KR suited up for battle at Ralphs. I think this was our first excursion to a store. Because we were so young looking, we were shuffled to the front of the line.

Karen and I can’t remember the last time we spent four months together in one place.  Reason — I don’t think we ever have.  For the most recent five years we’ve taken at least 20 trips each and every year.  To almost every continent, by plane, train, ship, motorcycle, RV, car, Tuk-Tuk or any other means available (remember the camels in Egypt and Mongolia?)

It’s been a bit of cold turkey on the travel front.  I tell Karen that we were better together when we were on the road.  Better moods, a chirpiness in her voice, something new every day, meeting strangers that became good, if temporary friends, not having to worry about the mundane things of life and — of course — we’re both addicted to the “What’s around the corner?” disease.

We’ve learn to be “better” together in one place  in a 600 square foot loft in downtown Los Angeles, which we used to refer to fondly as “Factory Place”.   The fondness started to wear off in Month Two.  We were forced, literally, to adapt.  Karen likes to have the TV on all day, which doesn’t really work when I’m on a zoom call six feet away.   Answer:  ear phone plugged into the TV.  I didn’t really have a home office.  Answer:  carve out space in the closet (literally).  I needed a “Zoom Studio,” since I was doing Zoom calls all day, and no one wants to look at a closet as a backdrop (although I’ve seen worse, a lot worse:)  Answer:  Get a bookcase, a rack and some mounted posters to hang in front of the clothes.  Voila: a studio.  Not surprisingly, KR and I are on different biorhythms:  I’m early to bed and early to rise; KR is the opposite.  Answer:  lots of ear plugs and rubber soled shoes.

Corner Office view its not. Instead, its the view of an alley from my Man Closet Office.

NGIN’s business has picked up.  We’re zooming with our members more often (we have 30 members in 14 countries) and we’re getting more calls from cities to help them build out their innovation ecosystems.  All of this is done in front of a Zoom screen, looking out on the alley between Factory Place buildings.  I’m writing more business articles and doing more videos.  I’m starting to watch my social media audience of all things.  These are strange times, indeed.

Evening cocktail sitting in the patio of a closed neighborhood restaurant

A lot of good things happened during our four month stay in our shoebox of an apartment. First, I’ve never eaten better in my life as KR had little else to focus on and we had great meal after great meal.  I shattered my belief that you have to go to the gym to workout.  I started running on our empty streets in place of the treadmill.  Much better. I used the stairs to our second floor as a built in StairMaster. Record: 55 times up 15 steps.  Weights were easy — there are thousands of videos on YouTube to choose from.

We got to know our neighborhood much better as we took Bogart and Squirt for long walks around the Arts District’s warehouses, historic buildings, closed restaurants/bars, and cold storage units.  We barely needed masks as there were few people in a part of the city  that is pretty busy during “normal”  times, but few people actually live here.  We got in the habit of having an eventing cocktail sitting in the patio of one of said closed restaurants.  It was good.

For about two months, and then things …

It rapidly went downhill for KR first.  She’s a passionate, knowledgable, extremely curious gardener.   A couple of pots in front of our door didn’t cut it, no matter how many times I offered to build a garden bench (don’t laugh, I wouldn’t have built it, of course, I would have bought one).   Her day job, that as InnKeeper of our BNB in Puerto Vallarta came to a screeching stop.  Since we weren’t there, it was hard to supervise decorating or repair projects from afar.

Formal dress for a Zoom business meeting

It went downhill for me as well.  We had to cancel our long-planned motorcycle trip to Africa.  We couldn’t even go on shorter trips.  All my races from Formula One to MotoGP were cancelled.  Bars closed.  Restaurants closed.  It got boring wearing shorts and flip flops to work every day.

We needed to do something.  We’d been wanting to get south to PV since early April, but could we get across the border,  could we gas, could we get all the vehicle permits required, is it safe to go anywhere?  We hesitated for about two and a half months.

On June 25th, all four of us climbed into Thor and started the drive south.  We took four days rather than our usual three.  We “camped” in a parking lot in Yuma and on the street in downtown Mazatlan on the way.  Result?   No problems at the border, in fact it was probably the easiest crossing we’ve had. They’d completed a long stretch of the main highway,15D, that has been under repair for the last several years, so the highway was better than ever.  It’s now been a couple of years since they eliminated Pemex’s monopoly, so we could find Shell and Chevon stations all the way down and for once we could use credit cards.  We rolled into PV on a Sunday night, parked the RV in a storage lot outside of town, and by 9PM that night we were having cocktails on the observation deck.

We’ve been in Puerto Vallarta for four weeks now and its a whole new ball game.  As in Wow!

It’s impossible to describe the bliss in going from 600 sq. ft. to 5,400 sf. ft.  For instance, more often than not, I have to yell “Karen, where are you, up or down?” from my office on the third floor.  Each direction offers gardens and all sorts of projects that KR is working on. Simultaneously of course:)

This time at our home is different from all the others.  This isn’t a vacation.  And there are no guests coming, forcing us to migrate to Thor to wait their stay out.   Since we are in middle of three NGIN projects (Riverside, Australia and India),  I couldn’t afford to miss a step during the relocation.  .  Finding reliable, high(er) speed in the El Centro part of Vallarta required getting two 5G lines in the house; one for the first two floors, one specifically to my office on the third.  Since its hot and muggy (87 with 60-ish humidity)in Vallarta, I had to close off and then air condition my office.  Result is that I have a fully functional office for the first time south of the border.   It’s good, very good.

Is it safe in Mexico?  Normally, people ask us this because of the drug cartels.  Now it’s COVID.  Here’s a comparison of relevant data:

Someone once said, “There are three types of lies:  lies, damn lies and statistics!” So, you can make your own conclusions about where its safest.

But the real question is:  “Is it safe anywhere?”  Not any place I can afford.  California is on the verge of a roll back of openness and are some of the other states with significant spikes.  When will this end?  Answer:  we don’t know.

We’re here for the duration.

Here’s what the Lock Down looked like north and south of the border.

 

We were off the coast of Phuket, Thailand right before we flew into the COVID crisis in LA.

Dulling the boredom. KR stocks up on every form of dope before we head south. “Sweet Flower” pot store was pretty sweet and only two blocks from our apartment.

Zoom session on a Sunday with Peter and Cindy.  Corona and tequila shots.  Good times.

Fake News reported the Corona Beer  company was shutting down their plant. 7:00AM next morning I filled the Jag with the best beer with the worst name.

We bought so much stuff at our first Ralphs shopping trip  that we had to put the top down in order to fit it all in: )

Even the Dos Diablos were going stir crazy. A romp around the parking lot had to be a substitute for the beach

 

 

 

 

 

Peter, Cindy, Karen and I dressed for dinner in a pop up burger place in the Arts District

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went on a picnic with Teri, Steve, Jenny, Bogart, and Squirt.

Bogart helps with the drive as we start south. I’m taking a meeting on the phone.  The larger than normal stomach is an optical illusion caused by the seat belt: )

Thor in the parking lot for a stay over in Yuma. Calm on the outside…

while on the inside, KR is looking where we put the dope on the trip south: )

This is KR the next day: ) Bogart is always there in case Karen needs some help.

My office. A lot better than a desk in a closet, overlooking an alley.

Construction begins almost immediately

We put a sign on the door that was pretty effective. Don’t come into the house without a mask or you’ll end up like the guy in the picture: )

Just an everyday dinner on the top deck: ) The large piece of glass leaning on the side is the only one of four to survive a BIG storm. More on that in a minute.

The neighborhood is pretty much the same except there seems to be a lot more young kids. Homework is done most afternoons on the sidewalk across from our house.

This is what a typical summer PV storm looks like as it gathers late afternoon.

This is what it looks like from the bedroom when it gets going. Winds are so strong that roofs are blown off, furniture gets blown to the street below, and the dogs stay under the bed.

Normal, everyday sunset. It never gets boring.

Local artist painted a portrait of the Dos Diablos over the winter

Bill and Maryann kept us company for the first couple of weeks, then deserted us for the North.

The summer is off season in Vallarta as its hot and humid. Yet, that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Notice beach is closed.

Walking the dogs around the neighborhood a slightly different experience now.

All things considered, we’re happy campers.  We’ll be here for a while.

fw

4 replies
  1. Debbie Hundoble says:

    Hola Amigos,
    I love reading about your life stories ! Miss you both, stay well😘

  2. Monika Wescott says:

    Hello Fred and Karen: It’s great to be able to catch up with you two! Now you know what it’s like to live in The Turtle V for two years! It sounds like you made your adjustments well. Loved the pictures from Casa Corona in PV. Very fond memories from my birthday celebration in 2018 and the moody weather reminded me of the upcoming hurricane at the time. What is the remodeling project all about? I guess we’ll read it in your next ramblings. Stay safe and healthy, Monika and Gary too

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