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.

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.

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.

Preparing for the weekend…More complicated than usual…

A house was built on the mountainous road.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stop by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree and to sing.  Other birds are flying in the background.

Over the past few days, I’ve spent more time contemplating what to bring for the two nights in Nicaragua than I spend while packing to leave a location. In those cases, of which there are many, it’s relatively easy to pack.  We simply include everything we own, and voila!…we’re packed.

In this case, I’ve had to pick and choose clothes for the daytime and evenings. In this case, I know I’m packing way more than I’ll need attempting to make it fit into my half of the black duffel bag. With only the duffel bag and the computer backpack, we won’t require checked baggage. The flight is about one hour, and hopefully, check-in will be easy. 

Typical road in Costa Rica without a shoulder.

At this point, we’re glad we didn’t plan to get our passports stamped by driving back and forth to Panama or Nicaragua.  Many roads are blocked due to landslides as it continues to rain in buckets almost every day. That type of road trip would not have been easy or enjoyable.

Although it’s more costly to travel outside the country with the cost of the round-trip flight, hotel, and meals, the ease and convenience are often highly instrumental in our decision making. That’s not to say going to the airport is convenient, but in this case, with the bad weather, it may have been the best course of action.

More topiary in Zarcera.

As of this morning, I’m totally packed and ready to go. With Isabel here cleaning today, I wanted to get it done and out of the way. Tom has yet to pack and will do so after she cleans the bedroom.

Last night, during a major storm we had a power surge while watching a show in the screening room. A sudden pop and flash startled us as the lights, and the TV went off in that room only. 

Cloudy day view from the hills.

Luckily, we were using surge protectors for our laptops, and they’re fine. We moved to the living room to finish the show we’d been watching on Netflix and notified Aad and Marian this morning as to the electrical issue. Julio should be here within a few hours to make the repairs.  

The attention to detail and quality service we’ve received while living in La Perla de Atenas has been exceptional. We need only mention an issue, big or small, and in no time at all, it’s resolved.

One could easily assume that the laid-back lifestyle in Costa Rica might result in days of waiting for power outages to resolve or repairs to be made. But that hasn’t been our experience in Costa Rica. In the three outages occurring since our arrival, the longest wait was 10 hours, with the others resolved within six hours.

Rapids flowing after all the rain.

As we wind down the time in Costa Rica, we realize how quickly it will go once we return from Nicaragua. We’ll celebrate our fifth year of traveling the world anniversary on October 31st and then, 22 days later we’ll on our way to Florida for the lengthy cruise.  

Today, it’s cloudy and cool after last night’s monstrous storm.  We have great leftovers for dinner which we’d planned in order to avoid a busy cooking day while Isabel is here cleaning for almost eight hours. These past three months, we’ve made a point of having leftovers on the days she’s here allowing us to stay out of her way.

Have an excellent day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2016:

We’d left the villa in Sumbersari six days earlier than planned due to the poor Wi-Fi signal preventing us from posting. We then spent six nights at the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Airport and yet, never used this pool.  For more photos, please click here.

An accomplished day… Getting it all together… Stormy weather in the desert…

The yellow Costco bag was filled with the remainder of the packages we handled yesterday, including the new portable scanner we ordered when our old unit broke in Minneapolis.

Lately, we’re reminded of those last two months we spent in the US going back and forth between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, after we’d left Minnesota on October 31, 2012. But then, we had so much to do.

Now, as we wind down our last less than two weeks in the US, we find ourselves making phone calls, straightening out several pesky issues and concerns that were difficult to handle on Skype with an often poor signal. 

Yesterday, I spent 52 minutes on a phone call with a financial institution in correcting an excess of security/password access issues that we were never able to restore from afar. As much as we’d like to believe that “everything” can be conducted online, it’s not always the case. A phone call may provide a better solution.

Yesterday, we drove to Stephanie Street to take a few photos before the storms rolled in.  Sunset Station.

With our current SIM cards through US provider T-Mobile expiring shortly after we leave the US, the luxury of picking up the smartphone to make a call will be gone. In addition, as we purchase SIM cards in each country, they don’t include making international calls at reasonable rates. 

Calling internationally is often as high as $2 to $3 a minute, making no sense for any calls we may need to make. So instead, we use our Nevada Skype phone number ($5 a month), from which we can call anywhere in the world for approximately $1.20 per hour.

Making these Skype calls requires a decent Wi-Fi connection, uses considerable data, and may or may not have a clear connection. Unfortunately, at this time, until cellular service is international, this is what we have to work with. 

“Sunset Station opened on June 10, 1997. While Station Casinos had successful openings with Boulder Station and Texas Station in the mid-1990s, Sunset Station was considered a demonstration of the company’s ability to develop and market a locals casino that was upscale. Following the success of Sunset Station, Station Casinos continued to open locals casinos that were more upscale, such as Green Valley Ranch (2001) and Red Rock Resort (2006).”

Some have suggested we use a SAT (satellite) phone, but these phones are heavy, costly, and impractical for our use. However, once we install a SIM card in our unlocked phones upon arriving in any country, we have local and emergency cell service. 

As for phone data, we usually purchase an amount of data for those times we’re out and about and need “Map” services or other online access. Then, once we’re inside our vacation/holiday home, the whole house WiFi allows us to use data on our phones. Generally, this works OK.

As an avid listener to podcasts when unable to sleep, which seems to lull me back to sleep, having data on my phone becomes an important feature. We both read news and books on our phones while in bed. 

It wasn’t hectic in the parking lot, enabling us to take photos of the massive casino located on 98 acres in Henderson.

Yea, we know about all the warnings staring at any screens at bedtime may inhibit sleep, but we’ve both found doing so seems to aid us in getting to sleep. We don’t necessarily pay a lot of attention to what “they” say when so much “they’ve” said is proving to be inaccurate and misleading through more current and comprehensive research. So, no, I won’t get off of my soapbox on this topic.

Yesterday was a highly productive day. First, we went through all the mail we’d collected the previous day from the mailing service, which included several pieces of snail mail and no less than 20 boxes, mostly small items we’d purchased for the next few years of travel.

Included in the boxes were my Africa boots which I’ll be wearing again in seven months. To keep my total number of pairs of shoes down to five, I’m going to leave my tennis shoes in our oversized mailbox at the mailing service for future use. Once we were done in Africa in 2019, I’ll send the boots to the store until I need them again.

Inside this massive structure is “Sunset Station’s Strike Zone Bowling Center, opened in April 2005. At the time of its opening, the 77,000-square-foot (7,200 m2) 72-lane bowling alley was the largest in Las Vegas and, at the cost of $26 million, was also the most expensive in the country. In 2007, the alley hosted the PBA Tour‘s Motel 6 Classic.”

Today, I was hoping to visit Susan if the weather improved. But, unfortunately, there’s what’s considered “monsoons” transpiring right now, including flash floods in areas of the freeway I’d be using to drive the long distance to her home. 

After speaking with Susan, we decided it made no sense for me to come today with the flash floods on the freeway and traffic slowing accidents. But, so far, I haven’t missed visiting her every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So instead, I’ll see her tomorrow.

Last night, we had a great dinner with Richard at an old favorite, Cheesecake Factory. None of us ordered desserts, but we enjoyed our meals; spaghetti and meatballs for Tom, Cobb Salad for me, and a chicken dish for Richard. The portions were huge, more than we needed, but it was hard to resist “cleaning our plates.” 

Since we chose not to gamble while traveling the world, fearful of losing money and impacting our strict budget, we don’t bother to go into casinos. Although sometimes, while here, we plan to tour a few of the new casinos of the strip if time allows.

After a long hiatus from bread and gluten, Tom ate his share of the complimentary bread along with the massive plate of pasta. Later, back at Richard’s home, he suffered from awful indigestion from the carb-laden gluten-rich meal. I guess that says it all. I didn’t comment. He knows what’s good and not so good for him.

Tonight, we’ll dine in making bun-less grass-fed beef burgers and turkey burgers (Richard doesn’t eat beef) with lots of vegetable sides and salad. We’ll be back tomorrow with more!

Again, thanks to our readers for hanging in there with us during this less-than-eventful period in the US. In 13 days, we’ll be returning to our world travels!

Photo from one year ago today, July 19, 2016:
There was no post one year ago today due to a continuing poor Wi-Fi signal aboard the Viking Mekong. 

Busy organizing, packing and socializing day!…Baggage fees for Delta…Two days and counting..

St. James Train Station in downtown (known as the CBD, Central Business District) in Sydney.

This morning I began packing the third and smaller of our three checked bags. With no concerns with over-weight restrictions, since we’re boarding a ship, not a plane, I still felt committed to lightening the load and reorganizing the contents. 

A night view of a few of the buildings in Circular Quay, Sydney, taken from the Manly Ferry.

We won’t have to be concerned about the weight until the end of the upcoming Alaska cruise when we fly from Seattle to Minneapolis on May 26th. Somehow, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that we’ll be preparing for that flight in only 36 days.

Sydney Opera House at night taken from the Manly Ferry.

During that 36 days, we’ll be packing and unpacking a total of eight times which includes:
1.  Packing for the cruise – now
2.  Unpacking in our cabin for the cruise to Seattle – April 22nd
3.  Packing to disembark the ship in Seattle – May 15th
4.  Unpacking at hotel in Vancouver for two-night stay – May 15th
5.  Packing to depart hotel – May 17th
6.  Unpacking in our cabin for the Alaskan cruise – May 17th
7.  Packing to disembark the ship in Seattle – May 26th
8.  Unpacking at the hotel in Minneapolis where we’ll stay for six weeks – May 26th

A night skyline view of a small portion of downtown Sydney.

It’s this tight schedule that prompted me to be diligent in organizing our stuff and packing neatly. As a result, upon repacking and unpacking, we’ll do so with the same diligence as on each prior occasion. 

Luckily, as stated above, we’ll only be concerned with the weight of our bags on one occasion…when we fly to Minnesota. In the interim, I’ll certainly consider what items we can toss along the way to lighten that load.

Historic building in Circular Quay area. 

After checking Delta Airlines baggage fees, it appears it will be AU 33.35, US $25 for the first bag for each traveler, and an additional AU 46.69, US $35 for any other bag as shown below:


The most common fees for traveling in a domestic, Main Cabin seat are:

The maximum weight, as shown above, is 23 kg, 50 lbs.  In the past, we’ve had no problem keeping the three bags within this weight range. But recently, we each added some new clothing and supplies.  

Office buildings along the Sydney Opera House Walkway including many shops, offices, restaurants, and condos.
This added weight will leave us committed to lightening our load of older items along the way before May 26th. However, one can never become complacent when it comes to baggage weight.
A portion of the Sydney skyline on a cloudy day.

As for today at 2:00 pm, Bob will drive us to the Manly Wharf, where we’ll walk across the road to walk the Corso to a pharmacy for a few more items we’ll need for the upcoming 36 days. 

Clock Tower in Sydney.

At 3:30 pm, we’ll return to the wharf where we’ll meet Christine and Colin, who’ll be arriving from Sydney on the Manly Ferry. We’ll head to a restaurant and relax for what indeed will be a pleasant get-together with the lovely couple, originally from the UK, having lived in Australia for the past 23 years.

One of our favorite Kookaburras.

In the evening we’ll return by bus to our holiday home as we spend one of the last two nights in Fairlight. It has been a great location, but we’re excited to be moving on.

Have a lovely day and evening!

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

There was no photo posted one year ago. We were sailing on Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas and the WiFi.

It was so slow we couldn’t post any photos. Ironically, last night when we happened to look outdoors, we saw Voyager of the Seas heading out to sea from Sydney Harbour. Here’s that photo!

Last night’s photo of Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas leaving Sydney Harbour. Here’s the link to the post (without images). 

One package arrived!!…Threatening note in the box from US Homeland Security…Yikes!

These houses are all valued well over AU 3,000,000, US $2,269,500.  As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, home prices are high in Australia, more than we’ve seen in any country. This photo shows Bob’s house on the far left. Our apartment is located on the lower level, with doors wide open as shown. The house in the center is up for auction this coming Saturday. We’ll tour the house, take photos and post them here on Sunday along with the results of the auction. (Not our photo).

Yesterday around 3:00 pm, the package finally arrived with our supplies shipped from Nevada to Tasmania and then to us here in Fairlight, much to our relief. Every item was intact except one mentioned below, although it was evident they’d opened most of the things for inspection.

Surprisingly, a note was contained in the box stating that an “illegal” drug contained therein had been confiscated and could result in further action. Oh, good grief. 

Multi-million dollar houses line the shore with small lots.

It was a bottle of  generic Benadryl, an over-the-counter allergy medication we may use on occasion when we’ve have a bad cold, allergic reaction (we’re both allergic to bee stings) or an annoying runny nose. The bottle was in the box, emptied of its contents with the note below, warning of our illegal  shipment.

Had we known this is an illegal substance, we indeed wouldn’t have purchased it from Amazon.
The note we found in the box of supplies from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Gee…we hope the US Department of Homeland Security has better things to do than worry about our bottle of Benadryl. It was this same over-the-counter item that may have saved Tom’s life years ago when we were in Arkansas on our way to a convention when he was stung by a hornet. 

Homes nestled in the hills.

I had him put one of these pills under his tongue to buy time to get him to a hospital where he was further treated. This experience prompted us to ensure we always had a supply of Benadryl on hand wherever we travel throughout the world.
Otherwise, all items were in the box based on the checklist our mailing service had included. So to finally have our driver’s licenses, tax documents, my year’s supply of contact lenses, my new smartphone, a few items of clothing, a variety of nutritional supplements and more, was quite a relief.

Contemporary home facing the beach.  There’s no one architectural style that predominates homes in Australia.

We spent the remainder of the day unpacking the items, checking off the list and of course, I spent time setting up my new phone. Last night, it was quite a treat to be able to go to bed with my phone, read the news and wander off to sleep.

Bob will drive me to the Stockland Mall, where the medical clinic is located. In a few hours, Tom will stay behind and wait for his laptop to arrive. As it turned out, Australian Customs accepted our receipt for the purchase of the computer from Amazon. 

Homeowners continue to renovate their homes, adding significantly to the value.

Subsequently, we don’t have to pay any customs fees or taxes. As the day progressed I “chatted” back and forth with a rep at Fed Ex who kindly agreed to oversee the process to ensure we’d receive the package today. 

Many homes have long steep driveways.  Since it doesn’t snow or often reach freezing temperatures in Sydney, these steep driveways are navigable.

The Fed Ex rep mentioned he’d noticed the link to our site at the bottom of my email and started reading our posts, thoroughly enjoying our story while anxious to read more in his free time. We’ve found it always helps to build some commonality with people from whom we may need some assistance. 

I have no doubt the package will arrive today, especially when we noticed the tracking information had been updated this morning, indicating it will arrive by 6:00 pm.

Many homes are built into the hills making full use of nature.

We apologize for the frequent mention of the pending arrival of these two packages. Hopefully, our readers have been patient with the regular comments over these many past posts, with the contents being essential to us. 

In our narrow little world, a laptop, an unlocked phone, our drivers licenses and tax documents become very important to the quality of our lives. Perhaps, these items are more important than booking o flight, a holiday home, or a cruise.

Small watercraft lined the beach in this area.

Speaking of cruises, in 17 days, we’ll be leaving on the voyage back to North America. As much as we’ve enjoyed this great continent and part of the world, we are looking forward to the next leg of our journey.

Back at you soon! Have a meaningful day filled with beautiful surprises.

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

It was this photo that prompted us to notify Trish and Neil when we suspected something was wrong when tiny Mont Blanc (on the left) was attempting to nurse from his mom while another born-that-season cria nursed from her as well, an uncommon scene. Even Mom Giselle looks surprised by this event. Click here for the post on that date. It was at this time that we all knew little Mont Blanc’s life was nearing an end. For the rest of the story, please click here.