Get Excited!

 

Happy Hump Day, y’all!

It’s another day in “paradise” … I mean … I am still here!  You folks have been the best “audience” I was ever gifted with!  Now, you already know that if you want to be removed from the mailing list … let me know!  Just a reminder, I always ask permission if I can include you in my Educational Excellence E-mail Family list when we met.  Again, I reiterate that I do not want “hostages” for readers.  I have come a long way with this concept of an e-mail family and blog and plan to continue with it as I am on this journey.

So, here I sit in my buddy’s place in Daytona Beach.  You may remember, his name is John Young.  We grew up in The Winbrook Projects in White Plains, New York, and, as many families in the PJ’s go, we had children of the same ages and our parent(s) often knew each other, and possibly were even friends!  It is the community concept that permeates “project living” with so many apartment buildings containing so many people and families.  In short, John and I became good friends even though he has a brother, Reggie, with whom I used to hang out with as we are the same age.  John is 65 and I am 63 … Reggie is 63 and is living in Syracuse, NY.  John “Old”, as we used to call him because he was always so mature, and I became closer and closer over the years until finally, we both ended up living in Florida!!  His son, Jordan, lives in West Palm Beach and has two lovely sons and a daughter.  So, since he didn’t travel with me to Europe, he promised me that I could crash at his place a few weeks while I organized my “next leg of the journey”!  So, “here I is” … loving it and appreciating his friendship!  Friends like this are HARD to find.  We have been dining out and catching up, and, he just arrived back home from Jamaica last night after a 5 day trip.  He is retired but still working a bit for now.  I just want to travel …  now he is saying he wants to do the same!  He’s getting excited!!

Monday, John “Old” will drop me off at the airport in Orlando where I will catch a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica to begin the next leg of my journey.  I am really looking for  place to retire and live … and write.  My degenerative osteoarthritis has gotten worse after all of my walking in Europe … but I can still move … just slower … and I bought a “mean hand made wooden designer cane” from Valencia to assist me and keep me from FALLING!!  It gets tough some days … but I try to be tougher … though sometimes it ain’t easy.  My plans include a stay over in Costa Rica unless I can find an affordable place to stay there; then on to Panama … I’ve heard so much about it.  If necessary, I have a friend in Medellin who has been keeping me abreast of rental costs for apartments there.  Yes, I am getting excited … you bet!  This will be the last e-mail from North America ….   I appreciate you all for reading … Thank you!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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Dedicated to the One I Love!

 

It’s Monday …

Yep, we are beginning another week and the first full week of November 2017 …  It is another day in “paradise” … I often like to think!  Yet, we get a full moon and a church shooting in a small town in Texas!!  I was watching the Kelly and Ryan Show as it came on this morning.  Kelly was at a loss for words, regarding why this happens so often in America … murders in churches and Vegas and elementary schools … and … and …  The president said, “This is not a gun issue, this is a mental health issue.”  What leadership we have …  I can’t take what “America” has turned in to …

On November 9th, I will be remembering my mother, Marietta Dolores,  who expired after a fall during the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.  Some of you may remember the circumstances … Over ten years ago … I still live each day, remembering both she and my dad.  I think of how they would want me to be living.  Most of us just “follow the leaders” or everybody else in life.  One thing I have done with my life is NOT necessarily live it the way someone else lives their life.  I take into account my temperament, my income, my work and play activities, my interests and goals and desires … as well as the short comings.  I have mentioned more than once how I would like to retire in a foreign country.  I have my reasons for not wanting to sit by in this country and watch all the mayhem and confusion during my “last days and time”!  I think my mother would agree with my efforts of traveling and visiting places that I haven’t gone to before.  My father, on the other hand, was a “land lubber”.  He didn’t like boats or planes and only liked to travel when he drove!!!

Thinking back to the calm and peace I found abroad, I remember that people can NOT own a gun in Spain.  People don’t blow their horns at the traffic light and no one revs their car engines or motorcycles in the street looking for their “15 seconds of fame”!  I am glad that I was raised by both of my parents.  Mother was a peace monger and Father was the provider and protector.  There was no arguing and fighting allowed in the house and not between the siblings.  Peace was something that we did … as a family.  Church and Sunday school was on the itinerary for the weekends in our family.  I am looking for that environment for my retirement.  So, next week, I am finalizing plans to go to Costa Rica, Ecuador and Colombia.  In memory of my “traveling mother and provider father”, I am looking to find that little place where I can spend a few of my last years, writing and reading, healing and hopefully getting to finish my third book … Peace be still!

Both parents taught me unconditional love in their own ways.  I know I was loved …  My mother had a special love for me as the baby boy and also as the “world traveler” following in her footsteps.  I made many many friends abroad and hope to be able to visit a few places again.  I didn’t get to visit Italy though I have been to England before.  I thoroughly enjoyed my new friends and experiences in Europe … Spain in particular.  I am off to “The Next Episode” in a few weeks.  Wish me well … We’ll stay in touch!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

I Don’t Want to Talk About It

 

Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

Nowadays, I just try to keep a positive attitude, a positive outlook on my plans as well as seek positive human beings along this journey.  Needless to say, the journey takes on different characteristics as we mature and enter say for example, retirement age or senior citizen status.  In reflecting on my experiences abroad, I must admit that the concept of family is stronger in the European nations that I visited and seniors remain an important part or component in their culture and society.  Some twelve years ago, my mother passed away.  It was a very difficult time for me, the baby boy, watching her in a comatose state.  I remained around her for as long as I could once it was decided that we would remove the life support.  I had my moments with nurses for her and visitors who didn’t seem to quite understand that this person was MY MOTHER.  I had to request that one nurse be removed from her room after seeing her treat my mother callously as if an animal or pet.  There was one “guest” to her death bed that made me so upset with their playful nature around my Mother’s death bed, I had to repeat the Serenity Prayer multiple times!

So, Halloween came and went with festivities including a crazed “terrorist” who drove a rental truck down a bike path in Manhattan, NY.  There is a serial killer, purportedly, in the Orlando, FL area and special prosecutor Mueller has begun his work identifying individuals who will be charged with crimes against the government, in particular during the recent election.  I don’t want to talk about the current president and only want to hear who has been found guilty, since most of us knew before hand that there were criminals working with the current president … money launderers and liars, to say the least!  For me, at this time, I am really enthralled by the manner in which some American cities, like Orlando, are helping the people of Puerto Rico who suffered greatly after two hurricanes crossed the tiny island.  One of my college “friends” whom I haven’t had the chance of meeting yet, Cora Monroe, is a professor there in Puerto Rico and has been keeping many of us updated via social media regarding developments (water, electricity), supplies, make shift hospitals and doctors.  In fact, Orlando is looking to house individuals and families who have been arriving to Orlando from Puerto Rico utilizing a program to rent hotel rooms for them and starting to fund “prefab” homes for them to occupy.

So, not that it may matter to you all, hopefully a few of you, I wanted to dedicate this piece to the survivors of the New York City “lone wolf” terrorist attack as well as the deceased, the recovery of those victims of the hurricanes, including a good friend whom I am visiting in Daytona Beach, John Young, but also my college chum, Cora Monroe, and the folks in Puerto Rico and even those here in Central Florida as they recover from the effects of the most recent two hurricanes.  November marks the end of hurricane season … I think we’ve had enough.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Welcome Back . . .

Happy Friday, Y’all!

And as we do it around here, T.G.I.F.!  It’s the weekend again, Baby!

First of all, in the last piece about “3 Johns”, I had incorrectly named the hurricane that caused so much damage to my friend John Young’s apartment in Daytona Beach as well as threatened the safety of my other friend John Shelton who lives in Margate, closer to Ft. Lauderdale.  I mentioned it was “Wilma”, which was actually over 10 years ago, but the hurricane was Irma.  I stand corrected!

Coming back “stateside” was going to be a challenge I knew but certain things were unexpected.  You may remember the situation that occurred on the “4th of July” on Ft. Lauderdale Beach this year.  There was a motorcycle officer who sped by in the bicycle lane as the public transportation bus had dropped me and a French friend of mine off on the street side of the barriers placed by the City of Ft. Lauderdale for pedestrian safety.  As he sped by, he hollered, “Get out of the street!” to which I replied, “Where are we supposed to walk?”  He gave me a ticket for “walking in the street when a sidewalk was available”.  I submitted a “Not Guilty” plea to the ticket division of Ft. Lauderdale as well as information that I had already purchased travel tickets for a 3 month vacation in Europe.  I had also mentioned to the seargent with the “Internal Affairs” division of the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department during the complaint against the officer for what I considered “racial profiling” that I would be away for three months and to contact me by e-mail.  Needless to say, I never received any e-mails from Sgt. Coffin nor any other form of communication.

I had my mail placed in a “hold” status at my mailbox for me and E.E. and went into the Post Office on Wednesday when I returned from Barcelona.  I picked up my mail and went carefully through each piece.  There were no communications from the “parking division” and none from the Internal Affairs division.  However, there was a communication from the Department of Transportation from the State of Florida … stating that my license was suspended!!!  I was concerned because I had not only written a request for the ticket division to schedule the court date after October 17th, 2017 due to my already planned and paid for flight to Barcelona, but pled NOT GUILTY to “walking in the street when there is a sidewalk available”.  There were nor correspondences stating that there was a court date at ALL and not one communication from anyone … no one at ALL!  After carefully reading the suspension notice, I saw that the date was September 15th or so when the suspension went into effect!!  I left to go to Barcelona on July 19th so there was a two month time frame before any communication regarding my license was sent to me … and that said that my license was suspended.  So, in other words, over a two month period, the “wheels of justice” moved so quickly that there were “court dates” and activity but NOT ONE correspondence sent to me to inform me of the activity surrounding this ticket.  Now, I needed to rent a car when I returned “stateside” to move some things from Ft. Lauderdale to Daytona Beach … and … a license is needed to rent a car!  Once I got back to where I was staying, I called my traffic attorney firm that I have been using here in Ft. Lauderdale for over 10 years.  They informed me that … 1) a traffic ticket for walking in the street was issued to me and … 2) my license to drive a car … can be suspended for NOT SHOWING UP TO COURT!!!  Yet, there were NO correspondences from anyone regarding a court date nor attempts to reschedule or postpone the court date, as I had requested in WRITING from the Traffic Division.  So … “Welcome Back”!!

So, I paid for the attorney’s services to have my licensed reinstated by 3:30pm Thursday … so I could rent the car Sunday with a valid driver’s license …  It is one of the main reasons why I don’t have much respect for this system … the courts and police … because somebody is ALWAYS dropping the ball there and I am the one paying for everything resulting as a consequence of something that I “have no control over”.  It got ‘er done, I rented the car, packed up at John Shelton’s place, drove to Daytona and unloaded my belongings, drove back to Ft. Lauderdale Wednesday and hung out downtown before catching a 5:30am Greyhound Bus Thursday morning back to Daytona where my friend John Young picked me up yesterday afternoon at 1:30pm.  I just like “gittin’ stuff done”!  NEXT!

Have a great weekend!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

 

Three Guys … named JOHN!

Yep, it’s Tuesday ….

Another day in “paradise”, you understand?!!  I am just sitting chillin’ at my friend John Young’s apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Right now, he doesn’t have WiFi and is in a place that he was moved to after the damage and flooding caused by Hurricane Wilma up here.  I am fortunate to have a friend like John Young who was also the “best man” in my first wedding …  He was supposed to travel with me to Spain and Europe but decided against going because I had told him that I don’t want to come back to the USA!!  He’s got grandkids that he said he wanted to take to “Disney” … So, I went  alone.  We talked and I told him that I may have to come back, and asked that if I did come back, if I could stay with him for a while.  He agreed.  So, here I am … until I shape up my next trip, hopefully, to South America.

It was just last week that I arrived back in “The States”, and was picked up at the airport by another friend, John Shelton!  We know each other after a friendship in Ft. Lauderdale spanning about 7 years.  We call him “Johnny Ace” as he is the drummer of a band in the FTL called “Smokin’ Aces”.  He works full time during the day for the City of Margate.  We all hang out downtown at “The Original Fat Cats” and “Capone’s”, where I have been hanging out for 15 of my 20 years in Fort Lauderdale!  John Shelton is the kind of friend who, if you are stranded in Europe on your way to Paris by bus and have paid for ONLY your first night in a hostel, will put $200 in your account … until my pension payment came in!

Then there is me … John I. Cook … traveling around looking for an affordable city to retire in the world!!  Just recently, I had to take a step back as I am planning a trip to South America to look at Cost Rica, Ecuador and Colombia and noticed that we are “three Johns” … connected by ME!  The other two “John’s” don’t know each other though John Young has come to Ft. Lauderdale a few times … just never met the other “John”!  Pretty cool, heh!?  Maybe it’s just me and my appreciation of two “Johns” who are making my touchdown back here in the USA very “do-able”.  Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough to have a former student who lives in Colombia who not only owns a hostel in Medellin but has been “keeping an eye out” for affordable rentals in Medellin.  After renting a car in Ft. Lauderdale to carry some things up to Daytona to my friend John Young where I will be staying until I travel again … hopefully in November … I will be returning it tomorrow and catch a Greyhound back to Daytona Beach.  Still traveling … thanks to a few good friends … named “John”!

Have a great week!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

 

 

We Did It! “Th … Th … Th … That’s All Folks!”

 

It’s Monday ….

Can anyone say “Monday, Funday”?  Or was that yesterday?!?  Yes.  Today is my last day in Sabadell, Barcelona … Spain.  I was just watching the news here regarding the possible secession of Catalunya from Spain … So much going on “politically” world-wide.  Can you say, “Peace … be still …”?!

The trip has been wonderful … after arriving 3 months ago in Sabadell and taking on other countries’ borders and cities to enjoy a much needed trip.  I mean, before I knew it, I was back in Barcelona!  Valencia was probably where I relaxed the most … taking in the beach there – Malvarrosa Beach – and many of the tourist’s sights … as well as the “not so touristy” sights!  Going on from Valencia to Hamburg with a day lay over in Prague was quite an experience as well.  I met some of the nicest people and on one occasion, either a problematic person or a “stupid” person who gave me the wrong directions to an address that was right where I started when I got out of the train there in Hamburg where I asked him for help!  We’ll chalk that one up to experience because I should have looked around before asking someone where a street was … which was directly behind me!  Lesson: “Trust … but not everybody!”  Hamburg was also delightful with the new Philharmonic Hall and the Port of Hamburg, though I didn’t get to see a German friend who lives in Kiel, and, I was momentarily disappointed.  Life goes on …

Amsterdam was a place that I had never anticipated traveling to but had a “funtastic” time there!  The people were kind, the ladies were as beautiful as they were in Prague and Valencia, and I had two unexpected “dates” with people … one I hadn’t seen since leaving White Plains as a teacher!  The other surprise was from a woman who is a yoga teacher in Amsterdam but who knows an acquaintance of mine from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  So, I had an unexpected dinner in downtown Amsterdam with a former student, Trevor Henry, as well as a boat cruise on the canals in that City’s lovely ambiance with Cheryl Nesbit.  Peaceful people everywhere!  I never intended to visit Paris … but I did!  I stayed there for like five days and enjoyed everything I could from the Eiffel Tower to Arc de Triomfe as well as a foot trip to “The Louvre” … I didn’t go in … I was too tired!  Shucks, I even saw the original “Moulin Rouge”!  I had some of the coolest room mates in the hostel there in Paris, co-ed type thing, and made some cool new friends.  Paris is truly a city with its own “style”!!  From Paris, I took a 12 hour bus trip back to Barcelona where I hung out another month with the same hostess I met when I had first arrived in Sabadell.  After a month or so of more sight seeing, I took off to Valencia again … I just had to see that beach one more time!  I stayed in the City … downtown Valencia … and got to see yet another aspect of this beautiful city!

So, now I am winding up two weeks here in Sabadell again with a cool hostess, Vicky Lao, who has her own Air BnB set up that functions pretty well!  I can tell you that I have had some meals here that she prepared that were superb!  After arriving back in Sabadell, I had the pleasure of meeting an older gent, a retired doctor, who was born in Spain but grew up in New York’s Queens.  We met at a health food store and became friends instantly.  He invited me on a trip to a place called “Costa Brava” which stretches from Catalunya in Spain to the French border where we had a day of relaxation, beautiful scenery and … some excellent food.  Thanks, Francisco!  Tomorrow morning, I will board the Delta flight back to Atlanta and finally to Ft. Lauderdale.  I will hunker down for a few days in the FTL and then probably on to Daytona Beach while I work out my trip to South America …

But for now, “That’s all folks!”

Have a great day and a greater week!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Notes on Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain

 

Happy Friday, All!

I must admit that I have a pretty powerful “T.G.I.F.” lined up for this morning!  Feeling blessed in many many ways … Peace be still …

Wednesday, I had some challenges getting the e-mail out to “The Family” and tried and tried to resend it to no avail!  Perhaps, one of the addresses was incorrect or perhaps someone doesn’t want to receive any more of them and had me “shut down”!  That’s “the conspiracy theory” about the e-mail disappearance … like in other parts of the world’s affairs!!  You can chuckle if you want because I am only kidding … conspiracy theory against John Cook … now THAT’S funny!

In my last few days here in Sabadell, which is like a suburb of Barcelona in the “famed” region of Catalunya, I have taken note of some pretty cool things.  Sabadell, in particular, is a family oriented “town”, if you will.  The people come out on holidays, like yesterday, and hang out with husband, wife, children and dogs and visit the restaurants that line the streets in the Centre of Sabadell near the mayor’s office, called The Ajuntamiento.  The seniors have their own center and living location with helpers always available.  Those senior citizens who are still able to walk the streets of Sabadell do so in couples … and hand in hand!  When I tell you that I have not seen a fight or an argument nor even a car accident since I have been here, I re-emphasize my level of seriousness.  The people are very civil … not looking for any conflict of any sort.  Yet, as one may note from all of the events surrounding Catalunya’s “independence” here of late, they are awake in the concept of “democracy”.  They have borrowed much of the flavor of movements started by Che Guevara and Martin Luther King, Jr. as they echo their desire for representation in the larger Spanish government … or separation!  There have been multiple marches and activities, the carrying of and waving of the banner/flag of Catalunya at events like the one I attended yesterday in downtown Barcelona at Plaza Catalunya.  The streets were shut down by the police, there were no incidents of “flag burning” or fighting, no throwing of beer bottles, cans or soft drinks.  There was just an orderly peaceful gathering of people who occasionally chimed in on a “Viva Espana” chant coming from an apartment window over looking the street or from a crowd of young people … male and female … touting the flags, faces painted red for the color of Barcelona … and absolutely NO VIOLENCE of any sort.  The environment is beautiful … one in which I could live … if it wasn’t so expensive for a single guy like me …retired and all!

Barcelona is a vibrant old style Spanish city with narrow streets that look like alleys where no violence nor robberies take place … day or night!  There is a very very low level of street mischief like prostitution or drug (marijuana) sales … No hard stuff anywhere though homelessness and “pan handling” are widespread in Barcelona yet non-existent in Sabadell!!!  The traffic is extremely orderly and there is limited honking of horns and NO … I said NO road rage anywhere!!  While I don’t particularly “knock” the USA, we are suffering from a lack of spiritual values … family and human values.  We applaud death and threaten each other on every front possible.  This leaves a society always “on the brink” of a disaster where someone “flips out”, be it a leader … or a citizen.  Life is “tight” … life is propelled by success and money, power and greed … control even.  The fabric of our society … is suffering in the USA.  It has been a great awakening for me to come to Europe … Spain to be exact … and see the family values prevalent that we once held so dear in the USA …

Just some notes …

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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