Thursday, April 1, 2021



First Parade in Sayulita in Over a Year!

    Slowly but surely, México is taking baby steps toward a new normal post-COVID-19. Semana Santa, Holy Week, the week before Easter, is typically a busy week in Sayulita, but last year our beaches and many restaurants were closed. This year the beaches are open with few restrictions. Not only have all restaurants reopened (with distancing restrictions), several new ones have opened. Baby steps…

Our usual practice for this crowded week is... Read more at March 2021 Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Newsletter.

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Pickle Jar Test: A Novel

Read more "In Sickness and In Health Novels" and "Healthy Living in Mexico" books at my Amazon Author Page.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


 This is Part of the Reason We Moved Here!

One of Three Bougainvillea Plants in Our Garden

    The cold weather in Oregon drove us to spend winters RVing in México for many years until one day we realized we didn’t want to return to the United States. The warm weather, beautiful colors and textures, and the simple life make us happy here.

Colors and Textures Run Wild in Our Tropical Garden

     I love gardening here in Sayulita—the weather allows me to garden year-round. Warmth and humidity keep the plants green and colorful. A weekly watering using my drip irrigation system keeps the plants healthy and minimizes the amount of water we use—an important factor in a town with a limited water supply.

     I wasn’t a fan of orange and yellow in the garden until we moved here. Now I see them as sunny, happy colors and love that they attract the hummingbirds.

     Amazingly, our tropical garden doesn’t require much work. A heavy pruning before the rainy season starts in June keeps it under control. Three months of nightly rain in the summer gives everything a nice growth spurt. I appreciate that the rain usually comes during the night leaving the days bright and the air clear.

     We live four blocks from the Pacific Ocean, sheltered by hills covered with coconut palms and parota trees—this is significant for our tropical plants to grow well. Years ago, I was walking on the beach in San Carlos, Sonora when I stopped to talk to an older lady working in her beachside garden. As I admired her flowers and cacti, she explained to me that it is difficult to grow much next to the ocean because the salty air and windy conditions allow a limited variety of plants to thrive. That was a lesson I tucked away for future reference.

      Chachalacas visit our garden when the palm berries turn red and ripe. Yesterday, one discovered it was time to eat these delicacies and hid in the palm tree. After a few minutes of his quiet “wheet-wheet” calls, there were three of these large pheasant-like birds hiding in the tree. They are camera-shy, so it was challenging to capture a photo of them, but if you look closely, you will see all three waiting for me to leave so they can strip the berries from the hanging branches.

      In the evenings, as we settle onto our covered patio with a glass of wine, we enjoy our wild, colorful, low-maintenance tropical garden and know we chose the right place to retire. Bella agrees. There’s just enough room for her to chase her football and retrieve it for treats.

      After five runs, she rests in the plants where she can get a head-rub and back-scratch from the leaves. A tiny casita, a small garden, a simple life, and sunny, blue-sky weather year-round—this is what we wanted when we retired early and moved to México. I'm grateful to have been able to retire before the age of 59.

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     To read more about “RETIREMENT Before the Age of 59: Healthy Living in Mexico #2”, check out my book on Amazon, available worldwide.

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Sunday, February 28, 2021


 Lesson 1: No More Single-Use Plastic!

FREE WATER with Your Cup or Bottle

     ChocoBanana’s owner, Tracie Willis, and her team of employees have been committed to protecting the environment for many years. Not only does ChocoBanana set the standard in Sayulita for minimizing their carbon footprint on our earth, but Tracie and her team also encourage other restaurants and individuals to follow her example.

     ChocoBanana has a 5-gallon garrafón of drinking water set out on an easy-tipping stand, allowing customers to refill their reusable water bottle or drinking cup. This eliminates buying a plastic bottle of drinking water at the store!

Lesson #2: Carry a Reusable Drinking Bottle or Cup with You

ChocoBanana Sells Reusable Cups and Bottles

     Don’t have a reusable drinking container with you? Don’t worry, ChocoBanana sells them! Carry it with you and take it home as a souvenir. Please don't buy single-use plastic bottles of water—ChocoBanana has you covered. Tracie states that single-use plastic bottles are produced at the rate of one million per minute! She is teaching us to stop using single-use plastic to help save the planet.

     Recycling is not the long-term answer to eliminating plastic in our landfills and ocean. We need to eliminate the use of single-use plastic containers.

Lesson #3: What?!! No To-Go Single-Use Coffee Cups

ChocoBanana Sells Mugs and Insulated Cups with Covers

     Bring your own coffee mug if you want to buy a cup of organic coffee to go and help save our planet. If you forget your mug, ChocoBanana sells reusable coffee thermoses and coffee mugs at cost. Or you can rent a coffee mug for a deposit of 70 pesos and return it for a refund when finished. The price of coffee to fill your cup is very inexpensive. They aren’t trying to make a profit on to-go coffee sales—they are teaching us to stop using single-use cups that become trash filling up our landfills.

Sayulita Poem as a Remembrance of this Oceanside Pueblo 

Lesson #4: Vendors Deliver Food and Drinks Only in Reusable Containers to Minimize Trash

Fruit Deliveries Come in Reusable Containers

Coca-Cola is Delivered in Glass Bottles and Returned Empty

     ChocoBanana insists that vendors deliver food and drinks in reusable containers. Even the ice cream for shakes is delivered by Helados Remy in plastic reusable tubs. This greatly reduces garbage going into the earth's landfill.

Lesson #5: No Plastic Bags or Straws (even “Biodegradable”!)

     ChocoBanana has been advocating for the elimination of single-use plastic straws for years and has had a huge impact in Sayulita, influencing customers to refuse straws at other restaurants, thereby influencing the restaurants to stop offering straws. While biodegradable straws and bags are legal alternatives to plastic in Nayarit, Tracie says she does not use them at ChocoBanana because they can take years to decompose while they float around in the ocean or blow around in nature.

     Here’s an article that helps us understand why many biodegradable bags float in the ocean without decomposing: How Long Do Biodegradable Bags Take To Decompose?. So, take your reusable bag to carry the food you purchase to go.

 Lesson #6: No Styrofoam (also called Unicel) for To-Go Orders

Amalia Explains Other Ways ChocoBanana Helps the Environment

     I interviewed Amalia, one of ChocoBanana’s employees, and she explained several ways that they minimize trash and single-use plastic. She said they offer paper bags for muffins and cookies purchased to go, never Styrofoam or plastic. They also will lend a glass cake plate with a cover to a customer who purchases larger quantities of pastries. When the customer returns the cake plate, it can be washed and reused.

     For to-go orders of food, they are packaged for the customer in biodegradable, environmentally safe containers made from corn, never Styrofoam. A low charge of 8 pesos (40 cents) is added to the cost of the food, a minimal contribution to saving our planet.

Amalia also explained that ChocoBanana purchases flour in 25-kilo bags rather than small packages which further minimizes the amount of trash produced. Minimizing trash production is one of ChocoBanana’s important goals--one that we can all learn from.

Lesson #7: No Organic Waste Goes into the Trash

Candelario, Part of the ChocoBanana Team

     I spoke with Candelario, another ChocoBanana employee, while Tracie handled a phone call to keep her many projects going. He told me that organic food waste is taken to a local ranch where it is fed to pigs. Vegetable and fruit waste is taken to the community compost area in Tamarindo. Disposing of food scraps in these ways contributes to decreasing trash in the landfill.

     Composting at home is an easy way to decrease the volume and stench of trash. Read more about home composting at REDUCING OUR TRASH--PLAN #1 FOR THE NEW YEAR: Composting at Home in Mexico

Lesson #8: Buy a Chocolate-Covered Frozen Banana to Help Fund a Green Sayulita!

Tracie Willis and Her Original ChocoBanana Cooler from 1991

     ChocoBananas, those yummy chocolate-covered frozen bananas, was Tracie Willis’ first product, created in 1991 and sold on the beach from her insulated cooler. Even back then, Tracie taught others not to throw trash on the beach—“Don’t Throw Trash on the Beach” was stenciled in Spanish on the reverse side of her cooler.

     Now 100% of the sales of these chocolate-covered bananas go to the Ser Su Voz charity to help the environment. Tracie leads Ser Su Voz to promote responsible environmental practices in and around Sayulita, including helping the recycling program by donating a truck to the Centro de Reciclajede Sayulita, contributing funds and work to place eight large trash bins and two street-cleaning carts in Sayulita, a huge step to help keep garbage from washing and blowing into the ocean, planting and watering trees in Sayulita, and promoting land development with compassion, especially to protect our beach, ocean, and river.

Tracie Promoting Development with Compassion

     To learn more about ChocoBanana Restaurant and Ser Su Voz Sayulita, stop in for breakfast, served all day, and talk to Tracie and her associates. You can't miss the restaurant in centro across from the corner of the plaza. Don’t forget to buy a chocolate-covered banana to help fund a green Sayulita!

ChocoBanana Restaurant in Sayulita Centro

     I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     Visit my Amazon Author Page to download my books in the HealthyLiving in Mexico series and my novels in the In Sickness and In Health series, available worldwide. Check out my latest novel, Pickle Jar Test, FREE with kindleunlimited.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles and books. As an independent author, I appreciate each review you can post on Amazon to help others find my books.

Monday, February 8, 2021

February 2021 Newsletter: FIGHTING COVID-19 PANDEMIC FATIGUE

 What We Do While Living in México to Battle COVID-19 Pandemic Fatigue

     COVID-19 pandemic fatigue sucks! I fight it daily—some days it drags me down. Do you find yourself wondering about your own fatigue?

     A year into the pandemic, I know many others are struggling with it, as well. The question is, how do we battle against it? Traveling is what Jon and I love and look forward to. Is it possible to travel and remain safe from the coronavirus?

     Here’s an excellent article about what COVID-19 fatigue is and how to fight it. What doctors wish patients knew about pandemic fatigue In summary, with COVID-19 fatigue, “you’re tired in your soul—emotionally, psychologically, socially, spiritually, you are just tired and not motivated,” said Dr. Lambert. “To get out of that fatigue, maintain hope that things will get better.”

How do we raise our hope? Read More

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 Pickle Jar Test: A Novel

     What do you do when you live in México and develop a serious disease? Jake and Lindsay have some big decisions to make.

     Thank you for reading my blog articles, newsletters, and books. If you enjoy my books, please leave a brief review on Amazon. As an independent author, I rely on you to help others find my books.



Terry L Turrell, Author

Sunday, January 24, 2021

7 Unexpected Benefits of Sweeping the Street in México

 Five Years After Moving to México, Jon Discovered This

Jon Sweeps the Cobblestone in Front of Our Casita
     It’s customary in México to sweep in front of your home or place of business regularly, typically each morning. Some people who have a tile or stone entry even damp mop the public sidewalk in front of their gate or front door. For five years, our housecleaner has swept the cobblestone street in front of our gate as part of her weekly cleaning duties. We thought that was often enough.
Our Tropical Almond Tree Viewed from the Second Floor

     But apparently, it wasn’t, and the reason revolved around an important tree, one that we have a love-hate relationship with. We have a large tropical almond tree, a variety that is valued in this area for the shade they provide, that overhangs the cobblestone street, our yard, and the exterior stairway to our second floor. We sometimes cuss the tree for the mess it creates—dropping huge amounts of leaves and plum-like almonds daily and providing a roost for the chickens that poop on our stairs and garden wall. 
Leaves and Tropical Almonds on Our Exterior Stairway

     But the neighbors valued the shade of that tree for their gatherings on warm afternoons where they relaxed and chatted just outside our garden wall. And we liked it for the privacy screen it provided between homes. We could never cut this important shared tree down, but we could have it severely topped, reducing the debris that fell by half. So, once every two years we hire a guy to climb up and remove the fast-growing upper tree limbs, sometimes with a machete and sometimes with a chainsaw.

     We noticed that the neighbors often swept our side of the street, sometimes daily during the season when the purple, fruit fly-covered almonds were dropping into the cobblestone area where chairs were lined up ready for family gatherings. Some days the briskness of the sweeping outside our gate sounded furiously fast—were they angry with us for not sweeping our side of the street? So, occasionally Jon or I would sweep the cobblestone when the leaves and almonds were accumulating, hoping the neighbors appreciated it.
Sweeping Leaves and Almonds on Our Stairway

     About a month ago, Jon started sweeping the cobblestone street in front of our casita every other morning. Our house is on a corner lot, so that means he sweeps two streets, a strip of about 200 feet (60 meters) long. He sweeps well past the center of the street but not quite to the neighbors’ houses on the other side, a width of 15 feet (4.5 meters). That’s 3000 square feet (270 square meters)! In addition to leaves and almonds, the amount of dust and sand that accumulates daily is amazing—a product of the many cars and trucks that drive in and out of the dirt lot kitty-corner from our house.

     In addition to increasing our pride in our home and neighborhood, there have been 7 unexpected benefits of Jon’s sweeping. Who would have thought sweeping was so valuable?

1.   Smiles and Friendlier Greetings from our Neighbors—It has dramatically changed our relationship with our Mexican neighbors for the better! When we leave home and return, the neighbors outside smile and greet us with more friendliness. Several neighbors have had discussions with Jon comparing brooms. Jon has five types of brooms now and is becoming an expert on which works on cobblestone and what is best for the tile steps.

Jon's Broom Collection is Growing

     2.     Health Benefits—Jon gets 5000 to 8000 steps recorded on his Fitbit by the time he’s finished sweeping, depending on how dirty the street is. Yesterday he had 7200 steps, 2.49 miles, 125 aerobic minutes by noon! The steps are smaller when he sweeps than when he walks, so he probably didn’t actually walk 2.49 miles, but the health benefits are in the steps and the arm motions which raise his heart rate into the cardio range. Since Jon has Parkinson’s disease, this has added to his exercise regime to slow the progress of his symptoms.

     3.     Safety, Especially on the Exterior Stairway—Jon imagines me walking down those outside stairs in flip-flops and stepping on one of those almonds, my foot rolling over the nut like I was wearing a rollerskate, and me landing on my butt. He cares about my safety, so he sweeps the stairs every other day, too. I don’t even want to think about Jon losing his balance after stepping on one of those hard little balls—balance is already an issue for him as a result of Parkinson’s.

     4.     Less Dust in Our House—Beach towns are sandy and dusty. We live on a dusty street in a dusty town with the windows and doors open most days, so dust filters in with traffic from motos, cars, delivery trucks, bicycles, and animals. Jon’s sweeping has lessened the frequency of my knick-knack dusting.

     5.     Construction Debris is Being Swept Up by the Mexican Laborers—Jon has set an example for the guys on the crew who are doing construction next door. In addition to sweeping the street, Jon has been sweeping our shed roof where construction debris fell from the removal of an old palapa roof next door. He’s shown them that sweeping isn’t just “women’s work” and they have begun sweeping up their mess at the end of the workday.
Jon Sweeping Construction Debris Off of Our Roof

     6.     Social Time for the Men on the Block—Other men who live near us are beginning to sweep the street on days when Jon doesn’t, and sometimes while Jon is out sweeping. It has become a social time when Jon can practice speaking Spanish and learning more about our town. Maybe the women have suggested that if Jon can sweep, so can their husbands. Or maybe the men want to show Jon how well their brooms work.

     7.     Broom Sharing and Discussion About the Best Brooms Improves Relationships with Neighbors—One morning while Jon was sweeping, the lady next door came out to greet Jon with a smile, showed him her broom, and demonstrated how well it worked for sweeping the cobblestone. Jon told her in Spanish that it was better than his brooms and so she let him borrow it. Now they greet each other on the street like old friends, and he’s on a quest to find a broom just like hers.

If You Enjoyed This Story, I Invite You to 
Check Out This “Healthy Living in México” Book

Living in Mexico Lessons Learned: Healthy Living in México #3

Book Description

     In this continuation of Terry and Jon's story about moving to Mexico they learn that, while their new lifestyle is everything they had hoped for (relaxing, full of adventures, and less expensive), some surprises and unexpected adjustments are also part of living there. Now residents of México, they find it is not quite the same as taking a vacation to this beautiful country. Read more at Living in Mexico Lessons Learned

          Are you interested in learning more about Parkinson’s Disease? Take a look at my novel, “Pickle Jar Test”, available on Amazon worldwide.

          I invite you to SIGN UP for my Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico Monthly Newsletter, with stories about our latest adventures, my recent blog articles, and news about my books.

     Thank you for reading my articles and books. Follow me on Facebook at "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" for more information about life in Mexico and my Amazon Author Page for updates on my books and blogs.
Terry L Turrell