Monthly Archives: November 2012

Downsizing in a backpack

A tiny bit of backpack downsizing

As you quickly learn when you travel with just one bag — for any amount of time — every bit of space matters. As I was packing to move from Costa Rica to Panama, I had one of those moments of celebration… The celebration when you gain a bit of space, when you get to downsize even just a tad. Most of you will laugh at this one. I did. But my finally! grin was ear to ear at the time. The moment? When I finished a pack of dental floss and was able to fit the floss from my bigger container into the smaller one. I know you’ll wonder why I’d I brought two. It was because I had them when I left LA, each was partially used, and I was sure neither would last long. I am seriously amazed how long each lasted.

The first Mac I couldn’t make more efficient

After years and years of helping people make their Macintosh computers more efficient, I finally came across one that I couldn’t set up for more efficiency. I met a new Mac user who has a beautiful MacBook Pro. When I hit Command-N to start a new browser window on his Mac and see his default settings, he asked how I did that. So now he knows about keyboard shortcuts and how to learn them. But… I was not able to set his Finder settings and customize his menus. His Mac is in Japanese. and my Spanish isn’t good enough to explain where he needs to go and what he needs to do. OK, truth is, given time, I would be able to recall menus or change the language and set it up for him. But that just wouldn’t be appropriate while he needed to do his work. He is another […]

Bus from San Diego to San Jose, 60 cents

I loved this sight… a bus from San Diego to San Jose for about .60 cents. This is the fun of visiting places that have the same names as other places you know. In California, San Diego is the south-most city, while San Jose is in the north. The ride between the two is at least 7 hours. But in Costa Rica, these are areas of greater San Jose. Anyway, when I noticed this bus one day I wanted to take a photo. So, one day, the bus was parked right in front of me and I had my opportunity.

A friendly ride in Costa Rica

The other day as I was rushing to be somewhere in San José, Costa Rica, a large dark car pulled over and the front passenger door opened. Each time I have walked this route I have noticed the cars pulling over and picking people up. With each car that pulls over I look and wonder for a moment if that car is someone from the synagogue pulling over to give me a ride but it is a silly thought; I am not well known and few people make this drive. This time I glanced at the car that stopped and suddenly realized that I recognized the man and the car HAD stopped for me. It was a nice feeling to be recognized and to have someone stop for me.

Life before these travels

Once upon a time I was a successful young professional living and working in NYC. I loved my life and the perks of being in the media in NYC. But the world beckoned loudly, and even more so as I traveled Israel and then coming out of Egypt and upon my return to my homeland of NYC. So I left and traveled — for three years.

I independently traveled the world solo starting in the mid 80s when each traveler’s notebook of people we met was our own couch surfing site.

Then I settled down to a life as a world-renowned book/magazine/web author, instructor, and consultant in the field of Macintosh and Web. This was the comfortable home and life that I left to travel again.


Being out of the United States, I barely realized Thanksgiving was coming, But the message did come through and I must admit it was a lonely feeling to realize I would be alone and not have a Thanksgiving Dinner. And then a huge surprise – an invitation from a CouchSurfing hostess who lives near my hostel. She invited me on Wednesday night. Of course, the dinner was delicious. Turkey, stuffing, and more. Something new for me: Costa Rican sweet potato mixed with orange juice baked and served in orange halves. Topped with marshmallow, of course. I really enjoyed the company too. I even learned a new game sort of like charades. Are you wondering how I realized Thanksgiving was coming? For one, via TV. (Gotta keep up on the Middle East and I have been catching a couple of my old Soap Operas while working online during some days. Also, […]

My bed in San Jose, Costa Rica

I think some of my friends will get a kick out of this, This is the bed I had in a small home hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica. There were three bunk beds in the room. Most of the time I had this room to myself. A few nights there would be another woman in the room. This room would have been a children’s bedroom before the house became a hostel, but the room has no closets. As is typical, bunk beds in hostels double as closets for clothing in use. Notice the flower. Flowers were a gift from my friend Kidron. Having a flower in my room was a unique travel experience. It isn’t too often that I sleep in a bunk bed, but at least when I do I typically get the bottom bunk!

Volcán Poás, Costa Rica – in the rain

On November 19, during the raining season, but on a day that was beautiful in San Jose, Costa Rica, a couple of brothers, another guy at the hostel, and I set out to see Volcán Poás, in Poás Volcano National Park, in Costa Rica. It wasn’t necessary to take a tour as there is a $7 quite comfortable (clean and in great shape) public bus that takes you there from downtown San Jose, gives you a few hours as it waits for you there, and then returns you to San Jose on the very same bus. Unfortunately, we forgot to realize that when you travel to the top of a volcano, you ascend into the clouds – and rain. The bus driver didn’t mention this to us, but of course we didn’t ask. Then at the entrance to the Poás Volcano National Park, we all willingly got out of the bus and paid our $10 […]

Heavenly sounding Panama marina

As I get ready to head to Panama I am hoping to see boats again, to get out on the water in a kayak or canoe, to snorkel — and hopefully to finally sail. If I am very lucky, I will soon be seeing this hurricane-free Caribbean marina at Bocas Del Toro, which sounds so fantastic to me. The Marina at Red Frog Beach (part of Island Global Yachting) at Isla Bastimentos in Panama. Per the website, it “offers unparalleled access to beautiful sandy beaches, resort amenities which includes 2 new restaurants, a large island activity lounge, small general store and boat service to Bocas del Toro town.” The site goes on to say: “…you can spend time exploring the pristine beaches of Bocas del Toro and the towering rainforest preserve at Red Frog. The islands in Bocas del Toro in Panama offer everything you need to relax. The 250 […]

MagicJack provides US phone while traveling abroad

I have been enjoying calling the US for business and to speak with friends once in a while via Vonage Mobile app, but that communication was one-way unless the other person had the app too, and had my registered phone number in his address book. Now people can call me again right from their own phones — because I finally got around to setting up MagicJack. Funny thing… To test my MagicJack phone (on my iPhone) I dialed my mom’s home number. I have been calling here for months via Vonage so I dialed just like I am used to: 001 (the US country code) and then her area code and phone number. But the call did not go through. I only got a message that I had reached the MagicJack test center and my call was successful. And then I learned — with MagicJack I am not calling from […]

Hostel recommendation in San Salvador, El Salvador

When I first arrived in San Salvador I stayed at a perfectly nice hostel that was recommended by Lonely Planet. It was nice and breakfast was free, but there was no kitchen, it was low season so it was pretty empty, and I didn’t feel connected to the staff. My local friend had heard a CouchSurfer had liked a hostel — Cumbres del Volcan — and as we found ourselves nearby, we checked it out. I am so glad we did! I loved staying at Cumbres del Volcan! There is no question that this is THE hostel for just about everyone to stay at. Regardless of your age, you will like this home-turned-hostel. Here are a few reasons why I like the location: It is in a terrific, upscale neighborhood — Escalon. There are low-cost Pupuserias right down the block. It is just a short block below the Plaza Futura, […]

Veteran’s Day Free Inns & B&Bs for vets

B&B are a great way to travel and this is a nice thank you to our troops. The 4th Annual B&Bs for Vets program. (The info and quote I am sharing here is from a press release I received.) Inns and B&Bs throughout the U.S. and Canada will honor men and women who’ve served in the armed forces by offering thousands of veterans and their guest (family?) complimentary stays on n Veteran’s Day — November 11, 2021. The complete list of participating inns and B&Bs in the USA: The list of participating inns in Canada is at: In addition, Salute our Heroes special offers for veterans and those serving in the military are also found on Many of the participating inns and B&Bs are donating all their guest rooms for free stays for veterans on November 12, 2012. Others are offering special military discounts throughout the weekend. […]

Granola in Costa Rica

When able to shop and have a clean bowl and spoon, I have been buying Granola for breakfast. At times that granola has been lunch or dinner instead or as well. This is today’s breakfast granola. I selected this brand — alin: Alimentos Naturales — because it is made in Costa Rica. The 250 gram (8.8 ounce) bag sells for 710 colones ($1.42). One of the fruits and something else (a nut?) in it are hard and a bit of a shock to the teeth, but it is a good mix anyway. I bought this same one once last week and it was a great late night smack eaten out of the bag slowly. This is the first time in all of my Central America travels that I have purchased milk in a “regular,” not the new box style container. This Costa Rican-made Coronado brand 1 liter milk was 505 […]

US – Panama fair trade agreement has begun

As of Wednesday, October 31 United States and Panama are in an active fair trade agreement, a year after President Obama signed this historic bill (which had its start in the 2007 Bush administration). As Panama is home to the Panama Canal, the US has long been working with Panama. Exactly what benefits to each country will be remains to be seen. (There are many theories, projections of benefits, and worries on the US side.) The US gov’t website says, “The U.S.–Panama trade agreement will support American jobs, expand markets and enhance U.S. competitiveness.” it also says,”Now more than ever, America’s ability to create jobs here at home depends on our ability to export goods and services to the world….” I will be entering Panama as this agreement is new so I wonder whether I will hear of it from Panamanians and in shops. What I do know already from […]