Trying to settle in and adapt…

Look carefully at this photo of the gizzards and livers inside the two chickens. Notice the two chicken heads, one with eyes open. Oh, dear. We’d never made a chicken with heads and feet included, but I guess the Ecuadorian people use everything.

Note: Right now, with things getting done around the house and us getting organized, I haven’t taken any photos yet but will do so soon. Thanks for your patience.

As each day passes, we get a little more settled in. I’ve unpacked everything I need to use while here and left the remainder in the bags sitting open on the beds in both guest rooms. When it’s time to go, it will be easy to pack. Tom has done the same, only wearing a few different shirts and pants.

We haven’t been able to use the pool yet since it’s been cloudy and rainy. But once the sun appears, we certainly will. Start using it. The pool guy has been here twice since we arrived, and it looks cool and refreshing. It’s been warm and humid most days, and we’ve certainly used the aircon in the bedroom at night and the living room. We are conscientious about turning it off when we leave the room or go out and about.

Yesterday, the little store here in the gated community was open. It’s only open Monday, Thursday, and Friday, so we jumped in the car and stopped there to see about buying jugs of bottled water and to check out their inventory. We purchased a one-pound filet mignon that would be enough for one meal, a giant jug of water, and a few odds and ends. A small box of Kleenex was $4.50. The filet was $10, and the big 19-liter water jug was $1.40.

The owner of the store, Gilles, from Ontario, Canada now, after eight years living here, has a strong Spanish accent but speaks English, and we were able to ask him many questions about the area. He was very kind, and indeed, we’ll continue to stop there for eggs, water, and possibly meat since he has a small inventory.

Anything to avoid making that long drive to Manta for groceries, including the difficulty finding a parking spot and the commotion in the market. We were able to purchase most of the items we needed and may never be able to find them here. We’ll continue to stop at the little markets we encounter.

It was wonderful having a nice dinner last night. Without vegetables, I ate just the chicken. Tom had chicken and rice. When we head to Puerto Cayo in the next few days, we’ll look for the farm stand I read about online in the famous expat town. There’s no significant market there, but perhaps we can find a few things we’d like, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.

I have four avocadoes sitting on the kitchen window sill to ripen, but it could be a week before they are ready to eat. A half of a sliced avo is an excellent addition to any meal for me. Tom, not so much. I don’t enjoy just eating meat and no sides, and Tom always enjoys rice on the side.

Last night, we enjoyed speaking to our friends, Kathy and Don, in Hawaii. We are planning to meet up in Marloth Park next year. They have been such wonderful friends, as have many others, and we always feel blessed for our friends and family members. It was great spending so much time with everyone in Nevada and Minnesota.

Now that we’re in the same time zone as Minnesota, we’ll easily be able to talk to family members anytime. What a treat that is!

As for the house, we don’t have any hot water. I reported this to Igor, the property owner, and hope to hear back soon. It’s been challenging taking showers and doing dishes in cold water. We are still waiting for the WiFi solution for the upper level. We gave up trying to get the electric kettle to work, and I am using a small pot to boil water for my decaf coffee and tea. Adaptation always prevails. But, the cold showers and dishwater aren’t something we feel we can adapt to.

I still have Afib. Even taking the potent drug. In the next few days, we’ll head to a pharmacy to buy more of the drug in case I need to up the dose. At this point, I am at a moderate dose with an option to increase the dose if necessary. It makes me feel shaky and out of sorts, but it’s what I have to do now during this period. It was prescribed for me last April when I was in hospital for Afib, but I’d never taken it until now when I had fewer symptoms.

It is estimated that the prevalence of Afib in the US ranges from 2.7 million to 6.1 million. This number is expected to rise to 12.1 million by 2030. It’s become more prevalent since people have discovered it using their fitness watches when they get an alert on their device that it detects Afib. My Fitbit does this, but I can feel it when my sinus rhythm is abnormal. Some people don’t feel any symptoms at all. I am not unique with these symptoms, but I’d like to learn how to manage it better.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic Friday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today. October 27, 2013:

This photo was taken at Tom’s retirement party on October 27, 2012. At this point, we only used our smartphones to take photos. Little did we know then how much would change, how much we would change, how important clear photos would mean, and how much we had ahead of us. How does one unload their entire lives and travel the world for years to come? Now we know. For more photos, please click here.

I don’t know where to begin…It wasn’t an easy transition….

Boats tied up on the shoreline.

Sorry, there was no post yesterday. I had run out of steam and simply couldn’t muster the energy to get it done by the time we returned from Manta. We had no groceries when we arrived on Tuesday, and for the second night in a row, we didn’t have anything for dinner.

There was no supermarket, open shop, or restaurant nearby, but we made it through the night without a bite to eat since breakfast. The prior night we arrived in Manta too late to eat, and that’s when the lovely young daughter of the hotel owners went to a little local market to get me some cheese.

I don’t know how to start this post. Shall I minimize the ordeal of the past 48 hours to indicate we are less adaptable than usual? Or shall I, in our usual way, tell it like it is, causing our readers to perceive we aren’t as tough as we used to be? I’ll opt for the latter and tell you exactly what happened.

Sure, we may not be as tough as we were years ago. We’re getting older and have various medical issues, typical for our ages, that impact how well we tolerate certain situations. But the fact remains, regardless of our ages, we still don’t whine and complain during difficult times and forge ahead, doing the very best we can with a good attitude, however difficult it may be at any given time.

Boats along the highway from Manta to San Jose.

Yesterday was one of those times. I don’t know how we got through it, but we did. And now, here we are in our oceanfront holiday home, not quite unpacked but with laundry done, groceries purchased, and a roasted chicken dinner on the menu for tonight.

First, before I go on, I want to preface that the property owner, Igor, who lives in Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), is a fantastic guy. Had he known what would transpire on Tuesday, he would have gone to any lengths to avoid the frustration we experienced. He’s making everything right over the next few days.

Properties on the ocean road.

So here’s how it rolled out. As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, we had a long wait at the gate to Mirador San Jose for Igor’s house manager to arrive. We arrived at 10:45 and ended up sitting in the car with nothing to drink, no bathroom, and turning the car off and on to cool us down in the warm, humid weather on a cloudy day.

At 1:10 pm, I walked up to the guard gate building and explained our plight to the guard. He raised a piece of paper showing our names, that we were expected to arrive, and that Sylvie, Igor’s property manager, was supposed to come at 11:00 am to let us into the property.

Although the guard and I somehow managed to communicate, he even had Sylvie’s phone number programmed into his phone. Immediately, he called her, and she acted as if she didn’t know we’d been waiting there for 2½ hours. Igor had told her we’d be arriving at 11:00, but she didn’t bother to show up.

Flowers at the entrance gate at Mirador San Jose, where we waited for over two hours on Tuesday.

After the guard called her, apparently she lives nearby, she didn’t arrive until 15 minutes later, acting as if nothing was wrong. We both surmised she had forgotten we would be at the gate at 11:00. She spoke no English other than a few words. But we don’t expect people to speak English in other countries. It’s us who has to figure it out.

When we finally got to the property, she handed us a pass to enter and exit through the gate. I asked her many using my choppy Spanish language skills, but she didn’t seem to know the answers to many of the questions, even when I used the translator on my phone.

The entrance gate to Mirador San Jose, where our holiday home is located.

After she left, we were at a loss  as to how to handle the following comments and questions, which I later posed to Igor on a WhatsApp call:

Sylvie didn’t know anything…if we hadn’t had the gate people call her, she wouldn’t have shown up. Please see the bold print after each issue to see what has been done

  1. Where does the trash go? There’s a bin down the road, and we can dump our bagged trash in the bin any day of the week.
  2. We couldn’t find any of the restaurants or grocery stores Sylvie mentioned. None of the restaurants she mentioned were open, or after reading the menus for the few that were open, we realized most likely we wouldn’t be able to dine out here. All of the food is deep-fried.
  3. The pass to the guard gate wasn’t working. Igor contacted the gate people and got our gate pass activated. It’s working now.
  4. Who will provide more gas tanks when the stove runs out? Igor contacted a guy who will deliver extra gas tanks, and when we run out, he will get him to install the new tank.
  5. The towels in the bathrooms are threadbare. Igor instructed Sylvie to purchase quality towels, which she delivered yesterday.
  6. There were minimal supplies at the house when we arrived…toilet paper…soap….trash bags. Without cash to shop at the area’s tiny shops, we had to drive back to Manta (one hour each way) to find an ATM for cash (they use American dollars here). Then, we found a grocery store and purchased about 80% of the items on our list. The larger grocery store in Manta accepted credit cards.
  7. The water machine wasn’t working. What do we do about bottled water? Igor said we have to leave the big bottle on the sidewalk with $1.25 underneath the bottle, and once a week, the water guy will come by and refill the bottle. What day? No one knows.
  8. Who do we contact for maintenance? We will contact Igor.
  9. There were several bulbs burnt out. Today, a guy came and replaced all the bulbs except one he needed to purchase and then returned in the next few days to install it. 
  10. WiFi doesn’t work upstairs. We need WiFi on both levels. Igor is working with the WiFi service providers to install an additional router upstairs.
  11. I would like to have known we needed to bring a lot of cash when most small-town shops and restaurants don’t take credit cards. Most guests stay a few days. We are staying 79 days, and our need for cash is much greater.
  12. There is no book in the house on handling any of these issues. With these questions answered and mostly resolved, we won’t need a book of instructions. But we always appreciate these books.

    The beach along the road to Manta, taken on our second trip in two days.

Of course, after all these issues arose, I contacted Igor, asking him to call me on WhatsApp, and he quickly responded as usual. He’d since addressed each of the above issues, and they are getting accomplished one by one. Igor has been responsive and supportive and shocked we had to deal with many of these issues. Igor informed us that good help is hard to find in Ecuador.

Once in the house, after doing considerable research, we concluded we had no choice but to drive back to Manta for the cash and to the supermarket. All the local markets are like “Quick and Easy” type stores, carrying soda, snacks, rice, and beans. There’s such a little shop here in the gated community, which we’ll check out today, but I doubt it will carry anything we use.

Large black bird at the edge of the pool at our holiday rental.I will continue researching to find what type of birds these are.

We’ll have to drive back to Manta every few weeks to buy groceries. We purchased as much as would fit in the freezer and only a little bit of fresh produce when they don’t carry what we typically use. Most vegetables were starchy, like peas, squash, and corn. There were no frozen vegetables we would use.

Before dinner last night, we had no water. We contacted Igor, and he said to leave the faucets open to clear the lines of air. We did this, and it worked.

An iguana we spotted at the airport in Quito.

I think we’ll be OK from here. We don’t like the prospect of driving to Manta every few weeks, but we will go check out a meat market in Puerto Cayo, about 30 minutes down the highway. If we can purchase meat, we can go to the supermarket once a month for staples at the same time as returning the rental car once a month. They wouldn’t allow us to keep the car for more than 30 days and put a hold on a credit card for $5,000, the most we’ve ever seen. It’s Avis, so we felt it would be OK, and most likely, they’ll release the hold in a timely manner.

We’re feeling better now that most of these issues are being resolved. Right now, I am having lots of Afib bouts and, fortunately, have medication with me for such an occasion. The side effects make me feel awful, but it’s what I have to do right now.

Last night, we were so exhausted that we made scrambled eggs for dinner. Bacon is basically unheard of in Ecuador. Tonight, we’re roasting two chickens for dinner with rice for Tom. We won’t be eating salads while here or any raw vegetables due to a high risk of illness from the impure tap water. I didn’t even buy celery, one of my favorite additions to various dishes.

I will try taking photos, but it’s been raining since we arrived. Once we have a sunny day and I feel better, I will be motivated to take photos. More on this story in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 25, 2013:

Who can be bored in Kenya when the playful antics of our temporary dogs, Jessie and Gucci, never fail to entertain us? For more photos, please click here.

Day #258 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Yikes!…Snakes, scary insects, heat, power outages and thefts…!…

Twig snake, also known as a vine snake, was on the railing at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant as we walked up the steps to the restaurant. “Twig snakes are among the few rear-fanged colubrids whose bite is highly venomous and potentially fatal. The venom is hemotoxic, and although its effects are prolonged, and bites are rare, no antivenom has been developed, and several fatalities have occurred.”

Today’s photos were from the post on this date in 2018 when we were walking up the steps to dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant in Marloth Park when a guest yelled out, “Look out! There’s a snake on the railing!” For that post, please click here.

Hopefully, by the time we arrive (hopefully) in Marloth Park, it will have been 20 months since we departed South Africa in May 2019, when I was finally able to fly after heart surgery. It will have been long enough for us to put aside thoughts of encountering venomous snakes, insects, and the high temperatures in January, which is summer in Africa. It can be as hot as 104F/40C or considerably higher from time to time.

Juan, a young yet highly accomplished snake handler, captured the snake, placing it in this container and releasing it in Lionspruit, where other venomous snakes are sent to live out their lives.

With air-con generally only available in the bedrooms in most bush houses and with our desire to be outdoors on the veranda all day long, waiting for wildlife to visit, it will be quite an adjustment from sitting in this cool, dark, temperature-controlled room for the prior ten months (by the time we depart). I’m not complaining, just observing.

As mentioned in prior posts, we keep the darkening drapes in this hotel room closed all day with the lamps on to keep the room cool throughout the day and night. Even the bright sunlight will require an adjustment after all this time, one we look forward to. In our prior two lengthy stays in Marloth Park, in 2013/2014 and 2018/2019, on each occasion, we were there over the summer months, and we fared well in the heat.

Young zebra in the garden.

I imagine we’ll do equally well once again. When we lived in the “Orange” house, I did ok after returning from the hospital after open-heart surgery at the tail end of February, lying on the sofa in the lounge room without any air-con. If it became unbearable for a short period, Tom helped me maneuver to the bedroom for a break with the air-con on.

A day after I returned from the hospital, the power was out for a day. Danie brought over a generator for us to use. Bless their hearts, he and Louise were always thinking of us.

The frequent power outages were challenging at times. Eskom’s “load shedding,” when the power was turned off to reduce the grid load, was incredibly annoying. That’s another story I won’t get into today, but it is a fact we must accept in returning to our otherwise favorite place in the world.

We wrote in 2018: “We’re treasuring every moment with the wildlife, knowing once the holiday-makers arrive, we’d have considerably fewer visitors until well into January.”

Also, at times, there’s no water. And, of course, when the power is out, there is no WiFi. Now that we have our Google phones with built-in data hotspots, if necessary, we can use them during those periods. We won’t know if it will work in our location until we arrive.

Another precaution we must consider is the number of burglaries in the bush houses. Although the two entrance gates to Marloth Park are guarded 24-hours a day, many burglaries transpire with losses of computers, phones, digital equipment, TVs, and other items. At no point can we leave our laptops on the outdoor table if we run indoors to do something if one of us isn’t around to keep out a watchful eye.

When Little didn’t get my attention when he walked up the steps to the veranda, he knocked over this chair—determined Little, trying to get my attention. It worked!

Last night, 12 hours ago, I saw this post on Facebook, “A lion has recently been seen on Butterfly Street towards Olifant.” From time to time, lions crawl under the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park to enter Marloth and may be heard and seen for days, if not weeks.

There’s plenty of food for lions in the park. When such a sighting is observed, everyone is notified through the various Facebook groups or emails. During these times, warnings are issued to prevent locals and guests from freely walking in the streets. Night-time curfews are instituted. Lions tend to hunt at night but are often observed during daylight hours.

Of course, I made his antics worthwhile. I gave him pellets and ice-cold carrots on a scorching day.  He was so exhausted in the heat that he lay down to dine.

In those cases, I will have to consider where I’ll continue my regular walking routine each day. If necessary, I’ll walk indoors on the days when lions are spotted and outdoors for the remainder. The house we’ve booked appears to have a long driveway which I can walk many times each day to achieve my goal. Somehow, it will all work out.

With all these potential issues, you may ask why in the world would we want to return? As our long-time readers know, the answer is easy, “Amid all of that, we love it there…the wildlife, the people, the access to Kruger National Park, the scenery and the simple pleasures of life in the bush,”

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit that morning. After he walked on the veranda table, he landed on Tom and then landed on me. Friendly little fellow.

Now, we wait, albeit as patiently as possible, for the days to pass so we can once again return in 38 days. Fingers crossed.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2019:

In 2015, we were at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu, Fiji. For the year-ago story, please click here.

It takes a few days to adapt…What are the adaptations?…

John, the fish guy with Tom.  John will stop by once a week. Last night I had the haddock, which was fabulous without a single bone and the fresh crabmeat.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle. This is because of its lush greenery and rolling hills. The country receives a lot of rain each year, which keeps the grass green and the plants blooming.”

Regardless of how well equipped a holiday home may be, there are specific nuances to which we must adjust each time we move to a different country and subsequently begin living in an unfamiliar holiday home.

No holiday home is perfect. For us, the primary factors when we book a house is its location, price, views, WiFi, and other amenities. A good kitchen is a must, along with laundry facilities, at the least a washer. (We gave up interest in clothes dryers shortly after we began traveling).

Neither of us cares to live in an apartment unless it’s necessary, such as in big cities where private homes are either too costly or too far from the hubbub of the town, which we may explore on foot.

Hotels are another matter. Location is critical for access to sightseeing, along with price, breakfast, and free WiFi, if possible. We do not book hotels where we must pay for WiFi.

Freshly caught fish in John’s truck.  He may have different options each week. The crab meat was delicious when I sauteed it in a bit of Kerry Gold butter.

This morning Tom booked a hotel for August 9 to August 11, 2019, when we’ll have two nights to spend in Amsterdam before the upcoming Baltic Cruise.  Location was significant mainly for walking and accessibility to the port.

Amsterdam is very expensive. Using our accumulated credits for past bookings on here on our site, the cost was still Euro 364, US $408 for the two nights at a conveniently located and highly rated hotel. We selected a canal view when the scenery in Amsterdam is important to us.

However, holiday homes and hotels always seem to have some type of issues that impact our stay and require us to adapt to the nuances. This home in Connemara, Ireland, is no exception.

The most substantial issue is that the three bedrooms, including the master, are located upstairs, requiring climbing an open wooden spiral staircase.  Not only are the steps a bit slippery with the finely finished wood, but they are steep.

As mentioned earlier, Tom and I agreed I wouldn’t go up and down the spiral staircase other than once per day. He placed a plastic bin at the top and bottom of the steps to allow me to add items to go up or down, which he’ll handle.

Fishing boats in the bay.

This wasn’t an issue for me when we booked this house, but since the surgery on my legs, I’m unstable until I build up my strength and balance. I’m working on both of these each day, by walking no less than 6000 steps per day or more some days. After all, I was only starting walking about 10 days ago, after lying down with my legs up for months. Slowly my strength is building.

Another issue with this house is the double bed in the master bedroom, with no larger bed in the other two bedrooms. Typically, this would work for us, but with the necessity of finding a comfortable position for my leg, I’ve slept in the twin bed and the bedroom the first few nights. This is unusual for us. 

Tonight, we’ll try to sleep together again, and if a problem, we’ll have no choice but to sleep separately during the balance of our 90-day stay in Ireland. If the bed were a queen, such as we had in Marloth Park, there would be no issue.

Another concern is the tiny below-counter refrigerator in the kitchen without a freezer. Another fridge is located in the laundry room with a very small freezer, enough for our ice cube trays, a bag of ice, and a few packages of meat or chicken.

When the fish guy comes weekly, I’ll eat fish for two days due to lack of freezer space, as I did last night making a fantastic salad with haddock, crabmeat, and tons of vegetables. Tom had a taco salad. Running back and forth to the two refrigerators is good exercise for me but annoying. 

Shopping for groceries is challenging when we can only purchase enough to fit into the tiny freezer. Nor can we make larger quantities of our favorite dishes to freeze and have for dinner on the days we’ve been out sightseeing. The refrigerator space between the two is sufficient to handle our cold products.

Closer view of boat hauling fishing equipment.

Otherwise, the kitchen has every conceivable pot, pan, gadget, small appliance, dinnerware and flatware, and spices that we can use. The knives are wonderfully sharp. There are plenty of dish towels and a newer dishwasher. There’s even food in the cupboard (very few items we’ll use) and condiments in the little fridge.

As for the pluses, the views from almost every window are stunning, overlooking a bay surrounded by mountains. The WiFi signal is superb, the flat-screen TV set up with satellite and many channels (we only watch the news) and there’s an upright piano.

No longer will we need to watch our favorite shows on my laptop. We hooked up our HDMI cord and can watch our shows from the living room. We could have done this in Marloth Park, but it was always too hot to do so comfortably.

The furniture in the living areas is in excellent condition and exceedingly comfortable. We have two areas when we can lounge and work on our laptops. It would be nice if there were an ottoman on which I could put my feet in the evenings, but the big comfy chairs do not have this, nor have we been able to find a comfortable alternative.

The TV is located at the end of the living room, preventing us from seeing it sitting on the sofa. We may ask the owner if we can move the furniture around to put my feet up at night.

There are few annoying insects other than midges (tiny biting insects) at sunrise and sunset. Of course, as we often experience throughout the world, there are no screens on the windows. If we want fresh air, we must risk flies and midges entering the house.

Although full of vegetation, the lot on which the house is located is impossible to use with uneven land, bushes, and wild plants. There is a picnic table on the side of the house which we’ll seldom use when it is fairly cool outdoors. 

Down the road, if I start drinking a little red wine, as recommended by the doctors, we may sit at that table at happy hour. For now, neither of us is drinking any alcohol since Tom never drinks alone, nor does he miss it.

Once we get a little more settled, we begin the process. We’re quite a distance from some of the areas we’ll research, but others are within an hour’s drive. Overall, we are content and look forward to researching Tom’s ancestry, which motivated our coming to Ireland.

Tomorrow, I’ll work on the documents to apply for the waiver from our status as “undesirables” in South Africa, hopefully enabling us to return in 2021 instead of the five-year ban we received from immigration at the Johannesburg airport last Saturday.

This morning a cleaner will come to clean the house. We were surprised at the high rates charged by cleaners at Euro 20, US $22.41 per hour. That is more than we’ve ever paid for a house cleaner, although these may be the current rates in the US and other world areas. We’d considered having her clean the house twice a week, but instead, we decided on three hours once a week.

After she’s done cleaning, we’re taking off to check out Carna, another quaint town with a few shops. It’s only five kilometers from here and may prove to be handy for odds and ends we may need between shopping trips to the distant Clifden (which requires a 90-minute round trip) but has a fantastic SuperValu market. We plan to shop in Clifden once a week.

That’s all for today, folks! We’ll continue to get out to take photos as often as possible. For today, we didn’t have many photos to share, but we will be heading out after a while to see what we can roust up on this cloudy day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2018:

A small but substantially packed ferry was arriving in Zambia from Botswana while we waited. This reminded us of the ferry boat when we arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, in September 2013. Click here for that post. For more photos from the above Chobe visit, please click here.

Adaptation to life in Tasmania…Easier than many…More photos of downtown Penguin…Poppy Seed Strudel recipe…

Could it be tourists at the top of those rocks at the beach?

Compared to many places we’ve lived in over the past four years anymore, it’s easy here at Penguin, Tasmania. Sure, today it’s raining in buckets and we’ll stay indoors most of the day until 5:30 pm when we’ll head to a local social event which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

The Penguin Food & Veg stop.

We haven’t found a single insect in the house yet. The cool weather must be a factor which is typical year round. Now, as it approaches summer, we’re a bit surprised to find it as cold as it is. Here’s a chart of average weather in this immediate area, from this site:

Tabular view for temperature and precipitation per month in Penguin, Tasmania
Months Normal Warmest Coldest
January 21.1°C 13.2°C
February 22.1°C 13.6°C
March 20.8°C 12.6°C
April 18.2°C 10.8°C
May 15.3°C 8.7°C
June 12.9°C 6.7°C
July 12.3°C 5.9°C
August 13.0°C 6.4°C
September 14.2°C 7.6°C
October 15.8°C 8.8°C
November 17.7°C 10.4°C
December 19.2°C 11.8°C

*Temperatures are listed for Celsius. For example, the December’s high of 19.2°C is equal to 66°F and the low of 11.8°C is equal to 53°F.

Penguin Memorial Library. At the back of the library, there is an open-air reading area overlooking the ocean.

By examining this map of Tasmania its easy to see why its cold here based on the proximity of Tasmania to the Antarctic as shown on this map below:

Image result for map australia antarctica
Map of the southern part of Australia, in Tasmania, as indicated for Hobart and the Antarctic.

In 13 months we’ll be in Antarctica where, of course, it will be much colder than it is here requiring much heavier clothing than we have available. We’ll be renting outerwear through the cruise line which we’ll be wearing on frequent visits to ice floes via Zodiac boats. 

Another penguin statue.

New Zealand, where we lived from January 19, 2016 to April 15, 2016, was nowhere nearly as cool as here in Tasmania.  However, as shown in the above temperature chart, January will become warmer as it moves further into summer in this part of the world.

  However, as the temperature chart above shows, January will warm up over the summer in that part of the world.

Are we uncomfortable? No, not at all. Thank goodness for the warm shirts we purchased a few days ago, the heavy socks we have in our bags and the blankets we’re using as needed to stay warm indoors.

These items aren’t for sale. They were donated by locals for display purposes only.

The house has a multipurpose air con/heater in the lounge (living room), but we make every effort to avoid using extra electricity unless it’s an absolute necessity. So far, so good.

Next door to the Penguin Post Office is a café, the Letterbox. Notice Tom on the right wearing his new flannel shirt.

As an island, a sunny day in Tas (as the locals describe) can easily turn into a rainy day, which we experienced yesterday when we hung three loads of laundry on the outdoor clothesline. 

More penguin items donated by locals which also are “not for sale.”

Before we headed out for the afternoon when it had begun to drizzle, we took everything off the clothesline bringing all the wet clothing indoors to hang on a tiny free standing clothes rack. It’s still wet today on this humid day and may not dry until tomorrow. 

We’d seen this type of pine tree in Madeira, Portugal in 2014.

Yesterday, we headed to the neighboring town of Burnie with a population of 25,000 to stop at the Harvey Normal store to purchase a new power cord for one of our laptops. During the recent cruise the power cord died. We could either order one online or find one locally

Penguin statue.

Based on the fact these cords are in two parts, we could purchase an Australian plug in the power adapter and use only the part with the black box, continuing to use the same US plugin with our universal adapter. Once we leave Australia at the end of April, we’ll only be using US plugins for a while. 

The device was only slightly higher than it would have been ordering it at Amazon in the US. Priced at US $74, AU 99 at Harvey Norman in Burnie we avoided tax and shipping costs. With multiple plugin tips as a universal device this will work for us for these laptops and, as a backup for future laptops we’ll purchase when in the US.

The Madsen Hotel is owned by an exiled Prince of Laos.  More on this later.

After shopping at the Harvey Norman store, we headed to the Makers Mart, an architecturally interesting center in Burnie where artisans and contractors display their unique wares. Photos will be presented in a future post. It proved to be a unique environment we’re excited to share.

As for adaptation, we have experienced the lack of a baking product always readily available in the US. Since Tom had only gained a few pounds on the cruise and with his birthday and Christmas on the horizon, I offered to bake a special treat for him, one of his favorite Christmas baked goods, Polish Poppy Seed Bread.  (See the recipe below).

Penguin themed seesaw the local playground.

After visiting the largest Woolie’s store in the area and talking to the store manager, he explained he’d never heard of nor carried “canned poppy seed filling” and it it’s unlikely we’d find it anywhere. As a result, I had to forgo making this for Tom. 

Penguin outside the Penguin Barber Shop owned by Linda, Terry’s sister.

I asked Tom what he’d like as an alternative and to my surprise, he said, “Nothing. I’ll just have our usual food (meaning low carb, gluten free, grain, sugar and starch free foods). I don’t need sweets.” Of course, I’m thrilled with his response, always concerned for his health and well being.

Christmas wreath decorations in Penguin.

Today, as you can see we’ve posted the remainder of our photos from our walk through downtown Penguin. We’ll be back with more new photos tomorrow after tonight’s social event.

Beef marrow bone for sale in local grocery story. 

Here’s our recipe:

Polish Poppy Seed Bread (Strudel) Recipe
An Eastern European dessert table would invariably include something sweet made with poppy seeds, either ground or whole. This poppy seed strudel is made with a yeast dough and is known as makowiec (mah-KOH-vyets) in Polish. Canned poppy seed paste is available in the ethnic or baking aisle of most supermarkets. 

Makes 2 Sweet Polish Poppy Seed Breads
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours

       1 package active dry yeast
       2 cups warm milk
     8 cups all-purpose flour
     3/4 cup sugar
     1 teaspoon salt
       5 eggs
     4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
     3 (11-ounce) cans poppy seed filling
    4 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup 2% milk, starting with 1/4 cup milk until you have an easy to spread frosting
    1 tablespoon real vanilla


1.   In a small heatproof bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm milk.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and eggs. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups warm milk, butter and yeast mixture. With the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat until smooth. Dough will be sticky at this point.
3.  Scrape dough into a clean, greased bowl. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and cover. Let stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until double in size.
4.  Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a rectangle.
5.  Spread 1 can or half of the filling you made on each rectangle of dough and roll up like a jelly roll. Turn ends under so filling will not leak out.
6.  Place on a parchment-lined or greased pan, cover and let rise again until double in size.

 7.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush tops with additional melted butter. Bake   
     45 to 60 minutes or until strudels are golden brown.  Don’t overcook.

8.  Remove from oven and cool. When totally cooled, neatly frost with above frosting recipe or use canned white frosting if preferred.
We tripled the Poppy Seed Bread recipe three times, making five loaves extra large.  See here in this original post on Tom’s birthday in December, 2012.
Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2015:

View of the pool and patio from the veranda at our vacation rental in Pacific Harbour, Fiji on the main island of Viti Levu where we stayed for one month over the holiday season. For more photos of this property, please click here.



noun ˌa-ˌdap-ˈtā-shən, -dəp-

Definition of ADAPTATION
1   : the act or process of adapting : the state of being adapted
2   : adjustment to environmental conditions: as
a : adjustment of a sense organ to the intensity or quality of stimulation

b : modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment  

We’re adapting.  It’s not easy.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy.  We loved our unique peninsula home, the breathtaking views, Mother Nature surrounding us, the ease of being together day after day, and the people in our lives. 

Yes, as most of us, we longed for more; more time, more money, more freedom.  The longing, in itself, became an elemental part of our existence, tucked away to draw upon when pensive or reflective, never quite certain what it was we wanted.
The familiarity of the enveloping environment created a cocoon from which we could so easily escape by simply stepping away.  We chose not to.  Instead we chose to stay entrenched in the soft folds of a life insulating us from the harsh wounds life often inflicts. 
It didn’t protect us.  The sorrow, the disappointment and the unfulfilled expectations, still came our way.  We drew closer to one another as we muddled our way through, always grateful to have survived yet another rising of the tide, all the while anxious to return to our comforting routine.
Letting go of it all, saying goodbye, wasn’t easy. Yes, we had this great future planned, full of wonder; travel the world together for years to come.  “Wouldn’t that prospect make the leaving easier?” they asked.
In a perfect world, it would. But we’re imperfect. If we fall and break our leg today does it hurt less when we know that next week our new car is being delivered? Life is lived in compartments; today is a tough day but tomorrow is easy.  Today we falter, weak and unsure, yet tomorrow we stand tall ready to face whatever is thrown our way. 

Its the nature of us humans.  We feel. We’re inconsistent in the process of feeling.  That’s what makes us wonderful.  That’s what makes us adaptable; the desire to recover, the desire to heal and the ultimate desire to begin again.And, we begin again, as the clock to the end of our lives begins to tick louder, we begin again, to savor every moment in a state of constant flux and challenge in unfamiliar surroundings, testing our strength, testing our will.

Yes, it was hard to leave “them” behind.  It was riddled with guilt and fear of losing their love. But they have their lives to experience, to learn, to grow.  They have their own raging seas and calming tides.  They have their own adaptation.

As the time draws near, we find peace.  In two unfamiliar homes in the past three weeks we’ve chosen to call wherever we may be, “home.” That, ultimately, in our own way… is adaptation.