Overland Expo West… Here We Come!

It seems like forever since I have written. Life has been crazy… to say the least. We are continuing to sell cars, go to work everyday, walk the dog every morning, pay bills, do yard work, fix up the house for the eventual sale, and still try to fit some fun time in. I will be happy when the list gets cut in a third and all we have to do is plan our next destination, walk the dog on a beach or jungle trail, make new friends and LIVE.

We have been beefing up Lucky, our 1998 Adventure Cruzer. She has almost a complete ‘face lift’ now completely replacing most of her front end suspension parts, installed the roof top tent, added a great, non-ostentatious stereo with Bluetooth and XM, second battery system installed and cold air intake installed.  There is still the interior build for storage coming up… but first The Overland Expo in Flagstaff this weekend for some over the top experience and lots off good ideas from fellow minimalists and overlanders.

It is amazing to know that there are other crazy people in this world that like to “hit the road”, abandon the “responsible reality lifestyle” we all have been raised to live in and forced to conform to. With the instability in the political climate of this world it it scary to even turn on the TV and wonder what stupidity has occurred overnight. To be reliant on fossil fuels, electricity, consume water like it’s a right… these items are what keeps most of us chained to our homes, our repeating loop of everyday living to support our reliance on our carbon footprint. Hitting the road forces us to downscale. Live life at its fullest without being tied down. It allows us to move freely about, exploring the world and all it’s back roads and byways, without having time limits.

In two days I will hit the road with Gandaulf and Lucky for our first 600 mile road trip. I hope to connect and be motivated. To be inspired by fellow travelers. To accept criticism on ways to better keep us secure as two women travelers. Stay tuned as we post some incredible pics and share great ideas as we travel to and attend the Expo!

Until we chat again…

The Deepest Scar

In all my travels I have seen the good and the bad. A common thread in most indigenous cultures is the reverence for Mother Earth. It’s not hard to see why.  These people depend on the bounty of the Earth for substinance. They rise up against their government when the government takes money over the sacred to build hydro-dams, cut down forests, strip mine, fracking, bartering land for oil production… the list goes on.

I have heard stories of the people rising up to stop dams on some of the most beautiful rivers in South America, Central America, and the US. There is a constant battle to heal Mother Earth rather than ravaging her further. A battle to restore the deep scars generations before have inflicted. To stop damaging oil production in the sacred lands of the deserts, oceans and mountains. Protests against the development of lands held sacred by the indigenous people, who themselves have been set aside on lands thought useless, and now find those same “useless” lands are not only full of mysticism and history, but oil, minerals, or some other perceived riches.

It is time to stop! It is time to look at the signs that are “in our faces” and reverse our global destruction and instead take a stand to help the Mother.  It’s time to join the connected people and heed their warnings. Mother Earth will continue to react to the poison, disrespect and abuse. Floods, fires, earthquakes, destructive weather and drought are all her attempt to get our attention… the problem is the powers that be… the big production companies don’t care about anything but the all mighty dollar.

Personally I feel helpless. Together we can have a voice. Together we may be able to effect a change. Corporations with deep pockets will still be able to sway politicians to give away these sacred lands. Would we be willing to lay down our lives, give up our freedom, to stand up against “the Man”? Would we be willing to stand hand in hand with those entrusted to protect the Mother? Would we be willing to take a minute to sign a petition to have our voices heard? We are not the ones who are helpless. Our world… Mother Earth… Pachamama .. however you call her is the one who is helpless. We must commit to heal… no longer ravage and destroy our “home”

Two Middle Aged Women Travel Alone

So I always ask myself… What’s the worst that could happen?  Next thing I know my mind is off on a nervous stream of random thoughts… and I promise they are not all good. There is always the flat tire in the middle of the desert while four wheeling, the blown hose when there is no service station or parts store within a hundred miles, being held up, car stolen by some rogue police men in a far away country… hell any of these things can and have happened right here in the US.

Some people think we are crazy! What on Earth are two middle aged women gonna do out there on the road, over-landing in “third world” countries… if something happens? I have never let my fears and nervous thoughts dictate where I am going to go, what I am going to take, what might happen to me. Quite the opposite. I let the fears keep me safe. I proceed with caution and good common sense. If I let the nervous jitters stop me I would never set foot outside my own house… hell maybe not even get out of bed.

Our plans for the end of this year are slowly gathering momentum and we are beginning to make lists, planing our financial well being, checking and double checking supplies. I spend at least an hour of everyday online, asking questions to those who are out there living the LIFE we only are dreaming of… gathering tid-bits on how to rig our Adventure Cruzer for over-landing… learning from others misfortunes. The best part is compiling the “BUCKET LIST”.

Everyday someone comes up to one of us and asks us if we are sure this is really what we want to do? The answer is simply, “yes or the stress is going to kill us”. Face it we are not getting any younger. The things we like to do take good health and strong bodies and time. Our life now is so stressful, we have so much “stuff”and so little time. We have been locked in the same career for over 25 years… it is time for a change.

Doubt

There is no bigger obstacle than doubt. If the mighty explorers of the past ever listened when their peers doubted them… we might all be living on a very small and overcrowded continent. Planes would not streak across our skies everyday. The moon might still be made of green cheese. We might all still be using oil lamps and yelling from mountain tops to get our messages out.

When I was young, people including myself had doubts I’d make it to my 21st birthday… say hello now to 54! My life has been full of doubts, mostly from those around me, and like those explorers, I took on those doubts as a personal challenge.

In my present life we are starting to sell off everything we own and planning our getaway. Doubt?! OMG our minds are full of doubt… and on some days we have to pinch ourselves and slap ourselves out of the funk surrounding this doubt. We have planned carefully. Never in 25 years together has anything that challenged us, not been surmounted, conquered and accomplished with a little faith and hard work. We live for our dreams… as dreams are our stepping stones into our futures.

Doubt can be healthy or a huge detriment. It depends on how you approach it. We all have a grand purpose in our lives… it’s in our DNAs. We can choose to let doubt run our life or we can choose to take it in stride and take little steps forward around it. Doubt is a thought, an opinion, but don’t let it become a lack of action or something so powerful that you’re life stops

Mr Jiggles… a Childhood Memory

When I was a very young child, I am guessing 4 or 5, we had an old black man who lived in a small little shack situated on the edge of the drainage canal by the truck yard. I remember he seemed quite small compared to other adults I knew, and in Baltimore, in the late 60’s, the fact that he was a black man in a predominately white neighborhood, stood out more than anything.

Mr Jiggles was a kind old man and would sit on his porch swing in the heat and humidity of a summer evening and play his harmonica. The sound of the harmonica would drift over the sound of the traffic from the main street. Beside his house he had an old truck tire full of dirt that he grew tomatoes in. I remember he would wonder up and down the alleyway selling them for 5 cents a piece. Maybe that is how he made a living since I can’t ever remember a time when he wasn’t sitting on his porch swing.

The memories of a child. The tainted memories from an era of hatred and bigotry, instilled on me by the adults I looked up to.

Mr Jiggles… now that I look back… had a very hard life. My memories of him are nothing more that those mentioned above. If I was to meet this kind sole today, I wonder if I would have the same impressions of this gentle little man? Would I pity him? His life was simple… yet incredibly hard… but he always seemed happy.

The last memory I have of Mr Jiggles was a city crew tearing down his little shack and chucking all the items from inside into a garbage truck. Mr Jiggles was gone… his music could still be heard late in the evening, on a humid summer night… if you sat still enough and listened.

Daily Prompt

via Daily Prompt: Jiggle

Stock photo from The West Virginia Gazette

The Artist’s House on The Sea

The third stop on our journey was The Artist’s House on The Sea, on Isla Colón. We packed up to head out from Un Puerto Particular via water taxi back to the main island of Colón. We notified Filberto of our arrival and planned to meet him at the dock at 13:00. Filberto said he would be driving a Kia Double Cab and wearing a leather hat. He said we wouldn’t be able to miss him. In Island time he showed, as planned, and he was wearing a top hat made of leather… no doubt he made it. He is an eccentric type of fella. His thick accent was easy to listen to. He carried himself well. On the short ride to our new home he told us a quick synopsis of his life. Recommended eating establishments and told us how to get about.

Upon arriving we entered a small mud path that was lined with garbage. He explained that the neighbor was piling it there to eventually claim the property for himself… some convoluted law about him using the property that eventually he could claim it as his own since the owner didn’t care to take care of it? We were getting used to seeing large garbage piles sitting about… this was not the act of nature but of man.

Shaking off the vision, we entered into Filberto’s domain. There was a small wood planked walkway that lead to a charming three story building. Once inside he showed us his works of art. He told us about building this house and his own house 300 mts off the main house. We have left Kansas Dorothy. The home was basically three large bedrooms with three baths and one stand-up shower on the main level. The bathroom on the second level has a shower that you sit on the toilet to use. The third floor bath is tucked away in a small slanted closet, good for children but an adult might find it difficult to use. The main level has the cooking area. Stove, shower, fridge, table and chairs and a small washing machine. Totally open to the world.

On each level there was an eclectic assortment of art work. Filberto gave us a tour and explained each one, where he found it or where his inspiration came from. His art was expressive and down right strange… but totally reflected his demeanor and personality. The more I watched him, listened to him and grew to respect his choice of lifestyle, I couldn’t shake my grandfathers image from my head.

He left us and departed to his home on the water in a small Zodiac inflatable boat… that no longer was inflated but served his purpose of traveling to his small home on The Sea. His home was now ours…

Day Two The Arival

It took twenty six hours to arrive in Bocas del Toro. We can’t really complain since it only cost $350 USD to get here flying first class all the way. Airline miles make most of our travels free but sometimes you have to take the available flights for the least amount of miles. Occasionally that means long layovers, getting in in the middle of the night and very little sleep. Another perk I would strongly recommend is a good credit card with perks like airline VIP club entrances. This really makes such long layovers more enjoyable instead of sitting in the terminal listening to the same announcements over and over. They allow you to have a private space, good food, free drinks and good WIFI.

After a total of about 4 11/2 hours of sleep we went to Nature Air for the final leg of our journey. There were 16 of us on a twenty seater prop plane. The wind had picked up and the thunder heads were building. The flight was quite bumpy as we flew our way between the fluffy clouds which gave the effect of flying a toy plane through a cotton candy machine.

We arrived safe and fashionably late… Island time. The immigration and customs was all in the same room and consisted of 2 old computers, a fingerprint machine and a guy who derived a bit of pleasure searching all you luggage, joking about what he found with his partner. When he was satisfied with all your belongings and was sure we weren’t gonna blow up the Island or smuggle in contraband he repackaged our items and sent us out of the room.

We went into the second room of the airport and were immediately inundated with taxi drivers wanting to take us to the town docks, arrange snorkeling and each vying to be our personal tour guides for our time in Bocas. Note: never take the first or second offer, the prices get a bit less by the third or forth guy.

TONY whisked us away in a taxi to a bar and restaurant right on the water arranged us a water taxi and told us he could arrange anything we needed for the rest of our trip. One thing to note about us… we don’t normally dig on “touristy things”, we’d rather experience wherever we are on it’s own terms. Exploring the people and customs. Trying to sniff out expats who live there. We find they generally will steer you to the local haunts and hook you up with a good local who will not take advantage of the gringos.

Welcome to Isla Sorte and Bambuda Lodge.