Communicating with other travelers…Avoidance of feeling overwhelmed…More of Tom’s great photos!

It seems we awaken every morning at 5 am.  Tom gets up and I read in bed until I fall back asleep, usually until 7 am.  Up so early he has an opportunity to capture these amazing sunrises.

Tom is an avid follower of which is a site dedicated to travelers who plan to book or have booked cruises. There are message boards that enable devotees of this site to make comments, write reviews, and make and ask for suggestions from others.

I’ve never taken the time to investigate the site considering I spend plenty of time online each day posting, taking and editing photos, and conducting research, especially when our data is metered as it has been here in Australia.

Sunrise and sunset over the sea have always intrigued us.

Tom, on the other hand, learns a lot about cruises, itineraries, cruise ship’s specific cabin numbers to book from the diligent participants of this comprehensive, although uncomplicated site which is a huge asset for cruise passengers.

Often, the passengers discuss various ports of call and the best tour companies to use for a good experience outside of those offered by the cruise line which we’ve implemented on numerous occasions. Users often request to create a small group to participate on a tour at a particular port of call.  This has been our preferred method of visiting various ports of call. 

The sky in this area can change in minutes from clear to cloudy.

By participating in these small groups we have a perfect opportunity to meet new people. Some of our most fun experiences have been on full-day tours with three or four other couples/singles, many of whom we’ve stayed in touch with from time to time.

On occasion, Tom begins a dialogue with other members of who have may have considerable information to share with us as we may have with them. Or, at other times, online conversation ensues with idle travel chit chat back and forth which in itself is quite enjoyable for Tom.

All of these photos are unedited, as is the case for 90% of our photos.  We have little time to edit over 10,000 photos a year.

Most recently, we communicated via Skype with a lovely couple Tom encountered on who are our ages planning to travel the world for the next two years. 

With their many questions as to health insurance, wifi service, cell service, booking vacation rentals, filing US taxes, obtaining visas, and on and on, it was fun to share our research that hopefully may save them a little time. 

It was during this hour-long conversation that we realized how much preliminary work was involved in preparation for traveling the world. Perhaps for us, it may have required more time and effort with our intent to continue indefinitely. But, even planning to travel for a few years is comparable to planning more than a dozen ongoing trips, one after another.

These exquisite rays of light through the cloud is breathtaking.

Imagine how much time we all spent on planning one trip, let alone multiple trips over an extended period.  Linking everything together is a daunting task in itself. How do we end one trip and connect it to the next?  Wow! This can be overwhelming.

Luckily, for us, over this extended period, it’s considerably less complicated when we already have most of the next two years booked, only requiring we fill in a few gaps and adding one or two to the end at any given time.

The sun is hiding behind these clouds.

I don’t envy our new friends and the task ahead of them when I recall sitting at my laptop 12 hours a day researching the most infinite details of the process.  Although I don’t recall feeling “overwhelmed.” I had plenty of time to accomplish our goals of having the first two years of our travels booked long before we left the US.

A nerdy planner like me exercises a continual goal of avoiding ever feeling overwhelmed. I always say, “I don’t do overwhelmed,” attempting to avoid a possible scenario at all costs. When I was a 20 something single mom of two kids I experienced feeling overwhelmed. Those days are long behind me.

Eventually, later in the morning, the clouds wafted away and it was a sunny day.

As an example of the avoidance of feeling overwhelmed, today we have tasks to accomplish when we head out soon to include:

1.  Inquiry at phone store about using a hot spot for future travel in Australia:  We have our passports (required to purchase a SIM card), hot spot, and a photo on my phone of the passwords, all set to go.
2.  Inquiry at the post office for the cost to send a package to Vanua Levu, Fiji based on weight projections I made yesterday for all we’ll need during our stay:  photo of address on my phone to which we’ll be sending the package.
3.  Begin purchasing the list of grocery items now (due to low inventories at a grocery store) providing that shipping costs to Fiji are reasonable. List of items is on the grocery app on my phone.
4.  Grocery shopping: app on my phone with lists for a grocery store, meat market and produce stand and items to be shipped.

Sure, preparing for all of the above takes a few minutes of time. But, it is this commitment to advance planning that has made our travels all the more enjoyable and meaningful. 

We spotted this pair of kookaburras in the yard.

We have no doubt that other travelers may not be interested in spending the amount of time we spend in covering all of our bases for our next step along the way. And, in fact, other travelers may not encounter any issues without this degree of planning and may have a seamless experience on a single trip or two.

But, planning well into the future for years of travel is a task I wouldn’t want to tackle again starting from the beginning. Doing it piecemeal as we do now, is painless and actually quite fun for us. 

These large birds are very friendly and bold, known to snitch food from plates of outdoor diners who’ve been cooking on the barbie.

Avoiding stress, confusion, and uncertainly always become our primary goal, whether it’s a trip to the market or to trip to Southeast Asia. It’s never perfect no matter how much we plan with unexpected scenarios getting in the way at times. But, we’ve found that by having those areas we can control, under control, we’re able to create a less stressful and more pleasing experience.

Happy day!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2014:

The Seine River dinner cruise was an amazing experience we’ll always remember especially when we got this shot of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. For more photos, please click here.

Sketchy weather…But, life is good…Two weeks so far on the Big Island…A year ago…Invaders for the day!

There’s never a shortage of visitors sitting in lounge chairs enjoying the views, as shown in the right in this photo.

One expects warm sunny weather in Hawaii. When we booked houses here, being situated on the ocean was a first consideration, secondly, affordable houses on the ocean. Yesterday’s optimism over a sunny day was quickly dashed when shortly after I posted it began to rain with 55 mph trade winds.

The swimming area at Isaac Hale beach which we visited on a sunny day, meeting a delightful woman from Colorado. Kathy was a college professor and moved to the island 13 years ago to lighten the load of stressful life. She seemed happy and fulfilled.

At the time we booked this first three bedroom ocean front house, fairly affordable considering the proximity to the sea, we knew that this side of the island had a propensity for gloomy weather at times. Also, at that point two years ago not all of our family committed to being able to come.

Another view of Isaac Hale Beach.

Since being together as a family was of our utmost concern, we forged ahead when ocean front properties often are booked well in advance especially at the busy holiday season, at that point unsure as to how many would actually be able to join us.

Another vegetation lined narrow road we traveled.

It was a year later that all had decided they’d come, leaving us with the only option of booking another nearby house, with at that point, there was no space for four of us; Tom and I, my sister and eldest son, neither of whom are able to come due to recent health developments.

We visited a lava-covered area marked for hikers at the dead end of long road after leaving Isaac Hale Beach, an approximate 11 mile drive down a narrow road. On Wednesday and Saturday nights, at Uncle Robert’s next door to this  hiking site a farmer’s market type party is held where goods, drinks and food is available at reasonable prices beginning at 5:00 pm. A display was already set up for the evening’s activities with tie-dyed type tee shirts at $45 each, not necessarily a reasonable price. After all, this is Hawaii.

We were faced with a total of 14 of us, with 10 planned for this house and four for the house next door, according to our rental agreement. As the six of us have lived in this three-bedroom house for these past eight days, we’ve come to realize that this house is too small for three families. 

Various stations are set up for hikers wanting to explore the lava laden area.

Thus, with the permission of the owner of the house next door, via an email response last night, the six of us are moving next door this upcoming weekend. She’s agreed that we can add two more, over the original four, at no additional cost. For this we are grateful.

See Tom in the bottom right of this photo?  We were checking out the information for the lava hike, not necessarily interested in doing this.

This benefits all of us in many ways;  it frees up cupboard and refrigerator space that is now packed to the rafters with foods for the six of us which we’ll move next door. It frees up another bedroom which the remaining eight can use as they choose. (We’ll stay out of it). This way everyone will have the room they prefer.

Alternate view of the lava covered hiking area.

Add the fact that the six of us are in a groove that works well, its’ an easy transition. Thus, as the rental agreement allows us to move in on Saturday, Tom and I will move all of our belongings over there first, cleaning up as we go.

I imagine our readers may have become bored with our seemingly endless photos of rocky lava shorelines. But, each one looks unique to us as we wander about the island.

The next day, Sunday, TJ, Sarah and the two boys will pack and move in next door with us. This will allow each family one night on their own, a little break as “roommates” over the three week stint. We’ll all pitch in once they move over and clean this house, leaving it ready for the two families moving in on Sunday and Monday.

It’s a good plan. We’re excited to have had the cooperation of the owner next door allowing us to add two more to our rental agreement giving everyone the much needed space. 

This small house at Isaac Hale Beach has been owned for generations by a Hawaiian family.

We’re disappointed and concerned for our loved ones that are unable to come, but hope to see them both during our four month stint in Kauai, starting one month from today.

Interesting driftwood.

Gee, it looks like the sun is peeking out.  We’d better get our swimsuits on and head to the tide pools before it disappears again.

Happy Monday to all. 

                                         Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2013:

Early in the morning we wandered outside to the veranda, coffee and laptops in hand.  Within minutes, we were surrounded by baboons.  Their visit taught us a few lessons about how to handle them to prevent future visits. It was an interesting day to say the least.  For details, please click here.

Hawaii here we come!!!…New Big Island, Hawaii house photos to share…

Aerial view of home (middle house).

Aerial view of both houses we’ve rented in Big Island Hawaii. The larger gray roof is the second house we booked the day we left for safari, putting our minds at ease.

Here is the link to this listing on the Homeaway website for pricing, more photos, and additional details. Once we are in the house, we’ll post additional photos.

Leaving Minnesota, after a lifetime for Tom and 42 years for me, was hard for only one reason, leaving family and friends behind.

We don’t miss the snow, the cold, the erratic weather in summers, the power outages from storms, the mosquitoes, or the traffic. We don’t miss house maintenance; snow blowing, house cleaning, window washing, or leaky basements.

Tom doesn’t miss pulling out all of the heavy lawn furniture from the garage in the spring or putting it back in the fall or hauling the dock into the lake in the spring and taking it out in the fall or, constantly making repairs (he was diligent and an expert at all of this).

We don’t miss cable TV problems, huge heating and electric bills (we pay no utilities in vacation homes), enormous property taxes, or paying over $500 a month for a car, house and umbrella insurance. We don’t miss car payments, maintenance, and gasoline expenses.  Nope.  None of that.

The first of the two houses that we booked over a year ago.

Panoramic view from the living room.

 We’ll stay in this house by ourselves until we move over to the other house on December 20, 2014, returning back here from January 3, until January 15, 2015

Here’s the link to this listing on the Homeaway website for pricing, more photos, and additional details on this house that we booked over a year ago. Once we are situated in the houses, we’ll post additional photos

Surprisingly, I don’t miss the endless cooking for entertaining guests; the hours of shopping, the hours standing in the kitchen, a menu in hand while cooking often printed on pretty paper to be placed at each guest’s elaborate place setting, for a multi-course gourmet meal, at the time lovingly prepared, now so far from my reality that it’s all but a distant memory. Nope. None of that either. 

We miss the people.  Period.  The people.  Our family.  Our friends.  We chose missing them to be free of angst or sorrow, instead, a simple fact, a warm memory of their faces, their laughs, their smiles.

In December 2014, a mere one year, one month, and 28 days from today we’ll see our grown kids, their spouses, and our grandchildren once again. Comparing it to the period we’ve been gone from Minnesota (it will be 1 year, in 9 days from today), it will be here in no time at all. 

But, when we think of all we’ve done in the past year, the countries we’ve visited, the places we’ve lived, the sites we’ve seen, the 8 cruises we’ve taken, and the people we’ve met, it seems much longer.

With the size of our group, 13 of them, we decided that we needed to rent 2 houses, not one. Coincidentally, (similar to our safari good luck) we found 2 houses next door to one another, one we’d booked over a year ago and the other on the day we left for safari on October 5, 2013, paying the deposit, wrapping up the details. The luck of finding this scenario of 2 separately owned houses, directly next door to one another, is uncanny.

Over a year ago, we shared the photos of the first house we’ve booked.  As time moved on and more and more of our family members were able to arrange time off work during Christmas 2014, we came to the conclusion that one house wouldn’t be big enough. 

A month ago, after they all discovered they could in fact come to Hawaii, the search began.  Go figure.  We stumbled on the house next door, available during that same two week period. Tom and I and a few of the adults will be in one house, the remainder in the other house.  It will all work. 

Covering the expense of airfare, one car, and groceries on one house had been an expense we’d entered into our budget long ago.  Now, the budget has been revised for the 2nd house, the 2nd car, and the added groceries. The kids will cover their own baggage fees, activities, excursions, sightseeing, and dining out costs.  It will work out well for all of us.

Today, for comparison purposes, we’re including photos of both houses, including an aerial view of both.

As it turns out, our cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii arrives in Honolulu on October 5, 2014, less than a year from now, where we plan to stay for no less than one week in order to visit the local sites including Pearl Harbor.  

On December 1, 2014, we’ll be moving into the 1st of the 2 houses. We have yet to book the week in Honolulu or the remaining 50 days between finishing up the week in Honolulu and moving into the Big Island house on our own.

With each of our own WiFi devices up and running with no less than 25 gigs of remaining data until we need to purchase more, we have the necessary data to begin searching for that time period. “Searching” uses tons of data due to the tremendous number of photos popping up on the various vacation rental websites.

Also, having completed the time-intensive process of logging and posting all of our safari photos and stories we now have more available time to begin the search. We’re almost ready to begin.

Sure, we don’t have maintenance, snow blowing, yard work, or window washing. But all of that has been replaced by a litany of responsibilities for constantly logging our expenses, budgeting for the future, booking for the future, searching, searching and more searching. 

The difference? We like searching for more than blowing snow and washing windows and, more than anything, we love living in other people’s houses all over the world. 

Potential car rental nightmare…

While in Dubai from May 21, 2013 to June 4, 2013 the time had arrived to arrange the rental of a car for the summer in Italy.   Our objective was to pick up the car at the Marco Polo Airport once we arrived in Venice, Italy by cruise ship.  Once in our possession, we’d drive the five hour journey to our awaiting home for the summer in Boveglio.

Although we weren’t particularly concerned about renting a car, we had several factors to consider:

  1. When it was time to leave Italy on September 2, 2013 to fly to Mombasa Kenya, which airport would provide us with the best fares, best flights along easy access to return the car? 
  2. Which car rental companies would we feel most comfortable after reading reviews as to renting a car in Italy?
  3. The total cost for the lengthy period from June 16 to September 2, 2013, any potential “hidden” costs. (Renting a car for two and a half months isn’t typical. This is a totally different scenario that the usual one or two week rental while on vacation).
  4. Which types of available cars that would allow enough room for our over sized luggage?
  5. Which cars were most economical in regards to gasoline usage, priced at roughly US $8.50 per gallon in the Tuscan region of Italy?
  6. With us no longer owning a car with it subsequent insurance that typically provides coverage for rental cars, what would we do when the average cost for the “extra” insurance is US $10 per day.
  7. The time of day we’d pick up the car and reserve it to ensure we didn’t have to pay extra fees for a late drop-off or in some case, an entire extra day.

Shopping online at several familiar sites, comparing prices, reading  reviews and conditions of the rental agreements, it proved to take a lot longer than we’d expected.  Since quite ill while in Dubai, I left most of the research up to Tom.  He went at it with gusto.

While conducting this research, we also had to shop for the best airline prices to get us from Italy to Mombasa, Kenya from the several options in Italy which proved to be a huge factor in determining where we’d drop off the car in the end.   Would it be Venice, Rome, or Florence, all within a five hour drive of our summer home in Boveglio?

It took several days of reviewing all of these factors until, until we found the best overall conditions, considering the above factors. 

We ultimately decided that we’d pick up the car in Venice at the Marco Polo Airport with the goal of eventually flying out of the Marco Polo Airport to Mombasa, Kenya on September 2, 2013. 

Of course, with the five hour drive from Boveglio, we’d have no alternative but to spend one night in a hotel in Venice close to the airport.  (A week later we booked a nearby hotel, offering free shuttle service to the airport, allowing us to drop off the car a day early, if we so chose, to reduce the stress at the airport on our flight day).  Good plan.  

As we continued on in the booking process from, a site more user friendly for Italy, we discovered a fact that threw us for a loop:

Based on the lengthy period of time for the contract, the rental car company, in this case, Budget, would require two and a half times the cost of the long term rental, to be held on our credit card for the entire duration. 

Upon realizing this fact, we jumped to other rental companies to discover that these circumstances were common, especially in well known rental car companies, such as Budget, Avis and Hertz.  We’d decided that under no circumstances, would we use a small local company after we’d read many negative reviews describing nightmarish circumstances for long term rentals.  The more well-known companies were definitely the way to go but, as it turned out, all of them required this credit card “hold.”

At the rate of US $830.00 per month over the summer in Italy, our total rental would be roughly US $2075.  None our credit cards charge an exchange rate for paying in Euros and, they offered “free” insurance when using the card to pay for the rental, which in itself saved us a small fortune.

However, there was nothing the credit card company could do to avert the necessity of the Budget (which had the best pricing) “holding” two and a half times of the funds for the entire rental period which would total US $5187.50!   

We weren’t thrilled with the concept of Budget “holding” funds against one of our cards in this amount for this extended period.  Although we use several credit cards for our travels, with future expenses, hotels, flights and rentals required to pay in advance, we were against any of our cards being tied up for this amount for almost three months.

Our only option was clear to both of us:  Rent the car for one month allowing them to “hold” over $2000 which appeared to be their concern over two factors for any long term rentals; one the credit card may become maxed out during an extended period resulting in insufficient funds to pay at the end of the rental period and two, to cover the cost in the event of damage to the vehicle not covered by insurance.  This is a sensible policy from their perspective, protecting their interests only.  For us, quite annoying.

On June 16th, we rented the car at the Marco Polo airport for one month until July 15, 2013 which ends this upcoming Monday, with the plan to contact them on July 8, a week earlier to extend it. 

At Budget rental office, we inquired as to the procedure to extend the rental with assurance that the process was simple;  either call or process the extension online within 24 hours of the end of the rental period.

Here’s how it went beginning this past Monday, one week before the car was to be returned:

  • Sent an email to Budget confirming the procedure to extend the rental when we couldn’t find a place on their international website to extend it
  • They sent an email back, after they charged us $2 for the online inquiry, informing us we’d have to call the Budget desk at the Marco Polo Airport where we got the car.  This had to be done over the phone.
  • Called the number for Budget at Marco Polo Airport, asking to speak to an English speaking representative.  After being on hold, while paying for the call (no toll-free number to the location), for no less than 10 minutes, someone came back on the line, saying “No English” and hung up on me.

Add to that, the rental agreement itself was all in Italian.  Using Google Translate we became further frustrated in an effort to translate the many numbers, codes and notations that could or couldn’t be our reservation number, customer number, booking number and contract number.  It was nearly impossible to decipher which was which.

Hoping if we waited a day to call back, they may have an English speaking representative on duty. 

  • Again, called the Budget desk at the Marco Polo Airport.  A woman spoke poor English asking me for the reservation number.  There were four numbers on the “written in Italian” form.  I read all of them to her. They were lengthy, numbers and letters.  I spoke clearly.  She kept getting them wrong.  I explained our goal to extend the contract.  She said we’d get a confirmation email before the end of the day.
  • Two days later, no response, no email, no confirmation.  Called again. Again, no one spoke English. The representative yelled at me and hung up.
  • Looking online for Budget’s International Customer Service, we found a number in the UK.  We called, speaking to a nice guy.  He couldn’t do anything since he didn’t have access to the files for Italy, suggesting we try calling the Marco Polo location once again.  I did.  Again, no one spoke English. Our frustration factor continued to grow as each day passed adding a certain amount of worry to the mix.

Need I say this process continued over five days?  Calling back the UK office on Thursday, we were given a private email address for the Marco Polo location. Sending an email to this “unpublished” email address, copying the international corporate headquarters, within hours we received an email that stated, “We extended the contract for you.”

Of course, I immediately stored the response into the “Car Rental Italy 2013” folder in Outlook for future reference.  As of this date, they’ve yet to bill us for the remaining six and a half weeks.  Hopefully, they’ll prorate the balance based on the original cost and not some arbitrary amount.  I’ll keep checking the balance on the credit card, knowing whatever amount they’ll charge will include the “holding” amount for the remainder of the period. 

I wish I could say that we’ve learned something from this annoying experience.  Is it “shut up and pay?” Possibly.  On the other hand, it may well be a by-product of the nature of our lives…to expect these types of situations to occur from time to time.

Surely, the language barrier played a role in preventing us from easily accomplishing an otherwise simple objective.  

Long ago while still in the US, I recall spending hours and eventually days, on the phone, in English, with our past cable company in an attempt to resolve an issue with the operation of our service which ultimately wasn’t resolved for over a year.  With no other options available in the area, we were a captive audience, as in this case…in possession of Budget’s little navy blue Fiat, not interested in driving back to Venice in a few days to stand in line for two more hours, only to turn around and drive the five hours back to Boveglio.  

Now this issue behind us, we’re back to the freedom of spirit and peace of mind in which we strive to languish each and everyday.  Tonight’s “taco salad night,” minus the chips, minus the shell “bowl” but with all the fixins’ will be a treat, even in Italy. Add a downloaded movie and we’re content as we could be!

Mechanical aspects in our 300 year old temporary home…Many photos include new homemade pizza recipe using local ingredients…

This paper towel holder is a dowel, a piece of string tied in loops on the ends to be hung on any available hook. Simple and clever.

Today is a full three weeks we’ve been living in a charming 300-year-old stone house, nestled in the mountains among a cluster of other attached homes built centuries ago, into the exquisitely forested and farmed hills and valleys of Boveglio in the Province of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.

It’s at about this time, as we’ve become more settled, that we wander about our vacation rentals with a more keen eye observing its quirks and nuances, some of which may be a violation of code in the US and other countries which we find to be unique and interesting. 

More cloth wiring in the kitchen with exposed bulbs over the sink.
The electrical wiring throughout the house is all exposed, using cloth as opposed to the conduit most of us are familiar with as a code requirement in the US and other countries.  We doubt that building/code compliance inspectors travel around inspecting all of these centuries-old properties.
As shown above, in the kitchen, the main source of lighting is these two fixtures over the kitchen table, encased in glass globes. Energy-efficient as the “curly” energy-efficient bulbs we’d used in the US, this particular style takes approximately five minutes to light up the area which can be a little tricky at night.
As the designated cook (Tom’s the dishwasher), I’ve had the most difficultly operating the stove. It’s a newer “made-to-look old” range and oven and there’s nothing wrong with it. 
This hanging plant is used to hide an electrical outlet.
It’s the same a stove type we used in Belize; gas without an automatic pilot.  One has to hold in a button while pushing in the dial to ignite the oven or burner. It sounds easy, but the trick is in the amount of time one has to hold in the button and the dial to keep the burner ignited.  Let go of one too soon and gas is free-flowing without ignition.
I know it’s not rocket science nor does it require an inordinate amount of skill.  For some odd reason, I struggle with this, trying desperately to figure it out on the own without having to ask Tom.  Stubborn, I guess.  On occasion, even he, Mr. Coordinated, has trouble with this.  In several instances, we’ve had to stop, open the screen-less window wide waiting for the gas to clear to later begin again.
These cloth wires are above the small shower and near the sink in the large main bath.
Two things here to notice: One, this is Tom is he’s walking down the long hallway for which he obviously has to duck. Yes, he’s banged his head many times getting me into the habit of saying, “Don’t bang your head!” as he walks to the bedroom.  Two, this is Tom desperately needs a haircut. We’ve yet to find an available barber in any of the villages we’ve visited. His last haircut was in March in Belize for which we wrote a post with photos. Ponytail or shave?  Which will it be?
This doorway to the main bathroom was cut to fit the frame, also low, requiring that I also duck when entering or leaving. 
Another head ducking/banging doorway to a guest bedroom.
Earlier, we’d posted a different photo of access to the patio from the stone stairway. These stone steps, continue down a full flight, making this the most hazardous spot in the house. Although this patio is our new sunning spot and only place to hang laundry outdoors, we spot each other each time we hike up there. No happy hour is to be had on this patio! 
This is an old, now unused wood burning stove (we think unused) in the long hallway.
The uneven multiple steps in the long hallway along with the variety of low ceilings, present an ongoing challenge for both of us. Tom is roughly four inches taller than I am creating a much more hazardous situation for him.
The heating elements for the radiators are behind this hanging curtains in the long hallway. Hmmm….

Also, there are two uneven steps from the hallway into the master bedroom.  We’ve both adopted a habit of reaching around to the wall on the right of the doorway to turn on the overhead light.  This process reminds us of the two steps.

This meter, most likely electrical, is in the interior hallway by the front door.

During daylight hours, we leave the hallway light on all day (the only light that remains on) as a reminder to tread carefully through the areas of steps. At night, we bring our mugs filled with ice water to leave at each of our nightstands and also use the en suite bathroom to avoid the long walk down the hall.

Tom was washing dishes one night while I tended to the laundry. Hearing this box, turn off and on rapidly startled me. I ran upstairs to ask Tom when he told me it an “on-demand” hot water heater. I’d heard of these in the US, but never heard one of them in operation.  In any case, most systems are energy efficient here in Italy.
Also, during the day, we keep the bedroom door, the screen-less windows and shutters closed. These two steps keep the bedroom cool for sleeping and more importantly, keeps the flying insects from flying around our heads at night. 

In our old lives, if our dishwasher or dryer broke down, we’d be in a tizzy for days until an overpriced repairman arrived with a fix.  Now, we chuckle as we hang the wash outside, do dishes by hand, swat flies and bees flying indoors all day, cook food in batches (as opposed to leftovers) with no microwave and look down while bending our heads when we walk around the house.

This green plastic hose could be anything. 
This week, we’ll cook all the remaining frozen meats so we can defrost the tiny freezer before we go grocery shop again.  At this point, the buildup of ice is occupying a third of the space. I can’t recall the last time we defrosted a freezer.
This carved from the stone area inside the main door entry may be the water or gas meter.
 Much to our mutual delight, neither of us complains or whines to each other.  We observe, discovering solutions, and adapt accordingly.  All of these minor inconveniences become a part of the experience, a part of our personal growth as we strive to adapt, and a part of the story we’ll someday tell to anyone who’ll listen, in English, please.
Last night’s yet to be baked homemade low carb, gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, and sugar-free pizza made with “real” mozzarella (often referred to as buffalo mozzarella in the US) and locally grown ingredients.  The stringiness factor was tripled from the pizza we’d made in the past using “manufactured” bagged shredded mozzarella which we hope to never use again. It was our best pizza ever! I’d cut double the ingredients in order to make another freshly made pizza for tonight with no microwave for reheating. Nothing like two nights of freshly made pizza!

Supplies needed to carry on…More sacrifices…Happy 4th of July everyone in the US!…

Sorry folks, no photos today except this one I’d failed to post when we visited Petra, Jordan in May 2013. 

Staying inside all day today due to rainy weather, we felt lazy, as one may feel on a holiday, watching downloaded movies. Tomorrow, with sunshine predicted, we’ll have more to share.  We hope that our readers in the US have enjoyed the 4th of July. 

Last week I found this photo from when we walked to Petra in May. I’d saved in the wrong location realizing it was never posted (to the best of my knowledge). These steps were much steeper than appearing in this photo.  To see this horse gingerly tackle them in the scorching heat was both heartbreaking and awe inspiring. 

Planning ahead is never far from our thoughts. 

Prescriptions, medical supplies, toiletries, office supplies, batteries for digital equipment, copies of travel documents must be replaced along with any other items that pop into our heads as we continue to use what we have on hand.

Many expat travelers such as ourselves choose to live in large cities with easy access to most of these items.  For us, having chosen to live in more remote areas, we must plan in advance. 

With less than two months until we leave for Africa, we’ve begun to evaluate what we may need for the nine months we’ll live between Kenya, South Africa and Morocco.

Early this morning, I found myself counting malaria pills to determine if we are short.  While still in the US, I’d ordered enough to last for our almost six-month while in Kenya and South Africa. While in Belize, we ended up booking almost three more months in Morocco. 

Today, looking online at the CDC’s website it appears there’s no known risk of malaria in Morocco, leaving us with the correct number of pills we’ll need for Kenya and South Africa, one per day for each of us for the almost six months.

However, with our current prescriptions scheduled to run out in October, we find it necessary to order enough for another year. Receiving mail in Africa in the remote areas we’ll reside in Kenya and South Africa is sketchy at best. 

Early next week, we’ll place our order online hoping to receive the package well in advance of leaving here.  Although, now not covered by insurance, the prices for our prescriptions are reasonable.

While in Dubai, I had no alternative but to use one of the two Z-Pak antibiotic prescriptions we had on hand while I was ill with a raging sinus infection as a result of an awful flu we both contracted on the Middle East cruise from Barcelona to Dubai.  Hoping to replace the used prescription, I am requesting one five day dose online. 

The weight of our bags, at this point continues to be a major concern. Learning from experience these past eight months, overstocking in a poor strategy.  But remaining mindful of crucial items we know we’ll need is a vital part of our everyday lives.

So far in our travels, we hauled a supply of Crystal Light ice tea, our daily  beverage of choice. Although the pitcher sized packets are lightweight, including a 100 packet three month supply adds an extra two to three pounds. Plus, with the product unavailable in Italy, we’d have no alternative but to have it shipped, incurring international shipping fees.

A few days ago, we both made a commitment to give up Crystal Light ice tea entirely, unless by chance we find it to be available at any local grocery stores where we’re living at any given time, purchasing only enough to use, not to carry.

Giving up the insulated mug of ice tea that I’ve carried everywhere for years, will not be easy.  Is it an addiction? I suppose there are some who may feel that anything we “have to have” may be construed as an addiction. 

With the ice tea 99% caffeine free, surely it must be more of a habit than an addiction. It doesn’t matter what we call it.  We have to stop drinking it.  The weaning process began a few days ago, diluting it by 30% until our current supply is gone in the next few weeks.

Tom’s powdered creamer is another item we’ve been unable to find. We recently considered buying it online, but there again it would result in more to pack.   While shopping last week, we purchased three possible alternatives, three liquid creamers used for latte here in Italy, a very common beverage.   

Much to our surprise, the liquid creamer had an acceptable taste, a product we will no doubt be able to find at our future destinations. I prefer real cream, but with few preservatives used in Italy (and many other countries) it tends to spoil in about five days. 

Interestingly, many foods spoil quickly here, including deli meats and cheeses, again made without nitrates and other preservatives. This fact is pleasing for one’s health, but requires rethinking storage of these perishable items. The freezer, although small, serves that purpose for most products.

Surprisingly, vegetables also spoil quickly here leaving us to wonder what spray chemical products, the local Italian farmers are NOT using on their produce. 

Shopping for two weeks in advance as we’ve done here thus far, requires we eat all the fresh produce as quickly as possible. Soon, the vegetables in the gardens in our yard will be ready to pick, eliminating a portion of this issue over the summer.

All of our luggage is currently atop a bed in a  guest room, except for the items we’d placed in cupboards and drawers. Each day, I peruse through the items, considering which items I am willing to let go. 

In the past several days, I’ve eliminated no less than five pounds.  Minus the ice tea, we’ll be down approximately eight pounds. This process must continue. We’re highly motivated to board our upcoming flight to Africa on September 2nd without paying any excess baggage fees.

Saying goodbye to stuff?  For us, it’s been a process. After a lifetime of stuff, surrounded by stuff, replacing stuff, trips to Costco, stockpiling stuff and surrounding ourselves with stuff we like, love and treasure, it definitely has been a challenge. 

At this point, it’s only practicality and function that drives our sense of attachment to an item(s). No longer do I look at an item of clothing with a smile, looking forward to wearing it again. Those days are long gone.

Above all, its the sacrifices we’ve chosen to make for the opportunity to travel the world are many. We find ourselves instead, loving the views of Mother Nature’s rich treasures, the smells that freely represent a culture, the tastes of the local foods, the sounds of the languages unfamiliar to our ears, the music so passionately represented by its citizens and most of all the people, none of which we’ll be required to place in our bags. 

These, we’ll carry in our hearts and minds forever.

Scanning and new method of shredding…Yikes, tax time!

Receipts as they went through the Doxie portable scanner.

Our taxes have been done for a few weeks.  Per our accountant’s recommendation, we are to keep all of our receipts that may prove to be tax-deductible. 

Now that we’ve added advertisers to our site, been asked to write articles for various publications and web sites, and do a podcast (we’ll share these once published), there are some opportunities for a few write-offs. 

Of course, we can’t write off any of our vacation rentals, personal meals, cruises, and basic living expenses.  But, we can, from time to time, write off expenses relative to a specific situation.

Many have asked, “Will you have to pay taxes in the US if you live outside the US on a more permanent basis?” such as we are doing, as do many US ex-pats. The answer is an absolute “yes.” One would have to forfeit their citizenship and its resulting social security benefits for any other answer. That for us will never happen.

Receipt soaking in hot water in the kitchen sink.

With our taxes sent in by our trusty accountant Steve Thomas, via “e-file” we were left with a humongous pile of receipts we most certainly don’t want to carry with us around the world. 

We have our portable Doxie scanner with us.  A few weeks ago, we purchased a clear plastic sheet at the tiny office supply store in the village, in which to place multiple receipts, subsequently to scan, one sheet at a time.   

Yesterday, as Tom unrolled and unfolded the slips of paper, many affected by the humidity, I got to work on the scanning.  Less than an hour later, we were done.  But, on the floor lie a pile of receipts, enough to fill an entire trash can.

A while back, without a portable shredder (all were too heavy to pack), we were in a quandary as to a suitable method to dispose of these receipts. We’d decided on a plan which has served us well. Keep in mind, none of the credit card receipts had our full account numbers displayed.  In most cases, only the last four digits were visible, if at all.

Grape sized “little balls of” torn receipts.

Years ago, the full account number had been displayed.  Now with rampant identity theft and the last four digits alone on the receipt, it’s a daunting task for thieves to decipher the full number. They have easier methods in which to acquire our account numbers which I won’t mention here.

Placing the receipts into a large plastic bag, I decided to implement our method of destroying the slips without a shredder, without tearing or cutting them into tiny pieces or distributing parts of them in various trash cans. 

Dumping the entire bag of receipts into a pre-filled sink of hot water, we left them to soak for several hours. At this point, we reached into the sink and starting tearing the receipts into small pieces, quite easy to do requiring only a few minutes. During the soaking time, much of the print dissipated as the paper became the consistency of wet toilet paper.

Once the receipts were in this changed state, we reached into the sink extracting small enough portions to make ‘little balls” the size of a small grape.

Placing all these “little balls” on the back of the toilet, we drop one ball into the toilet each time we flush throughout the remainder of the day.  One ball at a time.

Yes, I know there are people that will say this shouldn’t be done for various reasons.  If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of flushing them and you don’t have access to a scanner, one can place the “balls” into the garbage, first pouring tomato juice over them.  The acid in the juice will further destroy the paper.

But then again, we all throw toilet paper with colors and dyes on it into the toilet bowl each day.  The printing on the receipts is often thermal printing, most of which dissipates during the soaking.  If we didn’t destroy these “little balls” this way, they’d end of in a landfill.  There’s no perfect disposal process as yet.  Perhaps, in time, there will be.

With one more task completed, we prepare ourselves for the tasks to be completed in the remaining days 10 days in Placencia Belize.

As for the moment, we are situated on our comfy lounge chairs on the veranda.  There isn’t a hint of a breeze and the surf is quiet and almost still. I’m sipping on a m hiug of my favorite tea, Pouchong. 

Soon, our diligent and hard-working guest services staff will arrive to clean, change the linen and restock our household supplies.  Our favorite is Gloria whom we’ve come to adore.  Her commitment and joy to serve our needs is humbling. Yesterday, we hugged in a heartfelt embrace. I will miss her warmth and kindness, so much the way of the local Mayan people. 

Gently, kindly and respectfully, she gracefully handles all of the guest complaints of which there are many.  We see and hear it every day as the constant turnover of travelers brings new complaints to handle.  She never falters in her strength and courage. We chose not to complain. It’s not in our budget.

Today, we’ll prep for our upcoming Easter dinner for four. Soon we’ll walk along the beach, taking special care to spot stingrays who often flutter about the shallow waters along the surf.  Tonight, we’ll meet up with new friends Lori and Larry for our last buffer dinner at Robert’s Grove Resort.

May I say it again… we are grateful. For the people we meet, for the friends we make along the way, for the ongoing opportunity somehow bestowed upon us, no more deserving than the next person. 

Have a happy Easter, happy Passover, happy holiday, whatever you may celebrate, wherever you may be.

What do I do about my phone?…

Ugh!!  My cracked Droid Razr Maxx HD smartphone cracked in the upper left corner.

The day after our anniversary and subsequent injuries from the fall on the collapsed steps, I dropped my Droid Razor HD Maxx on the cement walkway.  More concerned about my injuries at the time, I dismissed it with a plan to deal with it later.

Later has arrived.  I’m almost fully recovered, working out again today for the first time since the fall, and ready to resolve the phone issue.

If we were in the US, I’d drive to the Verizon store or a cell phone repair shop, drop it off for the day to pick it up later in the day.  Most likely the cost for the digitized touch screen replacement would have been in the $200-$289 range.

Not the case now.  On a whim, when we stopped at the local office supply store in Placencia Village on Wednesday for a squishy envelope, there was a cell repair station in the back of the store.  My hopes soared.  The enthusiastic repair guy looked at the cracked screen shaking his head, “no.” 

The office supply store in Placencia, Belize has a cell repair shop.

“It will take at least a month for the repair parts to get here,” he explains, handing the phone back to me. “But I can’t even guarantee that it’d get here in a month.  You, know, the mail…” he trailed, looking sadly disappointed.

“Yes, we understand,” I said equally disappointed. 

Decided not to give it another thought at the time, we continued on with our shopping.  Later, at my computer, I started researching my options which include:

Plan A

  1. Wrap the phone in the padded envelope with a prepaid UPS label (using our UPS account, our trusty portable printer, and our roll of clear shipping tape) and giving it to our kind Minnesota friends who are returning to the US on March 22nd. 
  2. UPS will pick it up at their office on March 25th. Within four days (roughly arriving on March 29th), it arrives at the Motorola Repair facility, where it takes five days to repair (roughly arriving on April 3rd).  Motorola ships it to our mailing service in Nevada (roughly arriving on April 7 and is placed in the box with our other items being shipped to us on April 8th to a UPS store in Miami Beach. We’ll be there for only eight hours on April 13th.  That’s a tight time frame.
  3. This plan leaves me without my Android phone for 22 days, which I use as my reading device. I pick it up to read at night when we go to bed, during the night if I can’t sleep, during the day on the veranda and out by the pool.  To be without it for 22 days is challenging. My laptop is too bulky for such reading.  Yes, I know a tablet would have been handy, but we were trying to keep the digital equipment at a minimum (kind of).

Plan B

  1. Find a location in Miami Beach to repair the phone while we wait during our eight-hour layover between cruises.
  2. Upon researching cell phone locations somewhat near the pier in Miami, most indicated either an exorbitant cost of upwards of $300 or they wouldn’t fix it in a few hours.  I contacted several repair shops by email and chat to become further frustrated with their responses.  All asked to be paid upfront so they could order the parts. 

Plan C

  1. Keep the phone in my possession since I still can read on it. We’ll arrive in Dubai on May 21st after our cruise through the Suez Canal and to visit to the Pyramids.  With a 13 day stay, we’ll have time to take it to a nearby repair shop for a replacement screen.  If it takes a few days, no problem. With our 95-story high rise close to the downtown area, there appear to be multiple options within walking distance.
  2. Keep the phone in my possession since I still can read on it.  We’ll arrive in Italy, staying in Tuscany for 2 1/2 months with a rental car.  We’ll have plenty of time to get it repaired.

In reviewing these options, we have to recall our motto, “Wafting Through Our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.”  In other words, which of these options produces the least amount of stress?  It’s clear to us, Plan C.

A possible obstacle to Plan C?  The phone continues to crack (highly likely) and becomes unreadable. Solution: Bite the bullet and purchase a new unlocked smartphone at one of the many ports of call along the way. Also, we’ll be back in Miami for one day again on April 20th, the day we leave to travel across the ocean to Barcelona.  At that time, decide on the repair or the new phone.

For now, we’ll put aside the cracked screen issue and go about enjoying our remaining 24 days in Placencia Belize.  Our big concern for today is, when will the sun come out? Nice.

Photos from a walk…Living life on our terms…Our anniversary was yesterday on the 7th…

Our waiter took our anniversary photo last night after dinner. 

As we’ve mentioned in past posts, we don’t have transportation while in Placencia Belize. We made a hard decision when we moved to Laru Beya on February 5, 2013. With the cost of our rental doubling for two remaining months that we’re here and a budget staring us in the face, we opted to only rent a vehicle as needed.

Palm fronds we discovered on a walk yesterday.
So far, other than the one week in early February that we buzzed around in a rented golf cart at $350 per week, we’ve managed just fine much to our mutual surprise. We thought we’d feel trapped. We don’t.
These are obviously fake cactus used to light the road at night. See the orange one on the left.
Our resort has golf carts, motorbikes and cars available if we need one on a moment’s notice. Most likely, later in the month, we’ll rent a car to explore some of the surrounding villages after heading to the capital city of Belmopan where we’ll extend our visas for the final time.  Its an hour and a half drive north of us.
Local sculpture.  We often see variations of this style.
Without a doubt, there is a huge temptation as one travels the world (from our limited experience thus far) to splurge to fuel one’s perception of what a “vacation” looks like with frequent siteseeing expeditions.  Most of these outings in this remote area require guides resulting in fees upwards of $300 for the two us for a five to six hour day trip.  Some are more.
Another lighted fake cactus next to another local sculpture.
We’re not on vacation. We’re living in foreign lands. When we lived in Minnesota, we seldom visited any of the local “tourist” attractions after our kids grew up. Who does unless one has out of town company or on an outing with grandchildren?
Sculpture of cactus plant.
When we designed our budget, a process that continued over a period of many months, we created a plan that, health providing could last us for the remainder of our lives leaving our investments and savings in tact.  Should we vary from the plan, everything changes.  Suddenly, we could begin depleting our resources. 
Locally crafted painted working fountain.
Remembering our motto, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity” we carefully map out our finances to stay within the budget, compensating from one month to the next should we unintentionally vary as we did when making a decision to move to Laru Beya
Locally painted sign advertising Sweet Mama’s Restaurant.  Notice the wood French fries
in the in the wood basket on the upper left side of the sign.  Cute.
We only dine out twice a week now (ordering whatever we’d like), cooking in the remainder of the time.  We don’t get massages and spa treatments.  I do my own manicures and pedicures and now Tom is considering having me cut his hair. Yikes. We don’t have to go that far!
We’ve learned to re-use items we may have tossed in our old lives.  We hand wash our underwear, bathing suits and tee shirts.  We don’t order beverages when we sit by the pool.  When cooking we increase our bang for the buck by making enough to last another night, thus reducing our cost.
We don’t dine in the “extra charge” restaurants while on cruises or purchase beverage packages that can run up to $800 per person per cruise.  The only beverages we purchased aboard ship are those with our dinner, one or two cocktails for Tom, iced tea for me (for which there’s no charge). 
We had a small 3″ cactus plant like this in Minnesota in a south window. 
grew 1″ in 26 years. This plant is about 3-4 feet in diameter. 
If we purchased the cruise beverage packages with an average of eight cruises per year, we’d spend an extra $10,000 per year or more.  If we purchased the excursions on the cruises, we’d spend another $10,000 per year.  It changes everything.  It takes out the “ease, joy and simplicity” we so much relish in our new way of living.  We’d rather spend our money on no less than a balcony stateroom for extra space and comfort than on extra charges we don’t really need.
Is this mindfulness difficult?  Do we feel deprived?  Not at all. Especially when its attached to the reality that we can go on forever if our health holds up and if we so choose. 
We’d rather generously tip our maid Gloria, our server, our cab driver and all the Gloria’s and Estevan’s we’ve yet to meet than take a one day outing where all the tourists rightfully go while on their much deserved once or twice a year vacation.
Living our lives on our terms. Everyday may not be an exciting adventure. It may be only a walk along the road, enjoying the local art and culture.
It truly is a splendid life.                          

Disembarking the ship before the end of the cruise…

Remember our motto, “Wafting Through Our World Wide Journey with Joy, Simplicity and

We strive to keep this in mind.In order to accomplish doing so, we must be proactive.On occasion, proactive behavior requires assertiveness that may, on occasion, be off-putting to those with whom we are dealing. As we plan to disembark from the Celebrity Equinox tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29th we are faced with a few potential obstacles:

1.  How will our luggage be handled on the smaller “tender” boat taking us the 20
minute ride to the pier in Belize?  Will
we need new luggage tags as when we disembarked the Celebrity Century?
2.  What time shall we schedule the hired driver to appear at the pier, holding up the sign
with our name based on a projected time the ship will be cleared for
3.  What is the procedure for acquiring a visa, which based on our research is provided at the
time of entering the country of Belize, not online at an earlier date? Will they in fact grant us a visa for 2 1/2 months?
4.  What is the process with the Belize Immigration Department? Will they go through our
bags?  (We didn’t purchase anything aboard the ship).
5.  Will our scheduled driver have a large enough and reliable van (as promised when we
booked) for the four hour drive to Placencia? Will we arrive at the dock at 12:30 as scheduled?
In an effort to be proactive on Sunday morning I visited the customer service desk to review the process of getting the above four items

The staff person tried to dismiss my concerns saying all would be fine. Ha! This is not the answer I was seeking!  (Tom and I agreed to let me handle these kinds of potentially testy situations. I tend to stay calm and pushy at the same time).

After the staff person attended to the answer to

Question #1, I was able to secure two PRIORITY TENDER TICKETS, enabling us to choose a time to get onto the tender with support staff.  This helps.

Unfortunately, when I pressed for the remaining answers, the staff person was unable to answer, preferring to say again, “everything will be fine. Nothing to worry about.”
“Yes,” I said, “there is something to be worried about.” She straightened the lapel on her navy blue blazer, wincing at my comment.
“Let’s say we get into Belize with immigration and 2 1/2 months later, we’re stuck in immigration for 24 hours or more trying to “get out of Belize” if we didn’t have a proper long term visa. (A
visa for Belize is not required for under 30 day visits).
“We need immigration to meet us at the pier,” I insisted, “to provide us with a visa good through April 9, 2013, when we depart.” (We had tried to get this ahead of time but was told by Belize Immigration to get a visa when we arrive).
“Whatever you need to do to arrange this is imperative.”  I continued. “If you don’t know the answer, please direct me to the staff member who does handle these types of concerns.  Is there such a person on board?”
“Yes,” she said meekly, “I’ll call her and she’ll contact you.” 
“OK,” I said, feeling frustrated, “We’ll watch for a message from her by the end of the day today.  We spend little time by the phone in our cabin.”

By the time I walked over to Tom who was sitting in a lounge area waiting for me, I had cooled off enough to tell him what transpired, reassuring him that all will be taken care of and not to worry. 

When passengers get off of a cruise ship, returning after a day of spending money in their city, there is little, if any hoopla.  Getting off the ship and staying for an extended period is an entirely other matter.

Once we hear back from the on board immigration handler, we will report the results.  Hopefully,
all will go smoothly. 

Persistence prevails.
A few hours after writing the above, we returned to our cabin with a phone message from Jennie, the on board Celebrity immigration officer. Immediately returning her call, she suggested I bring our passports and our itinerary to the customer service desk and she’d meet with me.
I couldn’t get down there quickly enough, leaving Tom behind in the cabin. As I dashed to the
elevator, it dawned on me that this was the first time since January 3rd when we boarded the Celebrity Century, that I was out of Tom’s sight.  I chuckled to myself.  Imagine. We aren’t sick of each other yet!

Meeting Officer Jennie put my mind at ease.  Her crisp white and black uniform with
epaulets, the official name tag as “Chief Officer of Immigration coupled with her professional demeanor immediately reassured me that we were now in the proper hands.

Showing her our lengthy itinerary set the pace for a lively conversation with her enthusiasm to ensure that everything goes smoothly in our early departure from the cruise. She handed me immigration forms to complete, made a copy of our itinerary and immediately addressed all of our

She suggested that she’d hold onto our passports until Tuesday when the Belizean Immigration Officer will board the ship (also via tender). She’ll handle everything for us including arranging for our 2 1/2 month visa. Should there be an entry fee, she will let us know and charge it to our

She answered all of our questions including the seamless handling of our bags via porter to our cabin, taking our bags to be handled by the tender staff who again will assist at the pier.  She said there is no need for us to so much as touch our bags. No luggage tags are needed since we’ll be the only passengers staying in Belize.
In addition, she explained that our having PRIORITY TENDER TICKETS, we can board the tender at any time we’d prefer. Contacting our private van company in Belize by email today, they reassured me on the vehicle’s good condition, the size of the van and that the driver would meet us to be at the pier at 12:30 pm holding a sign with our name. According to Officer Jennie we’d have no trouble being there on time for the driver.

On Tuesday morning when the ship anchors in the harbor of the port of Belize at 10:30 am, requiring one hour to be cleared, we’ll have our bags down by the gangplank ready for us to get on the tender. Jennie will call our cabin instructing us when to come down to the desk to retrieve our passports and our new visas and head to the tender, knowing that our driver is scheduled for 12:30 pm. 

Anything could go wrong and throw this plan into total chaos. There is absolutely nothing WE will do to throw it off.  However, we’re subject to the responsibility and timing of others. As we all so well know, we can’t always count on the diligence of others, only on that of ourselves.

Then, of course, is the four hour drive to Placencia, only after the driver takes us to the FEDEX office in Belize City to return the XCOM Global MiFi device which won’t work in Belize. They are aware of the slow return mail and aren’t charging us for the time it takes for the package to get back to San Diego, California. 

We’ll need the device again by April 9th. We’ll have to pay the international shipping charge back to Belize so we can collect it at the same FEDEX office in Belize City before we depart on cruise #3 back to Miami for a same day departure of cruise #4.  At the cost of $395 a month for the device, it made no sense to hang onto it for this extended period. Postage both ways will be about $140.

Details, details, details!  The perception that this adventure of ours is comparable to a long vacation is delusional. This is work, lots of work and endless planning.  Fortunately, I find the process is pleasurable and much to my surprise, Tom does as well. 

We are both reminded, each and every day, to enjoy the living in the moment, even when it entails a phenomenal number of specific events falling into place. 

We’ll see how we feel about this premise when its 7:00 pm Tuesday night, arriving in Placencia in the dark, tired, hungry, opening one particular suitcase that has no clothing inside, taking out the multiple allergy and bedbug protecting mattress covers, putting them on the mattress, box springs and pillows all before we open our other bags.

We shall see and of course…report how it all goes.