Laugh fest last night…Safety on other islands is different than in Kauai…

This Bird of Paradise is the best example we’ve seen of a bloom appearing to be a bird’s head.

Last night’s dinner party at Alice and Travis’ house with Louise and Steve was more fun than we ever could have imagined. The stories, the laughter, and the bantering back and forth was indescribable. All I know is that by the end of the evening our faces and bellies hurt from laughing so hard and so long.

I drove home. Tom, who rarely drinks alcohol had his fair share last night, and although I don’t drink for health reasons I too felt intoxicated from the great evening.

Thanks to reader Annie, this is Ixora.

How did we get so lucky to meet so many fabulous people? And how hard is it going to be to leave exactly three weeks from today? 

It’s funny how we never have trouble leaving a place. Instead, we find it difficult to leave living beings behind, both human and animal. 

This morning Birdie saw me wander into the kitchen while he sat atop his favorite tree. Immediately, he flew to the lanai railing and began singing his song as shown in this video (in case you missed it). For a more professional Northern Cardinal video presented by Cornell Labs, please click here.

Nature has a way of creating flawless symmetry as in this variety of Plumeria.

We’ll miss him and his significant other both of whom we’ve interacted several times each day. He’s our first sign of life each morning and last, just before dark as we dine at the table beside the sliding screen door. While we’re dining, he sings. How can we not miss this magical display of life, however tiny he and she maybe?

And the people? Ah, how can we not miss them? 

We’ve found that somehow we are able to build strong relationships with people we meet in our travels in relatively short periods of time. In our old lives, it seemed that building new friendships transpired over a period of years, not months.

The buds on flowers such as this Plumeria (often used for making leis) become beautiful in themselves.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of those we meet are on the move like us in one way or another. Most of the friends we’ve made here in Kauai came from other locals for example Louise and Steve are originally from the UK.

Alice and Travis are from the state of Washington, having moved here permanently five years ago. This is the case with most people we meet. They, like us, came from somewhere else, longing for the lifestyle only Hawaii or similar island living has to offer.

Volcanic rock is also seen along the shore in some areas of Kauai.

As for future islands on our upcoming itinerary which includes both Fiji and Bali, we have few expectations that life on those islands will be comparable to living in Hawaii.

Some have mentioned that both Fiji and Bali can be rough in areas with political unrest, poverty, and strife. We never promised ourselves nor expected that everywhere we live will be easy or feel as luxurious as living in Princeville has been these past months.

As the tide rolls in the waves pound against the lava rocks.

We easily recall where we’ve lived in the past, in the heat and humidity with insects everywhere, crawling about our feet and buzzing about our heads. Last night, we mentioned that we’d lived outdoors in Kenya on the open (no screens) veranda for three months when there was no indoor living room, lounge, or salon.  here were two bedrooms, one bath, a small galley kitchen with a small hallway connecting them.

Each day the temperature was in the high 80’s to low 100’s with humidity so awful that the zippers on our luggage turned green. Tom used WD40 (Kenya’s version) to release the zippers each week to ensure they’d work when we left. 

From what I can determine online, this is a coot.  If any of our readers have any suggestions on this breed, please post a comment or send an email.

The flies and mosquitoes were rampant and every day I had to lather up with a DEET (below 30%), the only product that would keep me from being bit.  

The insects and the heat were equally bad in South Africa but, by the time we got to Marloth Park, we were accustomed to being outdoors all day. There, we had two living rooms inside the house and yet we stayed outdoors on the veranda (again no screens) all day amid the heat and insects, batting off the flies, keeping an eye out for snakes and poisonous things.

This is a hala plant. Please see this link for details.

After those total of six-month experiences during which neither of us whined or complained, we’re thinking that Fiji and Bali won’t be any more difficult and most likely will be somewhat easier. 

As for the political climate in both of these countries, the properties are located far from the busy cities where most of the danger lurks. Plus, in Fiji, we’ll be living in a resort with managers and security on the premises. In Bali, we’ll have a house staff on the premises. Both scenarios put our minds at ease.

There are many bath and candle shops throughout the islands comparable to this shop in Kilauea. With the scent of flowers blooming year-round, it’s not surprising that many small businesses are centered around scented soaps and candles.

Worry?  No, we’re not worried. We’ve come to accept that there is no place in the world that is entirely safe from crime, natural disasters, and political unrest. We’d only need to watch the US news in the past week, months, or years to realize that nowhere is entirely safe.

We can’t live this life in fear of what could happen. We choose to live this life in love with each other, in love with what we see in front of us; the people, the wildlife, and the beauty. 

The former movie theatre in Kilauea is now a church offering free lunches every Sunday after the service.

That, dear readers, drives us on with the hope and the passion for an extraordinary and safe experience anywhere in the world we find ourselves.

Tonight is our final Full Moon Party to be held at the Makai Golf Course pool house.  Today, I’ll make our pu pu to bring, Hawaiian flavored chicken wings (a few without the sauce for me), and off we’ll go to yet another fun evening on the island. We love island living. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2014:

In the Medina, aka the Big Square in Marrakech, vendors would often neatly place their products on the ground on a blanket expecting passersby to negotiate. Within a short period, this display would turn into a messy pile as the vendors were busy selling the item. At this time, one year ago, we were less than two weeks from leaving Morocco, chomping at the bit to be back on the move. For details, please click here.

An email that sent us over the moon…A special person we met in our lives of travel…

Anderson, standing at the marker for the border between Kenya and Tanzania.

Yesterday morning, I discovered an email in my inbox from Anderson, our guide while on safari in the Masai Mara.  The email in his words:

“Jambo from masai-mara,Kenya.
Hi Jessica and Tom, how are you doing my friends?.long time since we meet at Maasai-mara at Sanctuary OLonana camp,where are you now?..since you told me that, you were traveling all over the world! sorry that i did not have time to visit you at Mombasa-Ukunda.
Concerning my employment, I resigned from Olonana a few months ago, and I bought a new safari land-cruiser to start my own safari business within Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. So please if happen that you want to do a safari, am always there for you,..and please recommend me to your friends for me. Thanks my friends, Best regards from Anderson ole Pemba.”

In October 2013, over 18 months ago, we went on safari in the Maasai Mara (aka Maasai Mara), situated in southwest Kenya as one of Africa’s most magnificent wildlife reserve. Connected to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it is the world’s most popular safari game viewing environment.

We stress the fact that our expedition was game viewing, not hunting. We would never engage in the self serving slaughter of exquisite animals in the wild as their numbers dwindle based on the intervention of humans. 

How we got so lucky to have Anderson as our guide falls into the same “safari luck” category that seeing the Big 5 in our first 10 hours on safari seemed to fall into, all accomplished only due to Anderson‘s expert skills and keen eye. No one on the planet can drive across rough terrain with his expertise nor can spot a lion sleeping in a tree all the way across the plains.

Tom and Anderson really hit it off. This was within moments of arrival at the dirt runway airport in the Maasai Mara.

Not only was his warm, thoughtful and engaging personal a factor but his sense of adventure, willingness to literally “go the extra mile (kilometer) and his vast knowledge left us with a memory that will truly last a lifetime. 

An amateur photographer such as I with a less than ideal camera was able to take photos that will always stay in our hearts and minds and into infinity, located here on the Internet for generations to come.

Anderson‘s efforts made this lifelong dream of mine become a reality. As a child I dreamed of Africa, the Africa we experienced in the Maasai Mara, and Anderson helped make it a reality we’ll both always treasure.

When the short three day period as guests at Camp Olonana by Sanctuary Retreats came to a close my heart ached over having to say goodbye. Would we ever return to the Maasai Mara in Kenya with so much political unrest in the country and when there’s still so much world to see? 

I knew we were in good hands the moment we met Anderson. 

Yes, someday we’ll return to Africa to see Victoria Falls in both Zambia and Zimbabwe and to see the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda, although there are other locations where they are to be found. Plus, my heart longs to return to Marloth Park for a period of time as well. Someday.

Although we spent only three days with Anderson, for as much as eight hours each day, the time was never enough. Realistically, three days in the Maasai Mara is enough time during which with a great guide, one can see and take photos of many of the treasures in this extraordinary location.

Not only did he ensure we could see all that we longed to see, he left an indelible mark on our hearts not only with his skills but, with his delightful demeanor, sense of humor and passion to please regardless of the size of the group in his vehicle, at most six tourists. 

When we arrived at the dirt runway airport in the Maasai Mara, Anderson was waiting for us immediately taking me into the circle of his strong arms for a bear hug. At that moment, I knew we were in good hands. He’d take good care of us, ensure our safety and equally ensure we had the time of our lives.

Anderson had arranged a breakfast in the bush with the chefs preparing foods I could eat along with standards for the others. 

At the airport we had to wait for another couple’s plane arriving in an hour and a half. Instead of standing around waiting in the hot sun, Anderson suggested he take us out to see what we could find in that short period of time. 

And find, we did, as shown in the many photos in this post which we uploaded that first evening when we were exhausted after a quick meal having arrived too late from an sunset safari to shower and change for dinner. 

With dust all over our clothes and with no Internet access in our tent, after dinner we sat on the sofa in the lodge with a wifi poor connection attempting to upload multiple photos and story, knowing our readers were waiting to hear from us. 

With wild animals all around us, we dined on a perfect breakfast without a moment of fear. We always felt safe with him even if we were only 15 feet from a hungry lion.

The posts were a mess with poor formatting and typos but, we knew once we returned to Diani Beach, Kenya, we’d have plenty of time to go back and make any necessary edits. 

At 7 am the next morning we were ready to go again although the gurgling sound of the hippos in the Mara River outside of our tent awoke us at 4:00 am. I fell back to sleep with a smile on my face relishing every aspect of this amazing experience.

Our first day out, Anderson explained that if we needed to pee to simple say, “I need to check the tire pressure.”  Within a matter of minutes, he’d find a rock or a bush appropriate for providing a modicum of privacy. 

That’s not to say that the trek to the rock or bush wasn’t fraught with a bit of trepidation for what may be lurking in the tall grass. Those breaks were vital to our experience as the daytime heat kept us sipping on bottles of beverages he kept on ice in a cooler in the front seat.

I took this photo of our group on safari that morning.  Its cool in the Masai Mara in the mornings, heating up considerably as the day worn on. That large rock to the right was the spot where we’d “check the tire pressure.”

I could go on and on. Instead, I’ll let our interested readers click back to the posts to read the remainder that continued over a period of over two weeks. The stories and photos seemed never ending, as did the memories with Anderson.

Yesterday, when we received the above email we were thrilled to hear from him. At the time, we’d given him our card knowing it was unlikely we’d hear back with lack of Internet access in the area. We’d invited him to stay with us in Ukunda (Diani Beach) when he’d hoped to make a trip to Mombasa although he was unable to come. 

If any of our readers knows of anyone interested in a safari in Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda, feel free to contact Anderson here at this link. We noticed that he’s working in Uganda. We only hope by the time we’re ready to see the gorillas, that we can be with him once again.

Notice my BugsAway hat wrapped around my lower face while we were in Tanzania in an effort to keep the flies out of my mouth.

Speaking of Tanzania, when Anderson was concerned that I was greatly disappointed that we’d missed the Great Migration by one week, on the last day, he drove us over some mighty rough terrain to the border of Tanzania.

There, we were able to see the tail end of the migration while batting off zillions of flies as a result of the dung from 2,000,000 wildebeest and other animals crossing the Mara River numerous times as it winds through the Serengeti, on this annual trek. Only he would try to please to that degree for which we’re eternally grateful.

Thank you, Anderson, for an experience of a lifetime, that in many ways changed our lives and in many ways enhanced our desire to experience more of the wild and its treasures that we’ve yet to behold.

                                                Photo from one year ago today, April 25, 2014:

A huge pile of yarn was lying on the ground in the souk, ready to be woven into an article to be sold. Notice the black cat cuddled up on the yard. At this point one year ago, we were three weeks from departing Marrakech, Morocco and we were ready to go. For details please click here.

Another boring day in paradise…Adventure or not?…

An early evening from our lanai.

Just kidding! We’re not bored. We’re never bored. 

A few days ago while returning from the grocery store alone, driving down Ka Haku Road, the main road in Princeville, I asked myself an important question, “If this was our lives permanently, would we be happy?”

The residents of Hawaiian are very proud of their love and preservation of wildlife and their land.

After all, we’re in the most beautiful village either of us has seen anywhere in the world including in the US mainland; ocean and mountains all around us, perfect weather, exquisite vegetation, minimal traffic, friendly people, no worn and tattered neighborhoods, no visible local dump and quiet, except for the sounds of the singing birds, the crowing roosters, and the clucking hens.

Searching deep within my heart, the question lingered for the short drive home. As I pulled into our assigned parking spot, the answer became clear. With the wanderlust still deeply rooted within our hearts, we couldn’t stay put, here or anywhere else.

Eventually, we visited Kileaua Point after seeing this sign on the highway.

It isn’t about the “place” for us. Today, I recalled a day in late February last year when Okee Dokee took me to the dump in Marloth Park and I jumped for joy when we arrived when I saw all the Marabou Storks sitting atop the piles of garbage. (Soon we’ll approach that date and we’ll share the link and a photo at the end of the post as the “photo from one year ago today.”)

Good grief, I was at the dump and I was happy. Earlier, we’d been in the often higher risk cities of Mombasa, Nairobi, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Cairo, and more, and we were happy, grateful for the experience, absorbing the varied cultures. Potential dangers lurked in sidewalk cafes and street corners as we cautiously absorbed the knowledge these cities had to offer.

Yesterday, Tom and I took an online test (separately) to discover our “types” and we both were described as “adventurous.”

These bodies of water are part of the Wildlife Refuse encouraging the life cycle of many varieties of birds.

Often, one thinks of adventure as only high-risk sporting adventures. We’re too old, unfit, and unwilling to be injured putting a fast end to our travels with a broken leg or back. But, adventure means so much more.

Adventure is of the heart, of the spirit, of the nature of stepping outside of the “safe” zone for the experiences we’d never had staying permanently in one place.

Stretching ourselves to the limit and yet staying within the realm of safety knowing that I have a serious spinal condition that could teeter in a single fall making a degree of caution be the order of the day.

This area is not open to the public to preserve the integrity of its purpose.

Oh yes, we walked the torturous three-hour walk to Petra on rough terrain. Yes, we walked the steep hills and rocky terrain in many other countries. Yes, we went on unbelievably wild boat rides and 4×4 off-road adventures in various parts of the world. But, the adventure doesn’t begin and end there.

The adventure is in our hearts knowing every single day of our lives that we have no home. We have no place to go and repack our bags. We have no storage filled with stuff to set up housekeeping. We don’t own a frying pan, a sheet, a TV, or a car. 

We took these photos on a cloudy day which is difficult to avoid a few days each week.

“These are all good things,” so says Tom as I read this aloud to him as I write. When we were on our first cruise, the art auction people approached us asking if we’d come for the free champagne and art auction at 3:00 pm. I laughed aloud and said, “We don’t have any walls. Where would I put a piece of art?”

Tom stopped dead in his tracks, raising both thumbs with a huge smile on his face. Many times since, he’s used that expression, “We have no walls.” We both love what that means for us.

The scenery away from the ocean is beautiful.

If a medical issue immobilized us for a period of time or permanently, and I assure you, someday it will, we’ll be faced with the fact that one of us may be in a hospital and the other staying in a hotel with no home to return to.

That’s a risk but, in essence, it’s all a part of the adventure. We’ll figure it out. Either one of us alone is capable of figuring it out. And yes, we’ve discussed this possibility infinite detail.

Clouds lingering in the hills.

No, we don’t skydive. No, we don’t bungee nor do we do zip lines. No, we don’t do 12-mile treks up mountains and dangerous terrain. But, each and every day of our lives, we live with the reality that risk is at every bend in the road.

We’ve had a cobra at our feet. We’ve been within 10 feet of a lion in the wild. We’ve had poisonous insects inside of our shoes. We’ve had an angry elephant head toward our car in the wild.  

One of several one lane bridges we cross when exploring. The other drivers are very considerate when crossing.

We’ve spent 34 hours getting from one location to another with nary a complaint or a moment’s sleep. We sailed on a ship with 50-foot swells, all the while giggling and taking videos of the excitement without a moment of seasickness. We’ve sailed through the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden where the true story of the movie Captain Philips transpired.

So, dear readers, for a time we languish in the luxury and ease of life in Princeville, Kauai where the riskiest possibility is stepping in rooster poop.

View of a channel from a one-lane bridge.

And yet, we’re content for now, living in the moment (as Tom says, “Love the one you’re with”), and happy with the thought that soon we’ll be on our way to a slightly more adventurous location, Australia. We can’t wait for a safari in the Outback if there is such a thing.

Be well.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, February 8, 2014:

One year ago, we visited a restaurant on the Crocodile River and spotted this hippo with some bird friends. For details from that day’s story and more hippo photos, please click here.

No excess baggage fee so far!!…In Nairobi now…Leaving for South Africa in 45 minutes…

At the moment, we’re at the gate at the Nairobi airport waiting to board the next leg of our journey to South Africa. It appears that the Nairobi Airport is well on its way to completion of the repairs after the devastating fire many months ago. Little evidence of the destruction was visible to us from our vantage point.

The drive and subsequent ferry ride to Mombasa for the flight to Nairobi were pleasantly uneventful. Alfred was on time, the flight left on time and we flew on what appeared to be a newer mid-sized jet.

Without a doubt, Kenya Airways has its act together. Plus, we paid no excess baggage fees, boarding in Mombasa, nor were we charged any excess fees when we checked in with South African Airways to receive our boarding passes to both Johannesburg and tomorrow’s flight to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport.

Need I say that we’re thrilled? Unloading stuff paid off! The only trying element up to this point was during the time we had to haul everything from Kenya Airways terminal to South African Airways, located in another terminal at quite a distance. 

With each of us pushing a “complimentary” baggage cart the long-distance, it was challenging over the rough roads with no sidewalk and traffic coming right at us. Thank goodness it wasn’t as hot in Nairobi as it had been in Diani Beach. 

Tom helped me over the curbs we had to cross during the long 20-minute hike. A few times a few of the smaller bags fell off my cart, but guess who came to the rescue each time? Of course. 

The almost four-hour layover in Nairobi is breezing by after we’d dropped off the bags at the South African Airways check-in desk, especially when once again, no excess baggage fees were charged. 

Finding an attentive skycap we only had a short wait since the South African Airways counter had yet to open. That was certainly worth the KES $1000 tip we handed the skycap after he arranged a quick check-in.

Once we were again rid of the four heaviest bags, left only with the carry on bags and the cart, we found a cozy café at the airport for a decent bite to eat with excellent service.

We were reminded that the Kenyan people provide efficient procedures coupled with superior service, a consistent fact throughout our three-month experience.

At 4:00 pm, we’ll be on board the 4four hour flight to Johannesburg where we’ll spend the night until our next flight at 11:00 am tomorrow (Sunday) morning, allowing us ample time for a good night’s sleep. With less than three hours of sleep last night, I’m looking forward to catching up.

God willing, our next two flights in the upcoming 20 hours will be as stress-free and seamless as the first and we’ll cheerfully arrive in Marloth Park tomorrow afternoon after a one hour ride from the airport.

Hopefully, we’ll be back late tomorrow afternoon with photos of our new home and, peace of mind that all has gone as well as we’d hoped with our new found freedom with less baggage.

Oops! Notice just came over the loudspeaker. Our flight to Johannesburg is delayed by two hours. Oh well. As long as we arrive safely, we don’t have a complaint in the world!

Oops! Another notice came over the loudspeaker. The flight is delayed for another hour. It was scheduled to depart at 4:00 pm with it now not departing until 7:00 pm. Oh, I need a nap!

Another delay! Now we won’t depart until 8:20 pm, four hours and 20 minutes late. Yikes!

Goodbye Kenya…We’ll remember you always…A few favorite photos…

Tom took this photo in the Masai Mara using the little Samsung camera. Wow!

It’s almost 10:00 am Friday. In a few minutes Tom will go with Alfred, the best taxi driver in Diani Beach,  Kenya (click here for Alfred’s email), to the ATM and to drop off the remaining empty water bottles for the refunds at Nakumatt.

We were so close.

The refund on the bottles is KES $1000, US $11.50 (the value of the US dollar declined $.28 since we arrived in Kenya three months ago). With the three jugs, we’ll receive KES $3000, US $34.50 back.

After an exhausting day in the bush, this older elephant was tired of holding up his trunk. So, he tossed it over a tusk to lighten his load.  Sounds like us, attempting to lighten our load.

The packing is almost completed except for the shorts and tee shirts we’re wearing today and the BugsAway clothing we’ll wear tonight for dinner at Nomad’s, our choice for our final night in Kenya. A driver from Nomad will pick us up at 7:00 pm for a leisurely dinner at their oceanfront restaurant. 

“OK, I’ll pose for you!”

Once we return, we’ll pack the clothing we wore to dinner, check our email, and go to bed, hopefully getting a good night’s sleep.

“It’s a birdie day!”

Today, we’ll say goodbye to Hesborn, our houseman for the past three months, Jeremiah, our security guard, and of course, our gracious hosts, Hans and Jeri. Then, of course, our borrowed pups, Jessie and Gucci, who will each get a hug as they offer up a round of “snappy kisses.”   

This cub was at one of the ends of a culvert under the road.  When she got tired of our photo taking, she got up, walked across the road, and re-entered at the other side. What a site!

It hasn’t been easy for us here. Nor was it easy in the heat of summer with the awful biting flies and bees in the mountains of Tuscany, Italy either. But, Tuscany certainly served as preparation for our more trying time in Kenya. How we’ve changed.

Lions in the Masai Mara seldom climb trees.  Anderson spotted this cub and raced across the bush to get as close as possible.  The mother lion and more cubs we lying under this tree.

Had we known how trying it would be, would we have done it differently?  Perhaps. But, we still would have done it. Nothing, and I mean, nothing, will ever match the experience in the Masai Mara on safari or even our three-day experience with the monkey and the snakes at the seaside resort. That is what brought us to Kenya in the first place, the hope of seeing the Great Migration. 

This lion was sleepy after his big zebra meal (behind him).

Not having seen the Great Migration was incidental to the life-changing adventure we had in its place. At this point, we have no need to see it in the future. When Anderson, our guide, took us to the border of Kenya/Tanzania to see the end of the Great Migration, the flies were so bad that we had to cover our eyes, mouths, and faces. You know how I feel about flies.

Only once for a period of 30 minutes, did we have an opportunity to watch the antics of the Colobus monkeys. Many people living in Kenya have never seen a Colobus.  Getting this shot made me want to swing from trees.

And now, we move on to more heat in South Africa (where it will be summer soon), with more bugs (wildlife results in more bugs), and a new sense of caution for the wild animals in our midst at every turn. Tougher now, we aren’t afraid. Instead, we’re mindful and cautious, and, more than anything we’re excited and curious.

Within minutes of entering our ocean cottage at The Sands Resort for our anniversary, holiday, this monkey was peering into the window wondering what we were going to do with our complimentary fruit plate. Many guests feed them putting them on alert each time a new guest arrives. We didn’t feed them.  This photo was taken through the glass window.

Earlier in a post, I’ mentioned that we’d share our total costs for our three months in Kenya. This total includes every possible expense: rent, food, transportation, entertainment, safari, resort stay, taxes and tips, fees and airfare, and overweight baggage fees to travel here. Every expense, however small, was included, such as a KES $260.85, US $3.00 trip to the produce stand, a beverage purchased at the airport, a tip handed to a bellman.

This photo was also taken through the glass (notice reflections) as this young mom came by hoping for some tidbits for her babies.

Our grand total for living expenses for the three months in Kenya was KES $1,388,746, US $15,971.78 which averages to KES $462,916, US $5323.93 per month. We are very pleased with these numbers, especially when it includes the high cost of the safari, our anniversary holiday, and the frequency of dining out.

This winking chameleon made us laugh, especially his funny little mouth.  He appears to be made of quality beadwork. We met him at the Snake Show at the resort. Tom is holding him.

Goodbye, Kenya. Thank you for your friendly people, for your exquisite vegetation, your breathtaking scenery, and for the wildlife that freely exists in your natural environment which your citizens so adamantly protect with grace and reverence. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms, as you proudly release us to send us on our way.

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends in the US…Gratefulness for so much…

Upon arrival in Mombasa, we took this photo from the ferry, as another ferry was taking off.  Notice the crowds. Shortly, we’ll be on this ferry again in Alfred’s vehicle.

This is our second Thanksgiving in a row where we haven’t had a “real” Thanksgiving celebration. Last year, we spent Thanksgiving in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Christmas in Nevada with family only weeks from leaving the US on January 3, 2013. Gratefulness

Last year, we dined in a quaint restaurant in Old Town in Scottsdale at an outdoor table, the first time either of us had Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. Of course, these past three months we’ve lived outdoors 16 hours a day. Now, it’s not such an oddity to us.

Thanksgiving for us today? Nope. It’s not a holiday in Kenya. In our attempt to blend into the culture of the countries in which we live, we find ourselves, for now, leaving US traditions behind. Also, they don’t sell whole turkeys or pumpkins in Kenya.

Do we miss it?  We miss our family, not the food, not shopping, not cooking, not dishes. We miss the family, loud and playful with lots of laughter, the grandkids playing, running joyfully through the house. Sure, we miss that. 

But, when one makes a decision such as ours, one must do so with the peace and the knowledge that the love will travel with us and in time, we’ll all be together again. We have no sorrow, no angst, and no mournful regret. 

We are grateful this Thanksgiving and every day for the health and well being of our family and friends. Plus, we are grateful every day; for our health, for our safety, and for our seemingly endless sense of adventure and desire to continue on.

We are grateful for each other; the way we hold each other up when we falter for a moment; the way that we accept each other’s foibles and annoyances; the way that we remember that a gentle brush across the lips or a squeeze of a hand, goes a long way. 

We are grateful for the simple traditions and routines that we’ve created giving us a much-needed respite from the difficult times; playing cards; a walk to the produce stand; a movie night; a meal planned, prepared, and always enjoyed together. We are grateful.

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Kenya. On Saturday, Alfred will pick us up at 7:30 am to make the 90-minute drive and ferry ride to the airport in Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya which is an island in the Indian Ocean. Often there are delays at the ferry requiring that we leave early. 

It will be a long full day of travel arriving in Johannesburg in the evening for an overnight stay in a hotel. The following morning, we’ll have another 45-minute flight with an hour-long drive from the airport in Mpumalanga, South Africa to get to our awaiting house in Marloth Park. 

As always, we’ll be grateful when the traveling is over, our luggage has joined us and we begin the pleasant experience in getting situated in our new home.

Now, we’re going to “suck some air” out of the space bags and get as much of the packing done as possible.  Back tomorrow for a short update and a few of our favorite photos from Kenya!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US! And, a happy day to those in other countries

Here’s the shocker, folks!!!…Physically, emotionally, financially….

The four cardboard boxes we’d packed, were ready to get shipped at the local post office.

OK. The power is out and will continue to be out for the entire day today as it was last night beginning at 9:30 pm. The generator is a hit and miss, going off and on intermittently. It’s not on now. My computer indicated that I have 45 minutes of battery left so I must write quickly to get this posted.

I hope that our “shocker” didn’t appear as if it was a life-threatening situation. But, for us, it truly is a life-changing situation; physically, emotionally, and financially.

Here it is:  

I had looked far and wide for this pair of 3″ heels a few years ago, loving the neutral color.
This is my last pair of high heels.  Bye, bye, shoes.

This decision didn’t come easily. We’d already packed the four cardboard boxes with clothing, shoes, accessories with the intent of shipping them to our house in South Africa after I’d verified that we could receive packages and confirmed the address. 

Our intent was to have Alfred take us to the Ukunda post office, not to DHL, where we recently had spent KES $38,953, US $458 to have one box shipped from our mailing service in Nevada to the DHL store in Diani Beach, Kenya that weighed only 13 pounds (5.9 kg)! 

Instead, our plan this time was to box everything up that we wanted to ship and use the Ukunda post office, a 45 minute round trip drive from here. It was already set up with Alfred to take us on Friday morning at 10:00 am. 

Unaware of the potential mailing costs at the post office, we knew that we’d have to get a ton of shillings from the ATM with the post office only accepting cash. That in itself presented a dilemma.  f we got too much cash, how would we get it converted to Rand (ZAR), the money used in South Africa, without incurring exchange fees? 

Surprisingly, these long casual cotton dresses are heavy, especially when I purchased them to accommodate my height, 4″ taller than the average woman.  Look at those vitamins! Many of them are also already gone, tossed in the past week. These few bottles were unopened. We only kept those that are an absolute necessity, such as Probiotics for intestinal health, B6 vitamins to prevent kidney stones (has been working for Tom after three surgeries back in the US), and a few for me.

If we discovered that we were short of cash at the post office and didn’t have enough shillings on-hand, we’d have to find another bank or drive back to the original ATM. Talk about stress-inducing! Hot weather, no AC in the taxi, sweat pouring down our necks!  (There are five minutes left on my battery!)

Of course, we weighed the boxes and looked online fruitlessly attempting to find out the postal rates from Kenya to anywhere (to get an idea), let alone to South Africa. No such luck. Nor was there a phone number to call for information. Nor was there a website for the Ukunda post office. Nada. (The generator just came on)! Yippee!

This was going nowhere. Angst was setting in. Then, by chance, I stumbled upon restrictions for sending packages to South Africa. It was the “no shoes” restriction that put me over the edge. To verify this I called the local DHL store (which incidentally is inside a pharmacy, owned by the pharmacist) to discover if this was true. 

The store manager confirmed that only one (1) shoe may be sent in any package to South Africa. One shoe? When would one shoe ever be appropriate? I couldn’t imagine a scenario unless, God forbid, one had only one foot. The list of restrictions continued from there.

Tom has always been prepared to unload as much as possible of his belongings to avoid paying any more outrageous excess baggage fees. We’d already paid over KES $173,500, US $2000 in fees between the Dubai and Venice airports, our only flights thus far.  

The nights of me wearing these dresses are over.  They are all in this pile.

I, on the other hand, wondered what I’d do if I eliminated all my “go out to dinner clothing, shoes, and accessories” some of which I’ve worn in every country we’ve lived in and on every night on the cruises. 

This decision came on Monday night. I tossed and turned all night. This was the final straw in me letting go, narrowing everything in the world, I personally owned down to the maximum that airlines allow to avoid excess baggage fees, a hard reality. Who are they to dictate what I can and can’t take around the world with me?  Anger welled up inside of me. 

Many of you may think, so what? It’s just clothing and shoes. But, as a woman that always delighted in dressing nicely, it had become part of who I am. 

We all, in our own way, are a package. And at some point in our young lives, we develop into the person we choose to become; our demeanor, our persona, our style (or lack of style, if one so chooses), our integrity, our honor, our values, our intellectual pursuits, our business acumen or skill set, and our relationships. For me, it was a package, all pieces included.

Tom understood my angst.  He knows me well accepting all the pieces. He hasn’t pressed the issue. Never. Not after spending the US $2000 for excess baggage. Not recently as we tried to figure out this dilemma. He knew I had to come to this decision on my own.  He was right.

Yesterday morning I gave him the news. I was ready to let go. He hauled out the four packed cardboard boxes from the second bedroom to the glass table in the outdoor living room and I began going through them, keeping only a few items, adding many more. The more I went through the process, the more detached I became, knowing full well this was the right thing to do.

This doesn’t look like much, but it weighs over 40 pounds (18 kg).  In addition, we’ve tossed another 10 pounds in old and worn items (4.5 kg).  On our last flight, our overage was 44 pounds (20 kg).

Tom jumped in with both feet, pulling out newer “casual dressy” clothing, placing them in the boxes along with my items. We’ve literally eliminated 40% of our combined clothing, more mine than Tom’s since he’d already cut back as we’ve traveled, to allow room for my things.

Of course, not all of our belongings consist of clothing and shoes. Perhaps 25% is supplies, electronics, required paper records, cosmetics, and toiletries (of which we have the minimum). We don’t even have a bottle of body lotion using only coconut oil in its place. No perfume. No bubble bath. No soaps. 

Friday, we’ll seal the “space bags,” weigh everything, including the suitcases. Based on the allowed weight for the upcoming airlines, we expect to be within the limits subsequently avoiding excess baggage fees.

Hesborn and Jeremiah will be given the boxes of discarded men’s items to share among themselves with the women’s clothing and shoes to be shared among their wives and sisters.

Nothing we have left in our possession will be appropriate to wear to dinner on our next upcoming cruise in nine months.  We have no doubt that we’ll figure it out as the time approaches.

Physically, it will be easier to haul the bags. Emotionally, we’ll spend no time worrying about the luggage.  Financially, we’ll save US $1000’s each year on excess baggage fees. 

The angst is gone. Acceptance has been found in its place and finally, after 13 months, we’re truly free. 

Interesting facts about Kenya and Africa…Why is Kenya called the “cradle of mankind?”… Check back tomorrow for a shocker!

From a walk on the beach across the road. One of our favorite views of the Indian Ocean.
From the return walk on the beach as the clouds wafted away.

Yesterday, after posting a list of the name of groups of various African animals. We went back to the website, this link, from which we borrowed the information and found a number of questions and answers that may be of particular interest to geography and wildlife aficionados.

It appears this site originated from an educational program that transpired in Africa over a period of over a month. It was fun for Tom and I review these questions and answers learning much in the process. We wished we’d read this months ago. But, it’s never too late to learn. 

From Hans and Jeri’s 3 floor veranda.

With an upcoming six more months in Africa, we’ll continue to savor its many wonders. Yes, there will continue to be a little whining over the heat, humidity, and bugs, but our experiences definitely will continue to make it all worthwhile.

The answer to the question, “Why is Kenya called the “cradle of mankind” can be found at this link as well as answers to many other questions about Kenya and Africa. If you have school-age children, they too may enjoy some of the questions and answers on this website.

From the yard in Kenya.

As for us, our learning continues, not only about the people, history, cultures, wildlife, and vegetation of the countries we’ve visited around the world, but also on ways we can improve the difficulties, costs and challenges of our travels. It’s an ongoing process.

With so much to do today in preparation for leaving Kenya in 4 days, today is a significant day with much to do.  Thus, I will cut this short for today only. 

On the other hand, tomorrow’s post may astound you as it has us. Check back tomorrow for the photos depicting the situation that has kept me awake off and on for two nights.

The crescent moon, south the equator is revealed in the bottom of the moon.

Our minds play tricks on us…Learning to avoid disappointment…

Thank you, loyal readers, for taking the time to read the relatively mundane storytelling of the process of preparing to leave yet another country. At this point, if we didn’t share this process, our alternative would be to avoid posting for many days with little else to tell.

Nothing pleases us more than sharing photos and accompanying stories that seem to pique the interest of most of our readers. What’s to show or tell when the packing in itself is repetitious and boring?

But, wait! A week from today we’ll be lounging on our new veranda with a tower (see chart below) of giraffes only feet away nipping at the tree tops or a sounder (see chart below) of warthogs getting comfortable for an afternoon nap in the yard or a crossing (see chart below) of zebras staring at us in wonder as they contemplate a drink from the swimming pool.

A group is called a –
Cobras Quiver
Crocodiles Float
Elephants Herd
Giraffe Tower
Gorillas Band
Leopards Leap
Lions Pride
Rhino Crash
Warthogs Sounder
Zebra Crossing or Herd

Click! Click! Click! Will the camera be smoking’ then or what? 

With much to do to prepare, to hopefully arrive safely in Marloth Park, South Africa next Sunday by late afternoon, as soon as we have an Internet connection, we’ll be posting photos and the story of our arrival. 

If, for some reason you don’t hear from us by then, please be patient. Our flight may have been delayed. We may be delayed at immigration or customs. Who knows what delays may present themselves? We don’t worry about possible delays as long as we arrive safely, hopefully with our luggage.

Of all the places we’ve visited thus far, I can honestly say, I’ve anticipated South Africa the most, mainly based on the opportunity to live in a wildlife reserve, bugs, heat, and all. 

Invariably, when entering the new locations, we’ve discovered some disappointments that the house isn’t exactly as we’d imagine. Human nature. You know how we get a picture in our mind, even with accompanying photos of what something will look and feel like, only to find something different upon arrival. 

This isn’t to imply that the property description was inaccurate or dishonest in any manner. It’s just the fact that our brains play tricks on us, helping us paint of picture of “what we’d like it to be” as opposed to “what it is.”  Moving as often as we have in the past 13 months, we’ve come to accept this fact as simply a part of the process. In a few days, we’ll be settled in, accepting the differences, but oddly never forgetting the image we’d conjured in our minds. I guess this is true in life in every area.

So now, I imagine the plastic “vacuum sealed bags” containing all of our clothing, securely closed in our luggage with zippers working and walking out the door of the house in Diani Beach, Kenya five days from today. 

Carrying with us will be the memories of safari which in this case, were more breathtaking than any vision we may have had in our brains long ago.

Part 1, Departure plan in place..Step by step process..Do we always have to be entertained? Yep!

Printing a boarding pass and tossing our stuff into our luggage to head out the door for the necessary three hours before takeoff, would be the norm in a perfect world. Traveling the world with everything we own is not perfect and, it isn’t quite that easy.

Others may say, “Oh, just do it! Throw it into the bags and just go already!” 

We get that mentality. We do. It’s not simply that both of us are organizers and planners to the point of obsession. It’s purely stress-avoidance, plain and simple.

One could quickly tire of this lifestyle if the stress was caused by one’s lack of desire or interest in planning ahead. Failure to plan ahead leaves too much to chance. Let’s face it, there are plenty of incidents that transpire that we couldn’t have predicted. We save our resources for those, as opposed to the prospect of dealing with issues we could easily have prevented. 

Luckily, we don’t experience stress in the planning process. We both thrive on it finding peace of mind and comfort as we fine-tune each step of the way.

Thus, we won’t be throwing stuff in our suitcases and hitting the road. And, although we’ve yet to pack, a lot of this preparatory work has already been started or is completed. 

Question for today:  How do we entertain ourselves during the long flights?  (More questions follow tomorrow in Part 2)

For us, a big part of the travel time is spent utilizing our technology to keep us entertained resulting in the time passing more quickly while traveling.

With a three and a half hour layover in Nairobi, Kenya after a short flight from Mombasa, Kenya, we knew we needed to plan Internet access and the battery life of our equipment carefully. 

With no space or desire to carry heavy books, we’ve used the Kindle app on our smartphones for reading (for which we don’t need Internet access once the ebook is downloaded at purchase). 

However, with many hours on the various planes on the trip to South Africa, with no power plugins for passengers in economy (we checked), we needed to plan which devices we’ll be using to occupy us during the many hours in the air and during the layovers. 

My newer (cracked screen) Android phone lasts for 7 hours of reading time. My old Android (on which I have the same books) is easier to read without the broken screen. The points where I left off on each book will sync when I go online on both phones simultaneously and select “sync”. But the old phone only lasts for 5 hours of reading time with less for Tom’s Android. 

The end result will be that Tom will run out of reading time during the layover, leaving no remaining power for reading on the plane while I’ll be able to switch to my other phone. 

As always, we have a backup plan in place. During the long layover in Nairobi, we’ll hopefully find a comfy spot to park ourselves, preferably away from the crowds, and use the MiFi’s (we each have one) and our laptops in order to be online. The MiFi charge, usually lasts for 4 hours.

Our computer batteries will last from three to four hours on each of our identical units. Plus, in checking details for the Nairobi airport, it appears that they have various digital equipment stations where one can plug into recharge. Of course, we’ll have our converters and adapters in our computer bags in case we’re able to recharge.

Hopefully, as we wait at the airport in Nairobi, I’ll be online and writing here describing the renovated state from the recent fire on August 7, 2013, and the activity around us. 

Assuming that all goes well and the flights all depart on time, we’ll have another four and a half hours in the air until we arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa. During this period, we’ll read the ebooks with, hopefully, neither of us running out of battery life. 

At the end of the four and a half hour flight, there is a 16-hour layover in Johannesburg. With no desire to wait for that extended period at the airport, we booked a nearby hotel offering a free shuttle back to the airport for one more flight the next morning to Kruger/Mpumalanga. At this point, all of our equipment will be charged which will be less of an issue on the remaining 45-minute flight.

Whew! Once we arrive at the airport in Mpumalanga, a pre-arranged driver will greet us to take us on the 97 km, 60 miles, 75-minute drive to our awaiting house in Marloth Park. At that point, to heck with our equipment.  We’ll be so busy looking out the window, taking photos when possible, and excited to get to our new home for the next three months, we’ll never give battery life a thought.

That is, not until we arrive