Day #130 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Final photos in Madeira in 2014…

We were thrilled to see a full moon over the hills of Madeira or a clear night six years ago today.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 31, 2014, while in Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.
Tom recalls our months in Madeira as a memorable experience.

It was July 31, 2014. It was our last day in Madeira, Portugal, after a colorful and fascinating 2½ months living in a beautiful, well-equipped contemporary home overlooking the ocean and lush green terraces, prolific on the hilly island.

Always windy, but I loved every day in Madeira.

Although little English was spoken in the tiny village of Campanario, somehow, we managed to meet many locals, engaging in choppy conversations and dining in fabulous restaurants where seafood was always the most popular item on the menu.

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

The charm of the locals and how we were welcomed will remain at the forefront of our memories of this stunning island. The weather wasn’t always ideal, with fog, rain, clouds, and high winds common during the spring and summer months.

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

The sunny days were appreciated and comfortable, rarely requiring air-con at night, and we left the doors and windows wide open during daylight hours. High on a hill overlooking the sea, on occasion, we sat outdoors on the massive veranda in the comfy chaise lounges.

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

Every few days, either both of us or I alone climbed the breathlessness-inducing steep hills. Talk about getting exercise on a short walk! At the time, I had no idea I had cardiovascular disease, severe enough that I could have had a fatal heart attack when I was huffing and puffing to climb the steep hills.

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

It was only 4½ years later I was diagnosed with 100% blockage in three of four coronary arteries, including the most dangerous LAD, described as follows:
“When the main artery down the front of the heart (LAD) is blocked or has a critical blockage, right at the beginning of the vessel, it is known as the Widow Maker. (The medical term for this is a proximal LAD lesion.).”

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

Of course, I am grateful every day that my life was extended after triple coronary bypass surgery in South Africa 17 months ago. However, I can’t help but feel that precious time is being wasted locked in a hotel room as the months fly by. Oh, I can’t think about that!

Beautiful non-traditional colors of vegetation.

Back to the final day in Madeira in 2014, when the next day we were flying to Paris for a blissful 15-night stay, followed by another 15-night remain in London in the lovely South Kensington area. 

We never ceased to enjoy the terraced gardens so typical on the island.

Over this next month, we’ll re-share many photos from that great and memorable month, including a wide array of experiences and photos we’ll always treasure.

An incredible close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar.

And today? What’s happening now? We ordered a package via FedEx from our mailing service in the US with items we’ve purchased since we left the US in January. Our new second passports are in that box, and several much-needed supplies, including my contact lenses and toiletries we can’t get in India, along with other odds and ends. 

We were amazed by the fuzzy green buds on this colorful flower.

Tom always follows the package via the tracking number on FedEx’s site. The package is at a standstill in New Delhi, awaiting customs inspection and subsequent fees. 

We were delighted when these orchids were growing on our patio.

The cost to ship the box from Nevada to Mumbai was INR 29909, US $400 when shipped 2nd-day air. Most likely, we won’t receive the package for two to three more weeks.

We squealed when we drove under a waterfall to continue on the road.

Otherwise, all is status quo. The past three days, I’ve reached my walking goal of 10,000 steps a day. I may alternate between 8000 and 10000 steps, day by day. I am unwilling to do this in one fell swoop since it is more beneficial to walk once an hour. Tom is exercising great, although he does multiple flights of stairs and corridor walks once in the morning.

Have a good day! Stay safe. Stay hopeful.

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

Belted Galloway cattle all possess this unique pattern of a white belt around their midsection. For more photos, please click here.

Day #129 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Grocery shopping in Phuket, Thailand in July 2016…

In Phuket, Thailand, we’d purchased enough food here to last a week. Check out the fantastic total cost below!

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 30, 2016, while in Phuket, Thailand. See the link here for more photos.
Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts, and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free.

Again, today’s photos are from four years ago, but this time from Phuket, Thailand, where we stayed from July 23, 2016, until August 31, 2016. For the starting photos in Phuket in our archives, please click here, which will lead you to the events of the next 40 days and nights.

 Using this app to convert the Thai baht (THB) to 3,803.25, we discovered we’d only spent US $109.38. We were shocked. (See the photos of everything we purchased).

Before I was with Tom starting in 1991, I’d visited Phuket, Thailand, for my 40th birthday in 1988 with my former husband. This was before the devastation from the tsunami that changed the entire look of the island. 

We purchased so many items. It took several photos to include all of them.

When returning to Phuket with Tom in 2016, 28 years later, I didn’t recognize a thing except for the white sand beaches, the aquamarine seas, and the friendly faces of many locals.

Free-range eggs, beef, and celery rounded out our purchases. 

We’d rented a beautiful house with rooms surrounding a large pool, air-con, WiFi, and cleaning staff we paid separately twice a week. We cheaply rented an older car from the property owner and managed to get around the city amid the crazy traffic to shop and see the various sites.

The fresh produce department is packed with locally caught treasures at reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, we were anxious to leave not long after we’d arrived. Nearby, there was violence in the streets with an eventual bombing, the frequent sounds of sirens, armed military police outside the shops and markets, and a feeling of being more unsafe than we had in most other countries.

It looks like Sam’s or Costco.

, The mosquitoes were worse than we’d seen in Africa (or even Minnesota, for that matter). It rained almost every day, and we seldom used the pool or lounged outdoors. Instead, we often stayed indoors in air-conditioned comfort, and for the first time in our world travels, we began counting the days until we were scheduled to leave.

Row after row of frozen foods.  We don’t buy much in the way of frozen foods when most contain additives.

Our highlight of the week was grocery shopping in the enormous warehouse-type grocery store, comparable to Sam’s Club or Costco. The huge amount of selection and ingredients contributed to making some of our favorite meals.

Although we ventured sightseeing a few times each week, we never dined out when Thai food didn’t appeal to Tom due to the spices and often odd ingredients for his tastes. This didn’t bother me when we thoroughly enjoyed cooking our meals in the roomy, well-equipped kitchen.

Littleneck clams. 

In essence, it wasn’t safe to eat out in the evenings when the streets were jammed with motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and fast-moving cars and trucks, and an endless stream of troublemakers. Foreigners were frequent targets of crime.

We’ve been to many rough cities throughout the world, but we’d never felt so unsafe as we had in Thailand. Staying inside with several locks on the doors felt the safest, although we were somewhat of a regular residential neighborhood.

We weren’t able to determine which type of seafood this might be.

While living in a country, we write with caution, preferring not to draw attention to ourselves by possible “haters” living nearby. It wouldn’t be hard for local troublemakers to find where we’re living when reading our posts and seeing photos of our location. Americans, especially seniors, are often victims of horrific crimes in some parts of the world.

We were thrilled to leave after the 40 nights to return to Sumbersari, Bali. We once again stayed in the fantastic beachfront villa, besides having a wonderful experience, feeling safe and comfortable in the exquisite location and property.

Squid, yet to be cleaned.

Thailand has many charms, cultures, stunning temples, beaches, and history. It simply worked out that we happened to be in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” which ultimately tainted our view at the time.

In India, we recall the extraordinary times we spent touring many popular sites in big cities and remote locations. Never once did we feel unsafe or in danger, even when we were out walking independently.

Regardless of this challenging time in lockdown, we’ll always have good memories of our time spent touring in India, a very special country with its kind and gentle people.

Rest easy. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Have hope.

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

The Glinsk Pier is located near our holiday home in Connemara, Ireland. Fishing has always been a big business in this village. For more photos, please click here.

Day #128 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Memorable photos from Cambodia…Only time will tell…

We at the Kampong Cham Temple in Cambodia on this date in 2016.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 29, 2016, while in Cambodia. See the link here for more photos.
Tom, in front of the steps leading to the temple.

When we realized it was only four years ago that the above main photo was taken and posted on our site, it seemed as if it was so much longer ago. Even the time we spent touring India, beginning on February 2, 2020, also seems so long ago.

We were both sweating profusely in the heat of the day.

No doubt, being in confinement for this extended period, now well over four months, we have little comprehension or a definitive sense of time that has passed. The recent experiences of the past year, before the lockdown, seem to have occurred years, not months ago. 

The ornate designs of temples were fascinating.

Only six months ago, we left Arizona after spending time with Tom’s sisters in Apache Junction that we left the US to come to India. It was only eight months ago that we were with other family members in Minnesota and Nevada.

Scary faces to ward off evil spirits.

Today, as we reviewed these photos in a past post from Cambodia on July 29, 2016, it feels as if it was ten years ago or more. This state of lockdown does the trick on our brains when each day and night blends into the other. 

We entered the temple for more detailed views.

When it’s the weekend, suddenly it’s Wednesday, like today. We ask, “What happened to Monday and Tuesday?” We have certain rituals we conduct on specific days of the week, for example, laundry, and those days re-occur so quickly, we can barely take a breath.

The details often illustrate the joy of the Cambodian people.

Even the one-hour gaps between my walks in the corridors come up so quickly. I often shrug my shoulders in sheer wonder that the time has cropped up again so fast when I’ve barely rested from the last vigorous walk. And yet, the walking itself, with my aching legs, seems to take forever.

More views of shrines.

A good night’s sleep is a blessing. This morning, my Fitbit recorded that I’d slept for 8 hours 38 minutes last night (and Tom slept long as well). It’s a welcome respite from the mundane days to nights and nights to days, providing me with the energy needed to walk the corridors hour after hour.

The detail of the craftsmanship is astounding.

Now, I’m up to 9000 steps a day, 4.5 miles, 7.6 km, maneuvering my way around cleaning carts, cleaning staff, and staff members leaving and entering their hotel rooms. It’s no wonder I sleep better and sleep longer, most likely due to the exercise. I never miss a day.

We weren’t sure if these flags were temporary or permanent to celebrate a particular holiday.

And then today, these photos from Cambodia put a smile on our faces, recalling what we’ve left behind and, hopefully, can look forward to in the future… The world. Is the world still awaiting us? Will we be able to resume our world travels, even if in a new way, in times to come?

Only time will tell. We wait. We watch. We search. We read. Only time will tell.

Young monks in training, working at the temple.
Someone on a tour who later visited the orphanage must have handed off a lollipop to this monkey. We giggled when taking these photos.

Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2019:

The Wild Atlantic Way in 14 Steps

Here is the map from this site indicating the counties in which the Wild Atlantic Way passes through:
We included this map of the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland along the western coast in the year-ago post. For more details, please click here.

Day #127 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages meaning the world to us!…Answer to an important question…

Our photo of the Blood Moon on July 27, 2018, was taken from our garden in Marloth Park, South Africa.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 28, 2018, in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more photos.
Yesterday, we received the following email message from a lovely couple we met in November 2017 on a back-to-back South American cruise, visiting many ports of call.
That night, there was a total eclipse of the moon.

We recalled meeting this couple and were excited to post their message, leaving out their names and location for their privacy, as always.

Each day, we receive messages similar to this from couples we’ve met on cruises or our site, which may be newer or long-term readers. Each message means so much to us when I know, as a lurker myself, writing to other bloggers isn’t necessarily on the top of my priority list when I already spend so much time writing and responding to our valued readers.

It was exciting to watch the progression of the eclipse of the moon.

 The rare appearance of the ‘blood moon” and a total eclipse of the moon are clearly (weather providing) visible in South Africa.

Here is the message:

“Hi, Jess & Tom,

Your 126th day of lockdown, whew! 

We enjoyed our visits with y’all on Celebrity  ‘around the horn’  South America cruise. That cruise, beginning in Fort Lauderdale and through the Panama Canal, was excellent.

Is the India hotel providing any financial incentive/discount considering you were mandatorily imprisoned?

Since March 2020, we have had to terminate/transfer five cruises scheduled in 2020. Have one cruise out of Galveston first week of Oct 2020 still on the books that will probably be canceled….we are waiting for word from Royal Caribbean.

COVID certainly presents us with a strange new world to live in.  At least we get out of the house for grocery shopping and essentials compared to your lockdown. This sheltering-in-place is terrible……hoping for a vaccine soon.


Almost complete.

This couple is from the South in the USA when even their adorable writing reflects commonly used terms and expressions spoken by Southerners.
Friendly and lighthearted messages such as this mean the world to us, especially now in this long period of lockdown in Mumbai, India.

They posed an interesting question we’ve yet to address in prior posts, “Is the India hotel providing any financial incentive/discount considering you were mandatorily imprisoned?”

As members of Marriott’s Bonvoy Club, we receive a 30% discount on our meals, saving us a considerable sum over these many months. If we booked our room directly through them each month, we’d receive additional credits toward future rooms.

It was a beautiful clear night.

However, booking through on our site has proven to be more cost-effective when for every ten nights we pay, we receive a credit for one free night at a comparable amount. 

When comparing the prices directly through Marriott’s site and, we’re ahead of the game in room rates and savings. However, we still receive the food discount of 30%.

At this point, we’ve accumulated 15 free nights, which we’ll use in September, in the event we’re allowed to fly away by the end of that month. Our nightly rates are approximately INR 7252, US $97 plus considerable taxes, plus the cost of our dinners each evening. Breakfast is included.

We were grateful for the experience.

The only other costs we incur while here are miscellaneous supplies we may order from Amazon India, such as toiletries, my three prescriptions requiring refills from local pharmacies, and cash tips. 

Fortunately, we’ve had enough rupees on hand to pay for tips when we’d stopped at an ATM between our last hotel stay and this hotel stay. We have enough cash to last for several more months. With the virus on the rise here, it wouldn’t be wise to go to an ATM at this point.

Thanks again to our thoughtful “cruise friends” for taking the time to say hello and for all of our readers who continue to stay with us during this mundane and uneventful period.

Stay healthy!

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

Late-blooming Bird of Paradise, aptly named. For more photos from one year ago today, please click here.

Day #126 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Our new website…Streaming issues…Our worst nightmare…

A Great White Heron was standing in the water at Sunset Dam in Kruger 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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 27, 2018, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more photos.
The process of re-doing our website and moving over almost 3000 historical posts from the archives is taking longer than we’d expected. But, we aren’t concerned when the developer stays in close touch with us, sending the links as it progresses day by day. We’ve been happy with their service, a company, coincidentally here in India.
This was our friend Tusker. He is the sweetest guy who comes to visit several times each day, particularly after 1600 hours (4:00 pm). He was so comfortable he often stayed for a short nap.

As many of us are aware, India, in general, has some of the most skilled tech people in the world, and we were thrilled to use the services of a well-known company with rave reviews. We’ll post more information on this company once we go “live” with our new site sometime in the next 45 days. 

I’d anticipated this process would be stressful, but our skilled and calm developer has made it as painless as possible for me, quickly responding to changes and inquiries.

We never tired of seeing these wondrous animals, both in Kruger and in Marloth Parks.

We’ll give you, our readers, a heads-up when we know it will go live. The link will be the same, and thus, there will be nothing for you to do but to continue reading and commenting as you have over the past eight-plus years.

On another note, we’ve been grateful for the excellent WiFi connection we’ve had during the past 126 days in this hotel. But, as more and more businesses re-open in India, although cases of COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly, we’ve noticed a slowing of the connection from time to time.

Zebras were crossing the road in Kruger.

Don’t get me wrong. We appreciate being in this beautiful hotel with great food and service, especially with the conscientious efforts to protect all of us from the virus, requiring their staff to live on the premises, unable to leave for months at a time until they are given a two-week break.

(When a staff member returns from their time off, we are only served by those that have been in residence for at least two full weeks, continuing to ensure our safety).

A bloat of hippos at Sunset Dam in Kruger.

Our worst nightmares here would be (beyond exposure to COVID-19 or other health issues) that WiFi service would go down in Mumbai or the hotel. At that point, we’d lose our ability to continue to post, and equally important is our ability to stream shows from the internet to our HDMI cable to the flat-screen TV.

Last night, we had a taste of what that would be like when, for some odd reason, we were unable to stream on Netflix for the first time since we arrived on March 24, 2020.

OK, folks, here’s a new one for you…This is a “bask” of crocodiles!

We were watching season four of the beautiful historical series Reign when the signal dropped repeatedly. I started and re-started my laptop to no avail. For two hours, we continued to attempt to get the show to resume. 

Finally, the later it got, the signal improved. We have to consider the reality that as more time passes, the hotel has more and more guests, mostly business travelers, since this hotel is primarily geared toward business travelers.

As winter continues, there’s less and less green vegetation for the wildlife in Kruger and Marloth Park.

Some domestic flights have resumed in India, although as we’ve mentioned, international travel remains at a standstill. The added domestic travelers have certainly impacted the quality of the WiFi in the evening hours when most will be online. 

Hopefully, we won’t experience this issue in the future.

Stay safe and healthy!

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

A six-year-old photo was posted last year when our photo inventory for Ireland was lacking. Busy preparations surrounded the church in Campanario as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday’s religious festivities. For the post one year ago, please click here.

Day #125 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Cairns Botanical Garden photos from 2015…Two years in the South Pacific…

A beautiful bouquet already made by nature.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 26, 2015, while in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more photos.
Lipstick bamboo.

Starting in June 2015, we spent two years in the South Pacific. In and out of Australia, due to 90-day visa requirements, we had an opportunity to visit many countries and areas in the South Pacific.

These must be a treat for the many birds at the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

We sailed on eight cruises, including one river cruise and a 33-night back-to-back circumvention of the entire Australian continent. It couldn’t have been more wonderful.

At the time, we realized how fortunate we were to have that astounding experience, and now during this lengthy confinement, we appreciate it all the more. Such an adventure in the future will surely elicit a heart-pounding response of sheer delight and enthusiasm.

Orange puffs.

We visited Fiji, Bali, New Zealand, Tasmania, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, and many more, where we stayed from weeks to months savoring every day.

During this period, we stayed in Queensland, Tasmania, and New South Wales, three of Australia’s eight states in such cities as Trinity Beach, Sydney, Fairlight (near Manly Beach), Huon Valley, Penguin, and more. 

We’d seen these Sausage Trees in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park in South Africa. These pods are enormous.

We visited Australia’s bigger cities on the cruises, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Darwin, Gold Coast, and many more cities and some other countries such as New Caledonia.

A pretty waterfall.

The most prolonged stay on the continent was while we lived in Trinity Beach (near Cairns) for a full three months, having an opportunity to drive within a 3-hour radius to further explore on outings we made every week.

Shopping for groceries was especially fun when the fabulous markets had every item we could imagine. We frequented a local wholesale fish market to purchase the delicious, revered Barramundi, caught fresh daily.

According to a friend/reader, this is a Prickly Pear. 

We made our way to various parks and open areas to see wild kangaroos, wombats, and koalas. We rejoiced when spotting the beautiful, bright white cockatoos, friendly kookaburra, and an endless stream of other indigenous birds.

Gecko on a rock at the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

Australia is blessed with some of the most friendly, lively, and animated people on the planet, willing to engage with newcomers like us, and also are always up for a beer, a cook on the “barbie,” and a laugh. 

On the eight cruises, within 24 hours of embarking, we found ourselves easily included in a group of 10 or 12 Aussies who included us with open arms. We made friends, many of whom we are still in touch with now. 

Tom was busy inspecting this huge tree.

Tom was included in the “men’s shed” on several cruises, consisting of Aussie men who did good works, easily laughing over self-deprecating jokes and storytelling. Their motto was, “What happened in the shed, stayed in the shed.” 

Pink beauty.

If the wife wanted to know what transpired in the shed, their response was, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you!” I never questioned what transpired during these two-hour events, usually starting at 3:00 pm, but it always made me smile to know he’d had such a good time.

This was one of my favorites.

While the “boys” were having fun, I often sat with a group of the “partners,” as men (and women) call their spouses or girlfriends, engaged in lively “girl talk,” a welcome change for me. Ah, we certainly miss some of those times and would appreciate them now more than ever.

Easy-to-navigate walkways and occasional steps led to different levels in the gardens.

But, here we are on day #125 in lockdown at The Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, a lovely hotel, alone together, making the best of a very peculiar situation. We are especially grateful we are in this safe environment, and for all the memories we recall when posting past experiences and photos such as these today.

Stay safe.

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

A summer rose in Madeira, Portugal from a repeated post one year ago. Please click here for details.

Day #124 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…What is it really like?…Vultures?…

Classic scene of three vultures on a limb in Kruger National Park. We were thrilled to get this shot from quite a distance. From this site:  Vultures are, however, great ecologists, having a high sense of personal hygiene and are a manifestation of the adage of patience as a virtue. They clean the veld of carrion, thereby minimizing the impact of animal disease, and they bathe regularly in rivers after gorging themselves at a kill.”

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 25, 2018, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more photos.

Now that I’m walking four miles a day (6.5 km) in the corridors, I’m left with plenty of time to think. Playing podcasts on my phone while walking helps create a diversion from over-thinking our current situation.

This appeared to be the most common vulture we spotted, the white-backed vulture. From
 this site: “To watch the interaction of vultures at a kill is like witnessing the unbridled nature of food politics. The Shangaan proverb that translates as ‘where the vultures assemble, there is a kill’ refers to the fact that when people gather together there is always a purpose in mind. The White-backed Vulture is the most common vulture in Kruger. There are approximately 2000 pairs in the Park, concentrated mostly in the dry, lightly wooded grasslands of the east and mopane veld of the north. They are the most gregarious of vultures, often roosting in large communes where they sleep with their heads tucked under their wings. They often soar at great heights during the day and depend on either the Bateleur or other vultures to lead them to a kill.”

Invariably, my over-active brain takes over to find myself in a loop of thoughts blurring any sounds emanating from my phone while my aching legs (due to cardiovascular disease) struggle to keep the pace and accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself. 

I’ve accepted the fact that the best remedy for my condition is walking as often and as much as I can throughout the day. During the opposite times, I’m firmly ensconced in my comfy chair in the hotel room with my laptop on a pillow on my lap.

This vulture appeared to be a different species from the others shown.

Upon arising each hour to walk, my legs feel stiff and almost immobile, but by the time I get my shoes, mask, and earbuds back on, I’m ready to go again and head out the door.

I check the Fitbit stats on my phone to ensure I manage sufficient steps each hour in order to reach my goal by the end of the day. I start at 8:00 and usually end by 3:00 or 4:00 pm.

Walking has been an enormous benefit to both of us, not only for the obvious health reasons, but also as a distraction during these long days and nights. It feels as if this intermittent walking has a greater benefit than if I struggled to accomplish this lofty goal in one fell swoop.

There was little information online to help us identify these vultures. From this site: Vultures fight unashamedly over whatever scraps they can get, and when they descend on the proverbial trough, their grim determination is evident – these birds can consume a kilogram of meat in a minute and strip a carcass within hours.”

Frequently, it’s necessary to maneuver around the cleaning carts, cleaners going in and out of rooms and vacuuming the corridors, and staff walking the halls to and from their various workstations. 

Currently, we are the only guests on this floor and undoubtedly, the longest staying guests in the hotel since the onset of the lockdown on March 24th, the day we arrived. 

By the time we leave here in the months to come, we may be the longest staying guests this hotel has ever hosted. As of July 28th, we’ll begin overstaying our visa, but we’ve attempted to do an extension several times without luck due to issues on their website.

This vulture appeared to be out of a scary movie or nightmare. From friend Ken (thanks, Ken!): This is the Hooded Vulture. They usually turn up on the feast after the Lappet-faced or white backed have torn into the carcass and had their fill. Details: 65 to 75cms high considered small in Vulture terms. The wingspan of 1.7 – 1.8m. From this site: Physically, all vultures appear built for scavenging. They have strong, hooked beaks that can tear a carcass open but unlike other birds of prey, their feet are not suited to catching live animals. The main exception appears to be the Hooded Vulture – as the smallest and most prone to being bullied off a carcass, it has diversified its diet to include termites and small animals such as lizards.”

We’re hoping the statement on their website will be adhered to, which we saved to our phones, stating there will be no issue if we leave within 30 days of the full re-opening of international flights at the Mumbai airport. That may not happen for many more months based on the increasing rates of the virus and resulting deaths.

I’d be going out of my mind with boredom by now if it weren’t for the walking. Since I don’t care to spend all day online, which works for Tom, I’d be climbing the walls as opposed to walking the halls during this extended period.

Obviously, there had been a kill in the area where we spotted these various vultures.

That’s what it’s really like. There’s an abundance of repetition; photos, words, walking, meals, conversations, news, questioning, searching, analyzing, speculating, and escaping into movies and TV series allowing us to stop our thoughts from “doing a number on us.” So far? So good.

Sorry for the redundancy. It’s not easy writing a story each day when there is no news!

Be well.


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

One year ago, while still recovering in Ireland, we hadn’t gone out for several days. Subsequently, we posted five-year-old photos from Madeira. For more details, please click here.

Day #123 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Remembering Vietnam in summer 2016…Mekong River Cruise…

It’s hard to believe that Tom managed to climb out of the tiny opening at Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam. I was concerned he’d be stuck after all the carbs he’d eaten on the two-week cruise.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 
Today’s photos are from July 21 and July 24, 2016, while visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. See the links here and here for more photos.

Amazingly, a human could fit down this tiny hole, especially Tom, who’s considerably larger than Vietnamese people.

Recalling our Viking Mekong River cruise and land tour in July of 2016 seems like a lifetime ago. Then again, many of our outstanding experiences appeared to have occurred so long ago, as we remain in lockdown at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai Airport on day #123.

Tom was sitting at the table in a meeting room bunker with several mannequins with two other passengers standing behind him.

As mentioned earlier, we had started a self-imposed lockdown during our 55-day tour of India on March 12th or thereabouts when we received an email that our cruise out of Mumbai on April 3, 2020, was canceled. 

Two of the Russian MIGs were used by the North Vietnam Air Force.

At that point, we knew we needed to hunker down and avoid any touring that resulted in getting out of the car. In total, we have been in lockdown in hotel rooms for approximately 132 days.

US Huey helicopter.

Good grief! It was only four years ago! The recent tours in India seem a distant memory, let alone the tours in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2016, which we’re highlighting in today’s photos. 

US artillery pieces and two jeeps.

Details, photos, and stories of the fantastic 15-night cruise and tour may be found in our archives for July 2016, including the above-mentioned link referencing the source of today’s repeated photos of the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam. 

US  rocket launchers and cluster bombs.

In any case, it was an extraordinary experience, one we’ll always treasure as our tribute to all the soldiers and civilians that lost their lives in the horrific battle in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and surrounding areas.

Horrifying bamboo spikes in ground booby traps. 

Now, in this horrific battle with COVID-19 in countries throughout the world, we have plenty of time to think about the loss of life, the illness, and the sorrow experienced by millions of people as their lives are touched by this outrageously contagious virus.

Viet Cong surgery bunker.

With no end in sight, we can only wonder how much longer the world will be impacted by this pandemic and how many more lives will be lost or impacted by its path of destruction.

Notice the sweat on Tom’s shirt. He was soaked after crawling through the narrow tunnels. This larger opening was a welcome relief. Some of the tunnels and openings were enlarged for the benefit of tourists.

Yesterday afternoon, our friends Linda and Ken, living in Johannesburg, also currently in lockdown, sent us this article about when international flights may resume in South Africa. It appears we may not be able to travel to the country until January 2021. Of course, this is subject to when India has also resumed international travel.

Tom took this photo while climbing out of a narrow tunnel by turning around after he’d already crawled through this spot.

We are grateful to be safe. Yes, the routine is mundane and repetitive, as is the food and the surroundings. But, we don’t forget for one moment the gift of safety we’ve been blessed to experience during this difficult time.

Occasionally, certain areas were lighted, as shown in this taller section.

There’s no room in our lives for “whinging” or complaining. Each day, we strive for cheerfulness and optimism as we continue to research our options when the time is right. We’re well-informed as to what’s transpiring in the US and many countries throughout the world. We’ll know the moment we can make a move.

The next day, he’s a little stiff and sore, having used muscles he hadn’t used in years but suffered no ill effects. The passengers in our group were cheering him as he entered and exited when few others dared to attempt the challenge.

Please don’t take risks. I listen to podcast news on my phone when I walk the corridors, and over and over again, I hear stories where COVID-19 patients took only one risk after which they acquired the virus; only one time at a  bar, restaurant, or gathering while not wearing a mask.

May you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2019:

One year ago today, we posted five-year ago photos when we hadn’t been out for a few days while in Connemara, Ireland. There are a few sandy beaches on the island of Madeira. Most are rocky such as this. For more, please click here.

Day #122 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago, a fun recipe…Our bread-free submarine sandwich recipe…

It’s essential to wash the dirt off of lettuce. If it is organic, careful rinsing removes dirt and tiny green worms we found on the organic produce in Italy, where we were at the time of these photos. If it’s not organic, careful, repeated rinsing in cold water may remove some pesticides. Usually, we dry it with a clean white kitchen towel or paper towels, wrap the leftover lettuce in the white towel, and place it in the fridge in the towel, which will keep it fresh for days. For the recipe below, wash and dry eight large romaine lettuce leaves. Usually, the giant leaves are closest to the outside of the bunch.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 23, 2013, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more photos.

Slice fresh tomatoes, purple (or yellow) onions as you prep for making the sandwich.

When I noticed the post from seven years ago today, while living high in the mountains of Tuscany, I couldn’t help but smile when we saw it consisted of the step-by-step instructions for making one of our favorite meals, the bread-free submarine sandwich.

This sliced Emmental cheese or sliced Provolone cheese seems to add the most flavor to the sandwich. Try to avoid using overly processed American or cheddar cheese. There is no yellow/orange cheddar cheese in Italy since they don’t use dye to color it.

With only two or three grams of carbohydrates per sandwich, this is an ideal meal along with low-carb coleslaw or green salad for a fun dinner, almost feeling like a delightful carry-out or a takeaway meal for movie night.

Place the meats on a plate in preparation for assembling the sandwich. This mayonnaise was the best mayo we’d ever used, with no chemicals, few ingredients. 

Seeing the process of making this bread-free sandwich makes our mouths water. Wouldn’t we love one of these for tonight’s dinner, along with a big bowl of fresh, crunchy low-carb coleslaw?

On the days we made the sandwiches, we usually had bacon and eggs for breakfast, made extra bacon for the sandwiches, refrigerated until we assembled the sandwiches.

One may ask, this looks easy enough to make. Why couldn’t we put it together in our hotel room, when we have a small refrigerator? Most likely, we’d have trouble finding the meats, cheeses, and parchment paper online. Then there would be the concern over using undrinkable water to wash the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Too much trouble at this point.

Parchment paper is readily available at any grocery store. We used it almost every day to cover the bottom of any pan going into the oven (don’t use it on top of the stove) to reduce the cleanup and ease in getting the food, such as pizza, out of the pan. It’s excellent for baking, but one must not use it over 375 degrees, or it may burn. Do not use it when broiling. If you eat potatoes or sweet potatoes, parchment is ideal for making oven fries. Toss pre-cut potatoes with olive oil and salt and place in a preheated oven to (190C), 375F, baking for 30 minutes or until brown, tossing every so often. Best fries ever. For this sandwich recipe, we cut two pieces of about (75 cm) 30 inches each to wrap the ingredients as one would wrap a tortilla.

We haven’t prepared a meal in six months. Also, we have no space to put it all together. It’s simply not practical at this time. We’ll wait until we’re situated in a holiday home somewhere in the world and can make the process fun, as will be the case when we finally have the opportunity to prepare some of our other favorite meals.

To begin making the sandwich, lay two large romaine lettuce leaves, overlapping, end to end, centered in the parchment paper, the long way. Be sure the lettuce is dry to avoid a soggy mess later.

Tom is chomping at the bit for some beef and pork (although we can order bacon), which has not been on my mind quite as much as his. More so, I’ve been thinking about fish, salads, and delicious one-pot dishes we’ve loved over the years. A glass of wine would be nice, too.

Place the turkey or chicken slices atop the lettuce, cover with tomatoes. It’s OK to add more if you’d like.  We prefer this smaller amount.

This recipe isn’t only for those avoiding bread, carbs, or starches. It’s so tasty. It would appeal to any family members or singles who enjoy eating a wrap, in this case, a pseudo-wrap.

Place the cheese atop the tomatoes adding the mayonnaise using the spatula or broad knife.

Also, if one prefers, they can use the simple ingredients inside a jumbo tortilla wrap of any other type of round or oval sandwich wrap. Two critical elements are the bacon, cooked well, and a good quality mayonnaise, slathered on as shown in today’s photos.

Ham slices in Italy are different than deli ham slices in other countries, more fatty with no nitrates, but less flavorful than ham slices in the US. One can add or delete any items in this sandwich. But, the most essential things for maximum flavor are bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise. Sliced roast beef also works well when available. We would have purchased roast beef in Italy but, it was INR 3139, US $42 a pound, so we were content with the ham and sliced chicken.

A few of our readers wrote last time we posted this recipe was, “Can these “subway sandwiches” be made in advance, and will they keep overnight?”

Layer the cooked bacon and onion slices.

As with any sandwich, they aren’t as great the next day. But, if you leave out the tomato and lettuce, they’ll keep for three days. Unfortunately, the sandwich will have to be fully unwrapped to add the tomato and lettuce a few days later, but wrapping the parchment paper is easy if wrapped tightly. Unwrap, add the tomatoes and lettuce, and then re-wrap the parchment using the same parchment paper.

After layering all the ingredients, lay two more dry pieces of the romaine lettuce atop, matching up the length of the sandwich to avoid a lot of overlap on the ends.

Is the parchment paper a must? Can you use waxed paper or tin foil? Preferably not since the waxed paper doesn’t hold it together, and tin foil is OK only if used to additionally wrap a parchment-wrapped sandwich for added insulation.

Please fold the paper over the sandwich on edge closest to you, beginning to roll it tightly. Re-wrap it if it’s not tight enough. After a few times, you’ll get the hang of it.

As mentioned in the previous post on this date in 2013, we started making these after visiting a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop before we left the US and were delighted to eat their version of the bread-free sandwich, the “Unwich.” 

Tuck one end over as if you were gift-wrapping a package.

If you live near a Jimmy John’s store, you can avoid the fuss and buy from them. But, our version is much heartier, more filling, and tastier than the fast-food version. 

While in the US, we purchased the meats from Costco since they sell gluten-free, sugar-free, and nitrate-free meats. Surprisingly, we’ve had no trouble finding such meats in other parts of the world. 

Continue to roll it tightly, tucking in both ends, leaving one end loose for unwrapping it as it is eaten. Using a few well-placed wide rubber bands helps those who may have difficulty pulling the paper down neatly.

If sliced, good-quality deli meats aren’t available in your area, you can use leftover thinly sliced roast beef, chicken breast, and lean ham, removing all fat from the edges of the slices. 

The only countries we haven’t been able to get bacon have been those that don’t sell pork due to religious beliefs. We didn’t make these sandwiches in those countries since bacon is such a vital ingredient for the superb flavor.

The final product, tightly wrapped, ready to chill, and enjoy with a side salad.

Here’s the list of ingredients (for two to three sandwiches):

Jess & Tom’s Unwich Sandwiches
One large ripe tomato, sliced medium thickness
One large purple onion, thinly sliced 
8-12 large washed and thoroughly dried romaine lettuce leaves
Four slices Provolone cheese (or other preferred sliced cheese)
6 ounces sliced deli ham
6 ounces sliced deli turkey or chicken
6 ounces sliced roast beef or other preferred sliced meat
Six slices of cooked bacon
Mayonnaise (Tom doesn’t like mayo but in this sandwich, he does. Give it a try or use another sandwich spread you prefer).
Parchment paper, cut into two 30′ long pieces.

If two sandwiches are made from this list of ingredients, they will be huge. I often eat half of one for dinner and the second half the next day, not minding the somewhat soggy tomato and lettuce.

For us, we prepare sufficiently sized meals to last three dinners, enabling us to cook less often. In those cases, we triple these ingredients and make up a fresh sandwich each evening. We place all the meats in a Tupperware-type container with a lid, and they easily keep for three days.

We can’t wait to prepare our meals again!


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

Cattle along the driveway from our house in Connemara, Ireland, could have been a mom, dad, and calves. For more photos, please click here.

Day #121 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Recalling the morphology of the banana tree…A fascinating process..

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

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 
Today’s photos are from July 22, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

After more research, we discovered the following statement on India’s visa site as follows:

Vide MHA O.M. No. 25022/24/2020-F.V/F.I(Pt.) dated 29.06.2020. In respect of foreign nationals whose Regular Visa or e-Visa or stay stipulation period is expiring post 30.06.2020, such Regular Visa or e-Visa or stay stipulation period shall be deemed to be valid until 30 more days from the date of resumption of normal international flight operations on ‘GRATIS’ basis without levy of overstay penalty.”

The “inflorescence” continued to grow, changing before our eyes.
We took a photo of this statement on my phone. We will present it at the airport if any issues arise when we attempt to leave the country within 30 days after normal international flight operations in India. In other words, we need to hightail it out of India within that period.
That will give us enough time to decide which will be the best country to visit to allow us to enter and stay for 90-days or more. With COVID-19, we prefer to fly to as few airports as possible during the journey, wherever that may be.
“The inflorescence is a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits.” The hanging pink and yellowish protrusions are the flowers. Mother Nature is amazing!
For now, we sit back and wait for the 30-day ticker to begin when India opens its airports to normal international operations. We are OK with this prospect, feeling confident we’ll find a country to accept us somewhere in the world.

We’re back to our former status quo of watching news reports, the stats in India, and other countries, all the while wondering when the international airport will resume operations.

As days turned into weeks, the inflorescence changed dramatically.

Not much new is transpiring right now. My sister Susan, in hospice care in Las Vegas, Nevada, is in stable condition at the moment. I’ve been able to have a few good conversations with her when she seemed clearer and more lucid. I usually call her after 10:00 pm here when it’s morning in Nevada, which seems better for her than in the evening.

The 12½ hour time difference makes it tricky to reach family members at suitable times of the day or night. When I call at night, I miss my “sleepiness” signal at around 10:30 pm and end up having an awful time falling asleep after an emotional and stimulating conversation. 

One morning I noticed that the stalk, the rachis, had dropped partially out of view behind withering leaves.

After talking to Julie last night, I never fell asleep until after 1:00 am. Recently, I’ve started the equivalent of counting sheep, counting backward from 100. I may begin to over two or three times when I get down to 80, but this seems to calm down my over-active brain.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2014 while we were living on the island of Madeira in 2014. I should mention, I keep jumping back and forth to different countries and periods, based on the quality of photos from “this date” so many years ago. 

After a few weeks of rain, when we didn’t walk the hills, this small bunch of bananas appeared as nourished from the remainder of the plant and its fantastical elements. It’s easy to revel in how complex and exciting Life is all around us.

While in Madeira on this date, we’d shared photos taken over two months on the “morphology” of the banana plant as we walked each day in the neighborhood on the steep hills in Campanario to observe a particular plant. It was fascinating to watch the evolution of the plant to end a big beautiful bunch of bananas finally.

Here’s a link with a scientific description of the morphology of the banana plant, which we found interesting. In our world travels, we search for any forms of life that appeal to our senses, whether animal, vegetation, scenery, or culture.

I hope you enjoy these repeated photos from 2014 and perhaps think about it next time you peel and eat a banana.

Happy day!

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

A sailing regatta near Roundstone at dusk in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.