#JustOneRhino Begins With You!

Rhino – The word “rhinoceros” is of Greek origin; “rhino” meaning “nose“, and “ceros” meaning “horn“. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia. This fell to 70,000 by 1970 and further to just 29,000 in the wild today. (Information obtained from the “Save The Rhino Website”)

 

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

 

 

This is the visual we are all familiar with and associate with one of the world’s most spectacular animals. As the population figures above illustrate, we are in a major crisis to save this animal and keep it from perishing. Think how sad it would be for your children and grandchildren to grow up without the ability to visualize a rhinoceros. It always has been one of the most coveted animals to see, whether visiting a zoo, wild animal park or for the more fortunate, seeing one in its natural habitat on a Safari (One of my top five on my bucket list)! Hopefully I will consummate this dream before I age beyond ability to participate, or before the faction destroying these animals, kills them off.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

 

 

“Award-winning filmmakers (and National Geographic Explorers-In-ResidenceDereck and Beverly Joubert are among Africa’s most outspoken wildlife conservation advocates. Now, through their Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation arms, the Jouberts have launched Rhinos Without Borders, an attempt to save endangered Rhinos by translocating 100 of them from South Africa to Botswana in order to protect them from the tragic rise in poaching. To do this, they’ll need to raise nearly $5 million, as the costs to capture, transport, quarantine and release these animals will average about $45,000 per Rhino.” (Direct quote from Bret Love, Mary Gabbett and Green Global Media) Please read the interview Green Global Media did with the Jouberts. It will inspire you to help!

 

 

Rhino Horn Removed by Beverly Joubert

Rhino Horn Removed, by Beverly Joubert

 

 

Hopefully this photo shocked you as much as it did me the first time I saw it. This one photo inspired me to join this project and help #JustOneRhino. Why on earth can a population participate in the butchering of this magnificent animal, all in the name of providing a yet unproven aphrodisiac? Seriously, is your sex life more important than an animal that has been around for 15 million years and what are your plans when you eradicate this creature?

 

 

I have lived a very treasured life and until recently it was a life full of family and prosperity. So when I look at the future of one of the planet’s oldest animal populations and the fact that we are facing the extension of this creature, I cringe with disgust. Today is my 65th birthday (Yes I am a hopeless romantic Pisces) and I never thought in my wildest dreams that my life would take the turn it has and I would lose the love of my life, after 36 years of marriage.

 

 

When Bret Love reached out to me in regard to this project, I jumped on it and have actively shared daily posts for #JustOneRhino. I was simply amazed that over 125 travel bloggers signed up to participate in this project. See, we aren’t all looking for a free trip or stay at a 5-star hotel. We actually are real people, with huge hearts and our community is one of the most loyal and supporting groups of people I have had the pleasure to meet.

 

 

At my age I keep learning daily (unless my dementia starts acting up). When Bret stated we could pick the day we wanted to publish, I immediately chose today. I knew there was no way I would forget to publish on this day and given it was to be my first birthday alone, after sharing my life with another for so long, I thought what better way than to help my buddy out and support this wonderful and desperately needed project! Thank God for Dereck and Beverly Joubert, not to mention Jeremy Scott Foster. These kind souls are waging a monumental war against poachers and a society filled with fairy tale aphrodisiacs.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

Photo Courtesy of Susan Portnoy, The Insatiable Traveler

 

 

As a society we have to comprehend what the loss of this magnificent creature means and what happens when our Ecosystem grows imbalanced each time we lose another species. It is critical that we stop turning our heads, placing our heads in the sand and averting reality. We must march on, full steam ahead and confront the evil people who represent the extinction of this creature.

 

We cannot tarry, especially given the serious population erosion in the last century. This is real and we must take action now. I am tossing out a challenge to all my supporters and people who follow me on my Nomadic Texan blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and my other less popular social media platforms, to submit a birthday present of a donation to #JustOneRhino! I am treating myself by giving $100.00 to the cause and would appreciate each of your giving whatever you can spare. No amount is too small. Together we can beat these evil people and save the Rhino!

 

Make a donation of $20 or more at TravelersBuildingChange.org. Every penny of your donation helps fund rhino conservation, fights terrorism (most poaching profits fund groups like Boko Haram), and earns you a chance at winning one of over 20 great prizes. The more you give, the more chances you have to win

 

Donation Amounts

$20 – 10 raffle entries
$30 – 20 raffle entries
$50 – 30 raffle entries
$75 – 50 raffle entries
$100 – 80 raffle entries
$250 – 200 raffle entries
$500 – 500 raffle entries

 

• QUOTES BY TRAVELERS BUILDING CHANGE FOUNDER JEREMY SCOTT FOSTER
 

– On why he started TBC:

“After taking some time to reflect on my years of independent travel, I realized how much of an impact the altruism of strangers had on my experience. I had entered into numerous communities as a stranger and felt genuinely cared for and looked after. When I realized that many other travelers felt the same way, I vowed to find a way to give back to the communities that had nurtured us on our travels.”
 
– On why he wanted to support Rhinos Without Borders this year:
“The rhino poaching situation in Africa is critical and, given the incredibly high cost of saving them, we wanted to focus our efforts on a difficult project that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should. With rhinos due to become extinct within the next 20 years, it seemed almost obvious that this was the organization we needed to support.”

 

 

 

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• Vouchers for 2 people at Bali Jiwa Villain in Bali, Indonesia.  Value $1,000
• (2) Vouchers for 2 people at The Scent Hotel in Koh Samui, Thailand. Total Value $3000 ($1,500 for each 2-person package)
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#JustOneRhinoSponsors

#JustOneRhinoSponsors

 

Why (and How) I Write: A Blog Hop Post

Recently I was invited to participate in a Blog Hop about one of my favorite subjects (Writing), by two of my favorite bloggers, Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel. They are both very kind people with a high interest in Ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation and cultural preservation. They are both truly unique individuals with a perspective on “pouring every ounce of their passion, energy, love and dreams for their family into the site on a daily basis”. Just a few facts about each of them before I answer the four obligatory questions.

 

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

 

Mary Gabbett

 

1) Mary was born in Staten Island, New York and lived there until she was 14.

 

2) Because her family had a French graduate student who worked as her au pair, her first language was French and she remembers none of it now, even though she studied it in high school!

 

3) Her parents would take off work every Wednesday during the summer, for family vacation and they would visit museums, art galleries, theatre and amazing ethnic restaurants in New York City.

 

4) Her first big trip as an adult was a month-long vacation in India, where 5 friends and her stayed with one of the girls’ extended family. That’s when she discovered she was a die-hard travel-lover.

 

4) She has a degree in Pyschology, and worked for 10 years doing personality assessments for corporate clients. She gave Bret an informal assessment of himself on their 5th date.

 

5) Bret and her met at a Universalist Unitarian Church Christmas party she threw at her house in 2008. She was just coming off a painful separation, and had only been dating for 5 days when they met.

 

6)  She moved in with Bret 14 months later, after her mother was hospitalized (she’s OK now), a tree fell on her house (it’s OK now), and a wanted rapist was arrested in her front yard. Clearly, the Universe was trying to tell her something.

 

Bret Love

 

1) Bret was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and has never lived more than 30 miles away from the hospital in which he was born.

 

2) His first trip abroad was a 3-week tour of Italy with the Atlanta Boy Choir when he was 11. It included 15 cities in 21 days, and performances for the President of Italy and Pope John Paul II (in the Vatican).

 

3) He grew up in an urban neighborhood that was 98% black by the time he got to high school. When he was 15, they moved to 32 acres in the country, with a majority-white school. Talk about culture shock! His GPA that year dropped from 3.6 to 2.5 due to constant bullying.

 

4) Bret got his first tattoo– of a Native American shaman, from the cover of National Geographic– when he was 23. He originally got it primarily to cover self-inflicted scars from his late-teen depression. But the more tattoos he got, the more he liked them. He now has 6, all of Native American or Celtic art.

 

5)  He’s a big fan of hip-hop, and had his own hip-hop/noise-rock band, The White Aphros, in the ‘90s. In 2000, he was hired by Sprite to put together a compilation of Atlanta hip-hop for a web-based project. They bought two of his songs, which were released under his rap pseudonym, B. Love.

 

6)  All his life, he’s had a policy not to date someone he works with. So its ironic that Mary and him now live, work and play together 24/7/365… especially because they rarely argue. She has definitely changed forever his definition of the word “partnership.”

 

 Green Global Travel Mission Statement

 

In 2000, Bret traveled to South Africa’s Kruger National Park on safari. The immense power of the experiences he had there– seeing cheetah cubs frolicking on the open plain, watching wild dogs digging under a fence to get back into the park, having a massive bull elephant coming so close to his Jeep that he could feel the breath on his face– changed his life forever.

 

It wasn’t just the beauty of seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat that moved him. It was the passion with which the park rangers and guides spoke of preserving this incredible gift for generations to come, and the way locals spoke of ecotourism as their hope for a better and brighter economic future. Ever since then he has dreamed of using his abilities as a freelance writer and photographer to help make the world a better place, not just for he and Mary, but for their children and their children’s children. Mary and him have launched Green Global Travel to do just that.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are insatiably curious about new people, new places, new experiences and new ideas, and love sharing those things with other people in a way that will hopefully inform and inspire.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are passionate about ecotourism, and believe in its potential to help save the world’s precious nature and wildlife by encouraging sustainable practices that both benefit and respect local indigenous cultures.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they truly believe that the words, photos and videos they capture along their journeys will both entertain you and help draw attention to the importance of environmental conservation.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because it is their dream to save the world, one story at a time.

 

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

 

1) What am I working on/writing?

 

I just finished a series on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. It was very educational and I learned that there is a huge circuit of reenactments, involving a large population of Civil War buffs. These people make the rounds dressing in period costume, which are by no means inexpensive. I was literally astounded by the number of people following the various events and the amount of money they freely invest in items that replicate the period, or happen to be authentic pieces from the various battles. Its amazing to me that at almost 65 I had no idea of this segment existed in our society.

 

I am taking a trip to Japan for six weeks, beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving and I am sure this will spark or generate a ton of photographs and blog posts. I will be in one of my favorite countries in the world and have a great deal of spare time, given I will be staying with my oldest son and he will come back to Austin for a week. He also must do that “Job” thing and work daily. This should allow me a freedom to explore and walk the streets trying to gather stories on the fabulous culture, the people and obviously the fantastic foods of Japan. I am drooling over this prospect and can’t wait for the trip to materialize.

 

One of my first stops will be at a chain of sushi and sashimi restaurants that carry the dishes via a conveyor belt. In 2012 when I last visited it was one of two restaurants that we ate at twice. I love the different items and luckily my son has a deep passion for these foods. So I see a blog post for sure on this experience. Then we can begin discussing the Ramen places, the Udon Noodle places (OMG I love Udon noodles), Soba noodles, Yakitori (skewered chicken cooked over a flaming grill) and anything to do with seafood. I might even do a Tempura meal this time and will have to probably do a great deal of these during the day, or when my son is absent. He gets rather embarrassed when I take photos of my food (if I can remember, as I forget half the time, until there is nothing left and it dawns on me I never took a photo and all my food is gone).

 

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

 

I am not sure I truly have a niche or a genre as many more experienced travel and food bloggers are constantly telling me, “I need to find a specific niche and generate my writing in that area”. I can’t tell you how many travel bloggers have stated this. I find this too difficult at almost 65 years old and absolutely love all aspects of travel and food. I love to cook and try to take cooking classes in every country I visit and maybe that is a difference, as I am not positive if others go out of their way to take cooking classes in every country. What better way to get to know a culture than through the foods they consume and the methods they use to prepare the dishes?

 

I also am a fan of architectural structures like cathedrals, temples, and shrines which SE Asia has a plethora of and one can turn any corner and stumble upon a new and different religious artifact or building and be drawn into the design and layout. In addition I am attracted to doors, windows and balconies. Specifically those with intricate layouts and impressions.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

 

One area that is very special to me is volunteerism. This past year I helped an organization build a home in Tijuana Mexico over Memorial Day weekend, with my two youngest sons. It was a very emotional and gut wrenching process. I also walked away know that my sons had seemingly overnight turned into young men with purpose and were driven to help others. The biggest impact though, was when I asked the Mother of the two young children what she would like best about the new house we were building. She answered very quickly and very honestly. She loved that when it rained going forward, she would never have to worry about their dirt floors in the old home turning into mud again. I cried like a baby and had to walk away before I completely fell apart. It was one of the most humbling moments in my life!

 

I also write to help others learn about the countries that they will never ever have a chance to visit, or an experience that I think is unusual and will be appreciated by my subscribers and followers. What has come painfully apparent to me, is that an extensive portion of our society for one reason or another, has not, nor will they ever, venture outside of a 50 mile radius of where the grew up. I feel an obligation to share my experiences with these individuals and hopefully allow them to live vicariously through my travels and adventures.

 

I also have started spending time in Texas towns and writing a series on this experience. I am a huge history buff and love to write, photograph and experience anything to do with the Lone Star State. I have only done Palestine thus far and walked away with eight posts ,from the three days spent in this magnificent Pearl of East Texas. I also have written several posts on my hometown and the city I was actually born in, Austin. This coming spring I have been invited to perform the same function in the towns of Tyler for their Azalea fest weekend in March I believe and in Nacogdoches, both located in East Texas. It has been difficult to have the Convention and Tourism Boards in the mid-size to small towns around Texas understand the true value of social media as a Marketing concept or tool, but the walls are slowly receding and coming down in some cases.

 

Lately, after meeting online and getting to know Bret and Mary I have started looking into environmental processes and what can be done to help us save our planet for future generations, especially since I have three sons that will experience what we leave them. It all started with the movie “Blackfish” and I was so enthralled and captivated by the Killer Whale’s story, that I began to look more closely ate specific stories and posts involving this area, like the recent debacle over swimming with the dolphins at TBEX in Cancun. I had no idea how they were trained or given preparation for the swims. It breaks your heart to see the actual process. Not to mention what happens with Elephants in their training for humans to ride them, or the pain associated with a massive weight on their backs from the saddle.

 

I also have a vested interest in the war against GMO’s and the obvious damage they present to the human body. Thank God each time I venture outside of the US, I am reminded of what actual organic food tastes and looks like. Not to mention the fact that in the two weeks to a month in county, I always lose ten to fifteen pounds. There is no comparison and the taste is 180 degrees from the bland GMO structured “foods” we consume in my home country the USA. All supposedly in the name of furnishing cheap and healthy foods to the populations of the world without sufficient supply. I am sorry, but that is a load of horse manure and these people will eventually obtain the attributes that our society has taken on like Diabetes and obesity. I will argue all day long if your position is of the opposite side and will never, never settle with you!

 

My last tidbit in this area is in regards to healthcare and the continual plundering of our population, by big medicine and all the participants. Try getting sick in let’s say Ecuador and see what a real Doctor that is truly concerned with your health and not taking a CYA approach from fear of a lawsuit involving malpractice. Not only will you be shocked at the genuine care given, but the costs will place an arrow directly between your eyes, as it more than likely will only be about 5% to 10% of what you would have paid in the US. And my apologies, but you cannot come back on me and say the Doctors here are so much better qualified. They are of equal value and trained mostly in the US. They practice exactly what you would expect from an American Doctor and have the same abilities.

 

4) How does my writing process work? 

 

My writing usually revolves around placing selected photos in chronological order on my draft page and then I fill in the gaps so to say by reliving my experience visually with the aid of the photos. Every time I place a photo on the draft page it brings memories back, as they cascade across my brain and flood my gray matter with flashbacks of, or perceptions and involvement in guided tours, spa events, cooking classes and restaurants that make me drool from the recollection of the flavors associated with the countries and meals I have tried. I have been very fortuitous in my travels and been able to cultivate a wide array of trips and recollections of my travels.

 

Most of the time I schedule a time after morning coffee and surfing the Internet to devote strictly to my writing. That way there are no distractions and the words flow freely most of the time, given the photos ability to open up my thoughts. Just like others though there are times when mental issues or stress associated with life come between me and my writing. When this happens I get up and try to do other functions like eating (Ha!) or a minimum of house work. I have washing the whites down real good as I wear mostly white undershirts and white socks. Sorry Fashion patrol, but it is a fact! Usually it only takes a few minutes away to get my thoughts straightened out and then come back and finish.

 

The hard part and probably the area I dislike the most is editing and viewing my grammar, punctuation and run on sentences. I hate this necessary function sometimes! It too bad I can’t just blink my eyes and my draft be checked and repaired of all the errors.

 

And now I’d like to introduce you to my Blog Hop invitees!

 

Brianna Jellerson Simmons of the Casual Travelist.

 

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

 

Hi there, my name is Brianna and I’d like to welcome you to the Casual Travelist. I am a travel writer and blogger balancing my love of travel with a full time career. I prefer laid back luxury where the focus is on the experience and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. This blog is dedicated to having great travel experiences and making the most of your limited time to travel.

 

Welcome to the Casual Travelist! This blog focuses on experiential travel and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. I’m just a regular person with a full time career, friends and family that I love and a cat I adore; trying to balance my home life with my passion for travel. I aim to show that you can have great travel experiences whether it’s for 2 days or 2 weeks.

 

I’ve always loved exploring new places. I had a fairly nomadic childhood as a result of my father’s job living throughout the United States and stayed on the move after I joined the US Navy where I got my first taste of traveling abroad. After my stint in the Navy I got married, earned my doctoral degree and began a rewarding career as a physical therapist. I love my home life but the drive to explore remains. My travels have brought me to Europe, the Middle East, Central America, Canada and throughout the US including Alaska. I’m a big fan of traveling locally, you’ll often me exploring around my home state of Virginia as well as the Mid Atlantic.

 

Alison Abbott of the Green With Renvy blog.

 

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

 

Founder and writer Alison Abbott has been a multi discipline designer for all of her adult life. She is a serious design advocate, content creator and small business strategist, who is enthusiastic about keeping it local whether at home or abroad.

 

A passion for travel took hold early in her career, after production trips to the Far East for the fashion and design company she established in 1978. Twenty five successful years later, she segued into the world of renovating houses with an eco-friendly twist. A desire to combine that passion for travel with her growing knowledge in the world of sustainability led her to the launch of Green With Renvy. You’ll find the blog is an enjoyable riff on the concept of renovating your travel and lifestyle in sustainable shades of green. Reducing your carbon footprint can come in many forms, and even small steps can have a significant impact. Sharing these ideas and discoveries with her readers is what Green With Renvy is all about. When not searching for the best of artisans, growers and locales that make a destination unique, Alison shares her time between Boston and Nantucket.

 

Alison is a brand ambassador and Boston Local Expert with Afar Media. Recent work has been featured on Westin™ Finds from Afar, Stonyfield and Trip Advisor B2B. She has provided content creation and photography for both Chase Bank and Afar Media as they relaunch their web site​. Alison’s coverage of The Flower Markets of India was featured in Leaf Magazine. ​ ​ Visit Philly and Visit Aruba have partnered with the site, and she has reviewed hotels around the world.​ Her self guided walking tour of Nantucket – A Faraway Isle was published by Visual Travel Tours and is available for download.

 

As a writer, she explains, “Nothing could make me happier than hearing from a reader who has changed her travel plans for her son’s graduation to stay in an eco-friendly hotel that I recently recommended. Having a subscriber and her husband take a page out of my itinerary in Kerala, India because it sounded like the perfect start to ease them into the chaos that can be India is very rewarding. Something as simple as trying one of my Meatless Monday recipes with great results can make my day. I firmly believe that as individuals become better traveled and more mindful, culturally aware citizens of the globe, the world will be a better place”. With that thought in mind, Alison shares the experience of eco-friendly travel and lifestyle through Green With Renvy.

 

Let’s make a difference together.

 

Jim O’Donnell from Around The World in Eighty Years.

 

Jim O'Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

Jim O’Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

 

I was born to a middle class white family in a small town in Southern Colorado. We lived in a modest 1920’s stuccoed Spanish colonial style house made of cinder blocks and painted solid white. The roof was peaked and shingled gray. There was a chimney, but the fire-place didn’t work. A great black American Elm grew in our front yard. I lived there from birth to eighteen years old. My mother is still there.

 

In the backyard she grew roses, lilacs and rhubarb for pie. She made my younger brother mow the grass. My father had a plum tree for homemade jam and the lady across the wire fence held a massive wounded crow captive in an oversized cage.

 

On weekends we went to the mountains. In the Huajatollas we crashed up old mining roads in our International Harvester Scout. In the Greenhorns we ate fresh trout from Lake Isabel and picnicked on the grass next to Ophir Creek. In the San Juans we perused places like Rico, Dunton and Sawpit and climbed steep paths dappled in aspen.

 

At Monarch we skied, in the Arkansas we rafted, and in the mountain ghost town of Victor my dad bought a miniature, tumble-down miner’s cabin, from which we explored Long Hungry Gulch, Wilson Creek, Little Pisgah and Grouse Mountain. To the cabin we brought the things we found scattered over the nearby hills and mountains. It was Victor’s past: giant star shaped drill bits, amethyst colored bottles, blue and white Lenox porcelain chunks, milk-glass, pewter cups and rusted open-top cans.

 

I also brought to the cabin a curiosity for the mountain bluebirds, vireos and hummingbirds I saw, the elk that cut our path, the mountain lion we hoped to see, the bear tracks in the mud, the butterscotch ponderosas, the fescue, the Columbine and the way the wind blew rain from the West onto my face in August.

 

Yet, I failed to understand the pits the rain dug where the cows had eaten all the grass. The streams I wasn’t allowed to touch that flowed from the mine tailings. The hill sides that sloughed where all the trees had been cut.

 

The reason I couldn’t hear wolves howling at night, no matter how hard I tried. In the ruins of the ghost town there was a nutty old woman with spiked white hair and breasts that sagged to her knees. Her name was Mary and she collected fossils and miner’s lamps. She said the wolves had been massacred in the 20’s and 30’s and that they would never come back.

 

At some point along the way, I decided that I had to see the world.

 

 

Photo of The Day #61

Homes of Hope Project

Homes of Hope Project

 

 

This past May two of my sons and I volunteered with Homes of Hope. We helped build a home for this family in Tijuana Mexico. I was more than surprised by the way that this project effected me and it was one of the most emotional and pleasing efforts that I have completed in my life. There is nothing in the world that could match this family’s smiles and gratitude, after we gave them the keys to their new home.

 

 

To construct the habitat with my two sons touched me more than I ever imagined. Volunteer work is the most rewarding undertaking I Have participated in and I would encourage everyone to join in and volunteer abroad when possible.

Photo of The Day #49

Homes of Hope Project

Homes of Hope Project

 

 

I was thinking back to this photo in Mexico today and how I learned my sons have all become men. This picture shows Kim and my youngest two sons, Chris next to me and Sean holding the little girl. They both worked their rear ends off, to help this family in need Memorial Day weekend and I have never been prouder. Their words of gratitude and praise struck me like a bolt of lightening at the key exchange and closing ceremonies.

 

 

It was an eye-opening experience and one I will treasure the remainder of my life. I only hope that everyone reading this post, has the opportunity to experience a volunteer program and has the additional pleasure of doing it with your relatives, especially your children. If and when you do, don’t be surprised if it becomes an overwhelming emotional event! It was for me.

Capture the Colour #CTC13

 

Okay I am going to jump out into the sandbox and enter the “Capture the Colour” contest this year. I have never done anything like this, as I am petrified to even submit my photos. When you consider the excellent professionals that are involved I really don’t stand a chance, but what the hell, I have to start sometime. Travel Supermarket is sponsoring the contest and each contestant is required to submit five photos displaying their ability to reflect on the colors red, blue, yellow, white and green. Simple enough? Right? No it isn’t! I am here to tell you it took me two hours of pilfering through my collection, to narrow each color down to three or so possibilities. Absolutely nerve-racking! So here goes.

 

Red Ripe Cacao SeedPod

Red-Ripe Cacao Seed Pod

 

 

I took this photo on my most recent trip to Ecuador when I had the extreme pleasure of visiting and touring a Cacao Plantation in El Oro province. It was an awesome trip and as most people do, I love chocolate to death! I can eat it every day. Just ask my wife Kim!

 

 

Dessert at The Eucalyptus Cafe in Cuenca From My March Trip with Kim

Yellow-Dessert at The Eucalyptus Cafe in Cuenca From My March Trip with Kim

 

 

Kim and I were shopping at a local Home Depot one day this past fall I believe and stumbled upon a collection of potted orchids for sale. I though that they were outstanding and had not seen a blue orchid previously. Loved it and now I am using it in this contest. Wonders never cease!

 

 

Home Depot Orchids

Blue-Home Depot Orchids

 

 

We have three sons and lived in a house on the Mountain, in Austin Texas for approximately 18 years, while raising our sons. I will never forget this snowfall, as it rarely snows in Texas and I was out before sunup trying to get the right photo. This one showed the snow on the backyard umbrella and the trees in contrast to the other colors.

 

 

A Snow Fall in Austin Texas-Very Rare

White-A Snow Fall in Austin Texas-Very Rare

 

 

On Memorial Day of this year I was invited to partake in a project that our middle son’s company sponsors. Homes of Hope is a fantastic organization that builds homes for individuals that truly need help. This calla lily was outside the Rosarito Beach Hotel in Mexico where we stayed while working on the project. I will never forget the experience of turning the home over to the needy family! It was truly humbling!

 

 

Green-Calla Lily

Green-Calla Lily

 

Thanks to my friend Joe Newman at Cosmic Smudge for nominating me for the contest and forcing me to come out of my shell! I wish I could quote technical photographic data about my equipment like Joe did, but the simple truth is that I used my Nikon digital pocket camera on all the photos including this one that kind of displays all the colors together. (Uh oh I am jumping outside the spectrum). I may have used a little editing prerogative, but that is all.

 

Bridge View on Spadina In Toronto

Bridge View on Spadina In Toronto

 

Part of the contest and a way to increase the participants, which directly decreases my chances (Ha-I am joking. I know I have absolutely no chance against the pros!) is to nominate an additional five bloggers to enter. So here goes. Y’all don’t hate me and please enter this #CTC13 contest and blow the competition away!

 

Lisa Niver Rajna at We Said Go Travel

Will Castillo at I Will Travel

Karla Aguilar Perez at Traveller Soul

Lauren and Kenin Bassart at The Constant Rambler

Linda and Dan Bibb at As We Saw It

I am cutting my own throat as both Karla Aguilar Perez and Dan Bibb are wonderful photographers and do it professionally. Who know maybe this will help the out! A big “THANK YOU” to Travel Supermarket for allowing us to participate (definitely brown-nosing) and best of luck to all the competitors! Saludos mi amigos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #6

the Pier at The Rosarita Beach Hotel

 Pier at The Rosarito Beach Hotel

 

 

I was fortunate enough to help Homes of Hope over Memorial Day weekend in Tijuana, building a home for a deserving family. We stayed at the Rosarito Beach Hotel and I finally got a chance to explore the beach, the last night we were there for about 30 minutes. This photo spoke volumes to me and I loved the old pier. It appeared very sturdy still, yet in dire need of a good paint job.

 

I am guessing it went out over the water about a 300 to 4oo feet and had roughly 600-900 feet of pier over the sand when I walked it. The sky was overcast and I couldn’t help taking the photo. I was mesmerized by the iron rusted blue poles and the remaining deck worn down by time. So peaceful at that moment in Mexico!

Black Like Me

When I was younger, oh so much younger, a book by John Howard Griffin entitled “Black Like Me” was published in 1961. I read the book around the age of 13 and became dramatically impacted by the issues Mr. Griffin brought to light. I grew up in Texas and had no idea that racism existed, as I always went to school with many Hispanic children. I knew no difference until I started high school and became a part of the first racially integrated class at Arlington High School, as ASID desegregated in 1965. I bring this up as it was discussed yesterday in my interview with Minority Nomad also known as Erick Prince-Heaggans.

 

Nomadic Texan with the Minority Nomad. It was a Pleasure Senor!
Nomadic Texan with the Minority Nomad. It was a Pleasure Senor!

 

Erick and I met online, as we are both residents of Austin when we are not traveling and came across each other on Twitter. We decided to meet at Madam Mam’s on Anderson Lane and I soon discovered why. For reasons I will not go into (old age) I was approximately 45 minutes late and Erick thought it was funny. I was totally embarrassed. We ordered our lunch and I got down to the interview as agreed upon earlier.

 

 

Question #1 What made you start traveling?

I have a project that is near to my heart and I needed to find a way to fund it. I want to inspire young Afro American Blacks, Latinos, LGBT community and other Diverse groups to travel and to let them know the world is a diverse and wonderful place. We as a country have about a 36% passport ratio, which lags substantially behind the rest of the world. I want to move this needle to at least 50% by the time I pass. I want us to shed the “Cul de Sac” mentality. I loved that quote and completely understand it”.

 

 

Question #2 Which country that you have visited did you like the most overall?

Without a doubt its Thailand. It has such an acceptable approach to diversity and tourism. I was treated like a “Rock Star”!”

 

 

Question #3 What type of food, in a country you have visited, did you favor the most.

Thai food is my favorite (okay now I know why we are at Madam Mam’s).”

 

 

Question #4 What country’s people that you have met, did you like the most?

Swedish, Finnish and other Scandinavian populations if you want an educated discussion. If you are talking friendliest, that has to be the Balinese. They smile all the time and are genuinely happy to see you, do things for you and ensure you stay is a wonderful thing. If you are talking fun to be around (Code for Party Animals), the Brazilians are a blast and I could hang with them for a long time! If you are talking people you meet on the road it has to be the Canadians and Germans. They are frequent travelers and I constantly run into them on the road. Plus they are fun to be with. Rounding out the discussion he stated the Eastern European people of Poland, Budapest and Hungary are the most genuine and you always know where they stand even if you don’t agree with them.”

 

 

Question #5 What culture have you liked the most in a country you have visited?

Thai for sure. They appreciate family, faith, diversity and most agendas I believe in.”

 

 

Question #6 If you were to do long term volunteer work which country would you go to? 

“If it was for educational purposes, it would have to be central Africa. They do not have the “Oil” or “Tourism” industries to support their needs and are struggling more than other African countries. If it was more to help the people, I would have to say Liberia, as we have made this country a mess. Even though it is probably the most dangerous and yes I would be scared to go. It needs our help more than any other country at this time.”

 

 

Question #7 What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on the road?

Well (stutter, as he wasn’t sure if he should share it) two of the gentlemen that went with us were crazy Aussi’s. VERY over the top and already three sheets to the wind. A quarter ways through the show three beautiful Thai women brought put a massage mat and asked for volunteers. The Aussi’s started goading me into volunteering and making fun of Americans. Being the person I am, I agreed. How bad could a massage be. Well once I got on stage the three women stripped me naked, stripe naked themselves, and proceeded to give me a naked massage in front of 150 people.”

 

 

Question #8 What is the worst thing that has happened to you on the road?

Well it has to be getting arrested in Buenos Aires. I went to a bar with people I met where I was staying (2 Italians, 3 Brazilians and me). I only had one beer and paid for it when I arrived. The Italians drank heavily and walked their tab. The server brought me the tab and I said it was their bill not mine and he should have collected from them before he kicked them out for fighting with local Argentineans. The server then called the police. The police officer  asked for my passport and I said I left it at the place I was staying, in a secure place. The officer told me I could be arrested and deported since I wasn’t carrying the passport as required. I told him that was not really a law. The officer said I was in deep trouble for trying to skip the bill and not having my passport. I had to spend the night in jail. The next morning the Captain, who spoke excellent English, listened to my story about the Italians and my passport. He laughed and told me I was lucky and he gave me a small fine and sent me on my way. Left a very bad taste in my mouth for Buenos Aires.”

 

 

Question #9 What is your least favorite country?

No question it is Russia. I was denied entrance twice (my military history) and resorted to a dock entry at a port and got in serious trouble. They questioned me hard for about an hour and a half. Funny, I will tell you later, why I now have Russia on a good list also. By the way since my incident in Buenos Aires, Argentina is near the bottom also.”

 

 

Question #10 What is your least favorite food?

Italian food in Buenos Aires. The cheeses have the consistency of gum!”

 

 

Question #11 How long will you travel?

That’s easy. I will never stop!”

 

 

Question #12 What is the one item you cannot do without on the road?

Have you read Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”? As he states, a “Towel” is the most important item you can have. It has a myriad of uses. If you are talking electronics, its my camera. I love photography and try to shoot about half raw and half with minor editing. I am not a fan of “over-editing”.”

 

 

Question #13 Where has prejudice been the largest issue and how did you handle it?

St. Petersburg Russia and Buenos Aires Argentina (endured for 30 days) are the two worst countries over and above any other.”

 

 

Question #14 What advice would you give minority or diverse travelers, if they are traveling?

I would tell them to do their research and make sure it is the latest information available. Do you know that 76 countries have laws against gay couple associations and it is very illegal in them? In five countries (Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran) you can receive the death penalty.”

 

 

Question #15 What has been your favorite “Tour”?

A walking tour in Warsaw, narrated by a fellow that worked at the hostel I was at. He was the event and social planner and knew the city literally backwards and forwards. Best of all it was free! I also took a tour on the Baltic Sea on a ferry from the St. Petersline over five days, that left a lifelong impression. It circled the Baltic sea, hitting all the Scandinavian countries, Russia and Poland. The ferries they use are frequented by dock workers and you find many workers in cabins on the boat. I had a couple of Russians, one on each side of my cabin and a Hungarian guy across from me. Over the next five days my impressions of the Russians grew worse each day.

 

 

One night the guy on the right of me starts pounding on my door at about 2:00 AM. He was very drunk and looking for his friend. He then kept apologizing, when he discovered his mistake. The next night his friend Igor starts knocking on my door late at night and had been drinking also. He gets apologetic also when I open the door, but he carries it a little farther. He starts touching my and his hearts and saying “America/Russia”! “America/Russia”! “Governments don’t like each other not us”! He gave me a huge hug that must have lasted two minutes or so. I almost was brought to tears by this and really then knew that all the people around the world are the same down deep!”

 

 

Question #16 What is your next “30-Day” adventure (He polls his subscribers with about 10 choices of what adventure to fulfill next)?

I am learning to Ski in Chile (August), Muay Thai fighting in Thailand (October), Brazilian Jui Jistsu in Brazil (December), Crab Fishing in Alaska (January). That’s what my subscribers voted for.  (Me-Are you crazy that’s absolutely the worst month to go?)”

 

 

Question #17 What is the country you would settle down in if you decide to stop traveling?

Thailand (what a surprise!), as I love its culture, its people and its food. Now if I was on an unlimited budget, it would definitely be Japan. I can’t tell you how much I love Japan. (Really, I can tell you, as its probably my favorite also, just can’t afford it these days!).”

 

 

I learned that Erick is a very compassionate and intelligent man. He has his life’s agenda set. His desire to help the underprivileged and center city kids struck me very deeply, especially after my recent visit to Mexico and how I was impacted by the Homes of Hope project. I was so energized by Erick and his agendas and told him of my travel desires and my wish to help young children in Ecuador or wherever I may be. I must say this young man has his head on straight and I think he will serve the world very well, in his capacity as a mentor, for the impoverished of the world. I can’t begin to realize or understand the issues he has faced, as a Black American growing up in the projects of Cleveland Ohio. Safe Travels mi amigo and I hope you get to that 50% ratio soon!

 

Homes of Hope…Day Three

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM again and this time I struggled to get out of bed. My bones were weary from the prior day’s efforts and I had to quickly down a couple of cups of coffee, in order to get this old man going. We all lined up outside and prepared to go to the camp again for breakfast. Chris came up without Brad and it appears Montezuma had rared his ugly head at Brad. Brad was unable to make day number two and had to be left alone to fend off the evil spirits, in his hotel room. The buffet was set up when we arrived at YWAM/Homes of Hope and this time sausage was added to the menu, after only bacon the first day. I was never so glad to see it. I needed the protein for the day ahead.

 

Sean and Chris at breakfast! HHmmm!

Sean and Chris at breakfast! HHmmm!

 

After breakfast and our morning round of updates and instructions, we jumped back on our bus and rode to the house site. We circled up and listened, as Colby gave us the details of the second day and assigned tasks. He stated that after an hour, volunteers would accompany the family to Wal-Mart and purchase items they needed and could use in their new house. Sean raised his hand and went to Wal-Mart about an hour after we started work. Chris climbed back on the roof with Brody and had to finish the plywood. Throughout the morning they continued with adding the felt and then finally the shingles to complete the roof.

 

Dora the daughter on their way to Wal-Mart

Dora the daughter on their way to Wal-Mart ,That is paint in her hair

 

I was given the detail or trim work and it is an very precise process with the 1×2 lath wood. Not to mention you have to balance on a ladder, to do the top of the wall trim (after falling the day before I was nervous). This trim was substituted for our normal tape and floating and the seams were all covered with wood. The remaining exposed sheetrock was painted! We kept getting in each other’s way and I truly think I got about half the paint wound up on my hands, arms and face as I touched and grabbed for balance. It was a little frustrating, but had to be done this way, to complete the house inside within the time allotted. Sean took the camera to Wal-Mart with him, so I have very limited photos of the second day of work.

 

Sean helping Dora decide

Sean helping Dora decide

 

Sean took the job of babysitting Dora the family’s daughter and told me later that Alberto and Reina had never shopped at Wal-Mart. Both became very emotional as they went for their first visit. They weren’t really sure what was what and had to be coached and directed to items that would be of benefit. Sean personally bought a bicycle for Dora and when I discovered this it stirred my feelings. After all Sean thought, why shouldn’t she have a bike? Sean said he was very touched during the entire shopping experience and was only sidetracked by trying to keep up with Dora.

 

Sean and Chris putting the bike together

Sean and Chris putting the bike together

 

They got back earlier than we thought and rode around a few minutes to let us finish the house. When they arrived, we emptied the supplies, groceries and few toys inside the house. While they were gone shopping, we setup a new bed set, a propane oven and a dining table and chairs for their use purchased by Homes of Hope from Ikea. We then set up lunch, which Reina made partially. In addition to the pre-made sandwiches we had her tamales, frijoles and salsa. I couldn’t eat enough of her fabulous tamales. We ate outside their new house and discussed our efforts.

 

The family ate first

The family ate first, The Tamales were in the big pot…Yum!

 

After lunch we circled and each said a word or gave a thought to the family and had our wishes translated by Felipe. I have never been prouder of Chris and Sean in my life. They both stated very impassioned, prophetic phrases and when it came my time I stated I was glad that Reina’s wish of not being wet any longer was coming to fruition. Reina started crying and I couldn’t control my emotions and burst out crying also. It finally came time for Alberto to speak and he teared up and thanked us profusely for building their new house and providing shelter for his family. We gave them the keys and let them go in for a few minutes and then knocked so as to be their first guests. It was a phenomenal ceremony and allowed everyone to express themselves.

 

Alberto and Reina brought to tears during the ceremony

Alberto and Reina brought to tears during the ceremony

 

We presented them with a photo of our group. The words on the photo expressed the house was given with love in hearts and a desire they would cherish their new home.  We left and waved our goodbyes and headed for the hotel, with time left to shower and explore before the final nights activities. I was ready and was literally all worn out. I had no energy left, as we boarded the bus I looked back and knew that in my 63 years I had never done such great volunteer work.

 

The first thing they hung on their walls

The first thing they hung on their walls

Homes of Hope…Day Two

The wake up call came after my first cup of coffee and I took a quick shower. This allowed Sean an extra 30 minutes of sleep and I am guessing all three boys needed the sleep. I went to the lobby and found Dennis the Defender Direct man waiting. I then called Chris and Brad to make sure they were up and around. Slowly but surely the crowd managed to arrive and we finally boarded our bus at around 7:05AM. Breakfast was at the YWAM/Homes of Hope campus and was actually fairly good, except I can’t eat bacon and it was the only meat this day. We received our last minute instructions and anxiously hopped in the bus that took us to our home site.

 

The Current Home

The Current Home

 

We arrived after bouncing over many a pothole and chugging up a hill that I though the bus might not make. The Blue Team poured out and we looked the existing “home” over and most of us kept our eyes turned down, realizing that this family actually lived in the shack next to the concrete foundation poured ahead of time.  The wife and children came out and met us all and joined in the circle for prayer. Colby our construction leader and other staff went over the procedures and  safety rules. Felipe said a prayer for our safety and the home we were building. Colby and Brody the assistant construction leader, immediately divided up the team into painters, framers and the woodcutting team. Sean got on the framers and Chris, Brad and I were the team on the saw, cutting all the various lengths needed to complete the walls, windows and door jambs.

 

Felipe leading the prayer with Reina, Ariel her son, Sean, Chris and Brad

Chris, Brad, Sean, Felipe leading the prayer with Reina, Ariel her son

 

We emptied the van of all the tools and supplies that were not already on site. All the wood had to be divided up and carried to various stations prior to any work beginning. The team did a great job and everyone that could, pitched in and carried something.  The siding and plywood stacked over by the painters. The 2×10’s, 2×8’s and 2×6’s were stacked by the cutting team. The 1×4’s went to the framers who immediately started framing the trusses. Sean joined Brody and they started hammering away with this group.

 

 

Sean Nailing Trusses

Sean Nailing Trusses with Brody

 

Each station had sawhorses that acted as tables to lay the wood on for prep. Brad and Chris secured the saw to a a couple of 2×6’s, set a jig in place after a few small cuts and away we went. We (Brad, Chris and I got a routine going (I should say Brad and Chris, as I was just trying not to get in the way). They tacked a piece of a 2×4 at the exact mark that would allow each piece of lumber to be dropped into the jig and cut it to the appropriate size. Bright young men I must say! I think they have done this before. In no time all the wood had been cut and marked in red, as to the lengths.

 

Nomadic Texan with Chris on Saw

Nomadic Texan with Chris on Saw

 

The framer teams nailed the two side walls together including the siding. Felipe our translator and really good carpenter put the middle wall together. We then lifted the two side walls and tacked the middle wall in place. I tacked 2×4 pieces to the side walls to provide support and stop the drifting. This was all  done in a matter of an hour or two. I was astonished at the progress, the coordination, cooperation and organization of the Blue team! It was amazing.

 

 

Walls up with two side walls

Walls up with Middle Wall in Place

 

We then framed in the rear and front walls without the siding to get all four sides in place. I then climbed a ladder (against Kim’s direct orders) and tacked in the 2×4’s above the rear walls. I think Felipe did the front walls. The team then tacked the siding on the front and rear sides. Brad helped in the rear and I must say it was a precarious perch with only about 12″ of sand to work with and walk on.

 

Brad Nailing Siding and Trying Not to Fall Down the Hill

Brad Nailing Siding and Trying Not to Fall Down the Hill

 

Now that the walls were all secured the trusses were brought in and Chris and Brody hopped on the top headers and started installing the trusses. I had to look away as it made me very nervous for Chris to be up that high, with literally no support or safety net. Another team started putting Sheetrock up around the interior walls. Brad was working with Felipe and I started working with them and Colby to some extent and we finished most of the Sheetrock except a few small places by lunch.

 

 

Front View at Lunch

Front View at Lunch

 

I was on a step ladder and missed the second step on the way down. Tumbled head first into the concrete, scraped and bruised both knees badly. My pride was hurt more than my body I think! It was embarrassing to have the only injury of the build! Sean was elected to string wire and run the electrical in the house from the junction box to all outlets. This became a major task! Glad he knew what he was doing!

 

Sean Listening to the Other Old Guy Talk Electricity

Sean Listening to the Other Old Guy Talk Electricity

 

In the morning talk, the lady mentioned that we should each try and ask the family what they would like about their new home and what would make them most happy. During lunch I asked one of the staff to translate for me and I asked Reina what would make her most happy about her new home. She stepped back and though a brief second and responded with “I will be so happy not to be wet anymore”. It was all I could do to maintain my composure.  I thanked her and turned away, losing it completely. My eyes swelled with tears, as I realized how lucky I am and the fact I am never concerned about my “roof” leaking on a dirt floor.

 

Reina with her Son Ariel and an Unidentified Gentleman

Reina with her Son Ariel and an Unidentified Gentleman

 

It got to a point in the afternoon where I could no longer lift my right arm from so much hammering. Next time I must use a 2×4 piece ahead of the build and work my muscles up. I turned to the painting table and joined the fabulous Ruth in painting the plywood deck for the roof. I learned her former husband was a painter by profession and she taught me a few tricks about painting with rollers and with brushes. Needless to say all the paint did not get on the plywood and my arms were covered with white paint by the time we stopped and started packing up the tools and supplies.

 

Ruthless Ruth the 80 Year Old Trash Talker

Ruthless Ruth the 80 Year Old Trash Talker

 

Chris and Brody got all but two pieces of the roof deck in place. Brad and his team got all the exterior siding and all but a few last minute Sheetrock cuts in place. We were a tired but happy bunch of workers. We loaded all the tools into the van, placed all the extra wood and supplies in the house and nailed a piece of plywood over the door. By this time the windows were also in place. We loaded up and left for dinner at the camp. Dinner was the “Taco Man” and the staff raved about the quality of the tacos. They did not mislead us. We ate until we couldn’t breathe and left for the hotel.

 

The Taco Man

The Taco Man

 

Sitting in the dining room I realized how tired I was and how emotional I got at Reina’s comment. This old man was ready for bed and I hit the hay without even taking a shower. Sean left and said he would see me later. It only took about 30 minutes and he came back and jumped in bed. It must have been about 7:00 PM. Were were both so tired that sleep came quickly. Wake up call left for 6:00 AM again and on to Day three!

Homes of Hope… Day One

I have anticipated this morning for some time, with both fear and consternation. Will I be able to keep up with these young men, I am attending this event with or will I collapse from exhaustion and have a heat stroke? The alarm goes off  at 3:00 AM sharp, stirring my wife and I arise, to discover if I have still have it in me to pull my part in this escapade of generosity. I packed the night before. The boys and I shower quickly and place our bags in the car. My son Chris, his roommate and life long friend Brad, spent the night and we leave to pick up my other son Sean. Of course the “Old Man” has issues with the gate code at Sean’s apartment and the two boys give me a hard time! We see Sean walking to the car once we are in the gate and turn around to leave. As we are about to go back through the gate Sean remembers his passport is still in his apartment. Thank goodness Sean remembered it before we were at the airport or worse yet going into Mexico. I am hounded, as they all say I am too anxious and we are getting to the airport too early.

 

We enter the parking site, board the shuttle and walk into the biggest mess I have ever seen at Southwest, an airline I rarely fly. The ticketing line is probably 300 people long and the “system is down”, not to mention we all realize its Memorial Day weekend. The young brains immediately go into high gear and Chris checks in over the Internet. Brad goes out to the short baggage line check-in. Sean and I scratch our heads, roll our eyes and worry what will we do if we miss this flight!. Luckily the system pops up, Brad texts Chris and we all get in line at the exterior baggage check-in. We then all receive our boarding passes in no more than five minutes. We go through security, which is always fun with me (Bi-Pap, shoes, back pack, camera, etc). It takes four or so totes and the boys are being nice, but I know they are frustrated with the “Old Man”!

The Three Amigos

The Three Amigos

 

We board the flight with a “C” pass and luckily don’t all have to sit in middle seats, as we have early “C’s”. Flight to Phoenix is shaky and up to 15,000 feet the plane shakes like a baby rattle. We finally climb out of the disturbance and land in Phoenix. We make our flight to San Diego with no issues and are okay until the landing when the plane tilts to the left and skids on the runway. Needless to say, I almost had to change my underwear. Finally we are out of the air and realize its a 3 hour wait for the bus to the Rosarito Beach Hotel. We keep looking outside and no one is at the designated pick up spot, so we wait. Finally about 20 minutes prior to the bus’s arrival people start gathering and its a gang of rather various proportion of ages, builds and personalities.

 

The Gang's All Here!!!

The Gang’s All Here!!!

 

Our bus arrives and we all board for the ride to Tijuana. The border gate is brand new and we all disembark, grab our bags and go through Mexican security. You push a button and “random” red alerts are done (you have to step aside and have your bags searched) and most are green. We get three reds and the “Old Man” is the only green! We then load our bags back under the bus and I am impressed with Sean’s energy and enthusiasm. He gets into the baggage hold and loads all bags for the entire group (proud papa — maybe the Monster Energy drink helped). We drive to Rosarito Beach Hotel, not knowing what to expect.  Sean’s company Defender Direct is leading this mission of compassion and has an unusual philosophy in this day and time. They actually believe they have a responsibility to their fellow human beings and share the bottom line profits with needy families. What a remarkable company! I learn later they will not take it public, as they know they cannot control the distrubtion of funds once that happens. Very admirable!

 

The Rosarita Beach Hotel

The Rosarita Beach Hotel

 

We get off the bus and enter a wonderful, historic old hotel that has served movie stars, celebrities and royalty over the years. We are given our keys and people are divided into three teams Blue, red and green. We are told to meet in the lobby in two hours for a trip to YWAM where we will learn the itinerary and eat dinner. Sean draws the short straw and has to room with (the Old Man-Nomadic Texan) me. We unload baggage in room and discover we have no electricity. We turn on all breakers, plug in the refrigerator and test stuff out. We then walk around the hotel until time to be picked up in a old school bus, that has seen better years.

 

Let's Get This Show on The Road and Get Started!!!

Let’s Get This Show on The Road and Get Started!!!

 

We arrive at the YWAM/Homes of Hope camp and take a traditional group picture and enter the campus’ main hall. We eat dinner and instructions are given out along with designated group leads, assistant leads and translators for each family team. Quick procedures and schedules are divulged to the group along with a prayer that we succeed. The food is actually good. We receive our bandannas and T-Shirts. Back to the hotel and the “Nomadic Texan” hits the hay while the young men go out for the evening and get involved in who knows what.

 

Where's My Room Key???

Where’s My Room Key???

 

I leave a wake up call for 6:00 AM, as we are to meet in front at 7:00 AM! I am worried that I am too old to hang with these young men ALL day and work without embarrassing them. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough! And the “test” will begin!

 

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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