A magical cloud experience in the mountains of Atenas Costa Rica…

Moment by moment, the clouds grew thicker and thicker.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom was standing on the veranda as the clouds began to roll in.

Last evening around 5:30 pm, just about the time we were thinking about having dinner, we looked outside (unavoidable with all the glass walls in this fine villa), and we thrilled to see fast-moving clouds that we could almost touch from the veranda.

We’d experienced a similar phenomenon when were lived in Madeira, Portugal, in the spring of 2014, for which we’ve included the photo of Tom on the veranda with the link to that post and video. Yesterday, we were as excited to see this event as we were over three years ago….our heads in the clouds!

Tom on the veranda in Madeira Portugal during a similar cloud “white-out.”  For more photos and a video, please click here.

Since we’re partway up the mountains here in Costa Rica (698 meters, 2261 feet, above sea level) in much cooler weather than by the sea (an hour and a half drive), such attractive weather conditions seem to be more prevalent.

Standing on the veranda as the clouds quickly moved across our view, we felt as if we could reach out and touch them. They rolled across the veranda at one point, and we were able to walk through them.

We gasped when we felt the cool, moist air, unlike anything we’ve ever felt before. It was breathtaking. Oh, some might say, “No big deal.  It’s just a bunch of clouds.”

For us, it’s these same experiences that make our travels rich and filled with wonder, so much so that we quickly and easily found our link from our similar experiences over three years ago.

It was stunning to watch the views dissipate and the clouds thickened.

It’s not easy taking photos of clouds right in one’s face, but we did our best.  Had there been more warning, I’d have taken a video, but it came up and dissipated so quickly, I barely had time to load the camera to take these few shots.

Within 15 minutes, the views across the valley cleared, and once again, we could see our surroundings. As a result, today’s “Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica” and other photos result from this event.

When it cleared, we moseyed off to the kitchen to reheat our leftover pizza, cook the green beans and toss the salad. Unfortunately, the pizza wasn’t quite as good as it was in Nevada weeks ago since we couldn’t find the right type of Italian sausage here in Atenas.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes to cover the entire Alajuela Valley.

The only Italian-seasoned sausage we found here had no casing. That was weird. Since it required cooking before placing it on the pizza, it ended up tasting somewhat like hot dogs, which we don’t usually eat. Maybe next time, we’ll try it using the local Spanish-type sausages with casings.

Also, we couldn’t find parchment paper at either of the two markets and had no choice but to use tinfoil (they don’t have non-stick foil here) which we coated with olive oil to no avail. It still stuck to the tinfoil.

Once the pizza was done, we had to peel the foil off the bottom crust, often in tiny pieces. Maybe we shouldn’t have pizza again while we’re here. Or, perhaps we should start packing parchment paper, an item we often use in cooking low-carb items but have difficulty finding in many countries.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our dinner and a quiet evening watching a few favorite shows on the big screen TV in the comfy screening room. We’d signed up for Netflix last week and had been watching a few choice shows.

It wasn’t quite as thick as it had been in Madeira Portugal, but it was similar. We could still see the light at a distance on the far right.

Whenever we sign up for Netflix, we do so for short periods, watching everything that appeals to us over one or two months, after which we cancel it and sign for HBO or Showtime while we binge watch other favorites.

Right now, we’re waiting for season 7 of Game of Thrones to complete its season, at which point we’ll sign up for HBO and be able to binge-watch the entire final season of this fantastic series. We rarely watch any shows during the day to avoid starting a bad habit that could prevent us from paying attention to our surroundings. Once it’s dark, we’re content to “settle in” for the evening.

Today is another quiet day. Isabel, one of the sweetest and most competent cleaners on the planet, is here today, recovered from her case of “gripa,” a bad cold she had last week when she was only able to work for part of the day. Thank goodness neither of us caught it from her.  She’s busy cleaning now in her cheerful good-natured manner. What a treasure she is!

We’ll have the first of the two rental cars in only four days, one for five days and the second for the remainder of our stay. So we’re looking forward to being mobile again but not so much for the dentist appointment scheduled for Monday.

May your day be filled with natural wonders, whether it’s a bird alighting on your window sill, big droplets of rain on a cloudy day, or a pretty cloud formation wafting through the skies. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 17, 2016:

One year ago, while we were in Phuket, Thailand, it was only six weeks after I’d seriously injured my spine, which took five months to heal. We didn’t do much while there, so I continued to post photos from the Phuket Seashell Museum. I’m sure all of our readers have seen enough seashells, then and now, with only one more day of these appearing tomorrow. But, if you’d like to see more, click here.

Why do we book hotels along the way?…Final Market @ Franklin…

The Seed Vault’s heirloom seeds. (Non-GMO).

In a perfect world, we’d never have to bear the expense of staying overnight or longer in hotels throughout the world. But, unfortunately, in some cases, we have no alternative when there’s a one or two-day gap between cruises.

Pretty flowers outside the Palais Theatre, where the Market @ Franklin is held the last Sunday of each month.

While heading directly to a vacation/holiday home after a flight or cruise, it may not be necessary unless we’re facing a long drive from the pier or airport. In these cases, we decide if a one-night stay in a hotel may prevent us from undesirable stress in finding the property at night.

Local wood button maker display.

We easily recall the night we arrived on the island of Madeira in May 2014. (Please check this link for details for the ultra-long flight). At the time, we were too embarrassed to admit we couldn’t find the vacation home in Campanario until 3:30, two hours after we’d picked up the rental car.

Local artist display with proceeds sent to the Tibetan Refugee Support Program as shown in next photo.

The prior night we’d each only slept three or four hours, and by the time we were searching for the correct turnoff, I’d considered suggesting we pull over somewhere to sleep in the car until the sun came up.

More handmade goods with a portion of sales donated to charity.

But Tom’s determination to bring the situation to a satisfactory resolution made him forge ahead until we finally found the house.  We never made it to bed that night until 4:30 am, only sleeping a few hours. We were anxious to get up, unpack, check out our new house and surroundings and head out grocery shopping.

A local artist supports the following refugee organization.

It was this experience that taught us two things; 1). Stay in a hotel rather than risk becoming stressed; 2). Please don’t be embarrassed to report our foibles to our readers. 

Custom-made buttons are displayed on these fancy shoes.

That incident was almost three years ago, and since that experience, we’ve spent many nights in hotels when there was a risk of being stuck driving on dark and unfamiliar roads in the middle of the night. 

No doubt, this has added an expense we hadn’t anticipated early on in our budgeting. But, now, we’re diligent in including this expense when we deem it an often necessary element in getting from one point to another.

Handmade doll shoes.

We always try to focus on our motto, as shown at the top of our page, which reads, “Wafting Through our World Wide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity.” We never wanted or expected this life to be stressful, but reality prevails. Sometimes it is.

Our most serious attempt at eliminating stress, considering those aspects we have control, is on the days we’re boarding a cruise. Of course, it’s one thing to miss a flight. But, to miss a cruise embarkation is another matter altogether. Can you even imagine the stress of finding flights to get to the first port of call in another country to board at that location? 

Homemade chocolate treats.

We’ve heard of many scenarios when this occurred for various reasons, most often flight cancellations or delays. To avoid this risk, we seldom plan to take a cruise without staying at a nearby hotel the prior night.

Although we must mention that we’re taking that risk with our upcoming cruise from Hobart to Sydney in 29 days, we’re flying from Hobart, a 45-minute drive to the airport from the Huon Valley, to fly directly to Sydney on a less than 90-minute flight, taking a taxi to the pier from the airport.

Once outdoors, we investigated handmade items from additional vendors, including this woodworking display.

Based on the fact this flight is in the morning, and there are other flights from Hobart to Sydney that same day, we decided to risk it. A motivator was that the hotels in Sydney for that date were over AU 397, US $300 per night plus the cost of dinner. So it didn’t make sense for the 90-minute flight.

Upcoming on November 22, 2017, we had no choice but to book a hotel when we are flying from Costa Rica to Miami, Florida, after which we’ll have an hour drive (with traffic) to Fort Lauderdale for the next day’s cruise. 

Various crafts for fundraising.

In this particular case, based on the “free” one night we’d accumulated using our site, “Hotels.com,” located here on our page, it made a lot of sense to stay overnight in Fort Lauderdale. The next day will be the US’s Thanksgiving Day, when we’ll board the cruise for another 30 night back-to-back cruise which ends in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Whew! Another month-long cruise!

With our Hotel.com free membership, we receive one free night for every 10 hotel stays using the site. We have used several accumulated free nights (which value is determined by the average price of the past ten night’s stays). It’s worked well for us so far.

Wood handled tools for the “barbie.”

Of course, we haven’t yet booked the flight from Costa Rica to Miami but will do so over the next few months. The above mention hotel booking is complete. It’s important to mention, for our less experienced travelers, that flights generally can’t be booked more than 330 days before the desired travel date. 

Today, rainy with an intermittent cloud cover, we’ll stay put.  Tomorrow, after posting, we’re planning on visiting the town of Geeveston for an exciting popular annual event which we’ll be sharing the following day.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2016:

In the early evenings, baby alpacas got together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics. For more photos, please click here.

Winding down…packing day…Recap of Madeira in photos…Tomorrow, we leave for Paris…

We reveled in a full moon over the hills of Madeira or a clear night.

Yesterday, we defrosted the freezer and cleaned the refrigerator. Frost-free is a thing of our long-ago past. And, although owners don’t expect us to do major cleaning as we prepare to embark on our next location, we choose to leave the property as clean and tidy as possible.

Tom recalls our stay in Madeira as a memorable experience.
Always windy, but I loved every day in Madeira.

With most of our packing completed today, we’ll be set to go first thing tomorrow morning, departing for the airport at 7 am. With everything done in advance, we’ll only need to awake by 6 am, in time to shower and dress. Unfortunately, neither of us sleeps well the night before departure, more as a result of the necessity of rising earlier, than any anxiety about leaving.

A typical partial day road trip resulted in driving through dozens of tunnels.

Although we’ll only be in the air for only a total of four hours, our trip is an all-day affair with a 2 1/2 hour layover in Lisbon and a one hour time change. The flight arrives at Orly Airport in Paris at 5:15 pm. 

We always enjoyed it when the low lying clouds and fog rolled in.

Then, we’ll pick up our bags, wade through the usual long lines at immigration, and grab a cab to our hotel. We don’t expect to arrive at our hotel until 7:30 pm. 

Early on, we purchased this tuna from the musical fish truck, caught that morning.

If time allows during our long layover in Lisbon, we may decide to eat at the airport when the last time we were there, we had a decent meal. Getting the food out of the way will leave us time to wander about Paris for a few hours after we check-in and unpack, perhaps stopping for a light meal or snack later in the evening, if we so choose.

We arrived in Madeira in mid-May when the flowers were in full bloom. They were the most beautiful flowers we’ve seen anywhere.

We’ve both learned to temper our enthusiasm when heading to a new location until we actually arrive. Traveling to Paris was for more for my benefit than for Tom so I may be the only one of us tempering enthusiasm. But, we shall see. I have no doubt he’ll enjoy it as well.

The goats and two kids next door were a constant source of enjoyment. Although too far to get good photos, they were close enough to always respond with a hearty “baa” whenever we sent a “baa” their way. 

As soon as I upload today’s post, I’m heading upstairs to place all of my clothes in the Space Bags to be ready for Tom to suck out the air using the little vacuum. Then, I’ll pack the one remaining smaller suitcase with the medical supplies, toiletries, and cosmetic bag, top-off my large bag with odds and ends, and then I’m set.

We purchased fresh organic produce from the musical truck every week during our time in Madeira.

Hopefully, our goal to be free of at least one carry on will prove to be achieved. Tom insisted we keep my laptop bag until after we packed to ensure we didn’t need it. I think we’ll be OK without using it.

Beautiful non-traditional colors of vegetation.
We never ceased to enjoy the terraced gardens so typical on the island.

Our portable printer died and we tossed it. What a piece of junk after all. It was nothing but a hassle from the first time we used it. Getting rid of it and its supplies rid us of a few more pounds/kilos. We’ll figure out life without a printer. 

A surprising closeup of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar.
We were amazed by the green fuzzy buds on this colorful flower.

I groaned over the necessity of having to use a piece of paper when digital is the way to go. Certainly, a copy of anything on one’s smartphone should be all that anyone needs to show for any service or event. Since we left the US, we’ve found less and less of a need for the requisite piece of paper required for some venues and reservations. 

We were delighted when these orchids were growing on our patio.
We squealed when we drove under a waterfall in order to continue on the road.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our final post from Madeira until Friday when we post directly from Paris. Wow! I love the way that sounds!

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2013: 

There was no post on this date one year ago when the Internet was down for the day. Here is a photo from our trip to the walled city of Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.

In the walled city of Lucca, there were numerous interesting historic buildings, most remaining in excellent condition.

Final total costs for 77 days in Madeira…A year ago…the walled city of Lucca, Italy…Two more days until departure…

While on foot we spotted this waterfall.

Finally, we have the tally of our total expenses for the 77 days we’ve lived on the island of Madeira, Portugal. The grand total includes the following expenses:

  • Rent
  • Airfare from Marrakech, Morocco to Madeira, Portugal including excess baggage fees
  • Car rental, fuel
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants (including tax and tips)
  • Groceries including laundry soap, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries purchased at market
  • Housecleaning service and tips
  • Parking fees
  • Shipping fees (for the package we received)

The grand total:    $10,720.51, EU $7,978.77
Monthly average:  $  4,234.83, EU $3,151.78
Daily Average:      $     139.23, EU $   103.62

We walked through this short tunnel to reach the ocean at the other end as shown in these other photos.

With respect to the property owners, we don’t post the rental amount unless we’ve paid close to the asking price. Living in vacation rentals for these extended periods often enables us to negotiate a rent considerably lower than the price posted on the owner’s listing. If we were to post these prices, other future short term renters may expect these lower prices. 

Nothing is as mesmerizing as the sea.

If anyone is interested in the rental amount for the extended period in Madeira, please contact me directly at jessicablyman@gmail.com. For short term rentals, please refer to Gina’s listing at Homeaway by clicking here

Two small waterfalls flow from the rocks in a natural rock wall.

Not surprisingly, the cost of the rental car was almost as much as the rent. Undoubtedly, we could have easily saved quite a bit if we’d used a taxi three or four times a week. In this case, the freedom of coming and going at our leisure proved to be worthwhile.

Clouds rolling in.

We don’t always rent a car. At times, it makes more sense to use taxis or public transportation, especially when we’re walking distance to restaurants and markets. In Paris and London, public transportation will be outside the door of the hotel making getting around easy from what we can determine so far.

At times, the clouds appear as if they were smoke. At times, there is smoke wafting through the hills when residents are allowed to burn off their terraced gardens.

Food costs, including dining in restaurants, can be high depending on the country as was the case here in Madeira.

Our total food costs while in Madeira including dining out:
Grand total:          US $2,329.60, EU $1,733.81
Monthly Average:  US $   920.23, EU $   684.88
Daily Average:      US $     30.25, EU $     22.51

These giant cement forms are used in some areas to protect the beaches.

We’re pleased with the totals especially since early on we determined that dining out was too expensive to do regularly. As a result, knowing we’d be dining out for months to come, we opted to eat in after spending US $65 to US $70, EU $49 to EU $52 for each of the three times we dined out, although the food was excellent.

The preformed cement blocks aren’t attractive but serve a useful purpose.

When one is constantly traveling and with my restrictive diet, dining out is not as huge a treat as one may expect. Although it will necessary to dine out until after mid-October and surely we’ll experience amazing food, we always find our home-cooked meals to be the most rewarding. There’s something appealing about spending 25% of the cost of dining out in order to dine in. 

In Ribeira Brava, we walked through a tunnel to an area where local residents anchor their personal watercraft.

Today, we’ll finish up the laundry, pack the smaller bags and I’ll do my manicure and pedicure. With excellent leftover pizza to pop into the oven, cooking will be at a minimum today, and tomorrow when all I have to do is prepare is a salad and bake the already put together uncooked pizza, ready for the oven.

In Ribeira Brava, we wander into a needlepoint and craft shop finding a new zippered bag as a carry-on for our prescriptions and vitamins when the handle on the old bag broke.

The more often we move, the quicker and more organized we become as departure time approaches. Also, the lightened load is a huge factor in making the task relatively easy.

Back tomorrow with updates as we wind down our final photos. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2913:

A year ago today on a very rainy day, we visited the walled city of Lucca. Once inside, we dashed through the city in the rain to see as much as we could, stopping to look at this clock, The Pretorio Palace Clock. For many more photos of the walled city, please click here.

Check out my small pile of clothes to pack!…I’ve come a long way…Coming tomorrow, total costs for 77 days in Madeira…Three days and counting…

This is my measly pile of clothing, keeping in mind this includes not only all my everyday wear but also two Scottevest jackets, three remaining bathing suits, two sets of Bugsaway clothing including three hats, and three small handbags.

Yesterday, I decided to get a handle on how much I have to pack. We’d received a package with new clothing for me while in Madeira with two pairs of jeans, three tee shirts, and three skirts to add to my worn and dwindling wardrobe.

Over these past months, I diligently made a pile of clothes including pajamas and swimwear that I decided had to go, to not only replace the weight of the new items but, also reduce the overall weight of my luggage. 

Another view of my tiny pile of clothing which also includes three belts, three long cotton tee shirt dresses that I wear to bed when it’s cool, three pairs of jeans, one pair of capris, one pair of shorts, and a dozen tee shirts. My few items of underwear are at the bottom of this pile.

A few weeks ago I handed off the accumulated pile to Gina and her daughter, hoping they’d find a few things they’d like, donating the remainder. Getting those items out of sight really helped.  No longer would I riffle through them, reconsidering one item or another. Now that they’re gone, I don’t give them a thought. How quickly we forget “things” once we decide to let them go. 

I learned this lesson well when we sold all of our “treasured belongings” before leaving Minnesota almost two years ago. I cried when I saw my favorite household goods being walked down the road during the estate sale, a happy purchaser enthralled with their “good deal.” 

This is it folks, all the shoes I own, a paltry six pairs. I don’t recall ever having so few shoes since I was a kid when I got one new pair of Buster Browns once a year. Bring back memories?

Once we boarded our first of eight cruises on January 3, 2013, I’ve never given any of those items a thought. It was just “stuff.” I felt free. I felt liberated from the constraints and responsibilities that go with owning stuff. 

It was only a few days ago that Tom and I spoke of how we can’t imagine ever owning a sofa or a dining room table and chairs. One never knows. But, at this point, it’s far removed from our reality.

We spotted this circle in the ocean a few days ago, curious as to its origin.

Yesterday, when I made these piles of clothes and shoes as shown in these photos which include every wearable item in my repertoire except a small bag of costume jewelry, I smiled, kind of proud of myself. 

In my old life, at times I’d feel a sense of accomplishment when I’d revel in the things we had acquired from years of searching for the perfect addition to our home and lives, content with what we “had.” Now, I feel a sense of accomplishment for the things I don’t have. What a turn around! See, we can “teach an old dog new tricks!”

We wondered if that circle was made by the freighter or by some other phenomenon. Why would a freighter go around in a circle?

My pile of clothing is small enough that I no longer need to use the Space Bags with the little vacuum sucking out the air. We’ve may decide to use the bags  anyway for security, making it less likely someone would break the seal and steal something. Or, we may not.

Tom has yet to organize his stuff so we’ll see how that goes. I believe at this point he has more stuff than I do.  We shall see on Wednesday when we pack.

Late-blooming Bird of Paradise, aptly named.

It’s hard for me to believe that I own only six pairs of shoes; one pair of water shoes, two pairs of leather Keds, two pairs of sandals, and one pair of boots I refuse to ever part with, after having them custom-fitted back in Minnesota when they were too wide for my calves. 

Besides, we’ll need our boots for Iceland and the Outback in Australia along with our BugsAway clothing (which is also shown in my pile of stuff) when the mosquitoes and flies are fierce in Australia, New Zealand and on the islands in the South Pacific. 

We never got enough of the clouds rolling in over the hills.  Each time it occurred we watched from the veranda in awe of the beauty.

Actually, other than a few desert climates we’ve visited in the US such as Nevada and Arizona, flying and biting insects are everywhere we’ve traveled. While in Africa I decided that I wasn’t letting my sensitivity to being bit have a bearing on where we’d travel in the future. 

As soon as we post this, we’re off for our last short road trip when we’ll take a few photos, stop at the supermarket and say goodbye to the “downtown” we’ve enjoyed over these past months, the seaside village of Ribeira Brava.

Our neighbors were harvesting some of the treasures from their garden.

Yesterday, as mentioned, I began the process of going back to the beginning of our first post and editing the many errors that remained, some my typos and others due to internet connectivity issues. I managed to get through the first 11 posts. It will take several months to complete this daunting task when either we won’t have time or we’ll be cruising when Internet rates are too high for such a time consuming project.

We have a fun post already prepared for Thursday, our travel day, which we’ll publish shortly before we leave the house to go to the airport. Doing so, we won’t miss a day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2013:

Summer was in full bloom in Tuscany. On this date a year ago, we booked our tickets for Kenya, a little disgruntled that we couldn’t choose our seats online for the very long flight. For details, please click here.

Annual celebration in Campanario…Videos and photos…Daylight fireworks…Four days until departure….

We took these two videos around 1:00 pm on Saturday as the cloud rolled in and the sound of the fireworks reverberated through the hills.
It was fun to see the results of the shooting fireworks in the hills of Campanario as the town prepared to celebrate the religious holiday, Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento.

Driving in Campanario at different times during this past week, we’ve noticed areas where street lamps were decorated and colorful banners draped across the roads near the church. 

Busy preparations surrounded the church in Campanario as workers rushed to get the decorations in place for Saturday’s religious festivities.

The closer we drove to the local Catholic church, it was obvious, some type of celebration was on the horizon. I had little luck finding out information about the celebration online, finally sending Gina an email for an answer.

She responded in her most endearing broken English that last night was the annual “Festa do Santíssimo Sagramento,” (feast of the blessed bleeding) also known as “Festa do Senhor Jesus” (feast of the Lord Jesus).  

Workers decorated archways over the road consisting of evergreen branches.

With the lack of parking in the area around the church, it was evident that the only way to partake in the festivities would be to have someone drop us off or walk the very long distance from our house to the church with trips through a long tunnel each way, not an ideal spot for walking. 

Instead, we opted to watch from our veranda as much as we’d be able to hear and see. We found this website that lists all the religious celebrations in Madeira, of which there are many throughout the year.

These roads leading to the church were decorated with lights and garland.

As we wind down our time in Madeira, we find ourselves comfortable staying in except for an occasional trip to the supermarket or the little grocer. As of today, we’ll have consumed the last of the meat in the freezer leaving us with a choice of dining out or having one last favorite meal over the next three nights.

With no opportunity to cook for the upcoming 77 days of travel, we’ve decided to make our favorite dinner, the usual gluten and starch-free, low carb pizza one last time, cooking it fresh over the next three nights as opposed to cooking it all at once and reheating it. 

Local citizens mulling around the area chatting and smoking amid the workers preparing for the big event.

With a quick trip to the supermarket tomorrow for a few remaining ingredients to be added to the several ingredients we already have on hand, we’ll be set for meals until we leave early Thursday morning.

Had we gone to the feast, there would have been few, if any, items I could have had when starch, flour, and sugar are commonly used in many popular Portuguese dishes. 

As we drove away from the church we spotted these flowers.

In these past three years, I haven’t made one exception in my diet, not a single bite. I’m not about to start faltering now when it’s my good health that has made our travels possible. 

Today, a warm sunny day will draw me outdoors for another walk up the steep hill. With a slight touch of melancholy as I huff and puff my way up the hill, I’ll accept that we’ll soon say goodbye to this beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal as we make our way to our next adventure.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2013:

Lisa and Lucca, owners of the 300-year-old stone house in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, stapled cloth netting to cover a few of the windows to reduce the number of flies entering the house. It was hot and we couldn’t keep the windows shut for another day. The wind blew the fabric from the three windows they’d covered and only a few days later, we had biting flies in the house again. I resorted to wearing my BugsAway long pants and long sleeve shirt to keep from getting bit when I couldn’t find any insect repellent at any of the stores. For details from that date, please click here.

Five days until departure…Remembering “staycations”…No dreaded Wednesdays…A year ago, thoughtful slices…

Nothing like a view from the veranda at dusk.

Last night, as we have every night, we took a few minutes to embrace our surroundings while on the veranda.  Soon, this view will be lost to us replaced by other views I’m sure we’ll find appealing. 

A summer rose.

It’s ironic how we become attached to our surroundings for these relatively short periods of two to three months. Even Marrakech, Morocco, although not our favorite place to live, had its charm and appeal. I think of it often remembering every minute detail, especially the household staff.

Low lying clouds are a common occurrence on the island of Madeira.

We’re both grateful that we have these posts to aid us in retaining the memory of places we’ve lived and the experiences we’ve had. For me, writing them imprints them into my memory in a way no other experiences have been remembered in my past.

A local man we encountered on the road explained that these are fishing nets. He spoke no English, but we were able to decipher a little of what he was saying.

Add the constant awareness of photo-taking opportunities and my memory acuity astounds me. Oddly, we can almost recount day after day from as far back as to our first foray into living outside the US in Belize so long ago. 

An unusual plant we spotted on a drive.

When in doubt of an occurrence that may have escaped us, we need only search the archives to have the story retold in words and photos bringing every thought and feeling to the forefront to become more thoroughly locked in place than ever.

I wonder how I ever traveled in my old life without documenting my experiences. I only recall snippets of days and nights with memories of a few poorly taken photos now tucked away in a plastic tote at son Richard’s home in Las Vegas, along with a zillion other photos of a life lived long ago.

Lush greenery, blue skies, and the sea create a colorful scene.

Tom and I took a few vacations in our old lives, one to Aruba with friends, a few business-related trips, a weekend here and there. So content were we with our lives at the lake home that we had no sense of wanderlust, no desire to pack, to fly, to feel cramped in a hotel room. 

The clouds rolling in over an older neighborhood.

Most of our vacations were now referred to as “staycations” where people stay home for a week or two leaving work behind, ultimately ending up working at home on maintenance-related tasks interspersed with entertaining friends and family. 

In reality, “staycations” were often exhausting, although rewarding and fun and we didn’t mind going back to work when it was over. Not the same dread one feels when “going away” on a vacation with the thought of soon having to return home.

Another reason we didn’t like to travel was directly related to the dread of the vacation soon being over which usually occurred in a big way by about the Wednesday before departure.

Rooftops, power lines, and terraced hills are a common sight.

Years ago, I recall telling Tom, long before we decided to travel the world, that I wonder what it would be like to go somewhere never having the dread of leaving. And, I wondered, what would that “look” like? Would one go to an island resort and stay forever? It was an impossible scenario warranting little further thought.

And now, here we are, doing exactly what I’d imagined was impossible…never dreading a Wednesday, knowing that we never had to go home to unpack, never having to sort through the piles of mail from the overstuffed mailbox, never having to plow snow piled high in the driveway and never having spoiled food in the refrigerator. 

Banana leaves along the road.

No, we don’t jump for joy each day of our lives on this seeming perpetual vacation. In a very short time, we came to realize that these are the “days of our lives,” at times quiet and uneventful, at times filled with tasks and responsibility.

At other times, it’s filled with awe and wonder as to how in the world did we ever manage to “get here” and get past all of the painful tasks of unloading our lives of stuff and saying goodbye to those we love, who never believed we’d actually do it, nor expect we’d stay “out there” as long as we have. 

With few homes having clothes dryers, railings on verandas become clotheslines.

The passion to continue on, continues on, surprising even us at times. Last night as we stood on the veranda, in awe of the view, arms wrapped around one another, we knew that wherever we may be, there will always be a view.

And, although we’ll always remember this particular view, a new one will soon appear in its place, and once again, dear readers, we’ll be home.

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

Santina, our lovely cleaning person in Boveglio, had brought us a plate of these three delicious looking pie pieces. Tom, with his picky taste buds, didn’t find them to be as delicious as they looked. I know I would have loved them if I’d been able to eat them. The remainder of our post on that day was describing how we purchase refills for our few prescriptions from a reputable A+ rated by Better Business Bureau, an online pharmacy. Check out the post here for more details.

More new road trip photos…Worried about flying?…A year ago…A procession in the neighborhood…Remedy for keeping flies away…

Map of the close proximity of Madeira, Portugal (“A” on map) to Algeria, where yet another plane was found this morning in Mali. According to news reports causes of the crash are unknown at this point.

During the day when we’re home and busy online, we may have the TV on to international news. We’re able to receive a few US news stations. 

The shoreline is always breathtaking.

In a way, life was less worrisome when we had no TV during most of our travels, as opposed to here in Madeira where there are several English speaking channels. Other than the news and financial information, we don’t watch TV instead, watching movies and shows on my laptop that we’ve downloaded from Graboid.com, a monthly subscription service.

Homes in what appears to be a newer area.
Neither of us actually “watch” the news. Instead, we’re busy with other tasks, reading or busying ourselves with laundry or preparing meals with the sound of the news in the background.
Exiting yet another tunnel.

Perhaps, ignorance is bliss after all.  Watching the varying opinions of world affairs is frightening and frustrating. What’s happening in the world? Oh, yes,  I could get into a lengthy recitation about our opinions of world affairs but, that dear reader is not the intent of our postings.  

There’s been little rain and yet the hillside is lush and green.

We’re all about low-stress living, finding joy in our surroundings coupled with a profound sense of freedom as we wander about the world at our leisure.

In a busy beach area, cars were parked inside this frequently used tunnel.

Last night, I received a worried email from my dear sister Julie about a news story she’d read about a female tourist being fatally shot in the past few days in Mombasa, Kenya. 

Another cloudy day on the road.

Ten months ago we were on the island of Mombasa, taking a ferry across the waterway to the mainland which was packed like sardines with a possible 1000 people on board. We spent 90 days in Diani Beach, Kenya where there have been multiple fatal incidences since we left last December 1st.

On a few hour outing, we’d go through as many as 20 tunnels.

Then, I read US news about a killing at a hospital in Pennsylvania and two deaths from tornados in Virginia and we remind ourselves that nowhere on earth is truly safe. “Drive by” incidences occurred frequently only 30 minutes from where we lived in Minnesota. 

Bathers on a cloudy day in a protected area of which there are many on the island.

With all the recent planes disappearing from the sky including yesterday’s flight to Algeria and planes being shot down, we can’t help but think for a moment of our upcoming flight from Madeira to Lisbon to Paris six days from today. 

A “massage salon” at the beach.

There’s no reason to think that our upcoming flight is particularly high risk. It’s not. However, after days and days of horrifying news, its human nature to let such fearful thoughts waft through our minds a mere six days away from departure. 

An old building along a craggy rock wall.

I don’t like flying in any case. The actual flying time to Paris is actually shorter than the layover in Lisbon but, that provides little comfort. The length of a flight appears to have little bearing on its risks. 

We’ve been amazed by the quality and excellent condition of the roads in Madeira better than we’ve seen anywhere.

Do I allow my brain into a frenzy of fear? I choose not to. I gave it some thought tinged with a touch of angst deciding to let it go. Worry serves no purpose. Tom, of course, doesn’t join the worry train with me for a moment.

As we entered a seaside village this tree reminded us of the flat top trees in the Masai Mara when we were on safari.

Today, I’m fussing over two horsefly bites from a few days ago. The one on my thumb which is swollen to twice its size, kept me awake half the night last night. The other on my upper arm is slightly less annoying. 

Ruins of what appeared to be a factory or commercial building.

In the realm of things, my bites are a trivial matter. Then again, whatever transpires in the world, most of us are caught up in the trivialities of our daily lives, at times to deflect our attention to the deeper more serious matters, over which we have no control. Human nature. It’s rampant.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2013:

While in Tuscany, we’d read online that hanging a plastic bag with pennies inside would keep flies away.  With no screens, no AC, and the heat of summer it was one long summer when this “home remedy” worked to a degree but not entirely. Luckily, it’s been cool here in Madeira and we’ve kept the windows shot most of the time. Somehow, the flies still make their way indoors looking for me for what must be a tasty bite. For detail from the story that day with a video and photos of a procession through the neighborhood, please click here.

New road trip photos…Departure in 7 days…A year ago…Anticipating nine months in Africa…

Purple flowers, blue sea.  Lovely.

Since purchasing the HP laptop in South Africa I’ve had trouble with the keyboard. The letter “i” continues to stick although I’ve learned to press hard in order for it to work. 

There’s a substantial Catholic population on the island. It’s not unusual to spot a shrine of the Virgin Mary in public areas such as this.

A new problem started a few days ago. When I write a word with the letter “P” in it, the “P” moves to another position in the word such as this:  “hpoto” instead of “photo.” Now I have to be conscientious of every word that I type that has a “P” in it. Go figure. 

A small fishing boat anchored to a buoy.

We’ll both need new laptops when we arrive in Boston in September. At that point, my laptop will only be seven months old. It’s frustrating. 

View from a road at a high elevation to the village below showing the boat in the above photo.

I know that many think that a tablet will work for us but unless there’s a new model with a large enough monitor to satisfy us both, we’ll end up buying two more laptops. Tom’s two-year-old laptop has a broken monitor he’s been dealing with for months. There goes another US $2000, EU $1485.26.

These old stone tunnels are common throughout Madeira.

This morning I had an awful time logging on when I ended up having to use the on-screen keyboard to enter my password. I’m totally convinced that a quality laptop suitable for travel is yet to be designed. I’ve seen a few “rugged” styles but they are very heavy. Oxymoron.

Many areas neighborhoods consist of large homes, often owned by foreigners and ex-pats.

Today, when Judite arrives for the final time, we’re heading out for our last grocery shopping trip needing only a few items to get us through the next six dinners. Today, we didn’t buy produce from the truck when we heard it drive past when all we need is lettuce, cabbage, and carrots which we’ll buy at the supermarket.

As we drove through a village, this bell tower warranted a stop.

In the past several days, I’ve done some clearing and cleaning of items in my smaller of the two bags, which contains medical supplies, a few camera supplies, toiletries, and cosmetic items, lightening the load by a few pounds. Tom is down to bare bones unable to lighten his large bag. The second smaller bag holds our heavy boots and all of our shoes. 

There are a few sandy beaches on the island. Most are rocky such as this.

I’m considering getting rid of my large handbag which I only use on travel days. The bag itself is heavy. If I’m able to fit the vital items to the carry on duffel bag, we’d be down to the following carry on: one duffel, one laptop bag, and the cloth bag of prescriptions (in case our luggage is lost). We shall see if I can pull this off once we start packing.

Tom got a kick out of this sign for an Irish Sports Bar with a photo of a camel on the sign. We couldn’t quite grasp the significance of the camel and Irish.  There aren’t any camels in Ireland, are there?

Today, we’re sharing photos from another road trip. Driving around this magical island always offers us new and interesting scenery that we’re always anxious to share with our readers.

This village was decorated for the upcoming banana festival which occurred over this past weekend.

We both have a tendency to temper our enthusiasm as the time to leave nears, knowing that we have a full travel day ahead of us. We’ll be especially relieved when this upcoming travel day is over with all of the political unrest in the world.

Have a wonderful day!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, July 24, 2013:

A borrowed photo of Diani Beach, Kenya as we wrote about our fears and apprehension of living in Africa for nine months which at that point one year ago today, was only six weeks away. Now, looking back some of our fears were warranted such as cobras on the veranda, horrifying insects, and living with only an outdoor living room. In any case, worrying certainly provided little insight into that which we experienced. For details of that date, please click here.

How much will we spend dining out in Paris and London… A year ago…Link to photos with step by step instructions for making a gluten free, low carb bread free sandwich…

Midday clouds create a pretty sky.

With only eight days remaining in Madeira we realized that we won’t be cooking another meal until October 16th when we arrive in Maui, Hawaii for our six week stay. 

From July 31st, our departure date until arriving in Maui when we’ll make our way to a grocery store, it will be no less than 77 days without cooking a single meal. This is even longer than the 75 days we spent in Morocco when we either dined out or dined at home with lovely Madame Zahra making our meals.

Clouds rolling in at the end of the day.

First, we’ll be arriving in Honolulu on October 5th by way of cruise ship when we’ll spend 11 nights in Waikiki in a vacation rental fully equipped with cooking facilities.  However, as we mentioned earlier, we’ve decided to mostly dine out while in Waikiki rather than purchase an the required inventory of basic cooking items in order to prepare our meals.

As a result, currently, we’re making some of our favorite meals, knowing full well, it will be a long time until we can do so again.  Each time we move to a new location, its at this point before departure that we take stock of all the  remaining food stuffs, making our meals utilizing everything we have on hand.

Some flowers continue to bloom over the summer months.

Here’s our menu for the next eight dinners: all low carb, gluten, starch and sugar free:
7/23  Taco salad (no shell), side of roasted vegetables
7/24  Pork chops with sautéed mushrooms, side of roasted vegetables, steamed green beans, small side of tuna salad on a bed of lettuce, green salad
7/25  Same as above in order to finish off pork chops in freezer
7/26  Filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms and onions, steamed green beans, side of roasted vegetables, side of coleslaw
7/27  Italian meatballs in sugar free pasta sauce, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, side of green beans (only veggie Tom will eat), side of roasted vegetables, side salad
7/28 Portuguese sausage omelet (using remaining fresh eggs) with onions, mushrooms and leftover cheeses, side salad using all leftover vegetables
7/29  Dine out
7/30  Dine out
7/31  Fly from Madeira to Paris, leaving in the morning

These low clouds have wafted in over the last few days.

By following this menu, we’ll use all of the remaining foods except for some basic inventory items (olive oil, butter, seasonings, etc.) which we always leave behind for the next occupants.

While in Madeira, we’ve dined out only a total of five times, mainly due to the cost.  As we booked more and more vacation rentals far into the future, all requiring deposits (some as much as 50% of the rent) and, with our upcoming “Family Vacation” in Hawaii in December and, with the necessity of dining out over the upcoming 77 days, we decided to tighten our belts.

This is one of the kids that have grown over the summer.  They’re fairly far into the yard next door which with our camera, we can’t get a clearer shot.  The markings on her head are amazing with the white ears and black markings on her face.  When I yell out “baah” to her while I’m standing at the railing, she looks up at me and “baahs” back.  It’s not quite as fun as talking to a warthog but, is fun none the less.

As a result of our frugality, we’ll have saved over US $1200, EU $891, on the food budget for our 75 days in Madeira.  This savings will offset some of the high cost of dining out in Paris for the 16 days we’ll be living in a hotel. We budgeted US $1600, EU $1188 for those meals a relatively small amount for Paris. 

Tom is always spotting interesting cloud formations.  In this case at dusk, he spotted a seahorse in these clouds.  Do you see it?

With the savings we’ll have incurred in Madeira which we’ll split between Paris and London (budgeted US $1500, EU $1114, for 15 days) our combined total dining budget total for Paris and London is US $3100, EU $2302. 

By splitting the above budgetary savings in Madeira of US $1200, EU $891 between the two cities over 31 days we’re left with a total of US $138.71, EU $103 per day. 

Ominous looking cloud at dusk from our veranda.

Although this amount won’t get us into the finest of restaurants every night, if we choose casual dining every other night, spending under US $50, EU $37 we’ll be left with US $227.42, EU $169 to spend on the alternate night’s dinner in nicer restaurants.

Gladiolas growing in a pot on our veranda.

Since I don’t drink alcohol and Tom doesn’t drink wine, usually ordering only a few cocktails and, we don’t order desserts, we’ll have enough to otherwise spend on a menu.  Of course, there are restaurants in Paris where a couple can easily spend US $800, EU $594 for dinner in a fine dining restaurant.  That won’t be us. 

A dog looking down at us as we stood on the road.

Traveling the world as we do requires careful and diligent budgeting and planning.  Both of us have learned to avoid a “laissez faire” attitude when researching our options as to what appeals to us.  We have learned to utilize a strong sense of self control which is necessary for us to continue on, enjoying our lives without worrying about finances.

There are plenty of other aspects of travel one can worry about, if they so choose.

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2013:

One year ago to the date we shared the making of our bread-free gluten free, low carb sandwich including step-by-step instructions with photos.  For the remaining details, please click here.