Yeah, to sea level!…Instantly, feeling better…Now the interesting part begins…

The pool at Pikiera Hotel in Manta a quaint little cultural hotel owned by a most charming couple and their daughter, Crystal.

Right now, as I write this, we have been sitting in the little rental car, packed to the roof with our bags, outside the entrance gate to Mirador San Jose. We are waiting for Sylvie, the property manager, to arrive to let us into the gate and then to the house. Beyond these gates is our home for the next 79 days, which we hope has good WiFi and is as nice as the photos as represented in VRBO.

Early in our travels, we were sorely disappointed by a beach house in Placencia, Belize, with fraudulent reviews and no running water. We left in a week and never got our money back. In those days, the holiday rental business was different than it is now.

The bar is to the left of the kitchen, where the owners cooked our breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham.

Our only recourse at that time would have been to sue the owners, and we didn’t want the beginnings of our travels to revolve around dealing with a lawsuit. But now, as we are sitting at the entrance gate, Sylvie hadn’t shown up at 12:45 pm when the plan was 11:00 am, two hours earlier than our original arrival time of 1:00 pm.

This morning at the hotel in Manta, I contacted Igor, the owner, who lives out of the country, and he arranged for her to arrive at 11:00 instead. Sure, she may have had other plans, causing her only to be able to come at 1:00. We shall wait and see. At this point, we have no other option but to wait.

As for yesterday, our travel day, we were able to stay in our hotel room in Quito until 2:00 pm and then spent three hours waiting in the lobby for a Celebrity escort to the airport. We’d prepaid $60 for two extra bags and seamlessly moved toward our gate.

We encountered several roundabouts on the drive from Manta.

I felt so awful from altitude sickness after the second 48 hours in Quito that I couldn’t wait to get on the pressurized airplane. The wait at the gate was short, and the flight was even shorter at only 35 minutes to touchdown.

We ordered a wheelchair for me. In my weakened condition, my legs felt like lead, and I was short of breath, sitting and doing nothing. Within minutes of the airplane doors closing, I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I could breathe, and the lightheadedness immediately dissipated. What a relief!

Parts of the road were barren and desolate and other parts were like a rain forest. As always, taking photos in the fast-moving car wasn’t easy.

When we arrived at the small airport in Manta (population 300,000) in minutes, we had our luggage and exited the area where, for the first time ever, a man stood with an Avis sign waiting to escort us to the little rental car in the parking lot.

Moments later, we were on the road to the quaint Ecuadorian little hotel, Pikeiro Blue, where we have ever stayed, at a rate of $45 a night, cash only. We just needed a place to sleep. But, minimal, it was charming nonetheless. The owner sent his daughter to a little market to buy us two sodas and some cheese.

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and I was hungry, but Tom wasn’t. The lovely English-speaking daughter returned with the sodas and cheese in no time. We tipped her with gratitude. Her parents were so sweet and kind, and we conversed on Google Translate.

It was a joy to see the ocean about halfway through the drive.

The room was spotless, with only bright overhead lighting (no lamps) and two double beds perfectly made. But, the beds were comfortable, the WiFi excellent, and the aircon chilled as we needed.

After a fitful night’s sleep this morning, we showered (cold water only) and dressed to head down to the pool level while the hosts made us breakfast, which was included in the $45. It couldn’t have been a more pleasing cultural experience.

The one-hour drive from Manta was interesting and also cultural. Once we reached the ocean along the highway, we were in awe of the massive waves, ideal for the most experienced surfer, but no surfers were to be seen on the pristine beaches.

A little church along the way.

Today’s photos are from the above-described experiences. Tomorrow, we hope to be back with photos of the house, finding ourselves unpacked and with some groceries on hand.

Hmmm ..we have yet to see a market…what will transpire there? Again, we shall see and report back tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 24, 2013:

Last week in Diani Beach, Kenya, when dining at Sails Restaurant, the moon was in its full glory. A few months after we left Kenya, this restaurant where we ate most Saturday nights was bombed by terrorists on a Saturday evening. For more photos, please click here.

Day 4…Henderson, Nevada…Posting photos from Norway continues today…Friends from Washington coming for dinner today!…

Slot machines in one area of the casino at Green Valley Ranch Spa Resort and Casino in Henderson, Nevada.

Yesterday afternoon, we purchased tickets online to see the movie “Oppenheimer,” which was playing at the Regal Theatre attached to our resort. We were able to get Tom a free small popcorn for signing up for the Regal app, which he used toward the purchase of a giant tub of popcorn that he consumed before the movie began.

The matinee for seniors was $12.50 each, which we thought was reasonable. His popcorn and large Coke came to a total of $8.75, less than what we expected. We hadn’t been to a movie in a long time, so we had no idea what to expect. We picked out our seats in advance and had a good time.

Since there was nothing for me to eat at the theatre suitable for my diet, I didn’t order anything or taste his popcorn. It would be hard to stop at one bite, so I abstained, as I always do. When the three-hour movie ended at 6:36 pm, he wasn’t hungry for dinner, which we expected.

When he was too full for dinner, I’d planned to order a salad-to-go to take to our room, but when the movie ended, I wasn’t hungry and decided not to eat. I didn’t eat again until breakfast this morning, 24 hours later, and felt fine doing so. Tom ordered his usual breakfast of ham and eggs but couldn’t finish it all. He’s still full today from that massive bucket of popcorn.

If you haven’t seen the movie, “Oppenheimer,” we won’t provide any spoilers but can suggest it as a good movie worth sitting still for three hours. We were never bored during the long movie and savored every moment since we seldom go to a movie unless we are in the US for a visit.

This morning, I felt good after my “mini fast” and perhaps may make a regular habit of fasting for 24 hours from time to time, which gives the body a rest from digesting a big meal.

We were able to reserve a comfortable booth in the Lucky Penny, where we’ll have dinner with Rita and Gerhard this evening. They don’t usually take reservations, but I asked the manager if he could reserve the booth so we’d have plenty of room to eat, relax, and catch up without feeling rushed.

We haven’t seen Rita and Gerhard together since 2022, except when Gerhard came alone to Marloth Park to sell the vehicle they’d purchased to use for their time in Marloth Park. They are heading back for a six-week visit next month and will rent a car as we always do. Gerhard had dinner at our place that evening and then took off the next day to return to Bali, in the same villa where we’d stayed years ao.

We are undoubtedly excited about them coming to Las Vegas for less than one day to have the afternoon and evening with us. Before retiring, Gerhard worked in management for an airline, and he and Rita can travel on stand-by when seats are available. They decided Sunday would be a good day to fly here since holidaymakers in Las Vegas are here for the long holiday weekend, ending this Monday after Labor Day. Few would be traveling today.

They’d like to see our hotel room in case they ever decide to stay here, so this morning, we tidied up and are now waiting for the housekeeper to come to clean. The flight they’re hoping to board arrives at 1:00 pm. They will text us when they know they can board, and we’ll be waiting for them at “arrivals” when we know their flight is in. They won’t have any bags since they fly back tonight when we return them to the airport.

How fun! We’re certainly looking forward to a special day with our friends.

Sorry, we don’t have any major photos to share today. We were preoccupied with the movie and going about a typical day at the resort.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 3, 2013:

Goats, a typical local food source, littered the highway as we zoomed past from Mombasa, Kenya, to Diani Beach. For more photos, please click here.

In reviewing the photos we hadn’t been able to post, it appears it will be very time-consuming and complicated to return to each post and add the photos we couldn’t post. As a result, we are posting some of the photos under the heading of each town over days, which can be found after each new day, listed as Part 1, Part 2 Norway, for example.

The new post with the photos is located below:

Part 3…Unpublished photos from the Azamara cruise to Olden, Norway…

Yesterday’s harrowing drive in Boston…Now, we are in Henderson, Nevada…

Pool view from our gorgeous room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada.

Whew! Lots of traveling! Lots of walking! Lots of late hours. We’re a little pooped but holding up well.

Here is our itinerary from the past 31 hours:

  • 9:30 am:  Disembarked Celebrity Summit in Boston. Took an Uber to the rental car facility at the Logon Airport
  • 10:30 am:  Picked up the rental car at Alamo near the airport – highly complex drive from this location
  • 11:00 am: Drove to Embassy Suites Hotel at Logan Airport and received an early check-in
  • 11:30 am: In our room at the hotel, we prepared the post and relaxed for an hour.
  • 3:15 pm: Left the hotel to commence the long drive to meet my cousin Phyllis for dinner in Stoughton, MA. Maps stated it would take about 90 minutes to reach the restaurant due to rush hour traffic. It took two hours in stop-and-go traffic, the worst we’ve experienced in years.
  • 5:15 pm: Reached the restaurant. We had a delightful dinner with Phyllis.
  • 7:30 pm: Headed back toward the airport but decided to drop off the rental car since it was so challenging to drive from the hotel to the car rental facility; we could have a problem getting to the airport by 5:00 am this morning with the road construction and detours in the area.
  • 8:30 pm: Dropped off the rental car and walked to the hotel from the facility. Yikes, it was a long walk for me, but it made no sense to get a taxi when we could see the hotel sign from the rental car building.
  • 9:00 pm: Back at the hotel, planning to go to bed early for our 4:00 am alarm. I didn’t sleep well but got up on time and took the hotel shuttle to the airport
  • 5:30 am: We were able to do curbside check-in for Delta Airlines. After security, we were at the gate an hour before boarding.
  • 6:30 am: Boarded the plane for a 5½ hour flight from Boston to Las Vegas. No food but nuts and chips was served on the plane.
  • 10:00 am: (Three-hour time difference). We arrived in Las Vegas, picked up luggage, and took the tram to a rental car area to wait for the shuttle bus to take us to the rental facility, standing outside in a long queue at 93F, much of which was in the sun.
  • 10:30 am:  Arrived at the rental car area and unloaded the bags, which I watched while Tom got the car taken care of
  • 11:30 am: Left the Las Vegas Airport in the rental car and drove the short distance to the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino in Henderson
  • 11:45 am: Checked in to the resort in the VIP lounge with lots of nice perks for us regular guests.
  • 12:00 pm: Arrived in our well-appointed, beautiful pool view room to a sigh of relief. We only unpacked a few items we’d need in the next 24 hours.

Tom just made me a big mug of Crystal Light lemonade with my metal straw and lots of big chunks of ice.

At 5:00 pm, we’ll head to dinner in one of the many restaurants in this resort for a much-needed meal. Most likely, we’ll be back in our room by 7:00 or 7:30 pm, where we’ll shower again, chill out, and hopefully get a good night’s sleep. Whew! It’s great to settle in for the next nine days until it’s time to leave again.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today,  August 31, 2013:

There wasn’t a post on this date ten years ago since it was a travel day.

Day 2 in Scotland…Sightseeing and sail away tomorrow…

Tom’s Sunday Roast of roast pork loin, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots, and au jus. He said it was delicious.

We haven’t gone sightseeing since we arrived in Scotland less than 48 hours ago. We got caught up on sleep, including a few naps, and feel great. Tomorrow our trusty Uber driver Mo will pick us up in the morning, and we will go sightseeing in Edinburgh until our scheduled time to board the ship at 1:30 pm at the port of Leith.

I had asked for the dressing on the side, so they took my plate away and returned with the plain prawns with the sauce on the side.

Since our hotel is over an hour from Edinburgh, it made sense to go sightseeing this way. Plus, the round trip cost to the hotel using an Uber is over US $260 with tips. This way, if we go sightseeing before boarding the ship, we save hundreds of dollars and hours of driving time.

Sure, we could have booked a hotel in Edinburgh, but we hadn’t budgeted over $1500 for the waiting time before the cruise, which was very expensive. Living this life on a budget has limitations, and we must make practical decisions along the way.

I gave Tom my chips, but he didn’t have room for them after eating Sunday Roast.

Always booking our preferred balcony cabins with perks on both cruises (as always) was more important to us. Besides, after almost 11 years of world travel, we have seen more historic castles and buildings than we ever imagined possible, especially in The UK and Europe.

But tomorrow, we’ll see the highlight with Mo driving us through Edinburgh. We will post those photos on the first few days of the cruise and then start posting cruise photos from there on.

Horizons restaurant in the Bay Hotel.

At the end of the first cruise, 16 days later, we will fly from Amsterdam to Reykjavik, Iceland, to embark on the next two weeks’ cruise with one overnight stay required. We’d already done an extensive tour in Reykjavik several years ago, thus we won’t be sightseeing there. A month from now, we’ll be disembarking in Boston, where we will stay one night to see my cousin, Phyllis.

Then we fly to Nevada for nine nights and then to Minnesota for one month before leaving for Ecuador. It’s just the right amount of being busy for us, especially having fun times with family members and friends in both locations.

An antique double-decker bus in Burntisland.

I have managed to keep my computer running on its battery reserve by not using it much to prepare the post, instead doing most of it on my phone. If I observe it carefully, I can get through today.

But tomorrow, I won’t post until after we get on the ship, and I can charge it for a while. It only takes about an hour to fully charge it. That will give us plenty of time to get unpacked and settled.

The side of the double-decker bus.

So, hang tight, dear readers. We will have plenty of photos coming up in the next few days and after that.

Today is rainy and overcast, which is not unusual for Scotland. We’re actually glad we don’t have plans today. But tomorrow, rain or shine, we’ll be on the move. It’s exciting, and also we are enjoying our time at this lovely hotel and simply being together.

Sign on the side of the historic double-decker bus.

Still…no headache, no face pain. Thrilled beyond belief!!!

Be well!

Photo from ten years ago today, July 31, 2013:

The opposite side of the archway in a historic building in Lucca, Tuscany, above as we entered the Piazza Napoleone square that housed government offices in these unique structures. For more photos, please click here.

We have a plan…Two days and counting, on the move…

Yummy-looking treats were left in our cabin during the cruise. Of course, I didn’t eat them, but surprisingly neither did Tom.

It’s exhausting whatever we do right now: bending over to pick up and put on my shoes, going downstairs to order our dinner, or waiting in the lobby while the housekeeper cleans our room. This morning we both hand-washed some of our clothes while taking a shower. It took everything we had to wring out the wet items and hang them up.

Sure, we could use the laundry service, but my pair of pajamas that I hand washed would have cost the following for the two pieces: GBP 12.00, US $15.26. I think I paid less than that amount for those PJs when Old Navy had a sale years ago. A single tee-shirt is GBP 5.95, US $7.57. Again, we didn’t pay a lot more for our tee shirts.

Recently, I purchased about ten tee shirts of excellent quality from Amazon for US $17.99 each that most likely will last me for years. It makes no sense to have them laundered and dried in a too-hot clothes dryer by the hotel’s laundry service. We rarely dry our clothes in a dryer as we travel the world. Hanging them makes them last twice as long.

It reminded us of those ten long months we spent in lockdown in India when we hand-washed our clothes. We each only wore three outfits and recycled them over and over again. It was a wise decision at the time, and we’re finding it to be a smart one now.

In the past 24 hours, we devised a plan to allow us to see family as planned and avoid losing much on booked airfare and hotels. With this plan, the only fight we’ll lose is the one we booked from New York to Minneapolis when the Queen Mary 2, the sailing we missed due to having Covid, disembarks on May 1.

We have researched how long after testing positive and being sick with Covid, we might expect a negative test. It can be as little as five days or as long as months. Instead, we will book a flight out of Gatwick directly to Minneapolis once we test negative.

If we can’t get a negative test after we’ve recovered, the airlines will accept a doctor’s letter stating we are no longer contagious and are safe to travel. This letter will be in lieu of a negative test. Of course, we don’t want to be stuck in England for weeks or months if one or both of us can’t produce a negative test, which can happen.

That being said, we are hopeful we’ll both test negative by May 1, a mere five days from today. Are we still sick? Yep. Coughing and exhaustion are the significant symptoms right now. But, a lot can happen in five days. Five days ago, we were isolated on the ship, first testing positive and feeling awful. We’re greatly improved from that point.

This Thursday, a driver will pick us up at this hotel at 11:00 am and transport us from Southampton to London to a Courtyard by Marriott near the Gatwick airport. It’s a 90-minute drive. The cost of this private transport is GBP 200, UD $254.31, pricey by any standards. But, based on how we were feeling, the thought of going by train and dealing with our bags was unbearable. We’d rather spend money on this than on laundry.

We hoped to arrive in Minneapolis on May 1, but a few days longer won’t be a problem. This weekend is a “bank holiday” in England, and the airport could be chaotic. We won’t book a flight until we both test negative or get a doctor’s letter. Of course, neither of us cares to fly until we feel a little better, so staying a few days longer won’t be an issue.

The only time constraint facing us during this period in the US is our booked flight and hotel to Las Vegas/Henderson on May 15. Surely, we’ll make that fight and our booked fight back to South Africa on May 22. One way or another, it will all work out.

There it is, folks, a solution to our current dilemma, albeit with a few twists and turns along the way.

Your comments and best wishes mean the world to us! Thanks to so many of our readers who wrote with tips for Covid and suggestions on making this exit work for us. We figured out a solution that works for us in due time in our usual way.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2021:

This is our boy, Torn Ear. Enlarge the photo to see his left ear is torn. For more photos, please click here.

Day #290 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…2 days and counting…Covid-19 tests done!…

The excellent staff served us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn’t be more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone’s temperature this morning.

Today’s few photos are a continuation of those we posted during our first few months in India on tour, in today’s case, on March 30, 2020. See the post here. We’ll continue on this path, sharing more tour photos until it’s time for us to depart on January 11, 2021, hopefully. From there, God willing, it will be an entirely new world!

When I reviewed past posts from 2020, searching for photos to post here today, I ran across the post from March 30, 2020, with a heading that read: “Please unfriend me, if…Social media during the lockdown.” After uploading that post, I referred to it on my Facebook page, asking any “friends” that felt compelled to post negative comments during the lockdown to feel free to unfriend me. Only one such “friend” did so. None of us needed to see toxic vitriol during this challenging time.

Overall, other than political jokes and some negative comments here and there, my Facebook page has been friendly and uplifting since that time. Of course, advertising has been annoying, as I’m sure they’ve been for all FB users. It’s not that I spend much time on Facebook but, at night, when sleep is elusive, I scroll through zillions of posts, mainly from “groups” I’ve chosen to follow,  geared toward the masses as opposed to me specifically. That works for me.

From time to time, when I encounter an offensive (to me) post, I click to “hide this post” to remove it from my view and those who may be following me. There may be one of these every other day. I’ve yet to begin using Twitter and Instagram because I already spend enough time on my phone and laptop.

During the lockdown in India, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport has created this heart image as a show of supports using lights in various hotel rooms.

This may change at some point, but lately, there hasn’t been much to say or share based on these ten months in lockdown. I didn’t want to be wracking my brain every day, trying to find something noteworthy to post on either of these. Tom and I are good at sharing our views and seldom feel a need to express them elsewhere.

Now, as our departure time nears, we’re wrapping up a few tasks. This morning we sent our proof of health insurance and both of our Indian visa extensions to the front desk to print. Finally, last night, my extension approval came through, which was a huge relief. Without proper stretching, there’s a possible fine of US $500, INR 36,690, per person for an “overstay.” Also, not having an extension could result in delays which may result in missing a flight.

This morning, a rep/phlebotomist, well masked and wearing protective (PPI) gear from a certified diagnostic lab in Mumbai, arrived at our room for our Covid-19 PCR test and the antigen test which we may have done needlessly.  When we became ill with an awful virus on our last cruise, which ended on November 8, 2019, we both had horrific coughs that lingered for two months. I had to seek medical care and inhalation therapy to be able to breathe. We both had the most dreadful coughs of our lives.

Although unlikely that it was Covid at that early date, we’ve always wondered if it was possible. The antigen test will put those thoughts to rest. The PCR test is required by the airlines and the countries we’ll be entering during the upcoming flights. The cost of the two tests for both of us was US $41.77, INR 3060, done right here, right at the hotel outside of our room door.

After we’d read how uncomfortable the test was for so many people, we were surprised to discover it was no big deal whatsoever. For the antigen test, a blood draw was required, here again, quick and painless. We’ll have the results in our email within 24 hours, perfect for our departure on Monday morning. We’ll print several copies of each.

Right now, as I write this, in 48 hours, we’ll be landing in Dubai. It’s hard to imagine we’ll be on our way. Please stay with us as we wrap up these last few days.

Stay safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, January 9, 2020:

 A dazzle of zebras in an open field from a two-year-old post. For the year-ago post, when we included the cost of our 55-day tour of India, eventually cut short, please click here.

Day #252 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Time for some “whinging” (British for complaining)…

Big Daddy Kudu by candlelight as darkness fell. Soon, we’ll be there once again.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2018 while living in the bush in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more on the story, please click here.

We see this same gecko almost every day on this same tree area in front of the veranda.  It appears to change colors from time to time.

The glow from booking plans to return to Marloth Park, South Africa, departing India on January 12, 2021, hasn’t diminished for me as I count down the days (Tom prefers not to count down). Right now, it’s 43 days until we depart in the middle of the night for the airport. May I say this with tongue in cheek?

  • 3,715,200 seconds
  • 61,920 minutes
  • 1032 hours
  • 43 days
  • Six weeks and one day
    Giraffe in the neighborhood. We never tire of seeing these beautiful animals.

Whew! It can’t go fast enough for either of us. There are few times in our eight years of world travel that we’ve wished for time to fly quickly. After all, when one gets to a “certain age,” we certainly want time to move slowly, but somehow it does not. Wishing or not, we seem to have no control over our perception of the creeping of time.

Besides the obvious, why are we so impatient after over eight months so far? There are a few reasons which we’ll share here today. I need to whine, whinge, complain a little, so please bear with me. If someone had told us that we had to spend even 43 days in a hotel room, with a worldwide pandemic raging around us, unable to risk going outdoors, literally stuck in an average-sized hotel room, only able to order room service and walk the corridors, I would have said, “No way!”

A determined walk along the fence by the Crocodile River.

But, here we are, and those 43 days loom over us like a very long time, especially right now, after eight months of doing this. Part of what has made the concept of these extremely challenging the next 43 days is that Indians have planned weddings for this period when COVID-19 lockdown restrictions impact the usual March through October season.

Subsequently, this hotel is packed with careless wedding guests with nary concerns about wearing face masks, social distancing, taking any other COVID-19 sensible precautions, and who smoke in the stairwell and their rooms in this non-smoking hotel. In reality, Tom and I should stop walking in the corridors now and not begin walking again until we arrive in South Africa.

The Crocodile River after sunset.

However, after working so diligently at my 5 miles, 8 km, in the corridors, each day, for all this time. If I stop now, I will lose all my vital conditioning in the next 43 days. I don’t walk to entertain myself. I walk to improve my cardiovascular health and avoid sitting in a chair for 16 hours a day.

It baffles me. When guests check-in here, they are explicitly informed there is a strict mask-wearing, other than when inside their rooms and the mandatory social distancing policy in this hotel, to protect themselves and other guests and the staff. Imagine how hard it has been for all employees who have slept here every night for many months, unable to leave the hotel to avoid infecting others from going out into the city or to their homes.

A beam of light reflected off the camera at sunset on the river.

Every half hour when I leave the room to walk, I encounter no less than six guests not wearing masks, often coming face to face with me when they storm outside their rooms without a mask. The staff has become very conscientious in wearing their masks properly, although we had to remind several of them to cover their noses early on.

We don’t allow the room service person in our room. The cleaner has to put on clean gloves before entering our space and keep a mask on while cleaning our room. Our cups and glasses must be washed before cleaning anything in our room. Previously, they’d wash the glasses after scrubbing the bathroom wearing the same gloves. We had to squawk about all of these for them to get it right.

Mom and four piglets stop by several times a time.

We’re tired of all of this. We’re tired of telling no less than 25 guests a day to put on a mask when we see them barging out of their rooms, often without even a mask in hand or heading to the elevators without a mask. I’m tired of complaining to the hotel managers. They, too, are frustrated. People don’t care.

We’re tired of guests staying in the room next to ours, never turning off their phone’s ring or vibration during the night, often waking us every 10 minutes. The two room’s beds back up to one another, and the walls aren’t soundproofed. We can hear everything.

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stopped by at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.

We’re tired of the room on the other side of us with their door slamming all night long when the guests head to the stairwell to smoke at 2:00 am, 3:00 am, 4:00 am. We’re tired of the noisy wedding night where the entire hotel seems to vibrate from the loud music often until 4:30 am.

Gosh, please give me the sounds of the noisy hadeda birds (listen here) flying overhead at dusk, the exciting roar of a lion in the middle of the night, the insistent chirping of a hornbill pecking at the window for more seeds, or the hysterical sounds of warthogs snorting in the garden.

Tom took this early morning photo of a wound on yet another warthog which appears to be healing. Warthogs are sturdy and hardy animals that often survive serious injury without any intervention by humans.

Forty-three more days, forty-three more days…

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2019:

Chase, Susan’s adorable Yorkie. One year ago today, I saw my dear sister Susan, who’s since passed away. For more, please click here.

Day #221 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Kenya anniversary holiday, seven years ago…

A morning view of our tucked-away ocean cottage at The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya, when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our first anniversary of world travel. Tomorrow is our eighth anniversary of embarking on our world journey. For more from this date, please click here.

The restaurant has opened in the hotel. If we so chose, we may now dine there. As we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, sitting in our comfy chairs in our hotel room, with trays on our laps, I doubt we’ll change our routine. I think this may be the case for the duration, for however long that may be.

Finally, we were able to take photos of the elusive Colobus Monkey. Note the long sideburns. 

What a fantastic three-night stay at The Sands at Nomad Resort! They treated us like royalty, knowing we’d be documenting our entirely unnecessary experiences. Today’s photos bring back many pleasant memories, which bring a smile to our faces during this challenging time.

Many times we ask for special pricing for several reasons:

  1. We’ll be promoting the business, not only while we’re on the premises, but also for years to come via our website
  2. In most cases, we’ll be staying longer than most guests
  3. We have acquired a five-star rating as renters from past property owners and property managers
Another Colobus with the long swatches of hair. Not all of them had these particular markings.

As in the case of those mentioned above short three-night stay, our special pricing included a discount of 30% off the regular room rates. We were happy with that at the time. But, now, after researching online, their prices have increased by 40%. Today, their room rates range from a low of US $329, INR 24551, to a high of US $418, INR 31192, per night. Such prices would be beyond our reach if we could return to Kenya anytime soon.

We had such a good time during those three days. During our three months in Kenya, other than the apprehension we felt for our safety due to high crime risks, Our favorite restaurant, Sails, which we visited many Saturday nights, was bombed by terrorists a month after leaving.

After returning from the pool where the umbrellas provided too much shade, Tom did a quick 20 minutes in the sun on one of the chaise lounges in our front yard.

We were ill-advised about renting a car while in Kenya, even in the more upscale area of Diani Beach, due to the high risk of carjackings. Instead, our landlord provided us with the name of a reliable local man who drove us everywhere. Based on these facts we didn’t go sightseeing as much as we have in other countries.

It was while we were in Kenya that the horrific attack transpired at a shopping mall in Nairobi. Even at the grocery store, the taxi was searched by military staff carrying rifles, and we were searched upon entering the market or the phone store where we purchased data. Military personnel was stationed at every ATM.

The chaise lounges at our ocean cottage, where fresh towels are delivered each day.

Our family members and many friends/readers contacted us to ensure we were ok. But, Diani Beach is an almost 10-hour drive from Nairobi. The fact our house and the owner’s house next door were guarded by two guards in two 12-hour shifts seven days a week provided us with a modicum of peace of mind, especially at night.

We had a red emergency button next to our bed, and the windows throughout the house had steel bars on all windows. At night, we had to close the windows due to the mosquitos and other insects when there were no screens on the windows. The house became a hotbox during the night with only a slow-moving ceiling fan over the bed.

Early this morning as we left our cottage for breakfast in the main restaurant.

Why did we go to Kenya? To be able to visit the Maasai Mara for our first safari experiences. But, we are grateful for the time we had in Kenya, which toughened us up. The fantastic local people we met, who were warm and kind, and the rich cultural experiences were presented to us in one way or another, day after day.

Kenya is now open for tourists, and occasionally, there are a few odd flights out of Mumbai. But, based on the above scenarios, neither of us feels it makes sense to return at this time. We long for the freedom of movement, driving, shopping, and dining out, all of which will be possible when and if we can return to Marloth Park, South Africa.

A sunny view from our veranda to the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa have very high crime rates, as shown here:

Countries with the Highest Crime Rates (from this site)

The countries with the ten highest crime rates in the world are:

  1. Venezuela (84.36)
  2. Papua New Guinea (80.04)
  3. South Africa (77.29)
  4. Afghanistan (76.97)
  5. Honduras (76.65)
  6. Trinidad and Tobago (72.43)
  7. Brazil (68.31)
  8. Guyana (68.15)
  9. El Salvador (67.84)
  10. Syria (67.42)

Marloth Park, in itself, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, has its share of crime from time to time, mainly burglaries of the bush homes, occupied by both locals or tourists. Let’s face it, many cities in the US are not safe right now either.

This adorable cat came to visit daily as we sat on the veranda of our beach cottage.

The bottom line is, “you can run, but you can’t hide.” Of course, with COVID-19, that becomes another consideration for which countries will accept us and their subsequent restrictions for US citizens and those arriving from India. In time, it will all come to fruition, won’t it?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2019:

Bartenders are performing tricks at the Ice Bar on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

Day #219 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Living large, living small, living in the moment…

We could only imagine how beautiful our photos would have been on a sunny day, which had started bright and clear, turning to rain shortly after we left. We still had a fabulous day! That’s life in the tropics.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while living in Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji. For more from this date, please click here.

Today’s heading above, “Living large, living small, living in the moment” from this date in 2015, prompted me to use it once again, five years later. Could it ever be more appropriate than now?

Our then home in Savusavu was located approximately 1/3 of the way in from the point in this photo. 

In that post, so long ago, I wrote:

“We try to live in the moment. Overall, we’re good at it. Today, a bright, sunny day with clear blue skies makes it nearly impossible to do otherwise. We’re in Fiji, which we discussed many times as we planned our travels when tropical island holidays came to mind.

In this meaningful life, in the big world, each day, we strive to live “small,” wrapped up in the trivialities of our every day. We appreciate the call of a mating bird, a determined crowing rooster, an annoyed mooing cow, or the stuttered baa we often hear from a lonely kid goat.

The point, close to the home in Savusavu, from across the bay.

We watch the cruise ships, large and small, waft by each day in our magnificent ocean view. Often at night, with their lights bright, we easily imagine the festivities and lively banter occurring on deck, knowing in a little over two months, we’ll be doing the same.

When we think of the future, it’s hard not to speculate, anticipate, and become outrageously excited, knowing full well what lies ahead of us. Even after we’ve visited each continent, there will be so much left to see: the Northern Lights from Norway, a Baltic cruise, the Black Sea, more river cruises, the USA and Canada, and countries throughout the world we’ll have yet to see.”

We passed several small villages while sightseeing.

And now, while here during this ongoing lockdown in Mumbai, India, certainly not as scenic and culturally interesting as Fiji, and yet, there still are moments we find ourselves stopping to treasure a small thing; a bird alighting on our window sill and singing a song; the fireworks on the eve of a Hindu holiday celebration; the kindness of a staff member; and often, the caring and thoughtful messages from our readers from all over the world.

As for “living large,” this is not that time. If any of us stopped relishing “living in the moment,” life would have little meaning. Perhaps in years to come (if we are so blessed), telling this peculiar story to strangers on a cruise ship, or that we meet somewhere along the way, will find us feeling grateful for this life experience and how it may have changed or enriched us in one way or another.

Cows are always curious, and we laughed when this grazing cow picked up her head to check us out.

Every day, I stop my mind from spinning to appreciate that as hard as this may be, I am alive; where had I not had emergency open-heart surgery 20 months ago, I may not be here today to tell this story. If, at the time, I was offered a choice of life, living in a hotel room for a year with my love and companion Tom or, death, most certainly, I’d have chosen the hotel room. There is much to be grateful for.

So, perhaps, this time is all about “living small,” knowing that tonight, after eating dinner on our laps, we’ll watch three more episodes of The Walking Dead (we’re now wrapping up season five). Last night, we laughed out loud, saying how grateful we are to be stuck in this room and not fighting zombies due to that type of pandemic.

It was raining when we stopped to take photos of these fish ponds.

A cup of coffee or tea, a meal prepared exactly as expected, a hearty chuckle from a podcast, or the glint in our eyes when we look at one another, knowing full well, someday, this small existence will change and once again we’ll have the opportunity to “live largely.”

Stay healthy, dear readers, as we all look forward to the future while we continue to strive to “live in the moment.”

Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2019:

The digital 3D presentation on our table and plates at Qsine Restaurant aboard the ship. What a delightful experience. The tabletop is a plain white blank canvas, making such colorful presentations possible. For more photos, please click here.

Day #214 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Fun story about us in a Minnesota podcast…Listen up, folks!…

On this date in 2013, we finally spotted a bushbaby eating a banana next to us at dinner as we dined outdoors at the Leopard Beach Resort. A small platform was set up for the bushbabies loaded with bananas to encourage them to visit the guests while eating.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

In 1993, Tom started listening to a radio show, most often on his way to work entitled, Garage Logic, often commenting to me how much he enjoyed listening to the show. When we began our journey in 2012, he could still listen to the shows via the internet.

Often, I’d listen to the shows in the background while I prepared each day’s post, chuckling from time to time, easily understanding why he enjoyed it so much. In a way, it kept him in touch with his lifelong history of living in Minneapolis, Minnesota (except for these past eight years).

Although extremely shy, bushbabies aren’t tame and are very cautious around scary-looking humans. Their bulgy eyes cause the flash to reflect off their eyeballs, presenting this eerie look. When we selected our table close to the trees, little did we know that we’d be as close as we could get to their natural habitat?

In 2018, the sports-related radio station dropped the show. With a vast and enthusiastic following in Minnesota and throughout the country, the show moved to broadcast via podcast, which may be found at this link. Once they began podcasting, Tom continued to listen regularly, sometimes the latest day’s episode (always one day late for us), or multiple episodes during the times we were out sightseeing, had a poor WiFi connection, or were on the move.

Tom, also multitasks on other websites while listening more intently than I do. The show has become a staple for me while posting each day, listening in and out as I work diligently to get each new day’s story and photos uploaded. At times, I am so engrossed in the details of the daily post. I miss an entire show.

On and off over the years, Tom sent Joe Soucheray, the head podcaster, various articles about Minnesota from This Day in Minnesota History. Occasionally, he’d mention Tom’s name as having sent in the information they’d include over the air. Joe would sometimes say, “Tom Lyman from Marloth Park, South Africa,” or “Tom Lyman from Bali, Indonesia” and such.

Ordering the seafood platter for two resulted in a fabulous meal we enjoyed, each receiving our huge platter. That sure looks especially good now!.

Early on, we noticed Joe stating, “Only, because they come from Mumbai, India, (with a huge emphasis on these words), our friend, Tom Lyman…” Once we became “stuck” in lockdown in Mumbai, India, in March 2020, Tom started sending in an email each day of the five days the show is a podcast. And then, he’d proceed to share the story about Minnesota that Tom had sent in.

Each of those five weekdays, we’d laugh out loud as Joe mentioned the above statement, and in our boredom during this lockdown, we particularly enjoyed hearing him say “Tom Lyman.” For us, it became a highlight of those five days a week.

During this period, many listeners to Garage Logic have written to Tom commenting on how much they enjoy hearing his name mentioned on the podcast while we’ve lived under these unusual circumstances. As a matter of fact, at the end of yesterday’s post (found here), a reader commented, “And because you come to us daily in your posts to the GL Podcast, it seems I have yet another vehicle at my disposal with which to chase the Covid Blues away. You two take care, you hear? Good Luck.”

Tom’s platter included white rice. He ate everything on his plate, except he moved the calamari, cauliflower, and broccoli to my plate.

We can’t help but chuckle, all the while appreciating such comments. Funnily, it connects us to the world and Tom, notably his birthplace, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Every contact with the outside world means so much to us, now more than ever.

Joe mentions us on the October 21st podcast, wondering why we’re still in Mumbai, India. We wrote back, and he read our response over the air on the October 22nd podcast for over three minutes, found here at the point where it was 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 53 seconds (01:10:53) into the podcast (in the event you prefer not to listen to the entire podcast) where Joe tells our story.

This put big smiles on our faces, brightening yet another relatively repetitive and boring day in lockdown. Feel free to share those smiles with us by listening to our mention on Garage Logic.

While at the bar, we noticed this cigar menu. Tom had hoped to order a Cuban cigar to enjoy in our outdoor living room, but for whatever reason, they were out. Not a cigar aficionado, he had no clue as to an alternative, so he passed.  (KES $1000 = US $11.76).

Have a great day!

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

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The Leonardo Southampton, Royal Grand Harbour hotel, stayed for two nights one year ago while awaiting a cruise to the US to see family. (Not our photos). For more photos, please click here.