Forgetfulness and aging…A story from long ago changing our lives…

Photo of the railroad guys at the train station.  Year unknown.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a Clay Colored Robin, the national bird of Costa Rica.

Two weeks from today, we leave for Nicaragua for two nights, returning to the villa on the 30th.  The next day, October 31st is our five-year anniversary of traveling the world.

When we first began traveling in 2012, we hadn’t imagined we’d last five years.  At that time, we “qualified” our long-term plans by saying we’d find somewhere along the way where we’d eventually settle down or we’d return to live in the US, location to be determined.

Settling down at some point is no longer a topic of interest or discussion.  We’ve accepted the reality when health fails for either of us (which eventually will), we’ll have to make a decision.  Do we worry that such a sudden decision will overwhelm us especially under the duress of a medical problem? 

Locomotives, back in the day in Atenas.

Not really.  Why worry about a situation over which we have little control other than to take good care of our health and well-being each and every day?  When it happens, it happens.  We’ll figure it out from there.

An important aspect of managing such a situation is predicated on the ability of one of us to be able to make decisions in the event of a medical issue for the other.

In our old lives, at one point, I was concerned about developing memory loss issues as I’ve aged.  Dementia was a common condition on my mother’s side of the family. 

Horn off a locomotive.

Once I hit the age of 50, I found myself becoming forgetful…walking into a room and not remembering why, starting a project and getting sidetracked on another project, forgetting where I’d left off.  These were subtle changes I was embarrassed to mention,  not even to Tom.

In 2011, when I dramatically changed my way of eating from a ‘low fat, low protein, high carb, healthy whole grains” diet to a “high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet,” not only was I pain-free three months later but over the next several years, my memory improved to an astounding rate, comparable to when I was in my early 20’s.

No longer did I find myself losing things, wondering where I’d left something, or forgetting what I’d done the prior evening.  Was it due to the diet as explained in Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain” or was it due to the fact that in early 2012 I began the 12-hour-a-day process of planning our world travels keeping my brain whirring in a plethora of new knowledge?

Model trains on a shelf.

Dr. Perlmutter included the story of my success with this way of eating on his website as shown in this link here.  We also shared the story in one of our previous posts as indicated here in this link

The smidgeon of notoriety I gleaned from this article only mattered to me in that it might inspire one more individual to embark on this way of eating to improve their health as well.  When readers wrote asking questions, it was so rewarding.

No, this way of eating doesn’t make me exempt from injuries (obviously) such as in Bali when I hurt my spine (fully recovered now) or in developing Helicobacter Pylori from tainted food in Fiji from which I’m still recovering. (It may take a few more months).

Toy truck and more trains on a shelf.

However, being pain-free and regaining my memory has truly been an awe-inspiring result which ultimately allowed us to travel the world and recall the most finite details of our lives of travel.

Plus, it’s allowed me to post our daily stories which require a tremendous amount of recall.  Tom, on the other hand, inherited great “memory genes” and does equally well.  Tom’s mother, at 98 years old could recall names, birthdates, and events of her huge family and her life over the prior 11 decades.  Tom’s eldest brother Jerome, at almost 89, has an equally finely tuned memory. 

Ironically, Tom with the greatest of ease, remembers dates of past and upcoming events, places we’ve visited and our numerous cruises while I recall names of places, people, expenses, and miscellaneous oddball items. 

Coin collection at the museum.

Long ago, when we began our travels, we each gravitated toward that which we’d prefer to recall most readily.  Thus, we can always depend on one another to fill in the blanks.  As we all can recall from our schooldays, we tend to recall topics of the most interest to us.

Each day as it comes and goes, with a bit of serendipity thrown in, we’re left with memories we’ll always cherish as part of this wondrous life we’re blessed to live.

May your day be filled with wondrous memories.


Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2016:

Workers in the rice fields in Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Taranaki Pioneer Village..History at it best in this region…Here comes the judge!…And, the witness…

Tom stood on the witness stand in the old courthouse at the Taranaki Pioneer Village, a style that may be seen in more modern-day courthouses throughout the world. See the story and more photos below.
It’s been days since we walked in the neighborhood to visit our favorite cows, bulls, and sheep nor walked the muddy distance to the paddocks where the other alpacas are grazing or where Mont Blanc and his mom are located in hopes of improving his precarious health.


What a wonderful view of Mount Taranaki as we made our way out of town.

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t bored or annoyed with the much-needed rain. Seeing the mountains, hills and grass grow greener each day only means more nutrition for the grazing animals and growth of fall seasonal vegetables on local farms.

This sign grabbed our attention while we traveled along Highway 3.

Speaking of the fall season, the clocks changed here overnight, “fall back” not  “spring forward” as recently occurred in the US and other parts of the world that observe Daylight Savings Time. 

The entrance to the Taranaki Pioneer Village.

Here in the South Pacific, it’s been awfully dark upon arising each morning. Now, we’ll be able to adapt to brighter mornings and earlier evening darkness. 

It’s still a bit odd to us, these time and entire day differences. In a mere 13 months, we’ll be on our way back to the US and everything will change. Luckily, sailing across the seas makes the transition less noticeable at a one hour change each night. 

It was interesting to read about the historical buildings.

To date, we’ve yet to experience any major “jet lag” after crossing many time zones on cruises and flights. In almost every case, we adjusted within 24 to 48 hours with only our waking times feeling a bit disrupted.

Continuing on with stories and photos of recent sightseeing, today we begin sharing photos from a visit to the Taranaki Pioneer Village. We stumbled upon this unplanned popular tourist location when we spotted a sign as we drove on the highway. 

Many of the antiques ranged over a 100 year period such as this doctor scale, table, and clock in the visitors center.

It was worth checking out the village, as Tom quickly whipped into the parking lot. With few cars in the lot we wondered if it was open, let alone curious as to what a pioneer village has to offer.

World War I nurse’s uniform located in the visitors center with a old scale to the left.

With the intent of preserving the history of New Zealand, the Taranaki Pioneer Village is an ideal sightseeing location for both adults and children. Following is a description from their website:

“Welcome to Taranaki Pioneer Village!

Open every day from 10 am to 4 pm at Stratford South in Central Taranaki. Open at other times by arrangement.

Phone 06 765 5399

Taranaki Pioneer Village on State Highway 3, just south of Stratford in Central Taranaki, offers 10 acres of Taranaki Heritage. Take a nostalgic stroll through yesteryear and experience an outdoor museum presenting the life of Taranaki pioneers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – recall childhood memories and introduce ‘the good old days’ to the younger generation”

A major central Taranaki visitor attraction that appeals to all ages with modern amenities which contrast with a ‘stepping back in time’ experience as visitors enter village main street.”

Most buildings on the site were moved from other locations in the Taranaki Region to preserve them in one central location such as this building from the Opunake Railway Station, more railroad “stuff” to appeal to Tom.  This miniature train is used to transport visitors through the grounds. We preferred to walk on a beautiful day.

Upon entering the visitors center, we were warmly greeted by two staff members who seemed delighted to see us, a woman at the reception desk where we happily paid the senior entrance fee of NZ $10 per person, US $6.90 per person, and a man who was equally a wealth of information about the venue.

We entered this old courthouse. With no one in sight, we took advantage of a few photo ops as shown below.

We could have spent hours talking to them about New Zealand history but after a half-hour or so, we decided to move along to see what the Taranaki Pioneer Village had to offer and take photos while it was still bright and sunny.

During our entire several hour mid-week tour of the village, we never saw any other tourists. It was pleasant having the entire 10-acre site to ourselves. We imagine it would be busy over the weekends and holidays.

Tom teased me when I sat in the judge’s chair behind the big desk.

Over the next few days, we’ll be posting both exterior and interior photos of the interesting historical buildings we visited including businesses, a hospital, and a variety of homes. Also, we had a funny animal encounter for which we took a video we’ll soon post which may appeal to our “animal lovers” readers.

May your day bring you unexpected humor and laughter.

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2015:

This was the view as we began our daily walk in the neighborhood in Kauai over a four-month period. For more Kauai photos, please click here.

Part 2…Road trip…Many new photos on a perfect day!…Historical buildings…

The name of this quaint building in Eltham, NZ wasn’t posted.  It may be a private residence.

After our visit to the Fonterra Cheese Factory in Eltham, New Zealand, we drove through the side streets finding one historical building after another. 

We assumed this structure located across the street from the Fonterra Cheese retail store was the cheese manufacturing plant.

At several points, we parked the car to walk along the streets to peer into windows of the old buildings and further investigate their origins as we took photos, many of which required I cross to the other side of the street to get a better shot.

The 1897 Eltham Argus building.

We were in awe of the quaint personality of the small town with a population (as of the last census in 2006) of under 2000 residents as stated below in this quote from Wikipedia:

“Eltham is a small inland town in South Taranaki, New Zealand, located 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of the city of New Plymouth and southeast of the volcanic cone of Mount Taranaki/Egmont. Stratford is 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) north, Kaponga 13 km west, and Hawera is 19 km (12 mi) south. State Highway 3 runs through the town. 

There’s our little rental car parked in front of the former Eltham Bank (with Tom on the left), now converted to a unique antique shop. Photos will follow tomorrow with some interesting antique items we spotted in this location.

Eltham is South Taranaki’s second largest town. Population was 1980 in the 2006 Census, a decrease of 120 from 2001.

The former Post and Telegraph Office is for sale.

Eltham is known as the cradle of the Taranaki dairy industry (the co-operative system in particular), and for being the one place in New Zealand that manufactured rennet which is important in cheese making. It was also the first place to export butter to England.

An old phone booth with a sign stating it was one cent to make a call. The windows were too old and cloudy to take a photo of the interior.

Settlement began in Eltham in the 1870s with blocks of densely forested land being taken up mainly to the north of Mountain Road. A profusion of sawmilling companies cleared the district which when grassed was found to be ideal for dairy farming.

The 1914 Wilkinson’s Buildings includes a variety of shops, restaurants, and offices.

In 1884, the year Eltham was declared a town district, settlers, mainly from England, arrived there and the town had a population of 25. Eltham was declared a borough in 1901, and became part of South Taranaki District with the local body amalgamations of 1989.”

We’d have gone inside to see the interior of the Eltham District Historical Society but they were closed for lunch.

Unquestionably, discovering that Eltham is the second largest town in South Taranaki left us smiling. We love small towns and felt at ease as we wandered the streets, people warmly greeting us, although it was obvious we were outsiders. That’s the nature of the people of New Zealand.

Tom couldn’t help but notice this street rod (circa, the 1930s) traveling on the quiet street.

Interspersed among many of the old buildings are a few newer esthetically appealing buildings where businesses and manufacturing are comingled in an entirely natural manner. Whether it was an antique shop, a beauty salon, a post office, or a train yard, it all blends well into a fine mix of old and new.

A dairy store, supermarket and chemist, and others are available for the needs of the local residents with little influence geared toward tourists, although we spotted a few quaint hotels as shown in this photo below.

The still-operational Coronation Hotel was built in 1902.  For more information on historic properties in Eltham, please click here.

It always amazes us how much we enjoy these types of excursions, exploring places we’ve never been as we attempt to imagine the lives of the people who live in such a small town such as Eltham.

This is 1911, ESI Energy Services International Building, most likely the electric company.

And today, on April Fool’s Day, with the local news on the TV in the background, Tom can’t stop laughing over the good humor on the broadcast, much of which wouldn’t be considered as “politically correct” in some countries including the US. 

This is the newer post office built to fit well with the older buildings.

Although Kiwis are respectful under all circumstances in regards to racial and physical differences, they certainly have the ability to find humor in many other topics that freely elicit laughter. 

Painting on side of the building in Eltham, NZ.

With little crime in New Zealand, ranked as the fourth safest country in the world, everywhere we visit we feel comfortable and at ease. Add the element of its kind and generous people, Eltham was certainly no exception.  It was truly a great experience.

Wherever you live or visit, may today bring you pleasant experiences with the people in your town.

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2015:

A downed tree on Anina Beach in Kauai. Children were playing off to the right as we lounged in our Costco beach chairs. For more details, please click here.

Part 1, Rainy day road trip to the walled city of Lucca…

Lucca aerial view in the “borrowed” photo.  The remainder of the photos are all ours, some blurred due to the pouring rain.

After commenting in Sunday’s post regarding the recent lack of soaking rain, we took off on Monday morning amid an ominous looking sky. Would our long-awaited road trip to Lucca be spoiled by rain?

We were driving around the walled city of Lucca in the pouring rain looking for a parking spot.
As we made our way around the exterior of the walled city of Lucca, we traveled under this canopy of trees.

Halfway down the mountains, we realized that we should have brought the umbrella in the stand by the front door. Do we turn back calling it a day or forge ahead risking getting soaked?

As we waited our turn to enter the one-way road to gain access inside the walled city. We’d waited long enough for the rain to stop and the sun came out.  We were anxious to get inside before it started again.
The walled city piqued our interest to the point that we were determined to find a decent parking spot close to the entrance. The rain was pelting the windshield and we didn’t want to walk any further than we had to without an umbrella.
I took a photo of this street sign near where we first parked outside the walled city of Lucca in the event we had trouble finding the car later.  This is the general location that Tom perused looking for a place to get change for the required parking sticker.

With the unpredictability of the weather changes in these hills, we hadn’t bothered to check the weather report having found it be relatively inaccurate when doing so. 

Once inside the walled city, we encountered several dead-end one-way roads requiring that we back up long distances. Cars were only allowed in specific areas with no signs indicating dead-end roads. Patience prevailed.

Sunday was by far the hottest day and night we’ve experienced since arriving in Boveglio six weeks ago. The night was steamy. The fan and opened windows offered little relief as we tossed and turned most of the night.  Monday morning, as we prepared to take off on our road trip the heat and humidity were unbearable. 

Would the rain ever stop and would we find a place to park?

The more we drove around, the more the rain picked up.

Hoping to leave around 10:30 am, we decided to leave early if only to get into the air-conditioned car. I can honestly say I don’t recall being that hot and uncomfortable since the day we visited the White Mosque in Abu Dhabi while I was sick with that awful virus and required to wear the long black abaya while the temperature was well over 100 degrees. 

Having poorly planned for the rainy day, our frustration level grew as we drove around looking for a place to stop.  Surprisingly, we both stayed calm and cheerful.  Gosh, that helps in these situations, doesn’t it?
As we maneuvered our way down the mountains through the usual hairpin turns Tom was mindful of the numerous signs warning “roads slippery when wet.” As the rain began to fall on the windshield in giant drops, we looked at each other wondering if we should have postponed our trip after all.
It was raining too hard to open the door or the window of the car to take a photo. Instead, once we were parked in this free parking spot by this church, we were within running distance to the restaurant where we had lunch while waiting again for the rain to stop which eventually it did, although not entirely.

“Ah,” Tom said, “we’re already committed. Let’s continue on.”

I agreed. Less than an hour later we arrived in the walled city of Lucca, rain pelting so hard, my attempts at photos taking were considerably hindered. Then the fun began!

Many of the old buildings were homes for local residents.  We wondered where they were able to park their cars.  We never encountered any hotels within the walls of the city although they may have existed. Outside the walls, the remainder of the city was hustling and bustling with tourists, restaurants, and lots of traffic.

Finding a parking spot in Lucca was an adventure in itself.  Keep in mind that Tom is not the most patient guy on the planet.  His frustration level exacerbates, minute by minute when he can’t find a spot causing him to drive too fast to be able to grab a suddenly available spot. 

As you can see, Tom was not thrilled with the Italian menu and lack of options befitting his picky taste buds. Too many items included many vegetables and an abundance of squiggly seafood, none to his liking. On the ships, he was more adventuresome eating escargot and Oysters Rockefeller. What happened?  He cringed when he saw the octopus tentacles on my warmed seafood salad.
This restaurant had an extensive menu, most in Italian.  All Tom wanted was a pizza with sausage, mushrooms, onions, and olives. When his pizza arrived it was uncut with a crispy thin crust making it difficult to cut. The sausages looked like rounds of hot dogs. To say the least, he wasn’t thrilled with the pizza, only eating a small amount.  My meal was extraordinary, full of seafood, perfectly cooked, and seasoned.

Desperately trying to bite my tongue and yet be of assistance as we drove around the walled city of Lucca in the pouring rain was challenging. 

Finally, after lunch, we began our three-hour walk through the walled city of Lucca.  Apparently, this building is a name according to Google Translate.

Gaining access to the walled city can be tricky when attempting to park outside the massive two-mile-long wall surrounding the entire city of churches, historic buildings, restaurants, and shops.  There were a limited number of access points requiring a substantial walk-in in most cases.

This is actually a stuffed pug in the window of a shop in the walled city. So cute!

Alas, we found a spot within a 15-minute walk. With the pouring rain and no umbrella, no hoodies, no plastic bags nor any hats we were stranded for a while. As we sat in the car, again Tom suggested we go back home and reschedule for another day. 

The side view of the Church of San Michele in San Michele Square.
The front view of the Church of San Michele in San Michele Square.
This statue is of Francesco Burlamacchi.
A more detailed view of the steeple on the Church of San Michele.

Mutually agreeing to wait in the car for the rain to let up, we thought we’d give it an hour. After all, we had come all this way. We watched other more ambitious tourists walked toward the walled city with their umbrellas, wildly flapping in the lofty breeze while getting soaked from the sideways rain.

This restaurant and outdoor café look appealing but we’d already had lunch.

After waiting 30-minutes, the rain let up enough that we exited the car to begin the walk to the city. Five minutes into the walk, Tom suddenly stopped at a ticketing type machine situated on a large post indicating (in Italian) that one must purchase a parking ticket before leaving their car unattended or they’d be towed. Oh, good grief! 

This may have been Piazza San Giusto.

Could we even imagine the nightmare of coming back to find the “sold” rental car towed away?  I thought it was weird that no other passersby were purchasing parking tickets at the machine.  The cost was Euro $1 an hour.  Estimating that we’d be in the walled city at least three hours, the cost would be US $3.96, not too bad after all.

The bigger problem was that we didn’t have a single Euro coin on us.  All the Euros coins we’d had were inside the plastic bags we’d hung on the windows and doors to scare off the flies. 

Tom handed me the car keys so I could go back to wait in the car to ensure we wouldn’t be ticketed or towed while he’d find a place to get change.  I began imagining that a cop would come by instructing me to move the stick shift car.  I hadn’t driven a stick shift vehicle in 25 years. 

This was my favorite statue in Lucca, Giacomo Puccini, famed composer of Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, and more. In the background are his house and a now-closed museum. His statue seemed to attract the most tourists, especially us opera lovers. Unfortunately, opera season is winter.  Otherwise, we would’ve seen a few, no matter how far we’d have had to drive.

And if I had to move the car after I made a fool of myself in Italian traffic, how would I tell Tom who was running around to find change? This was one of those times, a working cell phone would have been handy. But it was also the first time we’d be separated from each other in a public street. (Next country, we’ll be getting local SIM cards).

This mime painted white, as we’ve seen in other European cities attracted a considerable amount of attention, many tossing coins into his gold bucket on the ground.

I headed to the car. Tom took off across the street to find a place for change for a $5 Euro bill. While sitting in the car waiting I made a special point of watching to see if anyone, anyone at all, put money in the ticket machine to pull out a sticker to place on their parked car. Not a one! But that was the least of my problems.

The Pretorio Palace Clock.

When 20 minutes passed and Tom hadn’t returned, I started watching the only clock in my possession which was on the camera. When 30 minutes passed, I was looking at the Lucca map as to the closest police station.  What was taking so long???? What if something happened to him? What if two hours passed and he still hadn’t returned? A million possibilities ran through my mind.

We were in a busy commercial area of shops, bars, and restaurants.  I’d noticed a bank as we approached the parking area. Was he stuck in one of those “revolving bank tubes?” Was he kidnapped? Was he injured?

Matteo Civitali (1436-1502) was an Italian sculptor and architect.

The minutes dragged on. I promised myself to do nothing other than wait until a full hour passed.  hen I’d get into action, calmly and resourcefully.  My fear was for his well being, not for me being stranded without him. 

Overreacting would not be helpful. I’d made a plan that I’d leave a note on the inside of the windshield, stating that I’d gone to the police station a few blocks away and to look for me there. The clock ticked away. My heart thumped in my chest.

Finally, at 40 minutes, I saw Tom briskly walking in the returned rain down the long sidewalk, anxious to get into the shelter of the car. Sighing a sigh of relief, explaining my worry about him, he proceeded to tell me his awful experience at the bank across and down the street, a long convoluted story of waiting in line. 

He was behind a customer in line who appeared to be purchasing a home while a solitary teller was busy copying page after page of documents, one at a time, with the printer in another room, having the customer sign one page at a time. As time marched on and not wanting to give up, he waited impatiently, all the while waving his $5 bill, hoping someone would help him. I get it. I wasn’t mad, just worried.

As we woefully looked at each other, the rain now furiously pelting passersby, having not yet put the money in the machine, we decided to take our chances and drive inside the walled city, unsure if this was even possible or if there would be a place to park.

Finally, we were inside in one of the limited interior peripheral free parking spots with the rain still pouring down as indicated in some of our photos.  Within the running distance of an opened restaurant coupled with the original plan on having lunch in Lucca, we ran for it. 

The restaurant, overflowing with customers coming in from the rain, was a quaint red checkered tablecloth kind of eatery.  Within 10 minutes we were seated at a table busily figuring out the Italian menu. 

I loved my gluten -ree warm seafood salad with mussels, clams, calamari, and octopus on a bed of steamed vegetables.  Tom didn’t enjoy his pizza, a medium-thin crispy crust pizza arriving uncut with sparse toppings, a far cry from our homemade pizza.  With a few menu items he was willing to eat, mostly seafood, he varied from our strict GF diet (with no ill effect for this single occasion).

US $35 later, we were out the door, as the rain gave us a welcomed reprieve to begin our long walk through the walled city.  Our parking spot by the restaurant didn’t require payment with us free to park for the entire period of our self imposed excursion. 

With an excellent map of Lucca in hand, kindly given to us by our new friend Michela, we were able to peruse the majority of the walled city visiting most of the highlighted areas of interest.  The rain was off and on, the heat and humidity consistent but we were content to explore, take photos, and the time rushed by.

Three hours later, we’d seen everything we’d hoped and were anxious to get back into the air-conditioned comfort of the tiny stick shift car. 

In Europe, taking a leak is an issue. One cannot walk into an establishment to use their “WC.”  One must make a purchase and then may pee.  Tom and I have learned to plan accordingly, drinking only one cup of coffee this morning, peeing before we leave the house, drinking no hot or iced tea before leaving and bringing only one bottled water to share, taking small sips as necessary in the heat. 

If we weren’t careful, we’d have had to put “pee” expenses into our budget.  No, thank you.  Pee should be free. We have a receptacle suitable for either of us, that we keep in the little car in the event of an emergency, which, I should mention, has been utilized.  Enough said.

Lucca was an interesting city.  The history of the walled city is here. Rain or no rain we had a good day experiencing yet another aspect of the rich Italian history.

Stop back tomorrow for Part 2 with the remaining photos and commentary.  Thanks as always, for stopping by!