Finally, a new fitness watch and a bag…7 days and counting…

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes was our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the original post here.

Yesterday, after completing the post, I headed out shopping. I don’t care to shop for anything other than groceries which I find quite enjoyable. Browsing through any department store makes me cringe. 

I wasn’t this way in my old life, but with my limited wardrobe over the past seven-plus years, knowing I have to toss something from my one suitcase of clothing to maintain the consistent flight approved weight if I purchase something new. This fact makes shopping less than fun.

Over the past three years, I have been using a blue cloth grocery bag as a means of carrying the necessary items with me when we’re going out for an extended period.

On shorter outings, I only bring lipstick to be stuffed into my or Tom’s pockets. (Many women’s pants don’t have pockets). Now that my flip-open RFID phone case has space for ID, cash, and credit cards, I no longer need a wallet.

Over the past three years, I’ve become tired of using the navy blue grocery bag. With the long and arduous upcoming flight to India, I reconsidered if I wanted to carry that blue bag one more time. I do not.

What I wanted to find was a cloth-type bag that can be squished enough to fit under the seat on an airplane and yet large enough to hold what I usually carry with me onto the plane: phone, camera, cosmetic bag, hairbrush, earpieces, and charging cords and a wide array of odds and ends.

(With this upcoming flight, we’ll need to bring along a few toiletries based on traveling for almost 30 hours, including an eight-hour layover. In checking information on British Airways, it appears they provide toothbrushes and toothpaste, our biggest concern).

As it turned out, I found the perfect item at TJ Maxx, a black Steve Madden padded, parachute material bag that zips with several pockets, all secure, leaving the contents relatively theft-proof. Sure, a thief could steal the entire bag off my arm, the reason I haven’t carried a prominent handbag all these years. This new bag is more of a carry-on type bag.

The next item I wanted was a fitness watch. I’d ordered one online in December, and it never arrived. I am now awaiting a refund. If I don’t see it come through in the next few days, I will contact the credit card company to remove the charge, especially since I have an email apologizing for their error in not sending out their product.

After the trip to TJ Maxx in Mesa (a 20-minute drive), I followed the road circled the mall to the Best Buy store. They had several models, but many included music and Amazon’s Alexa. 

Since Alexa doesn’t work in most countries, I saw no need to purchase the more expensive Fitbit Fitness watch. I selected the FitBit Charge 3 that suited my needs at a fixed price of $149. I’d shopped quite a bit online over the past week researching models and settled on this particular watch.

Yesterday, while wrapping up the completion of setting up Tom’s old laptop for my use, I also set up the watch itself and the app for the device on my phone and the computer. 

By dinner time, I had everything set up and was thrilled with the results. I love my new FitBit. Overnight, last night I downloaded all the photos from my old laptop onto our external hard drive, My Passport. 

Now, I can reformat the drive on my old laptop and offer it to Tom’s sisters if they’re interested. If not, we will recycle it at a proper facility, as mentioned.

Tom just left for the Mesa airport to pick up his sister Rita from South Dakota, staying with Margie for a week. It looks like some fun card playing is on the agenda! There will be nine of us, including Mary and Eugene’s son, Kevin, who’ll be leaving in three or four days.

Once Tom brings Rita to Margie’s home, we’ll pack up food for me and beverages for both of us. This morning Tom purchased a roasted chicken for me to bring today since they’ll all be having sandwiches and chips.

That’s all for today, folks. We’ll be back again tomorrow with more. 

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2019:

Basket, the Bully, was feeling sad after his right ear was nearly torn off in what must have been as a result of a fight he most likely provoked. We comforted him with pellets, apples, and carrots before he took his nap in the hay. For more photos, please click here.

Great time with Staci from Texas…Paperwork and haircut for Tom…8 days and counting…

Staci and I by the entrance to the Red, White & Brew restaurant. The wine and food were excellent, and the companionship was spectacular. Hopefully, we’ll meet up somewhere in the future.

Yesterday, Tom decided to drop me off and pick me up after dinner with friend/reader Staci from Texas. She and I had been communicating back and forth over the years, and it was such a delight to meet her face-to-face.

Tom drove me to the restaurant and picked me up when I called later. The packed restaurant (we arrived at 4:00 pm) had excellent food, wine, and service. As a result, I was able to enjoy some fantastic red wine with Staci. 

The conversation was delightfully varied as we each reveled in the opportunity to talk to one another in person. Also, it was remarkable to share in some “girl talk” often missing from conversations when Tom and I are gabbing with other couples.

We feel so grateful for all the beautiful people we’ve met due to our daily posts. Meeting them in person is a bonus. Now, as we’re about to carry on in our world travels, many readers are writing to us, wishing us well. 

We try to respond to each message, but please bear with us if we fail to do so due to the volume of email messages. Please know that we read every message we receive and, in most cases, respond within 24 hours.

Once we leave Arizona next Wednesday, heading to India, we’ll be traveling for almost two days to reach Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Then, on the train, a few days later, most likely, WiFi will be sketchy. 

By February 8th, after the Maharajas Express (train) ends, our 55-day tour begins, again with unpredictable WiFi. Please bear with us if we’re unable to post or reply to messages as we usually would.

However, we’re hoping to upload posts and photos, which, based on information online, looks like a good possibility. We’ll have to hurry to get it done when our days and nights will be so full. But, as always, we somehow find the time to stay in touch with all of you.

This morning we ventured out in the rain to OfficeMax to print, sign and scan a few documents to send back to the immigration attorney. Once completed, we found the closest Great Clips, where Tom had hoped to get a haircut. 

The place was so packed. The wait would have been at least one hour. Neither of us cared to wait that long. Tom looked online for other facilities only to be told the wait would be one or two hours.

Instead, he decided to show up early tomorrow morning, hoping to be their first appointment. I’ll stay behind and work on other projects, which are many at this point, with departure day looming.

Today will be low-key. I’ll run out for a few last-minute items. Tonight, we’ll dine in. I have completed the transfer of my data to Tom’s old laptop, and all is working well.

In rearranging the items on the start menu and the desktop, I have made Windows 10 work for me which I am using now as I prepare today’s post. I have a lighted keyboard, touchscreen, and one terabyte of storage, and all the features work. It feels good to use a faster machine after dealing with my slow, fast-fading laptop. 

We hope you have a meaningful and productive day and that all is well your way!

Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2019:

On many occasions, we’ve seen several bushbabies on the stand. For more photos, please click here.

Defining our digital needs going forward…9 days and counting…

An Egyptian Goose on the far shore of the Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Tom purchased a Google Chromebook with an entirely new operating system. He was sick of Windows 10 on the Acer 15.6 laptop he’s been using for over a year. I understood his concerns.

Although I tried to help him figure out “workarounds” for the features he didn’t like, (as opposed to Windows 8.1, which he did like), unless a person is using the system day by day, it’s challenging to determine exactly what changes need to be made. Also, a part of this is about personal preferences.

His laptop was running very slow but otherwise seemed to be in good shape. My Acer 15.6 laptop (5 years old) has been showing signs of a possible crash at any time. (I’ve backed up everything, of course).

Our current plan was to purchase two new smaller (11.6) Chromebooks since neither of us cared for Windows 10, nor are we Apple people, and we appreciated the smaller, lighter size of Chromebooks.

Recently, we purchased one Chromebook with the plan to get it up and running before leaving Arizona. If we both liked it, we’d buy another for me this week. 

After setting up Tom’s compact-sized unit, I noticed several features (or lack thereof) that would make it difficult for me to keep records and to do the daily posts. It simply isn’t the most sophisticated device for my needs but works great for email, Facebook, Ancestry, web browsing, managing financial apps, and syncing with his Google phone.

After considerable discussion and the fact that I thought by “restoring” Tom’s laptop to basically “clean it up,” I could start using his with a clean slate. 

Of course, this was subject to its functioning as a new computer. Otherwise, we’d have no choice but to purchase a new Windows 10 laptop for me, which with all the features I need and want, could run $700 or $800.

After the all-day-long process of restoring his laptop and bringing it back to the original Windows 10 operating system, I started entering my information to determine if the restore brought it back to out-of-the-box condition. It did! I was thrilled.

Over the next several days, I will continue to set up my apps and transfer my files. Then, I will restore my old laptop to wipe everything out to see if one of Tom’s sisters can use it. If not, before we leave, we’ll take it to a computer recycling facility.

It will be a significant relief to have this behind us, adding to our peace of mind in leaving the US in a mere nine days. There’s yet much to do to be ready by a week from Wednesday on January 29th, but as always, we’ll get there.

I am looking forward to today’s 4:00 pm get-together with friend/reader Staci in Mesa.

Have a fantastic week!

Photo from one year ago today, January 20, 2019:

The hippo’s skin is gray to brownish-red with pink areas around their ears and under their chin. They have very few hairs on their body but do have stiff whiskers on their broad lips that feel like a broom and a small amount of fuzziness around the edges of their ears and on their tail. For more photos, please click here.

Setting up new laptop today…More tasks before departure…

Two years ago today, this scene at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires particularly caught our eye. For more photos, please click here.

Today is another busy day. This morning we started transferring files from Tom’s current laptop to a flash drive which, once I am done here, I’ll begin loading his new Chromebook with his files.

We’re going to do it a little differently this time. He’s placed most of his essential files into online Dropbox. He’s had some issues with some of his files, creating problems when they’re transferred over. This time, we’ll go for simplicity and only transfer the bare minimum.

If we both like the new Samsung 12″ Chromebook, much smaller than our 15.6″ Acer’s with Windows, we’ll head back to Best Buy to purchase another identical or similar model for me. The weight differential is substantial enough that this transition to smaller, lighter laptops is a big plus for us.

Today we’ll spend the bulk of the day at Colleen and Gene’s house playing the card game Buck Euchre. This morning, Tom got out a deck of cards and re-introduced to me how to play the game. In only a few minutes, it all came back to me.

Years ago, he and I played this fun card game with my sister Susan while she lived with me when Tom and I were dating. It will be fun to play once again.

We’ll rotate playing the four-person game. In between my playing, I’ll work on Tom’s new laptop, getting everything set up and transferred to his liking. He’ll play the game while I’m working on the laptop. Then, I’ll step in and play for a while. 

Over the next several days, we’ll continue to work on other projects we have in the works as we prepare to leave the US in 13 days. We’d hoped to be able to spend time while we’re still in the US, booking properties to rent while in the UK and Europe this upcoming summer. 

But, as it turns out, we’ve decided to see if we’ll have some downtime while in India during our two months in the country. If not, we’ll book everything while we’re on the 29-night cruise before we arrive in the UK and Europe. 

We aren’t worried at all about getting this task completed on time. We have flexibility on dates, and in the worst case, we can always find a bed and breakfast or several hotels within the budget.

Tom just left to walk down to Colleen’s while I wrap this up. I need to stop at the rental office to print a return label for a belt we purchased at Amazon that didn’t fit Tom. Tomorrow, I’ll run it to the post office to return. This morning I ordered the replacement in his size. So many little things to do.

When we’re outside the US, we can’t do any returns, and generally, we’re meticulous in ordering the correct sizes and items that won’t require a return. We erred in this case and have to handle a return.

Off I go, folks. I’ll pack up the laptop and cord, my bottle of Crystal Light lemonade, and a few more items to take with me for card-playing day. 

Gee…I’m looking forward to sharing “BIGGER,” “BETTER,” and “MORE INTERESTING” events in our daily lives.

Stay tuned. We’re only a few weeks away from that transpiring!

May your day be pleasantly eventful and exciting!

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2019:

One year ago today, Little was lounging in the water in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Late posting today…Busy time in Komatipoort and Lombobo…

“Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, if you like than you should have put a ring on it!”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mongoose are very clever little animals.  They stare at us to bring out some eggs which we often do.

OMG!  In a “notification” post I accidentally hit “Last posting today” when I meant to write “Late posting today!”  Good grief, that must have made those of you who read the short notification post wonder, ‘What the heck is going on?!!!”

No, this is not the last posting.  It’s a late posting.  It’s simply one more step the continuing documentation of our daily lives of world travel; some fascinating; some mundane; some educational; some adventurous and exciting and some, let’s face it, at times, totally uneventful.

We never tire of visits from Big Daddy kudus.

Today, was definitely not uneventful for us.  We’re back at the house at almost 2:00 pm and here I am just getting starting on today’s post.  Of course, I’m concerned about all of our readers throughout the world clicking on our link to still find yesterday’s post. 

Sorry for the inconvenience.  I’m typing as fast as my relatively uncoordinated fingers can fly across the keyboard in an attempt to explain why we’re changing the content of today’s story from that which we’d entered earlier today, discussing the issue of Bovine Tuberculosis in Marloth Park.

They are majestic animals, gentle and yet well aware of how powerful their big rack can be.

I must add that after this morning’s interactions with several wonderful people we received valuable information that changes our plan to post the Bovine TB story until we conduct further research which will be accomplished over the next week at the latest. 

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts based on our love and appreciation for the health and well-being of the wildlife in Marloth Park.  We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this upcoming story.

This male has been chasing after this female for weeks.

So here’s how the morning rolled out:  Tom’s laptop has been having monitor issues over the past few weeks after we’d returned from Zambia on the 18th.  Every so often, for no apparent reason at all, his monitor turns into a rainbow of colors and he’s unable to bring up his home screen.

Me, as somewhat of a geek, got to work trying to figure out a solution by utilizing online information some of which indicated it could be a loose ribbon cable.  Tom unscrewed all 18 tiny screws after we’d tried a number of suggestions, including a Windows 10 “system restore,” all to no avail.

These two young ladies stop by making intense eye contact, surely looking for pellets.

Opening the back of the laptop seemed a logical next step to see if we could tighten the loose cable.  No luck.  A total waste of time.  After several hours, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we needed to head to a tech store for help.  Ugh!  Usually, we’re able to resolve our own technological issues.  Not this time.

With Tom’s dentist appointment scheduled at 11:00 am with Dr. Luzaan Du Preez, one of the best dentists in the land, located in the little strip mall near Wimpy’s in the Spar Centre, we needed to stay mindful of the time. 

He needed two fillings replaced.  We’d decided to leave early to go to the market in Lebombo (10 minutes from Komatipoort) to purchase carrots and apples for the wildlife.  Before we walked out the door, we had an unexpected visitor, Kerstin, a new friend I’d spent a few hours with yesterday here in Marloth Park at her bush home.  

A banana farm the road on the way back from Komatipoort.

Kerstin had contacted me to get together to discuss our mutual world travel experiences when she’d seen a post on Facebook on the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers’ page a week ago when we’d done the story on alien invasive plants. (See this link for details). 

This morning Kristin delighted us with an unexpected visit but unfortunately, we were heading out the door when she arrived.  Surely, we’ll get together another time soon to continue our intriguing conversation.  She has quite an illustrious story of world travel.

In no time at all, we were on our way, first to the computer store, then to Lebombo, then to the dentist, then to the supermarket, then to the meat market and then, returning to Marloth Park, most likely a two-hour turnaround at most.

It’s always a pleasure to see one of our striped friends on the road.

At the computer shop, we were warmly greeted by staff member Samantha who immediately introduced us to Nico who looked at Tom’s laptop to inform us it wasn’t sensible to fix or replace the monitor.  Instead, he showed us yet another workaround which so far, since we returned to the house, seems to be working.  Tom merely has to press the screen with his fingers in a specific location and the screen returns in full.   

Nice people, thoughtful people, honest people.  What more could we ask for?  Where does one find service such as this?  If you need a computer repair anywhere near Marloth Park, Komatipoort and a number of surrounding towns, this is the place to go:

the TechSHOP
Office: 013 013 0310 / Fax: 0866 529 491
Shop 19, Komati Spar Centre
Rissik Street, Komatipoort

Arno Joubert


Nico Joubert


Yet, our visit to the Tech Shop wasn’t over.  As we packed up the laptop to head out the door, Arno stopped us saying he remembered us from “movie night” in the bush some months ago. A conversation ensued and somehow got around to the topic of Bovine Tuberculosis on which we’re hell-bent on getting our information “right” before we post the story.  He directed to Deidre who is the director of “Wild and Free” rescue, rehabilitate and rescue centre. 

Impalas are very shy around humans seldom visiting us in the yard.

He explained she’s currently involved with considerable research and study on Bovine TB and this was who we should see.  Once this post is uploaded, we’ll call Deidre and set up a time to meet with her at her facility and learn more about this important topic.

Once we were out the door of the Tech Shop, we were reeling from the kindness and consideration of people we’ve met along the way.  Off we went to Lebombo market where we purchased eggs for the mongoose, free-range eggs for us and carrots and apples, all at excellent prices.  Time was running short.  We headed to the dentist’s office.

Tom was taken in promptly for his appointment.  I joined him for a few minutes and then took off to grocery shop.  We’d parked the car close to the supermarket so once done shopping, I could put everything in the car and then walk the short distance to the dentist’s office which is coincidentally located next door to the Tech Shop.

Two males checking available treats.

While I’m grocery shopping, our dear friend Don (of Kathy and Don) approached me with a hearty hug and welcoming kiss.  They’d just returned a few days earlier from Pretoria and were excited to accept our invitation for homemade pizza at our house this upcoming Saturday night. 

Joining us will be Linda and Ken, our mutual dear friends from the UK who are returning to Marloth Park in the next few days.  I was thrilled to hear they all could make it but I was especially thrilled to discover this while at the supermarket in order to buy the items I’d need for the dinner party for six.

Well, wouldn’t you figure, Kathy had a dentist appointment, the same dentist, right after Tom’s appointment was completed at noon?  Another coincidence.  Moments later we spotted Kathy also shopping and the three of us engaged in delightful chatter.  When does one have such fun at the market.

Obviously, warthogs aren’t quite so shy near humans other than an occasional few.

By the time I’d gathered all the items to round out the upcoming meal, I loaded the groceries onto the check out counter, paid for the groceries and began walking toward to car to find Tom entering the market, done with his appointment and ready to load the car for me.  He was thrilled with the ease of his dentist appointment and was very relieved and cheerful.

After loading the car, Don found Tom in the parking lot and the two of them chatted enthusiastically.  Afterward, we drove the car across the lot to the meat market and made purchases to last for about 10 days.  After adding the bags of meats to the car, we ran into Kathy and Don again.  Her appointment was done and she too was thrilled with her first appointment with the good dentist.

They invited out for a drink at the bar at the golf course but with all the perishables in the car, we needed to be on our way.  We’re looking forward to seeing them all again on Saturday.

Male impala drinking from the cement pond in the yard.

Finally, we were on our way back to Marloth, anxious to put everything away while still reeling from the day’s interactions with the wonderful people we encountered along the way. 

Whether it was the sweet cashier at the market, the friendly meat market owner who helped with our order, the staff at the computer store or our friends adding a special touch to the day’s activities, it was a spectacular day. 

After years on the move often without nearby friends or at times, overly friendly shopkeepers, we appreciate every moment of kindness and generosity of spirit we stumble upon in our day-to-day lives.

Every evening the bushbabies entertain us.

No more than a minute after we returned, we had more visitors, this time of the wildlife kind.  We put down the grocery bags and immediately got pellets ready for our animal friends.

Tonight, we’ll cook a nice dinner and prepare the veranda for another blissful evening in the bush.  Is it any wonder we love it here in Marloth Park, here in South Africa…here on the African continent and here, on this planet?

May you love it wherever you may be!


Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2017:

Our two new pieces of luggage in easy-to-spot colors.  Tom chose the purple while I chose this peachy color.  Each bag is expandable and lightweight with four double-wheel rollers. (As it turned out these bags are holding up well after one year’s use).  For more details, please click here.

Observance for fallen soldiers on Memorial Day in the US…Filling in the blanks…While the world spins around us…

We moved the bird feeder further from the veranda, which has attracted birds at last without our looming presence. Our prize of the day was this hornbill who stopped by for some seeds.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Nothing like a croc to pique one’s interest when wildlife spotting on the aptly named Crocodile River.

Today is Memorial Day in the US, a special day for observance for fallen soldiers in any wars as described here from this site:

Memorial Day
Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG
The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend in 2008.
Official name Memorial Day
Observed by United States
Type National
Observances Remembrance of American soldiers who have died in military service
Date Last Monday in May
2017 date May 29
2018 date May 28
2019 date May 27
2020 date May 25
Frequency Annual
“Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.[1] The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, will be held on May 28, 2018. The holiday was born on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day – Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving. In contrast, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day; a minor U.S. remembrance celebrated earlier in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.”

We offer love and prayer for those who lost loved ones during wars, not only in the US but also worldwide. 

Although we are far from our home country, we still hold this special day in high regard for those who served our country.

Most on photo safaris long to see the “cats.” But sightings aren’t all that common. While in Kruger last week, we spotted this cheetah at quite a distance, too far for a good photo.

In the US, this is a national holiday where all public businesses and buildings are closed, yet many stores remain open for big spring sales of clothing and merchandise.  Most often, citizens celebrate by holding barbecues, picnics, and traveling to other locations to visit family members and friends.

Sometimes we scramble the eggs and place them in a bowl.  Tom sets a half dozen or so on the ground at other times, letting them figure out how they’re distributed. It’s funny to watch them pick up the egg and bang it on the ground or on a tree root to crack it.

Camping, boating, and fishing are common in many states during the three-day weekend, especially in our original home state of Minnesota. This is also when traffic accidents (and other incidences) are prevalent with the high volume of vehicles on the road.

May everyone observing this special day have a safe and stress-free experience while many take advantage of this time off work or school. One can never be too careful during these high-risk times.

This is a Hadada ibis. It’s a boisterous bird we hear overhead each night at dusk.

Here in South Africa, it’s another Monday. Last night’s massive rainstorm, miraculously without any power outages in Marloth Park, was a much-needed blessing for wildlife. Water holes, ponds, and rivers are replenished with much-needed sources for the wildlife and locals.

Even our small cement pond in the yard is replenished today from the heavy stream of rainwater last night.  This morning the sun is shining, although a bit overcast, and the birds are singing their unique tunes.

Between the helmeted guinea fowl, the dozens of mongoose, and much more, we can hardly keep up! 

We’ve had many visitors all morning, including kudus, guinea fowl, mongoose, and bushbucks, keeping us busy until a while ago when I needed to sit down to get to work on today’s post.

“Wildebeest live in large herds, composed of animals of both sex and their offspring. Life in the herd protects predators. The main predators of wildebeest are lions, hyenas, cheetahs, and African wild dogs. During mating season, breeding groups composed of around 150 animals will be created.”

This morning, we had a human visitor, our friend Kathy, who dropped off some grocery items we hadn’t been able to find at the Spar or other supermarkets in Komatipoort. 

She and her husband Don, both great friends of ours, just returned from their home in Pretoria. Thanks, Kathy, for shopping for us! She shopped for me in the much more well-equipped markets in this bigger city with a population of over 2 million.

“The heaviest land mammal has a weight up to 6 short tons (5.4 t), the African elephant. This enormous mammal measures approximately 24 feet (7.3 m), and eats 500 pounds (230 kg) of vegetation like grasses and leaves a day.”

We reimbursed Kathy for the expenditures, chatted for a bit, and she was on her way. Soon, we’ll be planning some social time together while they spend a few weeks back here in Marloth Park.

We were watching elephants from the Marloth Park side of the Crocodile River.

In an hour, we’ll be off to Komatipoort for my final doctor appointment for vaccinations. We’ll stop to purchase more pellets, visit the pharmacy for a few items and return to Marloth Park to spend the remainder of the afternoon on our usual drive searching for more wonders of this spectacular area.

To our friends, family, and readers in the US, have a safe Memorial Day and stay well and happy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2017:

It was raining in sheets in Minnesota during the drive back to our hotel around 8:00 pm, typical for this time of year. For more details, please click here.

Day 29…Cruise to South America…One Buenos Aires task accomplished aboard ship…Scary email about upcoming Antarctica cruise…

The end of this small island off the coast of Punta Del Este, Uruguay, looked unusual with the tall trees.

Sightings from the Veranda while Cruising”

View from the veranda of the town of Ushuaia, our favorite port of call on this cruise.

The time has flown quickly, which is typical while cruising. Seemingly, suddenly, it’s coming to an end. In a mere 48 hours, we’ll be off the ship and on our way to our hotel in Buenos Aires.

We’ve hardly noticed that it’s Christmas time, although the ship is decorated in many areas. It’s time to get ourselves into the holiday spirit, but over these past five years of travel, it seems to have alluded us to a degree with no home, no tree, no gifts, and no family, with whom to celebrate in person. 

Instead, we focus on the spiritual meaning of this time of the year and find our own unique ways to make it memorable for both of us. Magically, as is the nature of the holiday season, opportunities present themselves, and somehow we find our hearts filled with the merriment of the season in one way or another. This year will be no exception.

Punta del Este is a popular summer holiday location.

Of course, there Tom’s birthday on the 23rd. Although we don’t exchange gifts, we each find a way to make our birthdays memorable for one another. This year will be no different as we settle into our boutique hotel in the Palermo area of Buenos Aires on the day of his birthday.

Last night, we eliminated one task we had planned for Buenos Aires when we used the balance of our cabin credit of US $210 to purchase another duty-free camera. Yes, I’d have liked to upgrade to a higher quality camera, but with the 21% VAT tax imposed on all purchases in Buenos Aires, we felt buying it duty-free on the ship made more sense economically.

A small uninhabited island off the coast of Punta del Este.

We purchased an identical camera to our current camera, a Canon Power Shot SX60 HS, for several reasons:
1.  We’re both comfortable using it
2.  It takes excellent photos.
3.  We already have four batteries (the new purchase makes it five batteries). We have three battery chargers.  (We easily recall running out of batteries while on safari in the Masai Mara over four years ago.  This will never happen again)!
4.  The price online at Amazon was the same price we paid last night on the ship at US $429, but we avoided US sales tax, shipping costs, customs fees, and VAT tax. It was a no-brainer.
5.  With the remaining non-refundable cabin credit of US $210  to use toward the camera, we are left with a balance of US $229 on our cruise bill for this second leg.  This made sense to us.

With this task out of the way, we’re greatly relieved. Once the holidays end, we’ll tackle the remaining tasks; travel clinic for vaccination updates, new epi-pens, and malaria pills; dentist for my tooth; and purchase a few toiletries for the Antarctica cruise.

View from the ship of yesterday’s port of call, Punta del Esta, Uruguay.

Speaking of the Antarctica cruise, yesterday we were shaken when we received an email from our rep at Vacations-to-Go, stating she received an email from Ponant stating they never received any of our vital documents (including passport copies, ID info, and medical documents), which we’d sent by email on November 3, 2017.

In searching through my “sent” email, I found the original message we’d sent that included everything they’d requested well within the range of their required dates. 

How did this happen?  Most assuredly, it was lost on their end. I ran into trouble trying to resend the 19 PDF pages with the ship’s poor Wi-Fi signal. After several attempts, I decided to send them in five small batches.  After patiently waiting for each one to “go,” we finally received confirmation from Ponant that they’d received everything. Whew! That could have been a nightmare!

Christmas display on deck 10.

Here again, we could kick ourselves for not confirming they received the documents once we sent them. We should have learned our lesson when a few months ago, the same thing happened when Railroad Retirement (for Medicare) said they hadn’t received Tom’s waiver of Part B. At that time, we also had confirmation the document had been sent as required. Again, we had to resend the document.

Oh, well.  I guess we live in a world where one must check and recheck, never making assumptions about the efficiency of a variety of systems within our realm. So it goes.

Today, our ship is docked in Montevideo, Uruguay, and once we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’ll be disembarking the ship to check out the big city. Tomorrow, we write about our experiences and share many photos we’ll take during our visit.

Christmas display on deck four outside the Trellis restaurant.

Tomorrow, we’ll pack and begin sharing favorite photos from this cruise and prepare the “final expenses” to share on the 23rd. If you’d like to see where we’ve traveled thus far in South America and throughout the world, please click on the link under the map on the right side of our main page, under the photo of us in Petra, Jordan. 

It even shocks us when we see where we’ve been.  And, it scares us even more, when we realize how much more there is yet to see. The world is a vast place, and we’re happy all of you, our dear and loyal readers, are with us along the way.

Continue to enjoy your holiday festivities if you celebrate this occasion and if you do not, enjoy your every day as if it was a holiday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 21, 2016:

The wind causes a rippled pattern on the white sand beach in Binalong Bay in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Shopping malls throughout the world….Final photos from Managua Nicaragua…

The adorable costumed girl waved when she spotted us with a camera at the Metrocentre Mall in Managua, Nicaragua.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Sun setting behind the mountain

We’ve learned a lot visiting shopping malls throughout the world.  Neither of us cares to shop. In our old lives, I couldn’t drag Tom to a mall for anything. Now that shopping is generally off our radar, he seems to find it interesting from a cultural basis.

The Metrocentre Mall in Managua is a popular destination for tourists.  It was located across the street from our hotel and a convenient spot to tour. We didn’t buy a thing.

What are we looking for?  It’s fascinating to see products and pricing in each country and shopping to purchase the various items. Often, we find what may be local middle-income shoppers and a wide array of tourists from all over the world.

These smaller stoves are found in many vacation homes throughout the world.

In our travels, we’ve discovered that tourists love shopping. Many have a mentality that shopping is one of the motivators for visiting certain parts of the world, especially those known for great bargains.

Prices are high in electronics stores in Nicaragua and Costa Rica instead of what we’ve paid for such items in the US.

A faction of tourists isn’t aware (or perhaps they are aware) that many products sold at tourist shopping venues are often “knock-offs,” which may or may not be quality versions of the pricier originals. But, even these are snapped up by tourists. Locals are seldom seen making purchases at knock-off shops.

We giggled when we enter the store, “As Seen on TV.”  I guess Costa Rica isn’t that far away after all.

We’ve often noticed cruise passengers disembarking the ship at various ports of call, wheeling empty suitcases ready to be filled with locally designed and made wares, trinkets, clothing, and art. 

Here are a few of our links to shopping in a few countries:

3/6/14  Shopping in the souks in Marrakech Morocco Shopping malls in Paris

7/21/15  Shopping mall in Trinity Beach Australia

Years ago, when we occasionally traveled, I suppose I wasn’t much different than other tourists. It was fun to purchase gifts for family and friends and odds and end clothing and household items for myself. Tom would have nothing to do with any of it.
A tall Christmas tree was being decorated in the mall.

When we decided to travel the world in 2012, we explained to our family members that we wouldn’t be purchasing trinkets for them or our grandchildren that we discovered throughout the world. None of our adult children had room in their homes for useless decorative items. Nor did we want our children purchasing gifts for us at Christmas and our birthdays.

This store was packed with Halloween products.  We were there on October 29th with only two days to go for the big event.

Thus, we mutually agreed we’d only buy gifts for our six grandchildren, all purchased and shipped in the US. Our grandchildren especially enjoy gift cards to be able to buy digital equipment and games. As they get older (the eldest is 17), gift cards are the only sensible purchase.

Visitors standing in a long queue to get into the Western Union store.  Inside the store, dozens were seated in chairs awaiting their turn.

Since we’ve recently replaced all of our clothing while in the US this past summer and recently purchased all of the required attire for Antarctica from Amazon, we’re set until we return to the US for a visit in 2019.

The mall has two primary levels, which included a movie theatre.

When we return to the US, we’ll replace any worn items. In the interim, we have enough to last until that time.  We’re very cautious in laundering clothing to ensure nothing is ruined or shrunk in the wash. We prefer to hang many items outdoors to dry and, in most vacation homes throughout the world. We seldom have a clothes dryer.

This is a robot-type ride for kids.  Note the popular global clothing store in the background, originating from Italy.

Wandering through the Metrocentre Mall in Nicaragua was reminiscent of malls in the US with many familiar store brands, kiosks, and food courts. Although these types of malls are less attractive to us than the shopping areas in remote parts of the world, it’s always interesting to peruse the products offered in other countries.

We stopped to drool over baked goods, purchasing none.

As for grasping the pricing, as soon as we arrive in any country, we quickly learn the foreign exchange rate in comparison to US dollars, allowing us to make sensible decisions when grocery shopping or making any other types of purchases. 

Several small Halloween kiosks were set up for kids.

This morning we were both up and out of bed by 5:30 am. I’ve already made most of tonight’s dinner, one of our favorites, Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. Over these past weeks, we’ve made a point of cooking our favorites when we know we won’t be cooking for 80 days once we leave Costa Rica in 15 days. 

Wow! The departure date is coming up quickly. We’re savoring every moment in Atenas, Costa Rica.

May you savor your day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2016:

Our ship docked in Darwin, Australia, for the day. Here is the downtown area of Darwin with office buildings, restaurants, and shopping. For more details, please click here.

Shopping done… Not always easy from afar… The big balance is now due for the Antarctica cruise…Ouch!

*Please see our comments below as to these included photos.

Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Museum in Atenas.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This pudgy blue and gray bird was the first sighting for us.  This may be a Blue-Gray Tanager. 

The online shopping hasn’t been easy.  Some items weren’t available in correct colors and sizes. Tom ordered an item and received an email stating it had been shipped and only moments later, received a second email stating it wasn’t available in his preferred color.  We contacted Amazon requesting further information.

I ordered a few items and received a message stating the package was lost in the mail and I had to reorder elsewhere. The multiple items don’t arrive in one package.  Often there are many packages arriving over a series of days.

Railway photos from decades past.

One has to be careful items aren’t shipped from China or other international locations which may take weeks, if not months, to arrive.  Shopping online requires checking and re-checking.  We’ve each ordered at least a dozen items.  It can be tricky.

We’re hoping everything will arrive before November 12th when we’ll have the package shipped to the hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  Timing is everything in this case. 

If any item is missing, we’d have to purchase it in Buenos Aires during our one month stay prior to the cruise.  We don’t want this hanging over our heads during a time we’ll prefer to be sightseeing and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of this big city.

Various paper money over the years.

Yesterday, I made our doctor appointments for complete physical exams by November 2nd, a few days after we return from Nicaragua.  Ponant, the cruise line, requires several medical forms be completed and sent to them between 45 and 90 days prior to the cruise. 

This is to ensure passengers are in sufficiently good health to embark upon this expedition cruise.  There will be a doctor-on-board but based on the location, deep in Antarctica, emergency evacuation isn’t possible.  Of course, having such an exam is by no means a guaranty a passenger won’t have a medical emergency, as we so well know. 

Telegraph machine.

Apparently, the local doctor we chose speaks English so we’ll be readily able to explain what we need and provide a medical history as required with her signature.  Doctor Candy is highly regarded in Atenas and we anticipate this process will go smoothly.

Speaking of this cruise, the final payment is due on Monday, October 16th.  This morning I wrote to our rep at Vacations to Go as to which credit card to use for the balance of US $13,875 (CRC 7,964,736). 

We’re relieved we’d already paid US $20,625 (CRC 11839472) over this past year toward the grand total of US $34,500 (CRC 19,804,208) fare for the two of us.  We’ve never paid so much for any cruise or venue of any type.  This is a huge chunk out of our budget.

Old photos of the train station.

This was one of those items on our preferred locations list to visit as we travel the world.  This seemed to be one of those items one must accomplish “sooner, rather than later” when medical issues might prohibit such an expedition, especially in getting off the ship onto the Zodiak boats to spend two to three hours standing outdoors in the cold on an island or ice floe.  This may not be possible for the average 80-year-old.

One additional motivator (among many others) in deciding to return to Africa after this cruise is to “lick our wounds” to recover this huge expense when the cost of living is much less in Africa than in many other parts of the world.  Then again, there are those amazing animals, those amazing friends we left behind and an endless array of unique experiences awaiting us.

The train was a big point of interest for the community.

During our remaining time in Costa Rica, as we’ve done so far, is to maintain as tight a budget as possible.  No more rental cars, no more tours or outings requiring an outlay of cash. 

Its only with this careful planning and budgeting that we can and will continue on these adventures which ultimately require some sacrifices along the way.  It’s not as if we can stay “home” and save for a big trip.  We have to do it as we go wherever we may be at any given time. 

Going forward over these next 41 days, until we finally leave Costa Rica, our belts are tightened.  As a result, we won’t be getting out much over these next weeks, other than the round trip to Managua Nicaragua on October 28th staying for two nights.  Of course, we’ll continue to make weekly trips to Atenas for shopping and taking photos.

Juan Ramon was thrilled to show us old photos.

*Subsequently, over these next six weeks we’ll be posting photos we’ve already taken (no repeats, although they may be similar to photos we’d posted earlier) from our various sightseeing outings up to this point.  We apologize for this and hope you’ll continue on with us until once again we’re on our way to yet another cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires over 30-nights. 

We’ll be getting off the ship at every port and much to our delight going through the Panama Canal one more time.  Talk about new photos!  When the cruise ends in Buenos Aires we’ll be staying there for another 31-nights while awaiting the 16-night Antarctica cruise.  Surely, Buenos Aires will inspire many new photos of the fabulous city.

Please stay tuned.  There’s so much more on the horizon!  Happy day to all!


Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2016:

It was easy to spend lazy afternoons lounging on the cabana in Bali, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Is Tom procrastinating?…Shopping, his nemesis…

Pelican resting on a log on a pond at Zoo Ave, the bird sanctuary.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

It was pouring rain when I took this photo from the veranda.  These two little Tropical Kingbirds didn’t seem to mind the rain.

There’s never been a time where I’ve seen Tom enjoying shopping, not in a store, not grocery shopping, and certainly not shopping online for clothing.  In most cases, I’ve purchased everything for him such as was the case when we replaced our entire wardrobes while we were in Minnesota.

We’ve known this daunting task of deciding on clothing for Antarctica was facing us and we’ve both procrastinated for some time.  Now, we’re down to the wire.
Spending only one night in a Fort Lauderdale Florida hotel on November 22nd, (US Thanksgiving eve), and the necessity of having of having everything arrive in one box, we’re having everything sent to our mailing service.

A police building in a small town on the mountain road.

Once it all arrives, the mailing service will pack it into one large box and ship it to the hotel with a plan for it to arrive about a week before our arrival, in the event of any mailing delays.  We’ll purchase insurance for the package and send it USP for a fast arrival. 

If anything does go wrong, we’ll have time to reorder everything to have it shipped to Buenos Aires where we’ll be for one month prior to the Antarctica cruise…backup plan in place.  We always have to consider contingencies when we’ve experienced plenty of shipping issues throughout the world over these past five years. 

Even some of the newer homes don’t have clothes dryers and hang their laundry outdoors. 

We both committed to getting the shopping done this week allowing plenty of time to receive it all in time.  None of the items required shipping fees.  The only shipping fees we’ll have to pay is for sending the box from Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale which will be a lot less than we’ve paid for international shipping.

Having added other supplies and products we’ll need for our year in Africa, this will be one large package of supplies.  We’re hoping to avoid having anything shipped to Africa if possible.  No matter how hard we’ve tried, it’s not possible for us to exist with products offered in many countries.

Many homes are small single story styles.

In Australia which is a shopping haven, we couldn’t find a replacement laptop for Tom suitable for his needs.  We ended up paying US $400 (CRC 229,814) for shipping fees for the laptop from the US to Australia.  

I’ve been using my laptop since January 2015.  It’s still working with only one issue with the touchscreen.  I can’t swipe from the right to the left to access the “networks” screen.  With an easy workaround, this hasn’t been a problem for me.

Gated villa in Roca Verde, our neighborhood.

Tom is worried, we’ll be in South Africa and my computer will crash and I’ll experience the same frustrating situation as when I dropped it and broke the screen in in January 2014.

Okee Dokee and I drove the long distance to Nelspruit to purchase another laptop.  It was a disaster when my only option was an inferior HP which proved to be a dud. 

Here’s the post from the date I dropped it and here’s the post from the date Okee Dokee and I drove to Nelspruit to find another.

Many homes located outside of the planned communities aren’t gated.

I certainly don’t want to go through that again. But, I hesitate to replace this laptop that is working so well for me at this point.  It’s a decision I’ll have to make within a week or two prior to the shipment being sent to Fort Lauderdale. 

At the moment, Tom is finishing his order on Amazon spending a little less than I did.  By the end of today, he too will have it completed and we can put one more task behind us.

Corn growing along the road.

With the sun shining this morning, we’re hoping to spend time by the pool.  Yesterday was sunny and warm during which we stayed in the pool until our fingers were wrinkled. 

As always we swam, we laughed, we talked, and we shared stories of our lives long before we knew one another. We’re so grateful for this unusual life we live and the ways in which we spend it together.  Life is good.

May your live be good as well.


Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2016:

In Bali, these smaller buffaloes than the scarier big males, present a huge task for these young boys as they walk them to the river and back.  For more photos, please click here.