Answering the question from readers, “Where should I travel?” Our top 13! Link to our world travel map…

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan after a very long, hot walk. Click here for one of two posts.  This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy!

Frequently, we receive email inquiries from our readers asking for suggestions for the best places to visit in the world based on what we’ve seen to date. 

That’s a tough question to answer.  Its almost as complex as asking a person what they like to read, to eat and what they prefer for recreation.  Its all a matter of personal preference.

Zef, our houseman, held this monstrous insect Tom had fished out of the pool with the net.  Not only did living in Marloth Park include daily visits from big wildlife but also the smaller world of many insect such as this enormous rhino beetle.  For more details, please click here for one of our three months of posts.

Keeping in mind that our primary interests (although we’ve enjoyed many other aspects in the world which we’ll also include here) revolve around observing wildlife, vegetation and naturally created scenery which limits more than half of the popular “places to see” in the world.

With our goal to visit every continent, choosing countries/regions within that continent we strive on making decisions befitting our personal interests.  To date, we visited 49 countries as shown in our map on Travelers Point.  Please click here to see our map.

A container freighter ahead of us in line to enter the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks as we entered the Panama Canal.  See here for one of the posts.

When reviewing our map its clear to see how we’ve yet to visit most of Asia (we’ll be visiting a few Asian countries soon), South America (upcoming in 2017) and Antarctica, upcoming in 2017 or 2018 (cruises yet to be posted).

Sure, we’ve found many big cities interesting, romantic and exciting: Paris, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Barcelona, Dubai, Venice, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Reykjavik, Cork (Ireland) and on and on…too many to list here.

This female lion as all animals in the wild in the Masai Mara, Kenya, is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs.  It was a memorable, life changing experience we’ll always treasure.  See here for more details.

Our readers continue to ask for our favorites and for many of our regular readers you may already be familiar with our preferences. For our less frequent visitors, here are a few suggestions that not only include remote areas of particular interest but also cities/areas we found especially exciting:

1. Marloth Park, South Africa:  Abundant wildlife, friendly people, plenty to see and do, reasonably priced
2. Panama Canal cruise:  Making a transit through the canal is quite an experience.  The cruises include many stops to other interesting countries.
3.  Masai Mara, Kenya:  Photo safari one of the top experiences in our lives; pricey.
4.  Petra, Jordan: Visit the Treasury, one of the most amazing man made structures in the world, breathtaking.  Getting there can be pricey.
5.  The Middle East cruise:  (May not be safe at this time).  Traveling through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal (loved this) and the Gulf of Aden proved to be our most adventurous cruise to date.

After we traveled through the Suez Canal, we entered the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden, requiring “pirate drills” and special forces onboard with the “packages” including armory to protect the ship and passengers.  Very exciting.  See the post here.

6.  Venice, Italy:  Amazing, must-see for those who don’t mind “tourist” attractions with huge crowds, long queues, and bumping elbows. 
7.  Mykonos, Greece:  (Sardinia is reputed to be even more exquisite). Mykonos has gorgeous scenery, interesting shopping, great restaurants with many delightful hilly walks.  Expensive.
8. Placencia, Belize (a peninsula):  Our first stay outside the US with a bad start for during the first week in a less desirable house – moved to fabulous property – remote, had an exquisite stay; great people, reasonably priced.  Quiet life with a week or two of sites to see. There are many islands in Belize such as Ambergris Caye that tourists often choose over Placencia.  We prefer more remote locations.  Not recommended for those with precarious health issues when its a rough four hour drive or an infrequent flight on a small plane at a local airport to a hospital in Belize City (city is rough and best to avoid for extended periods). 

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise a the feast before our eyes.  Click here for one of two posts.

9.  Sydney, Australia:  One of the most beautiful cities in the world; expensive, good local transportation, fabulous shopping, hotels and restaurants, lots to see, far to travel from many parts of the world.
10.  New Zealand:  This country has so much to offer one could easily stay busy and in awe for many months touring both the North and South Islands, especially if you enjoy road trips.  For us, staying close to New Plymouth and the alpaca farm has totally fulfilled us, although we plan to do some touring in the near future.  Reasonably priced.

The Harbour Bridge.  Wow!  It was extraordinary.  We look forward to returning to Sydney in 2017 for 40 days to fill a gap in our schedule.  For the link to this post, please click here.

11.  Dubrovnik, Croatia:  The must-see walled city may not require a long stay but a few days to a week could be highly gratifying.  Pricey.
12.  The countryside in France and the UK:  We’ve visited many small villages but will someday return for a more comprehensive tour. Expensive.
13.  Kauai, Hawaii:  Extraordinary island offering the “naturalist” a wide array of sightseeing opportunities, scenery and unique wildlife.  Expensive.

The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.  For more photos of this breathtaking historic city, please click here.

We could go on and on.  We’ve provided a few links in the caption of today’s photos for our visits to these special places. If you’d like to see more photos, please search on the right side of our daily homepage and you’ll find a ‘SEARCH” box directly below the listed archive dates (for more past posts). 

If you’ll type in the name of any of the above cities/countries/locations, you’ll find a list of every post in which we’ve visited these areas.  If you have difficulty with this, please send an email and we’ll be happy to assist in finding the appropriate posts containing many photos.

Not wanted to awaken her/him, I kept my distance although I’d have loved to see more of the rarely seen Hawaiian Monk Sea at the beach at the Napali Coast, Kauai.  Click here for more details.

Actually, it would take writing a comprehensive travel book to describe the details of these experiences and more.  Instead of writing a tedious time consuming book, we’ve chosen to share  our story each day. 

For now, our goal is to assist our inquiring readers on areas they may find suitable for their needs and desires. We hope today’s story helps for those who are considering traveling if possessing some criteria similar to ours.

Have an interesting day whatever you choose to do!


Photo from one year ago today, February 12, 2015:

A final view of Hanalei Bay before we exited an open house in Kauai.  For photos of the house we toured, please click here.

Walking for Jell-O…We’re having a party…Photos and recipes below..

Tom’s big decision of the day: Should we get the cauliflower now and carry it, or shall we get it on the way back.  I said now.  He said later.  He won.  He was the “carrier” of the bag. Luckily, it was there when we returned.

Friday night is fast approaching and we’ve invited our Minnesota friends on either side of us for dinner.  Granted, we don’t have a dining table and chairs other than the small two-person set on the veranda, plus three bar stools indoors.  But, we’ll figure it out.  Improvise is the name of the game.

Another small concern, we only have three dinner plates.  Most certainly, we can borrow plates from the neighbors.  The restaurant staff here at Laru Beya loaned us two placemats and two linen napkins for our personal use.  I supposed we could ask for more. 

Entering the small village of Seine Bight

The menu is challenging. We’d suggested a homemade pizza with our GF cheese crust (a staple we frequently prepare). They loved the idea, curious as to how a pizza would taste without a traditional crust.  All of the ingredients are readily available in the local grocers.

As for the side dishes (of which I always make several), I was in a quandary. When shopping in Placencia it makes sense to plan the menu based on what is available in the stores, rather than pre-plan a menu, trying to find the ingredients. 

Yesterday, feeling rushed as we shopped with Estevan patiently waiting outside the grocery store, it wasn’t easy to plan the side dishes.  In my “old life” I’d plan a menu for dinner guests over a number of days, contemplating a well-balanced menu with a wide array of delectable options.  No longer do I have that luxury (among others).

Restaurant along the road as we walked into town.

Flustered as we scurried about the store, we hurriedly decided on the following menu:

  • Carrot and zucchini sticks with homemade salmon, cream cheese dip
  • Our favorite Cauliflower, Bacon, and Almond Salad with homemade sweet (Splenda) and sour dressing (recipe follows at the end of this post)
  • Traditional Cucumber and Onion Salad
  • Homemade Pizza with locally made hot Italian sausage, onion, mushrooms, and sliced green olives with sharp cheddar cheese crust, tons of mozzarella cheese, and hand-grated (no grater on hand) fresh Parmesan cheese we purchased this morning from Mathieu’s Deli.
  • Homemade grilled garlic bread made with raw garlic, more Parmesan cheese atop a fresh-baked loaf of Italian bread made by Gunter early this morning at Mathieu’s Deli. (I will be a “voyeur” this item.  No tasting!  Tom’s on a bit of a splurge right now for another few days, but back to GF, low carb soon).
  • Dessert:  my favorite Strawberry Oreo Dessert (recipe follows at the end of this post. Another item suitable for the “voyeur”).

After the shopping expedition yesterday and unable to find fresh cauliflower after visiting four vegetable stands, I was ready to forfeit the recipe.  Yesterday afternoon as we unpacked the groceries it dawned on me that I had forgotten the required strawberry Jell-O.  With the other ingredients on hand, we had to figure out a way to get to a grocery store without wheels. 

It made no sense to call Estevan back to pick us up to buy a box of Jell-O or, for that matter, to rent a golf cart for $35 for a half-day. Our budgets offered no room for such frivolity. Thinking about the Jell-O into the evening, I suggested to Tom that we walk to the grocery store in the next town in the morning, north of us in Seine Bight. He agreed. 

Cloudy today, the temperature was ideal for walking.  At 9:00 am we were on the road, re-usable grocery bag in hand with a bottle of frozen water in tow just in case.  The walk along the busy highway to Seine Bight was pleasant with an occasional local warmly greeting us with a cheerful, “good morning!”  The narrow shoulder required, we walk in single file, stopping from time to time to take a few photos.

The square water tower in Seine Bight!

Alas, the first store we encounter had fresh cauliflower, one medium head, and one half of a smaller head but no Jell-O. Tom suggested we purchase the cauliflower on the way back rather than haul it for whatever distance may be required to find Jell-O.  Walking out the door empty-handed, I groaned, fearful it would be gone when we returned. It wasn’t.

An abandoned cement building that may have been damaged in a past hurricane.

As we continued our walk through the small town, it dawned on me that we also needed lettuce for the salad.  What’s wrong with me, unable to remember the ingredients for some of our favorite recipes?  Have we been out of touch for so long?  Reassuring Tom that we’d find lettuce, we continued along the road to the vegetable stand several blocks away.  He didn’t complain about the “store hopping.”

Two small but fresh heads of iceberg lettuce were awaiting us at the tiny vegetable stand.  Would we get lucky and find a bigger head of cauliflower here?  Not the case.

The little vegetable stand where we found the two heads of lettuce.

Continuing on, we entered another small grocery store to find a large box of strawberry Jell-O, directions in Spanish. No problem. I’d convert the “litro” to cups and we’d be good to go.

This box of a Jell-O equivalent is Belize $2.45 which results in US $1.23.

Turning around, we headed back to the first store with the cauliflower.  Much to my delight, it was still there.  A bunch of green onions, the two chunks of cauliflower, and US $2 later, we were out the door and on our way back to the deli for our loaf of bread and Parmesan cheese. Our menu is intact!

Maya prophesy reminder from December 2012, on the walk to deli.

On the walk back, we stopped at Mathieu’s Deli purchasing the load fresh baked Italian bread, a chunk of Parmesan cheese for the pizza, and a variety of cheeses made at Caves Branch in the Cayo District. The owner, Ian Anderson, whom we met about a month ago at the wine and cheese party, had invited us for a cheese and wine tour of his cheese factory. We just might take him up on his kind offer.  Perhaps, soon.

It felt as if we’d walked for miles.  Having worn my FitBit pedometer on my belt loop, I’d estimated we’d walked three or four miles when in fact it only revealed a paltry two and a quarter miles.  

Tomorrow night, we’ll be ready for our guests, recipes prepared with our seating, and plate situation somehow resolved.  We’ve found that a part of the joy of our lives as we travel the world lies in the pleasure that we discover in the minutiae.  The big items, we’ll plot and plan. The few items, we’ll wing it!

Jessica Cauliflower Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, sliced in shreds
1 head raw cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 pound lean bacon, cooked and diced

4 green onions, chopped

1 cup almonds, slivers toasted in oven or skillet


1 cup mayo

3 T. red wine vinegar

12 packets Splenda

Prepare all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour dressing over salad and toss until everything is well coated. Amazingly, this salad keeps nicely for 3 days if its refrigerator as soon as you serve it.

Jessica’s Strawberry
Oreo Dessert
(not low carb, sugar-free or gluten-free)

1 12 oz package Cool Whip

1 small package frozen strawberries, partially defrosted (1 hour) and drained

1 small sugar-free raspberry Jell-O

1 large package Oreo cookies or a box of Oreo crumbs

Dissolve Jell-O in 1 cup boiling water

Refrigerate until cool but not set

Crush Oreo and press into a 9 x 13” pan

Whip Jell-O until frothy in a food processor, add frozen strawberries, and then fold in the Cool Whip.

Cover with remaining Oreo and refrigerate.

Delicious!  You can easily double this recipe.

Real estate for sale in Belize…Offered by our Minnesota neighbors, here in Belize…

The lagoon side of the house.

This morning we took a short hike to see the home being built across the road on the lagoon, by our new friends and neighbors from Minnesota here at Laru Beya.

Upon completion and landscaping this meticulously built and designed home will be a virtual paradise for the discriminating buyer.
Tomorrow night we’ll have our Minnesota Pot Luck dinner with our new friends, neighbors and the builders and owners of this unique property.  We’ll surely have plenty of stories to share about our lives back in The Land of 10,000 Lakes (now they say its over 15,000 lakes).
View from the rooftop to the lagoon.
As for tonight, today is our anniversary and we plan to celebrate it in style at a gourmet dinner next door, only feet from the ocean, the sound of the waves, slapping at the shore, music to our ears.  Happy Anniversary, my love.  Thanks for this pleasing, low key, low stress lifestyle of our own. 
  Closer view of the rooftop’s spiral staircase that, can you believe, we climbed up without handrails (as yet) with only ropes for a guide.  Not big on heights, I hung on to Tom for dear life, managing to go up and down without screaming.  Once handrails are installed not only on the stairway but fully around the rooftop, this will be one of the best viewing spots in Placencia.

The house is currently listed on MLS but what we saw today is much more complete than the photos depicted on the listing.  Thus, we’ve added some photos of our own.

The lagoon and marina.

Spending most of my career in real estate and now retired, I can’t quite get real estate out of my blood.  This is a fabulous well constructed and designed property, ideal for those seeking a primary home in a tropical climate or as a second home that could be fully furnished and stocked to be utilized as a vacation rental home, such as those that we are renting all over the world.

The beautiful kitchen is almost completed.

The property is reasonably priced at USD $575,000 with its expansive ocean and mountain views offering easy access to the Caribbean Sea via a deep lagoon suitable for larger boats.

 The future pool will be completely round.

Close to shopping, restaurants and adventure activities, this home presents the utmost of desirability for the those seeking not only an investment property in this rapidly expanding area but a virtual paradise for one’s personal use and pleasure.

With our new friends from Minnesota, their Minnesota area code and phone number are displayed on this sign.

Yet to be completed, there were no less than 11 local workers hustling about the property zeroed in on various projects with the hope of completion in the very near future. 

Tom was checking out the rooftop bar.  The railings had yet to be installed making it a little freaky to walk around so many stories above the ground level.

As is common in tropical areas, the pace is slower than that which we’re used to in more metropolitan areas of the world.  As we’ve so well experienced in our time here since January 29, 2013, the slower pace definitely is not as a result of laziness in the case of the workers. 

From what we’ve experienced the work ethic is strong in Belize from the quality of the individuals we’ve met.  It appears to be more a matter of balancing one’s life making time for family, personal activities, hobbies and strong community involvement.  Those of us from the fast paced, stress inducing lifestyles so common worldwide, have much to learn from the Belizean lifestyle.

Soon, this enchanting property will be sold and in the hands of the perfect buyer seeking a complete lifestyle change or a modern, unique upscale home providing them with a respite from the stresses of daily life elsewhere.

Part 1…Our day trip adventure to the Monkey River and rainforest…

Looking like tourists, off we went on our adventure this morning.

Covered in bug spray, looking like tourists loaded down with a camera, binoculars, water shoes and swimsuits under our clothes, at 7:45 this morning we walked across the street to the pier at the lagoon to meet up with our well versed guide, Jason, born in the tiny community of Monkey River, an area rich in Belizean history and culture.
Along the way, we met a lovely couple, Ruth and Howard from Brooklyn, New York staying here in Laru Beya over the next several days, also participants in our planned outing which was arranged through the resort.  The cost per couple for the six hour expedition was $150.

After a high speed bumpy boat ride from the Placencia peninsula across the rolling Caribbean Sea to the mainland of Belize, we made our way to the Monkey River, a well known 10 mile long winding river literally amass with wildlife and overgrown vegetation. 

Vultures hovering in the trees along channel as we left Placencia.

By 9:30 am, we were docked at the pier in Monkey River to stop at “Alice’s Restaurant” to place our lunch orders, with a plan to return around noon for the included meal of stewed chicken, rice, beans and pan fried vegetables.  Moment later, we were off on our excursion of the river.

Tom in front of Alice’s Restaurant in Monkey River where we had lunch.
Inside Alice’s Restaurant in Monkey River.
Monkey River locals enjoying the day.
The gift shop outside Alice’s Restaurant.  Notice the conch shell border around the entrance.

Speaking mostly a combination of English and Creole, Jason was an articulate wealth of information possessing the eye of an eagle, quickly spotting every morsel for our excited attention to behold.  We saw all we could have hoped to see! 

Jason, our tour guide and Jess, outside Alice’s Restaurant.

Luckily, the day was overcast, less humid than normal, around 80 degrees making it a perfect day for our adventure.  With low expectations and a little apprehensive about the abundance of horseflies, mosquitoes and no-see-ums hovering around us in the boat, we slathered on the bug spray while bracing ourselves for what was yet to come.

Pair of dolphins we saw on the way to Monkey River.
Moments later, we saw another dolphin.

Jason slowed the boat as we entered the winding river, stopping frequently to point out crocodiles, many species of birds, unusual fish, families of the Black Howler Monkey known for their loud screeching.  Halfway through the four mile river journey, Jason pulled the old fiberglass boat up to a shore as we climbed out to explore a rough trail in the rain forest.

Dense vegetation along the Monkey River’s edge.
We lost track of the names of the endless variety of birds.
Immature Blue Heron are white prior to turning blue as adults.
Believe it or not, there were three Black Howler Monkeys hiding in this canopy in the rain forest.   We saw them move, heard them screech but so high above our heads, we couldn’t focus for good shots.

As soon as our feet hit dry land, Jason began banging his machete against a tree.  Curiosity brought out dozens of the black monkeys high in the trees to begin of earsplitting chorus of a sound unfamiliar to our ears, both annoying and entertaining at the same time.

Dozens of Black Howler Monkeys hovered in these trees.

It was difficult to take photos of the monkeys as it was of much of the wildlife, rapidly flitting around, shy of uninvited visitors.  They moved so quickly, staying buried in the leaves and branches of the enormous trees. 

After a time with our necks straining from looking up, Jason steered us deep into the rain forest along a narrow, head ducking, ankle turning, rock and vine covered path into a world neither of us imagined.

The entrance to Monkey River.

Magical sounds filled the air of creatures big and small, hidden out of sight protecting their young.  Over and again Jason warned us to look out for dangerous plants that were either poisonous or possessing needle like thorns difficult to remove once merely touched. 

We learned about medicinal plants for almost every imaginable ailment as we carefully lifted our feet over potential pitfall from burrowed holes from hidden creatures such as the blue land crab to termite nests to the dreaded red ants meandering across the forest floor.

Jason, his machete and Tom as he explained the medicinal uses of this tree that the locals call “The Tourist Tree” since it relieves the sting of a sunburn.

Bug spray in hand, we continually soaked ourselves, as flies, bugs and spiders presented themselves at almost every turn.  As Jason described some of the dangers in the rain forest I looked down at my water shoes and screamed a scream that must have echoes through the jungle.  I thought I saw an enormous black bug on my shoe.  It was a part of the laces.  We laughed after we all calmed down from my senseless scream.  See the photo below.

I can tell that Tom’s chomping at the bit as I write this!  Its time for me to shower and get ready to go to our now usual Tuesday night Mexican buffet at Habanero’s Restaurant across and down the road.  I’m hungry too looking forward to their wide array of meats, veggies and cheeses that I can enjoy along with the best guacamole in the world.

In the dark of the rain forest, as Jason is explaining the dangers, I looked down at my “worn for the first time” water shoes thinking that this black clasp was a huge black bug.I screamed scaring the daylight out of the five of us in our group.

Tomorrow is my 65th birthday. After grocery shopping for which Estevan will pick us up promptly at 9:00 am come celebrate with us, my first birthday on our worldwide journey, as we tell the “rest of this story” with lots more photos and stories about our day trip to Monkey River. 

Party Time in Placencia, Belize…

Gunter, the chef, baker and purveyor of fine foods at Mathieu’s deli.

Who knew that less than one week after moving into our ocean front villa at Laru Beya that we’d be going to a local party?  Yep, that’s us, social butterflies. 

An element of our ability to travel the world is wrapped up in our combined enjoyment of meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, ultimately making new friends.

After our first friends, Kari and Stu from Canada left Friday morning off to visit another island and then head home, we’d planned dinner Friday night with our favorite newlywed couple, Pam and Jerry, who’d invited us to join us.  

Last night was their last night in Placencia and they too were heading off to another resort in Belize for the remainder of their honeymoon.

The marina at Habanero’s/Mathieu’s.

Early in the afternoon Pam, a long time resident of Belize and a US citizen, came dashing over to our veranda as we lounged after a long walk on the beach.  Her enthusiasm along with the bounce in her step, led us to anticipate she had something exciting to tell us. 

“We’re invited to a party!”  she blurted. 

“We?”  I questioned hoping that the invitation did indeed include us.

“Yes,” she babbled, “all of us are invited to a wine and cheese party across the street at Mathieu, a quaint bakery attached to Habanero, our close and favorite Tuesday night Mexican buffet spot.

“Its at 4:00 pm. Would you like to go with us?”  she questioned with eyebrows raised.

More boats at the marina.

Tom and I looked at each other for a moment reverting to our “old selves” thinking of a reason “why not?”  But our “new selves” chimed in simultaneously,
“Yes, we’d love to!  We’ll look for you there at 4:00 pm sharp!”

Pam smiled wide.  We’re going to a party!

Planning to attend the party for a few hours returning to our respective villas to get ready for the evening and drive the five mile distance to De Tatch, a local eatery consisting of multiple little huts on the beach and one large thatch hut, known for its traditional Belizean food and juicy imported steaks (I prefer the local grass fed meat).

Arriving promptly at 3:55, we grabbed a rattan table for four with comfy padded chairs, seeing few people.  Tom and I looked at each other surely thinking the same thing, “Where are all the guests?  Not much of a party.”  No wine, no cheese was in sight.

Nice catamaran!

Within minutes, we found Pam and Jerry, happy to find us.  We all reveled in how thoughtful promptness is, as we gathered around the table, looking around the sparse area. 

In a flurry of activity, the Belizean way, the area filled with locals, expats, tourists and us, leaving us feeling excited and included in what proved to be a delightful experience as you can see from the attached photos.

Cheese being served at the party. Ian Anderson, the cheese maker, manufacturing cheese made in Belize, is the gentleman serving cheese. 

Frosty lasses of fresh squeezed pineapple juice was poured all around. (None for me.  No sugar here.  No problem.) The imported red and white wine flowed freely and the food…much more than cheese. 

Servers passed trays of appetizers including many locally grown fruit, hand carved imported deli meats, Bruschetta made with locally grown tomatoes piled atop breads made right there at the Matthieu Deli plus a wide array of the most amazing cheeses actually made right here in Belize at the resort, owned by Ian Anderson, featured in the photo above.

Breads served a appetizer table.  Drool worthy.

The cheese making factory is located in Ian’s resort, Caves Branch in Cayo District. Its by far the best cheese we’ve ever eaten.  The proceeds from the sales goes to an organization for the betterment of Belizean children.  What an amazing operation.

Tom tried a few small slices of the amazing breads, as he has from time to time when we’ve dined out recently with no adverse effects, when eaten in moderation. None for me.  

Our newlywed friends, Pam and Jerry, as the area fills with party-goers.

Gunter, the chef, baker and cheese purveyor, a charming salt and pepper haired man from Germany was busy making platter after platter of his delectable delights.  The servers were darting in and out of the congested gatherings of party goers with platters in hand, serving generous portions. 

The cheese was to die for.  Immediately after tasting four or five of the cheeses, I dashed off to the counter in the deli, credit card in hand hoping to purchase a few of our favorites. 

Tom calls me a “food voyeur.”  So true!

Alas, in the Belizean way, they didn’t have any to sell.  This truly was a party!  It wasn’t a promotion to sell cheese.  I drilled Gunther, “When can we come back and buy some of these cheese?” 

“Come back tomorrow,” he proudly stated, “It should be here tomorrow.”

This morning when the maid arrived to clean our villa, (love having a maid twice a week), Tom and I walked over to the deli, hoping to find the cheeses in stock. 

With limited options at the grocery store, it will be a treat to snack on a variety of cheeses as dessert which I learned to enjoy after dinner aboard the Celebrity Century cruise ship.

Tom, wrapped up in lively animated conversation!

Alas, most of the cheeses we loved were available and we happily spent US $72.00 for a variety.  The blue cheese hadn’t arrived yet giving us a good excuse to meander to the deli (a seven minute walk) again in the next few days. 

While there this morning, we chatted with Gunter and Ian, both of whom were more than willing to visit with us.  Ian invited us to his cheese factory in Cayo District, an hour and a half hour drive from here.  This definitely is an option for the near future when we’ll rent a vehicle for a few days.

After the party, we headed back to our villa, changed for the evening and met Pam and Jerry by the pool for a 10 minute drive to the village for dinner.  Already full from cheese, I couldn’t imagine having dinner until I saw grilled conch on the menu.  Since arriving in Belize I’d longed for conch but, each time it appeared on a menu it was batter fried, not for me.

Tom ordered the imported rib eye steak, seasoned well but, thin and tough.  My conch, chewy as anticipated, was delicious.  Seated in the large thatched hut with literally no breeze, the no-see-ums were feasting on us.  Shortly after eating our long overdue dinners and many rounds of interesting conversation, we headed back to LaruBeya.

Saying goodbye to Pam and Jerry, knowing we won’t see them again, left us a little sad.  All of our new friends were gone.  But, today is another day.  The pool will start calling us in a few hours for our hour of sun and fun.  Without a doubt, in the next few days we’ll make new friends and begin once again. 

This, my friends, is the intended nature of our new lives “wafting through our world wide travels with ease, joy and simplicity.”

Splurging on dining out this past week plus the cost of the cheese, put us over on our budget by $30.  Thus, we’ve decided to dine in tonight and tomorrow roasting the two free range organic chickens we’d purchased on Wednesday. 

Right now the two chickens are marinating in the refrigerator.  With a small piece of cabbage left along with our ample supply if huge whole organic carrots, I’ll make a batch of coleslaw (sugar free, of course),  roasted garlic and roasted carrots to accompany our diinner. 

Homemade food sounds especially good right now.  For dessert, we’ll enjoy a platter of the Belizean made cheeses.  Thanks Ian.  Thanks Gunter.  We’ll surely see you again!

Be warm.  Be well wherever you may be.

Disembarking the ship before the end of the cruise…

Remember our motto, “Wafting Through Our World Wide Journey with Joy, Simplicity and

We strive to keep this in mind.In order to accomplish doing so, we must be proactive.On occasion, proactive behavior requires assertiveness that may, on occasion, be off-putting to those with whom we are dealing. As we plan to disembark from the Celebrity Equinox tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29th we are faced with a few potential obstacles:

1.  How will our luggage be handled on the smaller “tender” boat taking us the 20
minute ride to the pier in Belize?  Will
we need new luggage tags as when we disembarked the Celebrity Century?
2.  What time shall we schedule the hired driver to appear at the pier, holding up the sign
with our name based on a projected time the ship will be cleared for
3.  What is the procedure for acquiring a visa, which based on our research is provided at the
time of entering the country of Belize, not online at an earlier date? Will they in fact grant us a visa for 2 1/2 months?
4.  What is the process with the Belize Immigration Department? Will they go through our
bags?  (We didn’t purchase anything aboard the ship).
5.  Will our scheduled driver have a large enough and reliable van (as promised when we
booked) for the four hour drive to Placencia? Will we arrive at the dock at 12:30 as scheduled?
In an effort to be proactive on Sunday morning I visited the customer service desk to review the process of getting the above four items

The staff person tried to dismiss my concerns saying all would be fine. Ha! This is not the answer I was seeking!  (Tom and I agreed to let me handle these kinds of potentially testy situations. I tend to stay calm and pushy at the same time).

After the staff person attended to the answer to

Question #1, I was able to secure two PRIORITY TENDER TICKETS, enabling us to choose a time to get onto the tender with support staff.  This helps.

Unfortunately, when I pressed for the remaining answers, the staff person was unable to answer, preferring to say again, “everything will be fine. Nothing to worry about.”
“Yes,” I said, “there is something to be worried about.” She straightened the lapel on her navy blue blazer, wincing at my comment.
“Let’s say we get into Belize with immigration and 2 1/2 months later, we’re stuck in immigration for 24 hours or more trying to “get out of Belize” if we didn’t have a proper long term visa. (A
visa for Belize is not required for under 30 day visits).
“We need immigration to meet us at the pier,” I insisted, “to provide us with a visa good through April 9, 2013, when we depart.” (We had tried to get this ahead of time but was told by Belize Immigration to get a visa when we arrive).
“Whatever you need to do to arrange this is imperative.”  I continued. “If you don’t know the answer, please direct me to the staff member who does handle these types of concerns.  Is there such a person on board?”
“Yes,” she said meekly, “I’ll call her and she’ll contact you.” 
“OK,” I said, feeling frustrated, “We’ll watch for a message from her by the end of the day today.  We spend little time by the phone in our cabin.”

By the time I walked over to Tom who was sitting in a lounge area waiting for me, I had cooled off enough to tell him what transpired, reassuring him that all will be taken care of and not to worry. 

When passengers get off of a cruise ship, returning after a day of spending money in their city, there is little, if any hoopla.  Getting off the ship and staying for an extended period is an entirely other matter.

Once we hear back from the on board immigration handler, we will report the results.  Hopefully,
all will go smoothly. 

Persistence prevails.
A few hours after writing the above, we returned to our cabin with a phone message from Jennie, the on board Celebrity immigration officer. Immediately returning her call, she suggested I bring our passports and our itinerary to the customer service desk and she’d meet with me.
I couldn’t get down there quickly enough, leaving Tom behind in the cabin. As I dashed to the
elevator, it dawned on me that this was the first time since January 3rd when we boarded the Celebrity Century, that I was out of Tom’s sight.  I chuckled to myself.  Imagine. We aren’t sick of each other yet!

Meeting Officer Jennie put my mind at ease.  Her crisp white and black uniform with
epaulets, the official name tag as “Chief Officer of Immigration coupled with her professional demeanor immediately reassured me that we were now in the proper hands.

Showing her our lengthy itinerary set the pace for a lively conversation with her enthusiasm to ensure that everything goes smoothly in our early departure from the cruise. She handed me immigration forms to complete, made a copy of our itinerary and immediately addressed all of our

She suggested that she’d hold onto our passports until Tuesday when the Belizean Immigration Officer will board the ship (also via tender). She’ll handle everything for us including arranging for our 2 1/2 month visa. Should there be an entry fee, she will let us know and charge it to our

She answered all of our questions including the seamless handling of our bags via porter to our cabin, taking our bags to be handled by the tender staff who again will assist at the pier.  She said there is no need for us to so much as touch our bags. No luggage tags are needed since we’ll be the only passengers staying in Belize.
In addition, she explained that our having PRIORITY TENDER TICKETS, we can board the tender at any time we’d prefer. Contacting our private van company in Belize by email today, they reassured me on the vehicle’s good condition, the size of the van and that the driver would meet us to be at the pier at 12:30 pm holding a sign with our name. According to Officer Jennie we’d have no trouble being there on time for the driver.

On Tuesday morning when the ship anchors in the harbor of the port of Belize at 10:30 am, requiring one hour to be cleared, we’ll have our bags down by the gangplank ready for us to get on the tender. Jennie will call our cabin instructing us when to come down to the desk to retrieve our passports and our new visas and head to the tender, knowing that our driver is scheduled for 12:30 pm. 

Anything could go wrong and throw this plan into total chaos. There is absolutely nothing WE will do to throw it off.  However, we’re subject to the responsibility and timing of others. As we all so well know, we can’t always count on the diligence of others, only on that of ourselves.

Then, of course, is the four hour drive to Placencia, only after the driver takes us to the FEDEX office in Belize City to return the XCOM Global MiFi device which won’t work in Belize. They are aware of the slow return mail and aren’t charging us for the time it takes for the package to get back to San Diego, California. 

We’ll need the device again by April 9th. We’ll have to pay the international shipping charge back to Belize so we can collect it at the same FEDEX office in Belize City before we depart on cruise #3 back to Miami for a same day departure of cruise #4.  At the cost of $395 a month for the device, it made no sense to hang onto it for this extended period. Postage both ways will be about $140.

Details, details, details!  The perception that this adventure of ours is comparable to a long vacation is delusional. This is work, lots of work and endless planning.  Fortunately, I find the process is pleasurable and much to my surprise, Tom does as well. 

We are both reminded, each and every day, to enjoy the living in the moment, even when it entails a phenomenal number of specific events falling into place. 

We’ll see how we feel about this premise when its 7:00 pm Tuesday night, arriving in Placencia in the dark, tired, hungry, opening one particular suitcase that has no clothing inside, taking out the multiple allergy and bedbug protecting mattress covers, putting them on the mattress, box springs and pillows all before we open our other bags.

We shall see and of course…report how it all goes.

Our cruise bill…Our last full day aboard ship..

Based on our accumulated bill for Thursday, January 17th and expected charges for this evening, cash tips we’re leaving the waiters, cabin steward, etc., we will have spent an additional $1210 (we budgeted $1450) over and above the cost of the cruise, our balcony cabin with one queen bed, for a grand total of $6755.48. 

Our average cost per day at $450.37 for all expenses, was much higher than we’ll experience on future cruises. This Panama Canal cruise is more expensive than other cruises based on the cost the ship incurs for its transit through the canal. They estimate their bill to be between $350,000 to $450,000, due to variables Panama charges for each transit. Of course, this expense is rolled out into the fare.

We have so much enjoyed this experience that we have no regrets about the cost. When we’ll arrive in Belize in 12 days, the cost of living will be more economical over the next almost three months. The rent for our little house on the beach is only $1275 a month. Of course, we’ll report our actual costs after the cruise to Belize ends at the end of this month and our costs after our time in Belize.

It’s Wednesday night at 11:00 pm. We just arrived back at our cabin after another fun evening aboard ship.  As much as we’ve branched out, trying new things we found ourselves, like most other cruise passengers, working our way into a familiar routine which is irresistible when at sea for 15 nights.

Awakening each morning no later than 7:00, we’d shower, dress and meander to the 11th deck for coffee and buffet breakfast in the Island’s Café, an enormous, efficient, spotless, well-staffed restaurant offering a wide array of breakfast foods from all over the world.

Tom, off his gluten-free diet during the cruise (he’ll be back to normal when we get situated on land soon) loaded up on eggs, bacon, sausage, a few little Danish pastries, and a glass of much-missed orange juice.

My daily choices, limited by my continuing commitment to stay healthy, is not only a low carb gluten-free diet, but eliminates all grains, starches, and sugar.

Surprisingly, I’ve been able to enjoy many foods aboard the Celebrity Century.

These many past days my breakfast has included Eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), topped with guacamole, a side of smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers, and sliced tomatoes plus 3-4 slices of bacon, Asian garlic beef, and a plate of grilled non-starchy vegetables. 

Having checked with the chef to ensure all of these items met the criteria of my way of eating, I enjoyed my two huge plates of breakfast each day plus a three-course dinner in the formal dining room each night (gluten-free and sugar-free items are designated on the menu). Leaving the ship feeling well and nary an ounce heavier, I am thrilled they so easily accommodated me.  

On the other hand, Tom, also eating only two meals a day (no snacking), leaves the ship still wearing his size 34 pants with only a few pound gain which surely will be lost once we get to our own cooking when we arrive at our beach home in Placencia Belize on January 29th. 

Tom surprised me by ordering Oysters Rockefeller for his first course at dinner tonight, enjoying every morsel. Every night at dinner he’s tried new foods, many he had refused to try in the past.

Staying healthy and fit is vital to the success of our continuing world travels over the next few years.  As Norovirus ravaged our ship, we stayed mindful of frequent hand washing, avoided handshaking and touching public areas. 
We not only dodged a bullet without a single incident of seasickness (without medications), even in the past three days and nights of rough seas but also survived the Norovirus outbreak. 

We stuck to our plan of no more than one hour at the pool in the sun each day completely avoiding sunburns. We walked no less than 10,000 steps per day, per my FitBit pedometer. We attended no less than one educational class, more often two, each day, and managed to see no less than four movies throughout the cruise.

Every night aboard the ship, we attended the 9:00 PM entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre. The first three nights we dined alone, after which we decided it was time to dine with other passengers, sitting at tables designated for meeting new people.  Each occasion has been an opportunity to enjoy the conversation and companionship of people from all over the world. 

At the end of every evening, we’ve reveled in what we jokingly referred to as “another boring day is Paradise,” not only in quality time spent together, but in making new friends and learning the history of unfamiliar areas of the world.

It’s now 12:30 pm on Thursday. We just finished packing all of my clothes in the following manner:

1.  Clothes for the next cruise beginning on Monday, January 21st on the Celebrity Equinox for eight days on our journey to Belize, kept in a separate suitcase. Thus, my other bags won’t be opened during the cruise.

2.  Clothes to wear tonight for dinner and the show

3.  Clothes to wear getting off the ship tomorrow and over the next three days in Boca Raton, Florida.

4.  Clothes to wear to board the ship on Monday. Goodness, that’s confusing. We’re done with that.

After a break for a walk, we’ll go back to the cabin and begin packing all of Tom’s clothing plus all of our miscellaneous items and toiletries. Tonight before 11:00 pm, our tagged bags are to be left outside our cabin door, (the cruise line provided the luggage tags with instructions left in our cabin a few nights ago), clothing and toiletries set aside for the morning when we disembark at 9:30, our designated time.

Tomorrow morning, our friend Carol will pick us up at the pier in her huge SUV (thank goodness) to bring us back to her gorgeous home in Boca Raton, situated on the Inner Coastal Waterway. Weather providing, we can enjoy time relaxing by her pool after we get our laundry done and repacked. Thanks, Carol!

We’ve had one great day after another. We promised each other we will never stop being grateful, continuing to treasure each day on its own merits, as if it were the first day on a journey of a lifetime.

The Celebrity Century???  Small with 1800 passengers, a little rough at sea.  Food? Magnificent!  Service? Extraordinary! Ambiance?  Pleasant, a little dated but very nice.  Would we consider Celebrity a cruise line, we will seek out in the future?  Absolutely!

Since this was our first of eight cruises, we don’t feel expert enough to provide a comprehensive review. Once we have a few more experiences under our belts, we’ll assess all of the cruise lines and ships we’ve experienced, sharing our thoughts with our readers.
Stay tuned! Lots more to follo

Twenty one days…

“They” say it may take 21 days to break a habit.   Yesterday, armed with this assumption, I began the process of changing the familiar routines that so shaped my days over the past two years of my own retirement, over the past 26 years of life here on the peninsula.  

Awakening at 4 am with a rare and unexpected head cold, I rationalized my stuffy nose and sore throat as the Universe’s way of reminding me to slow down, to breathe more deeply, to choke my organized and purposeful actions into a much gentler pace.  

In 21 days these daily habits, entrenched in our lives all these years, will be reshaped into new and unfamiliar patterns; brewing my usual morning tea in a strange teapot, pouring it into a different cup while tasting a slight variance from using bottled water. 

As always, the first sip will be accompanied by my gaze out the window in the near future at the vast expanse of the sea, mysterious and foreboding, as opposed to the cozy comfort of gazing at the lake for all these years, a shoreline in the not too distant horizon, predictable even on the windiest of days.  Not so the sea.

Stuffy head, I welcomed the cold, crisp air on the early morning walk, especially chilly at 32 degrees, fingers numb and tightly tucked into my pockets, having failed to wear gloves.  

Wiggling my toes in my tennis shoes hoping to ward off the cold, I picked up the pace walking almost an hour, stopping periodically to look up at a noisy flock of geese honking their way south or to blow my nose into the soft paper towels I had stuffed into my jacket before walking out the door.

When will I be so cold again?  In Belize, at the little oceanfront house, when the average daily temperature is 83 degrees in the winter months?  In Tuscany, next summer?  Doubtful. In Africa next fall, again a house on the sea, in a time in which it will actually be their spring? Unlikely. Or, in the prime season in Kauai in 2015, the ocean at our doorstep, the warm breezes in our faces? No, it won’t be cold.

The colorful leaves, crispy under my feet, a part of my expectations in any fall season yet to come, will forever be embedded into my memories of seasons so clearly defined.  We’ve enthusiastically welcomed and sadly bid adieu to the seasons, ready to move on to the next, often too cold with record breaking temperatures and snowfalls or, too hot with record breaking heat.

Twenty one days to break the habit of that which we have known and loved, at times bemoaned and begrudged, to begin anew in a strange land, finding our way with a touch of trepidation, with an abundance of wonder and with a never-ending desire to become familiar once again. 

Aboard ship for 59 days in the first 5 months…

On January 3, 2013 we’ll leave the US to embark on our first cruise. Over the next five months we’ll experience a total of seven cruises totaling 59 days at sea. Later, we’ll post more details about these upcoming cruises and house rentals.

First 5 months after leaving the US:

Cruises                                  #Days          Start Date        End Date
San Diego to Panama to Miami    15              01/03/13        01/18/13
Fort Lauderdale to Belize Cruise    8              01/21/13        01/29/13
Belize to Miami Cruise                  3              04/09/13        04/13/13
Miami to the Caribbean                7               04/13/13       04/20/13
Miami to Barcelona                     11              04/20/13        05/01/13
Barcelona to Mallorca                   3               05/01/13       05/04/13
Barcelona to Venice                    12              06/04/13        06/16/13
Total cruise days                        59
Homes included in above dates:
Placencia, Belize                         60              01/29/13         03/29/13
Ambergris Caye, Belize                 9               03/29/13        04/09/13
Majorca, Spain                           30               05/04/13        06/04/13
We’ll spend November and December, 2012 living in a lovely first floor condo overlooking the pool in Scottsdale Arizona, a commitment we’d made long before we decided to travel the world. That commitment created extra expense and inconvenience but we chose to honor our agreement.
We’ve decided to utilize these two months in Scottsdale to purchase and set up our new laptops (awaiting Windows 8 release soon), our new unlocked smart phones (being released into the market in November) and other technological devices that we’ll describe later upon purchase.

To take advantage of these two months we’ll prepare as much as we can of our 2012 taxes, forwarding everything to our accountant in Minnesota. We’ll get new passport photos taken (outdated after six months), apply for our second passports and visas, download 100 or more movies onto our portable external hard drive and get Tom’s new eyeglasses at Costco (great deal).

With the condo only 25 minutes from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, we’ve decided to follow our doctor’s orders and arrange appointment for Tom in gastroenterology for one last check (as recommended every few years) when one has IBS and Celiac Disease. Although he is symptom free due to our diet these two tests can confirm provide us with peace of mind; a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

Tom’s sisters spend the winters in Arizona, about an hour’s drive and we’ll visit them. In the first half of November we’ll drive to Nevada to establish residency, apply for NV driver’s licenses and visit family, later to spend eight days at Christmas in a house we’ve rented in Henderson to be close to family and friends for one last time.

We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in Arizona. In Nevada, on December 20th we’ll have our teeth cleaned. We’ll observe the Mayan Calendar’s End of Time on December 21st (hopefully, not really the end!), Tom’s 60th birthday on December 23rd, and of course, Christmas, away from “home,” the first time as true vagabonds.

A year ago, we would have laughed aloud at the thought of leaving behind everyone we love and everything we own, except for a gaggle of suitcases and hearts full of memories. 

Here we are, packed to the gills, totes filled with memorabilia currently scattered about the house for our kids to store for us. Our paperwork and photos are scanned, our documents and spreadsheets bursting with pertinent data stored in Dropbox for safekeeping, accessible from anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I spent an entire hour scanning a lengthy booklet from our well known national bank on wire transfer procedures, accounts which we’ve set up in both of our names. I inquired as to whether this booklet was online to be downloaded. “No, not yet,” they say. “Gee…kind of behind the times,” I thought.

It’s this little tasks that fill up substantial portions of my everyday. As I sit here in my comfy chair, writing this today, I tapped my Android smart phone (on its last days) to take yet another peek at the handy app on my home screen, Retirement Countdown Free and today, it reads: “1 Month 18 Days.”

One month and eighteen days from today we close the door to our home one last time. We leave behind our loved ones, the lives that we’ve known, our three little dogs buried in the yard, the friends on the peninsula, the eagle swooping in the trees in the summer, the coyotes hovering hungrily in the winter and the gentle fluttering call of the loons.

On a lighter note, we joyfully leave behind six foot snow drifts often trapping us for days and, mountains of goose poop. Yes, mountains of goose poop!

Lost in the minutiae…

If we hadn’t had over six months to plan our travels for the next five to ten years, it would have seemed impossible, bogged down in the details. So far, I keep taking deep breaths moving closer each day, some days at a crawl, others days a marathon.

Unloading our home and everything we have accumulated in a lifetime, except for a few totes our kids will store, the six suitcases, two carry on bags, computer bags and handbags (Tom’s murse), could be overwhelming in a shorter time frame.  

Not only must we continually address the travel planning, the shots, the doctor appointments, the insurance policies, the retirement board, but also the mounting piles of paperwork to prepare, scan or shred.  

In the interim, we have “life” to live, dinners to cook, clothes to wash, flowers to water, everyday errands to run and most importantly, family to see as often as possible. Fit in time with friends, daily walks, answering email, Facebook lurking and time rapidly flies by, two months and eight days until we walk out the door, leaving Minnesota and everyone we love behind.

Oh, I’m not complaining. Actually, I love every moment. This in itself, is a joy filled time, complex with never ending challenge, hopeful solutions and tons of new information flooding my brain. I didn’t know “it” had room after the “information load” environment in which we live.  But, it does, grabbing every tidbit of new data flooding into it’s mushy cells.

Yesterday, we took most of our grandchildren to Train Day, a family picnic provided by Tom’s employer.  The little ones had a blast exploring the gigantic train engine, a bright red fire truck; bouncing on the huge blown up contraptions, eating overcooked hot dogs while hanging out with us, PapaChooChoo and GrandmaChooChoo, We had a memorable day.  

(BTW, I don’t post photos of our little grandchildren online.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, fearing online predators.  When they grow up, I will. Not now.)

Several months ago, I posted a note on my calendar (one of many) to apply for new debit cards. They’ll expire at the end of January after we’ve already left the country. Since debit cards cannot be forwarded, this would have caused undue stress.  Our goal, as always, is to prepare so much in advance that we don’t often have to “kick ourselves” for forgetting to do a task such as this.  

On our way to Train Day, we stopped at the bank to order the new debit cards. While the banker ordered the cards, a thought popped into my head: we must set up a wire-transfer account in both of our names, providing us with easy access to our accounts (via a phone call as opposed to email for security purposes). This was on my list for this upcoming October but why not get it done now?  Two more of the minutiae out of the way! 

Returning home, I immediately ran around the kitchen making the crusts for our low carb, gluten, grain and starch free pizza for Friday Night Pizza, our favorite dinner.  Later today, I will make homemade salsa and cornbread to bring to one of the last of a few parties we’ll attend tomorrow. (Recipes for all of these items are on my earlier posts.  Simply hit the search filter).

This weekend, we’re planning to put all of our empty suitcases in the back of Tom’s SUV to ensure they’ll fit, along with the two totes we’re bringing for my son Richard Lasica, a successful real estate agent in Henderson, to store for us in Henderson, Nevada.  If they don’t fit, which I suspect they will, we will price rent a small trailer to haul behind us or, bear the cost of shipping the totes.  More minutiae. It seems to grow rather than diminish!

We can’t wait to be sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the ocean in our little beach house in Placencia, Belize, starting on January 28, 2013 which is five months and seven days from today.  Oh, oh, while in Belize we’ll have to prepare our 2012 tax stuff for our accountant as soon as we receive (online, of course) the W2’s.  Yuck!  Minutiae!  You can run, but you can’t hide!