Working out the physical kinks from excess lounging…

Two fresh-caught tuna for last night’s and tonight’s meals. Total cost for two fish? The only US, $5.65, IDR 75,000.  We pay the actual cost for food and tip the staff at the end of our stay in appreciation for their excellent service.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

These two women were walking on the beach carry dried vines on their heads. The one in front appeared more adept at balancing while the other kept reaching up to balance the load.

It was 8 am Tuesday when I began today’s post. The two Ketuts had just arrived to clean the villa while Ribud was busy working on the pool and yard. They each wear uniforms that read, “Beach House West Bali.” They always appear fresh, bright-eyed, and ready for the day.

This morning while we languished in bed a little later than usual in air-conditioned comfort, we had Tom’s perfectly prepared coffee. I spilled mine on the bed, later apologizing to the girls for the extra work to change the sheets. They were gracious as always.

The front entrance to another villa a few doors down the narrow road.

It’s cloudy today. We don’t mind at all. If it rains we’ll head indoors until it stops. This island has the best weather we’ve had living on any tropical island in our travels. It rains for short periods once or twice a week, often overnight.

The moment the raindrops begin to fall Ribud suddenly appears to bring in all the chaise cushions, chaise covers, and beach towels. No matter how fast Tom attempts to do this small task Ribud is quicker to take over. We don’t have to do a thing.

Tom had taken an extraordinary photo of Praying Mantis on the edge of the infinity pool.  This is my rendition of his reflection in the water.

Since our arrival, I’ve been sitting too much with all this wonderful household help doing everything for us, which isn’t favorable for my delicate spine. Days ago, feeling stiff and uncomfortable I started walking around the villa for 300 steps (using my FitBit) every 30 minutes during daylight hours. 

By the end of the day, I’ve been accumulating 6000 steps according to the Fitbit in addition to any steps we accumulate when walking on the beach or in the neighborhood. Also, after spending 40 minutes working out in the pool, I’m finally beginning to feel stronger and more fit. 

We have lots of walking ahead of us on the upcoming Mekong River cruise which begins on July 8th. Considerable time will be spent cruising on the river with the rest on tours to see the sites along the way. Sitting around for two months hadn’t prepared me for this amount of walking each day.

A section of the wall consists of this bamboo décor.

Sure, my restrictive diet has been highly instrumental in reducing pain from inflammation but the reality remains…my spine is comparable to a thin reed, ready to collapse at any moment. When we’ve been active I can walk fairly long distances but recently, I’ve been concerned.

This daily lounging had left me feeling relaxed but also concerned over my ability to “keep up” with the others on this relatively active upcoming cruise. In the past several days after instituting this “must-do” walking around the villa every 30 minutes, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep up.

Once we arrive in Singapore we’ll be walking every day, although with the three visas we’ll need to get at the three embassies, we’ll be riding in taxis as well. The embassies are too far from our hotel to reach on foot. But, we’ll walk to restaurants for dinner and be out each day to see the sites, taking a taxi or public transportation only as needed.

Decorative wall as we walk along the road to the villas.

When we arrived in Singapore on April 30th, we met a fabulous taxi driver whose card we’ve kept. We’ll contact him soon to pick us up at the airport and continue with him as needed.

We’ll leave the villa in 13 days to spend one night in Denpasar after the four-hour harrowing drive. The next day to fly to Singapore at 2:15 pm on a relatively short 2 hour, 45 minutes flight.

The only tasks we do for ourselves here in the villa in Bali are to make coffee, refill the ice cube trays, pour iced tea throughout the day, and put together our nightly cheese plates. 

Beautifully maintained gardens line the wall along the road.

We don’t ask the staff to “wait” on us. As far as we’re concerned they do enough cleaning the villa and grounds, preparing our dinner and doing the dishes. How much easier could it be?

On July 22nd, we’ll arrive at the villa in Phuket. With only a weekly cleaner, we’ll be on our own to cook, clean, make the bed and wash dishes. Neither of us minds the prospect of taking care of ourselves again, but it certainly has been pleasurable to have others doing it for us.

We hope you have an easy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 14, 2015:

As much as we’d have liked to leave these doors open in the Trinity Beach property, the flies and mosquitos were outrageous. Over this past year, we’ve become much more tolerant of the flies to the point that we may have been able to leave doors open in past locations. However, the flies in Australia are biting flies which makes all the difference.  For more photos of the house, please click here.

Heading out today…sightseeing and shopping…Household help nirvana…

The sign at the entrance to our villas. Paradise, it is the majority of the time. 
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
This dog walked up to our villa and wandered around the pool.  We stayed seated and didn’t say a word.  Soon, he wandered away.

At 10:00 am this morning, Gede, our houseman, and driver, is arriving to pick us up in air-conditioned comfort for a half-day outing. Yesterday morning, he stopped by to let us know he’d returned from his religious holiday celebration and to assure us we’re on track for today’s scheduled trip to Negara.

We made a list of five things we need to do aside from the sightseeing; stop at an ATM; visit a photo shop for visa photos we’ll need to use in Singapore and for the online Cambodia visa; purchase a SIM card for emergency calls; stop at a pharmacy for a few items; shop at the supermarket which is much more well equipped than the local markets in this area.

Aside from walks in the area, basically, we stayed at the villa for the past 10 days. With the two Ketuts doing all the shopping and cooking for meals, we haven’t needed to get out shopping. 

Gede explained we should ask the Ketuts to bring us coconuts from the market and Ribud will break them open. Sounds like a plan to me!

Besides, with Gede gone most of the week, we didn’t see any reason to try to find another driver when we so much enjoy his companionship and good English. Most local workers in the Sumbersari area don’t speak much English, many not at all, as is the case with one of the two Ketut’s.

Even so, the English-speaking Ketut struggles to understand most of what we say other than some basic cooking and household-related words and expressions.  After all, this is their country and we should learn to speak their language to some degree if we plan to be here. 

This old bicycle is leaning against the stone wall of a house down the road.

The Balinese language is not the easiest in the world to learn and we’ve struggled with even a few of the many syllable words. Somehow between all of us, we’re able to communicate enough to manage the household comfortably.

They easily respond to hand signals such as this morning when I asked them to wash the huge square dining room table with hot soapy water. Although after each meal they wipe down our eating space on one end of the table (the one facing the ocean), it needed a good cleaning to help keep the flies away while we dine.

I surely could have done this myself but we’ve noticed it seems to hurt their feelings when we take over a job that falls within their job descriptions. Really. It’s the custom which we respect as we’ve both tempered our innate desires to clean up. 

Community building where security hangs out day and night. If we had an emergency, we could run down there. It’s only a short walk from our villa.

We pick up after ourselves as much as we see is acceptable to them, not unlike one would when staying in a hotel. You don’t make the bed, wash the floors, clean the bathroom, do the dishes. We put our clothes away, hang our wet towels on the towel bar, hang the damp beach towels on the portable clothesline and hang our wet swimsuits to dry. 

If it rains during the day and they aren’t here, we bring the chaise cushions and towels indoors. When they are here, they’re quick to handle this task including grabbing our wet suits from the line.

The most I contribute to the preparation of dinner is to make the dressing for our salad, toss the salad and place equal portions in each of two salad dishes, which they don’t seem to mind. However, each time we attempt to clear the table after dinner, they rush up to us, gently taking the dirty plates from our hands indicating we go relax with the swish of a hand toward the living room or outdoors.

This plant is a bit confusing.

It was the same way when we lived in Morocco in 2014, as the staff happily and graciously took over the cleaning, food preparation, serving, and cleanup. Then, it took us a while to get used to being “waited on” and now, two years later again, we’re learning to comply and be good house guests. Of course, there’s always plenty of room for saying thank you and commending them on a job well done, which obviously means a lot to all of them.

Prior to their arrival at the villa, each morning at 8:00 am, we prepare our coffee, serve ourselves and wash our coffee mugs leaving no dishes in the sink to wash. Plus, while I’m showering Tom sets up the cushions and beach towels on the chaise lounges enabling us to have coffee outside overlooking the sea. 

Yum…what a way to start the day…a perfect cup of hot French pressed coffee with whole cream and a comfy chaise lounge with views. That’s my guy! Any wonder why my daily life is so exquisite?

Pretty blooms on a walk.

Also throughout the day, Tom is the “beverage guy” serving me icy mugs of iced tea or water.  Somehow, he evolved to this “position” and there’s no complaint from me, instead only a heartfelt “Thanks, Honey,” when he serves me a beverage and “takes care of things.” 

In this environment, I almost feel like I’m not holding up my share of tasks when my devoted husband ensures everything I need is right at hand. Gosh, it’s a miracle I get any steps logged on my newly purchased FitBit.  Somehow I manage to with our walks on the beach and in the neighborhood. Also, spending considerable time working out in the pool, has proven to be my new favorite mode of exercise.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be back with a plethora of new and interesting photos to share with our loyal readers who may have become bored with our constant stream of photos in paradise over these past few weeks.

Thank you, loyal readers! We appreciate each and every click! Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2015:

A small lagoon between Anini Beach and Ke’e Beach. For more Kauai photos, please click here.

No cooking, no laundry, no making the bed…Itinerary until December…

Our new itinerary…

 Sydney Hotel 1  4/15/2016 – 4/16/2016 
 Cruise – Sydney to Singapore  14  RC Voyager of Seas   4/16/2016 – 4/30/2016 
 Bali House  59  4/30/2016 – 6/28/2016 
 Hotel Singapore 7  6/28/2016 – 7/5/2016 
 Hanoi Hotel 3  7/5/2016 – 7/8/2016 
 Cruise – Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City  15  Viking Mekong    7/8/2016 –
 Phuket House  41  7/22/2016 –
 Bali House w 59  9/1/2016 –
 Sydney Hotel  1  10/30/2016 –
 Cruise – Sydney to Perth  16  RC Radiance of the Seas   10/31/2016 – 11/16/2016 
 Cruise – Perth to Sydney  17  RC Radiance of the Seas   11/16/2016 – 12/3/2016 

Late yesterday afternoon, as we lounged on the deck overlooking this vast farmland and the sea, each of us sipping on a glass of wine (more on why I may be occasionally drinking wine in tomorrow’s post), it dawned on me that we won’t have to do much housework up until December 3, 2016 when we arrive in Tasmania.

These unusual mushrooms appear translucent.

Mentioning to Tom that we hadn’t been able to do laundry for days due to rain which finally stopped around 4:00 pm, it dawned on me that over the next many months, hanging laundry won’t be on our radar.

Once we leave New Zealand in less than a month, we won’t have to wash a dish, make a bed or do our laundry with the exception of the 41 days we’ll live on the island of Phuket, Thailand where we won’t have household help other than a weekly cleaner.

We started recalling our itinerary, as Tom easily recalls from memory long into the future. A month from today, we’ll board Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas after spending one night in the Sydney Hotel. Then the lazy days begin.

An unusual “mushroom” in our yard fell over from its weight.

Upcoming in Bali on both occasions as shown in the itinerary, staying at the same property, we’ll have a full staff. There, if we choose we won’t have to cook if we’d prefer not to do so.

Although I need to have a close handle on how food is being prepared, the owners explained we can shop, if we’d prefer and the cook will chop, dice and prep food while I put it together seasoning and finishing. 

The staff in Bali will serve our needs throughout the day handling all household tasks, later setting the table, preparing the meal and cleaning up after dinner, later departing for the evening.  

We never stop noticing a pretty flower.

What will I do with myself when I spend the better part of most days running about the house engaged in various household tasks most of which I don’t mind? Also, preparing our meals requires a little time each day.

We easily recall this similar scenario when living in Marrakesh, Morocco for almost three months beginning in March, 2014; never washing a dish, cooking a meal, making the bed, cleaning or doing laundry. It took some getting used to.

We discovered that we easily navigate being around people all day never failing to treat them kindly, respectfully and often with a degree of warmth and affection when appropriate. 

We think these are Rhododendron.  They have a velvety texture.

We generously provide tips when its time for us to go as will be the case going forward with hotel staff, cruise cabin steward and other cruise staff and various household staff members.

A lot of daily walking and swimming in the pool in Bali will be in order during these many months when we could easily become lazy with this lifestyle over these many months. 

Fortunately, during the 62 days of cruising, using the health club (me, only) and lots of walking are great options to keep us active and moving about along with the many tours we’ll be on during these periods. 

Roses continue to bloom in the cooler weather.

Regardless of the situations we encounter as we continue to travel the world, we make every effort to not only adapt to our surroundings at any given time but to also find ways to stay active and busy whether we have household help or are on our own.

We hope your day is filled with that which you find appealing, that which works for YOU, whether its reading a book, watching a favorite TV show, taking a leisurely walk or pounding it out at the health club.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2015:

The beaks of the Albatross are used for preening and for signs of greeting. Or, they may be used in aggression if an intruder threatens them or the nest.  One year ago, we spent considerable time at their nesting site.  For more details, please click here.

How does it feel having household help?….More photo outside the Medina…

As we left the restaurant on Monday, we walked the newer area checking out other restaurants in the area, reading their menus posted outside.

It’s raining again today making it necessary to cancel our plans to go out.  Impossible to use an umbrella in the crowded souks to avoid poking a passerby in the eye, we’d get wet as the rain soaks through the open slats in the ceilings of the souks.  Not our idea of a pleasant outing, we’ve decided to say indoors.

After exiting the souks its necessary to walk through the Big Square only adding more of a likelihood of getting soaked.  The last time we went out in the rain, my shoes were soaked from being splashed by fast moving motorbikes and being shoved into puddles by less than courteous tourist crowds.

Hey, this is the nature of living in the Medina which we accept graciously.  Content to stay in today we look forward to another great dinner made by the loving hands and heart of Madame Zahra, assisted by Oumaima and later Adil who serves at dinnertime.  We appreciate their generosity and diligence to our service.

This looked like a quaint French restaurant but, after reviewing their menu, there were few options we’d have chosen.

For us, having “servants” (excuse the word) would never be a preferred way of life.  At times, we’ve heard others say, “If I won the lottery, I’d want people to wait on me.”  Not us. 

Although, most of my working life I did employ a helper to tackle the big weekly cleaning and many live-in nannies when my two sons were young. I was a single mom for nine years, owned a business and had no family in town to help.  Other than those circumstances, I’ve never thought of or desired service staff as we have available to us now.

Over the past almost 23 years that Tom and I have been together, we’ve never minded the day to day cooking, dishes, tidying up after ourselves, laundry and making the bed. 

It’s spring in Morocco now with flowers blooming.

With our dear past cleaning helper in Minnesota, Teresa, coming to clean once a week, we had it all under control. We felt fortunate to have the help but, we always cleaned up before she arrived, removing any clutter, making it easier for her to work.

We do the same here at Dar Aicha.  We leave no clutter for the staff to handle picking up our bath towels, changing the empty roll of the TP, clearing our stuff off of counter tops and placing all of our dirty clothes in the designated laundry bags in each of the two bathrooms we use (I have my own bathroom to avoid awaken Tom in the mornings if I arise earlier).

When we first arrived, it felt awkward to get up from the dinner table and not to clear the dishes.  In a short time, we accepted it as one would when dining in a restaurant, never giving the dishes a thought.

Flowers cascading down a wall.

We never ask nor do we expect the staff to “wait on us” during the day.  If we need something, we get it ourselves.  We make our ice cubes using the trays provided, make our pitchers of iced tea and refill our glasses as needed, never thinking of asking for assistance.

Madame Zahra and Oumaima clean the house seven days a week arriving around 9:00 am when we’re always up and dressed for the day.  The stone floors are all washed from room to room, no less than twice a week.  They clean our bathrooms from top to bottom daily, replacing soaps, TP and tissue as needed.  The entire riad is always clean, dust and dirt free.  It’s hard work which we fully appreciate.

After we’ve eaten dinner we’re sensitive to getting up from the dining table as soon as we’re done with our meal. The three of them stay until the table is cleared and the dishes are washed, often until well after 7:00 pm.  We usually have dinner at 6:30.  We’re well aware that we’d like for them to be able to leave as soon as possible to enjoy what’s left of their evening.

This is a Vietnamese restaurant with the menu written in Arabic and French. 

Once a week we pay Samir for the meals we’ve had during the previous week at a rate of US $24.56, MAD 200 per dinner for the two of us.  Halfway through our time here which will be next Monday, we’ll generously provide tips for all of them and then again prior to leaving.  We’ve found this show of appreciation midway through our stay is important for their morale, especially when our typical stay is considerably longer than other guests.

Are we getting tired of not being able to cook? The only thing I miss is having our usual coleslaw with dinner.  Tom misses the homemade pizza.  I’m sure that within a day of arriving in Madeira we’ll be off to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to make both of these and more. 

Do I miss doing laundry?  I haven’t done laundry since last summer when we lived in Tuscany from June 16th to August 31st making it seven months since I’ve done a load of wash and hanging it outdoors. 

This is a laboratory which patients visit for various blood and medical tests.

Always a proud laundress acquiring good skills over the years in the careful handling of stains, white and delicates, I must admit I do kind of miss it.  I used to do laundry daily, taking a weird sense of pleasure in the feel of the warm clothes coming out of the dryer, the folding and putting it away. 

Now, all we do is put away our neatly folded clothing left on a cloth bench upstairs near the bedrooms, everything perfect and folded more neatly than I may have done in the past.

How do we feel to have people around us for over 10 hours a day?  Many days, we’re out for almost half a day.  When we don’t dine in, which is approximately every other day, they do the usual cleaning in the morning leaving by noon with the remainder of the day to spend as they choose. 

Many apartment buildings line the main roads.

As for days such as today, when they’re with us all day, we don’t mind at all.  Adil is in and out a few times each day. After cleaning, Madame and Oumaima spend most of their time in the kitchen preparing the food, occasionally resting in a little room off of the kitchen.  While we’re dining they stay in the kitchen closing off a curtain to the dining room providing us with privacy.

The sweet sound of Madame Zahra’s voice when we hear her talking on the phone or to the others, reminds us of Julia Child’s voice, high pitched and tender.  That sound will be etched in my mind forever, as truly music to my ears.

Tonight, dining in on this day of heavy rain, I just heard the front door close as Madame took off covered from head to toe to purchase the food for tonight’s dinner at the shops she and the locals use, assuring the freshest of products. 

Once we entered this small shopping area where we purchased our nuts and cheese, it reminded us of a Walmart store.  With many open nut stands appealing to tourists in the Big Square, it is tempting to purchase them there.  But after purchasing a small bag of pistachios, at US $18.42, MAD 150, which were unsalted, we prefer to purchase salted nuts for one third of the price at the grocery store. Also, with my recent illness, we are especially careful in not purchasing any food from open stands exposed to the elements, insects and possible unsanitary conditions. 

All of the local produce is organic, although not certified and the meat, grass fed from local farms. 

The chickens are particularly interesting, as is usual in true free range organic chickens…there’s lot less meat on them when they aren’t being fed grains and chemicals.  When I can clean off a leg bone in two bites I smile knowing this is good chicken.

The local farmers can’t afford to use all the chemicals used in US farming.  Recently, we discovered that 80% of the world’s pesticides are used in the US. Oh, I won’t get on this soapbox today but, perhaps another day.

It was surprising to see a familiar brand name store.

We’ve adjusted to their assistance and their presence, feeling grateful to have these kind, caring and special individuals tending to our needs.  It’s truly an experience we’ll always remember, adding to our repertoire of the unique episodes in our continuing journey to see the world.

It’s all good.

I tried to get a photo of all of the Seven Pillars that represent the original builders of the city of Marrakech.  In the fast moving traffic, this was all I could capture. 


Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2013:

We posted this photo of the beach in front of our home in Belize on the day there was a problem with the city water, leaving us without water for showering, flushing etc.  For the full story from that day, please click here.