Camping: Not for Sissies

  Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneA friend in California wrote to me extolling the delights of camping. She went on to proudly describe her ingenuity in preparing a dozen ice cream filled cones, packing them with dry ice and finding them frozen and in tact several hours later when she arrived at her designated camp site and served them to her grandchildren. I admit to being impressed with her resourcefulness but I’m also bewildered as to her reason for doing such a thing when  ice cream could easily have been served to her in a bug-free, air conditioned ice cream parlor.

 I confess. I’m not into camping. What I love is the idea of camping. Being outdoors under wide open skies, drawing in all that wonderful fresh air and listening to nature’s sweet consort, certainly sounds heavenly, but I’ve had to face the reality that I’m too much of a prima donna to accept everything that goes along with those amenities. Things like ruining my manicure while pitching a tent, trading in perfume for smelly bug spray, sleeping on cold hard ground, trudging half a mile to pee, and searching for an electrical outlet for my curling iron are not on my list of Favorite Things To Do.

 I did it once. I couldn’t wait to go. En-route to the camp site a bird flew into our car grill and remained there for the entire three hour trip. I imagine he got tired of flying and wanted someone to drive him to his destination. Obviously he hadn’t thought the whole thing through because while he certainly did arrive without flying he arrived in a messy compressed state.

 And then it poured and poured and poured. I sympathized with what Noah must have had to contend with. Here I was in this confined area with one wet foul smelling dog, two tent leaks, three irritable tent mates, and an infinite number of elusive mosquitos.

 I wanted to sleep in a comfy nightgown but my seasoned camper friends laughed hysterically at that idea and pointed out what a wimp I was. They opted to sleep in sopping wet jeans and I, being totally intimidated, followed suit and was miserable.

 Well, actually, I only thought I was miserable. Real misery didn’t rear its ugly head until the wee hours of the night when I found myself wandering blindly through the frightening darkness, in a torrential storm, in search of some godforsaken Public Pee House.

 The next morning our little makeshift chairs sank into four inches of mud as we attempted to burn wet kindling and create a flame hot enough to solidify egg whites and kill at least some of the trichinosis in our bacon. 

 I learned something about myself that weekend:  I’m too old to have to put up with  unnecessary inconveniences. My favorite sleep-away adventure must include four walls in a five star hotel. I still love nature but I discovered it’s best viewed from hotel and cruise ship balconies.

Other posts by this author:

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not


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Slaying the Dragon of Male Menopause

Guest post by Mokshadharma Saraswati who belongs to the International Yoga Fellowship Movement and is a follower of Paramahamsa Niranjanananda of Bihar School of Yoga India. She currently teaches Hatha/Raja yoga in the Satyananda style in Chiang Khong, Thailand.

One of the world’s best kept secrets is that men go through a change of life or male menopause. It is called Andropause and normally occurs between the ages of 45-60. Although there has been an upsurge in media attention and available information on the subject, most men will deny any such phenomenon exists. Mention it to just about any red-blooded male and the suggestion is met with protest and indignation.

It is certainly not a hot topic for dinner party conversation, although a man might discuss it in hushed tones with a male friend over a few drinks. Nobody dares mention it in public because it is one of those things we do not talk about in mixed company.

Every woman over 45 knows she is going to have to face menopause at some point in her life. The upside for men is that statistics show only one in every 200 men will go through a really rough menopause. Many are lucky and only suffer mild symptoms. There are 70 year old men out there with the hormone levels of a 20 year old (gotta get me one of them). The downside is there are other men who will suffer most or all of the symptoms.

The difference between men and women is that women talk about their change-of-life experiences, even joking about it, sharing how they manage their symptoms. Women accept menopause as part of their life’s journey. At the first sign of menopausal symptoms, she will seek help and advice. Whereas as man may feel quite unwell, be physically, mentally and emotionally depleted; even feel defeated and drained by the whole experience and still ignore the symptoms and repress his feelings.

So what causes this “unmentionable” situation? Low production of the male hormone testosterone (androgen) can lead to the onset of menopausal symptoms which I will list for you below.

*Erectile dysfunction

*General feelings of tiredness and lethargy.

*Mood swings and erratic behavior patterns

*Night sweats.

*Depression, nervousness , anxiety and outbursts of anger.

*Fuzzy thinking and bouts of memory loss.

*Feelings of regret, loss and disappointment.

*Dissatisfaction with life i.e., work, home, family relationships, and friendships.

Certain medical conditions can cause a man’s testosterone levels to drop. These conditions are associated with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Some men with cancer, diabetes, or any auto-immune disorder may also have low testosterone levels. It can also be triggered by obesity, destructive lifestyle choices, poor diet and total lack of exercise or awareness about what is part of the natural aging process.

For proper diagnosis a doctor will first discuss the symptoms, do a physical examination, and order blood tests to check hormone levels. If the results prove there is a problem, the patient will be referred to an endocrinologist –  the person most qualified to deal with management and treatment.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy will certainly relieve some of the symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and anxiety and will improve libido. However there has been so much controversy over hormone replacement therapy for the female menopause that many women are looking for alternatives rather than face any risk. Sadly many women died before the connection was made between HRT and breast cancer. The positive side to that story is many women have been on HRT for years and swear by it.

Still, it is fair to suggest that a man needs to gather all the information he can  about any possible side effects of TRT and then make an informed decision. Do not rule it out; ask questions and get answers that satisfy you and allay your fears before embarking on treatment.

Yoga and Meditation

An experienced and understanding yoga teacher can provide a well balanced yoga practice suitable for a person’s age, level of fitness and problem. Classes will include restorative, rejuvenating practices like meditation, relaxation, breath awareness and cleansing techniques (Hatha yoga). Yoga is based on more than just science. Based on India’s culture and profound philosophy it is like being given a road map, a compass and a sign that says “Stay on the path” to attain and maintain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Chinese Medicine

Just as yoga comes from ancient wisdom and Ayurveda comes from Indian Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine comes from an impressive and invaluable source. With a long history of success with acupuncture, there are herbal remedies and beneficial, enjoyable modalities like Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Wu Shu. Chinese medicine suggests the male menopause is caused by kidney deficiency and liver stagnation and also related to heart and spleen. There are many Chinese apothecary shops and clinics with experts who can diagnose and treat symptoms of male menopause.

Weight Training

A personal trainer can set up a program suitable for a man’s age and physical condition. It is not so much about building muscle as building bone density, strength, discipline, cardiovascular care and shedding weight that puts great strain on all the bodies systems.


It may surprise you to know that 35 minutes of brisk walking morning and afternoon can work wonders. It is free along with the fresh air and sunshine. Walking can help you lose weight, control blood sugar, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.


It is not about giving up all the things you love to eat it is about including things that are good for you and excluding things that are bad for you. Sudden drastic changes in diet are not recommended. It is more moderation and gradual change. The stomach needs to be two thirds full and one third empty that is the yoga perspective on eating. Cut down on meat if you are a big meat eater. Eat more vegetable, fruit, herbs, nuts, seeds, pulses, sprouts, whole grains. Drink more water, fresh juices. Cut down on sugar, dairy and fat. Gradually cut down and then out social drugs and alcohol.

B Vitamins can help with stress and boost energy.

C Vitamins can stabilize the production of stress hormones.

Herbs – like Ginseng and Ashwaghanda can counteract the long term affects of stress.

Fish oil supplements can improve cognitive function, boost energy levels and can help prevent heart attack.

L-Arginise is an amino acid that helps dilate constricted blood vessels associated with erectile dysfunction.

Menopause for both men and women can last for years. Tremendous strain is put on relationships. Family life can be seriously challenged, destroyed or disrupted. The support of a sympathetic, loving partner is an asset. A man alone is more vulnerable and isolated.


Other posts by this Author

My Life as an Expat in Chiang Khong, Thailand

Power-Purpose-Direction with Yoga

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Don’t Count Me Out

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneI was impatiently stopped at a yellow traffic light. The light turned red, and I instantly assumed the posture of an adrenalin-charged NASCAR racer, poised and anxious to accelerate. While I waited, an elderly woman stepped off the curb and began her slow and deliberate step-by-step pilgrimage across the street. The light finally turned green but she had not yet even reached my car.

I waited.

I drew a deep, agitated breath while impulsively strumming my fingers on the steering wheel. I had places to go and people to see.

 But, as she struggled to make her way across the street, lifting and lowering her metal walker before each halting step, something clutched at my heart. She was old; really old. Her hair was thin and white with isolated, wispy strands falling over her eyes and down her neck. Her face was ashen and deeply creased and her bony, thickly blue-veined hands trembled under her own weight as she leaned heavily on her walker.

Her body was shrunken and bowed over as she shuffled past the front of my car, delaying my start by, perhaps, a full fifteen seconds.

I drove away with her image burned in my mind, and unable to erase it. That woman had once been somebody’s little girl, joyfully frolicking in fields of lavender. She had danced to the Charleston and to Swing, and was courted by handsome young men in Model T Fords and Buick Roadmasters. She’d been a young wife filled with hope, and a mother who rocked and nursed her babies during black-outs while listening intently to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. She’d cooked and scrubbed without any of today’s modern kitchen conveniences, during a time when there were no televisions or computers to occupy her children long enough to give her moments of quiet serenity.

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

She’d lived through wars, survived the depression, and experienced the loss of many loved ones. How could she have known what indignities lay in store for her – that one day each of her crippling, calculated steps would cause traffic to be delayed, while hurried,  mindless bodies honked impatiently en-route to some allegedly important business meeting, fun-filled luncheon or forbidden rendezvous?

Would she have conducted her life any differently had she thoroughly understood the inevitable cruelty of her future? Could she have averted this travesty of fairness if she’d done things differently? If she’d laughed more? Loved more? Prayed more?

I looked deep into my soul and blinked rapidly to hold back tears. Was I sad for this pitiful stranger or was I actually sad for myself? I couldn’t untangle my feelings. That woman could easily be me one day, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

I drove mindlessly, unable to lift the thick fog from my heart, when suddenly I had a change of perspective. Perhaps I was reflecting and interjecting my own fears. This old woman may not have been unhappy at all. Beneath her leathery camouflage may well have been the joyful heart and buoyant soul of a thoroughly fulfilled woman; a woman who celebrated life to the max, who embraced each day, reveled in every sunset, and loved from the depths of her being. Such a woman would be content in her golden years, confident and fully satisfied that she had thoroughly consumed the contents of her cherished gift of life.

I found this thought comforting. There would be no escaping the inevitable final act, but I drew tremendous solace from the knowledge that I live an incredibly rich and full life, surround myself with beloved family and friends, am always cognizant of the wonders each day brings, and have loved with great depth and passion.

Should the day come when I am forced to stop traffic as I cross the road with my walker, please do not feel sorry for me. My bones will be tired, my skin will no longer be taut and my body may be contorted, but my heart will be smiling broadly, for I will be deeply ensconced in the memories of my astounding life; a life void of regrets for what I should have done.

I will have done it all.

Other posts by this author:

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

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Location Suggestions for Single Retiree?

Hello Billy and Akaisha,

I really appreciate your newsletter and the great photos!

Lots of places to choose in Mexico

Lots of places to choose in Mexico

I have traveled a fair amount internationally in the past few years and would like to consider living abroad.   I would prefer someplace closer to the U.S.   As a single woman (I am 62 yo), I believe we have a few special challenges.  Certainly security needs are more heightened.   I believe socialization needs are more acute too.   When you have a spouse, you have a built in social system and don’t need to have as many expats around to meet basic social needs.   In Mérida, MX I noticed that couples adapted quite happily, but despite attending the International Women’s Club, language intercambios etc, it was hard to connect as a single person.  Although I enjoy the company of locals abroad, for me the company of expats to do things with is important too. 

There is one more thing is of special interest to me which might be more difficult for you to answer.  I am an organ student, and so I want to be near a church with a nice organ ideally so I can continue practice and lessons.  The Spanish legacy has made it surprisingly easy to come across lovely churches, and at times functional organs.

Reduce your cost of living. Pay less for medical care. Find better weather. Create a healthier way of life.

I am drawn to the warm people of Mexico, but I do have security concerns.  I love the idea of the elevated areas there with moderate temperatures!

Would you please suggest to me any options you can think of?  

Thank you so much!


Guatemalans are welcoming people also

Guatemalans are welcoming people also

Hi Cynthia,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your kind words regarding our newsletter. We appreciate it!

As far as where to recommend one to live when they are single, I’m afraid I don’t have any clear answers. I think Chapala has a lot to offer in terms of things to do for both couples and singles (bridge clubs, theater, variety of churches, volunteer groups, garden clubs, rescue animals, language clubs, tennis, golf, bicycling, etc.) I have heard some singles complain there is no dating scene or they feel left out of social events. Others seem to just jump in and get busy doing the things they love and they receive invitations both from singles and from couples to attend dinners, theater or go traveling.

I think if you are looking for a mate that is one thing, but if you are looking for things to do and feel satisfied in that manner, it would be a personal style. There are plenty of little towns between Chapala and Ajijic (and beyond) each with their own subculture and Chapala is close to the beach, (3-5 hours) very close to Guadalajara (a large colonial city) and there is an international airport located in Guad for longer trips (to Guatemala, South America, back to the States or Canada.)

I hear people rave about San Miguel de Allende, Patzquaro, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido – even Merida. I think Guanajuato could be a good bet as well. Very cultured, international, has a university so there is the influence of youth and cheap restaurants…

Antigua is beautifully colonial

Antigua is beautifully colonial

In our opinion, safety has not been much of a concern so long as one doesn’t tempt fate. (Wearing lots of jewelry, flashing digital toys, walking the streets in early morning hours, etc. )

Antigua and Panajachel in Guatemala could be good alternatives. Antigua is cultured – a bit more expensive than Panajachel which is more funky/hippie/artsy.

Since we are speaking of singles and traveling you might take a look at our Traveling Singles page which offers many options for women travelers including adventure trips, culture trips, and women’s networks.

I don’t know if I have directly answered your question, but at least I have pointed you in some positive directions. We wish you the best in your search and hope you find a place that feels like home.

Feel free to write any time, we’d love to hear from you again. And perhaps we could answer any other questions.


Akaisha and Billy

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The World Is Your Oyster


Hi Akaisha and Billy,

Boy, I sure needed to see your e-mail and  the following statement as I’ve been retired (age 57) for a year now and am feeling quite lost not knowing what to do with my life.  This gives me some encouragement!  Thanks and enjoy Guatemala.

“We en-Courage you also to embrace change for the dynamic involvement in your life that it requires, and to not be afraid of your future. Do not succumb to looking down but choose to look up and out!”


The world is an exotic place

The world is an exotic place

Hi Cheryl,

I’m sorry that you are struggling with what you want to do with your life now that you have retired. This is a very normal time period people go through once they no longer have their calendar filled with their work schedule. It’s a shifting of priorities and a new perspective.

At 57 you are still so very young and vibrant with lots of talents and experience to offer the world. Not to mention that “the world is your oyster” at this point as well.

I don’t know what your personal interests are or even where you might be living now, but there are travel opportunities for women (take a look at our Traveling Singles Page) where you can take painting courses in Italy, go with a group of adventurous women to some exotic locale or stay with women around the world on an itinerary of your own choosing.

Share what you know with others!

Share what you know with others!

If you are looking for personal meaning and substance, doing some volunteering is always a good bet.

If you are wondering how you could travel and afford it, try our Travel Housing Options Page. That’s a comfortable and exciting way to open up your horizons.

No matter where you find yourself, if you have the choice to take the leap of faith or not to, take the leap!

Let us know if we can help in any way.

Wishing you all the best!

Akaisha and Billy


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Identifying Knee Injuries

Author Bio: Sabrina Bush lives in New York with her fiancé and a baby on the way.  She is a blogger for numerous websites and has written articles on a number of topics.  Some of her interests include the field of health and medicine, like orthopaedic matters and prenatal topics.  

While many knee injuries happen to professional or recreational athletes, an injury to various portions of the knee could happen to anyone.  Just a simple bend or twist in the wrong direction could lead to excruciating pain.  If a knee is swollen, it may be hard to discern just what type of injury you’re facing.  Even some doctors won’t be able to diagnose the injury without close inspection.  Therefore, it’s important to know the specific symptoms of each type of injury.  Being educated in these matters could save you a trip to the hospital when you’re only dealing with a sprain.

Knee1How the injury occurred will be a major help in determining the type of injury you’re facing.  Of course, knowing the various symptoms of each type of injury will also be imperative.  If you have twisted your knee or taken a direct hit to the side of it, you may have torn the cartilage.  Pain will certainly be involved, and the knee will swell up very quickly.  If you have difficulty walking, you’ve probably torn the meniscus, the cartilage joining the two leg bones into the knee.  These symptoms are very similar to ligament injuries, so it may be hard to tell.  One important symptom that can set the two injuries apart is if the knee locks up.  This will only happen if the cartilage has been torn.

As previously noted, tearing a ligament could involve many of the same symptoms as tearing the cartilage.  Falling awkwardly could cause such an injury, as well as taking a direct hit to the side of the knee.  However, the hit would have to be extremely forceful in order to tear a ligament.  Not as much force is needed to injure the cartilage.  Pain and swelling will occur with this injury.  A major difference, however, between this injury and the one discussed above is the feeling of the knee.  If walking is difficult because the knee feels unstable, it could be a torn ligament.

Knee2Tearing either the meniscus or a ligament is an extremely serious injury that requires immediate attention by health care professionals.  The same goes for fractures surrounding the knee, as well as a dislocation.  In all of the circumstances involving serious injuries to the knee, pain and swelling is commonplace.  Swelling may come on rather quickly, almost immediately after the hit, fall, or awkward twist.  If you have a hard time putting weight on the leg due to immense pain, a fracture may have occurred.  You have either broken an end of either one of the leg bones, and a hospital visit is forthcoming.  The same goes for dislocations.  It should be fairly easy to tell if you’ve dislocated your knee, rather than fractured one of the surrounding bones.  In this circumstance, the bones will look distorted and uneven.  Of course, this is provided you can see the bones underneath the massive amount of swelling that may occur.  Note that it will be very difficult, fairly impossible, to walk on the injured leg.

Knee3While all of the above situations involve serious injuries that require hospital visitation, a sprain is much better to deal with.  You should not require a hospital to diagnose and treat the problem.  Perhaps a visit to your primary care doctor is necessary, but a sprain can be treated using at-home remedies.  A sprain is also much easier to diagnose on your own.  Pain should be centrally located in only one part of the knee.  It should be easy to tell which muscle or ligament is sprained based on the location of the pain.  The knee will feel stable and you should have no trouble walking.  A limp may occur only because of the pain.  Also, there should be no swelling involved with a sprain. 

Hopefully, this article has made it a little easier for you to understand the different symptoms associated with knee injuries.  If there’s no swelling, it’s just a sprain.  Save yourself time and money by staying at home rather than going to a hospital.  However, if there’s immense swelling involved, along with excruciating pain, seek out an orthopaedic or health care professional immediately.  Serious injuries will involve a long recovery time, so it’s best to prevent knee injuries from happening in the first place.  Yet, it could happen at any time.  One wrong slip on the ice this winter could leave you with a knee injury.  Resort to the above information for an easier and faster diagnosis.

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Is 61 Too Old to Be a Gypsy?

Still traveling after all these years

Still traveling after all these years


I appreciate the time you spent emailing me back. I do have one important question now that you both are about my age……..60. Are you still traveling and exploring as you did 20 years ago or are you going to slow up on your travels/adventures?

The reason I ask is that one of the CD’s I ordered from you years ago gave me the impression that you felt older people in their 60’s might be hesitant to make major changes in their lives. Since I have been desperately wanting to leave the work force and travel extensively in addition to living in foreign countries, I’m hoping that at my age, 61, it’s not too late to really appreciate the alternative lifestyle of being a “vagabond/gypsy” so to speak. I have moved 35 times in my life and I enjoy living out of a suitcase and being on the road, so would this make it easier for me?

Using public transport

Using public transport

I just don’t want to be too old to begin my exciting new life. Maybe you have a link to some folks my age that are just beginning too and they might want to meet up with me. If so, let me know. Thank you.

I wish I had started way back but I hope it’s not too late…….:-(


Hi Penny,

We are now in our early 60’s and we are still vagabonding around with our backpacks. Some people our age — not so much. We certainly think it’s a personal approach. That being said, we still hop into the back of pickup trucks for transport and take tiny boats across the lakes or in between islands. We take bumpy rides in tiny tuk-tuks and absolutely still use public transport.

Having adventures is FUN!

Having adventures is FUN!

We are not slowing down too much, but we have noticed that we prefer more comfort to our travels now. For instance, better quality rooms with firmer beds and no red-eye air flights if we can help it. And… we take taxis more often now instead of traipsing with our luggage long distances.

We have added house sitting to our lodging/travel options which certainly brings with it more comfort and more room.

I think as far as we go, we are just a little more conscious in terms of what may threaten our health concerns, but nothing so much as to prevent us from traveling. Personally, I think the thing that ages people the most is “stiffening of the perspective.” As humans we get used to a routine, to a certain amount of comfort and then anything else seems a hardship — when it really isn’t.

You sound like an adventurous woman with a flexible attitude so I don’t think you will have nearly the trouble as someone else who has not traveled. You will find your comfort level and just travel from that position. There are plenty of international hostels and hotel rooms you could afford on your own. You will most definitely meet other travelers on the road and that will open your world up.

I still carry my own gear

I still carry my own gear

I would suggest checking out both of these sites that we have on our website: Our Traveling Singles Page and our Travel Sites Page. There is lots of information available to you here.

I am really excited for you. You will know when you want to stop, but for now, take advantage of your bold spirit and see as much of the world as you can. It’s truly worth it.

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your interest in our books.

Best regards,

Posted in About us, Heart Song, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is Chapala, Mexico the Place for You?

Native in front of mural, Ajijic, Mexico

Native in front of mural, Ajijic, Mexico

Hello Billy and Akaisha ~

I purchased your online Adventurer’s Guide to Chapala Living a few months ago and it has become my ‘bible’ for my visit to Lake Chapala from Sept. 19th to 30th. I will be spending the first and last weekends with friends in Ajijic, and the week between by myself in Chapala.  The trip is being made to convince me – or not – that this is THE place for me to live on a permanent basis. I am very optimistic and enthusiastic that Chapala will become my new home in 2014.

While my version of your Guide is a few years old, I’m assuming not much will have changed in the past three years.  I’ve spent considerable time on Google doing additional research and there’s been lots of email going to and from with friends answering my many questions.  I will also visit with a friend of a friend who lives in Chapala.  I plan to live in Chapala and be amongst the Mexican people where I will also learn to speak Spanish.

Thinking/planning on moving to Chapala and the idea of moving my favourite – and basic – pieces of furniture and household effect as I will want to live in an unfurnished apartment.  That’s the one aspect I have not been able to find much information about.  All units seem to be furnished. Question: is that a realistic expectation?  That I’ll be able to rent a 1 or 2 bedroom  ground floor ‘apartment’ – unfurnished except for the appliances.  I do not need/want a full house or a parking stall; access to the outdoors, as with a patio,would be ideal.

Any additional advice you can offer regarding unfurnished accommodation is appreciated.


Chapala Plaza, central Chapala

Chapala Plaza, central Chapala

Hi Gail,

Thanks for taking the time to write. We are happy that our book on Chapala has been of use to you!

Re: furnished and unfurnished apartments — I would suggest taking your time to look around for a place to rent. You may find that after you locate, you might want to re-locate. It sort of comes with the territory. Reason I say this, is that nothing replaces actually spending time in a location to find out the subtleties. — or not so subtle. You might like the apartment or casita, but perhaps there will be a neighboring dog that is annoying, or it might be “too far” to your favorite new haunts or to the bus line. Your shower may not give enough water or there could be an annoying leak or the kitchen just doesn’t have enough counter space. It’s possible there could be someone in the complex who is grumpy or vexing and there is no way to know of these things until one actually lives in a location for a while. (We once rented a beautiful place – spacious, sunny, all new appliances and fit our every need — except one of the neighbors had a yelping uncontrolled dog and she fed 15 feral cats… which made living there very uncomfortable!)

Life is an adventure, follow your dreams. 

Also, if you find a location that you like, I believe you can make arrangements to have the landlord put furniture put into storage. But again, I would wait until you know for sure that this is the location you would like to live in before you ship your heavy items here.  If you don’t and if you choose to ship them prematurely, then you will box yourself in to a situation that could be stressful.

Beautiful Lake Chapala

Beautiful Lake Chapala

There is also the chance that you might prefer a town other than Chapala. There are towns like San Antonio, Riberas, Mirasol, La Floresta, etc. all between Chapala and Ajijic — and they are worth looking into. You might even choose a place farther away like Jocotepec — and again, the only way you will know what you like is to stay for a length of time and feel it out.

If you are concerned one way or the other you could always house sit in various places to get a feel for the neighborhoods, or rent a casita from someone who has a larger home.

I don’t know your style of living, but I would still recommend taking your time before investing too much money and making a huge commitment. It is far cheaper to put your favored items in storage in Canada until you are sure that you need them, than to incur emotional stress by having them here and then not be able to get up and go if you find the place to be unsuitable.

I hope you find this information useful to you, and we wish you every good thing in your move to Chapala.

Congratulations on your retirement and feel free to write anytime.

Best regards,


Posted in All Things Financial, Housing, Q & A From our Readers, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Power-Purpose-Direction with Yoga

Guest post by Mokshadharma Saraswati who belongs to the International Yoga Fellowship Movement and is a follower of Paramahamsa Niranjanananda of Bihar School of Yoga India. She currently teaches Hatha/Raja yoga in the Satyananda style in Chiang Khong, Thailand.

Yoga has been around since the time before Christ. Nothing lasts that long unless it works!

Thai Dancers Pose

Thai Dancers Pose

When I first started to do yoga I was much closer to 40 than 35. Back in those days yoga was still considered to be some “Hippy” phenomenon only practiced by alternative lifestyle folk. Thankfully , yoga has come a very long way since then. These days it is a highly respected Health and Wellness modality practiced by millions of people around the world. These people not only want to be fit and healthy, they want a recipe to relieve the stress and strain of maintaining a lifestyle while keeping all the different components of their lives in balance and harmony.

Yoga is not a religion, it is based on science. Think anatomy, biology, physiology, philosophy, and psychology. The word yoga means to “UNITE “so it is still considered a spiritual practice in the sense that it is a universal prayer for the wellbeing of all mankind.

I am not here to bore the pants off you by talking about science and philosophy. I am here to clarify for you why yoga works.

Reverse Plank Pose

Reverse Plank Pose

I admit I am a bit biased because I have been practicing for 26 years and I know what it has done for me personally. I have been teaching for 20 years and even though I am 65, I still teach yoga 3 or 4 days a week – sometimes 2 classes a day. I hope that encourages you to believe age is no barrier and there is a style of yoga to suit all ages, levels of fitness and personality type.

The health and wellness industry is huge all around the world. There is a plethora of attractive options for people to choose from. So what makes yoga special and unique?

Yoga is about getting out of your head and into your body

Imagine an apple! There is the outer skin and the inner layers that go right through to the inner core of the fruit. We have an outer skin also, and the benefits of the practices go deep into the inner layers through to the core of our being.

Yoga works on the physical body, creates equilibrium in the mind, stabilizes the emotions, expands breath and energy and soothes the heart and soul. It is much more than just a set of exercises. Yoga gives tangible benefits to the whole body by helping to maintain the balance and harmony we seek.

Double Waist Twist

Double Waist Twist

Yoga postures work on muscles, joints and ligaments, and they gently massage internal organs. They have beneficial effects on the systems of the body, like the immune system, nervous system, and digestive system. We become physically stronger, more supple and flexible, and we are able to enjoy more freedom of movement and stability. We feel energized and relaxed all at the same time. Tightness, stiffness and tensions are all eased away.

The good news is yoga stimulates all the “Happy hormones” and our moods and memory functions improve. We feel motivated, inspired, stimulated and creative. Yoga also strengthens the nervous system and the glands in the body that keep us on an even keel so they work more efficiently. Those happy hormones lift our spirits and negativity, depression and anxiety are replaced by optimism, renewed confidence and belief in one’s self and life in general. On days when the “Dark Goddess” leaves us feeling downhearted, we have the discipline and control to “tell the blues so long!” Just like the lyrics of that lovely old song from years ago.

Dr. Detphoom, Mokshadharma, Dr. Churrawan

Dr. Detphoom, Mokshadharma, Dr. Churrawan

For most yogis the philosophy of yoga is our belief system. The teachings originate from the ancient Vedic scriptures and the Tantric texts translated into English with all the mythology and the rituals removed. Yogis respect all cultures, traditions and religions so no one’s beliefs will be undermined, overridden, disregarded or disrespected. That is just NOT what we do. Yoga has probably done as much if not more than the UN to bring people from diverse cultures, traditions and religions into the spirit of co-operation and fellowship!

Enjoying Yoga at age 85

Enjoying Yoga at age 85

Classes consist of:

Postures for strength and flexibility

Breathing techniques teach how to expand breath and energy.

Meditation helps us learn how to settle into stillness. Our ability to focus and concentrate improves.

Relaxation – because everyone needs to learn how to relax fully and deeply. It is everyone’s favorite part of class time.

View of Mekong River from Yoga space

View of Mekong River from Yoga space

Helpful Information

Teachers must be trained and accredited.

Yoga is totally NON-Competitive.

You do not need to buy expensive clothes or equipment.

Most teachers offer discounts for students and pensioners.

You do not need to be vegetarian to do yoga.

General classes include men and women. Often there are “ladies only classes” and “Men only classes.”

Please advise your teacher if you have any chronic illness, physical impairment, or injury – back, neck, shoulder pain or any other physical restrictions.

If you are “over 40” and having a baby, book into pre-natal yoga classes. You will be happy you did.

Other posts by this Author

My Life as an Expat in Chiang Khong, Thailand

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Aging: Not All Fun and Games

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneMy funk began when I sidled into my chiropractor’s office, bent out of shape, wracked with pain and convinced that even my eyelids were attached to my back.

The chiropractor instructed me to lie on my back, and pull my knees up as close to my chest as possible.

“You have wonderful flexibility,” he commented.

“I do?” I questioned, knowing he was nuts. “Why do you say that?”

“You’re can bring your knees right up to your chest.”

“That isn’t difficult for me,” I laughed.” My chest has been touching my knees for several years now; even when I stand.”

Then I visited my lawyer to revise my Will.

“I haven’t seen you in awhile,” he said. “You still going with that guy….what’s his name…….Bob?”

“No. We broke up,” I answered.

He cocked his head. “Oh? That’s good to know. You’re very marketable, you know.”

What a strange way to express a compliment, I thought.

Then he added, “You do still drive at night, don’t you? I know a number of men I’m certain would be interested in you, but none of them drive after dark.”

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

My future passed before me; walking through malls, holding hands. Candle lit lunches in the Food Court. Racing to our respective cars before sunset.

My next rude awakening came when I sat in the Social Security office knowing I didn’t belong there because only old people collect social security. But my failing memory was a dead give away that I, indeed, did belong there.

“What year were you married?” asked my interrogator.

“I think……. maybe…… 1958?

“When were you divorced?” she probed.

“Physically, or emotionally?”

She rolled her eyes. “The year.”

“I don’t really remember. Some time in the early ‘80’s.

She was losing patience. “What’s your ex-husband’s date of birth?”

I stared at her blankly. “February 11, 1934, 35 or 36……….I think.”

She searched her computer for answers I didn’t have.

“Okay,” she said. “I found his birth date.”

“Really? What’s the year?”

“I’m not permitted to disclose that information,” she glowered.

She printed out the bits and pieces I’d given her along with the data she’d culled from her secret files and instructed me to read and sign it.

“Uh-oh,” I observed. “It says my ex was born in 1935. Will you get in trouble for revealing that to me?”

How about prescription drugs? My medicine cabinet is a junkie’s fantasy. On my last visit to the drug store I received a personal handshake from my pharmacist thanking me for single handedly paying his weekly salary.

Reduce your spending footprint. Increase your lifestyle and financial longevity.

Not long ago I had floor to ceiling mirrors installed on the wall next to my bed, to make the room look larger. Talk about dumb. Each morning as I roll out of bed the first thing I see is me. Let me assure you, that no matter how well rested I am, my linen creased face, electronically charged hair, and unsupported body could easily qualify me as Martha Stewart’s most challenging antique refinishing project.

When I was married my husband looked at me one morning, with deep furrowed brows.

“Who are you?” he asked. “You’re not the woman I went to bed with last night.”
“Make fun of me if you like,” I said, as I headed towards my makeup kit. “In fifteen minutes I will be beautiful. But you, on the other hand, will be stuck looking as you do now, for the remainder of the day.”

Today it takes bifocals and a high powered magnifying mirror to do what I use to zip through in fifteen minutes. Then I step out into the daylight and discover that my failing eyes have caused me to look like a cross between a hooker and a clown.

Growing older is not what I thought it would be. I knew it might involve glasses, white hair, false teeth and wrinkles, but I wasn’t prepared to lose an inch and a half in height and have my skirts and slacks drag on the floor.

I know I’m being sullen, and I imagine this feeling will eventually pass. But it won’t happen soon. My first Social Security check just arrived and it’s too damn small for me to be social or feel secure.

Other posts by this author:

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Open at Your Own Risk

Up, Up and Away – Or Not

An Apple a Day Doesn’t Work

Vacationing with a Stranger

Help! I’m Drowning in Minutiae

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