Are killer bees next?…We survived Cyclone Nisarga unscathed…Photos of damage in Mumbai…

Mumbai cyclone
This is the first such storm to hit Mumbai in over 100 years. Dark clouds hang over the city ahead of cyclone Nisarga making landfall in Mumbai.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today’s photos are a result of damage caused by Cyclone Nisarga from this site.

Neither of us had experienced a cyclone/hurricane in our lives. Living in Minnesota, we had plenty of experience with severe storms, and on occasion, tornadoes. But, a cyclone was a new experience, and we had no idea what to expect. 

Mumbai cyclone
The FedEx MD-11 plane skids off the runway while landing during heavy rain as severe cyclonic storm Nisarga made landfall at Mumbai Airport.

Fortunately, (and sadly) there was only one fatality when it could have been many more. As it turned out, Mumbai planned well, and many lives were saved by evacuating thousands of residents and getting fishing boats docked at the shore rather than out to sea.

The damage from high winds and flooding was substantial, but overall the city survived well. Our hotel didn’t incur any apparent wear from what we could determine.

Mumbai cyclone
Sea waves strike at a slum near the Arabian sea as cyclone Nisarga makes its landfall on the city’s outskirts in Mumbai.

During the worst of the storm, we stayed hunkered down in our room, never having the necessity of waiting it out in the corridors. I continued my hourly walks, which allowed me to look out a few windows at the ends of the corridors to see the roofs and parts of buildings flying in the wind.

We are grateful and sad for those who suffered and were disrupted during the storm, especially Covid-19 patients who had to be moved from makeshift tents and outdoor facilities. One can’t imagine their terror when being moved while they were suffering from the devastating effects of the virus.

Mumbai cyclone
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) shows NDRF personnel clearing fallen trees from a road in Alibag town of Raigad district following cyclone Nisarga landfall on India’s western coast. Cyclone Nisarga ripped roofs off homes in a coastal village near Mumbai after officials ordered offices and factories to shut and told people to stay home, reversing a move to ease a coronavirus lockdown in the Indian megacity.

This morning, my son Richard texted (tongue in cheek), “Will it be killer bees next?”  I wrote back, “Maybe it will be a meteor rushing toward Earth, or Godzilla roaming the streets, or even Sharknado with sharks flying all over the city of Mumbai?”

We say this to inject a little lightness into this otherwise challenging situation. I guess I’ve spent too much time watching “disaster” movies, and now real life is even more frightening than such movies as “Contagion.”

Mumbai cyclonesA family was looking for shelter during rainfall ahead of Cyclone Nisarga’s expected landfall in Navi Mumbai. Heartbreaking.

It’s still raining very hard, and we still can hear thunder as we’re sitting safely ensconced in our comfy chairs with the darkening drapes closed with lamps on in the room. Most days, we’ve kept the drapes closed to keep the room cooler, but in the past few days, we’ve done so to provide some protection from the wall of glass if high winds caused any issues.

We watched the movie “Rocketman,” entertaining us for a few hours during the day and at night, we’ve been binge-watching two TV series; the Scottish show, “Dr. Finlay” and the 60-episode Australian show, “A Place to Call Home” on Acorn TV on Amazon Prime, a genuinely addictive show we’ve found exceptionally entertaining.

Mumbai cyclone
A corporation worker works to clear an uprooted tree that fell on the road during Cyclone Nisarga at Juinagar in Navi Mumbai.

Right now, anything we can do to “get out of our heads” for a few hours each day is worthwhile. As mentioned, at 3:00 pm, we start streaming our favorite shows.

We pause the shows once an hour for my corridor walks, donning a face mask, putting my shoes back on, and carrying my phone with a headset to listen to podcasts to make the walking time pass more quickly. The latest time of the day I embark on the walk is 6:00 pm. Some days, I can finish earlier once I log ten walks for a total of 2 miles, 3.2 km. 
Mumbai cyclone
Vehicles get damaged by uprooted trees due to strong winds after cyclone Nisarga at Sanpada in Navi Mumbai.

Each time I head out the door, I attempt to walk faster than the last time rather than increase the distance. Keeping track of my stats on the Fitbit, I’d purchased in the US has also been a good diversion.

Much to my surprise, Tom has also been exercising by climbing the stairs in the stairwell near our room. He does this each day while our space is being cleaned. It’s good to see him up and moving around instead of sitting in one spot day and night.

Mumbai 15
Damaged billboards due to strong winds triggered by Cyclone Nisarga, at Bandra Reclamation in Mumbai.

Today, we’re back to our usual routine, now that the worst of the cyclonic storm is moving through with minor damage. 

Yesterday, we read a news story that South Africa won’t open its international travel borders until February 2021. Oh.

Mumbai cyclone
People scramble to enter a truck during an evacuation of a slum on the Arabian sea coast in Mumbai on Wednesday, as Cyclone Nisarga makes landfall.

Have as pleasant a day as you can as we all continue to make our way through this pandemic.

Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2019:

Front door view from this property we’d booked one year ago, from August 23, 2019, to September 6, 2019.  The cost for 14 nights is Euro 2125, US $2395.96, which averages to Euro 151.75, US $171.14. This amount is higher than we’d usually pay, but we’ve balanced the budget by choosing varying prices on all four properties.  For the listing on this cottage, please click here. For more details from this post, please click here.

Battening down the hatches…Cyclone Nisarga is on her way to Mumbai within the hour…

Nisarga Cyclone Live Tracking: Know The Current Location of Cyclone, Get Movement Alerts
This morning’s weather map of the anticipated course of Cyclone Nisagra. As you can see, Mumbai is located on the map in the dark green area indicated as the cyclone’s path.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

It’s morning in Mumbai, June 3, 2020. Cyclone (hurricane) Nisarga is expected to make landfall in Mumbai in the next few hours. There’s nothing we can do other than to stay put in our hotel room, away from the full wall of glass windows, heading out to the corridor if it becomes dangerous to our safety.

At this point, with varying news reports online, each stating different information, we have no idea about the specifics other than what we feel is accurate on IndiaToday TV news.

There hasn’t been a cyclone of this magnitude in Mumbai in 129 years. However, it appears they’ve evacuated almost 100,000 people living in high-risk areas where their homes consist of tents, huts, and lean-to-type properties. As a result, disaster control may not have the necessary experience in handling this type of disaster. 

This leaves millions of citizens in danger who reside in less sturdy buildings whose roofs and entire properties may be subject to the ravages of this untimely disaster.

Covid-19 patients in tents and less secure properties have been relocated to areas with generators to ensure ventilators and other mechanical life-support systems are protected by using generators.

Last night, we called the reception staff to inquire if the hotel is protected with generators. Like most major hotels, they assured us we would have a continuous power source if the local infrastructure fails during the storm and after that.

However, there is no guarantee that WiFi will continue if local towers are felled during high winds, expected as high as 125 km, 78 miles per hour, or more, with definitive speculations unknown at this time.

Last night, after we’d gone to bed while watching the news, we got up at midnight and packed, in the event we’d have to evacuate in a hurry. We doubt this is a possibility. 

On the fourth floor of this large 334 room hotel, we’re anticipating we’ll be safe. However, we’re relatively close to the Arabian Sea, from where Cyclone Nisarga is rapidly gaining speed and intensity.

On the news at the moment is a video of the thousands of fishing boat owners getting into the sea to secure their boats further, covering them with makeshift tarps and coverings. This is their livelihood. Losing their boats to this storm will only be yet another disaster after Covid-19 has left so many low-income families suffering.

We’re not adding any online news reports to today’s post when each publication is vastly different from others, except for the following, seeming factual information from this site which doesn’t allow me to copy and paste their story.

Instead, as we watch the TV news, we feel well informed as to the progression of the storm. The area most at risk where the “eye” of the cyclone will hit is Alihab, a mere 90 km, 56 miles from the center of Mumbai. The cyclone itself is over 125 km, 78 miles wide. 

Thus, if the cyclone eye hits its exact anticipated target of Alibab, a suburb of Mumbai, this area will be significantly impacted. As we know of hurricanes, cyclones, and storms, their path can change at any point.

As I upload today’s post shortly after 12:00 pm., we’ve begun to feel the beginnings of the storm. In an hour or more from now, the full brunt of the storm will reveal itself. It’s raining heavily at the moment, but the winds are yet to come.

If you don’t see a post from us over the next several days, please know that we’ll be back online as soon as we are able.

Prayers for all the people of India and the world, on this frightening day, during these frightening times in our lives.

Photo from one year ago today, June 3, 2019:

What an adorable Poll Dorset lamb on the property on the farm we rented in Devon, England, one year ago. Please click here for more details.

Update: Cyclone (hurricane) hitting Mumbai within 24 hours…Just in case..

Dear Readers,
In the event you do not see a post from us tomorrow or days beyond, it will be due to WiFi and/or power outage. A powerful cyclone (same as a hurricane) is expected to make landfall in Mumbai in the next 24 hours. 

A cyclone hasn’t hit Mumbai in a decade. Go figure.

We will return with a post immediately upon the restoration of services. To all our Mumbai and Indian readers, may you stay safe along with us. Please write to us with updates from your area once the WiFi service is restored.

Please see yesterday’s full post below or here.God speed.

Jess & Tom

Costa Rica’s devastation from tropical cyclone Nate with photos….

Although a few trees were lost on the grounds of the villa after Hurricane Nate, the many beautiful plants such as this Bromeliad and other flowers have survived, flourishing in the sun that’s finally appeared for a few hours each morning.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

A heartbreaking 11 souls perished in Costa Rica during Tropical Cyclone Nate over this past week.  Also, on October 6, the hurricane caused at least 38 deaths: 16 in Nicaragua, 7 in Panama, 3 in Honduras, and 1 in El Salvador.

From this site:
“Hurricane Nate was a tropical cyclone that impacted the Gulf Coast of the United States in October 2017. The fourteenth named storm and the ninth hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Nate, originated from a broad area of low pressure over the southwestern Caribbean on October 3rd.

A red alert was issued in neighboring Costa Rica for the Central Valley, Pacific coast, and Huetar Norte Region, while the Caribbean coast was under yellow warning. In the canton of Oreamuno, Cartago Province, a bridge and part of a riverside house succumbed to the forces of a swollen river. Flooding throughout the country has been described as the worst in recent years and led to at least 11 deaths, with two people missing. Approximately 11,300 residents were being housed in shelters. President Luis Guillermo Solís declared a national day of mourning on October 6th.”

We are located in the Central Valley, as mentioned above.  We spent days hunkered down, indoors and safe high on a hill from the ravages of the storm. So many of our friends/readers and family members contacted us to ensure we were safe, which we were. 

Other than the inconvenience of a few power outages, we stayed safely indoors, frequently peering out the glass walls of this house as the storm moved through over several days. Our only concern for our safety during the storm was the possibility of landslides throughout the valley.  Fortunately, our immediate location was spared.  Never in our travels have we experienced such non-stop heavy rains with howling winds. 

With the utmost of respect and condolences for the people of Costa Rica today, we share the photos from the CR Post, dated October 5, 2017. We pray for those who lost their lives and their families and for those who were injured and lost their homes.

With the rainy season continuing, we must admit we do miss entire days of sunshine. But, rather than focus on bad weather, we’ve become passionate about bird watching, more than anywhere in our past travels. There were too many photos from the CR Post to publish today, but we’ve included as many as possible.  (Wi-Fi limitations affect how many photos we can post).

Many times each day, we’re dashing from one spot on the veranda to another as we are beckoned by the call of a bird we may not have heard in past days.  We’ve found we have an automatic alarm clock, a yellow-breasted Social Flycatcher who descends on the veranda railing outside our bedroom door and makes so much noise we’re awakened every morning around 5:15. 

Of course, now we’re obsessed with spotting another Toucan when the owners of this property, Bev and Sam, and our neighbor Charlie both have stated they’ve yet to see one in the yard. Humm…safari luck. More of that yet to come!

May you have a safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 9, 2016:

A fisherman on the beach in Bali after pulling in his nets, most likely filled with squid.  For more photos, please click here.

Rushing to get to the market today with a short lull in the tropical depression…

Terraced farming in Costa Rica creates a lovely scene.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

View from the veranda during the tropical depression.  The clouds were so slow they were ground level in the valley.

These past days have been stormier than we’ve seen anywhere in the world during this past almost five years of world travel. Rain, wind, and constant humidity surround us as we’ve been safely situated midway up a mountain.

Terraced farming on a steep hill.

Over the past days, several stories of loss of life in Costa Rica have swirled around the news.  When house cleaner Isabel arrived a few minutes ago, she explained in Spanish that a 19-year-old young man, a close family friend, had been killed in a landslide a short distance from here. Heartbreaking.  She showed me his photo on her phone.

It’s easy for us to sit back and feel safe in this higher elevation, but even so, there’s a certain risk of more landslides for hilly properties. So this morning, it appeared we’d have a reprieve when the sun came out, and we ran around opening the many sliding glass doors.

After weeks of rain and clouds, a blue sky is a welcomed sight.

Over the past few days, we’ve been able to smell mildew and note dampness on everything we touch. For example, when we had to print a document on the in-house printer, the few sheets of paper in the printer were literally damp. Luckily, we’d recently purchased a block of paper, tucking it away in a desk drawer.  We’ve never experienced such constant humidity.

Luckily, the temperature is cool enough to avoid being miserable without air conditioning. One of the many overhead fans provides us with all the cooling we need. 

Lush greenery is found everywhere in Costa Rica.

Tom continues to “exercise the zippers” on our luggage that have metal zippers. The few new pieces we purchased in the US have plastic zippers, which greatly benefit us when we often live in humid conditions.

We’re grateful there’s a lull in the storm so we can get out soon to grocery shop. We haven’t shopped for food in two weeks, and we’re down to the “bottom of the barrel.” We’re out of vegetables and many staples. 

Pretty blankets for sale along the road.

When we shopped at PriceSmart two weeks ago today, we’d purchased enough meat and chicken to last for a month. But, with only 47 days remaining until we fly to Florida for the cruise, it makes no sense to purchase large sizes of anything.

We haven’t purchased any fish here. With an increased risk of eating farmed or shore-caught fish, my current gastrointestinal condition prevents me from any enthusiasm for overeating fish or seafood of any type. Unfortunately, this may not change when we are on the 30-night cruise.

Views from a recent road trip.

As I continue to prepare this post, the sun is gone, dark and ominous clouds rolling in. We’d better hightail out of here to get to the market for food, or we’ll be eating only meat and cheese for dinner.

Julio and the workers are here clearing the big tree that came down yesterday due to the storm.  Photos will follow tomorrow. 

Have a safe day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2016:

Notice the buffalo in the rear of this photo when we cautiously wandered down the road where Tom had his buffalo experience. For more details, please click here.

Late post today due to power outage during Costa Rica “red alert” tropical depression…Tropical storm Nate hits Costa Rica…

Although this area on the veranda where we sit most days has a roof over it, the cushions on the furniture are soaked after blowing around in the high winds.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Generally, pools have a system in place to avoid overflow due to heavy rains, which appears to be the case of the pool in the villa. But, unfortunately, it’s been raining non-stop for days!

At 12:30 am the power went out as Tropical Storm Nate made itself known to Costa Rica. It had been escalating over several days with heavy rains that prevented us from going out to shop.

We’d hoped to head out today, but it wasn’t possible with most stores closed due to power outages, mudslides, heavy rain, and relentless winds. As Tropical Storm Nate (soon to be Hurricane Nate) wreaks havoc in the Caribbean, Costa Rica quickly falls into the path of this storm.

This separate plunge pool becomes one with the main pool as the water level rose due to the pouring rain.

After the power went out, I awoke, aware the ceiling fan had stopped working and barely returned to sleep. Tom was the same, tossing and turning all night, often getting out of bed to check to make sure nothing was leaking into the house.

With this property newly remodeled in the past few years, everything seemed to be in order other than water leaking into the laundry room from an impossible-to-reach high window.

Fallen tree in the yard as a result of the storm.  We went outside with a golf umbrella to get this photo.

This morning Marian (property manager) called on my phone (loaded with a local SIM card) to see how we’re doing. After she and her husband AaD have lived here for 10 years, she explained they’d never seen a storm like this. They lived across the valley and had been without power since 9:30 last night. So at least our power outage hadn’t occurred until after we’d both gone to bed last night.

As always, during power outages, our biggest concern is the safety of our food in the refrigerator and freezer. But, lately, Tom had been storing extra ice in a large plastic bag at the bottom of the freezer. So, this morning, we loaded the large cooler with ice and the items in the fridge of the most concern. But, unfortunately, everything in the freezer was still frozen solid.

The tree behind this smaller tree toppled during the continuing tropical depression. We heard it fall earlier today.

Of course, our second most significant concern is being unable to post here. Luckily, I still had 60% of my phone’s battery left and would have been able to post a short blurb explaining the power outage and our inability to post.

As Tom and I sat in the living room chatting over recent worldwide events (a common source of conversation between us), the power came back on. Quickly we got to work taking care of the food, the wet pool towels we’d brought in from the veranda, the towels we’d used to mop up the floor in the laundry room, and our bath towels.

This photo can’t possibly illustrate how fast the rainwater is running down the slope of the driveway.

Generally, to save on wear and tear and costs for the owner, we use bath towels three times, leaving them to hang in the bathroom to dry for the next day’s use. However, recently, with the humidity at 90 to 100%, they wouldn’t dry. So, as a result, we’ve been washing them every day over these past few days.

The storm is expected to continue over the weekend. With shops closed, roads closed, and many mudslides, we’ll have to make do with the food we have on hand until it settles down enough for the shops to re-open.

A fallen banana tree also as a result of the storm.

For now, we’re hunkered down, safe indoors, and grateful we have power for the moment. However, it won’t surprise us if we have another outage over these next several days. So, if you don’t see us here at our usual time, please know we are thinking of you and be back online as soon as possible.

Have a dry, safe day filled with sunshine!

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2016:

A pig, pink and dirty, we encountered on a walk in Sumbersari, Bali. For more photos, please click here.

Visiting another town in Costa Rica…Naranjo…Chatting with friends on Skype…

 Basilica Nuestra Senora de las Piedade is one of the most beautiful Catholic temples in Costa Rica, unique in its Renaissance style, was built between 1924 and 1928.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Colorful flowers are blooming throughout the villa’s grounds.  Ulysses takes excellent care to ensure everything is perfectly groomed.

Naranjo is the capital city of the canton of Naranjo in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. It is also the name of the district that includes the city. The district of Naranjo covers an area of 25.75 km² and has a population of 19,760.

We visited Naranjo last week when we had the rental car hoping to see this well-known Catholic church. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we discovered the church was temporarily closed due to renovation. So instead, we wandered around the center of town and the local park, observing yet another community filled with friendly people.

Many towns in Costa Rica have Central Parks such as this in Naranjo.

From this site
“The town of Naranjo, settled in 1830, was originally known as “Los Naranjos” (the Orange Groves) due to the abundance of orange trees in the surrounding area. Although the name has been shortened and the amount of orange trees lessened, this city of 35,000 has remained an important agricultural hub for Costa Rica.

Set at the base of the Espírito Santo Hills in Costa Rica’s gorgeous Central Valley, the area surrounding the town is stippled with farms growing all kinds of crops– plantains, corn, tapioca, coffee, rice, beans, sugar cane, tobacco, and beef, to name a few.

On a recent road trip, we visited the town of Naranjo to see this church, the Basilica de Naranjo.

The coffee plantations are perhaps the best represented, and plantation tours are becoming increasingly popular among tourists. This fertile area is drained by the Grande Colorado, Molino, Barranca, and El Espino rivers, and, at an elevation of 3,398 feet (1,036 meters), the temperature is a consistently cool 68° F (20° C).

Each year a large festival honoring of the Virgin de Lourdes brings in visitors from all over the country to Naranjo. Additionally, there is an attractive baroque-style church in town that is worth checking out.
Many local citizens travel on foot to get to around town when cars are expensive and bus service is limited.
CIn the Alajuela province’s capitalcity of the canton Naranjo  Naranjo is 27 miles (44 km) from San José. The town of Sarchí, renowned for its abundance of fine handicrafts, is 3 miles (5 km) west. The road north leads to Ciudad Quesada and the Northern Lowlands, and is one of the country’s most picturesque drives. Other popular destinations, including Monteverde, Arenal, and Guanacaste, can be reached from here as well.”
The warmth and friendliness of the people of Costa Rica are evident wherever we may travel. They often smile when walking past us and many often say, “hola or Buenos Dias”. 
Interesting architecture.
There’s no doubt in our minds that in many countries locals can determine that we’re Americans. I’m not sure if there’s an “American look” but we must have it since even before we speak, it’s often presumed. 
Speaking of friendliness, after spending nine weeks in the USA this past summer and after seeing many of my girlfriends, I couldn’t go back to our lives of world travel without staying more closely in touch.
The clock is the correct time.

In these past two months since we left the US,  I’ve had the opportunity to speak with four of my long-time girlfriends on Skype.  No words can express how enjoyable this has been. Yesterday, I talked to my dear friend Colleen, who worked for me 35 years ago in real estate.

We’ve stayed in close touch by email and Facebook these past years. In 2013, while on a cruise in the Caribbean, I visited her in person when she lived on the island of St. Thomas for many years. 
The municipal building is located across the street from Central Park in Naranjo.
I was always impressed how she’d left her life in Minnesota behind to live on the exotic island for decades, never knowing at the time, that we’d do something similar. Over those many years, we easily stayed in touch by phone and later by email. 
We’d hope to see the interior of the church but it was closed due to renovations. So instead, mass is held outdoors on the grounds of the basilica.
However, we hadn’t talked since we visited St. Thomas on April 17, 2013, when St. Thomas was a planned port of call during the cruise. Click here for our post from that date. She’s since moved to Florida. 
We talked about the many hurricanes she experienced over the years in St. Thomas and the worry and concern she shared with other Floridians over the recent devastating hurricanes. Fortunately, her current home weathered the storm well and all is fine and good for her.
This historic outdoor altar is where church services are held while the church is under construction.
Tom walked with me to the center of town where Colleen and I planned to meet and went back to the ship on his own. Later in the day, he met me at a nearby fountain and walked back to the boat.  It was beautiful to see her then and equally excellent to chat on the phone yesterday.
Typical roadside scene.

We promised to stay in touch by phone in the future providing we have a good enough Wi-Fi signal.  Recently, with other friends I’ve done the same, spending time every so often chatting on Skype or now, Facebook’s own free voice chat module. 

My sister Susan and I have been talking every week, Julie less often and other family members as their schedules allow. But, in today’s world, we’ve found talking on the phone is less of a priority to younger generations when social media and texting play such a more significant role. 

Cattle near the road on a small farm.
Today, we’re staying in. We haven’t been able to use the pool for many days due to heavy thunderstorms with lots of lightning throughout most of the day. Of course, it’s still the rainy season (aka green season) which continues from May to November but we’re making the best of it, never letting the rainy days get us down. 
We’re content. We hope you are too!

Photo from one year ago today, September 27, 2016:

We lounged in this (one of many) cabanas overlooking the sea at Puri Bagus Lovina, in Bali with iced tea in hand and books to read on our phones as we continued the five-day process at the nearby immigration office to extend our visas.  For more details, please click here.

Cyclone Debbie now upgraded to Category 4…Safari luck prevails…Sightseeing photos…

Bob, our kindly landlord, and new friend, have insisted on driving us to see some of the sights in the area, including the beautiful historic St. Patrick’s Estate as shown in today’s photos.

For our readers who may be unsure about our current location, we are very far from the effects of Cyclone (hurricane) Debbie, which is expected to make landfall later today in Queensland (in the north of Australia). Here’s a link to a local newscast regarding Cyclone Debbie.

Had we been in Queensland, as we were in June 2015 when we first arrived in Australia, we’d have been close to the area and most likely feel the full effects of this dangerous storm.

It appears the location wasn’t open to the public due to an upcoming wedding, but Bob managed to get us onto the grounds for photos.

Instead, we’re a several-hour flight south of Queensland, living in New South Wales, a 30-minute ferry ride from Sydney. So again, we send prayers for the safety and well-being of the citizens of Queensland as they work their way through this difficult next number of days. 

Yesterday’s visa extension brought us a significant round of “safari luck,” over which we continue to reel with enthusiasm, allowing us to stay in Australia for our final 25 days with a renewed sense of lightness and peace of mind. Whew!

Then, last night, shortly after, I headed to bed to read news on Tom’s phone (while he used my laptop). Now that we’re down to one phone and one laptop, he called out to me. I jumped out of bed, wondering what required my immediate attention.

“St Patrick’s Estate is a site of exceptional historical and cultural significance – a Manly landmark located south-east of Manly, a beachside suburb of northern Sydney. Established as the first National Catholic Seminary in Australia in 1889, St Patrick’s College and Archbishop’s Residence (located on the Southern part of the precinct) are legacies of a unique time in the growth and development of the Catholic Church in Australia.” (From the website).

Alas, he had great news. He’d checked the tile I’d made on my desktop for the United States Postal Service package tracking, and something had changed for the first time since February 11th when it stopped showing any progress. See here for details:

Date & Time Status of Item Location
March 26, 2017, 1:50 pm             Arrived              LOS ANGELES, 
Your item arrived at an origin transfer airport in INTERNATIONAL, LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES, on March 26, 2017, at 1:50 pm. The item is currently in transit to the destination. 
March 25, 2017, 11:21 pm Processed Through Facility ISC LOS ANGELES CA (USPS),
March 25, 2017, 11:21 pm Arrived at Facility ISC LOS ANGELES CA (USPS),
February 11, 2017, 9:30 pm Customs Clearance ISC LOS ANGELES CA (USPS),

Our rep, Eric at our mail service in Las Vegas, Nevada, Maillinkplus, stated that perhaps his 12-day tracking process located the package, which apparently had been sitting in a warehouse in Los Angeles, California, and was finally on the move again. Eric also wrote that it’s rare for an express priority package to become lost. 

What a magnificent building!

We’ve worried that our package may have been the exception and that the most important package we were ever about to receive had been lost in transit. Here’s a list of some of the items in this package that caused us to worry to this extent:

1.  All of our tax documents (with social security numbers on them) for 2016, resulting in the fact that we’ll have to file an extension with our accountant in Nevada.
2.  Our two new driver’s licenses for Nevada, for which we’d applied online. Without these, we wouldn’t rent a car when we arrive in Minnesota in 60 days.  If we reapplied, the process would never be completed and shipped in time if, in fact, Nevada DMV would allow us to request replacements from outside the US. (They only allow one online renewal every four years).
3.  My new unlocked smartphone. 
4.  A one-year supply of my contact lenses.  

The lawn was prepared for an upcoming wedding at St. Patrick’s Estate.

With items #1 and #2, our identity could easily be stolen for any illegal purposes, putting us in a dire state. So we’d decided if the package weren’t found soon, we’d have no choice but to sign up for one of those ID credit protection companies.

Plus, we hadn’t insured the package (due to the high added expense) since the cost to Tasmania, where we had it shipped, was planning to reach us in three weeks before we left the Huon Valley. 

View from the site of the upcoming wedding, hampered somewhat by a hazy, cloudy day.

It wasn’t that the value/cost of the contents of the package was that high. Instead, it was the significance of the first two items listed above. Everything else could easily be replaced. 

The shipping rate automatically includes AU $131, US $100 insurance, and money-wise, we’d only have been out a few hundred dollars more, not worth paying the high rates for added insurance.

Alternate view of the bay.

In any case, there’s nothing we can do but wait to see if the package arrives in Tasmania in time to be shipped to us here in the Sydney area. Anne, our former landlord, has agreed to forward it to us when and if it arrives. If it makes it to Tasmania in time, we’ll pay extra to have it shipped to us overnight.

If it doesn’t arrive on time before we sail away on April 22nd, we’ll have Anne send it to Minnesota, and it will be waiting for us when we arrive. We won’t rent a car until we have that package in hand with our driver’s licenses.

The church is located at St. Patrick’s Estate.

We’re hopeful, based on yesterday’s tracking update. Maybe safari luck will kick in one more time for the arrival of the package. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and post the result of this situation here.

One of several entrances to the main building.

Thanks to our thoughtful readers for the many emails and Facebook messages we received wishing us well on the immigration issue. Your kindness means the world to us.

Today, another cloudy and rainy day, we’ll grocery shop since we are totally out of food.  Anticipating we may be asked to leave the country, we used every last bit of food over this past week. Thanks to our thoughtful and kindly landlord Bob for driving us to shop and sightsee. 

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2016:

Our favorite cow, a neighbor, regularly visits our “neighborhood” walks while living on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  It was Easter on this date last year, and we posted this as our Easter photo. For more photos, please click here.

Technology dwindling…Tomorrow’s trip to Australian Immigration…

Volleyball competitors warming up for tournaments.

Hurricane/Cyclone Debbie is building strength expected to hit Queensland’s coast on Tuesday morning (48 hours from now). Unfortunately, for our thoughtful and concerned readers, this is nowhere close to our location.

In the US, it’s comparable to a hurricane coming ashore in New England, with us being in Georgia at the time resulting in no risk for us in this area. However, we pray for the safety and well-being of all Australian residents as they “batten down the hatches” in preparation for this building cyclone.

There were many lifeguards on the beach ready for action if necessary.

On to yesterday’s activities, including a trip to the computer repair store in Manly…Bob dropped us at the computer repair shop in Manly shortly after they opened at 9:00 am. He wanted to stay and wait while we went inside to drive us to our next stop.

Lots of bathers and surfers enjoying the morning surf.

We appreciated his kind offer, but we knew we’d manage fine on our own. We were quite a distance from the outdoor mall, the Corso, in Manly, where we planned to stop at a pharmacy for a few items if we had to leave the country tomorrow after our morning appointment at the Australia Immigration Office. 

There was a heavy cloud cover with occasional peeks of the sun through the clouds.

At least we’d have enough products with us if we’re unable to return to Australia before the cruise on April 22nd. As the time approaches, it’s a daunting thought, now only 24 hours away. I wonder how much sleep we’ll get tonight. 

As much as we’d like to let such thoughts escape us today and tonight, it’s difficult to ignore.  Having had these two weeks to imagine the possibilities, we’ve had ample time to digest and contemplate what may transpire.

Families at the beach playground reveling in fact it wasn’t raining for the first time in weeks.

As to yesterday’s trip to the computer store…we paid an AU 55, US $42 diagnostic fee when we left the laptop, told to call at noon to see what could or could not be done to repair it. 

Many luxury condos and apartments line the beach road with small units beginning well over a million dollars.

We left the shop hopeful the problem was repairable with the major concern of repairing it. Would we get it back by Monday, in case we’re required to leave the country?

We reframed our thinking, hoping to gear up for a positive day, and began the long walk along Manly Beach’s esplanade to be thrilled to see the level of activity and excitement in the popular beach area. A popular annual volleyball tournament was in full swing, along with the biggest rash of surfers and swimmers we’d seen anywhere in the world at any given time.

Volleyball on Manly Beach.

As we made our way to the Corso outdoor mall, we enjoyed the walk. Lately, we’d hardly walked much with all the rain keeping us indoors. Checking my FitBit several times a day, I’ve been disappointed with how few steps my device has logged over these past few weeks.

Man and child making sandcastles on the beach.

Yesterday, we logged nearly 10,000 steps when later in the day, Bob insisted on taking us out for some sightseeing, during which we took many great photos along with those from the morning walk.

After a stop at the pharmacy in the Corso, we continued to walk toward the wharf where we hoped to catch the free Hop, Skip, Jump bus that would take us back to our Fairlight neighborhood, requiring more walking to reach our holiday rental.

More surfers in the water.

Upon our return, it was almost noon. We called Ben at the computer store, only to be told Tom’s laptop was deader than a doornail. There was no way to repair it without incurring more cost than a new laptop. This was not good news.

Schedule of tournaments for the annual Volley Fest event in Manly Beach.

With our missing shipment from the US, which included my new smartphone, and now, with Tom no longer having a laptop, we’re down to only two significant devices. Between us, we between only one laptop and one phone. Ouch.

Entrance to Volley Fest activities.

After we discover our fate tomorrow at the immigration office and if we’re allowed to stay in Australia, we’ll order a new laptop to be shipped here to us, insured with guaranteed three-day delivery, entirely possible from the USA to Australia. 

Lone surfer on Manly Beach while sun peeking through the clouds.

Of course, we’ll pay a premium for expedited and insured shipping, which we’re willing to bear when the alternative is buying locally at considerably higher prices along with modifications suitable for Australia, not the USA. 

Tomorrow, our post will be live later in the day after we return from immigration, especially if “safari luck” kicks in. On the other hand, if we have to leave promptly, we’ll post a short notice and will do a complete post once we arrive at the new out-of-the-country destination. Either way, no more than five hours later than usual, some posts will be uploaded on our current status.

Bleachers where spectators can watch the competition.

Please keep your fingers crossed for us! Back at you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2016:

Our favorite cria, Mont Blanc, wasn’t gaining weight, although occasionally, he’d munch on a bit of vegetation. We watched his progress daily, only to a sorrowful end some weeks later. For more details, please click here.

Hurricane Matthew…Natural disasters wreak havoc throughout the world…Inconveniences as opposed to danger…

Notice the buffalo in the back of this photo when we carefully strolled along the road where Tom had his buffalo experience.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Misty morning with river and sea views.

First, we would like to send our love and prayers for people experiencing the wrath of Hurricane Matthew.  We’ve heard from several friends in Florida and hope that they along with millions of others in many locations in Matthew’s path, stay safe along with their families, friends and homes.

A new home in the neighborhood.

Yesterday, we spotted numerous online stories of the inconvenience experienced by cruise passengers when their cruise was diverted to New York (instead of the Caribbean) as a result of the hurricane.

Many passengers tweeted about their frustrations when they ended up in New York without warm clothes and shoes. Certainly, we appreciate the inconvenience and disappointment in discovering their cruise has changed or been canceled, as has been the case, for many US eastern seaboard, Caribbean sailings scheduled over many days.

When we encounter gates such as this, our curiosity tempts us to explore what lies beyond. Respect for the owner’s privacy prevents us from further exploration.

The cruise lines have been working hard to find ways in which to compensate their passengers and many have offered reasonable compensatory packages. But, human nature prevails and many are irate.

Another property protected with a gate to discourage the curious.

Instead, we think of all the citizens of the many countries, islands, cities and states who’ve lost and will continue to lose much more than a cruise vacation. They run the risk of losing their lives when millions are unable to evacuate while making every effort to protect themselves and their loves ones.

I suppose it’s all relative. It’s easy to feel frustrated when plans change beyond our control and we’re left to the decisions of others to determine our next step. We have no doubt those passengers would have chosen their personal safety over so many days of sunbathing or shopping on a tropical island. 

This path was particularly tempting, but we didn’t go beyond the opened gate.

Not intending to be facetious in regard to the irate passengers, long ago we decided that regardless of any inconveniences, we’d always choose safety and well being over possible annoyances. 

We’ve been left waiting in less-than-safe airports for hours at a time when flights had been delayed or  canceled. We’ve experienced outrageous inconveniences going through security at various airports. We’ve encountered the endless power (and subsequent Wi-Fi) outages (including an outage only a few days ago). 

Many of these types of gates are kept locked.

We’ve had countless everyday items confiscated at security checkpoints, items difficult to replace in the upcoming location. Oh, we could go on and on. As frustrating as such situations may be at the time, we’ve always tried to remind ourselves that safety comes first. In doing so, we find ourselves diffusing some of the frustrations able to continue on with an alternate plan.

A food cart on the highway attracted several children after school.

Inconveniences?  Ah, they go with the territory. Traveling the world is wrought with frequent surprises we could never anticipate regardless of how prepared we may think we may be. We’re prone to check and recheck before each travel period and arriving at each new property.

Were we provided with a map and/or directions to find the property when many aren’t available in online maps? We spent hours in the middle of the night trying to find the property in Madeira  when our map wasn’t as specific as it could have been. Lesson learned.

Bridge over a river.

Is there a way for us to enter the property once we arrive? Is bottled water available upon entry if tap water is considered unsafe to drink? Is the Wi-Fi user name and password readily available?  Is the power turned on?  Who do we contact in an emergency?  It goes on and on.

We have no doubt any of the residents in the path of Hurricane Matthew would gladly trade places with the cruise passengers as they board up their homes and determine where, when, how and if they’ll escape the wrath of this massive storm.

Many markets such as this are found in every village.

Inconvenience, we can handle.  Loss of safety and well being is an entirely different matter. We pray for their safety.

May your day be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2015:

Badal, the neighbor Sewak’s dog, stopped by each night while we were having dinner in Fiji. We give him something good to eat, usually whatever meat we’d prepared for dinner.  For more details, please click here.