Quite the Adventure: My Bags are Packed and I’m Ready to Go.

I have been planning this trip for quite sometime now and it has just come to fruition. The dream was a winter out of the snow and somewhere near salt water, sand and sunshine.  I am only semi-retired and not independently wealthy so there was a financial challenge to overcome.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..how to have it all????

I questioned my friends and acquaintances, scoured websites, and sent my prayers out to the Universe.  I’ve been very intrigued with the concept of Workaway. Take a look at  their website – so many opportunities around the world.  In the end, I found an opportunity through a good friend of my mine with her sister in Mexico.  For the next 4 months, I will be volunteering in Rocky Point, Mexico helping with their AirBnb business.  Check it out here.

The first hurdle was to get there without spending a lot of money.  Travelling across the USA for free.  There had to be a way.  I found it with Toronto Drive-Away Service.  I applied online in September and heard back from them promptly.  Early in October they gave me my assignment.  I drove a brand new Honda CRV to Fort Myers, Florida for a couple of elderly snow birds.

Honda CRV

It was a great adventure – driving across country on my own with the radio cranked high singing to the Beatles and a variety of 60’s music and other pop era’s.  Yowza!!!  This is not for the faint of heart.  I hit every type of weather – lots of rain on and off, snow in West Virginia for a few kilometers, bright and blinding sunshine and then absolutely torrential rain on I-75 just a half hour from my hotel.  It was terrifying as traffic slowed to nothing and no one could see.  I quickly exited the highway and waited it out in a parking lot.

I drove 12 hours on day one and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Suites in Beckley, West Virginia that I easily booked on Hotwire and left a 5 star review on Yelp.    I slept well and was up and on my way to Athens, Georgia very early the next morning.  I arrived there 6 hours later.  I spent a lovely day with my friend and mentor, left my luggage and drove another 12 hours to Fort Myers the next morning. Spent the night at the Hyatt Suites, met the couple (whose car I was) delivering at an airport shuttle office, took the shuttle over to Southwest’s Terminal and flew to Athens an hour and half later.  Read my reviews of the Hyatt Suites and Southwest Airlines on Yelp.

Choosing what to pack and how to limit my luggage took lots of my brain power.  I need warm clothes for the drive down and for my stay in March in Connecticut, boots and water shoes, clothes for being around the stables and clothes for fun, clothes for meeting clients………….I love my clothes.  I had to limit myself to luggage I could manage solo and also the limitations of the airlines.

Bags are packed

I know this is the time for me – time to get healthier, face my fears head on, ramp up the adventure meter and experience something new everyday.  There’s no stopping me now.

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I Married Myself

 

In the summer of 2012 I got married, on the beach at sunset.  I had only one guest with me– a woman I cared very much for.   I did not marry her, I married me.  I was ready to commit for life to myself.  I was ready to promise to Love, Honour and Cherish me.  Forever.  It was time.  I was 56 years old. It was one of the pivotal moments of my life and I loved every second.

It is not that I have never been married.  In fact I have been married a few times before and who knows?  I might do it again but this one is forever.  This is a commitment to love, honour and cherish myself.  In all future relationships, I will put myself in a place of importance and of value.

If by different, you mean awesome
If by different, you mean awesome

We started the afternoon with a little shopping and then an early wedding supper at one of my favourite “all you can eat sushi” restaurants located in Toronto’s annex.  We were meeting another close friend and would share my wedding plans with her.  Dinner was delicious and we laughed and enjoyed the whole idea that soon I would be marrying myself on the shore of Lake Ontario.

not actually buying a wedding dress....but having some shopping fun
not actually buying a wedding dress….but having some shopping fun
and of course, a wedding bouquet
and of course, a wedding bouquet

My companion and now wedding planner and wedding photographer guided me in building a circle of stones drawing on Indigenous practice.  I chose 16 large stones for my circle.  Each stone represented something in the tradition of the medicine wheel.  She explained the meaning of each stone.

Feeling powerful and committed
Feeling powerful and committed

After I built my wedding circle, I chose to use the lake as my Mikvah ( a ritual cleansing bath from my Jewish practice).    In Judaism, our tradition teaches that impurity can be relieved by immersion into any body of natural flowing water.  I completely immersed myself 3 times as the sun set and the sky darkened.  I sang the Shekianu – Boruch ata, Adonai, Elohanu Melach Ha’olam. Shehekianu, vikimanu, vihigianu, lazman ha ze, Amen – a blessing for a special or new occasion.  My companion had placed burning incense upon the stones at each of the directions – north, east, south and west. I changed into an off white gauzy dress that I had bought in Aghios Nikolas, Crete the summer before.

 

 

When I came out of the lake, I entered the circle.  With tears streaming down my cheeks, I said my vows.  I promised to always love me, to be good to Me, to hold Me, to realize that I am never alone because I have Me.  I promised to protect Me and care for Me.

That night I committed to wearing a ring that I had bought  in Eilat on the Red Sea.  I had gone away that weekend on a getaway – yes, alone. A much needed getaway from activism and a few unhealthy relationships.  I traveled on an overnight bus from Haifa across the desert.  I bought myself this beautiful silver ring with crystals, delicious perfume, and ate great food and drank lots of wine.  I swam in the sea and walked along the shore.  This ring – 6 years later, became my wedding ring.

We finished my wedding night drinking gin and lemonade on the beach under the stars and honouring this momentous occasion of independence and self loving.

A little more Provence

The past few days in Provence can only be described as delicious……………delicious scenery, delicious food, delicious smells from roses, lavender, orange blossoms, jasmine and the burning leaves.  That is an awesome memory smell for me – burning leaves and branches from the olive trees – for me that is the smell of Palestine and it evokes some of the best life memories.  The sun is so bright and the past few days the sky has often been cloudless.

We visited a huge Friday market in Valbonne where they sell clothing (mostly Italian), soaps, pottery, linens, herbs and some vegetables and fruits.  I bought an Arnica cream(Baume a l’Arnica pour les Articulations Douloureauses) that is effective on aches and pains – great for my creaky knee.  I also bought some lavender soap and some mountain honey (Miel de Montagne).

window in Valbonne

Greta is an awesome tour guide and has made sure that I get to see everything.  She has taken amazing care of me. Hmmmm…..how can I possibly say thank you enough?!?!?!?

I took a leisurely walk through the village of Bar Sur Loup – there is not much there but it is just so picturesque.

Bar Sur Loup 4it Bar Sur Loup 9Bar Sur Loup 8Bar Sur Loup 18

Today we had lunch at a neighbour’s home.  This villa is exquisite and I could not do it justice with my words but it was exactly how I would imagine my dream home………pictures of ships and beach scenes, African art and furniture, beachy, breezy, and comfortable. The table set outside was just beautiful and the food and wine….ahhhh….delicious and abundant.

lunch in Provence

In true Provencal style we ate and ate and ate….and then ate some more.  The starters were tomatoes and cheese on toothpicks with a salad of cucumber and creamy cheese similar to sour cream.  Everything made with fresh herbs from Greta’s herb garden.  We had garlic bread hot from the oven, bread with green olives, and another baguette.  Then came the main course….I thought we had it…..forgetting the multitude of courses.  We had a delicious Italian pasta covered in olive oil, basil and parmesan cheese.  We then grated more parmesan over it.  Next was a platter of cheeses and a salad of mixed leaves.  Wine and more wine…………. and then dessert which was a beautiful platter with a variety of pastries.  We were almost too full to walk home and naps were all we could manage.