Mérida is ranked the 3rd-most-friendly city in the world

Check out this article at https://yucatanexpatlife.com/merida-is-ranked-the-3rd-most-friendly-city-in-the-world/

LOOKS LIKE WE MADE A GREAT CHOICE!

The pandemic means that we are not having a Kwanzaa celebration this year. It has been enjoyable to review pictures from Kwanzaas past and to re-read and re-share this post.

https://boltraveling.com/2019/12/29/furaha-kwanzaa/

?!Merida!?

My friend, Olivia, gave me the inspiration for this week’s blog post. She asked some great questions which I will answer here.

The value of questions!

How was your time in Vietnam? It was wonderful! Vietnam handled the Covid crisis very well. It was very safe. Da Nang is beautiful and affordable. However, we came for a month and ended up staying for 10. We were concerned about having to review our visas every month and the strong possibility that we would eventually be denied.

Beautiful Da Nang!

Will you ever return to Asia? We hope so. We love Asia, especially Thailand and Malaysia. Plus there are several countries we still want to visit (India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia for sure). But if 2020 has taught me anything it’s that nothing is for certain.

Yep!

What was your impetus to move to Mexico, in the middle of a pandemic? How did you choose Merida? Merida is one of the safest cities, not just in Mexico but the world. While the pandemic is of course a concern, we chose Merida because of it’s relatively low Covid numbers, thriving black ex pat community, affordable housing and proximity to family and friends in the U.S.

In or out of a pandemic Merida is very safe!

How are you feeling today? We traveled for 2 days, 4 planes plus all the packing and preparation. We are exhausted and jet lagged but grateful to have arrived safely. We tested for coronavirus before leaving Vietnam and were both negative. We plan to isolate for the recccomended 10 days and will wear masks and practice social distancing until further notice.

Covid Testing, Family Hospital, Da Nang

One question Olivia didn’t ask but I wanted to share on briefly is: What was traveling like during a pandemic? It was really surreal and a bit anxiety producing. Most of the airports were REALLY empty until we got to Houston. We treated ourselves to better seats, lounges and a hotel stay during our Houston layover. We wore masks at all times and my hands are so dry from all the washing and hand sanitizer. Overall our travel was a positive experience, for which we are very grateful!

Ho Chi Minh City International Airport
All Nippon Airways Ticketing Desk
Vietjet Travel Lounge (only 3 people there, including us)

Thank you Olivia for helping me to clarify what I wanted to share today, our 5th day in beautiful Merida.

Casa Dulce Casa

Tạm biệt Da Nang!

We came for a month and you were gracious enough to allow us to stay for 10. You have provided us with a save place to shelter, delicious new foods to try, beautiful places to visit and kind people to meet. But now it’s time to say tạm biệt (goodbye).

Kathy and I are excited to begin the next phase of our journey in Merida, Mexico.

2020 has made travel difficult to say the least. But it has also strengthened our resolve to stay out of the United States. We looked at several options, none of them perfect and decided on Merida.

Merida is the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan. It is known for its colonial architecture, tropical climate, Caribbean atmosphere, and frequent cultural happenings. It is less than a 30 minute bus ride from the beach. It is frequently sited as one of the safest places, not just in Mexico, but the world. There are many cenotes which I am super excited to visit!

Especially wonderful for us, Merida has a thriving Black expat community. We are fortunate to already have some good friends there.

So on December 2 we embark on this new adventure. We are well prepared with face masks and shields and lots of hand sanitizer. We do ask your prayers and well wishes and look forward to sharing all about our travel experience and our new home.

Thank You Vietnam!

While many countries, including developed ones, have recently begun to apply new lockdowns and restrictions to deal with a second or even third wave of infection, life in Vietnam is back to normal with the country going almost 80 days without a single local case. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/20/vietnam-covid-economic-growth-public-health-coronavirus

It’s not that hard!

Clean your hands often. Use soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
Wear a mask in public!
Practice Social Distancing!
Follow the advice of doctors and scientists!
When you must go out, please stay safe!
We can get through this!

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.

BOLT 2020: Our 5th Year of Travel/Lessons Learned

We had all kinds of plans for this, our fifth year of full time/home free travel. We were going to visit India, Sri Lanka and travel through Thailand.

Welp! The universe had other plans. We came to Da Nang, Vietnam, planning on a 1 month stay. We’ve now been here for almost 10 months!

We are very grateful to have sheltered in such a safe, affordable and beautiful country. We’ve undergone two very strict lockdowns but have also had the opportunity to explore this beautiful city.

Most of all I think this has been a time of reflection and focus on what’s really important.

I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and that plans, expectations and situations can change in a moment.

I’ve learned to let small stuff go. I’ve gotten much better at accepting people as they are.

I’ve really come to appreciate the value of a spiritual routine, of grounding myself with morning quiet time and practicing regular meditation and prayer. I’ve also learned how important regular exercise is to my spirit.

I’ve recommitted myself to finding beauty every day and sharing it with the world.

How about you? What lessons have you learned in 2020? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share in the comments section.

BOLT Travel Memories: Finding Community

If I had to define our third year of home free travel, it would be with one word: COMMUNITY!

Game Night

While we love the RV life, especially our stays in Mexico, the one thing we were really lacking was connection to others. We didn’t really find it until our second visit to southeast Asia, to Thailand.

Amen Corner

Thanks to the efforts of folks like Keidra King and Binkey Tolfree we found Facebook groups in Chiang Mai for expats of color. We attended dinners and other events. We made good friends. Chiang Mai Thailand really became home for us because of the community we found. We have community here in Da Nang Vietnam too because of those initial Chiang Mai connections.

Birthday Celebration in Chiang Mai Thailand

We took classes, went on field trips and I even acted in a play! I hope you will enjoy these pictures of some of our happiest community memories.

Girl Trek 5k
Hot Springs Park Trip Da Nang Vietnam
I even got a new sister and granddaughter!
And Another Grandbaby!
Monologue Class, Chiang Mai Thailand
Museum Trip in Chiang Mai
Road Trip to Chang Dao Thailand
Christmas Party in Chiang Mai
Yi Peng Lantern Festival Chiang Mai
Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens in Chiang Mai
Walk to Doi Suthep Chiang Mai Thailand
I gained a beautiful daughter too!
And a fabulous friend for a lifetime!
Going Away Parties are Always So Much Fun!

I’m so grateful for the community we have found. Especially during the pandemic community has gotten us though!

Our BOLT Journey: 2 Years of RV Life

In 2016 after a year in Asia we returned to the United States. We wanted to participate in what we thought was the election of our first woman president. Welp.. that was a huge disappointment but what wasn’t was our purchase of Winnie.

Winnie is an older Minnie Winnebago Class C RV. She’s 30 feet long with a full kitchen and a queen size bed. She’s got a bathroom with a shower. We bought her from a lovely gentleman in Mobile, Alabama. Once we got her road ready we set out on lots of adventures.

We learned a lot about RV life. It was great seeing how helpful and friendly most RVers are. We traveled all throughout the states and some of Mexico and Canada.

Palm Springs, California
Mexico
Mona Lisa RV Park, Ensenada, Mexico
Detroit, Michigan

We got a dog, Kahlo, who we adore and who was a true RV star.

RV life allowed us to see so many beautiful places. We got membership to RV parks, stayed on public lands, in Walmart parking lots, national parks and in front of friend’s houses.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
San Julian, Mexico
Right on the beach in Baja California, Mexico

Kathy and I look forward to returning to RV life sometime soon. It really is a wonderful way to see North America! If you have any questions or want to share your RV experiences please do so here.