A Time of Change

IMG_2448

As my silent inner war rages, I am forced to put on a happy face and try to blend in. The struggle inside is exacerbated by daily stresses I am trying to control. My little blue helper has finally quit making me sick… is it working? The fact that I have to take any chemicals in order to keep on an even keel haunts me everyday as I screw off the bottle’s cap and swallow the blue pill inside. Why have I lost the ability to control my outbursts? Why am I so angry inside? My life is good yet these demons rage on inside in the recesses of my brain… my very soul.

I studied with a shaman last time things got this out of control. For a year we met 3 days a week. For the first six months he never spoke to me. We would walk through the woods in silence. We would sit in silence in the sweat lodge, the only sound was him singing and playing his hypnotic drum. We would sit around the fire at night and stare into the flames, not making a sound. Little did I know, this was all part of my healing. Sitting in silence makes you face your demons head on, with no human outside influences. Finally, one Saturday evening around the fire, he spoke in the softest voice… “you are no longer angry, now we can begin.” Six more months he taught me all he could.

Lodge-cut

That was back in 1987/8. Today I remember the feelings I felt, the inner struggles that waged on. I remember the serenity I finally achieved after months of hard work and those weekends in the woods. In the end he gave me a native flute and told me that this would be my avenue to sooth the angry beast inside. Even though I long for that serenity again, I can no seem to find those tools I learned. I find myself seeking out guidance in the form of meditation, Thai chi, maybe I should just become a Buddhist. There are people out there that feed on people’s longings, but only for profit. Then there are places that really do sincerely cater to the desire to become whole again, to find peace, to nourish the tired, battered soul. I have determined that this is what I must do.

I spoke of my struggles with depression in my last post. I hate being so selfish and dragging those around me into my torment. I wish that this would just all go away and I could just go back to being happy go lucky, not a care in the world. I am caught between a rock and a hard space. The more I feed into this, the more out of control I feel. When I was younger, and not as responsible as I am today, it was easy to just blow off things in the pursuit of eternal happiness…if there really is such an animal. I did find a moment in time of devine serenity and having tasted it once, I am in search of this elusive butterfly again.

Exif JPEG
Exif JPEG

When Life Deals You Lemons

In the last six months life hasn’t been exactly easy. The stresses of being a business owner for 16 years have taken its toll on me both mentally and physically. My dream of being retired and traveling died out in flames as the buyer for our business fell through. Shame on me for wanting to believe until the end.

So let’s fast forward to June. I have been battling with bouts of depression, I believe is mostly stress related. I found it increasingly difficult to control emotional outbursts. I became increasingly more angry at everything it seemed. I was caught in a spiral that I no longer had control over. I no longer had the tools in my life to deal with any of this. To say I was a ticking time bomb is to put it mildly.

We worked it out that I would go to part time. Only work in the back with the new cars coming in. Not dealing with customers that I hate. I found that the very lifeblood of our business, people buying cars, was sending me into fits of rage. Some of my employees were constantly pissing me off and when I came down on them, they would run to my partner and exaggerate what happened, making it all my issues and none of theirs. It was time for me to step aside.

My life is needing an overhaul. I sat down and wrote two lists: one of tasks around the house that had been neglected and the other what I was gonna do for Me to change my life. The second list was the most vital. In order for me to climb out of this deep dark, lonely hole I find myself in, I have to develop tools that will balance my core, my very soul. I am sick, emotionally and spiritually. I have given up every ounce of my being to survive day to day. Over kill? Trust me… I am on some serious shaky ground that scares even myself.

The week all this came to a head, two prominent figures committed suicide. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Both, like myself, have it made. They have all the money one could wish for. Fame and notoriety didn’t buy them happiness. They died slow painful deaths emotionally then ended their torture by taking their physical lives. It saddens me that an act so permanent… so selfish… was their only way out of the silent, torturous lives they were living. So I reached out for help.

Admitting that your life is out of control to those around you is tough. Some look on you as flawed. Others avoid you. Some tell you it’s all in your head, you have a great life. Perhaps this is why we suffer in silence. Being pushed aside, avoided, told to get over it, is not helpful. It drives us deeper into our own silence and demons. At wits end we seek out medication to hopefully balance out our “chemical imbalance”. Some little pill that will stop our uncontrolled outbursts. I’ll be the first to admit that I need a little help in the meantime, while I find myself again. While I find the balance in my life.

So my life has dealt me lemons… right now I want to squish them and throw them at all the people I blame for my feeling this way. Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to make lemonade and sit back and slowly enjoy it.

Island Life: Days 3-5

There’s something to say about island life. It’s kicked back pace. Long hours of scraping out a living… or doing absolutely nothing but digging your toes in the sand and sucking up some rays. That soon can growing quite boring, at least for Chris and I.

Day three started quite early. We had to catch the 7am ferry back to Belize City in order to catch a taxi and get to our meeting place by 8:30. Of course all of this is in Island time which means, a fifteen minute of error has come to be expected.

We had a golf cart taxi waiting for us at 6:30am. Chris was getting off at the Amore Cafe for some coffee and I was to go the rest of the way with our backpacks, check our luggage and wait for Chris. I began to worry when it was 6:55 and Chris was still no where in sight. There are times when that fifteen minutes comes in handy. She finally showed after walking all the way to The Split and realizing she had missed the docks somehow.

The ferry ride was uneventful, we gathered our backpacks and a taxi and met up with our group, with plenty of time to spare. We soon found out that the group had just come off the Glover’s Reef trip and were now known as the double atollers. For once it appeared we wouldn’t be the oldest in the group… as a matter of fact the group was an average of 55 years old, all professionals, all trying to get to a place in their lives where they can “retire”. We were on the perfect trip!

Most of the third day was spent on boats, getting from one island to another at the furthest eastern land mass in Belize. Arriving at our tent camp on the small island of Half Moon Caye, we were broken into our groups, the double atollers and the newbies… Our tents assigned and lunch served, our day could finally begin…nine hours after we awoke.

Impressions of Half Moon Caye:

Unlike many islands were have been on, these Belizeans care about the cleanliness of their little piece of sand. There was very little garbage littering the sandy white beaches and the windward side of the island, that would normally collect what the tides bring in was also devoid of all ocean trash. This is the rest spot for divers of The Blue Hole. This is also the furthest Belizean outpost for The Autobahn Society. They patrol the waters of The Blue Hole for illegal fisherman, help educate the visitors to this island and keep this turtle hatchery pristine.

Half Moon Caye is also a bird sanctuary. There are nesting colonies of Red Footed Boobies, Frigate Birds and Osprey. There are three predominant species of lizards and an exorbitant amount of Hermit Crabs. The camp actually uses the crabs as a form of composting. All the food scraps are put into a bin and the hermit crabs swarm the pile and become a moving, crunching mass of bioengineering, turning these piles into nothing overnight. Remember anything we create (trash wise) on this island must be disposed of, either by burning, hauled off on boats, or organically disposed of.

The air on the island is thick with salt, humidity and birds. It’s like a kite festival with thirty or fourth birds souring on the ocean breezes…silently swooping and diving, gliding effortlessly. On the windward side the breezes keep the humidity to a manageable level, although everything is soaked and wet in the mornings. The further you get away from the ocean breezes, the humidity gets quite unbearable and the turquoise blue lagoon becomes very inviting.

The frigate birds have huge thin wings and forked tail. They glide stealthy on the wind and watch for the boobies or osprey to catch a fish. In a second, the frigates go into action, diving in long swoops, weaving and turning gracefully in the air as they begin their assault on the fish bearing sea bird. They grab hold of the fish, lock talons and spiral towards earth. Eventually they hit the water or until one of the seabirds releases and flies off to hunt again.

At night the hermit crabs come out by the hundreds. The path ways from area to area become a seething river of these creatures. It kinda creeps you out at night when your flashlight accentuates the size of these crabs when walking to the restroom or shower. It reminds me of some alien organism out to snatch you in your sleep and carry you off. With no real predators on the island they thrive!

Most every activity has been centered around water. There is something calming about water. Whether submersed in it or floating on top, it has a magic over me that rocks to my soul. It can be gentle and calm or a raging surf. It has the ability to shape and reshape with little that can stand in its way. I feel fortunate to be able to see below its surface to its undersea world of bright colors. The fragile world that hangs in the balance yet is abundant with life.

 

 

 

 

When it Rains…It Pours: Belize day six

We knew that it was too good to last. So far our vacation has been perfect. Perfect weather, perfect food and drink and perfect group out here on Half Moon Caye. Our last night was full of dancing, drinking and sharing tales. We watched the sunset at the beach just outside of camp while partying with all our new friends. We took pictures and shared email addresses then went back to camp where the guides performed native Garafuna drumming, song and dance. We all danced the night away and had a lovely prepared meal (no shortage of those). Then off to bed.

The sun began to wake up the day as a big ball of pink in the morning sky. A cloud bank began to roll in and by breakfast the storm had arrived. We all ran out to our tents and secured the rain flaps. Within 5 minutes the rain began. First a little drizzle, then the lightening and thunder accompanied the sheets of rain. Now we are all sitting in the mess hall watching the rain, hoping the boat coming to get us today actually will leave Belize City and make the 2-3 hour trip across open water. I personally would be happy if the boat was unable to come.

Chris and I recounted our trip so far. Chris said that this island adventure reminded her of summer camp. There was always activities to sign up for each day, an applause after each meal, educational moments and of course glamping. So now every time I think of the last five days I smile and think “adult summer camp”.

You Better Belize it! Day One and Two (cause they all kinda blended together)

We just couldn’t pass up this trip. About two months ago we received and email from Delta Airlines about a reduced mileage fare to anywhere in Central or South America. For a measly 14,000 Miles we could get round trip tickets to Belize. Of course the travel had to be completed within a certain time frame… but who cares! Normal price on a round trip ticket to Belize…65,000 Miles! We scrambled for an hour trying to find just the right times and figure out what we would do, where we would stay and whatnot. By the time we settled on our dates, the price had doubled but was still an awesome deal. So here I sit on Caye Caulker, a little earthy crunchy island where the mode of transportation is bicycles, golf cart or old fashioned walking.

 

There is always a catch though. The redeye leaving at 1am arriving in Belize at 11am same day. It’s not too bad until you hit that wall. When nothing makes sense, you search for words to form a complete sentence. When every fiber of your being says stop, lie down and go to sleep. It’s similar to jet lag but more akin to an all night party that leaves you craving your bed all the next day.

 

We went kinda budget. Our first hotel was a little place called The Barefoot Belize. It’s a brightly colored arrangement of 12 little cabanas and rooms. Nothing to elaborate. There is AC, which if you plan on sleeping at night, is a must have. There’s a nice big, comfortable bed, a shower with good supply of hot water and pressure to enjoy it, a small kitchenette and full island sized fridge for keeping those delicious Belikin beers icy cold.

What hits you first is the humidity. It was tough to breathe at first. My lungs felt as if they were trying to breathe in water instead of air. You break out in a sweat where you didn’t even know you could sweat. We donned our backpacks and headed through the airport, breezed through customs and caught a taxi to the water.

When traveling in Belize… you have a choice of traveling to the islands by ferry or small puddle jumper plane. Each will get you where you want to go… just the difference in cost and time needs to be decided. The plane is $179 each way, for two, and takes about 15 minutes. The ferry takes about 45 minutes and the round trip cost is $56 for two. Unless you’re late for an important date, the ferry will get you there safe and sound.

A couple things to point out out on the Belizean island of Caye Caulker. #1 – there are no real swimming beaches #2 – there is every kind of adventure to be had from here #3 – this is an adventure island and a cheaper version of Ambergris Caye, which everyone has heard of.

There is a huge disparity in Hotel pricing here. There is also a huge difference in what you get. The place we chose was about $110/ night all in, $227 for our two nights. This is on the lower end of the spectrum. Further from town, we are talking a 2-4 minute walk all the way to the middle of town, or a 1-2 minute bike ride (you can’t ride you bike on the beaches but you can walk all the way along the beach). Our hotel, like many more, has a private pier with some handmade beach lounges. The “beach towel” they give you is an old bath towel they retired, stitched up the holes and called it a beach towel. What’s true is none of this matters on an island. Roll with it. We are so spoiled! You can ride down to the distribution center, over by the islands generators and buy a case of Belkin Beer for $12… and it’s 6.5%! See… it’s not all bad!

Have I Said This Before?

My girlfriend and I have been planning our escape for years. It was some fear and apprehensions that stopped us from taking the leap years ago and wandering our beautiful planet on a forever way of life…traveling.

We planned and saved every dollar we could. Tried to make good decisions about big purchases. Brought our company to a viable asset. Fixed everything physically wrong with our aging bodies so we could be young again. We made a goal of 2017 as our jumping off point.

Well 2017 came and went. We put our business up for sale at the beginning of 2017. We had several interested parties, but running a car dealership is not as simple as liking cars. Everyone that came to the table either faded away when they found out how much was actually involved or the banks turned them down. I fell into a deep depression that I kept hidden as best as I could.

We set ourselves up to live a good life. We built our dream home 18 years ago and are about 3-4 years away from paying it off. Our house is warm and comfortable and WAY too big for our little family of two humans and a corgi. It was a tax shelter and necessity which has now become a source of financial security, affording us freedom if we could cut the chains.

We have read countless books on becoming a minimalist. We have attended Overlanding expos and created good, healthy ties with fellow explorers and travelers living both here in the US and in foreign countries. We bought a 2015 Ford Transit 250 to build into our adventure mobile. Of course with our still busy schedule it has not had much attention. So here we sit, chained to our business and unwilling to give up our comfortable home until the sale.

To make matters worse… everyday we wake up to another mass shooting, another unarmed kid shot by cops, a narcissistic POTUS who is batshit crazy and can seriously impact our financial health, physical health and turn the world against us. Kids are taking to the streets demanding change but getting the hand by the grownups they rally against. It is just too much for my fragile psyche to be bombarded with everyday.

Why take off and leave all that we know? Why sell off everything and have nothing but freedom to show for it? Why break away from all that is comfortable and travel to third world countries where people are happy and live harmoniously with the world around them? Seriously… you need to ask!