Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…Food photos and recipes!…

low carb keto way of eating while traveling the world
Here’s a favorite meal: bacon-wrapped, hard-boiled egg stuffed meatloaf made with grass-fed ground beef; salads with red romaine (cos), celery, carrot, and homemade salad dressing; sliced cucumber sprinkled with Himalayan salt; steamed green beans and broccolini; oven-roasted zucchini; good-for-gut-bacteria probiotic sauerkraut; and, my favorite occasional treat, low carb flaxseed and almond flour muffins topped with grass-fed organic butter. Who says “low carb” dining isn’t healthy? (The red bottle in the center of the table contains homemade ketchup we put in a  used and washed bottle). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

For many readers, today’s third of five SEO posts may be found to be controversial, again with repetition from past posts, required due to this process as Post #3 of 5 for this purpose.

If you still believe and follow a vegan diet, or the low fat, low or moderate protein, mostly plant-based, high carbohydrate way of eating, this post won’t appeal to your personal beliefs about food. That’s OK. The intent here is not to dismiss or express disdain for any way of eating that may serve you well. Nor do we intend to “convert” any of our readers to our chosen lifestyle of low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Please understand, that today’s post on the low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world has worked for me, for Tom, and for many throughout the world. Over the years we’ve received tremendous positive feedback from readers following a similar path, often requesting tips and recipes which we happily provided and posted. In no manner are we dispensing any medical or health advice. Please seek your own resources for additional information.

How one chooses to eat and to ultimately care for their health is a personal topic, one which we’re sharing here again today based on countless emails we’ve received from readers asking us to reiterate how we are in fact living a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world when so much of the world’s diet consists of high carbohydrates foods including grains, sugars, and starches.

Homemade grain-free pizza crust
Homemade grain-free pizza crust. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Why did we choose low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?…

It all started in 2011 when I sought treatment from an integrative medicine doctor, a licensed, accredited physician, one who treats the entire body, rather than a part of the body causing an issue. I had been suffering from hereditary auto-immune conditions, including pre-diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperinsulinemia, and metabolic syndrome. All of these hereditary inflammatory conditions ultimately led to cardiovascular disease.

Also, these conditions, coupled with a hereditary propensity to advanced spinal stenosis (and subsequent diabetes and heart disease) resulted in constant full-body pain commensurate with my three MRIs illustrating that my skeletal frame was rapidly disintegrating.

Based on these three MRIs, the doctor expected I’d be in a wheelchair in a matter of months. At that time, I was 61 years old, living my life as a disabled person, struggling to stay active with excessive painful exercise, requiring me to retire early. Mainly, I didn’t discuss the degree of pain I was suffering, preferring to avoid eliciting sympathy from family and friends.

With pressure on my nerves throughout my body, the “crumbling vertebrae and other joints,” and other above-mentioned conditions, left me with chronic full-body pain.

baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves
One of our favorite recipes: baked, low carb, almond flour chicken stuffed loaves. We tripled the recipe in order to result in four meals, freezing part of it. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

This amazing doctor handed me 20-pages of literature from the renowned Cleveland Clinic as to how a low carb, ketogenic way of eating may reduce my level of pain and symptoms from the above conditions.

As it turned out, a lifetime of eating low-fat, high carbohydrate, low protein, high sugar-grain-starch diet, eventually impacted my cardiovascular system which was firmly in place long before I changed my diet in 2011. Inflammation, ultimately, was the cause. As the surgeon explained, after my triple cardiac bypass surgery in 2019, I’d had heart disease for the prior 20, 30, or 40 years and didn’t know it. By the time I changed to a low carb, keto way of eating in 2011, the damage had been done.

In 2019, the cardiologist explained that those changes I made in 2011 may well have saved my life from a fatal heart attack, as well as years of exercising, which I used as a means to avoid further deterioration of my joints and muscles.

Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway
Layering the cooked bacon, meat slices, cheese, tomato, and onion slices for our bread-free subway, ready to be wrapped in parchment paper. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

What does a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world look like?

As I read through the 20-page report from the Cleveland Clinic, I wondered how I could possibly follow such a strict way of eating. In my usual way, I sought information online from reliable sources on the controversial low carb/keto diet, which was often used for a number of chronic conditions. Much to my surprise, I found a tremendous number of reputable resources to assist me in my journey. For the sake of expediency, I won’t be listing “how to do a keto diet” here today, other than to list the following foods in general which are allowed, as opposed to those “not allowed.”

1. Animal protein (including eggs): Any form without sauces and spices containing starch, grains, and sugars
2. Vegetables: Any non-starchy vegetables primarily that grow above ground, excluding corn, beans, peas, prepared simply with butter, Himalayan salt, and some spices. No fruit of any type, which is high in sugar, other than a few berries from time to time
3. Dairy (if tolerated): In moderation: Hard cheeses, full-fat cream, butter, sour cream, cream cheese. (Yogurt is generally high in sugars and whey protein containing milk sugars).
4. Spices: Mustard, fresh or dried spices without additives; homemade mayonnaise (most mayo includes toxic oils). No store-bought ketchup which is high in sugar
5. Oils: Pure, high-quality olive oil, butter, lard, tallow, bacon fat. (Vegetable oils must be avoided due to high inflammatory effects).

Goal: No more than 20 actual (not “net carbs” often calculated after deducting fiber) grams of carbohydrates per day, easily available for calculation on numerous free online apps.

Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie

One of three pans of Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. (We couldn’t find the correct sized tin foil pans to use. Instead, we used three baking pans. But the recipe is best baked in individual serving pans since it tends to fall apart when scooping it out from larger pans). Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How and when did we decide we could maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

After three months of eating this way, following the above with relative ease, one morning I awoke and the pain was gone! And I mean GONE! It was only five months later that we decided to forgo life as we knew it to travel the world. Shortly thereafter, Tom embraced this way of eating, losing 40 pounds, 18 kg, while totally recovering from irritable bowel syndrome and restless leg syndrome. In six months he was totally off seven pills a day! But, we wondered, was it conceivable to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

Highly motivated, with the pain still gone for me and weight and illnesses gone for Tom, we were on our way on October 31, 2012, soon to be our eight-year anniversary since we began our journey. Hovering in our minds was the upcoming three months in Italy only 11 months later, the endless restaurant visits, the foods popular in various countries in Europe, the tempting desserts, bread, and flour-laden dishes on cruise ships. How would we do it?

It required a huge commitment from me, more than Tom, who seemed to be able to occasionally vary from our low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world without any major consequences. For me, I was terrified that if I so much as took a bite of a dessert, a flour-thickened sauce, pasta, or bread, I’d immediately revert to my former pain-ridden condition. I avoided anything that didn’t fall within the above parameters.

mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
For three night’s we had mozzarella balls, stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. There’s also one ball inside each meatball along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Was it easy to shop for and maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world?

In time, we developed a sensible routine for shopping for our home-cooked meals. Comparable to most home cooks, we created a list in our minds of favorite dishes, shopping for ingredients accordingly. Every country, without exception, sells some form of animal protein such as fish, shellfish, chicken, beef, and pork. (Although, here in India no beef or pork is served, other than bacon).

Every country sells eggs, most often free-range, butter, and non-starchy vegetables. We were always able to purchase quality imported hard cheeses, and other low carb cheeses, although at times, they were expensive. We budgeted accordingly, I suppose the most difficult situation has been in India, where we’re longing for a bun-less burger, a juicy steak, or pork chops, none of which are available due to Hindu religious beliefs. As a result, we continue to eat chicken and on occasion salmon (for me), which is expensive for a tiny portion.

Shopping for groceries was most difficult in Belize where the grocery store offered only frozen, often freezer-burned meats, and again in Fiji, where a wonderful meat market provided many wonderful cuts of meat of all types, but the grocery store with only two aisles had few items we used for preparing our meals including vegetables and spices. Somehow, we always figured it out, never having to sacrifice our chosen low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world.

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl
Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Recipes for maintaining a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world…

Like many of our readers, we all have a “favorite” recipes list, often a top 10. Years ago, I wrote a post about our favorite top ten LOW CARB recipes which include:

1. Bread-less submarine sandwiches – See the link here for the details and photos.
2. Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf – See the link here for details and photos.
3. Chicken Stuffed Almond Flour Loaves – See the link here for details and photos.
4. Chicken Pot Pies – See the here for details and photos.
5. Meatballs stuffed with Mozzarella with Mushrooms & Sugar-free Marinara – See this link here for details and photos.
6. Pizza – See this link here for the crust to which you add your favorite low carb, sugar-free topping.
7. Taco salad with low carb bowl – See this link here for the bowl to which you add your favorite low carb ingredients
8. Gluten-free hamburgers with low carb buns – See here for our low carb bun recipe to which you add your favorite burgers and vegetables
9. Sunday Roast – See here for our low carb Sunday roast, so popular in the UK, here.
10. Coconut or Almond Flour Battered Fish or Chicken – See here for either option.

8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion
These homemade hamburger buns are huge enough to hold a 6 to the 8-ounce patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion or other items added. They’re delicious! Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

How to maintain a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world, especially while in lockdown in India during the past six months…

It’s been difficult these past many months in lockdown in India with room service providing all of our meals. We’ve always preferred to eat only two meals per day. On occasion, for health reasons, we’ve chosen intermittent fasting, which is easier for us when we’re living in a holiday home and may need the break the fast with the food we have on-hand. Here, we have nothing available if we felt a “need” to eat something appropriate for breaking the fast.

Indian food, although delicious to me, is not a favorite of Tom’s. And, Indian food is packed with starch, sugar, fruit, and grains, none of which are suitable for my way of eating. At one point, early on, I considered throwing caution to the wind and just dine on the delicious Indian foods.

However, after seeing how I had difficulty walking after eating only their rich red sauces (all without gluten), for several months, I now realize I wouldn’t have been able to do all the walking I’ve done so far, never missing a day, solely with the intent in benefitting my heart health. If the pain made it impossible to walk, I’d only have been damaging my health further. I’ve literally forced myself to walk the past few months.

organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots
Our Sunday roast: organic grass-fed pork roast, Kransky (cheese-filled) gluten-free sausages, Portabello mushrooms, onions, and organic carrots. I cut the roast open during the last 30 minutes to ensure it was cooked properly. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

Now, back to my strict keto diet, forgoing all those carb-laden sauces, eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, I’m finding the walking easier each day. The philosophy of deducting the fiber grams from the total number of grams of carbohydrates has been proven to be a fallacy. I count only the full carb content of carbohydrates and now, I’m gradually improving, more each day.

Hopefully, by the time we leave India, I will be back to fitness and health, in every way.

How you can achieve a low carb, keto way of eating while traveling the world or when living life anywhere in the world…

At first, when I decided to write on this topic, I considered adding links to the doctors, researchers, and scientists who’ve done extensive research on this way of eating. After thinking about it, I decided with the vast information available online, each of us needs to do our own research to bring us to a point of realization that the low fat, high carb, low protein, highly-processed grains, sugars, and starches may not be for us. One need only looks at the poor health of the citizens of the world and in the US, from following this modality for the past four decades.

dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad
A favorite dinner of lightly battered and seasoned fish with egg and almond flour, sautéed in coconut and olive oil Barramundi, fresh organic green beans, homemade LC muffin, and salad on the side was a perfect meal we both enjoyed. Please see this link for instructions and the recipe.

There are countless highly reputable resources online you may choose to investigate. It took me years of research to find my way in this life-changing way of eating. If you have difficulty researching, feel free to contact me at the end of any post, in the comments section and I will add some links for all of our readers to see.

Thank you for letting me share this story, once again as we each decide which path works best in extending our lives, the quality of our lives, and the ultimate guilt-free enjoyment of many outstanding foods and meals at home and throughout the world.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2019:

tomatoes
Renata, our host,  suggested we pick all the tomatoes and other vegetables we wanted, remaining in the greenhouse For more photos, please click here.

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.

Teaching an old dog…disembarking the Norwegian Epic soon…

Disembarking Day.  We’re getting off the Norwegian Epic, at long last.

It was is with much pleasure that we’re leaving this ship. The
crowds, the lines, the noise and the chaos over the past four days since
departing from Barcelona on May 1st has been unnerving for both of us.
This ship, although modern, clean and attractive leaves much
to be desired.  The food, the service, the
entertainment and the floor plan are severely lacking. The service staff is
exhausted, overworked, all of which is evidenced by the fake smiles plastered
on most of their faces in a futile, although well intentioned, effort to seem cheerful.
Our sweet cabin steward, to whom we gave $60 tip, started
out cheery and animated.  Halfway into
our 15 day cruise, he started going downhill, forgetting towels, ice, and other
amenities.  Many of the crew members
became ill during the three days of 50 foot swells, never seeming to get back
on track.  Most of them were used to the
calm seas of the Caribbean Sea as opposed to this rough transatlantic crossing.

The food: frightful.  The only item I found
delicious, other than the dinner in the “pay for” restaurant, was the
“real eggs” omelet I had every morning, especially after I told them
to stop adding the 1/3 cup of oil to the pan and to use the spray instead.  Tom said nothing was memorable including the
specialty restaurant. 



Their compliance to my low carb, grain free, starch free,
and sugar free diet was a gallant effort but the resulting food was dry, bland
and unseasoned.  Every night, my “steamed”
vegetables, a staple of my meals, were either undercooked or sautéed in gobs of
butter, making them inedible. 
Whether I
had fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or beef, it was a miniscule overcooked
portion. 


Our final bill for the 15 days was $1021, including $200 in Internet fees for days out to sea, cocktails, beverages and tips charged on our bill daily of $24 (totaling $360), one night in the specialty restaurant plus $150 for the excursion to Marseilles, France.  This proves to be around $400 for all beverage and tips for beverages for this extended period. 


Hopefully, tomorrow when we board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner
of the Seas for a 15 day cruise to Dubai, we’ll find the food and service more
to our liking.  Based on conversations
with many passengers, they’ve particularly enjoyed this older ship’s attention
to detail, something we found to be the case on the older Celebrity Century,
our favorite ship thus far.

At the moment, we’re sitting in our favorite booth in the
Garden Cafe as passenger’s colors of their luggage tags are called to proceed
to disembark the ship, go through customs and find their way to their next
destinations.

It’s now 8:00 am.  Our
color has already been called but we’ve chosen to disembark “last” since our
hotel room won’t be ready until 2:00 PM. 
We’ve done this on each of our last cruises which resulted in a shorter line
going through customs.  Hopefully, this
will be the case today as well.

Once outside, we’ll grab a cab for the short ride to Hotel
Grums, where we’ll have them store our luggage until our room is ready while we
wait in the lobby for our check in for the one night.  With books to read on our phones and our MiFi
we’ll busy ourselves reading and writing.

Speaking of luggage…OK, here’s the final tally.  After donating the three 30″ orange
Antler bags, we’re down to one 30″ orange bag for Tom and one slightly
larger black Samsonite bag for me, one carry on, one computer bag plus…two
duffel bags with our dirty clothes that we couldn’t fit into the suitcases and a
small bag with the cords for our digital equipment and a small doctor bag with
our toiletries.

As for the vitamins, I took 80% of them out of the bottles
placing the pills in Ziplock bags and scattering them throughout the luggage.  I should have done this to begin with but
then again, who knew we’d be held up for 24 hours by security over
vitamins?  Live and learn.  It’s all a part of the process.
Our goal, at the end of the upcoming cruise as we pack for
our 13 night stay in Dubai, is to be rid of the two duffel bags, the doctor bag
and the other overflow bag.  It will
require us donating more “stuff” or throwing it away.  After the disposition of the three bags,
we’re ready to let go of more of our favorite items.

The clothes we’re wearing today are the same clothes
we’ll wear to dinner tonight and again tomorrow since we don’t plan to open any bags
other than the computer bags and the doctor bag with overnight toiletries while
we stay in the hotel tonight. 


In my old life, I wouldn’t have imagined wearing the same
clothing two days in a row, let alone the same clothing during the day as when
going out to dinner in the evening. 
Alas, we keep adapting and somehow, in the process, we find these
adaptations to be liberating and to a degree, life changing.

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Learn enough new
tricks and perhaps the old dog isn’t so old anymore.

Lost in the minutiae…

If we hadn’t had over six months to plan our travels for the next five to ten years, it would have seemed impossible, bogged down in the details. So far, I keep taking deep breaths moving closer each day, some days at a crawl, others days a marathon.

Unloading our home and everything we have accumulated in a lifetime, except for a few totes our kids will store, the six suitcases, two carry on bags, computer bags and handbags (Tom’s murse), could be overwhelming in a shorter time frame.  

Not only must we continually address the travel planning, the shots, the doctor appointments, the insurance policies, the retirement board, but also the mounting piles of paperwork to prepare, scan or shred.  

In the interim, we have “life” to live, dinners to cook, clothes to wash, flowers to water, everyday errands to run and most importantly, family to see as often as possible. Fit in time with friends, daily walks, answering email, Facebook lurking and time rapidly flies by, two months and eight days until we walk out the door, leaving Minnesota and everyone we love behind.

Oh, I’m not complaining. Actually, I love every moment. This in itself, is a joy filled time, complex with never ending challenge, hopeful solutions and tons of new information flooding my brain. I didn’t know “it” had room after the “information load” environment in which we live.  But, it does, grabbing every tidbit of new data flooding into it’s mushy cells.

Yesterday, we took most of our grandchildren to Train Day, a family picnic provided by Tom’s employer.  The little ones had a blast exploring the gigantic train engine, a bright red fire truck; bouncing on the huge blown up contraptions, eating overcooked hot dogs while hanging out with us, PapaChooChoo and GrandmaChooChoo, We had a memorable day.  

(BTW, I don’t post photos of our little grandchildren online.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, fearing online predators.  When they grow up, I will. Not now.)

Several months ago, I posted a note on my calendar (one of many) to apply for new debit cards. They’ll expire at the end of January after we’ve already left the country. Since debit cards cannot be forwarded, this would have caused undue stress.  Our goal, as always, is to prepare so much in advance that we don’t often have to “kick ourselves” for forgetting to do a task such as this.  

On our way to Train Day, we stopped at the bank to order the new debit cards. While the banker ordered the cards, a thought popped into my head: we must set up a wire-transfer account in both of our names, providing us with easy access to our accounts (via a phone call as opposed to email for security purposes). This was on my list for this upcoming October but why not get it done now?  Two more of the minutiae out of the way! 

Returning home, I immediately ran around the kitchen making the crusts for our low carb, gluten, grain and starch free pizza for Friday Night Pizza, our favorite dinner.  Later today, I will make homemade salsa and cornbread to bring to one of the last of a few parties we’ll attend tomorrow. (Recipes for all of these items are on my earlier posts.  Simply hit the search filter).

This weekend, we’re planning to put all of our empty suitcases in the back of Tom’s SUV to ensure they’ll fit, along with the two totes we’re bringing for my son Richard Lasica, a successful real estate agent in Henderson, to store for us in Henderson, Nevada.  If they don’t fit, which I suspect they will, we will price rent a small trailer to haul behind us or, bear the cost of shipping the totes.  More minutiae. It seems to grow rather than diminish!

We can’t wait to be sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the ocean in our little beach house in Placencia, Belize, starting on January 28, 2013 which is five months and seven days from today.  Oh, oh, while in Belize we’ll have to prepare our 2012 tax stuff for our accountant as soon as we receive (online, of course) the W2’s.  Yuck!  Minutiae!  You can run, but you can’t hide!

Paper towels and toilet paper…

While grocery shopping yesterday, I grabbed a 12 pack of my favorite paper towels.  Shocked by the outrageous price of $14.96, I stepped back while my eyes scanned the other options, all of which were lower priced.  I had tried the other towels over the years but none could equal my favorites.  (BTW, this is not an ad for paper towels.  Note, no mention of a brand.  Email or call me if you want the brand name).

Then it hit me!  On average I use two rolls of paper towels a month.  With slightly over four months until departure, we will end up with about three unused rolls of paper towels including the additional cleaning to do before we sign off on the house.  No need to buy the 12 pack.

With the eight pack in hand at $9.97, the math swirling around my head, I laughed aloud at my ridiculousness, threw the eight pack in the cart and moseyed over the toilet paper, again going through the same preposterous calculations.  

I passed on the toilet paper, having counted the eight rolls on the shelf above the toilet before heading to the grocery store this morning, as I often do.  No imminent need for the ultra soft, zillion sheets, favorite toilet paper either. (Please email or call for that brand).

Certainly, a reader of this blog thinks I am the female version of Howie Mandell. I am picky, but I can be kissed, hugged, shake hands and touch the rail on the escalator at the mall (although I seldom go to a mall preferring to shop online).  I wash my hands about 20 times a day, less from obsession, more from a logical desire for the safe handling of our food. 

OCD?? Not really.  I prefer to call it “detail orientated.”  Perfectionism?  I suppose, to a degree.  I have messy cupboards and drawers with the intent to prove that I’m not a perfectionist. After all, wouldn’t a perfectionist, try to be so perfect as to try not to appear to be a perfectionist? 

Who knows and basically, who cares?  No one. Tom is hardly annoyed.  Our kids think I’m weird in any case.  And, most of all, I am neither stressed nor suffer any angst as a result of it. Periodically, I engage in a bout of worry in the middle of the night.  Then again,  who doesn’t occasionally worry in the middle of the night?

Thus, I am a content “detail orientated” individual that may annoy some of the people some of the time that, if they choose, may tease me relentlessly and I will genuinely chuckle. 

Yes, I’m packing too much stuff.  Yes, I spend too much time looking for a better deal on a small item.  Yes, I will hang clothes in the shower to get out the wrinkles.  Yes, I will wear a different outfit every formal night aboard ship and have ample choices for Tom as well.  

Yes, I will continue my healthful, low carb, wheat, grain, sugar, starch and gluten free diet. (Tom, not so much, especially aboard ship). Yes, I will continue to workout and take a handful of supplements each day.  Yes, Tom will continue to spend endless hours working online, fine tuning his ancestry.

We will bring with us, into this new life of world travel, who we are, our endless peculiarities, our annoying habits, our comfortable and seemingly pointless rituals and of course, some of our stuff.  I don’t think we’ll bring paper towels or toilet paper but then again…