What’s missing?…How can we stay entertained and engaged?…

Ruins of a castle on the drive to Balleyconneely.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland
is home to what could possibly be the oldest pub in the world. It was opened in
900AD.”

                     ______________________________________



It would be unrealistic to say we find a level of contentment in every country we visit.  It seems the determining factor is how well we can entertain ourselves when we feel like being entertained.


Unfortunately, here in Ireland, we’re stuck indoors most days with the cool, windy, and rainy weather.  Each sunny day, we can’t get out the door quickly enough to explore, take photos and reach a destination we’re curiously seeking.

Seagulls on the craggy rocks in Balleyconneely.

We’ve made a list of places we’d like to visit while here but with only 55 days remaining until we depart for Amsterdam, time is quickly closing in and we wonder if we’ll be able to see these points of interest while here.


I’ve been nudging Tom for us to get out and research his ancestry but with the distances to the locations in which to explore, we hesitate to go.  Also, as he’s continued research on Ancestry.com, he doubts he’d be able to find anything when records weren’t diligently kept for citizens in Ireland during that era, the early 1800s, and further back.

A dad and son looking for seashells on the beach.

Instead, he fills his days with mindless drivel while I prepare the posts, prep the meals and do the laundry.  I must admit, I spend a certain part of each day dealing with the insurance issues resulting from my four surgeries between January and April.  The “paperwork” never seems to end.


Don’t get me wrong…we aren’t bored.  We’re rarely if ever bored.  In the quietest of times, we can always plug in the HDMI cord to my computer and the TV and watch a movie, although we rarely do so during daylight hours.

A few years ago, we both used to read a lot of books on our phones.  But, for some reason, we’ve lost interest in reading books and instead read news and general information online.  



In Ireland, many cliffs and rocky walls line the shoreline.  It was great to see a few beaches but none attracted sunbathers and swimmers in the cool weather.

Isn’t it amazing that if we so much as conceive of an idea or have a question, we can go to the Internet for an answer?  Tom seems to enjoy this type of research more than I do since I try to avoid using my laptop unless I have an important reason after I’ve uploaded the day’s post.


Is something missing right now?  For Tom, not much. He’s always able to entertain himself.  But, for me…I have to work a little harder to find ways to entertain myself.  


With the limitations of the past almost five months since the diagnosis of heart disease at the end of January 2019 and subsequent multiple surgeries, I’ve felt a little trapped at times.

We no more tire of seeing sheep than we did warthogs and kudus.

In Marloth Park, once I was able to wander out to the veranda at the end of the bedrest period, seeing the wildlife entertained me and kept me busy most days.  This was only for about a month but it made me realize how much I was dependent upon the wildlife visits to keep me engaged and excited each day.
I suppose, for me, that’s what’s missing.  But, soon enough we’ll be moving along, cruising, spending shorter periods in various country locations in the UK and eventually visiting the US when our days and nights will be full.



There are no regrets.  There is no sorrow over what has transpired since the end of January.  There is no grieving over the loss of seeing the animals every day and the excitement associated with it.  


Instead, there’s a powerful sense of gratefulness that supersedes all else.  Regardless of the challenges presented along the way, they are softened by taking the time to appreciate that which we do have, as opposed to what we don’t.  We continue on this path.


Have a peaceful day filled with gratitude.

______________________________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2018:
We haven’t seen Scar Face in weeks and look forward to his return.  Now, we have a special affinity for Tusker, who’s very shy but practically swoons when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice…you know, the voice some of us use when talking to pets and babies.  For more photos, please click here.

Whoa!…2500 posts as of today…Food photo…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Tom’s breakfast plate included scrambled eggs with red onion and cheese with thin slices of smoked salmon and tuna pate on the side.  I had the same meal but a smaller portion, all befitting my way of eating.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Titanic was built in Belfast,
Northern Island.”


                   _______________________________________

When recently I happened to notice the number of posts we’d uploaded since our first post on March 14, 2012 (click here to read the first post), I was stunned.  It’s hard for us to believe we’ve actually done 2500 posts including today and how hard we’ve been striving to be consistent during this past almost seven years.  We’ve made every effort to post each day, other than a few times due to travel days, illness and power and WiFi outages.


In 2013, we began posting almost daily as indicated in our archives which show how many posts we uploaded each month including a total for each year. Many times we’ve mentioned how quickly the time has flown but it becomes all the more relevant when we see this 2500 number.


Is this comparable to 2500 chapters in a book?  Not quite, since our posts are shorter than one would find in a book.  However, as posted, it’s definitely a continuing story progressing similarly to a book.

Beautiful scenery on the way to the SmokeHouse located in The Pier, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway.



We’ve contemplated writing a book, particularly when we’ve been offered a few opportunities to do so over the years.  However, as we’ve always stated, we didn’t do this blog to make money and become commercialized, going to book signings and even appearing on TV shows, none of which appeals to either of us.



We write this ongoing series for love and we continue to do so for love; love of the world, its people, its wildlife, its places and the many who so kindly visit us time and time again to see what’s transpiring in our daily lives.


At times our stories and photos are exciting and filled with world adventures.  At other times, of which we are well aware, our posts are mundane and of little consequence.  

The SmokeHouse‘s interior was somewhat surprising when we expected glass counters contain rows of fish.  Everything is frozen for safety and lasting quality.  More on this in yesterday’s post.

And yet, our readers continue to return for more, pass our web address on to others for their viewing and stand along with us in support of this highly vulnerable and revealing expose of our daily lives.  


At times, I equate it to the content of the TV show Seinfeld, when for us, it can feel like a “story about nothing.”  Perhaps readers find some sense of comparison and comfort from the mundane aspects of our lives during those times when “nothing” is going on.


But, “nothing” may be frequently.  Isn’t that what life is like for most of us, especially those of us who are retired?  Some days, we’re busy and totally engaged in our daily activities when at other times, we find a certain level of contentment from doing very little; a load of laundry, making a meal and watching a favorite TV show in the evening.

Visitor’s vehicles were parked around the SmokeHouse’s building on the pier.

Do those quiet days make us feel any less alive?  For us, those days connect us to reality, provide us time to reflect, to plan for the future and look inside ourselves for ways in which we can grow.


When I think back to our 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa, it was the quiet times we recall the most, the wildlife coming to call, a day’s drive into Kruger National Park, an evening at Jabula with friends, not necessarily indicative of a busy, fast-paced life.

And here in quiet, remote Connemara, unable to drive on long road trips due to my legs, we’re perfectly content.  As I write this now, Tom is taking a nap, I am sitting alone in the lounge, munching on a raw carrot.  How much more simple can that be?

Apparently, this horse has been fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo.

And yet, in a mere 54 days, we’ll be in Amsterdam for two nights awaiting a cruise in the Baltic Sea which will take us to Copenhagen and Skagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden. 


Certainly, this type of trip isn’t mundane and laidback.  Once the cruise ends, we’ll live in the countryside in England in four different locations, here again, hardly a mundane experience.

At this point, we’re contemplating staying shorter periods in most countries to vastly expand our horizons but we’ll never tire of the quiet days, like today; a delicious dinner already prepped and ready; a glass of wine savored, along with a favorite cocktail for Tom, as we lounge in two stuffed comfy chairs overlooking Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara, Ireland.  


For us, this is hardly mundane but at times, in this unusual life we live, it may be routine and predictable.


Friends…thank you for sharing 2500 posts with us…thank you for staying with us during mundane and quiet times and thank you for either writing, commenting or quietly lurking in the background.


Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out!  May this be a pleasing day for you, even if it’s a quiet and relatively uneventful.

______________________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2018:

And, here are the girls!  Not much is “girlish” about female rhinos!  For more rhino photos, please click here.


On the road again…A gorgeous drive to a smoky place…What is food costing us in Ireland?…

It was thrilling to see white sandy beaches with little to no debris and few people.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Celtic cross and shamrock are
both associated with Ireland, but the national symbol is actually the harp.”

                      ______________________________________
We’d come to a point, where it was time to get out when finally there was an isolated sunny day.  It’s tricky driving on the winding, hilly roads and the thought of driving more than three hours in a single day is daunting.


With the necessity of keeping my legs up when I am not walking in order to keep the swelling under control (swelling impeded healing), the idea of driving for more than a few hours doesn’t make sense at this juncture.

Could this be a mating pair of sheep? 

The healing of my legs is going well, but visible only in tiny increments when we clean the wound, add the cream cream, add a new moistened gauze ending with bandages and clean compression socks every two days.


When we did this last night, I decided to wash and shave my legs in the tub in the upstairs bath which has a sprayer.  Being cautious with the open wound, I was able to shave around it.  


This has been the longest period of my adult life when I hadn’t shaved my legs in over four months.  In the past, I shaved each day.  I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  As soon as my legs dried, we began the usual bandaging process.  This could continue for a few more months, based on how it’s looking now.

Sheep lined the road’s edges.  Tom drives extra carefully when there’s no fence protecting the animals.

Anyway, early yesterday afternoon we decided to get out to a location that wouldn’t cause considerable swelling to my legs while sitting stationary in the car. 


The Connemara Smokehouse was the perfect selection.  Not only would we enjoy a scenic drive, along the open ocean, but we’d also have the opportunity to purchase smoked fish from this fine establishment, raved about by locals.


Once we entered the shop, we were surprised to see there was no official “fish case,” with a variety of freshly smoked fish on ice on display.  There were several freezers filled with several types of fish, all frozen and professionally packaged.

Most roads are not tree-lined when the majority of the terrain is green rolling hills and mountains.

(Speaking of professionally, the SmokeHouse’s website is amazing as shown here at this link).

Why was all the fish frozen?  We all have a perception that the best fish is caught in the morning and sold unfrozen a few hours later.  When we asked if they had any fresh, not frozen, smoked fish.  Their answer made all the sense in the world.


Particular with freshness and food safety, the smoking process proceeds as they’ve stated here on their site:

A short time into our drive we encountered the open sea.

The Smoking Process Smokehouse Ireland
The raw materials used to make Connemara Smokehouse Smoked Seafoods are subjected to meticulous scrutiny, where every step is of the utmost importance in producing a perfect end result. When the fish has reached the ideal weight for smoking, it is harvested from the sea, rapidly cooled, gutted, cleaned, hand filleted and boned.

To add to this assurance of quality, Graham fillets the fish by hand, which allows him to monitor every single fish that passes through our Smokehouse. The whole process is conducted quickly, hygienically and under strict control, in order to retain the fish’s fine taste, freshness and natural colour.

Then salt is sprinkled by hand over the fillets. After 8 to 10 hours it is rinsed off with fresh water and placed to smoke and dry for a further 16 to 20 hours. It is smoked in aromatic smoke from a slow-burning fire of beech wood-shavings.

For the first time since we arrived on May 12th, we encountered sandy beaches.  However, the cool weather in Ireland most likely beachgoers and tourists stay away.

This adds an exquisite taste, gives a delicate colour and results in a mouth-watering experience. The recipe used, and timing of the process, vary according to the size, desired taste, and fat content of the fish. The Connemara Smokehouse obtains its wild salmon locally. All the fish used in our products are harvested from the pure, rugged Atlantic waters.”Packing:

All products are vacuum packed and shipped by courier. Whatever the packaging or specification, The Connemara Smokehouse always guarantees the tastiest, best quality Irish Seafood.Storing Your Products:

Smoked Salmon will keep in your fridge for 2 weeks in the unopened vacuum pack and up to 8 months in your freezer also unopened. However, we recommend consumption within 7 days or freeze for up to 8 months, as this is better for the quality. See more about storing your products here.

The pristine beaches were unoccupied other than by a few bundled up walkers with their children or dogs.

This made a lot of sense to us.  Fish spoils quickly.  This meticulous company refuses to run the risk of their carefully prepared products spoiling and possibly causing illness to less-than-careful purchasers.  The smoked fish is vacuum-sealed and tastes best, as explained to us if eaten within three days of, defrosting (in the fridge) and opening the package, although it may keep as long as seven days in a very cold refrigerator.

Upon entering the shop, we were warmly greeted by the owner. There were several other shoppers in the store with us.  We only waited for a minute for one of their friendly, knowledgeable staff to assist us with our order.

There were plastic laminated menus of products offered are in English, French, and German.  After perusing the menu and getting a few tastes from our rep, we decided on organic smoked salmon, mackerel, tuna and a tub of a tuna pate.


Prices were comparable to smoked fish in the US, if not a little more.  For all the fish, we spent Euro 76.59, US $86.07, enough fish to last us for several breakfasts when we’ll enjoy it the most.  

Also, lately we’ve been spending approximately Euro 40, US $44.95 a week for fresh caught, unsmoked fish and seafood, plus all of our general groceries at SuperValu in Clifden.  

After arriving in Ireland one month ago, we’ve spent a total (including all fish) of Euro 1210.17, US $1359.93, which also includes wine and Tom’s Courvoisier.  Dining out, we’ve spent Euro 247.61 US $278.25.  Our grand total to eat in and dine out is Euro 1461.71, US $1628.17 averaging at Euro 48.59 US, $54.60 per day.  

Based on past records we’ve diligently maintained over this past many years, the cost to eat in and out is higher in Ireland than any other country we’ve visited. There’s no doubt, we purchase a lot of organic vegetables and high-quality foods but we only have a maximum of two meals a day and few, if any snacks.

It’s the way it is.  As we all know, part of the fun of traveling is dining, whether cooking at a holiday home or dining out.  We admit we haven’t missed out on a morsel of fine food, most of which we’ve made at “home.”

In any case, we had a great time yesterday, driving for a little less than two hours with many stops along the way to take photos.  Over the next several days, we’ll continue to share more new photos from our outing.  Before we know it, we’ll head out on another sightseeing tour.

Be well.  Be happy.
______________________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2018:

      This is a “train” of a grouping of the African Silk Worm which returned to our veranda after we  moved them away.  For more photos, please click here.

A busy day…A trip to Kapaa and an evening with friends…Local pub, Tiki Iniki Tiki Bar…

 

The Kauai Path was a lot longer than it appeared when we first started walking. My walking shoes “broke” with new shoes arriving in a package from our mailing service soon. In the interim, shorter walks are necessary.

Yesterday was another busy day. We don’t head out on any explorations or planned activities each day until after we’ve uploaded the day’s post. Once it’s uploaded, Tom proofreads it while I make the necessary corrections he often brings to my attention.

At the beginning of the Kauai Path in Kapaa, there were restrooms and covered shelters for those preferring to stay out of the sun.

Once completed, Tom copies and pastes the content to his blind brother Jerry in Minnesota, after removing all of the photos but, leaving the photo captions intact, enabling Jerry to have an idea of what we’ve seen as he listens to his talking computer. It means so much to him, and to us, to be able to share our stories with him.

The tide was high and on its way out when we walked the path as shown by the water in these rocks.

Usually by 10:30 or 11:00 am, we’re ready to take off to the Makai Golf Club to lounge by the pool and or my high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout after which I join Tom at the pool for a bit of time in the sun and idle chatter with other members. 

The paved Kauai Path in Kapaa was close enough to the ocean to allow for ocean photos.

Usually, I wear my swimsuit and yoga pants on workout days, making it easy to slip them off before crawling onto my lounge chair. On a few occasions, I’d brought along my swimsuit to change into after the workout, but had a dreadful time pulling it up when sweaty. 

On the opposite side of the paved path was an area being excavated for homes to be built.

I’ve learned my lesson and now shower (required before entering the pool) while wearing my swimsuit, rinsing off from the workout. By then, it’s already my second shower of the day with a third awaiting when we return home later.

After a pleasurable chat by the pool with Richard and Larry (a pool regular), we headed out to check out the popular tourist town of Kapaa, known for its convenient shopping for both tourists and locals with its Safeway market and numerous small shops located in a strip mall.

It was a mostly clear day making the walk especially pleasurable.

Another feature of Kapaa that has piqued our curiosity is the Kauai Path, a several mile long paved walkway that borders along the ocean a few miles from the town of Kapaa. 

As we passed this area, we heard many chickens and rooster clucking and crowing.

Easily finding a parking spot at the beach, we headed out onto the path walking for no less than an hour, never quite reaching the end. We stopped several times along the way for photos. With our upcoming planned happy hour get-together, it was necessary to cut it short. We still needed time for a stop at the Safeway for a few items I hadn’t been able to find at the Foodland store in Princeville.

I was pleasantly surprised to find all the items that I’ve needed this past month, necessary for baking a few grain-free, starch-free, and sugar-free scones and muffins that make this way of eating easier for Tom. He’s lost five pounds this first four weeks, even with a number of “splurges” along the way. 

Parts of the beach were overgrown with brush and covered with lava rock, although not nearly as much as we’d experienced on the Big Island.

Gaining weight is not an option for either of us when we have such limited clothing, all of which are the sizes we easily fit into 28 months ago. By Tom losing another 10 pounds all of his clothing will feel comfortable once again. Of course, there’s the health aspect. But, I won’t start on that now.

By 3:30 pm, we returned home from Kapaa, showered and dressed for the upcoming happy hour at 5:00 pm with new friends at the local pub, Tikiniki, owned by songwriter, record producer, and guitar player Todd Rundgren and his wife, Michele. 

My grilled steak with green was tasty but the portion was much smaller than it appears in this photo. That little cup in the upper right is about one tablespoon of mashed avocado. For an additional $2, I ordered a half of a sliced avocado on the side.

Our new friends, Cathi and Rick had invited us along with their friend Jane for happy hour and Pupu’s (appetizers) at the popular local spot after having met Cathi and Rick at last week’s “Full Moon Party” (to which we’ve been invited for each of our remaining three months in Kauai).

Last night, Todd Rundgren’s wife Michele, of considerable flair and charm, seated us. At the time we had no idea who owned the trendy establishment. Our new friends explained that the well-known couple were our hosts at Tiki Iniki Tiki Bar. Rick, a lifelong guitar player, and musician has worked with many well-known performers worldwide.

Tom’s cheese-covered beef and spam burger (bun top is on the left) and fries, hit the spot for him.

Four years ago, Cathi and Rick had been to Kruger National Park and on safari in Sabi Sands while in South Africa. They are returning again in June for another memorable safari experience. We couldn’t resist sharing stories of our African adventures along with our mutual passion for wildlife.

They were the first couple outside of Africa that we’ve met that have had similar safari experiences in South Africa.  The conversation was filled with both heartwarming and adventuresome stories. Jane is joining them in June and she was excited as she anticipates the adventures yet to come.

Both Cathi and Jane ordered this pizza type flatbread.

We ordered beverages and eventually a meal with few options for me. I drank plain iced tea and ordered a small steak salad and a side of sliced avocado. Returning home, hours later, I was still hungry, snacking on appropriate items we luckily had on hand; nuts, cheese, and a few squares of my homemade low carb fudge.

Rick ordered the spareribs which Tom will order next time.

Tom had a good burger and fries, his favorite item to order in casual dining establishments. We both agreed we’ll gladly return should the opportunity arise for yet another happy hour with a light meal in the months to come. As they say in Princeville, the food here is good but not great, although the service and ambiance are usually excellent as was the case last night.

We still had our Safeway rewards card we’d acquired in Maui saving us over $7 on $27 of odds and ends.

Having worked out strenuously and walking for an hour had little effect on my ability to sleep through the night last night. As is often the case for seniors, we both have difficulty getting what feels like enough sleep each night, awakening several times during the night. 

In Africa, we’d only observed a few male animals tending to their young along with the mom. However, in Kauai with its enormous population of chickens, we’ve repeatedly noticed roosters hanging out with the hens and her chicks, intending to ensure their safety. At times, we’ve seen multiple hens with chicks that he may be responsible for fathering. Apparently, not monogamous he’s still a good dad.

How active we’ve been during the day seems to have little, if any, bearing on how much sleep we actually get on any given night. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast (no pun intended).

The rooster and hen kept a watchful eye on their chicks in the Safeway parking lot. A few birds have also gathered when a store employee had tossed them some bread crumbs during her break.

For today, we’ll stay in Princeville. The dense cloud cover discourages any attempt to visit the pool but, a walk in the area may be on the agenda. Also, now that I have the necessary ingredients, I just may do a little baking after our walk.

Simple days are also to be treasured. 

                                            Photo from one year ago today, February 12, 2014:

When we’d moved to the African Reunion House we were concerned that visitors wouldn’t come. It took a few days but they finally began to arrive. It seemed they were attracted to the grounds at occupied houses, hoping for a pellet or two. For details from that day, please click here.

 

What??? We joined a golf club! One year ago…A stunning pot hole…

 

The sign upon entering the Makai Golf Club in Princeville, Kauai.  Its odd to think that we’re members although we don’t play golf.

We don’t play golf, neither of us able to do so with our bad right shoulders and, lack of skill. In a way, not playing golf is a good thing in our way of life. Imagine the additional expenses we’d incur in our travels when playing a round of golf is so expensive especially here in Princeville at over $350 per person with rented clubs and a cart.

But, we do love to do two things; for me, working out at a fitness center and for both of us, spending our token one hour in the sun soaking up vitamin D (vital for seniors) and catching a bit of tan preferably by a pool.

The fitness center although small had all the equipment I’d need for working out.

With no pool or easy access to a beach in the immediate area, we were looking for a double whammy. Where could we find a pool and a fitness center in Princeville, where there definitely wouldn’t be a community center? 

We’re surprised that with all the seniors in this area that there isn’t a health club when in the past, I’d seen many seniors at various fitness centers in our travels and in our old lives back in Minnesota. 

During my time working out not another person joined me.

After an extensive search, I was unable to find a single stand alone fitness center in the entire area. The only options available included pricey sessions by the hour with a fitness trainer. 

Plus, the thing about working out, it requires a close proximity in order to commit to doing it. Its hard enough to do it, let alone having the necessity of driving far in traffic.

With a flat screen TV, hand weights, exercise bands, a locker room and AC, it was perfect for me.

Plus, after stopping by the St. Regis Hotel (pricey at $550+ a night) which we heard had a pool and fitness program, we were sorely discouraged to discover  the cost at $250 per person/per day to workout and use the pool. Both the St. Regis and the Princeville Westin have an affiliation with the Makai Golf Club.

Back to the drawing board (pc) I went to work trying to find an option. Web searches kept bringing me back to the Makai Golf Club. Online, they advertised a $100 per person, per month program for both using their small fitness center and their huge lap pool.

Tom was rounded out his tan lying on his stomach on the chaise lounge by the pool at the golf club.

Calling to verify this information, I was told the website information was wrong. It would cost $125 per person per month to use both the fitness center and pool. We didn’t care for the fact that they wouldn’t honor the online price but when our options were so limited, we decided to accept this reality.

Tom doesn’t work out, nor does he care to start now no matter how much encouragement I might throw his way. However, there was no program offering a pool only membership.

Tom never naps in this position and provides a good bit of conversation to keep me entertained.

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to check out the golf club, a mere 1.8 miles from our condo, a five minute drive down the busy Ka Haku Road, the road that leads to everywhere in Princeville.

Hesitating to spend $250 a month for both of us, we entered the golf club with a bit of trepidation, thinking most likely, only I’d sign up, desperately needing to work out after a hiatus of many months, only walking during the absence which isn’t quite enough for me. 

The pool is only 4 feet deep but a perfect lap pool.

No more than five minutes after we arrived and discussed the program with the staff at the pro shop, a kindly manager offered that we follow him in a golf cart  the to the nearby fitness center and pool. Tom drove the cart with me sitting next to him as we followed Eric to see the facilities. 

The golf course borders the pool and fitness area.

I couldn’t help but giggle all the way to the pool area when “overly grumpy” Tom made negative comments to me about the golf cart traffic while he was driving the cart. This made me laugh over and over.

After we saw the facilities I was certain we’d both join the club.  It’s a fun playful atmosphere with friendly animated staff members. Once we entered the small fitness building, located in the pool area, we were both “sold.”

View from the chaise lounges at the pool.

In addition, our membership includes a social membership enabling us to attend parties and activities should we chose to partake. Back at the pro shop, we paid our first month’s dues, even reserving our spot for the Super Bowl party upcoming a week from Sunday. What a great opportunity to meet people! The only cost for the party is food and beverages purchased in the Makai Grill during the game if we so chose.

After we were introduced to more staff at the pro shop, we were excited to have made this decision. With our swimsuits with us and me already dressed in workout clothing, we grabbed the key and headed back to the pool area when, for the first time in many months I worked out, doing my usual HIIT (high intensity interval training).

We have our two new Costco chairs which we’ll keep in the car. If it so happens that the chairs are all occupied at the pool, we were told, we could bring in our own chairs.

There’s no doubt it will be many weeks before I return to my prior level of fitness. But, when it comes to working out, there’s not time like the present. I can’t wait to see those little muscles return to their former shape and size and find myself at a much higher level of health and fitness. How I’ve missed this after having worked out most of my adult life.

Add a beautiful blue sky and palm trees to the mix and the scenery is astounding.

After my workout, I struggled to get my swimsuit on. It was hot and humid and I had trouble drying off in the steamy ladies locker room that is attached to the fitness room. Trying to pull up the swimsuit was quite the challenge in my sticky state. Going forward, I’ll workout in my swimsuit and workout pants and rinse off in the shower with my swimsuit on.

It always seems to be hazy by the mountains here in Kauai, most likely as a result of the vegetation cover.

Tom waited for me in the shade reading a book on his phone. Once I was finished, we grabbed two comfy lounge chairs to languish for our hour in the warmth of the sun, enjoying the exquisite view, occasionally dipping in the pool to cool off.

We’d have been content with a pool with no views.  But this, is beyond all of our expectations.

Joining the Makai Golf Club a perfect addition to our lengthy stay in Kauai. Most likely we’ll head together to the Makai Golf Club each sunny day, while I’ll go on my own to workout on cloudy days. With HIIT, its not necessary to workout everyday but visiting the pool itself will not be unlike other locations where we’ve had a pool drawing us in for a dip on sunny days. We’re thrilled.

Greenery to take one’s breath away.

Now, we feel the long four month stint in Kauai will be easier than we’d expected. Besides, its not hard to hang around Paradise for an extended period.

Hump day. Enjoy!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2014:

Bourke’s Luck Pot Holes was an amazing sight to see on the Panorama Route in South Africa. For more photos of this exciting visit, please click here.

 

We have wheels…Lots of “extra” charges and fees…Local markets.. Losing a dear family member…


Early this morning, our dear our sister-in-law Lee Lyman, wife of Tom’s brother Jerome, passed away in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Although a vibrant 85 years old and a great-great-grandmother, Lee gave so much of herself to her beloved husband, children, grandchildren, and family. We offer our heartfelt love, prayers, and sympathy to Jerome and all who were blessed to love and know this fine woman. She will be dearly missed.

On the way to Nelspruit with our driver Okee Dokee, she stopped to buy lychee nuts from this adorable girl, who was selling them on the side of the road with her mom.
Having just returned from shopping, we’re late writing today’s post, but as promised, we planned to post after we returned with the rental car.

 

Yesterday, our plan was to pick up the car, check out the town of Nelspruit, grocery shop, buy more data at the Vodacom store, and find a store in order to purchase white socks. All we accomplished was sock purchase at a sporting goods store and a portion of the groceries.

By the time we drove away from the Mpumalanga/Nelspruit airport with the car in our possession, it was already 2:30 pm. We’d hope to get our errands done, have dinner at the popular Hamilton’s Restaurant in Malelane and be back on the road before dark.  

There was captivating scenery along the way to Nelspruit but the heavy flow of traffic during the start of the weekend before Christmas prevented us from stopping.

Although there was no line (referred to as a queue outside the US) at the Budget location, considerable time was spent as the rep explained all of the “extra’ charges over and above the basic car rental fee we’d prepaid online of ZAR $5300, US $519.47.

Notice the scowl on Tom’s face as he’s opening the door to the driver’s side on the pink rental car.

Renting a vehicle for a week or two is no big deal. Renting a vehicle for over two months is tricky since the rental car companies don’t want to honor the great online rates from outside travel sites beyond a 28-day period.  

If yesterday, when picking up the car, we’d chosen to extend the rental beyond the 28-day period, the cost per day would have jumped from ZAR $189.26 US $18.55 to ZAR $310, US $30.38! With a total of 41 days remaining until we go back to the airport to fly to Morocco on February 28, 2014, the additional cost would be ZAR $12,710, US $1,245.70. 

Getting another rental car at another great online rate is an option but the taxi fare with tip is ZAR $950, US $93.12 plus it takes a half-day of time with the long drive each way.

On the return drive from Nelspruit this sky caught our eye.

On top of all of that, Budget withheld an additional ZAR $11,733, US $1150 for damage, and other miscellaneous against the credit card we used which annoys us. On top of all of that, much to Tom’s dismay, the car turned over to us, the only car available, was PINK! Yep. Pink.

After using it today to finish our uncompleted errands from yesterday, we both decided the pink wasn’t so bad after all. We quickly moved through the Marloth Park security gate with a breeze the second time and, it was easy to spot it in the busy parking lot when we did the errands today in Komatipoort.

On Friday afternoon, we decided to only partially grocery shop, finishing today to allow us time to get to the restaurant, have dinner and get back on the road. After one of the best dinners we’ve had in a restaurant, it was worth the monkeying around.  

Must be a free-range chicken walking around the restaurant.

Although a 40 minute drive to Hamilton’s in Malelane from our home in Marloth Park, we’ll definitely return to Hamilton’s again.  Check out the photos of our fabulous dinner. With one beer for Tom and bottle water for me, plus tax, plus tip, our entire dinner was a paltry ZAR $274, US $26.86!

My dinner was a moist and tender filet with a side of seasoned butter, a small salad, and stir fried veggies. We look forward to returning to Hamilton’s soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, we decided to finish our errands, taking off in the pink car down our long driveway to be delighted to find three male kudus munching treetops in our yard. Wow! What a way to start the day!

Marloth Park has a few small strip mall-type shopping areas. Before heading to Komatipoort, a 25-minute drive to the closest large grocery store in the area, we thought it a good idea to check out the Marloth Park shops, as we’re always interested in supporting local businesses.  

Tom enjoyed his tender sirloin steak with mushroom sauce, stir-fried veggies and fries.

Although the tiny local grocery store didn’t carry many items we normally purchase, we knew we’d use it on occasion for staples. But, the separate little meat market was perfect for us, with grass fed meat at unbelievable prices, for example, a 680 gram, 1.5 pounds, Filet Mignon for Christmas Eve was a mere ZAR $110, US $10.71! We purchased enough meat to get us through another week.

The butcher store where we purchased all of next weeks meats.

The Farmer’s Market with fresh-picked, organic produce is a dream come true.This will serve all of our vegetable needs going forward. With both a meat store and produce store next door to one another, we can avoid going to the larger Komatipoort grocery store more than once every few weeks.  

We’d rather spend our time exploring than shopping.  We returned home to put the meat and produce away and took off to Komatipoort to finish. We purchased more data, finished the grocery shopping, found the local “chemist” to purchase, contact lens solution, got Tom a few more bottles of brandy, and returned home to find our veranda a mess.

The baboons had visited while we were gone, taking three cushions off of the outdoor furniture with them. When it cools down, we’ll wander around the yard to see if we can find them.  lus, they pooped on the veranda after literally moving around the heavy Adirondack chairs. 

The cozy storefront Farmer’s Market.
The interior of the local Farmer’s Market with organic produce arriving from the farm regularly.

None of the other animals have bothered or damaged anything thus far. But Louise and Dani warned us to expect this. We’re surprised it took this long before they wreaked havoc.

The small grocery store in Marloth Park has basic food supplies.

The tadpoles are still swimming around in the pool, although still not visible to the naked eye. After reading at length about tadpoles, I am concerned they may not survive due to the chlorine that was already in the pool when the eggs dropped. Apparently, any type of chemical will prevent the life cycle. We’ll keep you updated.

Soon, we’ll dress for dining at Jabula tonight, another of our favorite dining establishments. On our way, we plan to stop at the Crocodile River overlook for happy hour. Tomorrow afternoon, we’re going on yet another Kruger Park game drive and bush dinner with a group of nine.  

The chair cushion we found in the driveway, apparently taken by the baboons while we were out shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gee, we’re so busy in Marloth Park! Living in the bush warrants “never missing a thing!”

Have a festive pre-Christmas weekend. We plan to do the same and we’ll be back tomorrow with more photos from our visit to the Crocodile River!

 

Part 1…An unexpected cultural experience…Rich in content…Profound in its core…

This is a rendition of Hans‘ new construction project  (The pool is not illustrated in this rendition.)
As we entered the multi-unit building under construction, we were amazed by all of the handmade ladders, made from materials on the site. 

 

Still, on the main floor, we walked from room to room, envisioning the future appeal.

 

We couldn’t stop smiling over this creative means of supporting the ceilings.
This is why we’re in Kenya, its culture, its people, its wildlife, its vegetation, and its natural wonders all of which never cease to amaze us.
The expected completion of the first of 4 buildings on this particular site is by the end of 2013.
Seemingly fearless workers worked atop the highest levels of the building utilizing their handmade ladders.

There are a few historic buildings to sustain its tourism business.No ruins to attract visitors from afar. Buildings are made of locally handmade materials, indigenous to the parched soil; the coral, the stone, and the wood of myriad trees.

As we exited the car we were amazed by the piles of products to be used in the construction with little waste. Hans built this neighboring house.

Hans, originally from Germany, our landlord, neighbor, and now new friend, discovered Kenya in 1978, finding its richness and culture a lure he couldn’t resist. With a passion for construction and a desire to be a part of the development of his favored Diani Beach, Hans has provided much-needed jobs for the locals, making his roots firmly entrenched in the coral soil. 

This is the area where the pool is being constructed.  Rather than “pour” a pool as familiar to us, every inch of the interior and exterior are hand-engineered, one stone at a time.

 

These coral rocks for both the pool and the buildings are hand-dug on the premises.
The tall pile of pale blue stone is used to give the walls of the pool a blue color.
Coral and mortar, placed by hand, to build a swimming pool.

 

View of the future pool from the penthouse level.

Moving to Diana Beach permanently over two years ago, he and his lovely wife Jeri, from Nairobi, Kenya, have made Diani Beach their home as well as offering thoughtfully maintained vacation rentals along with the construction of future properties for sale.

These solid cement blocks are made on site in one of the future bedrooms!

 

This woman is working with the cement blocks.

Yesterday morning, Hans drove us to see one of his construction sites where no less than 50 local workers were deeply engrossed in completing this phase of the building project by the end of 2013. 

The water lines positioned within the walls of the units.
More branches, used as supports.

For us to see to the workers laboring in the hot morning sun, smiles on their faces, quick to offer an enthusiastic “jambo” greeting as we toured the huge project, our hearts skipped a beat. 

This is the stairway we took, albeit carefully, to the 3rd level to see the penthouse, also still under construction. We’ll be long gone by the time this project is completed, but Hans agreed to send us photos.

More coral and mortar used to build the walls on the interior and exterior of the building.

A future bathroom in one of the 2 bedroom units.
This method of securing the support for the ceilings was evident in almost every room, a sight neither of us had seen on a construction site.

This was life in Kenya surrounding us: the Maasai in their colorful robes; the young. athletic muscular men wearing long pants, no shirts, sweat glistening on their ebony skin;  the women, many mothers working to feed their families, wearing handcrafted tool belts while lifting heavy materials; and the older men, a lifetime of hard work etched into their deeply lined faces accentuated with a wide smile, the brightness of perfect white teeth a contrast against the rich dark skin.

Another view of the neighboring property from the penthouse level.

Walking over uneven ground through coral, stone, and rock, we followed Hans as we worked our way through the partially completed first of four large buildings to be built, each containing four large units, plus an elaborate penthouse. Once the four buildings are sold, Hans will begin building a comparable complex on an adjacent parcel of land, keeping these 50 workers and more in jobs for years to come.

“Jambo” yelled the workers as they smiled and waved to us.

Gingerly climbing up railing free cement stairways we worked our way throughout the entire structure, in awe of how different the construction was from that in the US. 

An archway being built on the penthouse level.  Here again, tree branches are used, in this case holding up the wooden mold in order to build the archway.

Literally, every major material used (except plumbing pipes and electrical lines), was made on-site by the hands of the workers: coral for the walls, hand-dug from the property’s grounds; the ladders, constructed with wood from fallen trees during the preparation of the land; the rebar made by hand as we watched up close; the solid cement blocks made in one of the future bedrooms, as we watched. 

Creative, economical use of land surrounding the building site to grow plants for future use.  How amazing is this!

A gardener tended a garden growing the future trees, plants, and shrubs, left our mouths agape in pure wonder over the sensible use of that which the environment so freely provides in abundance in Kenya. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

The beginnings of the garden that will supply the property’s landscaping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun beating on us as we walked the massive uneven grounds, sweat pouring from us with nary a complaint, slightly overdressed in discrete clothing in respect for the Muslim way of life, prominent in Kenya, we didn’t want our exploration to end. 

The gardener was proud of his work.

Finally, we made our way back to the car to sip on our water-filled mugs to wait for Hans as he spoke to his foreman and workers. By noon, we were back on the road for the 12 minutes fast drive back to stop and pick up Jeri from her teaching job, heading back to our respective homes.

After stopping to pick up Jeri at the well guarded private home, she suggested lunch at a local Kenyan restaurant on the side on the road, where there was a row of tiny open-air thatched structures, where locals stopped to dine, day and night. 

The hut where locals dine on delicious food made without chemicals, with all ingredients locally grown.  Photos of foods follow below.

We giggled as we described it as Kenya’s “fast food” restaurants; low priced, fast, and delicious, the difference being healthfully made local foods, as opposed to the processed fast-food restaurants that we’re used to seeing in the US and around the world, none of which we’ve seen so far in Kenya.

When we returned from our outing, we walked over to Hans” and Jeri’s home to take photos of the local food they purchased for lunch at a total cost of Kenya Schillings $150, US $1.77. Yep, $1.77!  When was the last time any of us purchased a meal for 2 for under $1.00 each?

 

Ugali, a cornmeal staple is commonly enjoyed as a side dish is made entirely with flour and water, boiled to perfection.  Apparently, the flavor is fabulous.  None for either of us. In my old days, I sure would have gobbled this up, maybe adding butter and syrup.

Hans and Jeri suggested we try the food.  Most certainly, I would have had many of the items had they not been prepared with flour and starches. Tom, on the other hand, would hardly have enjoyed the seasoned, vegetable-laden items. Too bad. What a fine experience that would have been! However, we took photos of the food to share with our readers. Notice the total cost of the 2 meals under the photo.

Kenya stew may consist of beef, chicken or goat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the foods of Kenya, click here. Tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll share more details about the buildings, the hand made the making of rebar, the units for sale, drawings, plans, pricing of the units, and more photos. 

This is a chapatti, a flatbread comparable to a tortilla. This was especially hard to resist, soft, warm, and flexible, easy to fill with whatever one likes.

Over the upcoming weekend, we’ll be dining out twice, sharing those details and photos.  Our story of Kenya continues on…

 

Last night out to dinner in Belize…Packing…Photos…

 

Hopefully, our new camera takes better night photos Tom standing outside Mango’s last night.
Last night we went to Mango’s a popular local bar and restaurant with our friend Bill from Minnesota. We headed to Maya Beach, a five-minute drive north of us. Bill has wheels. Tom, Bill, and I headed out around 6:00 PM.
Mango’s menu had several good options.

On the way, we stopped at a nearby grocery store to look for contact lens solutions. No such luck. With only five more nights until we board the Carnival Liberty in Belize City, I’ve decided that if I run out of solution, I’ll sleep in my contacts, using eye drops in the mornings.

 The backside of Mango’s menu.

Once aboard the ship, it should be easy to find the solution.  Most certainly, the tiny drugstore in Placencia village has the solution. As I mentioned earlier, paying the $25 round trip cab fare doesn’t make sense. If each time we run out of an item incurring additional expenses to procure it, the budget can get out of control. That’s a situation we’d like to avoid.

Over the two-plus months we’ve lived in Belize, we heard many comments about Mango’s reputation as a fun spot for locals to hang out at the bar and dine on delicious fresh food cooked to order by their locally famous chef, Rachel Welch

Look at the size of Tom’s Margarita.  Add that smile for a winning combo.  He had two of these monstrosities.

Yes, her name is Rachel Welch, as in the US actress.  Apparently, when people starting talking about her name, she had no clue who Rachel Welch was. By now, she is familiar with her namesake.  It has become a local point of humor. She’s a native of Belize with long dreadlocks and looks nothing like Rachel Welch. Regardless of whose name she similarly bears, Rachel is a great cook. 

Me and my club soda and lime.  Cocktails would be more fun!

I had one of the best meals I’d had while dining out while in Belize. Ordering the special of the day, an 8-ounce grass-fed burger the waitress looked at me in amazement. She looked inquisitively at me asking, “Do you know that’s a full half-pound of meat?”

I chuckled, “Yes, I do!  Bring it on!” She shook her head, surprised by my answer, wondering if, in fact, I’d eat the entire thing. I did.

The quaint restaurant was hopping.

The burger was stuffed and topped with grilled onions, mushrooms, and blue cheese (minus the bun) along with a generous portion of the most amazing sautéed vegetables. Bill and Tom had the same. The total bill for the night was Belize $132 with tip, which is US $66.

The place was hopping with lively conversation with a seemingly constant flow of customers. Looking around while sitting at our three-person table, Tom and I acknowledge that we would have enjoyed coming here on a regular basis. 

However, based on the prices, although reasonable, we could easily have spent US $70 a week with cab fare if we’d stopped in once a week, resulting in an added expense of approximately $800 for our time in Belize. With the added expense we incurred for rent when moving to LaruBeya on February 5, 2013, the money we’d lost on the last property, we had to forego unplanned expenses. 

Mango’s bar, a favorite haunt for locals.

It’s all part of the process. We never want to be in a position whereby we’re overrunning our budget having to “dip into” other resources. At that point, we’d be forced to “settle down” a decision we’d prefer not to make under duress if at all possible. 

Yesterday afternoon, we began the process of printing our boarding passes and cruise documents with the support of LaruBeya’s customer service desk who gladly agreed to print all of our documents on their printer.  Tom felt uncomfortable using our thermal paper portable printer for these documents, me less so. 

With the five sets of cruise documents printed and placed into our “Cruise Documents” manila envelope, kept in one of our two computer bags, we’re good to go. The documents for our upcoming 6th cruise in this time period, scheduled to sail on June 4th, are yet to be available online for printing with 63 days until the sailing. 

If we can’t get them printed prior to leaving here next Tuesday, we’ll print them in the computer center on one of the other cruises. Hopefully, in time the cruise lines will use electronic documents only. The unnecessary page after page of printed material is wasteful and pointless.  Surprisingly, Carnival only required a one-page boarding pass, in itself, progress. 

Now, back to packing.  Instead of packing all at once, we’re doing it in bite-sized pieces each day. This time it’s more complicated than it will be in the future.  After all, we’re packing three large suitcases with belongings we’re saying goodbye to for what may prove to be a very long time. 

As we’ve discovered how difficult it is to find contact lens solution, perhaps I wasn’t so nuts after all, packing a two year’s supply of products we frequently use. At the time, I thought the solution could easily be replaced. Not so the case.

We continue on in five more days.

 

 

Part 2…Holy Cow!…We had a great day!…Lots more photos…

 

I squealed with delight when we encountered this pineapple growing in Ella and Ian’s Botanical Garden.  Tom looked at me smiling, “Gee, t’s a pineapple.  Hold it together!” But, he too, reveled in its beauty.

The theme of the Botanical Garden is orchids, but other plants and flowers abundant in Belize were also incorporated into the vast display.

Simple yet elegant, a single orchid.  There were hundreds of varieties, more than we call recall, but Ian knew them all.

Ian made a special point with meeting up with us again after our tour of the enchanting tree houses, to give us a tour of his botanical gardens, a horticulturist’s dream.   

Rich, thick greens surround the dainty flowers.

 

 All the flowers and plants had signs describing their species, origins and unique qualities.

 

Art in horticulture.

 

The scents throughout the garden were intoxicating.
This unique plant is sensitive to touch. Tom touched it and it recoiled.  He was impressed.

 

Ian purchased this fountain in Guatemala.  On his way back to the resort, he hit a speed bump causing it to fall apart in the back of the truck. Later, it was rebuilt to stand in its full beauty in the Botanical Garden.

At the end of our exhilarating visit to the massive garden his dear wife Ella had so lovingly created, he took us to a little unmarked hut to discover his soap making facility, where organic soaps are handcrafted using the finest quality essential oils.

Unusual plants indigenous to Belize adorn the garden.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without six bars of soap. After the hot, humid day, we were anxious to shower back at our villa at Laru Beya using the naturally scented soaps.

Another flowering plant.

By the time we completed our tour, it was already 3:00 pm. Apprehensive about driving the scary road in the dark with a 2 1/2 hour trek ahead of us, we decided to return to Placencia. 

As we approached the exit to the garden, we spotted this locally crafted head.

When we returned to our villa, we had yet to grocery shop, visit the vegetable stand, refill the rental car (the gas station closes at 7 PM) and get ready to go out for dinner.  With the rental car in our possession until 9:00 PM, we’d plan to drive to one of the local restaurants that previously we hadn’t been able to visit on foot.

As we were about to depart, Ian wanted to show us one more of his venture. We walked the steps into this quaint building to discover it was where their organic soaps are made.  The aroma in the little hut wafted through our nostrils sending our sense of smell into overdrive.

Alas, when done with it all we were pooped, freshly showered, smelling of essential oils, still full from the cheese tasting and we decided to stay in, munch on leftovers, and watch the first episode of Dancing with the Stars.  Ah, another fine day and night.

Bins, bags, and containers were filled with handmade organic soaps. The plastic wrap, as shown in the above roll that is used to wrap the soaps, is biodegradable.

Are we disappointed we didn’t see waterfalls and ruins?  Not at all.  After all, our goal has been to do exactly what feels right to us, learning about the people, their food, their work and their dedication to the ecological preservation of their country.  

We chose six of our favorite scents.

With the production of environmentally favorable products for the people of Belize and their visitors all of whom gain as a result of the myriad health benefits coupled with the beauty of the land and sea.  Mission accomplished.

On the drive back to Placencia we counted seven single-lane bridges, none of which proved to be a problem. With no shoulder, winding mountainous roads, it was dangerous to pass other slow-moving vehicles. Tom was careful, but on a few occasions, I white-knuckled it.

Skinny cows. And this morning, I poured thick raw, fresh cream, locally produced, into my locally grown coffee. Tonight we’ll have taco salads, made with organic, locally grown lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, and seasonings with ground steak from the grass-fed skinny cows, all topped with cheese lovingly crafted from the Cheese Factory at Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge.

Thanks, Ella and Ian Anderson for a full and enriching experience. 

 

Part 1…Holy cow!…We had a great day!…Lots of photos!…

Grazing cows on the bumpy road in the cozy town of Hopkins.  Notice how skinny they are as opposed to grain-fed cows.

Tom is an excellent driver, although he tends to be impatient, continually attempting to pass the car or truck in front of us.  Guy thing.  Yesterday, we went on a road trip.

There’s a Laru Beya in Hopkins.  We’re yet to discover if there is a connection to our Laru Beya in Placencia.

With the reputation of the Hummingbird Highway being a “death trap” and after hearing about four tourists dying on the highway a few years ago, I was anxious about traveling on the road. 

Cute flowery house on the main road through the town of Hopkins.
 
 

 This style of house is common in Belize when close to the ocean.

The most frightening aspect is the lack of emergency services in this part of Belize. An auto accident victim could easily die, with what wouldn’t have been life-threatening injuries in the US or other countries, during the possible four to six-hour wait to get to evacuated to an emergency hospital. This scares me. Tom, on the other hand, didn’t give it a thought. Another guy thing.

 We stumbled across this restaurant and condo development at the end of the road in Hopkins

Our plan for the day was to travel to Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge near Belmopan, Belize (the capital city) to visit their gourmet cheese-making factory, perhaps spending an hour. Then we’d travel on to visit a waterfall, ruins, and a few cozy resort towns along the drive taking photos at random.

The laid back beach at the Hopkins Beachside Bistro Restaurant.

Our first stop was in the town of Hopkins about an hour’s drive from Placencia where we had an opportunity to snap a few photos.

The scene was breathtaking.
 We can’t miss a photo op!  We prefer scenery photos but family and friends insist on photos of us.  We comply from time to time.

On February 15th (see the post from February 16th for details of the party) we attended a cheese and wine tasting party at Mathieus Deli across the road from us. During the party, we met Ian Anderson, the owner of Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge and the cheese-making factory founded by him and his wife, Ella.  Ian invited us to visit the cheese factory and resort in the future. 

The breathtaking canopied drive to the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge Resort

 

 Entrance to the Cheese Factory at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.

After tasting and subsequently purchasing a wide array of the extraordinary gourmet cheese weekly at Mathieus Deli, we knew that a visit to the factory, worked by locals, exactly meets our criteria of learning about the work and culture of the local residents of Belize. 

Entrance to the resort.

The waterfall along the walkway toward the main building.

All proceeds from the sale of the cheeses are donated to fund the ‘youth at risk’ programs of the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation.  Ella and Ian Anderson’s commitment to this foundation and their ongoing dedication and hard work add a unique charm to what is according to our taste buds, the most delicious cheese we ever tasted. 

Clara Belle and Clara (yep, two Claras) were busy making cheese.
Purchasing their fresh raw milk products from a local Mennonite farm along with the organic ingredients and the utmost of sanitary hand processing attributes to the fine quality of their cheese.
Ian is an excellent educator taking considerable time with us
to explain the cheese making process.
Mozzarella making in the process!
í
 The platter of cheeses Ian set up for our tasting.
We could hardly wait to sink our teeth into the delicious cheese but Ian insisted we savor
the texture, aroma, and start with the smallest of bites. 

 

Although not a wine drinker due to my strict diet, I wanted to toast
Ian for offering us this delightful experience.

 

Tom and Ian both enjoyed their fine white wine with the exquisite cheese.
\
Rows and rows of cheese in the cooling room, many still in the aging process.

Roquefort cheese in the aging process.

More cheese in the aging process in the cooling room.  It was refreshing
to cool ourselves in the 52 degree room.

Argus, Ian’s female bull mastiff waited outside for Ian while he was in the cheese factory with us.  The photo is deceiving.  Argus weighs 180 pounds!

After our cheese tasting and cheese making education, Ian arranged a tour of his Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge with Larry, which gave us an opportunity to yet another of his employees, all locals, all of whom expressed enthusiasm and appreciation for employment at this fine establishment. 

After climbing numerous flights of steps to see a few of the jungle lodges high above the resort, Tom and I both sweating up a storm, panting like dogs, to relax with beverages in the bar, meeting both staff and resort guests. Lively conversation ensued with the delightful staff.

 The inviting pool beckoned us to jump in.  We didn’t.
 The entrance into the main dining area and bar.
 The river running through the 50,000-acre resort.

 

 The bar in the main dining room. Jason, one of the bartenders is from Placencia, now living near the resort.
The outdoor shower in one of the jungle lodges.  The water runs through a metal bucket with holes in the bottom.  Tom turned it on allowing me to get this photo of the water flowing.

 

 The screen room in a jungle lodge high above the complex.
Locally crafted wood carvings abound in the resort.
 The screened veranda in a jungle lodge with expansive treetop views.
Another living area in a jungle lodge embraced by the jungle.
Elegant indoor shower.

While at the bar we met a guest from the resort who’d just completed a horseback tour. Toward the end of the event, she ending up removing the horse’s saddle to embark upon a trek across the river that runs through the property while hanging on to the horse’s mane. She was grinning from ear to ear. The resort offers a multitude of unique adventures that meet the abilities of any age guest.

Beautifully appointed fixtures and amenities utilizing natural material.

Stop back tomorrow for Part 2 of our day trip to Cave’s Branch Jungle Lodge including our tour of Caves Branch Botanical Garden and soap making factory.