Day #255 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Sunshine and fresh air…WiFi issues???…

Savusavu Bay and Nawi Island, in Vanua Levu, Fiji from a site atop a hill in the village.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2015 while winding down our three-month stay on the island of Vanua Levu in the village of Savusavu. Please click here for details.

We haven’t been outdoors in eight months, except when I went to an ATM a few months ago when we needed cash for medication we’d ordered and about six months ago when I went outside to collect a package from Amazon India from the security guard at the gate.

The hot springs where many locals cook their potatoes and root vegetables.

Since that time, for added precautions, we’ve asked the front desk to deliver the few packages we receive directly to our room. We’d be more than willing to spend time outdoors but it would only be in the parking lot in the bright hot sun with the awful air quality per today’s report below from this site.

FORECAST

Mumbai air quality index (AQI) forecast

Day Pollution level Weather Temperature Wind
Monday, Nov 30

Unhealthy 153US AQI

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Tuesday, Dec 1

Unhealthy 159US AQI

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Wednesday, Dec 2

Unhealthy 163US AQI

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Today

Unhealthy 164US AQI

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weather icon 84.2°77°

4.5 mp/h

While touring India many moons ago, the air quality ratings were often listed as “dangerous.” It was tough to breathe at that time. Although, it may be easier now, why go out into that? After all, I have both asthma and heart disease, both inflammatory conditions which can be exacerbated by severe smog.

The view from our veranda in Korovesi, Savusavu, Fiji.

Thank goodness we’re taking generous doses of Vitamin D3, but our lack of sun exposure may not be much worse than when we lived in Minnesota during the icy cold winter months and seldom spent much time outdoors, other than walking our dogs. Even under those circumstances, exposed skin absorbs Vitamin D from the sun, not when bundled up in warm clothing.

We’ve been deluding ourselves into thinking that indoor air in this air-conditioned hotel room in Mumbai is any better than the outdoors. After reading several articles online over these past many months, it’s obvious to us why we’re both sneezing all day long. Tom has no allergies, and yet he sneezes often. It’s apparent to us it’s due to poor air quality in buildings including hotels in India, especially in a highly-populated area like Mumbai. See this article here about indoor air in India.

The bay where many sailors moor their sailboats.

We’ve asked the maintenance staff to change the air-con filter a few times, but that didn’t seem to help. Besides, sitting in this tiny room, day after day, month after month,  an enormous amount of dust accumulates from our skin shedding, a disgusting thought but a reality. Dust mites are a real thing, although an awful thought. See here for details.

With people all over the world stuck inside their homes for extended periods during COVID-19 lockdowns, it wouldn’t be surprising that many with dust allergies may have suffered more than during “normal times.” I suppose if we’d lived in a house staying indoors for many months, we’d probably have had our house fumigated for dust mites when the lockdown ended.

The busy village hops with business most days.

Ah, the challenges of living under these circumstances aren’t going away anytime too soon. The WiFi has been going out at least once an hour over the past two days. We’ve reported this several times to the front desk who reports,” We’re working on it.” We had to stop streaming shows last night when Netflix and Hulu kept stopping with streaming issues.

Then, of course, walking in the corridors continues to be quite a challenge with so many guests staying on our floor, not wearing masks, slamming doors in the middle of the night, and having loud parties throughout the night that have kept us awake over many nights in the past few months.

Tom, in front of a giant palm frond on the property.

We can’t get out of here soon enough. Dare I mention…40 more days?

Stay well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2019:

On this date in 2016, we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania where we stayed for six weeks. This is the view from the living room window of the wonderful holiday home we rented. It was a delightful six weeks and remains one of Tom’s favorite places in the world. For more about the year-ago post,  please click here.

Day #231 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Home grown dental care…

Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office while we waited outside with no indoor seating areas. The dental office was located on the hospital grounds.

Today’s photos are from this date while living in Savusavu, Fiji on the island of Vanua Levu For the story and more photos from this date, please click here.

Today’s historical photos put a smile on our faces. What an unusual experience we had on the day in Fiji when Tom had a raging abscessed tooth requiring immediate attention! Our landlord explained there was a dental office located across from the hospital parking lot. Otherwise, it would have required a four-hour round trip drive to the next closest dentist.

Tom was his usual cheerful self even under these worrisome circumstances. 

Appointments weren’t required. We contacted Rasnesh, our usual driver, to take us the short distance to the hospital grounds where the dental office was located. Rasnesh explained he had been seeing this same dentist since he was a child and was happy with the care he’d received, giving us peace of mind.

As it turned out, Tom did indeed have a bad abscess revealed on the x-ray, and the doctor recommended either pulling three teeth in that area or Tom taking antibiotics. In three months, we’d be in New Zealand, where he could be treated as needed. The dentist gave him three prescriptions; two antibiotics and one for high dose Paracetamol (Tylenol).

The treatment room was spacious and seemingly well equipped.

When we proceeded to pay the dental bill, we couldn’t stop giggling. The x-ray, exams, and the time with the dentist came to a total of US $2.76, INR 204! We walked across the parking lot to the hospital’s pharmacy to discover the prescriptions were “free.” In both cases, we offered to pay more explaining we were tourists, but due to their national health care system which included visitors, they refused payment, handing over the neatly wrapped medications. Wow!

Within three to four days, the pain was gone, but once more he needed a round of antibiotics two months later when the pain returned while we were waiting to board a cruise in Sydney, Australia, (see that post here) ending in New Zealand, where finally, he had the one abscessed molar pulled (see that post here).

We could only hope for sanitary conditions.

We both had a cleaning appointment scheduled before we left South Africa in 2019, but after my open-heart surgery, the dentist refused to work on my teeth due to the risk of infection, possible after heart surgery. Thus, I haven’t seen a dentist since 2018. Tom kept his cleaning appointment in South Africa in 2019. Once we return, we’ll both head to our wonderful dentist in Komatipoort, 20 minutes from Marloth Park.

While in lockdown I had an abscess which seems to have resolved after taking the same antibiotics Tom had taken for his. No prescription is required in India for non-narcotic prescriptions. Hopefully, it doesn’t return, allowing me to have it treated when we get to South Africa, whenever that will be.

Luckily, he didn’t have one of these dreaded injections.

In the interim, we are being very careful with our teeth, brushing frequently with our Braun battery-operated toothbrushes, using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide every few days, continuing with our usual regime of “oil pulling” using organic unrefined coconut oil. Here’s a US scientific study on some of the health benefits of oil pulling using coconut oil.

In addition, we both floss after each meal using brush picks and dental floss. Hopefully, these preventive procedures will help us make it to our dentist in Komatipoort in many months to come. Of course, there’s no substitute for quality dental care by a licensed professional. For now, as with everything else, we do the best we can.

The used sponge on the sink could instill a degree of concern for sanitation. Then again, we Americans may be overly concerned about germs.

On a side note, at the end of yesterday’s post, two of our kind readers wrote, “Why don’t we live in a holiday/vacation home in Mumbai as opposed to staying in this hotel?” For their comments and our responses, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

We certainly appreciate the comments and questions and fully understand the basis of such questions. But, in reviewing our responses, you’ll see how staying put in this hotel makes more sense for us right now. In the interim, all those wedding guests cluttering the corridors without face masks yesterday have since checked out. I was able to walk without issue this morning, much to my relief. Yesterday, I stopped walking halfway through my daily goal when there were countless guests not wearing face masks.

The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD $6, USD $2.76, INR 204!

At the moment Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game that was played yesterday in the US. We’ll see how that goes!

Find comfort in the small things.

As we entered the hospital’s pharmacy. We only waited a moment for service. The medications he received were already packaged and ready to go. Only the label was added with Tom’s name and instructions. 

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2019:

There was no post on this date, one year ago. We had just arrived in Minnesota to be with family and we spent a very busy day.

Day #228 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A magical village and culture…

A rusty sailboat remains on the shore in Savusavu.

Today’s photos are from this date while spending three months in the village of Savusavu, Fiji, on the island of Vanua Levu. For the story from this date, please click here.

Right now, under these peculiar circumstances, as we review past experiences, we’re coming to the conclusion that every place we visited would be a welcome relief compared to the challenges we’re facing today. The heat, the lack of screens on windows, the lack of air-con at many holiday homes, the insects, the possibility of snakes, power outages, high prices on food, supplies, and rental cars, all seem insignificant right now.

The grocery store where we shop for a few items each week. There was only one aisle with food. The other two aisles consisted of cleaning supplies, Christmas decorations, and Diwali fireworks.

No, we didn’t complain a lot, and overall, as our long-time readers know, we weathered many difficult situations, instead, we focused on the good aspects of each location, savoring the scenery, the local culture, the people, the wildlife, and the opportunity to see many magical points of interest.

As we review these past adventures, in a way we relive them, grateful for the depth and breadth of those experiences, any of which we’d exchange in a minute right now. We’ve considered returning to some of those locations if international flights were available from Mumbai They are not.

The reflection of the blue sky on the still water in Savusavu lagoon.

We’d even considered returning to some of those same holiday homes if they too were available at this time and reachable from the airport here. There are some locations that can be reached from the US. We could fly to the US and take numerous flights from there. But the thought of spending 36 to 42 hours flying and changing planes at multiple airports presents its own risks for COVID-19, one we don’t want to take.

You may think we are being overly cautious when many in the US don’t even know anyone who’s had the virus. But, three of our family members in the US  had it and fortunately avoided a hospital stay. And here, in India, like in the US, the risk is outrageous with unmasked crowds gathering at every turn.

A skinny nursing dog scrounging for food among the rocks.

From the CDC in the US:

In general, your risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 increases as you get older. In fact, 8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.

8 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths reported in the United States have been in adults 65 years old and older.

It isn’t rocket science for us to figure out that staying put right now makes more sense than trying to travel any more than we have to. Once international flights open up for us to head to South Africa there shouldn’t be more than one layover.  We can fly to Johannesburg at that time, rent a car and drive five hours to Marloth Park.

It’s unlikely we will be able to fly to the Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport once South Africa’s borders open to US citizens and those arriving from India.

We often wondered who owned these boats? Are they ex-pats, living in Fiji or visitors stopping for supplies after being out to sea?

If, in fact, we have to stay here in this hotel for months to come, we’ve decided, we can last. Yesterday, I reminded Tom of the perks we have in this situation as follows:

  1. No cleaning or making the bed
  2. No cooking or doing dishes
  3. No taking out the trash
  4. No hanging clothes on the line
  5. No necessity for Tom to drive me to the market since I can’t drive a manual transmission with my left hand on the opposite side of the road
  6. No putting groceries away
  7. No packing and unpacking every few months
    The view across the Savusavu Harbour to Nawii Island, where properties were under construction.

As for the less desirable aspects, well, you’ve all read enough about these. I suppose it pays to focus on the things we “don’t have to do” to somehow help us stay optimistic and upbeat.

May your day be optimistic and upbeat wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2019:

Hot and sweaty after dancing at the silent disco on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

Fiji time…Fiji life…Subject to change on a moment’s notice…Great service continues…

A drive along the highway on a sunny day makes all the difference in the world in our desire to get out.

Yesterday, when the power hadn’t gone off by 9 am, when it was scheduled for 8 am, we were wondering what was going on. I’d hurried through completing the post and automatically scheduled it to go live at our usual time or thereabouts. There was a possibility we wouldn’t be able to get online during the outage.

As the two fans continued to whir we were optimistic, hoping they’d changed their minds on doing the necessary electrical work in Savusavu. Determined to figure it out one way or another, I searched online and found the power company’s scheduled maintenance.

Our power wasn’t scheduled to go out until today, not yesterday and the hours of the outage have lessened from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, not quite so bad. In any case, we had an extra day to make ice in our four trays, half of which we’ll put into the refrigerator to keep those items cool and the other half, for our iced tea.

When we discovered this, we decided to call Ratnesh to see if he’d taken us sightseeing for the entire afternoon.  That way, we’d be in AC comfort in the heat and humidity and enjoy being out in the countryside and not dealing with the “no power” situation.

A nursing pig with six piglets.

It’s been pouring rain since the middle of the night and soon, if it doesn’t stop, I’ll call to tell him we don’t want to go in the rain. Our photos don’t come out well and its just not fun for us to be riding in the rain for hours. 

Activities on this side of the island are primarily geared toward the scuba diver and those who sail. Since we engage in neither, sightseeing has been at a minimum. 

Also, it rained or been cloudy approximately 60% of the time since our arrival. Without a car of our own, with the steep road requiring a four-wheel drive, we haven’t been out nearly as much as we had in Trinity Beach, Australia or other locations. 

With Ratnesh often busy with other guests, the pickings have been slim. Other taxi drivers refuse to tackle the drive on the uneven dirt road up this mountain. We don’t blame them. Its quite a challenge and could easily damage a non-four wheel drive vehicle. 

There are numerous shacks such as this along the highway which may have been homes decades ago.

The one time Rasnesh couldn’t pick us up and sent another driver to collect us, it took 20 minutes for the driver to maneuver his way up the hill, backing up and trying over and over again. He was very frustrated but we stayed supportive and calm.  We haven’t wanted to repeat that experience.

Midday yesterday, I started making Tom’s usual snack of bacon and sautéed Hamouli cheese as shown in a photo a few days ago.  He has this snack most days, never seeming to tire of the same thing over and again. 

With the power still on, no problem. While the bacon cooked in the microwave, I had the stove going with a pan of ghee heated to the perfect temperature to brown the cheese. Suddenly, the gas stove was off.  It ran out of gas. 

With Junior off over the weekend, we contacted Mario. He was out for a few hours. No sooner than he returned, he brought us a small propane tank to hold us over until Monday when he could bring us a larger tank. He’s been “Johnny on the spot” whenever we’ve had an issue responding as quickly as possible. Mario is a problem solver and we’d been thrilled with the great service here.

Of course, we won’t hesitate to provide a good review when we leave. Although, there have been challenges, Mario has never failed to address them promptly and efficiently. For those seeking a stay in an affordable vacation home, able to cook their own meals and enjoy a beautiful and peaceful setting this property is ideal. 

The lushness of the bright green hills have been enhanced by the frequent rains.

Sure, there may be issues staying in an affordable property, those one may not experience staying in a hotel. If luxury is desired for a honeymoon or special celebration a hotel would be more desirable. But, for the traveler seeking a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle and an affordable location, this is ideal. 

Most hotels in Savusavu are at least USD $200, FJD $431 per night with others considerably higher. One can stay here in this resort for half this amount or less, as we negotiated for our long term stay.

At times, we hesitate to quote our rental amount when due to the long term commitment, we often negotiate a lower price the owner would never consider for a one or two week stay. However, on the last day of a stay in each location, we post our expenses by category. That post will be available on December 6th, the day we leave for Viti Levu, a mere 13 days from today.

Hopefully, the rain will stop and our noon pick up scheduled with Ratnesh for today will still be on. If not, we’ll call him and cancel by 9 or 10 pm, freeing him up for other fares. Once again, we’ll play it by ear, a common occurrence when living on a tropical island.

I’m uploading today’s post early today at 8:50 am, Fiji time. Speaking of Fiji time, we still have power.  Hmmm…

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2014:

While living in Maui, we could walk outside our condo to the shore to watch the sea turtles when they visited most late afternoons. For more details, please click here.

Waiting for the power to go out soon…Spending money of what?…A heartbreaking event in Marloth Park…

While our driver, Okee Dokee was away for part of December, 2013, we rented this pink car.  Parked in the driveway of our vacation home in Marloth Park it didn’t deter the “visitors” from stopping by each day.  Warthogs were my favorite visitors especially when two moms (the second mom and one other baby is not shown here in this photo) and seven baby warthogs came to call every day.  For more details, please click here.

With “Fiji time” the power could go out sooner or later.  One never knows.  The scheduled shut down is expected at 8 am, ending at 6 pm.  We’re as prepared as we can be. 

We have plenty of ice to soon place into plastic bags which will go inside two insulated bags and extra ice to place in the refrigerator hoping to keep those items cool after the fridge portion was out of commission for 24 hours a few days ago.

I slept fitfully.  After “refreshing” my Windows 8.1 laptop a few days ago, there were over 300 updates that came through from Microsoft which took hours to upload.  When I saw the message come up as I began to shut down last night, I decided I’d better let them run rather than wait until today when they’d use up power once the electricity is out. 

Wanting to ensure they uploaded correctly, I wasn’t able to fall asleep until it was done and I could shut it off.  My “shut down” is still having issues which requires two restarts. 

I’ve tried everything to correct it but it won’t resolve, even with software fixes I downloaded in the past few days specifically for this problem.  I guess I’ll live with it when everything else is running smoothly now after the refresh.  Before we know it, as always, we’ll end up purchasing new laptops when traveling as we do seems to have an impact on their survival.

As the prices have reduced considerably for touchscreen technology which we both like to use, we don’t flinch at the prospect of purchasing new equipment every few years, especially as the features and technology continues to change. 

Photo from our yard in December, 2013.  Hundreds of these beautiful impalas are being culled in Marloth Patk at this time.

We don’t flinch at the cost for replacement supplies including cameras, laptops, Internet devices, and other digital equipment when we don’t spend money on gardening, household maintenance, clothes shopping, dining out and other “living in one place” related expenses.

At the present we have items accumulating at our mailing service with supplies we need to replenish to arrive in our next shipment in New Zealand sometime in January. 

These items include any digital equipment we’d like to replace (still deciding), underwear, a few favorite toiletry items we can’t find outside the US; tee shirts; liquid sweetener for my coffee, hot tea and muffins; Crystal Light ice tea packets (enough to last for a year) and a few other items that surely will come to mind over the next month as we accumulate the upcoming shipment.

Another item that kept my mind spinning overnight was an article I stumbled upon last night about the culling of 487 wildlife in Marloth Park due to a lack of adequate vegetation in the “veld” (the bush) to sustain the animals.  We can only imagine the heartbreak of our friends and other residents in Marloth Park as they await this sorrowful process to be end.

Here’s an article from a local newspaper in Mpumalanga, South Africa:

“Culling in Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, resumed on Monday night after recent attempts to have the game captured and relocated failed.

The majority of residents say they are happy possible inconveniences to residents and disruption to animals are being kept to a minimum. The operations are carried out after 6pm to restrict exposure to both residents and holiday goers, Lowvelder reported.

“The poor state of Marloth Park’s veld is sufficient reason for property owners to realise that there is no other option than to cull the animals. However, most of these concerns have been put to rest since the culling is taking place at night,” a property owner remarked.

The planned total of animals to be culled is 487 for impala, eight for wildebeest and 10 for warthog.

Time is an issue, as the permit to conduct this is only valid for 30 days. In addition, only 35 animals can be culled at a time, this being the quota the abattoir can handle a day.

The office of the provincial State Veterinary Services confirmed that carcasses had been transported to the Morrisdale Abattoir, which is located out of the red-line area on the Jeppe’s Reef road.

The former contract holder of culling in Marloth Park, Jasper Aitcheson, said: “Since Marloth Park is situated within the red-line area, the threat of TB is high and strict protocols need to be followed.”

An animal is shot in the head and bled out before attempting to transport the carcass to the abattoir. The feet and head are checked at the abattoir, and depending on ailments, a strict protocol will be followed, as per health regulations. After this, the meat is cut off the bone. The feet, head, intestines as well as the bones are to be sent back to Marloth Park, where it is taken to the so-called Vultures Restaurant in Lionspruit for scavengers to consume it.”

Photo take from our second floor veranda in Marloth Park.  The thought of giraffes being culled in heartbreaking.  Note the full cheeks from munching on the trees.  Now with vegetation at a minimum culling was the chosen option.

My heart especially hurts for the 10 warthogs who especially became our friends and frequent visitors while we spent three months living in the amazing wildlife reserve.  Upon reading further I discovered that even giraffes would be included in this sad event. 

I realize culling is a part of life required to leave food sources for those that remain.  But, it’s sad nonetheless.  Today, I’ll write to several of our friends in the park. Many of the animals have become an integral part of living in Marloth Park and the loss will be dearly felt.

All of God’s creatures, both human and animal, are treasured gifts to our planet and as world events unfold the loss of human life remains heartbreaking. For those of us deeply connected to the animal kingdom we only add the sorrow of loss of wildlife as well, to our already aching hearts.

The inconvenience we experience without power for one day is nothing.  The loss of food in our refrigerator is nothing.  A remedied toothache or aching neck is nothing. 

We strive to continually remain grateful and fulfilled for the gift of each day we’ve been given, for each experience we gather along the way, both past and present, as we continue on in this journey.

Two weeks from today, we’ll fly in the little plane once again to make our way to 28 more days on the main island of Fiji, viti Luvu.  Beyond that, a new adventure begins as we make our way to New Zealand, Singapore, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and many more over the next 12 months.

All of our love to our friends in Marloth Park and throughout the world!

__________________________________________

 

Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2014:

One year ago while living in Maalea Beach, Maui, we took a few videos of professional coconut tree trimmers climbing up coconut palms to remove excess leaves and coconuts to prevent injury to the residents below.  For photos and details, please click here.

Part Two…Reviewing the criteria we established in March 22, 2012…Are we still on track?

A few other boats dock at this pier.

Good news! Yesterday, in the pelting rain, wearing jackets with hoodies, we returned to the dentist at the hospital in the village. By the time we reached the driveway where Rasnesh was parked, we were soaked, drying off in no time in the hot weather.

Arriving at the dentist’s office in a matter of seconds, not minutes, we were whisked away to a treatment room.  Immediately, the same Indo-Fijian dentist entered the room with a wide bright white toothy smile seeming to remember us from one week ago when we had the last five minute appointment.

He looked in Tom’s mouth happily stating it appeared the infection was gone and the mushy gums were healing. The three teeth were no longer as loose in the previously infected spongy gums and would continue to tighten over time.  

This boat navigates to the pearl beds.

The dentist suggested Tom use Listerine mouthwash to kill bacteria. For awhile, he’d stopped using the coconut oil, teeth pulling ritual but is back at it again since the infection had begun a few weeks ago. Organic, unrefined, food-grade coconut oil is a known antibacterial with no added chemicals.

Once we get situated in New Zealand, he may decide to make an appointment for a periodontist for further treatment which most likely would have prevented the infection in the first place. Traveling the world has a tendency to cause us to be less mindful of “preventive” care beyond that which we’re able to accomplish on our own.

Thanks to all of our wonderful readers who sent email, posted comments and sent prayers and good wishes his way. 

Living in a third world country can easily incite a little nervousness when it comes to medical care of any type.  We’ll take this into consideration more as we age planning the distant future itinerary. 

This long pier leads the Fiji Pearls boat where tourists can visit the pearl beds after which tourists typically purchase pearl jewelry. 

Continuing on in part two of yesterday’s discussion of the criteria we’d established for our travels in March 2012, on March 26, 2012, we posted a second portion and a summarization of all of the criteria as shown below, again in italics with comments at the end on areas in which we’ve changed:

The remaining criteria:
Criteria #7:  Never stay in a vacation rental for less than one month. The rationale behind this rule is simple.  Staying in one location not only reduces transportation expense but provides us with the opportunity to negotiate better rates when staying a month or more.  
Many of the property owners allow a stay of as little as three or four days requiring added paperwork, liability and cleaning. Their piece of mind is a substantial motivator for them to accept a lower rent for their property.  As each month’s stay is extended in the negotiations, the price goes down proportionately. This will be illustrated by the rental amounts we will post with the itinerary.
Criteria #8:  No trinkets! As tempting as “bargains,” “souvenirs” and local “handicrafts” appeal to us during our travels, we will resist the temptation. The cost of excess baggage along with the horror of hauling some heavy wooden object all over the world is preposterous!
We will make a list of the items we encounter that tempt us. Once we settle someday, we will easily be able to find similar items online or in some cases, purchase them from the actual vendor’s website. Often these tempting artifacts can be found for half the price on eBay, from sellers who found themselves tempted during their travels. Most often, when we look back at such a wish list at a later date, we’ll find that we have lost interest anyway.
Criteria #9:  The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times. This was a tough one. I spent no less than an entire week researching various options. We now have discovered solutions (of course, subject to technology changes over the next several months). For Internet access, 24/7, in our rental, on the road, and part-time on cruises, we’ll use MiFi Rental with XCom Global. In a future post, I will write about the cost and how this works.  
As for cell phone service, we will be buying an Unlocked International cell phone into which we can purchase and install a local SIM card using the available local network (which is what most cell phone users in many countries use for service). SIM cards result in considerably lower rates, all without the use of a contract. Here again, I will write an entire post on this subject.
Criteria #10:  Cook and eat in!  Due to health concerns we live a low carb, wheat-free, starch-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free lifestyle. Occasionally Tom will indulge along the way!  He won’t be able to resist pasta in Italy or a baguette in France. But, for me, my ongoing health from this way of eating it a huge motivator. Cooking and eating in the kitchen of our vacation rental will save us $1000’s along the way.  

Criteria #1: Do not have a permanent home!
Criteria #2: Do not own cars!
Criteria #3: Do not stay in hotels unless absolutely necessary!
Criteria #4: Do not pay more than that which we were willing to pay for rent in our chosen retirement community!
Criteria #5: Use the cruise!
Criteria #6: Bag the excess baggage!
Criteria #7: Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month!
Criteria #8: No trinkets!
Criteria #9: The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times!
Criteria#10: Cook and eat in!

The heavy rains and cloud-covered sky preventing us from sightseeing.

As we peruse the above list, there was one item we failed to note which applied to us: Don’t have a storage facility with “stuff” from our old lives. The only storage we have are tax records and a few bins of memorabilia at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada and another few bins at Tom’s sister’s home in Minnesota. We have no storage anywhere else. What would be the point of saving furnishings, old clothes, and household and kitchenware?

Considering Criteria #7, we’ve faltered a few times, once staying in a vacation home in Waikiki for 11 nights and another in Vancouver for six nights. We didn’t care for the Waikiki property and later wished we’d stayed in a hotel. But, the Vancouver property was fantastic with no regrets there. If we ever take a cruise out of Vancouver in the future, we’d happily stay at that property.

Otherwise, every item on the original criteria list at this link written over four years ago, still stands today. Of course, between the lines, we’ve learned a lot and in our then inexperience, we’ve discovered so much along the way. 

Steam escapes from underground hot springs in this area near the village.

When we think in terms of traveling for ten years or more, good health providing, we have no doubt some of these criteria may change one way or another. 

Flexibility and a willingness to change is a vital aspect of successful long term travel. Every day, we strive to maintain open minds and hearts, knowing this adventure requires the ability to adapt, grow and learn along the way.

The perception for most senior citizens is that we’re “set in our ways” but, this may not be true for all of us. For even our treasured armchair readers, they too may change in their attitudes and beliefs about traveling the world as they share this journey along with us. 

Have a glorious day! It’s raining in buckets here and we’re as content as we could possibly be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2014:

We were in awe of this exquisite and unusual Monkey Pod Tree in Maui. For more vegetation photos in Maui, please click here.

Good thing we verified our information…

There are numerous creeks and rivers on the island.

There’s no doubt we’d have looked at our flight reservations at some point before departing Savusavu in 27 days. Usually, our flight information is online, making it easy to check details as time nears.

While living in Trinity Beach, Australia, with several flights necessary between leaving there and arriving in Sydney on January 4, 2016, we’d used a travel agent for the first time in our travels with paper copies as opposed to our easy- to-review online bookings in our account at Expedia. 

We found the agency at the local mall in Trinity Beach many months ago and thought how easy it would be to have someone else book the five flights we needed starting with the departure from Trinity Beach, Australia on September 7, 2015. Overall, it was easier. Booking multiple flights with an erratic Internet connection is frustrating and time-consuming.

When we weren’t responsible for booking the flights we didn’t have the ingrained knowledge of the details we’d have had if we’d booked the five flights on our own.

A cloudy day view across Savusavu Bay.

Arriving to Nadi Airport on September 8th, after an overnight stay in a hotel in Sydney, once we arrived in Savusavu we gave little thought to future flights until it was nearing time to book an airport transfer in Nadi (so we thought) to our next vacation home in Pacific Harbour on December 6th.

We originally arrived in Nadi, Viti Levi, the largest of the Fijian islands and then took the small prop plane to Savusavu, the smallest airport we’ve experienced to date. 

In our minds, we’d fly out through the same airport and perhaps a similar flight and the plane we’d used for our arrival. Few flights arrive and depart this small island each day, most flying in and out of Labasa, a village larger than Savusavu, a two hour drive from here. 

There are only two flights out of Savusavu on Sundays, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. We see and hear those prop planes twice a day, assuming those are the only two flights when in fact, on certain days of the week there are a few more flights. 

These cloths are hung at a cemetery, a tradition in some Fijian cultures.  Having asked several locals as to their purpose without a specific answer, we’re still uncertain if there is a distinct purpose other than decoration on burial grounds.

Yesterday, we decided it was time to remind ourselves of the upcoming flight particulars to Viti Levu, especially when we were attempting to book airport transfers to and from Nadi to Pacific Harbour which required the inclusion of dates, times and flight numbers.

When reviewing the several page flight itinerary, we’d kept tucked away in the leather computer bag, we were shocked to see we weren’t flying to Nadi as a layover, when we originally arrived.

Instead, in checking our paperwork, we discovered we’re flying to Nausori Airport in Suva (Savusavu and Suva can be confusing. These are two distinct villages at each of the two main islands in Fiji).

There’s no way we would have missed this when it’s necessary to check our flights in more detail before booking an airport transfer to drive the 2.5 hours from Nadi to Pacific Harbour.

When the documents clearly stated we’d arrive in Nausori Airport instead of Nadi, reducing the drive time by over an hour, we were thrilled. At that point, we began the process of finding a company that could handle our round trip airport transfer both into and out of Nausori. 

Junior stopped by offering us these two papayas.  Unfortunately, we had to decline when papayas although possessing many nutrients are loaded with sugar and carbs as are most other tropical fruits, restricted in my way of eating.  Tom doesn’t care for fruit.

After finding a few options, I proceeded to make online inquiries. In both cases, the website inquiry pages didn’t work. This wasn’t a good sign deterring us from phoning or researching their options further. In this day and age, if a “company” doesn’t have a working website, we’d question the condition and quality of their vehicles.

Our options were becoming more clear. Either grab a taxi at the airport or rent a car at the last minute. We decided to try one more thing…contact Susan, the property owner and see if she knows someone who’ll collect us at the airport.

Most of her vacation home renters/tourists fly into Nadi which would have made booking a professional transfer a breeze. To fly into Nausori, a much smaller airport in Suva is not as easy. Susan was more than happy to assist and is checking for us today. We’ll see how that rolls out.

The cost of renting a car in Suva is outrageous. With taxes and fees for the 29 days, we’d pay around FJD $4209, US $2000, more than we’re willing to pay for a rental car. Generally, in most locations, we pay less than half that amount. A taxi might have been our only option.

We realize that our desire to live in many remote areas puts us in this position. Yet, we’d trade this minor challenge for gridlock traffic, lengthy queues wherever we go, increased crime rates, and higher prices on vacation homes one finds in large cities.

Badal visits us almost every day checking out what may be on the menu. We never fail to give him a plate of something delicious. After he does, he sits on the veranda looking at me with his legs crossed, hoping for second helpings. He looks fit and healthy compared to many dogs we’ve seen in the village.

As we’re writing here today, we received an email from a transfer company Susan found for us. The rates are as follows:

Suva Airport to Pacific Harbour
·
Private Car – FJD $231, USD $107.21 per vehicle (seats 1-4 passengers)
Pacific Harbour to Suva Airport

 

·     Private Car – FJD $231, USD 107.21 per vehicle (seats 1-4 passengers)

Since receiving this above information moment ago, we’ve already confirmed we’d like to book this reservation, including all of our flight information and will pay in advance today for the round trip as required. At FJD $462, USD $214.42 for the round trip, this is fine. Renting a car in Suva averages at FJD $148.69, USD $69, per day.  In only three days we’ll recover this entire cost, as opposed to renting a vehicle.

A great solution, a helpful property owner and an apparently well respected company will handle our transfer needs. Its these aspects of our travels, that inspire us to push ourselves (and others at times) for resolutions.  Many come quickly and easily and others may be more time-consuming and tricky to accomplish.

Today, another dark, dreary day and rainy day, we’re staying in. As I write, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game on his laptop using his headset. He’ll be busy for the next few hours while I make every effort to avoid disturbing him with comments or questions. 

Sometimes, that’s challenging in itself.

Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2014:

Moonlight over Maalea Bay in Maui as we enjoyed each and everyday of our six weeks on the island. For more details, please click here.

we’d plural of “I” More (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

“Getting our ducks in a row…”

Tom shot this photo from our veranda of a barge, the ferry and a tugboat passing by. Great shot, Honey!

With only 28 days until we depart this island, its time to begin planning our next month on the main island in Fiji, a short tiny prop plane flight away. It goes without saying that a one month holiday or vacation would require a certain amount of planning beyond the initial research and booking.

I try to imagine what it would have been like in our old lives if we were planning a one month vacation in a remote area of an island when we were only four weeks from departure.

In essence, that’s us each time we move. This morning I wrote to the owner asking the address of the property which generally owners don’t divulge until close to the rental period for the sake of some perceived security in waiting to do so. 

After recently watching a David Attenborough documentary on the in-depth life cycle of caterpillars, we had an entirely new perspective on these amazing creatures with two entirely different lifecycles as they eventually morph into butterflies.  We spotted this one on the veranda a few days ago.

Once the final payment is made in full which we paid a few months ago, most likely there’s little risk for an owner in the renter having the address. The bigger risk for the owner is once the renter moves in if they fail to be responsible. That’s never us.

As for a renter, there’s a degree of risk:
1.  The property could not be there. It could have been a scam for which we’re prepaid $1000’s. We take that risk each time we move. There’s insurance for this risk, for which we’ve evaluated the cost via risk factor and for us, it would be $1000’s per year, not worth the expense.
2.  The property could be different than as described in the listing.  his happened to us in January 2013, on our first vacation home outside the US in Belize. We left in a week, losing one month’s rent, but couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We found a fabulous resort where we lived for two remaining months with the ocean outside our door.  It was glorious.

Never again, did we suffer such disappointment. We have no doubt it will occur sometime in the future and stay mindful and prepared for that eventuality. We’ve budgeted for this type of potential loss. 

A Paul Gauguin cruise ship sailed by our view. It would have been fun to take a cruise in this area, but we’ve already done so and will do so again on our several upcoming cruises touring the perimeter and surrounding islands in Australia.

The best way for the average traveler to financially prepare for such an occurrence is to purchase the insurance, but the time and effort to find another location on short notice is an equally big risk, especially for us when we stay for extended periods in most locations.

We’ve come to accept that if we plan to stay for less than a month, it may be easier and more suitable to stay in a hotel, as we’d done over a year ago in Paris and London for a little over two weeks in each city. 

Dining out for every meal is the only obstacle of staying in a hotel and of course, the cost which is generally higher than a vacation home of some type. The space limitations of a hotel don’t bother us. After all, we easily spend weeks on a cruise in an under 200 square foot (19 square meters) cabin, managing fine without feeling confined.

Closer view of the cruise ship with passengers on their verandas. We always book a “veranda or balcony cabin” as opposed to those shown below the veranda levels which include “ocean view” and “inside cabins” none of which has appealed to us. Being able to stand outside day or night has been a highly enjoyable aspect of cruising.

As for “getting our ducks in a row,” preparing for the next location requires considerable online research along with many conversations by email with the owner or manager. 

In the case of the upcoming next house in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, we’ve already had numerous chats with Susan, the owner, who’s been very helpful and informative.

With the house 89 miles, 144 kilometers from the airport, prearranging transportation is vital. It’s not a “grab a taxi” kind of ride. Susan suggested an air-conditioned shuttle service which most likely is a van type vehicle.

A tug boat passing at a distance.

How easily we recall the shuttle service we used for the four-hour drive on rough roads with no AC from Belize City to Placencia in 90F, 32C. We assumed at that point that this would be our reality for the long haul and anything better would be a bonus. We assumed correctly. Anytime we have a vehicle with AC for long drives, we’re pleasantly pleased and surprised.

Also, in many taxis and shuttles, if we’re getting a “deal” for the transportation we don’t ask the driver to turn on the AC with the outrageous cost of fuel on many islands. For example, here in Savusavu with Rasnesh, our round trip cost to the village including helping us carry the groceries to the house totals USD $13.92, FJD $30.  We don’t ask him to turn on the AC.

Originally, he’d quoted us USD $9.28, FJD $20 for the round trip. But, after a few trips, we negotiated upwards if he’s helped carry our entire week’s groceries up the long, steep, and uneven path to the house. It takes him, young and strapping as he is, an extra five minutes and worth every penny of the extra USD $4.64, FJD $10 to us.

A barge passing at a distance.

As for transportation in the upcoming Pacific Harbour, Susan suggested it’s not worth renting a car when there’s plenty of equally low-cost drivers in the area and many markets and restaurants within walking distance. 

The thought of being able to walk to go out to lunch or dinner, if we can find a suitable restaurant for my diet, is exciting. Here, we don’t attempt an evening out when the walk to the house in the dark would surely be too treacherous along with the fact that we’d been unable to find suitable dining establishments for my needs. 

Don’t get me wrong, there appear to be some excellent restaurants in Savusavu as reviewed by tourists on TripAdvisor. It’s just the tricky diet that keeps us from trying, when this area is less populated by tourists than many others thus, most restaurants serve the local starchy, sugary sauces and foods I can’t eat, savored (rightfully so) by most tourists.

If I didn’t eat this way, surely I dragged Tom out to lunch for which he’d go kicking and screaming when he can’t stand the taste of the spices in typical tropical meals. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t season our food. I do so with gusto. Over the years I’ve learned how much he’ll tolerate while still enjoying the meal. Undoubtedly, his taste buds have branched out but, curry and/or Moroccan seasoning is not his thing. 

With the mosquitos on a rampage after dark,  as food for the bats, we’ve had difficultly standing outside to take photos of the flying bats we see through the windows as darkness falls. We took this photo through the glass door, excited it came out as well as it did.  Having had a fear of bats most of my life, I am no longer fearful of these important mammals, vital to the ecosystem.

Today, we’ll arrange the shuttle from the airport in Nadi (pronounced Nan-di in Fijian) to Pacific Harbour and once settled, a taxi to the market to purchase groceries and supplies for our first meal in the new location.  Much of this, we’ll figure out as we go. 

With our experience these past three years, we’ve been able to take many of the steps in these transitions in our stride. Moving and packing everything we own every few months has its challenges, more in the anticipation than in doing so. 

Packing takes no more than an hour at most, unpacking 30 minutes. “Getting our ducks in a row” in a new location seems to take a few days as we become familiar with the new property and its surroundings. 

For the most part, we enjoy the process, especially once we’ve arrived in the new location with all of our bags in tow and discover the property is what we’d expected.  We both sigh with relief knowing one more step in our journey has brought us to our “new home” wherever that may be.

Its been raining for the past three days and nights. The heat has lessened although the humidity is high. There are no ants or fruit flies in view. We’re content. May all of you be content as well!

Photo from one year ago today, November 8, 2014:

The Maui countryside took our breath away as we drove on roads far from the main highways. For more details, please click here.

Good luck or rightful circumstance?…Accepting old age…Choices we make…

A rusty sailboat remains on the shore.

With only 29 days until we depart Savusavu to fly to the largest island of Viti Levu, in the Fiji chain of over 330 islands, we’ve started to feel as if time is flying faster now. 

The grocery store where we shop for a few items each week.

Living life in chunks of three months or more, or at times less, seems to have an effect of speeding up our sense of time, more than at any time in our lives. Perhaps, its as simple as old age creeping up on us interspersed with a lifetime of varied experiences that has a tendency to feel as if each day flies by way too quickly when little time is needed for thoughtful consideration of what comes next.

As one ages, generally, we know what’s next, barring any of life’s curve balls which often come hard and fast. In our youth, each day was a new challenge and we often felt we needed “good luck” to move through the paces.

We walked along a side street after spending time at the lagoon.

Now older, we realize that good luck is nice for fantasizing but pointless to expect. Our lives are what we make of them.  As much as we extol the virtues of “safari luck” much of it has occurred due to our efforts to be in the right place at the right time due to careful and diligent planning.

Did that unbelievable sunset photo magically appear for our photo taking?  Or, had we been watching for days to get the perfect shot?  Most often, it’s the latter. Serendipity is lovely. Coincidence is thought-provoking. None of it would transpire unless we made the effort to put ourselves in an advantageous position to grasp all of their benefits.

The reflection of the blue sky on the still water in the Savusavu lagoon.

The rest? Such as good health? Is that luck? Is it luck that the person who ate junk food all of their lives lived to the ripe age of 95, quietly passing in their sleep? Is it bad luck that someone like me who made a concerted effort all of my life to avoid illness and attain good health spent many years with illness and disability?

With my bad health reversed for over four years from a drastic change of diet, do I live on the precarious edge in anticipation of the “other shoe to drop?” I can’t. My newer, healthier self knows full well that stress can easily exacerbate any condition regardless of diet or lifestyle adaptation. It’s not luck. It’s a choice. And even then, with all my best efforts, it could change in a single minute.

A skinny nursing dog scrounging for food among the rocks.

As Tom walks this course with me varying only when dining out and aboard ship, he too knows the fragility of good health. For him, he’s developed a certain sense of confidence in the fact that good genes may play a role when his mother was 98 when she passed away in May 2008. I remind him he can’t count on his genes alone.  Lifestyle dictates the greater influence.

How do I know this? I’m no expert. But, it doesn’t take an expert to look around a roomful of seniors at a retirement community to see those enjoying life the most are active, conscientious about diet, and possessing a positive outlook on life. 

We often wonder who owns these boats?  Are they ex-pats, living in Fiji or visitors stopping for supplies after being out to sea?

Sure, in old age the skin may sag, the faces become lined with a lifetime of expression and sunlight, and the teeth yellowed if they’re still their own. But, the smiles are still the same, the love and hope in their hearts are still the same, and the desire to live every moment of life to the fullest remains constant, however much time is left.

Do we all naturally come to some peaceful acceptance that at some point, we’ll no longer be on the earth?  Yes, to those of us who find a spiritual path along the way which we particularly hang onto as the time nears, giving us hope that when “the fat lady sings” (please, excuse the expression), we’ll see the white light as the doors open to welcome us inside.

Some of the sailboats are in pristine condition.

For us, these thoughts and realities mean one thing…live to the fullest. And if that means working in a soup kitchen to feed the poor, delivering meals to the informed, or taking photos to share the treasures of this bountiful earth with others, we all have a privilege of making choices befitting who we are and who’ll we’ll eventually become. 

For those unable to reach out, perhaps sitting in a chair day after day, watching the latest talk show, old reruns on TV, or listening to the radio, unable to go out without help or not at all, they too are deserving of life’s bounty, if only in recalling and if possible, sharing those times of their lives that held meaning and purpose.

View across the Savusavu Harbour to Nawii Island where property is currently under construction.

Who are we to judge anyone’s choices? We live in a world of “political correctness” to the point of ad nauseam leaving us bereft of what we can and can’t express in our next breath when all that’s really required is dignity and respect ingrained into our beings, not all this rhetoric about “who’s right and who’s wrong.” 

We, Tom and I, are judged by others on occasion for our lifestyle…how could we possibly leave family behind to fulfill our own dreams? We could spend hours “defending” our choices. But, we choose not to do so. We simply chose a powerful overriding sense of adventure that we somehow had to fulfill…while we can.

View of Nawii Island across the harbor.

No luck is involved here. No good fortune was required for us to live this life on the move. It was earned. It was nurtured. We sacrificed a lot to achieve it, none of which we regret. It all revolved around choices and a desire for happiness and fulfillment in our older years that when we “stepped outside the box” was staring us in the face. We merely followed the path.

We can’t and don’t judge those who choose to spend their retirement sitting on a barstool in a local pub gabbing with old friends or hovering over the next episode of Dr. Phil. We all have the privilege of defining who we are through our daily lives and actions. 

If happiness is on the menu, choose it at your own discretion when, in doing so, there’s a price to pay. Hand over your cash or credit card without regret, knowing every moment was well worth every last penny spent.

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2014:

Every afternoon the sea turtles swam to the shore outside our condo in Maui. To see a video we shot of the turtles and more, please click here.

Tom’s haircut in Fiji…Deal of the century…A weird day with some glitches…

Tom, standing outside Kumar’s Hair Salon which generally attracts more men than women. We awaited Tom’s turn while sitting on the bench to the right.

Tom hadn’t had a haircut since July when we were living in Trinity Beach, Australia. It was a typical haircut in a chain type shop not unlike one would find in many major cities that offered both women’s and men’s cuts.  There are no chain-type shops, restaurants, or fast food establishments here in Vanua Levu, Fiji.

A few days ago, Junior decided it was time to fumigate our house after we’ve already been here a full two months. Insect control is often handled in between guest’s coming and goings. After these two months, we’d begun to find black fruit flies with the nastiest bites, comparable to bites from the sandflies in Morocco. 

With dozens of red inflamed bites on my hands, arms, legs, and feet we didn’t hesitate to have Junior fumigation the house. I didn’t ask what chemicals he uses. There was no point in making a big deal. It simply had to be done. With a plan to be shopping part of the day on Thursday, the fumigation at 11 am would be ideal.

View of Savusavu Bay lagoon while we waited for Ratnesh.

He’d planned to run the floor fan for hours afterward ensuring the air was cleared as much as possible.  Considering we don’t even have fruit in the house, it was odd we had fruit flies. 

The only reason we could surmise was from the veggies we continually purchased at the Farmers Market each week. Although I always wash everything as soon as we were home, it’s possible fruit flies could nest in the house.

These insidious creatures are nearly impossible to swat and when I was able to kill a few on my skin, my blood gushed out of them onto the bitten spot. Yuck. When we returned home we could already feel the difference in the air. As much as we’d prefer to live a low chemical lifestyle sometimes we have to weigh which scenario is ultimately more harmful. We opted for chemicals over bloody fruit flies.

Shoppers walked along the short strip mall.

Most often when Rasnesh drops us off in the village, we can plan he’ll be able to pick us up outside the door of the New World Market within 10 minutes of our call to let him know we’re ready. 

The grocery trolleys aren’t able to go outside due to a flight of steps and we have no choice but to carry all of our groceries outside to wait under the overhang in the shade while we wait. This would also include all the produce and eggs we’d purchased earlier at the Farmer’s Market.

After he collects us and our many bags at New World Market we then head a kilometer down the road to Fiji Meats where Helen keeps our standing order under refrigeration. It’s a good plan.

The strip mall is next door to the side entrance to the Farmers Market where we stopped for veggies after the haircut.

I started shopping at the Vodafone kiosk to purchase data while Tom ran across the street to the ATM.  Our only credit card purchases in the village are at the modern grocery store and the pharmacy. The rest, including Vodafone, require cash.  

In most cases, we can complete our litany of shopping stops in about an hour; Vodafone, Farmers Market, and New World in that order. With plenty of cash on hand, we headed to the barbershop Ratnesh had recommended seeing his friend Kumar, the most popular barber in the area. Rathnesh alerted us to the cost for a cut and suggested we let Kumar know we were friends. It helps to “know someone.”

After a few minutes of waiting outside the tiny shop, Ratnesh appeared explaining he had a fare that would take a few hours. He explained he’d return to pick us up as quickly as possible. 

Tom explained his haircut preference to Kumar, who listened attentively to ensure he’s getting it right.

At that point, the later pickup seemed inconsequential. It was a little after 11:20 am and he expected to be back by 1:30 pm, more time than we needed to shop. We’d find a way to stay busy.

There were a few men ahead of Tom. We sat outside the shop on a wobbly wooden bench people watching. The village is packed with the locals doing their shopping. We seldom observe travelers from afar. 

Many coming to Savusavu are staying in resorts and hotels, dining out for most meals requiring only tourist type shopping in the clothing and trinket shops. Seldom do we see tourists in the markets other than those who may be sightseeing.

Kumar assessing how he’d cut Tom’s hair.

As we sat outside awaiting Tom’s turn, we chuckled over the irony of our lives.  Who’d have thought years ago, that we’d be sitting on a wobbly bench in the sweltering heat after living on this fairly remote island for two months so far, absorbing the fascinating sights, sounds, and smells as we embrace the local culture and customs? 

For some odd reason, we feel right at home, sweaty clothes and all, swatting off the flies and frequently extending a heartfelt “bula” to a local passerby. Many in the village may have seen us over and again perhaps assuming we’re here for the “long haul” as newly implanted ex-pats. In this small village, everyone knows one another.

When Tom’s was beckoned into the shop, I followed behind finding a cozy spot to sit. Kumar didn’t mind if I took photos and I took these shown here today.

Kumar did a great job of trimming.

Tom opted for the buzz cut, as Kumar took one swipe after another of his long locks as I watched them fall to the floor. It had been four months since his last haircut.  His rationale for his shortest cut to date was simple. In two months, almost to the day, we’d be on our next cruise and his hair would be the perfect length. 

Kumar performed a meticulous cut. With 13 years in business, he easily knew what he was doing. We were impressed by his attention to detail. Here’s the odd part…the cost…for the haircut taking almost 20 minutes as he fine-tuned his work, it cost a paltry FJD $4, USD $1.85! Tom left another FJD $2, USD $.93 tip which Kumar greatly appreciated. Tipping is not expected or required in Fiji. Total haircut expenditure: FJD $6, USD $2.78!

By the time we wandered through the Farmers Market, it was shortly before noon. Making our purchases, we were out the door in less than 10 minutes. With a shortlist for New World Market which wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, we decided to kill some time wandering along the shore, taking photos.

The tiny shop contained two makeshift barber chairs.  Zoom in for the price list in Fiji dollars.

It was hot, humid, and “buggie.” After sitting in the shade for a while, we made our way to the pharmacy for band-aids and then took off for the market. The cool air-conditioned air was a welcome relief as we wandered as slowly as possible through the three aisles filling our trolley with the few items we needed. 

At 1:10 pm, I called Rasnesh telling him we were checking out and would be waiting for him outside the store in five minutes. He was still one hour away, having picked up a customer across the island in Labasa at another airport.  How we’d keep our food cold standing outside the store escaped us. Ratnesh suggested he’d send a friend to pick us up within 10 minutes.

That worked for us. Ten minutes later Mickey arrived and we loaded the trunk with our purchases. Now, we’d head to Helen’s to pick up our roasted chickens and meat and we’d be done. 

The shop was clean, although tiny including the sale of products including sunglasses.

“Oh, oh,” Tom said, “There’s Helen walking down the road on her way to the bank!” The meat market would be closed in her absence. When we drove up to her shop, there was a note taped to the door that read, “Back at 2 pm.” It was 1:25.

We could hardly ask Mickey to wait for 35 minutes. We asked him to take us home and we’d figure it out later.  As we approached the house, groceries in hand, we heard a loud irritating noise. 

As it turned out Junior had left the fan on high oscillate mode to clear the air after the extermination and the fan broke from the housing causing it to rattle against the cage. We shut it off.

The hot, humid weather inspired Tom to go for the shortest cut he’s had yet.

OK.  We had no dinner prepared when we’d planned to eat one of the two roasted chickens we weren’t able to pick up. The fan we move back into the bedroom at night wasn’t working and we were hot and sweaty with no relief in sight by bedtime.

Once we put away the perishables, I sat down at my computer and notified Mario explaining the fan dilemma.  Then, I called Ratnesh asking if he had enough cash on him to pay for and pick up our meat and bring it out to us before Helen closed the shop at 5 pm. He agreed. Then, I called Helen, who’d returned to the store, letting her know Ratnesh was picking up and paying for our meat.

Within minutes, Junior arrived taking the fan with him to make the repairs. By 5 pm, Ratnesh arrived with the meat. We reimbursed him for the meat, asking him how much extra he wanted for picking up the meat. We agreed to an extra FJD $5, USD $2.36. By 5:20, junior returned with the fan, in tip-top shape after his repairs.  We were thrilled.

Boats in Savusavu Bay lagoon.

By 5:30, the produce was washed and refrigerated, the dinner salad was chilling, the huge bag of green beans was cleaned and washed and we sat down to play Gin for an hour before dinner.

Amid these relatively innocuous inconveniences, we stayed calm and optimistic that all would work out. We were more concerned over the fan than any of it. We could have easily whipped up something for dinner. 

View of Savusavu Bay lagoon.

The biting fruit flies were gone. Tom won the Gin game and we have a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, salad, green beans, and a low carb muffin slathered in New Zealand butter. We watched a few shows after dinner and had a restful night. Life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2014:

Overall, groceries were more expensive in Hawaii. However, with the fact, as shown here that we purchase no junk food, we can get by for less cost than others may. We used the unsweetened chocolate for making low carb fudge made with cream cheese, butter, and chocolate. We’ve been unable to find the ingredients to make fudge in Fiji. For more details on grocery shopping in Maui, please click here.