Day #276 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…OK, here goes…17 days and counting!!!…A frustrating Christmas Day…

This was our favorite photo of the day, a huge Billy Goat with quite the beard and defined facial markings.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while staying in Penguin, Tasmania, Australia. For more details and photos, please click here.

Yep, we’ve started the countdown until we leave India. In 17 days, on January 12, 2021, we’ll hopefully be on our way. The only scenario that could prevent us from going to South Africa, as planned will be that President Cyril Ramphosa decides to close the borders once again due to the new strain of Covid-19.

On a drive through the countryside in Penguin, Tasmania, the ocean can be seen in the distance.

From this site, the following was posted:

“Scientists and officials have warned the country’s 56 million people that the new variant, referred to as 501.V2, carries a heavier viral load and appears to be more prevalent among the young. “It is still very early, but at this stage, the preliminary data suggest the virus that is now dominating in the second wave is spreading faster than the first wave,” Prof Salim Abdool Karim, the chairman of the government’s ministerial advisory committee (MAC), said.”

Over the next few weeks, Cyril will announce any changes necessary in regard to this update. We continue to hold our breath awaiting any news, striving to stay upbeat and hopeful. At this point, it’s been especially challenging to do so. Christmas Day was certainly a memorable day in this hotel, but not in a good way.

Cattle are curious when humans pass by.

I’d considered not mentioning what transpired yesterday in an attempt to remain upbeat and positive. But, after what transpired, and our goals of being “transparent” in our experiences, good and bad, we decided we’d share our highly disappointing Christmas Day.

Many of our readers have kindly written to us, espousing our determined attitude and resilience in bearing the brunt of this situation. We appreciate all those thoughtful comments. But, we are no different than many of you, when managing a tough situation. We “buckle up” and make the best of it. Thankfully, our loving relationship with one another and generally good demeanor, has been highly instrumental in getting us through this.

Cute countryside signs.

Often, we’ve reminded ourselves how fortunate we’ve been that we are staying safe from the virus, have comfortable surroundings, although lacking in space, and no matter what, we’ve been able to stay calm and composed. This acceptance served us well, until yesterday, Christmas Day.

The morning started out fine. Then, as the day continued, we encountered a number of guests in the corridors, talking loudly to one another, spewing spittle as they spoke, and talking on cell phones, pacing in the halls, not wearing masks. Regardless of them being on the phone or in conversation, we kindly asked them to put on a mask or return to their rooms.

Cattle on a hill.

Our comments were of no avail. We stayed back from them, by no less than five meters, 16 feet in each case, except once when I was carefully rounding a corner and three unmasked individuals ran right into me. I couldn’t help but raise my voice, “You must wear a mask in the hotel!” They totally ignored me. I bolted in the other direction.

This scenario continued throughout the day. I finally gave up and discontinued my last walk for the day. Twice, I notified the front desk, to once again hear their apologies and statements that have told every guest to wear a mask in all public areas. Apparently, the guests don’t care for their own well-being or care to follow the hotel’s government-mandated requirements,

Once back in our room, all was fine for the next few hours. Later on, as we settled in, watching the new Netflix period series, Bridgerton, a delightful bit of mindless drivel, we were conscientious of outrageous noises spewing from the corridors. People were yelling and talking loudly while outside of their rooms. Why not go into the room and make noise? Since it was daytime, and we weren’t leaving our room, we didn’t make a fuss.

Highland Breed cattle. See this link for details on this breed.

By 9:00, we settled in bed, continuing to watch another episode of the series. During this time, we were well aware that the door to the suite next to us was banging literally every minute or so. Whoever was in that room, engaged the deadbolt, leaving the door ajar.  Each time someone on the floor opened or closed a door, that partially opened door banged so loud it startled us each time. Apparently, the air pressure in the hallway causes this.

No less than 20 times in the past months, we have reported this issue to the housekeeping manager when the staff was cleaning the large suite, going in and out, not wanting to use their keys to enter each time. All they had to do was push the door open with the deadbolt engaged with the door ajar but not locked. Each time we complained, within a half-hour, someone came and locked the door properly.

At times, this happened at night when we were trying to sleep. On occasions, guests were leaving the door in this state when they snuck into the stairwell to smoke (not allowed) or go back and forth between rooms where their friends or family members were located. This happened several times after 1:00 or 2:00 am, and as late as 4:30 am, at which point, we had to call the front desk, again complaining.

This annoyed male approached the fence when we stopped for photos.

During the next few hours, people were going in and out of that room, slamming the door each time and often leaving the deadbolt engaged for the big jolt in our room. We must have fallen asleep five or six times to be startled awake after we’d reported this.

As it turned out, the staff was having a party in that suite next door, unbeknownst to management, since we were told (after calling again) that no guests had booked that room. After reporting it a short time later, the door banging finally stopped and the noise died down, but not entirely.

But, the worst of it was yet to come when at 11:30 pm, during one of those times we were attempting to doze off, our doorbell rang. The only time a guest should be awakened during the night in a hotel would be in the event of a fire or other type such an emergency. Tom bolted out of bed, opened the door with the chain engaged, to be handed a letter stating the restaurant could only service 50% occupancy at any given time due to Covid-19. Tom lost it.

Although this one mooed at us, she/he didn’t bother to get up.

I won’t write what he said. But the question remains in our minds today, why didn’t he place the letter under the door (it fits) or on the little table outside of our room?

Finally, at around 1:00 am, when I was falling asleep, I heard the dreadful sound of a phone vibrating in the room next door, loudly and repeatedly every 20 minutes throughout the night. The head of the beds in our room and the room next door abut one another and once again, whoever was in that room, didn’t turn off their “notifications.”  They’d have to be passed out not to hear the noise!

This morning, my FitBit indicated I’d slept one hour and 56 minutes. I’m exhausted. This morning, after speaking to my son Greg’s family in Minnesota, I decided to see how I’d do walking the corridors in my current state. No way! I did 1.5 miles, 2.4 km, and gave up, dragging too much to continue through the day.

The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016.

However, during the 1.5 miles, I saw no less than six guests without masks, with as many wearing masks, and, heard a woman “coughing up a lung.” No way was it safe to walk the corridors today, I gave up.

Tom is watching football on his laptop using his earbuds. I’ll spend the remainder of the day working on the corrections on our site with Nat Geo Wild on the TV in the background. It’s comforting to see wildlife in Africa and other parts of the world, so hopeful that soon we’ll be face to face. So hopeful, in 17 days.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2019:

Me, Tom, and Kathy during the cocktail hour before dinner on Christmas Day in 2018, posted last year on this date. For more, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #275 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Merry Christmas to all…

Christmas tree in the lobby of our hotel in Mumbai.

Today’s photos from today, December 25, 2020, taken by Tom, in the hotel lobby, here in Mumbai.

I wish I could say it feels like Christmas Day today, but it does not. This morning, Tom, after hearing “Merry Christmas” from a passing couple (wearing masks, yeah!) in the corridors as he did his walk he took the lift downstairs to the lobby to find a Christmas tree and other decorations, resulting in today’s photos.

At some point today, well-masked and gloved, I will head down there to also see the decorations. Perhaps, this will precipitate a glimmer of holiday spirit. The lack of feeling “Christmasy” doesn’t negate the fact we are well aware and profoundly moved by this special time of the year and its meaning for us, celebrations or not.

Firstly, we both want to thank the unbelievable number of readers that sent us warm wishes from all over the world. We attempted to reply to each one, but as we tried to do so, we began to realize it would take days to personally reply to every one of those special messages.

Instead, we extend our heartfelt appreciation for the way in which you, our dear readers brought light and hope into our hearts during Tom’s birthday on December 23, Christmas Eve, and now Christmas Day, while here in India. The outpouring of encouraging and loving messages made this time very special for us.

Gingerbread houses in the hotel lobby.

Surely, it’s one of many heartwarming perks we’ve gleaned from sitting here, day after day, writing to YOU, regardless of how boring and mundane our content, especially during in this confinement, day after day, month after month, as we anxiously await the prospect of getting out of here soon in a mere 18 days.

Again, yesterday, we considered our prospects of a back-up plan in the event the flight to Johannesburg is canceled last minute. Tom tends to be more optimistic and assume we’ll make it, whereby I always prefer to have a Plan B in place, just in case.

I guess at this point, we can’t conclusively state what we’ll do at the Mumbai International Airport in the middle of the night, if we’re denied boarding our booked flight, a second time which would be a repeat of the situation on March 20, 2020. In researching online, there are so many varying restrictions and regulations due to Covid-19. Many of the previously mentioned options we’d considered don’t appear to make as much sense as they did weeks ago, based on our ongoing research.

In any case, we have scheduled a lab tech to come to our hotel on January 10, 2021, to perform the Covid-19 tests for both of us, with results available online and printable within eight hours. Not only is Emirates Airlines require the tests, but also it is required to enter most countries.

Here, in our posts, we contemplated a number of Plan B options. However, going forward, we simply have to see how it all rolls out as time nears. I’m sure if the flight is canceled between now and then, we’ll be notified. The worst-case scenario is that it will be canceled while we’re already at the airport in the middle of the night.

More decorations in the hotel lobby.

Anyway, back to Christmas. Hum…each time I look at the homepage on my phone and see “December 25, 2020,” I’m reminded of how most of us throughout the world are anxious for this dreadful year to come to an end. But, what will the New Year bring? Will sufficient numbers be vaccinated to eventually reach a state of herd immunity?

In many countries, such as South Africa, it is expected that only 10% of the entire population of 58 million will be able to receive the vaccine due to a lack of financial resources and infrastructure to accomplish a loftier and more useful goal. We can only wait and see how it all rolls out.

In any case, we wish every one of our readers who celebrate a very Merry Christmas, filled with hope, love, and prayers for the future. For those who do not, we wish you, along with the remainder of the citizens of the world, a safer, healthier, and more promising future in years to come.

Stay healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2019:

Tom and brother-in-law Gene. Note Tom: always using his hands when he tells a story. We didn’t include photos of other family members when they preferred not to have their photos published online. No problem. For more, please click here.

 

 

 

Day 27…Cruise to South America…Another port of call…Puerto Madryn…Four days and counting…

Abandoned seafaring boat on the beach in Puerto Madryn.

 Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

Scene of Ushuaia from our veranda.

In a mere four days, this 30-night cruise will end in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we’ll stay for another 30 nights while we await the upcoming Antarctica cruise sailing on January 23rd from Ushuaia, Argentina.

Are we excited about the upcoming 30-nights in Buenos Aires?  Most certainly!  If we were only traveling for a vacation/holiday for 30-nights and could spend a month in the vibrant city, we’d be thrilled.

This could have been a street in any beach town.

During this period of time, we’ll be able to accomplish a few objectives we have in mind to include:
1.  Visit a travel clinic to update our vaccinations and get a prescription for malaria pills (for Africa).
2.  Visit a dentist to have a problematic crown reseated which is bothering me while eating.
3.  Purchase any last minute supplies for the Antarctica cruise.
4.  Do laundry and dry cleaning for the cold weather Antarctica clothes we ended up wearing during the cold days of this cruise.  (Thank goodness we had the warm clothes with us!)
5.  Purchase a second camera.

Statue at Puerto Madryn Beach.

In the interim, we’re having a challenge finding restaurants for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Buenos Aires. Either the restaurants are closed during the holiday season or they are charging as much as US $150 per person for either of the holiday night’s meals.


Our hotelier has been working on finding options available other than the US $300 per day required for each of these two meals.  So far, he hasn’t been successful in locating some possibilities suitable for our needs.

Whale carving at the beach.

On top of it, Tom’s birthday is on the day the cruise ends on December 23rd, and we’ll have to find somewhere for dinner that night.  Trying to find options online has been cumbersome and time-consuming with the slow Wi-Fi signal on this ship. 

We’d recently given up trying to book dinner reservation for these three nights, instead taking our chances once we arrive in Buenos Aires.  In the worst case, we’ll have the included breakfasts at the hotel which is available each day and then, find a market where we can buy something for the tiny refrigerator in our hotel room. 

Typical apartment building in Puerto Madryn.

We aren’t particularly concerned.  Somehow, it will all work out.  If we have to have nuts and cheese for dinner, we’ll be fine.  Although, it would be fun to spend all three evenings celebrating the three special occasions.
Yesterday, we toured the town of Puerto Madryn, Argentina.  Here is some information about this coastal town from this site:

“Puerto Madryn (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpweɾto ˈmaðɾin]Welsh: Porth Madryn) is a city in the province of Chubut in Argentina, Patagonia. It is the capital of the Biedma Department and has about 93,995 inhabitants according to the last census in 2010.
Puerto Madryn is protected by the Golfo Nuevo, which is formed by the Península Valdés and the Punta Ninfas. It is an important center for tourists visiting the natural attractions of the Península Valdés and the coast.
A new shopping mall in the city center has helped tourism significantly, making Puerto Madryn a more attractive place for both international and domestic tourists visiting Patagonia. It is twinned with Nefyn, a small town on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, the result of its enduring link with Welsh culture since the Welsh settlement in Argentina. The first of a two-Test tour to Argentina by the Wales national rugby union team was played in 2006 in Puerto Madryn, a 27–25 win over Argentina. Puerto Madryn is home to two football clubs; Club Social y Atlético Guillermo Brown, who plays in Nacional B and Deportivo Madryn that currently play in Torneo Argentino B.
A basketball team, Deportivo Puerto Madryn, plays in the Liga Nacional de Básquetbol (LNB). Their home arena is known as the Deportivo Puerto Madryn Arena.

El Tehuelche Airport is located 10 km northwest of the city center. Commercial flights from Buenos AiresUshuaia, and other Argentinian cities are available. Most tourists fly into Trelew Airport as flights into Puerto Madryn are restricted as a result of environmental concerns.

The town was founded on 28 July 1865, when 150 Welsh immigrants arriving aboard the clipper Mimosa named the natural port Porth Madryn in honor of Sir Love Jones-Parry, whose estate in Wales was named “Madryn”. Conditions were difficult and the settlers had to dig irrigation ditches for their first crops.
The settlement grew as a result of the building of the Central Chubut Railway by WelshSpanish, and Italian immigrants. This line, opened in 1889, linked the town to Trelew via the lower Chubut River valley.”

Pair of shipwrecked boats in the bay.

By noon, after uploading the day’s post, we made our way to the awaiting shuttle buses for the 25-minute ride into the city.  Along the way, we spotted a number of shipwrecks on the otherwise pristine beaches which we’ll share as soon as we’re able to upload photos.

After being dropped off in the center of town, we walked for awhile, checking out the sights and sounds of the busy town which included a lengthy and noisy parade of protestors over the government, followed up by several police officers and military personnel.

We always try to imagine what may have happened to such a boat long ago…

Considering our lack of interest in shopping and dining in restaurants, after a few hours, we decided to head back to the shuttle to return to the ship.  The afternoon was wearing on and we both hoped for a short rest before showering again and dressing for the 5:00 pm Captain’s Club happy hour in the Constellation Lounge.

By 7:15 pm we were seated at a shared table in the Trellis Restaurant where a lively conversation ensued among the like-minded group of eight.  The time flew quickly and suddenly it was 10:30 pm.  An early night was in order and by midnight we were both asleep.

Protesters marching on the beach boulevard.

On Friday, we’ll begin packing, leaving our packed bags outside our cabin door by Friday night at 10:00 pm where they’ll be transported to the port area in Buenos Aires.  We’ll collect the bags upon arrival at the port in the morning.  

Generally, this process is relatively easy when the bags are stored in the numbered areas for which we’ll have tickets.  Each cabin is assigned a disembarking number and we can depart the ship when our number is called.  Numbers are assigned based on a few factors; requests, and priority status based on Captain’s Club membership.  

A shipwreak ship lying on the beach in Puerto Madryn.

In this particular case, we’ve requested a low number, hoping to disembark the ship by 7:30 am or so.  We’ll take a taxi to our hotel in Palermo, expecting to check in no later than 10:00 am.  Most likely, all of this will work out well, leaving us plenty of time to work on dinner reservation for the upcoming three nights while many venues will still be open for business.

That’s it for today, folks.  We hope you’re enjoying holiday festivities as we rapidly wind down to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
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Photo from one year ago today, December 19, 2016:

With thoughts of those we’ve lost, we visited the General Penguin Cemetery overlooking the Bass Straits in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Merry Christmas to all on the opposite side of the International Dateline….Pigging out at the buffet…



Hummm…prime rib and spice drops.  Tasty combination, Mr. Lyman!

It proved to be a good day although it was rainy, hot, humid and we were without power.  We decided to bring our laptops, an adapter and one set of plug ins so we could recharge our laptops while at the resort, if at all possible.

The band was excellent singing many familiar songs.

As soon as we walked in the lobby of the Pearl Resort in plenty of time for our 1 pm buffet reservation in the Riviera Restaurant, I scoped out the plug in options finding there were plenty of possibilities. 

This was my entrée and dessert…delicious seafood.

Asking at the front desk if we could sit in the lobby and plug in our equipment after our meal, they happily obliged saying we could use the outlets and stay as long as we’d like.

Octopus, a favorite, although rather chewy.

The thought of relaxing with power after the upcoming big meal was appealing, especially with the massive doors opening to the bay offered a cooling breeze. 

The meat station had prime rib, ham and turkey.  Tom had all three but I chose only the prime rib.  Tom said the ham was great.

After checking in for our reservation, I wasn’t thrilled with the table selected for us with our name imprinted on a plastic coated card.  It was too near the entrance to the dining room, the band and people coming and going out to the deck.  It was noisy, making it nearly impossible for Tom to hear a word I said, with his bad hearing made worsened by background noise.

Check out the size of those slabs of prime rib and prawns.  It was the most tender beef we’d had in months.

We decided to make the best of it and kept the selected table when we noticed the only other available table was too tiny for two diners, my camera and our computer bag on the floor. 

This was my single plate, piled high.  I didn’t eat the relatively uncooked green beans but found everything else terrific.

Immediately after we were seated, I scoped out the buffet for photos and to check my dining options.  A white hatted chef was behind the food stations happily pointing to each item I’d be able to eat that didn’t include starch, sugars, grains or flour.  There were more options than any buffet we’ve visited since the onset of our travels. I felt like a kid in a candy store!

Tom sure enjoyed his first plate and every other plate to come.

Back at the table, I suggested Tom get his food first while I stayed behind to watch the camera and laptop bag.  In no time at all, he returned with a small plate of meats from the carving table and alas, a large pile of candy spice drops.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  All those wonderful dishes and desserts and he had meat and spice drops!

Yum, baby octopus.  Those heads are a bit tricky to chew.  I ate four of these, less one head.

Of course, he went back many times sampling more and more meat and seafood items and eventually a few desserts.  But, each time he went back to the buffet he returned with more spice drops.  Love that guy!   Five plates of food and candy?  I didn’t say a word, smiling over how well he does at “home” when our daily meals deprive him of many foods he loves and yet, keeps him lean and healthy. 

I didn’t feel the least bit embarrassed when my plate was piled higher than any other diners as they left food stations.  However,  a single plate was my plan piling everything I could possibly eat to fit on my plate.  (I savored almost every morsel leaving only one small octopus head that was particularly chewy and several undercooked green beans, too crunchy to get down).

Tom’s second dessert plate with caramel and apple pies, brownie and more spice drops.

It was a wonderful meal.  As it turned out, half of the food on my plate consisted of a variety of fish shells and I wasn’t overly full and uncomfortable.  When eating only veggies and protein I never seem to get uncomfortably full, nor do I eat until a point of feeling miserable.  That’s never been my thing nor is it healthy for me when too much protein or vegetables in a single sitting can exacerbate inflammation and raise blood sugar.

A portion of the dessert table.  Tom must have eaten one of those entire containers of spice drops.

Once we finished our meal, we sat quietly at the table for awhile sipping our water (Tom didn’t order a cocktail when he doesn’t drink alcohol with sweets) while he munched on his spice drops.

Notice the yellow pudding to pour over the brownies or whatever else one may choose.

Finally, we asked a waitperson to find our server.  After 15 minutes, we asked again.  Finally after a total of 40 minutes, we managed to see our server who experienced difficulty having us pay when all the other guests were staying at the hotel and had only to sign the slip.  Service at this bar and restaurant was certainly less ideal than the impeccable service we’d experienced in the Seduce Restaurant on Tom’s birthday.  Fiji time.

Decorations and imprinted name tag at our table.

The bill resolved we headed to a seating area in the lobby, close to outlets while Tom proceeded to set up our laptops enabling us to send more Christmas wishes to family and friends throughout the world.  We’d recharge the laptops sharing the plug in back and forth with a plan to head home by 5 pm when hopefully, the power would be back on.


Most diners were hotel guests, not outsiders like us.

We only lasted until 4 pm.  The cushion-less wicker chairs cut into our legs and backs making sitting nearly impossible.  We decided to call the taxi and head home although Tom’s laptop wasn’t yet charged.  My was at 98%.  If we had no power throughout the evening, at least we could watch a few shows in the dark.



Tom wrapped up his meal eating a couple of candy canes. 

Walking into the house we were thrilled to see the fans whirring.  The power was back on.  The power also went out twice during the night awakening us both each time, lasting for a few more hours, making sleeping fitful without a fan or the wall AC unit running.

Tom didn’t have any dinner last night although I had a few items ready in case we were hungry.  By 7 pm, I ate a cup of salmon salad while I spotted Tom snacking on a paper napkin filled with spice drops he’d placed in his pocket.  I laughed. 

The deck on the bay at the Pearl.

It was a good Christmas Day especially when we had a chance to talk to some of the family on Skype with more today, had a good meal and managed to end the day with electricity.

Today, Christmas Day in many parts of the world, we wish everyone a blessed holiday season and New Year.  May life bring each you the fulfillment of your goals, dreams and wishes, all filled with love.

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

This was one of our favorite scenery photos taken on the Big island, so clearly illustrating the power of the surf at the houses we rented for the family visit.  For more details, please click here.