hellofellow.com – The community for your stay abroad!


There are so many superb sites for nomads/flashpackers/wanderers/ramblingrrls like me it’s truly inspirational. There are other travellers (in the true sense of the word as opposed to tourists) out there breaking new trails and discovering new frontiers.Thus far, I don’t know…yet…anyone who is doing exactly what I am doing mas o menos by choice AND/or financial situation but perhaps one will surface at some point.  Just like those Canadian enhanced drivers licences, I feel that I am an enhanced snowbird not only taking full advantage of the opportunity to extend my partial teacher’s pension but because I involved in the life and times of the neighbourhood and locale but I’m also a voluntario for special events like the SMA International Literary Festival or teaching English at the SMA School of english on Cale Recreo in Centro..Last winter I taught English at Jovenes Adelante.



There ate full time travellers like the Professional Hobo, condo/resort or time share owners who stay in gringo enclaves the whole winter in the same place year after year…yawn… and then there are those adventurous souls who just say, WTF, I m selling everything and moving to a foreign country with two suitcases as an expat.  Betwixt and between both ends of the continuum here I am with a six month Mustang convertible in a garage for the winter and my worldly belongings ready to pack up and move to yet a new place or storage locker when I return in May!

I ve downsized three times and I m positive that I can get the ‘stuff’ down even more!  Naturally, I say this as I ponder walking through yet another wonderful artisan market here in Centro San Miquel de Allende.  The Professional Hobo woman is obviously not a shopper if she travels the world with only a carry on case! I m just not there but over my four winters as a snowbird I ve whittled things down to what I hope is a manageable amount of luggage come the end of April.

Whenever i start talking or writing about the all encompassing STUFF that chokes our places, basements and garages I always think of the late, great Georg Carlin and his roll on the ground laughing / rotgl? performance about stuff. No matter how many times I see it, I just laugh my proverbial head off/ lmao?


What I am currently exploring is a bi country retirement lifestyle as a viable alternative to staying somewhere in the winter where it is ccccccold and ssssnowy or gray, gloomy and rainy like either the interior of British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley where I lived for about 20 years or where I am now in Nanaimo on Vancouer Island. Why stay in  the gray and gloom if you don’t have to? So many countries abroad are actively courting us babyboomers with jubilada/o descuentos. And there are the dental and medical savings that probably pay for your airplane ticket!

For example, tomorrow I’m getting my eyes checked and have picked out a kickass pair of Carolina Ferera frames for my ( ‘old lady’…not!} glasses. Well, NOB, I would never consider these high end designer frames but here they are about half the price including the eye examination. And then there’s the hair factor. On Canal Calle here there is a fantastic hairstylist at La Coiffeur who is THE best colourist around NOB or SOB! It’s getting time to get those gray roots foiled and Juan who was expertly trained in Mexico City is the best of the best!

This year I left on Noember 30th exactly ONE day ahead of the first snowfall. I stayed in Nanaimo to participate in NaNoWriMo and finally write my first…and I dare say last 50,000 word novel. It’s a whole lot harder than I had imagined and I discovered that I’m a much better blogger and documentary filmmaker than fictional novelist or fictional playright. There’s so many wonderful stories out there just waiting to be discovered and yes, EVERYONE, yes everyone has a fascinating backstory!

Statistically, Nanaimo has more rain than Victoria but less than Vancouver at 71 days on average. But this week i discovered that omg, Portland has about 164 days which is slightly more than Seattle at 149. No wonder it’s such a hotbed of arts and culture. It’s raining all the time!

Note to self: Check out the series Portlandia. It seems like a hotbed of arts, music and culture and alternative culture.


4 thoughts on “hellofellow.com – The community for your stay abroad!

  1. Hi Joanne! I’m enjoying your blog and especially for the reason that I remember you as a teacher from the Naramata school when my son was a student there. We lived in Naramata for about 14 years and now I am living in Nanaimo and working at Vancouver Island University.
    Your retirement lifestyle is so similar to my plan for retirement although I still have three years before it happens. I love Mexico and have travelled a bit around the country. Maybe we will meet when you return to the Island. I belong to one of the Meetup Groups here in Nanaimo.
    Enjoy your stay in Mexico…it’s very cold here on the Island at the moment.

    Hasta luego!
    Anne Kivari

    1. Hola from San Miquel de Allende!

      What a lovely surprise to hear from you and gracias for the feedback on my blog. I just got back from the SMA Literary Festival where I volunteered as an usher. I got to hear all the keynote addresses including our very own Yann Martel, of Life of Pi fame and Laura Equival, author of Like Water for Chocolate. Absolutely, I’d love to go for lunch or coffee and chat. That’s fantastic that you were able to get a position at VIU. I only moved to the Harbour City on July 1rst of 2012 but love living there when the sun is shining. Just don’t like the gray, gloomy, gray days much like in the Okanagan. And now being a muy feliz jubilada (great word isn’t it?) I just don’t have to! I sold my character house on the corner of Wade Ave E and Braid Street downsized three times and currently what’s left of my worldly possessions are in a 10 by 10 storage locker. I struck out twice on rentals in Nanaimo and simply cannot live in a basement suite after having a house with windows in all directions.

      IF perchance you know of someone who is seeking a tenant and has a suite that can be sublet or simply used by the landlord when I’m gone so I don’t have to pay rent on both sides of the border please let me know. I’ll be back in May. I’m current running an ad in kijii under the shared accomodation section for kind of a ‘golden girls’ situation whereby the rent is shared equally but adjusts when one person leaves and the other person has the run of the household. I think more and more boomers are just finding that everyone living on there own in side by side houses or condos in isolation at a certain age is just not that interesting or financially sustainable anymore. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be house poor. That’s why I invested my house money for when I am REALLY creaky and old and cannot wander the world anymore. For now, I like renting a modest but comfortable place. I also have a Mustang convertible that I only insure for six months a year and is currently in a rented space in a garage. Hence, I’m looking for a place with good bus connections when my car goes into the garage for the winter. First year I was in Ajijic for four months, liked it so much I booked an apartment the following year for five months and then this year I thought I’d try San Miquel de Allende.

      I am a member of the 40 Plus Womens Meet Up and the Women of Excellence and the Travel and Photography Meet Up. I’ll be back in May to put my silver bullet Mustang back on the road for the road trip driving season!

      Hasta luego,

      Joanne Babiak

      1. Hola Joanne,

        It sounds like you are having a wonderful time in SMA and I am envious but I know it’ll only be 3 quick years before I will also be living the life! When you return to Nanaimo we will definitely get together for lunch or coffee to chat. The winter has actually been pretty good this year with more than normal sunshine days and much less rain. I’ve been here almost 7 years and this has been the best winter yet. I sure get what you mean about the gloominess here during most winters and I often refer to it as living in a damp cave. I also belong to the MeetUp Group for women over 40 and have done lots of different activities with them. Book Club, Yoga, Dancing, Dining Club and even got started in Zumba classes through one of the girls I met. That brings me to my friend Gail who I met at the Yoga and Dining group. She has a fair size ( half acre) property in Nanaimo with a small cottage on it that she rents out by the week or month but often it’s empty. I believe the last time I spoke to her she mentioned renting it on a more long term basis. It is self contained but I haven’t seen the inside yet. I will speak with her soon and see what the status of it is now. Not sure what the rent would be either but that would be something netween the tenant and Gail. The property is across the road from Westwood Lake. I will also have a look on the VIU employees message board for rentals. Stay in touch with me and we’ll get together when you return to the Island.

        Cheers, Anne McKenzie Kivari

        On 16 February 2014 19:19, Snowbird Soliloquy

      2. Thanks for the possible lead on a place to live. It seems like there is quite a high vacancy rate in Nanaimo so I’m not too worried. I’ve had a couple of rental strikeouts in terms of location or lack of soundproofing in an illegal basement suite so this time I want to get it right. After being a home owner for 17 years, I’m really seeking a pm place that feels like a real home and one that I can sublet for five months when I am south of the border. I’ve got a housesitting gig in May when I return so I’m looking ahead to June 1rst. Since I don’t have a full pension, I just can’t pay rent on both sides of the border. I had to last winter because I couldn’t find a sublet who wanted to live in the southern suburbs so I know that location is very important with a high vacancy rate. Well, in any case, thanks for the comments. As they say, ‘We’ll do lunch when I return!’ Buenas noches from SMA! Joanne

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