What we are learning from the Coronavirus pandemic

As I recall since I was born, we’ve never lived in a time like today.

It reminds me of stories my father and grandmother used to tell me about living in times of the Great Depression and in times of scarcity. I remember my father telling me that he could never look at a potato, since during some tough times in his youth, their family had eaten a potato in all the ways it could be made (baked, fried or whatever way it could be prepared). Those were times that I couldn’t imagine, having grown up for most of my life in a very prosperous USA.

Moreover, if I recall correctly, most of the research that I did about the 40-year period during the Great Immigration led to immigrants who were practically starving in the old world (Europe) who had little chance of surviving after two world wars and had a better chance of survival in the new world (America).

On the personal level, as a family, we’re now living in Mexico and although this has been a challenging year thus far, I’m thankful for the lessons we’re learning, which are:

  • How to live on a super low budget
  • Surviving social distancing (but we miss our communities here)
  • How to wash our hands properly and more often than ever
  • Working remotely (this is something that I’m well versed in, having worked online / independently for over 20 years)
  • How to get along as a family, since it often feels like a prison being inside all together for so long in closed quarters.
  • Most of all, it’s teaching us to think outside the box, to come up with solutions and measures we normally wouldn’t think of, and I think that’s a good thing!

And many more lessons! These things make or break us, and I do feel like it’s breaking a lot of couples apart, as they’re forced to cohabit more than usual. In fact, in one of my legal protection businesses, I’m seeing a sharp rise in requests for family law and divorce attorneys, so we can only assume that the fact that these couples are at home more could have something to do with this increase in demand.

All in all, my family and I are doing okay. We’ve been through tough times (financial uncertainty, health challenges coups, and sociopolitical issues) before and have learned to work together as a team.

I’ve learned in my life that there are worse things to deal with than uncertainty. I’ve got my family, great friends, and online businesses, so if worst comes to worst, I’ve got options and I hope you do too.

Finally, I’m wishing you the best during these challenging times!

A take on what we're learning from the coronavirus pandemic.

Just published my new book!

Kimberlee Thorne-Harper launches her first book called “The Supply: A Memoir”. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085FS1GHW/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Kimberlee+Thorne-Harper&qid=1583420209&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Within the contents of this memoir, you will find a unique narration of a young woman who was never afraid to follow her heart and take the path less traveled. Perhaps one of the reasons it may have happened to her was to later share that story. Moreover, if this sounds like a potential “based on a true story / over the top Hollywood version” of a foreign tale, with its twisted sprinklings of far-fetched and outlandish details, it probably has all the makings of one. But as the saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction”, and such is the case here. For as much as we all love a good story, one spiritual leader in her life truly expressed it in full clarity, “You can’t make these things up” and this tale was neither made for entertainment nor fame, as the author has no desire for either of those.

Furthermore, in the time that it takes to write out a tale such as this, many more victims have entered into and endured severe abuse carried out by sociopathic narcissists in their own families and intimate relationships, domestic violence, family estrangement and torture, many not surviving to tell the tale, as she has. It is a fact that there are many out there who continue to suffer suffering and their story may never be told, and if even if it were, few would believe them. She is one voice that could represent many who cannot speak for themselves.

May you find encouragement, hope, and healing in this story.

Why being a single mom in North America sucks & traveling full-time, part-time or sometime doesn’t

My sons boarding the flight from Cancun, Mexico to Havana, Cuba (March 2019)

I’m a single mom and today I’m desperately needing a break, someone to calm me down and contain me, and some real respite care. Don’t get me wrong. I love my children, but I need some alone time, like nobody’s business, and it’s gotten to the point of no return.  Help!

Turns out I’m not alone. I’m among millions of single moms dealing with these same types of scenarios on a daily basis. In my case, I had no family left to count on, but I wasn’t about to fold either… I knew there had to be another way!

For the multitude of single moms in North America, childcare is simply unfeasible due to its high costs. Unless you’ve inherited a motherload of money or have been blessed with a money tree (anyone know where those grow?) , in most cases you’re most likely going to scrape to get by or take on a job in exchange for your kids being  neglected. I know this scenario, since I know the costs of living in North America. Where does the money go? For me, it  had gone down the drain to mostly medical care, prescriptions , utility bills and the high costs of feeding, dressing and taxiing my kids to all their respective activities.

Truth is It doesn’t take more than a less prosperous year in the US or Canada, with a few setbacks and difficulties along the way, added to the fact that in my case  I have 2 special needs kids who need me and who have nobody else to turn to. There no way that I’m able to leave them alone to go and get a “real job” outside the home. I’m also not going to resort to accepting welfare either. I can work and make a living, given the right circumstances.

As one fellow mom Amoya recorded in a video that for me was life-changing, she recounted how she was paying a mortgage of $1,900 a month in her hometown of Austin, Texas. She went on a trip with her daughters, one that would drastically change her life forever. Her eyes were opened to the possibility that she could dramatically reduce her family’s cost of living and instead of her money going towards her mortgage, she could travel around the world for almost half that cost, spending money on airline tickets and affordable rent, be at home with her babies, in a foreign location, and not miss out on anything in her daughters’ lives. She  decided the best alternative for her was to get rid of her home base, be done with the mortgage and all costs related to the US and set out on a world adventure. The rest is history!

Another fellow traveler mom has also been a complete inspiration to me. Christie, after escaping an abusive marriage for many years, found she couldn’t make ends meet on just her income with no help from the children’s father. She set off traveling with her youngest two children and a new baby in 2011. She recently asked her then 17-year-old what he was looking forward to while planning for their upcoming destination. He said that it was the time sitting on the bed with mom that he was looking forward to. What a priceless treasure we can give our kids! It’s been seven years now as a full-time traveler. After all, Christie is just at home abroad as she is in her native Canada.

Last year, I was greatly blessed to be able to connect with a dynamic group of single moms around the world who either travel full-time, part-time or sometime, living and traveling abroad with their kids. Something clicked inside me and this lifestyle made complete sense to me. After all, I built a business from scratch that turned into a thriving one in Argentina, and by that country’s standards, we went from rags to riches within  a few years. Did I tell you this happened even during one of the worst country crises?

I was no stranger to using my resources the first time I ventured abroad. I had to make things work and bring home the bacon, because I had no choice.

This year, my kids and I have traveled extensively, but I’m not telling you this to make you see how wonderful we are. I’m telling you this, so you can know it is possible to create this lifestyle.

This is why I’m SO EXCITED to share with you my latest project, Expat Mama. This is a podcast and coaching program that shares stories of individuals who have left their native countries to live and travel abroad. The stories are inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking, but nonetheless amazing.

Please allow me to share with you my first Expat Mama podcast with my friend Christie Ogden, currently living in the Dominican Republic.



The People I’ve Met While Traveling Full-Time

Oh my! Where do I begin? My two boys and I  recently started a full-time traveling lifestyle at the end of August 2018. Our first stop was Mexico City for 2.5 days. I’d been wanting to meet my friend Adriana who’s worked with me in the translation industry now for several years. At the time we began working together, she was living in Carolina, Puerto Rico and I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then she moved to Mexico City to be closer to her family and I later relocated to Utah in the US.

I’d been talking with Adriana and her husband about visiting them in Mexico for years, but this time it was happening. We booked our Airbnb rental just 3 blocks away from them in the safe but bustling neighborhood of San Alvaro. I’ll never forget our warm welcome as we experienced a rare, but very severe downpour of heavy rain mixed with hail, on our way from the international airport to our Airbnb apartment. It was so bad that we couldn’t see anything in front of us and who knows how we got there!

Anyway, we were kindly received by our Airbnb host’s mother who gave us the key and as soon as the rain subsided, Adriana and her daughter were at our place to give us an even warmer welcome. Upon meeting, she gave us a big bear hug and it was as if many years of yearning to meet had been fulfilled in that one embrace. Then she invited us to walk with them around their neighborhood. We ended up having dinner at a nice little mall and we had our first taste of authentic Mexican food. Believe you me, it’s not the same as the Tex-Mex we were used to in the states! Our palates weren’t quite used to them and we had no idea of what to order…

Adriana turned out to be an extremely gracious hostess and we got to meet her sister Aracely and her husband, having been treated to one of the most delicious homemade dinners with wonderful conversation in both English and Spanish. Turns out that her sister was also a translator and we learned much about the culture by spending quality time with all of them.

After just 2.5 days in Mexico City, we had to take a domestic flight to Bacalar, a small town with a beautiful lagoon of 7 colors, just 30 minutes north of the Mexican-Belize border.  There we were committed to taking care of 5 dogs on a pet sit we booked through HouseSitMexico, for the month of September. Upon arrival in the Chetumal airport, we were greeted by Anne, a Canadian lady who’d just lost her husband to Alzheimer’s 5 months prior and who was going back home to her native Canada to visit family and friends for one month.

While visiting the town, we met the educated and cultured neighbor in front whose name was Ofelia. She was highly respected in the area and she was a teacher and anthropologist with several degrees, who spoke at least 3 languages that I knew of (Spanish, English & French), but perhaps more if I wasn’t mistaken. Whenever I would be privileged to receive a visit from Ofelia, she would always sit on the floor and caress those dogs with a love that only a natural healer with a spirit of light could do. After her visit, those energetic dogs would always fall asleep as if they’d been given a natural sedative. I loved to talk to her, as she’d tell me about her travels to Europe and the US with her French and American husbands, the Mayan culture, local tourism (she recommended the most wonderful boat tour in the Bacalar lagoon) and she owned a local hotel. I could listen to her for hours on end and not be the least bit bored…

After a month in Bacalar, we moved onto Playa del Carmen, a large touristic city about 3.5 hours by bus. The highlight of our 3 weeks in “Playa” was every Sunday when we’d attend a small Christian church that had been recommended to me by a Facebook friend who’d lived there and had known the local pastors who were originally from Bend, Oregon (Holly & Steve). They’ve made “Playa” their home for the last few years, and have built up a small, but very solid nondenominational congregation with the most beautiful sounding worship team that could rival any larger congregation. We were able to fellowship with them and also meet Joel, the awesome Spanish interpreter (the services were bilingual in English and Spanish), who had come from Santa Maria, California with his wife and baby boy. There we met several mixed culture families from the states and LouLou who lived south of “Playa” in a nice resort just north of Tulum. She was a healer of sorts, with a deep knowledge of massage therapy, as well as other medical techniques and was certified in many different areas related to healing. I hope to be in touch with all these beautiful people for years to come…

Moving onto our current city in Mexico, named Merida, it is a large city located at the top of the Yucatan Peninsula. I moved here after meeting another single mom through a traveling mom group that had a mentorship program. After meeting Barby online who was another single mom with 2 boys like I had, I just knew I had to connect with her in person. Something told me that she and I would become great friends. The few conversations we’d had online indicated to me that Merida just had to be our next stop.

After taking the bus from “Playa” to Merida, I was highly pleased, yet surprised to learn that Barby was in the area where our bus was stopping and she offered to come pick us up. We had a hard time figuring out where to meet, but once we did, we recognized each others’ faces when we saw each other. She parked her car and came running to me, embracing me until I saw her tears freely flowing down her face and it was like we’d known each other our whole lives. She didn’t want to let me go. But she’d parked in the taxi zone, so the local drivers were in a hurry to scurry us out of there and promptly piled our luggage into the trunk so we could make room for them to keep moving their vehicles quickly through.

She took us to our Airbnb house we’d reserved and helped us get settled, making sure that everything looked fine. The conversation was upbeat and I was so grateful to have someone waiting for us upon arrival. That truly made a difference for us. It’s one thing to travel to a foreign country, but it’s quite another to have people waiting for you with open arms on the other side! For us, it meant everything.

I’ve been in Merida for about 10 days now and Barby has fast become not just a dear friend, but more like a sister. But wait, there’s more! She also had a friend named Jenita, an Afroamerican friend with a contagious smile and hearty laugh. She’d brought her 3 boys that are close to my son Dylan’s age with her. They didn’t live too far from us and Barby, together with her sister and another friend, had planned this all awesome all-day Day of the Dead celebration at Jenita’s house, where they would cook “pib” a special dish that was made just once a year for this event. We arrived there just before noon and realized that these 3 women had been slaving away since 6 a.m. and the night before, to cook for a group of international women who were traveling with their kids. Wow!

And then there’s Ashley. I’d met her a few days earlier while participating in other Day of the Dead events in the city center. She was a beautiful young 20-something mom who was traveling with her toddler son Aiden, recently arrived from San Diego, California. She was wise beyond her years, offering deep knowledge and insight on health and spiritual practices. However, after spending a full day with her, I learned that she was much more than meets the eye and I could listen to her wisdom for hours. And we did get the chance to meet her roommate and friend Jason, another American veteran who was traveling with his eight-year-old daughter Selene. The conversations were pleasant, natural and very humorous, as we shared overly embarrassing stories of our lives at Jenita’s house.

While the boys played together on the computers and TV, we shared great food and endless conversation. Also present at that gathering was Tania, a Brit from England who currently lived in Rhode Island with her family who had immigrated from England and who was considering selling the family estate to move to Merida. I was her biggest proponent to encourage her to join us. After all, we were becoming a small tribe of similar kindred spirits, single moms traveling with their kids, in an effort to give them a better life than we could in our own countries.

Jenita, Barby and I have become fast besties in the short time we’ve spent together in Merida. I feel blessed to know them, would do anything for them, as they’ve enriched mine and my family’s lives by being present in it. We are creating memories that will last a lifetime, in Mexico and possibly other countries will be added to that list, as we add other new friends.

I must not forget Amoya, another single mom who I haven’t yet met face-to-face, but one who’s truly inspired me. She had just gone through a terribly painful divorce. Living in Austin, Texas at the time, she and her 3 daughters took a short trip to somewhere in the US and realized that if she played her cards right, she could life full-time as a traveler and give her girls a much higher quality of life outside the US. So she made the bold move and sold her house and all her possessions to become a full-time traveler. They started out in Puerto Rico, then moved to Playa del Carmen and Guanajuato, Mexico. Then they found a cheap flight from Rhode Island in the US to Ireland, then Italy and have ended up falling in love with Tirana, Albania where they’ve just signed a lease to stay there for a year. While there, they’ll travel as much as they can. She’s lucky to have a privileged passport where Americans can live up to one year in the beautiful country of Albania, without having to pay for an extra visa to do so and the cost of living is very low, especially considering that it’s still Europe. Win, win! Anyway, Amoya has been teaching a lot of us single moms how to do what she’s done for over 1.5 years now and how it’s really about mindset and overcoming fears. She taught me that traveling isn’t about money: it’s about cutting through fears and that’s what I’m trying to do. She’s one of my she-roes!

Last but not least, I have to talk about my friend Sheri back in the states. As the good grace of God and the universe shined upon us, I met her right before I was leaving the US to go to Mexico. We instantly hit it off after lunch at Chili’s and I felt like she’d be the ideal person to leave my house in charge of. After all, it was on sale, got put under contract shortly thereafter, but until the house sold, it was being used as an Airbnb rental. I needed someone I could trust to do the cleaning and yardwork. She was the perfect one to make the Victorian dollhouse in Logan, Utah look like a masterpiece! But we’ve also become more like sisters along the way, sharing intimate details of our lives that has made such a difference in having someone like her in my life. I’m thrilled to learn that she wants to come visit us in Merida next month. I couldn’t be happier and I’m starting to plan all the fun we’re going to have!

Finally, I know that as my list of friends grows in our travels, this article will need updating in the future. But this girl who’s just an average single mom from the states, has chosen to live not such a common or average life, and certainly the people who I’m surrounded by aren’t common. I’m a blessed soul to meet these special individuals and they will forever leave a sacred print on my life… I’m so grateful!

My New Life of Freedom & How I Make It Happen

freedom woman

I am declaring independence on my life! Yes, you heard it right. My children and I have decided to ditch traditional life and travel the world! Currently in Merida, Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration (Dia de los Muertos), the timing couldn’t have been better for an atypical North American girl like me to tell the world that there were better things to live for than just work to pay bills.

We as a family have lived abroad, Argentina being our first country where I personally lived for 16 years while married to my boys’ father. We are an Anglo-Argentine family who feels just as comfortable in Latin America as in the US. Now in our third month in Mexico, traveling throughout the Yucatan, it feels like home here in Merida.

How do we do it? Well, we’re pretty loyal to Airbnb, and that’s how we live while traveling, most of the time. It’s our home away from home, especially now that we are selling our home back in the US, to become nomadic without a base. Crazy, huh? Surprisingly, there are many of us doing the same thing. I never imagined I’d be living like this, but here we are.

Another thing we do is house and pet sitting. This is an unpaid gig where you commit to take care of someone’s house and/or pets, in exchange for a free place to live. So far, we’ve done 4 sits and have loved it each time. My boys love pet sits; my little guy will roll around on the floor for hours with the dogs and love on them until the cows come home! If you’re interested in finding out more about house/pet sits, I’m happy to offer you a 20% discount on Trusted Housesitters where we’ve booked most of our sits.

Now that you know how we live, wouldn’t you love to find out how I also make money?

Well, I’ve established all my money-making sources online. I’m a linguist by profession and I started my company Small World Language Services way back in 1996, so I’ve been doing this a long time. What do I do? Our service offerings include Translation, Interpreting, Editing, Proofreading and teaching languages like English and Spanish, just to name a few. We specialize in Latin American languages, as everything started in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here’s one of our online profiles on proz.com

When I returned to the US, I found another awesome business that helps so many people in North America (US and Canada) find more affordable legal services. The average attorney in the US charges $301 an hour, and truth be told, most people in America simply cannot pay that, which pretty much locks the average person out of getting good legal protection. People are needing good legal representation for things like divorces (my uncontested divorce only cost me and my wasbund about $350!), custody issues, overbilling, adoptions (uncontested adoptions are free through us), traffic court (my attorney came at no charge!), bullying and just when things aren’t right, along with the every growing problem of Identity Theft. That’s why there’s LegalShield that’s changing the North American legal system and protecting individuals, families, small and large businesses and organizations like city and police departments. Finally, as a single mom, there’s no way I’d be without this protection that anyone in North American can afford, with plans starting at as low as $9.95 per month… I love it!

Moreover, since we were already traveling, it only made sense for us to get as many travel discounts as possible, so I became a travel agent. It only makes sense to do that, and I’m happy to pass the savings onto you. I’m a Mexico expert on Xcaret properties, so if you’re interested in traveling to the Maya Riviera, let me help you plan the best vacation possible and help you see the best of the Yucatan Peninsula!

But what are my true passions? That’s easy! Family, traveling, writing and teaching you how to do the same!

We’ve recently started this new full-time traveling lifestyle, and we loving sharing it with peeps like you. You can follow us on Facebook or on Instagram at “Beyond the Wall – a family crossing borders”.  Finally, I’ll be starting my coaching program on how a single mom travels full-time with her kids. If you’re interested in learning about this, please let me know by leaving a comment below. As soon as our 101 / Freshman course starts, I’ll be happy to contact you. It’ll be affordable and I have payment plans set up as well, so no worries there!

Please come on and interact with us. We’d love to know how we can help you, become friends and interact!

Why I (mostly) love Airbnb and think you will too!

Airbnb_Belong anywhere

I’m a frequent Airbnb guest. When I first started using the service, it was because one of the companies I had affiliated with raved about the service. I was fascinated with the idea that with a simple app on my phone or on my computer, I could just do a search and find a place most anywhere in the world I wanted to go, put in my musts in the amenities list and my maximum budget and voila, I’d find a place I could stay in that feels a lot more like a home than a hotel!

After all, I could cook there just like at home, and essentially feel like I could set up my own place that felt comfy, almost like mine. Seriously, how cool is that?

My first Airbnb stay was with  my husband in a woman’s house that had offered an extra bedroom in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the US. The lady made us homemade chocolate chip cookies and although the bed wasn’t as big or as comfortable as we needed (we’re  Amazon-size types!) , it was a nice and warm welcome to what Airbnb could do, and I enjoyed the conversation with the female owner. Then the next day our small company team would join us in a bigger house in the same town, one with sleeping accommodations for up to 8 or 9 people. It was fun to bond with our team and share our company convention in such a beautiful home. I was hooked on the concept and it was so easy to book !

I re-contacted the Airbnb hosts for more info. How did they do this? My husband and I were both on our second marriages and had two homes. Why don’t give it a shot and see if we  make our home into an Airbnb too?

We created the listing and posted it on the Airbnb site. Within 24 hours, we had our first booking! It was amazing and I was excited, but nervous for our first guest to come in. Airbnb is most definitely a hospitality business, so we decided to go the extra mile and create a welcome “Sample of Cache Valley, Utah” gathering of local products from the cheese factory (Gossner Foods), Pepperidge Farm and the local honey store. Our guests loved the extra touches, were very appreciative and we started getting rave reviews and became Superhosts!

Our first summer was so successful and in July, our occupancy rate was 96%! I was in and it was fun!  I just had to tell the whole world!

Now, what’s the reason I say I mostly like Airbnb? In full disclosure, it’s because it’s not perfect either. A few guests said our house wasn’t big enough for their 5 guests, when we knew for a fact that it was big enough for 8 or 9! Guests don’t always tell the truth and it affected our ratings, but not enough to lose the status of Superhost.

Moreover, it was a very hands-on venture and  since at the time we wanted to pocket all the profits ourselves, we did all the cleaning ourselves. Well, truth be told, I’m not a professional cleaner and am super busy running other businesses and have a family to take care of. It showed – a few guests complained. So, if you’re now thinking about converting all or part of a property you could put to use, make sure you make cleaning the biggest priority of all! I must confess that hiring a cleaner was one of the better decisions I’ve made when it comes to being an Airbnb host. After all, nobody can do it all!

But all things considered, I love Airbnb and think you will too! Have you ever tried it yourself? If not, let me be the first to offer you a $40 discount on your first stay. Just follow this link and sign up. Also know that Airbnb offers me a free $20 credit when doing so, and because we are currently traveling around the world, it really helps, so thank you! https://www.airbnb.com/c/kimt3201?currency=USD

Finally, if you’re thinking about becoming an Airbnb host, let me give you a link to get started on that too! The same thing applies as being a guest: I also get some free credit when you do so, so thanks again for using our link, as it helps us afford our travels as a family, around the world! www.airbnb.com/r/kimt3201







Keeping safe in Mexico and elsewhere


We are currently in the southernmost point of the Yucatan, Peninsula in Mexico, 30 minutes from the Mexican – Belize border. We’ve been here 3 weeks so far, so inevitably you would think we’ve had some concerns along the way about safety by now, especially since we’re indeed foreigners here.

True. And just for the record, this isn’t our first time abroad. As a family, it’s actually our third country we’ve lived in. Our first was Argentina for 16 years while dad was alive, then the US (my home country) for 6, and now we’ve been in Mexico less than a month.

A situation arose on Friday after we’d had the best boat tour imaginable. Of course, it wouldn’t be the perfect day without something arising to make me as a single mom question our safety while traveling. Here’s what happened: My boys announced they were hungry and upon exiting the boat tour, we saw that the hotel we’d left from had a restaurant in it. There weren’t a lot of people in the place and my little guy just wanted to swim in the pool while my older son and I ate. Shortly after we finished lunch, there was a couple on the table next to us. They smiled and approached us, offering us a beer, which we agreed to. After all, they seemed so nice and everything looked so safe…

Moreover, because we’re fluent in Spanish, we can carry on conversations in the language on just about anything. The first thing Miguel (not his real name) said was that he owned a tequila factory in the state of Oaxaca. Then he said that his girlfriend, who was sitting at the same table, was traveling with him.

He then began to put on the charm and was touching my arm in a way that felt overbearing to me. Then he said that his girlfriend wasn’t really his girlfriend and then that was about the extent of all he could speak in English. Then the conversation quickly turned sexual, informing us that he slept with this girl who wasn’t really his girlfriend and also began to reveal things that I cannot include in this text. Let’s just say that it wasn’t appropriate for sharing with someone he’d just met. And then he invited us to stay at his house in Oaxaca!

The girl didn’t seem interested in the conversation and said they were just friends and that she had two boys who were the same age as my son. That’s when things got really weird. They wanted to exchange contact info and without thinking, I connected us on Facebook. They asked us some questions and it was soon revealed that my older son was a licensed massage therapist. Miguel then threw himself on the floor and expected my son to massage him!

Then, slyly, subtly, the girl asked the restaurant to put on some dance music and wanted to give my son a dance lesson. Things were getting weirder by the moment. Miguel begged me to come out to the pool area with him, which was a request that I declined, because I don’t like being in the sun and I burn easily. He then struck a sexy sunbathing pose, with his swim trunks open to my view. Chivalrous Latin dude was clearly showing off! Too bad for him, I wasn’t in the least interested in Miguel…

I went back into the restaurant and my son and Miguel’s friend who’s a girl, but not his girlfriend, had cornered my older son and was crying some sob story to him. My son didn’t know what to do. Then Miguel came back in and both of them shouted, “Vamos a Tulum!” Translation: “Let’s go to Tulum!” I was taken back. I said there was no way we were going to go to Tulum. We were in charge of five dogs on a pet sitting assignment for a very nice Canadian lady and it wasn’t going to happen…

Then they said, “We’ll just take your son with us!” That’s when this mama bear’s ‘antennas’ perked up. “Oh no, you’re absolutely not taking my son with you to Tulum!’ My mother’s intuition kicked in on overdrive, and it was then that I realized I needed to come up with an exit plan. I called a taxi and announced that it was coming to get us. I said I’d contact them and I grabbed my boys and left. When we got home, we deleted and blocked both those contacts on Facebook.

That night, with all the soberness I could gather, I sat my boys down and explained to them what could have happened earlier that day. Then we came up with a safety phrase in Spanish that would mean to all three of us that someone wasn’t comfortable with the current situation. After all, there is safety in numbers.

The following are 5 ways you might find helpful to keep yourself and your family safe:

  1. Don’t talk (too long and/or get too friendly) with strangers. This is a variation of the typical ‘don’t talk to strangers’ teaching I’d been taught since I was small. But the fact is nowadays people don’t always look like they’re bad news until you’re always wishing you weren’t there and can’t escape. After all, we’re always talking to strangers while traveling and we do want to make friends. But talking too long with strangers can often lead to dangerous situations that may reveal too much sensitive info.

2.  Don’t walk too far apart from each other. My younger son has the tendency to walk far ahead of us and we’ve since changed that. I don’t let him go to the restroom alone (luckily he has an older brother) or go anywhere alone. The buddy system is the best plan anywhere. I repeat, there is safety in numbers!

3. Try to blend in as much as possible. This is another thing that we’re trying to change, and keeping our voices softer rather than our usual loud talk in English will help us not call attention to ourselves. We often need to remind each other of this, until it becomes a habit.

4. Don’t flash your money in public! You’d think people would know this ‘common sense’ rule, but I was surprised to see that when we lived in the Buenos Aires, Argentina area, I once saw a female North American flashing her dollars as if she were playing “Go Fish” in a deck of cards. My Argentine husband and I both agreed that within a few minutes, she’d be a likely candidate to get mugged. That includes using ATMs. Look around and see who’s around you. Don’t ever share an ATM with anyone. I’ve found that where we live in this small town in Mexico, there are two ATMs right next to each other and I don’t want them seeing what I’m doing or how much cash is being withdrawn from the teller.

5.  Follow your intuition / gut. If it looks or feels like a place or situation could be potentially dangerous, get out and soon! Dimly lit streets, stairwells, and non-public places where a predator could hide could be asking for trouble. Don’t even wait until that happens. Just get out asap!

Last of all, have fun while you’re traveling, keeping in mind that Safety comes First!




Pouring Rain in the Mayan Jungle

How do I begin to describe what it was like for my boys and I to go back in time as far as possibly 900 A.D.? Today we did exactly that!

We needed to get out of the sweltering heat of the town where we’re on a house sit for September and get into an air-conditioned mall. We took a taxi from Bacalar, Mexico to Chetumal where we landed just over a week ago, about 30 minutes away. We walked the small mall, ordered some local food and a Subway sandwich just for Dylan and decided there was more to explore than just a Mexican version of something we could see in the US (a mall).

The taxi driver on the way to Chetumal explained that there were some pyramids located just 10 km from town. It had just rained, so I asked my boys if they were up to exploring something from back in time. They thought the idea sounded cooler than ever, and upon finding out that it wasn’t such a large pyramid, I thought that I would also be up to doing something that wouldn’t take the wind out of me. I could handle a mini pyramid, right? After all, I learned that getting up a pyramid isn’t the problem. It’s getting down!

So after visiting the mall, we asked the local taxista (taxi driver) if he’d be willing to take us to the local pyramids. I think the way we communicated in our Argentine Spanish was a bit different from the way the locals communicate in Spanish, and I was beginning to wonder if he didn’t know what we were talking about at all. He agreed to take us, but then the light finally went on in his head. “The ruins! You want me to take you to the ruins?” I asked him what he meant by that and it sounded like the same thing and I said that’s where we wanted to go.

Then my thoughts went wild with fear, “What if he takes us somewhere, drops us off and we can’t find our way back?” All moms have these fears and this was no different. After all, I didn’t want to become a statistic of a foreigner who got lost in the Mayan jungle, died of hunger or a snake bite…

At this point, I was wondering if we should’ve set off on this adventure in the first place. After all, safety first mom! Probing him further, I asked him how the road conditions were and that if we would be able to call a taxi to get back to our town after visiting the ruins. He responded that it wouldn’t be possible. Luckily, my international experience has previously taught me that I needed to think hard and fast. I asked him if he’d be willing to wait for us so we could reach the archeological site, take a few pictures and return. He readily agreed, so we pressed on.

While driving along the Caribbean Sea we could see from the right side of the car, we found out that our taxi driver Alberto was of Mayan descent. I gently pushed him for a local story. Luckily he consented to my wish and we were told that many years ago, when only Mayans lived there, a shipwreck occurred that landed some Spaniards on the shore of that town. Well, that Spaniard fell in love with a Mayan girl and decided he wasn’t going back. Just like us, he’d fallen in love with the kindness of the Mayan people, learned the language and declared himself a Mayan. After several years, the word got back to the Spaniards and they later killed him for treason.

When we arrived, I noticed that the last group of visitors was just leaving. We were given two sets of brochures (in English and Spanish) and we proceeded toward the entrance that would lead us to the Mayan jungle.

As we walked towards the site, a light rain began to fall and it awakened our senses. In March, Dylan and I had been to DisneyWorld’s Animal Kingdom, but this wasn’t a fabricated jungle; this was the real deal! As Dylan made a video of us walking, loud thunder resounded and the rain started falling in larger volumes.

Then we saw it. The Mayan ruins, consisting of a small pyramid and two other structures in an area containing a lot of trees that provided shade. It was as if the rain was just waiting for the thunder to give it permission to start. We took the first picture and then saw a talapa (grass hut) we could run to for shelter. Upon arriving there, we saw a skeleton inside. My boys went crazy! “Look at this skeleton, mom! How old do you think it is?” I knew absolutely nothing about skeletons, bones or the like, but this guy had perfect teeth:)

The rain poured down incessantly. I contemplated that there were just three of us with these beautiful 900 A.D. ruins all to ourselves, with pouring rain to intensify our senses. We were transported back in time. I told the boys, “Take in this moment as one of the most unforgettable ones of your lives! Can you just imagine the people living here, working to build these structures that would last for thousands of years?”

Upon realizing that the rain wasn’t going to let up for a while and since Alberto the taxista was waiting for us back at the entrance, we decided to venture back. Dylan started singing, “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain!” I wanted to dance in it and never leave if I didn’t have to.

We reached the trail entrance again and found Alberto waiting for us with a smile on his face. We were soaked to the core, but happy and invigorated, having traveled in time back to a place where time had forgotten. It was a privileged and sacred moment, one that I hope to never forget as long as we live…

Please follow us on “Beyond the Wall – a family crossing borders”!







Swimming in a postcard

As a family, we have been fortunate enough to land a one-month house / pet-sitting job in a beautiful southern Mexico town on the Mexico / Belize border. This place is little known internationally, but the Mexicans and Belize locals are very familiar with this “real Mexico” place that rivals any South Pacific destination, and it has been so amazing!

You see, upon learning that as Americans we could travel full-time much more affordably than staying in the US, I as a newly single mom made the executive decision to take my two boys on the adventure of a lifetime. We had hit a time in our lives where all three of us felt like our lives were meaningless, stuck and that we were all in a rut. That needed to change! All I needed to figure out was the logistics and make it happen. So I took action and just over a week ago we headed to the closest foreign neighbor south of the border: Mexico.

Yesterday one of my sons wanted to stay home and just watch a movie, so with my other son by my side, we decided we’d head to the lagoon to take a swim. Having been here over a week now, we’ve gotten into a regular routine of waking up, feeding the five dogs we’re in charge of and then going to get our morning breakfast at a local restaurant just one block away. My younger son attends his online school and then we spend the afternoon exploring Laguna Bacalar (Bacalar Lagoon) or Cenote Azul.

It turns out that we unknowingly came during the hottest time of the year, which a local taxi driver informed us of upon inquiring if the weather was always this sweltering. Thus, our daily swim keeps us from melting away in the hot temperatures of the Yucatan Peninsula that are very different from our native state of Utah in the United States.

We walked the long plank that had been covered in blue carpet, in preparation for this weekend’s triathlon. It felt no different than a red carpet and we felt like VIPs as we counted, “Five, four, three, two, one, jump!” Immersed in the Lagoon of Seven Colors, I looked around and saw that everywhere I looked was a piece of paradise. I contemplated my blessings of being able to travel the world with my two sons.

And then I declared the following: “Look how beautiful this place is. We’re literally swimming inside a postcard!”

It’s amazing to me that on a such a low budget, we are able to be blessed to travel around the world and have the life we’ve never imagined we would. It’s a dream come true…

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The Impossible Gospel of Mormonism (from a woman’s point of view)

The Girl in a Whirl

Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do if you only knew how.
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake, I upholster, I scrub, and I pray.
I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms! I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice! I cut all their hair!
I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I play the piano! I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle! My checkbooks all balance!
Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)
I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I track my bad habits ’til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed! My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.
I do genealogy faithfully, too. It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!
I read to my children! I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!
(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It’s the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)
I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each “lost lamb” on my Primary roll.
I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I write in my journal! I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write “thank you’s” to those I admire.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A’s! And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.
I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car’s tires! I fix the sink’s leak!
I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.
I make sure I rotate our two-years’ supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard; It’s good if you do them;
You can if you try! Just set goals and pursue them!
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!
It’s easy!” she said ?and then she dropped dead.

As a former Mormon woman, I was completely exhausted, almost to the point of death, as the poem states. I so get the meaning here of what it feels like to try to live up to the expectations of others and what Mormonism teaches its women to do. It didn’t help that I had a perfectionist personality to begin with and it was all about living up to appearances. After all, I needed to avoid the ‘appearance’ of evil and everything had to be ‘perfect’!

Little did I know that the system that I had been born into, which was legalism, didn’t produce the ‘perfect’ woman who would be rendered ‘worthy’ to live in God’s presence. The Old Testament proves how this system of laws, rules and regulations (what not to do’s) exhausted the people and produced a series of people who believed they were better than the rest (the Pharisees, for example). After all, they were the ones who understood the law and were more learned; the special ones who ‘deserved’ to be saved, right?

And guess what? God allowed it. He absolutely allowed it, so He could teach the people that they weren’t able to keep up with the impossible demand for perfection, and that THEY NEEDED A SAVIOR! Because let’s face it and I’ll be absolutely transparent and honest here: If I had to rely on my own works, I wasn’t going to make it. Not gonna happen! It wasn’t ever going to be enough.

Coming from a gospel that was based on works and ‘all that we can do’, to a grace gospel, was a huge paradigm shift for me. To learn that it wasn’t because I all that I had done, rather because of who He is and what He has done, put everything in perspective. Could it be that easy? Did that mean that I now didn’t need to do anything? Not at all, but it changed the focus from me, which was a narcissist type of mentality (me, me, me!) onto Jesus and the gratitude I feel for Him having done His works, for ME. Amazing!

Finally, if you’re an LDS woman reading this, this talk is for you: Talking to the LDS Woman, by Becky Walker