Here’s the latest newspaper story about us!…

Former Chanhassen couple spends 10 months under lockdown at hotel in India

By Lydia Christianson lchristianson@swpub.com
    12 hrs ago

More information

Here’s the link to the article as shown here today:

Learn more about the travels of Jess and Tom Lyman at worldwidewaftage.com

The Lymans

Jess and Tom Lyman have been traveling around the world for nearly nine years.

Jess and Tom Lyman, former residents of Chanhassen, have been traveling the world for almost nine years.

Nothing “short of death” has been able to put a stop to their adventuring, not even Jess’s emergency open-heart surgery, performed in South Africa in 2019.

But then, COVID-19 hit.

The Lymans were visiting the U.S. in January 2020 when they first got wind of COVID-19. They were leaving to travel in India, so were sure to pack N99 masks to combat the smog. Little did they know they’d also be using them for other purposes.

The couple took a week-long trip on the Maharaja Express, getting off along the way to take tours. It was the first week of February when the train ended and the Lymans had scheduled a private tour of India that included driving and flying.

“It was an extraordinary experience that it was just the two of us,” Jess said. “We were having the time of our lives.”

In March, the couple learned a cruise they had booked, which had prompted them to go to India in the first place, was canceled due to COVID-19. At that point, they decided to cancel the tour and go back to Mumbai.

The Lymans checked into a hotel that was already holding some of their luggage. They booked a flight to Johannesburg so they could get to Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary positioned on the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Arriving at the airport at 3 a.m. for a red-eye out of Mumbai, they found out South Africa was closing its borders. The Lymans headed back to a hotel they stayed at in January, only to find out it was closing a couple days later due to the pandemic. But, the hotel had arranged another place for them to stay.

“Hotels were closing so rapidly you wouldn’t believe it. It was like doors slamming one after another,” Jess said.

Upon arriving, not only had the hotel never heard of them, they were closing the next morning. The Lymans had nowhere to go but tried to remain calm. They stayed in the hotel lobby for several hours searching for hotels or vacation homes, with the help of the concierge.

“He said the only hotels I can find for you, are those that have COVID patients, because there’s no room in the hospitals for them,” Jess said.

The Lymans

The Lymans were traveling in India before a nationwide lockdown was announced.

Lockdown begins

Finally, the concierge found a hotel near the airport that they could stay at for the night. The hotel said they were open, but couldn’t make any guarantees for how long, Jess said. It was March 24, the day a nationwide lockdown was ordered.

The Lymans spent 10 months living at the hotel.

One of the restrictions of the lockdown involved a ban of alcohol sales. The hotel staff came into their room to empty out the mini-fridge. The couple was also told they couldn’t go down to the hotel restaurant and that their food would be delivered to the room.

Neither of the Lymans eat Indian food. Tom is a “picky eater” so he ate chicken penne pasta every night for dinner for eight months. Jess ate salmon and chicken on rotation for dinner for all 10 months.

“I haven’t had a piece of salmon since we got out of there,” Jess said, with a laugh.

The Lymans weren’t supposed to go outside, because the hotel didn’t want them bringing COVID-19 back with them. However, they were allowed to walk around the floor they were staying on. Jess would walk five miles through the corridors while Tom walked the stairs.

Mumbai hotel
A screen capture of the view from the Lyman’s Mumbai hotel from a video Jess posted. The video of her walk through the hotel corridors can be found at bit.ly/hotelcorridor.

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2020:

This photo from this date in 2014, posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India on day #157.My dinner at Bella Italia of two small chicken breasts in a pot of red sauce with a side of grilled vegetables. For more, please click here.

A visit to Kruger National Park with many special sightings!…

Today, Ken took this playful elephant baby photo. What a fantastic shot!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Ken’s photo:  A Southern Carmine Bee-Eater they spotted today in Kruger National Park, the first sighting for him and Linda.

Today, my plan had been an entirely different topic than our visit to Kruger this morning. Not only did we take off for the park now that the holidaymakers mainly had left the area, but Linda and Ken and Rita and Gerhard had also done the same.

The baby elephant is at play with family members.

We prefer to go into the park on our own since it’s never easy taking photos from the back seat of a standard car.  Besides, experienced self-drive enthusiasts each has their particular way of searching for wildlife and routes they prefer to take.

As it turned out, we met Rita and Gerhard for lunch at the Mugg & Bean for a delightful lunch and conversation, as always. By the time we returned to the house, Linda and Ken were already sitting on the veranda working on their photos from the day’s self-drive and offered to include several of their photos for today’s post.

There were six giraffes in this particular tower.

With company coming for dinner (friends of Linda and Ken’s) at 1700 hours (5:00 pm), the two are preparing and cooking the meal. I was left with 90 minutes to complete today’s post, about one-third of the time I usually spend.

I’d taken over 100 photos today, and the time required to go through all of them would occupy the entire 90 minutes I had allowed to get this uploaded. Thus, I’m doing the best I can and apologize for any brevity and errors in my haste.

Elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade.

With only 27 days remaining until we leave Marloth Park, we may only visit Kruger National Park a few more times. Today proved to be a special day with several good sightings and the lack of tourists in the park.  

Unfortunately, obstructed by vegetation, it was challenging to get good photos of the five lions we spotted near the entrance to Crocodile Bridge. This may have been five of the notorious Verhami Pride.

Although there would be three or four vehicles jockeying for position at notable sightings, overall, traveling through the park was easy. After stopping and staying so long at the lion sighting toward the end of the day, we realized we needed to get the show on the road and get back.

The dinner guests will arrive in less than 30 minutes, and I need to shower again (another hot, sweaty day) and make myself presentable for the evening on the veranda.

In a hurry to get back to the house to do today’s post, these were the best we could get of this pride of lions.

Over the past 48 hours, we’ve been bombarded by biting flies. I can’t type more than a few words, and I have to stop swat flies, hornets, and wasps away from my sweaty face.  But, as they say, TIA, aka “This is Africa,” and that’s the price we pay to enjoy such wonders as we’re showing here today in our photos.

In the next several days, we’ll include more photos from today’s trip to Kruger and a fascinating story for tomorrow when I’ll have more time to be more detail-oriented.

Have a spectacular day and evening, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2018:

Tom is quite a history buff and is particularly fascinated with older structures. For more photos of Recoleta, please click here.

Hippo Day!…First time sighting since our arrival…Exceptional dinner party…

At first, with the naked eye, we thought this was a rhino from way across the river. Tom looked through the binoculars while I zoomed in for a photo to delightfully discover it was a hippo, the first we’d seen since our arrival. That’s a cattle egret near their head.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Gecko on the orange wall at night.  Check out the “red-eye.” Where’s the tail?

With company coming for dinner and with most of the food prepped, we decided to take a drive to the Crocodile River since, after the rains, we’d hoped to see more wildlife.

In my old life, I’d never have taken the time on a day company was coming for dinner when I’d be too busy to take a few hours for frivolities. This life is different, allowing me time and motivation to do exactly whatever strikes me at the moment.

We took off in the little blue car after stopping at the petrol station to add air to a low tire (which seems to be holding up OK), and off we went on the outrageously bumpy dirt roads that take us to the river.

Since hippos stay close to the water and the river so low recently, we hadn’t expected to see any hippos, not from Marloth Park or Kruger National Park.

It was hot, humid and the air felt thick.  Bugs congregated around us each time we stopped and got out of the car to scan the riverbanks for possible sightings. We stopped at the usual brick overlook structure but didn’t see a thing. 

A group of tourists relaxed on the tiered seating having lunch and drinks. It’s always busier on these roads and overlooks on the weekends when many South Africans from other areas flock to Marloth Park for a few days of “holiday fun” among the precious wildlife, often retreating from the “extra” humans in the park.

We’ve noticed that generally, we have fewer visitors to our house on weekends. The only thing we can attribute this to is the added cars and people visiting. Could the wildlife prefer to stay “undercover” when there are so many humans milling about?

The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal from this site. The hippo is considered the most dangerous mammal in Africa. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour, and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20-inch canines.”
I suppose the longer we’re here; we’ve become protective of this unique location, preferring it to stay natural and unencumbered with the likes of too many tourists coming and going, often staying for only two or three days.
Then again, the revenue generated by tourists is vital for many of the shops, lodges, and homeowners renting their properties to incoming tourists.

Sadly, some tourists ruin it for everyone, disturbing the quiet and easy flow of life in this veritable paradise for animal lovers and those seeking the serenity of this magical world, so far removed from everyday life.

We watched for some time, attempting to get a better photo of this hippo with a few oxpeckers on them, clearing off the insects.

As we drove along the river, eyes searching to the distant shore, we spotted something dark and mysterious across the river. Keeping in mind, we could be talking about a distance of up to one kilometer (.62 miles) from our vantage point, making photo taking with our less fancy camera a bit tricky to get a clear shot.

Tom maneuvered the car into a perfect place to park while we got out and walked through brush and grass to get as close as possible. Getting closer by 15 meters (50 feet) is nothing compared to the distance from the sighting, but we forged along anyway.

It was challenging to get a more explicit photo at such a distance, but we were nonetheless thrilled to get these photos.

The perception that moving even such a short distance closer would enhance the quality of our photos, spurred us on. Batting off flies and other insects, we steadied ourselves as much as possible to take today’s hippo photos.

We’d love to have seen more hippos like we had while in the Masai Mara, Kenya, in 2013. But, with the inaccessibility of the Crocodile River, we happily take what we can get, always thrilled in the process.  Here’s a photo of hippos we’d taken while on safari in Kenya:

We captured this “bloat” of hippos along the Mara River during our first hour on safari in Kenya in 2013.  Here’s the link from that date.

The above photo doesn’t in any manner make us feel, “Oh, that was then.  This is now.” Instead, we think in terms of our collective worldwide experiences. Africa presented these experiences to us. When?…is irrelevant, so it’s easy for us to revel in one hippo knowing we had the above opportunity long ago and perhaps will have more in the future.

Here’s another photo we posted on Tom’s birthday, December 23, 2013, of this glorious hippo at sunset as we crossed the Crocodile River:

As the sun went down, the reflection on this hippo in the Crocodile River on Tom’s birthday in 2013 was unique.  For the link from that date, please click here.
Yesterday, as we continued, we were breathless over other encounters on the road back to our property, photos which we’ll share in the next few days.  Each time we embark on a drive, we have few expectations, and, in one way or another, we’re always pleasantly surprised. This upcoming week, we’ll head back to Kruger, this time staying on the paved roads.

As for last night’s dinner party of six, it was delightful.  Our friends Lynne and Mick and Janet and Steve were here for what proved to be a near-perfect evening. As always, the conversation flowed with ease, and the pace was low-key and stress-free. 
Each time we go to the river, the first animal we long to see is an elephant.  We’re seldom disappointed.

We were pleased they enjoyed our meal of mozzarella stuffed meatballs, topped with homemade marinara and two kinds of cheese along with a side of bacony green beans and salad. For dessert, we served ice cream bars and coffee with cream. After they left, at almost 11:00 pm, Tom had a lot of dishes to wash, but together we cleaned up and awoke to only a few things left to do this morning.

In yesterday’s post, I mistakenly mentioned Janet and Steve would be away for some time. As it turns out, they’ll be back in Marloth in no time at all, and we look forward to seeing them again soon. 

This big guy took water into his trunk and sprayed it on his back to cool off on a scorching day.

Lynne and Mick return to their home in Jersey (UK) for many months in a few days. We won’t see them again until November other than to run over to their home this afternoon to say goodbye and see their newly thatched roof (almost done). Later we’ll return “home” to some mighty fine leftovers.

Last night’s sunset, after our guests arrived, was hard to see through the trees.

That’s it for today, folks. Of course, we’ll always be on the lookout for more to share with each of you every single day! Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2017:

Volleyball competitors are warming up for tournaments in Manly, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Halfway through our Marloth Park rental….Another dinner party for six…Back to my old ways?…

From this site“Flapping the ears can express excitement and joy. This sound causes other elephants to prick up their ears and contact the first elephant. In turn, the beating of the ears on the skin can be heard. In hot weather, elephants use their ears primarily to cool down.”  We suspect it was cooling down with temps well into 40C (90F) when we took this photo.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This female kudu was comfortable eating carrots out of my hand.

This evening we’re having dinner guests only a few days before the two couples, Janet and Steve and Lynne and Mick, each takes off for their respective homes in the UK, staying for several months. We’ll look forward to their return!

In the interim, Kathy and Don are returning to Marloth Park in a week, and we’ll certainly enjoy spending time with them while they’re staying at their lovely home in Marloth Park. Linda and Ken will return in June or thereabouts, and we look forward to seeing them soon.

This is how it goes for many homeowners in Marloth Park, primarily based in other parts of the world, returning for one, two, or three-month stints a few times a year.

The first thing we look for when driving along the river is elephants.

Many South Africans have homes in other parts of the country, returning to Marloth as their part-time holiday home. Few rent homes, like us. Most own two or more homes, traveling back and forth between their various properties.

That life never appealed to us. We’ve wanted to be free to travel to wherever we may choose, at any given time. Did we contemplate having a home here, considering how much we love it? Perhaps for one second. 

But then, the thought wafted away when we realize we’re most fulfilled continuing on this path of life-on-the-move, one that works magically for who we are and who’ve we’ve become over these past years. Why change what’s working so well and for which we’re ultimately fulfilled and happy?

We spotted this elephant from the overlook shelter along the river a few days ago.

In the interim, Louise informed us, if we’d like, we can stay in this same house, named “Orange…More than Just a Colour” for our entire remaining year until we board a ship one year from today, March 24, 2019, leaving for the US for another family visit. 

We had a choice to stay in this house or move to another home. But, we like the house enough to stay another year, if Louise and the owners will have us.  We’ve offered to move out for specific periods if they find other renters willing to pay more. We can move on a dime! Louise assures us that’s unlikely.

How do we feel about staying in one property for such an extended period?  Surprisingly, quite good. Many animals have already come to know us and will continue to do so as time marches on. The house is comfortable (we only use the main floor) and has everything we can need.

Could this be a courting male and female?

Then, as we plan visits to other countries in Africa over this upcoming year, we’ll have a place to leave our stuff, packing only what we’ll need for the specific trip. This gives us peace of mind and makes these side-trips considerably easier.

This morning, up and at ’em early, I started chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner party. Yesterday afternoon, I also did a little prep, making the remainder of today low-key and easy. 

Entertaining in this lifestyle is very different from our former lives. I put so much pressure on myself, planning elaborate meals and setting an elaborate table, often for many guests.

We often wonder about a lone elephant.  Is it a male that has been ejected from the family who now has to make his way in life, finding a mate, to later be off on his own once again?

I plan easy homemade meals that don’t require endless hours of standing in the kitchen in this life. There’s no need to make vast numbers of appetizers, side dishes, and desserts. No one here seems interested in desserts, so I don’t bake as I would have years ago.

The best part is I don’t feel bad about cooking less elaborate meals. I’ve changed so much over these past years, no longer striving to be the consummate hostess, finding simple, delicious meals is ideal in the bush, whether made in a pot or on the braai (barbecue).

The only thing I miss is linen napkins. The paper napkins sold in the area are small and flimsy. Nothing is more admirable than a cloth napkin for guests. I guess I have to let that go. 

Waterbucks at the Crocodile River. 

Soon, we’ll jump in the new little blue car and head to the local market to buy more paper napkins, bringing the camera with us as always, perhaps seeing “someone” special along the way.

It’s a good life here. There’s absolutely nothing that has disappointed us during these past six weeks since our arrival. Often, when people “return,” their expectations are so high they cannot be fulfilled. For us, Marloth Park is more exciting than it was four years ago.

Maybe we’re wiser, more tolerant, and with fewer expectations after what we’ve learned during these past years. We don’t fuss over the heat, the bugs, and the days when few visitors stop by. It’s all a part of living in the bush in this extraordinary place, unlike any other, anywhere in the world. We’re grateful.

May your day find you feeling grateful and fulfilled.

Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2017:

It was four years ago today, on March 2, 2014, that we began posting this feature, “Photo from one year ago today.” a rare moment of a blue sky with rainy, cloudy skies day after day since we’d arrived in Fairlight almost two weeks earlier. For more Australian photos, please click here.  

The falling leaves make us sad…Today is the first day of fall in South Africa…Socializing galore!!!…

I was indoors preparing dinner while Tom noticed this mongoose digging a hole in the yard.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A grasshopper we found on new friends Janet and Steve’s veranda. Four years ago, we’d written a story with photos of hundreds, if not thousands, of grasshoppers in our yard. For videos and details, please click here.
Today, south of the equator, it’s the first day of fall. This morning, out on the veranda as always, we both noticed leaves falling from the trees and low-lying brush. 

Perhaps we noticed the leaves falling to the ground in the gentle warm breeze simply due to our awareness that fall has arrived. As we mentioned in earlier posts, fall and winter may not be good times for the wildlife in Marloth Park, most of whom are dependent upon the green vegetation on the trees, plants, and bushes.

It appeared they might have found something.

We’ve never been here in the fall. Four years ago, we left on February 28th while summer was in full bloom. February is comparable to August in those countries located north of the equator.

Of course, today is the much revered first day of spring when those living in cold climates jump for joy at the prospect of warmer weather for our family and friends in Minnesota.
More digging.

There’s no shortage of warm weather here. Today is expected to reach 95F (35C), dropping to a high of 79F (26C) tomorrow for a huge weather change. That’s South Africa for you. But, it’s these big weather variations that affect foliage.

In our old lives, we’d never stay all day and evening outdoors with temperatures in the 90’s. But, here it’s the course of life in the African bush. The locals have adapted, and we have as well. The only air con we use is in the car (a must) and while sleeping.
Francolins are commonly found in the bush.  They don’t fly much but are fast walkers and very noisy.
We’ll watch and see how winter in the bush will be for the wildlife, hoping only for the best for them while praying for rain. Winter is the dry season in this part of the world.
This week has been and will continue to be a busy social time for us. Sunday, we visited Gail and Mark (their story will be posted on Friday). Last night, Wednesday, new friends and neighbors Sandra and Paul (two doors down on the right) came for 5:00 pm happy hour and stayed until almost 10:00 pm…we had a blast!
Helmeted Guinea Fowl often hang around the yard.

Today, Wednesday, our dear friends  Louise, and Danie, who happen to be our property managers, come for dinner. On Saturday,  Janet and Steve (whose home we visited for dinner a few weeks ago) and Lynn and Mick are coming for dinner, with both couples leaving Marloth Park at the end of March, who’ll be gone for a few months, later in the year. We’ll see them all again since we’ll be here (in and out for visa purposes) until March 24, 2019.

On April 2nd, we’re attending an Easter party at Kathy and Don’s MP home on the Crocodile River, after they’ll have been staying at one of their other homes located in Pretoria, South Africa, returning to Marloth Park for a while. Surely, we’ll socialize regularly with that wonderful couple as well.
It appears there are more ostriches in Marloth Park than four years ago when we were here. We’re enjoying everyone we encounter.

Friendly, fun, and welcoming people have taken us into the fold of their social lives as many come and go between other homes in other locales, often other countries. We’re looking forward to Linda and Ken returning in a few months for plenty of good times with the two of them.

When we look back at all the countries, we visited where it wasn’t easy to make friends. We’re so grateful to be here among our human and animal friends. Last night, during our fun evening. Big Boy (warthog) stopped by to check out the pellet situation. 
 At “our house,” the pellet situation is good and will remain so regardless of our social activities, the time of the day, and of course, the season of the year.
We spotted these two zebras on the side of the road on our way to the market.

Today’s heading reminded me of Nat King Cole’s song, “The Autumn Leaves,” a favorite song of many of his fans.  Here’s the link to the song on YouTube with the beautiful lyrics below:

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”
May you have an exceptional season, whether today is the beginning of spring or fall for you.
Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2017:
The sun peeked out for a few hours while we were in Manly, Australia making our way to the ferry to head to the immigration office regarding our “illegal” status. For more details, please click here.

Change in plans…Social calendar filling up!…Power outage on 100F, 38C day!…Hot, hot, hot!

Vervet monkeys aren’t as destructive as baboons, which we’ll send on their way
while Tom stands tall while holding up a big stick. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This handsome male bushbuck rested in the yard for quite a while as the sun was setting.  He was still there after dark, as far as we could tell.

Last night, we changed our plans for our anniversary night.  We intended to go to Ngwenya overlooking the Crocodile River for Kruger Park and sunset views. 

As it turned out, a few times during the day, Danie stopped by, once bringing us a bottle of wine. I couldn’t wait to try last night and loved it, and another time, he suggested we go to Ngwenya tonight instead of last night. 

Thursdays at Ngwenya are weighed-by-the-plate buffet, which is a great deal and offers a wide variety of options suitable for my way of eating. Both Louise and Danie eat like we do and have done so for many years.

In the yard, there’s a fenced-in garden intended to protect the vegetation.  Ha!  the monkeys have no trouble crawling inside and making a mess. These vervet monkeys are fun to watch with their playful antics.

Since it was so hot at 100F (38C), it made sense not to have to put on nicer clothes than my braless tank top and baggy Capri jeans, so we decided to dine at “home” rather than head out on a sweltering evening.

Even the little rental car’s AC can’t keep up with its miniature engine and low AC output. Staying in, cooking on the grill, and eating outdoors made a lot of sense to us. Plus, I could sample that bottle of wine Tom chilled in the freezer long before “happy hour.” 

We cooked the two pork chops for Tom with a lamb chop for me, along with a side of mushroom casserole, fresh green beans, and a crispy chilled salad, perfect for the hot and humid evening.

Little did we expect the power would go out just before we sat down to eat at 6:30. Of course, it would. With power limitations in Marloth Park and with many tourists here for spring break (started in some parts of the world), everyone runs their AC on the ultra-hot day.

There was a troop of about 20 vervet monkeys in our yard.

We only use AC when we go to bed. With no screens on the windows, it gets scorching indoors. We don’t use the AC in the central part of the house when it can’t cool enough with the two-story-high ceilings. Plus, we’re in Africa. What did we expect? Cool comfort and ease of living?  Hardly.

After a rash of visitors early in the day, we were content to sit back and relax for dinner. I needed to get an early start on today’s post since we have company this morning, initiated by Danie, bringing us a heart-stopping story we can’t wait to share tomorrow.

Wow!  Will the action-packed adventures and stories ever settle down?  We don’t think so…not in Marloth Park. Our Cozi calendar is smoking with scary and exciting daytime plans on Saturday (you won’t believe what we’re doing!!!) and many upcoming social events.

They move so quickly, and it’s tricky getting good photos.

Also, we have fun social plans for Sunday night with lovely couple Janet and Steve, whom we met at Kathy and Don’s party a few weeks ago and enjoyed great conversation. It is thoughtful of them to invite us!

Also invited to dinner on Sunday are friends Lynne and Mick, who came for dinner last Saturday night at our “house.”  (Kathy and Don are at their other house near Pretoria right now, returning around April 1st with more social events on the horizon). 

This valuable time in Marloth Park is an easy reminder of why we longed to return to this magical place. Sure, it’s hot, sticky, and uncomfortable at times. The mozzies and insects can be downright annoying at times. 

Seldom do they stop playing long enough for a photo.

The dusty unpaved roads bring up allergy symptoms from watery eyes, itching, and runny noses. After all, this is Africa, not Scottsdale, Arizona, or Boca Raton, Florida. 

We can’t jump in the car and head to a modern mall to replace all the swimsuits we accidentally left on one of our last cruises. At the moment, I don’t own a single swimsuit. Tom has one.

There’s a plunge pool here, but we don’t use it. It’s too risky to go without with no swimsuit and too many support staff stopping by each day. After the magnificent pool in Atenas, Costa Rica, we’re kind of spoiled anyway. How could anything compare to that pool? 

These two vervet monkeys were playing in the sideyard.

Living in the dense bush doesn’t allow for most pools to be in the sunlight. Neither of us cares to swim or lounge in an undercover or indoor pool. So no swimming here, but swimming isn’t why we’re here. 

It’s the wildlife, the ambiance of this tucked-away place, and it’s the people who add so much to the charm and magic of this unusual wildlife-rich location.

We dined outdoors by candlelight during the power outage, and when the bugs got too pesky, we wandered into the bedroom with a candle and watched a few shows on my laptop to keep us entertained. By around 11:00 pm, the power came back on, and we were able to get a good night’s sleep. Today’s temps will be comparable to yesterday.

Please watch today’s video to see their playfulness and how easily they fly from tree to tree. 

What can I say? We couldn’t be happier and more fulfilled. Regardless of any minor inconveniences, we couldn’t be enjoying ourselves more. Our daily lives are rich, with each day manifesting into another special day, entrenched in beautiful memories we’ll carry with us forever.

Thank you, dear readers, for sharing it all with us.

Photo from one year ago today, March 8, 2017:

Each night on most cruises, my meals consist of salmon or chicken breast with prawns and a side of spinach and mashed cauliflower. For more cruise food photos, please click here.

Antarctica- Saturday, January 27, 2018…Tom’s photos…

Tom certainly got it right when he captured this Black Browed Albatross chick with what appears to be a smile. 

Today, we’re heading to South Georgia Island, a popular stopping point on the route toward the Antarctic Circle. We’ve yet to see snow-covered islands and glaciers. Soon enough, that will come. But, it’s a long way from Ushuaia, and today is the only day five of the 17-day cruise.

The beautiful scenery in the Falkland Islands.  Notice the birds flying above.

Many of our readers have written asking about the status of my injured knee. As it turned out, yesterday at 5:00 pm, I visited the ship’s doctor, fearful that the infection wasn’t improving after four full days of antibiotics. Thank you all for your thoughtful concern. 

Penguins fill the hills.

Bound and determined, I wasn’t about to be missing out on any of the many upcoming Zodiac boat excursions, and with another sea day to recoup, I felt I had no choice to see what was going on.

It’s fascinating to see how penguins love to stay close to their family members and friends.

My leg was turning red further up my thigh, several inches from the original site of the infection. It wasn’t in a specific line creeping up my leg, as one might expect from “blood poisoning.” Instead, it was in bright red blotches, each of which was tender to the touch. This was worrisome. I had no idea what was going on or how to treat it.

They’re never far from easy access to the sea.

This is cruise number 22 for us in the past over five years, during which neither of us had ever visited a ship doctor, not even when we contracted awful coughs, colds, and cases of flu. Fortunately, we’ve never had norovirus or seasickness requiring medication from the doctor.

A lone Caracara.

After a comprehensive exam of my knee, my leg, my groin, and mid-section, he determined I have the equivalent of phlebitis, inflammation in the vein in my leg, and lymphatic system, which, if left untreated, could be a disaster. He determined it hadn’t spread to any other parts of my body and was localized in my leg. 

Black Browed Albatross in a massive colony.

He prescribed a strong prescription anti-inflammatory drug that must be taken with food three times a day and continuing the antibiotic for at least four more days. Although concerned with the diagnosis, I was especially relieved when he said I could keep walking as long as I can tolerate it. 

A lone little bird.

Even with the pain these past many days, I’ve participated in the long walks on the excursions, although I continue to walk gingerly due to the pain. Tom has been patient and helpful as always, hanging on to me as we’ve navigated our way over the rough, rocky, and uneven terrain. 

Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop their elevated nest. That’s amazing! This is unreal…the Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a free-standing pod on which they can nest. 

I’m scheduled to return to the doctor tomorrow at 5:00 pm to decide the next course of treatment if there has been a sufficient improvement. We’re hopeful when this morning I noticed the redness and tenderness had improved about 20%, not a significant amount but enough to make us feel optimistic.

More chicks and parents sitting atop their raised pods.

During this last outing on Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands, he took all of the photos while I watched my footing using the walking sticks that the ship recommended we all bring with us. Tom, as sure-footed, as one can be, hasn’t needed to use them. Hence we only brought along one pair.

It was stunning to see all these Albatross atop these pods in their massive nesting grounds.

We failed to mention any information about the Falkland Islands in our enthusiasm to present our photos and with the sketchy Wi-Fi signal. Here’s a bit of data from the ship’s newsletter, to fill in the blanks:

The varying species can easily hang out together, as shown in these photos of Penguins and Albatross.

“The Falkland Islands have a rich history embracing maritime trade, sealing, whaling, as well as cattle and sheep farming. The English navigator, John Davis, aboard the “Desire,” made the first confirmed sighting of the islands in 1592. 

The first landing is attributed to the British Captain, John Strong, in 1690 at Bold Cove, Port Howard on West Falkland. Early visitors were sealers, whalers, and penguin hunters from different corners of the world. Many imported, domestic animals were left at various locations as a food source for future voyages.

A preening chick on the nest.

Cattle spread rapidly throughout the islands. Travel was on horseback and South American gauchos made their mark. Stone and turf corrals were constructed, and remains of these can be seen scattered across the islands. particularly on East Falkland.

It is “wildly” congested in spots!

The year 1833 saw the re-assertion by British for its sovereignty. By 1845 the capital had been moved to its present site and was named Stanley, after the Colonel Secretary, Geoffrey Smith Stanley. 

A bird of prey, the Caracara awaits the next opportunity for a meal.

Stanley became an important port for vessels involved in whaling and rounding Cape Horn.  Settlements and farms were built across the islands, and sheep farming took over from cattle ranching as a mainstay.

The ship’s naturalists set up a perimeter of flags for us to walk. This curious Caracara had to investigte the flagpole.

Falkland Islanders participated in both World Wars. The World War I Battle of the Falklands has commemorated the monument on Ross Road, while the Cross of Sacrifice commemorates World War II.  For 74 days in 1982, Argentine troops occupied the Falkland Islands. 

There are over one half million Albatrosses on this island.

A British Task Force was sent to recover the islands. Fierce fighting took place on land, at sea, and in the air, with several Islanders aiding the British military. Ultimately, Argentine Forces surrendered to the British Forces.”

As mentioned above, today’s photos were taken by Tom while we were at Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands. He’s becoming quite the photographer!  For more information on this island, please click here.

They seem to go on forever.  What a sight!

Tomorrow’s post will be arriving later in the day since we’re heading out again, in the early morning, on the Zodiac boats to South Georgia, where we’ll certainly be in for quite a surprise which we can’t wait to share with all of you.

Have a fabulous day filled with many wonders!
Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2017:
This fish mascot wandered about the Australia Day celebration for photo ops. For more photos, please click here.

Today’s our 5 year anniversary of traveling the world…Anniversary photos and memories….

 
Today, October 31, 2017, on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica.

It felt great to be back in Atenas to the lovely villa, especially today as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of traveling the world. With a blissfully sunny day upon us and most assuredly pool time after we’re done posting, it will be yet another day to celebrate life.

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort in October 2013 to celebrate our first anniversary of traveling the world, here’s the link. We didn’t take a photo of ourselves on our second anniversary. We’ll do better going forward. But here’s the link for the day of our second anniversary.
A special homemade dinner is planned for this evening with plenty of chatter over memories we’ve made during these past five years. Since we weren’t planning on going out today, we’ve added the above photo taken this morning from the veranda overlooking the Alajuela Valley. It took a few tries using the tripod and timer to get the photo right, but we finally got it done.
As for our weekend to Managua, Nicaragua, we were reminded that there’s so much commotion associated with short trips. Whether it’s taxi rides to and from airports,  waiting in long lines to check-in (no curbside in most countries), waiting to check in with immigration, filling out entry and exit forms, or standing in the slow queue on the plane to get to our seats to store our carry on,  it all is time-consuming.
We celebrated our third anniversary in Fiji at Namale Resort & Spa with a tour and lunch at the world-renowned resort. See this link for details.

For these reasons and more, long ago, we decided to enhance our experiences by staying for more extended periods in most countries when our schedule allows it.  Had we been the types of travelers to be on the move constantly, we’d never have lasted five years.

So,  today on our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, we celebrate our early decisions along with the criteria we established (Please click here for our criteria, Part 1 and Part 2 here) well before we had the experience to know what we were doing.
This photo was taken on October 31, 2016, when it was October 30th in the US when we were about to board Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Sea for the back-to-back 33-night cruise. See this link for details.
We celebrate the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the commitment and passion we’ve easily maintained for wildlife and nature.  We’ve appreciated the sights and sounds of the big cities we’ve visited along the way.  But, our hearts remain entrenched in the country, in the valley, in the mountains, on the rugged savannahs, and of course, by the sea.

These choices have kept us closer to that which we love…the gifts bestowed upon us humans by our creator, not as much as those created by humans. No doubt, we applaud the skill and expertise of our forebearers in creating magnificent structures, art, and historical treasures.

In 28 days, we’ll do a full transit of the Panama Canal, an impressive feat of human labor and ingenuity. How can we not appreciate this, even though it was our second transit in these past five years on our first cruise in January 2013?  We’re sure we’ll be as in awe this second time as we were the first, now that the new larger canal has been completed.
We made our way through the long walk to Petra to finally see the Treasury, which was a life-changing experience.

Throughout the world, we’ve reveled in historic buildings, churches, and museums.  But, for those of you who have followed along with us all these years, nothing in our hearts and minds can compare to nature and wildlife.

The heart-pounding thrill of witnessing a rhino in the wild with oxpeckers on his head pecking at insects or, as of late, a single bird in flight alighting in a nearby tree to sing a song like none other we’ve heard in the past is magical to us.

Oxpeckers on the head of a rhino in the Masai Mara Kenya.  This shot made us squeal with delight.
And yes, I cried big tears of pure joy when we arrived at the Treasury in Petra Jordan but even bigger tears when we spotted our first lion drinking water in the Masai Mara (as shown in the photo below) or our first visit when we arrived in Marloth Park.

We’ve had our ups and downs; illness, injury, visa issues, booking errors, power outages, and dangerous drives on scary roads. We’ve lived close to terroristic attacks, experienced earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms like none other in our past lives.Through it all, we continued to strive to maintain an upbeat attitude while growing our abilities to adapt and conform to life on the move, living in countries with beliefs and morays so different from our own, making every effort to blend in and never appear to be the “ugly American.”
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot? We both felt as if we were dreaming! We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari.
It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always been exciting and adventuresome. But, each day in its way has been special when we stopped what we’re doing at the moment, look into each other’s eyes and say, “Is this really our lives?  How did we get so lucky?

We continue to be grateful and humbled by the world around us, by the opportunity presented to us due to years of hard work to make this possible, for experiencing this adventure together, and ultimately, sharing it with all of YOU.
Happy day to all!
Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2016:
View of the Sydney Opera House as the ship sailed away. For more details, please click here.

Forgetfulness and aging…A story from long ago changing our lives…

Photo of the railroad guys at the train station.  Year unknown.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a Clay Colored Robin, the national bird of Costa Rica.

Two weeks from today, we leave for Nicaragua for two nights, returning to the villa on the 30th.  The next day, October 31st is our five-year anniversary of traveling the world.

When we first began traveling in 2012, we hadn’t imagined we’d last five years.  At that time, we “qualified” our long-term plans by saying we’d find somewhere along the way where we’d eventually settle down or we’d return to live in the US, location to be determined.

Settling down at some point is no longer a topic of interest or discussion.  We’ve accepted the reality when health fails for either of us (which eventually will), we’ll have to make a decision.  Do we worry that such a sudden decision will overwhelm us especially under the duress of a medical problem? 

Locomotives, back in the day in Atenas.

Not really.  Why worry about a situation over which we have little control other than to take good care of our health and well-being each and every day?  When it happens, it happens.  We’ll figure it out from there.

An important aspect of managing such a situation is predicated on the ability of one of us to be able to make decisions in the event of a medical issue for the other.

In our old lives, at one point, I was concerned about developing memory loss issues as I’ve aged.  Dementia was a common condition on my mother’s side of the family. 

Horn off a locomotive.

Once I hit the age of 50, I found myself becoming forgetful…walking into a room and not remembering why, starting a project and getting sidetracked on another project, forgetting where I’d left off.  These were subtle changes I was embarrassed to mention,  not even to Tom.

In 2011, when I dramatically changed my way of eating from a ‘low fat, low protein, high carb, healthy whole grains” diet to a “high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet,” not only was I pain-free three months later but over the next several years, my memory improved to an astounding rate, comparable to when I was in my early 20’s.

No longer did I find myself losing things, wondering where I’d left something, or forgetting what I’d done the prior evening.  Was it due to the diet as explained in Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain” or was it due to the fact that in early 2012 I began the 12-hour-a-day process of planning our world travels keeping my brain whirring in a plethora of new knowledge?

Model trains on a shelf.

Dr. Perlmutter included the story of my success with this way of eating on his website as shown in this link here.  We also shared the story in one of our previous posts as indicated here in this link

The smidgeon of notoriety I gleaned from this article only mattered to me in that it might inspire one more individual to embark on this way of eating to improve their health as well.  When readers wrote asking questions, it was so rewarding.

No, this way of eating doesn’t make me exempt from injuries (obviously) such as in Bali when I hurt my spine (fully recovered now) or in developing Helicobacter Pylori from tainted food in Fiji from which I’m still recovering. (It may take a few more months).

Toy truck and more trains on a shelf.

However, being pain-free and regaining my memory has truly been an awe-inspiring result which ultimately allowed us to travel the world and recall the most finite details of our lives of travel.

Plus, it’s allowed me to post our daily stories which require a tremendous amount of recall.  Tom, on the other hand, inherited great “memory genes” and does equally well.  Tom’s mother, at 98 years old could recall names, birthdates, and events of her huge family and her life over the prior 11 decades.  Tom’s eldest brother Jerome, at almost 89, has an equally finely tuned memory. 

Ironically, Tom with the greatest of ease, remembers dates of past and upcoming events, places we’ve visited and our numerous cruises while I recall names of places, people, expenses, and miscellaneous oddball items. 

Coin collection at the museum.

Long ago, when we began our travels, we each gravitated toward that which we’d prefer to recall most readily.  Thus, we can always depend on one another to fill in the blanks.  As we all can recall from our schooldays, we tend to recall topics of the most interest to us.

Each day as it comes and goes, with a bit of serendipity thrown in, we’re left with memories we’ll always cherish as part of this wondrous life we’re blessed to live.

May your day be filled with wondrous memories.

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2016:

Workers in the rice fields in Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

A magical cloud experience in the mountains of Atenas Costa Rica…

Moment by moment, the clouds grew thicker and thicker.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom was standing on the veranda as the clouds began to roll in.

Last evening around 5:30 pm, just about the time we were thinking about having dinner, we looked outside (unavoidable with all the glass walls in this fine villa), and we thrilled to see fast-moving clouds that we could almost touch from the veranda.

We’d experienced a similar phenomenon when were lived in Madeira, Portugal, in the spring of 2014, for which we’ve included the photo of Tom on the veranda with the link to that post and video. Yesterday, we were as excited to see this event as we were over three years ago….our heads in the clouds!

Tom on the veranda in Madeira Portugal during a similar cloud “white-out.”  For more photos and a video, please click here.

Since we’re partway up the mountains here in Costa Rica (698 meters, 2261 feet, above sea level) in much cooler weather than by the sea (an hour and a half drive), such attractive weather conditions seem to be more prevalent.

Standing on the veranda as the clouds quickly moved across our view, we felt as if we could reach out and touch them. They rolled across the veranda at one point, and we were able to walk through them.

We gasped when we felt the cool, moist air, unlike anything we’ve ever felt before. It was breathtaking. Oh, some might say, “No big deal.  It’s just a bunch of clouds.”

For us, it’s these same experiences that make our travels rich and filled with wonder, so much so that we quickly and easily found our link from our similar experiences over three years ago.

It was stunning to watch the views dissipate and the clouds thickened.

It’s not easy taking photos of clouds right in one’s face, but we did our best.  Had there been more warning, I’d have taken a video, but it came up and dissipated so quickly, I barely had time to load the camera to take these few shots.

Within 15 minutes, the views across the valley cleared, and once again, we could see our surroundings. As a result, today’s “Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica” and other photos result from this event.

When it cleared, we moseyed off to the kitchen to reheat our leftover pizza, cook the green beans and toss the salad. Unfortunately, the pizza wasn’t quite as good as it was in Nevada weeks ago since we couldn’t find the right type of Italian sausage here in Atenas.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes to cover the entire Alajuela Valley.

The only Italian-seasoned sausage we found here had no casing. That was weird. Since it required cooking before placing it on the pizza, it ended up tasting somewhat like hot dogs, which we don’t usually eat. Maybe next time, we’ll try it using the local Spanish-type sausages with casings.

Also, we couldn’t find parchment paper at either of the two markets and had no choice but to use tinfoil (they don’t have non-stick foil here) which we coated with olive oil to no avail. It still stuck to the tinfoil.

Once the pizza was done, we had to peel the foil off the bottom crust, often in tiny pieces. Maybe we shouldn’t have pizza again while we’re here. Or, perhaps we should start packing parchment paper, an item we often use in cooking low-carb items but have difficulty finding in many countries.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our dinner and a quiet evening watching a few favorite shows on the big screen TV in the comfy screening room. We’d signed up for Netflix last week and had been watching a few choice shows.

It wasn’t quite as thick as it had been in Madeira Portugal, but it was similar. We could still see the light at a distance on the far right.

Whenever we sign up for Netflix, we do so for short periods, watching everything that appeals to us over one or two months, after which we cancel it and sign for HBO or Showtime while we binge watch other favorites.

Right now, we’re waiting for season 7 of Game of Thrones to complete its season, at which point we’ll sign up for HBO and be able to binge-watch the entire final season of this fantastic series. We rarely watch any shows during the day to avoid starting a bad habit that could prevent us from paying attention to our surroundings. Once it’s dark, we’re content to “settle in” for the evening.

Today is another quiet day. Isabel, one of the sweetest and most competent cleaners on the planet, is here today, recovered from her case of “gripa,” a bad cold she had last week when she was only able to work for part of the day. Thank goodness neither of us caught it from her.  She’s busy cleaning now in her cheerful good-natured manner. What a treasure she is!

We’ll have the first of the two rental cars in only four days, one for five days and the second for the remainder of our stay. So we’re looking forward to being mobile again but not so much for the dentist appointment scheduled for Monday.

May your day be filled with natural wonders, whether it’s a bird alighting on your window sill, big droplets of rain on a cloudy day, or a pretty cloud formation wafting through the skies. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2016:

One year ago, while we were in Phuket, Thailand, it was only six weeks after I’d seriously injured my spine, which took five months to heal. We didn’t do much while there, so I continued to post photos from the Phuket Seashell Museum. I’m sure all of our readers have seen enough seashells, then and now, with only one more day of these appearing tomorrow. But, if you’d like to see more, click here.