Less safety precautions in many countries…How do we protect ourselves?…

The contrast of the satellite dishes again the backdrop of the setting sun is odd to see.

Yesterday, we posted a photo of a horse we’d seen in the Big Square with a bloodied neck most likely as a result from the constant rubbing of a heavier harness he normally wore when pulling the carriage, day after day.

Reposting it on Facebook as I often do, we received many horrified comments. One in particular caught my eye, prompting the content of today’s post, written by our niece Kari, “Wish laws were in place to prevent animal abuse like it is in the USA. Poor thing!”

The mosque, lighted at sunset.

Oh, do we wish the same, not only for animals but, also for the safety of people, both locals, and travelers? As we began our travels visiting more and more countries, we were surprised at times by the lack of regulations in place for the safety and well being of the public, all so familiar to us in our lives in the US. 

Now, we are no longer surprised, having learned to carefully assess situations, adapting our behavior to comply with the conditions on hand to ensure our own safety.

The orange juice vendor is ready for the evening rush as the crowds begin to fill the Medina at night on the weekend.

In a few cases, we’ve been happy to see a lack of laws such as in South Africa, where it is not illegal to park one’s car on the shoulder of the highway in order to pee discretely in the bushes on the side of the road. 

In the US, one could be arrested for “indecent exposure” possibly resulting in a criminal record as a “sexual offender.” Good grief, what does one do when stuck in traffic for hours?  Let’s face it! We’re a growing generation of baby boomers and senior citizens who may not be able to hold it for hours. 

As one perceives about Morocco, lighting is a big factor in creating an inviting ambiance both at home and in public places.

I won’t get into a discussion over the fact that they are too many laws in the US in an effort for the government to rule our lives. I won’t get out the soapbox for this potentially heated topic. But, I will say that there are many laws and regulations in place in the US and many other developed countries that, without a doubt, protect us from harm from ourselves and others.

Here are some of the general areas which we’ve taken for granted in our own countries, which may not be available in other countries as one travels:
1.  Provisions or adaptations available for the disabled.
2.  Considerations made available for seniors.
3.  Even steeps and pavement in both private and public places with appropriate handrails.
4.  Sanitary conditions in public areas.
5.  Restrooms in public areas.
6.  Safe-to-consume foods in most restaurants.
7.  Traffic safety, including roads being patrolled, proper signage, and warnings when necessary. Seatbelt and child seats and restraints requirements.
8.  Inspection requirements when building and remodeling properties, including regulations for rental properties. (continued below photo)

Many of the structures were built over 500 years ago.

9.   Water consumption safety. The public water may not be potable for visitors in many countries.
10.  Alternate electrical plugs for which travelers may not be prepared resulting in shock, injury, or death.
11.  Rapid emergency medical response. Availability of quality medical care.
12.  Easy availability of a means by which to refill a lost of forgotten prescription or medical devices.
13.  Readily available access to phone and Internet services.
14.  Language barriers making communication impossible in emergency situations.
15.  Adequate police visibility and protection in high-risk areas and situations.
16.  Laws and regulations applicable to the care of animals, both wild and domestic. Emergency veterinary services.

Early in the day, the souks aren’t crowded, an ideal time to get out for a walk.

Well, I could go on and on with the differences we encounter in our travels. In many countries, there are no laws regulating many of the above items. As a result, we take it upon ourselves to carefully examine the risks before traveling to determine if our willing adaptation will suffice to ensure a safe, healthy, and memorable experience.

Each day, as we head out, wherever we may live, we take the responsibility to examine our surroundings, assessing the necessary measures we must take for our protection. 

The further and further away from the most popular areas, the less the crowds, although one must carefully watch for fast-moving motorbikes and carts with donkeys.

If unsure of one’s ability to freely adapt to these possible differences, traveling in pre-arranged tour groups or to more modern environments may be more suitable.

Today, as we head out for the afternoon, we put our bodies and minds on high alert as we look forward to yet another enjoyable day.

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2013:

This palm tree tipped into the sea after a storm during the night as we took our last walk on the beach before leaving Belize two days later. For the full story from that date, please click here.

Dinner in a cave?…Yep!…Last night we dined in a cave…

I thought Tom looked great in this photo, but I reminded myself of Morticia wearing all black or, of the day in Abu Dhabi when we entered the famed White Mosque, requiring that I wore the black abaya in the 100+ degree weather while I was sick. I’ll never forget that day or, that photo which my sister Julie gets hysterical over every time she looks at it! (See the post in the archives for May 30, 2013).

As we continue on our mission of trying a different Diani Beach restaurant each Saturday night, we enjoyed on our second outing at the locally acclaimed Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant

The ambiance, in a natural cave, was formed by the sea over 400,000 years ago while the restaurant itself is thought to be between 120 to 180 years old, renovated in the 1980s with the intent of maintaining its original integrity.

Standing at the top of the stairway leading down to the natural cave, we were able to look down at the bar below. Every effort was made to maintain the original integrity of this environment when it became a restaurant over 100 years ago, renovated in the 1980s

This was accomplished with the most finite details, using only a minimum of modern-day amenities such as; candles as opposed electricity; few electric wires discretely placed to allow for small fans for movement of the humid air as opposed to air conditioning; an open ceiling as nature had created allowing a view of the stars in the night sky while dining.

During dinner, Tom mentioned that it reminded him of a “man-made attraction one might find at Disneyland where the walls we made of molded resin as opposed to the natural stone.” 

The lounge in the bar where we had our drinks while waiting for our table. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:30 pm with most diners not appearing until 8:30 or later. I guess us folks from the US are early diners.  We’ve found that dinner is typically served at 8:00, often 9:00 pm as we travel the world.

Adding to the ease of making online reservations for dinner, Ali Barbour Cave Restaurant provides complimentary driver service to and from the restaurant. At promptly 7:00 pm, the driver arrived as we waited with the guard at the main gate to our complex.

As the older van pulled up, I asked, “Where are you from?” as a safety precaution. When Joseph replied, “Ali Barbour Cave Restaurant” my mind was at ease.

Another view the seating areas in the bar, depicting somewhat of a Moroccan theme, of which we’ll see plenty when we live in Marrakesh Morocco, a mere six months from now.  My, how the time is flying by!

Based on the restaurant’s proximity to our home on Google Maps, I’d anticipated a short two or three-minute drive. Once on the dark, narrow, bumpy unlit road, as cars drive on the left side, I began to worry after more than 10 minutes had elapsed. 

Joseph reassured me it was down the road a short distance. As we pulled into a narrower rocky unpaved, unmarked road, Tom and I squeezed each other’s hand, wondering why there was no sign on the road and where we were going.

View of the walls in the bar. All lighting in the walls and at the table was a result of candles, creating a warm atmosphere, romantic to say the least.

Later, when we left the restaurant, we noticed a glaring sign on the opposite side of the highway that we missed when turning in. Perhaps, we were foolish to give it a thought.  But, living in Kenya one cannot be too cautious.

The seating across from us as we lounged on the love seat in the bar.

For the first time in our travels, with all the bumpy and scary roads we’ve traveled, last night was the first time I felt a little carsick. The weaving back and forth along the busy highway, the lack of air conditioning, the smell of toxic fires in the air, my stomach revolted in queasiness. Luckily, once we arrived, the feeling quickly passed.

To our surprise, no security was in place at the entrance to the restaurant, although a Maasai guard/greeter wearing traditional African red robes warmly welcomed us, graciously opening the car door and offering a hand to assist us out of the back seat.

The story about the cave.  Excuse the flash.  In the dark cave, it was unavoidable.

Upon entering the unique space, we both were instantly in awe of yet another of nature’s creations that humans had so carefully maintained.

The air, thick and humid, cooled by numerous quiet, well-hidden fans, took a few minutes to become adapted. After all, we were in a cave.  I’d expected to find a few bats flying about or perhaps evidence of guano. There was no evidence of either.

In Kenya, living, and dining all of our meals outdoors, I feel sticky and grimy at all times. Also, the necessity of re-applying mosquito repellent (DEET free is working well, but requires reapplication every few hours) during all waking hours (we’re protected by the mosquito netting in bed) invariably attracts the soot and sand in the area at all times, only adding to the feeling of being dirty.

Showering every morning leaves me at my worst by the end of the day. With the water restrictions, we choose to only shower once a day. Having to dress in more “evening out” clothing as is typical in finer restaurants in the area (no shorts allowed), it’s difficult to make myself change into other clothing, as the mosquitoes are in a full frenzy around 6:30 pm each night. 

Diners began to filter in around 8:00 pm, filling all tables by the time we were ready to leave around 9:45 pm.  We’d be warned not to rush the servers for the check-in our travels. Many countries’ servers are accustomed to taking their time in delivering the bill. Most often, as is the case here in Kenya, tips are only allowed to be paid in cash, not added to the credit card slip.  Of course, this requires us to keep adequate change on hand.

When staying in, we both change into our BugsAway clothing provided considerable protection from the mosquitoes except for exposed skin. Each night before dinner, I lather my arms, hands, and ankles with the stinky lotion.

Going out to dinner changes the entire scenario.  With no BugsAway clothing acceptable for dining in finer restaurants to protect me, I have no alternative but to fully coat myself with the lotion before putting on the evening clothes. 

Talk about feeling hot and sticky! Of course, I bring the lotion with us, often requiring an additional application during dinner, as the mosquitoes swarm around me. 

This is the natural opening in the ceiling, allowing a view of the night sky. It would interesting to visit during the day to look down into the hole in the main dining area.

Perusing the dinner menu, we were at a loss as to what we’d order. With their chef familiar with gluten-free cooking, I felt reasonably at ease, especially after explaining that he need also consider my avoidance of sugar, grain, and starches.

Twice, the waitress came to our table graciously inquiring as to our readiness to order, and twice we still hadn’t decided. Tom, beef lover than he is, coupled with his finicky taste buds, ended up choosing double Fillet Mignon once again, one of which was veal with Bearnaise sauce and the other regular beef with a peppercorn sauce. 

Only a few tables had guests when we entered the dining room around 7:45 pm. Within an hour, it was fully booked, mostly with non-English speaking tourists.

He didn’t find either of the sauces offensive in any manner but said the steak was less tender than he’d had the prior Saturday night at the Sails Restaurant at the Almanara Resort. 

Compliments of the chef, we were both served this tangy GF marinated salad.  Tom took one bite turning his serving over to me, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My dinner was similar to a pesto cheesy chicken recipe I’d concocted while living in Italy using the fresh herbs from our patio garden. The portion at The Cave was small leaving me hungry after dinner. Upon returning home, I ate a large handful of Macadamia nuts, which took care of that issue.

The dining room extending beyond where we were seated.
Most likely, we were the oldest diners in the restaurant all evening.  We noticed that the majority of the diners were younger couples, mostly in the late ’20s and ’30s. As we’d also observed in Italy when out and about, we seldom encountered any “old-timers” like us, causing us to wonder where all the retirees have gone for vacations or “ex-pat” living.
With the cost of living escalating in Kenya over the past several years and, with tourism down considerably, few retirees are making Kenya their home.  Also, the negative press regarding the crime rate in Kenya has deterred many travelers from coming this way.
This was the view to my right as we sat at a cozy, not too small table against one of the walls. We always prefer a wall, table as opposed to one positioned in the center of the room.
Candlelight accentuates the natural holes in the cave, adding to the ambiance.

For my dinner, as shown, I ordered the Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce, all gluten-free, with a side of sautéed vegetables. Tom, as always, scooted his vegetables onto my plate, a common occurrence due to his distaste for “green things.”

My dinner, Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce was well seasoned and pleasing to the palate, although the serving size was small. Rather than a chicken breast, this serving was a small single thigh. 
Realizing that my dinner may not satisfy my now ravenous appetite I’d considered a side salad.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have a salad dressing befitting my way of eating (low or no sugar and gluten-free) plus, we assumed that the raw vegetables weren’t washed in purified water, adding to the risk of disease or illness.
Tom’s dinner of two small Filet Mignon, each with a different sauce.  He was disappointed in his meal, having higher expectations after reading many five star reviews.

Would we recommend the Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant? Yes. The interesting and unusual atmosphere is well worth the visit, although we’d consider the food to be average. The service was flawless. Over the top!

Overall, including VAT tax, Tom’s two huge bottles of beer, my full liter of sparkling water, the service charge, tips for the servers, and the shuttle driver, we spent a total of US $68.09.

The stairway going up and out of Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. Gee, we’ve gone up and down a number of stone stairs in these past months!

Currently, with taxes, we’re spending approximately US $40 per day for groceries. It’s certainly worth spending an extra US $28 for us to get out of our outdoor living room for an evening and to dine at the hands of a local chef.