That Was Then…

We lived in a water front home on the canals of north Padre Island. The island is located over the causeway from Corpus Christi, TX. It’s a beautiful place to live and retire. The house was on the Laguna Madre, the west side, and the Gulf of Mexico, the east side, was about a mile distant. The National Seashore – a massive national park dominated the north –central part of the island and provided excellent recreational opportunities. We planned on retiring there.Padre Island jpg The economy, politics and business decisions beyond my pay grade had led me to early retirement. That did not pose too great a problem. I was busy with volunteer activities, beach combing and my island fellowship gang. Anita was a hospital pharmacist working with people she enjoyed. We had family and friends, the beach, water toys; things were good.

August 2012 at Padre Island National Seashore

August 2012 at Padre Island National Seashore

Somewhere along the line, in between Anita’s job becoming less satisfying and more frustrating and my growing restlessness, we agreed upon a new option for the future. We decided that we would travel.  We would travel with no clear end game, no ultimate destination, no place to which we must ultimately return. This idea did not arrive fully developed. Anita researched it for several months – in stealth mode – before she broached the subject with me. I wrestled with the notion of possessions and how we could keep the “the really good stuff”. We both considered the option of being teachers of English as a Second Language while we traveled. But in our minds, we began to envision an alternative to our previously anticipated retirement years. We began in August 2011 and started making up lists of what needed to be done. We went through two garage sales, endless Craig’s list postings, shipping treasured items across country to new homes, etc. We finally got our stuff down to what we would need to travel. We put our finances in order, leased the house long-term (still waiting for the real estate market to recover), arranged for worldwide health insurance, addressed issues of taxes, voting, medical records, and especially, how to stay in touch with all those who are important to us.

our son, Michael, Padre Island, August, 2014

our son, Michael, Padre Island, August, 2014

Our grandson, Hayden, Padre Island National Seashore

Our grandson, Hayden, Padre Island National Seashore

We left our island home on September 11, 2012. The cars were loaded to the gills with “stuff”, but all of that was destined for our son in Colorado. We drove to Longmont, Colorado, left the vehicles with all that remained of our worldly goods and said our goodbyes to family. On September 19th we took off from the Denver International Airport for Mexico. We took with us two laptops loaded with all our photos, scanned copies of documents and other important information , two kindle e-readers with extensive libraries, two cameras, and two suitcases each. We have no set itinerary or schedule. We plan to not plan and follow opportunities and interests at our own pace. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”.

Chichen Itza, Mexico, January, 2013

Chichen Itza, Mexico, January, 2013

By Richard, September, 2012

56 comments

  • Yeah, you prove my belief that bloggers are better people. You live an impressive life.

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  • You both write so well it’s an absolute pleasure to read about all your travels. I found your blog because I was wondering about other “older” travelers since my wife and I haven’t met many others from the US. We (my wife is Canadian) actually met 35 years ago in Mexico while traveling. We live in Denver and travel about 4 months each year (since 2013) throughout the world. We plan on visiting many of the areas you’ve written about so I appreciate all your observations and pictures. Everything helps when planning new trips. My wife writes about the places we visit each year for friends. This year’s address is: http://www.bergersadventures4.blogspot.com. You might find some info there and on previous year’s trips that help you on your future adventures.
    Wishing you good health!
    Steve – traveling and learning

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    • Thanks for stopping by Steve, and for your kind words! We too have wondered about all those older travelers from the US who must be wandering around the world… However, we definitely meet a lot of Canadians! I enjoyed stopping by your blog too, as Eastern Europe is on our traveling itinerary for next year and you’ve written about many of the countries we’re hoping to visit. We love being introduced to new blogs and reading about other’s explorations and impressions and you’re right, everything helps when thinking about the next place to go. Here’s to new places, travel and hoping that someday our paths will cross! Anita

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  • Thank you for sharing your experiences, Anita and Richard. I love to travel and I am a perennial volunteer so what you are doing is truly inspiring for me. So far most of my travels are holidays though I’d led a team of bush regenerators to Fraser Island, a world heritage site to combat an invasion of weeds (2005) and I cooked in the Australian outback for an indigenous community (2006). However, neither of those expeditions allowed me extra time nor energy to wander. At the moment I am teaching Chinese Calligraphy as a volunteer tutor and knitting for the homeless. What you are doing is perfect and I am envious. All the best from Sydney, Australia, Mary.

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    • Thanks Mary for your good wishes. Sounds like you, too have an adventurous spirit with your volunteer efforts in Australia which we hope to visit in the next couple of years and still sounds so exotic to us! We find it very interesting to to compare when we started our travels 4 years ago to now and to see the growing movement of over 50’s travelers out seeing the world, teaching, writing and volunteering. There was little information for older travelers in 2011 when we started researching the idea of nomadic travel and now, there are multiple sites with some great information and blogs. It’s a growing movement, Mary!

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      • I’m doing a refresher course on teaching English as a second language (of course it is my second language as well) so I’m hoping to find some volunteer work overseas too. I don’t have the best of health and low energy level but I’m sure I can make myself useful in some way:) Hope to be still here to welcome you to Australia. Keep in touch!

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  • Looking forward to following your adventures! You have inspired us to do more international traveling.

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    • How fun to be an inspiration! 🙂 One (just one?) thing that we like so much about traveling is that it’s a hobby that can be modified to fit any budget, lifestyle and interest. We’ve discovered over the years that our interests change and our passions shift and travel perfectly adapts to whatever road we take. And maybe, one of these days and countries, our paths will cross, LuAnn! Anita

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      • We do agree with your thoughts on travel. Looking back over the years our interests and passions have widely changed. Here’s to meeting up with you someday!

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      • Maria Lunderius

        With your permission, Anita and Richard, I would like to add something for the benefit of people who hesitate, not sure how changing circumstances might affect travel. I am not a blogger (any more – I blogged for a couple of years about my working retirement in Puerto Rico (retirement-merry-go-round), to help others who thought of retiring there, as I could not find pertinent information myself and thought other my find such an information useful), so I can’t do it on my blog, thus: here goes.

        I have traveled internationally a lot all my life, starting from escaping from a then communist country of my birth, Poland, when my doctoral dissertation was censored and I was offered to either rewrite it to make it more, let’s say, marxist-leninist, or wash windows in my research institute. Later travels were mostly work assignments, from a few weeks, when my spouse lived (he died young – brain tumor) and I had a school age child, to months and a few years at a time, later. It was an easy way to travel, no matter how exotic the places.

        Retirement travel is a different story: YOU decide where you want to go and YOU (not the corporate relo) do all the work. Nobody but yourself will bail you out. Especially, if you, like me, travel not as a part of a couple, but by yourself. In my case additionally “burdened” by two cats. (Poor domestic creatures, who were dragged, sometimes kicking and meowing, through half of the world.)

        You need to be able to adjust your travel if/as your health worsens/ if it does. For the last 30 years I have been a diabetic, more than half of it insulin dependent and it always influenced my travel choices (more than my cats did): availability of reputable and affordable healthcare, availability of diabetes medication, like Lantus, which for decades had no replacement (darn drug companies and their profit above others motive).

        A few years ago my heart started protesting (I had a heart attack, fortunately mild), which complicated travel plans and travel additionally: not being able to carry heavy items, like luggage, cats in their airline approved containers, etc.

        Then I had to stop driving, and now, in my 70s arthritis makes me sometimes practically immobile, sometimes just a little.

        Does all of it stop me? No, I just have to plan harder, pay more for services and be even more flexible. I write, when I am immobile (right now I have got a contract from a publisher ), enjoying a spectacular view, employing a maid, who cleans, shops and does routine errands for me. At least once a week I take a taxi to town, to meet people, have coffee or a drink at various cafees or a meal at one of the restaurants. Life is still good, travel still doable – and enjoyable – even though I do mourn my lost mobility and independence and plan do buy an electric mobility scooter and move to a new apartment, elsewhere, of course ;-), as here there is no place to par it or load it.

        My motto is still: life without travel, without adventure, is not worth living (vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!) If there is a will, there is a way. So, have happy travels all of you who crave it. 🙂

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        • You’ve covered so many excellent points, Maria about travel, especially for all of us older travelers! Part of the big incentive to retire early and travel full-time was the realization that we couldn’t bank on reaching the “right” age to travel, the conventional age of retirement, and that NOW was the time to go. And, like you, as we age or as illness occurs, we’ll have to find ways to adapt to mobility challenges and other health issues because we’re also convinced that there are as many different approaches to traveling as there are travelers. And we love your motto! Here’s to both health and anticipating future travels!

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  • Maria Lunderius

    Hi, former neighbors. I, too, have lived n South Padre Island, though for only about two years (2004-2006), thinking of moving to Mexico. I have worked ( a working retirement) through Caribbean and Central America and now live in Europe. On the Iberic peninsula, but in Spain. I have “met” you through one of your comments on Rewired and retired blog and decided to visit your blog. Glad I did.

    Since I am legally both European and American it is easier (and cheaper) for me to live in Europe. Imagine a heart attack with one week in two hospitals, etc. etc. with a total bill of less than $200 (since it is the maximum amount a citizen or resident in Sweden can pay out of pocket for health care within a YEAR! US and other parts of the world is a different story, however, for a diabetic dependent on Lantus insulin.

    I am a widow living a nomad lifestyle – with two cats! 🙂

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    • Hi Maria and thanks for stopping by. Your comment shows that the world can be smaller for those who travel and reside as expats in other countries. In fact it looks like our paths have crossed nearby in many of the same places! And here we are now, almost neighbors, on the Iberian Peninsula in Portugal :). Your remarks about health care in Europe are interesting and we’ve been very pleased with the level of health care as well as the cost of services that we’ve received as residents of Portugal. And you’re right, it’s much cheaper for us to live in Europe (Portugal anyway) than in the US and far more interesting as we get to exercise our yen for travel. Maybe someday our paths will intersect and we’ll meet!

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      • You are welcome to visit me in Costa Blanca. I have a guest room – hope you are not allergic to cats. 🙂

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        • Thanks for the invite, Maria and we love cats. We’ve been lucky enough to housesit several times during our travels and pampering cats has been one of our favorite things! I looked up the Costa Brava Region and it looks like you’ve picked a lovely part of Spain. Coincidentally, we are nearby in Mojacar this week visiting friends but we’re leaving tomorrow to return to Portugal. When we’re in your neighborhood next we’ll be sure to drop a note. It’s always fun to meet new people and we already have several topics of conversation to break the ice!

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  • Sounds like my plan for the future but have about 10 years of work left. Can’t talk my partner into leaving any sooner. When did you decide to start blogging and how did you first network with other bloggers. I’m over 50, just started a travel blog about six months ago, and am feeling so behind everyone else. Working full time makes it extra hard to find the time to blog as well as post on all other forms of social media but travel and photography is my true passion so I’m plugging along. Thanks again for the inspiration and great tips!

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    • Thanks for stopping by Carol and keep planning! We read a lot of travel blogs before we started traveling and wish that we’d started writing our blog earlier to tell about our preparations to totally transform our lifestyles as well as share the first six months we spent in Mexico adjusting to full-time retirement, culture shock and life as nomads. But, since travel and photography are your passions jumping in and writing about them is a great way to record your thoughts and adventures. And you’re right about the “plugging along” because sometimes writing is fun and sometimes it’s a lot of hard work! We started out writing posts once a week and then changed to a post every two weeks and really try to stick to a specific day to publish – otherwise we’d procrastinate and nothing would get done! As for networking with other bloggers – it’s a slow process but worth the time and effort to become a part of the community. We still read a lot of travel blogs and, over the years have made several online “friends” with other bloggers as we comment back and forth on various posts. And there’s nothing like travel to inspire some great stories! Anita

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  • Charlotte Lynch

    Must be something about September 19th! That’s when I moved to Hawaii and had never even been there! Love reading about all your adventures!

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    • There are many places that we’ve been tempted to move to without visiting first. Having been to Hawaii a few times I can certainly understand why you followed through on a move there – it certainly fits our definition of paradise! So glad you’re enjoying reading about our travels. Besides the obvious fun of traveling to learn and for the adventure, we’ve kept all the places we’ve visited in the back of our minds as places to come back to and call home. And knowing that there are so many places in the world that we would enjoy living has made the choice difficult indeed!

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  • gorgeous, inspirational stuff.

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  • That is an inspirational about you page. I am very envious. We have to stay at home at the moment because we both have elderly parents living independently who need some support. We do manage to travel for about 4 months of the year, but I in particular would like to try what you are doing. Love the blog. 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for your very kind words and it’s great that you have the ability to travel 4 months a year while still being able to be there for your parents. I have no doubt that, at some point the timing will be right, the planets will align and you’ll be able to pursue the kind of travel that you envision. Luckily, as we’ve found out and you know too, travel can take you on many paths and there are a lot of ways to get there! Anita

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  • Hi Anita, You left a comment on my JustaBackpack blog and so I clicked over to take a peak. Well, I’ve worked my way through multiple posts and have just spent the better part of an hour totally enthralled by your adventures and your experiences. I’m dreaming and planning but still hesitant to pull the trigger and you guys are off seeing the world! You are truly inspiring and I’ll be back to read more and learn more. Thanks.

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    • It’s a huge decision to take the plunge, isn’t it, and leave everything behind? Luckily, once we decided to do this we went full steam ahead and, over the months that we prepared finally ended up adopting an “all or nothing” approach. It looks like you’re doing a lot of fun and adventurous travel already so, at some point, the moment may feel right to “pull the trigger”. We’re glad that our posts are inspiring you and part of the reason we’re travelling is because we read a lot of blogs that inspired us in turn. I’m enjoying your blog as well and will follow along to see what developes!

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  • Hey Anita and Richard,

    Thanks so much for the recent blog follow. It has led me to your blog, which I am now following.

    Wow – how awesome that you two are traveling like this. I have fantasies of doing just that, but right now I am caring for my elderly mother, so leaving is not an option. It’s fun to imagine though.

    I look forward to living this dream vicariously through your blog.

    Happy blogging! 🙂

    Nancy

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  • Interesting life you have chosen and I look forward to reading more about it. Thanks for stopping by my blog and “liking” one of my posts.

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  • Hi Anita and Richard, Thanks so much for your blog. Well done on your full-time travels… it is just so awesome to be living a life on the road and going where the wind takes you. My partner Jodie and I are full-time house sitters and just love it. I would love to invite you to join our growing Facebook group of house sitters and home owners called ‘House Sitting World’. There are many well know full-time travel bloggers in our group already who also house sit from time to time. It would be a pleasure for you to join us and share your insights and travels with us all. We also use it as a place for house sitters to exchange referral house sits. Hope to see you there

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    • Hi Nat and Jodie. We’re so glad you’re enjoying our blog. We wanted to thank you also for the invitation to join your group, House Sitting World. We’ve had a great time house sitting so far and will really appreciate sharing information with your group. I just send in a request and can’t wait to check it out! Anita

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  • Wow I wish you both all the very best. Enjoy and be safe 🙂

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  • Hi,

    I just want to know how to catch with Omar in La Cieba ?

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  • I had the great privilege to work with Anita in CC and became quick friends with her. I don’t miss my days of working at that hospital but I do miss Anita! I follow her on FB but never realized the blog. And I am an avid blog reader. Thank you for letting us in on your awesome journey. Be safe and cant wait till your next post.

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    • T-So glad you’re enjoying the blog and thanks for the kind words. I’m a huge blog reader, too, and (watch out!)this is how our odyssey began. It seemed like the more I read on travel and expat blogs the more I realized that this could be a viable option for us! We are having an awesome time!

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  • Anita and Richard, Absolutely fantastic story! I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading because it all rings so true. I applaud your intrepid spirits and can’t wait to read more. Wishing you all the best, Terri

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    • Terri,
      I also had a smile on my face as I read your blog because so many of your sentiments mirror our own. We expected that travel would expose us to new places and experiences but we hadn’t anticipated meeting, talking to and writing so many interesting and amazing people! Thanks for your encouraging comments, Anita & Richard

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  • What a great story! And fantastic for your relationship! We’ll definitely be following along….

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    • Thanks for following us and your enthusiastic comment. In response, after years of going in separate directions we’re going along the same road again (kind of like when we were first married and constantly together!) Travel forces you to redefine both yourselves and your relationship to others. It’s an interesting, occasionally challenging and fun journey! Anita and Richard

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      • So very true. It’s done wonders for us! People often ask us how the first year of marriage is and, in our case, it’s the coolest experience ever! Traveling, including all of its frustrations and challenges, brings out who we are and how we react to the world together. It’s pretty neat.

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  • Great Blog. Thanks for sharing. I’m enjoying Sedona. See down the road. M

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