Showing posts with label travel health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel health. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2019

That Night I Danced with the Barmaid and other stories

The wine, krasi, as it is called here had flowed freely. The Greek music was a magnet; its pull, irresistible. Napkins tossed into the air fell like raindrops. 'Opa!' we called out. 

It seemed the entire taverna was dancing.  Katerina, the barmaid, was my partner. 
We whirled and twirled together.

It was during one of the whirls and twirls that I was supposed to go solo but I didn't know that until she spun me away from her, letting go of my hand. Instead of a graceful pirouette of some sort, I did a somewhat ungraceful full-body slide across the floor. My slide ended unceremoniously below a table where The Scout was sitting.  He leaned over me, asking, 'What ARE you doing?'

'Dancing,' I replied as I returned to an upright position and continued the fancy footwork into the wee small hours of the morning.

That was shortly after we'd moved to Greece as full-time expat's and I got the dancing out of my system that night.

Our travel bags are much larger than these  since moving to Greece

Last year, after The Scout had managed to pull our two over-stuffed suitcases from the baggage carousel at SeaTac (Washington State's international airport), I tried to roll one away from the crowded area when its weight shifted and instead of letting it fall, I held on.  Thus, I fell  on top of it, drawing stares and concern from fellow passengers. 
Aside from a bruise on my leg, the only thing injured was my pride. 

I've not told either of these stories to you before because they were, in my mind, just silly experiences that are a part of life. But recently I had another experience that got me to thinking about boomer travel and being 'older' ex pats.  I've been pondering the questions now for several weeks:  when are boomers too old to travel or to be expats for that matter?

Fast Forward. . .February 2019

As regular readers know, I turned 65 last July, a milestone birthday, which rebrands you as a 'Medicare person' in the United States. It is, now that I think about it, as much a right of passage as getting a driver's license at age 16 (the license was far more exciting).  Medicare, for those of you outside the States, is a federal medical program for persons 65 and older and younger folks with certain disabilities.

Several months before our recent winter sojourn to the United States I had scheduled an 'annual physical' with my doctor there to take place during our visit. Upon checking in I learned the 'physical' had gone out the window with my youth. I was slated to have a  "Medicare Wellness Exam".

Welcome to Medicare. . .

It quickly became apparent that little focus would be on my physical health but a great deal of focus would be on my mental health and my life environment (keep in mind my environment is rural Greece).

It started off much like a physical - height and weight measured, blood pressure taken. Then. . . oh-oh, a memory test. . .

Yes!! I knocked the ball out of the ballpark!  Score!!  The challenge had been to repeat and then remember, 'train. . .egg. . .hat. . .chair. . .blue' while I  successfully drew a clock with hands positioned at 11:10 and I named off as many animals as I could within 20 seconds (that is a lot of animals, by the way) But I remembered those five words - in order!

Boomer Expats: Square pegs in round holes

No handrails in this olive grove

Midway through the questionnaire that came as part of the wellness exam, I felt I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Especially the hole that helps define an 'old person' in the United States. We boomer Americans who've chosen a lifestyle outside the confines of our home country, really do live 'differently' from those back in the States.  For example:

Q: Does your home have loose rugs on the floor? (implication, you could trip and fall)
A: Many. We have tiled floors in Greece - those rugs keep your feet from freezing in the winter. And not all rugs sold in Greece have non-slip backings.

Q: Do your stairs lack handrails? 
A: I laughed out loud at that question. We have tons of stairs at our Stone House on the Hill.  And. . .many don't have handrails. That is just the way it is in Greece. None have them in our olive grove and  most olive groves don't even have stairs - we added these after we purchased the house

Rugs warm a winter's tile floor (cold even with heat on)

Q: Do you feel unsteady when you are walking?
A: Hell, yes! Our road washed out two years ago and hasn't been fixed - its surface is terrible. Not to mention many roads in this rural area aren't surfaced and every hiking trail in the area is one of uneven surfaces.

In rural areas everywhere road surfaces are uneven

Q: Have you needed or felt you needed help with laundry or dishes?
A: Okay, now I ask you, what woman in her right mind, no matter what the age, wouldn't like help with those two tasks?

I must note: My expat friends here of boomer age and I have had many laughs when I tell them about this line of questioning. Because these same friends hike, bike, kayak, take yoga classes, swim . . .and dance as part of this lifestyle.

Back to Greece ~ Whew, feeling younger already

Shovels and pitchforks are workout equipment 
We returned to Greece the morning after that appointment. And although it has been two weeks, the memories of that 'Wellness Exam" linger.  I thought of them as I walked over the dips and rises in our storm-damaged road and thought of the many ways one (of any age) could break or twist an ankle. Again as I dug up the vegetable garden alternating between a pitch fork and a shovel I thought how easy it could be to have a heart attack. Again they surfaced  as I moved rugs in the house to mop the floors. And as I climbed the stairs hauling yard debris to the lower level of our grove where the burn pile is located - not a handrail in sight.

Stairway at The Stone House on the Hill
I pondered the possibility that they might have planted a seed of fear, but then decided those pesky questions did serve a purpose: they've made me appreciate even more our decision to live differently; to dance, to travel, to climb stairs without handrails and to walk on uneven surfaces for as long as our old bodies and minds allow us to do so.

And you know what? To the questions: 'Have you fallen in the past year?' and 'Are you worried about falling?'  I answered, "No!" I have far more things to worry about -- like renewing our residency permit - than that!

Springtime has come to Greece

That's it for this week. Spring has come to Greece and with it, new projects at The Stone House on the Hill.   I'll tell you about them next week so hope to see you back here then.

In the meantime, what do you boomer travelers and ex pats think about the impact of aging on your lifestyle. . .or do you think about aging? Leave us a comment below or shoot us an email.

Linking this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday



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