Day #274 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Merry Christmas Eve…Scroll down for our Christmas poem from the past…

Today’s poem I wrote years ago is from a post on this date, Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

The above Christmas graphic is to express our wishes to family, friends, and readers all over the world. In reviewing the countries mentioned in the above image, we haven’t visited four of these 15 countries: China, Israel, the Philippines, and Norway. Apparently, we still have plenty of the world yet to see!

Tom was delighted with the endless stream of birthday wishes that came his way via Facebook and email. Many came through our site and my email as well. He appreciated every single kind and generous message. Thank you!

Tom and I never say “Merry Christmas” until the actual “eve” begins on December 24th which is several hours from now. In our old lives, we were often still reeling from the festivities from his birthday the prior day. This year? None of the “reeling.” Instead, we wait with bated breath for the next 19 days until we know we can depart India and begin the long journey to South Africa.

We have nothing planned for today or tomorrow. There’s nothing that could bespeak the holiday season for us at this time. Instead, we’ll focus on our feelings of gratitude for that which we do have in our presence and afar at this time; the love and friendship for one another, our family, friends, and readers; safety from Covid-19; and of course, the fingers-crossed prospect of leaving India before too long.

As more and more news comes out of South Africa with a rapid increase in new cases, especially from a new strain, we wait with bated breath, hoping the borders stay open for the next 19 days and nights, allowing us ample time to get out of here.

Today, the air-con in the building isn’t working, but it is being worked on, based on a call we received from the front desk. It could take two to three hours until it’s working again. It’s stifling in our room and getting hotter by the minute. I just returned from a fast walk in the corridors, dodging guests talking loudly on phones, without masks, and I’m sweating up a storm.

Midway through my walk, I stopped to send an email to the front desk. They, too, are upset about guests not wearing masks and want us to report any discrepancies we observe, if we don’t mind. They don’t want to get sick, nor do the loyal staff who have left their homes, their families for months at a time to work and live here. It’s unfair for everyone.

Ah, anyway, we’re trying to get into the holiday spirit and the best way we can do this is through memories of Christmases past. In reviewing which photo’s we’d post today for Christmas Eve, I stumbled across this poem I wrote in our old lives, a few nights before the family arrived for Christmas Day dinner.

I decided to share this poem again today, seven years later. It seems all the more appropriate based on the circumstances everyone is experiencing all over the world. Here you go:

OUR HOLIDAY TABLE

Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

Family and friends, sharing holiday cheer

Our plates, all filled, with tasty delights

Our appetites whetted, to take the first bites

The candlelight glowing on each smiling face

As we look to each other, wondering who will say “grace”

The words are well-spoken, as hands are held tight

The meaning, so special, this holiday night

Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

At this table, we’ve gathered for many a’ year

We’ve enjoyed fancy dinners, some romantic for two

And squeezed in so many, as our family grew

And now, here are our children, adult and attached

In love with their partners and very well matched

With room at the table, their children are here

As we teach them the meaning of holiday cheer

A few are still missing, there always will be

Their gifts in the mail, not under the tree

We’re feeling their love, across all the miles

Holding back tears, remembering their smiles

Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here

Putting aside life’s trouble and fear

The food and the merriment, the taste of good wine

The joy and the happiness, knowing they’re mine.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow on Christmas Day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2019:

No photos were posted on Christmas Eve last year other than the above. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to our family, friends/readers all over the world. For more on this post, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas, everyone!…Christmas Eve festivities…”We’ll figure it out”…

A band from Minnesota played country music at the Apache Junction VFW’s
Christmas Eve festivities.

Today’s photos were from yesterday afternoon while we attended the festivities at a local Apache Junction VFW from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Later in the day, we gathered at Colleen’s house for snacks and more entertaining and lively conversations. Four neighbors stopped by to join the six of us.

Although it never snowed anywhere we’ve traveled over the world the past seven years except while we were in Antarctica almost two years ago, somehow being in the US during Christmas feels a bit unfamiliar without snow.

Tom, another year older but still loads of fun!

Arizona, with its usually warm and mild winters, doesn’t quite remind us of Christmastime even with the lights and decorations. Today, it’s raining. Then again, during these past travel years, we haven’t created the ambiance we so well remember of Christmases long ago. 

We have no decorations, no tree, no gifts, no tins of home-baked Christmas cookies. Nor did we send out Christmas cards or gifts other than to our grandchildren.


But, somehow the Christmas spirit fills our hearts and we think of our loved ones far away and may at times, miss the merriment we so embraced in our old lives.

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 prefer not to have their
photos published online. No problem.

We’d be foolhardy to say we don’t miss certain aspects of our old lives. We do. It goes without saying, we’ll always miss our family members and friends. At times, we even miss our old house, the lake, the wildlife, and our wonderful neighbors.


But, it feels as if all of that was a lifetime ago. These seven years have left us drawing upon memories of prior years which is a blur in many ways…not the time we spent with loved ones but the intangible sensations of the Christmas season…the smell of cookies baking; the twinkling of little lights on the tree; and the often falling snowflakes.

But soon, as we embark on yet another exotic and unusual journey, we find ourselves relieved of such idle meanderings as we imagine the future ahead of us and what treasures it has to bring.

Nothing like an adorable “wiener dog” to liven up the VFW’s Christmas Eve festivities.

No, people don’t understand the powerful hold that the wanderlust spirit has blissfully imposed upon us. We love this life. We’re often asked, “How could you possibly leave everyone you love behind?”

We didn’t make that decision lightly nor do we flippantly consider it now. We hope and pray our family members understand and know full well that however far away we may be, they are always in our hearts and minds.

When I was a child, my paternal grandmother, whom I dearly cherished lived all the way across the country. We only saw her once every five or six years and stayed in touch via handwritten letters and perhaps a once a year phone call. I never loved her any less that she chose to live far away. I loved her all the more.

Many brought “white elephant gifts” to swap amongst each other. It was fun to see some of the funny gifts, including a 10-year-old who ended up with an adult movie that his parents immediately grabbed from his hands.

We can only hope our fast-growing-up grandchildren and adult children feel the same, accepting and loving us just the same. With the availability of the internet, it has been much easier to stay in touch, see their faces, hear their voices, and share their lives.

Life is never perfect nor it is exactly as we wished it would be with all the efforts we’ve made in the world. This past year, was a life-shattering and potentially life-changing experience when I had emergency open-heart surgery in February in South Africa.

Yet, somehow, we made it through. Did we learn something from this frightening experience? With both of us have had many challenges in our lives, as most people do, I can’t say we learned a lot about ourselves we didn’t already know.

The table was filled with white elephant gifts.

But, we did learn one thing often asked of us, “What will you do if something goes terribly wrong?” At the time of these types of queries, we’d look at one another and reply, “We’ll figure it out.”

And that is exactly what we did. We figured it out. Here we are now, only 35 days before departure for India, and we’re braced and ready for this next phase of our travels, armed with the knowledge that we have the motivation, mutual love and determination that we’ll always be able to “figure it out.”

Merry Christmas to each and every one of our family members, readers/friends and all the people we’ve met along the way. We truly feel blessed in more than one way…

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2018:

Little doesn’t disappoint.  He stopped by Christmas Eve morning and began walking up the steps to the house. I found him on step #3 and encouraged him to eat outside. He complied.  I tendered pellets, apples, and carrots.  He ate the produce and left the pellets thinking about the human leftovers he would be getting elsewhere at a holidaymaker’s houses, maybe chips, Christmas cookies and marshmallows (none of which are good for him).  But, after all, he is a pig and he likes junk food, too. Merry Christmas. For more, please click here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all of our family and friends/readers who celebrate…

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to our friends all over the world.

We extend our heartfelt wishes to those who celebrate Christmas and Chanukah. We awoke this morning to Christmas Eve day and with an unusual (for us) activity on the agenda, we’re celebrating once again with Tom’s sisters and spouses.

This morning at 5:20 am Tom bolted out of bed to drive Margie to the Mesa airport. She was flying back to Minnesota for her granddaughter’s wedding occurring on New Year’s Eve and will return to Apache Junction the first week in January.


This leaves the six of us to continue the celebrations of the holiday season which included Tom’s birthday last night with a big meal and the Minnesota Vikings game (they lost) we watched shortly after dining.



I could kick myself for failing to take photos. Now that I’m using my Google 4XL phone for taking photos, I am having a hard time taking time out of the festivities to take photos. I certainly will be taking photos in India soon enough.


But, in reality, life isn’t always about photos. It’s about memorable experiences and those aren’t always captured with a phone or camera. Tom’s birthday celebration was easy flowing, lively and delightfully fun for the seven of us.


So what’s on the agenda today? We’re joining the family for their tradition of attending the local VFW’s annual “Tom & Jerry” Christmas Eve Day party which begins at 1:00 pm, ending around 4:00 pm. 


Neither Tom nor I drink Tom and Jerry’s and most likely one of us will be the designated driver since we don’t care to drink adult beverages during the day. Instead, we’ll have fun with the others enjoying this unusual way for us to celebrate Christmas Eve Day.


As for last night’s dinner, everything came out exactly as planned. Some of the edges of the garlic bread were overcooked but I trimmed them off and it was still a hit. Tom perfectly cooked everyone’s steak medium rare as requested and mine, rare. 


The butterflied garlic butter prawns were delicious and not a one was left behind. At half time, I served Tom’s lemon birthday cake and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a good meal.


Last night, after dinner Tom washed all the dishes right away. With the kitchen’s small size it’s imperative we get everything out of the way. Shortly afterward I dried the dishes and put everything away. We awoke this morning to the little house being tidy and back in order.


Living in this small space and yet performing normal household activities requires diligence in keeping everything tidy or a feeling of chaos would ensue. We avoid chaos like the plague.


Speaking of the plague, we’re finally recovered from the dreadful flu that lasted for over six weeks, although on occasion we cough a little. That virus compared to the awful virus from a cruise to Sydney in 2015 that left us both coughing for weeks.


Tom is napping right now. Not a good napper, I am walking on my tiptoes to avoid making any noise and awakening him. Hopefully, he can rest for an hour or two until we leave for the VFW.


We wish every one of our family, friends/readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah. May the joy, spirituality, and merriment of the season fill your hearts with love, fulfillment, and hope for the future.


Thank you for sharing this time, all times in the past and times upcoming in the future. All of you are instrumental in the joy we feel as we continue on this journey…36 days and counting…

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2018:

OThe bright light behind us wasn’t the best vantage point in taking this photo. From left to right: Don, Kathy, me, Tom, Danie, Gerhard with Louise and Rita in front. For more photos from his party one year ago, please click here.

Merry Christmas to all of our worldwide readers…Settling in for 31-nights in Buenos Aires…Not as easy as it may seem…

Happy 65th birthday to my darling husband, lover,  travel companion and forever friend who has made this special and unique life of world travel possible.  

Now that the cruise has ended, we won’t be posting photos from “Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising.”  Instead, over the remaining 31-nights, while we’re staying in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires at the Prodeo Hotel, we’ll be posting photos and stories of our day-to-day lives while living in a boutique hotel in this lovely neighborhood, known for its charm and eclectic persona.

We sat at the banquette in the lovely restaurant in Palermo, Lo De Jesus.  It was only ranked #322 of 4,422 restaurant reviews in Buenos Aires on the TripAdvisor site.

At a corporate rate of US $2,560, (ARS 45,878) for this extended stay, we didn’t expect luxury accommodations.  When we were situated in our spacious room, at the impeccable Prodeo Hotel, we needed a few adjustments and made a list for our hotelier Alessandro, hoping he would be helpful in resolving the few concerns which included:

  • Is there ice for our beverages?
  • Is the water safe to drink?
  • How to use the safe?  Directions were unclear.
  • How to use the free phone in room (local calls only)?
  • Can we get another luggage rack since there are no drawers or ample storage space in the room allowing us to unpack?
  • Can we have more hangers for the small closet behind a drape? 
  • There’s no small refrigerator in the room.  Is it possible to get one?
  • One screw to the toilet seat is missing making the seat slide around.  Can this be fixed?
  • Where we’d dine for Tom’s birthday, walking distance from the hotel?
  • Where is there an ATM at a bank?  Fees are generally less at a bank ATM than at a local machine.
    The restaurant’s decor is understated and pleasant.

After we took a much needed short nap and uploaded yesterday’s post, we headed out on foot for an ATM.  We weren’t surprised to discover that each time we’ll use an ATM, the fees will be US $10, (ARS 179) for each transaction, charged by the local machine, more than we’ve paid anywhere in the world.

Many restaurants, from what we’ve seen thus far, also offer a wide array of Argentinian wines for sale.

We won’t need much cash here since most restaurants accept credit cards.  We’ll only need cash for taxis and local mini-marts.  It’s a pricey area so we’ll see how it goes.

Tom couldn’t resist the delicious bread.

Over the next few hours, Alessandro handled each and every one of concerns with the greatest of ease and generosity.  We now have a small refrigerator in our room: ice is available at the hotel’s bar upon request (no charge); we now can use the safe and phone; we received many more wooden hangers; the toilet seat is repaired; we enjoyed Tom’s birthday dinner at fine local restaurant (see photos below); we got cash from the ATM and all is good.

Two complimentary glasses of dry champagne were presented at our table.  

All we need is another dozen or so hangers which Alessandro will provide for us when he arrives later today and, we’ll be set.  Tom has yet to unpack but somehow we’ll manage to find a spot for everything when there are no drawers and few shelves in the room.

A big sturdy knife was placed on Tom’s table setting for his Argentine steak.

With all of our requests handled, we now feel at ease and confident we’ll enjoy our time in Buenos Aires.  Dining out may be somewhat of a challenge for my way of eating when most meals center around doughy type dishes such as empanadas, tortillas, pasta, bread and sweets. But as always, we’ll figure it out, one meal at a time.

My main dish was a Provolone cheese baked with bacon, onions and red peppers, which was delightful.

This morning’s included breakfast was good with hard boiled eggs, meats and cheeses.  I hadn’t had breakfast once on the cruise, but this morning I had a small bite of ham and cheese to hold me until dinner.  We found a nearby restaurant that will be open tonight for dinner and later today, we’ll figure out what we’ll do on Christmas Day.

I added two fried eggs to my meal to round out my protein requirements of 60 grams per day.

Most days, while on the ship I had a salad midday but won’t be doing that now as I work my way back to eating one meal a day which seems to suit me best.    Unfortunately, I must always be considering what foods will be suitable for my way of eating. 

Tom’s Argentine steak as a little fatty for him but the flavor of the meat was otherwise excellent.

In the realm of things, it’s insignificant.  After all, it was changing my diet that made it possible for us to travel the world.  As a result, I never feel deprived or “sorry” for myself unable to eat the gorgeous bread, pasta, and desserts offered here and in every city in the world.  It’s a small price to pay for this glorious life.

Many buildings in the city have colorful and unique exteriors.

Speaking of “glorious lives” may we wish each and every one of our worldwide readers, family, and friends, a joyous holiday season filled with love, happiness, and merriment.

This is where we’ll be dining tonight, Christmas Eve, one of the few restaurants open tonight.

Throughout the year we never hesitate to feel grateful for this blissful life we lead.  Now with the holiday season upon us, we have the further opportunity to reflect on our good fortune of health and well-being which without, this life wouldn’t be possible.

Another colorful building exterior.

May those of you who celebrate this time of year, experience the utmost of good health and well-being as you make your way through this special holiday season and New Year.

Entrance gate to an apartment in Palermoa.
 ___________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2016:

Finally, we were able to take a photo in the early evening of a fast moving train decorated with Christmas light. We’d hope for a nighttime train for a better shot.  However, each time we heard a train coming in the dark, we quickly ran outside with the camera only to find that particular train wasn’t decorated.  We’re content with this shot.  For more photos of Christmas in Penguin, Tasmania, 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.
____________________________________________________________________

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.