Our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, are enjoying their nine month world cruise…Would we do that?…

May be an image of map and text

When our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met on a cruise in 2017 sailing from Sydney to Seattle, came to visit us while we were staying in The Villages in Florida, they were excited to share their enthusiasm about booking Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas Ultimate World Cruise.

While we were in Florida last summer, Lea Ann and Chuck visited us. It was wonderful to see them and hear about their upcoming world cruise.

Our mouths were agape when we heard they’d decided to embark on the nine-month cruise. We asked them endless questions while wondering if we’d ever want to commit to such an extended period on a cruise ship.

Although we revel in their enthusiasm, after they left, we talked, and both agreed we’d never be interested in such a long cruise. Nine months is a huge commitment, and for the following reasons, we wouldn’t be interested now or in the future:

  1. Cruising for so long could easily diminish our enthusiasm for cruising in the future. We love the anticipation of booking a cruise and the days and months before sailing when the excitement is at the forefront of our minds. For us, it would take away the mystery and magic of cruising.
  2. Living in such tight quarters for so long would not be easy for us. No, we don’t always use all the space available in a holiday home, usually only spending time in the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. But, being able to move around with ease and enjoying spaciousness is a huge part of our enjoyment. Cruise cabin space, even the balcony we always book, is limited and confining.
  3. Many of the ports world cruises visit are ports we’ve visited in the past. After all, we’ve been on 33 cruises, most with new and unfamiliar ports of call, many of which we wouldn’t be interested in visiting again.
  4. The food can become tedious and repetitious, besides often being fattening and unhealthy.
  5. The risk of getting sick when a captive audience for such an extended period is an issue for us. On at least half of our cruises, at least one of us, if not both, picked up a cold or virus, many lingering for weeks. Now, with COVID-19 and all its variants, we’d hesitate to embark on such a large ship for so many months. Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 2476 plus 832 crew, is a breeding ground for many illnesses, especially when new passengers embark for the next leg of the journey at some ports, disembarking at the end of that leg. Plus, passengers can pick up an illness when they get off the ship for activities at various ports of call. When we were on the small boat in August 2023, Azamara Journey, with only a capacity of 702 passengers and a crew of 408, neither of us became ill.
  6. Cost: One would pay well over $117,599 (per person) for a balcony cabin. We wouldn’t be interested in an interior cabin with no windows, and those prices start at $59,900 (per person). Based on the above five points, it wouldn’t be worth paying such a sum for a long-term cruise.

Here’s an article from the New York Post about the cruise Lea Ann and Chuck are on right now, focusing on how many Gen Z passengers are participating:

“It’s been three years, and Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise has finally set sail.

The epic nine-month-long holiday is a first-of-its-kind for the cruise liner, and they’re not surprised it’s gone viral on TikTok despite having hit the shores just over a week ago. (RelatedBest cruise lines review).

“Many guests booked their tickets over two to three years ago during the pandemic, and we are thrilled to be hosting a range of guests from young solo travelers to couples and families,” Dave Humphreys, director of sales at Royal Caribbean International AUNZ, told news.com.au.

“We have an impressive number of Gen Z and millennial cruisers, with a significant number of guests between the ages of 18-30 joining us on various legs of this cruise.”

As the name suggests, it’s a pretty ‘ultimate’ experience, with the cruise traveling to more than 60 countries and 11 world wonders in 274 days.

The cruise is broken into four segments — Ultimate Americas Cruise, Ultimate Asia Pacific Cruise, Ultimate Middle East & Med Cruise, and Ultimate Europe & Beyond Cruise.

Depending on the destination and room you choose, prices can vary from $19,895 to $37,268 (per person)

But, if you want to do nine months, the price tag is much heftier. The cheapest is $88,000 for an interior stateroom and up to $1.2 million per person for a Royal Suite.

“Each guest who has booked the Ultimate World Cruise Package received business class airfare, premium transportation, and a pre-cruise hotel in their package up to $5892 per person,” Mr Humphreys said.

“The business class airfare applies to specific getaway cities. The package includes a beverage package, laundry services, inclusive gratuities, and a VOOM Surf and Stream package.”

TikTok has become inundated with passengers sharing their experiences, from the meals they’re eating, restaurants they’re visiting, and gym classes to glimpses of what their rooms look like and the entertainment and performances they’re attending.

“I am LIVING for your videos. Please, pretty, please don’t stop. Greedily. I will beg you to post more,” one viewer commented on a passenger’s ‘sea day in my life’ clip.

Mr. Humpreys said they also can’t wait to join some of these guests virtually along with the wider TikTok community.

“There will be 27,000 passengers on the various legs, of which over 600 are sailing for the full nine months,” he told news.com.au.

“We have almost 2,000 Australians joining us along the way, including 30 Aussies doing the full nine-month world cruise.”

He said guests were offered the flexibility to book one or more of the four expedition packages.

Mr. Humphreys described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience where guests can traverse the globe in one incredible journey.”It’s going to be epic.”

It’s fascinating to read about this and see Lea Ann and Chuck’s blog, which may be found here. We continue to see their updates and the sheer joy they are experiencing on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 3, 2014:

Louise suggested we put out some yogurt at night for the nocturnal bush babies. We placed a small bowl in a hanging wood birdhouse near a tree. Unfortunately, we were distracted yesterday morning and forgot to remove the little plastic bowl of yogurt. Going inside to get beverages, we returned to find these Vervet Monkeys lapping up the yogurt with the little bowl in hand. Tom scared them off (they can be destructive), and they dropped the bowl and ran off. For more photos, please click here.

Flying away tonight…Can’t wait to get down to sea level…Final photos from Galapagos Islands…

Blue-footed booby on a walk, although they are excellent flyers.

Note: Our naturalist, Orlando, took today’s photos, which he sent me daily via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando!

Shockingly, I haven’t suffered with Afib while we’ve spent five days total at an altitude of 9350″, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly since we arrived in Quito on October 11, 12 days ago. During the five nights we’ve spent at the JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador, we’ve both felt the effects of the altitude in many ways, more for me than for Tom.

Tom gets out of breath during exertion, and my heart races when I walk or move about the hotel room. Fortunately, once I rest, it goes back down to normal. However, when we got off the boat on Saturday, my heart rate hovered between 85 and 100 all night, high for me. Last night, for the first time in 12 nights, we both slept well.

Salted lagoon, Floreana Island.

For the first of the five nights in Quito, my heart rate was normal, which allowed me to sleep. My Fitbit says I slept for a much-needed eight hours. But now, at noon, almost two full days since we returned from the boat and its frequent seasickness, I must admit, I am looking forward to getting down to sea level and situated in our new holiday home on the sea.

The smell of the fresh ocean air and the use of the infinity pool will be such a welcome relief which I hope to do daily, weather permitting, for exercising my legs, hoping for some improvement in walking. All of my whining is related to having had open heart surgery in 2019 and the lingering effects that have impacted my (our) lifestyle to a great degree. If I walk too much, I get Afib. If I don’t walk enough, you know what I mean.

Gorgeous scenery at Floreana Island, a millions-of-years-old volcano.

I apologize for whining. Once we get settled, I will be a new person. In 24 hours, we will go to Mirador San Jose, Manabi Province in Ecuador, a gated community with a beautiful property. Many photos will follow. It will be delightful to grocery shop at the nearby supermarket (supermercado) after we’ve seen how much space there is in the refrigerator and freezer.

Often, refrigerators in holiday homes are small. But, if so, we will manage and simply shop more frequently—no big deal. Also, there is often a lack of storage space for non-perishable food items, but here again, we’ll make do. We’ve hired a three-hour cleaning person every Tuesday morning at 8:00 for $20 per week. In the US a year ago, we paid $25 an hour, as we did when we had the cleaner once a month when we stayed in The Villages in Florida three months ago.

 A Galapagos flycatcher. Adorable.

Gee, I haven’t cooked a meal since then, and I look forward to making a special home-cooked meal at least five nights a week after we investigate to determine if dining out is a good option in that area. If so, we’ll dine out every Friday and Saturday night, which might allow us to socialize with locals and tourists.

It’s funny how I remember several Spanish words we learned when we spent four months in Costa Rica. I can easily read a menu and road signs and understand short sentences. I can’t necessarily speak it well in sentences, but with the help of Google Translate on my phone, we’ll be fine.

Speaking of my phone, I couldn’t get into our Google Fi account to access WiFi once we left the hotel after using their WiFi for five days, which was very good. I tried everything I could to get it to work, to no avail. I had no choice but to call Google Fi, which quickly responded, but when we were halfway through the troubleshooting process, the call dropped. I called back and again, and a rep responded quickly.

A wave albatross flying back to Espanola Island, the oldest island in The Galapagos.

We resolved the issue quickly when I had to select an arbitrary network Google Fi uses in Ecuador, Claro. I’d never have known this if I hadn’t called. Good thing I called, or we’d had a nightmare on our hands tonight when driving in the dark to the hotel and tomorrow, driving to the house without the ability to use Maps. Any time we’ve tried to use “Maps” in many countries without being able to connect to Google Fi,  depending on satellite conditions, we often hear “her’ say, “Make a U-turn,” over and over again. This drives us crazy.

Well, enough about all of that. In less than seven hours, we’ll be on the plane, pressurized for easy breathing, and God willing, all will be well. It’s only a 50-minute flight. We’ll most likely miss dinner again tonight since last night, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to the restaurant and couldn’t find anything on the room service menu. It will be close to 10 00 pm by the time we get to the hotel in Manta. So, well miss two dinners, two nights in a row. That’s no big deal, either.

After grocery shopping and unpacking a bit tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be back with a new post with some photos of our new home. Stay tuned for more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 23, 2013:

A bushbaby with a banana was next to us last night as we dined outdoors at the Leopard Beach Resort in Diani Beach, Kenya. A small platform was set up for the bushbabies, loaded with bananas to encourage them to visit the guests while dining. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back in Quito…Good to be back on land, but again we’re high in altitude…Whew!…Wrapping up The Galapagos photos…

Giant tortoises at Isabela Island Breeding Center.

Note: our naturalist, Orlando, took all of today’s photos, which he sent to me each day via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando, for thinking of me!

The two-hour flight from Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, was almost a full-day journey. We disembarked the ship at 11:30 am and didn’t arrive at the JW Marriott Hotel in Quito until after 5:30 pm. We collected our stored luggage from the bellman and headed to a different room than we’d had over a week ago when we stayed here two nights before the cruise.

Tom was looking into the mailbox at Post Office Bay, where he found a postcard left by a visitor from South Africa, which he took, and we’ll ensure they receive it once we return to Marloth Park.

The only flight we could get to Manta was on Monday, so this time, we’ll spend another two nights at this high altitude. So far today, 18 hours after our arrival, we’re holding up OK in the 9350′ altitude. Our legs feel like lead when we walk, and my heart rate is 10 to 15 beats faster per minute than at sea level. The heart compensates for lack of oxygen at high elevations, and thus, one’s heart rate may increase until adapted two to three days after arrival. We will only be here for two days and won’t be adapted by then.

Tortoise heading out to sea.

But, in one way, the altitude right now is more tolerable than the seasickness we suffered on the ship, a 98′ long catamaran with eight passenger cabins for 16 guests. Feeling nauseous is worse than feeling out of breath and tired. I look forward to returning to sea level by tomorrow night after our 50-minute flight to Manta, leaving Quito at 7:25 pm.

Another green tortoise was heading out to sea.

Once in our room, we unpacked what we needed for the night and this morning and didn’t bother to unpack anything more. We never unpacked while on the cruise, making packing much easier when it was time to go, as will be the case here. When we were in lockdown in India in the Marriott Hotel for ten months, we never unpacked there either. We pulled out the three outfits we wore repeatedly and never touched anything.

A sea lion at the beach.

While staying in Nevada and Minnesota in the past few months, we never unpacked in either hotel. With 11 years of travel experience, we’ve gotten pretty good at “living out of a suitcase.” However, when we arrive in Ecuador for 79 days, we’ll unpack and wash everything since we’ll have a washer and a dryer. How unusual!

Sea turtles mating.

After we got situated in our room, we rested for a few minutes, never napping. At 7:30, we headed downstairs for dinner in the Botanica Restaurant, which cost was included in our cruise, along with this morning’s and tomorrow morning’s breakfast. Our hotel for the two nights was also included. But we’re on our own for dinner tonight.

A blue heron.

Most likely, after having a big breakfast, Tom won’t be hungry by dinner, so we’ll head down to Fogo De Chao, where, once again, I’ll have their salad bar with a vast array of foods I can eat. There’s no way I could eat the classic meats served tableside that they are known for. It’s just too much food.

A blue-footed booby and an iguana.

We have no plans for the next day and a half. We’ll have to sit in the lobby tomorrow afternoon when checkout is noon. But it’s more comfortable to sit in the lobby than get comfortable in the room. We could get a late checkout as VIP members with Expedia on our site here. But those few extra hours in the room make no difference to us.

Hood or espanola mockingbird, the largest on the island.

In 48 hours, we’ll be at our holiday home in Mirador, San Jose. I found a nearby market online, so we can bring our bags into the house and head to the market to shop. That’s quite fun for us since we love being able to check out local foods befitting our way of eating. Plus, we’ll need to stock up on bottled water since the tap water in Ecuador is not potable.

Floreana daisy.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Galapagos photos and Tom’s adventures. No doubt it would have been a lot more fun for him if we’d been able to experience the excursions together. In the future, we’ll keep this new adaptation in mind when we are booking plans for the future.

A yellow warbler.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 22, 2013:

Due to a WiFi issue, we cannot post a photo from ten years ago. For the story, please click here.

Day 6…Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…Charles Darwin’s influence on The Galapagos Islands…A reader writes, asking a valid question…

Charles Darwin.

In yesterday’s post, we mentioned we’d be sharing information about Charles Darwin and his impact on The Galapagos Islands, emblazoned in the public’s minds for past and future generations. After reviewing the description of his life from many sources, I found this source to be most informative. I have edited it in part to fit the size and nature of our posts.

“Charles Darwin: History’s most famous biologist…

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) transformed the way we understand the natural world with ideas that, in his day, were nothing short of revolutionary. He and his fellow pioneers in the field of biology gave us insight into the fantastic diversity of life on Earth and its origins, including our own as a species.

Data has revealed that they can dive down to 200 meters and hold their breath for more than 20 minutes. Their natural predators are sharks and orcas; whales very rarely fish sea lions in the Galapagos. The biggest colony of sea lions in the archipelago is in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and San Cristobal.

Charles Darwin is celebrated as one of the greatest British scientists who ever lived, but in his time, his radical theories brought him into conflict with members of the Church of England.

Young Charles Darwin

Born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Darwin was fascinated by the natural world from a young age. Growing up, he was an avid reader of nature books and devoted his spare time to exploring the fields and woodlands around his home, collecting plants and insects. In 1825 Darwin enrolled in medical school at the University of Edinburgh, where he witnessed surgery on a child.

Seals and sea lions are marine mammals called ‘pinnipeds’ that differ in physical characteristics and adaptations. Sea lions (left) are brown, bark loudly, “walk” on land using their large flippers, and have visible ear flaps. Seals have small flippers, wriggle on their bellies on land, and lack visible ear flaps.

Surgeries at the time would have been carried out without the use of anesthetic or antiseptics, and fatalities were common. Watching this procedure left Darwin so traumatized that he gave up his studies without completing the course.

During his time in Edinburgh, Darwin also paid for lessons in taxidermy from John Edmonstone, a former enslaved man from Guyana. The skills Edmonstone taught Darwin became crucial just a few years further into his career. After his time in Scotland, Darwin went to Cambridge University to study theology.

These sea lions have gone without many predators because of their isolated location. The only predators they have are sharks, killer whales, and dogs. So, like most Galapagos animals, they have no reason to fear people.

The voyage of HMS Beagle

In no rush to take holy orders in 1831, Darwin accepted an offer to embark on a five-year voyage aboard HMS Beagle. One of his Cambridge professors recommended him for the role of naturalist and companion to the ship’s captain, Robert FitzRoy.The journey would change both his life and the trajectory of Western scientific thinking.

Most other marine mammals in the Galapagos cannot be considered residents because they are migratory. There are only two species of seals (including the Galapagos sea lion), two whales, and two dolphins that are true Galapagos residents.

Darwin explored remote regions and marveled at a world so different from the one he knew. He encountered birds with bright blue feet, sharks with T-shaped heads, and giant tortoises. Darwin collected plants, animals, and fossils on his travels and took copious field notes. These collections and records provided the evidence he needed to develop his remarkable theory.

The Galápagos mockingbird (Mimus parvulus) is a species of bird in the family Mimidae. It is endemic to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. This bird had no fear of Tom, standing quite close to him.

Darwin returned to England in 1836. A highly methodical scholar, constantly collecting and observing, he spent many years comparing and analyzing specimens before finally declaring that evolution occurs by a process of natural selection.

What is the theory of natural selection?

To this day, the theory of evolution by natural selection is accepted by the scientific community as the best evidence-based explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on Earth. The theory proposes that the ‘fittest’ individual organisms – those with the characteristics best suited to their environment – are more likely to survive and reproduce. They pass on these desirable characteristics to their offspring.

There were many other boats in the area.

Gradually, these features may become more common in a population, so species change over time. If the changes are great enough, they could produce a new species altogether. On his travels, Darwin had collected finches from many of the Galápagos Islands – off the coast of Ecuador – which helped him to formulate his idea.

The waved albatross, also known as The Galapagos albatross, is one of three species of the family Diomedeidae that occur in the tropics. When they forage, they follow a straight path to a single site off the coast of Peru, about 1,000 km to the east.

Some of these finches had stout beaks for eating seeds, and others were insect specialists. But Darwin realized that they were all descendants of a single ancestor. As they dispersed to different islands, the birds adapted to eat the various foods available. Natural selection has produced 13 different species of finch.

Darwin’s pigeons

From his travels on HMS Beagle, Darwin suspected that the environment might naturally manipulate species, causing them to change over time – but he couldn’t find a means to explore this effectively in the wild. Experimenting with artificial selection in pigeons gave him a way to study how far a species could change. By artificially selecting features – crossing birds with particular characteristics to generate different offspring – he gathered valuable evidence for evolution by natural selection.

These sea lions may look like the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) but are different. They are smaller and breed primarily on the Galapagos Islands.

To illustrate his theory, Darwin bred the birds to have exaggerated features. The similarity between artificial selection and natural selection is at the heart of his explanation of evolution in his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species. After completing his experiments, he gave all 120 of his pigeon specimens to the Museum. They are currently part of our bird collections kept at Tring, Hertfordshire. 

The adult males are larger than the females. When dry, they are usually dark brown or varying shades of gray. The adult males have a pronounced bump on their foreheads. Adult females are light brown or tan with a smaller forehead. All sea lion pups are dark brown when born, and as they mature, they change to light brown or tan. Young Galapagos sea lions have a nearly flat head.

A shared discovery

Darwin knew his radical ideas would be met with stiff opposition. Even after 20 years of research, he worried about how his theory of evolution would be received as it challenged widely held religious beliefs of the time. 

He delayed publishing on the topic for a great number of years while he assembled a mountain of evidence. Darwin volunteered to send Wallace’s ideas to a journal for immediate publication when he learned that the young naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had developed similar ideas.

While larger animals in the Galapagos (like cows, goats, and horses) exist, sea lions are the largest endemic land animal. These islands are 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from the mainland – that’s a long swim for a land animal.

On advice from friends, the two scientists organized a joint announcement. Their theory of evolution by natural selection was presented at the Linnean Society in London. Both had studied the natural world extensively and made several observations critical to the development of the theory. The following year, Darwin published the contentious but now-celebrated book, ‘On the Origin of Species.’

The American Oystercatcher is found in the intertidal zone of most Galapagos Islands. Their population is small; around 400 birds live in the archipelago.

On the Origin of Species

Published in 1859, On the Origin of Species provoked outrage from some members of the Church of England as it implicitly contradicted the belief in divine creation. Despite accusations of blasphemy, the book quickly became a bestseller.

Great apes

The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex – which Darwin published in 1871 – fuelled even greater debate as it suggested that humans descended from apes. The Bishop of Oxford famously asked Thomas Huxley, one of Darwin’s most enthusiastic supporters, whether it was through his grandfather or grandmother that he claimed descent from a monkey.

This is something many people want to experience when they visit the Galapagos, and it’s definitely a thrill. The young pups stay in shallow waters until they are around five months old. During that time, they don’t even fish for themselves. They have no reason to be territorial or aggressive. Even at 12 to 24 months, they are only partially independent; they will continue to nurse until their mother has another pup. And even then, she may continue to nurse the older pup. They don’t mature until they are around 4 to 5 years old.

Despite the attacks, Darwin’s conviction in the scientific explanation that best fits the available evidence remained unshaken. He was keen for his ideas to reach as many people as possible and for his books to be read in many different languages. Part of his success has been attributed to his conversational and approachable writing style.

Since Galapagos sea lions don’t migrate outside the archipelago, their breeding season isn’t dependent on migration patterns. And while their breeding season may vary from year to year, it normally lasts 16 to 40 weeks between the months of May through January. For that reason, you might see pups throughout the year.

The Origin of Species was so influential that within a year, it had been published in German. In Darwin’s lifetime, his book was translated into German, Danish, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish. Our Library has 478 editions of On the Origin of Species in 38 languages and in Braille.

Darwin and the Tree of Life

Charles Darwin used the concept of a Tree of Life in the context of the theory of evolution to illustrate that all species on Earth are related and evolved from a common ancestor.

Darwin”s theory of the Tree of Life. Darwin’s first sketch of the Tree of Life, was found in one of his notebooks from 1837. Image reproduced with kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

The tips of the branches show the species that are still alive today. The tree also shows those that are now extinct. Darwin explained:

‘From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only in a fossil state.’

Orders, families, and genera are all groups that can be used to classify organisms. The lines on the tree show evolutionary relationships between species. For example, a recent version of the Tree of Life would show a line between some types of dinosaurs and the earliest birds, as scientists reason that birds evolved from a particular lineage of dinosaurs.

This means that closely related species are found close together, stemming from the same branch. For example, humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans are all great apes, so they all belong to the same branch of the tree of life.

Darwin’s legacy

Although Darwin’s theory of evolution has been modified over time, it remains fundamental to the study of the natural world. Darwin changed not only how we see all organisms but also how we see ourselves.”

 Darwin was, without a doubt, a pioneer in his time. Some may not believe the extent of his theory, but if you are interested in learning more, you can read his book and many other publications written about his life and theory. How exciting for us to be in this magical place in our lives.
We are grateful for this experience, however, limited it may be for me right now since I am learning so much from the daily talks by the two naturalists, Juan Carlos and Orlando, the wonderful photos Tom is taking on each excursion, and my research in the process of it all. I am not disappointed at all.
Now, on to another topic…Last night, I received a private email from a reader (one of many we receive each day) whose name I won’t disclose to protect his privacy that read as follows:


I have been reading your blog for years and was sorry to read you could not accompany Tom on the excursions. I would appreciate it, and I believe many of your readers would too if you could describe in detail with pictures the environment and obstacles one might encounter on these types of excursions. I have a bad knee and can not walk long distances so I would like to know the details. Things include getting in and out of the zodiacs, terrain encountered, wet/dry conditions, etc.  

Thank you so much, and I wish you continued enjoyment in your travels.”
I wish we had thought of taking photos of the walking and hiking environment sooner. Unfortunately, we were so focused on the wildlife and scenery that we didn’t center our attention on the terrain specifically. However, I borrowed the following three photos from other passengers, as shown below.
Shipmates Karin and Stephen took this photo of the rocks to navigate at another location.
Tom says, “There are times when paths consist of small pebbles and other times when there are large lava rocks and boulders that are hard to navigate. Sometimes, it’s just a walk on a smooth sandy beach.”
A photo of a lot easier trail shipmates Karin and Stephen took on a walk.
Each evening, either of the two naturalists at a nightly briefing session describes in detail the excursion for the next day, including some photos of the terrain and any potential walking hazards. Many of the walks were shorter, but some were as long as 1½ hours. At times, there were options to embark on the long or short walk, which could be beneficial in your case.
It’s hard for us to determine if you’d be able to tackle these excursions based on the severity of your knee condition. Even getting on and off the panga boat (the Zodiac boat) was too difficult for me to participate in any of the activities. The boat ride may be smooth or choppy, during which one has to use one’s legs to support oneself since there are no specific seats on these boats. One must use their legs to hold themselves up while sitting on the inflated rubber sides of the boat.
Shipmate John took this photo of the rocks the passengers have to navigate on an excursion. It’s not too easy for those with walking disabilities.
We probably wouldn’t have booked this cruise if we knew how difficult these excursions would be based on my unsteadiness. However, as it turns out, we made the best of it and have enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. Only you can decide if this would work for you.
That’s it for today, folks.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 19, 2013:

Out to dinner in Diani Beach, Kenya, this adorable guy, a part-time resort resident belonging to one of the windsurfing trainers, hung around with us during our dinner, looking for morsels. Once we gave him several bites and he saw our plates were clean, he moved over to the table of other diners with full plates. For more photos, please click here.

Day 5, Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…A funny post office…

In Hawaii, we saw blue-footed boobies, as well, but with darker blue feet.
  • Galapagos Facts: 
  • “Hunted as food by pirates, whalers, and traders from the 17th through the 19th centuries, between 100,000 and 200,000 Galápagos tortoises are estimated to have been killed off. Tortoises were also hunted for their oil, which was used to power lamps.”
  • Fray Tomás de Berlanga – The world first heard about Galapagos more than 470 years ago. The Dominican friar, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, was the official discoverer, arriving on March 10, 1535. Currents inadvertently drove Fray Tomás towards Galapagos after he had set out from Panama on his way to Peru.”
An endearing phenomenon in The Galapagos at Post Office Bay is described in the text below.

“This Is the World’s Most Unusual Post Office

On a remote island in the Galápagos, tourists become mail carriers.

The Galápagos are better known for their sea lions and penguins than postal service. But the island of Floreana operates a unique stampless system of sending mail from one of the world’s most diverse, uninhabited areas.

Blue-footed boobies atop the lava rock formations.

Long before ecotourists annexed the remote islands off Ecuador’s coast, it was a pit stop for 18th-century whalers traversing the oceans. After months or even years on the job, the homesick seamen came up with an ingenious system of getting letters to their families. They erected a barrel on Floreana Island and left their mail for sailors on passing ships to deliver.

More endemic cacti on Floreana Island. Notice the little tubes.
Tom didn’t go kayaking without me but enjoyed himself nonetheless.

The first mention of the post office appears in the Journal of a Cruise, Captain David Porter’s account of his 1813 trip to the Galápagos, according to a timeline crafted by John Woram, author of Charles Darwin Slept Here. In his book, Porter recalls a crew member returning with papers “taken from a box which he found nailed to a pot, over which was a black sign, on which was painted Hathaway’s Postoffice.”

A tortoise making her way to the sea.
Was she considering digging a hole to bury her eggs?

Twenty-five years later, another explorer documented the practice of bottling notes and leaving them to be taken back to America by fishing vessels. Those same fishermen “would never fail, before their departure, to touch at this island to take on a supply of tortoises.” The consumption of giant sea tortoises during this period is one of the reasons why Charles Darwin found none left on Floreana Island when he arrived in 1835.

Another view of the post office.

This unconventional system has persisted into the 21st century. Today, thousands of letters pass through Post Office Bay. Tour groups often stop at the island to explore the ancient lava caves and to pick up and drop off postcards.

A cameraman is in the process of making a documentary about The Galapagos Islands.

The simple wooden barrel is covered in notes and keepsakes from travelers passing through in what resembles a glorified birdhouse. The origins of the first barrel are opaque, but it may have come from a crew in the 1890s. Since then, the barrel has been replaced by visiting vessels from around the world. Over the years, driftwood bearing painted names and dates has been piled around the site to commemorate long-ago letter deliveries.

These two are red-billed tropic birds, commonly seen in The Galapagos. The red-billed tropic bird is one of three closely related species of seabirds of tropical oceans. Superficially resembling a tern in appearance, it has mostly white plumage with some black markings on the wings and back, a black mask, and, as its common name suggests, a red bill.

After visitors sift through the mail and collect letters going to a home near their final destination, they can mail or, preferably, hand-deliver letters to the recipients. Tour guides are known to say that slapping a stamp on the letter and dropping it in a mailbox is cheating—though the 18th-century whalers likely wouldn’t object to any method that saw their letters delivered.”

Swallowtail seagulls are beautiful nocturnal birds.

Thus, when Tom rifled through the postcards waiting to be picked up and delivered, he found one from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He took the card, and we plan to mail it to the recipient when we get to Marloth Park, including a card with our information in case people who receive it would like to chat. That will be fun! We’ll report the results here at the time.

A seal lion snoozing on the rocks.
Playful sea lions.

Although I haven’t been on one excursion since we started this cruise, I am having a good time. Each time the 15 passengers, including Tom, return to the boar from the two to three excursions daily, I am thrilled to see them and love hearing their adventures and stories.

An unusual cactus formation.

And, of course, Tom is bursting with enthusiasm each time over what he’s seen and taken photos of for me to see and share. There are only so many animals on these unique islands, and repetition is unavoidable, but each shot holds its intrigue and interest, particularly to the animal love that I am.

Swooning sea lion.

Once they go out again for a few hours, I find myself totally at ease, enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat and the visits from any of the 12 staff members who stop to chat and say hello. One of the two naturalists, Orlando, has been sending his unique photos of the day to my WhatsApp account, which I will share in one fell swoop toward the end of the cruise. There’s certainly no shortage of photos around here.

Yesterday’s lunch of seabass and baked chicken, avocado, asparagus, and tomatoes. Note the photo of the fantastic seviche below.
Not necessarily a fan of seviche; this cold dish made by Chef Jonathan was the best. Tom didn’t like it, so I ate both of ours. What a treat!

Today, Wednesday is the halfway point of this cruise, and it will end on Saturday when we fly back to Quito for two more days and one more night. But we have so much to look forward to our upcoming stay in Mirador San Jose Province, Manabi, Ecuador, until January 8, 2024.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of Charles Darwin and his worldwide influence on The Galapagos Islands, one of the planet’s most exciting and wildlife-rich spots.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 18, 2013:

The cockpit of the small plane, flown by Edwin, will return us to the Maasai Mara. For more photos, please click here.

Day 4…Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…The stunning photos continue…

Tom was sitting on a bench with all these massive iguanas in front of him. They didn’t seem to mind a bit.

The 14 passengers on this boat, plus Tom, are having a fantastic time going to the islands two or three times a day to explore this incredible location’s wildlife and unique areas. Each time they return to the ship, they have big smiles on their faces, their eyes twinkling with sheer wonder over the treasures they’ve beheld on this last expedition.

Such unusual creatures.
While walking along this patch, Tom had to walk around the iguanas to avoid disturbing them.
A dirt road in a small village on Isla Isabela Island.

I am not sad that I am unable to join them. It’s utterly delightful to see Tom grinning from ear to ear along with his boat-mates over the exquisite sightings they’ve had along the way on each outing. Oddly, I am not jealous but feel a powerful sense of joy in seeing them have such a good time in God’s Wonderland in the beautiful country of Ecuador.

A little restaurant along the dirt boulevard. It would be fun to eat there. Some of the passengers ate there, but after being served three big meals a day on the boat, Tom had no interest in eating again.
José de Villamil, or José Villamil, was born in New Orleans when Louisiana was a colony of Spain. He was one of the fathers of the independence of Ecuador, the founder of its navy, “conqueror” and first Governor of the Galápagos Islands, and Minister of Foreign Relations.
They often cuddle with one another.

I can sense they feel a little awkward sharing their joy over this blessed experience with me, the one who stays behind, typing fast and furiously on her laptop, an observer of their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But they need not feel bad for me. I am having a glorious time through their eyes, photos, and stories to tell.

They hang out anywhere that suits them.
Be careful not to step on them!
The marine iguana is the only lizard in the world able to live and forage at sea and is endemic to the Galapagos Archipelago. Eleven very similar subspecies are found on different islands, with those from Isabela and Fernandina being the largest.

Besides, Tom has become a fine photographer, capturing moments with the same finesse I always strive to achieve but seldom accomplish. No longer will I ever tease him about his photo-taking acumen. He’s surpassed all my expectations and is a worthy match for the best of my accumulated, albeit inconsistent, skills over the years.

Fishing boat in The Galapagos. Yesterday, we dined on fresh caught grouper for lunch, and for dinner, it was scorpion fish…both were delicious. Scorpionfish have extremely potent venom in their sharp spines, making them one of the most poisonous animals in the ocean. Scorpionfish tend to live near the surface but can be found at 2,625 feet (800 m) deep.
Again, like in Africa, domestic and wild animals are not a good mix. Tom visited the Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center, where baby tortoises are bred until maturity to be released into the wild.
Tom took a photo of this sign at Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center.

Yes, I can live this life of unsteady immobility, and from my armchair and expeditions on shaky legs, I can continue to share the adventures we encounter along the way in our upcoming travels. The anticipation for the future is as thrilling and passionate as when my pace was assured and steady. My disability does not imprison me. I am enhanced in spirit over the challenge of making the most of every day, grateful for what I can do instead of what I cannot.

Another interesting sign is the Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center.
This is a young tortoise with many years yet to mature.
More baby tortoises.

I am emboldened by this new time in life, knowing it’s not unlike the pleasure we derive from adapting to new environments as we’ve traveled the world over the past 11 years in a mere two weeks from today. So much has changed, yet we are still the same people we were in 2012, ambitious, in love, determined, and somewhat fearless.

This one looks a little older than the above youngsters.
More young tortoises were enjoying the little pond.
Apparently, this tortoise was annoyed.

Perhaps I am not totally fearless when I suffered considerable angst over the impending altitude of Quito at 9350 feet. Then, as the altitude sickness presented symptoms to me, only exasperated by the fact I have heart disease, Afib, and asthma, all conditions known to deter travelers from high altitude, I found a sense of confidence in the fact that I never panicked, drank tons of water and rested as the best panaceas for the condition. By the third day, I was almost back to myself.

Photo of a sign about whitetip sharks.
Tom was thrilled to get this photo of whitetip sharks in a channel. Whitetip reef sharks are one of the most abundant Galapagos reef sharks. They can be seen from the surface to over 300 meters under the ocean. Although they prefer shallower water and are rarely seen deeper than 40 meters, they occasionally venture into open water from the reef.
More whitetip sharks. The naturalists Juan Carlo and Orlando explained that they hadn’t seen the whitetip sharks in six months, and they magically appeared for our passengers yesterday.

Now, when we return to Quito in four days to begin the altitude adjustment one more time, I have no angst or apprehension, knowing precisely what to expect in the last two days we’ll spend in Quito until we fly back down once again to Manta on October 23, to begin the drive to our new home the next day until January 8.

Cuddle buddies on the rocks.
Beautiful scenery.

After January 8? We have no plans, but we know our journey will continue to new horizons wherever possible. We’ll most likely make some decisions in the next 30 to 60 days on where we’d like to go. So many factors come into play when making those types of decisions.

Of course, none of these positive feelings I am experiencing would be possible without all of you, our valued readers. Without the daily preparations of these posts with Tom’s stunning photos, I’d be sitting here, playing with my phone or reading a book, neither of which would be fulfilling.

Sound asleep.

As a matter of fact, I often wonder if we would have continued traveling for 11 years had we not been documenting our daily lives as we have. It’s truly been the most meaningful and enriching aspect of our worldwide travels, knowing that someone out there is gaining joy in the world through our eyes. Now, in some ways, it will be through Tom’s eyes for those experiences that may be difficult for me to experience.

Saying so reminds me of Tom’s dear deceased older brother Jerome, who was blind and passed away last March at 94. Today would have been Jerome’s 95th birthday. A few years ago, when he was still able to read (listen to) our posts through an app on his computer, he said. “Tommy and Jessica, you will be my eyes as you travel the world. Jessica’s words paint a picture I can “see.” Tears flow from my eyes as I write this. We both miss him so much.

Blue-footed booby with those blue feet tucked away.

Many of our loyal readers have written to us in the past few days, extolling the virtues of our positive attitude in continuing on when others may have surrendered. But we don’t deserve praise for our commitment and dedication to continuing on. Curiosity? Perhaps. Astonishment? Perhaps. Or for some, who may say…” When are they going to get the message that they need to stop?”

No, we don’t continue on to “prove a point.” But, we do continue on for the enrichment of our lives, the sense of awe and wonder of the world, and the blissful adventure and the divine opportunity to share it all with all of you, each and every day. We thank every one of you for the great gift!

My dinner last night consisted of scorpionfish, roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes (which I later discovered have too many carbs for me), salad, garlic, spinach, and cheese. The chef, Jonathan, is going to great lengths to ensure I have plenty of delicious meals.

Ah, still happy, not melancholy! And grateful for so much.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 17, 2013:

At Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya…After the bush dinner, we posed for a photo, although after a day on safari, I hardly felt photo-ready. Tom’s face was sunburned from the almost 8 hours we spent on safari that day, exposed to the elements, loving every minute. We couldn’t wait to put our clothing in the dirty laundry hamper to be washed, dried, and folded to perfection, and that was returned to our tent the same evening. This service was included in the all-inclusive pricing. For more photos, please click here.

Day 3…Celebrity Xploration…Our first night of seasickness ever, after 34 cruises…

A partial photo of a Galapagos Giant Tortoise.At about 7:50 last night, our boat took off for today’s tour of Isabela Island, the largest island in The Galapagos archipelago. The crew mentioned there would be rough seas, and our fantastic hotel manager, Agustin, passed around seasick pills at dinner, which we declined, never thinking we’d need them.

A sea lion on the beach.

Before our departure, Agustin and several other staff members mentioned the importance of us staying on the main deck, which we’re on, until heading to bed. This didn’t worry us since we’ve never been sick on our 34 past cruises since we began our journey 11 years ago.

The rough terrain the group tackled.

Well, last night, we were in for a big surprise. We didn’t start feeling it until we went to bed, and boom! It hit us both like a ton of bricks! Oh, my gosh, we were seasick for the first time in our lives! Even Tom, who’s tough and resilient, ended up puking his guts out. I held my mouth shut tight and managed to make it through without doing the same. At 1:30 am, when we’d reached our destination and the anchor was lowered, we could both get some sleep.

An iguana in the shadows.

Tom felt much better after his “event,” but I struggled until we finally anchored, and when I awoke this morning, I was still queasy; I had a hard time getting showered and dressed in the still-rocking catamaran. I couldn’t join Tom and our shipmates for breakfast, but now, close to lunchtime, I am ready to eat something and hope eating helps settle my stomach.

Tom maneuvered around for a better shot.

I felt much better after a wonderful lunch of fresh-caught grouper right from the Galapagos waters, roasted chicken, spinach, and salads. After lunch, we took a short nap before Tom headed out again for another tour with the group at 3:00 pm, returning to the ship by 6:00 pm. One of the outstanding naturalists, Orlando, added me to his WhatsApp account and is sending me photos and videos from snorkeling and land sightings. Soon, I will share some of those photos. Otherwise, today’s photos were all taken by Tom. He is doing such a great job!

Gosh, I’m thrilled with Tom’s photo-taking skills using his phone. This is a Great Blue Heron spotted at Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island.

We could post photos for weeks, but I’m sure most of our readers don’t mind when it’s been a photo drought from us for many months, except for those in August on the Norway and Greenland cruises. We are so excited going forward to be able to share photos of our upcoming extra months spent in Ecuador, a land of many wonders.

The unique scenery.

In doing online research, I encountered the following from this website about interesting facts about The Galapagos Islands. In future posts, we will share more. See below:

“Fascinating Facts about the Galápagos Islands

The remote archipelago has captivated visitors since Charles Darwin stepped ashore in 1835, but how much do you know about the Galápagos?

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador lies the Galápagos Archipelago: a world unto itself, forged of lava and isolated for thousands of years. The islands are known for their famously fearless wildlife and as a source of inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution. And that’s just part of the story.

More interesting scenery.

Born of fire: The Galápagos Archipelago is one of the most volcanically active areas in the world. Situated atop a hotspot in the western Pacific, the islands were created over millennia of volcanic activity, as magma repeatedly broke through the sea floor and formed layer upon layer of rock, eventually becoming islands. Today, there are 13 active volcanoes in the archipelago, with intermittent eruptions occurring as recently as 2018.

More stunning scenery.

Discovery by accident: The first-recorded visitor to the Galápagos was Tomás de Berlanga, a Spanish noble and the bishop of Panama, whose ship was blown off course in 1535 while sailing from Panama to Peru. Berlanga was less than impressed with the stark, desert-like archipelago, describing it in a letter to the king of Spain as “dross, worthless, because it has not the power of raising a little grass, but only some thistles.”

This iguana greeted us at the pier when we first arrived in The Galapagos Islands a few days ago.

Human habitation: Though Spanish sailors, buccaneers, and whalers soon followed in Berlanga’s wake, the islands’ inhospitable terrain discouraged permanent habitation. The Galápagos was annexed by Ecuador from Spain in 1832, which led to a trickle of settlements and penal colonies. It wasn’t until the 1960s that an increasing number of Ecuadorians began migrating to the islands, drawn by opportunities in fishing and tourism. Today, more than 25,000 people live among the four inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana.

A yellow iguana is hidden in the bushes.

Evolution revolution: Although Charles Darwin only spent five weeks in the Galápagos in 1835, his time in the archipelago left a lasting impression. Here, the English naturalist famously observed that the islands’ finches (later named in his honor) had beaks that varied from island to island, depending on local conditions and food sources. Darwin would later draw on this research as evidence for his theory of evolution by natural selection, which he presented in On the Origin of the Species.

Each of the many islands in The Galapagos has a unique cactus endemic to its location.

Ecuador’s first national park: An astonishing 97 percent of the Galápagos landmass is designated a national park. Established in 1959, Galápagos National Park protects more than 3,000 square miles of islands and islets, while the Galápagos Marine Reserve protects an additional 50,000 square miles of ocean around the islands.

Or boat, Celebrity Xploration, a small, 16-passenger, 12-crew catamaran.

Nat Geo connection: In 2015, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas team carried out an expedition to the Galápagos to survey its extraordinary marine environments and make a case for greater protection of its waters. Inspired in part by the team’s findings, the government of Ecuador announced in 2016 the creation of a vast new marine sanctuary around Darwin and Wolf—two of the archipelago’s northernmost islands.

A tucked away yellow iguana.

Gentle giants: The islands’ giant tortoises—after which the archipelago is named—can survive up to one year without food or water. Tragically, this unique adaptation led to their demise over the centuries, as thousands of tortoises were captured and stored onboard ships to provide fresh meat for sailors. More than 100,000 tortoises are estimated to have been lost, leading to the extinction of several species and pushing others to the brink.

Currently, there are four species of iguanas in the archipelago: the Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), found on Isabela, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, and Fernandina Islands as well as other islets around them; the Pale Land Iguana (Conolophus pallidus), restricted to Santa Fe Island; the Yellow Land Iguana.

Conservation in action: For decades, researchers have been working to stabilize local tortoise populations at the captive breeding program in Santa Cruz, run by the Galápagos National Park Service and supported by the Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic Fund. Visitors can observe these iconic creatures up close and explore a facility where tortoise hatchlings are reared before being repatriated to the islands.

Brilliant boobies: The three species of boobies inhabiting the Galápagos can be distinguished by color. Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the trio; blue-footed boobies flaunt their strikingly-hued feet to attract mates; and the Nazca booby, the largest of the three, can be identified by its brilliant white plumage and black-tipped feathers.

One flamingo species is resident in the Galapagos Islands, the Greater Flamingo. Flamingos are large, unmistakable birds with extremely long legs, necks, and unique kinked bills. In adults, the plumage is pink.

Penguins of the tropics: Waddling about the islands—primarily on Isla Fernandina and Isla Isabela—is the only species of penguin found north of the Equator. Though penguins are more commonly associated with the Southern Hemisphere’s chilly realms, the Galápagos penguin thrives in its tropical Ecuadorian habitat thanks to the calm, nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, which flows north from Antarctica.

Stars in your eyes: Unobscured by light pollution, the night skies over the Galápagos are some of the most dazzling on the planet. With its unique position straddling the Equator, the archipelago offers a rare opportunity to view the constellations of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously.

This is an abandoned flamingo egg, most likely unable to hatch. These small rocks were set here by a naturalist to protect the egg.

Swimming lizards: While they may not be the prettiest of the archipelago’s species (Charles Darwin famously described them as “hideous-looking”), they are among the most intriguing. Marine iguanas—found exclusively in the Galápagos—are the world’s only seagoing lizards. Their laterally flattened tails propel them through the water, while their long, sharp claws help them cling to rocks. Contrary to their fierce, spiky-headed appearance, marine iguanas are herbivores, feeding primarily on algae and seaweed.

Snail mail: Floreana Island’s Post Office Bay dates back to the 18th century when homesick whalers improvised a method of communicating with their families—via a simple wooden barrel. Inside the barrel, they left letters for other seamen on homeward-bound ships to deliver by hand. The tradition continues to this day, with thousands of letters passing through the hands of visitors to Post Office Bay.”

Ah, a perfect nap in the sun.

That’s the news for today, dear readers. Thank you for writing to us and providing love and support over our changes to accommodate my walking issues. You all mean the world to us both.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 16, 2013:

In the Maasai Mara we visited a Maasai Village. This is Chief Richard, who showed us around. It was fascinating, and we appreciated his extra time with us. For more photos, please click here.

Photos from Tom’s city tour in Quito and a few from today’s journey to The Galapagos…

Those are some big shoes to fill.

Note; There are too many photos and insufficient time for writing captions on all of them. Going forward, we will make every effort to identify each photo we post; We are so grateful the WiFi signal is suitable for loading these photos, but we make no guarantee that we’ll able to post photos going forward. Thank you for your patience.

We are sitting on the Celebrity chartered plane to Baltra, the main island in the Galapagos. It’s 12:21 pm, and our flight just took off. As I peer out the plane window, I see the Andes Mountains surrounding Ecuador and am in awe of their beauty and expanse to the sky.

Snow peak covered Andes Mountains.

There is a scattering of quaint villages in many of the foothills with ample opportunities for farming and cultivation. There’s a pristine quality of it all. In our few short days in Quito, we reveled in this country’s dedication to ecology and preservation of its vast resources, from the refillable metal water bottles to the limited use of caustic materials and amenities.

The process at the airport was meticulous and uneventful. The friendliness of the staff was evident in every area, and we were whisked through each process with dignity and ease. Several documents are associated with entry to the Galapagos to ensure the utmost safety and preservation of their unique wildlife and terrain. We have completed everything as required.

Now that we are flying to sea level, our altitude anomalies should dissipate within 12 hours. We both did fine walking through the Quito airport. Tom carried our three carry-on bags, and I was pleased with how well I did in the still-high altitude.

Our lunch is being served now on the plane. I will take a break to eat only the three pieces of smoked salmon with cream cheese. I will upload a photo later.

We had a lovely breakfast around 8:00 am, and I was hardly hungry since. Most likely, we won’t have dinner until late tonight on the boat. I ate the smoked salmon and a dollop of guacamole to hold me over. Tom ate the raspberry mousse and didn’t like the rest. Tom is very picky, like a little kid, about food, although occasionally, on cruises, he will try something new and enjoy it. I’d eat almost anything if it weren’t for my necessary way of eating for health purposes.

Speaking of health, I am so grateful to have made it through three days in Quito at a 9350-foot high altitude without a major Afib episode. I felt a few flutters and increased heart rate but immediately did the diaphragmatic breathing, and my heart rate dropped exponentially. I was greatly relieved.

The altitude caused me to walk very slowly when we went to meals, but last night, when we were bussed to a restaurant in the city for dinner, I did fine with steps and uneven pavement, always, of course, with Tom at my side.

At dinner, we sat with six of the other 14 passengers and, by now, had met everyone, making every attempt to remember their names. Surely. In the next 24 hours, we will have that accomplished.

Everyone is very friendly, mainly from the UK, but six Americans are traveling with us. The ages range from the late 20s for one newlywed couple to primarily 60s and 70s. Maybe this time, I won’t be the oldest person at the dinner table, but it’s hard to say at this point.

Last night’s dinner at the restaurant in Quito.

Today’s photos include many Tom took yesterday on the Quito city walking tour and the few I’ve taken in the past 24 hours.

Lunch on the plant to The Galapagos.
Roses are $3.75 for two dozen in Ecuador.

Be prepared, folks. There are many more exciting photos to come.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 14, 2013:
The tail end of the great migration in Tanzania…Gradually, the scenery began to change to include the migrating wildebeest, many of whom had yet to make the journey back to the Serengeti. Anderson explained they would continue on, instinctively finding their way to the large herds of millions. For more photos, please click here.

We made it to Quito!…Time to adapt…

JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador, is a beautiful and elegant hotel.

The two flights were easy and uneventful. We barely ate the meal served on the second flight from Houston to Quito. That was no big deal since our expectations are low for airline food.

Once we collected our bags, we headed to the entrance, and there, at 11:45 pm, was a man holding a sign reading “Celebrity Cruises.” The kind greeter welcomed us and escorted us to the minivan, where our bags were loaded

He spent the first 15 minutes of the drive while we asked a few questions. By almost 1:00 am, we were situated in our beautiful spacious room with every possible amenity. In no time, we got ready for bed and hunkered down on the comfy bed. Sleep didn’t come easily; overall, I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours, awakening every hour or so.

Breakfast in one of the restaurants in the hotel. Nice decor, lovely food.

I had no apparent signs of altitude sickness when we went to bed. But when I got out of bed this morning, I could feel it. I was breathless while showering and getting ready for the day and noticed my pulse increase.

It hit me hard at breakfast, about 11 hours after we landed, and I struggled to eat my omelet and grilled veggies. I left food on the plate. We returned to our room, where I couldn’t lie down quickly enough. Of course. Tom, as usual, was fine with no symptoms at all. Go figure.

Water is supposed to reduce symptoms of altitude sickness, and I keep gulping it down. It’s provided in our room, four bottles a day. There’s a purified water machine in the lobby to refill water bottles.

Our view from our breakfast table is one of the many outdoor areas of the hotel.

I took two extended-release Tylenol and am lying in bed typing this on my phone. It’s hard to type on my laptop in a prone position, although I will need to use it to finish off some features and the only two photos I have taken so far. Sorry about that.

Mostly, I am thrilled the altitude didn’t result in an Afib event. It’s been a week since my last event, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed to avoid it on the cruise. We shall see how it rolls out.

Tonight at 5:00 pm, we have to go check in for the cruise in the hotel lobby. Hopefully, by then, I will feel better and be able to go, during which we will meet some of the other 14 passengers. The cruise was sold out for the 16 passengers.

To our family and friends in Minnesota, sorry about the Twins losing in the playoffs and are now out of contention. It was quite a disappointment.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 12, 2013:

Anderson set a beautiful breakfast for us in the early morning in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. With room for four at the small table, some of us sat nearby, eating breakfast on our laps. There were croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content. For more photos, please click here.

Part 5…Unpublished photos from the Azamara cruise to Tromso, Norway…

Yes, reindeer are real animals found in Norway.
Statue in Tromso.
It was a Sunday, and the streets were quiet.
This little train-like vehicle is a tourist attraction…
This was a government building.
A pretty church at the end of the road, Tromso Cathedral.
A view of the street from the top of the hill.
A pharmacy in the town of Tromso with a population of 72,000.
The Tromso Bridge.

Here’s the post we wrote on the day we arrived in Tromso, Norway:

Day 9…Norway Cruise…Tromso, Norway…Why is Norway called, “The Land of the Midnight Sun?”…The Troll Fjords…