The Hindu holiday continues…Friendly locals greetings us on a walk…A cultural experience…Safety…

This family was busy finishing this morning. The air was hazy from incense burning.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Fisherman returning from fishing all night and kid on a bike.

The sweet smell of incense permeates the air. The colorfully dressed locals greet us as we walk by. The elaborate decorations in the front yards, the music, the chanting and the non-stop sounds of roosters crowing made for an especially interesting walk this morning.

A lot of effort had gone into decorating homes, not unlike decorating for Christmas in other parts of the world.

There were twice as many festive lanterns and decorated shrines than we’d seen on yesterday’s walk and we could readily sense the celebration of this special holiday was in full bloom.

This religious service area was ready for the evening gathering.

As described in yesterday’s post, this is the holiday the Balinese Hindus, the majority of the population of Bali, are celebrating:

“Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom.”

These were newly placed last night or this morning.

How fortunate we feel to be here during these festivities. These gentle, kindly, peaceful people remind us of how the world could be, would be, with more citizens like them, with a commitment to honor their faith, their traditions, one another and their families, ensconced in a constant sense of harmony with the world.

When we asked Gede how the Hindu people relate to those of other faiths, he expressed enthusiastic assurance that peace and respect were forefront in their hearts and minds.

As we neared the end of the newly paved road, we saw this new decoration.

This is clearly illustrated to us as we tread upon their turf, strangers in their land, unfamiliar with their ways. Now, during our second two-month stay in Bali, we’re beginning to understand and embrace who these people are and the deep rooted principles that shape their often simple existence.

They are not violent people. It’s sad that in many countries there are those who defy the principles of centuries old philosophies of maintaining a stance of love, beauty and simplicity.

More decorations had been added over the past 24 hours.

We feel safe here. At times, at sunset, we may occasionally spot a shady looking character, meandering on the beach on foot or on a motorbike. We keep our doors locked and also find comfort in the fact that this small grouping of vacation homes has an all-night security guard on the premises who’s number we have readily available.

In Phuket, we noticed military police and security everywhere, even at the grocery store. Here in this remote area one seldom sees a police vehicle or any military presence. Of course, that doesn’t make this location exempt from crime. No place in the world can claim that unlikely status.

The umbrellas, the fabric cloths and hanging decoration create a beautiful scene.

In Denpasar, the capital city, there’s been a history of bombings along with a variety of terrorist attacks, not unlike in most large cities anywhere in the world. 

We’re often asked why we choose to live in remote areas, away from tourist venues, popular restaurants and sightseeing. The answer is simple for us since the beginning of our travels, next month coming up on four years. 

Offerings are placed in this cubicles as will be shown in more photos over the next few days.

We treasure our safety and well being. We prefer the quiet, easy existence of a life far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It bring us joy and happiness to live in close proximity to the locals, to learn their ways, wander through their neighborhoods somehow feeling we are a part of it all.

Today, as yesterday, the walk brought us a revered sense of appreciation for the people of Bali, in this quiet beach town, as they celebrate a special holiday.

We pray for the safety and well being of all our reader/friends all over the world.

May peace be with you.

Photo from one year ago today, September 7, 2015:

Pond view at the Cattana Wetlands near Cairns, Australia. Final expenses for our three months in Australia were posted one year ago today, here.

At long last, we have sunshine…Transportation…Safety…All new photos…

This morning’s sunny day.

Yesterday, we called Ratnesh to pick us up tomorrow at 11 am for a dual purpose; sightseeing earlier in the day, shopping after sightseeing. We’re excited to be getting out.

We’d hoped to get out on Tuesday, but on Monday, he called and canceled when he had a long-distance fare to Labasa, where another airport is located, a two hour drive each way from Savusavu.

When we first arrived, we offered to request his services for specific dates, and at times when it was most convenient for him with our schedule wide open. If he has a fare where he’ll make more than with us to various sites and the villages, we’ve encouraged him to take it.

View from our veranda to the three-unit vacation home as a part of this four-unit resort. The lawn guy is here today, mowing and trimming.

We hadn’t negotiated special rates with him when we arrived when the amounts he charges for trips to the village or for an hourly rate for sightseeing is so reasonable. As we’ve mentioned in the past, here are the costs of his services:

  • FJD $20, USD $9.39: Round trip to the village for shopping, dropping us off and picking us up when we call.  We add an additional FJD $10, USD $4.70 when he helps us carry our purchases to the house.
  • FJD $30, USD $14.09: Cost per hour for sightseeing. 

We’ve noticed when we do both, sightseeing and shopping on the same day, we’re charging for the trip to the village, plus the hourly travel rate. Ah, who’s to complain at these reasonable prices? If we’re gone for four hours at FJD $120, USD $56.35, it’s a very fair fare (no pun intended)!

When we recall paying for taxi fare in London in August 2014, when we visited the highly rated pub (Andover Arms) on two occasions, the round trip taxi fare was USD $50, GBP $32, FJD $106. In Fiji, that amount would give us almost four hours on the road!  

Colorful ocean view from our area.

Although four hours on the roads in Vanua Levu may sound exciting, on this remote island, it would be four hours of bumpy roads, dense greenery, and occasional ocean views, all of which we love and easily experience on shorter trips to specific destinations. We prefer aimlessly driving when we have a rental car, stopping as often as we’d like for photos and restroom breaks.

With the sun shining, we’re excited to get out more often, subject to the availability of the only driver in this village willing to tackle the steep road in this resort area. It would be impossible for us to walk down the long mountainous road. For mountain climbers and seriously fit hikers, it may not be a problem.

How easily we could feel trapped. But, long ago we decided, after realizing we’d need drivers in various countries, we accepted that there would be days we’d want to get out and weren’t able to do so, based on our driver’s availability. Sticking to the same driver or their designated co-driver has been important to us, particularly when safety has been an issue in several countries.

The bright blue of the bay is breathtaking from this elevation.

Upcoming in 46 days, when we fly to the next Fijian Island of Viti Levi, the larger main island, where we’ll stay for one more month, we’ll be renting a car at the Nadi Airport and driving two hours to our new location, again a private house. 

With high crime rates in the downtown Nadi area, when we booked Fiji long ago, we’d decided to stay in another more, remote location where the likelihood of crime is greatly reduced.

Many tourists stay in the Nadi area in resorts and hotels, generally insulated from criminal activities when on site. The risks for tourists escalates when out on the streets in the busy city, as we’ve been warned by the locals here who often travel to Nadi to visit family. Muggings, pickpocketing, and carjacking are not unusual.

Another ocean view from our area.

With our preferred choice of vacation homes as opposed to staying in hotels, we usually don’t have the safety net of on-site security as is often available in most hotels. Generally, one can feel relatively safe from crime in a hotel, although there are isolated exceptions.

Currently, we’re living in a resort but, in the only stand, alone vacation rental house on the property. Further up the hill behind us is a separate building with three apartments, including one penthouse type upscale unit on the top floor. Mario and Tayana’s private residence is off to the side as shown.

When Ratnesh picks us up, he pulls into the driveway of the three-unit building in this resort. The driveway near the steps down to our house below is too steep for stopping the vehicle, making getting in and out nearly impossible.

Junior is around during the day and Mario is on-site in his separate house to our left as we face the ocean. We feel totally safe and protected in this ideal location.

Criminal activity on this island of Vanua Levu is almost non-existent. When we’ve driven by the courthouse on several occasions, located on the edge of town, there are no cars in the parking lot. Most likely, they only open when they have a case. From what we hear, it’s a rare occasion.

Oceanfront view of Mario and Tatyana’s house, much larger than it appears in the photos.  We took this photo from the steep road.

The fact that we prefer living in smaller towns and villages in our travels has more to do with our lack of interest in crowds and the fact that we don’t shop other than for food and supplies as needed. We love the quaint charm and nature of small villages and the friendly, less harried lifestyle of their people. 

For the average tourist, staying in a more populous area in most countries provides endless opportunities to find that special item to bring back home, for oneself, and for gifts for family and friends. Also, easy access to restaurants is an important factor for tourists whereas, for us, it’s irrelevant.

Side view of Mario and Tatyana’s recently built house.

We don’t send our grandchildren trinkets from all over the world. Instead, we send gift cards or gifts that they’d like, not what we think they’d like from a foreign country. If we did, at this point, their bedrooms would be filled with useless touristy type items, eventually to be tossed away. 

Maybe we’re too practical in the minds of others. Then again, how practical is having no home, no stuff other than what fits into three suitcases, a duffel bag and a laptop bag and, changing countries and homes every few months or less?

Have a beautiful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2014:

We were entranced by this colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko, commonly seen in the Hawaiian Islands, particularly in Maui where we were living one year ago.  This gecko was located on the wall by the pool but, from time to time, we spotted them inside the condo, certainly no big deal. Generally, geckos are harmless if not annoying, leaving droplets of white poop and making peculiar noises. In Fiji, we see new gecko poop in the house every few days. For more details, please click here.

Laugh fest last night…Safety on other islands is different than in Kauai…

This Bird of Paradise is the best example we’ve seen of a bloom appearing to be a bird’s head.

Last night’s dinner party at Alice and Travis’ house with Louise and Steve was more fun than we ever could have imagined. The stories, the laughter, and the bantering back and forth was indescribable. All I know is that by the end of the evening our faces and bellies hurt from laughing so hard and so long.

I drove home. Tom, who rarely drinks alcohol had his fair share last night, and although I don’t drink for health reasons I too felt intoxicated from the great evening.

Thanks to reader Annie, this is Ixora.

How did we get so lucky to meet so many fabulous people? And how hard is it going to be to leave exactly three weeks from today? 

It’s funny how we never have trouble leaving a place. Instead, we find it difficult to leave living beings behind, both human and animal. 

This morning Birdie saw me wander into the kitchen while he sat atop his favorite tree. Immediately, he flew to the lanai railing and began singing his song as shown in this video (in case you missed it). For a more professional Northern Cardinal video presented by Cornell Labs, please click here.

Nature has a way of creating flawless symmetry as in this variety of Plumeria.

We’ll miss him and his significant other both of whom we’ve interacted several times each day. He’s our first sign of life each morning and last, just before dark as we dine at the table beside the sliding screen door. While we’re dining, he sings. How can we not miss this magical display of life, however tiny he and she maybe?

And the people? Ah, how can we not miss them? 

We’ve found that somehow we are able to build strong relationships with people we meet in our travels in relatively short periods of time. In our old lives, it seemed that building new friendships transpired over a period of years, not months.

The buds on flowers such as this Plumeria (often used for making leis) become beautiful in themselves.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of those we meet are on the move like us in one way or another. Most of the friends we’ve made here in Kauai came from other locals for example Louise and Steve are originally from the UK.

Alice and Travis are from the state of Washington, having moved here permanently five years ago. This is the case with most people we meet. They, like us, came from somewhere else, longing for the lifestyle only Hawaii or similar island living has to offer.

Volcanic rock is also seen along the shore in some areas of Kauai.

As for future islands on our upcoming itinerary which includes both Fiji and Bali, we have few expectations that life on those islands will be comparable to living in Hawaii.

Some have mentioned that both Fiji and Bali can be rough in areas with political unrest, poverty, and strife. We never promised ourselves nor expected that everywhere we live will be easy or feel as luxurious as living in Princeville has been these past months.

As the tide rolls in the waves pound against the lava rocks.

We easily recall where we’ve lived in the past, in the heat and humidity with insects everywhere, crawling about our feet and buzzing about our heads. Last night, we mentioned that we’d lived outdoors in Kenya on the open (no screens) veranda for three months when there was no indoor living room, lounge, or salon.  here were two bedrooms, one bath, a small galley kitchen with a small hallway connecting them.

Each day the temperature was in the high 80’s to low 100’s with humidity so awful that the zippers on our luggage turned green. Tom used WD40 (Kenya’s version) to release the zippers each week to ensure they’d work when we left. 

From what I can determine online, this is a coot.  If any of our readers have any suggestions on this breed, please post a comment or send an email.

The flies and mosquitoes were rampant and every day I had to lather up with a DEET (below 30%), the only product that would keep me from being bit.  

The insects and the heat were equally bad in South Africa but, by the time we got to Marloth Park, we were accustomed to being outdoors all day. There, we had two living rooms inside the house and yet we stayed outdoors on the veranda (again no screens) all day amid the heat and insects, batting off the flies, keeping an eye out for snakes and poisonous things.

This is a hala plant. Please see this link for details.

After those total of six-month experiences during which neither of us whined or complained, we’re thinking that Fiji and Bali won’t be any more difficult and most likely will be somewhat easier. 

As for the political climate in both of these countries, the properties are located far from the busy cities where most of the danger lurks. Plus, in Fiji, we’ll be living in a resort with managers and security on the premises. In Bali, we’ll have a house staff on the premises. Both scenarios put our minds at ease.

There are many bath and candle shops throughout the islands comparable to this shop in Kilauea. With the scent of flowers blooming year-round, it’s not surprising that many small businesses are centered around scented soaps and candles.

Worry?  No, we’re not worried. We’ve come to accept that there is no place in the world that is entirely safe from crime, natural disasters, and political unrest. We’d only need to watch the US news in the past week, months, or years to realize that nowhere is entirely safe.

We can’t live this life in fear of what could happen. We choose to live this life in love with each other, in love with what we see in front of us; the people, the wildlife, and the beauty. 

The former movie theatre in Kilauea is now a church offering free lunches every Sunday after the service.

That, dear readers, drives us on with the hope and the passion for an extraordinary and safe experience anywhere in the world we find ourselves.

Tonight is our final Full Moon Party to be held at the Makai Golf Course pool house.  Today, I’ll make our pu pu to bring, Hawaiian flavored chicken wings (a few without the sauce for me), and off we’ll go to yet another fun evening on the island. We love island living. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2014:

In the Medina, aka the Big Square in Marrakech, vendors would often neatly place their products on the ground on a blanket expecting passersby to negotiate. Within a short period, this display would turn into a messy pile as the vendors were busy selling the item. At this time, one year ago, we were less than two weeks from leaving Morocco, chomping at the bit to be back on the move. For details, please click here.

Security loaded on the ship while out to sea…Gulf of Aden, here we come…

Tonight we enter the Gulf of Aden.

Yesterday morning as we were reminded of yet another time change to be effective at 11:30 am, our Captain Fleming announced that a boat would be coming to ship around 4:00 PM to drop off “security equipment” for our upcoming remaining three days through the Gulf of Aden.

Tom was determined to see this event occur as was I.  Watching the clock throughout the day, we were pleased when the Captain’s voice sounded over the loudspeaker as he explained that the boat would be arriving soon and the ship would be slowed down accordingly.

It’s helpful for worried passengers to be alerted to such events.  Captain Fleming has been conscientious about making such announcements in an effort to diminish fear and its resulting rumors.  For us, we wanted to see this firsthand in order to take photos. 

Our view at the bow of the ship as the “security boat: approached.

Unsure which side of the ship the “security boat” would deliver the “security equipment” we headed for the bow of the ship where there is row of viewing windows to the bridge. If we watched the officers in the command area, we’d be able to see which direction they were looking through their binoculars.

Peering into the bridge, we had a clear view of the blue radar screens, noting three objects, one on the port side forward, and two on the starboard side forward.  Wondering which would be the delivering boat, we waited patiently while Tom, using his trusty Swarovski binoculars kept a lookout.

Around 3:30 PM, we saw the delivery boat approaching our ship approaching dead ahead, to finally veer to the port side.  We were on the move!  We wanted to get as close as possible and yet not so close that we couldn’t get a good shot.

Each of us had a camera, old and new, in our hands.  Much to my frustration and unbeknown to me, one of the settings on the new camera we had changed in error, preventing me from getting any good shots.  Luckily, Tom had the old camera and was able to take the photos we’ve posted today.

As crew members hung onto the “security boat,” two uniformed soldiers got on board our ship, each carrying two large black cases as shown in the photos. Captain Fleming had referred to these black rectangular boxes as “security supplies.”  Duh?

When asking an officer about the contents of these black boxes, it was obvious to us that his response was rehearsed, “Oh, those are night goggles, binoculars and such.”  Why wouldn’t a large ship such as ours, Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas, keep night goggles on board along with all their other such equipment?  Why were two soldiers dropped off?  To use night goggles?  Hardly.

The “security boat” as he approached our ship.

We’re assuming that the ship staff, in an attempt to avoid fear and panic, have been instructed to report the contents of the black cases contained “security equipment.”  We understand their reasons to lie to us and in essence, respect it. 

After a hysterical time at dinner last night at a table for eight with non-stop laughing, we meandered back to our cabin, smiles on our faces from yet another enjoyable evening at a “shared” table.  One couple was from Australia, another from England and a third from Florida, whom we’ve made plans to meet up with again tonight.

When we returned to our cabin around 10:30 pm, our room darkened as instructed, drapes tightly pulled, we settled into bed.  Minutes after dosing off, I awakened to a sensation of a bright light filtering through the crack in the drapes.

As the boat took off, after unloading the two security personnel and the black boxes.
Awakening Tom, he bolted out of bed, running to the window to peek out. Seeing the light, he cautiously opened the balcony door only to discover that the cabin next to us had not followed security protocol by having their drapes wide open and lights turned on.

What’s with people?  It was a simple requirement, easy to follow, affecting the safety of everyone on board.  It’s the same mentality of guests who become ill while cruising and don’t bother to stay in their cabins during the infectious period, infecting everything they touch resulting in the illness of many others.

This morning at 8:00 am, after our good night’s sleep, Captain Fleming’s voice once again blared on the loudspeakers, thanking us all for our cooperation, reporting a safe uneventful night. 

After the boat departed, we found our way to an observation deck and shot this photo of the pool area, as it thinned out in the late afternoon.  (This shot was taken after I figured out the incorrect setting on the new camera.  Bear with us, as we learn to each use it properly).

Hopefully, expectantly and most likely, we’ll hear such announcements each morning as we continue on our journey to Dubai, to arrive next Tuesday.

We’ll keep you updated as we continue on and on, and on.

No water, day 2…

Wildebeest Willie, our most regular wildebeest visitor.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 11 warthogs – inc. Fred, and Ethyl, Tiny and Little, Benny, Henny, Lenny, and Penny
  • 6 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 1 wildebeest – Broken Horn
  • 8 kudus – inc. 1 Medium Daddy, 1 mom, and baby, Bossy and Notches
  • 6 hornbills
  • Frank and The Misses

It’s not surprising to us that we don’t have water. It’s either no electricity due to downed power lines or load shedding, no WiFi when the power is out, or a tower is damaged, and now, no water. Not a trickle. We don’t fuss over this. There’s nothing to be accomplished in doing so.

Warthogs in a scuffle over pellets.

Last night, we put our dirty dishes in the dishwasher after carefully scraping the plates. Then, we brought in a big bucket of pool water to flush the toilet. This morning, I warmed up bottled water from the water machine in the microwave to take a “sponge bath.” We have plenty of bottled drinking water, ice cubes, and ice tea Tom made for the big spouted pitcher.

This morning, Louise sent the following message:

“[05/31, 08:05] Denis Gofinet: The water tanker will be at Marlothi Shopping at 09:00 this morning. You can fill up your containers. Waiting for an update on the Eskom repair. We will keep you posted. [05/31, 08:06] Denis Gofinet: Message from the Muni: Hectorspruit, the treatment plant, is pumping currently. Marloth Park is still not pumping. I believe Eskom is still busy replacing stolen components. We have also arranged for a water tanker to assist Marloth park with some water until Eskom has completed their works and the Marloth plant is also running. Thanks.”

Mom and two babies.

We do not need to fill up containers from the water tanker, certainly not for drinking or bathing. The cleanliness of that water could easily be questionable. Many locals have become adapted to the local water over a period of years and won’t get sick from drinking it. For us, that’s not the case. We take no chances.

Based on Louise’s above message, the entire water issue results from the theft of various components used by Eskom, the electric company, to run the pumps. This is not unusual in South Africa. Crime is rampant, and this part of the country is no exception. However, crime is considerably less prevalent in Marloth Park than, let’s say, in Johannesburg, Pretoria,  Cape Town, Durban, or other big cities.

It seems as if we have a lot of warthogs right now. But, as winter approaches, there will be more and more other species coming to the garden.

This little haven in the bush does provide an element of safety compared to many other areas. We are very grateful for this, yet we’re always “on-guard,” utilizing our security system, keeping doors locked day and night, and keeping out a watchful eye.

When we spend time outdoors on the veranda, as we’re doing now as I write this, we bring all of our equipment indoors if we so much as go to the bathroom or to get a glass of ice tea. There have been countless cases of residents leaving their laptops and phones on their veranda table, only to wander indoors for a few minutes, to return and find their equipment is gone.

Two wildebeest, Willie and Willard snacking on pellets.

Each week, there are burglaries of TVs, digital equipment, and household goods of any value. Weekly, we see the reports on Facebook. So when Tom leaves me alone at the house, I stay indoors, lock the doors and set the alarm. Fortunately, the local security company responds quickly when an alarm goes off.

Yesterday, when we uploaded the post, we had water. An hour later, we did not. So, continuing today on Day 2, we are without water. It could be a few more days or longer until it’s restored. In the interim, we are fine. I am still recovering with considerable improvement daily. I should be able to go to the river with Rita and Gerhard tomorrow afternoon, but at this point, we’re playing it by ear.

Crooked Face, a unique and handsome devil.

Today, it’s cool and cloudy. We are still wearing sweatshirts with long pants. Tonight, we’ll hunker down for a nice steak dinner cooked on the braai. We have power. We have WiFi. We’re content.

Be content and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2020:

In Abu Dhabi in UAE. This looks similar to an ATM, but it’s actually a gold dispensing machine, not an ATM. For more photos, please click here.

It’s been a long and hard year for all of us…

The mongoose went on a frenzy taking the whole eggs out of the pan, cracking them on rocks, and eating the contents.

It’s easy to sit here in relative bliss in the bush, reveling in the endless treasures Mother Nature doles out day after day, combined with a pleasing social life, financial stability, and hopefully, improving good health. Tom takes no prescription medication and I’m down to two little tablets a day plus a baby aspirin and a small handful of supplements recommended as useful during the pandemic.

There’s little reason for us to worry or feel stressed. Sure, we’re concerned about the safety of leaving for Kenya in a mere 13 days and if we’ll be able to continue to avoid contracting Covid during the upcoming travel days and proximity to others on game drives.

Sure, we’re thinking about how we’ll be able to be vaccinated when more and more travel venues are requiring vaccinations to be able to cruise, fly, and use other means of transportation. But, this type of concern is no different from the concerns of many who are anxious to get back out there and travel once again. It’s been a hard year for all of us.

This morning’s mongoose mania in the garden. Tiny is in the background. He wasn’t thrilled to see the mongoose and headed out into the bush and waited for them to eventually leave.

When we look back at the past year, which is hard to avoid, my heart is heavy over the loss of my dear sister Susan in August 2020, with whom I shared a lifetime bond that was precious and meaningful. Through all these years of world travel, we spoke frequently, often every week, sharing stories, laughing, and dreaming for the future. I miss her.

Three other family members contracted Covid-19 and their recovery was frightening and worrisome. My other sister Julie still suffers from “long-haul” Covid symptoms. No doubt, many of you have lost loved ones and friends during the pandemic, leaving each of us saddened and heartbroken over the ravages of this relentless virus.

During that 10 months in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, it was easy to let my mind play tricks on me when even the slightest pain or discomfort made me concerned about how I’d be able to see a doctor with the poor conditions in India. It wasn’t safe to go out when doctors weren’t seeing patients, other than those with Covid in special facilities, often in a makeshift parking lot or tented areas.

The mongooses also like to drink out of the birdbath’s lower section. It’s comforting to be providing clean water for our visitors.

Most heart surgery patients are particularly sensitive about a moment of chest pain, breathlessness, or other potential heart attack or stroke symptoms. I’m no exception. It only takes a slight case of indigestion to make us worry it’s something more. Even at times, when Tom had an ache or pain, we wondered what we’d do, if seeing a doctor was necessary. Need I say, these situations were stressful.

The thought that I had an abscessed tooth weighed heavily on me during that period, wondering how serious it could get if left untreated for too long. As it turned out, as mentioned in a prior post, it wasn’t an abscess. It was a sinus infection or allergy as determined by a recent visit to a well-regarded oral surgeon in Malelane.

Then, there was the worry during the first five or six months that the hotel would close and we’d have nowhere to go. When our supplies ran low, we ordered a package of items from the US, which we couldn’t buy in India, only to spend months attempting to get the package delivered to us at the hotel, via FedEx.

The mongoose quickly gathered around the pan of whole eggs Tom placed on the ground. Also, we give them scraps of meat and fat since they are omnivores.

It was a nightmare when India had endless requirements with complicated forms and documents to complete in order to receive a package. It was a source of worry for months and especially, more so when we had to pay almost US $300, ZAR 4499, in customs fees.

Without a doubt, the circumstances could have been much worse. However, we humans may think that a situation could be more challenging, but find ourselves caught up in the situation at hand. It doesn’t help a person who’s broken their leg to say, “Well, you could have lost your leg.” It’s no different if someone said to me, “Get over the bites that itch all night long and keep you awake. You could have been bitten by a snake.” Everything is relative.

When we think of all the people who’ve lost their jobs, their businesses, their financial security, their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, we are saddened. None of us have been untouched by this in one way or another. These are difficult times.

This Mr. Bushbuck has longer horns than some males.

Today, not necessarily a special day, we reflect on the past year and celebrate the abundance and fulfillment we’re experiencing now. But, we’ll never forget this past year, nor should we. It’s a frame of reference that will always remind us to be grateful for what we have and how we’ve come out on the other side.

No, it’s not over yet, and the future is uncertain and frightening at times, but we carry on with hope in our hearts and optimism for the future.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2020:

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks earlier, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Later, in lockdown in Mumbai, it starting to look appetizing to both of us. For more, please click here.
Day #161 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Mad about this…Are you, too?

Day #161 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Mad about this…Are you, too?

We’re still working on a few issues on our new site. Mainly, we’ve been getting many email messages from readers who fortunately had access to our email addresses, they can’t load our link. To them, it appears we are down. Obviously, for those of you seeing our new posts each day, this is not an issue. However, many readers need to empty their “cache” in order to bring up our same web address:

Today’s photos are from this date in 2014, as we boarded yet another cruise. Please see this link here for more.

On our way through London to the Harwich pier, we spotted a number of popular attractions including this church.

This transpired due to the fact we changed our hosting company from Blogger to Hostinger, although our web address didn’t change. Those reader’s computers or devices are “remembering” the old link pointing to the former hosting company. I hope somehow those readers who don’t have access to our email, are able to figure out that we haven’t stopped posting and are still here, hoping to be so for more years to come.

Otherwise, all is moving along well. As mentioned earlier, I am going back through each of our 3,000 posts and correcting errors. I started making corrections beginning on the post on March 15, 2012. But, as of today, I am only up to October 12, 2012, with lots more to go. It takes at least an hour to edit 20 posts. I will be at this for months to come.

Buckingham Palace.

In between walking, posting, editing and handling other general business stuff, my days are full until finally in the late afternoon we can take a break to start streaming a few shows and escape from our confinement reality.

There’s a harsh reality that’s been on my mind, especially after reading the text in the “year ago post” mentioned below in this post.

Big Ben was to the right in this shot but I had no way to get the photo in traffic.

It wasn’t that I’d suddenly and miraculously started feeling better after enough time had passed since I’d had open heart surgery in February 2019, which at that point had only been 6½ months earlier. It was due to the fact that I was finally off three heart medications with side effects that were stripping me of any possibility of a quality of life.

At the rate I was going at that point, we’d surely have had to return to the US, for me to sign up for Medicare to become the proverbial patient, frequently visiting the doctor with a plethora of chronic symptoms and given more medication to treat those symptoms, rather than look at how these three drugs were impacting my life.

Ferris Wheel in London referred to as the “Eye.”

It wasn’t an easy decision to stop taking these drugs and I didn’t do so lightly. I spent hundreds of hours in research determining the potential risks if I stopped them. After following strict guidelines on how to wean off of these three drugs, finally on this date one year ago I was free.

The change in my pain levels and lack of mobility dramatically impacted my state of mind and hopefulness. After I stopped the drugs, I no longer needed to be lying down most of the day, no longer felt listless and sleepy and could bound about the house with the similar zing in my step before I had the dreadful surgery.

A fast shot  taken from the taxi, of the Tower of London.

Although my legs tire easily while walking due to ongoing vascular disease, I continue to work past it hoping someday this will improve. Otherwise, in the interim, other than a typical ache or pain here and there, not uncommon at my age, I feel good. No doubt, certain positions precipitate a pain in my chest where my sternum was wired back together, such as when getting in or out of bed. I expect this discomfort to last indefinitely.

However, I’m mad. Sure, I may have been given extra years of life having had  triple cardiac bypass surgery with three arteries 100% blocked (heredity) and for that I am grateful. But, I didn’t feel badly before the surgery, other than pain in my jaw which ultimately proved to be the warning sign of cardiovascular disease. Women, pay attention. This is a common symptom for women, whereby men may be more inclined to have arm or chest pain.

Not sure as to the name of this memorial as we zoomed past.

In any case, why am I mad? Simple answer, folks, which many of you will relate to…time is passing while in lockdown, chipping away at any potential time I have left on this earth. I am 72 years old and now have spent five months in lockdown in this hotel in Mumbai India. We could be looking at five, six or seven more months trapped here.

Will we end up wasting an entire year of our lives, at this later point lost, sitting in a hotel room, when we could be out seeing  more of the world, more than we have in the past many years of world travel? What a waste of precious time! I believe this bothers me more now than it would have if I’d been 20, 30, 40 years old. But at 72, one could easily be wasting 10% or more of their time left on  this earth.

A memorial near Buckingham Palace. With WiFi restrictions, we’re unable to look up the names of these monuments.

This is not intended to diminish the sorrow for those and their family members directly impacted by the horrors of COVID-19. My heart breaks for all of these people, as well as those who’ve lost their jobs, financial security, and countless families with children unable to attend school who are missing a vital aspect of their growth and development.

On top of that, the sad scenarios all over the world of wars, looting, rioting, shootings and unjust, befallen upon citizens, and peacekeepers from every faction of life. It’s heartbreaking. There’s war transpiring in India right now at the India/’Chinese border. We live in trying times.

At last our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

But, everything is relative. And a family stuck indoors without being able to go out to dinner, a movie, bowling or sporting events, requiring their young children to wear masks and stay away from other people, has its own set of woes and frustrations. This can’t be good for their young emotional state, let alone that of their parents.

All we can do at this point is “our part” to avoid infecting others, by social distancing, wearing masks and making every attempt to stay safe and healthy until this scourge in human history eventually wafts away.

We always appreciate having a sofa in the cabin as opposed to lying on the bed when relaxing.

I pray for all of us, our safety, our personal freedoms, and our dedication to hope for the future. Be well.


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

Colorful buildings create a pretty scene on the narrow roads in small towns in Cornwall. For more photos, please click here..

Day #135 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More photos from Paris in 2014…Yes, I’m scared…

We spotted several merry-go-rounds while walking in Paris.

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 August 5, 2014, while in Paris, France. See the link here for more photos.
To the right in this photo is the City of Architecture and Heritage. On the left is the Palais de Chaillot.

Several readers have written inquiring why we haven’t taken advantage of a few available international flights that are flying out of Mumbai later this month. As it turns out, many of these flights are for repatriation purposes only and others are flying to a few major cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia none of which we are interested in visiting at this time.

Beautiful sculptures at the City of Architecture and Heritage.
These flights are to locations that continue to see rising numbers of cases of COVID-19 which we’re striving to avoid. If we have to wait it out here to ensure we can travel to desired locations with reduced amounts of virus and have acquired experience in handling outgoing and incoming international travelers.
Another photo of the museum at the City of Architecture and Heritage.
India is working diligently to ensure safe outgoing and incoming international travel. But in a few months, their systems will undoubtedly be revised to further enhance the quality of the protection. We’d rather safely wait it out in the cocoon of this hotel than risk the virus in inexperienced environments.
This building reminded me of an area in Minneapolis, Minnesota called “The Wedge.”
As all of us have seen since the onset of the virus, medical professionals and organizations have revised their recommendations for safety as more and more scenarios are studied. At this point, much of the information is still up in the air.
We stumbled upon the famous Peninsula Hotel where the basic room is US $1500 per night, EI $1117.
But, so far, it appears wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing hands appear to be the universal consensus. But, what about using a restroom in an airport, let alone on an airplane on an extended or overnight flight? What safety measures will be exercised at security check-in, immigration, and while waiting in line to board the plane? What safety measures will be enhanced as time marches on? 
Our walk down the road as we approached the Arc de Triomphe.
How safe will it be to ride in a taxi to and from the airport? How safe is the counter at the car rental facility, let alone the rental car itself and the driver who drove the car to us? 

Bottom line? What will be the consequences of spending an extra few months in this hotel lockdown compared to the rest of our lives, possibly extended by staying safe especially since I am at high risk?
The Arc de Triomphe was a busy location filled with cars and tourists.
Here is information on those with high risk for COVID-19 from this site:
*People above 60 years of age with any of the following conditions: 
Chronic heart disease; hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, people
undergoing dialysis, chronic liver disease 
 Chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis or severe asthma 
 Chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron
disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy 
 Problems with spleen, such as sickle cell disease, or splenectomy
 Weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or
medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy 
 People with organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression
 People with cancer undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy, cancers of
the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia who are at any stage of treatment
Midway through our walk, we stopped for beverages. Tom had a non-specialty beer and I had bottled water. Total cost EU $14, US $18.80
I have indicated in red the comorbidities that apply to me at this point, most of which are at the top of the list. Of course, we must be cautious, as would be the case with anyone over 60 years old even without these conditions.
From our vantage point, we were unable to see the name of this church but we were fascinated with its architecture. 
So what if we are stuck in a hotel room as long as we’re healthy? It’s certainly a lot easier than being in a hospital ICU on a respirator. I remember what that felt like only 18 months ago in ICU, unable to speak and feeling as if I was choking to death. No, thank you. 
The Flame of Liberty we passed on our walk. Behind it is the tunnel in which Princess Diana was killed on August 30, 1997. We drove through this tunnel in a taxi on our way to Le Louvre.
Perhaps, that awful experience alone inspires me to be all the more cautious. Perhaps, when my heart rate was 260 BPM and I had to be anesthetized to have my heart electrically restarted (cardioversion) to become more stable. Perhaps, when I was trapped in the recovery room, alone for hours after surgery on my infected legs, when the power went out in the hospital and the elevator wouldn’t work to take me back to my room. It’s no wonder that I might be a little scared. 
Many delis and bakeries line the boulevards.
Whew! I am grateful to be alive. There is no way I’m willing to take a risk and become infected with COVID-19, whatever it takes. And, I’m grateful for Tom for understanding where I am on this. He supports me 100% but certainly wouldn’t be quite as cautious if it weren’t for me.
Bins of delectable appearing treats in a Middle Eastern candy shop.
Each of us has the privilege of deciding how far we’ll go to protect ourselves and our families, within the guidelines of laws and our level of personal responsibility to those around us, in our cities, our towns, and even our own backyards.
 We visited a local market to purchase nuts for snacking.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2019:

A pretty rainbow behind the Twelve Bens mountains from our holiday home in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more photos.

No easy answers…

The main entrance to the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, the hotel which has welcomed us with open arms. We are very grateful.

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

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

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

 This sign is posted near the entrance to the hotel is guarded. No new guests are accepted for occupancy.

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

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

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

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

Coffee bar near the casual dining room.

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

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

The casual dining room where we have breakfast and dinner.

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

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

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

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

A beautiful long staircase leading to the mezzanine level.

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

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

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

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

The seating area near the reception desk.

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


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

We made it to Mumbai…13 hours until we return to the airport…Broken suitcase dilemma…

While traveling on the historic Toy Train through the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, the train stopped for a food break at this quaint station.

It’s Thursday, March 19th. In 14 hours, at 3:00 am, we’ll be picked up by a driver to return to the Mumbai Airport, which we left only hours ago. We barely slept last night after the late arrival at our hotel and tonight after dinner, we’ll try to get some sleep before the 2:15 am wake-up call.

When we’d originally arrived in Mumbai, security at the airport has broken the zipper on our third checked bag. With no way to repair it, we left it behind crammed with “stuff” for the hotel to hold for us until we returned. 

We couldn’t purchase a new bag until after we arrived in Mumbai since we’d have to pay excess baggage fees to bring it with us. We’ve had no choice but to go out today to purchase a new bag. 
The first palace we visited on a tour from the Maharajas Express was the City Palace, also known as the Shiv Niwas Palace.

The hotel manager told us some luggage shops are still open in the area in light of the Covid-19 fears and soon we’ll get a tuk-tuk to take us to a few nearby luggage shops.

We’d make an effort to unload most of our rupees but now, if they don’t accept a credit card, we’ll also have to go to an ATM to pay for the bag. But first, we’ll see if we can locate a bag and the cost. We don’t want to be left with rupees when we soon depart.

What an unusual seat!

The two flights from Madurai to Mumbai (via Chennai) were packed with face-masked travelers. For the first time, we both wore masks throughout the flights although we realize its not a 100% guarantee of safety from the virus.

We wiped down the armrests, tray table, and seat belt buckles with the Clorox wipes I’ve been carrying in a plastic bag. They sure have come in handy. Every hour or so, we used hand sanitizer and a few times, went to the bathroom and washed our hands with soap and water. What more could we have done?
View of the city from the palace in Udaipur.

Basically, once we have the new bag, we’ll need to repack to distribute the weight properly to comply with Kenya Airways baggage restrictions. They allow two-23 kg (50 pounds) bags each which we can manage easily once we have the new bag.

I can’t wait to have this new bag thing over with to allow a little time to relax before tonight and tomorrow’s big travel challenge. We’re still uncertain if we’ll be able to get into South Africa, let alone change planes in Nairobi, before we even arrive in SA.
Gold was often used in creating artifacts in palaces.

Update:  It’s now almost 2:00 pm and we recently returned from a 20-minute tuk-tuk ride through traffic to a Luggage World store (go figure). We easily found a “Swiss (army knife people) 26” bag in bright yellow for IDR 7000, US $93.25. We prefer unusual colors in bags making them easier to spot on the carousel. They accepted a credit card and we didn’t have to go to an ATM.

We took everything out of the old supply bag, throwing out a number of items and packed the new bag which now meets baggage regulations. Our other bags are packed for leaving in the middle of the night tonight after leaving out comfortable clothes and shoes for the long journey. 
At the nightly closing of the border ceremony between India and Pakistan, the Border Security Force members were aligned and ready to perform.

Whew! That was labor-intensive after only a few hours of sleep! The rest of the day, we can chill, avoiding any naps so we’ll be able to fall asleep after dinner. I’d intended to do the final expenses for our time in India, but I think I’ll save it for the 12-hour layover in Kenya, during which I’ll prepare and upload tomorrow’s post. 

Well, folks, the next time you hear from us, (tomorrow) hopefully, will be from the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. And after that, may safari luck be with us, from Marloth Park, South Africa. If you first see a pig as the main photo on March 22nd, you’ll know we’ve arrived!!!

The 108 foot Lord Hanuman at the Jakhoo Temple, in Shimla.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch surfaces. Stay far away from others, if you can. And somehow, enjoy this quiet time doing things you may have wanted to do for a long time but never had the time.

Thanks, again for all of the well wishes. We’ll be thinking of all of you!


Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2019:

Mom and three babies.  The fourth baby who’d been missing for several days never reappeared. For more photos, please click here.