Closer to home than we think…A personal story…Five years ago, a little shop in Kauia, Hawaii…

We could watch and hear the church bells when we lived in Boveglio, Italy in the summer of 2013. This particular video is very popular on our YouTube page. Click here for the post on which we included this video

As I wrote today’s post starting with the headline, I smiled. “A personal story?” All of our stories are personal in one way or another. Today is no exception.


At times, people ask, “How do you feel comfortable revealing so much of your personal life online?”


My answer is always the same, “One of the reasons people all over the world read our posts is due to this very fact. If this was just a travel blog with photos of tourist locations, hotels, and restaurant reviews, we wouldn’t have kept the interest of readers for so many years.”


It’s the raw reality of our daily lives that inspires us to keep writing each day, that so easily comes from the heart, enabling my fingers to fly across the keyboard with barely a moment of concentration or forethought. “Writer’s block” doesn’t dwell herein.

Actually, this is the only health food store, Healthy Hut, within a half-hour drive of our holiday home in Kauai, Hawaii. The inventory is ripe with fresh, locally grown organic produce, grass-fed meats, free-range chickens and eggs and food and health supplies one would find in a much larger location in a big city. Pricey? Yep! For the full story from five years ago today, please click here.

Yes, many of our prior posts consisted of suggesting where to go and what to see in various parts of the world. We love sharing those tidbits of information with associated photos and links.


But, now, in isolation, without being “out there” sightseeing, shopping, socializing and feeling a “part of the world,” an entirely tunnel-vision-type approach has overcome me. It’s all about us and what we’re thinking, feeling and experiencing while locked down in a hotel room in Mumbai, India for an indefinite period.



Certainly, most of our readers can relate to our isolation when you, too, are literally trapped in your homes, facing the complexity of myriad problems, which include emotional, physical and financial concerns.

I was surprised to find many of the products I needed to make my recently posted recipe for Low Carb High Fat Protein Bars, my new favorite recipe. Click this link if you missed the recipe.

In many ways, it’s easier for us. Sure, I’d like to be able to cook a meal, have a glass of wine, do laundry and stay busy around the house. But, we have little responsibility other than to stay active, eat two meals a day and pay for our hotel and dinners (breakfast is included). 


Financially, this lockdown doesn’t impact us one way or another. We’d be paying rent for a holiday home, groceries, supplies and the occasional dinner out. Our hotel bill here is no more than we’d have paid for a holiday home and the dinners, not much more than we’d have paid for groceries and dining out.


But, for those of you out of work as you continue to incur household and living expenses, this dreadful time can only be worrisome and frightening, along with fears about the virus impacting your family and friends. Our hearts go out to all of you.


Of course, we worry about our family and friends, but based on frequent communication it seems everyone is hunkered down to the best of their ability, wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing their hands.


Although our situation is by no means not dire at this point, we aren’t exempt from worry and concern. My dear sister Susan, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada who’s been bedridden for many years with a variety of serious medical conditions, took an awful fall a few days ago, one of many she’s experienced over the years.

Seeing pumpkins and squash reminds us of crisp, cool fall in Minnesota as I stood admiring this at a comfortable 82 degrees.

She is now is a coronavirus free hospital after having many tests that determined she has been suffering numerous small strokes, causing her to fall many times over the years, often incurring brain bleeds and injuries. In addition, she has COPD, congestive heart failure and severe chronic pain syndrome. (Bad genes in my family).


For the past nine months, she has been living in a lovely assisted living facility in Las Vegas, which, to date, hasn’t had any cases of COVID-19. I spent many delightful afternoons with her when we stayed in Nevada in November 2019. 


I baked a few of her favorite desserts (from our childhood) at son Richard’s house in Henderson and brought them to her when I visited each day. We laughed and told stories while cherishing every moment together. On December 9th, when we left Nevada it was hard to say goodbye, not certain we’d ever be together again.


Based on US Medicare requirements when a patient/senior is hospitalized and still a bit unstable, they require the patient to go to the rehabilitation center before they can return to their former living arrangements.


With all the news of COVID-19 impacting rehab and nursing facilities, my dear sister is terrified of being forced to go to one of these facilities before she can return to her assisted living facility where she’s been content and comfortable.

The shelves were packed with beauty products, snacks and treat, none of which we purchase.

My sister Julie, my niece Kely, Susan’s adult daughter, both of whom live in California, and I, have been on the phone trying to attend to her care the best way we can. No visitors are allowed in the hospital to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. She was injured during the fall and is in considerable pain along with the chronic discomfort of her other medical conditions. This is heartbreaking.


We are trying to avoid the requirement of her going to the rehab facility which emotionally would be devastating for her. Although we are grateful she doesn’t have the virus, if she did become infected she wouldn’t survive. 


I am sure many of you are experiencing similar situations throughout the world with family members not only alone in the hospital without the possibility of visitors, but also, other medical conditions that require care and treatment during this difficult time.


These are tough times for all of us in our own ways. We pray for the safety and well-being for ourselves, and all of our loved ones wherever they may be. May this devastation soon end.

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Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2019:

This morning, this Hornbill stood on the top of the door to let Tom know it was time to eat. Tom came running outdoors to comply with his fervent request. For more photos, please click here.


Final expenses for 31-nights in a hotel in Buenos Aires…We’re off to Ushuaia!…


Due to the poor signal in this crowded Wi-Fi cafe in Ushuaia, we’re unable to upload any photos.  As mentioned in earlier posts, we’ll continue to make every effort to maintain our usual style of posts.  Please excuse any typos and formatting issues.
 
 
Yesterday was quite a busy day and today won’t be much different. By the time you see this post, we’ll be at the airport getting ready to leave Buenos Aires to fly on a chartered plane to Ushuaia, Argentina, where we’ll board Ponant’s Le Soleal to begin our expedition to Antarctica.

We’ve been excited about this for a very long time.  The situation with my knee put a bit of a damper on our enthusiasm but now that I am on meds to hopefully alleviate the discomfort, we’ll be able to settle in on the cruise and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Getting out the door in the middle of the night wouldn’t be my preference.  For Tom, after 42.5 years on the railroad, he was used to getting up and out the door at all hours of the day and night.  But, now after retirement, even he cringed at the early hour.

Today, we wanted to share two important aspects of the 31-nights we spent in Palermo Soho Buenos Aires, Argentina; one, the reasonable expenses we incurred staying in the Prodeo Hotel, a fine boutique hotel and two, a short review of the hotel itself.

First, let’s start with the expenses we incurred in total for the 31-night stay in the Prodeo as shown beloW: (Due to a poor Wi-Fi signal, we’re experiencing formatting issues):





















































 Expense   US Dollar   Argentine Pesos 
 Hotel – 31 nights $                  2,480.00 47,076.69
Flight – Round trip- inc
in cruise
                  –               –
 Taxi   $                       65.31 1,239.75
 Groceries & Dining
out- inc tips 
 $                     987.87                     18.752.28
 Laundry  $                        56.00 1,063.02
 Tips for hotel staff   $                     158.05 3,000.19
 Pharmacy & Misc.   $                     477.52 7,157.48
 Total   $                  4,224.75 59,537.13
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     136.28 1,920.55


We’re thrilled to have spent this amount while staying in a hotel and dining out every night, the exception when we purchased groceries for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day when most restaurants were closed or only offered outrageous prices on fixed price meals, not suitable for our budget or, my dietary restrictions.


Compared to the cost for groceries, rental cars and vacation/holiday homes, this was surely a bargain.  And we imagine, that a traveler desiring a month in this fascinating country could even do better with proper planning and careful spending.

Would we return to Buenos Aires in the future?  Possibly, with our plans to return to South America in the distant future for some specific sites we’d like to visit such as Machu Picchu, the Galapagos and the Pantanal. 

A contributing factor to our enjoyment in the area has been the quaint and charming Prodeo Hotel, a contemporary boutique hotel, architecturally interesting in a fantastic location, staffed by some of the finest people in the land.  We generously tipped all of the staff members who made this stay memorable.

During this less-than-busy summer season in Buenos Aires, there were many days we were the only hotel guests.  However, whether it was a full house or we were the only guests, we were always treated with the utmost of kindness, generosity and attention.

As shown in the above expenses, we booked the hotel through a corporate rate at US $80 (ARS 1,532) a night, a reasonable rate for this busy city with many other hotels twice as much of more.  No doubt, our long stay helped us with pricing but the competitive nature of boutique hotels does allow for some special pricing from time to time.  It never hurts to ask.

Any issues while we were here?  The power went out four times when the city was having problems.  Our bathroom sink wouldn’t drain but with a few hours of bringing it to the attention of staff, it was repaired. 

Housekeeping was inconsistent at times but our room was always clean and well-kept.  The complimentary breakfast was repetitive, most of which we don’t eat (fruit, granola, cakes, bread, etc.) we appreciated the daily sliced ham, cheese and hard boiled eggs.  Tom enjoyed the coffee while I sipped on my turmeric tea concoction each morning. 

The atmosphere is pleasing, comfortable and inviting.  The bar has many types of beverages from fine wines to eclectic beer and serves some traditional Argentine empanada and other types of local food (none of which I could eat).  We never dined in the bar/dining room but enjoyed drinks from time to time.

The intimate hospitality by far surpasses that one may find in a large hotel and we’ve found we particularly have found smaller hotels tend to suit our needs.
We highly recommend Prodeo Hotel for you next visit to Palermo, Buenos Aires.

Moving right along, we’re currently sitting at a tiny table at a tiny little bar with Wi-Fo in Ushuaia.  We did fine getting up at 2:30 am and getting out the door in time for our 3:15 taxi to the airport.  Check in was a bit challenging and time consuming but, the flight on Aerolineas, an Argentine airline was seamless.

We both watched a free movie, Hacksaw Ridge, a stunning movie on our individual monitors during the flight while the 3.5 hours passed quickly. Once we collected our bags we were off to the bus with our Ponant group of passengers.

After a ride through the gorgeous town of Ushuaia, recognized as the most southerly city in the world or “the bottom of the world,” we headed to a local Accor Hotel for a magnificent buffet lunch with many foods I could have.

At our assigned table of English speaking passengers, we met two fun couples and had a taste of the lively conversation yet to come with our cruise mates, most of whom are serious world travelers.  Not, necessarily like us, but world traveled, none the less.

We’ll be back with more as Wi-Fi allows, hoping to be able to stay in touch with all of you!

Take care until then!

____________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2017:

Andrew and Ian Smith, father, and son and innovative owners/managers of Willie Smith Organic Apple Cider and Apple Shed, including restaurant, cider shop and museum. (Not our photo).  For more photos of this popular landmark in Tasmania, please click here.