A road trip turning into an unexpected adventure…A year ago…A neighborhood party…

It was on the return drive that Tom prompted me to make a video of driving under the waterfall, a necessary feat in order to continue on the road. Excuse my verbal flubs on the video. We were having so much fun I could hardly speak coherently.
Once again on Thursday at noon, we decided on a road trip with the intent of getting out the way of Judite as she cleaned our house. There are plenty of places to drive on this island. If one so chose, they could drive the perimeter of the island to the east or west (right or left) on the highway or into the core of the island.
As we approached the waterfall we were astounded as we watched this van drive under it.

Since we’d already made a long drive to Sao Vincente a few weeks ago by driving through the core of the island to the opposite side and, we’d driven to the airport on a few occasions, our logical choice was to head west to an area we hadn’t seen.

The van stopped as we’d also done, to enjoy the downpour on the vehicle.  Fun!

There’s nowhere on this island, whether by following the shoreline or driving through villages, where one doesn’t drive on narrow winding roads with hairpin turns. The major highway around the island often veers into the villages for part of the way to create the challenge of finding one’s way back to the highway. On the map it looks as if it’s a clear shot. Driving it is another matter.

Of course, its hard to see running water in a photo, so please check out the above video for the full experience.

As we worked our way past the familiar Ribeira Brava, the closest larger village where we shop for groceries, we knew we were on new terrain, as unfamiliar scenery came into view. 

Our windshield as we drove under the waterfall. There was no other way to continue on the road than to drive directly under the flow of water.

We had no fear of getting lost when all we’d need to do is look for the ocean which seems to magically appear regardless of the direction we travel. After all, the island of Madeira is only 309 square miles, 801 km, 35 miles, 57 km long from east to west, 14 miles, 22 km from north to south.

We traveled through many tunnels, long and short, the longest on Thursday was the Ponta do Sol.  See this link for details. It’s the third on the list at 8858 feet, 2700 meters long.

Driving the 35 mile, 57 km length of the island is a day-long outing based on the winding hilly roads.

A quaint village along the shore.

On Thursday, our goal was not unlike other outings, not a competition to see if we could drive around the entire island but, instead an opportunity to seek out interesting scenery we’d yet to see. Madeira is a wealth of such scenery, never to disappoint, as was the case on Thursday as shown in our photos.

We’d stopped the car to check out where this set of step led to. As we got closer, we noticed that the steps were small, rocky, not level and “rounded” creating a possible “tripping hazard” making it not worth the risk of a fall.

We’d have stayed out longer than we did but, decided to return when droplets of rain fell on the windshield.  It was another cloudy day of which there have been many in the past 30 days. Gina recently explained that the sun usually shines most days in the summer. Other than clouds impeding the quality of our photos, the clouds didn’t bother us.

A restaurant overlooking the sea on a craggy cliff.

However, it makes no sense to be driving on these roads in the rain if we didn’t have to. We’d returned home by 4:00 pm, satisfied that we’d have another worthwhile outing as we whittle down our time on the lush island of Madeira.

Almost every home or hotel on the island takes advantage of the exquisite views of the ocean.

Of course, the highlight of our day was the waterfall that we drove under. We had no idea we’d encounter this although we’d heard about such a waterfall on the island. We experienced it both coming and going along our drive making is all the more fun the second time.

Many hotels and condo complexes lined the roads along the shoreline.

Today, we’re staying home for a relatively quiet Sunday except for the sound of the goats baaing, the roosters crowing, the birds singing, the church bells ringing and an occasional horn honking as drivers maneuver their way around a hairpin turn.

We stopped in the villages we past through on our drive, often finding tourists on the rocky beaches sitting on provided wood planks.

We’re cooking a Sunday dinner of low carb, gluten-free coconut chicken tenders, grilled veggies and a giant salad. With 11 days remaining until we’re on our way to Paris, we’re content and grateful as we enjoy every last moment on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2013:

Every Friday night, in the village of Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, there was a gathering of locals at the Bar Ferrari, a bar that had been in the area for generations. For more photos and details of the local history, please click here.

Artwork on the island only steps away…Breathtaking…A year ago…An old fashioned locally shared washtub…

It’s hard to believe this is needlepoint. This piece was hanging above the sofa, taking up a huge portion of the wall. Gina’s mama is obviously quite skilled, although no longer able to do this work. Gina explained she happily sell any of this work beautifully framed. If interested, contact her at this link

As we walked up the steep hill with Gina on Thursday, she was babbling on in her adorable attempt at speaking English, as she was excited to show us the house she and her husband Carlos own after he designed and built it a few years ago.

A smaller sidewall held this stunning piece.

She and Carlos were busy working all morning preparing the house for the next round of tourists. Carlos was involved in maintenance while Gina cleaned. They are quite a hard-working couple, obviously happy working together and in love. 

This piece was huge, filling a substantial wall space. See the photo below for more detail.

As we gingerly climbed the few steep slippery flights of steps (no railings) that were still wet from their cleaning the veranda and patio, we entered yet another beautiful house Carlos had built with the utmost of comfort and thoughtful design in mind. 

I zoomed in for more detail in the above photo.

Although my mind was spinning as I checked out the multiple levels, common in these homes built into the hills, my eyes were drawn to the exquisite artwork adorning almost every wall in the main living areas. 

We can only imagine the effort that went into the preparation for the design and colors.

Moving closer for a better look both Tom and I were entranced by the intricate detail and quality of the various pieces each perfectly framed and hung to highlight it’s finite integrity.

The detail in the art is breathtaking.

Gina’s eyes followed us as we moved from item to item finally saying, with pride, “My mama makes that!”

She went on to show us and explain that each of the works of art had been handmade by her mother with a few made by her mother’s sister. The quality of the work was astounding.

Typically, we see patterns such as this in needlepoint.

In the realm of things, the generous display was a plethora of fine needlepoint. For us, as it was displayed, it became fine works of art with intrinsic detail drawing our eyes to savor. Surprisingly, Tom was equally impressed. (Yes, he will love The Louvre in Paris!)

Here again, a more typical design yet created in exquisite detail.

As Carlos enthusiastically yet humbly awaited our response to his design and construction of the house which we genuinely provided, we were stuck with our focus on the art.

It’s ironic how the human mind has an innate ability to appreciate beauty in any form that appeals to their general likes and taste. It was as difficult to look away as it would have been to take our eyes off a kudu or a lion, or a pristine beach at sunset.

Most often, we see needlepoint on throw pillows as was the case on some of these pieces.

After moments of perusing, Tom looked at me saying, “I’ll go get the camera.”

I stopped for a moment considering the difficult steep walk back to our house, albeit short, and if I should go instead. 

But, he knew I was busy looking and didn’t want to step away for a moment.  Off he went to return only minutes later camera in hand, huffing, and puffing. I asked if he was OK. The smile on his face told me he was as his breathing returned to normal under my careful supervision, distracted by his state of being over the art for the moment. (Oh, it’s hell to get old!)

As we walked away, we spotted an array of late-blooming flowers in the flower boxes. 

For those of our readers that have watched any of our videos, I tend to get excited at certain times when taking videos and photos, that I end up sacrificing quality over-enthusiasm as evidenced in my voice-over or in the lack of steadiness of the camera.

Such was the case of Thursday. In taking the photos, never once did I hold the camera straight which resulted in the necessity of later cropping the artwork frames out of the photos to avoid displaying my lopsided camera angle. 

Orchids growing in the yard of Gina and Carlos’ property. They are also growing at our house. We’ll share close up photos soon.

Finally satisfied that we’d taken enough photos and had nodded repeatedly in appreciation of Carlos’s and Gina’s lovely vacation rental, we took off heading downhill to return home. 

Once back home, wanting to get out of Judite’s way as she cleaned our house, we took off on a road trip for the afternoon during which we encountered one of the most exciting natural wonders we’ve seen during our time on the island.

We’ll be back tomorrow to share those photos.  Please check back!

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

This is an authentic washtub we stumbled across when walking in Boveglio, Italy last year on this day, still used by some of the locals.  For details of the story from that date, please click here.

More new photos today…New artistry photos tomorrow from a visit to a neighboring home…Cramming it all in!

Beautiful steeples dot the scenery at the tops of hills in Madeira.  It was cloudy on the day of our boat trip.

Yesterday, when we were buying produce from the produce guy, Gina hollered down to us from the house above the wall, which she and her husband Carlos own among others. She had new guests coming to stay and was busy cleaning.

At the marina in Funchal as we waited to board the catamaran.

We’d yet to see that house which Carlos had designed and built. She invited us up to see it. We dropped off our veggies and headed over-anxious to see the gorgeous home. Once inside, we were enthralled by the unbelievable artwork on the walls that we’ll share in tomorrow’s post with photos. 

We never tire of the terraced farms and gardens on the hillsides in Madeira.

It’s funny how we continue to stumble on new story and photo ideas as we make our way through each day, doing a bit of this and that.

There’s a long bridge over a gorge in the background of this refinery.

When we returned home, Judite was busy cleaning the house so we decided to get out of her way, taking off on a several hour drive long along the shoreline. We were able to get a number of photos of unexpected scenery we’re excited to share on Sunday. Please check back over the weekend for two refreshing topics with photos.

A better view of the long bridge.

With only 13 days remaining in Madeira, we’re hoping to spend as much time as possible savoring in that which we loved so much about living in Campanario; walks up the steep hills, trips to the local market, spending time on the veranda simply relishing in the scenery, explorations to other villages, and a fine sense of appreciation for the often unique (to us) vegetation and flowers.

This restaurant may have formerly been a lighthouse based on its design.

When we look back over countries and homes in which we’ve lived I think we both would say we’ve loved Belize at Laru Beya only a few steps from the sea, two of the homes in which we lived in Marloth Park, South Africa with the wildlife roaming free and here in Madeira with an exquisite view of the sea. 

This house has been perfect for us. Click here for the link to Gina’s listing on Homeaway if you’re interested in a fabulous Madeira holiday/vacation sometime in the future. 

The low lying mist and clouds are ever-present in the hills of Madeira, even on otherwise sunny days.

Yesterday while on our drive, we discussed how Madeira is an ideal vacation or holiday location. The people are friendly, the scenery is beyond belief, there’s plenty of activities for those that prefer to constantly be on the go and, then there’s the weather, a temperate climate, never uncomfortably hot. 

Passengers were less interested in the scenery than possible marine life sightings.

If one is seeking a “baking in the sun” type of experience, such as can be derived from a trip to Mexico, Madeira may not be the best choice. At times, the cool temps may deter a visitor from sunbathing. 

Although the catamaran had only 54 passengers on board out of a possible 98, it still was crowded, making photo taking a challenge when everyone stood during the marine life sightings.

Another factor we’ve loved is how safe we’ve felt everywhere we go. We’ve yet to see any run-down areas or areas of high crimes. Of course, one can never be too careful, locking doors when leaving, keeping money and documents in secure places, and driving with the utmost of caution.

Oceanview vantage points are the location of many resorts and hotels.

As for the hills, they may not be for everyone or those prone to carsickness. Luckily, other than the first week of our arrival when I had a sinus infection, I’ve had no problem, even with Tom’s occasional jerky driving when he was first driving up the steep hills in the rental cars with manual transmissions.

Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a busy harbor with many barges, fishing and pleasure boats.

The sounds, as well as the sights in Madeira, have been a source of great pleasure; the goats next door baaing all day; the musical food trucks driving through the hills; the church bells and clock towers ringing; the roosters crowing and often the sounds of chatter and laughter wafting through the hills. We’ve loved it all. 

This could have been a condo or apartment complex or a hotel, designed to maximize the ocean views.

With 13 days remaining, we’re cherishing each moment, trying to avoid projecting too far into the future, making an effort to remain present at the moment as the time quickly withers away. 

As we approached the airport to swap rental cars, we drove under the runway. Madeira’s runway at the Funchal Airport has won awards for its design but, is still considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

Today, we share the final photos from Tuesday’s outing and look forward to sharing more stories and photos.

It’s an experience in itself, driving under this sophisticated artfully designed runway structure.

Have a glorious weekend. Stop back when you can.

Photo from one year ago today, July 18, 2013:

The vegetable truck arrived once a week in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy as it does here every Thursday morning around 10 am with fresh organic produce. We can count on the arrival time here in Madeira but it Boveglio, it played no music, arriving at inconsistent times. Thus, in Italy, we made purchased infrequently. Here in Campanario, we’ve purchased produce every Thursday morning since we arrived. For details of the story from that date, please click here.

More marine life photos from Tuesday’s boat outing…A year ago…a video of a wild ride in Tuscany…

Ah!  Now we’re talking! Safari luck! A Tropical Whale commonly seen in these waters, photo by Claudio, really got all the passengers “oohing” and “aahing.”

Today, we’re sharing more of our photos from our catamaran marine life tour. We’ll continue to identify which photos were taken by our kindly onboard photographer, Claudio Martin, and which we took. Tomorrow, we’ll share the final batch.

Two weeks from today we’ll be on our way to Paris. I know. Visiting Paris is far removed from the more laid back lifestyle we prefer in serene locals with the ocean, wildlife, and nature surrounding us.

Claudio got this excellent shot of this 16-ton Tropical Whale while I struggled as shown below.

I remember the day Tom asked how I’d feel about visiting Normandy, France to see the historical sites from World War II, one of his favorite topics. We were living in Kenya at the time sitting in our outdoor living room, batting off the bugs.

Another view of the Tropical Whale by Claudio.

He explained that our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, will be spending a day docked at the pier in Le Havre, France on September 1, 2014. 

A couple on the Cruise Critic website was looking for participants for a small tour group who had asked if we wanted to join them on a private tour of Normandy. Tom knows I’m not a World War II history enthusiast as he is and this could be a long day for me. 

Tom on the pier after the boat trip.

As soon as he mentioned it, I knew I’d say “yes.” How could I not? I could be the tag-along photographer, preoccupied with taking photos for an easy distraction.

Me, on the pier after the boat trip.

In order to give him a hard time, I paused before answering hoping to make him squirm a little, knowing how much this meant to him. Before I had a chance to answer, he blurted out, “How about this idea? We  spend one day in Normandy and then we’ll spend two weeks in Paris for you!”

Good thing I didn’t answer so quickly. I literally jumped out of my chair in excitement. “Really?” I retorted.

“Yes, really!” he replied.

Beautiful scenery we shot along the coast.

Immediately, we went to work planning on how we could end up in Paris from our previously arranged plans.  Luckily, we had a four week opening before our cruise from the UK on August 31, 2014. 

We decided after careful consideration and planning to spend two weeks in Paris and the next two weeks in London taking the Eurostar (tickets purchased already), formerly the Chunnel, under the English Channel from Paris to London.

My pilot whale photo.

I certainly lucked out on that deal. Having studied French for four years in high school learning about many of the points of interest, I’ve always longed to see Paris. Who hasn’t dreamed of romantic days and nights in Paris? Perhaps, not Tom Lyman. Paris, here we come.

My not-so-good shot of the Tropical Whale.

As much as Tom and I have in common our interests in the arts are diametrically opposed. Although we both love the theatre, having seen many productions together over the years. Art for him? Not so much.

Another one of my less than perfect tropical whale shots. It was hard to maneuver between the other passengers when this Whale appeared on the opposite side of where we were sitting.

However, history buff that he is, I have no doubt he’ll be fascinated in Paris. In any case, he’ll support my interest in every aspect of Paris and I have no doubt that we’ll both love it.

My spotted dolphin shot.

As for London, how could we not spend time in London when our ship sails from the port of Harwich, England (a two-hour drive from London for which we’ve already arranged transportation).

We shot this pirate ship as it cruised past us.  We’d seen this boat when we were here in April 2013.

Two weeks from today when our travel day is behind us, we can relax and begin to enjoy our time in Paris staying at the Eiffel Seine Hotel, rated 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor and Expedia, from which we’ll be able to see the Eiffel Tower and have easy access to many of the sights.  

These are pilot whales, as shown in Claudio’s photo.

Of course, we’ll spend each morning as we have since the beginning of our travels almost two years ago. We’ll write here, posting photos from the prior day’s exploration, sharing our experiences in detail that we hope all of our readers will find interesting.

Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2013:

Rather than post photos a year ago, we posted a video we’d found on Youtube of a motorcyclist driving the narrow winding road in our neighborhood in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. To see that video from that day, please click this link

For the story from that day, please click here.

Whale and dolphin sightings!…Interesting day at sea…More photos tomorrow…

Claudio Martins, the onboard professional photographer, was kind enough to send me some of his photos from our outing. Although I attempted to get good shots, standing on seats, hanging onto poles for balance in the choppy waters,  I couldn’t seem to land any decent shots, as did Claudio.

Yesterday, we headed to the marina in Funchal, the capital city of Madeira. Arriving in plenty of time, we picked up our tickets at the Madeira Seekers window and waited with the other participants at the pier to be directed to the location of the huge catamaran.

We were grateful that only 54 of the possible 98 passengers were on board. As it was, it was crowded making it difficult to take photos and see over the heads of the equally anxious tourists with cameras in hand. We were reminded of how much we prefer not to engage in crowded sightseeing activities.

More Spotted Dolphins as one leaps through the air. It was a cloudy day.

With the rocking of the boat in the choppy waters and the manner in which whales and dolphins make only seconds-long appearances, it was nearly impossible for me to get any good shots. 

With my bad shoulder, I was unable to hold the camera long enough to maintain the necessary waiting position for marine life to breach the water. But “safari luck” was on our side once again and we were able to see both whales and dolphins. More photos will follow tomorrow.

A pod (or school) of Spotted Dolphins.

I became quickly frustrated fearing we’d end the tour without a single photo to share here today. As we passengers were graciously introduced to the staff on the well run and safety-first operation, I’d paid special attention to the onboard professional photographer, Claudio Martin, as to how he was getting his photos.

Standing high above the passengers at the raised helm Claudio had a better advantage than I did standing on the interior deck. (We’d decided not to sit on the net of the catamaran since it would make it difficult t stand to take photos).

It was impossible for me to take this quality of photo with my camera, my lack of skill, and from my poor vantage point. Claudio, a professional photographer had no trouble capturing these.

After the first hour passed with several sightings, I asked Claudio if I could speak to him. Showing him our business card, I explained that we would be posting online and could he kindly help us out by sending some of his photos from the outing. He happily complied. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Not only was the operation well run and professional but, we’d be able to share what our eyes beheld in wonder albeit my camera failed to capture. Thank you, Claudio! We are grateful!

A Spotted Dolphin.  All of these wildlife photos shown today were taken by Claudio Martin while we were on the catamaran yesterday.

Having been on safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya last October, writing and sharing photos of our adventures over many days and living in Marloth Park, South Africa where the animals roamed free around our house where we lived for three months, our expectations of sightings were high.

However, we learned yesterday that being out to sea provides little opportunity for extended gawking and fawning over nature’s wonders. They breached the surface in seconds, not minutes. 

My photo of all of the fishing boats in the village of Camara de Lobos.

I’m sure, as we’ve seen from many videos, there are periods of time when whales and dolphins make several more lengthy appearances with lucky and skilled photographers at-the-ready to capture the moments.  Not so the case yesterday.

In any case, we had a good time, especially as the boat maneuvered along the shore of the island which we’d seen 14 months ago from our ship when it docked here for the better part of a day. But now, seeing the island from the ocean after living here for the past two months, gave us an entirely different perspective.

I took this photo when the captain explained that this spot, Cabo Girao, is the highest cliff elevation from sea level straight up to the top of the cliff which was 580 meters, 1775 feet. 

Had we not been able to see any whales or dolphins, we still would’ve enjoyed the ride and the views of the massive rocky cliffs of Madeira. 

After the tour ended, we walked back to the parking ramp in downtown Funchal, checking out the digital equipment store thinking maybe now would be a good time to buy a new camera. With VAT (value-added tax) at 22% plus other taxes,  an additional 48% in total would be added to the already high prices. We passed. We’ll have to figure out another plan.

When the sun peeked out for a few minutes, I was able to capture the bright blue water as we sailed past this huge cave along the shoreline.

After the mall, we drove to the airport to return the blue car, switch companies, and pick up yet another car for our remaining 15 days on the island. We paid as much for the remaining days as we’d paid for each of the prior two full months, rates have increased due to the summer season.

We were home in time for dinner as I anxiously awaited the photos from Claudio. Early this morning, much to my delight, the photos appeared in my inbox leaving me excited to share them here today.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more of Claudio’s photos marine life photos including whales we were lucky to see and a few more of my shots. Stop back, if you will!

Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2014:

We drove down the church across from our 300-year-old stone house to scope out the grounds when we spotted this old locked gate. For details from the date, please click here.

Boating today…Hoping to see wildlife at sea!…

Bananas are grown everywhere on the island, many farmed for resale while others for personal use.

This morning at 9 am, we’re taking off to go on a sightseeing tour out to sea on a giant catamaran through Madeira Seekers. We booked this tour a while ago with our only apprehension in finding the location of the pier where we’ll board the boat.

When I contacted the company asking for directions when none were available online, they sent this photo:

Usually, a photo doesn’t help find a location. But, in this case, we managed to figure out where we’re we’ll board the boat, a giant catamaran. It was this pier where the cruise ships are shown in this photo on which we met Gina on April 28, 2013, when our ship, the Norwegian Epic (big storm at sea), docked for the day. We recall how much we looked forward to finally staying here when Gina took us to see the house, at that time over a year later. Now, here we are, preparing to leave.  Here’s the link from the date when Gina met us at the pier.

The cost for the three-hour outing was US $40.87, EU $30 per person which we thought was reasonable. What to wear during this outing is challenging. Having lost our tan base when it’s been too cool outside for our former hour-a-day-tan session, we don’t want to get sunburned. Luckily, the boat has a canopy top. We didn’t bother to wear swimsuits when it has been so cool.

Some flowers are continuing to bloom through the summer season as is the case in this Alstroemeria.

We’re hoping to see wildlife, our primary motivation for this outing. With two cameras with us we’ll be set for any possible sightings. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be back with a few exciting photos.

Sunday, my worrywart husband, decided we should drive to the location of the pier and get our bearings. As far as I was concerned we could wing it. Once again, Tom was right as we did the “old people” thing, check it out in advance.

What are these red things growing on a tree in our yard?  We’ll keep an eye out to see how they mature.

Good thing we’d done the trial run or we may have missed the 10:30 am departure time. Parking near the marina is impossible requiring we park in a ramp in downtown Funchal and walk the 15 minutes to the pier.  Now, we can head out with peace of mind, feeling stress-free. 

As I’ve mentioned many times over these past few months, finding one’s way around Madeira is not for the faint of heart. Navigation doesn’t work and online maps are of little help when many streets aren’t clearly marked.

These berries are growing off of a palm type tree in our yard.

Off we go for our boat trip, after which we’ll head to the Funchal airport to swap out rental cars (and agencies) and then back home in time for leftovers, locally grown free-range whole roasted chicken, salad, and veggies.  He eats the white. I eat dark. A match made in heaven.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2013:
No photos were posted on this date a year ago. For the story we posted that day, as to how we’re all “creatures of habit,” please click here.

Upcoming changes in our lives for over 66 days…Hotels and ships…

Yesterday, we noticed this flower growing in our yard, as it breaks free of its pod.

Once again, we begin the process of winding down. The last flight we took from Marrakesh to Madeira after paying for overweight luggage, aloud I promised Tom that I’d ditch the second computer bag and lighten the weight of my luggage.

These colorful steps are located at the elementary school in Campanario.

Yesterday, I unloaded everything in my laptop bag tossing several unneeded items and placing the few essentials in his laptop bag. Luckily, his bag can hold both of our laptops which we’ve done all along. Now we’re free of one heavy carry on bag.

Weeks ago, I unloaded no less than 10 pounds, 4.5 kilograms, of clothing as I’d also promised that day. I’d said it aloud, more to myself than to him. He never asked me to do this nor expected it. His luggage weighs almost as much as mine. 

This house appears to be unfinished.  This has been a common case everywhere we’ve traveled.

Today, we’ll head to the supermarket for what I’d hoped to be our last trip, butTom reminded me that we’ll need more water and another visit to the ATM before leaving Madeira. With 17 days remaining until departure and the tiny fridge and freezer, we probably couldn’t have lasted that long.

Finally, we booked our flight from Boston to Vancouver for September 17th. We were pleasantly surprised when the one-way flight was only US $173 each, EU $127.22. 

A stairway to a cave.

All bookings required to make our way to Hawaii on October 5th are in order. Arriving by cruise ship we’ll stay in Waikiki for 11 nights and then head to Maui for another six weeks staying in a vacation home. We’ve yet to book several island-to-island flights in Hawaii, not necessary at this early date. 

Once we arrive in Honolulu and are settled in our vacation home we’ll book the next few flights. We’ve learned when we need to book early and when it doesn’t require a sense of urgency. Thank goodness for our spreadsheet (which is saved in several locations each time it’s updated), or it could be tricky keeping track of all of our comings and goings.

We didn’t see any reason to enter this cave.

Tomorrow, we have to return the blue rental car to the Funchal airport when Europcar’s lower prices weren’t available on any online site. We had to switch to Hertz for an equally good deal for our remaining 16 days. 

We’ve learned to book cars through discount sites for as much as 50% less than the going rate. But, they don’t allow a booking at those lower prices for more than 30 days. 

Two caves side by side.  Surely, kids in the area have enjoyed these over the years.

We have no choice but to continually rebook online for more time in order to get the discounted pricing. The annoying part of this plan is the necessity of returning to the rental car facility each time to sign new paperwork. Its time consuming but, well worth it when saving over US $1000, EU $735.35 during the 75 days we’ll have spent in Madeira.

Most travelers don’t experience this dilemma when on a vacation/holiday for one or two weeks. For us, the car rental issue is an ongoing challenge. At times, in certain locations, a driver is simply more convenient. We continue to play it by ear as we go.

These are the pods that have been growing in the yard that finally bloomed as shown in today’s first photo.

This morning as I put two more loads of laundry into the small front loading washer, I thought about how we won’t be living in a vacation home with access to a washer from July 31 to October 5, 2014. Here’s where we’ll spend the total 66 days that we’ll be on the move:

  • July 31 to August 16 – Paris hotel
  • August 16 to August 31 – London hotel
  • August 31 to September 14 – Cruise from London to Boston
  • September 14 – September 17 – Boston hotel
  • September 17 – September 23 – Vancouver Hotel
  • September 23 – October 5 – Cruise Vancouver to Honolulu

Usually, we do six to eight loads of laundry each week. Leaving out the usual towels and sheets, we’ll be paying high fees for our laundry during these almost seven weeks. Long ago aware of this reality, we budgeted for this expense.

Also, we won’t be cooking a meal for 66 days.Also, we’ll be dining out during the 11 nights in Honolulu when it won’t be worth purchasing the necessary cooking supplies over this short period. 

Yesterday, Gina explained that the number of cloudy days we’ve experienced lately is unusual. 

Those of our readers that had followed us through 75 days in Morocco know the angst we had over the never-ending spicy food. Within the first week, we couldn’t take another bite. At least going forward, we’ll have plenty of variety during the above venues, consisting of ships and restaurants. 

We’ve begun to adjust our thought process to the changes we’ll experience over the upcoming months, differences we’ve experienced for the short term but, never for this long. We’ve never moved this often in a short period of time.

One of our neighborhood goats taken from the highway. It’s hard to tell if it’s a female or male when both have horns and beards.

We continue on, full of hope for continuing good health and relative ease of safe travel. On the flip side, there’s always Paris!

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2013:

Not our photo posted on our story about insects in Tuscany.  For details of that day’s post, please click here.

An add-on to the itinerary…What could we possibly add to two years of bookings?…

“Got any treats?” he asks.  Sorry, we no longer carry pellets in our pockets. With little wildlife on the island we were excited to spot these geese hanging out at a wildlife area we stumbled upon while on a drive.

We both thought that we were done with booking cruises and vacation homes for awhile. We were both satisfied with the point that we could sit back content with our choices.

This unusual palm tree was worth a photo.

Alas, the wanderlust bug, rampant for the past month as we researched like crazy, hit us once again as both of us started rethinking the house in Bali, the Negara Villa. 

The geese seemed to enjoy hanging out by this tree.

With strict immigration laws allowing a maximum of 60 days in Indonesia at a time which we’ll apply for in advance when one receives a 30 days visa in the country at the airport, our short time at the gorgeous property was making us think we wished we’d had more time in Bali.

These two came running toward us as soon as we arrived. Although cautious, they were looking for food other than picking at the grass.

After considerable conversation and online research, we decided that if we left the country during the owner’s more expensive high season and returned when the low season began again, perhaps the kindly owner would provide us with the same excellent price.

Curious about us as we watched them, some moved close in.

This would mean that we had to find a place to park ourselves outside of Indonesia for 67 days to return to the house in Bali for another 59 days. This accomplishes three things, as shown below:

We had no idea as to the type of birds we saw in the wildlife area.

1.  We have the opportunity to return to the Bali house which we know we are certain that we’ll love.
2.  While still in the South Pacific we’ll have an opportunity to visit yet another nearby country.
3.  We’ll save money traveling when the round trip airfare from Bali to Malaysia, for example, is only US $331, EU $243.24 round trip per person. Plus living in Malaysia for 67 days will be very affordable.

This goose refused to stand still for a photo.

The tricky part, so we thought, was asking the owner if we could return for the same price we agreed upon for the first 59 days. As it turns out, last night we’d paid the second 10% deposit and have a new rental agreement in hand for September 1, 2016, to October 30, 2016. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

This goose is pigeon-toed.  Oops, wrong bird.

At some point, we’ll need to fill the above-mentioned gap in our itinerary from June 26, 2016, to September 1, 2016. Based on our research so far, Malaysia does in fact look like our best option. We’ve noted our calendar for this upcoming September, to make a proposal on a particular house we found. 

The local children must have decorated these tree trunks in Ribeira Brava.

Once we get that wrapped up or another, if that doesn’t work, we then can sit back and relax that our upcoming bookings are in order and we can breeze through the next year enjoying ourselves. A year from now, when we’ll be in Trinity Beach, Australia we’ll begin the process again.

Several tree trunks were decorated for a special occasion.

Tom and I both agree that we’d rather work for a year at a time, over a short period as opposed to always looking to add on one at a time. It frees up our time and our thoughts to relax and enjoy the moment.

Tom insisted I stand in front of this tree for a photo.  Always camera shy, I don’t enjoy posing for photos.

Plus, we lock in prices that could easily increase if we waited too long due to inflation. Also, waiting could result in a lack of availability. The rationale that one gets a better deal by waiting until the last minute is foolhardy.  There are no “deals” to be had on vacation homes or cruises that are already sold out.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2013:

Not our photo.  There were no photos posted on this date a year ago.  This photo is from the next day, the 14th, illustrating types of insects found in Tuscany during the summer. For details of our story and rental car issues, without photos. on July 13, 2013, please click here.

Coincidence!…Yesterday’s haircut for Tom in Ribeira Brava, Madeira, Portugal…One year ago to the date, haircut for Tom in Pescia, Italy!…

Tom waits in the salon chair for his haircut. 

Yesterday, we took off for two reasons;  one, Tom was curious to find a road we could see from our veranda, but couldn’t seem to get to; two, for him to get a haircut.

After driving up and down hills for over an hour, he finally found the road, he was seeking proving to be not unlike many of the other roads here in the island. The maze-like roads on the many mountain levels consist of one hairpin turn after another making it harder to find a specific road than one would think.

The second task of the day was a quick trip to the Farmacia (pharmacy) for another container of my new favorite roll-on insect repellent and contact lens solution for our upcoming travels. 

The stylist began the cut using the typical electric haircutter.

Purchasing these few items now would prevent us from thinking about finding a pharmacy in Paris or London or paying outrageous prices on the cruise from London on August 31, 2014. There aren’t mosquitoes or many sand flies on cruises, at least not any that we’ve seen but, at least I’m well-armed for the future.

Back to the haircut. Once we arrived in Ribeira Brava we found a free place to park on the street, taking off on foot to find obscure location of a salon that Tom had seen on google maps. We knew we were in the general area deciding we’d wander around until we found it.

Of course, it was tucked away inside a building in a tiny mall. Of course, we entered that tiny mall within the first two minutes of our walk and there was the salon. We laughed. We could easily have walked past that not-so-obvious doorway.

Surely, this style is easy care.

For years, I’ve known that Tom wanted a “buzz” cut. For years, I whined a little when he’d mention it, never having cared for that particular style.  No offense intended for all buzz cut fans out there.  We all have our preferences.

As soon as we walked into the tiny salon, I knew I could no longer resist. It was his hair and the time had come. Speaking no English, the stylist got the drift when he pointed to his head and said, “Buuuuuuuuzzzzzzz.” She understood. I cringed.

As she was buzzing away, she often looked at me for approval. I nodded that she was doing fine, regardless of the look on my face. As more and more clumps of his white hair fell to the floor, I sat back in resignation that this was his, and my, fate for the next six weeks until it grows back.

His locks accumulated on the salon floor.

Let’s face it, as we age, our parts start falling, the wrinkly skin seems to get worse each day and our level of attractiveness seems to waft away, present company included. But, the magic of love somehow makes us remember the true beauty of the person we fell in love with and none of this matters.

When we met 23 years ago, Tom was 38, I was 43. Neither of us had falling parts. We never gave gravity much of a thought. Now, all these years later, gravity is not our friend. Years ago, I told myself that plastic surgery and Botox were not for me and I stayed away. Can you imagine trying to find a place for a Botox touch-up while living in Belize, Kenya or Marloth Park, South Africa?

Even going to a salon is something I prefer not to do. I do my own hair, nails, and pedicures which I’ve done for years. Imagine how much I’d spend and the inconvenience of going to a salon once a month when we’ve had a hard enough time finding a place for Tom’s haircuts in various countries. 

He still has that cute smile.  He said his hair hasn’t been this short since the summer of 1963.

In many countries, no one speaks English and calling to make an appointment would be ridiculous. For Tom’s haircuts in various countries we always show up without an appointment prepared to wait if necessary.

So here’s his buzz cut. Not my cup of tea. As much as I try to like it, I simply can’t. I grasp for the fact that it will grow back and in no time, I’ll have my familiar grey mop-haired guy back. 

For the sake of love and kindness I don’t say much about it or scowl when I look at him. But, who am I kidding? He proofreads these daily posts for typos and I don’t believe he does so mindlessly with no attention to content.  Today, he will see how I feel, if he didn’t already suspect.

The haircut completed, he paid the EU $8 with a EU $2 tip for a total US $13.51 and we were on our way.

He knows that I love him no matter his haircut or visible signs of aging, as he does me, totally oblivious of my hanging parts often complimenting me when they’re most obvious. That’s love for ya!

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

Tom was having a much needed haircut in Pescia, Italy that we shared one year ago today. For details of that day, please click here.

Twenty more days and we’re off again…How quickly the time flies…

Our favorite photo from yesterday’s outing.  Look at the gorgeous fuzzy buds. 

After days and days of research and fine-tuning, rental terms and conditions of agreements with property owners in the South Pacific and,  booking several cruises, we’re happy to be back to the remainder of our time in Madeira.

The flower from above was part of this grouping. Certain flowers continue to bloom as the flower season winds down on the island.

With only 20 days until we depart for Paris, we begin to think of winding down our time in Madeira, Portugal. How many more trips will we need to make to the supermarket? Where can Tom get a haircut? What additional cuts can we do to reduce the weight of our luggage before we begin packing?

(A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I need to lighten my luggage weight. That day I dumped 10 pounds, 4.5 kg to be donated to a local charity. The number of items it took to get to this amount was an astounding 18).

It was another cloudy day as we walked along the boardwalk.

There’s no doubt, we’re always coming or going with seemingly little time in between. The days pass quickly. Is it due to our advancing age or is it a result of the pleasure we find in each day of our lives, as they say, “time flies when you’re having fun?”

Regardless of the reason, one day rolls into another and all of a sudden the time comes to leave yet another place we’ve so readily called “home.”

Even in the gentle hills of Madeira, a hamburger joint can often be found to satisfy the tastes of the tourist crowd.

Yesterday, we jumped into the car to leave Judite to clear the house with us out of the way and just started driving, as we often do. With no particular destination in mind, driving up, down, and around the hilly, winding roads, finds us in an unfamiliar area, so different and yet so much alike that which has become familiar over these past few months.

Few swimmers took advantage of the thatched umbrellas.

Would we ever return to Madeira? As much as we’ve loved it on this island, we still have so much world left to see. Tom counted only 26 countries we’ve visited in the past 21 months. We’ve barely touched the surface, literally and figuratively with over 200 countries in the world.

A crane was working along the shore while a bather was lounging on the rocky beach.

We’ve seen so little and yet so much when we peruse through the archives of previous posts. As mentioned in an earlier post, we’re not in a competition to see how many countries we’ll eventually visit. But, it is fun keeping track by logging where we’ve been on Travelerspoint.com, an online travel tracking map.

A few visitors relaxed on the beach.

As we drove up and down the mountains we continue to be enchanted by the beauty of the ocean, its massive cliffs, and the ever-changing sky above. One thing we know for sure is that the ocean will always be a draw for us as was enthusiastically illustrated in yesterday’s post of our long away visit to Bali in 2016.

This appears to be a yellow hibiscus, our first such find.

We share today’s photos with the same passion as when we first arrived. It’s a beautiful and enchanting place and we’ll especially always remember our time in Campanario, this quaint little village with friendly people, exquisite flowers and the finest organic produce on the planet.

Part of the joy of our travels is the quiet time, the peaceful surroundings amid a gentle life of few expectations, simple comforts, and the companionship of one another we so easily embrace. Life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, July 11, 2013:

We often drove to other villages in the mountains of Tuscany. Tom walking along the guard rail overlooking a village as we checked out the scenery. Our time is Boveglio, although pleasant was a little too quiet for us living so far from civilization. For details of that day, please click here.