Day #278 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…15 days and counting…

We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish in Fiji when it was often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months. I was looking forward to cooking fish once we arrived in New Zealand, our next stop in our journey.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while staying in Pacific Harbour, on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji when visiting the local farmer’s market. For more details on this post, please click here.

It almost feels like yesterday, when we spent the holidays in Fiji five years ago, living on two islands; four months on the smaller island of Vanua Levu and one month on the main island of Viti Levu. In each case, we had exceptional experiences, even during the holiday season.

Dried leaves used for weaving rugs and other items.

Having little opportunity to interact with others, on either island when tourists quickly came and went, every aspect of our experiences was on our own with one or two exceptions; Sewak, a neighbor in Savusavu, and a lovely newlywed couple while in Pacific Harbour with whom we dined out before they left to return to the US.

A particular delight in Fiji was the friendly nature of the local shopkeepers, household helpers, and people we encountered along the way. Some property owners and managers of holiday homes, we’ve rented have made a concerted effort to socialize with us while others are kind and friendly but standoffish to a degree.

Pineapple is a commonly grown fruit in Fiji, often available for the taking in many areas. At the farmer’s market, they mostly sell to visitors, not as many locals.

I suppose it was no different when either of us owned and managed rental properties in our old lives. We maintained a level of aloofness in the event something went wrong and as the owner/manager, we’d have to remain “professional” in the event of any potential issues. We get this.

Of course, those that made the effort, have since become lifelong friends such as Louise and Danie in South Africa. The fact they’ll manage our holiday rental is relevant, as we totally respect and honor the integrity of the business-side of our relationship. The rest is pure friendship and fluff.

Pineapple leaves stripped from the pineapples are used for weaving and decorations.

Louise and Danie will be the first people we’ll see when we arrive and the last people we see when we depart with many more times in between for pure socialization and fun. We can’t wait to see them and all of our other many special friends in Marloth Park, providing all goes well in 15 days.

And now? How is it going? We’re doing OK, relatively cheerful, entrenched in our usual routines, and anticipating beginning to go through our luggage in order to lighten the load when it will soon be time to pack. I am totally prepared to once again, “say goodbye” to many of my clothing items in order to accomplish this daunting task.

Rows upon rows of pineapples for sale for one third the cost as in Hawaii.

Fortunately, unloading a number of clothing items will be easy when many of them were purchased a year ago in Arizona when I was 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, heavier. I won’t be saving any of those in the event of a future weight gain, which I’ve promised myself won’t happen again. With strict luggage weight restrictions, we can’t afford such a scenario as keeping clothing we don’t wear.

While in this hotel, I’ve washed and worn the same two pairs of black stretchy pants that still fit and three shirts that are very baggy. During this entire almost 10 months I haven’t worn a bra (TMI) and dread having to do so going forward. It’s still uncomfortable on my chest from the open heart surgery and may remain so indefinitely.

The look on this kid’s face is priceless as he checks out the big slices of locally grown watermelon at the farmer’s market in Suva. Hope his dad made a purchase.

But, on travel day, I’ll need to bite the bullet to be “appropriately dressed” in public. The only notice anyone took of me while walking in the corridors was as this masked “mean” woman telling everyone to put a mask on, or cover their nose with their mask. I still don’t get why people don’t cover their nose!

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a pleasant day as we wind down this dreadful year toward the New Year.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2019:

With no new photos, one year ago we posted this photo on this date in 2013 giving a perspective of the small size of this island, somehow appealing to her for its varied vegetation. For the story posted, one year ago, please click here.

Part 1…Fabulous time out and about…Many new acquaintances…More new photos…


Upon entering the Market @ Franklin we immediately met Natalie who’s  natural bath, skincare and beauty line, Naturally Spellbound, is made with all organic products and essential oils.  Natalie can be reached here

After yesterday’s post discussing our occasional lack of motivation to get out and the fact that it was a blissfully sunny day, we decided to “hit the road.”  With our vacation/holiday home located on a long highway with few outlets to other areas and, not feeling up to spending a few hours in the car, we headed back to Franklin.

The Market @ Franklin is held the last Sunday of every month in the historic Palais Theatre in Franklin, Huon Valley, Tasmania.  This attractive venue may be rented for weddings, celebrations and other events.

A few days ago we’d spent the afternoon at the Australia Day celebrations in Franklin, Tasmania.  Grace, the alpaca products vendor, directed us to the brick building and on Main Street where on the last Sunday of every month, a comprehensive farmers type market is held.  She encouraged us to attend when sensing we’d certainly get a kick out of it.

As we moseyed along the rows of displays, this display caught our eye, especially after we were offered a sample.

Grace was right.  No more than moments after entering the door of the historic Palais Theatre we encountered Natalia who not only represents her fine products (photo shown here) but also is the organizer of the year round event as shown here:

“The Market @ Franklin



The Market @ Franklin in the Palais Theatre  on the last Sunday of the month all year round. Come along and enjoy a great market day out, and inspect the wares, crafts and fresh produce of Huon Valley’s locals.



The Huon Valley Growers and Makers Market features 30+ stalls showcasing and selling the best produce and craft of the Huon Valley including seasonal fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, jams, chutney, honey, cakes, pies and olive oil, plants, seedlings and herbs, ceramic wooden and textile crafts, jewellery and alpaca products. 
For stall enquires please contact Natalie via email: natalie@simplyspellbound.com.au


After tasting the naturally “smoked” sea salt, we couldn’t resist making a purchase from Smoked Salt Tasmania.


We chatted with Natalie for quite awhile, taking photos of her beautiful display and reveling over this wonderful area of the Huon Valley.  As is the case of many we’ve met in Tasmania their roots started in one of the big cities in Australia’s mainland.

Much to our pleasure we engaged in a lengthy conversation with Miffy and Don, the owners and creators of this unique product, Smoked Salt Tasmania. For more information on the most delicious salt on the planet, please click here. They may also be reached at Facebook: Smoked Salt Tasmania. What a delightful couple!

Many have shared that they’d longed for the less hectic lifestyle of big city life to eventually relocate to Tasmania for a simpler, easy paced life on this remote island.  Less than a two hour flight to Sydney and more to other big cities, many locals have found the move to Tasmania fulfilling in many ways.


There were a few home grown vegetables left but we had all we needed.  We arrived at the market around noon after we’d uploaded the day’s post.

After we left Natalie, we headed toward the many other booths/displays offering a wide array of fine products.  The vendors couldn’t have been more friendly.  Once again, we ran into alpaca farmer and product maker Grace.  Seeing her once again was comparable to running into an longtime friend.




Cute, homemade little felt booties. 


As we continued on our way, it didn’t take long to meet the delightful couple, Don and Miffy, who innovated the delicious, Smoked Salt Tasmania, a bag of which we couldn’t resist purchasing at a cost of AU $15, US $11.34. 


All the displays were set up beautifully and overall, prices were reasonable.


Naturally aged in barrels (without the use any of the popular toxic smoke seasoning or other chemicals) the smoked salt is made using natural sea salt harvested in Tasmania.  The sample we were offered on a little slip of paper sent our taste buds on a frenzy.  I couldn’t wait to get back “home” to use the salt in some way for our dinner.  It was indeed a flavor bursting treat.


More items included in Julia’s display.

Not only did the product excite us but after our lengthy conversation with Don and Miffy they invited us to visit them at their home in Snug.  We just may do that during our remaining month in this area of Tasmania.

After viewing all the remaining displays, drooling over a few food offerings, we headed back outdoors where additional items were offered for sale.  With too many photos for one day’s post, we’ll include the remaining photos in tomorrow’s post.


The homemade cupcakes looked delicious.

Rushing a little today with Marguerite, our cleaner, arriving shortly, we’ll wrap it up for today and see you tomorrow with more.  Cloudy and rainy, we’re heading out for our weekly grocery shopping in Huonville in order to be out of her way while she cleans.

Have a peaceful and yet meaningful day!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2016:

Many signs and names of towns are were based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori who’s language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country’s 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori.” For more photos please click here.

The Penguin Market, a popular Sunday event…Winding down with two days until departure…

Last evening’s rainbow over the ocean.  Looking carefully, Tom spotted a second lighter rainbow to the far left, difficult to see in this photo.

Our sightseeing and exploration of Penguin has ended.  No more trips to the market.  No more drives to the countryside except for the upcoming five hour drive in two days to Huonville where we’ll spend the next six weeks.


The Sunday only Penguin Market surprised us when we’d assumed it was a typical farmers market.

As we recall the wide array of experiences we’ve had in Penguin we can’t stop smiling over the quality of the exceptional six week stay in this quaint and charming small town. 


There are a few tiny vegetable kiosks tucked away from the main shopping areas. Primarily, this market is about antiques and arts and crafts type goods for sale from local artisans and vendors.  This display consisted of a variety of rocks and semi precious stones.

Yes, I’m tired of using “quaint” and “charming” to describe Penguin but there just aren’t many other appropriate words in the English language to depict this special and unique area. 


Many displays were beautifully presented.

From the thesaurus, “quaint” synonyms are as follows:

quaint

kwānt/
adjective
  1. attractively unusual or old-fashioned.

    synonyms: picturesque, charming, sweet, attractive, old-fashioned, old-world, cunning;





Handmade baby booties and socks.

“Charming” is described as follows:

charm·ing
ˈCHärmiNG/
adjective
  1. pleasant or attractive.

    • (of a person or manner) polite, friendly, and likable.

Live music is performed by local artists in a courtyard area.

After spending many years of my life as owner/broker of a real estate company, I was often stumped in describing certain houses in advertising mediums avoiding the use of these two seemingly perfect words. 


Mosaic shop.

Few towns we’ve visited in our travels best bespeak these two words more than Penguin.  Sure, we could have referred to it a “picturesque” which it undoubtedly is but that word would have become tiresome even more quickly.


At first glance, these doughnuts whet our appetites only to discover they are handmade soaps.

The word “whimsical” could have described the Penguin related décor evident throughout the town as we’ve shown in many photos.  But, that description ends there when one comes to know its friendly citizens, its simple and slow paced style of life and resident’s commitment to maintaining a healthful and environmentally friendly community.


This cake was the same as above…soaps, at AU $15, US $11.25 a slice.  Yum!

As shown in today’s photos, the easy paced Sunday Penguin Market further illustrates this town’s uncomplicated  and pleasing persona with handmade crafts, treasured antiques and items from throughout the world presenting a diverse sampling of products that may appeal to locals and visitors alike.


Many of the shops offer handmade crafts crocheted and knitted crafts.

As we begin to wrap up our usual prepacking tasks such as scanning receipts, using remaining perishable foods on hand, preparing the total expenses to be presented online in two days, we find ourselves feeling a tinge of sadness to be leaving Penguin.



One shop’s theme centered around Teddy Bear dolls, furniture and clothing.

But, in our usual style, we’ll breeze through the prep and the packing and by Monday morning (its Saturday here today) we’ll be out the door enthusiastically anticipating the next leg in our journey as we embark on a scenic journey through Tasmania, perhaps encountering more quaint and charming towns along the way.

May the simple things in life bring you joy and fulfillment!

____________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2016:


Knox Church is a notable building in Dunedin, New Zealand. It houses the city’s second Presbyterian congregation and is the city’s largest church of any denomination.  For more photos from the one year ago post, please click here.

A rainy and windy trip to the market…Rounding out the week’s menu…

Talk about tropical climate!  Today’s view from the veranda.
The muddy roads, the long, steep drive down and then back up this mountain was an adventure in itself. All we needed to do in the pelting rain, was to get to the village to shop at the Vodafone kiosk, the Farmers Market, the New World grocer, and Fiji Meats where Helen was holding some items for us.  

Helen often runs out of ground beef, referred to as mince in many parts of the world, requiring we call ahead to place an order for the meat and roasted chickens to ensure we can get what we need. Otherwise, she runs out of chickens by noon each day and other meats within a few days of her Saturday delivery.

All the meat in Fiji is grass-fed. The beef cuts are different than those we’ve found in other countries and the beef can be tough if not slow roasted. With only a countertop oven and no large roasting pans, slow roasting is not an option, especially when it would use considerable power to run. (We try to stay mindful as to how much power we use, wherever we may travel).

As a result, the only beef we eat is the grass-fed mince, ground pork, and free-range chickens, which we’ve found to be excellent. We’ve narrowed our weekly menu down to a science, carefully planning each day’s meals. 

The tiny freezer contains meat for the week, streaky bacon, bagged portions of Tom’s daily egg dish, homemade low carb flax and almond meal lemon poppy seed muffins and low carb coconut cookies. Also, ice, ots of ice.  We Americans like ice with our cold tea.

After trying various cuts of the beef we’ve determined we prefer the taste and texture of the mince better than the other cuts of beef. It’s not your usual “ground beef.”  It has a texture and flavor far beyond the red-dyed ground beef we’ve had most of our lives. It’s comparable to a rough grind of the finest steaks in the world, even a bit chewy as if roughly ground at home. No dyes, no chemicals. The way we like it. 

To add fat to the beef, we often include ground pork, “pork mince,” making some of the most delicious “mince” dishes we’ve had to date. We have a variety of recipes we alternate, never becoming bored with the varied options. 

Unable to purchase fish, other than huge whole fish caught fresh daily, we haven’t had fish once since our arrival. With little room in the tiny freezer, buying an entire fish makes no sense, nor are the knives here sharp enough to filet a fish, even if there was room in the freezer. 

The freezer door is also jam-packed. I’m not as organized in putting food in the fridge. Its not my “thing.” I stuff it in. If the door closes, I’m happy. Notice the ice pack, just in case, we old-timers, have an achy joint. Thank goodness, we haven’t had to use it since we left Hawaii.

Having beef and pork, including occasional pork chops, five nights a week and chicken two nights has been how we’ve rounded out the week’s menu. Of course, there’s a degree of repetition, but with the good recipes we’ve found or created, we hardly flinch at having a particular dish time and again.

There’s a favorite recipe, Mushroom Burger Scramble, that we particularly love, making it as often as the ingredients are available. The recipe requires fresh mushrooms which are only available on occasion at the New World Market. Mushrooms aren’t a popular ingredient in Fijian cooking and aren’t available at the Farmers Market.

The recipe, which I borrowed from a low carb site, (click here for the recipe) also requires cream cheese. For weeks, there was no cream cheese at the market. I asked the store manager, Sarah, if they ever get cream cheese and she said they do, but not often. A few weeks later, there was a dozen packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese for sale in the refrigerated case.

A few weeks ago we finally found cream cheese at the market. Now, they keep it well stocked. Also, I’d asked for a “turner” and a few weeks later, it was there.

Yesterday, after our usual purchases at the Farmers Market, we walked over to the grocery store to find Sarah smiling when she saw us. They had a huge bin filled with fresh mushrooms. We grabbed all we could, changing our menu for the upcoming week to include the above recipe, now that we’d have mushrooms.

Sarah and I have chatted on each of our weekly visits. Yesterday, she invited us to her home for dinner. I felt badly having to decline when she was so kind to offer. I explained, profusely apologizing for declining, that my life-changing way of eating would make it impossible for her to prepare traditional Fijian foods that I could eat, when most include starches and sugar. 

How we’d have loved the experience. But, I always remind myself  that we wouldn’t be traveling the world if it weren’t for my way of eating totally changing my life. By now, surely I’d have been in a wheelchair or living like my dear eldest sister with the same condition, who’s been lying in bed 24/7 in horrible pain for the past 10 years. I was heading down that path a mere four and a half years ago. Today, I’m pain-free and active.

The black bag contains the remaining chicken which we’ll have tonight. Today, I’m making the muffins and Tom’s green beans. Each day we stay in, I cook a portion of the foods we eat regularly, spacing it out to ensure I don’t have a single day that requires all-day prep. Messy? No matter.

After the market, Ratnesh picked us up and we headed a kilometer down to the road to see Helen at Fiji Meats to pick up our order: two roasted chickens, several packages of the finest streaky bacon on the planet and numerous packages of beef and pork mince. 

We’d need to eat the two small roasted chickens over two nights when the fresh mushrooms needed to be used as soon as possible when they don’t stay fresh more than a few days.

Since we loaded up on extra products they happened to have in stock, we spent more than usual for a total, between the three markets, of USD $228, FJD $484. This included two packages of ground coffee which is referred to as “plunger coffee” as shown in the photo below. 

The plunger coffee sells for FJD $14.89, USD $7.03, for a 200 gram bag which lasts for a week. Each package has a complimentary little package attached.  The coffee is grown in Fiji and compares to the finest we had in Hawaii.

New World has been out of plunger coffee for the past two weeks. While I shopped, Tom ran out to the street to two other markets looking for plunger coffee, thrilled to have found these two packages, the only available.

Soon, we were back on the road home. It had rained during our shopping trip. We were wet but not “to the bone” as expected. We hung our parkas to dry on the backs of the dining chairs (no hanging rods here) and the dampness in our clothes soon dried.

Getting up the steep muddy road to the house was equivalent to “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” as Ratnesh expertly maneuvered his way up the muddy rocky climb. We couldn’t help but squeal and laugh with the roughness of the drive up the mountain.

To begin the shopping trip each week, Ratnesh drops us off at the Vodafone kiosk on the street picking us up later after we call from the market as we’re checking out. As a final stop, he waits for us while we collect the meat at Helen’s store. 

Today, I’ll work on making more room in the refrigerator to fit these eggplants. A few times each week, I make a huge wok of vegetables, stir-fried in ghee, well seasoned, often including eggplant, peppers, onion, carrots (small amount) and lots of fresh garlic. Tom won’t taste it. For him, I make a batch of fresh sautéed green beans with onions, streaky bacon and spices, also cooked in ghee.

He helps us carry our huge haul up the long uneven walk to the house. Lately, with his help, we’ve been able to carry everything to the house in one trip. As a result, we’ve paid him FJD $30, USD $14.13 for the round trip as opposed to his usual FJD $20, USD $9.42. 

Many of the local businesses only accept cash payments. The New World market is the only store that accepts credit cards, charging an additional 2.5% fee on the total bill. 

Between the Vodafone store, the Farmers Market, the meat market and the driver, all requiring cash only, we spent FJD $435, USD $205. (This total included FJD $150, USD $71 cash for data). At New World, we paid, FJD $260, USD $123. 

With the fees charged by our bank for using the ATM in a foreign country and the charges the local bank charges for using the ATM machine, it pays to use a credit card at the grocery store.

Its raining so hard we can’t see the ocean.

Once back home, as always, I spent the better part of an hour washing and sorting all the produce and making room in the tiny refrigerator, the same size we’ve had many times in the past. We’re getting good at this.

We never left the house the remainder of the day when the rain continued non-stop as is the case again today.  So be it. We have plenty of food, plenty of “strong signal” data, lots of books to read, and now a plethora of movies and TV shows we’ve recently downloaded to watch in the evenings. We’re almost tied at playing Gin.  What more could we possibly need or want? 

Photo from one year ago today, October 16, 2014:

One year ago today we flew from Honolulu, Oahu to Maui. Many flights had been canceled due to warnings for possible Hurricane Ana. Luckily, our flight made it through and after picking up the rental car, we headed to the Costco store in Maui, where we loaded up on food and supplies we may need if the hurricane hit with power outages. For more details, please click here including the final total expenses for the 11 nights in Waikiki Beach. 

Part 2…A look at “real life” in the Fijian Islands, often centered around farming…

Today’s late posting is a result of a poor wifi signal which has made posting photos and line spacing difficult.  We apologize for the delay.

This duck’s unusual crown caught our attention. He seemed proud of his facial characteristics.

Once we arrived at Kusma’s house to purchase the eggs, we waited outside taking photos of the various chickens, roosters, and ducks wandering about her front yard. 

We weren’t certain if there were more chickens at the back of the house. We preferred not to intrude asking to see more. There were plenty of chickens, gathering around our feet, pecking here and there, seemingly content and busy in their simple chicken lives.

The several roosters began to crow, taking turns at the spotlight.  One, in particular, appeared to be the “cock of the walk” strutting about with a sense of confidence we’d only seen in lions, not necessarily in chickens. It was highly entertaining.

Not only were there chickens wandering about the yard, but there were also a few ducks.

A dear friend of mine in Minnesota lived five minutes from us. She had a well-equipped chicken coup, kept suitably warm in the frigid winters. When I’d visit, she’d holler, “Chickens!” They’d come running, making me howl. She also had a few adult goats, two sisters, that would sit on our laps while in lawn chairs in the garden, while we chatted with cups of coffee in hand. Even then, I couldn’t get enough of animals, regardless of their species.

Kusma came outside and Ratnesh introduced us.  She spoke a little English but not much. The overwhelming majority of Indo-Fijians speak Fiji Hindustani or Fiji Hindi. This language developed out of contact between speakers of different dialects of Hindi/Urdu (one of the native languages of India) and their bosses on the colonial-era sugar plantations.”

She shook our hands with a hint of trepidation, looking at Ratnesh, a relative whom she knew well, for his approval. He nodded assuring her we were good. In as few words as possible, I explained we’d be staying here in the neighborhood of Korovesi, (comparable to a suburb) for a total of three months and would like to buy her eggs regularly if that was acceptable to her.

The chickens were nibbling on something in this tin bowl. The contents could certainly be a determining factor if the eggs would be considered organic, although they wouldn’t be “certified” by any means, a process not done here in Savusavu.

As best as I could, I explained that Usi would pick them up for us in the future with the ride too difficult in a vehicle. We didn’t see any cars or trucks in the yards of the houses in that mountainous difficult-to-reach area.

I kindly asked for four dozen eggs, for now, knowing we still had the rough walk back up to the car and Ratnesh insisted he carry them.  We’d brought along the cloth bag we purchased in Kenya that has traveled well, laundering it on occasion and happy it’s worn so well for a $2 purchase so long ago. The four dozen eggs fit perfectly into the bag.

She charged us FJD $20, USD $9.20 which translates to FJD $5.00, USD $2.40 a dozen. Not too bad a price for free-range and antibiotic-free eggs. She may charge the local less, but we were content to pay her whatever she deemed fair.

It looks as if a pair of shorts fell off the clothesline and one of the birds dragged it away from the line.

Whether or not her eggs could have been classified as organic under other circumstances remains to be seen, as described below, for example from the USDA (not necessarily our favorite government entity):

“The label USDA Organic is your best bet when buying chicken or eggs. In terms of chicken, it means that your bird has been fed a vegetarian diet that is also organic and therefore does not include any GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or chemical pesticides.

It also means that the birds must be raised according to organic standards within two days of being born, are not fed any hormones, antibiotics, or drugs, have access to outdoor space, clean drinking water, and be raised “per animal health and welfare standards” according to the USDA.”

The roosters were competing for crowing rights, each taking his turn.

We highly doubt Kusma’s chickens are given hormones, antibiotics, or any other types of drugs. We witnessed the free-roaming aspect when we arrived unannounced to a few dozen chickens and several ducks wandering in the front yard. We noticed a faucet with spring water provided for the chickens and the household. There’s no city water in the area. (We’ve had no problems drinking the spring water, although if in town, we’d only drink bottled water).

We also noticed a large tin bucket filled with some type of feed.  We can’t assume the feed in that bucket was non-GMO. But, pesticides aren’t used in Fiji or, for that matter, in many other parts of the world. Most free-range chickens are fed some type of feed when the immediate surroundings may not provide enough nutrients to produce good eggs. (Kusma’s yard had been well pecked to the bare soil in spots).

We observed this with feral chickens in Kauai, in the thousands or more, skinny and malnourished living off the land, still able to produce offspring and survive. Residents we spoke with explained that many have tried catching and cooking them only to find they’re tough and relatively inedible.

Homes with tin roofs, many worn and old, maintained to the best of the ability of the owners over decades.

Perhaps the bucket a few of the chickens were nibbling from contained Kusma’s leftover food scraps for all we know. Goodness, when I cook each day, I have enough leftovers to feed that many chickens bits of meat and vegetable scraps. We didn’t ask. Many local people don’t have a lot of resources to purchase chicken feed and may easily manage off of what is available in their daily lives or growing under their feet. 

Kusma took the Kenya bag from us, entered the house, and several minutes later returning with the four dozen eggs in used crates (which we’ll return) neatly fitting into the bag. It was heavier than one might expect. 
Taking several photos, eggs in hand, we said goodbye thanking Kusma with a heartfelt “vinaka” (thank you in Fijian), and began the muddy trek back up the hill to the car. Luckily, Ratnesh has cardboard for floor mats in his car. We tried getting the mud off our shoes as best as we could on the wet grass, unable to completely do so.
We made it back without slipping or falling and once again were on our way to the village for the rest of our shopping. The cloud cover had returned and the air was thick with humidity. 
These large pots in the window of the hardware store inspired me to stop in to look for a kitchen utensil.
Ratnesh dropped us off at the Farmer’s Market where we could easily scurry about to our favorite vendors finding everything we purchase each time. Then, we made the short walk across the road to the small grocery store for the balance. 

When checking out, I called Ratnesh to pick us up. With disappointment in his voice, he explained he wouldn’t be able to pick us up for another 25 minutes. He was picking up a customer for a ride to the airport.

We’d told him he’s free to take other fares after dropping us off, not asking him to wait for us. We’d anticipate the shopping would take longer but having gone shopping only four days earlier we needed only a dozen items at the grocer. Thus, we called him 30 minutes earlier than he’d expected.

After paying for our food, the clerk told us we could leave our food inside in the trolley inside the AC store while we waited.  The trolleys aren’t allowed outside nor could they make it down the several steps to the street. Hands-free, we stood outside the building for 25 minutes waiting for Ratnesh.

Easily entertained while people-watching, the time passed quickly. I ran across the street to a hardware store while Tom stayed behind. Would they carry a “turner” (spatula) used for flipping eggs? They had some huge pots in the window as shown in the above photo. Surely, they must have kitchen wares.

Houses in the surrounding area.
They didn’t have a turner or any other kitchenware and suggested we try the grocery stores which we’d already done without any luck. There is no kitchen wares type store anywhere in Savusavu.  Why would they when such items are handed down from generation to generation or otherwise shipped when foreigners decide to make Fiji their full or part-time residence? Tourists don’t typically purchase kitchen utensils. 

When Ratnesh returned we head directly to see Helen at Fiji Meats, who was holding two roasted chickens for us after we’d called earlier in the day with the request. They’re delicious, wheat-free, and easier to purchase already roasted rather than using the portable atop our kitchen counter, making the house hot on these hot humid days.   

Once back home by 4 pm, I was busy until dinnertime, washing all the veggies and attempting to make room in the tiny refrigerator for everything we’d purchased. The fridge and freezer are the same sizes we had in Trinity Beach and many other locations.  I’m getting good at this task, somehow managing to fit everything inside, fresh washed and ready to prepare.

Yesterday afternoon, I washed the outside of two dozen of Kusma’s eggs in a  bowl of lukewarm water with a little sink soap.  Getting the exterior clean is important when cracking open raw eggs to avoid contamination.

Taking a better part of the afternoon, I cooked four packages of streaky bacon (10 slices per pack) to make another batch of Tom’s favorite breakfast quiche (crust-less), dicing each slice of bacon into bite-sized pieces, hand grating the cheese, dicing and precooking the onions. Cracking the 24 cleaned eggs, I was pleased not to find a single bad egg.

Unusual marking on this duck gave him the rights for the main photo today.
Baking the egg dish in three batches since I only had the two pans we’d shipped from Australia, the end result was 20 portions which I  always freeze in sandwich bags for three days portions, taking out a new bag each three days to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Tom has this every morning for breakfast. Although I love this dish, I’m never hungry in the morning.

With the leftover cooked bacon I’d diced, I made the Ghee, Garlic, and Bacon Green Beans with lots of spices. I’d carefully washed the green beans but when done cooking the dish while placing it into a container, I spotted a worm I’d cooked in the pan while sautéing the beans. I flicked it away and continued on. We reheated a batch to have with dinner last night and will do so again tonight.

I feel like a farm wife in some ways. Although I don’t clean much, other than after cooking and only hand wash kitchen towels and my underwear, I find myself spending the better part of each afternoon preparing food that may have already been prepared when purchasing it years ago in the US.

The only thing missing from being a real farm wife is the mashed potatoes, homemade bread, and of course, the apple pie with hand-rolled crust. I made those in our old lives prior to eating this way. Instead, now, we have mashed cauliflower on occasion, low carb grain free muffins, and coconut cookies for dessert. No complaining here. It’s all good.

For those of our readers disinterested in food, we apologize for this extended period of stories about purchasing and preparing local foods. For now, we’ll move on to other topics. Thanks for hanging with us.

For the foodies out there, we often receive comments and support for our discussions about food shopping and prep particularly from those attempting to adopt a more healthy manner of eating. Thank you all for the positive feedback.

Have a fun-filled safe weekend, treasuring every moment. It’s raining again today. So it goes…life in the tropics.

Photo from one year ago today, September 27, 2014:

Rough seas and all, the Captain’s Club party aboard the ship carries on as we continued on course to Hawaii. For more details, please click here.

Part 1…A look at “real life” in the Fijian Islands, often centered around farming…

As we approached this pair atop this table turned away from us while others curiously meandered toward us.

The longer we’ve traveled, the less interest we’ve had in traditional tourist points of interest, other than the often revered scenic beauty at particulars sites and the viewing and photographing wildlife indigenous to the country.

As we shape our “travel personalities” we’ve found a gradual change over time, one in which we’re often unaware until…a scenario is presented to us and we are overwhelmed with a sense of intrigue, compassion, and enthusiasm to gain insight into the lives of the true locals, generations of families working hard to survive in an often difficult environment.

So it was yesterday when we stumbled upon such an opportunity when all we wanted was to purchase fresh, free-range eggs. Since our arrival, buying eggs at the market, we’ve found at least two of each dozen to be rotten like we’ve never seen before. Rotten eggs (black on the inside) are most likely caused by bacteria. 

This is the beginning of the dirt road we traveled to Kusma’s house. Bouncing in the car made it impossible to hold the camera steady.  Thus, a few blurry photos today.

We realize this is a risk when buying free-range eggs from a market when we have no idea how or where they’ve come from or how long they’ve been sitting on the shelves. In asking around, we discovered from our sweet housekeeper Usi, that there’s an egg farm nearby, not necessarily easy to get to. 

Usi suggested we ask Ratnesh to drive us up the mountain to a little village of approximately 60 homes and see Kusma, whose entire family income is derived from the sale of eggs. The thought of being able to add even a tiny bit to that income, purchasing her free-range, chemical-free eggs during our remaining time in Savusavu, only added to our enthusiasm. 

Buying local has been an ongoing objective as we’ve traveled the world, supporting the hard-working local farmers and food producers in our desire for chemical-free, fresh foods befitting our way of eating.

I’d wished we could stop for photos but Ratnesh had to maintain momentum the higher we climbed.

Yesterday, when the sun peeked out for a short period with a downpour predicted in the afternoon, we called Ratnesh to take us to the egg farm and another trip into town for the Farmer’s Market, grocery and meat market. 

It makes us smile at how little we typically purchase at the grocery store, using yesterday’s purchases as an example; bar soap, paper towels, plastic bags, sponges and sink soap, locally made cultured sour cream (used in making salad dressing), canned coconut cream (without added sugar), real cream from New Zealand for coffee, ground coffee (only one brand available), sea salt (we’re almost finished with our Costco container of Himalayan salt) and Italian spices.  

Many items are simply not available here: Parmesan cheese or any similar cheese, grated cheese (we grate chunks of “pizza cheese” by hand); cream cheese; onion or garlic powder (used in many of our recipes); fresh mushrooms, romaine lettuce, parchment paper or a metal spatula, to name a few.

There are approximately 60 homes in this area, Ratnesh explained, many of them his relatives.
Over 40% of people living in Fiji today are descendants from India: See below for details:
“Most Indo-Fijians are the descendants of indentured laborers brought to Fiji during the nineteenth century by the British. In the system of indentured labor, workers (who had been moved to a new country against their will) were forced to perform a job for little or no pay until they earned enough money to buy their freedom. The system was created to provide cheap workers for British colonies after the abolition of slavery in Britain and its colonies in 1833.

The first indentured laborers from India arrived in Fiji in 1879 and the indenture system lasted until 1916. Other immigrants from India arrived in Fiji in the early twentieth century, and they opened small shops in the coastal towns. The Indo-Fijians are part of the South Asian diaspora (a community of ethnically related displaced peoples) that includes the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, Trinidad in the Caribbean, Guyana in South America, South Africa, and North America.”

The only produce we’ve purchased at the grocery store has been celery which is unavailable at the Farmer’s Market. We purchase no meat or frozen products only buying fresh at the other locations.

One might think, reading here, that we’re obsessed with food. Perhaps, we are. But, a huge part of the lives of locals centers around the production and sale of food products. Why not embrace these foods into our lives as well, when we can’t eat out much due to our diet and, we love our homemade meals using the products that are available?

The beautiful vegetation we see in our yard extends to all areas.

For us, purchasing and preparing food has become of even greater interest than years ago when anyone that knew me knew I was a “foodie.” Just because the types of foods I can eat have changed, my interest and desire remain firmly in place to create great meals providing us with nourishment and pleasure. For most of us, we derive tremendous pleasure from food. Why not enjoy good food as opposed to unhealthy?

Over these past months, watching Tom continually lose weight, a little each month, eating exactly what I eat with the exception of some vegetables, has only added to our combined interest. Seeing his belly shrink month after month, only makes me happy in one regard…perhaps he’ll be healthy and around longer. 

Selfishly, I want him around and free of the health problems often associated with belly fat which also indicates fat wrapped around one’s internal organs. Also, he seems to like it when his pants fit. We don’t have the privilege of hauling clothing in various sizes to accommodate a change in waist size (for either of us).

With clothes dryers an unnecessary luxury in third world countries, clotheslines are seen in most yards.

I don’t give a hoot about the “look” of the big belly, it’s only what it represents that worries me, and hearing him huff and puff carrying our bags when he’s also carrying extra poundage on his body is also worrisome as we age. With the belly gone, his strength and ability to haul the bulk of our heavy bags have only improved.

When Ratnesh arrived and we explained our desire to go to Kusma’s farm for eggs, he hesitated. We sensed this immediately, quickly explaining if he didn’t want to make that drive, no problem. Usi had offered to bring us Kusma’s eggs the next time she walks up the mountain to visit her family who lives nearby. We knew it was going to be a steep drive on a muddy, pothole, dirt road, a challenge, based on what Usi had told us.

Ratnesh thought it over and in his desire to please, he insisted it would be OK as long as we didn’t mind bouncing around up the steep and uneven road. We didn’t mind. We gave him several opportunities to decline.  He turned them all down and off we went. 

This was the first of many goats we encountered in the area.  The only meat the locals eat is goat, lamb, fish (they catch), and chicken. 

I realize we wrote that the drive up the mountain with Sewak as the steepest road we’ve traveled in a vehicle.  Now, we can add, that the road to Kusma’s home was the most uneven, steep, rutted road we’ve traveled on during these past years. Wow! The ride in itself was an adventure. 

Sitting in the backseat by myself with Tom in the front with Ratnesh, I practically hung out the window taking photos. It was impossible for Ratnesh to stop for my photo taking or he’d lose his momentum. We continued on for some time until finally, he parked on a patch of wild grass when we could go no further.

We had no choice to walk up the remainder of the muddy hill to Kusma’s house. There was no way either of us were going to say we wouldn’t walk up the dangerous balance of the hill when Ratnesh worked so hard getting up the hill. Tom hung onto me most of the way with much younger Ratnesh offering another hand over a  few particularly rough spots. 

Finally, we arrived at Kusma’s house after we navigated down this slippery hill, still wet from all the rain.

I could easily have made it up the hill on my own but we’re extra cautious to avoid me falling, which could topple my delicate spine putting a fast end to our travels. We easily recall when the steps collapsed under our feet in Belize in 2013. Click here for that story with photos, if you missed it.

Recalling the hike to the Queen’s Bath in Kauai (click here for the story, if you missed it as well), I knew we could make it. By far, that was much more treacherous. This was a “walk in the park” comparatively. For these young fit Fijians who walk up and down these hills all of their lives, this hike is a normal course of life.

Finally, we arrived, shoes muddy, bodies sweaty and filled with excitement. The level of excitement we felt wasn’t about eggs. It was about being in this tucked away village with Fijians who’d spent their lives in this remote area, often living off the land. Tomorrow, we’ll share the continuation of this story with many more photos including the trip into the village after the visit to the farm.

It’s these types of experiences that make all of our travels meaningful and purposeful; the people, their lives, their love of nature and their surroundings, and their willingness to share even a tiny piece of it with us. How did we get so lucky? 

Photo from this date one year ago, September 26, 2014:

It was one year ago aboard the Celebrity Soltice, on our way from Vancouver to Honolulu, that we experienced some rough seas. Check out this video. For more details, please click here.

First aid in the world…

Soon it will be too late to order any further supplies for our journey.  Many items (always new, unopened and unused) come from all over the world often requiring four to six weeks delivery time.  

As of this coming upcoming Wednesday, we’ll leave Minnesota on Halloween, in exactly six weeks. We won’t be able to conveniently receive packages after we leave. (More on receiving mail next month).

As a result of these time constraints, my thoughts went into full gear, reviewing every item we are packing in addition to our completed wardrobes, to analyze if there are any items we may need.

A month ago while cleaning cupboards and drawers, I started gathering first aid items, creating a homemade “kit” placing everything in a sturdy plastic bag: Band-aids, sterile pads and gauze, antibiotic cream, hydrogen peroxide, liquid bandage, ace bandage, knee supporter, shoulder sling, temporary ice packs and a heating pad.  

Let’s face it, those of us folks over 60 may have aches and pains from time to time. Adding some Aleve, Tylenol, and Motrin to our kit made it feel complete.  

The first aid kit securely packed in an orange Antler bag, (we paid $111 each a few months ago. Note price increase), I felt confident that any additional items we may need most likely could be purchased at any nearby grocery store or pharmacy.  

Why bring all of these items when we could purchase them in any country? Simply for economic reasons. While living in the 17th century renovated farmhouse in Tuscany all next summer we’ll be renting a car from time to time.  
Daily, we’ll walk to the open market for items for dinner, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine. Perhaps once a week, we’ll rent a car for a day or two to drive the five miles to a grocery store, take a drive to explore the area and dine at a recommended restaurant.  

Upon returning the rental car, we’ll travel on foot until the next week, perhaps going on a local daily four mile walking tour of historical homes and buildings.

Cooking dinner with the farm fresh ingredients, let’s say I cut my finger, not requiring stitches, a common occurrence in our kitchen. The first aid kit prevents the cost of a cab, the inflated price at the pharmacy for supplies and, peace of mind.  

The achy knee, the pinched shoulder, so familiar in our day-to-day lives, are easily treated at home with our own supplies and over-the-counter products.  

With one third of our time on cruises during the first five months, these items may come in handy.  Have you ever seen a final bill on a cruise after a trip to the medical clinic for a minor injury?  A cut finger, antibiotic cream and a bandage  from a visit with the nurse or doctor, may result in a $300 bill. That’s one expensive Band-aid!

Over the past month additional thoughts for preparedness of the kit kept popping into my mind eventually driving me back to Amazon.com.  

Here are the items we added to the kit. (Amazon prevents easy “copy and paste” features of their items.  Please excuse the formatting).

Recapit No Mix Cement, Maximum Strength, 1 g.
Imagine the benefit of having this product hand when hesitant to see a dentist in a remote area!

Dental Tarter Scraper and Remover Set, SS

by Osung


Price: $43.95
Sale: $31.95
You Save: $12.00 (27%)
Dental Tarter Scraper and Remover Set, SS
With the help of an online training program
we’ll learn how to perform basis teeth cleaning procedures until our next dental appointment.
 

 

Recapit No Mix Cement, Maximum Strength, 1 g.


Price: $4.65 ($2.91 / oz)
3M Steri Strip Skin Closures 1/4'' X 3'' - 10 Packages of 3
Imagine the benefit of having this product on hand
when cut is deep but not requiring stitches.


3M Steri Strip Skin Closures 1/4” X 3” – 10 Packages of 3 By STERI
4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews) | Like
(23)


Price: $6.75

 

Certainly, most doctors or dentists would cringe at our planned self-treatment.  We understand the risks.  Our goal will always be to put safety first, never taking outrageous risks with our lives of limbs.

Part of the magic of our adventure is to go where we want to go, that is safe for travelers; when we want to go, within the confines of our rental agreements and transportation schedules; continue on as long as we mutually desire, and for as long as our health allows.

Freedom…with certain reasonable constraints.  Nonetheless…freedom.