  The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer.  It hits the bookshelves January 14.  I can’t wait to read it.

 

Top Places to Retire ~ 2014

 Where ya gonna go?  What ya gonna do when you get there?  And, bottom line… how  ya gonna pay for it?

No work, no money, no worries.

No work, no money, no worries.

Those are the questions a whole bunch of retirees and soon-to-be retirees are asking.   These days, options for retirement are growing as rapidly as the number of boomers crossing the employment finish line.

Just when you need it, here’s a little information, food for thought and a few links to click through to help you explore some of this year’s top retirement havens.

Every year the team at International Living, Kathleen Peddicord of Live and Invest Overseas publish their lists of the top places to retire outside of the United States.   Creating these lists requires a fair amount of boots on the ground research and data analysis.  In the case of International Living, they publish what they call a Global Retirement Index where they measure eight categories:  cost of living, real estate, infrastructure, climate, real estate, special retirement benefits, ease of integration, infrastructure, and entertainment and amenities.  While they do look at hard numbers like annual rainfall and senior discounts, the cost of utilities and housing, what they provide is mainly a “qualitative” assessment.   A lot of this information comes directly from people who have their boots on the ground or their flip-flops in the sand.  Then IL analyzes the data and creates a ranking based on a point system with 100 being somewhere close to perfect.   From this they determine the top countries.  Bear in mind, that they are generally looking at a few specific towns, cities and regions within those countries.   While Ecuador (2013’s winner) ranks high as a country, most people live in or near a few specific locations like Cuenca, Cotacochi, Quito or the coast.  A few brave souls are blazing trails and leaving the relative safety and comfort of the cities and setting up camp in small towns, but they are giving up some of the ranking benefits of reliable internet, readily available good healthcare, etc. that many retirees feel is essential.  These types of reports generally cater to the moderately adventurous newbie and provide a great place to start.

International Living’s Top Ten Retirement Destinations for 2014 are… (drum roll please)

1.  Panama – which ranked 100 in special benefits and 91.2 overall

2.  Ecuador – which ranked 99 in special benefits, 100 in climate and 91.1 overall

3. Malaysia – No 100’s here but was rated 88.5 overall and a 95 health rating.

4.  Costa Rica –  Still suffers from infrastructure problems (75) and climate (77).  Rated 86.8 overall indicating lots of people like the security and pura vida lifestyle.

5.  Spain –  This one surprised me, but they ranked in the 90’s for real estate, health, infrastructure and entertainment/amenities.  Perhaps these offset the exchange rate.  Overall – 85.8

Others in the Top Ten?  Colombia – 84.2, Mexico – 84.2, Malta – 84.1, Uruguay – 83.7 and Thailand at 83.5.

According to US News who published Kathleen Peddicord’s list of 2014 top cities/countries, the winners are ~

1.  Coronado, Panama

2.  Languedoc, France

3.  Ambergris Caye, Belize

4.  Cuenca, Ecuador

5.  Chiang Mai, Thailand

6.  Puerto Vallerta, Mexico

7.  Granada, Nicaragua

8.  Medellin, Columbia

If, like hubs and I, you are looking for a quality retirement lifestyle where your retirement budget stretches farther, perhaps some these places are worth a look and maybe a visit.  I’ll be doing more research and reporting back with details so stay tuned.

See you on the road!

Nancy

P.S.  If you are currently living or have lived in any of these locations, I’d love to hear from you.   Nothing beats actual experience.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Female Nomads ~ retired women are taking to the open road

My friend Lois is a nomad.  She’s also single and pretty much retired.  Lois doesn’t have a huge income or the security of a well-stocked trust fund.  And yet, Lois has one of the richest, fullest lives of anyone I know.  This delightful, spirited woman lives in a 10 foot 1965 vintage Aloha trailer that she pulls with her aging Mercury Montero.  Freedom?  Oh my! She’s got that in spades.  A couple of weeks ago, Lois waved goodbye to Portland’s rainy winters and headed south with “Li’l Homey”.   She shares her travels and nomad lifestyle on her blog Playing a New Game.  Thank you Lois for  inspiring the gypsy hiding in me.Lil Homey

These days more and more senior single women are taking up life on the road.  They are firing up the RV or hitching up the trailer to explore the highways and back roads all across the country.  They are creating new communities and making friends as they go.  And, while there are are some very interesting challenges in this lifestyle, these gals are rising to the challenge and loving their new home on the road.

If you are feeling the call of the open road as a retirement option, check out these very informative links for more information and a some stories that are guaranteed to make you smile

Unlikely Nomads ~  the Christian Science Monitor

Happy End of the Road for RVers – Assisted Living on Wheels ~ AOL Real Estate

And, finally, if you are not sure the RV life is for you, perhaps you like to give it a try for a night or two in one of the beautiful vintage trailers at the Shady Dell Resort in Arizona or one of the eight cuties available in Bend, Oregon at Cowgirl Cabins.

Who’s in for a Wild Women’s Weekend this summer at Cowgirl Cabins?  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

See you on the road.

Nancy

Brain Games ~ Are you playing?

Are you feeling it too?

Some of us are at that age where losing our glasses and forgetting what we went downstairs for seem to be the norm, rather than the exception.  It happened to me again this week.  There is a TV commercial with a very well-known actor that’s getting a lot of air time right now.  I knew who he was.  I’ve even seen quite a few of his movies, but every time the commercial came on, I silently played the “what is that guy’s name game”.  Oh, it was in there, but it sure wasn’t coming out anytime soon.  Hubs finally saw the commercial last night and immediately looked over at me and said “Isn’t that Samuel L. Jackson?”  Bingo!

Two old fogies out taking their brain cells for a walk and trying not to forget where they are headed.

Two old fogies out taking their brain cells for a walk and trying not to forget where they are headed. Yep, it’s a selfie – were not totally OLD.

Why couldn’t I pull that name from the recesses in my gray matter?  Just a few years ago, hubs and I would laugh about lapses like this.  These days, it doesn’t always seem so funny.  Especially if you are the one who can’t seem to remember anyone’s name.

How timely, then, that I came across an excellent and very relevant article from Next Avenue on the miracle that is our brain and how to keep it young, healthy and functioning for a long time.

It’s well worth the read.  How You Can Make Your Brain Smarter Every Day 

If you are new to the blog or don’t remember reading them, you might also enjoy these previous posts on memory and the aging brain. Have You Seen My Glasses?  and  Thanks For the Memories

See you on the road!  Please don’t take it personally if I don’t remember your name.

Nancy

 

What About Retiring in Uruguay?

The party’s over!  

I’ve been traveling and playing all summer, but now it is time to get back in the saddle and back to my “other” job…exploring the options throughout South and Central America to see where a couple of vagabond retirees might comfortably hang their hats for a few months or a few years.

What’s up next?  How about Uruguay ~
Colonia del Sacramento Photos
This photo of Colonia del Sacramento is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I didn’t know very much about this tiny country (South America’s second smallest), but  one of my friends who is much more well-travelled than I, visited a while back and fell in love with the beautiful old world town of Colonia.  So, with her enthusiastic encouragement and a few gorgeous photos she sent for enticement, I decided to take a closer look.

This post is only a quick peak into what Uruguay has to offer, but it’s definitely enough to spark my interest for more in-depth study which, hopefully, will include a visit when we embark on our South American Tour.

Located in Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil, this pint sized country has been popping up on “best places to retire” lists for a few years now.   Slightly smaller than the state of Washington, with a population of less than 3,500,000 people, Uruguay is famous for it’s beautiful beaches that run the entire length of the coast.  The Costa de Oro (Golden Coast) is a 30 mile stretch of golden sands where many expats from Canada, Europe and the U.S. settle comfortably into a laid back beach lifestyle.

Like many of it’s neighbors, Uruguay has had a somewhat turbulent past.  At various times it has been part of Spain, Portugal, and Brazil.  It still has a decidedly European flavor.  These days, it is enjoying a stable (if left-leaning) democracy.  The current president, Jose Murica, is a very interesting guy.  He has been called the poorest president in the world because he donates 90% of his earnings to charity and lives on a modest income from his small farm.  Under his presidency, however, the economy has flourished and unemployment is at an all time low.  Uruguay has a good infrastructure, great roads, warm and friendly citizens.  There are just enough expats  who have blazed the trail and smoothed over some of the rough spots.  It’s safe (and I understand that wherever you travel these days that safe is a relative term).  No place is totally safe, but according to a US News/MONEY and Retirement report on Uruguay “The rule of law prevails here and the country enjoys the lowest level of corruptions in Latin America.”  And Uruguay will soon completely legalize marijuana.  I’m not sure what that means to me, but I thought it was interesting.

While the cost of living is definitely not as cheap as some other South American countries like Ecuador, several articles reported that a retired couple could live in many areas for less than $3,000 a month.  Far less in some cases.
Montevideo Photos
This photo of Montevideo is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The capital, Montevideo, is a large, sophisticated and bustling city filled with old world charm, shady parks, tree lined streets, sidewalk cafes and artisan markets.  On the other hand, Punta del Este is a high end seaside resort with first class accommodations and casinos.  It is where the elite of Brazil and Argentina come to play.  And then there’s Colonia del Sacramento – my friend’s favorite.  Located just 28 miles by boat from Buenos Aires, this beautifully restored colonial settlement attracts lots of tourists and for a good reason – sycamore shaded cobblestone streets, lovely shops, art galleries, outstanding restaurants and parrilladas (steakhouses).  A recent check showed a two year old, 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with 1,183 square feet of living space and a water view in a great location on the market for $180,000.  Cheap?  Maybe, but that’s still more than I’m hoping to pay if/when we decide to settle down.   The Costa de Oro, anchored by the towns of Atlántida and La Foresta, may offer some of the best real estate options with houses still selling in the low $100,000’s.

Everyone in Uruguay is entitled to quality medical care through the national health care system.  This includes foreign residents.  In the public system, the free clinics can be slow and crowded, but every town has clinic access and they do a good job.  There is also a private health care system that is efficient, well-equipped and inexpensive.  This insurance runs from $50 to $150 a month.  Some caution here though, as it appears that when you reach 65 or 70, you may not be eligible for the private insurance.  More investigation is definitely required on this one.

What’s the weather like?  Well, it depends on who you talk to.  Basically, it has four mild seasons.  The average high in summer is about 82 degrees with lows in the mid 60’s.   A high temperature in winter is more like 60 degrees.  Frost is rare and it never snows.  But it rains.  The annual rainfall which occurs throughout the year (no rainy season) is 41 inches.   It can be humid and windy too.

I usually start my research by ordering the specific country reports from International Living.  Then I spend some time online with Kathleen Pedicord and Escape Artist.  These sites are mostly set up to encourage people to retire abroad.   They can provide a good overview, but the the view is definitely through rose colored glasses.  After I have the basics, its time to start digging for the pros and cons.  I look for personal blogs by folks who are living there.  It doesn’t take long to see that one person’s paradise is definitely another person’s “what the hell was I thinking when I moved here?”   That’s why connecting with people who already have their flip-flops on the ground and the lay of the land is essential.  You want to hear the good, the bad and the Yikes!  Sometimes a place is great for a vacation at the perfect time of year, but hang around for six months and it can be another story entirely.

So far my limited research puts Uruguay squarely on the “maybe” side of the retirement map.   It sounds like a warm, relaxed and hospitable atmosphere with beautiful cities, beaches and countryside.  There are good services (internet, electric, telephone etc.) and a stable economy.  You can drink the water.  Health care is good and residency is easy.  They don’t tax your out-of-country income.  The cost of living is reasonable but not cheap.  But, on the other hand, it is a 9 hour overnight flight from Miami and you seldom find a bargain airfare.  This makes visiting family back home a challenge and you might have few visitors.  Also, although the weather is considered mild, if it’s really humid, that won’t work for hubs and I.  We like it cool and dry.  Sun is good too.  I think Portland averages less than 40″ of rainfall and I’m looking for less, not more.

Want more?  Here are a few good links to check out.

Expat Exchange – 10 Tips For Living in Uruguay

Huffington Post –  How Much Does It Cost to Live in Uruguay?

Future Expats – What to Bring to Uruguay.  Note: Apparently it’s dried cranberries.

and finally, a great blog from a guy who’s been there, done that Wally in Uruguay  

What do you think?  Have you been to Uruguay?  Would you live there?  Did you live there?  We’d love to hear from you.

Hasta luego,

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

Walking the Camino de Santiago ~ unexpected challenges

caminodesantiagoMarlyTours2 “Few people know how to take a walk.  The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, and eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much…”     Ralph Waldo Emerson

My heel hurts!

It started a week ago.  Of course it did.  Because, in exactly one week, hubs and I will be starting the first day of our Camino de Santiago walk.  We’ve been walking pretty much every day since last May.  Some days only a couple of miles (3 times around the mall if its raining) and on weekends longer, hillier, harder walks that topped out at 12.5 miles.  Hubs overcame a toe problem and a back problem and he’s fine.  Me.  I had nothing – until now. 

Really though, we both feel great!  Strong, healthy and ready to go.

Except for the heel.  What the heck?!  I’ve been resting it this week and doing a lot of stretching because I’ve self diagnosed it (I do have some experience here) as  plantar fascitis.  Beyond that, there is really nothing I can do at this point.  It’s out of my control.

Except to trust.   And do the best I can.  And…wait for it… know that it’s okay if I have to ride in the sag wagon.  But I won’t.  I’ll make hubs carry me.

One of the priorities of the Camino is finding your own rhythm.  It’s been said that “We don’t do the Camino we want to do, we do the Camino we are able to do.”  A lot like Life.

I don’t know how my heel’s going to react to the long daily walks, but here’s what I do know for sure.  This walk is not about how I do it or how long it takes or how fast I finish.  It is all about marking a milestone moment in my life and I intend to savor every minute, including the pain if there is any.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the twinges in my heel are reminding me to slow down.  Pay attention.  Be fully present on this journey.  And trust that it will be perfect and just the way it was meant to be.

One step at a time, I’m ready to walk my Camino.

If you are a walker or runner, here’s some great information about the care and feeding of feet I found on the WOW (Wonders of Walking) website.

See you on the road.

Cheers,

Nancy

 

Home Exchange ~ the art of settling in

Where’s the light switch?  I’m not sure.  Here?  No.  This it?  Nope, not that either.  #$#%&*!!

There is an art to settling into the home of a complete stranger.  Something as simple as finding the light switches can take on a whole new meaning if they aren’t the straightforward switches you’re used to, located in the places you would normally expect to find them.  It’s funny at first…and then…not so much.

Actually, it IS fun.  It’s just different.  And it takes at least a day to settle in and make it home.  Sleeping in a stranger’s bed, cooking with their spices and watching their TV.   Hanging your clothes in the closet right next to theirs.  It can all feel a little bit strange and uncomfortable at first.

This week hubs and I are swapping houses with Tom and Dana from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  I’m writing this post in their cozy den looking out on the back garden.  I’ve set up my office here and I’m working, but I have to admit that I am often distracted by the backyard antics.  There are several bird feeders outside the windows and each one is a fly-up restaurant.  Traffic jam on feeder #2 as they push each other out of the way.   Back and forth, each getting their turn somehow.  To my friends who are “birders” – I totally get it now.  I could watch this action for hours. Sydneybirdsatfeeder

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

We’re staying out on the Saanich Penninsula in the middle of farm country and very close to the lovely little harbor town of Sydney.  We came on the car ferry through Victoria.  We spent the first day in Victoria, but were glad to leave the bustle, the traffic and the tourists behind and head out to find our home and explore this beautiful island.

We’re here for a week so we have plenty of time to settle in.  And we are doing just that.  The first evening we had a few moments of frustration.  After we finally figured out how to turn on some of the lights, we poured a glass of wine and sat down to watch TV.  There were five remotes and one Apple TV controller.  They left instructions for us, but we were definitely out of our limited range of ability.  We might have to watch TV all week with close captioning because we could not figure out how to make it go away.  Netflix?  Don’t even go there.

Not for the technology challenged!

Not for the technology challenged!

We needed Geek Squad, so I did the next best thing and emailed Tom for assistance.  He emailed back with just the right info.  And, he also informed me that he saw the second cable we had not yet installed for our DVD player/Apple TV and hooked it up for us.  Yea Tom!  By the next night, we were relaxing on the couch enjoying Diane Sawyer on the news without the aid of close captioning.

Keeping some sort of routine is helpful.   We found the local rec centre and set hubs up for his regular morning workout.  Day pass only $5.50.  I’m trying to stay on my Camino training schedule so I’m walking morning and evening on the steep hills right outside our door.  My glutes will thank me later.

It’s day three and we’re feeling like a couple of locals.  We know where the market is, the wine store, the shortcut into Sydney for my daily Starbucks fix and we’ve walked the Lochside Trail into town.  Hubs cooked up a delicious salmon dinner on the barbeque last night and I’ve re-kindled my childhood love of meat pies, sausage rolls and butter tarts.

BBQ salmon + veggies picked from the garden.  Doesn't get any better.

BBQ salmon + veggies picked from the garden. Doesn’t get any better.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like home…only different.  And once you get used to it, that can be a very good thing.

And the wee bunny who visited this morning was the frosting on the top of this home exchange adventure.

And the wee bunny who visited this morning was the frosting on the top of this home exchange adventure.

I am determined to master the art of photographing birds while I have this opportunity.  It’s a whole new world I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of enjoying if we hadn’t said Yes! when the note came from Dana through HomeExchange.com.

Life is good eh?

Cheers,

Nancy