Why write a blog about travel?…. Years Long World Travel Writer’s Story

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan
The Treasury in Petra, Jordan! This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the  long walk in outrageous heat and more from sheer joy! Please click here for more.

Years Long World Travel Writer:

All of my life, I loved writing. As a student, I used the written word as a means to bypass a certain degree of studying by writing flowery essays and compositions in place of countless mundane and boring assignments. Writing as a profession was not only my dream, whether to write a book to be published someday, hoping to attain a level of success or, to explore vast experiences throughout the world, providing me with ample fodder to inspire the words that so freely flew off my fingers on an old fashioned typewriter.

As we all know so well, life gets in the way of many of our dreams and we find ourselves entrenched in the responsibilities of daily life; working, parenting, and financial obligations. My biggest dream was to travel to the African continent, taking endless numbers of photos of wildlife, culture, and nature as well as seeing the other six continents, the rest of the world. Many years passed before the possibility of writing as a profession would present itself.

The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia
The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Please click here for more.

The segue from a dream to reality…

In the 1980s, for the first time in my life, I had an opportunity to travel to several countries, each leaving me longing to sit down and put pen to paper about my experiences. But, here again, the demands of my life as a business owner and parent left me little time to write about my world travel experiences.

Serendipitously, in 1991, while at a business-type social event, I stumbled across a wealthy gentleman who asked me if I knew a writer who may be interested in an unusual project. He’d written two dozen songs and had a burning desire to incorporate them into a play to eventually be produced at a local playhouse. It was impossible for me to resist saying, “I am a writer and I’d be up for the challenge.”

A few days later I met with him at his office, bringing along the favorite pieces I’d written over the years; essays, poetry, the start of a book, and business-related journals. He hired me on the spot. Within days, he presented me with a years-long contract specifying I could take more than one year to write the play using the accompanying music scores he’d written, I’d receive a bonus if it was, in fact, completed in one year.

The Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal
The Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal, as we entered. Please click here for more.

Traveling to learn to write a play…

Part of my contract provided me with an extraordinary benefit. He’d pay all costs incurred for me to travel to New York, for private training sessions with a world-renowned playwright and professor at Northwestern University. I had no clue how to write a play, although I felt confident I could learn the art. In no time at all, I was on my way to New York City, booked into a fabulous historic hotel with every amenity.

An added perk while in New York was to go to as many Broadway plays as I could possibly attend, making notes on verbiage, nuances, and unique writing styles, adding to my repertoire of experience and the use of language in a major production. I traveled to New York three times to meet with my “teacher” and again, watching a Broadway show each evening. I wished Tom had been with me to revel in this unique opportunity. Somehow, on my own, I grasped every morsel of knowledge I could glean along the way.

A reality of this writing assignment was that I was to be a “ghost” writer and I would never get “credit” for the comprehensive and cohesive story I’d written to work cohesively with the wide array of songs that had nothing to do with one another. Somehow, the magic happened and the year-long task came to fruition.

traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard
Looking up at the sky, day and night, is a rare treat, from inside the riad we rented in Marrakech, Morocco, which is defined as a traditional Moroccan house with an interior garden or courtyard. It rained inside the house while we stayed in the rooms surrounding the center courtyard. For more, please click here.

Years Long World Travel Writing:

During this period, when I found myself writing each day, on occasion my mind would wander to the prospect of worldwide travel writing, wondering if that dream would ever materialize. This was almost 30 years ago. When the play was finally produced in the theatre district in Minneapolis, Tom, and I attended opening night to delightfully discover, he had included my name in the program as a “consultant.” I was content.

Where did I go from there?

After the lucrative year-long assignment, I was at a loss as to what to do with my career from there. Writing as a career wasn’t a field whereby one could easily earn a living. So, I opted to return to the business world, where I languished for the next 20 years, to finally retire in 2010, hoping I’d have sufficient fodder to begin to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing about world travels. But, how would that transpire?

Tom and I had married in 1995 and lived a full life in Minnesota, USA. He couldn’t retire until 2012. Like many Minnesotans, they often retire to warmer climates such as Arizona, Florida, or Texas than continue to spend the bitter winter months in the Upper Midwest. This type of life, owning two-homes, didn’t appeal to either of us.

On a Thursday morning in Marloth Park in 2013, as I stepped outside onto the veranda, camera in hand, this was the first thing I saw. Quietly alerting Tom, who was still inside the house, he rushed out to witness this same sight. And then, in minutes they were everywhere, a dozen total. No words can describe our elation. For more, click here.

One day, on a whim, 10 months before Tom’s retirement date of October 31, 2012, I asked him, “Honey, what would you like to do when you retire?”

Flippantly, waving a hand in the air, he replied, “Let’s travel the world!” Finally, I’d have an opportunity to a lifestyle of years long world travel writing.

I was shocked, never thinking for a moment he’d leave everyone and everything he’d known and loved for all of his life, to begin a life of world travel.

World travel, my dream, my fodder!

My first thought, after shaking my head in shocking wonder was “At last, I could fulfill my dream of becoming a world travel writer.” The fact I was already 62 years old at the time was irrelevant.” A lifelong dream was coming to fruition. Instead of trying to write a book about the simple life of a 62-year-old grandmother, living on a lake in Minnesota, I could ride on a safari vehicle, surrounded by lions and elephants in the savannah of Africa.

Over the next 10 months, every waking moment was spent in the planning stages, and the painstaking process of selling everything we owned; house, cars, household goods, while leaving treasured items for our children, and six grandchildren. No, the decision to leave our family, friends, and everything we owned didn’t come easily.

But, once we made the decision, we were committed to seeing the world and, along the way for me to write a very long, seeming never-ending story of our worldwide travels, day after day, month after month, and year after year. The idea of being able to exact a years long world travel writing philosophy sent our hearts and minds into a frenzy of incomprehensible joy which neither of us had ever known before.

magical splendor of Victoria Falls
Alas, we arrived at the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Please click here for more photos.

The painstaking process…

The concept of eliminating every item one has accumulated over a lifetime, resulting in no storage facility that would leave us with an eventual “out” was earth-shattering. We didn’t want to be in a position whereby we wouldn’t “tough it out” if things became difficult. If we stored our belongings, it would be too easy to return to our old lives, taking our “stuff” out of storage, buying a new house, and setting up housekeeping once again. No, we wanted this to be a serious commitment. The world is a huge place and, it was conceivable we could continue to travel for years to come.

Somehow, we managed to unload all of our personal belongings and physical possessions. In the process, we discovered a newly found sense of freedom, one we’d need to carry with us in our worldwide travels and remains with us today.

Fulfillment of a dream… The writing began…

Less than two months after we’d decided to travel the world, I uploaded our first post on March 15, 2012 while naming our site, WorldWideWaftage.com. We found the word “waftage” in an old English dictionary which means to “travel gently by air, sea or land.” That was our plan, to travel the world gently, leaving a small footprint behind us, one of kindness, consideration, acceptance, respect, with profound reverence for the world surrounding us, its wildlife and its people. That philosophy has served us well, eight years later as we’ve enjoyed years long world travel writing

Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC TV series, Downton Abbey
We held our breath as we approached Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC TV series, Downton Abbey.  No interior photos were allowed. Please click here for more photos.

That first post, found here, was finally my chance to write while stepping outside the box of my otherwise uncomplicated life into a world I never dreamed possible. Sure, it was a little late in coming, but we were totally committed to writing about our experiences in traveling the world, with no home to return to, no physical possessions other than that we carried with us, and no easy means of “calling it quits.”

Once that first post was uploaded when miraculously, readers from all over the world found us, I was hooked, as was Tom, who. Although he doesn’t write the words in the posts, he is my right hand, constantly researching to ensure we provide concise and accurate information at every turn. Our diligence in sharing “the truth” and not embellishing our experiences has been a vital aspect of our writings and images. We tell it, “like it is,” rather than some fluffed up the notion of what traveling the world is really like. How exciting it was for a years long world travel writing adventure.

In the process over these eight years, we’ve had no haters. Instead, we’ve been blessed with readers who appreciate the opportunity to share in our now daily stories. To date, we’ve written almost 3,000 posts, rarely missing a day since we began posting daily over seven years ago.

shepherd in Witheridge, Cornwall
At one point while Tom had an opportunity to be a shepherd in Witheridge, Cornwall, the sheep turned and made an incorrect turn (herd mentality) and again, Tom guided them back in the right direction.  Please click here for more photos.

What about writer’s block?

“Writer’s block” doesn’t exist in our world, even after the past over six months we’ve spent living in an average-sized hotel room in Mumbai, India whereby we had to cut short a prepaid 55-day private tour of India when COVID-19 hit and the lockdown began. At the onset of the lockdown, I was worried we’d run out of topics and stories to tell. But, with a commitment for years long world travel writing, we knew we’d carry on.

Fortunately, our previous almost 3,000 posts provided us with exciting photos from the past eight years of world travel. Each day, we’ve shared some of our new thoughts and experiences while in lockdown, while adding photos from past posts to fulfill our reader’s objectives of staying in touch with us as they, too, remain in lockdown all over the world.

As for the writing of the past posts, I can honestly say, there was never a day in our ongoing eight long years of world travel, where we couldn’t come up with a story to tell, a series of photos to share, or a message from our hearts. We’ve weathered unbelievably stressful and worrisome events to some of the greatest joys of our lives, never failing for a moment to appreciate these gifts we’ve been given of traveling the world for years, not weeks, not months.

Pairs, at night on a dinner cruise on the River Seine
Pairs, at night on a dinner cruise on the River Seine. The Assemblee Nationale, the French National Assembly.  Please click here for more photos.

What does the future hold? Will we have more world travel stories to write?

These challenging times of a worldwide pandemic, impacting every man, woman, and child wherever they may be on this vast planet, will eventually waft away. We can only hope and pray that we’ll have enough desire and commitment to manage our way through the upcoming obstacles presented from this disaster, by continuing in our worldwide travels, writing new stories each and every day, sharing a tender, earth-shattering, profound, and jaw-dropping experiences as we continue to strive to fulfill the final stages of our journey.

In conclusion…

We’ve traveled to seven continents. We’ve walked the rough terrain in the islands of Antarctica, witness to millions of penguins. We walked the long and arduous journey to the unearthed city of Petra in Jordan in 110F, 43C, temperatures. We’ve sailed on 27 cruises throughout the world.

Antarctica, both of us holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign
In Antarctica, both of us holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign. Please click here for more photos.

We’ve transited the Panama Canal twice. We’ve walked in the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. We’ve dined on a luxury watercraft on the River Seine in Paris. We’ve lived on working farms in the countryside in Cornwall, England. We’ve lived in the bush in South Africa with wild animals wandering about our holiday house, day and night. We’ve felt the spray from Victoria Falls in our faces in both Zimbabwe and Zambia in Africa. We lived in a riad in the Souks of The Big Square in Marrakesh, Morocco. We visit the famous castle from Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, in England. Our years long world travel writing was inspired by these exquisite opportunities.

Taj Mahal
We never imagined we’d see the Taj Mahal. And yet, in February 2020 on a hazy morning, it lay before our eyes in its full splendor. Please click here for more photos.

And, most recently, we’ve traveled India on the world-renowned Maharajas Express luxury train, eventually ending up in Mumbai in a six-month-long lockdown in a hotel near the airport, hoping someday to be able to carry on.

Through it all, we’ve continued to write our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, and our sorrows as we’ve embarked upon years long world travel writing journey to see the world and its treasures, many of which are yet to behold.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 20, 2019:

Bodmin Moors in Cornwall, England
During a visit to the Bodmin Moors in Cornwall, England, Tom wasn’t comfortable in this position for long. From this site: “The pillory is a device made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands, formerly used for punishment by public humiliation and often further physical abuse.” Please click here for more photos.

Difficulties of travel for some seniors…Aging and endorphins…our bodies own miracle…Want to get high?…Could this be the answer?

A deer at Zoo Ave.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Here’s another sad loss of a bird, a Hoffman’s Woodpecker, that hit the glass wall in the veranda. Unfortunately, this one never came back to life.

Regardless of how one may strive to maintain a modicum of good health as we age, there’s only so much we can do. A healthy diet, regular movement and exercise, sufficient sleep, regular small doses of sunlight, and a positive state of mind may seem to be the panacea for long and healthy life. But it’s so much more than that.

We’re subject to heredity and the past ways in which we’ve lived our lives, which at times may not have been the most health-inducing for the long haul, having an impact on how quickly we age.

Did we spend too much time in the sun resulting in creepy hanging skin and the potential for skin cancer? Did we smoke or consume recreational drugs in our youth?  Did we drink alcohol in excess?  Were our lives filled with stress and worry impacting the quality of daily lives and the ability for good sleep? 

A deer lounging in the foliage.

Many of us abused our bodies with too much exercise, or as in many cases, not enough exercise, resulting in bad hips, knees, backs, and joints in general. So when we hear about many of our friends requiring hip and knee replacement surgeries, we wonder if there was something that may have prevented the necessity of these major surgeries. 

Is reliable information available to inspire the young to prevent the need for such surgeries in their later years? Unfortunately, many studies we’ve read seem to contradict one another. 

Thankfully, neither Tom nor I have any concerns over hip or knee surgeries in the imminent future.  However, the necessity of such could quickly stop us “dead in our tracks” for an extended period in continuing our world travels. 

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An Iguana at Zoo Ave. We’ve seen them running across roads at various locations, but they dash. It’s not easy to get a photo while driving.

When we look back at our lives, is there anything we did “right” to avoid these surgeries?  There’s nothing we can recall. Is it merely a matter of chance? I can’t imagine this is so.

Simply due to the fact we’ve chosen this life of world travel doesn’t make us exempt from age-related health issues. We, too, like many of you, have signs and symptoms commensurate with aging that no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to escape.

We can eat all the low carb, healthy organic, free-range, and grass-fed chemical-free foods we can stuff into our mouths and accomplish a daily goal of 10,000 active steps on the Fitbit, and still, we find ourselves struggling to get enough uninterrupted sleep each night and notice subtle changes in our health as the years pass.

Close up of an Iguana face.

No, we don’t spend time worrying about aging. No, we don’t frequently check the mirror looking for changes in the number of wrinkles, skin changes, and gray hair that comes with aging. 

However, it’s impossible not to notice a new ache, a new pain, or a symptom we may not have experienced in the past. Without a doctor and confused over the varying opinions of doctors and medical professionals worldwide based on fuzzy medical research and protocols, we often have no option but to try to figure out day-to-day issues on our own.

Of course, if we experienced a possibly life-threatening situation or severe injury, we’ll head to the nearest hospital. We’re not foolhardy.

Check out the complexities of this unusual creature.

Oh my gosh, while we’ve had US news here in Costa Rica, we’ve been appalled over the commercials for drugs that hardly seem worth trying, with all the risks of side effects, unless a person has a life-threatening condition and all other options have been exhausted. It’s hard to believe.

Traveling is suitable for aging. The joy, the mental stimulation, and the varied experiences surely must be beneficial for one’s health. We’ve noticed this repeatedly during the past five years of world travel (only nine days until the fifth anniversary of our trips).

The rush of endorphins continually wash over us time and again, whether it’s a result of spotting a little bird alighting on the railing, a cultural experience, or the sighting of a lion in the wild.   Endorphins are described as follows from this site:

“Endorphins: 
(contracted from “endogenous morphine”) are endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones in humans and other animals. They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. The term “endorphins” implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals) instead of a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”The class of endorphins includes three compounds – α-endorphinβ-endorphin, and γ-endorphin – which preferentially bind to μ-opioid receptors. The principal function of endorphins is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids.”

Turtles seem to enjoy hanging out together. Hmmm…kind of like people.

Gee…want to get high? Experience life’s wonders and feel this exceptional sensation of euphoria and well-being produced by our bodies. This has got to be suitable for aging! 

Hardly a day passes where we don’t have an opportunity to experience this indescribable rush.  Perhaps, in essence, this is our choice of “drug” that spurs us on to continue our travels. Maybe this may be the “magic” required to extend our health and the quality of our lives, joy, and purpose.

May each day bring you an endorphin rush!

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2016:

On our last night in Bali, we shot this sunset photo from the cabana. For more final photos, please click here.

Cranking out the plans…Acquiring visas for the not-so-savvy-Internet users…

Fiji décor made from some type of small vines.

Everything about our lives requires planning. Oh, I’m not complaining. It just “goes with the territory.” At times, we chuckle over the irony. One cannot settle back and let the days roll out, one after another, routines firmly in place, comforting and easy.

This morning, Tom held up the contents of the remaining ground coffee he’d put into a Ziplock bag and said, “This looks like enough coffee left including the one unopened bag to last us, doesn’t it?” 

Looking at the bag, I shook my head, “No, Honey, we’ll need to buy one more bag of coffee.”

They don’t sell ground coffee anywhere in Pacific Harbour. Tomorrow, we’re heading back to Suva where the airport is located, for sightseeing and shopping, a 70-minute taxi ride each way, FJD $100, USD $46.83 (cost for the round trip).  It would be worth buying one more package. If we ran out it wouldn’t be worth the time and taxi fare to drive back to Suva only for coffee.

A cloudy evening at the beach.

Yesterday, I completed our menu and accompanying grocery list for the 19 remaining days in Pacific Harbour, a combination of cooking and dining out. We scheduled dining out on six occasions, one including Tom’s birthday on December 23rd at the #1 rated (Trip Advisor) restaurant in Pacific Harbour, Seduce at the Pearl, a luxury resort.  

On Christmas Day we’ll return to the Pearl for the Christmas lunch buffet at the Riviera Restaurant. Yesterday, I booked the reservation, paying the required 50% deposit over the phone. We haven’t decided on New Year’s Eve with no specific festivities as yet posted. 

Leaving us with approximately 13 nights to cook, six of which we’ll have roasted chickens for which I’ll prepare a variety of side dishes, our grocery list really boils down to the equivalent of two week’s grocery shopping. Each week, we’ll head to Arts Village to pick up the chickens as we’re doing today with a stop at the nearby vegetable stand to fill in what we’ll need.

With every day’s meals and dining out plans on my online calendar, it’s easy to ensure we’ll have enough on hand, leaving little unused food behind. In Fiji, steaks and roasts are tough. Mince beef and pork, chicken and canned Pacific wild-caught salmon (for me) and tuna (for Tom) from which we make two separate salads with celery, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and homemade dressing. These are the only main dish options that work for both of us. The mince works well with other ingredients for a dozen or so recipes we alternate depending on available ingredients.

We often spot the lali in Fiji, the wood hand carved ceremonial announcement bell.

We don’t purchase locally caught fish when we’ve heard and read online that much of the fish caught is done so in the toxic reefs close to the shore. Considerable sewage disposal goes into the ocean here.  No, thank you for the fish. (Most restaurants purchase seafood from suppliers which are often imported).

With the limited cooking options for our way of eating and the availability of great restaurants in this area, we’re happy to dine out a few times each week. 

On Saturday night, I felt like a kid in a candy store when we dined out, not due to the fact that I didn’t have to cook, but more so due to being out among people, the fanfare, the special meals prepared for me, and the pleasant surroundings. 

Other than Tom’s upcoming birthday dinner at the fancy restaurant which will be more expensive, I doubt we’ll spend more than FJD $100, USD $46.83 on any single occasion dining out even with a beer for Tom and Fiji water for me. With taxi fare relatively low cost, it’s a no brainer for us.

Pool table and bar at the Uprising Beach Resort.

With the grocery list on a handy app on my phone for tomorrow big shopping trip and today’s return trip to Art Village to wander about and to pick up the two roasted chickens, (we called yesterday and placed the order) we’re feeling comfortable that the food situation for our remaining days is in place. 

Of course, if opportunities arise that we decide to dine out on additional occasions, we can forgo one of the chickens on any given day.  We always like to keep our options open with a goal of flexibility.

Another area of planning during this remaining period centers around clothing for the upcoming cruise.  Mine are all washed, hung to dry, and wrinkle-free on hangers in the closet. Thursday, I’ll begin washing all of Tom’s clothing and bleaching all of his “tidy whities” which become greyish when the washing is done by household help.

I’m now the household laundress don’t mix whites and darks if I can help it. At the moment, I’m otherwise totally caught up on laundry with virtually no ironing on the horizon. I haven’t ironed in over three years.

Its common to see “parasitic plants” where coconuts are attached to an earthy structure eventually grow a coconut palm.

Besides food and laundry, we’re in the process of reviewing the required visas we may need over the next year making notes on the calendar as to dates we need to apply online using the cruise line’s recommend CIBT service

It costs a little more to use this and other such services than applying on our own but we’d be highly concerned about shipping our passports while living in a foreign country as opposed to doing it easily online, scanning, and sending documents by email.

Sadly, many senior travelers, unfamiliar with using the Internet burden themselves with copying and mailing all their documents including their passports to various consulates in order to acquire visas when any of it may be lost in the mail or stuck sitting on someone’s desk. 

If any of our readers find they need help using such a service, asking anyone of the younger generation could easily solve the problem when they’ve grown up with iPads, smartphones, and computers on their laps. In today’s world, it’s astounding what even a six-year-old can accomplish online.

Tom, at dinner, looking forward to his first beer in many months. Although, finally having some “starch” including bread and fries was more on his mind.

Also, if you need further reassurance from us, please don’t hesitate to contact us by posting a comment at the end of any day’s post or by clicking the email link at the top right of the post. Other than travel days, we’ll reply within 12 hours at most (due to the time difference).

In an hour, our driver will collect us for the drive to the Art Village. It’s a 45-minute walk each way which we could manage but who wants to carry two greasy chickens and a few other items in the heat and humidity attracting flies and mosquitoes? At a taxi fare of no more than FJD $10, USD $4.68 for the round trip, it’s worth it.

Living this life requires planning.  Moving every one to three months is a daunting task. Moving on and off every two or fewer weeks on cruises is also challenging. 

Although we don’t have to move furniture and household goods it does require forethought and careful planning. It’s necessary to condense every material item we own to fit into three suitcases, one duffel bag, one computer bag, and one yellow Costco bag. 

As we peruse everything sitting out at this point, we’re always in awe of how it manages to fit in those few bags. My cruise clothing consisted of one medium load washed in cold water with one hand washed item. Tom’s won’t be much more. For us, our limited supply of “stuff” elicits a sense of satisfaction over what we’ve been willing to let go of. How we’ve changed that way!

We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos posting before we depart at 11:00 am for the day in Suva, the capital city of the Fiji Islands. For those of you on the other side of the International Dateline, have a fabulous Monday and for the rest of the world, enjoy Tuesday! 

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2014:

Grandsons Jayden and Nik checking out the roaring surf outside the vacation rental in the Big Island of Hawai’i. For more details, please click here.

Vacation rental horror story…More horrific news for tourists to Bangkok…

The drive to Smithfield Regional Park which we visited yesterday was pleasant. The day started out sunny quickly changing to clouds and sprinkles.

Each morning as I begin the day’s post, we turn on the news to see what’s happening in the world. This morning, we were shocked and devastated by the news of a bombing close to the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand which was crowded with tourists at the time, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 120. The full story and videos may be seen here.

As we discussed over the past few days, one can never be too careful. We’ll be in Thailand a year from now and since I’d been there in the past (before Tom), I felt there was no need for us to stop in Bangkok, a highly congested city plagued with crime. Instead, we’ll be flying directly to the island of Phuket.

We didn’t stop at the bungee jumping spot (spelled this way in Australia as compared to bungee in other countries). 

Sadly, Phuket wasn’t safe for tourists in 2004 when it was hit by a devastating tsunami killing over 5000 people, many of them tourists staying in oceanfront properties along the exquisite beaches.

With caution in mind, the beautiful vacation property, we selected is a few miles from the ocean. Also, with prices high close to the beach, we had two reasons to stay inland a bit. We’ll visit the beaches at our discretion. 

Many of the trails are designated for mountain bikers requiring a quick jump to the side when a biker appears.

The story Tom discovered a few days ago, spotted in the New York Times newspaper reminded us once again that the reality of booking vacation rentals online presents certain risks in itself. 

Of course, this particular story is an isolated case. A similar situation could easily occur in any apartment building complex anywhere in the world, whether it was a vacation rental or a long term apartment rental.

We stopped and talked to a pair of mountain bikers who’d stopped by the check out the trails before bringing their bikes back for the miles of trails.

Here’s a portion of the story and a link to the balance you’ll find by clicking here:

“Airbnb Horror Story Points to Need for Precautions

Early in the evening of July 4, Micaela Giles’s mobile phone started sounding alerts, and a series of messages straight out of a horror movie began scrolling down her screen.
Her 19-year-old son told her that his Airbnb host in Madrid had locked him in the fourth-floor apartment where he was supposed to be staying and removed the key. The host was still there, he said, rattling knives around in the kitchen drawer and pressing him to submit to a sexual act. He begged his mother for help.
When she called Airbnb, its employees would not give her the address and would not call the police. Instead, they gave her a number to the Madrid police and told her to ask the police to call the company for the address. But the number led to a recording in Spanish that kept disconnecting her, she said, and when she repeatedly called back her Airbnb contact, the calls went straight to voice mail.
According to her son, Jacob Lopez, he was sexually assaulted that night. Eventually, he persuaded his host to free him. He returned home to Massachusetts and is in trauma therapy.”
The remainder of this story continues here.
As shown in the remainder of this story at the above link, Airbnb was unsure as to how to handle this situation.  Hopefully, by now, some new procedures are in place that may have averted this horrible situation by prompting the police to the property immediately. This never should have happened.
We walked into the park for awhile, eventually turning back when we realized the trails weren’t as suitable for walking as opposed to mountain biking.
We’ve used Airbnb a few times, but have shied away from it since they require the full amount of the vacation rental paid at the time of the booking as opposed to paying a deposit and paying the balance at a later date. Supposedly, they are revising this policy to make it more user friendly, which would make it more appealing to us.
This is one of the reasons we don’t like renting apartments as many travelers prefer, finding the cost of an apartment less than a condo, townhouse, or single-family home. The proximity of public transportation and access to popular tourist site is highly appealing to many travelers.
The sky was overcast when we arrived at the park.

Younger travelers often prefer to be in the hubbub of the big city. For us, a suburb or the country is ideal for us, as is the case living here in Trinity Beach with a current population of under 5000. 

Even, the bigger city of  Cairns, 20 minutes south of Trinity Beach, has a population of 156,000, not a huge metropolis by any means. Tom always says, “The closer you get to tall buildings, the more likely to find crime, poverty, and increased risk.”
At points, the trail was cleared of debris, but at other points, mountain biker enthusiasts would be in for quite a ride.
Our style of living tends to keep us away from tall buildings as much as possible although we’ve encountered our fair share over these past three years. As for the above traveler’s experience, traveling alone in a big city, he fell prey to greater risk based on location and circumstances.
In reality, there are definitely certain locations and circumstances that add to the risk of crime for tourists.  With all of our precautions, we could easily be a target in the most seemingly innocuous locations.
In the US these shops are referred to as auto body shops. Here in Australia, they are called smash repairs. We love the differences!
Luckily, for us, we find the most joy in our travels in quieter less populated locations far from tall buildings.  However, exposure to increased risk may be unavoidable such as the case of our upcoming river cruise in Vietnam where we’ll be staying in hotels in big cities and dining out for a few weeks before and during the cruise/tour. We chose to take these risks although the likelihood of an incident is relatively slim.
Also, the fact that we don’t visit nightclubs and seldom visit bars added to the fact that we seldom wander dark streets at night adds another layer of safety.  Had we been younger, these types of venues may have been more desirable. We both easily recall the fun times we had “nightclubbing” in our younger years. 
I don’t drink alcohol at all (health reasons) and Tom has little interest in having a cocktail other than when we’re on a cruise (along with partaking in the vast array of foods he doesn’t otherwise enjoy). This fact alone, generally keep us out of bars and the resulting higher risk scenarios of leaving the bar and walking to one’s car or grabbing a taxi at night in the dark.
As we exited we spotted this site which appeared to be used for dumping the debris on the trail.  We’ve found parks in Australia to be well maintained.
Are we the typical overly cautious senior couple?  In some ways, we are. But in other ways, adventure which may include a certain degree of risk, is the highlight of our lives and some of our best experiences. 
As for how we’ll handle vacation rentals going forward? We’ll handle the booking process and eventual occupancy, in the same manner, we have thus far, with a degree of caution coupled with an expectation of a good outcome.
Have a good day!
Photo from one year ago, August 17, 2014:
 While in London (and Paris) we had no choice but to walk the streets at night (we were in fairly safe South Kensington) or grabbing a taxi to return to our hotel in the dark. Spending an entire month in these two large cities left us with no option other than to dine out for every meal. This photo was of a sign posted at our reserved table at Andover Arms in London, one of the best restaurants we experienced in our travels. Please click this link for more photos of our fabulous meal and evening.

Results from doctor appointments…Tom’s appointment is next…Cruise updates…

Nothing is as beautiful as a sunny day at the beach.

Alive and well after three years without having a physical exam, I am relieved most of it is over. Aside from a few remaining tests that we expect to be fine, I am thrilled its almost over and all is well.

A huge contemporary house near the beach.

On Monday, Tom begins the process, with his first appointment at the clinic. When all is said and done, including all tests the cost will be under US $800, AUD $1031 for both of us, not bad considering all is paid out of pocket when we only have major medical/hospitalization insurance.

Actually, our fixed monthly budget included a monthly estimate for medical of US $50, AUD $68 which we’ve never used except for the trip to urgent care in Kauai. When all is said and done all of these appointments and expenses are covered by that estimate, almost to the penny.

A contemporary house at Holloways Beach.

With continued good health, we plan to wait for another check-up in three years from wherever we may be at the time. Most likely, it won’t be in the US when we’re there in the summer of 2017. 

Another large home at Holloways Beach.

Costs of medical care are approximately four times higher in the US (out of pocket) as compared to what we’ve paid in Australia. There are good medical facilities in most areas of the world where we’ll be living in the next three years so we have no concern at this point.

Yesterday, when we arrived for my 3:00 pm appointment at Apple Tree Medical in Smithfield, I was disappointed to discover my last physician Dr. Natasha was out sick. Instead, I met with Dr. Konny Komlovari whom I found to be equally competent, warm, and friendly. Their onsite lab makes blood tests easy to arrange and process.

A small park at Holloway’s Beach.

Next month, we’ll make our dental appointments leaving all of this medical stuff behind. Thanks to all of our readers who encouraged us to get all of these done and out of the way. It was good advice.

As for the three cruises we reserved over the weekend, last night at 10 pm we spoke to our new rep at Vacationstogo.com, Brooklyn Earnhardt, who is highly experienced and capable. We both felt comfortable and assured that she’ll do a great job for us for these three cruises and all future bookings.

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

We’d gone ahead and reserved the three cruises with Royal Caribbean over the weekend. Now, we’re in the process of transferring them over to our new agent, Brooklyn which can be done within 60 days of booking with the cruise line. 

In transferring the cruises to VTG we are able to use our own agent and agency for receiving various cabin credits that the cruise line itself may not offer. Plus, they receive their usual commissions. This type of loyalty is important to us. Relationship building is vital to our success in booking various aspects of our travels.

Tom looking out the sea undercover at the beach.

In yesterday’s post, we mentioned sharing a little info on our itinerary for these three new cruises which we’re summarizing here. Soon, as we’ve mentioned we’ll include our new updated itinerary

1.  Sydney to Perth: October 31, 2016, 16 days

2.  Perth to Sydney:  November 16, 2016 (back to back above the same cruise, same cabin number) 17 days

The above 33-day back-to-back cruise circles the entire continent of Australia, with multiple ports of call enabling us to see considerable sites along the way.

3.  Sydney to Seattle:  September 22, 2017, 24 days, crossing back over the International Dateline, arriving in the US on May 15, 2017

During these above three cruises, we’ll visit such new cities as:

  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Darwin, Australia
  • Benoa, Bali
  • Geraldton, Australia
  • Perth, Australia
  • Esperance, Australia
  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Dunedin (Port Chalmers) New Zealand
  • Akaroa, New Zealand
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Picton, New Zealand
  • Il Des Pines, New Calendonia (we missed visiting this port on our recent cruise due to rough seas)
  • Noumea, New Calendonia
  • Mystery Island, Vanuatu
  • Cross the International Dateline (getting our lost day back)

The last of the three cruises breezes through Hawaii on the way to Seattle, Washington, USA, stopping at Kona (Big Island, Hawaii), Lahaina (Maui), and Honolulu (Oahu). By that time, it will have been almost two years since we lived in Hawaii. 

Park at the beach with a covered area.

Besides these three above new cruises we booked in the past few days, we previously booked three other cruises in Australia, details of which we’ve shared online in past posts. A few of the ports of call are repeated on these other cruises but here are some of the highlights of the new locations we’ll have yet to see:

  • Hobart, Tasmania
  • Tauranga, New Zealand
  • Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  • Auckland, New Zealand (where we stay for 90 days in a nearby village)
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Singapore, Republic of Singapore
  • Lifou, New Caledonia
  • Lautoka, Fiji

These 23 ports of call plus some repeats of others we’ll have previously visited  (not listed here today) are all new to us in our world travels. This gives us an additional opportunity to see as much as we wanted to see in the South Pacific in almost two years including this relatively short period of time of 97 days aboard ship on these six cruises.  

This house near the beach could be anywhere in the world, utilizing the benefits of solar power.

During these periods we’ll be housed, fed, and entertained aboard the various ships with the opportunity to socialize each and every day. By the time we head to Seattle, we’ll feel confident we’ve thoroughly scoured the South Pacific to our liking.

Over the next year, we’ll be deciding on how much time we’ll spend during our relatively short visit to the US in 2017 and begin booking vacation homes and cruises for our next foray to an upcoming new continent. 

As always, we’re excited as to our future choices while we’re thoroughly “loving the one we’re with!”

Happy Monday or Tuesday to all!

                                                Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2014:

Colorful steps at an elementary school in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, one year ago today. For details and more photos, please click here.

When all the sightseeing is said and done…What do we do for entertainment?…All new photos…

Every Friday night, we see Norwegian’s Pride of America ship after leaving the port in Nawiliwili, Kauai.  It sails along the Napali Coast and then turns back toward Honolulu where the seven day cruises end on Saturday morning at 7 am to depart again on a new cruise that evening at 7:00 pm.

We’ve fairly well exhausted most of the possible sightseeing adventures in Kauai that appeals to our senses, level of fitness and interests.

With no house to maintain, no garden to tend, no grass to cut, no weeds to pull, no barbecue parties to host in the yard and no family functions to attend, what could we possibly do to entertain ourselves during our 27 remaining days on the island of Kauai?

New photo of one of our favorite views in Kauai, the mountains and sea at Hanalei Bay.

Our average day consists of doing the requisite loads of laundry, cleaning the small condo, washing windows, preparing meals and grocery shopping every five days or so and on occasion making a trip to the Healthy Hut in Kilauea. 

At night we dine and watch a few favorite downloaded TV shows or even a few shows that are on the TV, such as tonight’s AD The Bible and tomorrow evening’s Dancing with the Stars. In some ways our lives are not unlike that of many other retirees worldwide who live in condos or apartments.

Colorful orchid bloom.

But, in many ways, we have more free time based on the above-mentioned items and more. With a rental car, we don’t even have the occasional obligation of having the oil changed or performing general maintenance. We never have a doctor, dentist, or eye doctor appointment.

Tom says he doesn’t have to chase the geese off the lawn. Instead, he spends the better portion of each day chasing the pigeons off the lanai railing to make way for the feeding nuts to our favorite birds who visit several times each day. In a funny way, our preoccupation with the same familiar birds stopping by occupies a portion of our time, calling them, watching them, and laughing at their antics.

Beautiful overlook.

I no longer spend endless hours in the kitchen chopping, cooking, and baking for us, for family and friends, foods that no longer suits our way of eating, for those who are no longer a short distance away, spending the better part of the day stopping by with a delivery of some delectable plate or pan of something that I’d made to share. Those days are long gone.

Instead, I spend each morning from the time I’m up showered and dressed for the day, hair fixed with makeup on, ready to tackle the world, sitting at my computer writing, editing and posting. Usually, I begin by 7:00 or 7:30 and end anywhere from 10:30 to noon. 

Sunset last night. 

During this period, Tom assists me by researching past posts for links and other information I may be posting that particular day. When done assisting me, he perused his favorite websites such as Facebook, news, financial markets, and of course, his passion, Ancestry.com.

As soon as the post is uploaded we often head to the Makai Golf Course which is listed as one of the world’s five most scenic golf courses. We head to the pool and fitness center where we’ll usually find Richard and Larry. 

The overlook at the Hanalei Wildlife Refuse where one can see the world’s largest taro fields.

As mentioned in past posts, we never spend more than 45 minutes in the sun all the while chatting with our friends as we acquire a good dose of Vitamin D. Doing so for 20 minutes a day without the use of sunscreen may prevent the necessity of taking Vitamin D supplements, a necessity for bone health for seniors. This avoids the necessity of hauling several more bottles of vitamins in our already heavy luggage. (It’s important to gradually work up to the 20 minutes by tanning for 10 minutes on each side to avoid sunburn).

Several times each week after the pool we stop to visit the albatross, the grocery store, or visit a local farmer’s market. At other times, we drive for awhile looking for new photo ops, later to return home to change back into our clothes and head out for a walk. By the time we return from the walk, it’s often 2:30 pm as the day quickly moves along. 

One of Kauai’s most popular overlooks.

Had we been retired and living our old lives, on occasion we’d have made a trip to Home Depot, a local nursery, or Costco. Returning home, we’d have had “stuff” to put away, projects to start, a garden to tend, or a meal to prepare for arriving family or friends. The day would have easily become filled with activities.

We’re never disappointed when we stop for photos at this amazing spot.

A few evenings a week, we have social plans. We stay home the remainder of the, watching for a brilliant sunset and enjoying our evenings as if every night is a playful Saturday night. Add in a good meal and at times, a movie and what more could we want? Never bored, we relish each moment as new and interesting.

Red Lipstick Tree branches.

Often on a daily basis, there’s tons of email to reply to, banking and finances to handle and plans for the future to investigate. We’ve found ourselves tackling what may have felt like a task in the past, as now being a pleasant experience. Perhaps, the lack of hustle and bustle in our lives makes paying bills online kind of fun.

On top of our simple daily lives, we both enjoy reading; me, an occasional novel but, mostly scientific studies, health, nutrition and medicine, and Tom, international intrigue and espionage novels and biographies of people he’s admired and respected over the years.

Cattle Egrets are commonly found near excavation areas, golf courses, lawn mowing, and gardening areas. They hang around these specific areas in hopes of worms and bugs being brought to the surface. We always laugh over seeing dozens of these birds at excavation sites.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our current reading list. We’d love to hear from any of our readers who may have suggestions for reading material they’ve found interesting that may appeal to us. How fun would that be!

May your Sunday be relaxing and fulfilling whatever you decide to do!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2014:

It wasn’t uncommon to find orange trees growing in restaurants in Marrakech when most restaurants were built, similar to our riad, with an open-air center courtyard. For details from that date as our time in Morocco was winding down, please click here.

Part 2…The Louvre…What can we say?…It was all we’d imagined and more…Tomorrow, Part 3, with Venus de Milo!

In taking this photo from a window, I later thought it was a painting. But, it was a photo I took.

Yesterday morning, we canceled the trip to Notre Dame. After a horrible night’s sleep of only three hours on Sunday, I just don’t have the energy to climb 22 flights of stairs up the Cathedral and then walk for an entire day. 

In this photo you can see a reflection of a statue behind me and also, me taking the photo.

Sunday night, at a nearby restaurant where we had an awful meal, in a desperate attempt at something different to drink, I ordered a Coke Zero which I rarely do. I’d given up drinking soda a long ago.

Whatever happened to figurines such as these, that our grandmothers had on a Fhyfe table in the living room next to the sofa.

The caffeine from the Coke Zero coupled with several cups of tea later in the day kept me awake, not falling asleep until 3:00 am, awakening at 6:00 am. After a good night’s sleep last night, I’m raring to go and we’ll be back out again today.

These cups and saucers reminded Tom of a set he’d had that belonged to his mother that was over 100 years old.  He saved it in a tote with other memorabilia that he left with family to later give to the grandchildren. It may not have been valued as much as these shown, but, it was fun to compare.

I believe Sunday’s post may have included more photos than we’ve posted in any of over 700 posts. There may have been more when we were on safari in Kenya or on a busy “visitors” day in Marloth Park.

More familiar looking dinnerware.

Loading more than 10 photos per post presents problems with editing, increasing posting time by almost double. How could we not share the number of photos we’ve been posting in Paris? Please bear with us if the formatting is less than perfect, particularly in paragraph spacing.

This pattern was similar to a set of dishes I’d purchased years ago, that were well over 100 years. We sold the set to friend Peggy, knowing they’d be in good hands.

With over 80 remaining photos to share, we’ll be adding Part 3, the Louvre for Wednesday. As I go through the remaining photos deciding what I could leave out it’s impossible to decide. 

Small jewelry boxes created with the finest of detail.

As a result, posting the Louvre on Wednesday, especially convenient when we didn’t do the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, will wrap up that segment leaving days for sightseeing which we’ll commence again today.

Another room with royal treasures.

The Louvre is a complex place. One could visit every day for a year finding something new each day. For a scholar intent on studying the complexity of the Louvre, it would be a daunting task.

Clocks are a common theme in several modern art areas of the museum.
Perhaps an official or a self-portrait.

For us, neophyte photographers that we are, and seldom art aficionados, the undertaking is pure pleasure combined with curiosity. However, this website is not intended as a scholarly journal. 

Stained glass windows.

Instead, it’s the telling of an ongoing tale of two semi-retired 60 something’s with few aspirations beyond the exciting lifestyle associated with that “telling.” 

More exquisite stained glass windows.

Many blog writers have dreams of writing books, making public appearances while itching for a certain degree of notoriety. Not us.

Could these be compasses with only one hand?

Many world travelers, some similar to us, have embarked on book writing campaigns with TV appearances, book signings, tours of their native country, and beyond. That’s not for us. At times, we’ve discussed writing a book. (How easy it could be when we already have the outline here online!). 

Pocket watches.

But, as we’ve observed a few other world travelers similar to us in ways, on news programs, dressed in business wear, hair, and makeup was done by the network, we cringe at the thought. 

Art is more symbolic than literal to be interpreted by the beholder, as in the case in these beautiful pieces.
Mother and daughter.

We have no interest in traveling across the US to go from bookstore to bookstore, signing and smiling until our hands and faces hurt to promote a book. We want to live the contents of what such a book would tell, not tell about such a book.

Religious connotation.

For many years, I promised myself I’d write a book. Now, as the book industry rapidly changes from paper to digital, the profits have been diminished and it just wouldn’t be worth it. If someone offered me one million dollars today to give this up, I wouldn’t accept it.

As we peered outside there didn’t appear to be many visitors in the courtyard.  Most of them were already inside trying to take photos of the more popular works of art.

Happiness is happiness. Why would one sell out happiness for money? Sure, peace of mind about money is nice. We have that as long as we continue to follow our budget. Does more peace of mind guarantee more happiness?  I doubt it.

Heaven and earth?

After a few days, the knowledge of having more money settles into the familiarity zone and in no time, the quality of the life one had before the money seeps back in. If one was happy then and is happy with the new life the money dictates, then all is well.

Ladies playing cards.

For us, an advance on a book would mean pressures of time and effort I don’t feel we want to give, especially the contractual piece about promoting the book in bookstores and on TV. No thanks.

Could this be a card reader?

I don’t know what this has to do with the Louvre. Perhaps it revolves around the fact that we make every effort to create an appealing story with photos each day with “literally” no ulterior motives, no priming for a book deal, or notoriety. Its basis is a pure and simple pleasure.

Are these smaller boats “tenders” of that era, taking passengers out to the ships?

This legacy in words and photos for our grandchildren and for generations to come in leaving this adventure behind also provides us with great joy. Knowing that we have almost 200,000 readers worldwide (by the time we leave here on Saturday) gives us all the satisfaction that we’ll ever need.

We loved the depth in this painting.
We spotted this man drawing from a painting on the wall.

We hope that through our stories and photos that readers may find a morsel that appeals to them, piquing their interest and inspiring them. Some of our readers write saying that they “travel along with us in spirit.

This farm scene with goats was located in the Nordic area of the museum.
From the romantic period.

Such words from our readers mean more to us than any mandatory book tour or a chunk of money we’d add to our safety net, forgetting about it in a few days or weeks.

This is Queen Marie de Medici by Frans Pourbus.
A man and his dog.

As we continue to write about the Louvre, we smile at the reality that we aren’t into sightseeing and Tom’s not into walking. Although, that’s all we’ve been doing since we arrived 12 days ago with over 35 miles, 56 kilometers, logged in the first eight days.  Surely, we’ll walk many more miles.

Enjoy these additional photos of the Louvre today, finalizing tomorrow in Part 3 with excellent crowd-free photos of the Venus de Milo.

Happy Tuesday!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2013:

A year ago, I wrote describing this book I’d read while in Tuscany about how we as humans can spend too much time sitting and how destructive long periods of sitting are to our health. For details from that day, please click here.

Annual celebration in Campanario…Videos and photos…Daylight fireworks…Four days until departure….

We took these two videos around 1:00 pm on Saturday as the cloud rolled in and the sound of the fireworks reverberated through the hills.
It was fun to see the results of the shooting fireworks in the hills of Campanario as the town prepared to celebrate the religious holiday, Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento.

Driving in Campanario at different times during this past week, we’ve noticed areas where street lamps were decorated and colorful banners draped across the roads near the church. 

Busy preparations surrounded the church in Campanario as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday’s religious festivities.

The closer we drove to the local Catholic church, it was obvious, some type of celebration was on the horizon. I had little luck finding out information about the celebration online, finally sending Gina an email for an answer.

She responded in her most endearing broken English that last night was the annual “Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento,” (feast of the blessed bleeding) also known as “Festa do Senhor Jesus” (feast of the Lord Jesus).  

Workers decorated archways over the road consisting of evergreen branches.

With the lack of parking in the area around the church, it was evident that the only way to partake in the festivities would be to have someone drop us off or walk the very long distance from our house to the church with trips through a long tunnel each way, not an ideal spot for walking. 

Instead, we opted to watch from our veranda as much as we’d be able to hear and see. We found this website that lists all the religious celebrations in Madeira, of which there are many throughout the year.

These roads leading to the church were decorated with lights and garland.

As we wind down our time in Madeira, we find ourselves comfortable staying in except for an occasional trip to the supermarket or the little grocer. As of today, we’ll have consumed the last of the meat in the freezer leaving us with a choice of dining out or having one last favorite meal over the next three nights.

With no opportunity to cook for the upcoming 77 days of travel, we’ve decided to make our favorite dinner, the usual gluten and starch-free, low carb pizza one last time, cooking it fresh over the next three nights as opposed to cooking it all at once and reheating it. 

Local citizens mulling around the area chatting and smoking amid the workers preparing for the big event.

With a quick trip to the supermarket tomorrow for a few remaining ingredients to be added to the several ingredients we already have on hand, we’ll be set for meals until we leave early Thursday morning.

Had we gone to the feast, there would have been few, if any, items I could have had when starch, flour, and sugar are commonly used in many popular Portuguese dishes. 

As we drove away from the church we spotted these flowers.

In these past three years, I haven’t made one exception in my diet, not a single bite. I’m not about to start faltering now when it’s my good health that has made our travels possible. 

Today, a warm sunny day will draw me outdoors for another walk up the steep hill. With a slight touch of melancholy as I huff and puff my way up the hill, I’ll accept that we’ll soon say goodbye to this beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal as we make our way to our next adventure.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2013:

Lisa and Lucca, owners of the 300-year-old stone house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, stapled cloth netting to cover a few of the windows to reduce the number of flies entering the house. It was hot and we couldn’t keep the windows shut for another day. The wind blew the fabric from the three windows they’d covered and only a few days later, we had biting flies in the house again. I resorted to wearing my BugsAway long pants and long sleeve shirt to keep from getting bit when I couldn’t find any insect repellent at any of the stores. For details from that date, please click here.

Oh no, water trouble…

This morning, with another sunny day upon us, I took this photo of the various boats available for resort guests to use. They were moved near our veranda over the weekend to make room further down the beach for a wedding.

Late afternoon on Easter Sunday, a notice was delivered to our villa that there were issues with the water supply in Placencia.  The letter asked that we use as little water as possible stating the water wasn’t fit for consumption until further notice.

Oh no!  Not again!  Luckily, we could flush and shower!  That’s a huge relief. 

It was no fault of our resort, we were sympathetic to the difficulty this presented to the staff at LaruBeya with a full house over the busy spring break/Easter week. They dropped off one liter of bottled water to get us through. Last night we received two more liters. Rationing.

Three liters in two days. We usually consume two liters each, per day. It takes over one liter to fill the coffee pot with an equal amount for my tea. As of this morning, there still was no word as to the water being fit for consumption. Soon, we’ll head to the office to check on the availability of more bottled water and ask when the water would be potable. 

Easter is celebrated over a period of five days in Belize.  That time was yet to end, surely having an effect on the water service to the area running properly.

Oddly, we had three water experiences in the four months since we left the US on January 3, 2013:

1.  January 3, 2013, Celebrity Century:  The afternoon we boarded the ship, our cabin toilet overflowed pouring gallons of water all over the tiny bathroom floor Luckily, the rim in the doorway prevented the water from flowing into our cabin.  The toilet wouldn’t flush.  Maintenance was quick to respond making the repair.  With a weak sounding flush we were tentative about the toilet during the entire 15 day cruise as it “acted up” from time to time, no fault of ours.  Later, we heard about toilet issues on the news regarding the two Carnival cruises with sewage running down the hallways.  One week from today we’ll board the Carnival Liberty with a bit of trepidation, rightfully so.
2.  January 29, 2013:  the little beach house water issues (again a result of local water issues) resulting in our moving one week later to LaruBeya.
3.  March 31, 2013, Easter Sunday:  Toilet works (yeah!), shower works (don’t swallow the water) and don’t drink the water for two or more days, yet to be determined.

Without wheels, we can hardly go to a store to purchase water. Plus, we don’t want to pay as much as $20 plus a tip for a cab when at any moment, it could become safe to drink again. The two-mile walk in the heat to and from Seine Bight to buy water would be difficult while carrying jugs of water. We’re not that fit! We don’t want to ask for more water since we aren’t the only guests here. 

Not soda drinkers and now out of our Crystal Lite iced tea (no water to make it), I have yet to make my hot tea today, a morning ritual after downing my usual single cup of coffee. 

Using a touch of our remaining bottled water this morning to brush our teeth, rinse our toothbrushes, and take our vitamins, we used the balance to make a short pot of coffee.  At least the toilet flushes, we can shower and wash our hands.

This is our fate. The familiar taken-for-granted utilities of everyday life in the US are gone.  Last week, the electricity was out twice, each time for more than a few hours, again affecting the entire Placencia peninsula. The resort’s generators were fired up a few hours later until the service resumed, later in the day.

The cable TV goes out several times each day. Every Sunday morning for years, we’ve made an effort to be up and dressed in order to watch Tom’s favorite show, Sunday Morning. This Sunday the cable was out until the last 30 minutes of the show. In Africa, we won’t have any US shows, only reruns of such shows as the Flying Nun, I Love Lucy, and Hollywood Squares.  We’ll adapt.  

As I was writing this, as Tom was taking out the garbage, Rene the concerned and conscientious general manager, handed Tom four liters of water.   Earlier, I had gone to the office to gently request more, if it was available.  Elated, we’re satisfied that this will get us through today. 

Yesterday, I packed most of my clothes from the drawers and the closet.  Today, I’ll pack Tom’s clothes.  Our bags to be shipped to my sister in LA will be completely packed by Friday.  Tom suggested I include all of my high heeled shoes placing them into the bags-to-go.  They take up too much space anyway Perhaps, I’m getting too old for high heeled shoes. 

I’ll keep two pairs of heels, one black, one to match my fancy dress for formal nights on the various cruises.  I’ll keep my water shoes, boots for Africa, workout shoes, multiple pairs of comfy sandals, and white leather Keds, leaving a total of eight pairs to keep. (Remember, we don’t have a home to go back to repack for the next leg of our trip. That which we have with us).

Today, I feel a little anxious. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. But, old habits, die hard. Tom’s anxious too.  I can tell. He’s worried about our zillion pieces of luggage getting on the tender, out to the ship. I reassure him that soon, we’ll be much lighter. I chose not to worry about that part.   

Instead, my thoughts again swirl around the scary four-hour drive on the Hummingbird Highway. The van’s AC doesn’t reach the back seat and the windows don’t open. I was wrought with fear each time the driver passed a car on the narrow two-lane highway with poor visibility as he maneuvered the winding mountainous roads. The heat, the high-speed drive, the lack of airflow, the bouncy ride in the older van is the part I don’t like. It was a “white knuckle” drive for almost the entire four hours. I didn’t complain. I won’t complain this time either.

I’m running out of contact lens solution, placing a few drops as possible in each space in the case at night.  Unable to wash the case these past few days due to the potential for bacteria in the water, I’ve used bottled water placing the case in a mug in the microwave until boiling, letting it soak for a few hours.

The remaining solution must last until we get on the ship in seven days.  Surely, they’ll have a pricey little bottle I’ll happily buy, enough to last until April 13th, the day we arrive in Miami when we can restock at our planned trip to a nearby Walgreen or CVS pharmacy.

Challenges? Yes. In the realm of life itself, these events are insignificant and meaningless, especially when one looks back at a later time. Very small. But for now, we’ll allow ourselves a little worry and apprehension. Life is filled with a constant flow of inconveniences, annoyances, and apprehension. 

Having left our old lives behind for this year’s long journey surely doesn’t make us exempt from any of the trivialities of daily life.  In reality, we have upped our exposure with the vast opportunities for the “unknown” wherever we may travel.

The sense of relief at the other end is often comparable to making up with a loved one after a horrible disagreement. Its tender, its sweet and one appreciates having survived.