Day #222 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 8 year world travel anniversary…Happy Halloween!!!

This affectionate camel leaned on his owner’s shoulder when I approached.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya, when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our first anniversary of world travel. See the link here.

Here we are, eight years from the date we first left Minnesota to begin our year-long journey to see the world. Most years, we’ve celebrated this anniversary with more enthusiasm than we ever celebrated our wedding anniversary or the day we met in 1991.

Camels were walking along the beach along the Indian Ocean.

For us, this anniversary lumps the other anniversaries into one particular day on Halloween, October 31, wherever we may be in the world at the time. That’s not to say we ignore our other anniversaries. Still, this one signifies our “freedom” in retirement, to see the world on our terms, visiting those places that most appeal to our senses, rather than some preconceived notion of where one “should” go while touring the world.

And we’ve continued to experience life on our terms except for the past 7½ months when we’ve been in lockdown in Mumbai, India, waiting for international flights to resume. Hopefully, soon that will change, and we’ll be able to be on our way once again. As for any potential celebration of today’s anniversary, life will continue as it has over the past months. There isn’t a lot more we can do.

Tom spotted them coming and alerted me to grab the camera. I ran like crazy to catch up with them to take these photos. The cost for a ride, up for negotiation, was Kenya Shillings $2000 each, US $23.56 for two. 

Sure, we could have dinner in the dining room, but the menu is still the same, and we wouldn’t order anything different from what we’ve been eating. Tom, like me, is trying to lose the weight he’s gained, and neither of us sees a reason to change for a day.

Nor are we interested in drinking alcohol when we haven’t had a drink in over seven months, which would most likely result in not feeling so well. When we move to our following location and have a chance to socialize, we can ease our way back into a happy hour event, here again on our terms.

The pristine beach, the delicate, clean sand of the Indian Ocean made for a pleasant walk on the beach after 4:00 pm yesterday, as the day cooled.

We are allowed to leave the hotel now, but with the streets packed with people not wearing masks and social distancing, and with India in the #2 spot in the world with the most COVID-19, behind the USA, we feel it’s too risky. Mumbai has the highest number of cases anywhere in the entire country. Also, the smog and the traffic are unbearable, typical for big cities in India.

I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. You can see my shadow as I’m taking the photo.

I must admit I experienced some angst going out to the two ATMs two weeks ago today to get cash to pay for the package we finally received after a three-month delay. Tom has a hard time understanding the Indian accent with his hearing loss from years on the railroad. I always handle all communications with the people of India who do possess a strong accent, some of whom speak little English.

So, today? Nothing special other than our commitment to each other, to waiting out the time international flights resume, to our dedication to improving our health through regular exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, and positive thoughts, and our unstoppable passion for continuing in our travels, for hopefully, years to come.

Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. We were walking on the beach on the day of our first travel anniversary in 2013. I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf. Gosh, it would be nice to be tan now, getting regular doses of Vitamin D. Instead, we take supplements.

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate, and good day to all!

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

 With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from that date, please click here.

Day #221 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Kenya anniversary holiday, seven years ago…

A morning view of our tucked-away ocean cottage at The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya, when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our first anniversary of world travel. Tomorrow is our eighth anniversary of embarking on our world journey. For more from this date, please click here.

The restaurant has opened in the hotel. If we so chose, we may now dine there. As we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, sitting in our comfy chairs in our hotel room, with trays on our laps, I doubt we’ll change our routine. I think this may be the case for the duration, for however long that may be.

Finally, we were able to take photos of the elusive Colobus Monkey. Note the long sideburns. 

What a fantastic three-night stay at The Sands at Nomad Resort! They treated us like royalty, knowing we’d be documenting our entirely unnecessary experiences. Today’s photos bring back many pleasant memories, which bring a smile to our faces during this challenging time.

Many times we ask for special pricing for several reasons:

  1. We’ll be promoting the business, not only while we’re on the premises, but also for years to come via our website
  2. In most cases, we’ll be staying longer than most guests
  3. We have acquired a five-star rating as renters from past property owners and property managers
Another Colobus with the long swatches of hair. Not all of them had these particular markings.

As in the case of those mentioned above short three-night stay, our special pricing included a discount of 30% off the regular room rates. We were happy with that at the time. But, now, after researching online, their prices have increased by 40%. Today, their room rates range from a low of US $329, INR 24551, to a high of US $418, INR 31192, per night. Such prices would be beyond our reach if we could return to Kenya anytime soon.

We had such a good time during those three days. During our three months in Kenya, other than the apprehension we felt for our safety due to high crime risks, Our favorite restaurant, Sails, which we visited many Saturday nights, was bombed by terrorists a month after leaving.

After returning from the pool where the umbrellas provided too much shade, Tom did a quick 20 minutes in the sun on one of the chaise lounges in our front yard.

We were ill-advised about renting a car while in Kenya, even in the more upscale area of Diani Beach, due to the high risk of carjackings. Instead, our landlord provided us with the name of a reliable local man who drove us everywhere. Based on these facts we didn’t go sightseeing as much as we have in other countries.

It was while we were in Kenya that the horrific attack transpired at a shopping mall in Nairobi. Even at the grocery store, the taxi was searched by military staff carrying rifles, and we were searched upon entering the market or the phone store where we purchased data. Military personnel was stationed at every ATM.

The chaise lounges at our ocean cottage, where fresh towels are delivered each day.

Our family members and many friends/readers contacted us to ensure we were ok. But, Diani Beach is an almost 10-hour drive from Nairobi. The fact our house and the owner’s house next door were guarded by two guards in two 12-hour shifts seven days a week provided us with a modicum of peace of mind, especially at night.

We had a red emergency button next to our bed, and the windows throughout the house had steel bars on all windows. At night, we had to close the windows due to the mosquitos and other insects when there were no screens on the windows. The house became a hotbox during the night with only a slow-moving ceiling fan over the bed.

Early this morning as we left our cottage for breakfast in the main restaurant.

Why did we go to Kenya? To be able to visit the Maasai Mara for our first safari experiences. But, we are grateful for the time we had in Kenya, which toughened us up. The fantastic local people we met, who were warm and kind, and the rich cultural experiences were presented to us in one way or another, day after day.

Kenya is now open for tourists, and occasionally, there are a few odd flights out of Mumbai. But, based on the above scenarios, neither of us feels it makes sense to return at this time. We long for the freedom of movement, driving, shopping, and dining out, all of which will be possible when and if we can return to Marloth Park, South Africa.

A sunny view from our veranda to the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa have very high crime rates, as shown here:

Countries with the Highest Crime Rates (from this site)

The countries with the ten highest crime rates in the world are:

  1. Venezuela (84.36)
  2. Papua New Guinea (80.04)
  3. South Africa (77.29)
  4. Afghanistan (76.97)
  5. Honduras (76.65)
  6. Trinidad and Tobago (72.43)
  7. Brazil (68.31)
  8. Guyana (68.15)
  9. El Salvador (67.84)
  10. Syria (67.42)

Marloth Park, in itself, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, has its share of crime from time to time, mainly burglaries of the bush homes, occupied by both locals or tourists. Let’s face it, many cities in the US are not safe right now either.

This adorable cat came to visit daily as we sat on the veranda of our beach cottage.

The bottom line is, “you can run, but you can’t hide.” Of course, with COVID-19, that becomes another consideration for which countries will accept us and their subsequent restrictions for US citizens and those arriving from India. In time, it will all come to fruition, won’t it?

Be well.

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

Bartenders are performing tricks at the Ice Bar on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

Day #220 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 3000th post!!!…

Within the first half-hour in our cottage, unpacked, dressed in our swimsuits, this monkey stopped by for a visit outside the window of our indoor living room. Most likely, a possible Sykes Monkey knows there is a welcome fruit plate given to new guests. Providing food to the monkeys is a bad idea, reducing their interest in foraging for their food, which is plentiful here. We had no trouble resisting the temptation.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya, when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our first anniversary of world travel. For more from this date, please click here.

This was the beach in front of our cottage.

Yep, today’s post is #3000, after beginning to post on March 15, 2012! With our eighth world travel anniversary upcoming on October 31, 2020, we knew this would transpire close to this year’s anniversary date. We’re only two days off.

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. They have become used to humans at the resorts.

If years ago, I’d been asked to write a daily essay or letter generally focused around one topic: two senior citizens traveling the world without a home anywhere in the world, without storage, while living on a strict budget, I’d have stated that I couldn’t have done it.

This pool bar was open 24-hours a day for the middle of the night drinkers.

But, here we are. As our regular readers know, we’re anxious to carry on. Still, we are entirely subject to borders opening for US citizens and recent occupants of India, the two countries with the highest numbers of cases, a double whammy for us.] We’re primed and ready for the next 3000 posts, providing our good mutual health, and that COVID-19 is sufficiently tempered at some point, enabling the freedom of world travel.

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort, we were welcomed with flower leis and orange mango juice. (I politely declined, but Tom enjoyed his).

Now, as I continue to edit historical posts, working from the oldest to the newest, I’ve only made my way through the first two years, with six more to go. I’ve accepted that this is a long and detailed process. But, as time marches on anyway, I’ll eventually get this task knocked off in our less than desirable situation.

The sun is so close to the equator that it is scorching. We spent two hours by the pool with only 20 minutes in the sun. The remainder of the time, it was comfortable in the padded lounge chairs under the shade of a giant umbrella.

As for today’s photos, we couldn’t help but smile over these shots taken on the first day of a three-day holiday/vacation within our holiday/vacation-type lifestyle to celebrate our first year on world travel. We had a fantastic experience, as our photos will indicate over the next few days, as we repeat them through our anniversary date in two days.

The window to our view of the ocean. 

No, we won’t be doing much celebrating for this year, #8. We discussed ordering drinks, which are now available for room service. But as we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, neither of us is interested in drinking cocktails in our hotel room. We have never been. Also, it’s been seven months since we’ve each had a drink. It just wouldn’t feel like the right time to imbibe. We’ll save that for a time we can be with friends, hopefully, down the road in Marloth Park.

Our new living area with comfortable furniture and a TV!  With no indoor living room in our three-month holiday home, this was a treat!

However, seven years ago, we celebrated in a big way during our stay at the luxury resort, The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya. We’d arranged special pricing with the exquisite resort as we often do, based on our agreement to write detailed posts about the resort while there, providing them with a new source of marketing through our substantial worldwide readership. It was a win-win for all of us.

Tom, catching a few rays in the scorching sun. Not too much, though. We’ve seldom lounged in the sun these past five months for our former “usual one hour” since arriving in Italy on June 16th due to the bees and flies. In Kenya, the only sunny areas are directly on the grass, where the likelihood of a bee sting is greater. (Both of us are seriously allergic to hornets, certain bees, and wasps. A bite can be life-threatening, which undoubtedly attributes to my skittishness of being around biting insects. More than once, I’ve been rushed to an emergency room as a result of a sting. Tom’s only been stung once but also had to go to a hospital for treatment. Thus, our excessive caution).

As shown in these photos, we were booked into one of the luxurious oceanfront thatched-roof huts and couldn’t have been more pleased with the accommodations, food, drinks, service, and scenery. Please check back in the next few days for more photos.

As for today, it’s business as usual. Of course, we check daily to see if flights and borders are open for travel for us, and at this time, it’s not looking good. It’s entirely possible we could be here for another six months. We’re trying hard to accept this reality.

Lounge, with WiFi and a reading area. The WiFi was high-speed at no charge, which we found to be the best connection we’ve had in Kenya thus far. Thank you, The Sands at Nomad.

We hope you all are managing to accept the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 in your area wherever you may be and being diligent to avoid contracting the virus by making good choices every day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with post #3001!

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

Pumpkins and Halloween decor decorate the grand staircase. For more photos, please click here.

Day #219 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Living large, living small, living in the moment…

We could only imagine how beautiful our photos would have been on a sunny day, which had started bright and clear, turning to rain shortly after we left. We still had a fabulous day! That’s life in the tropics.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji. For more from this date, please click here.

Today’s heading above, “Living large, living small, living in the moment” from this date in 2015, prompted me to use it once again, five years later. Could it ever be more appropriate than now?

Our then home in Savusavu was located approximately 1/3 of the way in from the point in this photo. 

In that post, so long ago, I wrote:

“We try to live in the moment. Overall, we’re good at it. Today, a bright, sunny day with clear blue skies makes it nearly impossible to do otherwise. We’re in Fiji, which we discussed many times as we planned our travels when tropical island holidays came to mind.

In this meaningful life, in the big world, each day, we strive to live “small,” wrapped up in the trivialities of our every day. We appreciate the call of a mating bird, a determined crowing rooster, an annoyed mooing cow, or the stuttered baa we often hear from a lonely kid goat.

The point, close to the home in Savusavu, from across the bay.

We watch the cruise ships, large and small, waft by each day in our magnificent ocean view. Often at night, with their lights bright, we easily imagine the festivities and lively banter occurring on deck, knowing in a little over two months, we’ll be doing the same.

When we think of the future, it’s hard not to speculate, anticipate, and become outrageously excited, knowing full well what lies ahead of us. Even after we’ve visited each continent, there will be so much left to see: the Northern Lights from Norway, a Baltic cruise, the Black Sea, more river cruises, the USA and Canada, and countries throughout the world we’ll have yet to see.”

We passed several small villages while sightseeing.

And now, while here during this ongoing lockdown in Mumbai, India, certainly not as scenic and culturally interesting as Fiji, and yet, there still are moments we find ourselves stopping to treasure a small thing; a bird alighting on our window sill and singing a song; the fireworks on the eve of a Hindu holiday celebration; the kindness of a staff member; and often, the caring and thoughtful messages from our readers from all over the world.

As for “living large,” this is not that time. If any of us stopped relishing “living in the moment,” life would have little meaning. Perhaps in years to come (if we are so blessed), telling this peculiar story to strangers on a cruise ship, or that we meet somewhere along the way, will find us feeling grateful for this life experience and how it may have changed or enriched us in one way or another.

Cows are always curious, and we laughed when this grazing cow picked up her head to check us out.

Every day, I stop my mind from spinning to appreciate that as hard as this may be, I am alive; where had I not had emergency open-heart surgery 20 months ago, I may not be here today to tell this story. If, at the time, I was offered a choice of life, living in a hotel room for a year with my love and companion Tom or, death, most certainly, I’d have chosen the hotel room. There is much to be grateful for.

So, perhaps, this time is all about “living small,” knowing that tonight, after eating dinner on our laps, we’ll watch three more episodes of The Walking Dead (we’re now wrapping up season five). Last night, we laughed out loud, saying how grateful we are to be stuck in this room and not fighting zombies due to that type of pandemic.

It was raining when we stopped to take photos of these fish ponds.

A cup of coffee or tea, a meal prepared exactly as expected, a hearty chuckle from a podcast, or the glint in our eyes when we look at one another, knowing full well, someday, this small existence will change and once again we’ll have the opportunity to “live largely.”

Stay healthy, dear readers, as we all look forward to the future while we continue to strive to “live in the moment.”

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

The digital 3D presentation on our table and plates at Qsine Restaurant aboard the ship. What a delightful experience. The tabletop is a plain white blank canvas, making such colorful presentations possible. For more photos, please click here.

Day #218 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…I walked India…Beating a myth…

I received this message from Fitbit that I've earned my India walking badge.

Much to my surprise and delight, I received this message from Fitbit. (Please excuse the sound enhancer bar, which is impossible to avoid when performing a screen print on a Google Pixel phone).

Today, there are no past photos based on the content of our story. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more photos.

Today, our main photo is from an email I received yesterday from Fitbit that presented me with a “badge,” which is merely a motivation booster, not necessarily of any particular value. Since I’m already reasonably motivated, such a token holds little value to me, but it does give me a better perspective of how much I’ve walked since we arrived in India at the end of January 2020.

During our one-week train tour on the Maharajas Express, we stopped each day at the equivalent of “ports of call” and walked short distances, never more than 10 or 15 minutes from the train station at the time. When we began our private tour at the end of the train journey, we walked, but never more than one or two kilometers each day

From February 2, when the train tour began until the lockdown started, the numbers looked as follows:

Totals from February 2 to March 24, 2020, while on time in India:

  • 309,404 steps
  • 1844 floors
  • 129.87 miles, 209 km
  • 92,903 calories

Totals from March 24, 2020, to October 26, 2020, while living in the hotel in Mumbai:

  • 1,423,197 steps
  • 11 floors
  • 630.7 miles
  • 363,164 calories

The balance of the 1997 miles mentioned above, 3214 km, of 1867 miles, 3005 km, was done here in this hotel since March 24, 2020, the day lockdown began, and we arrived at this Marriott Hotel. This averages 8.6 miles, 14 km, per day. Of course, this includes walking around our room and heading to the lobby to pay the hotel bills as they become due.

Ironically, while I’ve been working on losing the weight I’d gained while on all those heart medications 18 months ago, the past two months, I’ve lost 20 pounds, 9.07 kg, with only five more pounds, 2.27 kg to go. I didn’t lose an ounce while walking the corridors all these months before reducing my carb intake.

If the “calories in/calories out” hypothesis were correct, this amount of walking would have resulted in a weight loss of 35 pounds, 16 kg, as described below:

My average calories consumed each day, 1500 x 217 days (not counting today), would equal 327,000 calories, which I deducted from the total calories burned at 456,067 for a total of 129,067, divided by an average of 3600 calories to lose one pound, I would have lost 35 pounds, 16 kg, from walking. In reality, But, instead, I’d gained weight while eating the high-carb red sauces I was consuming for the first six months in this hotel, even while walking all along.

Working out most of my adult life always confirmed that intense exercise doesn’t result in long-term weight loss. It boils down to what we put in our mouths, proven further to me by this current scenario.

Once I lose this final few pounds, I will slightly increase my calorie intake to maintain rather than continue to fail. I must admit this has been easy for me. With no refrigerator or cupboards packed with nuts and cheese for snacking between meals, I’ve managed to deal with an occasional desire for a snack. The weight has fallen off. I feel good and couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve yet to start trying on my old clothes but will do so once I’ve finished losing, which should be in the next three weeks.

Then I can begin collecting a pile of clothing to donate the larger-sized “Heidi” clothes (clothes to hide excess weight) and trim down my luggage to the bare minimum. My legs don’t hurt as much while walking (due to less inflammation from carb intake), which hopefully will continue to improve over the next month or two. This has been a good thing for my health.

So there is my story, folks. Please feel free to comment or ask questions if you are curious for more information.

Have a great day!

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

The digital Le Petit Chef appeared on our plates during dinner in a specialty restaurant on the ship, dragging a digital lobster onto the plate in preparation for serving the bouillabaisse. For a video and more photos, please click here.

Day #217 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fireworks last night!…Will we ever cruise again?…

Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji, continuing our past two posts from our visit to the Vuodomo Waterfalls. For more from this date, please click here.

Last night, while watching The Walking Dead, around 10:00 pm, we heard several loud blasts. Jumping up, Tom looked out the window, not expecting to see much from our poor view of an industrial/construction area. But, we were surprised when he saw a distant flash of fireworks.

Vuadomo Waterfall was more significant than it appears in these photos.

Indian people, predominantly Hindu, celebrate several holidays with fireworks. We’re a little surprised fireworks are allowed based on air pollution in India. But the devout Hindu citizens continue to incorporate the light show celebrating several holidays.

Yesterday was Dussera, described as follows:

“Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal by Hindus worldwide on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar.”

We didn’t see any other tourists walking to or from the falls.

Soon, on November 14, the five-day celebration of Dawali will commence, which is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu faith. At that time, we’ll share more information on this sacred celebration. We’ve been living in many countries throughout the world when these holidays have been celebrated, and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication exhibited by the Hindu devotees during these celebratory periods.

On another note, over the past week, both Tom and I have stumbled across numerous articles about the cruise industry and what to expect for the future. For us, our cruising days may be over when we consider the primary reason we enjoyed cruising so much was the opportunity to socialize.

An orchid was growing in the rainforest.

Sure, we enjoyed the ambiance, seeing many ports of call, the festive activities. However, everything will be different from now on, eliminating our desire to continue to cruise during times of COVID-19. If this virus and the extreme precautions are eliminated, we will consider cruising once again.

Yesterday, the CDC issued this warning at this link:

“CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships. Because of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the US government is advising US travelers to defer all cruise travel.”

The creek on the return walk.

Here is a list of some of the precautions cruise lines will strictly adhere to on future cruises from this site:

  • Passengers are to be tested for COVID-19 between five days and 24 hours before sailing. Those testing positive would not be allowed to cruise.  OK, this makes sense.
  • Passengers to wear cloth face coverings or masks on ships in accordance with CDC recommendations. This would require passengers to wear masks at all times during the cruise. The thought of wearing a mask non-stop for one or two weeks or longer, other than in our cabin, is unappealing.
  • Cruise lines only allow indoor excursions during port stops if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented. What about the cramped vans and buses transporting passengers from the ship to the point of interest? From what we’ve read so far, self-arranged tours will no longer be allowed. Only those costly tours offered through the ship will be possible. If a passenger goes off on their own, they won’t be allowed to return to the ship and will forfeit the balance of the cruise.
  • Cruise lines to modify onboard facilities so passengers can remain socially distanced in accordance with CDC recommendations (at least six-foot separation). This includes during dining and priority club free drink periods, which was our primary means of socializing.
  • Daily temperature checks for all passengers. Fine, we don’t mind this.
  • Tima and Rasnesh, long-time friends, after many hikes with tourists to the waterfall.

As you can see, these requirements eliminate all of our reasons for cruising. Instead, we’ll continue to enjoy possible future holiday homes in locations we find desirable, on or near the ocean, and in cultural and wildlife-rich areas. Only time will tell when we can pick up where we left off, with the thought in mind that cruising may not be a part of our means of transportation from one part of the world to another or a means of meeting new people along the way. Disappointing, for sure.

Stay healthy.

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

There was no post one year ago on this date due to a poor WiFi signal on the ship.

Day #216 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…I didn’t feel like it today…

This time of year in the South Pacific, papaya is ripening and ready for consumption as it turns yellow.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji, a continuation from yesterday’s post on our visit to the Vuadomo Waterfalls. For more from this date, please click here.

This morning upon awakening, I scoured my mind for today’s topic for this post. My mind was blank for the first time in almost 3000 posts (in a few days, we’ll reach 3000). Would it be surprising that on day #216 in lockdown in a hotel in India, that I could conceivably run out of topics? We don’t go anywhere. We don’t do anything, 7.2 months later.

Typically in rainforests, we’ve observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima, our guide to the waterfall, spotted this caterpillar we’d easily have missed.

We don’t even venture outdoors when there’s nowhere to sit in the sun for some Vitamin D. The pool area is still closed. Thank goodness we’re taking supplements in the hope of combating this reality. We aren’t sightseeing or even entering other hotel locations that may offer some points of interest, artwork, or design.

We don’t discuss politics or politically motivated or impacted topics. We don’t discuss our religious beliefs, sex, or emotional trials. We may have time to time. Avoidance of these delicate topics leaves only the harsh realities of our current lifestyle, stuck in this average-sized single hotel room without a view.

A short wooden ramp of three logs led to the stone path. When we ventured across those three logs, I expected a wobbly hike once we were on the rocks. Tima and Rasnesh, our driver in Savusavu, waited for us while we loaded an extra battery into the camera.

We’ve been grateful to have a plethora of old photos to share and snippets of the stories that precipitated the taking of these included photos. No words can express how helpful those photos have been in providing fodder for our daily posts. Perhaps, it’s exceedingly repetitious to our loyal readers, leaving us in awe of how and why people continue to return day after day to see what we have to say and share. Thank you for this. Without all of you, we’d be in even a worse pickle.

Oh, yes, we stream some shows we mention from time to time. Son, Richard in Nevada recommended The Walking Dead with its ten seasons with 115 episodes. We despised stories about zombies. We now love The Walking Dead and look forward to continuing binge-watching it, night after night.

These tony chilies are often for sale at the Farmer’s Market. 

In the late afternoons, we binge-watch Hannibal, another gory, bloody TV series, keeping us entertained for a few more hours each day. We’ve already gone through so many series with less blood and guts. We’re almost done with Big Brother All-Stars on CBS All Access, for which we had to buy a month-to-month subscription. Even that has become dull. We’ll cancel that service as soon as the series ends.

We miss shows like Schitt”s Creek (Netflix), The Americans (Amazon Prime, The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime), and many more we’ve already forgotten. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them our way. We prefer TV series with lots of seasons/episodes over those with only one or two seasons, leaving us with cliffhangers, never knowing if they’ll ever return in light of COVID-19.

The grass was wet here, making it essential to fit our feet onto the individual stone steps.

We were excited to read that the popular series, Dexter (Showtime), is returning for yet another season in 2021. That was my favorite, all-time TV series. Tom’s favorite may have been Hell on Wheels (Amazon Prime), but we each enjoyed each other’s favorites. We’ve made a pact to ensure we both like all shows we binge-watch. Otherwise, it would be pretty tough to get through 100 episodes of any series.

The only TV shows we keep on the TV here in the background in the morning in the Russian Network (RT), which is spoken in English with news from around the world. During the day, while working on our laptops, we keep the TV on, muted, to channel 509, Nat Geo Wild, so we can get wildlife fixed each time we look at the screen. We often point out memorable scenes to one another when we happen to look up from our laptops.

Still, at quite a distance, we gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall, which is much larger than it appears in this photo.

Besides posting, correcting old posts, and managing finances, I spend little time on my laptop. Tom listens to his podcast, Garage Logic, as mentioned a few days ago in this post. He also continues with his extensive research on and other historical sites of interest to him. From time to time, he checks out Facebook, which I don’t do much other than to post a link to our most current post, see what’s happening with family and friends, and of course, in Marloth Park.

Ah, look here!! I made it through today’s post without spending too much time wracking my brain.

Rushing waters in the creek below the waterfall.

Have a pleasant weekend!

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

The first morning’s Cruise Critic meeting was held in the Sky Lounge on deck 14. For more photos, please click here.

Day #215 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Cultural experiences in remote Fiji…Kava?…

A pig and a few ducks were living off the land and sea in Vuodomo, Fiji.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji. For more from this date, please click here.

It’s hard to believe it was five years ago today that we visited Vuodomo Falls on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji, while living in the highly cultured and fascinating village of Savusavu. During our entire three-month stay in a bit of house overlooking the ocean, we may have seen a total of 10 Caucasians in this less-often visited holiday/vacation spot for most travelers.

Handmade ladder outside of a villager’s house. We speculated this ladder is shared from house to house as needed.

On occasion, we’d see a couple or two, often sailors who anchored their sailboats near Nawai Island at the Waitui Marina, a common spot for world-travel sailors to stop to restock supplies. Often, they may have been sorely disappointed when there was only one food aisle in the small market (of three aisles) with few non-perishable food items. But they, like us, may have shopped at the meat market and the huge farmer’s market, open daily, packed with farmers offering their organic vegetables and fruit.

Every day during our three months in the village presented new cultural experiences different from any we’d experienced in our prior years of world travel. One of our favorite outings was visiting the tiny village of Vuodomo to see the exquisite waterfalls.

Handmade raft for fishing, which Rasnesh explained is safer than a boat when there’s no chance of being stranded or sinking.

But, the fascinating aspect to us was when our driver explained we needed to stop at the “kava store” to purchase kava to bring to the chief of Vuodomo, who then, upon receipt of our “gift,” would allow us to walk to the falls, down a distant path, assisted by his lovely granddaughter, Tima, to escort us to the falls.

Kava is described as follows:

“Kava, otherwise known as yaqona, or simply grog, is the traditional national drink of Fiji. It is a mildly narcotic and sedative drink made from the crushed root of the yaqona (pronounced yang-GO-na) strained with water. It is served in a large communal bowl as part of the traditional kava ceremony.”

Other handmade rafts were ready for fishing along the inlet.

We supposed kava is considered to be comparable to smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol. But in this case, it’s a drink shared in a group out of one bowl, intoxicating everyone in the group. At one point, we were offered to participate in drinking kava and, more or less, pretended to take a sip to avoid offending the villagers.

The chief graciously accepted our “gift,” and off we went with his granddaughter, Tima, and our driver to the falls. Today’s photos aren’t reminiscent of the waterfalls but more about the tiny village that taught us more about culture in remote areas of Fiji than any other tours we made during those three months.

Clothes dryers are unheard of in many parts of the world, regardless of their modernization. A bench is located under this beautiful tree for quiet reflection with ocean views.

Savusavu, Fiji provided us with a constant flow of exciting experiences. We made every effort to blend in with the nuances and adaptations we needed to make while there. Looking back now puts smiles on our faces. How we miss exploring, learning, and for a time, becoming a part of a culture, unlike anything we’d experienced in the past.

It was scorching and humid with many mosquitos and other insects. There was no air-con, poor WiFi, no TV. We had limited access to many food items we typically used to cook our favorite meals. The tiny house had no oven, only a stovetop, but the owner kindly purchased a countertop oven for our use.

Tima explained these are crab holes located all over their grassy areas. Crab, shrimp, and other fish are good food sources for the villagers, often caught in the nets, as shown in the next photo.

Ants are a massive issue in Fiji. The night we arrived at the little house, I went to bed before Tom. I noticed a strange feeling in the bed, as if something was “buzzing/moving” under me. I grabbed a beach towel and laid it on the bed under me. I hardly slept all night. Tom did the same when he came to bed.

In the morning, we pulled off the sheet to find the tiny double bed infested with thousands of ants on the move. They were even inside the bed pillows. We squealed in horror. Thank goodness the owner agreed to replace the mattress (no box springs) and all the bedding. The cleaning staff scoured the entire bedroom to ensure no ants remained using non-chemical-based products. That night, we finally got some sleep.

A fishing net drying on the grass is regularly used by the villagers.

But, ants continued to be an issue. They’d appear while I was chopping and dicing for dinner, while the food was cooking, and even while we were eating. We were constantly washing all surfaces to get rid of them. No food products could be left out for even minutes. We adapted and stopped complaining within a day.

Oddly, it seems as if the places we’ve visited over these eight years (our eighth travel anniversary is one week from today on October 31) requiring us to adapt the most have been the places of most interest. Funny.

Seeing this starving puppy broke our hearts. We must accept that dogs are not regarded with the same love and care familiar to many in Fiji and many other parts of the world. Their function is for protection, not intended as a pet. However, we’ve found exceptions, such as in Badal, our daily visitor, who is well nourished and loved by his Fijian owners and all the neighbors. 

Thanks to so many of our readers for the email and comment regarding yesterday’s mention of the Garage Logic podcast from Minnesota, USA, where Joe Soucheray told our story about being in lockdown in Mumbai on his podcast on October 22. If you haven’t read that story, please click here. Hearing from so many of YOU was certainly a day-brightener for us! Thank you! Thank you, Joe and his group.

Have a fantastic day!

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

On our ship from Southampton, England, to the US, our cabin was excellent and tidy before our luggage arrived. For more photos, please click here

Day #214 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fun story about us in a Minnesota podcast…Listen up, folks!…

On this date in 2013, we finally spotted a bushbaby eating a banana next to us at dinner as we dined outdoors at the Leopard Beach Resort. A small platform was set up for the bushbabies loaded with bananas to encourage them to visit the guests while eating.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

In 1993, Tom started listening to a radio show, most often on his way to work entitled, Garage Logic, often commenting to me how much he enjoyed listening to the show. When we began our journey in 2012, he could still listen to the shows via the internet.

Often, I’d listen to the shows in the background while I prepared each day’s post, chuckling from time to time, easily understanding why he enjoyed it so much. In a way, it kept him in touch with his lifelong history of living in Minneapolis, Minnesota (except for these past eight years).

Although extremely shy, bushbabies aren’t tame and are very cautious around scary-looking humans. Their bulgy eyes cause the flash to reflect off their eyeballs, presenting this eerie look. When we selected our table close to the trees, little did we know that we’d be as close as we could get to their natural habitat?

In 2018, the sports-related radio station dropped the show. With a vast and enthusiastic following in Minnesota and throughout the country, the show moved to broadcast via podcast, which may be found at this link. Once they began podcasting, Tom continued to listen regularly, sometimes the latest day’s episode (always one day late for us), or multiple episodes during the times we were out sightseeing, had a poor WiFi connection, or were on the move.

Tom, also multitasks on other websites while listening more intently than I do. The show has become a staple for me while posting each day, listening in and out as I work diligently to get each new day’s story and photos uploaded. At times, I am so engrossed in the details of the daily post. I miss an entire show.

On and off over the years, Tom sent Joe Soucheray, the head podcaster, various articles about Minnesota from This Day in Minnesota History. Occasionally, he’d mention Tom’s name as having sent in the information they’d include over the air. Joe would sometimes say, “Tom Lyman from Marloth Park, South Africa,” or “Tom Lyman from Bali, Indonesia” and such.

Ordering the seafood platter for two resulted in a fabulous meal we enjoyed, each receiving our huge platter. That sure looks especially good now!.

Early on, we noticed Joe stating, “Only, because they come from Mumbai, India, (with a huge emphasis on these words), our friend, Tom Lyman…” Once we became “stuck” in lockdown in Mumbai, India, in March 2020, Tom started sending in an email each day of the five days the show is a podcast. And then, he’d proceed to share the story about Minnesota that Tom had sent in.

Each of those five weekdays, we’d laugh out loud as Joe mentioned the above statement, and in our boredom during this lockdown, we particularly enjoyed hearing him say “Tom Lyman.” For us, it became a highlight of those five days a week.

During this period, many listeners to Garage Logic have written to Tom commenting on how much they enjoy hearing his name mentioned on the podcast while we’ve lived under these unusual circumstances. As a matter of fact, at the end of yesterday’s post (found here), a reader commented, “And because you come to us daily in your posts to the GL Podcast, it seems I have yet another vehicle at my disposal with which to chase the Covid Blues away. You two take care, you hear? Good Luck.”

Tom’s platter included white rice. He ate everything on his plate, except he moved the calamari, cauliflower, and broccoli to my plate.

We can’t help but chuckle, all the while appreciating such comments. Funnily, it connects us to the world and Tom, notably his birthplace, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Every contact with the outside world means so much to us, now more than ever.

Joe mentions us on the October 21st podcast, wondering why we’re still in Mumbai, India. We wrote back, and he read our response over the air on the October 22nd podcast for over three minutes, found here at the point where it was 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 53 seconds (01:10:53) into the podcast (in the event you prefer not to listen to the entire podcast) where Joe tells our story.

This put big smiles on our faces, brightening yet another relatively repetitive and boring day in lockdown. Feel free to share those smiles with us by listening to our mention on Garage Logic.

While at the bar, we noticed this cigar menu. Tom had hoped to order a Cuban cigar to enjoy in our outdoor living room, but for whatever reason, they were out. Not a cigar aficionado, he had no clue as to an alternative, so he passed.  (KES $1000 = US $11.76).

Have a great day!

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

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The Leonardo Southampton, Royal Grand Harbour hotel, stayed for two nights one year ago while awaiting a cruise to the US to see family. (Not our photos). For more photos, please click here.

Day #213 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Gentle musings on the simple things…

Tom’s gluten-free, low carb, starch, and sugar-free pizza with fresh mushrooms, green olives, onions, and Italian sausage, topped with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. This will last for three delicious nights. We never mind repeated dinners for three nights in a row. The crust is made with grated cheese and one egg. He’ll be drooling over this photo today.

Today’s food photos are from the post on this date in 2014 after grocery shopping in Maui, Hawaii. For more from this date, please click here.

When I checked out Kenya photos from this date in 2013, there were few photos worthy of posting today. Instead, I jumped forward to 2014 on this date, once again, while we were spending six weeks on the blissful island of Maui. We’d been out grocery shopping and were pleasantly surprised over our purchases in the nearby town of Kihei.

My pizza is made with free-range chicken sausage, anchovies, onions, olives, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, organic zucchini, eggplant with mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. This crust is also made with cheese and egg and is low carb and gluten, sugar, and starch-free. Love it!

Ironically, for the first time in almost two years since the onset of our travels, I drove the rental car, finding my way to the Safeway supermarket, a 20 minute drive from our condo, and the largest market we’d seen in so long. It felt great to be driving again after so long.

Yesterday, Tom and I were chuckling over this time in Mumbai as the longest period he’s gone as an adult without driving a car. Continuing in our world travels, there were plenty of times I didn’t drive for extended periods when I don’t feel comfortable driving a manual transmission with the stick on the left side. My left hand is useless.

As I entered the store, my eyes darted everywhere in awe of all of the “stuff” for sale.

On top of that, I don’t possess the ability to retrain myself to drive while managing the stick shift, while on the opposite side of the road from which I learned in the US at 16 years old. I suppose it’s a lack of coordination. Under familiar circumstances, I know how to drive a stick shift. At one point, as an adult, I purchased a vehicle with manual transmission.

Upon returning to the condo, I used the Ziploc bags to individually wrap each of the three steaks which Tom will eat while I’ll have the rack of lamb.

Well, anyway, that day in Maui, I was thrilled to once again be driving and totally loved the time I could spend meandering around the huge supermarket with nary a thought of how slow I was going, inspecting countless products along the way. Most often, Tom had been with me while grocery shopping, and although I enjoyed his participation, I loved it when he waited in the car reading a book on his phone.

Having not purchased meat at this store on our visit the prior week, I was pleased to see the prices on meats were no more than we paid in our old lives.

If and when we return to Africa, I’ll be in this same spot with most rental cars having manual transmissions and all driving in the left lane as opposed to the familiar right lane. Tom will drive me everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, he gets tired of being my chauffeur, but he freely acknowledges that I am a terrible driver even with an automatic transmission and driving in the right lane, as in the US. Hey, we all have our flaws and I certainly have my fair share.

I’d purchased this 3.32-pound package of three New York Steaks for $26.93 at $8.98 a serving. That was an excellent price!

So, shopping in Maui during those six blissful weeks was a treat for me. If I wanted to peruse the other shops in the strip mall, before grocery shopping I could easily do so. If I wanted to read the labels on every product I could do so at my leisure. If I wanted to stop and chat with another customer or staff member, nothing held me back. It was indescribable fun.

Ziploc freezer bags in the half gallon size surprised me at only $4.49.

Wow! At this point, this sounds to me like a trip to Disneyland for a kid. It’s not surprising that the simplest tasks I may have taken for granted in the past now rise to the forefront as absolutely desirable and delightful. Then again, I think of how fun it will be to be sitting with good friends in Africa, sipping on a glass of red wine, enjoying the sounds of nature, the consistent flow of “visitors” and I literally swoon.

I cut this free-range Rack of Lamb into three portions which I’ll have when Tom has the above steaks. At $20.15 for the entire package, it is $6.72 per serving. We’ll cook the lamb and the steaks on the outdoor grill that overlooks the ocean, which we’re anxious to use.

I’ve kept asking myself what we’ll learn from being in this hotel, possibly for one year, (now at seven months), and perhaps it will be as simple as the heart-pounding enthusiasm I’m feeling putting these thoughts to “paper.” During these peculiar circumstances, it’s imperative to glom onto hope, knowing full-well at some point in the future, these memories won’t be so far removed from current-day reality.

The gorgeous Maui scenery on the return drive to Maalaea Beach.

Hum, I think I’ll feel equally enthused to machine wash our clothes, eat some of the above-shown pizza, smell the fresh air, set the table, see a sunset, and of course, spend time with humans and animals. No doubt, we’re grateful we’re safe and, we’re equally grateful knowing at some point, this will all change.

This receipt is not easy to read resulting in my listing the items above for details and clarification.

Be well.

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

Friends Linda and Ken with us in front of the Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.