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 #224 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hesitating to mention, a frustrating situation…

I love this look on Tom’s face as he’s learning how to handle the python. Like an infant, the python’s head must be held up to avoid injuring it.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya during Tom’s first of two, snake-handling experiences. See the link here.

The purpose of today’s post is not to complain (well, maybe a little) as much as it is intended to alert those who may have dietary restrictions of varying types and can never be too careful. We haven’t been able to get it right after 224 days.

This African Chameleon, variety unknown, is winking her/his left eye for the photo! Neither of us hesitated to handle this non-poisonous creature. Check out the funny little mouth!

During these 224 days and nights, we’ve been ordering breakfast and dinner for that many days. They still don’t have it right! I’d also like to preface this post with this: the staff at this hotel are very kind, with the best intentions. Regardless of how frustrated we may become and how graciously or less graciously we express ourselves to them, there is a language barrier that will supersede today’s frustrated comments.

Although, I have been very clear and specific with the restaurant manager, chefs, and cook, as to what I can eat to maintain my health which is as follows:

  1. No sugar, starches, or grains
  2. No vegetable oils, no olive oil, only butter
  3. No fruit or fruit juices
  4. No rice, no beans, no lentils, no flour, no fillers, no potatoes, no bread

To further simplify this, I remind them of this:

“I can eat any animal products, fish or chicken, butter, cheese, eggs, salt, and mustard”

We were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. 

Lately, I stopped eating vegetables when I was trying to figure out why my stomach hurt all the time, which continued after I left out the vegetables a few weeks ago. Also, at times, some restaurants, from what we’ve discovered in our travels, cook their vegetables in the same pot of boiling water as the pasta they cook throughout the day. I’m just not going to risk eating vegetables and will avoid them for the remainder of our time here. I am extremely gluten intolerant.

My restrictions are posted in the kitchen for all cooks and staff to clearly see. I’ve been eating this way for 11 years and no doubt, I’ve struggled with this even on cruise ships where I felt ok eating vegetables when their cooks have a better understanding of gluten intolerance and didn’t cook vegetables in the pasta water.

Chameleon on my leg. Its legs were sticky grasping at the fabric of my pants.

But, here in Mumbai, where 90% of what the Indian people consume contains starches, grains, and sugars (including fruit and juices). Delicious? Yes! Suitable for me? No!

Over the past week when I quit the vegetables, I began eating a “plain” (as requested) ground chicken patty, topped with a butter-fried egg, Emmental cheese, and bacon, It was delicious. I was thrilled with my new option to have “mixed it up” a bit from my usual grilled boneless, skinless chicken parts (I don’t like chicken breasts since they are often too dry unless cooked on the bone with the skin which I can’t get here).

This is a grass snake, non-poisonous, slithering on Tom’s arm. 

In a post on October 27, 2020 (found here), I mentioned I’d experienced an 80% improvement in the pain in my legs while walking, which I’ve had since open-heart surgery in 2019 in South Africa. Somehow, I couldn’t get past that 80% improvement when I’d greatly reduced my carb load after I stopped eating those red sauces in Indian chicken curry and Makhani dishes in September.

Tomatoes and tomato sauces can have many carbs from the natural and added sugars in the sauce. I’d been a fool to eat those but did so in sheer desperation. I’d hoped by dropping these red sauces in early September, it would help reduce the inflammation in my legs, after the two separate leg surgeries I had six weeks after cardiac bypass surgery when both of my legs became seriously infected. Good grief. What a mess I am!

This semi-poisonous snake paralyzes its prey. If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk.  We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it. This is me holding it, as Tom took the photo. In 2018, in South Africa, we both went to snake handling school with Tom doing more handling than me.

So, by eliminating the red sauces, I started experiencing improvement in the pain in my legs up to about 80% until I started eating the chicken burger (no bun) dinner. I knew I had no problem with any of the items on the plate. I’d spoken directly to the head chef asking him the ingredients in the chicken patty, He said, “Chicken, onions, garlic, and salt.”

“Great,” I said, “I can eat those and continued to do so for the past week. Then, my legs were getting worse by the day. The past several mornings I could only walk at a snail’s pace. What was wrong? Frustrated and of course, worried, I decided to check my blood sugar using my glucometer, which I’d been told to use when I started this way of eating to determine if a particular food was causing inflammation. High blood sugar an hour or two after eating? This means that particular food I’d eaten was too high in carbs for me.

Tom wound it around his hands, keeping the mouth at a distance.

Last night after dinner my blood sugar was 40% higher than after eating a usually very low carb meal. I hadn’t checked it in several months, but this made me rethink what I’d eaten. It wasn’t the bacon, the cheese, or the egg. I’ve never had a problem with these. Also, I hadn’t had any “pasta water” vegetables.

Immediately, I called the head chef whom I’d spoken to previously, asking once again, the ingredients in the burger. He explained it had bread crumbs to hold the chicken together. I knew I tasted something in those supposed plain chicken burgers, similar to the smell and taste of a loaf of store-bought whole wheat bread. I should have known better. Had I not told them over and over again, no bread, no flour, no starch, no grains?

For a small snake, this snake has a large head.

I do not have celiac disease, but I have a huge gluten response known as gluten intolerance. In essence, an almost lifelong history of eating a very low-fat diet of products containing starch, flour, sugars, and grains contributed to my having cardiovascular disease. By the time I stopped eating gluten in 2011, the damage was done to my arteries combined with a strong genetic predisposition to heart disease, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes.

The cardiologist in South Africa explained I’d had these bad arteries for 30 or 40 years. There was nothing I could do to reverse it, but perhaps the continuation of a low-inflammation, low carb/keto diet, and lots of exercise, along with a healthy lifestyle could prevent it from getting much worse giving me a few more years of life.

At last! He’s got python handling figured out! He couldn’t have looked more pleased! 

No wonder I’ve been suffering while walking since I started eating those ground chicken patties a week ago. May I say, I was enraged? I composed myself during the phone call. Today, I sent a message to management to ensure they post my restrictions, once again, in the kitchen for all to see. After all, we’ve been here for 224 days.

Now, with the likelihood of gluten remaining in the body for weeks, if not months, I have to start all over again, hoping to get my legs to work better while walking. I will still push myself to walk 10,000 steps (5 miles, 8 km) a day. I will no longer take the risk of eating that otherwise delicious chicken patty that most likely contained an entire slice of whole wheat bread.

Close up of the python Tom handled.

In closing this post, I’d like to stress that no matter how much we request special dietary considerations in dining establishments throughout the world, one can never be assured the food they are serving is safe for us. In any case, it’s best to order food prepared as plainly as possible in restaurants and save the interesting dishes for our own safe home cooking.

Food for thought (no pun intended). Happy day!

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

This photo illustrates how the gangway was jammed into the ship. For details, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #222 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 8 year world travel anniversary…Happy Halloween!!!

This affectionate camel leaned on his owner’s shoulder when I approached.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our then, one-year anniversary of world travel. See the link here.

Here we are, eight years from the date we first left Minnesota to begin our years-long journey to see the world. Most years, we’ve celebrated this anniversary with more enthusiasm than we ever celebrated our wedding anniversary or the day we met in 1991.

Camels walking along the beach along the Indian Ocean.

For us, this anniversary lumps the other anniversaries into one special day on Halloween, October 31, wherever we may be in the world at the time. That’s not to say we ignore our other anniversaries, but this one signifies our “freedom” in retirement, to see the world on our terms, visiting those places that most appeal to our senses, rather than some preconceived notion of where one “should” go while touring the world.

And we’ve continued to experience life on our terms with the exception of the past 7½ months when we’ve been in lockdown in Mumbai, India, waiting for international flights to resume. Hopefully, soon that will change and we’ll be able to be on our way once again. As for any potential celebration of today’s anniversary, life will continue as it has over the past months. There isn’t a lot more we can do.

Tom spotted them coming and alerted me to grab the camera. I ran like crazy to catch up with them to take these photos. The cost for a ride, up for negotiation, was Kenya Shillings $2000 each, US $23.56 for two. 

Sure, we could have dinner in the dining room, but the menu is still the same and we wouldn’t order anything different from what we’ve been eating. Tom, like me, is trying to lose the weight he’s gained and neither of us sees a reason to change for a day.

Nor are we interested in drinking alcohol when we haven’t had a drink in over seven months, which would most likely result in not feeling so well. When we move to our next location and have a chance to socialize, we can ease our way back into a happy hour event, here again on our own terms.

The pristine beach, the fine, clean sand of the Indian Ocean made for a pleasant walk on the beach after 4:00 pm yesterday, as the day cooled.

We are allowed to leave the hotel now, but with the streets packed with people not wearing masks and social distancing, and with India in the #2 spot in the world with the most COVID-19, behind the USA, we feel it’s too risky. Mumbai has the highest number of cases anywhere in the entire country. Also, the smog and the traffic are unbearable, typical for big cities in India.

I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. You can see my shadow as I’m taking the photo.

I must admit I experienced some angst going out to the two ATMs, two weeks ago today, to get cash to pay for the package we finally received after a three-month delay. Tom has a hard time understanding the Indian accent with his hearing loss from years on the railroad. I always handle all communications with the people of India who do possess a strong accent, some of whom speak little English.

So, today? Nothing special other than our commitment to each other, to waiting out the time international flights resume, to our dedication to improving our health through regular exercise, healthy eating, good sleep, and positive thoughts, and our unstoppable passion for continuing on in our travels, for hopefully, years to come.

Walking on the beach on the day of our one year travel anniversary in 2013. Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. Actually, I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf. Gosh, it would be nice to be tan now, getting regular doses of Vitamin D. Instead, we take supplements.

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate and good day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2019:

 With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, which was our five year anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from that date, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #221 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Kenya anniversary holiday, seven years ago…

A morning view of our tucked away ocean cottage at The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of world travel. Tomorrow is our eight-year anniversary of embarking on our world journey. For more from this date, please click here.

The restaurant has opened in the hotel. If we so chose we may now dine there. As we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, sitting in our comfy chairs in our hotel room, with trays on our laps, I doubt we’ll change our routine. I think this may be the case for the duration, for however long that may be.

Finally, we were able to take photos of the elusive Colobus Monkey. Note the long sideburns. 

Today’s photos bring back many pleasant memories, which during this challenging time, brings a smile to our faces. What a fantastic three-night stay at The Sands at Nomad Resort! They treated us like royalty knowing we’d be documenting our experiences which was entirely unnecessary.

Many times we ask for special pricing for several reasons:

  1. We’ll be promoting the business, not only while we’re on the premises, but also for years to come via our website
  2. In most cases, we’ll be staying longer than most guests
  3. We have acquired a five-star rating as renters from past property owners and property managers
Another Colobus with the long swatches of hair. Not all of them had these particular markings.

As in the case of this above aforementioned short three-night stay, our special pricing included a discount of 30% off the regular room rates. We were happy with that at the time. But, now after researching online, their prices have increased by 40%. Today, their room rates range from a low of US $329, INR 24551, to a high of US $418, INR 31192, per night. Such prices would be beyond our reach if we could return to Kenya anytime soon.

We had such a good time during that three day period and during our three months in Kenya, other than the apprehension we felt for our safety while due to high crime risks, Our favorite restaurant, Sails, which we visited many Saturday nights, was bombed by terrorists a month after we’d left.

After returning from the pool where the umbrellas provided too much shade, Tom did a quick 20 minutes in the sun on one of the chaise lounges in our front yard.

We were ill-advised about renting a car while in Kenya even in the more upscale area of Diani Beach, due to the high risk of carjackings. Instead, our landlord provided us with the name of a reliable local man who drove us everywhere. Based on these facts we didn’t go sightseeing as much as we have in other countries.

Even at the grocery store, the taxi was searched by military staff carrying rifles, and we were searched upon entering the market or the phone store where we purchased data. Military personnel were stationed at every ATM. It was while we were in Kenya that the horrific attack transpired at a shopping mall in Nairobi.

The chaise lounges at our ocean cottage where fresh towels are delivered each day.

Our family members and many friends/readers contacted us to ensure we were ok. But, Diani Beach is an almost 10-hour drive from Nairobi. The fact our house and the owner’s house next door were guarded by two guards in two 12-hour shifts seven days a week provided us with a modicum of peace of mind, especially at night.

We had a red emergency button next to our bed and the windows throughout the house had steel bars on all windows. At night, we had to close the windows due to the mosquitos and other insects when there were no screens on the windows. The house became a hotbox during the night with only a slow-moving ceiling fan over the bed.

Early this morning as we left our cottage for breakfast in the main restaurant.

Why did we go to Kenya? To be able to visit the Maasai Mara for our first safari experiences. But, we are grateful for the time we had in Kenya, which toughened us up. The wonderful local people we met, who were warm and kind, and the rich cultural experiences were presented to us in one way or another, day after day.

Kenya is now open for tourists and occasionally, there are a few odd flights out of Mumbai right now. But, based on the above scenarios, neither of us feels it makes sense to return at this time. We long for the freedom of movement, driving, shopping, and dining out, all of which will be possible when and if we can return to Marloth Park, South Africa.

A sunny view from our veranda to the sea.

Don’t get me wrong, Johannesburg and other cities in South Africa have very high crime rates as shown here:

Countries with the Highest Crime Rates (from this site)

The countries with the ten highest crime rates in the world are:

  1. Venezuela (84.36)
  2. Papua New Guinea (80.04)
  3. South Africa (77.29)
  4. Afghanistan (76.97)
  5. Honduras (76.65)
  6. Trinidad and Tobago (72.43)
  7. Brazil (68.31)
  8. Guyana (68.15)
  9. El Salvador (67.84)
  10. Syria (67.42)

Marloth Park, in itself, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg, has its own share of crime from time to time, mainly burglaries of the bush homes, occupied by both locals or tourists. Let’s face it, many cities in the US are not safe right now either.

This adorable cat came to visit daily as we sat on the veranda of our beach cottage.

The bottom line, “you can run but you can’t hide.” Of course, now with COVID-19, that becomes another consideration for us, as to which countries will accept us and their subsequent restrictions for US citizens and those arriving from India. In time, it will all come to fruition, won’t it?

Be well.

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

Bartenders performing tricks at the Ice Bar on the ship. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #220 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Today is our 3000th post!!!…

 

Within the first half-hour in our cottage, unpacked, dressed in our swimsuits, this monkey stopped by for a visit outside the window of our indoor living room. Most likely she/he, a possible Sykes Monkey knows there is a welcome fruit plate given to new guests. Giving food to the monkeys is a bad idea, reducing their interest in foraging for their own food, which is plentiful here. We had no trouble resisting the temptation.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya when we embarked on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one-year anniversary of world travel. For more from this date, please click here.

This was the beach in front of our cottage.

Yep, today’s post is #3000, after beginning to post on March 15, 2012! With our eight-year world travel anniversary upcoming on October 31, 2020, we knew this would transpire close to this year’s anniversary date. We’re only two days off.

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. Apparently, they have become used to humans at the resorts.

If years ago, I’d been asked to write a daily essay or letter generally focused around one topic: two senior citizens traveling the world without a home anywhere in the world, without storage, while living on a strict budget, I’d have emphatically stated that I couldn’t have done it.

This pool bar was open 24-hours a day, for the middle of the night drinkers.

But, here we are. We’re primed and ready for the next 3000 posts, providing our mutual good health, and that COVID-19 is sufficiently tempered at some point, enabling the freedom of world travel. As our regular readers know, we’re anxious to carry on but we are entirely subject to borders opening for US citizens and recent occupants of India, the two countries with the highest numbers of cases, a double whammy for us.]

When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort, we were welcomed with flower leis and orange mango juice. (I politely declined, but Tom enjoyed his).

Now, as I continue to work on the edits on historical posts, working from the oldest to the newest, I’ve only made my way through the first two years, with six more to go. I’ve accepted that this is a long and painstaking process. But, as time marches on anyway, in our less than desirable situation, I’ll eventually get this task knocked off.

The sun is so close to the equator that it is scorching. We spent two hours by the pool with only 20 minutes in the sun. The remainder of the time it was comfortable in the padded lounge chairs under the shade of a giant umbrella.

As for today’s photos, we couldn’t help but smile over these shots taken on the first day of a three-day holiday/vacation within our holiday/vacation-type lifestyle to celebrate our first year on world travel. We had a fantastic experience as our photos will indicate over the next few days, as we repeat them through our anniversary date in two days.

The window to our view of the ocean. 

No, we won’t be doing much celebrating for this year, #8. We discussed ordering drinks, which are now available for room service. But as we’ve mentioned in earlier posts, neither of us is interested in drinking cocktails in our hotel room. We never have been. Also, it’s been seven months since we’ve each had a drink, it just wouldn’t feel like the right time to imbibe. We’ll save that for a time we can be with friends, hopefully, down the road in Marloth Park.

Our new living area with comfortable furniture and a TV!  With no indoor living room in our three-month holiday home, this was a treat!

However, seven years ago, we celebrated in a big way during our stay at the luxury resort, The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach Kenya. We’d arranged special pricing with the exquisite resort as we often do, based on our agreement to write detailed posts about the resort while there, providing them with a new source of marketing through our substantial worldwide readership. It was a win-win for all of us.

Tom, catching a few rays in the scorching sun. Not too much though. We’ve seldom lounged in the sun these past 5 months for our former “usual one hour” since arriving in Italy on June 16th due to the bees and flies. In Kenya, the only sunny areas are directly on the grass where the likelihood of a bee sting is greater. (Both of us are seriously allergic to hornets, certain bees, and wasps. A bite can be life-threatening which surely attributes to my skittishness of being around biting insects. More than once I’ve been rushed to an emergency room as a result of a sting. Tom’s only been stung once, but also had to go to a hospital for treatment. Thus, our excessive caution).

We were booked into one of the luxurious oceanfront thatched-roof huts and couldn’t have been more pleased with the accommodations, food, drinks, service, and scenery as shown in these photos. Please check back the next few days for more photos.

As for today, it’s business as usual. Of course, we check daily to see if flights and borders are open for travel for us, and at this time, it’s not looking good. It’s entirely possible we could be here for another six months. We’re trying hard to accept this reality.

Lounge, with WiFi and a reading area. The WiFi was high-speed at no charge which we found to be the best connection we’ve had in Kenya thus far. Thank you, The Sands at Nomad.

We hope you all are managing to accept the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 in your area wherever you may be and being diligent to avoid contracting the virus by making good choices each and every day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with post #3001!

Photo from one year ago today, October 29,2019:

Pumpkins and Halloween decor, decorate the grand staircase. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #212 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Losing weight after lockdown???…

No, this was not a creature that we found in our bathroom during the night. It was my delectable entrée, delicate grill calamari with an octopus topper at dinner a week ago Saturday at the divine The Sands at Nomad.

Note: Due to WiFi issues in Kenya at the time, some of the captions for the photos, couldn’t be added when I carried over the photos. Subsequently, I’ve left out a few captions in today’s photos. 

Today’s food photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diana Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

My dinner plate in its entirety, seven skewered grilled garlic buttered calamari atop a plentiful portion of grilled non-starchy vegetables. I didn’t try the sauce, fearing it may contain sugar. 

How exciting it is today to see these dining-out photos from seven years ago today at The Sands at Nomad restaurant and resort. However, after acquiring a long-lasting stomach bug from eating too many baby octopus on Christmas Day in Fiji in 2015, I’ve yet to eat a meal such as this again.

Tom’s pork chop dinner that same evening with fried potato wedges and sautéed vegetables.

As good as this looks to me in its concept, minus the octopus topper, right now we’re both craving a huge juicy steak, such as a rib-eye or T-bone. I can’t imagine how tasty that would be. It’s been nine months since we’ve had any beef, which isn’t served in India due to the sacred nature of cows.

Tom was looking forward to dining with the cool ocean breezes washing over us.

We appreciate and respect their religious beliefs, but never imagined we wouldn’t be able to eat any beef or pork (other than bacon) for such an extended period. Uncertain, as to the source of fish here in India, and considering the polluted oceans, I tend to avoid fish as much as possible.

One of the many lounge areas in The Sands at Nomad, not only a resort and restaurant, but a welcoming stopping point for thirsty visitors seeking a spot to relax and unwind either inside the bar or at the tables on the beach where food is also served.

The only fish options in this hotel are salmon and prawns, both of which are tiny portions. Sure, I could place a double order for an average-sized portion of either of these. But I’m not willing to pay US $36, INR 2643, for a fish or seafood when I don’t know the source. When I asked the chef these questions regarding fish and seafood, the answers were vague and unclear. So, chicken is it, night after night.

This morning I ordered a cheese plate with a few hard-boiled eggs. The cheese plate was so huge, (again, inconsistency) that tonight I may take a break and not order dinner at all, finishing the remaining egg and cheese.

That Saturday night, the 19th, after the complimentary taxi ride, we walked the short distance to the restaurant. We were enthused to see the property in daylight. Although shortly after 6:00 pm, we’d still have an opportunity to see a few of the suites and peruse the remainder of the property while still light.

Tom has stopped ordering dinner altogether. It was either swimming in butter or too dry. We’ve both reviewed the menu over and over and there is literally nothing else to order that I can eat or that Tom’s is willing to eat.

There are some takeaway menus online that could be ordered and delivered to the hotel, but mostly, it consists of deep-fried, starchy, sugary options, none of which appeal to either of us. In any case, both of us are losing weight, which we both needed to do after all this time in lockdown.

I am only 7 pounds, 3.19 kg away from my goal, my lowest weight in the past eight years, where all of my remaining clothing in my luggage will fit me. While in the US last winter, I’d bought a number of items my sister Susan and I always referred to as “Heidi” clothes which we called clothing that attempted to “hide” excess weight.

Felix, the host for our tour of the suites, took us along a path parallel to the ocean to see the interesting and appealing grounds, a part of which included these private cottages. It was only two weeks later that we booked a three-night stay here to celebrate our travel anniversary on October 31, 2014.

Getting rid of all of those four-sizes-larger clothing (which we’ll donate before leaving India) will help reduce our luggage weight, that within the next month will result in a total loss of 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, for me. After I had open-heart surgery in February 2019 in South Africa and was relatively immobile for so long while also taking those awful medications, I gained weight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t lose it. 

It was only in the past few months, that I bit the bullet and resumed eating a very low carb/keto diet to reduce the pain in my legs, that I found I started losing weight, about 3 pounds, 1.4 kg a week. The pain in my legs has improved about 75% coupled with the weight loss. So, I guess there’s a benefit to the food situation here after all.

The executive cottages were exquisite.

Now that Tom’s stopped ordering dinner and eats a big breakfast instead, he’s also losing what he’d gained during lockdown from eating that dish of chicken pasta every night with a side of roasted potatoes. He continues to walk and do the stairs daily.

The cooks at the grill were friendly and helpful in assisting us to make our decisions.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time for me to head back out into the corridor after having completed half of my daily 5 miles, 8 km, walk in the corridors. 

Have a healthy day!

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

Tom’s Italian chicken pasta lunch in Wales. Little did Tom know that he’d been eating chicken pasta in Mumbai, India for over 200 nights! For more, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #210 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Nothing has changed…

This is what I heard flying around in the empty second story of the house in Diani Beach, Kenya, which proved to be an owl, 

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 after returning from safari to Diani Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

Nothing has changed. We’re still in this hotel room, attempting to make the best of it each and every day. This morning, Tom’s omelet was overcooked and his bacon was undercooked. He called the restaurant and asked for “crispy bacon,” a seemingly difficult food item for Indian cooks to get right who really don’t eat bacon. We try to be patient. They sent up a new batch.

The moon is a crescent on the bottom portion when this close to the equator. Who would have ever thought of this? No, we didn’t watch the toilet flush in the opposite direction as it does in the US. 

Each day, each evening the same items we’ve ordered, are different than the day before. Tom finally gave up ordering dinner. Instead, he eats a big breakfast.  I haven’t been having much in the way of breakfast after becoming tired of the same things, day after day. I focus on my dinner of grilled chicken parts, broccoli, and sauteed mushrooms, changing up the vegetables periodically for variety.

From time to time, I’ll order the grilled salmon, but the portion is so small I end up hungry after the meal, often ordering two hard-boiled eggs to round it out. We never realized how eating for pleasure was so important until this situation. We both long for variety to no avail. 

Diners at Madafoo, in Diani Beach, as well as most other resort properties are welcomed to sit outside, near the beach, and in some cases by their pool. 

This morning, I felt out-of-steam walking my first mile. Maybe today, I need to take a day off, the first time since I began in March. I slept well last night, but wonder if the repetitive nature of this same old, same old, walking path in the corridors, hour after hour, may finally be getting to me. I’ll continue on tomorrow, but need a change of pace today.

Often, I’m tempted to say this is comparable to being in prison, but I don’t, realizing prison would be much worse. The bed here is divinely comfortable and we have a private bath. We have a flat-screen TV and can stream shows, although they stop every seven or eight minutes for a few minutes, to the spinning red wheel, when the signal is poor.

While we sat near the ocean at Madafoo’s a few vendors approached us, relentlessly trying to encourage us to make a purchase. Watching the windsurfers was fun but seemed more befitting the younger crowd. We only observed one person possibly over 40 partaking in this activity.

Two days ago, I forgot to mention that when I left to get cash from an ATM for the package, it was the first time I’d been outside the hotel in seven months, except for a few occasions I stepped out the main door to collect an item from Amazon India when we’ve ordered basic toiletries and pharmacy items. Since that time, I’ve asked the hotel staff to please collect our packages and bring them up to our room. 

The sunbathers left as the sun began to set and we moved to the restaurant for dinner,

I would never have imagined not going to a market, a pharmacy, or any store for over seven months. How peculiar that is. During our last foray in the US, I stopped at a Walgreens at least once a week for an item or two. Now, not at all. Amazon India has many items but different quality, prices, and actual products. Also, each item is shipped individually, resulting in lots of monkeying around including:

  1. Sending me a text with an OPT (one-time password)
  2. The driver waits for me to respond and if I don’t respond immediately they cancel the shipment
  3. If I do respond immediately, I have to enter the OPT.
  4. Then, the package is left with the guard at the distant gate who calls the front desk staff to collect it
  5. Then, the front desk calls our room phone to inform us the package has arrived, asking if we want to get it or have it delivered to our room. We always request, “Deliver to our room, please.
  6. Within 30 minutes the item arrives at the room after the doorbell is rung. I get up to answer the door and take the package.
    This adorable guy, a part-time resort resident belonging to one of the windsurfing trainers, hung around with us during our dinner looking for morsels.  Once we gave him several bites and he saw our plates were clean, he moved over to the table of other diners with full plates.

Yesterday, my single bottle of TUMS antacids didn’t arrive, falling short at item #3 above. I didn’t see the text until it was too late. The item was canceled and now I have to reorder. Shucks! The nature of the beast. 

Ah, I don’t mean to sound down or morose. But, regardless of how busy we stay, how much we get done, how many shows we stream, and how many podcasts we listen to, this is not easy. Yes, it’s better than prison and for this we are grateful.

The moon at Madafoo’s second night we visited upon returning from the safari, then on October 15th, was almost full.

Ultimately, we are grateful to avoid becoming infected with the virus which is rampant here in India, especially in Mumbai. In no time at all, India will surpass the US in the number of cases, and probably already has, with the poverty here and the thousands, if not millions, of unreported cases and deaths.

We remain safe in this cocoon and for that, dear friends, we are grateful. Nothing has changed.

Thank you for being at our side, continually offering so much love and support which means the world to us. 

Stay healthy and hopeful.

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2019:

Ken and Linda set up our camera timers for this photo of the four of us in front of Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

Day #209 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Package delivery from hell…

Moments before it rained in the Maasai Mara, Tom captured the clouds rolling in at precisely the right moment. Wow, Tom!

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while returning from safari to Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

It all began in July when we’d ordered necessary supplies from the US to be sent from our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada to our hotel in Mumbai, India. Included in that box is our new second passports, which we’d applied for while in the US last November.

 Arriving at the landing strip, this tiny plane was the only one in sight.  Then I knew this was Edwin’s plane and we’d be flying in it once again.

Note: On Monday, for those of our readers finally receiving the daily posts, we are in the process of changing the look of these emails to be more consistent with the look of our site and reducing the number of posts in each email from five to one, as we had in the past when using Blogger as opposed to WordPress which we’re using now. It is only through your kind comments and support that we are able to make our site as user friendly and appealing as possible. Thank you for this, and of course, for continuing to share in our daily updates.

OK. Here goes. Another package from hell story and folks, as I’ve promised Tom, our last. We will no longer be ordering favorite items we need from the US, not now and not in our future travels, providing someday we can get out of here. The most recent and LAST package was sent from our mailing service on July 28, sent FedEx Express. 

Edwin prepared for takeoff while I was sitting behind the empty co-pilot’s seat. For the first leg of the flight, it was just Tom and me on the plane with Edwin. Tom sat behind me so he too could look out the window.

Since we had a number of items in the box of varying values, I insured the package for INR 73,443, US $1000, probably more than the value of its contents but I rounded it off. If it was lost, at least we could recover the INR 29377, US $400, shipping fees plus the contents. That was my second mistake, the first being sending the package in itself. I shouldn’t have insured it at all, which I will explain going forward.

FedEx in India is not like the dependable, efficient FedEx in the US and perhaps some other countries. Here, you can call for help and be on hold for hours, never to reach a human being. I am sure part of this was due to COVID-19 but from what we’ve discovered as businesses have now opened up here, the process for receiving a package is horrendous.

Approaching the landing strip to pick up seven more passengers, most complaining they hadn’t seen the Big Five. We kept our mouths shut when we’d seen the Big 5 in the first 10 hours on safari.

It was only about three weeks ago, after sending dozens of email messages, that we were informed we needed to submit a number of documents, including passport bio and back pages, a letter from the hotel, and our visa documents. Why all this to receive a package? It’s obvious, they certainly went through the box to view the contents. Why all this?

Then, while still in Delhi after 2½ months, it finally went through customs to determine a customs duty. Regardless of the contents, they assessed the contents for the insured US $1000, with a duty tax of INR 71364, US $974, including some arbitrary COVID-19 processing fee. In other words, we had to pay this horrific amount in order to receive the box based on my declaration of the insured contents. My faux pas, entirely.

         Control panel of the single-engine plane.

Then, on top of that, there was virtually nowhere online that we could pay this amount in advance. The only way to pay was to do a bank transfer. While sitting in the lobby yesterday, with the help of the wonderful hotel manager, Umesh, I was on the phone with our bank in the US trying to do the transfer but, FedEx India’s SWIFT number wouldn’t work through a US bank account. 

Oh, good grief, I was sitting down there for over an hour with no air con in the open lobby, temperature around 90F, 32C, wearing a mask and gloves and sweating up a storm while the FedEx guy had the package in his truck and wouldn’t deliver it until we paid.

 A breathtaking view from the plane.

Our amazing hotel manager offered to pay out of his bank account for which I could pay him, but that didn’t work either due to the SWIFT account issue. Frustrated, we both racked our brains. Basically, we needed INR 71364, US $974, in cash. Who carries that many rupees in their possession? Not us. That’s a lot of bills.

Finally, after multiple sweaty attempts to figure this out, I told Umesh we had no choice but to go to ATMs to get the cash. When we first arrived in India and tried to get cash, we had to go to several ATMs when, in India, they only dispense INR 10000 maximum per transaction. We have two debit cards and this would mean four different ATMs.

 As we flew over Diani Beach the smoke from fires burning, clouded the view. In Kenya, there’s no ban on burning often resulting in noxious fumes filling the air.

Plus, when we got here many moons ago, we tried five or six ATMs on a weekend and all of them were out of cash. I imagined yesterday, Saturday, we’d run into the same problem. Umesh and I took off in the hotel’s van heading to the closest bank ATM expecting more luck at an indoor bank facility and they were out of cash!!!

We drove to another bank ATM, five minutes away in dense, noisy, traffic. The walk up to the second bank’s ATM room was treacherous with uneven clumps of cement in an undefined walkway. I hung onto Umesh for dear life.

The miracle of all miracles, the two machines in that tiny room, allowed me to make eight transactions, each at a cost of INR 200, US $2.72. I used both mine and Tom’s debit cards four times each. With the Africa bag in my possession, including a plastic bag to hold the huge number of bills, a sense of relief washed over me as we made our way back to the hotel.

A final view of the King of Jungle. We were never disappointed, continually offering an opportunity for a close-up and the opportunity to observe his/her playful antics and instinctual behaviors. Thank you, lions.

Umesh called the FedEx guy to return to the hotel with the package at which point, I met him in the lobby while he counted out the money, gave me a receipt, and placed the 8.62 kg, 19-pound box onto the hotel luggage trolley. One of the staff members brought the package up to our room.

We’ve yet to open the box, after waiting 48 hours to handle it. If there is COVID-19 on the outside of the box or on the interior contents from inspection, a sufficient amount of time would have passed.

Enough about that! We won’t be writing any more posts about delayed packages in the future. We’re done ordering stuff from the US. 

Well, anyway, we’re emotionally recovered from that debacle and can now go back to the debacle on hand!

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2019:

In this case in Chepstow Castle ruins, the presence of vines created such a pleasing effect that it remained in place over the centuries.For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #208 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A review of an exquisite first safari experience…Firsts!…

It was hard to say goodbye to the staff at Camp Olonana Sanctuary Retreat after the extraordinary stay and safari.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

The lodge was an invited place for us to sit, sip beverages and post our photos and stories. With no Internet access in the tents but available at no charge in the lodge, we spent most of our limited spare time in here.

Seven years ago today, we wrote a comprehensive review of Camp Olonana Sanctuary Retreat in the Maasai Mara in Kenya where we had the privilege to experience our first safari in Africa, forever emblazoned in our hearts and minds.

The dining room’s ambiance was easy going and welcoming.

There’s a lot to be said for “firsts” and without a doubt in our minds, that particular first left us reeling with sheer wonder and delight. Throughout our world travels, over and over again, we’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide array of firsts, that above all, stand out in our minds years later.

One evening, as we were busy posting after dinner, the staff and guests began dancing around the lodge to celebrate a couple’s anniversary. It was an intimate group with no more than 16 guests on-site while we were there. (The camp holds a maximum of 28 guests). With a little prodding from the staff, we joined in the line.

Whether it was our first transiting of the Panama Canal, the first in-person view of the Eiffel Tower, the first sighting of The Treasury in the hidden city of Petra, the first visit from a warthog in our garden in Marloth Park or our first cruise, they all hold special meaning with us.

 Windblown, with hat hair, at dinner each evening we wore our daytime safari clothes, feeling too tired to change. Also, arriving from safari between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, food was more important than fresh clothing.

Frequently coming up in conversations between us and others, firsts litter our itinerary, year after year, combined with the easy memories of the events surrounding such events. Isn’t it ironic how we all remember such times as our first date, our first kiss, our first airplane ride, our first bicycle, our first car, our first pet, and our first job?

The gift shop had a wide array of souvenirs and gifts, none of which we purchased with no room in our bags as we continue on our world travels.

Traveling the world the past has provided us, old-timers, with a wealth of firsts we never imagined in our dreams, and yet, here we are, universally, worldwide, all experiencing our first pandemic, our first months in lockdown and our first times wearing face masks, as non-medical professionals.

On the second night at camp as we were finishing up yet another safari, Anderson took what appeared to be a new route back over unpaved bush areas.  Bouncing about, we all giggled over the new route wondering why we were taking this route. With the gates to the reserve locking at 6:30 pm, we were late getting out. We’d assumed this new route was a way around going through the gates. Instead, suddenly we saw this campfire, to be surprised by everyone at camp, all guests and most staff were awaiting our arrival that tonight was the ritual “dinner in the bush” was a total surprise for the six of us.

Firsts are not always pleasant, as in the case of COVID-19, and many of us may prefer to have this event excised from our minds, which does nothing more than elicit painful thoughts and memories we wish had never happened. In our attempts at positivity, many of us strive to find meaning in even the most sorrowful of experiences to guide us through our lives, adding to our purpose and depth of character. 

The Maasai villagers were in attendance to sing and dance before or dinner as we all sat in a half-moon of comfortable chairs, enjoying appetizers and beverages, sharing our various safari stories. 

This period of COVID-19 still leaves me wondering what we’re supposed to learn from this. Each day, during the past seven months, as I walk the corridors, earbuds in my ears, listening to some informational podcasts, my mind wanders away from the voices I’m listening to that same question. “What am I supposed to learn from this “first?”

Look at my plate at the “bush dinner!” It was exciting to know that most of the meat and vegetables were within my dietary constraints, all prepared to perfection, seasoned with local spices. Once again, great job Chef Ambrose!

Was it resilience? Patience? Tolerance? We both already feel we’ve had these bases covered after living without a home for the past almost eight years, amid many stressful and challenging situations. We’ve often mentioned the need and commitment we’ve made to adaptability as, scenario after scenario, we were tested as to our ability to adapt. We not only managed but most often, somehow, we thrived.

After the bush dinner, we posed for a photo, although after a day on safari, I hardly felt photo-ready. Tom’s face was sunburned from the almost 8 hours we spent on safari that day, exposed to the elements, loving every minute. We couldn’t wait to put our clothing in the dirty laundry hamper to be washed, dried, and folded to perfection that was returned to our tent that same evening. This service was included in the all-inclusive pricing.

I suppose time will tell. Perhaps this query to ourselves on this topic will present itself somewhere in the times to come, once we’re blissfully removed from this confinement-type existence, purely predicated by an invisible toxin wafting through the world at a ravaging pace.

Ah, the naysayers who espouse this virus is a hoax! Those who have lost loved ones, young or old, don’t call this a hoax. 

On the first night, we both had the same entrée, a grilled sirloin steak atop a medley of sautéed vegetables. Tender, cooked exactly as requested, this steak required only a butter knife to cut it. Neither of us had appetizers or dessert that evening after having had lunch earlier in the day upon arrival.

As for today’s photos, they are a pleasant reminder of a “first” that we can easily determine its purpose, in its impact on our lives, the changes we’ve made, the adaptation we’ve embraced and the awe and appreciation we gleaned from such a glorious and memorable experience.

My nightly dessert of fine cheese and Kenya is grown cashews and macadamia nuts. The night of the “bush dinner” Chef Ambrose had remembered to bring these items for my dessert, as the only guest in camp unable to eat the traditional desserts. Wow!

Enjoy these photos with us, knowing our comments from the past event, seven years ago today, were heartfelt and passionate.

Enjoy your day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2019:

Coat of arms on shields at the entrance gate to Chepstow Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #206 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Auto email issues resolved!…Romantic Lion Couple…Rated “R”…

It was a perfect morning. The Romantic Lion Couple in the Maasai Mara in 2013, appeared casual and at ease under the shade of this tree. But, the air was filled with passionate tension.

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The female lion occasionally opened an eye, checking out his next move.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

We’ll always remember the day while on safari in the Maasai Mara, of the mating lion couple we aptly named the Romantic Lion Couple. When our guide, Anderson, spotted this female and male lion lounging under a tree at a distance through his high-powered binoculars, he knew exactly what was going on and drove like a “bat out of hell” to get there in time for us to watch the rarely seen event.

“She likes me. She really likes me!” He looked at us as if seeking approval to move along.

We all waited patiently for an hour in order to get today’s repeated photos. It was amazing to see the cycle of life with these two majestic animals getting along so well, when often they are at odds with each other, often over food. Generally, in the wild, female lions hunt and nearby male lions steal their food.

Was this a precursor to women notoriously being the cooks and men eating the food we shopped for and cooked? Of course, in today’s world that has changed dramatically, for the better with men often cooking, and from what we understand becomes more and more prevalent in these times of more equality.

 Although he appeared relaxed, he was well aware of the task at hand, politely awaiting the perfect opportunity.

Right, now on day #206 in lockdown, while longing to do our own cooking, I’d be thrilled to cook a meal while Tom sat by and watched. He can steal my food anytime! But, for us, when preparing meals, he helps with the prep and does all the dishes. I love this arrangement and can’t wait for it to begin once again.

In the interim, I’m still working on the revisions on our almost 3000 past posts, one by one. Most days, I can complete one page of 20 posts out of a total of 150 pages. I am only on page 34 with 116 more pages left to do.

“I think it’s time to get this show on the road!”

Now that all five of the long 2000 word posts are done, I can focus on the corrections to ensure I can complete one page of 20 per day. At this rate, it will take approximately four more months for me to complete the task. A part of it has been enjoyable, rereading every post we’ve done while I search for errors to correct.

 Actively engaged in mating before our eyes.

By no means, is this an assurance that I didn’t miss some of the errors. But, it’s certainly a lot better than it was in the old Blogger format I was using as opposed to WordPress which allows for proper line spacing and font construction. Also, I am correcting all the double-spacing after a period for each sentence.

Afterward, he moved back to the tree in his usual spot, perhaps contemplating his next move.

During these past eight years, the use of double-spacing after a period has long been defined as unnecessary. Originally, this double spacing was established as important when typing on a typewriter. Old-timer that I am, I learned that old habit and didn’t start changing it until recently. I have no doubt, I am missing some of the corrections in this regard when editing each of the 3000 posts.

It takes about eight minutes of editing time per post resulting in almost three hours each day, beyond the time it takes to do the daily post plus stopping every ½ hour to walk in the corridors. These tasks keep me busy most of the day. What else do I have to do while in this hotel room? When I am done, I’ll be relieved and grateful I took the time for this daunting task.

Their tree on the left, we drove away, with those same smiles on our faces knowing that for some magical reason, we had a safari that couldn’t have been more perfect, more fulfilling, more life-changing than the 21 1/2 hours we spent with Anderson in that sturdy Land Cruiser, bouncing too high heaven, feeling lucky, so lucky!

May you have a pleasant day!

                                                                    _________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2019:

The view of the Wye River in Wales, we encountered on a drive in the area For more photos, please click here.