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 #261 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…”Cruise to Nowhere” fiasco…

Christmas tree in Colon Park in Arica, Chile, with St. Mark’s Cathedral (San Marcos) in the background.

Today’s photos are from the 30-day cruise (two 15-day cruises, back-to-back), partially sailing around South America on the date in 2017 when we visited Arica, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

The above-mentioned cruise seems to have been a lot longer ago than three years. Life was so different then. Cruising was purely predicated by one’s ability to afford it and the desire to be out to sea for socializing, myriad adventures, and sightseeing. Now, we wonder if cruising will ever be possible in the future.

Buses arrived at the port to take passengers on tours.

From today’s news story here, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas four-day “Cruise to Nowhere,” available only to residents of Singapore had to turn back due to an onboard case of Covid-19, forcing the ship to return to Singapore on day #3.

The article reads as follows:

“A Royal Caribbean ship has returned to Singapore on day three of a four-day “cruise to nowhere” after a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The city-state’s “cruises to nowhere” – starting and ending at the same port without stops – launched last month.

Government building in Arica, Chile near the port.

They are an attempt to revive the hard-hit industry, which largely ceased worldwide after outbreaks on board but has since resumed in a few places. Singapore’s special cruises were only open to its residents.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas departed Singapore on Monday for a four-day round trip as part of a “safe cruising” pilot program announced by the country’s tourism board in October.

From this site: “History goes that during the War of the Pacific (1879-1880) the Morro de Arica was taken by Chilean troops in a heroic deed after only one hour of fighting against the Peruvian-Bolivian army. This historical feat took place on June 7, 1880, and ever since has marked the northern territorial boundaries of the country. Today, over one century after such an epic event, visitors only need to go up almost 200 meters rising from the sea in order to behold the enormous City of Arica. Whoever hit the summit of this morro in those days would immediately gain control of the city. There were many casualties. In a matter of minutes, almost 2 thousand soldiers from both sides lost their life.”

The cruise company said it had turned the ship around after one guest tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with the on-board medical team.

“We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals has subsequently tested negative for the virus,” it said in a statement.

A view of the Morro of Arica from the Plaza Colon where we wandered around the park.

It said guests would be allowed to disembark “after a review of contact tracing is completed”.

A raft of safety measures was introduced for passengers on the special cruises to nowhere, including coronavirus tests before boarding and after disembarking. The ships were also running at half their usual capacity for safe distancing purposes.”

In part, these cruises are intended to “test” how numerous precautions may prevent onboard cases of the virus and how they can safely be handled in the event of passengers becoming ill. But, at this point, it appears their “system” isn’t working as well as hoped.

A pond in the park occupied by dozens of seagulls.

All passengers were tested for Covid-19 before embarking on the cruise. However, as those of us who’ve followed Covid-19 scenarios, getting a negative test result today, doesn’t necessarily indicate it won’t be positive a few days later. Upon exposure, one may not exhibit symptoms or test positive for several days.

Until such time as a more accurate/earlier test becomes available, the cruise industry is SOL in offering safe cruises anywhere in the world. Currently, we have four cruises booked beginning on November 30, 2021. The others are well into 2022, none of which we may be able to embark upon, as long as this virus continues to impact cruising.

We stopped to see a nativity scene in the park.

At this point, we are waiting for the cruise lines to cancel our cruises as they see fit and ultimately necessary. I imagine, in the future, all guests may be required to have taken the vaccine and provide a recent antibody test upon boarding to ensure their documentation isn’t fraudulent. Antibody test results are available in minutes. Apparently, there are now black-market negative Covid-19 tests floating around.

Disappointing? Yes, but under no circumstances would we want to be on one of those cruises where we end up in quarantine. If we think this hotel room is small, a cruise cabin 30% smaller would be worse. Hum, 35 days and counting…

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 9, 2019:

After arriving in Nevada to visit family, we were on our way to the Vegas Golden Knights game, guest of son Richard, a super fan. For more, please click here.

Day #260 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The time can’t come soon enough…

We were with friends Lisa and Barry, enjoying one last night together on the ship in a private sitting in the wine room.

Today’s photos are from a South American cruise in 2017, again with friends Lisa and Barry, as we shared an exquisite evening dining in the “wine room” as their guests. For more on the post, please click here. The food and wine were “over the top.”

No doubt, we have a little apprehension about traveling for almost two days when we depart India on January 12th. At this point, we have no idea how comprehensive the precautions will be at the Mumbai airport in the middle of the night, the four-hour layover in Dubai, the airport, hotel, and taxi in Johannesburg, and the fight on the smaller plane for the arrival in Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport, eventually picking up the rental car, for the hour-long drive to Marloth Park.

The wine room was filled with rows and rows of exceptional wines.

We can only hope and pray we arrive in Marloth Park on the 13th without having contracted Covid-19. It’s a little scary. With the first two flights on Emirates Airlines, we’ve read they have been taking extra precautions, but we still have to deal with everything in between.

On our own, we’ll be taking several precautions, wearing masks, face shields, rubber gloves, and using hand sanitizer. We may decide we won’t eat on the flights to avoid touching the trays. We’ll change our gloves frequently. Also, we don’t plan to drink many, if any, liquids during the flight to avoid using the bathroom. I’m sure over the next few weeks, we’ll come up with more precautions as we continue to research.

That night, Tom was having a great time, dining in the private “wine room” in the Tuscan Grill with Lisa and Barry.

As for the time between now and January 12th? Hum… challenging. This morning there was a note slipped under our door notifying us of a big party at the hotel tonight and to be prepared for noise until midnight. Also, with the party imminent, our entire floor appears to be totally booked.

While walking this morning we encountered no less than a dozen guests, half wearing face masks and the others, not. In each case, as soon as I could see a guest without a mask, I stopped dead in my tracks to stare at them. If they don’t put on a mask or return to their room to do so, I shout out, every single time, “Please put on a face mask!” Most comply. If they don’t, I turn around and head the other way.

An antipasto board was served to each couple.

At times, I’ve returned to our room when a dozen guests or more are waiting for the lifts, half or more of whom aren’t wearing masks and are yelling and talking loudly. No way will either of us get close to such individuals or groups. Often, guests are leaving their rooms to visit a guest in another room. Even, in those cases, I tell them to put on a mask.

At this point, I don’t care what people “think” of this crazy woman walking the corridors all day, telling people to wear masks. The hotel has told each and every guest that masks must be worn when outside their rooms. When we report a lack of compliance to the managers, they also are frustrated and don’t know what more they can do when they’ve explained the mandatory mask policy to every guest at check-in, including providing them with a printed notice of COVID-19 precautions and requirements.

One of the great wines we enjoyed last night.

We wonder if, after a party like tonight, the staff will become infected when guests refuse to wear masks at parties, weddings, and celebrations. At this point, we no longer go downstairs to pay the bill. We ask them to bring the bill and portable credit card machine to us.

We wear a mask and gloves when processing the bill outside our room door, don’t touch anything but the printed copy, and our credit card, along with two new plastic room keys which we sanitize after we’re done. When food is brought to our room twice a day, we don’t allow the server to enter the room. Tom handles the one tray and stainless steel covered plates of food. We wash our hands again after touching the steel covers and tray.

Tom’s minestrone soup.

This morning, somehow the kitchen forgot to bring our breakfast order. An hour and a half later, they called and asked why we hadn’t ordered. We had. Finally, 90 minutes later our breakfast arrived. We don’t know how this happened, other than the fact that so many guests are here and dining in the dining room and the staff was busy.

The room next door to us has a phone’s notification vibration occurring every 10 to 15 minutes. Hopefully, by tonight the guest(s) will be considerate enough to turn off the notifications on their phones. At least 25 times after 11:00 pm, we’ve had to call the front desk asking them to tell the guest to turn off the notifications. It wakes us up each time it goes off. The walls are paper-thin. Right now, after 1:00 pm, we can hear people yelling in the corridors. I hesitate to go out for my next scheduled walk. Oh, dear.

My filet mignon, cooked rare, was exceptional.

Thanks for listening to me whine again. The time can’t come soon enough. I keep reminding myself, day after day, how much time is left, which as of today is 36 days. I can’t wait for a big steak, a glass of dry red wine, a big bag of pellets, and the blissful companionship of our human and animal friends.

Tom’s ribeye steak was also cooked to perfection.
Tom’s dessert of homemade doughnuts, cherries, and vanilla ice cream.

We hope all of you are holding up well amid the ongoing madness of COVID-19. When will it all end?

Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2019:

In Marloth Park on this day in 2013, this male zebra stood under the carport for quite some time, watching over the other males. For more photos, from one year ago, please click here.

Day #249 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A great memory from 2016…A good Thanksgiving after all…

It had been a long time since I’d done a seminar, but in my career in my old life, I had done many.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while sailing on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas on the circumnavigation of the Australian continent when we were asked to do two seminars about our world travels. For more on that story, please click here.

Was it really four years ago that we were asked to conduct a seminar on world travel on a cruise ship? We did the first seminar on this date in 2016 and a few days later did a second seminar when asked by the ship activity director to do another when there were many requests from passengers who’d missed it.

Tom chimed in on several occasions and did a fabulous job. Fluffy hair, that day! Love him anyway!

Of course, we were pleased and flattered. We both enjoyed meeting all the people that flocked around us for the remainder of the cruise asking question after question. I have no doubt many of those participants are still following us now, four years later. We are so grateful for each and every one of you!

After we’d done the seminars, we spent some time inquiring as to the possibility of conducting such seminars on future cruises but the compensation offered was not worth it to us. Many speakers on cruises think they are getting quite a perk to speak on their favorite topic and return over and over again.

Note our talk scheduled at 11:15 am on the ship activities program.

For us, it wasn’t a worthwhile undertaking. The cruise line pays only for transportation to a specific port of call and the time spent on the ship. Once the “talks” are completed, the speaker(s) are dropped off at the next port of call to “fly away.” This didn’t work for us at all. It simply wasn’t worth it.

However, we thoroughly enjoyed those two experiences on that 33-night cruise, and of course, all the days and nights socializing with many Australians and a handful of Americans, including two couples with whom we spent most “happy hours” and many dinners. It was a fantastic cruise that we’ll always remember, among others.

I love the look on Tom’s face in this shot.

Now, with COVID-19 raging all over the world, the prospects of cruising again, anytime soon are limited. A few days ago, we posted a story about enthusiastic cruise passengers volunteering for “test” cruises to see how a cruise line will handle COVID-19 breakouts during a cruise. Here is the link to that post, entitled “Ten reasons to avoid test cruises.”

As for yesterday’s Thanksgiving, we made it through with ease and nary a moment of disappointment. We heard from so many family members, friends, and readers, it proved to be a busy day while we responded to everyone. We couldn’t have felt more loved with the many good wishes and concern for our well-being during our peculiar situation.

Tom managed the video presentation while I talked. We were (we are) a good team.

Did we miss the Thanksgiving dinner? Not at all. I had my usual chicken dinner (tonight is salmon night) and Tom had only breakfast and some bananas, he’d saved for later. We now refer to his daily bananas as “banana cream pie,” making our mouths water at the prospect of any type of pie at this point. Although, I’ve only eaten low carb/gluten-free pies in the past many years.

Now, with my drastically reduced carb regime and my lowest morning fasting blood sugar reading this morning of 82 mg/dl, 4.6 mmol/L, in 20 years, I continue to be ecstatic over my recent health improvements. This morning, for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t take any blood pressure medication. Of course, if it rises over time, I will revert back to small doses of the medication to keep it in check. Time will tell. In the interim, I will proceed with the utmost of caution, checking it several times a day.

There were over 100 people in attendance at our first seminar with many more at the second, a few days later.

Subsequently, in the future, I doubt I will be eating any of those “low carb” modified desserts that may raise blood sugar/blood pressure as I continue to strive to maintain these good numbers well into the future. Eliminating such sweet treats may literally add many good years to my life.

Today? Another low key day. In the evenings, we’ve been watching a fantastic show with many seasons and episodes, streaming on Hulu, ‘This is Us.” In the past, we’d considered streaming this popular show but never got to it until now. If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it. Any recommendations you may have for Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, please send them our way!

Happy day to all and again, thank you for all the warm and heartfelt wishes over the holiday!

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2019:

About 8 inches of snow fell in Eden Prairie, Minnesota where we were staying with friends Karen and Rich. For more photos, 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.

Day #189 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Food photos from a Celebrity cruise, Vancouver to Honolulu in 2014…

There was no charge for a piece (or two) of this lovely strawberry cake offered on the cruise. But, none for me with my way of eating. Even Tom passed on this cake.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were on a cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu. For more on this date, please click here.

My mouth was watering when I reviewed today’s photos from a cruise to Hawaii, where we ended up staying for a total of eight months on four of the most popular islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

All of these desserts in the Al Bacio Bar are included in the fare., no purchase necessary.  However, there is a charge for specialty coffees also available in this area. Oddly, Tom wasn’t interested in anything in this case.

In many ways, it seems like yesterday, especially when we spent the Christmas holidays with the kids and grandkids on the Big Island and, the last four months in Kauai, making many new friends and exploring the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross, which during those months, became a daily source of tremendous joy and wonder.

By the time we boarded this cruise in 2014, we’d been on eight prior cruises since beginning our journey and had considerable experience when ordering meals befitting Tom’s picky taste buds and my low carb/keto way of eating. It was hard for me to resist all the beautiful desserts, one of which is shown in today’s main photo. But, never once did I order or select any forbidden desserts, ice cream (or meals) when meandering the various food stations throughout the ship.

Oh, delicious! I ended up ordering a second serving of this fabulous Pistachio Duck Terrine.

With a former sweet tooth, such desserts were difficult to resist, but by this ninth cruise, I had my attraction to such items strictly under control and rarely ever gave it a thought. When others, at a shared table, ordered gooey desserts, either I ordered a fresh cup of tea or if still hungry after a meal of tiny portions, I could order the cheese plate.

In every case when ordering the cheese plate, asking for it to arrive without fruit or crackers, almost invariably it would be placed in front of me with fruit and crackers. After a while, we laughed. I’d remove the items and proceed to enjoy the various imported cheeses.

Tom’s escargot was green due to the use of spinach in the buttery sauce. If I told him the green was spinach, he probably wouldn’t eat it. He did!

Eventually, I stopped ordering it, since the cheese serving was way more than I should eat and it was hard to resist when it was in front of me. I’ve always been a member of the “clean plate club.” Many can surely relate to that, perhaps a by-product of our upbringing when we were required to clean the plate due to the starving children all over the world. Gosh, if leaving untouched food on my plate would feed starving children I would have never cleaned my plate.

For many travelers, cruising is all about the food. Honestly, right now if we boarded a cruise ship, I’d run, not walk, to the buffet to partake in the many items I can eat; eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), smoked salmon with capers, platters of chilled prawns, burgers (minus the bun), grilled fish, unlimited steamed veggies and one of the items I miss the most…a big green salad.

My dinner consisted of salmon and steamed vegetables, which with the addition of a side dish of Hollandaise sauce was fine. I prefer not to eat carrots since they are grown underground and high in sugar content.

We don’t order salads or raw vegetables here in India for fear the produce is washed in tap water which is unsafe to drink in India. Sure, the hotel probably washes it in purified water but it most likely had been sprayed with tap water in processing for distribution to hotels and restaurants. It would only take a few spores of bacteria to throw us into a bacterial infection which is all we’d need now.

We don’t worry about COVID-19 infecting our food that is served to our room twice a day. The cooks live in the hotel as do the servers who deliver it to our room. Also, there’s no definitive research indicating the virus is contracted from food, although under certain circumstances, I’d imagine this is a possibility.

Tom’s dinner of beef cheeks over parsnip puree, carrots, broccoli with demi-glace sauce which he found to be excellent.

That’s why we don’t order takeaway meals from the many restaurants in the area that will deliver to the hotel which is left at the guard gate for patrons to collect. It’s not worth the risk or the bother. Also, for my purposes, we’d have no idea as to ingredients used to prepare our meals, including toxic vegetable oils that we resist. All of our meals are prepared with “real” butter as opposed to margarine and trans-fats used by many dining establishments throughout the world, not just in India.

Even looking at today’s photos of food I can eat, makes my mouth water. Oh, well. Hopefully, this is just temporary. Every day, I think about a plate of home-made food in front of me, sitting at a table with a linen placemat and napkin, and a glass of red wine in a fine wine glass, instead of on a chair in a hotel room with the same meal night after night meal on my lap,

One of our dear readers wrote that lockdown feels like “house arrest” and I agree, but in our case, it feels more like being a teenager and confined to our room for bad behavior. Except, that teenager could go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator filled with tasty options, and select what they found most appealing. Not the case now!

May your day be filled with taste-tempting, hearty, healthy, and delicious meals.

____________________________________________

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

This lamb, covered in dirt after it rained, on the farm in Devon, England, is half the size of the others. Renate and John, our property owners, explained she never grew to full size due to a genetic anomaly. For more photos, please click here.