Day #270 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Replay of fabulous food photos from cruise…

This window box display was a part of the “Favorites” choice on the menu at Qsine on the Celebrity Infinity in 2017.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2017 while sailing on the Celebrity Infinity along the coast of South America, and dining in the fantastic specialty restaurant, Qsine. For more photos not shown here today, please click here.

Sharing these food photos for the second time, under our current situation, is certainly going to be a mouth-watering experience. To think in less than a month, we’ll be preparing and dining our own meals, one of the many highlights of getting out of here.

Tom dined on one of these “Lava Crab” dishes which I avoided due to the flour content. He described it as outstanding.

As we are reminded of the exceptional dinner we had on that cruise in 2017 and how much fun specialty restaurants are on cruises, we wonder when we’ll ever be able to cruise again. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine may be influential in re-starting cruises in some countries, but many poor countries won’t offer such a luxury.

If any of the cruise lines with whom we have five booked cruises into 2022, requires evidence of a vaccine, we may be out of luck. Africa will be one of the last continents to have access to the vaccine. We’ll see how that rolls out in time. If we were to fly to another continent at some point to receive the vaccine, we’d have to stay three weeks for the second dose.

Tom was holding his menu tablet while deciding what to order at the Qsine specialty restaurant while at sea on Celebrity Infinity. There were nine Celebrity ships offering this exceptional dining experience.

Perhaps in time, they’ll come up with a single dose vaccine that will make it easier for those in similar situations to ours. If we decide to continue on our world travels for considerably longer, we’ll have no choice but to return to the US to receive the vaccine. Maybe we can do so next time we visit family, which we’ll do once the virus settles down in the US.

From this report, updated daily, the USA has 23% of the world’s cases and 19% of the deaths. Considering that statistics are being recorded in 220 countries and territories, this is an outrageous number. As we’ve mentioned many times in past posts, returning to the US at any time in the near future is entirely out of the question.

From the “Sushi ” choice were these “lollipops.” Although we didn’t order this option, we loved this gorgeous presentation.

As for today’s photos, our topic returns to food. Yesterday, while I was working on the errors in past posts, of which I’m only one-third of the way through the over 3000 posts, I encountered comments I’d made about a reader commenting that they were sick and tired of my food comments and recipes. Hum, isn’t traveling in part about dining in one way or another?

When most of us travel, one of the first things on the agenda is checking out the local cuisine, booking reservations from highly rated TripAdvisor reviews, visiting local food trucks, cafes, and diners, and also the possibility of the safety of eating street food? How many of us while dining out during a holiday/vacation has entered a grocery store to check out the cultural differences in food, pricing, and at times, to purchase snacks, liquor, or treats?

Many items from the “Soup & Souffle” menu were served “tapas” style, small servings such as these two souffle chefs Chantal prepared for me.

That’s a big part of the enjoyment of traveling. And even me, with my limited options due to my way of eating, it’s still quite enjoyable to dine out, purchase groceries, and to prepare our own meals while living in holiday homes. Oh, well, that was only one reader and I’m sure by now, they no longer read our posts at all, especially after our boring content over the past nine months.

If they thought “food” was boring, how about our frequent comments, whining, and observations about living under these most peculiar circumstances? As our long-term and new readers know, we strive to “tell it like it is” and not pander to those who may prefer a more “fluffy version” of our lives.

The “Taco Royale” presentation could easily have been a full meal for me with its make-your-own guacamole and beef taco salad.

Sure, this meal we’re sharing today in photos, looks stupendous, and we’d love to be able to savor such a meal now. But, we can’t. Instead, we focus on the fact that soon enough, we’ll be preparing big juicy rare/medium-rare steaks on the braai with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand, sweating up a storm on the veranda, batting off the flies and mozzies, and smiling from ear to ear. Hopefully, in a little over 25 days, when we depart India for South Africa.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2019:

From this site: “The famous fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona: Built-in 1970 by Robert McCulloch the fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world! The fountain sprays water for 15 minutes every hour at the top of the hour. The fountain uses 7,000 gallons per minute and at its full height, it can reach 560 feet in the air. The plume rises from a concrete water-lily sculpture in the center of a man-made lake. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain in the center of Fountain Hills is higher than the Washington Monument. It is 10 feet taller than Notre Dame Cathedral, 110 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt and three times as high as Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The white plume of the world-famous fountain is visible far beyond Fountain Hills. It can be seen from as far away as the Superstition Mountains, Carefree and even from aircraft. The fountain is the focal point for community celebrations and the pride of its residents. If you happen to visit during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’ll see the fountain transform to emerald green. The Fountain is extended to its full height on special occasions, for every day viewing the Fountain reaches a height of 330 feet! The World Famous Fountain runs every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week! This fountain is a celebration of life and water where it is most appreciated – in the middle of the desert.” For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #269 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world…

The sign reads, “fin del mundo,” the end of the world.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 when our ship was sailing the coast of South America and docked in Ushuaia, Argentina for the day. For more photos, please click here.

It was quite a day when our ship docked in Ushuaia, Argentina when only a little more than a month later we flew back to this amazing city to board our cruise to Antarctica for a fantastic expedition to see the wonders of our seventh continent we’d yet to see.

We were bundled up in Ushuaia. It was cold!

We decided to stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the cruise ended on December 23, 2018, for a month while awaiting the Antarctica cruise, staying in a boutique hotel in the lovely Palermo district where we were able to go sightseeing and dine out on a daily basis. As we continue here through the holiday season, most likely we’ll repost photos from that month while spending Tom’s birthday (December 23rd), Christmas eve and day, and New Year’s eve and day in Buenos Aires.

We stayed in that hotel from December 23, 2017, until January 24, 2018, to then fly back to Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, to board Ponant Le Boreal (a luxury French ship/cruise line) to sail deep into Antarctica. It’s funny how we recall how challenging it was to be stuck in that hotel for a month, especially during the holidays.

An expedition ship, preparing to set sail for Antarctica. Soon, we’d be on such a ship.

It’s ironic, that now after nine months in this hotel how much we appreciated going out for walks, to dine, to see the sights in the fantastic area. Little did we know at the time, we’d be in a hotel with no freedom of movement, 10 times longer. Wow!

This morning while walking I encountered a man coming out of his room, asking him to pull his mask over his face. He was very kind and we began chatting. He is an executive on a two-month stint in Mumbai opening a new location for his worldwide company and he, too, was appalled by how few Indian people wear masks.

It was almost summer in Ushuaia, but it was cold and the mountains were still snow-capped.

It was nice chatting with someone after all these months and made me realize how hungry we’ve been for companionship and conversation with others. No offense intended for each other. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our daily interactions between the two of us. But, it will be nice to chat with others.

Many of our friends in Marloth Park mention on Facebook about getting together once we arrive. It will be an entirely new experience for us. Of course, we’ll exercise the utmost of the usual precautions, wearing face masks, no hugging, social distancing, and most likely not dining together, as we’d done in the past.

An exquisite albatross sculpture. We especially enjoyed seeing many albatross in the port.

Customarily, in South Africa, when people get together, they each bring their own beverages in a “chill box,” whether it’s a happy hour gathering or a dinner party. In these cases, it’s helpful that no one touches one another’s beverages and glasses, further reducing the risk of infection. I am sure we’ll figure it all out, especially by ensuring we gather in small groups only.

On the agenda today? We are going to book two more months for the rental car, so by the time we arrive at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport, we’ll sign all three contracts, paying in advance,  providing us with insurance on the rental cars included on our credit cards (in increments of one month). If this works, we’ll avoid the two-hours (round trip) driving time every 30 days to return the car and get a new contract. We’ll see if this works and report back later.

Most of the town is centered around seaport enterprises.

As for the remainder of today? It will be the “usual.” We’re really enjoying watching the series, “The Crown” on Netflix after dinner each night. One of our thoughtful readers sent us a message suggesting we watch, “Call the Midwife.” We’ll give that series a try this afternoon when we wind down for the day and of course, wind down to the 26 days until we depart India!

May your day be safe and pleasant.

Photo from one year ago today, December 17, 2019:

Tom and I and Jerry and Vicki in Arizona last year. It was amazing to see them so many years later. We met them in January 2015 in Kauai, Hawaii. For more, please click here.

Day #268 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Another day in the life…

This rock formation connotes where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet at Cape Horn.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 while on a cruise along the coast of South America, where we sailed around Cape Horn on our way to the most southerly city in the world Ushuaia. For the story, please click here.

In the above-mentioned post, we wrote: “It was only 6:00 am when we were situated in Cafe al Bacio drinking our favorite coffee. The ship is humming with announcements over the loudspeaker with the enthusiasm of the passengers palpable as we sail from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean via Cape Horn, South America.”

Evening photo. The sun didn’t fully set until almost 11:00 pm.

It was another of those great adventures that some may dismiss as interesting and moderately eventful, but for us, it was another of those profound, memorable milestones as a part of our world travels. Many such experiences befell us when we had never even considered such possibilities.

Alas, our travels at any time could bestow upon us, yet another experience that we carry into the future. Each day, as we search for the repeat photos from past travels to share in the newest post, we continually encounter many such events that make us smile and feel grateful for what we’ve encountered during the past eight years.

Tom said he was nearly blown away by high winds when he took this photo in the early morning as we approached Cape Horn.

We wonder, what will we remember of these 10 months in this hotel room, by the time we leave in January? What did we discover? About life? About ourselves? About confinement such as this?

Ideally, we’ll walk away from here with a plethora of new perspectives, emotions, and insights. At the moment, it’s difficult for us to embrace such thoughts when the majority of our daily lives center around telling other guests to wear a face mask. It’s absolutely outrageous!

Rock formations at Cape Horn.

Our frustration is palpable. Tom does most of his exercises in one fell swoop so he deals with it during that 40-minute segment. I walk every half hour, occasionally longer to accomplish my 5 miles, 8 km, throughout the day. I realize this issue might be less annoying if I finished all my walking at one time. But, I’ve found getting up and moving around at least once an hour, has a better health benefit for me, helping to reduce pain and stiffness from sitting too long.

This morning, when our room was being cleaned, we both took off some exercise in the corridors. Immediately, we both encountered a group of three guests blocking the corridor. None of them was wearing a face mask. From a distance of about 15 feet, 5 meters I kindly said, “Please put on a face mask!”. They didn’t move. Tom was ahead of me. They didn’t respond, move, or put on face masks.

Map of the most southerly tip of South America, Cape Horn, where we sailed.

Behind us were several cleaning carts blocking the corridor, making turning around nearly impossible. When they didn’t respond, Tom, in dire frustration, faked a massive sneeze accidentally knocking his glasses off his face. He was hoping they’d learn to want to protect themselves from others. He managed to get past them. Next, it was my turn. But as I passed, one yelled out to me, “Hey, this is yours!” The man handed me Tom’s eyeglasses which had flown off his head during the fake sneeze. Apparently, Tom hadn’t noticed this.

My first concern was I was holding Tom’s glasses in my left hand, my phone with earbuds in my right hand. Yuck! I had touched something from the hand of a person who didn’t and wouldn’t wear a face mask, possibly the most likely COVID-19 carrier. I chased Tom down. He wasn’t even aware that his glasses were gone! I suppose the face mask on his face prevented him from feeling that his glasses had flown off.

Many rock formations are named but with the slow Wi-Fi right now we’re unable to do much research.

As I caught up with him, I handed him his glasses and immediately turned on my heels to head back to our room to wash my hands. I encouraged Tom to do the same, but when we reached the room, the cleaner was on his hands and knees washing the bathroom floor. I didn’t care. I kindly asked him to leave so we could wash our hands. He complied.

Ah, we’re only 27 days from leaving this hotel room to head to the Mumbai International Airport for South Africa. The days can’t come soon enough. In Marloth Park right now there are daily power outages resulting in WiFi outages (load shedding from the electric company), horribly high temperatures, zillions of insects, including malaria-carrying mosquitos, snakes (commonly seen in the summer months, often entering houses), and from the comments we’ve seen on Facebook, occasional water outages. Bring it on, baby! We’re ready to take it on!

Cape Horn is not one single spot. It’s a series of islands and rock formations.

Stay safe, please.

Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2019:

Even those residents with RVs in the park in Apache Junction, Arizona, may have fruit trees such as this orange tree in their front yards. For more, please click here.

Day #262 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…No masks!…More from South America in 2017…

Adult and baby pelicans atop a fishing net.

Today’s photos are a continuation of our visit to Arica, Chile while on a back-to-back cruise, (two-15 day cruises), to South  America on this date in 2017. For more photos, please click here.

Sure, I complain about this every few days, guests in the hotel refusing to wear a face mask in the corridors and public areas. Our dilemma? Do we stop walking in the corridors and spend 16 hours a day sitting in a chair and eight hours in bed? Not our ideal healthy scenario over the next month until we depart this hotel, and depart India on January 12th?

A scene of Arica, Chile from our cabin’s veranda.

I suppose if I didn’t have heart disease, I’d bite the bullet and stay in the room, figuring once we’re out of here, I can make up for it. But, I’ve found walking to be highly beneficial to my well-being, blood pressure, blood sugar, and hopefully my arteries. I don’t dare reverse the stamina I’ve built over the past almost nine months in this hotel, having to start all over again when we arrive in South Africa.

Last night, on Facebook, I read that a leopard with its leg in a snare was wandering the roads in Marloth Park. That could easily deter walking in the bush. The rangers are searching for the injured animal and once they do, they’ll dart it and take it to the local animal rehab until she/he is well enough to be returned to the wild.

A boulevard scene in Arica, Chile.

These types of situations are not uncommon in the bush, so walking on the dirt roads may be limited at times. Instead, I’ll have to stick to the grounds of our bush house, or even, if necessary, walking indoors, if, at any given times, it’s not safe to walk outdoors. It’s not easy to walk five miles inside a house, but it can be done.

In the Orange house in 2019, after heart surgery and before my legs became infected, I walked a route I’d created in the house once every 30 minutes, throughout the day, to accomplish 1000s of steps. Of course, once I’m busy cooking and “keeping house” getting in more steps will be considerably easier.

Arica was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

In Marloth Park, we will have extra services, limiting the amount of housework we’ll do each day to include: daily cleaning, pool services, laundry services, linen change once a week, shopping in Komatipoort. Can you believe Louise will shop for us if we prefer to stay away from the busy village of Komatipoort?

We prefer to put our clothes in the washer and then leave them for Zeff and Vusi,  (the cleaners) to hang them outdoors. That way, we have control over our whites, colors, and the delicate items being washed in the kitchen’s washing machine. There won’t be many steps taken by us doing laundry.

Dining in the open mall area.

It’s not safe to walk outdoors here either. It would require going into the lift twice an hour, down and then back up, which surely is a hotbed of germs with all these guests going in and out all day without wearing masks. Also, once outdoors, there is nowhere to walk, but in the parking lot or the parking ramp. The streets of Mumbai are so jammed with vehicles, making walking on the side of the road with no sidewalks, dangerous and foolhardy.

So, I guess we just have to deal with the endless stream of guests in the corridors not wearing masks, avoiding them as much as possible. I take no shame in literally turning on my heels and bolting in the other direction when they refuse to put on a mask which happens 50% of the time when I ask them to “Please put on your face mask.”

A colorful fishing boat.

If this face mask situation wasn’t such a stressful ordeal, waiting out the next 34 days would be a breeze. Alas, this is our fate for now and we continue to deal with it as best we can, asking guest after guest to “Please put on your face mask.”  And, then, if they don’t, running the other way,  Perhaps, I’m getting more exercise by my fast turns and escape from non-mask wearers!

Have a good day everyone. This too shall pass, (at least we keep telling ourselves).

Photo from one year ago today, December 10, 2019:

The compact unit/living room had everything we needed for the seven weeks in Apache Junction, Arizona, when we lived in a park model where Tom’s sisters and brothers-in-law spend the cold Minnesota winters. For more photos, please click here.

Day #257 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Plan B is in place if South Africa won’t let us enter…

This pelican was trained to entertain tourists as the man passed around a cup.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 while visiting Pisco, Peru, as a port of call on our cruise along the coasts of South America. For more on that day’s post, please click here.

Previously, we discussed the possibility of a Plan B, in the event we can’t board the flight to South Africa for any reason on January 12, 2021, and what we’ll do from there.

Locally harvested seashells for sale along with a few pairs of flip-flops.

A few days ago in this post, in case you missed it, we’ve booked flights from Mumbai to Dubai to Johannesburg to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger on January 12, 2021, arriving in Marloth Park on January 13, 2021. But, as mentioned in prior posts, we had booked such a flight on March 20, 2020, arriving at the Mumbai Airport at 2:00 am, only to be turned away when South Africa refused to let us enter the country due to their imminent plan to close the borders due to COVID-19.

In no way are we totally confident that this won’t happen again, especially as cases continue to rise in South Africa at a very high rate. We’ve carefully reviewed and will continue to review all the conditions under which we will be allowed to enter and of course, we’ll be diligent in every aspect.

Ship sculpture made from bones.

However, typical for us, preferring to leave no loose ends in our travel plans, we knew we had to come up with an alternate plan, thus Plan B, in the event for any reason, we aren’t allowed to fly on that or a similar flight in its place. With bated breath, we hope we don’t hear from Emirates Airline informing us that the flight has been canceled.

This could easily happen, especially when we see the number of flights that are canceled worldwide on a daily basis, including many in India. The worst-case scenario in this travel plan, other than contracting COVID-19 or other health issues, is that we are turned away once again and have to return to this or another hotel in Mumbai and continue to wait.

Activity on the boardwalk in Pisco.

At this point, we’re in no state of mind to allow that to happen. The thought of returning to such a hotel room, makes us cringe. Instead, after considerable research online over the past few days, we’ve decided we’ll book a flight to Seychelles, a popular island resort country which certainly isn’t as far away as South Africa.

With a 90-day visa available at the Seychelles Airport upon arrival, we can easily find a place to stay. We’re considering, just in case, to book a room under the pay-at-the-hotel option, canceling it once we know we’ll be able to fly to South Africa. If need be, we can book a week in a hotel and then go to work to find a holiday home to see us through the next almost three months.

Various feathered friends resting on a moored fishing boat.

Of course, we can’t book a holiday home now since doing so requires a partial or full payment upfront and we would lose our money. It’s easier to book a hotel, allowing us to pay upon arrival. This is a common practice available at Hotels.com on our site with no penalty for canceling.

Plan B gives us peace of mind. Seychelles is a beautiful country with the sea as the main focal point is described as follows at this site: is an archipelago island country consisting of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean at the eastern edge of the Somali Sea.

A boat tied up on the beach near the pier.

“Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP of any African nation. It is the first African country with an HDI score exceeding 0.800, and therefore the only country in the continent with a very high Human Development Index. It is one of only two countries in Africa classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank, the other being Mauritius. Despite its relative prosperity, poverty remains widespread as the country has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the world and markedly unequal wealth distribution, with the upper and ruling class commanding a vast proportion of the country’s wealth.”

A pelican proudly posing for a photo.

Of course, our intent is always to maintain a positive attitude and now, with this plan, we feel we can do so. Otherwise, we’d face a sense of panic at the airport in the middle of the night as happened on March 20, 2020. We don’t want to repeat that situation, under any circumstances.

So there it is folks, a back-up plan, a Plan B, a peace-of-mind maker, and a solution to a problem that may never transpire. We’ll see how it all rolls out in 39 days. Please stay tuned.

Stay healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2019:

While visiting family in the US, last year at this time, we didn’t often take photos. Subsequently, we posted photos from older posts as has been the case in our year-ago photos. While in Penguin, Tasmania in 2017 we took this photo on our way to the town of Ulverston. Tasmania never disappoints! For more, please click here.

Day #225 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Election Day fears?…Drinking wine??…

Tom, chipper as usual, during breakfast.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2016, sailing on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas while on a 33-night circumnavigation cruise of the Australian Continent See the link here.

No, we won’t get into politics here today or in the future, but we want to express our dedication to voting which we did by absentee ballot and pray for the safety of the citizens of the US regardless of the outcome. Although today is already November 3rd in India, we’re ahead of the US time-wise, and won’t see any results until tomorrow morning when it will be nighttime in the US.

This morning’s breakfast table in the Cascades dining room.

When looking up the date we’d select for today’s past photos, I giggled when I noticed it was on this date in 2016, that I consumed my first cocktail in many years, switching to wine the following day, while on the above-mentioned cruise. With free drinks as priority club members, I thought I’d see how it went after all these years.

I hadn’t had any alcohol in over 20 years, other than a few token accepted cocktails when a host put a glass of wine in my hand which I politely sipped on for the entire evening, never fully finishing it. I didn’t stop drinking due to any issues I had with alcohol other than suddenly after all those years of savoring good red wine, I suddenly lost a taste for it.

The sun si setting over the industrial area at the port of Brisbane.

Being a teetotaler never impacted the quality of a good time, nor did I think about it, although we served wine and other adult beverages to dinner guests as we entertained over the years. With Tom a lightweight drinker, literally never coming home from work (in our old lives) and having a drink, it was easy for me to continue on the path without giving it a thought.

In our old lives when guests arrived and we began “to pour,” he’d join in. He never made a fool of himself, nor did he ever have a hangover, surprising for not drinking very often. I could become hungover and suffer sleepless nights after two glasses of wine which I suppose may have been instrumental in my decision to quit, years ago.

Shared puzzle making where anyone can pick up where others left off.

But, on that cruise in 2016, hanging out with two other couples every evening at happy hour, I decided to try some red wine. It tasted good while I carefully monitored not drinking too much when once again, I could enjoy the flavor of a quality red wine. As the 33-night cruise continued, night after night, we joined the other two couples for happy hour, always enjoying lively conversation.

By the time the cruise ended, I’d reestablished my interest in red wine. But  I only did so during social engagements over the ongoing years of world travel. Of course, in Africa, that was frequently, when the majority of South African and visitors from other countries with whom we socialized, also enjoyed wine, beer, and cocktails at happy hour and during dinner. I rarely drank beer, although Tom enjoyed a beer from time to time.

Here again, we had no trouble getting in 10,000 steps a day on the FitBit when we often walked down these long hallways.

Generally, beer has too many carbs. But early on, while on tour in India in January and February, before lockdown, I’d have a beer instead of wine when the cost of a glass of wine was outrageous here due to taxes. One glass of wine with taxes, of average quality wine, could easily run US $18, INR 1337. It just wasn’t worth it to me then, and certainly wouldn’t be worth it to me now when alcohol is now being served in the hotel.

Imagine, if the two of us had two drinks at happy hour each evening, our added cost for a month would be an additional US $2160, INR 160573. With the costs of living in a hotel and meals, this makes no sense at all, even if we imbibed only a few days a week. We’re happy to wait until we get to South Africa and begin to socialize and dine out with our friends. Of course, we’ll proceed with caution after not having a drink for a year by the time we get out of here. Who knows when that will happen?

Freighter and tug boat in the bay.

After a totally gluten-free and zero carb dinner last night, I am feeling much better today. Hopefully, after yesterday’s story of how I was fed bread in my chicken patties without my knowledge, (please click here), going forward, I’m anticipating feeling better each day.

Tom awoke this morning and said, “What’s on the agenda today?” I laughed and said, “Gee, let me check our calendar!” Ha! Same old, same old. We’re fine.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today November 3, 2019:

On Celebrity Silhouette, cruising to the US, we shared the Chateaubriand for dinner for two but also ordered the lobster as the main course. That sure looks great now!! For more photos, please click here.

Day #217 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fireworks last night!…Will we ever cruise again?…

Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji a continuation of our past two posts from our visit to the Vuodomo Waterfalls. For more from this date, please click here.

Last night, while watching The Walking Dead, around 10:00 pm we heard a number of loud blasts. Jumping up, Tom looked out the window not expecting to see much from our poor view of an industrial/construction area. But, we were surprised when he saw a distant flash of fireworks.

Vuadomo Waterfall was larger than it appears in these photos.

Indian people, mostly Hindu, celebrate a number of holidays with fireworks. We’re a little surprised fireworks are allowed based on air pollution in India. But the devout Hindu citizens continue to incorporate the light show in celebrating a number of holidays.

Yesterday was Dussera, described as follows:

“Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival that signifies the victory of good over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor by Hindus across the world on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar.”

We didn’t see any other tourists walking to or from the falls.

Soon, on November 14, the five-day celebration of Dawali will commence which is one of the most substantial celebrations in the Hindu faith. At that time, we’ll share more information on this sacred celebration. We’ve been living in many countries throughout the world when these holidays have been celebrated and we certainly appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication exhibited by the Hindu devotees during these celebratory periods.

On another note, over the past week, both Tom and I have stumbled across numerous articles about the cruise industry and what to expect for the future. For us, our cruising days may be over when we consider the primary reason we enjoyed cruising so much was the opportunity to socialize.

An orchid growing in the rainforest.

Sure, we enjoyed the ambiance, seeing many ports of call, the festive activities. However, going forward everything will be different which literally eliminates our desire to continue to cruise during times of COVID-19. If and when and if this virus and the extreme precautions are eliminated, we will consider cruising once again.

Yesterday, the CDC issued this warning at this link:

“CDC typically posts travel health notices for countries and other international destinations, not transportation, such as ships. Because of the unprecedented nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 on cruise ships, the US government is advising US travelers to defer all cruise travel.”

The creek on the return walk.

Here is a list of some of the precautions cruise lines will strictly adhere to on future cruises from this site:

  • Passengers to be tested for COVID-19 between five days and 24 hours before sailing. Those testing positive would not be allowed to cruise.  OK, this makes sense.
  • Passengers to wear cloth face coverings or masks on ships in accordance with CDC recommendations. This would require passengers to be wearing masks at all times during the cruise. The thought of wearing a mask non-stop for one or two weeks or longer, other than in our cabin, is totally unappealing.
  • Cruise lines to only allow indoor excursions during port stops if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented. What about the cramped vans and buses transporting passengers from the ship to a point of interest? From what we’ve read so far, self-arranged tours will no longer be allowed, only those outrageously expensive tours offered through the ship will be possible. If a passenger goes off on their own, they won’t be allowed to return to the ship and will forfeit the balance of the cruise.
  • Cruise lines to modify onboard facilities so passengers can remain socially distanced in accordance with CDC recommendations (at least six feet separation). This includes during dining and during priority club free drink periods, which was our primary means of socializing.
  • Daily temperature checks for all passengers. Fine, we don’t mind this.
  • Tima and Rasnesh, long time friends, after many hikes with tourists to the waterfall.

As you can see, these requirements totally eliminate all of our reasons for cruising. Instead, we’ll continue to enjoy possible future holiday homes in locations we find desirable; on or near the ocean, and in cultural and wildlife-rich areas. Only time will tell when we can pick up where we left off, with the thought in mind that cruising may not be a part of our means of transportation from one part of the world to another or a means of meeting new people along the way. Disappointing, for sure.

Stay healthy.

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

There was no post one year ago on this date due to a poor WiFi signal on the ship.

Part 1…Musings over the peculiarity of life in a lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India…

Elephant seals cuddled together in Gyrtviken, South Georgia Island on our way to Antarctica.
See the link here.


Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today’s photos are from our post one year ago today. Please click here for more.
As inquiries as to our well-being flood our inboxes, we can’t help but feel humbled and blessed to experience the outpouring of love and concern from our family and readers/friends throughout the world.
Mr. & Mrs. Hornbill eating seeds off the veranda table. We weren’t able to put up the birdfeeder with monkeys nearby and placed the seeds on the table after they’d banged at the window with their beaks to remind us to feed them.  

Living in a hotel room which may prove to be for many more months to come, is rather peculiar especially under these trying circumstances. Fortunately, based on our years of attempting and often succeeding at being resilient and resourceful, these circumstances are not unfamiliar territory for us.


Of course, being entrenched in a pandemic is new for all of us, including the complicated mechanics of protecting ourselves from contracting the virus, even here in our somewhat pristine environment.

At this point, no new guests are allowed to check-in to the hotel. But, as India’s Prime Minister Modi and state officials have begun to lessen a number of lockdown restrictions, and domestic travel is reinstated, we expect this business-friendly hotel will start booking business travelers.
Willie loves making eye contact when I talk to him. But, since his eyes are far apart, he tended to look at me by tilting his head using one eye

From what we’ve observed thus far, it appears domestic travel will be instituted long before international travel which could leave us in a precarious position with guests from all over the country beginning an influx into our otherwise safe surroundings.


Will we need to start wearing masks and gloves to go to dinner or sit in the lobby while our room is being cleaned? Or will we escalate our protection and ask for room service and never leave the room, even during the period when the room is being cleaned?  The cleaners wear masks and gloves now. What added protection might they need?

Will staff and cooks still sleep here at night as they do now which provides us with an added layer of protection? Will our food be safe if they start returning to their homes at night when the lockdown potentially changes on May 3rd?
Suckling baby kudu and her mom.

All of this is up in the air right now. They don’t know the answers to these questions. nor do we. Our current safety from the virus is predicated by our lives in this hotel and until international flights re-open, not only here, but worldwide, we have nowhere else to go.


I freely admit I am considerably more concerned about getting the virus than Tom is. Then again, he tends to worry a lot less than I do under certain circumstances. He worries about the small things. I only worry about the big things.

If we were in a holiday home, it would be much easier in many ways. If we chose to keep ourselves in lockdown long term, we could make that decision easier by receiving food and supplies from online retailers. 
Sunset over the Crocodile River from the veranda at Ngwenya Lodge.

We could cook our meals and tend to task around the house and live a somewhat normal life while we waited for such time as we felt it was safe to venture outside, see friends and interact with others.


Here, although for the moment, it’s been safe, going forward is questionable. Once we can fly out of here, the situation at the airports will be frightening, filled with potentially infected individuals, who may not even know they are carrying the dreaded virus.

Blooming Bird of Paradise.

Still, we remain assured we made the right decision not to return to the US. With today’s number of cases in the US at 1,010,507 and 56,803 deaths compared to India’s 9,451 cases and 939 deaths, it feels safer to us here in a hotel than we’d be in the US.


As for our hope to return to South Africa, as of today with 4,973 cases and 90 deaths, we’d feel safer there as well. Of course, we realize all of these numbers could be inaccurate but its all we have to go by at this point.

A majestic waterbuck.

So, we wait. And, oddly, while we wait we are both OK, both sleeping well, both learning as much as we can, with neither of us exhibiting any signs of stress. We have hope, we have determination, and we have faith, all of which will see us through, however long it make take.


Be safe. Be strong. Be hopeful.

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2019:

Parade of elephants crossing the bone dry river before the rains. For more on this story, please click here.

Poll response from many of our readers…

Although this video isn’t relevant to the cruise photos below, this video was from rough seas as we sailed through the Chilean Fjords, in December, 2017. See that post here.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

White sand beaches on the island of Vanuatu in April 2017. See the post here.


Today’s photos are from a 24-night cruise on this date in 2017, on Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas from Sydney to Seattle, while visiting the islands of Vanuatu and Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. See the post here.


Here we go! I know many of you are anxious to hear the results of yesterday’s poll as to whether or not they are interested in COVID-19 news on our daily posts. And, the response was overwhelming.

These tropical island musicians and dancers greeted us in Noumea, New Caledonia.

It could take months to respond to all the wonderful email messages I received in the past 24-hours. I will work on responding to the messages in which readers wrote a message included with their yes or no responses. 


I will personally respond to several messages each day, but it could be quite a while until I get to you. Please know we are reading every message and taking your responses to heart.
Writing in the sand. Sweet.

Most readers simply wrote “yes” or “no” and to the best of my ability as they flooded my inbox, I ticked them off, keeping fairly accurate records. But, it was in the first hundred responses that a pattern came to light.


As it turned out, 55% said no, 40% said yes and about 5% said they wouldn’t mind one way or another. But, the consensus was clear in the “no” responses. 
The coral reef in the Isle of Pines was exquisite.

Many mentioned they read our posts to escape from the constant news on TV, podcasts, and online. Thus, our site is a respite from the bombardment of COVID-19 news, which can be discouraging and disheartening.


We understand and respect your opinions and will continue to post as we have in the past. Thus, our response going forward will be like most of you requested; information about our current situation, whether it’s during this period of the lockdown or once we’re on the move again when we can continue with our world travels.

View toward our tender boats waiting at the pier to return us to the ship.

Thank you to all who have responded. Having compiled a great sampling of our readers, it is no longer necessary to respond to the yes or no inquiry. However, please feel free to write at any time and I will respond as quickly as possible.


As primarily a travel site, of course, we’ll continue to post information on our (and your) ability to travel going forward. Many of our readers and friends have been communicating with us by email, sending data back and forth. We’ll continue with this communication.
Me, at the beach in the Isle of Pines.

Thanks to many of you who’ve mentioned they don’t mind seeing our previously posted photos again. As you are all aware, new photos are not an option at this point.

Some readers were concerned we would start getting “political” here. We will not. Although a few of our comments may have led some to believe we’re espousing a particular political viewpoint. That is not our intention. In the future, we will make a more concerted effort to keep such inferences in check.

Tom on the beach in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.

As for what’s happening today… Like most of you, not much! Other than our communication with all of you and family and friends, our daily lives are relatively repetitious. 


We spend part of each day researching future travel plans and attempting to discover when airports will be re-opening, enabling us to leave India. With little hope for South Africa allowing incoming international flights over the next several months, we’re trying to find other countries that will be opening their borders, once the airport re-opens in Mumbai. So far, no luck.
The pier where we waited to reboard the tenders to return to the ship.

If we can find an appropriate country that will allow us to enter, which is a reasonable distance to Africa, we’ll wait it out there. Perhaps, a tropical island? Looking at today’s photos made us think how nice it might be for some sun and sand!


Keep the faith!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 27, 2019:
There was no post one year ago today, due to a power outage lasting throughout the day.

Third cruise in and around Japan…10 days and counting…

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For more photos, please click here.

Saturday was yet another fun day and evening. Around 4:00 pm we grilled New York steaks on the grill at Colleen’s home. I’d brought a salad and broiled the butterflied garlic shrimp under the broiler in her oven.


Colleen made potatoes, gravy, and garlic bread, and a fantastic dinner was enjoyed by all, sitting inside at two tables for the eight of us, away from bees on the patio.


After dinner and cleanup, we started yet another round of Buck Euchre but this time we set up two tables and most of us played for hours. There was endless laughter, teasing, and banter among all of us. 


By 9:30 I was fading and headed back to our place to unwind and relax. Tom joined me around 11:00 pm and by midnight we were fast asleep. This morning, was relatively uneventful. I prepped everything for tonight’s dinner which we’ll have some time during the football games.


By 1:00 pm Tom was settled in front of the TV to begin watching the NFL football playoffs. With little interest in teams other than the Minnesota Vikings, who now are out of the running, I kept busy doing laundry and other household chores.


Today is a good day for me to conduct research for our future travels. As we’ve lined up these three cruises in Japan, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific it gives us a point from which to backtrack for locations that appeal to us prior to the cruises in 2022.

This week will be busy. Tomorrow evening I meet with friend/reader Staci in Mesa for dinner. On Thursday, all the family is driving an hour to Tom’s niece (Mary and Eugene’s daughter) Laurie and her husband Craig’s home in Goodyear, Arizona where we’ll all spend the day.


No doubt, in between there will be more “happy hours” celebrations in the neighborhood as we wind down our time in Apache Junction. And, before we know it, we’ll be completing our packing to be on our way to India.


Here is the information on this third and final cruise in and around Japan. We’ll be back with more later.

12 nights departing April 24, 2022, on
Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice

Brochure Inside $1,988
Our Inside $784
You Save 61%
Brochure Oceanview $2,248
Our Oceanview $914
You Save 59%

Brochure Balcony $2,548
Our Balcony $1,064
You Save 58%
Brochure Suite $6,848
Our Suite $3,274
You Save 52%






Date Port Arrive Depart
Sunday, April 24 Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan 7:00pm

Monday, April 25 At Sea

Tuesday, April 26 Hakodate, Japan 7:00am 4:00pm

Wednesday, April 27 At Sea

Thursday, April 28 At Sea

Friday, April 29 Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia 8:00am 7:00pm

Saturday, April 30 Cross International Dateline (Cruising)

Sunday, May 1 At Sea

Monday, May 2 At Sea

Tuesday, May 3 At Sea

Wednesday, May 4 At Sea

Thursday, May 5 At Sea

Friday, May 6 Vancouver, BC, Canada 7:00am 



It’s blissfully warm here today, in the 70s! It’s about time it warmed up!


Carpe diem!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2019:

A rhino beetle we found on the veranda on Thursday.  They are harmless to humans and don’t bite. They have a horn in the center of their foreheads comparable to a rhino. Thus the name “rhino” beetle. For more please click here.