Enjoyable Sunday…Family and football..

From our post on December 5, 2013…Down the road another block, several giraffes were hanging outside one of the houses in Marloth Park. This giraffe was eating, which accounts for the chubby cheeks. The food slides down her throat in a big lump, as shown. See the post here.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day at Greg’s home in Chaska, about a 20-minute drive from here. We stopped at Target to get some football-watching snacks. It was fun to watch the game with Greg and the kids, who wandered in and out of the family room during the three-hour game, chatting with us on each occasion.

When Camille returned from Christmas shopping, it was great to catch up with her. By about 4:00 pm, we were going back to the hotel to make a plan for dinner and put away all the laundry we’d washed and dried at their house. With the clothes we purchased at Target when we arrived last Saturday, we only had two loads of laundry.

It was great to use a clothes dryer. It had been a long time since we had access to a clothes dryer. Everything came out unwrinkled, and nothing shrank. We’d each bought a few flannel shirts to stay warm, and I was concerned they’d all shrink, but this morning I am wearing one of those shirts, and there was no shrinkage whatsoever. Even my flannel pajamas came out perfectly.

We begin thinking about any items we may need before leaving the US, knowing we won’t return for nine months. Saying goodbye this time will be a lot easier, knowing we’ll return next September at the end of two cruises. We’ll also head to Nevada to see Richard and renew our driver’s licenses in our state of residence.

While here, we’ve made several phone calls to see if we qualify for any refunds or credits due to our recent travel fiasco. But we’ll need to wait until we return to South Africa to get the wheels in motion. Ethiopian Air doesn’t consider our bags “lost” until 25 days have passed, so we can’t file a claim until then. Our credit card lost baggage benefit will also require documentation from the airline showing our bags are considered lost. We have no choice but to wait.

Now, my centipede fear has some competition. After a massive storm last night, our pool was filled with dead insects. This morning, Tom fished out this scorpion. Carefully, we tread.

It appears we won’t be able to recover any part of the loss of the cruise fare. This is frustrating, but they consider the obstacle we encountered “our fault.” We take full responsibility for the fiasco but are disappointed with the cruise company, and Intrepid Travel didn’t give us a heads-up when we inquired about any governmental documents we may have needed to enter Seychelles. There’s nothing more we can do. It’s frustrating.

But, as always, we must pick ourselves up and carry on and focus on the positives in our lives for which we feel grateful and fulfilled. Slowly, I am beginning to feel better, but the headache pops up every few days and the facial pain remains. I don’t know if I am going to seek further treatment. At this point, I feel like I have tried everything possible.

Perhaps, I have to resign myself to these lingering Omicron symptoms, and in time, they will improve. It is not debilitating in a manner that impacts our lives, but I am aware of it each day. I make a concerted effort to stay cheerful and take extra good care of myself. I am still using the various nasal treatments which, luckily, I had in my carry-on bag. When we fly on the 16-hour flight from Newark to Joburg, I won’t be able to use the products since it’s not sanitary in the plane’s restrooms.

In only three days, we’ll be on our way. Our first flight from Minneapolis to Newark is at 2:00 pm on Thursday. We have a long layover in Newark, 3 hours and 20 minutes, and then we’re off to Joburg on the 16-hour flight. Once we arrive in Joburg we’ll stay overnight at the City Lodge airport hotel to catch our flight on Airlink the following day. This way, we avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark on the dangerous N4 Highway.

Soon, we head out to make one more stop at Target for a few items, and then Tom will drop me off at my friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie for a few-hour visit with a dear old friend.

That’s it for today, friends. Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2021:

It’s only on the hottest days that Little sits in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Cold in Arizona this morning…Off to see old friends…Tom’s birthday…Wine shopping…

Even those residents with RVs may have fruit trees such as this orange tree in their front yard.

This morning we awoke to 39F (3.9C). The Phoenix and surrounding suburbs are known for warm and sunny winter weather, but it’s not unusual to occasionally see temps as low as this. It only takes a few minutes to heat the entire unit in this tiny house, which we did immediately upon awakening.

After the chill in Minnesota only weeks ago, this is undaunting to us. When we arrived in Minneapolis on November 8th, the temps were well below zero for several days. That was tough to handle, especially when we were still coughing and feeling unwell.
This morning we’ll get on the road by 11:00 am to drive to the Tonto Verde Golf Club in Rio Verde, about an hour’s drive from Apache Junction to meet old friends Vicki and Jerry for lunch at 12:30 pm.

We only met them once in 2015, on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii, while the four of us hit it off so well. We’ve stayed in touch all these years via our posts and email messages sent back and forth. We are looking forward to seeing the two of them.

We are fortunate to have met so many fine people over the past seven years of world travel. Now, it seems everywhere we travel. We have new friends we’ve made on cruises and via our website that we’d like to see face to face. Having the opportunity to visit with these fine people makes our lives all the more meaningful.

I’ve made a grocery list for Tom’s upcoming birthday on December 23rd, one week from today. With the family members attending his party, there will be a total of seven of us. On his birthday, I will post the menu.

Tom’s sisters have lemon and orange trees in their yards. Maybe I’ll make lemon drop martinis for Tom’s birthday!

With this small kitchen, we’ve decided to cook on the grill. He’s asked for one of his favorite cakes, a lemon concoction, an old recipe from my mother’s many moons ago.

As mentioned in the past, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying drinking red wine after a 20-year hiatus during which I didn’t drink at all. There was no particular reason I quit drinking in the ’90s, but somehow I lost the taste for it. Instead, I always drank iced tea on most social occasions.

While on the cruise for 33-nights that circumvented the entire Australian continent, we finally qualified for complimentary drinks during “happy hour” from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

During this period, while socializing with extraordinary Australians and Americans we met aboard the ship, I experimented and had a few glasses of red wine. My tolerance was minimal, and I could barely get through one glass. 

Of course, as time passed, I could pace myself to have two glasses spread over the 3½ hours eventually. After the happy hour ended, I’d switched to mineral water and be perfectly content.

After the open heart surgery, both the cardiologist and the surgeon suggested that drinking red wine in moderation may benefit the cardiovascular system. 

Now, I monitor how much I drink and strive to stay within the criteria. In the process, my taste buds have re-ignited, and I’m on a mission to find the wine I most enjoy.

In this process, organic wine seems to suit me best with little or no sulfites in organic wine, and the fact that no pesticides or chemicals are used in growing the grapes organic wine is particularly appealing.

While in Minnesota, I discovered Total Wine, a national wine superstore, the only location to purchase a variety of organic wines. Although wine is now available in grocery stores in most states, I’ve yet to find more than one or two options for organic wine in any grocery stores we’ve visited in Minnesota, Nevada, or Arizona.

Oranges, ready for the picking, in the RV park.

Last night, I placed an order online for a case of organic wines, and later today or tomorrow, we’ll pick it up in Gilbert, Arizona (only about 20 minutes from here) since it’s ready for pickup. The convenience of placing the order online as opposed to searching through the hundreds of types of bottles of wine in a store is something we appreciate.

This is all new to us. In most countries where we’ve traveled in the remote areas we prefer, such convenience is unavailable. I must admit that amenities such as this, which we’ve only found in the US, are pretty unusual to us. 

A lot has changed in the past seven years. Funnily, it’s almost as if we’re the ones experiencing “culture shock” when we find so many conveniences while in the USA. As we’d done years ago, everyone takes such ease-of-use situations for granted. For us, we’re like “kids in a candy store,” eyes wide in awe of what is now available in the US.

But soon, that will all change again as we head to India, where we’ll adapt to the differences which will be profound in that country. We’re ready for this high level of adaptation over the two months.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time for us to leave to see Vicki and Jerry. Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of our day with old friends.

Have a fantastic Monday!

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

A peculiar-looking bird, isn’t it?  Ostriches are remnants of the prehistoric era. For more photos, please click here.

Omelet in a bag party…Minnesota Vikings Football party today…

Tom’s three-egg omelet after it came out of the bag.

It was a lovely gathering of 18 residents, including Tom’s three sisters, spouses, and us. We can’t believe how welcome we feel with this fine group of people and their social activities, often occurring several times a week.

Jane, our hostess, showed me how the omelets were made. Tom wears his name tag when we go to social functions. Go figure.

With our somewhat isolated lifestyle as we travel the world, this time in Apache Junction, Arizona, has become notable for us. Also, the opportunity to spend time with Tom’s family with their endless humor and story-telling has only added to our experience.

The items to include with the eggs in the bag per each guest’s preferences.

We needed time to unwind before we headed out into the world again. The busy few months, including time in Amsterdam, the Baltic cruise, three properties in England, one in Wales, and then the voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, required an enormous amount of travel.

There were 18 attendees to the “omelet in a bag” party.

Finally, after over six weeks, we’re recovering with only infrequent bouts of coughing. Tom’s appetite has returned. His back is recovering from his twisting incident, and we’re feeling relieved to be our “old” selves once again. It’s no wonder we were vulnerable to the virus we caught aboard the last cruise.

Yesterday’s party was fun. As usual, the women gathered in one area and the men in another. This phenomenon seems more prevalent in the older generation, which doesn’t both either of us. 

Our sister/sister-law Margie showed me how to mix the eggs in the bag.
It’s never that either gender is attempting conversation less suitable for the opposite sex. Overall, I think it’s just a habit developed over generations. Younger people today seem less likely to separate in this manner.
Len, our host, wore a fun apron and handled the cooking of the omelets.
I politely passed on the omelet in a bag since I’d eaten ahead of time, knowing there would be little I could have based on my way of eating and with my hesitancy about eating something cooked in a plastic bag. 
Host Jane and Len had plenty of eggs. Guests brought along a variety of fillings and breakfast side dishes.

I don’t use plastic wrap or bags to heat foods in the microwave and quietly stick to my beliefs. However, I never mentioned anything about the bags. Nothing is more annoying than discussing the avoidance of foods or smells at a party due to fear of toxicity. 

Giant pots were used for cooking the omelets in the bags. They cook for 15 minutes after each guest has written their name on the bag.

However, I had no choice but to discretely admit to my way of eating when offered cheesy potatoes, yummy-looking brownies, Christmas cookies, and the other Margi’s cinnamon rolls and other such treats. The most challenging item for me to resist was those sticky, gooey, nut-topped cinnamon rolls. 

It was another pleasant gathering, and we were both back at our little house by 4:00 pm. We had a quiet evening, watching a few shows we’d previously downloaded some time ago. The WiFi isn’t good here, so we doubt we’ll be able to stream any new shows.

The other Margie made these yummy-looking sticky buns.

Today at 2:00 pm, we’re off to Colleen and Gene’s home, where Tom will set up his NFL GamePass connecting his computer to their TV using our new HDMI cord, enabling all of us to watch the live Minnesota Vikings game, which isn’t on TV here.

Tomorrow by 11:00 am we’re driving to Rio Verde to meet old friends for lunch. We met in Vicki and Jerry in Kauai, Hawaii, in January 2015. We’re so looking forward to seeing them!

Enjoy your Sunday!

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

After Louise saw our photos of Little coming up the steps to the veranda, we laughed aloud when he did it again while she and her son Jandre were visiting. For more photos, please click here

Willing to let go?…Minnesota Vikings Football season…A must for Tom to see..

Starfruit only has six carbs per fruit.  A little slice of this might be nice in my water.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This morning while we lounged in bed at 6:00 am, the sounds of the early day were music to our ears; cows mooing, roosters crowing, birds singing, and church bells chiming.  Magical.

Undoubtedly, traveling the world without an end in sight has given us both a degree of happiness we never anticipated at this point in life and a purpose far beyond our wildest dreams.

However, life is an amalgam of trade-offs, and to accomplish this dream we-never-knew-we-had-until-it-happened…we gave up so much. The opportunity to live this nomadic lifestyle was astounding; on our terms, in our own time, at this particular time of our lives, as retired senior citizens with the financial means (in a relatively economical manner with a strict budget).

Gnarly tree in the yard.

In the process, each of us had to decide what aspects of our old lives we were willing to forfeit (beyond being with beloved family and friends) as impractical, costly, or inconvenient. Incorporating those items, we refused to forgo became a continuing challenge in one way or another.

Years ago, a reader wrote a private email suggesting I cut my hair, stop doing my nails and pedicures, and dispense with wearing makeup. Wouldn’t that make traveling more accessible, they offered? 

Starfruit that has fallen from the tree to the ground.

I laughed. Good grief, I gave up having a home, my family and friends, my worldly possessions, and a plethora of conveniences to living this life. Why would I give up who I am and have always been?  I’ve always prepared myself for the day by my standards, on my terms. 

Why would traveling dictate that I suddenly change my way of putting myself together? It would be as incredible as someone who’s never used mascara or lipstick and, happily so, to start doing so just because they’re traveling suddenly. We are who we are, and we have the right to be so.

The view of the Central Valley is constantly changing based on weather conditions.

So what if every few weeks, I do my nails with products I buy from the US and have shipped in our usual box of supplies once or twice a year? Who cares if I shop at the local market for the cosmetics I now use instead of a department store as I did in my old life? No one. No one cares.

As for Tom, he too, gave up “things” he enjoyed…reading the physical copy of the daily and Sunday newspaper, owning a car, putzing around in the yard, stopping at Super America in the morning for a delicious Super Mom’s doughnut, and most of all…watching Minnesota Vikings football games and following all the hoopla that surrounds it.

A side view of the villa. The outdoor kitchen is located below the veranda.

During our first Vikings season of world travels, Tom signed up at NFL Game Pass with a bit of frustration over its inconsistency and nuances yet to be corrected by the service.  We’d written an earlier post on this topic four years ago on August 8, 2013 (coincidentally, almost to today’s date), which can be found here

Over these past years, we’ve written about this topic to some degree every year, as Tom deliberates whether or not he’ll sign up again. The original pricing for the season for only one team (excluding possible playoff and Super Bowl games) was US $169 (CRC 97,388).

We’ve heard their hilarious clicking sounds and seen plenty of gecko poop, but this was the first I’d seen. Earlier that day, Tom spotted the colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko, our favorite, as shown in this photo below that we took in Maui in 2014.  
This is a Gold Dust Day Gecko that we found on the wall in the lanai during a storm. He looked at up me as I shot this photo. Hopefully, we’ll find such a colorful species here in Costa Rica.

Last year NFL Game Pass gave him a special deal when they no longer offered the “one team only package.”  They gave him all the NFL teams package for the previous year’s price of $169 (CRC 97,388).

This year as he prepared to sign up again, he noticed the price had increased to US $199 (CRC 114,676), and he hesitated to sign up. However, he had it set up in their system to perform an automatic renewal.  When he tried after several attempts to cancel the automatic renewal, it wouldn’t allow him to do so.

Finally, he had to contact them to cancel his automatic renewal. They instructed him to follow the steps he’d already completed to no avail. Again, he sent them an email, asking he be removed entirely, which they did.  Frustration set in. Was this worth it?

We’ve seen these flowering trees in most tropical climates.  My friend Colleen wrote and reminded me that this is the Africa Flame Tree. Thanks. dear friend!

On Friday night, I signed up under my name for US $124 (CRC 71,456), and now he’ll be able to watch all the teams if he so chooses. Most likely, the price will increase next year under my name, but for now, this is fine. 

(By the way, this service only works outside North America. We have to turn off our VPN showing we’re in the USA for the app to work for us).

The first preseason game will be on August 10th, this Thursday evening. We’ll watch it on the 80 inch (203 cm) flat-screen TV in the screening room by plugging in our HDMI cord from his laptop. With only a one or two-hour time difference from locations where the games will be played, we’ll be able to watch the games live.

Another view of low-lying clouds in the early morning.

When we spent from 2015 to 2017 in the South Pacific, the time differences were different by hours and by one day due to the International Dateline. For example, Tom would often begin watching a game around 10:00 am, Australia time, on a Monday instead of when it may have been playing in the US on a Sunday.

In any case, he’s good to go this Thursday. In November, he’ll miss several games when we’re on a 30-day back-to-back cruise in South America. However, he’ll be able to watch the games on the app after they’ve played, once the cruise ends in Buenos Aires on December 23rd (coincidentally, Tom’s 65th birthday).

Today, we’re planning to head out by taxi around noon. It appears there’s a Walmart store not too far from here. My flat-iron broke (it lasted five years), and that would be the most logical place to replace it (yep, one of my “necessary devices” even though I travel the world) and hopefully, if they have a grocery department, we can find some whole cream for the coffee.

Enjoy your cup of coffee or tea with us today or next time you have a chance to stop by and read our snippets of daily life “in the world.”

Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2016:

After narrow two lanes roads in Bali, these wider roads in Phuket are more accessible to maneuver, especially with less traffic than in Bali. Phuket wasn’t quite like I remembered it when I traveled there for three weeks, 30 years ago (before Tom). For more photos, please click here.

Busy viewing morning…TV watching habits…

Crops covered with metal tubing to avoid sun damage.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Angler on the beach ready to land his nets.

During daylight hours, we never turn on the TV other than to watch the Minnesota Viking Games and to air political debates after plugging in the HDMI cord. 

In our old lives, the TV would often be on all day during Tom’s days off and for a select hours during the days after I retired. There were some favorite shows that I had run in the background while I was constantly engaged in a multitude of tasks. 

He’s contemplating where he’d have the most success.

Actually sitting down to watch a show rarely appealed to me except in the evenings when I’d run out of steam, needing to wind down in my comfy chair passed in a flash. I retired in 2010, two years prior to Tom.

We’d stop our routine for unexpected visitors, household cleaning and maintenance, miscellaneous yard work, trips to the grocery store, Home Depot, the health club, preparing meals and activities with family and friends. Frequently entertaining guests consumed massive amounts of prep time.

He tosses the weighted nets in the sea.

When we envisioned our retirement, I can honestly say with a degree of embarrassment, that had we stayed in the US living as many retirees do, we’d have spent several daylight hours in front of the TV watching news and financial markets while our fingers flew across the keyboard on our laptops. 

In the evenings after dinner, we’d surely have parked out butts in the same comfy chairs to mindlessly watch several shows we found to be particularly entertaining, which we’d recorded on one of three DVRs; in the kitchen, the bedroom and the family room.

A short time later, he’d had success, most likely having caught squid.

Happy together as a couple, with plenty of family and friends, there’s no doubt that our lives would have been good. But how about GREAT as opposed to GOOD? Could we somehow achieve a heightened degree of happiness and fulfilment? We discovered we could and, we have.

We never stop appreciating an ocean view.

For us, the way we’ve accomplished having this GREAT life was  making the exciting yet difficult decision to travel the world in January, 2012. We left Minnesota on October 31, 2012 after a full nine months of planning while busy organizing and selling everything we owned while we created an itinerary for years to come.

In light of all this, we no longer spend endless hours parked in front of a TV screen. If anything, we watch no more than two episodes of favorite series, we can stream or have already recorded on my laptop. We don’t have a TV in many vacation homes or, as is the case in Bali, there are no English language channels.

There are many farms located along the ocean.

This morning, Monday in this part of the world, we’re currently situated in the villa’s living room on the main floor (no AC, hot and humid) in front of the TV watching the Minnesota Vikings Game on the NFL GamePass app. After the game, we’ll stream the political debate. 

By 11:00 am, we’ll head out to the pool to spend the remainder of the day outdoors, walking the beach, watching for photo ops of sightings on the beach and loving this simple life. Most days, we’re outdoors by 8:00 am.

We crossed countless rivers and waterways in the four to five hour harrowing road trip, coming up again in 19 days.

The two Ketuts just arrived with their usual smiling faces carrying bags of fresh prawns and vegetables for tonight and tomorrow’s dinners. Ribud is cleaning the veranda, the grounds and the pool after a weekend of winds and pouring rain which left behind quite a mess.

And as always he’s setting up the chaise lounges with cushions and fresh towels and cleaning the cabana for our use later in the day when we escape from the sun. He cleans the cushions, straightens the pillows and sprays for those biting red ants. 

The ocean to our left as we made our way from Denpasar.

There’s no major TV time for us in this life of world travel. We’re preoccupied with simple joys and the uncomplicated nature of our daily lives, grateful and in awe of the world around us.

May your day be uncomplicated and joyful!

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2015:

In Fiji, this popular “island with three trees” is mostly underwater at high tide. For more details, please click here.

Tom’s excited…He watched the first Vikings pre-season game…

Lilies blooming in a pot in the front yard.

With a good Wi-Fi signal in the house in Phuket, we’ve been able to stream a few Showtime series, we’ve enjoyed, Ray Donovan and The Affair, both gripping and entertaining which we watch in the evenings after dinner.

We signed up for Showtime at Amazon US $8.95, THB 311, as an adjunct to our Prime membership which we’ll cancel when we’re done with both series, most likely by the time we leave here in a few weeks.

Garden area inside the gate of the villa.

As football season approached, Tom renewed his membership for NFL GamePass, for only US $99, THB 3442 per season, which now, as opposed to in the past, includes all the team’s games, playoff games and Super Bowl games. 

To use this app one must watch the games outside the US or use a VPN showing an outside-the-US Wi-Fi connection. As a result, Tom doesn’t need to use our VPN (Hotspot Shield) while watching since our point of entry will show we’re outside the US anyway.

House in the neighborhood with gate open.

We often giggle over how we ever figured out all these things. Many of these apps are complicated to use and don’t work as readily as one expects. Even impatient Tom has learned to make it all work without any prompting from me.

As a note, using Hotspot Shield provides us with an added layer of protection against hackers as well as showing we’re entering a site from the US. Some shopping sites we may use for buying gifts for family members show different prices if we aren’t in the US. Using Hotspot Shield ensures we get the US generated web page and pricing.

Messy yard in the neighborhood.

All of the above is only relevant if one is living outside the US or their home country. It can be very confusing. Honestly, it took us a year or so to get it all figured out and working properly during which time the technology improved as it all became easier to use.

Thus, yesterday afternoon Tom plugged in the HDMI cord  from his laptop to the flat screen TV in the living room, activated NFL GamePass and within minutes was watching the Minnesota Vikings football game which had aired four hours earlier rather than watch it live which when doing so would result in pauses for commercials and halftime,.

By waiting until after the game is over, he can watch the entire game commercial and halftime free.  Instead of it taking over three hours to broadcast each game, he can watch it in its entirety in around 90 minutes. 

We pass by this house on our way to the highway.  Many motorbikes have attached carts such as shown here.

Of course, a decent signal is required to watch an uninterrupted game. When we return to Bali in a few weeks with its poor signal, there will be numerous pauses during the game as it attempts to stream the contents. 

We had to deal with these frustrating streaming delays when we attempted to stream a few shows while we were in Bali a few months ago. That’s the way it is. There’s nothing we can do about it and Tom will deal with it while watching the games in September and October.

Tall house in the neighborhood.

Otherwise, all is OK here. There have been no new bombings in the last 24 hours, even though security is reinforced everywhere in Thailand, especially in tourist areas. We’ll remain diligent and careful when heading out.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin to share photos from our sightseeing outing from a few days ago as we wind down our remaining 18 days in Thailand. 

Have a blissful Saturday or Sunday, whichever it is, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2015:

Nothing is more exciting for us than spotting wildlife in its natural habitat as was the case in Trinity Beach, Australia when we spotted this pelican. For more photos, please click here.

Transportation…Another long day without power…VPN tip…Five days until departure…

There are many sailboats in the islands, a choice location for avid sailors.

Three months is a long time in one location without a car. Oh, I’m not complaining. We’re thrilled with the savings. Not paying upwards of USD $1500, FJD $3239 per month (as an example in Fiji), USD $4500, FJD $9719 for three months of a rental car plus fuel as opposed to the under USD $300, FJD $648 total we’ll have spent for a driver for the full three months in Fiji provides a huge savings on an annualized basis.

This amount of savings by not renting a car in Fiji was enough to pay for our upcoming cruise in January for both of us, selecting a balcony cabin (as always). Each time we opt for a driver as opposed to a rental car the savings are generally in this range ultimately paying for most upcoming cruises. 

In 2016, we’ve scheduled five cruises; four ocean going, one river cruise. With our love of cruising and the ability to see so much at one time, choosing a driver over a rental car is a small sacrifice for us.

In other countries such as upcoming New Zealand in January, a rental car is a must with our intentions to tour the two islands. We’ve found the cost in NZ is much more affordable than in Fiji as is the case in more populated countries.

A sandy beach along the quiet road we traveled.

As we move to the next island of Fiji for 28 days again we’ll use a driver. The company that we’ve arranged to pick us up at the Suva Airport will also serve as our drivers once we arrive in Pacific Harbour, an hour’s drive from the airport. 

In the new location, we’ll have the freedom (and luxury) of walking to nearby shops and restaurants according to the owner. I can hardly wait to be able to walk when there. Although lovely overall in Savusavu, it’s been impossible to go for a walk on the steep dirt road up the mountain. 

We can barely maneuver getting into Rasnesh’s vehicle, the incline is so steep. Invariably, the car door is so heavy on the incline, that in itself, it’s a challenge to close once inside, the incline creating a darned weird obstacle, dangerous and unwieldy. Level ground at this point is rather appealing.

Living in Savusavu hasn’t been easy in some ways, certainly not anyone’s fault. Mario has been the perfect host in a relatively perfect little house overlooking the sea. The support staff has been ideal; Junior, Usi and Vika, all of whom we adore. 

We highly recommend this resort if the ability to prepare one’s food and the desire to be away from the hotel environment in a more private location is on one’s radar.  In many ways, it’s been ideal for us.

As for the ants, that’s only been a result of our constant need to cook. Had we only been preparing light meals as most, shorter-term travelers do, we may not have had so many ants. It was certainly a result of the constant preparation of food that attracted them no matter how well we cleaned up after we were done. 

A canopy of trees crossed over the road creates a pretty scene.

The refrigerator handle fell prey to the ants if a smidgeon of food was on my hand when I opened the door. The next day we’d have ants on the handle and the door. In time, I learned my lesson, washing my hands every time I opened a cupboard or appliance including the microwave, portable oven, the coffee or tea pots or even the kitchen sponge which I sterilized with a minute in the microwave each day. And still, they came…just less of them for a day or two. 

I have no doubt we’ve eaten some ants regardless of how hard we’ve tried not to. Then again, there are populations throughout the world that eat ants and other insects so I guess we fit in. Not necessarily by design.

As for yesterday’s unannounced power outage, I suppose not knowing saved us a bit of anticipation, although we weren’t prepared with lots of ice on hand as we had the week earlier with advance notice. Two of out the past eight days, we’ve had no power, and a third day the refrigerator didn’t work for 24 hours. 

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator. The freezer seems to stay cold for eight or nine hours without defrosting providing we don’t open the door. Yesterday’s power outage beginning at 9:17 am was a total surprise. 

Waiting 30 minutes after the power went off, I called the power company when this time the Internet still worked enabling me to look up their number online. I was told it was a result of another day’s tree trimming near the power lines as hurricane season approaches. They estimated we’d have power by 4:30 pm.

Aside from many rocky beaches, there are many sandy beaches in Fiji.

We had a decision to make; do we open the freezer, empty all four of our ice cubes trays into a container to place in the refrigerator or do we avoid opening either door?  We opted to quickly open both doors, remove the ice, fill the plastic container and our mugs with ice placing the plastic container on top of the pan of the uncooked Italian meatballs I planned to cook for dinner. 

We were concerned about meatballs made with beef and pork mince going bad in the refrigerator in seven or more hours. But our plan worked. When the power came back on at 5:30 pm, the ice was hardly melted in the fridge, the contents were cold and the meatballs were as cold as they would have been with power. 

We had a lovely dinner with the meatballs slathered in homemade red pasta sauce topped with hand-grated mozzarella cheese, a side of mushroom casserole (which stayed frozen in the freezer during the outage) and fresh steamed veggies.

The next challenge of the day was Tom’s ability to watch the Minnesota Vikings football game on his laptop.  He’s a member of NFL Game Pass, an app only available to viewers outside the US for an annual fee of USD $130, FJD $281 when Tom only watches the Vikings games. The fees are higher for full access to all games, playoff and Super Bowl games which he can add on later, if the Vikings are in the playoffs and Super Bowl. 

The games are available live with commercials or a few hours later without commercials reducing the view time to less than two hours. For some odd reason, last night, when the Internet signal was appeared strong enough to watch, Tom wasn’t able to download the game no matter how hard he tried. He’d been able to watch prior games while in Fiji. We had no idea as to the problem.

We can easily envision a life at sea, definitely not a lifestyle that would appeal to us for years.

Frustrated for him, I made what sounded like a hair-brained suggestion that he use the VPN on my computer, Hotspot Shield, to show our entry to the Internet wasn’t Fiji but another country we could select in the app. We couldn’t use the US as the selection with the Game Pass app unavailable for use while in the US.

I started the app, selected the UK as our entry point and he opened to the program for success. Immediately, the game popped up on the screen of my laptop. 

Not much of a football fan, plus with his preference of keeping the laptop on his lap during the game, I decided to head to bed at 9 pm to continue reading a good mystery novel instead of attempting to watch along with him.

By 10:30, I nodded off, loud game and all, managing eight hours of sleep, a first in many moons, only awakening a few times to the sound of pounding rain on the roof, a nightly occurrence of late.

The sun is shining at the moment. The ants are under control. I’m feeling especially good after a full night’s rest.  Tom’s still grinning from ear to ear over the Vikings win. Life is good.

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2014:

On our final day in Maui before heading to the Big Island for the upcoming family visit, we boarded a whale watching boat in Maalaea Bay, the harbor with some of the roughest seas in the world. (Yes, it was! rough)! We never saw a whale and once again, we were disappointed on yet another unfulfilling whale watching outing. Safari luck only seems to prevail on land.  For more details and photos of the scenery, please click here.

Tom’s online football experience…

The haze in the hills continues day after day with the high humidity.
After signing up at NFL.com in order to watch the Minnesota Vikings games, which we wrote posted on August 8th.  At that time, he had yet to watch his first game.
Last Saturday, after the game had occurred the previous night, he watched the first preseason game.
In his words, “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.  I’m not happy that I paid (US) $169 to watch the Vikings games.  Every time there’s a commercial, which has been removed, there’s a black screen. Either I sit there and watch the black screen for the length of the commercial or I can click ahead in either slow-moving, 10-second increments or by using the scroll bar to try to find the spot when the commercial ended.”
With the lack of rain, few flowers remain.

We all know how long those commercials can be. This task is annoying and cumbersome for three-plus hours, definitely taking away from the enjoyment of watching the game. Tom’s expectation in purchasing a prepaid package from the NFL, was that it would be similar to watching an on-demand program minus any intrusion by commercials. 

When originally booking the house in Boveglio online comments seemed to indicate that this old hotel’s bar was still open. Unfortunately, the bar and the hotel both closed a while back.
This room at the end of the hotel was once used as a ballroom.

One would assume that in this day and age with advanced technology, that this type of issue would have been resolved prior to offering such a package for sale to the public. Will he cancel?  No. 

He’ll continue to watch the game the morning after they’ve occurred with the ongoing frustration associated with this poor system. Isn’t it frustrating enough that the Vikings have yet proven to be the team that loyal fans have fantasized about for many years?

The local residents frequently place flower pot at this neighborhood shrine.

Although not a football fan, I certainly empathize with him over this issue when encountering poor technology by major corporations.

It’s no wonder that we can hear lively Italian conversations and toilets flushing in the tight little neighbor.  All the plumbing pipes are on the outside of the buildings.

Most recently, one of our credit card companies was sold out to a larger credit card company, resulting in the necessity of the customer set up an online account at the new company. Should be easy, right? Oh, no. 

Each day there appears to be a new stack of prayer candles at this shrine across the street from our house.

After trying to create an online account for this card over a period of the past 5 days, only to have the screen require me to enter the same information over and over, I’m left with no alternative but to call. Yes, I can use a toll-free number on Skype without having to pay for the call.  But the issue is the time difference and the loss of my time in making this call. 

Regardless of the drought-like conditions, homeowners continue to regularly water their outdoor plants. With no lawns to tend to, plants fulfill their desire to connect to nature.  Community gardens are within walking distance in which some neighbors participate.

After trying various numbers, I’ve been informed I must call during regular business hours, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Pacific time.  With this time difference, I must call after 6:00 pm here, a time when we’re busy getting dinner ready with the expectation of enjoying a stress-free evening. Being on hold for 10 to 15 minutes only adds to the frustration.

The vantage point from the road heading southwest.
This is across the street from our main entrance, looking up from the road. In most neighborhoods, homes across the road aren’t located so high up!

Wherever we may be, we aren’t free of the time-consuming tasks of managing our daily lives. There’s literally no way that one can choose to be “off the grid” if they require any type of insurance, banking, handling of their assets, managing their credit cards, and paying taxes.

The road as I returned home from my walk.  We’re located a few doors down on the right.

To my left in the lower level as I entered the house.  The laundry room is located behind the curtain.

Years ago, I heard a motivational speaker say, “Everywhere you go, there you are.” So true. So true.

Walking gingerly is a must on these step stone steps to the basement.  The Homeaway listing for this house clearly stated that this property is not intended for the older population due to the many steps required to get from one end to another down the long hallway and the tricky access to the patio on the right of this stairwell.

Giving up favorite pastimes…For Tom, not the Minnesota Vikings…

Several months ago, Tom canceled his subscription to the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper due to its inability to be downloaded several days each week. 

The newspaper was available either from the StarTribune’s own website for almost $1 a day, after an initial $8 for eight weeks offer, or through Barnes and Noble for $10 a month. Of course, he chose the lower-cost subscription. Well, you get what you pay for. Downloading was a frustrating daily task, taking the fun out of reading the paper when it did arrive.

He’s been reading the StarTribune in the late 50s when only a kid when the sports section was a peach/pinkish colored paper. Do any Minnesotans out there remember that?

Thus, as an avid reader of the daily paper, this was a big change for him. I always joked that he read and memorized every word in the daily paper, even the page numbers, able to quote dates, times, and most minute details months, if not years, later.

Easily bored reading the newspaper, I’d ask Tom to tell me the news if a topic caught my attention, to which he did so verbatim, perhaps with a bit of “spin” of which I didn’t object.

Newspaper reading days are long over for him, although the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football season had frequently come to mind as he contemplated the options available for viewing the games quickly after airing on US TV.

Looking online, for apps that may be options was fruitless. Many sites offering “free” viewing of games were a hoax, many of them pirating the games through various means. 

Viewing live TV on a computer has yet to become readily available to the average viewer, although the technology will be available soon. There are various companies such as Slingbox, as recommended by son Greg, that for a fee allow a subscriber to watch live shows.  Unfortunately, such an option isn’t unavailable to viewers when outside the US. 

With our use of Graboid we’re able to download and watch primetime commercial-free shows the day after airing.  But this doesn’t include sporting events, concerts, and special events.

After considerable research, Tom discovered that the easiest, most cost-effective option available to football fans, outside the US, was to subscribe to the NFL’s online viewing program GamePass.

For US $169, he will be able to watch the Vikings all preseason and regular-season games. If by a miracle, the Vikings make it to the playoff, he will purchase an add-on to view those as well. 

Yesterday, he subscribed to the GamePass plan to begin watching the first preseason game which airs live tomorrow (Friday, the 9th).  However, this game will air online at 2:00 am here in Italy, which he won’t be interested in doing. However, he’ll be able to watch the recorded game on Saturday at his leisure. Son TJ made a good point: don’t look at Facebook or the news during the game, if he prefers the outcome to be a surprise.  Good point, TJ!

This particular subscription service is only available to viewers outside the US or US territories. Other options are available online for those who don’t have access to TV or prefer to watch the game on their computers at a later time.

Need I say this Vikings fan is rather pleased to know he won’t miss a game. Not a football fan myself, he’ll be watching on his own, which he prefers rather than be interrupted by my idle chatter. 

In any case, I’m thrilled for him and will provide a quiet, comment, and question free environment during his game viewing.

With modern technology, traveling the world doesn’t have to leave a traveler’s favorite pastime, totally beyond reach, as we see here with Tom’s Minnesota Viking viewing options. 

Go Vikings! I guess.

From couch potato to world traveler…Happy birthday to my husband…

A hard-working, dedicated man, helper around the house, a supporter of my every whim, compassionate to my every sorrow, and infinitely able to make me laugh when I wanted to cry, my husband Tom has been a rock.

Today, we celebrate his 60th birthday. The world didn’t end of the 21st as he so fervently predicted, leaving us here today to celebrate his special day, the holiday season, and our upcoming world travels beginning in a mere 11 days.

Happy birthday, my love.  I commend you for getting up from your former comfy chair, away from your Minnesota Vikings, out from behind your computer endlessly researching your ancestry and freeing yourself from the constant chatter of mindless drivel on TV in the background.

I admire your courage to make this enormous change, leaving everyone you know and love behind (except me) to venture out into an unknown world of uncertainty, risk, and challenge.

I admire you for leaving behind everything familiar in your world in which you found the cocoon that comforted you after long days of work, the unbearable drive to and from, the smell of diesel fuel, and the wrenching exposure to chemicals around you each day.

Reaching for a purpose beyond that which we currently know, you stretch yourself to the limits, and I, a loyal follower travel with you. What lies ahead of us on the plains of Africa, the shores of southern  France, the Mayan ruins, the Great Pyramids remains to be seen.  Together, holding hands, we reach for the stars in the last decades of our lives, fearless, strong, and in love.

What more could I ask for?  Nothing.  Nothing more.

So today for the first time on your birthday, I have no gift for you to unwrap. You have no room in your luggage for yet the tiniest of trinkets. 

I give you, Tom Lyman, husband, lover, and best friend of mine, ongoing, on growing love and devotion, combined with an unending curiosity to gain further knowledge of this side of you that I have yet to learn.  This in itself, adds an element of adventure that I anxiously await.

Happy birthday, Tom Lyman, for on this day your 60th birthday as we celebrate with family and friends, you embark on this new chapter in your life, with me, my love,  simply writing the words along the way.

I love you.