Day #226 in lockdown in Mumbai, India…Election results day…Bubonic plague in Africa, two years ago…

More than 1,300 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as nearby nations have been placed on high alert
This map of Africa in 2017 illustrates that there was a high risk for bubonic plague. At that time, we were planning to be in South Africa beginning in February 2018 and other countries to renew our visa status. We, ultimately, stayed in Africa for 15 months at that time.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2017, during the news on the bubonic plague impacting the east coast of Africa. See the link here.

After a solid 5½ hours of uninterrupted sleep, I bolted out of bed at 5:00 am, anxious to shower, dress, and get ready to start the day, watching US news on the elections. While getting dressed, I had the news on my phone in the bathroom, but the results were only dribbling in at that time.

Tom’s early morning view of the moon setting on the horizon, taken from the veranda.

Not wanting to awaken Tom, I decided against turning on the news on the TV to one of the few English-speaking channels in India. My phone is a perfect resource for information and at the moment, at 6:00 am, I’m dressed for the day, sitting in my comfy chair, earbuds in my ears, listening to the news on my phone while I’m preparing today’s post.

My goal is to complete today’s post by the time Tom awakens and be able to plug in my laptop to the TV with live broadcasts of US news available to stream. I don’t mind not working on my laptop today. Instead, use it to see what’s transpiring with the election.

We’ve often been asked if we pay attention to what is transpiring in the US as we’ve traveled the world, and without a doubt, regardless of our fears and frustration over recent events, of course, we care deeply about our home country. We always stay in close touch via the news and read a variety of publications online.

A boy covers his mouth as a council worker sprays disinfectant during the clean-up of the market in the Anosibe district, one of the most unsalubrious districts of Antananarivo.
Street scene in Madagascar during the plague. (Not our photo).

Over these many months in lockdown, we are paying particular attention when we’ve had news on, in the background,  most days, switching between the few English speaking stations, most of which are international news which also has a significant impact on our lives. There are one or two English-speaking Indian news channels which we also watch for updates on COVID-19 and the possibilities of the opening of international flights.

As for today’s photos, on this date in 2017, news broke about the bubonic plague (ironic, eh?) hitting the eastern coast of Africa. It caused us concern with our plans to head to South Africa in February, three months later. Fortunately, the virus was contained by the time we arrived in Africa. We headed to Marloth Park to celebrate my 70th birthday at Jabula with friends and hopefully stay for an extended period.

By traveling in and out of South Africa by visiting other countries in Africa, we were able to stay for 12 months with only applying for one visa extension by traveling to other African countries and returning to South Africa for another 90-day visa stamp.

People queue at a pharmacy in downtown Antananarivo, Madagascar to buy protection masks against infections and medicines against plague on Monday, October 2.
Locals outside a pharmacy in Madagascar. (Not our photo).

When I had open-heart surgery in South Africa and couldn’t travel for three months, we overstayed our last visa by 90 days. Tom was too busy taking care of me to spend days working on another visa extension. We were told we couldn’t return for five years when we left the country, described as “undesirables.” We had letters from doctors and proof of payment for medical bills to prove the reason why we’d overstayed. Still, we were banned.

While in Ireland after leaving SA, we hired a South Africa law firm to help us acquire a waiver to allow us to return sooner than in five years. After considerable legal fees, it was granted months later, and now, ironically, we can’t get there. So much has changed for us and people all over the world in 2020. I don’t believe this will be over with the new year.

Regardless of today’s US election results, we pray for the safety and well-being of our fellow US citizens and citizens of the world.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2019:

The travel anniversary cake was hosted by Murano, a specialty restaurant on the ship. Tom didn’t eat any of it. We handed it over to the neighbors from Minnesota in the next cabin for them to enjoy. For more photos, please click here.

There’s no respite from life’s realities while living far away…Hand feeding the alpacas…

This particular mom, one of the larger in the herd, is very bossy, snorting and pushing the others away as I feed them by hand. It took quite a while for the alpacas to get to this point of trusting me enough to partake. Now, they seem comfortable around us.

We never made the assumption that traveling the world would insulate us from the realities and sorrows of life.  Without a doubt, we feel the pain, worry, and concern for those we know and love in our personal lives and also for our many readers worldwide who often write privately sharing their personal stories.

Then, of course, are the stories we see on the world news when we have access to a TV, as we’ve had in the past six weeks. While living n Fiji, we didn’t have a TV and with metered wifi, it was difficult to do much more than read a few favorite online news outlets.

Luckily, Facebook, which we didn’t use as much in our old lives as we do now, has the ability to keep us attuned to what’s happening in the lives of family and friends. As for events in the news, we find most comments influenced by each individual’s views and opinions. 

 “Got any treats?”

In a perfect world, people would keep their political views out of Facebook, leaving those for the more politically inclined websites where they can have at it to their heart’s content. I cringe when I see bashing and bullying of anyone regardless of their political affinity, their personal choices, and their opinions. 

I entirely shy away from expressing any political views on Facebook or on this site other than my occasional soapbox ranting about unhealthy chemical-laden food production and manufacturing. Even that, I attempt to keep under control.

This website is not intended as a political arena nor will it ever be. Sure, we’re glued to the TV during the US primary elections/caucuses, staying put today as the primary ramps up on “Super Tuesday” as citizens of many states vote on their choices for presidential candidates for November’s upcoming election.

The alpacas respond well to being herded into a different paddock.

We’ll order absentee ballots to take responsibility for voting as many traveling citizens do. We don’t take this responsibility lightly. Our concern for our home country hasn’t faltered these past years living outside the US. 

In many ways, our concerns have escalated as we’re deeply concerned over the state of the economy and the rapidly growing risks of terrorism and disease in the US and worldwide. 

This life we live isn’t a “vacation” or “holiday” during which one gets themselves into a playful, festive state of being as an often well-deserved means of escaping the realities of daily life and world affairs. 

It’s fun to hand-feed them their special grassy feed. Some are too shy to participate.

Some travelers go as far as avoiding their social media and news as they “escape” into what is often a one or two-week respite from daily life. It’s no wonder it was always so hard to return to “normal” life upon returning from a vacation.

For us, there’s no escaping nor is there a need or desire to do so, perhaps by choice, perhaps by design, perhaps by a certain sense of responsibility we carry with us. It’s not a burden, no more than acknowledging birthdays and special occasions of those we love and left behind. It’s all a part of this reality.

Yesterday, when we spoke on Skype with our accountant in Nevada, our home state of residency, we began the preparation for filing taxes in the US by April 15th. Many people have commented how surprised they are we still are obligated to file and pay US taxes. 

I’ve spent so much time outdoors with the alpacas and walking in the area, I’ve definitely got a “farmer’s tan” having never once put on a swimsuit since our arrival.

Wherever we may travel, we remain citizens of the US which doesn’t make us exempt from filing and paying taxes. In other words, you can “run but you can’t hide” which in essence, as a favorite expression, is the ultimate basis of today’s observations.

This is not to say that our daily lives revolve around world affairs more than that of many of our readers. We awake every morning excited for a new day, grateful for good health and the unreal opportunity to travel the world that we’ve been fortunate enough to bestow upon our lives in our retirement years.

Last night Trish and Neil moved the alpacas back to the paddock surrounding our house. I can’t wait to fill the colorful baskets with their special food and feed them by hand while sitting on the veranda. Interacting with all of them, both moms and babies feel as if we’re on vacation, lost in the pure joy of the experience.

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2015:

Hand-feeding chickens in Kauai. .It’s no wonder the chickens proliferate and hang out at the beaches in Kauai where surfers and bathers can’t resist feeding them.  No one seems to mind the chickens and roosters, instead, finding humor in their presence, as we did during our four-month stay on the island. For more photos, please click here.