No water, 15 hours and counting…List of lessons we’ve learned..More new photos…A daylight visit to Sails…

We posted this poisonous centipede photo, a creature in the crustacean family, that we took shortly after we’d arrived.  A few nights ago, I encountered another of these on the bathroom wall during the night. In the flurry of activity, I didn’t stop to take another photo.  I didn’t scream, but I did awaken Tom, who promptly got the dustpan and brush, flushing it down the toilet. For days, I worried it would come back up the toilet causing me to check out the toilet bowl frequently. This is the one creature I fear.

Last night after dinner, Tom prepared to do the dishes as always, only to discover we had no running water. Not a dribble. No way to flush to the toilet. No way to shower in the morning. Oh.

The long walk from the security area at Sails Restaurant on which vehicles aren’t allowed. At night, when returning in the dark, a security guard escorts us on the walk.

Jeri, Hans’ wife, has contacted a plumber. We wait. Is it another broken pipe? A pump no longer pumping? What could it be? With no city water in Kenya, property owners are dependent upon well water with small water towers dotting the landscape.

This tented area is the location of the Sails Restaurant at the Almanara Resort, one of our favorites thus far.

Who are we to complain when the highway we frequent is littered with shacks where there’s no water, no electricity, and only fires for cooking? I continue to remind myself of this when these situations occur, finding little comfort in the discomfort of others.

The beach we hadn’t been able to see in the dark the last time we dined at Sails Restaurant at the Almanara Resort, almost walking distance from our home in Diani Beach.  (We always take a cab each way due to dangers on the highway).

Last Sunday we ran out of cooking fuel for a day finding ourselves eating tuna out of the can with coleslaw, sliced tomatoes, and carrot sticks on the side for dinner, the likes of which we’ve never had before.

The previous week we had no power during almost an entire day and a few days later, during an entire night.  After all, we’re living in a third world country. What did we expect? Utilities working? A microwave? A stove that turns on when you turn the dial? A TV? High-speed Internet? Air conditioning? A bug-free zone?   

Arriving a little after 6:00 pm, we were finally able to see the property at Sails Restaurant, part of the Almanara Resort. Locals are proud that their Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta,  had stayed at this resort some months ago.

Our expectations are subject to the environment from whence we came, what’s familiar. If one never had a computer, one may dismiss it as an unnecessary frivolity. It’s all a matter of what we’ve become used to, isn’t it? There’s no right or wrong in this fact. It is what it is.

After dinner, as we awaited our cab, we lounged in this seating area in the dark.

We decided to live in these conditions. No one forced us. Will naivety suffice as an excuse for not knowing these things could happen? Perhaps, in part. Perhaps, in part, our desire for adventure led us down this road to a lack of basic familiarities which simply “goes with the territory.”

The moon and the ocean, never disappoint.

Me, who showers every morning without exception, poured a bit of bottled water into the bathroom sink doing the best I could do, dressing in the same clothes I wore yesterday (clean underwear, of course). Wearing the same clothes twice, was out of my realm in my old life. Now, there’s no chance of such frivolity, of such wastefulness.

So, what do we do? We wait. We don’t complain to one another. Hopefully, by 5:00 PM we’ll have water again, hot water after we push the button to get the water to heat in 20 minutes, so we can shower before going out to dinner.

The moon never disappoints.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to wash the dishes before we leave, the 3 pots I used to make dinner last night, now crustily sitting in the kitchen along with the dirty plates and flatware. 

I resign myself in the knowledge that somehow I needed to learn these lessons; to not take conveniences for granted, to appreciate the most basic of amenities, to diligently and discriminatingly use whatever is readily available. 

Last week when dining at Sails Restaurant, the moon was in its full glory.

Now, a year out, we’ve learned the following:
1.  Wash and reuse plastic bags if possible.
2.  Cover food in the refrigerator with a single paper towel (no Tupperware or plastic containers with lids).
3.  Use small leftover pieces of bar soap for frequent hand washing.
4.  Use a small flashlight when getting up in the dark to ensure no creatures are wandering about.
5.  Wear the same pants, shirts, socks until they are obviously dirty or smell.
6.  Always wear and carry insect repellent.
7.  Don’t scream (me, only) when spotting a poisonous creature in the bathroom.
8.  Use plenty of olive oil on the bottom of the metal skillet to avoid sticking (non-stick doesn’t exist here).
9.  Don’t flush the toilet every time (especially now with no water).
10. Carefully monitor data usage. Don’t watch videos other than shows we’ve downloaded during the night using the “free” metered nighttime data we receive after loading more data via scratch-off cards.
11. Wash the bird poop off of the glass table every morning using ammonia, washing hands immediately thereafter.
12. Be careful when plugging anything into an outlet (220 gives quite the jolt. I know from experience).
13. Have cash on hand for tips. Credit card tips not allowed.
14. Don’t complain about the food or service aloud. 
15. When walking on the road to the beach, produce stand or anywhere in public say “jambo” to every passerby. 
16. Don’t feed the wildlife.
17. Clean up bits of food promptly after eating or within minutes it will be covered in ants.  Don’t eat in bed.  Food attracts bugs.
18. Inspect shoes, socks, clothing, and bath towels before using them.
19. Keep computers and MiFi’s plugged in while in use in the event of a power outage.  We’ll have 3 hours of use on the batteries.
20. Step carefully when walking.  With no codes, few handrails, or lights in public facilities, tripping hazards are many.  Recently we purchased 2 tiny LED flashlights we use when going out at night.
21.  Every night, upon getting into bed, check under the sheet, the pillows, around the pillows, and around the mosquito netting for whatever may be lurking there.  Most victims of centipede stings have received them while sleeping in a mosquito netted bed.

Tom sure enjoys the liter bottles of locally made Tusker beer, at KES $250, US $2.94. 

So, if the “universe” intended for us to appreciate more, to learn more, to experience more, the “universe” has succeeded. And, as any education we are fortunate enough to receive when the “hard work” is done, we feel fulfilled and grateful for the knowledge and for the opportunity to incorporate this knowledge into the remainder of our lives.

Complimentary appetizer Tom had eaten the last time we visited Sails during our first week in Diani Beach, consisting of batter-fried seaweed and chicken stuffed puff pastries.
Tom enjoyed this dinner of Crab Au Gratin and fries. He gave me his plate of veggies as usual.
Look at this pile of grilled red snapper and veggies. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the freshness and flavor. The server explained that the snapper was caught in front of the property earlier that day.

I promise. I’ll never look at a Ziploc bag the same way.

Although Tom doesn’t eat sweets when drinking beer, we got a kick out of this menu of homemade ice cream offered at Sails Restaurant.

Note: As I write this, the plumber is here repairing the water issue. Hesborn explained that we’ll soon have water. Apparently, it was a switch in the private water tower. Guess we’ll soon flip the hot water switch in order to do the dishes in 20 minutes or so, promptly turning it off.

Now dining out 3 nights a week…One of our new favorites, The Sands at Nomad…Lots of photos…

No, this was not a creature that we found in our bathroom during the night. It was my delectable entrée, delicate grill calamari with an octopus topper at dinner a week ago Saturday at the divine The Sands at Nomad.
My dinner plate in its entirety, 7 skewered grilled garlic buttered calamari atop a plentiful portion of grilled non-starchy vegetables. I didn’t try the sauce fearing it may contain sugar. 
Tom’s pork chop dinner that same evening with fried potato wedges and sautéed vegetables.
While we were busy thinking, sleeping, and writing safari, life continued on for us in Diani Beach, Kenya these almost past two weeks since our return from the Masai Mara.
Tom was looking forward to dining while the cool ocean breezes washed over us.

I must admit, after that profound experience, everything we do in the future has the potential to be anti-climatic comparatively. 

The menu offered many selections, all reasonably priced.  For a frame of reference, KES $1000 equals US $11.76. 

We’ll have to shake loose that feeling. We will, especially when in less than six weeks we’ll have the opportunity to go on safari as often as we’d like living in Marloth Park, on the edge of Kruger Park, one of the largest game reserves in the world for a full three months. The company that owns several properties in the adjoining parks arrange game drives, day and night (and day walks) and we can participate at will.

With my shoulder painful after taking over 600 photos on safari, I fashioned this sling using a scarf. Keeping it immobile since we returned has been helpful.  Luckily, it wasn’t painful until the day after our return.

I can’t comprehend this option when at the end of our 4 days, 3 nights in the Masai Mara, all I could think of was, “I want more.” Living amid many of the animals in Marloth Park in itself will be greatly fulfilling and of course, fodder for endless photos to share here.

One of the many lounge areas in The Sands at Nomad, not only a resort and restaurant but a welcoming stopping point for thirsty visitors seeking a spot to relax and unwind either inside the bar or at the tables on the beach where food is also served.

Another lounging area.

It’s odd to admit that I’m dreaming of the next location while still in Kenya.  We promised ourselves we’d live in the moment. The safari spoiled us. It’s not unusual to feel a sense of longing after such a life-changing experience. Wanting more. That’s us, humans. Always wanting more.

The lavish décor, embracing the genuine African theme, is pleasing to the senses throughout the property, including the guest suites as shown in the below photos.

Realizing this dilemma, as we’d mentioned a few days ago, we’ve decided to start getting out more often, dining out three times a week, buying only enough groceries to last for four days, trying at least one new resort each week.

This past Saturday night, the 19th, after the complimentary taxi ride, we walked the short distance to the restaurant, we were enthused to see the property in daylight. Although shortly after 6:00 pm, we’d still have an opportunity to see a few of the suites and peruse the remainder of the property while still light.

Beachgoers lounged at the outdoor tables, drinking and eating pizza.

There were numerous outdoor tables, but we preferred to dine to the left of this area, still outside, still with views of the Indian Ocean but a more elegant environment that we preferred.

The cool ocean breeze off the Indian Ocean had me chilled on a few occasions, definitely something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

These past two Saturday nights, we had the pleasure of dining at The Sands at Nomad, once after dark and the second time at 6:00 pm hoping to take photos while it was still light and of course, see the beach on the Indian Ocean.

On our walk to see the suites, we couldn’t resist stopping to inspect this tree.
Here’s the information about the unusual tree.
Felix, the host for our tour of the suites, took us along a path parallel to the ocean to see the interesting and appealing grounds, a part of which included these private cottages.

These executive cottages couldn’t have been more appealing.

With the help of Claudia, Assistant Manager via email, on both occasions were seated the same perfect ocean front table, now “our table.” Delightful Claudia came to greet us, chatting for a considerable time the first Saturday and this Saturday, her husband Richard, a charming gentleman, stopped for a chatty visit as well.  We couldn’t have felt more welcome.

With our plan to arrive at 6:00 pm, Claudia had arranged for us to have a tour of the property with Felix showing us four suites from the more basic to the finest, photos of which are included here today.

The executive cottages were exquisite, pricey for most travelers but well worth the opportunity to see the interior.
This stairway led to a loft area in one of the executive cottages.

The ambiance of the resort is calming and welcoming, the service impeccable, and the food is fresh, seasoned to perfection with local spices, and presented with the utmost finesse and decoration, befitting the best-schooled chefs.

The appealing grounds inspired a lounge chair, a book and a cool beverage.

A complimentary appetizer is served at each seating consisting of a plate of fried potato skins with a delectable sweet and spicy sauce on the side. With my restrictive diet, I don’t eat potatoes (or any starch) but enjoyed watching Tom eat them (I’ve learned to live vicariously through his eating foods that I cannot).

The suites were lavishly decorated with every possible amenity, including air conditioning, free Wifi and TV’s. 

Nothing was spared in The Sands at Nomad in creating a lush environment for its guests.

A private Jacuzzi was in each of the suites we visited, at varying price ranges.

There were bars and casual dining spots scattered around the complex.

The more luxurious cottages had a private yard and outdoor Jacuzzi, although the less expensive suites also had private Jacuzzis.

An outdoor shower in one of the cottage’s private yards.

African artifacts adorned the suites enhancing the homey feel.

Locally crafted woodwork, all made by hand was breathtaking.
Another cozy lounge area available to resort guests added to the ambiance of this exquisite property.

The first Saturday night, we ordered off the menu. I ordered the most delicate and flavorful grilled calamari of my life, a favorite, as shown in the above photo. Tom ordered a piled high grouping of thin-sliced pork chops atop a bed of grilled vegetables with fried potato wedges on the side.

On Saturday night, our second visit to The Sands at Nomad, we both ordered the buffet as shown on this menu with no limitations on portions.  I passed on the pasta, starches, and desserts, but was able to dine on their many other offerings, all delectable. The price of the buffet at KES $2000 is US $23.52 per person. In Belize, the buffet at Robert’s Grove, which we had most Saturday nights, although overall excellent, was US $35 per person.

This recent Saturday night, the 19th, after our tour of the property, we had beverages at the bar. I had the best unsweetened ice tea ever; frothy, foamy, and refreshing, ordering a second glass once we were seated at our table. Of course, the first night of the waning full moon gave us a mesmerizing ringside seat.

The cooks at the grill were friendly and helpful in assisting us to make our decisions.

This time, we both tried the nightly buffet, a changing cacophony of epicurean delights, predicated by the local catch of the day, seasonal vegetables, and an ever-changing menu. 

Having selected literally every offered julienne vegetable, this was my stir fry with shrimp, calamari, and snapper, topped with a few dashes of soy sauce, the only sauce on the list of 10 that I surmised was truly sugar and grain-free. Regular soy sauce may contain a small amount of wheat that may trigger serious reactions in those with Celiac’s Disease. Since I consider gluten intolerant, the small amount didn’t seem to bother me.  Overall, I’m opposed to consuming foods made with soy, based on its GMO status. But at times, one may choose to go with the flow when little else is available.

The main meat station consisted of a choice of meats and seafood, as much as desired, stir-fried with the wide array of julienne vegetables lined up at the cooking station for our selection.  In essence, it was a Chinese/Japanese type stir fry, cooked to order with a list of no less than 10 sauces from which to choose.

My stir fry with a side of snapper and buttered steamed vegetable. My mouth is watering as I write this. I can’t wait to go back for more of The Sands at Nomad’s fine food.
My salad bar plate with more calamari and octopus, plus a cheese salad, inspiring me to make this for us, plus marinated eggplant, zucchini, and more.

We didn’t partake of the offered beef kabobs, made fresh on the huge Teppanyaki grill, along with the stir fry. We simply had no room. The cooks were attentive and diligent in preparing our dishes exactly as preferred. 

This is the two-sided salad bar with little doors, leaving food chilled and free from flies containing local dishes, none of which contained gluten, grains, starch, or sugar, I had a field day. To order the salad bar as a standalone was KES $700, US $8.23 but it wouldn’t work for me as it was lacking in protein, which I must include with each meal.

In addition, there were two tables filled with more options, including soup, potatoes, rice, noodles, grilled vegetables, Kenyan barbecue pork, and chicken. I tried the chicken to announce to Tom, that if that alone had been my entire dinner along with the vegetables I would have been content.  It was moist, flavorful, and fell off of the bone. 

The most interesting salad bar closed behind individual, easily opening little doors at a glass-windowed cooling station, was irresistible, most of which fit in well with my dietary constraints. (Flour based sauces are seldom used in Kenya by fine chefs. They’ve learned the value of a good reduction sauce which in most cases, I am able to order as a side).

Tom’s plate, including his stir fry with no veggies other than onion and celery, barbecue pork, a side of roasted potatoes, and white rice. He didn’t try the included salad bar, but did go back for seconds and a small dessert consisting of custard with chocolate sauce along with a few mini cream puffs.

Another feature offered by The Sands at Nomad is the complimentary taxi service, which, on both occasions, Gabriel showed up promptly at our guarded gates to pick us up.  The return after dinner was equally seamless.  Of course, we left a good tip. 

As for the cost for both dinners, ordering off the menu on the first Saturday night, our total bill, including tax, tips, and service fees was KES $3932.70, US $46.24. This past Saturday, by ordering the buffet at KES $2000, US $23.52 per person, plus Tom ordered two cocktails as opposed to two beers the first time, our total including tax, tips, and service fees was KES $6650.10, US $78.18. 

This photo was taken from our table at 8:00 pm this Saturday night while dining.

The buffet, in its uniqueness and varied options, maybe a choice we’d made on occasion, with a desire to try other items off of the menu. For me, on our next visit, I must repeat the grilled calamari and octopus as shown in the photo. It was divine.

Overall, The Sands at Nomad has proven to be much more than a restaurant and hotel, but a fine establishment for tourists and locals to visit for a relaxing and luxuriating respite from daily life. 

We offer a special thank you to Claudia and Richard for making us feel welcomed, pampered, and at ease.

We’ll be back… 

Part 1…Le Cafe at Lantana Galu Beach…We’ll be back…

Last night, our waiter at Le Café at Lantana Galu beach offered to take a photo of us. Gee, we’ve lost our tans.

With a solid recommendation from Hans plus numerous excellent reviews on, we decided to try Le Café at Lantana Galu Beach last night for our Saturday dinner date night.

Although only a very short distance, the drive to the property took nearly 10 minutes over the bumpiest road we’ve seen so far in Kenya; unpaved, laden with potholes, definitely not suitable for the queasy.  Heading south on the road outside our property for the first time, we were distracted by the various resorts we’d yet to visit, making the bouncy ride less annoying.

This is the entrance to the main building.  A long walk was required on a poorly lit path in order to reach the restaurant located on the beach. It proved to be well worth the walk.

The excitement of trying a new restaurant each Saturday night creates a refreshing sense of anticipation after a few days of quiet contemplation in our outdoor living room.

With us, there’s always a bit of trepidation of going out. We seldom dined out in our old life. But, this is our new life that includes making the effort to find something to wear and get ourselves out the door.

The waiting area in the lobby of the resort.  Apartments and condos are sold at this resort to later be rented and managed by the company, a similar concept we experienced at LaruBeya where we lived for over two months in Belize.

In every case, once we’re on our way, we smile at each other, thrilled that once again we’ve pushed ourselves to explore, try something new, step further outside the box. We now realize how complacent, we’d become in the past with the comfort of an established routine of staying home.  There’s no room for complacency in our lives now with so much world to see!

As we began the walk outdoors toward the beach, we turned around hoping to capture the main building behind us.
John at the front desk was friendly, welcoming us with much enthusiasm.
As the taxi driver, Chris pulled up to the resort, we were immediately struck by the massive wood security doors opening only after a security guard checked us out, confirmed our reservation and allowing us to enter.  

The long walk through the complex began through this elegant walkway lined with pillars and the most beautiful flowers.  The air was permeated with their intoxicating scent.

The awe-inspiring entrance immediately sets the tone for what we’d anticipated being a special evening. We weren’t disappointed. John, the concierge, pointed us down the flower-covered walkway directing us to follow the long path toward the ocean and the pool where we’d find the restaurant.
What’s with my outfit?  My skirt was wrinkled and misshapen. Do I really have to start ironing again?
Always smiling!  Wrinkled clothes don’t phase him, not his, not mine!
Having seen photos online, we knew if we could find the pool, we’d have reached our destination. After walking for several minutes, we’d begun to wonder if we’d gone the right way. We forged ahead to the sound of the surf which proved to be the perfect guide.
These are the apartment buildings where units are sold to owners for their own use and to rent to tourists, managed by the resort. As we continue on the walk, we passed many smaller buildings with individual condo units. Poorly lit we didn’t want to disturb occupants with our camera flash.
In the US and other countries, there are endless codes and ordinances requiring handrails, lighted walkways, and stable pathways with the intent of reducing injury and accommodating the elderly and/or disabled. 
Le Café is located by this outstanding swimming pool, creatively designed to capture the essence of the subtle Moroccan theme of tranquility and splendor.
In Kenya and many other parts of the world that we’ve visited thus far, no such codes exist or, if they do, they aren’t enforced.  Even the finest establishments are lax in providing ample lighting and stable walking areas when often a long walk is required from the road to the beach.
Notice how the server in this photo was waiting for us. Apparently, John at the front desk had called ahead alerting him to our pending arrival. 
Mindful of this situation, especially after our horrible fall when the steps collapsed beneath us in Belize, we take special precautions when walking on uneven and poorly lit grounds. 
Shortly after we arrived a small group gathered at the far right end of the bar, resulting in lively and animated banter pleasing to hear and see. But the conversation wasn’t lacking at our quiet table for two, with many staff members graciously stopping by to chat and welcome us, as we gushed over our memorable experience.
Both blind, Tom’s mother (sadly lost to us 5 years ago) and brother Jerome resulted in Tom learning to be the perfect guide over rough terrain. Also, after years of working the rough roads in train yards, he’s adept at managing the worst of conditions. Me, the “queen of trip and fall,” always in a hurry until now, paid little mind to what was under my feet.
It was easy to imagine a sunny day lounging in these chairs, dipping in the pool from time to time.
Last night, as we made our way in the dark, my champion at my side, I felt safe and secure that we’d arrive in one piece. Of course, we did, our mouths agape at what we encountered when we arrived at Le Café.
Looking at Tom, as we entered the restaurant, I said, “Even if the food is mediocre, I am happy to be here.” It was that breathtaking! The food was not mediocre!
This footbridge over a portion of the pool was clearly a photo op. I should toss this frumpy shapeless skirt having one less item to pack.
Seated at our table of choice closest to the pool and the beach, the guest’s comfort in this unique establishment was obviously of utmost concern. As we sunk into the exquisite padded chairs we couldn’t help but notice the soft bright white linen tablecloth and the matching napkins, appropriately placed on our laps, as a flurry of discrete activity skittered around us.
Our drink orders filled, the menus delivered at precisely the correct moment, we were greeted by name by the kindly General Manager Gillie, with whom I’d made the reservation online. What a nice touch! Chatting with her for several minutes, we felt welcomed and at home.
These were only two pages of a multiple page menu.
Our waiter, graciously served our needs, answered questions, didn’t bother us too much, somehow knew exactly how we preferred to be served. Later, the restaurant manager stopped by, offering his welcome, asking a few questions about our stay in Kenya, inviting us to return for more lavish care. We will. We absolutely will!
Tomorrow, we’ll post Part 2 (memory issues at this time restrict the number of photos posted at one time) with our menu selections (including the accommodation of my food restrictions) with photos and, the unbelievable pricing for an evening well spent along with the total cost for our evening including taxes, cab fare, and tips.

Part 1…The surf, the sand, walking the beach along of the Indian Ocean…

The sea, the clouds and the mystery of ominous clouds rolling in, left us in awe with our mouths agape.

Wherever we may travel, visiting the ocean has an appeal that leaves us breathless.  However, we’ve hesitated to take the mile long walk from our house to the ocean after we’d discovered upon arrival, that it’s much further than we’d anticipated.

As we approached the exit gate from our neighborhood, Nancy, the daytime guard greeted us both with a warm hug. At night the security is beefed up when more security risks are prevalent.

With numerous warnings about dangers for tourists walking the beaches in Kenya we’ve hesitated to explore these past three weeks.  Approximately, one third of a mile from the entrance gate to our community, is a beach access sign leading to a long rough walking path.  Off we went this morning.

Carrying only a camera, bottled water and a small amount of money, we began the long never-seeming-to-end walk toward the sea.

On the walk to the beach access, these two women were carrying what appeared to be heavy loads atop their heads, a common site in Kenya.

After no less than 15 minutes of carefully maneuvering over rocks, pots holes, tall grass and uneven ground, we suddenly felt a cooler breeze wash over us in the scorching heat while hearing the roaring sound of the sea.  It was 5 1/2 months ago that we walked the beach in Belize.

Reaching the beginning of the beach access, it was impossible to see how far we’d have to walk to reach the sea. This lonely stretch would be dangerous to travel at night, which of course, we won’t do, always taking a cab to dine at any of the restaurants along the coast.

My breath caught in my throat as my eyes beheld the beauty, pristine, uncluttered with debris, a vast landscape of pure beauty.  Thankfully, the tide was low. We’d forgotten to check online having heard that walking on the beach was impossible at high tide as the water rose to the walls protecting the various hotels, resorts and private properties.

In places, the path to the beach was filled with flowers.

Unfortunately, clouds rolled in minutes after our feet hit the sand. Neither of us concerned about being rained on, we trekked on, determined to take advantage of the time and effort it took to arrive.  We weren’t disappointed.

 Bougainvillea flourish with little water and no care.  They are everywhere including the narrow path to the beach.

Sensitive to the risks along the beach, we engaged in the friendly Swahili greeting, “jambo” with the local peddlers who approached us on several occasions. We politely declined their vigorous enticements to get us to purchase their locally crafted wares.  We have neither use nor inclination toward trinkets being added to our already heavy bags.

At points, the path felt like any walkway in any neighborhood in the US where flowers grow in abundance.

Most of the peddlers were members of the Maasi tribe, a friendly group of people, dressed in elaborate colorful garb that is appealing to the eye.  Of course, I’d have liked to take a photo of their tribal dress. But we knew that doing so would require payment, make us appear as more potential prey and give off a signal of “Hey, we’re tourists.”

The variations in color always catch our attention.

After walking on the beach for 15 minutes, we reached the area where the hotels and resorts are located with each of their own groups of guards, appropriately dressed in military-type uniforms, diligently guarding the beachfront access, protecting both inside and potential outside guests.

At long last, we reached the end of the path.  We were thrilled to have the sea in front of us once again.  We didn’t take time to take photos of each other.  Pouring sweat in the outrageous humidity and heat, neither of us were “photo ready.”

Recently, we’d read online about a restaurant and resort, Madafoo’s that has free wifi to anyone that makes a purchase at their outdoor restaurant and bar. Checking it out for future reference proved to be ideal. Welcomed heartily as we entered the guarded gates, we felt determined to make a weekly visit a part of our plans.

As we exited the path to the beach this was our first view to the right of us. Continuing on we chose to go to the left where we knew we’d find the numerous resorts and hotels.
Miles of sandy beach stretched in front of us.  The white sand was the softest sand we’d ever walked, our feet sinking in several inches with each step.  As a result, walking was laborious, especially in the heat and humidity.  This didn’t deter us.  We forged ahead.

We enthusiastically talked that starting next Wednesday and every Wednesday going forward, we could arrange for a taxi ride to Madafoo’s, carrying our laptops and plug ins in a bag in order to spend several hours dining for either breakfast or lunch, using the free Internet and partaking of their comfortable padded chaise lounges, positioned to face the sea. 

Numerous fisherman were attempting the “catch of the day” to later be sold to the resorts  and restaurants along the Diani Beach coastline.
It appeared that a few of the small boats were unattended with traps set.
Bigger than the largest dog’s footprint, we were baffled as to the origin of this massive print. Any ideas out there?

Upon inquiring, the staff explained that we are welcomed to use the chaise lounges, the plug ins and their free wifi should we dine in their restaurant at any time. For Kenya Shillings $3100, US $35.47, we can dine on any item on the menu, pay for cab fare both ways, including tax and tips. 

A young Maasi member walked in front of us on the beach, surely weighing  no more than 80-90 pounds left this huge indentations in the sand.

Increasing our outings away from our house adds greatly to the enjoyment of our remaining time in Kenya.  Thus, with dining out on Saturday nights experiencing a new restaurant each week, grocery shopping on Tuesdays mornings and now a trip to Madafoo’s each Wednesday (either morning or afternoon), we find ourselves with more planned activities to anticipate. This is good.

The first private residence we encountered on the walk along the beach.

With ample dollars factored into our budget for dining out, its unnecessary to make any changes to the overall budget. Plus, we’d budgeted US $1000 for cab rides during our three month stay which would translate into taking a cab six out of seven days a week, highly unnecessary and unlikely. 

The savings at three times a week more than pays for the cost of the food, tax and tips at Madafoo’s on all Wednesdays going forward.

As we sat at a comfortable table drinking a beverage, engaged in the pleasing views while perusing their various menus items, we were content that this place is ideal for us. Hopefully, while visiting Madafoo’s  in the future, we’ll be able to download a few of our data hogging shows, further reducing the cost of the scratch off SIM cards. 

This hut was located at The Sails Restaurant, part of the Almanara Resort where we dined almost four weeks ago, still #1 on our favorites list.

Walking back a few hours later, we stopped at the local produce stand purchasing four eggplants and a bag of carrots at a total cost of US $1.14. Sweaty but invigorated from our walk, we were both happy to return to remove our sand filled shoes, to make a fresh glass of something cold and to continue our daily power lounging in our outdoor living room.

The waves were generally this size but occasionally, we saw a surfing worthy wave.
Bathers tentatively wading out into the sea, appearing mindful of the undertow and possible jellyfish and stingrays, less common here than on the beaches of Belize.

That’s it for today folks. With more photos than we can post in one day, we’ll return tomorrow with Part 2.

Out on the town…A feast to be had…

Although most of the items on the menu were seafood related, most of which Tom doesn’t enjoy, he was thrilled to find some options that would be pleasing to his limited palate.

When asking locals as to best the restaurants in an area to try, thoughtfully they will suggest their familiar haunts, in their preferred price range and with the food that satisfies their own palate.  Although, we take suggestions to heart, we have our limitations to consider; my food restrictions and Tom’s somewhat limited taste buds.

For me, the menu was purely delightful.  It was difficult to decide when not a single option would be undesirable for me.

As a result, we have to be more creative.  With Tom’s mindset that he likes “all-American food” with minimal spices, he never ceases to amaze me when he tries new items when dining out or in the past, aboard ship.

In Kenya and as is typical all over Africa, many of the meals are heavily seasoned, fried, barbecued and with ingredients unsuitable for either of us.  Thus, being a little more creative, researching local restaurants and their often posted menus gives us a better idea to avoid disappointment.

This photo, from the Almanara Resort’s website is the lounge area adjoining the dining area.  Our photo didn’t turn out so well in the dark.  This area was emptywhen we arrived but full by the time we left a few hours later.

Of course, there’s a higher cost to more “continental cuisine,” an expense we are willing to bear in order to be able to enjoy a night out.  After the glorious experience of Saturday night, we’ve officially decided on Saturday nights as our official date night to try the suitable restaurants in the area. 

Many of the establishments are within walking distance. However, as the sun goes down by 6:30, the dangers of walking on the highway in the dark are many. A local cab driver, Chris, picked us up at 7:00, waiting for the restaurant to call him for our return, picking us up later in the evening. The cost for the round trip cab ride was KES $1100, US $12.59 which includes the tip. Not too bad.

This complimentary appetizers presented by the chef was out of the question for me. It was fried seaweed and stuff puff pastries, all made with flour.  However, much to my surprise, Tom ate all of it, finding it very tasty.  I think his limited taste buds “song and dance” is purely psychological when I see him enjoy new items.

With no phone we could use Skype to call the cab.  But as we inquired to our nighttime security guard, Jeremiah, he immediately called a programmed number in his phone and shortly later cab driver Chris arrived to take us to Sails Restaurant at the Almanara Resort.  

Both Chris and Jeremiah seemed excited that we wanted to go to the Almanara Resort when recently, the Kenyan president stayed in one of their luxurious suites. After dining at their own Sails Restaurant we understood why. The property was exquisite, the food amazing, the service impeccable and the security, over the top.

After Tom ate the seaweed, he didn’t want to spoil his dinner with another appetizer.  I ordered this salad, gluten free and the chef made the sauce without flour using a homemade mayonnaise base. There were no less than 8 large prawns in this salad.  In reality, this could easily have been my entire meal and I’d have been satisfied.  Look below for the huge entrée I also consumed in it entirety.  Piglet.

As Chris drove up to the massive gates at the Almanara Resort, we were impressed by the crisp uniforms, muscular build and confidence of the guards. Approaching the cab, he asked our names and nature of our visit.  Having luckily made a reservation online for 7:00 PM, he carefully reviewed his list of reservations and waved us through, opening the massive gates by hand.

Once we entered the property, another guard approached and directed Chris where to stop to drop us off. Chris had begun to walk us toward the restaurant area, only to be dismissed by the new guard to stay put, while he would escort us to the restaurant, a short two minute walk, on a well lit but uneven road. Thank goodness, I was wearing flat sandals. 

This amazing array of seafood was all grilled and seasoned to perfection. It contained lobster, prawns, octopus, squid, snapper and a few  chewy wormy looking items I didn’t recognize but ate anyway.  Need I say that I cleaned this plate as well?

Based on the road, neither of us was expecting much.  In the dark with the soft lighting surrounding the resort, we could only see lush vegetation and the outline of several substantial bungalows. Apparently, their rentals are “house sized suites” at varying costs of $1000’s per night. 

If the water stops running here, as it did in our first house in Belize, we won’t be moving to Almanara Resort as we did to LaruBeya where we stayed for over two months (see posts from end of February, 2013 to April 9, 2013 for photos and details).

Once seated, at this exact table as depicted in the daylight photo below from their website, we couldn’t have been more content, as shown by our lavish plates of epicurean delights.

 Tom’s dinner consisted of Fillet Mignon, fries, grilled vegetables.  He kept insisting that I try a taste of his steak, finally taking a bite of tender well seasoned meat.  He also, ate every morsel.

A few hours later, stuffed “to the gills,” we were ready to head back to our home to watch a movie on my laptop in bed under the mosquito netting. 

Apparently, we were told, our cab driver Chris waited for us in his original parking spot during our entire dinner. We tipped him well appreciating the great service for this short cab ride.

Our bill for dinner? Much less than one would pay in the US and other countries for fine food and service. Tom had a US $10 marguerite and a giant bottle of Pilsner beer while I had two bottles of fizzy mineral water. Add my appetizer and our two lavish entrees, the total bill was KES $5400, US $61.80, included VAT tax and 18% service charge (built in tip). 

We borrowed this daylight photo from the resort’s website.  It was dark as we were seated at this table.  Our photo didn’t do it justice.

Based on the quality of the service and Tom’s lack of change, we gave the waiter an additional KES $1000, US $11.44. Dinner, cab fare, tax and tips totaled KES $7500, US $85.83.  Having budgeted US $100 per week for dining out, we were on target. If, we find other restaurants at a lower cost, we’ll use the difference to offset the extra SIM cards we must purchase to be able to download our TV shows.

It was adult son’s birthday prompting us to call him on Skype. The cost for the call is free but the data use is huge which now is monitored. He and the grandkids were in their pool in their yard.  Daughter-in-law Camille turned on the speakerphone enabling us to speak with both of them and the 3 grandkids.  

Of course, we miss all four of our children, their significant others and our six precious grandchildren. In fifteen months, we’ll all be together again. 

Daughter Tammy’s birthday was Sunday but we were unable to reach her last night and will try again soon. 

Later watching Ironman 3, we drifted off to sleep, safely tucked away in our comfy bed with the secure mosquito netting, the fan at full speed above the bed for yet another restorative night’s sleep to arm us for the next day at home, batting off the mosquito.

We’d intended to write about the restaurant experience on Saturday night for Sunday’s post.  When the monkeys ran through the yard, we couldn’t wait one day to share that story so we flip flopped them. Makes sense, right

Part 2…It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…Too many photos for one post…See yesterday for Part 1…New chaise lounges…

Our new chaise lounges on our patio. Later in the day the sun will  be in a better position for sunning. Grazie, Lisa and Luca!

Before we continue with the story of our exploring walk in the neighborhood, I wanted to express how grateful we are to Lisa and Luca, the property owners of our home in Boveglio. They have bent over backwards to ensure our visit is everything we’d expected and more.

 A few days ago, we posted the photo of the cemetery at the church where the larger clock tower is located.  Here again, from another perspective. We had walked for quite some time on the hilly narrow roads but surprisingly we weren’t very far away as the crow flies.  For example, it took us almost 40 minutes to get to Pescia last week but in fact, its a mere 11 miles from Boveglio.

Yesterday, I asked Luca by email (which he translates to Italian) if they had two chaise lounge chairs we could us on our own patio as opposed to those at the far end of the property enclosed in a small patio that has a tremendous amount of bees and wasps. 

Many restaurants, bars and shop’s hour are different than in the US, many taking long breaks during midday.  This little pub apparently, only closes for lunch, then ending its day at 7:00 PM, perfect for the happy hour crowd, if there is a crowd.

The blooming flowers, which are lovely to see and smell attract the bees, making our hour of sunning less enjoyable, especially for me, more allergic than Tom. 

The BAR Ferrari, the local pub we stumbled across on our extensive walk in the neighborhood.  The bar was located in the “square” a miniature version of various “squares” we walked in Venice, most certainly nothing like St. Mark’s.

Inside the house, we’ve exercised caution without screens in keeping the flying stinging insects at bay as much as possible. Of course, we have multiple EpiPens with us in the event either of us is stung.

Soon, we’ll visit this bar at happy hour.  It didn’t appear that they carry Tom’s preferred beverage of choice, Courvoisier but most assuredly, he’ll find an alternative, if only a beer.

The view of our familiar church and clock tower from the veranda at the pub.  lose and yet far away.

 How exciting it is that we now have a local pub we can frequent, as long as Tom can make it back up the hills to our home, with a few cocktails under his belt.

Leaving the square, we began our climb back up, trying in vain, to find a less strenuous path for one of those nights after happy hour at the pub.

The hour of sunning a few times a week provides us with a healthy dose of Vitamin D and a bit of color with no sunburn. Plus, under normal circumstances, its fun to lay out, chatting away, reading our books on our Kindle apps on our smart phones.

Trying this path proved to be a dead end after a steep climb on irregular stone steps.  Back down we went, to try again.

This morning, while Tom slept in (an oddity), I heard the doorbell buzz at 9:00 am.  There stood Lisa’s parents at the door, each holding a brand new chaise lounge, price tags still attached.  Not only had they honored our request but they purchased new chaises.

Leave it to Tom to notice the build up of creosote in this chimney.  I’m checking out the flowers and design and he’s looking at maintenance issues. 

After many nods and numerous “grazie,” I placed the chairs inside, anxious to show Tom. Immediately, I ran to my computer to write to Lisa and Luca, thanking them for the chairs, saying “old” would have been fine but “new” was more than we could have asked. Could they be more thoughtful? Their kindness enriches our time in Boveglio.

Tom was the first to notice this pretty entrance which is actually an operating hotel.
These steps were more steep than they appear in this photo.  Puff! Pant! Puff! Pant!
Zooming in and looking up, we realized we had a lot more climbing ahead of us to get back. We walked up many steps to get to this inclining ramp.
We neared the ramp by climbing many steep steps.
Once again, we were on level ground for a few minutes.
More steps up and into a tunnel.
All of a sudden, another shrine appeared with a tub of two faucets running constantly with what appeared to be clean water, used by the residents.
What appeared to be fresh running water at the shrine, collecting in this large basin.
We came across this tall narrow house.  Can you imagine the steps inside this property? Its no wonder Italians appear so slim and fit!
Another tucked away shrine.
Another old carving of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

As we worked our way between the houses on the narrow walkways, we realized there was much more yet to discover which we’ll save for another day.With plenty of groceries to last through next week and the weather perfect at 80 degrees, the lavender beginning to bloom, we have literally no desire to go anywhere. 

This house looks free standing but it’s attached to other houses.

The $850 a month rental car sits unused in the parking lot assigned to the residents. I guess that’s all a part of “living” for periods of time in new and interesting locals. 

 The walkways although old and worn in spots are clean and well maintained.  Its evident that homeowners take pride in their neighborhood.

When we “lived” in our old lives, we didn’t go sightseeing every week (or ever for that matter), we paid for car payments, insurance, maintenance while our cars sat idly in our driveway on days off. 

This ramp was awkward to maneuver.  One must continually look down when walking to avoid falling on the uneven walkways.

We enjoyed our time at home, with or without visits from family and friends, doing what we loved to do, whatever that may have been at the moment. 

As we were nearing the far end of our yard, Tom looked for an access point without success, hoping to discover a shortcut.

One might argue, “Well, you won’t be in Italy forever. Better see it while you’re there.” That’s true and we’ve seen so much more so far than we’d have seen if we’d been on a two week vacation. And, we’ll see more soon, and we promise to share it all here.

The flag hanging on the veranda reminded us that the US holiday, the 4th of July, is tomorrow.  It will be the first time in either of our lives that we won’t be celebrating: no family and friends visiting, no flags, no flag cake, no long weekend, no barbecue, no big bowls of an array of salads, no water balloons and no fireworks.

We hope your summer day is warm, sunny and peaceful and that tomorrow, on the 4th of July (for those in the US), have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

An outing in Dubai…Short and pleasant…Still sick…

The smog and sand are evident in this photo we took from our rental of Atlantis at Palm Jumeriah.  Again today, the air is thick and the sky overcast.
Venturing out onto the street we wondered if the huge number of towering buildings are actually occupied. New construction continues in Dubai in light of the world’s tough economic conditions.

In a perfect world, we’d already be buzzing around Dubai checking out the sights and sounds of this unique city. 

In my “old life” I squirmed in elevators.  No more!  We can’t wait to go to Burj Khalifa to the observation deck on the 124th floor.  Our current “home” is on the 47th floor, taking about 30 seconds.  The entire elevator is mirrored.  Our building is newer, conveniently located with the finest décor and amenities.  We’re content here for yet another 11 days until we fly back to Barcelona (our first flight since departing Minnesota 7 months ago).

Alas, the virus I contracted on the ship has left me too weak to get out much as I recover a little each day. It finally has turned the corner after an entire week of uncomfortable symptoms. So we ventured out for a short time taking these few photos. More will follow in the days to come.

Can’t wait to feel well enough to use the well equipped gym in our building.
This is one of several pools at our building.  There’s a full-sized private pool in each of the locker rooms with lifeguards on duty at all time.  The guy in this photo is the outdoor pool lifeguard.
The pool in the ladies locker room with yet another in the men’s.
Walking through the construction zone, we found this restaurant located in the Tamani Hotel where we had an elegant breakfast and reasonably good coffee.
Tom busily perused the menu, doing the math in his head to convert prices from dirhams to US.  Yes, it was pricier than Denny’s but well worth the $35 we spent for our breakfast.
US $1 is $.37 AED, thus a $30 appetizer is US $8.17.  With an app on our phone, it’s convenient to calculate the difference.
We both had the same breakfast, omelet with cheese (mine also with veggies), beef bacon, turkey sausages, sautéed mushroom and roasted tomatoes.  Those little green sticks are the tiniest baby asparagus I’ve ever seen.  I ate Tom’s, of course.
Le Meridian Hotel across the road from our building.

Hopefully, the sun comes out today encouraging us to spend an hour at the pool. Perhaps, the warm air, cool pool water and some power lounging will return me to my usual energetic self. 

Last night out to dinner in Belize…Packing…Photos…

Hopefully, our new camera takes better night photos Tom standing outside Mango’s last night.
Last night we went to Mango’s a popular local bar and restaurant with our friend Bill from Minnesota. We headed to Maya Beach, a five-minute drive north of us. Bill has wheels. Tom, Bill, and I headed out around 6:00 PM.
Mango’s menu had several good options.

On the way, we stopped at a nearby grocery store to look for contact lens solutions. No such luck. With only five more nights until we board the Carnival Liberty in Belize City, I’ve decided that if I run out of solution, I’ll sleep in my contacts, using eye drops in the mornings.

 The backside of Mango’s menu.

Once aboard the ship, it should be easy to find the solution.  Most certainly, the tiny drugstore in Placencia village has the solution. As I mentioned earlier, paying the $25 round trip cab fare doesn’t make sense. If each time we run out of an item incurring additional expenses to procure it, the budget can get out of control. That’s a situation we’d like to avoid.

Over the two-plus months we’ve lived in Belize, we heard many comments about Mango’s reputation as a fun spot for locals to hang out at the bar and dine on delicious fresh food cooked to order by their locally famous chef, Rachel Welch

Look at the size of Tom’s Margarita.  Add that smile for a winning combo.  He had two of these monstrosities.

Yes, her name is Rachel Welch, as in the US actress.  Apparently, when people starting talking about her name, she had no clue who Rachel Welch was. By now, she is familiar with her namesake.  It has become a local point of humor. She’s a native of Belize with long dreadlocks and looks nothing like Rachel Welch. Regardless of whose name she similarly bears, Rachel is a great cook. 

Me and my club soda and lime.  Cocktails would be more fun!

I had one of the best meals I’d had while dining out while in Belize. Ordering the special of the day, an 8-ounce grass-fed burger the waitress looked at me in amazement. She looked inquisitively at me asking, “Do you know that’s a full half-pound of meat?”

I chuckled, “Yes, I do!  Bring it on!” She shook her head, surprised by my answer, wondering if, in fact, I’d eat the entire thing. I did.

The quaint restaurant was hopping.

The burger was stuffed and topped with grilled onions, mushrooms, and blue cheese (minus the bun) along with a generous portion of the most amazing sautéed vegetables. Bill and Tom had the same. The total bill for the night was Belize $132 with tip, which is US $66.

The place was hopping with lively conversation with a seemingly constant flow of customers. Looking around while sitting at our three-person table, Tom and I acknowledge that we would have enjoyed coming here on a regular basis. 

However, based on the prices, although reasonable, we could easily have spent US $70 a week with cab fare if we’d stopped in once a week, resulting in an added expense of approximately $800 for our time in Belize. With the added expense we incurred for rent when moving to LaruBeya on February 5, 2013, the money we’d lost on the last property, we had to forego unplanned expenses. 

Mango’s bar, a favorite haunt for locals.

It’s all part of the process. We never want to be in a position whereby we’re overrunning our budget having to “dip into” other resources. At that point, we’d be forced to “settle down” a decision we’d prefer not to make under duress if at all possible. 

Yesterday afternoon, we began the process of printing our boarding passes and cruise documents with the support of LaruBeya’s customer service desk who gladly agreed to print all of our documents on their printer.  Tom felt uncomfortable using our thermal paper portable printer for these documents, me less so. 

With the five sets of cruise documents printed and placed into our “Cruise Documents” manila envelope, kept in one of our two computer bags, we’re good to go. The documents for our upcoming 6th cruise in this time period, scheduled to sail on June 4th, are yet to be available online for printing with 63 days until the sailing. 

If we can’t get them printed prior to leaving here next Tuesday, we’ll print them in the computer center on one of the other cruises. Hopefully, in time the cruise lines will use electronic documents only. The unnecessary page after page of printed material is wasteful and pointless.  Surprisingly, Carnival only required a one-page boarding pass, in itself, progress. 

Now, back to packing.  Instead of packing all at once, we’re doing it in bite-sized pieces each day. This time it’s more complicated than it will be in the future.  After all, we’re packing three large suitcases with belongings we’re saying goodbye to for what may prove to be a very long time. 

As we’ve discovered how difficult it is to find contact lens solution, perhaps I wasn’t so nuts after all, packing a two year’s supply of products we frequently use. At the time, I thought the solution could easily be replaced. Not so the case.

We continue on in five more days.

We’ve been stood up…Does it matter?…

The sun reflecting on the water this morning.
Every Wednesday morning our cab driver, Estevan, has arrived promptly at 9:00 am to take us to the village to do our grocery shopping, which includes a trip to the vegetable stand.

Arising this morning at 6:30, we hopped out of bed, anxious to start our and tidy up before the maids arrive. They’re scheduled to clean our villa Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 9:00 am. They seldom arrive within three to four hours of 9:00 am, always sweet and apologetic for the delay. We don’t mind. Its the Belizean way.    

Today, windy but cool and less humid.

Also, this morning, we’d invited a lovely couple we met, Lori and Larry, for coffee at 8 am, before we’d take off with Estevan at 9. They have been staying in one of the hotel rooms at LaruBeya and their coffee pot is not quite as good as ours. 

This is their last morning here before moving to the Singing Sands Resort where we’d had Valentine’s night dinner, located about five miles north in Maya Beach, owned by our neighboring resort, Robert’s Grove.  With Easter week and spring break upon us, most resorts are totally booked, including ours resulting in the necessity of Lori and Larry moving to Singing Sands.

Saturday night, we joined Lori and Larry for dinner in the village, riding along in their rented golf cart.  It was a pleasant evening of idle chatter with yet another friendly couple from Canada.  The dinner was mediocre with small portions and no alcohol service so we ended up at a cute little ice cream shop called Tutti Fruitti, a favorite for tourists and locals alike.  

Tutti Frutti: hand cranked - doesn't get any better!
The ice cream display at Tutti Fruitti, a quaint ice cream shop in the village of Placencia.
Looking at the colorful array of luscious flavors, I sighed, knowing this was not for me although I did get a fair share of “voyeur” action watching Tom savor his plastic cup of chocolate chip mint, a former favorite of mine.  Oh, well

Recently, Tom and I decided we’ll only write restaurant reviews here in our blog that are favorable. As we’ve come to know and appreciate the people of Belize, and due to our huge readership worldwide, we feel it is unfair to “bash” a local restaurant, which ultimately may cause them a loss of business. 

There are plenty of other candid reviews online that that tourist can read to form their personal decisions. Who knows? Perhaps it was an off night. Perhaps the chef was under the weather or perhaps, they were running out of food, resulting in the minuscule portions. Why complain? Why fill ourselves with negative energy when there is so much positivity surrounding us?

Another unusual piece of driftwood near our villa.

When this morning our new friends had overslept and didn’t arrive until 8:30 for coffee, with more apologies than necessary, the maids showed up at 8:32 and… Estevan stood us up for the first time as we waited around for an hour fully dressed and ready to go.  We looked at one another and shrugged. Oh well.
It just didn’t matter.

If our van driver doesn’t get us to our ship in time for departure, that would matter.  If we arrive at a vacation rental for which we’ve paid in advance and there’s a vacant lot at the address, that would matter.

But, the rest?  Nah.  We’ve chosen a path in our lives that is wrought with the potentiality of rampant human error, bad service, bad food, late schedules,  document issues, collapsed steps, and more.  How we handle these scenarios defines our depth and breadth of our experiences. 

We chose happiness. Tolerance is the price one pays for happiness. A small price to pay.

Party Time in Placencia, Belize…

Gunter, the chef, baker and purveyor of fine foods at Mathieu’s deli.

Who knew that less than one week after moving into our ocean front villa at Laru Beya that we’d be going to a local party?  Yep, that’s us, social butterflies. 

An element of our ability to travel the world is wrapped up in our combined enjoyment of meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, ultimately making new friends.

After our first friends, Kari and Stu from Canada left Friday morning off to visit another island and then head home, we’d planned dinner Friday night with our favorite newlywed couple, Pam and Jerry, who’d invited us to join us.  

Last night was their last night in Placencia and they too were heading off to another resort in Belize for the remainder of their honeymoon.

The marina at Habanero’s/Mathieu’s.

Early in the afternoon Pam, a long time resident of Belize and a US citizen, came dashing over to our veranda as we lounged after a long walk on the beach.  Her enthusiasm along with the bounce in her step, led us to anticipate she had something exciting to tell us. 

“We’re invited to a party!”  she blurted. 

“We?”  I questioned hoping that the invitation did indeed include us.

“Yes,” she babbled, “all of us are invited to a wine and cheese party across the street at Mathieu, a quaint bakery attached to Habanero, our close and favorite Tuesday night Mexican buffet spot.

“Its at 4:00 pm. Would you like to go with us?”  she questioned with eyebrows raised.

More boats at the marina.

Tom and I looked at each other for a moment reverting to our “old selves” thinking of a reason “why not?”  But our “new selves” chimed in simultaneously,
“Yes, we’d love to!  We’ll look for you there at 4:00 pm sharp!”

Pam smiled wide.  We’re going to a party!

Planning to attend the party for a few hours returning to our respective villas to get ready for the evening and drive the five mile distance to De Tatch, a local eatery consisting of multiple little huts on the beach and one large thatch hut, known for its traditional Belizean food and juicy imported steaks (I prefer the local grass fed meat).

Arriving promptly at 3:55, we grabbed a rattan table for four with comfy padded chairs, seeing few people.  Tom and I looked at each other surely thinking the same thing, “Where are all the guests?  Not much of a party.”  No wine, no cheese was in sight.

Nice catamaran!

Within minutes, we found Pam and Jerry, happy to find us.  We all reveled in how thoughtful promptness is, as we gathered around the table, looking around the sparse area. 

In a flurry of activity, the Belizean way, the area filled with locals, expats, tourists and us, leaving us feeling excited and included in what proved to be a delightful experience as you can see from the attached photos.

Cheese being served at the party. Ian Anderson, the cheese maker, manufacturing cheese made in Belize, is the gentleman serving cheese. 

Frosty lasses of fresh squeezed pineapple juice was poured all around. (None for me.  No sugar here.  No problem.) The imported red and white wine flowed freely and the food…much more than cheese. 

Servers passed trays of appetizers including many locally grown fruit, hand carved imported deli meats, Bruschetta made with locally grown tomatoes piled atop breads made right there at the Matthieu Deli plus a wide array of the most amazing cheeses actually made right here in Belize at the resort, owned by Ian Anderson, featured in the photo above.

Breads served a appetizer table.  Drool worthy.

The cheese making factory is located in Ian’s resort, Caves Branch in Cayo District. Its by far the best cheese we’ve ever eaten.  The proceeds from the sales goes to an organization for the betterment of Belizean children.  What an amazing operation.

Tom tried a few small slices of the amazing breads, as he has from time to time when we’ve dined out recently with no adverse effects, when eaten in moderation. None for me.  

Our newlywed friends, Pam and Jerry, as the area fills with party-goers.

Gunter, the chef, baker and cheese purveyor, a charming salt and pepper haired man from Germany was busy making platter after platter of his delectable delights.  The servers were darting in and out of the congested gatherings of party goers with platters in hand, serving generous portions. 

The cheese was to die for.  Immediately after tasting four or five of the cheeses, I dashed off to the counter in the deli, credit card in hand hoping to purchase a few of our favorites. 

Tom calls me a “food voyeur.”  So true!

Alas, in the Belizean way, they didn’t have any to sell.  This truly was a party!  It wasn’t a promotion to sell cheese.  I drilled Gunther, “When can we come back and buy some of these cheese?” 

“Come back tomorrow,” he proudly stated, “It should be here tomorrow.”

This morning when the maid arrived to clean our villa, (love having a maid twice a week), Tom and I walked over to the deli, hoping to find the cheeses in stock. 

With limited options at the grocery store, it will be a treat to snack on a variety of cheeses as dessert which I learned to enjoy after dinner aboard the Celebrity Century cruise ship.

Tom, wrapped up in lively animated conversation!

Alas, most of the cheeses we loved were available and we happily spent US $72.00 for a variety.  The blue cheese hadn’t arrived yet giving us a good excuse to meander to the deli (a seven minute walk) again in the next few days. 

While there this morning, we chatted with Gunter and Ian, both of whom were more than willing to visit with us.  Ian invited us to his cheese factory in Cayo District, an hour and a half hour drive from here.  This definitely is an option for the near future when we’ll rent a vehicle for a few days.

After the party, we headed back to our villa, changed for the evening and met Pam and Jerry by the pool for a 10 minute drive to the village for dinner.  Already full from cheese, I couldn’t imagine having dinner until I saw grilled conch on the menu.  Since arriving in Belize I’d longed for conch but, each time it appeared on a menu it was batter fried, not for me.

Tom ordered the imported rib eye steak, seasoned well but, thin and tough.  My conch, chewy as anticipated, was delicious.  Seated in the large thatched hut with literally no breeze, the no-see-ums were feasting on us.  Shortly after eating our long overdue dinners and many rounds of interesting conversation, we headed back to LaruBeya.

Saying goodbye to Pam and Jerry, knowing we won’t see them again, left us a little sad.  All of our new friends were gone.  But, today is another day.  The pool will start calling us in a few hours for our hour of sun and fun.  Without a doubt, in the next few days we’ll make new friends and begin once again. 

This, my friends, is the intended nature of our new lives “wafting through our world wide travels with ease, joy and simplicity.”

Splurging on dining out this past week plus the cost of the cheese, put us over on our budget by $30.  Thus, we’ve decided to dine in tonight and tomorrow roasting the two free range organic chickens we’d purchased on Wednesday. 

Right now the two chickens are marinating in the refrigerator.  With a small piece of cabbage left along with our ample supply if huge whole organic carrots, I’ll make a batch of coleslaw (sugar free, of course),  roasted garlic and roasted carrots to accompany our diinner. 

Homemade food sounds especially good right now.  For dessert, we’ll enjoy a platter of the Belizean made cheeses.  Thanks Ian.  Thanks Gunter.  We’ll surely see you again!

Be warm.  Be well wherever you may be.