A Year of Living Dangerously

Getting ready for dinner in the jungle. Even here safety is all relative. Can we safely jump from the boat into the waves to get here? Am I going to step on a scorpion at night? Will I fall over the railing after too many Coronas?

What and where is safe?

Much of our lives these days is spent trying to figure out the balance between safety and having a life.  How does one get safe — from COVID, from crime, from storms, from financial disaster, from…?  I’m writing this from the safest place on earth we can get to – our palapa in the Mexican jungle which is off the grid, off the road, and generally “off civilization” — yet, even here safety is a question as I don’t walk barefoot at night for fear of stepping on a scorpion: ) Is there no respite?

No, I don’t think so.

2020 will certainly go down as the year we all tried to get (stay) safe.  The world learned the hard way that a virus can kill hundreds of thousands of people silently and invisibly.  Our home in Los Angeles isn’t even safe as COVD is spiking everyday with record numbers of infections and deaths.  Even LA hospitals are running out of beds!  And this is Los Angeles, not some third rate developing country like…Mexico.

Mexico is no day at the beach relative to COVID either.  While the official data show Mexico is ranked #13 in the world both in total infections and infections/M pop, can you really trust a corrupt government to tell the truth about this?  Nope, I don’t think so.  Yet, I feel much safer here than anywhere else.  Check that — I feel safest on my motorcycle, but this is a close second.

And what about another kind of safety — from crime or other sources of violence.  2020 will go also go down as the year video cameras provide proof that some police are killing people needlessly.  George Floyd sparked the kinds of street protests and riots that I haven’t seen since 1968.  Karen and I stood outside our loft in  downtown LA and listened to the protests and helicopters flying above.  Even in our skid-row-adjacent neighborhood in downtown LA, we moved all vehicles behind the fences as looters made a pass down our street.

Last week the x-governor of Jalisco was shot dead next door to my favorite Puerto Vallarta restaurant.  Even his 15 security guards weren’t enough.  Purely by accident of course, the restaurant workers quickly cleaned up the bathroom he was killed in, thus eliminating the remaining 1 percent chance anyone will be caught for this crime.  Most of Mexico is a prosecution-free zone for gangsters.

Karen and I weren’t affected by any of this.  We’re not a young black man, we’re not poor, we don’t deal drugs, we don’t party to two in the morning (oh, those were the days!), and we keep away from places that are questionable.  Mostly.

Millions and millions of people are fearful of not being able to feed their families.  From no fault of their own — they didn’t under perform, they didn’t show up late, they didn’t steal — millions of people are out of a job because of the economic havoc that COVID has brought.   I don’t think of myself as a “socialist lefty liberal,” yet shouldn’t everyone who wants to work be able to work?  Or, be able to survive while looking for work no matter how long that takes?  This is the United States of America, for goodness sake.  What’s the point of being the richest country on earth if we can’t take care of our neediest?

This past fall I rode my motorcycle (unknowingly at the time) through the worst forrest fires the West has ever encountered.  The fear of out-of-control-fires was palatable from people across the eight Western states engulfed.  If you want to see what its like, watch Rebuilding Paradise, a movie about the devastation of Paradise, CA.

Most of us in the clean technology/climate change/environment business are fearful that its too late to turn the tides and prevent the meltdown of our planet.  This despite that most experts estimate that we have 30 years to make the transition to a carbon free economy.  Seems like plenty of time, no?   Its less than a nanosecond relative to what needs to get done.  Fear of climate change isn’t some made up, existential fear of a warming planet.  This isn’t ‘Turn on the air conditioner Sweety as its a bit hot today,” type of warming.  Forget the idea of warming and think about energy because that’s what’s being created by green house gases.  Heat is energy and energy needs to get spent — floods, draughts, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, melting ice, etc.,etc.  The World Bank estimates that 100 million people will be thrown into poverty just by climate change alone.

Our Balancing Act

We’ve tried our best to find a balance between safety and living. Despite the above, 2020 has been a good year for us on a number of fronts.  Like many of you out there, Karen and I have rediscovered that we can actually live together for 24/7!  Even if its a 600 sq. ft closet-sized loft.  We spent five months locked in said loft and the last six here in Puerto Vallarta. While we miss all of you out there, we found that Karen, Fred, Bogart and Squirt can be happy campers no matter where we reside and how small our social circle is.

Without COVD, Karen and I would never have spent this much time in Puerto Vallarta.  Until now, it was a place we went to a couple of times a year in between everything else.  Thats changed totally:  PV is now our home and we’ve enjoyed a style-of-life that is remarkably stress free.   In fact, I feel guilty with how good a life we have.  At least for a minute: )

We try to use our head when living this new style of life.   All work men who come into Corona Adobe must wear masks and stay socially distanced. For five of the months we’ve been here, Corona Adobe has been more construction site than resort, meaning we’ve had carpenters, A/C men, tile layers, window makers, etc.,etc  on a daily basis.  We go to the store at least once a week, hitting La Comer, CostCo, Petco, the bank and the nursery in our normal swing.  We normally eat on our observation deck, but go out to a restaurant/bar once a week (mostly outdoors, but always socially distanced).  Lots of hand washing and surface cleaning at all times.

We didn’t travel nearly as much this year (we’ve averaged 20 trips per year ), yet we still did 10 trips to Paris, Thailand, Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.  We went by plane, RV, motorcycle and boat.  Aside from sitting in the coach section of an airplane, we never felt more at risk while we’ve been on the road.  In November we took a nine day RV trip around central Mexico and discovered a whole new area we’d never really seen before.  It was fun, interesting, and safe.

Remarkably, my company, the Network for Global Innovation, is up about 60% in revenues this year and we have projects in California, Australia, India, South Africa, Ukraine, Morocco and Thailand.  Why?  I think the act of staying connected to what’s happening around the world is a counterbalance to the isolation we’re all living through.  Our members and partners are much more active.  And, Zoom has made us much more efficient as we deliver all of our services virtually now.  All in all, NGIN has nothing to complain about.  Except, I miss seeing what’s going on in the world firsthand: )

Finally, while we’ve had our health challenges this year, they didn’t include any COVID issues and nothing serious.  We are very very very blessed on the health front.

I am actually pretty optimistic on what 2021 will be like.   I see the light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train, but the sun.  Please take care and have a terrific holiday and great new year.

Here are some recent pictures.


Home sweet home – Corona Adobe today. Subtle, its not: )

The Dos Diablos on the Malecon. I’m getting into the habit of running along the Malecon three times a week.

Seeing double

OK, maybe its not all work and no play. The only bar we’ve been to is a Cuban place with lots of dance action.

The last dog picture, I promise. Bogart on the top deck

We went to Mexico’s best surf town, Sayulita, on one of our RV trips. Sayulita isn’t on lockdown: )

Thor parked on the street in the El Centro part of Morelia, Mexico.

We stayed in a hotel on Election Night. Spent it in this room on Zoom with friends keeping all body parts crossed: )

RV park in Lake Chapala. This is typical of many RV parks in Mexico which have permanent residents, hence this Tahitian structure as our neighbor.

KR and dogs walk along Lake Chapala

Very tall cactus. Didn’t stop Karen from climbing up and getting a “cutting”. Now planted in our cactus garden

Thor kissed this guy’s car on a very very narrow street in Queretaro, Mexico. We settled up via email. fw

A beach on the other coast of Mexico. Karen and dogs walking on beach north of Veracruz

I made a solo dash up to Los Angeles and back to take care of some admin stuff. I listened to all 32 HOURS of Obama’s book. And it only covered his first term.

Peter, Cindy and I partied at Factory Place. It was very cold for a warm-weather kid like me

Newest member-to-be of the Walti stable of vehicles. I bought this 87 Jeep Grand Wagoneer for Karen as an early XMAS present. Its 9 years older, but 30,000 miles fresher, than the vehicle its to replace, the Iron Duke. Yet unnamed member of the family is in Texas awaiting refurbishment.

3 replies
  1. Bill Barclift says:

    Fred- thanks for the year end post. Great summary for a very strange year! See you and Karen in Vallarta shortly!

  2. Debbie Hundoble says:

    Hi Fred, KR, Squirt and Bogart,
    Thank you for sending this 2020 year end update, it’s was a year we were all challenged ! Great to know you are safe and well at home in Puerto Vallarta. We are staying safe, healthy and close to home with ants in our pants as we wait to get the vaccine. Sure hope and pray that soon, we can start living again with some normalcy. We miss you, sending love from Boise.
    Debbie and Dennis too !

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