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.

Day #267 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…President of South Africa spoke last night…Holding our breath…

Colorful trees were blooming in the neighborhood.

Today’s photos are from 2015 while living in Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu, Fiji, where we spent the Christmas holidays. For more, please click here.

The Christmas season is upon the world, and for most, this will be a very different holiday than most years. With gatherings being held to a minimum with COVID-19 restrictions, which we hope people will observe for their safety and the safety of loved ones and friends, it will be an unusual year.

Access to the Qaraniquo river in the neighborhood.

The rollout of the vaccine couldn’t come soon enough. But, from what we’re reading on the news (accurate or not), many developing countries such as South Africa will only have enough to vaccinate only one-tenth of the population, which ultimately won’t offer any global protection to its people and visitors.

This article explains that this developing country cannot afford the low-temperature equipment to store the vaccine at adequate below zero temperatures safely. With this in mind, we doubt we’ll be able to get the vaccine if we so choose while in South Africa. Emerging the virus will continue to rage in the country while we’re there. We’re hoping to remain safe in Marloth Park.

What happened to this tree? It appears there’s been a human intervention.

Last night South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa conducted a speech about the rise in cases. Here is the link to the full text of his speech. In Johannesburg, our dear friends, Linda and Ken, watched the speech on TV and reported the results to me by text. Of course, I was concerned the borders would be closed once again, shutting down tourism, subsequently preventing us from flying out on January 12, 2021.

Thankfully, no such action is being taken at this point. Many of the restrictions imposed by Cyril during the past nine months are again re-enacted as Covid-19 cases rise, such as no alcohol sold over the weekends, curfews at 10:00 pm, mandatory mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing in any public venues, shops, restrictions on the number of people attending celebrations, and more, all of which is subject to fines or six months in jail if violated.

Flowering shrubs line the boulevard.

However, we do not doubt that the first time we head to Komatipoort and its overly crowded streets and shops, that mask-wearing will be at a minimum. In that case, we’ll choose to shop in small, less well-stocked shops in Marloth Park as needed. We will drive to Komatipoort for pellets for the wildlife since this purchase enables us to stay in the car while the trunk is loaded with the 40 kg (88 pounds) bags.

We’ll figure it all out, even without the vaccine, and do our best to avoid contracting the virus, taking every possible precaution. At this point, our imminent concern is getting there safely when flying on three flights and going through four airports in the process.

We’d never encountered this particular flower.

Of course, everything could change in the next 28 days when we head to the Mumbai International Airport for our flight in the middle of the night. Suppose gatherings during the holiday season, resulting in even more outrageous increases in cases in South Africa. In that case, Cyril could easily decide to close the borders again, crippling the much-needed tourism business in the country.

Thanks to Linda and Ken for updating me late last night. I couldn’t fall asleep anyway, knowing this speech was imminent at 8:00 pm, South Africa time, and midnight here in India. By 1:15 am, I finally drifted off to a night filled with dreams about Christmas and buying gifts while living in various houses in my distant past.  Hum…

It was only a short walk from our holiday home to the river.

Have a pleasant day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2019:

We attended a brunch with Tom’s sisters and spouses at the resort in Arizona, highlighting “omelets in a bag.” Here is Tom’s three-egg omelet after it came out of the bag. For more photos, please click here.

Day #265 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Bollywood dancing in Fiji…

The couples were in sync while dancing the traditional Bollywood type performance.

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2015 while out to dinner at a resort in Viti Levu, Fiji, where performers were dancing Bollywood style. Please click here for more details.

With 37.5% of Fijians of Indian descent, it wasn’t unusual to see Bollywood dancing at a resort we visited for dinner on this date five years ago. Ironically, Tom and I discussed the event yesterday, and here it pops up today as our highlighted photos.  It was a lovely evening at the beach with good food and entertainment.

The Bollywood dancers prepared for their performance.

Gosh, that seems so far away from our current reality at this point when the only meals we’ve had for months have been repeated in our room, day after day, night after night. I don’t know when I’ll ever feel like eating a piece of salmon or grilled chicken breasts which I alternate every other day.

I’ve never been a fan of chicken breasts. Due to lack of fat and flavor, I’ve always preferred dark meat. I don’t think we’ll give up eating “flatties” (a whole chicken cut to lie flat) on the braai (grill) once we get to South Africa, although it may not be right away.

The locals perform their routine on Saturday nights.

When Tom and I share an entire flattie, he eats the white meat while I have the dark. My mouth kind of waters at the thought of a juicy leg and thigh on the bone, something I haven’t been able to get here in India at this hotel. They de-bone all the chicken here, which often results in a dry piece of grilled meat.

Not surprisingly, I’ve already made a grocery list for our arrival in South Africa. Perhaps, doing so is a bit lofty at this point, but since Louise has generously offered to shop for us while awaiting our arrival, this will allow us to stay put the first few days without venturing out.

Many of the guests joined in the dancing. It’s never us on the stage! Neither of us likes to participate “on stage” during performances of any type.

We’ll need such items as pellets, coffee, cream, block cheese, eggs, bacon, butter, and meats for the first few nights’ dinners and, of course, some wine for me and brandy for Tom. Typically, in South Africa, I only drank Four Cousin Skinny Red Wine which has zero carbs and low alcohol.

This lighter wine was ideal for me then and will be excellent once again since I won’t have had any wine since February 20th, on my birthday in Khajuraho, India. In reviewing our past posts, we realized I didn’t drink any alcohol until the cruise 33-night back-to-back that circumnavigated the continent of Australia.

Another view of the astounding sunset on Saturday night at the Uprising Beach Resort.

It had been over 20 years since I’d drank alcohol in a feeble attempt to be healthier. Not doing so, in moderation, wasn’t particularly beneficial. I suppose the key is moderation when imbibing any alcoholic beverages, regardless of what they are. We both are very capable of only having “a few,” especially when it’s been relatively easy for us during this lengthy lockdown.

Again, my mouth waters over the concept of the first feel of the room temperature red wine crossing my lips for the first time, accompanied with a hearty chunk of beef of one cut or another. Tom, feels the same way, although he’s not a wine drinker, instead preferring Courvoiosier, brandy, or beer.

There was a post-blocking part of our view, but I didn’t want to obstruct anyone else’s view by standing.

These simple pleasures also will signify our freedom at long last, although we’ll still be predicated by lockdown rules in South Africa which we’ll diligently follow.

Speaking of birthdays, as mentioned above, Tom’s birthday is in 10 days. I’d love to do something special for him, but he insists he wants nothing at all; no cake, no drinks, no special meal (duh, what would that be?). I’d considered buying him a gift from Amazon India, but we’ll be unloading weight in our luggage before we leave, not adding to it.

So there it will be, another uneventful birthday, Christmas and New Year’, not only for us but for most of you throughout the world. We have made tremendous sacrifices during the pandemic, and we still have a long way to go. At least we have tentative peace of mind with the prospect of leaving India to fly to South Africa in the next 31 days. Please stay tuned.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2019:

At a farmers market in Apache Junction, Arizona, we purchased five yellow and orange peppers for $1.99. The red peppers, as usual, are priced higher at $.79 each, still an excellent price. For more photos, please click here.

Day #255 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Sunshine and fresh air…WiFi issues???…

Savusavu Bay and Nawi Island, in Vanua Levu, Fiji from a site atop a hill in the village.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2015 while winding down our three-month stay on the island of Vanua Levu in the village of Savusavu. Please click here for details.

We haven’t been outdoors in eight months, except when I went to an ATM a few months ago when we needed cash for medication we’d ordered and about six months ago when I went outside to collect a package from Amazon India from the security guard the gate.

The hot springs where many locals cook their potatoes and root vegetables.

Since that time, for added precautions, we’ve asked the front desk to deliver the few packages we receive directly to our room. We’d be more than willing to spend time outdoors, but it would only be in the parking lot in the bright hot sun with the awful air quality per today’s report below from this site.


Mumbai air quality index (AQI) forecast

Day Pollution level Weather Temperature Wind
Monday, Nov 30

Unhealthy 153US AQI

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Tuesday, Dec 1

Unhealthy 159US AQI

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Wednesday, Dec 2

Unhealthy 163US AQI

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Unhealthy 164US AQI

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weather icon 84.2°77°

4.5 mp/h

While touring India many moons ago, the air quality ratings were often listed as “dangerous.” It was tough to breathe at that time. Although it may be easier now, why go out into that? After all, I have asthma and heart disease, both inflammatory conditions that can be exacerbated by severe smog.

The view from our veranda in Korovesi, Savusavu, Fiji.

Thank goodness we’re taking generous doses of Vitamin D3, but our lack of sun exposure may not be much worse than when we lived in Minnesota during the icy cold winter months and seldom spent much time outdoors, other than walking our dogs. Under those circumstances, exposed skin absorbs Vitamin D from the sun, not when bundled up in warm clothing.

We’ve been deluding ourselves into thinking that indoor air in this air-conditioned hotel room in Mumbai is any better than the outdoors. After reading several articles online over these past many months, it’s evident why we’re both sneezing all day long. Tom has no allergies, and yet he sneezes often. It’s due to poor air quality in buildings, including hotels in India, especially in a highly-populated area like Mumbai. See this article here about indoor air in India.

The bay where many sailors moor their sailboats.

We’ve asked the maintenance staff to change the air-con filter a few times, but that didn’t seem to help. Besides, sitting in this tiny room, day after day, month after month,  an enormous amount of dust accumulates from our skin, shedding, a disgusting thought but a reality. Dust mites are a real thing, although an awful idea. See here for details.

With people all over the world stuck inside their homes for extended periods during COVID-19 lockdowns, it wouldn’t be surprising that many with dust allergies may have suffered more than during “normal times.” I suppose if we’d lived in a house staying indoors for many months, we’d probably have had our house fumigated for dust mites when the lockdown ended.

The busy village hops with business most days.

Ah, the challenges of living under these circumstances aren’t going away anytime too soon. The WiFi has been going out at least once an hour over the past two days. We’ve reported this several times to the front desk, who reports,” We’re working on it.” We had to stop streaming shows last night when Netflix and Hulu kept stopping with streaming issues.

Then, of course, walking in the corridors continues to be quite a challenge with so many guests staying on our floor, not wearing masks, slamming doors in the middle of the night, and having loud parties throughout the night that have kept us awake over many nights in the past few months.

Tom, in front of a giant palm frond on the property.

We can’t get out of here soon enough. Dare I mention…40 more days?

Stay well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2019:

In 2016, we arrived in Penguin, Tasmania, where we stayed for six weeks. This is the view from the living room window of the beautiful holiday home we rented. It was a delightful six weeks and remained one of Tom’s favorite places in the world. For more about the year-ago post,  please click here.

Day #238 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Are we still really in lockdown?…Refusal to fight…

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times/Shutterstock (11008794b)
Crowded street of Ranade road for Diwali shopping at Dadar west, on November 8, 2020, in Mumbai, India.
Diwali Festival 2020, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India – 08 Nov 2020

Today’s photos (except the above main photo) are from this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji, as shown here.

One would think that with over 3000 posts, it would be easy to find photos to repeat that could be interesting and fresh to our new and long-term readers. But, each morning, as I scroll through the previous seven of eight years, it’s often challenging to find any that I find appealing.

A few boats docked at the pier in Savusavu, Fiji.

They must be photos from the exact day and month to maintain our preferred continuity, with only the year they were published being different. We’ll see how it goes if and when a year passes, and we have to start all over again. Good grief! That one-year event could be in a mere four months.

Technically, we are no longer in a mandated lockdown. That’s why the employees still sleep here and can’t leave during their month’s long shifts. We are free to leave the hotel, but they prefer we stay here to avoid returning with a case of the virus. Although the US appears to have more cases of COVID-19, we suspect there are more cases in India than in the US due to a lack of testing, rampant crowding, and poverty.

This boat navigates to the pearl beds.

Each time we look out of the only window at the end of a long corridor, we can see people in groups, and most aren’t wearing masks. If we were to go outside on foot, we’d be caught up in those crowds on the streets. The above main photo was taken during the five-day Diwali celebrations in the past few days. We can imagine how many new cases of the virus will result from these crowds.

Although the above photo is during Diwali, this crowd size is typical in Mumbai and other cities in India. We experienced it first hand while touring India eight/nine months ago. Why would we dare to go outside if we’re committed to avoiding becoming infected, possibly ending up on a cot in a parking lot? No, thank you.

This long pier leads the Fiji Pearls boat, where tourists can visit the pearl beds, after which tourists typically purchase pearl jewelry. 

I can’t tell you how many people have suggested we go sightseeing in Mumbai instead of staying stuck in this room. We appreciate their concern for our mental health, but at this point, our physical health is of the utmost importance. Our mental health is surprisingly in good order.

Yesterday, again, we laughed out loud about being in this hotel room for today’s 238 days. Tom reminded me of how I’m not particularly eager to fight. In the past, before COVID-19, when he became “overly grumpy,” I’d leave the room. I’m always willing to discuss issues, but I am not interested in having a pointless argument.

The heavy rains and cloud-covered sky prevented us from much sightseeing.

Those who say fighting is healthy are kidding themselves. Impassioned discussion is quite acceptable to me, but nasty fighting is not. On the other hand, Tom seems to enjoy a hearty row with certain expletives flying through the air. I don’t get this, so when he’d start, I’d leave the room. No one will continue to fight when no one is within earshot to suffer the consequences of oral toxicity.

I’d leave the room long enough for him to cool down (not very long) and then proceed to have a problem-solving issue-handling mature discussion. Well, guess what? There’s no other room for me to hide in right now. The bathroom isn’t far enough away. Plus, I don’t want to stand in the bathroom for 20 or 30 minutes.

Steam escapes from underground hot springs in this area near the village.

So, under these circumstances, what have we done? Much to my surprise and delight, he rarely gets his “hair in a bundle.” Perhaps, he’s aware of my dilemma and exercises some self-control. On a few rare occasions, when he’s snapped (not necessarily at me), I ignore him and don’t respond or go out the door for my upcoming walk.

I understand we each have our ways of coping in difficult times. This is one of those times. Somehow, we’re managing to get through this period unscathed by toxic vitriol between us and hopefully will continue on this path for the duration and, of course, in hopefully in less stressful times in the future.

When we have more “rooms,” he can be “overly grumpy” on occasion.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2019:

Out to brunch with Tom’s family one year ago today. From left to right beginning at Jacoby, Tom’s grandnephew; Vincent, our grandson; Kathy, Tom’s niece, daughter of brother Jerome to her left; then Patty, Tom’s sister at the right end of the table, then Tammy, Tom’s daughter: Tracy, Tammy’s partner; Colleen, Tom’s sister and her husband, Gene. Tom and I were seated and the end of the table and not seen in the photo. For more, please click here.

Day #231 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Home grown dental care…

Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office while we waited outside with no indoor seating areas. The dental office was located on the hospital grounds.

Today’s photos are from this date while living in Savusavu, Fiji, on the island of Vanua Levu For the story and more photos from this date, please click here.

Today’s historical photos put a smile on our faces. What an unusual experience we had on the day in Fiji when Tom had a raging abscessed tooth requiring immediate attention! Our landlord explained there was a dental office located across from the hospital parking lot. Otherwise, it would have required a four-hour round trip drive to the next closest dentist.

Tom was his usual cheerful self even under these troublesome circumstances. 

Appointments weren’t required. We contacted Rasnesh, our usual driver, to take us the short distance to the hospital grounds where the dental office was located. Rasnesh explained he had been seeing this same dentist since he was a child and was happy with the care he’d received, giving us peace of mind.

As it turned out, Tom did indeed have a bad abscess revealed on the x-ray, and the doctor recommended either pulling three teeth in that area or Tom taking antibiotics. In three months, we’d be in New Zealand, where he could be treated as needed. The dentist gave him three prescriptions; two antibiotics and one for high dose Paracetamol (Tylenol).

The treatment room was spacious and seemingly well equipped.

When we proceeded to pay the dental bill, we couldn’t stop giggling. We walked across the parking lot to the hospital’s pharmacy to discover the prescriptions were “free.” In both cases, we offered to pay more, explaining we were tourists. Still, their national health care system, which included visitors, refused payment, handing over the neatly wrapped medications. Wow! The x-ray, exams, and the time with the dentist came to a total of US $2.76, INR 204!

Within three to four days, the pain was gone. Still, once more, he needed a round of antibiotics two months later when the pain returned while we were waiting to board a cruise in Sydney, Australia (see that post here) ending in New Zealand, where finally, he had the one abscessed molar pulled (see that post here).

We could only hope for sanitary conditions.

We both had a cleaning appointment scheduled before we left South Africa in 2019. Still, after my open-heart surgery, the dentist refused to work on my teeth due to the risk of infection, possibly after heart surgery. Thus, I haven’t seen a dentist since 2018. Tom kept his cleaning appointment in South Africa in 2019. Once we return, we’ll both head to our fantastic dentist in Komatipoort, 20 minutes from Marloth Park.

While in lockdown, I had an abscess which seems to have resolved after taking the same antibiotics Tom had taken for his. No prescription is required in India for non-narcotic prescriptions. Hopefully, it doesn’t return, allowing me to have it treated when we get to South Africa, whenever that is.

Luckily, he didn’t have one of these dreaded injections.

In the interim, we are cautious with our teeth, frequently brushing with our Braun battery-operated toothbrushes, using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide every few days, continuing with our usual regime of “oil pulling” using organic unrefined coconut oil. Here’s a US scientific study on some of the health benefits of oil pulling using coconut oil.

In addition, we both floss after each meal using brush picks and dental floss. Hopefully, these preventive procedures will help us make it to our dentist in Komatipoort in many months to come. Of course, there’s no substitute for quality dental care by a licensed professional. For now, as with everything else, we do the best we can.

The used sponge on the sink could instill a degree of concern for sanitation. Then again, we Americans may be overly concerned about germs.

On a side note, at the end of yesterday’s post, two of our kind readers wrote, “Why don’t we live in a holiday/vacation home in Mumbai as opposed to staying in this hotel?” For their comments and our responses, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

We certainly appreciate the comments and questions and fully understand the basis of such questions. But, in reviewing our responses, you’ll see how staying put in this hotel makes more sense for us right now. All those wedding guests cluttering the corridors without face masks yesterday have since checked out in the interim. I was able to walk without issue this morning, much to my relief. Yesterday, I stopped walking halfway through my daily goal when countless guests were not wearing face masks.

The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD 6, $2.76, INR 204!

At the moment, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game played yesterday in the US. We’ll see how that goes!

Find comfort in the small things.

As we entered the hospital’s pharmacy. We only waited a moment for service. The medications he received were already packaged and ready to go. Only the label was added with Tom’s name and instructions. 

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2019:

There was no post on this date one year ago. We had just arrived in Minnesota to be with family, and we spent a hectic day.

Day #228 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A magical village and culture…

A rusty sailboat remains on the shore in Savusavu.

Today’s photos are from this date while spending three months in

Savusavu, Fiji, on the island of Vanua Levu. For the story from this date, please click here.

Right now, under these peculiar circumstances, as we review past experiences, we’re concluding that every place we visited would be a welcome relief compared to the challenges we’re facing today. The heat, the lack of screens on windows, the lack of air-con at many holiday homes, the insects, the possibility of snakes, power outages, high prices on food, supplies, and rental cars all seem insignificant right now.

The grocery store where we shop for a few items each week. There was only one aisle with food. The other two aisles consisted of cleaning supplies, Christmas decorations, and Diwali fireworks.

No, we didn’t complain a lot, and overall, as our long-time readers know, we weathered many difficult situations. Instead, we focused on the good aspects of each location, savoring the scenery, the local culture, the people, the wildlife, and the opportunity to see many magical points of interest.

As we review these past adventures, in a way, we relive them, grateful for the depth and breadth of those experiences, any of which we’d exchange in a minute right now. We’ve considered returning to some of those locations if international flights were available from Mumbai. They are not.

The reflection of the blue sky on the still water in Savusavu lagoon.

We’d even considered returning to some of those same holiday homes if they too were available at this time and reachable from the airport here. Some locations can be reached from the US. We could fly to the US and take numerous flights from there. But the thought of spending 36 to 42 hours flying and changing planes at multiple airports presents its risks for COVID-19, one we don’t want to take.

You may think we are overly cautious when many in the US don’t even know anyone who’s had the virus. But, three of our family members in the US  had it and fortunately avoided a hospital stay. And here, in India, like in the US, the risk is outrageous with unmasked crowds gathering at every turn.

A skinny nursing dog scrounging for food among the rocks.

From the CDC in the US:

In general, your risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 increases as you get older. 8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.

8 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths reported in the United States have been in adults 65 years old and older.

It isn’t rocket science for us to figure out that staying put right now makes more sense than trying to travel any more than we have to. Once international flights open up for us to head to South Africa, there shouldn’t be more than one layover.  We can fly to Johannesburg at that time, rent a car and drive five hours to Marloth Park.

It’s unlikely we will fly to the Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger Airport once South Africa’s borders open to US citizens and those arriving from India.

We often wondered who owned these boats? Are they ex-pats living in Fiji or visitors stopping for supplies after being out to sea?

If we have to stay here in this hotel for months to come, we’ve decided, we can last. Yesterday, I reminded Tom of the perks we have in this situation as follows:

  1. No cleaning or making the bed
  2. No cooking or doing dishes
  3. No taking out the trash
  4. No hanging clothes on the line
  5. No necessity for Tom to drive me to the market since I can’t go a manual transmission with my left hand on the opposite side of the road
  6. No putting groceries away
  7. No packing and unpacking every few months
    The view across the Savusavu Harbour to Nawii Island, where properties were under construction.

As for the less desirable aspects, well, you’ve all read enough about these. I suppose it pays to focus on the things we “don’t have to do” to somehow help us stay optimistic and upbeat.

May your day be optimistic and upbeat wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2019:

Hot and sweaty after dancing at the silent disco on the ship. For more photos, please click here.
Day #171 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Is a donut a fair trade-off?

Day #171 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Is a donut a fair trade-off?…

The ferry docked at the edge of Savusavu, Fiji, makes a daily trip to Viti Levu, the largest island in the Fiji chain. It’s an overnight journey, arriving at 4 or 5 am. Since we’ll spend our last month on that island, we saw no reason to take the ferry and will again fly on the commuter plane when it’s time to leave.

Note: I started out doing the edits, starting at the oldest of almost 3,000 at page #148, with 20 posts per page. I noticed a number of the posts had varying font sizes in the text. This resulted during the conversion from Blogger to WordPress as my operating platform. The extra time it would take for me to change the font to a universal size would be doubled.

This is a daunting task in itself, and I have no interest in doubling the time it takes to do the other necessary edits. As a result, I will be leaving them as they are. Sure, I’d like every one of the 3,000 posts to be perfect. But, for the sake of time spent, I decided I must leave it as is. Today, I am on page #131, completing one page each day, taking a bulk of my free time.

The dock is available for the use of boats in this small harbor.

Today’s photos were from this date in 2015, when there was no post on this date in 2013. When we first landed in Fiji on the small island of Vanua Levu in the village of Savusavu. See the link here.

On to today…

As the proverbial optimist, I try to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day and spend little time thinking about our difficult situation. Yesterday was a hard day for Tom. I couldn’t avoid feeling frustrated when I saw and heard how frustrated he was. He’s tired of this. I am so busy with tasks, I think about it less.

As we wandered through the busy local farmer’s market, open daily, it was hard to decide which vendor to choose for our purchases. We purchased the following for $22, US $10.12;  two red bell peppers (also called capsicum here); six medium-sized aubergines (eggplant); three heads of cabbage; and eight large carrots.

For me, if we were living in a house overlooking the sea, right now, I’d be wrapped up in the necessary edits on the old posts that would take up most of my days and parts of my evenings. I might stop from time to time to savor our surroundings, take walks on the beach, do laundry, and prepare meals.

Every few days, we’d head out to the grocery shop and go sightseeing, taking endless photos along the way. As is the case when handling hundreds of photos, a tremendous amount of time is required to sort, edit, and manage the photos. In reality, I’m probably better off not taking new photos right now while I’m busy with the seemingly endless revisions.

These are breadfruit often used in curry dishes, popular in Fiji.

As a result, this time in lockdown is not so bad for me. That’s not to say it isn’t boring. Especially the walks and the repetitive meals for Tom, who spends most of his day on his laptop researching ancestry, reading social media posts, and listening to podcasts. He’s bored.

He wants a doughnut. India is not known for its donuts. He’d tried a few Indian donuts before the lockdown, but after a few bites, he stopped eating them, preferring the taste of a good donut from SuperAmerica in the US (if they even exist these days). He’d liked the freshly baked donuts from the baked goods case or bakery in any supermarket on occasion in other countries. His donut days are non-existence, and he’s feeling frustrated. Oddly, he prefers plain donuts without frosting or filling.

These are the sizes of the aubergine we purchased. These adjoining bowls contain a variety of hot peppers, which I’d love to try, but Tom doesn’t care for spicy food.

If I could eat a donut, it would be creamy, sticky, nutty, and oozing with something in the middle. I haven’t eaten a donut in over nine years. Right now, I’d be happy with a piece of meat with fat on it instead of a dry chicken breast which I never liked anyway, unless it was cooked on the grill with the skin and bone.

No, this isn’t easy. But, without a doubt, it’s easier for me than for Tom, and on a rare occasion, he expresses his frustration, and I listen with caring and compassion. Two weeks from today, we’ll have been in this hotel room for a full six months. I wonder how long we can last before we “give up” and return to the US until this COVID-19 disaster passes.

These are some types of sweet potatoes.

Our risk of infection is almost zero in this hotel. Returning to the US, flying on several flights through several airports, and finding a place to stay, live, and shop while we “wait it out” is risky, particularly for me. Would we end up sitting in a chair all day, occasionally walking and not being any better off than we are now? We’d have to be very careful and avoid being around others, not unlike what we’re doing now. Those are the questions we ask ourselves now.

We’d pay thousands of dollars more a month to live, to rent a car, to grocery shop, and our risks of COVID-19 would be exponentially higher. But, one reality remains. Tom could eat a donut.

Coconuts with peeled outer shells were readily available in the market. If we had a machete, we’d buy a coconut for the delicious meat inside.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.


Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2019:

The first animals we encountered in the paddock in Treddarup, Cornwall, England, were pigs. As our readers know, I love pigs. However, as cute as they are, they can’t match the appeal of a handsome warthog. For more photos, please click here.

Limited number of ports of call on this cruise…Long way yet to sail…9368 km, 5817 miles (5055 nautical miles)…

Isle of Pines coral reef is stunning.

The ship docked at the Port of Suva, Fiji, early this morning for an overnight stay. Why they chose this port for the extended stay baffled us until yesterday when the captain explained in a seminar held midday in the Palace Theatre.

Passengers seemed to enjoy the white sand beach and crystal clear sea.

The ship needed to refuel and gather provisions for the upcoming journey consisting of 9368 km, 5817 miles, 5055 nautical miles to sail to Seattle by May 15. We boarded the ship one week ago today, and the time is flying by more quickly than we’d expected.

These types of garments are not for me, but it’s fun to check them out.

The ease of life aboard a ship, along with a pleasant routine we tend to embrace within the first few days, days almost pass in a blur. We probably don’t spend more than nine hours a day in our cabin, sleeping, showering, dressing for the day, and then for the evening.

There were lots of trinkets for sale in New Caledonia.

Tom and I have managed the small space in the cabin of 164 square feet down to a science. We maneuver around one another with a flow comparable to a well-practiced dance where we seldom bump into one another.

After 18 cruises in similarly sized cabins (this is the smallest to date), we’ve managed to make the most of it in keeping the space tidy, organized, and free of clutter. In addition, we have a phenomenal cabin steward on this particular cruise whose efforts include consistency and organizational skills similar to our own. 

Green-themed sarongs.

Each morning as soon as we depart for breakfast, she cleans our cabin to perfection. Then, when we return to get our laptops to head to the Diamond Lounge to prepare the day’s post, every last item is completed with nary a wrinkle or item out of order.

Tourists typically purchase tee-shirts and beach towels.

Today, we arrived a little later than usual when we lingered at the breakfast table chatting with other passengers, all of whom were about to explore Suva for the day. We didn’t arrive in the Diamond Lounge until 10 am, when in most cases, we’ll be done preparing the post by 11. This accounts for today’s slightly later posting.

A tiny rowboat at the ready.

As we’ve recounted the details of our four-month stay in Fiji on two islands, from September 8, 2015, to January 4, 2016, we giggled over our varied experiences during that period.

Ship passengers peruse the many shops in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.

Whether it was the ants that filled the mattress and pillows on the bed on our first night in Savusavu; buying Kava for the chief when we visited the Vuodomo waterfall; the nightly visits by our neighbor Sewak’s adorable dog Badal who happened to arrive while we were dining, hoping for morsels of meat which we always provided; or the trips to the outdoor markets for food and supplies, we continue to relish the experiences, good and not-so-good yet today.

Two sleeping dogs seemed unfazed about the stream of visitors.

Unfortunately, on the second island in Fiji, I contracted this lingering intestinal bacteria I’m continuing to purge from my system with carefully selected foods, supplements, and portion control. 

A rusted outboard motor fashioned into a work of art?

Regardless of the ups and downs, we continue to feel a powerful sense of joy wash over us every day.  From the couples with who we’ve become friends aboard this ship; to the many email messages we continue to receive from readers and friends we’ve made along the way; to the anticipation of the upcoming Alaskan cruise and, of course, seeing family and friends in less than a month.

Clouds above the pretty beach in the Isle of Pines.

Today, at 1:30 pm, the newer movie, Lion, filmed in Tasmania, is playing at the Palace Theatre. We’re certainly looking forward to this movie when our recent stay in Tasmania left us with an appreciation and gratefulness for the three months we spent on the exquisite island.

I haven’t owned a muumuu since I was pregnant in 1966.  (That certainly “dates” me!)

Every day as time marches on, we’re reminded of our growing past experiences in one way or another. And yet, there’s so much we’ve yet to see. The future looks bright and filled with wonder.  May good health keep us on track for that which is yet to come.

We offer the same wishes for all of you; good health and well-being.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2016:

Sunset on the last night of our cruise to Singapore one year ago today. For more details, please click here.

Food aboard the ship….Being “real”…

Each night my meals consist of salmon or chicken breast with prawns and a side of spinach and mashed cauliflower. This cruise, I’ve avoided salads and beef.

OK, dear readers, bear with me for a little whinging (complaining). We’ve always stated we’ll “tell it like it is,” although, at times, we may postpone our whining for a day or two while we await what hopefully proves to be a good outcome to further share with our readers.

It’s one thing to moan and groan which may become more tolerable to the reader when a resolution has been implemented to defray the negative chatter. But, ah, living in the world is beyond our expectations, but it can be a huge struggle when one isn’t feeling well.

While recovering from this dreadful gastrointestinal bacterial infection lasting 15 months, on top of the back injury in Bali last June, it’s been one tough past year. The back injury healed totally by November, but without mention here of the raging intestinal infection until this past month, I feel as if I haven’t been “telling it like it is” as much as we might have intended.

Even Tom has been extra careful during this cruise, eating less bread, starch, and sugar. Here’s his Chateaubriand with asparagus and potato.

Why we kept it under wraps was more due to its vague nature than admitting to my vulnerability. When it finally reached its full-blown level with medical care required, we didn’t hesitate to post it here.

Now totally done with the two-week course of powerful doses of two antibiotics, I’d hope there would be no more to say on the topic. But, life isn’t always what and how we’d like it to be. I still have to watch what and how much I eat and drink while I’ve been dealing with the worst sore throat of my life for the past week, a side effect of the medication.

None of this has kept me down. On the contrary, we’ve continued to thoroughly enjoy ourselves, taking advantage of every moment aboard the ship with little time spent in our cabin except for a few short rests we’ve allowed ourselves on occasion.

Last night, I was served two almond flour cakes, a bigger portion than I needed, but it was impossible to resist when I hadn’t had a suitable dessert in so long I couldn’t remember. They were both delicious, although those on “regular” diets may not have thought so. Also, I’ve been drinking a half glass of red wine each night which has been proven to aid in killing off residual Helicobactor Pylori bacteria, as shown in this study. (Please check with your doctor for appropriate treatment if you have this infection or others).

Today, for the first day in a week, my throat feels a little better, and yet I’m still not my usual self. Thus, while aboard ship, I preferred to keep my meals simple, easy to digest, and of course, easy to swallow. 

As a result, I asked the restaurant manager to have the chef make the same meal for me each night, only alternating chicken and salmon as the main entree items, including a few prawns, spinach, and mashed cauliflower, all easy to digest and swallow. This would ensure I was getting adequate protein and other nutrients.

With the restrictive diet I’ve followed for the past five and a half years, I’ve been able to avoid constant pain from the spinal condition that I’ve had for almost 30 years. This has enabled us to travel the world. There’s no way I’ll ever stray from that plan. Unfortunately, however, some of us fall prey to other conditions layering one condition over another from time to time. It’s the way it is.  No one is exempt.

Tom’s chocolate mousse dessert.

A huge aspect to our intent in sharing our site, now almost five years in the making (our fifth anniversary of posting is next week), has been to avoid glamorizing this life and to be “real.” “Real” is not always pretty. “Real” is not always fun and playful. “Real” doesn’t always result in interesting reading for our much-appreciated world audience.

Today, we’re in Lautoka, Fiji. Neither of us desires to exit the ship for the endless touristy-type shops along the way. So instead, we’re content to stay onboard, mingle with our newly made friends and continue to read and relax.

That’s as “real’ as it gets aboard a ship. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, March 8, 2016:

While driving along the coast in New Zealand, we often attempted to take photos of these sun-drenched scenes of the waning sun peeking through dense clouds. For more photos, please click here.