Winding down…packing day…Recap of Madeira in photos…Tomorrow, we leave for Paris…

We reveled in a full moon over the hills of Madeira or a clear night.

Yesterday, we defrosted the freezer and cleaned the refrigerator. Frost-free is a thing of our long-ago past. And, although owners don’t expect us to do major cleaning as we prepare to embark on our next location, we choose to leave the property as clean and tidy as possible.

Tom recalls our stay in Madeira as a memorable experience.
Always windy, but I loved every day in Madeira.

With most of our packing completed today, we’ll be set to go first thing tomorrow morning, departing for the airport at 7 am. With everything done in advance, we’ll only need to awake by 6 am, in time to shower and dress. Unfortunately, neither of us sleeps well the night before departure, more as a result of the necessity of rising earlier, than any anxiety about leaving.

A typical partial day road trip resulted in driving through dozens of tunnels.

Although we’ll only be in the air for only a total of four hours, our trip is an all-day affair with a 2 1/2 hour layover in Lisbon and a one hour time change. The flight arrives at Orly Airport in Paris at 5:15 pm. 

We always enjoyed it when the low lying clouds and fog rolled in.

Then, we’ll pick up our bags, wade through the usual long lines at immigration, and grab a cab to our hotel. We don’t expect to arrive at our hotel until 7:30 pm. 

Early on, we purchased this tuna from the musical fish truck, caught that morning.

If time allows during our long layover in Lisbon, we may decide to eat at the airport when the last time we were there, we had a decent meal. Getting the food out of the way will leave us time to wander about Paris for a few hours after we check-in and unpack, perhaps stopping for a light meal or snack later in the evening, if we so choose.

We arrived in Madeira in mid-May when the flowers were in full bloom. They were the most beautiful flowers we’ve seen anywhere.

We’ve both learned to temper our enthusiasm when heading to a new location until we actually arrive. Traveling to Paris was for more for my benefit than for Tom so I may be the only one of us tempering enthusiasm. But, we shall see. I have no doubt he’ll enjoy it as well.

The goats and two kids next door were a constant source of enjoyment. Although too far to get good photos, they were close enough to always respond with a hearty “baa” whenever we sent a “baa” their way. 

As soon as I upload today’s post, I’m heading upstairs to place all of my clothes in the Space Bags to be ready for Tom to suck out the air using the little vacuum. Then, I’ll pack the one remaining smaller suitcase with the medical supplies, toiletries, and cosmetic bag, top-off my large bag with odds and ends, and then I’m set.

We purchased fresh organic produce from the musical truck every week during our time in Madeira.

Hopefully, our goal to be free of at least one carry on will prove to be achieved. Tom insisted we keep my laptop bag until after we packed to ensure we didn’t need it. I think we’ll be OK without using it.

Beautiful non-traditional colors of vegetation.
We never ceased to enjoy the terraced gardens so typical on the island.

Our portable printer died and we tossed it. What a piece of junk after all. It was nothing but a hassle from the first time we used it. Getting rid of it and its supplies rid us of a few more pounds/kilos. We’ll figure out life without a printer. 

A surprising closeup of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar.
We were amazed by the green fuzzy buds on this colorful flower.

I groaned over the necessity of having to use a piece of paper when digital is the way to go. Certainly, a copy of anything on one’s smartphone should be all that anyone needs to show for any service or event. Since we left the US, we’ve found less and less of a need for the requisite piece of paper required for some venues and reservations. 

We were delighted when these orchids were growing on our patio.
We squealed when we drove under a waterfall in order to continue on the road.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our final post from Madeira until Friday when we post directly from Paris. Wow! I love the way that sounds!

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2013: 

There was no post on this date one year ago when the Internet was down for the day. Here is a photo from our trip to the walled city of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.

In the walled city of Lucca, there were numerous interesting historic buildings, most remaining in excellent condition.

Final total costs for 77 days in Madeira…A year ago…the walled city of Lucca, Italy…Two more days until departure…

While on foot we spotted this waterfall.

Finally, we have the tally of our total expenses for the 77 days we’ve lived on the island of Madeira, Portugal. The grand total includes the following expenses:

  • Rent
  • Airfare from Marrakech, Morocco to Madeira, Portugal including excess baggage fees
  • Car rental, fuel
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants (including tax and tips)
  • Groceries including laundry soap, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries purchased at market
  • Housecleaning service and tips
  • Parking fees
  • Shipping fees (for the package we received)

The grand total:    $10,720.51, EU $7,978.77
Monthly average:  $  4,234.83, EU $3,151.78
Daily Average:      $     139.23, EU $   103.62

We walked through this short tunnel to reach the ocean at the other end as shown in these other photos.

With respect to the property owners, we don’t post the rental amount unless we’ve paid close to the asking price. Living in vacation rentals for these extended periods often enables us to negotiate a rent considerably lower than the price posted on the owner’s listing. If we were to post these prices, other future short term renters may expect these lower prices. 

Nothing is as mesmerizing as the sea.

If anyone is interested in the rental amount for the extended period in Madeira, please contact me directly at For short term rentals, please refer to Gina’s listing at Homeaway by clicking here

Two small waterfalls flow from the rocks in a natural rock wall.

Not surprisingly, the cost of the rental car was almost as much as the rent. Undoubtedly, we could have easily saved quite a bit if we’d used a taxi three or four times a week. In this case, the freedom of coming and going at our leisure proved to be worthwhile.

Clouds rolling in.

We don’t always rent a car. At times, it makes more sense to use taxis or public transportation, especially when we’re walking distance to restaurants and markets. In Paris and London, public transportation will be outside the door of the hotel making getting around easy from what we can determine so far.

At times, the clouds appear as if they were smoke. At times, there is smoke wafting through the hills when residents are allowed to burn off their terraced gardens.

Food costs, including dining in restaurants, can be high depending on the country as was the case here in Madeira.

Our total food costs while in Madeira including dining out:
Grand total:          US $2,329.60, EU $1,733.81
Monthly Average:  US $   920.23, EU $   684.88
Daily Average:      US $     30.25, EU $     22.51

These giant cement forms are used in some areas to protect the beaches.

We’re pleased with the totals especially since early on we determined that dining out was too expensive to do regularly. As a result, knowing we’d be dining out for months to come, we opted to eat in after spending US $65 to US $70, EU $49 to EU $52 for each of the three times we dined out, although the food was excellent.

The preformed cement blocks aren’t attractive but serve a useful purpose.

When one is constantly traveling and with my restrictive diet, dining out is not as huge a treat as one may expect. Although it will necessary to dine out until after mid-October and surely we’ll experience amazing food, we always find our home-cooked meals to be the most rewarding. There’s something appealing about spending 25% of the cost of dining out in order to dine in. 

In Ribeira Brava, we walked through a tunnel to an area where local residents anchor their personal watercraft.

Today, we’ll finish up the laundry, pack the smaller bags and I’ll do my manicure and pedicure. With excellent leftover pizza to pop into the oven, cooking will be at a minimum today, and tomorrow when all I have to do is prepare is a salad and bake the already put together uncooked pizza, ready for the oven.

In Ribeira Brava, we wander into a needlepoint and craft shop finding a new zippered bag as a carry-on for our prescriptions and vitamins when the handle on the old bag broke.

The more often we move, the quicker and more organized we become as departure time approaches. Also, the lightened load is a huge factor in making the task relatively easy.

Back tomorrow with updates as we wind down our final photos. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2913:

A year ago today on a very rainy day, we visited the walled city of Lucca. Once inside, we dashed through the city in the rain to see as much as we could, stopping to look at this clock, The Pretorio Palace Clock. For many more photos of the walled city, please click here.

Check out my small pile of clothes to pack!…I’ve come a long way…Coming tomorrow, total costs for 77 days in Madeira…Three days and counting…

This is my measly pile of clothing, keeping in mind this includes not only all my everyday wear but also two Scottevest jackets, three remaining bathing suits, two sets of Bugsaway clothing including three hats, and three small handbags.

Yesterday, I decided to get a handle on how much I have to pack. We’d received a package with new clothing for me while in Madeira with two pairs of jeans, three tee shirts, and three skirts to add to my worn and dwindling wardrobe.

Over these past months, I diligently made a pile of clothes including pajamas and swimwear that I decided had to go, to not only replace the weight of the new items but, also reduce the overall weight of my luggage. 

Another view of my tiny pile of clothing which also includes three belts, three long cotton tee shirt dresses that I wear to bed when it’s cool, three pairs of jeans, one pair of capris, one pair of shorts, and a dozen tee shirts. My few items of underwear are at the bottom of this pile.

A few weeks ago I handed off the accumulated pile to Gina and her daughter, hoping they’d find a few things they’d like, donating the remainder. Getting those items out of sight really helped.  No longer would I riffle through them, reconsidering one item or another. Now that they’re gone, I don’t give them a thought. How quickly we forget “things” once we decide to let them go. 

I learned this lesson well when we sold all of our “treasured belongings” before leaving Minnesota almost two years ago. I cried when I saw my favorite household goods being walked down the road during the estate sale, a happy purchaser enthralled with their “good deal.” 

This is it folks, all the shoes I own, a paltry six pairs. I don’t recall ever having so few shoes since I was a kid when I got one new pair of Buster Browns once a year. Bring back memories?

Once we boarded our first of eight cruises on January 3, 2013, I’ve never given any of those items a thought. It was just “stuff.” I felt free. I felt liberated from the constraints and responsibilities that go with owning stuff. 

It was only a few days ago that Tom and I spoke of how we can’t imagine ever owning a sofa or a dining room table and chairs. One never knows. But, at this point, it’s far removed from our reality.

We spotted this circle in the ocean a few days ago, curious as to its origin.

Yesterday, when I made these piles of clothes and shoes as shown in these photos which include every wearable item in my repertoire except a small bag of costume jewelry, I smiled, kind of proud of myself. 

In my old life, at times I’d feel a sense of accomplishment when I’d revel in the things we had acquired from years of searching for the perfect addition to our home and lives, content with what we “had.” Now, I feel a sense of accomplishment for the things I don’t have. What a turn around! See, we can “teach an old dog new tricks!”

We wondered if that circle was made by the freighter or by some other phenomenon. Why would a freighter go around in a circle?

My pile of clothing is small enough that I no longer need to use the Space Bags with the little vacuum sucking out the air. We’ve may decide to use the bags  anyway for security, making it less likely someone would break the seal and steal something. Or, we may not.

Tom has yet to organize his stuff so we’ll see how that goes. I believe at this point he has more stuff than I do.  We shall see on Wednesday when we pack.

Late-blooming Bird of Paradise, aptly named.

It’s hard for me to believe that I own only six pairs of shoes; one pair of water shoes, two pairs of leather Keds, two pairs of sandals, and one pair of boots I refuse to ever part with, after having them custom-fitted back in Minnesota when they were too wide for my calves. 

Besides, we’ll need our boots for Iceland and the Outback in Australia along with our BugsAway clothing (which is also shown in my pile of stuff) when the mosquitoes and flies are fierce in Australia, New Zealand and on the islands in the South Pacific. 

We never got enough of the clouds rolling in over the hills.  Each time it occurred we watched from the veranda in awe of the beauty.

Actually, other than a few desert climates we’ve visited in the US such as Nevada and Arizona, flying and biting insects are everywhere we’ve traveled. While in Africa I decided that I wasn’t letting my sensitivity to being bit have a bearing on where we’d travel in the future. 

As soon as we post this, we’re off for our last short road trip when we’ll take a few photos, stop at the supermarket and say goodbye to the “downtown” we’ve enjoyed over these past months, the seaside village of Ribeira Brava.

Our neighbors were harvesting some of the treasures from their garden.

Yesterday, as mentioned, I began the process of going back to the beginning of our first post and editing the many errors that remained, some my typos and others due to internet connectivity issues. I managed to get through the first 11 posts. It will take several months to complete this daunting task when either we won’t have time or we’ll be cruising when Internet rates are too high for such a time consuming project.

We have a fun post already prepared for Thursday, our travel day, which we’ll publish shortly before we leave the house to go to the airport. Doing so, we won’t miss a day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2013:

Summer was in full bloom in Tuscany. On this date a year ago, we booked our tickets for Kenya, a little disgruntled that we couldn’t choose our seats online for the very long flight. For details, please click here.

Annual celebration in Campanario…Videos and photos…Daylight fireworks…Four days until departure….

We took these two videos around 1:00 pm on Saturday as the cloud rolled in and the sound of the fireworks reverberated through the hills.
It was fun to see the results of the shooting fireworks in the hills of Campanario as the town prepared to celebrate the religious holiday, Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento.

Driving in Campanario at different times during this past week, we’ve noticed areas where street lamps were decorated and colorful banners draped across the roads near the church. 

Busy preparations surrounded the church in Campanario as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday’s religious festivities.

The closer we drove to the local Catholic church, it was obvious, some type of celebration was on the horizon. I had little luck finding out information about the celebration online, finally sending Gina an email for an answer.

She responded in her most endearing broken English that last night was the annual “Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento,” (feast of the blessed bleeding) also known as “Festa do Senhor Jesus” (feast of the Lord Jesus).  

Workers decorated archways over the road consisting of evergreen branches.

With the lack of parking in the area around the church, it was evident that the only way to partake in the festivities would be to have someone drop us off or walk the very long distance from our house to the church with trips through a long tunnel each way, not an ideal spot for walking. 

Instead, we opted to watch from our veranda as much as we’d be able to hear and see. We found this website that lists all the religious celebrations in Madeira, of which there are many throughout the year.

These roads leading to the church were decorated with lights and garland.

As we wind down our time in Madeira, we find ourselves comfortable staying in except for an occasional trip to the supermarket or the little grocer. As of today, we’ll have consumed the last of the meat in the freezer leaving us with a choice of dining out or having one last favorite meal over the next three nights.

With no opportunity to cook for the upcoming 77 days of travel, we’ve decided to make our favorite dinner, the usual gluten and starch-free, low carb pizza one last time, cooking it fresh over the next three nights as opposed to cooking it all at once and reheating it. 

Local citizens mulling around the area chatting and smoking amid the workers preparing for the big event.

With a quick trip to the supermarket tomorrow for a few remaining ingredients to be added to the several ingredients we already have on hand, we’ll be set for meals until we leave early Thursday morning.

Had we gone to the feast, there would have been few, if any, items I could have had when starch, flour, and sugar are commonly used in many popular Portuguese dishes. 

As we drove away from the church we spotted these flowers.

In these past three years, I haven’t made one exception in my diet, not a single bite. I’m not about to start faltering now when it’s my good health that has made our travels possible. 

Today, a warm sunny day will draw me outdoors for another walk up the steep hill. With a slight touch of melancholy as I huff and puff my way up the hill, I’ll accept that we’ll soon say goodbye to this beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal as we make our way to our next adventure.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2013:

Lisa and Lucca, owners of the 300-year-old stone house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, stapled cloth netting to cover a few of the windows to reduce the number of flies entering the house. It was hot and we couldn’t keep the windows shut for another day. The wind blew the fabric from the three windows they’d covered and only a few days later, we had biting flies in the house again. I resorted to wearing my BugsAway long pants and long sleeve shirt to keep from getting bit when I couldn’t find any insect repellent at any of the stores. For details from that date, please click here.

Five days until departure…Remembering “staycations”…No dreaded Wednesdays…A year ago, thoughtful slices…

Nothing like a view from the veranda at dusk.

Last night, as we have every night, we took a few minutes to embrace our surroundings while on the veranda.  Soon, this view will be lost to us replaced by other views I’m sure we’ll find appealing. 

A summer rose.

It’s ironic how we become attached to our surroundings for these relatively short periods of two to three months. Even Marrakech, Morocco, although not our favorite place to live, had its charm and appeal. I think of it often remembering every minute detail, especially the household staff.

Low lying clouds are a common occurrence on the island of Madeira.

We’re both grateful that we have these posts to aid us in retaining the memory of places we’ve lived and the experiences we’ve had. For me, writing them imprints them into my memory in a way no other experiences have been remembered in my past.

A local man we encountered on the road explained that these are fishing nets. He spoke no English, but we were able to decipher a little of what he was saying.

Add the constant awareness of photo-taking opportunities and my memory acuity astounds me. Oddly, we can almost recount day after day from as far back as to our first foray into living outside the US in Belize so long ago. 

An unusual plant we spotted on a drive.

When in doubt of an occurrence that may have escaped us, we need only search the archives to have the story retold in words and photos bringing every thought and feeling to the forefront to become more thoroughly locked in place than ever.

I wonder how I ever traveled in my old life without documenting my experiences. I only recall snippets of days and nights with memories of a few poorly taken photos now tucked away in a plastic tote at son Richard’s home in Las Vegas, along with a zillion other photos of a life lived long ago.

Lush greenery, blue skies, and the sea create a colorful scene.

Tom and I took a few vacations in our old lives, one to Aruba with friends, a few business-related trips, a weekend here and there. So content were we with our lives at the lake home that we had no sense of wanderlust, no desire to pack, to fly, to feel cramped in a hotel room. 

The clouds rolling in over an older neighborhood.

Most of our vacations were now referred to as “staycations” where people stay home for a week or two leaving work behind, ultimately ending up working at home on maintenance-related tasks interspersed with entertaining friends and family. 

In reality, “staycations” were often exhausting, although rewarding and fun and we didn’t mind going back to work when it was over. Not the same dread one feels when “going away” on a vacation with the thought of soon having to return home.

Another reason we didn’t like to travel was directly related to the dread of the vacation soon being over which usually occurred in a big way by about the Wednesday before departure.

Rooftops, power lines, and terraced hills are a common sight.

Years ago, I recall telling Tom, long before we decided to travel the world, that I wonder what it would be like to go somewhere never having the dread of leaving. And, I wondered, what would that “look” like? Would one go to an island resort and stay forever? It was an impossible scenario warranting little further thought.

And now, here we are, doing exactly what I’d imagined was impossible…never dreading a Wednesday, knowing that we never had to go home to unpack, never having to sort through the piles of mail from the overstuffed mailbox, never having to plow snow piled high in the driveway and never having spoiled food in the refrigerator. 

Banana leaves along the road.

No, we don’t jump for joy each day of our lives on this seeming perpetual vacation. In a very short time, we came to realize that these are the “days of our lives,” at times quiet and uneventful, at times filled with tasks and responsibility.

At other times, it’s filled with awe and wonder as to how in the world did we ever manage to “get here” and get past all of the painful tasks of unloading our lives of stuff and saying goodbye to those we love, who never believed we’d actually do it, nor expect we’d stay “out there” as long as we have. 

With few homes having clothes dryers, railings on verandas become clotheslines.

The passion to continue on, continues on, surprising even us at times. Last night as we stood on the veranda, in awe of the view, arms wrapped around one another, we knew that wherever we may be, there will always be a view.

And, although we’ll always remember this particular view, a new one will soon appear in its place, and once again, dear readers, we’ll be home.

Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2013:

Santina, our lovely cleaning person in Boveglio, had brought us a plate of these three delicious looking pie pieces. Tom, with his picky taste buds, didn’t find them to be as delicious as they looked. I know I would have loved them if I’d been able to eat them. The remainder of our post on that day was describing how we purchase refills for our few prescriptions from a reputable A+ rated by Better Business Bureau, an online pharmacy. Check out the post here for more details.

More new road trip photos…Worried about flying?…A year ago…A procession in the neighborhood…Remedy for keeping flies away…

Map of the close proximity of Madeira, Portugal (“A” on map) to Algeria, where yet another plane was found this morning in Mali. According to news reports causes of the crash are unknown at this point.

During the day when we’re home and busy online, we may have the TV on to international news. We’re able to receive a few US news stations. 

The shoreline is always breathtaking.

In a way, life was less worrisome when we had no TV during most of our travels, as opposed to here in Madeira where there are several English speaking channels. Other than the news and financial information, we don’t watch TV instead, watching movies and shows on my laptop that we’ve downloaded from, a monthly subscription service.

Homes in what appears to be a newer area.
Neither of us actually “watch” the news. Instead, we’re busy with other tasks, reading or busying ourselves with laundry or preparing meals with the sound of the news in the background.
Exiting yet another tunnel.

Perhaps, ignorance is bliss after all.  Watching the varying opinions of world affairs is frightening and frustrating. What’s happening in the world? Oh, yes,  I could get into a lengthy recitation about our opinions of world affairs but, that dear reader is not the intent of our postings.  

There’s been little rain and yet the hillside is lush and green.

We’re all about low-stress living, finding joy in our surroundings coupled with a profound sense of freedom as we wander about the world at our leisure.

In a busy beach area, cars were parked inside this frequently used tunnel.

Last night, I received a worried email from my dear sister Julie about a news story she’d read about a female tourist being fatally shot in the past few days in Mombasa, Kenya. 

Another cloudy day on the road.

Ten months ago we were on the island of Mombasa, taking a ferry across the waterway to the mainland which was packed like sardines with a possible 1000 people on board. We spent 90 days in Diani Beach, Kenya where there have been multiple fatal incidences since we left last December 1st.

On a few hour outing, we’d go through as many as 20 tunnels.

Then, I read US news about a killing at a hospital in Pennsylvania and two deaths from tornados in Virginia and we remind ourselves that nowhere on earth is truly safe. “Drive by” incidences occurred frequently only 30 minutes from where we lived in Minnesota. 

Bathers on a cloudy day in a protected area of which there are many on the island.

With all the recent planes disappearing from the sky including yesterday’s flight to Algeria and planes being shot down, we can’t help but think for a moment of our upcoming flight from Madeira to Lisbon to Paris six days from today. 

A “massage salon” at the beach.

There’s no reason to think that our upcoming flight is particularly high risk. It’s not. However, after days and days of horrifying news, its human nature to let such fearful thoughts waft through our minds a mere six days away from departure. 

An old building along a craggy rock wall.

I don’t like flying in any case. The actual flying time to Paris is actually shorter than the layover in Lisbon but, that provides little comfort. The length of a flight appears to have little bearing on its risks. 

We’ve been amazed by the quality and excellent condition of the roads in Madeira better than we’ve seen anywhere.

Do I allow my brain into a frenzy of fear? I choose not to. I gave it some thought tinged with a touch of angst deciding to let it go. Worry serves no purpose. Tom, of course, doesn’t join the worry train with me for a moment.

As we entered a seaside village this tree reminded us of the flat top trees in the Masai Mara when we were on safari.

Today, I’m fussing over two horsefly bites from a few days ago. The one on my thumb which is swollen to twice its size, kept me awake half the night last night. The other on my upper arm is slightly less annoying. 

Ruins of what appeared to be a factory or commercial building.

In the realm of things, my bites are a trivial matter. Then again, whatever transpires in the world, most of us are caught up in the trivialities of our daily lives, at times to deflect our attention to the deeper more serious matters, over which we have no control. Human nature. It’s rampant.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2013:

While in Tuscany, we’d read online that hanging a plastic bag with pennies inside would keep flies away.  With no screens, no AC, and the heat of summer it was one long summer when this “home remedy” worked to a degree but not entirely. Luckily, it’s been cool here in Madeira and we’ve kept the windows shot most of the time. Somehow, the flies still make their way indoors looking for me for what must be a tasty bite. For detail from the story that day with a video and photos of a procession through the neighborhood, please click here.

New road trip photos…Departure in 7 days…A year ago…Anticipating nine months in Africa…

Purple flowers, blue sea.  Lovely.

Since purchasing the HP laptop in South Africa I’ve had trouble with the keyboard. The letter “i” continues to stick although I’ve learned to press hard in order for it to work. 

There’s a substantial Catholic population on the island. It’s not unusual to spot a shrine of the Virgin Mary in public areas such as this.

A new problem started a few days ago. When I write a word with the letter “P” in it, the “P” moves to another position in the word such as this:  “hpoto” instead of “photo.” Now I have to be conscientious of every word that I type that has a “P” in it. Go figure. 

A small fishing boat anchored to a buoy.

We’ll both need new laptops when we arrive in Boston in September. At that point, my laptop will only be seven months old. It’s frustrating. 

View from a road at a high elevation to the village below showing the boat in the above photo.

I know that many think that a tablet will work for us but unless there’s a new model with a large enough monitor to satisfy us both, we’ll end up buying two more laptops. Tom’s two-year-old laptop has a broken monitor he’s been dealing with for months. There goes another US $2000, EU $1485.26.

These old stone tunnels are common throughout Madeira.

This morning I had an awful time logging on when I ended up having to use the on-screen keyboard to enter my password. I’m totally convinced that a quality laptop suitable for travel is yet to be designed. I’ve seen a few “rugged” styles but they are very heavy. Oxymoron.

Many areas neighborhoods consist of large homes, often owned by foreigners and ex-pats.

Today, when Judite arrives for the final time, we’re heading out for our last grocery shopping trip needing only a few items to get us through the next six dinners. Today, we didn’t buy produce from the truck when we heard it drive past when all we need is lettuce, cabbage, and carrots which we’ll buy at the supermarket.

As we drove through a village, this bell tower warranted a stop.

In the past several days, I’ve done some clearing and cleaning of items in my smaller of the two bags, which contains medical supplies, a few camera supplies, toiletries, and cosmetic items, lightening the load by a few pounds. Tom is down to bare bones unable to lighten his large bag. The second smaller bag holds our heavy boots and all of our shoes. 

There are a few sandy beaches on the island. Most are rocky such as this.

I’m considering getting rid of my large handbag which I only use on travel days. The bag itself is heavy. If I’m able to fit the vital items to the carry on duffel bag, we’d be down to the following carry on: one duffel, one laptop bag, and the cloth bag of prescriptions (in case our luggage is lost). We shall see if I can pull this off once we start packing.

Tom got a kick out of this sign for an Irish Sports Bar with a photo of a camel on the sign. We couldn’t quite grasp the significance of the camel and Irish.  There aren’t any camels in Ireland, are there?

Today, we’re sharing photos from another road trip. Driving around this magical island always offers us new and interesting scenery that we’re always anxious to share with our readers.

This village was decorated for the upcoming banana festival which occurred over this past weekend.

We both have a tendency to temper our enthusiasm as the time to leave nears, knowing that we have a full travel day ahead of us. We’ll be especially relieved when this upcoming travel day is over with all of the political unrest in the world.

Have a wonderful day!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2013:

A borrowed photo of Diani Beach, Kenya as we wrote about our fears and apprehension of living in Africa for nine months which at that point one year ago today, was only six weeks away. Now, looking back some of our fears were warranted such as cobras on the veranda, horrifying insects, and living with only an outdoor living room. In any case, worrying certainly provided little insight into that which we experienced. For details of that date, please click here.

How much will we spend dining out in Paris and London… A year ago…Link to photos with step by step instructions for making a gluten free, low carb bread free sandwich…

Midday clouds create a pretty sky.

With only eight days remaining in Madeira we realized that we won’t be cooking another meal until October 16th when we arrive in Maui, Hawaii for our six week stay. 

From July 31st, our departure date until arriving in Maui when we’ll make our way to a grocery store, it will be no less than 77 days without cooking a single meal. This is even longer than the 75 days we spent in Morocco when we either dined out or dined at home with lovely Madame Zahra making our meals.

Clouds rolling in at the end of the day.

First, we’ll be arriving in Honolulu on October 5th by way of cruise ship when we’ll spend 11 nights in Waikiki in a vacation rental fully equipped with cooking facilities.  However, as we mentioned earlier, we’ve decided to mostly dine out while in Waikiki rather than purchase an the required inventory of basic cooking items in order to prepare our meals.

As a result, currently, we’re making some of our favorite meals, knowing full well, it will be a long time until we can do so again.  Each time we move to a new location, its at this point before departure that we take stock of all the  remaining food stuffs, making our meals utilizing everything we have on hand.

Some flowers continue to bloom over the summer months.

Here’s our menu for the next eight dinners: all low carb, gluten, starch and sugar free:
7/23  Taco salad (no shell), side of roasted vegetables
7/24  Pork chops with sautéed mushrooms, side of roasted vegetables, steamed green beans, small side of tuna salad on a bed of lettuce, green salad
7/25  Same as above in order to finish off pork chops in freezer
7/26  Filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and onions, steamed green beans, side of roasted vegetables, side of coleslaw
7/27  Italian meatballs in sugar free pasta sauce, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, side of green beans (only veggie Tom will eat), side of roasted vegetables, side salad
7/28 Portuguese sausage omelet (using remaining fresh eggs) with onions, mushrooms and leftover cheeses, side salad using all leftover vegetables
7/29  Dine out
7/30  Dine out
7/31  Fly from Madeira to Paris, leaving in the morning

These low clouds have wafted in over the last few days.

By following this menu, we’ll use all of the remaining foods except for some basic inventory items (olive oil, butter, seasonings, etc.) which we always leave behind for the next occupants.

While in Madeira, we’ve dined out only a total of five times, mainly due to the cost.  As we booked more and more vacation rentals far into the future, all requiring deposits (some as much as 50% of the rent) and, with our upcoming “Family Vacation” in Hawaii in December and, with the necessity of dining out over the upcoming 77 days, we decided to tighten our belts.

This is one of the kids that have grown over the summer.  They’re fairly far into the yard next door which with our camera, we can’t get a clearer shot.  The markings on her head are amazing with the white ears and black markings on her face.  When I yell out “baah” to her while I’m standing at the railing, she looks up at me and “baahs” back.  It’s not quite as fun as talking to a warthog but, is fun none the less.

As a result of our frugality, we’ll have saved over US $1200, EU $891, on the food budget for our 75 days in Madeira.  This savings will offset some of the high cost of dining out in Paris for the 16 days we’ll be living in a hotel. We budgeted US $1600, EU $1188 for those meals a relatively small amount for Paris. 

Tom is always spotting interesting cloud formations.  In this case at dusk, he spotted a seahorse in these clouds.  Do you see it?

With the savings we’ll have incurred in Madeira which we’ll split between Paris and London (budgeted US $1500, EU $1114, for 15 days) our combined total dining budget total for Paris and London is US $3100, EU $2302. 

By splitting the above budgetary savings in Madeira of US $1200, EU $891 between the two cities over 31 days we’re left with a total of US $138.71, EU $103 per day. 

Ominous looking cloud at dusk from our veranda.

Although this amount won’t get us into the finest of restaurants every night, if we choose casual dining every other night, spending under US $50, EU $37 we’ll be left with US $227.42, EU $169 to spend on the alternate night’s dinner in nicer restaurants.

Gladiolas growing in a pot on our veranda.

Since I don’t drink alcohol and Tom doesn’t drink wine, usually ordering only a few cocktails and, we don’t order desserts, we’ll have enough to otherwise spend on a menu.  Of course, there are restaurants in Paris where a couple can easily spend US $800, EU $594 for dinner in a fine dining restaurant.  That won’t be us. 

A dog looking down at us as we stood on the road.

Traveling the world as we do requires careful and diligent budgeting and planning.  Both of us have learned to avoid a “laissez faire” attitude when researching our options as to what appeals to us.  We have learned to utilize a strong sense of self control which is necessary for us to continue on, enjoying our lives without worrying about finances.

There are plenty of other aspects of travel one can worry about, if they so choose.

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2013:

One year ago to the date we shared the making of our bread-free gluten free, low carb sandwich including step-by-step instructions with photos.  For the remaining details, please click here.

The morphology of the banana plant…Observed and photographed on walks up the steep hill…

This was our first photo taken over two months ago on our first walk up the steep hill. We were fascinated by this peculiar looking pod which is called the inflorescence.

Please excuse formatting issues on this page due to the slow WiFi signal at the time of posting.

In a perfect world, I would have learned all of the intrinsic factors on the growth of banana trees in Madeira, Portugal, and also in many other countries where we’ve observed banana plants/trees flourishing.

When we first spotted the tree, these bananas already growing referred to as the bunch. This photo was taken in May 2014.

A commonly exported crop we’d often observed growing in Africa and Belize, we were fascinated by the massive banana plantations on this island where the weather is cooler than in most countries where they’re typically grown as a vital part of the agricultural economy.

The “inflorescence” continued to grow to change before our eyes.

Shortly after we arrived and settled in our home in Campanario, Madeira over the past almost two and a half months, I began walking up the extremely steep hill outside our door. My intent was first, for the exercise, and secondly, to take photos of flowers, vegetation, and local scenery.

“The inflorescence is a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits.” The hanging pink and yellowish protrusions are the flowers.

Please click here for the scientific explanation of the morphology of the banana tree, described in beautiful detail.

As days turned into weeks, the inflorescence changed dramatically.

On the first walk which Tom shared with me, we were immediately taken aback by a peculiar pod-like structure hanging from a banana tree in the yard of the house next door.

“The rachis is the stalk of the inflorescence from the first fruit to the male bud. It can be bare or covered with persistent bracts. The scars on the rachis indicate where the bracts were attached. They are called nodes.”

Immediately, I started taking photos mesmerized by the odd hanging pod, especially as it progressed over a period of time as I continued the walks on my own.

When driving on the island we spotted another banana tree that had a much different looking progression of the inflorescence, perhaps at an earlier point that we’d missed occurring before our arrival in May.

As the pod morphed, the bananas grew to a hearty bunch and Antonio, Gina’s dad, cut them down. We saw him driving away with the huge bunch of bananas in the trunk of his car.

Back to our inflorescence, morphing as days passed.

In a way, I was sad to see them go. Where he took them, we’ll never know. He speaks no English. Perhaps, there is a place where property owners bring their bananas to sell for a Euro or two. Or, he may take them to a relative or friend that uses them to make banana bread. Who knows? 

It rained for a few days and I didn’t walk.  When  I began walking again on the next sunny day, more flowers appeared as the leaf lifts to bring in the sunlight.

The steep walk up the hill became a frequent activity for me as I watched a smaller unripe batch as it continued to grow. First thing this morning, I bolted out the door camera in hand, knowing my last banana tree photo was imminent to be posted here today.

The bunch continued to flourish. And then, one day, the bulk of them were gone, riding away in Antonio’s car, leaving a smaller unripe bunch behind.

In a funny way, I feel a sense of loss, the same loss I’ve felt when the roses ceased to bloom in their regal manner as the many other flowers of spring and early summer no longer presented their exquisite buds stretching for the sun and occasional droplets of water. 

And then, a few more days passed and there were flowers again.
This morning I noticed that the stalk, the rachis, had dropped partially out of view behind a withering leaf.
The small bunch remains as it’s nourished from the remainder of the tree and its amazing elements. Not a horticulturist or biologist, I don’t understand it all. But, it’s easy to revel in how complex and interesting Life is all around us.

Life. In any form, it’s magical. How blessed we are to live on a planet rich in life forms from the most infinitesimal microbe in a petri dish, to the plankton in the sea for the sustenance for many oceanic life forms, to an animal in the wild, to the human on two legs walking the earth and to the banana tree in Madeira, Portugal where we have lived these past months, enjoying Life.

Photo from one year ago today, July 22, 2013:
No photos were posted on this date one year ago. Instead, we wrote about the problems we’re experiencing with biting flies and insects. With no screens on any of the windows, no AC in the heat of summer in Italy, we had no choice but to leave the windows open, inviting many flying and biting insects indoors. For details of the story from that date, please click here.

New photos from road trips…Annoying flight changes….Why?… A year ago…Sport cars driving up the hills…

We stopped along a beach to enjoy the views.

So far we’ve booked 12 round trip flights from Minneapolis to Hawaii for our family members while waiting for dates that work for eldest son Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada. He’s a successful real estate agent experiencing the busiest time in his 20+ year career. Getting away is not so easy for him. We’re confident, he’ll figure it out soon.

Close up of flower in the above beach photo.

After booking the remaining 12 tickets, we sat back comfortably knowing that the booking aspect of our upcoming family vacation in December was almost complete. How foolish we were to make such assumptions when dealing with the airlines!

Most beaches are rocky in Madeira. Wooden planks are provided for sunbathers to avoid sitting on the rocks. On many beaches, these thatched umbrellas are also provided. 

Speaking of airlines, a week ago, we mentioned the possibility of going to Malaysia in between our two stays in Bali in 2016.  After the tragic downing of yet another Malaysian Airline plane, we’ve rethought our decision to visit Malaysia and will find another country in the South Pacific to visit for the 60 days we’ve yet to fill.

This morning, as I sat down at my computer to begin writing today’s post, I noticed an email from informing us that there have been changes from our flight from Boston to Vancouver on September 17th. Not huge changes, but changes nonetheless. In this case, there was nothing required of us.

There were many roads along the steep cliffs that were wet from water running down the mountains.

Over the past few there have been no less than four notifications of flight changes for son TJ and his family of four with changes on departure times, layovers, and arrival times. In their most recent notification, it required selecting new seats when the actual plane was changed. 

When the airline toll-free number was blocked to Skype, we were unable to speak to a rep to make the new seating arrangement. (This was the first time that we experienced the blocking of a toll-free number via Skype). At the airline website, it stated that one couldn’t change the seats online and would be required to call. 

From what we could determine, this small one-lane rock tunnel was very old.

We contacted TJ explaining that they’d have to book their seats for that leg of the flight, especially important when traveling with two grandsons, Jayden and Nik.

Also, in the past few months, we received another two flight changes for daughter-in-law Camille and granddaughter Madighan who are flying on different dates than son Greg, granddaughter Maisie, and grandson Miles. As in the past, we forward these notifications to our kids, reminding them of the importance of noting these changes.

A bridge over a ravine.

Fortunately, the airlines haven’t changed any departure and arrival dates, only the times. In most cases, the time changes aren’t substantial. What’s the deal? We have to book early to ensure we secure the flights and yet, they keep changing the times.

With many flights in our future travel plans, this is annoying. However, once we fly to Paris in 10 days, and then fly from Boston to Vancouver in September our only flights will be from island to island in Hawaii when we’ll be living on four different islands over a period of months.

A fast-running small creek in the ravine.

Travel days?  We don’t like them. It’s the only part of our travels that give us a sense of angst and uncertainty.  Will we be charged for overweight baggage? Will our flights change or be canceled at the last minute? Will our bags get lost or the contents stolen? Will we have problems with immigration? And most importantly, will we arrive safely?

As for long layovers, we’ve learned to accept this as a reality of our world travels. If the airport has WiFi and a recharging center, we’re at ease. More and more airports are providing these services, which we surprisingly found available in some airports in Africa. 

A natural rock formation.

We’re content to read books during layovers on our phones as we do each day. Our older smartphones don’t have the extended battery life as some of the newer phones. If no recharging stations are available we may be out of luck during a long layover. Why not read a hard copy book? Simple answer. We can’t carry any extra weight reading hard copies of books.

Corn grows wild in many areas of Madeira.

With the new rules in the US that all digital equipment be charged enough to turn on when going through security, this presents a whole new problem for travelers. When we depart on a flight, all of our equipment is fully charged. But, in the case of a layover, we may run out of juice. We’ll worry about this later, definitely keeping it in mind. 

A fountain in the center of a round-about.

Oh, enough whining about flying. I’m sure our regular readers have heard all of this many times in past posts.  I apologize for the redundancy. Please comment if you’ve had similar experiences. We love hearing from our readers.

Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2013:

We stood outside of the 300-year-old stone house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy while a parade of old sports cars drove past perhaps on their way to a car show. For more car photos, please click here for the link from that day.