Growing up in Indianapolis during the 1950s, life was quite pleasant and happy. You could even leave your house with the doors unlocked. Who of you are old enough to remember that? Things were awfully different then, as you can imagine.
As a ten-year-old kid, I could go anywhere and my grandparents, who raised me and my brother, never worried if we’d come home alive or get kidnapped or shot down in a drive-by. There were no serious gangs then, at least not in my neighborhood, just a few thugs and bullies who pretended to be bad.
My favorite sport back then was baseball. During the hot, humid, never-ending summer months, I ate and slept baseball with my friends. I never worried about anything and got into everything with my friends. Hey, I was just a kid being a kid!
After high school, my grandmother wanted me to attend college, but I had other plans. I wanted to go on an adventure to see the world at a very early age, so two of my closest friends and I went down to the local Naval Recruiting Office to sign up, take the exam, and join the Navy. Unfortunately, my two friends failed the exam. I passed it, so I was off to San Diego, California, and basic training. I’ll never ever forget the Friday before I was to leave for basic training. On that day, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and I thought to myself, “Is this really a good time to enlist?”
I spent the next four years serving my country; three of those years were aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60), an aircraft carrier based out of Mayport, Florida. Our military duty was pretty cool because we spent our time patrolling the Mediterranean Sea with the 6th Fleet and visiting a host of countries, learning about different people, cultures, and food. I think this is where the traveling bug really bit me hard. We visited ports all around the Mediterranean, including Barcelona, Spain; Naples, Italy; Cannes, Nice, and Marseilles, France; Athens, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; and Valletta, Malta. We also periodically sailed to Cuba and the Virgin Islands.
After completing my military service, I returned to Indianapolis, but things were quite different then. The Vietnam War machine was going strong, war protests had erupted on college campuses, and the Black Power movement was in full force. I wasn’t happy being home again and wanted to get back on the road, so a friend and I decided to pack up his family and drive 3000 miles to sunny Southern California because we thought the grass was greener there. In fact, the grass truly was greener there and far more potent.
Acclimating to the Golden State wasn’t easy, but I persevered and eventually had some successes, along with a ton of failures along the way. The subsequent five decades in California weren’t always easy for me, especially when it came to the loss of a loved one. I will always remember something that Pastor Rick Warren said: “Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one. or you’re getting ready to go into another one.”
After my wife Cely passed away in 2018, I was faced with some major changes in my life, so I began to consider different places and countries where I could relocate and I’d heard some wonderful things about Costa Rica for many years and was always curious. In February of 2019, I started researching all things Costa Rica because I was seriously looking for a place to retire and high on my “must have list” was a place with beautiful beaches, a tropical climate, a great healthcare system and a lower cost of living compared to the US and not very far from California, where I’m from. It’s less than 5- ½ hours flying time from Los Angeles.
I wanted what was best for my lifestyle because I was totally burned out and stressed from living in the Golden State. It wasn’t looking so Golden for me anymore, with the high cost of living, high property taxes, expensive gasoline, through-the-roof real estate prices, high food costs, uncontrolled healthcare costs, a failing public school system, gang violence, neighborhood drug activity, and homelessness—not to mention the political climate. My late wife was from the Philippines, so I considered Batangas as a good place to live and even Rosarito, Mexico, and Costa Rica. All were good choices in my opinion.
In April 2019, I signed up for a tour and visited Costa Rica for the first time, where I became infected with Pura Vida.
As Lily Tomlin says, “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”
(Written Before Covid – 19 Outbreak)