New itinerary…We’re booked almost through the end of May!!!…What a task!!!…Hot today, 100F, 38C!!!

A lone waterbuck on the bank of the Crocodile River at sunset.

We spent most of the day between my walking and posting yesterday, booking everything we needed to get us through May 22. That doesn’t seem far away. But here’s our basic itinerary and what we’d already had booked, including what we booked on Sunday.

  1. March 24 – Arrive in Florida, staying with friends Karen and Rich – Booked: Rental car.
  2. April 8 – Transatlantic cruise, 13 nights, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Southampton, UK
  3. April 21 – 24 – Hotel for three nights in Southampton, UK (no car)
  4. April 24 – Transatlantic cruise, 7 nights, from Southampton to New York – Cunard Queen Mary 2
  5. May 1 – Booked flight from New York to Minneapolis, Minnesota
  6. May 1 – Booked rental car and hotel for 14 nights (staying in Eden Prairie, Minnesota)
  7. May 15 – Booked flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas
  8. May 15 – Booked rental car and hotel in Henderson, Nevada (staying in Henderson, Nevada)
  9. May 22 – Check out the hotel in Henderson – We don’t know where we’re going from there!!

    Tail-less Mom with a muddy face.

All of this is fine and good. But, we still don’t know about the cruise sailing from Istanbul, Turkey, on June 29. We have no doubt; we will know sometime next month how this former itinerary to Ukraine will be rerouted. We will decide from there what we’ll do after May 22.

In prior years, such uncertainty would have been concerning. But now, after two years of uncertainty due to the pandemic and now this war in Ukraine, we take it in our stride.

Two “Go-Away” birds, enjoying the birdbath in our garden.

Yesterday’s booking process was painstaking. Prices for the same cars, hotels, and flights were all over the place. Of course, we sought to find the best possible prices, and we feel comfortable with our decisions. I won’t take the time to go into each one now, except to mention a few for illustrative purposes.

For Minnesota, we booked the same hotel in a central location to our family member’s homes, in Eden Prairie, near a huge shopping mall and dozens of eating establishments. It has self-service laundry, a kitchen with range, oven, microwave, and a full-sized refrigerator, free WiFi, and “to go type’ breakfast included.

Broken Horn and two female kudu sharing pellets.

For Nevada, we were enthused. When checking online for the fabulous hotel where we stayed last July, Green Valley Ranch, and Casino, it appeared the rates had gone up considerably. We ended up booking our flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas for a better rate than what we paid last July at the link to Expedia on our site. We were thrilled to stay in that beautiful resort once again, which we thoroughly enjoyed last time.

It’s a huge relief to have all of this done. All we have to do is pack up this house, leave a few plastic bins with items for Louise to store for us when we return in December, buy clothing in Florida for the Cunard cruise, and apply for the renewal of our passports while in Florida.

Bright sunset at the Crocodile River.

As for today, on this ultra-hot day, we’re laying low. I will do some online research to see if I can find any dresses suitable for the upcoming Cunard cruise. In the past, I’ve had a lot of luck buying dresses online, so we’ll see how it goes. Of course, Tom will have to be fitted for a suit. Buying “off the rack” never seems to work for men.

We hope you have a pleasant day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2021:

The mating hornbills continue to return, but no babies yet. For more photos, please click here.

Day #259 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Tom’s Irish Cream recipe…Do we miss the holidays?…

Tom and I and Lisa and Barry, our new friends. They visited us in Ireland in 2019, and we are close in touch.

Today’s photos are from a South American cruise in 2017 where we met friends Lisa and Barry, as shown in the above photo. Today’s also included is Tom’s Irish Cream Recipe which we’d posted on this date, with the holidays on the horizon. For more, please click here.

As the holiday season approaches, we thought it would make sense to post Tom’s Irish Cream recipe today rather than wait until closer to Christmas, allowing plenty of time for those who may consider giving this as a gift for co-workers, family members, and friends.

Here are our comments and the recipe from that 2017 post, although we’d posted this recipe on posts from other years.

“Each year at Christmas time, we receive many requests for Tom’s Irish Cream recipe, which is comparable to Bailey’s Irish Cream, without all the chemicals and artificial ingredients used in commercial production. 

For those who may want to give bottles of this delicious concoction, glass bottles of this holiday beverage make perfect gifts, generally costing around US $12, INR 921, per bottle. 

Bottles with corks can be purchased at any winemaking store or home good stores at TJ Maxx, where they usually carry very decorative glass bottles.  Tom made about 150 bottles each year that we gave to friends and family, including a non-alcoholic version.

Boat in the harbor in Arica, Chile.

Some years we saved wine bottles as we used them, washing them in the dishwasher and storing them in bottle boxes from any liquor store. This avoided the cost of the bottles.  In those cases, we only had to buy the corks.

Now that some wineries use screw-top caps, avid wine drinkers of those varieties can save those bottles and caps for future use as long as they’re sterilized in the dishwasher or hot water before filling them with the mix.

Also, using our home printer’s label-making feature, we made labels to ensure all recipients were made aware that the product needed to be refrigerated and kept only for 30 days.

The stick-on label would read something like this often with a decorative photo of your choice, which could be a photo of you and your family.

Image result for holly jpg
 Lyman’s Irish Cream
From our home to yours…
Have a happy holiday season!
Please keep this product
refrigerated and stored for
no more than 30 days.

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Comparable to Bailey’s Irish Cream)1 can sweeten condensed milk

1 pint half & half or natural whipping cream

Three pasteurized eggs (important for safety)

1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

One tablespoon chocolate syrup

1 cup Irish Whiskey or other bourbon or whiskey

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup whiskey, measuring into the empty can of sweetened condensed milk to remove every last drop of the creamy sweetened condensed milk.

Blend for another 30 seconds. Pour into a glass bottle using a funnel with a tight-fitting cork.

Keeps refrigerated for 30 days.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding the preparation of this recipe. We’re happy to assist! Enjoy!

After many years of making these bottles, we stopped making them in 2011, our last Christmas in Minnesota. The cost for such large and continuing-to-grow numbers of recipients became prohibitive.

Although neither of us drank it, we always kept several bottles to share with guests visiting during the holiday season. It was always a welcomed addition to a cup of fresh French pressed coffee.”

Each year we made dozens of bottles to distribute to family and friends in the weeks before Christmas. Tom handled the blender and filled the bottles while I made the labels, rinsed and dried the bottles’ exterior, and placed the labels when dry. Fortunately, we had an extra refrigerator in our basement where we kept them fresh as we distributed them.

It was one of many traditions we had over the holidays, many with family members and friends. Do we miss all of that? It would be impossible not to miss the memorable events with family and friends. But, when we decided to travel the world in 2012, we left that all behind and embraced our new life.

Dinner for one of our tablemates on the cruise, who ordered the roasted duck.

Again, comparable to the Christmas and New Year’s we spent in a hotel in Buenos Aires in 2018, awaiting our upcoming cruise to Antarctica, Tom’s birthday on December 23, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day will be spent in this hotel room, uneventful, without ceremony, while we watch the days tick down to departing India on January 12, 2021.

That will be in 37 days.

Be safe, be healthy, and begin enjoying the holiday season (for those who celebrate), although it will be different this year for all of us worldwide.

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

Photo from 2016. Penguin statues were everywhere in the adorable town of Penguin, Tasmania. For more about the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #250 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Our 2013 hotel criteria…Has it changed?…

Out for a drive in Maui, we stopped to walk along the beach.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while we stayed at Maalaea Beach, Maui. For more photos and details, please click here.

As the long days and nights continue in this long-term confinement, we tend to dream about places we’ve visited in the past and places we’d like to see in the future. Have our criteria changed much over the years? From this post on November 11, 2013, we had outlined our measures for staying in hotel rooms throughout the world.

Maui has one beautiful beach after another.

Now, on day #250 of living in a hotel room, we thought it would be interesting to see if our criteria have changed in the past seven years since we originally uploaded this post. Here they are:

  • Free WiFi
  • Laundry options in the room or the building
  • A sofa in the room (it’s tough to sit on the bed typing on my laptop for hours posting photos and writing)
  • Convenient location: to our next destination (when possible), for sightseeing (if time allows), and for local modes of transportation for dining out, grocery shopping, etc. (Not applicable now).
  • Kitchenette or full kitchen for more extended stays (Not applicable now)
  • Reasonable cost (in most cities, a decent hotel room will run from US $175, INR 12941, to US $200, 14790, per night or more with city taxes and fees. (Prices have increased in the past seven years from this original amount as mentioned)
  • Air conditioning (we seldom, if ever, will travel in cold climates)
  • A safe in the room
  • Good view. For us, this is important. If we’re to pay US $200 a night, we want a good, if not great view. (Not applicable now)
  • Great reviews from recent guests for a 4.0 rating or higher. Tom will read from 30 to 50 recent reviews to satisfy our objectives.
    Many beaches are left in a natural state, with vegetation growing along the shoreline.

Newly added to this list based on our past and recent experiences include:

  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Complimentary coffee and tea
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Comfortable bed
  • Sufficient plug-ins for our equipment
    The colors in these hills look more like a painting than real life.

At this point, we feel we’ve had enough hotel experience to last us a lifetime but, not knowing when we can depart Mumbai, staying put in this hotel provides us with the fulfillment of most of the above criteria. In the future, if and when we’re able to travel in the future freely, these same criteria will be applicable and to our standards.

For the time being, we had booked this hotel room until January 3, 2021, when by luck, we checked for future pricing and found, on our site at Hotels.com to discover this hotel was selling rooms for US $50, INR 3698 per night for the bulk of December and US $57, INR 4215 per night for the balance of December, all the way to January 3, 2021. We couldn’t get these prices booked quickly enough.

In a matter of minutes, the clouds began to disperse for a better view of the mountaintop. Notice the buildings at the top of the mountain.

Now, we continue to watch prices to extend our reservations further as needed as we wait this out. As always, especially lately, we’ll play it by ear.

Be well.

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

Upon arriving in Mombasa on Thanksgiving Day in 2013, we took this photo from the ferry as another ferry took off. Notice the crowds. For more photos from that day in 2013,  please click here. For more of the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #177 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Two spaces or one at the end of sentence?…

Hans invited us up to his third-level veranda in Kenya for “happy hour” and to watch the sunset. As we enjoyed the view from up high, we all noticed this animal’s butt sitting inside a window of a thatched roof. Not a monkey with this type of tail, we anxiously waited for it to turn around. By the time it was dark, it hadn’t moved, leaving us all without a clue as to what type of animal it had been.

Today’s photos are from the post in 2013, while we lived in Diani Beach, Kenya, for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

The sunset is beautiful everywhere. From the third floor of Hans’ house, we were thrilled to take photos of the progression of the sun’s setting on the horizon.

As I muddle through our almost 3,000 archived posts to make corrections, I continue to stumble across a dilemma. Do I remove two spaces after each sentence/paragraph and change it to one space or leave it as is, at two spaces? For us old-timers who learned to type on an old-fashioned typewriter, two spaces were the correct procedure.

Today, with the advent of digital means of typing, this simple dilemma may have changed. Subsequently, as I labor through post after post, barely able to get through 20 posts a day, I realize that the bulk of the corrections I am making in tightening up the space between two sentences.

Hans made Tom one of his unique local concoctions while I sipped on my usual ice tea while chatting with Hans’ lovely wife, Jerie.

Of course, I searched online for the answer, hoping to find a definitive solution. But, like many topics, the variations in opinions are overwhelming. Some dictionary sites say “one space,” and others say “two-spaces,” making the text easier to read. Oh, good grief. I’ve already spent hours correcting thousands of these.

At sunset, the lush greenery appeared brighter than during the day’s sun.

Here’s some information I found on this topic:

“Why should you or shouldn’t put two spaces after a period?
Hence the adoption of the twospace rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. … Because we’ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.”
Or,

“There was a time when every period, question mark, or exclamation point was followed by two spaces. These days, depending on what you’re reading, you can find either one or two spaces between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another.”

Look at these lush ferns, abundant in Kenya’s humid weather.

After reading further, I concluded that in today’s world, one space after a sentence should be one, not two. I’ve opted for one space, thus doubling its time to correct errors on each page. So, how does this impact my corrections on almost 3,000 posts in the future?

And, what types of other errors am I encountering?

  1. Spelling: (I am using Grammarly and Ginger for assistance)
  2. Font size: Which I’ve decided to leave as is since it takes so long to correct.
  3. Punctuation
  4. Grammar: Many comma placement errors and sentence structure (I am using Grammarly and Ginger, two apps, for assistance)
  5. Paragraph and line spacing
  6. Missing or inadequate links
  7. Verbiage errors, restructuring sentences, etc.
  8. Photo placement/positioning
  9. Caption errors on all of the above
  10. Issues with headings
  11. Repetitive words reduction
    The haze, a result of both humidity and fires burning, leaves an eerie view over the horizon.

Well, as you can see, making these corrections is a lot more complicated than one might expect. Why am I doing this when most of our readers don’t care one way or another? (Thanks for that!). Many of our posts were completed under time constraints or days when I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been. Many other posts were achieved when the WiFi signal was poor. Making corrections was nearly impossible, let alone typing the text.

From high up on the veranda, these coconuts caught my eye. They are everywhere!

Excuses aside. Human nature. We make errors, especially me when 365 days a year I write the equivalent of an essay from 700 to 1000 words, mostly with photos which is a breeding ground for human error.

Now, as I go back through each post, one by one, I am certainly missing some corrections or making new errors in the process. Also, I am making new errors in the new posts I am doing now. It’s not perfect, nor am I, nor is Tom’s daily proofreading. But, we continue to strive every day to get this message to our loyal readers/friends/family to let you know what we’re doing, feeling, and thinking.

Soon, the sun would set, and darkness would fall as the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife rang through the air throughout the night.

Hopefully, shortly, we’ll have more to discuss than mere “dots.”

Be well.

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

As we approached St, Michaels and All Angels, Church of England in Michaelstone, Cornwall, we were in awe of its beauty. For more photos, please click here.
Day #160 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The frightening reality…

Day #160 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The frightening reality…

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Today’s photos are from this date in 2014 while wrapping up our final day in South Kensington, London, England. You’ll find our total expenses for the 15-nights in a hotel below:

Here are our expenses for the 15 nights in London:

Hotel:              US $3,312.26, 1,995.40 pounds
Transportation:          455.29,    274.28
Tours:                        451.81     272.18
Groceries:                 240.34     144.79
Restaurants:              850.46    512.34

Grand Total:     US $5,310.16, 3,198.99 pounds
Daily Rate:         US $354.01, 213.27 pounds

Yesterday, we walked down this road toward Bobo’s Bubbles to do our final two loads of laundry.

Each hour, while walking, I listen to podcasts on my phone. At this point in time, I am not interested in much other than those podcasts that are educational and informational, often a variety of videos from immunologists from all over the world. I do so in an attempt to determine which countries we may possibly visit when we’re able to leave India.

Of course, leaving India is entirely predicated on how India is doing with COVID-19, their infection and death rates which at this point are increasing like a raging fire. Yesterday, by happenstance, I stumbled across this India generated video with a immunologist from Harvard, born in India and interviewed by an Indian news/podcaster.

Occasionally, we spotted a brick building mixed among the white buildings.

This video, found here at this link, This is not a conspiracy theory-type podcasts but a well researched and highly informative report on the statistics for COVID-19 for India and the projections by this highly qualified medical professional. The prospects for us leaving are not looking good.

In essence he’s stating that the reported cases in India, with a population of 1.3 billion, is only reporting 15% of the actual cases when many get the virus, don’t test, and subsequently don’t report their case. In reality, based on statistics gleaned from countries and researchers throughout the world, this could mean there are currently 200,000,000 to 500,000,000 cases in India.

This was the shortest (height) car either of us has ever seen. I can only imagine that getting out of it would require rolling out the door onto the street and then standing up.

This threw me for a loop. I can see why our hotel doesn’t want us to go outside. There is a very high percentage of contagion in Delhi and Mumbai, the two largest metropolises in the country. Opening the airports for international flights is highly unlikely anytime in the near future.

One might think, “Why would they be so cautious for flights leaving India?” The answer is logical. The international airlines are not about to send empty planes to India. To warrant the resumption of international flights it must be a two-way process. India is not about to allow international travelers into the country. It certainly makes sense when worldwide, so much of the virus has been brought into countries via flights from highly infected countries.

South Kensington consists of one pretty street after another with parking always at a premium.

Citizens of the US, regardless of where they’ve been, are on “no fly” lists all over the world and will continue to be so for an indefinite period. The prospect of us leaving India anytime soon is grim.

We accept the fact that if at any point, we cannot stand being here another week or month, most likely we can find a way to get on one of the repatriation flights for US citizens to return from India back to the US. Finding an affordable holiday home in a nice area in the US at this time is impractical and costly, far more than we’re paying here. Also, we’d need a rental car which is outrageously priced in the US for extended periods.

In London, there are no large trash bins for residents in which to place their garbage.  Instead, they place the bags on the sidewalk or street where they’re picked up a few times a week from what we’ve seen.

The alternative would be to find a hotel comparable to this hotel in the US which most likely will be more costly than here. Plus, the travel required to get to a location we’d prefer could result in numerous flights at numerous airports with added risk of contracting the virus. We’d simply be trading one confined location for another. The US is still in the #1 position of most cases of the virus in the world. We don’t want to go to the US due to my high risk status.

At least, here and now, we are as safe as we can possibly be. There hasn’t been a single case of the virus in this hotel. We don’t go out to grocery stores, pharmacies and other shopping. We can get most of what we need from Amazon India which items are sprayed with disinfectant when they arrive and are delivered to our room. We wait a few days to open any package.

Wildwood had a comfortable ambiance, but the food and service was mediocre. See the post here for food photos and prices.

Breakfast is included in our room rate and our dinners are never more than US $20, INR 1463, per night. There is nowhere in the world we’d be able to eat for this low cost. Besides, during these lockdown conditions throughout the world, we can’t justify paying more than what we’re paying now.

Complaining? No. Observing. Reality. Safe. Healthy. We’d OK

_________________________________________

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

Look at the numbers of sailboats moored in this bay! For more photos, please click here.

Holding our breath..One day at a time…

The scene we traveled on the Toy Train.

In the past several weeks, each time we’ve been required to venture out of the safe cocoon of a hotel room, we can’t help but wonder if we’ve been exposed. At this point, we only leave the sanctity of our space when it’s time for breakfast or dinner.

All of the employees at this beautiful hotel live on-site and aren’t allowed to leave the premises. The staff is minimal, and food supplies are dwindling. This morning, the restaurant manager explained meal options are rapidly declining when they can’t get deliveries.

Sunset in Bandhavgarh National Park.

As we mentioned, there is no laundry service, and we’ve begun washing our clothes in the shower or the bathroom sink and then hanging them on the window ledge to dry. We decided to wear the same clothes repeatedly for as long as possible to avoid having a big pile of laundry accumulate. 

We’re hand washing our underwear daily and will hand wash shirts and pants when we swap out those we’ve been wearing. Blue jeans are tough to squeeze dry, but we’ll figure it out.

Memorial for fallen soldiers in Delhi.

Thank goodness we have air-con and WiFi. India is fast-moving into its hottest season, and we notice temperatures rising each day. If the power goes out, we’re in big trouble. So far, nothing indicates that the infrastructure will fail.

Mahatma Gandhi’s burial site and memorial in New Delhi.

Today, the mandatory 21-day lockdown began in the entire country of India. As seen in this article, people will be arrested if found outside of their activities aren’t covered by exemptions. So far, the government is not requiring all hotels to close, only those who choose to complete as stated in the above link:

” Exemptions: Hotels, Homestays, lodges, and motels which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew.”

A herd of sheep on the road.

This notice came out this morning and gives us a degree of comfort, but many hotels continue to close due to low occupancy and subsequent loss of revenue. If this hotel closes and as long as we have a hotel to move into, we will be fine. It’s the prospect of not having anywhere to stay that is terrifying, as we had feared after yesterday morning’s incidents.

None of the dozen or so holiday homeowners I’ve contacted online have yet to respond to our inquiries except one, who stated they aren’t renting their property during this crucial period.

A sambar deer sighting.

Most likely, this will be the case for most holiday property owners and managers. They don’t want to be exposed to any travelers who may be infected, nor do they want their properties to be a “hotbed” of germs they’ll eventually have to clean.

This morning at breakfast, an Englishman approached our table (at a distance of several meters). He said he recognized us from Madurai, where we stayed in isolation for four days before our last flight to Mumbai a week ago today. His group of three is in the same spot we’re in. They are unable to leave Mumbai due to closed airports and India’s total lockdown.

She was crossing a river in Kanha National Park.

They are hoping to return to their home in the UK with over 8000 cases as of today. Here again, Heathrow Airport would potentially be another dangerous airport. Our plan continues to wait it out until we’re able to enter South Africa, which currently has 554 cases. Tomorrow, they are also implementing a total countrywide lockdown.

The wait could be extended, especially when South Africa has confirmed they won’t accept any foreign nationals entering the country until after May 31st. If we get lucky, and this hotel stays open, we’ll be fine here until then. Time will tell.

The restaurant at Tuli Tiger Resort in Kanha.

None of us knows what will transpire over these next weeks or months. We’re all in this together, regardless of our circumstances. We must stand together as a unit in our commitment to “social distancing,” ensuring we are continuing to avoid passing this dreadful virus onto others.

Stay safe. Order groceries online. Stop shopping at warehouse facilities. Stop getting together with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Wash your hands. Cover your cough or sneeze. Stay home, world, please…

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2019:

Such a handsome kudu bull. For more photos, please click here.

A morning from hell…OMG…OMG…

An older man was walking his cow down the road.

Last night when we went to bed, we assumed we had a solid plan in place. By noon, we’d have our bags packed, have paid our hotel bill, and be ready to head to the Espresso Hotel, which had booked us a room for a month, according to the Sun-N-Sand staff.

At 8:00 am, having slept later than we’d expected after awakening several times during the night, the phone rang. The front desk informed us that our checkout had been moved to 10:00 am, not noon.

We bolted out of bed to begin to take turns showering, dressing, and packing. By 8:45, we headed to the restaurant for our final breakfast at the Sun-n-Sand Hotel. It appeared we were the only remaining guests in the hotel.

At the reception desk, we asked why we were rushing for a 10:00 am checkout. They didn’t say much other than, “We’re closing earlier than we’d planned.”

A Marwari horse with curly ears at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Service was slow at the restaurant, although we were the only patrons. By 9:30, Tom went back to our room to finalize the packing while I approached the front desk to pay our bill. He told me to go back and wait in the room until they were ready for us.

I refused to go back to the room. I insisted on waiting for Tom in the lobby after the bellman had been ordered to pick up our bags. The man at the desk seemed nervous and confused, telling me to “go wait in the room until they were ready for us.” Again, I refused.

This worried me. I insisted on paying the bill. Moments later, Tom came off the elevator wheeling our bags. The bellman hadn’t arrived in time to help him. He joined me at the desk to assist in sorting out the bill.

As it turned out, we had a credit when we paid for an entire week last Friday and still had three nights remaining. The only charges we’d incurred were for dinners and one batch of laundry. They paid us several thousand rupees in cash rather than put it on our credit card. 

An Indian Roller.

After completing the transaction, the man handed us a piece of paper with the name of a different hotel, The Orchid, explaining that’s where we were going. A reservation for one month had been arranged for us, and we were to leave right away. They’d managed to find a driver to move us to the new location instead of using a police vehicle as mentioned yesterday.

We checked out The Orchid, a hotel online, and it looked very nice. We were satisfied it would work for us. Tom was disgruntled about this last-minute change from one hotel to another without notifying us, but based on our situation, we had little choice but to move along. Hotels all over Mumbai were rapidly closing, one after another.

With the roads empty of vehicles, we arrived at the beautiful Orchid, feeling relieved as soon as we drove up. Although all bars, most restaurants, pools, and facilities in hotels had to be closed, we’d be content with a room with air-con, WiFi, a comfortable bed, and a place to eat breakfast and dinner.

Our bags were unloaded from the van, we paid the driver, went through security, had our temperature checked, and approached the desk to sign in for our one-month reservation.

Statues made from stone and granite are offered for sale to locals and tourists.

They had no record, whatsoever, of any reservation in our name, not for one night, let alone one month. Nor were they able to book us a room when they are closing tomorrow. Sun-n-Sand had pulled the wool over our eyes to get us out the door so that they could complete.

There we were, hotels closing like dominoes falling, all over Mumbai, along with owners of holiday homes not responding to our inquiries and nowhere to go. My heart was pounding in my chest. Tom kept reminding me to stay calm while we figured something out.

As much as the staff at The Orchid wanted to help us, there was little they could do. The fantastic hotel manager/concierge, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, immediately worked with the utmost effort to find a solution for us.

I had visions of us standing outside the US Embassy in Mumbai with all of our baggage, pounding on the door, trying to get help. 

Gorgeous leis of flowers offered for sale for offerings.

Partway through Mr. Fernandes’ diligent calling, he approached us and said he’d located a hotel the government had required to stay open… For suspected cases of Covid-19 required quarantine. 

Tom and I had agreed that, no matter what, we would not stay in one of those toxic situations. Mr. Fernandes didn’t think we’d willingly remain in such a facility. Subsequently, he continued the search. After a highly stressful hour, he found us a hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, close to the airport.

He suggested we book it online right away, which we did, after which he spoke to a reception staff member who confirmed the reservation had come through and we were good to go.

Not only did Mr. Fernandes make these arrangements for us, but he also arranged a complimentary ride using a vehicle owned by The Orchid. Finally, we breathed a sigh of relief. Moments later, we were on our way to the most beautiful Courtyard by Marriott we’d ever seen.

Women were weeding the peanut fields.

During this entire stressful period, we both wore face masks. With lobbies of most hotels in Mumbai not air-conditioned and the high heat and humidity, we were both sweating profusely.

The kindly reception staff member at The Orchid Deeptka, provided us with both will bottled water, and we were on our way. The staff at the Courtyard by Marriott were welcoming, but here again, they made no assurances as to how long they’d stay open. Also, they explained there is no laundry service now or soon.

Today, we’ll begin contacting more owners of holiday homes to see if they’ll take us last minute, next time we have to move, which we expect will happen within the next week or so.  

Whew! Now, we’re comfortably situated in a beautiful hotel with all services suspended indefinitely except for an open coffee shop that will serve us breakfast and lunch. We’ll stay in our room unless we’re dining.

A termite mound in Kanha National Park.

If this hotel stays open, we could be here a month or two or longer, depending upon when South Africa opens its borders and when international flights are available in Mumbai. None of us know our fate at this point, and indeed every one of us feels cooped up and uncertain about the future.

If and when you visit Mumbai, we’d highly recommend staying at The Orchid. Nowhere in the world have we seen this caliber of customer service at a hotel, let alone the fact we weren’t staying with them.

Temporarily, we dodged a bullet, for how long? We have no idea. Stay safe. Stay indoors. We continue.  

                        Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2019:
Fourth Baby, who’d been separated from his family, often sits in this goofy pose when eating pellets. This was how we knew it was him. The others kneel but don’t set their butt down while eating. He was never reunited with his family, from what we could determine. For more photos, please click here.

Americans stranded overseas pleas for help to get back to the USA…

This morning, the pool was emptied.

Note: At this point, we’ve lost interest in taking new photos when we’re stuck in a hotel room. Tomorrow, we’ll continue to post photos from our tours in India, although some may be repeats since we didn’t keep track of what we’ve already posted with a lack of time while touring.

Many news stories online about Americans stranded overseas desperate to return to their homes elicits compassion and empathy when they cannot afford to continue to pay for accommodations and are fast running out of medications.

As we’ve read, the US has been chartering flights to get some of these US travelers back to their homes. There are countless news stories about citizens trapped abroad when their vacations ended and airports closed, preventing them from leaving.

Last night when we sat outside, we noticed the pool emptied, indicating the hotel may be closing soon.

That has been our case, but we aren’t running out of medications, nor are we worried about getting back to the US. As long as we have a place to stay and a source of food and basic supplies, we can “wait it out in Mumbai.”

Tonight India’s Prime Minister Modi will announce the next necessary measures to reduce the risks of the spread of Covid-19, which may or may not include closing hotels. 

As of this writing, all signs indicate our hotel will be closing soon. Last night, they emptied the pool and shut off the outdoor area where we’ve been watching the sunset every evening. Today and tonight, we’ll be stuck in our room. 
Another incredible sunset from the hotel pool area.

I’ve never been one to enjoy spending time in a hotel room, although Tom, with his penchant for staying busy online, doesn’t mind quite as much. I guess I’ll have to adapt, as I am, with no complaints, making the best of our situation.

Our spirits are good, and we aren’t complaining at all. Our only concern is that we have a place to stay, preferably a hotel, where we don’t have to find a way to get groceries delivered to us if we were in a holiday home.

Several online grocers are booming in light of the fears of being around other shoppers in local markets. How long they will continue to supply their customers remains to be seen.

What beautiful sunsets over the Arabian Sea.

In reviewing the online grocer’s inventory, there appears to be plenty of foodstuffs we both eat, such as chicken, vegetables, eggs, cheese, coffee/tea, and spices. We can easily exist on these items alone if need be.

Tonight will provide us with a clearer picture of what will transpire going forward. A few minutes ago, when speaking with one of the hotel managers, he seemed to think they’d stay open until March 31st. They still have five out of 120 rooms occupied. All of them have been unable to leave the country, like us. 

A guest, next door to us, checked out, thinking he’d get out of the country, and is now checking back into his same room. We weren’t in our original room when the manager moved us to a room “with a view.”
The beach is barren, with no walkers, no joggers, and even no stray dogs.

But, with the air-con seeming to be running poorly (most likely to keep costs down), we have to keep the drapes closed to keep the room cooler. We sit on the bed all day, searching online for any helpful information. For now, we are OK.

We pray you are all safe, “social-distancing,” and taking all necessary precautions to avoid becoming infected. We’ve been streaming and binge-watching Season 40 of the TV series “Survivor” to keep us entertained. Once we wrap that up, surely will find something else.

Be well. Stay safe and stay tuned as to what transpires here in Mumbai.

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

This is Basket, the Bully.  He lost his right ear in a confrontation a few months ago. For more photos, please click here.

Reminds me of a movie I once watched with guests trapped in a hotel…Hotels closing in Mumbai…Are we next?

Last night’s sunset over the Arabian Sea from the hotel pool area.

It was a bad sign this morning when we went to breakfast that there was no buffet. Only five rooms in this 120 room hotel are occupied, and it made no sense for them to continue to offer a buffet. Besides, buffets are breeding grounds for germs. 

Is this the beginning stages of this hotel closing in the next several days?

The hotel is no longer allowed to accept new reservations. In a matter of days, we could be the only guests here. That’s freaky. It won’t be the first time we were the only guests in a hotel. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day in 2017, we were the only guests in a boutique hotel in Palermo, Buenos Aires. We ended up having a great time after all. See this link here.
But, those circumstances were entirely different. It was a fluke. There were no guests in the small hotel. In this case, as you all so well know, the circumstances are entirely different. The Covid-19 is the cause of many businesses, now including hotels worldwide, closing their doors.
Each night, to get out of our hotel room and enjoy the sunset.

Of course, I searched for holiday homes that may be available in Mumbai when this hotel closes. And, although we’d have been willing to wait here for as long as necessary, we are confident it will be closing in the next week.

If that is the case, they will assist us in relocating, hoping that at least one hotel will be allowed to stay open in Mumbai to facilitate others like us, who can’t leave the city with a population of 18,400,000.

But, we have to be realistic and prepare ourselves for the worst that no hotels will be open and we’ll have nowhere to go. It’s a frightening thought. Many of our readers still write to us asking us why we didn’t return to the US a week ago.

We sat comfortably at a table with an umbrella by the pool, sipping on a cold beer, attempting to make the best of the situation.

As we mentioned in an earlier post, for several reasons, one, we don’t have adequate health insurance in the US (but excellent coverage outside the US), and two, I am in the high-risk group: my age, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. 

Based on the number of fast-growing cases in the US. As of today’s news, there are 19,522 cases, most of which result from travel or being in contact with someone who has traveled internationally. Why would we want to go to any US airport?

As of today, there are a reported 271 cases in India. Sure, there may be many unreported cases here and in the US. But even if India’s situation is ten times, even 100 times worse, that’s still considerably less than in the US, relative to the US population of 331 million compared to India’s 1.3 billion.

The hotel pools are inviting, but the government has forbidden swimming in any public pools.

Our goal for our time here, regardless of how long this period lasts, is to stay in self-isolation in a hotel with as little contact with people as possible. The only people we contact are the restaurant servers and cleaning staff, and we stay as distant as possible. 

We’ve chatted with a few other hotel guests, at a distance, and it seems most of them are getting out today, mainly on the last few flights out of Mumbai before the Mumbai airport closes tomorrow, to fly back to the UK, which has almost 4,000 cases as of this morning. 

For this small of an area, that’s a lot of cases. A few weeks ago, we’d canceled a holiday home in England for this very reason. 

The pretty view of the evening sky.

As residents of South Africa, our friends Linda and Ken managed to make their flight from Australia to South Africa. Linda and I communicated via text messages in the middle of the night (I was wide awake) when they were about to board their flight. I’m sure we’ll hear from them later today.

What will we do when this is over, whenever that might be possible? Our goal is to get into South Africa. Moments ago, Tom read a new article to me that states no foreign nationals will be allowed into South Africa until after May 31st. Hmm, it looks as if we’ll be here in Mumbai for quite a while, after all.

Well, folks, we hope all of you are staying safe. Thanks for hanging in there with us as we work our way through this challenging time, with the same hopefulness and spirit that we strive to possess as each day passes.

Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2019:

Such an adorable face. For more photos, please click here.

Photos of Tuli Tiger Resort inside Kanha Tiger Reserve…

 
The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite.

We’re having some technical issues. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and purchased another Windows laptop instead of a Chromebook. As it turned out in my haste to order, the HP Chromebook I ordered doesn’t have a slot for an SD camera card.

A small, casual bar in the dining area.

Subsequently, I’ve had to use my phone to take photos and although many come out well, using zoom is a missing aspect of using a smartphone as a camera. Now that we’re in the midst of another nine safaris after nine at the last location in the Bandhavgarh National Park, today I broke down and used the camera, getting many better shots than ever possible using the phone.

Now, I’m left with no way to load them. A few minutes ago I purchased an adapter from Amazon India with a proposed receipt date of Monday, March 1st, the date we arrive at our hotel in Udaipur. Hopefully, once again a shipment within India will work out as well as the last.

The spacious pool is near the dining and bar area.

As a result, in the interim, I will be uploaded only those photos we’d taken on our phone while continuing to use the camera. Once the adapter arrives on Monday when we’ll have more time, I’ll be able to share the many fine photos we took at Kanha Tiger Reserve.

After going out on four safaris as of today, with two more remaining tomorrow that encompass 10 hours of each day, we decided to split up today with me taking the 5:30 am session and Tom out right now on the afternoon session.

The grounds are filled with named indigenous vegetation befitting this type of resort.

Doing so left me with time to post today’s story and photos and to work on the Amazon order which is trickier than compared to ordering supplies from the US.

The bathroom is small but nicely appointed.

Since we don’t have a tremendous number of tours during our three nights in Udaipur, we’ll have time to upload the camera’s photos and get more caught up posting.

Plus, the WiFi in both safari resorts has been sketchy at best, in each case, off and on all day and only accessible from the reception office. Not being able to put up my feet and relax while preparing a post is a bit annoying, but soon we’ll be in a hotel with good service in our room (so says the online information).

There are several seating areas in our suite.

This resort is beautiful and well-appointed otherwise. Besides Tom’s disappointment with the food, we’re enjoying our time in this premium property.

So far, our 55-night tour of India is going quite well and we have a fabulous company, Tailormade Journeys continuing to work with us for any questions or concerns. We’ve been very pleased with their service working with rep Rajiv and his support staff in making this a seamless series of events, a highly complicated scenario for this extended period. They can be reached as follows:

Rajiv Wahie
Tailormade Journeys Limited
25 Grangewood , WEXHAM , SLOUGH , SL3 6LP , South Bucks. United Kingdom.
United Kingdom Tel : 01753 577330, 01753 201201 Mobile: 07739716978.
USA & Canada Toll Free : 1 – 855- 9 – 526526 , Canada :416-619-7795
Australia : 61-2-86078986Emailgreat-vacation@btconnect.com
The king-sized bed is very comfortable.
Well, that’s it for today folks. We’ve included photos of the lovely Tuli Tiger Resort. We’re looking forward to sharing more photos soon.
 
Be well.

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

Mom and Babies hanging out by the recently cleaned cement pond. For more photos, please click here.