Day #277 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…What a difference a day makes!…16 days and counting…

The intensity of the glow changed as the magma at the crater burst into many explosions.

Today’s photos were from this date in 2014 when we visited erupting Mount Kilauea with our kids and grandkids during their visit to join us on the Big Island, Hawaii, for the holidays. They were all so busy running around taking their photos, we never got a photo of all of us together that night, although we wish we had. For the story, please click here.

Last night, after a good night’s sleep, I felt much better, more upbeat, and positive. I certainly was feeling frustrated yesterday, especially while preparing the post, thinking of all of the mishaps on Christmas Day as described in detail here. I don’t believe I’ve ever whinged quite much in a position as I did in that post, not even on some of our most challenging days.

The trees impeded a portion of our views but ultimately gave us a better perspective of the glow.

Oddly, getting it “off my chest” here provided me with a modicum of relief that has followed me well into today, and I am fine once again, hopeful, optimistic, and my usual chipper self. It didn’t hurt to read that South Africa stated that the new supposed more lethal variance of Covid-19 is not an issue at this point.

It’s incredible how our emotions are impacted by poor sleep. We’ve particularly noticed this on long travel days when we may be flying in the middle of the night, resulting in a layover for several hours to board another long flight. Many of those travel days often resulted in 24 hours or more with little to no sleep.

The glow was in its full glory. What a sight to behold!

Neither of us can sleep sitting up on a flight, although we may be able to doze off in short spurts for an hour or two. In our youth, staying up all night wasn’t as tricky. A short nap the next day would put us back on track. But, as we’ve aged, we find those up-all-night scenarios have a significant impact on how we feel until, again, we can sleep through the night.

The most challenging lack of sleep experience we’ve had in our travels was on December 1, 2013 (see the post here), when we flew from Mombasa, Kenya to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger with one nightmarish situation after another. By the time we arrived in Marloth Park, we’d been traveling for over 30 hours.

The crowd roared with excitement as it exploded.

The level of exhaustion at the end of that trip was beyond anything either of us had ever experienced. But, arriving in Marloth Park after the hour-long ride from the airport to discover a plethora of wildlife wandering the bush and the dirt roads sent us into such a state of ecstasy, we forgot all about being tired.

I don’t expect our enthusiasm to be much different now. However, it may even be exacerbated by the fact that we were finally able to leave this confinement in Mumbai, India, after almost ten months, to be back in our “happy place.”

Preferring not to use any flash to avoid disturbing others, Tom was a little muted in this photo. 

Our scheduled flight with Emirates Airlines on January 12th from Mumbai to Johannesburg is still booked today. We’ll continue to watch each day for any potential changes. If there were to be any changes, we’re hoping to know before we head to the airport in the middle of the night. We’ll surely be keeping an eye out, several times a day, over the next 16 days.

We’re excited to share today’s repeated photos from our visit to the lava-flowing Mount Kilauea while our kids and grandkids visited us in Hawaii in 2014. What a fantastic experience for all of us! How many adults and kids have an opportunity in their entire lifetime to see lava flowing? It was an adventure.

Shortly before the sun went down, we were separated from the family and unable to get a group photo as we’d hoped. Instead, Tom took this of me and the telescope. 

As we reviewed past experiences in these months of repeated photos, we realized how extensive our travels have been and the myriad of past adventures we’ve had along the way. If by no fault of our own, we had to end this journey due to Covid-19 limitations, we comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we’ve been blessed to see more than we ever dreamed possible in a lifetime.

As Tom always says, “We are humbled and blessed.” So true. So very true.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2019:

This photo was posted on this date in 2014 and again, one year ago today, when our family visited Mount Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. This was my favorite shot of the evening with the backdrop of the glow of the lava. For more, please click here.

Day #245 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Golfing for travelers…

A manmade pond on the Kahili Golf Course in Maui, Hawaii, created a pretty scene.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Maui, Hawaii. Please see here for more details.

Neither of us ever took up the sport of golf, mainly because neither of us is very good at it. After a few tries over the years, each separately, the frustration factor was too much to overcome, nor did either of us have enough interest in the sport to take lessons.

In a way, when we began traveling the world, we were glad we had no interest in playing golf. Hauling clubs all over the world made little sense, considering how much we travel. The added costs for flying with two sets of golf clubs, plus fees and expenses, would have far surpassed our budget, requiring we sacrifice something more important to us, such as quality holiday homes, rental cars, and dining out.

The lush lawns at the Kahili Golf Club in Maui were similar to the gorgeous lawns at our condo in Maalaea Beach.

Many avid golfer travelers rent clubs as they travel, but that may have been for a few trips a year, not non-stop world travel. Nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed the beauty of many golf courses throughout the world and have either driven through them to revel in their carpet-like lawns and, at times, dine in the clubhouse.

In Princeville, Kauai, in 2015, where we lived for four months, we acquired a social membership to the Makai Golf Course, which allowed us access to the pool, fitness center, dining, and social activities. We certainly took advantage of that membership at US $250, INR 18,547, per month for the two of us. In reviewing their site, we couldn’t determine the cost of that same social membership now, particularly in light of COVID-19, when everything has changed.

A gazebo and footbridge on the course with the ocean at a distance.

It’s difficult to determine costs for any travel-related expenses at this time when so much has changed due to COVID-19. Still, in reviewing costs to travel with golf clubs, the added price will vary from airline to airline, depending upon their included and extra baggage fees. It could range from US $35, INR 2595, to US $150, INR 11122, per bag or more.

Adding the cost of greens fees, cart, taxes, tips, and beverages can easily be as much as US $1000, INR INR 74139 for two players at an upscale course, and 30% this amount at a modestly priced system. If we were golfers, hauling our bags with us, we’d feel committed to playing at each new location, spending thousands more each year.

We were tempted to try either of these buffets offered at the Kahili Golf Course. But, as usual, buffets in the US seem to provide less acceptable options for my way of eating.

No, doubt, for an avid golfer with ample funds allocated for the sport, golfing throughout the world would be quite an adventurous and fun experience, especially if done so as a couple, avoiding the necessity of finding others to play with at each location, who may not suit your level of play.

As mentioned in the above-posted link for today’s photos, we both were addicted to playing Wii Golf in our old lives, eventually resulting in what our family doctor referred to as “Wiinjuries,” injured incurred due to excessive play of the very fun video game, played on a flat-screen TV. Of course, this was nothing like playing “real” golf, but it certainly was fun until we both had to quit due to shoulder injuries acquired from playing this “small” version of golf.

Although there was a road warning of “crossing by the Nene birds (Hawaiian geese), only these Cattle Egrets ran back and forth across the road.

For those interested in traveling with their golf clubs, here are some tips from the PGA’s website here:

  • Try to get a non-stop flight, if possible. The fewer times baggage handlers need to move your clubs from plane to plane in a short amount of time, the better.
  • Get a durable, well-made travel bag. Hardshell bags are more expensive, and the best will run around $250. But Schmidt said they’ll give you more protection if you want that peace of mind.
  • If you use a soft-sided bag, don’t forget to pack a golf club protection device. It looks like an adjustable aluminum crutch that’s taller than your driver and keeps your shafts from being damaged in case the bag is dropped upside down.
  • Don’t forget that golf bags are considered “oversized check-in.” Be aware that some airports will send your golf bag through the regular baggage belt (with all of the other luggage), but others (such as Atlanta Hartsfield) will leave at a different location for oversized bags. If you don’t know where to find check-in or pick up at a particular airport, Schmidt said to make sure you ask someone as soon as you get there. And if you’re unsure about the cost or weight allowance, check with the airline or your travel agent.
  • Add some personal ID marking to your bag. Miller said adding some bright-colored string or a pom-pom will help you identify it quickly. Many bags have places for business cards as well. Don’t forget to include your cell phone number. If possible, include the name of the hotel where you’re staying.
This lush greenery outlined the entrance to the golf tunnel. What a beautiful way to mask an otherwise less appealing entry and exit!

PGA.COM COURSE FINDER: Locate a course near you by distance, price, or type

  • Don’t wind up with more luggage than you need. “Never travel with more bags than you can manage alone,” Miller said.
  • Think about a cab or car service (or ride to the airport). It drops you off closer to the gate than parking, which means a long haul at times with a large bag to roll.
  • Pack your clubs so they won’t move around in the travel bag. “If you’re going to Scotland or Ireland, it’s easy because you’re going to be throwing extra sweaters or a windbreaker in there to give it extra protection,” Schmidt said.
  • Tip: Use your travel bag for additional storage. “You can put gifts and other things you’re bringing back home in that golf bag,” Schmidt said.
  • Don’t leave your expensive electronics in your golf bag. Rangefinder? GPS? Treat it just like your computer – carry it on with you.
  • If you’re still leery of putting your equipment on a plane, do use a shipping service. “It’s not necessarily the most affordable way to transport them,” Schmidt said. “But if you want the peace of mind, they do a good job with that.”
    As we ended our visit to the golf course, one more panoramic view was in order.

Well, 245 days later, simply walking through or dining at a golf course would be delightful at this point in lockdown. Even if we could play Wii now, that would also be an excellent way to spend time in this hotel room.

At the moment, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Viking football game on his laptop. I didn’t care to see it since I accidentally stumbled (no pun intended).

Otherwise, all is fine. Another day…

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2019:

One year ago, I’d forgotten to take photos while visiting family in Minnesota on this date. Instead, I posted this photo from this same date in Maui in 2014, which we’ve highlighted above. For the story from one year ago, please click here.

Day #239 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Thanks for inquiring about our well-being…

The old Wailuku Courthouse, built-in 1907, is located on the US National Register of Historic Buildings.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2014 during our time spent in Maui on a day trip to the town of Wailuku, visiting several historic buildings and beaches. For more, please click here.

Over the past many months, we’ve had more inquiries and comments from readers than we’d had in the prior eight years. Many readers offer suggestions about future travel, borders opening, and how we can allay boredom under these unusual circumstances. We appreciate your input and suggestions.

A small percentage has suggested we’re too cautious about protecting ourselves from COVID-19 and that we should get out sightseeing, return to the US to “settle down,” along with many informing us as to borders opening throughout the world. We appreciate all of those comments, whether we agree or not.

Wailuku Union Church, built-in 1911.

We strive to be upfront and forthcoming with our responses. Yes, we fully understand there is a particular faction of people throughout the world that don’t “believe” COVID-19 is “real.” You certainly are entitled to those opinions. But, we choose to remain cautious, especially after my terrifying experience in having emergency open-heart surgery in South Africa in February 2019.

I am still dealing with the aftereffects of that surgery and will do so for years to come. I will never be the person I was before that. Subsequently, I may be more cautious than most, remembering what it was like to be intubated and spending nine days in ICU with a total of three weeks in the hospital with numerous complications. The experience is too fresh in my mind to take COVID-19 lightly, also in light of the fact I am high risk based on my age and commodities, including advanced coronary arterial disease.

Bailey House Maui.jpg
The Bailey House Museum is also listed on the US National Register of Historic Buildings.

In any case, we both work hard each day in an attempt to be healthy and avoid proximity to anyone who may have or be carrying the virus and, we plan to remain so going forward, wherever we may be.

I recently posted an ongoing problem with walking due to severe leg pain I’ve had since the surgery. Both of my legs were cut from ankle to thigh to harvest veins for heart surgery. Three of my heart’s arteries, including the Widow-Maker, were 100% blocked.

Weeks after returning from the hospital to recover at our holiday bush home in Marloth Park, both of my legs became seriously septic. I had to return to the hospital for two more surgeries on each leg resulting in what I thought was permanent pain in both legs.

Kaahumanu Church, another building on the US National Register of Historic Buildings

Months ago, when I began walking 10,000 steps a day in this hotel’s corridors, I struggled due to the pain, which after a few months only exacerbated from the inflammatory foods I was eating, with too many carbs. I stopped the spicy red sauces and opted for plain chicken and salmon, and still, I struggled. It was weeks later I realized I was still eating too many carbs and further cut my carb count, knowing that for me, excess carbohydrates increase inflammation.

Now, weeks later, I am thrilled to report the pain while walking is gone, gone, gone. Many of our concerned readers have written inquiring how this was going. Today, after a whole week of total relief, I feel confident to report I can walk without pain for the first time in 19 months. I’m over the moon with joy.

Also, as a surprising side benefit of reducing carbs further, my blood pressure has become so low, I had to cut my regular medication in half. Plus, my blood sugar is now normal for the first time in years. Wow! Who knew I’d reap these benefits in only three weeks. Based on our current circumstances in India and refusal to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, I’ve had no choice but to figure out what to do on my own through extensive research.

The rain stopped on the return drive to Maalaea Beach, and the sky cleared to this bright blue. No more than 10 minutes after we returned, we were outside enjoying the sun, sea, and surf for another fabulous day in the Hawaiian islands.

Once we are situated in Marloth Park, we’ll both make appointments with Dr. Theo for checkups. Please seek your medical professionals for any health issues you may be experiencing. None of our information is intended as medical advice in any manner.

Last night, we started streaming an excellent Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit, a mini-series, an excellent show! Today? At the moment, we’re listening to Garage Logic. When that ends, we’ll begin streaming yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings football game.

Have a healthy and safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, on November 17, 2019:

Seven years ago today, we booked the hotel with our cruise ending in Boston, with the intent of visiting my father’s gravesite and seeing family. This is my parent’s wedding photo we posted one year ago on this date. For more, please click here.

Day #234 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Good news!!!… Halfway, anyway!…

Although the hills block the sun’s setting, these beautiful skies give us a peek of what lurks behind the hills.

Today’s photos are from this date while staying in a condo overlooking Maalaea Beach, Maui, Hawaii, in 2014. For the story and more photos from this date, please click here.

While researching photos for today’s post, I experienced a hurdle. There was only one post on this particular date of November 12th in the past eight years that appealed to me. I knew at some point this would happen. With over 3000 past posts and repeats for the past eight months, it was inevitable I’d eventually run into such an obstacle.

Subsequently, today’s photos are no big deal. After all, there were only eight 12ths of November, with the first year, 2012, with no photos at all. So bear with us on today’s less-than-interesting photos. When living in certain parts of the world for extended periods, it’s not unusual for us to have days when we take no photos.

A new Coast Guard boat in the marina.

There are days when we choose to stay in. In anyone’s life, sightseeing isn’t always an important aspect of one’s daily life. In our old lives, we never went sightseeing unless we had out-of-town guests who were anxious for us to give them “the tour” of the highlights of our city.

Of course, our world lives usually travel (except for now) warrant us heading out to see what treasures we can discover as we tour the most recent location and take hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. At some point, we’ll repost many of the photos we’ve taken here in India while touring during our first six weeks before COVID-19 hit, and we had to curtail our activities.

Speaking of which, according to numerous news media reports, it appears that President Cyril Ramphosa of South Africa has agreed to reopen borders to travelers worldwide. See this article here. His comments include:

“By using rapid tests and strict monitoring, we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation,” he added. “We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

The president did not give further details or a specific date for the reopening. A presidency spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

After a six-month ban, South Africa opened its borders to some international travelers at the beginning of October, but the restricted entry from high-risk countries, with the latest list, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Brazil, and India.”

Beautiful colors at dusk at the lava rock breakwaters.

Yeah! Well, almost yeah. India has yet to open up international flights in order for us to be able to fly to South Africa. But now we feel more hopeful. We wait for the airlines to start booking flights from Mumbai to Johannesburg and then to the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger, a one-hour drive to Marloth Park.

We’ve had zillions of readers contacting us via email, comments, and Facebook, letting us know about this news. We thank every one of you for letting us know. However, during the night, when I suddenly awoke and couldn’t go back to sleep right away, a news notification popped up on my phone with the story. I couldn’t wait to tell Tom but didn’t want to awaken him.

Note how the colors of these flowers progress to brighter pink at the top. This is a variety of Aloe Vera.

The first moment I felt him moving around this morning, I excitedly shared the news. Now, we both feel hopeful and can more easily wait out the time for India to resume international flights. How exciting this is! Of course, the reality remains that we can only spend 90 days in the country without leaving to return for a new visa stamp. We have been prepared for this all along.

Ninety days is not enough time for us to spend there. But, we have several options as to which countries we can visit to do this and return. Doing so requires a stay in a country that doesn’t border South Africa. We’ll figure that out later. Right now, we are reveling in our enthusiasm and newly found hopefulness.

It’s the same challenge with these unusual fruits, which we could not identify after searching through hundreds of photos.

Today? We’ll be walking, smiling, binge-watching, eating the same food as the previous days, walking, smiling, and repeating.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2019:

While out to dinner with my son Greg’s family, my cioppino (fish stew) at Stella’s Fish House was delicious. For more, please click here.

Day #223 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Flowers in Hawaii…A bad dining experience…

Plumeria is often used in making leis in Hawaii.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Maalaea Beach, Maui, Hawaii, where we celebrated our second word travel anniversary at an Italian restaurant, sorely disappointed over the meal. See the link here.

No, I won’t get into the disappointment we felt over our second travel anniversary dinner in an Italian restaurant. Feel free to read the details in the link as mentioned above. In actuality, we’ve forgotten all about it, probably a few days after the event. Dining in TripAdvisor-recommended restaurants worldwide is no guarantee the food will meet any diner’s particular needs like ours; me, with my dietary restrictions, and Tom, with his picky taste buds.

Kimi Pink Ginger.

The bottom line, if I can get a decent-sized serving of some animal protein, fish, or seafood along with a few vegetables, and if Tom can get beef, pork, or chicken with some potatoes or white rice, you’d think this would be a straightforward bill to fill. You’d be surprised how difficult this is to accomplish in many restaurants we’ve visited throughout the world.

Overall, we’ve had good to excellent experiences. Now and then, we’ve been disappointed, most often by the small portion of my protein, often only four ounces, .11 kg, simply not enough when I only eat once or twice a day. With prices so high at most locations, it makes no sense to place a double order when I can’t eat most of the accompanying side dishes.

I searched through no less than 500 photos of Hawaiian flowers, unable to find some of the names of those we’ve shown here today.

Instead, I’ll often eat Tom’s vegetables, and I’ll give him my potatoes. When we return to our holiday home, I can always have a piece of cheese to tide me over until the next day. Most often, as we all know, “eat a small amount and 20-minutes later, you may be comfortably full.” This is often true.

We enjoy seeing a hearty portion on our plates when we prepare our meals. I often refer to us as “piglets.” However, when cooking low carb/keto meals, we can enjoy a portion sufficient to fill us to satiety, keeping in mind, we may only eat once or twice a day and generally don’t snack unless we haven’t had breakfast. In those cases, by 3:00 pm, we both may have a piece of cheese to hold us over until dinner. We rarely eat anything after dinner.

A wilted variety of Plumeria, perhaps.

We tilt our heads in wonder when we’ve been on cruises, observing most other passengers eating breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, drinks, and dessert. We would blow up like balloons if we ate so much food. Based on stats, the average cruise passenger gains 1 pound, .45 kg a day.

After 27 cruises the past eight years, we’d have a big problem on our hands if we’d gained on all these cruises, much more than the challenge we’re facing now, dropping enough weight to fit in the clothes in our luggage. I had the flexibility of different-sized clothes in the attic to accommodate an occasional weight gain or loss in my old life.

This must have been pretty before it began to fade away.

But that’s not the case now. We’d better fit in those jeans when we leave here, whenever that may go. I haven’t fit in those jeans since August 2019 after gaining back all the weight I’d lost from the open-heart surgery (in February 2019) when the drugs I was on made me sleepy, lethargic, and hungry all the time.

This becomes particularly important when I recall checking out a few women’s clothing stores in Komatipoort, near Marloth Park. They either had large sizes or tiny, tiny, short-length jeans suitable for whom. I couldn’t figure it out. With my height and overly long legs, I can only wear jeans in the US.

More Plumeria.

Since we won’t be ordering any clothing from the US to be shipped to us in the future, I’d better fit into the items I have on hand now after our recent package fiasco. I have two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts that almost worked. Tom’s elastic waist shorts fit, but his jeans are still tight. By the time we leave here, we both should fit into the clothing in our bags.

Tom, too, is losing weight along with me, now that he only eats a big breakfast and no dinner, having given up the chicken pasta and roasted potatoes. I am eating a small breakfast of one boiled egg and one slice of bacon, and dinner is a good-sized chicken burger patty, topped with Emmental cheese, an egg, and bacon with mustard on the side. This is working for both of us right now.

Maui goose.

Sorry to so frequently mention food in our posts. Every time I write about food, my mouth waters, not so much as a result of trying to lose weight, but from missing out on many items, we’d love to savor, which aren’t available here. It’s hard not to think about it during these peculiar circumstances.

Have a tasty day, enjoying something you love!

Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2019:

Clouds over the skyline in New York as we reached the USA. For more photos, please click here.

Day #213 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Gentle musings on the simple things…

Tom’s gluten-free, low carb, starch, and sugar-free pizza with fresh mushrooms, green olives, onions, and Italian sausage, topped with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. This will last for three delicious nights. We never mind repeated dinners for three nights in a row. The crust is made with grated cheese and one egg. He’ll be drooling over this photo today.

Today’s food photos are from the post on this date in 2014 after grocery shopping in Maui, Hawaii. For more from this date, please click here.

When I checked out Kenya photos from this date in 2013, there were few photos worthy of posting today. Instead, I jumped forward to 2014 on this date, once again, while we were spending six weeks on the blissful island of Maui. We’d been out grocery shopping and were pleasantly surprised over our purchases in the nearby town of Kihei.

My pizza is made with free-range chicken sausage, anchovies, onions, olives, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, organic zucchini, eggplant with mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. This crust is also made with cheese and egg and is low carb and gluten, sugar, and starch-free. Love it!

Ironically, for the first time in almost two years since the onset of our travels, I drove the rental car, finding my way to the Safeway supermarket, a 20 minute drive from our condo, and the largest market we’d seen in so long. It felt great to be driving again after so long.

Yesterday, Tom and I were chuckling over this time in Mumbai as the longest period he’s gone as an adult without driving a car. Continuing in our world travels, there were plenty of times I didn’t drive for extended periods when I don’t feel comfortable driving a manual transmission with the stick on the left side. My left hand is useless.

As I entered the store, my eyes darted everywhere in awe of all of the “stuff” for sale.

On top of that, I don’t possess the ability to retrain myself to drive while managing the stick shift, while on the opposite side of the road from which I learned in the US at 16 years old. I suppose it’s a lack of coordination. Under familiar circumstances, I know how to drive a stick shift. At one point, as an adult, I purchased a vehicle with manual transmission.

Upon returning to the condo, I used the Ziploc bags to individually wrap each of the three steaks which Tom will eat while I’ll have the rack of lamb.

Well, anyway, that day in Maui, I was thrilled to once again be driving and totally loved the time I could spend meandering around the huge supermarket with nary a thought of how slow I was going, inspecting countless products along the way. Most often, Tom had been with me while grocery shopping, and although I enjoyed his participation, I loved it when he waited in the car reading a book on his phone.

Having not purchased meat at this store on our visit the prior week, I was pleased to see the prices on meats were no more than we paid in our old lives.

If and when we return to Africa, I’ll be in this same spot with most rental cars having manual transmissions and all driving in the left lane as opposed to the familiar right lane. Tom will drive me everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, he gets tired of being my chauffeur, but he freely acknowledges that I am a terrible driver even with an automatic transmission and driving in the right lane, as in the US. Hey, we all have our flaws and I certainly have my fair share.

I’d purchased this 3.32-pound package of three New York Steaks for $26.93 at $8.98 a serving. That was an excellent price!

So, shopping in Maui during those six blissful weeks was a treat for me. If I wanted to peruse the other shops in the strip mall, before grocery shopping I could easily do so. If I wanted to read the labels on every product I could do so at my leisure. If I wanted to stop and chat with another customer or staff member, nothing held me back. It was indescribable fun.

Ziploc freezer bags in the half gallon size surprised me at only $4.49.

Wow! At this point, this sounds to me like a trip to Disneyland for a kid. It’s not surprising that the simplest tasks I may have taken for granted in the past now rise to the forefront as absolutely desirable and delightful. Then again, I think of how fun it will be to be sitting with good friends in Africa, sipping on a glass of red wine, enjoying the sounds of nature, the consistent flow of “visitors” and I literally swoon.

I cut this free-range Rack of Lamb into three portions which I’ll have when Tom has the above steaks. At $20.15 for the entire package, it is $6.72 per serving. We’ll cook the lamb and the steaks on the outdoor grill that overlooks the ocean, which we’re anxious to use.

I’ve kept asking myself what we’ll learn from being in this hotel, possibly for one year, (now at seven months), and perhaps it will be as simple as the heart-pounding enthusiasm I’m feeling putting these thoughts to “paper.” During these peculiar circumstances, it’s imperative to glom onto hope, knowing full-well at some point in the future, these memories won’t be so far removed from current-day reality.

The gorgeous Maui scenery on the return drive to Maalaea Beach.

Hum, I think I’ll feel equally enthused to machine wash our clothes, eat some of the above-shown pizza, smell the fresh air, set the table, see a sunset, and of course, spend time with humans and animals. No doubt, we’re grateful we’re safe and, we’re equally grateful knowing at some point, this will all change.

This receipt is not easy to read resulting in my listing the items above for details and clarification.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2019:

Friends Linda and Ken with us in front of the Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

Day #195 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More on Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii…Island hopping?…

When the trolley in Hilo stopped to pick up passengers in a strip mall, we spotted this orchid.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while on a cruise port of call in Hilo, The Big Island. For more on this date, please click here.

Gosh, it would be great to be in Hawaii right now. As one of the 50 states in the US, we could fly there and stay without any visa concerns while we wait out the virus. But as mentioned in a post a few days ago, the numerous flights with added exposure to COVID-19, the long-distance, and the cost of living is such that it doesn’t work for us right now.

Gazebo at the park in Hilo.

Instead, today, we revel in some of our past experiences in the Hawaiian Islands, which in my old life, before Tom, I’d visited the islands on many occasions. But, as often the case, 30 years later, everything looked very different, although each of the islands was still charming and appealing to tourists.

The designer shops, the upscale restaurants interspersed with popular chain retail shops, and cozy oceanfront restaurants made these towns in Hawaii a shopper’s paradise for all ranges of tourists, providing expansive views of the sea with a quaint and delightful environment.

Pretty scenery at Liliuokalani Gardens.

Although we don’t shop much, it was fun to wander the areas, do window shopping, and search for photo ops, some of which are shown in today’s post. While there that day, we walked the surrounding area, knowing that we’d be returning to stay for six weeks within a short period.

During that stay, we returned to Hilo on the Big Island, and we scoured the entertaining areas, dined in restaurants, and explored the varied shops. More on that in a later reminiscence post. Hawaii is unlike any other island we’ve visited in any other part of the world. There is very little apparent poverty. Structures are well maintained. The streets are impeccably clean and uncluttered. The infrastructure is sound.

Sky at dusk in Hilo.

Although the opposite of those particular facts is often what has made “island-hopping” exciting and exciting for us, the run-down cafes, bars, and shops; the “lean-to” shops and produce stands; the colorfully dressed locals selling their handmade crafts for a song; all contribute to the exquisite appeal of many places we’ve lived throughout the world.

An example of this is the three months we spent on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji in 2015 in the small village of Savusavu, a breathtaking experience. We may have been two of a dozen Caucasians in the village, and for that fact, we stood out. But, we were treated with the utmost kindness and welcome, often being hugged openly by people we’d just met. Helen, the meat market owner, hugged us each Friday as we left her store carrying bags of free-range chicken and grass-fed beef and pork.

We took the trolley in Hilo, enabling us to get some good shots along the shoreline.

Hawaii, although friendly, possesses an entirely different demeanor than other islands throughout the world, and we enjoyed them both, along with other islands more like Vanua Levu, Fiji as a more exotic island offering more appeal for our taste while traveling the world.

Speaking of islands, right now, there are a select few flights from Mumbai to the Maldives. The visa restrictions allow only a 30 day stay. With their outrageously high prices, this isn’t an ideal scenario for us, as much as we’d enjoy going there. According to the US State Department, the country is not requiring many precautions with COVID-19. If a tourist were to become ill there, this island nation’s medical facilities are marginal at best.

Shoreline in Hilo.

We don’t mean to sound so picky, but it’s our lives we’re playing with. As safe as we are here, although it’s not easy, we feel we must choose our following location with sensibility and caution when opportunities present themselves. South Africa, Namibia, and Madagascar are but a few African countries we’d prefer to visit, if and when it’s possible. Their borders remain closed to US citizens and anyone from India, a double whammy for us. We wait.

No word on our package yet, especially since it’s Sunday, and FedEx is closed today. Maybe by tomorrow, the front desk manager will have discovered a means of paying the customs fee and receiving the package. We shall see.

We hope your day is pleasant and relaxing. I’m still working on finishing all of our tasks, so we can sit back and relax a little too.

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

Farmer John was showing us the old apple press, which they still use today. “An apple press makes the whole process fun and simple. The press essentially grinds up the apples into a pulp and then presses the juices out. Once you get going, the liquid gold keeps flowing. You go from press to glass in 30 seconds! The process may not be as quick using this old equipment. There are many presses from the simple hand press to the traditional cider press with a grinder.” Tor more photos, please click here.

Day #193 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hawaii, almost seven years ago…

Here we are at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii, in 2014. Sam, our friendly taxi driver, took the photo.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, describing a port of call at Hilo, Hawaii, the Big Island, while on a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands. For more on this date, please click here.

One may wonder why, in 2014, we chose to embark on a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands, when in fact, we’d be staying on four islands for a total of seven months. We’d always been curious about the 9-night Hawaiian Islands cruise which sailed from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Honolulu, Oahu.

The scenery along the shores of this river in Hilo is lovely.

The decision proved worthwhile when we had an opportunity to see a few ports of call we wouldn’t necessarily visit while staying in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. We spent the first 13-nights staying in Waikiki Beach in a condo, one of few holiday homes we didn’t enjoy. The photos on Homeaway looked good, but the tiny, expensive suite was dated, worn, and overall uncomfortable.

An enchanting footbridge in the gardens.

Another lesson was learned at that time…avoid taking property at face value, based only on its photos with only a few good reviews. We’d faltered in that area when we booked our first holiday home in Placencia, Belize, in early 2013, moving out a week later due to many inequities and issues with the property, undisclosed by the owners. We’d lost the rent money and didn’t feel like taking legal action right at the beginning of our journey.

We entered the Port of Hilo, Hawaii.

As time passed, we became more and more particular. Fortunately, the holiday homes on the other three islands were excellent and, as stated in the online listings. With our kids and grandchildren coming for the holidays to the Big Island for Christmas, we were satisfied we’d made decent choices for the two houses we rented, next door to one another, with room for all of us.

The park was lovely.

But, today’s photos are only from that one-day port-of-call on The Big Island to the oceanfront city of Hilo, a modern metropolis of typical US demeanor; lots of malls, restaurants, tourist traps, hotels, and shops lining the boulevards. In our travels, our goal has always been to stay away from busy, crowded cities, but at times, this was impossible to avoid.

The last time we went to a Walmart, a store we never visited in our old lives, was in Mexico on January 6, 2013, when we got off the ship, the Celebrity Century, to purchase our first camera. Here’s Tom in front of the Hilo, Hawaii Walmart.

That day in Hilo, we accidentally got on the wrong bus (very much unlike us to make such an error), ending up at a Walmart store. We took advantage of the fact we needed some items, making a few purchases. Not usually Walmart customers, we found the prices to be good for Hawaii where most things are overpriced.

After our short shopping spree, we decided to take a taxi back to the ship but instead landed a great taxi driver in the Walmart parking lot, who took us on a tour of some of the highlights in Hilo. It proved to be a good decision when we enjoyed our unplanned time, as shown in today’s photos.

Leis for sale in a refrigerated case at the Walmart store.

Later on, staying on the Big Island with our family, we visited Hilo a few more times, mainly for food shopping for our big group at the two houses and a trip to the big mall with one of our daughters-in-law. How the time has flown! Gosh, that seems as if it was a long time ago when it was almost six years ago.

Today, I had a late start working on the post and found myself a little distracted. I spent the entire morning, after oversleeping to 9:00 am, going back and forth with our accountant in Nevada, working on our taxes for 2019, for which we’d filed an extension. When we were first in lockdown in this hotel, I didn’t have to gather the tax information to send to our accountant, so we asked him to file an extension. The filing is due on October 15, and now, thank goodness, we’re done.

Our ship is behind the Pacific Princess in the foreground.

On top of that, I am still working with our web developers on problems with some, not all, of our readers signing up to receive our daily posts but not receiving them. We’re working on a solution to figure out why. If this has happened to you, please check your spam folder and accept our incoming posts. Also, you will be sent a confirmation email which you must accept to receive the posts.

Please let me know if you aren’t receiving the emails within a week while we figure out the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Have a great day. Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2019:

After considerable guidance, they guided the sheep to the barn on the farm in Devon, England. He was a competent shepherd. For more photos, please click here.

Day #192 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Is Hawaii an option for us?….

This bleeding heart so well depicts Hawaii’s gorgeous colors.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were in Honolulu, Hawaii. For more on this date, please click here.

Today, several flights have opened up that will be allowed to fly out of India. They include; Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, and Bahrain. None of these options are appealing to us for the following reasons:

  1. Singapore: We’ve been there twice, staying for a week the second time. Singapore is a clean and safe country but offers no countryside and is all cement with tall buildings, although with many added trees and flowers. We saw what we wanted to see there, and based on the population and crowded venues, we’d have no interest in returning.
  2. Malaysia: We’ve been there in the past. Very pretty in some areas. Very crowded. Low incidence of COVID-19. But, Malaysia doesn’t appeal to us at this time.
  3. Dubai: We spent two weeks in Dubai in 2013, living in a high-rise condo complex and visiting most tourist hot spots. Lots of cement, high-rise buildings, and no countryside. It was not appealing to us for a return.
  4. Bahrain: We’ve never been there but aren’t interested in visiting the Middle East at this time.
Wow! The greenery and flowers in Hawaii amazed us as we walked the streets of Honolulu taking these photos.

Also, yesterday, a newly published document from South Africa has banned travelers from India and the US, a double whammy for us. Also, there are no flights out of India to Africa at this time. Otherwise, we’d visit other African countries and wait to enter South Africa.

We continue to receive thoughtful email messages from our readers stating they’ve read about the countries we may be able to visit that have opened their borders. However, we’re out of luck if India, particularly Mumbai, doesn’t offer flights to those countries. The international airport is still officially closed in India. As of now, there’s no discussion as to when it will re-open.

Many exquisite flowers bloom year-round in Hawaii.

If, at some point, we get tired of waiting, we’ll always have the option to return to the US. But, until there’s a viable vaccine or the numbers of cases drop considerably, we feel safer staying in the safety bubble of this hotel. If something comes up, we’d be ready to leave in 24 hours, although most countries require a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival to enter.

In that case, the hotel driver will take us to a drive-up testing center, and we’ll receive our results by email the same day. Now, we await our package from FedEx before we can consider leaving, regardless of possible flights becoming available.

We seldom find orange flowers, but in Hawaii, flowers are prevalent.

We’ve considered the possibility of returning to the US to stay in Kauai, Hawaii, until the virus issues settle down. Overall, Hawaii has had a low incidence of COVID-19. As US citizens, we wouldn’t have to worry about visa restrictions. However, we’d need to get health insurance for me which would be very costly since I never signed up for Part B Medicare, and to do so now would be more expensive than if we’d signed up seven years ago. There’s a penalty for not signing up at 65 years of age. Go figure.

Also, groceries and dining out are expensive in Hawaii, as well as rental cars. At the moment, we’re living here for approximately 40% less than it would be in Hawaii. In Hawaii, vacation home rentals usually result in taxes and fees of an additional US $1000, INR 73417, per month over and above the rental rates.

Tom is thrilled to be in Hawaii.

If we wait to travel to Africa, we can live there for approximately 20% less than we’re paying in this hotel in India with meals. At this point, we’re living well below our budgeted amount. Hawaii would exceed our budget. So, as appealing as this idea is, we have to shelve it.

I can’t recall seeing yellow hibiscus.

In other states in the US, holiday home rentals are very high, especially in warmer climates. We’re not interested in staying in a tiny condo in a snowy, icy location at this point. Few US states have warm weather in the winter months, at least none of which appeals to us right now. Plus, the lockdown and amount of COVID-19 in many states are also off-putting. We don’t want to trade this weird situation for another, not much better.


Instead, we’ll continue to wait, dealing with our mountains of “paperwork,” website-related tasks, finalizing our taxes with our accountant in Nevada. And of course, dealing with FedEx on the still-undelivered-package from the USA. Nonetheless, we’re grateful for what we do have right now, as opposed to what we don’t. We’re safe, cool, partially entertained, fed with no housework. Plus, we have each other. That’s a huge benefit!

Stay well.

Photos from one year ago today, October 1, 2019:

One year ago, we posted photos from 2015 while we were In Fiji. While there, we stopped on the road to take photos of the sea, but my eyes caught something moving at a distance. Getting out of the car where there was no fence to keep these piglets contained, we squealed with delight, as did this little white piglet who seemed happy to see us. For more photos, please click here.

Disputing charges due to Covid-19…Trouble with new booking in times of Covid-19…

Cape buffalo grazing on the Crocodile River as seen from the fence in Marloth Park

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
Today’s photos are from May 16, 2015. Please click here for more details.

As mentioned in prior posts, on March 20, 2020, when we arrived at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 3:00 am, after waiting in line for over an hour to check our bags and check-in, we were refused an opportunity to board the scheduled flight.

South Africa, our destination, was in the process of closing its borders and began refusing all incoming international flights due to Covid-19. Had we left a few days earlier, we could have been allowed to fly and could have made our way to Marloth Park when the country-wide lockdown didn’t begin until March 27th. Here’s the link with the story about South Africa’s lockdown.

The chicks were born in early February and will fledge in the next month or so. It’s been amazing to watch their fluff fall away as their feathers suitable for flying grow in.

We could kick ourselves for not leaving a few days earlier when we’d already ended our tour of India due to the risks of large crowds at various sightseeing venues. But, who knew? We had no idea how the worldwide lockdown would escalate at that point.

We’d booked the flight with Kenya Air at a ticket price for each of us at INR 32627, US $430 for a total of INR 65254, US $860. We considered this a reasonable fare for the one-way flight that would require almost 16 hours of travel time including layovers for the three legs of the flight.

An un-banded Albatross out for a walk. Its impossible to determine the albatross’ gender without a DNA test. There are no obvious markings or physical definitions. Since both parents equally share in sitting on the nest and the care and feeding of the chick, perhaps nature has made them visibly indistinguishable. 

Once we returned to our hotel, the shock left us reeling for a few days. After being turned away, we figured it made sense to wait a few days before applying for a refund with all the cancellations.

As it turned out, we didn’t apply for a refund until several days later once we were situated in this current hotel knowing full well, it would be a time-consuming process.

We began the process by contacting Kenya Airways directly for the credit. This resulted in no less than 12 hours on hold over a period of several days. Finally, we reached a human who instructed us to apply online at their site. Immediately, we used. 

All of the chicks now have both fluffy and new feathers, as shown in this napping chick.

Several weeks later, we received an email stating that they would not process a refund. We were required to seek a refund from where we’d originally booked the flight.
The lengthy process at Expedia commenced; hours on hold; chat modules with no results until finally, Expedia sent us a message stating we’d have to get our refund from Kenya Airways. How’s that for shuffling us back and forth.

Our only option, at that point, was to contact the credit card we’d used to dispute the charges. There was no “live” chat module or option to send an email for a dispute… only a phone call would be accepting.

This banded albatross appeared to be a parent when she or he was hovering near a chick.

Again, I spent hours online, only to discover they were closed during the daytime hours during which we could call with the huge time difference. Usually, the number on the back of the card is a 24-hour phone number. But, again, due to Covid-19, they too, were operating with a limited staff.

There hadn’t been a single evening that I felt like spending an hour on the phone working this out. Once, in the past, about a year ago, we disputed a charge with Ethiopia Airlines to get a refund when they, not us, canceled a flight. The credit card company took care of it for us but it still required considerable time on hold.

This morning, much to my delight, I was only on hold for 10-minutes and, they had staff working at night, their time. A pleasant woman came on the line who was more than happy to assist after I explained the circumstances.

This chick has been a favorite of ours, with their nest reasonably close to the road and her/him often checking out the scenery.

The end result? In a few days, we’ll see the full refund on that specific card while they continue to work on it over the next 90-days, during which they may contact us to forward the supporting email messages if they run into any problems. In a few clicks, I’ll send the relevant messages without thinking twice.

With this resolution, we’ll have finally received all the refunds for any future travel plans impacted by Covid-19. Subsequently, we have some credits on credit cards, as opposed to debits, which we can use to pay for this past 28-nights in this hotel, plus our meals, when we’re required to pay on May 20th.

Here are two chicks approximately six feet apart although they look closer in this photo. Here again, they are tucked away napping during the wind and rain.  The parents lay one egg and thus these two are not related or, perhaps, they are.

Hotels are often paid after the stay, although some may require full payment in advance during the booking process. That hasn’t been the case here at this Courtyard Mumbai International Airport. They let us pay-as-we-go every 28 days.

When there was a problem with the site, a phone rep was able to get our reservation booked for the first part of our hotel reservation extension from May 20 to June 1, 2020, but not the second portion due to issues on their site.

There is a promotion for double points that we’re trying to take advantage of for the second part of our stay from June 1 to June 17, 2020, which is only applicable for bookings made after June 1, 2020, resulting in our preference to break up the two bookings for a combined 28-night stay into two segments.

By the time we left the area, the sun was shining and we spotted this typical lawn mowing scenario…Cattle Egret hovering near the mower hoping for morsels the process may unsettle. This always makes us laugh. For this story, please click here.

Now, the second part of our booking won’t process. Their tech department will contact us with a resolution in the next few days and hopefully, we’ll be able to get these other dates with the extra points booked.

There go another 90 minutes of my life while in lockdown spent on the phone in a state of utter frustration during these times of Covid-19. Everything is different now.

That’s it for today, folks. Stay safe.

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

John, the fish guy with Tom. John will stop by once a week. The prior night I had fresh-caught haddock without a single bone topped with the freshest crabmeat. For more from this date, please click here.