experts: real estate column Thursday, August 18, 2005

The adventures of Marty at 60

Recharging the batteries with a whirlwind tour south of the equator.

By Marty Douglas

As published in REM - independent news and opinion for Canada's real estate industry.

While writing this column, I turned 60. I had always planned on being 60, knew it was a logical progression after the flash of 40 and the plateau of 50, but I didn't know what to do about it. I mean, yikes, the discounts start now. I could get Canada Pension. (I didn't - seems like a lot of trouble to pretend or actually quit work in order to receive another stipend to add to the taxable income pile. Besides, I'm assured I'll hit 80 - my mother's 90! So no danger of me not getting the full Monty.)

Denial is the first symptom of aging. At any age. As preteens we edge ourselves into 13 before we're due. As teenagers we assert that we're old enough to drink. At 30 we melt down and suggest we might still be 29. At 40, we finally begin to let our breath out, and our tummies slide - for a decade. Then we pull in to 50. The first pains of aging.

We've quit smoking and having children, tried a couple of diets, and 'invested' in several gym memberships. We’ve got the toys. We’re healthier than in our 30s when we thought we were Teflon coated. Menopause is likely behind us and for men, the doctor's digit definitely has been behind us. Women share mammogram exam experiences and men, well, of course men just don't share. It's all we can do to acknowledge we’ve actually seen the Viagra commercials.

Sixty. So far, so good. One of our staff gave me a t-shirt with a license plate on the front. The plate read "60 YEAR OLD". Where the decal would go was "1945" and instead of a provincial motto, "Needs parts, make an offer". So I hung around the bar at the birthday party waiting for offers. And that’s another sign of aging. Despite the fact the brain still thinks it's in a godlike container, apparently it sees itself through one-way glass.

At 50, recognizing a milestone of sorts, my best friend Doug – he’s about seven weeks younger - did a version of the Grand Tour. In two weeks we madly dashed through Toronto, London, Paris, Washington D.C., and New York City. We saw Les Miz in London, rode the TGV through the Chunnel, ran past Mona, rode an elevator with the ambassador at our magnificent embassy in D.C., Amtracked to New York City, lived on Times Square, took the subway to a Yankees game and lived!

Then back to work.

So for 60 we decided something a little more tranquil. Doug is a world traveler and currently spends half the year in Zimbabwe, so the Equator means little to him since the only place left on his 'to do' list is Antarctica. But for me, the equator was big. Never been there. So that was goal two. Tranquil and south of 0 degrees latitude. We picked three possibilities - the Seychelles, the Maldives or Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands were the closest to where he would be in May. We chose a tour by GAP, which specializes in out-of-the-way types of travel (www.gapadventures.com). One of our options had been a combination mountain bike/river raft up the Andes and down the Amazon, but we were worried the kids couldn’t keep up.

We flew due south and two time zones east via Houston to Quito, Ecuador. It took a day. Here’s a tip. When you go from sea level to 10,000 feet in nine hours, don’t rush to carry your bags up three flights of stairs. Don’t even try lifting your arms over your head. Unless, like me, you have been working out.

A couple of days in Quito - population two million, oldest standing church dates from 1535 so it's more European than western - and then we flew in a big jet to a very small island with an extremely short runway. Let's just say the brakes held.

There are only a couple of islands on the Galapagos with hotel or B&B accommodation, so most tourists stay aboard ship. The maximum size group one guide may escort is 16, resulting in the harbour being filled with craft of all shapes, 50 to 80 feet long, capable of holding 16 passengers plus crew. GAP has three such vessels. Ours was everything they had promised. Food and crew and especially the guide were superb. Once I pointed out that the younger person always took the top bunk, our cabin sorted itself out.

The other 14 passengers were a global amalgam of youth and middle age, including a woman from Newfoundland celebrating her 60th - who knew it was a fad? - crazy kids from California, England, Wales and Australia, a family from North Carolina, and couples from Texas and Seattle.

We settled in and for eight days, cruised, ate, snorkeled, ate, hiked and ate. We took photographs of sea lions, and marine and land iguanas, and marveled at frigate birds, albatross, finches and of course, the blue-footed booby. The most popular t-shirt in the tourist waterfront on San Cristobel Island? "I love boobies" captioning two blue webbed feet. Of course I bought one. Gave it to a friend who is braver than I. But come to think of it, I haven’t seen him wear it in public yet.

Recharged and ready to get back to the day-to-day of a business that allows us to work until we quit, regardless of age. What did you do for your reward?

Sixty – don’t leave the earth without it.

Marty Douglas is the sales manager for Coast Realty Group (Comox Valley) Ltd., one of 12 Coast Realty Group offices on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast of B.C. He is a past chair of the Real Estate Errors and Omissions Corporation of B.C., the Real Estate Council of B.C. and the B.C. Real Estate Association, and a current director of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Email mdouglas@island.net; 1-800-715-3999; fax (250) 897-3933.




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