Our last post for a week or more…

Ironically, we arrived in South Africa one year ago today. It’s been a fantastic year, and we’re both grateful for the incredible experiences we’ve had in the bush. Now, let’s see if South Africa can deliver me good health!

This will be the first time since March 2012 that we’ll have been incommunicado on this blog for a week or longer. However, we’re so looking forward to sharing the good news that my recovery process is in place and all is well after tomorrow’s triple coronary bypass surgery.

Tom will be posting notices on Facebook that are open to the public, so feel free to check there if you’d like. It’s easy to find my name with a few clicks. 

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we decided to leave Marloth Park to come to Nelspruit one day earlier than planned. The water and power outages weren’t something either of us felt like dealing with, especially in the hot weather.

As it turned out, the power was out all last night. That would have been one harrowing night. We are glad we left. We spent the night at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa, a few minutes from the hospital, giving us peace of mind for being so conveniently located.

Today, at noon, I’ll check into the hospital for the prep required for this type of surgery which includes x-rays (for placement of the heart), blood tests (as a baseline), and a litany of other pre-op procedures you can well imagine.

This morning we headed to a Vodacom store to purchase a SIM card for Tom’s phone. During this past year in South Africa, we never needed to call one another since we were always together, making the SIM in my phone sufficient. 

But, now, with him living at the hotel and me in the hospital, we’ll need to be able to phone and text one another, although he’ll be with me most of the time. Once I’m out of ICU, he’ll bring dinner some nights since I’m confident the hospital food won’t fit my way of eating. 

When I stayed overnight in the hospital last week after the angiogram, after not having a morsel of food all day, they brought me one chicken leg and a cup of plain spinach, not quite enough nourishment for this patient. We’ll see how that goes.

Now, the waiting game is on regarding the insurance company coming up with the money on time. With a two-hour time difference between here and the UK, they may only be getting into their offices now and, it takes a few hours to process the funds. I won’t be admitted in time for the noon pre-op until after the insurance provides the funds. We wait.

And so, dear readers, I wrap this up now again, thanking all of you wonderful people for your thoughtful and kind well wishes and prayers. Please keep an eye out for a post in about seven days or, if I’m healing quickly, perhaps even sooner.

Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2018:
Due to a poor wifi signal, I’m unable to add the year ago photo. Take care…

No water in Marloth Park…Electricity teetering…The insurance challenges…

Due to problems with the electricity supply from the provider, Eskom, the water processing plant in Marloth Park cannot function. They are working on a solution, but it could be days. Also, we may lose electricity as well over the next few hours.

Today is a scorcher, well into the 37C (99F) range, with high humidity, and tonight could be another one of those impossible-to-sleep nights without any relief by taking a shower without the water supply. TIA (this is Africa). It’s the way it goes.

I won’t say, “thank goodness,” we’re leaving here tomorrow at 9:00 am for the hospital for triple bypass surgery. That’s not exactly how we feel. Fortunately, we were able to take quick showers this morning using some of the remaining water in the tank. Thank goodness that yesterday, I’d done all the laundry for items to bring to the hospital along with clothes for Tom for the week or more ahead.

As I was writing the above few paragraphs the power went out and came back on. About an hour later. Subsequently, with no water and most likely no power, we decided to spend the night in Nelspruit instead of heading out tomorrow morning.

Now, back at the lovely Leaves Lodge and Spa, who kindly provided us with a discount for the long-term stay, we have power, water, and good aircon. We’re set for the night. Tomorrow, we have to check into the hospital by noon to begin the prep for Tuesday’s surgery.

Somehow, I feel better being in Nelspruit three minutes from the hospital. Now that I know that three of the four main arteries to my heart are 100% blocked, there’s a smidgen more peace of mind until tomorrow. Plus, I’m on medication to prevent a heart attack and, I have an ample supply of nitroglycerin in case of an emergency. Wow! Who knew?

Now aware of my situation, it makes all the sense in the world to me. In the mornings, when I’d shower and dress for the day, I found myself feeling tired from these simple tasks. At times, merely walking to the laundry room with an armful of dirty laundry made every step feel as if it were a chore. 

When we had dinner parties, I found myself wondering how my energy would hold up with all the cooking, prep, and serving required for such an event. Now I know, and yes, I am grateful but a little terrified. This is a big surgery, and I’m not any stronger, braver, or tougher than the rest of us.

As for the insurance…on the day of the angiogram, at the cost of ZAR 80,000 (US $5871), the insurance company turned us down, claiming I had an undisclosed pre-existing condition which was not the case. 

At the time we applied for the insurance over six years ago, I provided our 20-year family physician’s contact information and copies of our medical records as requested, including the three prescription medications I was taking (Tom takes no medication), one of which is a low dose hypertensive mediation.

The rep at the Nelspruit Mediclinic worked very hard with the insurance company and the doctor to no avail. They wouldn’t approve the claim before the procedure. As per the hospital requirement, payment must be made in advance of treatment with or without insurance company approval. 

We paid out of pocket using our debit card since we wanted to avoid using regular credit cards.  We use credit cards to pay for all living expenses and future travel costs. We didn’t want to put such a hefty charge onto any of our cards.

Once we paid, we began the six-hour wait for our turn for the angiogram. When the doctor discovered the magnitude of the blockages, he knew he couldn’t do any stents. The only option was triple bypass surgery. 

I stayed in the hospital overnight, and in the morning before we left the hospital, we met with the wonderful billing rep Trudy to see how much the bypass surgery would cost and, ultimately, how much money we’d have to come up with.

The estimated cost for the surgery was ZAR 700,000 (US $51,370), including some but not all of the doctor’s fees. (We see how that rolls out).  With the rejection of the angiogram, we certainly didn’t think they considered this added cost, and again, we were declined.

Our only option was to liquidate assets immediately to ensure we’d have the funds in place by Tuesday morning. The financial institution has a three business day turnaround in releasing funds. 

We called and spoke to the rep and, for the first time in our lives, stated, “This is a life-threatening emergency. We need the funds to be available immediately.” By midnight Friday, the money was in our account. Meanwhile, Friday night, Kathy and Don had invited us to dinner at their lovely river view home in Marloth Park with friends Linda and Ken also in attendance. 

Before we left the house, I decided to call the insurance company one more time and write a letter I’d consider one of my better uses of the English language.

At this point, we were on pins and needles waiting for the money to come through in time, but we had a good evening together with our dear friends while they all fussed over me, more than I’d ever imagined possible. 

Toward the end of the evening, I checked my phone as I had several times, and there it was…the insurance company instructed me to log into our account to find a letter waiting for us…they approved the bypass surgery! They included a claim form for which we could file for reimbursement for the angiogram.

Sharing this news with our friends as we sat around a bonfire in their garden only added to our sense of relief. Last night, the six of us went to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner, and once again, it was a celebratory occasion in support of my upcoming surgery on Tuesday. 

They presented me with gifts, hugs, and kisses, as did Dawn and Leon, owners of our favorite restaurant, who provided a bottle of champagne and Amarula shots. I enjoyed a glass of champagne while the others tossed down the sweet shot.

Again, this morning before we headed to Nelspruit, Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken stopped by to offer more support and love. How did I ever get so lucky? Coupled with Tom’s love and attention and zillions of comments and email messages from our readers, family members, and friends, I couldn’t feel more loved.

May these warm wishes and prayers result in a positive outcome, and I will be the happiest and most grateful person on the planet. The pain and discomfort afterward will pale in comparison to my joy.

Thank you, everyone… thank you with all of my heart!

Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2018:

After all the whale watching trips we’d done on tours these past years, to see plenty in Antarctica was a dream come true finally. For more photos, please click here.

The medical saga continues…The news isn’t so good…

Ms. Kudu, Willie and Mike, and Joe.
Willie and warthogs, all getting along.
Wildebeest Willie, he’s quite a guy!
Willie, six kudus, and a few pigs stopped by last night.
Basket stopped by last night.  His right ear has healed but is mostly gone. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”


It’s almost 2130 hours, 9:30 pm, Wednesday night, and we’re back in Nelspruit at the Leaves Lodge & Spa. The conversation with the doctor this morning was short. To the point, “You have a 100% blockage in the artery in front of the heart (the left anterior), and you need angioplasty immediately, or possibly open heart surgery.”

My mouth dropped open. I can’t believe this. Nor can Tom. How did this happen? Of course, we’re both wrecks. Now, we are waiting in Nelspruit for approval from our insurance company. If they decline, we must pay the entire bill out of pocket, a huge unexpected expense. 

If we miss the window of opportunity for tomorrow’s procedure, the angioplasty, we’ll have to wait until next Tuesday. The doctor only goes to surgery on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We won’t make our Thursday flight to Kenya or make our one-week hotel stay (prepaid) in Kenya.

If open-heart surgery is necessary, oh dear, that will be at least six weeks during which we’ll have to stay in South Africa. We’ll lose tens of thousands of dollars in prepaid future travels, flights, and a cruise back to the US.  

But it’s the way it is, and we have no choice but to figure this out. In reality, we knew a day like this would come. We didn’t think it would be now. My laptop died tonight. I am writing this on my phone.   

I couldn’t move photos around.  I will fix it at a later date.  We’ll be back as soon as possible with updates.

Thanks for all the love.  Too many to respond to, but I will; l keep trying. You people are wonderful! Thanks so much.

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2018:

The seas were wild through the Drake Passage in Antarctica as we headed back to Ushuaia, Argentina. It wasn’t as wild as it could have been. But, as usual, Tom and I felt fine, free of any seasickness. For more, please click here.

On the mend at long last…Last of the seashell photos, items for sale with some prices…New photos tomorrow!

After we’d finished at the Phuket Sea Shell Museum, located in the lower level, we made our way back up to the main level to the shop where a variety of seashells and seashell related products were for sale.

Hesitant to jinx myself, I pause to emphatically state I’m on the mend. However, it’s beginning to feel that way now as I approach the three month mark since the injury occurred in Bali on June 1st.

The unique shell on the left is US $722, THB 25,000 with the shell on the right at US $808, THB 28,000. 

Having had time to rest here in Phuket has made all the difference in the world, exactly what I’ve needed to do after leaving Bali on June 28th when there was a whirlwind of activity up until we arrived on July 23rd.

Once we were settled in, planned meals and purchased groceries and taken a few photos, I knew it was time to work on my recovery. With a combination of an ergonomic  seating arrangement with two bed pillows on my lap to get my laptop at eye level while posting, pillows under each elbow to avoid strain in my shoulders and neck and with my feet planted flat and firmly on the floor, I’ve been able to sit for short bursts with a degree of comfort.

Seashell wind chimes.

Walking under 3000 steps daily in order to stay active, lying in bed on my side for 15 minutes every three or four hours to alleviate discomfort and, using a combination of ice and heat throughout the day as needed, I’ve been able to begin to see the benefits of my diligence and consistent efforts.

Cute little characters made of seashells.

Would a doctor have prescribed I do anything differently? Unlikely. I may have been prescribed pain killers and muscle relaxants. Although I did take about 10 pain pills we had in our emergency medical kit over this extended period, I only did so at the very worst times mainly while in Singapore and on the river cruise after painful activities. I haven’t taken any in quite a while.

Colorful seashell mirror.

Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, Paracetamol and aspirin had not helped at all, although I tried to find a balance over a period of a month of what may work. Nothing seemed to work. Now, I take nothing at all having lost a bit of faith in the efficacy of such over- the-counter meds which some people swear by.

Huge seashell hanging decorator items.

Without Tom’s help, this recovery effort would have been impossible. Other than chopping salad vegetable for each night’s dinner salad (he’s not a good chopper) while seated at the dining table, I haven’t done a thing.

Seashell serving dishes in varying designs and sizes.

I haven’t washed or dried a dish, washed or hung a load of laundry, made a bed or even, picked up my laptop to place on the pillows on my lap.  He does all of this for me regardless of how many times I get up to move about. Nor, have I poured my own coffee or iced tea. He does it all.

Now that I’m beginning to feel much better, he still insists on helping me to avoid bending, reaching inside the refrigerator or pulling up the covers to make the bed. It’s those types of motions that could set me into a tailspin causing a re-injury, the worst thing I could do at this point.

More wind chimes priced at US $16, THB 550.

As good as I’m beginning to feel I’ve gently begun to become a little more active until such time as I can begin doing some physical therapy type exercises which is not quite yet.

Wall decoration.

Living this life,often far from medical care which we’d feel confident in receiving, we’ve learned to care for ourselves as much as possible. This elicits questions such as the following:

1.  What conditions would prompt us to see a doctor or immediately contact emergency services regardless of the distance and quality of medical care?
2.  How much self-care makes sense when under these particular and peculiar life circumstances?

Answers to these questions aren’t easy and certainly wouldn’t apply to those who have easy access to medical care and a “regular” doctor or medical facility with which they feel comfortable. 

This shell is priced at US $5,197, THB 180,000 must be a rare find.

Of course, we do not recommend that anyone wait to seek medical care when they experience any new type of pain, discomfort, injury, bleeding or anomaly. Seek medical care immediately! 

Nor would we ignore such signs and avoid seeking medical care, if not locally, then by traveling to another location. We have high quality emergency insurance including air ambulance. 

Pretty shells for sale for US $8.37, THB $290.

But, after 30 years of back pain from a chronic spinal condition, I knew my body and like many of our readers with chronic pain, we didn’t always run to the doctor when it acts up when we’ve re-injured it.

Over these past five years, I’d had no pain while strictly adhering to the anti-inflammation way of eating. It’s only been since this injury  in June that again I’ve experienced debilitating pain.

A seashell inspired handbag priced at US $38, THB 1300.

In our old lives, I’d surely have gone to the doctor as a result of this injury. If nothing else but to have an x-ray, CAT scan or MRI to hear more of the same I heard in my old life over many years of tests, tests and more tests.

Able to walk, with no pain in my arms and legs, I felt hopeful that in time the injury would heal.  Tentatively, today, I can truly say I’m on the mend where in many of these past posts, I feel as if I was responding to many messages from kindly well wishers when I was more hopeful than confident in my recovery. 

Touristy trinkets.

If I continue to proceed with caution, avoid falling, avoid any high risk adventures and don’t overdo any activity in my often over-zealous manner, the recovery will continue. 

It could take many more months until I’m fully recovered. However, at this juncture, we can sigh with relief that we can carry on in our world travels, which all along up until this past week, I’ve been a bit fearful could come to an end.

Today, is shopping day requiring three stops; the pharmacy, the Seven Eleven (only place we’re able to find shampoo) and the supermarket. Along the way, we’ll stop for a few new photos  to excitedly share with all of you over the next several days.

We headed down this tile walkway back to the less-than-stellar rental car we’d parked behind this truck.

With only 13 days until we depart Phuket, we look forward to the future with a renewed hope and optimism that may not have been possible only a few short weeks ago.

May your day provide you with optimism for the future! Thank you for being “here” with us, as always.

Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2015:

The most venomous Australian snake: the Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake
One year ago, we posted photos of dangerous snakes in Australia. (Not our photo). The Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake, reported as the most venomous snake in Australia. For more information and photos, please click here.

Our research for the future continues…Saddened by news from the US…

Late yesterday afternoon during an uncommonly heavy rainstorm, I went out to the freezer in the garage to get some ice. I saw this long black thing, referred to as an omangomang in Balinese, moving along the garage floor. I called out to Tom to come see it. He grabbed the camera and came running. Creepy.  Was that an eye looking out at us?  
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
A perfect sunny day at low tide.

Is there ever a time we can sit back and not be concerned about the “next” location in our world travels? Its not likely at this point in our lives.

As we discuss short term goals (over the next few years) and potential long term goals (who knows where and when?) we realize that our travels are not only determined by cost and desirability but also the general safety of each location.

Suddenly, legs came out of the long black shell and the crustacean began dragging itself along the garage floor.  The two Ketuts explained this is an omangomang which may not be eaten.

Yesterday, Tom spotted this article about the “25 Safest Countries in the World.”  Click here for details.

Over these past several days, we’ve watched online news retelling the horrific story of the mass shootings in Orlando, Florida. Our hearts go out to all the families of victims of this devastation and pray for healing and peace for our nation and nations throughout the world.

An ocean view while the van was moving through traffic.

In the realm of things, our personal travels become small and insignificant amid such sad news. But, as we all know, we must each carry on with our lives with the hope and intent of doing so with love and harmony as our primary goals.

As we reach toward our future, we not only research places “we’d like to see” but also where we can feel relatively at ease if we walk through an open market or stop at a café. 

We have no delusions that anywhere in the world is 100% safe. However, we can improve our odds of remaining safe by considering each future location after considerable deliberation and research.

Gede, our kind, helpful and thoughtful house man, built this house some years ago. He’s been heavily involved with construction and renovation over the years although he’s under 40 years old and quite resourceful and capable.

Another factor we must eventually consider more seriously is proximity to quality medical care. Here in this remote area of Bali, far from any world-class medical facilities, we’d be in serious trouble if we had a life-threatening medical emergency. 

The neighbor next door to our villa passed away a few years ago from a heart attack when he wasn’t able to get proper medical care in a timely fashion. He’d been taken to the hospital in Negara and the “doctor wasn’t in yet and not due to arrive for several hours.” Yikes. The man died while waiting.

On the left a restaurant and a data (SIM) card store on the right.

We’re not getting any younger. In less than 20 months, I’ll turn 70 years old (good grief!) with Tom lagging five years behind me. Regardless of how hard we may try to stay healthy, things can happen beyond our control.

Every so often, one of us feels a sharp pain or sense of discomfort that usually dissipates after awhile. Most likely, this occurs for most seniors (and those younger) from time to time. When we’re far from medical care, an added sense of concern washes over us, wondering what we’d do if one of us needed immediate treatment.

Motorbike drivers stop at the beaches along the highway for a lunch break or to purchase products from roadside stands.

Our health insurance provides for air ambulance to the closest world-class hospital paying 100% of major medical costs which gives us peace of mind to an extent although not entirely. It’s the getting there expeditiously that becomes the greater source of concern.

A few stretches of the highway can be less busy although shortly ahead at this location we encountered considerable traffic.

What? Me, worry? Sure, overall, maintaining good health is our primary source of concern. Do we fuss over it all the time? No. We only worry when there’s  a reason to, such as when there’s a lingering sharp pain or a sense of not feeling quite right. 

In the future, we’ve already booked a few more remote-type locations for extended stays and most likely we’ll continue to book a few more remote locations in the future. Many of our upcoming cruises including Antarctica in January, 2018 are considered remote. 

Commercial building along the highway.

The world is a big place. We’ve hardly explored the “tip of the iceberg” (but soon will!). Safety and well being will always be of our utmost concern and never will we take that safety for granted.

May your day provide you with a sense of well being and safety.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2015:

The rainy view of what is aptly named, Double Island, as seen from our veranda one year ago in Trinity Beach, Australia where we lived for three months. For more photos, please click here.

Traveling and working out…not always possible…Fitness stats…Tonight’s dinner date…

Wherever we may travel water views always present a photo op.

It’s not always possible to find a fitness center nearby our vacation rental. Many remote areas we visit don’t have fitness centers at all when many of the locals don’t have cars and walk up and down steep hills all day and tackle varying degrees of backbreaking work in their jobs and day to day lives. They certainly don’t need to workout nor can they afford the cost.

I often wonder what fitness-minded ex-pats and foreigner temporary residents do for fitness, although many may scuba dive and partake in a variety of activities that may suffice during short visits.

A bridge across the pond.

Here are stats from the US from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition:

  • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Only 35 – 44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.

Based on the above stats, many travelers and ex-pats may not be as interested in fitness as I am or as I may assume, making the availability of fitness centers less important in many resort areas.

Some resorts and hotels have workout facilities which would most likely be adequate for my needs with many “all-inclusive” resorts, unwelcoming to “outsiders,” even for a fee.

A walkway to another area of the Arts Village.  We toured every nook and cranny.

The more outsider-welcoming resorts and hotels with workout facilities in more remote locations require a taxi fare making working out not as feasible when added to the cost of the temporary membership. In Kauai, we had a rental car and could easily drive to the golf course we joined for the pool and fitness center. 

The cost for that fitness membership was USD $225, FJD $533 a month. If we’d had to add taxi fare, the total cost would be impractical for our budget. As a result, we decide on a case by case basis.

The last location where I had access to a fitness center was Trinity Beach, Australia, our stay ending in early September. Once we arrived in Savusavu with no fitness centers in the area and at only the all-inclusive resorts, options were non-existent. Living at the top of the steep mountainous road made walking in the neighborhood literally impossible.

Walkways are often uneven with potential tripping hazards, particularly for seniors.

Although seemingly less significant, I didn’t clean or do laundry with the included daily household help and spent considerable hours each day relatively inactive. This didn’t serve me well. I’m feeling out of shape, more so than I have since the onset of our travels.

Now that we’re living on flat ground walking is definitely on the agenda, daily if possible, weather permitting. In the mornings and at dusk the mozzies are in full force. After completing the day’s post a walk is definitely in order. 

Walking on rock covered roads is not necessarily a strenuous exercise while attempting to avoid falling or turning an ankle. Tom, having walked on rough terrain most of his life, is certainly more surefooted than I am.  In our travels, we’ve certainly done our fair share of walking on rough terrain and have been fortunate to avoid any major injuries. 

A hostel for backpackers or budget-minded travelers.

However, we never take for granted that we’re not exempt from tripping or falling while walking. The more fit we are, the less likelihood of a fall. A bad injury from a fall could put a fast end to our travels. How many seniors do we all know who’s been injured falling ending up in rehab centers and becoming immobile for the remainder of their lives?

In a little over three weeks, we’ll be on the ship where an ideal fitness center will get me back on track on my high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I can hardly wait for that reason along with all the other benefits of cruising we both so well enjoy.

Unique colorful lily pad flowers.

By the time we get off the ship, I’ll be on my way to restoring my former level of fitness, stability, and strength.  In most cases, I’ve found that I can recover a good degree of fitness in three weeks of HIIT training.

Luckily, the area we’ll be living in New Zealand and the fact that we’ll have a rental car will enable me to join a not-to-far-away fitness center. In researching online, we’ve found several fitness centers within a 25-minute drive of the farm.

The next big working out challenge will be in Bali where we’ll have a household staff of four including a cook.  Luckily, with the huge infinity pool, I’ll be able to swim and exercise in the pool. The pool at this house isn’t quite long enough for fitness based swimming although, pool exercises are easily accomplished.

Shops in Pacific Harbour at Arts Village.

Along with the many other challenges of changing our environment every few months, finding a fitness plan that works while on the move is crucial. I doubt I will ever allow myself to become as unfit as in Savusavu. 

Although, I easily maintain my weight through my way of eating, working out has had nothing to do with weight control. Working out for a least an hour a day for most of my adult life never contributed to any weight controlling benefits. It has always been the “hand to mouth” aspect of life that determined my weight. 

Tom on the walkway.

In the future, as we book more new locations, we need to do more research on the availability of walking in the neighborhood and fitness centers. I’m not unlike most of the rest of us…it’s hard to stay motivated to workout at home without the regime dictated by paying for and driving to a fitness center.

Today, I’m excited for tonight’s dinner date with my hubby which we haven’t done since October 31st, on our travel anniversary. We’ve chosen a popular local beachside restaurant planning to arrive before dark to ensure we’re able to get good photos to share here tomorrow. We’ll also take photos of our food and the menu.

Back at you soon. Have a great weekend wherever you may be and keep moving!

Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2014:

With cooler temperatures on this side of Big Island, there weren’t a huge number of bathers in the tide pool at Ahalanui Park but our brave family members tackled the cool water. For more details, please click here.

Part Two…Reviewing the criteria we established in March 22, 2012…Are we still on track?

A few other boats dock at this pier.

Good news! Yesterday, in the pelting rain, wearing jackets with hoodies, we returned to the dentist at the hospital in the village. By the time we reached the driveway where Rasnesh was parked, we were soaked, drying off in no time in the hot weather.

Arriving at the dentist’s office in a matter of seconds, not minutes, we were whisked away to a treatment room.  Immediately, the same Indo-Fijian dentist entered the room with a wide bright white toothy smile seeming to remember us from one week ago when we had the last five minute appointment.

He looked in Tom’s mouth happily stating it appeared the infection was gone and the mushy gums were healing. The three teeth were no longer as loose in the previously infected spongy gums and would continue to tighten over time.  

This boat navigates to the pearl beds.

The dentist suggested Tom use Listerine mouthwash to kill bacteria. For awhile, he’d stopped using the coconut oil, teeth pulling ritual but is back at it again since the infection had begun a few weeks ago. Organic, unrefined, food-grade coconut oil is a known antibacterial with no added chemicals.

Once we get situated in New Zealand, he may decide to make an appointment for a periodontist for further treatment which most likely would have prevented the infection in the first place. Traveling the world has a tendency to cause us to be less mindful of “preventive” care beyond that which we’re able to accomplish on our own.

Thanks to all of our wonderful readers who sent email, posted comments and sent prayers and good wishes his way. 

Living in a third world country can easily incite a little nervousness when it comes to medical care of any type.  We’ll take this into consideration more as we age planning the distant future itinerary. 

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

Continuing on in part two of yesterday’s discussion of the criteria we’d established for our travels in March 2012, on March 26, 2012, we posted a second portion and a summarization of all of the criteria as shown below, again in italics with comments at the end on areas in which we’ve changed:

The remaining criteria:
Criteria #7:  Never stay in a vacation rental for less than one month. The rationale behind this rule is simple.  Staying in one location not only reduces transportation expense but provides us with the opportunity to negotiate better rates when staying a month or more.  
Many of the property owners allow a stay of as little as three or four days requiring added paperwork, liability and cleaning. Their piece of mind is a substantial motivator for them to accept a lower rent for their property.  As each month’s stay is extended in the negotiations, the price goes down proportionately. This will be illustrated by the rental amounts we will post with the itinerary.
Criteria #8:  No trinkets! As tempting as “bargains,” “souvenirs” and local “handicrafts” appeal to us during our travels, we will resist the temptation. The cost of excess baggage along with the horror of hauling some heavy wooden object all over the world is preposterous!
We will make a list of the items we encounter that tempt us. Once we settle someday, we will easily be able to find similar items online or in some cases, purchase them from the actual vendor’s website. Often these tempting artifacts can be found for half the price on eBay, from sellers who found themselves tempted during their travels. Most often, when we look back at such a wish list at a later date, we’ll find that we have lost interest anyway.
Criteria #9:  The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times. This was a tough one. I spent no less than an entire week researching various options. We now have discovered solutions (of course, subject to technology changes over the next several months). For Internet access, 24/7, in our rental, on the road, and part-time on cruises, we’ll use MiFi Rental with XCom Global. In a future post, I will write about the cost and how this works.  
As for cell phone service, we will be buying an Unlocked International cell phone into which we can purchase and install a local SIM card using the available local network (which is what most cell phone users in many countries use for service). SIM cards result in considerably lower rates, all without the use of a contract. Here again, I will write an entire post on this subject.
Criteria #10:  Cook and eat in!  Due to health concerns we live a low carb, wheat-free, starch-free, grain-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free lifestyle. Occasionally Tom will indulge along the way!  He won’t be able to resist pasta in Italy or a baguette in France. But, for me, my ongoing health from this way of eating it a huge motivator. Cooking and eating in the kitchen of our vacation rental will save us $1000’s along the way.  

Criteria #1: Do not have a permanent home!
Criteria #2: Do not own cars!
Criteria #3: Do not stay in hotels unless absolutely necessary!
Criteria #4: Do not pay more than that which we were willing to pay for rent in our chosen retirement community!
Criteria #5: Use the cruise!
Criteria #6: Bag the excess baggage!
Criteria #7: Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month!
Criteria #8: No trinkets!
Criteria #9: The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times!
Criteria#10: Cook and eat in!

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

As we peruse the above list, there was one item we failed to note which applied to us: Don’t have a storage facility with “stuff” from our old lives. The only storage we have are tax records and a few bins of memorabilia at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada and another few bins at Tom’s sister’s home in Minnesota. We have no storage anywhere else. What would be the point of saving furnishings, old clothes, and household and kitchenware?

Considering Criteria #7, we’ve faltered a few times, once staying in a vacation home in Waikiki for 11 nights and another in Vancouver for six nights. We didn’t care for the Waikiki property and later wished we’d stayed in a hotel. But, the Vancouver property was fantastic with no regrets there. If we ever take a cruise out of Vancouver in the future, we’d happily stay at that property.

Otherwise, every item on the original criteria list at this link written over four years ago, still stands today. Of course, between the lines, we’ve learned a lot and in our then inexperience, we’ve discovered so much along the way. 

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

When we think in terms of traveling for ten years or more, good health providing, we have no doubt some of these criteria may change one way or another. 

Flexibility and a willingness to change is a vital aspect of successful long term travel. Every day, we strive to maintain open minds and hearts, knowing this adventure requires the ability to adapt, grow and learn along the way.

The perception for most senior citizens is that we’re “set in our ways” but, this may not be true for all of us. For even our treasured armchair readers, they too may change in their attitudes and beliefs about traveling the world as they share this journey along with us. 

Have a glorious day! It’s raining in buckets here and we’re as content as we could possibly be.

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

We were in awe of this exquisite and unusual Monkey Pod Tree in Maui. For more vegetation photos in Maui, please click here.

Poolside health benefits…Does sunlight really improve health?…One year ago today…Versailles…

Tom was reading while soaking up the sun.

One of the major attracting points of a certain number of the properties we chose to rent throughout the world is the availability of a swimming pool. We don’t select a pool as a filter when searching for properties to rent, although, we certainly pay attention when a pool is available. 

When we booked this lovely property in Trinity Beach, we were thrilled there was a pool. We imagined lounging by the pool for a requisite one-hour maximum almost every sunny day after we uploaded the day’s post. 

This is the second of the uneven stone steps leading down to the pool.

Should you decide to undertake to acquire your Vitamin D3 from the sun, please read this article and begin very slowly to avoid burning if you have no base tan. For some fair-skinned individuals as little as a few minutes on each side is all that is possible in the beginning to avoid burning. Also, please check with your doctor if you currently have skin cancer or any other medical condition that may be impacted by time in direct sunlight.

Here’s the link to an excellent article with accompanying research on the benefits of getting Vitamin D from the sun. When we can acquire nutrients from natural resources we’re inspired and we’ll undertake considerable research in order to formulate an opinion as to the validity of the research.

Here’s a link about the benefits of Vitamin D3 from the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. In reading this and other reports we easily realized we may not receive any Vitamin D from foods, especially when neither of us eats any processed foods fortified with Vitamin D.

The steep wooden steps from the yard down to the pool.

Also, there’s a calculator on this site, developed by scientists (as is all of this article), to help you determine what is best for you based on your location, skin type, and times of the day.

Once we become convinced that a natural resource may have a benefit for us, we may adopt its use. So is the case of Vitamin D3. When we had to reduce our luggage weight load, that included disposing of several bottles of Vitamin D3 supplements. Without this supplement, we were convinced we needed to acquire the vital nutrient directly from the sun.

Also, we carried several tubes of sunscreens with us which neither of us liked using. We ditched those as well with a plan to stay out of the sun beyond a maximum of one hour per day. With enough of a tan base to protect us from sunburn and covered with clothing when we visit various outdoor sites on sunny days, we have little concern. 

There’s an outdoor kitchen under the gazebo.  However, after 4:00 pm, the no-see-ums arrive on the biting frenzy making “cooking on the Barbie” not as appealing as one might think.

After extensive research, we became convinced that short regular stints in the sun with 60% of our skin exposed for 20 minutes on each side without the use of sunscreen would benefit us both greatly in many ways. 

Over these past three years living in warm climates, we’ve worked our way up to 30 minutes without our skin turning pink. However, the proximity to the equator has a bearing on how long we stay in the sun in each new location. 

When we first arrived in Australia, we tried 10 minutes on each side and now we’ve worked our way up to a maximum of 20 minutes on each side, most often staying out only for a total of 40 minutes due to the heat of the sun. We’ve never been sunburned over these past three years even with Tom’s light Irish skin. 

The pool has a waterfall which isn’t in use at this time.

Anyway, once we arrived in Trinity Beach and moved into this desirable vacation property we discovered that getting down to the pool required a trek down a steep staircase with a splinter inducing single-sided wood handrail. Plus, at that time, there were no chaise lounges by the pool.

With as kind and helpful as our hosts have been, we didn’t want to ask for chaise lounges by the pool.  Apparently, they read our mention of this in a prior post ending up purchasing two fabulous cushioned chaise lounges several weeks ago for which we’re very grateful.

Fruit growing on this tree situated in the pool area.

In the interim, before the chaises, we managed to use the chairs on our veranda, using the cushions on the ground to lay on our stomachs and sitting in the chairs facing the sun at noon. This worked but was relatively uncomfortable.

The next challenge, once the chaise lounges were situated by the pool, was getting used to safely maneuvering the steps down to the pool area and then two smaller sets of uneven stone steps.

This interesting tree by the pool has a look comparable to a bottle cleaner.

Tom, of course, can walk on a bed of nails without tripping. I, on the other hand, can easily stumble on uneven surfaces from the instability of my spinal condition. Tom is dependable and sturdy support when I’m walking in such conditions, never faltering in adding a strong arm and hand to guide the way.

After all, we did make it down the treacherous Queen’s Bath in Kauai (read our Part 1 here and Part 2 here) without falling when we’d read that many younger hikers were injured in the process. By far, it was the most dangerous trek we’ve made in our travels.

View to the house above.

Once down by the pool and situated in the chaise lounges laying atop the comfortable cushions, we set the timer on my phone to ensure we don’t overstay in the sun. 

To entertain ourselves we both read the books on our phones as the time quickly passes. Before we know it, we’re flipping over, and then, we’re done. To say that these short stints are therapeutic in other ways is minimizing the powerful effect of the sun on health, mood, and energy levels. 

Jittery camera (no doubt) when attempting to get close enough to take this photo. Later, when we were ready to leave the pool area, hoping it would be gone, we realized it was dead. Hahaha. We laughed.

We all know how beneficial a little sunshine and getting outdoors is for all of us, let alone gleaning the Vitamin D3 benefits we grasp as often as we can. We find ourselves feeling grateful to Mother Nature for this beneficial effect which she has perfectly provided for us.

Have a sunny weekend!

                                                Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2014:

Without umbrellas and only lightly hooded jackets we stood outside in the pouring rain for the tour of the 90 minutes tour of the Gardens of Versailles. We had to keep the camera inside my jacket to avoid it getting wetter than it did. We were soaked all the way to our underwear but somehow didn’t care, neither of us ever complaining. For more details and amazing photos of Versailles, please click here.

Dentist and kangaroos…Another g’day in Australia!

The dental office is easy to find.  Its outside the main entrance to Smithfield Mall on the nearest to Woolworth’s  Grocery store.

Visiting a dentist has always been a dreaded experience for me.  As many of you, from time to time I had less than ideal experiences leaving an indelible mark on my psyche.  These experiences left me with a degree of dental phobia and/or dental anxiety which is more common than we can imagine.

As a matter of fact there is such a thing as the “Dental Anxiety Network” specifically for dentists to ensure they are well educated in dealing with anxious patients.

I’ll admit to becoming anxious when I have to have anything other than a cleaning which causes little apprehension.  Its the fillings, crowns and surgeries that incite a sense of fear.  Some reports state that as many of 80% of patients have some degree of dental phobia.

The professional, clean and organized dental office, 1300 Smiles at Smithfield Mall made us both feel at ease.

As a result I didn’t feel apprehensive when our intent for yesterday’s two appointments was singular:  clean our teeth, no x-rays.  With neither of us experiencing any pain or apparent difficulty with our teeth, we hoped for good results.

Both of our appointments transpired at exactly the same time, 1:00 pm on Thursday, with a plan to shop when done.  The dental clinic, 1300 Smiles, is located  in the Smithfield Mall around the corner  from the meat market, the produce mart, the pharmacy and the grocery store, definitely a convenient location for the four additional stops I needed to make when we were done at the dentist.

Much to my surprise the dentist, Dr. Neil McElvanna, did my cleaning as opposed to a dental hygienist which is the usual procedure in the US.  Most hygienists in the US (our only experience until now) provide excellent service often after many years of experience.

The treatment rooms were spotless and were equipped with the most up-to-date equipment from what we could determine.

After my painless procedure was completed with positive comments as to the condition of my teeth and gums after almost three years without a professional cleaning (we don’t recommend waiting this long), Dr. Neil and I had a chance to talk.

After inquiring as to our life of travel, we discussed the recent pointless slaughter of Cecil, the lion.  Dr. Neil, with tongue in cheek, commented, “Too bad he’s a dentist.”  I then commented, “Too bad he was from Minnesota from whence we came.”  Immediately, we had something, however sad, in common.

We proceeded to discuss my way of eating which may have a beneficial effect on dental health which he said was evident in my lack of periodontal disease.  Sure, I had a degree of plaque which he readily removed that no matter how often I cleaned my teeth, I couldn’t entirely eradicate.  But, I had no inflamed or swollen gums or areas of concern.

Lounging in the grass.

In the old life, both of us had to visit a periodontist on a few occasions.  That was while we were still consuming vast amounts of sugar in various forms.  However, our good results aren’t entirely a result of not having sugar floating around our mouths.  It’s also a result of the systemic production of stomach acids, good gut bacteria and general good health from consuming a healthy low carb, grain, starch and sugar free ketogenic diet for the past almost four years.  

Now, with a clean dental bill of health and the fact that we may not see another dentist until we arrive the US in 2017 we can rest easy that both our medical and dental exams provided us with peace of mind only adding to our enthusiasm as we continue on in our travels.

This adult kept watch while the others rested.  With only crocs as potential predators and the kangaroos keeping a distance from the ocean and rivers, the kangaroo population continues to grow in Australia.  Here are the estimated stats for the kangaroo population.  There are an estimated over 20 million kangaroos in Queensland according to these 2011 stats.

The shocker?  The cost for both of us was a mere AUD $196, USD $142.89, which is only AUD $98, USD $71.45 each.  We had refused x-rays which of course lowered the price.  Had either of us been experiencing any pain or discomfort, we’d have opted for the x-rays.  Why be exposed to radiation when there’s no need?

This young kangaroo looked sleepy and ready for a nap.

Over these past almost three years since our last cleaning we’ve done a few things that may have also contributed to the good results:

1.  Using Brush Picks by The Doctors after eating.  We keep these picks with us at all times.  We recently purchased several packs of these at the Alive Pharmacy at Smithfield Mall.
2.  Oil Pulling each day using unrefined, cold pressed, organic coconut oil, swishing for 20 minutes.
3.  We brush our teeth twice a day using non-fluoridated whitening toothpaste (brands vary throughout the world.  We don’t use fluoride when we can avoid it).
4.  We brush with the above toothpaste adding baking soda and hydrogen peroxide onto the brush.  These items are available worldwide.
5.  We used pulsing toothbrushes.  (We’d purchased a good sized supply on past visits to Costco but, these can be purchased at pharmacies and grocery stores throughout the world.

Kangaroo family lounging under the shade of a tree and a bench.

We stress that if there is evidence of periodontal disease, the above measures would be effective only after a course of professional treatment had been exercised. We don’t recommend seeing a dentist only once every three years.  In our old lives, we had our teeth cleaned every six months.

The thorough cleaning, the pleasant and professional dental office and the expert care of the dentist, Dr. Neil and his staff, left us with a “great taste in our mouths!”

Resting in the grass.

With our medical appointments behind us with good results we have a renewed sense of freedom.  Thanks to our readers for their encouragement and support in assisting us in making the decision to get these medical exams behind us.

Our efforts for ongoing health continue with exercise, healthy diet, dental care and a positive state of mind which, armed with this good news, is certainly enhanced.

Kangaroos are shy unless they’ve been in an area where they frequently interact with humans.  These are wild kangaroos resulting in photos taken from afar.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue with more photos from our trip to Port Douglas as we plan our next road trip.  Hummm…wonder where that will take us?

Happy end of week to all!


Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2014:
We didn’t post on this travel date.  Back tomorrow with August 1, 2014!

Figuring out the most simple things is often challenging…Feedback from our readers, please…How often do you go to a doctor when feeling well?

Double Island is often shown in many of our ocean view photos.

At times, we find figuring out the seemingly simplest things becomes tricky while outside of our home country.  It’s not due to any difficulty generated by any other country in particular. It’s simply the fact that everything is different in each country.

Recently, I began searching online to order a year’s supply of my contact lenses. Should be relatively easy.  Unfortunately, my prescription is three years old and the familiar brand that I’ve used for years has been discontinued.

Trees and vegetation are often seen growing along the beaches.

In order to make a new purchase, I’d have to pay for a new eye exam here in Australia and start all over again.  I don’t feel like doing this nor do I want to purchase a brand that may not be readily available as we continue on our travels. Also, my prescription hasn’t changed. I can still see perfectly with my current prescription.

Scout Island doesn’t look too inviting and isn’t occupied.

I only have common age-related far-sightedness, resulting in difficulty in reading small print, corrected with bifocal contacts, a different prescription in each eye. It works great for me and has done so for the past 25 years without difficulty.

In the US, an eye exam prescription is good for two years and the same applies in Australia. Sticking my neck out, I asked my old optician in Minnesota to send me a year’s supply of a new brand with me taking the risk that they’ll work. 

A handmade swing at the beach.

Finally, they agreed and as of a call I made to them this morning, they’ve agreed to send me only a one year supply of a new brand that should work well when it matches my prescription. Rather than have them send them directly to me in Australia and in order to make it simple, I asked them to send them to our mailing service in Nevada.

Before we leave Trinity Beach, we’ll order a new box of supplies and have them mailed to us. In Australia, if the contents of a package shipped from outside the country into the country has a value of less than AUD $1000, US $773, no taxes or customs fees are required. We’ll keep close tabs on the value of the contents as we add to the items we’ll eventually have shipped to us.

Sandy beach on a cloudy day.

Once again, we must address the teeth cleaning issue after canceling our appointments in Maui when Tom didn’t feel comfortable with the odd scenario of the location and office setup of the makeshift dentist’s office. We’ll check with our landlords and also check online for reviews.

Recently, we’ve decided it may be time to make doctor appointments for both of us for a general check-up and blood tests which neither of us are excited to do when we’re both feeling so well. Our insurance doesn’t pay for office visits or tests and this could easily run into quite a bill. Its been almost three years since either of us had a physical exam. 

Double Island is privately owned.

We’d love feedback from our readers and you may do so anonymously at the end of this post by clicking on the “comment” link. How often do you see the dentist when you’re teeth feel clean and without problems? How often do you see a doctor when you’re feeling well?

Today, we’re off to the fitness center and for another exploratory drive in the area. There’s so much to see in our immediate surroundings as we continue to post photos. 

There are plenty of condo and apartment complexes in Trinity Beach and the surrounding areas.

One day soon, we’ll head out of town. For now, we’re so content that its difficult to become motivated to take a road trip especially when its been cloudy and rainy most days. We’re hoping that by next week we’ll be ready to take off for a day.

Soon, we’ll be leaving for the fitness center and another drive exploring this amazing area. Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2014:

The small island of Madeira had many points of interest to explore within a short distance of our home. We certainly enjoyed our time on the beautiful, historical island. For more details, please click here.