Day #176 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The adventures in Kenya continue…Dining in a cave…

Dinner in a cave at Diani Beach, Kenya, seven years ago today. I thought Tom looked great in this photo, but I reminded myself of Morticia wearing all black or, on the day in Abu Dhabi, UAE, when we entered the famed White Mosque, requiring that I wore the black abaya in the 100+ degree weather.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Standing at the top of the stairway leading down to the natural cave, we were able to look down at the bar below. Every effort was made to maintain the original integrity of this environment when it became a restaurant over 100 years ago, renovated in the 1980s.

As we recall the photos and story from seven years ago today, we are reminded of how we may have taken our “freedom” for granted. To be able to dine out, be outdoors, see wildlife, flowers, plants, and trees and people were always a delight, but, perhaps, will be all the more meaningful going forward.

The lounge in the bar where we had our drinks while waiting for our table. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:30 pm with most diners not appearing until 8:30 or later. I guess us old folks from the US are early diners. We’ve found that dinner is typically served at 8:00, often 9:00 pm or later as we’ve traveled the world.

As mentioned in a prior post, we’re attempting to determine a lesson or purpose that will serve us in years to come from these many months in lockdown. Will a greater sense of freedom be the answer to this question? For our regular readers, it’s been evident all these years that we’ve been grateful and appreciative of our surroundings, never taking anything for granted. Should a sense of freedom become the focal point for our past and future appreciation and gratitude?

Another view of the seating areas in the bar, depicting somewhat of a Moroccan theme, which was ahead for us at this point when we’d booked a holiday home in Marrakesh, Morocco, a mere six months later.

Today, as we see how much enjoyment we derived from yet another evening’s foray in sampling Kenya’s dining various establishments in Diani Beach, my heart did a flutter thinking how much fun that would be now. The variety of food options, the ambiance, and the possibility of a cocktail or glass of wine, sends my taste buds and brain into a frenzy of hopefulness and excitement.

View of the walls in the bar. All lighting in the walls and at the table as a result of candles, creating a warm atmosphere, romantic to say the least.

This special experience in Kenya on this date seven years ago, dining in a cave was memorable, so much so we returned a second time. The ambiance was over-the-top as shown in today’s photos, the food was fresh and delicious and the service was exemplary.

Diners began to filter in around 8:00 pm, filling all tables by the time we were ready to leave around 9:45 pm. We’d been warned not to rush the servers in Africa. Many countries’ servers are accustomed to taking their time in delivering the bill. Most often, as is the case in Kenya and many other countries, tips are only allowed to be paid in cash, not added to the credit card slip.  That required us to keep adequate cash on hand.

The ambiance of any venue is definitely a  factor in enjoying a meal. Whether it be in a pleasant holiday home, comfortably situated at a dining room or kitchen table, dining out in a lively atmosphere of a popular everyday dining establishment or a cozy, romantic spot such as illustrated in today’s photos, it all adds to the enjoyment of the meal and of course, the companionship.

Compliments of the chef, we were both served this tangy GF marinated salad. Tom took one bite turning his serving over to me, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In this case, in Diani Beach, we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. The unique decor, lighting, and service added another element to our meals. We’d expected it to be more expensive and were pleasantly surprised by the reasonable bill, which, with the cost of the driver (who waited for us in the parking lot), the food, tax, tips, and beverages, the total was only US $68, INR 4999, for the entire evening. I didn’t order alcohol, only a Perrier, my drink of choice at that time.

This was the view to my right as we sat at a cozy, not too small table against one of the walls. We always prefer a wall, table as opposed to one positioned in the center of the room.

As mentioned in the past, I didn’t drink any alcohol for about 20 years. I didn’t have a “drinking” problem, but just decided to stop for health reasons, thinking it was “better for me.” Ultimately, it seemed to make no difference at all in my health whether I drank wine or not.

My dinner, Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce was well seasoned and pleasing to the palate, although the serving size was small. Rather than a chicken breast, this serving was a small single thigh which with the vegetables proved to be sufficient.

After open-heart surgery, the cardiologist and surgeon suggested that drinking red wine in moderation was good for the heart. I’m still not certain if that’s been proven inconclusive, but for now, I’ll go with that theory. Good grief, one has to enjoy life, too! Then again, there’s certainly no wine in my life at this point in time, and won’t be until we leave here someday.

Tom’s dinner of two small Filet Mignon, each with a different sauce.

When looking online, it appears that Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant is still open, even during this time of COVID-19. If we ever return to Diani Beach, Kenya, which we may, we’ll visit this fine restaurant once again, to renew the experiences we had in 2013.

The stairway going up and out of Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. Gee, we’ve gone up and down a number of stone stairs in those past months!

For now, we have what we have; safety, relative comfort, air-con, a comfortable bed, housekeeping, shows to stream in the evenings, good WiFi, and… All of you beside us, encouraging us with your positive feedback each and every day.

May your day bring you comfort and peace of mind amid all this madness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 15, 2019:

The driveway from our house in St. Teath, Cornwall, England, to the narrow road. For more photos, please click here.

Late posting aboard ship today…

This morning after breakfast we attended a cruisecritic.com event and finished only a few minutes ago. I’m just getting started on today’s post with some spectacular photos of Sydney we’ll begin posting today.

We’ll be back in a few hours with today’s post. Thanks for your patience!

See you soon!

Together, three generations of haircuts at Supercuts on their last day before closing due to the lava, soon to arrive at the Pahoa Marketplace..Hysterical one year ago photo below!

At first, only Tom was going to get a haircut as he entered the Supercuts salon on their last days before evacuating due to the lava.

We all knew that the lava flow was expected to take out the Pahoa Marketplace by Christmas and that the shopping center was due to close. Together, we decided to visit a few of the vendors in the U-shaped strip mall before they closed permanently within 24 hours. 

Here is a link to the news story.

Tom’s hair had grown quite bushy over the past several weeks.  He refuses to use products to help tame his hair.  A little gel would go a long way.

Tom needed a haircut as well as TJ and Jayden. Why not, three generations of haircuts on Supercut’s last day? 

As we entered the busy shop, the smiles on the faces of the staff were astounding. Here’s they were, forced to relocate from a location where they earned their income, knew their customers and it felt like home. Luckily, they are finding a new home for their business in Hilo and Keaau.

Tom is at the far left.  TJ is in the middle and Jayden is on the far right after they decided they also needed haircuts. Three generations of Lymans having their haircuts simultaneously. Too cute!

As it turned out, all three of our boys were able to have their haircuts simultaneously, and thus, here are my photos of the process in action. What a sweet moment it was – three generations of Lyman boys getting a haircut in Hawaii as the lava is heading this way!  Memorable!!!

Later, we visited the Mamala Market, crowded with customers buying out their entire inventory at 50% off.  Unfortunately, we were several hours too late to really take advantage of the sales. All the meat, dairy, and produce were long gone.

Jayden was unsure of how he wanted his hair cut.  At 9, the possibilities are many.

However, as TJ and Sarah wheeled a cart of their own, loading up on snacks and beverages, I fast and furiously maneuvered through the crowds, trying to find items that would serve us well with the two houses filled with four families over the next many days.

Making food purchases at 50% off the already high prices was rewarding, to say the least. But, in all, I only spent $124.45 for a total of $248.90 worth of pricey products.

TJ sat quietly while his stylist snipped away.

I’d brought the camera in the store with me hoping to make a video of the numbers of people in the store and the fast emptying shelves. No more than 60 seconds in the store I spotted several signs stating “No photos or videos allowed” which was shortly also announced over the loudspeakers.

Always respectful of such warnings, I ran the camera back to the car to keep my hands free for shopping. With the carts jammed into the aisles and with the number of shoppers, I needed every limb free to maneuver through the crowds.

Tom went for his now usual buzz cut which seems to serve him well for a few months.

Even with the crowds, it wasn’t a bad experience. The other shoppers and staff were friendly, laughing and chatting, many potentially losing their homes, their livelihood, that which they’ve known and loved. The Hawaiian people are rare indeed.

Now for the rundown of the next few days as the remainder of our family begins to arrive; Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent on Sunday; Camille, Greg, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan on Monday. Tomorrow, Tom and I will pack all of our belongings and foodstuffs and move them to the house next door.

Done, done, and done.

Once packed, we’ll clean the master bedroom and bath, wash and change the bedding and towels, and totally clear out, only to return on January 3rd, two weeks later when the rental ends on the second house next door and family have begun to depart.

At noon tomorrow, the property manager will meet us at the second house to let us in and provide instructions.  Then, we’ll begin the process of transferring our stuff, putting everything away, and creating as much order as possible.

Jayden had a hard time explaining this type of cut.  Finally, the stylist figured it out. He was happy.

The next day Sunday, TJ, Sarah, and the boys will move in with us, moving all of their stuff over. This will leave each of our two families with one night alone in each of the two houses. 

With the cupboards and refrigerator emptied of our food, on Sunday morning, Tom and I will head to Hilo to grocery shop for all of us. My list is almost completed in the app on my phone. 

All the shops were being evacuated in the U-shaped shopping mall.

Since he tends to be “overly grumpy” at the grocery store and I am always “overly bubbly,’ he’ll wait in the car reading a book on his phone until a prearranged time when he’ll come inside, take my cart of non-perishables, and check out, handing me another cart.  I’ll finish shopping for perishable products. He’ll load the non-perishables into the minivan and wait for a second designated period, coming back inside to help to check out the perishables to also load them into the minivan.  Easy. 

When we return, we’ll unload everything into the first house, while I neatly arrange it all in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards for the yet to arrive two families. (At one point after shopping, Tom and TJ will have hauled the newly purchased items for the six of us over to the second house which I’ll arrange and organize as well).

The boys checked out the hardware store but they’d yet to offer discounts on merchandise.

TJ and Sarah have graciously agreed to clean the first house, the second floor with two bedrooms and a bath, which they’ve used exclusively, and the first floor we’ve all used; the two rooms, living room, and kitchen. 

With everyone’s tasks assigned, by Sunday night when Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent arrive, we’ll be organized and I’ll have made a fun dinner of “pulled pork” and side dishes. Somehow, as soon as we return from the grocery store, I’ll need to take time to cook the meat in the oven to ensure we have moist, tender meat for dinner, salad, and veggies.

And here it was, the Mamala grocery store with nary an available parking spot, selling everything at 50% off. By the time we arrived, we were too late, the same scenario we’d experienced at Longs Drug on the previous day.

Why not grocery shop on Saturday and have it out of the way? We may, after all, if time allows, do so on Saturday and be done with it which I’d prefer.

Whew!

Tom used his last $5 off coupon derived from shopping at Mamala to top off the tank.  The next day, the tanks were emptied and the gas station was closed permanently.

The holiday season for all of us can present a myriad of tasks and responsibilities far beyond our usual daily lives. So, is the case for us on this special holiday, spending time with our family being of the utmost concern.  Regardless of the amount of preparation, we long to be together and do each task with love and happiness in our hearts.

Have a fantastic Friday filled with frivolity!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, December 19, 2013:

We took this photo one year ago today with mom warthog’s chin resting on another baby warthogs while babies are nursing. We couldn’t stop laughing over this one and can’t stop smiling now as we see this again. For details of this date, please click here.

Kilauea lava flow heading toward the vacation homes we booked for our family vacation…Cause for concern…A year ago…A meal in the bush with wild animals surrounding us…

October 8, 2014 - small scale lava flow map
By drawing a straight line to the ocean from the current northeast flow of the lava to the darkened rectangular area on the coastline, this is the area where the two houses, next door to one another are located. This is a current map from the National Park Service.

When the lava from the Kilauea volcano on Big Island changed directions on June 27th and lava began to flow toward the village where the two houses are located that we rented for the holidays with our family, of course, we were very concerned.

When the varying daily lava flows slowly worked its way to the ocean near the two houses, we started following updates on a variety of websites including the National Park Service and United States Geological Service. 

The current narrow lava flows from Kilauea heading to the northeast. (Not our photo.)

Maps on both of these sites indicate that the lava is flowing to the neighborhood where the houses we’ve rented are located.
 
With poor WiFi signals on the past two ships, we were frustrated and worried over the almost month at sea. It wasn’t until we arrived in Honolulu on October 5th, that we had a strong signal and more than anything, have been able to get daily updates on the activity of the flow on the local news.

The two vacation rental houses are in the village of Pahoa as shown in the upper right of this map.  (Not our photo).  Please click here for notes from a meeting held in Pahoa in the Puna District on Friday evening with professionals on hand to discuss the status of the lava flow.

Why didn’t we post our concern? We didn’t want to alarm our family, many of whom read our daily posts until we had more information. 

Our biggest concerns have been as follows:
1.  The lava flow could wipe out the houses or we’d have to evacuate while in the houses.  (The lava flow is 100’s of feet per day at most providing ample time if evacuation is necessary).
2.  The road to the houses would be inaccessible when we arrive or are ready to depart
3.  We’d have to find another house large enough for our family that is still available for the Christmas holiday, a difficult proposition or, hotel rooms if necessary.

Thermal image of the lava flow.  (Not our photo).

As of this point with $1000’s paid in deposits and airline tickets, the owners of the two houses aren’t prepared to return our deposits until more is known over the next few weeks. The lava flow is difficult to predict. 

Last night an announcement was made on the local news that an emergency access road is in the works and will be completed in 45 to 60 days. This fact provided us with considerable relief. But, until we know the final course as the lava flows to the sea, we will stay on alert, prepared to make alternate plans as quickly as possible.

A view into one of the skylights of the lava tube supplying lava to the June 27th lava flow.” (Not our photo).

Everything we’ve heard and read is that the flow will make it to the main road two weeks from now, giving us time to make backup plans. It won’t be an easy task although we have no doubt that we’ll figure it out.

Obviously, our first concern is the safety of our family and secondly, to provide a worry-free environment in which we all can enjoy our precious time together.

Hawaii in general is a geological hot spot. The islands were created millions of years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions beneath the sea. Earthquakes are common on all of the islands. Please see this article for detailed information on the formation of the islands. Each of the islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago maintains active and currently inactive volcanoes as indicated in this article.

We’ve had “safari luck” in our travels, safety being the number one priority. We can only hope and pray that “safari luck” continues and soon, we can put the worries behind us to enjoy an amazing experience with our family.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2013:

A specially made breakfast was prepared for our safari group of six, with our guide Anderson happily preparing our table. We were excited to experience our first meal in the bush, the wild animals all around us in the Maasai Mara. What a glorious experience!  For details, please click here.

Almost ready to go…The final expenses for our time in South Africa…Many visitors came to say goodbye!…

Yesterday afternoon, two Kudus came to call.  Standing by the braai, he nibbled on the leaves of a tree.

All we have left to do is to pack the clothing we’re wearing now and close our bags. Our boarding passes are printed. 

Such a handsome guy.
Then there were two after we’d placed a few of our dwindling pellets on the stone.

The flight from Mpumalanga/Nelspruit to Johannesburg, South Africa has tighter luggage restrictions than our remaining flights but, we are close to complying for all of the flights. 

On the way to the Crocodile River, we saw this baby zebra nursing from its mom.  It looks as if the mom is pregnant again. Hum…does this dispel the thought that nursing moms can’t become pregnant?  Or was this a surrogate mom?

Yesterday was a very special day.  Two Mrs. Warthogs and babies visited us at the African Reunion House. Mr. Tree Frog left us last night, returning this morning. And, in the early afternoon, two male kudus came to call as shown in these precious photos.

Okee Dokee picked us up for one final visit to the Crocodile River. On the way, she stopped to speak to a passing motorist. In Afrikaans, he told her there were many Elephants on the river and to hurry. She translated for us and off we went. Safari luck. 

As we approached the Crocodile River lookout, we spotted only a few of the elephants we saw a moment later when we moved to a better viewing spot.
The Elephants were on the move when something startled them and when they spotted the Rhino on a mad run heading toward them.

Arriving at the river, my breath caught in my throat when we saw dozens of elephants and babies in a large herd. It was hard to believe. As I began taking photos, Okee Dokee spotted a rhino running at full speed toward the elephants. In a matter of seconds, the elephants made a mad dash up the hill of the riverbank leaving dust in their wake.  

There were many more than is shown here, off to the sides.

Rhinos and elephants have little risk from predators but on a rare occasion, they may get into a scuffle.  Something frightened all of them and they ran for their lives. We’ll never know what transpired. But, getting these photos was pure luck, safari luck. In a matter of minutes, they were gone with the exception of a few stranglers at a distance. 

If we’d arrived five minutes later, we’d never have seen them running.

After our last delicious dinner at Jabula Lodge while hanging out with Dawn and Leon, we returned home to find the five zebras standing at the railing waiting for us. How long had they been there? Would we have missed them if we’d stayed out 15 minutes longer or where they bound and determined to wait until we returned? We’ll never know.

They left dust in their wake as they ran to safety.

Feeding them our remaining supply of pellets from our hands, my heart did a flip flop, aching when they finally wandered off. This morning our favorite walking bird, the francolin, padded around the veranda within feet of us. We’ll miss them all.

The zebra family was back waiting for us!

As for our total living expenses in South Africa, including rent, groceries, entertainment, pellets, dining out, tips, airfare, transportation (including the rental car we had for one month), and SIM card and data fees, for a grand total of US $13,120.11, ZAR $146,713 which translates to US $4373.37, ZAR $48,904 for each of the three months we’ve spent in South Africa. 

It was wonderful to see them one more time.

With only a few hours until we walk out the door to begin the long drive to the airport, we’re as well prepared as we can be. Its time to “let go.” Having “let go” of so much in our lives over this past year and a half, this a familiar feeling, one we know we’ll conquer in time.

We happily tossed a few of the remaining pellets their way.

Hopefully, during the upcoming 29 hours of travel time, we’ll have access to an electrical source to charge our equipment, making it possible to document this lengthy journey along the way. 

So, we say goodbye and thank you to Marloth Park, to South Africa, to our friends, human and animal, only hoping that someday we’ll return. A special thank you to Louise and Danie who’s kindness, consideration, generosity, and love added so much to our comfort and enjoyment.

Over the coming years, as we continue on our worldwide journey, on many occasions we’ll tell the story of our glorious experiences in South Africa, bringing tears to our eyes and gratitude to our hearts. 

But, for today, we continue on…

Thank you, Mr. Tree Frog for serving as the mascot for all the “small things” that brought us so much pleasure during our time in Marloth Park. Even you will be remembered.

Not so pretty things…Archaic male and female roles…Dining at the most exquisite resort in Diani Beach…photos, photos and more photos!

Color at sunset from our outdoor living room.

Loss of water a few nights ago put Tom in a tither when we were preparing to go to the Swahili Beach Resort for dinner. He was mid-shower soaped up from head to toe when suddenly there was no water. Using bottled water he rinsed off as well as possible.  Luckily, awhile later we had water again.


We’d never noticed the amber eyes on these lizards until taking this photo.

Yesterday, in the 90F (32C) weather, humidity visible in the air, I grabbed one of the two wood cutting boards to take outside to chop and dice veggies while sitting at the glass table in our outdoor living room. We were having a Mexican roast beef salad, perfect for a hot evening.  


Tom’s hair still had shampoo in it when the water went off during his shower before we headed out to the Swahili Beach resort for a fabulous dinner, described with photos below.

Often its too hot to stand in the tiny galley kitchen to chop and dice and I’ve often chosen to take it outside.  Placing a clean towel on the table, the cutting board and a sharp knife and I’m good to go.  Keeping a close eye on potential crawling or flying visitors I chop away, jumping up numerous time to place each item in a bag in the refrigerator while I return to do more.

Luckily, I’d showered hours before him.  

As I placed the wooden board on the table to begin chopping, I must admit, I shrieked.  On the board was a no less than 6″ (15 cm) centipede, my nemesis, my most feared crawling thing so far, that inflicts a bite that is not only poisonous but may require a hospital visit and treatment. 


The entrance to the Swahili Beach Resort.

What do I usually do when the insect is horrifying? Call for Tom.  Now, please understand that I’ve always been an independent women, capable of taking care of myself.  For many years, I lived alone in our old lake house (before Tom) after the boys were grown and out on their own. 


If a creature ventured into the house, I took care of it, setting traps if necessary or devising a plan. I was never the “helpless” woman. 


For some odd reason and for the first time in my life, once Tom entered my life over 22 years ago, his loving “take care of my woman” persona became evident, allowing me to lighten up a bit and letting him step in to the rescue.  Mind you, relinquishing this “take charge” attitude didn’t come quickly or easily.  It evolved over these past 22 plus years.


One beautifully appointed lounge area after another at Swahili Beach Resort.

In the past year since leaving the US, I’ve totally let go, letting him be “the man.” Most of my girlfriends will admonish me for this stereotypical, archaic attitude but when it comes to creepy crawling or flying things, heavy lifting and checking out scary noises, I have no problem. 


Every area was decorated with the finest of furnishings.

As for other decisions, well, you know the rest if you’ve been reading many of our posts.  A headstrong, determined “know it all” I’ve forged my way into an equal stance with my equally headstrong, determined “know it all” husband. I often brag (to him) that my method is subtle and diplomatic whereby his method can be pushy and irritable.  In any case, magically, we get along extraordinarily well, seldom ruffling each other’s feathers.

The bar was inviting and comfortable.  We were anxious to get to the buffet
as it neared 8:00 pm.

So, Tom bravely took the wood cutting board from my hands, shook off the centipede to the ground and stomped, crunched, stomped, crunched until it was nothing but a gag inducing mess.  When Hesborn arrived later in the day, I asked him to remove the ugly moist turning moldy cutting boards from this house, never asking for another.  He did.


The walkway toward the pool area. 

I’m sorry I didn’t taken a photo of the centipede on the board.  I had an awful squeamish look on my face for hours and could hardly think of anything else.  Somehow food and centipedes wasn’t a good mix for me.


The walkway over one small arm of the vast swimming pool.

A short time later, Hesborn appeared with what looked like a new cutting board and I jumped for joy.  One only need ask Hesborn or Hans for anything and they happily comply.  Why hadn’t I asked for a new cutting board after fiercely scrubbing and bleaching these two rotting boards day after day?


The dining area by the buffet, although not air conditioned as most restaurants, had a bit of an ocean breeze but was still fairly warm for comfortable dining.

Then, yesterday around 5:00 pm, the power went out.  Within 90 minutes, Hans had the generator working and we were able to prepare dinner as the sun went down.  We dressed in our BugsAway clothing and proceeded to have a lovely evening as usual.


The salad were fresh and cold, many of which I could pile onto my plate.

Also, yesterday, we decided it was time to check out our luggage in preparation for packing, only to discover that the zippers on my single large suitcase was completely corroded from the humidity and salt water air.  It wouldn’t budge.  This was worrisome.  There isn’t a store within hours where we’d be able to purchase a large piece of luggage, nor would time allow for shipping. 



The crab, vegetable and apple salad had no added sugar so I picked out the few chunks of the apple.  The salad on the right containing rice was off limits. 

Asking Hesborn for spray can of lubricant, he quickly darted off, returning minutes later with a can.  Spraying the zipper thoroughly, Tom was unable to get it to work.  Finally, this morning, we asked Hesborn for a pair of pliers, a word he wasn’t familiar with.  I pinched my fingers together to convey the message and he got it, returning only a minute later with pliers.  Now, we were in business! 

The chicken satay were made for me without soy sauce and sugar.

Tom went to work on the zipper with success.  What a relief!  That could have been quite a disaster. Soon, we’ll tackle the packing. It’s been difficult to get motivated in this heat and humidity.

The cooking stations were manned by conscientious cooks catering to my every need. This dish normally made with flour was done so using chicken broth and cream, reduced to a creamy sauce.
The steamed veggies on the left were acceptable but the creamed item on the right was not.  Without the chef’s assistance, this would have been obvious to me.

As for the dining experience on Saturday night, after Tom had removed some of the soap but not all from his hair, we were off for the Swahili Beach Resort.

With 21 restaurants listed and rated on TripAdvisors, one would think choosing where to dine would have been a breeze.  Not the case. With a wide range of reviews ranging from “best dinner ever” to “don’t waste your time” we’re always in a quandary as to where we’ll dine next.


My salad plate.

With a mere 11 days until leaving Kenya coupled with a plan to use our remaining groceries, we expect to dine out less than we’d originally planned.  After counting the possible number of meals remaining in our inventory, its likely we’ll dine out two more times after tonight, when we’ll be returning to Blue Marlin which has had consistently good food. 


My divine plate of food from the Swahili Beach buffet.  That’s not pasta in the red sauce.  It’s grilled calamari, kind of like a squid spaghetti. without noodles.   

With a not-uncommon hit and miss with some of our prior favorites, we’ve decided to repeat those that have been most consistent.  Our previous try-something-new plan has gone by the wayside as we’ve run out of options and most amazingly, time.


This past Saturday as shown in these photos, we tried the Swahili Beach Resort by far, the most luxurious resort we’ve visited thus far with over-the-top service, food and ambiance. Dark when we arrived, we’d wished we’d come earlier to see the amazing décor, the massive infinity pool, the gardens and the beach. 



Watermelon carving seems to be quite the art as we’ve observed in many countries.  Those
are small cuts of cake with mango slices on the plate in front of the carving.

Surprisingly, it too had mixed reviews which may have influenced avoiding it until these last few weeks.  Had we known how wonderful it would be, we would have made it a regular on our list.  For KES $1400, US $16.41 per couple per day, we could have used their pool, if staying for meals. 


The dessert always look appetizing to me but only for viewing.  Tom hasn’t particularly cared for desserts in Kenya since they use less sugar than in the US. Not surprisingly, most of the locals are slim and fit in appearance. 

Impossible to lay outside at this house due to the bugs in the grass, we’ve missed our short stints in the sun which we also found nearly impossible in Tuscany, due to the bees.  Languishing by the pool in Belize was an experience we’ve missed.  Soon, in South Africa, we’ll have our own pool at our house which sun provided, gets us back into a little pool and sunning time.

I felt as if I was back on one of our 8 cruises with a cheese plate in front of me for dessert.

Swahili Beach Resort’s buffet blew us away!  Once I explained my dietary restrictions to the restaurant manager, showing my Swahili translation list on my phone, the head chef proceeded to walk me around the buffet showing me every item that fit my criteria. 

After I’d seen it all, he grabbed a plate for me, staying at my side as we walked from cooking station to station of freshly prepared items, adding food to the plate. 

When we reached the salad area, he grabbed a second plate, piling on more appropriate items, finally carrying my plates back to our table.  Tom, of course, busied himself piling food on his own plate, none of which contained any vegetables, as usual, all of which was off limits to me.  

Tom stood next to this hand carved wood sculpture to illustrate it’s massive size.

It was a memorable evening.  The total bill for our dinner including tip was KES $5300, US $62.13 and the round trip taxi fare, as always, was KES $1100, US $12.90.  The evening was pricier than usual but after the glorious experience, we hardly complained.


Power is back on.  Water is working. Suitcase zipper is working. New cutting board is ready for chopping and dicing for another eight meals and once again, we’re back on track. Will we return to Swahili Beach Resort one more time?  I don’t think so.  I don’t want to spoil the memory.

Last night’s unusual dining experience…Poisonous puffer fish?? Tom’s ruffled feathers…

I would’ve loved to try the pufferfish (click to see NG’s pufferfish video), a deadly poisonous fish if not cleaned properly, but I passed since it was flour battered and fried. “Chips” in Kenya translates to French fries, not potato chips, which Tom promptly figured out.

With approximately 26 hotels/resorts along a 10.2 km (6.34 miles) stretch of beach across the road, there are plenty of dining options for our planned three dinners out per week.  We’ve tried many so far, with nine more dinners out to go until we leave Kenya on November 30th.

It’s a little surprising to us that we’re running out of repeat options.  The issues primarily revolve around Tom’s picky taste buds than my restricted way of eating. A decent piece of grilled fish, chicken or beef, a side of veggies and I’m content.  Tom, on the other hand, is a much more particular diner, although he’s willingly tried many new items in the past year. 

Much to my liking, many meals in Kenya are vegetable-based included eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli, all of which I can have. Unfortunately, many of the vegetable dishes are made with rice or flour, neither of which I can have.Tom only eats carrots and green beans. Thus, dining out is not always as easy as it may seem.
The entrance at the Baobab Resort and Spa. The white carving on the left of this appears out of place when in fact it was a post that was included in the photo. 

Last night we tried another resort new to us, Baobab Beach Resort and Spa, as we’ve made a point of doing as often as possible.\Oddly, few local residents dine at any of the resort’s restaurants. Each time our driver pulls up to the security gate at one of the resorts, the guards look inside the vehicle checking us out, asking why we’re there. 

When we explained that we have a dinner reservation, they looked surprised. Of course, we appreciate their conscientious “guarding” of each property. Most diners are hotel guests of the resort rather than “outsiders” like us.

Having made a reservation for last night’s dinner on Monday, receiving an email confirmation as required to get beyond the gates, we felt confident that our arrival would be welcomed and seamless. Last night, it was quite different than with past reservations.

The resort lobby had multiple lounging areas.  Crooked lamp shade.

After going through two guarded gates, Alfred dropped us off at the main entrance to the resort as the well-dressed security guard greeted us with the often-used enthusiastic “hujambo” (“hello”, the “h” is not pronounced); “karibu” (welcome) to which we responded, “hujambo” and “asante” (thank you). When explaining we were there for dinner only. He referred us to the registration desk. 

We explained that we were there for dinner, but the staff person couldn’t find our name in the system. Stymied, again, we explained we were not staying at the resort, but had a dinner reservation. 

The décor in many resorts is similar leaning toward somewhat of a Moroccan theme.

Then, he asked for written proof of our reservation. Although we always carry our passports and ID when going out, we’ve never been asked to provide written proof for a dinner reservation. The thought of digging out our travel printer for dinner reservations has never occurred to us.

After no less than 15 minutes while waiting at the desk with various staff members speaking to one another in Swahili, we were told that the only dining option was for the buffet, at KES $2000, US $23.45 per person, must be paid now at the reservations desk in advance. We’d never heard of such a thing. 

Preferring not to make a scene, plus with our driver already gone and with no other immediate dining options, Tom pulled out a credit card and paid the KES $4000, US $46.89 which included all fees and taxes (not tips).

The dining room at Baobab Beach Resort and Spa.

Upon signing the slip, the staff member explained that the buffet dinner included basic bar drinks and soda. I wondered why none of this was explained at the time of making the reservation; the price, the fact that it was a buffet, paying at the desk in advance and the drinks being included. Had that been the case, we would have been prepared, still keeping the reservation. 

Apparently, like an all-inclusive resort they were ill-prepared for “outsiders.” Surely, we couldn’t have been the first outsiders ever to arrive for dinner. It wasn’t that they weren’t kind and willing to assist. They just didn’t seem to know what to do with us.

Tom’s feathers were ruffled (although he kept it to himself) especially when we’d arrived early, thanks to Alfred’s substitute driver’s showing up 45 minutes prior to our requested pick-up time. We were told we’d be escorted to the restaurant when it opened in 15 minutes. 

When no one arrived to escort us, we headed to the restaurant on our own finding an excellent table for two by a window in order to take advantage of the ocean breezes. It was still very hot and we were both wearing long sleeves. Bugs? Heat? It’s often a trade-off.

Tom’s ruffled feathers.

From that point on, our evening was pleasant. By far, it was the greatest number of diners we’ve yet to see in any restaurant over these past months, most of which were European, based on the languages we heard spoken. 

At no time during our evening did we hear anyone speaking English, other than the Swahili speaking servers who were able to handle basic requests. We’ve often wondered if tourists from the US and Canada find this location too far to travel. After all, it is almost halfway around the world, further time-wise to travel than most people are willing.

The servers promptly brought our drinks, a beer for Tom, and bottled water for me (no ice tea available) and we headed to the massive buffet. With my smartphone with the still-cracked screen, I displayed the screen below with the Swahili translation for my food restrictions which has been extraordinarily useful. There were no lengthy lines at the buffet, although the area was filled with diners at the numerous food stations.

Basically, this boils down to the fact that I can have fish, chicken, pork, beef and non-starchy vegetables, nuts and mayo (the mayonnaise we’ve found here is made without sugar). No soy, no gluten, no starch, no sugary sauces, no potatoes,  no rice, no beans, and no desserts.   

As is often the case, the main chef is summoned, reads the list, nods in understanding, directing me to the foods that are acceptable. It’s actually easy. Of all the foods offered last night, I was able to have approximately 25% with many variations of grilled, sautéed, and steamed vegetables and a wide array of grilled meats, fish, lamb, and chicken.

My plate of coleslaw without dressing was cold and refreshing.

Much to Tom’s pleasure, he was able to have roast beef and mashed potatoes, although he tried several other offerings. (He eats whatever he wants when we eat out since I do all the cooking my way when we dine in). He feels well and isn’t gaining weight.  Of course, I’d love for him to stick with my way of eating all the time.  

Finally, many months ago I gave up staring at his plate of food, giving him the evil eye, and making less than subtle comments such as, “Are you really going to eat that?”  Now I say nor imply anything derogatory about his food choices when we dine out when he doesn’t complain about my healthful cooking when we dine in.

I was thrilled with this huge plate of food by the time we started eating, close to 8:30 pm.

Will we go back to Baobab?  Yes, we will now that we know “the drill.” The food was very good, the choices many and the ambiance and service were both good.

Tonight and tomorrow nights we’ll dine in. Extremely hot and humid again, a cold dinner is on the menu for both nights, our favorite subway type unwich, sandwich using lettuce leaves instead of bread, a side of fresh green beans, our usual coleslaw, and nuts for dessert. 

Although I couldn’t have this rice salad, I loved the presentation.
Tom visited the dessert bar for a few items, but of course, I just took a photo. It was early in the evening, the buffet not opening until 7:30 pm, and the dessert table was already being restocked.

Bringing up another great episode of The Blacklist on my laptop for a typical Sunday night here in Kenya, we began batting off the creepy crawlies, swatting off the mosquitoes and flying ants and, using our flashlights to check for poisonous crustaceans in every crevice or corner before we go to bed. 

But…dear readers, we’re content. 

The long hallways were lined with these lounging beds.  After dinner, they were filled with overstuffed guests, sipping on after dinner drinks.  Tom insisted on a photo after I’d shot his grumpy pose.  I complied.

Photos from the Panama Canal transit…

Our ship, the Celebrity Century as in went under the Bridge of the Americas, soon to be demolished in 2014 when the new locks open in 2014. A newer bridge, the Centennial Bridge, will be considerably higher to accommodate huge ships.
Here are our a few of our photos of the Panama Canal. What a day we had! We are humbled by the ingenuity to design and build the canal almost 100 years ago and deeply respect the thousands of lives given and lost for this mind-boggling undertaking.
A container freighter ahead of us in line to enter the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks
This morning we docked in the city of Colon, Panama.  Soon, we’ll venture off the ship to walk around the charming little town, reporting back later what we’ve seen.
The opening of one of the double set of gates at the locks.
The past five nights, we’ve been dining at group shared tables, meeting new people each night.  We’ve had a blast. It was such fun to share the transit of the canal with many of them up in the Hemisphere Bar, with front row seats for the ten plus hours we maintained our seats. 
Another freighter ahead of us in line at the locks.
Yesterday, we watched the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean and then set in the Atlantic Ocean.  This experience is only possible in a 12-hour time frame or less, by water, at the Panama Canal. 
Here I am perched atop our viewing area at the bow of the ship, in air-conditioned comfort.  We reserved these excellent seats at 5:15 am!
We were exhausted after an early start on the long day of Panama Canal viewing, but joyful and grateful for the experience.  All we needed was a good night’s sleep.

Jess’s Poppy Seed Strudel Recipe and Tom’s Homemade Irish Cream recipe…

We made 5 giant Poppy Seed Strudels today, rolling the dough with a tall bottle of flavored water.

With guests arriving soon for the holidays, it was time to put aside my culinary restrictions and start baking for those that do enjoy high carb, sugary, mouth-watering pastries and baked goods so appropriate this time of year.

One of our favorites is an eastern European recipe for Poppy Seed Strudel, Tom’s favorite, having missed it over the past year and a half on our restricted way of eating. 

I love this delectable pastry beyond words, a slice warmed in the microwave, covered with unsalted butter.  Unfortunately, I consumed very little in the past knowing it could cause a spike in blood sugar.  Now I will have none of it, not a taste.  My health is more important, especially now that we are only 13 days away from leaving the US.

So here is the recipe reminiscent of Tom’s childhood, found online some years ago (no creation of mine, other than pulling it all together).  It’s really not hard to make.  The prep time to make this entire recipe is less than two hours.

We have no rolling pin here.  Stubborn, I won’t buy one and will use a tall skinny bottle of chilled flavored water to roll the dough. It doesn’t have to be rolled very thin, so this will work. There was no small mixing bowl either here, either so I used a soup bowl to mix the yeast and warmed milk. Oh well.
(We also noted the lack of a potato peeler this morning.  My sister Julie is bringing one from LA!).

Polish
Poppy Seed Bread (Strudel) Recipe – Makowiec

An Eastern European dessert table would invariably include something sweet made with poppy seeds, either ground or whole. This poppy seed strudel is made with a yeast dough and is known as makowiec (mah-KOH-vyets) in Polish. Canned poppy seed paste is available in the ethnic or the baking aisle of most supermarkets. 

Makes 2 Sweet Polish Poppy Seed Breads
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Ingredients:
      1 package active dry yeast
      2 cups warm milk
     8 cups all-purpose flour
     3/4 cup sugar
     1 teaspoon salt
      5 eggs
     4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
     3 (11-ounce) cans poppy seed filling
Frosting
    4 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup 2% milk, starting with 1/4 cup milk until you have an easy to spread frosting
    1 tablespoon real vanilla

Preparation:

1.   In a small heatproof bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm milk.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and eggs. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups warm milk, butter, and yeast mixture. With the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat until smooth. The dough will be sticky at this point.
3.  Scrape dough into a clean, greased bowl. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and cover. Let stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until double in size.
4.  Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle.
5.  Spread 1 can or half of the filling you made on each rectangle of dough and roll up like a jelly roll. Turn the ends under so the filling will not leak out.
6. Place on a parchment-lined or greased pan, cover, and let rise again until double in size.

 7.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush tops with additional melted butter. Bake 45 to 60        minutes or until strudels are golden brown.  Don’t let them get too brown.

8.  Remove from oven and cool. When totally cooled, neatly frost with the above frosting recipe, or use canned white frosting if preferred.

Over the years, Tom made dozens of bottles (over 150 wine sized bottles, one year) of this fabulous holiday treat. We’ve given them as gifts to family, friends, and co-workers nicely bottled, corked, and imprinted with a custom made Christmas labels.

Due to time constraints, we won’t be making it this year and wanted to share the recipe with our readers, many of whom have enjoyed this in the past. Here you go! Enjoy!

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Equivalent to Bailey’s)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1-pint ½ and ½ or real whipping cream

3 pasteurized eggs (important for safety)

1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

1 cup Irish Whiskey or other bourbon or whiskey

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup whiskey, measuring into the empty can of sweetened condensed milk in order to remove every last drop of the creamy sweetened condensed milk.

Blend for another 30 seconds. Pour in a glass bottle with a tight-fitting cork.

Keeps for 30 days in the refrigerator.

Should you decide to try either of these recipes or any other recipes we’ve posted, please don’t hesitate to email me with questions.  I check my inbox frequently and will get back to you quickly.

Ah, the holidays.  We love this time of year.  So much gratitude.  So much love. And of course, so much food!

Goodbye party on the point…Thank you…

Saturday, at 4:45 pm, after a laughter and tear-filled day spent with son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille, and going through a lifetime of photos, handing off precious bits of memorabilia, enjoying a homemade low carb gluten free pizza, we realized it was time to get ready and head down the street to our party.  

Scheduled to begin at 5 PM, it was a short walk of only four doors down the road to attend a going away peninsula party, hosted for us by our friend Sue.

Twenty six years of blissful dinner parties, cocktail parties, cocktail cruises on the lake, lawn parties, neighborhood parties, 4th of July celebrations, graduations, holidays and birthday parties.  Ironically, each of the three husbands in every other of five houses in a row on the point were born on December 23rd, which included my Tom, Doug and Chip. Coincidence?

(And most recently, hundreds of friends and family members came to celebrate his life and to grieve the loss of our dear friend Chip, Sue’s loving husband’s memorial service at the nearby University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. He would have wanted a party, but it was hard to celebrate without him there. Then again, he was there in all of our hearts).

The thoughtfulness, the love and the generosity of a friend, amid the throes of such loss, such grief, so zealously decided to throw a party for us. Mind boggling. Beautifully executed. Gluten-free foods for us. Our neighbors, our friends, in attendance, happy for us, wishing us a great adventure, interminable safety and relentless freedom.

We couldn’t have had more fun. Thank you, dear Sue. Thank you dear friends. How lucky and grateful we are.

Sunday morning, we faced yet another day of seemingly endless list of “to do’s.” Starting our day with a big breakfast of free range organic eggs fried in a dab of coconut oil, topped with guacamole, nitrate free bacon, a thick slab of nitrate free ham and organic chicken sausage with spinach and feta cheese, we were fueled for the day.  

Since we started this way of eating almost 15 months ago, we aren’t hungry all day. Formerly grazers, it’s a pleasant sensation to be comfortably satiated all day, free of the endless search for the next “food fix.”  

Eating low carb, gluten/grain/starch/sugar free diet prevents the addictive centers of the brain from crying for a constant fix of high carb foods. Over the past year I’ve been following the new research that is emerging daily clearly defining that our relentless hunger is a result of blood sugar spikes and brain chemistry.  

By eating a moderate protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet, we have found it easy to stop thinking about eating, simply enjoying two delicious and satisfying meals a day. More on this later.

So, we hauled our six orange Antler suitcases to our friend Karen’s home where we will reside from the night of October 24th until the day we leave Minnesota, October 31st.  

The thought of staying in our house during the estate sale seemed preposterous to us and to our estate sale guy, Jim Anderson.  Most likely, the furniture will sell first. If returning during the sale, we’d witness the vacant spot where our two comfy chairs had been or, see strangers traipsing down the road with their arms loaded with our stuff.  No thank you.

It’s unusual for us to stay in another’s home.  We seldom traveled over these past years together, rarely feeling compelled to leave the lake or our pups (dog lovers understand). When we did, we stayed in hotels, fearful of imposing upon others in varying parts of the country. 

Let’s face it. I am not the easiest house guest.  Tom is.  Not me.  My family and friends accept my cooking and eating habits along with my endless array of eccentricities around the house; nary a dish in the sink or an item of clothing left in the laundry basket.  

Of course, my ultimate desire is to avoid making others uncomfortable with my peculiarities. Thus, I am somewhat of a “closet” perfectionist. 

It is only this confession that so clearly reveals why all the details of the planning of this year’s long adventure is not laborious to me.  It fuels my passion for the infinitesimal, researched and documented until there is no more. Then, the finale, let it go and enjoy it.    

Thank you, dear husband Tom for accepting my eccentricities with your usual aplomb and great sense of humor, for teaching me to laugh at myself and not taking it all so seriously.

So, house guests, we will be.  I will temper my ways, saving room for the relentless teasing I have so welcomed over the years while trying to simply enjoy the process.  

In 9 days, we move out for good.  In 16 days, we leave.  Thank you, family. Thank you, friends. Thank you, husband. Thank you, God, for them, for the joy they’ve given us and for that which the world has yet to offer.