Tuesday, 5 January 2010
I am in the process of publishing a version on Smashwords.com in all the common competing ebook formats (e.g. for Kindle and Sony devices). Unfortunately, their conversion mechanism is currently undergoing “repair”. The limitations of publishing for multiple formats mean that I have had to adjust the formatting in the Smashwords version, so I would suggest that people use Lulu unless they need the different version for their ebook reader. If you are interested in the Smashwords editions, please just drop me a line and I’ll let you know when they are available.The book is illustrated throughout with some of my photographs – another passion that I have been feeding over the last few years.
Both on-line retailers will have a sample of pages from the book. I hope you’ll check it out. And if you decide to buy and download it – thank you, and I hope that you find it an interesting read!
Monday, 21 December 2009
My blog has been “resting”; lying there discarded as a journal of past experiences in Baja. But I have not stopped writing. Instead, I have set myself a more ambitious target. Eschewing the easy route of short, random observations, I decided to write a book, with all its demands of structure, flow and, frankly, commitment of time. The working title is “Living La Vida Loca: When the Dream of Life in Mexico becomes Reality”. What’s it about? Here’s an extract from the introduction:
“When I tell people in the North that I spend winters in Baja, they are, perhaps, a little shocked at first, usually envious, and often curious as to what the life is like. Most have a preconception that life in Baja is just one uninterrupted vacation. They usually ask “So what do you find to do all day, for that length of time?” - a question to which it is hard to give a quick response that reflects the experience of being there. Analytical folk may ask questions about health care, shopping and the mechanics of day-to-day life. But just about everyone lacks the broad context of experience for probing what it is really like living in the Mexican culture in a place that can physically resemble paradise.
This book is for anyone who has ever thought, even fleetingly, of making a life as a “snowbird”, or even as a full-time resident, in the warm climes of Mexico. Just what is it like to make that dramatic step? What is the reality of the dream? What should I know before I take steps to make it real, or decide it’s just not for me?
There are several books around that cover the physical mechanics and issues of living in Mexico in general, and Baja in particular. While this information is useful for anyone who plans to move there, logistics in Mexico, while they may frustrate you, won’t ultimately mean the difference between experiencing life as an exciting adventure or a nightmare. The more interesting and critical issues are those of being able to align yourself psychologically with the demands and opportunities of life in Mexico. So this book is about the internal experience of life as a foreign resident in Mexico. It looks at what drives people to come here, what surprises they found, how they cope with and grow from the experience, how reality compares to their expectations, and what they would do differently knowing what they do now.”
I now have completed a second draft of the book, and am now learning the intricacies (and restrictions) of formatting for distribution as an ebook (the vagaries of differing and competing formats for ebooks is a clear indication that this is an evolving technology!). I will probably publish as a downloadable PDF ebook on Lulu.com in early January, and then perhaps move to other ebook formats and a “published on demand” version later in the year. As soon as it is available for sale, I will publish a link to the order page on this blog.
Friday, 6 March 2009
Sunday, 1 March 2009
Even where water pipes dare not go, entrepreneurs have created long-distance wireless networks to share landline high speed internet service. Just about everyone it seems (except us), local or ex-pat, has a cell phone, the explosive growth of which is aided by low prices fostered by the unique approach of “Quien llama, paga” – he who calls, pays. Our landline bill for calling cellphones is, for example, greater than our line cost! And now, high-speed internet service is available just about everywhere using a cheap cellphone modem service.
It is interesting to recall that, maybe 10 or so years ago, there was no internet service available, and phones were a rarity, with people having to line up at the message centre in town to gain access to a booth to make or receive calls. Thoughts of being disconnected in that way send shivers through my body, for I, like many others, have become essentially addicted to connectivity.
But is this connected paradise a positive thing? True, it enables me to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues across the world through video calls. But it also means that you never detach from the manic word of “news” where there is a constant cacophony of misery and prognostications of doom, each reporter seeming to want to outdo the others in their depiction of the end of civilization as we know it. Like drivers craning their neck for a look at a car wreck, it’s very hard not to delve into all this gloom.
When I go for a stroll after taking my dose of “reality”, I am shocked by the dissonance of the hopelessness revolving in my head, and the world that my senses encounter. The sun is still shining, indeed lulling its subjects into lassitude in this unseasonably warm season. Fresh colour floods the plants in our garden. A menagerie of birds, from rampant and irrepresible Roosters through caustic Cactus Wrens and percussionist Flickers (who have an unnatural love of my metal chimney) to invisible yet mellifluent Warblers, still roam our yard. Raucous revellers from last night’s party (for Mexicans do indeed know how to party!) stagger along our dusty roads, holding onto each other for support. And so life still continues, much as before, in this sleepy little town.
I have noticed a trend amongst some fellow internet trollers to divest themselves of the habit of reading about the misery, and to surround themselves with more positive experiences. Part of me sees this as ostrich-like behaviour; ignoring tsunami warnings in the hope that it will turn out to be a mirage. But another part of me, the part that listens to the birds and the happily inebriated locals, sees the truth in this approach. The world will continue, no matter what stupidities humans inflict. And, while some will see it as ignoring what we cannot change, I suspect that, actually, the tide of negativity is self-realizing and so by thinking differently, perhaps we can change some small part of our world for the better.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
I almost feel traitorous, therefore, when, about this time in the season, I explain to people back in the land of ice and snow that it is all becoming a bit “blah”. Yes, it is sunny – again. And I can wear shorts all day, without fear of losing appendages. And the garden is bursting with a cacophony of colour. And the whales are cruising around near shore and waving their flukes – as usual. Yawn!
Maybe I have the affliction more than most, but repeated exposure to any experience, no matter how wonderful, breeds a blinding familiarity. It is only when it is a jolt from normal life, or afterwards, when it is gone, that perhaps we truly appreciate what we experience. There are flashes or even longer stretches where the numbing veil is lifted, and I see what is before my eyes without a filter. But before long, the familiar images lull me back to sleep. The magical golden elements, in reverse alchemy, become the new leaden norm.
It is not Baja that causes such reactions. Back in Comox, we have a breathtaking and “in your face” view across the full spectrum blue Georgia Straights to the snow-capped green coastal mountains of BC. When we first arrived, we spent hours just sitting in the living room and watching with amazement. We committed to each other that we should never take this view for granted. And yet, just a few months later, we would catch ourselves carrying on our lives and almost forgetting about what was right in front of our eyes.
Is familiarity-bred numbness inevitable and irreversible? Some have suggested to me that it is our predestined fate but, by understanding this and keeping expectations low, life still remains enjoyable. Others would suggest that the blindness can be overcome. One school proposes living in the moment to connect us to what is really happening, and thus strip the familiarity fog from our eyes and other senses. But few (myself included) can do that for more than short periods of time before falling back into “normal” existence. Living a comparative life, an approach taken by some, where one is thankful for what we have because it is so much better than what others appear to endure, seems to me to be an artifice of rationalisation.