When all is said and done, what will it really cost????…

The boys are especially handsome with their budding horns.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
The kudus give us “the look,” which means “more pellets please,”

Note:  Please bear with us for the lack of innovative and exciting photos. Stuck on the veranda and with only a few visitors each day, our photo ops are limited right now.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, whether we like it or not, whether it’s fair or not, we are faced with a monumental financial loss due to my recent triple coronary bypass surgery.
Having to cancel all prepaid venues over the next three months results in a financial loss for which there is nothing we can do that we haven’t already attempted.
On top of the incurred losses is the fact that we had to pay for the holiday rental of the “Orange” house from February to May when we’ll depart for Ireland for the upcoming three-month rental in Connemara by the sea.  This booking will remain in place.
Two female kudus stopped by this morning.
We’re looking forward to the summer months in Ireland, but the realities of what it will have cost us to get there are quite a sting. Once again, I’ll reiterate, we are immensely and eternally grateful to have discovered my severe heart condition while in South Africa for several reasons:
  1. The cost of health care in this country is very reasonable
  2. The quality of medical care in South Africa is exemplary
  3. South Africa is known for its advancements in heart disease as compared to other countries throughout the world
  4. The cost of living while recovering is as much as 50% less than in many other countries throughout the world
We couldn’t have been in a better place when discovering this life-threatening condition. Oh, gosh, had we gone on to Kenya, we would have been in dire straits trying to find the quality of care required to “right” this condition. We are so grateful for being here in South Africa.
Soon they were accompanied by a young male, most likely an offspring of one of the females.
Now we are faced with bearing the entire cost of the operation, doctors, and follow-up care when our insurance company is looking for any possible “out” to avoid paying the claim, only adding to our worry and stress. We are talking about a lot of money.
Today’s post is presented with the intent of sharing these losses but may not be exact to the penny. The time and energy required for the exact numbers aren’t quite where I’m during this recovery period. But, the numbers we present today are within 5% of the actual costs. I’m still not quite clear-headed enough to be as precise as we’d usually strive to be.
So, here’s an overview of the losses we’ll have incurred as a direct result of this dire medical emergency.
  • Flight to Kenya from South Africa (non-refundable) ZAR 15752, US $1135
  • Kenya Safari Tour (non-refundable) ZAR 199688, US $14,400 with a promised refund of ZAR 69336, US $5000 for a total loss of ZAR 130352, US $9400
  • Hotel in Santiago Chile (non-refundable) ZAR 20440, US $1474
  • Cruise from Chile to San Diego, CA (partially refundable) ZAR 22174, US $1599
  • Flight from San Diego, CA to Minneapolis, MN (non-refundable) ZAR 6330, US $ 456.60
  • Cruise from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Copenhagen, Denmark (partially refundable) ZAR 12480, US $900
Total losses: ZAR 207523  US $14,965
Plus, we must include any medical expenses for hospitals, doctors, and medications. We’ll report back on these as they become known shortly. With these totals included, we will be looking at a total loss, more than ZAR 1040040, US $75,000.
Such cuteness…
Also, ironically, we received a notice from Expedia while I was in the hospital that the flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Santiago, Chile, was being canceled. We’d be refunded the entirety of this expense (not calculated in the above costs). This credit hasn’t been reflected on our credit card yet, but we’re watching for it.
As we review these losses, they are meaningless when compared to the fact that my life has been spared, and in time, as we recovery physically, emotionally, and financially, we’ll move into the future with excitement, hope, and fulfillment for that which is yet to come.
Thanks to all of our readers/friends, and family for their loving support and prayers during this challenging time.
Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2018:
I had the opportunity to feed tiny Doc, who slowly nibbled on the teaspoon. For more details on bushbaby rehab, please click here.

No cooking, no laundry, no making the bed…Itinerary until December…

Our new itinerary…

 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
 Cruise – Sydney to Singapore  14  RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise – Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  15  Viking Mekong    7/8/2016 –
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 –
 Bali House w 59  9/1/2016 –
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 –
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16  RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 

Late yesterday afternoon, as we lounged on the deck overlooking this vast farmland and the sea, each of us sipping on a glass of wine (more on why I may be occasionally drinking wine in tomorrow’s post), it dawned on me that we won’t have to do much housework up until December 3, 2016 when we arrive in Tasmania.

These unusual mushrooms appear translucent.

Mentioning to Tom that we hadn’t been able to do laundry for days due to rain which finally stopped around 4:00 pm, it dawned on me that over the next many months, hanging laundry won’t be on our radar.

Once we leave New Zealand in less than a month, we won’t have to wash a dish, make a bed or do our laundry with the exception of the 41 days we’ll live on the island of Phuket, Thailand where we won’t have household help other than a weekly cleaner.

We started recalling our itinerary, as Tom easily recalls from memory long into the future. A month from today, we’ll board Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas after spending one night in the Sydney Hotel. Then the lazy days begin.

An unusual “mushroom” in our yard fell over from its weight.

Upcoming in Bali on both occasions as shown in the itinerary, staying at the same property, we’ll have a full staff. There, if we choose we won’t have to cook if we’d prefer not to do so.

Although I need to have a close handle on how food is being prepared, the owners explained we can shop, if we’d prefer and the cook will chop, dice and prep food while I put it together seasoning and finishing. 

The staff in Bali will serve our needs throughout the day handling all household tasks, later setting the table, preparing the meal and cleaning up after dinner, later departing for the evening.  

We never stop noticing a pretty flower.

What will I do with myself when I spend the better part of most days running about the house engaged in various household tasks most of which I don’t mind? Also, preparing our meals requires a little time each day.

We easily recall this similar scenario when living in Marrakesh, Morocco for almost three months beginning in March, 2014; never washing a dish, cooking a meal, making the bed, cleaning or doing laundry. It took some getting used to.

We discovered that we easily navigate being around people all day never failing to treat them kindly, respectfully and often with a degree of warmth and affection when appropriate. 

We think these are Rhododendron.  They have a velvety texture.

We generously provide tips when its time for us to go as will be the case going forward with hotel staff, cruise cabin steward and other cruise staff and various household staff members.

A lot of daily walking and swimming in the pool in Bali will be in order during these many months when we could easily become lazy with this lifestyle over these many months. 

Fortunately, during the 62 days of cruising, using the health club (me, only) and lots of walking are great options to keep us active and moving about along with the many tours we’ll be on during these periods. 

Roses continue to bloom in the cooler weather.

Regardless of the situations we encounter as we continue to travel the world, we make every effort to not only adapt to our surroundings at any given time but to also find ways to stay active and busy whether we have household help or are on our own.

We hope your day is filled with that which you find appealing, that which works for YOU, whether its reading a book, watching a favorite TV show, taking a leisurely walk or pounding it out at the health club.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2015:

The beaks of the Albatross are used for preening and for signs of greeting. Or, they may be used in aggression if an intruder threatens them or the nest.  One year ago, we spent considerable time at their nesting site.  For more details, please click here.

When all the sightseeing is said and done…What do we do for entertainment?…All new photos…

Every Friday night, we see Norwegian’s Pride of America ship after leaving the port in Nawiliwili, Kauai.  It sails along the Napali Coast and then turns back toward Honolulu where the seven day cruises end on Saturday morning at 7 am to depart again on a new cruise that evening at 7:00 pm.

We’ve fairly well exhausted most of the possible sightseeing adventures in Kauai that appeals to our senses, level of fitness and interests.

With no house to maintain, no garden to tend, no grass to cut, no weeds to pull, no barbecue parties to host in the yard and no family functions to attend, what could we possibly do to entertain ourselves during our 27 remaining days on the island of Kauai?

New photo of one of our favorite views in Kauai, the mountains and sea at Hanalei Bay.

Our average day consists of doing the requisite loads of laundry, cleaning the small condo, washing windows, preparing meals and grocery shopping every five days or so and on occasion making a trip to the Healthy Hut in Kilauea. 

At night we dine and watch a few favorite downloaded TV shows or even a few shows that are on the TV, such as tonight’s AD The Bible and tomorrow evening’s Dancing with the Stars. In some ways our lives are not unlike that of many other retirees worldwide who live in condos or apartments.

Colorful orchid bloom.

But, in many ways, we have more free time based on the above-mentioned items and more. With a rental car, we don’t even have the occasional obligation of having the oil changed or performing general maintenance. We never have a doctor, dentist, or eye doctor appointment.

Tom says he doesn’t have to chase the geese off the lawn. Instead, he spends the better portion of each day chasing the pigeons off the lanai railing to make way for the feeding nuts to our favorite birds who visit several times each day. In a funny way, our preoccupation with the same familiar birds stopping by occupies a portion of our time, calling them, watching them, and laughing at their antics.

Beautiful overlook.

I no longer spend endless hours in the kitchen chopping, cooking, and baking for us, for family and friends, foods that no longer suits our way of eating, for those who are no longer a short distance away, spending the better part of the day stopping by with a delivery of some delectable plate or pan of something that I’d made to share. Those days are long gone.

Instead, I spend each morning from the time I’m up showered and dressed for the day, hair fixed with makeup on, ready to tackle the world, sitting at my computer writing, editing and posting. Usually, I begin by 7:00 or 7:30 and end anywhere from 10:30 to noon. 

Sunset last night. 

During this period, Tom assists me by researching past posts for links and other information I may be posting that particular day. When done assisting me, he perused his favorite websites such as Facebook, news, financial markets, and of course, his passion, Ancestry.com.

As soon as the post is uploaded we often head to the Makai Golf Course which is listed as one of the world’s five most scenic golf courses. We head to the pool and fitness center where we’ll usually find Richard and Larry. 

The overlook at the Hanalei Wildlife Refuse where one can see the world’s largest taro fields.

As mentioned in past posts, we never spend more than 45 minutes in the sun all the while chatting with our friends as we acquire a good dose of Vitamin D. Doing so for 20 minutes a day without the use of sunscreen may prevent the necessity of taking Vitamin D supplements, a necessity for bone health for seniors. This avoids the necessity of hauling several more bottles of vitamins in our already heavy luggage. (It’s important to gradually work up to the 20 minutes by tanning for 10 minutes on each side to avoid sunburn).

Several times each week after the pool we stop to visit the albatross, the grocery store, or visit a local farmer’s market. At other times, we drive for awhile looking for new photo ops, later to return home to change back into our clothes and head out for a walk. By the time we return from the walk, it’s often 2:30 pm as the day quickly moves along. 

One of Kauai’s most popular overlooks.

Had we been retired and living our old lives, on occasion we’d have made a trip to Home Depot, a local nursery, or Costco. Returning home, we’d have had “stuff” to put away, projects to start, a garden to tend, or a meal to prepare for arriving family or friends. The day would have easily become filled with activities.

We’re never disappointed when we stop for photos at this amazing spot.

A few evenings a week, we have social plans. We stay home the remainder of the, watching for a brilliant sunset and enjoying our evenings as if every night is a playful Saturday night. Add in a good meal and at times, a movie and what more could we want? Never bored, we relish each moment as new and interesting.

Red Lipstick Tree branches.

Often on a daily basis, there’s tons of email to reply to, banking and finances to handle and plans for the future to investigate. We’ve found ourselves tackling what may have felt like a task in the past, as now being a pleasant experience. Perhaps, the lack of hustle and bustle in our lives makes paying bills online kind of fun.

On top of our simple daily lives, we both enjoy reading; me, an occasional novel but, mostly scientific studies, health, nutrition and medicine, and Tom, international intrigue and espionage novels and biographies of people he’s admired and respected over the years.

Cattle Egrets are commonly found near excavation areas, golf courses, lawn mowing, and gardening areas. They hang around these specific areas in hopes of worms and bugs being brought to the surface. We always laugh over seeing dozens of these birds at excavation sites.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our current reading list. We’d love to hear from any of our readers who may have suggestions for reading material they’ve found interesting that may appeal to us. How fun would that be!

May your Sunday be relaxing and fulfilling whatever you decide to do!

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

It wasn’t uncommon to find orange trees growing in restaurants in Marrakech when most restaurants were built, similar to our riad, with an open-air center courtyard. For details from that date as our time in Morocco was winding down, please click here.

What, no oven?…We made an error in booking a future rental…

Two intertwined white Hibiscus flowers.

In this past week, amid all of our busy days and nights, we realized it was time to start preparing for the upcoming trip to Australia and the South Pacific. In the process, we reviewed the upcoming rentals over the next year to see if there were any issues we needed to address.

Kauai always presents a beautiful mountain view.

Disappointed that we missed it during the booking process, we discovered that there is no oven in the first house in Fiji. There’s only a built-in stove top. How did we fail to notice this when we carefully read every detail before booking any property?

I suppose it was not unlike when we booked the house in Kenya, we didn’t think of asking if there was an indoor living room or lounge area or indoor sofa (there was not). 

Hanalei Beach is seen from one of the wraparound lanais at the St. Regis Hotel, where we often walk.

As a result of our failure to ask if there was a living room, we spent three full months from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm sitting outdoors on the screen-less veranda, getting bitten by mosquitoes and other insects, carefully stepping over poisonous centipedes seven days a week in scorching humid heat. (This proved to be a good thing when it toughened us up for the remaining almost nine months In Africa).

Who ever thought of asking if there’s a living room? (It was so hot and humid that the zippers on our luggage turned green). We now ask or verify in photos that there’s an indoor lounge, salon or living room. Lesson learned.

There’s always something burning in that area.  We aren’t certain what it is.

We booked Fiji after the no-living-room-situation in Kenya. In the fuzzy photos we could barely see a modern kitchen with a built-in stovetop assuming that there was an oven below. We also observed a microwave on the countertop assuming if there’s a microwave, surely there’s an oven We’d never discussed anything about an oven.

Lo and behold, a few days ago upon further inspection on the website, and based on the fact we’ll be moving into that particular property on September 8th, a mere 4½ months from now, we carefully inspected the listing to discover that there’s no oven, no toaster oven, no convection oven.

Savusavu villa rental - very spacious living room with fully equipped kitchen and dining of Villa B.B.
The kitchen in Fiji is along the back wall.  Its easy to see how we could have missed noticing if there was an oven or not by looking at this fuzzy photo.  We’ve never been in a property with a stove top but no oven. As a result we “assumed” if there was a stovetop, surely there would be an oven. We learn as we go.

For some travelers, not having an oven would be no big deal. However, spending 89 days in a single location cooking most of our meals, we need an oven. Plain and simple. Our way of eating requires considerable cooking in an oven.

View to the sea over African Tulip trees.

First step, rather than panicking was to contact the property manager Mario, to ask a few questions about the lack of an oven:
1.  What would the on-site cook charge us (its a resort) to come get our prepared items, bake them for us in whatever kitchen she uses to prepare meals for guests and return it, ready to be eaten?
2.  Is there a portable convection oven anywhere on the grounds that we could  use or have in our house for the 89 days?

Mario, a most thoughtful and helpful property manager, immediately went to work on coming up with a solution when I kindly asked for his assistance or suggestions.

Within 12 hours, Mario got back to me. He went to town and purchased a full-sized stove/oven which will be hooked up awaiting our arrival in September! We were both shocked and extremely pleased by his generosity and thoughtfulness.

View from several stories above this beach at the St. Regis Hotel. Tom has verbal slips, often referring to this as the St. Frances Hotel. His sister Beth is a nun and her order is the St. Frances. How that trips up his brain makes me laugh!

We never expected this amazing solution, nor would we have backed out of our commitment to end up booking somewhere else with an oven. The deposit we’d paid to date was only $300 and if we were different people, we may have forfeited the $300 and moved on. There are other rentals in Fiji.

Backing out is not our style. Mario had locked up that property for us over a year ago for our three-month stay.  Leaving them in the lurch just isn’t our style. 

We would have learned to cook everything on the stove top. I even went as far as looking online to see if there was a way to bake a low carb pizza or low carb muffins atop the stove. A microwave just won’t cut it. 

A bit of ocean, mountain and vegetation create an exquisite view.

We use an oven almost everyday for something; baked eggs muffins, Tom’s blueberry scones, a roast, a whole chicken (all low carb, starch, sugar, and grain-free) and on and on. It would have been very limiting. Plus, there’s no grill available on the property which would have been a difficult but acceptable alternative.

This kind of attention to detail and desire to please the customer doesn’t occur without the utmost of appreciation and gratefulness on our part. He didn’t even ask for a portion of the balance of the rent in order to buy the oven which isn’t due for several weeks. Wow!

We stopped for a moment to savor the view as we wandered through St. Regis Hotel.

Did we learn a new lesson? Most certainly. Added to our list of other items to verify in the future is now an oven. Here’s are some of our considerations for all of our rentals:

1.  Wireless broadband, directly in the property. TV not required.
2.  A living room with sofa and/or comfortable chairs. 
3.  Ceiling fans or if not available, air conditioning in the bedroom for hot nights (we’ve never used it here in Kauai).
4.  A full kitchen with an oven and stove top.  Dishwasher not necessary.  Microwave optional. 
5.  Ideally, an ocean view or other significant view if the property is located in the interior.
6.  A table and chairs or counter top area for dining. 
7.  A coffee pot, a large bowl, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and knives.
8.  Bath towels. Believe it or not, some properties advertise to “bring your own linen.” This doesn’t work for us. 
9.  Easy access to a washing machine. We don’t need a dryer, only a drying rack or clothesline. We prefer to avoid taking our laundry to a Laundromat.
10. Access to a grocery store within a 30-minute drive.
11. A parking spot if we have a rental car. (In Fiji, we’ll use a driver).
12. An outdoor area of some sort. A pool preferred, not necessary.
13. Access to a safe area for walks or walks along the beach.
14. A comfortable bed, preferably larger than double. In the past, we’ve managed with a double bed provided it has adequate pillows and comfortable, clean bedding. There’s no way to determine this until the first night’s sleep.  In these past few years, we’ve adapted to some horribly uncomfortable beds. If a problem arises, we don’t hesitate to address it with the property owner. In December, on the Big Island, the owner immediately replaced an awful bed and threadbare linen upon at our request.

The chandelier at St. Regis Hotel is not necessarily befitting this tropical environment.

Anything included beyond the above, is considered a bonus and in many cases when we’ve walked in the door of a new property, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by some extras we hadn’t expected; a laundry basket, cleaning supplies, a vacuum, a blender or an ice machine (as opposed to using ice cube trays which is most often the case).

When we look back at all the abundance in our old lives such as possessing every kitchen gadget known to woman/man or TV’s with DVRs, high definition all access cable channels, or comfortable chaise lounges on a sunny patio or an outdoor table and chairs with an umbrella, it’s easy to see how much we have changed.

View across an indoor water display at St. Regis Hotel.

We’ve lowered our expectations, not only in what amenities we’ll expect in a vacation home that we rent for a period of time or, in a hotel for one night or, even at a restaurant. There’s nothing more satisfying than a pleasant surprise.

On the other hand, we make every effort to prepare ourselves for potential disappointments by figuring out workarounds rather than whining and complaining for two to three months. 

These commonly seen bright balls grow on various palm trees as future leaves, not always flowers.

I’ll send this post to Mario to ensure he realizes how much we appreciate what he’s done for us and how much it means to our level of enjoyment and comfort while in Fiji. Thank you, Mario. We look forward to meeting you and Tatjana in September.

Have a thought-provoking Tuesday filled with solutions for what may keep you awake at night. I only had to think about an oven in the middle for one night, thanks to Mario.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2014:

On the rooftop of our riad in Marrakech, a small area was designated for the washer. With Madame Zahra and Ouimama doing our laundry, we never had to use it. Of course, as is the case in many countries, wet clothes are hung outdoors. For details and more photos of the riad, please click here.