One package arrived!!…Threatening note in the box from US Homeland Security…Yikes!

These houses are all valued well over AU 3,000,000, US $2,269,500.  As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, home prices are high in Australia, more than we’ve seen in any country. This photo shows Bob’s house on the far left. Our apartment is located on the lower level, with doors wide open as shown. The house in the center is up for auction this coming Saturday. We’ll tour the house, take photos and post them here on Sunday along with the results of the auction. (Not our photo).

Yesterday around 3:00 pm, the package finally arrived with our supplies shipped from Nevada to Tasmania and then to us here in Fairlight, much to our relief. Every item was intact except one mentioned below, although it was evident they’d opened most of the things for inspection.

Surprisingly, a note was contained in the box stating that an “illegal” drug contained therein had been confiscated and could result in further action. Oh, good grief. 

Multi-million dollar houses line the shore with small lots.

It was a bottle of  generic Benadryl, an over-the-counter allergy medication we may use on occasion when we’ve have a bad cold, allergic reaction (we’re both allergic to bee stings) or an annoying runny nose. The bottle was in the box, emptied of its contents with the note below, warning of our illegal  shipment.

Had we known this is an illegal substance, we indeed wouldn’t have purchased it from Amazon.
The note we found in the box of supplies from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Gee…we hope the US Department of Homeland Security has better things to do than worry about our bottle of Benadryl. It was this same over-the-counter item that may have saved Tom’s life years ago when we were in Arkansas on our way to a convention when he was stung by a hornet. 

Homes nestled in the hills.

I had him put one of these pills under his tongue to buy time to get him to a hospital where he was further treated. This experience prompted us to ensure we always had a supply of Benadryl on hand wherever we travel throughout the world.
Otherwise, all items were in the box based on the checklist our mailing service had included. So to finally have our driver’s licenses, tax documents, my year’s supply of contact lenses, my new smartphone, a few items of clothing, a variety of nutritional supplements and more, was quite a relief.

Contemporary home facing the beach.  There’s no one architectural style that predominates homes in Australia.

We spent the remainder of the day unpacking the items, checking off the list and of course, I spent time setting up my new phone. Last night, it was quite a treat to be able to go to bed with my phone, read the news and wander off to sleep.

Bob will drive me to the Stockland Mall, where the medical clinic is located. In a few hours, Tom will stay behind and wait for his laptop to arrive. As it turned out, Australian Customs accepted our receipt for the purchase of the computer from Amazon. 

Homeowners continue to renovate their homes, adding significantly to the value.

Subsequently, we don’t have to pay any customs fees or taxes. As the day progressed I “chatted” back and forth with a rep at Fed Ex who kindly agreed to oversee the process to ensure we’d receive the package today. 

Many homes have long steep driveways.  Since it doesn’t snow or often reach freezing temperatures in Sydney, these steep driveways are navigable.

The Fed Ex rep mentioned he’d noticed the link to our site at the bottom of my email and started reading our posts, thoroughly enjoying our story while anxious to read more in his free time. We’ve found it always helps to build some commonality with people from whom we may need some assistance. 

I have no doubt the package will arrive today, especially when we noticed the tracking information had been updated this morning, indicating it will arrive by 6:00 pm.

Many homes are built into the hills making full use of nature.

We apologize for the frequent mention of the pending arrival of these two packages. Hopefully, our readers have been patient with the regular comments over these many past posts, with the contents being essential to us. 

In our narrow little world, a laptop, an unlocked phone, our drivers licenses and tax documents become very important to the quality of our lives. Perhaps, these items are more important than booking o flight, a holiday home, or a cruise.

Small watercraft lined the beach in this area.

Speaking of cruises, in 17 days, we’ll be leaving on the voyage back to North America. As much as we’ve enjoyed this great continent and part of the world, we are looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

Back at you soon! Have a meaningful day filled with beautiful surprises.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2016:

It was this photo that prompted us to notify Trish and Neil when we suspected something was wrong when tiny Mont Blanc (on the left) was attempting to nurse from his mom while another born-that-season cria nursed from her as well, an uncommon scene. Even Mom Giselle looks surprised by this event. Click here for the post on that date. It was at this time that we all knew little Mont Blanc’s life was nearing an end. For the rest of the story, please click here.

Not yet!…Kind of frustrating…The wait continues…

Almost every day, our new “Birdie” stops by for bits of meat he’ll eat from my hand.  Already, he responds to my voice. It was fun to capture him sitting atop this small stature.

No, the computer hasn’t arrived, which according to Fed-Ex tracking, it was due to arrive yesterday by 6:00 pm.  We’d anticipated a customs check but didn’t expect it to stop the package’s movement totally.

When we spotted this notice on the tracking website, we moaned in frustration over yet another wait. The website states, “Clearance Delay.” No scheduled delivery date available at this time.”

This magpie wanted in on the action.

Soon, we’ll call the Mantraville Fed Ex processing center located about 17 km from Sydney to ask the status of our shipment. According to online customs information, there are no customs fees collected if the item’s value is under AU 1000, US $760.74.

The cost for the laptop without tax was under AU 920, US $700, so this shouldn’t be an issue. If we do have to pay customs fees, we may qualify to return to us once we leave the country. We’ll see how it rolls out today.

With his mouth open, he welcomes a bite to eat.

Even if we discover the package is back in motion, most likely, we won’t receive it until tomorrow or later. Tom’s holding up well without a computer which surprises me. 

He entertains himself with his smartphone, reading and responding to the zillions of email messages he receives daily, Facebook posts, and can access and Cruise Critic, two sites he particularly enjoys.

The second package is due to arrive today. Based on the fact it was shipped from Tasmania, an island in Australia, we’re hoping we don’t experience any customs issues. Most likely, that package’s contents were examined somewhere along the way.

Kookaburras are carnivorous; thus, we feed them tiny raw pieces of meat.

Tomorrow, I have a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription for the four-week post-antibiotic regiment for the Helicobactor Pylori test to determine if it’s been eradicated by the two rounds of two antibiotics I took last month. 

In Australia, a patient cannot order their own tests making a doctor visit mandatory in most countries. I have no desire to see a doctor, but it’s imperative to have this completed now, hoping to discover the infection is truly gone.

Plumeria is often used to make leis in Hawaii.

I’m still not feeling 100%, but I have read it can take months for this particular condition to heal, long after treatment has ended fully. I’ll report the results once I know. In the interim, I may request a few more tests to determine if, along the way, I may have contracted any other intestinal bugs contributing to the slow recovery.

Gee, it sounds as if we’re “whinging.” That’s not my intention. In our continuing efforts to be real and open, we share our experiences exactly as they occur. 

Pretty pink flower.

On occasion, situations transpire over which we have little or no control. It’s during those times that we may feel frustrated. Surely, our readers could easily lose interest in our posts if we were always upbeat, cheerful, and “overly bubbly.” We all know “that person” who is way too cheerful at all times. Their demeanor may eventually become boring and monotonous.

Rainbow at dusk during the storm from Cyclone Debbie.

I stopped while preparing this post, long enough to call Fed-Ex. Unfortunately, our package was at a complete standstill, waiting for us to call. They didn’t read the included invoice, which stated the laptop’s purchase price was under AU 920, US $700. 

The rep advised me to send the actual invoice, which I prepared as a PDF and sent promptly to her email. So now, back to the waiting game as she determines that we do not owe any Australian custom taxes or fees based on receipt of our invoice.

Cloudy day at the beach.

Back to our obsessive checking of the Fed Ex tracking page to see when it’s on the move once again. As for the second package, that is supposed to arrive today, according to this morning’s Austalia post tracking page.

A few determined surfers on a rainy day at the beach.

We shall see what transpires. We wait.

Hopefully, you don’t have to wait impatiently for products or services today!

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

Tom got a kick out of how many chickens and roosters began to follow us during our visit to Taranaki Pioneer Village in New Zealand one year ago. Please click here for more photos.

New hobby…Obsessive package tracking…Is today the day?…Sightseeing…Arabanoo…

The shoreline is packed tight with pricey apartments and condos.

As creatures of habit with a few obsessive behaviors interspersed, Tom and I are a perfect match. He tends to be more ritualistic than I, but most certainly, I can easily get sucked into copying his behavior. I suppose this happens when a couple is together around the clock.

Recently, while awaiting the package from the US, sent on February 10th, we both began obsessively watching the tracking information for the US Postal Service based on a tracking number provided us by our mailing service in Nevada. Unfortunately, the package never seemed to move much after that date.

Property prices are outrageous in Australia, especially close to the larger cities such as Sydney. with hilly terrain; many have oceanfront and ocean views.

Until we requested our shipper conduct a search for the package and the requisite 12-day process passed, the package finally was in motion again. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see it on the move again, especially when the contents include all of our tax records for 2016, the renewal of both of our driver’s licenses, my new smartphone, and other items.

Finally, it arrived in Tasmania last Wednesday, and our prior landlord, Anne, shipped it to our address here in Fairlight. For over 72 hours, it never moved from Hobart. Finally, this morning, we noted it was shipped to a processing station near Sydney. If all goes well, it will arrive tomorrow. We’re both tentatively excited about its arrival.

A peek through the trees.

Secondly, last Monday, we ordered Tom a new laptop from the US, having shipped to our mailing service (free shipping from Amazon) since none of the companies that had that particular item would ship via international express. It made it to our mailing service on Wednesday.

After paying AU 528, US $400 for Fed Ex international express shipping plus the cost of the laptop at AU 956, US $730 (including sales tax), our total cost for the laptop is AU 1,480 US $1,130. 

Apartments, condos, and small coop-type properties are the main focus for rentals with high rents in most areas.

After checking for a similar product in Australia, we’d never have been able to purchase that particular item, brand, and features Tom preferred for anywhere near the price we paid. Based on what we found, it would have been higher priced at 30% to 40%.

Rooftops in Australia decades ago were all red clay tiles. Now that homes have been rebuilt to include second stories, spotting a red roof is less common.

Need I say that every hour (or more often), we’ve obsessively checked the tracking information on these two packages, with a tile on my laptop (which we’ve been sharing for 10 days) and links on Tom’s phone (which we’ve been sharing for months).

Today, with bated breath, we wait with a note encased in plastic taped to the mailbox, hoping sometime in the next several hours the laptop with arrive.  Tomorrow, perhaps the other package will arrive as well. 

A few areas along the coast are undeveloped or included private homes nestled in the trees.

In the interim, we’re sharing more photos from our recent outing with Bob. We’re grateful we’d gone out on a sunny day. Unfortunately, it’s been cloudy and raining every day since. This morning, on the news, we heard this had been the third most rainy season in history in New South Wales (NSW). Go figure…while we’re here. 

Views of bays and the open sea create a breathtaking backdrop.

But, no complaints here. We’re happy to be dry, safe, and immigration-ready for our cruise in 19 days. So, let’s see how the next few days roll out, which we’ll happily report here.

As for today’s photos…they were all taken from this popular tourist spot in the nearby hills. The below photo includes a portion of the story of the origin of Arabanoo, an Aboriginal man kidnapped by marines in 1788, with more below.

Interesting story. More may be found here or below.

From this site, the story of Arabanoo…

“Arabanoo (1759–1789)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Arabanoo (d.1789), the Aboriginal man, was captured at Manly on 31 December 1788 by order of Governor Arthur Phillip, who wished to learn more about the natives. Arabanoo was taken to the settlement where a convict was appointed to guard him; he was at first pleased by a handcuff on his wrist, believing it to be an ornament, but became enraged when he discovered its purpose.

Then a severe epidemic of smallpox broke out among the Aboriginals in April 1789; several who had been found in great distress were brought to Sydney where Arabanoo helped to care for them; he caught the disease himself and died on or about 18 May. He was buried in the governor’s garden.

One contemporary account gives his age as about 30 and another as about 24. He was not tall but ‘robustly made,’ with a thoughtful face and a soft, musical voice; his disposition was mild and gentle, but ‘the independence of his mind never forsook him. During his brief sojourn among the colonists, he became a general favorite, and Phillip records that he gave them much information about the language and customs of his people.”

May your day meet all of your expectations!

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2016:

Tom stood on the witness stand in the old courthouse at the Taranaki Pioneer Village, a style that may be seen in more modern-day courthouses throughout the world. See the story and more photos here.

Taking care of business…It’s not always easy but we get it done!

A sunny day view of a portion of the Sydney skyline.
We’ve certainly been busy over these past many days.  Between the immigration issues, missing package, ordering Tom a new laptop, and some added supplies from Australia, every moment of our days have been fully occupied.
Navy base in Sydney Harbour.
Yesterday, we made a bus trip to Manly to a pharmacy and health food shop for a few items. Without a car during these 40 nights in Fairlight, we haven’t wanted to bother Bob for every little trip we need to make. We’ll be here another 23 nights.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Bob would take us anywhere we’d like to go, but we haven’t wanted to take advantage of his kindly nature. It’s enough he’s taken us sightseeing and grocery shopping on several occasions. He’s insisted.
Amphibious navy ship in Sydney Harbour.
Public transportation is easy in Sydney. With the free Hop, Skip, Jump bus plus the paid bus and the Manly ferry, it’s been fun getting around so quickly, only using a taxi on a few occasions, such as on Monday’s appointment at the immigration office, which required a taxi for a portion of the trip.
We added plenty of money to our OPAL cards used for payment for buses, trains, and ferries. It worked out quite well for us and is so convenient.
There’s a restaurant, the Sydney Tower Restaurant, at the top of this space needle for 360-degree viewing of the city.
Yesterday afternoon, our “missing” package finally landed at the Geeveston post office. Anne, our thoughtful past landlord, immediately turned it around using the funds we’d left to forward it to us here in Fairlight. It’s expected to arrive in four or five days, most likely by next Tuesday.
Late yesterday, Tom’s laptop arrived at our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada. This morning, Eric, our rep, informed us it would be AU 521.85, US $400, to ship it Fed-Ex overnight, which isn’t really “overnight” when there’s no way it will arrive tomorrow when it has to go through customs once it comes.
Garden Island Jetty in Sydney Harbour.
Most likely, it will arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.  In the interim, we’ve adapted as best as we can. Tom spends time on his smartphone while I busily work on our posts, photos, and future travel plans. 
His lack of a laptop right now has made me realize how dependent I am on helping me with research daily. It will be great to have him jump in and help at will, instead of handing him my laptop to look something up while I busy myself with cooking and household tasks.
Manly Municipal Council building in downtown Manly which we visited yesterday, on a sunny day.
We haven’t had a house cleaner since our arrival although we’ll have someone next week. I haven’t scrubbed floors and bathrooms in so long I can’t recall and look forward to Bob’s cleaner coming next week. We like to keep our living quarters clean, so we have both been running around tidying, sweeping, and trying to keep our current “home” as spotless as possible.
Today, it’s raining again, and we’ll stay put. We do make a point to explore every sunny day but have little motivation to get out in the rain. I’m trying a new recipe today and bit off more than I can chew with the multitude of required chopped ingredients and steps in the preparation and cooking.   
View from our veranda, late yesterday afternoon of the Carnival Spirit leaving Sydney Harbour and heading out to sea.

Since there’s no rush, it doesn’t feel stressful, as I’ll do it in stages as the day progresses.

Hopefully, your day is low stress! Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2016:
There was never a shortage of beautiful scenery in New Zealand one year ago. For more details, please click here.

Time is ticking away…19 days and counting until departure…

Orange trees are often seen growing in the center courtyards of restaurants including where we dined last night, Arabe.

As we rapidly approach, our departure time, now only 19 days away, we marvel at how quickly the time begins to fly as usual, regardless of our level of enjoyment and activity.

Reducing our load over the past year, packing is no longer a dreaded task, requiring only three hours or less in order to place everything into the Space Bags from which we’ll suck the air using our little handheld vacuum. 

Once we’re down to one week, I’ll begin sorting and folding, with all of our clothing inside cupboards as opposed to drawers. In a cupboard, the clothing seems to get messy.

A quiet area in a souk while on our way to dinner. Although there were no crowds in this area last night, we had to be careful where we walk with many grates, manhole covers, and tripping hazards.

Fortunately, TAP (Portugal) doesn’t have strict baggage requirements, making this flight and the next when we leave on August 1st to fly to Paris, less of a concern than ever in the past. 

Yesterday, I placed a shipping order with our mailing service located in our home state of Nevada,, to ship all the supplies we’ve ordered for a shipment to be sent to Madeira. When we need items, we take advantage of free shipping when available by various websites having it all shipped to the mailing service. 

Many US websites don’t ship outside the US. Nor, do we want packages arriving piecemeal when the risk of losing a few may be high when shipping oversees. As a result, with our large mailbox at the mailing service each year, we can accumulate all of our orders waiting for the upcoming shipment to wherever we may be at the time. The staff at removes all the boxes and shipping materials, placing the individual items in one large box to be shipped to us.

The view from our table at Arabe Restaurant, where we dine each week. The waiters have come to know us always offering excellent service. 

Once they inform us of the cost, we place the amount we owe into our account with which they use to pay the shipping costs. They research the best pricing for us. In this particular case, using UPS Express is less expensive than DHL or FedEx and safer and more reliable than USPS.

Madeira is an island 604 miles from the coast of Portugal. As is the case with any island, the cost of shipping is higher than one might expect. For us, it’s a cost we’ve budgeted. When our order arrives, we’ll post photos of its contents.

Gina, the lovely property owner of the house in Ribeira Brava lives across the street from the house we’re renting. The package will be sent to her house to hold until our arrival.

Another view from our table.  Deep colors are commonly seen on walls
in various establishments.

Need I say that we’re excited to arrive in Madeira? The upcoming beautiful contemporary house overlooking the ocean will be a dramatic change from the crowded, busy lifestyle of living in a souk for the past two and a half months. 

Although enriched by the experience of the cultural differences in Morocco, we anticipate the slower pace of Madeira with enthusiasm. With a rental car for the entire period, we’ll have the freedom to explore its many treasures on our own time. With summer approaching, Madeira has much to offer as well as a quiet respite we’ll surely relish in our new surroundings.

Last night, we headed out for dinner, once again making our way through the busy souks. By late Friday afternoons, the weekend tourists fill the souks anxious to shop, negotiate, and buy what they may perceive as the “deals of the century.” 

My dinner, referred to a Kefta, includes meatballs, tomato sauce, and eggs dropped into the hot mixture, all befitting my way of eating.  I always order a side of grilled vegetables.

No offense is intended regarding this common tourist activity. At one point in my life, I too, loved the shopping in foreign lands, falling prey to the purported “bargains.” The shop owners are on alert harking their wares to those shoppers whose eyes happen to steal a peek at their products, all of which are neatly displayed ad ready for sale minus any marked prices. 

Last night, after dinner we stopped in a shop to see if we could find a leather computer backpack.  With this Tom could carry both of our laptops leaving his hands free. In the past, we were opposed to backpacks due to the risk of someone putting something illegal into them or taking something out. But, as time marched on, we’ve come to realize that a lock would be an ideal solution if, in fact, we found the correct style.

Luckily, the shop owner spoke some English seeming to understand what we were looking for. When he didn’t have what we wanted, he asked us to wait while he left the shop, returning five minutes later with a leather laptop bag to which he’d attached backpack straps. 

Tom’s pasta dinner, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese includes a side of bread with no vegetables. He doesn’t care for vegetables except for green beans and carrots which he’ll eat when Madame Zahra cooks.

As a courtesy, Tom tried it on although I could tell that no way would this setup work as a backpack. The shop owner explained that he’d work on it overnight making it a suitable backpack with the proper positioning of the straps, even adding padding.

Out of curiosity, I asked him the price of the backpack considering the adjustments he’d make overnight.  He quickly quoted 700 dirhams, US $86.18. Without giving it a thought, not interested in the bag, Tom said, “Too much,” as he grabbed my hand and walked away.

A photo of the colorful flip flops and shoes taken while on the move. Most vendors won’t allow photos of their wares.

Immediately, the shop owner yelled after us, “100 dirhams (US $12.31), monsieur!” Wow! That’s quite a price reduction! In any case, the bag wouldn’t work for us and we left. 

In a way, I felt sorry for him. For him to willingly drop the price to what would surely give him little to no profit was evidence of a desperate need to make a sale. With many of the shops frequently empty with numerous “lookie loo’s” drifting by, we can see how difficult it would be for a vendor to make a living.

Most of the vendors spent 12 hour days sitting on little stools outside their shops hoping to make a sale. The vendors are usually men. Women are rarely seen selling in the shops although they may be found in the Big Square offering baked goods or non-permanent tattoos while they sit on little stools under umbrellas. 

Tomorrow, we’ll be discussing our observations on the obvious distinct roles of men and women in Morocco, a real eye-opener for us.

Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2013:

Due to the storm, taking photos was not a priority on this particular date. As an alternative, here is a photo taken the prior day. For detail of the post on April 26, 2013, please click here.

Every night, while we were at dinner, the cabin steward would place an animal made of towels on the bed. This was a monkey. Also, there would be chocolates on our pillows and an agenda for the next day’s activities.