Day #224 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hesitating to mention, a frustrating situation…

I love this look on Tom’s face as he’s learning how to handle the python. Like an infant, the python’s head must be held up to avoid injuring it.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya during Tom’s first of two, snake-handling experiences. See the link here.

The purpose of today’s post is not to complain (well, maybe a little) as much as it is intended to alert those who may have dietary restrictions of varying types and can never be too careful. We haven’t been able to get it right after 224 days.

This African Chameleon, variety unknown, is winking her/his left eye for the photo! Neither of us hesitated to handle this non-poisonous creature. Check out the funny little mouth!

During these 224 days and nights, we’ve been ordering breakfast and dinner for that many days. They still don’t have it right! I’d also like to preface this post with this: the staff at this hotel are very kind, with the best intentions. Regardless of how frustrated we may become and how graciously or less graciously we express ourselves to them, there is a language barrier that will supersede today’s frustrated comments.

Although, I have been very clear and specific with the restaurant manager, chefs, and cook, as to what I can eat to maintain my health which is as follows:

  1. No sugar, starches, or grains
  2. No vegetable oils, no olive oil, only butter
  3. No fruit or fruit juices
  4. No rice, no beans, no lentils, no flour, no fillers, no potatoes, no bread

To further simplify this, I remind them of this:

“I can eat any animal products, fish or chicken, butter, cheese, eggs, salt, and mustard”

We were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. 

Lately, I stopped eating vegetables when I was trying to figure out why my stomach hurt all the time, which continued after I left out the vegetables a few weeks ago. Also, at times, some restaurants, from what we’ve discovered in our travels, cook their vegetables in the same pot of boiling water as the pasta they cook throughout the day. I’m just not going to risk eating vegetables and will avoid them for the remainder of our time here. I am extremely gluten intolerant.

My restrictions are posted in the kitchen for all cooks and staff to clearly see. I’ve been eating this way for 11 years and no doubt, I’ve struggled with this even on cruise ships where I felt ok eating vegetables when their cooks have a better understanding of gluten intolerance and didn’t cook vegetables in the pasta water.

Chameleon on my leg. Its legs were sticky grasping at the fabric of my pants.

But, here in Mumbai, where 90% of what the Indian people consume contains starches, grains, and sugars (including fruit and juices). Delicious? Yes! Suitable for me? No!

Over the past week when I quit the vegetables, I began eating a “plain” (as requested) ground chicken patty, topped with a butter-fried egg, Emmental cheese, and bacon, It was delicious. I was thrilled with my new option to have “mixed it up” a bit from my usual grilled boneless, skinless chicken parts (I don’t like chicken breasts since they are often too dry unless cooked on the bone with the skin which I can’t get here).

This is a grass snake, non-poisonous, slithering on Tom’s arm. 

In a post on October 27, 2020 (found here), I mentioned I’d experienced an 80% improvement in the pain in my legs while walking, which I’ve had since open-heart surgery in 2019 in South Africa. Somehow, I couldn’t get past that 80% improvement when I’d greatly reduced my carb load after I stopped eating those red sauces in Indian chicken curry and Makhani dishes in September.

Tomatoes and tomato sauces can have many carbs from the natural and added sugars in the sauce. I’d been a fool to eat those but did so in sheer desperation. I’d hoped by dropping these red sauces in early September, it would help reduce the inflammation in my legs, after the two separate leg surgeries I had six weeks after cardiac bypass surgery when both of my legs became seriously infected. Good grief. What a mess I am!

This semi-poisonous snake paralyzes its prey. If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk.  We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it. This is me holding it, as Tom took the photo. In 2018, in South Africa, we both went to snake handling school with Tom doing more handling than me.

So, by eliminating the red sauces, I started experiencing improvement in the pain in my legs up to about 80% until I started eating the chicken burger (no bun) dinner. I knew I had no problem with any of the items on the plate. I’d spoken directly to the head chef asking him the ingredients in the chicken patty, He said, “Chicken, onions, garlic, and salt.”

“Great,” I said, “I can eat those and continued to do so for the past week. Then, my legs were getting worse by the day. The past several mornings I could only walk at a snail’s pace. What was wrong? Frustrated and of course, worried, I decided to check my blood sugar using my glucometer, which I’d been told to use when I started this way of eating to determine if a particular food was causing inflammation. High blood sugar an hour or two after eating? This means that particular food I’d eaten was too high in carbs for me.

Tom wound it around his hands, keeping the mouth at a distance.

Last night after dinner my blood sugar was 40% higher than after eating a usually very low carb meal. I hadn’t checked it in several months, but this made me rethink what I’d eaten. It wasn’t the bacon, the cheese, or the egg. I’ve never had a problem with these. Also, I hadn’t had any “pasta water” vegetables.

Immediately, I called the head chef whom I’d spoken to previously, asking once again, the ingredients in the burger. He explained it had bread crumbs to hold the chicken together. I knew I tasted something in those supposed plain chicken burgers, similar to the smell and taste of a loaf of store-bought whole wheat bread. I should have known better. Had I not told them over and over again, no bread, no flour, no starch, no grains?

For a small snake, this snake has a large head.

I do not have celiac disease, but I have a huge gluten response known as gluten intolerance. In essence, an almost lifelong history of eating a very low-fat diet of products containing starch, flour, sugars, and grains contributed to my having cardiovascular disease. By the time I stopped eating gluten in 2011, the damage was done to my arteries combined with a strong genetic predisposition to heart disease, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes.

The cardiologist in South Africa explained I’d had these bad arteries for 30 or 40 years. There was nothing I could do to reverse it, but perhaps the continuation of a low-inflammation, low carb/keto diet, and lots of exercise, along with a healthy lifestyle could prevent it from getting much worse giving me a few more years of life.

At last! He’s got python handling figured out! He couldn’t have looked more pleased! 

No wonder I’ve been suffering while walking since I started eating those ground chicken patties a week ago. May I say, I was enraged? I composed myself during the phone call. Today, I sent a message to management to ensure they post my restrictions, once again, in the kitchen for all to see. After all, we’ve been here for 224 days.

Now, with the likelihood of gluten remaining in the body for weeks, if not months, I have to start all over again, hoping to get my legs to work better while walking. I will still push myself to walk 10,000 steps (5 miles, 8 km) a day. I will no longer take the risk of eating that otherwise delicious chicken patty that most likely contained an entire slice of whole wheat bread.

Close up of the python Tom handled.

In closing this post, I’d like to stress that no matter how much we request special dietary considerations in dining establishments throughout the world, one can never be assured the food they are serving is safe for us. In any case, it’s best to order food prepared as plainly as possible in restaurants and save the interesting dishes for our own safe home cooking.

Food for thought (no pun intended). Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2019:

This photo illustrates how the gangway was jammed into the ship. For details, please click here.

Day #222 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 8 year world travel anniversary…Happy Halloween!!!

This affectionate camel leaned on his owner’s shoulder when I approached.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our then, one-year anniversary of world travel. See the link here.

Here we are, eight years from the date we first left Minnesota to begin our years-long journey to see the world. Most years, we’ve celebrated this anniversary with more enthusiasm than we ever celebrated our wedding anniversary or the day we met in 1991.

Camels walking along the beach along the Indian Ocean.

For us, this anniversary lumps the other anniversaries into one special day on Halloween, October 31, wherever we may be in the world at the time. That’s not to say we ignore our other anniversaries, but this one signifies our “freedom” in retirement, to see the world on our terms, visiting those places that most appeal to our senses, rather than some preconceived notion of where one “should” go while touring the world.

And we’ve continued to experience life on our terms with the exception of the past 7½ months when we’ve been in lockdown in Mumbai, India, waiting for international flights to resume. Hopefully, soon that will change and we’ll be able to be on our way once again. As for any potential celebration of today’s anniversary, life will continue as it has over the past months. There isn’t a lot more we can do.

Tom spotted them coming and alerted me to grab the camera. I ran like crazy to catch up with them to take these photos. The cost for a ride, up for negotiation, was Kenya Shillings $2000 each, US $23.56 for two. 

Sure, we could have dinner in the dining room, but the menu is still the same and we wouldn’t order anything different from what we’ve been eating. Tom, like me, is trying to lose the weight he’s gained and neither of us sees a reason to change for a day.

Nor are we interested in drinking alcohol when we haven’t had a drink in over seven months, which would most likely result in not feeling so well. When we move to our next location and have a chance to socialize, we can ease our way back into a happy hour event, here again on our own terms.

The pristine beach, the fine, clean sand of the Indian Ocean made for a pleasant walk on the beach after 4:00 pm yesterday, as the day cooled.

We are allowed to leave the hotel now, but with the streets packed with people not wearing masks and social distancing, and with India in the #2 spot in the world with the most COVID-19, behind the USA, we feel it’s too risky. Mumbai has the highest number of cases anywhere in the entire country. Also, the smog and the traffic are unbearable, typical for big cities in India.

I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. You can see my shadow as I’m taking the photo.

I must admit I experienced some angst going out to the two ATMs, two weeks ago today, to get cash to pay for the package we finally received after a three-month delay. Tom has a hard time understanding the Indian accent with his hearing loss from years on the railroad. I always handle all communications with the people of India who do possess a strong accent, some of whom speak little English.

So, today? Nothing special other than our commitment to each other, to waiting out the time international flights resume, to our dedication to improving our health through regular exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, and positive thoughts, and our unstoppable passion for continuing on in our travels, for hopefully, years to come.

Walking on the beach on the day of our one year travel anniversary in 2013. Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. Actually, I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf. Gosh, it would be nice to be tan now, getting regular doses of Vitamin D. Instead, we take supplements.

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate and good day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2019:

 With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, which was our five year anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from that date, please click here.

Day #221 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Kenya anniversary holiday, seven years ago…

A morning view of our tucked away ocean cottage at The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of world travel. Tomorrow is our eight-year anniversary of embarking on our world journey. For more from this date, please click here.

The restaurant has opened in the hotel. If we so chose we may now dine there. As we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, sitting in our comfy chairs in our hotel room, with trays on our laps, I doubt we’ll change our routine. I think this may be the case for the duration, for however long that may be.

Finally, we were able to take photos of the elusive Colobus Monkey. Note the long sideburns. 

Today’s photos bring back many pleasant memories, which during this challenging time, brings a smile to our faces. What a fantastic three-night stay at The Sands at Nomad Resort! They treated us like royalty knowing we’d be documenting our experiences which was entirely unnecessary.

Many times we ask for special pricing for several reasons:

  1. We’ll be promoting the business, not only while we’re on the premises, but also for years to come via our website
  2. In most cases, we’ll be staying longer than most guests
  3. We have acquired a five-star rating as renters from past property owners and property managers
Another Colobus with the long swatches of hair. Not all of them had these particular markings.

As in the case of this above aforementioned short three-night stay, our special pricing included a discount of 30% off the regular room rates. We were happy with that at the time. But, now after researching online, their prices have increased by 40%. Today, their room rates range from a low of US $329, INR 24551, to a high of US $418, INR 31192, per night. Such prices would be beyond our reach if we could return to Kenya anytime soon.

We had such a good time during that three day period and during our three months in Kenya, other than the apprehension we felt for our safety while due to high crime risks, Our favorite restaurant, Sails, which we visited many Saturday nights, was bombed by terrorists a month after we’d left.

After returning from the pool where the umbrellas provided too much shade, Tom did a quick 20 minutes in the sun on one of the chaise lounges in our front yard.

We were ill-advised about renting a car while in Kenya even in the more upscale area of Diani Beach, due to the high risk of carjackings. Instead, our landlord provided us with the name of a reliable local man who drove us everywhere. Based on these facts we didn’t go sightseeing as much as we have in other countries.

Even at the grocery store, the taxi was searched by military staff carrying rifles, and we were searched upon entering the market or the phone store where we purchased data. Military personnel were stationed at every ATM. It was while we were in Kenya that the horrific attack transpired at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

The chaise lounges at our ocean cottage where fresh towels are delivered each day.

Our family members and many friends/readers contacted us to ensure we were ok. But, Diani Beach is an almost 10-hour drive from Nairobi. The fact our house and the owner’s house next door were guarded by two guards in two 12-hour shifts seven days a week provided us with a modicum of peace of mind, especially at night.

We had a red emergency button next to our bed and the windows throughout the house had steel bars on all windows. At night, we had to close the windows due to the mosquitos and other insects when there were no screens on the windows. The house became a hotbox during the night with only a slow-moving ceiling fan over the bed.

Early this morning as we left our cottage for breakfast in the main restaurant.

Why did we go to Kenya? To be able to visit the Maasai Mara for our first safari experiences. But, we are grateful for the time we had in Kenya, which toughened us up. The wonderful local people we met, who were warm and kind, and the rich cultural experiences were presented to us in one way or another, day after day.

Kenya is now open for tourists and occasionally, there are a few odd flights out of Mumbai right now. But, based on the above scenarios, neither of us feels it makes sense to return at this time. We long for the freedom of movement, driving, shopping, and dining out, all of which will be possible when and if we can return to Marloth Park, South Africa.

A sunny view from our veranda to the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa have very high crime rates as shown here:

Countries with the Highest Crime Rates (from this site)

The countries with the ten highest crime rates in the world are:

  1. Venezuela (84.36)
  2. Papua New Guinea (80.04)
  3. South Africa (77.29)
  4. Afghanistan (76.97)
  5. Honduras (76.65)
  6. Trinidad and Tobago (72.43)
  7. Brazil (68.31)
  8. Guyana (68.15)
  9. El Salvador (67.84)
  10. Syria (67.42)

Marloth Park, in itself, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, has its own share of crime from time to time, mainly burglaries of the bush homes, occupied by both locals or tourists. Let’s face it, many cities in the US are not safe right now either.

This adorable cat came to visit daily as we sat on the veranda of our beach cottage.

The bottom line, “you can run but you can’t hide.” Of course, now with COVID-19, that becomes another consideration for us, as to which countries will accept us and their subsequent restrictions for US citizens and those arriving from India. In time, it will all come to fruition, won’t it?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2019:

Bartenders performing tricks at the Ice Bar on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

Day #220 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 3000th post!!!…

Within the first half-hour in our cottage, unpacked, dressed in our swimsuits, this monkey stopped by for a visit outside the window of our indoor living room. Most likely she/he, a possible Sykes Monkey knows there is a welcome fruit plate given to new guests. Giving food to the monkeys is a bad idea, reducing their interest in foraging for their own food, which is plentiful here. We had no trouble resisting the temptation.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of world travel. For more from this date, please click here.

This was the beach in front of our cottage.

Yep, today’s post is #3000, after beginning to post on March 15, 2012! With our eight-year world travel anniversary upcoming on October 31, 2020, we knew this would transpire close to this year’s anniversary date. We’re only two days off.

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. Apparently, they have become used to humans at the resorts.

If years ago, I’d been asked to write a daily essay or letter generally focused around one topic: two senior citizens traveling the world without a home anywhere in the world, without storage, while living on a strict budget, I’d have emphatically stated that I couldn’t have done it.

This pool bar was open 24-hours a day, for the middle of the night drinkers.

But, here we are. We’re primed and ready for the next 3000 posts, providing our mutual good health, and that COVID-19 is sufficiently tempered at some point, enabling the freedom of world travel. As our regular readers know, we’re anxious to carry on but we are entirely subject to borders opening for US citizens and recent occupants of India, the two countries with the highest numbers of cases, a double whammy for us.]

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort, we were welcomed with flower leis and orange mango juice. (I politely declined, but Tom enjoyed his).

Now, as I continue to work on the edits on historical posts, working from the oldest to the newest, I’ve only made my way through the first two years, with six more to go. I’ve accepted that this is a long and painstaking process. But, as time marches on anyway, in our less than desirable situation, I’ll eventually get this task knocked off.

The sun is so close to the equator that it is scorching. We spent two hours by the pool with only 20 minutes in the sun. The remainder of the time it was comfortable in the padded lounge chairs under the shade of a giant umbrella.

As for today’s photos, we couldn’t help but smile over these shots taken on the first day of a three-day holiday/vacation within our holiday/vacation-type lifestyle to celebrate our first year on world travel. We had a fantastic experience as our photos will indicate over the next few days, as we repeat them through our anniversary date in two days.

The window to our view of the ocean. 

No, we won’t be doing much celebrating for this year, #8. We discussed ordering drinks, which are now available for room service. But as we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, neither of us is interested in drinking cocktails in our hotel room. We never have been. Also, it’s been seven months since we’ve each had a drink, it just wouldn’t feel like the right time to imbibe. We’ll save that for a time we can be with friends, hopefully, down the road in Marloth Park.

Our new living area with comfortable furniture and a TV!  With no indoor living room in our three-month holiday home, this was a treat!

However, seven years ago, we celebrated in a big way during our stay at the luxury resort, The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach Kenya. We’d arranged special pricing with the exquisite resort as we often do, based on our agreement to write detailed posts about the resort while there, providing them with a new source of marketing through our substantial worldwide readership. It was a win-win for all of us.

Tom, catching a few rays in the scorching sun. Not too much though. We’ve seldom lounged in the sun these past 5 months for our former “usual one hour” since arriving in Italy on June 16th due to the bees and flies. In Kenya, the only sunny areas are directly on the grass where the likelihood of a bee sting is greater. (Both of us are seriously allergic to hornets, certain bees, and wasps. A bite can be life-threatening which surely attributes to my skittishness of being around biting insects. More than once I’ve been rushed to an emergency room as a result of a sting. Tom’s only been stung once, but also had to go to a hospital for treatment. Thus, our excessive caution).

We were booked into one of the luxurious oceanfront thatched-roof huts and couldn’t have been more pleased with the accommodations, food, drinks, service, and scenery as shown in these photos. Please check back the next few days for more photos.

As for today, it’s business as usual. Of course, we check daily to see if flights and borders are open for travel for us, and at this time, it’s not looking good. It’s entirely possible we could be here for another six months. We’re trying hard to accept this reality.

Lounge, with WiFi and a reading area. The WiFi was high-speed at no charge which we found to be the best connection we’ve had in Kenya thus far. Thank you, The Sands at Nomad.

We hope you all are managing to accept the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 in your area wherever you may be and being diligent to avoid contracting the virus by making good choices each and every day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with post #3001!

Photo from one year ago today, October 29,2019:

Pumpkins and Halloween decor, decorate the grand staircase. For more photos, please click here.

Day #212 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Losing weight after lockdown???…

No, this was not a creature that we found in our bathroom during the night. It was my delectable entrée, delicate grill calamari with an octopus topper at dinner a week ago Saturday at the divine The Sands at Nomad.

Note: Due to WiFi issues in Kenya at the time, some of the captions for the photos, couldn’t be added when I carried over the photos. Subsequently, I’ve left out a few captions in today’s photos. 

Today’s food photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diana Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

My dinner plate in its entirety, seven skewered grilled garlic buttered calamari atop a plentiful portion of grilled non-starchy vegetables. I didn’t try the sauce, fearing it may contain sugar. 

How exciting it is today to see these dining-out photos from seven years ago today at The Sands at Nomad restaurant and resort. However, after acquiring a long-lasting stomach bug from eating too many baby octopus on Christmas Day in Fiji in 2015, I’ve yet to eat a meal such as this again.

Tom’s pork chop dinner that same evening with fried potato wedges and sautéed vegetables.

As good as this looks to me in its concept, minus the octopus topper, right now we’re both craving a huge juicy steak, such as a rib-eye or T-bone. I can’t imagine how tasty that would be. It’s been nine months since we’ve had any beef, which isn’t served in India due to the sacred nature of cows.

Tom was looking forward to dining with the cool ocean breezes washing over us.

We appreciate and respect their religious beliefs, but never imagined we wouldn’t be able to eat any beef or pork (other than bacon) for such an extended period. Uncertain, as to the source of fish here in India, and considering the polluted oceans, I tend to avoid fish as much as possible.

One of the many lounge areas in The Sands at Nomad, not only a resort and restaurant, but a welcoming stopping point for thirsty visitors seeking a spot to relax and unwind either inside the bar or at the tables on the beach where food is also served.

The only fish options in this hotel are salmon and prawns, both of which are tiny portions. Sure, I could place a double order for an average-sized portion of either of these. But I’m not willing to pay US $36, INR 2643, for a fish or seafood when I don’t know the source. When I asked the chef these questions regarding fish and seafood, the answers were vague and unclear. So, chicken is it, night after night.

This morning I ordered a cheese plate with a few hard-boiled eggs. The cheese plate was so huge, (again, inconsistency) that tonight I may take a break and not order dinner at all, finishing the remaining egg and cheese.

That Saturday night, the 19th, after the complimentary taxi ride, we walked the short distance to the restaurant. We were enthused to see the property in daylight. Although shortly after 6:00 pm, we’d still have an opportunity to see a few of the suites and peruse the remainder of the property while still light.

Tom has stopped ordering dinner altogether. It was either swimming in butter or too dry. We’ve both reviewed the menu over and over and there is literally nothing else to order that I can eat or that Tom’s is willing to eat.

There are some takeaway menus online that could be ordered and delivered to the hotel, but mostly, it consists of deep-fried, starchy, sugary options, none of which appeal to either of us. In any case, both of us are losing weight, which we both needed to do after all this time in lockdown.

I am only 7 pounds, 3.19 kg away from my goal, my lowest weight in the past eight years, where all of my remaining clothing in my luggage will fit me. While in the US last winter, I’d bought a number of items my sister Susan and I always referred to as “Heidi” clothes which we called clothing that attempted to “hide” excess weight.

Felix, the host for our tour of the suites, took us along a path parallel to the ocean to see the interesting and appealing grounds, a part of which included these private cottages. It was only two weeks later that we booked a three-night stay here to celebrate our travel anniversary on October 31, 2014.

Getting rid of all of those four-sizes-larger clothing (which we’ll donate before leaving India) will help reduce our luggage weight, that within the next month will result in a total loss of 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, for me. After I had open-heart surgery in February 2019 in South Africa and was relatively immobile for so long while also taking those awful medications, I gained weight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t lose it. 

It was only in the past few months, that I bit the bullet and resumed eating a very low carb/keto diet to reduce the pain in my legs, that I found I started losing weight, about 3 pounds, 1.4 kg a week. The pain in my legs has improved about 75% coupled with the weight loss. So, I guess there’s a benefit to the food situation here after all.

The executive cottages were exquisite.

Now that Tom’s stopped ordering dinner and eats a big breakfast instead, he’s also losing what he’d gained during lockdown from eating that dish of chicken pasta every night with a side of roasted potatoes. He continues to walk and do the stairs daily.

The cooks at the grill were friendly and helpful in assisting us to make our decisions.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time for me to head back out into the corridor after having completed half of my daily 5 miles, 8 km, walk in the corridors. 

Have a healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2019:

Tom’s Italian chicken pasta lunch in Wales. Little did Tom know that he’d been eating chicken pasta in Mumbai, India for over 200 nights! For more, please click here.

Day #210 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Nothing has changed…

This is what I heard flying around in the empty second story of the house in Diani Beach, Kenya, which proved to be an owl, 

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 after returning from safari to Diani Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

Nothing has changed. We’re still in this hotel room, attempting to make the best of it each and every day. This morning, Tom’s omelet was overcooked and his bacon was undercooked. He called the restaurant and asked for “crispy bacon,” a seemingly difficult food item for Indian cooks to get right who really don’t eat bacon. We try to be patient. They sent up a new batch.

The moon is a crescent on the bottom portion when this close to the equator. Who would have ever thought of this? No, we didn’t watch the toilet flush in the opposite direction as it does in the US. 

Each day, each evening the same items we’ve ordered, are different than the day before. Tom finally gave up ordering dinner. Instead, he eats a big breakfast.  I haven’t been having much in the way of breakfast after becoming tired of the same things, day after day. I focus on my dinner of grilled chicken parts, broccoli, and sauteed mushrooms, changing up the vegetables periodically for variety.

From time to time, I’ll order the grilled salmon, but the portion is so small I end up hungry after the meal, often ordering two hard-boiled eggs to round it out. We never realized how eating for pleasure was so important until this situation. We both long for variety to no avail. 

Diners at Madafoo, in Diani Beach, as well as most other resort properties are welcomed to sit outside, near the beach, and in some cases by their pool. 

This morning, I felt out-of-steam walking my first mile. Maybe today, I need to take a day off, the first time since I began in March. I slept well last night, but wonder if the repetitive nature of this same old, same old, walking path in the corridors, hour after hour, may finally be getting to me. I’ll continue on tomorrow, but need a change of pace today.

Often, I’m tempted to say this is comparable to being in prison, but I don’t, realizing prison would be much worse. The bed here is divinely comfortable and we have a private bath. We have a flat-screen TV and can stream shows, although they stop every seven or eight minutes for a few minutes, to the spinning red wheel, when the signal is poor.

While we sat near the ocean at Madafoo’s a few vendors approached us, relentlessly trying to encourage us to make a purchase. Watching the windsurfers was fun but seemed more befitting the younger crowd. We only observed one person possibly over 40 partaking in this activity.

Two days ago, I forgot to mention that when I left to get cash from an ATM for the package, it was the first time I’d been outside the hotel in seven months, except for a few occasions I stepped out the main door to collect an item from Amazon India when we’ve ordered basic toiletries and pharmacy items. Since that time, I’ve asked the hotel staff to please collect our packages and bring them up to our room. 

The sunbathers left as the sun began to set and we moved to the restaurant for dinner,

I would never have imagined not going to a market, a pharmacy, or any store for over seven months. How peculiar that is. During our last foray in the US, I stopped at a Walgreens at least once a week for an item or two. Now, not at all. Amazon India has many items but different quality, prices, and actual products. Also, each item is shipped individually, resulting in lots of monkeying around including:

  1. Sending me a text with an OPT (one-time password)
  2. The driver waits for me to respond and if I don’t respond immediately they cancel the shipment
  3. If I do respond immediately, I have to enter the OPT.
  4. Then, the package is left with the guard at the distant gate who calls the front desk staff to collect it
  5. Then, the front desk calls our room phone to inform us the package has arrived, asking if we want to get it or have it delivered to our room. We always request, “Deliver to our room, please.
  6. Within 30 minutes the item arrives at the room after the doorbell is rung. I get up to answer the door and take the package.
    This adorable guy, a part-time resort resident belonging to one of the windsurfing trainers, hung around with us during our dinner looking for morsels.  Once we gave him several bites and he saw our plates were clean, he moved over to the table of other diners with full plates.

Yesterday, my single bottle of TUMS antacids didn’t arrive, falling short at item #3 above. I didn’t see the text until it was too late. The item was canceled and now I have to reorder. Shucks! The nature of the beast. 

Ah, I don’t mean to sound down or morose. But, regardless of how busy we stay, how much we get done, how many shows we stream, and how many podcasts we listen to, this is not easy. Yes, it’s better than prison and for this we are grateful.

The moon at Madafoo’s second night we visited upon returning from the safari, then on October 15th, was almost full.

Ultimately, we are grateful to avoid becoming infected with the virus which is rampant here in India, especially in Mumbai. In no time at all, India will surpass the US in the number of cases, and probably already has, with the poverty here and the thousands, if not millions, of unreported cases and deaths.

We remain safe in this cocoon and for that, dear friends, we are grateful. Nothing has changed.

Thank you for being at our side, continually offering so much love and support which means the world to us. 

Stay healthy and hopeful.

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2019:

Ken and Linda set up our camera timers for this photo of the four of us in front of Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

Day #191 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The US Presidential Debate???…

The flowers that lined the walkway from the main building at Lantana Galu Beach in Diani Beach to the outdoor path were absolutely breathtaking.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Note: Yesterday, when editing our 2000 word post on my chosen way of eating low carb/keto, I’d made a few errors on the links for the recipes. Last night, a few of our readers/friends brought this to our attention, when we made all the corrections. You may review the edited post here.

My dinner that night: Seasoned grilled red snapper with sautéed non-starchy vegetables

Currently, in the background, we’re listening to the US Presidential Debate. With the time difference between the US and India, it wasn’t available to us until this morning on YouTube. As always, we do not express political views on this site. Subsequently, we’re not expressing any comments or views. We respect each individual’s views and fully believe in a friendly, opinionated, and lively discussion. But, our site is not an arena for such conversations. Thank you for understanding.

I listen to countless podcasts unrelated to politics and often find myself annoyed by the podcasters using their podcasts to espouse their own views. Whether I agree with them or not, I switch to another podcast. If I want to listen to political pundits and often questionable news, I am free to do so, even while here in India.

Notice the lack of veggies on Tom’s plate? He requested they be placed on a separate plate to be handed over to me. I did the same with my potatoes, handing them over to him as shown at the far right of his plate..

Each time I walk the corridors I listen to a variety of podcasts, mainly centered around health and well-being. I can’t learn enough. After yesterday’s 2000 word post on the low carb/keto way of eating, we’ve adopted since 2011, we were thrilled and surprised at the positive response we received.

Times are changing, albeit slowly, over how the low fat, high carbohydrate, low protein way of eating has impacted the lives of people all over the world with more and more Type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory auto-immune diseases. It could be another decade until these changes are universally accepted. I continue to follow scientists, doctors, and other medical professionals who’ve realized the way “we were told to eat” may have been wrong.

After our walk back to the main building, once again, we were mesmerized by these gorgeous fresh flowers.

OK, on to the FedEx package. We received the replacement credit card in the letter envelope, two months later, after filing lots of personal information with FedEx in order to receive it. In the interim, the box of supplies we ordered from our mailing service in July had recently begun the custom fees assessment, after we sent in the same personal documents.

Last night, Tom received an email from FedEx, stating we owed.INR 69406, US $940.56 in custom fees! The value of the contents is only ½ this tax assessment! How can the tax be 200%? We replied by email and await a response, notifying them that there must be an error. I looked online and custom fees generally don’t run more than 28%. Now, this becomes another frustrating hassle we’re hardly in the mood to tackle. Hopefully, today this will be resolved.

The buds for the sweet-smelling flowers were intoxicating, as in a fine perfume.

It’s hard to believe how much we’ve had to handle these past few months. You’d think that being in lockdown would limit one’s responsibilities. Alas, our perceptions were wrong. The reality remains…”You can run but you can’t hide.” Regardless of where we are in the world, we have to deal with filing taxes, paying taxes, handling insurance, website updates, paying bills, and other personal and financial matters.

Wouldn’t this make a lovely bridal bouquet?

Often people presume our lives of world travel consist of simple living in beautiful places all over the world. In some ways, this may be true. Embarking on this lifestyle, we had no delusions that responsibilities would follow us. Lately, in light of COVID-19, and its lengthy lockdown, it’s been a time when we’ve been busier than ever. Perhaps, staying busy has been good for us and when we look back, once we’re back out in the world, wherever that may, we may reflect on this time as productive and worthwhile.

Time to go now. I need to look up our credit card balances to pay them all off on bill pay, on the first of the month, go for another walk, make yet another call to FedEx, get to work on the remaining two-2000 word posts I’ve yet to start and on and on…

Just as we began to exit the main door, this red plant caught Tom’s eye.

We’ll be back…

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Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2019:

These ducks and chickens are on a mission at the farm in Tiverton, Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

Day #183 lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…It’s a whining day!…

Prior to sunset these flowers in their yard caught my eye. The combination of the pink and peach coloration is truly a gift from Mother Nature, whom we dearly appreciate.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

I am struggling to make myself sit down and write those 2000 word posts using keyword phrases as required by our web developers. Not a procrastinator, generally I attend to tasks in a timely fashion. But, I’m not sure what’s keeping me immobilized in regard to these three remaining posts.

Only moments before we left for Hans’ and Jeri’s home, we were finally able to snap a photo of the female to the little yellow birds that are so shy and quick that we’ve had trouble getting a shot. Apparently, their reticence is due to the frequent attacks by viscous blackbirds. Only a few days ago, Hans showed us where a blackbird had snatched baby birds out of a nest.

Could it be that doing so requires me to break away from our usual afternoon respite where we escape by binge-watching some favorite shows? When preparing these long posts, on top of the usual daily posts, my motivation is literally non-existent. Also, I’m still trying to work on the corrections on the past 3000 posts. I started in 2012, working my way forward beginning on page #148, and today, I’ll start with page #124. I have a long way to go when the most I can do in a day is one full page of 20 posts.

Gosh, I tell my usually-motivated self, I did get our tax stuff done and sent to the accountant in plenty of time. Gosh, I worked with the developers on resolving seemingly endless changes over the past 60 days. Gosh, I’ve spent endless hours researching possibilities for us to get out of here, all to no avail, as did Tom. Gosh, I don’t feel like spending an entire afternoon writing a contrived post of 2000 words infiltrating the necessary keyword sequence as frequently as possible.

We arrived at our landlord’s home before sunset to find Hans preparing the fire on which to cook our dinner.

Sorry if I sound like I am whining, whinging, or complaining (whatever such words are used in your locale). But, I am. Each day, after working on and uploading the daily post, which, by the way, I enjoy doing, I am done, done, done. This wasn’t the case in our lives of world travel, in the days before lockdown.

If this project was presented to me then, I would have made my way through it in five days…five 2000 word posts. But, now everything is different. I can’t take a break and escape by jumping up and get the laundry out of the washer to hang outside on the clothesline. I can’t head to the kitchen to chop and dice vegetables for dinner (or for wildlife).

Hans built a roaring fire to which he later added a grate in order to cook a full beef tenderloin without the use of charcoal or lighter fluid. Check out that moon smiling down on us!

In our travels, we never binge-watched shows during the day. That was an after-dinner or bedtime pastime, winding us down after another pleasant and often exciting day. In Marloth Park and most other holiday homes, we rarely turned on the TV or streamed a show during our entire stay, while now, it’s on all day (with the sound off and captioning turned on) to allay the boredom, except for those times Tom is listening to his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Garage Logic. (The sound of the podcast in the background doesn’t bother me at all while I’m busy writing).

Their yard was aglow not only from candles scattered about the lawn, but also by landscape lighting focusing on the exquisite vegetation.

Perhaps, I need these diversions and distractions to help keep me centered when tackling challenging projects. We all have our own way of handling difficult tasks and I’m certainly no exception. Possibly I require more detours than most. Now, as I’m sitting here writing these words for this daily post, the podcast is on, I’ve already walked in the past 30 minutes  (the timer is set for the next 30 minutes) and I’m contemplating making a cup of tea.

Now, with a cup of herbal tea at my side, I’m ready to begin again. (Gee, I’d love some real cream, to add to a cup of coffee-not available here, or a big salad, or a juicy steak on the grill or knowing a glass of red wine is awaiting me at 5:00 pm or, or, or…). It’s a whining day! Please humor me!

The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well-armed wearing our BugsAway clothing.

Whew! It’s good to have that off my chest. Many of our readers praise us for being so tough and strong under these dire circumstances. But, we’re no tougher or stronger than any of you who have had to live with the constraints established by your state, your county, or your country during times of COVID-19. It’s been a challenge for all of us in one way or another.

The dinner table for 4 was set on the grass, well lit with candles, beyond their inviting veranda.

The 30-minute timer is about to go off any minute when I’ll head out the door once again to walk the corridors while listening to educational podcasts of my own, mostly centered around health and fitness instead of past episodes of Dr. Phil, 20/20, or Entertainment Tonight which, at one time could entertain me while walking.

That’s all I have to say today. I have to start thinking of what I’ll write for the next keyword phrase with 2000 words for post #3, starting in an hour or so.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2019:

The acreage on the farm in Devon, England is diverse and beautiful. We were grateful to be able to spend time enjoying the many facets of the farm without doing any work. For more photos, please click here.

Day #182 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Making decisions…

Yes, I know. Photos of us in 2013 often show us wearing the same clothes over and over. After ditching most of our clothing to lighten our load, we have no choice but to do so. We try to wear the same items frequently in order to wear them out for disposal, saving the newer items for the future. So far, nothing has worn out. With no clothes dryers available, the thinnest tee shirts seem to “live” forever.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

We laughed over the night depicted in today’s historic photos of the night on this date seven years ago that we went out to dinner in Kenya and were the only diners in the entire restaurant.

Ah, moonlight!

It was a beautiful moonlit night and we recall it as if it was only yesterday. We made a reservation at the Blue Marlin Restaurant located on the beach on the Indian Ocean. It was a long walk from the security entrance to the actual restaurant on uneven pavers and we were grateful for our LED flashlights to guide us along the way.

This spot was ideal for relaxing after a guest drank too many Margaritas!

We arrived at 7:30 pm at TripAdvisor’s highly rated restaurant, surprised to find we were the only guests on the premises. The staff was plentiful and the service and food was excellent. At the time we couldn’t recall ever being the only guests in a restaurant during dinner hours, but we shrugged it off, assuming sooner or later, other guests would appear. It never happened, much to our surprise after experiencing the delicious meals, drinks and service.

The chalkboard at the Blue Marlin listed the daily specials.

As a result, we had an opportunity to take some photos with the staff who were thrilled to oblige. We handed out several of our business cards knowing full-well they’d be searching for their photos on the next day’s post, perhaps making them feel a little like celebrities. It was endearing.

We had a chance to interact with their two “house dogs” who couldn’t have been more friendly. Of course, when we returned back to our holiday home, Han’s two dogs, Gucci and Jessie, were waiting for our return. It’s always been a treat to be able to adopt a dog or two that resided near our vacation homes at the time.

The Blue Marlin offered a relaxed, comfortable outdoor environment for diners.Notice an actual blue marlin on the wall.

It was hot, humid and windy, when we returned to the house. By the time we reached our outdoor living room, the veranda, we both decided to change into as minimal clothes as possible, covering ourselves with repellent and staying outdoors until bedtime. It was another good night.

Zaa Zaa, our friendly companion for the evening, lying at our feet as we dined.

On another note, yesterday’s post was the first of the five 2000 word posts I wrote, to which our web developers will be editing in the background for purposes of website optimization. Yesterday, I wrote the second of five posts and that should be ready to post tomorrow. I apologize for any redundancy in these long posts since its imperative they contain the content represented in the keywords.

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer.

There’s only five such posts and we should be done with them within a few weeks. Otherwise, on all other days, our regular less-wordy posts will appear as usual. No worries. No impact on your regular reading. Thanks for your patience.

Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of skuttlebutt online about the possibility of South Africa’s borders opening soon. At this point, it appears US citizens and anyone entering from India will not be allowed to enter. Another reality is that the Kruger Mpumalanga Nelspruit Airport we usually fly to, won’t be open for some time.

The chef insisted we take a photo together!

When we can travel to South Africa, we’ll fly into Johannesburg, rent a car and drive for five hours to make our way to Marloth Park. None of this concerns us. What concerns us is when the borders of both South Africa and India open enabling us to leave.

Tom’s appetizer of bacon wrapped jumbo prawns. I pointed out the bulging eyes. He asked, “Why’d you tell me that?”

Yesterday, we had a much needed discussion, considering these facts and both have agreed we are willing to “wait it out’ here at this hotel in Mumbai, India. There’s no point in adding more COVID-19 exposure in flying to the US to wait it out, nor is hovering around various airports, as they are just beginning to open, many soon.

My appetizer was a delicious creamy crab salad.

By the time we’re allowed to leave, protocols for COVID-19 will be firmly in place, after more experience, and we’ll have a better chance of avoiding infection. Of course, if India opens to other countries we’d be willing to travel to, and South Africa isn’t open for us, we may opt to head somewhere else to wait, as long as its to a location we’d find worthwhile and interesting. Otherwise, we’ll stay put.

Tom’s dinner consisted of a sizable portion of Swahili Fish, most likely a type of snapper. Bone free and lightly seasoned with a rich buttery coconut sauce, he had no trouble devouring every morsel.

Nothing much has changed around here. The corridors are a little less crowded now. The staff is working on reducing the noise at night from our next door neighbors (ugh!). And, we’re fine. As I write here now, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game on the TV using the HDMI and his laptop. As usual, they aren’t doing well. So it goes.

Look at the size of these calamari rings! I, too, savored every morsel on my plate.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2019:

An otter lounging in the sun in Tiverton, Cornwall, UK. For more photos, please click here.

Day #180 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Frustration over WiFi issues…A cultural experience in Kenya in 2013…

This is a rendition of Hans‘, our landlord’s new construction project. (The pool is not illustrated in this rendition.). He was proud to show us the construction phase of his project which proved to be fascinating to us. Construction is done very differently in Kenya and overall in Africa.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Yesterday, when I was attempting to upload the post I was unable to edit the line and paragraph spacing. I tried everything possible to accomplish this to no avail. I uploaded the post anyway. A few hours later as I was working on editing the archived posts, I ran into more issues, finally giving up for the day.

As we entered the multi-unit building site under construction, we were amazed by all of the handmade ladders, made from materials on the site.

Hanging over my head is the necessity of preparing those 2000 word posts for our website optimization process. One is done with four more to go. It will take me weeks to accomplish this task. The WiFi issues simply added to the stress of having the 2000 word posts on my mind.

Branches, used as supports.

At 3:00 pm, I finally gave up trying, figuring “let’s take a break” and stream a few favorite shows. After trying to stream for almost an hour, I gave up and called the desk to report our WiFi wasn’t working. It was way too slow. Within minutes I was on the phone with the hotel’s tech support person.

The expected completion of the first of four buildings on this particular site was expected to be at the end of 2013.

It took another hour to get the WiFi working properly on our Chromebooks and Tom’s phone, which finally seemed to be working efficiently. But, my smartphone would not allow the connection to take hold. The tech guy met me outside our door in the hallway to work on my phone. He wore a new pair of rubber gloves and a face mask as I’d requested.

Another hour later, after making several calls to his support team, my phone was working. I was sweating profusely while waiting in the hot, humid corridor that has no air-conditioning and was anxious to get back into our cool room. By then, it was time to order dinner.

Seemingly fearless workers worked atop the highest levels of the building utilizing their handmade ladders.

Thoughts ran through our minds on how awful it would be to be without WiFi while in lockdown in this room. There are few English-speaking TV channels. That would have been one long night. We were grateful everything was up and running, anxious to return to our usual routine.

These coral rocks for both the pool and the buildings were hand-dug on the premises.

The chef sent me a complimentary treat of a side plate of garlic buttered prawns as a possible alternative dinner option. Before I order these, which, by the way, were delicious, I’ll check on the portion size and price. Ordering a tiny 4 oz. filet of salmon runs about US $18, INR 1325. These tasty prawns could easily be US $20, INR 1472 or more. Based on the fact the only side dish I can eat with it, is a half-cup portion of sauteed vegetables, is not worth it to me. It would be the same if I ordered the prawns.

Coral and mortar, placed by hand, to build a swimming pool.

After not eating anything from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm, a tiny portion doesn’t do it for me. Nor is it worth the cost for us to pay US $30, INR 2208, or more for dinner each night. I can easily live with chicken meat, spinach, or mushrooms for dinner occasionally adding two hard boiled eggs I may save from breakfast. This meal will hold me through the evening. Ah, the trials of living in a hotel!

These solid cement blocks were made on site in one of the future bedrooms!

Today’s photo from Diani Beach, Kenya makes us realize how many opportunities we had for adequate fodder for our daily posts, with many accompanying photos. Now, I look around this small room and don’t see a single thing worthy of taking a photo. If you have any suggestions, please do share.

This is the stairway we took, albeit carefully, to the 3rd level to see the penthouse, also still under construction.We were long gone by the time this project was completed.

Not much on the agenda today. Once I upload this post I will get to work on the next 2000 word post. I’m sure happy I got the tax information to our accountant this past week. That’s one less project on my mind. I may be bored but I’m definitely busy.

“Jambo,” yelled the workers as they smiled and waved at us.

Hope your day is filled with pleasant projects. If we had a home of our own now, every drawer, every closet, every cupboard, the attic and the basement would be spotless and organized. Lockdown has certainly inspired me to get things done, even in our life of world travel.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2019:

Goats love standing on the highest structure wherever they may be. For more photos, please click here.