Club for fiftysomethings offers lodging in members' homes
Travelers 50 years old and older might want to look into a great way to meet like-minded people and travel inexpensively by joining the Evergreen Club, www.evergreenclub.com.
Membership allows you to stay in the extra guest room in thousands of members' homes, primarily in the U.S., but also in a few places abroad. The requirements state that you must offer your home in their listings, but you do not have to host unless it is convenient to you at that time. There is no minimum number of visits for those hosting. There is a three-day limit for travelers, and a small gratuity ($10 for single travelers, $15 for two in one room) paid to the hosts.
The host provides a bed, a hearty breakfast, and an hour's conversation. If hosts have more time, they often help the travelers by offering maps, guiding them, having them to social events, etc., but these activities are not required.
It costs $60 per year for a single membership, and $75 for two. The first year of membership, the fee is less: $30 for a single, and $37 for two. After joining, a member gets a directory, and makes arrangements with possible hosts directly. The organization requires a photo of your home when you join.
Escapes Unlimited, www.escapesltd.com, is a travel company that specializes in low-cost but good-quality escapes to Asia, Central America and South America. Arthur Frommer has written enthusiastically in the past about its value and management.
A recent seven-day vacation special on the site was a Bali Special on Singapore Airlines, departing from the West Coast for $799, including airfare, hotel, breakfasts and a village and temple tour. Taxes and airline fuel surcharges are extra. One can upgrade to a fancier hotel or extend up to 45 days.
Founded by social worker Roe Gruber, Escapes Unlimited has been leading people abroad for 25 years with the goal of heightened social consciousness through travel. Fill out its online form with your travel dates, destination and special interests and it will get back to you.
"Puerto Vallarta 2008" is published by Fodor's at $17.95. The editor is Laura M. Kidder. This is an unusually good guidebook that goes beyond the usual listings of restaurants and activities to include background on culture, food and the history of the people who live here.
The section on mariachi music, for example, informs the reader on the most popular songs, band-member costumes and what they mean, the instruments used and where to hear the best mariachi music. It even tells you how much to pay for a song if a mariachi group comes to your table to sing.
The art of the Huichol Indians is another good section that gives a deeper understanding of the culture. It explains the sacred symbols in yarn paintings and beaded objects, and the role of votive bowls and prayer arrows in the rituals of the Huichol people.
In discussing the sea walk, or malecon, it not only mentions the many sculptures, but also names them, describes them carefully and gives each sculptor's name.