Love Is . .


Happy Hump Day, Y’all!

What’s it going to be today … love or hate?!?  For me, that is a “no brainer”!  I have had my issues with disliking someone else.  I found that the more that I disliked them, the less I liked MYSELF!  The reasons vary but the first one is that I shouldn’t allow someone else’s “discontent” with themselves or with whom they think is “me”, alter my self esteem … self love … if you will!

For the love of life, why can’t we get this “human” thing together?!  Many spiritual thinkers, mainly because they are usually the only ones looking for a “fair and honest” social contract between society and it’s members, emphasize the importance of “loving thy neighbor”.  Now, no one said “get in bed with your neighbor”, just love them!!  It is a simple concept but most of our institutions of Western civilization, ahem … , don’t go far enough into seeking equity for ALL of the members of a “society”.  There seems to be more concern with setting up a “pecking order” or “caste system” where ones “role and self worth” in a given society is determined by people other than “the persons” themselves!

Well, I am going to keep it simple today, “short and sweet”, so to speak.  Big shout out again to Kelvin Carey out of The City of White Plains, NY who is helping me nail down the birth certificate that I need for residency with the proper seal from the City, the County and the State!  This is the kind of love that I am talking about!  Brotherly or sisterly love, so to speak, can move mountains.  I think back to the acupuncture session that I had with “Helen” this past Saturday morning.  She was giving me a pre-acupuncture massage and told me to think of the members of my family … those present and those past … and to ask them to help me heal.  I believe this is the spiritual side of acupuncture that sometimes goes unnoticed and unmentioned.  That whole morning was quite an experience … yes!  After I came out of “Helen” and her husband’s home, I was preparing to go to offer an English class with some interested Bri Bri Tribe members who attend Barry and Nancy’s “El Puente – The Bridge” soup kitchen offered to them by the aforementioned and “kind and loving people” who donate time and money (again, this is the type of love that I am talking about).  I decided that I would take a local public bus to save money since I had plenty of time, and NOT call a “Tuk Tuk” which usually runs around 4 – 5 dollars and the bus is $1.00.  As I approached the street and sat down on an old stone wall to wait for the bus, I saw a person across the street with a beautiful gown like robe on.  I said hello, she said hello, and we started to chat … right there on the wall!  I had seen her in Puerto Viejo the day before but didn’t have a chance to speak.  This time, we did!

One of the things that I also like about Puerto Viejo is that most people say hello as they pass by you walking or biking … shucks, even driving … down the street.  It’s a different atmosphere … open and peaceful … pret’ near loving!

Do your part too … “unconditional love” will find you …


John I. Cook, Director

Look For The Best In Everyone (and EVERYTHING)!


Yes, yes, y’all!  It’s Friday again!  I am starting to enjoy these days and nights here as they turn in to weekends … so … T.G.I.F.!

Our world in our times is probably the most complicated of many generations.  We … so called … have so much information at our disposal, and now, we need to determine if the information is “fake” or not!  How exciting!  There used to be a game show called “To Tell The Truth” … and that has become the most popular “course of events” nowadays is to figure out who is telling the truth let alone WHAT is the truth!!  Welcome to reality … we can make our OWN truths and don’t have to depend on anyone else to determine what our “reality” or “truth” is!  Yet, one has to be up for the occasion. One must have the willingness to explore … ONES SELF … to find out what ones role or “place” is in the … I’m going to get deep now … in the Universe or in this “lifetime”!  Y’all still with me?  Or did I loose a few of youse!?!

I don’t like to just follow people or “leaders” around and don’t ask any questions.  I cannot be blindly led.  You have to show me something … a lot … not just talk and disagreement.  Anyone can do that!!  Show me some progress, some results …. some changes, if you will, some positive results.  You all already know that I was a “hippy”.  We questioned EVERYTHING … the real hippies.  Some of us questioned “too much”, if you know what I mean.  But it got us in to questioning “stuff” – policy, information and national activities like the war in Vietnam …  We were NOT the generation that was going to be just sent off … to die!  What’s the reason?  What did these people do to us?  Is war the only alternative?

One other thing about us “hippies” is that we tried to look for the best in things.  During those times, all people joined together.  It didn’t matter your race, your gender, your physical build or your sexual preference.  It was “flower power” and “peace and love”!  Some of the world’s greatest “spiritual leaders”, if you will, emphasize the importance of “unconditional love” for each other … What a concept!!  Usually, I look for the best in people until they demonstrate that they do NOT have my best interest in mind.  Then, I drop them from my inner circle of friends and associates to avoid the possible damage or negative energy that they may be carrying towards me.  I remember times when people were actually trying to “challenge” or “harm” me or … put me down!  I tried to help them out by thinking that they were NOT really interested in “getting in my space”.  When they reject that option, I “cut them loose”.  I don’t need that in my “camp” … negative energy creates negative results …. Elementary, my dears!  I am strict with that regarding myself.  I caution and chat with myself when I see “sketchy” behaviour coming my way.  I analyse it, test or taunt it a bit, then … I decide the proper course of action … often rather stubbornly.

It’s okay … I am flattered to attract so much attention, but keep it “above the belt”, you dig?!  ‘Cause I ain’t no “soft hippy” … I am a loving hippy and one willing to defend my love for you and the universe, even if it means getting away from “you” so I can spend more quality time with “the universe” and all the lovely things (and people and experiences) it has to offer me in this life time.  What thinketh you?  Can you find “goodness” in an enemy?  Can you turn them around?  If you can’t turn them around, do the have the courage to utilize “tough love” and let them find out on their own?!?

My session on Wednesday with the massage therapist went well.  There were some contorted and twisted muscles that he found in my back, hips and knees that took a beating since I have been overcompensating for the discomfort present in my left hip.  Tup, who is from Canada – Alberta to be exact, and his wife have been here over 15 years now.  They have a spacious lovely “chateau” just outside of Puerto Viejo.  My achy muscles were somewhat relieved …. after he did the “pressure point” release massage in various locations, including my knees!  I am taking supplements like bee pollen and oyster shells as well as my natural blend of ginger, tumeric, pepper and honey in a tea each morning.  I do some exercises in the bed with my legs as well as at the beachside when I am there and I am “feeling” it.  I feel up for a swim today after a night of tropical “rain forest country” weather last night.  Sun’s up!


John I. Cook, Director

“It’s A Process . . .”


Happy Hump Day, Yeah!

Life … Aren’t we glad that it’s a process?!?  I mean, I know we live in an instantaneous “civilization” where the “faster” something happens, “we” think … the more exciting it is!!  Right?!?  Case in point … an amusement park filled with rides … filled with people screaming the loudest on the fastest rides, right?!?  Thank Creation that life itself … is not so fast … unless …

Right now, it is 7am in Puerto Viejo.  I woke up early because I have several things “to do”!  Yep, that’s right … retired man in the jungle has several things to do!  Well, yesterday, I met with “Dan the Man” for a complimentary massage session where he is practicing the new technique he just learned.  I am honored.  Today, I have an appointment with a guy everybody calls “Tup”.  He is supposedly the “master of deep tissue massage”.  Now, I don’t know if I can handle the pressure but Dan told me that he goes waaaay deep …. until it hurts …. and then some!!  “Yikes!  Cowabunga, Bat Man!  Eeeek, even!”  Well, I will be there at 11am … just up the road a bit … I will take a small car called a “Tuk Tuk” there and back.  Saturday, I will visit Helen again for my 9th acupuncture session.  I have learned that “natural healing” is a process.  “We” seek to do more than mask the symptoms, but to repair the body … if possible.  I am on this journey right now … here in Puerto Viejo … where time seems to “stand still” … unless you do something!  As for me, handling the “greatest love of all” – myself – is something worth spending quality time doing.

Well, I am in the very beginning of the application process for retirement residency here in Costa Rica.  I thought I had all the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed!  But NO … I got my birth certificate back in the mail … after following what I thought were the instructions …  ​but it turned out that I missed a “step”.  So, fortunately, I have a fine friend and former student in Westchester who actually works for the County of Westchester.  The County also has to place a “seal” on my birth certificate BEFORE Albany will place the “apostille”  or official seal of the State of New York on my birth certificate for a fee of $10.00 … and then send it back to me here in Puerto Viejo via a self-addressed prepaid stamped envelope from Albany …  Kelvin Carey is helping me with this “leg” of the process … and believe me … it is a process!  Kelvin and I spoke on the phone Sunday, I sent an e-mail or two … and I sent the entire package to him to get this seal on my birth certificate!!

So, like life, and I have been fortunate enough to get through some “major” parts of it, this too … is a process … and shall pass!  I am a detail oriented person and was encouraged by a gentleman at the “Migracion” office in San Jose to complete the process on my own.  Yesterday, I was in the Banco de Costa Rica, where not only did I have to take my hat off before entering, I need to open an account with them as well as pay a “fee” for each page stamped in my Passport . . .  Hmmmpppffff … Yet, I am on it!  I appreciate the fact that with my health challenges, I still have the gumption to take on this task.  Next month, I am planning on spending a day and a night in San Jose to get this completed.  Do you see the “process” yet?!  I do!  It’s called “life” … and we live it “one day at a time”!


John I. Cook, Director

Educational Excellence

Let The Goodness Show


Happy Friday, y’all!

Here we go … T.G.I.F.!  I thought of something different today for the meaning of “TGIF” …  thank goodness it’s free!  You like?!?  Yes, no … maybe??  Remember, I am a writer …  I can do these things.  What’s free in life?  A smile … a touch … a nod to say hello even … they are ALL free!  You can give them away anytime you want!  Maybe you will get one back … maybe not!  Just give from the heart … with no strings attached.  What a feeling!

So, I wanted to mention my friend “Tori” one more time.  She is twenty five-ish, Caucasian American, if you will, college grad … and a blogger!  We met up yesterday … by chance … for her last day in Puerto Viejo.  I remember meeting her mother and father who came to visit her here several weeks ago!  Her father was so cool … He commented: “I am glad that my daughter met someone like you here!”  I took that to be a compliment.  Anyway, here’s the hyperlink to “Tori’s Adventure Blog” which covers some of her thoughts on Costa Rica, her volunteer work here and some fabulous photographs of her adventures – Tori’s Adventure Blog!  Visit it, too, if you like.

It’s Friday and they have a big weekend planned here in Puerto Viejo as the community organizers have come up with an event which includes local musicians, artists, dancers and workshops.  I apologize because I didn’t get the name of the event accurate enough to let you know here, but it is taking place downtown (1 block from me!) at the “Multicentro/Centro de la Cultura” landmark building and there is a band shell set up just steps from the beach as well.  They have a men’s basketball “3 on 3” tournament starting at 12pm today, weather permitting.  I have been able to get in the “loop” of some of the local organizers who make these things happen.  They often work in conjunction with some of the many “ex-Pat” friends I have made here and really try to make a difference … for the PEOPLE who LIVE here … not just the tourists.  It is taking place with a variety of events, speakers, workshops and presentations from Friday through Sunday … and I will be there!

I got an e-mail from a local artist (singer/writer) whom I met at an “open microphone” session at the local club/bar/restaurant called “Lazy Mon”.  He also plays hoops, appears to be of “African” lineage (nappy hair, brown skin), well spoken and thanked me for “making myself known” to him as well as to the community.  I wrote him back, Christiano, and thanked him for such a pleasant and warm surprise in the form of an e-mail.  One thing that I always do, though I have been criticized for it in the past, is let my “love light” shine!  I have learned to “tolerate” the unhappy people who only want to be greeted once a day even though your paths might cross 10 times in a day.  I have learned to smile at them, too, even when they don’t respond … or when they turn their head away to avoid eye contact.  One thing that I like about the English speaking “brothers and sisters here” is that most of them who embrace our history as a people take pride in making eye contact and saying something to you like, “Much respect, my brother!” or “Blessed” or “Bless up, my sister!”  How welcoming and warm are these close encounters that occur multiple times a day!

There are many different types of people, tourists included, here in Puerto Viejo.  I am looking forward to spending the weekend with the local festivities, local market tomorrow as well, and to “let my goodness show”!


John I. Cook, Director

Embrace The Miracles


Happy Hump Day, y’all!

Can we do it today … I mean … is it safe to … come out now?!  No shootings??!  Peace be still …

Do you believe in miracles?  Tough question, right?!  Well, let’s be logical for a moment.  If you don’t believe in miracles, do you think that any miracles will happen in your life?  Heh, heh … “you” wouldn’t believe it anyway and would probably blow any opportunity to receive miracles in your life.

Trust me, I know it is hard to believe things … not to mention people.  Sometimes people lie right in your face!!  Oooo!  How low can you go!  Some people don’t seem to know any better while others just think that someone will believe their “lies” hook, line and sinker!  I find people like that very hard to deal with, in general.  Imagine falling “in love” with a liar!!!  Ohhhh!  You thought that you HAD problems before, wait until the “liar’s lair” is completely surrounding you …  Then, you will have some problems indeed!

Keep in mind that the “reality” that “we” live was created by another human being … several human beings over a long period of time.  Kind of like “brainwashing” … Some people will believe anything if they are “told” this information enough times over and over.  This is a time in my life when I looked prostate cancer in the “tumors” and decided that it is not for me.  I drank my herbal teas, I took my vitamin D and sat in the sun each day, I worked out as best I could … I’m done with prostate cancer!  If it doesn’t exist in my mind, how can it exist in my body?  Or don’t you believe that “one” can heal oneself with ones own mind?!?

Well, here in Puerto Viejo, as I wait for my birth certificate to arrive from Albany, NY with the necessary “apostille” for international retirement as required, I continue to work on “my miracles”.  I believe that I can heal myself … to some degree … with natural health plants and foods.  This tea I drink every morning seems to be alleviating some of the inflammation in my hip joints.  Coupled with the acupuncture treatments (I have had 8 now .. 2 more to go) and my intense and loving “aroma therapy (incense) and music therapy (jazz music for me!) self massages”, I am able to see some improvements in the range of motion in my hips.  I haven’t seen the massage therapist lately but I did go to the his office to request an appointment.  Yes, oh … and I sit at the waters edge … or inside my cabin as it rains a bit this morning … and meditate on the wonderful things in life … in MY life … in OUR lives!  How revolutionary, heh?!  I do NOT sit around and wish people “ill” nor talk about them incessantly.  I talk about ME … to my Creator and to myself … and to this vehicle for this part of my journey – my body!  I thank it, I tell it that I appreciate it and need it to carry me further … and I ask it to help me …  This for me at this time is “the journey within”.  I can’t think of a better setting to embrace these miracles than Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Limon, Costa Rica!

I have a friend, “Tory” I call her … short for Victoria, who just left Puerto Viejo for Utah after working in a “bird sanctuary” not too far into the mountainside from here, who also writes a blog.  In her most recent one, she touched on some of the “folkways and mores” of the interesting people who make up the population here.  There is a plethora of trash that accumulates over the festivities, and, the trash pick up is slow here, too … just like the sloths!!  Yet, it gets done … usually after the vultures and the dogs have gotten a chance to sniff out the things that they like first!  Jamaicans, Costa Ricans and some of the people from the native local tribes of the BriBri and Turuak all come together at some point or another on this tiny strip of magical land.  These people are able to intermingle their cultures and co-exist to a relatively miraculous degree here in Puerto Viejo.  I was reminded a few days ago that there have been a few killings of tourists with expensive cameras and equipment by  some “locals” as well as a few “crazy cases” where the “human drama of male and female” caused someone to be killed ….  I pretty much stay to myself and the wonderful friends that I have met and continue to be the “happy go lucky”, “say hello to everybody” John I. Cook that I like to be!  I think the miracles can find me here …


John I. Cook, Director

“It’s Just the Way It Should Be!”


It’s Friday again, Folks!

And around here, you know what that means!!  Yep! T.G.I.F!

Sometimes, no matter what we do, “someone” is looking for something wrong in what we are doing!  Why is that?  Can’t “they” find enough wrong with their own lives?!?  Perhaps … that is why “they” spend so much time looking at your “journey” … theirs might be boring … or troubled!  Or, “they” might be envious!!

Easter was not a big deal for me here in Puerto Viejo.  I liked seeing the kids from their own country enjoying the benefits of this lovely near magical place!  Here, I have learned even more to let “the small stuff” go and stay focused on the “big picture”.  I got a little emotional as I sent a Facebook message to my only child and her only child, Caleb Isaac, and got a little note back.  Of course, it meant the world to me …  peace be still.  I got some messages from some other cool people … like my boarding school coach and athletic director, Maurice Blake!  It was so warm as he wished me well seeing that I am settling in here in Costa Rica.  David Holt, a school mate from St. Paul’s, wrote me a cool response as well.  My little story and anecdote reminded him of some folks that he had met who were facing some life challenges, took “faith” by the horns and did “the work”!  Thanks for your replies and readership!  Yes, they too mean a lot to me …

So, life continues to unfold for me here as I am going on like the fifth month here.  Vee Fusilier, another reader and college chum, also sent me some info on handling the mold here in Costa Rica!  I still haven’t looked at my pin striped “John Weitz” suit hanging on the back of my front door … to see if it has any mold … I’ll do it now …  It’s fine!  It’s an all season wool suit … the last of the “recent”  suits that I’ve purchased over the years!  I take good care of stuff … I can keep nice stuff forever!  I am working out a writing schedule in addition to the blog.  Maybe I will do one blog post a week and spend the rest of the “writing time” on the manuscript.  I spend much of my time caring for my health in an active way.  I eat more anti-inflammatory foods and drink more healthy beverages, I am focused on alleviating the discomfort in these old hips of mine.  I have literally “disavowed” any traces of tumors in my prostate – as far as I am concerned, they don’t exist anymore!  Another faith based claim I am putting out there!  In many ways, Puerto Viejo is magical.  If something doesn’t go “my way”, I take a minute and step back to fathom why “it” didn’t go the way I expected … I then take a few moments of reflection … then move on to the next option of my “journey”.  I don’t try to fit square pegs into round holes anymore, you dig?!?  Too much work … and it’s not going to “fit” anyway!  It’s probably “just the way it should be” anyway!

In essence, I am appreciating my life more and more each day.  I say “thank you” to the universe and my Creator multiple times a day.  I am making some decent friendships, including the guys who play basketball every Wednesday at 3pm!  Oh yeah … and yes, we are TWO hours behind the States … and no … I don’t care!  It’s the way it should be …

Have a great weekend.


John I. Cook, Director

Check Yourself!


Happy Hump Day . . .

Can we still say that in … the states … where yet another shooting has taken place in California at the “Youtube” Office?!?  How many of “you” feel safe in your own homes … that you pay for, taxes included … to live in fear of the next shooting … who knows the “feck” where!?!  Me personally, I can’t take it.  I have been a “sitting duck” a few times in my life not to my immediate knowledge, but it is a situation that a black man MUST become cognizant of within seconds if he is going to survive.  Shooting and killing a black man in a wheel chair because he wouldn’t (probably couldn’t … nor did he understand why!) put his hands up … no weapon visible … is unacceptable under any circumstances!  Yet, we know as was the case in Miami, FL last year, a case worker was shot with his hands and feet up in the damn air … and he was black … and no shots were fired at the autistic young man whom the case worker was caring for, who was playing with a toy truck … and was not black!

Well, without much further adieu, I would like to announce the birthday of an incredible woman, author, spokesperson, activist, professor and many many more talents and skills … and she is an African American woman … Maya Angelou!  Kudos and Happy Birthday!  My mother would be proud to know that there is a woman like you who has risen to so many “heights”, so to speak.  We live in a “world” where people are afraid … of everything!  Of course, that fear resonates into uncalculated, uncontrolled and bizarre behavior which finds its way to the surface of these “already troubled” individuals who cannot adjust nor adapt to the “social structures” that exist in most western civilization value based societies.  Simply said, it is too much pressure.  People take blood pressure medicine, diabetic injections of insulin, a wide variety of medications for an even wider variety of illnesses generated, in fact, by the very form of our society.  Keep in mind, everyone cannot be “at the head of the class” ….  Some will “naturally” get “left behind”.  Yet, it is our society’s responsibility to its citizens … ALL of its citizens … to care for them in a humanitarian way.  This is something that I think is the highlight of Dr. Angelou’s life work, as she represents “humanity” on so many fronts!  Thank you!

Why is it that some of us cannot “check ourselves”?  Why do some of us think that we can say and do whatever we want … and then look for a “law” or loop hole to “cover” ourselves?! (George Zimmerman)  Why do some of us walk around, so to speak, with a “chip” on our shoulders?!?  Get in touch with oneself to find out why … what’s missing … and how to repair OURSELVES.  Those of us who cannot repair ourselves then should be surrounded with a network of social organizations to assist us in getting the treatment, care and if necessary medications (hopefully natural).  I have found that the natural peaceful untainted environment and “pura vida” lifestyle here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica allows me to “be myself” … and I am a pretty cool guy at that!  I live for peace and love, to connect with other “peaceful progressive souls” who can see the need for a “change” in our human growth and direction, if we are to save the species.  Maybe, we shouldn’t be “saved” … peace be still!

However you choose to look at it, look at YOURSELF first.  Then, once you’re done, if you still have breath and life, you can start to check others out to see what their areas “needing improvement” might be!

Enjoy the day, check yourselves … and be yourself, because you are you!


John I. Cook, Director

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