Day #276 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…OK, here goes…17 days and counting!!!…A frustrating Christmas Day…

This was our favorite photo of the day, a giant Billy Goat with quite the beard and defined facial markings.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while staying in Penguin, Tasmania, Australia. For more details and photos, please click here.

Yep, we’ve started the countdown until we leave India. In 17 days, on January 12, 2021, we’ll hopefully be on our way. The only scenario that could prevent us from going to South Africa, as planned, will be that President Cyril Ramphosa decides to close the borders once again due to the new strain of Covid-19.

On a drive through the countryside in Penguin, Tasmania, the ocean can be seen in the distance.

From this site, the following was posted:

“Scientists and officials have warned the country’s 56 million people that the new variant, referred to as 501.V2, carries a heavier viral load and appears to be more prevalent among the young. “It is still very early, but at this stage, the preliminary data suggest the virus that is now dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave,” Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairman of the government’s ministerial advisory committee (MAC), said.”

Over the next few weeks, Cyril will announce any changes necessary regarding this update. We continue to hold our breath, awaiting any news, striving to stay upbeat and hopeful. At this point, it’s been incredibly challenging to do so. Christmas Day was undoubtedly a memorable day in this hotel, but not in a good way.

Cattle are curious when humans pass by.

I’d considered not mentioning what transpired yesterday in an attempt to remain upbeat. But, after what happened and our goals of being “transparent” in our experiences, good and bad, we decided we’d share our highly disappointing Christmas Day.

Many of our readers have kindly written to us, espousing our determined attitude and resilience in bearing the brunt of this situation. We appreciate all those thoughtful comments. But, we are no different than many of you when managing a challenging situation. We “buckle up” and make the best of it. Thankfully, our loving relationship with one another and generally good demeanor have been instrumental in getting us through this.

Cute countryside signs.

We’ve often reminded ourselves how fortunate we’ve been that we are staying safe from the virus and have comfortable surroundings. However, lacking in space, and no matter what, we’ve been able to remain calm and composed. This acceptance served us well until yesterday, Christmas Day.

The morning started OK. Then, as the day continued, we encountered several guests in the corridors, talking loudly to one another, spewing spittle as they spoke, talking on cell phones, pacing in the halls, not wearing masks. Regardless of them being on the phone or in conversation, we kindly asked them to put on a show or return to their rooms.

Cattle on a hill.

Our comments were of no avail. We stayed back from them, by no less than five meters, 16 feet in each case, except once when I was carefully rounding a corner, and three unmasked individuals ran right into me. I couldn’t help but raise my voice, “You must wear a mask in the hotel!” They ignored me. I bolted in the other direction.

This scenario continued throughout the day. I finally gave up and discontinued my last walk for the day. Twice, I notified the front desk to hear once again their apologies and statements that have told every guest to wear a mask in all public areas. The guests don’t care for their well-being or care to follow the hotel’s government-mandated requirements,

Once back in our room, all was fine for the next few hours. Later on, as we settled in, watching the new Netflix period series, Bridgerton, a delightful bit of mindless drivel, we were conscientious of excessive noises spewing from the corridors. People were yelling and talking loudly while outside of their rooms. Why not go into the room and make noise? Since it was daytime, and we weren’t leaving our room, we didn’t make a fuss.

Highland Breed cattle. See this link for details on this breed.

By 9:00, we settled in bed, continuing to watch another episode of the series. We were well aware that the door to the suite next to us was banging every minute or so during this time. Each time someone on the floor opened or closed a door, that partially opened door slammed so loud it startled us each time. Whoever was in that room engaged the deadbolt, leaving the door ajar. The air pressure in the hallway causes this.

No less than 20 times in the past months, we had reported this issue to the housekeeping manager when the staff was cleaning the large suite, going in and out, not wanting to use their keys to enter each time. All they had to do was push the door open with the deadbolt engaged with the door ajar but not locked. Each time we complained, within a half-hour, someone came and locked the door properly.

At times, this happened at night when we were trying to sleep. On occasions, guests were leaving the door in this state when they snuck into the stairwell to smoke (not allowed) or go back and forth between rooms where their friends or family members were located. This happened several times after 1:00 or 2:00 am, and as late as 4:30 am, at which point, we had to call the front desk, again complaining.

This annoyed male approached the fence when we stopped for photos.

During the next few hours, people were going in and out of that room, slamming the door each time and often leaving the deadbolt engaged for the big jolt in our room. We must have fallen asleep five or six times to be startled awake after we’d reported this.

As it turned out, the staff was having a party in that suite next door, unbeknownst to management, since we were told (after calling again) that no guests had booked that room. After reporting it a short time later, the door banging finally stopped, and the noise died down, but not entirely.

The only time a guest should be awakened during the night in a hotel would be in the event of a fire or other type such an emergency. But, the worst of it was yet to come when at 11:30 pm, during one of those times we were attempting to doze off, our doorbell rang. Tom bolted out of bed, opened the door with the chain engaged, and handed a letter stating the restaurant could only service 50% occupancy at any given time due to Covid-19. Tom lost it.

Although this one mooed at us, they didn’t bother to get up.

I won’t write what he said. But the question remains in our minds today, why didn’t he place the letter under the door (it fits) or on the little table outside of our room?

Finally, at around 1:00 am, when I was falling asleep, I heard the dreadful sound of a phone vibrating in the room next door, loudly and repeatedly every 20 minutes throughout the night. The head of the beds in our room and the room next door abut one another, and once again, whoever was in that room, didn’t turn off their “notifications.”  They’d have to be passed out not to hear the noise!

This morning, my FitBit indicated I’d slept one hour and 56 minutes. I’m exhausted. This morning, after speaking to my son Greg’s family in Minnesota, I decided to see how I’d do walking the corridors in my current state. No way! I did 1.5 miles, 2.4 km, and gave up, dragging too much to continue through the day.

The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016.

However, during the 1.5 miles, I saw no less than six guests without masks, with as many wearing masks, and heard a woman “coughing up a lung.” No way was it safe to walk the corridors today. I gave up.

Tom is watching football on his laptop using his earbuds. I’ll spend the remainder of the day working on the corrections on our site with Nat Geo Wild on the TV in the background. It’s comforting to see wildlife in Africa and other parts of the world, so hopeful that soon we’ll be face to face. So hopeful, in 17 days.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2019:

During the cocktail hour before dinner on Christmas Day in 2018, Tom and Kathy posted last year on this date. For more, please click here.

Day #249 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A great memory from 2016…A good Thanksgiving after all…

It had been a long time since I’d done a seminar, but in my career in my old life, I had done many.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while sailing on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas on the circumnavigation of the Australian continent when we were asked to do two seminars about our world travels. For more on that story, please click here.

Four years ago, we were asked to conduct a seminar on world travel on a cruise ship? We did the first seminar on this date in 2016 and a few days later did a second seminar when asked by the ship activity director to do another when there were many requests from passengers who’d missed it.

Tom chimed in on several occasions and did a fabulous job. Fluffy hair, that day! I love him anyway!

Of course, we were pleased and flattered. We both enjoyed meeting all the people that flocked around us for the remainder of the cruise, asking question after question. We are so grateful for every one of you! I have no doubt many of those participants are still following us now, four years later.

After we’d done the seminars, we spent some time inquiring about the possibility of conducting such workshops on future cruises, but the compensation offered was not worth it to us. Many speakers on cruises think they are getting quite a perk to speak on their favorite topic and return repeatedly.

Note our talk scheduled at 11:15 am on the ship activities program.

For us, it wasn’t a worthwhile undertaking. The cruise line pays only for transportation to a specific port of call and the time spent on the ship. Once the “talks” are completed, the speaker(s) are dropped off at the next port of call to “fly away.” This didn’t work for us at all. It simply wasn’t worth it.

Of course, all the days and nights socializing with many Australians and a handful of Americans, including two couples with whom we spent most “happy hours” and many dinners. However, we thoroughly enjoyed those two experiences on that 33-night cruise. It was a fantastic cruise that we’ll never forget, among others.

I love the look on Tom’s face in this shot.

Now, with COVID-19 raging worldwide, the prospects of cruising again anytime soon are limited. A few days ago, we posted a story about enthusiastic cruise passengers volunteering for “test” cruises to see how a cruise line will handle COVID-19 breakouts during a cruise. Here is the link to that post, entitled “Ten reasons to avoid test cruises.”

As for yesterday’s Thanksgiving, we made it through with ease and nary a moment of disappointment. We heard from so many family members, friends, and readers. It proved to be a busy day while we responded to everyone. We couldn’t have felt more loved with the many good wishes and concern for our well-being during our peculiar situation.

Tom managed the video presentation while I talked. We were (we are) a good team.

Did we miss the Thanksgiving dinner? Not at all. I had my usual chicken dinner (tonight is salmon night), and Tom had only breakfast and some bananas he’d saved for later. We now refer to his daily bananas as “banana cream pie,” making our mouths water at the prospect of any pie at this point. However, I’ve only eaten low-carb/gluten-free pies in the past many years.

Now, with my drastically reduced carb regime and my lowest morning fasting blood sugar reading this morning of 82 mg/dl, 4.6 mmol/L, in 20 years, I continue to be ecstatic over my recent health improvements. For the first time in 20 years, this morning, I didn’t take any blood pressure medication. Of course, if it rises over time, I will revert to small doses of the drug to keep it in check. Time will tell. In the interim, I will proceed with the utmost caution, checking it several times a day.

There were over 100 people in attendance at our first seminar, with many more at the second, a few days later.

Subsequently, in the future, I doubt I will be eating any of those “low carb” modified desserts that may raise blood sugar/blood pressure as I continue to strive to maintain these good numbers well into the future. Eliminating such sweet treats may add many good years to my life.

Today? Another low-key day. In the evenings, we’ve been watching a fantastic show with many seasons and episodes, streaming on Hulu, ‘This is Us.” In the past, we’d considered streaming this popular show but never got to it until now. If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it. Any recommendations you may have for Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, please send them our way!

Happy day to all, and again, thank you for all the warm and heartfelt wishes over the holiday!

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2019:

About 8 inches of snow fell in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, staying with friends Karen and Rich. For more photos, please click here.

Day #113 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Health Insurance during lockdown…

We loved seeing this flower growing in our yard in Campanario, Madeira, as it broke free from its pod.

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 14, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more details.

At the end of this month, our world travel health insurance policy expires. Generally, we purchase a 90-day policy from United Healthcare Global Safe Trip from this online site.

Before COVID-19, it was a breeze to choose our preferred policy and purchase it online, taking less than 10-minutes to complete. The documents arrive shortly after that, leaving us with 90 additional days of coverage.

Colorful steps, located at an elementary school in Campanario.

At the time, purchasing a year-long policy wasn’t possible when the requirement stated we had to return to the US every 90-days. However, the cost of the 90-day policy was no higher in shorter increments than an annual policy. It simply meant we’d have to visit the company’s site, enter some general information and pay online.

Fortunately, my previous pre-existing condition hasn’t been an issue, providing I haven’t had any recent additional treatment or significant medication changes within the prior 90-days. 

This house appeared to be unfinished, as frequently observed everywhere we’ve traveled.

As of this date, we have not made a single claim since we began purchasing these two individual policies (one for each of us) with this reliable company. Years ago, we had United Healthcare as our insurance provider for several years. All was handled well without incident, giving us confidence in using them for our world travel policy.

The only drawback to the policy is the fact that we are not covered when visiting the USA. Yes, it’s possible to purchase an add-on for short visits to the US, but the cost was and continues to be prohibitive. 

A stairway to a cave.

Thus, when we visit the US, we only have Medicare, Part A. We’re not willing to pay the additional INR 90426, US $1200, a month in the future for Part B plus supplements. 

If and when the time comes that we’ll return to the US to live, when we cannot continue to travel, we’ll sign up for full Medicare insurance and accompanying supplements. Once one commits to the complete Medicare package, you’re locked in for life. 

We haven’t wanted the burden of this significant expense while traveling the world, although some new supplemental insurance provides some coverage while traveling. Instead, we pay INR 31122, US $413 a month for both of us combined with an INR 15071, US $200 deductible. Additional features may be found online. 

We didn’t see any reason to enter this cave.

Currently, due to COVID-19, United Healthcare Safe Trip website doesn’t allow purchasing without calling the company or sending an email requesting information. They are quick to respond.

With the current policy, which we’d renewed while in India in April, expiring on July 28th, I was a little concerned that COVID-19 and the lack of international travel may mean they no longer offer this type of policy. A few days ago, I sent an email requesting we renew the policy for the next 180 days to see how they’d respond.

Most likely, kids in the area played in these caves over the years.

This morning I received an email from the company authorizing the new 180-day period, asking if they could charge our credit card on file. I couldn’t respond quickly enough, thrilled they’d provide us with an extended period. 

With over 2,000,000 US citizens losing their health insurance since the onset of COVID-19, for a variety of reasons, we didn’t want to take a chance and wait another day to find out if they’d renew us.

The pods growing in the garden finally bloomed, as shown in the above main photos.

During our last visit to the US from November 8, 2019, to January 30, 2020, (when we first arrived in India), I had a few medical appointments, all of which we paid out of pocket; one a visit to a cardiologist for a check-up and another to an urgent care facility when we both had an outrageous cough and flu that wouldn’t go away. 

Had that cough and fever occurred a month later, we may have thought it was COVID-19 when we both coughed for over six weeks. After sailing on a 15-night cruise from the UK to the US, we’ve often wondered if it was arriving on November 8th.

Gina, our property manager, explained that the number of cloudy days we’d experienced while there was unusual. 

Hopefully, we’ll continue to be able to avoid making claims on the policy. After our previous insurance company failed to pay for my emergency heart surgery in South Africa, which included four surgeries and follow-up, all of which we paid out of pocket, we now feel at ease working with a reliable company.

That’s it for today, folks! Stay safe and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2019:

Cow grazing by the fence along our driveway in Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more details.

Day #112 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Adding comfort for the end of days for a loved one…Seashells from a beach in Australia…

The Aztec-type lines in this shell are unique, found on a beach in Australia five years ago.

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 13, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.
Had we been anywhere else in the world in a COVID-19 free world, I have no doubt I would have flown back to the US for a few weeks to say goodbye to my dear sister Susan in person.
This shell had a rough exterior.

When I last saw her in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2019, and we hugged goodbye on the last of my many visits, we both cried when she said, “This will be the last time we see each other.” 

I shook my head, insisting, “No, no, no! We’ll see each other again! We’ll be back to visit again before you know it.” In the back of my mind, I knew I could be so wrong. 

This shell appeared to have an eye looking at us.

And now, as her time nears, I almost wish I would have accepted that reality at that time, when now, during these impossible circumstances, I know I’ll never see her again. Thankfully, we’ve both already expressed our love for one another, even going as far as expressing all the reasons we’ve loved each other throughout our lives.

Like most siblings, we had occasional ups and downs, during childhood but as adults, we became closer, relying on one another as the years passed.

This shell was an exciting find.

She lived a tumultuous life consisting of notable success while receiving considerable respect for her outstanding business acumen. And then, over the past 15 years or so, her health tumbled out of control with chronic conditions, leaving her a near invalid, lying in bed 24 hours a day, with countless situations, ingesting multitudes of prescribed medications with little to no hope of returning to a productive, meaningful way of life.

There’s never been a time we didn’t stay in close touch. Since we began our travels in 2012, I called her at least once a week, if not more, and we engaged in thought-provoking conversations often interspersed with outrageous laughter leaving us in tears. 

This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.

As her health and memory deteriorated in the past months, our conversations became short when she had little strength to engage in lively banter. All I could do was tell her I loved her and let her know I was thinking about her every day.

As the dementia worsened, I would often remind her we were in lockdown in India to understand why I was not at her side. She seems to grasp this concept and sounds content to hear my voice.

An intriguing three shells.

This past week, my sister Julie and Susan’s daughter Kely, both living in California, were tested for COVID-19 and drove to Las Vegas, staying in a nearby hotel, well-gloved and masked, and visited her each day. The nursing/hospice facility where she is living only has 10 patients and they haven’t had a single case of the virus.

Under these particular circumstances, with proof of their health, Julie and Kely were allowed to visit Susan all day over eight days, creating a familiar environment to provide Susan with some comfort. 

The variance in color makes the shells particularly interesting to find.

They visited her storage facility finding pictures, wall hangings, and treasured items. They proceeded to fill the walls of her private room with a lifetime of memorabilia, all of which made the sterile, single space feel more like a home than a hospital room.

They helped her in preparing the necessary “end of life” documents, including medical directives, posted on the wall to ensure the staff would know exactly what to do “when the time comes.”

This was one of the more giant shells we discovered.

My phone number is posted in large letters on the wall, stating that I am her “middle of the night contact” should she awaken and need to talk or feel frightened. She seemed aware of this when I spoke to her this morning. With the time difference here, her middle of the night would be our middle of the day. 

Knowing she can call during the night when she’s scared or wants to hear a familiar voice gives her great comfort. During the daylight hours (while we’re sleeping), she can call Julie and Kely. We’ve got it covered around the clock. 

These three were similar. The next day, we returned all the shells to the beach where we found them.

This isn’t easy for any of us with loved ones in poor health, with COVID-19, in nursing homes, those requiring surgery and tests in hospitals or even, dealing with the ravages of the virus in lockdown in their own homes. 

The issues of senior/disability care have become all the more pronounced during these challenging times. And yet, our emotions and love remain firmly in place to ease our loved ones through these sorrowful phases of life.

May you and your loved ones find peace, comfort, and love together now and always.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2019:

“Do you have any carrots?” asks this Connemara Pony in Ireland one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Day #111 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Mask or no mask???…More photos from Australia…

Nothing was as beautiful as a sunny day at the beach in Queensland, Australia, five years ago today. 

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 12, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.
As much as I try to avoid posting about COVID-19, it’s become challenging to skirt around the issue when it has such a tremendous impact on our current and future lives of world travel.
A substantial contemporary house near the beach.

A while back, I polled our readers, and the majority (by a slim margin) stated they didn’t want to see controversial posts, conspiracy theories, or politically inspired posts regarding COVID-19. We have stayed true to our promise to avoid these types of topics. 

In the process, even Tom and I have gone away from even discussing many of these varying positions to avoid becoming more stressed and agitated. This has been a wise decision.

Generally speaking, Tom and I agree on most aspects of self-protection from the virus. However, our opinions may vary on wearing face masks, which I adhere to with determination and diligence. He has readily embraced the hotel’s policy that face masks are to be worn at all times when out of our room. His only resistance is the fact that his glasses become fogged. 

Contemporary house in Holloways Beach.

He’ll undoubtedly comply with the airline and airport policies when we finally have the opportunity to fly away. I do not doubt that many couples may not agree on wearing face masks, although most agree that social distancing and vigorous hand washing are imperative, including both of us.

Our reader’s comments asked that we stick to travel-related topics, particularly regarding COVID-19, and thus, we’ll continue with today’s post in that vein. In today’s news, which impacts us significantly in the future, we see that the UK is allowing visitors from 59 countries to enter on international flights (this doesn’t include India or the USA) without any quarantine measures in place.

Another large home in Holloways Beach.

Doesn’t this seem foolhardy? Almost all of those 59 countries (most in the EU) still have rising cases and deaths from COVID-19. Why would England, which is the #9 position in the world for most cases and deaths (out of 215 entries), so freely allow international visitors without regard for quarantine?

This baffles me. Also, it baffles me why some people in mask-required states in the US can receive exemptions from wearing a mask due to “health reasons.”

This morning on my first walk, I listened to a podcast that popped up on my phone by a highly regarded immunologist/physician stating that there are no health conditions that should prevent a person from wearing a mask if they are physically able to be out shopping at Trader Joe’s pushing a grocery trolley and screaming when they are confronted, claiming a medical condition.

A small park at Holloway’s Beach.

If a person had a severe enough case of asthma, COPD, or other respiratory illness, most likely, they’d be unable to shop and would be under care at home or in a medical facility.

I don’t love wearing a mask. I have asthma and heart disease, so the mask makes it difficult to breathe when I walk fast in the corridors. But I do so regardless. If I couldn’t walk with a mask, I’d stop walking. I am no exception to the rule.

Most times, while walking, I walk past several staff members and an occasional guest. If I had the virus, what right would I have to infect others while breathing heavily from a fast walk if I had the virus without apparent symptoms? And, the opposite is true.

Double Island made us curious as to what it would be like to visit. Here are the details of visiting Double Island.

Finally, research is coming out that illustrates that wearing a mask prevents the spread from infected individuals and protects the wearer. Yes, there’s been conflicting information regarding this fact and others since the onset of COVID-19. 

But, as world travelers, it’s our responsibility to stay informed as information “changes” as more and more studies are completed in such articles as this and numerous other recent articles.

Tom was looking out to the sea under a roof at the beach.

Suppose we intend to continue to travel in the future, including land, sea, and air. In that case, we must stay on top of each location’s safety requirements and laws, as well as methods in which we can best protect ourselves once we travel and eventually land somewhere, regardless of where that may be.

So far, travel prospects out of India continue to look bleak, although there are discussions among leaders about reopening international flights. India has now moved into the world’s position #3 of the most cases and deaths, from #4 a week ago, directly bypassing Russia with the US in #1 position, Brazil in #2, as we predicted one week ago. See this chart here.

More views of the park at the beach.

As mentioned in earlier posts, even if India opens international flights, we’ll have to consider which countries will accept us when US citizens and Indian visitors are banned. Time will tell.

Let’s put an end to this dreadful time in our history! Please, folks, wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands obsessively. Please pass this post on to your friends and loved ones.

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2019:

These dilapidated farm buildings represent a period of strife in Ireland when many left the country due to the potato famine. For more details, please click here.

Day #110 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Are there benefits to living in this lockdown?…Looking on the bright side!

This scene took our breath away at the Cairns Tropical Zoo. This mother Koala with her “joey” in her pouch is the name for all marsupial offspring. A Koala joey is the size of a jellybean with no hair, no ears, and is blind at birth. Joeys crawl into the mother’s pouch immediately after birth, staying there until about six months old.

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 11, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

As stated in today’s heading, “Are, there benefits to living in this lockdown?” The seeming preposterous question may elicit head-shaking and laughter. But, when a reader wrote, commending us for our resiliency, they asked this very question, adding that perhaps some benefits contribute to our staying relatively upbeat. 

The natural bond between moms and their offspring is always precious to observe. Many visitors gathered around this area in awe of the experience.

These benefits generally are expected and relevant while living in most holiday homes. During the pandemic, we could easily have been deprived of these items, and based on the fact we have not been deprived, we are very grateful.

They were both checking out the action. Koalas eat as much as 1000 eucalyptus leaves per day. 

We thank the reader for their kind observation and comments. Without a doubt, some factors make this peculiar scenario tolerable, preventing us from banging our heads on the wall in sheer frustration. 

Jasmine, Tom and Koala’s mom, and joey named Violet after ten years devoted employee Jasmine’s daughter. 

With tongue in cheek, I’ll answer this question, asking Tom for input regarding his perceptions as well but will combine our answers in the following:

1. We have quality air-con, keeping the room cool and humidity-free day and night
2.  Strong signal Wi-Fi with rare issues
3.  We don’t have to do dishes, make the bed or clean the room
4.  The shower water is hot and dependable
5.  We have an electric kettle and can make coffee and tea using the included supplies
6.  Staff is friendly and competent, and quick to respond to issues or concerns
7.  We can easily stream media using our HDMI cord
8.  We can purchase toiletries and miscellaneous from Amazon India
9.  There are comfortable chairs for each of us
10. The food, although repetitive, is tasty is well prepared. We recently mentioned the temperature was not hot enough, and they now bring our food in a portable warmer. This helps.
11. Prescription drugs available without a doctor’s prescription
12. Fresh white bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and toilet tissue are provided daily with fresh bedding every three days. Some toiletries are provided.
13. Comfortable bedding and mattress. No dust mites.
14. Long corridors enable us to walk long distances each day in air-conditioned comfort. I am now up to almost three miles/five km per day. Tom walks less of a distance, but he also does the stairs, which I avoid due to the risk of falling.

Ironically, one of our favorite wild animals at the Cairns Tropical Zoo was the Dingo, looking familiar to us as a domesticated dog.  However, Dingos are wild animals, and many attempts to domesticate them have failed. 

While refilling my monthly container with vitamins and three prescription drugs, I noticed I was quickly running out of medication for hypertension. I brought the empty package down to the reception desk to ask their assistance in getting enough of this particular drug to last for the next nine months. 

Prescriptions for such medications are not required in India. Within 48 hours, the pills arrived, 600 tablets of which I take two per day for INR 6000, US $79.83, considerably less than I’d pay in most countries. I have two more medications I’ll order in equal amounts before we leave India. This is an excellent benefit without the necessity of seeing a doctor, which during COVID-19 would be risky.

The Wildlife Wedding Chapel on the ground of the zoo is a popular venue for weddings.  Please click here for details.

Our ability to maintain a positive attitude in this confined situation is in part based on the availability of the above-listed points. But, in looking back, we’ve been in situations where we’ve had only a few of the listed items, and we managed fine. Of course, at those times, we had freedom, the outdoors, fresh air, home-cooked meals, and no thoughts or concerns about getting a life-threatening virus.

Stay safe. Appreciate. Adapt. Share. Keep moving. Social distance. Wear a mask. Eat healthy foods. Think good thoughts. Love. 

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

Beautiful Connemara pony. For more photos, please click here.

Day #109 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Ongoing heartbreaking situation with my sister…

We searched online but couldn’t find the name of this grass or weed. This is commonly found along the highways and country roads in this and other areas of Australia.

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 10, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

Many of our readers have written kindly inquiring about how my sister Susan is doing after I posted about her failing health while living in a nursing home in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

It sunny day at the beach.

This week, her daughter Kely and my sister Julie have been visiting her each day, sorting out all of her papers, end-of-life directives, and making her single room in the nursing home look more friendly by hanging some of her favorite pictures, family collages, and photos.

Digging through her storage space, they found many of her favorite things, many of which she’s been asking about for months. She moved into this 10-bed nursing facility many months ago, which provides exceptional care when it was impossible for her to continue to live in an assisted living facility.

The boat launch at Holloways Beach, leading to a river that leads to the sea. That’s not an animal hanging from the tree, just an unusual root clump.

At this point, she is bedridden and has been placed into palliative/hospice care with no hope for improvement or recovery. How long she will last is unknown at this point and seems to us predicated by how long she is willing to hang on.

Finally, her facility allowed masked, gloved, and face-shielded visitors. They have not had a single case of COVID-19. It has given me great comfort to know Kely and Julie could be with her now. The isolation all these months have been unbearable for her.

This sign painted on the paved road at the boat launch says, “Be croc wise in croc country.” It would be terrifying to encounter a croc while launching a boat into the water.

Sadly, her memory is failing by the hour, and she can only recall snippets of her long-ago life and little, if anything, about recent events. Dementia/Alzheimer’s has set in gradually over the years but has become more evident these past few months.

Over the years of world travel, I have called her every week to touch base and share wonderful travel stories with her. As a former world traveler herself, we often laughed over the irony of the same places we visited and the stories that followed.

Unknown variety of flowers.

About a month ago, when I called, she could hardly speak and had little cognizance of who I was. This prompted Kely and Julie to visit her once again from their respective homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. 

The last time I saw Susan was in December 2019 when Tom and I visited Las Vegas for almost two weeks, during which we stayed with son Richard, and I called her nearly every day, making the two-hour round-trip drive from Henderson to North Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The pile of huge rocks appeared to have been placed at the edge of the rainforest to keep people out. 

During this week, Kely and Julie organized everything she needed to be prepared for life’s end and make her all the more comfortable. At this point, there’s no benefit from any additional medical care. She’s taking numerous medications that keep her pain-free and as comfortable as possible.

Of course, I wish I could be with her now. Even if she doesn’t recall that I’ve called her, I will continue to call every few days, just to say, “I love you.” She sleeps most of the day and only awakens for short periods to take a few bites of food. She’s at a point now, where she cannot lift a spoon or fork to her mouth.

An attractive beachfront house as we drove along the beach road.

As I write this today, many of you will relate to this sorrowful situation. Many of us have been through this in the past with loved ones and sadly will face it again as we age and care for aging parents, siblings, and other family members.

The process of working our way through this most challenging time in our history along with dealing with the sorrow of losing beloved family members and friends is heart-wrenching for all of us.

This root-laden tree is unusual, reminding us of Banyan trees in Hawaii, although with smaller roots.

May we all find comfort in the love and companionship we share with our loved ones and with one another during these times and into the future. Thank you, dear readers, for your compassion and concern.

Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2019:

As we drove from Connemara, Ireland to the small town of Roundstone, with a population of 214, we were impressed by the design of the colorful properties on the main road. For more photos, please click here.

Day #108 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…What does it cost to travel the world?..Playful photos from Australia…

Mailbox in front of a house down the road from us in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia.

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 9, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

A long-time reader recently wrote inquiring as to the monthly/annual costs of full-time world travel. As our regular readers know, we post “final expenses” at the end of each stay in a particular country and specific location, usually within 24 hours of our departure.

A sign in front of the house which is currently for sale.

We include the rental costs and fees for the holiday home, rental car, tips, groceries, dining out, entertainment, and miscellaneous shopping listed in a post. If you’ve never seen one of these charts, please click here (scroll down the page).

We also include the total expenses after the end of any cruise listing, including flights, cruise fare and taxes, WiFi, tips, and miscellaneous charges which may incur during the cruise, usually within 24 hours of disembarkation. To see our most recent final expenses for a cruise, please click here.

Statue of a horse, cart, and man in front of the house.

Although these expenses include a breakdown, including the “average daily cost” and “average monthly cost,” we have not posted an average annual cost mainly due to the variances from year to year.

The single most significant factor in determining our annual cost is based on the number of cruises we’ve sailed, with considerable variances in price. For example, in 2018, we embarked on the ultra-expensive cruise to Antarctica, which far exceeded our monthly budget and annual budget (we’ll get to that soon), as shown below in the chart from this post:

Expense US Dollar Euro
Cruise Fare  $             34,500.00  $                27,945.00
 Airfare – inc in the cruise fare  $             –                   –
Hotel Buenos Aires – 2 ngts $                    140.00 $                       113.40
Taxi – paid by hotel  $              –    $            –  
Cabin Credit  $                 (101.23)  $                      (81.00)
Wi-Fi on ship  $                   444.45  $                       360.00
Gratuities  $                   250.00  $                       202.50
Miscellaneous  $                    29.63  $                         24.00
Doctor visit on ship  $                  213.73  $                       173.12
Total  $             35,476.58  $                 28,899.02
Avg Daily Cost – 17 days  $               1,970.92  $                   1,605.50
Interesting vegetation is growing in the garden. Notice Fred Flintstone on the left of the photo. Wait, more is coming.

The likelihood of us booking such an expensive cruise in the future is slim. This cruise took a massive bite out of our preferred annual budget of INR 5621721, US $75,000, which has increased based on inflation since we began traveling.

As in the above case of the Antarctic sailing, following that cruise, we spent the next 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa. At that time, still recovering from open-heart surgery, I didn’t take the time to post the final expenses for this extended period, although I did post them on our spreadsheet. 

Relatively large statues of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone. It brings back memories from when my kids were young!

What skewed those figures was the outrageous out-of-pocket medical expenses we paid, which our travel insurance company refused to pay. But, I can quote an average monthly expense for those many months, excluding the medical costs at approximately INR 299825, US $4,000. 

Aside from the unexpected medical expenses, these lower monthly expenses helped offset the costs from the Antarctica cruise, an expense we’ll never regret after the fantastic experiences.

Even Dino from the Flintstones was there. This statue is most likely as tall as an adult human.

Our annual budget continues to vary based on the number of cruises of any type that we book along the way. Some years, we’ve sailed on six cruises, and others none at all, as was the case while we lived in South Africa.

As for the future, our expenses could change based on COVID-19, which may result in increased airfares, holiday home rentals, car rentals, and other products and services. As for cruising, at this point, we have no idea if we’ll continue to cruise. 

A different house on the same side of the street with pretty landscaping.

Most likely, if we continue to cruise, we’ll book fewer sailings, all on smaller ships, which will result in higher fares. Obviously, the smaller the ship, the higher the fare, a situation we’ve found to be universal across the board. 

Cruise lines seem to be working on ways in which to protect their guests from COVID-19 while sailing. However, many of these “adjustments” may remove the cruising features that most appealed to us, primarily centered around socializing nearby. Those days may have long passed.

Horses and a peacock in the front garden.

Not much new on the horizon here today. After I finish posting each day and Tom checks for errors, I’ve been watching sci-fi movies on my laptop, using my earbuds to avoid bothering Tom. 

There certainly are a lot of dystopian, end-of-the-world movies on Netflix and Amazon. Each afternoon, I watch one movie. Eventually, I’ll run out of options. In the interim, if they aren’t interesting enough, I’ll play Scrabble on my phone with other online players while the movie streams. 

The mailman coming down the road. It appears most letter mail is delivered on a motorcycle.

Also, once an hour, I stop to walk the corridors. I am now walking longer distances in shorter periods and getting done by 3:00 pm when Tom and I start watching shows together. In a few days, we’ll have completed the 230 (20-minute) episodes of the overly dramatic Irish TV cop drama Red Rock, a tremendous binge-watching series we’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

We’re good. We hope you are, too!

Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2019:

Seagulls are prolific in Connemara, Ireland, close to the sea. For more photos, please click here.

Day #104 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More walking???…No, we’re not in Australia…

Cows in the side yard as we drove down the driveway to the main road in Connemara, Ireland, one year ago today.

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 5, 2019, while in Connemara, Ireland. See the link here for more details.

Starting today, in our heading, we will be listing the number of days we’ve been in lockdown in this hotel in Mumbai, India. As noted above, today is day #104, although we’d spent another 12 days in lockdown in other hotels in India before we found this Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport.

Luckily, we are close to the airport. It’s less than a 10-minute drive to the international terminal. By the time we’re able to leave here after the airport opens to international flights and travel to a country that will accept us, the roads will again be busy with traffic.

Cattle are so busy grazing. They hesitate to look up a photo op.

We don’t see that happening anytime soon. Instead, we continue to make every effort to ease the current situation for however long it may last. Cases of COVID-19 in India are continuing to escalate at astounding rates. India is in the #4 spot globally for the number of cases and deaths, only surpassed by the USA #1, Brazil #2, Russia #3.
In the next 24 to 48 hours, India will easily surpass Russia to move into the #3 position. India already has over twice as many deaths as Russia. For more details on the statistics on world cases, please click here.

And still, when I peer out the window at the end of one of the corridors when I walk once an hour, I typically see a dozen or more men at a nearby location where motorbikes are parked without wearing masks or social distancing.

The careless attitude of some individuals throughout the world will prevent the lessening of cases in months, perhaps years to come. Some may consider that extended family gatherings are safe since, after all, they are family. But, if they haven’t been living in the same household, they too can spread the virus.

A Connemara Pony in the pasture down the road.

There is nothing we can do to change these facts unless one or two of our worldwide readers see today’s post and decide to protect themselves and their loved ones further. Please excuse our “nagging” on this topic. 

As time passes, we all hear of more and more people we know have contracted the virus, some who have passed away, others who have struggled to survive, and others who are relatively symptom-free, able to pass it on while out and about and in group settings.

The majority of our family members and friends have remained safe, continuing to observe lockdown restrictions while taking this pandemic seriously. In reality, it’s all about personal responsibility. 

This is no time for defiance or expressing any political or social view by refusing to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Regardless of what our leaders may say or do, we must take it upon ourselves as kind and caring individuals to take maximum precautions.

Since we arrived almost two months ago, this brown colt seems to be growing up quickly.

Speaking of walking the corridors, a few days ago, I upped my walking to two full treks per hour, exponentially doubling my number of steps and walking times.

It hasn’t been easy since I have leg pain due to bad arteries in my legs classified as a peripheral arterial disease (PAD), all a part of my poor heredity condition of cardiovascular disease. The best treatment for this condition is walking at regular intervals.

I am pushing on hour after hour. This lofty goal gives me hope for future travel expeditions where I have often struggled to walk fast or long distances. One of my dreams for the future is to travel to Rwanda to see the gorillas. Doing so may require a long and arduous incline walk into the mountains. The only way this is remotely possible for me is if I continue with this mission.

At low tide, many inner waterways appear boggy and muddy.

A dear old friend wrote and asked why we were in Australia when she glanced at our most recent post, where we’d included several repeated photos from our time in Australia from 2015  to 2017. I explained in a reply that we’ve been posting old photos from our past travels since we have no new photos to post.

If you aren’t a “regular” reader, please keep this in mind so that our posts with past photos make sense if you happen to “drop by” for a moment or two to see where we are at the moment. This prompted us to start listing the number of days we’ve spent in lockdown in Mumbai, India, in our heading each day to clarify where we are at any given time.

Tom is now doing 380 steps on the stairs and walking several routes in the corridors. This is a first for him to exercise independently, although he and I have regularly walked together in most locations we’ve visited over the years. 

Hopefully, when we get to South Africa, it will be safe to walk the roads when recently, many lions have been spotted both day and night. If not, we’ll need a big enough house to walk indoors. 

Have a pleasant and safe day, dear readers. We’ll all get through this!

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2018:

This morning’s view in Connemara, Ireland, across the bay to the Twelve Bens mountains. For more photos, please click here.

Happy 4th of July for all of our USA readers!…Happy Saturday to our readers from all over the world!..Australia photos…

The Cattana Wetlands in Cairns, Australia, offered exceptional, expansive views.

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 4, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.
Vegetation growing in the lake at the Cattana Wetlands created this view.

Happy Independence Day (4th of July) to all of our family and friends in the US! Unfortunately, based on the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, few of the usual festivities will be transpiring.

Numerous signs were warning of the possibility of crocodiles as we entered the Cattana Wetlands, none of which we’d seen as yet.

For our readers outside the US, this holiday is typically centered around cooking outdoors, bonfires, firework displays, flag-waving, and gatherings of family and friends.

Who knew what creatures might lurk beyond the vegetation?

Sadly, this year’s activity will be tempered for most, based on fears of spreading the virus outdoors in large groups. We only hope everyone will proceed with caution by wearing masks, social distancing, and frequently washing their hands during any festivities they may be attending or hosting.

The sun reflected in the wetlands creating this orange glow in the water.

As for us, it’s just another mention to one another upon awakening, a less-than-usual-exuberant, “Happy 4th of July.” Since we left the US in January 2013, we’ve rarely celebrated any US holidays other than Thanksgiving on a few occasions with family in the US while visiting, friends in South Africa, and friends in Australia.

The Cattana Wetlands are well arranged with paved walking paths and marked areas.

Speaking of Australia, today’s photos are from a sightseeing visit to the Cattana Wetlands in Queensland, Australia, five years ago today. As we’ve mentioned in many past posts, we spent two years in Oceania /South Pacific/Southeast Asia visiting such locations as Sydney, Tasmania, Trinity Beach, Cairns, Australia, including a cruise circumventing the entire Australian continent; New Zealand; Indonesia; Thailand; Vietnam; Cambodia; Malaysia; and many more.

The various ponds and lakes were marked.

A significant part of our perspective of Australia developed during the long periods we spent in and around Cairns, Sydney, and Tasmania, each unique in its way. If you’d like to peruse some of our experiences, check out our archives for 2015/2016/2017, where every post is listed.

She was peeking through the trees to the main lake in the Cattana Wetlands.

The visit we’re sharing in photos today of the Cattana Wetland is a good representation of the types of scenery we find most appealing, consisting of gorgeous and unique vegetation, nature, and bodies of water against the backdrop of a blue sky on a sunny day, the perfect combination of pure paradise.

Areas were marked with maps and descriptions.

The tour through the wetlands consisted of a long and leisurely walk on the well-planned and easy paths that wove through the property, allowing the utmost of photo-taking and scenic views. We enjoyed every moment.

We expected a beaver to pop up at any moment. 

And now, what a treat such a walk would be, to be in the sunshine, in the warmth, and surrounded by nature. How easily we could have taken that simple mobility and scenery for granted in times past. 

This small island was located in the middle of the lake.

However, as we review past posts, as in the case of today’s photos (click here), we come to realize how much we appreciated it then, as we would appreciate it now. Nothing in our vast world, under any circumstances, has left us taking anything for granted.

 A close-up of a lily pad on which some creature enjoyed lunch.

We will always remain humble and in awe of the world around us, never assuming what we’ve seen in the past and that which we experience now or in the future as being expected or taken for granted.

The lakes were covered in parts in lily pads.

When, in the unknown future, we are gifted with the opportunity to “be out there” once again to relish in the sight of exquisite nature, wildlife, and people, we will embrace it with the same passion we’ve carried with us along the way.

One of the many more paths to explore.

For now, we have so much to appreciate; having air-con and WiFi; a clean and safe environment; healthy meals prepared for us; and above all, the companionship of one another as we work our way through this most unusual time in our lives.

From a distance, we thought these were flowers when in fact, they were colorful leaves.

May all of us, regardless of these challenging circumstances, find comfort in taking a few minutes each day to appreciate what we do have, as opposed to what we don’t. With that in mind, we’ll all make it through this trying time with grace and dignity. Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2019:

Bay view on a sunny morning in Connemara. For more details. Please click here.