Monday, April 27, 2015

Retirement Before the Age of 59: WHO SAYS WE HAVE TO WORK UNTIL WE ARE 66 YEARS OLD? OR 70?

The Turrell Riverhouse -- Our Dream Home
     Achieving the American Dream was my goal from the time I was in my teens and I worked hard my entire life to reach it. I believed that if I worked my forty-plus hours each week, paid into the Social Security system, put money into a savings account, and set aside money in a supplemental retirement account, I would be living comfortably when I retired. I was taught by my parents, my teachers, and my co-workers that I must work full-time for 45 to 50 years in order to live the American Dream and retire well-off. But, did I really want to work THAT many years?

Work Until I'm 66 Years Old?

     To be properly prepared for retirement, we were taught, we should work until we were at least 66 years old to start collecting... see more by clicking HERE
Healthy Living in Mexico -- Retired Before the Age of 59!

Friday, April 24, 2015


Yoga in the Garden Studio 

(Estudio El Jardin)

Jon and I Learned the Basic Scorpion Position
     Jon and I are new to yoga, really just beginning to learn how beneficial this exercise is for our health. We decided to get serious about attending yoga classes regularly in Sayulita, a town with yoga classes available on every other block. We knew Micki Cunningham taught yoga as well as the Zumba classes we attended each week (see my blog post dated 3/20/15). So we decided to give Micki's yoga classes a try and we were glad we did! What a great workout!
The Garden View from the Open Side of the Yoga/Zumba Studio
     The garden setting of the yoga studio is soothing with one long side open to the view of flowering tropical plants, the dance of hummingbirds flitting from blossom to blossom, and the music of birds singing. Estudio El Jardin (meaning "The Garden Studio" in Spanish) is about one block from the ocean so the sea breeze drifts in through the garden, helping to cool us while we exercised.
Learning that Flexibility Includes "Yoga Toes"
   The last week that we were in Sayulita this season, we decided to go to all six of Micki's classes, one each morning at 9:00AM, Monday through Saturday. Micki teaches yoga on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday she teaches Zumba and on Saturday she finishes the week with Zumba Toning, a real workout (see my blog post dated 3/3/15). After we had attended all six of her classes in one week, we were really feeling it! We felt stronger and healthier, but also very tired! How does Micki do this every week? In her 70's (I think she would be okay with me disclosing her age), she is very strong and has amazing endurance! She teaches the importance of balance, flexibility, and strength-training in the aging body. She is a real inspiration to me and Jon, and to many others who are fortunate enough to attend her classes in Sayulita. 
El Jardin (The Garden)
     Estudio El Jardin, Micki’s Zumba studio is located on the corner of Manual Navarette and Calle Caracol. To find it, pass the Iguana Refuge Tree and keep going up the cobbled driveway to the first gate. The cost is 50 pesos (about $3.50 US) per class, or you can purchase a card for 5 classes at 200 pesos and get the 6th class gratis. Verify her class schedule by contacting her at 329-291-3540 (Mexico Phone) or 322-149-2605 (USA or Canada Cell).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SAYULITA TRAILER PARK & BUNGALOWS: Thies & Cristina's 50th Anniversary Party

Thies and Cristina Enjoyed the Party
     Thies and Cristina Rohlfs, the owners and on-site managers of Sayulita Trailer Park and Bungalows, celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on April 8 with a dinner party at Cafe Arte. They were surrounded by family from Mexico City and Washington state. Also joining in the festivities were long-time RV Park and Bungalow residents from Ontario, B.C., and other provinces in Canada, from Oregon, California, Colorado, Alaska, and other states in the U.S., and our rv park manager, Paco. Everyone enjoyed sharing in the celebration of Thies and Cristina's 50 year marriage and partnership!
Thies Poured Tequila Himself, Making Sure the Guests were Happy
Jon, Diane, and Joe Shared Some Laughs
     Music kept the party lively. A trio played jazz and latin music that had the guests dancing. Thies and Cristina's son, a professional singer, and granddaughter sang a few lovely duets. Their granddaughter also sang with her boyfriend, both from Washington, while he played the guitar. Both were very talented and obviously love music. I wished they would have played more Simon and Garfunkle songs for us!
     A gift and greeting card were presented to the guests of honor, a combined congratulations from the group of RVers and bungalow residents. Cristina opened them and held up the painting, created by a local artist, for all to see. Everyone clapped to congratulate Cristina and Thies!
     Several long-time RV residents came up to the mike to express their appreciation to Thies and Cristina for creating and maintaining this wonderful place, the Sayulita Trailer Park and Bungalows. From what I've been told, it was one of the first lodgings opened in Sayulita, about 30 years ago. Some of the winter residents in the RV park have been coming for over 15 years and it has become their second home. We have been spending time there in our motorhome during the winters since 2008 and plan to return there for many more years. The town, the people, and the Trailer Park have made Sayulita a second home to us as well. Thank you, Thies and Cristina! Happy 50th Anniversary!
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BELLA AT THE BEACH: A Dog's Life in Mexico

She Digs It!
Bella Loves to Dig for Sand Crabs
     Bella is our five year old long-haired miniature dachshund, full of energy and always ready for a walk on the beach. An important part of our "Healthy Living in Mexico", she lets us know when it's time to get up out of our chairs and take a walk. Without her encouragement, I'm sure we would not reach our 10,000 steps most days. The truth is, Jon and I walk.  Bella runs from crab hole to crab hole, sticking her nose in each one so she can sniff for crab scent, snorting sand the whole time. If she gets a good whiff of crab, she digs for all she's worth. We usually continue walking while she digs or we would never get our heart rate up to a healthy level. Two or three minutes of digging without rousting a sand crab and she abandons it, running full-tilt to catch up with us, her long ears flying behind her.
"Why Won't This Sand Crab Run?"
     Bella makes us laugh when we watch her play with the sand crabs. She noses them to make them run and the chase is on! Most often the crabs will run straight into the ocean surf where they know they are safe. Occasionally a brave little crab will stand up to Bella, refusing to play her game of "Run, Crab, Run". She knows enough not to mess with those pincer claws so she must have experienced a pinch on the nose at one time. If the crab refuses to run, she turns her back on him and walks away as if to say, "You're no fun". Bella's comedy routine never ceases to entertain us; we laugh and shake our heads, enjoying the silliness. I notice other people watching and laughing at her and I think of all of the people that Bella has made smile over the years. What an asset she is to our "Healthy Living"!
Bella Hangs Out with the Local Beach Dogs
     At times, Bella will hang out with the local beach dogs, trying to be nonchalant in her manner as she lays in the cool sand near the pack, though a safe distance away. She knows the #1 Rule of living in a foreign country: Hang out where the locals hang out.
     Bella Plays with Her "Cousin" Cassie in San Pancho, Nayarit
     Sometimes Bella feels playful and will wrestle with the local dogs. She had a good time playing with another long-haired miniature dachshund named Cassie. Cassie is also from Oregon and now lives at Roberto's Bungalows in San Pancho, Nayarit with her mom and dad, Jane and Earl Miller. Cassie decided to "steal" Bella's little monkey and they ended up having a good time playing tug-o'-war on a lounge chair while we all watched and laughed at their antics. Bella demonstrated the #2 Rule of living in a foreign country: Interact with the locals. 
Bella is Ready to "GO" in Her Pet Carrier
Bella Wants to Take Her Stuffed Animal in Her Carrier

     Always ready to "GO" on an adventure, when Bella sees her pet carrier out of the closet and set on the floor, she wants to get in it immediately. She knows that carrier means we are going on a bus, a plane, or a water taxi and she wants to be included in the fun. Once the door to her carrier is zipped up and we step onto a bus, there is not a peep (or a bark) out of her. She seems to know that she is supposed to be "invisible" on public transportation.
Bella, Terry & Jon at the Waterfall in Yelapa, Jalisco
     Bella goes just about everywhere with us in Mexico so she gets to go on many adventures. Of course, that means we can't go on typical tours to places like Yelapa since dogs are not allowed on organized tours. Instead, we took a much less expensive water taxi to this primitive village where the only access is by boat. Bella happily rode in her carrier until we docked, then hopped out ready for a hike up to the waterfall. Bella had a somewhat strenuous walk with us around Yelapa, a town built up the hillsides. We all got a good workout; if Jon and I got our 10,000 steps that day, how many steps did little Bella take with her four short legs? After our hike, we were all relieved to settle at a seafood palapa restaurant on the beach for lunch where Bella quietly and politely waited on the sand under our table for her favorite Mexican treat, a totopo (fried tortilla chips). Rule #3 of living in a foreign country: Eat where the locals eat.
Bella Patiently Waits for a Totopo (Fried Tortilla Chip)
Afternoon Siesta Time in Mexico

     Bella enjoys the lazy afternoons when we take a siesta in the motorhome. We read for a while. We do a little computer work and answer a few emails. I spend a few hours writing. But when 5:00 rolls around, she starts pestering me to close the computer down and get on with our usual routine. "Enough is enough", she seems to say. "We need to get outside and throw the ball".  She knows when we get the wine glasses out for happy hour, she will get to chase her ball and get treats when she retrieves it... a healthy, relaxing evening ritual. 
Bella, the Retrieving Dachshund
           Many evenings, we settle in our chairs on the beach to watch the sunset. Inevitably, Bella ends the day digging for sand crabs... another "Healthy Living in Mexico" day.
Sunset in Mazatlan -- Digging for Sand Crabs
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

BICYCLE TRIP TO THE SAYULITA NURSERY: Challenges of Landscaping without a Pick-Up Truck

Plant Shopping By Bicycle, Fence Building By...?

My Bike Basket Holds Two Bougainvillea Plants 
     Gardening and nursery shopping are two of the things that I've missed while living in an RV full-time. Since Jon and I have decided that we will be staying at the Sayulita Trailer Park for three to four months each year, I have been itching to plant some tropical plants in our little RV site. And how about sprucing it up with a bamboo privacy fence and a bamboo/tarp shade cover? But we don't own a car or pick-up truck! How do we haul materials for projects like this?
Jon is Willing to Haul Tropical Plants For Me
     When we decided to become full-time RVers last year, we made some dramatic life changes. The biggest change came about when we decided to sell our car and pick-up truck. This would be the first time we had traveled to Mexico in our motorhome without a tow-car. Instead, we decided we would become healthier by riding our bicycles and walking most places.
Colorful Entrance to Sayulita's Nursery
      The Sayulita Nursery (Vivero Sayulita's) was only a short bike ride away from our home at the RV Park, about one mile each way. I convinced Jon to ride with me so we could haul several plants home on our bikes. Jon is such a good sport about going along with my ideas for getting exercise! We each have good baskets installed on the backs of our bikes, so I figured that we could each carry two one-gallon pots comfortably. Riding bicycles to the nursery added another activity to our "healthy living in Mexico". 
     Jon might not admit it, but I think he actually enjoyed shopping at the Sayulita Nursery as much as I did. There were so many beautiful tropical plants in all shades of green, purple and pink that it was difficult to choose only 4 plants. We each chose a different color of bougainvillea and then agreed on two complimentary plants with purple and green leaves. 
I Like this Purple Bougainvillea the Best!
     I admit that the two bougainvillea plants were heavier than I expected on the back of my bicycle. I was glad that our beach-side RV Park was downhill from the nursery so I was able to coast most of the way home. But, before I could start planting, we had to finish our other two landscaping projects: our bamboo and reed fence and our bamboo and tarp shade cover.
Local Men Building the Bamboo Fence Framework
     We hired some local Mexican men to bring bamboo, natural vines, concrete, and other supplies needed for our privacy fence in the backyard of our RV site. As a retired Building Contractor, Jon enjoyed supervising this job. It was fun to watch how the men used plastic tubes filled with water for levels, natural vines from the jungle to wrap the bamboo joints, and five-gallon buckets to haul the wet cement. Who needs a pick-up truck? The work was done in a calm, peaceful manner and the fence looked beautiful and natural when it was finished. Our backyard was framed--now I could begin my garden creation with plants and treasures from the beach. Maybe next season Jon will lay a brick patio...
Fence of Reed Mats Tied to the Bamboo Frame
          The side patio in our RV site was a really sore subject: we could not get our RV awning to extend due to a poorly placed palm tree. The birds sat in the palm tree and s--t on our heads, chairs, and patio rug. Jon had a real problem to solve if I was going to agree to stay at the Sayulita Trailer Park: How to build a patio cover with no Home Depot in town and no pick-up truck to go get materials with?
Local Men Built the Awning Frame from Bamboo
      Jon designed a bamboo frame to be set in concrete next to our patio. The local Mexican men studied his drawing and set out to gather more bamboo, jungle vines, and concrete. It was a pleasure to watch Jon work with these men as he speaks enough Spanish to be able to communicate with them and they enjoyed that. When he needed to, he would use SpanishDict on the Computer, a very good Spanish/ English translator program to create a Spanish sentence for him. I could see him practicing it in his head for several minutes before he would go outside and continue his conversation with the workers. I know they appreciated that this gringo went the extra mile to speak to them in their own language. 

Jon Relaxes: The Awning is Up!
   In the meantime, Jon had ordered a heavy-duty beige tarp with eyelets from a specialty company in Puerto Vallarta, "Lonas Y Toldos Vallarta". They made it to his exact specifications communicated via e-mail, then we rode the bus to Puerto Vallarta to pick it up. Who needs a pick-up truck!
     We couldn't wait to stretch it between the motorhome roof and our new bamboo framework. We enjoyed it for more reasons than we expected:
*No more bird s--t on our heads! 
*A nice shady area to sit and read in the afternoon. 
*Rainy day cover for our chairs and table
*Our next-door neighbor's RV was shaded and cooler, too! 
     Our awning is easily detachable so we can take it down and store it in the RV until we return next season to our favorite RV park: Sayulita Trailer Park.
My Favorite Purple Bougainvillea
     I've planted my two bougainvillea plants, four bamboo starts, a red rose, a candy-strip geranium, and two tropical plants that I have yet to learn the names of. The rains will come to Sayulita soon and hopefully, will keep our plants alive until we return next season. All of those plants cost me 160 pesos (about $11.00 U.S.), so even if they don't all survive till we return, I received my money's worth in enjoyment this year. It's fun to "homestead" a little piece of the earth, even in an RV Park. And, we didn't need a car or pick-up truck to do it!

I invite you to get a free sample of my eBook "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" by clicking at: "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" at .

You can follow our adventures at

Friday, April 3, 2015


More Than A Whale Watching Adventure!

Fun on the Hidden Beach Inside Marieta Island
     When our daughter, Michelle, and her family came to visit us in Sayulita for a week, we were looking for a fun family adventure. Our granddaughter, Juliet, had just turned one year old, so Zip-Lining was out. We decided to take the Chica Locca Whale Watching Boat Tour and it was a great decision! The boat was large enough to give everyone plenty of room to stretch out and had lots of cushions, pillows, and hammocks to relax on. The Chica Locca is a trimaran, so it was stable enough that we hardly noticed when the wind and waves picked up in the afternoon.

Time to Lounge Around & Sunbath
     On the boat ride out to Marieta Island, there was plenty of time to lounge on the decks, either sunbathing in the open areas or relaxing in the shade. The crew was very attentive, making sure everyone always had their drink of choice in hand. Snacks and lunch were served throughout the day so we felt pampered and satisfied. The gentle motion of the boat as we motored the 20 nautical miles out to sea lulled us all into a state of lazy contentment. 
Our First Whale Sighting!
     Suddenly, one of the crew members called out "Whale!" and we all looked in the direction he was pointing to see a humpback whale surface nearby. It turns out that there were three whales traveling together, a mother whale, her baby, and an escort whale. Our captain turned the boat to stay beside them for a while and we were excited to see the mama whale spout!
Thar She Blows!
     We were lucky to see two groups of whales on this boat trip. In each group, there were three whales, always a mother, baby, and escort. The crew member narrating was knowledgeable about how to tell which whale was which by markings on the skin. Thank goodness one of the crew members is a good photographer and captured some photos of the whales...not an easy task.
Time to Suit Up With Snorkels & Life Jackets!
The Chica Locca Anchored at Marieta Island!
Snorkeling on the Way to the Hidden Beach
     I was happy to be the Grandma that day, staying on board the Chica Locca boat with little Juliet. We stretched out together in one of the hammocks in the shade and let the motion of the gentle waves rock us. What a blissful, relaxing nap we had! 
Soothing Motion of the Boat Rocked Us to Sleep
     We had a nice little nap while everyone else snorkeled to the island and played silly games for the camera on the hidden beach (also called Playa de Amor or Beach of Love) in the interior of the island. 
Jon, Michelle, and Chris Jump for Joy
     On the return boat ride from Marieta Island, everyone got lazy and happy with drinks and snacks. Some lounged on the front of the Chica Locca, enjoying the sun and water spray. Others leaned back on cushions in the shade and enjoyed the ride, the view of the bay, and the warmth of the perfect Riviera Nayarit weather. Soon the boat stopped for those that were still energetic so they could play in the water on kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards, and on the water-slides from the boat's upper deck. 
Continue Lounging or Go Off the Water-Slide?
That is a Big Decision!
     There was something for everyone on this day-long adventure. We rested, we played, we whale-watched, we enjoyed time together with our families and friends, and we met new friends. We were very happy that we had chosen the Chica Locca adventure.
Wonderful Memories of Our Family Time on the Chica Locca Whale Watching Tour
     For more information about the Chica Locca Tours and to make reservations, see . Their website shows lots of good photos of the Chica Locca boat moored at the La Cruz marina, as well as some of guests and crew members having fun onboard. They also have offices in Sayulita, Bucerias, and San Pancho where reservations can be made in person. I highly recommend this adventure to Marieta Island!

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Traveling in Mexico", now available on Click HERE to "Look Inside" the book.  
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