BOLT Top 5: Reasons Why We Like Cruising

Cruising is very special for Kathy and I. We met on a cruise. When we were working cruising was a great way to vacation. We started our lives of retirement and travel with a 30 day cruise. We know that cruising is not for everyone. It’s not the best way to immerse yourself in a locale. You usually spend less than a day in port. It’s not the cheapest way to travel. But for us, it’s one of our favorite ways to go. Here’s our top 5 reasons why.

1. Ease of Travel

Rather then changing hotels several times,check in, check out, lug suitcases around, etc, when you cruise you check in once and are set for the length of the vacation. On our last cruise we visited 3 countries and a total of 9 ports. Cruising made that so much easier.

2. Meals

Cruise ships have amazing food! There is a huge variety of selections and dining options. Unless you choose to dine at the “specialty restaurants” all your meals are included in the price of the cruise.

3. The Ports

Cruising is a great way to see places you might not normally visit. You will visit many exotic places on most cruises. You can choose one of the many shore excursions offered by the cruise lines or just get off the ship and explore on your own.

4. Group Gatherings

Cruises are such an awesome way to get a group together. With a minimum of planning you can have a wonderful family vacation, class reunion or simply a gathering of friends.

5. Value

Cruising is not the least expensive way to travel but when you add up all of the above we think you get very good value for your travel dollar, especially if you put in some effort to research bargains.

How about you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on cruising. Contact us at boltraveling@gmail.com

5 Fun Things to do While Living in Merida

Having fun and finding beauty, even during a pandemic, is easy and affordable to do in and around Merida. Here are five suggestions.

1. Take a Walk
Merida is a great city for walking especially in the Centro or Paseo Montejo áreas.

2. Explore Mayan History and Culture
Chichen Itza is just one of many ancient Mayan heritage sites in the area. Get a good guide and learn more about this beautiful culture.

3. Visit a Cenote
If you do nothing else, visit at least one of these magical and sacred natural water filled sink holes.

4. Go Looking for Iguanas
These dragon like creatures are all over the city, especially in parks. I love trying to spot them as they are shy and blend in well with their surroundings.

5. Cool Off with a Day at the Beach or a Pool!
Merida is 🔥 HOT! There are lovely beaches less than 30 minutes away and many local hotels allow you to come swim, better yet…get an apartment with a pool!

BOLT Reviews: Cenote Santa Barbara

Words and pictures can not fully express the magic I experienced on our recent trip to the little town of Homun and the Cenote Santa Barbara.

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The regional term is specifically associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where we are currently living.

The Maya believed cenotes to be a gateway to Xibalba, the underworld, and the god of rain, Chaac, was believed to live at the bottom of these sacred wells. The Maya performed rituals and ceremonies at sacred cenotes to ask for rain and good crops.

Cenote Santa Barbara has three really beautiful and accessable cenotes. We were able to explore and swim in all three. The stairs down to the cenotes were well designed and very stable they all had hand rails. This was not true for the cenote we visited in Valladolid and I chose not to risk going down.

To get to the first cenote you could ride a bike or the horse drawn cart. It’s a fun less than 10 minute ride, whichever you choose.

Our friends and we swam in all 3 cenotes. The water was cool but not cold. For me it was a relaxing and healing experience.

We ended our day at the restaurant on the premises. We were able to choose from many delicious options of Yuccatecan style food. Admission to the cenote, including lunch was 290 pesos, less than $15 USD!

For more information about these amazing gifts of nature visit https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/mexico-s-cenotes-hidden-gems-of-the-yucatan/

BOLT Reviews: Playa Bonita Beach Club

Just a short 3o minutes away from Mérida, Mexico is the city of Chelem. This sleepy little pueblo is home to the perfect spot for a getaway.

Playa Bonita Beach Club is the perfect spot for a day trip. For only 100 pesos (about $5 usd) you can spend all day on a comfortable beach lounge.

There is a lovely little pool, changing rooms and very clean restrooms.

I was especially delighted by how good, I mean really good the food and drinks were. There is a full, moderately priced menu. The waiters were attentive and friendly. You can have your food brought to your oceanside lounge or table.

I enjoyed a lovely walk along the beach and several people were actually enjoying time in the waves. All in all I spent a perfect day at Playa Bonita Beach Club. I can’t wait to go back!

If you have a special getaway spot in the Yucatan or wherever you are, we’d love to hear about it. Comment here or write us at BOLTraveling@gmail.com

Nuestras Primeras Dos Semanas en Mérida

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since our arrival in Merida. Because of Covid concerns we haven’t done much exploring yet, outside of getting to know our new neighborhood. Here is a summary of our first two weeks in pictures.

First off, We love our little orange house and the small compound in which we are living.
There is a lovely park one block away with walking trails. I am really enjoying my morning walks an seeing my neighbors and their dogs.
There is a GREAT BIG mall within walking distance too. It has EVERYTHING including an enormous supermarket (Soriana).
There are all kinds of restaurants in the area including a pretty good pizza place (yes, they deliver).
Equally close is another, smaller, mall with a fully stocked Walmart.
There is a beautiful community of Black folks here. They had a gathering in the park on Sunday which included a toy drive. Kathy enjoyed meeting some new folks and seeing some old friend and dropping off some toys.
We have a tortilleria right across the street from us, which is wonderful.
The place I was most excited to discover was right next door! There is a wonderful little tienda that sells fresh fruits and veggies, and egg. They even have a butcher!

So, our new life in Merida is comfortable, quiet and beautiful…all we could ask for during these difficult times. We look forward to exploring and sharing more as the weeks progress. Stay safe! Love and light to all!

BOLT: Reflecting Gratitude

As I walked along the beach this morning in Da Nang, Vietnam I was reflecting on how grateful I am for our time here. We planned on a month but it’s almost a year, thanks to Covid.

I’m grateful for sheltering in a place that took the virus seriously, where everyone wears masks and respects social distancing rules when in effect.

I’m grateful that I am here with my beloved, Kathy, and that we both remained physically healthy and mentally well.

I’m grateful for time with family. While we may not be related by blood I have truly found family here.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do: support another woman in birthing a baby. I’m a doula y’all! Look for a blog soon about this experience.

I’m grateful for some amazing sunrises, wonderful adventures and beautiful sights to see. As our time here is winding down (we leave in early December, details soon) I wanted to express my gratitude to Da Nang for helping me to #findbeautyeveryday

Thank you for allowing me to share my gratefulness. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for.

The Magical World of Zoom

At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!

Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.

Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).

I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!

This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.

If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at boltraveling@gmail.com

I’d love to hear about your Zoom experiences!

Da Nang! BOLT Top 5 Things to See Here!

We are so fortunate to be sheltering in Da Nang during this pandemic. We are able to go places and do things. The virus appears to be under control and with sane precautions we are able to enjoy this part of Vietnam. We’ve been here long enough that we have our top 5 spots.

5. Hoi An Ancient Town

This picturesque town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s touristy with lots of shops and souvenirs. It also has lovely ancient buildings and views of the water. Hoi An is a short. (less than 45 minutes) ride from Da Nang. A highlight for us was the river boat ride.

Hoi An

4. Bana Hills Sun World

This place is amazing! A marvel of engineering and design, it’s set high above the city. To get there you take the world’s longest cable car. After a breathtaking ride you can spend hours exploring the park. There are amusement park rides, arcade games, flower gardens and beautiful buildings. A highlight of Bana Hills for most folks is the amazing Golden Hands Bridge.

Bana Hills

3. Kwan Yin Statue

I love that we are sheltering in a city that is overlooked by Kwan Yin. She is the Buddhist goddess of love and compassion. A short ride up into the hills can take you for a visit. There you can oooh and ahhh at beautiful statues and gardens and even see some monkeys (a highlight for me).

Monkeys at the Kwan Yin Statue

2. Vinpearlland

It’s a water park! It’s a zoo! It’s an amusement park! It’s an awesome place to spend the day! Vinpearlland is the kind of place you have to experience, it’s hard for me to really tell you how much fun can be had there! I’ve been twice and each time I discover more. I especially loved feeding the giraffes on the safari river!

Vinpearlland

1. Hot Springs Park

I LOVE a good soak in a hot springs or even a hot tub. Unlike most hot springs that I have visited, this place has so much more! It’s a fully loaded water park with all the slides and water features you’d expect. There’s a 5D movie theater, an area full of growling, moving dinosaurs and there are lovely gardens. I really enjoyed the mud bath I had and spending time with Kathy and our friends at this lovely place.

Hot Springs Park

We are grateful for our time here in Da Nang. It’s a beautiful big city. We are looking forward to exploring more of Vietnam in the near future and sharing our experiences with you!

Change is Possible! Don’t give up hope!

Kathy and I were talking this morning about revolution in all it’s forms. We are tired and heart broken. Tired of the killing of black folks. Tired of police brutality. Tired of injustice. As I despaired over the state of the United States and what is happening there, Kathy reminded me that change does happen. As I expressed doubt that unorganized uprising can effect change she reminded me that the truth of revolution is that it is often unorganized. As I expressed anxiety that people will be hurt and die she reminded me that dying can be a revolutionary act and that dying is not the worst thing that can happen. Ultimately she reminded me of the revolutionary changes achieved as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. This post is hopefully a reminder for us all.

In March 1965 these folks braved Billy clubs, tear gas, dogs and a racist governor who empowered a racist sheriff to do anything he could think of to stop those unarmed, non-violent people from walking to the capital of Alabama for their rights. They marched for 54 miles over 5 days.

In March 2015 Kathy and I repeated that 54 mile walk. We marched with foot soldiers who had been on the original march. We marched with young people, students and families. We marched because we wanted to honor and give thanks for those original marchers and the changes they wrested from the hands of the powerful.

We marched with Ms Annie Pearl Avery. She is a life long civil rights activist. Ms Annie Pearl was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday 50 years ago. She was beaten and jailed. She didn’t let that stop her. She made the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and she was with us every step of the 2015 march!

We met Julian Bond, who is a reminder that change can come about in many ways: political, street activism, education and more.

On the way we stopped at the memorial to Viola Liuzzo who lost her life in 1965 during the original Selma to Montgomery March. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old.

We marched to remember, reconnect and restore. We marched because the fight for civil rights and social justice is far from over.

We made it! 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

In 2015 President Barak Obama gave a speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. He embraced Congressman John Lewis who was beaten on that bridge 50 years ago. Change does happen!

Don’t give up hope dear brothers and sisters. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur