Hanging in there…

Owl we spotted in Kanha National Park.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

This morning at breakfast, we realized we’d been at the lovely Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport for one week. It seems like so much longer in the same manner that lockdown must feel for all of you regardless of where you may be.

In many ways, lockdown is easier for us than many throughout the world who are confined to their homes for an indefinite period. They have to figure out how to get food and supplies while exposing themselves to the dangerous risk of becoming infected while shopping and out and about.

Although the menu options are restricted at the hotel due to reduced or non-existent deliveries and the choices are limited for my way of eating and Tom’s taste buds, we are managing well. Neither of us is starving and our two meals a day are holding hunger at bay.

Yesterday, the hotel had a delivery of some items including white bread (for Tom) and fresh vegetables for me. Last night’s dinner of grilled chicken and vegetables with a side of delicious paneer butter masala was perfect. 

Tom had his usual chicken penne pasta with a white sauce. They were out of bread needed to make garlic toast, which he enjoys with the pasta. This morning at breakfast, I had an omelet with 1½ pieces of bacon and Tom ate the other half of the bacon, fried eggs, and white toast. This will hold us until dinner at 7:00 pm when the restaurant re-opens.

A Sambar Deer and her youngster.

No alcoholic beverages are allowed in India during the lockdown. A glass of red wine for me and a cognac cocktail for Tom would be nice but we’re doing fine without it. 

Also, we don’t have to clean, prepare meals, wash dishes, empty trash or manage any usual household tasks. We’re in air-conditioned comfort and although our room isn’t huge, we only occupy a small space. Tom sits on the bed all day while I sit in a comfortable chair with an ottoman.

We’ve decided to continue to wash our clothes in the room after we estimated the cost of having it done by the laundry service which becomes available tomorrow. 

Having our laundry done would cost no less than INR 7553, US $100, a week. With the cost of our hotel room and dinner each night plus the high tax rate in India, we’ve decided to keep our costs down during this time. We have no idea how long we’ll be living in a hotel or the costs we’ll incur when we can finally leave the country.

Entertaining ourselves is relatively easy, although most TV channels are spoken in Hindi. But this fact is irrelevant to us when we seldom watch local TV while living in any country. We prefer to stream shows, even when we may have to pay for certain programs.

A Black Eagle on the lookout for a meal.

A few days ago, we discovered Nat Geo Wild is available on the TV and each morning, after checking the local and international English speaking news channels, we often keep Nat Geo on the TV with the sound off while Tom listens to his favorite radio podcast from Minnesota, Garage Logic.

The toughest part for us is the concern hovering in our minds as to how long we’ll be able to stay in this hotel and if not, where we’ll go. Sure, the limited space of a standard hotel room is confining, but that’s a small price to pay when we are safe in this environment more than anywhere else we could have gone.

Had we made it to South Africa, we’d have been exposed to the virus to a much greater degree having to go out to shop every few days. With the frequent power outages in South Africa for extended periods (load shedding), keeping food safe in the refrigerator and freezer would have been a constant challenge requiring shopping for perishables every few days.

Let’s face it. It’s not easy for any of us. I haven’t cooked a meal in over two months and the simple act of doing this someday in the future will be quite a pleasure.

I think for all of us, we’ll have a greater appreciation of so much in life we may have taken for granted in the past. There is no time in most of our lives that we ever had to sacrifice so much for our own well-being, our family’s well-being, and the well-being of those throughout the world.

Hang in there, everyone. This, too, shall pass.

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2019:

And, here are our girls! Female kudus enjoying pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Please “unfriend me” if…Social media during lock down…

The excellent staff served us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn’t be more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone’s temperature this morning.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Regardless of difficult times, our lives are filled with the love and support of family/readers,/friends from all over the world. In 2019, when I had emergency open-heart surgery in South Africa, there was and continues to be an outpouring of generosity in prayers and warm wishes. 

We can proudly say, we have “no haters” imposing upon the joys and challenges of our daily lives of world travel.

Now, as we wait in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, for the virus to run its course and free us and the rest of the world to be able to continue with our lives, again the kindness and concern expressed by countless readers throughout the world flood our inboxes.

This generosity of spirit not only brings smiles to our faces as we rifle through the messages, trying to respond to each one personally, but it honestly has had an impact on our day-to-day lives.

As I lay on the sofa in our holiday home in the bush in February, March, and April 2019, with mosquitoes buzzing around our heads, temperatures well into the  40C (100F) range, with power going off and on due to load-shedding (utility company turning the power off for hours at a time to conserve resources), nothing beyond the loving attentiveness of my husband, family and local friends brought me more peace and comfort, than hearing from so many of you.

With the impact of this dreadful virus, we’re all locked down in one way or another, and yet our readers continue to reach out to us each day. This feeling of “never being alone” positively impacts both of us as we, like you, muddle our way through this challenge.

The hotel staff, some of whom are shown in the above photo, have embraced each guest with such kindness, extraordinary service, and a high level of concern, far beyond what one would expect during these trying times. 

During the lockdown in India, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport has created this heart image as a show of supports using lights in various hotel rooms.

And beyond the communication we so much treasure with our worldwide readers is the opportunity to connect with family and friends via Facebook, which we use more than any other form of social media. 

Over the past 7½ years of world travel, Facebook has been a valuable source for us in seeing photos and reading stories about our loved ones and friends. Few of our blog readers share Facebook with us when they have their friends and family with whom they share the most detailed aspects of their lives.

Unfortunately, if a reader “friends” us, if we don’t know them and there’s no accompanying comment that they are a reader/friend, we may not accept their friend request. We’re not on a mission to have thousands of Facebook friends since doing so would result in too much sorting through posts.

For me, I go to Facebook five or six times a day to see what’s happening. I don’t notice annoying ads or promotions. But, I notice “hate speech” and “toxic vitriol,” which is often politically based. 

I try to breeze by the toxic comments, but like many of us, especially now with “time on our hands,” it’s not easy to do. I find myself reading hateful remarks about our leaders and the leaders of other countries, regardless of theirs or my political affiliation, that is an outright slam against their service and a slam against them as human beings.

I challenge anyone in this world to step into their shoes, now, in the past, or in the uncertain future, to do a better job than they are doing. Sure, we all fantasize about how “we’d do it better,” but none of us, regardless of how well-read or educated we believe we are, can fathom the depth, the magnitude of what is required to be in such a position unless we’ve been there.

No, I am not condoning poor or ruthless leadership. Nor am I expressing a personal political view. I don’t want to see or hear “hate speech” of any type on my Facebook feed. We are each entitled to our opinions, and yes, they can be voiced at appropriate times.

But, now, as we all struggle to stay upbeat, positive, and hopeful for the future, during this particularly challenging period in history, none of this toxicity is doing any of us any good. 

Thus, if you feel compelled to continue posting “hate speech” on Facebook, which as a medium, I consider a valuable source of hopefulness, humor, and optimism, please feel free to “unfriend” me. 

Yes, I can read about your troubles, challenges, joys, thoughts, health, and emotions as I have shared mine. Yes, I love seeing your photos of your family, your friends, scenery, places you’ve been or long to be and, animals, cats, dogs, wildlife, anything that walks, flies, or crawls. Who doesn’t love funny animal videos?

Yes, I can read news about Covid-19 as a reality we all face. But, not for one more day can I read “hate speech.” If you can’t stop, even during this challenging time, please… UNFRIEND ME.

I won’t judge you, nor will I announce “who” unfriended me. I’ll just let you “waft” away.  

May we all stay safe and hopeful during this difficult time.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2019:

Young males gnus (wildebeest) have blondish hair on their heads, so mature males will leave them alone and not fight until they mature when the blond hair changes color.  Due to the blond hair, the older males perceive the young males as females and have little interest in harassing them. For more photos, please click here.

No easy answers…

The main entrance to the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, the hotel which has welcomed us with open arms. We are very grateful.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

As we waited in the hotel lobby for our room to be cleaned, we were informed that on April 1st, laundry service would again become available. This morning, I washed a pair of pants, a couple of pajamas, and underwear while in the shower.

There’s nowhere to hang the items to dry except inside the closet on hangers, where they take days to dry. The window ledge here is too narrow to lay out the wet clothing. I have placed a bath towel on the floor of the wood closet under the clothes to catch the drips since wringing them by hand doesn’t do nearly as good a job as a washer’s spin cycle.

Knowing laundry service will be available in a few days is a boost to our morale, as it will be when and if we discover food supplies for the restaurant can be replenished (not yet). My omelet was smaller than usual this morning, and I wondered if they were running low on eggs.

Tom is now eating whole-grain toast as opposed to white bread, his definite preference. We don’t complain or ask for anything we know may be running low. I suppose we prefer to avoid the staff from feeling frustrated over not fulfilling our expectations. 
There are several seating areas in the hotel, but they are rarely occupied.

They are struggling too, away from their families and homes, while sleeping in the hotel, along with the rest of us. We’re all in this together, yet these kindly Indian people never complain or wipe the welcoming smile off their faces. We so appreciate them.

Over the past several days, we have received many email messages from our concerned readers suggesting we contact the US State Department to help get us out of India.

Coffee bar near the casual dining room.

I can’t express how much we appreciate every message we receive and try to reply to each message and comment. However, as we’ve mentioned earlier, we have no intention of returning to the US. 

With the number of cases in the US today at 123,776 and rising rapidly, we feel safer in this locked-down Marriott hotel in Mumbai. Yes, we’re “trapped,” per se, but we’re OK with the lockdown, especially if it saves lives and reducesrisks to others and us in the long run.

The casual dining room where we have breakfast and dinner.

Today, India has 987 cases with 25 deaths as opposed to the 2229 deaths in the US. Sure, we may be deluding ourselves since testing is prevalent in the US as opposed to India. But, a significant factor here is the national lockdown that has yet to transpire in the US. Why? We don’t know.

In South Africa, shoppers are being shot by police with rubber bullets. See this article here, one of many found online. They certainly are serious about keeping people in their homes. 

The concierge desk is still operated,,, but no one is using it since none of us are allowed to leave the premises.

In India, failure to comply with the lockdown may result in huge fines and a jail sentence. We aren’t going out anywhere, regardless of what we may need or want,,,, until such time as going out is deemed safe,,, and the lockdown has ended.

A beautiful long staircase leads to the mezzanine level.

The hardship of the lockdown for the poor in India is devastating to see on the news. But, what other choice did the leaders of this country of 1.3 billion people have at their disposal? See the stats below for the top ten countries with the highest population:

# Country 2020
Expected Pop.
Growth Pop %
2000 – 2020
China 1,439,323,776
13.4 %
India 1,380,004,385
37.1 %
United States
17.3 %
27.7 %
Pakistan 220,892,340
44.9 %
21.9 %
66.3 %
Bangladesh 164,689,383
27.9 %
– 0.8 %
29.2 %
TOP TEN Countries
25.1 %
Rest of the World
29.2 %
TOTAL World Population

There’s no doubt population size is a factor in the number of cases of Covid-19. The measures each country exercises to contain the virus are a vital factor, regardless of economic consequences and inconveniences to daily life.

This is not easy for any of us. But, we two world travelers, stuck in a hotel in Mumbai with no sense of security over how long we’ll have a roof over our heads, are willing to be patient and see what transpires over the next few months.

The seating area is near the reception desk.

Thanks for all the love and prayers for our safety and well-being as we express the same sentiment to every one of you!

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2019:
There were no photos posted one year ago today, as I returned to the hospital for two surgeries on my infected legs due to the cardiac bypass surgery.

Living in limbo…The impact of change…

Rhino mom and baby in Kruger National Park.
An elephant on the Crocodile River.

Living in limbo is an unusual experience for all of us. It’s impossible not to dwell upon what will happen next, the economic consequences, the long-term impact on each of our towns, our villages, our cities, our countries, and our immediate surroundings. For us, the considerations are less long-term and more immediate.

Will the hotel stay open to shelter us until this passes? If not, where will we go? Will the hotel be able to receive deliveries at some point? When will I be able to eat vegetables again, a mainstay of my diet?

I never knew I would long for the crispiness of a bite of romaine lettuce or the crunch of sautéed broccoli cooked al dente. For many, any food at all is a luxury for which I continue to remind myself. We are fortunate during this unusual and trying time in history.

And yes, this period will go down in history as a time of significant loss, sorrow, worry, and fear. None of us are exempt from the impact on our lives.

For those of us who will have avoided the ravages of the virus, we can always remind ourselves how our diligent efforts, along with a stroke of good fortune, kept us safe in the wake of others dying around us.

I would like to believe there’s always a reason for such disasters. Is it Mother Nature’s way of reminding us of who is in control? There’s no smog in Mumbai today. The waters in the canals of Venice are crystal clear, with sea creatures arriving in excited pods to play in her clear blue waters. What does that say?

Sure, endless conspiracy theories are flooding the internet right now, surmising many possible scenarios. Any single perspective may be partially plausible or not.

I prefer to let it lie in the grasps of a higher power deciding this world needed a reset, not just financially but spiritually as well. 

We all could have lived a better life with more compassion, less judgment of others, less toxic vitriol, less consumption, and more tenderness toward each other and our planet.

And, here we are now, with an opportunity to rethink how we function in this world, with each other, with nature, and with wildlife. Everything was askew. 
And now? 

We wait to see if this demon in”flu” enter will leave us when it determines we are ready for change.

More of the world believes in a higher power than not. Maybe it’s time for us to not only pray for “it” to “go away” but also pray for our strength and resolve to build a better world, a healthier planet.

When has each person, each country, been in the throes of the very same fears and reactions in all of history? Not even during world wars. Let’s embrace the worldwide power of this moment and come together in peace and harmony.

Our heartfelt compassion and sympathy for those families impacted by this global devastation. We offer love and hope for all of us to heal, restore and play a unique role in the upcoming impact of change.

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2019:

“Don’t get too close to my baby,” says mama mongoose one year ago today. See here for more photos.

The days turn into nights and the nights are never ending…A day in the life…

Beautiful statue at the beach in Pondicherry.

At some point, we’re going to run out of photos to share of India. In that case, we’ll have no choice but to post without photos or add a few photos of the same date years ago.

 Let’s face it. For all of us in lockdown, our days and nights are relatively uneventful at this place in time. We eat, we sleep, we read, we watch the news, we stream shows, we play games, we talk, and we laugh. Click “replay.” It happens all over again.

For those of you with homes that are most of you, you do laundry, clean, make repairs, rebuild, re-do, re-design, cook, sit outdoors, talk on the phone, or whatever one does when trapped in your home.
A church we visited in Pondicherry.

In some ways, it’s easier for us. We don’t have a wall staring at us pushing us to paint it, a closet to clean, a garage to reorganize, or windows to wash. All we have to do is hand wash our clothes each day, prepare the day’s post, answer countless email messages from our readers, and pay our credit card bills at the end of the month. 

Are we bored? Surprisingly, we’re not. We could do this for many more months if necessary. We’re bracing ourselves for that possibility. As long as we are safe and have a roof over our heads, we can handle it. How about you?

We awake later than usual due to the darkening drapes in our room, often as late as 8:00 am. The routine for us is simple and uninspiring. We take turns showering and dressing, then head downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, often ordering the same items as long as they remain available.

Our Lady of Angels Church is the fourth oldest church in Puducherry, a Union territory in South India. The original structure was built in Greco Roman architecture by Napoleon III in 1855, with the architect being Louis Guerre. The only church offers mass in three languages, namely French, Tamil, and English.

Back up to our room after breakfast, we go online, checking the news for updates, often shocked by the new number of cases in the US that were calculated while we slept.

We work online, with me preparing the day’s post and Tom reading and reviewing his points of interest, often looking up facts and figures for me as I write.

When the cleaners come, we head downstairs to the lobby until they’re done. Once we return to the room, I begin my daily practice of walking in the halls, once every hour, to continue to build strength in my legs.

The stunning interior of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Pondicherry.

Usually, by 1:00 or 2:00 pm, I have completed and uploaded the post. Tom proofreads it for errors (we often miss several) and forwards a “text-only” email copy to his blind brother Jerome, who reads it daily from his talking computer.

From there, Tom listens to his favorite podcast, Garage Logic, from Minnesota while I watch mindless drivel on my laptop, simultaneously playing with my phone. 

As somewhat of a reality TV junkie, I’m currently watching “Married at First Sight,” the Australian version, and I am on episode 5 of season 7. At least 25 episodes remain. I can stand to watch two episodes a day. 

Entrance to the cemetery in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.

When I get through season 7, I’ll backtrack and start watching earlier seasons. That should keep me busy a few hours each day in-between stopping to walk the hallways.

Today, while it’s the middle of the night in the US, I will stay on hold on the phone for what may be hours in a continuing effort to get a refund from Kenya Airways when we were turned away for our flight to South Africa last Friday. 

I’ll do this while watching my show, setting the phone down with the speaker on while it’s still plugged in. It’s a toll-free number, and I can wait for hours as long as I stay busy doing something else. 

At 7:00 pm, when the restaurant opens for dinner, we head down to sit at the same table each night. By then, I’m starving. When we’re living in a holiday home, if we get hungry for a snack, we grab a piece of cheese or raw veggies. Now we don’t have such a luxury. The snacks in the minibar aren’t suitable for my way of eating, so no help there.

A shrine on the interior of a temple in Pondicherry.

We aren’t ever hungry at lunchtime, and we’ve always waited for dinner for the next meal. But during the late afternoon, I often find myself thinking of something to snack on. 

Oh well, this is our life right now, and we must make the best of it. Usually, a cup of tea or two gets me through those few hungry hours. In the realm of things, it’s no big deal. Tom never seems to get hungry for a snack, so this is not an issue for him.

After dinner, it’s back to the room where we’ll get comfy and stream a few episodes of our favorite shows, currently Survivor and Seal Team. By 11:00 pm, we’re off to sleep to awaken the following day to begin it all again.

What about YOU? We’d love to hear how some of you are spending your days and nights during the lockdown. Please post a comment at the end of each post for all of our readers to see. It’s comforting to know we are not alone. Feel free to do so “anonymously” if you so choose.

Stay home. Stay safe. We’ll all get through this!

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2019:

Check out the muscles on this huge animal, a male kudu. “Little” is taking a drink from the cement pond in the background. For more photos, please click here.

Go figure…I did today’s post and it disappeared…Here we go again…Lockdown continues…

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks ago, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Now, it’s starting to look appetizing to both of us.

As each day passes, we become more and more hopeful that this stunning hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott (see photos) close to the Mumbai Airport, will remain open for the long haul.

Of course, under these difficult circumstances, there is no guaranty. The decision to close will be up to their upper management based on continuing loss of revenue with so few guests on the premises.

This building was shown in a scene from the movie, Life of Pi, filmed in Chennai, India.

As an international conglomerate of hotels, we’re thinking Marriott just may stay open since they are more well-capitalized than the small local hotels where we stayed over the past few weeks. Our fingers are crossed.

And, regardless of how difficult it becomes with limited services offered due to tightening their budget and government Covid-19 restrictions, we’re determined to stay here regardless of the circumstances, as long as we have air-con and WiFi.

The two statues of a revered couple who were highly instrumental in doing good works for the Indian people.

The biggest challenge we’re experiencing as guests is the lack of food inventory which continues to dwindle rapidly when suppliers simply aren’t delivering food to hotels right now. That may change down the road, but for now, the dining options are restricted.

Each night at dinner they hand us a newly printed menu with the number of options shrinking exponentially. Soon, there will be little either of us can or will eat.

In that case, we may just resort to eating one big meal a day, preferably having breakfast-type meals midday to hopefully hold us through the evening. For the sake of maintaining my health and keeping Tom’s sanity, this may end up being our best option.

This woman, on the side of the road, was shaking seeds out of a basket to be used in making vegetable oil.

Last night Tom was able to order a chicken and penne dish made with a white sauce. I ordered a paneer dish (which is a soft cheese, cut into cubes and referred to as “cottage cheese” in India, but doesn’t resemble cottage cheese as we know it, at all) mixed into a spicy starch-free tomato sauce. 

Since the bowl of sauce and paneer was small, I also ordered roasted chicken and received two tiny pieces of pale-looking unseasoned chicken. It wasn’t that appetizing. I have no doubt, this restaurant is wonderful under usual circumstances.

But, we are in difficult times and they are doing the very best they can with the products they have on hand to cook for these 20 rooms of guests. We have no doubt the options will continue to decline over the next many days. Somehow, we’ll manage. If we have to we both can eat eggs, lots of eggs to carry us through.

Tom’s meal from a few weeks ago, also looks appetizing.

We’re grateful we are safe and in air-conditioned comfort with a strong Wi-Fi signal. During the day we can each stream our favorite shows/podcasts without any issues which manage to help us get through the long day.

In the evenings, after dinner, we stream a favorite TV series until it’s time to go to sleep. Much to our surprise, both of us are sleeping well, as much as eight hours a night, odd for each of us. Maybe it’s nature’s way of helping us to tune out of this peculiar situation for a while. My nights are filled with wild dreams and convoluted stories.
As of today, since we received the cruise cancellation notice from Viking Cruise Lines, we’ve been self-isolating for two full weeks. The only times we’ve been out have been when going to at an ATM, traveling to various hotels, to the airport to fly from Madurai to Mumbai and again to the airport and back last Friday when we were turned away for our flight. 
An artfully designed temple built over 1000 years ago in Chennai.

In each instance, we wore face masks and sanitized/washed our hands obsessively. As each day passes, we continue to hope we haven’t been infected with both of us feeling well and energized. I continue to walk the hallways, never encountering any other guests, although all of us are situated on the fourth floor.

The pool, the bar, the health club, and another restaurant continue to stay closed, due to governmental order. We look forward to the day when all of this can change and all of us can continue on with our lives. When will that day come? No one knows. Except, logic dictates, that total lockdown is the answer.

Stay safe.


Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2019:

This is my boy, Little. How does a person fall in love with a pig? For more photos, please click here.

Holding our breath..One day at a time…

The scene we traveled on the Toy Train.

In the past several weeks, each time we’ve been required to venture out of the safe cocoon of a hotel room, we can’t help but wonder if we’ve been exposed. At this point, we only leave the sanctity of our space when it’s time for breakfast or dinner.

All of the employees at this beautiful hotel live on-site and aren’t allowed to leave the premises. The staff is minimal, and food supplies are dwindling. This morning, the restaurant manager explained meal options are rapidly declining when they can’t get deliveries.

Sunset in Bandhavgarh National Park.

As we mentioned, there is no laundry service, and we’ve begun washing our clothes in the shower or the bathroom sink and then hanging them on the window ledge to dry. We decided to wear the same clothes repeatedly for as long as possible to avoid having a big pile of laundry accumulate. 

We’re hand washing our underwear daily and will hand wash shirts and pants when we swap out those we’ve been wearing. Blue jeans are tough to squeeze dry, but we’ll figure it out.

Memorial for fallen soldiers in Delhi.

Thank goodness we have air-con and WiFi. India is fast-moving into its hottest season, and we notice temperatures rising each day. If the power goes out, we’re in big trouble. So far, nothing indicates that the infrastructure will fail.

Mahatma Gandhi’s burial site and memorial in New Delhi.

Today, the mandatory 21-day lockdown began in the entire country of India. As seen in this article, people will be arrested if found outside of their activities aren’t covered by exemptions. So far, the government is not requiring all hotels to close, only those who choose to complete as stated in the above link:

” Exemptions: Hotels, Homestays, lodges, and motels which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew.”

A herd of sheep on the road.

This notice came out this morning and gives us a degree of comfort, but many hotels continue to close due to low occupancy and subsequent loss of revenue. If this hotel closes and as long as we have a hotel to move into, we will be fine. It’s the prospect of not having anywhere to stay that is terrifying, as we had feared after yesterday morning’s incidents.

None of the dozen or so holiday homeowners I’ve contacted online have yet to respond to our inquiries except one, who stated they aren’t renting their property during this crucial period.

A sambar deer sighting.

Most likely, this will be the case for most holiday property owners and managers. They don’t want to be exposed to any travelers who may be infected, nor do they want their properties to be a “hotbed” of germs they’ll eventually have to clean.

This morning at breakfast, an Englishman approached our table (at a distance of several meters). He said he recognized us from Madurai, where we stayed in isolation for four days before our last flight to Mumbai a week ago today. His group of three is in the same spot we’re in. They are unable to leave Mumbai due to closed airports and India’s total lockdown.

She was crossing a river in Kanha National Park.

They are hoping to return to their home in the UK with over 8000 cases as of today. Here again, Heathrow Airport would potentially be another dangerous airport. Our plan continues to wait it out until we’re able to enter South Africa, which currently has 554 cases. Tomorrow, they are also implementing a total countrywide lockdown.

The wait could be extended, especially when South Africa has confirmed they won’t accept any foreign nationals entering the country until after May 31st. If we get lucky, and this hotel stays open, we’ll be fine here until then. Time will tell.

The restaurant at Tuli Tiger Resort in Kanha.

None of us knows what will transpire over these next weeks or months. We’re all in this together, regardless of our circumstances. We must stand together as a unit in our commitment to “social distancing,” ensuring we are continuing to avoid passing this dreadful virus onto others.

Stay safe. Order groceries online. Stop shopping at warehouse facilities. Stop getting together with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Wash your hands. Cover your cough or sneeze. Stay home, world, please…

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2019:

Such a handsome kudu bull. For more photos, please click here.

A morning from hell…OMG…OMG…

An older man was walking his cow down the road.

Last night when we went to bed, we assumed we had a solid plan in place. By noon, we’d have our bags packed, have paid our hotel bill, and be ready to head to the Espresso Hotel, which had booked us a room for a month, according to the Sun-N-Sand staff.

At 8:00 am, having slept later than we’d expected after awakening several times during the night, the phone rang. The front desk informed us that our checkout had been moved to 10:00 am, not noon.

We bolted out of bed to begin to take turns showering, dressing, and packing. By 8:45, we headed to the restaurant for our final breakfast at the Sun-n-Sand Hotel. It appeared we were the only remaining guests in the hotel.

At the reception desk, we asked why we were rushing for a 10:00 am checkout. They didn’t say much other than, “We’re closing earlier than we’d planned.”

A Marwari horse with curly ears at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Service was slow at the restaurant, although we were the only patrons. By 9:30, Tom went back to our room to finalize the packing while I approached the front desk to pay our bill. He told me to go back and wait in the room until they were ready for us.

I refused to go back to the room. I insisted on waiting for Tom in the lobby after the bellman had been ordered to pick up our bags. The man at the desk seemed nervous and confused, telling me to “go wait in the room until they were ready for us.” Again, I refused.

This worried me. I insisted on paying the bill. Moments later, Tom came off the elevator wheeling our bags. The bellman hadn’t arrived in time to help him. He joined me at the desk to assist in sorting out the bill.

As it turned out, we had a credit when we paid for an entire week last Friday and still had three nights remaining. The only charges we’d incurred were for dinners and one batch of laundry. They paid us several thousand rupees in cash rather than put it on our credit card. 

An Indian Roller.

After completing the transaction, the man handed us a piece of paper with the name of a different hotel, The Orchid, explaining that’s where we were going. A reservation for one month had been arranged for us, and we were to leave right away. They’d managed to find a driver to move us to the new location instead of using a police vehicle as mentioned yesterday.

We checked out The Orchid, a hotel online, and it looked very nice. We were satisfied it would work for us. Tom was disgruntled about this last-minute change from one hotel to another without notifying us, but based on our situation, we had little choice but to move along. Hotels all over Mumbai were rapidly closing, one after another.

With the roads empty of vehicles, we arrived at the beautiful Orchid, feeling relieved as soon as we drove up. Although all bars, most restaurants, pools, and facilities in hotels had to be closed, we’d be content with a room with air-con, WiFi, a comfortable bed, and a place to eat breakfast and dinner.

Our bags were unloaded from the van, we paid the driver, went through security, had our temperature checked, and approached the desk to sign in for our one-month reservation.

Statues made from stone and granite are offered for sale to locals and tourists.

They had no record, whatsoever, of any reservation in our name, not for one night, let alone one month. Nor were they able to book us a room when they are closing tomorrow. Sun-n-Sand had pulled the wool over our eyes to get us out the door so that they could complete.

There we were, hotels closing like dominoes falling, all over Mumbai, along with owners of holiday homes not responding to our inquiries and nowhere to go. My heart was pounding in my chest. Tom kept reminding me to stay calm while we figured something out.

As much as the staff at The Orchid wanted to help us, there was little they could do. The fantastic hotel manager/concierge, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, immediately worked with the utmost effort to find a solution for us.

I had visions of us standing outside the US Embassy in Mumbai with all of our baggage, pounding on the door, trying to get help. 

Gorgeous leis of flowers offered for sale for offerings.

Partway through Mr. Fernandes’ diligent calling, he approached us and said he’d located a hotel the government had required to stay open… For suspected cases of Covid-19 required quarantine. 

Tom and I had agreed that, no matter what, we would not stay in one of those toxic situations. Mr. Fernandes didn’t think we’d willingly remain in such a facility. Subsequently, he continued the search. After a highly stressful hour, he found us a hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, close to the airport.

He suggested we book it online right away, which we did, after which he spoke to a reception staff member who confirmed the reservation had come through and we were good to go.

Not only did Mr. Fernandes make these arrangements for us, but he also arranged a complimentary ride using a vehicle owned by The Orchid. Finally, we breathed a sigh of relief. Moments later, we were on our way to the most beautiful Courtyard by Marriott we’d ever seen.

Women were weeding the peanut fields.

During this entire stressful period, we both wore face masks. With lobbies of most hotels in Mumbai not air-conditioned and the high heat and humidity, we were both sweating profusely.

The kindly reception staff member at The Orchid Deeptka, provided us with both will bottled water, and we were on our way. The staff at the Courtyard by Marriott were welcoming, but here again, they made no assurances as to how long they’d stay open. Also, they explained there is no laundry service now or soon.

Today, we’ll begin contacting more owners of holiday homes to see if they’ll take us last minute, next time we have to move, which we expect will happen within the next week or so.  

Whew! Now, we’re comfortably situated in a beautiful hotel with all services suspended indefinitely except for an open coffee shop that will serve us breakfast and lunch. We’ll stay in our room unless we’re dining.

A termite mound in Kanha National Park.

If this hotel stays open, we could be here a month or two or longer, depending upon when South Africa opens its borders and when international flights are available in Mumbai. None of us know our fate at this point, and indeed every one of us feels cooped up and uncertain about the future.

If and when you visit Mumbai, we’d highly recommend staying at The Orchid. Nowhere in the world have we seen this caliber of customer service at a hotel, let alone the fact we weren’t staying with them.

Temporarily, we dodged a bullet, for how long? We have no idea. Stay safe. Stay indoors. We continue.  

                        Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2019:
Fourth Baby, who’d been separated from his family, often sits in this goofy pose when eating pellets. This was how we knew it was him. The others kneel but don’t set their butt down while eating. He was never reunited with his family, from what we could determine. For more photos, please click here.

Later today, we’ll know our fate…

Passengers on public transportation passing by our train. Trains in India have now ceased to operate due to Covid-19.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

The owners of this hotel are meeting today to discuss whether or not they will remain open because they still have only five occupied rooms in this 120 room hotel.

Although the bathrooms on the train were smaller than on a cruise ship, we made the best of it.

Of course, we’re anxiously waiting to hear the news as we continue to search online to see if other hotels will be staying open or closing due to Covid-19. Also, we’re researching holiday homes in Mumbai with few options. 

Many don’t have central air-con, and thus a hotel is more desirable. Also, we don’t like the idea of having to order groceries when most holiday homes only have a hot plate for cooking. We’d rather dine in a hotel, twice a day for breakfast and dinner, the only meals we consume.

A lovely salad was prepared for me by Chef John Stone on the train.

As yet, there has not been a specific directive from the government that all hotels must close. At this point, it appears each hotel’s management can decide on their own, but this could change shortly if the number of cases continues to escalate.

We’re on a one-day-at-a-time mindset right now, which seems easier for Tom than it is for me. I am, by nature, a planner. Not knowing where we’ll be tomorrow is not easy for me. Each time I see a manager when we go to the restaurant, I ask, “Any news yet?” Surely, they understand my concern.

The inventory of food in the restaurant is rapidly dwindling, as explained by our waiter. We surmise they aren’t receiving any food deliveries, and at this point, they are relying upon their on-hand food supply to serve the needs of the patrons in the five occupied rooms.

Red carpets were rolled out for each instance of embarking and disembarking the train.

There are 28 employees still working in the hotel. But, we’ve noticed that changing rapidly as they pare down to a minimal staff. Our room is cleaned while we’re having breakfast as opposed to several hours later.

Thank goodness, we have plenty of bottled water, toilet paper, and toiletries. At this point, I am so glad we kept solid inventories of essential toiletry items in our supply bag. We can go for a few months without restocking, but at this point, we are rationing everything, as we’re sure all of you are doing.

Beautiful flower displays often greeted us when we disembarked the Maharajas Express.

Luckily, we were able to have our laundry done a few days ago. But will that service continue to be available in the weeks to come? We have no idea. In the interim, I’ve started hand washing everything I can while I’m showering. There’s a broad ledge of the window where we can lay out the damp clothes to dry in the heat of the sun with space for two items a day.

How are we holding up? The hardest part is the uncertainty. If and when we can be settled for a few months, knowing we’ll have access to food, we’ll have peace of mind, whether it’s in a hotel or holiday home. Only time will tell.

The two dining rooms on the train were tastefully appointed with the finest of dinnerware and table settings.

Please, dear readers, all over the world, continue with social distancing and staying home. Had we made it to South Africa, we’d have had to sacrifice seeing our friends and dining out. We surely understand how hard that would have been. 

But, self-isolation is the most beneficial means of stopping the spread of this dreadful virus. We hope and pray for the health and safety of all of you and your families. God bless.

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2019:

Four species in this photo from far left to right: duiker, kudu, warthog, and bushbuck, all sharing pellets harmoniously. For more photos, please click here.

Americans stranded overseas pleas for help to get back to the USA…

This morning, the pool was emptied.

Note: At this point, we’ve lost interest in taking new photos when we’re stuck in a hotel room. Tomorrow, we’ll continue to post photos from our tours in India, although some may be repeats since we didn’t keep track of what we’ve already posted with a lack of time while touring.

Many news stories online about Americans stranded overseas desperate to return to their homes elicits compassion and empathy when they cannot afford to continue to pay for accommodations and are fast running out of medications.

As we’ve read, the US has been chartering flights to get some of these US travelers back to their homes. There are countless news stories about citizens trapped abroad when their vacations ended and airports closed, preventing them from leaving.

Last night when we sat outside, we noticed the pool emptied, indicating the hotel may be closing soon.

That has been our case, but we aren’t running out of medications, nor are we worried about getting back to the US. As long as we have a place to stay and a source of food and basic supplies, we can “wait it out in Mumbai.”

Tonight India’s Prime Minister Modi will announce the next necessary measures to reduce the risks of the spread of Covid-19, which may or may not include closing hotels. 

As of this writing, all signs indicate our hotel will be closing soon. Last night, they emptied the pool and shut off the outdoor area where we’ve been watching the sunset every evening. Today and tonight, we’ll be stuck in our room. 
Another incredible sunset from the hotel pool area.

I’ve never been one to enjoy spending time in a hotel room, although Tom, with his penchant for staying busy online, doesn’t mind quite as much. I guess I’ll have to adapt, as I am, with no complaints, making the best of our situation.

Our spirits are good, and we aren’t complaining at all. Our only concern is that we have a place to stay, preferably a hotel, where we don’t have to find a way to get groceries delivered to us if we were in a holiday home.

Several online grocers are booming in light of the fears of being around other shoppers in local markets. How long they will continue to supply their customers remains to be seen.

What beautiful sunsets over the Arabian Sea.

In reviewing the online grocer’s inventory, there appears to be plenty of foodstuffs we both eat, such as chicken, vegetables, eggs, cheese, coffee/tea, and spices. We can easily exist on these items alone if need be.

Tonight will provide us with a clearer picture of what will transpire going forward. A few minutes ago, when speaking with one of the hotel managers, he seemed to think they’d stay open until March 31st. They still have five out of 120 rooms occupied. All of them have been unable to leave the country, like us. 

A guest, next door to us, checked out, thinking he’d get out of the country, and is now checking back into his same room. We weren’t in our original room when the manager moved us to a room “with a view.”
The beach is barren, with no walkers, no joggers, and even no stray dogs.

But, with the air-con seeming to be running poorly (most likely to keep costs down), we have to keep the drapes closed to keep the room cooler. We sit on the bed all day, searching online for any helpful information. For now, we are OK.

We pray you are all safe, “social-distancing,” and taking all necessary precautions to avoid becoming infected. We’ve been streaming and binge-watching Season 40 of the TV series “Survivor” to keep us entertained. Once we wrap that up, surely will find something else.

Be well. Stay safe and stay tuned as to what transpires here in Mumbai.

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2019:

This is Basket, the Bully.  He lost his right ear in a confrontation a few months ago. For more photos, please click here.