baby boomer

Winging It

As you read this blog entry Mike and I should be on a plane, headed from Alicante, Spain to Oslo, Norway on the first leg of our journey.  It is time for us to move on once again.

We have now been traveling internationally for three years with very little downtime.  We have been traveling and sightseeing and overall meeting some extraordinary people. It has been an amazing time.  It has however produced what Mike and I are calling ‘travel fatigue’.

We are weary of packing and repacking our bags; we are tired of trying to find a new place to live and spending hours in researching and exploring options; we are struck with surprise at how unfriendly some folks are when faced with a real expat and lastly we feel isolated from family and friends.  Traveling is therefore no longer fun and exciting; it is hard work and a chore to keep moving on.

Before we began this adventure and before I met my husband Mike I had been traveling internationally for years.  I would plan, investigate and organize my vacations well before I departed US shores.  It was fun and exciting to go places I had never been before.  These vacations were a chance to use my passport; a break from my 9 to 5 job and from daily household chores, a break from the weather, a change of scenery; in general a much-needed respite from every day life.  Mostly however these vacations gave me something to look forward too.

Then I turned travel into a job and created The 6 Monthers.  We began to build a brand and to try to monetize our blogs and our names.  We searched for sponsors for our travels and for those who wanted to share our story.  We built a reputation for solid reviewing and sharing of information, and we lost our passion for travel along the way.  No longer is traveling someplace new exciting or fun; travel has been relegated to being work and we spend far too much time worrying about how will we pay for all the excursions we would like to do and looking so far ahead in our travels that we have lost focus on having fun in the place that we are in.  Because we are always looking for the next assignment or the next web series or the next sponsor we are not enjoying the here and now.

One of the major downsides to this travel lifestyle is that we now both feel unfit.  We have both gained weight as we have traveled because we have not been able to have a stable exercise routine, and a stable diet.  The foods and the way of cooking we are used too (nothing fried; oven baked foods only) are not possible in many countries because ovens are not always available to cook in.  Because we have to spend so much time in looking for the next assignment we also tend to spend a lot of time sitting and working instead of walking and exploring.

We are therefore taking this next year to lose some of the weight we have gained while traveling and get fit once again.  And to do that we are going home; home to Olympia, WA.  We have to find that home of course but as usual I’m already working on it and we have some great leads.

During our year off we will be retooling ourselves.  I will most likely be looking for a job to keep me busy and Mike will spend his time exercising, volunteering, and developing and outlining our next adventure.

We are exploring a couple of new ideas that will all include travel in our lives but from completely new and different angles. We know we have proven that you really can live well all over the world on very little money and so we have nothing more to prove as The 6 Monthers.

My newest venture hopefully launched earlier this month; well the blog should be up and running and my first video will be up shortly. I am calling my newest adventure Lean, Mean and Vegan. Mike will be working on another aspect of travel for us which we are tentatively calling; The Lince’s, At Home on the Road.

And yes, we will also be looking for sponsors.

This is however not my last Reflection, far from it.  I have much to remember and reflect upon and many more stories to share about the wonderful places we have traveled too over the years.  Thank you to everyone for reading, following and commenting on my blog stories when the spirit moves you.

I had Mike come up with a toast that I will use at the end of all my videos going forward. It seems appropriate here to end this entry with it.

“A toast…, to new friends, to a healthier way of living, and safe travels for one and all. Cheers!”

Florence Lince

Study Abroad

I recently read a story about a Baby Boomer who went back to college to get his Ph.D. and he will graduate at the age of 68.  Most people would read that story and simply say ‘good for him’.  I read it and wondered if he will be signing up for any study abroad courses while a student.

Study Abroad is a great way to learn more about a country and its culture and since you will have a student ID you will pay less to enter museums and other attractions.  A study abroad curriculum is geared towards the country being traveled too.  Be it art history classes offered for a trip to Florence, Italy, or culinary arts courses offered while living in Paris, France or even a poetry course offered for a stay in Oxford, England, the courses offered are as varied as the countries visited.  Yes, you might be the oldest student in the room and while many might think this could be a problem I found it to be otherwise; that the students seemed to like having someone older in their midst who they could go to with questions or problems that they didn’t want the instructors to know about.

Be prepared to do all the homework as assigned to you because even though you have paid all your fees, the instructor, or program leader does have the right to remove you from the course during the time out of the country and to send you home again if they deem your behavior to be inappropriate or a detriment to the other students.

I worked at a rather large community college in California for many years and the Study Abroad department was located in my office so not only did I learn about the inner workings of the program but I learned about some of the great countries our students were exposed too.  I’m a huge advocate of this type of travel and I encourage every retiree to sign up for college classes and to participate in a study abroad program.

I was lucky enough, while working at the college to be able to sign up for a semester abroad. There I was, older than most of the instructors, attending courses, doing my homework and living, learning and exploring Greece for 30 glorious days.  It is still an experience I talk about.

There are lots of ways to travel for extended periods of time to other countries.  Study Abroad programs offer you an opportunity to live in countries from 30 days to 3 months; countries as diverse as Italy, Bali, Greece, Australia, Thailand, India, and more.

Retirement should be viewed as a time to do those things you want to do but just didn’t have the time to do before.  For me that means going back to school and getting my degree.  If it also means I’m qualified for Study Abroad courses and I can live in a foreign country for a semester all the better.

Florence Lince

I Might Need a Moving Back to the US Shower

You have heard of Baby Showers and Bridal Showers of course.  I think I have come up with a new category for giving someone a shower; the Welcome Back to the US Shower.  (LOL.  Okay, just kidding.)

The other day Mike and I were reminiscing about some of the household items we had to give up when we left the US that were the hardest for us to let go of.  Items we dearly miss, not because of their value but because of their function in our daily lives and how much easier they made things for us.

These are the items you will find once again in our cupboards when we return to the US;

A vacuum cleaner

Even though I have all tile floors here in Spain and mostly we had all tile or wooden floors in every place we have lived I have to say not being able to vacuum every day makes me crazy.  Here in Spain there is a constant source of dust or sand on the floors.  Literally one needs to sweep or wash the floors here on a daily basis.  The lobby of our apartment building is mopped every second day because of the amount of dust that is on everything here.  It is hard to keep up with it all.  The same problem exists in Panama and other countries we have lived in.  Having a vacuum would just be easier since I could just vacuum whenever I wanted and can keep up with the dust and dirt.  People don’t have a vacuum in many of the places we have lived because the cost to own one is high; there is the cost of the vacuum itself, replacement bags to put in it and then the cost of the electricity to run it.  In countries where most people do not own clothes dryers they most likely won’t own a vacuum either.

A coffee grinder

Okay, Mike and I are coffee snobs.  I will admit that.  When we lived in Olympia, WA, he and I used to have our own coffee grinder and we would head to Batdorf and Bronsons and buy some of the best blends of coffee beans we could afford.  Then we lived in Central America and we were exposed to excellent coffee made from beans from Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.  Our coffee grinder was the last piece of our US life we gave up.  We carried it with us for the first two years of our travels.  I know that’s seriously coffee addictive behavior. Coffee in much of the rest of the world is third rate and not worth drinking.  They drink instant coffee in so many countries that I’d rather drink tea than drink this stuff so we stopped carting around the coffee grinder. We either couldn’t find coffee beans to put in the grinder or the cost was so over the top we just couldn’t justify buying them.

A rice cooker

I might be Italian but I actually like and eat more rice than I do pasta.  I like brown rice best and Mike and I would eat quite a bit of it when we lived in the states.  I had my own rice cooker and used it at least twice a week.  Now that we don’t have a rice cooker I am not making rice nearly as much as I used too.  Of course in many countries around the world they do not sell brown rice so we eat less rice overall.  I have problems with digesting white rice so it’s just not worth eating.  Yes, having a rice cooker is at the top of my list of the items I dearly want once again in my kitchen.

A toaster

When I was growing up and didn’t feel well my grandmother would make me tea and toast.  So I always associated eating toast with feeling better, because I always did after grandma took care of me.  We don’t have a toaster here in Spain; it was broken in the cupboard from a past tenant and the landlord doesn’t seem inclined to replace it.  We don’t buy electronics we are just going to leave behind so we have learned to live without.  This is not the first country we have had no toaster and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  As with a vacuum cleaner not only is the cost of buying the item high for many locals but the cost to run it is high too.  Or maybe they just don’t see the need to have one.  As in most countries we have lived they buy fresh bread on a daily basis.  This isn’t bread that looks like it came from a factory; it is hard crusty bread in a free form loaf, so it’s not the type of bread that would work well in a toaster anyway.

Good Cutlery

When I met Mike he had his own set of cutlery.  The high end type that came in its own butcher block and you could hear a great Ginsu chef calling out when you use them telling you to be careful least you cut off your own finger.  Mike loved that knife set.  I learned how a good knife should filet and effortlessly slide through meat and the difference between a good knife set and the cheesy sets you can find in discount grocery stores.  This will be the item at the top of Mike’s list to have once again in any place we decide to call home.

Don’t worry; I won’t be sending out Shower invitations when we land in the US.  I will however scour the second hand stores looking for all of these things and I know I’ll find them eventually.  Most likely from those who are going to sell everything they own and travel the world for an extended period of time; from people just like us.

Florence Lince

Tourism Tolerance 101

Or, Is Travel Really Good for the Planet?

The simple answer is no.  Travel is destroying the planets resources and in many countries there is no way to recover from this destruction.  Many countries were hit so hard by the economic meltdown that they have turned to tourism as their main income stream which is never sustainable and usually means that the planets biggest ‘users’ go  to poorer countries and use precious resources such as water, electricity and food.

No government however has stopped the madness to give the locals what they need the most, ‘tourism tolerance training 101’.  It is not easy dealing with demanding tourists or tourists from another country.  Even if the tourist isn’t demanding, to the locals who have very little money and who might have never been able to travel away from their home, seeing tourist after tourist coming to their city gives the false illusion that tourists are wealthy and the hostility towards tourism in general begins to build.  I think this is where the crazy notion that all Americans are wealthy comes from.  Mike and I have heard this over and over again from people in almost every country we have been too and on every continent.  They think that all Americans are wealthy which simply isn’t true.  By American standards we are far from wealthy; we just travel smart to make our dollars go further.

This false perception that Americans are wealthy arises because many of the locals in some countries make less than $500 a month and they have never been outside of their own cities let alone explored their own country.  What this mentality has done however is to make locals, who are working for next to nothing in income, have a negative attitude about tourists and how selfish and self-centered they think we are.  In many of these countries the government leaders sold the locals a bill of goods telling them that having tourists and even retiring expats invading their shores would help the economy and therefore they would all make more money.  This is really not the case.

This has lead to some locals not caring if they cheat tourists.  We were in London recently and because the local bus was two hours late in arriving in the London bus station we had to have a taxi in a hurry to get us to the airport instead of having the luxury of using the cab we had hired which was no longer waiting for us.  The dispatch ass who was behind the counter therefore wanted $100 to get us to the airport on time.  We had no choice.  I don’t waste time in wishing people ill but I also hope he’s still sitting on a toilet somewhere.

What the locals also see is crime rising in their cities, water shortages, costs of food and the cost of property rising; costs that wouldn’t be going up if those selling them didn’t realize that tourists and even expats will pay more for these items so they sell them for more to everyone. So locals are now spending more to live in their own countries.  This is not the way to build goodwill.

In Panama we were there when the locals told us that they were being pushed further and further out of the town of Boquete because the cost to live there was too high now that so many expats had swarmed the city.  Many of these families go back generations of living in Boquete and now they are being pushed out.  When tourists and expats have an adverse affect on a local what type of relationship do you think gets built?

Take the recent request from the authorities in Rio, Brazil to its citizens. We are months away from the World Cup and they are already telling people to conserve water because they do not have enough fresh water to accommodate all the tourists who will be coming to watch the games.  If you don’t have the resources why are you hosting the games and making the lives of your own people more stressful than it needs to be?  Why isn’t their government telling the World Cup folks that they need to find some place else to go?  Money!  Lots and lots of money coming into the country from all those fans of the World Cup and no one voluntarily walks away from money.  Especially heads of government no matter the true costs to its own people.

This is a pretty large issue and it’s becoming larger by the day.  Locals are being sold a bill of goods that having tourists invade their shores will equate to a higher income for everyone.  Take the falsehood surrounding cruise ships.  Resistance to cruise ship passengers docking in certain cities is on the rise and in some areas they do not want cruise ships at all.  We have heard locals scoff with comments about those getting off cruise ships who leave nothing behind but waste.  They do not contribute to the local economy because they usually only shop where they are directed to do so; they take tours ascribed by the cruise line or an agent; they don’t eat in a local restaurant since all their meals are included in the price of the cruise.  In fact most cruise passengers buy very little when off the ship besides ice cream or plastic trinkets; most of which are not made locally. There is not a lot of sympathy towards cruise passengers in some places where they get cheated or robbed.  People in some countries where all these ships dock are starving or their children are starving and people do desperate things sometimes to survive.

I have a solution for this problem which I will write about in another piece; Tourist vs. Resident pricing and how to make this work so that the locals really like having tourists around.  The leaders of all these governments forgot lesson one in Tourism Tolerance 101 – there has to be a reason for the locals to like having tourists in their country.   Without a real tangible for the locals to see or to bank on, tourism feeds anger and disgust, indifference and even theft.

I’ve never been one to believe that things cannot be changed for the better.  There is always time to act on positive thoughts and create a system where locals can thrive; where the planet does not suffer more than it needs too; where tourists still feel valued and wanted.  I just hope I am right.

Florence Lince

My Secret Love Affair…

…With a Man Named Rex Stout

I love books. I can, and have spent hours in a book store browsing. When I am ready to buy books I arm myself with a list of my favorite authors and I scan every shelf and every title to see what new treasures I can find waiting for me. Blame my love for a good book on my mother. To keep her five young children quiet, if even for a short time, she would make trips to the local library where we were allowed three books each to take home every week. How I loved those excursions to the local library and as I carried my treasure trove of books to the car I wondered what worlds would open to me that week.

I know this is where my love of travel began. These books that gave me visions and glimpses into parts of the world I had never been too but thought I would like to see one day. Books that took me to Africa on a safari, to Norway to see the Northern Lights, to China to see the great wall, to Greece to see the Parthenon, to Rome to see where gladiators fought, and to learn the mysteries of the great pyramids in Egypt. Books can take you anywhere.

Filling our home with books is what Mike and I do everywhere we live.  These were all waiting to be read.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Filling our home with books is what Mike and I do everywhere we live. These were all waiting to be read. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The only book I have read more than once is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is still true today that this has been the only book I have read more than once. I stand in a book store or a library and I’m overwhelmed with the options of the books around me and I just don’t want to spend my time reading the same books over again. The Secret Garden therefore was as special to me then as it is today.

My reading tastes haven’t really changed all that much from the time I was a kid. I have always loved a good mystery. Be it a murder mystery, a good ghost story or even a good historical whodunit. Yes, as a child I read every Nancy Drew story available and was engrossed. As the years went by I branched out and picked up my first novel written by a man named Rex Stout and I was enthralled with a brainy detective named Nero Wolfe. How I wanted to be that smart about all things. I read every Lawrence Sanders novel and cheered his character Archie McNally. I cried over the first Carol O’Connell novel I read, Judas’ Child, and I keep up with every book she releases to learn more about what Kathy Mallory has in store for us and when will she finally show us her vulnerable side.

I read a lot of true crime novels as well but more than anything I love a good biography including the autobiographical. I have read some great biographies on people as diverse as Frida Kahlo to Ann Boleyn, Harry Houdini to Cary Grant; Genghis Khan to Lee Harvey Oswald; Henry Ford to Edward G. Robinson and Winston Churchill and Ethel Barrymore.

Being surrounded by books just makes me happy.  Mike and I have been able to find books in English everywhere we have lived.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Being surrounded by books just makes me happy. Mike and I have been able to find books in English everywhere we have lived. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Many of my favorite authors have sadly passed away, some long ago, and they took their most famous characters with them. What they didn’t take with them however was their words, they left those behind for generations to enjoy, for people to dream, for those around the world to wonder if things are as they seem and to hopefully want to explore this world for themselves to see the great treasures left behind.

I read to my youngest niece when she was little. I wanted her to see the far away lands and have the words to inspire her to want to look beyond her own little world and wonder what was out there past her safe haven borders. I guess I had an impact. When she was the ripe old age of 5 she told her Mother that she wanted to get a passport and travel the world. To calm her Mother, who looked shocked that her only child would contemplate leaving her, she told her not to worry, that she would be back, and I can’t wait to hear the stories she’ll tell…

Florence Lince

Stop Vacationing and Start Traveling

I have been traveling internationally since the early 1980’s.  In my time traveling meant visiting new places and meeting new people.  Today the hot thing to do is to vacation.  Vacationing is where people land in a foreign country and take up residence in an All-Inclusive resort.  They never have to leave to eat; drink; swim; be entertained, basically they don’t have to leave for anything, and they don’t.  The only thing they have done is have their passports stamped.  They then show this stamp to family and friends and tell them that they have visited a foreign country.  Knowing this I always ask people where they visit and what they saw when they landed and if they can’t give me real stories about real people I know they just vacationed and did not travel.  And yes, their credibility with me goes way down.

People vacation because they think it’s safer to be in these all inclusive resorts.  I get that.  But if you are going to voluntarily imprison yourself behind walls why not do that within your own country?  Why fly somewhere when you can find a five star resort right in your own backyard?  You aren’t seeing any of the foreign country you are in anyway so why bother?   Your own country most likely has beach’s and five star restaurants and five star hotels where you can make spa appointments and hair salon appointments and more of what goes with the pampered lifestyle. You don’t have to learn a foreign language to get by either.  I don’t get why people fly somewhere foreign to sit at the pool or to eat the same food they can get at home for an additional cost.  If you have that much money to waste I’ll give you my bank account information and you can make a deposit anytime.

Okay, not a surprise that I’m not a fan of these All-Inclusive resorts.  They stop people from really getting to meet and see another culture and country.  I didn’t get my passport to have stamps placed in it to show family and friends all the places I’ve been.  I got a passport to meet the people of the world and to experience what this planet has to offer.  All those pretty pictures that are in guide books and in National Geographic I want to see for myself.  Happily there are people who travel to travel.  Mike and I meet them everywhere we go.

So stop vacationing and really start traveling. There is more to see and do in every country than can be found behind the walls of an all-inclusive resort.  If you are not comfortable with this idea then just stay within your own countries border but stay at those spectacular five start hotels and beautiful beach’s and fancy restaurants in your own cities or even in another state.  At least you won’t be behind prison walls, which is no way to spend your hard earned vacation.

Florence Lince

Snake Oil Salesmen

These slippery and slimy individuals still exist.  They are not gone like the five and dime alcohol cough syrups they used to sell.  If you don’t know the term ‘snake oil salesmen’ you are most likely the wrong generation which means you are not their target audience.

Today they try to sell Baby Boomers on the ‘this place is paradise’ lie.

You have seen the ads; come to Panama and buy your slice of Paradise.  The infamous and well quoted International Living keeps touting certain locations as the best places to retire (they have relocation tours you see where they are making a lot of money).  These headlines make me crazy because they are so untrue and so unfair and unfortunately, so legal.

First of all there is no such thing as Panama being Paradise.  I have lived in Panama.  Panama is suffering from a serious draught right now and the coffee trees and the banana trees are suffering blight.  Crime against expats is on the rise in certain areas; so much so that the local police have told expats to protect themselves.

These tours where people want to show you the ‘real’ Costa Rica or the ‘real’ Panama are as bogus as the day is long.  They are making, depending on how many people are a part of your tour, upwards of $1,000 a person on you to show you around.  And they aren’t really showing you around.  Or you aren’t asking the right questions.  If you aren’t asking kick the tire questions you aren’t really being shown around.

Ask them about legal documents and the fact that the one in Spanish is the only one that is legal.  If you do not speak Spanish why would you enter into a legal agreement about buying property?   And how do you know you have clear title to the property?  There are tons of stories on the internet about expats not really owning the property they think they own mostly because they do no understand what that contract in Spanish says.

How about asking them where the water supply comes from and where the water sewage plant is located (there isn’t one in Panama and the water comes from the mountains and flows into the ditch’s which get clogged with dirt; that is the water you will drink and cook with and wash with).  Ask them about electricity outages and how often they happen.  Ask them about scorpions and how to deal with them.  Ask them about the constant fight against mold and mildew and I’m going to bet they tell you to get an air exchange machine for your house.  Someone has something to sell everywhere!

No one should be buying property in any foreign country until they have lived in that foreign country no less than 6 months.  Pack a suitcase and move to whatever country you think is paradise and see if all the hype is true.  Do the touring on your own.  If you can’t travel the country on your own you shouldn’t be living in that country.  If you don’t speak the language but you think doing these tours is the answer you are moving to someplace that you shouldn’t be living.  Who is going to be around to help you when the tour ends?

Expats in some of these areas are more crooked than the locals and you can’t trust many of them either.  Do not fool yourself that many of these people will be your friends.  Most of the expats we met while living in Panama are long gone now; in fact most of the expats who try to live in Paradise are gone within 3-5 years.  These are the folks you need to chat with and ask them why they left.  They will tell you.  Compare their stories with those of these snake oil salesmen and then you will have a real picture of what it’s like to live in these places.

Alcohol consumption is a common theme among the expats as well. For some reason because the cost of living is so low they move to these places to drink themselves into happiness.  If drinking is not your favorite pastime rethink moving to a third world country.  Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the rest are all third world countries.  I don’t care if you can have granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances and hot water on demand.  You are also going to have to live behind a gate; with iron bars on your windows; no maid to clean up after yourself because they will all rob from you; respiratory issues from the mold and mildew that you are not accustomed too and scorpions in the house; snakes and bugs on the front lawn to the point where you cannot walk through the grass; and wild dogs roaming the streets who tear through the garbage and leave a mess.  Does that really sound like Paradise?

The other snake oil pitch is how your family and friends back home will love coming to visit you every year.  Back the truck up.  Why on earth would you think that someone else is going to spend their vacation going to the same place over and over again just because you think you are living in paradise?  This has been one of the largest realities for people when they realize that after the initial visit the generations after you want to go someplace else and so no one comes to visit.  This is when people realize that they miss their families more than they want to live in Paradise and they leave.

The rules still apply; if something looks too good to be true it usually is.  This applies to living in Paradise as well.  If like I said you can live in any of these countries for 6 months and really live in these countries without trying to change the locals and without trying to bring your home country with you; then more power to you.  You have successfully learned to live in Paradise.  But if you want to change the environment around you to suit you and your needs; if you want the locals to learn to be more like the people and workers back home (which means they show up on time and they are ready to work); if you want to live just like you did back home; why did you move?  If you don’t want to learn their language, don’t expect them to learn yours.  The world does not revolve around expats.

So the next time you are approached by any of these snake oil salesmen ask them the tough questions before you spend your money on any of these tours they offer.  You might be better off taking the whole family on a trip to Europe or someplace exotic.  After all, isn’t spending time with family and good friends really the Paradise everyone is seeking after retirement?

And as always I will say what I have said many times; if it was paradise, why are there always so many homes for sale?

Florence Lince

How Old Is the Ice in Your Drink

We have had some amazing travel adventures thus far as The 6 Monthers.  We have been to four continents, over a dozen countries, we have met some special people and seen things of such beauty that it is hard to imagine that we could find anything to rival it and yet, as we have kept traveling we have seen more beauty in different places and wondered at what we will see next.

Glacier Grey

Glacier Grey © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

One of these experiences came long before either of us was blogging.   On a cold and dreary winter morning we took a magical trip to visit Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine National park in Chile.  Getting to visit this region of Patagonia was one of Mike’s long time dreams and the vistas of the mountain peaks and the glaciers did not disappoint.  However it wasn’t the park that holds the memory or the attraction that still resonates with us both these many years after our visit.

Our tour guide that day told us that something magical awaited us down by the beach.  He said it would be something that we would have a hard time explaining to others who were not with us and if I had known how true this statement was I would have had a video camera running so that I could have recorded the sound.  Our group this day was composed of all adults so we trudged down to the beach front and wondered if looking at the smaller icebergs which had broken off from the main iceberg was the attraction our guide had told us about.

The fact that this ice could be almost a million years old really does give one pause.

The fact that this ice could be almost a million years old really does give one pause. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

As we stood at the water’s edge our guide told us to stand silently for a moment or two and to take it all in.  It was then, while standing silently, that we heard what sounded like wind chimes; thousands and thousands of wind chimes.  We began to look around.  We were told to look down, into the water, and there it was, ice, tons and tons of ice lapping itself onto the beach sounding like the tinkling of ice in a giant glass. We were in awe.

Our guide told us that many people come here with whiskey glasses in hand to scoop up some of the glacier ice and then they open a bottle of some brew and they drink their drink with ice that might be a million years old.  Think about that for a second.  The ice we were looking at and hearing was broken from Glacier Grey; one of the largest and oldest glaciers on earth.  Gives you pause doesn’t it?

Patagonia was the first item on Mike's bucket list.  Coming here was a childhood dream. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Patagonia was the first item on Mike’s bucket list. Coming here was a childhood dream. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Since our visit to the park I had seen an article in the news where thieves actually drove to the beach site and tried to make off with tons and tons of the ice to sell in fancy drinks someplace.  That didn’t go over well with the Chilean government and the culprits were apprehended.

This is one of Mike's favorite photos.  He made it to Patagonia.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This is one of Mike’s favorite photos. He made it to Patagonia. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

What triggered my walk down memory lane about the experience of the ice tinkling at Glacier Grey?   Perhaps it was that winter is upon us here in Spain and at times the weather is cold; perhaps it is because the other day I passed a store that sold cheesy wind chimes; or better yet, it’s most likely because I walked the sand on the beach here in Torrevieja and as I listened to the sound of the waves hitting the beach I thought back to another amazing travel adventure we’ve had where we heard the ice from a million year old glacier hitting the beach, and I smiled.

We saw a lot of glacier's on this trip and I will admit this was one of the most beautiful spots we explored while in Torres del Paine National Park.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

We saw a lot of glacier’s on this trip and I will admit this was one of the most beautiful spots we explored while in Torres del Paine National Park. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Perhaps we’ll have to return to Glacier Grey bay someday to record the sound.  Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this instance a recording might be worth a thousand pictures.

Florence Lince

Retire Already!

Mike and I are both Baby Boomers.  Mike is 10 years older than I.  When he decided to retire at the age of 62 and told me he wanted to travel the world now that he could we had to figure out a way to make that work. We mapped out what life would be like for him retired and me still working for another 10 years.  Mike hates being alone and he is not one to be off doing one thing while I’m doing another.  I am also a workaholic and at every job I had I worked in excess of 40 hours a week.  Mike wasn’t going to be happy with me working that hard elsewhere and not enjoying life with him.

Then we looked at life living on his social security.  To make that work we knew we would have to sell everything and live in countries where we could live more economically until I can file for social security in 10 years time and we can breathe a little easier.  There was no way to live in the US on his $1500 a month social security; this is a sad statement, but true.  To family and friends who do not even have a passport option one seemed like the safer bet. And then they realized that I had never lived my life going for the safer bet and we went with option two.

During the time we have been traveling (3 years this coming June) we have both read article after article warning baby boomers that they won’t have enough money to retire; that they need to work until they are in their 70’s and perhaps beyond; how they shouldn’t loan money to their children; how baby boomers are the ones keeping the travel industry afloat since they are the ones paying for family group travel and more stories all with the boogey man standing behind them warning them that retirement in the style they are currently living or want to live is not doable unless they have millions stashed away in the bank.

Enough already!   Let’s put some balance into this mix.

While you were building your family and having children you increased the size of your home; some of you to almost 5,000 square feet of living space.  This means you also filled a house with all the things that made you comfortable.  That was great.

Now it’s most likely just you and your spouse and its time for the tough questions.

How often does anyone come to spend the night?  Once a month; once a quarter; ever?

How often are the five bedrooms full?  Once a year; never?

Can you make do with a two bedroom place?  Be honest. Answers to questions one and two will answer this.

What should you do with all the ‘stuff’ you’ve accumulated during your life?  Sell it or give it all away!  If your kids want that stuff make them responsible for it now, not later.  We did that.  More surprising was how much of the stuff we thought so highly of no one else wanted.  Do not assume that the stuff you hold dear your kids will want.  You might be surprised in what they decide to do with the things you think they will hold on to.

You know what I regret the most now that I look back at my life?  I regret all the money I spent in accumulating things.  I wish I had known what life could be like and I wouldn’t have lived in a large home with lots of furniture and lots of clothing and other things I really didn’t need. I’m sorry I had a home that slept nine and clothing that filled three closets and a TV in every room.  I wish I had some of that money back now so that I could travel to more places and meet more people.  I’m sorry I didn’t buy lots of investment property and have lots of tenants to help me keep the money flowing and I’m sorry I didn’t live in a small one room shack someplace with a bed and a table and nothing else because that is all I really needed.

I feel sad when I see articles that say that seniors won’t be retiring until they are in their 70’s, if at all.  I mean if you love what you are doing that’s great.  If you are working in order to be comfortable in retirement you have the wrong idea of retirement or in my opinion you are listening to the wrong folks.  Everyone works to have money for shelter, food and warmth. Nothing else really matters.  What is the real magic number of how much money you need to retire? What is the real number you need every month to be comfortable?  It might not be as high a number as you think.

Reports say that the Millennials are actually living a minimalist’s life.  They aren’t interested in buying the big homes and filling them with stuff.  They want a smaller footprint and to do more meaningful things in life and they want to travel more.  In this instance perhaps they are the ones who have it right.

We are however the Baby Boomer Generation.  We are the generation that demonstrated for change in civil rights, women’s right and gay rights.  We are the generation that changed the music scene bringing the sounds of rock and roll, Motown, Disco, pop and rap into the mainstream culture.  We did nothing like our parents before us and we have never let others tell us what to think, what to do or what to say.  I’m proud to be a Baby Boomer.  I’m even happier as a retired Boomer.

Florence Lince

* Sigh * – A Place to Call Home

Riding the bus the other day through a residential neighborhood made me sigh.  I was looking inside windows of homes where people were gathered at dining room tables, fires were going in the fireplaces and neighbors were walking on the street.

Periodically I wonder what life would be like again if we had one place to call home; a place where we could go and build a fire, a place to unpack our suitcases and a place to have a garden where we would grow our own vegetables and Mike could have his fuchsia’s again.

We have been traveling and moving around since 2011.  That really isn’t that long a time but in some regards it is a lifetime.  Mike’s second grandson was born while we’ve been away and he’s only seen him once.

I don’t know if this periodic longing for a home is the female nesting syndrome rearing its ugly head. I do know that as the bus stops at our next destination I get an excited tingle and I wonder what great new adventures await and the wistful thoughts of having our own place are gone like the ‘will o the wisps’.

I know the *sigh* will come again as we travel from country to country.  I will know when its time to really call our lifestyle quits when I can’t get the sigh to turn into a new tingle; when I can’t take one more photo; when I can’t even bear the thought of packing one more suitcase.

I don’t think that time is coming soon.   I’m still looking at our schedule and wondering what exciting things I’ll get to see 10 years from now and how many more photos will I take, how many amazing people will we meet along the way, will I do okay with language barriers in new countries, when should we think about replacing warn out clothing…

*Sigh* I guess I’m not ready to settle down…just yet…

Florence Lince