It was April and soon I would be off to Europe to live and also record the pilot episode of my adventure travel TV show: Wheels Up! Having just returned from living in Amsterdam, Holland before Covid-19, still viewing the world through rose colored glasses, the thought that international travel would come to a standstill was absurd. And then it did. Almost all travel came to a halt, resulting in me becoming a man without a home. Yet with adamant resolve, I was determined to persevere in finding my way to Europe.
After being denied entry to board the plane to Holland twice in New York, over a one month time span, it became clear I was going nowhere. After checking into a hotel in Queens, NY, not a minute passed before I was looking for a new foreign country to settle until this virus blew over. After two weeks in a hotel yielding no results, soon to be broke and homeless in NYC, the idea of moving to Europe was a distant wish. Eventually, by way of love from Elaine, a friend from Maine, I landed myself in Portland.
One Maine winter and almost seven months later, with the world of international travel non-existent, having tried twelve different countries, stranded at another hotel, with expenses adding up as savings dwindled, desperation set in. With spring on the horizon, one night on a call with a representative from Amazon, who resided in Nicaragua, after connecting with him through my story, he said: “Why don’t you move to Nicaragua?” I replied: “Well, it never occurred to me to move to there, but I will look into it.”
Figuring Central America was a great place to lay low for a short time, it became clear I had to get to Miami in order to then fly further south. By this time it was determined that Colombia would be a better location to shoot the pilot episode. Nicaragua was meant to be a temporary layover until I was able to gain entry into South America. Before moving there I knew there was no possibility of filming while Ortega was still in office. Nicaragua is a police state where one must mind their political “Ps” n “Qs.”
Off to Miami Beach I went for some well deserved relaxation in the sun. Not many cities in the world can pale in comparison with the experience of Miami. It is truly an international hot spot, though mostly for the naive rich who are unaware of their responsibility of time and wealth, or those who wish they were of the inane class of the aforementioned. Every third car that passes by on the neon lit streets of Miami Beach is of some exotic luxury or custom foreign import – a pretentious display of grandiose ostentation.
Staying at The Claremont Hotel in the heart of the inferno proved prudent. Mitch and his team were angels in disguise, always attentive to my needs and requests. Much time was spent at their restaurant and bar, where I was met day-to-day with pleasurable conversation and gregarious guests. As often is the case when out-and-about, I was invited to join another table for drinks and to chew the fat. One night Dan (see photo) and Kim from MA invited me to join them. A night of tipsy revelry was had by all.
Dan had experience with a family member who was in a wheelchair and understood the daily challenges and difficulties I faced. He knew getting to the beach required special assistance with the wheelchair – so he invited me to join them the next day. It is not often when traveling the world that a Dan presents himself – what a serendipitous gift! It was so refreshing and invigorating to my soul to hear and feel the ocean again. Water makes me feel as if I am back in the womb. A day of fond memories; I am grateful.
And after one month in thus far another hotel, with airlines still a total disarray of misinformation and canceled flights with little or no notification, finally I found a fitting condominium to live in Granada, Nicaragua. After much searching, I was able to reserve a one-way seat on a private charter flight to Managua – at ‘only’ double the price. Flight now reserved, with necessary medical clearance tests and registration with airline and government completed, one week later I arrived in Managua, Nicaragua.
My plan was to live in colonial Granada for six months until I could move to Colombia in August. Things were not right from the beginning with the owner of my home. An utterly unscrupulous man, often he changed prices and rules – but I blindly looked past his shenanigans. To say he was nefarious would be an understatement. When, after three months of his games, he decided to bribe fourteen heavily armed para-military to beat down my door to evict me with ten minutes to depart, I knew it was time to leave.
Within a week I found a way out of Nicaragua. It was not as easy as you might think at this time – travel was a total mess in this region. And with an impending election of a forty-year dictator, many airlines and companies no longer had an interest in doing business in Nicaragua. The day before I was to depart to Costa Rica, via land at Penas Blancas, my taxi driver canceled on me – surely connected to the owner. Thankfully my dear friend David from Madrid, Spain, decided to rent a car and drive me to the border.
Once safe and sound in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I was able to relax and re-assess the whole situation. I spent my time in the land of Pura Vida sitting by the water, eating delectable far-off foods, recuperating. This was my first time to this part of the country. It is a land rich with an abundance of natural beauty, possessing no lack of verdant and liquid splendor. It was the respite I needed before traveling to my final destination: Colombia. Liberia airport has a quick and efficient Covid-19 testing center right on premise.
Five days later, I found myself with an extended layover in Miami. After another week in Miami rollicking with friends and freshly energized from my nightmare in Nicaragua, in the fullness of time I departed to Cartagena, Colombia. A friend from Bogota had been helping me to find an apartment but none had come to fruition still before my departure. So it was decided I would stay at a hotel again until a more permanent residence could be established. That wish would prove much more difficult than anticipated.
As my reservation at the hotel in Cartagena was coming close to an end, a vital decision had to be made. There were no appropriate homes in the city limits fit for my requirements in searches at this time. I was forced to make a new reservation, at a higher rate. The Hilton at El Laguito is a dream for a wheelchair. The staff is immensely helpful. There are ramps and flat tile floors all about the property. And I had full access to the pool and outdoor bar and restaurant. But it was starting to break my already slim bank.
Amsterdam reappeared on the radar but it was soon fall in Europe and I was more hell-bent on staying in the tropical sun of South America. A friend from another city further up the Caribbean coast from Cartagena lives in “Qiami” AKA little Miami, Barranquilla. It is a newly developed city with state of the art roads, modern buildings and other large community projects. It is well known throughout Colombia for its seafood. The food there is spectacular. The amalgamation of people and culture is one of a kind.
So one day a friend came to fetch me from the hotel, delivering me to Barranquilla. It was such a better solution than a taxi or the dreaded overcrowded bus. True, inevitably I ended up at another hotel. This time I made a reservation for three weeks, figuring that was adequate in order to locate proper housing. That initial three weeks turned into four months at the same hotel. Once again I was blessed with the most helpful and caring staff. Fifty-five apartments later, we still had yet to find a suitable apartment.
At this juncture, with the input of close trusted friends and mentors, it was decided that I would move to Mexico. Oddly, it was not a country that made it onto my possible “go-to” list. Adam, the producer of the TV show, has screamed since the start of this Covid-19 catastrophe that I should just blindly travel to Mexico and relax. As it turns out, it is also a country that qualifies for filming my adventure travel TV show, Wheels Up! The evidence was mounting for me to find my way somehow to Yucatan, Mexico.
Shakespeare postulated that life was a play and we are all actors on a grand stage. To go even one step further would be to entertain Musk’s belief in simulation theory. It is even possible we have lived this life already and presently are watching it play out as part of the ultimate virtual reality, one unimaginable in our current stage of human development and understanding. We are not suitably equipped with the required tools of profound intellect and spiritual know-how to answer the bigger questions of humanity.
It is said that we need what we get and get what we need [in life]. Life is a river, and if one goes against the current, they are knocked down. In life we have our agenda, but life has its own. Guess whose wins? Not yours. Fall down seven; get back up eight. The journey continues when one looks within, taking the hero’s journey, slaying their inner dragons, thus entering their heart, in turn entering their soul: their inner God. You are a creation of God; you are a part of God. The chasmic quest of the heart is the way.
You are not from the universe; you are of the universe: you are the universe. All the answers you seek in life lie within you. One only needs to bridge the heart divide to start finding answers. Once in your heart it will bestow upon you the ride of your lifetime. Looking into my heart sent me down a road that today I am still in the process of trying to digest, understand. It practically left me broke and homeless abroad in a wheelchair, more than once. I would not change a thing. I am where I should be. The story continues.
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