What’s the deal about applying for visas for various countries?…

Fisherman casting toward the huge surf.
Long ago, we applied for second passports, which basically consists of a US two year second passport with different passport numbers from our main passports. Most US travelers aren’t aware that a US citizen can apply for a second passport.

Why did we need a second passport? Two years ago, it was necessary to send in one’s passport to a consulate in order to get visas from some countries. We didn’t want to be stranded in a country without a passport in our possession while a visa was being processed through snail mail. 

Tourists stopping to read a sign on the Kauai Path. Notice the cross on the shore, most likely as a memorial to a swimmer’s death in the sea in this area.

Over these past few years, most countries have since begun issuing electronically produced visas for travelers to their country, making it unnecessary for us to send it in to acquire a new visa.

Over these past two years we’ve used these second passports for all of our entries and exits to about 40 countries, resulting in our main passports, which don’t expire until 2021, having no stamps posted as yet.

In December, the second passports expired. As a result of the use of electronic filing for visas, we decided not to renew it. When we soon leave the US, for the first time we’ll use our 10 year passports.

Tiny green balls growing along the beach appear to be some type of weed.
How have we been able to get visas in all of our travels to date? We’ve been able to acquire 90-day visas when we arrive at immigration at any airport, train station or port. The ease of this was surprising to us. 

This easy process doesn’t apply to every country’s immigration process. For some odd reason, US passport holders seem to be presented with an easier process to enter and exit most countries.

If you have a passport from any other country, please check with your travel agent, passport office, immigration or consulate for the country you’d like to enter to determine the process applicable to your country’s passport in regard to obtaining visas. This can vary from country to country.

The Kauai Path is an easy to walk path along Donkey Beach and other beaches.

Thus far, for us, its been a breeze. When traveling to multiple countries via a cruise ship, the immigration staff aboard the ship collects all of our passports. When we arrive at a particular port of call, an immigration officer boards the ship and processes all of the passenger’s and ship staff’s passports for entry and exit.  

Prior to reaching a country’s port, our passports are returned to us, in most cases which we bring with us on our tour whether arranged by the ship or a self guided tour. 

There’s never a shortage of roosters wandering about.

When arriving in a country, we wait in what is usually a long line at immigration processing, tell the agent how long we’d like to stay and as long as the stay doesn’t exceed their set duration of 60 or 90 days, we receive a dated stamp providing us with a visa which is stamped in our passports.

Australia, where we’ll be arriving in little over a month on June 11th after an 18 day cruise from Honolulu, Oahu to Sydney, Australia requires a pre-arranged visa before entering. If we arrived at our ship without processing the visas the cruise line wouldn’t allow us to board. 

The wind and waves were substantial on Monday which has since settled down. 

In reality, a more stringent process may be wise for most countries to follow for obvious reasons I won’t get into here. Here’s a quote from Tom:

“When we applied for our driver’s license in Nevada before we left the US, they asked me to take off my glasses when they took the photo.  I said that I needed to wear my glasses to drive. They said it’s not for that reason. This is a facial recognition photo. Why isn’t this technology used for passports?”

Good point! Why isn’t it?

Last night, we visited CIBT at this link. In less than 10 minutes, with our passports and a credit card on hand, I completed the online documents separately for each of us and our individual visas for Australia were processed, completed and confirmed at a cost of US $45 each.

This view at the Kauai Path is similar to the views we had from the two houses we rented on the Big Island in December.

(By the way, once we arrive in Australia, we’ll be entering all dollar amounts posted here in both USD and AUD (Australian dollars) as we ‘ve done in all other countries which use a alternate form of currency).

The visa process will be slightly more complicated for some of our upcoming stays including both Fiji and Bali.  We’ll report back the processes for those. 

The vast expanse of the ocean never disappoints.

Our Australian visas were issued last night for which we won’t need a piece of paper. It’s recorded electronically in the Australian immigration department’s system and will appear when we check in at immigration at Sydney.  The visas are good for one year until June 10, 2016. 

With our visa on file in Australia we’re allowed 90 day visits only and in one year we’d have to file again which may be more complicated the second go-around. Before we book more time in Australia, we’ll figure it out. At this time, we are only booked for 89 days in Australia (leaving one extra day for cancelled flights, etc.). 

Alternate view of the above fisherman.

We decided that we’ll investigate other options in Australia once we are there and get a feel for the “lay of the land.” Prices on vacation homes are as much as 100% higher than other countries in which we’ve lived, making it difficult to rent vacation homes to fit within our budget. 

We still have the over two month gap to fill beginning next June and have yet to decide where we’d prefer to go. We shall see what we decide and of course, report it here promptly. We’re attempting to stay somewhere in the South Pacific, if possible.

At certain areas, the beaches are less pristine as is the case here in the southern end of the Kauai Path.

With the imminent visa task handled for the moment, we’re now beginning to tackle the other items on our lengthy “to-do” list, found here.

We’re down to 17 days until departing Kauai to fly to Honolulu for one night. On the 18th day, we’ll board the ship. We’re excited, to say the least. We haven’t been on a cruise since this past September. Hopefully, we’ll have good weather as we travel so far across the ocean. If not, as always, we’ll just hang on!

Happy Hump Day!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2014:

Strawberries were small in Marrakech as shown here. They don’t do GMOs (or pesticides). As a result, the berries are small and unevenly shaped. When buying giant, uniform strawberries or other fruit, its easy to assume that nature alone doesn’t make them that huge, uniform and sweet. Remember the strawberries we ate as kids? They were tart and small. For more photos from that day’s post, please click here.

Perceptions of an easy life in retirement…Play Gin..

Clouds rolling in this morning for yet another rainy day. Once the weather improves we’ll head down the mountain to explore a few more villages and grocery shops.

It is never our intent to imply that life as nomads is easy and that each day is comparable to a vacation day.  Nor is it our intent to portray retirement, in itself, as a means of a sense of total freedom. There’s no free lunch.

Another sitting area the vines will soon overtake.

How early we are presented with this lesson in life varies from individual to individual. How quickly we actually learn it, putting it to use, for many of us doesn’t come until the realities of life in retirement slap us in the face.

Those realities? That our life is moving fast into perhaps, our last 20 years on this earth as we know it. That’s the money we have access to could literally fade into oblivion in the precarious financial world in which we live. 

That our health, regardless of efforts, we have or haven’t made, hangs in the balance of a combination of factors, over which we may have little control.  That the person(s) we love with whom we spend each day may suddenly be snapped from us or may fall into a state of poor health, leaving our own last years as an exhausted caregiver. 

Our sloping yard as the clouds roll in.

Depressing? Yes. Immobilizing? Emphatically, not for some. Sadly, yes for others. And then, for those trapped in the uncertain middle, there are good days and bad.

For those that choose to be immobilized, we have little to offer other than our love, attention when possible, care as needed.  Inspiration is tough to render. It’s all a part of who we are, who we have become after a lifetime of shaping our psyche.

But, for those of us, who chose to “master” retirement, striving for happiness, fulfillment, purpose, and joy, it’s a daunting task, almost as if it was a job, the very state of being we abhorred in our last working years. 

Is there no escaping responsibility? Not really. Is there no escaping the planning of the very things we must task upon ourselves to ensure we stay busy, fulfilled, and happy? No.

Never much of a gardener, I think these are hydrangeas.

It all translates to “how” we do it?  Not so much as “what” we do. 

If it’s reading mindless novels languishing in a familiar comfy chair by the window, overlooking one’s less than perfectly manicured lawn while waiting for the grandchildren to arrive or, it’s jumping out of airplanes at 90 years old. Whatever it may be matters if we can find the peace, the acceptance, and the purpose to our remaining time as we feverishly grasp at the morsels of significance which ultimately give us joy.

Several of our readers have written to us, asking if we are lonely or bored, perched atop these hills, in a land of no English, no coconut oil, no movie theatres, no nearby restaurant in which to pop in for breakfast for a three-egg omelet, a side of bacon, and a slice of avocado. We’re not lonely. We’re not bored. 

The lovely spot where we occasionally sit enjoying nature. 

We spend each day doing the things that those of you have chosen to “master” retirement.  We laugh.  We eat.  We read books we love.  We watch shows on our computer.  We get up early to savor each moment of the day.  And most recently, we began playing the card game, Gin, another version of mindless drivel as we continue our “job” each day, simply, for being happy.