Merry Christmas, everyone!..Hope you are having a fantastic day, making memories…

Our dear friends, Kathy and Don from Hawaii (and Marloth Park), sent us this beautiful Christmas arrangement when they knew we didn’t have decorations for our newest holiday home.

We don’t buy a Christmas tree. We don’t have any Christmas decorations. We don’t send or receive Christmas cards other than thoughtful wishes on Facebook and through email from our many readers worldwide.

But, over the past several years, we have received a solitary Christmas card, which at times required a lot of effort to get to us from our dear friends Kathy and Don, whom we met ten years ago on Christmas Eve in Marloth Park. We may have told this story a few times in the past. But today, it was especially meaningful for us to tell it one more time for our newer readers who may not have seen it.

We arrived in Marloth Park for the first time in early December 2013. At that time, rental cars were outrageously expensive, so during those three months, we used the services of a driver, Okey Dokey, who became a precious friend to us as well. She was able to take us everywhere we needed to go for a reasonable cost, and we spent a lot of time with her.

Early on in our visit to Marloth Park, Leon, who has since become dear friends with his partner Dawn, owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, picked us up at our holiday home, the Hornbill house, to take us on a game drive-through Marloth Park, ending at their restaurant where we had a spectacular dinner and made more friends.

Lynne and Mick were seated outdoors on the veranda, and Leon made the effort to introduce us to this lovely couple from the island of Jersey, UK. The four of us hit it off, so much so that they drove us back to the house later that night. They told us they’d connect us with dear friends Kathy and Don, who have a beautiful house in Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River.

We didn’t meet Kathy and Don until Christmas Eve, 2013, when they invited us to dinner at their home, never having met us. How brave they were to include us at their lovely Christmas Eve dinner when they’d never met us! With no plans of our own, we were honored to be invited.

As soon as we met Kathy and Don, I suspected we’d be friends for a long time. Little did we know at that time the depth of this friendship that has grown and endured over the past ten years. We have been blessed to make many close friends in Marloth Park over the years. If you are reading this, you know who you are and how much you mean to us.

Last week, while we were seated on the sofa, as I was preparing a post and Tom was watching football on his laptop, we heard a light tap on the door to our condo. I jumped up to see who was there to find the gorgeous Christmas arrangement as shown in today’s main photo.

We both were shocked to receive such a surprise and couldn’t imagine who it was from. It only took a moment to read the attached card to realize it was from Kathy and Don. My heart did a flip-flop with sheer delight. Only a few days earlier, when Kathy and I chatted on the phone (from their home in Hawaii), I mentioned that we had no decorations for Christmas.

We could hardly haul decorations around the world with us or spend money on a single year’s use of decorations. Years ago, Tom and I resigned ourselves that we’d never decorate as long as we were traveling. That may change if and when we ever stop traveling, but right now, we don’t see that in our immediate future.

That beautiful arrangement has meant so much to us, a reminder of the holiday season right before our eyes. In some ways, it looks like a Christmas tree. We thank our friends for their thoughtfulness, their friendship, and the heartwarming memories we’ve made together throughout the years.

We thank Kathy, Don, and all of our precious friends, readers, and family members for the joy they’ve brought into our lives throughout the years as we look to the future with love, hope, and determination for more amazing memories and adventures.

Merry Christmas!

Photo from ten years ago today, December 25, 2013:

Ten years ago today, with years of travel ahead of us, we posted this quote from Robert Frost, reminding us of what was yet to come. For more, please click here.

A pleasant Christmas Day in the bush…We couldn’t ask for more…

Big Daddy visited a few mornings ago while Lollie and the piglets were also here.

Note: Due to the extensive use of WiFi in the bush today, resulting in slow service, there are some editing issues in today’s post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

We had an excellent and busy day. We made keto pizza, salad, and a keto cheese pie with an almond flour crust, keeping us busy in the kitchen all morning. With temps rising to over 103F and 39C with high humidity, I had to take a few breaks to sit in front of the fan in the bedroom. It was a scorcher.

Later in the afternoon, when our guests arrived, it had cooled down considerably after strong winds, and a cloud cover took over. What a relief it was to be able to have sundowners and dinner on the veranda! Surprisingly, there weren’t many insects bothering us while we dined, but after everyone left, they seemed to pick up, and we headed indoors and closed the doors to the veranda.

Each night when we are ready for dinner Tom sprays the bedroom. Tom had no choice but to spray the dining room, lounge room, and kitchen with Doom when we headed to bed. We try to stay out of any rooms that have been sprayed to avoid breathing in the toxic chemicals.

Since we don’t have nor want mosquito netting on the bed, this seems to prevent me from getting bit during the night. Again, we don’t enter the bedroom for a few hours after he’s sprayed. Last night, while seated outdoors, Tom was wearing his only pair of shorts when all others were lost in the missing luggage; he ended up getting bit by mosquitoes at least a dozen times.

Lollie and her three piglets stopped by, as seen on the trail cam.

Lately, since it got hot, I have been wearing jeans and long sleeve tee shirts day and night. I know this makes me hotter, but it prevents me from getting bit day and night. Tom is no longer itching, but when I’m bit, the itching lasts for weeks. I’d rather be hot than itchy for weeks from countless mosquito bites.

I wear repellent around the clock but still get bit if my skin is exposed. Not only is there the risk of itching, but also we must avoid getting malaria which is common in this area.

In any case, we had a delightful Christmas dinner, although the food wasn’t traditional, and by 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., we were in our room watching a series on my laptop. The dishes were washed, and everything was put away. We were surprised we could get a sufficient signal to stream a few shows before hunkering for the night.

Tom had an excellent 70th birthday, and we had a great Christmas. We were able to touch base with all of our kids to wish them Merry Christmas, and last night I even had a chance to talk to dear friends Kathy and Don, who aren’t in the bush now but hopefully will be someday soon when Don’s health improves. They invited us to Christmas Eve dinner in 2013, when they’d never met us, nine years ago this year. We miss them terribly.

Norman stopped by early this morning before we were outside.

We have great leftovers for tonight, so all I did this morning was make a salad. I did a load of laundry hanging outside on a cloudy day to dry. It’s much cooler today but still very humid, and the clothes won’t dry until tomorrow.

It was nice to see Norman and Nina a few times this morning. We tossed them “Norman’s Lunch,” and they ate everything except the grape tomatoes. A little while later, duiker Derek stopped by, and he loved the leftover tomatoes. It’s funny how each animal has specific taste buds, just like humans. They aren’t so different from us after all.

We didn’t see Norman and Nina’s baby this morning, and we hope she was safely tucked away somewhere and isn’t hurt or injured. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye for her/him.

Have a pleasant day after Christmas, and be well always…

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2021:

The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn took a photo of Sindee and the serving table, which was later filled with great food. Sadly, Bruce has since passed away. For more, please click here:

Merry Christmas, everyone!…Have a beautiful day with friends and loved ones..Serendipity at Jabula…

On our way to Jabula last night for our Christmas Eve dinner, we stopped unannounced to see Louise and Danie. They were sitting on the veranda having sundowners and watching the hysterical behavior of a male hornbill flying around looking for grasshoppers to bring back to his mate and chicks living in a bushbaby house.

The poor male was skinny, from constantly flying while foraging for his mate’s food. Danie grated some cheddar cheese and placed it on the table near where we sat with our sundowners in hand, enjoying the companionship and the gorgeous early evening. The male hornbill came up next to me, picked up a piece of cheese, and headed back to the nest to give it to his partner. She ate several pieces he offered her.

But after her accepting about three pieces of cheese, she tossed the fourth piece out the hole of the little house, indicating she’d had enough cheese and wanted more grasshoppers. He got the message and flew off, returning less than a minute later with a grasshopper in his beak. He offered it to her, and she quickly grabbed it to feed herself and her since-hatched chicks.

This little interaction in nature particularly warmed our hearts. reminding us why we are here and the joys this magical place has to offer. As we sat with our friends, reveling in the lively conversation and sharing the awe over the hornbill activity, we couldn’t stop smiling, realizing how fortunate we are to spend Christmas in this magical place. After a while, we all hugged goodbye with the warmest Christmas greetings and made our way to Jabula.

No, there is no snow. No, the bush houses aren’t decorated with a vast array of colorful blinking lights. No, we won’t return to our house after the end of our evening at Jabula, to a lit Christmas tree adorned with beautifully wrapped gifts, too many to count. This is Christmas in the bush, and this is what nature provides to remind us of the blessings God (or whatever higher power you may believe or not) gave us to cherish and revere at this time of the year and always.

The above graphic bespeaks what it means to be here during the holiday season and how it impacts us. Thanks to Louise for posting and sharing this on her Facebook page yesterday, inspiring us to share it today.

When we arrived, the bar was packed with locals, most of whom we knew or had met. Our usual seats were taken, so we parked ourselves down close to the air-con unit and ordered our drinks. I had brought along a bottle of my 5% alcohol white wine, and Tom ordered a Lion beer, his favorite.

We were content and felt at ease being there on Christmas Eve. Music was playing in the lively bar, and the conversation flowed, as always. Darkness fell, and finally, we ordered our dinners. Tom ordered chicken schnitzel, chips, and creamed spinach, while I ordered grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables, which are frequent favorites.

While we chatted at the bar, Dawn beckoned us to follow her to a distant serving area where other patrons were dining. Apparently, they “knew” us. As it turned out, the two men David and Dawn introduced us to at the table had been following us on YouTube for years. After watching our many videos, they decided to come to Marloth Park and build a house here.

How ironic!! How amazing it feels for us to inspire others to come here and build a life in this paradise-like environment! It was serendipitous for them to be at Jabula when we were!

These are all the Christmas gifts we could possibly want; nature, wildlife, wonderful friends, the love of our family, and course, each other. We are grateful this holiday season and always…

Merry Christmas…

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2021:

Broken Horn stopped by this morning to wish us Merry Christmas. We tossed him some pellets, and he was happy! For more photos, please click here.

Many photos from our fabulous Christmas Day dinner in the bush…

    The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn was taking a photo of Sindee and the serving table, a short time later filled with great food.

Not having an idea of the type of dinner party at Sindee and Bruce’s home in the bush, we kept our expectations in check. We’d anticipated a buffet with guests sitting around the braai in the garden on chairs and benches with their plates of food on their laps.

A starter of prawns, sauce, and greens along with Christmas crackers with treats.

There were eleven of us, five of their family members, and six friends, including us. We were pleasantly surprised and delighted to see the beautiful table setting, adorned with gorgeous Christmas decorations including candles, miniature lights, crackers, colorful napkins, sparkling wine, along an array of crystal wine glasses. It couldn’t have been prettier.

There were many items on the menu that worked for me. I focused on meats and salads. I’d sliced avocados to go with the salad.

The six friends had brought various meats, salads, and side dishes. We’d brought the cooked, sliced prime rib and a large walnut, avocado lettuce salad. It was beautiful. The atmosphere and conversation were casual and engaging, and the hours flew by.

The meats included chicken, our prime rib, gammon (ham), and lamb, all delicious.

We rarely drink alcohol during the day, so I brought along my lowest alcohol-reduced wine with only 5% alcohol (when most wine is typically 13.5% to 14%). Tom brought a few cans of beer, and we sipped on our beverages throughout the day and early evening. We arrived at 11:30 and didn’t head for home until after 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs.

I couldn’t get enough of the lamb on the left in this photo. Tom doesn’t care for lamb, so I never make it.

Once back at our bush house, we put away all of our stuff, got into comfy clothes, and settled in for the evening. Later in the evening, Tom talked to his family members in the bedroom while I sat in the living room, talking to mine. It was beautiful to hear everyone’s voices, including our grandchildren.

Our dear friends and owners of Jabula, Dawn, and Leon.

While I was on my phone in the living room, I couldn’t help but notice hundreds of little bugs and ants all over the floor. At the moment, Tom is spraying the house while we are outdoors on the veranda, tossing pellets to Gordy (short for bushbuck Gordon Ramsey) and giant warthog One Tusk.

The animals aren’t as hungry as a month ago, with the bush now filled with lush green vegetation. They still stop by staring at us for some pellets out of habit. But, once we toss some their way, they eat slowly, often walking away with some pellets still on the ground. However, that’s not the case with warthogs. They’d eat until they burst if they had a chance. After all, they are pigs.

Sindee and Bruce’s two daughters, Mornay and Cyndy.

Today is a quiet day. Yesterday, as mentioned, I made an extra prime rib for us for tonight’s dinner. All we have to do for dinner is make Tom’s white rice and toss the salad with homemade salad dressing. I’m not big on reheating cooked beef, so we may eat it cold, which neither of us minds at all.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods to warm cooked beef to maintain the level of doneness. But none of those methods seem to work to our liking, getting too well done in the process. We’d rather eat it cold than overdone.

Sindee and Bruce only married a few years, are a delightful couple, and so thoughtful to include us!

After dinner, we each have our cakes. As it turned out, Tom thoroughly enjoyed his German Chocolate birthday cake, saying it wasn’t dry after all. I don’t know if he’s saying this to make me happy. He’d do that rather than have me feel bad that the cake was dry.

Tom plate of desserts; lemon meringue pie and chocolate cherry milk tart. He went back for seconds. Not surprising.

We hope all of our readers/friends, and family members had a fantastic Christmas as we look forward to the upcoming end of this challenging year.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #276. The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016. For more photos, please click here.

Merry Christmas, everyone…We’re off to a party starting at 11:30 am…

Broken Horn stopped by this morning to wish us a Merry Christmas. We tossed him some pellets, and he was happy!

At the moment two prime ribs are cooking in the oven. We’re taking one of the roasts, sliced, to the party, starting at 11:30 am, and keeping the other for us for a late dinner tonight. South Africans like to start their holiday parties early in the day, often ending by usual dinnertime.

We also made a big salad with pecans, avocado, and lots of fresh veggies, leaving a portion for us to enjoy tonight with our prime rib. Most likely, we’ll be back home long before dark and we’ll celebrate Christmas further by having the prime rib and salad, followed by the special desserts I made for each of us in the past few days.

Last night for the first time in a few years, I had a piece of the low-carb coffee cake I made yesterday and savored every bite. I was reminded of how rare it is for me to eat a dessert and how much I enjoyed the sweetness. I posted the recipe in yesterday’s post here. If you decide to make this low-carb cake, you won’t be disappointed, even if you don’t usually eat a keto-type diet.

Soon, I have to get dressed for the party. It is a dressy-themed party but I don’t have any such clothes, so we will both dress as we always do when we go out to dinner.

May you and your loved one have a blessed holiday filled with love, good food, and merriment. Thank you for sharing this past year with us.

Much love to all.

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India on day #275. Last year, I left our floor and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby to take this photo. For more from this post, please click here.

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 giant 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 regarding this update. We continue to hold our breath, awaiting any news, striving to stay upbeat and hopeful. At this point, it’s been incredibly challenging to do so. Christmas Day was undoubtedly 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. But, after what happened 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 challenging situation. We “buckle up” and make the best of it. Thankfully, our loving relationship with one another and generally good demeanor have been instrumental in getting us through this.

Cute countryside signs.

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

The morning started OK. Then, as the day continued, we encountered several guests in the corridors, talking loudly to one another, spewing spittle as they spoke, 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 show 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 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 hear once again their apologies and statements that have told every guest to wear a mask in all public areas. The guests don’t care for their 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 excessive 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. We were well aware that the door to the suite next to us was banging every minute or so during this time. Each time someone on the floor opened or closed a door, that partially opened door slammed so loud it startled us each time. Whoever was in that room engaged the deadbolt, leaving the door ajar. The air pressure in the hallway causes this.

No less than 20 times in the past months, we had 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.

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. 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. Tom bolted out of bed, opened the door with the chain engaged, and 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, they 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:

During the cocktail hour before dinner on Christmas Day in 2018, Tom and Kathy 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, were taken by Tom in the hotel lobby 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 also to 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 particular 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 respond to every one of those particular messages personally.

Instead, we extend our heartfelt appreciation for how you, our dear readers, brought light and hope into our hearts during Tom’s birthday on December 23, Christmas Eve, and now Christmas Day 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 backup plan if the flight to Johannesburg is canceled last minute. Tom tends to be more optimistic and assumes 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 repeat the situation on March 20, 2020. In researching online, there are so many varying restrictions and regulations due to Covid-19. Based on our ongoing research, many of the previously mentioned options we’d considered don’t appear to make as much sense as they did weeks ago.

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 does Emirates Airlines require the tests, but also it is required to enter most countries.

Here, in our posts, we contemplated several Plan B options. However, in the future, we 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 reach a state of herd immunity eventually?

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 reasonable 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 world’s citizens, 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 publish their photos 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, 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 have a challenge finding restaurants for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Buenos Aires. Either the restaurants are closed during the holiday season or charge 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 reservations for these three nights instead of 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 memorable 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 significantly helped tourism, making Puerto Madryn a more attractive place for international and domestic tourists visiting Patagonia. It is twinned with Nefyn, a small town on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, due to 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 due to 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 due to 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 several 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 a while, checking out the sights and sounds of the busy village, 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 were marching on the beach boulevard.

On Friday, we’ll begin packing, leaving our sealed bags outside our cabin door by Friday 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 shipwreck ship was lying on the beach in Puerto Madryn.

We’ve requested a low number in this particular case, 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 reservations 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.

Photo from one year ago today, December 19, 2016:

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

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

Hmmm…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 into the lobby of the Pearl Resort in plenty of time for our 1:00 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 of 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 a while 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 4:00 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 7:00 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.

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.