Day #176 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The adventures in Kenya continue…Dining in a cave…

 

Dinner in a cave at Diani Beach, Kenya, seven years ago today. I thought Tom looked great in this photo, but I reminded myself of Morticia wearing all black or, on the day in Abu Dhabi, UAE, when we entered the famed White Mosque, requiring that I wore the black abaya in the 100+ degree weather.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Standing at the top of the stairway leading down to the natural cave, we were able to look down at the bar below. Every effort was made to maintain the original integrity of this environment when it became a restaurant over 100 years ago, renovated in the 1980s.

As we recall the photos and story from seven years ago today, we are reminded of how we may have taken our “freedom” for granted. To be able to dine out, be outdoors, see wildlife, flowers, plants, and trees and people were always a delight, but, perhaps, will be all the more meaningful going forward.

The lounge in the bar where we had our drinks while waiting for our table. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:30 pm with most diners not appearing until 8:30 or later. I guess us old folks from the US are early diners. We’ve found that dinner is typically served at 8:00, often 9:00 pm or later as we’ve traveled the world.

As mentioned in a prior post, we’re attempting to determine a lesson or purpose that will serve us in years to come from these many months in lockdown. Will a greater sense of freedom be the answer to this question? For our regular readers, it’s been evident all these years that we’ve been grateful and appreciative of our surroundings, never taking anything for granted. Should a sense of freedom become the focal point for our past and future appreciation and gratitude?

Another view of the seating areas in the bar, depicting somewhat of a Moroccan theme, which was ahead for us at this point when we’d booked a holiday home in Marrakesh, Morocco, a mere six months later.

Today, as we see how much enjoyment we derived from yet another evening’s foray in sampling Kenya’s dining various establishments in Diani Beach, my heart did a flutter thinking how much fun that would be now. The variety of food options, the ambiance, and the possibility of a cocktail or glass of wine, sends my taste buds and brain into a frenzy of hopefulness and excitement.

View of the walls in the bar. All lighting in the walls and at the table as a result of candles, creating a warm atmosphere, romantic to say the least.

This special experience in Kenya on this date seven years ago, dining in a cave was memorable, so much so we returned a second time. The ambiance was over-the-top as shown in today’s photos, the food was fresh and delicious and the service was exemplary.

Diners began to filter in around 8:00 pm, filling all tables by the time we were ready to leave around 9:45 pm. We’d been warned not to rush the servers in Africa. Many countries’ servers are accustomed to taking their time in delivering the bill. Most often, as is the case in Kenya and many other countries, tips are only allowed to be paid in cash, not added to the credit card slip.  That required us to keep adequate cash on hand.

The ambiance of any venue is definitely a  factor in enjoying a meal. Whether it be in a pleasant holiday home, comfortably situated at a dining room or kitchen table, dining out in a lively atmosphere of a popular everyday dining establishment or a cozy, romantic spot such as illustrated in today’s photos, it all adds to the enjoyment of the meal and of course, the companionship.

Compliments of the chef, we were both served this tangy GF marinated salad. Tom took one bite turning his serving over to me, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In this case, in Diani Beach, we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. The unique decor, lighting, and service added another element to our meals. We’d expected it to be more expensive and were pleasantly surprised by the reasonable bill, which, with the cost of the driver (who waited for us in the parking lot), the food, tax, tips, and beverages, the total was only US $68, INR 4999, for the entire evening. I didn’t order alcohol, only a Perrier, my drink of choice at that time.

This was the view to my right as we sat at a cozy, not too small table against one of the walls. We always prefer a wall, table as opposed to one positioned in the center of the room.

As mentioned in the past, I didn’t drink any alcohol for about 20 years. I didn’t have a “drinking” problem, but just decided to stop for health reasons, thinking it was “better for me.” Ultimately, it seemed to make no difference at all in my health whether I drank wine or not.

My dinner, Cheesy Chicken atop a pesto sauce was well seasoned and pleasing to the palate, although the serving size was small. Rather than a chicken breast, this serving was a small single thigh which with the vegetables proved to be sufficient.

After open-heart surgery, the cardiologist and surgeon suggested that drinking red wine in moderation was good for the heart. I’m still not certain if that’s been proven inconclusive, but for now, I’ll go with that theory. Good grief, one has to enjoy life, too! Then again, there’s certainly no wine in my life at this point in time, and won’t be until we leave here someday.

Tom’s dinner of two small Filet Mignon, each with a different sauce.

When looking online, it appears that Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant is still open, even during this time of COVID-19. If we ever return to Diani Beach, Kenya, which we may, we’ll visit this fine restaurant once again, to renew the experiences we had in 2013.

The stairway going up and out of Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant. Gee, we’ve gone up and down a number of stone stairs in those past months!

For now, we have what we have; safety, relative comfort, air-con, a comfortable bed, housekeeping, shows to stream in the evenings, good WiFi, and… All of you beside us, encouraging us with your positive feedback each and every day.

May your day bring you comfort and peace of mind amid all this madness.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ____________________________________________

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

The driveway from our house in St. Teath, Cornwall, England, to the narrow road. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

Day #175 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Amazing memories in frustrating times…

The lodge at Sanctuary Olonana where we’ll experience our first safari in October 2013.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Recalling the day we booked our first safari while sitting on the veranda/living room outdoors at the holiday home in Kenya, is as easy as if it was yesterday. Our enthusiasm coupled with a tinge of fear made our hearts race. One never knew what to expect going on safari. And watching YouTube videos wouldn’t be helpful at all when so many consist of dangers encountered while on safari.

Our hope was to see The Great Migration but once we arrived in Tanzania, the bulk of it had moved on, although we did see the tail end.

Now, seven years later, we’ve been on more safaris than we can count in several African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Morocco, and now, in India at three different national parks. We’re not trying to break any safari expedition’s count or race. We simply revel in the vast experiences we’ve had over the years.

Our first safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in  Kenya still remains our favorite of all the other experiences. A few times, we’ve been asked how many times we’ve been on safari and counting all the self-drives we’d done in Kruger National Park, most likely, we’re well over 100 safaris.

We went on two game drives each day, one in the morning from 6:30 am until lunchtime and another in the early evening from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Often, meals will be served in the bush, as we and the other guests feast our eyes on the surrounding wildlife.

The bouncing, the dust flying in our faces, the jolts, and fast turns make a safari as unusual adventure requiring a but of stamina and endurance. After each several hour-long safaris in the jeep-type vehicles with open sides, we felt as if we’d been exercising for hours.

Oddly, with my newer Fitbit, when we were on safari over 12 times in India, my readings showed I’d walked almost 30,000 steps each day from the mere rough ride in the vehicle. This made us laugh when we’d spent the majority of the day sitting in the vehicle.

Most of these photos were from the Sanctuary Olonana website. .

Getting in and out of a safari jeep can be challenging for those with mobility issues and unsteadiness. While we were on safari in India, it was only 11 months after my open-heart surgery. My legs weren’t stable after two surgeries only nine months earlier, and my breastbone felt as if it hadn’t entirely healed.

Even my arms were still weak and guarded. Riding in the vehicle was challenging when holding on tight which was imperative in many situations as our guide worked his/her way around rough roads, potholes, and uneven terrain. Somehow, the prospect of spotting tigers in the wild was sufficiently exciting to keep me from thinking of any potential discomfort.

In the event of rain or if we were able to be inside air-conditioned comfort. The lodge at the camp provides indoor activities, a bar, and a restaurant although as it turned out we were on safari for the bulk of the day. Our living quarters were lavish private tents on the banks of the Mara River, overlooking families of hippos splashing and snorting in the water. We could hear the hippo sounds starting around 3:00 am each morning.

Now after walking 5 miles a day (8 km) for so many months, I know I’d do a whole lot better. I continue to work my arms while walking to build up strength and resilience and staying mindful of good posture and stance.

As for the Maasai Mara, named after the Maasai people of Kenya, a tribe known for their colorful red garb and unusual diet consisting primarily of cow’s blood, it is also known for the Mara River which millions of wild animals, mainly wildebeest cross each year on their annual migration.

This is a typical interior of one of the permanent tents, outfitted with full bathrooms, electricity, free WiFi, and mosquito nets.  We always share one bed when there’s two, using the other for our “stuff.”  We brought our laptops, two cameras, binoculars, and other digital equipment, writing here each day with many photos.

Ah, my heart aches for such an experience now. The dust in my face, the jarring ride, and the challenge of getting in and out of the jeep are insignificant compared to the joy of being witness to this world of wonder once again.

As we continue over the next several weeks, sharing photos from that stunning expedition, we’ll be reminded once again of this exceptional adventure, unlike anything we’d ever done in our old lives. And now, who knows what the future has in store for us in months or years to come? We hold our breath in anticipation of leaving India to head to other lands with other joys, many of which are almost impossible to describe.

We were fortunate to see many Mr. or Ms. Rhino while in the Maasai Mara.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2019:

The Towne Centre Theatre in Wakebridge, Cornwall where we watched the Downton Abbey movie the day it was released in the UK. For more details, please click here.