Visit to a dentist in South Africa…More excitement at “home”…Remembering a friend in the “Photo from one yea ago”…

At the reception desk, from left to right is Dr. Luzaan, assistants Daleen and Melanie.  They can be reached at 061 608 9323 for appointments.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Male impalas who rarely visit our yard stopped by last night for a few pellets.  They’re very shy and any sudden movement will make them dash off in a hurry.  During the mating season, they bark when claiming their territory among other males.  It’s a sound like no other sound we’ve heard in the bush.

As we drove through Kruger National Park two days ago, several times over a period of three or fours hours, I felt a sharp pain in my right bottom molar.  It was over three months ago while we were on the Antarctica cruise, that a temporary filling I’d had in Costa Rica finally fell out.

When we’d gone to the dentist in Costa Rica (click here for details) for some reason I didn’t feel right having the dentist entirely replace the chipped filling.  Instead, I asked for a temporary filling knowing in time, something else would have to be done.  

The spotless waiting room in Dr. Luzaan Du Preez dental office located two doors from Wimpy’s in the Spar Shopping Centre in Komatipoort.

Once the temporary filling was in place, I didn’t give it another thought until it fell out during dinner while on the cruise.  Since there was no pain or discomfort, just a gaping hole in the tooth, I’d figured that in time I’d get it repaired. 

The well-equipped modern treatment room was the most sophisticated we’d seen in years with the latest and most professional equipment.

Oh, good grief.  I don’t like medical stuff.  But, if we still lived in the US, from time to time we’d go to a dentist, a doctor, an ophthalmologist or others for a wide variety of aches, pains, and illnesses that befall us at any age.  No one is exempt from these issues.

When we returned from the dentist appointment and grocery shopping in Komatipoort, there were many zebras hanging around the yard.  Of course, we gave them pellets, apples, and carrots.

Unfortunately, living outside our home country and unsure of the quality of medical care in many countries, taking care of medical issues is fraught with a certain degree of fear and apprehension. 

Warthogs are always lurking in the bush, waiting for other animals to stop by so they can partake in the pellet offerings.  No wonder they are called wart “hogs.” There were five zebras munching.

Are things sterile?  Will we “catch” something in the doctor’s office?  Is the doctor educated sufficiently to handle our concerns or do they just do “cookie cutter” treatment for all of their patients.  One never knows. 

As we’ve worked with Dr. Theo Stronkhorst in Komatipoort for our vaccination boosters and my gastro issues, we’ve felt totally confident in his care.  His knowledge and attention to detail are impeccable.

Then, there were seven zebras.

Yesterday’s appointment with Dr. Luzaan made us both feel the same way, resulting in our booking appointments to have our teeth cleaned on May 3rd.  What an exceptional dentist! Plus, the entire bill including x-rays was only ZAR 625, (US $50.28)!

She took x-rays of my tooth to discover it has a crack most likely from grinding my teeth at night which I’ve done all of my life.  She explained that the filling she replaced may not last forever, particularly if I eat anything hard to chew on that side.  In essence, the tooth may eventually need a root canal and crown.  I was in no mood for that right now or at any time in the near future.

Zebras have a tendency to stay close to one another due to their distinctive stripes acting as a point of confusion to predators, although in Marloth Park generally there are no predators.  Although, recently lions have been sighted.

She gently repaired the filling without anesthetic (to which I jumped only a few times) and we were off to the grocery store, meat market and biltong store for the foodstuffs we need over the next week.

Another holiday is on the horizon and once again Marloth Park will be packed with tourists.  We won’t be returning to Kruger until the holiday is over after the weekend.  We hear it’s the “May Day” holiday which wasn’t particularly celebrated in the US in our old lives.  Instead, we celebrated “Labor Day” on the first Monday in September.

They stayed around for quite a while, occasionally tossing a kick toward a warthog who honed in on their treats.

By 3:00 pm, we were back home, put away all the groceries and settled in on the veranda to a busy night in the bush.  We used the gas grill to make pork chops for Tom and lamb for me along with bacony green beans and homemade low carb almond flour muffins, a real treat when warmed and topped with butter. 

Several times during dinner we had to jump up to accommodate visitors.  But, we don’t mind.  A cold plate of food is just fine as long as we can spend time with the animals who stop by day and night, always making us smile.

Enjoy your day and evening! 


Photo from one year ago today, April 25, 2017:

It was one year ago today, that we posted a story and this photo (not ours) about our friend and loyal reader Glenn who passed away a few days earlier.  It’s with love, respect, and reverence that we recall his memory and post this photo once again as we think of Glenn and his lovely wife Staci with whom we’ve stayed in close touch. For the full story, please click here.

Another inconvenience…Life in the world…

We jumped for joy when we came across this Iguana, especially when taking photos without a chain link fence impeding the view.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

One of these cows moos so loud several times a day it’s ear-splitting, which also makes us laugh out loud.

A few days after our dental appointments on August 21st, while eating a relatively easy to chew casserole-type dinner, I gasped when I felt something metal in my mouth. Much to my surprise, one of my dental crowns fell out from the last tooth on the bottom left.

This is an Emu we spotted at Zoo Ave, the aviary we visited in the Central Valley.

I put it aside until after dinner when I read online about how to handle such an incident. At that point, I remembered I’d initially been packed a small tube of dental glue/adhesive used for these exact types of situations. Over these past years of world travel, we’d never had a reason to use the glue.

He posed nicely for us, seemingly unperturbed by our proximity.

Immediately, I opened our blue medical/dental/supplies suitcase to find the little tube unopened in its original packaging with instructions. Perfect. I brushed my teeth and the crown and attempted to fit in its place, as instructed before placing the glue on the crown. This was to prevent the possibility of putting it in the wrong way while using the glue.

As soon as I attempted to fit it in place, it became so stuck. I couldn’t pull it back out. Humm…I’d read that sometimes you can re-seat a crown without glue, and it will stay, possibly for years to come.  I liked that idea. As much as I tugged and pulled, it wouldn’t come out. OK, leave it be, I thought.

A face only a mother could love. But for us, we love every creature, finding beauty in their often peculiar appearances.

It felt as if it was seated correctly, fitting comfortably. Within a few hours, I forgot all about it. Most likely, we assumed, it had been jarred loose during the strong teeth cleaning on the 21st. 

Last night, Alas was eating meatloaf, again, an easy to chew item, it fell out once again. This time, I decided to follow the instructions on the package and glue it back in myself. After dinner, I brushed my teeth and cleaned the crown. This time, I’d open the box and poke a pin into the tinfoil opening of the tiny tube when reversing the cap, and using that piercing tool didn’t seem to work.

An Emu at rest.

After poking at it several times, I discovered, much to my dismay, that the glue was completely dried out. It wasn’t surprising it had dried out entirely. After all, I’d had the thing since 2012. At this point, I had two options; one, to re-seat it once again, hoping it would stick or, go to a dentist to get it done professionally. 

I had no intention of returning to the dentists in San Jose. It was too far away, hard to find, and required a long wait. We’d try to find an appointment with one of the few dentists here in Atenas. It wasn’t as if I’d need lots of skilled dental work to glue this back on. I could have done it myself if I’d had the proper glue on hand.

This chick’s fluffy, molting feathers made us smile as we recalled the Laysan Albatross chicks in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015.

The next challenge was to communicate with the Spanish-speaking only receptionist when I called one of the few dentists here in Atenas, one that had more activity in google and no seeming bad reviews, actually no reviews at all. 

I looked up the Spanish words for “crown fell out,” which translates to “la corona de cayó” and managed to figure out that I have an appointment today, “hoy,” at 2:00 pm, “dos en puento.” Whew!

Another Emu in the natural habitat.

We sure took the simplicity of our old lives in the USA for granted!  Crown falls out? No worries. Call, email, or text the dentist’s office for an easy and quick appointment. When there’s any type of medical or dental issue in a non-English speaking environment, a solution becomes tricky.

Besides, we didn’t have to use the navigation to find our dentist’s office in our old life. We’d been there at least twice a year for cleanings and whatever other miscellaneous procedures we had performed over the years.

At around 10:00 am this morning, we’ll call a taxi to pick us up and take us to Supermercado Coopeatenas to grocery shop. We’d had enough food on hand to last for nine days, and now it’s time to restock. While I shop, at 11:00 am, the Thrifty car rental guy will arrive at the market’s outdoor cafe to drop off our five-day rental car, which we’ll return to the exact location at the same time on Saturday morning. 

What a large and beautiful hawk.

At that point, we’ll run the groceries back to the villa, unpack and put it all away while I get a bit of a head start on making tonight’s low-carb lasagne. At 1:30 pm, we’ll head back out for the 2:00 pm dental appointment leaving ourselves ample time to find the clinic and park the car in the congested downtown Atenas area.

We’d hope to go sightseeing today, but we’ll save it for tomorrow, weather permitting, and other days over the remainder of the week based on the timing. So there it is, folks, another minor issue in the lives of these world travelers. But, as many of our readers often say, it’s the trivialities of our daily lives that pique their curiosity as well as the “big” memorable events.

Have a great Monday or Tuesday (depending on where you are in the world)!

Photo from one year ago today, September 4, 2016:

The morning view in Bali, as I worked on the post by the cabana by the pool. For more photos, please click here.

All new photos of the interior of the villa…Making appointments and taking care of business…

The view of the main pool from the master bedroom. These sliding doors and others on the adjacent wall open wide with fine screens to keep out insects. It’s such a treat for us to have screens! The louvered slats above the sliding doors allow cool air to enter the room when the doors are closed.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This morning at 6:00 am as the clouds continued to roll in.

Since taking the above photo at 6:00 am this morning, the clouds and fog have rolled into a greater degree and we can’t see across the valley at 7:30 am as I sat down to begin posting.  The temperature is in the low 70F’s, (21C) but the humidity is high and everything feels sticky.

Other than the moisture we feel under our feet while gingerly walking barefoot on the somewhat slippery-when-wet tile floor of the veranda this type of weather doesn’t bother us a bit. 

The sauna/steam room is accessible via a door in the master en suite bathroom which also has a door leading out to the veranda to the cold plunge pool.

We have much more to face in the way of inclement weather in the many months to come, particularly in Antarctica and Africa upcoming in the next many months. 

As we observe today’s date of August 9th, we predict we’ll be landing in Mpumalanga Nelspruit-Kruger Airport six months from today or tomorrow, depending on which flight we choose.

This short walk from the sauna/steam room toward to the cold plunge pool for a refreshing event after the heat.

Now, reveling in this peaceful, relatively uneventful period in Costa Rica, as we spend time bird watching over the lush canopy of trees surrounding us, we’re on a mission to get a number of tasks accomplished that we’ve put off for awhile. 

Although neither of us is procrastinators, the nature of our lifestyle often leaves us prioritizing based on its level of importance and/or urgency.  Spending the last over two months in the US, left us little time or motivation to work on some of the project’s we’re mentioning today.

Even this hallway between the living room and screening room has ample closets and decor.

In the past 24 hours, we’ve handled the following appointments:
1.  Friday’s upcoming phone meeting with our accountant in order to get 2016’s taxes completed before October’s due date (we had to get an extension when the box of our documents was lost and later found).
2.  Dentist appointments for both of us on August 21st (a 45-minute drive from Atenas.
3.  A car rental for five days beginning on August 21st enabling us to drive ourselves the long distance.
4.  Found a hotel for the 31-nights in Buenos Aires from December 23, 2017, through January 23, 2018, plus one additional night when the Antarctica cruise ends on February 8th (after which we’ll fly to South Africa as indicated above).

Once the hotel booking for Buenos Aires is wrapped up at the corporate rate, we’ll share the details and the excellent pricing in what appears to be an ideal hotel for our needs over this extended period. 

The villa is not only tastefully decorated but has many useful special areas.

We don’t love staying in hotels for a month or more but we needed to be able to store our luggage since the round trips flights to Ushuaia Argentina where we’ll board the ship, have serious weight restrictions (smaller planes).

As for the dentist appointments, they’re long overdue.  The last time we had our teeth cleaned and checked was in Trinity Beach in July 2015.  Since that period, Tom had an abscessed tooth pulled (a wisdom tooth) in New Plymouth New Zealand in 2016.  At the time we couldn’t find a dentist that did cleaning or we could have had it done then.

This courtyard creates a pleasing entrance to the property!

Not only do we both desperately need a cleaning but Tom’s lost two fillings and I’ve lost one.  Neither of us cares to have more dental crowns so we’re hoping they can refill the teeth. 

Yesterday, we called and spoke and spoke to an English speaking staff member who explained it would be no problem to refill/repair the broken fillings.  They have nine English speaking dentists in the clinic and are highly rated by the expat community in Costa Rica.  This was quite a relief.  We’ll report back how this goes.

Fountain in the center courtyard.

It feels good to finally be addressing these issues.  That’s not to say we don’t have plenty of work ahead of us to get these items wrapped up but at least the ball is rolling after a lengthy period of distractions.

At the moment, Tom’s sitting in the screening room watching US news he found on the TV while I’m comfortably situated outdoors on the veranda on this cloudy damp day.  Perhaps, I’m preparing myself for spending entire days on the veranda as we contemplate doing the same upcoming in Marloth Park.  Bugs?  Snakes?  Heat?  Humidity?  Bring it on, baby!

Plants and flowers in the entrance center courtyard.

Enjoy the beginning of a series of interior photos of this amazing villa in Atenas, Costa Rica!

Happy day to all!


Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2016:

Memorial markers at a local cemetery in Phuket Thailand.  For more photos, please click here.

Day 11…Circumnavigation the Australian continent…Quite a day in US politics…Interesting email from a loyal reader…Medical emergency one year ago!…

A small rescue boat anchored to the side of the ship.

“Sightings on the Ship in Australia”

Not sure what this display is about… footballs of some sort?

With the election behind us, we can now return our focus to life aboard ship. That’s not to imply that our focus has diverted from having a great time. But it has been on the minds of most Americans and others worldwide for some time, and often the topic of conversation among our fellow passengers, both Americans, and Australians.

I’m looking forward to being able to read the posts and see photos of family, friends and readers on Facebook without the toxic vitriol espoused by those expressing their personal views of either candidate. 

At times over this past year, I’d considered giving up on FB, but its also been a great means of seeing family and friends photos and staying in touch across the miles of sea between us. 

Clothing for sale in one of the ship’s shops.

Hopefully, now and in the future, opinions will be focused on our own efforts to make the US and the world a better place with love, understanding and compassion in the forefront. Amid that, supporting our new President’s efforts will surely unite our country whether we agree with his plans and ideas at this time. Time will tell.

Speaking of our readers, yesterday we received this letter from a long time loyal reader Tom met long ago on another cruise. Of course, I asked her permission to post her letter to which she happily agreed. I’ve also included my response.

Please see below:

“Jessica, you and Tom have been our inspiration. 
We just sold our house and our things are about to be given away/stored for now. We have taken a severance package from our employer. 
Our plan is a 2 year adventure for now. I have been reading your blog since we briefly met Tom on Brilliance of the Seas TA (I have written before) a few years ago now. We begin in January. Our plan is similar to yours, avoiding flying, cruising to destinations and AirBnb etc., monthly stays in cities we like, along the cruise repositioning routes.  (Continued below).
Men’s clothing.
have learned a lot from your site. I still have not decided which direction we are going yet. I couldn’t plan as this all happened rather suddenly (sold our house while cruising to Australia lol). Any advice about direction?  Follow the sun in warm weather.. (Australia, New Zealand first, then Singapore to Dubai, then Suez canal to Europe) or do
South America followed with a Transatlantic with summer in Europe?
I hope you enjoy your Transpacific on Explorer of the Seas in April. We have done it both ways this year. If you ever make it to Pt Vila Vanuatu you must tour with Atmosphere tours and ask for a guide named Alfred – he is passionate about his culture and a fabulous guide. Best guide, we have ever had.
In closing, I wish you and Tom all the best and continued happy and healthy travel. The memories of the life you are leading mean more than all the “stuff” people have.
I hope we run into each other on a future cruise. Would love to chat.
Logo wear.
We replied as follows in bold type:
“Elaine, how excited we both were to see your message. We’re so excited for both of you embarking on your own adventure.
It’s not easy answering your questions when so much is predicated by what appeals to you both to see over the next two years. Our desires may be entirely different than yours.
We both believe your best guide is to make a list of where you’d like to visit and then using the world map, map it out so you don’t waste time and money jumping all over the globe.  (Continued below).
Perfume and cologne shop.

We don’t like big cities but you may. We no longer care if the weather is ideal. We’re looking for the experience.  We don’t care to live in apartments.  You may find this works for you.

Since our focus is wildlife and nature, you may find historic buildings more interesting. If we never enter another old building, we’ll be fine. But, Africa is calling us for another visit in 15 months.  Antarctica in on the schedule for 14 months. 
You see, how it’s so hard to say where and when to go. Our tastes are all so diverse and unique. But, I will say we’ve loved NZ and AU. By the time we leave the South Pacific for a 9 week family visit, we’ll have spent almost two years in this part of the world.
Thank you so much for reading our site. You have no idea how much it means to us if we’ve inspired you even one iota. We’d love to hear what you decided to do and wish we could be more helpful.
May I copy and paste your email to our site. We won’t use your names, but what a great story to share!
Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom
Tourist trinkets.

Then, Elaine responded again:
“Sure, go ahead and post my email Jess and Tom. Thank you for your responses. They actually do help a lot. We want to do Antarctica too, and the Northwest passage. We must see the pyramids in Egypt.   wo years probably won’t be enough, but as long as finances hold and we don’t get tired of travelling (not likely for us) we probably keep going. 

One more question for you.  Which are your favorite booking sites?  Vacations to Go?  For cruises…VRBO for bookings (have you had any bad experiences with bookings?)  Favorite Airlines (sometimes a necessary evil)?   Any favorite ways to save money…ie Airline Miles plans etc.  Diamond status is lovely isn’t it.  We just hit it on our last cruise and I expect it’ll be great.
Quote “You have no idea how much it means to us if we’ve inspired you even one iota”  (Continued  below)
Bargain tables with handbags.
Our whole idea for doing this began with the posts by Tom made on Cruise Critic which led us to your website, talking briefly to him and reading your words each morning before I go to work. We always intended to travel, as we do already now, but not to just cut loose and go. That cutting loose is what is enabling us to finance this trip by investing our money. 
The next 7 weeks are going to be crazy! We love Australia too, but have never been to New Zealand. I’m not sure what our focus is yet. We’ve seen many historic buildings already.  I love art and sculpture. My husband loves history. Wasn’t Petra amazing, but I could do without that walk in the heat!  I think we just want to go everywhere and see and experience as much as we can, while we can, make memories for when health fails us and have no regrets. So exciting to see all the wonders of the world we’ve heard about all our lives.
I’ll email our choices once I figure them out! Wish I had more time to plan, but what a wonderful conundrum to have!
So, Thank you both once again. You are changing our lives.
Scuba, beach and snorkeling products.
Our dear reader posed some excellent questions as shown in blue above from her most recent response. Due to space and time limitations today, we’ll answer the above questions in blue in tomorrow’s post. Please check back.
Have a beautiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2015:
One year ago, we visited the dentist in Fiji when Tom developed an abscessed tooth. The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD 6, USD $2.76, AU 3.60. The two antibiotic prescriptions were “free’ when we walked across the parking lot in the local hospital’s pharmacy. For the full story and photos, please click here.

Tom’s tooth abscess is resolved at last!…

Tom, standing outside Taylor Dental Practice in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Finally, Tom’s tooth abscess is resolved. After three months since the onset of the problem, two rounds of antibiotics, both of which gave him temporary relief, two trips to a dentist, one in Fiji in November, the other yesterday, it’s all over now.

“Dr. Dennis, the Dentist” at the Taylor Dental Practice in New Plymouth pulled his tooth after examining his x-rays and giving him three options for the tooth that had already had a crown:

The waiting room was comfortable and organized.

1. Root canal with a new crown at an expense of NZ $1500, US $1011
2. An implant that would take eight to nine months (out of the question, time-wise) 
3. Pull the tooth

It didn’t take long for us to decide. As the last tooth next to a wisdom tooth, losing the tooth wouldn’t result in a noticeable difference when he smiled or laughed. Who among us in the senior years hasn’t had at least one tooth pulled in their lifetime? This was a first for Tom.

There was plenty of reading material, but we didn’t wait long.

Tom has always had “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide) for all dental work, a practice that started when he was a young adult. This is seldom used in many countries and wasn’t available at Dr. Dennis’s location.

The tooth would be pulled with only a lengthy injection of Novocaine (Procaine) and out the tooth would come!  He hesitated when hearing there would be no nitrous oxide used. With reassurances from Dennis, the hygienist, and me, he decided to go ahead.

As shown in Tom’s x-ray, the gray area under the far-right crown is where the infection has been festering off and on.

I asked Dr. Dennis an important question before he began the procedure, “How long would it take to pull out the tooth?” He explained it would be over in less than one minute. Knowing this gave Tom a bit of comfort.  

We had visions of a dentist tugging and pulling, broken bits remaining behind, with the dentist using leverage to yank out a pesky tooth. Not the case. It was over in 10 seconds, not one minute. We were both surprised by how quickly the tooth, mushy in the gums, easily came out.

He still smiles, considering what was ahead.  The goggles are worn to protect the eyes in the event of any “flying” tooth matter during the extraction.

The look of relief on Tom’s face was evident when the dentist showed him the extracted tooth. It was over.  What a relief for him and for me who’d suffered along with him over two worrisome rounds of antibiotics and trips to the dentist. After a few instructions for care, we were out the door of the treatment room and off to pay the bill.

Considering the exam, the x-rays, the Novocaine injection, and the extraction, we expected a bill in the several hundred dollar range. Were we ever shocked when we were handed the bill for NZ $170, US $115? We couldn’t pay it quickly enough.

Dr. Dennis, the Dentist did a fine job, quick and painless.

No doubt this would have been much more costly in the US although not quite as good a deal as it may have been in Fiji at NZ $4.09, US $2.76 per dental appointment.  

In examining the sterilization at the two locations, we felt more at ease in New Zealand and we’re glad we waited, even though it cost Tom an extra round of antibiotics. That’s not to say the dental care in Fiji is inadequate but at their low prices, it may not have been possible to provide the degree of caution exercised in New Zealand where we felt totally at ease.

Based on this single experience, we’d highly recommend Taylor Dental Practice and Dr. Dennis, the dentist with whom we chatted for a bit about his homeland of Malaysia which we’ll be visiting this upcoming April on our next cruise. Overall, it was a relatively painless and pleasant (as such an appointment can be) experience in a professional, competent, and caring clinic.

Allison, the dental assistant was equally friendly and supportive.

After the extraction, we continued on with our grocery shop. I told Tom we could easily wait to shop until today when we’re soon heading back to town to visit with June and Simon at their historic home. He insisted he was fine and we could continue with our multiple-stop shopping. 

Heading to Pak’nSave, on a different day of the week than last time, again we ran into June who was also shopping. We all giggled over the coincidence assuring her we’d be at her home as planned at 11:00 am today, Friday. Small world. 

Then we were off to the Kiwi Meat market with a final stop at New World Market for the balance of the items we couldn’t find at PAK n SAVE. By the time we returned “home” the cleaners, Ra, and Isabel hadn’t finished cleaning after arriving late.

The old metal crown Tom had made many years ago, moments after it was pulled.

Hurriedly, we put our perishables away leaving the remainder on the dining room table to deal with later, and headed back out the door to “kill” another hour. Tom had suggested a new road to explore he’d spotted on the map. He explained he was feeling fine and has continued without pain or discomfort since the extraction. 

As always in New Zealand, every road offers myriad treasures and we continued exploring for a few more hours taking photos on another overcast day. We’ll share those photos in the days to come.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from today’s visit to the historic home. Please stop back to see!

Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2015:

It was one year ago today that we attended our first Full Moon Party, organized by friend Richard, as we continued with a busy social life in Kauai. Thanks, Richard, we’ll always love you for befriending us! For more details, please click here.

Off to the dentist for Tom…Beautiful scenes on a walk…Broadband now working in the house…

We stopped to visit a few horses in the neighborhood who immediately approached us.

Who would think that the technician from Vodafone would be such a delight? We had a great time with Peter who not only provided the best possible solution for owners Trish and Neil but also for the remainder of our stay.

Horses wear blankets to regulate their body temperature and protect them from the elements.

With 80 gigs available in the monthly plan which is not our expense, it’s a huge relief to have the expensive data plan with Spark behind us. With a few gigs left on our hot spot device, we can take it with us when we go on road trips in order to use the GPS feature on our phones. 

Pink flowers along the road on our walk.

Monitoring our usage to ensure we don’t exceed the 80 gigs included in the 30 day period is vital to our peace of mind that we don’t exceed the limit, incurring additional expenses we’d have to cover.

Throughout the hills, as seen from our veranda, there are groupings of trees in the form of a mini forest, adding to the beauty of the countryside.

With Peter’s excellent help we figured a “workaround” allowing me to check on the IP address for the accumulating data usage. Not only was Peter efficient and conscientious, but he was also friendly, making the installation process pleasant and seamless. Vodafone couldn’t have a better, more qualified, and professional rep.

Agapanthus flowers New Zealand, have been classified as a weed and are considered invasive, although it’s beautiful as it lines roads and highways. For more information, please click here.

We find this friendliness and care for customers prevalent wherever we may go in New Zealand. Today, we can only hope the dental practice we decided on, based on great online reviews, proves to be equally helpful and professional. We’ll report back tomorrow with photos. 

We’re always in awe of the view of Mount Taranaki.

Certainly, this dental appointment will be considerably different than Tom’s almost “free” dental appointment in Fiji a few months ago. At present, he’s not experiencing any pain or sign of infection, an ideal time to get this situation resolved one way or another. 

Peter, our Vodafone rep did a fabulous job to ensure we had a strong connection.

We certainly don’t want him to have to go through the third round of antibiotics while on the two-week cruise beginning on April 16th or during our upcoming two months in Bali, immediately thereafter.

Similar flowers are seen in many areas that grow prolifically in New Zealand’s mild climate.

Having moved our appointment with June to see her historic home on Friday and grocery shopping today after his dental appointment, we’re back on track.

Morning view of the mountains from our veranda.

We’re off for Tom’s appointment and will be back tomorrow with more new photos and the continuation of living a joyful life in the countryside in exquisite New Zealand.  We had no idea how much we’d love this fabulous location.

Back to you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2015:

Tropical climates such as Fiji and Hawaii have ideal conditions for flowers to bloom year-round. For more photos, from our time in Kauai, please click here.

Part Two…Reviewing the criteria we established in March 22, 2012…Are we still on track?

A few other boats dock at this pier.

Good news! Yesterday, in the pelting rain, wearing jackets with hoodies, we returned to the dentist at the hospital in the village. By the time we reached the driveway where Rasnesh was parked, we were soaked, drying off in no time in the hot weather.

Arriving at the dentist’s office in a matter of seconds, not minutes, we were whisked away to a treatment room.  Immediately, the same Indo-Fijian dentist entered the room with a wide bright white toothy smile seeming to remember us from one week ago when we had the last five minute appointment.

He looked in Tom’s mouth happily stating it appeared the infection was gone and the mushy gums were healing. The three teeth were no longer as loose in the previously infected spongy gums and would continue to tighten over time.  

This boat navigates to the pearl beds.

The dentist suggested Tom use Listerine mouthwash to kill bacteria. For awhile, he’d stopped using the coconut oil, teeth pulling ritual but is back at it again since the infection had begun a few weeks ago. Organic, unrefined, food-grade coconut oil is a known antibacterial with no added chemicals.

Once we get situated in New Zealand, he may decide to make an appointment for a periodontist for further treatment which most likely would have prevented the infection in the first place. Traveling the world has a tendency to cause us to be less mindful of “preventive” care beyond that which we’re able to accomplish on our own.

Thanks to all of our wonderful readers who sent email, posted comments and sent prayers and good wishes his way. 

Living in a third world country can easily incite a little nervousness when it comes to medical care of any type.  We’ll take this into consideration more as we age planning the distant future itinerary. 

This long pier leads the Fiji Pearls boat where tourists can visit the pearl beds after which tourists typically purchase pearl jewelry. 

Continuing on in part two of yesterday’s discussion of the criteria we’d established for our travels in March 2012, on March 26, 2012, we posted a second portion and a summarization of all of the criteria as shown below, again in italics with comments at the end on areas in which we’ve changed:

The remaining criteria:
Criteria #7:  Never stay in a vacation rental for less than one month. The rationale behind this rule is simple.  Staying in one location not only reduces transportation expense but provides us with the opportunity to negotiate better rates when staying a month or more.  
Many of the property owners allow a stay of as little as three or four days requiring added paperwork, liability and cleaning. Their piece of mind is a substantial motivator for them to accept a lower rent for their property.  As each month’s stay is extended in the negotiations, the price goes down proportionately. This will be illustrated by the rental amounts we will post with the itinerary.
Criteria #8:  No trinkets! As tempting as “bargains,” “souvenirs” and local “handicrafts” appeal to us during our travels, we will resist the temptation. The cost of excess baggage along with the horror of hauling some heavy wooden object all over the world is preposterous!
We will make a list of the items we encounter that tempt us. Once we settle someday, we will easily be able to find similar items online or in some cases, purchase them from the actual vendor’s website. Often these tempting artifacts can be found for half the price on eBay, from sellers who found themselves tempted during their travels. Most often, when we look back at such a wish list at a later date, we’ll find that we have lost interest anyway.
Criteria #9:  The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times. This was a tough one. I spent no less than an entire week researching various options. We now have discovered solutions (of course, subject to technology changes over the next several months). For Internet access, 24/7, in our rental, on the road, and part-time on cruises, we’ll use MiFi Rental with XCom Global. In a future post, I will write about the cost and how this works.  
As for cell phone service, we will be buying an Unlocked International cell phone into which we can purchase and install a local SIM card using the available local network (which is what most cell phone users in many countries use for service). SIM cards result in considerably lower rates, all without the use of a contract. Here again, I will write an entire post on this subject.
Criteria #10:  Cook and eat in!  Due to health concerns we live a low carb, wheat-free, starch-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free lifestyle. Occasionally Tom will indulge along the way!  He won’t be able to resist pasta in Italy or a baguette in France. But, for me, my ongoing health from this way of eating it a huge motivator. Cooking and eating in the kitchen of our vacation rental will save us $1000’s along the way.  

Criteria #1: Do not have a permanent home!
Criteria #2: Do not own cars!
Criteria #3: Do not stay in hotels unless absolutely necessary!
Criteria #4: Do not pay more than that which we were willing to pay for rent in our chosen retirement community!
Criteria #5: Use the cruise!
Criteria #6: Bag the excess baggage!
Criteria #7: Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month!
Criteria #8: No trinkets!
Criteria #9: The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times!
Criteria#10: Cook and eat in!

The heavy rains and cloud-covered sky preventing us from sightseeing.

As we peruse the above list, there was one item we failed to note which applied to us: Don’t have a storage facility with “stuff” from our old lives. The only storage we have are tax records and a few bins of memorabilia at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada and another few bins at Tom’s sister’s home in Minnesota. We have no storage anywhere else. What would be the point of saving furnishings, old clothes, and household and kitchenware?

Considering Criteria #7, we’ve faltered a few times, once staying in a vacation home in Waikiki for 11 nights and another in Vancouver for six nights. We didn’t care for the Waikiki property and later wished we’d stayed in a hotel. But, the Vancouver property was fantastic with no regrets there. If we ever take a cruise out of Vancouver in the future, we’d happily stay at that property.

Otherwise, every item on the original criteria list at this link written over four years ago, still stands today. Of course, between the lines, we’ve learned a lot and in our then inexperience, we’ve discovered so much along the way. 

Steam escapes from underground hot springs in this area near the village.

When we think in terms of traveling for ten years or more, good health providing, we have no doubt some of these criteria may change one way or another. 

Flexibility and a willingness to change is a vital aspect of successful long term travel. Every day, we strive to maintain open minds and hearts, knowing this adventure requires the ability to adapt, grow and learn along the way.

The perception for most senior citizens is that we’re “set in our ways” but, this may not be true for all of us. For even our treasured armchair readers, they too may change in their attitudes and beliefs about traveling the world as they share this journey along with us. 

Have a glorious day! It’s raining in buckets here and we’re as content as we could possibly be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 17, 2014:

We were in awe of this exquisite and unusual Monkey Pod Tree in Maui. For more vegetation photos in Maui, please click here.

Dental care traveling the world…What are our options?…

These Brushpicks have been instrumental in reducing tooth decay.

Although this looks too large to fit between teeth, it actually is the size of a toothpick, easily maneuvered in between each tooth providing a clean feeling after each use.

The last time we had our teeth cleaned was in Henderson, Nevada in December, eight months ago. Having always had our teeth cleaned frequently due to a propensity to excessive tartar build-up, I can’t seem to brush my teeth enough to rid myself of the reminder that the time has come.

Up until arriving in Italy, we had a bottle of unrefined organic coconut oil in our possession, used daily, as a 20-minute mouth wash that helped reduce tarter. Having to toss it when packing for our first flight from Dubai to Barcelona in June, I anticipated we’d have no trouble finding coconut oil in Italy.

Not the case. There is no coconut oil in any of the grocery stores we’ve visited thus far and I doubt we’ll be able to find it in Kenya. I need a dentist. 

Looking online I found a dentist in Pescia on Facebook to whom I wrote a message inquiring as to availability and pricing. A half-hour drive from Boveglio, with an appointment prior to grocery shopping, we’d be killing two birds with one stone.

Hopefully, they see my message. If no response within a few days, I’ll call on Skype with Google Translate up and running. Most likely, they don’t speak English.

Fortunately, we both had all of our major dental concerns addressed before we left the US with the final laser cleaning fine-tuning those results. What I’d give right now for that amazing dentist in Henderson, Nevada, a referral from son Richard. We’d immediately made an appointment at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office once we’d arranged to spend Christmas in Henderson, having the best cleaning in our lives.

Oddly, as mentioned in the post of December 20, 2012, his receptionist handed us a giant apple pie as we walked out the door. Tom ate the entire “Costco sized” pie in a few days. Piglet.

Over the past few years, both Tom and I have used these little plastic tooth cleaners we found at CVS Pharmacy and online.  After their regular daily use, our dentist commented on a major improvement in both of our periodontal issues.

Years ago, both of us had to have those awful appointments with the periodontal dentist for extreme cleaning.  Now, using these little sticks, we’ve been able to avoid any further procedures. Making a point of using them after each meal has became an easy habit. With aging, there appear to be more spaces between teeth inviting decay and tarter. 

Also, using baking soda in addition to toothpaste twice a day seems to keep my teeth white, but doesn’t appear to have the ability to reduce the tarter. 

We shall see if we can get a dental appointment before we leave Italy in a month.  If not, there are a few options in Diani Beach, Kenya that we’ll contact once we arrive.

The day to day concerns we took for granted in the US become challenging as we travel the world. Whether a doctor, a dentist, a haircut, or a grocery store, it becomes far removed from the reality we’ve experienced in the past. 

For us, it becomes a part of the adventure, more living outside the box, stretching ourselves to try “the new” and “the unfamiliar” that which we so much resisted in the past that we now welcome into our future.

Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada check in…

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, to our vacation rental in Green Valley Ranch, a newer community with massive amounts of stores, restaurants, gated communities, and a  mere sprinkling of casinos. 

It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas with its slot machines in every gas station or public building.  Instead, it feels welcoming, safe, and low on tourists.

Entering the single-family home for the eight days we reserved over Tom’s birthday and Christmas, we knew immediately that we were “home.” A fresh smell wafted through the air (love that word!), welcoming us as we maneuvered through the door arms laden with “stuff.”

Unloading my arms onto the living room floor, I ran about from room to room squealing with delight. Each room had its own surprise to behold. 

From the stack of perfectly folded crisp white towels and washcloths in each of three bedrooms, two baths, and an ample linen closet, to the full-size bars of new soaps atop each stack, no stone was left unturned.  

The kitchen, fully stocked with every amenity, had a “working” ice machine, ground coffee, cream, some basic ingredients along with every small appliance we could possibly use.  Three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, stereo, and old fashioned boxed games were available for our entertainment.

The pool, although not heated and an extra $100 a day to heat (it’s too cold here now in the 30s!) has a free-use hot tub (forgot my suit) in a well-equipped yard with high top table, chairs, and a huge newer grill. Too bad it’s not 90 degrees!

The rent for the eight days, although much more than we’ll pay outside the US for most houses, was fair at $1500 which included a $250 cleaning deposit which we expect to get back.  We did the math.  Most likely we would have paid $165 a night for a hotel (including taxes) during the holidays, plus tips, valet parking, plus all meals in a restaurant, and how much lost with easy access to gambling.  Surely we would have spent at least $400 a day for an estimate of $3200.

Staying in this lovely home, cooking for Tom’s party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including our guests, our grocery and dining out budget is $1050, leaving us with a total of $2300 saving us $900 or more depending on how much we’d have lost gambling (we don’t usually gamble but when it’s at hand, it’s hard to resist). 

This is the first Christmas in my adult life that I won’t be shopping in a frenzy, wrapping gifts with elaborate hand made bows, baking a wide array of delectable cookies, and of course, decorating every corner of the house. In an odd way, it’s liberating.  We’ll miss family back in Minnesota and we’ll revel in family and friends here in Nevada.  Life is filled with trade-offs.

Soon, we’ll head to our two dentist appointments for our final cleanings, then off to the travel clinic for Tom’s final Twinrix vaccine.  Then, to the grocery store for the ingredients for the lesser amount of baking, I’ll do this year. 

It won’t be gluten-free, low carb, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free.  It will be delicious, fattening, gooey, filling up this lovely home with smells that remind us of “home.”  I won’t take a taste.  Tom will take off a few days for this special time, his 60th birthday, and some of his favorite treats.

Hum. There’s no rolling pin. What shall I use in its place?

P.S. After writing the above this morning, then rushing out the door to the dentist’s office, I had yet to post it. Upon returning a few minutes ago, it was imperative that I amend it.  We just had the most amazing dental appointment in our lives, a referral from son Richard at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office in Henderson, Nevada.

Walking into his plush, well-appointed office puts me, a dental phobic, instantly at ease. From the elegant, upscale furnishings to the artwork to the well-equipped beverage bar and, the service, impeccable!  Even the restroom was a sight to behold with every imaginable accouterment. 

It almost felt as if we should tip not only the receptionist, but also Terry, the knowledgeable, personable, and thoughtful hygienist.  Instead of the usual hand performed cleaning, scraping away at our gums and teeth, Terry used a laser implement as an adjunct to the traditional cleaning. She used “before and after” photos that were shocking. 

After the cleaning, she performed what she referred to as “sandblasting” the surface of our teeth with a high powered baking soda spray.  The taste was awful.  The result, mind-blowing. My teeth hadn’t been this white since I was a toddler. We couldn’t be happier. 

As we paid our reasonable bill of $226 (for both of us), they thanked us profusely handing us a giant apple pie! Who gets an apple pie from the dentist?  I was thrilled with the bag of dental supplies Terry loaded up for our travel. And then, this giant pie. Wow! 

Need I say that we were impressed?  If you live near or around Henderson or are visiting Las Vegas and a dental situation arises, Dr. Simone’s office is the place to call.

Gee, for the eight days we’re, here in Henderson over the holidays, this does feel like home, minus the grandkids, the grown kids, the friends, the beautifully decorated tree, the elegantly wrapped gifts, the oversized glass jars filled with home-baked cookies, the Santa Bears adorning every corner and on and on.

Life will be different going forward.  Good, but, different.