Surprise! We’re back to Plan A.

You may recall that Leslie and I originally planned to go from San Diego to Costa Rica, but those plans changed because of scheduling issues. So we decided to take a cruise through the Panama Canal instead. A great way to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we thought. Well, we’re back to Plan A again!

It’s a long story — here’s the short version. The company we were working with to book the Panama Canal cruise failed miserably, so we called on USAA* for help. They quickly verified that canal cruises in the time frame we wanted were sold out. After some discussion about our options, they booked us on a repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Rome in mid-April. So we return to Europe in spring when temperatures are milder than in February!

That, in turn, caused us to take another look at Costa Rica, and we found what appears to be a good place — under budget — in the Central Valley town of Atenas (ah-TAY-nas). The plan is to be there for about five weeks, then head to a Pacific coast beach town for another five. Still working on the beach town. More on that in the next post.

The 14-night transatlantic cruise takes us from Fort Lauderdale to Civitavecchia, the port city of Rome, with stops in Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain); Malaga, Cartagena and Barcelona, Spain; and Ajaccio, Corsica (France).

While we’re presently not sold on Italy as a place for us to live — at least not right now — Leslie and I would like to check it out and do some touristy stuff, like we did in Scotland and England when we started this journey in 2016. So the plan is to spend two or three weeks in various parts of Italy and then head to France for about six weeks, probably in Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, or maybe in Provence. Details to come.

If all goes well, we will be back in the Chicago area in late July to see our doctors, catch up with friends and family, and make a decision on a retirement location. By the end of this year, we hope to be vagabonds no more!

Looking back at the last post, I’m afraid it may have left you with the impression that we don’t like San Diego. We love San Diego, but our focus is to live in another country. Plus, the cost of living in southern California is quite high, so things will have to change dramatically for us to retire here.

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Lots of Navy people attend this church. The design of the sanctuary is that of an old sailing vessel, upside down. The roof is the ship’s keel. 

There are lots of great things about San Diego, though. One of them is not even in San Diego — it’s St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, the “Church of the Voyager,” on Coronado Island. We’ve made some good friends at St. Paul’s and have learned a lot from Pastor Robb’s sermons, like his current thought-provoking series on the Gospel of John. Anytime we’re back in San Diego, we will return to St. Paul’s.

I’ll close with this: Stephanie’s Christmas gift to us was tickets to the musical “Hamilton”! All three of us went on Thursday, Jan. 11, to the San Diego Civic Theatre. Wow! This is the best show I’ve seen since “Les Miserables,” which is my all-time favorite. The music, the staging, the singing, the dancing — all just incredible. I’ll admit I was prepared not to like it because I’d heard some of it was in rap. But the rapping was like the recitative, or spoken words, in opera. It worked really well. I highly recommend “Hamilton.” Go see this one, it’s definitely worth the price!

The music is the real star: songs like My Shot, The Room Where it Happens, and Washington On Your Side, just to name a few. They’re not tunes you can hum while walking down the street, though. They are rich and complex, like fine wine. One of the most impressive things about this musical came after the last notes died away. The entire cast took a bow together. Curtain calls didn’t start with the minor characters and end up with the stars getting the most applause. No. The cast appeared at the end as equals, no matter what role they had. It made me think about Mr. Jefferson’s eloquent words, “…all men are created equal.” Too bad we have drifted so far away from that idea.

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The Civic Theatre is an excellent venue. Decent seats and good sight lines, even from the upper balcony. We could see the dance moves well from up above.

 

*We use San Antonio-based USAA (United Services Automobile Association) for car and home insurance, life insurance (Mike), banking and investments. In fact, I’ve never had any other brand of car insurance — over 45 years with the same company. The bank and investment services are available to anybody, but the insurance is sold only to current and former military officers and certain non-commissioned officers. The company offers many additional services to members, including a car buying service and a travel agency. If you ever served in the military, go to their website to see if you qualify to become a USAA member. And no, they didn’t pay me for this advertisement!

Worshipping With Wesley

We decided to go to church Sunday. Surely there’s a Methodist church somewhere in London, right? So we rode the Tube to 49 City Road and attended the 11 a.m. service at Wesley’s Chapel. Yes. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, built this church and preached here until his death. Here we are, shortly after the service ended. Our good friends at Grace UMC in Naperville will appreciate this the most. Today, we walked in the steps of John and Charles Wesley.

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This is an amazing place. Roughly half the congregation is African, many of the rest would fit right into the Forum Class at Grace! Being here was awesome. The Rev. Jennifer Potter gave an excellent sermon (not as good as Pastor Cindy, though!) from the high pulpit. In Wesley’s day, the pulpit was three times higher than what you see behind us here. That was so Wesley could see everybody, including those in the balcony, and be heard by all.

Following the service, we had coffee with some of the congregants. Wouldn’t be a Methodist church without coffee, would it? Then we went on a tour  with other visitors, including a group from Idaho. A volunteer showed us the church, the Methodist Museum, Wesley’s original Foundry Chapel (next door to the current church), Wesley’s home and his tomb. I won’t take up space here with details. If you want to know more, go to www.wesleyschapel.org.uk. The church was closed for a number of years and has been changed significantly from what Wesley built in the 1700s. For example, there were no stained glass windows then.  I’ll just add that it was pretty cool when I was able to stand in the same pulpit that John Wesley preached from. Wow!

Here’s that pulpit from the Foundry img_1071Chapel, now in the Methodist Museum. What’s still in the original chapel is the organ Charles Wesley used to write many of the hymns we still sing today.

In Wesley’s house, we saw the parlor and study, along with Wesley’s bedroom. All the rooms are very, very small. Much like the hotel room we’re in right now!

Here’s his study, complete with the chair he used, a replica of his preaching robe and the grandfather clock originally owned by Wesley’s parents. Notice that the chair is designed to be used as a normal chair, but Wesley also sat backwards on it so he could place a book on the img_1086small shelf, making study easier. The tour guide pointed out the size of the robe. Really short. Wesley was quite short, even for people in the the 18th Century.

Finally, here’s a shot of the church.img_1089