Friday, September 12, 2014

A Woman's Heart is an Ocean of Secrets

Hey all,

I just got back from the most amazing trip to the coast.  Every once is a while I just need to get out of the city and breath fresh air.  And the scent of salt as I walk the beach is truly the way to my secret heart.

Sometimes you find a great little place on the ocean that you'd go back to again and again.  When we were in Brazil, we discovered Ilhabela Island, a great place to dive and a cute little community that I could have spent days wandering around in.

This time we discovered something very different, yet just as wonderful.  In the Los Vilos region of Chili on the coast, there is this tiny little town called Pichidangui. (see photo above of bay)  It is so small you may blink and miss it, but that's part of it's charm.

More a summer location (I'm assuming this because there was NOBODY there) it was still one of the nicest and friendliest towns we've visited.  They had a lovely boardwalk, some terrific restaurants and one of the best dive centers we've seen.  Ever.  In the whole world.  And that amazed us.  This great little setup in this small town.

Jonathon taught a couple of dive classes which is why we went there, but I'd go again just to wander the coastline and listen to the sound of the ocean crashing against the rocks.

We found a house with a view of the bay and several of the Cirque people stayed with us.  We had a fireplace, a BBQ, three full bathrooms (thank you, God) and everything except towels.  (And what was up with that?)

We got there Sunday night, dove on Monday and Tuesday, then came back to Santiago on Wednesday.  We had a wonderful time with friends and I loved going off and wandering the town and rocky shoreline.

There were pelicans everywhere, doing the Jurassic Park flyby all day long, as well as sneaking up on unsuspecting fisherman and stealing their catch.  In the bay we watched Humboldt penguins swim and splash.  There were also the biggest bloody seagulls I've ever seen.

But it was the scenery that really rocked my boat.  The rocky coastline really reminded me of the Oregon coast, which I adore.  I'd still love to have a place there.  I took hundreds of pictures--both coastline and sunset.  And the views were so gorgeous, it was difficult to take a poor one.  Check these out.

The view from our porch.  We could see the penguins from here as well as watch the boats go out.

 Sunset the first night.  Not a bad view from our front lawn!

 An old shack on the rocky beach south of town.  You can see the mudflat beach in the background.

A part of the boardwalk and the main beach.  Not sandy, more muddy, but not a shell or clam to be seen.  Kinda disappointing, really.  I love to beach comb.

One of the prettier areas of the coastline.  And the water was such a beautiful blue.

What I called Sunset Point (see my profile pic on FB) was a beach that was nothing but rocks and boulders.  It had beautiful tide pools, critters and pounding surf.  I had a blast climbing the rocks and doing some "beach" combing.

A day view of Sunset Point.  The tide is out here, but the surf was insane!  We sat for a long time just watching and listening.

On the other side of the promontory is this lovely walking path along the cliff side.  Flowers, plants, benches and wonderful views offer a quiet spot to reflect or recharge.

Another view from the walking path.  While the weather wasn't too good in the mornings, by mid afternoon, it was clear and beautiful.

 A quick look at the living room of the house we rented.  Comfortable, pretty clean and it had views, a BBQ and a fireplace.  Perfect!

This was the sunset on the last day.  The same cove in the pictures above, but with all the colors of a gorgeous Pacific sunset.  

Anyway, it was quiet and beautiful and since we had the last night there alone together--romantic.  A little wine, a crackling fire, and the sound of the sea, made it an evening to remember.  And since I adore the ocean and everything about it, the whole weekend will be one I never forget.  As Jacques Cousteau said, "The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."

And I, for one, am very happy to be it's prisoner.

Take care until next time.

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are You a Pufferfish or a Swordfish?

Hey all,

I know the title is a little weird but it's my way of slipping you into one of my mad moments of traveling.  I thought you'd all enjoy what happened to me one day on the way home from the movies.

Before I do, let me remind you all that I am a writer.  Which usually means I work alone.  I'm much happier wandering alone in the woods than pushing my way through a crowd, even if it's in a beautiful interesting city.  In fact, I'm of the belief the world would be much better place if there were fewer humans in it.  LOL

So, knowing I don't play well with others, understand too that each time I go out into a crowd I would much rather be climbing a mountain or wading in an ice cold stream.  Alone.

But to do some things I have to go out into the world.  And I've learned to suck it up and make the best of it.

Now for the story...

As you know, we don't have a car down here so we take public transpo.  Mostly metro and it's usually a nice way to get from place to place.  The buses are okay, too, but it's difficult to know when to get off since most cities don't have their bus stops marked on maps.  (idiots)

So, the metro for us 90% of the time.  And we've learned NOT to take it at certain times.  Like when everyone and their brother are getting off work.  But we thought we were safe when we headed down to the metro last night around 6:30.  An hour and a half (we thought) after work day's end.


We should have known when we saw all the ^%#*^$%& people in the station.  But we'd been walking all day and were tired.  We didn't want to walk the mile back to the hotel, so we got in line and headed downstairs to catch the subway.

Sweet Baby Jesus there were soooooo many bodies.  Everywhere.  Pushing and shoving and looking at me.  Like they thought it was okay to be in my space.  I hate people like that, you know?

We had to wait three times to get on a train.  Though part of that was me just watching in amazement as grandmas older than dirt pushed their way onboard.  It was like a Youtube video of those places in India.  Truly scary.

We only got on because a completely empty train arrived.  Jonathon said they had to do that every once in a while or no one would get home.  So on we jumped and since we only had a couple of stops to go, I thought we were in the clear.  No worries.  How much more crowded could it get?

I'm not sure if it was all the popcorn I'd eaten at the movie or I was just having a major blond moment, but I was a total idiot.

The next stop I swear, a thousand people got on.  Crowding and shoving.  Luckily, I saw them coming, so we scooted over next to the door so we'd have it easy when we wanted to get off at the next stop.  We were so crowded I swear I could see up the nostrils of the guy standing next to me.  And I REALLY hope that was Jonathon's hand on my ass.  Really, I'm going to believe that.

But we were in and on our way and all of us holding our collective breaths.  I thought again, how much worse could it be.

Did I mention being an idiot?

But this time it wasn't the crowd around me.  When the subway came to a stop and we made to get out, that's when all HELL broke loose.  And I swear it wasn't my fault.


The car stops and the doors open and there are like a gazillion people waiting to get one.  Jonathon slides out and I follow him, but before any of us are out the door, this heifer of a woman tries to force her way in between us.

Oh no she didn't!

Really?  If you want room to get on, let ME get off first!  But not this cow.  She was pushing her way in and I must admit, me and my friend claustrophobia just snapped.  I couldn't puffer fish (think what a puffer fish does and you'll see what I mean)--we were all too crowded, so I did the next best thing I could to stop her from forcing me back onto the train.

I made like a swordfish and kinda poked (elbowed) her in the face.

She screeched and backed up and I took immediate advantage of her lapse and scooted around her before pushing her back into the multitudes.  I think I heard her curse at me before she was swallowed into the crowd.  I tried to feel bad about what I'd done, but at  the risk of sounding like an eight year old, "SHE STARTED IT!!!"  As the train pulled away, I saw her staring at me through the window.

Honestly?  I think her face looks much better that way.  All swollen and red and bruised. Maybe she'll think twice about being so damn rude and pushy.  And I bet she won't ever mess with THIS puffer / swordfish again.  Stupid, stupid heifer.  *grumble, growl*

Hey!  Maybe with my mad skills I'll take up roller derby?


Until next Friday!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Little South American Signage

Hey all,

It's been awhile since I shared some of the funny signs and art I've seen on my travels, and since I'm a bit rushed today, I think it's time I do so.  It seems both Argentina and Chili have one that make me smile.  So enjoy!


These top three store signs are all funny on their own, but put them together and they're a real hoot!
The first belongs to a convenience store, the second a market and the third a clothing store.

Really?  Whoopies?  What do you think this store is all about?  It's not what you think.  *grin*  It's a juice bar.  LOL

 I've heard of happy meals, but having this as the name of your restaurant is probably not the best marketing tool on the planet.

And it just me or is this a bit more than wierd?  Meerkats dressed in hotwater bottles? I know it's a winter (invierno) sale but just hmmmm.  Although I have to admit the stocking caps are kinda cute.

Just a few more examples of the fun signage around the world.  Every time I turn around I find more, so it won't be long until you get another blog of giggles!  I hope you enjoy each and every one!!! Until next Friday!!!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 22, 2014

Head South and Straight On Until Morning!!!

Hey all,

We're here in Santiago, Chili and I finally have working internet.  The hotel upgraded things a bit and Jonathon worked his magic with the rest and now I can at least get on and work without it being so slow I want to scream!!!!

Chili may not be known for it's good internet, but I have to say, so far I'm loving the other things here.  The Andes are all around us and they're gorgeous.  I look outside my window here at the Sheraton Hotel and I see all these beautiful snow-capped mountains.  One of the best views we've had on tour!!!!

I thought I'd take this week's blog to share a little of what we've discovered here in Chili so far.  We've been here about three weeks now and have already had so many adventures.

The first week Jonathon worked setting up the show while I put our house together.  Then we had three days off and we took advantage of them by taking a road trip.  We didn't know exactly where we were going...we just pointed the car south and drove.

And wow...we had a great time.  While the first part of the trip wasn't all that--the road south went through an area that was pretty boring--by the end of the night we had arrived in a part of Chili that was absolutely breathtaking.

We wound up in the Araucanía region of Chili in the town of Temuco.  It is the very most northern tip of the Patagonia region, but it's more known for it's gorgeous mountains, lakes and volcanoes.  And it quickly became one of our favorite places on the planet.

We wanted to get as far into the mountains as possible, and since we'd gotten a recommendation about the same place from two different people in Temuco, we jumped into the car and headed to the small village of Pucón on Lake Villarrica.  (see sunset pic above)

This area is well known for some of the best outdoor sports around and sits at the base of an active volcano, Villarrica.  People actually climb it so they can get a peek inside, and while we'd have liked to do that as well, the winter snow made it impossible for us.

So, instead we drove through some truly beautiful countryside, enjoying the beauty of the area.  We grabbed a picnic lunch and hiked up to Tres Saltos -- a set of three waterfalls set in farm country beneath the smoking crown of the volcano.

Later, we wandered around Parque Nacional Huerquehue.  This area is one of the places where the native Araucaria Araucana flourish.  These unique trees are amazing and I hadn't realized until now they were native to Chili.

We ended our time out with a wonderful meal back in the village--a very interesting Chilean treat called Sopa de Conger.  It's soup made from conger eel and a local delicacy.  Apparently, it's NOT something tourist's usually order, because the waiter tried to talk me out of it.  He did everything but come out and refuse to bring it to me.  LOL  But hey...I loved eating haggis when we visited Scotland, so I enjoy "different" foods.

And I'm so glad I did try it.  While not as good as haggis, it was quite tasty.  A little fishy--more like eating fresh clams or mussels, but I enjoyed it.  Jonathon tried it and gave me the face.  He HATES anything that tastes fishy!

Curious as to what the eel the soup is made from looks like? See below...  Both are Conger Eels.  The paler one is called a Golden Conger and the darker one is called a Red Conger. (I know it looks black, but it's actually a red one.)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time.  The drive, the scenery, walking in the cold fresh air beneath a steaming volcano...all of it.  Not what we expected to do on our road trip, but sometimes when you play it by ear and just wing it, you discover something special that you would never have found otherwise.

And this time, we really did!!!

Until next week...

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Quick Note To Say Hey From Santiago!!!!

Hey all,

I'm writing this note to let you know I should have acceptable internet up and going the beginning of the week.  I can't stay online long right now without everything freaking out, but hopefully, once things get fixed I should be able to be online like I need to.

I just wanted to let you all know the status and to let you know to look for the blog and free read starting up again next week.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Backup Blog - What Is True Romance?

Hey all,

WooHoo!!!! We've arrived in Santiago.  I know I had promised you a blog about the Andes here, but unfortunately if you're seeing this, it means I wasn't able to get online to post my latest blog.  I'm writing this one here in Buenos Aires, just in case that happens.  We've been told that the internet isn't provided at the hotel we're staying in there in Santiago.  WTF???  In this day and age.  Ridiculous!!!!  

Anyway, this backup blog will have to make do until I figure out how to get online.  Maybe I'll do a bunch at one time, then head to Starbucks and upload them all at once.  *sigh*  What a pain.  But if you don't see me for awhile, you're forewarned as to why.  :-)

But until I do figure it all out, please enjoy this backup blog...


One of my favorite books that I’ve written is Eyes of Fire.  It has done quite well over the years and I still get fan mail about it.  It was the very first book I submitted, and as I've said, the reviews were fantastic.  Both from fans and reviewers.  I hope that everyone who has read it enjoyed it as much as I did writing it, because I think it's one of the most romantic books I've ever done.

Which leads me to our discussion for the day. What is romance and how has it changed over the years?

Now this can be a hot topic for some people, and those who read romance have strong opinions on the subject. At the risk of alienating some people, I too have a strong opinion, but I'm pretty sure if you've read one of my books, you'll already know the answer.

For me, Romance is a story between two committed people and will always , always, always end with a Happily Ever After, or at the very least, a Happily Ever Now.

Now I know that others feel differently, but for me, I feel cheated if a book that is touted as a romance, doesn't have these elements. I remember Nora Roberts said during an interview that no matter how the genre may change, an HEA will always be a must. And I have to agree with her.

I will fight to the death the right for authors to write any type of book they want, but for me as a reader, I want a happy ending and I always write what I would want to read.

So that being out of the way, what is it exactly that makes a book romantic? Sex? Emotion? Commitment? Love? Or is it all of the above.

In my humble opinion, a true romance book needs to have a couple who fall or are deeply in love with each other. While sex can be a wonderful addition to the story, I've read some truly wonderful books that weren't erotic in the slightest.
It's the emotion that drives a true romance book. Love, pain, angst, however you want to say it, we read these types of books to feel along with the characters. When the heroine weeps, we want to weep with her, and when the hero takes out the bad guy, we want to feel his passion and his anger. And when they finally celebrate their love, whether it's with a kiss or hot sex, we want to feel that triumph and satisfaction.

Has romance changed over the years? I don't think so. Not really. The stories are still about couples finding each other and falling in love. There are still problems and angst with them being together, and there will always be some type of resolution, that Happy Ever After I mentioned earlier.

The only difference I see is the way it's being told. Books are more explicit and sex is a big part of the equation. The types of couples have changed. True love can be found with those who are of the same sex. And now you can find true love with a vampire, a witch or a shapeshifter just as easily as you may find it with the boy next door.

Romance is the one genre that accepts everything and ignores nothing. Look around at the books available and you'll see a crossing of genre lines in our stories that is rarely seen in any other. I love being a romance writer because I can explore parts of myself and my imagination I might not be able to anywhere else.

So what do you think? What does romance mean to you? Has it changed in your opinion? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Hugs and have a wonderful weekend!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adios, Argentina!!!!

Hey all,

As you're reading this I'll be frantically doing any last minute packing before the luggage van comes and carts all our bags away.  I hate the last week of a city.  I always find more things to grab and I ALWAYS discover something else I just have to do.

But overall, we've loved Argentina.  It's a beautiful country, and we've only seen a tiny portion of it.  We've decided to come back in the spring (USA fall) and visit Patagonia.  It wasn't worth going now, everything is under snow and closed!  It's no fun going to a glacier and then having to see it through binoculars!  We want to get up close and personal.  So between South and Central America, we'll do a couple of jaunts before heading home for the holidays.

We're so lucky.  We've seen condors soar overhead as we nibbled on our picnic lunch.  We've wandered the pampas and seen bird life galore.  We've seen majestic churches, UNESCO sites in both cities we visited, palaces, museums, outstanding architecture and parks by the dozens.  

We've enjoyed delicious food.  From the famous Argentine Parilla (delicious meats cooked over an open fire) to seafood to die for.  I've enjoyed some damn good beer and Jonathon has really gotten the taste for Argentine wines.  

Our day out at the gaucho ranch was amazing.  Not many old broads can say they we're swept off their feet by a gaucho as we galloped around the arena.  The food, the open spaces, the beautiful horses and their friendly riders all made for an unforgettable day.

Just this last weekend we went to another habitat all together.  We took the train up to the Tigre Delta and had a tour on a small pontoon boat with the wonderful guide, Fer.  He took us everywhere, showing us this interesting habitat.  I could have spent all day out there just watching the wind on the water and listening to the sounds of the birds in the tall grasses.  

And the food?  Fer even fed us.  Some Argentine wine and thick steaks that were the best we've had since we got here.  And Dulce de Leche crepes for dessert.  It was a wonder the boat didn't sink on the way home!!!!

Add to that a lovely trip over to Uruguay to see yet more UNESCO Heritage sites and you can see why we absolutely love this country.  Friendly people, good food and beautiful scenery.  I'm already looking forward to coming back again.

We'll be moving next to Santiago, Chili!  We've heard this is another amazing place and from what I've found online to do, I have to agree.  So stay tuned for a blog next week on one of the things I'm really looking forward to...

Trekking in the Andes!!!  WooHoo!!!!

Until next time,


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, July 18, 2014

Libertad o Muerte, But Let's Eat First!!!!!

Hey all,

How have you all been since I talked at you last?  It's been busy, crazy and fulfilling here in Buenos Aires.  This is one of my favorite cities so far.

Today's blog is about one of the places we just visited.  Not Buenos Aires but a fun daytrip just a ferry ride away.  


It was a great time and while we would have loved to see more of the country by going on a road trip we only had a weekend, so we had to stay close.  We chose two cities to visit with a road trip in between.

We started in Colonia del Sacramento, a small colonial town about an hour's ferry ride away from Buenos Aires.  We took the early morning ferry, which was so easy-peasy.  Even going through immigration was a piece of cake.  The Argentine official stamped our passport to leave the country then handed it to the person sitting next to him.  Who just happened to be the Uruguayan official.  She stamped the passport to go into Uruguay and we were done!  EASIEST IMMIGRATION EVER!!!!

Once we got to Colonia, we got off the boat, picked up our rental car and drove around the city.  The part we were interested in--the older part--was so small we saw it by car in about five minutes.  LOL  But wanting a closer look, we parked and wandered.  It was a lovely little town with a lighthouse, several museums, pubs and restaurants.  The old buildings were my favorites.  I could have spent hours taking pictures of all the beautiful sights.  Here are a few to enjoy.

The Old City Gate--Refurbished, but still absolutely beautiful. 

One of the streets in Colonia.  The cobblestones are ridiculously hard to walk on.  

The lighthouse and the ruins from the old Franciscan convent.

The view from the top of the old lighthouse.  And yes, the river is that pale brown.

One of the old houses in Colonia.  They do love their colors and trailing plants.

 The cathedral and another one of the streets in town.  More cobblestones.

This tiny street is called Calle de los Suspiros (the Street of Sighs)  No one knows why it's called that.

Once we were done in Colonia, we jumped in the car and headed out to Montevideo.  We drove through the pampas--their countryside-waving at vacas (cows) and actually saw a few gauchos (cowboys) as well.

Montevideo is the biggest city in Uruguay and was supposed to have a beautiful old city flavor to it and we were really looking forward to it.  We got into town about an hour before sunset, so we were able to wander around a bit, then take the drive along the coastal route following the VERY long boardwalk called Las Rambles.  It circled the city from the port all around the peninsula.  I was impressed  It was beautiful.

The next day we got up early and headed out after breakfast to visit the Old City area.  Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain, but we learned a long time ago not to worry about such trivial things.  Enjoy the day, rain or not.

So we did.  Some of the city was quite impressive, but there were places that were pretty run down and scary looking.  It wasn't the prettiest or most interesting city we've visited, but it did have it's moments.  Check my favorite places below.

 The Las Ramblas Boardwalk

Sunset over the Rio de la Plata and Montevideo

City Gate Into Old City Montevideo

 Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral from Constitution Square

 Inside the Cathedral

 José Gervasio (The Father of Uruguay) Artigas Tomb and Monument

Statue of the General over the monument.

 The Original Bank of Uruguay

The Teatro Solis - A beautiful original theater.
While it wasn't my favorite weekend trip we've done on our tour, it was definitely an interesting place to visit.  And since I love old architecture and colonial buildings, I was very happy in our choice.

Anyway, on my next blog I'll have a topic, near and dear to my heart.  So until next time...Have an awesome week!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams