Today’s our 5 year anniversary of traveling the world…Anniversary photos and memories….

Today, October 31, 2017, on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica.

It felt great to be back in Atenas to the lovely villa, especially today as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of traveling the world. With a blissfully sunny day upon us and most assuredly pool time after we’re done posting, it will be yet another day to celebrate life.

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort in October 2013 to celebrate our first anniversary of traveling the world, here’s the link. We didn’t take a photo of ourselves on our second anniversary. We’ll do better going forward. But here’s the link for the day of our second anniversary.
A special homemade dinner is planned for this evening with plenty of chatter over memories we’ve made during these past five years. Since we weren’t planning on going out today, we’ve added the above photo taken this morning from the veranda overlooking the Alajuela Valley. It took a few tries using the tripod and timer to get the photo right, but we finally got it done.
As for our weekend to Managua, Nicaragua, we were reminded that there’s so much commotion associated with short trips. Whether it’s taxi rides to and from airports,  waiting in long lines to check-in (no curbside in most countries), waiting to check in with immigration, filling out entry and exit forms, or standing in the slow queue on the plane to get to our seats to store our carry on,  it all is time-consuming.
We celebrated our third anniversary in Fiji at Namale Resort & Spa with a tour and lunch at the world-renowned resort. See this link for details.

For these reasons and more, long ago, we decided to enhance our experiences by staying for more extended periods in most countries when our schedule allows it.  Had we been the types of travelers to be on the move constantly, we’d never have lasted five years.

So,  today on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, we celebrate our early decisions along with the criteria we established (Please click here for our criteria, Part 1 and Part 2 here) well before we had the experience to know what we were doing.
This photo was taken on October 31, 2016, when it was October 30th in the US when we were about to board Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea for the back-to-back 33-night cruise. See this link for details.
We celebrate the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the commitment and passion we’ve easily maintained for wildlife and nature.  We’ve appreciated the sights and sounds of the big cities we’ve visited along the way.  But, our hearts remain entrenched in the country, in the valley, in the mountains, on the rugged savannahs, and of course, by the sea.

These choices have kept us closer to that which we love…the gifts bestowed upon us humans by our creator, not as much as those created by humans. No doubt, we applaud the skill and expertise of our forebearers in creating magnificent structures, art, and historical treasures.

In 28 days, we’ll do a full transit of the Panama Canal, an impressive feat of human labor and ingenuity. How can we not appreciate this, even though it was our second transit in these past five years on our first cruise in January 2013?  We’re sure we’ll be as in awe this second time as we were the first, now that the new larger canal has been completed.
We made our way through the long walk to Petra to finally see the Treasury, which was a life-changing experience.

Throughout the world, we’ve reveled in historic buildings, churches, and museums.  But, for those of you who have followed along with us all these years, nothing in our hearts and minds can compare to nature and wildlife.

The heart-pounding thrill of witnessing a rhino in the wild with oxpeckers on his head pecking at insects or, as of late, a single bird in flight alighting in a nearby tree to sing a song like none other we’ve heard in the past is magical to us.

Oxpeckers on the head of a rhino in the Masai Mara Kenya.  This shot made us squeal with delight.
And yes, I cried big tears of pure joy when we arrived at the Treasury in Petra Jordan but even bigger tears when we spotted our first lion drinking water in the Masai Mara (as shown in the photo below) or our first visit when we arrived in Marloth Park.

We’ve had our ups and downs; illness, injury, visa issues, booking errors, power outages, and dangerous drives on scary roads. We’ve lived close to terroristic attacks, experienced earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms like none other in our past lives.Through it all, we continued to strive to maintain an upbeat attitude while growing our abilities to adapt and conform to life on the move, living in countries with beliefs and morays so different from our own, making every effort to blend in and never appear to be the “ugly American.”
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot? We both felt as if we were dreaming! We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari.
It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always been exciting and adventuresome. But, each day in its way has been special when we stopped what we’re doing at the moment, look into each other’s eyes and say, “Is this really our lives?  How did we get so lucky?

We continue to be grateful and humbled by the world around us, by the opportunity presented to us due to years of hard work to make this possible, for experiencing this adventure together, and ultimately, sharing it with all of YOU.
Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2016:
View of the Sydney Opera House as the ship sailed away. For more details, please click here.

Dining in Nicaragua…Returning to Costa Rica this morning…Final expenses for the weekend in Managua…

Tom slathered this entire warm Italian loaf with garlic butter, savoring every last bite. 

When we decided to fly to Managua instead of the long drive through the rain-soaked countryside, we planned to stay only two nights. Having our passports stamped in another country, allowing us to re-enter Costa Rica for our additional 23 nights, with the low cost of airfare and unused credit toward “free hotel nights,” made sense to fly in and out.

The round trip airfare with Avianca for both of us was US $308.12, and we paid only a little over US $199  (CRC 113,285) for both nights using our accumulated credits with on our site. The usual rate for this hotel is US $200 (CRC 113,854) a night. Thus, we saved about US $200 (CRC 113,854).

We were served two of these meat-filled pockets as a complimentary item for our dinner. In a puff pastry, Tom ate both of them.

It was still a somewhat pricey weekend but a lot less than we’d have spent staying in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the remaining 23 nights or paying for an actual visa extension which is costly and time-consuming.

Here are the total expenses for the two nights including all costs:

 Expense   US Dollar   Costa Rica Colones 
 Hotel – 2 nights    $                     199.84
 Flight – Round trip   $                     308.12
 Taxi  $                        50.00
 Dining in Restaurants   $                     105.00
 Miscellaneous   $                        22.00
 Tips   $                        25.00
 Total   $                     709.96
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     354.88

As much as we’d prefer cost not to be a factor in our travels, it’s a reality we must diligently monitor. For us, this is easy to do. Without transportation over the weekend and the high costs of tours, we were left to our own devices for photo ops and entertainment.

The meat filling inside the beef pocket.

As mentioned in many prior posts, the recent outlay of cash for several upcoming events sent us into a state of diligent and frugal spending. We’re watching every last penny. 

Once we arrive and get settled in South Africa, we’ll be able to begin to replenish the coffers. While there, we’ll be able to save for the big adventures we’re planning while living on the African continent. 

Tom’s rib eye steak was done to perfection, tender and delicious.

No tours in Costa Rica or Nicaragua could quite match our objectives at this time. No offense to either country both of which are rife with gorgeous scenery and wildlife. Its no wonder we’re wrapped up in the birds visiting the villa. There’s no extra cost to take photos of the fascinating creatures.

In 55 days,  we’ll be spending a month in Buenos Aires Argentina living in a hotel and dining out for dinner each night (breakfast is included at the hotel we’ve already booked). There again, budgetary concerns prevail. 

I should have taken the photo after I cut into this ultra-rare tenderloin. It was the most rare steak I’d ever eaten.

Fortunately, we’ll be in a good neighborhood in Buenos Aires with access to public transportation which should allow us to get out on our own without paying for pricey tours. We’ve spotted many venues appealing to our tastes.

Speaking of tastes…Saturday night’s dinner at the hotel’s highly rated restaurant Factory Steak and Lobster was good but not great. The language barrier made ordering my special items cumbersome. Luckily, I’ve learned enough Spanish to be able to get the basics handled.

My grilled vegetables included aubergine (eggplant) zucchini and tomato.

My best option was to order the tenderloin with a salad (sour cream on the side) and a small side dish of grilled vegetables.  I always order steak rare but in this case, it was too rare. Gordon Ramsey would have yelled, “My God, it’s still moving!” Trying to explain how much more to cook it, was seeming to be impossible.

As a result, I probably ate 60% of it.  It was tender and tasty but not quite right. There was no point in taking a “doggy bag.” Not only was there no doggy but with the complimentary buffet breakfast the following day, it made no sense. I don’t snack during the day. Still full in the morning, I had a smallish breakfast of veggies, cheese and smoked salmon.

Saturday night, Tom ordered a rib-eye which was cooked properly and was tender and juicy with a good flavor. He ate an entire loaf of bread as shown in the photo. He hadn’t had a bite of bread in many months. I kept my mouth shut as he enjoyed the bread along with his mashed potatoes and gravy.

On Saturday night, after dinner we wandered through the pool area.

We’d hoped to get out to another restaurant last night after walking around the neighborhood and checking menus there we no options for me.  With rave reviews on the food at The Market Restaurant in the hotel and the need to get up at 5:00 am today, we decided to stay in for what proved to be a pleasant meal suitable for my way of eating. 

After dinner we lounged in our room watching a TV show we haven’t had available since 2015 when we lived on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji…Nat Geo Wild. Astounding! Watching those series leaves us reeling with excitement over “where we’ve been and what we’ve seen” and, “what is yet to come.”

Dessert options after dinner.  We didn’t partake.  But “food voyeur” that I am, it was fun just looking at them.

Today, as you read this post, most likely we’ll already be back in Costa Rica. Our plane lands at 10:00 am and with the taxi ride, we should be back at the villa between 11:00 and 11:30 providing there are no flight delays as we experienced when we arrived in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with more photos from our short weekend away, excited to share our enthusiasm on the actual date of our five-year anniversary of traveling the world. We’ll be posting past celebratory events as we observed each passing year. Please stop by and celebrate with us!

 Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2016:
Seeing that the ship had arrived at the port in Sydney was always exciting for us. One year ago today it was October 30th in the USA and our 4th travel anniversary. However it was October 31st in Australia due to the International Dateline. This was our 15th and 16th cruises, back-to-back, considered to be two separate cruises. For more photos please click here.

Managua Nicaragua…New to us and yet familiar in many ways….

Fruit for sale atop this woman’s head.

The Avianca (LACSA) flight, with a late take-off, on a 68 passenger prop plane from San Jose Costa Rica to Managua, Nicaragua, was relatively pleasant and uneventful. During the short flight. They even served sandwiches Tom ate mine as well as his own. 

There was one short flight of steps to enter the 68 passenger propr plane.

Having left the villa at 8:00 am for a one-hour flight, we didn’t arrive at the hotel in Managua until almost 3:00 pm. The long taxi rides on either end, the waiting time at the airport, the bus ride from the terminal to the plane all added to the delays and the wait to board the aircraft up the narrow, steep steps, contributing to the added time.

The plane appeared to be reasonably new, with a different propeller style than we’d previously seen.

Once arriving at the hotel, Real Inter-Continental Managua at Metrocentre Mall, with a slow check-in process, we entered our room at 3:45. I unpacked our duffel bag while Tom dozed for a few minutes. At 4:30, we wandered about the hotel checking out the various restaurants, two of which are highly rated on TripAdvisor.

Upon entering the Managua Airport, we noticed a nurse taking entering passenger’s temperature with this device.  Many were asked to stop for the test, but we weren’t.

It was already getting dark and too late to embark on a sightseeing trip. We showered and dressed for dinner. By 7:00 pm, we wandered down to the main restaurant for dinner, The Factory Steak and Lobster.

Roasted chickens for sale.

Tom had decided not to order a cocktail, and of course, I’m alcohol-free, most likely permanently due to this outrageous gastrointestinal thing. It was after the 33-night cruise when I’d consumed two glasses of wine at “free happy hour” that the symptoms exacerbated, making me terrified of drinking any alcohol anytime shortly. 

I miss the red wine and always will. Giving that up is more complicated than giving up bread or pastries. I liked that slight warming buzz from the wine, but I was never one to get up and dance on the tables, although at times, I may have contemplated it when a great disco song was playing in the background. Oh, well. 

More roasted chickens for sale along the road.

Life is filled with sacrifices and challenges. Unfortunately, mine seem to center around food and drink, both of which I’ve always found rather pleasurable. Over these past years of avoiding food and drink, it seems my other senses have become more highly tuned and appreciative of my surroundings.

La Perfecta milk processing plant.

This was particularly evident on the long taxi drive from the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua to the hotel. My eyes darted back and forth across the busy streets filled with traffic noise, people, vendors, shops, and barnyard animals. 

Many vendors approach vehicles offering their wares for sale. This guy was selling portable seats.

It reminded me of the day we arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, on September 3, 2013 (here’s the link to that day and our photos), when we both were in awe of the sights, smells, and sounds as we drove through the village. I felt the rush of endorphins pumping through my body with sheer excitement over the cultural scenes that lie before our eyes. 

Buses are packed with locals and ex-pats.

Yesterday, we felt similar sensations when we found the streets of Managua aren’t entirely different from those we witnessed in Kenya so long ago. (Oh, the joy of being able to quickly search our archives to find a past post reminding us of profound past experiences. Wow!) this has added so much fun to our lives, especially knowing we’ve been able to share it with all of you.

A huge bull on his way to…

Now, as we sit in the hotel lobby preparing today’s post, the decent complimentary breakfast behind us, we’re sharing some of the photos we took on our short journey. In 24 hours, we’ll be back in Costa Rica when our flight arrives around 10:00 am, the only flight available that worked for us.

We aren’t left with much time for touring but plan to take off soon to check out the area and take more photos which we’ll continue to share over the next several days.

Trash on the sidewalk.

These two days will have gone by in the blink of an eye. But, as always, we’re reveling in each other’s companionship and our new surroundings. Funnily, I’m looking forward to returning to the villa. Upon entering, most likely, we’ll look at each other and say, “Gee, honey, it’s good to be “home.”

We hope you have a good day at home, wherever that may be.

Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2016:

One year ago, we were sentimental about leaving Bali. We’re grateful for the beautiful experience.  For the story of our final day in Bali, please click here.

Off we go…Managua Nicaragua, here we come!

The hotel’s exterior photo is the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we’ll stay for two nights, arriving today and departing on Monday.

We’ve arrived at Costa Rica’s San Jose Santamaria International Airport (SJO). We have our boarding passes in hand with a relatively easy transition through immigration and security. With no bags to check, the check-in process is simple. 

In most countries, checking in online 24 hours in advance and printing a boarding pass is pointless. We gave up doing so long ago. Since we usually have bags to check, we receive boarding passes simultaneously as we studied the bags after only presenting our passports. No one ever asks us for printed proof of our tickets.

We’ve located our gate at the end of the long terminal. At the moment, we’re seated in a cafe a short distance from the entrance.  Tom didn’t order anything, and I’m sipping on a Chamomile tea.

The airport in Costa Rica is quite lovely, with good signage in both Spanish and English. The transition was smooth. By the way, the taxi fare from the villa was US $32 (CRC 18,217) with a tip. The taxi driver avoided the toll road, and we arrived 35 minutes later.

In our old lives, the only time we knew much about Managua, Nicaragua was the frequent mention of the city repeatedly in the news in 1986 regarding the Iran Contra affair. We won’t get into that here, but here’s a tidbit of information about the capital city:

“Managua, on the south shore of Lake Managua, is the capital city of Nicaragua. Its cathedral, a shell since a 1972 earthquake, is on the Plaza of the Revolution. Nearby is the tomb of Sandinista leader Carlos Fonseca. The 1935 National Palace of Culture houses the National Museum. Hilltop Parque Histórico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa is known for its crater lake and a huge statue of revolutionary Augusto Sandino.

Area210 mi²
Weather79°F (26°C), Wind SE at 5 mph (8 km/h), 84% Humidity
Local timeFriday 9:36 AM
Population2.206 million (2015)

We’re looking forward to the hotel we selected Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, one of the best in the city, which may be found at this link at on our site. Then, of course, we’ll take photos of the hotel, restaurants, meals, and the places we visit while in Nicaragua. 

Most likely tonight, we’ll celebrate our anniversary at the hotel’s highly rated five-star restaurant, Factory Steak, and Lobster.  Although a bit pricey, it’s for a special occasion well deserving a memorable evening. 

Besides, dining in the hotel’s famous restaurant might ensure an avoidance of foods I can’t typically eat found in Central American restaurants, delicious, I’m sure, but made with grains, sugar, and starchy ingredients. 

I won’t have any trouble ordering a juicy steak (rare, please) and a lobster tail with gobs of butter, a vegetable, and a salad. We’re both looking forward to the meal. I tried making a dinner reservation from Costa Rica to no avail, but we’ll take care of it right away once we arrive.

You can be assured we’ll be returning with many new photos and descriptions of our mini-vacation in Managua, Nicaragua (with the intent of getting our passports stamped, allowing us to stay in Costa Rica for the remaining three-plus weeks and to celebrate our 5th world travel anniversary).

Have a lovely weekend. We’ll be back soon!

Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2016:

At the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Airport, the hotel chef in Denpasar Bali made a special spicy sauce to go with my chicken skewers. It was delicious! For more photos, please click here.

Preparing for the weekend…More complicated than usual…

A house was built on the mountainous road.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stop by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree and to sing.  Other birds are flying in the background.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent more time contemplating what to bring for the two nights in Nicaragua than I spend while packing to leave a location. In those cases, of which there are many, it’s relatively easy to pack.  We simply include everything we own, and voila!…we’re packed.

In this case, I’ve had to pick and choose clothes for the daytime and evenings. In this case, I know I’m packing way more than I’ll need attempting to make it fit into my half of the black duffel bag. With only the duffel bag and the computer backpack, we won’t require checked baggage. The flight is about one hour, and hopefully, check-in will be easy. 

Typical road in Costa Rica without a shoulder.

At this point, we’re glad we didn’t plan to get our passports stamped by driving back and forth to Panama or Nicaragua.  Many roads are blocked due to landslides as it continues to rain in buckets almost every day. That type of road trip would not have been easy or enjoyable.

Although it’s more costly to travel outside the country with the cost of the round-trip flight, hotel, and meals, the ease and convenience are often highly instrumental in our decision making. That’s not to say going to the airport is convenient, but in this case, with the bad weather, it may have been the best course of action.

More topiary in Zarcera.

As of this morning, I’m totally packed and ready to go. With Isabel here cleaning today, I wanted to get it done and out of the way. Tom has yet to pack and will do so after she cleans the bedroom.

Last night, during a major storm we had a power surge while watching a show in the screening room. A sudden pop and flash startled us as the lights, and the TV went off in that room only. 

Cloudy day view from the hills.

Luckily, we were using surge protectors for our laptops, and they’re fine. We moved to the living room to finish the show we’d been watching on Netflix and notified Aad and Marian this morning as to the electrical issue. Julio should be here within a few hours to make the repairs.  

The attention to detail and quality service we’ve received while living in La Perla de Atenas has been exceptional. We need only mention an issue, big or small, and in no time at all, it’s resolved.

One could easily assume that the laid-back lifestyle in Costa Rica might result in days of waiting for power outages to resolve or repairs to be made. But that hasn’t been our experience in Costa Rica. In the three outages occurring since our arrival, the longest wait was 10 hours, with the others resolved within six hours.

Rapids flowing after all the rain.

As we wind down the time in Costa Rica, we realize how quickly it will go once we return from Nicaragua. We’ll celebrate our fifth year of traveling the world anniversary on October 31st and then, 22 days later we’ll on our way to Florida for the lengthy cruise.  

Today, it’s cloudy and cool after last night’s monstrous storm.  We have great leftovers for dinner which we’d planned in order to avoid a busy cooking day while Isabel is here cleaning for almost eight hours. These past three months, we’ve made a point of having leftovers on the days she’s here allowing us to stay out of her way.

Have an excellent day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2016:

We’d left the villa in Sumbersari six days earlier than planned due to the poor Wi-Fi signal preventing us from posting. We then spent six nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Airport and yet, never used this pool.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Contemplating our lives in the water…On the water…How many nights have we been at sea?

Great Green Macaw.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Thanks, Atenas neighbor Charlie for identifying these birds as the Gray-headed Chachalaca. They visit flocks every few days but are difficult to photograph when they’re constantly on the move and hidden in trees.

In yesterday’s post, we discussed the number of cruises we’ve sailed over these past five years, a total of 19. With the upcoming back-to-back (two cruises) by the end of 2017, we’ll total 21 cruises. 

In all, not counting future cruises, we’ve been a passenger on a ship for a total of 244 nights which accounts for 13% of our time from October 31, 2012, to October 31, 2017 (1826 nights from start to our fifth anniversary of world travel). 

A pair of Harlequin Macaws.

On Tom’s Cruise Critic website listing 18 cruises are listed since the site doesn’t include river cruises, of which we’ve completed one, in July 2016, on the Mekong River. 

Many of those nights counted as “time at sea” weren’t all “at sea” when us 58 passengers  (of a possible 60) were on buses and tours in Vietnam and Cambodia. Many river cruises spend fewer nights on the water when docking at ports of call may transpire over several nights.  Nonetheless, we count the Mekong River cruise in our totals.

Our dear friend Louise in Kauai Hawaii wrote to tell us this is a Fiery-billed Aracari. What a fantastic bird! Thanks, Louise!

When we sail on Ponant’s Le Soleil in January for the Antarctica cruise, it also won’t appear in Cruise Critic’s count of the number of cruises we’ve been on. The system used to list cruises in Cruise Critic only accommodates the major cruise lines.

For more details on the exceptional cruise, please click our link here and the following links listed in our archives when we posted photos and stories over weeks with further information of the 15-night “cruise” from start to finish.

An Owl on the lookout.

The remainder of our cruises were on huge ships with a few different cruise lines to include:  Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity. After these experiences, we’ve settled on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity as our favorites, with RC having a bit of an edge with perks provided to its Crown and Anchor members, of which we are classified as “Diamond.”

On Celebrity, we’re Elite Captain’s Club members. These designations are predicated on the number of nights at sea and specifications as to cabin selections, not the number of actual cruises.  More on this topic when we’re on our next cruise, and we discover any changes in perks since our last Celebrity cruise to Alaska in May 2017.

A pair of Green Parrots.

At this point, although we’re enjoying every day in Costa Rica, we’re chomping at the bit to board the upcoming 30-night South America cruise on Celebrity Infinity which begins  28 days from today. 

A Harlequin Macaw.

We’ve never sailed on this particular ship with a passenger load of 2170 with a crew of 999, a perfect size for easy socializing, attending various events and venues, and providing the best service.

If you’d like to view information about our “listed on Cruise Critic” 18 cruises in the past five years, please click here. Here is an example of what you’ll see when you click on the link:

Past Cruises
May 17th, 2017
Celebrity Solstice – Celebrity Cruises
Alaska – All
Celebrity Solstice
Ports of Call: Vancouver, British Columbia;  Ketchikan, Alaska;  Juneau, Alaska;  Skagway, Alaska;  Hubbard Glacier, Alaska;  Sitka, Alaska;  Victoria, British Columbia;  Seattle, Washington;
April 22nd, 2017
Explorer of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International
Explorer of the Seas
Ports of Call: Sydney, Australia;  Isle of Pines, New Caledonia;  Noumea, New Caledonia;  Mystery Island, Vanuatu;  Suva, Vita Levu;  Kailua Kona, Hawaii;  Lahaina, Hawaii;  Honolulu, Hawaii;  Seattle, Washington;
March 1st, 2017
Celebrity Solstice – Celebrity Cruises
South Pacific – All
Celebrity Solstice
Ports of Call: Sydney, Australia;  Noumea, New Caledonia;  Lifou, New Caledonia;  Mystery Island, Vanuatu;  Suva, Vita Levu;  Lautoka, Fiji;

At this link, you’ll also be able to see details of all of our past and future cruises (except the upcoming Ponant). Hopefully, this information will provide a little insight to those who have yet to cruise and maybe consider the possibility of those who have sailed and enjoy seeing what others have done.

We’ve found that reading about the experiences of others at Cruise Critic has been helpful for us in many ways, including the get-togethers suggested by members for upcoming cruises where we’ve had an opportunity to meet other passengers we’ve seen posted at the site online.

Scarlet Macaw.

Tom is the Cruise Critic enthusiast. I’m but a lurker occasionally stopping by out of curiosity to read passenger’s comments on past and future cruises. 

That’s it for today, folks. In a mere two days, we’ll be on our way to Nicaragua, returning on October 30th with lots of new photos to share with all of you.

Have a lovely day! 

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2016:

Pretty statue near the hotel pool at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denpasar near the airport where we stayed before leaving Bali. For more details, please click here.

Part 1…Contemplating our lives in the water…On the water…

Old sewing machines, comparable to those we’ve seen in our home country.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Sunny morning view of only a tiny portion of the exquisite grounds of this exceptional property, La Perla de Atenas.

Today’s photos complete the series we’ve shared over many days, which we’d taken weeks ago at Atenas Railway Museum. Costa Rica is located in the town the Río Grande of Atenas.

A bulk oil dispenser and a variety of other equipment.

Based on Tom’s over 42 years working on the BNSF railroad in Minneapolis, we’d decided to share these photos with those of our readers who worked with him, worked on other railroads, and other railroad enthusiasts.

More different types of jacks, a scale and odds, and ends.

Also, many of our readers have written over the years stating they enjoy museum photos. We apologize for this seeming repetitious presentation for those of our readers who don’t care to see photos from museums in other countries. After a while, all the new photos we’ve posted (no repeats) may appear to be “more of the same.”

Now, we’ll move on to another topic on our minds over the past several days as we quickly approach the time for our next cruise (a 30-night back-to-back)beginning on Thanksgiving Day (US holiday) on November 23, 2017.

A hydraulic railroad switch/stand.

Each sunny day while here in Atenas, we’ve spent about two hours in the swimming pool, swimming a bit and performing our own versions of simple water exercises. It’s relaxing, refreshing, and great fun. What makes this period most enjoyable is our non-stop conversations.

Various types of rails (frogs).

No topic is off-limits, and it’s during the times we’ve spent in various pools throughout the world we’ve had an opportunity to share the most intimate details of our lives, our dreams, our hopes, our successes, and our failures.

Neither of us has ever shared so many details with another human being. Funnily, it’s become somewhat of a “hobby” or pastime, making pool-time all the more meaningful. 

Staff handbrake for boxcar or locomotive.

We may often tell a sad memory from our childhood or an exciting adventure we experienced as adults. We laugh and say that as we age, we’ll never run out of stories to tell when our memories begin to fail. At that point, neither of us will remember which stories we’ve already described, and we’ll let them know once again with the same sense of delight. 

Close to the center of this photo is a drawbar and knuckle coupler used to connect two boxcars or boxcar and locomotive.

Not unlike the stories we post each day, pool-time discussions seem to follow a “theme for the day,” which we generally follow while splashing about. It’s when our fingers and toes become wrinkled and waterlogged or, when the rain begins to fall, we finally get out of the pool.

Different types of tongs are used to pick up rails and, below, heads for pickaxes.

Yesterday’s discussion centered around how many cruises we’ve been on since the onset of our travels on October 31, 2012. As we approach the fifth anniversary, we find ourselves reliving many of the life-changing experiences we’ve had during this blissful period.

As cruise time approaches, we began counting the number of cruises over the past five years, which we’ve done in the past but hadn’t done so recently. In all, including the Mekong River Cruise, we have been on 19 cruises, averaging almost four per year. 

An old student desk.

This number includes back-to-back cruises, which means (for those who haven’t cruised) two cruises booked together, one after another. Each cruise has its fare, perks and can include the same cabin if secured properly. 

In the three instances we’ve booked back-to-back cruises, we’ve made a point of ensuring we’ve been able to keep the same cabin, avoiding the inconvenience of moving our belongings. 

Old adding machines and typewriters.  Gee…we’ve come a long way.

The cruise line requires back-to-back passengers to get off the ship when one cruise ends and the second begins. In each case, we’ve been OK getting off the boat when it’s been convenient to take care of things we need to do or purchases we may need to make. However, we’re aren’t required to go through the lengthy, time-consuming check-in process, only security when we return to the ship. 

Tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll review our past cruises with information taken directly from Tom’s Cruise Critic listing, which is easy to read and we hope our readers find interesting.

Soon, we’re off to the Supermercado Coopeatenas for groceries. We’d hope to wander through the town, but heavy rain is expected and has just begun to fall. It appears we won’t have pool-time today after all. 

Enjoy your day, rain or shine!

Photo from one year ago today. October 25, 2016:

During our last meal in Sumbersari Bali, this fish soup was served at our table. It looked delicious but contained a small amount of flour for thickening, so I avoided it.  For more photos, please click here.

Caring for one’s health while traveling the world…More historical railroad photos..

An old Telegraph machine.

“Sighting from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Yesterday morning Tom spotted this massive insect in the pool.
He scooped it out of the water with the pool net placing it next to his foot for a frame of reference. If it revived, we would have put it back into the garden, but, alas, it did not recover.

As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, we’ll continue to share photos we’d had yet to post over our remaining days in Costa Rica. With only 29 days until we depart for Florida and two nights upcoming in Nicaragua this weekend, we’ll have plenty of photos to get us through until our final departure.

We apologize if some of the photos we’ll be posting during our remaining time in Costa Rica are similar to others. In each case, they are “new” versions of scenes that may be familiar. We do the best we can with photos keeping a specific filing system that prevents repeats day by day. Of course, “favorite photos” posted during our last few days at any location are always repeats.

An antique printer.

With only four days until we depart for Nicaragua, I’ve begun gathering a few items we’ll bring on the weekend trip.  We won’t be checking any bags for this short trip, only carry on; the computer backpack and one wheeling duffel bag. 

Traveling so light will seem weird when we always carry “literally everything we own” with us from country to country. As much as we’d like to be those people who can travel with only backpacks, that’s not us. Typically, those travelers aren’t traveling non-stop for five years (so far).

Juan Ramon wanted us to watch a video on an old computer of the festival on the last day the trains would arrive and depart Atenas.

As the month winds down, we’ve begun thinking about upcoming tasks once we return from the weekend trip to Nicaragua. Next week, on November 2nd, we have the physical exams required by the Antarctica cruise line to be certified by the physician that our health is sufficient enough to embark on such a cruise in such an isolated location, impossible-to-reach by medical evacuation.

Toy trains on display at the museum.

As always, I’m hesitant about going to a doctor. If it weren’t for the necessity of doing so, I’d continue in this lengthy recovery period of this gastrointestinal thing. It’s not gone, and, I’ve concluded, this may be a chronic reality of my long-term health.  

Miscellaneous railroad equipment.

I’d already seen three doctors in Australia for this condition and am now convinced I’m like many seniors worldwide with a stomach problem that requires mindfulness about what, when, and how much is eaten and drank.

Some fuel gauge.

The biggest problem is the bloating in the morning which if I don’t drink anything but plain water, improves throughout the day. I’m fine after eating a normal-sized dinner. It’s rarely painful, especially now that I’m still taking the PPIs. 

More odds and ends.

I continue to eat lots of vegetables, healthy sources of protein, small amounts of full-fat dairy, eggs, and herbal teas. I’ve tried eliminating many foods, but nothing changes. It’s the way it is. I must learn to live with it and stop waiting to wake up one day to find it totally resolved. It’s not going to happen.

A variety of jacks were used on the railroad.

Thus, like many of you, I’m re-framing my thinking to accept this reality and maintain the positive outlook that has been my “m.o.” all these years. By no means has this condition prevented Tom and me from having a wonderful time every day? We all have aspects of our lives we must learn to accept.

Insulators for telegraph of electric wires.

Based on the fact I have no pain, am completely and fully mobile and able to do everything I’d been able to do prior to this condition, I can’t complain. As always, we’re both so grateful for the quality of our lives and the blissful experiences we encounter every day.

May you find many aspects in your life giving you a sense of gratefulness.

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2016:

On our last full day in Bali, owners of the villa Francoise and Egon took us out to dinner at a restaurant on the beach. It was finally time to leave Bali after a total of four months (in two separate two-month stints). For more photos, please click here

Coincidental dates…Last night’s weird event on the veranda…Small things…

Last night’s video illustrates how bats are consuming all the
sugar water in the hummingbird feeder at night.

“Sightings on the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This style of feeder attracts more hummingbirds than the new style we purchased.
This morning Tom mentioned coincidental facts about our upcoming travels that made me laugh.  Here they are about today’s date of October 23, 2017:
  • One month from today, on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017, we’ll board Celebrity Infinity in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a 30-night cruise.
  • Two months from today, on December 23, 2017, on Tom’s 65th birthday, we disembark the ship in Buenos Aires Argentina.
  • Three months from today, on January 23, 2018, we fly from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board Ponant Le Soleil for the expedition cruise to Antarctica for 17 days.

This is odd, isn’t it? We certainly didn’t plan for these dates to coincide on the 23rd of any given month. It’s purely a coincidence.

Now, on to our “small things story” occurring last night on the veranda but having begun several weeks ago.

When we rented this lovely property beginning on August 1, 2017, we noticed a hummingbird feeder hanging from a hook on the veranda after settling in for a few days. Of course, with no syrup contained therein, no hummingbirds stop by for a sip.

After a week or so of noticing this, we decided to give it a try. In our old lives, we had the typical red hummingbird feeder filling it from time to time with homemade syrup (1 cup white sugar to 4 cups plain water, cooked or well mixed to dissolve the sugar) during the short summer months in Minnesota.

As the sun went down, the hummingbirds continued to feed on the sugary syrup.  After dark, it was an entirely different story.

We rarely saw any hummingbirds sipping the sugary syrup and didn’t give the feeder much of a thought. Living on a lake in Minnesota, we busied ourselves observing many other types of wildlife:  bald eagles, wild turkeys, beavers, geese, loons, coyotes, owls, foxes, and many other types of birds and wildlife. 

At the time, we weren’t interested in taking the time for photos.  Our lives were full, leaving us constantly busy keeping up with daily life; work, home upkeep, family, and friends. We didn’t have time to wait for wildlife to appear magically. When there was a sighting, it was merely the result of being in the right place at the right time. 

We were thrilled to see or hear any wildlife, including the neighborhood’s albino squirrel, the raccoon climbing the tree, the wood duck tossing her chicks to the ground from the wood duck house high in a tree, and the loon’s heartwarming fluttery call.

As we’ve traveled the world with plenty of time on our hands, we can easily spend hours searching and reveling in the treasures Mother Nature has to offer wherever we may go.  Here in Costa Rica, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’ve been enthralled with various birds. This vegetation-rich country has to offer, which is without a doubt a haven for our aviary friends. 

Certainly no birding experts by any means, we’re easily able to find great pleasure in spotting and hopefully identifying birds as we see them taking photos when we can.  

Sadly, many we’ve actually seen have moved so quickly we haven’t been able to take that treasured photo. We’d have to have the camera close at hand every moment of every day and, although generally, it’s at our side, it takes a moment to turn it on and focus on a photo when the sighting is long gone. It’s the way it is.

It took several hours for the hummingbirds to flock to this new style of feeder.

Back to the hummingbird feeder… Once we made the first batch of syrup, we were hooked.  All-day, as we sat outside on the veranda, the hummingbirds came poking their sharp little beaks into the four tiny holes from which they could extract a sip. Some were so ambitious they make partake as many as a dozen times during one visit.

On a few occasions, we accidentally left the feeder outside at night only to find it was empty in the morning regardless of how much it contained at the end of the prior day. Did the hummingbirds flock to the feeder at night, taking every last sip?

Then, a few weeks ago, the feeder starting leaking. The liquid was dripping, attracting ants and bees to the area. We tried everything to create a tight seal, but alas, it was worn out from all the activity.  

When in town to shop, we walked throughout Atenas, trying to find another feeder to no avail. While grocery shopping, I found what appeared to be a birdseed feeder and purchased it for US $1.75 (CRC 1,000). If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be out much.

A few days ago, we made a fresh batch of syrup, loaded the new feeder, and placed it in the same spot as the former feeder. The hummingbirds didn’t seem interested for several hours, but finally, they were sipping from this different style of feeder.

Then, it happened again…we left the feeder out one night to find it empty in the morning. How does this happen?  A four-cup batch of syrup usually lasts for three or four days.

Last night in the dark, we set up the camera on the tripod, waiting to see what would transpire.  Did hundreds of hummingbirds come to guzzle the entire batch?  As we watched, we were shocked by what we witnessed. It was bats.

This explains today’s video we took while we sat outside on the veranda in the dark, the bats paying no attention to our presence. As frequently as they sipped, it was easy to see how they’d consume the entire container in one night.

In years passed, I was terrified of bats. Not so much anymore. Many of my fears have long disappeared since the onset of our travels. Bats are everywhere, and besides, they eat mozzies that love to feast on me.

Recently, while dining in the formal dining room each evening, we’ve noticed hundreds of bats in the yard at night. Little did we connect the disappearance of the syrup in the hummingbird feeder with the bats. We learned our lesson to bring the feeder indoors each evening, leaving it in the kitchen sink after rinsing the exterior with water to ensure we don’t get ants in the sink overnight. So far, so good.

Here again, an example of how the “small things” occurring in our lives of travel finds us intrigued and fascinated with the miracles of nature. We hope our readers enjoy our small experiences as well as those of a more significant variety.

May your day find you enthralled with small things, whatever they may be. Please feel free to comment at the end of this post to share some of your “small things” experiences!

Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2016:

In Bali, nature at its finest on the edge of the infinity pool.  We spent hours watching this praying mantis. For more favorite Bali photos as we prepared to depart, plus the final expenses, please click here.

Difficulties of travel for some seniors…Aging and endorphins…our bodies own miracle…Want to get high?…Could this be the answer?

A deer at Zoo Ave.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Here’s another sad loss of a bird, a Hoffman’s Woodpecker, that hit the glass wall in the veranda. Unfortunately, this one never came back to life.

Regardless of how one may strive to maintain a modicum of good health as we age, there’s only so much we can do. A healthy diet, regular movement and exercise, sufficient sleep, regular small doses of sunlight, and a positive state of mind may seem to be the panacea for long and healthy life. But it’s so much more than that.

We’re subject to heredity and the past ways in which we’ve lived our lives, which at times may not have been the most health-inducing for the long haul, having an impact on how quickly we age.

Did we spend too much time in the sun resulting in creepy hanging skin and the potential for skin cancer? Did we smoke or consume recreational drugs in our youth?  Did we drink alcohol in excess?  Were our lives filled with stress and worry impacting the quality of daily lives and the ability for good sleep? 

A deer lounging in the foliage.

Many of us abused our bodies with too much exercise, or as in many cases, not enough exercise, resulting in bad hips, knees, backs, and joints in general. So when we hear about many of our friends requiring hip and knee replacement surgeries, we wonder if there was something that may have prevented the necessity of these major surgeries. 

Is reliable information available to inspire the young to prevent the need for such surgeries in their later years? Unfortunately, many studies we’ve read seem to contradict one another. 

Thankfully, neither Tom nor I have any concerns over hip or knee surgeries in the imminent future.  However, the necessity of such could quickly stop us “dead in our tracks” for an extended period in continuing our world travels. 

An Iguana at Zoo Ave. We’ve seen them running across roads at various locations, but they dash. It’s not easy to get a photo while driving.

When we look back at our lives, is there anything we did “right” to avoid these surgeries?  There’s nothing we can recall. Is it merely a matter of chance? I can’t imagine this is so.

Simply due to the fact we’ve chosen this life of world travel doesn’t make us exempt from age-related health issues. We, too, like many of you, have signs and symptoms commensurate with aging that no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to escape.

We can eat all the low carb, healthy organic, free-range, and grass-fed chemical-free foods we can stuff into our mouths and accomplish a daily goal of 10,000 active steps on the Fitbit, and still, we find ourselves struggling to get enough uninterrupted sleep each night and notice subtle changes in our health as the years pass.

Close up of an Iguana face.

No, we don’t spend time worrying about aging. No, we don’t frequently check the mirror looking for changes in the number of wrinkles, skin changes, and gray hair that comes with aging. 

However, it’s impossible not to notice a new ache, a new pain, or a symptom we may not have experienced in the past. Without a doctor and confused over the varying opinions of doctors and medical professionals worldwide based on fuzzy medical research and protocols, we often have no option but to try to figure out day-to-day issues on our own.

Of course, if we experienced a possibly life-threatening situation or severe injury, we’ll head to the nearest hospital. We’re not foolhardy.

Check out the complexities of this unusual creature.

Oh my gosh, while we’ve had US news here in Costa Rica, we’ve been appalled over the commercials for drugs that hardly seem worth trying, with all the risks of side effects, unless a person has a life-threatening condition and all other options have been exhausted. It’s hard to believe.

Traveling is suitable for aging. The joy, the mental stimulation, and the varied experiences surely must be beneficial for one’s health. We’ve noticed this repeatedly during the past five years of world travel (only nine days until the fifth anniversary of our trips).

The rush of endorphins continually wash over us time and again, whether it’s a result of spotting a little bird alighting on the railing, a cultural experience, or the sighting of a lion in the wild.   Endorphins are described as follows from this site:

(contracted from “endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones in humans and other animals. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. The term “endorphins” implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals) instead of a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”The class of endorphins includes three compounds – α-endorphinβ-endorphin, and γ-endorphin – which preferentially bind to μ-opioid receptors. The principal function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids.”

Turtles seem to enjoy hanging out together. Hmmm…kind of like people.

Gee…want to get high? Experience life’s wonders and feel this exceptional sensation of euphoria and well-being produced by our bodies. This has got to be suitable for aging! 

Hardly a day passes where we don’t have an opportunity to experience this indescribable rush.  Perhaps, in essence, this is our choice of “drug” that spurs us on to continue our travels. Maybe this may be the “magic” required to extend our health and the quality of our lives, joy, and purpose.

May each day bring you an endorphin rush!

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2016:

On our last night in Bali, we shot this sunset photo from the cabana. For more final photos, please click here.