Day #236 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Shubh Diwali…Happy Diwali…

Today’s photos are those I took yesterday in the hotel lobby when I went downstairs to pay our bill. The hotel manager showed me this gorgeous handcrafted sand display in the lobby that left me breathless. Such a beautiful colorful display! No captions were added. The beauty of this display speaks for itself.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned discussing Indian customs today when Diwali had slipped my mind. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share many of India’s customs, some of which we’ve had personal experience during our first six weeks on tour in the country. 

Today is Diwali, the annual five-day Festival of Light holiday in the Hindu faith worldwide. It is described as follows from India Times here:

“The much-awaited festival of light is here. Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is celebrated across India with great enthusiasm as it symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Dipavali,’ which means a row of lights, Diwali has been celebrated since time immemorial.

Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Lord Ram killed Ravana (Dusshera) and rescued Sita from captivity in Lanka. The celebration marks the return of Lord Ram to Ayodha after 14 years of exile. The entire city was decked up to welcome Lord Rama, Sita, and Laxman, and the people decorated the city with diyas (earthen lamps) to welcome their king.

This five-day festival starts with Dhanteras, which celebrates and welcomes good luck, wealth, and prosperity. On Dhanteras, people buy jewelry and utensils because any metal is believed to ward off bad luck and usher in wealth and prosperity. Dhanteras is followed by Chhoti Diwali, Diwali, Govardhan Puja, and finally, Bhai Dooj marks the end of this festival.

How to celebrate the festival of light
‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness,’ and none can explain this better than people who celebrate Diwali. The preparation for this grand festival starts much ahead with people cleaning their houses and offices. Then they decorate their places with flowers, lamps, lights, and rangolis.

The celebration starts with people buying jewelry and utensils on Dhanteras. This is an auspicious occasion to buy any metal as it is believed to ward off evil and bring prosperity.

The following two days—Chhoti Diwali and Diwali—are the most-awaited days when people enjoy the most. The evening starts after performing puja and offering prayers to the gods. People then light diyas and burst crackers. The entire atmosphere reverberates in a festive note. On the fourth day, Govardhan puja is performed, and the festival of lights ends with Bhai Dooj, which is very similar to Raksha Bandhan as it is a celebration of love between a brother and sister.

Although it is a tradition to burst crackers on Diwali, we should now refrain from doing it because of increased air pollution. We should aim to celebrate Diwali in an eco-friendly way and respect nature. Instead of bursting crackers, we can light diyas, decorate our house and surroundings with fairy lights, and spend a magical evening with friends and family.

Happy Diwali 2020: Messages, Quotes, Status, and SMS

On this Diwali, I wish you wealth, prosperity, glory, and happiness not only for this special occasion but for today and forever! I hope you have a very, very happy Diwali!!

Happy Diwali 2020! May your day be filled with delightful laddoos, incandescent days, a whole lot of smiles and laughter!

May millions of lamps illuminate your life with endless happiness, wealth, prosperity & glory forever! I wish you and your family, a very very happy Diwali!

On this Auspicious Festival of Diwali, May Goddess Lakshmi blesses you with Joy, Prosperity, & Happiness. Happy and safe, Deepawali!

May you achieve everything your heart desires with the blessing of Lakshmi-Ganesha. Happy and safe Diwali 2020!

Let’s celebrate the festival in the true sense by spreading joy and light up the world of others. Have a happy, safe, and blessed Diwali!!

May the beauty of the festival of lights fill your home with happiness, and may the new year bring joy, peace, and prosperity to your life. I wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali!!

Wishing you a gleam of diyas, an echo of holy chants, contentment, and happiness today, tomorrow, and forever. Have a happy and prosperous Diwali!

Rejoice on this blessed occasion by spreading joy with your friends and loved ones. Happy Diwali 2020. May this Diwali be bright for you and your family. May God fulfill all your wishes this Diwali. Happy Diwali!.”

We wish all of our Hindu friends we’ve made throughout the world a safe, fulfilling, and blessed Diwali today, over the next several days in celebration, and in years to come. Thank you for sharing your country with us!

Photo from one year ago today, November 14, 2019:

We took granddaughter Madighan to her weekly karate class. It was fun watching her and four boys in the same age group, learning the moves presented by Sensei Luiz. For more, please click here.

Part 2, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

The Matsamo village consists of many huts made by the men using straw, wood, vines, and cow dung. They are very well constructed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom and Lois have particularly enjoyed the bushbaby’s nightly visit to the cup of yogurt on the little stand.

Whether or not the villagers of Matsamo live the primitive life they described as customary in these modern times, it was interesting to learn about their history and culture.

There are various boma-type structures to round up the cattle at night or conduct meetings among the tribesmen.

The young man who provided us with a private tour of the village was enthusiastic and dedicated to the customs of his heritage, many of which we assume continue today to some degree.

The chief, our tour guide’s father, was in a meeting with another tribesman.

It was evident by his detailed descriptions that the male members of the tribe supersede the females of the tribe in many ways, except the grandmother, who is held in the highest esteem, even above that of the chief.

The baskets hanging on the side of the boma fence are for nesting chickens.

Women are married at very young ages, and many men take two wives. The first wife will have children, cook, clean, and care for the family and continues to do so until the man decides to take a second wife.

The largest hut was for the grandmother, where all the teenage girls sleep once past seven or eight years old.

At this point, the first wife is “promoted,” and she moves to another hut without a cooking area. The new wife is then responsible for all household tasks while the first wife languishes more leisurely. Interesting, eh?

Note the quality construction of the huts.

There is no limit to the number of children the wives may bear regardless of their status in the family unit. It’s a lifestyle demanding for most of us to imagine, so far removed from our reality.  

The chief’s son, the youngest of his 25 children from two wives respectively, two wives, the first with 15 children, and the second with ten children.

After the tour ended, we made our way back to the car and proceeded to drive back to Marloth Park via the proper roads, avoiding the potholed roads. By early afternoon we were back on the veranda waiting for visitors while Lois and I prepared a lovely dinner for the evening.

This low entrance to the huts is intended to keep invaders out and present a humble entrance for those welcomed.  A large stick is kept by the entrance in the event an unwelcomed visitor intrudes.

Some things never change, especially in our generation of retired seniors, women doing most of the cooking and men taking on other household tasks. For us, traveling the world over these past six years has led us to fall into specific roles and functions based on our skills and interest, more minor on gender identity roles of decades past.

Decorative items to be worn during festivities and when young women are presented to the chief as potential new wives for himself and others.

I prefer to cook. Tom likes to do the cleanup and the dishes. He does the heavy lifting of the 40 kg (88 pounds) pellets while I put away the groceries. I wash the laundry, and if helpers aren’t available, he hangs it on the clothesline.

The husband and wife sleep separately on mats, the man on the right, the woman on the left.  As we entered the hut, we had to comply with this left/right ritual, man always on the right. Hmmm…or did he mean “man is always right?”

In many cultures, established roles and tasks are distributed by a couple, regardless of gender, in a similar manner, based on expertise, ability, and interest. This method works well for us and never, do either of us feel we are locked into a specific gender obligation.

Various baskets were used for collecting water by the young women from the local river.

Yesterday, Saturday, we embarked on the Crocodile River drive in Marloth Park and once again have some spectacular sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  

The village was designed to generate revenue for the villagers, and many areas were modern and tourist-friendly.

As always, last night’s dinner at Jabula was fantastic, along with the fun the four of us had sitting at the bar yakking with Leon, the owner. Dawn, his significant other, and co-owner were out of town visiting family, and we kept him entertained as he did us!

For an additional sum, we could have stayed for lunch.  But when reviewing the online menu, we opted out on this when many of the items were wheat, corn, starch-based, and deep-fried.

Soon, we’re off to another bush braai in Lionspruit, the game reserve within a game reserve where we’ll spend the better part of the day at Frikkie’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and friends. It will be a pleasure to share this delightful event with Tom and Lois as their time here is quickly winding down.  In a mere four days, they’ll depart to return to the US.

Several areas were set up for dining, and many tourists were dining as we walked through the dining area.

Have a fantastic day, yourselves! We’ll be thinking of all of you as we take photos while embracing today’s fun event.

Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2017:

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we stayed for two nights, to renew our Costa Rica visas. For more pictures and details, please click here.

Part 1, Matsamo Cultural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

We arrived at the Swaziland border where Matsamo Cultural Village is located, just as the show began.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra was climbing the steps of the veranda for more pellets as we headed to the car to go to Swaziland.

When Lois expressed an interest in attending a traditional African tribal dance, we asked Louise and Danie what they’d recommend. They didn’t hesitate when they suggested the Matsamo Cultural Village Tour located on the South Africa side of Swaziland, a bordering country.

The Swazi performers are very talented in both singing and dancing.

Here’s a map showing how Swaziland, a different country, and how it is situated next to South Africa and bordering Mozambique on the east:

Map of Swaziland.

Had this tour been located in Swaziland, we wouldn’t have been able to attend. While attempting to be granted a visa extension, we were warned not to leave the country, resulting in any stamps in our passports.

Tree stumps were used as seats during the performance.

The website for Matsamo was a little unclear as to whether we’d need to be part of a tour group or if we could show up on our own. We tried calling the contact number to no avail and finally decided to take a chance on the over one-hour drive from Marloth Park.

The men performed a traditional dance.

In looking at a map, Tom and Tom mapped out directions and by 10:00 am, we were on the road, hoping to arrive in time for the posted 11:30 am performance. As it turned out, we barely made it on time when we mistakenly took a shortcut which proved to be the second-worst potholed road we’ve experienced in our lives.

The women also performed a traditional dance and song.

Months ago, we’d made a similar mistake by taking a shortcut and ended up with what is described as the worst pothole road on the planet. Yesterday’s route wasn’t as wrong as our prior experience, but awful. It was quite the adventure for Tom & Lois!

Performing for tourists provides the village with income. The cost of the performance and tour is ZAR 200 (US $13.70) per person.

Finally, we arrived at the village and proceeded to make our way to the activities with the help of a member of the village who directed us down a path to the performance, which was starting at any moment.

Their agility and ability are spectacular.

We found seats in the back row when all the best seats were taken by that arrived earlier than us, but we got good enough seats to take photos and enjoy the 45-minute show with a bit of maneuvering.

The colorful dress of the Matsamo people was bright and appealing.

Their voices and dancing skills were exceptional, and the four of us were mesmerized during the entire performance. After the performance ended, one of the leading performers, a skilled and attractive young man, and the chief’s youngest son, approached us and offered a personalized tour of the village and its customs.

We were thrilled to have him show us around and explain the details of their fascinating culture, all of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

At one point, audience members joined in the dance while we took photos.

Here’s an overview from the Matsamo Tribe’s website located here:

“Matsamo Customs and Traditional Centre Co-operative is a traditional village near Swaziland and a must for visitors looking to experience authentic Swazi culture, which is well preserved in this. It is named after Chief Matsamo, a prominent Shongwe chief and contemporary of King Mswati II. 

As a reward for his loyalty in defending the territory against invaders from the north, Mswati II allowed Chief Matsamo to remain in charge of the region as an eminent member of Swazi royalty. He was the first Swazi chief to reside permanently in the area. Today the part is still under the control of the Matsamo Tribal Authority.

Our tour guide walked down this pretty trail with Lois as both Toms, and I followed behind as we made our way toward the village for the tour. Tomorrow we’ll continue with Part 2 and photos of how the Matsamo people live.

Matsamo Cultural Village offers old folk songs, rhythmic dance performances, including the famous Rain Dance, authentic African instruments, and traditional Swazi cuisine. Visitors can also wander on tour through the village with its many huts and spaces, interacting with the villagers as they go about their daily activities, cultivating their crops, preparing traditional food, and fashioning beautiful craftworks.

Matsamo Cultural Village is near Kruger National Park. It first opened its doors in 2014 and enjoyed tremendous support from the broader community.”

As soon as today’s post is uploaded, we’ll be heading out on a drive through Marloth Park to see what’s happening today on the Crocodile River. Tonight, we’re dining once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, which no doubt will be another excellent evening.

Have an enjoyable and fruitful day!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2017:

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stopped by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree in Costa Rica and proceeded to sing. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Artistry, talent and taboos…A cultural goldmine in Livingstone…WayiWayi Art Studio and Gallery…

One wonders what would have precipitated this taboo.  t could go back thousands of years with the origination unknown. This and the other taboo paintings were done by Agness, director of WayWayi Art Studio & Gallery,

“Sighting of the Day in Zambia”

Should I reconsider serving Tom three eggs and bacon, upping it to four or reducing it to two?

There were more Zambian taboos than we can possibly list here in one post. Here’s a link we found with a few more taboos, commonly observed by both local people and hopefully, respected by visitors to this astounding culture.

Every piece of art at WayiWayi Art Studio & Gallery was representative of Zambian culture.

We’d hope to find a more comprehensive resource on Zambian taboos online with limited success. These taboos are so ingrained in the culture their significance is carried on from generation to generation, more by word of mouth than posted online.

Agness had made many exquisites paintings of a wide variety of taboos in Zambian culture.
They are fascinating!

Visiting WayiWayi Art Studio & Gallery as described in yesterday’s Part 1 gave us an opportunity to peek inside the gentle and loving nature of these special people who honor family, spirituality, and work at the foundation of their beliefs. For yesterday’s post, in the event you missed it, please click here.

Shaking hands with in-laws in not appropriate.  More so, a humble bow would be more appropriate.

Today, we’re sharing the balance of our photos including some of the exquisite pieces Agness Buya had personally crafted with her fascination and knowledge of traditional Zambian taboos and customs. 

Gorgeous wall hangings.

As Agness escorted us from room to room in her large studio/residence we were continually in awe of her work, her husband Lawrence’s work, and the works of students over the years.  

The meaning of this piece is that people often complain out loud, wanting the government to solve their problems rather than find solutions on their own.

Both trained as art teachers/instructors it’s evident their vast knowledge and expertise become an integral part of the education of students, young and old, and various artists in residence.

Some of their services include (from their brochure):

  • Free WiFi
  • All major credit cards
  • Self-catering facilities
  • Check-in/out 24 hours
  • Artists workspace available
  • Electrical kiln, potters wheel, printing press, a small collection of art books for research
A busy workspace and storage area.
To contact WayiWayi Art Studio & Gallery, call 260 977 325 799 or 260 966 559 101 or email:  
Their Facebook page is:
Many arts and art history books are available for the students to use while attending classes.
Now, continuing on with our itinerary over the next few days. Tomorrow morning we’ll be picked up at 7:00 am at the Protea Hotel in Livingstone for a two-day, one overnight, safari adventure, both in Chobe National Park and again on the Chobe River.
The power of the messages in each item is breathtaking.
Last time we were in Zambia we’d participated in these two types of safaris but for shorter periods. In this case, we’ll have two full days to see more of this wildlife-rich area on land in a safari vehicle and in a boat on the Chobe River.
The biggest draw for tourists to travel to Livingstone is Victoria Falls, seen from one or both sides of the Zambezi River. When we were here three months ago, we spent an entire day seeing the falls from both countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  
We’ll always remember this special day with Agness at WayiWayi Art Studio & Gallery.
It was an extraordinary experience which we posted at this link and also Part 2 at this link. The reality is there are only so many tourist attractions in this area, most of which we’ve already experienced.  
This artistic piece, made by Agness was made with hundreds of scratch-off tickets.

Based on the fact we needed to return to Zambia for another 90-day visa extension, we decided to return to Chobe after the exceptional previous experience. Most likely the route we travel will be the same or similar to the previous route we traveled in Chobe National Park.  

However, like visiting Kruger as we often do once a week, each time it is unique and exciting even if we travel on the same exact roads on each occasion.
Could this be represented as cultural changes over the years, the woman in front as more modern, the woman behind here in more traditional roles?
Subsequently, we’ll be gone all day tomorrow and the following day which will result in two short posts for those two days with more photos from Zambia. Once we’re back at the hotel, on Wednesday we’ll begin posting the Chobe National Park and Chobe River photos.
Children playing in the sand at the art school.
Again, thank you to the wonderful Agness Buya for making our trip to Zambia all the more important and exciting.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more!
Have a fantastic day!
 Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2017:
The mountains impeded our view of the sunset in Atenas, Costa Rice but got gorgeous colors in the process. For more details, please click here.

Part 1…Artistry, talent and taboos…A cultural goldmine in Livingstone…WayiWayi Art Studio and Gallery…

This is talented and dedicated Agness Buya, who has made art, apprenticeships, and education at the core of her very existence. We were honored to have met her and for the time she took sharing this cultural center with the two of us.  Agness created this magnificent creation using tea bags!

“Sighting of the Day in Zambia”

Work and providing for one’s family is a part of the marriage commitment ceremony. This statue and other’s similar to this, bear no arms and legs, indicating there’s no place for “lazy” individuals who refuse to work.

Today and tomorrow we’ll be sharing photos of a fabulous cultural experience from yesterday’s tour of the city of Livingstone, Zambia. The highlight of our day was our private tour of WayiWayi Art Studio and Gallery.

The dirt road to the WayiWayi Art Studio and Gallery.

When one is on holiday in a tourist town with the intent of visiting an art gallery what visions come to mind? The glass storefront, a pristine and impeccable decor allowing for highlighting the art as opposed to the facility itself?

The sign upon entry onto the grounds.

One envisions expensive art offering including paintings with a wide array of techniques and styles, sculptures, glassworks, and a plethora of handmade creative wall, floor, and table pieces, each stunning, pricey and unique.

This building serves as both an art center and residence for owner/manager Agness and her artist husband Lawrence. Sharing art with their community is truly the essence of their lives.

Well, dear readers, one may find such places in many tourist locations throughout the world, but not here in Livingstone, Zambia. Throughout our almost six years of non-stop world travel, homeless and unencumbered with stuff art only provides us with a finite appreciation of the work and craft of highly dedicated and talented individuals.  

The grounds are near the art school and art classrooms.

We don’t own a wall, a floor, or a table to hold or display such an artistic piece of the work of these creative talents. Nor do we have a storage place to hold such works for future use should we ever stop traveling.

Display of children’s work in one of the classrooms in the adjacent building.

Although Livingstone with its World Heritage Victoria Falls is one of the world’s most desired tourist attractions, the culture is very different here than one might find in many other popular tourist destinations. 

Artist in residence honing his skills.

Subsequently, we were literally “over the moon” traveling over yet another bumpy dirt road (quite a familiar experience for us in rough-roaded Marloth Park) and we approached the most quaint and charming WayiWayi Art Studio and Gallery, located at Plot #2613/392 Kalukuluku Street (off Airport Road) in Livingstone, Zambia.  

Artist in residence working in one of the several workrooms with children learning from the experiences.

To reach Agness, contact her on their Facebook page here or she can be reached by email at this link. No reservation to tour the center is required during normal business hours but since the property is also hers and her husband’s residence, it’s best to contact Agness outside any regular hours.

Opportunities for both youth and adults to enhance their skills.

Should any of our readers travel to this exceptional country to visit Victoria Falls, a stop at this culturally fascinating facility is an absolute must, especially if cultural experiences fit well into your travel plans.

Art supplies and storage area.

As soon as we exited the taxi, Agness immediately approached us, hand outstretched to warmly greet us, two strangers. Little did she know we’d be writing a story with many photos about her outstanding artistic endeavors.  

A separate room dedicated to marriage rites and customs. This pattern on the floor is for the engaged couple to walk on tiptoes together symbolizing their ability to work as a couple.

As far as she knew we were typical tourists/shoppers interested in purchasing a few items to bring “home” for ourselves, family members, and friends as a reminder of a tour of Livingstone, Zambia.

Agness’ husband Lawrence painted this beautiful piece indicating the family’s unity and involvement in the marriage.

In only a matter of moments, Agness understood how committed we are to sharing “her” story in words and photos and possibly attracting the attention of art enthusiasts and future shoppers whose purchases help to support the continuation of such a fine educational and creative center for children and adults.

A collage of photos of the many stages of preparation for the upcoming marriage.

From the simple one-page brochure we’re sharing their words on services offered (as an important adjunct to our two-day story as follows):

1.  Produce, display, and sell high-quality Zambian arts, crafts, and design.
2.  Organize workshops and art exhibitions locally and nationwide.
3.  Provide apprenticeship opportunities for emerging artists.
4.  Empowering women’s groups and youth with skills training in the visual arts.
5.  Offer hands-on arts and crafts to children aged one and a half to six-month and above.
6.  Showcase the Mbusa cultural traditions (pottery, wall paintings, and artifacts used in the traditional Bemba marriage ceremony).  For detail on these traditions, please click here).
7.  Face/body paintings for various functions for all age groups.
8.  Resource Centre for visual art in Zambia’s Southern province.
9.  Provide studio space and Residency opportunities for local and foreign artists, in all areas of art.
10. To stock and supply a variety of art and craft materials for use by local schools and community programs.

Music, wall hangings, artifacts, and pottery are an integral part of the traditional Bemba marriage ceremony and rituals.

We will say this today and then repeat it tomorrow: “Thank you Agness Buya for adding such a rich texture to our ongoing experiences in your fine country and for all the care and support you provide for your artistic community.”

This wall mural contains many sections representing different aspects of life for the Zambian couple as they prepare for marriage, a lifetime commitment in this culture.

Tomorrow we’ll be back with Part 2 with a focus on many of the taboos commonly observed in Zambian culture. Please stop back.

 Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2017:
Our friend Louise, whom we met in Kauai Hawaii identified this bird as a Hoffmann’s Woodpecker. Thanks, Louise, we appreciated the information. I took this photo while seated on the sofa on the veranda while working on the day’s post while in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

A little about Marloth Park… Fun with the locals…

Zeff was here with us four years ago.  It was wonderful to see him again. 

What is Marloth Park? Over these past four years since we were last here, we’ve mentioned it more times than we care to count, over and over again, ad nauseam, perhaps at times to the disdain of our readers. For this, we apologize and hope we haven’t bored you.

But, this place is unlike any other world, a little developed, a lot natural. Oh, some may say this is like “Disneyland in the bush,” but that’s far from the truth. 
Our first male kudu visitor.
Marloth Park is adjacent to Kruger National Park, that this 3000 hectare (11.5 square miles), developed as a town in 1972, became a holiday haven for wildlife enthusiasts who wanted to experience living in the bush (bushveld in Afrikaans, the local language), being able to interact ever so gently with the many animals that have naturally habituated this area.
We’ve heard that 4000 lots had been divided over the years, and there are varying opinions on how many houses have actually been built in these past 46 years. Our host, Danie, a builder, presumes there are about 2300 houses in Marloth Park.
Mr. Kudu certainly enjoyed his share of pellets after he finished off everything we’d left on the dirt driveway.  Once he left, we restocked.
Other than the houses in the area and a few minimal-offering shops and a petrol station, Marloth Park remains pristine in its attempt to maintain a less touristy-feeling environment while providing its homeowners and visitors with a life-changing experience.
Sure, we could find a home in the savannah, somewhere in the bush in Africa, where wildlife roamed about the house. In that case, we wouldn’t have the ease of living all of us expect in our day to day lives; electricity; air-con for sleeping; Wi-Fi, running water, sewer systems, garbage pickup, and all those amenities many of us have come to anticipate as a part of everyday life.
What a muscular animal!
We’re not 20 years old, hauling a backpack and sleeping in a tent for the rich experience one of this age might find enticing in their pursuit of personal growth.
However, even in our age group, we reap the benefits offered by this stunning environment, of peacefulness, wonder, and the sheer joy of our surroundings and yet have all of the above conveniences we’ve come to expect and, maybe at our ages, need to be comfortable to some degree.
This adult female bushbuck stops by several times a day.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a piece of cake living here. It’s a half-hour drive to a supermarket or pharmacy. And if one needs emergency medical care, it’s still that same 30-minute drive which would be a matter of life or death in the event of a bite from a black mamba (snake) even we had seen in these parts only four years ago (and most likely will see again).

It’s hot and humid most of the time. There are insects like none others we’ve seen anywhere in the world. The power goes out more often than in most places, often due to careless tourists failing to be mindful of the size of the limited power grid in this area. 

While at the shopping center yesterday, these students were cheering and singing after a fabulous photo safari in  Kruger Park as part of a school project.

And, the mozzies come out at dusk bringing with them a rash of dangerous diseases. This time we aren’t taking malaria pills. None of our friends take them that live here off and on throughout the year.  

The possible fourteen months we’ll be in Africa is just too long to be taking the drugs. Instead, we’re using repellent day and night with a maximum of 35% DEET, which has been determined to be safe.

When this pretty young lady spotted us with a camera, she asked if we’d take her photo.  When we handed her a card with our web address, she thrilled us to post her photo.  Her name is Sonto Zwene. We hope she has an opportunity to see herself here. What a lovely girl!

The staff in Marloth Park come from many surrounding areas. Many arrive each day by bus or sharing the  Rarely do any of them live in the park. The exception is those who may be live-in support staff.  Even Martha, our full-time housekeeper who lives in a little house on the property, frequently leaves the area to visit family and friends.  

These kindly, warm and friendly people definitely enhance the quality of our experiences living in Marloth Park. A warm hug is as common as a hearty hello. Although most speak Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu, many speak English sufficient to communicate easily.

More Helmeted Guinea Fowl. We love these turkey-like birds with colorful heads.

Yesterday, we drove to Komatipoort for the second time since our arrival to find a few groceries items we hadn’t been able to find the first time. Also, we replaced the HDMI cord, but we’re still having trouble with the signal from my laptop to the TV. We’ll work on this later today.

While in town, we stopped at a pharmacy to discover I won’t need to order refills of my few prescriptions from afar. They carry each of my three meds over-the-counter, without a new prescription, making the process convenient.

“The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas due to a declining habitat, deforestation, and poaching. The greater kudu is one of two species commonly known as kudu, the other being the lesser kudu.”

Yesterday the temperature was a high of 100F (38C). In the evening, after our delicious dinner, we stayed indoors. The two air con units in the high vaulted ceiling living room couldn’t cool it down. It was toasty, but we managed. Today, it’s partially cloudy and much cooler.

We’ve already had several visitors this morning and look forward to more as the day progresses.

Have a beautiful day! 

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2017:

Boats in the bay on the Huon River in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Sightseeing at a most unusual place…Today is our 2000th post!…More on that in tomorrow’s post

This scene at La Recoleta Cemetery particularly caught our eye.

We decided it was time to go sightseeing again. With the days dwindling until we depart Buenos Aires (one week from today) and confusing packing ahead of us when we’re leaving the majority of our clothing and supplies behind at the Prodeo Hotel to pick up after the cruise,, we knew we wanted to get out one more time.

A few included a statue of the deceased, especially those of political or cultural significance.

We reviewed all of the possibilities deciding the La Recoleta Cemetery, one of the most interesting cemeteries globally, would be our top choice. If anywhere in Buenos Aires bespoke history and culture, this would be the place to visit.

The entrance to La Recoleta Cemetary is located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Taking a taxi to the Recoleta neighborhood made the most sense rather than figuring out bus schedules. At a distance of only 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from our hotel, it resulted in a 20-minute taxi ride through heavy midday traffic at the cost of US $14.34 (ARS 270) for the round trip, including tip

As soon as we began the walk through the cemetery, we knew it would be an unusual experience from other cemeteries we’ve visited in other countries.

The driver dropped us off at the entrance to the cemetery (no entrance fee is charged for this venue), and the moment we peered beyond the door, we knew we were in for a treat. We’ve often visited cemeteries in different parts of the world when it provides us with an interesting perspective on the culture of generations often going back hundreds of years.

La Recoleta Cemetery was no exception. Here’s is the link to some fascinating information about this proud heritage for the people of Argentina, which is also a popular tourist attraction.

The blue sky and fluffy clouds were an excellent backdrop for our photos.

Upon entering the massive facility, it wasn’t easy to decide which direction to take when it was laid out compared to a neighborhood/network of interlocking streets. Each monument consists of a unique historical story, design, and architecture, almost like “homes.”

Many of the mausoleums had simple lines and designs, while others were ornate.

In essence, there are “homes” for the dead where they’ll rest for hundreds of more years to come. From time to tie, we encountered the mausoleums/crypts that were crumbling from age and were in the process of repair. 

Others were aged and degenerating, with perhaps no family members remaining. If so, those would want to or could afford to bear the expense of rebuilding the ornate structures housing their ancestor/ancestors.

Each mausoleum has its own story to tell.

Many were family crypts with the surname emblazoned across the top or entrance to the massive structures.  What is particularly unique about La Recoleta Cemetery is the fact that all it contains are mausoleums.  

Here’s more information about the cemetery from this site:
“La Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio de la Recoleta) is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos AiresArgentina. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perónpresidents of ArgentinaNobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries,[ and in 2013, it was listed among the ten most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in this area, then the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar), built-in 1732. The order was disbanded in 1822, and the garden of the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires. Inaugurated on 17 November of the same year under Cementerio del Norte (Northern Cemetery),  those responsible for its creation were the then-Governor Martin Rodríguez, who would be eventually buried in the cemetery, and government minister Bernardino Rivadavia. The 1822 layout was done by French civil engineer Próspero Catelin, who also designed the current facade of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral.[ The cemetery was last remodeled in 1881, while Torcuato de Alvear was mayor of the city, by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo

There are only a few mausoleums of this style with varying structures for various family members.

Set in 5.5 hectares (14 acres), the site contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in various architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Neo-Gothic, and most materials used between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs were imported from Paris and Milan.

Many of the mausolea appeared as small churches.

The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums. These mausoleums are still being used by affluent families in Argentina with their own vault and keep their deceased there. While many of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained, others have fallen into disrepair. Several can be found with broken glass and littered with rubbish. Among many memorials are works by notable Argentine sculptors Lola Mora and Luis Perlotti, for instance. The tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, due to its unusual design, is of particular interest.”

Many of the streets appeared as a city block, neatly arranged.

While roaming through the network of “streets,” we met a lovely couple from Australia and chatted with them for a while.  They were equally in awe of the cemetery and also enthralled when we shared a little about our love of their people and their continent after spending over two years in and around Australia. 

With mausoleums added over varying centuries, the blocks were often of varying sizes and widths, as in this very narrow walkway.

Besides our English-speaking hotel staff, we’ve had little opportunity to converse with English-speaking people while out and about. And, in this particular area of Palermo, there are considerably fewer tourists than in other parts of Buenos Aires.

We gave them one of our business cards when they’d asked to read about our many experiences in Australia.  Then, last night while waiting in the queue for “40% off-happy-hour” at La Cabrera, we met another lovely young couple from Ireland who was on a four-month honeymoon after getting married close to Christmas. They were thrilled to hear we’d be spending three months in their country upcoming in spring/summer 2019.

There are statues atop most of the structures indicative of the deceased’s religious and spiritual beliefs.

Back at our hotel after dark, we grabbed my computer and headed to the hotel bar where we watched an episode of “Top of the Lake.” as it turned out, the four of us shared a table at the restaurant and had a lovely dinner together. It couldn’t have been more enjoyable. , There wasn’t another hotel guest to be seen.

A few were not the traditional grey stone exterior, as the case of this dark green structure.

After a very fitful night’s sleep warranting a 20-minute nap later this afternoon, we’re content to stay put today (until dinner) while continuing to research vacation/holiday home rentals for our upcoming lengthy itinerary.

It was equally interesting for us to see the older, more weathered mausoleums.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of Evita (Eva) Perrone’s mausoleum, which most visitors flock to when visiting La Recoleta Cemetery. It was a good day. Please check back tomorrow for more.

We want to mention a little more about today being our 2000th post in tomorrow’s post! We can’t believe it!  Can you?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2017:

The scenery in Hobart, Tasmania, was breathtaking. We returned to Hobart, a 40-minute drive from our vacation home in the Huon Valley, at a later day for more photos. For more photos, please click here.

Tolerance and patience in the big city…

We haven’t seen it in a newsstand like this in a long time.

It’s not always sunshine and roses, although it may seem so for our occasional readers. We don’t always feel like sightseeing, traveling in taxis through all-day-long-rush-hour traffic.

Wherever we are at any given time, it is where we live. Do you feel like sightseeing in your town on hot and humid days when you know a 10-minute drive can turn into 45 minutes in near-stopped traffic?

Interesting buildings on Santa Fe St. in Palermo Soho.

The only time I recall we ever went sightseeing in our old lives in Minnesota was when visitors came to town and stayed with us, having a confident expectation of seeing the world-renowned Mall of America, the Como Zoo, or the popular Minnehaha Falls. 

Public transportation is readily available in Buenos Aires by bus and underground.

Here in Buenos Aires, we find ourselves with little interest in visiting the popular tourist attractions, waiting in long queues, or bumping into people who don’t care to cooperate in the sharing of making space on the sidewalk as we attempt to pass.

There’s a bit of pushing and shoving, which we’d rather avoid. Although most service staff in hotels, shops, and restaurants are ultra friendly and helpful, we’ve found the passing locals on the streets on a mission uninterested in idle chatter with us or certain courtesies one may find in some other parts of the world.

It took us over an hour to walk back to the neighborhood of the Prodeo Hotel.

Then again, we’ve observed only a handful of tourists in the Palermo area and certainly few in our age range. In essence, we don’t necessarily fit into this fast-paced Buenos Aires lifestyle. That’s our reality, not theirs. 

Flower vendor on the street.  The rose bouquets are ARS 120, priced at only US $6.46.

We’ve never favored big cities, primarily for these reasons. “Too much of everything” prevails; people walking while texting or talking on a phone or to a companion while bumping into passersby; horns honking; loud talking and yelling in public venues; a sense of disorder and commotion, we’d prefer to avoid.

Are we nothing but “fuddy-duddies” set in our ways?  Perhaps, yes. But, place us in the bush, waiting for an hour for a herd of elephants to clear the road, making loud noises and sharing “their lifestyle and demeanor” upon us, we’re in heaven. 

Government building.

I suppose it’s all relative. We’re all entitled to like what we like and scoff at what may not be so appealing.  Does that make us intolerant? If we’re annoyed by someone talking during the movie at a theater, make us intolerant? Are we intolerant if we’re agitated during standstill traffic on the freeway when we’re in a rush to get somewhere?

Interesting architecture.

Not necessarily. Even our dogs or cats may become impatient with us when we don’t fill their food bowl quickly enough or hand them the treat their anticipating. It’s all part of the “human and animal” condition. Impatience.  Intolerance.

No one is so “nice” they’re not impacted by the annoyances of daily life, especially in a big city. Otherwise, one might question their link to reality. Through this past over five years of world travel, we’ve found ourselves exercising a greater degree of patience and tolerance than we may have in our old lives.

Most of the historical buildings are apartments.

We never want to be the “ugly America” so much despised in certain parts of the world. There was a movie, a book, and an adult animated series with this nomenclature.  

We make a special effort to avoid complaining, whinging, or objecting negatively in situations we find uncomfortable, trying, or annoying. Even Tom, who on travel days can be “overly grumpy,” has the desire and ability to contain his frustration on such occasions.

Clown painting on the left and Statue of Liberty on the right.

Overall, we prefer to avoid situations that cause us undue stress. Isn’t that one of the reasons we left our old lives behind to find joy and contentment in the exploration and adventure of an entirely new life, in new places, befitting our objectives of nature, wildlife, and culture?

Also, there are many more modern buildings in the city.

You may say, “Isn’t culture found in big cities?” And you’d be right to a degree. But we’ve found the hustle and bustle in big cities with traffic, noise, and crowded sidewalks more about modern-day life than the essential culture of a people who, through history and generations, made their lives work without all of the modern distractions.

And so, our days and nights dwindle to our next adventure, Antarctica, where the biggest distractions will be wildlife, beauty, and nature mixed in with wild seas, inclement weather, and getting soaked on Zodiac boat rides. We can easily handle all of that!

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2017:

A  rainbow over the ocean in Penguin, Tasmania. Looking carefully, Tom spotted a second lighter rainbow to the far left, difficult to see in this photo. Be well. For photo photos, as we wound down our time in Penguin, please click here.

Culture, fun facts, odd facts and superstitions in Costa Rica… on Friday, the 13th…More historical photos…

In Costa Rica…could this be one of the first Foosball/football/soccer games?

 “Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Another little bird was lost when hitting the glass wall on the veranda.  There are Audubon Society approved stickers on the glass but still, birds still fly into the glass, some of which recover and others which do not, such as this.  It’s always heartbreaking for us to see this happen.

Each country has its own superstitions along with those of various cultures and religious affiliations which ultimately influence the country as a whole.  Many include today’s date, Friday the 13th, as being a day of considerable risk and superstition. 


Here’s an interesting article dated today from Live Science that delves into the when and how this superstition was created.  Please click here for the story from this popular publication.

Mortar and pestle.

As we spend our remaining 40 days in Central America, we embarked on research to discover traditions, peculiarities, customs, and superstitions typical for the “Ticos” (native people of Costa Rica) and stumbled across this excellent collection of items we’d like to share with you today.

Here they are, thanks to this site:

Fun, Goofy, & Weird Stuff about Costa Rica

In any website like this, there are bound to be a bunch of silly, maybe irrelevant, but often interesting tidbits that simply do not fit well under another location… so here are the Odds and Ends.  Little known, but true… and generally useless… facts about Costa Rica!  If you live here… you probably have your own!  Send them to me and I’ll add them.

In absolutely no particular order….

  1. In Costa Rica, it is not uncommon to give coffee to babies (in their bottle, with milk) and to young children.  I found this astonishing!  Having had the “pleasure” of a two-year-old a few times in my life, I simply could not imagine a two-year-old on espresso!
  2. MANY Costa Ricans use their credit cards for everything. What do I mean by everything? Well… a newspaper, a candy bar, a pack of gum, etc. I mean things as low as just pennies in cost! It is truly bizarre to be in line behind a Tico and watch him whip out his card to make an eighteen cent purchase.
  3. MacDonald’s, Burger King and all the others have HOME DELIVERY in Costa Rica!  This is not a good thing if you are on a diet.
  4. Ticos are short-statured people in general. Therefore, chairs, couches etc are built about 6-8 inches (sometimes more) lower than furniture say from the USA. If you are tall, you will find that the act of just getting up is an effort. If you have a…ummm… a weight issue as does this writer, it is handy to have a helper nearby!
  5. Cigarettes are only about $1.65 per pack.  Another thing to place under the ‘not good’ category.
  6. Naming conventions are very different here.  Children take their father’s name but add their mother’s maiden name to their full name.  So when you see a name on a business card like Carlos Jose Gomez Guzman, this person name is Carlos Gomez and the Guzman is his mom’s maiden name.  Often this is abbreviated as an initial thus: Carlos Jose Gomez G. or even more commonly, Carlos Gomez G.

    Costa Rican women do not take their husband’s last name.  The woman uses her full maiden name for life.  No changing of national ID cards, drivers licenses, etc.  She also adds her mother’s maiden name.

    Rarely now, women WILL use the old Spanish naming convention and add a  “de ” and her husband’s name.  Thus, Maria Gomez when she marries Carlos de la Torre, will become  Maria Gomez de La Torre.

    This system does not work well with most North American names, especially ethnic names and would be as dumb as all that hyphenating malarkey in the USA. Imagine Doris Kaspinski de Czezniekevich?

  7. If you should die while here, you are buried here on the same day you die… no embalming… nada.  They just plant you!   Everyone looks to see your obituary on TV several times per day!  (This can occur easily if you buy the cheap cigarettes and have your Big Macs sent to the home!).  More info click here.
  8. There are few street signs in Costa Rica and even fewer addresses.  Read that as almost none.  Just about all addresses are in terms of a well-known building or landmark; often the local Catholic Church, cemetery, or another fixed location.  But just to keep things interesting, some addresses are phrased in terms of building that may have burned down 20 years ago!  Also, when you see an address that says 200M west of something, that normally means 2 blocks and NOT a true 200 meters. Now is a good time to read about driving in Costa Rica.
  9. Diet Pepsi here tastes better than Diet Coke.
  10. Instead of saying “my other half”,  Ticos often refer to their significant other as their “media naranja” or the other half of their orange.
  11. Many (honey) bees in Costa Rica are of the Africanized variety i.e. killer bees.   The older species were bred out years ago.
  12. Tangerines are called mandarins (mandarines) here. Limes are limónes.  And you can’t buy lemons here… or at least I have never seen them.  So, if you want a lime, ask for a limón (lee-moan).
  13. Candy and cookies manufactured here are to Tico tastes and have a LOT less sugar (and maybe fat) and thus a lot less flavor.  If you have a sweet tooth, it can still be satiated as nearly all the popular candy from the US (I am a Snickers freak), is available.  However, if you’re a cookie lover, your pretty well outta luck.  Not much available except Oreos and a handful of others.

    Also, non-sugary drink mixes like Crystal Light is not available, so if the Crystal Light folks read this, I would like Lemonade, Grapefruit, Orange, and Citrus Splash, please!

  14. Locks (houses, gates, etc.) in Costa Rica almost always work (turn) backward.
  15. We say in English “She had a baby” or “She gave birth”, but in Spanish, it’s, “Ella dio a luz” or translated, “She gave light.” Perhaps more accurately, “She gave light to her baby” indicating that she brought the baby from the darkness of the womb to the light of day.
  16. Want another one? Bienes raices is the word for Real Estate. Bienes means property or possessions and raices means roots. So there you have “property roots!”. Gives meaning to the expression “laying down roots”.
  17. Front doors of almost all commercial establishments almost always open INWARDS. This is against every fire code in the USA, but here, perhaps because they have never had a tragedy in which hundreds died because the door could not be opened outwards, there is no such code. As you have become “programmed” to Pull when entering and Push when leaving, plan to feel silly as you tug or push in the wrong direction.
  18. If you go to the immigration office for any reason or to the police station for fingerprinting (as part of your residency), do NOT wear shorts!  They will turn you away!  Shorts are considered disrespectful. Update 2009! Read This
  19. There are Bullfights in Costa Rica, but the bull is never hurt and often, the bull wins!  I love payback!  Read more here.
  20. Milk, eggs, and many other items that you have been trained all your life to refrigerate are available off the shelf (un-refrigerated) at almost every supermarket.  This, of course, flies in the face of everything you have learned about storing these products, but I have bought them every week for the past four years and I have never been sick, nor has anyone I have ever met. Go figure.
  21. The word for HOT, in Spanish, is caliente.  Caliente begins with a “C”.  Water faucets imported from the USA almost all have a “C” on them.  If your Hot Water never seems to get HOT in Costa Rica, try the handle with the  “C”.  Note, this may change from bathroom to bathroom within the same house!
  22. Ants are everywhere here, and they outnumber us about a zillion to one.  You will have two real choices as I see it!  Spend about all of your entire life trying to kill them all… or just realize they will be part of your diet while living here!  The tiny ones are flavorless, and probably add a tiny bit of protein to the diet!  The bigger one’s crunch.
  23. You will see a LOT of folks carrying machetes… those really long, sharp knives.  You see this especially in the country and areas away from San José.  The machete is the Costa Rican equivalent of Duct Tape.  It is used for everything, but almost never as a weapon… so relax!!
  24. Chinese food tastes funny in Costa Rica.  Not BAAAAD… just funny!  I am also not hungry an hour after I eat Chinese food here.
  25. Burger Kings here taste just like Burger Kings in the US.  MacDonald’s do not.  Colonel Sanders is better here. So is Diet Coke.
  26. Generally, meat is kinda crummy here.  Just not enough fat cows.  Thankfully, the Peruvians and the Brazilians have arrived to open restaurants where you can get a good piece of meat.
  27. Costa Rica is smart enough NOT to export all the good coffee!  This is meaningful if you have ever lived in Idaho and wanted a good baked potato.
  28. In many countries, pedestrians have rights.  Drivers must yield to them or suffer the consequences.  In Costa Rica, the Spanish word for a pedestrian is “Target”.  Be real careful when walking around… especially in San José and especially at street corners.
  29. At 7 AM every morning, most if not all Costa Rica radio stations broadcast the exact same program.  It begins with the Costa Rican National Anthem and provides the government and other authorized entities a way to send messages or information nationwide.
  30. The meter in a taxicab is known as the Maria… apparently a loose reference to the Virgin Mary and her presumed honesty.
  31. We call them Speed bumps!  To Costa Ricans, son muertos…  or in English… “(they are) dead persons”.
  32. I get asked a lot about all the street vendors who wait at the traffic lights to sell you stuff.  Everyone wants to know if this is a rip-off and if the food will kill you.  Well, I buy stuff from those folks all the time… mostly because these folks work their butts off trying to make a living.

    As for buying food, I know a lot of folks that do.   I do not.  Just not sure about the cleanliness of the kitchens used to prepare the stuff.

  33. Nearly all Catholic Churches in Costa Rica face to the WEST.  This is a handy thing to know as if you read #4 above, you know that knowing directions is critical and that many addresses in CR are based on distance and direction from those churches.
  34. Q. What about all those cute kids running around barefoot and begging especially in San José?

    A. Many of them (sadly) are put out on the streets to beg by their parents.  They are pros at giving you the sad eye thing.  Often their shoes are hidden in a nearby bush.  Now saying that some are really desperate.  How do you know?  You don’t.  And now you have a problem!

    My suggestion is to do nothing, but that is really hard for some folks, so if you just HAVE to do something, here is a suggestion to do ONLY if you are in a very public location with many people around. Offer to take them to get something to eat.  NEVER EVER do this when you are in your car or alone.  NEVER touch them in any way.  NEVER let them get into your car as Costa Ricans seem to think all North Americans are here for sex transactions with children, and it would be really easy to get into serious problems if a child gets into your car.

    However, if you are walking, and there is a nearby soda (small restaurant), you can ask if they are hungry, then walk with them to the soda.  The really hungry kids will want to eat.  The pros will not.  They want money. AGAIN! Do not touch them in any way.  Let them order, you pay, then you leave.  If they refuse, just walk away and offer nothing.

    I am SURE someone will disagree with me on this, and with some justification, but I have a tough time as many of them REALLY look like they could use a meal.  Just be real careful!  A LOT of them are drug users even at very tender ages.  The best and safest thing, sadly, is to do nothing.

  35. Q. I see painted designs on some highways and streets.  They look like a big gold or yellow heart with a crack in it.  Sometimes there are hearts with halos.  What are they?

    A. Broken hearts.  These are painted on the road where someone lost their life.  When you approach an intersection or a road that has a bunch of these painted, drive more cautiously.

As for today, our lovely cleaner Isabel is here spending no less than eight hours working both indoors and on the veranda.  Although we’re very tidy and clean up after ourselves, sweeping the floor, doing our own laundry and dishes and leaving no clutter behind, there’s lots of dust and insect residue typical for this part of the world.

Some type of washing machine?

When she enters the house each week we both jump up to hug her with a mix of English and Spanish gibberish we can all manage.  Her sweet smelling perfume permeates the air for hours after she’s left reminding us of her, along with the fine cleaning job she does in eight hours of backbreaking work.

Handmade masks for Halloween and other festivities.

We’re so grateful to have her services once each week which is included in our monthly rent, along with Ulysses’s meticulous lawn and grounds care and  Balfour, the delightful Tuesday pool guy who always smiles and warmly greets us.  None of these fine locals speak English but somehow we manage to communicate.

Could this have been a copy or printing machine?

These past two gloriously sunny days (it rains later in the afternoon) we spent hours in the pool and hope to so do again today.  It’s such a good time for both of us while we’ll chatter endlessly reliving stories of our lives before we knew one another after we met and over this past almost five years of world travel. 

More Costa Rica masks.

We’re also grateful and continue to be humbled by our lives together and the world around us, its cultures, it’s beliefs and even its superstitions.  Today, we expect another relatively uneventful day interspersed with bird sightings and gentle musings with our Spanish speaking helpers.

May your Friday the 13th be pleasant and relatively uneventful.


Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2016:

In Bali, from the veranda, a muddy white horse was getting a bath in the river.  For more photos, please click here.

More photos…The museum at Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Atenas… Another power outage…

Juan Ramon showed us a railroad calendar. As Tom went though the pages, month by month, he was excited to find this page with the Great Northern Railway (photo from 1964). In the background is the Mississippi River, the Hennepin Ave Bridge and behind it, the Great Northern Railroad Bridge.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

In this photo, taken yesterday before the big storm, the mountains almost appear as a tidal wave.  Freaky.

Yesterday afternoon, about 30 minutes prior to our plan to walk down the steep road to a neighbor’s home who’d generously offered to take us with her to the restaurant where the rock and roll fiesta was being held from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, a downpour occurred of such magnitude that we decided not to go. 

The rain didn’t let up for hours.

Juan and his family in this old photo.

Not wanting to inconvenience her by asking her to come get us in the downpour, coupled with our lack of interest in getting soaked and the consideration that many others may have decided to stay home anyway, made staying in an easy decision.

Juan Ramon photo as he became in charge of managing the historic depot.

Moments after we notified the kindly neighbor that we wouldn’t be coming, the power went out during a close flash of lightning. This was around 3:00 pm. Unfortunately,  shortly before the power outage, I’d been using my laptop to watch a Netflix movie without using the power supply. 

The depot in the early 1900’s.

Subsequently, my battery was partially drained, leaving me with only a few hours of use remaining should the power not come back on. Again, I reminded myself of the recent hurricanes in the US and the thousands that continue to be without power, including thousands whose homes were uninhabitable due to the devastation from the storms. A short-term outage here in Costa Rica is nothing, comparatively.

The walls in this area were covered in old railroad photos.

My phone’s battery was half drained as well. Tom’s laptop was fully charged so if we were stuck in the dark all evening, we could use his laptop to watch a movie as opposed to sitting in the dark. There are only a few candles in the villa. All of our books are on our phones on Kindle apps.

Train arriving at the station in late 1800’s or early 1900’s.

I knew my laptop wouldn’t make it through one entire movie so I used our portable hard drive, plugged it into my laptop and downloaded several shows and movies. This way I could transfer them to Tom’s laptop where we could watch them there if need be.

In 1926, a tragic derailment resulted in the death of 14 passengers and crew.

At this point, Tom decided to take a nap, a rare occurrence for him. He laid down on the comfy bed and in minutes, was sound asleep. I wandered about the house, looking for something to read.

Many photos of the 1926 derailments lined the walls of the museum.

Although some vacation/holiday homes have somewhat of a “library” along with puzzles and games,  this particular property had only one paperback book, a military-type thriller in the desk drawer. I picked it up and began reading.

Axel and wheels of an old cart as shown in above old photo. Not all items in the museum were related to the railroad.

I hadn’t read a paper book in years. Even in our old lives, years ago I began reading books online, long before it was popular to do so. I loved the technology and simplicity of always having my “book” with me wherever I might be. Now, due to weight and space restrictions, neither of us ever carries a paper book.

The museum was a hodgepodge of antique items, including these tools and handmade masks.

The book kept me busy for the half hour Tom dozed. He awoke with a start asking if the power had returned. With not much to do and with it still pouring rain, we walked around the house, staring out in the sheer wonder of how it can rain so much day after day. Thank goodness for the usually sunny mornings.

By 4:30, we decided we may as well make dinner since it’s usually dark by 6:00 pm, hopefully only opening the refrigerator a few times until the power came back on. We busied ourselves in the kitchen.  Luckily, I’d already done most of the prep for the meal earlier in the day. 

When planning to go out to the music fest we figured it would be best to have a meal ready to cook in the event the food at the restaurant wasn’t suitable for my way of eating. 

Railroad switch locks.

We had Asian burger patties ready to cook (luckily the range runs on propane gas); a salad made and ready for dressing; vegetables to throw into a pot of water on the stove.  Dinner would be easy to prepare without electricity.

As for keeping the refrigerated food cold, Tom had been saving ice in the bottom bin of the freezer in a large plastic bag. He had enough ice to keep the refrigerated products cold overnight, if necessary.  If the power didn’t come back on the next day, we could begin eating everything in the freezer. We had a plan. 

Old seats from a passenger train.

By 5:15 we were seated at the dining room table with our plates of food in front of us, while we watched an episode of Master Chef. If the power didn’t come back on overnight, we had it covered.

Just about the time we’d finished our meal and the show ended, the lights flashed when the power came back on. We looked at each other, smiled and jumped up starting to clear the table. As always, Tom washed the dishes while I busied myself with other cleanup tasks.

Tom wrote in the guestbook as he often does as we travel the world.

By the time darkness fell, we made our way to the screening room, selecting a few shows on Netflix to watch until bedtime. Sure, we were disappointed not to go out with our neighbor but we do have other social plans on the horizon.

As for today’s photos, enjoy these museum treasures that Juan Ramon excitedly shared with us as we toured through the dusty old museum on the grounds of the railway depot. He was delightful and we appreciated every moment he spent with us.

Soon, Tom will watch the Minnesota Vikings game on the app on his laptop with the HDMI cord plugged into the huge flat screen TV while I prepare tonight’s meal. It’s a typical Sunday in the life of retirees.

Gee…I just might get back into that paper book!

Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2016:

What a lovely family in their colorful holiday clothing as they walk to a local shrine with their offerings. Gede, our house man in Bali, stopped by for a visit with his wife and two daughters.  hey have since added a son to their family after we left almost a year ago.  For more details please click here.