A dream come true…Antarctica, here we come!…Exciting and…pricey!…Tomorrow…the 666 day itinerary!

Not our photo, but not unlike the experience we hope to have on our booked cruise to Antarctica in 21 months. The cruise was booked up so fast on the day it was posted, we decided to book this far ahead.

When we first conceived of the idea of traveling the world in January 2012, a few of what we considered as “must do’s” in our travels have changed or have since been fulfilled.

That’s not to say the list isn’t still extensive at this point. The more we learn about this enormous world we live in, the more we find appealing to our tastes and desires.

For me, my number one dream was to see wildlife in Africa.  After almost nine months on the continent, my greedy self longs for more. Someday, we’ll return to fulfill my desires to return and also to fulfill one of Tom’s dreams to see Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Of course, that future trip will include seeing the gorillas in Rwanda, an experience we both will treasure.

As for Tom in the beginning, his first priority was to visit the Panama Canal.  Our first cruise in January, 2013 our ship traversed the narrow passageway at the Panama Canal, which proved to be an extraordinary experience for both of us. 

The newly built locks on the Panama Canal are yet to open due to construction delays although the expectation is that it will be operational by the end of June. Even if the new canal its not open by the time we arrive in 2017 we still look forward to it once again as another layer in the experience.

The Panama Canal is not a “final” destination, instead its a means for us to make our way to South America from our location in Central America at the time. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, in November, 2017 we’ll again cruise through the canal on the first of the two cruises we mentioned.

As we’ve continued on our travels incorporating almost constant ongoing worldwide research, we’ve added many locations to our list of places we’d like to visit. Will we be able to see them all?  Most likely not.  Both time and finances have a bearing on our ability to do so.

However, added to our list of “hope to see,” eventually moving over to the “must see” list, Antarctica quickly moved up to the top of the list over these past few years as we conducted more and more research.  We knew the price would be outrageous. As we’ve fine tuned our budget, we’ve saved and trimmed to make this possible.

The itinerary for our upcoming cruise to Antarctica.

Availability of Antarctica cruises for the right dates became imperative based on current bookings and, as described in yesterday’s post, as we began to explore South America for the later part of 2017 and 2018. 

Here is a link with considerable information about cruising in Antarctica from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) that has provided us with valuable answers to questions.

The quality of the cruise lines and ships became a vital aspect as we continued in our extensive research. We watched videos, read hundreds of online reviews as well as endless comments in CruiseCritic, constantly on the search for the perfect scenario for our needs and wants.

The most important criteria for us is taking an Antarctica cruise is the inclusion in getting off the ship to board small Zodiac boats that travel to the ice floes for close encounters with wildlife.  

The “cruising only” options of many ships with no “off ship” experiences typically last for 10 to 11 days. This was definitely not worth the lower cost to us.  We wanted more. We knew a 14 to 17 day cruise with use of excursions on guided Zodiac boats for up close and personal wildlife experiences was the driving force behind our research and ultimately, our final decision.

Then, of course, the price, age of the ship, quality of ship, number of passengers, reviews and accommodations on the smaller ships that visit this vast area of the world became a vital factor in finding the right cruise.

Tue Jan 23 Ushuaia, Argentina 6:00pm
Wed Jan 24 At Sea
Thu Jan 25 Grave Cove, Falkland Islands / New Island, Falklands
Fri Jan 26 At Sea
Sat Jan 27 At Sea
Sun Jan 28 South Georgia Island
Mon Jan 29 South Georgia Island
Tue Jan 30 South Georgia Island
Wed Jan 31 At Sea
Thu Feb 1 Elephant Island
Fri Feb 2 Astrolabe Island, Antarctica
Sat Feb 3 Neko Harbor, Antarctica
Sun Feb 4 At Sea
Mon Feb 5 At Sea
Tue Feb 6 At Sea
Wed Feb 7 Ushuaia, Argentina 5:00pm
Thu Feb 8 Ushuaia, Argentina Disembark

For me, I’d have been content to sail on the less luxurious ships with minimal accommodations if necessary to make it affordable. But, as our research continued, the lower priced older, less luxurious ships didn’t offer much lower pricing and…sacrificing luxury no longer became an issue. In any case, it was going to cost us dearly.

After considerable research, we decided on the French Ponant Cruise line which has small enough ships to maneuver into areas larger ships cannot navigate. Also, the cruise line offered excellent accommodations and amenities including tips and alcoholic beverages, upscale food with scientists and professional photographers on board.

Over these past 18 months, as we continued our search, we resigned ourselves to the outrageous cost of these 14 to 16 day cruises.  Prices on most Antarctica cruises begin at a low of NZ $14,682, US $8800, per person for more modest accommodations on less desirable ships to a high of NZ $79,285, US $54,000 on luxury ships.

Ships are categorized by “number of stars” ranging from a low of “3” to a high of “6” for the pricey high end ships.  The ship we selected, Ponant’s Le Soleal, is rated a “5.5”. We’re very happy with this. The price, on the other hand made us cringe a little although we were prepared it would be high.

The cost for the balcony cabin we selected on the fourth deck of Ponant Le Soleal is a combined (for two) NZ $50,654, US $34,500, as opposed to the much lower priced third deck where the medical center is located. We didn’t want to be close to that!  

Here’s information about the ship:

Le Soléal

Ship Rating:
Le Soléal features a sleek silhouette and a welcoming, intimate atmosphere. Le Soléal accommodates up to just 264 passengers and embodies the philosophy and spirit of yacht cruising that has made Ponant a success.

All 132 staterooms and suites feature ocean views, and the interior of the ship boasts contemporary décor with fluid lines and a modern color scheme. Trips in a Zodiac boat will allow passengers to get as close as possible to the natural grace of the Arctic lands, and a team of naturalists and lecturers will accompany guests and share their knowledge, experience and passion for their subject.

Carrying on a tradition of reducing impact on the environment, Le Soléal also features a state-of-the-art navigational positioning system, eliminating the need to drop anchor and therefore protecting the seabed. This advanced system also lowers smoke emissions and includes an optical and submarine detection system to avoid collisions with marine life, both day and night.

Le Soléal
Detailed Information
 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2013
Tonnage 10,944 tons
Registry France
Length 466 feet
Beam 59 feet
Passenger Capacity 264
Crew Size 139
Total Inside Cabins 0
Total Outside Cabins 132
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 124
Suites 4
Maximum Occupancy per room 4
Age Restrictions One person must be 18 or older
Dinner Seatings 1
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Dining Hours Open Seating
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Recommended? No
Tipping Guidelines Gratuities are included in the cruise fare.
Onboard Currency European Union Euro
Services & Amenities
Bars/Lounges 3
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Casino No
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing Yes
Elevators Yes
Hot Tub No
Cell Phone Service No
Internet Access Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Laundry/Dry Cleaning No
Library Yes
Movie Theatre No
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings No
Self Serve Laundromats No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Spa Yes
Video Arcade No
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court No
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track No
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool Yes
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting No
Children’s Playroom No
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program No
Teen Center No
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
(private connecting doors)
Kosher Meals No
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins Yes

Yesterday, we paid the non-refundable deposit of 25% at NZ $12,666, US $8,625. Even that made us cringe.  But, we look at this much desired cruise as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one neither of us ever dreamed possible. 

Going forward, we’ll share more information on this cruise including the cost and details of renting appropriate outerwear clothing, boots and gloves which the cruise line arranges after we make our online selections. 

The cruise lines have requirements on which items we must rent to ensure they don’t have to deal with less appropriately dressed passengers. Today, we received an online form from our highly competent cruise rep at Vacations to Go, Brooklyn Earnhardt who can be reached here which included medical forms we must have signed by a doctor no more than 90 days before departure date.

Over the next 21.5 months until we board the cruise on January 23, 2018 in Ushaiai, Argentina, referred to as the most southerly city in the world (the ends of the earth) we have plenty of time to take care of everything we’ll need to do

Here we are today, only one week from boarding the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas at the Port of Sydney, Australia.  No, this upcoming cruise may not be as exciting as the Antarctica cruise. But, our enthusiasm and level of excitement is high, as always, as we continue on to our next adventure. 

May your day find you filled with enthusiasm for whatever your day brings. Today, we’ll be hanging out with 47 adorable alpaca moms and babies. What more could we possibly want?

Photo from one year ago today, April 9, 2015:

A juice bar on wheels in Hanalei. A tour we’d planned was rained out.  Instead we visited Hanalei, a small tourist town in Kauai. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…South America, here we come!..A new continent…A new leg in our journey…

With only one week until departing New Zealand and an upcoming cruise beginning next Saturday, the 16th, we decided to wrap up a few bookings for the distant future while we had a good Internet connection.

When we reviewed our itinerary ending on our five-year travel anniversary on October 31, 2017, a mere 18 months away, we knew it was time to pin down what was next on the horizon. 

In the past few days, we were able to extend our vacation rental in Costa Rica to November 22, 2017 (19 months from now) making all of this planning work well. Costa Rica has a 90-day visa maximum for US citizens.  Halfway through our stay we’ll leave the country for a day and re-enter providing us with a new visa end date.

Thu Nov 23 Fort Lauderdale, FL 4:30pm
Fri Nov 24 At Sea
Sat Nov 25 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun Nov 26 At Sea
Mon Nov 27 Panama Canal (Full Transit) (Cruising)
Tue Nov 28 At Sea
Wed Nov 29 Manta, Ecuador 7:00am 2:30pm
Thu Nov 30 At Sea
Fri Dec 1 Lima (Callao), Peru 9:00am
Sat Dec 2 Lima (Callao), Peru 7:00pm
Sun Dec 3 Pisco, Peru 8:00am 6:00pm
Mon Dec 4 At Sea
Tue Dec 5 Arica, Chile 8:00am 5:00pm
Wed Dec 6 At Sea
Thu Dec 7 At Sea
Fri Dec 8 Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile 5:00am

Although pre-planning to the extent we do may not appeal to some, without a home to return to, we find tremendous peace of mind in planning well into the future. In any case, it’s always delightful anticipating future plans and adventures. 

In reality, most of us take great comfort in knowing where we hope (and plan, if possible) to be in the next few years. It can be a little unsettling not knowing what the immediate future holds. 

No doubt, everything can change in a moment or in a day.  But, that reality seldom prevents us, humans, from planning for the future and comfortably settling into the present.

For our way of life, however quiet or adventuresome it may seem at times, we find packing our itinerary with future plans a huge source of excitement and anticipation while we’re fully embracing our lives at the moment.

Now, with leaving this glorious location one week from today, we decided to wrap up a few bookings to place us well into the future, after we’ve left the US for the family visit and after over three months in Costa Rica living in the fabulous villa owned by our friends Bev and Sam whom we met in Kauai.

After accepting their generous offer of an excellent “friend” rate for the Costa Rica property we realized that keeping our costs down during this period enables us to plan a few pricier plans for the future when after Costa Rica, we planned to head to South America.

In today and tomorrow’s post, we’ll share these few cruises that will be instrumental in taking us to the perfect locations in South America as a segue into our possible two-year tour of the continent where again, we hope to fulfill more of our dreams.

In another post upcoming this week, we’ll be including our itinerary for the next 666 days that contains only a few gaps we’ll fill in months to come. If life proves to be quiet while in Bali and the wifi is adequate, we’ll be able to spend time searching for bookings to fill the gaps.

Then, of course, we’ll be posting our total final expenses for New Zealand on the morning we leave to drive to Auckland, one week from today, to take the flight to Sydney, Australia, where we’ll once again spend one night before the cruise the following day.

Sure, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed quiet farm life here in New Zealand. But now, as we continue on, we look forward to “shaking it up” a bit while seeing more of the world as you’ll observe in the upcoming post with the itinerary.

Fri Dec 8 Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile 6:00pm
Sat Dec 9 At Sea
Sun Dec 10 Puerto Montt, Chile 9:00am 6:00pm
Mon Dec 11 Chilean Fjords (Cruising)
Tue Dec 12 Strait of Magellan (Cruising)
Wed Dec 13 At Sea
Thu Dec 14 Punta Arenas, Chile 7:00am 5:30pm
Fri Dec 15 Ushuaia, Argentina 10:00am 7:00pm
Sat Dec 16 Cape Horn (Cruising)
Sun Dec 17 At Sea
Mon Dec 18 Puerto Madryn, Argentina 8:00am 5:30pm
Tue Dec 19 At Sea
Wed Dec 20 Punta del Este, Uruguay 9:00am 7:00pm
Thu Dec 21 Montevideo, Uruguay 7:00am 5:00pm
Fri Dec 22 Buenos Aires, Argentina 5:00am
Sat Dec 23 Buenos Aires, Argentina Disembark

These two cruises we’re posting today are “back to back” which we hadn’t posted at an earlier time. To explain “back-to-back” for our less experienced cruisers, it’s when passengers stay on the ship for its next cruise continuing on later in the day.

In most cases, we’re required to get off the ship for a short period, leaving all of our belongings in the same cabin while the ship is prepared for the next barrage of passengers embarking a few hours later. 

In most cases, we won’t need to stand in long lines when we re-board and will be pushed along to easily gain access without any commotion since “back to back” passengers are given priority re-boarding.

On two other occasions, we’ve booked back-to-back cruises, once in Belize in April 2013 and another in Barcelona in May 2013. In both cases, it worked well when we were able to keep the same cabins except mid-cruise when we asked to be moved to a different cabin as a result of the pounding noise in the middle of the night from the disco below. (That was the last time we selected Carnival Cruises, not quite our type of cruise).

We’ll be back tomorrow sharing a “dream come true” while in the interim we’re totally wrapped up in the excitement in our backyard after Trish and Neil moved the alpacas to our backyard enabling us to enjoy them up close and personal during this final week. We’ll be sitting on the veranda most of the day watching them. It’s wonderful! 

May your day be wonderful as well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2015:

Could this albatross chick be any cuter?  A year ago while living in Kauai we spent hours observing the lives of the Laysan Albatross and their growing chicks.  This experience added so much joy to our four months on the exquisite island, along with all the friends we made. What great memories!  \Click here for more photos.

Worried about Mont Blanc…Delilah…Watching over the alpacas this week…

Little Mont Blanc, dirty from days of rain, still small and fragile.

With Trish and Neil gone for Easter until next Wednesday, we’re keeping an eye out on the alpacas. Their friend Barb is stopping by each day to give them their daily vitamin feed which is placed in dozens of colorful bowls at the edges of the various paddocks.

Mont Blanc’s mom, Giselle’s half-hearted grin.

We don’t have much to do other than to check on pregnant mom, Delilah, who’s due to deliver at any time. Her photo is shown below.

Much to our heavy hearts young Mont Blanc isn’t doing well. He’s now in a separate paddock with his mom and another mom that is also not doing well. Her cria, Latle is also in the paddock.

Latle, the healthy fast-growing youngster with Giselle, Mont Blanc’s mom, in the background.

On Wednesday the vet came to examine Mont Blanc and determined he’s having some type of digestive disorder preventing him from growing and thriving. 

A few weeks ago when we alerted Trish and Neil that Mont Blanc didn’t seem to be nursing or pecking at the grass and appeared tiny and skinny compared to the other fast-growing cria of similar age, they separated him and his mother to another paddock. 

Mont Blanc is much smaller than one month older Latle.

During that period, we’d spotted another cria nursing from Mont Blanc’s mom, leaving less for him. We sent Trish a photo showing the two babies attempting to nurse simultaneously, which proved to be an oddity. Less than a week ago we posted the story with photos as shown here.

Latle is 29 days older than Mont Blanc and is growing well.

At first, once separated from the others, he gained weight and was seeming to improve. Then, a few days ago he began to take a turn for the worse, losing the weight he’d gained, prompting Trish and Neil to call the vet to determine what was wrong. The diagnosis of a digestive disorder left them uncertain as to his fate.

As for Delilah, the only remaining pregnant mom due to give birth this year, she’s yet to deliver her cria.  We’ve been watching her progress daily but see no signs of impending birth. In Trish and Neil’s absence we’ll keep a close watch to ensure all goes well should she soon deliver. She seems fine, is eating well. 

Mont Blanc does appear to munch on a bit of vegetation.

Delilah, pregnant and soon due to deliver, is one of the largest alpacas.  She is a less common rich dark brown. Delilah appears to be the leader of her herd, always at the peak of alertness for any possible intruders.  She’s become used to us visiting the paddock and expresses no concern when we come by.

Yesterday, we walked the distance to the paddock close to their house where Mont Blanc and his mom are located. We made our way over the fence to get inside the paddock and gingerly approached. They didn’t move away as they were unconcerned by our presence having been around us for over two months. Their means of communication, a tender little hum, was escalated by our presence.

Delilah, the last of the pregnant moms yet to deliver this season.

The other youngster in the paddock with his ailing mom is four weeks older than Mont Blanc but was easily triple his size. This is worrisome. We can only hope that somehow Mont Blanc survives this condition and soon begins to grow. He seems alert and active.

After checking on Delilah with no obvious evidence of impending birth we headed back home, planning to stay home over the next few rainy days checking on them several times each day.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2015:

One year ago, we met with Curly, owner of the Princeville Ranch, at the entrance that adventure seekers use for the myriad activities offered on the ranch.  He took us on a tour of the vast property in his 4X4 vehicle which was quite an adventure in itself. For more details, please click here.

A heartwarming story of a little life…

Only a few days ago, Mont Blanc approached the fence welcoming us.  Perhaps somehow he knows how much we care. See his story below

When we first arrived on the Watson Alpaca Farm on January 19, 2016, we had an experience with one of the cria, Mont Blanc, son of Giselle that we’ll never forget as shown in this post from January 26th. 

Mont Blanc was born on January 10th with blue eyes considered an anomaly, which Trish explained could indicate possible future health problems often observed in rare blue-eyed alpacas.

It’s been hard to get a good photo of Mont Blanc’s blue eyes with his long lashes. 

Somehow the tiny alpaca had maneuvered his way under the wire fence and was separated from his mother when they were in the paddock next to our house. 

We were inside when this occurred, but with the doors wide open we couldn’t help but hear his cries, his mother’s cries, and the cries of the others as they all worried about the fate of the separated cria at this point only a few weeks old.

Mont Blanc, the day he was reunited with his mom after escaping the fence.

Inexperienced as we were, we feared lifting Mont Blanc over the fence would be stressful for him or risky for us if Giselle was upset if we’d picked him up. Now we know better. We could have lifted him over the fence, returning him to his distressed mom.

Contacting Trish by phone she explained that she and Neil were on their way home from work to check on the alpacas as they do each day at lunchtime. In no time at all, they arrived, lifted Mont Blanc over the fence as we watched the joyful reunion of mother and son. 

Mont Blanc, on the left wearing his green collar sitting on the patch of dirt with the other much larger, younger cria only a few weeks ago.

We watched Mont Blanc and Giselle for days noticing how he never left her side, remembering all too well the distress of being separated for almost an hour. It was during this period we developed a special attachment to Mont Blanc and his quiet shy demeanor, less playful than the other cria who romped about the paddock in the evenings as the sun began to fade.

Since the alpacas are moved to “greener pastures” every week to allow grass to regrow from their constant grazing and to restore the area from parasites as a natural part of the animal’s defecation contributes to the growth of a variety of parasites that can ultimately affect the health of the alpacas.

Mont Blanc, a few days after he and his mom were moved out of the paddock with a few new moms and cria as opposed to the larger herd. 

Trish and Neil are diligent in managing control over the general health of the alpacas including management of the parasites both in the paddocks and the alpacas to ensure their continuing well-being. We’re continually amazed by the alpaca’s great health as a direct result of their diligent love and care.

When the alpaca group we’ve been observing these past two months spent time in the paddocks nearest the house, we couldn’t help but notice Mont Blanc’s small stature and over time, how he didn’t seem to thrive. 

Mont Blanc, a few days ago, bigger and healthier, nursing without sharing.

The many other younger cria surpassed him in height and weight. He seemed to struggle to get up and down when he hunkered down on the patch of dirt outside our living room door where the babies often cuddle together. Over time, we noticed his rib cage showing. 

When I mentioned our concerns to Trish, she mentioned they’d tried to bottle feed him but with the alpacas at a distance from their house, they weren’t able to see him as easily each day as we were at such close proximity.

About 10 days ago, as I sat on the deck lost in watching the adorable behavior of these precious beings, I observed this unusual scenario, another larger cria nursing off Mont Blanc’s mom. 

Mont Blanc, the smaller of the two in this photo, was being pushed out from nursing by this other youngster. Alpacas only have one cria each year and rarely nurse another baby.

Immediately, I sent Trish the photos, and that evening after work, Trish and Neil came and moved Mont Blanc and Giselle to another paddock where he wouldn’t have to compete for food from his mom. We’d rarely seen him nursing or even grazing that all the younger cria had begun doing regularly.

Each day after they were moved we walked to the distant paddock to see how he was doing and much to our delight, he was often nursing and munching on grass.  In only a matter of a few days, he began to fill out. His ribs were no longer showing. Now, he’s thriving and quickly growing.

Mom growled a little at the other cria when she noticed what was going on.

Yesterday, Trish stopped by to drop off our insurance documents that had arrived in the mail from the UK and to tell us that Mont Blanc has gain 2 kilos, 4.4 pounds since they were moved. 

When she said to us, “You may have saved his life,” our heart flipped in our chests. How much better could this experience have been for both of us? 

The pinkness of his nose and mouth is changing as he matures and grows healthy.

To be instrumental in the birth of a two cria while we “babysat” in Trish and Neil’s absence and then to play a small role in alerting them to the critical situation with Mont Blanc, our experience on the farm is complete. 

Although we haven’t had to “do the work” that Trish and Neil do each day and the work and responsibility of our ancestors living on farms, we’ll be eternally grateful for a new understanding and appreciation for life on a farm.

Mont Blanc with a blade of grass in his mouth is looking great!  His name tag says, “Mt. Blanc” like the name of the pricey pen.

Soon, our journey continues on with more life-changing opportunities to expand our personal growth and embrace the scope of the world around us.

Be well, dear friends…

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2015:
One year ago, the food in the Oasis restaurant at the resort was delicious according to my sister Julie who was visiting us in Kauai. Her lunch of fish taco was prepared perfectly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one item on the menu that worked for me and I wasn’t hungry enough to ask for special modifications. I ordered an iced tea and was content to be with my sister as we looked out at the sea. For more photos please click here.

Windy days and night…Coldest we’ve been in awhile…

Only a few pregnant moms remain in the paddock that will give birth this season. Many more are pregnant for next season. This most recent birth occurred in this past week. In this photo, the cria is less than one day old.

This is unusual for us…being cold. My hands are frozen. With no warm clothing with us, this morning I’m wearing spandex Capri-length workout pants, a tee-shirt, socks, and Tom’s zippered hoodie.

The temperature this morning is 10C, 51F. With the wind blowing fiercely for the past 36 hours, we’ve wondered how the alpacas are staying out of the wind since we can’t see them easily from our house especially with them huddled in a low spot in a distant paddock.

We haven’t wanted to venture out in this wind especially after one of the clothesline broke after I hung a few towels yesterday morning, leaving an entire row of fresh laundry on the grass. Foolish me. We brought everything inside hanging them over the glass shower stalls in each of the two bathrooms.

We giggled when we thought we saw the name of the newest cria. Look at the photo below for the name! 

We’d hope to go out sightseeing yesterday or today, but the high winds make it less enjoyable, especially when getting out and back into the car to take photos.  Surely, there will be better days down the road. The cool air is tolerable, but the wind is annoying.

There’s no doubt, many of our readers who live in frigid climates are laughing at our intolerance for the coolness. But, we’ve been in mostly tropical and arid climates over the past 41 months, only wearing our jackets on rainy days, rarely feeling cool enough to “bundle up.”

Our goals have been to “follow the sun” as much as possible. The last time we felt this cold was in Iceland in September 2014 when we went out on a cool, very rainy day for a 4 x 4 rough road tour in this vehicle below.

This was the 4 X 4 vehicle we used on the off-road tour of Iceland. Excuse the black lines on the edges of the photo.  It was raining so hard the automatic lens cover got wet and wouldn’t fully open.

It wasn’t the experience we’d hoped for due to the rain, although, overall, we got the gist of life in Iceland. Click here for the link to Part 1 of that adventure. It’s no wonder we go through cameras in no time at all!

There’s a gas fireplace in this house here in NZ but we try to be considerate as to the cost of utilities when we’re renting homes. We’ll only use it if the temps continue to drop during our upcoming remaining days.

Although generally, it doesn’t snow in New Plymouth, it can be cold during the winter months, as shown on the two charts below, one each for Celsius and Fahrenheit:
Average min and max temperatures in New Plymouth, New Zealand Copyright © 2015 www.weather-and-climate.com
Average min and max temperatures in New Plymouth, New Zealand Copyright © 2015 www.weather-and-climate.com
Luckily, we planned to be here mostly in the summer, arriving during the warmest period of the summer, in January. When we first arrived almost two months ago, it was warm enough to warrant the use of fans during the day and again at night. Now, we use neither, huddled under the warm comforter at night, exposed skins chilled to the touch.

Yesterday and last night, the house was literally shaking in the wind, startling us at times. It’s a solid, sturdy, well-built house. We had no fear of any damage occurring, but at times, it reminded us of the horrible spring and summer storms in Minnesota when we’d had considerable damage on several occasions.

Once we’re done here today we’ll head out hoping to find a few photo ops on a drive into town to head to the health food store. I’m chomping at the bit to get out to take more photos, but with recent heavy rains and now the heavy winds, we’ve decided to wait. We still have plenty of time.

For Tom…The cria’s name is “Minnesota!”  We couldn’t stop smiling!

It’s hard to believe that we’ll be on yet another cruise in only 34 days. As much as we love cruising, we’re easily embracing every last day here on the farm looking forward to the alpacas moving back closer to us sometime in the next few weeks. 

I’ve missed them during these inclement weather days and most certainly, we’ll be walking down to their current paddock to see them as soon as the winds abate to a degree.

Our new camera is able to zoom in to these cows on the neighboring farm.

As winter rolls into spring in the US we expect most of our family and friends in frigid Minnesota are looking forward to better weather in the near future. We recall only too well, the slush and mush in March and April as we all anticipated the short spring and summer. 

Now, all of that is behind us. In 15 months we’ll be in Minnesota to visit family and it will almost be summer when we arrive in early June, just in time for the grandchildren to be out of school for the season.

May all of our readers have a beautiful day wherever you may be with lots of warmth and sunshine in your lives!

Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2015:

We were excited to see many more flowers blooming in Kauai as spring approached. For more details as we approached sister Julie’s visit, please click here.

Part 1…Beautiful and hilarious faces…Take a peek for a warmed heart and a hearty laugh…Part 2 in a few weeks…

Check out that smile with grass!

Perhaps it’s just us. Maybe we’re somewhat daft for loving animals as we do finding joy, humor, knowledge, and a passion for their health and well-being as we tour the world.

They often appear to be smiling.  Perhaps, these gentle animals are as happy as they appear.

Whether it’s a bird, an insect, a lion, or one of the endearing alpacas on this beautiful farm in New Zealand, we stop to observe, to analyze, to study online to learn as much as we can.

Many moons ago we wrote about the therapeutic benefits for animal lovers when spending time in their presence. Whether it’s one’s own pet or an animal in the wild, many find a surge of feel-good hormones rushing through their bodies.

The noses and lips of the cria are pink until they mature. This cria is only 24 hours old, hugging close to mom.

Yesterday, as we walked the grounds of the farm, I commented to Tom how spending time with the alpacas makes me feel as if I’ve been infused with an added dose of happiness, unable to wipe the smile off my face.

The bottom teeth are of varying sizes and shapes on each of the alpacas, not unlike in humans.

Looking at Tom, I saw that same smile and sense of peace on his face as we got up close to the alpacas, many of whom have come to know us as we approach the fences at the various paddocks.

Again, we stopped to see the pink cockatoos capture this funny photo from the moment they saw us. Surely, visiting them will be a frequent stopover our remaining time on the farm. 

“Look,” she says, “That weird pair of humans are back, staring at us!”  Even the faces of birds are expressive.

Against the narrow diamond-shaped galvanized chain-link which houses the cockatoos, I tightly positioned the lens of the camera to ensure I got a good shot without any major amounts of chain link appearing in the photo.

Using photo editing software I was able to “erase” any remaining vestiges of the chain links, allowing as clear a view as possible of these exquisite cockatoos.

It’s not unusual to see alpacas with grass sticking out of their mouths.

As I sit here now, sipping Tom’s perfectly made French press coffee, I need only lift my head to peer outside on this chilly morning to see a number of alpacas munching on the dew-covered grass in the side paddock to which they were moved a few days ago. 

Posing for the camera!

They’re moved each week to one of the many paddocks to allow the grass to refresh and regrow. Our favorite paddock is the one closest to the house, essentially in our immediate yard, where we can reach out and touch them from the deck. 

This is Gypsy Rose who loves to look in the kitchen window while I cook.This photo was taken through the glass.

Within a few weeks, they’ll be back close at hand which may be for the last time while we’re still here, as our time winds down and we’ll soon have to go. Over this past almost two months we’ve come to know and love them not unlike we’ve adored other wildlife in our travels; warthogs, kudus, zebras, giraffes, and more in Marloth Park and “Birdie”, albatross and chicks and whales in Hawaii.

There are only a few dark fleece alpacas that appear larger and very expressive.

If we weren’t determined to see many parts of the world, I could easily spend all of our travel time living in wildlife areas or on farms with animals (after this amazing farm experience). 

We love visiting these two located in a paddock further down the road, although still on the farm.  They often appear side by side although they are of the same gender.  Adult females (dams) and males (machos) are kept apart unless mating.

Its not beyond my realm to conceive of spending most of our time in Africa and other wildlife-rich locations although doing so would be less ideal for Tom. Instead, we both relish in one another’s preferences making our travels meaningful to both of us. 

No, I haven’t been disappointed living in countries where a passing bird or an insect may be the only creature within the range of the camera. We always seem to find points of interest and other pleasing aspects of every country we’ve visited.

This female appears to have a mouthful of teeth.

Today, we share Part 1 of some of our favorite alpaca photos…faces…adorable, heartwarming, and funny, if not hilarious.  We’ll share Part 2 on another date over these next remaining weeks. 

Most of these faces shown today were taken with our old camera. I’m anxious to capture more with the new more advanced camera, especially now as their fleece has begun growing back after their annual springtime shearing, making them even more adorable.

Ears tucked back for the photoshoot.

Smile with us, laugh with us, and hopefully, you too will feel a little rush of endorphins and feel-good hormones from the sheer joy of such simple beauty in the faces of these somewhat peculiar-looking creatures.

Today, we’re off to the winery.  Back tomorrow with new photos!

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2015:

It’s hard to believe it was a year ago we visited new friends Bev and Sam in Kauai who’d invited us to movie night at their home. Bev and Sam are the couples from whom we’ll be renting the fabulous villa in Costa Rica in 2017. This photo is of a small portion of the grounds of their beautiful home in Kauai.  Bev explained that these red bamboo stalks on the right as Lipstick  Bamboo.  We continued on the pavers set in dense grass for an interesting tour of their gorgeous, former botanical gardens home.  For more photos, please click here.

Each day bring more wonders, more laughter and more surprises…

Trish and Neil recently acquired these two pink cockatoos, a mating pair, from an elderly couple whose health is failing. This pair is living in a chained link cage on the grounds with lots of space and plenty of food. To get this photo, I placed the new camera, touching the closely woven chain link cage. Our old camera would never have been able to capture this photo through the wire.  More photos of these gorgeous birds will follow on sunnier days.

In an attempt not to think too far ahead, I’ve avoided checking how much time until we leave New Zealand.  Why do we ever count the days? Often, we have necessary steps in the process of moving to a new location that require advance planning.

Also, when we’re in a location which we won’t be disappointed to leave, counting down the days seems to make the transition and remaining time easier. It’s never that we want LIFE itself to move along more quickly. 

We treasure each day in its content and length, both arising early and staying up until sleepiness overtakes us; me, always before Tom. We never lie down or nap during the days, never wanting to miss a moment.

The alpacas sleep in this tree lined area of the paddock at night.  We took this photo very early this morning. As the day warms, they move close to our house, where we can observe them all day.

Living in this glorious location, the alpaca farm in the Taranaki Region of New Zealand, leaves me a feeling a little sad over the prospect of its eventual end.  In an attempt to stay in touch with reality, today for the first time since our arrival, I checked this “date to date” calculator to see how much time we actually have left here, although we both had a good idea in our minds.

When the calculator indicated only 41 days until we depart on April 15th, my heart sank. Only 41 days left on this farm. It will be hard to leave. Plus, from what little we’ve seen of New Zealand, this amazing country has wrapped its arms around us making us feeling welcomed and included.

Sorry, readers. We haven’t traveled much to share the endless scenery and tourist attractions. In essence, we’re chasing joy however it may come our way. We’ve found it right here. And, if staying close to New Plymouth has given us joy, we don’t question it for a moment.

From time to time a family member mentions, perhaps even criticizes that we don’t travel about enough. Maybe that’s what “they” would do in our circumstances.  

Yesterday, we walked down the road to visit the cows at the adjacent farm. This mating pair were “necking.”

With our goals of “living” throughout the world, we find ourselves living exactly as we’d like, as the locals, in their environment and in their world of simple pleasures surrounded by the treasures they appreciate each and every day.

The difference for us is that eventually we have to leave behind that which we’ve come to embrace, the beauty of this simple life with few responsibilities other than life’s daily maintenance of a healthy existence and a warm and loving environment with one another, with our surroundings and with nature. 

It’s a simple prescription for happiness by our standards, one we don’t question, one we find works for us. Even Trish and Neil who have the daily responsibility of managing this 35 acre farm and over 100 alpacas who require daily tasks and attention in order to maintain their good health and well being, are fulfilled and happy in their lives.

Another cria born in the “pregnant moms” paddock. We missed the birth of this one! The mom and cria were located in the far rear of this paddock. With out old camera, I wouldn’t have been able to get this distant shot.

With outside jobs and coming home nightly to many tasks, they never complain and seem to relish in every aspect of this monumental responsibility. They easily dismiss the amount of work to choose happiness instead, to embrace the quality of life they’ve chosen with grace and dignity.

Many throughout the world talk of feeling “overwhelmed” a word we frequently hear as common in the harried lives of those in the US and other countries. In our old lives while we were working, at times, we felt as if it was “too much,” too much stuff, too much responsibility, too much obligation.

We sent this photo to Trish indicating something they’d never seen, two cria nursing from one mom simultaneously, which may determine why the smaller of the two isn’t thriving as it should. Today, she thanked us for keeping an eye out to bring such an anomaly to their attention which may result in separating the mom and baby from the others.

Now, we are free of those feelings, never feeling overwhelmed. Well, maybe once…when we first arrived and the newly born cria, Mont Blanc, had escaped the confines of the fence and couldn’t get back to his mother while both cried loudly. We didn’t know what to do. Now, we’d pick him up and place him on the other side with his mother. 

Life is good. No complaints here.

Photo from one year ago today, March 5, 2015:

Our old camera took good photos in Kauai one year ago.  We think it was the high humidity after four months in Fiji that finally caused the issue. For more photos, please click here.

Another extraordinary day on the farm…Graphic birthing video and photos…

This is the first full birthing video we’ve taken since our arrival at the alpaca farm over six weeks ago.

I get it. Some of our readers may be tired of hearing about the alpacas. For you, we apologize for our one-track minds while living on this farm. Were any animal lovers living here, it would be easy to see how enthralled we have become with these amazing animals.

We both giggled over our “safari luck” to be able to see the birth when we happened to be walking past.

While living in  South Africa, we were equally wrapped up in the animals on a daily basis as they wandered about our vacation rental, in the same manner, they do here. 

The only difference here is the lack of variety in breeds of animals when instead we have the immense variety of the differences in personalities of the alpacas the more and more we come to know them. Even the rapidly growing cria have developed their own demeanor setting them apart from the others.

Elliouse walked about the paddock as the birth progressed, never far from the other mom or our easy viewing.
Yesterday morning, Tom and I walked toward Trish and Neil’s home to check out birds they invited us to see at any time. Although they weren’t home we were sensitive in respecting their privacy by avoiding any photos of their house itself instead, taking photos of some of the interesting surroundings which we’ll soon post.

We never saw the birds they’d described but will return again soon to see what we may find and when we do, we’ll certainly post those photos as well.

More ears crowning.

On the way toward their home, I mentioned to Tom that one of the four pregnant moms was moaning all of which have been kept in the separate paddock along the road awaiting the birth of their cria.  

With his less-than-ideal hearing from years of working on the railroad, at times he’s unable to hear certain sounds.  On the walk back from their home, I noticed the moaning has escalated a little, not outrageously loud but slightly more detectible. At that point, Tom was able to hear her as well.

For a moment, Elliouse sat down to rest while the other moms watched with their heads up as they waited for the birth.

We stopped, camera in hand, and with our limited experience we could tell a small portion of the cria’s face was “crowning.” The birth of the cria could be imminent. As small as she was compared to the others, we wondered if she may be a young mom having her first birth. Would her small stature present as an issue? 

With Trish and Neil at work, with him as a physician (not a vet) and both highly experienced in the delivery of the cria, if we needed to reach them we could do so quickly when they both work in town and could get back to the farm in 20 minutes, if necessary.

Elouise almost looks as if she is smiling as she sees the cria’s birth was going as nature intended with the front legs showing. We were also relieved.

Seeing the face crowning through the membranes gave us comfort in hoping we’d soon see the front legs.  Trish and Neil explained that if face and front legs come first, most likely the remainder of the birth will go well, providing there were no other unforeseen complications. 

Having had this experience when Miss Jessica was born one week before my birthday, we’d joyfully watched over her birth when Trish and Neil were out of the town.  With both of them in close proximity and, based on our past experience, we weren’t worried, instead, feeling excited. 

Our goal during yesterday’s occasion was to make a video of the miraculous birth in its entirety with a number of photos accompanying the experience, should anything go wrong with the video.

The cria gently landed on the ground listless only for a few minutes while we watched in anticipation.

With our relatively modest lightweight camera which soon must be replaced after substantial humidity has caused issues over these past 18 months, taking videos is tricky. Regardless, we forged ahead, managing to get the video we hoped at the exact moments of the birth. 

Holding up the camera up for so long was challenging but my motivation didn’t falter. Pain or not, I held it up in place as we waited, attempting to anticipate the moment to begin the video when our intention was to keep it short with uploading issues on metered wifi. 

Few readers care to watch a 10-minute video when we’ve determined keeping a video under two minutes is ideal which we managed in this case albeit a bit shakily when I’d been holding up the camera for quite some time. There was no time to run back to our house for the tripod.

This is at 10 minutes after the birth, as the cria wiggles on the grass attempting to stand.

It was interesting watching the three other moms as they stood to watch over her during the birth of her cria.  There was no doubt in our minds they were well aware of what was transpiring as they spent less time grazing and more time on the lookout and engaged in the birth. 

Once the baby was born we started the countdown on the 20 minutes requirement for the cria to stand on its own. If the cria struggled to stand after this time frame or seemed listless, we may have had to help which we were prepared to do if necessary.

This cria hardly needed human intervention when he (we later discovered it was a male), squirmed about almost constantly during that 20 minute period raising his head in less than 8 minutes after his birth.

Smaller mom, Eliouse, didn’t seem to want aunties intruding with the cria, hissing at this pregnant mom a few times.

In precisely 24 minutes from the birth, the cria was on his feet. Wobbly on spindly legs we laughed over and over as he attempted to stand, finally doing so with little certainty but considerable enthusiasm.

We’d be standing at the paddock for over an hour. With the cria and mom both looking healthy and happy we returned home anxious to email Trish, check our photos, and upload the video to YouTube. 

Finally, 24 minutes after birth the cria stands on wobbly legs while mom watches. It’s amazing how the moms know the cria must stand quickly to ensure their good health.

A short time later, we spotted Trish and Neil at the paddock. As it turned out, they were on their way home for lunch, a daily occurrence on workdays. We’d sent an email but they’d yet to see it. 

They were as excited as we were when we shared the experience in their absence.  They explained the mom, named Eliouse, was in fact 12 years old, having given birth to many cria over the years, and was an attentive and loving mom.

Now, with only three pregnant moms yet to give birth, we chuckled over how timely our stay on the farm has been. Had we arrived at any other time of the year, we’d have missed these delightful experiences of the births and the pure pleasure of watching these playful youngsters as they quickly grow.

If showing these funny lower teeth (alpacas don’t have upper teeth) can indicate an emotional state of happiness, Eliouse was indeed happy with the birth of her new offspring. We were happy too!  What an experience!

Today, when the cleaning people arrive soon, we’ll be off to town to shop at a variety of markets. We both enjoy the shopping each week, especially stopping at a number of locations.

Each day offers some degree of magic, whether it’s the birth of a cria, the singing of a bird, or a flower blooming as summer winds down in New Zealand. It only requires us to pay attention to our surroundings. May your surroundings provide YOU with some magic today!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2015:

Kealia Beach as we walked along the Kauai Path on a sunny day in Kauai one year ago. For more photos from the Kauai Path, please click here.

A simple life in the country…

Sunset at the alpaca farm.

The house has a metal roof and it’s a veritable hot box on hot days. We have no choice but to leave the sliding doors open. The flies and sand flies are bad. I wear repellent round the clock, re-applying it three times a day. 

This alpaca, Amber Rose, who recently gave birth, often looks at me through the kitchen window while I’m preparing meals at times pressing her nose on the glass.

Last night, a dragonfly was flying around the bedroom making noise as it bumped into the walls keeping me awake most of the night.  With no screens on any of the doors or windows, we can’t open any of the bedroom windows at night to cool off the hot room. 

The fan moves the hot air around but doesn’t seem to cool it down. We’ve only used the comforter on a few occasions. 

The WiFi is metered and we can’t download as many of our favorite shows as we’ve often been able in other locations. We’re in a tough position when we know we won’t have good enough WiFi in Bali to download shows.  We’d hoped to download everything we’ll need while we’re here to later watch in Bali. That may not happen.

Each sunny afternoon, the alpacas crowd to the side of the house to find shelter in the shade.

I love it here. Tom loves it here. Adaptation.  It’s a simple life in the country.

There’s a lot to love; the alpacas; the many comforts in the house; the ever-changing exquisite scenery surrounding us; the sound of the flowing nearby river; the kind and helpful owners, Trish and Neil; the New Zealand people; the ideal shopping fulfilling all of our needs from the health food store to the grass-fed only meat market to the weekly farmers market with the best eggs in the South Pacific.

The number of alpacas in the shade from our house grows with the heat of the sun.

Yes, there is a lot to love. Yesterday, I filled a bowl with a special grass mix for the alpacas and hand-fed it to them as my feet dangled over the edge of the veranda.  I couldn’t take photos while my hands were otherwise busy. It didn’t seem to matter at the time. Sorry about that. Sometimes the experience supersedes all else.

Hanging the laundry on the clothesline is a pleasant experience in itself as is each time I step outdoors in my bare feet to check to see if it’s dry. The feel of the soft neatly trimmed grass under my feet sends my senses reeling, reminding me of the yet unproven philosophy of “earthing” or “grounding.” that may have some truth to it. (See here for details).

The grouping of cria started with these four.  They love sitting in this dirt, rolling around, and getting dirty.

The rental car sits in the driveway, used only three times a week for a variety of local trips. We don’t want to leave more often. Everything we could possibly want is right here within a few hour’s drive. 

In minutes, the group of cria grew to eight.

Yesterday, I walked alone when Tom didn’t feel like joining me. As I approached the cattle, my favorite pregnant female immediately spotted me heading to the fence. She literally danced she was so happy to see me, lifting one leg at a time as she rocked in place, shaking her head back and forth, slobber flinging from her mouth in the process. 

My favorite cow separated from who may have been her last offspring.  We often find them close to one another sneaking affection through the fence.

She moaned in frustration as I walked away. Had anyone seen this they would have laughed at this crazy woman communicating with a cow. I’ve often wondered if I should have lived on a farm when I’ve always been drawn to barnyard animals, rolling dough, and baking bread (in my old life when I could eat gluten).

Last year’s young bulls.

Instead, for now, we live this simple life, outdoors a lot, cooking good meals, mingling with the life in the country, taking photos of precious moments with the ongoing joy of sharing them daily with all of YOU, as we’ve shown today.

This mom and son, Mont Blanc, are the pair that were separated by the fence when Mont Blanc had crawled underneath and escaped. Later, Trish and Neil picked him up, placing him over the fence, not an easy task. We often see them in close contact perhaps remembering they were once separated. Although Mont Blanc, the only blue eyes cria in the now group of 12, loves playing with the other youngsters.

For those in the US, may you have a fun-filled Super Bowl Sunday. (We’ll be watching it here). And for our friends in New Zealand, enjoy the remainder of Waitanga weekend. For details of this holiday, please click here.

Have a happy day in the country, city, desert, mountains or plains or, wherever you may be…

Photo from one year ago today, February 8, 2015:

My delicious lunch, a year ago, at the Kauai Westin Hotel with friends Elaine and Richard included a grass-fed burger with cheese, grilled onions, bacon, and a side salad.  For more photos and details, please click here.

Worrisome event at the Alpaca Farm Retreat…Late posting…Too many delightful distractions…

Although a little tough to see with the long lashes, Mont Blanc has blue eyes and was the “cria’ that escaped the paddock yesterday, leaving us in quite a quandary.

As simple as farm life may seem for us casual observers for which no work on the farm is required or expected, it can have a few challenges from time to time. We’re observant guests here for three months to revel in the panoramic scenery and to be close at hand to the alpacas.

Recently moved to one of the two paddocks closest to the house the adorable alpacas are within 20 feet, 6 meters, from the house. As I sit here now, I can see them standing at the short fence. At the moment, a brown mom and brown baby are looking at me through the glass.

The mom, Gizelle, to the left in this photo is worried along with the aunties that the “cria,” Mont Blanc, had escaped the paddock by crawling under the fence.

Getting up to look outside, more often than one would imagine, we’re able to see the approximately 30 alpacas (out of 90) in this side paddock happily grazing on the thick grass, scrubs, and trees. We couldn’t enjoy this any more than we do.

They’ve become used to us now and don’t move away as we approach. This was a gradual process escalating when they were moved to this closer proximity to the house. 

Baby Mont Blanc worried while standing outside the paddock after he’d escaped under the fence. We don’t think he’ll try that again! Mom is looking on along with all the other moms and babies worried as well.

Early this morning Trish and Neil stopped by to drop off an umbrella for the outdoor table and extra linen, pick up our garbage and let us know that there are alpaca treats in a bin outdoors. Pellets? Sound familiar to our long-time readers? In checking it this morning, it wasn’t pellets but a chopped grass mix. Later, we’ll give this a try.

Although at this point we may not need to entice the alpacas with food when they already seem interested and curious about us. Especially…after yesterday’s unusual event (unusual to us, in any case).

After uploading the post, I couldn’t get outside quickly enough to spend time with them. Tom was wrapped up in the NFL football games which were broadcast live on ESPN at 9:00 am Monday (Sunday afternoon in the US). 

He darted about our patio trying to find a way back inside. the paddock.

As soon as I headed out the door, I spotted a new baby, born less than a week ago, had escaped the paddock by crawling under a wire mesh area of the paddock closest to the house. The baby was running back and forth along the fence line crying in a sound I’d never heard before, as the mother stood helplessly behind the paddock also crying her heart out.

My first instinct was to help. What could I do? The babies are sensitive and emotional. Would lifting it up over the fence be too stressful? Would handling it be detrimental to its relationship with its mother?  I just didn’t know enough to make a good decision.
Tom came running outside as I called out. He’d been wrapped up in the football and although sympathetic he wasn’t particularly interested in getting involved in finding a solution. I was on my own.
I’d hoped the baby would see where it had escaped but good grief, its only a week old today. Could an animal of such a young age be resourceful enough to figure this out? The mom and baby continued to race back and forth along the fence line crying and trying to figure out a solution.
Mom is on the other side of the fence hoping Tom will lift the baby over the fence.  Uncertain as to what to do and concerned over a possible injury, we decided to try to find an alternative plan.

No matter how hard I looked I couldn’t find a way to get the baby back inside the paddock. Everything was entirely secure with no unlocked gate or access point anywhere. Plus, there’s an electric fence in areas that Trish explained may be turned on from time to time. Was it on or off?  How would I check without getting shocked?

I’m fairly resourceful. I knew the backup plan would be to call Trish on the number she’d provided (using Skype). She and Neil both work in town. I didn’t want to disturb them requiring a 45 minute round trip drive if the baby found its way back inside while they were on their way. 

The mom was looking at me as if to ask for help. The other moms also cried out loudly along with the mom and baby. They were all obviously distressed. To see the love and concern of these long-necked somewhat odd-looking animals was heartwarming reminded me of the love the warthogs moms expressed for their young.   

Another week-old baby worried about Mont Blanc when he couldn’t get back inside the paddock.

The baby, although shy, approached me several times as if it too knew I could do something. At halftime, Tom came outdoors to see what he could do. Immediately, he noticed the escaped baby was in fact the one the owners had told us has blue eyes, an oddity in alpacas. Looking more carefully, we confirmed it. Its pale blue eyes looked into our faces asking for help.

Short of trying to corner the baby and pick it up placing it back over the fence there were no other options. Lifting an alpaca may be dangerous when on occasion they’re known to bite with their sharp teeth and  also have very sharp hooves. (Neil had mentioned he’d recently been bitten by one of the alpacas).

The moment they were reunited, hard to see but heartwarming.

There was no way we’d risk an injury as opposed to making a phone call. After about an hour with no remedy in sight, I called Trish. I sighed with relief when she explained they were both already on their way home to check on the farm and would soon arrive.

I was relieved and waited outside keeping a close eye on the whereabouts of the baby in fear it could run off to be gone forever. The mom ran back and forth about the paddock, crying loudly while attempting to stay focused on the baby as well.

While the others were busy dining on the green grasses, Gizelle and Mont Blanc lay together like this for hours after he was returned to the paddock.

Finally, Trish and Neil arrived and within minutes, together they lifted the baby over the fence while we watched him, named Mont Blanc, practically leap through the air toward his mother, Gizelle.  Although they were hidden behind a post during the emotional reunion, I made every effort to take a photo.

Only minutes later, I captured several shots of the two of them huddled together where they stayed for hours as I often checked on their wellbeing. They seemed content and at ease to be reunited.

Hours later, when the others had wandered to another paddock where they sleep at night, Gizelle and Mont Blanc remained close to one another. 

It was a hot day hovering around nearly 90F, 32C with high humidity. With no overhead fans, we decided to open all the doors for cross ventilation. By the end of the day, there were no less than 50 big noisy flies in the house. Before dinner, Tom swatted them with a cruise documents filled envelope killing all of them on the glass of the windows and doors.

While he did the dishes, I scrapped the fly guts off the windows and doors, spraying with window cleaner and picking up the dead flies from the slider grooves below,  gagging all the while. 

Another mom kissing her baby.

Afterward, we both agreed that leaving the doors open all day wasn’t a good option. We’d bring down the bedroom table fan for use during hot days, only opening the doors for a few minutes on windy days to cool down the inside air which always seems hotter than outside. After all, it’s midsummer here now and New Zealand isn’t exempt from high temps and humidity.

After hanging clothes on the line this morning, many of the alpacas approached me, now realizing that we mean no harm and that they and their babies are safe in our presence. Baby Mont Blanc approached me as did mom Gizelle, making eye contact with that adorable little smirk they appear to have on their funny little faces. Gee…

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2015:

Cloudy skies are not unusual in Kauai, known as the “garden island” where it can rain daily, clearing later. This view was from our veranda.  For more details, please click here.