The Baja California Sur Adventure

The nicest thing about coming to The Baja is the closeness and direct flights available from Salt Lake. In less than four hours, you can be digging your toes into the warm sand, sipping a salt rimmed margarita and watching the waves.

It’s pretty easy to get Gandaulf into Mexico so he gets to vacation with us. He’s such a great traveler. He steals everyone’s heart and I never tire hearing people taking his picture or listen to them comment on how cute he is. He just prances on in his service jacket, ears pinned back, taking care of his mom, always alert. When we get to the beach, it’s all about the ball.

We got to Baja on Sunday. It’s a quick little battery recharge vacation. We spend the day bouncing from the waves to the pool and back again. We found the quaintest little Hotel in Cabo Pulmo called VidaSoul. It’s quite literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s about an hour drive across the east cape of The Baja. The drive itself is part of the adventure. The directions consist of a few pictures and some approximate mileages of where to turn. It was quite easy to get off track, or miss a turn because in the desert, things are in a constant state of change. A windy day can push a pile of sand to the other side of a turn and the picture may not look like what is actually there now.

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We ended up in the city dump, literally, and I had to use my best Spanish to try to get directions from an old Mexican guy who apparently works there. We missed one of the turns because it no longer looked like the picture or a sign was missing. We made our way back to the correct road and were off again.

The road was a sand wash for the most part and the closer we got to the arroyo it was evident that storms from the past summer had washed out huge sections of the surrounding area. Coming over the rise we could see the hotel was an oasis sitting atop a sand dune and visible from almost anywhere. It’s white and grey exterior poised high atop a pile of sand with the arroyo about 400 yards away. It is right on the beach and very private.

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They call this place The Crossroads. It’s origin was a dream of an expat and her son. This monolith came about from a small shack on the beach with a thatched roof. The owners son designed the whole Hotel with not a detail missed. All the cement was mixed by hand. It took nine years to complete. It has a grand staircase that goes down to a uniquely designed pool which is quite literally a hole dug in the beach. It is surrounded by sand, a few beach lounges and some material strung between some poles for shade. The pool has a bar in the center. In order to get to the bar, the bartender must wade out to the pit in the center. The bridge idea never materialized.

From the pool and the restaurant you can gaze out across the water and watch the whales spouting and playing. You can watch the Mexican hand fishers in their little skiffs. You can take in the crashing waves and the sea breezes. The staff is very attentive and your glass is always topped off, a fresh bottle of water, or a little something from the restaurant. Whatever it was we ordered it never disappointed.

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Chris and I just don’t like the crowds or touristy areas much anymore so VidaSoul was the perfect getaway. Being in the middle of nowhere, they have made a concerted effort to use solar power and keep it eco friendly. They do have a generator that runs most all night in order to keep the AC on and give its guests a comfortable night sleep.

The rooms are quite spacious. VidaSoul offers meal plans that help offset the meal costs. The portion sizes are huge. The bartender makes the best margaritas. The food was fresh and delicious and the drink pours were more than fair. We aren’t in Utah baby! We would highly recommend a visit to this oasis if traveling the road around the coastline of the east cape.

Life on Life’s Terms

The saying, “the best made plans…”, finish as you would. Our lives have taken a slight U turn.

About five years ago, we made the decision to sell off All we own, buy a plane ticket to Ecuador, and “retire”. We worked really hard to save all our pennies… set up ourselves to retire with means enough to live comfortably. We put our business on the market in January 2017, started selling off the “stuff” we have accumulated over the last 25 years and started planning our escape.

At first we had planned a getaway to a nice country, hoped to secure a long term rental then travel out from there. That soon turned into a road trip in a 1998 Land Cruiser we picked up cheap. We spent the next 9 months rigging it up for Overlanding. Again those plans were laid to rest after a quick trip to Iceland, where we rented a VW Krafter van converted into a rudimentary camper van. The focus switched to buying a Sprinter or Transit van and converting it into a camper. Let’s face it… we are a bit older than most who are Overlanding in an SUV. Small things like being able to stand up, get out of the weather, and the ability to cook inside when needed, became key needs.

That brings us to this current year 2018.

The business sale never materialized, even after a young man came in a couple times a month for six months, promising us we would close by the beginning of the year. The beginning of the year came and went. Every attempt he made to secure financing fell away. We were forced to resign ourselves to the fact this could be harder than we originally anticipated. He’s now a salesperson for us.

We did find a great deal on a 2015 Ford Transit van with the eco boost engine, which will give us similar gas mileage to the diesel Sprinter yet we won’t need to worry about any of the diesel emissions garbage they throw on the Sprinter. We were still proceeding as if we would be leaving for our adventure, even though the future was uncertain at best.

I was devastated when I realized that I was bound to Utah for another winter. I really wanted to believe that “the kid” would come through and buy us out. I feel as if the dealership is a means to an end, but also could be my end. The stress levels of being a business owner are sometimes insurmountable for me. Chris is my rock. She always picks me up, dusts me off, and convinces me everything will work out as it should… just get the hell out of the way. If you keep trying to stick a square peg in a round hole, eventually something is bound to give… that something is usually my mental and emotional health.

So today, I am sitting at a small metal table, in the middle of no where, on the east cape of the Baja of Mexico. I dream that this will someday be a big part of our lives. We are watching the whales breach just a couple hundred yards off the beach, Gandaulf is resting with his head on my bare feet, the smell of the salt water and the sound of the waves, lulls me into a trance and rests my uneasy soul. It’s hard to accept life on life’s terms.

Medical Tourism… Everything We Learned and Need to Pass Along

Living in the USA, we all feel entitled, if you will, to everything from beautiful groceries at the market, clean water, good healthcare and creature comforts we seem to feel we need. All of this comes with a huge price to pay.

The world is aware that our crazy commander and creep has made it his mission to take as many of the above away as he can. Of course he is “rich” and can afford medical care, medical insurance and the sky high deductibles that we are forced to sign up for in order to bring down astronomical premiums.

Then you look at treatments like dental work. Even if you do have insurance for this, you will still pay hundreds and hundreds of hard earned dollars in order to get a painful tooth handled. It’s not like you can ignore it until it’s more convenient… therein lies the reason for this post.

Chris broke her back molar a year or so ago and went to the dentist who “patched her up”. Temporary fix $400. Last week she was on a trip for work and the “temporary fix” fell off. She was in immediate pain and called the doc. They quoted her $1200 for a permanent crown. OMG! So $400 plus $1200 is way too much and hard to stomach. Enter Mexico…

For years I have been reading about Medical Tourism. Hundreds of thousands of people travel to other countries for life saving treatments, why not travel for dental work? Why not travel for minor procedures that at home would be outrageous?

A few years back I twisted my knee chasing some howler monkeys on a muddy trail in Costa Rica. It swelled up and became too painful to bear weight. I had travel insurance but they required me to go see a doctor in country.  I took a taxi to the doctor’s office.  It looked like a small storefront shop with a shingle hanging outside with the doctor’s name.  I walked in and was warmly greeted by a young man who spoke perfect english. His office was quaint with a few chairs and a coffee table, a small TV and AC.

He took me right into his exam room which was clean and looked like any exam room you’ve ever been in. He asked me a barrage of questions and then proceeded to examine my injured knee.  He called his assistant in to take me to get an x-ray right in the next room.  Twenty minutes later I walked out of his office with a full explanation of what he felt was wrong and a knee brace and pain medicine… all for $50 USD.  At home the x-ray alone would have been more than $50, PLUS the doctor would have buzzed into the room pulled and pushed on my leg and left the room never to be seen again. In a week or two I would receive a bill for $650 for the inst-care.

To wrap this up, if you are afraid and nervous, that’s fine.  Just as in the US or where ever you may be from, do your homework.  There are hacks everywhere.  There are sites you can access that give you step by step instructions.  They have done research and you can reach out to them if you have questions.  The world is a much smaller… and expensive place.  If you are too scared and need to live in your little comfortable box, I get it.  There’s a lot out there… outside of your little box.  LIVE!

This is the dentist we just used:

www.tijuanamexicodentist.com

More reading and links:

www.medicaltourism.com

www.patientsbeyondborders.com/medical-tourism-statistics-facts

www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_tourism

Iceland: History, Myths and Fairytales

Back in 1970 a famous band sang a song about Iceland. Got it? Yep LED Zeppelin wrote:
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.

Hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new land.
To fight the hordes and sing, and cry.
Valhalla, I am coming. LZ

This song congers up visions of volcanoes, geysers , great fields of glaciers etching their way through the lava fields, and great crashing waves. A land that the Vikings called home.

Iceland was named to deter outsiders from coming to this volatile, lush and a very temperate and tectonically active land. It’s counterpart Greenland is actually covered with more ice and snow than is Iceland.

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Considering Iceland’s history began pre 1000 AD, and was a lawless land of Vikings and later Norwegians looking for new lands, it is noted for one of the first parliaments and one of the worlds oldest functioning legislative assemblies. Pretty good for an island of just under 40,000 square miles.

Around the tenth century, the christians came to the island. By the twelfth century its Commonwealth dissolved and it was drawn into the Nordic Union then by the fifteenth century it fell under Danish rule. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the island fell into a combination of hardships, poverty and natural disasters. By the end of the First World War, Iceland finally gained sovereignty yet remained under Danish Monarchy until, WWII. It was a neutral state in WWII but was peacefully occupied by British forces to stop a Nazi occupation.

In the twentieth century it succumbed to the financial troubles of the European economy even though it stayed out of the European Union. Iceland was a founding member of both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Trade Organization. Its economy grew rapidly largely through fishing, although this was marred by conflicts with other nations.

Ok enough of the history lesson… the island of Iceland is home to the meeting point of the European and North Atlantic tectonic plates. It is home to 130 volcanoes, of which 60-70 are still active. It is a land in progress. It has the ability to wipe out most of its population. On average it records 100 tremors a day. It is home to the worlds youngest island, Surtsey, which took just under three years to form from a series of underwater volcanic eruptions. It has become a Petri dish for scientist to study how life evolves from primordial events.

Another interesting fact is the climate is considered subarctic! Sitting between latitude 63 and 64 degrees N, it sits completely inside the arctic circle. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Current which puts its overall climate similar to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The “Summer” months are from May thru early September. This is also the time of the Midnight Sun. In late June through early August the sun barely slips out of sight making approximately 17 to 21 hours of daylight at the Summer Solstice. Likewise the “Winter” months of late November through early February sees only 4 to 7 hours of daylight. The winter and summer solstices vary in daylight by 17 hours.

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Myths and Folklore of Iceland are just as cool as the landscape. Rooted deep in Nordic Viking traditions and lore. Of course I own a “fairy’s steed”. It is believed that the Corgi was used by Fairies to ride into battle. Descendants of the Swedish Valhound they played a big part in folklore. Even though the original inhabitants of Iceland were thought to be thugs and barbarians, Icelanders are considered one of the most civilized peoples on the planet. Their culture is steeped in folklore, Elves, Fairies, Trolls and other interesting sorts. They are strong believers in all things Supernatural. Those include the ones that go bump in the night… the Huldufolk.

The Huldufolk are believed to be the protectors of the land. They comprise mainly of Elves and Fairies. They also can bring misfortune to any household that angers or displeases them.

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Next are the Trolls or Giants. If this sounds like the land of Lord of the Rings… you’re not far from the truth. The Trolls are brought to life in the town of Vik were I have read that three Trolls stand frozen in the Ocean. Actually they are wind and sea carved basalt formations. Trolls are believed to live in the dark grottoes and caves formed in the earth. They are also not too friendly. There is an entire set of books read to Icelandic children growing up. Most Icelanders, if asked, will take you to see a Troll on their property. It is said if they get caught in sunlight, they turn to stone.

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What culture would be complete without SANTA Claus. The Yule Lads, or Yulemen are liken to SANTA and his Elves. Yule Lads are thirteen in number and are responsible for putting you on the naughty or nice list. They put rewards or punishments in the shoes of children who leave them on their window sills during the thirteen days of Christmas. These punishments are normally in the form of rotten potatoes.

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One of the most sustained myths is that of the Alfhol. These are small houses that Icelanders build to house their Elves. These small houses are built with love and great care so their Elves will be happy and not bring any mis-adventures to them. There is even an entire street call Elf Street/Hill. The story goes a street was being built across a lava field and the crews were plagued with constant mishaps.  Equipment failure, accidents and such.  The road was moved a few feet and all the happenings stopped.

Witches, Mermen, Sea Monsters and such are also steeped deep in lore. Kings, Princes, and great Vikings also round out the great tales of Iceland.

 

A Proud People

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