Day #222 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 8 year world travel anniversary…Happy Halloween!!!

This affectionate camel leaned on his owner’s shoulder when I approached.

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 then, one-year anniversary of world travel. See the link here.

Here we are, eight years from the date we first left Minnesota to begin our years-long journey to see the world. Most years, we’ve celebrated this anniversary with more enthusiasm than we ever celebrated our wedding anniversary or the day we met in 1991.

Camels walking along the beach along the Indian Ocean.

For us, this anniversary lumps the other anniversaries into one special day on Halloween, October 31, wherever we may be in the world at the time. That’s not to say we ignore our other anniversaries, but this one signifies our “freedom” in retirement, to see the world on our terms, visiting those places that most appeal to our senses, rather than some preconceived notion of where one “should” go while touring the world.

And we’ve continued to experience life on our terms with the exception of the past 7½ months when we’ve been in lockdown in Mumbai, India, waiting for international flights to resume. Hopefully, soon that will change and we’ll be able to be on our way once again. As for any potential celebration of today’s anniversary, life will continue as it has over the past months. There isn’t a lot more we can do.

Tom spotted them coming and alerted me to grab the camera. I ran like crazy to catch up with them to take these photos. The cost for a ride, up for negotiation, was Kenya Shillings $2000 each, US $23.56 for two. 

Sure, we could have dinner in the dining room, but the menu is still the same and we wouldn’t order anything different from what we’ve been eating. Tom, like me, is trying to lose the weight he’s gained and neither of us sees a reason to change for a day.

Nor are we interested in drinking alcohol when we haven’t had a drink in over seven months, which would most likely result in not feeling so well. When we move to our next location and have a chance to socialize, we can ease our way back into a happy hour event, here again on our own terms.

The pristine beach, the fine, clean sand of the Indian Ocean made for a pleasant walk on the beach after 4:00 pm yesterday, as the day cooled.

We are allowed to leave the hotel now, but with the streets packed with people not wearing masks and social distancing, and with India in the #2 spot in the world with the most COVID-19, behind the USA, we feel it’s too risky. Mumbai has the highest number of cases anywhere in the entire country. Also, the smog and the traffic are unbearable, typical for big cities in India.

I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. You can see my shadow as I’m taking the photo.

I must admit I experienced some angst going out to the two ATMs, two weeks ago today, to get cash to pay for the package we finally received after a three-month delay. Tom has a hard time understanding the Indian accent with his hearing loss from years on the railroad. I always handle all communications with the people of India who do possess a strong accent, some of whom speak little English.

So, today? Nothing special other than our commitment to each other, to waiting out the time international flights resume, to our dedication to improving our health through regular exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, and positive thoughts, and our unstoppable passion for continuing on in our travels, for hopefully, years to come.

Walking on the beach on the day of our one year travel anniversary in 2013. Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. Actually, I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf. Gosh, it would be nice to be tan now, getting regular doses of Vitamin D. Instead, we take supplements.

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate and good day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2019:

 With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, which was our five year anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from that date, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #220 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 3000th post!!!…

 

Within the first half-hour in our cottage, unpacked, dressed in our swimsuits, this monkey stopped by for a visit outside the window of our indoor living room. Most likely she/he, a possible Sykes Monkey knows there is a welcome fruit plate given to new guests. Giving food to the monkeys is a bad idea, reducing their interest in foraging for their own food, which is plentiful here. We had no trouble resisting the temptation.

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. For more from this date, please click here.

This was the beach in front of our cottage.

Yep, today’s post is #3000, after beginning to post on March 15, 2012! With our eight-year world travel anniversary upcoming on October 31, 2020, we knew this would transpire close to this year’s anniversary date. We’re only two days off.

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. Apparently, they have become used to humans at the resorts.

If years ago, I’d been asked to write a daily essay or letter generally focused around one topic: two senior citizens traveling the world without a home anywhere in the world, without storage, while living on a strict budget, I’d have emphatically stated that I couldn’t have done it.

This pool bar was open 24-hours a day, for the middle of the night drinkers.

But, here we are. We’re primed and ready for the next 3000 posts, providing our mutual good health, and that COVID-19 is sufficiently tempered at some point, enabling the freedom of world travel. As our regular readers know, we’re anxious to carry on but we are entirely subject to borders opening for US citizens and recent occupants of India, the two countries with the highest numbers of cases, a double whammy for us.]

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort, we were welcomed with flower leis and orange mango juice. (I politely declined, but Tom enjoyed his).

Now, as I continue to work on the edits on historical posts, working from the oldest to the newest, I’ve only made my way through the first two years, with six more to go. I’ve accepted that this is a long and painstaking process. But, as time marches on anyway, in our less than desirable situation, I’ll eventually get this task knocked off.

The sun is so close to the equator that it is scorching. We spent two hours by the pool with only 20 minutes in the sun. The remainder of the time it was comfortable in the padded lounge chairs under the shade of a giant umbrella.

As for today’s photos, we couldn’t help but smile over these shots taken on the first day of a three-day holiday/vacation within our holiday/vacation-type lifestyle to celebrate our first year on world travel. We had a fantastic experience as our photos will indicate over the next few days, as we repeat them through our anniversary date in two days.

The window to our view of the ocean. 

No, we won’t be doing much celebrating for this year, #8. We discussed ordering drinks, which are now available for room service. But as we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, neither of us is interested in drinking cocktails in our hotel room. We never have been. Also, it’s been seven months since we’ve each had a drink, it just wouldn’t feel like the right time to imbibe. We’ll save that for a time we can be with friends, hopefully, down the road in Marloth Park.

Our new living area with comfortable furniture and a TV!  With no indoor living room in our three-month holiday home, this was a treat!

However, seven years ago, we celebrated in a big way during our stay at the luxury resort, The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach Kenya. We’d arranged special pricing with the exquisite resort as we often do, based on our agreement to write detailed posts about the resort while there, providing them with a new source of marketing through our substantial worldwide readership. It was a win-win for all of us.

Tom, catching a few rays in the scorching sun. Not too much though. We’ve seldom lounged in the sun these past 5 months for our former “usual one hour” since arriving in Italy on June 16th due to the bees and flies. In Kenya, the only sunny areas are directly on the grass where the likelihood of a bee sting is greater. (Both of us are seriously allergic to hornets, certain bees, and wasps. A bite can be life-threatening which surely attributes to my skittishness of being around biting insects. More than once I’ve been rushed to an emergency room as a result of a sting. Tom’s only been stung once, but also had to go to a hospital for treatment. Thus, our excessive caution).

We were booked into one of the luxurious oceanfront thatched-roof huts and couldn’t have been more pleased with the accommodations, food, drinks, service, and scenery as shown in these photos. Please check back the next few days for more photos.

As for today, it’s business as usual. Of course, we check daily to see if flights and borders are open for travel for us, and at this time, it’s not looking good. It’s entirely possible we could be here for another six months. We’re trying hard to accept this reality.

Lounge, with WiFi and a reading area. The WiFi was high-speed at no charge which we found to be the best connection we’ve had in Kenya thus far. Thank you, The Sands at Nomad.

We hope you all are managing to accept the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 in your area wherever you may be and being diligent to avoid contracting the virus by making good choices each and every day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with post #3001!

Photo from one year ago today, October 29,2019:

Pumpkins and Halloween decor, decorate the grand staircase. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

An evening to remember…Our seventh world travel anniversary…Dinner and dancing…

View of the Intrepid Museum from the ship.

We’re thrilled to finally be able to upload photos.  As it turns out we’re still at the Port of New York when high winds prevented us from sailing away last night as planned.

As a result of the high winds, while we’ve been stuck at the port overnight, one of the pier gangway ramps severely jammed inside the ship and is being repaired/removed. We definitely won’t be able to sail away for several more hours.

Clouds over the skyline.

We aren’t sure as to how this will impact the few remaining ports of call on this cruise’s itinerary. The captain will let us know once we’re on our way again sometime this afternoon.


As long as we arrive in Fort Lauderdale in time for our flight to Minnesota on November 8th, we don’t have a worry in the world. We’re continuing to spend time engaging in lively conversations with other cruise passengers and of course, with one another.

The New York skyline on a cloudy day.

Last night, the celebration of our seventh world travel anniversary was very special. First, we had happy hour in the Sky Lounge on deck 14 with the same group of about 10 people with whom we’ve mingled each evening.  


At about 7:00 pm, we wandered down to the Emsemble Bar, chatting with another lovely couple.  At 8:00 pm we made our way to Murano, the specialty restaurant where we had a fantastic meal with impeccable service. We have several photos yet to share from the meal including finally, one of each of us.

An old Concord supersonic plane on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum as seen from our ships in port.

After dinner, we returned to the Sky Lounge for the 10:00 pm “silent disco.” I can’t dance as long or as enthusiastically as I had in days past but I have no doubt that in time my stamina will improve.  


We had a fabulous evening reminiscing over the past seven years, particularly regarding cruises since our first in January 2013 when we experienced our first foray through the Panama Canal.  At this point, we’ve been through the canal twice but who knows what the future holds?

Other aircraft on display at the Intrepid Museum includes a Blackbird spy plane.

This particular cruise is our third transatlantic and the crossing has been seamless with only a few short spurts of rough seas during the first six days at sea. 


The itinerary from here in New York to Boston, to Bermuda to Fort Lauderdale, should be relatively easy providing we don’t encounter any unanticipated storms along the way.

A peek of the Empire State Building.

Tomorrow, we’ll report as to what has transpired with the ship’s repairs and our ability to continue on the planned itinerary and hopefully be able to upload more photos.



Thanks to Louise and Pamela for filling us in on this architecturally unique building in New York:  VIA 57 West (marketed as VIΛ 57WEST) is the name of a residential building designed by the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). The pyramid shaped tower block or “tetrahedron” rises 467 ft (142 m) and 35 stories tall and is located on West 57th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, New York City. According to The New York Times, the name was chosen “because the southbound West Side Highway slopes down as drivers enter the city, right at the spot where the building is situated”, serving as an entrance to Manhattan “via 57th”.


Enjoy your Friday and weekend to come! 

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Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2018:
Lilies growing in the Crocodile River as seen in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Our 7 year travel anniversary is today!…It seems s long ago…

Due to WiFi issues while in port today, we are unable to upload any photos.  We will be back out to sea tomorrow and should have a better signal at that time.  Thanks for your patience.

Seven years.  It went quickly, more quickly than we ever imagined. When we started in 2012, we had no idea we’d still be traveling all these years later.  After selling everything we owned, which was a huge commitment to stay on this path for the long haul, this in itself presented a huge degree of dedication.


It would have been ridiculous to only stay gone a year or two and then try to rebuild an entirely new life living in a condo somewhere in or outside of the US.  The thought of having to buy furniture and household goods made us cringe then and still does today. 


Is it inevitable that we’ll eventually have to stop traveling? Sure. At some point, we’ll no longer have the health or stamina to continue on. At this point, we prefer not to have to think about that.


We realize now, that in the worst of circumstances, short of one of us eventually losing our “leasehold” on life, we won’t be able to haul one more heavy piece of luggage, sail on one more cruise ship, or fly on one more plane in a cramped seat. Those days will come.


But, now, after our big scare in February, we’re all the more determined than ever to continue on.  There is so much more, we’ve yet to explore.  In reality, we haven’t even put a dent in it with so much more ahead of us.


Today, we revel in this special day, our seventh anniversary of total freedom to live life on our terms, where, when and how we’d like based on the hopefulness of maintaining good health, a sense of well being and ongoing financial security.


Each of these conditions requires a degree of mindfulness and effort but we do so with the utmost enthusiasm and zest for life. We each easily possess these qualities as we make our way through each and every day.


And today, we’ll celebrate this seventh anniversary in style…spending a leisurely day on the ship, preferring not to get off the ship in New York when its pouring rain, cold and cloudy.


Had we made plans they may have been dashed due to the unexpected hours-long US immigration process. With happy-hour and tonight’s specialty dining reservation to celebrate our anniversary, we’d have had little time in the traffic-congested city to do much of anything.


Easily we avoid disembarking when we know full well, that eventually, we’ll travel the US when most certainly New York will be included in that itinerary.  Also, I’ve visited New York many times over the years and am not chomping at the bit to get out on this cloudy rainy day nor am I enthusiastic to tackle a tremendous amount of walking at this point.


Tomorrow, we’ll share photos from tonight’s activities and special dinner. 


Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2018:

An orange-breasted roller.  For more photos, please click here.

Less than 24 hours until we’re on US soil as we celebrate life after 7 years of world travel….

Bartenders performing tricks at the Ice Bar.

It’s hard for us to fathom the idea that tomorrow on Halloween, October 31st, we’ll be stepping foot on US soil for the first time in 2 years, 3 months, which coincidentally, will be the seven-year anniversary of the day we left Minnesota to begin our world travels.
For us, it’s a momentous day for many reasons including the harsh reality of the struggles we experienced in the past year with the necessity of my having the triple coronary bypass surgery in February and the subsequent slow recovery.


Many often asked us, “What will you do if something bad happens?”  

Passengers learning dance steps in the Centrum.

We have no home, no place to land, no belongings to settle into should such a situation arise. At the times of such questions, we’ve always replied, “We’ll figure it out.”


And…we did.  We figured it out and, here we are 8½ months later with me feeling well, albeit a little terrified at times when thinking about what transpired after being in the operating room four times in six weeks.


But, we must continue to face another harsh reality…that there’s no guaranty that I will be OK in the long run. Then again, no one has such a guaranty. Life doesn’t come with warranties and return policies.  


We “get what we get” and none of us are exempt from those unpredictable situations whereby our lives are turned upside down by a single event. For now, we survived and for this, we are more grateful than words can express here in a post written with the utmost of candor and vulnerability.

Dancer training passengers to perform dance steps.

We often surprise ourselves by how well we survived this trauma, how well we, as a couple, came out on the other side. Here we are on a cruise ship on its way back to the USA to see family and friends and to be reminded so close to this anniversary of how delicate life can be.


Playfully, we’re enjoying every moment of this cruise, often finding ourselves laughing, dancing, and reminiscing over how much we’ve gained, how much we’ve learned and how we’ve survived these fascinating, exciting and dangerous past seven years.


The future? Who knows? None of us knows. None of us can state emphatically that we’ll continue on any path we’ve chosen for the past years, months or even days. Life will always be uncertain.


Tomorrow, our ship arrives in New York City. At this point, we may or may not get off the ship. Halloween festivities will create more traffic, more tourists, more hustle and bustle that at this point neither of us are much interesting in exploring.

The participants are having a great time learning dance steps.

The calm and peacefulness we’re experiencing during this highly pleasurable cruise could turn on its head if we threw ourselves into that tumultuous environment right now.  


Plus, I’ve only been able to walk well for that past six weeks. I don’t know if I’m ready to tackle as long a walk as will be required if we get off the ship.  Our other option is a taxi to be potentially stuck in Manhattan traffic, a situation totally unappealing to either of us at this point.


We’ll see how it goes and what we feel like tomorrow. We have no one to please but ourselves and as we’ve discovered during the past seven years, we aren’t “required” to do anything that doesn’t appeal to us at any given time.


Please check back tomorrow for our anniversary celebrations as we share highlights of this exquisite journey that we hope we’ll be blessed to carry on.


Have a safe and festive Halloween!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2018:

Our friend Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by.  She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Our six-year world travel anniversary…Final day with friends…Bush braai in Kruger and game drive…

Lilies growing in the Crocodile River as seen in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Sunset in Kruger National Park.

Our friends Tom and Lois left this morning and are heading back to the US.  Its been an outstanding three weeks spent sharing the wonders of Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, the abundant wildlife and time spent with other friends as well.

Another scene of a gorgeous Kruger Park sunset.

We dined out a lot and still enjoyed some homecooked meals at the house.  We had several outstanding Crocodile River sightings while dining at restaurants overlooking the stunning river. 

We entered the beautifully appointed braai area, presented by Royal Safaris and Tours.

We embarked on several safaris in Kruger including a few self-drives and as shown in today, engaged in a fabulous bush braai dinner and two game drive with Royal Safaris and Tours who provided an excellent experience.

There was only eight of us and the tables were set up accordingly.

We went on another game drive where we were gifted to see what is called “The Ridiculous Nine” with Kerry from Kruger Pride Safaris who helped this magical event occur in a half day event.  

The fire was casting a glow into the boma area.

Please click our link here regarding that fantastic safari’s photos and subsequent posts for many days following with what the Ridiculous Nine was all about.  Please check our archives for continuing posts.

We hadn’t been able to acquire many great photos from Tuesday’s game drives due to the distance of many of the animals in the dark.  However, we had the glorious experience of seeing 15 lions, part of the Verhami Pride, toward the end of the evening.

There were four tables for two, set up in a crescent shape, pretty but not necessarily conclusive for conversation.

Also, we encountered four rhinos on the road in the dark with a youngster who appeared injured and was crying.  Our hearts were breaking to hear the suffering of this little rhino and our guide Corey, contacted the Kruger National Park rangers for assistance.  

The food was set-up buffet-style.

With the horrific number of rhinos being poached in Kruger each day, helping this baby was of vital importance.  We took no photos to avoid poachers knowing the location of the rhinos.

In all, we spotted four of the Big Five but due to darkness were unable to take any worthy photos.  None the less, it was a great experience for all of us, adding to the pleasure of sharing so much with Tom and Lois.

The long row of dining tables.

Last night, we celebrated our six-year travel anniversary at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for yet another spectacular evening at our favorite dining establishment in and around Marloth Park.  Simply stated, nothing can compare.

The dessert platter served after the main course.

Above all, the chatter among friends when Louise and Danie arrived to celebrate with us, as well as the friendship from owner Dawn and Leon we couldn’t have made us feel happier and more appreciative to be among these special people.


Now that Tom and Lois are gone, we’ll settle back into our ongoing lives of adventure, wildlife, and friendship, never hesitating to stop for a moment to bask in our profound sense of wonder and awe over this world we live in, here and now and hopefully, well into the future.

Saying goodbye, our final photo taken this morning with Tom and Lois!  It’s been a fabulous three weeks, we’ll always remember.

Tomorrow, we’ll post the lions photos, we’re anxious to share.


May your dreams be fulfilled.
                  __________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2017:

Tom by the pool at the hotel in Managua, Nicaragua.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Our six-year world travel anniversary…Final full day with friends…Bush braai in Kruger and game drive…

Giraffes in the bush.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An orange-breasted roller.

Today, October 31, 2018, is the six-year anniversary of our traveling the world.  Tonight, we’ll celebrate this meaningful day for us with Tom and Lois at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant on their final evening in South Africa.

The Crocodile River from inside Kruger National Park.

Most years, we’ve included lots of anniversary photos and points of interest in our travels as we celebrate this special day.  Today will be different since the past few days have been a series of fun activities we’d like to present as we wind down our time with our friends.

A mom and baby elephant.
On Monday afternoon we stopped by Rita and Gerhard’s holiday home which just happened to be the house we’d rented in December 2014 for our first experiences in Marloth Park.  
It was not only wonderful to see them both again (they are the couple that found Marloth Park through our website which they’d been reading for the past few years) and to walk down “memory lane” as we meandered through the house we’d remembered so well.
Elephant on the side of the dirt road.
From our experience on the veranda when the Mozambique Spitting Cobra dropped from the ceiling to land next to Tom’s feet, to the many great sightings we encountered sitting outside, day after day.  Great memories, we’ll always cherish as the memories we’ve created here in the Orange house.
Sunset last night in Kruger.
That evening we returned to Ngwenya for another night of wildlife viewing on the river and dinner off the menu.  The food wasn’t as good as Thursday’s buffet but once Tom and Lois leave we’ll surely dine there again on Thursdays.  
Another wonderful elephant sighting with one tusk missing.
The wildlife sightings were at a minimum that evening but we enhanced our desire to spot wildlife by spending considerable time at “Two Trees” seeing more lions, elephants, waterbucks and more.
A bateleur vulture against the sky at sunset.
Today, we had extraordinary sightings of a female lion kill with photos we’re anxious to share in tomorrow’s post.   But, today’s photos are from Tuesday’s late afternoon game drive in Kruger National Park and then a game drive in the dark after the fantastic meal in the bush.
We were hosted by an excellent company, Royal Safaris, which may be found at this link.  They offer a wide array of safari options easily suitable for more tourists who desire the full Kruger National Park adventure.
Another stunning view of the Crocodile River at dusk.
Also, this company provides many other tour options tourists typically seek when they visit South Africa such as the Panorama Route, the Hoedspruit Day Tour, birding safaris, full day safaris, and the spectacular bush braai dinners in the wild in Kruger National Park.
A hyena we spotted in the dark in Kruger.

Our 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) pickup worked well for us and off we went, cameras, repellent, and enthusiasm in hand, prepared for some exciting adventures.  Unfortunately, it was a very hot afternoon with temps in high 30C’s (mid 90F’s) and most animals remained undercover during the heat of the afternoon sun.


Subsequently, we saw very little prior to the time of the bush braai dinner.  After the scrumptious beautifully prepared and presented dinner, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post along with our lion photos, we were able to see more wildlife in the dark.  Details will follow.
An adorable bush hare.
In a few hours, we’ll be off to Jabula for the evening for what surely will be another special anniversary and a celebration of this special time we spent with friends Tom and Lois.

May your day and evening be filled with many wonders.  Back at you soon!
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Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2017:

 October 31, 2017, was our five year anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica.  For more anniversary photos, please click here.

Reasonable cost of living in South Africa…Could we have forgotten our upcoming wedding anniversary?…

This female bushbuck flipped into the air after something bit her!

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”


A grey heron in Kruger National Park.

We arrived at Jabula for dinner last night at 6:00 pm.  We’d hoped to be able to mingle with other customers who may be sitting at the inviting bar in the restaurant.

With only one other patron in the restaurant, we found ourselves engaged in pleasant conversation with Lyn, a friend of owners Dawn and Leon, who recently started working in the popular local establishment.

This time, little Ms. Bushbuck had Helmeted Guinea Fowl join her for the visit.  They also like the pellets but have to break them up to fit in their beaks.

It’s the low season now in Marloth Park but soon when Spring Break begins many tourists will arrive for one or two week holidays.  Few stay as long as us. At that point, the few restaurants in MP will be busier.  But, last night’s quiet experience at Jabula on a Saturday night was an isolated case.  

There was only one other couple dining while we dined at around 7:30.  We moved from the bar to sit outside on the veranda enjoying another delicious meal.  Tom ordered the mixed grill with chips (fries) while I had my usual peri-peri chicken livers and a Greek salad.

Tossing pellets to three females kudus who stopped by.

Our total bill was ZAR 478 (US $40.09) which included tax and tip.  Instead of ordering a glass of wine, I accidentally ordered a full bottle of Pinot Grigio while Tom had a few bottles of Castle beer. 

Knowing I’d never drink an entire bottle of wine I ended up taking half of it “home” which I’ll finish tonight when our friends Lynne and Mick come for dinner.  Where in the world can one go out to dinner, order an entire bottle of wine and several bottles of beer, order meals and, tender a tip for this amount?  

Female kudu eating pellets our of my hand.  They’re very gentle but any sudden movements send them on their way.

We decided to return to Africa for a few reasons; one, primarily to fulfill my dream of returning to Marloth Park, my favorite place in the world, and two, to “lick our wounds” after the expensive Antarctica cruise.  Our mission is fully being realized. 

The cost of living here is more reasonable than anywhere we’ve lived in the world.  By the time we leave Africa next March, we’ll have recovered the entire cost of the Antarctica cruise by spending so much less for our monthly expenses.

She stopped eating from my hand and decided to go after the container!

There will be the added expenses of the tours we’re planning in the next few months when we’ll visit a few other countries on the continent, after which we’ll return to Marloth on each occasion.

Last night, as we chatted in the bar we remembered that our wedding anniversary is coming up on March 7th. We’ve been having such fun lately, we could easily have forgotten the anniversary!  It’s ironic that this anniversary is less important than the October 31st anniversary we celebrate with gusto each year. 

We adore this large full-grown male who stops by every few days.  He likes eating the pellets off the edge of the veranda which prevents him from having to bend down with his heavy “rack.”

It was on that date in 2012, that we began our journey…a day of liberation from “stuff” and “work” and a day to celebrate our “stepping outside the box” to live our retirement years to the fullest.  But, this coming Wednesday, March 7th, we will celebrate our wedding anniversary with plans we made this morning and will share on Thursday with photos.

Having placed less emphasis on our wedding anniversary doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not important to us.  All of our readers know we are a very happy couple and love every moment we spend together.  But, the full realization of the depth, magnitude, and meaning of our relationship didn’t fully come to fruition until we began to travel the world.

When he finishes the pellets we put down, he stares at us for more.  It’s impossible to resist his request.  He’s so handsome.

It’s been through this process during the past 5 1/3  years that we’ve come to fully appreciate how compatible and loving we are as a couple.  In the hustle and bustle of our past lives, loaded with responsibility and stress, it was easy to put aside our needs as a couple. 

In this magical life, sharing every morsel of our day to day lives, our level of admiration and appreciation for one another has catapulted to a level we never dreamed possible.  So, yes, we will celebrate on March 7th, as we hope and pray for many more such years to come.

Tom, coming back up the steps after he lay down a raw egg for the mongooses.

Be well.  Be happy. 

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Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2017:

We had a great time with new friends, Christina and Harold, with whom we enjoyed dinner in their Penthouse Suite the prior night.  For more details, please click here.

An anniversary night where we met 26 years ago…Post #1800 today!

 
Our waiter took this photo of us on our 26th anniversary of the day we met at this same location, now a different restaurant.

Dining out every night over the past 34 nights, with the exception of a few occasions when we’ve dined at the homes of friends or family, has lost its novelty.  No longer do we peruse the menu with renewed interest anticipating something new and wonderful.

When we entered Poor Richard’s we were reminded of the memorable date of when we met.

With my restricted way of eating and the availability of restaurant menus online, it’s been easy to determine which establishments may work for me and which do not.  Also, since I don’t consume foods cooked in vegetable oils (only butter, quality olive oil or coconut oil), there are few menu items I’d consider ordering.

The easiest and least risky meals for me are salads containing hard-boiled eggs, bacon, fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato with broiled chicken or salmon.  This generally may be described as a Cobb Salad or variation thereof.

Tom was all smiles when he perused the menu.

With the exception of amazing fall-off-the-bone ribs we ordered (without sauce) at Grizzly’s the other night, I’ve only ordered the above type salads over these past many meals. 

Tom, on the other hand, has indulged in a whatever-he-wants mentality, knowing that in a little over a month, I’ll be cooking our meals again which won’t include fries and other starches, burgers in a bun and other bread products, etc. 

Tom’s puff pastry-topped chicken potpie and garlic mashed potatoes.

He’s totally avoided all desserts and sweets during this period including the home baked chocolate chip cookies available in the hotel’s lobby throughout the day and evening.

Eating only a low carb breakfast (no pancakes, waffles, cold cereals, or toast) and no lunch or snacks between breakfast and dinner (or after dinner), he hasn’t gained an ounce while here consuming some of this less-than-desirable food.  I’ve stayed mum about what he orders (other than perhaps drooling a little when I see what’s on his plate at dinner time).

My buffalo seasoned chicken chopped salad with bacon, avocado, and blue cheese.

Last night was a perfect example of my drooling.  He ordered a puff pastry-topped chicken pot pie with a side a garlic mashed potatoes (skins included). I ordered another variation of a Cobb Salad based on the menu offerings at Poor Richard’s Commonhouse in Bloomington, the location of our anniversary dinner as explained in yesterday’s post.  Please click here if you missed that post.

To our local readers: This is not a bad spot for a reasonably priced and delicious meal.

Tom thoroughly enjoyed his pot pie while I actually found the salad to be one step above some of the others I’ve tried since we arrived on May 26th.  Of course, the evening wasn’t so much about the food as it was the experience, dining in the same spot where we met 26 years ago, although the former establishment had been replaced twice; from the former Stonewings to Major’s, followed by the current Poor Richard’s.

We’d anticipated feeling somewhat nostalgic about the location but unfortunately, it had changed so much in the past 26 yeas we didn’t see any of the old Stonewings in its shape or design.  Apparently, considerable remodeling had transpired over the years making it an entirely new place.

We met in 1991 at this geographical location, not necessarily this same restaurant.

Instead, we giggled over the people we were 26 years ago, chatted about how our lives have changed so much, our time here in Minnesota and upcoming in Nevada and…the continuation of our travels in a mere 32 days when we fly to Costa Rica.

We both want to thanks our reader/friends, our Facebook friends and our family for all the well wishes, email messages and comments posted on yesterday’s post (click here to see).  Tom’s photo was quite a hit with the “girls” and as he’s continued to mature over the years, he’s still quite a hit with me. 

The sign on the outside of the unrecognizable building.

It’s funny how when one is in love, they never mind the obvious aging process and changes that evolve over the years.  In our minds, we’re still the 26-years-younger people we were back then with some added wisdom and “seasoning.” 

Happy day to all!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2016:

Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore with its ornate carvings.  For more, please click here

Today is our 26th anniversary of the date we met…An unusual plan to celebrate tonight…

This was Tom around the time we met in 1991.  (Photo of the old photo).

Tom and I met 26 years ago tonight at a popular nightclub and dance bar in Bloomington, Minnesota. Stonewings was known for being a place to meet the more mature types.  I was 43 years old and Tom was 38. 

I’d been on a blind date with another guy and ditched him when everything about him revolved around lies he told me to get me to go out with him.  It didn’t take long for me to run as fast as I could and call a girlfriend to join me for some “fun” at Stonewings.

Walking into the busy nightclub, I took a seat while my friend went to the restaurant next door to have a bite to eat.  No more than a few minutes after I ordered a drink, I spotted him…Tom, that is. 

He was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt with a button down collar with tight black jeans.  He didn’t look like my usual “corporate type” wearing a Hugo Boss suit, a 100% pinpoint cotton long sleeve dress shirt, a subtle Armani tie, a pair of Cole Haan shoes and socks with dots.  Nope, he wasn’t my type.

His shock of dark hair, his bright white toothy smile, and his crystal blue eyes had me smitten in minutes. Another man approached me announcing “Hi, my name is rockin’ rollin’ Bob and I’m the social director here tonight.  I’d like to know who you’d like to dance with.”

Jess and Tom in 1991.

I paused contemplating the peculiar announcement for only seconds.  I pointed at Tom and said, “Him!”  Bob escorted me to Tom’s table, introduced me and left.  In moments, we were engaged in lively conversation.  Within 30 minutes, we were on the dance floor unable to wipe the smiles off our faces. 

By the end of the night, the sparks were flying.  At the end of the evening when the bar was closing he escorted me to my car, asked for a kiss which I declined and asked me to see him the next night.  I agreed but in an unlikely moment of pure trust, I invited him to my lake home for dinner.

We had nothing in common.  He was a “blue collar” railroad worker and I was a “white collar” business owner.  We lived in different worlds, mingled with different kinds of people and had nothing in common.  He liked rock music.  I liked disco.  He was from a large family.  I was not.

He grew up in the hood and spoke slang language.  My friends joked that I was the queen of proper diction and elocution.  He purchased his Wrangler or Levi jeans at Fleet Farm.  I wore designer jeans from Neiman Marcus. 

When I looked deep into his ocean blue eyes, I knew this would never last nor did I want it to.  I thought, “This guy will be fun for the summer.”  The following night when he drove up to my house on the peninsula with its lush green manicured lawn, he thought (so he says), “We have nothing in common and soon I’ll be out of here in no time and head back to Stonewings.”

See…he does “clean up” nicely wearing a tuxedo. 

But, it didn’t happen that way. He hated the food I’d made and the drink I served: blackened swordfish, couscous, and grilled baby asparagus with a crusty baguette and bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. He somehow managed to eat the food and drink the wine. 

The conversation flowed with ease.  We laughed, we talked, and we shared personal stories not necessarily befitting a “first date.”  When he told me he’d taken his mother, who was going blind, to see the Pope in Italy and visit Ireland using his entire one month of a year’s vacation, I truly believe it was a stepping stone to my falling in love.  Who does that?  This must be one special kind of guy.

This sexy bad boy was much deeper than I’d expected and I let my guard down and let him into my world.  It wasn’t an easy four years until we were married in 1995.  He had to rid himself of his bad boy ways but somehow we managed to stick together and grew more and more in love over time as we both grew and changed.

We met 26 years ago tonight and here we are, living a dream we never knew either of us had ever imagined.  Here we are, more in love than ever, sharing a commonality of interests that often baffles us.  How did we get here?

But, rather than question it, we’ve blended our ways.  He still doesn’t like blackened fish or red wine and I don’t eat (and never have) Planter’s cheeseballs or McDonald’s burgers and fries. I’ve been to parties in garages and bowling alleys and he’s worn black tie to social events. 

He knows what fork to use at a formal dinner table and I can snip a nightcrawler (worm) with my long fingernails and neatly place it on a hook with nary a comment or concern for the mud under my nails.  We’ve blended well.

In 33 days we’ll be back “out into the world” continuing on our world journey with a powerful sense of joy and contentment, knowing wherever we go, whatever we do, we’re truly a match “made in heaven.”

Tonight, we’re dining where Stonewings used to be which is now a casual bar named “Poor Richards.”  It won’t be quite the same, but we’ll be content and we’ll celebrate this amazing life we share together.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2016:

We’d expected the Vietnam Embassy to be guarded and much larger.  As often is the case, many embassies are converted larger homes.  We’d specifically gone to Singapore in order to get three much-needed visas at various embassies, visas we’d need over the two months we were spending in Southeast Asia.  For more details, please click here.