Tomorrow morning Kathy and I will be leaving Mexico. We will also be leaving Winnie, our well loved RV, and Kahlo, our beloved dog. We have really enjoyed our year and a half of RV life. We visited 22 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. We found and fell in love with Kahlo, met lots of wonderful people and have so seen much beauty.
However Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, has been calling our names and we’ve decided to return for a year. Winnie will remain here in the safe keeping of the Mona Lisa RV Park.
Kahlo will also remain here for the year. We believe she will be happier here than in an apartment in Thailand. She has a best friend, Lucky, and Lucky’s owner, Javier, will take good care of her while we are gone.
We will miss her very much and probably miss RV life too. However this is the life we have chosen to live…a life of “home-free” travel, and sometimes sad good byes.
It is truly a wonderful life for a dog here in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico! In the U.S. Kahlo was almost always on a leash when outdoors and she spent a lot more time with us in the R.V.
Here at the Monalisa R.V. Park Kahlo has found a new way of life and we have too. There are a lot of dogs living here (at least 9, including Kahlo). As there is no traffic here, they all run free during the day. At first, I was very cautious about letting Kahlo join in the fun but now she runs with the pack for hours out of each day.
All of the dogs and their owners are very friendly. It is interesting to see dogs playing together in this way. Nikko, the alpha male, keeps everyone in line. Kahlo is very submissive towards him and he is very gentle but firm with her.
Another big difference from the states is that dogs run freely on the beach here. Kahlo absolutely loves this! She is a really fast runner and loves to chase and be chased by her buddies.
I love all the dogs here but I think Lucky is one of my favorites. He was a stray, in terrible shape, until Javier took him in. Javier is the groundskeeper here and a lovely man. Thanks to him Lucky is in great shape now!
We are really happy to have found this puppy paradise and I am pretty sure Kahlo is too!
The Mona Lisa RV Park and Motel is far from the fanciest or most modern place in Ensenada but we find it absolutely perfect for BOLT!
We are right next to the Pacific Ocean, separated by a rocky breakwater. There is a stone stairway that leads down to a clean, shell strewn beach. When the tide is out you can walk along the ocean for miles.
Of course, the ocean is beautiful, but the uniqueness of the Mona Lisa is all the art work here. There are murals and sculptures all over, many of them depicting Mexican history and Toltec and Aztec sacred figures.
All the necessities of life (groceries, laundry, drinking water) are within walking distance. Plus there is a sweet little mini bus that comes practically to our door and takes you right into Ensenada Centro.
Things are a little run down but the staff is wonderful and very helpful. We have a great spot for our Winnie. It looks out onto the crashing waves and has a little table, outdoor kitchen and a palapa (thatched shade). There is really good wifi and our spot has electric, sewer and non-potable water hook ups. A spot like this in California would be at least $65 a day. Here at the Mona Lisa it is $20 a day and a month is a huge discount down to $330 a month.
We are really enjoying the mild weather, relaxing lifestyle and affordable prices. We will probably be here for a couple of months. Ensenada is a less than 6 hour car trip for our So Cal friends and there’s an airport for everyone else. We sure would love to see you!
Kathy and I have been traveling for eight months now. We’ve been extremely blessed with drama free experiences, good travel health and very few problems. We’ve learned a lot about what works for us, what we love and what we prefer to avoid.
Economy Class Train Travel
While traveling through Indonesia we missed a connection to the “first class” train we had reservations for. An economy class train was leaving the station soon. Rather than wait a whole day for the next first class train we decided to hop on this really low priced train. I remember thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad. Economy trains make more stops so the anticipated 4 hour ride turned into 8. The seats were uncushioned, hard benches. We had to sit 3 across where even 2 people would have been uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning. I was pretty miserable for most of the trip. The upside was we were sitting with very kind and helpful local people. Locals travel this way all the time, it is not for me for long trips. The experience helped me see how privileged we are and also what I’m willing to pay more for. This Uh Oh! was a great learning experience.
Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
When we first got off the boat, landing in Singapore, we moved pretty quickly. We spent a day and a night in Singapore, 4 days in Kualu Lumpur and 5 days in Georgetown. Neither of us were crazy about Georgetown. We had yet to learn the value of slower travel, longer stays. I’m really glad we made a decision to visit Georgetown again. Exploring this lovely island town a second time, for a whole month was a wonderful experience. Now Georgetown is one of our favorite places, it’s even on our short list for a permanent retirement home.
Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We visited the Tiger Kingdom on our first visit to Chiang Mai on a whim. We did no research. We just hopped into the cab of a friendly driver for what I thought would be a pleasant adventure. Had we done more investigation we would have easily seen that there is a lot of controversy about this place. Mistreated, drugged tigers are kept in small cages. Tourists (including Kathy and I) lie on, pet and take lots of pictures with these beautiful animals. I wanted to believe what the keepers say: that the cats are not drugged, that they grew up with people and are thus friendly. But I left with the nagging feelings that those things are not true. I have decided to never again visit attractions involving animals without first making sure the animals are being treated humanely.
Home free, serendipitous travel has great opportunities to find out more about oneself. I’ve learned that I like a certain level of comfort and am willing to pay for it; that staying long enough to get to know a place is best and that thorough research is a valuable tool in deciding where to visit.
What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains? Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!
Travel is scary. It can be expensive. Simply planning a trip can be daunting. It can be uncomfortable once you set out and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. But for Marci and I that is the point. We want to be in spaces that challenge and stretch us. Not because we are saints or masochists but because we have been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative comfort most of our lives. When we travel we often comment on how uncomfortable we are. But the truth becomes obvious once you set out to places different from our home. Most of the world lives in situations that are uncomfortable for sixty year old women. They may carry their water from a well, for example. I hate doing that. They plant and harvest their own food. I hate that too. They may go to the bathroom outside of their homes. I really hate that.
But for us it is not the hate we remember. Even now writing this I can’t remember all the things I hate about visiting villages and doing what the women there do. But the love is carried with us. We love visiting women in their homes. We love accompanying them to their work spaces. We love helping to prepare a meal. We are dismal at it all. And most of it is smelly and hard. But it is in these spaces where we find our truest love.
Our love of women of color. Women of means when it looks as if they have no means. Women of resource who look as if they are in poverty. These snaggle-toothed, smiling women who laugh at our feeble attempts to do one fifth of the work they accomplish daily are our truest and deepest loves. It is to them that we travel. For with them we too have an unseen value. A value that is not calculated in how well we cook or how many buckets of water we carry. Our value is multiplied by their patience with our well-intentioned ineptitude as verified by their simple words of “Welcome”. Whether it be in Tagalog – maligayang pagdating or Swahili -karibu or Wolof – dalal ak diam. Or a myriad of other ways, we are better for the experience.
We make no allusions as to our benefit to them. We recognize that when we arrive (most of the time unannounced because of how difficult it can be to communicate with small villages in developing nations) we are an extra expense at best and a downright hardship most of the time. Yet they smile, nod and share their food and homes with us. So although we may hate sleeping on dusty mattresses, we recognize we have the best beds around because someone else is sleeping on the floor. When we complain about having to go to the bathroom outside, we recognize that before the toilet was dug these people went outside for real. It is there where we smile and realize in a very tangible way how blessed we are to have this life and to have the opportunity to travel.
Welcome to BOLT. Our wish for you is that you will travel in spite of the difficulty. Maybe this site will inspire you. Thank you for reading.