Day #120 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Confusing India visa extension…

We stopped along a beach to enjoy the views in Madeira, Portugal.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 21, 2014, while in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. See the link here for more photos.

I don’t know where to begin. It’s all so confusing. I wrote to India’s visa department, explicitly asking the following question in an email:

We are US citizens that arrived in India on January 31, 2020, for a two-month tour of the country.

Close up of flower at the beach.
Since lockdown started, we’ve been in a hotel in Mumbai near the airport, observing all safety requirements.
Our India visa stamp states November 19, 2020. Does this date apply to us, or will our visas expire on July 28, 2020, 180 days after entry?
Do we apply now for an extension, or do we wait until the international airport fully opens?
Most beaches are rocky in Madeira. Wooden planks are provided for sunbathers to avoid sitting on the rocks. On many beaches, these thatched umbrellas are also provided. 
We will not be returning to the US and will fly to some other country once the international flights are fully open and…when a country will accept us with US passports with recent time spent in India.”
Several hours later, I received the following form response, exactly as written:
“Hello Dear,
Thank you for your email. All foreign visitors can extend their visas through the FRRO/FRO services website / Mobile app. It is an entirely online process, and you don’t need to visit FRRO/FRO office unless you get a call from FRRO/FRO for some specific reason. For more information, please see here
Many roads along the cliffs were wet from water running down the mountains.
None of this answered our specific questions, leaving us totally in the dark. This morning after 9:00 am, I called no less than five phone numbers indicated on their site, none of which had an answer or voice mail message.
Suppose we apply for an extension, a complicated and time-consuming process, including attaching numerous documents. In that case, it’s only suitable for 30 days to fly by in a flash, and still, international flights won’t be available. Will we have to continue with the laborious process every 30 days until we finally leave?
From what we could determine, this small one-lane rock tunnel was ancient.
Fortunately, there are no fees to file based on COVID-19. There are no specific references on any of their sites as to how to handle this situation. This morning, after the phoning efforts, we both started the process when even the registration process to file was a confusing and cumbersome operation.
We kept receiving messages that the process didn’t accept the one-time OPT (one-time password) we received by email, nor did it take the “captcha” letters and numbers we tried to enter, doing it carefully each time. 
A bridge over a ravine.
Finally, I was registered, but Tom’s registration seemed impossible. With years of online experience, usually, a process like this would be a piece of cake. Oh, not now. We’ll try again later after I complete my application after uploading this post.
In the middle of all this, I had to do my walking, which I’ve beefed up further to 8500 steps a day. Also, I had to go downstairs to pay our bill, which we do every 11 days since we cannot book the hotel for more than 11 days at a time. We tried booking for 14, 21, 25, 28 days, etc., to no avail. 
A fast-running small creek in the ravine.
Thus, we have to go downstairs every 11 days to pay the bill (and for meals), which is annoying when there may be more germs in the elevators and down there. I scrubbed everything, including myself, upon return. Thank goodness I’ve already taken care of this today.
Amid all of this, I kept thinking that my mind would be more at ease if I uploaded today’s post. As a result, I am rushing through with this visa thing on my mind.
A fountain in the center of a round-about.
Yes, even in lockdown with few obligations, we can still get caught up in the responsibilities of daily life. And yes, we feel frustrated and annoyed at times due to such responsibilities, especially when we run into difficulties, as has transpired today.
May your day be safe and uncomplicated!

Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2019:

Clouds reflecting on a body of water in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Day #119 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…More dreadful travel news…

We handed off the camera to a kind gentleman to take this blurry photo in the square when we were invited to a party in Boveglio.

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 shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 20, 2013, while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more photos.

As of yet, the prospects for the future aren’t looking good for us leaving India anytime soon. With India now in the #3 spot in the world with South Africa, having moved into the #5 spot, with the most cases of COVID-19, our hopes to travel from Mumbai to Marloth Park are rapidly declining.

The interior of the “theatre” in the square, our mouths were agape as we viewed each photo with our new friends encouraging us along, telling stories mainly in Italian, so proud to share their history with us. It was a night we’ll never forget.

Once the international flights open in Mumbai, we’ll have 30 days to fly out of India based on our visa and current restrictions. I wrote to the immigration department asking for more details impacting us if no country will accept us. What will we be able to do based on India’s visa requirements? 

Will we be able to get a visa extension beyond the 30-day mandate from the time international flights resume? Their offices are closed, but they are accepting email inquiries. Hopefully, we’ll receive a response soon.

Many of us have old photos such as these of our relatives, deceased and living, bringing us a warm sense of our roots and family history.

Our visa stamp indicates we’re allowed to stay until November 19, 2020, but in tiny print below, it states no foreigners may last longer than 180 days in a single stay. By July 28, we’ll have been in India for 180 days.

In the interim, we’ll continue to follow online updates on their visa website. This is a bit unclear and confusing at this point, and we’re hoping for further clarification by email.

None of the photos were dated, but the clothing may indicate the early 1900’s.

As for South Africa, we doubt they’ll allow US citizens to enter the country well into 2021. Subsequently, we have to put our hopes to return to Marloth Park on hold for an extended period.

Now, as we continue to stay updated on flights and borders opening up, we may have to consider some options that are not as desirable as we’d like. Will shopping in local markets be safe in more crowded populations in many countries? Also, will we stay in another hotel somewhere or rent a holiday home?

Based on the clothing, this wedding procession appears it could have been in the 1950s on a now-paved road in the neighborhood.

Europe is out of the question when US citizens aren’t allowed to enter. Some Caribbean islands with low numbers of the virus accept US citizens, which we may consider when flights open out of India. A few countries in Africa will accept us at this point.
Still, the uncertainty remains, which above all, is the most challenging aspect of this unusual situation. As planners, not knowing what is next is frustrating and can easily monopolize our thoughts.

This is the unpaved road closest to the street near the church that leads to Bar Ferrari. We walked up this road while in Boveglio.

In the worst-case, we can always return to the US for some time, but our realities still cloud this possibility: 1. Too many cases of the virus and the necessities of stops at many airports required to get anywhere we may be willing to wait it out and, 2. Our insurance only pays outside the USA, not while we’re visiting the US, a risky scenario in light of the risk of COVID-19 and the added exposure in the US. 

If we convert to Medicare, we’re stuck paying at least INR 89912, US $1200 a month for life for both of us for Medicare Part B and necessary supplements, which is irreversible once instituted. 

There was no road to our 300-year-old vacation home beside the walking path for residents and animals in this photo. 

If we continue our world travels, this Medicare will do us little good outside the US). Right now, we’re paying about INR 31844, US $425 a month (for both of us) with excellent coverage and low co-pays, anywhere in the world except the US.

What a dilemma! In the interim, we strive to remain optimistic as we stick to our comforting routines to maintain our health and our sanity.

Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2019:

Note the different sizes of her horns as seen in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Artwork on the island only steps away…Breathtaking…A year ago…An old fashioned locally shared washtub…

It’s hard to believe this is needlepoint. This piece was hanging above the sofa, taking up a huge portion of the wall. Gina’s mama is obviously quite skilled, although no longer able to do this work. Gina explained she happily sell any of this work beautifully framed. If interested, contact her at this link

As we walked up the steep hill with Gina on Thursday, she was babbling on in her adorable attempt at speaking English, as she was excited to show us the house she and her husband Carlos own after he designed and built it a few years ago.

A smaller sidewall held this stunning piece.

She and Carlos were busy working all morning preparing the house for the next round of tourists. Carlos was involved in maintenance while Gina cleaned. They are quite a hard-working couple, obviously happy working together and in love. 

This piece was huge, filling a substantial wall space. See the photo below for more detail.

As we gingerly climbed the few steep slippery flights of steps (no railings) that were still wet from their cleaning the veranda and patio, we entered yet another beautiful house Carlos had built with the utmost of comfort and thoughtful design in mind. 

I zoomed in for more detail in the above photo.

Although my mind was spinning as I checked out the multiple levels, common in these homes built into the hills, my eyes were drawn to the exquisite artwork adorning almost every wall in the main living areas. 

We can only imagine the effort that went into the preparation for the design and colors.

Moving closer for a better look both Tom and I were entranced by the intricate detail and quality of the various pieces each perfectly framed and hung to highlight it’s finite integrity.

The detail in the art is breathtaking.

Gina’s eyes followed us as we moved from item to item finally saying, with pride, “My mama makes that!”

She went on to show us and explain that each of the works of art had been handmade by her mother with a few made by her mother’s sister. The quality of the work was astounding.

Typically, we see patterns such as this in needlepoint.

In the realm of things, the generous display was a plethora of fine needlepoint. For us, as it was displayed, it became fine works of art with intrinsic detail drawing our eyes to savor. Surprisingly, Tom was equally impressed. (Yes, he will love The Louvre in Paris!)

Here again, a more typical design yet created in exquisite detail.

As Carlos enthusiastically yet humbly awaited our response to his design and construction of the house which we genuinely provided, we were stuck with our focus on the art.

It’s ironic how the human mind has an innate ability to appreciate beauty in any form that appeals to their general likes and taste. It was as difficult to look away as it would have been to take our eyes off a kudu or a lion, or a pristine beach at sunset.

Most often, we see needlepoint on throw pillows as was the case on some of these pieces.

After moments of perusing, Tom looked at me saying, “I’ll go get the camera.”

I stopped for a moment considering the difficult steep walk back to our house, albeit short, and if I should go instead. 

But, he knew I was busy looking and didn’t want to step away for a moment.  Off he went to return only minutes later camera in hand, huffing, and puffing. I asked if he was OK. The smile on his face told me he was as his breathing returned to normal under my careful supervision, distracted by his state of being over the art for the moment. (Oh, it’s hell to get old!)

As we walked away, we spotted an array of late-blooming flowers in the flower boxes. 

For those of our readers that have watched any of our videos, I tend to get excited at certain times when taking videos and photos, that I end up sacrificing quality over-enthusiasm as evidenced in my voice-over or in the lack of steadiness of the camera.

Such was the case of Thursday. In taking the photos, never once did I hold the camera straight which resulted in the necessity of later cropping the artwork frames out of the photos to avoid displaying my lopsided camera angle. 

Orchids growing in the yard of Gina and Carlos’ property. They are also growing at our house. We’ll share close up photos soon.

Finally satisfied that we’d taken enough photos and had nodded repeatedly in appreciation of Carlos’s and Gina’s lovely vacation rental, we took off heading downhill to return home. 

Once back home, wanting to get out of Judite’s way as she cleaned our house, we took off on a road trip for the afternoon during which we encountered one of the most exciting natural wonders we’ve seen during our time on the island.

We’ll be back tomorrow to share those photos.  Please check back!

Photo from one year ago today, July 19, 2013:

This is an authentic washtub we stumbled across when walking in Boveglio, Italy last year on this day, still used by some of the locals.  For details of the story from that date, please click here.