Getting it all together….The tasks are never-ending…Four days and counting…

Hummm…a waterfall next to an escalator at the Recoleta Mall.  Unusual.

It was quite a productive day.  After uploading yesterday’s post by noon our time, I was determined to go upstairs to our hotel room on the second floor, pull out my nearly empty suitcase and begin packing for the cruise.


We’re allowed 23 kg (50 pounds) of checked baggage on the early morning flight to Ushuaia on Tuesday.  Ponant Cruise Line had no issue with how much we bring aboard the ship but the airline does.  Apparently, we’re leaving Buenos Aires on a somewhat smallish plane designated for the approximate 200 cruise passengers.

Tom’s watch battery died a month ago.  There isn’t a single jewelry store nearby that replaces watch batteries.  We decided to walk the distance to this mall thinking there might be such a store here but there was only a Swatch store which only replaces Swatch-brand batteries. We left the mall since there was nothing else we needed to purchase.

We’re scheduled to arrive at the airport at 4:05 am which requires we’re up at 3:00 am for the 30-minute ride to the airport.  We don’t usually fly out in the middle of the night like this so the early wake-up time will be a bit challenging.  The usual hour-long ride in traffic to the airport will be considerably less at this hour.

The prior night, we’ll have given the hotel staff our bags and boxes to store while we’re away which we’ll collect when we return to Buenos Aires for two nights on February 8th, after the cruise has ended.

The University of Buenos Aires, The School of Law, located in Recoleta.

Yesterday, to alleviate thinking about this process, I decided to complete 90% of my packing.  Leaving Tom in the hotel lobby on his computer, I headed up to the room preferring to get the task done on my own. 

He offered to come up with me to assist but I knew sorting through clothes and other items would be best if left to my own resources. It would require going through every item in my wardrobe asking myself, “Shall I bring this or leave it behind?”  There was no way I wanted to be in a position of regretting leaving certain items behind that I could have used during the 17-day cruise.

There was no need for shorts and lightweight summer tops.  I made piles of “to bring” or “not to bring” and the process moved more quickly than I’d anticipated.  Within about an hour I had my bag packed assuming the weight would be fine. I have 2 kilos of space left which I’ll fill with toiletries I’m still using now.

A colorful exterior of an ethnic restaurant near a park in Recoleta.

I packed minimal underwear knowing I could handwash it nightly which I usually do anyway in an attempt to make them last longer.  I’d purchased one warmer maxi length sleep-type dress and I have one cooler nightshirt to wear when that’s at the laundry.

In checking online, the ship has laundry service and the “butlers” assigned to each room can do touch-up ironing as needed (all for a fee of course).  There is no way we’d be able to last so many days with the clothing we have on hand.

In going through the shipped box of our cold weather clothing, I sorted mine from Tom’s and packed all of those items.  We also had to consider what to wear on Tuesday when we get to Ushuaia where it’s cold and we’ll spend the morning and early afternoon until we board the ship in the afternoon.

Weathered old building in Recoleta.

The cruise line has arranged a luncheon for us at a local hotel where we’ll hang out as we wait.  This should be fun as we get an opportunity to meet other passengers.  Some may have purchased a tour and won’t be attending the luncheon or waiting at the hotel. 

After I finished packing Tom entered the room suggesting we take off on foot to purchase a few last minute items requiring a trip to a pharmacy and the shop where we’d previously purchased the unsweetened coconut cream for my daily turmeric tea drink. 

The traffic was light on this street in Recoleta as we wandered about looking for a jewelry store for a battery for Tom’s Movado watch.

We’d have to purchase enough of the coconut cream to last during the 17-day cruise,  leaving a few little packages behind for the two-day return to Buenos Aires and the first few mornings in South Africa before we’ll have gone grocery shopping in Komatipoort.

We found two more jewelry stores about 10 blocks from here and decided to walk there first to see if we could get a battery for Tom’s watch.  No luck.  Neither of the two stores handled watch battery replacement.

Apartments along the main boulevard in Recoleta.

By 3:00 pm, we were back at the hotel with the coconut cream and pharmacy items. We walked 7,000 steps on my FitBit and we’d yet to walk to dinner later in the evening.  As it turned out, by the end of the evening we almost hit the 10,000 step mark we attempt to achieve most days.

Tom stayed in the room while I went back down to the lobby to begin scanning the many receipts we’d accumulated while here.  I’d already entered all the items on the spreadsheet which I do daily, so the task didn’t take more than 30 minutes.  I’ll scan the new receipts from these next few days on our final day and be done for awhile.

A man crossing the road with what appeared to be three greyhounds.

I felt so accomplished when done with the day’s tasks. Now I can work on the final expenses for the 31 nights we stayed in this hotel to have them ready for the last day’s post, in order to share them with all of you. 

Last night, we decided to dine at our favorite restaurant in Palermo, La Cabrera during the 40% off happy hour.  Once again, we had a perfect meal and chatted with another English speaking couple from the US.  It was dark by the time we began the walk back to the hotel. 

The park surrounding La Recoleta Cemetery.  We could see the monuments behind the brick wall.

Not quite ready for bed, we carried my laptop to a booth in the hotel’s bar and watched a few shows.  By 11:00 pm, we were in bed but we both had a fitful night’s sleep, awakening for extended periods.  Its the way it is.  A short nap may be in order later today.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as we wind down our time in Buenos Aires preparing for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting Antarctica.  Happy day to all!

_________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2017:

The views of the Huon River in Tasmania was beautiful on the way to Huonville.  For more photos, please click here.

Preparedness…Moving right along…All tasks under control…More photos from Nicaragua…

Tom at breakfast waiting for his eggs to be delivered to the table.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Another visit from one of our little furry friends, the Variegated Squirrel, commonly found in Costa Rica.

It’s hard to believe we were in Nicaragua one week ago, leaving the next day to return to the villa in Atenas.  This past week has been filled with the completion of many tasks looming in our minds. 

Options at the complimentary breakfast buffet including items for omelets.

Now, with so much accomplished, we can relax and enjoy our remaining time in this wonderful property and sleepy small town.  Tomorrow, we’ll head out for one of the last few times to grocery shop, stop at the pharmacy and wander through the park and center of town. 

A variety of cheeses and nuts were offered on the buffet at the complimentary breakfast buffet.

We’ve purchased all the clothing we’ll need for Antarctica and a wide array of supplies we’ll need over the next year which will be awaiting us when we arrive at the hotel in Fort Lauderdale Florida on November 22nd. 

We’re leaving the bulk of our bags at the hotel in Buenos Aires during the Antartica cruise. Once the Antarctica cruise ends in Buenos Aires on February 8th, we’ll ship all the cold weather clothing back to our mailing service in Nevada to save them for possible cold weather expeditions in the future.

Fruit at the buffet.

We’ll have to be very creative in packing the new supplies which surely will add to our overall baggage weight. However, we’ll only have one flight to deal with the excesses, the flight from Buenos Aires to South Africa.

We’ve yet to book a place to live in South Africa nor have we booked the flight from Buenos Aires, neither of which worries us.  Louise, our friend and property manager in Marloth Park along with her husband Dani, a home builder, have assured us they’ll find us suitable housing in the park, perhaps a last-minute cancellation or a property that didn’t get booked for our lengthy time-frame.

Tom’s plate after visiting the breakfast buffet.  The queso cheese squares are fried and prepared without a batter.  I had a few of these with smoked salmon and veggies.

Louise and Dani know we’ll be happy to move every few weeks or so to another house that becomes available.  This is suitable for us, rounds out our experiences and assists them with vacancies.  It’s a win-win for all of us.  The wild animals wander throughout the reserve so we’ll be just fine regardless of where we’ll live.

Yesterday, I completed the scanning of all our receipts and documents since the last time we did this while in Henderson Nevada.  Once we’ve scanned the receipts we toss them to avoid carrying and paying for the weight of paper in our baggage.

Tom’s made to order fried eggs.

 On the upcoming flight to Fort Lauderdale in 17 days, we can expect to pay for our checked bags with American Airlines as long as we don’t exceed the 23kg (50.7 pounds) limit to avoid excess weight charges.

All we have left to prepare is to pack our belongings that are scattered throughout the house, in cupboards, drawers, and closets.  All of our clothing must go through a short cycle in the dryer which may result in the necessity of ironing a few items.  The rampant humidity causes them to feel damp sitting in the closets.

The pool at night at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Mall in Managua Nicaragua.

Most of our clothing is wrinkle free but regardless of such a claim on the label, most still wrinkle.  Casual items worn on the ship during the day isn’t much of an issue but  I’ve made a pile of ironing for the evenings I can either hand off to Isabel or do myself.  We’ll see how it goes.

The sun is shining but as often the case, we see the usual clouds rolling in.  Yesterday’s pool time was spent under a dark cloudy sky.  Once thunder and lightning began we hightailed out of the pool.

Entrance to the hotel in Managua Nicaragua.
May your day be bright and sunny!                                                                            
_______________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2016:

Yorkeys Knob on a cloudy day in Cairns.  Since we’d spent three months in Trinity Beach (to the right in this photo) from June 11 to September 7, 2015, and had seen so much when there, we decided to stay on the ship.  For more photos, please click here.

Considerable planning for the upcoming year…Health issue improving…

For three night’s we had mozzarella balls stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.  There’s also one ball inside each meatball along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad.
“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

A new visitor to the tree by the veranda.  It’s a Rufous-naped Wren, a common bird species in Costa Rica

The thought of spending a year in Africa beginning in February 2018 can be daunting considering the number of supplies we’ll need to bring with us, many of which cannot be found locally or shipped.

Also, there’s a risk of theft of imported packages and also the possibility of lengthy delays.  We learned this when we spent almost a year in Africa in 2013/2014 when shipments took months as opposed to weeks to arrive including requesting upgraded shipping.

Many streets in business districts are one way and it’s tricky to spot the warning sign that says, “Do Not Enter,” No Play Paso in Spanish.

I take three low dose prescriptions, none of which are available over the counter here in Costa Rica (as mentioned in earlier post) with the brand or generics names for the dosages I need.  Also, Costa Rica doesn’t allow the import of any prescriptions, supplements or over-the-counter medications.  

Many countries throughout the world have McDonald’s.  We never eat there.

Subsequently, I recently placed an order for the maximum supply allowable in one specific order (a six-month supply) from ProgressiveRx and I’m awaiting the package’s arrival at our mailing service.

We couldn’t determine what type of store this may be.

This morning I placed an order for contact lenses, enough to last until we return to the US in 2019.  A few days ago, we ordered Tom enough Crystal Light Ice Tea to last for the next six months, enough to get him to South Africa after which he’ll order more to be shipped. 

There are many apartment buildings throughout the area, many similar to that one might find in other countries.

I gave up drinking Crystal Light when my gastrointestinal issues escalated, only drinking plain water.  As I continue to improve, over these past several days I’ve been drinking a morning beverage which I hadn’t been able to do for months.

To make the coffee drink I use the following: a ½ mug of brewed coffee with a ½ cup organic cocoa, 3T. unsweetened coconut cream, 1 tsp. organic cinnamon,½ tsp organic powdered turmeric with a dash of fresh ground pepper (pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric) with a few drops of liquid Stevia.  This drink tastes extraordinary and has no ill effects on my stomach.

A Lexus dealership in San Jose.  Cars are more expensive here than in the US.

Based on the lack of any negative effects of this morning beverage (after many months without drinking coffee), I’ll have to make sure I have all these ingredients on hand when we board the cruise on November 23rd.  It will be inconvenient to bring the coconut cream which I can replace with real cream which should be available on the ship.

We were surprised to see this store in Costa Rica.

With our priority status as Elite Members on Celebrity Cruises, I’ll be able to order bottles of quality bottled water during the free happy hour to drink in the evening and throughout the day.  I won’t be drinking wine or any alcoholic beverages on cruises or at any time in the future.  After years of not drinking alcohol, it’s simply too hard on my digestive tract.

There are numerous warehouse type stores throughout the country of Costa Rica.  This is the front entrance to PriceSmart.  There’s a Pricesmart store opening near Atenas on October 6th we’ll we definitely visit soon.

Since I begrudgingly started taking daily 20 mg Prilosec (Omeprazole) about five weeks ago, my ulcers (as a result of having had Helicobacter Pylori for 18 months) have improved tremendously and I’m finally able to eat without pain or experience burning pain when I don’t eat.  I can’t tell you how excited I am as I continue to improve a little each day!

Small shops line the highway.

There are numerous other products we’ll be ordering over this next month, including clothing for Antarctica to be shipped to our hotel in Florida where we’ll stay one night on November 22nd.  The next day, we’ll board the chip.

Typical scene along the highway to San Jose, the capital city.

For now, with the huge storms we’re experiencing we’re still staying put.  Tomorrow, we have to head to town to make several stops, take photos and hopefully get Tom a much-needed haircut.  We’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy your day!

____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today October 4, 2016:

View from the second story veranda of a villa that was owned by our landlord in Sumbersari Bali.  For more photos and details, please click here.

Shopping and haircut at the mall…How to roll-up shirt sleeves with ease…

Tom’s hair had grown unruly since his last haircut in Savusavu, Fiji in early November, almost five months ago.

After uploading yesterday’s post we headed to the Centre City Mall in downtown New Plymouth for clothes shopping for me and a haircut for Tom. 

The thought of shopping while Tom waited outside the stores I perused was a little concerning when I knew I’d want to hurry (by my own design, not his) with him waiting on a bench outside.

I’d suggested he drop me off at the mall, picking me back up a few hours later.  Since he needed a haircut and the “Just Cuts Salon” was located in the mall it made sense for us to do both on this same occasion. 

Often, when we rent cars for two or three months at a time, we avoid adding me as a driver when there are additional fees.  I don’t do so well driving on the opposite side of the road, as is the case in some countries.  As a result, I can’t shop without Tom with me during these periods.  As much as he doesn’t care to shop, he doesn’t complain or seem to mind waiting for me.

When we arrived hair salon at 11:30 am, he was told to return at noon for his haircut.  Several other customers were ahead of him.  He waited on chairs outside the shop while I quickly darted from store to store searching for a few shops that appealed to my taste and needs.

The stylist was concerned about cutting his hair the correct length at the Just Cuts salon in the mall.

I wanted to purchase wrinkle free shirts/tops for the upcoming cruises over the next 15 months.  Deciding against any dressy items for cruise formal nights for practicality reasons, buying wash and wear items such as dressy tee shirts and button shirts was all I wanted to purchase.

At first, I panicked when all the shops were offering warm winter inventory including sweaters, jackets and layered clothing.  Hoping for a touch of color in my otherwise drab wardrobe, my hopes were dashed as I went from rack to rack only finding navy blue, varying shades of grey, black and brown. 

Rather than bring sweaters and cover-ups for the cool air conditioned evenings aboard ship I decided on all long sleeved items with sleeves that could be rolled or pushed up.  

A while ago I found this J. Crew website with instructions for the easiest way to roll shirts which can be implemented for men’s or women’s long sleeve buttoned shirts.  This way, I could toss my stretched out cover-ups I’ve been wearing for warmth at night in the air conditioned spaces.

Always considering the weight of items in our luggage, this is a good remedy to reduce the number of items in my singular clothing suitcase subsequently having an effect on the total weight. 

It all seemed to be going well with little coaching from me on how to cut the sides and back.

Joining Tom when it was time for his haircut, I showed the stylist a photo of him with his hair at his preferred length. (As it turned out she was from Texas, USA with a cute southern US and Kiwi accent after living here 18 years).  I decided to hang around to ensure the sides and back were trimmed properly finding it wise to do so.

Tom had brought along a NZ $5 coupon to use but when it was time to pay (oddly they didn’t accept credit cards) he didn’t need to use the coupon when she discounted the price to NZ $18, US $12, a certainly reasonable price. 

He was happy with the cut, commenting to the stylist how all his life he didn’t need me to accompany him on haircut appointments.  I explained that I didn’t have to look at him 24/7 at that time either.  We all giggled.

By the time his haircut was done at 12:30 I’d yet to purchase the first item on my list. However, while he waited on the chairs reading a book on his phone, I’d perused a few stores with items that may work for me. All I’d have to do was try on a few items to ensure a proper fit.

In an one hour period, I purchased three button up long sleeve shirts, five dressy tee shirts, six pairs of earrings and eight pairs of cotton panties, all in three separate stores.  An hour later, we were leaving the mall with my bags in tow. I was content with my haul.

We were both happy with the finished product.

Once back home as I busily removed  the tags I folded the items neatly for packing in the next few weeks. After totaling all the receipts, I was surprised I’d only spent a total of NZ $242, US $163 for the entire haul, all of which appeared to be good quality.

With a recent purchase of a pair of somewhat pricey black pants, I was set with clothing until we’ll arrive in the US in summer of 2017.  I teased Tom as I totaled the receipts as to how odd it was that for under NZ $446, US $300 (including the black pants) I’d purchased all the clothes I’d need for a year or more here in New Zealand.

He laughed, saying, “That’s $300 more than I spend in a year.”  Pausing while making eye contact with me, “Just kidding, Sweetie!” 

Yea, well.  He has no interest in clothing (although he does need a few items) and has decided to wait to make any purchases until we arrive in the US.

On the way home, we made a few detours for photos happy to be out on a sunny day, a rarity most recently.  It was a good day.  We’re anticipating today should be equally good.

We hope you have a good day as well.

_______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2015:

This spot at Hanalei Beach in Kauai looks out to a sleeping dragon shaped mountain that inspired Peter, Paul and Mary to interpret the song written by a friend, “Puff the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalei.”  There’s considerable speculation that the words to the song were mainly centered around smoking marijuana which grew prolifically in Hanalei.  Here’s a video that further explains the shape of the dragon.  For more details on this year-ago post, please click here.
 

Preparing for the next location…The remote island of Vanua Levu…

On the return drive from Clifton Beach, we stopped at our favorite spot where we always find horses, kangaroos, and wallabies.

Yesterday, we communicated back and forth with Mario, the property manager of the house on Vanua Levu the second largest island in the Fiji archipelago, which we’ll move into in less than one month. 

Vanua Levu is considered by some worldwide island enthusiasts to be one of the most desirable islands on which to live in the world. There are considerable historical facts we’ll share once we arrive.

For now, we’re thinking in terms of getting ourselves there and situated including what we’ll need to live comfortably with the realization we’ll be living on an island with a population of only 130,000 and in the town of Savusavu with a population under 5000.

A little black and white bird.

Although tourists have flooded this island over the last decade, it still consists of small towns with minimal amenities as compared to those available in Australia. We’re anticipating that the shopping will be comparable to that which we experienced in Diani Beach, Kenya with grocery stores containing a minimal selection of products.

Most tourists do little grocery shopping. If they have a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, they may purchase such items as yogurt, sweet rolls, celery, milk, cookies, lunchmeats, bread, chips, and other snacks and beverages, none of which we purchase.

Of course, the stores in more remote locations keep products on hand that appeals to the masses. For us, it’s impossible to walk into a quick shop and purchase anything that works for our way of eating.

Is this some type of pontoon used to capture crocs?

However, if all an island has available is protein sources in the way of beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and cheese, and green leafy vegetables, they are all we really need. There is nowhere in the world that we’d live that doesn’t have these items.

Anything beyond those basic items centers around our preferences for a few special items which include homemade baked goods (in moderation) utilizing the following list of low carb, grain-free, and sugar-free products, organic if available:

  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Pure lemon and vanilla extracts
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Himalayan salt (we keep a supply in our luggage)
Clifton Beach proved to be a good spot to revisit.

After sending Mario this list yesterday, he replied that although coconut oil and vanilla is readily available, the remaining items may not be. After discussing this yesterday, we decided to purchase the remaining items while we’re still here and ship them to Savusavu.

This appears to be a wallaby, not a kangaroo.

With the high excess baggage fees for Fiji Air, it’s not possible to include them with our luggage, certainly not enough to last us for a total of four months on both islands in Fiji.

You may ask, “Why do we choose to live in such remote locations?” The answer for us is clear, “We love living in remote locations, close to the sea without the hustle and bustle of city life and yet have the option to travel to the city to enjoy the culture, all the while living a life as if we were locals.

Seven percent of the residents in Savusavu are ex-pats obviously choosing this location due to the fact that they love its beauty, climate, and availability of services and products that fits their needs. If they love it, most likely we will as well.

This wallaby family was curious as we walked along the bordering trail.

With our list ready on the grocery app on my phone, we’ll begin to purchase these items over the next several weeks of grocery shopping, accumulating our inventory as we go based on the availability of the items at the local grocery stores.

Tomorrow, we’ll stop at the post office to check on the cost of shipping the package based on our estimation of the weight of the items. We saved a cardboard box from a shipment of supplies we received from the US last week (containing jeans for Tom, tee shirts, shoes, and contact lenses for me) and we also have a roll of shipping tape. 

During our past visits, they ran off. This time, they watched us for a while and then ran off.

Mario explained that we’ll send the package to his post office box and once we arrive, we’ll be required to meet with the customs officer to go through the box to determine if we have any banned products.

In checking online for what can and can’t be imported to Fiji, we don’t expect any issues. Ideally, we’ll arrange for the package to arrive a few days after we do, allowing us time to set up the appointment with the customs officer. 

We recall the necessity of this same process on the island of Madeira, Portugal when our package arrived requiring a trip to Funchal to meet with and go through the items with a customs officer showing him our receipts for the items in the box, all of which were accepted without issue.

Even the horse by the fence made eye contact with us. Animals are not unlike people in that they revel in interaction.

Soon we’re off for the fitness center with a plan to return shortly afterward so Tom can watch the first preseason Minnesota Vikings football game using our HDMI cable to watch it from his laptop to the HD TV.

Although not a football fan, I’ll do some baking this afternoon which will give me an opportunity to begin to calculate the amounts of the above products we’ll need to purchase to send to Vanua Levu. 

Have an excellent day! We plan to.

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

Although it was a rainy evening we had a fabulous time on a gourmet dinner cruise on the Seine served with multiple bottles of wine, some of which Tom enjoyed and easy adaptation to my way of eating allowing me to have most of the offered items. It was a perfect night. Please click here for more photos, a video, and details.

Finding supplies we’ll need in Fiji…In part, today’s story is for the girls only…A treasure of a find in a church by the sea…

St. Mary’s by the Sea in Port Douglas is near the pier and is located on the ocean with fabulous views.

As we begin thinking about leaving for Fiji in slightly over a month, I’ve started to evaluate our inventory of toiletries and supplies. Looking online for stores on the remote island of Vanua Levu makes me realize that we’d better have the items we’ll use with us when entering the remote island. 

Most of the shops in Fiji sell typical tourist clothing and trinkets, none of which we’ll need or want. Vanua Levu is not the main island that most tourists visit for holidays/vacations in Fiji. It is the second largest in the chain of Fijian islands and considered to be the most beautiful and unspoiled. More on that once we arrive.

This church was originally built in 1880, destroyed by a cyclone, and rebuilt in 1911.

With our desire for the “most beautiful and unspoiled” we always pay the price of having everything we’ll need with us that we can carry with the exception of food and in that case as well, much will be lacking. 

Will we be able to find organic free-range eggs, grass-fed butter, grass-fed meat, coconut oil, coconut flour, almond flour, ground golden flaxseed, and flavorings we use to make a few low carb muffins and treats? 

The numerous stained glass windows have an ocean theme.

With the high cost of flying with overweight luggage, there’s no sense in attempting to bring the dry goods into the country, especially with certain restrictions on importing foodstuffs. It’s not worth the expense or potential trouble when we enter the country.

As for clothing, with a recent shipment from the US on its way to us as we speak containing one pair of everyday shoes and five tee shirts (for me) and jeans (for Tom), we’ll be tossing the worn items when the new items arrive, essentially avoiding any additional weight over our already additional weight.

What a pretty spot for a small wedding with the view of the sea out the window at the alter.

With a shopping list of toiletries we’ll need on an app on my phone, yesterday we headed to the Smithfield Mall so I could go to the largest pharmacy in the area, not where we’d purchased my few prescriptions but, another pharmacy compared to CVS in the US. Well, not quite.

Many women out there will relate to my list, especially those who like pretty fingernails and toes, who wear some makeup, and have a nighttime cleansing and moisturizing routine. As you can see from my photos over these past years, that’s me. 

Seashell stained glass.

Some women who fuss considerably less than I do, have suggested I get rid of it all; cut my hair, stop wearing and using cosmetics, wear glasses instead of contacts, and go bare bones. That’s not me. From the time I was a little girl, I loved “girlie” things. Why I’d change that now escapes me. 

Would I stop shaving my legs and other parts as well, to avoid the inconvenience of finding the appropriate blades to fit my shaver? This is me, traveling the world, not becoming a different person. I still and always will enjoy the fun of getting dressed and ready for an evening on a cruise or, in fact getting ready for each day.

I’m not one of those women that take hours to get ready even for more dressy occasions. From the time I step into the shower each morning, I’m out the door of the bathroom, dressed and ready to go in less than 30 minutes, all prepped for the day, ready to go out the door if necessary.

Sailboat stained glass.

Once a week, I do my nails with enough products in my possession to last for the next few years. Once a month, I do my own pedicure, removing the old polish and starting again, although, if the polish wears off sooner, I’ll do a quick retouch. These items easily fit into two small zipper sandwich bags only taking a small space in our luggage along with the other toiletries items.

None of this takes me more than 15 minutes all of which I enjoy doing.  I certainly have the time.  Also, it’s good to be able to stretch enough to do one’s own toes as we age. I’m always stretching to ensure I can continue to do my own toes. As seniors, it’s important to stay limber enough to go about normal daily activities which include bending and stretching.

That consists of my litany of “girlie” prep, all of which I thoroughly enjoy as a part of who I am, none of which I intend to change if I have any say in the matter. 

Clamshell stained glass.

Yesterday, Tom waited for me on a bench reading his book while I wandered through the long indoor mall on my way to the Smithfield Pharmacy, optimistic I’d find everything on the list as follows:

  1. Hairbrush – found
  2. Hydrogen peroxide for teeth cleaning – not available (will find elsewhere)
  3. Eye makeup removed pads – not available (found alternative, via a separate bottle of remover and cotton pads)
  4. Polish remover pads – not available (found alternative, via a bottle of remover and cotton pads)
  5. Night face cream – brand not available (found alternative)
  6. Retractable brow pencil – not available (found alternative requiring a pencil sharper which I already have on hand)
  7. Portable, replaceable, sonic toothbrushes – not available (found alternative)
  8. Whitening toothpaste – our favorite brand not available (found alternative)
  9. Emery boards for pedicures – not available (found alternative)
  10. Organic, low chemical, deodorant/antiperspirant – not available (didn’t find an alternative)

Product availability is different in each country we visit. It is imperative that we adapt to those differences by accepting that we can’t always find our favorite and familiar items. 

Historical photos posted in the entryway.

Sure, four of the items on this list are for me, the remainder is toiletries used by both of us. If we couldn’t find them here in modern Australia, we certainly won’t find them in Fiji. Thus, before we leave here, I also need to find the above listed and not found items which should be fairly easy at other stores:

  1. Hydrogen peroxide (most likely available at other pharmacies)
  2. Organic deodorant/antiperspirant (most likely available at health/vitamin shop)

With my heavy bag on hand after spending slightly over AUD $100, USD $73, I headed back out to the mall looking for my next item, some type of nightshirt for me to wear to bed. Recently, my one remaining pair of cotton pajamas has felt too hot at night and after washing frequently has begun to fall apart. Lately, I’ve been wearing one of Tom’s tee shirts instead. 

Tom’s tee shirt is too big for me, resulting in my continually untwisting it during the night. With many warmer climates facing us in the future, a comfy cotton women’s nightshirt would be ideal. Entering a store in the mall that had a women’s lingerie department, in no time at all, I found a small rack of nightshirts.

Another stained glass window looking out to the beach park and pier in Port Douglas.

My dilemma was the size. I didn’t recognize the size numbers, different than in the US and other countries we visited where on occasion I may have purchased a few items. With the help of a friendly salesperson, she found my size in the backroom. I purchased two at their sale price of AUD $18, USD $13.10.  What a bargain! 

After changing into one of the comfy, baggy but not too baggy nightshirt last night after dinner, I was thrilled with the fit and the comfort of the fabric which ultimately attributed to a better night’s sleep with no middle-of-the-night untangling required.

St. Mary’s by the Sea in Port Douglas was originally a Catholic church, is now multi-denominational performing services for a variety of religions.

Content with my purchases, I found Tom as expected awaiting my return while sitting on the bench outside Woolworth’s reading his book. After a quick trip into the market for a few items to last until Thursday’s upcoming shopping trip, we were on our way home.

Today, we’ll be working on financials, updating the spreadsheets with the recent purchases and if the sun stays out, we’ll head down the steep steps to the new comfy chaise lounges by the pool for a 40-minute dose (20 minutes each side) of Vitamin D. 

Later in the day, we’ll be off to the fitness center, which will complete a day not unlike a day in the life of any retired person, anywhere in the world, living life on their own terms, with lipstick and polished toes or not.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 4, 2014:

We walked a few miles to the French Army Museum in Paris, Musee de l’Armee de Invalides.  For more photos, please click here.

Shopping and trying on clothes…Haven’t done that in awhile…Remembering a funny shoe story…Four days and counting…

The boutique, Azure, had a wide array of quality women’s and men’s clothing.

Feeling better yesterday, the last day taking the antibiotic Cipro which had finally had done its job, I was anxious to go shopping for a few things to wear on dress-up nights on the upcoming cruises. 

The boutique clothing store Azure, had caught my eye on a few walks through the Princeville Mall over these past four months. Of course, it caters to its local demographics, the senior population, with lots of flowing, Hawaiian themed flowered print tops, a style that has never appealed to my tastes. Fortunately, they had numerous other options more appealing to me.

With the long sleeve white dress shirt we’d ordered for Tom which is still in the plastic package avoiding becoming wrinkled until we board the ship and hang it up and, his black pants, that’s about as dressy as its going to be for him.

In an attempt to avoid over dressing as his “date” I decided that a few casual dressy shirts and tops, my style, not too flowing and not too flowery, would be an excellent find. 

Connie knew the store’s merchandise well, making this rare shopping experience as easy as possible.

In the past few days, I’d already tossed a number of clothing items to lighten the load to make way for new items. I tossed a pair of jeans shorts that were always too small, seemingly marked the wrong size when I received others at the same time, in the same style and size that did fit me. Out of the country at the time, it made no sense to return the one mis-marked pair of shorts. Instead, I’ve carried them around for two years! 

Also, yesterday I decided to toss my water shoes. With a design flaw, they hurt my feet, causing blisters, and would likely do the same to others if I donated them. I’d worn them once in Belize when we were on a tour through the rain forest when I looked down to see a black thing on the shoe, thinking it was a giant black bug.   I screamed hysterically. Everyone in the tour group laughed, especially Tom, when I realized it was an item on the shoe as shown in the photo below. 

That event transpired before we spent almost nine months in Africa. I don’t scream over bugs or, possible bugs anymore.  I flick them away or get Tom to scoop them up with the broom and dustpan. 

Now, I’m down to five pairs of shoes; one pair of Africa boots, one pair of workout shoes, one pair of white leather Keds and two pairs of sandals, one black, one tan.

Walking on a tour through the rain forest in Belize in February 2013, I looked down to see this black thing on my shoe, thinking it was a big black bug. I screamed. I no longer scream when I see bugs after spending almost nine months in Africa. I got over it. We still laugh over this shoe thing.

Also, I tossed two worn tee shirts, one worn pair of workout pants, and a pair of black Capris I’ve carried around since day one in our travels. I need to complain about those black Capris. They were of good quality that fit well in the legs and hips, to a point. 

Then, that low slung hip hugger thing kicked in that made them sit in a place on my hips where they’d fall down every time I moved. What’s the deal with that? I know I’ve written on this topic in the past, but it continues to baffle me when this style simply doesn’t seem to change as the years go by.

Whoever thought that mature women (over 30) would be interested in wearing hip huggers, no matter their shape and size must have been nuts. We have a waist, a natural indentation in most of our shapes, that’s a logical spot for the “waistband” of pants to sit. I get the disgust over “mom jeans” which I don’t wear. But, I do see a certain appeal for a slightly below the waist cut on jeans and pants. With a little stretch in the fabric and a good fit, a pleasing look may be accomplished for most women.

Due to my picky attitude over this reality and my tall stature with a 35-inch inseam, buying pants is nearly impossible for me. The only jeans I’ve found that fit me are from Old Navy when ordering an extra long in my size. A year ago, I ordered three pairs of jeans that we had shipped to Madeira along with other items. These should last me for years to come.

The boutique is arranged to take advantage of every bit of space, leaving many options for shoppers.

As a result, I have a few bottoms other than jeans and shorts, especially nothing dressy other than two skirts, one cream, and one black. Oh, what I’d give right now for an extra tall pair of white jeans. I have no choice but to wear my workout ankle length leggings that actually look OK when the top is appropriately dressed up, worn as an alternative to the skirts.

Last week, when Tom drove to Lihue to get another rental car, he was unable to list me as a driver of the car when I wasn’t in attendance to sign the documents. Subsequently, I am unable to drive the rental car these few remaining days.

Having Tom wait in the car while I try on clothes didn’t bother me or make me feel rushed. He never complains while I  grocery shop and this occasion would be no different.  He sits in the car, windows open reading his book, totally entertained for as long as necessary.

He dropped me off at the front of the store.  Hesitantly, I entered, not optimistic I’d find much of anything.  Meeting Connie, the helpful salesperson at Azure made the painful experience easier. Not painful in an illness kind of way. Painful in, who likes to try on clothes in a tiny, hot, non-air-conditioned dressing room in Hawaii or anywhere for that matter? Not I.

I’ve never been attracted to silky, flowing tops.  As for dresses, they take up too much space and weight in my single clothing bag.

Perhaps this is the reason why I haven’t shopped in a store in so many years, other than the few items I purchased in Boston last September when dear cousin Phyllis took me to a mall to Victoria’s Secret to purchase three bras (which by the way, are holding up very well. I think I can make it with these for another few years). 

After getting a pull-on shirt stuck over my head and shoulders almost having to ask for help, I decided to call it a day. I’d made a pile of six items, spending $290, surprised over the good prices. 

Connie did an amazing job of helping me pick out what I liked. Oh, what did I like? I had no idea when I hadn’t shopped in so long. We figured it out and I’m thrilled with my purchases, none of which remind me of the loose flowery tops with shoulder pads that my mother wore in the ’80s.

Finally, I was back in the car with Tom. As soon as I sat in my seat, Tom cranked up the AC when he saw sweat dripping off my brow. I guzzled my awaiting mug of iced tea. Maybe I wasn’t totally recovered enough to partake in such a vigorous clothes-trying-on session. I hadn’t exerted myself beyond folding laundry and cooking easy dinners in almost two weeks.

Luckily, after Connie helped me scour through the racks of merchandise, I was able to find six items to purchase.

I’d thought of taking all the items I purchased out of the bag and laying them on the bed to take photos to post here. But, Connie folded each item so neatly that they’ll be easy to pack. Instead, we plan to take more photos of us on the cruise as has been requested by some of our readers. 

As for packing, the third bag and duffel bag are done. Yesterday, we washed our jeans and shorts and bleached all of our white clothing which we do when moving to a new location. We packed the duffel bag with all of the jeans which we always carry on the flights. It weighs about 40 pounds which prevents us from paying extra weight fees we’d incur if these jeans were packed in our respective single bags.

Our total checked luggage: two large bags, one medium bag. As for carry-on: the duffel bag with the jeans, one computer bag with both laptops, the pill bag, and my purse all of which fits on our one remaining wheeling cart.  That’s all we own, folks, all of our worldly goods. That’s still hard for us to believe.

Almost neon-colored flowers we found on a walk.

Over the next three days, we’ll begin to post favorite photos we’ve taken in Kauai with a few from Maui, Big Island, and Oahu as we leave the state of Hawaii at long last. On Saturday, when we leave Kauai, we’ll post our final expenses for the four-plus months we’ve lived in Kauai.

On Sunday, we’ll post our one-night experience in Honolulu staying overnight in a hotel and heading back to a restaurant we loved. On Monday after boarding the ship on Sunday afternoon, we’ll post photos of our cabin, the ship and our boarding experience and then…the fun will begin.

Have a great Tuesday!

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

In Madeira, Portugal, as in other countries we’ve had to put a coin into the grocery cart in order to release it. The coin is returned when the cart is hooked back up to the chains. For more details on grocery shopping when all labels are in Portuguese, please click here.

52 days and counting…Two years upcoming in the South Pacific…Has our stay in Kauai been too long?…Mindless dribble…

Finding bananas and any fruit growing while on a walk is always delightful.

It’s hard to believe that in only 52 days we’ll be leaving Hawaii. As of today, we’ve been in the Hawaiian Islands for exactly 180 days when our ship, the Celebrity Solstice, arrived for a tour of the islands.

The pods from which bananas grow. We saw these in Madeira but they were a different variety.

It was on October 5th, that we disembarked the ship when it docked in Honolulu, Oahu, where we spent 11 days in a condo in Waikiki Beach. Next, we spent six weeks in Maui, six weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii, and now, the time is passing quickly as we make our way into the final days of over four months in Kauai.

Queen Emma Giant Spider Lily.

We’re confident that we visited the islands in the correct order. Kauai has been the perfect island on which to spend the longest period as mentioned in a zillion previous posts. 

When we originally discussed spending four-plus months in Kauai, we cringed over the concept of such a long stay which proved to be the longest period in any one location since we began our travels almost 30 months ago. Looking to the future, we have no intentions of staying in any one location for longer than 90 days with the exception of Bali, where we’ll stay twice for 59 days with a two-month gap in between.

The condos on the right have a fabulous view of the sea and sunset, but the walk down to the beach can be difficult for some. We’ve done it once and may not tackle it again.

The fact that we could take a cruise to Australia, rather than fly, making the journey itself an extraordinary experience, greatly contributed to our desire to stay in Kauai for this extended period. 

Another influential factor was our desire to stay put for a while after the expense of the family holiday on the Big Island over Christmas. Staying in one location provides us with an opportunity to financially recover when moving about always ups the expenses.

Overlooking the ocean on a sunny day.

Having paid, in part, as stipulated in various upcoming rental agreements and for upcoming cruises, we have less than $20,000 outstanding for rentals for the remainder of 2015, greatly putting our minds at ease. These sums are spread over a series of months as we near arriving at the various locations, making it not such a hard pill to swallow, all at once.

As the days quickly pass, in another month, we’ll begin thinking about packing, including the products we’re accumulating at our mailing service in Nevada that we have yet to be shipped. We continue to contemplate and research the availability of items in the South Pacific.

There’s always “vog” in the mountains, although, the stunning coloration of the hills can be easily be seen. 

Tom’s three pairs of jeans, cargo shorts, a staple in his limited wardrobe, are threadbare. We tossed one pair a few days ago and once the three new pairs arrive, we’ll probably toss the rest. Jeans are heavy, adding greatly to our baggage weight. 

Several of my tee shirts are being beckoned by the garbage can as well as some of my old shorts. When recently, I’d purchased and had shipped, four new pairs of shorts from Old Navy I ruined one in the laundry when I’d left two gel cap magnesium pills in the pocket which I take with dinner each night.

On a walk by myself, I was enthralled by the view as I approached our condo (not shown in this photo).

We’d gone out to dinner and I’d stuck the two pills in the pocket, hoping to remember to take them at the restaurant. We were having such fun that I forgot to take the pills. When checking the pockets before washing, I didn’t reach deep enough into the pocket to take them out.

Alas, the pills ruined the shorts in a bleach-like manner. Thank goodness, they didn’t ruin the remainder of the dark-colored laundry. Gee, and I swallow these? 

Pink Ginger plant with colorful leaves.

I’m stuck wearing these ruined shorts around the house almost daily in hopes of wearing them out enough to give them the “heave-ho” before we leave. I’m not about to pack a pair of ruined shorts in my luggage when space is limited.

With more supplies yet to arrive in the next package from our mailing service, we continue to search online and consider the availability of certain products we frequently use in our travels that may not be available in the South Pacific; our special toothpaste, a few cosmetic items, a few adapters suitable for the upcoming locations (lessons learned from burning out the old adapters).

This was the first time we’d taken photos from this side of the Pali Ka Kua condos in our area.

Tom is still wearing his original batch of tee shirts. He, unlike me, will wear the same tee-shirt over and over again (while I wash it every other day), until it finally bites the dust.  You’ve probably noticed this in the photos I’ve taken of him. 

In our old lives, we’d only wear a tee shirt one time and wash it.  Now, we wear them twice, extending the life of the shirt by 100%. It’s the washing and drying that wears out clothing. In the South Pacific, our clothing will be hanging outside to dry, again extending their life by about 25%. Clothes dryers are seldom used outside the US.

The Makai Golf Course runs through many areas of Princeville, creating beautiful scenery.

Whoever thinks of this stuff but us? None of this ever entered our minds in our old lives; the long-term preservation of clothing. If a sock had a hole, we tossed it and the entire pair if it didn’t match any others. 

All of our socks are of the same brand and style. If one sock is tossed, we save the mate which goes into the flow with the others, eventually finding a mate.

Considerable amounts of lava rock exist in Kauai, although most beaches are sandy.

This may all appear to fall into the mindless drivel category. For us, what may appear to be trivial and unimportant falls into a category of mundane conscientiousness that somehow, we both manage to address in our daily lives.

Today? Soon we’ll be off to the pool and fitness center and later, the market. Saturday night is yet another outdoor Full Moon Party, hosted by dear friend Richard. We plan to show early to help Richard set up the tables and chairs in the vacant lot used for this event, the second month in a row.

We’ve seldom seen such bright colors as there are in Hawaii. These appear to be a type of Plumeria, flowers used in making leis.

We’re deciding on which pu pu we’ll prepare to bring to the party. Many of these events stipulate that guests bring a pu pu to share, I’m running out of ideas. I love it that my big challenge of this week is which pu pu to make! Any suggestions?

                                              Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2014:

Taking a cab in Marrakech, we wandered through a neighborhood with many shops and restaurants. For details from that date, please click here.

Settling in…Paradise continues to please…A wonderful memory from one year ago…

 
The Red Crested Cardinal is native to South America with this bright red head, crest, face, chin, and upper breast. The upper parts are gray with an incomplete white collar that nearly meets at the back of the neck. It has white underparts, a light gray bill and gray legs and feet. It mainly feeds on plant seeds, fruits, berries, and insects. It has an undulating flight. The sexes are similar. This is a common bird in the Hawaiian Islands and yet each time we see it, we’re in awe as we were when we took this photo from our lanai.

We must admit we were concerned. Four months in one location was a frightening thought. Not only had we decided on staying in Kauai for four months to “lick our wounds” from the holidays but also, the decision was based on our booked cruise from Honolulu to Australia on May 24th and subsequent plans in the South Pacific for the upcoming two-plus years.

Vegetation from the lanai of the condo. Hearing the birds singing from inside the condo is a pleasure!

Our original plan had been to stay in Princeville from January 15th to May 15th returning to Honolulu for nine days, staying in a hotel. After our 11 day experience in busy Waikiki/Honolulu, we reconsidered. 

By the minute the sunset view changes, inspiring us to run back and forth outside.

The only way Honolulu would be appealing to us would be to stay in a hotel. Our last condo in Waikiki wasn’t our cup of tea and for only nine days it’s not worth booking a vacation home, having to stock groceries and household supplies.

The ever-changing view of the mountain from the lanai drives us outdoor to check frequently.

As a result, we’ve asked the considerate owner of this lovely condo if we can extend our stay until May 24th. With his booking calendar online, it appears these extra days may be possible. If not, we’ll head to Honolulu and as always figure out a solution.

A touch of blue sky brightened the view.

Speaking of stocking groceries and supplies, yesterday we drove back to Lihui, the town where the airport is located (45 minutes plus traffic) to go to Walmart to use up a $400 gift card and to Costco to use a $500 gift card from credits on two returned laptops neither of us found acceptable. We saved this gift cards to use for this specific purpose, stock the condo in Kauai with household products and groceries. 

At sunset, the sun’s rays beaming on the ocean. 

After spending $1249.75 combined at both locations, filling the tiny no-automatic-door-locks-vehicle to the brim we were back on the road to Princeville. This condo, although beautiful, has limited storage space.

As the sky clears we have a better view of the green mountains.  That’s why Kauai is known as the “garden isle,” for its lush greenery.

Utilizing the utmost of creativity we’d both used filling the car, once again we did so in putting away all that stuff.  Multiple rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry supplies, cleaning apparatus, and even dish towels and an electric teapot, found their way into tucked-away places. The perishables easily fit into the refrigerator and freezer into the roomy new refrigerator.

Unfortunately, we have a little more organizing of ancillary “stuff” from our luggage in order to take interior photos of the interior of the condo. We’ll do this soon and post the photos.

This morning’s hazy view.

Last night for dinner, we each had a giant slab of prime rib we’d purchased at Costco for a mouth-watering experience. Adding salad, fresh green beans and a half of an avocado (for me) stuffed with one of Costco’s delicious low carb dips, we were full and content.

And still today, after a walk in the neighborhood once this is posted, I’ll need to head to the local Foodland for the first time, located in the Princeville Shopping Center for yet more foodstuffs, when neither store was able to complete our lengthy grocery list, longer than usual with this extended stay.

These nearby billowy clouds reminded us of both Tuscany and Madeira where we spent five month collectively, surrounded by mountains and often these low lying clouds.

Ah, I bet our readers are wondering what we’ll write about for four months. We’ve already started a list of topics and its running wild. We plan to do a fare share of sightseeing, beach visits, researching plants and vegetation unique to this island, historical facts, cultural facts and an upcoming story for tomorrow that may make you smile.

Enjoy the weekend!

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

It was quite the traffic jam in Kruger Park as we made our way to the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa for a three day mini vacation. For details and many more photos, please click here

Trip to the city of Funchal to customs…A drive home in dense fog…One year ago…Livorno, Italy….

Was this the statue we were looking for to indicate we were close to the post office?  We didn’t think so.

Where do we begin?  At 8:30 yesterday morning, we headed out the door, taking several items with us in order to pick up our awaiting package at customs in Funchal; my phone with the turn by turn directions on the screen, my laptop with Google Maps turn by turn directions and, a file on my desktop containing nine receipts for the customs office.

In order for customs to release the package to us, we had to travel to the main post office in Funchal, we had to produce receipts for each item and pay the subsequent VAT (value-added tax) and customs fees. 

While we were in Funchal the dense fog rolled in.

Ideally, all of the receipts would have been in the package with the items. As those of us who shop online are aware we don’t always get anything but a packing slip in the box which may not indicate the actual prices we paid for the items. The cost of the items would be contained in the original online order receipt.

Thus, I gathered all of the receipts from my email folder, placing them in a folder on my desktop, ready to review. Our portable printer died and there was no printing facility within miles. As a backup, I put the receipts on a zip drive.

It looks like smoke, but its actually fog.  I took most of these photos from the freeway through the car’s windshield.

As we walked out the door, we both felt a sense of trepidation. We hadn’t had much luck finding our way around Madeira when streets are poorly marked if at all, GPS doesn’t work and maps are impossible to read. We’d tried every online map app we could find. Apparently, Google Street View Car (or whatever they call it) hasn’t been to Madeira.

Tom knew how to get us to the “via rapida,” the freeway, in order to head to Funchal, the capital and largest city on the island of Madeira. Our first exit was 18 minutes down the “rapida,” Exit 9.  It should be easy, but we weren’t optimistic based on recent experiences.

Having lived far from the ocean in Minnesota we rarely saw anything like this.

Carefully, we watched the exit numbers while I had my laptop open on my lap with the directions. My phone may pick up a GPS signal from time to time, but turn by turn directions are not dependable in Madeira. It was easier to follow the directions I’d saved on my computer.

As we passed Exit 8 Tom hugged the right lane hoping to turn off onto Exit 9. There was no Exit 9. We didn’t bother to go back and try again. We were positive we hadn’t missed it

A terraced farm on the hill.

I won’t spend the next 1000 words trying to explain how we eventually ended up at the post office. It was a combination of assistance from a kindly local, pointing us in the right direction, and pure and unequivocal “safari luck.” It took no less than 90 minutes to find it. Suddenly, out of the blue, we were at the post office that we more stumbled upon than found.

Inquiring about customs at the information desk in the lobby, we were pointed in the direction of the main post office, modern and not unlike those we frequented in the US. We took a number, found a seat, and waited 20 minutes, only to be told the customs office was across the lobby.

At points along the drive, the fog was only visible at a distance.  The 80 on the speed sign is in kilometers per hour which is equivalent to 50 miles per hour.

Squeezing into a tiny waiting area, we began another wait, this time much longer, as a young couple loudly argued in Portuguese with the customs officer.

We were standing in this tiny hallway within four feet of the arguing couple with nowhere else to stand. It was evident that the customs officer was at the end of his rope. This would hardly help our case when the time came for our turn.

The fog rolled in quickly.  By the time we exited this tunnel, we were shrouded in fog.

Finally, the couple left. He spoke English well enough to handle our business. We always prefer to approach these situations as calmly and diplomatically as possible. Within minutes, Tom had the customs officer laughing which helped temper my tinge of anxiety over the fact that our receipts weren’t on paper. 

Aren’t we living in a digital world? Is there really a need to be use paper anymore? Much to our surprise, he decided to accept my handwritten list of the cost of the items in the box that I’d brought along as an additional backup. Gosh, I’m glad that I’d brought the list on a sheet of lined yellow legal paper even if it was written in my usual illegible chicken scratch.

There were puffs of fog on the road as shown in the left lane.

All in all, we spent over an hour with the customs guy, chatting, laughing, and having a good time. He charged us only EU $42.60, US $58.13. The cost of all of them in the box was US $586,  EU $429.43. The taxes were less than 10%. It could have been so much more from what we read online, as much as 40% of the value of the contents.

Once again, we were reminded of the importance of diplomacy and kindness. It doesn’t always work but, it certainly reduces the amount of stress when trying to “negotiate” with a service provider.

Finally done, we vigorously shook hands with the agent and were escorted to the loading dock where we paid the EU $42.60, picked up the box, and were on our way back to the parking ramp across the street. Tom managed the bulky box while I carried my laptop wrapped in my waterproof jacket. It was raining.

On the way home, we stopped at the local grocer for a few items. While I shopped Tom purchased a few muffins at the bakery next door.

A few months ago, a screw fell out of Tom’s laptop causing his screen to crack from opening and closing. We’d hoped that we’d find a computer store in Funchal. Luckily, there was a mall we had to enter in order to go to the parking ramp with a huge computer and digital equipment store.

Tom took the box to the car while he grabbed his computer while I waited for him in the mall. We headed to the tech support department of the huge store. Again, we took a number waiting no less than 30 minutes, only to discover that although they serviced Acer computers, they didn’t have the screw. Off we went.

By the time we were home four hours later this was the view from the veranda. Not quite as beautiful as the usual ocean view, but interesting none the less.

Considering the rain and dense fog, we decided it was best to find our way back to Campanario, stop for a few items at the little grocer, and settle in for the day. As shown in our photos, there was a full fog cover preventing us from seeing the ocean from our veranda. Our drive back up the mountain was uneventful as I busily took photos of the fog.

We’ve since put away the items in the box which included: clothing, iced tea packets, a few cosmetic items, a few bottles of vitamins that we must take (B6 for Tom, probiotics for both of us, etc.), a pair of Keds walking shoes for me and some odds and ends, all of which we needed for continuing on.

Whew! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have that package situation out of the way and go back to relishing in the beauty of this wonderful island and its kindly citizens. 
                                                _____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, June 7, 2013:

We stayed on the ship when we arrived in Livorno, Italy. With little interest in riding on a bus with 40 people to see more old buildings, we decided to stay behind enjoying quiet time at the pool. With this as our final of eight cruises for the year, on our way to Venice, we had to pick and choose which excursions were worth it to us. Ultimately, we were pleased with the choices we’d made as shown in the prior photos. For details of the date, please click here.