Category Archives: The Americas

Could You Walk One Thousand Miles?

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.”

— Khaled Hosseini

Do you have a job?
Do you have food in the refrigerator to cook your meals?
Do you have a bed to sleep in?
Do your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren go to school?
Do you have a safe place to hang out in your home?

You are lucky!

Imagine if armed men arrived at your front door, stormed in without permission, drug you outside and shot you in front of your children
Imagine if these men reentered the house and raped your wife and terrorized your children
Imagine if your wife decided to walk one thousand miles to the US border to seek safety for her children
Imagine if the border guard took her children away from her and sent them to separate detention centers
Imagine your children ages five months to fifteen years old alone in cage-like settings with no adult supervision
Imagine children the age of six taking care of children who are between the ages of one to twelve
Imagine your children dying of an illness that was not taken care of while they were in detention camps

Maybe you can’t imagine these scenes. Maybe you block it out of your mind.

You are lucky!

Imagine the US president declares war on Iran
Imagine he requires all men over the age of eighteen to register for the draft
Imagine packing up your life and moving to Canada
Imagine the Canadian border patrol separating your children from you and putting them in detention camps
Imagine your children not being taken care of because you are trying to seek asylum

Maybe you can say this will never happen to you. I was a High School student during the Vietnam War. I knew young men that would go to Canada to escape the draft.

People look for safety, shelter, food, jobs, and educational possibilities for their children.
There are countries that don’t provide these necessities. People are being run out of their towns because of religious differences, lack of employment, regimes of terror, and lack of freedom.

Do you not think that richer countries have the responsibility and empathy to help them out?
Do you call yourself a Christian? What would Jesus do in this situation? He would welcome, feed, and take care of those in need.

Yes, there are bad apples in every group. The US has decided that all of the refugees are bad apples. They have been referred to as an “infestation, animals, rapists, terrorists and more”. A woman arriving at the border with a baby in her arms holding on to the hand of a three-year-old is not a threat to anyone. A man who is carrying a child on his back for one thousand miles and holding the hands of two other children is not a terrorist, rapist or drug dealer.

Children are living alone with other children. They are not being provided with toothbrushes, soap, or blankets. Toothbrushes are considered a luxury by some of those in our government. They don’t take showers or wash their clothes. This is not humane. The US government let this happen. When are they going to fix this problem?

Put these children back with their parents. Oh, I forgot, you didn’t keep track of their parents and now you don’t know where their parents are.

The US government should be ashamed of themselves. Oh sorry, not this government. They have no shame.

Are you angry at how the President is handling this situation?
Do you think these people are criminals and should be punished?
Do you think these people should be given the chance to start a new life in the US?
Do you have a solution to the problem?

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this article. Now you can turn on the TV, read a book, or write a letter to your senator about how you feel.
Maybe you want to forget you ever read this article. Maybe you don’t want to answer the questions posed.

You are in a safe place. Turn off the lights, take a shower, and climb into your cozy bed. You don’t have to worry about the necessities, you have them.

It is our moral responsibility as citizens of the US to provide care for refugees, immigrants, and the poor who live among us.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

— Emma Lazarus

Goodbye Pura Vida

My flight from Costa Rica arrives in Phoenix at 11:00 p.m. An airport shuttle picks me up and takes me to my car. I get into my car and drive home. I am exhausted and at the same time inspired. Exhausted from listening to a child cry for four hours on the plane. Inspired by the Writer’s Retreat I attended for 7 days at Pura Vida.

I approach the front door. I hear a slight whining noise. I insert the key, the latch clicks, and I open the door. Chloe, my cocker spaniel, long ears, short tail, and brown hair pees on the floor. She is so excited. She wiggles her little butt and gives me sweet kisses with her tongue on my cheek. The pet sitters have stayed up to wait for me. Richard helps me carry my bags into the living room. We agree to talk in the morning. I am exhausted. I put on my pajamas, brush my teeth, and lay down on the bed. Chloe jumps on the bed and nestles her head next to mine. She wants to be so close. I pat her head and soon we are both gone into dreamland.

It’s not easy starting a career as a writer. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Social media takes up so much time. I am a member of a Memoir group in my small town. We meet once a month. I need more writing practice. I need to be inspired.

It’s 7:30 a.m. Breakfast is served at Pura Vida. Orange chunks of juicy papaya, slices of sweet pineapple, fresh watermelon carefully sliced and displayed in a straight row. Homemade bread, cinnamon, glutton free bread, wheat, freshly made in the kitchen. Fluffy yellow scrambled eggs from the chickens nearby. Oatmeal, fried bananas, pancakes, homemade jams, and quesadillas. No bacon, sausage, or cereal. A freshly prepared breakfast greeted us every morning. Coffee, herbal teas, fresh water, and fruit are always available during the day.

Granola, cinnamon bread with chocolate chip honey, potatoes with green salsa, papaya, pineapple,

I wake up at 5:30 in Phoenix and I have to find my own breakfast. Where is all the fresh fruit? I look in my freezer and find frozen strawberries, blueberries, and cherries that I bought at Costco. There are oatmeal and some milk. I miss you, Pura Vida.

We are a group of twelve women. Young women with various writing skills. Some of them are writing books others like me just beginning on their writing journey. I am the oldest in the group and our experiences are very different. Women who had bad relationships with men, divorced, in the dating game, and happily married women. I am a widow who was married to a man that I loved and respected.

The retreat is held at a retreat center, Pura Vida. Activities include yoga, massage therapies, excursions outside of the retreat center, swimming, and sitting in the hot tub. Many of the younger women in our group choose to worship the sun at the pool and around the hot tub. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t even bring a suit. The sun has already done enough damage to my skin. Yoga is a popular event for everyone in our group and the other groups that are part of the retreat center. There is a group of twenty yogis who participate in yoga seminars for five of the days we are here.

The first day we meet in one of the yoga rooms. No chairs, we sit on the floor, legs crossed or spread out in front of us. The chairs have no legs. Like the chairs, I sat in for five years in Japan. Everyone is very comfortable with blankets draped over their legs. I am not as agile as the young ones. I am not comfortable. The doors to the room are open bringing in the fresh air. The room has a huge picture window looking out towards the volcano. One day we spot a rainbow. The reading sessions usually begin about 9:00 and last for two hours. Everyone would share the stories they wrote the night before. We make positive comments about the readings.

Excursions outside of the retreat center include a trip to the Wild Life Rescue Center. Paulo was our tour director. He was very knowledgeable about animals and coffee. He not only led this tour but all of the other tours. The Wild Life Rescue Center holds animals that have become instinct. Many of them are the only species left because of illegal hunting and trading. The animals are fed only natural food. The food they would find in the forests if people had not destroyed the forests by farming. He also led us to some waterfalls.

waterfall

The tour of the coffee plantation included the process of drying the “coffee cherries”. Paulo tells us “The best coffee is sent to countries that pay the highest prices. Costa Ricans drink the cheap coffee that other countries don’t want”. He also tells us “The people who live in the US don’t know what good coffee is because we use coffee makers which remove most of the flavor from the beans.” He also enlightens us by telling us that “espresso beans have less caffeine than the mild blends”. He gives his speeches in English with an accent. He has a good sense of humor at times. On the Skywalk tour during a tour of the forest, a white-faced monkey was ready to attack us with a stick. Paulo said, “Come on guys, don’t take any more pictures, the monkey is ready to attack us.”

The writing retreat comes to an end. I am inspired. I am ready to go home and write. Now, I have stories to tell. I really recommend writing retreats to all writers and most of all to those who are just beginning. My next retreat will be in Switzerland in June.

Goodbye Pura Vida

5 Advantages of Traveling After Retiring

There is so much to do after retiring and traveling is one of them.

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
— Miriam Beard

The freedom to travel at any time of the year

Avoid the summer vacations. This is the only time that families can travel because of school breaks. Parents arrange their vacations around their children. Everywhere you go, there are crowds. Travel in October- May. You can find deals that are not available during the peak months of vacation.

More time to do research on your travel destination

You don’t have to go where your kids want to go. No more Disney. Choose the places you want to go. Remember the museums that you really didn’t get to experience because your kids were bored. Use the computer to find places less traveled. Airfares are cheaper during off-peak times. Sign on to a site that will alert you when the airfare is cheaper. There is no hurry. Remember, you are retired.

Research hotels. Don’t stay in chain hotels. They are more expensive and add extra fees. Most chain hotels are privately owned. Not all of them are clean and well kept. I stayed in a Holiday Inn. The fee was $120. The window was cracked, the curtains and carpet were dirty. The breakfast was donuts, coffee, and cereal. The people cleaning the hotel looked like the parents of the front desk clerk. This was a hotel in the USA. Check out the reviews on Booking.com or Trip Advisor. Some hotels let you make cancellations without a penalty of up to three days before you check in.

Don’t stay in American chain hotels in other countries. They are expensive. Help the locals who privately own their hotels. Do your research. You have plenty of time.

More time to just hang out

You can take the time to sit in a cafe and observe the people. There are no children running around and rushing you to finish. Wander around the city, beach, or town. Take pictures, eat ice cream, and smile. There is no rush.

You can eat when you are hungry. Maybe you don’t want to eat dinner at 6:00. Eat at 9:00 or 3:00. Explore the places you couldn’t when you had the kids with you. Maybe you will make a new friend.

Stay longer at your destination

You are not working. You have more than a one week vacation. What’s the rush? Take a trip to the outside of the city. Walk through the forests, up a hill, or just drive around. Look for things that you would not see if you were with your kids. The flowers, clouds, birds, and other animals.

Discounts for seniors

This is the time to take advantage of the fact that we are old. Pull out that discount card whenever possible. Discounts are offered at museums, national parks, supermarkets, and theater. Many restaurants offer senior discounts. Senior discounts are not as popular countries outside of the USA. If it is important for you, check it out before you buy.

I’ve learned that the secret of growing old gracefully is never to lose your enthusiasm for meeting new people and seeing new places.

— Unknown wise person