The challenges of dining out in Arizona…Ultimately, weather-related reasons…

When we visited friends Kathy and Don in Pretoria, South Africa, one year ago, we visited this monument, the Voortrekker Monument, an unusual-looking structure located in Pretoria, South Africa. When I walked up all these steps (not all steps we tackled are shown in the photo) without getting out of breath or having any health issues. A little over a month later, I had open-heart surgery with three main arteries 100% blocked. Who knew? For more photos from this date, please click here.

Let’s face it, many of the patrons of restaurants in the area are seniors, based on varying stats online from several sites, none of which I will quote based on this variable.

But, overall, it appears approximately 25% or more of the population of Arizona consists of “snowbirds,” those who migrate to the state during the colder winter months from other parts of the US and other countries.

Some have moved here to live year-round, even with the sweltering summers in the Arizona desert. Some have chosen to live in cooler summer temperatures, such as stated here from this news article at this site:

“When the temperatures heat up in the Valley, many head north to escape the heat, but where is the coolest place to go?

Let’s start with a popular destination, Flagstaff. On average, in July, the afternoon high temperatures are 25 degrees cooler compared to Phoenix. In perspective, the average high temperature in Phoenix during July is 106 degrees, while Flagstaff comes in at a cool 81 degrees. 

While Sedona is also a popular place to escape the heat in the Valley of the Sun, it is on average only about 10 degrees cooler compared to Phoenix.
So where is one of the coolest places in Arizona to go to escape the heat? That would be Greer, coming in with an average high temperature for July of only 76 degrees! 

That is, on average, 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix.
Here are a few other northern Arizona locations, along with their average high temperatures during the month of July:

Grand Canyon: 86°
Holbrook: 93°
Payson: 91°
Prescott: 89°
Show Low: 86°
Williams: 83°
Winslow: 95°”

Here are the average temperatures in Apache Junction during the summer months:

“Apache Junction, AZ
Month High / Low
June 103° / 71
July 105° / 78°
August 103° / 76° “
It’s no wonder that most seniors who purchase or rent homes live in Arizona during the cooler winter months. Subsequently, a tremendous number of seniors dining out on any given day/night of the week.
Since we arrived here a month ago (as of tomorrow), we’ve only dined out during lunchtime or by 3:00 pm. These times were busy but not outrageously so.
At 4:30 pm, the seven of us arrived at a popular Italian restaurant, Babbo, located about 10 minutes from here in Mesa. As soon as we walked in the door, we knew we’d have a long wait. People were lined up outside, 90% of whom were seniors, dining out early as most seniors seem to prefer.
Also, seating a table of seven would be tricky when tables would have to be set up specifically to accommodate our small group when most tables and booths were for four diners.
It made no sense to leave to go to another restaurant, since, if the food was good as it is at Babbo, we’d encounter the same scenario at other restaurants mostly attended by seniors. (No reservations are allowed unless made 24 hours in advance which we hadn’t done).
We waited patiently for 45 minutes until we were seated, with our eyes on a table of eight that were eating, hoping they’d leave soon. At such a busy place, it appeared patrons dine and leave shortly thereafter rather than remain in idle conversation.
The smells in the restaurant of freshly baked bread and Italian spices sent me to the moon. But, ahead of time, I’d scoured their online menu to find they had many suitable full meal dinner salads that would work for me.
I ordered a steak and blue cheese salad with walnuts, roasted peppers, and mushrooms. It was delicious. Tom had spaghetti and meatballs, which he seemed to enjoy, along with the warm crusty bread served with dipping oil. The sisters and spouses enjoyed their meals as well.
As busy as the restaurant was, the service was excellent. In no time at all, we forgot about our long wait. By 6:00 pm, we were out the door heading back to the resort.
We spent the evening back at our place, watching a few downloaded shows, relaxing, and later getting a good night’s sleep.
This morning, after receiving a few email messages from the law firm in South Africa, we reviewed the documents, signed as indicated, and asked how we’ll pay for the guaranteed maximum fees. With the time difference, we won’t hear back until tomorrow.
Today is another low-key day. I’ll do my usual walk, and this evening, we’ll cook bone-in chicken breasts on the grill. Yesterday was a blissfully 72-degree day but today, it’s in the 50s and 60s, a little cool to spend much time outdoors.
May your day be blissfully comfortable!

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

Exquisite paintings and tapestries lined a number of walls at The Voortrekker Museum. For more photos, please click here.

“Overstaying our welcome?”…When is too long?…

An old weathered elephant wandering the dry bush on his own. Soon, the rains will come and the vegetation will be lush and green again. It can’t come too soon.

“Sighting of the day in the Bush”

This is Tusker’s girlfriend. It was a very hot day when we took this photo and she showed up covered in mud.  He didn’t seem to mind a bit. After all…pigs…mud…they kind of go together.

Yesterday afternoon when Danie stopped by, as usual, the three of us had a good chat. As often is the case, we couldn’t help but discuss some of the local politics in South Africa and especially in Marloth Park.

Lately, it has become commonplace for us to see lions across the Crocodile River. However, we never will take these sightings for granted.

If it appears this “little piece of paradise” is free from strife, politics, and a variety of outspoken opinions, we’re kidding ourselves. Like anywhere in the world, whether a town, a city, or a tiny village, there are issues and concerns that impact its residents in one way or another.

In most of our world travels, we’ve had little exposure to the political atmosphere other than what we’ve heard from locals as we learn about their culture.  

 It’s not easy to take good photos from such a distance but we continue to try.

However, staying in a country for an entire year (visa extension providing) we haven’t been able to escape frequently hearing and reading about the opinions, ideas, and frustrations of the local people living in this unique environment.  Without a doubt, it had an impact on us.

And, like other municipalities throughout the world, it is not always pleasant.  Having joined several Marloth Park Facebook groups, in order to stay in touch regarding local events, unusual sightings, and concerns, it has been impossible to avoid hearing negative comments. Sadly, isn’t that what people do on social media? Express their good and bad opinions??? 

Busy day to the river.

To tell the truth, hateful comments on any social platform make us cringe. If it weren’t for our need and desire to stay in touch with family and friends, I’d most certainly not have a presence on Facebook. The hatefulness is rampant. Plus, we prefer to avoid attaching any political opinions and ideas to our posts. 

Most days, I post a photo or two on Facebook of recent sightings along with the link to that day’s post so our family and friends can see what we’ve been discovering in our travels. Some of them read our posts and others do not.  That’s up to them.

These types of scenes are so satisfying to encounter.

After reading negative comments regarding many topics regarding Marloth Park, we’ve made an attempt to stay neutral in keeping our opinions to ourselves.  We’ve written a few posts suggesting concerns over the wildlife in the park and how tourists must follow the guidelines for behavior while in the park to preserve and protect the wildlife.

Speeding on the paved and dirt roads has been a serious problem, resulting in the senseless slaughter of wildlife in the park and yes, it makes sense to address this and other safety issues on social media.  

Two friends of Wildebeest Willie stop by now and then when they’ve heard we are generous with the pellets.  Notice the helmeted guineafowl and warthog in the background. They also love pellets. The only animal we’ve seen refuse to go near the pellets are the mongooses. The 30 species of mongoose are mainly carnivores and have no interest in pellets or vegetables we toss.

But many non-wildlife and safety issues have been addressed causing us to step back and realize we cannot get involved. As long as our year here is concerned, we still have no right to get involved. But it’s not always easy to ignore hostile comments and criticism.

The bashing of local businesses has been a sore spot for us. Why not address the issues with the owner of the business directly or the property owner who may not be complying with local ordinances?

A pair of unattached female zebras stopped by in the early evening.

I suppose it’s a part of the worldwide culture that’s evolved today. If you have an opinion, express it whether it hurts someone or not. Yes, we do believe in having conversations face to face on a wide array of issues which we do freely with our close friends.  

Perhaps, even come up with some solutions that may be implemented if taken to the right resources in a professional and organized manner? Ah, but in a perfect world…

Shortly later, another female entered the garden looking for food.

Overall staying in Marloth Park for this extended period has been blissful.  Spending time with our human and animals friends has been indescribable, an experience we’ll never forget and surely miss once we’re gone. 

But, as we discussed with Danie yesterday, staying this long in any country is way too long. After he left, Tom and I discussed this topic further and have decided we will not, unless a medical necessity, stay any longer than three months in any country we visit in the future.

We welcome every visitor except monkeys and baboons who are horribly destructive.

For us, this has been a magical number, long enough to really come to know the area, its people, its culture, and natural beauty but any longer results in us feeling too engaged, too responsible, and too affected by what’s going on.

We decided almost six years ago to embrace the nuances of each country we visit but not to get caught up in the negativity. As much as we’d love to say we “could change the world,” we cannot.  

Zebras usually “eat and run.”

But surely, we can share the beauty, the dignity, and the uniqueness of every special place we chose to visit, sharing it with our worldwide readers each and every day. Thank you for traveling with us!

Happy day!

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

Low-lying morning clouds as seen from the veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…An inquiry from an old friend and long time reader…Artwork in Phuket house…

This is my favorite piece of Thai art. It’s quite large placed above the TV in the living room.

In yesterday’s post we answered the first question posed by longtime friend and reader, Cathy in Minnesota as shown in a statement as below which she’d asked in a private message in Facebook.

With Cathy’s permission I posted her questions as follows:

Cathy wrote:
“So this is my question for you two. Honestly, have you ever gone someplace and after about a couple of weeks wish the stay was shorter? With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor. I just know how painful back problems are from experience.  I read your blog every day.”

As a result, yesterday’s post addressed the first question in detail, particularly as it applies in our current location: “Honestly, have you ever gone someplace and after about a couple of weeks wish the stay was shorter?”

Some of the art work is lopsided on the wall, but we didn’t want to straighten them for fear they’d fall off.

Today, we’re addressing the second question in Cathy’s inquiry: “With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor.”

We chose to break up these two questions, especially since this second question requires a certain amount of comment and reflection that we wanted to share with our readers, many of whom are in our age bracket subsequently more likely to require medical care.

Our reality when we began our travels was the fact that I have a serious spinal condition that is exacerbated by inflammation triggered by certain foods and chemicals. By changing my diet five years ago this month, within a period of three months I was pain free although I still have the condition.

Plus, I was pre-diabetic within months of requiring medication when I started this way of eating and now my blood sugar is normal with these dietary changes. Two major problems were solved by a change in diet. 

Many of these works of art consist of design and texture.

It was these massive improvements in my health that inspired us to travel the world, when prior to the change in diet, the possibility of travel was very limited when I couldn’t sit on a plane for two hours. In these past 46 months, we’ve experienced as much as a 34 hour travel period and though tired at the end as anyone would be, I did fine, pain free.

In the early part of June, slightly over two months ago, I injured my spine in the swimming pool in Bali while walking backwards in a particular exercise feeling fine and pain free. I was using the pool each day as a form of exercise with no health club in the area. 

In June, I accidentally walked into the sharp stone edge where the end of the steps meets the main part of the pool. The second I did this, I knew I was in trouble.  The impact hit me from my neck down to my tailbone. It felt as if I’d been in a car accident.

There is a pair of these, each slightly different.

At first I didn’t say anything to Tom hoping the pain would subside. I didn’t want to worry him. But, by the next day I knew was in big trouble when the pain was awful running from my neck down to my tailbone. 

Having heard stories of horrible medical treatment in the remote area of Bali, I decided to wait it out knowing it could be months until the injury would heal. My arms and legs were working fine convincing me I hadn’t injured my spinal cord itself. 

In time, the pain reminded me of when about eight years ago I had a compression fracture, compounding the pain I already had at the time. It took several months to heal. 

Recently with a lack of good medical care nearby, I made the assumption that again I had a compression fracture which is a very common condition for seniors, even those with less precarious vertebrae than mine.

This style of Buddhist statue is commonly seen in Thailand.

This statement is from a document at the following site from American Family Physicians :

“Vertebral compression fractures affect approximately 25 percent of all postmenopausal women in the United States. The prevalence of this condition steadily increases with advancing age, reaching 40 percent in women 80 years of age. Women diagnosed with a compression fracture of the vertebra have a 15 percent higher mortality rate than those who do not experience fractures. Although less common in older men, compression fractures also are a major health concern in this group. Because the age group of those older than 65 years is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, the incidence of this age-specific fracture is likely to increase.”

Based on the fact that there was no need for surgery, I self treated doing the best I could. What would a doctor do, when only in very rare cases, there’s an impingement on the spinal column (which I didn’t seem to have) during which surgery may be required. 

Rest, hot and cold packs, limited movement with no bending, not spending days laying in bed and the fractures would eventually heal without further incident. Many times I had read that the pain could last for three months or longer in typical cases. I guess I’m a typical case. Had I not experienced this type of injury in the past, I may have been more intent on having x-rays, MRI or CAT scan.

Plus, I determined, that if the fracture was spotted in a scan, what would a doctor do anyway?  Prescribe narcotic pain meds? Not only did I not want to take narcotics for such an extended period I didn’t want to be hauling narcotic meds in our luggage as we travel in a variety of countries. 

This larger statue is located in the kitchen and dining area.

I had one old bottle of painkillers in my luggage with 30 pills (I’d never used any of them) in case of an emergency. During this two plus months I used 10 of the pills when I couldn’t seem to get the pain under control, especially when we were in Singapore and then on the Mekong River cruise, going out on tours. 

Tylenol, Paracetamol, Aleve, Motrin and aspirin haven’t helped at all, even after trying them for weeks. I take nothing now, instead finding a new way to sit, stand and rest using the ice and heat packs to relieve more painful periods. It’s getting better, now only painful during the second half of the day when I may have sat too long, bent over too much or walked too far. It’s a balancing act.

Back to Cathy’s question, “With your back hurting the way it does sometimes do you wish you were closer to a doctor.” 

My answer is clear.  Had we been living in the US I may have gone for an x-ray or MRI, but the ultimate treatment would have been the same except with the addition of pain relieving medications I’d surely have been prescribed of one sort or another. 

Interesting rendition.

Most likely physical therapy would have been prescribed once it healed, which is often postponed until after several months to avoid further injury. After years of experience with a variety of spine related physical therapy modalities, I feel confident once the pain is gone, I can begin walking more once again and incorporate light physical therapy type moves as I progress.

Once we arrived in Phuket I considered going to the local hospital for an x-ray but after reading many poor reviews about the local private hospitals, I decided against it. Finally, over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a subtle improvement each day and feel confident that it will continue over time. 

Since the injury, I’ve managed the following:
1.  The four to five hour harrowing drive from Sumbersari, Bali to Denpasar Airport
2.  The flight from Denpasar to Singapore with considerable walking at both terminals
3.  The week in Singapore with several trips to immigration offices to acquire  the two visas
4.  The flight to Hanoi, the flight to Siem Reap, 18 days total touring Cambodia and Vietnam, including rides on non-motorized tuk tuk, motorized tuk tuk and a rickshaw along with many tours requiring lots of walking and stairs.
5.  Flight from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with a layover in Bangkok, then another flight to Phuket.
6.  One hour van ride from Phuket Airport to vacation rental
7.  Lots of bouncing around in the less-than-stellar rental car over the past three weeks since our arrival.  Three weeks from today we depart Phuket.

This statue is located on the marble kitchen counter.

Over the next few months, we only have to get back to the airport in Phuket, with a layover in Singapore, then on to another flight back to Denpasar, an overnight in a hotel and then, the next day, the four to five hour harrowing drive to the villa. For sure, these next few months will be easier than the past two months.

I’m anticipating by the time we board the back-to-back cruise in Sydney, Australia after a seven hour flight from Denpasar (after one more four to five hour harrowing drive), on October 31st (our four year travel anniversary), I’ll be back to my “old self.” If not, we’ll carry on with our plans. I’ve proven to myself, I can do this.

Many people suffer with chronic conditions and maintain active and fulfilling lifestyles. Until such time as either of us cannot travel as such in the above listed points, we’ll continue to live life to the fullest, enjoying each and every day while dreaming and planning for the future.

May you do the same.

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2015:

It seems we awaken every morning at 5 am.  Tom gets up and I read in bed until I fall back asleep, usually until 7:00 am. Up so early he has an opportunity to capture these amazing sunrises. For more photos, please click here.

Traveling and working out…not always possible…Fitness stats…Tonight’s dinner date…

Wherever we may travel water views always present a photo op.

It’s not always possible to find a fitness center nearby our vacation rental. Many remote areas we visit don’t have fitness centers at all when many of the locals don’t have cars and walk up and down steep hills all day and tackle varying degrees of backbreaking work in their jobs and day to day lives. They certainly don’t need to workout nor can they afford the cost.

I often wonder what fitness-minded ex-pats and foreigner temporary residents do for fitness, although many may scuba dive and partake in a variety of activities that may suffice during short visits.

A bridge across the pond.

Here are stats from the US from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition:

  • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.

Based on the above stats, many travelers and ex-pats may not be as interested in fitness as I am or as I may assume, making the availability of fitness centers less important in many resort areas.

Some resorts and hotels have workout facilities which would most likely be adequate for my needs with many “all-inclusive” resorts, unwelcoming to “outsiders,” even for a fee.

A walkway to another area of the Arts Village.  We toured every nook and cranny.

The more outsider-welcoming resorts and hotels with workout facilities in more remote locations require a taxi fare making working out not as feasible when added to the cost of the temporary membership. In Kauai, we had a rental car and could easily drive to the golf course we joined for the pool and fitness center. 

The cost for that fitness membership was USD $225, FJD $533 a month. If we’d had to add taxi fare, the total cost would be impractical for our budget. As a result, we decide on a case by case basis.

The last location where I had access to a fitness center was Trinity Beach, Australia, our stay ending in early September. Once we arrived in Savusavu with no fitness centers in the area and at only the all-inclusive resorts, options were non-existent. Living at the top of the steep mountainous road made walking in the neighborhood literally impossible.

Walkways are often uneven with potential tripping hazards, particularly for seniors.

Although seemingly less significant, I didn’t clean or do laundry with the included daily household help and spent considerable hours each day relatively inactive. This didn’t serve me well. I’m feeling out of shape, more so than I have since the onset of our travels.

Now that we’re living on flat ground walking is definitely on the agenda, daily if possible, weather permitting. In the mornings and at dusk the mozzies are in full force. After completing the day’s post a walk is definitely in order. 

Walking on rock covered roads is not necessarily a strenuous exercise while attempting to avoid falling or turning an ankle. Tom, having walked on rough terrain most of his life, is certainly more surefooted than I am.  In our travels, we’ve certainly done our fair share of walking on rough terrain and have been fortunate to avoid any major injuries. 

A hostel for backpackers or budget-minded travelers.

However, we never take for granted that we’re not exempt from tripping or falling while walking. The more fit we are, the less likelihood of a fall. A bad injury from a fall could put a fast end to our travels. How many seniors do we all know who’s been injured falling ending up in rehab centers and becoming immobile for the remainder of their lives?

In a little over three weeks, we’ll be on the ship where an ideal fitness center will get me back on track on my high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I can hardly wait for that reason along with all the other benefits of cruising we both so well enjoy.

Unique colorful lily pad flowers.

By the time we get off the ship, I’ll be on my way to restoring my former level of fitness, stability, and strength.  In most cases, I’ve found that I can recover a good degree of fitness in three weeks of HIIT training.

Luckily, the area we’ll be living in New Zealand and the fact that we’ll have a rental car will enable me to join a not-to-far-away fitness center. In researching online, we’ve found several fitness centers within a 25-minute drive of the farm.

The next big working out challenge will be in Bali where we’ll have a household staff of four including a cook.  Luckily, with the huge infinity pool, I’ll be able to swim and exercise in the pool. The pool at this house isn’t quite long enough for fitness based swimming although, pool exercises are easily accomplished.

Shops in Pacific Harbour at Arts Village.

Along with the many other challenges of changing our environment every few months, finding a fitness plan that works while on the move is crucial. I doubt I will ever allow myself to become as unfit as in Savusavu. 

Although, I easily maintain my weight through my way of eating, working out has had nothing to do with weight control. Working out for a least an hour a day for most of my adult life never contributed to any weight controlling benefits. It has always been the “hand to mouth” aspect of life that determined my weight. 

Tom on the walkway.

In the future, as we book more new locations, we need to do more research on the availability of walking in the neighborhood and fitness centers. I’m not unlike most of the rest of us…it’s hard to stay motivated to workout at home without the regime dictated by paying for and driving to a fitness center.

Today, I’m excited for tonight’s dinner date with my hubby which we haven’t done since October 31st, on our travel anniversary. We’ve chosen a popular local beachside restaurant planning to arrive before dark to ensure we’re able to get good photos to share here tomorrow. We’ll also take photos of our food and the menu.

Back at you soon. Have a great weekend wherever you may be and keep moving!

Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2014:

With cooler temperatures on this side of Big Island, there weren’t a huge number of bathers in the tide pool at Ahalanui Park but our brave family members tackled the cool water. For more details, please click here.

Part Two…Reviewing the criteria we established in March 22, 2012…Are we still on track?

A few other boats dock at this pier.

Good news! Yesterday, in the pelting rain, wearing jackets with hoodies, we returned to the dentist at the hospital in the village. By the time we reached the driveway where Rasnesh was parked, we were soaked, drying off in no time in the hot weather.

Arriving at the dentist’s office in a matter of seconds, not minutes, we were whisked away to a treatment room.  Immediately, the same Indo-Fijian dentist entered the room with a wide bright white toothy smile seeming to remember us from one week ago when we had the last five minute appointment.

He looked in Tom’s mouth happily stating it appeared the infection was gone and the mushy gums were healing. The three teeth were no longer as loose in the previously infected spongy gums and would continue to tighten over time.  

This boat navigates to the pearl beds.

The dentist suggested Tom use Listerine mouthwash to kill bacteria. For awhile, he’d stopped using the coconut oil, teeth pulling ritual but is back at it again since the infection had begun a few weeks ago. Organic, unrefined, food-grade coconut oil is a known antibacterial with no added chemicals.

Once we get situated in New Zealand, he may decide to make an appointment for a periodontist for further treatment which most likely would have prevented the infection in the first place. Traveling the world has a tendency to cause us to be less mindful of “preventive” care beyond that which we’re able to accomplish on our own.

Thanks to all of our wonderful readers who sent email, posted comments and sent prayers and good wishes his way. 

Living in a third world country can easily incite a little nervousness when it comes to medical care of any type.  We’ll take this into consideration more as we age planning the distant future itinerary. 

This long pier leads the Fiji Pearls boat where tourists can visit the pearl beds after which tourists typically purchase pearl jewelry. 

Continuing on in part two of yesterday’s discussion of the criteria we’d established for our travels in March 2012, on March 26, 2012, we posted a second portion and a summarization of all of the criteria as shown below, again in italics with comments at the end on areas in which we’ve changed:

The remaining criteria:
Criteria #7:  Never stay in a vacation rental for less than one month. The rationale behind this rule is simple.  Staying in one location not only reduces transportation expense but provides us with the opportunity to negotiate better rates when staying a month or more.  
Many of the property owners allow a stay of as little as three or four days requiring added paperwork, liability and cleaning. Their piece of mind is a substantial motivator for them to accept a lower rent for their property.  As each month’s stay is extended in the negotiations, the price goes down proportionately. This will be illustrated by the rental amounts we will post with the itinerary.
Criteria #8:  No trinkets! As tempting as “bargains,” “souvenirs” and local “handicrafts” appeal to us during our travels, we will resist the temptation. The cost of excess baggage along with the horror of hauling some heavy wooden object all over the world is preposterous!
We will make a list of the items we encounter that tempt us. Once we settle someday, we will easily be able to find similar items online or in some cases, purchase them from the actual vendor’s website. Often these tempting artifacts can be found for half the price on eBay, from sellers who found themselves tempted during their travels. Most often, when we look back at such a wish list at a later date, we’ll find that we have lost interest anyway.
Criteria #9:  The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times. This was a tough one. I spent no less than an entire week researching various options. We now have discovered solutions (of course, subject to technology changes over the next several months). For Internet access, 24/7, in our rental, on the road, and part-time on cruises, we’ll use MiFi Rental with XCom Global. In a future post, I will write about the cost and how this works.  
As for cell phone service, we will be buying an Unlocked International cell phone into which we can purchase and install a local SIM card using the available local network (which is what most cell phone users in many countries use for service). SIM cards result in considerably lower rates, all without the use of a contract. Here again, I will write an entire post on this subject.
Criteria #10:  Cook and eat in!  Due to health concerns we live a low carb, wheat-free, starch-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free lifestyle. Occasionally Tom will indulge along the way!  He won’t be able to resist pasta in Italy or a baguette in France. But, for me, my ongoing health from this way of eating it a huge motivator. Cooking and eating in the kitchen of our vacation rental will save us $1000’s along the way.  

Criteria #1: Do not have a permanent home!
Criteria #2: Do not own cars!
Criteria #3: Do not stay in hotels unless absolutely necessary!
Criteria #4: Do not pay more than that which we were willing to pay for rent in our chosen retirement community!
Criteria #5: Use the cruise!
Criteria #6: Bag the excess baggage!
Criteria #7: Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month!
Criteria #8: No trinkets!
Criteria #9: The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times!
Criteria#10: Cook and eat in!

The heavy rains and cloud-covered sky preventing us from sightseeing.

As we peruse the above list, there was one item we failed to note which applied to us: Don’t have a storage facility with “stuff” from our old lives. The only storage we have are tax records and a few bins of memorabilia at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada and another few bins at Tom’s sister’s home in Minnesota. We have no storage anywhere else. What would be the point of saving furnishings, old clothes, and household and kitchenware?

Considering Criteria #7, we’ve faltered a few times, once staying in a vacation home in Waikiki for 11 nights and another in Vancouver for six nights. We didn’t care for the Waikiki property and later wished we’d stayed in a hotel. But, the Vancouver property was fantastic with no regrets there. If we ever take a cruise out of Vancouver in the future, we’d happily stay at that property.

Otherwise, every item on the original criteria list at this link written over four years ago, still stands today. Of course, between the lines, we’ve learned a lot and in our then inexperience, we’ve discovered so much along the way. 

Steam escapes from underground hot springs in this area near the village.

When we think in terms of traveling for ten years or more, good health providing, we have no doubt some of these criteria may change one way or another. 

Flexibility and a willingness to change is a vital aspect of successful long term travel. Every day, we strive to maintain open minds and hearts, knowing this adventure requires the ability to adapt, grow and learn along the way.

The perception for most senior citizens is that we’re “set in our ways” but, this may not be true for all of us. For even our treasured armchair readers, they too may change in their attitudes and beliefs about traveling the world as they share this journey along with us. 

Have a glorious day! It’s raining in buckets here and we’re as content as we could possibly be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2014:

We were in awe of this exquisite and unusual Monkey Pod Tree in Maui. For more vegetation photos in Maui, please click here.

Medical emergency!…Off to local hospital for care…

Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office located on the hospital grounds, providing only his name.

Sooner or later medical emergencies arise. Regardless of how hard we try to attain and maintain good health, our bodies are subject to maladies we can’t always control on our own.

So was the case yesterday, Monday morning, when Tom confessed he’d been concerned about a huge bump on his gums beneath a molar with a crown. He never said a word about it all weekend knowing that most likely no dental office would be open over the weekend. He didn’t want me to worry.

Tom was his usual cheerful self even under these worrisome circumstances. 

For me, it’s not about worrying. It’s about taking action to get an appointment as quickly as possible. I can handle being worried. I can’t handle avoiding issues.

Within minutes of him alerting me to the situation I sent Mario an email, asking him for the name of a dentist and then proceeded to look online, calling the only clinic I found. They were closed for another year but referred me to the local hospital, of which we’d posted a few photos last month while on a tour of the city.

The treatment room was spacious and seemingly well equipped.

Calling the hospital I was transferred to the dental clinic to discover, “No appointments necessary. Come in between 8 to 3:30 but, not at lunchtime, 12 to 2.” Fijians value their lunch breaks as a time for nourishment and socializing. This left us with a 5 1/2 hour window. Rasnesh was available to pick us up at 2:00 pm, giving the staff time to return from lunch and get settled.

Once we arrived at the hospital, Rasnesh walked with us to the dental building on the hospital grounds as we dashed from the car in the pouring rain. He said he’d been going to the hospital’s dental clinic all his life and they do a good job. With no other options within a four hour round trip drive, we didn’t hesitate.

We could only hope for sanitary conditions.

There was no doubt Tom had an abscess which can be very dangerous if unattended causing serious and even life-threatening systemic toxicity. I was not happy he hadn’t said anything sooner but, he claims he didn’t see the necessity of me worrying over the weekend. 

Good grief. I’m not that delicate. We’ve since agreed to hold nothing back in fear of worrying one another.

Luckily, he didn’t have one of these dreaded injections.

There was no waiting room. Instead, there was a long bench outside the clinic with a reception desk a few feet inside the door. Within minutes of giving only his name, with no address, no medical history, no passport or ID check, we walked into a treatment room with a Fijian dentist.

Explaining that I was in attendance to aid with Tom’s sketchy hearing issues (years on the railroad), especially with the thick dialect of many Fijian people which he particularly struggles to hear distinctly, the dentist directed most of his comments my way as I “translated.”

The dentist handed Tom a mirror and showed us both the issue with three of his back teeth, where a raging infection was causing the teeth to be “mushy” in the gums from the infection. 

The used sponge on the sink could instill a degree of concern for sanitation.  Then again, we Americans may be overly concerned about germs.

Only a few months earlier, we had our teeth cleaned while living in Trinity Beach, Australia. At that time Tom had been warned about this area as being vulnerable to infection, eventually requiring gum scaling. He sloughed it off for the future, thinking he could take care of it after we left Fiji and moved to New Zealand. Well, it didn’t wait that long. We won’t be living in New Zealand until January 19th.

Had we been in the US, the treatment would have been more comprehensive than yesterdays. I had an abscess several years ago and the area was treated and injected with antibiotics directly into the site, spending two weeks on oral antibiotics.

The dentist wrote Tom two different prescriptions for antibiotics along with a packet of non-narcotic pain meds and sent us to the hospital pharmacy across the parking lot. Now for the bill.  We had no idea how much it would be and nearly broke into laughter when we were handed the invoice for FJD $6, USD $2.76. 

The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD $6, USD $2.76.

Tom started digging through his small change when I said, “How about giving them a $10 and they’ll give you change. Save the coins for the Farmers Market.”

“Good idea,” he responded and handed over the FJD $10 bill. 

Profusely thanking the dentist and receptionist we dashed across the parking lot in the rain to the pharmacy.  The prescriptions were “free,” even for us foreigners. We were shocked and surprised by the small token payment at the dentist’s office and also the free medication.

We were told to return next Monday for the dentist to determine if the infection is improving which we’ve already arranged with Rasnesh. If it’s not better, the alternative is frightening…pulling three teeth. If that’s the case, I think we’d try for another round of a different antibiotic and decide an action plan from there. 

As we entered the hospital’s pharmacy. We only waited a moment for service. The medications he received were already packaged and ready to go. Only the label was added with Tom’s name and instructions.

At this point, we’re trying to be optimistic and not project as to the possibilities. We don’t take this lightly and will do whatever is necessary to protect Tom’s health, even if it means flying back to Sydney a month earlier than planned to get to a private dentist. For now, we’ll play it by ear. Isn’t that what we always do anyway?

For now, he’s comfortable, pain-free, and diligently taking the two antibiotics as prescribed. Stuff happens. This could easily have occurred had we still been living in the US, although a more radical treatment plan may have been implemented along at a considerably higher cost.

Tom’s free prescriptions, two antibiotics, and one packet of non-prescription ibuprofen.

The cost for treatment in the US might now be as much as US $1000, FJD $2175, or more, based on the bill I received several years ago for a similar situation. In any case, we’re grateful we had an option here in Fiji, regardless of the cost, that didn’t require leaving the island at this point.

We’ll be back next week on this topic after next Monday’s visit to the dentist to see if there’s been any improvement. 

Have a wonderful day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2014:

The blue water in Maui, Hawaii changes with the sky which more often than not, is clear and sunny. For more details on last year’s post, please click here.

Shark attacks on the rise in Australia?…Shark zones include beaches near us…More Port Douglas photos…

This was the first time since our arrival in June that we saw this many sunbathers on a beach in Australia. The sun is very strong here resulting in the use of rental umbrellas and shade as needed. 

While living in Hawaii for eight months we frequently heard about shark attacks at a variety of nearby beaches. While living in Australia, we continue to watch the  news stories of more and more shark attacks in Australia and throughout the world.

Here is an amazing video of a shark attack that occurred a week ago to a renowned Australian surfer, Mick Fanning, during a surfing competition in South Africa that occurred one week ago with hundreds of shocked onlookers. Watch how he remarkably gets free of the shark.

Here is a timeline of fatal shark attacks published on July 25, 2015, by Australian Geographic:

“According to the Australian Shark Attack File, kept by researchers at Sydney’s Taronga Conservation Society, there have been 999 shark attacks in Australia since records began in 1791, and 232 of them have been fatal. All up, about one-quarter of shark attacks are fatal, and the average fatal attack is one person/year.

Large sharks, such as these five species, range far and wide and visit multiple levels of the water column. (Credit: Australian Geographic).

Timeline of fatal Australian shark attacks

25 July 2015: Tasmanian man Damian Johnson, 46, is killed by a great white shark while diving for scallops with his daughter, between Maria and Lachland islands.  

9 February 2015: Japanese national Tadashi Nakahara, 41, is killed at Shelly Beach, at Ballina, in northern NSW. A local surf shop employee, he was believed to be taken by a great white shark while he was out surfing.

29 December 2014: Jay Muscat, is killed at Chaeynes Beach, east of Albany in Western Australia.

15 December 2014: Daniel Smith, 18, of Mossman, is killed while fishing at Rudder Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas.

9 September 2014: Paul Wilcox, 50, is found floating and is unable to be resuscitated after being pulled from the water near Clarkes Beach at Byron Bay. Witnesses saw a 3m great white in the area immediately after the attack.

3 April 2014: Christine Armstrong, 63 is taken by a suspected bronze whaler shark as she lagged behind her daily swimming group at Tathra Beach, NSW. 

8 February 2014: High school English teacher and experienced diver Sam Kellet, 28, is killed by a suspected great white shark while he was spearfishing near Edithburgh, SA.

29 November 2013: Zac Young, 19, dies from cardiac arrest after being attacked by a shark while bodyboarding with friends near Riecks Point north of Coffs Harbour in NSW. 

23 November 2013: Chris Boyd, 35, is attacked by a shark, believed to be a great white while surfing at the popular surf break Umbries off Gracetown in WA.

14 July 2012:  Ben Linden, 24, is killed while surfing near Wedge Island, Western Australia, 180km north of Perth. A witness who tried to help said the shark swam away with the body.

31 March 2012: Peter Kurmann, 33, is taken in southwestern WA while diving in the Port Geographe Marina. His brother, who was diving with him, tried to fight off the shark with a knife.

22 October 2011: American tourist George Thomas Wainwright, 32, sustains horrific injuries and dies while scuba diving off Rottnest Island.

10 October 2011: Bryn Martin, 64, disappears at Cottesloe Beach and is presumed a shark attack victim. Only his damaged Speedos were found.

4 September 2011: Kyle Burden, 21, is taken by a shark while body boarding with friends at Bunker Bay, near Dunsborough, in Western Australia.

17 February 2011: An abalone diver is taken in an attack by two sharks, believed to be great whites while surfacing near Perforated Island in Coffin Bay, South Australia.

17 August 2010: A 31-year-old man dies from serious injuries after being attacked by a shark while surfing near Gracetown in Western Australia’s south-west.

27 December 2008: Fisherman Brian Guest, 51, is taken by a great white, while snorkeling at Port Kennedy in Perth’s south. His son and beachgoers saw the shark attack and swim off with him in its mouth.

8 April 2008: A 16-year-old boy from Wollongbar is killed by a shark while bodyboarding off Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach on the NSW north coast.

7 January 2006: Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, is mauled by up to three bull sharks while swimming in waist-deep water with friends at Amity Point, off southeast Queensland’s North Stradbroke Island.

24 August 2005: Marine biologist Jarrod Stehbens, 23, is taken by a shark, believed to be a great white while diving for cuttlefish eggs with colleagues off Adelaide’s Glenelg Beach.

19 March 2005: Geoffrey Brazier, 26, is attacked by a 6m-long shark, believed to be a great white, while snorkeling near the Abrolhos Islands, off Geraldton, 500km north of Perth.

16 December 2004: Nick Peterson, 18, is killed instantly when attacked by a great white shark while he was being towed behind a boat on a surfboard 300m off Adelaide’s popular metropolitan West Beach.

11 December 2004: Mark Thompson, 38, is attacked by a shark while spear fishing with two friends at Opal Reef, about 75km from Cairns in North Queensland. He died from a cardiac arrest soon after the attack.

10 July 2004: Brad Smith, 29, is attacked by two sharks, believed to be a great white and a large bronze whaler while surfing near Gracetown in Western Australia’s south-west.

8 February 2003: Bob Purcell, 84, is attacked by a 2.5m bull whaler while swimming with Burleigh Lake on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

16 December 2002: Beau Martin, 23, is attacked while swimming in Miami Lake on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

30 April 2002: Scallop diver Paul Buckland, 23, is dragged from a mate’s arms by a 6m-long great white, while trying to get on board a boat in Smoky Bay in the Great Australian Bight, South Australia.

We are located near Cairns, marked at #7 on this map. 

Sure, if we posted a list of all of the fatal auto accidents in these beach areas, it would far exceed the loss of life from shark attacks. However, the fear associated with shark attacks far exceeds the fear of being in an auto accident.

As posted at all beaches, there are waning signs regarding stingers which are prevalent in these waters throughout Australia.

Although it’s winter in Australia now, the temperature is a comfortable average of 80F, 27C with the sun shining at least part of most days. One would expect this type of weather to attract sunbathers and swimmers to the beaches. 

Tom walking toward the famous Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. (More photos of this expanse of the beach will be posted tomorrow).

As we continue to visit the local beaches, walking along the shore, we seldom encounter sunbathers and swimmers except as shown in today’s photos from our recent visit to Port Douglas. In this particular location, a resort area, there were multiple lifeguard stations and emergency equipment on hand. Even in this scenario, there were few swimmers in the water.

More signs warning of stingers. We’ve seen no warning signs regarding sharks. Although, when there’s an attack, the beach will be closed for a few hours or a day. Helicopters scan the waters where the attack occurred to determine what type of shark is nearby and if it’s safe to reopen the beach.  Most often, they spot the Great White. Sharks.

We realized that the stingers and possible crocodiles may be a huge deterrent to swimmers. Adding the recent news about shark attacks including this attack reported yesterday, it’s no wonder the beaches are generally barren. Luckily, this surfer will also survived the attack after a serious injury.

This was a first for us, seeing a sign such as this for treatment of stinger attacks.

As much as we’ve been encouraged to snorkel and scuba dive, neither of us have a propensity to swim in the ocean. Believe me, we’ve literally been nagged by friends and family to take up snorkeling. We are land, people. And, although we enjoy sitting by a pool and dunking on occasion to cool off, we hardly swim, although we’re both good swimmers.

When we began our travels we spent the first two and a half months outside the US in Belize in Central America living with the ocean outside our door, perhaps 25 feet from our veranda. Each day, we walked along the beach although we’d been warned about stingrays in shallow water. A tourist staying in the same resort was seriously stung by a stingray while standing in shallow water. It was a four-hour drive on an awful road for medical care.

This was the first beach we’d seen that offered chair and umbrella rental.
Our injuries occurred when the steps at our condo collapsed under our feet and we were injured on the night of our anniversary. Tom’s injuries were less serious, mainly small cuts and scrapes. (Click here for the post regarding our fall). I refused medical care. It took a month to recover from a back and neck injury. This particular injury was unavoidable. There was no evidence that the steps were ready to collapse.
As shown in this photo, few swimmers are in the water, many fearing sharks and stinger.

It was after the injuries from the fall and the woman being stung by a stingray that we decided to consider our safety above all else in our travels. It was this diligence that later kept us safe spending nine months in Africa where one can easily be injured on an unlit walkway exiting a restaurant at night, a lack of a handrail on a steep stairway, or much worse.

Some sunbathers are less cautious of the sun.

Of course, we’ve taken considerable risks in many of our adventures but those too were made with education and safety measures in mind. If we were to sustain a serious injury we have no home in which to live to recover, as most people do. As shown in our many posts, we’ve experienced so much. But, entering the ocean, other than in a boat isn’t something we choose to do.

This is the resort located across the road from the area we visited.

An oceanfront property is always our first preference in a vacation home, not for swimming but for the view, the smell of the sea, and the sound of the waves. What is more beautiful than the view of the sea?

The ocean must be respected for its vastness, its mystery, and its possible risks. Although the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is very slim, we have no doubt that surfers worldwide are always on the lookout for that fin or the feel of “something” brushing against their skin.  No thanks.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, August 1, 2014:

One year ago today, we posted our last post for Madeira, Portugal as we made our way to Paris for two weeks staying in a hotel and then on to London for two more weeks in a hotel. Who travels the world without visiting Paris and London? Please click here to that final post which also offers a link to my first blog post long before we ever decided to travel the world.

Part 2, The Queen’s Bath, a beautiful and terrifying place…The balance of the return hike back up the cliff…A year ago celebration at a “girls only” lunch…

This was as far as I could get to the edge at the Queen’s Bath without slipping off.
Tom stopped to access if he’d go further.  He decided to continue to the bath without the camera but didn’t go into the water. With the heightened risk in winter of the sea grabbing an unsuspecting victim and carrying them out to sea, no photo or view is worth it to us. Tom returned 10 minutes later while I waited on the shelf, so relieved to see him with a big smile on his face.

By the time you see this post, we’ll be well on our way to Waimea Canyon, a three-hour drive to the furthest end of the canyon to the lookout point. Hopefully, the weather will be good allowing for clear photos. 

Had I been brave (or foolhardy) enough to descend further, I would have had better photos of the Queen’s Bath itself which is shown here through the trees.
The color of the water was heightened by the crisp clear blue sky and the clean ocean water.

The weather in Kauai is unpredictable and often rainy this time of year. We’ve been lucky to have mostly sunny days since our arrival over a month ago. Tomorrow’s weather in Poipu is expected to be sunny with rain on Friday, when we’ll be heading back home.

The Queen’s Bath from the last point until descending into the water.

On Friday, when traveling through Lihue (where the airport is located) on the return drive, we’re planning to stop at Costco to once again stock up on household goods, supplies and groceries. With the high cost of food at the local and farmer’s markets in Princeville and surrounding areas, Costco provides an excellent opportunity to save a little. 

Quickly this seeming level path is disrupted into dangerous terrain, making passage difficult.

Buying in bulk is not a problem for us with three months remaining in Kauai. Over time, we’ve learned to gauge the quantities to purchase to ensure we don’t have much in the way of “leftovers” when its again time to depart. 

There were various signs along the way with few mentioning the dangers of navigating the path and the Queen’s Bath. With the number of deaths over the years, many locals are pushing that this “attraction” be closed to public access.

It would be great if we could mail a box of foodstuffs to Australia when we depart Kauai. But, the cost of mailing a package of food outside the US is prohibitive when the package would have to go through customs, resulting in added fees. 

We stayed away from that alternate route which may have been easier but since has been abandoned due to the loss of many birds.

We’re traveling to Australia by cruise ship with minimal baggage restrictions, but we’ll still have a few flights in order to get to our first rental in Trinity Beach, nears Cairns; the flight from Kauai to Honolulu, Oahu where we’ll board the ship and then again, the flight from Sydney where the cruise ends, to Cairns, a flight equivalent to flying in the US from Georgia to New Mexico, a fairly long distance with baggage weight restrictions.

I cringed when looking up at the path which was much steeper than it appears.

From what we’ve learned about Australia thus far, the items they carry aren’t unlike many items we’ve been able to purchase in Hawaii, only at a slightly lower cost.  With our restrictive diet there are items that aren’t easily found in certain counties such as avocados,  coconut oil, unsweetened coconut milk, unsweetened raw coconut, coconut flour, almond flour and raw nuts. 

Neither of us had yet to see a chicken in a tree.  This hen was about 20 feet from the ground, easily flying to perch on this branch.

We won’t know if these items are available until after we arrive and shop. If not, we’ll figure out a means of having them shipped to us from inside Australia to avoid the high customs and shipping fees.

One more view of the waterfall on the climb back up the cliff.

Today, we’re sharing the balance of the photos from Tuesday’s visit to the Queen’s Bath and the treacherous hike back up the sea cliff. We’ll excitedly be back on Friday, the actual day of my birthday, anxious to share the details of our mini vacation. 

As we neared the end of the hike back up the cliff, I was relieved we’d made it back safely without falling.

Perhaps, we’ll have steak and lobster for dinner on Friday night, purchased from Costco, for a celebratory dinner. Then again, I’d be content with an avocado stuffed with salmon salad. Tom? Not so much. He doesn’t eat avocadoes or salmon, or any fish for that matter, or any veggies except salad or green beans…Better stick to the steak and lobster!

Back at you soon!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2014:

Two of my new girlfriends in South Africa took me to lunch for my birthday last year. Here is Linda and me at a fabulous resort for lunch.
And here is Linda and Kathy, my Marloth Park, South Africa friends with whom I’m still in touch on a regular basis. We have a great lunch! I miss them both. For details of that date, please click here.

A pleasant respite from the heat…The moon over the Indian Ocean on a windy night…Dinner cost how much?

A “house” dog is commonly seen at beachfront restaurants to warn of unwelcomed visitors entering the property from the beach and to chase off animals and rodents.

With the seasons reversed south of the equator, it’s spring in Kenya, comparable to warm May in many other parts of the world.  In many tropical regions throughout the world the temperature differences from spring to summer are usually only few degrees.

The beachfront restaurant is simple and unassuming. Sand  crabs are constantly scurrying across the floor.  It’s very dark inside in an effort to conserve on power.

When we arrive in South Africa on December 1st, it will be comparable to June in countries north of the equator with temperatures ranging from 70F to 105F, 21C  to 40C.  Cooler at night as it is here, we’re prepared for the heat in South Africa, hoping the humidity will be less than Diani Beach on the sea.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the AC (although not central air) will work well for those extremely hot nights.  We’ve managed the low 90F’s, 32C’s in Kenya without AC but there’s a huge difference at 105F, 40C.

I caught Tom off guard here.  You can see his hair blowing and his shirt blowing open.

Yesterday, with both of us feeling the full effect of the weather at 90F’s, 32C’s, day, we were pleased we’d made our third dinner reservation at the Blue Marlin.  By far, this entirely outdoor restaurant is the coolest thus far and we’ve found the food to be consistently excellent.

The moment we arrived to the Blue Marlin we knew we’d come to the right place.  Situated on the beach with no shades obstructing the ocean breezes (as done in many other restaurants, last night the wind was powerful. We didn’t care.  The cool breeze sucked the humidity off of our skin and clothing in minutes, leaving us refreshed and relaxed. 

I hadn’t felt this cool since we’d spent three nights at the Sands on our mini holiday over our travel anniversary with the air conditioner on all night enabling us to sleep with a blanket on.  In our bed here we have only a seldom used sheet.  I’ve always enjoyed the feel of heavy weight covers.  Ha!  Not here.

The Blue Marlin’s namesake.  It almost doesn’t look real although it is.

It had been two weeks since we’d last dined at Blue Marlin, during a pelting rain storm.  The long walk, including up and down steep stone steps with no handrails, was treacherous during that storm but less so last night in dry weather.

The usual uncomfortable beach chairs at the tables prompted me to ask for a chair with a sturdy back, readily available at other tables.  Our server graciously made the switch and, I was in heaven, never wanting to leave. 

Ah, the simple things.  I don’t recall ever moaning with pleasure over a breeze in our old lives.  From time to time, a cool ocean breezes wafts over us during the day in our outdoor living room.  It never lasts. On each occasion, we both mention it, often wishing it would last longer.  It never does.

Every day, local fisherman bring their catch to the restaurants for sale.  To our surprise there
was never any fresh fish for sale at the Nakumatt grocery store.

Last night, the breeze didn’t stop for a moment.  Had my exquisite piece of fish not been so huge, it may have flown off of my plate.  I held onto the delectable huge portion for dear life. Tom indulged in “chips’ (French fries) and Swahili fish.  I giggled when I saw his “chips” quivering in the wind on his plate.  There was no way he was letting one of those fly off, I assure you!

Snapping a few mindless photos shown here today, having shown similar photos of the Blue Marlin in a previous post, I found myself doing so with a greater attachment to the place.

Arriving at 7:00 pm, we both lolly gagged after eating, wanting to extend the relaxing time a little longer.  By 9:00 pm, knowing that most likely Alfred was waiting in the parking area, we called him to say we were ready to go.  We had warned him we’d be two hours. This time he didn’t call us to ask if we were ready to go.

Our entire bill for dinner including Tom’s two bottles of beer and ice tea for me, including the tax and tip came to a grand total of KES $3200.00, US $37.52.  The taxi was KES $1100, US $12.90, a fixed fee we negotiated with Alfred on our first day in Kenya which covers anywhere we decide to go in Diani Beach.  Of course, in 10 days when we go to the airport in Mombasa, we’ll pay him KES $5000, US $58.62 for the hour long drive and ferry ride.

Tom’s dinner consisted of Swahili, a coconut flavored sauce over the catch of the day. He actually ate a few bites of his veggies.  I always tell him that fried potatoes (referred to here as “chips”) don’t count as a vegetable!

A short drive down the main road and we’d returned to our neighborhood. The guards unlocked the main gate to let us in (they now recognize us and Alfred’s car), with Jeremiah unlocking the gates to our two house compound and we were home.  No breeze.  Too early for bed. Mosquitoes promptly gathering around us.

Rather than complain, we dressed in our BugsAway clothing (our best travel investment to date), hauled out my laptop and watched another episode of Downton Abbey, Season 4, Episode 6. (It won’t be released in the US until January 2014 but has been available for download, one episode at a time, from Graboid every Monday after it’s been shown on TV in the UK on Sunday nights).

Mindless drivel. We loved every moment as we always do.  Afterward, I called it a night while Tom stayed up with his laptop.  With a good ebook to read on my phone, the respite under the mosquito netting is always comforting.

Look at the size of my fresh caught rainbow fish.  Not a single bone, perfectly cooked in garlic butter with grilled vegetables and a side of homemade mayo.  Superb!

However, changing for bed is not a pleasant experience for me.  The bugs are amped up at night and I often find something on or near my skimpy cotton night clothes.  Last night, after I’d washed my face I used my hanging towel to dry off.  I felt something crunchy on my cheek.  It was a large brown beetle, the same color of the towel, easy to miss. 

This time I did scream and Tom came running.  The beetle had run off.  Gross.  Very gross.  I got that squeamish look on my face, perhaps lasting through the night. 

Yes, I always shake out my clothing and shoes before putting them on and also, my bath towel before drying after a shower.  But now, I’ve added shaking out my bath towel before using it to wipe my hands or face.

The fierce winds moved the dark cloud across the moon.  It was fun to watch the constantly changing appearance.

After that incident, I did my usual “flash light check” of the entire bedroom; corners, walls, ceilings, and under the bed, before climbing in.  One might assume that a full-round mosquito netting protects during the night.  Not the case. “Whatever” may crawl up the legs to the bed, the frame and the headboard to work their way in. Oddly, we are somehow able to sleep through the night.

Don’t think for a moment that these reactions to this huge scary looking insects is exclusively mine.  Tom, too, although braver than I, cringes and gets the freaked out look on his face as well.  Our fear is not the sight of the insect as the potential for a serious injury as a result from a sting or bite with our mutual allergies.

We anxiously waited for the moon’s full reveal as the clouds quickly moved. Notice
a slight reflection on the ocean below.

Then, one may ask, why did we come to Kenya?  We knew about the many risks.  It was all about challenging ourselves. And, as we prepare to leave in 10 days, we don’t have one regret.  The varied experiences, by far, outweigh the bad.  We’ve seen and done that which we’d never have done had we stayed in the US, as “normal” retired folks, moving to a condo in a warm climate.

This morning, Hans stopped by to explain why the security alarms were blaring  at 8:00 am.  Apparently, the neighbors were burning garbage (illegal here but hard to control) and the fire had gotten out of hand.  Luckily, it was promptly put out.  This entire compound had burned to the ground several years ago due to an out-of-control garbage fire.  These thatch roofs rapidly ignite. 

The final review or, as much as we saw in the 2 hours at the Blue Marlin.
Whether it’s concerns over safety, security, insect bites, malaria (we take pills), illness, food poisoning from local restaurants (we only dine at resorts), potential fires, auto accidents (no highway patrol), the risks are many.

Keeping safe has been our primary concern and yes, we may obsess about it from time to time. But 90% of our time, our lives have been enriched by this time in Kenya and…we leave here with great stories to tell and memories we’ll relive over and over again in years to come.


Hot, humid…Stay off the grass after the rain….Observations on daily life…

Hans invited us up to his 3rd level veranda for “happy hour” and to watch the sunset. As we enjoyed the view from up high, we all noticed this animal’s butt sitting inside a window. Definitely not a monkey with this type of tail, we anxiously waited for it to turn around.  y the time it was totally dark, it hadn’t moved, leaving us all without a clue as to what it was.

Hesborn, our trusty houseman, suggested that we stay off the grass, especially in bare feet after the rains.   Apparently, the rains draw out the creepy crawlies. There are certain small worms in regions of Africa, that enter the bottom of one’s feet, eventually working their way to the brain. Yikes.

The sunset is beautiful everywhere. From the 3rd floor of Hans’ house, we were thrilled to take the progression of the sun’s setting in the horizon

It’s too warm to wear shoes.  Unfortunately, neither of us wears flip flops.  We couldn’t seem to ever get used to the intrusion between our toes. Barefoot the entire time we were in Tuscany, except for walks and road trips, it’s nearly impossible for me to tolerate wearing shoes.

Thus, we don’t step off the stone floor of our mostly outdoor lifestyle without wearing enclosed shoes. Last night, with the mosquitoes on a frenzy at dusk, I bit the bullet wearing not only shoes inside but also a pair of socks. It’s been hot and humid. My feet were steaming in the heat.

Hans made Tom one of his special local concoctions while I sipped on my usual ice tea while chatting with Hans’ lovely wife Jerie (not sure on spelling).

This morning while preparing to take a shower, two things occurred; One, a 6″ lizard ran up the wall of the bathroom to eventually run to the screened window and disappear and two, it rained in buckets. I laughed about the lizard, didn’t scream, and grumbled about the rain. Rain equals more humidity and subsequently more mosquitoes.

My usual one cup of coffee made me feel too hot to drink it. No usual morning tea after my usual coffee for me today either. For Tom, sitting around with no shirt on, he’s able to stay cool. There is no cotton bra or tee shirt that I own in which I can feel cool. Topless is not an option.

As the sun set, the lush greenery appeared brighter than during the day’s sun.

Amazingly, after two weeks in Kenya, we’ve been able to sleep at night. The overhead fan, the top sheet with no blanket has been all that we’ve needed. The temperature during the day is usually in the 80s with humidity to match. At night it drops to a humid high 70s. Plain and simple, uncomfortable. I’m working on getting used to it.

In movies about travelers to various countries in Africa, I recall the women holding a handheld fan made of dried palm leaves. Where’s mine? I don’t see it anywhere. It would have come in handy yesterday and again today.

Look at these lush ferns, abundant in Kenya’s humid weather.

With no clothes washer at our disposal and laundry done only once a week, the zillion dishtowels I formerly used when cooking are long forgotten. The three towels I do have at my disposal end up soaking in the sink overnight, taking two days to dry when I hang them on the window sill. The only paper towels available in the grocery store tear apart easily, are flimsy and relatively useless.

Having disposed of much of our clothing, hand washing is a necessity almost everyday. My lightweight underwear takes two to three days to dry left hanging on the rack in the bathroom. Tom’s takes longer so he doesn’t bother, instead waiting for the weekly wash. He’s capable of wearing the same pair twice if necessary. Not I.

The haze, a result of both humidity and fires burning, leaves an eerie view over the horizon.

With the shortage of water and the high cost of power in Kenya, my days of daily laundered clothes are over. I tell myself to “get used to it.” In time, I will. Tom’s oblivious to all this. I’ve yet to see him hand washing anything, by no complaint from me. He’s willing to “live without” more readily than I. 

Tonight we’ll use bath towels as napkins with dinner. The dishtowels won’t be dry by then. Small annoyances. Luckily, we’re having leftovers tonight requiring less towel use.

From high up on the veranda, these coconuts caught my eye.  They are everywhere!

Am I whining? Perhaps, maybe a little. Am I unhappy or distraught? No, not at all. It’s all a part of the adventure, of letting go of the easy, the familiar, and the convenient while embracing a different lifestyle. It won’t always be like this. We won’t always be living outdoors.

When the rain poured in buckets this morning as I dressed for the day, Tom wandered around our outdoor living quarters, wondering where we’d park ourselves, if the wind continued to pelt the rain inside at us. Our only option would be to go back to bed. Luckily, by the time I got outside, the rain had stopped, the sun was shining and a new day had begun.

Soon, it would be set and darkness would fall as the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife rings through the air throughout the night.

Now, sitting here as the sun burns off a little of the humidity and a slightly cooler breeze wafts in from the ocean across the road, I can hear the sounds of the goats conducting their usual morning “baa fest.”

The neighboring roosters are crowing with their determined call welcoming the new day while the morning doves are joyfully engaged in their gentle “hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot, hoot hoot” and dozens of birds of varying species are chirping almost in unison. It will be a good day, after all, especially since “I’m working on it.”

Finally, the sun went down and we wandered back to our house next door.  It was after 7:00 pm and time to make our dinner as we reveled in the good time we’d had next door at happy hour.