“A Real LOVE Revolution”!


Yo ho, Y’all!!

Happy Friday … and a T.G.I.F. (use “thank gosh I‘m friendly”, if you want to today!) to each of you reading.  I am full of fun today!  What about you?!?

Good morning!  Buenos dias, si quieres!  I am hoping that your week went by “without incident”.  What a phrase, huh?!?  And as the baptist congregation might say, “Well!”

Yesterday, I had my third acupuncture treatment … “Helen” is good!  This time, she worked on my hips exclusively.  Sometimes, it feels like there is a person in there!  She told me that during the aroma therapy/massage sessions that I perform on myself (self healing), I need to talk to my body … the cells … the parts including muscles and cartilage … in a loving fashion!  She and I talked a bit about my childhood and my upbringing.  I shared that my father was strict and though I rebelled sometimes, I appreciated his concern for my life.  We didn’t always communicate so well, I told her, but I knew that he loved me …  Sometimes, I miss him so much … with his “tough love” approach to so many things.  He was my “original tough guy” … my hero … he had the cutest little chuckle when he was happy or laughed at a joke!  Only his God knows what that man has been through …

So, here I am after waking up early and falling in to my “session” by lighting a stick of incense on the nightstand and putting the essential oils on my hips.  I began a brief soliloquy which morphed into an appeal to my body to listen to me and hear me out.  I told it that I am feeling sore and perhaps haven’t taken the best of care of myself.  I thought about how much I need … and USE … my body.  I thanked it for its service in my life …  Shucks, Man … I have been a lot of places and done a lot of fun and good things in my life so far.  I don’t want to stop now.  I looked at the sun’s rays streaming through the front cabin window, noticed the swirls of incense plumes as they rose from the incense holder on the night stand and continued to apply the oils on my hips … one at a time.  I hope they understand …

Yeah, I was a hippy back at St. Paul’s and Princeton.  I always joked with the “boys” about how when I got older, sitting in a rocking chair somewhere on somebody’s porch, I’d be puffing on a “spliff” and telling stories of how it was when I was growing up.  I use to always say that I want my child(ren) to say, “My daddy was a hippy!” and still be proud of the things that I, their dad, had accomplished in his life … and share some “love” …  You bet, I am still a “hopeless romantic”.  Each time I have the chance to, I hang out with new friends by the water’s edge at Puerta Pirata, the popular vegan/smoothie joint at the water’s edge near the main street of Puerto Viejo.  There is a couple from Canada – Conrad and Debbie – who I have become close with.  There is a younger buck from Canada who does “handy man” work named “Joshua” who I hang with sometimes … like just last night on the “strip”!  Yet, I am still the same … pretty much able to do things on my own … no company necessary.  It is always a pleasure to see my usual friends, Barry and Nancy … Cleo … the “other” Nancy, a part time resident here in “Puerto” from Minnesota, as well as the employees/friends at Puerta Pirata … Daniel, Gino and Miraella!  They make some great smoothies … not to mention authentic vegan meals and specialties like tuna tartar.

I got an e-mail from the attorney yesterday and I am feeling decent about applying for my retirement visa in Costa Rica.  I want to keep this “love revolution” going!  I meet so many people from all over the world who say that their countries leaders are disappointing them, too!  Maybe it’s time … for a real “love revolution”!

Have a wonderful day and a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Take Good Care of Yourself …


Happy Hump Day, my “friends”!

It’s another beautiful day to celebrate and enjoy!  Sometimes, with certain “values” in place leading us like a carrot leads the horse, one may forget to look to the sides of the path we travel, noting the scenery along the way.  What a concept, heh?!?  I am enjoying the laid back “pura vida” or simple life style here in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.  I can track my banking by internet as long as I have WiFi so I don’t overspend, which is easy to do, with a foreign currency in your hands!!  When I lived and taught in Cali, Colombia for five years, I remember having to “juggle” the great number of bills and coins of the Colombian currency once my salary went from dollars to “Colombian pesos”.  Facebook, WhatsApp, and Outlook keep me in touch with those necessary … including you readers!

Of course, there are things that one has to get used to.  I was in shock at how persistent the mosquitoes are here … that’s right, mosquitoes!  I have an insect (mosquito) net over my bed which I kept trying NOT to use … You know, tough boy from New York can handle anything, right?!?  But NOT THESE MOSQUITOES!! LOL!!  The other night, I had a “dive bomber” style mosquito hunting me in the bed like I was its prey!!  I would see it faintly in the light disappear ….  Then … out of nowhere … and right next to my ear … I hear ” Hmmmmmm uma get you sucka!”  I pulled the blanket up over my head again until about 20 seconds later when I eased it down from over my head, I heard again …. ” Hmmmmm I got you sucka!” and BAM!!  It dove and bit me right on my forehead above my right eye!!!  I have learned more respect for nature out here, that’s for sure!  Now, I use the net over my bed for a MUCH more comfortable sleep … peace be still!

Okay, so last Saturday morning, I called Don Candido, the “Bri Bri” tribe’s “medicine man”, for lack of a better word.  I was supposed to visit him again and of course, it was raining “cats and dogs” …. Shucks, I thought I saw a cow coming down the drops were getting so big!!  I told Don Candido that I didn’t feel any difference after drinking the teas he had told me to drink for two weeks.  We chatted about continuing the treatment and I am bluntly honest – I don’t lie to myself much anymore nowadays …  I asked if he could give me a massage and see if that might help.  He laughed and told me to come in to visit him, no charge today!  I went …  We talked more about my “osteoarthritis” and he asked a few more probing questions.  As I answered, I remember having trouble shortly after I got my 2009 Jeep Compass following the motorcycle accident.  I had trouble getting out of the car … with my right leg wanting to stay inside.  I actually had to lift it with my hands and turn it out of the car and place the foot on the pavement below!  I couldn’t move it!!  As we talked more, I remember how I was catapulted from the motorcycle when I hit a raised curb on the curve of the exit in Ft. Lauderdale on Cypress Creek Road where I used to live!  Then I remembered how I landed … face down, helmet face guard completely scraped from the top of my head to my chin … and I landed with my hips open, arms wide to embrace the street, almost as if I was having sex with the street!!!  We chatted some more … Maybe it is NOT arthritis?!!  Maybe I can regenerate the necessary ingredients inside the joint to reduce pain and inflammation in my hips?!?  What a concept!

I finished the session with Don Candido in another part of his tribal medicine man’s cabin where he placed different size stones on my back and hip area, rubbing the flesh with the rocks in a circular motion.  He continued placing the the rocks, asking me what I felt as I lay on a small “massage bed” that would never pass the health inspection in the many countries … just sayin’.  We continued … he suggested that I NOT do yoga nor anything too strenuous while trying to heal the injury that occurred when I had the motorcycle accident on the way home from Capone’s Night Club after the Giant’s won the “Super Bowl”.

A few days before Saturday … maybe Thursday or so … I was visiting Nancy and Barry Stevens of “El Puente-The Bridge”.  I told Barry that the “vibration specialist” never followed up with me and that I was looking for someone serious to help me with some form of treatment to reduce my discomfort.  He went on line to a website called “Puerto Viejo Forum”, entered some information with my concerns … and maybe a half hour later, he received a message from someone recommending an acupuncturist.  Barry gave me the number, I called and had set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon after my session with Don Candido which I went to shortly after a light lunch.  It was quite the experience indeed!  I have had two sessions and am going for the third one on Thursday.  Between the aroma therapy deep massages “Helen” gives me before the acupuncture and my own “deep massages” performed on MYSELF  twice a day with an oil containing rosemary and other essential oils which she also provided, I am feeling hopeful.  Remember … I am not into lying to myself for ANY reason … especially involving a health specialist with MY health.  So … I will wait to see the results after 10 sessions … or as many as I “see fit” …

“Learning to love yourself … is the greatest love of ALL!”


John I. Cook, Director

“I’m Taking My Talents To …”

Happy Friday, All!

“Let me clear my throat, now … ” T.G.I.F.!!

It’s Friday … it is raining “cats and dogs” out here this morning!  Actually, there are some pretty productive rainy days in my own personal history so I shan’t fret much here!  I’d like to get a chance to go into the Caribbean Sea more, but the locals promise me that this is how “winter” is …  Patience is a virtue!

Some of you may be basketball fans of the NBA and may remember when LeBron James who was playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers but couldn’t win a championship decided that he was leaving his hometown.  He said in an internationally televised segment of ESPN or something like that … “I’ve decided to take my talents to South Beach!”  Some people were alarmed while others were happy.  Some people “burned” LeBron James’s jerseys (welcome to Amerika … land of the free … home of the freaking nutcases!) while others went to purchase season tickets for the Miami HEAT Basketball Team … in the same country!  Okay … I will leave that one there for now.  Can a professional athlete decide which team he wants to play for … or is there some sort of “unwritten ownership” rule?  Everyone got upset when another NBA star, Kevin Durant, left his team of multiple years in Oklahoma to play for the “Golden State Warriors”.  There is this concept emerging where fans actually feel that they are part “owners” of a player since they purchase season tickets and buy their jerseys.  Money makes some “mofos” think they actually “own” stuff … like other people! I will say it again … “WT@”!?!  (Note:  Fans didn’t destroy the basketball arena nor the owners house – they just burnt a player’s jersey … in public … like a lynching!!)

Where am I going with this?  Am I getting all worked up again?!?  NO!  I am writing … freeing myself from ignorance and stupidity!  This whole concept of “land ownership” seems to have gotten people into a state of mind of being like a “god”!  We look at the history of the world and we can see numerous cases where mere “humans” felt (feel) that they can own and determine the destiny of a “fellow human being” … by taking the land she/he was born in claiming it for themselves and stripping the “natives” of their natural human rights. The concept has spread to the point of becoming ludicrous … enough already with this “ownership” stuff designed, in my opinion, to “make” people feel more important than others!  I mean, that’s okay … whatever floats your boat … But don’t start looking at me with that “mad look” of “I own YOU!” (I had a few bosses like that my last few years of working stateside!)  I know, I know folks … I go in “hard” sometimes on America … just like Dr. King did … charging us to live up to what our “founding fathers” (some slave owners, too!) wrote in the Declaration of Independence.  Stop the hypocrisy!!  Or should I just sit back, keep my mouth shut, make my brain dumb … my eyes blind … and me ignorant … Or … do I say something?  Society may say: If “I” give you enough money and a house away from the “poor people we created in the design of our society”, will you keep your mouth shut?!?  It’s a rhetorical question, don’t worry!

Well, I am taking my talents anywhere I want to … whether “the peanut gallery” likes it or not!  And, I am trying to suggest to my readers to “think outside the box” and claim the rights that YOUR CREATOR laid upon you!  And, if anyone for any reason tries to take those rights away from you, you too can “take your talents wherever you want”!  For no one …. NO ONE owns you … except you.  I can think freer like this in Puerto Viejo … mainly because I am retired, and can accept a less extravagant lifestyle  that is “available” in the states … for a price!  I am humble and I am a warrior … “I am the storm!”

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

“One Day At A Time!”


Happy Hump Day … Yeah, Baby!

What’s going on in your part of the world on this part of your journey?!?  Are you aware of it?  How about … are you aware of yourself and your “part” or position in the big scheme of things?  Do you really HAVE a part?  Can you rewrite YOUR part?  I mean, this ain’t no “Hollywood Movie” … this is your life!  Sometimes after a long day of doing whatever I want to do nowadays … I sit back and briefly wonder about eternity … eternal happiness … or just happiness … The kind of thing that makes you go, “Hmmmmm ….”!

Just the other night, I was chilling in the cabin while the rain pounded the Caribbean side of Costa Rica listening to Wiz Khalifa’s “When I’m Gone!”  No! No!  Don’t worry!  I don’t have any “plans” regarding that part of “the journey”, but the contemplation session brought me “full circle” to the point where I decided I will do my BEST to enjoy every single day to the best of my ability!  Now, with that approach, I don’t put any “unnecessary” pressure on myself!  I am a strong believer in “mind over matter” and I am looking to heal myself from some of the “self inflicted” and “permitted” atrocities I experienced along the journey while participating in “society”!  You know … certain “elements” in society want me to “look at myself” in the way that is most convenient for “them”!!  Ha!  I am done with playing that part in order to “get to” retirement ’cause I am there now!

I got up early this morning after hanging out last night with an English student of mine who is also an “arts and crafts” designer, and some of her friends along “the stroll” on the main road in Puerto Viejo, close to the center of town.  The people were/(are) so interesting as I sat back and listened to their stories of how they got into making and vending “artesenias”, some of them traveling between the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica where the tourism is often very compelling enough to them to go there to sell their goods, and, the Caribbean Coast where Puerto Viejo is located!  My friend has a 4 year old son whom she takes care of “single-handedly”, brings to classes and work, carries all of his “personal items” like his tablet and colored pencils and paper while we work intensely on some of the things that will enable “Adriana” to increase her sales and take care of she and her son!  She is about 30 and is an example of the beauty and hard work ethic in some of the “Tico” women, as the people are called here.  Today, she is supposed to bring another friend to English tutoring this morning who is an arts and crafts specialist and also has a stand on “the stroll” frequented by the many many tourists here.

So, as I search for that personal balance in my life by engaging in a variety of activities, perhaps even yoga this Thursday with a third student and her boyfriend and friends, I am planning a return trip to the “States” next month to organize the required paperwork for “residency retirement” here in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.

Have a wonderful Hump Day and “Pura Vida”, as is the popular expression here in Puerto Viejo and Costa Rica!


John I. Cook, Director

Just Be


Happy Friday, y’all!

And if you don’t mind … I’d like to put my “four cents” in … T.G.I.F.!

It’s “The Weekend”, Baby!  All that I can tell you is that I am feeling “groovy” today … embracing memories of my buddy out of Brooklyn from St. Paul’s and Princeton … Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire … rest in peace, my brother.  We were team mates in basketball at SPS and running partners at both SPS and PU … We lost Jose in 2017 … and while I am thinking of it, I lost another childhood buddy, Robert Aurelius Hipp from “the Projects” and who also attended St. Paul’s, University of Wisconsin and went on to become one of the youngest regional managers at General Foods Corporation there in our hometown of White Plains, NY … Peace be still …

I have been settling in here in Puerto Viejo and learning to enjoy retirement … Yep, no “rat race” days that I always lose … no accidents on the way to work trying not to be late in Ft. Lauderdale traffic … no red and blue lights in the rear view mirror nor wondering what this “character” in the car behind me is going to do next!  Hmmm … Peace be still …  These past few nights, I had been sitting at the “breakfast nook” just outside the bedroom window … and I saw this small flying object … me being me … thinking it was a bat!  It flew right past my face, entered the property through the “nook” … went around back somewhere where there are lots of trees and foliage … and zoomed back past my face, onto to the street and into the night!!  I just sat still … So, this morning while I was drinking some tea and having a peach yogurt at the “nook”, this tiny thing zoomed past my face again … within inches … went into the backyard, swung a U-turn and came out and sat on a plant directly in front of me seeking its sap …  It was a humming bird!!!  We had breakfast together this morning!

I am learning to “just be”.  I don’t have to prove anything to anyone except myself … at least I am consistent with me … and I absolutely adore me … so just being is pretty cool.  There are moments when I catch myself daydreaming.  My favorite place to do that is Puerta Pirata Beach just outside of the smoothie/vegan shop located within feet of the water.  Yesterday afternoon after I had finished one of my volunteer English teaching sessions I have been asked by various locals to give them, I sat on a long tree limb just inches from the shore line and waited for the sun to toast me just enough to get into the almost “bath water” warm water.  The kids are out of school until February and the tourists are here from Canada, Europe and even Alaska.  Listening to the waves and watching the birds of various breeds flying and dipping into the water for their catch of the day has become a favorite past time!  Yet, I am sure that once I am able to complete my visa, the writing will continue!

Have a great weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

“Can You Handle It?!?”


Happy Hump Day, y’all!

“It’s another day in the international neighborhood!” … and I ain’t Mr. Roberts!  A little smile keeps me going for a little while!

As of now, I am enjoying the ambiance in Puerto Viejo as well as the “small town” nature of this Caribbean “pueblo” in Costa Rica.  I learned, educate me if I am mistaken, that the large Afro-Caribe population came to Puerto Viejo many years ago when Jamaican workers were hired to complete some construction projects there … and the Jamaican population stayed and grew.  It seems like “Bob Marley” is the figure most represented in the souvenirs in many of the shops!  Here are a lot of brothers and sisters of Jamaican descent who blended in and helped shape the actual “folkways and mores” of the people in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica.

It is a country that I think I could live in … of course, as well as to use as a travel base … and improve my health as well as my mental and spiritual awareness.  Two days ago, I contacted an attorney to help me with the paper work for “retirement residency” here which they call “pensionado”.  It was suggested to me that I hire an attorney to complete the paper work because ones chances are better with legal counsel.  I need to organize these papers – birth certificate, pension letter, social security card and US Passport – and they all must be submitted within a six month period.  I mean, every country has its own regulations to live there and the most important one is that a retiree can take care of her/himself financially and NOT become a burden to the government.  So, I plan to travel back to the States in a month or so and get the paperwork lined up that I need.

Today, I have an appointment with an alternative medicine “healer” to see if the vibration technique can help to regenerate the fluid and cartilage that is depleted in both of my hips!  Most alternative medicine practitioners seem to suggest that something in my thought processes may be causing the lack of production of these all important “ingredients” in the hip joint and proper functioning.  Shucks, yesterday, while I was swimming at Puerta Pirata, I re-met (I had seen them before but couldn’t remember their names) some young guys who had all three done a treatment performed by a Shaman here in Puerto Viejo who burns the skin of the arm in three tiny places and then places “frog venom” … yep, something poisonous from the frog (or snake in some rituals) … on each of the burns so that the venom can act to detoxify the body! …. That’s what I said!!! Wf@!!??  Now, I have been known to be a Nature Boy of sorts, but I ain’t “feeling” this approach to healing my hips.  The guys insisted that it “might” help with clearing the “blockages” that I may have which is causing the degenerative osteoarthritis that I am currently experiencing.  After, they told me about the swelling of the face, difficulty in breathing and the fact that one will expectorate globs of toxins while experiencing these physical challenges. So, I am going to take the “low road” right now because I didn’t come here to accidentally die from ingesting some poison, frog or snake venom!!

I have been fortunate enough to gain some “new readers” who signed up to follow me and Educational Excellence’s blog!  If you are one of those who would no longer like to receive these correspondences, please send me an e-mail with the word “STOP” on it and I will get the message!

In the mean time, have a great day!


John I. Cook, Director

“Fare Thee Well, My Liege!”

Happy Friday, All!

You already know how we do it ’round here!  “Put your hands in the air … and wave them like you sure ‘nough care!”  T.G.I.F.!  We live in a world where you can think what you want to think … and our thoughts are our “control panel” for our lives!!  So think awesome thoughts … especially about yourself!

“Pick and choose your battles, boy!”, my dad “Big Ike” often told me when I had gotten in trouble at school or had some issues at work in my younger years.  “You have to learn to walk away from some folks some times … they ain’t worth the trouble!”  It took me a little while … like fifteen to twenty years and a “lock up” to figure that one out …  I told y’all before that sometimes my Dad, “Big Ike”, with his “dropped out of school in 9th grade” education, spoke in parables!!  Here was a man who pretty much “self educated” himself by “bumping up against” things in life and figuring out the proper response.  He was one of those people who always had a newspaper in his hand as he sat back in his “easy chair” in our humble living room in Apartment 5A, 135 S. Lexington Ave., White Plains, NY after a long day of work on his feet with Pinkerton Detective Agency.  I often found my way to his lap as he sometimes taught BOTH of us how to read some of the more challenging words in the hometown newspaper, “The Reporter Dispatch”.

So, here I am in Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica … waking up to a third or fourth day of rain … I lost count.  It is not cold rain, though …  The surfers are still out, and the tourists and locals are still mingling in the streets at the multiplicity of “sidewalk shops” that adorn the streets and the beach.  It is quite the historical background for the blending of “Tico” culture, Jamaican folkways and mores, tribal remnants of a very proud people who lived in peace and subsistence in harmony with nature …  What a concept, heh?!?  I mean, it’s all cool to want to “harness nature” and control the world as some of our so-called leaders claim to need to do but we MUST NOT forget the “harmony with nature” piece …   In case you haven’t noticed lately this winter yet … NATURE RULES!!

I have decided to tackle “retirement residency” here after getting this pretty cozy cabin/apartment in an prime location of town … and for ME!  Two blocks to “Taxi Central”, three blocks from the beach and some oh so scenic backgrounds … and less than 50 meters to the store on the corner and the pharmacy/clinic next to it!  Wednesday morning, I had an appointment with a “tribal doctor” of one of the local tribes called the “Bri Bri”.  Barry Stevens had given me his name and number when we first met and I gave him a call the day after New Years as I sat at a beach side restaurant enjoying my first ever Caribbean lobster with coconut and some grilled vegetables and rice.  Of course, I had two pina coladas of an intense nature on the side!  Don Candido told me to be at “his office” at 8:30am the next morning.  I got a taxi from “Taxi Central” around 9 and got to his property at 10am or so.  Okay … so I dressed in some jeans, a typical shirt from Valencia, Spain, and some comfortable blue leather loafers I got in Barcelona for a sale price of 99 Euro.  When I got out of the taxi, it was still raining, and Don Candido met us at the gate.  He led me down a path through what could ONLY be called a “rain forest” complete with rain … and MUD!!!  En route to his tribal doctor’s office, which you can see on “Youtube” when entering “Tururuwak Herbal Medicine” (Mr. Robert’s Treatment), through a menagerie of plants and trees and leaves … and chickens … I felt like I was being filmed in a documentary of sorts!  In fact, one chicken was so nosey that it just jumped into the “doctor’s tribal office” while I sat there … and gave me the once over!!!

When I got back home, I washed my shoes in water and put some baby oil on the soft “baby butt” leather …. and then made my teas which Don Candido provided me with as part of the first visit with him which cost $50 USD.  I just finished drinking one of the teas that he suggested I drink in the morning.  Herbal medicine and alternative treatments don’t rely on prescription drugs and surgeries but seek to get the patient involved in their own treatment … from a thinking standpoint and a spiritual connection with ones own body, as well as the use of plants, herbs and natural treatments.  By now, some of you may be thinking that I am a little loco!  I have always sought alternatives to “taking chemical drugs” to heal my natural body, especially since some of them have the worst side effects!!  So, I will return to visit him in a couple of weeks and call him tomorrow to let him know how the teas make me feel!

Have a wonderful weekend, stay dry and warm … and lift each other up, y’all!

To view Barry and Nancy Stevens website for “El Puente”, the correct website address is: www.elpuente-thebridge.org.  Visit it today!

Provides educational assistance, food, microloans, and training to people living near the poverty line as a step toward self sufficiency. Includes information about …



John I. Cook, Director




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