Back to Billy’s Bar and Grill today for a family get together…Getting prescriptions filled…

Cactus plant in Campanario, Madeira, in 2014.

As mentioned a few days ago, when I couldn’t get my two blood pressure medications filled at CVS Clinic since there were no records or tests for medical care for me in Minnesota’s health records system. I left empty-handed, wondering what to do. As mentioned in that post, I knew if I went to another cardiologist or primary care doctor, they’d put me through a litany of tests, all of which I’ll be having in August when we go to the Cleveland Clinic.

Sure, my Medicare plan and supplement would cover the cost of those tests, but there was no way I wanted Medicare to be billed for tests that would be redundant in a few months. Also, I had a cardiac ultrasound at a cardiologist’s office in Las Vegas on March 27, when I needed to confirm the report from the cardiologist in Ecuador. The results were the same.

I contacted ProgressiveRX, sending them a not-so-clear copy I had of the prescriptions Doc Theo had written for me 13 months ago before we left South Africa. Once ProgressiveRX, located in Singapore, received the copy, they explained it wasn’t clear enough for them to read. Could I get a clearer copy?

This morning after breakfast, I asked the hotel general manager, Wade, whom we’ve come to know quite well based on the number of times we’ve stayed here, if he could produce a clearer copy on his printer. He did a perfect job. A short time later, I received a clearer copy from Wade in my email, which was perfect.

Immediately, I forwarded it to Vimala at ProgressiveRX, receiving a confirmation only moments later that the new clearer copy worked perfectly for their needs. My meds will go out today, and I will receive them in about three weeks. After scouring through the “pill bag,” I stumbled across enough of the two meds to last until I received the new batch. I had put them in a small ziplock bag as an emergency supply. Good thing. Now, I can relax knowing I’ll have enough meds to get me to the CC in 3½ months since ProgressiveRX is sending me 184 pills, plenty for my current needs. Whew! What a relief!

This morning, we headed downstairs (we’re on the 6th floor) for breakfast. There was nothing there I could eat except the hard-boiled eggs. I’ve tried to find the ingredients in those processed scrambled eggs they serve, but the results were all over the place. Thus, I’ve decided not to eat them, knowing full well there would be lots of preservatives.

After breakfast, I went to the fitness center to do the workout on the bike. A few days ago, I started at five minutes; today, I could do 12 minutes for two miles. I will continue at this pace until I get to a full 30 minutes; then, I will increase the difficulty level while maintaining the same period of time.

I check my pulse while biking to avoid getting too high. However, based on the Afib drug I am on, it prevents my heart rate from going too high, but I still need to monitor it throughout the process. Gosh, I am hoping to maintain my current state of being to last the next 3½ months without getting too many new symptoms requiring emergency medical care.

Friday is Happy Hour for Tom’s family, starting at 3:30 at Billy’s Bar & Grill in Anoka, a 45-minute drive from here. We never know who will be there, but most often, it’s four of Tom’s sisters, BIL Eugene, and occasionally some nieces and nephews. Last week, Tom’s daughter Tammy, partner Tracy, and grandson Vincent joined us, which was great. We’ll see who will join today.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 17, 2014:

We love the house in Madeira, Portugal, with granite countertops, a microwave, a dishwasher, a great gas stove and oven, and views of the mountains and the ocean when washing dishes. Once the haze lifts, we’ll include more photos of views inside the house. For more photos, please click here.

There’s a price to pay for living outside the US…Disappointing day…

The view from the veranda at the holiday home we rented in Madeira ten years ago.

Yesterday, I was enthused about the physical therapy appointment at Wellspring Wellness Center. With exercise physiologists on staff, I felt confident they could help me improve my mobility while awaiting my future appointments at the end of August and subsequent open heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

How little did I know that I’d be turned away? Based on the fact they had no record of me having treatment and tests in Minnesota, after consulting with their medical director, they all agreed it was too risky to treat me. They feared my heart condition would make such treatment too high risk and, let’s face it, the potential of liability if something went wrong during such a course of treatment.

I walked out of the facility disheartened and frustrated. They suggested I see a cardiologist (I’ve already seen three in the past year) for the type of treatment that would be suitable for me. With countless tests upcoming in August, I wasn’t about to go through the uncomfortable and time-consuming process of going through a litany of tests here in Minnesota, especially when Cleveland Clinic does its own tests.

The risk of a lawsuit is driving influence in medical care in the US. This is not the case in most other countries where medical malpractice lawsuits aren’t nearly as common as in the US.

But this was only the beginning of the day’s frustrations. I’d made an appointment at CVS Minute Clinic, which I called and assured me I could get prescriptions for my high blood pressure meds, which I am running out of. Remember, I got 13 months of prescriptions from Doc Theo in South Africa before we left at the end of April last year. Now they are running out and I have to figure out how to get them. They won’t accept written prescriptions from South Africa.

When CVS stated they’d write prescriptions for tourists running out of medication, I quickly made the appointment for yesterday at 5:00 pm, figuring at least this would be out of the way.

Alas, when we drove to the CVS for my appointment, and after waiting several minutes for my appointment upon prompt arrival, after filling out forms and signing privacy documents, I discovered, once again, that they couldn’t help me. They couldn’t find any record of any doctor prescribing any medications for me, nor was there a record of any tests or medical appointments to substantiate the necessity of my taking such medicines.

The PA agreed to give me a one-month emergency prescription as a tourist, but one month didn’t do me any good. I am not going to CC until the end of August, a full 3½ months from now.

I walked out empty-handed, frustrated and wondering what I would do. My only option, so I thought, was to book an appointment with a cardiologist or, in the worst case, a primary care physician and see if they’d write the prescriptions without having a litany of tests. I could run into the same scenario, and if I refused to take tests, I could walk out empty-handed again.

Deciding I’d think about this for a day or two since I had enough pills left to get me through two weeks. When I awoke in the middle of the night, I checked my old account at ProgressiveRX and found an old prescription in their records that could supply me with the meds I need. I had looked earlier, but I looked under the US names of the meds when, in fact, they are named differently in India, where most of the world’s drugs are produced anyway. They have everything I need.

Today, after posting, I will order the meds and have them in three weeks at the latest. After digging through my pill bag, I found the same unopened pills that could get me through until the shipment arrives at our mailing service, which in turn will mail them to me. What a relief!

This explains why living outside the US for the past almost 12 years has left us with no medical records to rely upon for future medical care in the US. We are left without medical records when we have had no US health insurance all these years, only carrying health insurance suitable for people outside the US. It’s another fact of life for world travelers. Any medical care we’ve needed all these years, we’ve sought outside the US, mostly paying out of pocket.

Thus, I’ll be able to get the meds I need, and yesterday, after all of this, I started working out, once again, in the upscale fitness center in this hotel. I will carefully monitor my heart rate and perform ECGs on my Fitbit each time I work out, being as careful as possible. Despite my current condition, all three cardiologists I visited explained that exercising is good for the heart muscle.

In less than an hour, my friend Chere is stopping by for a visit. We’ll hang out in the lobby and catch up.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 15, 2014:

No photos were posted on this date due to a travel day.

Day #130 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Final photos in Madeira in 2014…

We were thrilled to see a full moon over the hills of Madeira or a clear night six years ago today.

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Today’s photos are from the post from July 31, 2014, while in Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.
Tom recalls our months in Madeira as a memorable experience.

It was July 31, 2014. It was our last day in Madeira, Portugal, after a colorful and fascinating 2½ months living in a beautiful, well-equipped contemporary home overlooking the ocean and lush green terraces, prolific on the hilly island.

Always windy, but I loved every day in Madeira.

Although little English was spoken in the tiny village of Campanario, somehow, we managed to meet many locals, engaging in choppy conversations and dining in fabulous restaurants where seafood was always the most popular item on the menu.

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

The charm of the locals and how we were welcomed will remain at the forefront of our memories of this stunning island. The weather wasn’t always ideal, with fog, rain, clouds, and high winds common during the spring and summer months.

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

The sunny days were appreciated and comfortable, rarely requiring air-con at night, and we left the doors and windows wide open during daylight hours. High on a hill overlooking the sea, on occasion, we sat outdoors on the massive veranda in the comfy chaise lounges.

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

Every few days, either both of us or I alone climbed the breathlessness-inducing steep hills. Talk about getting exercise on a short walk! At the time, I had no idea I had cardiovascular disease, severe enough that I could have had a fatal heart attack when I was huffing and puffing to climb the steep hills.

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. 

It was only 4½ years later I was diagnosed with 100% blockage in three of four coronary arteries, including the most dangerous LAD, described as follows:
“When the main artery down the front of the heart (LAD) is blocked or has a critical blockage, right at the beginning of the vessel, it is known as the Widow Maker. (The medical term for this is a proximal LAD lesion.).”

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

Of course, I am grateful every day that my life was extended after triple coronary bypass surgery in South Africa 17 months ago. However, I can’t help but feel that precious time is being wasted locked in a hotel room as the months fly by. Oh, I can’t think about that!

Beautiful non-traditional colors of vegetation.

Back to the final day in Madeira in 2014, when the next day we were flying to Paris for a blissful 15-night stay, followed by another 15-night remain in London in the lovely South Kensington area. 

We never ceased to enjoy the terraced gardens so typical on the island.

Over this next month, we’ll re-share many photos from that great and memorable month, including a wide array of experiences and photos we’ll always treasure.

An incredible close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar.

And today? What’s happening now? We ordered a package via FedEx from our mailing service in the US with items we’ve purchased since we left the US in January. Our new second passports are in that box, and several much-needed supplies, including my contact lenses and toiletries we can’t get in India, along with other odds and ends. 

We were amazed by the fuzzy green buds on this colorful flower.

Tom always follows the package via the tracking number on FedEx’s site. The package is at a standstill in New Delhi, awaiting customs inspection and subsequent fees. 

We were delighted when these orchids were growing on our patio.

The cost to ship the box from Nevada to Mumbai was INR 29909, US $400 when shipped 2nd-day air. Most likely, we won’t receive the package for two to three more weeks.

We squealed when we drove under a waterfall to continue on the road.

Otherwise, all is status quo. The past three days, I’ve reached my walking goal of 10,000 steps a day. I may alternate between 8000 and 10000 steps, day by day. I am unwilling to do this in one fell swoop since it is more beneficial to walk once an hour. Tom is exercising great, although he does multiple flights of stairs and corridor walks once in the morning.

Have a good day! Stay safe. Stay hopeful.

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

Belted Galloway cattle all possess this unique pattern of a white belt around their midsection. For more photos, please click here.

Day #121 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Recalling the morphology of the banana tree…A fascinating process..

This was our first photo taken over two months ago on our first walk up the steep hill. We were fascinated by this peculiar-looking pod which is called the inflorescence.

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Today’s photos are from July 22, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

After more research, we discovered the following statement on India’s visa site as follows:

Vide MHA O.M. No. 25022/24/2020-F.V/F.I(Pt.) dated 29.06.2020. In respect of foreign nationals whose Regular Visa or e-Visa or stay stipulation period is expiring post 30.06.2020, such Regular Visa or e-Visa or stay stipulation period shall be deemed to be valid until 30 more days from the date of resumption of normal international flight operations on ‘GRATIS’ basis without levy of overstay penalty.”

The “inflorescence” continued to grow, changing before our eyes.
We took a photo of this statement on my phone. We will present it at the airport if any issues arise when we attempt to leave the country within 30 days after normal international flight operations in India. In other words, we need to hightail it out of India within that period.
That will give us enough time to decide which will be the best country to visit to allow us to enter and stay for 90-days or more. With COVID-19, we prefer to fly to as few airports as possible during the journey, wherever that may be.
“The inflorescence is a complex structure that includes the flowers that will develop into fruits.” The hanging pink and yellowish protrusions are the flowers. Mother Nature is amazing!
For now, we sit back and wait for the 30-day ticker to begin when India opens its airports to normal international operations. We are OK with this prospect, feeling confident we’ll find a country to accept us somewhere in the world.

We’re back to our former status quo of watching news reports, the stats in India, and other countries, all the while wondering when the international airport will resume operations.

As days turned into weeks, the inflorescence changed dramatically.

Not much new is transpiring right now. My sister Susan, in hospice care in Las Vegas, Nevada, is in stable condition at the moment. I’ve been able to have a few good conversations with her when she seemed clearer and more lucid. I usually call her after 10:00 pm here when it’s morning in Nevada, which seems better for her than in the evening.

The 12½ hour time difference makes it tricky to reach family members at suitable times of the day or night. When I call at night, I miss my “sleepiness” signal at around 10:30 pm and end up having an awful time falling asleep after an emotional and stimulating conversation. 

One morning I noticed that the stalk, the rachis, had dropped partially out of view behind withering leaves.

After talking to Julie last night, I never fell asleep until after 1:00 am. Recently, I’ve started the equivalent of counting sheep, counting backward from 100. I may begin to over two or three times when I get down to 80, but this seems to calm down my over-active brain.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2014 while we were living on the island of Madeira in 2014. I should mention, I keep jumping back and forth to different countries and periods, based on the quality of photos from “this date” so many years ago. 

After a few weeks of rain, when we didn’t walk the hills, this small bunch of bananas appeared as nourished from the remainder of the plant and its fantastical elements. It’s easy to revel in how complex and exciting Life is all around us.

While in Madeira on this date, we’d shared photos taken over two months on the “morphology” of the banana plant as we walked each day in the neighborhood on the steep hills in Campanario to observe a particular plant. It was fascinating to watch the evolution of the plant to end a big beautiful bunch of bananas finally.

Here’s a link with a scientific description of the morphology of the banana plant, which we found interesting. In our world travels, we search for any forms of life that appeal to our senses, whether animal, vegetation, scenery, or culture.

I hope you enjoy these repeated photos from 2014 and perhaps think about it next time you peel and eat a banana.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 22, 2019:

A sailing regatta near Roundstone at dusk in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Day #114 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…In a darkened room, hiding away…No sunshine here…

Bananas were growing everywhere on the island of Madeira. Many farmed for resale, while others were available for personal use.

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Today’s photos are from July 15, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more details.

We both are advocates of the value of getting Vitamin D from direct sunlight for 20 minutes a day. With all outdoor areas closed to guests in the hotel, there is nowhere we can go to get some sun directly on our skin.

Besides, it’s the monsoon season in India now, and it rains almost every day and night, often in torrents. As hard as this is to admit, based on our year’s long advocacy of the value of direct sunlight for setting bio-rhythms to produce better sleep and general health benefits, we now sit in a darkened room (with lamps on), 24 hours a day.

Some flowers are continuing to bloom through the summer season as is the case in the Alstroemeria.

It happened during the first month. One sunny day, we closed the drapes on the entire glass wall due to the glare on our laptops and kept the room cool. The view isn’t pleasant and we had no interest in seeing outdoors, especially when our chairs back up to the windows.

Over the next few cloudy days, we opened the drapes but again found the glare annoying and felt no benefit from keeping the drapes open. Finally, over a week, we gradually kept the drapes closed entirely. 

And now, over 100 days later, we spend each day in the darkened room with lamps on, while providing somewhat of a cozy feeling that we’ve both embraced. Now, if the cleaner leaves the drapes open after cleaning, we immediately close them in order for the room to return to its familiar ambiance.

What were these red things growing on a tree in our yard?  

The fact is that it may be more beneficial with the drapes open right now as we continue in lockdown month after month. However, right now, our general comfort seems to be of the utmost importance to us.

We walk daily and Tom adds in numerous flights of stairs to his walks in the corridors. I’m up to no less than three miles, almost five km, per day at a good pace, although I break it up into several segments to avoid sitting for any length of time. Tom does his exercises while our room is being cleaned.

Are we hiding away in a darkened room during these trying times? Is it impacting our moods? We aren’t hiding away but feel right now that avoiding the glare and the less-than-desirable view has a more positive impact on our ability to stay positive, contrary to what “they” may say.

These berries were growing on a palm-type tree in the garden.

Each has to find ways to console and comfort ourselves during these challenging times while easing the stress of confinement. Our dear friends Kathy and Don, who are currently living in Oahu, Hawaii (when not at their home in Marloth Park, to which they aren’t allowed to travel at this point), can walk outdoors and get together with friends at outdoor restaurants while maintaining social distancing.

Enjoying a glass of wine or a drink with friends (or even with each other) would be such a treat along with the opportunity to walk outdoors in the sunshine. However, it’s not as if we didn’t appreciate it in times past. Our level of appreciation in times to come will surely be over-the-top.

We hope you are safely able to be outdoors in bright sunlight and perhaps enjoy snippets of time with friends and family at safe distances.

Be well.

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

With great reviews on TripAdvisor, it’s no wonder many visitors stopped by the unique eatery, The Misunderstood Heron in Connemara, Ireland with its stunning scenery. We didn’t order any food when all of it included wheat and high carbs. For more photos, please click here.

Sure, we’re living in the moment, but reveling in the past for entertainment during the lockdown…

While on a walk in the neighborhood, while in Sumbersari, Bali, in 2016, we spotted this friendly neighbor (she spoke no English) making bowls as shown that are used for offerings at the Hindu temples.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. Today’s photos are from June 8, 2016, while living in Sumbersari, Bali. See the link here for more photos.

It’s terrific for us, now more than ever, to review our past posts to easily be reminded of the fantastic experiences we’ve had in the past seven years, eight months.

Perhaps at some point in the distant future, we’ll look back at this period in lockdown, recalling how we managed to get through it, still laughing, while still having some good times amid the madness.

Each time we walked by her home, we’d find her working a few blocks from the villa.

As we review our old posts, we easily laugh over the peculiar situations, feel a new sense of awe over the incredible experiences and smile from ear to ear over the wildlife and scenery we’ve been blessed to see in the process.

If we had to stop traveling by no fault of our own, we’d still feel we’ve had an expansive view of the world during this extended period of travel. And yet, both of us long to continue to those wished-for experiences we’ve envisioned on the horizon.

This is a temple in the neighborhood where locals congregate for prayer and meditation. 

We realize that some of the experiences we’ve imagined may be curtailed due to changes in travel due to Covid-19 and my ongoing cardiovascular situation. These facts will always be a consideration when we doubt if either situation will ever change in its entirety.

However, we feel confident to be able to adapt future travels to consider these scenarios. For now, our goals are simple… Get out of India to a place where we can cook our meals, live in a more spacious environment, be able to look out a window or door to pleasing scenery, and have the opportunity to be outdoors to enjoy our surroundings.

Low tide from the second story of the villa.

With all this walking I’ve been doing since the lockdown, the thought of being able to walk in the fresh air, breathing in the scents of nature, and seeing plants, trees, and hopefully, wildlife, is utterly exciting.

Of course, if we were in Marloth Park right now, with lions on the loose in the park, caution would be imperative when walking. But, the excitement of the possibility of spotting the female lion and her cubs along with a wandering male would make the sacrifice well worth it.

Abandoned old barns and buildings were tucked away behind vegetation.

The concept of visiting with friends in South Africa brings a massive smile to our faces. A glass of wine or cocktail, the great companionship of our friends, a tasty dinner cooked on the braai along the sights and sounds of the bush makes my heart flutter.

It’s not as if we didn’t appreciate it while we were there (or anywhere for that matter). We cherished every moment, every interaction with friends and nature, along with the innate magic of this remarkable place.

Most Hindu homes have an elaborate family temple on site.

There’s news floating around the internet that South Africa may open its borders as early as September instead of February 2021. This would be fantastic. Knowing this, if confirmed, would make the next three months easier to bear, especially once we also know Mumbai will open its borders to outgoing international flights.

All of this is still up in the air. For now, we’re holding our own, checking numerous sites with updates on borders opening in countries throughout the world along with the status on Covid-19 and which locations would be safe for us to visit down the road. Right now, we have plenty of that! Time will tell.

We enjoyed walks in the neighborhood, although early mornings were best before it became too hot.

Stay safe and hopeful!

Photo from one year ago today, June 8, 2019:

Rainbow view from our window in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Stop whining about wine!…The taste, the socialization, the pleasant warmth….

By the time we returned from our visit to Funchal, Madeira, in four hours, this was the view from the veranda of our holiday home in Campanario. It wasn’t quite as beautiful as the usual ocean view, but exciting nonetheless.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
Today’s photos are from June 7, 2014, while living in Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

While we were staying at the SunNSand Hotel before it closed and kicked us out, on March 21st, we purchased enough beer to last for a week, never thinking we wouldn’t be able to buy more down the road.

On the way back to our holiday home, we stopped at the local grocer for a few items. While I shopped, Tom purchased a few muffins at this bakery next door.

It had been nine years since I’d drank a beer when implementing a low-carb lifestyle in 2011. Beer is made with hops, a byproduct of wheat, which I don’t consume in any fashion. Under these unusual circumstances in India, I decided to bend the rules and drink beer. It tasted excellent.

But, when we arrived at this hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai Airport, on March 24th, the day the lockdown in India began, we were told we’d have to drink the beer in our hotel room, not outside on the veranda since they weren’t allowed to offer any form of alcohol to their guests.

There were puffs of fog on the road, as shown in the left lane.

A few days later, when we ran out of the beer, we decided when and if we could purchase alcohol again, we wouldn’t bother. Neither of us cares to have a drink in our room. 

We’ve never ordered beverages in our hotel room in any of the hotels in the past years of world travel. If we feel like a beverage, we’d either go to the hotel bar before dinner or order a drink at dinner in a restaurant. Most often, for me, it would be a glass of red wine. For Tom, he’d order a Cognac with Sprite Zero on ice.

At points along the drive, the fog was only visible at a distance. The 80 on the speed sign is in kilometers per hour, equivalent to 50 miles per hour.

While on cruises, we’d rarely order a cocktail during the day unless we were attending a special event hosted by the cruise line. At times, a perk included in the cruise fare will consist of the drink package when Tom may order a frothy drink during the day. Since I don’t consume sugar, I avoid those drinks entirely and get too sleepy if I drink wine during the day.

With our priority status on cruises, we’re entitled to complimentary cocktails for 2 to 3½ hours in the early evening, depending on the ship’s priority club’s policies. On more expensive cruises, complimentary cocktails are offered during meals only, and on other cruise ships, free drinks may be available at any time.

A terraced farm on a hill.

But, here and now, we’re alcohol-free, although liquor stores (called “wine shops” in India) are open for delivery. In other words, at this time, we could order wine, beer, or alcohol to be delivered to us at the hotel.

Over the weeks, we’ve lost interest in ordering any beverages because, as mentioned above, we don’t care to drink alcohol in a hotel room.

Having lived away from the ocean in Minnesota, we rarely saw fog and low-lying clouds such as this.

This doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy a wine, beer, or cocktail after this is all over. But, after what may prove to be many months since we’ve had any alcohol, I imagine we’ll discover we’ll easily become intoxicated with only one such beverage. That first glass of red wine will surely knock me for a loop, for Tom, not so much.

I won’t be drinking beer going into the future when, most likely, the wine will be available when we get settled in our following location. Hopefully, there will be a veranda or outside area to add to the ritual. If not, we doubt we’ll drink since the ambiance is all a part of the ritual. for us

It looked like smoke, but it was fog. I took most of these photos from the freeway through the car’s windshield.

If the hotel bar opens while we’re still here, we won’t be making use of it. The ongoing risks of Covid-19 will keep us away from all public gathering places, any more than necessary which mainly, for us, will be at the airport when we’re finally able to fly away.

I drool a little when I see a glass of wine when streaming British shows, which often includes many scenes with tea and wine drinking. But, I remind myself that for about 20 years, I never touched a drop when I’d lost a taste for it in the ’90s.  

While we were in Funchal, Madeira, the dense fog rolled in.

It was only after we started cruising and attained priority status that I finally had red wine and somehow, again, acquired a taste for it. Now, it’s genuinely a ritualistic treat. 

With the hotel providing us with about 5 liters of bottled water each day, consuming plain or making tea, coffee, and Crystal Light Iced Tea, we have all the beverages we need. We drink coffee and green tea (for me) throughout the day with the provided little packets of decaf, regular, and powdered cream,  products we’ve only used while in lockdown, preferring real cream in “normal” times. 

Statue in the city of Funchal.

But, these aren’t “normal” times, and until they are, our consumption of beverages will remain as they are now, free of alcohol, fresh coffee beans, and natural cream.

Stay safe and enjoy your beverages, whatever they may be, during times of Covid-19.            

Photo from one year ago today, June 7, 2019:

Lisa took this selfie of all five at the bar/restaurant in Carna, Tigh Mheaic. At the bar, Lisa, me, Tom, Barry and their friend Chuck. The boys drank Guinness, and Lisa and I enjoyed part of a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. after drinks, we moved to a comfy booth and enjoyed lively chatter and dinner. For more photos, please click here.

Air India opening up international flights but see the caveats here…Why we’re excluded…We can handle this…

While in Campanaria, Madeira, Portugal, we heard the music coming from the fish guy’s truck and raced up the hill to his trucks. He held up a tuna for us to inspect. It was smaller than some of the others but, this size was perfect. It weighed 7.7 kg, 17 pounds, and the cost was INR 2569, US $34. He cut them into portion-sized pieces, wrapping each piece individually.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.
Today’s photos are from June 6, 2014, while living in Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

Many of our concerned readers (thanks for your interest and support) have been sending us messages about international flights opening up via Air India or other countries. It all sounds well and good.

But, here are the countries to which they are flying per this news story:

“Air India will operate around 300 flights to Europe, Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK, and Africa between June 10 and July 1 during phase 3 of Vande Bharat Mission.”

Next, they weighed our tuna. It was slightly under 8 kilograms, approximately 17 pounds.

First off, in most of Europe, all of Canada, all of Australia, and most of Africa (including South Africa), the borders are closed to US citizens, regardless of the fact we’ve been in India since January 31, 2020. 

Now, as India’s number of cases escalate, the fact that our passports indicate we’ve been here during the worst of the pandemic, there is an additional whammy against us entering many countries.

With the number of cases in Europe continually increasing, we have no interest in going to Europe at this time. In 2020, we spent three months in Ireland and two months in the UK and had no interest in returning at this point with their ongoing increases in the number of cases.

First, he removed the head and tail using a huge knife.

But, all of the above is a moot point when we read this news today at this news story:

“The national carrier (Air India) posted at 8.20 PM on Friday on Twitter: “Bookings for select destinations in the USA, Canada, UK & Europe, etc., under Phase3 of #MissionVandeBharat opened at 5 pm today. Around 60 million hits were received till 7 pm on our website & 1700 seats were sold through the website alone in 2 hrs. Bookings continue & tickets are being issued.”

Only 1700 seats were booked for the above locations, and they received 60 million hits. Their website crashed. Most of these flights were designated for Indian citizens and others returning to their places of residence, not for “tourists” like us trying to leave India to go to another country to continue our travels.

The flights involving Africa for repatriation purposes are as follows from this site:

“Phase 3 of this repatriation drive covers around 17 African countries — Air India will operate flights from Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Seychelles, and South Africa and charter services for Djibouti, Morocco, Sudan, Morocco, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.”

All of the above country’s borders are closed to US citizens. All of these flights are for repatriation. This does not include us unless we’re interested in returning to the US for repatriation. As mentioned, we are not. We’d rather wait it out here for many more months to come than return to the US, with no US health insurance, no home, and the high cost of living.

He reached into the cavity and started removing the entrails.
If we were to return to the US and rent a home, we’d have to buy a car, outfit the property, sign up for US Medicare Part B and supplement, and give up on our dream to continue our lifestyle of world travel. 
We couldn’t afford to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in the US while continuing to travel the world. After all, as we’ve mentioned, we are not wealthy, nor is our retirement income sufficient to support both ways of life at any given time. Sure, we could go on a trip or two each year, but that is not what we want.
No, we’re not like everyone else in this regard. We understand and respect how the majority of the senior population find comfort and pleasure in their retirement, living in a retirement community (or not), and filling their days with what they enjoy the most. It’s just not us.
He was highly skilled, most likely as a result of years of experience.  Plus, he had all of his fingers.
So, after 7¾ years of world travel, if we have to spend 8 or 9 months in lockdown while we emotionally and financially continue to handle it, be it. No, it wasn’t easy living in other countries, with over 40C, 104F temperatures without air-con (except at night). It’s a lot easier here in this hotel in India. We can handle this.
If we survived my dreadful experience of having emergency open-heart surgery in a small hospital in a small town in South Africa with numerous complications, we could handle this.
Even if we wanted to take advantage of one of these 1700 available seats on Air India, how would we compete with the 60 million hits on Air India’s website, all clamoring for these relatively few seats? 
This was our remaining tuna after we gave Judite, our cleaner, and Gina, our property manager, each a good-sized bag, some of which we’ll cook over the next few nights and the remainder, which we sealed in Ziploc bags and froze for future meals.
Once international flights open up in India for some of the areas we’d consider, who then have open borders to US citizens, we’ll wait a few weeks for the “rush” to settle down and then book our preferred locations as they become available. 
I check this ticker for the number of cases, the new number of cases, and new deaths each day. We realize it may not be 100% accurate, based on reporting procedures in various countries. But it’s easy to see why we aren’t interested in visiting most of the countries mentioned above when the risks are so high and why we are interested, if possible, in waiting it out to go to South Africa (#24 on this list) or certain other African countries or islands in the Indian Ocean, while we wait.
Yes, it’s possible that at some point, India could require us to leave with the only option available to return to the US. If that were the case, we’d go for a short period, stay in a holiday home or hotel, and then we’d fly away, continuing our journey. The less time we spent flying in crowded airplanes, the better.
We can handle this.

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2019:

Cows in the garden. As we drove down the shared driveway between ours and the owner’s house, we noticed we had cattle on both sides. The owner allows a local farmer to let the cattle graze in her grassy fields. For more photos, please click here.

Five years ago today…Tunnels…Thanks for positive response!!…

In a busy beach area in Madeira, Portugal,, cars were parked inside this frequently used tunnel.  See this link for more.
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland 

“The ancestral language of Irish people is Irish Gaelic. However, the
2011 census found that 82,600 people in Ireland speak Irish outside of school
(where it is an obligatory subject). The census also reported that 119,526
speak Polish meaning Irish is now the third most spoken language in Ireland
after English and Polish.”


We have a long way to go before we start packing to leave Ireland and this time, I don’t plan to start until two days prior to leaving, giving us ample time to weigh our bags and pay for them online. The baggage fees for this upcoming flight are as much as the airfare. That’s how “they” get you!

This time it appears it will be easier to pack than it was three months ago when we left Marloth Park.  We had accumulated so much peripheral “stuff” during our 15 months in South Africa whereby, here, we’ve managed to keep it to a minimum.

A “massage salon” at the beach.
Yesterday, I literally forced myself to work on three months of accumulated receipts.  What a relief I felt when this looming task was completed.  Now, I’ll only need to log the few upcoming trips to the market, any fish we purchase from John and one trip to the pharmacy for products we’ll use on the cruise.

Tom suggested we wait and purchase toiletries once we arrive in Amsterdam but we’ve heard prices are outrageous in the city.  Also, based on allowed baggage, we’re within the weight ranges and won’t pay extra for hair products, saline solution, and toothpaste which we’ll place in our large suitcases. 
Exiting yet another tunnel.
Purchasing such items on a cruise is three times the cost for the small sizes so running out of any items is a waste of money.  

We’d hoped our cleaning person, Ann was coming to clean the house today but it appears she’s still under the weather.  Of course, we wish her well but don’t look forward to cleaning the house, changing the sheets, vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the kitchen and baths.  

If I was feeling stronger this wouldn’t be an issue.  I try not to complain to Tom and do everything I can to help.  But, he’ll do the bulk of the cleaning while I do the easy stuff.
There’s been little rain and yet the hillside is lush and green.
Yesterday and today, many of our readers wrote to encourage me not to be so concerned over not having new photos to post right now.  This means a lot to us and takes off the pressure of getting out when I don’t feel up to it.  Thanks to each and every one of you!

Today’s photos are from the enjoyable 2½ months we spent on the exquisite and unique Portuguese island of Madeira.  We stayed in the small village of Campanario, where literally no English was spoken.  Somehow, we managed and even learned a few words of the Portuguese language.
On a few hour outing in Madeira, Portugal, we’d go through as many as a 20 tunnels.
We loved the contemporary house in the hills overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  There, too, like John in Connemara, there was plenty of fresh-caught fish sold by in a truck.  The Madeira fish guy had a truck with loud music blaring from a speaker on the rooftop, specifically known as the “fish guy’s song.”

When we were around and we heard that song, we ran outside hiking up the steep hill to buy one of his fresh-caught yellowfin tuna.  Nice memories were created there, as they’ve been here in Ireland as well.

Speaking of fresh fish, tonight I’ll have hake, one of my favorite fresh fish while Tom has the remainder of his bone-in pork roast.  Luckily, John comes to the door and knocks when he arrives and we don’t have to climb steep hills to get to him.

That’s it for today, folks.  I continue to walk and work hard to get more mobility and stability but sadly, it’s taking more time than I’d expected

Be healthy!
Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2018:
Classic scene of three vultures on a limb.  We were thrilled to get this shot from quite a distance.  From this site:  Vultures are, however, great ecologists, having a high sense of personal hygiene and are a manifestation of the adage of patience as a virtue. They clean the veld of carrion, thereby minimizing the impact of animal disease, and they bathe regularly in rivers after gorging themselves at a kill.”  For more photos, please click here.

A day in the life…Easy, breezy, as pleasant as it can be…

We couldn’t believe we spotted this croc from so far away, lounging on a sandbar on the rover.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebra nursing in our yard.

Life in this house, “Orange…More Than Just a Colour,” is relatively easy. There are fewer insects, bats, snakes, and rodents than we encountered in the Hornbill house four years ago, perhaps because this house doesn’t have a thatched roof or that the veranda and entrance into the house are several feet above ground level.

Another photo of this croc was taken from a long distance while sunning on the river’s edge.

Most houses in Marloth Park have thatched roofs which look great, but we wonder if they may contribute to more insects and critters in the home since the grass can attract all kinds of animals.

This croc on the bank of the Crocodile River appeared quite long.

The mozzies aren’t bad either, although we continue to use repellent day and night, reapplying every four to six hours while using various outdoor repellents outdoors at night such as coils, candles, and scented oils. 

As winter approaches, we’ll see fewer and fewer mosquitoes, although we’ll continue to use repellent throughout the year. Today, when we head to Komatipoort to have our teeth cleaned, we’ll visit the pharmacy to purchase Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride). These anti-malarial pills don’t need a prescription here. Dr. Theo suggested we take these when visiting other African countries. 

This baby bushbuck is growing up fast and is now able to eat pellets.

The Wi-Fi works perfectly and only doesn’t function during a power outage which seems to occur once or twice a month. In most cases, power is restored within 12 hours.

We don’t have any cable or TV service since we told Louise and Danie not to pay for it when the contract ran out. We don’t watch TV anymore. Instead, we spend all of our time outdoors on the veranda, watching nature unfold before our eyes…much more fun than watching TV. We can easily check online news, which we both do daily. We need to know what’s going on in the world, which impacts our future travels.

We hadn’t seen this warthog mom with five babies in about six weeks. Warthogs have only four teats, so this litter of five must have been a challenge which may explain why one of them is a “runt.”

Marta lives in a bit of house on the property and will follow our lead to any cleaning and laundry we’d like her to do. Most household staff do dishes from the previous night’s meal, but we prefer to wash them ourselves after eating to avoid cockroaches and other insects seeking scraps of food on unwashed plates and dinnerware.

This mom with the five babies has enormous tusks.

So far, so good. We’ve only experienced a few occurrences when we first arrived, but none since then. We’re meticulous in keeping kitchen countertops and work surfaces cleaned and washed, as we’re always preparing food and refuse to be instrumental in getting ants which can be a real nuisance. Hot soapy water seems to be the best deterrent.

The biggest cleaning issue right now is the soot we get on the veranda almost every day due to sugarcane burning in nearby fields.  Josiah comes to wash the veranda, tend to the yard and clean the pool five days a week. Right now, no more than an hour after he’s done, the white-tiled veranda is covered with nasty black soot. 

Yesterday afternoon, we spotted elephants near the river.

We sweep several times a day when we don’t want to carry the soot inside the house on the bottom of our feet, which are filthy by the end of each day. No big deal. A quick wash in the shower remedies this issue before we hop into bed.

My mornings consist of showering, getting dressed for the day, putting away the dishes Tom had washed the previous night, and leaving to dry. Also, I cut up carrots and apples for the wildlife, prepare a cup of birdseed for the guinea fowls, Frank and The Misses.

We waited for her to turn around, but she was busy eating the tall grasses.

Since I can no longer drink coffee, tea, or iced tea and am waiting to order our shipment, which will include herbal tea for me (I can’t find it at any of the local shops), I drink a glass of room temperature purified water in the morning and throughout the day. No longer does ice agree with me, so I avoid that too.

Some mornings I make us a breakfast of eggs and bacon when we know we won’t be eating until late, such as last night when we went to Kathy and Don’s home for dinner. 

Another elephant was grazing nearby.

We had a spectacular evening starting with appetizers on their second-floor veranda. Later, we moved to the ground level “boma” area to gather around an open fire for more lively chatter and their other two guests, Jane and Andrew. The food, the ambiance, and the conversation couldn’t have been more perfect.

Today, a simple day; the trip to the pharmacy, appointment to get out teeth cleaned, a stop at the meat market for biltong and some meat, a run through the supermarket for a few odds and ends.

Today’s early morning visitors.

We’ll be back “home” no later than 5:00 pm to make another great meal and spend the evening outdoors on the veranda, waiting to see Scar Face, Wart Face, Little Wart Face, Big Daddy, Tom’s Girl (the sweet bushbuck who adores him) and many more we’ve come to know and love.

It’s a good life.  We couldn’t be more content.

May your day bring you much contentment!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3, 2017:

Queensland Gut Healing Tour. 2018
One of Dr. Peter Dingle’s newest books. Click here for details.