The Watering Hole Blog

San Diego with My Amigo

San Diego with My Amigo


lemurs in the sun
Lemurs basking in the sun, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, CA

 “As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination.”

– Gossip Girl

Isn’t it funny how friendships are forged?

I just got back from a week in San Diego with my good friend, Jackie. We had an awesome time! Lots of laughs, tons of walking, plenty of good chats, some great food and enough sightseeing to sink a battleship.

We crammed an awful lot into five days 🙂

MA & Jac with giraffes
Jackie & MA, San Diego zoo Safari Park, May 2016

Jackie and I first met in 2000 through very sad circumstances. Her husband was a police officer who was killed by a drunk driver on his way home from work. Jackie was 24 at the time and she had a two-month-old daughter. Three months later, when my police officer husband passed away, Jackie sent me a heartfelt letter with her condolences. We’ve been close friends ever since.

Although in the early years, we had a lot in common because we were both widowed young and so suddenly, we soon realized we also shared a passion for travel, reading, learning and animals.

MA & Jac in India
Jackie & MA, India, 2003

But the last time Jackie and I actually traveled together was 13 years ago when we backpacked through India. A lot has happened in 13 years. Jackie got remarried, had two sons and moved to Saskatchewan to start a ranch with her family.

As we all know, life has a way of becoming so busy that it’s easy to forget how important it is to take time off from our regular routines and responsibilities to just get away…see new places, meet new people and have some good old-fashioned FUN with a friend.

So that’s exactly what Jackie and I did in San Diego.

MA & Jac on rollercoaster
MA & Jackie, Manta rollercoaster, Sea World

Mind you, we damn near didn’t. On our first night, Jackie got the midnight call that everybody dreads – the one that begins with: “There’s been an accident…”

Her daughter, now 16, had been driving on the highway and swerved to avoid hitting a moose and ended up in the ditch – after rolling her truck. Thankfully, and rather miraculously, she escaped with minor injuries.

It was a powerful reminder just how easily life can change – or end – in an instant.

animal with heart shaped nose
I can’t remember the name of this ungulate but I love his heart-shaped nose

And so, it was with heightened sense of gratitude that we proceeded to explore San Diego. Between the San Diego Zoo, the Zoo Safari Park and Sea World, we saw pretty much every animal there was to see in the vicinity. More on that in another blog.

flower woman at balboa park
Woman in Balboa Park, San Diego – she is dressed as the winter version of Mother Nature
phallic cacti
Adorable phallic-shaped cacti with matching flowers 🙂

We hung out for hours at Balboa Park, marveling at the cactus garden. We went on The Old Trolley tour, which included a visit to Coronado Island. We loved the old Coronado hotel and the spectacular beach out front.

MA at Coronado Hotel
MA at Coronado Hotel, San Diego

We took public transit everywhere and got lost more often than not. But someone always came to our rescue and got us back on track. Mind you, we made such a loud fuss whenever we thought we were on the wrong bus, or had missed our stop, that I suspect people helped out just to shut us up 🙂

The original reason (okay, excuse) for our trip was so that Jackie could get some dental work done in Tijuana, Mexico because it’s significantly less expensive than in Canada. Seven long hours in the dental chair for Jackie (the dentist was very thorough AND he was training someone) meant a rather restful day on the couch in the waiting room for yours truly…which I dare say I needed by that point in the adventure.

MA in Tijuana
MA shopping in Tijuana, Mexico

Walking back over the border from Mexico into the U.S. was a real eye-opener. Not only is it one of the busiest borders in the world (we counted 26 traffic lanes) but we also noticed dozens of people – many of whom had crutches and artificial limbs – sitting against the wall. So I asked someone what they were waiting for.

“They’re seeking asylum in the States,” the guy told me. “They wait for weeks…or longer.”

This sure put our annoying two-hour wait into perspective.

At the airport I checked my e-mail for the first time in 5 days – and found out that my younger brother’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth, had passed away from throat cancer. She was a delightful woman and had absolutely loved traveling. In fact, we’d been out for a walk together just two years earlier – right before she was diagnosed with cancer – and we’d shared our bucket-lists with each other. Little did we know just how little time she had left.

Of course, none of us do…but sometimes it’s easy to forget that. And so, in honour of Elizabeth, I shall leave you with her final words of wisdom:

“Take nothing, and no one, for granted.”

– Elizabeth Thompson, 1953-2016

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.

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6 thoughts on “San Diego with My Amigo”

  1. I understand medical tourism is quite popular. I know even
    dental implants like I had done in Canada can be done for
    a better price in places like Costa Rica and Mexico. I am
    curious if Jackie is satisfied and if she would go back if she
    needed more expensive work done. My bill for 3 implants when completed was about or over 10 k in Canada.

  2. So happy that the two of you got to re-connect! Looks like you had perfect summer weather to do all that touristy stuff.

  3. Hi Jennifer…I think Jackie was fairly pleased with her Mexico dentist experience – but she went to a dentist that had been recommended by another friend. Medical tourism in Tijuana is HUGE business now…both dentist and other medical procedures.

    I will send you Jackie’s e-mail so you can get in touch with her about her experience. She didn’t think the fillings needed to take 7 hours to do but I think she found that the dentist was very thorough.

    Having dental implants done in the Mexico would be significantly cheaper than in Canada, that’s for sure.

    Take care,

  4. Hi Patrick…I don’t blame Betty ONE BIT for not wanting to visit The Screaming Tree! Ack 🙁

    But I must confess that after reading about it, I am rather curious…

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