Results from appointments with Dr. Candy in Atenas…

The clinic has its own ambulance, ready to go in an emergency.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Once back at the villa the clouds started rolling in from the mountains.

Yesterday afternoon, with a bit of trepidation we took a taxi for our appointment with Dr. Candy Midence Noguera, Medico Cirijano Cod, 7620, Consulta Medica – Ninos – Adultos (for children and adults). Phone:  2446-7440 or 2727-6868.

We’re posting the above information in the event any of our readers visit Atenas and it’s surrounding areas in the Alajuela Valley, Costa Rica and have a need to see a physician.  The delightful, bi-lingual Dr. Candy was the perfect choice for our needs. 

The reception desk at Dr. Candy’s office, Linea Vital de CR.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with the quality of service we received from Dr. Candy.  She brought both of us (on-time) into her office, conducting an exam and walked through each question on the detailed forms with us. 

The cruise line, Ponant requires the exam and accompanying documents must be completed anywhere between 40 and 90 days prior to the date of the cruise.  This worked out perfectly for us when we’re leaving Costa Rica in 19 days. 

The waiting room at the doctor’s office.  A patient came out of an appointment with the doctor with an IV bag attached to her arm.  She sat on this sofa while the IV bag was hung on a small hook attached to the bulletin board.

As of today, we’ll sail on the Antarctica cruise in 82 days.  (The upcoming 30-night cruise to South America sails in 21 days for which we needed no such documentation).

Fortunately, we passed the exams without any issues.  Neither of us has any conditions that might prevent a traveler from embarking on such a cruise that travels well outside the scope of air ambulance service while in one of the most remote areas in the world, Antarctica.

As usual, the afternoon sky was cloudy and rain had begun to fall when we arrived by taxi from the villa.  The round trip taxi fare with tip was US $7.03 (CRC 4,000).

Our total doctor bill for both of us was US $120 (CRC 68,297), not covered by our major medical insurance.  Had we been in many other countries, the bill could have been considerably higher. We paid with a credit card and were on our way after big hugs from Dr. Candy.

We now have all the completed documents in hand and today, we’ll scan and email the medical forms along with other forms we had to complete in this time frame, which include passport and other general information.  It will be a relief to have this out of the way today, along with all the other “paperwork” we mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Now, during these remaining 20 days in Costa Rica, we only have to scan a pile of receipts, make one more dental appointment for me (something’s wrong with another crown), grocery shop on two more occasions and of course, pack.

View across the street from the doctor’s office.

We’ve accessed the food on hand and what we’ll need to purchase as we’ve scheduled meals on our calendar for each of the remaining days.  After I make tomorrow’s pizza (enough for three nights) we’ll only cook dinners for two more weeks. 

This morning it dawned on me that we won’t be cooking for another long stretch, this time from November 23, 2017 (sail away date) until we arrive in South Africa (on or about February 10, 2018), for a total of 80 days. 

This won’t be the longest period we haven’t cook.  When we left New Zealand on April 15, 2016, and eventually ended in Phuket Thailand on July 23, 2016, we didn’t cook a single meal for a total of 100 days.

Cows grazing in our gated neighborhood on the return drive from the doctor.

These long stretches seem to trigger my enthusiasm for cooking once we’re settled in a new location and have begun thinking about some of our favorite meals.  Years ago, I loved to cook but once we left the US, my interest seemed to wane, in part due to the difficulty in finding ingredients we use for our style of cooking.

Today, we’re hoping the sun will continue to shine long enough for pool-time after which I’ll get to work on scanning all the documents and receipts.  It will be good to have this task off my mind.                                                                             
Have a peaceful day.
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Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2016:

This is one of the main reasons we prefer a balcony cabin. View of one of the 70 islands in the Cumberland group as we sailed by early in the morning.  For more photos, please click here.

Handling business matters from afar…Not always easy…

A single beautiful lily in the lily pad pot in the yard.

Today, we had to make several business calls and had set aside early morning during which we can only reach some of the companies due to time differences between the US and New Zealand.

Thank goodness for Skype.  Otherwise such calls would incur monstrous charges.  With our Skype phone account any call we make to the US is only NZ $.03, US $.023 per minute plus data charges which add up quickly.

We’ve discovered using Skype with video for approximately 30 minutes results in a cost of one gig.  Of course, when we’re calling a phone number without the recipient using Skype on their end, there’s no possibility of video.

Beach on a cloudy evening.

A few of our readers and Facebook friends have suggested we use “What’s App” for making face time calls.  Doing so requires a phone with a capacity for making calls and using data.  Using only Skype for phone calls with no data connection on our phones, using such an app isn’t possible.

If we needed to use the phone, we could swap out the SIM card we have in the Spark hot spot from which both calls and data could be used.  However, using that NZ SIM card would incur expensive charges when calling anywhere outside of New Zealand.

One of our business accounts requires a few signed document in order to make changes requiring an original ink signed document. In today’s day and age, this concept of signing in ink is becoming obsolete with the availability of documents easily being signed online. 

Lots of seagulls at the beach in New Plymouth on the Coastal Walkway.

When we have to send a signed document we run into the problem that we no longer have a portable printer when our quit working over a year ago.  It wasn’t worth replacing it when its seldom we need to print anything. 

We still have our portable Doxie scanner which continues to work quite well when we use it for saving tax deductible receipts.  Scanning the receipts prevent us from hauling paper receipts all over the world.

We’ve been unable to access one of our business accounts online since we arrived in New Zealand, one we easily accessed in Fiji and all other countries in the past.  We’ve contacted the company by Skype and apparently there’s nothing wrong on their end. 

Similar to Australia, many of the beaches are uneven and rocky.

We can only assume there’s an issue with the Internet here in NZ blocking our ability to access that account for some reason or another.  This is a unique situation we’ve never experienced in other countries.

With our good knowledge of use of the Internet, we can’t find any other reason that particular account is blocked.  We’ve spent considerable time working on a solution only to discover after calling, there’s nothing we can do.

These types of scenarios are a part of traveling the world over which on occasion, we have no control in creating a solution.  But, we’ve found a “workaround” as is always the case…today’s phone call on Skype answered all of our questions.

We often stop at this favorite spot for photos of Mount Taranaki.

Another issue we had today, is regarding a new credit card we received over six months ago.  Its a card that provides “extra perks” for grocery shopping and fuel, a great adjunct to the cards we already use. 

When the card arrived in one of our “mailed-from-the-US” shipments we immediately attempted to use it only to discover it was declined.  How embarrassing! Immediately upon returning home (we’d just arrived in Fiji and had picked up the shipment from customs at a local post office) we called the credit card company asking, “What’s the deal?”

They explained that the US generated card had to be used in the US for six months before it would be released for use in other countries due to fraud guidelines when many credit card thefts transpire outside the US.

Frustrated by the inconvenience, I marked my online calendar to remind us to call in six months to “request that the card be made available for use outside the US” per their requirements.  The only way to do this was to make the call as required this morning.  In 24 hours, the card will be available for use outside the US. 

These noisy pesky birds are magpies, which tend to keep other birds away.

We’re required to call back to list the countries in which we’ll be using the card again in another six months, after listing today each country where we may use it in the upcoming six months. 

This company requires a phone call whereby our other cards have the availability of entering “travel notifications” online which we’ll be updating today, again noting on the calendar to do these again in another 60 days as required.

Often, many assume that handling one’s personal business can be relatively easy while traveling the world.  For short periods, that may be the case.  For us, traveling for the “long haul” we must stay in touch and in tune with changes, updates and processes required for banking, investments and other “paperwork” related transactions.

View of cattle from the highway.

At this time, we’re also working with our accountant in Nevada, US, to complete our 2015 tax filing, due by April 15th.  We had all the necessary paperwork sent directly to her from our mailing service in Nevada.  Once she received the docs she scanned everything sending us (by email) copies for our records.  We’ve already sent her all of our calculations. Filing taxes is another one of those tasks that must be done from afar.

With both of us sharing in these tasks; Tom the investments; me the banking, payments and taxes, we manage to get it all done in a timely fashion. Once we have these types of responsibilities behind us, we can return to our relatively carefree lifestyle of enjoying our world travels.

Today its very windy here in the Taranaki Region, not uncommon this time of year. After I’d hung one load of laundry this morning, I went outside to find that one of the clotheslines had broke in the wind and our laundry was lying on the ground.  We brought everything inside to finish drying. With all these other tasks behind us today, that’s the extent of today’s concern.  We love that!

Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 11, 2015:

One year ago, we attending a senior event in Princeville, Kauai for food, fun and bingo.  We actually had a great time.  For more details, please click here.

Photos of upcoming vacation home in Nevada!…

Pool and Spa
Pool and hot tub in Nevada house.
Living room
Living room.

Below are the photos of the Henderson, Nevada vacation rental we’ll be moving into this upcoming Wednesday after a five-hour drive across the desert. We posted these photos many months ago, doing so again today for our newer readers.

Master bedroom.
Second of three bedrooms.

A charming house with great reviews in VRBO.com located in the fabulous Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, will definitely serve our needs for eight days over the holidays with family and friends coming to visit for the three days between Tom’s 60th birthday on the 23rd and Christmas.  We couldn’t be more thrilled.

3rd bedroom
Third bedroom.

Over the next two days, we’ll busily pack for the eight days in Nevada, finish the balance of our paperwork, pack the food and cooking supplies we’ve accumulated while in Scottsdale, and the hardest part of all, decide what we’re leaving behind in one final bin we’ll leave at son Richard‘s house.

Kitchen, dining area.

This is the hardest part.  Once we leave the vacation house in Henderson on the 27th, we return to the vacation house in Scottsdale for our final packing before leaving on January 1st for San Diego to ultimately sail away on January 3rd.  Any items we don’t bring to Henderson now become a part of our luggage, an impossible scenario.

2nd Living room
Casual dining and lounge area off of the kitchen.

We have warm clothes that we aren’t bringing (Good thing we brought them along for the cold weather we’ve experienced lately), piles of papers to pass off to my sister Julie who’ll spend Tom’s birthday and Christmas with us as well. 

Pool Table
Pool table in the living area.

Julie will keep our medical files with test results, our health care directives, and stacks of legal documents that we completed on Friday.  We’ll leave our tax prep receipts in a banker’s box with Richard

Kitchen
The kitchen is dated, but serves our needs.

Oh, it goes on and on.  There’s so much to remember much of which I listed on a Nevada “to do” and others that require me walking around and “looking” at everything to further remind me. Thank goodness, my memory is serving me well. 

Living room
Main living room.

Not only will we move into the house below, but we’ll get ready for Christmas, baking (for guests), decorating (just a little), and go to our dentist appointments for final cleanings.  After the dentist, Tom has an appointment at a local travel clinic for his last TwinRix vaccine. 

Spa
Hot tub as part of the pool.

Plus, we’ll complete the arrangements for the sale of Tom’s car (prospective buyer in the works), hopefully, to transpire while we’re in San Diego over the last two days.  If that doesn’t work out for any reason, of course, we have a Plan B. 

On January 2, we’ll take the SUV to a local dealer and sell it for whatever they’ll give us.  Apparently, there’s a shortage of clean used vehicles. After pricing it at Edmunds, we feel confident that we will sell it for close to the dealer’s wholesale price. It’s a 2010 model and in perfect condition.  We’re already prepared for a low offer accepting this reality as part of the process, especially after doing so poorly at our estate sale. Ouch!  Nobody cares to pay what we feel “our stuff” is worth.  

Here’s the link to the details and photos about the Henderson home.  (Please excuse the formatting issues. It’s rather tricky copying and pasting photos from other web sites.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, web design is not my forte).
http://www.vrbo.com/301335

Responsibility travels well…

Life is filled with responsibility.  There’s no escaping it.  It goes wherever we may go.  Self discipline is the driving force to commit us to responsibility.  

Some have asked if we will have a sense of freedom, leaving behind work, finally both retired, of the day to day responsibilities of the upkeep and maintenance of a home, a lifestyle we have clung to for decades and the love-centered responsibilities that come with the care and feeding of family and friends. 

Will we feel free and unencumbered by “stuff” that for us, as for most, dictates the tone of our daily lives?

The answers to these questions are yet to come from the upcoming experiences in our near future. It’s easy to speculate as to “how” one will feel when a certain scenario transpires. Anticipation in itself is often fodder for disappointment. How do we temper it?

Perhaps, by facing the responsibilities that will follow us around the world. These thoughts are not in an effort to dampen our enthusiasm. It is to maintain a level of reality that essentially will give us peace of mind that will ultimately enhance our experience.

Loaded with tasks to complete before we leave, we must gather the list of that which will carry with us, not in our overloaded luggage but in our minds and on secure Internet storage. Here are some of these:

  1. File income taxes each year in the same manner we have done while in the US.  Our long time accountant is prepared to do our taxes all via email and documents forwarded to him by our upcoming mail service with our direction.  He will file electronically (as we’ve done for years) and our refund will be deposited in our bank account.
  2. Handle all snail mail through our mailing service.  They will send us a daily list of mail and will scan and email anything of importance.  They will snail mail replacements debit/credit cards and packages for a small fee plus postage.
  3. Apply for necessary visas and maintain second passports. Second passports are necessary in order to submit a passport with each application for a visa.  We don’t want to be in a foreign country without passports in our possession at all times. Second passports must be renewed every two years in the US.
  4. File insurance claims and stay updated on policy changes as to coverage while out of the US.
  5. Handle prescription refills.  We are still awaiting a response for our prescription plan as to providing us with one year of refills at a time. 
  6. Stay updated on both business and personal email/Skype. Email and Skype will be the primary sources of communication with our family and friends. Tom and I are both diligent checking email and will continue to do so provided we are able to receive an adequate connection.  If we have a problem, we will seek out other local Internet resources frequently.
  7. Seek out health clubs at each location.  In Placencia, Belize, there isn’t a health club!  There are hotels with adequate facilities and also private trainers.  As soon as our bags are unpacked, I will be on a mission to establish a relationship with a facility to ensure I can maintain my current level of fitness.  The walking we will surely be engaging in will not be a strenuous enough activity for me, although it may be adequate for Tom.  
  8. Find a dentist every 6 months. Tom and I are diligent about daily flossing and having our teeth cleaned every six months.  As the time nears, we will ask the locals for reliable dentists in the area, paying out of our pockets. Our dental plan will be useless abroad.
  9. Arrange vision exams every two years.  Tom’s family history of serious eye disease and blindness require exams by an ophthalmologist every two years.  Overall, we will be living in remote areas around the world.   Taking the time and bearing the expense to seek out quality care will be a prerequisite.  My vision issues are typical age-related, remedied by mono vision contact lenses.  I have packed a two year’s supply.  Tom will have eye exams and new glasses before we leave the US.
  10. Family members birthdays. All these years we have given gifts to our grown children and grandchildren at the time of their birthdays.  For the future, our gift to our adult children will be occasional plane tickets to visit us for a “free” vacation.  As for the grandchildren, Amazon will be our friend and theirs, where we can purchase gift cards, allowing them to choose something fun from Grandma and Grandpa each year on their birthdays. 
  11. Trip planning.  We have yet to book beyond the arranged 949 days from October 31, 2012.  As the time nears, it will be necessary to book airfare, train travel, ferries and auto rentals. There are some holes in our itinerary that we are holding for the five cruises we want to book that are not posted as yet. Once we are a year out, we will be able to complete some of these bookings, sooner rather than later. Neither of us are “last minute” planners. (As you can see)!
  12. Food shopping. Our special dietary needs will be a challenge wherever we travel.  Finding gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free, starch free, low carb foods will surely be a challenge. Here is another mission for us as soon as we unpack.  If we can find grass fed beef and pork, free range chicken and eggs, wild caught fish and organic vegetables, we will be able to enjoy our meals. We use Greek yogurt, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut milk, real butter, spices and Stevia. If these items are available, we will be delighted!  
  13. The constant tracking of all of our expenses. Every receipt and all cash purchases will be logged daily in our expenses spreadsheet to ensure we are staying within our budget.  If necessary, adjustments will be made if we are over the budget to cut back and cover the shortage over a period of months if necessary.  If we are “under” we may choose to dine out more often or upgrade to first class when we have no alternative but to fly. (We are bringing a tiny portable scanner and printer in order to scan receipts, making it unnecessary to haul the receipts with us for years. The printer will provide boarding passes and other documents as needed).
Yes, this list could be overwhelming.  Here in the US, its familiar and a part of our everyday life. From afar? Maybe not. We can only look at these responsibilities with optimism and a sense of challenge, rolling it all into the adventure, chipping away at it, as we go.

As they say, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Hum…

Shredding a lifetime of papers…

As October looms nearer and nearer to our Halloween departure date, I lay awake at night prioritizing my tasks. With Tom gone to work Monday through Friday for 14 hours a day, the sorting and packing of a lifetime is logically in my hands. 

A portion of the most unbearable tasks has been started or completed, including the cleaning of our formerly junk laden attic, the messy top of my closet, many overstuffed drawers and hangers with outdated forgotten clothes, much of which I already hauled to Goodwill.  

We’ve scanned over 500 photos thus far with hundreds more to go.  A few months back, I removed every photo in a frame in our house, scanning the photo and saving an entire plastic tote filled with frames to be sold at our upcoming estate sale.

Looming in the back of my mind these past months have been the papers; boxes, drawers, file cabinets, banker’s boxes filled to the brim with receipts, tax records, legal documents, forms, medical files, certificates, insurance policies and on and on. 

Although not hoarders, we’ve kept that which we thought we’d need to keep, 90% of which we never referenced in all of these years. After assessing the paper inventory over the past months, I came to the realization that saving these documents would require no less than a 5′ x10″ storage facility, costing no less than $50 a month.  Goodbye, papers!

I called our accountant asking a few pertinent questions:

How long is one required to keep tax returns?

How long must one keep the supporting receipts for the tax returns? The answers to these questions are vague (Isn’t it surprising that the IRS would be vague?)  If you cheat on your taxes, you’ll need to keep your records indefinitely!  If you don’t, please see the IRS link for the vague answers.

Final question for the accountant:
Will he be able to do our taxes when we are no longer residents of Minnesota? Answer: Yes, as long as we have access to the internet.

The magic of the Internet with the availability of keeping digital personal records is steering us further and further away from the necessity of keeping paper copies of everything.  Our medical records, bank statements, income records, financial records, and other legal documents an now be kept online in a secure “cloud.”  
I made a list of the documents we’ll need to keep and subsequently store. (This list may be different for you depending on your personal circumstances).  

Documents to store:
  1. Original titles to cars (until we sell them both before we leave the US).
  2. Tax returns past 5 years (accountant has these also)
  3. Tax receipts for the past 7 years (per the advice of the accountant)
Documents to bring with us:
  1. Passports, upcoming visas, travel documents
  2. Originals of birth certificates, baptismal certificates, marriage certificate 
  3. New driver’s licenses for new state of residency
  4. Health: Insurance cards, current prescriptions, actual prescription bottles, immunization records, emergency contact information in states
  5. Checkbook (some property owners would like the balance of the rent paid via check) and recently renewed debit and credit cards
  6. Travel insurance documents
Today, after a brisk 45 minute walk on an otherwise lovely morning, I returned home with a certain sense of dread knowing that I must begin the sorting process.  When beginning a dreaded project I’ve always preferred to begin with the “worst first.”  

First, I attacked the old style wood two drawer file cabinet in our bedroom that loomed in my mind in the middle of the night. 
My next concern is the disposal of the papers, shredding and recycling as the only logical choices. After researching online I found a free shredding event which I put on my calendar with a plan to haul my two big bags of papers on June 23rd to the grocery store parking lot where Shredit will be offering the service to the community. 

After sorting for most of the day, I’ve discovered few simple steps to keep the amount to be shredded to a minimum:
  1. Place two plastic totes on either side of your chair, designating one bin for recycling, the other for shredding
  2. Place a cabinet, drawer, or box of papers in front of you on the floor
  3. Go through papers, removing envelopes, advertising, printed booklets and anything that doesn’t reference your name, address, social security number, bank account numbers, dollar amounts, etc., placing papers in appropriate tote; all personal items go into the shredding bin, all peripheral papers in the recycle bin.  (Tear off parts of forms with your personal information and save the rest for the recycle bin).
You’ll be amazed how much smaller your shredding pile is, as opposed to the recycle pile.  Place papers to be shredded into containers as suggested by your free recycle event into either bags or boxes.  Deliver them to the specified location on the specified date and time.  If one has additional shredding beyond that which the shredding event will accept, one can plan to repeat this process closer to the next arranged date in the area.  
Often, waiting for a free event is difficult when we so much want to get this cleaned up and out the door.  Most office supply stores have a shredding program (prices vary by locations and promotions).

Although I still have several more days of papers to toss, it’s less intimidating with this simple plan in place.  Hopefully, by week’s end this task will be completed, leaving me with little piles of the documents we will be taking with us on our journey.  I am looking forward to an enormous sense of relief.

Tomorrow is Round #3 of vaccinations which will include the first  of three rabies shots.  I’ll keep you posted!