Moving right along…3 days and counting…

In Kauai, Hawaii, on this date in 2015, our friend Richard, who sadly has since passed away, sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk, gave us a feeling as to how it would have been to visit his office in St. Louis, Missouri might have been, before he and wife Elaine moved to Kauai. For more, please click here.
It was another enjoyable day spent with family and friends. Friend Jodi had made dinner at her home hauling everything over to Colleen and Margie’s home (whose backyards are adjacent), leaving only the pork chops for Kevin to cook on the gas grill.

The weather was ideal at a high of 74F (23C) inspiring all of us to spend the majority of the day outdoors in the much-appreciated warmth and brilliant sunshine.

We didn’t play cards since visiting sister, Rita doesn’t play and we wanted to spend time with her, not distracted by our card games. We arrived at 2:30 pm and by 9:30 pm I wandered back to our place, leaving Tom time to chat with his sisters.

With us leaving in a mere three days, each moment spent is worthwhile. Upon his return to our place at midnight, Tom knocked on the door for me to let him in. With only one set of keys, I’ve had to let him in each time he’s returned late at night after visiting with the family and playing cards.

The dinner was fantastic with marinated pork chops (we brought our own, our last package of meat to ensure I wouldn’t be eating any sugary marinade). Jodi made green beans, roasted potatoes, salad, and garlic bread.

Everyone dined outside except Tom and I. There’s a huge bush in the yard that is filled with bees. Since Tom and I are both allergic to bees and bees are attracted to food, he and I chose to eat dinner in Colleen’s dining room. 

Once everyone ate, we headed back outdoors and all of us stayed outside until well after dark bundled up in jackets, hoodies, and blankets. At around 5:30, Tom, Eugene, and Kevin headed to the Phoenix airport to drop Kevin off for his upcoming flight, returning 90 minutes later.

We are officially out of meat in the freezer. Tonight, we’ll have omelets with mushrooms, onions, and grated cheese with sausage and bacon on the side possibly repeated a similar meal tomorrow. 

Today, we’ll load the supplies suitcase onto the dining table while I decide what items we’ll pack and ship back to the mailing service to hold for us for our next shipment, along with some warm weather clothing we won’t need over the next several months.

Later this afternoon, we’re planning on happy hour with our friendly neighbors, Linda and Fred, and then, will have a quiet evening at “home” having dinner and perhaps streaming a few shows.

We’re excited about commencing the next leg of our journey, looking forward to two months in India. Of course, we’re not looking forward to the almost 30-hour journey to Mumbai, but now, we’re looking into booking a priority lounge for the 8-hour layover hoping there will be a place we can nap for a few hours.

Have a lovely Sunday!
Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2019:
“Hot tub by candlelight” with Little lounging in the cement pond on a hot evening in the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Five years ago “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”….Social graces…All new Kruger photos…Check out the one year ago photo!!..

A giraffe with two male impalas.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A photo from five years ago today at this link. On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guineafowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings.

It’s uncanny how we can’t stop comparing our three-month stay in Marloth Park five years ago to our current one-year stay. We’d assumed when we returned this time in February 2018 there would be many changes but surprisingly there have been few.

The most significant change has been the enhancement to our social life, in part due to our beautiful friends including us in their social events, and…we’ll take a little credit for being assertive in cultivating the many relationships we acquired in 2013/2014 while building new relationships.
A “confusion” of wildebeest in Kruger National Park.

One of the social perks in Marloth Park and perhaps in South Africa, in general, is the commonality of the reciprocation of following up after being invited to a friend’s home for dinner or a party by asking them or hosting them to a dinner out. Not everyone enjoys hosting dinner parties.  

In other words, those with whom we’ve developed relationships have been exceptionally gracious in good manners and social etiquette. Come to the bush to find an unbeatable social life that compares to none. Who would have thought?

A “confusion” of wildebeest and a “dazzle” of zebras.

Another common practice is bringing one’s own beverages to friend’s home when invited for “sundowners,” dinner parties and gatherings. This takes considerable pressure off posts to accommodate guests’ drink preferences, including types of wines, beers, liquors, and non-alcoholic beverages.

In our old lives, I don’t ever recall asking guests to “BYOB” (bring your own booze) when attending one of our social events, nor do I remember us doing so when attending parties in Minnesota. It wasn’t customary. But, here in South Africa, it is.

Zebras were grazing in the lush greenery.

On several occasions, after we’ve hosted a dinner party in our bush home, we’ve been invited out to dinner by friends who either aren’t here long enough to host a reciprocal dinner party, don’t have suitable space for dinner parties in their bush homes, or simply don’t incline to go through the time-consuming process of preparing a special meal for guests.

Plus, over these past few hot summer months, the weather has been outrageous with extreme heat and humidity. It’s unbearable to spend the better part of a day or two standing in the kitchen in the heat. Homes here do not have central aircon and few have a wall unit in the kitchen. Turn on the oven to bake a dish and the house becomes a veritable hotbox.

Certain animals do well grazing together as is the case with giraffes and impalas.

Never once over the past year have we felt or even thought about not being invited for a meal when we’ve asked others. We’ve loved every evening we’ve hosted, relishing in the quality time we’ve spent with guests over good food and often, their own favorite wine and beer.

Five years ago at the Hornbill house, in which we stayed under two months, we didn’t have the space for entertaining. Once we moved to the Khaya Umdani house (see our link here of this fabulous house), we finally reciprocated guests. 

Wildlife at a distance.

Eventually, we moved again to the African Reunion house (see our link here for this lovely home) and again could invite guests. It was a very special time for us thanks to Louise and Danie’s kindness and generosity in allowing us to experience two more properties in that three month period.

But here at the “Orange” house, once we started seeing the wildlife regularly there was no way, during this entire one year period, that we had any interest in moving to a different house, should it become available.  

Two closely-knit giraffes may be a parent and offspring or mating pair.

This house has been ideal for hosting and reciprocating for dinner parties, house guests and of course, the exquisite day to day interaction with our wildlife friends. It couldn’t have suited our needs or desires more.  

This house may or may not be available when we return but surely Louise will ensure we’ll have a perfect house for our three-month return in March 2021.  (Next time we won’t be staying in South Africa longer than the allowed 90 days due to immigration issues).

Grazing in the treetops.

Today and tonight, we’re hanging out at the house. I’m working on projects to prepare for our departure in 20 days, including scanning one year’s worth of actual receipts with our portable scanner, cleaning out cupboards and closets and going through our travel supplies to determine what we’ll really need going forward.

Have a fantastic day hopefully filled with meaningful social encounters!

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2018:

On our way to Antarctica, at long last, this was our first penguin sighting:  A one or two-year-old Rock Hopper Penguin on New Island in the Falkland Islands yet to grow his full plumage. Click here for more outstanding wildlife we discovered during this once-in-a-lifetime cruise.

Winding down…Three weeks and counting…

Check out this mongoose mom and a tiny baby.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah.  (Photo by friend Ken).

Tom always says counting down the days until we depart the time goes by too quickly. For me, it’s the opposite. I savor each day, knowing there are so few remaining.

Three weeks from today, the next phase of our world journey begins when we drive to Nelspruit on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, to spend one night in a hotel to board an early morning flight to Johannesburg, change planes to then we’ll be off to Nairobi, Kenya.

As I meander through this good-sized house, I see things we need to pack in almost every corner. In essence, the process has started. I’ve already gone through all of my clothing and removed everything I will no longer wear.  
Dad is proud of his fast-growing chicks.

Many items no longer fit with my weight loss of 10 kilos this year (22 pounds). I’ll donate what I haven’t already given away to the sellers on the street to see if they can make a little money on my good-condition clothing.

Doing so leaves me with very little to wear on the upcoming cruise from San Antonio, Chile, to San Diego, California. But at this point, I’m not worrying about what I’ll wear on a cruise ship on dress-up nights. 

For the rest of the days and nights, I’ll wear jeans, shorts and lovely tee-shirts, of which I have plenty of. I still have four somewhat dressier tops, when paired with black pants, can work fine for more formal occasions.

It’s hard to believe these chicks have increased from the tiny little things they were six months ago.

Of my five pairs of shoes, one pair may be construed as a little dressy. Tom has several button shirts to wear to dinner and one white dress shirt for dress-up nights. We’I can add a scarf or costume jewelry for dinners in the main dining room to dress up an otherwise dull outfit. We’ll make it work, as we always do.

When Louise stopped by yesterday, she offered to store anything we may want to keep for our next visit. We may be willing to store a few roasting pans and outdoor lights to watch the wildlife at night.  

Other than that, she suggested we leave any food, spices, canned or bottled items we don’t want in the cupboards, and she can distribute them to their many rental houses for future guests to use or give them to the locals. 

It wasn’t easy to differentiate the chicks from the parents.

As it turns out, many of the food products we use aren’t used by the locals in their cooking method. But tourists from other countries may use the spices and condiments, of which we have many after cooking here for the past year. 

On Tuesday, we went through the chest freezer to inventory precisely what we had left to consume. After doing so, we realized we might not have to purchase much in the way of groceries, especially protein sources, of which we have plenty on hand.

Ostriches seem to love hanging out at this same house we’d observed five years ago.

I’d forgotten we had the frozen filling, already made, for one more pumpkin pie, left from our Thanksgiving dinner party. With it defrosted later in the day, I created and rolled the dough for one more pumpkin pie for Tom (his favorite).  

With the cooler weather, the pie crust came out better than on “pumpkin pie hell day” (click here for details) when we prepared the special meal for 12 of us. There wasn’t enough filling to fill the pie, but Tom loves the homemade crust. See the photo below of the pie I made on Tuesday.

Newly baked pumpkin pie made with a shortage of filling, but it suited Tom just fine!

We also found three large tenderloin steaks, enough for two nights each, so tonight, we’re starting with that, spacing out the balance over the next three weeks. With many upcoming social events and dinners out in the remaining three weeks, we’ll only need to replenish salad fixings, other fresh produce, and a few miscellaneous items such as coffee, cream, butter, eggs, paper products etc.

This morning in Komatipoort, we stopped at the dentist’s office to purchase an at-home teeth whitening product. Next door, I ran into the doctor’s office to make an appointment with the doctor to have my three (non-narcotic) prescriptions refilled for six months (it’s required in SA to see the doctor for refills).  

We can’t help but admire these stunning animals, which have never been domesticated due to their unsuitable demeanor.

The prices for refills are low enough here. It’s worth the office visit cost at ZAR 662 (US $48) rather than ordering them online from my usual supplier (ProgressiveRX).

We each have one more dentist appointment remaining to have our teeth cleaned, at which time I’ll have two remaining amalgam fillings removed and replaced with the safer white material. 

Female zebra grazing in the bush now that there’s so new growth of vegetation due to rain.

At that point, I won’t have any remaining amalgam fillings or teeth requiring any work, which will be a huge relief. I’ve meant to have this done for years. Ironically, we had to come to South Africa to work on our teeth, but the dentist is fantastic, and prices are considerably lower than in the US or other countries.

Back at the house, after shopping at Spar, buying three bags of pellets at Obaro, and Tom heading to Lebombo for carrots, apples, and eggs (for the mongoose), we’re suitable for the next week.

Zebra were looking healthy and well-fed.

We’re staying in for the remainder of today, beginning to work on some other organizing and packing projects. For me, doing a little each day feels more productive than waiting until the last day or two. Tom, on the other hand, prefers to wait until the day before we depart.

It’s all these slight differences between us that make traveling the world together more exciting and entertaining. It would be mighty dull if he was just like me!

Be well. Be happy wherever you may be.

Photo from one day year ago, January 24, 2018:
There were no photos on this date one year ago as we were heading to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board the ship sailing to Antarctica.

Antarctica…Final photos, nearing the final wrapup…Our Killer Whales video…

 Killer Whales (orcas) in the Polar Circle.

It feels odd to be back in civilization after the 16 nights we spent at sea as our ship, Ponant Le Soleal, scoured the territory on its way to the Polar Circle in the Antarctic to provide its 193 passengers with an exceptional experience. And, exceptional, it was.

This is undoubtedly one of my favorite Chinstrap Penguin photos as she’s situated on the remarkable rocks to cool down on a warm day.
One of the Zodiac boats approaching the ship for us to board.

Now, back in Buenos Aires for the next 24 hours, we’re busily preparing to leave for Africa, I’m trying to shift gears from our previous penguin-minded adventures back to thinking in terms of giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos, lions and warthogs and more.

A face only a mother could love.

Transitioning from the vast amount of wildlife in Antarctica to Africa will be easier than it may have been, had we’d moved on to a less wildlife-rich country. 

Elephant seals lying in a ditch.

And yet, the memories will always linger on for this life-changing experience. Antarctica will remain in our hearts and minds forever. We could easily spend the next two to three months, sharing more of the thousands of photos we took during those 16 nights, 17 days.

A photogenic baby fur seal.

But, it’s time to move on to our next adventure, and we do so with enthusiasm and joy for the opportunities of the past and those upcoming in the future. Each and every leg of our year’s long journey leaves us with more knowledge, more understanding and more passion for this world, its people and its treasures that surround us.

A sea of penguins.
As a recap of our itinerary on the Antarctica cruise, please read below:
  • Ushuaia – New Island
  • New Island – Steeple Jason
  • Steeple Jason – Saunders the Neck
  • Saunders – Elsehul
  • Elsehul – Stromness
  • Stromness – Grytviken
  • Grytviken – Maiviken
  • Maiviken – Saint Andrews
  • Saint Andrews – Turret Point
  • Turret Point – Half Moon
  • Half Moon – Deception Island
  • Deception Island – Paradise Bay
  • Paradise Bay -Pleneau
  • Pleneau – Detaille Island
  • Detaille Island – Baie De Lallemand
  • Baie De Lallemand – Neko
  • Neko – Ushuaia
Total miles traveled:  3,695 nautical miles, 4,252 miles, 6,843 km
These types of caves are enticing. Wouldn’t it be fun to peek inside?
We move forward to the next phase of our journey, eternally grateful for the experience, for the good fortune in weather along the way and for the wildlife who gave us more than we ever expected.
Fabulous Chef Tony made us some incredible dishes while outdoors on the veranda.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll leave the Prodeo Hotel for the airport at 10:00 am. It’s about a 45-minute ride to the airport getting us there in the required two-hour window for international flights.
Happy little chick!
We’ll do a short post tomorrow with a few more new Antarctica photos and another short post the following day February 11th to announce our arrival in South Africa. From there we’ll return to our regular schedule of daily full-sized posts with Africa photos as we live among the wildlife in Marloth Park and of course, our wonderful friends.
Black-browed Albatross chick.
Penguins on an iceberg!

Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2017:

Sailboats moored in the bay in Dover, Tasmania.  For more details, please click here.

Getting it all together….The tasks are never-ending…Four days and counting…

Hmmm…a waterfall next to an escalator at the Recoleta Mall.  Unusual.

It was quite a productive day. After uploading yesterday’s post by noon our time, I was determined to go upstairs to our hotel room on the second floor, pull out my nearly empty suitcase, and begin packing for the cruise.

We’re allowed 23 kg (50 pounds) of checked baggage on Tuesday’s early morning flight to Ushuaia.  Ponant Cruise Line had no issue with how much we bring aboard the ship, but the airline does. We’re leaving Buenos Aires on a somewhat small plane designated for approximately 200 cruise passengers.

Tom’s watch battery died a month ago.  There isn’t a single jewelry store nearby that replaces watch batteries. We decided to walk the distance to this mall, thinking there might be such a store here, but only a Swatch store places Swatch-brand batteries. We left the mall since there was nothing else we needed to purchase.

We’re scheduled to arrive at the airport at 4:05 am, which requires we’re up at 3:00 am for the 30-minute ride to the airport. We don’t usually fly out in the middle of the night like this, so that the early wake-up time will be challenging. The usual hour-long ride in traffic to the airport will be considerably less at this hour.

The previous night, we’ll have given the hotel staff our bags and boxes to store while we’re away, which we’ll collect when we return to Buenos Aires for two nights on February 8th, after the cruise has ended.

The University of Buenos Aires, The School of Law, located in Recoleta.

Yesterday, to alleviate thinking about this process, I decided to complete 90% of my packing.  Leaving Tom in the hotel lobby on his computer, I headed up to the room, preferring to get the task done on my own. 

He offered to come up with me to assist, but I knew sorting through clothes and other items would be best if left to my own resources. It would require going through every item in my wardrobe asking myself, “Shall I bring this or leave it behind?” There was no way I wanted to be in a position of regretting leaving certain items behind that I could have used during the 17-day cruise.

There was no need for shorts and lightweight summer tops. I made piles of “to bring” or “not to bring,” and the process moved more quickly than I’d anticipated. Within about an hour, I had my bag packed, assuming the weight would be fine. I have 2 kilos of space left which I’ll fill with toiletries I’m still using now.

A colorful exterior of an ethnic restaurant near a park in Recoleta.

I packed minimal underwear, knowing I could handwash it nightly, which I usually do anyway, in an attempt to make them last longer. I’d purchased one warmer maxi-length sleep-type dress, and I have one cooler nightshirt to wear when that’s at the laundry.

The ship has laundry service in checking online, and the “butlers” assigned to each room can do touch-up ironing as needed (all for a fee, of course). There is no way we’d be able to last so many days with the clothing we have on hand.

In going through our cold-weather clothing shipped box, I sorted mine from Tom’s and packed all of those items. We also had to consider what to wear on Tuesday when we get to Ushuaia, where it’s cold, and we’ll spend the morning and early afternoon until we board the ship in the afternoon.

Weathered old building in Recoleta.

The cruise line has arranged a luncheon for us at a local hotel, where we’ll hang out as we wait. This should be fun as we get an opportunity to meet other passengers. Some may have purchased a tour and won’t be attending the luncheon or waiting at the hotel. 

After I finished packing, Tom entered the room, suggesting we take off on foot to purchase a few last-minute items requiring a trip to a pharmacy and the shop where we’d previously purchased the unsweetened coconut cream for my daily turmeric tea drink. 

The traffic was light on this street in Recoleta as we wandered about looking for a jewelry store for a battery for Tom’s Movado watch.

We’d have to purchase enough of the coconut cream to last during the 17-day cruise, leaving a few little packages behind for the two-day return to Buenos Aires and the first few mornings in South Africa before we’ll have gone grocery shopping in Komatipoort.

We found two more jewelry stores about ten blocks from here and decided to walk there first to see if we could get a battery for Tom’s watch. No luck. Neither of the two stores handled watch battery replacement.

Apartments along the main boulevard in Recoleta.

By 3:00 pm, we were back at the hotel with the coconut cream and pharmacy items. We walked 7,000 steps on my FitBit, and we’d like yet to walk to dinner later in the evening. As it turned out, we almost hit the 10,000 step mark we attempt to achieve most days by the end of the evening.

Tom stayed in the room while I went back down to the lobby to begin scanning the many receipts we’d accumulated while here. I’d already entered all the items on the spreadsheet I do daily, so the task didn’t take more than 30 minutes. I’ll scan the new receipts from these next few days on our final day and be done for a while.

A man is crossing the road with what appeared to be three greyhounds.

I felt so accomplished when done with the day’s tasks. Now I can work on the final expenses for the 31 nights we stayed in this hotel to have them ready for the last day’s post to share them with all of you. 

Last night, we decided to dine at our favorite restaurant in Palermo, La Cabrera, during the 40% off happy hour.  Once again, we had a perfect meal and chatted with another English-speaking couple from the US. It was dark by the time we began the walk back to the hotel. 

The park is surrounding La Recoleta Cemetery.  We could see the monuments behind the brick wall.

Not quite ready for bed, we carried my laptop to a booth in the hotel’s bar and watched a few shows. By 11:00 pm, we were in bed, but we both had a fitful night’s sleep, awakening for extended periods. It’s the way it is. A short nap may be in order later today.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as we wind down our time in Buenos Aires, preparing for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of visiting Antarctica. Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2017:

The views of the Huon River in Tasmania were beautiful on the way to Huonville. For more photos, please click here.

The countdown has begun…Five days until departure for Antarctica!…A landmark in Recoleta…Last photos of La Recoleta..

We took this photo from the taxi wishing we’d been able to see it at the park. This work of art is Floralis Generica is described as follows from this site:  “Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Catalano once said that the flower “is a synthesis of all the flowers and, at the same time, a hope reborn every day at opening.” It was created in 2002. The sculpture was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning. The sculpture is located in the center of a park of four acres of wooded boundaries, surrounded by paths that get closer, provide different perspectives of the monument, and be placed above a reflecting pool, which, apart from fulfilling its aesthetic function, protects it. It represents a large flower made of stainless steel with an aluminum skeleton and reinforced concrete, which looks at the sky, extending to its six petals. It weighs eighteen tons and is 23 meters high.”

With a mere five days remaining until we depart Buenos Aires to fly to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board the cruise to Antarctica, we’re busy as we can be. Not only are we wrapped up in preparing detailed posts each day, taking photos while walking through the neighborhood each day, but we’re now entrenched in the process of the upcoming confusing packing scenario.

On every other occasion, packing for our next adventure has been easy. It’s a no-brainer. We simply pack everything we own. This time, we have to sort through all of our belongings to determine what we’ll need during the 17- day cruise days and what we can leave behind, storing the balance at the Prodeo Hotel.

Highrise in Recoleta.

Yesterday, I began going through medical and other supplies contained in our third smaller checked bag, which we’re leaving here. Plus, we have the pill bag containing all types of emergency meds and over-the-counter items we may or may not need.

Sure, we could leave behind aspirin, Tylenol, cough drops, decongestants, and sinus wash, but what if we get sick and need these items, many of which may not be available on this smaller ship? 

Recoleta is a much larger neighborhood from Palermo and is home to many more modern office buildings and apartment complexes.

Instead, we’re packing some of these items since Tom caught a cold on the last cruise and used all of them.  Why pay exorbitant fees to see the doctor when in most cases, we can treat ourselves? Plus, we’ve added items appropriate for exacerbating my gastrointestinal thing, which does rear its ugly head from time to time.

Then, of course, a girl needs her cosmetic items, which means one duplicate for every item in my little black cosmetic bag. What if I lost or broke an item? I don’t use creams, lotions, and potions, so to speak, other than an organic facial wash and eye makeup remover, so there’s not much packing there.

A steeple in the park in Recoleta.

Add a razor with a new blade for each of us, our crystal deodorant, a small bag of my nail stuff, hair products, and we’ve got it covered. After spending an hour or more gathering the items we’ll need, that part of the packing is done.

Today, I’ll go through the box of cold-weather and water-resistant clothing and start packing my suitcase.  Tomorrow, we’re having the final bag of laundry done (there are no laundromats in this area) and will add whatever we need from the laundry when it’s delivered on Saturday.

There are also many historical hotels and buildings in the area.

Yesterday, we printed 21 pages of documents and vouchers that Ponant requires in paper format and more copies of my food list. I added them to the litany of health certificates and other documents we already have ready to go in a large manila envelope. 

Another task I completed yesterday was setting up “bill pay” payments in our bank account due in February. At the first of each month, we pay off all of our credit cards in total to make room for the next barrage of significant payments towards vacation homes, cruises, rental cars, and other living expenses.

Tom is quite a history buff and is particularly fascinated with older structures.

If we were to experience a poor signal aboard the ship (which we expect), preventing us from getting into our accounts, the payments could be late, a risk we can’t ever take. Entering the costs in advance, sooner than we usually do at the end of the prior month, allows us to be entirely free in thinking about this during our adventure.

Also, today, I’ll be working on sending the grandkids a little something for Valentine’s Day. We’ll already be in South Africa by February 14th, arriving on the 11th. However, some of the items we order require planning, and a two or three-day window isn’t sufficient.

A broader perspective of Evita’s family (Duarte) mausoleum.

Once we’re done posting here today, we’re off to the health food store to purchase five bottles of unsweetened coconut cream for my morning turmeric tea drink. I decided I’d given up enough things I like to eat and drink that I wasn’t willing to forgo this healthful morning concoction during the cruise.

Also, since I’ve found I feel my best when I don’t eat breakfast, only the drink, there’s an amount of nutrition in this drink that can get me through the first Zodiac boat outings in the morning. When we return midday for lunch, I’ll eat enough to hold me until the anticipated late dinners on the ship that we read are usually after 8:00 or 9:00 pm, typical European-style. Ponant is a French cruise line.

Me, in front of an old structure at La Recoleta.

We heard from past Ponant travelers to whom we spoke on Skype while in Costa Rica, most passengers dress up for dinner each night. We can accommodate this to a degree, but I don’t have evening gowns, and Tom doesn’t have a tuxedo or even a sports coat. We can’t be carrying those items with us!

Having even one such set of clothing items would be ridiculous when we’d have to wear the same outfit over and over, which in itself is preposterous. Instead, we make do with what we have, Tom with two dress shirts and dark pants and me with a few dressy tops and pants. 

A mausoleum with statues on the top, commonly found at La Recoleta.

Occasionally, we may get a few looks here and there for our “casual chic” attire, but we can’t get worked up over this. With only 200 passengers on this upcoming cruise, in no time at all, they’ll discover why we don’t have dress-up clothing and never give us another glaring look.

Last night, we headed to Diggs (ironic name, Minnesota fans?) for dinner but they were closed when they’re usually open. This has been the case for many restaurants we’ve visited, inspiring us always to have a backup plan.

Another ornate mausoleum.

The past two nights, I’ve slept at least seven hours and feel better than I have in weeks. Tom had a good night last night and is equally chipper, leaving us both prepared to tackle (no pun intended).

Also, the better we feel, the more we have done, which frees us up mentally for the upcoming Minnesota Vikings football game on Sunday night! We couldn’t be more excited about this event!

Happy day to all!

 Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2017:

A decorative item in Anne and Tom’s garden, owners of the vacation home in Huon Valley, Tasmania. They suggested we take whatever we’d like at any time, and we gladly did (in moderation, of course).  For more photos, please click here.

Packing, planning and pool…Favorite photos begin…Could we ever settle in Costa Rica?…Two days and counting….

Beautiful scene from the veranda.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This is a Rufous-naped Wren sitting atop the African Tulip Tree, captured from the veranda.

Two mornings from today, we’ll be on our way to the airport to fly to Miami to board our cruise the following day, Thanksgiving Day. This morning, I packed all of my clothes, leaving out a swimsuit, tee shirt dress, and underwear for the next few days. 

Frog visitor on the bumper of the rental car while at Supermercado Coopeatenas.

A few minutes ago, Tom and I weighed my packed suitcase, and it weighs 48 pounds (22kg), well within the maximum allowed by American Airlines of 50 pounds (23 kg). It seemed so heavy, and I’m thrilled it all worked out well.

Ulysses was working in the yard…no lawnmower…weed whacker instead.

Last night, we watched the final two episodes of the final season of Mad Men. It was a peculiar thought-provoking finale that could be interpreted in many ways. We opted for a more optimistic perspective.  If you haven’t watched this series, we highly recommend it.

Giant iguana at Zoo Ave.
Green lizard in the courtyard.

Today, we’re using all of the remaining food in the fridge for a mishmash two-night dinner; tuna salad, salmon salad (using the remaining eggs), sausages, bacon, salad, and steamed veggies. Soon, I’ll start chopping and dicing.

Stunning blooms, Pine Cone Ginger.

Boiled eggs are hard to peel here. I don’t know why. I’ve tried every trick I’ve found online, yet I still ruin half of each egg trying to remove the thin shells. That will keep me busy for a while.

Closer view of Atenas from the veranda.

In reviewing our photos for favorites, I struggled a little. With thousands of photos, it could take me all day to go through them, which I’d prefer not to do. Instead, I uploaded a handful to post today. 

Butcher at the Friday Farmer’s Market.

Tomorrow, we’ll write a detailed review of this lovely vacation home with photos, and on Wednesday, the final day, we’ll include the final expenses and favorite bird photos. That will wrap up our final posts from Costa Rica.

An Owl Butterfly we spotted in the courtyard with what appears to be a large eye to scare off predators.

How are we feeling about leaving? We’ve loved it here. The house, the people, the grounds, the wildlife, and the scenery has been over-the-top. Will we return someday? It’s improbable. As I always say, there’s so much more world to see and let’s face it. The clock is ticking.

Graffiti on a wall in Atenas.

We’ve asked ourselves, “Could we ever settle in Costa Rica?” For us, due to a lack of desire to “settle,” the answer is “no.” Costa Rica is a relatively affordable place to live. It possesses lovely people, scenery, and wildlife, appealing to many ex-pats from all over the world, but we can’t see ourselves settling anywhere at this point. 

Juan Ramon was showing us around the museum.

The ex-pat lifestyle isn’t for us. Buying or renting a permanent home, buying furniture and household items, and a car are so far removed from our radar, we can hardly even imagine the possibility. 

Old railroad bridge after a long walk from the railway station.

Sure, at some point, we won’t be able to continue. We accept this reality. At one point long ago, we mentioned here that we’d begun to peruse real estate options in various countries to get an idea of where we may live when that time comes.

It was roasting coffee beans at the El Toledo Coffee Tour.

But, the longer we’ve continued, we’ve lost interest in pursuing such a premise. We have little interest in looking at houses for sale in any country unless we’re doing a story for a property owner/landlord, helping them to promote their property, or out of curiosity to share details here.

Inside the antique cafe at the El Toledo Coffee Tour.

This morning it dawned on us that in six days, we’ll be going through the Panama Canal for the second time. Tom reminded me that we’re currently “living in the moment” and shouldn’t “think that far ahead.” Good grief!  Six days isn’t too far ahead. 

 A babbling brook in the mountains.

And yes, we are living in the moment. As soon as I upload today’s post, Tom proofreads it for errors, I’ll peel eggs, finish making dinner, and we’ll head out to the pool for yet another fabulous sunny afternoon in Costa Rica.

Mom and calf in the neighborhood.

May you have a fabulous sunny day wherever you may be!

Topiary at Zarcera Topiary Garden
Elephant at the topiary garden in Zarcera.

Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2016:

It was a bright and sunny day as we exited the ship one year ago today in Adelaide, Australia, to walk through this port building. For more details, please click here.

Camera issues and safari luck…Another beautiful recovery of an injured bird…Three days and counting…

Tom captured this Sierra Birdbum after being stunned from hitting the window, dropping to the top landing steps leading to the ground level. He called out to me to come to see her, which I did, but he stayed in place, taking photos of her eventual recovery. 

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This appears to be a Tropical Kingbird spotted sitting on the roof above the veranda near the master bath.

Last night, as Tom often does, he replaced one of the batteries we have for the camera charging in the plug-in charger. The camera only requires one battery at a time, but we have four to ensure we never run out of juice when taking photos almost every day.

When he removed the battery from the charger, inserting another for a charge before we depart in three days, he noticed something was wrong with the charger. The charging light wouldn’t stay on even when he tried multiple outlets. 

Inserting the batteries into the camera, we noticed the recent replacement wasn’t fully charged. Gosh, we’re dependent upon our equipment! Immediately, we pulled out all of the possible cables we had, searching for one that was a USB.

It was quite a while before she began to regain awareness.

What a dilemma! With the thought in mind that we’d purchased the camera in New Zealand in 2016, the adapters and plug-ins were not suitable for our universal adapter set up for US plugs to accommodate outlets worldwide. But, it wasn’t ideal for New Zealand plugs to accommodate worldwide outlets.

After monkeying around with every possibility, for which both of us are pretty adept, we were left with only one alternative…order a new charger from Amazon with two-day delivery, having it sent to our hotel in Florida where we’ll be on Wednesday for a total of only 18 hours. Tricky. 

Hopefully, Amazon’s usual trusty delivery dates will be as accurate as they’ve been for us in the past, and the charger will arrive on time. It’s scheduled to arrive on Tuesday (two days before the US holiday Thanksgiving) when the hotel will hold it until we reach the following day, Thanksgiving Eve.

Finally, she began checking out her surroundings.

If we hadn’t had enough time to order and receive this essential item and, with stores all closed in Florida for a holiday, we’d have found ourselves aboard the ship, unable to recharge the camera. It was a case of “safari luck” that happened last night, allowing sufficient time to receive a replacement.

Cruise ships generally have a camera shop but carry few accessories other than those for the expensive cameras they sell. If we couldn’t receive a replacement charger, we may have had no choice but to purchase another camera from the ship. (We plan to buy another camera before the Antarctica cruise anyway but prefer to have more options than what’s usually available on the boat).

We’d planned to look for another camera in Buenos Aires, certainly a big enough city to accommodate our needs. We weren’t disappointed with the current camera we’d purchased in New Zealand, never anticipating this issue when we thought we had all the adapters we needed.

We both waited patiently until finally, only seconds after taking this photo, she was able to fly off.  Whew!

Oh, the trials and tribulations of world travel never cease to amaze us! It’s not uncommon for us to be searching for a variety of products when we don’t have access to the well-supplied stores in the USA with vast options for brands and specifications. 

Online purchases, although handy, require exorbitant shipping fees to most locations outside the USA with customs checks and subsequent tariffs and fees. Many US-based online suppliers don’t ship outside the US. In Costa Rica, many items cannot be sent into the country or are not worth the added expenses.  (See this link for details on importing items to Costa Rica).

Often, we pay more for necessary supplies, such as the added cost of US $450 (CRC 255,277) for shipping and insuring the heavy box of cold weather clothing and supplies to Florida from Nevada. It’s the “nature of the beast” that we accepted a long time ago and is always considered when planning our budget. 

Today is another gorgeous sunny day which we’ll enjoy poolside. The pool is heated using solar panels and is pleasantly warm on sunny days and icy cold. Tom decided to wait until later in the day to watch the Minnesota Vikings Football game on NFL GamePass since he doesn’t want to miss the prime sunshine while we “play” in the pool.

Have a delightful Sunday watching your favorite sports team!    

Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2016:

There was a “future cruises” presentation in the Centrum. For more details, please click here.

The countdown has begun…Seven days and counting…

A local grower was wheeling his bananas on the road near the bus stop.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom’s photo. Love it! Three in one…Green Parrots…

In only one week, on November 22nd, we’ll be on our way once again. This wind-down week has begun as we wander through the house, reminding ourselves of what we have to pack that have been scattered about; the camera battery charger plugged into an outlet in the kitchen; the tripod standing in a corner in the living room; a few kitchen utensils and special spices in the cabinets.

We have a reminder list on my laptop, but it seems to change at each vacation home we’ve occupied. We make a concerted effort never to leave anything behind. 

But a few years ago, we left my comfy neck pillow on a ship and an adapter in Penguin, Tasmania, which our friend/landlord Terry sent to us in the Huon Valley, Tasmania, our next move from there.

One of a few liquor stores in Atenas.

Each time we pack, we attempt to lighten our load by donating or tossing worn clothing or items we never seem to wear. Our motto;  If we haven’t worn it in a year, let it go. Since most things we purchase are done online from time to time, we aren’t happy with the fit or appearance.

We purchased plenty of clothing while in Minnesota this past summer which should last until we returned to the US in 2019. After leaving Bali on October 30, 2016, I’d gained 12 pounds while trying to eat more frequently (and most likely eating too many carbs) with my gastrointestinal issues. 

Since we arrived in Costa Rica, I’ve lost 10 pounds and am almost back to my usual weight with my clothes fitting more comfortably. The next few pounds will easily fall off in the next few weeks, even while on the cruise where I never gain an ounce eating the bland food I’m often served, such as a piece of salmon, some broccoli, and a salad.

An unidentified old building in the village.

Since Tom stopped eating fruit, he’s lost seven pounds. Wow! What a message that is about the sugar and carbs in fruit! Instead, we both eat lots of non-starchy vegetables.

It’s imperative, not only for health reasons, to maintain our weight but also in considering the fit of our clothing.  We cannot run to the mall to our favorite store to purchase the next size up. This fact certainly is an excellent motivator to keep us on track.

Before completing today’s post, we called the taxi to take us to town for our final shopping and visit to an ATM. We needed to get enough cash for taxi fare to the airport and tips for the villa’s staff. Once we get to Fort Lauderdale, we’ll visit another ATM to get US dollars, enough for miscellaneous tips for the upcoming cruises.

A clothing store was claiming to sell American products.

With a necessary stop at the Pharmacia (far-ma-see-a) and another for our final groceries for the remaining meals, we’ll be set to go. Clothes are washed and ironed, all receipts are scanned, and we have sufficient toiletries for the upcoming 30-night cruise. 

Most cruise ships have travel-sized items for sale, but they are often two to three times the cost we’d pay at a market. Before our final shopping trip before packing, we always check our inventory of toiletries to see what we’ll need to fill in, especially for cruises. We avoid carrying items we may easily find at a market in the new country.

Besides a small inventory of cosmetics I keep in a few Ziplock sandwich bags, we carry one normal-sized shampoo, conditioner, gel and hairspray, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shavers, and blades, and a variety of items for emergency medical issues that may arise. 

Swimming pool supplies store.

We attempt to keep it “light,” but based on never going to a “home” to restock and repack, we have no choice but to carry everything we own with us. They confiscate our “power boards” (surge protectors) on cruise ships, returning them to us when we disembark. They always provide us with alternative devices they deem safe aboard ship to handle our many plug-ins for recharging our equipment.

Today, we’re making low-carb pizza, our favorite meal, for the last time in the upcoming 80 nights when we won’t be preparing any meals. We’ll make enough to last for three nights and then begin chipping away at the items we purposely froze for the remaining four nights. We like the ease we plan for these final days and nights, keeping stress and rushing at a minimum.

The busiest petrol station in town next to the ATM we’ve used during these three and a half months.

A week from now, we’ll be at the San Jose Santamaria Airport awaiting our flight to Miami, Florida, for a one-night stay at a hotel near the port, boarding our ship the next day. We’re excited!

Have a pleasant day filled with sunshine!

Photo from one year ago today, November 15, 2016:

The supermoon over the sea. For more cruise photos, including people we met, please click here.

Preparedness…Moving right along…All tasks under control…More photos from Nicaragua…

Tom at breakfast, waiting for his eggs to be delivered to the table.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Another visit from one of our little furry friends, the Variegated Squirrel, commonly found in Costa Rica.

It’s hard to believe we were in Nicaragua one week ago, leaving the next day to return to the villa in Atenas.  This past week has been filled with the completion of many tasks looming in our minds. 

Options at the complimentary breakfast buffet, including items for omelets.

Now, with so much accomplished, we can relax and enjoy our remaining time in this beautiful property and sleepy small town. Tomorrow, we’ll head out for one of the last few times to grocery shop, stop at the pharmacy and wander through the park and center of town. 

A variety of cheeses and nuts were offered on the buffet at the complimentary breakfast buffet.

We’ve purchased all the clothing we’ll need for Antarctica and a wide array of supplies we’ll need over the next year, which will be awaiting us when we arrive at the hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in November 22nd. 

We’re leaving the bulk of our bags at the hotel in Buenos Aires during the Antarctica cruise. Once the Antarctica cruise ends in Buenos Aires on February 8th, we’ll ship all the cold weather clothing back to our mailing service in Nevada to save them for possible cold weather expeditions in the future.

Fruit at the buffet.

We’ll have to be very creative in packing the new supplies, which undoubtedly will add to our overall baggage weight. However, we’ll only have one flight to deal with the excesses, from Buenos Aires to South Africa.

We’ve yet to book a place to live in South Africa, nor have we booked the flight from Buenos Aires, neither of which worries us.  Louise, our friend, and property manager in Marloth Park, along with her husband Danie, a home builder, have assured us they’ll find us suitable housing in the park, perhaps a last-minute cancellation or a property that didn’t get booked for our lengthy time frame.

Tom’s plate after visiting the breakfast buffet. The queso cheese squares are fried and prepared without a batter. I had a few of these with smoked salmon and veggies.

Louise and Dani know we’ll be happy to move every few weeks or so to another house that becomes available.  This is suitable for us, rounds out our experiences and assists them with vacancies. It’s a win-win for all of us.  The wild animals wander throughout the reserve, so we’ll be just fine regardless of where we’ll live.

Yesterday, I completed the scanning of all our receipts and documents since the last time we did this while in Henderson, Nevada. Once we’ve scanned the receipts, we toss them to avoid carrying and paying for the weight of paper in our baggage.

Tom’s made to order fried eggs.

On the upcoming flight to Fort Lauderdale in 17 days, we can expect to pay for our checked bags with American Airlines as long as we don’t exceed the 23kg (50.7 pounds) limit to avoid excess weight charges.

We have left to prepare to pack our belongings scattered throughout the house in cupboards, drawers, and closets. All of our clothing must go through a short cycle in the dryer, resulting in the necessity of ironing a few items. The rampant humidity causes them to feel damp sitting in the closets.

The pool at night at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Mall in Managua, Nicaragua.

Most of our clothing is wrinkle-free, but regardless of such a claim on the label, most still wrinkle. Everyday items worn on the ship during the day aren’t much of an issue, but  I’ve made a pile of ironing for the evenings I can either hand off to Isabel or do it myself. We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday’s pool time was spent under a dark cloudy sky. The sun is shining, but as often the case, we see the usual clouds rolling in. Once thunder and lightning began, we hightailed out of the pool.

The entrance to the hotel in Managua, Nicaragua.
May your day be bright and sunny!                                                                            

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2016:

Yorkeys Knob on a cloudy day in Cairns. Since we’d spent three months in Trinity Beach (to the right in this photo) from June 11 to September 7, 2015, and had seen so much when there, we decided to stay on the ship. For more photos, please click here.