It certainly is a good time to go…

In 2013, Big Daddy kudu was standing at the railing of the Hornbill house.

Yesterday, the power was out twice, once in the morning and another time just before we cooked dinner in the oven. This is like load shedding in South Africa and was resolved for us by Louise and Danie when they installed an inverter system that allowed us to have power at all times.

Need I say we are anxious to be on the move in 15 days?

Last night, the aircon worked in the bedroom after not working for several nights, which caused us to wake up several times during the night. The thoughtful owner was more than willing to fix it, but it would be weeks before a technician arrived. As it turned out, it started working again once.

When we first arrived here on October 24, there was no WiFi upstairs in the bedroom. The router on the main floor wasn’t powerful enough to reach upstairs. It took a month for the tech guy to arrive with two new routers. Now, as of two days ago, we have WiFi upstairs. At night, when I go to bed, I often reply to messages from our readers. But without WiFi, I wasn’t able to do so.

With the power going out so often, daily life is challenging: the washer stops mid-cycle, dinner is postponed, and WiFi and streaming don’t work without power, leaving us unable to work on our laptops.

I am writing this post using an offline app I have on my phone. I don’t type well on the little keyboard on my phone and pick away using the index finger of my right hand. So it goes.

At least we won’t have to return to Manta to go grocery shopping. We purchased enough to get us through a few weeks when we were at MegaMaxi last Wednesday. At that point, we didn’t know we were leaving early and would have bought less toilet paper and miscellaneous food items. However, we have enough of everything we’ll need to get us through the next two weeks, with only 15 days until departure.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I look forward to a Costco trip in Henderson. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have felt this way.

But, with the recent health concerns, I feel comfortable being in the US for an extended period. There’s something to be said about being in a familiar place when one is not feeling like themselves. There is little concern because we don’t have a home. We’ve learned to make wherever we may be our home, with the sole exception for this period in Ecuador.

Tom felt that way when we were in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2014 and never complained about a holiday home and its environment until now.

Tonight, we won’t be going to Kokomo for dinner. It, too, has lost its charm when the food is marginal at best and the socializing is non-existent. The residents here all seem to know one another and have little time for passersby like us. We get that. Why bother cultivating a relationship with transient tourists?

So, off we go in 15 days. Yes, I am counting them down much sooner than I usually do, anxious to move on to the next phase of our lives, inevitable and timely as it is.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 29, 2013:

Lions in the Maasaai Mara seldom climb trees. Anderson, our guide, spotted this cub and raced across the bush to get as close as possible. The mother lion and more cubs were lying under this tree. For more photos, please click here.

17 days and counting…Whew!..

Giraffes in the garden.

Under normal circumstances, I don’t usually start counting down the days this early, before departure from a country, but I couldn’t help myself this time. With our new plan to leave Ecuador almost four weeks earlier than we’d booked, knowing we won’t be getting any money back, it’s fantastic we’re going so soon.

We’re doing so for a few reasons: one, I can’t get the medication I need in Ecuador, and they don’t allow medication to be shipped into the country for any purpose. Two, we’re done. With grocery shopping requiring a long and treacherous one-hour drive to Manta and the lack of restaurants and socialization in the area, we are ready to move on. This hasn’t been a good location for us.

Actually, I’m looking forward to staying at Lake Las Vegas. There are many restaurants and grocery shopping nearby (within five miles) and plenty to keep us busy and enjoying life.

I am looking forward to deciding on meals and shopping accordingly. I haven’t cooked since, besides here for the past six weeks since we were in Florida in July, and I can’t wait to be able to find the ingredients to make some of our favorite dishes.

Often, while on a flight, when traveling to a location where I’ll be cooking, I plan some meals and list the items needed on my phone. “Everyday life” is especially appealing at this time. Perhaps, in a sense, we are both ready to make life a little easier right now in light of the medical concerns and inconveniences we’re facing right now.

Gosh, we’ll be able to see family and friends while in Las Vegas, and if and when we want, we can go to a show on the strip or attend a movie in a theatre, which we both enjoy, let alone go out to dinner at one of the countless restaurants in Henderson and Las Vegas.

By the time we leave in 17 days, I’ll still be working on losing the final weight on my journey to get healthier. But I will be able to enjoy a fish dinner with a salad. We haven’t had a salad since we’ve been in Ecuador, fearful of contamination from washed salad vegetables.

Then again, there was a recent salmonella outbreak in the US from cantaloupe. Apparently, two people died after consuming this fruit. See the story here in part below and online.

“Cantaloupes Linked to Deadly Salmonella Outbreak, U.S. Says

Two deaths were reported in Minnesota, and the number of people sickened by salmonella has doubled since the outbreak was announced last week, federal officials said.

Two people have died in a salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupes as cases have more than doubled since the outbreak was first announced last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration said on Nov. 17 that it was investigating the outbreak. At that point, 43 cases and 17 hospitalizations had been reported in 15 states. As of Friday, federal officials had reported 99 cases in 32 states.

Several fruit producers have issued recalls for a number of cantaloupe and cantaloupe products that were distributed nationwide, the C.D.C. said.

Health officials asked consumers and businesses to throw away the recalled fruits, which include imported whole cantaloupes grown in Mexico labeled “Rudy” and “Malichita” and pre-cut cantaloupes sold under the “Vinyard,” “Aldi,” “Freshness Guaranteed” and “RaceTrac” brand names.”

If you have cantaloupe at home, please check to ensure you do not have these brands and the source of these fruit. As we so well know, there is nowhere in the world exempt from situations like this occurring. We must all proceed with caution, regardless of the location, when purchasing ingredients that will be served uncooked.

We just finished our light lunch, and I’ve already prepped everything we’ll have for dinner, including vegetables we’ll cook for dinner. Cooking is instrumental in killing certain bacteria found in produce and other items.

Not much is going on here today. Last night, we sat in the dark, unable to stream shows, with tea lights lit when the power was out during dinner and afterward. Yep, we’re ready to go!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 27, 2013:

The four cardboard boxes we packed were ready to be shipped to the local post office to be returned to our mailing service. For more photos, please click here.

It’s all figured out…We’re leaving Ecuador on December 14th…Details here today…

We love this photo, taken when we were at Chobe National Park in Botswana in 2022. This elephant illustrates how they use their trunks as snorkels. Aren’t they amazing?

What a relief! We had difficulty figuring out where to go in the US and finding flights and holiday homes available so close to Christmas and on short notice. We researched for hours, finding only a few flights with less travel time and almost no holiday homes available for our preferred dates of December 15 to March 31, three and a half months.

The first question we asked ourselves was where we wanted to go. We were thinking of either Nevada, our home state or Arizona, close to the Mayo Clinic. There were no affordable holiday homes in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Apache Junction, close to Tom’s sisters, since so many retirees and seniors visit Arizona during winter.

There were several condos available on VRBO for Lake Las Vegas. Years ago, when I visited my son, Richard, he showed me the area, and I loved it. It stayed in my mind as a possible place to stay at some time in the future. The reason there was availability in that area is the 25-mile drive to the Las Vegas Strip, where most visitors prefer to be in close proximity.

For us, staying there makes life so much easier right now. And easy is what we’re looking for based on current circumstances. We need easy grocery shopping, going out to dinner, and some form of socialization, which may be readily available in Lake Las Vegas.

So, here’s what we booked/planned in the past 24 hours:

  1. December 14: Drive for three hours to Guayaquil, where there is a larger airport than Manta and shorter flight times
  2. December 14: Fly from Guayaquil to Panama City to Las Vegas
  3. December 15: Pick up the rental car at the airport in Las Vegas
  4. December 15: Check in to the holiday home in Lake Las Vegas. See the link here. Dates: December 15, 2023, to March 31, 2024
  5. December 30: Return the rental car to the airport and pick up another
  6. January 9: Drop off the rental car
  7. January 10: Tom flies to Chicago for his pulmonology appointment regarding exposure to asbestos while working on the railroad for 42½ years
  8. January 10: Tom flies back to Las Vegas from Chicago and picks up another rental car
  9. February 10: Drop off the rental car at Las Vegas airport and pick up another.

We’re renting cars, which are so expensive in Nevada, using reward points. On one of our credit cards, collision insurance is included for only the first two weeks of the rental, whereas on another card, we are covered for 31 days. We chose the card based on the rewards’ value, but must comply with the insurance periods.

As a result, we’ll have to return the rental car after having it for only two weeks. It’s 15 miles to the airport from Lake Las Vegas. Coverage is only provided on new contracts, not extensions on prior contracts. Tom is fine with this. Also, I will be driving the rental car to the grocery store. Tom is thrilled with this, and I won’t mind being able to take my time while shopping. It’s mind-blowing for me to be able to peruse the countless options.

I’ve spent enough time sitting at my broken laptop for one 24-hour period. I am excited to put it down and relax a little.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 26, 2013:

From a walk on the beach across the road. One of our favorite views of the Indian Ocean. For more photos, please click here.

Still no definitive answers due to the holiday weekend in the US…

Lovely elephant mom and baby. What a sight to behold!

We are still working on two vacation homes in two different states. It usually takes a few days to wrap up a rental, get questions answered, work on pricing, and ensure it has everything we need. Either of these two scenarios will be satisfactory to us but certainly have a bearing on where we’ll fly on December 14, so we’ve yet to book the flight.

Since we decided to fly out of Guayaquil instead of Manta, there are many more options, some with travel times of around ten hours, which works for us. We are so used to long travel times that comparatively ten hours is a piece of cake. Actually, Ecuador isn’t that far from the US, but there are no nonstop flights, which would be ideal if possible.

Packing will be easy here since we didn’t fully unpack our bags. I could do it if I had only two hours to get ready to go. Unfortunately, when we grocery-shopped on Wednesday, we hadn’t even discussed leaving early. I brought it up on the return drive from Manta, and Tom was on board.

As soon as we returned to the house, after finding out from Fybeca Pharmacia in Manta the pills I take for Afib, which are working for me right now, aren’t available in Ecuador. There are only so many drugs that work for Afib, and this was the only one that worked for me after trying others unsuccessfully. I’ll be running out of my current supply by December 18, so we need to get to the US in time to get more.

That was the biggest motivator for us to leave Ecuador earlier than planned. Ecuador doesn’t allow prescription drugs to be shipped into the country.

I planned to go to an urgent care facility to get a prescription. Still, today, with the prescription the cardiologist wrote, I could purchase a three-month supply, leaving plenty of time for me to see a cardiologist in the US at one of several good cardiac care centers. I need a second opinion and will plan from there.

ProgressiveRX processed my order this morning, and the medication will arrive at our mailing service, which can be sent overnight wherever we land in the US. I couldn’t wait another day to place the order to ensure the order would be waiting for us when we arrived in the US.

We are both doing okay with everything up in the air right now. We know we are doing the right thing by returning to the US to determine our next move. We have no intention of buying a house, furniture, or household goods. We have decided to continue living in holiday homes that supply everything we need. Plus, with our minimal luggage, we don’t mind moving every three months.

Once my health issue is resolved, it will be fun to tour the US, which we’ve talked about doing eventually, anyway. That doesn’t mean we won’t explore outside the US or stop going on cruises. We see cruises in our future, health providing. Of course, everything is predicated on health at this point in our lives. We’ll take one step at a time.

It is also good we’re returning to the US since I need to replace my laptop and most likely will do so using the balance on a gift card we got from Costco for booking a cruise through them. This setup I have with the broken monitor is cumbersome and annoying.

No words can express our gratitude for the many readers who’ve written to us after reading yesterday’s post here. We are so grateful for your thoughtfulness and kindness in taking the time to write. I am responding to the messages one by one, but with so many, it may take a while.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 25, 2013:

No photo was posted on this date, but the text may be read here.

Checking on our options…no definitive decisions yet…Although, we do know this…

A few days ago, my laptop screen became barely attached. I cannot close the lid and use the touch screen for scrolling. In the realm of things, it’s a minor inconvenience.

We know one thing for sure about our current situation…we are leaving Ecuador sooner than planned. I am running out of the only medication that works for my Afib and doesn’t cause me breathing problems. Ecuador doesn’t carry that drug here, and it’s not possible to have prescription drugs shipped to Ecuador, even though it’s not a narcotic.

I have enough pills to get us back to the US around mid-December, where I can get more when we arrive, either shipped via an online drug company, like ProgressiveRX, which I’ve used many times in the past, or by visiting an Urgent Care facility to get a new prescription.

We aim to get me a future appointment at the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, or Emory University, where they do robotic mitral valve repair. There is no way I am willing to have another open heart surgery after the traumatic experience I had in 2019. The recovery took me over a year.

Plus, I’ll be signing up for Medicare Part B and a supplement in the next few weeks, including a drug plan, since blood thinners are five times more expensive in the US than I paid here or would pay in many other countries.

On Wednesday, the cardiologist explained that I needed mitral valve surgery and should do it within a year. Waiting, at my age, makes no sense at all. But I’m seeking a second opinion in the US once I have the insurance in place. In the interim, the cardiologist explained I was safe waiting for a while.

Taking a blood thinner twice a day and the anti-arrhythmia drug should keep me safe while we figure all of this out. In the meantime, we are anxious to leave Ecuador and ensure I have the proper medication and…to leave when it is not much fun for us here.

To keep the lid steady and secure, I’ve placed the laptop in the upside-down lid of a large puzzle. If I didn’t, the entire thing could fall off, and I’d be unable to use the laptop.

We haven’t told the landlord, Igor, yet, but we will let him know once we book our airfare and a vacation home, depending on where we’re going and availability. We don’t expect a refund for the time we aren’t using, which is about 19 days. We have decided to fly out of a much bigger city than Manta, Guayaquil, a three-hour drive from here.

Yesterday, we contacted the car rental facility, and they’ve agreed we can leave the rental car in Guayaquil for an extra $67. Although we paid an inordinate amount for the car, we were grateful this charge wasn’t more. We won’t get a credit for the week we won’t use on the car rental contract. They don’t do that here.

The question many of you may be asking…Is our world journey over after 11 years? We can’t answer that right now. We have too much to figure out. We always knew that medical issues would eventually end our world travels. But the US is a vast place, and perhaps once I’ve had the surgery and recovered, we just may begin our tour of the US.

In any case, we have no plans to stop posting as long as we have readers interested in what we have to say. I will take you on the journey with me to get my mitral valve issue resolved and the subsequent recovery, as I did after the last open heart surgery.

Thank you all for your readership and continuing interest in the simple nuances of our daily lives. These experiences are not unlike those many of our worldwide readers are dealing with as, for many, a part of life as we age. Regardless of how hard I’ve tried to avert this scenario, heredity is more powerful than a positive attitude. I am hopeful for the future. I am the oldest living person on my mother’s side of the family, from which I inherited these health issues.

Thank you all for everything you’ve done to support us along the way.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 24, 2013:

While playing Gin on Saturday, this gecko appeared on one of the pillars supporting the roof. Its feet moved in a sticky manner, using each toe in the process, seemingly all going in different directions. For more photos, please click here.

No post tomorrow…Heading to Manta for doctor appointment and shopping…Easy grocery app we recommend…

Gosh, we miss the bush.

Based on the stops we have tomorrow, we won’t have time to do a post, especially when we’re leaving the house at 8:30 am, most likely not returning until the late afternoon, leaving little time to start a new post. Here’s what we plan to do:

  1. 10:00 am: Cardiologist appointment
  2. 11:00 am: Stop at the pharmacy to fill the prescriptions
  3. 12:00 pm: Return the rental car for another, with a different company
  4. 1:00 pm: Grocery shop at MegaMaxi, at the shopping mall on the outskirts of town
  5. 3:00 pm: Begin the return drive to Mirador San Jose
  6. 4:15 pm: Arrive back at Mirador San Jose – unload groceries
  7. 5:00 pm: Head to Kokomo for dinner

As you can see, these tasks take up the entire day. It will be the first time since we arrived almost a month ago that I will have such a full day out and about, and I am hoping I don’t have an Afib event since they tend to almost paralyze me. Right now, the drugs I changed back to and increased the dose seem to be working, but I am tentatively optimistic.

This female is protecting her kill.

It seems as if I move around too much or walk too far, the Afib kicks back in, so I am limiting the amount and how fast I walk right now but making sure I do some each day. I am a little concerned about shopping in the Costco-like MegaMaxi, but I will use the trolley for support as we wander through the vast store.

Sometimes, I feel like an old woman, as much as I try not to be. As I muddle my way through this process of discovering what works and doesn’t work to avoid Afib, it’s challenging. Some people never find out their triggers, but one by one, I am figuring out mine.

Tomorrow, the doctor will tell me if I need surgery or not. If I don’t, I will jump for joy since I am not ready for another open heart surgery. If I was able to have the robotic, minimally invasive surgery, it still required a massive incision in the right chest and cutting through ribs, which takes months to heal.

After the nightmarish recovery from open heart surgery in South Africa in 2019, I am not looking forward to going through that again. We shall see what transpires tomorrow. I am trying hard not to worry and doing well, staying hopeful and optimistic.

It will be so exciting to eventually return to the bush, at this point in seven months, health-providing.

Over the past several days, I’ve put together a comprehensive grocery list on the online app on my phone, which doesn’t require an internet connection. This app has served me well over the years, and a simple one-click knocks items off the list or saves them for later if the item is not found. The app is called “Bring” and can be found here at this link.

Since most of us take our phones with us when shopping, it’s a lot easier to go through an easy list on the phone than using a pen while shopping to check off found items while shopping. Plus, I often think of an item I want to add while shopping that may be in another aisle. It’s so easy to add an item to the list.

I have been using this app before we left Minnesota in 2012. It’s free, fun, and easy to use. During the week, when I notice I am out of something, I pick up my phone and add the item(s) I need.

That’s it for today, folks. For those in the US, we’ll be back on Thanksgiving day, most likely long before you tackle your first piece of pumpkin pie.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 21, 2013:

The two little dogs in Kenya, belonging to property owner Hans, spent most days with us. Jessie was sticking out her tongue, trying to kiss Gucci. I’ll miss them. For more photos, please click here.

Mondays are okay when retired…The US celebration of Thanksgiving is approaching…

Tom was holding my bag and wine while I took this photo on the cruise to Norway in August.

In my old life, I always dreaded Mondays. As a business owner for most of my career, I often left folders on my desk for tasks I needed to accomplish but couldn’t resolve by Friday late afternoon. Remember that feeling? Thus, when Monday morning rolled around, I faced that pile of folders to tackle them one-by-one before continuing with the rest of the week.

Some required lengthy phone conversations, and others required lots of paperwork, which I always dreaded. I was efficient and meticulous in my work, but these situations were unavoidable. Plus, it was nice to have some time off on a weekend. I only worked when clients couldn’t work with me during the weekday hours.

On the other hand, Tom, working on the railroad for 42½ years, always had an erratic schedule, subject to a pager going off requiring him to head to work imminently. As the US Thanksgiving approaches this year, on Thursday, we both recalled the year he had to leave the dining room table after I had just placed all the dishes to be served on the table.

When we went ashore, we looked back at our ship, Azamara Journey.

Tom’s kids, Tammy and TJ, were at the table, along with my son Greg. My son Richard had already moved to Nevada at this point and wasn’t in attendance.

There was no time for even a “doggie bag.” Off he went with his little brown bag of lunch that I had prepared earlier in the day with a sandwich and a few snacks. At least the next day, I could pack leftovers for him, including pumpkin pie, in that little brown bag. He loves pumpkin pie.

This occurred early in our relationship, maybe in 1991 or 1992, but that wasn’t the first time he wasn’t there. Over the years, I got used to it and accepted the reality of being married to a railroad guy. He was worth it. I didn’t complain.

With our nomadic lifestyle, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore, although I’d be willing to make the many delicious dishes and pumpkin pies. The problem is that turkey, the ingredients for pumpkin pies, and the various side dishes are not readily available in most other countries. Years ago, we decided the effort wasn’t worth it.

A pipe organ in a church we visited in Norway.

But, on a few occasions, our dear friends Kathy and Don had Thanksgiving dinner in the bush in Marloth Park. Kathy had packed many ingredients in her luggage and arranged for turkeys in Johannesburg, a five-hour drive from the park. It was fantastic, although the four of us were the only Americans at the table of 12 or 14.

On another occasion, I made Thanksgiving in the bush for 12 guests, buying and roasting a stuffed chicken for each couple at the table and baking eight pumpkin pies in 42C, 104F weather. I called the pie-baking “Yesterday’s pumpkin pie hell” when it was nearly impossible to roll the dough for the pies in the heat and humidity. I’ll never forget that day. The pies tasted good, but the crusts were not a pretty sight.

This year, nada…none…no Thanksgiving dinner when none of the ingredients would be available here, either. As I work diligently to feel better, even if I could find the ingredients, I can’t imagine standing in the kitchen all day. Are those days over for me? I don’t know right now.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Again, thanks for all the well wishes. On Wednesday, we’ll head back to Manta to see the cardiologist, find out if he thinks I need heart surgery, and later shop at a bigger market we heard about, MegaMaxi.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 20, 2013:

Tom’s dinner consisted of Swahili, a coconut-flavored sauce over the catch-of-the-day. He ate a few bites of his veggies. I always tell him that fried potatoes (referred to here as “chips”) don’t count as a vegetable. For more photos, please click here.

Thanks to our readers who wrote with thoughtful wishes…No”haters,” thank you!…

Rock formations in the Galapagos Islands.

Over the past many weeks, we’ve received countless messages. After yesterday’s post here, in which we addressed our health issues, we received many more. If I didn’t respond to you directly after receiving your message, please know I am doing my best to respond to every one of you. However, with so many messages, I may miss a few, and we extend our heartfelt appreciation for reaching out.

Gosh, we appreciate the fact that we don’t have ‘haters.” Even with the best of health and circumstances, it’s disheartening to receive hateful messages and impossible not to read them. Over the years, we’ve had a few hateful messages; in 90% of the cases, we chose to ignore and delete them. Not many hateful messages deserve a response.

Who are these people who write to bloggers and who post comments on social media? I don’t get it. Certainly, we’re all entitled to voice an opinion, but doing so with grace and dignity should be the order of the day. Unfortunately, it is not. Sure, we’ve had some strong opinions sent to us via the comments section on this site or by email.

We have often responded to those trying to avoid being defensive. But, when one expresses a strong opinion to which the recipient may disagree, it’s not always easy not to defend one’s case for the opinions shared.

Beautiful scenery from either side.

While we were in lockdown in India in a hotel room for ten months, we wrote a post, found here, entitled,

“Please “unfriend me” if…Social media during lockdown.”

This post was directed at Facebook friends who may be posting negative, hateful messages, not necessarily directed at us but directed to others, which may be construed as attacking, racially profiling, gender bashing, or offensive to some people, including groups, celebrities, and politicians.

My goal was to exclude those “Facebook friends” who wrote negative comments that appeared on my feed for any of my chosen friends to see, passing on the negativity down the line.

We prefer to use Facebook to see what our friends and family are doing, places they’ve been, people they’ve seen, and a wide array of life experiences. I don’t add everyone who “friends” me, especially if I don’t know them. As a result, I don’t have a huge number of Facebook friends. Otherwise, it takes too long to go through each day’s feeds and updates to see information and photos from those people we do know.

I don’t spend more than 15 minutes each day looking at Facebook. As I’ve mentioned, once I am done posting, I don’t use my laptop other than for travel research, financial matters (using Express VPN for security), recordkeeping, and streaming shows at night since my laptop has an HDMI outlet to hook it up to the TV so that we can watch on the big screen. Tom’s Chromebook doesn’t have such an outlet, although we could purchase an adapter if needed. But we’re OK with the current set-up as is.

Many have asked if we use Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and other forms of social media. We choose not to. The reason is very easy for us…we don’t want our entire lives to be about social media. The pressure of constantly taking photos and coming up with clever quips and opinions is not in our wheelhouse.

This was wide enough that a small boat could pass through.

As our readers so well know, we do not use our posts to espouse opinions about everything in life. Instead, we prefer to keep our site free of negative opinions that may offend, annoy, or upset any of our readers. Sure, we freely share opinions on inanimate situations and travel venues, trying to stay focused on our day-to-day lives and how travel impacts our daily lives.

Again, thank you, dear readers, for reaching out. We always appreciate hearing from you and your positive perspectives.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 18, 2013:

We watched the movie “Out of Africa,” in the bush last night, surrounded by curious animals. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford both played award-winning roles in the movie, which won the Academy Award that year for Best Picture, with Meryl winning the Best Actress award. Redford won as best actor in other awards granted to foreign films. For more, please click here.

The days and nights seem to blend together and the weeks are flying by…

A pelican in the Galapagos Islands, working on a fish.

With only 51 days until we depart Ecuador to head to Tom’s pulmonology appointment in the suburbs of Chicago, time is flying by so quickly, much to our surprise. I don’t believe that we’ve discussed Tom’s health issue yet. However, it appears he may have pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos after 42½ years of working on the railroad.

We will share more about this situation when we know more after January 10, 2024. At this point, all we know is that his appointment is on January 10, 2024, and no matter what, we were heading to Illinois on about January 8. We’ve yet to book the flight, and will do so after I see the cardiologist next week on November 22.

Gosh, we sound like a mess! No matter how hard we’ve tried over the years, we couldn’t avoid our current medical issues and have decided we need to address them in the US, not in a foreign country. My heart issues are a result of heredity and Tom’s…well, from asbestos exposure. We found this out when he had a second x-ray when we were in Minnesota, and he went to Urgent Care for a bad cough.

But we carry on, hoping to get some answers and make decisions based on those answers. This doesn’t necessarily mean an end to our worldwide travels. But, we may decide to make some adjustments that coincide with the necessary imminent and long-term medical care.

Of course, this is at the forefront of our minds, but neither of our situations requires we leave any sooner than planned. Tom is feeling okay right now, with occasional coughing, and I am working on finding a combination of medications that will work for me. I have had to stop two of the drugs the cardiologist in Manta prescribed for me since they made it difficult for me to breathe, a common side effect.

The one drug, a blood thinner, is not causing issues, and another drug I had with me, with an increased dose, seems to be working for part of the day, which, after seeing the doctor next Wednesday, another increase in the dose may do the trick. We shall see.

In the interim, we’re staying positive and doing our best to enjoy the remainder of our time in Ecuador. It’s still cloudy and rainy every day, so we aren’t using the pool as we’d hoped. That would have been an excellent exercise for me. But, for now, I am not doing extensive walking since it seems to exacerbate the Afib. Once the drugs are adjusted to my needs, I should be able to walk longer distances.

A few readers have written asking if we’ll still do the posts if we stop traveling for a while and, as in the past when we had obstacles to bear, we’ll continue to write each day as long as our readers are still interested. This is life. No, it’s not easy, and a certain amount of worry and concern are to be expected now. However, it doesn’t hinder our joy of life, of being together and thinking about the future.

We intend to return to Marloth Park in June, as planned. By then, we’ll have a better handle on managing our healthcare, and with excellent medical care available to us there, we feel comfortable making the trip. Between now and then, we aren’t so certain.

We have many friends our age who continue to travel with medical concerns, some with major medical issues, and we applaud them for their courage. We hope to use them as role models and continue our lifestyle as long as it makes sense. We won’t take any unnecessary risks that could cause harm to either of us and fully support this with one another.

So that’s our news for today, dear readers. We’ll be back with more soon.

Be well

Photo from ten years ago today, November 17, 2013:

My parent’s wedding photo. Please read the post from that date that explains why I posted this photo. Please click here.

Medical care in Ecuador…

Attractive cactus tree in the Galapagos Islands.

Many travelers often mention that Ecuador has good medicalcare, especially when many expats settle in the country for that reason, along with the lower cost of living than many other countries. Today, we’re sharing information about this topic, coupled with a smidgen of information from our recent experience.

From the US Embassy site on medical care in Ecuador:

“Medical Assistance

The Embassy cannot provide health care or medical facilities for private U.S. citizens in Ecuador. We can, however, provide a list of names and addresses of doctors and facilities for you to choose from. Should you be injured or become seriously ill while in Ecuador, the Consular Section can assist you by providing a list of medical practitioners and hospitals and informing family and friends, at your request, of your well-being.

Health Insurance Overseas

We strongly recommend acquiring Overseas health insurance before traveling to Ecuador. If you have Medicare, we advise you that Medicare does not cover health coverage outside the U.S. In addition, we also recommend looking for a Health Insurance plan with Medical Evacuation coverage since evacuations may be expensive, from $ 10,000.00 and up.

Prescription Medications

While you travel, we always recommend that you take enough medication, if required to take any, at least for the length of your trip. If you happen to run out of your medication, unfortunately, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can’t help you by receiving any medication.

Also, please note that special laws and regulations might be in force for sending medication to Ecuador. It does not matter if the package was sent with a courier company, cargo company, or regular mail. Some medications may even need a written import permit issued by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health or may be restricted by the Ecuadorian National Council of Control Substances. Packages detained by Ecuadorian Customs can’t be released by having someone from the Embassy or Consulate call in. We recommend you research what local options you can get for your prescription medication in case of emergency before traveling.”

International Living Magazine published an article regarding medical care in Ecuador, inspiring many foreigners to visit the country for care and procedures. Here is the article in part from this site:

“One of the great perks for foreign residents living in Ecuador is high-quality, low-cost healthcare. Bloomberg recently rated Ecuador as having the 20th most efficient healthcare system among advanced economies, while the U.S. ranked near the bottom in 46th place.

An internet comparison of healthcare costs worldwide found that Ecuador’s costs are the lowest—lower than those in China, Malaysia, India, Mexico, and Panama. Generally, you can expect to pay 10% to 25% of what you would in the U.S. For major surgery, we’ve seen several cases in which costs were even less than 10% of comparable procedures in the U.S. You will find similar savings for dental care.

Lots of iguanas on the walkway. (Repost).

Although Ecuador is a developing country, you will find first-rate medical care here, particularly in the major cities. Many doctors are educated in the U.S., Europe, Argentina, Chile, and Cuba and continue to train around the world. In many respects, the medical system is reminiscent of that in the U.S. in the 1950s or 1960s. House calls are still possible; most doctors do not have nurses, and the average office visit is 30 to 45 minutes. Another throwback is that Ecuadorian doctors don’t expect to become instant millionaires, and the average income for doctors, according to a Quito medical association, is about $65,000 a year.

A visit to a general practitioner costs $20 to $35, while a visit to a specialist runs anywhere from $40 to $80. For follow-up visits, there is usually no charge at all. A psychiatrist will charge $40 to $50 for a half-hour session. Simple, ambulatory procedures are equally inexpensive. For example, the removal of a small lump (under local anesthesia) and a biopsy cost about $125. Brand name medicines usually cost less than in the U.S. Generics, which are widely available and are much cheaper.

Health Insurance in Ecuador

In 2017, Ecuador passed new laws making some type of health insurance mandatory for all citizens under 65 years of age and all residents under 65 who had their visas registered after February 6, 2017. However, laws were also passed, making it illegal for private insurance companies to exclude clients based on age, sex, or pre-existing conditions.

Health insurance remains a bargain in Ecuador. A review of comparable insurance policies for a 60-year-old man in the U.S. and Ecuador tells the story. In the U.S., the man would pay a monthly premium of $1,200; in Ecuador, he may pay as little as $70. A woman aged 50 to 60 would pay $72 for the same policy in Ecuador, while coverage for a dependent child between two and 17 years of age costs $15.69 monthly.

Turtles at Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve in San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos

The policy cited is offered by Salud S.A. (website:, Latin America’s largest health insurance company, and pays 80% of doctor’s visits, 60% of medication costs, and 100% of hospitalizations. It also offers extra coverage for walk-in procedures and accidents.

Although international health insurance is available from several local companies, costs can be considerably higher than Ecuadorian policies. Remember that international policies must cover high-priced countries like the U.S.

The Social Security Healthcare Option

Ecuador has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its national social security healthcare system (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social, or IESS) and, as of January 2014, allowed foreign residents of any age a “buy-in” option. Following a change in 2017, expats now must provide proof of income for the rate of their IESS insurance to be set. That figure will be used if your visa is based on your pension. For other types of visas, you will need to provide documentation to verify your income.

The rates for IESS coverage are based on the income claimed. The primary enrollee (or spouse) will pay a monthly fee equal to 17.6% of their income. A spouse and other family members may be added for an additional 3.41% per month. So, if you have a pensioner’s visa for the minimum amount ($800 + $100 for dependents), your monthly fee as a couple would be $168.08. Remember that you don’t need to disclose all of your income, just what you are claiming to participate.

This is still a bargain, as the public healthcare system covers in-hospital care, outpatient care, extended care, home care, prescription drugs, dental care, and eye care. Again, please note that the healthcare regulations are still under debate and could change anytime. Keep up with International Living for up-to-date information as this develops.

Dental Care in Ecuador

Dental care in Ecuador is also a bargain, costing 80% to 90% less than similar care in the United States. As with physicians, you will find that most dentists are well-trained and have access to the latest technology. Many of them also speak English.

Checking prices for dental care, a cleaning costs $30 to $45. Cavity repairs and fillings cost $25 to $35. Partial plates cost $325, and a complete set of dentures costs about $900, including office visits, fittings, lab work, and impressions.”

For the balance of this article, please click here and scroll down.

Baby turtle enjoying the water at the sanctuary.

As for our personal experience with medical care thus far, although very limited, with only one visit to the cardiologist in Manta (returning for a second visit next Wednesday), the office, his staff, and the doctor were all very professional. The doctor spoke no English, but one of his staff members spoke excellent English and was my translator.

The office was impeccably clean and organized and appeared to have the latest equipment and supplies from what I could determine. Nothing in the office or building was in ill repair, as one may expect. A guard greeted patients at reception, and we were asked to wait in the lobby before heading up the elevator to the office facility. Once in the doctor’s reception area, I was taken in to see the doctor immediately.

There are countless articles on healthcare in Ecuador, and if you are interested, please type “medical care Ecuador” in a Google or other search engine to read further.

As for our current location, we would advise staying closer to a big city for medical care rather than staying at a remote location such as Guayaquil, Cuenca, etc. See this list of population statistics for Ecuador here. (Scroll down the page).

We’ll report back after my next cardiology appointment.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 16, 2013:

Flying from country to country in Africa is no simple task. Check out this map illustrating the size of the African continent compared to the US and other countries. For more, please click here.