We Did It! Buying an RV BOLT Style 

Kathy and I have a simple formula for realizing our dreams. It works really well as we pursue our vision of living a “home free” life of world travel. We used this formula for realizing our current dream of spending a year traveling the U.S.A. visiting national parks, African American historical sites and other spots of interest. 

The first step is gratitude. We give thanks to the Universe and to all the ancestors, angels, bodhisattvas, Gods and Goddesses for the abundance in our lives. This practice centers and grounds us in a place of openers and trust. 

Next comes intention setting. For us this involves lots of talking, prayer and meditation. We finally came to the clear intention of buying a used RV and traveling North America for a year or so. 

The next step is crucial. ACTION!  Having formed the intention we began to move towards it. We (Kathy especially) did lots of research while we were still in Asia. What kind of RV? How to buy a used RV? How to live full time in an RV?  We budgeted, planned, watched videos and read lots of articles and blogs. We waffled between class A or C, we debated about length, year, models and mileage. By the time we boarded the plane to come home, we had decided to trust the Universe to lead us to the RV that would be right for us.

And It did! We landed in Atlanta, Georgia and began our search. We looked at many RVs.  Some were too small, some too big. Many were out of our price range. A few were poorly cared for. We found  “Winnie” in Mobile, Alabama. I knew it was ours when the beautiful and brown teenaged boy came out to show her to us.  Our 1994 Minnie Winnie DL model Winnebago is clean, well cared for and has low mileage. It’s an oldie but a goodie, perfect for us.  Right now it’s at the mechanic’s where they are getting it road ready.

We can’t wait to take Winnie out on the road and to share more adventures with you!  

How about you?  How do you realize your dreams? Also, we’d love to hear your suggestions of spots to visit this year and please follow us and let us know if we are in your area. We’d love to see you. 

Boundlessly Homeward

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In one week Marci and I will board a plane for a twenty-four hour flight back to the US. We haven’t been home in a year. As a matter of fact, we celebrated our one year on the road anniversary two weeks ago. We haven’t really yearned to return to the States. We of course look forward to seeing our family and friends but we dread the “noise” of the United States. Those conversations about who is winning as if speaking about a horse race instead of a yet still undecided national election. Or the seemingly daily shootings at schools or during unnecessary police encounters. And the ever-present advertising of fast food, fast cars, fast acting nasal spray. Everything wants to be fast in America. But Marci and I have embraced slow. We eat slow. Our food is prepared after we order it. We move slow. Most days we never use a car. We travel slow.

But we do have a plan. The fact is the US is much more than all those dreads, that have recently caused both of us to moan and doubt our ability to cope as individuals and as a happily married unit. For us, the United States is a place of unbelievable beauty. We have traveled to the Grand Canyon and Glacier National Parks. And as we find every time we travel anywhere on earth, the US is place of astonishing kindness. Like the apparenBOLT ustly homeless woman we met a a rest stop who shared her homemade jam inspiring us to share our morning coffee. We three had a breakfast picnic before Marci and I drove onward to eventually meet some friends in New Orleans for Essence Fest.

There is without a doubt a system of racist policies and racist actions in our country, the results of which slash our hearts. But we decided we were not going to allow those things to keep us from enjoying the beauty. So we are buying an RV and touring the country for a year or so, visiting National Parks, museums and chatting with women of a certain age about their relationship to our country.

This trip home is not the end of our international travels. North America is just another continent and once we are ready we will move on. But while we are home we will explore America from a black, queer and elder perspective. These things inform our choices and inspire us. We know we want to attend several women festivals throughout the year beginning with one 20160619_132905-1.jpgof our favorites the NIA Gathering. We also want to visit Underground Railroad sites. We’ve left lots of free time in our schedule so that we can take suggestions and move slowly and boundlessly.

We invite your suggestions and hope you will continue to follow our travels as we return home.

If you had a year to travel North America where would you go? What would be your first three stops. Please share in the comments.

Save Money with Pharmacists

One of the valid concerns people have when contemplating long term travel is what will they do about medical issues. We are not getting any younger although some of us may be healthier now than when we were young and much more foolish about our bodies. Health considerations, even if you are in the best of health will pop up during your travels.

Marci and I have spent a year in South-East Asia. This is a tropicalimages-5.jpgclimate filled with tropical diseases , like those in the old movies. And although Marci has not really gotten sick, I have suffered through unknown rashes and infections. The good news is I am fine. The great news is it cost me less than fifteen dollars to handle the most expensive health scare. That is for less than $15 I was completely cured of a skin infection I thought would send me home to the United States and my Mama’s loving house since we no longer have a house of our own.

The thing is health care just does not cost that much in other countries. I am not talking about democratic socialist nations of Europe although there too healthcare is much more affordable than the United States. I am talking for profit businesses that offer western trained doctors and if you prefer it western solutions and medicines. I have no preference. When I am sick, I just want to be well. The western solution to my skin problem would have cost closer to $100 dollars but that is still less than my deductible would have been at Kaiser and that is with Obama Care or the Affordable Care Act.

But the real stars of affordable healthcare are pharmacists. These women and men will look you over and prescribe the answer in a matter of minutes. I was on my way to have lunch when I thought I would show a pharmacist my itchy arm. He gave me a topical medicine to try for two dollars. Later that evening I had completely stopped scratching. Two days later my skin looked better than ever. It worked. And still have some medicine left over.

When I was in Spain I went to a pharmacist because someone told me to. I had terrible canker sores and could barely open my mouth not that I needed to, I didn’t then and still images-3.jpgdon’t speak Spanish, to my great regret. The pharmacist who didn’t speak English took one look inside my barely opened mouth figured out what I needed. He handed me a bottle while miming for me to rinse my mouth and gargle with it 6 times a day. I nodded and paid him. The next day I could talk and more importantly, smile without pain. A few days later I was back to my old chatting laughing self.

Pharmacist visits are faster and much less expensive when compared to going to the doctor or clinic. No waiting rooms means no waiting. Just explain your problem and let her figure out the cure.  Eventhough Marci and I live in the shadow of an award winning hospital with an outpatient clinic, I always try the pharmacist first. So far so good.

There are few places where you will be unable to secure routine healthcare as you move through your adventure traveling across our beautiful planet. The price will vary mostly in line with the cost of living overall. The US notwithstanding.  Keep a credit card handy. Consider travel insurance. Have a quick checkup and discussion with your home doctor. Then get on a plane. The world awaits, warts, canker sores, upset tummies and all. Enjoy.

Have you ever had to see a doctor on an international trip.  Share your story with us in the comments. Thank you.

PAY ATTENTION

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RAM DASS

Pack Light: One of the greatest gifts I ever received from travel was when I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This was long before Face Book and Twitter but the internet was available and I joined
a few chat groups about the walk before actually embarking on it. The one piece of advice I read over and again was not to bring much, the Camino will provide. I was living in a Buddhist monastery at the time and didn’t have much so I was thrilled to follow the advice although I still carried too much.

Even so my watch broke at the airport the day I left. I lost a book during a layover in Amsterdam. And I arrived in Madrid with one backpack and a brand new 2-person tent and a disposable camera. (Told you I over packed.) But an amazing thing happened. Without the book I was forced to chat with people. Without the watch I had no way to schedule things so my days were free. The camera had a limited number of snaps so soon I was free from taking photos. I simply was. I was one woman on the Camino. I was one person walking westward. I was one human drinking coffee in small cafes near tiny villages. I was free to be. And I was. 

BTW the Camino did provide. I didn’t use the tent once.

 

Be Present: When I was in Peace Corps, there was this young woman who I sat near during our daily trainings. Everyday she would glance around the gazebo we used and shout “We’re in Fucking Africa!” and grin with such joy her body shook. Everyday the rest of us had a reminder to be present and realize we were privileged and how terrific our lives were. At that moment no matter what else was happening we had an opportunity to stop and appreciate where we were and how beautiful it was.

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Turn Off Your Toys: When we were in Bali, Marci and I were invited to a Balinese funeral. I had read a few things about these funerals and really wanted to go and record the experience so we could show our friends. But as we walked up we realized that this was no place to document our travels. This was one of those things we would have to talk about but not tweet about. And for us that was perfect. I felt more relaxed once I didn’t or couldn’t photograph the happenings. It was certainly photo worthy with people dancing and entranced to the point of waving knives around. But it was also so personal that I would have felt intrusive if we had taken a few pics for the blog. Instead we felt welcomed and the community seemed quite proud to share their ritual with outsiders. We smiled politely and watched. It was one of the best times I have had on this never-ending journey of ours. We are grateful.

Share with us a time the world opened up and surprised you.  Were you seeing it through a camera lens or were you letting you mind wander? Did it sneak up on you in the early morning? Were you making your way home after work? Leave us a comment. Thank you.

PRAYER TO THE ANCESTORS

We enjoy the best days of our lives because of the past struggles of our ancestors

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Since we’ve been traveling Marci and I have discovered that our entire lives are actually prayers to the ancestors. Mostly prayers of gratitude. It is the knowledge that without those black survivors we would not be here in this place. Where ever this place may be. Without them we would not have the wherewithal to live lives of travel.photo-0421-2014-chinese-forget-ones-ancestors

Once we began living our dream, we discovered we owe it all to someone other than ourselves. Sure we sold our things and actually got on the road. But none of this is possible without my mother who worked as a cashier at a grocery store and sent two of her three children to college. Or Marci’s mom Muriel who lived and died a communist and socialist, who worked in a finance office, a place that was the antithesis of what she believed in. To them we are of course grateful.

But it is the innumerable others. Women and men who live and died knowing their dreams would not come true in their lifetimes. The ones who knew vicerally that one day in a distant future their children’s children would have choices and freedoms unknown before.  We are most grateful for them.

I read somewhere that the pyramids were fb_img_1447468473552.jpgbuilt over generations. Those who began the project never saw the end result. So to begin something like that takes a different level of faith. A faith that someone will carry on the work. A faith that what is being created is worth the effort of generations. Dreams are like that. They need faith and constant tending even in the face of death.

With faith that our every moment is witnessed by them. We say thank you to our ancestors, with whose faith we have achieved our dreams.

To whom do you owe more than you realized? Tell us about your ancestors and parents. Drop us a comment. Thanks.

The BOLT Love Affair with Kuala Lumpur…6 Reasons Why!

Kuala Lumpur is not a city I expected to fall in love with. It’s an enormous city, one which I knew absolutely nothing about. I saw it as a brief stop on our way to more beautiful places and exciting adventures. How wrong I was!

This is our third visit to K.L. and without a doubt it will not be our last. I thought to share with you the top reasons why Kathy and I love this city. I do have an ulterior motive…I hope you will be inspired to come and see K.L. for your self.

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MUD, The Musical

Reason #1: The Diversity
Kuala Lumpur  (and all of Malaysia) is a really wonderful mix of ethnicities, religions and cultures. Ethnic Chinese and Indians as well as Malays are the main groups. For me, it’s not just that there is ethnic diversity, it’s that it is acknowledged, celebrated and respected.  We see this in the museums, billboards and all walks of life. There is even an ongoing musical, Mud, that joyfully tells the K.L. story of inclusivity.

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Batu Caves, Site of the largest Hindu celebration outside of India.
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Ramadan display in a local mall.
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Buddhist Center
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Small Hindu Temple
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Our Lady of Fatima, Catholic Church
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National Mosque
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Jewish Community Center

Reason #2 Religious Freedom and Sites
Malaysia is a Muslim country where freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed. We greatly appreciate this, especially visiting the many beautiful and varied places of worship found in K.L.

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Our Favorite Indian Spot
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Laksa
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Nasi Lemak

Reason #3 The Food!!!!!
I really don’t have words to describe the party in your mouth that is the eating you can do in Kuala Lumpur!  From our personal favorite, Southern Indian cuisine, to the devine nasi lemak, delicious dining is a definite reason to visit K.L. By the way, you can find pretty good pizza and burgers if you get a hankering for western foods.

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Reason #4 It’s a Rainforest!
Kuala Lumpur is the only city with dedicated space to preserve a rainforest.  Bukit Nanas is right in city center.  It’s an amazing spot with suspension walkways, beautiful views and a great chance to exercise.

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Reason #5 Great Transportation
K.L. has truly amazing and inexpensive public transportation. High speed tains, monorails, reliable public buses and even a free hop on hop off bus for tourists makes this city easy to explore.

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#6 The Sights, Sounds and Shopping
Day or night,  Kuala Lumpur has some of the best sightseeing spots we’ve experienced. The museums are great, there are beautiful and historic neighborhoods like Brickfields Little India and Chinatown. K.L. is also home to the world’s largest twin towers, the Petronas Towers. Shopping is great here too. Lots of bargains in Brickfields and Chinatown and there are plenty of high end malls and stores as well.

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So, I could probably find a 100 reasons more why I love this fabulous city but I have to get ready for our plane to Beijing, China. Hope you enjoy this post and will seriously consider a trip to Kuala Lumpur. If you have any questions or comments, as always we love hearing from you.

The B in BOLT…Reflections on Traveling Black

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while. I’m trying to find ways to express succinctly what is on my heart and in my mind.  Being Black is such a large part of who we are. Kathy and I are intentionally Black, consciously Black and unapologetically Black. It’s not about hate for non-blacks. It’s a love thing.

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Our blackness, not just our skin, but our thinking, our memories, our very essence goes with us everywhere we go. We have found great blessings traveling Black and a few challenges.

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Bali, Indonesia

One of the greatest gifts of travel has been our heightened sense of appreciation for black folks, especially in places where there are not a lot of us. Walking down Crenshaw in Los Angeles, California I always smiled and gave a nod to my peeps. But seeing a black man or woman in Southeast Asia is a different experience. It’s an opportunity for conversation, exchanging experiences and most of all a chance to share a little black love.

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Glacier National Park

And this is not an experience unique to Asia. Traveling across the U.S.A., visiting National Parks we rarely see other Black folks. We went days and miles on a trip up to Canada. We were delighted to meet a Black couple in Glacier National Park, Wyoming.  We  had a good laugh when we realized we were all from California.

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Chipate Village, Zambia
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Chipate Village, Zambia

Traveling Black in Africa increases our commitment to love and serve Black folk, all across the diaspora. It also is a great reality check for the privilege that comes with our American passports and lifestyle.

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Hair Care Day, Chipate Village, Zambia

It reminds us of our commonalities, especially with other Black women.

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Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Traveling Black strengthens our love for and connections to people of color. The Malaysian man, next to Kathy, in the picture above commented on their identical skin tone and the beauty there. Celebrating diversity is one more thing to love about traveling Black.

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Sultans Water Palace, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia
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Hanoi, Vietnam

The biggest challenge so far in traveling Black has been an ocasional sense of isolation and of being on display, a curiosity.  We felt this most acutely in Vietnam where our skin was often stroked, our hair frequently gently pulled. It never felt malicious or racist. I know racism and colorism exist everywhere,  but to paraphrase the late, great Muhammad Ali, no one in Southeast Asia has ever called me or anyone I love a nigger. I for sure can’t say that about the USA!

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Pasadena, California

Traveling Black is a chance to explore your entrepreneurial side. We love shopping and bringing back beautiful things from all over the world.

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Charlotte and Pete Hill O'Neal, Arusha, Tanzania
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New and Old Friends, New Orleans, Louisiana
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Aida Ayers, Creative Solutions, Zanzibar

Traveling Black is a great way to make new friends and to connect with old. In this digital age it is very easy to make connections and stay connected. Black Americans Living Abroad is a great Facebook group for just that purpose. Nomadness Tribe and Travel Noire are both wonderful sites as well. One of the best parts about traveling Black is doing it with people you love and respect.  

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