Day #254 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Looking forward…Funny photos…

Little decided to check out the inside of the house. I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! Neither of us couldn’t stop laughing about this for days. A few days later another exciting visit occurred. Check back for that photo soon for a hearty laugh.

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018 while living in Marloth Park and experiencing our favorite all-time warthog experience. Bear with me as we share this one more time, laughing all the while. See the link and a video here.

I struggled a little with the thought I might be boring our readers one more time while re-sharing, my favorite post from South Africa in 2018. The heading for the post was as follows:

Pig on the porch…Pig in the parlor…Warthog “Little” comes to call…

The previous day, Little gingerly climbed several steps up to the veranda, looking for pellets.

It was this very experience that left me reminiscing all this time while in lockdown in India for the past eight months, thinking about how much we miss living in the bush. It was only a short time later, we had a similar heading reading:  “Pig on the porch…Pig in the Parlor…Pig in the pond,” when our favorite warthog, Little did all three in one day, also adding lounging in the cement pond to cool off on a hot day.

For our new readers, we named him “Little” due to his tiny tusks when other warthogs of his size generally had much bigger tusks. After using his name over and over, he came to know it. I could call out in the garden when he was nearby and he’d come running.

Once he was situated, we brought him some fruit and veg.

Pigs are known to be smarter than dogs:

“Pigs are smarter than any other domestic animal. Their ability to solve problems, like the pig I.Q. test on The Joy of Pigs, is well-documented, and they are considered by animal experts to be more trainable than dogs or cats. … Pigs are difficult to classify.”

I sat quietly in the chair next to him, wanting to make him feel at ease.

For a PBS story on pigs and their abilities and intellect, please click here. People underestimate the intelligence and learning ability of pigs but as a lifetime pig enthusiast, I knew they were trainable and never hesitated to teach “Little” and a few other favorite warthogs in Marloth Park to respond to my voice, a somewhat high pitched squeal of my own.

Little became so attached to me and I to him, that he’d look into my eyes (warthogs have poor vision) while I spoke to him before he’d ever touch any pellets, carrots, and apples, I may have dropped on the ground at his feet. I fell in love with a pig. Throughout each day and night, my eyes scanned the garden looking for him. But, he easily made himself well known to me each time he arrived by snorting and digging up the dirt in the garden.

That day, he was determined when he climbed the steps, feeling more at “home.” He’s come up the steps to the veranda a few times in the prior weeks but then, it had been two consecutive days. 

On this date in 2018, when I was busy inside the house chopping carrots and apples for our wildlife visitors. It was summer during a drought. There was barely any vegetation for the animals in the conservancy and most homeowners and visitors purchased game-warden approved pellets, lucerne (hay), and vegetables to supplement their sparse diet during these difficult times.

Sure, some animal activists complain we shouldn’t feed wild animals and I get this concept. But, watching them die from starvation and thirst made no sense when most of us occupants in Marloth Park were more than willing to spend money and take time to feed them until the bush was lush again after the rains.

There’s always time in his busy schedule for a pellet break.

None of the wildlife we observed ever stopped grazing when everything was green again. But, coming to us for pellets seemed to be the same as giving your dog a treat. They grazed, drank from the cement pond which we kept clean with fresh water, and still stopped by for some pellets.

But, not only did Little and the other warthogs bring us considerable entertainment and laughter, other wildlife touched our hearts every single day. The thought of returning to such daily adventures warms our hearts. Will we see Little again? Warthogs wander for miles each day and it is possible he will find us again in our new location. Now, we can only hope and pray we’ll be able to get there in 41 days.

Little contemplating a nap after his big meal. He actually slept for about an hour.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2019:

It was six years ago today that Tom was checking out the views from one of the two houses we rented in Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii. Only days later our family began to arrive for the holidays. For more, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #253 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Apprehension follows enthusiasm…

The bright sun creates a sparkling sea, which we’ve cherished every day that we’d been in Maui. There had only been one totally overcast and rainy day in the six weeks we spent on the island, although it rained for short periods for many days, to later become sunny.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2014 while wrapping up our six-week stay in Maui, Hawaii. For more on that day’s story, including our final expenses for the stay, please click here.

We’d be foolhardy to assume we’ll actually be able to board that flight to South Africa without incident. When we arrived at the Mumbai Airport on March 20, at 1:00 am while waiting in a queue for hours, four days before the official lockdown, we were turned away for the flight to South Africa, as they were slowly closing their borders in a highly inconsistent manner.

All these photos shown today were taken on a sunny Sunday early afternoon.

We ended up having to return to our original hotel in Mumbai which informed us they were closing the next day. For that full story, please click here. It was a nightmare, to say the least. We haven’t forgotten a minute of those first few days until we eventually settled in this hotel.

Over the next few weeks and months, we were worried this hotel would be forced to close as well, often asking the reception staff for a status update. Miracle of all miracles, when almost every hotel in Mumbai had closed, the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai Airport remained open. For this, we are very grateful.

Hibiscus bloom year-round in the islands.

In yesterday’s post, I whinged, whined, and complained over issues we encounter each day, mainly with other guests not wearing masks and social distancing. Later in the day, I felt bad for perhaps sounding ungrateful. The hotel staff has been excellent, albeit inconsistent at times, and the hotel itself is very fine. To see yesterday’s whiny post, please click here.

Please don’t write and beat me up. I’ve done it enough to myself already. We are grateful to have been able to live in this safe, clean, air-conditioned hotel room for the past eight months, precisely 253 days to be exact, as shown above in the heading. We’re grateful for the kindness of the staff, the food, although limited due to our own design, the comfortable bed, and the good WiFi. We’re grateful we’ve been able to afford living here for what will prove to be 10 months by the time we leave, hopefully on January 12, 2021.

And yet a few new blooms magically appear in the tropical climate.

We always promised to tell our readers “like it is” and sometimes that isn’t “pretty,” The reality remains, we could be turned away at the airport again on January 12th. With COVID-19, everything can change on a dime. In the next 42 days, South Africa could again lock down their borders if cases escalate and if coincidentally it falls on the date we’re leaving. Also, India could prevent international flights from entering its borders.

At least, if we knew we couldn’t fly a few days earlier, we could redo our mindset and come up with an alternate plan, hopefully unlike the fiasco we encountered as mentioned above on March 20, 2020, in the middle of the night while exhausted and frustrated.

The shoreline from our condo’s beachfront.

Over the next few days, we’ll come up with a Plan B, should we be turned away at the airport once again. Once we make that decision, we’ll share it with you here. In the interim, we’ve both decided to temper our enthusiasm with a bit of trepidation and uncertainty.

To be able to arrive in Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa in the late afternoon of January 13, 2021, is, at this point, is a lofty dream. Pulling this off may prove to be a challenge. Thus, at this point, we’ll continue to take the necessary steps to proceed with those three flights, safely and without incident.

The blooming season in Hawaii has long since passed for some flowering plants and trees.

Even so, one can easily worry about contracting COVID-19 while riding in taxis, at the airports, or while on airplanes. None of this is easy. None of this is fun. But, we cannot stay any longer in strict confinement when on January 12th, it will have been almost 10 months.

We can only maintain a glimmer of hope, that all will transpire as planned and that we’ll arrive at our blissful destination, full of hope, joyful anticipation, and plenty of excitement.

The bananas in the yard grow bigger each day, soon ready for picking.

A heartfelt thanks to so many of our family/friends/readers for all of the encouragement and support we received on social media, through email, and comments on our site. We appreciate each and every one of YOU!!!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2019:

One year ago, we arrived in Nevada to visit family. Son, Richard is definitely a Vegas Golden Knight’s superfan when he had this mural painted on a wall in his backyard pool area. We’re looking forward to attending a game with him on December 8th. For more, 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 were staying 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 visit in the future. Have our criteria changed much over the years? From this post on November 11, 2013, we had outlined our criteria 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 in 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 longer 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. Going forward, if and when we’re able to freely travel in the future, these same criteria will be applicable and to our standards.

For the time being, we have booked this hotel room until January 3, 2021, when by happenstance, 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 arrival in Mombasa on Thanksgiving Day in 2013, we took this photo from the ferry, as another ferry was taking 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 #249 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A great memory from 2016…A good Thanksgiving after all…

 

It had been a long time since I’d done a seminar, but in my career in my old life, I had done many.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2016 while sailing on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas on the circumnavigation of the Australian continent when we were asked to do two seminars about our world travels. For more on that story, please click here.

Was it really four years ago that we were asked to conduct a seminar on world travel on a cruise ship? We did the first seminar on this date in 2016 and a few days later did a second seminar when asked by the ship activity director to do another when there were many requests from passengers who’d missed it.

Tom chimed in on several occasions and did a fabulous job. Fluffy hair, that day! Love him anyway!

Of course, we were pleased and flattered. We both enjoyed meeting all the people that flocked around us for the remainder of the cruise asking question after question. I have no doubt many of those participants are still following us now, four years later. We are so grateful for each and every one of you!

After we’d done the seminars, we spent some time inquiring as to the possibility of conducting such seminars on future cruises but the compensation offered was not worth it to us. Many speakers on cruises think they are getting quite a perk to speak on their favorite topic and return over and over again.

Note our talk scheduled at 11:15 am on the ship activities program.

For us, it wasn’t a worthwhile undertaking. The cruise line pays only for transportation to a specific port of call and the time spent on the ship. Once the “talks” are completed, the speaker(s) are dropped off at the next port of call to “fly away.” This didn’t work for us at all. It simply wasn’t worth it.

However, we thoroughly enjoyed those two experiences on that 33-night cruise, and of course, all the days and nights socializing with many Australians and a handful of Americans, including two couples with whom we spent most “happy hours” and many dinners. It was a fantastic cruise that we’ll always remember, among others.

I love the look on Tom’s face in this shot.

Now, with COVID-19 raging all over the world, the prospects of cruising again, anytime soon are limited. A few days ago, we posted a story about enthusiastic cruise passengers volunteering for “test” cruises to see how a cruise line will handle COVID-19 breakouts during a cruise. Here is the link to that post, entitled “Ten reasons to avoid test cruises.”

As for yesterday’s Thanksgiving, we made it through with ease and nary a moment of disappointment. We heard from so many family members, friends, and readers, it proved to be a busy day while we responded to everyone. We couldn’t have felt more loved with the many good wishes and concern for our well-being during our peculiar situation.

Tom managed the video presentation while I talked. We were (we are) a good team.

Did we miss the Thanksgiving dinner? Not at all. I had my usual chicken dinner (tonight is salmon night) and Tom had only breakfast and some bananas, he’d saved for later. We now refer to his daily bananas as “banana cream pie,” making our mouths water at the prospect of any type of pie at this point. Although, I’ve only eaten low carb/gluten-free pies in the past many years.

Now, with my drastically reduced carb regime and my lowest morning fasting blood sugar reading this morning of 82 mg/dl, 4.6 mmol/L, in 20 years, I continue to be ecstatic over my recent health improvements. This morning, for the first time in 20 years, I didn’t take any blood pressure medication. Of course, if it rises over time, I will revert back to small doses of the medication to keep it in check. Time will tell. In the interim, I will proceed with the utmost of caution, checking it several times a day.

There were over 100 people in attendance at our first seminar with many more at the second, a few days later.

Subsequently, in the future, I doubt I will be eating any of those “low carb” modified desserts that may raise blood sugar/blood pressure as I continue to strive to maintain these good numbers well into the future. Eliminating such sweet treats may literally add many good years to my life.

Today? Another low key day. In the evenings, we’ve been watching a fantastic show with many seasons and episodes, streaming on Hulu, ‘This is Us.” In the past, we’d considered streaming this popular show but never got to it until now. If you haven’t seen it, we highly recommend it. Any recommendations you may have for Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu, please send them our way!

Happy day to all and again, thank you for all the warm and heartfelt wishes over the holiday!

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2019:

About 8 inches of snow fell in Eden Prairie, Minnesota where we were staying with friends Karen and Rich. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

Day #248 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Happy Thanksgiving to family, friends and readers in the US….

Thanksgiving Images (2020): Download Free Pictures

No photos from a previous post are included today, other than the “year-ago” photo below.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American family, friends, and readers who are celebrating this special day of thanks. For our non-American readers/friends, here’s what Thanksgiving is all about:

From this site: Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia, and the sub-national entities LeidenNorfolk Island, and the inhabited territories of the United States. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays to occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and Brazil, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to a large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgment from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.”

In our old lives, this holiday had always been the second most important holiday we celebrated each year, with Christmas being the first. The days of loved ones gathered around our big table are long gone. But, we’ll never forget the love, warmth and good food on this special holiday.

I’d cook for days, making enough pumpkin pies and “leftovers” for each couple or attendee to return home with at least one enough food for another meal and a full pie as a reminder of our Thanksgiving celebration.

But, today, with COVID-19 rampant throughout the US and the world, this year’s holidays will be very different. With tremendous controversy over how many should attend a private home celebration, with restaurants closed and many observing COVID-19 precautions or not, this is a difficult time for all.

In touching base with our family and friends, we feel comfortable everyone will be practicing safe standards in their homes and outside their homes. Nothing would be sadder than to discover more family members who have contracted the virus during the holiday season or, at any time in the future. We pray for our family members and friends as well as for yours, to come through the holiday season unscathed.

And for us? Many have inquired as to what we’ll do today, which is already midday Thursday, November 26th in India. Not to sound as if we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we are doing nothing. Turkey is not served here. No special foods are being prepared and if they were, I doubt many would be befitting my way of eating.

I must diligently continue with my recent reduction in carbs to nearly zero each day, which has allowed several major health improvements over the past month. Thus, if a special dinner was offered, I would only eat the turkey. Plus, Indian cooks wouldn’t be familiar with preparing the typical American dishes, even if we chose to eat such a meal.

Tom is still working on reducing the weight he gained in the first several months of lockdown and continues to eat only one meal a day, a big breakfast which holds him through the day. So, a special meal, unless we’d been able to prepare it ourselves, means little to us at this point.

Instead, we’ll focus on what we are thankful for on this day, as we often do during this challenging time in a hotel room.

We are thankful for:

  • The safety and health of our loved ones and for us, while we maintain the status quo in this confinement now, eight months in the making.
  • Being together to provide love, comfort, and entertainment for each other, every single day.
  • Our health during this lockdown. We were concerned if one of us became ill and had to seek medical care outside the hotel, with COVID-19 raging in Mumbai, it would have been an awful scenario.
  • Ways in which to entertain ourselves with streaming shows, with good WiFi and thanks to a VPN (a virtual private network) that allows us to use Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Being able to mentally escape from the current reality has been exceedingly important during this extended period.
  • Financially, being able to afford to live in this nice hotel for the past 248 days.
  • That this hotel has stayed open during numerous lockdowns.
  • Due to Amazon India, we are able to purchase any supplies we need. Without this, we’d have no choice but to head outdoors where there are massive crowds in the streets.
  • Reordering my few prescriptions. The front desk will call and order any refills for medications we may need and it is delivered within 24 hours, without a prescription.
  • Posting each day and all the amazing concern and support of our family/friends/readers. Thank you all!
  • Laughter, our saving grace…

Please have a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving for those who celebrate and may each and every one of our readers experience love and thankfulness on this day and always, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 26, 2019:

With no new photos posted one year ago, here is a photo we posted from a walk on the beach at the Indian Ocean in Kenya in 2013. For more, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #247 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Crucial COVID-19 treatment information…

 

Stunning homes along the channel as we sailed out to sea from Fort Lauderdale.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 as we were sailing out to sea on Celebrity Infinity from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a partial circumnavigation of South America, ending in Buenos Aires, where we stayed for one month in a hotel, awaiting an upcoming cruise to Antarctica. For the story from that date, please click here.

A while back we conducted a vote as to whether we should include COVID-19 news and treatments which we may discover along the way. The results of that vote were 51% against, 49% for. Subsequently, we have diligently stayed away from controversies, and conspiracy theories revolving around the pandemic.

Cargo ship at the port.

Today’s comments do not consist of a controversy or a conspiracy. It is a simple medical fact…sugar is not an essential nutrient and is particularly harmful to seriously ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients. If only one of our readers or a loved one benefit from this information, this post would be well worth any backlash or negative comments we may receive from naysayers.

Unless one has been living under a rock for the past 10 years, the dangers of consuming sugar have been reiterated over and over again. Again, sugar is not an essential nutrient. If we never consumed any sugar in our lives, we’d never be missing a single nutrient vital for life.

Bridge in Fort Lauderdale.

As we all are aware sugar (and high carb foods that convert to sugar in our bodies upon consumption) is highly detrimental to diabetes or those with metabolic syndrome. Most recently, as I’ve strictly reduced my carb consumption and watched my blood sugar and blood pressure dramatically reduce to a point where I’ve been able to stop two 20-year medications, has been evident to me which I shared in this post a few days ago.

After spending no less than two hours a day researching ways in which I can improve my cardiovascular health, I discovered two things of the major causes of cardiovascular disease: Smoking (I was an occasional smoker in my youth) and sugar (in my case, the consumption of too many carbs/sugar in my diet from a lifetime of eating a low fat, high carb diet). It took 30 to 40 years for my cardiovascular disease to manifest.

People waving to ships as they make their way out to sea.

So, this morning a podcast popped up on my phone from Dr. Robert Cywes, a highly reputable surgeon who’s become involved in saving lives through diet who is known as the “Carb Addiction Doctor,” entitled, The Absolute Evidence, The Truth About Cardiovascular Disease, Sugar or Fat by Robert Cywes. The content of this podcast is found here:

Well, what does the above topic have to do with COVID-19? A lot actually. As Dr. Cywes explains, hospitalized COVID-19 patients who become unable to eat due to being intubated or too sick to eat, are given IVs containing GLUCOSE which is PURE SUGAR.

View of houses on the channel.

If you or a family member are pre-diabetic, diabetic, or suffering from a metabolic disease (and many other conditions), this massive dose of sugar can send the patient into a state of high blood sugar/diabetes requiring treatment with insulin which only exacerbates the virus to a point that may contribute to death. Why do we keep hearing about poor outcomes/death for diabetics and patients with other comorbidities? Many are being pumped full of sugar, only increasing their risk of death.

No, I am not a medical professional, nor do I profess to know more than the average person. But, it’s not rocket science to figure out that massive infusions of sugar is detrimental to many patients and the sugar is not needed. When I had open-heart surgery in 2019 in South Africa I made sure it was stated in bold type on my chart that no IV was to contain glucose. There are simple, non-glucose alternatives if fluids are needed, containing healthy fats and protein or if a short-term treatment, plain saline is generally safe.

So, there it is, folks. Listen to the above podcast. Do your own research. Talk to your doctor. Tell the hospital staff if you or a loved one are hospitalized. Save a life.

That’s all I have to say.

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

When we didn’t have any new photos to share here is a six-year ago photo we posted in 2019.  This view from the second-floor balcony at Whalers Village in Kaanapali Beach was breathtaking. For more photos from this post, please click here.

 

 

Day #246 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Ten reasons to avoid test cruises…

 

Tom’s hair was blowing with his back to the wind at Sails Restaurant in Diani Beach, Kenya. The cool ocean breeze was heavenly.

Today’s photos are from dining out at our favorite restaurant, during the final few days we spent in Diani Beach, Kenya in 2013. For more details, please here.

Each day when I walk the corridors, I listen to podcasts on various topics. Recently, on a mission to further improve my health I listened to podcasts from Dr, Ken Berry, Dr. Ali Nadir (cardiologist), Dr. Shawn Baker, Dr. Jason Fung, and Dr. Paul Saladino, and more, all of whom advocate a very low/zero carb way of eating, which with their advice, I’ve been able to lower my blood sugar and blood pressure dramatically as described in this post from a few days ago.

I equally enjoyed the cool ocean breeze at Sails. It was so hot that night, we were sweating. 

When I need a break from health podcasts, I often listen to travel-related podcasts relevant to today’s COVID-19 situation in hopes of learning something useful for our future travels. By accident, I came across Tony’s podcast site, La Lido Loca, and was fascinated to listen to his take on why it makes little sense to accept such an invitation. To listen to Tony’s excellent podcast on this topic, please click here.

Here are his 10 reasons why not to embark on a free test cruise:

  1. A cruise line is required to have the “free” passenger sign a document accepting the potential risks of participating. In other words, if you get the virus during or after the test cruise you will not have legal recourse against the cruise line.
  2. There is an expectation that test cruise passengers must have a doctor’s letter confirming they don’t have any pre-existing comorbidities that may result in severe cases of COVID-19 or even death.
  3. You will be virus tested at the port upon embarkation, upon disembarkation, and possibly many more times during the cruise.
  4. This is not normal cruising with all the fluff and activities cruisers may be used to. Passengers will be directed to activities during the cruise and subject to the guidelines and requirements that reduce the risks of becoming infected.
  5. Restrictive port experiences unlike those typically offered by the cruise line. You will not be able to wander on your own if any ports of call are visited, nor will you be able to choose a multitude of experiences.
    Tom’s crab au gratin was as delicious as usual.
  6. What happens if you or others get the virus, either in reality or in a simulation, which may require even those without the virus to lockdown in their cabin? Cabin selection is up to the cruise line. One may end up in an inside cabin when normally they book a balcony cabin. If there is a lockdown during a simulation, this could result in days in a windowless cabin when you aren’t even sick.
  7. Disruptive cruise – You may be in the middle of enjoying a meal or a drink or an activity, required to stop immediately for health checks and other protocols.
  8. A cruise may be cut short if too many passengers become infected with COVID-19. This could happen after paying round-trip airfares to reach the cruise embarkation point, at your own expense, only to have the cruise cut short after 24 to 48 hours when passengers are reported to have contracted the virus resulting in the cruise ending early.
  9. Waiting around – For test results, for new procedures, for activities, and a variety of protocols which are entirely unfamiliar, passengers may spend hours each day, waiting for the next activity or event.
  10. Very strict adherence to the CDC’s virus protocols; masking, social distancing, hand washing, and more. The usual socialization most cruisers enjoy will be obliterated.
    My dinner at Sails was too heavy on the oil, very different from the first time I’d ordered this entrée.

Are you still interested? Probably, not. If so, contact your favorite cruise line and see if options are available for you to participate. Most cruise lines contacted their authorized cruise resellers with invitations to participate. It will be interesting to see how these cruises roll out.

We’ll be watching for those results and will report back here for details.

As for us cruising in the future, hum, we’ll see what happens. Our next booked cruise is scheduled for November 30, 2021. We’ll see if that actually transpires and if we decide it’s safe to go if it does.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2019:

Drool-worthy! Tom’s Reuben sandwich with jumbo onion rings when out for bingo at a restaurant with friends Karen and Rich, one year ago. Click here for Tom’s win.

 

Day #245 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Golfing for travelers…

 

A manmade pond on the Kahili Golf Course in Maui, Hawaii, created a pretty scene.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Maui, Hawaii. Please see here for more details.

Neither of us ever took up the sport of golf mainly due to the fact neither of us is very good at it. After a few tries over the years, each separately, the frustration factor was simply too much to overcome, nor did either of us have enough interest in the sport to take lessons.

In a way, when we began traveling the world, we were glad we had no interest in playing golf. Hauling clubs all over the world made little sense considering how much we travel. The added costs for flying with two sets of golf clubs, plus fees and expenses would have far surpassed our budget, requiring we sacrifice something more important to us such as quality holiday homes, rental cars, and dining out.

The lush lawns at the Kahili Golf Club in Maui were similar to the gorgeous lawns at our condo in Maalaea Beach

Many avid golfer travelers rent clubs as they travel but then again, that may have been for a few trips a year, not non-stop world travel. Nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed the beauty of many golf courses throughout the world and have either driven through them to revel in their carpet-like lawns and at times, dine in the clubhouse.

In Princeville, Kauai in 2015, where we lived for four months, we acquired a social membership to the Makai Golf Course which allowed us access to the pool, fitness center, dining, and social activities. We certainly took advantage of that membership at US $250, INR 18,547, per month for the two of us. In reviewing their site, we weren’t able to determine the cost of that same social membership now, particularly in light of COVID-19, when everything has changed.

A gazebo and footbridge on the course with the ocean at a distance.

It’s difficult to determine costs for any travel-related expenses at this time when so much has changed due to COVID-19, but in reviewing costs to travel with golf clubs, the added cost will vary from airline to airline, depending upon their included and extra baggage fees. It could range from US $35, INR 2595, to US $150, INR 11122, per bag or more.

Adding the cost of greens fees, cart, taxes, tips, and beverages can easily be as much as US $1000, INR INR 74139 for two players at an upscale course, and 30% this amount at a modestly priced course. If we were golfers, hauling our bags with us, we’d feel committed to playing at each new location, spending thousands more each year.

We were tempted to try either of these buffets offered at the Kahili Golf Course. But, as usual, buffets in the US seem to offer less acceptable options for my way of eating.

No, doubt, for an avid golfer with ample funds allocated for the sport, golfing throughout the world would be quite an adventurous and fun experience, especially if done so as a couple, avoiding the necessity of finding others to play with at each location, who may not suit your level of play.

As mentioned in the above-posted link for today’s photos, we both were literally addicted to playing Wii Golf in our old lives, eventually resulting in what our family doctor referred to as “Wiinjuries,” injured incurred due to excessive play of the very fun video game, played on a flat-screen TV. Of course, this was nothing like playing “real” golf but certainly was fun until we both had to quit due to shoulder injuries acquired from playing this “small” version of golf.

Although there was a road sign warning of “crossing by the Nene birds (Hawaiian geese), only these Cattle Egrets ran back and forth across the road.

For those interested in traveling with their golf clubs, here are some tips from the PGA’s website here:

  • Try to get a non-stop flight, if possible. The fewer times baggage handlers need to move your clubs from plane to plane in a short amount of time, the better.
  • Get a durable, well-made travel bag. Hardshell bags are more expensive and the best will run around $250. But Schmidt said they’ll give you more protection if you want that peace of mind.
  • If you use a soft-sided bag, don’t forget to pack a golf club protection device. It looks like an adjustable aluminum crutch that’s taller than your driver and keeps your shafts from being damaged in case the bag is dropped upside down.
  • Don’t forget that golf bags are considered “oversized check-in”. If you don’t know where to find check-in or pick up at a particular airport, Schmidt said make sure you ask someone as soon as you get there. And if you’re unsure about the cost or weight allowance, check with the airline or your travel agent. Be aware that some airports will send your golf bag through the regular baggage belt (with all of the other luggage) but others (such as Atlanta Hartsfield) will leave at a different location for oversized bags.
  • Add some personal ID marking to your bag. Miller said adding some bright-colored string or a pom-pom will help you identify it quickly. Many bags have places for business cards as well. Don’t forget to include your cell phone number. If possible, include the name of the hotel where you’re staying.

 

This lush greenery outlined the entrance to the golf tunnel. What a beautiful way to mask an otherwise less appealing entrance and exit!

PGA.COM COURSE FINDER: Locate a course near you by distance, price, or type

  • Don’t wind up with more luggage than you need. “Never travel with more bags than you can manage alone,” Miller said.
  • Think about a cab or car service (or ride to the airport). Drops you off closer to the gate than parking, which means a long haul at times with a large bag to roll.
  • Pack your clubs so they won’t move around in the travel bag. “If you’re going to Scotland or Ireland, it’s easy because you’re going to be throwing extra sweaters or a windbreaker in there to give it extra protection,” Schmidt said.
  • Tip: Use your travel bag for additional storage. “You can put gifts and other things you’re bringing back home in that golf bag,” Schmidt said.
  • Don’t leave your expensive electronics in your golf bag. Rangefinder? GPS? Treat it just like your computer – carry it on with you.
  • If you’re still leery of putting your equipment on a plane, do use a shipping service. “It’s not necessarily the most affordable way to transport them,” Schmidt said. “But if you want the peace of mind, they do a good job with that.”
    As we ended our visit to the golf course, one more panoramic view was in order.

Well, at this point in lockdown, 245 days later, simply walking through or dining at a golf course would be delightful. Even, if we could play Wii now, that would also be a good way to spend time in this hotel room.

At the moment, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Viking football game on his laptop. I didn’t care to see it since I accidentally stumbled (no pun intended) across the outcome.

Otherwise, all is fine. Another day…

Be well.

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

One year ago on this date, I’d forgotten to take photos while visiting family in Minnesota. Instead, I posted this photo from this same date in Maui in 2014 which we’ve highlighted above. For the story from one year ago, please click here.

Day #243 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…New but vague information for India travelers!…How much are we spending to live in this hotel?…

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. See more photos from this scene below.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2018 while living in a bush home in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

Tom stays up much later than I. Usually, by 11:00 pm, I settle into my comfy spot on my left side and am making ZZZZs while Tom is fast and furiously clicking away on his laptop, reading news, Facebook, and Ancestry.com. Often, in the morning, I’ll have an email message about a topic he knows I’d like to read the next day.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-gray shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white-collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward-curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

This morning, from Tom, I opened this article from this site, figuring it would be of interest to me, to us. Upon seeing the topic in the headline, I see why he sent it.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The article states:

“India is predicting a return to pre-COVID passenger levels by the end of the year or early 2021. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted the impressive recovery of the domestic market and said he expects huge growth in the Indian aviation industry. India recently hit a post-COVID passenger record during Diwali.

Full recovery

At a press conference covered by Business Insider, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he expects air travel to make a full recovery by 31st December or early January 2021. This would mean reaching pre-pandemic levels across the board, a significant feat just months after flights resumed.

He added that domestic flights have now reached 70% capacity and there are talks about increasing the cap to 80% sometime soon. India currently has both capacity and fare caps for domestic flights. Passenger numbers have grown exponentially since May, rising from 30,000 daily travelers to over 225,000 during Diwali last week.

While domestic flights might be recovering, international flights remain considerably lower than pre-COVID levels. This is primarily due to border closures globally and India’s ban on scheduled international flights, limiting the total number of flights. Until a vaccine finds widespread use, India’s recovery will remain restricted to the domestic market.

Currently, only Air India operates flights to the US from India. However, more Indian airlines could be joining the route in the coming years.

For now, India can expect a significant domestic recovery in the coming months. International flights could take a while before recovering. However, news of a successful vaccine has many hopeful of a larger aviation recovery next year.”

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

There is nothing in this article that gives us any new hope or newly formed expectations as to when international flights will resume in India, other than those we mentioned in yesterday’s post here. Yes, there are flights to the US from India, which have been available for many months, but after 1,000,000 new cases of COVID-19 in less than a week, we see no benefit in heading to the US now or anytime soon.

If we have to be stuck inside, I’d rather stay put here for roughly 40% lower cost than staying in a holiday home or hotel in the US, where they are much more expensive than most other countries. If we were able to find an affordable holiday home, then we’d have to add a car, groceries, and US health insurance, upwards of several thousand dollars per month more than what we’re paying now.

Mom and young giraffe.

At this point, we’re spending approximately US $130, INR 9641 per night with meals, staying in a nice hotel close to the airport. Although we have encountered some annoying minor issues, overall, it’s been a very good experience and definitely, as safe as possible.

With more and more lockdowns resuming in the US based on these latest numbers, it makes no sense for us to trade this situation for another. None, whatsoever.

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

And so, we remain, tentatively hopeful while currently in an even emotional holding pattern, knowing full-well, someday we’ll get out of here.

Have a good weekend, wherever you may be.

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

We stayed with dear friends, Karen and Rich when we visited Minnesota last year. The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata Minnesota. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #242 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Where else could we go?…Favorite Costa Rica photos…

 

View of Atenas from our veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2017 while living in a gorgeous home in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more details, please click here.

While reviewing photos from past posts on this date, I stopped looking when I found these from 2017 while we spent four months at the luxurious villa, La Perla, in the sleepy little town of Atenas, Costa Rica. The still-active listing for this fabulous holiday home may be found here.

This is a Rufous-naped Wren sitting atop the African Tulip Tree, captured from the veranda.

Recently, we contacted our friends, the owners, Bev and Sam out of sheer curiosity. Could we return to this property for 90 days to wait while more borders opened up, allowing us to continue on our travels thereafter? Surely, it would be a much better situation than we’re in now!

Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to commit to a property at this point when we have no idea when we’d be able to fly out of India when international flights out of here limited to only a few locations, all of which, at this point are other locations in India and a few countries we aren’t interested in visiting. That doesn’t do us any good.

Frog visitor on the bumper of the rental car while at Supermercado Coopeatenas.

From this news story, flights that are available at this time, are as follows:

“India has entered into “bilateral air bubble agreements” with 18 countries. Under these agreements, two countries agree to operate direct passenger flights both ways in order to operate normal flights between them once things get back to normal after the pandemic.

Giant iguana at Zoo Ave.

The list of countries India has a travel bubble with is the US, the UK, Germany, France, the UAE, Maldives, Canada, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Bhutan, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Ukraine.

Traveling to Afghanistan from India can be done by Afghan nationals, Indian and foreign nationals with valid visas and passports, and the same for those traveling to India as mentioned by guidelines under the MHA. Similar criteria lie for Bahrain, Kenya, and Bhutan, Iraq, Japan, Maldives, Qatar, UK, USA, and Oman. The airline will have to finally ensure that there are no other travel restrictions for the people traveling under the particular visa permit before issuing their tickets and boarding passes.”

Stunning blooms, Pine Cone Ginger.

We could travel to Kenya but medical care there is horrific, making it unrealistic for us to return during the pandemic. We considered the Maldives but it wasn’t a good possibility due to poor medical care, only 30-day visas, and also very high prices for hotels and holiday homes, far beyond our budget.

The other countries don’t appeal to us due to political unrest, massive cases of COVID-19, poor medical care, and/or a lack of availability of the type of holiday homes we’d be interested in renting. We aren’t interested in traveling to Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Bhutan, and Bahrain.

An Owl Butterfly we spotted in the courtyard with what appears to be a large eye to scare off predators.

We have three cruises booked in and around Japan in 2022 and would prefer to wait until that time when we’ll visit various ports of call and possibly stay in a holiday home for a period of time. Hopefully, by that time, we’ll be able to cruise again and the pandemic will be under control.

Mom and calf in the neighborhood.

This is the way that it is. We wait.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2019:

While in Minnesota last year, we stayed with friends Karen and Rich when their beautiful property was listed for sale and has since sold. They are moving to a warmer climate. For more photos, please click here.