Projecting into the future…Not a worthwhile undertaking…A year ago, my first jittery video…

This is the second odd sparse tree that we’ve seen around the island. 
The fact that we’re leaving here in a month has been running through my head since I wrote it in yesterday’s post, over and over again.
When we see these blue bags on the banana trees we know this is a banana farm. They don’t use pesticides instead using these blue bags to keep the insects off the bananas.  The first time we saw the blue bags was the day we arrived in Belize, many moons ago.
The preparations for leaving, the packing, dropping off the rental car, the possible overweight luggage and the other annoyances of departure keep flooding my brain. 
The steep stairways with railings are placed throughout the island to allow pedestrians to get “up” to the next street.
I tell myself to stop thinking about this. Let me revel in our remaining time in Madeira with the same peace and ease we’ve both enjoyed during the past month and a half since we arrived.
It’s interesting to see plants and trees we’ve never seen in other countries.
As hard as I try, the thoughts continue to waft around my head. Projecting into the future is not always a good thing. Planning for the future is. That, we have covered.
The low lying clouds always create an attractive scene.

Whenever I feel a bit of angst, I immediately start thinking of what I can do to relieve the uncomfortable sensation. Today, I keep asking myself, “What is this really about?” As I write this now (“they” say writing is therapeutic) I realize it has something to do with the packing, more than anything else. My overweight luggage.  That’s it.

Lately, it’s been cloudy several days a week which we don’t mind when the scenery remains beautiful in any weather.

The solution is clear. This week, in an effort to avoid procrastinating, I hereby promise myself to go upstairs and start making a new pile to be donated to a charity in Madeira. I still have items that remain, unused, unnecessary. Why do I hesitate to let them go? 

Lovely.
When we picked up our box of “stuff” at customs in Funchal weeks ago, it contained replacement clothing items for me; two pairs of jeans (one to be cut into capri length, another to be cut into shorts), three long skirts (can be worn to dinner in the somewhat dressy dining rooms on the two upcoming cruises), three plain tee shirts and one pair of comfy white leather Keds to replace the worn-out pair I now wear every day.
The decorations in the streets were in preparation for an upcoming annual “beach party.”

Not only do I have to cut off the extra material on the jeans to lighten the load but, I also have to dispose of items to compensate for the added weight of the new items. Also, I must rid myself of the items that are responsible for the fact that my luggage was still overweight.

When we saw these decorations we thought it was for an upcoming wedding. With the language barrier, it wasn’t as simple as asking.

This morning, while dressing I looked in the closet of my “dressing room” (an extra bedroom in the house) seeing many items that need to go. The sooner I do this, the more chance I’ll have of ridding myself of these annoying thoughts.

Only one neighborhood was decorated.  We assumed it was a private celebration.
Generally, I’m not a procrastinator. If there’s a task to be done, I do it. I rationalize that these past weeks have been very busy booking vacation homes into the future which has basically taken most of the day when we aren’t writing here or out exploring. 
Brilliant color as still some flowers continue to bloom.

We’ve yet to find a vacation home in New Zealand and must continue the search. We’ll be there in a mere 18 months. The problem appears as a result of high prices and to our surprise, the number of property managers that don’t reply to inquiries, something we’ve never experienced in the past.

These two tasks on hand, both of which are daunting to me, must be accomplished soon to free my thoughts which will ultimately add to my ability to enjoy our remaining time on this lovely island.

An appealing entrance to a house in our neighborhood.

OK.  The world has seen my commitment, in writing, of the intent to accomplish these two tasks within a week.  With a plan in mind, I find myself on the road to “mental freedom” looking forward to reporting back that these tasks are accomplished, the sooner the better.

Now I have to hang today’s load of laundry outdoors, do some chopping and dicing for dinner, and hopefully, run upstairs and make the first pile of items for which I’m willing to say “goodbye.”After that, both of us will be back online searching for a home in New Zealand. 
Stay tuned…
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Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2013:
This video was from the church bells ringing from the church bell tower across the way from us while we lived in Boveglio, Italy. (Having no video taking experience to speak of, it was jittery). It rang the longest on Saturday evenings at 6:00 pm in preparation for Saturday mass. For details from that day, please click here.

 

“Down Under,” here we come!…New booking photos!…Keeping records of our travels…Quite the task…

The living room is always a crucial area for us for relaxing and enjoying the view. There’s no shortage of either in this wonderful location.

This week, we’ve managed to book two properties for well into the future:

  • June 11, 2015 – September 8, 2015 – Trinity Beach, Australia – which we’ll share here today with photos
  • September 8, 2015 – December 6, 2015 – Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji- which we shared yesterday with photos
Another angle of the main living area.

We’re excited as we enter these two firmed up locations to our ever-growing itinerary which, by the way, we’ll be posting in its entirety once we firm up a place in New Zealand.

Once we settle the details of a new booking there are many steps to enter it into our Excel spreadsheet with many tabs. One worksheet in our spreadsheet is the “Itinerary and Costs” tab whereby we enter information into columns; the dates, location, rental amount, car rental, transportation, entertainment, dining out, groceries, tips, and fees. and miscellaneous.

Although the ocean views are at a distance, we’re looking forward to amazing sunsets. With a pool on the 3-acre property, we’ll be content this far from the ocean. Rental cars are affordable in this area and we can easily drive to a nearby beach to walk along the shore.

Another worksheet in the spreadsheet is “Deposits and Balances” which include: dates, location, total rent, hotel or cruise rate, the deposit paid, date paid, balance due, date(s) balance due (at times, payable in one or more installments).

For cruises, there is an additional worksheet with details of the cruise including dates, name of the ship, total cost including tips and taxes (usually paid at the time of booking the cruise), cabin number and class, balance due, date due, credits, and extras.

We can hardly wait to lounge by this pool in the backyard.

Once these numbers are entered, we make a folder with all documents relative to a particular property, hotel, or cruise and save it on our cloud and external hard drive. Without a doubt, there are numerous steps to logging future travels but we’ve found that this works well.

Of course, I do all of this data entry and oddly, enjoy doing it. Each time I make changes to the workbook, I send a copy to Tom to “save over” his last copy for easy reference for him.  This prevents me from having to look up info anytime he has questions. Each of us references this form frequently, especially these past few weeks as we figure out new dates and locations

Well equipped kitchen with all we’ll need.

When a new reader pops into our site, their immediate perception maybe, “Cool. These old-timers are having an easy life.” Little do they realize until reading further that the planning, recording, and preparation for our travels is a complex undertaking requiring painstaking effort and diligence. 

For us, it’s simply a part of the experience and we make every effort to enjoy it along with everything else

The bedroom with queen bed and doors to patio.

Now, let’s get into Trinity Beach, Australia new booking. I must admit, this was one of the most difficult countries/continents in which we’ve searched thus far.  Prices were high, especially with ocean views. It was impossible to find something affordable located directly on the beach that was nice enough for our liking.

We aren’t willing to live in a dumpy little house, even for a view. In the end, we compromised in a few ways; one, the ocean view is at a distance but a beach is nearby; two, we’re renting a full windowed/glass door home with private access on the ground level “situated on 3-acres of a tropical rain forest with 180˚ views of the Coral Sea and Cairns beautiful northern beaches.”

This hot tub will be used frequently.

How could we resist?  Certainly, it’s more private than a condo or apartment and with full access to the grounds and pool, we’ll be totally at ease. The owners although younger than us, live in a separate property on the grounds and are still working and gone most of the day. They are well-traveled, outgoing, warm, and friendly.  Most likely, we’ll all become friends! 

Roomy shower compared to many smaller showers we’d had in the past.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have this wrapped up. Now, between this property and Fiji following, we are currently booked out until December 6, 2015. Over the next few months, we’ll continue booking out another six months in order to have bookings through June 2016, almost two years.  Then, we can relax (so to speak) for a year, living in the moment.

The rain forest setting should bring us some visitors!

I must admit, it’s hard to believe that we’ll be in Paris in 32 days. How did this come up so quickly? For now, we continue to stay in tune with our remaining time and surroundings here on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Have a warm and sunny weekend!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2013:

This was the veranda where we hung laundry in Boveglo, Italy. This was the second country in which there was no clothes dryer available to us, the first being the United Arab Emirates where we stayed in Dubai for 13 nights the prior month. Now here in Madeira, we use such a drying rack which frequently tips over in the strong winds. For details from that date, please click here.

 

New 89 day booking in Fiji with photos!…Who knew it was do-able?…More bookings and itinerary updates coming…

View overlooking the resort to the sea. Due to the necessity of resizing the photos on the resort’s site, these photos are a bit blurry. To see details, please click here for the Homeaway listing.

With strict 90-day visa requirements in Australia, we had to make a plan to spend more time outside o Australia. Rather than fly in and out of the continent to have a chance to start another 90 day period, we decided that living in another country in South Pacific for yet another 89 days makes the most sense. This way we can return to Australia to begin another 90-day visa. 

The veranda at our private villa, an actual separate house.

We’ll be able to purchase a one year visa online, still requiring us to stay only 90 days at a time, that will allow us to go in and out of Australia with greater ease over a period of one year. 

Another veranda view.

Long ago, we both expressed an interest in Fiji as we considered living in Australia for varying periods of time. We love island living which in most cases, provides us with close proximity to the sea and of course, the kind of views we can’t seem to resist.

When we originally looked for vacation rentals in Fiji awhile back, we were quickly frustrated by the rates and gave up. With the new booking in Australia, we had a new determination to find something wonderful at an affordable price. Once again “safari luck” kicked in and just like that, we found a fabulous resort that worked out an excellent price for us for half as much as we’d expected to pay.

The beach at the resort.

The information we’re sharing today isn’t sequential for our booking dates. Prior to living in Fiji, we’ll be living in Australia for 89 days which information we’ve yet to share here. This weekend, the owners of the Australian rental will send us their photos of their lovely property in Trinity Beach, Australia, which we’ll post the next day.

While in Belize, our first vacation rental outside of the US, we lived at the gorgeous Laru Beya resort in Placencia, loving every moment with our condo unit directly on the ocean on ground level. From the attentive staff, included cleaning and laundry twice weekly, to the infinity pool, restaurant, and bar, it was ideal. Most of all, we made wonderful friends with whom we’ve stayed in touch.

We’ll be living on the island of Vanua Levu in the village of Savusavu which is situated above the main island of Fiji, away from the bulk of the tourist hubbub on the main island of Fiji.

Beginning on September 8, 2015 (day of daughter Tammy’s birthday, day after son Greg’s) until December 6, 2015, we’ll live on an island paradise for a full 89 days, another resort on the remote island of Vanua Levu in the town of Savusavu as shown in this above map. 

Prior to booking this property, we researched transportation to the somewhat remote island.  We’ll fly from Cairns, Australia, (the closest airport to the rental in Trinity Beach, Australia) for a total of 10 hours to arrive in Vanua Levu. It’s a long flight with multiple layovers but considerably less time than many of our previous flights.

A portion of the living area.
We won’t need a car while on the island with a reliable driver (raved about in the reviews) that can easily take us anywhere we’d like to go at a reasonable rate. With the high cost for rental cars on the remote island for such an extended period, we’ll be content to request the driver for dining out, shopping, and exploring the island. 

This is an excellent scenario for us, a quiet location directly on the ocean away from the tourist hubbub and yet relatively accessible to fulfill our needs for shopping, dining out, and entertainment. This island appears to be comparable to one’s vision of “hiding away on a deserted island.”  

View from the living room.

We anticipate that staying at this resort will be comparable to those vacations in our old lives, those that we never wanted to end. With 89 days on this island, we’ll satisfy that longing, ready to head back to Australia for a short stint and then on to New Zealand. Although we haven’t pinned down the locations yet, we’re working on New Zealand now, hoping to wrap it up in the next several days.

As with any new booking, there’s a bit of trepidation as to whether the property will prove to be as it’s described on the website. Our first booking outside of the US in Belize resulted in our staying only a week when there was seldom running water and there were holes in the window screens. 

Master bedroom.

Within days of arrival, I had no less than 100 inflamed bites from the no-see-ums (sandflies), getting more and more bites each day. The lack of running water, more than the bites, motivated us to get out of there as quickly as possible. We anticipated that I’d be bitten wherever we went. 

Although, we lost the money we’d paid when the owner refused to give us a refund, once we moved to Laru Beya Resort we were in heaven. The sandflies were easily manageable by using repellent when outside at night. Luckily, we’ve been pleased with the diligent and thoughtful representation by all of the subsequent managers/landlords for the properties we rented from that point on. We didn’t necessarily love every country in which we lived but the properties were as stated in each location.
Another bedroom.
Without the necessity of making budgetary adjustments for this reasonably priced property, we’re both pleased and relieved to have this portion of our travels settled and awaiting our arrival in only one year, two months, and twelve days. When we think of it this way, it’s really not that far away. (We use an online app to calculate “dates between dates” which we need to calculate. Click here to see the free app.
Undoubtedly, there’s a risk in renting properties we’ve never seen in person. But, we’ve found that if the property is clean with a great view, with working WiFi and utilities, a comfortable bed, sofa, and dining space, and has a reasonably functional kitchen, we can get through it, bugs and all.

Steps from the lobby of the resort down to the pool.

Goodness, in South Africa, we had insects the size of one’s hand, a spitting cobra on the veranda, and scary-looking creatures flying and crawling into the house. Somehow, we managed rather well.

In many ways, adapting to a new environment every few months has made us more tolerant than either of us had ever expected.  We’ve adopted an attitude that if we can’t readily change a difficult situation, that no whining is allowed. Taking whining and complaining out of the equation greatly adds to one’s ability to adapt and to ultimately have a good experience.
                                                               ______________________Photo from one year ago, June 28, 2013:

 Many homes in the small villages in Tuscany are share a common wall (s) as was the case
in the 300 year old vacation home we rented in Boveglio, Italy for 75 days.  It was part of the grouping as shown above in this photo. For details from that day, please click here.

 

 

Further exploration on the island of Madeira!…Photos!…

It was surprising how much cactus there is on Miradouro referred to as a promontory.

Yesterday, while Judite was cleaning the house, we decided to get out of her way. We’ve never liked hanging around when the cleaning person is there when it feels that we’re in the way. Needing to purchase more meat from the little market with the expert butcher, we decided to tour the more remote areas of the island we’d yet to see, finishing up our day at the market.

When we first saw this jutting promontory, we knew we had to make our way to the top.

We left cash for Judite’s services, US $27.23, EU $20 for four hours of housecleaning, explaining with hand signals that she locks the door when she was done. Off we went on our way, not to return until she’d be long gone.

When we saw this sign, we knew we for in for a treat.

As time marches on, Tom’s become a less jerky stick shift driver on these steep hills and I’ve acclimated to the remaining jerkiness, no longer feeling queasy. As a result, driving on these steep, winding roads with frequent hairpin turns and cliffs with no guardrail has become easy, rarely feeling fearful or anxious.

Unfortunately, it was cloudy and rainy.  We hope to return on a clear day.

It’s funny how it was only a year ago in Italy when I cringed every time we drove anywhere. I think back to my pointless angst over the four hour road in Belize, flying in the little plane to and from the Maasai Mara while going on safari and the steep roads in Italy. I chuckle to myself over how much I’ve changed!

Miradouro is a promontory, a piece of high elevation land that juts out into the sea.

Finding one’s way around the island, as I’ve mentioned is challenging when  searching for a specific address.  Driving for pleasure with no destination in mind is easy. If we can see the ocean, we’re never too far from the main motorway that surrounds the island.

We walked out to the end of the promontory.

Each time we take such a drive, we choose a new road to follow. Tom’s great sense of direction and our combined good sense of remembering where we’ve already traveled, enables us to make new discoveries each time we’re exploring.

This is the end of the point of Miradouro. There was no guard rail and the terrain was uneven and rocky. We stayed as far away as we could from the edges but did move in closer a few times for photos.

Whether it’s scenery, goats, chickens, birds or dogs, our eyes are always peeled for the next photo worthy scene. It’s ironic how our desire to post interesting (we hope) and appealing photos here each day, has made both of us more in tune with checking out our surroundings with an intense eagle eye.

This was the view from the right side of Miradouro. We laughed when we realized after all the time we’d been driving, that below us was the village in Riberira Brava where we go to dinner and  shop at the supermarket. 

With both of us constantly on the visual prowl for fodder, we revel in each other’s discoveries, stopping when possible to take photos. At times, stopping is impossible, although Tom always offers to either back up or return on the same road. Often, I’ve taken advantage of his offers, never wanting to miss what we perceive as interesting and noteworthy.

The view from the left side of Miradouro.

Of course, each person’s perspective of what is interesting is different. As we walked a popular tourist spot we stumbled upon yesterday, I mentioned to Tom how ironic it is that he expresses considerable interest in vegetation, which he ignored in our old lives. 

I didn’t intend to include this cactus paddle in this photo.

Over these past 20 months since leaving Minnesota, the acuity with which we observe our surroundings has changed dramatically. In a large part, we credit writing here each day. Its a huge motivator. If we were traveling with the same intent as most tourists, we’d take our zillions of photos and leave it at that, hoping one day to bore our family and friends with our thousands of photos.

The above flowers were growing on this tree.

Instead, we can bore our family, friends, and readers from all over the world, one day at a time, or for some, we can brighten their day in a small way as we share the treasures of this magical world in which all of us live, in photos and stories.

These unusual flowers hung from the above short tree.

Once again, dear readers, we say thank you for sharing this journey with us, for your willingness in reading our frequent mindless drivel of the mundane aspects of daily life and for making us feel that you are always at our side.

At the moment, the excitement escalates for as we continue with bookings in the South Pacific, aka Oceania, all the way to May 16, 2016. Photos coming out this weekend.

Be well. Be happy. 
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Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2013:

This was the road that we walked in our neighborhood in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy in order to go to the popular local bar, Bar Ferrari. Not quite as steep as the hills in Madeira but it certainly was good exercise as our the streets in Madeira, steep, steep, steep. For details of that day, please click here.

 

In the process of wrapping up rentals in Australia and the South Pacific…Photos coming soon…

 

The blooming season for flowers is fading at this time of the season.

Although, it may seem as if we’ve been searching for a home in Australia for only a short period, over the past month we actually spent many days wrapped up in intense research. There are literally tens of thousands of listings throughout Australia on numerous vacation rental websites.

The owners are sending us their photos this weekend when they are off work and we’ll post them as soon as they arrive.

A hibiscus.

With the poor real estate market worldwide, many frustrated homeowners have turned their homes that didn’t sell into vacation homes listing them with one or more of the many vacation rental sites.  

With our cruise ship at sea for 18 days sailing from Oahu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia in less than a year, arriving on June 11, 2015, we’ve been determined to find an affordable home with an ocean view on what appears to be a very expensive Australia.

Most homes on the island have a view or a partial view of the ocean.

Not having a home booked a year out can be cause for concern when one has no home at all. By no means, do we panic. Knowing that we have a place to live in a year definitely provides a degree of peace of mind.

I realized I’ve mentioned this in the past, but some of our readers have inquired as to why we book properties so far in advance. Why not “wing it?” For us, the answer is clear: Would you wait to book a long term holiday/vacation at the last minute expecting to get what you want, where you want, during the season you want, and for a price you want? Probably not. That’s our reason. Plain and simple. 

Is this a papaya tree?

As we peruse properties booked on owner’s calendars, often kept up to date on the various websites, it’s easy to see how quickly the properties are snapped up. Waiting until a few months prior to the time we’d need it, results in slim pickings and overpriced “leftovers.” Even in this poor economy, people are still traveling.

Over the past few days, we’ve begun the process of firming up rental agreements, paying deposits, and logging all the information on our spreadsheets, backing everything up on the cloud, the hard drive, and both computers, one means of backing up after another.

A scene from our veranda at sunset.

By the end of this week, we’ll be booked out all the way to March 4, 2016, which sounds like a long way out but it’s in only 21 months, about the same amount of time since we left Minnesota. 

Some vacation rentals require payment in for the entire rental period, others require half and a few are content with a small token amount deposit. Since at this time, we’re booking for almost a year beginning in June 2015, the outlay is more than we would have liked at this time. 

Another view from the cliffs.

Of course, once we arrive at each location, it’s satisfying to be paid up but then, we begin paying deposits on future homes so it’s all a wash. The odd part is paying one’s rent a year in advance is required as we travel.

After these past several days, we have two definite rentals, one of which we’ll share over the weekend with photos and the other which we’ll share in a few days, once the deposit has been received. We’re awaiting the app the manager uses in which we can pay the deposit using a credit card

It’s not easy to identify some of the unfamiliar vegetation when we can’t ask to find anyone to ask that speaks English.

It is imperative to pay deposits and balances using a credit card.  If one of the rentals proves to be a scam, at least with a credit card, there are some means of recourse. Some property manager/owners require wire transfers of which we’d done a few at the beginning of booking our travels but no longer do under any circumstances.  

We were lucky not to experience any issues as a result of doing this but, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. If a property owner has no means of by which we can use a credit card, we’ll pay using PayPal. 

PayPal is simple. With one’s own account linked to credit cards, PayPal’s secure site, we simply send the payment to the manager’s email address. Once they receive it they open their own PayPal account (easy), entering their bank account number and the routing number of their bank. 

Surely, these must be grapes. 

Once completed, the funds go directly into their bank account, available to them in approximately three to four days. Once we send the payment through PayPal, the funds are immediately charged to our credit card on file with PayPal.

There are fees associated with PayPal. If the manager/owner has discounted the rent for us due to our long term rentals, we pay the fees. The house we booked in Trinity Beach, Australia is signed, sealed, and delivered and had PayPal fees of US $98 which we gladly paid.

A garden flourishing in the temperate weather and occasional rain.

Although we’d ideally like to share our negotiated rental amount on each property, we only do this if we paid “full price” which is listed anyway, online at the link we post for the rental. 

More times than not, we receive a good discount due to two factors: one, the length of our stay; two, the fact that we’ll be promoting their property over and over again through our posts. With our readership fast approaching 200,000 worldwide, this can provide them with future rentals.

A tiny house tucked away in the vegetation.

If we were to post our discounted price, this may have bearing on the manager/owner future, shorter-term rentals. If a prospective renter chooses to book it the property they may be expecting to pay the same amount that we negotiated based on these two unique factors.

In any case, once we leave a property, we always post our total costs for our entire period while living in the rental including; rent, the rental car or taxi fares, groceries, dining out, entertainment, tips, fees, and taxes. If you’re curious about any specific costs, please email me directly.

I was so excited to see this cute kitten on our stone wall that I failed to hold the camera steady when taking what could have been adorable.  Shucks!

Please check back for photos and details of our future rentals over the next week or so, as we continue to wrap up details. We’re very excited about finding these wonderful properties and equally excited to share them here with all of our readers!

Last night when Tom came to bed his head hit the pillow and he said, “Safari luck!”  I agreed, falling to sleep with a smile on my face.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2013:

We took a road trip from our home in Boveglio to the village of Bagni de Lucca driving across this narrow bridge to the town’s center. For details of the story with more photos, please click here.

 

 

Opining today…Agree or disagree…Ugly characters in photos…A year ago, a moonlit night in Tuscany…

This worm was several inches long. It’s a larger version of those we’ve found in our produce when washing it. We found this worm on the bottom of the outdoor garbage bin after trash pickup on Tuesday.  Most likely it was a result of the lettuce and cabbage we dispose of daily, when we make a salad. Most likely, it lingered there on the bottom of the bin thriving on our scraps growing to this size. We didn’t kill it, instead, letting it loose in the tall grass, far from the garden.  Look closely for its antennae. 

Yesterday, while washing lettuce using bottled water poured into a glass pie plate, one leaf at a time, I chuckled when I encountered one bug or worm after another, a few of which were relatively gross-looking as shown in these photos.
Why did I laugh?  It was done so tongue in cheek. We all want bug-free produce without pesticides and yet we cringe over the bugs in our lettuce. 

While in the US, I purchased mostly organic produce. But, I rarely, if ever ran across a bug. Why is that? Simply put, organic farmers use pesticides. If you’ll read this article from the reputable, Scientific American, you’ll see what I mean.

This is a smaller version of the above worm we found at the bottom of the trash bin.  It is exactly as I found it yesterday after removing some of the exterior leaves of the head of lettuce. Notice its antennae also, which is the same or similar worm at a younger stage than as in the above photo. This is “real” organic. 

The number of times I’d purchased organic lettuce from Lakewinds, a Minnesota chain, or Whole Foods, makes me realize how I, like so many was deluding myself in believing we weren’t consuming pesticides of some sort in our nightly salads and plates of vegetables. (80% of the world’s pesticides are used in the US).

Now, as we travel the world wherein many locals no pesticides of any kind are used, bugs galore! They’re everywhere. Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to be?

Are we eating some of these bugs? Most likely the tiny ones that I may miss when cleaning the lettuce or cabbage. I never miss a big worm as shown here. 

This is the glass plate I used yesterday, filled with bottled water to rinse the lettuce leaves as I frequently changed the water.  This worm, another variety, was also on an inside leaf of the lettuce as were many of the smaller, less visible insects in this photo.  It certainly makes sense to carefully wash the produce, unless one likes to eat insects and dirt. 

Then again, there is lots of talk (yikes, in the unreliable media) about our future diet consisting in part of consuming insects as a source of protein. Here is an article from National Geographic on this topic.

So, the question I ask of all of us, vehemently against pesticides of any kind…are we willing to handle the insects that come with “real” organic produce as we’ve experienced as we’ve traveled the world? For us, the answer is yes.

Although I make a disgusted look on my face when I rinse away the grosser looking worms and such, a look I can hardly displace with a smile, I know that eating this way is best for us when all is said and done.

Should we ever live back in the US, we’ll have no option to consume some form of pesticides when even the local farmers are using certain products to some degree. 

For several years, in our old lives, we purchased a weekly vegetable box of “organic” vegetables called a CSA (community supported agriculture) from local farmers, oddly cousins of Tom, neatly placed in a reusable cardboard box to be returned each week to be refilled. 

At the time, I felt warm and fuzzy buying our produce this way, tenderly handling each item with love and care.  Now as I look back, I rarely found a bug and if so, it just flew into the box as I transported it home. 

Since we left the US, we’ve found tons of bugs in our produce in every country in which we purchased from local farms. Although, in some countries, few insects were found in the mass-produced bagged or loose veggies from the grocery stores. 

But, here in Madeira, whether from the grocery store or the produce truck guy, there are tons of bugs. This makes me smile, not while I’m cleaning it of course, but while we’re eating it.

I don’t mean to burst the bubble of those of you in the US and other countries where organic isn’t truly pesticide-free, trying to do your best to buy organic. Doing so, your still way ahead of the game as stated in the above article. 

Our lettuce, ready to break up into bite-sized pieces, after it’s been carefully cleaned. 

How does one, up the ante and get the “real deal”?  Search for local farmers, asking what they use for pesticides, researching the products they use to ensure it is acceptable to you. Purchase their produce and see for yourself. Bugs or no bugs? No bugs? Pesticides are used. 

I’ve yet to find one head of lettuce or cabbage without a definitive sign of insects; holes from their eating the produce or, the insects themselves, small or large. It’s clearly evident.

Forty percent of the US population cares about buying some, if not all, of their produce from organic farms. This matters a lot of us. 

Sure, at the grocery store, here in Madeira we can buy imported bagged lettuce and cabbage. No bugs in those bags, I assure you. We don’t buy those bags or any bagged vegetables for that matter. But, at our local supermarket, Continente, a Portuguese chain, the loose produce has zillions of bugs.

As I shop, I search for tomatoes without holes which is no guarantee that there won’t be a worm hiding inside chomping away at my pre-guacamole. Speaking of which, I haven’t found insects in avocados, due to their tough skin. The little buggers don’t want to work that hard when just a garden row away, lettuce, cabbage, and other loose-leaf and penetrable produce await their invasion.

Cabbage we’ll be using today. The huge outside leaves have been removed and yet insects remain at the easier to reach the stem. Seldom, do we find insects deep into the leaves, due to the density of a head of cabbage.  In any case, a good washing is necessary before we slice the leaves into coleslaw sized bits. Lately, for variety, we’ve been making salads with half cabbage and lettuce, adding diced carrots, making our own dressing. 

So there it is, my disappointment, hopefully not too negative, opining on the reality of true organic produce.  Sadly, the food industry and the media have been deluding us for way too long for the safety of our food. The responsibility lies within each of us to research to discover our own stance and stick with it to the best of our ability. 

When I see my dear Facebook friends sharing articles about GMO (that’s for another day) and pesticide-free farming, I simply ask this question: Look at today’s photos of insects on our lettuce and ask yourself if you’d be willing to deal with these types of insects every day. If you are, you can take your stance, grow your own produce, or find a local farmer who won’t use any pesticides. 

Otherwise, I choose not to complain and love those bugs even those as shown above with those ugly antennae.

Note: Exciting news tomorrow. Stay tuned!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2013:

Moon over the hills of Tuscany a year ago today. For details from that date including a great photo of Tom, please click here.

 

 

A special photo…A memorable couple long ago…An inspiration to continue on…A year ago, a little village in Toscana…

 

Need I say, I went nuts when we saw these huge hanging Angel’s Trumpets, while on a drive a few days ago? As Tom maneuvered through a narrow winding road, I squealed when I saw these, hollering, “Stop!  Back up!” The road was too narrow for me to get out of the car so I took this photo with the window down. Wow!

It was the halfway mark of our time in Madeira as we mentioned in our yesterday’s heading. It’s hard for us to believe that we’re on the downhill now of living in this wonderful home in Campanario on this exquisite island.

At a distance, we saw a boat. Could it be a local fisherman?

We’ve determined that it usually takes about a month for us to decide if we’d ever considered returning to a location. As for having the time to return to a location, that in itself is a question for us to consider. There’s so much world left to see.

The shoreline is exquisite around the island. We wondered how the residents of the homes on this cliff could possibly get to their houses. That would be a fun outing to tackle.

We’ve contemplated that, down the road, perhaps we’ll choose four favorite locations and revisit them throughout the year at the same “perfect weather” times of the year, for example; South Africa during their winter months of June, July, and August. We were there during December, January, and February when it was a scorcher. 

Another creek under a bridge.

In years to come, in a perfect world, I could easily spend half of the year in Marloth Park, South Africa, and the other half here in Madeira. But, speaking of “half’s,” my “other half” would have to be on board. At this point, he can’t contemplate such a plan and I totally agree with him when so much excitement awaits us.

Yesterday, on our way to the supermarket, a cloud cover created this amazing view.

It’s not that I’m thinking of slowing down. By no means! As the perpetual dreamer and romantic, my mind tends to get ahead of me and I love to plan “way ahead.” Let’s face it, I’m 66 years old. Tom is 61. At some point, we’ll run out of steam.

However, when we were on our first and favorite cruise on the Celebrity Century on our way through the Panama Canal, one night an older couple sitting next to us, joyfully told us their stories of traveling the world, living in Africa, going on safari, and seeing much of the world.

As it began to rain, little puffs of clouds dotted the hills. 

We were both in awe as they excitedly told one exciting story after another. They were in their 90’s and still traveling! At this point, we were on our first foray outside the US at the beginning of our journey together, although both of us had traveled internationally before we met.

We had only a few stories to share with the delightful elderly couple and we encouraged them to go on and on.  With a captive audience, they enjoyed retelling their tales easily recalling details with each of them with a sharp memory, still intact after all their years.

It’s always interesting to see the homes nestled in the hills as shown here.

They inspired us and continue to do so as our journey continues. It’s hard to believe that we spoke to that couple in January 2013, a mere 18 months ago. How we’ve changed! We’ve learned so much. 

Another view of the valley on our way to the supermarket.

Our learning curve is literally at the “tip of the iceberg” based on the parts of the world we’ve already visited.  There’s so much more to learn. However, as experienced as we think we are now, it’s nothing compared to where we’ll be in a few years.

Mud running in a creek in Ribeira Brava.

I must admit that this traveling business has been a huge boon for our memory as has a strict diet which, BTW, Tom is finally following with me. He gave up the sweets, gluten, and starch a few days ago on his own, without prodding from me. 

His motivation is more inclined toward his frugal nature. He wants to fit into the clothes he already has and not have to replace everything in larger sizes.

It was cloudy yesterday, but a ray of sunlight reflected in the area to the left-center of this photo creating a pretty scene. Utility lines often obstruct our photos. With modern conveniences in Madeira, they are impossible to avoid.

Whatever his motivation, I’m happy. It means we’ll have more time together, he won’t have trouble hauling our bags and the quality of his life will be greatly improved. I can’t guarantee he’ll do this forever but for now, I’m thrilled. All I want is for him to be healthy so we can continue this life together for as long as possible.

Maybe we’ll be fortunate with good health to be able to continue our journey well into our 90’s like the couple on the Celebrity Century.  In any case, if we cannot, we’ll strive to find a joyful alternative of staying in one place for longer periods, like six months in Marloth Park???  With Ms. Warthog at our door each morning or Mr. Kudu stopping by the veranda for some pellets?  Heaven on earth.
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Photo from one year ago, June 24, 2013:

This restaurant was located in the town of Benabbio, Tuscany, Italy, and was the closest to us, a 30-minute drive on the treacherous roads from our home in Boveglio. Although the food was wonderful and the prices fair, neither of us felt safe driving back at night in the dark, especially if Tom had a beer or two with the crazy drivers whipping around the road. As a result, we seldom dined out while living in the remote mountain village of Boveglio. We learned a valuable lesson after we left Boveglio…that we shouldn’t live in such remote locations, especially where no spoke English was spoken, adding to our sense of isolation. Although, once we got into a routine, we ended up enjoying the 75-day stay. For details of that date, please click here.

 

The US vs Portugal, Soccer World Cup…The town was hopping..Today’s our Madeira halfway point….A year ago…history of a village…

Shortly after 11:00 pm, I took this photo of the TV during the World Cup game between Portugal and the US.

Yesterday, while on my walk up the torturous steep hill I could sense the enthusiasm over the upcoming night’s soccer/football game, Portugal verses the US.

One of many flags of Portugal on display in our neighborhood.

With the Portugal flags displayed and waving from homes in the area, the excitement was palpable. From time to time, cars zoomed along the steep road, honking their horns.

The strong winds over the weekend made it hard to see some of the flags.

It was ironic that we are in Portugal when this World Cup game was being played against the US. Tom stayed up to watch the game on TV, broadcast in Portuguese from Brazil, which didn’t start until 11:00 pm. 

While on my walk I was close enough to see this flag hanging out the window of this house in Campanario.

Shortly after 1:00 am, he came to bed explaining to me in my somewhat of a sleepy stupor that the two teams tied at the end.  In a way I was glad.  At least with a tie as opposed to a loss for Portugal, as US citizens, we won’t be fodder for ridicule when the locals detect our clearly American accents, at times oddly mistaken for British.  (I guess it’s the “English” we speak).

As we stood on the veranda, we spotted this flag at quite a distance. It was so windy I had a difficult time holding the camera steady for the shot.  Thus, the blurry image.

The day was spent in a determined effort to find a place to live in the northern part of Australia a year from now with little luck.  Prices are twice as high as we’ve seen in other countries/continents, getting so little for the money.

We’ve seldom seen children in the neighborhood until yesterday during a birthday party a few doors down. There were several children playing in this blow-up structure but I made an effort to keep them out of the photo.

It’s been the toughest search we’ve experienced in all of our travels. We inquired to no less than a dozen properties to no avail. The prime cooler season of June through September provides little, if any, room for negotiation. 

More Christmas holly growing in the neighborhood.

In the next few weeks, we’ll either decide to bite the bullet and pay more than we’ve budgeted or, go to a different less popular location than that of Cairns, Darwin, and all the surrounding beach towns.

At this point, we’re trying for ocean views. That may be the next criteria we are forced to forgo. Perhaps, “walking distance to the beach” will be an alternative. Neither of us can see the charm of living on the interior of Australia in a condo overlooking nothing of particular interest.  

The season for roses is rapidly fading away.  Only a few remain much to my disappointment.

We’re not looking for a “place to crash.” We need a view, something to watch nature surrounding us. 

Later today, after a much-needed trip to the supermarket in Ribeira Brava, a few household and financial tasks, we’ll be back at it…on the search once again.  Sure, if we lightened our requirements, settled for less, accepted a less appealing property, this wouldn’t be such a daunting task. 

I posted this solitary photo on my Facebook page a few days ago receiving a number of “likes.”  So perfect and beautiful.

We never fail to remember why we’re doing this. It’s not for a “place to live.” It’s for a “place to love.” We’re especially reminded of that particular “feeling” as we spend this special time overlooking the sea in Madeira.

The view, the persona of this enchanting village, the bells ringing, the goats baaing, the rooster crowing, the flowers and greenery, the farms, the musical food trucks, the complexity of the terrain and of course, the people…we love it all. We need this sense of wonder and awe in order to fulfill our dreams of traveling the world. 

Another rose, whose beauty is fading with time. Isn’t that how it goes?  We all wither in time. But, who we really are, our hearts, our souls remain with us long after the petals have fallen. 

The search continues on until we accomplish our goal. It may not have a view of the majestic sea. However, whatever we ultimately choose must make us happy and excited. That, dear readers, we know for sure. 

And we promise whatever it may be, we’ll share it here with you the next morning when we grab our coffee, position ourselves on this comfy sofa with the view of the ocean a mere glance to the floor to ceiling glass walls. Get it? We do. We will.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2013:

Getting used to the steep winding roads in Boveglio, Italy was challenging. Plus, we had problems with the internet signal at our house resulting in difficulty in posting, often with editing impossible. The story we wrote that day may be of interest to history buffs. Please click here for details.

 

 

 

Planning for the future…Food costs…A year ago…Earthquakes in Italy…

Can’t imagine anyone would cut this down as a Christmas tree.
The strong winds the past few days prevented us from going out to dinner last night.  With the restaurants wide open and mostly outdoors, the cool powerful winds would definitely impede a relaxing dinner. Instead, again we visited the little grocer and purchased two whole free-range chickens for both Saturday and Sunday night dinners. 
With the small refrigerator and freezer in the house, when we purchase meat we try to use it over the next few days as opposed to freezing it. At a cost of US $11.57, EU $8.51 for both chickens, and US $5.76, EU $4.26 per chicken per meal it’s rather reasonable.  
The previous night’s rains brought water to the creek.

With Tom’s white meat preference and mine for dark meat, buying whole chickens is a “no brainer.” The chickens are fully cleaned, ready to cook. I peeled a ton of carrots and onions scattering them around the chicken in the roasting pan.

If we’d chosen to dine out both nights, the cost would have been at least US $130, EU $95.60. We can buy a ton of groceries for that amount.

Bushy.

We often cook the same meal two nights in a row.  I usually cook each night’s portion separately, rather than reheat the meal from the previous night. Some dinners work well, reheated but many we prefer freshly prepared.

For ease, I cut all the vegetables and salad ingredients we’ll be using for both nights to lighten the prep time the second night, making the next night a breeze. We love easy prep these days.

The tile roof, the greenery, and the sea create a colorful view.

Without starch or bread with our meals, prep is quick with the exception of a few meals such as stir-fries, GF pizza, and Mexican each of which require extra chopping, dicing, and general prep.

As much as we’ve both always preferred home-cooked meals to dining out, my interest in spending long periods in the kitchen prepping meal has greatly diminished since we began traveling. I’d much rather spend time experiencing our surroundings as opposed to spending endless hours in the kitchen.

For all we know this may be the fish guy from whom we recently purchased fresh tuna.

Of course, once we’re in Hawaii with family this coming holiday season, with some of the bunch with us for almost a month, my cooking and prep time will be greatly increased with as many as 16 of us for dinner for as long as two of the weeks. 

For easy decision making, I created a folder on my desktop with recipes. Tom and I made a list for each entrée we’ll make, deciding that it makes sense to have the adults prepare breakfasts and lunches for themselves and their kids, while Tom and I make dinners. 

We never tire of the scenery on the island of Madeira.

We’ll keep the refrigerators well-stocked in both houses with simple to prepare foods, snacks, and beverages.  With many of our family members having particular food preferences and with so many of us, it won’t be possible to make separate meals for those with picky taste buds except chicken for Richard, the eldest, who doesn’t eat beef.

It will be easy to have a slew of frozen chicken breasts handy to make each night which may prove to be useful for others who may not like a particular night’s main course. My way of eating will easily incorporate into each meal when I can eat the meat we’re cooking, veggies, and salad.

This must be a variety of cactus.

Each night, we’ll make an entrée, a starch side dish, several vegetables, salads, and bread. Some nights, I’ll make a dessert particularly on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. On other nights, we’ll have ice cream with toppings for cones and sundaes and microwave popcorn. 

I won’t be partaking in my former Christmas cookie baking frenzy. I’d rather spend time with our family than hidden away in the kitchen. 

Oceanview from the road above.

With enough variety, everyone will be able to pick and choose what they’d like. Most nights we’ll cook on the grill which is less time-consuming. I think of it as having a casual dinner party for 15 to 16 every night for approximately two weeks of the time with some family members staying shorter or longer periods than others.  It will all work out.

As for dining out, it’s unlikely we’ll all go out to dinner together. When looking up menus online of local nearby restaurants on the Big Island of Hawaii, the cost for all of us would be well over US $1000, EU $735.36, just not worth the cost for us or for any of our kids. 

Hillside photos may often appear alike but we never post the same photo twice.

If any of our kids would like to take their families out to dine, they are free to do so while the rest of us dine in.  Once they see their first bill, they’ll unlikely choose to dine out again. Dining out and the general cost of living is outrageously expensive in Hawaii on any of the islands, as we’ll soon experience. 

In a mere four months, Tom and I will already have been living in Hawaii for two weeks beginning our four island stint until next May when we leave for Australia. 

Vineyards are everywhere with wine as a popular commodity.

It’s hard to believe we’re rapidly moving into another phase of our worldwide travels. Once we have another year booked in Australia, we’ll feel more at ease. Having no “stuff” and not knowing where one will be living doesn’t scare us. But, with future bookings in place, it provides us with peace of mind.

Let’s face it. Peace of mind is a valuable commodity that in essence, money and effort are able to buy, to an extent.  The challenge for us is always how much money and effort do we want to expend in order to gain peace of mind, sooner as opposed to later.

Today, we’ll be back at it, planning for the future, definitely on a mission to achieve our goals and continue on with the dream. 
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No photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2013:

Last year on this date while living in Boveglio, Italy, we were experiencing earthquakes. It was Tom’s first earthquake experience. Immediately, we began checking online for statistics for our area and found interesting and useful facts some of which we posted as opposed to photos. For the link for that date, please click here

 

A drive in the mountains…Surprising finds!…

 

This plant made me squeal with delight. Tom laughs at me and happily maneuvers the car for a better view.

Yesterday, after posting here, we decided to go for another drive on the endless roads in these mountains. One can go any which way, ending up at a dead-end or going on into what seems to be infinity.

The ocean is behind this old vine-covered garage.

Little did we know that we’d encounter so many new-to-us treasures of which this island has many. What a place! Without a doubt, the roads, turns, and views may appear repetitive. But, when driving through the hills each hairpin turn brings a new experience our way. When possible, Tom finds a spot to pull over enabling me to take photos. 

There is Ms. Goat posing for a photo as we drove by as she munched on vegetation.

In some cases, I have no choice but to take photos from inside the car while on the move when cars are behind us and there’s no shoulder or if it’s simply too dangerous to stop which is most often the case on the narrow winding steep roads.

This black goat was munching while tied up on a hill.  Goats are often tied up to prevent them from wandering off with few fences anywhere in the area.  Next door to us, the mom goat stays tied up but the two kids aren’t, as they naturally stay close to their mom at all times.

When we think back to a year ago when we moved to Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, and the terrifying roads, we’ve come a long way. Tom has mastered driving in these mountainous roads and I’m no longer frightened. 

We discovered many homes covered in vines growing prolifically in this ideal weather.

If I can keep my eyes straight ahead looking out the windshield as opposed to the side window, I can keep the possibility of motion sickness at bay. It’s hard to do when I’m a wild woman seeing one thing after another, eyes darting every which way. “They,” say eye movement effects motion sickness more than any other factor.  Somehow, I’m able to keep any queasiness in check.

We share today’s photos with much enthusiasm. With so many taken, we’ll continue to share more over the next several days. 

Grapes are growing everywhere.  Madeira is known for its wine including the popular pink Madeira wine many of us drank in the ’70s and ’80s. 

Perhaps our enthusiasm isn’t warranted by some. A photo of a plant, a tree, a goat? So what? For us, nature is the basis of our travels, and at times it’s hard to contain our excitement. Based on our readership, we’re making the assumption that most of our readers also find some pleasure in our simple finds. 

As we crossed a bridge, I was able to get out of the car to see this creek.

If nature is not your preference, please bear with us. We’ll be in Paris in 41 days and London a few weeks later.  We’ll have plenty of photos of buildings, art, history, food, and the magic of both amazing cities. Although nature is our primary objective, we could hardly travel the world and miss these two major cities or any of the other big cities we’ve visited in the past and will again in the future.

This is the bush from which I took the shot of the flower in the following photo. Love this!

At the end of our self-tour, we headed to the little market for a few groceries which we actually enjoy. The quaint market where no one speaks a word of English is enchanting, the prices are no more than the supermarket in Ribeira Brava and surprisingly we are able to find many items we need. Soon, we’ll make a trip to the big supermarket for items that are unavailable locally.

 I couldn’t get a perfect shot of this flower while we were on the move but it was fun to see.

Having not dined out in weeks when we’ve enjoyed our home-cooked meals, tonight we’re going to dine out in a restaurant up the road (literally, “up”) from here. We’ll report back with food photos, prices, and our general experience. It’s a restaurant Gina showed us how to find that has great reviews on Trip Advisor.

The terraced farms and gardens planted in even squares and rectangles cover the hills.

Today, we’ll be back at work to find where we’ll live for our first 89 days in Australia. Prices are extremely high, especially when our main criteria is to be close to the ocean, preferably with a view.

Another important factor is the weather in Australia when the seasons are opposite of the northern hemisphere.  Northern Australia’s temperate winter weather (winter starts in June) will be ideal when our ship arrives on June 11, 2015, one year away. In December, it would be too hot in the north.

An old boarded-up house, uncommon on the island.

We definitely need to book something shortly. As we see from the many vacation rental sites we use, the properties are booking well into 2015. Our search is none too early.

Have a fabulous weekend. We’ll be back tomorrow with more news and photos from our drive.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2013:

As much as we loved the charm and romance of moving into a 300-year-old stone house in Tuscany, Italy, we had to face some obstacles not uncommon in these old houses. This was the stairway to the lower level in order to get to the front door. To the left was the step up onto the veranda where we hung the laundry to dry, tended to the box garden, and spent time outdoors.  Stepping up onto the veranda from this stairway was tricky, definitely not for those unsteady on their feet. Falling could be life-threatening. We were extremely careful each and every time. For details of this and other obstacles in the old house, please click here.