Travels With Jim and Rita

Episode 09 - Wanderlust Fulfilled: Unveiling the Art of Slow Travel

March 15, 2024 Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast Season 1 Episode 9
Episode 09 - Wanderlust Fulfilled: Unveiling the Art of Slow Travel
Travels With Jim and Rita
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Travels With Jim and Rita
Episode 09 - Wanderlust Fulfilled: Unveiling the Art of Slow Travel
Mar 15, 2024 Season 1 Episode 9
Jim Santos, travel writer and host of the International Living Podcast

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to trade a stationary life for one of global exploration? Join us as we chat with Kevin and Bonita, a couple who've made the leap from the comfort of their US home to the exhilarating uncertainties of backpacking the world. Their story begins with heartfelt goodbyes to their possessions, a journey kickstarted in the vibrant city of Barcelona, and the myriad adjustments from downsizing to decoding new languages. Travel alongside us as we navigate the emotional landscape of embracing the nomadic lifestyle, examining the blend of excitement and trepidation that transforms ordinary lives into extraordinary tales.

Our episode takes a deep look at the strategies and serendipities of slow travel, as we discuss visa intricacies and the charm of lesser-known destinations like Albania and Tbilisi. Kevin and Bonita open up about Soviet-influenced locales, offering a fresh perspective on places that history books can't capture. We also touch on how we keep our creative flames burning bright through writing, proving that a life in transit can harmonize with artistic pursuits. So, if you've been stifling your wanderlust or considering penning your own adventure, this episode offers both anecdotal wisdom and practical insights.

Lastly, we don't shy away from the nuts and bolts of living on the road, from maneuvering healthcare abroad to maintaining family bonds across continents. Revelations about the affordability and quality of medical care in countries like Romania serve as food for thought for those contemplating retiree travel. The journey concludes with an invitation for you to share your slow travel stories and a reminder of the richness that diverse experiences bring to life. After all, it's not just about the miles we cover, but the memories we create and the lessons we share. Join us for a heartfelt exploration of what it truly means to live without borders.

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to trade a stationary life for one of global exploration? Join us as we chat with Kevin and Bonita, a couple who've made the leap from the comfort of their US home to the exhilarating uncertainties of backpacking the world. Their story begins with heartfelt goodbyes to their possessions, a journey kickstarted in the vibrant city of Barcelona, and the myriad adjustments from downsizing to decoding new languages. Travel alongside us as we navigate the emotional landscape of embracing the nomadic lifestyle, examining the blend of excitement and trepidation that transforms ordinary lives into extraordinary tales.

Our episode takes a deep look at the strategies and serendipities of slow travel, as we discuss visa intricacies and the charm of lesser-known destinations like Albania and Tbilisi. Kevin and Bonita open up about Soviet-influenced locales, offering a fresh perspective on places that history books can't capture. We also touch on how we keep our creative flames burning bright through writing, proving that a life in transit can harmonize with artistic pursuits. So, if you've been stifling your wanderlust or considering penning your own adventure, this episode offers both anecdotal wisdom and practical insights.

Lastly, we don't shy away from the nuts and bolts of living on the road, from maneuvering healthcare abroad to maintaining family bonds across continents. Revelations about the affordability and quality of medical care in countries like Romania serve as food for thought for those contemplating retiree travel. The journey concludes with an invitation for you to share your slow travel stories and a reminder of the richness that diverse experiences bring to life. After all, it's not just about the miles we cover, but the memories we create and the lessons we share. Join us for a heartfelt exploration of what it truly means to live without borders.

Support the Show.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/2292506/supporters/new
https://www.jimsantosbooks.com
http://jimsantos.net
jim@jimsantosbooks.com

Jim Santos:

Welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita. I'm your host, jim Santos, and in this podcast series you can follow along as my wife Rita and I work out our crazy plan to outfox the real estate market in the US and actually increase our retirement nest egg by spending the next three years or so living abroad and exploring the world. Are we bold, forward thinking pioneers or just plain nuts? Let's find out together, shall we? Hello and welcome everyone.

Jim Santos:

I'm Jim Santos and I'm Rita Santos and you're listening to Travels with Jim and Rita. I've got a real treat for you today, and for Rita and me as well. Really, we'll be chatting with a couple that are a few years ahead of us. Back in April of 2022, they sailed from Florida to Barcelona, Spain, to begin a slow travel and backpacking adventure that is still ongoing today. We're catching up with them today in Tbilisi, georgia, of all places. Kevin Bonita, welcome to Travels with Jim and Rita and thanks for joining us today.

Kevin:

Oh, glad to be here. I'm glad you invited us.

Jim Santos:

Let's start off with a little background. Take us back to early 2022, and tell us what led to your decision to load your backpacks and take off.

Bonita:

Well, it started way before 2022. Kevin did research, probably about 2020, something like that. He started his research and we were planning it from about that point.

Jim Santos:

Did it interrupt your plans?

Bonita:

No, not really.

Kevin:

We had other issues that interrupted us. We'd been traveling in the US in an RV and we'd been doing a couple of years well, 18 months, I guess a little longer. Then we got on the let's take a look at some of the rest of the world bandwagon with trepidation, in all honesty.

Kevin:

We decided to do that, but we had purchased a house, so we needed to finish the house and get a few things done and the travel piece for what we had. As far as the start date was concerned, I think the biggest thing that we got hit with was the necessity to have so many shots before we could get on the cruise ship, because that's the way we started our travel. We left Fort Lauderdale on a cruise ship to Spain, so that was kind of how it worked out for us, and so we'd put a couple of years into planning what we were going to do, and then we kind of bounced through that period of time Actually, I guess about a year's worth of it and then we started just kind of doing it on the fly.

Rita Santos:

Did you sell your house or did you keep it?

Kevin:

Everything.

Rita Santos:

Everything.

Kevin:

We have a small 12-foot trailer in storage in Fort Lauderdale, Southern Alabama. That's got a few odds and ends in it and that's all we have left. Okay.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we're at that stage now where we're trying to sell our house. We're going to keep some stuff in storage because we intend eventually to return. But was that a scary proposition for you, deciding to sell everything and then head out?

Bonita:

Yes, it was hard.

Kevin:

I think it was harder for me than it was for me. I didn't like the idea of getting rid of all of our stuff, the stuff that you accumulate, that are maybe things that you'd receive from your parents or your grandparents. Those are the things that I had our time getting rid of, but I was comfortable with. We had the house and I was thinking, well, do we rent it or do we do this or do we? And it left me with so much uncertainty as to how those things could play out. They could play out either very negative or very positive, and I'm just not. I don't like the gamble piece of that.

Rita Santos:

We're kind of at the same spot because we moved from the US, and was it 2013,?

Jim Santos:

Jim, Right to Ecuador.

Rita Santos:

For six years. At that time we downsized and bought a small house and put our things in that and rented it out totally furnished and it worked out great. But we're not willing to do that again. It's just. I mean, the people lived there for four or five years. It was a doctor and his wife. They took beautiful care of it. They took beautiful care of our furniture. I have absolutely no qualms about it. But do you know how lucky we were that that happened?

Kevin:

Exactly, right, exactly.

Jim Santos:

And I think you get the wrong renter and it can really be a nightmare, especially if you're halfway around the world.

Kevin:

Yeah, right, and that's the gamble that I just. Yeah, it's worrisome to me.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, well, that's where we are. We're with you. We don't want to do that again.

Jim Santos:

So when you started off in Barcelona, were you backpacking from the very start there?

Kevin:

Yes, for the most part. I mean we had a little bit more than just a backpack. We both carry a backpack and a small suitcase, Right. Right. And we've never been able I'm looking at Benita here we've never been able to quite reduce from that.

Bonita:

No, no, quite a bit. Our first day in Spain, when we left there. After two weeks I got rid of a lot. It's like, oh, I've got way too much here. And it's like every place we left I got rid of a little bit each time. So I mean, you realize it's kind of silly to carry that much stuff that you really don't need that much stuff.

Jim Santos:

So were you camping or did you stay in like Airbnbs and hotels?

Bonita:

Airbnbs.

Kevin:

Yeah, we've stayed in Airbnbs pretty much exclusively.

Jim Santos:

What was your next stop after Barcelona?

Kevin:

After Barcelona. Well, we went down. Actually we were Barcelona for a couple of days and then we went to Valencia and I think we were there for two weeks and then we went into Coimbra and that was our first kind of longer stay. So we stayed there for about just about a month and you're kind of like trying to get your feet wet and understand what you're doing, especially with Spain, for the both of us. We both speak mostly English, so getting into the Portuguese and trying to learn that and we were trying really hard to do that. Well, but that was made for, I guess, a little I don't want to say tension, but it just made it an interesting thing to try to get along with, because a lot of Europeans will help. But they kind of expect I don't want to say they expect it they appreciate the fact that if you can speak some of their language, it goes a long way.

Bonita:

So, they appreciate it when you at least try.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, I found that, no matter how badly you mangled the language, the effort is appreciated.

Rita Santos:

And if you know just the basic rudimentary speaking, hello, goodbye, where's the bathroom? I mean that can get you so far. Yes.

Kevin:

Right. That's a lot I think, and so when you first start traveling or at least ways I think for us when we first started traveling, trying to understand that and trying to, you know, accomplish that, you know, not only for ourselves but for the people, that we were going to be around and trying to be conscious of living in their world. If that's a good way to do that, that is important to us. So, but it also it made it interesting to try to try to figure out we were doing things. So yeah, yeah.

Jim Santos:

How are you getting from place to place? Are you using the train systems or flying, or both?

Kevin:

We use it thing that's available really for the most part. So, depending on how far you're going and and the amount of time that you want to spend doing it, we spend a lot of time on the trains in Europe at one point, but we also have flown a lot. It's just for us. A lot of it has comes down to what really is the best use of your dollar. To the time that you're, you know that you're traveling.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, have you found the dealing with the Shenzhen zones to be a problem as you move around Europe?

Bonita:

Kevin was pretty up to date with what was going on with all that. He kept it pretty well in line. I mean he checked dates just religiously and when he did that he did most the planning. I mean I didn't hardly do anything, but he would make sure the dates were just right and we got out just in time and that kind of thing. So so it was never a problem for us. You know, we made it work.

Rita Santos:

But they're gaining more and more countries into their zone that there's hardly very many left.

Kevin:

Right, right, yeah, and that's that's kind of one of our. It's kind of one of our concerns. I guess not so much. Some of the countries that we would like to spend more time in Croatia was one as one. We're getting ready to go there here, probably in about a month, and you know, if we liked it, it'd be nice to be able to stay there, but since we're going to be in Poland before that, obviously it takes the time away. So so, yeah, so shingan is, you know, it's frustrating in that aspect. I guess we kind of look at it is so we got 30 days shingan, and I don't even count the countries.

Jim Santos:

Right, and then I can do.

Kevin:

Yeah, because it's, because it's just exactly what you said, but then I can turn around and go to England, right? Mm, hmm.

Kevin:

Or six months, and then I can pop out of England and go back into, you know, after the, after the 90 days, and we've started spending time. We've gone to Dubai, we've gone to Turkey, we're currently in Georgia, we've been in South Africa. So so you know, I'm finding that there's a lot of other places to go, that you can kind of incorporate those Right and the little decent flights. You know you can do a. You can do a flight from, I think, frankfurt, germany, into Cape Town, south Africa, for about $400.

Jim Santos:

So okay, okay, one of the countries outside the zone and wanted to ask you about, because it's one that we're interested in, is Albania, especially since, as US citizens, you can stay there up to one year just on your passport. Now you were in, I believe, Tiran.

Kevin:

Yes, we've been in Tirana for four, six weeks.

Bonita:

Yeah, weeks in Tirana.

Kevin:

And then, and then, we did almost three months in Sarande.

Jim Santos:

Did you stop in Durres?

Bonita:

We didn't stop there. We stopped in state of few days in Valor.

Rita Santos:

Okay, okay.

Jim Santos:

How did you like Albania?

Kevin:

Honestly yes.

Jim Santos:

We want real information.

Kevin:

It's not, in a sense, I like it. It's interesting. It's not quite as cheap as what you might consider, but there seems to be and I think you can talk to others there seems to be this kind of level of slightly depressive Soviet era carryover Right and it just feels a little heavy. Okay, so that's the only thing that we you know, because we seriously considered Albania as a place to stay. Yeah.

Kevin:

But it just has that. It's just something. It doesn't have the European feel. When you, when you go over to Kuruvou, then you pick it back up. Athens, you kind of pick it back up and, believe it or not, here in Tbilisi, you pick it up.

Jim Santos:

And I was going to say talk about the shadow of Soviet domination. You're in Tbilisi, Georgia, right now. Just the Kolkakos Mountains between you and Russia.

Kevin:

Right, right, and we're kind of we were kind of shocked, or we're kind of shocked currently, because it doesn't have that, that heavy feel to it. There's enough European influence that you don't feel it.

Jim Santos:

You know that's one of those cities like we were in Istanbul that's a little sneaky. They were popular trade routes and right strategic locations, so they kind of got conquered by everybody. So you have all these different cultures that have mixed in just over the centuries. Well, that makes a lot of sense.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, I really. I would really like that mix. To be able to join in the mix and feel comfortable is wonderful.

Jim Santos:

Now, when I was looking up information about Tbilisi, I was kind of interested that there was a German anthropologist named Johann Blumenbach who developed the system of labeling various races and he came up with Caucasian for people of European descent because he had been to that region, the Caucasus Mountains, and he thought the people there represented kind of an ideal beauty. Do you find that there is there's something about the people in that region that just strikes you, as you know, very beautiful people.

Bonita:

I've seen. I mean, there are some beautiful women. I have noticed that, but I noticed it as well in Romania, especially in Albania too. But yeah, there is, and I can say there's a, there's a beauty to the, to some of the women.

Jim Santos:

I just thought that it's really interesting that the root of the word for Caucasians, meaning mostly Europeans, was from that far. You know, it's practically Asia.

Kevin:

Yeah right.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, that's interesting yeah.

Bonita:

I always look at the features of people when we go into these because even even like France and Portugal and stuff, the, there's just unique features that people have and I think that's just so fascinating. It's like the Eastern European when you get closer to Russia you've got the blonde and you get the more of the blonde hair and more the severe features, maybe the more carved severe features, but then you know you've got the mix in of, like the Romanian, the softer features, the dark hair. It's just different. It's just like turkey. I mean turkey, they seem to have lighter skin than, say, Arabic you know lighter skin, but there is very dark.

Bonita:

It's just fascinated by stuff like that. Yeah it is interesting.

Jim Santos:

We were only in Istanbul. Did you see other parts of Turkey?

Bonita:

No, just Istanbul.

Jim Santos:

Okay, because it is a pretty varied country. It'd be interesting to see some other parts of that.

Kevin:

We'd like to go down along the Mediterranean coast in that area.

Jim Santos:

Now, with all this traveling that you do, you both still find time to write correct.

Rita Santos:

We try.

Jim Santos:

Okay, yeah, I was looking at your website, bonitaclifton. com, that's B-O-N-I-T-A-C-L-I-F-T-O-N dot com. Pretty interesting works of fiction there. At least I assume they're fiction.

Bonita:

Yes, it's fiction, except there is a memoir that we've been working on. It's Kevin's memoir. Yeah, so, but that's the only thing that wouldn't be fiction on there, I believe.

Jim Santos:

You described this as historical Western time travel romance.

Bonita:

Yeah, we kind of I mean, I would just say romance, because we're kind of going to different genres, but the time travel romance, western US kind of got it all started.

Jim Santos:

So you know Now is there actual time travel involved in this, or do you just mean? Back in time?

Bonita:

Oh, there's time travel. There's actual, you know, a person going back in time. Well, actually he comes forward in time, gets him a woman and goes back.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, I'm just interested because I've been trying to plot out a time travel mystery story, so I have a deep appreciation for how difficult it is to I mean it's tough enough to plot a novel, but when you have people moving back and forth in time and you've got to worry about causing effect and you know alternate timelines and everything like that, so I'm really very impressed. We're going to have to pick up some of your books.

Bonita:

That's supposed to be there. Yeah, as much as possible.

Jim Santos:

Right Now you mentioned South Africa. How place was that?

Kevin:

Right. We just left there. Actually, we went into Johannesburg in the 15th of September of 23. And we went down to Kruger National Park and spent, I guess, a couple of weeks, a couple of weeks there. Yeah.

Kevin:

It just sounded phenomenal we had worked around Yellowstone National Park in the US and then to go into Kruger and see a completely different group of animals. Everything is different. It's the same concept, but everything was different. It was just absolutely amazing to us to see all of this stuff. And then, after that two weeks there, we went down to what's called Mausel Bay and I think we stayed there six weeks and then from there we went over to Cape Town and then Bonita fell and broke her hip. Oh no.

Rita Santos:

Oh gosh.

Kevin:

And so we were in Cape Town when that happened. Thank goodness that we were there, because it was all first world. Everything was, you know, to the hospital. They did the surgery, everything, like I say, it was just top notch care. The people were wonderful.

Bonita:

It was a good experience for being such a bad experience.

Kevin:

Yeah, that's a good way to put it Right Right. Right, so that was there until just recently because of the broken hip and we had requested extensions, but we were there almost six months. Yeah, I bet we had the failure.

Rita Santos:

Now do you have traval medical insurance? Oh, okay.

Kevin:

Here's the thing that I think on that. I've looked at that. So we're both pensioners, we're over 66. We're both on Medicare, that's true Preach. Well, and with the Medicare they have through their offshoots, they have a couple that will cover you for emergency medical care. You know, in a situation like her hip being broken, they're supposed to cover that Right.

Kevin:

And then what we'd done was I had looked into other places and I'm not going to name anybody, but we had looked into other insurance and seen other things and I was seeing a lot of complaints about them, you paying $3,000 for six months and them not paying when you made a claim.

Kevin:

Yeah and I'm like, well, I can pay. I'll pay my health care on the front end. If I need something, if I need to go in and get you know a flu shot or I want you know any of that just kind of simple stuff, I'll pay for that Front end and that ends up being cheaper for me. And then if the United Health Care piece covers her for the emergency medical, then you know I'm really in a better place to not purchase the insurance. That's how I see it at this point.

Rita Santos:

Uh huh, uh huh, have you made your claim and United Health Care paid?

Kevin:

I have not made the claim yet, but we've talked to them several times and they assure us that they'll make the payment so great.

Rita Santos:

Great. Keep us informed on that.

Kevin:

Okay, yeah, I'd like to see how goes.

Rita Santos:

I mean, you know, so do you have an advantage plan?

Jim Santos:

Yes.

Kevin:

Yes, okay, I see I have a supplemental plan that covers only six, no two months, 60 days abroad we had the advantage and and it's it was a free plan and it and, like I said, it's for the emergency medical. What we found I Went into in Romania. I was in Brasov and I had to go to the doctor. I was having some real issues and they did. What did they do? They did I'm trying to think of the procedures that they did.

Bonita:

They did EKG and blood work.

Kevin:

You know they did. They did several things and probably at home it would have been $1,500. In Brasov everything came out the same and the price ended up being $125.

Rita Santos:

$130, yeah, and then we were in Ecuador I had a gallbladder surgery and it was, I think, $1,700 or something, and and we just paid it. We didn't, because in the States that wouldn't have even been my deductible. So Right. Yeah, so we. Just you know you have to piecemeal your health care, I think.

Kevin:

Right, I think you're right, I and I. I wish it wasn't quite like that. I wish we could be a little bit more Direct with it so that we could deal with it. But yeah, and it's just costly, it just really is.

Rita Santos:

It is, it is and and we've we've gotten excellent health care. We we got sick and prog they came to our hotel. They treated. They treated both of us. We had COVID. Every place we've been we've had excellent health care, much better than what we get in the US, actually.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, it's amazing how many countries. You can just walk into a pharmacy and tell them what your problem is and they'll sell you whatever you need.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, yeah yeah, we're in Panama now and I had a UTI. We walked into the pharmacy, I explained to the lady my situation. She gave me an antibiotic. We left, yeah, yeah and I and I think it was 20 bucks.

Jim Santos:

Yes, I'm with us. I just sell you enough you need for you, for that course.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, they give you seven days worth and you go on your way, and but isn't that the way it should be? You know you yeah, you think. Yeah, that's the way it was an Ecuador, I mean, we had grandchildren there and one of them got really sick and the doctor came to the house and, yeah, you know, it's just such a humane way to treat people. Yeah, right, right.

Jim Santos:

No you mentioned. You're both. You're both pensioners. Do you have a particular budget that you try to stick to while you're traveling?

Kevin:

Yeah, we try to. You, you kind of go with what you can go with, you know, but we we do try, especially in housing that's, that's one of the biggest. Yeah right, you know we have that number and we try to stay there and I kind of got to the point where I don't like using Airbnb, but I don't know what else to use. I feel a little safer with Airbnb.

Jim Santos:

Yeah and it's convenient.

Rita Santos:

We've had great luck with Airbnb's. Every once in a while you get a little stinker that you try to just persevere and get through it. But yeah, we found that to be the most cost-effective.

Kevin:

Right, right, and that's kind of what I think that they probably it probably works out the best and I think I feel that if something was wrong, that I could get it resolved with Airbnb, I you know. So yeah.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, now have had travelers told me that they've had luck with getting Airbnb for like a few days or a week in an area that they plan on spending months and Then, once they arrive there, they start looking around for places to rent.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, but that that's something to be asked kind of rolling the dice.

Kevin:

Yeah, we've thought about that because they they talked about that in in slonda. Yeah, and specifically, and I could see how you could do it, but I so my experience with with going around the world is is that I spent a little bit of time in the military and the military has a tendency to instill in you very, very harshly Do not mess with the laws of somebody else's country because you don't.

Rita Santos:

Exactly.

Jim Santos:

Right.

Rita Santos:

Exactly yeah, yeah you know, I mean, you don't have to get utilities, you don't have to set up your internet, it's just simple, right.

Kevin:

Right, yeah, but the cost is getting up there at this point. So that's the. It's me a little bit.

Jim Santos:

Is there in your travels? Is there a place that stands out as your favorite, or a place you've been that you definitely want to return to?

Bonita:

For me, I think it's Scotland.

Jim Santos:

Scotland Interesting.

Bonita:

Well, the UK. I love the UK as a whole, but I think Scotland just really stood out to me and I just I would really like to go back.

Jim Santos:

How about you, Kevin?

Kevin:

I think I have a couple. I think one is Chamonix, in France. Okay, I spent a couple of days there and it was just. It's stunning, it's unbelievable what you see and, in all honesty, south Africa, I tend to go back and stay, spend some time, yeah.

Jim Santos:

You know, hadn't really been on our radar, but you're the third or fourth person who's told us that they've traveled to South Africa and really, really enjoyed it.

Bonita:

Yeah, such a surprise. It was like nothing, like we ever imagined it would be.

Rita Santos:

How long can you stay on your passport?

Kevin:

You can you have a 90 day stay, normal, and then if you want to do an extension, you can put it in, but you have to do it within the first 30 days of being there. Okay, and there, what they call home affairs there is, in all honesty, is horrible. I mean, we had very little as a matter of fact, our, our extensions came back two days ago.

Rita Santos:

Yeah.

Kevin:

On my email. So we're already out of the country. So yeah, kind of weird that way. The thing about South Africa that is so intriguing to me is you know, I'm sure you hear the same things that we have it's the murder capital, it's this, it's that. It's scary, it's frightening. There's places you don't want to go, you know, just like there is any place else Exactly. The people are so sweet, they're so nice. You know, when you, some of the times in the US, you'll walk down the street and you'll you'll look at somebody and think, oh my God, I'm crossing the street, I want to get out of here or there or whatever. And there you run into somebody and you know, say hi or whatever, and they get biggest smile, the sweetest people, mm hmm, and it's just.

Kevin:

it's just not what you're told, but there are areas that you just stay the heck out of.

Rita Santos:

Right right.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we had a podcast episode just a few weeks ago about the whole safety issue and and that's been our take to every place we've been. People are just people everywhere you go.

Rita Santos:

Yeah, and everybody wants the same thing.

Jim Santos:

There are places in some cities that you don't want to go, but there's places in Boston or New York or DC that you don't want to be at late at night, so just using common sense.

Bonita:

You know, yeah, exactly yeah.

Kevin:

It is. There are places, though, too, because we, we did Kenya, and our first piece in Africa was Mumbasa. Mm, hmm, and Mumbasa was a little on the scary side.

Bonita:

Yeah, it was Okay.

Kevin:

We went from there into Nairobi and it and it you know it got a lot better. So so I mean I get it, but I just feel like we're not. We're not kind of told the truth about some of the places that are scary. Mumbasa, we should have had a more concerned approach to than what we did and a less concerned about South Africa.

Jim Santos:

Right. So we're not shopping for a summer home in Syria or on the Gaza Strip right now, but Right. Exactly. But in general, a lot of places in the world are really just fine to travel in.

Kevin:

Oh, absolutely Absolutely. And there's a lot to learn. Oh my gosh, there is yeah.

Jim Santos:

Now you've been doing this for two years now. Have you ever had the thought that, well, maybe we're about done, we're only going to do another year or two, or are you just still really enjoying the lifestyle?

Bonita:

We really enjoy it. I mean, I get, I miss my family, I miss the kids. But you know, and I think, okay, I really need to see the kids and I've start feeling blue, yeah, when the reality hits that that okay. Well, you know, if you really want to go back home, we can go back and we do this, this and this and we stay there. But I know I'm not going to want to stay there that long. I'm going to want to get up and traveling.

Rita Santos:

Do you not go back at all?

Bonita:

No, we go back. I went back last May by myself and stayed for about a month with the family and I'm sorry everybody. And then we're going back again in April. Both of us are going back in April. So so we try to go back at least once a year. And yeah, yeah, we'll continue to do that and try to encourage family to come visit us. Yeah, but I don't know Nobody's does yet.

Rita Santos:

So I don't know. Everybody came to Ecuador, at least once, which was nice.

Kevin:

But you were there for six years. You say Right.

Rita Santos:

Yeah.

Bonita:

Okay, yeah, yeah.

Rita Santos:

They loved it. You know they loved it. It was a good experience for them.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, you wish your family could get out and visit you there more often. But you know, not only do you have their full attention then they're not running off to soccer practice or anything like that, but also it's. It's been so great for our kids to see them exposed to different lifestyles and different cultures.

Rita Santos:

Yes, yes, and our grandchildren. We have nine grandkids, so it's been. It's been a really wonderful experience for them.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we've had a granddaughter decide to spend a year her last year in school abroad. She's going to be in. Was it Denmark?

Rita Santos:

Yeah, she's going to be in. Denmark next year.

Jim Santos:

And I really think that them coming out to visit, us in Ecuador had a lot to do with that just kind of open their eyes.

Rita Santos:

Oh yeah.

Jim Santos:

To that there are other possibilities.

Rita Santos:

They are wonderless, yep, wonderless in their hearts now.

Kevin:

That's good. I think that's a positive experience for them. Yeah, that's right.

Rita Santos:

In the fact that Jim and I, we go anywhere and everywhere we can, and we traveled so much of South America and hike the Inca Trail and we just put ideas in their head that this is a possibility, that you can do that too. I think it's opened their horizons.

Jim Santos:

You've put a lot of ideas into our heads. As a matter of fact, this conversation.

Rita Santos:

Yes, you have. This is very good.

Jim Santos:

And that's kind of the problem the more we talk to people and the more we hear about other places, it just keeps kind of expanding the list of places that we want to get to.

Rita Santos:

Yeah. It does yeah.

Kevin:

I get that. I get that. We're considering it. We're considering to be busy at this point and using it more as a base for a period of time. You know to be able to do Europe, and then because you've got the year visa here and every time you cross the border and back. You have a year again. Oh, that's great.

Rita Santos:

Oh, that's great.

Kevin:

And then you can come back. So it's a little more convoluted than what we originally thought without being here, but here, when you step across the border, you get another job. That's great. We might use this as a base and we're looking at rentals. Two bedroom rental here was 650, 600, 700.

Jim Santos:

That's cool, that's great, yeah, yeah, that's why we were thinking about Albania was to use it as a base to work around the Schengen stuff, because Albania is kind of centrally located. You've got Croatia and Greece and Italy, you know they're all fairly short trips to them.

Kevin:

Right.

Jim Santos:

Right.

Kevin:

And that's an awesome idea. That's an awesome idea. Well, I looked at them from the airport idea. So, like to Blesi, you've got Istanbul, athens and Dubai. And those three airports do a lot of the rest of the world.

Jim Santos:

Right.

Rita Santos:

Right.

Jim Santos:

Do you have any general advice for other couples that might be thinking about doing the slow travel lifestyle?

Kevin:

I think for me one of the things that we do that's maybe different and we don't know, but we know my sister came and visited us in Italy and typically they hit Rome and then they wanted to hit 10 other places in a week and a half that they did. Right it is. It just kills you. Now we haven't seen a move in and the first day we'll kind of sit around. We might walk around the block or the immediate neighborhood, but we just really slowly kind of ingest the neighborhood that we're in and the people that are around us. We don't spend a lot of money or time running to see everything within 100 mile radius and I think that we get a lot of good out of that and the fact that we learn a lot from the locals.

Kevin:

You know just as far as their lifestyle and their attitude and what they think of the world and the things that we, as Americans, don't know anything about.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, we're more interested in finding the local markets than the local tourist shops.

Rita Santos:

We're all about the good food, the fresh. The fresh, you know farm to table.

Kevin:

Absolutely yeah.

Bonita:

We've grown to appreciate that as well.

Rita Santos:

Oh, I tell you, when we lived in Ecuador, we were so much healthier. Oh, my goodness, it was picked that morning and it was on our table that day. It was wonderful. Oh wow, that sounds awesome.

Kevin:

I don't know if you're beef eaters by any chance. But the interesting thing to me was in South Africa you could get a kilo of beef and I mean good, good beef that you could throw on the bribe they call it, or the grill right, it was about $7. So that's two and a half pounds of prime rib for $7. That was grillable. It was absolutely amazing and you could just about cut it with a fork.

Rita Santos:

That sounds like Argentina and Uruguay. Yeah, if you want great beef.

Jim Santos:

Uruguay and Buenos Aires, just incredible.

Rita Santos:

Oh my gosh yes.

Jim Santos:

Have you been to South America, or is that on your list at all?

Kevin:

No, we were thinking about it earlier. We were just trying to figure out what we were doing, so I mean our next piece is to try to figure out kind of cost to living, because we were looking at the US and the cost to living is so crazy we need to add to our portfolio, if you want to call it that, as far as income is concerned. And that's I think we're going to settle and try to get a couple of these books finished out.

Rita Santos:

You know we'll probably never come back to the US. You all realize that right. We're probably just going to be paddling upstream forever.

Kevin:

Right? Well, I was trying to come up with a plan B, where you have a location where you can do, say, three months. So what you do is you buy what you want for that particular area and then you put it in storage for three months, while you go to your next favorite area for three months or six months and then you go to your next one, and so you just bounce between those and then you visit in between, but you have a storage locker with all the goodies that you want that you're used to at each location and you just break those out when you come in the next time.

Jim Santos:

Yeah, I do know someone actually who has an apartment in Dallas and one in Costa Rica and one in Malta. Oh, there you go and they kind of bounce between those and then, when they're in Malta, they have all the Mediterranean that they can go see.

Kevin:

I don't think I could afford the apartment per se, but I could afford the storage and get the storage.

Rita Santos:

Well, think about this though you could afford the apartment if you rented it out when you weren't there.

Jim Santos:

True, true, yeah, but then you got people in your stuff again, and we didn't really like it I know I know, that's the downside of it, yeah.

Jim Santos:

Well, we've been talking with Bonita and Kevin about their inspiring adventures, as they continue to enjoy slow travel in both familiar and off the beaten path destinations. You can find out more information about their time abroad and their books at their website, bonitaclifton. com. That's B-O-N-I-T-A-C-L-I-F-T-O-N dot com, and that link will also be in our show notes as well. So, kevin Bonita, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today and hope we run into each other somewhere in the world someday.

Kevin:

Yeah, guys, it's been great. Thank you so much.

Jim Santos:

Before we go, a quick recap on where we stand on our quest to sell our home and hit the road. We've run into some weird situations. One realtor showed up with what was obviously his wife and pre-teen daughter breezed through the house in five minutes or so. He failed to notice that his daughter went out the back door and then barely shut it behind her when she came back in. He also failed to check to make sure the door was locked. About an hour later, the wind blew the door open a foot or two, not quite enough to set off the motion alarm. So for the next 18 hours or so our heater was struggling to counter the 40 degree air blowing in until a passing neighbor noticed the door was open and let us know about it. Even more maddening, not two days later, another realtor went out the same door and also failed to lock it. Fortunately we're back in Knoxville now and can keep a better eye on things while trying to sell the house before we head to Playa del Carmen and then San Miguel de Allende in Mexico in just six more weeks.

Jim Santos:

So thanks for listening to Travels with Jim and Rita. Please like and follow and promote on social media so we can just keep growing. If you have any questions or comments, or want to tell us about your slow travel experiences, email me at jim@ jimsantosbooks. com. And don't forget, you can find my books, audiobooks and short stories on Amazon at jimsantos. net. So until next time, this is Jim Santos for Travels with Jim and Rita, reminding you we travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us.

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