Sunday, January 27, 2019

Boomers Blog About the Sunshine State, Current Events and 2018 in Review

Hub and I spent the last 2 1/2 weeks in Florida enjoying the grandkids and balmy weather. We spent a lot of time visiting friends and relatives who moved down here permanently or have embraced the snowbirds lifestyle and winter in the Sunshine State. More than a few inherited places from parents. And it seems the entire state is under construction to accommodate the influx - roads, housing developments, businesses, schools. Homes are built and people quickly fill them. The Florida allure recently hit one of our own boomer bloggers…Jennifer, of Unfold And Begin, likes to write about trying new things and starting over but it's not just something that she writes about. It's something that she does regularly. Read about her latest adventure in Time To Get Out of a Rut.

Ups and downs come with the territory called "life," points out Carol Cassara at A Healing Spirit, in a beautiful, short post that gives us all something to think about.  

The news is a constant in our lives. Sometimes we can predict how current events will impact our lives, and other times we have no idea how recent developments will effect us months and years from today. The recent partial government shutdown got Tom at Sightings Over Sixty to wonder -- suppose the government stopped paying Social Security benefits. How long could he go . . . how long could we go, before we got into real financial trouble? And if you think that's impossible, you should know that a lot of early retirees are jumping to take Social Security benefits as soon as they can, at age 62, not so much because they need the money, but because they're afraid the money will run out if they wait much longer. Check out Counting on Social Security? to find out the latest on Social Security funding and what we can do to "fix" the problems.

On A The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the top consumer stories of 2018  They include the Trump administration’s continued decimation of consumer and environmental protections and a bright spot – the Democrats taking over the U.S. House of Representatives which will help curb President Trump’s excesses.

Thanks for taking a few minutes of your time to stop by the Boomer Blogs this week. I hope everyone enjoys a peaceful week filled with activities that make you happy.  

Monday, January 21, 2019

Good Samaritans?

Samaritan: a person who is generous in helping people in distress. 


It was mid-afternoon and hottish. Not tropical heat hot, but the Florida sun can be intense when the thermometer hovers in the 70s. Hub and I walked from our rental cottage in Lake Worth to the downtown area, eager to savor a late lunch. Not much car traffic along Federal Highway, a busy thoroughfare early morning and evening, and mid-day almost devoid of pedestrians. We were the only foot travelers until encountering another fellow trekker.

Strolling along we approached a woman pushing herself with a rollator - a walker with a seat - moving at an agonizingly slow pace.  She appeared exhausted and struggled to put one foot in front of another.

“Can we help you?” I asked. The woman was neatly dressed in a purple skirt, pair of flats, a deep red top, black jacket and a purple hat that covered all but a few wisps of her curly gray hair. 

“Oh, I am so tired,” she whispered slowly and distinctly. “I need a little push.”

“We can help,” I responded. She maneuvered herself into the seat of the walker and placed her feet on the walker’s bar.

“Where are you going?”

“To see my son.”

“Where does he live?”

“Sixth Street. I think. I just need a little push. Thank you.”

The next cross street was Sixth. At the corner we paused.

“Do you know where he lives?”

“This way,” and she pointed left. We crossed the street and walked one block. The woman hesitated and looked around. It became apparent she had no idea where her son lived.

“Can we call your son?”

“No. He has my phone. The phone is dead. I am bringing him my charger,” and, rummaging through her pocketbook, showed us her phone charger.

Further discussion elicited the information that she had taken the bus from Delray Beach - she had a free bus pass - and her son lived in Lake Worth. Where had she gotten off the bus? How far had she walked? She did not know, now confused and disoriented. 

“May I look through your pocketbook for the number of a person we can call to help you?” She agreed.

I scanned through a notebook found in her purse. Questioning the woman, Cessandra by name, we learned there were no other children, relatives or friends, except cousins living out of state. She provided her son’s name, and hub attempted to locate information on him online, with no success.

We steered the woman under a tree offering some relief from the sun and I secured water from a nearby business.

 Cessandra needed additional help hub and I could not provide. We called the police. 

A few minutes later a patrol car pulled up. We briefed the patrolman and he proceeded to question Cessandra. What is your name?…Date of birth…Your son’s name?…Do you have any ID? (She had an old driver’s license with an old address)…Do you know your current address? (She did)…Your son’s address? (She did not)…Where does he work? (She did not know.) His date of birth? (She knew the month and day, but was unsure of the year)…How long has he lived in Lake Worth? (She did not know) She had been to his house once but could not remember where it was located…the patrolman accessed a computer in his patrol car and spoke with unknown persons on the phone. 

The policeman could not find any information on Cessandra’s son. I suspect her son was staying with friends in Lake Worth and had no permanent address, phone, or recent ID. 

There was nothing more Hub and I could do. We bid good-bye to the woman, assured her she would be taken good care of, and continued into town.

I doubt Cessandra hooked up with her son that afternoon. Most likely the police transported her to a local bus stop where she boarded a bus for home. It would be her son’s responsibility to connect with his mother. Meanwhile she would be safe at home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Costa Rica - the allure of an ex-pat paradise

I am recovering from a whirl-wind family adventure - hiking, zip lining, eating, swimming, beach time, pool time, shopping time, nap time interspersed with tour and travel time - to the Central American paradise of Costa Rica, as ex-pats enthusiastically call their Costa Rican home. A place far from the 24/7 hammering of almost-all negative news, news overwhelmingly US-centric (yes, there is a world out there beyond America’s borders), a welcome omission.

After our family journey hub and I spent five days at a secluded retreat - the home of friends who traded their suburban Philadelphia residence for a mountain in the middle of the jungle, their place outfitted with a modern three bedroom house, pool and two kitchens - one indoor and one outdoor - overlooking the Pacific Ocean. My only issue was the 1-1/4 mile winding dirt road up the mountain. Four wheel drive necessary. No kidding. Driving down the mountain one afternoon we encountered a couple and their car stranded on the side of the road. The car refused to chug up the mountain, the route characterized by steep inclines, rocks and hairpin turns. Our host contacted help…meanwhile we continued into town to watch the sun disappear into the blue Pacific waters (and take a few pictures), devour dinner at a beach bar, and be entertained with folk and country music performed by a band of three - all ex-pats.

Rocky mountain road. Most main roads are paved, most side roads are not. Photo by Jim Fava

Photo by Jim Fava

I met many Americans (and some Canadians) who now call Costa Rica home. What attracted them to Costa Rica? The country revealed: 

* Stable political system and no military. 

* Respect for human rights. 

* High literacy rate. 

* Regard for the environment and a concerted push for eco-tourism. 

* Availability of modern health care. If you might be thinking about cosmetic surgery, check out Costa Rica…

* Diverse economy - tourism (#1), agriculture, manufacturing.

* Tropical climate featuring hot weather, intense sun, equal hours of daylight and darkness, and sometimes stifling humidity (no place is perfect!). Two seasons - the wet season and the dry season, six months of each. 

* Spanish speaking ability a plus, but not necessary. 

* Varied terrain - mountains, high Central Valley, coastal beaches, flat on the east coast but not so much on the Pacific side. 

* Jungles abundant with trees and flowers, animals, fruits and vegetables rare in colder climates - unless shipped in. 

* Easy-on-the-budget prices. Although beginning to be overrun by foreign visitors and prices in some areas reflect increasing demand, reasonably priced accommodations, food and amenities abound. But upscale tourists needn‘t despair - five star digs exist and more are planned. 

The Costa Rican way of life - pura vida - is laid-back and easygoing compared to the American go-go lifestyle. Type A personalities may find it too unhurried and get frustrated that things are not done NOW.

I asked ex-pats why Costa Rica? Answers varied. They visited as tourists and returned…came for business…researched retirement alternatives and discovered their paradise…saw opportunity and started businesses, are self-employed (many artists) or telecommute…some live in Costa Rica full time, others split the year between their home country and Costa Rica - an intriguing alternative to American meccas (especially for retirees) like Florida, Arizona and Nevada. And no, hub and I are not considering an ex-pat lifestyle…

Fishing boat on the Pacific.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Ice cream not available everywhere, but enjoyed as much as possible!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Blog Bummer

I give up. Having trouble with my blog, I spent too much time recently attempting to troubleshoot. With no luck. In fact I have a bad feeling things are now worse than before my misguided efforts.

On the positive side new posts appear on my blog. On the negative side folks communicate they no longer receive them. I cannot respond when readers leave comments, and recently no comments appear on my blog. I don’t know if people stopped commenting, or cannot comment due to some flaw in behind-the-scenes blog directives, or something else is going on.

Tech-wise, relating to my blog issues, I have no idea what I am talking about. I am not a computer geek, or geek of any kind.

For readers out there, I want to let you know I am trying to fix what seems to be unfixable. By me. I need a computer geek knowledgeable in blogger to de-mystify my blog.

Meanwhile I write, I post, I get frustrated, I search for solutions…

Sunday, January 6, 2019

On the road again...and again...and again

It was late afternoon when we shuffled into our hotel, travel-weary and hungry. The alarm rang at home at 3:45 AM and a car picked us up at 4:15 for the drive to the airport. Two flights later, with a three hour layover in between, hub, Mom and I arrived at our destination - Costa Rica. We succumbed to our stomachs, consuming our first local cuisine. Then, finally, much-needed sleep.

The rest of our family group of 16 straggled in throughout the next day. We spent a few hours exploring the city of San Jose, browsing artisan and food markets. All but the last two arrivals convened for dinner.

My sister and niece arrived at the Philadelphia airport in the wee hours of the morning for a 6:00 AM flight. A cheerful customer service agent inquired, “Would you prefer a full refund or would you like to reschedule your flight?” - unfortunately there were no seats available on flights out for two or three days. Their flight to Orlando cancelled, the excuse bad weather. Spirit Air emailed customers with the update at 2:00 AM. 

On leaving the customer service desk the rep said, “Have a nice day!”

My enterprising niece grabbed her cell phone. She found two seats on an Avianca flight (to Costa Rica with a change in El Salvador) leaving from Newark Airport later that afternoon, and booked two seats. My sister and niece took an Uber to Newark and waited…and waited…most of the day for their flight. But they arrived in Costa Rica in time to join the family on our Road Scholar Costa Rican family adventure.

My sister will NEVER fly Spirit again.

Ten days, 16 folks between the ages of 3 and 93 (Mom turned 94 during the trip), two tour guides, one tour bus, five hotels, lots of food and physical activities…and we were on the road again…and again…and again!

This snake crossed my path while hiking. It is venomous, 
but I didn't know it when I stopped to snap the picture.
According to our guide:
"Black and yellow...kill the fellow." 
Mom resting on one of our hikes through the jungle.
Colorful wildlife seen everywhere!

Carnival time in San Jose, Costa Rica