Day #205 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Done…Done…Done…Consistency…

Tom, Anderson, and me, posing at the Kenya/Tanzania border marker, still smiling but not objecting when it was time to head back to the Masai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Finally, we were able to stand at the marker that separates Kenya from Tanzania, a pose worthy opportunity for all of us.

A popular expression, frequently used by Indian people is, “Done, done, done,” when asking them for assistance. They couldn’t be more eager to please. We appreciate them, their kindness, and their great service. Living in this hotel for so long with a frequent turnover of staff, leaving for a break for a few weeks to return to their homes to be with family, it’s no wonder consistency is not always possible.

I know I looked goofy with my Bugs Away hat, a scarf tied on my face. Honestly, I didn’t care. If I’d had a paper bag on hand, I’d have worn that. We did everything we could to keep the flies out of our noses, mouths, and ears.

Has anyone you know lived in a hotel for 205 days, unless of course, they are a celebrity and make a hotel their permanent residency? We are no celebrities. And, if we were, we’d probably be in a much different situation. But, it’s only from the same services over and over, often as a result of the rotating staff that inconsistencies become more prevalent and subsequently, more obvious after such a long stay.

Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain we did our best to zoom to get the following photos on the remaining wildebeests.

Tom says, “The only consistency is the inconsistency.” I’ve laughed each time he says this, always with the intent of dampening our momentary frustration.

They were increasing in numbers as we approached the border.

In many businesses throughout the world, consistency becomes a top priority. One can always count on the lettuce being in the same spot in the grocery store, the shoes in a specific area in a department store, the sunscreen on the same shelf in the pharmacy, and so on.

Although the sight of the two-plus million wildebeest would have been unbelievable, I began to wonder if doing so was as important to me as it had been in the past. It may sound as if it’s a rationalization for not having been able to see it, but, the flies were a huge deterrent for both of us. They were flying into our noses, mouths, and ears.  It was awful.

In the restaurant business, if you formerly dined at, for example, the Cheesecake Factory for their strawberry cheesecake, you’d expect the same flavor, the same sized portion, the same taste, and at least for a time, the same price.

No more than a few minutes into the return drive, on our way back to Kenya, we spotted a mom and baby elephant, tails swishing batting off the flies. They, too, must feel the effects of the dung of millions of animals.

In our almost eight years of world travel, we’ve found a profound lack of consistency in dining when returning to the same establishments for a repeated menu item or, as in the case here in our lovely Mumbai hotel, ordering the same breakfast items and the same dinner items, day after day, which are often different in portion size, taste, and appearance almost every time they arrive by room service.

But if I don’t repeat this exact same order each day, after 205 days, something won’t be right. I’d love to say, “The usual, please.” My order changes from time to time as I fine-tune my diet to keep the carb count to a minimum. So, I realize, I must be very specific in regard to my orders. It’s never the same two days in a row. Breakfast tends to be fairly consistent, although, we often have to remind the restaurant when we call to make the bacon crispy as opposed to it swimming in grease, when half done. Tom orders the exact same breakfast every single day; cheese omelet, eight pieces of crispy bacon, and bananas every day and the same dinner every night.

After about an hour into the return drive, we saw the last of the wildebeest stragglers, facing a long walk home to the Serengeti in Tanzania. (80% of the Serengeti is in Tanzania with the remaining 20% in Kenya).

It isn’t that they don’t want to please. They do more than anywhere we’ve been in the past. It boils down to the person taking the order which varies from time to time and the sous chefs preparing the food. Last night, only having ordered the same grilled boneless chicken legs, side orders of steamed broccoli, and spinach,  night after night, my dinner arrived with only half as much chicken as usual and twice as many vegetables. Go figure.

The giraffes walked along the hillside at our camp as we wearily sauntered to the restaurant at Camp Olonana for late lunch, cold beverages, and time to regroup for the upcoming afternoon drive.

Tonight, when I order the same dinner again, but this time I’ll mention “More chicken please.” I won’t say “Fewer vegetables, please.” If I do, I’ll get too tiny a portion of each of these two vegetables. Instead, I’ll eat whatever I get.

I’ve stopped requesting my vegetables to be sauteed with garlic. They know I don’t use any vegetable oils and I’ve asked that they only use only butter to prepare my food, but everything was always swimming in butter, maybe the equivalent of three or four tablespoons. Now, I order the butter on the side and use about one tablespoon between my two vegetables.

The Maasai gathered up their cows to return them to the security of the village, close to our camp, away from the risk of attack.

It’s the same thing when cleaning our room. The towel count became consistent after about two months, so we’re good there. I suggested they don’t change our sheets daily to every-other-three days which is fine with us, but they continue to change the sheets daily. I’ve stopped asking.

The “Retired Generals” lined up to welcome us back to the Maasai Mara.

We don’t use their lotion and ask they don’t leave tubes of lotion. The counter space in the bathroom is limited. With no drawers or a medicine cabinet, we leave all of the toiletries we use on the countertop. This will never be resolved.

But, more importantly, we’ve requested with hotel management, that all room cleaners have been staying overnight in the hotel for no less than three weeks. If they contracted the virus on their off days, they could easily infect us, when spending 30 minutes in our small room each day.

And then, there were elephants lumbering across the road only feet from our vehicle.

Invariably, even with their masks on, I’ve learned to recognize their hairstyles (all men), and over and over again, I end up asking, “How long have you been staying in the hotel?” Fifty percent of the time, they say considerably less than three weeks, many less than one week. We prevent those cleaners from entering our room, asking them to find someone who has been here for three weeks or longer. They always comply, eager to please.

Oddly, keeping tabs on all of this is practically a job in itself. We’re desperately trying, after all these months in lockdown, to ensure we don’t become infected. Over and over again, it’s repeated on the local news, that there are no available hospital beds or ICU beds available in any hospital in Mumbai. That certainly is a frightening thought.

As the landscape became less cluttered and the flies no longer nipped at us, we were happy to be returning to the Maasai Mara.

Today, listening on to a podcast with Minnesota’s well-known virologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm, he said Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin are only days away from running out of hospital beds, the main reason, along with the rising numbers of cases, we have no interest in returning to the US at this time.

Instead, we stay hunkered down in Mumbai, not in a state of angst, but in a state of acceptance, that we could be here for many more months to come. If somehow, we could pin down “consistency,” it might become a little easier…or not.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2019:

Tom’s lunch at a restaurant in Chepstow, Wales. He’d certainly enjoy this now! For more photos, please click here.
Day #116 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages from readers make our days special!…Negative comments from readers?…

Day #116 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages from readers make our days special!…Negative comments from readers?…

Check out how many kudus we had in the garden on this date in 2018!

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 17, 2018, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more details.



Today’s post is, by no means, intended to “toot our own horn.” Instead, it’s about the kindness of people, of our readers, so many of whom have taken the time to write to us to provide support and encouragement.

That morning’s 17 kudus in the garden. See the above video for details.

I don’t often share the actual email messages we receive, but somehow the following message that arrived in my inbox yesterday, (who’s name and email I’ve excluded, protecting her privacy), left us reeling with appreciation.


How well this reader understands our love for Marloth Park and the reasons we can’t wait to return someday when COVID-19 settles down. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to meet this couple in Marloth Park sometime in the future?

Wildebeest Willie and friends stopped by another night.

In her message, as shown below, she writes,” Thank you for the encouragement you bring to my life.” Our response is, “Thank you for the encouragement you bring to our lives.” Ironic, isn’t it?

Although not all are shown in this photo, for the first time, we had six bushbucks in the garden at one time.

Here’s her message received in yesterday’s email:                                                                                                   
“Good morning Jessica

I have been following you for quite a while and today just feel prompted to make contact.
I am so in awe of how well you are coping!!
My husband and I have lived in Cape Town all our lives and retired to Knysna for 10 lovely years

We decided to put stuff into storage a few years ago and explore South Africa after selling our home. It has been wonderful and we discovered Marloth in our travels!! We spent several months there last year.

Giraffes came through the parklands next to us. On foot, we rushed to see them up close to take photos. But, dad wasn’t too happy with us with his young calf nearby.  We carefully backed away.
It truly is just the most amazing place. We found a passion which we share.
We had to come to Cape Town due to health reasons in Dec last year… with every intention of returning there. BUT by the time things got sorted, we went into lockdown and we are stuck in Cape Town.
We are staying in a lovely home with all we could need but are just so longing to get back to Marloth!!
Some days I feel so frustrated at the limits on our lives..especially socially and the boredom of every day and then I read one of your posts and realize how blessed we are. Thank you for the encouragement you bring to my life.
Keep well. God bless you both
Hope to meet you one day in Marloth”
We knew better than to get too close.

Wow! This message couldn’t have meant more to us. I will write back to her today, asking her and her husband to read today’s post so they see how much their message meant to us.

It was nearly dark when they visited.

Going forward, especially during this quiet time of COVID-19 lockdown, we will be posting more comments we receive from our readers. We welcome any of you to write as well.


You may ask, do we receive negative comments? Much to our surprise and delight, we do not. It’s a rarity for a “hater” to write to us. I suppose if haters don’t like us or our site, they certainly have the option not to read the posts. 

A young zebra in the garden of a house on the river road.

We are working hard at staying positive under these difficult circumstances, and engaging in heated discussions is not conducive to our mental wellbeing at this time. Neither of us finds such discussions uplifting in any manner especially when there is nothing we can say to change their minds or ours.

This must have been the above baby’s mom resting nearby.

On another note, in the past few days, I tried a different dinner option after speaking with the head chef. He now prepares a delicious, spicy chicken curry for me, made without starch (potatoes, peas, etc.), sugar, or flour and it is such a welcome change. 


Tom says the curry looks like cat puke, but it doesn’t bother me. I have no idea what cat puke tastes like, but this version of curry sure tastes good to me. Tonight, I will take a photo and share it tomorrow.

We spotted two rangers on the road with rifles. We assumed it had something to do with poachers.

“They” are saying if everyone wore a face mask, socially distanced and washed their hands, in two months the virus could be over. Let’s all strive for this goal! Please pass this post on to others and hopefully, they too will get on board with those of us making this commitment!


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2019:

The view across Lough Pollaacapull as seen from the castle’s veranda at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.
Day #115 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Is the “head in the sand” premise the best response during these times?…

Day #115 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Is the “head in the sand” premise the best response during these times?…

These are the locked iron gates closing off easy access to the church across from our 300-year-old stone villa in Boveglio, Italy in 2013.

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 16, 2014, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more details.
This unattached separate building on the church grounds may have been the original church on the grounds based on the inscription near the entryway.

We shake our own heads in wonder as to why we’re holding up so well emotionally. Is it a concerted daily effort or is it a by-product of our long-term goal of attempting to remain upbeat and positive since the onset of our travels, during even the toughest of times?

A part of the entrance to the larger church.

For me, being in lockdown in this hotel room in India is a piece of cake compared to having emergency open-heart surgery in February 2019 and the horrific long recovery with complications. 

This gate was locked preventing us from getting inside the church.

So what, if we can’t go outside. So what, if we mostly eat the same meals over and over again. So what, if we hand wash all of our clothing which on occasion, smells moldy when dry due to the air-con in the room and how long they take to dry. So what, if we have no social interactions outside of this room. So what, if we don’t have the freedom to leave to a more appealing environment.

Overlooking the iron railing around the cemetery.

Are our “heads in the sand,” in denial of what may prove to be a year-long-hotel-room-confinement in Mumbai India? We stayed in a self-imposed lockdown for a few weeks, even before the official lockdown began in India on March 24th, the day we moved into this hotel.

Another view of the cemetery from the iron railing. A gate was also locked to the main entrance but we were able to enter through an unlocked side gate.

In total, we’ve been in lockdown since March 12th, the day we discovered our planned upcoming cruise scheduled for April 3rd, from Mumbai to Greenwich, UK, was canceled when we chose to end our 55-day private tour of India with three more weeks remaining until completion. This results in a total of 137 days since we’ve been confined. So what?

These steps were much steeper than they appear here, more so than many of the steps on the walk to Bar Ferrari in our neighborhood. We found an unlocked gate allowing us to enter at the bottom of these steps.

Maybe we do have our heads in the sand. So what? It’s helping us get through. But, most of all, the fact that we are safe and unlikely to contract COVID-19 makes this confinement all the more tolerable.

These were the first gravesites we spotted as we entered the cemetery.

Sure, it would be great to be able to have a glass of wine or cocktail now and then. Sure, it would be great to have social interactions, shop at a grocery store, cook a meal, use a washing machine, hang up clothes on an outdoor clothesline, or feed visiting wildlife at the edge of a veranda. Sure, it would all be nice.

Tom, ancestry.com obsessed, was fascinated with the stories revealed by the many headstones, names, dates, and photos.

Hopefully, someday in the future, all of this will transpire. But, at the growing rate of infection in many countries that we’d consider visiting, we patiently remain in a state of limbo, not with our heads-in-the-sand, but instead, a safe state of acceptance and reverence for this awful disease, that we avoid at all costs.

Some of the headstones were quite impressive, both old and new.

There’s no easy answer. We walk with vigor. We talk with vigor. We laugh with vigor, especially on those mornings when Tom asks as he did today, “What’s on the agenda for today?”


And, I answer, “Guess what? We get to “order room service twice!” We get to “go to the movies!” We don’t have to clean, make the bed, do dishes, or sweep the floor! We get to go for a walk several times!


But, most of all, one more time, we get to write to all of you!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2019:

This is the over-the-top Kylemore Abbey, a former home, castle and grounds of a wealthy family in the 1800s. We visited this site, taking photos, while in Connemara, Ireland, one year ago. Please click here for more photos.

Day #114 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…In a darkened room, hiding away…No sunshine here…

Bananas were growing everywhere on the island of Madeira, many farmed for resale while others were available for personal use.

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 15, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more details.



We both are advocates of the value of getting Vitamin D from direct sunlight for 20 minutes a day. With all outdoor areas closed to guests in the hotel, there is nowhere we can go to get some sun directly on our skin.


Besides, its the monsoon season in India now and it rains almost every day and night, often in torrents. As hard as this is to admit, based on our year’s long advocacy of the value of direct sunlight for setting bio-rhythms to produce better sleep and general health benefits, we now sit in a darkened room (with lamps on), 24 hours a day.

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

It happened during the first month. One sunny day, we closed the drapes on the full wall of glass due to the glare on our laptops and to keep the room cool. The view isn’t pleasant and we had no interest in seeing outdoors, especially when our chairs back up to the windows.


Over the next few cloudy days, we opened the drapes, but again found the glare annoying and felt no benefit from keeping the drapes open. Finally, over a period of a week, we gradually kept the drapes closed entirely. 


And now, over 100 days later, we spend each day in the darkened room with lamps on, while providing somewhat of a cozy feeling that we’ve both embraced. Now, if the cleaner leaves the drapes open after cleaning, we immediately close them in order for the room to return to its familiar ambiance.

What were these red things growing on a tree in our yard?  

The fact is that it may be more beneficial with the drapes open right now as we continue in lockdown month after month. However, right now, our general comfort seems to be of the utmost importance to us.


We walk daily and Tom adds in numerous flights of stairs to his walks in the corridors. I’m up to no less than three miles, almost five km, per day at a good pace, although I break it up into several segments to avoid sitting for any length of time. Tom does his exercises while our room is being cleaned.


Are we hiding away in a darkened room during these trying times? Is it impacting our moods? We aren’t hiding away but feel right now that avoiding the glare and the less-than-desirable view has a more positive impact on our ability to stay positive, contrary to what “they” may say.

These berries were growing on a palm type tree in the garden.

During these challenging times, we each have to find ways to console and comfort ourselves, while easing the stress of confinement. Our dear friends Kathy and Don, who are currently living in Oahu, Hawaii (when not at their home in Marloth Park to which they aren’t allowed to travel at this point), are able to walk outdoors and get together with friends at outdoor restaurants while maintaining social distancing.


Enjoying a glass of wine or a drink with friends (or even with each other) would be such a treat along with the opportunity to walk outdoors in the sunshine. Our level of appreciation in times to come will surely be over-the-top. Although, it’s not as if we didn’t appreciate it in times past.


We hope you are safely able to be outdoors in bright sunlight and perhaps enjoy snippets of time with friends and family at safe distances.


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2019:

With great reviews on TripAdvisor, it’s no wonder many visitors stopped by the unique eatery, The Misunderstood Heron in Connemara, Ireland with its stunning scenery. We didn’t order any food when all of it included wheat and high carbs. For more photos, please click here.