Finally out and about photos…And, of course, .the anticipated kangaroos! Clifton Beach…

Our second kangaroo sighting of the day at a nearby field.  The first, we saw in a flash while walking in the rain forest, unable to take a photo in time.

I must admit that one of the factors inspiring us to visit Australia has been the prospect of seeing wildlife.  Wrongfully, I’d anticipated that we’d see wildlife running about everywhere. 

Perhaps, it was wishful thinking as I can’t seem to shake memories of living in the game reserve, Marloth Park in South Africa, where one only needs to walk outdoors to spot a visiting wild animal.

Warning sign at Clifton Beach.

It’s just not the case in Trinity Beach, although there are areas nearby where wallabies and kangaroos may be found lounging, wandering, and jumping in the fields and in dense rainforest areas.

Finally, yesterday rain or shine, we decided to get out and explore. Of course, the minute we got into the little red car the rain began to pelt the windshield. Shrugging and looking at one another, we decided, “Let’s go anyway. If it gets too awful, we’ll head back.

Clifton Beach.

For a while, the rain came down in buckets, dying down a while later. For a short period, the sun peeked through the clouds as we absorbed the sudden warmth, quickly noticing how hot it became. We’ve yet to soak up a bit of Vitamin D since we arrived one week ago today with the constant clouds and rain.

Hopefully, soon, we’ll experience sunny days to encourage us to head down the steep hill to the pool awaiting us beyond the required fence in the yard. With the sun stronger here than in many parts of the world, we’ll proceed with caution never staying in the sun more than 20 or 30 minutes, the amount necessary to absorb Vitamin D without wearing sunscreen, divided in half by flipping over once.

We’ve been warned not to go in the sea with the high risk of stingers and crocodiles, often spotted on the beach.

As we drove toward the direction of the ocean, we knew a part of our trip would be to check out the open field that Sylvie and Andy explained where there are numerous kangaroos and wallabies known to hang out in a certain nearby field, most days around 4:00 pm.

Although we took off around 11:00 am, we decided that if we didn’t see anything, we’d make of point of returning to that popular field later in the day. However, the early day visit didn’t disappoint.

Scout Island, named for its boy scout type hat shape is located at a distance.

With no way to park along the busy Captain Cook Highway, Tom pulled into a bus stop, pull off, while I jumped out of the car to walk quite a distance down a bike path in order to get close to the kangaroos. 

I told Tom if a bus came, he could drive down the highway to the roundabout and return to get me after the bus was gone. I’d wait for him on the bench at the bus stop if I was done taking the photos. It all worked out. I got close enough to take these photos and he never had to leave.

We’ll return another day soon hoping to see more kangaroos and wallabies taking turns watching the car so each of us will be able to see them. In any case, we’re certain we’ll see plenty of wildlife as we drive to many other areas since animals heavily populate the countryside. We’re within a short distance from the more wild areas.

Walkers on the beach carrying a parasol to protect them from the rain or potential sun.

On our journey, we noticed another strip mall with perhaps 40 stops including a Target store. Surely, Target would have some type of coffee making device. Not the case. The Target store surprised us as we walked inside.  It was no larger than a specialty clothing shop one would find in a shopping mall, for example, the size of a Gap or Old Navy store. By far, it was the smallest Target store we’ve ever seen.

We giggled as we headed to the tiny kitchen wares department…no coffee machine to be found here when “small electrics” only occupied two sides of a short row, none of which had anything to do with coffee. 

Another scene at Clifton Beach.

Ah, we get a kick out of our typical US expectations, although diminished greatly after 32 months of travel, still lingering in our minds. As we wandered through the mall, we marveled at how different the shops are here in Australia. 

In reality, the shops have almost everything one could want or need; popular clothing and shoe styles, digital equipment, food in abundance, and a wide array of locally grown and manufactured items of varying types.

We stopped at Cole’s grocery store in Clifton Beach to find a huge section of affordable grass-fed meat. The Cole’s at Smithfield mall doesn’t sell grass-fed meat other than a few small pricey steaks. In the future, we head to this location to purchase the meat which was very reasonably priced. With little room in the freezer for more than a few packages, I’ll plan to eat the grass-fed beef only once or twice a week.

Flowers blooming on a tall tree.

After walking along the beach and taking photos, a few hours later we headed home to excitedly review our photos and make dinner. We’ll continue to explore every few days and report back on our experiences. We’re feeling confident that we’ve chosen an ideal location for our base while here in Australia. 

It’s Thursday here, one week since our arrival.  We’re feeling settled in, returning to our “old” selves, sleeping better, eating better, and working our way into a comfortable life, albeit temporary life, here in Australia.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2014:

This interesting plant caught our eye on a drive in the mountains of Madeira. Zooming in, we saw how amazing these flowers actually are. Check out the photo below.
A close-up view of what looked entirely different from the above photo of a plant we spotted in the mountains of Madeira, Portugal. For more details, please click here.

How does it feel having household help?….More photo outside the Medina…

As we left the restaurant on Monday, we walked the newer area checking out other restaurants in the area, reading their menus posted outside.

It’s raining again today making it necessary to cancel our plans to go out.  Impossible to use an umbrella in the crowded souks to avoid poking a passerby in the eye, we’d get wet as the rain soaks through the open slats in the ceilings of the souks.  Not our idea of a pleasant outing, we’ve decided to say indoors.

After exiting the souks its necessary to walk through the Big Square only adding more of a likelihood of getting soaked.  The last time we went out in the rain, my shoes were soaked from being splashed by fast moving motorbikes and being shoved into puddles by less than courteous tourist crowds.

Hey, this is the nature of living in the Medina which we accept graciously.  Content to stay in today we look forward to another great dinner made by the loving hands and heart of Madame Zahra, assisted by Oumaima and later Adil who serves at dinnertime.  We appreciate their generosity and diligence to our service.

This looked like a quaint French restaurant but, after reviewing their menu, there were few options we’d have chosen.

For us, having “servants” (excuse the word) would never be a preferred way of life.  At times, we’ve heard others say, “If I won the lottery, I’d want people to wait on me.”  Not us. 

Although, most of my working life I did employ a helper to tackle the big weekly cleaning and many live-in nannies when my two sons were young. I was a single mom for nine years, owned a business and had no family in town to help.  Other than those circumstances, I’ve never thought of or desired service staff as we have available to us now.

Over the past almost 23 years that Tom and I have been together, we’ve never minded the day to day cooking, dishes, tidying up after ourselves, laundry and making the bed. 

It’s spring in Morocco now with flowers blooming.

With our dear past cleaning helper in Minnesota, Teresa, coming to clean once a week, we had it all under control. We felt fortunate to have the help but, we always cleaned up before she arrived, removing any clutter, making it easier for her to work.

We do the same here at Dar Aicha.  We leave no clutter for the staff to handle picking up our bath towels, changing the empty roll of the TP, clearing our stuff off of counter tops and placing all of our dirty clothes in the designated laundry bags in each of the two bathrooms we use (I have my own bathroom to avoid awaken Tom in the mornings if I arise earlier).

When we first arrived, it felt awkward to get up from the dinner table and not to clear the dishes.  In a short time, we accepted it as one would when dining in a restaurant, never giving the dishes a thought.

Flowers cascading down a wall.

We never ask nor do we expect the staff to “wait on us” during the day.  If we need something, we get it ourselves.  We make our ice cubes using the trays provided, make our pitchers of iced tea and refill our glasses as needed, never thinking of asking for assistance.

Madame Zahra and Oumaima clean the house seven days a week arriving around 9:00 am when we’re always up and dressed for the day.  The stone floors are all washed from room to room, no less than twice a week.  They clean our bathrooms from top to bottom daily, replacing soaps, TP and tissue as needed.  The entire riad is always clean, dust and dirt free.  It’s hard work which we fully appreciate.

After we’ve eaten dinner we’re sensitive to getting up from the dining table as soon as we’re done with our meal. The three of them stay until the table is cleared and the dishes are washed, often until well after 7:00 pm.  We usually have dinner at 6:30.  We’re well aware that we’d like for them to be able to leave as soon as possible to enjoy what’s left of their evening.

This is a Vietnamese restaurant with the menu written in Arabic and French. 

Once a week we pay Samir for the meals we’ve had during the previous week at a rate of US $24.56, MAD 200 per dinner for the two of us.  Halfway through our time here which will be next Monday, we’ll generously provide tips for all of them and then again prior to leaving.  We’ve found this show of appreciation midway through our stay is important for their morale, especially when our typical stay is considerably longer than other guests.

Are we getting tired of not being able to cook? The only thing I miss is having our usual coleslaw with dinner.  Tom misses the homemade pizza.  I’m sure that within a day of arriving in Madeira we’ll be off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make both of these and more. 

Do I miss doing laundry?  I haven’t done laundry since last summer when we lived in Tuscany from June 16th to August 31st making it seven months since I’ve done a load of wash and hanging it outdoors. 

This is a laboratory which patients visit for various blood and medical tests.

Always a proud laundress acquiring good skills over the years in the careful handling of stains, white and delicates, I must admit I do kind of miss it.  I used to do laundry daily, taking a weird sense of pleasure in the feel of the warm clothes coming out of the dryer, the folding and putting it away. 

Now, all we do is put away our neatly folded clothing left on a cloth bench upstairs near the bedrooms, everything perfect and folded more neatly than I may have done in the past.

How do we feel to have people around us for over 10 hours a day?  Many days, we’re out for almost half a day.  When we don’t dine in, which is approximately every other day, they do the usual cleaning in the morning leaving by noon with the remainder of the day to spend as they choose. 

Many apartment buildings line the main roads.

As for days such as today, when they’re with us all day, we don’t mind at all.  Adil is in and out a few times each day. After cleaning, Madame and Oumaima spend most of their time in the kitchen preparing the food, occasionally resting in a little room off of the kitchen.  While we’re dining they stay in the kitchen closing off a curtain to the dining room providing us with privacy.

The sweet sound of Madame Zahra’s voice when we hear her talking on the phone or to the others, reminds us of Julia Child’s voice, high pitched and tender.  That sound will be etched in my mind forever, as truly music to my ears.

Tonight, dining in on this day of heavy rain, I just heard the front door close as Madame took off covered from head to toe to purchase the food for tonight’s dinner at the shops she and the locals use, assuring the freshest of products. 

Once we entered this small shopping area where we purchased our nuts and cheese, it reminded us of a Walmart store.  With many open nut stands appealing to tourists in the Big Square, it is tempting to purchase them there.  But after purchasing a small bag of pistachios, at US $18.42, MAD 150, which were unsalted, we prefer to purchase salted nuts for one third of the price at the grocery store. Also, with my recent illness, we are especially careful in not purchasing any food from open stands exposed to the elements, insects and possible unsanitary conditions. 

All of the local produce is organic, although not certified and the meat, grass fed from local farms. 

The chickens are particularly interesting, as is usual in true free range organic chickens…there’s lot less meat on them when they aren’t being fed grains and chemicals.  When I can clean off a leg bone in two bites I smile knowing this is good chicken.

The local farmers can’t afford to use all the chemicals used in US farming.  Recently, we discovered that 80% of the world’s pesticides are used in the US. Oh, I won’t get on this soapbox today but, perhaps another day.

It was surprising to see a familiar brand name store.

We’ve adjusted to their assistance and their presence, feeling grateful to have these kind, caring and special individuals tending to our needs.  It’s truly an experience we’ll always remember, adding to our repertoire of the unique episodes in our continuing journey to see the world.

It’s all good.

I tried to get a photo of all of the Seven Pillars that represent the original builders of the city of Marrakech.  In the fast moving traffic, this was all I could capture. 


Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2013:

We posted this photo of the beach in front of our home in Belize on the day there was a problem with the city water, leaving us without water for showering, flushing etc.  For the full story from that day, please click here.