Thursday, August 30, 2018

Travelling safely

As you know we travel a lot. Probably more than most people. We love the adventure of new experiences; new places; new people. It's funny how often we get asked, especially when we are heading to Mexico, if it's safe. Well nowadays I think your safety is mostly dependent on you and where you put yourself, regardless of what part of the world you are in. Granted if you are travelling to a war torn country or a country where there is more crime it is probably less safe than your own backyard. But still, do you want to live your life thinking that you shouldn't go out and experience it because maybe something will happen?? It's a matter of being diligent, using caution and common sense.

Sorry, I digressed a little from what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about safety - in it's various forms. Not only is it a matter of being in the right place at the right time versus the wrong place at the wrong time. But also your food consumption and water intake are to be consciously taken into account when travelling into countries where the types of food and its preparation are different from what you are used to. Also the water quality will be different. 

Today I wanted to speak with you about the water issues as your proper water intake is a fundamental necessity to enjoying a fun adventure. Should you not be consuming enough water or a poor quality of water this can make you lethargic or even ill in some cases. So how do you ensure that you are consuming safe, clean water? Bottled water is one way but again how do you really know where that water is coming from? I don't mean to put a negative spin on everything but you need to be realistic - look at all the studies that have been done recently on the quality of bottled water being sold as clean and safe. If you are not aware of what's going on let me share a couple links with you.

Now I don't want you to think this is just being put out to you to scare you and make you buy the bottle I'm about to speak with you about. That's not why I'm writing today. I am writing to simply give you awareness of what's being marketed and what you can do to improve the quality of the water you are consuming.

I want to introduce you to the Puritii Water Filtration bottle - you may not have heard of it and that is because it is available through direct sales which means it is not advertised on TV, radio or elsewhere. It is advertised through word of mouth. I really want every one of you to take a minute to visit this website and read up on this filtration system then decide for yourself if this is of value to you and your health. Not only is it good for your health but it's good for your wallet. This filter cleans approximately 450 litres of water before you need to replace it. That's over $650 you would be spending on bottled water (based on an average of $1.50 per litre bottle). As well you would be saving the environment as you would not be adding 450 plastic bottles to our landfill or worse, the oceans.

I have personal experience with this bottle as I use it all the time. When we are in Mexico I fill my bottle directly from the faucet in my condo and I have absolutely no ill effects from drinking the tap water in Mexico. Even when we travel throughout Canada and the US I always use this bottle because water that may be fine, according to the locals who are used to that type of water, may not be good for you as your body isn't used to it. We even noticed how much chlorine smell was in the water in nearby towns to our home. We couldn't drink it, it smelled and tasted like a swimming pool - that's just scary and this was being served at a restaurant.  I use this bottle even when I am at home drinking the water from my faucet and when going out to dinner. When the waitress asks if we would like water I ask her to please just fill my bottle for me.

It's your health and well being at stake; you need to be aware of what is being offered to you as "safe" water and do your research - again I don't mean to be a Negative Nellie but I want everyone to be aware and make the best choices for your well being.

Enjoy the world, travel safely, use common sense, if you think it doesn't feel right, follow those instincts. If you're not used to a varied diet try to stick with things your body is used to and slowly introduce the local food to your system. Drink plenty of water, hydration is a basic fundamental to good health. Go forth and enjoy, I wish you happy, safe journeys.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Travelling safer in Mexico

When you are telling people you are planning a trip to Mexico how many times do you get asked it safe to travel in Mexico? Aren't you scared? You know I always just shake my head at people and ask them - do you know what's going on in your own town and in the areas around you? Common sense will make you as safe as possible wherever you travel. Do you agree? It goes back to the old saying - wrong place, wrong time. If you're being cautious and using common sense I believe you're just as safe travelling in Mexico as in your own neighborhood. We have been travelling for years in Mexico and I honestly tell people that I feel safer walking around in the evenings in Playa del Carmen than I do at 5 corners - a particular area in my hometown. I wouldn't be walking around in 5 corners at night but I feel comfortable walking along the main streets in Playa at night.

EXPAT 911 Affiliate Program
Click on image to visit website
But on the subject of safety I want to bring your attention to a great new app that a friend of mine has developed and is particularly useful for peace of mind for people travelling in Mexico. I will share the link here - please take a minute to check it out and share it with everyone you know who travels in Mexico.

Let me give you this brief introduction into what it is:

"We decided to make a service to help our fellow Expats with reporting crimes and emergencies. This company was created by two partners who share a combined 45 years of living in all parts of Mexico. We also share a combined 25 years of online experience running a major network dedicated to US Veterans. It was an easy decision to apply this experience to something that would benefit our fellow brothers and sisters who also enjoy living abroad in the great country of Mexico.

Unfortunately, many of our Expats have not been able to break the language barrier. Imagine being in a life threatening emergency situation, and trying to speak to 911 in Mexico. Would you feel comfortable explaining all of your symptoms or explaining about a crime that is being committed in your home? After speaking to many of our fellow Expats, we realized that a service like this was 100% necessary. So we have decided to create ExPat911.

The idea is simple…

When you report a crime or emergency using our app, you will always get a native English speaking operator. We also have people on staff who speak Spanish as their native language. So while you are reporting your emergency to the English speaking operator, someone else will be reporting that emergency on your behalf in perfect Spanish at the exact same time. This will ensure that all of the information is given in a timely manner when seconds could be the difference between life and death."

I hope this information is useful to you or perhaps someone you know. Please share with everyone you know who travels in Mexico.

EXPAT 911 Affiliate Program

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Experiencing the west coast from Canada to Mexico

We went adventuring once again recently and this time it was a big road trip! 42 days, 3 countries and over 6,000 kilometers. It was quite a fun adventure - we decided to drive from our home in BC Canada, down the coast of the USA to Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico. The return trip was taking us up through Tijuana to LA then over to Las Vegas and back over to the coast and upwards to our home. So many interesting things to see and experience on this trip I feel like I will need to break it down into separate blogs otherwise it will turn into a book! 

So let's start with the drive down the coast and the scenery.  

Driving along the coast with the windy, wet days surrounding us just added a bit to the sense of mystery that we were feeling as we were surrounded by trees that were covered with a white lichen type of moss. I suppose the constant dampness in the air between the ocean breezes and the naturally damp west coast climate makes for a good breeding ground for the lichen. It was really quite eerie looking and I kept thinking how this landscape could make for a good movie locale for a spooky type of script. Thoughts of this sort continued to distract me while I was driving along and it was really bothering me that I wasn't able to drive and put my thoughts on paper at the same time. The creepy movie scenarios running through my head were further fueled by the fact that we were often alone on the road with no one else coming along from either direction. Added to the creepy forest on one side was the addition of the strange ocean side vistas on the other, which included long areas of hard packed mud with channels carved through them as if some large creature had slithered its way out of the creepy forest, craving a deep path through the mud on its journey towards the ocean. You see how my thoughts were going. If only I was able to record my thoughts while I was driving.

We had a great time driving our GPS crazy - we would get up in the morning, decide how far we wanted to travel that day and line up our hotel for the night. We put the hotel address in our GPS so we knew we would end up at the right place. No matter how many times we shifted off track because we saw a sign that suggested an interesting destination that we needed to investigate, we knew we would get to our end destination without any problem..  At one point in Washington we realized that there was a small ferry service that ran between the islands that dotted the coast so we decided that would be more fun than just driving along the highway so off we went. It was actually just a short ferry trip but another fun adventure. I was really impressed to see that the ferry had jigsaw puzzles set out throughout the boat for people to enjoy while they were making the crossing - surprising considering that it was only about a 1/2 hour ferry ride. B.C. Ferries should consider implementing something like this! 

I remembered the coast line of Oregon from when I drove down it with my family as a teenager. It made such a huge impression on me that I was quite excited to see it once again. Although the time of year (late January) wasn't really the best time to explore the coast, as it was mostly wet and cold, we did still get that same sense of awe from the huge, majestic rocks rising out of the ocean along the coast. The rocky, craggy coastline and crashing waves are a thing of beauty. 

All along the coastal highway are many, many pull offs, view points and camping areas. I would really suggest that as you are travelling you take the time to stop at the visitor information booths along the way. They are always a great source of information about the best things to see along the drive. Everything from natural beauty to some of the lovely, small historic type towns that we stopped at - ah but that's a story for another blog.

We would stop and chat with the people at the information booths and explain to them the route we were taking. They were great at giving us brochures on things that were along our way and that we must make sure we see. Often they have discount coupons available for attractions in the area as well. One such stop was this one pictured here. Had the woman at the information center not told us we would never have stopped as it was simply a pull off area on the side of the highway with a path leading into the woods. The path lead to a lookout area where you can see the water surging through these two arches that were carved into the rock protruding from the ocean.

At one point as we were driving along we noticed a helicopter hovering over the water so we had to stop to check it out. We were immediately concerned as there was a boat right in the area as well. We feared that someone had been swept overboard but upon talking with some locals who were also watching the activity we learned that this was actually a training exercise for the coast guard. You never know what you will see!

As we got closer to the redwood forests we traveled through many park like areas and encountered signs that warned us of Elk. Now that was a new experience, we were used to seeing signs about deer, mountain sheep and even, occasionally on our travels, moose but this was the first time I had even seen an Elk warning sign. Okay, we think, cool maybe, we'll see an elk, that would be a first for us as well. So we're driving along and come around a corner (sorry no picture) and we see a herd of animals in the field - like seeing a herd of cattle however in this case it was a whole herd of Elk - like 40 or 50 of them! Awesome! They were just leisurely grazing through the field towards someone's house. Later we again came across a few Elk and these ones were in no way intimidated by us. You can see by this picture that we actually drove up and stopped right beside it and it didn't even acknowledge us; it just continued grazing with no concern at all for our proximity. 

Our journey continued through Oregon and then on into the redwood forests of California. Oh, if trees could talk! Can you imagine the stories and lessons they could teach us. What majestic trees we saw; as we were driving I just kept saying Wow - it was just that impressive. When you think you can't be awed anymore you round a corner and it's even more majestic than the moment before. I think there actually was a great benefit to driving through here at this time of year; although wet and cold, it was also practically deserted so we could meander along and enjoy all the beauty that nature was presenting to us. We even had to make like tourists and do the "drive through a tree" thing - I mean really, how could we not? How many times do you ever get to actually drive through a living tree?

We continued our journey through California with a couple of more stops before we reached our end destination but these I will save for another blog to do more with the towns we visited and local attractions we took in.

As I reflect upon our adventure while writing this I'm getting excited for more roadtrips and rest assured there will be many more in our future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Something a little different

Love Notes by SuzanneThis blog will be a little different from my usual travel stories but I felt that it was important to share what I am doing as I am seeking everyone's help in creating more awareness for a project that I am part of.  First, let me ask you this.....

who do you know that struggles with self-esteem issues, self-confidence issues or has some health issues that they are fighting to overcome? Who do you know that would benefit from strong words of love and encouragement? These are the women that we are hoping to help with this project I am involved with. 

I am working on a project to empower 1 million women this year through beautiful notes of unconditional love and empowerment. Imagine - we can change someone's life by gifting these beautiful notes to them, which they will receive every 3 days for an entire year – all for less than the cost of one cup of coffee!

How can you help with this project? 
  • You can purchase these beautiful notes for yourself and others you feel would benefit from a gift of these notes. 
  • Also helping to spread the word about this project by sharing this message with people in your circle of contacts is especially helpful as well. 
  • Please go to this link to help support our project and use this link to help spread the love:
You know not everything we do in this life needs to have a monetary value sometimes the payback comes just from knowing that we are helping and empowering others through our actions.  I am excited to be working with my sister-in-law on this project to touch the lives of as many women as possible. Please share this blog and/or our link to help us share the love and create more awareness for this project.

Thank you all for caring and sharing.

Love Notes by Suzanne
#empoweringwomenglobally #lovenotesbysuzanne #feelthelove #sharethelove

Friday, February 2, 2018

Igloos and wineries - what a combination!

We're living another adventure, this time in the wine valley of Valle de Guadalupe where we are experiencing living in an earth bag home. We have friends who strive to live a more simple lifestyle incorporating as much "off the grid" living as they can create here in this idyllic setting. As I sit writing this I am overlooking the beautiful valley and green rolling hills on the other side. We are just over the hills from the ocean and Ensenada so it's not unusual for the valley mornings to start with a fog cover that slowly burns off to reveal yet another beautiful day. 

Our friends are creating an eco-friendly rental property, Hacienda Eco-Domes, for others to enjoy this experience and have luxury accommodations to relax in after a day touring the many wineries in the valley or a day in Ensenada.

Let's talk a bit about earth bag homes. They are literally constructed with long bags filled with soil and then stacked coil style to the ceiling. As you can see from the images the bags are circled around all the way to the ceiling. If the bags are left exposed to the sun for too long during the construction period they can begin to decompose. To safeguard against this they are coated with a red sealant. Once the sealant has dried the walls are coated with cement and then it gets painted. In this property the owners chose white paint. As Canadians we joke that they have created igloos in Mexico. Depending on how many rooms you want you just simply construct adjoining domes. 

This property is using recycled grey water for the exterior watering of the decorative outdoor plants; they are collecting rainwater from the roof and processing it for use; as well they use solar power so they are self sufficient with their power supply. 

They are always considering further ways to be self sufficient such as the current conversations floating around the table about adding a wind turbine to the property. Rather then just getting power during the day with the solar panels they can be creating power 24/7 by utilizing the power of the wind. 

When it comes to water it is always an important concern as this is a desert region so rain is sparse. They are also looking for additional means of water collection. We've been having interesting conversations about "fog catchers". As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog there is often fog in the valley in the mornings, which means lots of humidity in the air. The use of a fog catcher basically involves a fine mesh being mounted on a frame and when the fog touches it the tiny droplets of water within the fog are "captured" by the mesh and as enough accumulates it falls into the reservoir below the mesh and then it is processed for use. The image shown is an example of a fog catcher being used in Morocco.

In keeping with self sufficiency they have begun preparations on an elaborate vegetable garden with everything from white and red swiss chard, tomatoes and herbs to a fruit orchard consisting of oranges, lemons, limes, olives, figs, peaches, plums, apricots, pears and pomegranate.  They are currently constructing a hydroponics river that naturally flows through the property that will be stocked with edible fish. The water will then flow to the greenhouse where they will grow hydroponic lettuce to provide to the local organic restaurants. There will even be a chicken coop which will provide fresh eggs daily. 

So construction continues as they prepare to offer a unique experience to those wishing to explore the wine region of Valle de Guadalupe. Expected launch of their rental units is Summer of 2018. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mexico via a road trip

Tom Cochrane's song Life is a Highway suits our lifestyle so well; just look at the opening of this great song.

 Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore

We just love it! And live it to an extent more than most people we know. There's too much out there to see and do to let it just all slip away because of if onlys or what ifs or I wish I hads - we try not to live that way; we try to live our life with plans and determinations to do what we want to do, when we can do it.

Once again we are heading out and away from the snow on BC's west coast to the warmer drier climates of Mexico. It's funny that the expression is Snowbirds - to us this expression means someone who is seeking the snow not trying to escape it - we prefer to think of ourselves a Sunbirds - those seeking the sun! So as sun seekers we are running away once again from the cold wet BC winter.

We had many years of pleasure at our home in Playa del Carmen but this year takes us on a new adventure. We are gearing up for a road trip that will take us down the west coast of Canada, the U.S. and into the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. When we put it out there that we were planning this road trip one friend suggested that we should fly down. But where is the fun in that?? This is meant to be an adventure and really just how much adventure can you have in an airplane? Imagine all the interesting towns we will travel through as well as the beautiful scenery. That's what I told my friend - the coast line along Oregon is fabulous - I saw it as a teenager and it made such an impression on me that I'm excited to see it again! 

We have no time frame for when we need to arrive at our destination so we will meander along the coast, stop where we want, enjoy the culture around us and move on when we're ready. We've been hearing about all the mudslides along the California highway so we are already rethinking that part of our journey. It's all good, there are lots of roads available to us and this just means that it will be a different experience on that part of our trip than what we were originally expecting.

When we reach the end of our road trip we will be with family in Valle de Guadalupe just outside of Ensenada. This is a wine region in Mexico so we will be visiting many beautiful wineries in the Valle. A big difference in our trip to Mexico this year is that we will have our own vehicle so we can venture out on day trips or overnighters to explore the surrounding areas. We did briefly see Ensenada many years ago but just for part of a day as it was a cruise ship stop for us. This time will we have much more time to do a relaxed exploration of this town. We're excited to get to know this area more as we will be visiting it on an ongoing basis and how nice that we can do it by car. This trip is a coastal trip but perhaps the next time we will go down through Idaho - we've never been there yet either!

♪♫*¨*.¸¸ ¸¸.*¨*♫♪  Life is a Highway  ♪♫*¨*.¸¸ ¸¸.*¨*♫♪
♪♫*¨*.¸¸ ¸¸.*¨*♫♪  I wanna ride it all night long  ♪♫*¨*.¸¸ ¸¸.*¨*♫♪