Feeding hummingbirds…A simple syrup…a simple task…for simply wonderful bird watching…

It’s fun to watch the hummingbirds stab their delicate pointed beaks into the tiny holes of the feeder. See below for our easy recipe for the syrup.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a brown recluse spider we found on the veranda near our bedroom. Yikes. This morning Tom found a can of spray and sprayed it around the doorway and bedroom. Most insects don’t bother us, but anything venomous like this makes us take action.

When we arrived in Atenas, Costa Rica, 44 days ago, we noticed a hummingbird feeder hanging from a hook under the veranda roof. We had a red plastic feeder hanging from a tree in our old lives, but it was often blown to the ground in the spring and summer winds and storms.

Besides, no sooner than I’d make the sweet solution and refill the container, it was empty. Our lives were action-packed with work and responsibilities, and keeping this up was hardly a priority.

It’s rare to see more than one bird feeding at a time. They noisily fight with one another for dominance.

When we contemplated filling the feeder here in Atenas over these past weeks, we decided we’d give this a try and see if we could attract hummingbirds after spotting many beautiful and unique birds. 

At this point in our lives, we certainly can’t say we don’t have time, especially when we don’t have a rental car every other week during which we spend most of our time at the villa.

I looked up my old simple hummingbird feeder recipe to find this easy to make the concoction which the birds always seemed to love:

Hummingbird Feeder Syrup
4 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar

Place water and sugar in a saucepan. Stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool thoroughly.  Pour into the feeder. Any leftovers may be kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator for a week.

Soon, I’ll get a better photo.  Some of these hummingbirds are colorful.

Since neither Tom nor I consume any sugar, finding a good-sized container in the cupboard for guests to use certainly was an inspiration. In the past week, we’ve made three batches. Now for the first time in years, granulated sugar is on our grocery list app on my phone.

As we watched the feeder, which is in plain view as we’re seated on the veranda most days, until the rain and the wind make it impossible in the late afternoon, we’ve been thrilled to see dozens of hummingbird hits a day. They love it.

Over the first few days of filling the container, Tom stood on a wooden chair from the outdoor dining table, carefully reaching up to avoid dropping the feeder and maintaining sturdy footing on the chair. 

Yesterday, (duh) we decided he could avoid the risk of standing on the chair. As it turned out, the feeder is hanging from a hook attached to an outdoor rolling shade. 

If he rolls down the shade to eye level, he can avoid standing on the chair to take the feeder down to refill it over the sink in the kitchen. His fact is a huge motivator in keeping us interested in keeping up this refilling process. The below photo illustrates what we mean by lowering the rolling shade.

Tom was rolling down the veranda shade for easy access to the hummingbird feeder.

Speaking of photos, I’ve yet to take a decent photo of the hummingbirds partaking of the sugary syrup. The timing is crucial, and each time I attempt to take a photo, I’m either in the wrong spot with too bright a background or too dark and rainy. I’ll continue to work on this.

Over these past few days, something was baffling us. We could see a slight reduction in the amount of syrup in the feeder at the end of each day, perhaps down an inch or so, but most, if not all, of the syrup was gone in the mornings. Again, we’d make a new batch and refill the container, only to awaken the next day for the same scenario.

Last night, we decided to keep watch in the dark to see precisely what was happening. Much to our surprise, about a dozen hummingbirds were swarming around the feeder, fighting with one another for dominance and access to the sugar water. We laughed. Who knew they’d come at night in the dark.

At this point, we decided we’d bring the feeder inside at night to return it to its usual spot first thing in the morning. After all, isn’t the feeder intended to satisfy our greedy observation…as well as provide sustenance for the birds? This way, it’s a win-win.

The bright background makes photo-taking tricky.  I’ll keep trying.

This makes us laugh. “Just think,” I told Tom yesterday while we kept a watchful eye on the feeder while we lounged in the pool, “In only five months, we’ll be busy dropping pellets in the bush to attract 350 pounds (159 kg) warthogs to stop by for a visit.

From a tiny hummingbird to a giant pig…hmm…life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2016:

Upon further inspection at this restroom stop on the five-hour harrowing drive in Bali, we realized the narrow trough was the toilet. The bucket of water and scoop was for tidying up, not washing hands. Luckily, we always keep antibacterial wipes on hand. This facility was clean compared to others we encountered.  For more details, please click here.

A visit to a local farmer’s market…Birds that come to call…The sights and sounds of travel…Walking gingerly…

We captured this bird photo from quite a distance in the trees behind our condo. It appears to be an Eyebrowed Thrush.

If we’re patient and stay quiet, many birds will stop on the lanai railing for a visit. I keep the camera ready to go on the dining table moving gingerly when a bird stops by.
Occasionally, we’ll spend idle time sitting on the chairs on the lanai looking for signs of life in the dense rainforest, hoping to spot a few of the more unusual varieties.

Prices were high at the local farmer’s market, resulting in a less than usual crowd.

Hawaii is not known for its vast array of wildlife. To date, we’ve seen birds and mongooses (only on the Big Island). Of course, in the bird family are the zillions of wild chickens everywhere we go. 

Whether it’s a trip to the gas station, supermarket, or strip mall, there are chickens. It appears there are as many roosters as there are hens busily crowing and clucking day and night. The only reprieve seems to be from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am when they seem to sleep.

This fruit is red rambutan is also known as hairy lychee.  These were priced by weight, which wasn’t posted.

By 4 am each morning, the crowing and clucking go into full force, and at times, the sound is deafening. Tom often gets up to shut the windows when it interferes with his sleep.

Somehow, the sounds don’t seem to keep me awake. It was the same for us in Morocco. The sounds of the call-to-prayer and the roosters didn’t disturb me after a few days, but, Tom struggled the entire two and a half months.

Beautiful flowers for sale at the farmer’s market.

In Italy, we had to adapt to the clock tower next door to us, which chimed every 15 minutes or so. It was off by several minutes each time it clanged. Oddly, that sound didn’t keep either of us awake after we adjusted after a few days.

Each area and each country has its own nuances, whether it’s sounds, rituals, or traditions that only add to our joy of immersing ourselves in the best life we can live wherever we may live.

These are soursop, a fruit reputed to slow the spread of cancer, but no studies have proven it to be effective. These are priced at $6 each.

Surely, in the months to come, living in Australia will present new customs and rituals and sights and sounds, that only add to the experiences that we treasure as we make our way to new continents in our ongoing travels.

This morning, awake at 5 am, I struggled to try to go back to sleep, hoping for one more hour. Alas, it was not to be the case. Finally, I ambled out of bed, trying to walk quietly with the knowledge that someone lives below us.

This is pomelo, priced at $2 each.

I’ve always been a “bull in a China shop” walking loudly, banging and clanging cabinet doors and pots and pans (as Tom always says). Quiet, I’m not.

The day we moved in, we met the kindly gentleman that lives below us. He gently reminded us to walk quietly as he can hear every move we make.

Grass-fed cows along the road to the farmer’s market in Hanalei.

Not used to having neighbors in close proximity, when in most cases we’ve rented houses, not condos or apartments, it’s been odd to have to consider the heaviness of our steps and movements about the condo.

This has been particularly difficult for me. How does one change their gait when inside, and yet, continue to walk strong and steady when outside? Each time I stand I remind myself to walk gently. If I forget to walk gently, I assure you, Tom will remind me.

These Brazilian Cardinals are common to the Hawaiian Island and frequent visitors.

So far, the neighbor hasn’t complained. But, if he does, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’d have to slither along the floor like a snake to be any quieter than I’ve been attempting to be.

Today, I’m off to the health club and if the sun stays out, Tom will join me for a time by the pool. Afterward, we’ll be off for more exploring. Our days in Kauai are simple and uncomplicated.

A Red Cardinal on the lanai railing.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with new photos. And Sunday, we’ll be back with photos from a scheduled tour at 1:30 pm in the village of Kilauea. 

Have a fabulous Friday!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2014:

On this date, one year ago, we’d booked our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga, South Africa to Marrakech, Morocco which required us to fly to Cairo, Egypt.  For details and costs for that booking, please click here.

The Laysan Albatross story continues…A 63 year old Albatross named Wisdom has a baby…

s it coincidence that a few days before we even knew about the albatross living in Richard’s neighborhood that we read this story about a 63 year old tagged Laysan Albatross named Wisdom and her mate had hatched another egg?

Whoever gave albatross much thought, let alone found them incorporated into their lives?  We’d heard of them.  We knew they flew across the sea and had white feathers.  But, that was the extent of it.  Until now.

When last year, this story about Wisdom’s chick hit the airwaves and social media we hadn’t spotted it until it popped up again on Facebook a week ago. Tom and I both read the story in awe of this magical bird and only days later Richard told us about the albatross families living in his neighborhood.

We’re always surprised how life is filled with serendipitous moments, however small, from time to time, making us shake our heads and wonder about the mysteries we encounter along the way in our travels, in our lives.

“Wisdom the Laysan albatross is making headlines again. We’ve watched in wonder ever since she hit 60 years old and was still successfully raising chicks. Last year she and her mate raised another chick to fledge, and this year their newest baby has just hatched!
“As the world’s oldest known bird in the wild, Wisdom is an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope for all seabird species,” said Dan Clark, refuge manager for Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, in a news release. “She provides the world valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful creatures. In the case of Wisdom, she has logged literally millions of miles over the Pacific Ocean in her lifetime to find enough fish eggs and squid to feed herself and multiple chicks, allowing us the opportunity to measure the health of our oceans which sustain albatross as well as ourselves.”

Here is the link to
the full story about Wisdom and her chick.  

There’s never a moment that we are out and about that we aren’t searching for the next sign of life in nature to warm our hearts and remind us of how delicate and precious life really is and, how fortunate we are to behold its wonders as we continue to travel the world.

Yesterday, we took a road trip and have many photos of our own to share over the next several days. It felt as if we drove to the end of the world.  You’ll see why tomorrow.

Happy Hump Day!

                                           Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2014:

In our “small things” series in Africa, we were excited to get this close up of a moth through the glass on the veranda door, late one night. For other small things, please click here.

What did we do in the past 24 hours?…

Today, during our usual walk along the beach, we took this photo of the sprawling dock at Robert’s Grove Resort, located next door to our home at Laru Beya Resort in Placencia, Belize.  We find ourselves enjoying the resort next door’s four restaurants and health club.

We’re not on vacation. We’re living our daily lives in a manner not dissimilar to other retired couples, wherever they may live, wherever we may live.

Most days, we don’t awake to a day of planned activities as vacationers often do, ensuring every moment is filled with “getting your money’s worth.”  Usually, we plan an outing once a week or less, weather permitting.   

Dinner at Robert’s Grove Resort again last night, their usual Saturday night barbeque. Along with this scrumptiously prepared pig, there was all you can eat jumbo shrimp, crab legs, grilled red snapper, barbeque chicken, and a wide array of salads.  Dessert was homemade eclairs and Bananas Foster. I didn’t try any.  Tom couldn’t resist. 

Our intention, from the beginning of our planning for this many year’s long travel experience, was to live in an area for one to five months, exploring at our leisure, embracing its people and its culture, leaving behind any feeling of urgency, stress or a lengthy list of “must do’s.” 

We knew that ultimately this state of mind would ensure our ongoing happiness and contentment.  It has.

Arising early as do most seniors, the first thing item on the agenda after starting the coffee is to open the floor-length shades and sliding door to inspect the nature of the day, letting the fresh warm air fill our senses. It’s beautiful, almost every day.  A cold spell came through the past few days with temperatures in the 70’s with a bit of rain off and on. Today, cool, windy, and clear.  Perfect.

Wearing bathing suits all day, washing them with us in the shower each night before dinner, keeps our laundry costs to a minimum. I wash our underwear each day in the sink with a Tide lookalike, hanging it to discretely dry on a canvas chair on the veranda.  By evening, we can slip it on again, dry and fresh from the salty air. 

Tom relaxes with a cocktail before dinner at Robert’s Grove restaurant.

When we dine in as we will tonight, we wear shorts and tee shirts which, when dirty we leave in a mesh bag for the resort’s laundry service. Its returned hours later, wrinkle-free and neatly folded, still warm. Our laundry bill in the past month has been $19. 

Our divinely sweet Mayan maids, Gloria and her equally lovely helper Melinda are scheduled to arrive every Saturday and Wednesday morning at 9 am. Usually, it’s between noon and 4:00 PM. We don’t care. We adore them, their demeanor, their generous spirit, and their hard work. We try to clean up as much as possible before they arrive, trying to lighten their load.  We’ll tip them generously when we leave here in a little over a month’s time.

The aroma of the locally grown coffee provided by the resort fills the air;  the taste, the temperature, impeccable. Pouring ourselves, each a cup, ready for the day, we park ourselves as we often did in our old lives, on the now comfy sofa as opposed to the less comfy chairs (we rearranged the furniture a few days ago). 

Checking email, Facebook, financial matters, and balances on our credit cards each day has become as commonplace here in Belize as it was in Minnesota. 

We find that paying off our credit cards frequently gives us peace of mind in avoiding huge balances and potential interest charges with the constant influx of required final payments for upcoming cruises and rentals.  Our cards don’t charge exchange rate fees.  That’s worth more to us than any other perks

With the weather cooler and windy, I wore jeans to dinner for the first time in two months.

If we’ve spent any money in the prior 24 hours, I log the purpose and the amount on our Excel spreadsheets, placing the receipt in a file all of which I’ll soon scan, later tossing the needless slips of paper.  No point in dragging paper receipts all over the world. I do this daily. I check the budget, daily.  Obsessive?  Perhaps. But we always know where we are financially. It avoids worry. We both prefer that. 

Some days, we make breakfast, others we do not. We eat when we’re hungry, not at a set time unless we dine out. We both seem to get hungry at the same time or maybe we simply accommodate each other’s mention of hunger. Either way, it works for us. 

The walk along the beach invigorates us both, surprisingly a good workout as our feet drag through either the water or the soft sand, moving at a good clip. We can either head left or right on the beach.  We alternate, never tiring of the scenery, the smell of the sea, or the bright sun in our faces.  

Lounging by the infinity pool is a daily occurrence.  Often we’re engaged in lively conversation with other guests or with the villa owners from Minnesota, across the walkway from us. (They share mutual Minnesota friends with Tom! Small world!) We languish in the sun for an hour moving to the shade after an hour.

 Today, the little bird, a Kiskadee, and a crow friend stopped by while we lounged by the pool.
(Click on the link to find the Kiskadee toward the bottom on the page).

After pool time, we return to our villa again lounging on our veranda until close to 5 pm when the no-see-ums attack with vigor requiring us to escape indoors until after dark when they seem to dissipate to some degree. 

While preparing dinner, usually one of a small list of meals that we enjoy considering our limited diet, I drink hot tea and on occasion, Tom will have a cocktail.  We love the evenings, our meal, our conversation, and the sound of the waves lapping at the beach, only 15 feet from our veranda.

Tonight’s dinner, again our favorite, our gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, low carb pizza will go into the oven soon at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until bubbly.  Luckily found Italian sausage, Chinese button mushrooms, jumbo green olives, and organic onions to make this pizza. With no available grated mozzarella cheese at the store this past time, I improvised slicing the cheese instead. No, we didn’t bring a grater. No, we’re not tired of the pizza. “They” say we all rotate only 10 meals, over and over.
After dinner and dishes, we again pick up our laptops, while the TV with US station hums quietly in the background, neither of us paying much attention as we chatter on endlessly laughing at funny Facebook entries, smiling over the photos of our grandchildren and other family members. 
In the endless quest to refine and research our upcoming travels, we find ourselves often busily clicking away at night, sharing tidbits we find along the way:  a rental car agency in Kenya we could use, a grocery store nearby our vacation home in Madeira, a pub within walking distance in Tuscany or a cruise we may consider in the future. 
By 10:30 pm, we head to the comfortable king-sized bed each bringing along our smartphones neither of which possess a cell phone service although they each have WiFi available from our resort, both of which are loaded with books to read on our Kindle apps.  With no TV in the bedroom, we both read in the dark until we each doze off, peacefully sleeping through the night. 
So, there it is.  Our quiet days on the road, not so glamorous, just living life, enjoying each other, sharing our story with thousands of loyal readers all over the world which in itself adds so much to our experience.  Thank you for joining us.