BootsnAll Travel Network

Finding The Heart Of Each Day

Before I began backpacking for 4 years in 2002, after retirement as a lobbyist, administrator and educator, and with my three boys grown and out of the house, a friend asked me to “report back to those at home what travel reveals about the human heart and what we have become in this world. To look beneath the surface of things to the heart of each day. Does hope exist? Are people still falling in love? Is everyone buying death as if it were cheap socks at a smoke sale?" I take this on. I look for clarity. I look for signs of courage…of strength of conviction rooted in heart…in an authentic identity, in myself as well as in others. I look for cheap socks…and death for sale. Regardless of their circumstances, I have found all this and people loving their friends and families. And laughing. Since 2006 I have been a foreigner living in Oaxaca Mexico...again finding both sorrow and joy. This blog is intending to keep family and friends apprised of my whereabouts, goings-on, world-watchings and idle thoughts. Anyone else who finds their way here is welcome to leave comments. Click on the thumbnail photos to enlarge them.


June 28th, 2016

My New T-Shirt

The inverse reality of anarchy is that we must continually question ourselves as well as authority. The strongest survival instinct is self deception because the illusion of our identity depends on it. What we believe about ourselves does not necessarily reflect who we are. So beliefs can be a prison. It isn’t always comfortable to look ourselves in the eye. But this is where ethical behavior originates. Not from authority telling us how to behave.

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An Expat’s View Of The Struggle In Oaxaca

June 27th, 2016

The government has (since the 1968 slaughter of students in Mexico City) hired “students” who sign up for university but don’t go to school to infiltrate and instigate trouble in order to turn the populace against theteachers. They are called “porros” and they do most of the damage like molotov cocktails, slingshots, burning of cars and buses and graffiti. That’s not to say that some more radical teachers don’t participate in that stuff but I don’t think most of the teachers do.

I know the union is really corrupt and they coerce the teachers and their relatives and friends to march aided by the more radical teachers. Parents are suppose to get a pkg of goods (forgot what it’s called in Spanish) regularly as long as they participate in anti govt activities.  The teachers have to sign off on it. But if the parent isn’t participating the teacher won’t sign off.

That’s not to say of course that most of the teachers and parents don’t support the strikes. Also when the Union was handling the salaries teachers wouldn’t get paid if they didn’t participate in strike activities.  Now the Govt has taken over the administration of Section 22 of the Union and is handing out salaries.

The governor here in Oaxaca has tried to clean out the union. Months ago they confiscated computers, and several brand new pickups belonging to the Section 22 Union. Recently they arrested 2 of the leaders…one for embezzlement and the other for stealing textbooks.  The textbooks were taken by Sec 22 because they were supposed to go a rival union section, section 59.  Section 59 was started by a couple hundred teachers who objected to Sec 22. But that wasn’t reported.  I think I read that that guy was released on bail.

Then there are practices that people object to. Like teachers can sell their certificates to someone else or hand them down to family members. Sometimes these people aren’t even educated beyond the 3rd grade.

On the Expats in Oaxaca FB group an American woman who is married to a Mexican, and who lives in a small village in the mountains (didn’t say which village) and has 3 children in a school there posted this:
“The Reforma Educativa, has various issues, essentially, it is an ADMINISTRATIVE reform, in regarding job conditions for school teachers and fails to talk about curriculum or anything at all that happens in the classrooms.. Public primary school teachers are not well paid, but have always had a very generous benefits package to make up for it, which includes many things most foreigners, myself included, would find ridiculous, like the right to leave your position to one of your children or sell it when you retire. (That was based on the idea that if you were a business owner you’d do the same, so to make teaching an attractive career in earlier times they included some sort of building up capital for your children into it) So this reform basically makes teachers like temp contract workers, who can be fired at anytime are no longer building up seniority and yes, one of the conditions is all the teachers will be forced to pass an exam in order to keep their positions. There is a ton of mis information flying around on either side. There is a ton of corruption in the teachers union leadership, so neither side is innocent. But the vast majority of public primary school in the state would make you cry when you walk in, I know they make me cry, even some that are considered among the best.”

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“The Battle Has Just Started!” Gustavo Esteva

June 23rd, 2016

“The Battle Has Just Started”: Activists Denounce Police Killings & Crackdowns on Teachers in Oaxaca | Democracy Now!.

There are 21 blockades all of the state’s eight regions and they have cut off the movement of goods from Mexico City and the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas and Guerrero. Transport trucks and buses have been denied passage and in some cases, such as Nochixtlán, where violence at a blockade took up to 12 lives on Sunday, passenger cars were being allowed to pass but only after an inspection.

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Why Oaxaca Teachers Are Striking Again

June 23rd, 2016

Information has been updated with 12 dead, 27 detained, at least 7 disappeared, 100 injured

Laura Carlson of the Center for International Policy says that Oaxacan teachers are protesting not only teacher evaluations, but also the entirety of neoliberal reform under Pena Nieto.

For the last 40 years the teachers and other segments of society in Oaxaca have been rising up against the neoliberal economic model of privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.

They are rising against President Pena Nieto who is trying to impose an economic model, which in the U.S., begun by the failed trickle-down theory of President Reagan, resulted in the rise of the financial oligarchy and financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Occupy Movement, and in much of the rest of the industrialized world resulting in the anti-austerity movements there.

Laura explains:

Police Crackdown on Oaxaca Teacher’s Strike.

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June 23rd, 2016

OAXACA EN GUERRA OAXACA, Oax. 19 de junio de 2016. – YouTube.

Teachers have been striking in Oaxaca for the last 34 years. This year. so far, 21 barricades have been set up by the teachers in all of the state’s eight regions and have cut off the movement of goods from Mexico City and the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas and Guerrero. Transport trucks and buses have been denied passage. Passenger cars were being allowed to pass but only after an inspection.

Police, in trying to remove the barricade at Notchitlan, killed 12 people on Sunday June 19.

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Thoughts Upon Turning 72

June 3rd, 2016

After retirement in 2002 I traveled 4 years nonstop and then just wanted to stay put in one place where I could make some good friends and really dig into one culture other than the one I was born in…the U.S.

I have lived in Oaxaca nearly 10 years but going back and forth to Thailand and Hong Kong where 2 of my sons live about once a year or so. I am still torn much of the time.

When I am in the states I just want OUT!

If I am in Mexico too long I start thinking “what am I doing here?” But now that I have a back problem I’m leery of long haul flights. But the thought of living in Mexico for the rest of my life without going anywhere else is terrifying and I get the feeling my life is nearly over. I guess it comes to that no matter where you live. My couchsurfers are saving my life. They bring the world to me.

When I am in Mexico too long, I miss Thailand and can’t wait to get back! When I am in Thailand with my friends there I feel like I am at “home.” I get tired of Mexican food and taking care of my apartment in Mexico but two weeks after I get to Thailand I want a hand made corn tortilla. And coming back to Oaxaca is coming back “home” too!

Then I miss my friends in both places! Only friends who live where you do really understand what it is like to live there. I have an entirely different relationship with the locals most of whom in either place have never even traveled.

Then I want to discover other places. Took a RTW about 3 years ago (which is actually much cheaper than a RT) from:

MX>Oregon>HK>BKK (4months)>OMAN (1 week)>Turkey (1 month)>NYC>Oregon>MX. It was tiring but exhilarating and I felt so alive!

A friend says: “Starting to feel the finality of all my endeavours at my age, I am really torn sometimes! Sentimental journeys or following curiosity?” She is lucky to live somewhere where it is not so expensive and so far to get to somewhere else.

We must keep going…elegantly surfing the tenuous space between lobotomized serenity and recklessness. It probably doesn’t matter much what we do. We take ourselves with us wherever we go.



May 15th, 2016

Bob took a cruise last month and Nagasaki was one of the stops. He sent me this:

“Enclosed a few pics from Nagasaki..

They were taken at the site of the A bomb explosion which is now a peace park and museum.  The sculptures(about 50) were sent by various cities/countries to Nagasaki in commemoration.  The photo of the young boy transporting his brother is in the museum.  It was taken 2-3 days after the explosion by an American news photographer at a public, recently erected crematorium where the Japanese boy was depositing his dead brother.  Horribly powerful.

Curious that I was self-conscientiously uncomfortable and embarrassed at the war museum in Saigon but in Nagasaki I did not feel the guilt.  In the museum there was a chronology of events. An interesting entry Dec. 1941 “Japan enters the war in the Pacific” (no mention that it was Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor).  Toward the end of chronologic museum tour it was noted that the bomb was probably unnecessary as Japan was near defeat (but without the bombs it probably would have necessitated an American invasion of Japan proper).  USA was also called to task for not issuing a warning.  Nagasaki was the secondary target that day – the prime target was fogged in (a city I did not recognize).  Also unfortunate that Nagasaki, at the time of the bombing, was primarily women and children – the men were off fighting.

It is scary that the Japanese people could have been led to such a fury of imperialism, blind devotion to the emperor and interpersonal cruelty (comfort women of Korea and China) the treatment of prisoners-of-war. (if you have not seen “Railway Man” check it out).  Very unlike my experience (brief) with the Japanese people.  I found them to be polite, respectful, well-mannered and genteel.  In Tokyo busy but in the smaller southern cities I was frequently stopped and engaged.  A small sample size granted but I was impressed.  But scary how a population can be enticed & subjected to demagoguery (American Trumpism?, or perhaps worse, American bible-thumping Cruzism?).  Emotionalism trumping rationality.”

My response:


Nice piece.

I was interested in which countries/cities sent which sculptures.

I liked the Tree of Life done by aboriginals in Australia.  

The second I saw the big muscular peace statue, before I read an explanation, I was embarrassed to think of the U.S.  Japanese people don’t look like that.


Your experience of Japanese people vs. what their government was once capable of. And what it has learned.

My experience of American people vs what our government is capable of. (eg. drones and torture) And what it has not learned.


‘But scary how a population can be enticed & subjected to demagoguery (American Trumpism?, or perhaps worse, American bible-thumping Cruzism?).  Emotionalism trumping rationality.’


But we don’t know history so how can we learn from it.


Coincidence In Bangkok!

December 25th, 2015

I love coincidences!

A couple days ago I was walking on the flyway across Ratchipidisek Rd in Bangkok when I happened to look down to the street far below. I was sure I saw one of my favorite Couchsurfers who I hosted several years ago in Oaxaca while he was bicycling from the U.S. to Venezuela…pulling his little wagon with his sax behind him. From Boston, he has been living in Hanoi where he developed a music program for country children. I have been following him on FB so I came back to my hotel and messaged him. Sure enough! I got the best hug! And company for lunch and the Star Wars movie! The best Christmas present ever!

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November 2015 Bangkok

December 5th, 2015

Bob Goetz and I

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Hong Kong and Thailand 2015-16

November 22nd, 2015

It’s been two and a half months since I left Oaxaca on Oct 3. The time is slipping by without me even noticing it.

Flew into Las Vegas first to spend some time with Greg and a return visit to a spinal surgeon who gave me some injections in my back.

Greg was really cute taking care of me. Bought more food than we could possibly eat…fruit and sweet corn I missed in Oaxaca. He prepared my snack corner by the toaster and coffee pot. So nice when your children love you. And of course we went out to eat a lot. Probably gained 5 pounds which I will now lose in Asia.

Hong Kong was a treat spending 10 days with Josh and Polly to whom Josh has just gotten engaged.

Had morning Dum Sum. And Josh took me up to the American Club restaurants on the top floor of the Stock Exchange Building where he is the Executive Chef.

Because there are no parks in Hong Kong Central, on Sundays, migrant working families congregate on cardboard on newly renovated shopping “mall” sidewalks in Soho.

Flew to Bangkok November 10 where I’ll be for two months to hang out, see some friends and get a cap on an implant I had during my last visit to Bangkok. I’m staying at the VX50 Guesthouse at the On Nut BTS stop for a month. But developed excruciating pain in my right leg after sleeping on the very hard bed at the Guesthouse. Visits to Bumrungrad Hospital ensued.

When I arrived it was still ungodly hot for November but now, after a couple weeks, it’s tolerable. Couldn’t live here year round.

Made some new friends, Paul and Robert, while sitting in front of the Parrot Cafe on Suk 22. Robert calls the regular expats Parrot Heads! Me and two couples, American expats with Thai partners, were headed for the French Consulate to hear some Indian Devotional music when we discovered the event was actually at a lake. So too late for the event, it was Sushi instead.

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Las Vegas Again & Great Salt Lake

October 3rd, 2015

October 3, 2015
Flew to Las Vegas from Oaxaca early on my way back to Asia. Had an MRI and injections with a spinal surgeon that works with Greg. They really rolled out the red carpet for me and I asked Greg to buy lunch for the entire staff.

MRI not good. Cortisone injections to little effect. But hey, I’m not in a wheelchair!

Flew out to Salem on Oct 27 after spending a 5 day hiatus in Salt Lake City visiting a couchsurfing friend to give Greg a break. He was house sitting in Deer Valley which brought back memories of the family ski trip there when the kids were young.


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An Expat Joke

July 15th, 2015

One night, David Ben Gurion dreams that he is dead. God says “you’re David Ben Gurion! What can I do for you?”

And Ben Gurion says “Show me heaven” and it’s very dull. People standing on clouds, meditating, nothing going on. So then he says “OK, show me hell”. And it’s great! Interesting conversations, great food, music, everything!.

So, a few years later he actually does die and, just like in the dream, God asks what he can do for Ben Gurion.

“I’ll take hell.”

“You’re sure?”

It’s horrible! Horrendously hot, endless work, no water, no food…. awful. So he goes to complain

“I saw this in a dream and it was wonderful! What’s going on?”
and God says

“Then you were a tourist. Now, you live here”.

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My Problem With Facebook

July 11th, 2015

I like to keep in touch. Connection

I hate small talk.
I wanna talk about atoms,
death, aliens, sex, magic, intellect,
the meaning of life, faraway galaxies,
the lies you’ve told, your flaws, your
favorite scents, your childhood, what keeps
you up at night, your security and
fears…I like people with depth,
who speak with emotion from
A twisted mind.

Sometimes it happens!



June 4th, 2015

Having spent three months in Oregon and Las Vegas, I have become so much more aware of the cultural differences between the north American first world and Mexico.

The first Americans were independent and forward looking. They were looking to expand and were aggressive. Their primary value is freedom and personal space. Mexicans on the other hand were subjugated for hundreds of years by the Spanish. Their primary value is respect.

Whenever a person enters the space of a Mexican individual, for example getting into a taxi, unless you greet them they will feel you are rude. Instead of just jumping in and issuing an order you say “Buenas Tardes, Senor.”

While in a restaurant, any time you pass by a table you say “Buen Provecho.” Any time you want to walk through or pass by people you say “Con Permiso.” Needing a waiter to come to your table you call “Joven!” (Young man) or Senorita (young woman.)

The smiles you get are warm and welcoming. It’s a lovely way to live.

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Las Vegas On The Way To Oaxaca

June 4th, 2015

June 4, 2015
Really enjoying Greg in Las Vegas. Weather warm but perfect for me.

Greg took me to a concert with Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) on May 28. Love his new group. But it was at a stand only venue and it nearly killed me. We had to leave early.

OMG, the strip is the best people watching in the world!

Greg’s best friends (both single like Greg) drove out from LA to spend the weekend with Greg and I. OMG, intense conversations! Wore me out! But I ate it all up. Mostly about male/female relationships, sex and politics. Ha!

Greg is throwing one of his bash’s on Sunday. About 20 people for dinner. He cooks. Has a friend that is a sommelier helping him. He dropped off two cases of wine yesterday. Greg has become quite the wine connoisseur. (Had to look up that spelling)

Angelo, the sommelier has a fusion restaurant that we went to last night. Foie Gras and escargot for appetizers and a wonderful tenderloin that Greg and I shared. Greg spends money on me like water. Makes me nervous but I don’t say anything. It’s his life. Am looking forward to talking with Angelo at the party. His ancestry is French, Italian and Mexican and he grew up in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Had a pedicure yesterday by some lovely Vietnamese women. Where did you live, I asked. Hue she said. You know Hue? She was surprised when I said yes. Then I had my hair tinted.

So guess I’m ready to take on Oaxaca again.

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Salem Coffee House Easter

April 5th, 2015

Three weeks has turned into three months in Oregon. Rain alternating with sun and hail. That’s the NW.

The CT scan, what I came up here for, showed esophageal varicies but the endoscopy didn’t. Hmmm. So more medical follow up.

Old renter moving out April 11 and I get to move into my house! Being in that little trailer at the farm with my son is getting crowded. New renter moves in May 14. Will sort and sell and give away most of my shit. Got a storage unit for stuff I can’t part with…yet. In the meantime I am coordinating contractors for yard work, roof repair, painting of the house etc. etc. before it falls down. I might need it someday.

So I’m in my little funky but cozy coffee shop with wifi where I go to every morning. Same people, sitting in the same seats…a group of about 8 retired guys sitting together for half the day and sometimes longer. They peruse the newspapers and comment. Seems like we live here. They ignore me. Curious and unusual. I wonder where the wives are. I think they think they are in a man cave. I think they are!


Outside on the sidewalk is a reader board says “Because You Can Never Find A Starbucks When You Need One.” There are two Starbucks around the corner in the same block where the shop lets the homeless hang out to keep warm…occasionally coffee in hand. Having lived here for 35 years and having been the manager of a homeless program at a two- county nonprofit, I’ve never seen so many panhandlers on downtown streets. But I only give cigarettes to the mentally ill ones who are obviously off their meds…hoping it will be soothing to them.

In the meantime reverse culture shock is hitting me in the face again. You would think I would be beyond this by now.

I keep running into first world rules and regs! Got a $20 ticket for parking less than a foot over the white line. But that’s nothing compared to the hijacking of my car in a hospital parking structure because by law you can’t drive for 12 hours after anesthesia and I had to get a hotel room just because my 12 hours were up at 7:30pm but couldn’t get the parking ticket validated because the office closed at 5! F+++++g police state! Slap me silly if I complain about Mexico again!

And last year I got a $200 ticket for turning right when a pedestrian still had 2 steps to get out of the cross walk on the other side!

A traveling friend describes it as an “invisible barrier that sometimes leads to invisible, but sometimes even open conflict.” Yep! Coming or going. Culture shock is always worst for me coming back…not going. It’s just that I really notice these things more when I return because they feel so personally restrictive. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get off the plane in Mexico or SE Asia. I thought by now I’d be beyond all this! NOT!

And another thing! I’m done with hearing “how was your day” and “have a great day” 50 times a day! Does NOT put me in a good mood! And I’m done with cold and rain. Think it’s time to go home.

I do love the NW and of course that’s the thing about culture shock. You are in one place and want to be in the other too.

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Travel Is A Drug

April 5th, 2015

The traveler’s high. You’ve no doubt felt it, upon disembarking in a realm where all is unfamiliar. Travel is a drug. It reboots reality, tweaks the senses, and becomes addictive.

I crave total autonomy, and shy away from responsibility and attachment. Every morning I arise I still breath a sigh of relief that I don’t have to be anywhere…no meetings, no phone calls…except catching that bus or train or plane. I still hate the phone. And my hand goes to sleep.

Since retirement, I like to be alone…to travel alone…free to serendipitously connect on the deepest levels in the moment. No assumptions made. No mindless chatter. No history of each other to color the here and now. No one trying to grease my purchase of a donut with “how is your day going!”

Being an expat is a luxury. No one expects you to adhere to local customs and expectations. You are released from and are free of the social expectations of the country you came from. This is as free as anyone could ever expect to be and still live in the world.

But expatriate urges aren’t just about yearning to be unencumbered, or a distaste for any particular culture, or even the lure of a particular place’s attractions.

What we expats crave, at heart, is the exhilarating thrill of foreignness. We take delight in molding ourselves as a square peg in a round country. In forever being the outsider with the ability to constantly transcend and recreate the self…indeed to come to know the self.

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March 2015 Sun at the Oregon Farm

March 13th, 2015
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Rewriting Marilyn Monroe

March 12th, 2015

Only parts of us will ever
touch only parts of others.

One’s own truth is just that really —
One’s own truth.

We can only share
The part that is understood –
Acceptable to the other —

Therefore one is for the most part

As it is meant to be
Evidently-in nature.

At best though
Perhaps it could make
Our understanding seek
Another’s loneliness out.


Spirit Prayer

March 10th, 2015

It was an amazing experience.

I was in my familiar Governor’s Cup coffee shop in Salem Oregon talking with my friend when I told her I didn’t know what to do with all the Indian rocks my father inadvertently dug up while tilling the soil on his sheep ranch in Klamath County. She pointed to a guy with a long pony tail and said, why don’t you talk to him. He happened to be a Native American with a doctorate in anthropology. So he contacted someone with the Klamath Tribe. It just happened that people with the Tribe were coming to Salem for a Tribal meeting a few days after David picked up the rocks. So he transferred them to the Tribal members.

The reason so many of them were broken, he said, was that when someone was buried they broke up their household bowls and pestles and buried them along with the body. So the Tribe is going to rebury them on Tribal land. David asked me to write a prayer to the Spirits and to cleanse the house with a sage smudge.

    Prayer To The Spirits

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Nearing The End of Insanity

March 4th, 2015

I have been renting the house out in Salem Oregon ever since I retired in 2002. After traveling for 5 years I settled as an expat in Oaxaca in 2006. I return to Salem about once a year for regular medical checkups and follow up.

This February, while I was there, the renter, after 5 years, decided to move. All of a sudden 3 weeks turned into 3 months. So I took the opportunity, between renters to clean the house out of 40 years of s**t that had been stored in the basement.That was the beginning of insanity. Each item required a mental and emotional decision…get rid of it, save it or sell it. Then packing it all in boxes…taping, carrying, shoving…a pickup load at a time to go to a storage unit or Goodwill.
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Parting With Stuff In Oregon

March 4th, 2015

Darn, saw where the teachers, on strike, closed the airport in Oaxaca. But I suppose nothing lasts very long. I fly in next wednesday. Things should quiet down a bit after the elections Sunday. Now, of course, with the bloqueos and Pemex gas stations being closed I won’t be driving much…if they keep this up.

The medical follow ups turned out better than I expected so guess I’m not going to die pronto.

It was really harrowing in Salem…trying to get everything sorted and out of the house before the new tenants moved in. And contract for roof repair, fireplace repair and house painting and buying a new stove, repairing kitchen sink faucet, sending towel warmer off to be repaired etc. etc.

I sold some stuff on Craigslist, took a half dozen pickup loads of stuff to Goodwill, gave some stuff away and still filled up the storage unit. Filled up an entire large recycling can with Greg and Josh’s college notes. All while carting Doug around town. He is preparing his “babies” for planting in the greenhouse. Rules on the new legalization supposed to come out by July 1. I stayed with him in his little trailer and saved a couple thousand dollars on hotel. But he was really crabby with me in it invading his “space.” Glad to be out of there.

Some stuff I couldn’t bare to part with…children’s books, my books, all the artifacts we had collected traveling. And of course kept household stuff I’d need if I moved back to Salem in case of health. Bob said get rid of everything of his. Just don’t tell him what it was or he would say “oh no not that!” Ha! The new tenants are lovely. Professional photographers, middle age, no children and they fell in love with the house.

It was weird to realize I was sorting with the assumption I was going to come back. But the thought came to me…I am 70. I was sorting with the assumption of course is that I have years ahead of me…

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January 27th, 2015

Oscar Tanat is the brother of a friend of mine. And you thought Oaxaca was a picturesque little village with simple people! Ha!

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Mexicans and Americans

January 24th, 2015


A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and… asked how long it took to catch them.

“Not very long” they answered in unison.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.
We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!!! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there!

Found on Facebook

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Doug In Chiang Mai Thailand

January 23rd, 2015

Doug said he leaned over to take a photo and she jumped up and wrapped her arms around him.

He’s been in Chiang Mai and border towns since November and now embarking on a fishing trip from Koh Samui. So out of reach for the next 6 days.

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Greg Goes Heli-Skiing Again

January 5th, 2015

This is Greg’s 5th year heli-skiing. This time I only heard from him once and then nothing. “Talk to me!” I messaged him. “You are not supposed to die before me!” That got a response!

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The Ayotzinapa 43

December 3rd, 2014

43 empty seats

43 Normalista (education) students have “disappeared” in Guerrero by narco gangs presumably with the knowledge of the government. Mexico is on fire and is calling for the the President to step down which of course would do no good because the impunity of Mexico is endemic.

Monday the teachers closed down the airport in Oaxaca.

Update Jan 24, 2015: According to my friends, the Zocalo is calm. Blockades daily all around Oaxaca.

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I’m In My Glory

November 24th, 2014

This past week, Ivan, my temporary Italian roomie, who has been living in Oaxaca many years but split with his girlfriend and lost his apartment cooked Pasta Bolognaise for me, Angie and her mom. Angie is the sister of Lumina, my friend who stayed with me for two weeks, with her British boyfriend, a couple years ago on their way back to Ohio to get married. They live now in the UK.

Then the next night this party wasn’t planned. It was a serendipity coming together at the last minute…all at the same time.

Bala, a biochem research scientist, from India but living in the UK and cycling from Alaska to Patagonia, came to me through Warm Showers, a hospitality web site for bicyclers similar to Couchsurfing.

Anita is a couchsurfer from Italy looking for a course in midwifery. Together with Ivan, these two Italians were a riot. My god, if I only had half the energy of these young people!

Sharon is a retired expat friend here in Oaxaca and enjoyed schooling Bala on the history of resistance in Oaxaca and answering his many questions. Sharon and I met on the plane in June 2006 when both of us were coming here to live.

Ksenia is Russian, (playing chess with Ivan) also coming to me through couchsurfing, was born in polar Siberia but has lived and traveled all over the world. She is one bright, funny, aware powerful woman! Loves Pussy Riot and confirmed all my suspicious about Russia today. But Ksenia, who studied chess (chess is taught in Russian schools) from the time she was a young girl, lost 6 chess games in a row to my Italian roomie who has never read a book on chess! She took it with great good humor!

The conversations ranged from geopolitics and economics to mind expansion with the help of 6 bottles of wine and a little herb! All with the requisite laughing and good humor…even the debates.

Then if that weren’t enough to warm my heart, Bala, cooked basmati rice and two curry dishes…for 7 people again the next night! OMG, what a treat!

Took Bala yesterday to the Tlacalula Sunday Market and found some borego (lamb.) Bala will cook lamb curry and fish curry again for tonight.

I have hope for the world.

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Funny Little Conversation

November 18th, 2014

My middle son is visiting his older brother in Las Vegas for a few days before he takes off for Thailand again. The middle one, Doug, called me.

Me: Are you guys staying out of jail?

Doug: Attempting to explain why he wouldn’t go to jail…

Me: No I wasn’t worried about you! I was worried about Greg!

Doug: Oh, because you are afraid he will be the Commander of the Revolution?

Me: You got it!

Greg in the background: Oh, thanks, Mom!

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October 20th, 2014

In my introduction to this blog about 15 years ago, I said I was looking for clarity. looking for signs of courage…of strength of conviction rooted in heart…in an authentic identity, in myself as well as in others.

Courage comes from the Latin word Coeur, which means heart. Courage means to tell the story of who you really are with your whole heart. It is the courage to be imperfect.” ~ Brene Brown.

After living for 70 years and nearly 15 years of travel and living as an expat in Mexico for 8 years…have I been telling myself the truth?


Fight Club…A Conversation With My Son

October 9th, 2014

After a weird dinner at a remote roadside Vietnamese/Thai/Chinese restaurant a few miles outside Oaxaca City the other day, I received a black (black?) fortune cookie with the fortune written in Spanish. “You always know your heart through your words.” Well, I’ll see what writing my words here reveal to me about my heart.

I recently had a very long skype discussion with my oldest son, a 47 year old single serial monogamist (as I describe it), about the book and movie Fight Club. The book was written by Chuck Palahniuk, a Portland Oregon native. Interesting discussions can be found on THE CULT…the official fan site.

The book even though written 15 years ago, is significant because it has found an ear among thousands of younger men that is often referred to as the “millennials.”

Fight Club isn’t just about the fight but a metaphor for contemporary notions of masculinity, my son says. [At least Contemporary American notions. It would be interesting to do a cross-cultural comparison.]

The movie is about “emasculated” men “raised mainly by women” who grew up to fear violence…who were taught that violence was never right, (yikes!) my son says. Often women teach their sons to cower in the face of bullies. [“Turn the other cheek, the biblical christians say.”] When you teach a kid to never stand up for himself he becomes forever an internalized victim, my son says. Bullies think: Ok I’ve got you in my pocket now.

Tyler (Brad Pitt), the little voice (alter ego) of the protagonist Edward Norton, starts the Fight Club and is sick of being a victim. ” I’d rather lose a tooth,: he says.

At the premiere of Fight Club in Las Vegas: Pitt said the movie is about a generation of men who were taught to fear conflict. If you get into a situation take care of it. Whether it is conflict with physical threat or psychological.

At this point I start to wonder about the implications of this for a couple generations of young men who have grown up uncomfortable with conflict but then go off unprepared emotionally to fight unspeakable wars. And the military which then tries to undo it and force men to be men overnight. And the suicide rate of returning service men with PTSD and failed marriages and broken families.

But back to the movie. It is not about male machismo…that’s not what the author is saying, my son says. It’s not just about becoming a victim physically but in other ways too. “My mom says I’m special but out in the world I’m not automatically considered special.”

Then we talked about my middle son who beat the crap out of a neighbor’s son one day long ago because the neighbor’s son had bullied my son for years…with the neighbor son’s father watching. The father hadn’t controlled his kid’s bullying because he felt it was up to my son to learn to defend himself. (That was also my children’s father’s thought about controlling the fights between our 3 kids). But I usually interceded…perhaps a mistake). I was, after all, a child of the peace and love 60’s.
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Still Lovin Oaxaca

October 9th, 2014

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October 7th, 2014

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I’m Out Of The Box?

October 3rd, 2014

My son Josh is watching the demonstrations in Hong Kong right now. Back to containment againl No doubt given a push by the U.S.

Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution

The neocon foreign policy…I mean by people like Kristol, Kissinger, Wolfowitz, Perle, Brzezinski, Cheney and a lot of those people who have been on the Defense Board for a long time…was a reaction to the soft politics of the “new left” many of which were former “ Old Left” communists or former communists. Leftists and liberals who are disappointed with Utopianism become Revolutionaries. Or sell out and buy into a 401k because they want to educate their kids.

BTW, the family of Martin Luther King won a civil suit against the government proving it was the FBI-CIA who were terrified of King and had him killed but you never saw this in the press. And it was the FBI who saturated the Black community with drugs during the Black power movement to pacify them. You probably can find a video which I’ve seen of Ramsey Clark, Attorney General under Johnson, describing how it worked during his tenure. Some even argue with some evidence that the counter-culture and free speech movements was infiltrated and encouraged in in it’s excesses in order to turn the general population against it. With some success I might add.

People think presidents have all this power and know what’s going on. Not true. They just make promises they can’t keep.
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Love Itself

September 29th, 2014

Exquisite. Clearest expression of an experience in meditation I’ve ever heard. In…and out again in the space between the “Nameless and the Named.” The inner silence and love sticks to you more and more each time.

Ultimate freedom is on the inside…not the outside. But everyone, if they want it, has to figure that out for themselves in their own time. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. Sometimes it never happens.

But as Pico Iyer says: It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, as it takes courage to do anything that’s necessary, whether tending to a loved one on her deathbed or turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut.

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Who Do We Trust?

September 24th, 2014

Trust is a double edged sword. It may slay us on the outside. But too much caution may slay us on the inside. Keeping our lens clear is how we know the difference between the two at any one moment. I think. For me, meditation is what clears my lens.

One of my favorite former Couchsurfers posted this reflective piece on Facebook this morning. It not only relates to reading between the lines of a Couchsurfng profile but the whole host/surfing experience…not only to pre and post hosting/surfing communication but in deciding who to vouch.

I think in the matter of trust it also illustrates that it is not only good for surfers to have hosted but that it is good for hosts to have traveled.

And I thought it worth sharing in the interest of knowing who to trust, especially when we are traveling solo, and in life generally.

Who Do You Trust?
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Am I Mexican? No I am Oaxacan!

September 22nd, 2014

I took a test on FB to see how Mexican I was. 100% Mexican? I guessed at half of them. Most of these questions have to do with northern Mexico or Mexicans who haven’t been in the country for a generation or more. Not southern Mexico which I think is an entirely different country!

You attend every baile in town…that would be impossible

Cowboy boots? No, very worn leather sandals.

Rush home to watch your favorite novella? Don’t have TV and wouldn’t watch novellas if I had one and neither do my Oaxacan friends. They don’t identify with white-skinned “Mexicans” in fancy homes with time on their hands.

Home cooked carne asada and chile rellenos? Sometimes. What local has all day to cook…go to the nearest Comida Corrida for a 4 course $2 mole. Or most often Memelas and Tlayudas on the street.

I do prefer flan and love the taste of horchata. But Tajate is the drink of choice here. Or Jugos.

There are coronas stored in your fridge? People laugh at Coronas here and think they are for tourists. Only Indio, Victoria or Negra Modelo.

Not corridos or bandas…that’s old fashioned! It’s Cumbia all the way if you want traditional and then Cumbia is originally Columbian!

You get angry when they play salsa music in a Mexican restaurant, and are fluent in Spanish? WTF? Salsa classes all over town. Or Cuban Danzon! Or Zumbia for exercise!

You are an avid supporter of immigration reform, and only go to Taco Bell when you don’t feel like cooking? Proves this is a test about people across the border who have no street food. But I remember Roach Coaches there with darned good food!

You have pictures of the Holy Virgin on your wall and take your Catholic faith serious? No way! Only the old ladies…who are only serious about their own private indigenous rituals.

No meal is complete without some Tapatio sauce? No way…only homemade salsa! They don’t like a lot of chile heat here.

You aren’t afraid to blast “Jefe de Jefes” or “El Paisano” by Los Tigres del Norte? Who is that? Lila Downs is the queen! Clubs all play electronic DJ or covers of Mexico City bands like Zoe and Mana. Or Control Machete!

I am not ashamed, I am 100% Oaxacan! lol Well, maybe 99% 😉 I still like my own fried eggs over medium.

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Facebook Is Not The Problem

September 17th, 2014

I love to follow former couchsurfers on Facebook. Paul is one of them.

Everyone is complaining about the same thing and it’s not Facebook. Facebook is not the problem he says. You are.

Paul stayed with me a week in Oaxaca when he was on his way from Utah to Venezuela on his bicycle…his sax in a little wagon behind it. Born in China but raised in Boston, this intelligent and talented guy with dreadlocks is now in a small rural town in Viet Nam where he is establishing a music school for youngsters…The Bamboo School.

My Couchsurfers have added great joy to my life and even more when I get to follow them on Facebook.

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Thinking of becoming an expat?

September 12th, 2014

I have been living in Oaxaca for the last 8 years. I now have a permanent resident card.

I still have a home in Oregon that is rented out to excellent renters for just enough money to cover the mortgage and taxes. I wanted to give it to them cheaply so they couldn’t afford to move! 🙂

Keeping a permanent address there (although other people have used relatives etc.) is very helpful because, one, the Dept of Motor Vehicles requires it and whenever I return for visiting friends and family or business I keep a car there. It would be nearly impossible to get around without it. I have car insurance on both my car here and my car there. I keep comprehensive on the car there yearly and just call the company to put collision back on it when I arrive back in the states. If you keep a car in your home country you will need to find a place to keep it.

Two, all my banking and business interests are linked to this permanent address. I pay federal and some state taxes in Oregon linked to this address. My Social Security and pension is linked to this address. And my Health Plan. Not having a permanent address in the home country can be a nightmare.

But most important I need to be fairly close to Oregon since Medicare health insurance will only pay for medical care that is accessed in the States. I have my annual check-ups there and my 90 day drug subscriptions are sent to my address there. I pick them up whenever I return there…couple times a year. If I run out before I get there I can get them here inexpensively. I don’t have them sent here by post or FedEx/DHL because customs often confiscates them.

If I develop a chronic health problem I still have my house to return to.
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All is Transformed

September 11th, 2014

Frank And Kids In The Zocalo

For nearly 15 years Frank sat at the same table every day in front of a coffee shop in the zocalo…often making friends with passersby, vendors…and especially the children. He had a Ph.d in French Lit but lived the life he wanted…poorly and close to the people.

At 5pm he played chess in front of the cathedral. The players loved him and looked up to him. Ivan, his friend and competitor, organized a chess tournament in Frank’s memory in the Zocalo last night with about 30 players receiving a medal and photo. Thank you Ivan! His ashes will be scattered on Sunday the 26. He was an irascible old goat sometimes but had a big big heart that not everyone saw and I miss him terribly.

As an old Marxist, Frank was a non-believer. The last book he was reading when he died was a book about Einstein. Underneath a framed photo that Ivan gave me of Frank, Ivan had this inscribed:




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Frank Died Last Night

September 11th, 2014

He was “just” a friend…an eccentric friend…but a good friend with heart. For years he spent $70 a month living here. He sat at the same table in the same coffee shop in the Zocalo every single day with one cup of coffee…then moving in front of the cathedral to play chess with the best players around. If I was ever lonely or wanted company I knew he would be there.

This is a poem he gave to another friend a year ago around his birthday on September 23rd. He knew.

so wonderful the decline
how sweet the lowering
crumbling asundering

ebbing delightfull
sliding toward stilness
unrevelling simply
secretly tumbling
fading along down
reaching under
slipping ever

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Hear That Holy Sound

September 2nd, 2014

You see what is in you if you look for it. Traveling the world for the last 12 years I have felt it. Each day is the best day these days…at the age of 70.

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Sex And Couchsurfing

September 1st, 2014

A recent discussion in a group on Couchsurfing went like this:

A guy: What’s lost in all this talk of “open intentions” is: girls do not usually get into situations saying “I’m looking to bang!” There needs to be… plausible deniability. And many guys prefer girls who wouldn’t say a thing like that.

A woman: men who are looking for sex do not prefer these women who want the exact same things as them, they want to “work” on a woman

A guy: Are you hearing yourself? A man.. wants to “work”?!?
We need to investigate further.
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Where Have I Been

September 1st, 2014

Well, it seems Facebook and Couchsurfing groups have taken over my posting as of late. Some recent posts on FB:

FBProfile Photo

Folk/Rock band playing in Friday Market in Llano park this morning. An elderly lady walks by and turns toward them and blesses herself, as they sing …I wanna feel good…, honoring the saints in the church behind them.

Free Thinker

Oregon Girl

My young friend Pavel, studying art at the MesoAmerican school, made this interesting poster which is now on my wall in my apartment.



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Expats Take Care

April 21st, 2014

Well, my friend Jayson Heckler who drove down to Oaxaca from the States to Oaxaca with me in 2010 was the next one. Fell and injured his leg and hip. Doc said to go home and stay down. He did. And died.

Barely over the fatigue of traveling…Earl, my friend and escort (he says I am his “chick”) says to me one thursday night walking away from a progressive jazz jam in a small cafe…no rhythm…no beat! I laugh. He seemed tight all night. Then half a block away he says he’s got to get into a taxi and go home. The driver drops me off at my apartment and takes off with Earl.

The next morning he emails me: “I’m scared. My leg went to sleep.” By that afternoon his hospital room was full of his friends.

Long story short he had some blood clots in his leg. Two days later, after a failed angioplasty at another hospital he has his leg amputated above the knee. His daughter who had flown down from Minneapolis, and a friend who was the translator, spent the night with me in case we got a call from the hospital. Desperate for sleep…three times they called. The third time was to find out if we wanted the leg…

Please, jesus and allah, I never want to be in a Mexican public hospital. But I was encouraged by the way everyone pulled together…each contributing help and coordination. I don’t want to be the next one.

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Heli Skiing Bobbie Burns Canada

April 1st, 2014

While temps are in the 90’s here in Oaxaca, my oldest son is buried in powder near Calgary…a 4 hour bus journey followed by a 15 minute heli flight into the lodge in the Selkirk and the Purcell mountains.


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In Oaxaca…Finally!

March 8th, 2014

Ahhhh! No more alarms. No more packing and unpacking! No more late and cancelled flights.  And after four months on the road, I’ve got my own coffee pot and old friends in Oaxaca! Life is good!

But I don’t want to do ANYTHING for awhile…or go ANYWHERE! I just want to crash! In my own apartment!  In my own bed!  As I’ve said before, I am getting too old for this shit!

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OMG…70 Hours From BKK To PDX

March 5th, 2014

The flight back to the States from Thailand included a transit through Tokyo, Japan. But it snowed in Tokyo and the Narita airport closed. Waited in Bangkok airport 12 hours for an alternate flight to Hanada airport. With her Thai accent, I kept hearing the agent say “Canada Airport.” What??? Well finally got that straightened out. Unknown to me, Hanada Airport is also in Tokyo. But if it was snowing in Tokyo and one airport was closed wouldn’t the other airport be risky? Oh well. She must know what she is doing…I thought…

The minute we landed and I looked out the window of the plane, I knew we weren’t getting out anytime soon. Inside at the ticket counter a Canadian woman was yelling that she refused to spend 9 hours in the SF airport waiting to get to Vancouver. The husband shrinks. This goes on for an hour…the agent with very little English staring at her computer terminal. With no place for us to sit. Finally they left. I have no idea what the outcome was.

We tried to be nice…Doug is better at it than I am. They could see he could hardly stand with his psoriatic arthritis so they brought a wheelchair and wheeled us up to a Delta lounge, thank god. Personnel kept giving us updates…one agent comes up to us and says “we have an update for you…the airport will open soon.” A different agent soon after…”we have an update for you…the airport will open soon.” Then 3 agents at once. “We have an update for you…the airport is closed indefinitely.” So Doug and I joined a few hundred others on the airport floor where they at least they gave us blankets.

The next morning an agent said..“Narita has opened. You must take a bus to a different terminal and then another bus to Narita.” Doug could hardly walk with the arthritis much less help with 4 big pieces of luggage. Can I get a taxi? “No taxi today. And you must enter “Japan” and go through immigration and security again because the airport is not in “Japan.” Huh?

Upon questioning I began to realize this was one of their many ways of saying “no” without saying “no.” The part of it I could understand anyway with the heavy Japanese accent. I said “We cannot! “See…I learned this from the Thais! ha!  They got on the phone with someone…the supervisor I suspect. Three times they came back and three times this happened. When they returned again they finally got up the gumption to say “No. The plane to Los Angeles is at the Narita Airport right now…you must go!”

I began to realize they were frantically trying to empty the Haneda airport lest we start living there. After all…all the snacks and drinks you could eat! So the three tiny women went with us to the bus helping carry the bags…bless their little hearts. “You are strong!” I said. Then we tumbled off that bus and onto another bus to Narita. Thankfully, other bus riders helped us off that one.

In contrast to little Haneda, these Delta agents at Narita were incredibly efficient, didn’t charge for overweight luggage, and the line went quickly. Whew! Even though we were originally booked for a flight direct to PDX…we got onto a plane for LA.

In LA we had missed the flight which was transiting San Francisco to Portland of course. Planes from hell to breakfast had been backed up for days. We stood in line (first a wrong one misdirected by a worker) over 3 hours to get rebooked and drop our bags. Only three Delta agents for a few hundred people! I was losing it! Then suddenly two more agents appeared. One woman wasted no time handling us and two other customers at once…and at the same time noticing Doug’s physical situation. Another airport worker suddenly appeared with a wheelchair and she bulldozed us through security and immigration. I will write Delta. These women need some kudos!

But my plane woes were not to end there. After a week in Salem Oregon, and a night waiting in the PDX airport for an early morning flight out to Houston through San Francisco, my transit through SF was cancelled. So I have a choice of going through LA or Las Vegas. Las Vegas! I quickly texted my son there and asked if I could spend a few days there. Yes, was the answer!

On March 3, from Las Vegas I was to fly to Oaxaca through Houston. Yes, the flight out of Houston was delayed two hours! Poor Andrea and Jose were waiting at the Oaxaca airport for me! I am taking them out to dinner Saturday at the Casa Oaxaca rooftop restaurant.

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Hanging In Bangkok

February 5th, 2014

Doug’s 45th birthday is today but he is in Chiang Mai and I am wishing I were with him to celebrate his 45th. I sing Happy Birthday when he calls in the morning. “Oh quit it!” he says. 🙂

As for me, people seem to be looking curiously at my clothes I acquired in the islands. At least I think it’s my clothes they are looking at. lol Thais are usually curious about my wild curly hair…natural as it is.

This week in Bangkok, my VX50 Guesthouse only had a room on the 3rd floor so I moved to the Imm Fusion Hotel a bit up the road on Sukhumvit near the On Nut Skytrain exit. It’s fine and has an elevator. Doug will join me for a few days here before we take off for the States. So I’ll just cool out and meet up with a couple people who live here who I met through Facebook and one I met and hung out with in Chiang Mai. And Jiraporn…my friend who teaches fisheries at Kasetsart University. And of course my Yellow Shirt friend. Oh and I can’t forget Leila from Australia who I traveled with in Lao and Thailand and then met up with again in Las Vegas several years ago.

Anxious to get Jiraporn’s take on the weird current political machinations occurring in Thailand with anti-government (but mostly anti-corruption) protesters clogging up the intersections and trying to “ShutDown Bangkok” in a bid to force the Thaksin regime out of power. Good luck with that, I say. Bangkok is a big place. But people are losing patience with seven huge 8 lane intersections closed. It is a party atmosphere. A huge stage is set up at each one with music groups playing to keep the attention of protesters in between video speeches by the leaders. Vendors abound along the “walking” streets selling everything they usually sell including Shut Down Bangkok and The People Of The King T-shirts adorned with the Thai character for the 9th Dynasty King.

The boys’ dad is still living in Pattaya Thailand. Here he is with his Bingo Bango Bongo Golf Club buddies in Pattaya. 2nd from the end on the right. We meet in Bangkok one weekend to talk taxes and kids.

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Meanwhile In Merca

February 5th, 2014

Josh Cooks For Greg’s Friends

I get an email from Josh saying that he and Greg and Polly had a great time on Manhattan Beach California with Greg’s friend Jeff, an old roommate when he lived in Phoenix.

After some time with Greg in Las Vegas, Josh and Polly and Greg flew to NYC where Josh met up with old friends when he lived in Brooklyn and worked as a chef in Manhattan. Wish I could have been a birdie.

Josh and Greg

New York Group

Mike Ferrin, Jeff, Jeff’s gf, Josh, Polly, Greg

Back in Las Vegas they took a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon…a grand finale for Polly especially…before Josh and Polly flew off for home in Hong Kong.

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