Day #221 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Kenya anniversary holiday, seven years ago…

A morning view of our tucked away ocean cottage at The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of world travel. Tomorrow is our eight-year anniversary of embarking on our world journey. For more from this date, please click here.

The restaurant has opened in the hotel. If we so chose we may now dine there. As we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, sitting in our comfy chairs in our hotel room, with trays on our laps, I doubt we’ll change our routine. I think this may be the case for the duration, for however long that may be.

Finally, we were able to take photos of the elusive Colobus Monkey. Note the long sideburns. 

Today’s photos bring back many pleasant memories, which during this challenging time, brings a smile to our faces. What a fantastic three-night stay at The Sands at Nomad Resort! They treated us like royalty knowing we’d be documenting our experiences which was entirely unnecessary.

Many times we ask for special pricing for several reasons:

  1. We’ll be promoting the business, not only while we’re on the premises, but also for years to come via our website
  2. In most cases, we’ll be staying longer than most guests
  3. We have acquired a five-star rating as renters from past property owners and property managers
Another Colobus with the long swatches of hair. Not all of them had these particular markings.

As in the case of this above aforementioned short three-night stay, our special pricing included a discount of 30% off the regular room rates. We were happy with that at the time. But, now after researching online, their prices have increased by 40%. Today, their room rates range from a low of US $329, INR 24551, to a high of US $418, INR 31192, per night. Such prices would be beyond our reach if we could return to Kenya anytime soon.

We had such a good time during that three day period and during our three months in Kenya, other than the apprehension we felt for our safety while due to high crime risks, Our favorite restaurant, Sails, which we visited many Saturday nights, was bombed by terrorists a month after we’d left.

After returning from the pool where the umbrellas provided too much shade, Tom did a quick 20 minutes in the sun on one of the chaise lounges in our front yard.

We were ill-advised about renting a car while in Kenya even in the more upscale area of Diani Beach, due to the high risk of carjackings. Instead, our landlord provided us with the name of a reliable local man who drove us everywhere. Based on these facts we didn’t go sightseeing as much as we have in other countries.

Even at the grocery store, the taxi was searched by military staff carrying rifles, and we were searched upon entering the market or the phone store where we purchased data. Military personnel were stationed at every ATM. It was while we were in Kenya that the horrific attack transpired at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

The chaise lounges at our ocean cottage where fresh towels are delivered each day.

Our family members and many friends/readers contacted us to ensure we were ok. But, Diani Beach is an almost 10-hour drive from Nairobi. The fact our house and the owner’s house next door were guarded by two guards in two 12-hour shifts seven days a week provided us with a modicum of peace of mind, especially at night.

We had a red emergency button next to our bed and the windows throughout the house had steel bars on all windows. At night, we had to close the windows due to the mosquitos and other insects when there were no screens on the windows. The house became a hotbox during the night with only a slow-moving ceiling fan over the bed.

Early this morning as we left our cottage for breakfast in the main restaurant.

Why did we go to Kenya? To be able to visit the Maasai Mara for our first safari experiences. But, we are grateful for the time we had in Kenya, which toughened us up. The wonderful local people we met, who were warm and kind, and the rich cultural experiences were presented to us in one way or another, day after day.

Kenya is now open for tourists and occasionally, there are a few odd flights out of Mumbai right now. But, based on the above scenarios, neither of us feels it makes sense to return at this time. We long for the freedom of movement, driving, shopping, and dining out, all of which will be possible when and if we can return to Marloth Park, South Africa.

A sunny view from our veranda to the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa have very high crime rates as shown here:

Countries with the Highest Crime Rates (from this site)

The countries with the ten highest crime rates in the world are:

  1. Venezuela (84.36)
  2. Papua New Guinea (80.04)
  3. South Africa (77.29)
  4. Afghanistan (76.97)
  5. Honduras (76.65)
  6. Trinidad and Tobago (72.43)
  7. Brazil (68.31)
  8. Guyana (68.15)
  9. El Salvador (67.84)
  10. Syria (67.42)

Marloth Park, in itself, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, has its own share of crime from time to time, mainly burglaries of the bush homes, occupied by both locals or tourists. Let’s face it, many cities in the US are not safe right now either.

This adorable cat came to visit daily as we sat on the veranda of our beach cottage.

The bottom line, “you can run but you can’t hide.” Of course, now with COVID-19, that becomes another consideration for us, as to which countries will accept us and their subsequent restrictions for US citizens and those arriving from India. In time, it will all come to fruition, won’t it?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2019:

Bartenders performing tricks at the Ice Bar on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #206 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Auto email issues resolved!…Romantic Lion Couple…Rated “R”…

It was a perfect morning. The Romantic Lion Couple in the Maasai Mara in 2013, appeared casual and at ease under the shade of this tree. But, the air was filled with passionate tension.

Note: Many of our readers were not receiving the automatic daily email posts and have notified me accordingly. Our web developers have been working on this issue and a few minutes ago, I received an email that the issue has been resolved. Thank you for your patience. If you’d like to receive an auto-email daily with the newest post, please click the link at the top right of our homepage at SIGN UP TO NEWSLETTER where you can enter your email below that. You will receive a confirmation email to reply to. You can unsubscribe easily at any time.

The female lion occasionally opened an eye, checking out his next move.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

We’ll always remember the day while on safari in the Maasai Mara, of the mating lion couple we aptly named the Romantic Lion Couple. When our guide, Anderson, spotted this female and male lion lounging under a tree at a distance through his high-powered binoculars, he knew exactly what was going on and drove like a “bat out of hell” to get there in time for us to watch the rarely seen event.

“She likes me. She really likes me!” He looked at us as if seeking approval to move along.

We all waited patiently for an hour in order to get today’s repeated photos. It was amazing to see the cycle of life with these two majestic animals getting along so well, when often they are at odds with each other, often over food. Generally, in the wild, female lions hunt and nearby male lions steal their food.

Was this a precursor to women notoriously being the cooks and men eating the food we shopped for and cooked? Of course, in today’s world that has changed dramatically, for the better with men often cooking, and from what we understand becomes more and more prevalent in these times of more equality.

 Although he appeared relaxed, he was well aware of the task at hand, politely awaiting the perfect opportunity.

Right, now on day #206 in lockdown, while longing to do our own cooking, I’d be thrilled to cook a meal while Tom sat by and watched. He can steal my food anytime! But, for us, when preparing meals, he helps with the prep and does all the dishes. I love this arrangement and can’t wait for it to begin once again.

In the interim, I’m still working on the revisions on our almost 3000 past posts, one by one. Most days, I can complete one page of 20 posts out of a total of 150 pages. I am only on page 34 with 116 more pages left to do.

“I think it’s time to get this show on the road!”

Now that all five of the long 2000 word posts are done, I can focus on the corrections to ensure I can complete one page of 20 per day. At this rate, it will take approximately four more months for me to complete the task. A part of it has been enjoyable, rereading every post we’ve done while I search for errors to correct.

 Actively engaged in mating before our eyes.

By no means, is this an assurance that I didn’t miss some of the errors. But, it’s certainly a lot better than it was in the old Blogger format I was using as opposed to WordPress which allows for proper line spacing and font construction. Also, I am correcting all the double-spacing after a period for each sentence.

Afterward, he moved back to the tree in his usual spot, perhaps contemplating his next move.

During these past eight years, the use of double-spacing after a period has long been defined as unnecessary. Originally, this double spacing was established as important when typing on a typewriter. Old-timer that I am, I learned that old habit and didn’t start changing it until recently. I have no doubt, I am missing some of the corrections in this regard when editing each of the 3000 posts.

It takes about eight minutes of editing time per post resulting in almost three hours each day, beyond the time it takes to do the daily post plus stopping every ½ hour to walk in the corridors. These tasks keep me busy most of the day. What else do I have to do while in this hotel room? When I am done, I’ll be relieved and grateful I took the time for this daunting task.

Their tree on the left, we drove away, with those same smiles on our faces knowing that for some magical reason, we had a safari that couldn’t have been more perfect, more fulfilling, more life-changing than the 21 1/2 hours we spent with Anderson in that sturdy Land Cruiser, bouncing too high heaven, feeling lucky, so lucky!

May you have a pleasant day!

                                                                    _________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2019:

The view of the Wye River in Wales, we encountered on a drive in the area For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #202 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Lovely lions…

Mom growled over her successful hunting day, without a single male in view, confiscating her kill.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Seeing lions in the wild will always be magical for us. Having the opportunity to take photos of these majestic animals in their natural habitat only exemplifies this blissful sensation. Some of the most exciting moments while on safari over the past seven years, since our first safari in 2013, left us reeling with excitement with a divine sense of satisfaction.

Life is good for this female.

After all, isn’t the safari enthusiast, especially in Africa, on the hunt for that specific opportunity? This is not intended to negate the exquisite joy in watching a herd of elephants cross the road in the wild or a pair of rhinos lounging under the shade of a tree on a hot sultry summer day.

It all matters. It all elicits a rush of endorphins that few sightings in nature are capable of providing. Right now as I write here we have NatGeo playing Destination Wild in the background with penguins in CapeTown, South Africa, and I can’t help but stop to look, that same rush of enthusiasm washing over me.

The cubs took a break to relax.

Thoughts of Antarctica flood my mind every time I see or hear anything about penguins, elephant seals, killer whales, and seals, reminiscent of our stunning experiences in 2018, never to be forgotten. But, observing lions, more readily accessible in Africa will always remain an objective when we return to Africa, hopefully sometime in the near future.

The lion photos we share today, each of which were taken and posted in one day on this same date seven years ago. Each shot is easily recalled, my arms tired from holding up the camera for hours at a time, and my enthusiasm tempered to avoid making any sounds of excitement that could easily distract our subjects.

Moments later they were back at their meal again.

As time goes by, we both learned more and more about taking advantage of the opportune moments for taking good photos. As explained in our recent 2000+ word post of a few days ago, found here. No, we aren’t technologically advanced and expert photographers but we did learn to capture shots that appealed to us as shown here today.

For any of our new readers, we must emphasize that we DO NOT go on “hunting” safaris where wild animals are brutally murdered for “trophies.” I have no problem with hunting for food especially when animals need to be culled to save the remaining population. But, hunting and killing endangered animals is far beyond my comprehension.

The cubs enjoyed the meal while mom stayed back keeping an eye out for danger.

In Africa, there are countless such safaris for “trophy” hunters and many so-called “farms” that breed wildlife for this very purpose. Who are these people that get a thrill from these killings? Who would want to shoot and kill an elephant, a giraffe, or a lion? Honestly, I couldn’t befriend such a person, especially after all of our joyful photo safaris over the years.

While here in India, we had the opportunity to see tigers in the wild while on safari. Of course, this was thrilling and fulfilling. But, somehow lions remain in our hearts as one of our favorite sightings and subsequent photos, perhaps due to the fact that they will be more readily available for our viewing in times to come.

Tom, on safari, drinking a beer in the late afternoon, in awe of what we’ve experienced, having never expected it to be so rewarding and fulfilling in many aspects.

We won’t be returning to India in our future travels. During the first seven weeks that we were here, we scoured important sites throughout the country, satisfying our desire to learn as much as possible in a short time, only cut short by COVID-19. Had we been able to continue on, we would have had an additional almost three weeks which we forfeited when lockdown began.

This morning, I received an email from FedEx stating our package cleared customs and will be on the move. We’ll see how that rolls out.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2019:

While in Torquay, England we spotted this impressive design being made by a skilled sand sculptor. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #199 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Has it really been 199 days?…

 

Tom nudged me to turn around when I had the camera pointed in the opposite direction. I gasped when I saw this, a gift from the heavens. Thank you, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari experiences in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

As I wrote the heading for today’s post, “Day #199 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel,” I flinched. Has it really been 199 days that we’ve lived in this one room? Has it really been 199 days since we’ve gone for a walk in the fresh air, free to wander at our discretion, window shopping, stopping for a beverage at an outdoor cafe, or even wandering into a restaurant for a meal?

Has it really been 199 days since we prepared a meal, opened a refrigerator for a snack, or even sat at a table to comfortably consume a delicious homemade meal? Has it really been 199 days since we had a steak, a hamburger, or a pork chop? Or, yet a glass of wine or cocktail?

This female lion, like all animals in the wild, is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs, who were also lying under this tree as shown in the photo below.

In actuality, it’s been more than 199 days since we did any of the above. We left the US for India on January 29, 2020, a full 253 days ago. But, for our purposes here today, we’ll discount the first period of time up until lockdown in India on March 24, 2020, when those prior days were spent sightseeing in India as a part of our previously glorious world travels.

Has it really been 199 days since we began handwashing all of our clothing in order to save US $400, INR 29319, a month in laundry fees if the hotel washed and dried all of our clothing?

And now, that liquor is served in the rooms as of a few days ago, we’ve decided to further abstain since neither of us enjoys drinking in a hotel room. But more so, the cost of the average glass of wine or cocktail with 38% in taxes will cost around US $15, INR 1099. If we each had one drink per night, one month later, we’ll have spent an additional US $900, INR 65968. It’s just not worth it to us, not even for the cost of an occasional drink. We’ve waited this long…

The female lion is at leisure with her cubs under the shade of a tree.

And then, I ask myself, are the same meals we’re eating day after day made with healthy ingredients? Are the eggs free- range? Is the chicken we’re consuming every single day free-range or laden with antibiotics and chemicals? Are the ample portions of vegetables I consume night after night, pesticide-free? We have no idea and, asking such questions, with the language barrier, makes answers impossible. Long ago, I gave up asking questions about quality and food sources.

Most travelers stay in a hotel for a few nights, a week at most. None of these issues are a concern for one night or one week. However, 199 days later, these concerns are unavoidable, even in a nice hotel, like this. Of course, they are always considering cutting costs. It’s the nature of business especially for a huge conglomerate like Marriott.

The three guys in our safari vehicle laughed when us girls said that hippos are cute. They are actually responsible for the most deaths of humans than any other animal in the wild.

Yes, we are safe in cool comfort with great WiFi, a comfortable bed and bedding, and two quality chairs we sit on day after day. Yes, we can stream popular TV shows and movies from a variety of streaming services. In total desperation, we start watching in the late afternoon until bedtime, when there is literally nothing else to do. (I walk the hallways, starting first thing in the morning, every hour, and then between shows in the afternoon. I’m finished by dinnertime having accomplished my goal of 10,000 steps per day, roughly 5 miles, 8 km). Tom walks and does the stairs in the morning.

Has it really been 199 days that somehow, we’ve both maintained our sanity, continued to be able to laugh, get along with one another with nary a blip, and stay motivated to continue to write here each and every day? Yes, it has really been 199 days.

The acacia tree, usually flat on the top is a common tree in Kenya.

The question we ask ourselves is, “Can we take another 199 days?” That remains to be seen.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2019:

High Street in Torquay, Cornwall, England, many towns and villages have banners flying indicating the main shopping area. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #197 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago today…


This is a Topi only found in the Maasai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari experiences in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Please bear with us as we share repeated photos as we work our way through October 2013. It was that single experience while on safari many times in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, living in a luxury tent (photos of the tent will follow in a few days), that everything changed for us.

We could sit for hours and watch the antics of the hippos. Their lethargic movement and playful personalities are a pleasure to behold.

In tomorrow’s fourth 2000 word post (only one more to go), we’ll explain this further in regard to taking photos of wildlife. It’s a long post to which we’ll be adding more repeated photos but will illustrate how being amateur photographers has enhanced our world journey.

It was seven years ago today that we were entrenched in the exquisite glory of being on safari twice a day, while never disappointed. Throughout my life, I swooned over photos of animals in the wild, wondering when and if I’d ever have the good fortune or be brave enough to embark on such a journey.

A lone hippo searching for a morsel on the ground.

Little did I know at the time that bravery wasn’t a necessary element in experiencing the joys of safari. Instead, it is definitely a sense of adventure, which with a professional guide and later on, as our own guides, presented little risk with a multitude of thrills. At one point in our posts, I equated it to having an “E” ticket at Disneyland (remember, old-timers, like me?) and the thrills were seemingly never-ending.

Looking back at the photos now, especially while outrageously confined in lockdown in a hotel in India for 6½ months, these photos still send a rush of endorphins through my bloodstream, making me realize how addicted I’ve become to this amazing rush after all of these years.

 We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept on our safaris as a reality of the life cycle. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle.

Each day on Facebook I peruse dozens of photos from various safaris in Africa and countless photos of wildlife in Marloth Park from the many friends we left behind. Many of us belong to various Marloth Park FB groups and the photos make me long to return in a way I can barely describe.

When I think that perhaps someday soon we can return to see our animal and human friends, shop in a grocery store, cook our own meals, savor a glass of red wine or cocktail at happy hour, and move about freely in open spaces, my heart skips a beat.

The Mara River. Our tent was located on the shore where sounds of hippos filled the air beginning around 4:00 am as they awoke.

On top of that, at any time we’d like, we can make the 20-minute drive to the Crocodile Gate to enter Kruger National Park to excitedly search for the next big rush; elephants, lions, cape buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, most of which we don’t see as readily in Marloth Park.

The well-rounded experiences of that location is all we could ever dream of and, without a doubt, was where we had the most exciting, enduring, and blissful experiences in our almost eight years of world travel (as of October 31st). Whether it was dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant or dinner at our own table or theirs, with friends, sitting by the braai (bonfire), or even those special times alone on the veranda, just the two of us, reveling in every visitor that graced our garden during the day or evening, it all was special.

 No swimming in this river!

Will we appreciate it more now than we did then, during the total 18 months we spent in Marloth Park, in 2013, 2018, 2019? I don’t think so. We treasured every single day and night, just like we’ll do once again, sometime in the future. When? We don’t have a clue. But, we wait patiently for news on the horizon when borders will open and we can be on our way.

It won’t be easy getting there. It’s a long flight and most likely with COVID-19 protocols, it will be 35 hours or more from airport to airport and then, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Apparently, the closer (one hour drive) airport of Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger won’t be opening for some time. Time will tell.

 “Please pinch me,” I told Tom at that time. “I must be dreaming!”

Right now, our biggest concern is getting that package delivered. The hotel manager is helping us and working directly with FedEx. Hopefully, today, we’ll hear something. In the meantime, it’s the status quo, same old, same old.

Have a peaceful day and please stay safe and healthy.

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

A goose with a knot on her head on the farm in Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #196 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Photos from Kenya in 2013…

Anderson, our safari guide in the Maasai Mara, took us on an unplanned 90-minute safari rather than wait at the airstrip for another couple to arrive on a later flight. This was one of the first photos we took along the Mara River. Our tent was located on the banks of the river where the hippos awakened us with their hysterical morning calls. We couldn’t believe our eyes or ears.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Anderson referred to these ostracized male cape buffaloes (one of the Big Five) as Retired Generals. They’ve lost the battle for dominance and are forced out of the herd to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. Kind of sad. He gave us a nice pose, hungry not only for vegetation but also for attention.

It was seven years ago today, we embarked on our very first safari, in this case in the wildlife-rich Maasai Mara in Kenya. This life-changing adventure will always remain in our minds as the stepping stone into a world we only dreamed about, never imagining that safaris would become such an integral aspect of our world travels.

I love warthogs. Vegetarians, they amble around for the tiniest morsels. They are delightful to watch.

Also, included in today’s post, are photos from my first experience of flying in a small airplane. I was terrified, but our pilot, Edwin, who reassured me when he spotted the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro when I had an opportunity to take the photo shown here today. Ironically, this event cured me of my fear of flying in small planes.

I was nervous when I saw them, adding fuel to our small plane, which was fueled by using a hand crank, typically used in WW2, according to Tom’s recollection of history.

In our enthusiasm to share these experiences, we’ve probably posted many of these photos on many past posts. Yesterday I finished writing the fourth of the five 2000 word posts I had to do for our web developers who’ve been working on our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to provide us with a better presence in searches on the web, ultimately bringing more readers to our site.

View from the plane after leveling off.

When that particular 2000 word post is uploaded this coming week, I’ll be adding more of the same photos you’ll see over the next few days, as we re-share photos from the Maasai Mara experience as it occurred in 2013. Please bear with us for the repetition.

Seeing Mount Kilimanjaro changed everything for me. The inside of the plane was so small, it was difficult to get a good shot maneuvering around the other passengers since we were on the opposite side.

During these circumstances of COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not easy to avoid repetition, when we have nary a new photo to share of anything in our present-day lives, which for us, like many of you, consists of the routine and repetition of many functions and activities of daily life.

This appeared to be some type of horse farm. Look at the reflection of our plane on the ground! What a sight! I couldn’t believe we were inside that tiny thing!

This morning, I spoke to the hotel manager who has personally taken on the responsibility of getting our package situation resolved. We are so grateful for his help and kindness. He’s even got his wife, who doesn’t work for the hotel, involved in trying to figure a way for us to pay the customs taxes and fees. We’re hopeful.

At the moment as I type, Tom has his laptop plugged into the TV and is watching the Minnesota Vikings game from yesterday. With the huge time difference between the US and India, he can’t watch it until Monday mornings since the game plays while we’re sleeping. I enjoy watching the games so I keep an eye on it as it’s playing. But, the disappointment over their losing record, is discouraging, making me less interested.

After three takes off and three landings, we finally arrived to meet our guide, Anderson who’s lived in the Masai Mara region all of his life. What a guy!  We loved him the moment we met him, spending the next several days with him.

Last night, my dinner was a huge improvement. Most nights, except for the once-a-week tiny piece of salmon I order, I have chicken, usually chicken breasts which I don’t care for. I asked for other chicken parts since I prefer dark meat and they served me a good-sized plate of deboned dark meat in a decent-sized portion. Why didn’t I ask for this in the past?

Well, I tried. In the past, I’ve asked for the dark meat to include chicken thighs and chicken legs. They always stated they didn’t have them, just breasts. Last night when I ordered I said, “I’d like chicken but NO breasts.” Somehow, with the language barrier, this made sense to them, and a plate of deboned chicken thighs and legs arrived, well-roasted and moist, along with a good-sized portion of sauteed mushrooms.

My knees were still a little wobbly from the flights. I was thrilled to be on the ground, meeting our guide Anderson for our time in Onolana. At that point, I knew I’d be less fearful of the return flight.

I’ve been saving two hard-boiled eggs from my breakfast to eat with my dinner since it never was enough. Last night I didn’t eat the eggs when I was full for the first time since I gave up the curried chicken and paneer makhani, several weeks ago to reduce the number of carbohydrates I’d been consuming. The pain in my legs has improved but is not gone. ye. It could take another month or two until I get full relief.

Today, I’ll begin working on the 5th and final 2000 word post. It will be great to have this obligation behind me.

Have a good day filled with hope for the future!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2019:
That morning, at the farm in Devon, when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables and berries we used for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Day #107 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Birds over mammals?…

This adorable kookaburra posed for me in the yard in Trinity Beach, Australia, while sitting on the fence next to the rain gauge. These birds are much larger than they appear in this photo.

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

Today’s photos are from July 8, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.



Yesterday’s post included a remembrance of our time spent in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015 and a little about the story of our exciting experiences with the Laysan Albatross on the Garden Island, as shown here

After a while she/he relocated to the roof, looking down for a possible morsel of food.  They are known to snatch food off of plates when cooking on the “barbie.” More on kookaburras will be coming in a few days with our wildlife posts.

Today, as I pursued past posts for today’s photos, I stumbled across photos of the ever-so-fascinating bird, the kookaburra, while spending time in Trinity Beach, Australia in 2015. 


Contrary to our usual distaste for zoos, although we appreciate their existence as an opportunity for humans to learn about animals, while in Trinity Beach we visited a local zoo when we weren’t seeing many animals in the wild, except for kangaroos and wombats.

These common Yellow Allamanda were growing like crazy in the garden of our holiday home.

When we were welcomed to “do a story” on the Cairns Tropical Zoo, avoiding an entry fee and providing us with a personal tour with one of the zoo biologists, it was hard to resist.


Having an opportunity to learn about the indigenous animals which the zoo housed exclusively, certainly opened our eyes for future possible sightings of the birds and mammals we learned about on that special day.

Bottlebrush blooming in the yard.

There were three birds that particularly caught our attention; cockatoos, pelicans, and kookaburras, of which we’ve included a few shots today. As we continue sharing photos from past posts, in a few days, we’ll include photos of more of the stunning creatures we were fortunate to see on that tour.


In 2017, we stayed in Fairlight, Australia, close to Sydney, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with these special birds by hand-feeding visitors to the garden of our holiday home when they stopped by each day. Those photos will follow soon.

We drove up the mountain behind the market to Kuranda. When we began the steep and winding trek it was sunny. By the time we arrived at the first overlook, it was cloudy and rain began to fall. We turned back with a plan to return to see the village at the top on a sunny day.

When we began our travels, we didn’t realize how significant birds would become in our constant search for wildlife. Not only in Africa and Australia, but we also had many memorable experiences with birds in many other locations as many of our long-term readers have seen.


No, we aren’t expert bird watchers like our friends, Lynne and Mick from the UK with a home in Marloth Park, our friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, and our friends Linda and Ken from the UK and South Africa. But we certainly are bird enthusiasts, spending time learning about those we particularly enjoy. 

We could imagine how beautiful this expansive view would be on a sunny day.

Oftentimes, I’ll post a photo of a bird we don’t recognize and our friends will jump in and help us identify the specimen. Bird watching and savoring the beauty of birds can be quite a hobby and at times a lofty obsession, coupled with excellent camera skills. 


For us, we love seeing everything that walks, runs, flies, swims, and slithers. If it’s moving, we are curious about it, including a wide array of insects we’ve spotted in our years of world travels. Some of our favorite experiences and photos include closeups of insects and spiders.

The mountain and ocean view reminds us of Kauai, Hawaii.

Nothing new is on the horizon here at the moment. The hotel continues to be fully occupied. The monsoon season is in full force with raging rain and floods almost daily. Covid-19 continues to infect more and more each day and the prospects for leaving anytime soon diminish as the contamination escalates.


We’ve come to the conclusion that this is our lives now and spend less time searching for travel options than we did in the past few months. We’ll know when we can leave and make decisions from there. All the speculation, expectation, and anticipation won’t change a thing. 

The sections of land always create such an interesting view both from the air and scenic overlooks at higher elevations.

The more we accept this as our fate, for now, the less stressful this scenario may be. It is entirely possible we could be here for a total of a year or even more. Laughter is our best panacea. Hope is our salvation.


Stay safe.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2019:

A repeated photo of me and a few Gentoo penguins on Saunders Island, Antarctica on January 26, 2018.  What an experience! For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

Coffee, tea or me…

A kudu dancing in Chobe National Park in Botswana.


Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
Today’s photos are from May 25, 2015, from Negara, Bali.  Please click here for more details.
One of the highlights of our day, along with our two meals, is preparing and drinking coffee which we both enjoy along with the two or three mugs of green tea I may consume each day.

Buffalos, escorted by pre-teens, wandering along the beach on their way to a nearby river.
We’ve found the complimentary instant coffee provided in our hotel room as acceptable in flavor. Tom enjoys “regular” while I drink “decaf.” In normal times, decaf wouldn’t be my first choice. 
As we drove past this decorative wall, I asked Gede, our houseman, to stop for a close-up photo as shown below.
But, when I stopped caffeinated coffee after heart surgery 15 months ago, I’ve never returned to “regular,” figuring I’d get jittery now that so much time has passed. Green tea or other teas may have caffeine but they don’t seem to elicit the typical caffeine response when consumed in moderation.
So beautiful.

Here are the variances of the two products:


“Coffee has between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. black tea has between 14 and 70 milligrams of caffeine. green tea has between 24 and 45 milligrams of caffeine. white tea has between 6 and 60 milligrams of caffeine.”

These figures may vary substantially based on any particular product, how long the tea steeps, or how the coffee is prepared. Throughout the world we’ve experienced a wide array of coffees. Over these past years of world travel, we’ve made an effort to try the local coffee as well as varying methods of preparation.
A room was offered for rent at this property for INR 834, US $10.97!
When we visited Australia off and on in 2015/2017, we were surprised to find that traditional coffee-making products were very different from what we’ve been used to drinking in other parts of the world which included on-the-stove coffee pots, drip coffee makers, pod coffee makers, and our favorite French press coffee maker (Tom is masterful with the French press).
We’d never seen a flower-only farmer’s market. Flowers are commonly used as offerings to the Hindu temples and at many of the resorts and villas.

Instead, in Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand the islands in the South Pacific, instant or dried coffee was most commonly consumed. Here in India, in all the hotels, we observed large coffee makers in the restaurants and instant coffee in the rooms.

Simply lovely. I could smell them from across the street where I stood taking these few photos.
In this hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, the coffee that was served in the restaurant, before it closed weeks ago, was the barista-type coffee machines capable of frothing milk, making espresso and cappuccino.
We stopped at the curb on the outskirts of the village so I could take a photo of the flower market.  Instantly, we were approached by  “traffic cop” asking for money for parking and two others asking for money, unrelated to the traffic.
Although we could order the specialty coffees at breakfast, we’ve opted to make coffee/tea in the room. If we were to request specialty coffees, it would delay the time in receiving our breakfast, which we call and request each morning, based on when we’re up, showered, and dressed for the day. (We request dinner at the same time each evening, placing the same orders each evening by 6:00 pm for a 6:30 delivery).
We crossed this bridge on our way to Lovina where it took five days to renew our 30-day via.
Two or three times during the day, we each make coffee. With no snacks available, the ritual of preparing and drinking the coffee is a pleasant break from our otherwise relatively dull days.
While shopping at the Carrefour market, I couldn’t resist stopping to admire these colorful Dragon Fruit.
I read today that alcohol purchases for home consumption will be allowed in South Africa beginning on June 1st. This is great for all of our friends there. Oh, that I wish we could be there with our friends, even with social distancing, sipping a cup of coffee, or perhaps even a glass of wine.

Stay safe, dear readers!
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Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2019:

The entrance to the Connemara Heritage and History Centre located near Clifden. For more photos, please click here.

Trying to sleep when our minds won’t shut off…Fitbit stats from last night…

Watch this astounding situation we encountered in Kruger National Park, with horns of two buffalos entangled, another video the park asked to post on their site.

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

Today’s photos are from May 24, 2018, from Kruger National Park in South Africa.  Please click here for more details.


As we all know, sleep can be elusive for many in the best of times. Add the concerns over our own, our country’s and the world’s current situation falling into the mix of worries, and concerns making sleep elusive, short, and disruptive.


Wearing my Fitbit has given me a better perspective of how much I am able to sleep. Below are the stats from last night’s sleep, indicating overall that I had a reasonably good night’s sleep of 8 hours 45 minutes, but the red portion indicates how often I awoke.




It’s no wonder I may feel sleepy during the day today when I awoke so often during the night. I remember the middle of the night awakenings but hadn’t realized how much difficulty I had in falling asleep. 


As shown above, the four stages of sleep are “awake, REM, light, and deep.” It’s during the REM sleep that we dream and as indicated above 20% of my night’s sleep included REM during which time we dream. Last night, I dreamed about the lions; a male and a females with cubs that are currently in Marloth Park.

These two cape buffaloes, close to the dirt road horns with their horns stuck together made it easy for us to get these photos.

During usual, not Covid-19 times, I may have slept a total of 7 hours but awakened very few times. Also, in normal times, I’m often excited to get up and begin to enjoy the day. Here and now, the later I sleep the quicker the day flies by.


Most certainly, I’m not trying to “wish my life away” but instead shorten the periods of boredom often encountered during daylight hours. Thank goodness for my hourly walks. Paying attention to the time and when I have to walk again, helps the day pass more quickly.

However, what happens to most of us when we awaken during the night when we may be particularly stressed or worried? We put our brains into action and the added activity can make it more difficult to fall back to sleep.

The anguished look on the faces was disheartening.

As shown in the above chart I managed to go back to sleep after all those middle-of-the-night awakenings. I know it sounds silly, but I do count backward from 100 after ensuring I am in the most possible comfortable position. Then, breathing deeply and steadily, somehow I manage to fall back to sleep.


The trick for me is clearing my mind. Some people listen to music or sleep apps. But, I am trying to avoid using my phone for anything during the night unless I haven’t been able to go back to sleep after being awake for 30 minutes or more.


In that case, I may play a boring game of solitaire but avoid playing scrabble which, in its competitive nature in playing with other players online, can get my brain engaged to a point, I’ll never go back to sleep.

They tried desperately to become un-entangled to no avail.

One trick I’ve also found that helps, especially during this lockdown period, is not to “worry” about not sleeping. So what if I only sleep three hours? I can always nap the next day if necessary (which I rarely do). Worrying about it only exacerbates the problem. Worrying about anything exacerbates the problem.


It’s not easy to free our minds during these difficult times. But, restful sleep is as important for one’s health as is exercise, a good diet and a low level of stress. 


It has been during this time of Covid-19, locked away in a hotel in Mumbai, India that I have preoccupied myself with my health through healthy, although repetitive diet, losing a few pounds I’d gained from all the heart medications; hourly exercise; good sleep and above all attempting to keep my mind as free as possible from negative thoughts.

Another buffalo approached wondering what was going on. Check the above video as to what the other buffalo did to help. See the above video to see how the buffalo in the background saved the day.

It’s a big challenge which essentially has been made easier by our odd circumstances. There’s no access to snacks, alcoholic beverages and the meals served are consistent with the same macronutrients each day. Sure at times, I’m hungry and don’t feel like walking but I know all these efforts may serve me well in times to come.


Good sleep falls right in line with these other choices during this potentially stressful and often trying times.


May all of you get plenty of quality rest and maintain good health during this outrageous period in all of our lives.

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Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2019:

Chaiseal describes a “stone fort” in the Irish language, in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for details.

We don’t know…Unsettling times..

Tom shepherded sheep while I took this video in Devon, England.

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

Today’s photos are from May 23, 2014, from Connemara, Ireland.  Please click here for more details.
With our combined innate ability and concomitant enthusiasm during over seven years of world travel, there were few, if any, occasions for which we could say, “We don’t know” in relation to our future plans.

We were surprised by the excellent roads in Madeira.

Part of the joy of traveling the world, as is the case for embarking on any holiday/vacation, is the anticipation of what is yet to come. For the first time since October 2012 when we began our journey, we can only say, “We don’t know” what the future holds.


At the beginning of our travels, we’d often book locations, holiday homes, and cruises, as much as two years in advance. We discovered that by not having a home, these distant bookings provided us with a sense of comfort, knowing where we’d be in the near future.

More one-way double lane tunnels in our area.

Now, during times of Covid-19, we don’t know anything beyond the next 24-hours. Within a matter of a week, international airports could open both in India and another possible location. Within hours, we could be packed and out the door on our way to the airport.


No doubt, this is unsettling. But, our situation is not so unusual when workers throughout the world don’t know when and if they’ll return to work or when they’s be able to pay their bills and put food on the table. Although, speculation by their country’s leaders may provide a modicum of information leading to speculation as to when this will transpire.

What story would this abandoned house tell?

Does the world need to get moving again? The loss of life and well-being may far exceed the number of potential deaths from this virus. People here in India are out of work, starving while watching their modest way of life dissipating before their eyes.


But, as much as opinionated people like to espouse that the lockdown should end, the delay in doing so lies within this same premise, “We don’t know” what will happen if it ends. If “they” knew, more consistent and positive action would be taken.

Many of the tunnels on the island are one way to reduce the risks of accidents.

Blaming our leaders is pointless. “They” don’t know. Scientists don’t know, although many claim to have the answers, which vary from “open everything up” to “keep the lockdown in force for the next year or more.”


In many ways, lockdown is easy for us. We don’t have to go out to purchase food and supplies and expose ourselves to the potential carriers who aren’t wearing a mask or exhibiting symptoms.

Driving around Madeira was challenging, although the roads are newer and well maintained.

Our only exposure is to the staff here, which has been changing recently to take over for staff members who’ve been living here for months, like us. Their temperature is taken daily, but most carriers don’t have a temperature and silently expose those in their surroundings each time they talk, let alone cough or sneeze.


Have you ever been in a conversation in a sunlight-filled space to observe the droplets spewed from a person’s mouth while talking with passion? It’s no different than the dust we see under those same conditions.

The nutrient-rich hills of Madeira were being prepared for summer produce.

So, now as the days turn into nights, weeks into months, we still don’t know, nor can we realistically speculate on what the future holds for us, for you, for the world.

This hill is considerably steeper than it appears. When sitting at the top, one can’t see the upcoming road due to the steep drop off. 

As for us world travelers, still unwilling to give up the definition of who we are, we have no idea if and when we’ll be able to continue on. This virus has a life of its own and no one, at this point, on this planet, can definitively say anything more than, “I don’t know.”

The old stone tunnel in the area was used until the newer longer tunnel was built in recent years.

This uncertainty monopolizes many of our thoughts and feeds into our fears. We all pray for the time when we all can say, “I do know” and we can continue on with our lives, albeit in a newly defined state of existence with whatever those guidelines may be.


For now, may we all find some peace taking bite-sized pieces out of each day as we all strive to make it through this trying time.

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Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2019:

A gate to a private drive or boat launch in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more.