Contentment in our new home…One year ago today…Adventures at high seas….

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from our veranda. (Borrowed photo. Hazy today).
In our last post, I’d planned to tell the rental car story. Not enough for a full post, I’ll include the story in tomorrow’s post with photos of the car, all the fees, and more house photos. 

Where do we begin? We’re living in a beautiful house in the Campanario area of Ribeira Brava, Madeira, Portugal about 30 minutes from the pier and the airport. The house is overlooking the Atlantic ocean with every modern convenience; a microwave, high-speed Internet, a soaking tub (heavenly), a dishwasher, and oh my, a newer front loading washer (our first load is on now).

This is where we’re sitting now as I write this. We covered the glass coffee table with a black throw enabling us to put our feet up with our shoes on.  The sofa and pillows are very comfortable much to our delight.

There’s no clothes dryer, but instead one of those racks we used in Dubai and Italy. I can’t wait to hang the clothes outside on the veranda using colorful clothespins. Ah, how we’ve come to appreciate the simple things in life. 

Still tired today after yesterday’s exhausting unpacking, grocery shopping and totally settling in, today, I’m still a bit sluggish and slow-moving even after sleeping seven hours last night, not quite enough. 

Last night’s dinner wasn’t the feast we’d anticipated when we were too pooped to make anything other than cheese and sautéed onion scrambled eggs topped with Greek yogurt with a side of Portuguese sausage. That’s all we could muster. Tonight will be better.

Our new clothes dryer. At 70F, 21C it was pleasant hanging our first load of wash outdoors. The darks are in the washer now. I left room on the rack for the second load soon to be hung. 

Later in the evening, I had a plate of small bites of some of the finest cheeses Portugal has to offer, reminiscent of the cheeses in Italy. What a treat! Tom had microwave popcorn and this morning donuts with his coffee. (Darn, my guy won’t give up the junk food)! He hasn’t had a donut in a year. 

The view from the floor to ceiling glass windows and doors is breathtaking. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit hazy these past two mornings and I haven’t been able to get any clear shots of the ocean. As soon as it clears, you’ll see them here. 

See Tom’s donuts on the right in our new kitchen. Ugh!

I borrowed the above veranda photo from Gina, who visited this morning and will answer all of our questions via email. We met her a year ago when our ship docked at the pier in Funchal for the day. She picked us up from the pier showing us the island and the house. We adored her, the house, and the island.

Granite countertops, microwave, dishwasher, great gas stove and oven, and views of the mountains and the ocean when washing dishes. Once the haze lifts we’ll include more photos of views from inside the house.

Yesterday’s grocery shopping was a challenge which we’ll explain further in the days to come. Surely, in time, we’ll figure it all out. It’s all about the layout of the store, the unfamiliarity of products, reading labels, and the fact that they don’t carry some items we use. We did find unsweetened coconut flour, but not coconut oil or avocados. We’ll keep looking.

My view into the dining room while sitting on the sofa in the living room.

The bed isn’t as comfortable as the bed at Dar Aicha. It’s a reality we must accept living in other people’s houses. In time, we’ll adapt to the thinner harder mattress. 

The wood-burning fireplace in the living room. Its cool here now and warming up each day I doubt we’ll use it.

Otherwise, the house is comfortable including the leather sofa in the living room with plenty of soft and fluffy throw pillows and a coffee table which we moved closer to the sofa for our feet when lounging. 

The second living room upstairs holds less appeal for us when we love the views on the main floor. There are TVs in each living room with a few English speaking channels, mostly news. That’s fine.

The dining room where we’ll have all of our meals. Tom reset the table this morning after emptying the dishwasher.

Last night we dined at the dining room table; placemats, nice flatware, and plates. For the first time in two and a half months, we watched the show Shark Tank on my laptop while we dined. It was delightful to be back to some of our familiar routines.

We’ve made a list of errands we’ll tackle next week; a trip to a computer store (Tom needs a special screw for his laptop), a store where we can purchase a needle and thread, (Tom ripped his Travel Smith shirt pocket when we were at the airport. With the right color of thread, I can easily sew it).  

Also, we need to find a health food store and a health club for me. It appears all of this may be possible in Madeira. There are numerous shopping malls.

In time, we’ll visit some of the popular tourist spots; the farmer’s market, the shops along the sea, the mountains, mainly revolving around amazing scenery. 

The view from the opposite side of the dining room toward the sea.

The island is breathtaking with us situated at a prime location to enjoy the views. Although not isolated, we are within 30 minutes of anything we’d like to see, restaurants and shopping. The people are friendly and oddly, the communication is not as difficult as I’d thought it might be. The Portuguese language has similarities to Spanish which I understand well enough to manage. 

The problem I experienced at the grocery store yesterday as tired as I was, I kept saying “grazie” (Italian), “merci” (French) and “obrigada” (for thank you, one of few words I know so far in Portuguese) with a little English throw in.  It was confusing when my brain wasn’t working well anyway due to the exhaustion. 

Tom’s view from his spot on the sectional sofa. Once it warms up a little, we’ll surely spend time sitting on these lawn chairs.

It takes time to fully embrace a new country and find our way around especially when Gina told us not to bother to use “navigation.” It doesn’t work well on the island of Madeira as we’ve already observed when Google maps aren’t able to readily pinpoint locations. We’ll figure it out. We always do with Tom’s amazing sense of direction.

Over the upcoming 75 days, we’ll continue to post daily with more house photos (today we’ve included the main floor only) and many photos of our exploration of this lovely island. Stay tuned.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2013:

As the mercenaries boarded the ship one year ago today carrying the “package” in order to protect us in the event that pirates attempted to board.  Over a period of days, we had several “pirate drills” to prepare passengers in case of an “event.” Last year a movie with Tom Hanks, Captain Philips, was a true story of just such an incident in the Gulf of Aden.  Pirating in this area has continued as recently as January 2014. Many passengers said they wouldn’t have gone on the cruise had they known of the risk. For us, it added to the experience and we felt safe. Miles out at sea, we were surrounded and protected by several military ships escorting us through the dangerous Gulf of Aden.For details of the story, please click here.

Two days ago, on May 15, 2014, the US State Department issued a warning to US citizens and others not to travel to Kenya, mentioning Diani Beach, the area in which we lived for three months, from September 2, 2013 to November 30, 2013. We chose to live in Kenya for the opportunity to go to the Maasai Mara on safari which was number one on my bucket list. 

Thank God, mission accomplished, as the most treasured experience in our travels, along with the next three months we spent living in Marloth Park, South Africa. 

Thursday, we left Africa after living in three countries for almost nine months: Kenya, South Africa, and Morocco. We are grateful for the experiences and for our continued safety during the entire period. When traveling to high-risk countries, one must seriously weigh the benefits and the risks and carefully consider and ensure that security measures will be implemented during the entire visit. 

We are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had and wouldn’t change a thing, even our most recent time in Marrakech, all of which round out our continually growing collection of amazing experiences.

Current cruise itinerary…Gulf of Aden…pirates? Warning from Captain…see letter and map below…

After we go through the Suez Canal, we’ll enter the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden.  Of course, it will be a relief once we depart this area.
We aren’t going to worry. Right now, I’m more concerned about the upcoming three and a half hour walk across the desert to the Great Pyramids this Friday.
(Correction:  Yesterday I wrote that we visit the Pyramids on Thursday when it is actually on Friday. HiIt’s easy to lose tract of the days of the week lately.)
Bite sized pieces. That’s our lives, living one day at a time, taking in all that we care to, at our own pace, free of expectations and one adventure at a time, if at all possible.

Our Current Cruise Itinerary

May  6, 2013 to May 21, 2013

Royal Caribbean – Mariner of the Seas, departs 5/6/13, 15 nights

May 6 Barcelona, Spain 5:00pm

May 7 At Sea

May 8 At Sea

May 9 At Sea

May 10 Cairo / Giza (Alexandria), Egypt 7:00am

May 11 Cairo / Giza (Alexandria), Egypt 3:00pm

May 12 Suez Canal, Egypt (Cruising)

May 13 Luxor (Safaga), Egypt 7:00am 10:00pm

May 14 Petra (Aqaba), Jordan 9:00am 10:00pm

May 15 At Sea

May 16 At Sea

May 17 At Sea

May 18 At Sea

May 19 At Sea

May 20 At Sea

May 21 Dubai, United Arab Emirates 6:00am

Last night, after an enjoyable evening out to dinner with our new friends, a good meal, a great Broadway type show in the Savoy
Theatre, a stop in a Lotus Lounge and a leisurely stroll along the Promenade, we sauntered back to our cabin.
Early birds that we are, up by no later than 6:00 am most days, we try to get to sleep by 11:00 pm, not always an easy task. Our
body clocks are back into our regular schedule after struggling with the nine
hour time difference from Belize to Barcelona. It took us almost three weeks to adapt.

My earlier prediction that sailing across the seas slowly would make adapting easier was shot as the daily changes across the
ocean took us deeper and deeper in “biological clock” hell. 

At the end of last week, we lunged into a massive change by getting up at 6:00 am with much difficulty, falling on our faces by 11:0 pm that first night. In 24 hours, we were back on track.

Anyway, last night as we entered our room, we discover the usual next day’s program of activities and two other items:

One…this cute “towel per” elephant on our
“Towel Pet” wearing my sunglasses.

Secondly…this letter from Captain Flemming, Master, Marinerof the Seas, purposely placed in plain view next to the “towelp pet”

Letter awaiting us when we returned to our cabin after our evening out.

On the last ship, the Norwegian Epic, we had met a couple who had cruised this route a few years ago, telling us intimidated stories of guards with machine guns guarding the ships at night, frequent and
strict drills and a similar protocol as indicated in this letter.

We’d anticipated the likelihood of certain procedures being put into place, necessary for safe sailing through these high risk pirate laden waters. Perhaps, not to this extreme, until we talked to the couple on the Epic, whom we thought at the time, was
enjoying getting a reaction out of us.

Although, in essence, it may not have been intended to elicit fear any more than our recent telling of the 50 foot swells and 65 MPH winds we experienced for three days on the Atlantic crossing of the Epic.

Are we scarred?  No. This huge ship, has many security measures in place along with a very important drill coming up on May
15th at 10:30 am, a full day before we enter the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden