One day and counting…Yeah!..Almost on our way!…

A giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands was heading back out to sea. Check out the pattern on the sand.

I’m done packing except for a few items we’ll use between now and tomorrow morning when we depart at 8:30 am. I feel organized and accomplished. It was relatively easy packing this time. Besides Tom needing to pack, which he’ll surely get started soon, we are in good shape.

I’ve gathered most of the things all over the house. A few minutes ago, Tom weighed my bag and the supplies bag, and it looks like the weight on those is within the 23 kg (50 pounds) maximum allowed by Copa Airlines. The laundry is done. Tonight’s light lunch and dinner are ready to go.

My new computer will be ready for pickup at Costco by Friday. I am looking forward to getting everything set up on the laptop. It should be ready to use after a few hours of work loading my files on the Windows 11 desktop. I’d used a Chromebook when my Windows laptop died in India, and I ordered a Chromebook for the first time. It was shipped to our hotel while we were in Udaipur, India.

When we left Marloth Park last April, I gave that laptop to Vusi, one of our excellent housekeepers in the bush. The only thing wrong was that the letter “t” wasn’t working. Vusi didn’t care about the “t.” He and his family would use it to stream Netflix shows.

Using Chrome, it took a long time for me to get used to not being able to place folders on the desktop and constantly subject to keeping folders on Google Drive. It was more work for me, and I was continually mindful of how I named and where I placed folders. It was cumbersome and time-consuming.

This current broken computer has served me well over the past two years. Our laptops generally last two years based on how much we’ve traveled and the subsequent wear and tear. Another hindrance to the life of our laptops has been determined by the humidity in any given location. Over the years, we’ve lived in many locations with extremely high humidity.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours assembling an online grocery order with Albertsons Market in Henderson, Nevada. We intend to pick up the order at the market on Friday afternoon after we pick up the laptop at Costco. However, after carefully going through their system and placing almost 100 items in the cart, I couldn’t process the order. (We needed many food products to start at a new location. Their system wouldn’t allow me to use our VPN, nor would they allow me to process the order without using the VPN.

Their system picked up that we were out of the country, and they assumed it was a fraud. Why would someone in Ecuador order 100 items from their market? This makes a lot of sense. Their staff could spend considerable time gathering almost 100 items, and no one shows up to pick up the order. Their system could have assumed we’d be using a stolen credit card.

One of my credit card numbers was stolen only a week ago, and now, a new card awaits me at the mail service in Nevada. A replacement card arrived in a few days. I was notified by the credit card company that they suspected fraud, and they were right. It was for a purchase I hadn’t made, and then the card was declined without using a proper PIN on the back.

This has happened to us almost a half dozen times over the years. I’m grateful we aren’t responsible for unauthorized charges and that the credit card companies are on top of detecting such issues and not making us accountable for those charges. However, they state that it’s also up to the customer to check their purchases to ensure there hasn’t been any fraud.

Due to this condition, I have it set up to get notified for most purchases on our cards. We only have to click “yes” when a text arrives asking if we made the purchase. This is not an inconvenience unless the card is declined if we don’t acknowledge the request for a “yes.” This has happened only a few times.

That’s why I have all of our credit cards, Tom’s and mine, set up for notifications to go to my phone since he doesn’t pay much attention to texts, let alone phone calls. Nor does he use his phone for email, shopping, or anything other than playing games. He explained that after 42½ years working on the railroad and having to be near a phone or getting beeped on a pager, he has little interest in using a phone other than for calls to and from family.

My phone dings when I get a text, so if we’re shopping, I can quickly say “yes” and proceed with the transaction. It may sound time-consuming, but given the difficulty of receiving a new card via snail mail, it is the best way to keep our cards secure. Nonetheless, fraud still happens every so often.

Tom just meandered upstairs to pack while I stayed on the main floor working on this post. He doesn’t need me to help him other than occasionally neatly folding his shirts in a closet. I’m not good at folding button-up shirts, but I am better at it than he is. He helps me by weighing and carrying the bags up and down. It is a joint effort in some ways.

As mentioned, I will write the post on my phone in the car tomorrow. When we get a signal, I will upload it. I may not get a signal until we reach the airport in Guayaquil sometime around noon, drop off the car, check our bags, go through immigration, and get settled at our gate with working WiFi.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 13, 2013:

This was our first photo of the dung beetle in action. The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back feet while his front feet grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball, so she tags along as he rolls. They search for an adequate hole to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them and the maturing larvae. Nature is amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…The power came back on…We got lucky…

This was the adorable “cria,” alpaca that the owners named after me when Tom and I attended to her birth while they were away. They presented her to me on my birthday when they returned. Wow! What a delight!

When the power returned yesterday, 11  hours after it went out, we finally opened the refrigerator to see the status of the remaining food. We had defrosted beef tenderloin and fish, which I worried about the most. The meat and fish had been defrosted the prior day.

Much to our shock, everything in the refrigerator was still very cold. Even Tom’s leftover cubed watermelon was iced cold in the metal pan. The temperature on that fridge was set low, most likely because everything stayed cold for so long. We decided to eat our leftovers.

I made another batch of chow mein for Tom using the tenderloin, leftover green peppers, celery, fresh ginger, and garlic. We had enough spices left to make it flavorful, and Tom enjoyed it last night and will again tonight and tomorrow. I ate the fish, cole slaw, and broccoli. Tonight and tomorrow, I’ll make myself a ham and cheese omelet using the eight small eggs we have left. We’ll have used up all the remaining food except for a few condiments.

When the power returned, we were thrilled to be able to entertain ourselves by streaming videos, although my “on-its-last-leg” laptop is having a sound issue where the sound cuts in and out. Last night, while Tom and I were still in the living room and he was watching football games. I ended up watching a series on Hulu on my phone.

As I write this, the power has gone out again. We aren’t complaining this time. I had our last load of laundry in the clothes dryer. Surely, we hope, it will be restored in time for us to dry this last load. If not, we’ll hang it around the house until the power returns.

As mentioned above, I purchased a new laptop at Costco yesterday using the $215 balance on the shop card (gift card) we got from cruising in August. The Acer laptop with all of my preferred features was initially priced at $799, but after a $200 holiday discount, good until December 15, and using the shop card, our out-of-pocket cost was down to $384. I couldn’t place the order quickly enough.

During the checkout process, which wouldn’t allow me to use our VPN, their system picked up that I was purchasing in Ecuador, and I couldn’t complete the purchase without calling Costco for assistance. On their end, their system suspected fraud from a foreign country. Once I called, a highly competent rep helped me complete the process. I requested the computer be sent to the closest location to Lake Las Vegas, a mere 3.4 miles from the condo.

They will notify us by email when it has arrived for pickup, which could be as late as a week from now. If I close this laptop with its broken hinge, I may never be able to open it again, or after traveling, it may finally quit working. (I’ve saved all my folders on an external hard drive). If that’s the case, I will only be able to post using my phone, which is slow since I am a lousy typist on the phone, picking at the keys one at a time.

Unlike the younger generation, we cannot hammer out a text in seconds. We are single-digit pickers. However, I will continue to post each day. Since we leave on Thursday at 8:00 am, I will write the post on my phone during the 3½ hour drive to Guayaquil airport and upload it once we are checked in and have WiFi at the airport.

It was a relief to get the purchase resolved, and now my next focus is watching for the prescription drug I need arriving from Singapore before the end of the month. I will run out of the drug one week after we arrive, around December 20. If it doesn’t come by then, I’ll head to a Minute Clinic at a CVS pharmacy. I called to confirm they’d help me out, and they will. So, no worries there.

Instead of shopping for groceries at Costco, since it’s quite a hassle during the holiday season, I will order groceries online at Albertson’s Market, which is about 12 minutes from the condo. They have a promo with a $30 credit for ordering online and picking up the groceries at the door. Since we don’t know the procedure for receiving a grocery order at the condo, we jumped all over this promo.

I downloaded their app, and in the next day or so, I will prepare the order and then submit it the day before we arrive to be able to pick up our groceries the following day, December 15. That way, we won’t have to shop in another busy store. We’ll take our food back to the condo to unload it. Tom is thrilled with this plan since he doesn’t like waiting for me while I decide on purchases at the market. It’s a win-win.

That’s it for today, folks. Although the power was out, I could still write the text and save it on the offline app, Notepad, in case the power didn’t return. It did. We are fine.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 12, 2013:

Various groups of kudu males came to call throughout the day. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…11 hour power outage…The outcome in tomorrow’s post…

This is the male buffalo that chased after Tom in Bali.

Note: This post was written on my phone during an 11-hour power outage beginning at midnight last night.

Oh dear, the hassles continue right up to the end of our time in Mirador San Jose. The power has been out for 11 hours, and all our food in the refrigerator may have spoiled. We haven’t opened the refrigerator door to check it yet and won’t do so until the power comes back on.

The only solution is to go to the little store today and buy lots of eggs and cheese so we can eat omelets for dinner for the next three nights. We don’t trust buying their meat since they don’t have a generator, and their meat will spoil.

Nor will we consider eating at Kokomo on Wednesday evening, as we planned to do the night before we depart. They don’t have a generator, and we don’t trust their meat either after such an extended power outage. We always order chicken for me and ground beef for Tom. No way would we eat those.

Eggs aren’t refrigerated here since they use different processing than the US and can stay fresh for weeks. Cheese should be safe since it has been fermenting unrefrigerated.

It’s not as if we are willing to take half a day to drive back and forth to Manta to buy something for dinner. However, we assume the bigger markets have generators to keep their volumes of food cold on such occasions.

In the realm of things, we will only be out about $45 worth of groceries, and no major harm will have come to us. It’s merely a matter of inconvenience and readjusting our meal plans a bit. Thank goodness we aren’t staying until our original departure date of January 8 and had recently shopped in Manta.

Last night, it was hot and humid in the bedroom without aircon. We kicked off the covers and awoke every hour or so, aware of the heat in the room. When we got up this morning, we both felt sluggish and unrested.

As I write this on my phone, I wonder when I can post it. But, with nothing else to do right now, preparing this made sense while I still had juice left on my portable charger. It won’t last beyond this afternoon; by then, we’ll be on our last leg with nothing to do tonight in the dark with no devices working.

Tom is playing games on his phone, and his battery will die before too long. The only candles here are tea lights; with the doors open for some air, they are hard to keep lit in the wind. Even if there were books to read here, we couldn’t see them.

This makes me think of the settlers before electricity and how they entertained themselves at night with only kerosene lamps. Many read books, told stories, or played games. Many went to bed early since they had to get up early and work the farm. Their lifestyle was very different from that which we have become accustomed to. It’s all relative. We have it easy.

At the little store last week, we heard a story about Mirador San Jose residents not having power for 21 consecutive days in 2019. At that time, the owner/developer was collecting money from the residents for electricity and paying the power company one lump sum.

When the developer pocketed the money the residents had paid and failed to pay the electric company, the power was off for 21 days. Of course, everyone was in an uproar, but they could do nothing. Few had funds to cover the outstanding bill for every house in this gated community of dozens of homes.

Twenty-one days without power or WiFi is unthinkable. It was a painful period for those residents who couldn’t afford to leave while the situation was resolved. Many who could afford it purchased generators, but even those had no WiFi for communication with the outside world when many depended on WhatsApp, which requires a WiFi connection.

Nonetheless, are we chomping at the bit to drive away on Thursday morning or sooner if the power doesn’t come back on? Yep! That’s for sure. We’ll report more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago, December 11, 2013:

This elephant began his trek across the river from the Marloth Park side to get close to an awaiting elephant. The river is loaded with crocodiles who seldom attack adult elephants. Boating on the river is strictly prohibited. For the outcome of this trek, please click here.

Four days and counting…Disappointing error on my part…

We went to dinner in a town square at The Villages, Florida, every Friday and Saturday night. This was in June, 2023.

Today, I had almost finished the post, and somehow, most likely due to my hitting a delete key in error, the entire post was gone, and I had to rewrite the whole thing. I’m frustrated with myself. Here I am, starting again, trying to remember everything I wrote. I can’t recall the last time I did this, but this was not the first time.

Since writing posts is so spontaneous, which I often start without a topic in mind, it’s not easy to piece it together once again. I tried everything to find my trash in WordPress. It is nowhere to be found.

This morning, I continued packing, taking everything out of the cupboards in two of the three bedrooms. There are no drawers in the bedrooms of this house, and cupboards are often the only option in many holiday homes for storing clothes and other items. Using cupboards makes it challenging to find specific items and often makes a mess when digging through everything.

Few holiday homes have a chest or drawers or a dresser. That was something we loved about the well-equipped house in The Villages, in Florida, where we stayed last summer. That was the most well-equipped holiday home we’d rented in the past 11 years, and I think of it often for its ease of living.

We don’t expect owners of other holiday homes to go to the lengths that the Florida owner did to ensure we had every possible accouterment we could imagine. The only item I had to buy was a large stainless steel bowl, as mentioned in a prior post a few days ago. I left that bowl behind since it was too large to fit into a suitcase and carry on our travels.

I’m curious about what amenities we’ll find at the new location. Each time we enter a new holiday home, it’s of great interest to both of us to see what they have on hand. Most often, there’s almost everything we need. Since we stay for more extended periods than most travelers, there may be a few items we need to purchase.

Here in Mirador San Jose, we managed with everything on hand. However, there were no mixing bowls (other than one medium serving bowl), no grater, no can opener, no large stainer for washing vegetables, or an electric mixer, which comes in handy occasionally. Nonetheless, we managed quite well.

The bed pillows have black mold spots on their covers and were misshapen and uncomfortable. Luckily, I have my Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillow with two satin pillowcases. Tom slept well on the lumpy pillows. Enough about this place! We’re moving on in only four days.

Five days from now, I will sit in the living room in our new place, working on that day’s post for December 15 and getting ready to head to Costco to buy my new laptop and groceries. We’ll most likely be a little tired from the prior day’s long road trip and nine-hour flight, but we’ll be elated to be in our new home for the next 107 days.

Tom is cutting up the last watermelon in big chunks that he eats daily at lunch with ham and cheese rollups. We’ll finish most of the food and leave any extra unopened items for Maria when she cleans the house again after we leave on Thursday. Now, I’ll head to the kitchen to cut the large watermelon chunks into bite-sized pieces and be done prepping food for today.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 10, 2013:

We wrote a story about Vic’s Royal Kruger Lodge, and he invited us to dinner in his boma. The place settings for dinner were pleasing to the eye, and the food was excellent. For more, please click here.

Six days and counting…

When we had dinner in the bush in Kruger National Park in 2013, and Louise and Danie presented an exquisite Christmas event with fabulous food and decor, a praying mantis landed on an empty plate. Amazing!

This morning, I awoke with a smile on my face…in six days, we’ll be heading to Las Vegas to our 107-day booked condo in lovely Lake Las Vegas. After this most recent disappointment, my expectations are in check, but being close to stores, restaurants, family, and friends certainly contributes to a positive state of mind.

If the condo isn’t perfect, so be it. Knowing we can enjoy ourselves otherwise, we’ll make the best of this. A good bed, strong WiFi, and reasonably comfortable living room furniture, coupled with the property being in good condition, is all we need to make it work.

With excellent reviews for the condo, we feel at ease knowing many tourists found it complete with many amenities and plenty of kitchen supplies. Often, like here in Ecuador, the kitchen supplies are limited. But, when many travelers only spend three or four days in a holiday home, eating out for most meals, they have little use for kitchen gadgets.

For instance, we’ve been functioning with only one medium-sized glass bowl. Instead, we’ve used various sizes of pots as bowls, and it worked fine. There is no can opener, so the tuna and coconut cream we purchased had pull-top tabs for opening. I have my own three little paring knives, which have helped with all the daily chopping and dicing I do, and they come in handy.

We’ve used one sizeable sharp knife to cut meat and large vegetables. The only bowls for serving coleslaw and other vegetables are small-sized side dish bowls that are a part of the basic set of dishes. There is no roasting pan or cookie sheet. But, we’ve used the four various-sized pots with stainless steel handles that can go into the oven for roasting meat and chicken.

There is one medium-sized square Pyrex pan that we’ve used on occasion, but it is hard to wash, and we couldn’t find parchment paper at the market. Instead, we purchased two rolls of tin foil, the best quality they had. But it was impossible to get any of it off the roll since it was so flimsy. We’ve managed without tin foil.

Over the years, we’ve learned to live without many kitchen utensils and gadgets. In our old lives, we had every kitchen gadget you can imagine. It’s been quite an adjustment adapting to using what’s available. If there’s no large bowl at the condo, I may buy one as I did in Florida. That’s the one item I miss the most. I make a mess trying to stir ingredients in the small bowl and pots.

The bed here is comfortable, and so is the living room furniture. We’ve never dined at the dining room table since we prefer to eat at the granite center island, with two barstools.

Since our HDMI cord broke and the one here is rusted from the humidity and doesn’t work, we’ve each entertained ourselves at night by reading the news and watching videos on our laptops. The nights have passed quickly, and with only a handful of nights to go, it hasn’t been as boring as I anticipated.

Every so often, we stop what we’re doing to chat while sitting across from one another. I usually go upstairs to bed about an hour before Tom, where I’ll finish watching a show on my phone, respond to our reader’s email messages that I hadn’t gotten to during the day, or play games on my phone.

Both of us are now relaxed and will soon begin thinking about packing. As mentioned, we could be packed in an hour or two if necessary. There’s no rush.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 8, 2013:

Nothing like a little brotherly love. Zebras are very affectionate with one another. For more, please click here.

One week and counting…

Male tree frogs fertilize a foam nest that a female frog made overnight. Nature is amazing! The photo was taken in December 2013.

A week from today, we’ll be on the road to Guayaquil Airport, 3 hours and 22 minutes from our location. We’ll likely head out the door around 8:30 am for our 2:53 pm flight to Panama City, with a 1-hour 33-minute layover, and then on to Las Vegas. Our flight arrives at 10:40 pm, and after going through immigration, getting our bags, and picking up the rental car, we most likely won’t arrive at the condo until around 1:00 am or later.

Of course, we won’t unpack that night, only taking out toiletries and clothes for the following day. I hope we get at least six hours of sleep since we’ll wake up to a busy day. First on the agenda is the trip to Costco to purchase my much-needed computer and pick up a few groceries, enough to last a few days.

Once we’re settled, most likely, we will do an online grocery order from Smith’s, where we’ve shopped in the past and been pleased with their products and service. Initially, I’d planned to buy a lot of food at Costco, but I have found some of their prices on groceries are not necessarily better than prices at a grocery store. Plus, Smith’s will have a better selection of miscellaneous items we use. Large sizes of many products don’t work if they end up spoiling.

Then again, how much we buy at cost depends on how we feel if we don’t sleep enough. Costco is not fun when one is exhausted. It may be challenging to recall prices on items that may or may not be a good deal, especially since we haven’t grocery shopped in the US since we were in Florida last summer.

With inflation, prices have crept up over the past several months. We are in for a rude awakening of increased costs since we left Florida at the end of July. And most likely, prices will be as high in Las Vegas as at The Villages.

If my medication arrives, we’ll head to our mailing service the next day to pick it up. This morning, when I checked the tracking number, apparently, the package had arrived in the US from Singapore, where many prescription drugs are manufactured. Often, Americans assume their medications are manufactured in the US, and many are not.

Here is an interesting article about where prescription drugs are manufactured worldwide. It’s a fascinating article that may surprise you. As for the world’s manufacturing countries, here is the list and percentages:

The USP Medicine Supply Map analysis (Chart I) counts the number of active API DMFs by location.

  • India accounts for 48%
  • China accounts for 13%
  • U.S. accounts for 10%

We are deluding ourselves by assuming that most drugs are manufactured in the US. Surprisingly, buying them from a US pharmacy costs so much. The cost for the blood thinner I must take, Eliquis, buying from Singapore through ProgressiveRX is $95.49 for 56 pills (almost enough for one month), compared to buying it at a pharmacy (without a pharmacy plan) is $599.97. Who can afford this?

I realize I’d mentioned this in a past post, maybe more than once, but if one of our readers sees this after missing that post and is paying these high prices, it would have been worth posting it one more time.

We’re bracing ourselves for higher prices on most things in the US. But, while we’re in the US, we look forward to a broader selection than most other countries.

One reader wrote and asked how long we’ll be in the US. If all goes well, we’ll likely return to Marloth Park in June as planned. However, we won’t stay more than 90 days this time. According to many reliable sources, South Africa’s immigration department still cannot process extensions due to a lack of staff. We won’t be applying for an extension again.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Be well.

Photo from years ago today, December 7, 2013:

While walking in our neighborhood, Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s driveway and appeared fascinated by looking at himself in the window. For more photos, please click here.

Eight days and counting!…No more streaming shows until Las Vegas…

The waves were high as they are in Ecuador, on the Big Island of Hawaii, while we were there in December 2014.

As I write here, the temperature is only 77F, 25C, but the humidity is 80%. To be respectful of the owner, we don’t use the aircon on the main floor during the day but turn it on in the evenings when we stream shows to get the moisture out of the air for a little while. It feels good to cool off in the evenings.

As Tom has aged, he gets cold while sitting in the living room at night, and he goes upstairs and puts on jeans and a sweatshirt. It’s not that we have the aircon set too low. It’s perfectly comfortable for me at 72F, 22C. I tease Tom that he has the “old man syndrome” of always being cold, especially since he’s lost about 20 pounds in the past several months. He doesn’t think that’s funny, but I can’t resist teasing him.

Speaking of streaming shows, our steaming nights are over here in Ecuador. Last night, while I attempted to plug our HDMI cord into my dying laptop, the cord metal plug fell apart in my hand. We tried to use the owner’s HDMI cord on the back of the TV monitor, but the metal plugs were severely rusted. From there, we couldn’t stream shows from the apps on my laptop.

Thus, we’ll spend the rest of the time here, looking at whatever shows appeal to us on our laptops. It’s nowhere near as enjoyable as watching something together. But, in the realm of things, it’s no big deal. Last night, I watched a mediocre science fiction movie on Amazon Prime and then watched a fascinating documentary on Netflix, “Bad Doctor,” a series well worth watching.

I’ll finish the series tonight and see what other documentaries I can find on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Tom sat on the sofa across from me, watching sports stuff on YouTube. He was also entertained, which I’m sure he’ll continue to do until we depart. Last night on Amazon, I ordered a new 10 ft. HDMI cord that wil be waiting for us when we head to our mailing service in Las Vegas.

It’s hard to believe we’re leaving next Thursday, a mere eight days from today. I often say these exact words, but more often, regarding not wanting to go having enjoyed where we were at any given time. There’s never been anywhere in the world over the past 11 years where we were “chomping at the bit” to be on the move as much as this time.

I wrote to the owner and told him, in diplomatic detail, some of our experiences here, explaining we wouldn’t be writing negative reviews. Most tourists come here for three or four days, and many of the issues we’ve experienced wouldn’t be noticeable to them.

Also, those tourists may have been willing to eat at the roadside lean-tos about 30 minutes from here, where the food would never be appropriate for my way of eating. If that were the case, the grocery shopping in the little store would be sufficient for them to get essential supplies on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the only days the little store is open, from 10 to 3.

There was no way I was willing to write a bad review and perhaps prevent those visitors from coming here. The owner, living in Montenegro, has been very kind and responsive to us from afar. We have no complaints about him and his service. As I’ve mentioned, the house is fine, although there’s daily wear and tear from the high humidity and salty air. Anything metal is rusted, as in the case of the HDMI cord mentioned above.

This morning, I found myself smiling while getting ready for the day. Feeling well and looking forward to Lake Las Vegas, knowing it’s only days away until we arrive at our new home for the next 107 days, the smile is easily explained. We’re looking forward to the future.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 6, 2013:

On our first game drive in Marloth Park with Leon (one of the owners of Jabula and our dear friend) in 2013, hippos usually hung out together in herds (called pods, bloats, or dales). For more photos, please click here.

Guess what?…Nine days and counting…But, right now, life is good…Reading books?…

Our photo was taken in December 2014, when our kids and grandkids came to visit us on the Big Island in Hawaii, at the observation point while Mount Kilauea was erupting. What an adventure!

We wouldn’t have complained if everything at the beginning of our visit to Mirador San Jose had been like it is now. We’ve had power for 36 hours. We have plenty of food to get us through until we depart in nine days when the little store stocked up on meat, and yesterday, we made enough purchases to round out what we need.

I feel like myself again now that I’m back on two pills a day of the antiarrhythmic drug Flecainide again. I know I will be able to get a prescription to hold me over until my ProgressiveRX order arrives at the end of the month. Yesterday, I called a CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic. Their medical professionals will prescribe the above drug to fill the gap I was concerned about. Finally, I can stop thinking of this.

Based on the two visits I had to a highly qualified cardiologist in the past month, who continues to check on me on WhatsApp and who says surgery is not required immediately, I will wait until we get to South Africa so I can see my cardiologist there, whom I trust, and have another ultrasound to see if my situation is worsening. If it’s not, I’ll have a scan every six months. If it is, I’ll have to decide if I want to go through another open heart surgery.

But I am not worrying about that anymore. I let it go to continue enjoying our lives now that I feel so well again. The only side effect I’m experiencing from the drug is a little sleepiness about four hours after taking each of the two doses. I can live with this. This helps me sleep better at night, and after the morning dose, a nap is all that’s needed during the day—no big deal.

Today is an easy day. All I have to do is chop and dice for tonight’s dinner and make our little mid-day lunch of sliced ham and cheese rollups. Tom has watermelon with his snack, and I may have cooked broccoli on the side with mine. I haven’t been hungry for breakfast lately, but Tom continues to enjoy his buttered toast with strawberry jam, so we have our little lunch around 11:00. This holds us until dinner.

I continue to stay on my diet, motivated to help with my condition, and so far, I’ve lost 15 pounds and started noticing how better my clothes are beginning to fit. I still have ten more pounds to return to where I was when we first started traveling. These next ten pounds will be the most noticeable. But, as most know, losing the last ten pounds is challenging. Right now, my weight loss is at a snail’s pace, only at about one pound a week, if I’m lucky.

Overall, I am not hungry since I continue to keep my carbs at bay, although I’ve had to up them from 20 grams a day to about 40 grams a day to ensure I get full with lots of vegetables and strawberries. Calories do count whether we like it or not, regardless of how and what we eat. Based on my lowered level of exercise at this point, as I slowly improve my heart health, which is ultimately most important for me, the weekly loss is minimal to keep the Afib under control.

But I will persevere. If I only lose ½  pound a week for the next 20 weeks, I will reach my goal by April 24, 2024. As quickly as time flies, it won’t be long before I get there. Once I achieve my goal, I will adjust my intake to maintain what I’ve lost. Health concerns have been a massive motivator for me when I had little motivation in the past to keep me on track. My clothes fitting better and appearing less chunky didn’t help motivate me to reduce my food intake. Now, it’s somewhat easy.

We enjoy listening to various podcasts while working on our computers during the day, and when there’s a lull, we both get a kick out of playing fun games on our phones. Since neither of us reads many books these days after binge-reading in the early days of our world travels. I can’t seem to focus enough to get lost in a fiction book, although I will occasionally read a non-fiction book, most of which I received for free from Amazon Prime on the Kindle app on my phone.

When lost in a fiction book, the time passes way too quickly for my liking, and at this point in life, I’d prefer to eke out every possible moment of my day being present instead of being lost in a book. In the first three or four years of our world travels, I read over 300 books that are still on my Kindle App.

That’s it for today, dear readers.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 5, 2013:

We encountered these two wildebeest as we rounded the corner from our house. Enormous, it was taller than a horse, much larger than any of the wildebeest we’d seen at the tail end of the Great Migration at the border of Kenya and Tanzania. For more photos, please click here.

Yeah!…We’ve had power for the past 36 hours!…Ten days and counting…

Our dear friends, seated, Danie and Louise, and standing, Rita and Gerhard. We are looking forward to when we can all get together again.

It’s incredible how a good night’s sleep, feeling well, and electricity can make us so happy. Today is a new day, and we will make the best of our remaining ten days in Ecuador. No doubt, the power will be out again, hopefully not for 12 hours. We have enough food to get through these next nine days (we leave on the 10th day) by adding a few packs of meat from the little store. Raphael fills in the rest with fresh, organic vegetables, watermelon for Tom, and freshly picked strawberries for me.

Last night, I slept through the night, and Tom also had a refreshing sleep. Now, he’s watching football on his laptop with the NFL Game Pass, now called DZN, and is quite content. I have a busy day with laundry, meal prep, travel record keeping, and perhaps a little organizing upstairs to prepare for packing in one week.

Feeling well and energetic, I am putting all my negativism in the past and forging ahead. I am looking forward to moving into the upcoming main floor condo in Lake Las Vegas, where we feel confident we’ll be comfortable and at ease.

I have always enjoyed being in Nevada, our home state. With the opportunity to see family and a few friends who live there, we’ll enjoy dining out each week and having easy access to everything we could possibly need or want. Our expenses are always higher in the US than when traveling in other countries, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve done this before.

We’re not expecting $40 dinners with drinks and tips, as we experience in South Africa. Nor are we anticipating $150 weekly grocery bills, buying quality groceries as we have there as well. Easily, we’ll spend $250 or more weekly for a trip to Smith’s or Albertsons. There’s a Whole Foods store nearby, but the prices are outrageous, as we’ve found to be the case in other parts of the US.

Plus, dinners out will easily be $100 for two. Since I am not drinking wine right now, the bill will be a little less when a glass of wine can cost upwards of $15, and I am only drinking plain water. Tap water is safe to drink in Las Vegas and Henderson. In most countries we’ve visited, we’ve had to buy bottled water, except in South Africa, where it’s included in our rent.

Gosh, the more I write, the more reasons I see why we love Marloth Park so much. Not only are prices so much more reasonable, even with inflation, but humans and animals provide a constant source of entertainment. As our regular readers know, I can’t wait to return.

I heard from Rita and Gerhard as they were about to leave Marloth Park after a few months’ stay, living in the same house called the Ratel House (most houses in Africa have a name). Last night, they sent me a photo of their last dinner out with Louise and Danie on WhatsApp, as shown above in the main photo. We are always so happy to see friends enjoying time together who have all come into our lives due to our blog.

It reminds us of how important it is to have good friends throughout the world. Research has been done (not that I believe all research) that having a social life contributes to a longer life and better health. If that’s the case, we should live to be 100. Each day, we connect with our friends worldwide, either on social media or by phone on WhatsApp. Each time we have an opportunity to hear their voices, we are reeling with delight, even after the call.

Today, we are cooking bunless burgers topped with purple onion, fresh tomatoes, sliced cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, homemade ketchup, homemade coleslaw, and sides of green beans and broccoli, a healthy meal for both of us. I use large cabbage leaves to wrap my burger so it can be hand-held. Delicious!

Have a wonderful Monday, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 4, 2013:

This morning as we sat on the veranda by the pool, this group of 9 warthogs, seven babies and two moms, walked up the driveway toward us, happy to visit and looking for pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Wait until you hear this one!…More whinging, whining, complaining…11 days and counting…

This was Mont Blanc, a precious baby alpaca born before our eyes in New Plymouth, NZ, in 2016 while we lived on an alpaca farm. It is one of our favorite memories. Sadly, a few months later, he died due to his blue eyes, which indicated a genetic abnormality. We were so sad to see this unravel before us. For more, please click here.

I am sorry we’ve whinged so much since we arrived at Mirador San Jose on October 24. It’s been one thing after another. In our attempt to “tell it like it is,” our dear readers have had no choice but to listen to me complain day after day. The alternative would have been to smile and pretend nothing is wrong, painting an unrealistic representation of our challenges as we’ve traveled the world. We never intended to have it all be “fluff.”

Maybe Ecuador itself is fine for many expats and residents. No doubt it is when many live here, enjoying nature, the sea, and, like us, the Galapagos Islands expedition, which we’d highly recommend, especially if you aren’t prone to seasickness and the altitude in Quito, which is the launching point for most Galapagos tours.

As we quickly approach the time we’ll be leaving Ecuador in 11 days, we are reminded of the challenges we’ve faced here, including power outages for extended periods. In Marloth Park, South Africa, load shedding was and continues to be a daily occurrence. But we knew when they were coming, and 95% of the time, they only lasted two hours.

Yesterday was the end of my rope, as they say…the last straw…the straw that broke the camel’s back. I threw my arms up in frustrated resignation and complained most of the day. We had no power for over 12 hours, two hours in the morning and ten more hours, well into the night, when we laid in bed in the dark, digital equipment dead, with no aircon in the humid heat.

The power was restored at 11:00 pm when, as a light sleeper, I was convinced I’d never sleep a wink if it didn’t come back on. There are no screens on the windows, and opening them wide made no sense for some more sticky, humid air. We lay there, talking in the dark, as we’d done downstairs, before heading upstairs.

Our only candles were tea lights, which hardly lit the room, and we sat in the living room, squeezing out the last bit of power on our phones to play a few mindless games to keep our minds occupied. Even my portable charger was out of juice, and of course, my laptop was dead, and we couldn’t stream anything anyway without WiiFi, which is also out each time the power is out.

Plus, we couldn’t stream anything to the TV monitor, which wouldn’t go on without power even if we used the external hard drive Rita and Gerhard gave me for my birthday a few years ago, loaded with 1000 movies. There was no way to watch them.

Technology is excellent, but power is more significant. Even making dinner without power was a pain, although, thank goodness, the stove is gas, or we wouldn’t have been able to eat. We ate by candlelight, usually romantic, but not in this case. Tom did the dishes in the dark.

Ugh! After fussing all day, I was wound up and had trouble falling asleep even after the power was restored. I didn’t nod off until after 1:00 am, feeling exhausted and unrested this morning. Later, I will take a short nap on the sofa to help recover.

We’ll see what today brings, hopefully, not more of the same. I am uploading today’s post earlier than usual, in the event the same power outage occurs.

Have a lovely Sunday, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 3, 2013:

These are African skimmers, and we were excited to get this shot of mom or dad feeding a baby. Look at those yellow eyes! For more photos, please click here.