A Travellerspoint blog

Half Way Point Between Everywhere and Nowhere

by GandA

rain 75 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Today marks six months since we left Oakland. It's hard for me to believe that much time has already passed, yet at the same time, we have seen and done much.
Six months ago we couldn't have imagined we'd spend over two months in Yucatan, Mexico, buy a house in Merida, complete with an awesome community of new friends.
We've been to some great cities, and parks from California to Florida, and have been fortunate to visit friends and family along the way.
Now we are making our way to Boston. Flying to Iceland, and planning a four-month stay in Europe, while starting renovations on the Merida house which the amazing, and talented Maria Elena will be managing in our absence.

This is George chiming in: Has it been 6 months already? It will be difficult to sum up the experience but here goes..

There is incredible beauty on this planet. From the million year old stalagmites and stalactites lying a mile deep in a huge cavern to the towering rock formations in Monument Valley. Beautiful sunsets from the western edges of the Yucatan, Mexico to Savannah, Georgia, to the magnificent sunrises from Arizona to the Caribbean Sea. The feeling of sand beneath your feet as you stroll beside a large body of water to the feeling of silky, cool cenote water wrapping your body. The natural world is full of wonders and beauty that come with no price tag and is readily around us if we just take a moment to stop and look. However, I would now say that the most indelible memories thus far are the feelings associated with re-connecting and connecting with beautiful people. The most luminous visions in my mind now are the ones where I've greeted, hugged and kissed old and new friends throughout these travels. There is something precious about the honest extended hand shake or the warm embrace saying "hello" or "See you later". I more readily smile and try to strike up a conversation with strangers now. And when they don't respond in kind or they frown or are silent I don't get disappointed. I just think they are unhappy at the moment and I just move on to some other positive thought.

I am glad and honored that we have remained healthy and safe throughout this journey and can only thank the unseen powers that look out for us on the roads, in the air and on the water.
I am grateful that technology is so readily available in my hand that allows me to reserve rooms, airline tickets etc. with a single, immediate touch.
I am gratified to see how my wife blooms from time to time turning from her old way of thinking to becoming a more thoughtful person aware of her surroundings, the changing landscape and the new, unknown possibilities that exist with each new day.

Spring is here and we are soon off to Europe to greet old friends and make new friends. (Normally I would have put the word 'perhaps' between the words 'and' and 'make' in that sentence but I guess I've become more confident in making a truthful statement! lol

Today, like nearly all other days the past 6 months, holds much unknowns. We will see new, different things today. Discover some new historical detail about this place and eat/drink at the 'Who Knows Where' Restaurant/Diner/Cafe.
But let us take this time now to thank all of you who have helped us get to this point. To our families and friends (new and old) we thank you for guiding us, emboldening us, advising us, recommending to us, opening your homes to us, thinking of us, feeding us, looking out for us, and loving us. Without that, this trip would be not as memorable.

Posted by woa 17:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

True or False?

by GandA

View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.


"You need to have a return ticket already purchased at the time you are boarding a flight to Mexico, from the U.S." True or False?

As we handed our boarding passes to the agent, he asked, "When is your return flight?" We answered, "We have not booked the return yet. We plan to be in Mexico for about a week as we are buying a property, but do not know exactly what day we will fly back." He pulled us aside and proceeded to explain how in his ten years with the airline, you cannot fly to Mexico without a return flight, the airline can get fined, and he could lose his job. He gave an example of how he was detained going to Australia without an exit ticket. (Really?) So George tells the guy we have done this before, and that that may be his experience involving another country, but not ours when going to Mexico. So, the other Jet Blue agent starts paging for a manager to come talk to us, while everyone else continued boarding.

Finally an authority figure shows up and asks, "Where are they flying?.... Cancun?.... That's fine you don't need a return ticket for Mexico." He apologized and said he'd send an email so the staff would know all this. Great, but we were still pissed about this unnecessary and stressful delay. We did make the flight, but do not plan to use Jet Blue again anytime soon.

This scenario is one of the main things that can make travel difficult. Not all countries treat visitors in the same way. Some are easy-going, others more strict about showing that you are returning or moving on. It takes quite a bit of research to understand how long you can stay somewhere and what are their entry and exit requirements. You would expect the people who work for airlines to know the differences but the truth is that many of them do not....

So a visit to our American consulate might be a good idea. It turns out that the consulate did not have the information we needed, nor do they roll out any red carpet to a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. So we went to the Dept. of Immigration office where we got our answer.

According to a supervisor, the official rule is that American's CAN purchase a one-way ticket into Mexico. You are usually given a 180-day Tourist Visa (important document-keep it safe), and you can schedule your flight out of Mexico during your stay.

Posted by woa 12:12 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Food on the Road

by Andrea


During the U.S. road trip portion of our travels, one afternoon we picked up sandwiches at Subway. Neither of us had been to a Subway in years, now we remember why. My turkey sandwich was tolerable but I did not like my choice of the honey-oat bread. I have often had better sandwiches at deli counters in a market. Another time we stopped for coffee at a 'Service Stop' Dunkin Donuts. The cup of dark roast I ordered was barely warm, and I made the mistake of ordering it with their prepared cream and sugar, instead of adding it myself. (Aint gonna be dunkin any donuts anytime soon, and we may be taking subways, but not eating at any.)

On the flip-side, sometimes we discover new places, like 'Spotters' in downtown Baton Rouge (which we already mentioned in an earlier post) with healthy, local menu's and reasonable prices.

I'm continually trying to make healthy food choices most of the time, without a kitchen of my own. When we stay somewhere for a few days, or a week, we'll go to a market and pick up items such as; cereal, rice milk, fruit, yogurt, prepared salads or wraps, wine, and sometimes sushi. When we have a kitchenette available, I make my own salads. I did buy a bag of SunChips® in Florida which I had never tried until Adam shared them with us. (Chips are my weakness.)

A few ideas I tried that came out good, were:

  • spreading avocado on a bagel
  • I topped a waffle from the Waffle House (take-out) with plain yogurt and strawberries
  • if we have a blender, we make smoothies with frozen fruit, yogurt, and rice milk
  • sometimes I buy a jar of peanut butter and spread it on apple slices, celery, bread, or a rice cake (I love peanut butter)
  • I always try to keep a bag of trail mix handy as it has proven to take the edge off hunger.

Thanks for reading, and I welcome you to comment any good healthy-eating-while-traveling tips you may have.

Posted by woa 12:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sunshine State

by Andrea

overcast 80 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Driving through Florida, the clouds here remind me of the clouds I've seen in Emil Nolde's expressionist paintings.
We stayed one night in the capitol city of Tallahassee, and one night in Orlando.
Then we drove to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Florida to see our pal Adam.

Adam showed us around the beach and around downtown Hollywood which has many varieties of restaurants, and shops and a cool art space named The Art & Music Development Studio, and we had a nice dinner on the waterfront.

We went to South Beach Miami, where George almost moved in 2001! It's a nice clean beach, crowded with young bikini bodies, and pretty blue water. There is a nice walking path, art deco buildings from the 1930's, restaurants... The only complaint we have is that the traffic is terrible.

We walked around Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale which has lots of shops and restaurants. We went to The NSU Art Museum and saw an exhibit on Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modern Art.large_Ft_Laud_NSU_art_museum.jpg

We walked around the Old Fort Lauderdale Village area which has a nice walking area. We even found a park with built in exercise equipment similar to what we used in Merida, Mexico!


We had lunch and a fabulous visit with my relatives Ira & Sharon

South Florida is nice and has beautiful beaches, but it is expensive. Turns out it was cheaper for us to fly back to Cancun than staying here, so that's what we are doing. We plan to finalize things on our Mérida casa, and see our new friends again. Then we return to (hopefully) better weather so we can continue the road trip up the East Coast to catch our flight to ICELAND!!!!

Posted by woa 17:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

This Side of Paradise

George Reporting...

sunny 80 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

As my half-opened eyes blinked away the dust of the morning, I notice Andrea is up rushing
around rather busily. She sees me stretch my yawning arms and says, "Hurry up! We're going to be late!"
"Late for what?", I said. "Late for the beach!", she blurted stuffing a towel in her bag.
"Late for the beach??", I said with astonishment. "Late for the....BEACH??"
I suddenly had to wonder when did beach culture become such a big part of people's lives?

According to what I found on the Internet, "toga-wrapped emperors built summer residence on Italy's
Amalfi coast in the First Century A.D. for Imperial indulgence and amusement."

The Mayans built a palace overlooking the Caribbean ocean nearly a thousand years ago in what
is now known as Tulum. The beach there is wonderful and the water warm and calm.
In 1884 "The first roller coaster in the U.S. is erected on Coney Island,
establishing the future home of funnel cakes and hot dog–eating contests.
This early seaside vacation spot sees the arrival of upscale hotels on Brighton Beach
(not to mention the louche side of boardwalk life: prostitutes and con artists)."
The 20th Century saw the invention of the swimsuit and bikini and later, the movies and air travel
brought the glamour of the beach to millions of people worldwide culminating in the surf and
beach explosion of the 1950's and 60's.

We both grew up in California listening to the Beach Boys and watching Frankie and Annette
'Beach Blanket' movies.

The movies were terribly hokey and inane but the music was poetic and whimsical and probably was
a big factor in my desire to attend college in the beach and surf city of San Diego, California.

Andrea grew up in Huntington beach and went there regular to meet friends.

Beach culture was actually a large part of our lives when we were younger and really didn't think
that was unusual but, historically, it really was a new thing.
At some point you grow up and 'going to the beach' seemed more like a sign of laziness and showed
that you had a lack of ambition. So we both ended up living in coastal cities where going to
the beach wasn't a regular thing. Still, there were many times when I needed to go feel the
sand under my feet and stare at the big Pacific ocean trying to figure out some problem in life.

I suppose the biggest difference between going to the beach when we were younger and going now
is how much more capitalism there is on the beach. Most beaches here in the Quintana Roo state
are public but nearly every mile of it is packed with available beach chairs that can be rented
along with bars and a multitude of excursions that help you enjoy the beach even more. In most
cases, an entire towns' economy is based on beachgoer's dollars.

There's that' not-really-doing-anything boredom' that creeps in after about two or three hours.
Fish tacos and flip-flops aren't saving the world and I begin to feel a little guilty about
all the time spent in the water while others suffer mightily in some not too far away town. Captain Kirk, from the episode 'This Side of Paradise' reminds us that" man needs to struggle, to scratch and crawl through life". Yes we have to strive for something beyond ourselves or risk stagnation.

The beach is very nice but should only be taken in small doses.

Posted by woa 16:50 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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