The Travelling Gal

By Sue Ellis 07 Mar, 2016

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America, about the size of West Virginia, separating Nicaragua to the north from Panama to the south-east. The Caribbean washes beaches on the east side, and the Pacific is to the west.  The country offers an abundance of natural features, wildlife and the people show heart and passion.

The country's population is around 5 million with San José having an estimated population of 1,393,000 people. San José, the capital, rests in the central valley at an altitude of 3,839 feet (1,170 m) and can be a cooler place to stay. It is the transportation hub, a commercial centre and the place where all the cars and motor bikes in the country seem to gather. Tourists spend little time here with so much more countryside, rain forests, volcanoes and beaches to attract them. But with a main airport and roads radiating out from it, most people pass through. It is a city worth seeing purely to get a greater understanding of the history which makes this country unique.

By choosing a central hotel in which to stay, one can cover much of the city on foot. One such is  Hotel Balmoral    located on the pedestrian-only Avenida Central between Calle 7 & 9. Stepping out of the hotel and turning to the east (left) along Avenida Central, one comes to the impressive Jade Museum located between Calle 13 and the National Artisans Market. Much confusion abounds on the internet as the old location is still well documented putting it between Calles 9-11, Avenidas 7-9.  Ignore those directions.

By Sue Ellis 13 Sep, 2015
A trip to Spain, which took place 15th-30th September 2015, came to fruition long after its conception. Indeed the conception may have coincided with that of cataracts growing in both my eyes. Time passed and when I eventually flew to Madrid I knew the dates of my surgery for cataract removal would be 21st and 28th October. It was, therefore, with cloudy vision that I viewed Spain.

I traveled with my friend of 37 years, Kristin. She had lived in Madrid during the 1990’s and longed to return to visit old friends and to explore some old haunts and new vistas. My yearning to be in Spain was to experience the new. In the 1960’s I had visited the island of Majorca and, on the mainland, the city of Granada. The latter had generated the desire to not only see more of Spain but to visit Morocco. This North African journey was taken in 2014.

When planning the Spanish trip we decided Kristin would do all the driving and I would navigate. When the sojourn began I was not so sure about the navigating part as I could no longer read the road signs – essential when navigating Spain’s numerous round-abouts. I had brought magnifying lenses, but wasn’t confident my eyes would register through them. So began a journey more stressful than I ever imagine travel would be for me. As I write this my surgery is still 2 days away so I do not yet know how my confidence will return; how the world will present itself to me in the future. To be sure this world traveler will not take my vision for granted in the future. I cherish the moment when I have the good fortune to see the world again. But that is in the future and now I will share the seeing of five places in Spain through an impressionist’s gaze.
By Sue Ellis 06 Aug, 2015
The central desert of the Mexican Baja Peninsula is a magical place. The sun will set with strange shapes silhouetted against the evening sky. The early morning light is clear and penetrating, accentuating the textures of the multi species of cactus and desert plants. There are boulders and caves with ancient primitive rock paintings, there is wildlife and other things of which to be aware. Three plants fascinated me.
By Sue Ellis 25 Nov, 2014
I have always loved travelling in Mexico. It was in February 1990 that I first walked the beaches that fringe Banderas Bay. The blue waters filled with recently born humpback whale carves and their mothers.

It was the first occasion I slugged back an ounce of tequila; it was the first time I heard a live Mariachi band. It was the first occasion – followed by many more – of being in the zocalo surrounded by pigeons; seeing Mexican fathers proudly showing off their infant daughters and the bright extravaganza of the balloon seller.
By Sue Ellis 13 Nov, 2014
An old pair of hiking boots and a mold-tinged backpack went out in the garbage this week. It was not until I saw them lying in the bottom of my black wheeled garbage container that I felt their loss, I started reflecting on what they meant to me.

In 1977 I bought an around the world air ticket. Vancouver to Vancouver, traveling only west and not crossing the equator. The dates for the first three flights were booked, the rest of the ticket was blank. The ticket was valid for a year. I would travel until my money ran out with the knowledge that I would always make it home. I was 31 years old. An acquaintance was prepared to start the journey with me, but was not sure at what point she would be bailing out. I was to find out while in Japan that her decision depended on the actions of a certain man in Vancouver. I do not judge her motive for skipping town, as it provided me with the initial support I needed to embark on the trip. Within four months, the certain gentleman had capitulated and she flew off to meet him. At which point I heaved a sigh of relief and vowed to ensure in future that any traveling companion I had, was focusing on the here and now and not the there and now.

Traveling has always been part of my life but this episode was the first to be of longer duration and to Asia and countries with non European languages. I bought new boots to begin the journey and a light backpack for in between traveling. As was common in the 70’s, I stitched a Canadian flag on the front and a smaller badge showing the Union Jack and the flag of the Isle of Man, the place of my birth. After spending 6 weeks in Japan, the first country to discover, I stitched on that country’s flag and since Greece was the last new country on that sojourn, that blue and white pennant would later be there.
By Sue Ellis 05 Nov, 2014
Recently I was at Toronto’s Airport planning to fly to Europe. Often on past trips, I have picked up Canadian maple syrup in an airport shop to take to Britain. But that was in the days before 9/11. Now we are reminded about liquids and gels. Since syrup fits the “gel” label I leave empty handed. But the memory took my mind back to a previous trip from Toronto to Manchester when duty free items occupied a whole night of worry.

It was during the 1990's and I was embarking on a visit to the Isle of Man to stay with my Mother. My flight from Canada would arrive in Manchester early morning and I could catch a flight to the Isle of Man by noon. These were the plans. I was in the departure lounge when the first delay was announced. Now catching my connecting flight was in jeopardy. The Isle of Man was always perfect respite for me during my caregiver years and I longed to be there, hiking coastal trails where distant hills were purple hued with flowering heather.
By Sue Ellis 17 Feb, 2013
Florence, Italy, is a city of distractions. You know that there is a core essence you want to assimilate. You know that there is great wisdom, truth and enlightenment to be gleaned - yet constantly focus is lost. A curtain separates you from your quest. This veil of humanity, sweating in the Italian heat; cars, motor bikes and scooters traveling too fast on narrow streets; a deafening cacophony of wailing sirens and voices echoing round lofty ceilings. The faces of those looking upwards, not down at uneven steps and sidewalks surround you.
By Sue Ellis 30 May, 2007

May is the time that the tulip festival draws thousands to Ottawa, Canada's capital city. The city sits on the Ottawa River which separates Ontario to the west from Quebec to the east.

Into the Ottawa River flow mighty rivers from the Ontario side. The Ottawa Valley as it is called is filled with lakes, trees, farms and rock. Small towns bearing evidence of their history of logging, mills, the textile industry, cheese making etc. An area settled by pioneers who cleared the land and survived or died: Evidence of the people from the First Nations who preceded them.

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