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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck.

    Easy to read, engaging story and irresistible characters, I really loved this story of race and the meaning of family.

    Based in Florida in 1976, a time when racism still ruled in the south, though often hidden away and unspoken.  It was still there and Ora Lee Beckworth, a recently widowed white woman lives her life working against it and shaming those who practice it.

    Ora hires a homeless black man to do yard work for her.  The neighborhood children call him The Pee-can man.  Ora sees something in this lonely man and knows she can help him.  Even Ora’s housekeeper Blanche, a black woman, questions Ora’s decision to hire the Pecan Man.

    The lives of these people are forever changed when the unthinkable happens to Blanche’s youngest daughter Grace.  Justice will not be served however, when this crime is known to have been carried out by the sheriff’s son – a white boy.

    But when the Sherriff’s son turns up dead and The Pecan Man is arrested for murder, the test of wills begins.  Who will tell the whole truth?  Who will sacrifice themselves for those they love? And who will believe, even in 1976, that a black man could be innocent?

    A beautiful and haunting story of sorrow and loss, love and discrimination, regret and friendship.  And the true meaning of family.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

    Read last week’s review of Where the Crawdads Sing

    Adventure Travel  --  Inspire

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Add These to Your Bucket List

    Location: Around the World

    We love Paris like everyone else.  But really that’s the problem.  EVERYONE loves Paris (and London and Rome) and so you find lots of crowds and high cost.  In our travels around the world we have really tried to find new places that few tourists go.  Often these destinations end up being our most favorite.  And the more we travel the more we want to encourage everyone to consider stepping out of their travel comfort zone, and exploring the unknown – the favorite destinations no one goes.   Finding your way to the lesser traveled destinations creates less impact on the planet while bringing greater cultural awareness to the traveler.  We ask you to consider these options:

    Bulgaria

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Bulgaria

    Instead of Croatia consider visiting  Bulgaria, one of our favorite countries we have ever been to.  Bulgaria has so much to offer, and yet we did not meet a single American during the entire month we were there.  We did meet lots of Russians, Germans and some Brits.  Bulgaria has a remarkable coastline along the gorgeous Black Sea as well as great mountains for hiking.  The food is amazing, the wine is cheap and the 5000 year history is astounding.  And the people are so amazing, welcoming and proud. They have endured a great deal in their history, and they have a “come what may” attitude that is infectious. Go visit Bulgaria.

    Slovenia

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Slovenia

    Instead of Italy go to fascinating Slovenia. From Trieste, Italy it’s just a hop across the border to Slovenia, the tiny country once part of Yugoslavia.  We have been to Slovenia twice and I suspect we will be there again.  Slovenia has a tiny coastline on the Adriatic, and our favorite town of Piran is a perfect place to visit and get some local flavor.  But don’t stop there, Slovenia has some of the most beautiful mountain towns and lakes.  Much of Slovenia is still agrarian and the people are welcoming and patriotic and friendly.  Oh and the seafood.  So darn delicious. Go visit Slovenia.

    El Salvador

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    El Salvador

    Instead of Mexico go to El Salvador.  We just spent two weeks on the Pacific Coast of tiny El Salvador and we absolutely loved it.  There are some Americans coming here, but mostly 20-year-old surfers. The media has made us believe El Salvador is a dangerous place, and yet it is no more dangerous than Mexico and Americans flock to Mexico.  Come to El Salvador where the water is warm, the people are welcoming, the food is delicious and the history though brutal and bloody – is fascinating.  El Salvador will soon come out the shadow of its violent past, so visit before the secret gets out.  Go visit El Salvador.

    Poland

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Poland

    Instead of Germany go to Poland.  Poland is just beginning to step out of the shadow and become a tourist destination.  And it should.  We fell hard for Poland spending three weeks there last fall.  Poland has some of the most astonishing history anywhere in Europe.  The food is fantastic.  The people are warm and happy to meet you.  The historic villages are well-preserved and beautiful.  And it is cheap and easy to get to.  We loved Krakow as well as all the other places we visited and using the train in Poland was a great way to travel.  You really should visit Poland now.

    Bangladesh

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Bangladesh

    Instead of India go to Bangladesh.  I loved our time in India too, but if you want to push yourself and visit somewhere no tourists go, visit the remarkable, tiny country of Bangladesh.  Our short visit to Bangladesh provided us some of the most rewarding moments we have ever had in our travels. It’s difficult to visit Bangladesh without a guide, and we were lucky to find Deshguri, one of the few tour operators in the country.  Through Deshguri we able to meet so many Bangladeshi people, who greeted us with more kindness than anywhere we have ever been in the world.  We certainly stood out in both crowded Dakar as well as the beautiful villages and countryside, since almost no Western tourists come here.  We learned so much during our time in Bangladesh, and left our heart with its beautiful people. A remarkable experience that everyone should have. Visit Bangladesh soon.

    Sri Lanka

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Sri Lanka

    Instead of Thailand go to Sri Lanka. Thailand is overrun with tourists anymore.  So if you are looking for beautiful beaches, mountains and more, visit Sri Lanka instead.  The young backpacking set has found Sri Lanka, but few American visitors of the Fab Fifties era are traveling here.  Why not?  It is amazing.  We spent three of our most favorite weeks in Sri Lanka, one of the friendliest countries we have ever visited.  The Civil War is over and Sri Lanka is safe and inexpensive.  The food is the da bomb. Hiking and history is around every corner and the beaches are incredible.  We saw elephants and leopards, monkeys and snakes.  Oh my.  It’s Sri Lanka for me.

    Namibia

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Namibia

    Instead of South Africa go to Namibia.  Our ten-day tour in Namibia with Wild Wind Safaris will go down in our travels as one of the most remarkable places.  This country that nobody has heard of is one of the most beautiful in the world.  We had an amazing private guide during our time there, but you can also see the country easily with your own 4×4 vehicle (careful though, there is a high traffic fatality rate in Namibia). Namibia has a gorgeous Atlantic coastline, dry mountainous region that is like a moonscape, and multiple fascinating cultures such as the Himba, Damara and Herero people.  And to top it off Etosha National Park – single-handedly the best wildlife viewing we have ever encountered.  I absolutely fell in love with Namibia.  If you have ever considered a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa take a moment and research Namibia.  You will be so glad you did.  Go see Namibia now.

    Seychelles

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Seychelles

    Instead of the Maldives go to the Seychelles.  First a word about the Maldives.  We loved our time there, and luckily we found a very inexpensive place to stay.  But in general the Maldives are expensive and there is no alcohol! So consider the Seychelles instead.  A beautiful set of small islands out in the middle of nowhere off of east Africa.  We spent a month on the tiny island of Praslin and loved every minute of it.  Groceries were expensive and the variety was less than desirable, but the rest of the experience was very positive.  The islanders speak French/Creole mix, and the shy people are friendly and religious.  If you are looking for a place to kick back and relax with the warmest turquoise waters in the world, visit Seychelles now.

    Portugal

    Our Favorite Destinations No One Goes To

    Portugal

    Instead of Spain go to Portugal.  I hesitated about adding Portugal to this list because Portugal does have a thriving tourism industry.  But we met very few Americans while we were there.  Perhaps more Americans go to Spain because Spanish is a language more Americans can handle.  But during our time in Portugal we had very little difficulty with the Portuguese language.  We loved Portugal so much we would consider living there.  The food is incredible, the cities are beautiful and the beaches are fantastic.   It’s a remarkable place with such a variety of geography.  Historically Portugal was once a powerful country of explorers and merchants, colonizers and tyrants but today, this quiet and beautiful country is laid back and relaxed and fun.  Visit Portugal.

    What is next for us?

    We are now into a full-fledged planning phase of our next chapter of the Grand Adventure. We will spend May-September in the USA then depart again.  Without really trying, we have noticed

    Hard to answer questions to a travel nomad

    Portugal

    a trend in the countries we are planning to visit next, a trend towards less touristy.  A trend towards staying longer in one place.  A trend towards trying to make less of an impact and remove ourselves from the fray.

    I think this is what we always intended to happen on this journey, but it just took us a while to get there.  But when we look back on our favorite places we have been so far, it’s always the places with the road less traveled.  It’s always the places with few western tourists.  It’s always the places the cruise ships don’t go.  The authentic and relatively untouched destinations.

    One rare Bangladesh

    Bangladesh

    Our favorite destinations no one goes to.  Fabulous.

    Note – we have committed to the following destinations from September to January; China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Kenya and Mauritiaus. Not confirmed but in the works for 2020 are;  Zambia, Uganda, Israel, Cyprus, Malta, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia,Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovakia, Belarus, Estonia, Finland and Greenland.

     

     

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Chances are you’ve already read this book.  But if you haven’t you should go do it now.  Clearly it will be a movie before the next Oscars.  I’m torn who I imagine in main character roles.

    Haunting and sad, this is a story of loneliness at the most fundamental level. But it’s also a story of perseverance and survival, love and heartbreak, all while being a murder mystery and alluring narrative of the natural beauty of the marshlands of North Carolina.

    How can it be all these things?  It’s a beautifully written effort by Owens, almost written as a screenplay with vividly created characters that jump off the pages.

    In particular the intelligent and sensitive Kya, who endures a painful childhood and abandonment at age six.  The young girl survives alone in the North Carolina marsh, dubbed the Marsh Girl by the towns people and shunned for her mysterious existence.

    A survivor at heart Kya will endure, grow and find passion, only to become the prime suspect in a town murder mystery.

    Can she endure this ultimate test of survival?

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for Where the Crawdads Sing

    Read last week’s review of The Tao of Pooh

    Central America

    A Taste of Expat Life in Placencia, Belize

    Location: Placencia Belize

    It’s a refreshing change being in a place with people our own age.  It’s unusual.  We always find ourselves with younger people.  But here in Placencia, Belize we fit right in; fabulous fifties, retired, North Americans, English speakers.

    A taste of expat life

    Placencia pier

    Placencia is both a true expat village and a North American snow bird village, where Canadian and American retirees are in abundance.

    I’m really enjoying this colorful little Caribbean village.  My favorite town in Belize.  It has a very local vibe

    A taste of expat life

    Colorful

    despite the expat community.  There are significantly more expats than short-term visitors, but still there are many options for lodging for short-term.  Our Airbnb “Ally’s Guesthouse” is great.

    It’s a perfect chance for us to get the feel for what it would be

    A taste of expat life

    The lagoon view at our Airbnb

    like to settle somewhere for six months of the year or longer – something we see as possible in the future.  I could spend half a year here.  Not much to not like about this place.

    Placencia has the best beaches we have seen in Belize; warm water, white sand and clean – despite the sargasso grass that seasonally washes on shore.

    A taste of expat life

    Says it all about Placencia

    As usual we cook in our Airbnb, but Placencia has a nice variety of restaurants.  Our favorites so far include Mr. Que for BBQ where we had a full meal for $5 USD,  Barefoot for toes in the sand beers and De Tatch for seafood.  Hands down the best meal has been  Rumfish, where I unexpectedly had the most delicious beef short ribs. We also love the coffee at Above Grounds and Brewed Awakening, the ice cream at Tuttie Fruitie, and the cinnamon

    A taste of expat life

    Barefoot Restaurant

    rolls at John the Bakerman.

    Our Airbnb is about a mile from the farthest end of town, but the walk is easy and along the way are several excellent grocery stores, many other shops and all the restaurants mentioned above. Placencia is flat as a pancake, so it’s a great place for cycling, walking and a daily run.  But on the other

    Boardwalk

    hand, not a great place during hurricane season.

    There is a concrete boardwalk that runs the full length of town, set about 100 yards from the beach.  The boardwalk runs through a colorful collection of beach cabanas, shops and restaurants.  It’s my favorite place in Placencia.

    A taste of expat life

    Flat & easy for a run or ride

    Though we have spent most of our time doing nothing more than

    reading and swimming, Placencia has great options for sailing, snorkeling, diving, kayaking and more.  We don’t have a car, and you

    A taste of expat life

    De Tatch Restaurant

    don’t need one unless you want to get out-of-town to the Mayan ruins, waterfalls, hiking or other beaches.  For us, our time here in Placencia is just to relax.

    A taste of expat life

    Yummy coffee and shakes

    The locals are a mix of Garifuna, Maya,and Spanish descent.  Placencia population is about 3600. Everyone is friendly and helpful.  It’s a very laid back and casual culture.  Not a day goes by that I have not been offered to buy marijuana.  ‘Hey Mon – one love for da road, dis day? Sista like da weed?”

    No thanks.  I get high everyday just being on this Fab Fifties Life journey. Thanks for following.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Tao of Pooh by Ben Hoff

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Hoff is a follower of Taoism and in 1982 he wrote The Tao of Pooh as a way to introduce the Eastern belief system to the Western reader.  Using the beloved A.A. Milne characters from the Winnie-the-Pooh series, Hoff tells the simple story of Tao.

    I found this book in our room at the Yoga studio in El Salvador.  I picked it up, and read it easily in a few hours.  Even though the story was published more than 35 years ago, it actually is very timely by today’s standards.  In our current state of egotistical leaders, selfish and fast-paced lives, and sometimes frightening world – looking at the Taoism beliefs through the simple mind of Pooh is brilliant.

    “Hoff uses many of Milne’s characters to symbolize ideas that differ from or accentuate Taoist tenets. Winnie-the-Pooh himself, for example, personifies the principles of wei wu wei, the Taoist concept of “effortless doing,” and pu, the concept of being open to, but unburdened by, experience, and it is also a metaphor for natural human nature. In contrast, characters like Owl and Rabbit over-complicate problems, often over-thinking to the point of confusion, and Eeyore pessimistically complains and frets about existence, unable to just be. Hoff regards Pooh’s simpleminded nature, unsophisticated worldview and instinctive problem-solving methods as conveniently representative of the Taoist philosophical foundation. The book also incorporates translated excerpts from various prominent Taoist texts, from authors such as Laozi and Zhuangzi.” (taken from Wikipedia).

    A simple and easy read for a lazy Sunday in the hammock.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for the Tao of Pooh by Ben Hoff

    Read last week’s review of The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

    Inspire

    Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

    My Experience

    Location: Costa Rica

    I had heard a lot about Americans who travel to Costa Rica to have dental work done.  I always thought of this as something “old” people did.  LOL.  Face the music – my time had come.

    When my husband retired we were able to continue our medical insurance through his company but not dental.  So for the past three years we have not had dental insurance.  I continue to get my teeth cleaned every six months and just pay cash.  No big deal.

    Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

    The view at Meza Dental

    But then a problem came along.  I first noticed it when we were walking our first Camino a year and a half ago.  I had the painful tooth looked at by a surprisingly wonderful dentist in Tunisia who diagnosed me with bone loss.  She put me on an antibiotic and I was able to forget about the tooth until we returned to the USA last summer.

    Back in the USA my local dentist confirmed the diagnosis and quoted me $7500 for an extraction and implant procedure.

    Holy Molars!  I can think of a whole lot of things I would rather do with $7500 than give it to my dentist (plane tickets, hotels, food…). I got a second opinion, about $1000 less.  I decided to continue to live with it for a while, but the thought of dental tourism began to develop in my head.

    I knew we were going to Costa Rica, one of the countries with the best reputation for dental tourism.  About three months ago my tooth once

    Surgery

    again began to throb and give me pain and I was using Ibuprofen way too often.  So I began some intensive research.

    Through another blogger I found in one of my blogging groups I landed on Meza Dental in San Jose Costa Rica.  I did a bunch of research about them, and in general about the safety of dental work in Costa Rica.  I was impressed.  I began an email conversation with Meza and they were incredibly helpful and patient with me and my million questions.  I decided to do the extraction and implant and a bone graft while in Costa Rica.  These three procedures, as well as an overall cleaning and two x-rays cost me $1700.  A price tag that didn’t give me a toothache.

    Dental Tourism in Costa Rica

    All smiles again.

    It’s been a couple of weeks now and the stitches are nearly gone, and other than the fact I have a gaping hole in my mouth, I feel really great.  I have now found  a new dentist at home where I can finish the procedure after the required six months of healing.  I will need an abutment and a crown affixed.  This will cost me a little more than $1000.

    I am super happy with the results of the work I had done, and the cost.  I would definitely consider this again should future problems arise.  During the two days I spent at Meza Dental clinic I met only Americans in the waiting room – several who were in Costa Rica for the second and third time having major reconstructive and even cosmetic dentistry work done.

    So, if you have ever worried about having dental work done outside of the USA, smile, and check out Meza Dental in San Jose Costa Rica.

     

     

    Central America  --  Inspire

    Lessons on the Road

    Lodging Failure and Being Flexible

    Location: Belize

    Lessons on the Road. It doesn’t happen often. And in fact, in our nearly three years of full-time travel this is the first time we’ve had a total lodging failure.

    But it happened and we know the importance of flexibility.  Flexibility in My Fab fifties Life. Lessons on the road.

    Lonely Planet rated them well.  And my Central America Lonely Planet Book is current.  They had what appeared to be an up to date website, although I should have had some suspicion when the online booking didn’t work.

    I emailed them months ago and made a “reservation”.  I confirmed via email a few weeks ago.  But when we arrived it seemed no one was expecting us.  The resort seemed abandoned.  And the house we had “booked” appeared to have not been lived in or cleaned for a very long time.

    I tried to “grin and bear it” for the sake of our two sons who are traveling with us. But when we found the dead rodent I said we were leaving.

    And so we spent one restless night and I couldn’t wait to get out of there at first light. We left money on the counter for one night and sent an email explaining how filthy the house was. And even now, five days later, there has been no response.

    Such a weird experience.  Another travel memory to go down in the book.  We learn.  We have adventures.  Nearly 100% of the time it works out.  But this place was an epic failure. A total breakdown of communication.  A filthy dirty mess.

    And so we moved on.  Lessons on the road.