July 2014 archive

Life in Costa Rica

CR 4 019 Life in Costa Rica is very different, but as with all of God’s children Maslow’s first hierarchy of needs must be met to sustain survival.  

The air in this country can be many different things. It can be muggy at times almost like a Mississippi muggy but not quite that strong then at times it feels very light. The mountain air is so pure and clean, as is the breeze from the beach air which you can feel in most locations. I think what makes this place so special is the mountains and the ocean coexisting side by side. We are in a drought in this area, but we did have rain yesterday. It was the first rain since I have been here. Here at the condo the plants are watered, but I see beautiful flowers on the side of the road that are not being watered. One thing that has made me happy is no sinus or allergy meds the entire time I have been here.

CR 4 009The food in this region is basically rice, beans, and fruit  with some meat. There is sea food available on the menus, but not the amount that you would think would be in a coastal town. I thought the food would be hot and spicy, but it is not. Breakfast on Thursday with Ron  and Bill was very good. We went to Estero Azul which is located on the beach. The gallo pinto which is rice and beans with a side of bacon hit the spot. It was my first bacon since I left home. Thursday for lunch, Bill and I drove to The Green House, and I had amazing guacamole.

Bill and Claudia

Bill and Claudia

Ron and  Bill

Ron and Bill


CR 4 027Thursday night is  the radio show evening  at Playa Flamingo resort. The radio station broadcasts from 5 to 7, and your first drinks are two for one.  I made a new travel friend,  Tracy. She lives in Vegas, and she loves to travel. With just a little notice, she will be ready to hit the road. She found a great trip on Groupon for her trip to Costa Rica. The festival Friday night was entertaining. We arrived at 5:00 to hear Dave’s band play, and  we also got to see the Guanacaste dancers preform then Bill, Dave, and Brian, and I went to Tubla, an Italian restaurant. I had a brick oven calzone that was very big.

The pool at Flamingo resort

The pool at Flamingo resort


View of the beach from the  bar on the second floor.

View of the beach from the bar on the second floor.

Ron made his amazing clam chowder this weekend, and he shared with his friends.  I am eating a small portion each day to make it last longer.  By the way, lime rules in this country. You have mayo with lime, and my chips are barbecue with lime.  The price of food in this area is expensive but easy to access.

The water is easy to drink. It actually taste better than the water at home. I am not walking around with a water bottle in my hand all of the time. I still must have one with me when I leave the condo. Some habits never leave.  The predominant  beer here is Imperial Light. There is a good selection of different wines and alcohol. I have not had sweet tea or my version of half and half sweet tea since I have been here.

I am enjoying the condo. It is a perfect size for me.  I usually do not use the ac during the day, but I  do use it at night in my bedroom, so I can sleep. I think I was conditioned for this in Charleston when I was sleeping on the second floor where the air did not work well when it worked. I sleep well with the hum of the ac, and I can some mornings go back to sleep after the birds start their morning routine.  There are more English speaking channels on cable than I previously thought.

By the end of this trip, you may be very tired of beach scenes, but I cannot get enough of them.  Great environment and great people equal a great trip. Love and laughter to all!

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maslow's hierarchy of needs five stage pyramide

To understand the other parts of his hierarchy, check out this site.  http://www simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Zip Lining in Costa Rica is Amazing!

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Hard to pose for a pic when you have just landed.


My first zip lining experience in Costa Rica was amazing!  The tour guide, Goose (Heiner Monge), picked me up at 7:45 at the entrance to the condo. (He is not sure why his mom gave him a German name. Yes, I asked.)

Monkey eating his breakfast

Monkey eating his breakfast

Aw we entered the long driveway to the Westin, Goose spotted monkeys in a tree. He stopped, so I could take pictures. This type of monkey is called the Screaming Monkey. It is not a pleasant sound in the mornings. They eat only leaves and flowers. We preceded to go to the Westin to pick up Andy and Jana.  A delightful couple who were on their celebratory twentieth wedding anniversary trip. They live in a small town in New Jersey which is twenty minutes from the Big Apple. They were waiting on us at the lobby of the Westin Hotel. This place was very impressive. You can get one night all inclusive for $800.00 a night.  I am not sure if this includes golf, but it does include all you can eat and drink.


At that time, I realized that it was going to be the guide, Jana, Andy and me  for this tour. I was happy about the individualized attention that we would be receiving.

Jana and Andy

Jana and Andy


We drove to Liberia and then we took the road to the mountain that would take us to the Rincon de la Jungle Adventure.  The road was not like any of the roads we have in the USA.  There are no words to explain driving on a gravel road up a mountain with ruts and potholes. Goose was an excellent driver who maneuvered the roads with ease.

When we arrived, we were greeted and given fresh Guava juice. It was so tasty and refreshing. We preceded to get in the back of a thing like a wagon that was attached to a John Deere tractor and then we rode in that for maybe fifteen minutes then we elected to take a hike to the mud bath and hot springs. The great thing about the small group was we could make decisions about how we wanted to spend our time. The hike was not an easy trail with many steps and a small path through the jungle. We did see a pretty waterfall and a few animals. Hike

When we arrived at the mud bath, we were hot and sweaty, so we changed to our bathing suits and proceeded to rub mud all over our bodies, while doing this, we met a young couple that attends Charleston College. The young lady’s hometown is Costa Rica, and the young man was from Atlanta.  After muddying our bodies, we let the mud dry then took a very cold shower to wash the mud off before entering the hot springs. There were three different pools with different temperatures. Jana and I started with the coolest temperature pool and preceded by stages to the hot one. It was very relaxing.

After this experience, we changed clothes and walked up a very steep hill to find our horses.  We mounted our horses and started the ride. I would have to say this was my least enjoyable part of the tour. The reins of my horse was a thick rope that was too big, and it was a circle, so I felt a little out of control. Of course, my horse wanted to run and be the leader of the pack.  The trails were narrow and steep. It was nothing like a Mississippi trail ride!

Goose and our rides

Goose and our rides

When we arrived at the main house, our lunch was waiting. It was delicious: pork chop, rice and beans, fried cheese, fried banana, squash soup and bread. Dessert was flan. We were also given more guava juice.

After this we started another steep uphill climb to the zip lining area. We decided to forgo the slide because we did not want to change to our bathing suits and then change again and then walk back up the mountain to zip line.

CR Excursion 052Zip lining was my favorite part of the day! We did eight lines and the scenery was amazing. I did not feel any fear as I thought I would. We had an awesome group doing it with us: the young couple, a family of four with two adorable young boys, and then our group of three.

After the fourth line, one of the zip line guides asked me if I wanted to go with him and do the bird pose. Of course, I did, then after that I rode with him again and did the upside down pose. It was so much fun. It was a great adrenaline rush. He made a video, but it is too long to post. I will work on that when I get home, so I can post it and give everyone a big, big laugh.

After the zip line was over, we headed in the direction of home, but we did stop by and do a small coffee tour on our way back. The guide explained that coffee is not grown in this region because it is too dry. The coffee of Costa Rica is grown further south where more rainfall occurs. The coffee was so good that you did not need sugar or creamer. I bought a bag to enjoy while I am here.

This is a great tour to take when you visit Costa Rica. I booked through Claudia at http://www.infoflamingo.com and the tour was though Ecotrans.  Goose was an exceptional tour guide. I would recommend zip lining in Costa Rica.  We had an amazing day.

Tours advertised in Tamarindo in dollar amounts

Tours advertised in Tamarindo in dollar amounts

Costa Rican Expat Hospitality

Flamingo Beach

Flamingo Beach

I am having a wonderful time in Costa Rica, but as with anywhere you are the hospitality of the people you meet  are what make your visit memorable.

Friday night, I went to a rib place.  It was a big place with a pool table and a band was set to preform later.  If you want to open a business in Costa Rica then I would recommend a Rib Shack.  The owner did say that he was not being shipped quality/big ribs. He said the ribs were small and hard to cook for fear of over cooking. The sauce was good. They also do not cook enough ribs, so get there early. Ribs are featured every Friday night.

Saturday, I walked down to the beach close to my condo. It is a pretty beach, but the water is not as clear as the neighboring Flamingo beach, and the sand is dark, and the waves are not as strong as Flamingo Beach. It was an enjoyable excursion because there is something that is drawing about the boats in the harbor, and my view looking back toward the condo was breathtaking. I met a delightful lady walking on the beach who is a foreign language teacher in North Carolina. She is originally from France, and she teaches French and Spanish in a middle school. She was here to take classes to improve her teaching skills and to sight see. She is the one who convinced me that I needed to rent a bicycle. She is also a solo traveler like myself,  and she bicycled everywhere, but she does speak Spanish, English and French. The people you meet enhance your journey.

Harbor to the right of the condo

Harbor to the right of the condo

View from the beach of the Flamingo Resort

View from the beach of the Flamingo Resort

Saturday night, I ate at Cocolocos with Bill. He is a great tour guide.  It is a small beach side restaurant at the south end of the Playa Flamingo Beach. It is quaint with very good service, and the sea bass and the sangria were good.  You park on the road and walk to this location. Use your phone or a flashlight to see the potholes if you venture to this location.  I met a talented photographer who works at the restaurant named Manfred J. Rodriguez. I hope to talk with him before I leave and share some of his work with you.CR 3 019


CR 3 031

Sunday, I walked to the Flamingo Beach. I had borrowed a chair from Ron, but I was afraid that it would get heavy on the walk, so I packed my Bubba Gump back pack that Kelley had purchased on a New York trip and away I went. It is not a bad walk going because it is downhill.

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It is beautiful beach with colorful water and strong waves The temperature of the water was perfect.  To the right are mountains with houses and to the left are mountains with houses. Some of these places, I was told, rent for $10,000.00 a week.  There was a masseuse on the beach. If my funds hold out, I will try a massage before I leave. There were several jewelry people, and I have a new ankle bracelet that I love. I rented a chair for $4.00, paid $5.00 for my new ankle bracelet and $1.00 for water. It was a $10.00 beach day. I will have to do better. Beach days should be free!

I thought I was in decent shape. No, I am not in any shape at all.  The hour walk at Veterans Park in Tupelo did not prepare me for the uphill walk on my return. I need to do this walk every day, and I am sure I will because the world begins at the bottom of our road that comes to the condo.

I  visited with  Claudia this morning about a bicycle and excursions after breakfast at Marie’s. I booked an awesome excursion for tomorrow. I cannot wait to share it with you later in the week. I will rent the bicycle later.

It is like being in paradise every morning when you wake up, but I do miss my cell phone! I want to hear my girls say, “I love you”, and I want to hear about the days of the people I love, but there is a freedom to sitting on the beach and not checking your phone every five minutes.  E-mail and messaging on Facebook really helps.

It is hard to explain what I am doing here to strangers.  I think they get the wrong impression that I am a trust fund kid, or I am a wealthy divorcee. Wrong on both accounts!  You are here for a month. Why?   I am just a lady looking for people with beautiful hearts and for beautiful places. I will be a retired instructor in Mississippi in the  middle of August who has firm legs from climbing mountains and a great tan and wonderful Costa Rican memories.

Hasta luego – until later……

Costa Rican Expat

July 4 and CR1 101
My Balcony View

My Balcony View


I am now a Costa Rican expat.  To begin the departure for my expat trip in Costa Rica, Lori and I bounced out of bed at 2:25 a.m., and we quickly got ready and headed to the airport. The ride passed quickly to Memphis as we chatted and solved a few of the world’s minor problems. I cannot thank Lori enough for making this sacrifice of sleep for me.  I arrived at the airport in time for a Skinny Chocolate Latte before boarding. On the first flight, my seatmates were great companions. The guy on the right side was a lawyer from Memphis who attended Ole Miss Law School, and he was going to San Jose to meet his father and his friends for a blue marlin fishing trip. They were to meet and board a boat at 5:00 for a weekend trip that would begin 120 miles from shore.  The young lady on my left was beginning her senior trip with ten other young ladies, and they were headed to the Bahamas. She will enter UT Chatt in the fall. She wants to be a nurse and work with veterans because her father and step-father were both veterans of the Vietnam War.

As soon as everyone was seated, the pilot announced that there was a problem with the hydraulics, so we sat on the plane for an hour and forty-five minutes. While we were waiting, the airline played some really good music.  One song took me back in time to May of 2013, and I wanted to hear a British voice.

Everyone on the plane was connecting in Atlanta. Panic started to arise.  No one made his or her connection. While we were in the air, Delta re-booked all of us on connecting flights. When we arrived, we were all checking our cells to see what time we would get to leave. I was scheduled to leave the next day. I went to a Delta phone, and the lady re-scheduled me to fly American Airlines to Miami and then Liberia, Costa Rica. I would arrive in Liberia at 7:00.  I notified the condo and my driver, and then went in to a full blown panic about the bag I had checked in at the Memphis airport with Delta. I talked to three Delta agents and one American Airline agent and walked many miles in the Atlanta airport. They rerouted my bag and hoped it would be there. In my carry-on bag, I always take an extra set of clothes just in case my luggage does not arrive. I had gym shorts, undies and my computer and my make-up, but no toothbrush! I will re-think the contents of my carry-on bag for the next trip.

My lawyer friend was not quite so lucky. The boat would not wait on him to arrive in San Jose at 8:00, so he was trying to fly to Honduras and then to San Jose. I hope it worked out for him. He reminded me that I did have a month and that he had only four days, and he really wanted to go fishing. My other companion was on a 4:00 flight; she was happy.

While I was waiting for my Miami flight, I was paged to the counter. Why do we always gravitate toward the negative thoughts? As I was walking toward the counter, all I could think was that I was going to be bumped because of my late booking. Oh no! I   was being bumped to first class because the guy with the knee brace needed the exit seat for more leg room.  I have not flown first class since Daddy stopped buying my plane tickets. It was wonderful! A big seat that will move in many different directions, better snacks, free drinks, a mint, and the best part was great conversation with Dr. Mark who was a fascinating man. We discussed higher education, religion and the city of Miami. You can learn a lot in a short flight. He was a very nice man.

On the Miami flight to Liberia, there were only thirty-five people.  It was heaven! Everyone had three seats. I met a darling couple who was on one of their honeymoons. He lists properties with airbnb. After arriving in Liberia, it took twenty minutes to exit the plane, find your luggage and go through customs. I was by this point very tired and excited that it was a fast transition. My driver was waiting with a sign with my name on it. I forgot to a picture of the sign. He was a nice guy who spoke very little English, but he was a very safe driver.

After I arrived at the condo, I was met by a nice young man and shown to my condo, and it was exactly what I wanted it to be.  I walked down to the Monkey Bar for a burrito and a long awaited cold beer.

When I was awakened this morning at 6:15 by the sound of the birds, I jumped up and ran to the balcony. I could not see last night what my view would be. I knew what it looked like on airbnb, but I had no idea what it would look like in person. I was a very happy camper as I sat on the balcony and drank my tea. You know I am a coffee girl, but I found one small packet of tea in a drawer.July 4 and CR1 097

After a shower, my focus was finding groceries and breakfast. I heard two men speaking English, and I stopped them and asked them about breakfast and a grocery store. They told me to go to Marie’s and eat and the grocery store would be at the entrance of this street.

I saw something that said Automart- I thought that it was an automobile place, but it is a small store.  I walked on to Marie’s and had breakfast. While at Marie’s, I met four new friends: Ron, Bill, Claudia and the owner Marie.  They are all residents of this country. Bill is considering moving to Charleston, so we are going to trade information. Claudia is a beautiful German girl who runs a bicycle and a tourist shop.  Maria is an English girl who has been in CR for many years, and she is a beautiful lady with a kind spirit.  Ron is a fun loving guy who plans to visit England and Africa in August. He has also been here several years.  I am going to try to start learning the Spanish language. Breakfast at Marie’s was amazing.

Breakfast at Marie's

Breakfast at Marie’s

Ron offered to take me to a big grocery store and show me Flamingo Beach. On the driving tour he also showed me a local restaurant, the bank, a yoga studio, and many other places, and then we stopped at the grocery store which was not as big as the size of the Dollar General in Tupelo. Groceries are more expensive here. I spent $115.00, but that will be cheaper than eating out for each meal. The kindness of people always restores my soul.  I am so thankful for my new friends. Ron said, “Expats must help each other.” It made this Hemingway girl so happy to be called an expat.

Local Restaurant View

Local Restaurant View

My groceries are put away, and my clothes are unpacked. Now, I am ready for more fun!

Costa Rica Countdown


The Costa Rica Countdown has begun! I have heard that preparation and anticipation of a trip is just as rewarding as the actual trip. I beg to differ! I think when I am looking at the view from the condo balcony, and the to-do-list is checked off that I will enjoy the actual trip more than the planning.

When you book a room through airbnb.com, make sure that the only charge you will incur is the price of the room. Get the price in writing from the owner or the organization. There should be no hidden fees from the owner like the electric bill or a hidden deposit.  This confusion resulted in many e-mails, and it was partially resolved, but it was stressful.  Airbnb supported me to a point, but they would not back me 100%. The owner of the condo agrees to the company terms when the property is listed; therefore, there should be no other charges or cash transactions. I take some credit in the misunderstanding, but it will not happen again when I book a room.

Car has been reserved. I am super excited about a driver standing in front of the airport with a sign with my name on it.

Your credit card company and your debit card company must be notified if you plan to make any international transactions. There is a 3% increase on your debit card for cash advances.  My credit card company would only issue me a pin by mail – not helpful!

Shots- Yes, that was today.  Typhoid and Hepatitis A and then an extra one for Kayden’s arrival in September.  Two in one arm and one in the other arm. I am a little sore, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be.

Packing- Clothes were easy, but I packed too much again, so I re-did my packing. I have a washer and dryer, so I can wash clothes. I will be willing to wager that I will once again wear only half of the clothes that I pack.

I tried to find a magic number like four pair of gym shorts, four dress shorts, four dresses and four bathing suits.

Toiletries are very hard for me to limit!  Yes, I want my Victoria Secret body wash. I am a toiletries ho (Thank you, Jenny, for that phrase.) – Yes, I need my lotions and potions, and I think Vaseline can literally cure everything.

Of course, there are other important things that must be taken care of before you leave like nails and a pedi.

I have an early flight, and Lori has volunteered to take me to the airport. I would have never asked her because of the ungodly hour that we will need to leave, but she is willing to sacrifice sleep for me to go on an adventure. She is always with me in spirit.

I hope this is going to be my Pray part of my Eat, Pray, and Love journey. There has been so much joy in the last six months and so much love showered on me, but there have been major changes and disappointments in my life, and I need to embrace all of the happy changes and let the disappointments flow in to the ocean, and think about what I want to be when I grow up. People enter your life for a reason and for a season. Sometimes the purpose of their visit is clear and sometimes it is not, but you must trust and believe that when one chapter closes a better one will begin.

lady in ocean

Also if you want to see your family and friends, leave for a month. They will want to hang out with you.  My social calendar has blossomed.  A few friends are yearning to visit me, and I hope they are able to pull it off and do Costa Rica with me!

The Costa Rica Countdown continues.  Thank you for sharing my journey with me.


CR drink

Costa Rica – My Future Home

      Playa FlamingoCosta Rica  is my future home.   As I sit here texting a friend about the benefits of Cialas that I have heard, while eating barbecue pork rinds with an ice pack on my shoulder and upper back, I thought about my change of plans.

My upper back started bothering me when I was in Charleston. I think it was sitting on the couch in a humped back state working on my class and my blog that did it, but who knows. It could have been a combination of things like the bed I was sleeping on at the house. I did walk every day, so my lower back is feeling great.

Anyway, I started chartering my course for the west, and I realized that if I flew I would only see Portland and I was going to spend around $2,000 for seven days.  If I drove I would spend more but I would get to see more sites along the way, but the hotel expenses would add up.  I did not think my back could handle driving right now, even though it is feeling stronger every day, and I wanted more time away, or you could say more “bang for the buck”. I was attending an amazing Soiree in Portland, OR, which I hope I will be able to attend at a later date. It is going to be an amazing meeting of great minds.

I heard a friend talk about a birthday trip that she was taking to Costa Rica, and I started researching a trip there. I can go there for a month and eat well and take a few excursions for $3,000.00 and stay at a very nice resort.  This would be a sanctuary of beauty and new experiences.  I hesitated a little, and I am not sure why I hesitated, but after a swift reality check by my non-blood sisters, I was ready to book the airline tickets.  I hope to be healthy and full of life for a long time, but no guarantees are given for the future and who knows if we will be alive or healthy next year, and I can be really cheap when I get home.  No new fall clothes or shoes for me, and Christmas might be a little slim, my girls, but I did hit the winter sale at the ICC bookstore in May. I know that makes everyone feel better about his/her Christmas present. My friends who have seen my closet are thinking— what could you possible need that you do not have?

I started my search on airbnb.com. I would recommend this site but save every correspondence that you have with the owners. You must register and then you can send messages to the owners.  The price should be set before you leave. Print off your reservation slip.  I will be staying at the Flamingo Marina Resort. From my balcony I can see the ocean and the resort swimming pool.

Airport location and the location of your place of dwelling is important. When I started looking for a ticket, I chose the most common airport which is San Jose, but it was five hours from the resort. I realized this was not going to work and that I needed to fly in to Liberia airport which would be an hour and a half from the resort. There are several airports in Costa Rico, and you will need to research location. You also must arrange transportation to your dwelling which the price of the shuttle depends on distance and if you can take a shared shuttle or if you need a private shuttle. Of course with my arrival and departure dates, I need a private car.

I have found an excursion site. I want to take the Rincón de la Vieja National Park tour and as many other tours as I can afford. I will also be happy just sitting on the balcony or walking along the beach.  The beach close to this resort is Flamingo Beach.


Many people are retiring to Costa Rico and Belize, so I will need to check out Belize next. I know that YOU want me to compare the two locations for you.  Maybe next year……….

I know some of you are still reading because you want to hear about the Cialias… nothing really to add except if you need it, purchases can be made from Canada. I am not endorsing this in any way just passing on the gossip!


Wine, Eggs, and Conflict

Wine 002

It is in most Southern Girl’s DNA to avoid conflict because our grandmothers and our mothers avoided conflict and tried to make everybody happy. This makes some women happy, but to others, it is an energy and soul draining life. We also avoid hurting someone’s feelings at all cost. We sprinkle sugar on the truth. We choose to overlook things that happen while hoping these things will go away and stay in our little happy place that we created in our minds. This brings me to ask you a trivial question: “What kind of wine do you like?”  I was buying wine last night. It was on sale (My friends know how much I love a Sale sign.), and I was looking at all of the different selections, and I realized that I really did not know what my favorite wine was, so I bought four different kinds: Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I thought my favorite was a red blend, but I really had no clue.


I immediately thought of the movie Runaway Bride. Who does not love that movie? Do you know how you want your eggs? Do you know what you need to be happy? How much of you are you willing to change or give away to be with someone or to make everyone else happy?   Do you know what you like or what you want or do you try to bend to whatever someone wants you to be so you can be his dream woman, her dream man, or the perfect daughter, son, mother, father, brother or sister?

Runaway BrideMaggie Carpenter to Ike Graham:
“When I was walking down the aisle, I was walking toward somebody who didn’t have any idea who I really was. And it was only half the other person’s fault, because I had done everything to convince him that I was exactly what he wanted. So it was good that I didn’t go through with it because it would have been a lie. But you – you knew the real me.”

Yes, I know you have to bend and tolerate things that  would not have been your choice, but at what point do you give yourself away  and realize that you are living someone else’s life.  You wake up one morning, and you feel anxious and not happy, but you do not know why because the farce has been going on so long.  You do not know what it takes to make you happy because you have not taken the time to find out or let’s be real, life does not give you a lot of time to focus on you. I am now getting that time, but it is been hard to wrap my mind around the process of not being identified by my past.

Some people were born with the gift of authenticity, but most of us were not. What does it mean to be authentic or genuine? I think you must know yourself before you can be authentic and then be true to that self that you discover.  It makes me think of the line from Shakespeare as Polonius said to Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true…”.  We are not responsible for other people’s happiness, but we are responsible for making someone unhappy if we do not present our genuine authentic selves to the world.

How do we find that? Well, I think it involves a constant pursuit of trying to know and love yourself. Sometimes that requires serious soul searching and painful alone time.  It also means being honest, humble, and filled with love, and you cannot have that if you are filled with resentment because you are not living the life that you want because you do not know who you are and what you like and dislike, or you are not willing to take a chance to be who you want to be.

Embrace conflict if it will keep you from being unhappy or making a bad decision. The conflict will pass as does most things on this earth.  I have so much to learn about me. It is going to be an action packed journey filled with laughter and love!
The real me loves Malbec Wine, and most of the time, I do not want to cook, and I can live without dog hair.

Charleston: What I Need

Charleston 1 235As I arrived home from Charleston, I realized how much I knew about myself that I did not know before which I think happens more easily when you are out of your natural habitat and must rely on yourself.  Until I went on this journey, I did not really know what I would need to be happy or to be content away from home.

  • Coffee pot –Mornings are not happy until I have my coffee and my first breakfast.  Yes, I have my first breakfast then in a couple of hours a second breakfast of yogurt and fruit.
  • Internet access- two screens would be nice. Spoiled rotten. Thank you ICC!
  • Comfortable bed- Yes, my back feels better with a firm soft mattresses. I know that is an oxymoron, but somehow there really is such a mattress.   There is a hotel in the West that had such a mattress. I wonder if they would let me go in that room and just look at the brand.
  • Places to explore or an ordinary place with interesting people – It can be a coffee shop or McDonald’s, a beach, a sports bar – not picky. It does not have to be anything elaborate.
  • Reading material – I hit the $1.00 sale at the Charleston library. Greg bought me a book, and Lori sent me a book. I also had a few of the many magazines that I subscribe to each month.
  • Box fan- This is a very important thing for the packing list.   Those girls would come in at all hours of the night, and I would only hear the front door close. Turn it on “3”, and you might could sleep through a train crossing. They were a very considerate group of girls.
  • Phone calls and text from the people I love- my support team!

I thought my needs were more complicated than this list, but thankful they are not!

I did not need half of the “stuff” I carried with me. I was amused when I started putting all of those hanging clothes in the trunk that I never wore. I mean really who wears blue jeans in Charleston in the summer- not many people. It is too hot! I will be more mindful of what I carry when I pack for heading west, and I will check out the temperature for each region.  I think my tan is going to suffer, but my Secret (deodorant) will not have to work so hard when I venture to the West.

This trip superseded all of my expectations about being in a new place for an extended period of time. It was a test, and I PASSED!  Yes, we educators always want to pass, but if I had not passed, I would have regrouped and tried again. There are some positive attributes of being a stubborn Southern girl!   I have never been away from Mississippi or my family for more than a week or maybe ten days.   I was happy hanging out with new friends; the Herald family and their friends took this MS girl in as one of their own. Lucas, Jessica, and Trey adopted me on the beach and even thought we tied, we had a good time cheering for the USA soccer team.

At one of my McDonald’s internet runs, I met a veteran of WWII, Lee Hunt who was aboard the USS Laffey in World War II   and his friend, Richard Schramm, 1SG Retired. Mr. Hunt was born on June 6, 1926. Mr. Hunt’s kindness and humility was inspiring.  I will always be thankful for the friendliness, kindness, and love of my new friends and acquaintances.


I was also happy alone on the porch reading or sitting on the beach writing. I loved the house. Notice the light blue ceiling that keeps the haints away. “Haints” are restless spirits of the dead who, for whatever reason, have not moved on from their physical world.

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Front of the House

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My Reading Porch

Carriage House in the back of the house.

Carriage House in the back of the house.

This does not mean that I did not miss or think of my family and friends, but with the world we live in now, technology allows you to stay in touch and communicate with all of your peeps. I talked to my girls every day just like I do when I am home, and we had a group text going at all times. There were texts and phone calls from family and friends and two great visits with Adelia and Michelle.

I can also live with other people! I have lived with my children, but for the last four years I have lived by myself. I am still (I think) an easy roommate to work with under most circumstances, and I think I showed my college roommates that a woman my age is easy to live with if she is not your mother!

I will visit Charleston again. I had a wonderful month, but now the Wild West is calling my name.

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