Armchair Traveling with Books

Lucinda Page Knox

In various book group posts, I’ve read numerous requests for recommendations for “beach reads for summer.” There are always the recommendations for authors like Elin Hilderbrand, who sets many of her books in Nantucket. Ditto Nancy Thayer and others who use similar locations. However, why limit the settings of summer reading to the beach? Why not travel via books to an Italian fishing village/resort, a flower garden in Germany, a cottage in the Welsh countryside – or even to a besieged castle?

THE ENCHANTED APRIL by Elizabeth von Armin (born Mary Annette Beauchamp) is a wonderful escape to a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean” for the month of April. Mrs. Wilkins, who finds a newspaper ad for the castle in her London woman’s club on a dreary February  (More…)

Underwater Photography

Donna McGrew

I started diving in 1994 when I taught school on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands where I earned PADI Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver.  I returned to Florida for a year and did a little diving here on the east coast.  In 1996 I returned to the Pacific to teach on Saipan for two years in the Northern Marianas Islands.  While there, I earned my PADI Dive Master and Open Water Instructor.

But the photography bug did not bite until I returned to Florida once again.  I started with film in a Sea&Sea point and shoot camera.  Today, I shoot with a Panasonic EM5 with two Sea&Sea strobes for lighting.

Over the years, I have had a chance to travel and dive throughout much of the Caribbean including Cuba and Belize.  This included  (More…)

Why I Bought Shampoo for My Shrink’s Wife

Robert Strozier

Intro: Pyschotherapy takes many odd twists and turns, but even by those standards the author’s relationship with his therapist in India was—well—a bit wacky.

By shamelessly pulling a lot of strings in 1966, at age 26, I landed a trainee management job with a large philanthropic organization in New Delhi, India, for which I was totally unqualified. To add to my guilt, the job came with a house and four servants: a cook-bearer, a gardener, a sweeper, and a night watchman, who’d sit outside the front door all night guarding my precious, fraudulent being.

I was in over my head big time, not only at work but home as well. My elderly cook-bearer, Chand, usually out-maneuvered me in battles for control, once pointing out—with a wide grin—that I looked like one of the Beach Boys on an album cover. The message was clear: I was a Boy, not a real Sahib.  (More…)

Life and Death in Peru

Junia Acaya

Map of PeruToday is the big day at Emilio’s and Lucrecia’s hacienda, a cotton farm in the coastal desert strip of Peru, five hours by car south of Lima. Soon, my Peruvian in-laws will get ready to butcher a goat and a lamb to honor our annual arrival from the U.S. We’ll have a feast.

It is Christmas 1976, and the summer heat in the sun is extreme. The white concrete dwelling, at the heart of the estate, is open and welcoming in the shade of a royal poinciana tree—the blazing splendor of its blossoms showers the ground like a crimson carpet. Cumbias, waltzes, huaynos, and boleros blast from a radio wrapped in plastic to protect it from the mortifying sandy breezes.

Lush masses of purple bougainvilleas drape the adjacent patio where my husband, children, and I are cooling off after the morning Cessna flight over the nearby Nazca Lines—the mysterious desert geoglyphs, two thousand years old, seen only from the air. Surrounded by our solicitous native relatives, among them my quiet mother-in-law, Señora Baldomera, we sip maracuyá juice, passion fruit nectar, chatting in the oasis of a peach orchard.  (More…)

Acapulco, Mexican Journal 1973

Brenda Tipps

A house in the jungleIn Acapulco everything slopes downwards to the sea. The mountains are green and lush. Houses are built into the sides of hills and on the tops of hills.  We are here at the house of I do not know who, a man who plays some prominent role in the world of bull fighting. There is a group of men (boots, hats, gleaming teeth, all geniality), and Kelly and me. They might be ranchers, toreros, impresarios, or just friends, aficionados. I do not know, or, to be truthful, care.

The hospitality is impeccable, the dinner interminable and when the table has been cleared and the silent serving women have disappeared somewhere in the back of the house, the men are still seated, settling themselves to talk. Cigars are being lit and bottles opened. The mood is becoming more jovial, expansive. They’re launching into an evening of reminiscences, gossip and jokes and I sigh, despondent at the prospect of the long evening ahead.  Though studiously polite, these men barely recognize my existence, I am simply not relevant, and I’m self-conscious, dismayed also at the struggle to keep up with the Spanish, the sheer exhaustion of trying to seem engaged. This, in the 70’s, seemed a requirement, I thought.  Why am I here, I ask, not for the first time.  (More…)

Building a House in Japan

Neil Cosentino

Seven samuraiI have always admired Japanese culture. For example, I have always admired award-winning Japanese movies like Rashomon or Seven Samurai. My enjoyment of these movies goes way back before my pilot training, and I joke that when you go to one of these movies, bring an umbrella. Why? Because in addition to the interesting costumes and the realism, only in Japanese movies does rainfall seem so real that you feel like you need an umbrella.

It was a welcome surprise then that my first assignment as a fighter pilot out of my Replacement Training Unit was to Misawa Air Base. Flying the F-4 Phantom in Japan and deploying and flying in Korea was a super assignment, with great flying missions and many interesting episodes. There are many other stories I am compiling into a book, like my temporary assignment to Fuchu where I watched the first moon landing sitting on tatami mats in our off-base Japanese apartment.  (More…)

Mexico – Saltillo, 1972

Brenda Tipps

Early morning. I am in bed remembering that movie scene – –  you’ve seen it – – in which the wife flings a suitcase onto the bed, grabs armfuls of clothes still on their hangers, pulls open drawers, stuffs everything willy-nilly into the suitcase, slams the lid shut and departs in fury. She’s had enough.

In my mind I play my own version of this scene, in which I am the fleeing woman, here, now, in this shabby hotel in Saltillo. I could. I could tiptoe across the wooden floor, remembering the closet door that squeaks, and make my getaway while I still can, before my husband wakes up and persuades me that we’re on our way to Mexico City, where things will be so much better. I long to get away from the oppression of narrow streets, heat, and the unrelieved atmosphere of the bulls.

The final straw has been our stay at a cattle ranch far out in the country, an experience disconcerting enough never to want to repeat. So I think: I could leave. Where to? I don’t know yet.  (More…)

Luck, Skill, Fate and Attitude

We’ve recently received two posts that explored the question : “Which is more important?  The way you deal with Life or the way Life deals with you?”  Neither writer was aware of the other’s work.  Rather than publish them in separate issues of OLLI Connects, we decided to run both of them at once.  Enjoy!

Do you consider yourself an (un)lucky person? Are you a poker player? I used to be but decided that with my luck I may as well stay home. Oh, how about skill? Doesn’t poker require some skill like being able to count and remember the cards that have been played.  Sure it does!  But it didn’t matter in my case; I always lost—was unlucky, you might say. I suppose another way of putting this is to say that my “fate” was always—to lose (at poker).  Neither luck nor skill mattered.

So how do you think about luck, skill, and fate in life? Are you a “what will be will be” person? Or do you believe that through skill and some luck, the future is yours to determine? I hope your answer is  (More…)

A Lesser Known Italy

Catherine Mitchell

There is so much more to Italy than Rome, Florence and Venice. Don’t get me wrong; I love those cities. In fact, Florence is my VERY favorite city – and I’ve traveled to over 100 countries and can’t even begin to count the number of cities.

My most recent trip took me to another Italy – one of fewer world-renowned artistic treasures and more eye-popping landscapes – to new foods and even another language.

The map shows the area traveled.

The first city, Fano, is more central than northern Italy, but it was my first stop. While I went to visit family, there is much to be said for this city on the Adriatic coast. It boasts beautiful white sand beaches, and the historic center is a walled city, with much of the wall and a city gate still standing.  The ancient Roman via Flaminia ended here. Sections of it are still visible. Fano is also home to the oldest Carnevale (Mardi Gras) parade in Italy. And it’s a perfect walking city.  (More…)

Chautauqua 2019

Linda Schatz

It’s 1874.  I’m a Methodist Sunday School teacher. I travel by steamship on the calm waters of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York and arrive at a small shoreline settlement for a vacation learning experience. I’ll hear speakers on the Bible, teaching methods, science, and social issues. The roads rise gently from the lake and are only wide enough for one horse and carriage.

Wait—it’s 2019, and I’m one of several thousand knowledge and culture seekers arriving by car at Chautauqua Institution. With six of my women friends, it will be a vacation week of thought-provoking lectures, excellent dance, music, vocal and theater performances, and animated political and philosophical discussions.  Oh, and a tap dancing lesson to bring back my fun days of hopping to a beat and flexing my ankles.  (More…)