Inside the Gulf of Aden..All is well so far…Making final plans to arrive in Dubai in three days…

Due to poor internet connection we are unable to post photos today.

After another uneventful night at sea in the Gulf of Aden, we’re looking forward to nearing Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Its hard to believe that our seventh cruise is almost over, with the eight to begin on June 4th.

In three days, we’ll be in Dubai, settling into our condo, unpacking everything with the intent of further trimming our load and, much to our delight, doing our laundry.

As we get close to arriving at our next location, we find a fair amount of communication is necessary with the property manager or owner of the property to fine tune the details such as:

  1. How do we get a key?
  2. What time can we get in?
  3. If we arrive early, where can we wait, if waiting is necessary?
  4. What’s the situation with maid service, if, available.
  5. How will the security deposit of US $300, to be paid in cash be refunded to us?

In the case of Dubai, there is a glitch that we knew would transpire with little we can do about it.  The property, being a condo hotel, has a check-in time of 3:00 pm.  Our ship arrives in the port of Dubai at 6:00 am. 

We’ve found that we can take our time in order to disembark the ship approximately four hours after arriving in port eventually grabbing a cab to the property. At most, this will take us to 10:30 am. The property manager agreed to meet us at the Elite Residence Hotel at 2:00 pm, leaving us approximately 3 1/2 hours to kill.

At the moment, we’re awaiting a response from him as to the availability of a lobby at the property. Waiting there would be an ideal situation as long as we have access to a restroom and a place to sit.  We can easily entertain ourselves using our MiFi or reading books on our phones.

We’ll have breakfast on the ship before we disembark, so food during the waiting period is no issue for us since we only have two meals per day at most, breakfast and dinner.

As for the maid service for the 13 nights, we’ve asked the property manager to arrange a cleaning one week after we arrive at a cost of US $20 including tip. What a bargain! 

Yes, we certainly could have cleaned the condo ourselves, but we’ve decided that if maid service is available at our vacation homes for a reasonable cost, we will take advantage of it.  This avoids the necessity of purchasing cleaning supplies only to leave them behind and spending time cleaning and thinking about cleaning.  Of course, we clean up after ourselves daily, doing laundry, cooking and dishes.

This particular rental requires a US cash deposit of $300.  Most often, they prefer to snail mail a refund check after vacating the property, at times not until two weeks later.  This isn’t the easiest solution for us,  although our mailing service in Nevada will send the check to our bank at our request, using the addressed envelopes we left with them.

Last night, we attended a huge disco party on the Royal Promenade, the well designed “street” mid ship, lined with shops, bars and restaurants.  On the bridge over our heads, the ship’s professional singers and dancers performed many familiar songs of the 70’s while the crowd danced in the “street.”  Having arrived early for seats in the “outdoor café” we couldn’t have found a better spot.

The people watching was stupendous, the conversation loud and animated and we had a blast, reminiscing of earlier days in our lives.  Watching “old timers” many 10 to 20 years our senior, dancing along to the music warmed our hearts.  We couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces, staying until the music ended.

Actually, a smile on our faces has become a normal state of being for us.  No matter the hassles, the luggage, the comings and goings, every day we meet new people, experiencing new adventures as we learn more and more about our world, its cultures and its people.  We’re very grateful.

Obrigada, Gina, for a memorable day, seeing next year’s vacation home!…What a pleasure!

View from the Garden Café this morning as we waited to disembark in Madeira, Portugal.
Gina and I in the kitchen. We can’t wait to sit on the barstools drinking coffee and enjoying the view of the sea from almost every room.
Another view of the wraparound veranda.
The drive as we left the house in the Riberia Brava area.
We entered one narrow tunnel after another on our drive around the island.

Today, reminded us why we chose to travel the world. Enmeshed in another culture while driving through the winding mountainous roads of the quaint villages of Madeira with expansive views of the ocean around us, we felt enriched and in awe.

Gina, owner of the home we’re renting next year was excited to show us the house.The 20 minute drive on the winding mountainous road was breathtaking.
The winding barely traveled road from the house was easy to navigate.
Gina said we are welcome to pick the fresh organic vegetables daily from the garden her fathers tends to each day. He’ll also deliver free range chickens to our door.

Our future home for almost three months beginning May 15, 2014, we looked at this port of call with different eyes than one would look on an excursion from the ship.

Another view of the garden from our future home.

Comfortable living room with leather sofa, WiFi, TV with some US stations, sound system and extraordinary view will make us feel right at home.

Cozy working fireplace in living room.  Unlikely, that we’ll use it during the spring and warm summer.

Gina, owner of our future home, albeit short term, met us promptly at the pier welcoming us in broken English with universal hugs while giddy with enthusiasm.  Warmth and charm exuded from Gina in a manner that captured our hearts as we all chatted on endlessly while listening intently to decipher the meaning of her words.

The well appointed kitchen had everything we need, including a bottle of fine red wine Gina will save for us.
The kitchen was well equipped with dinnerware, pots and pans, serving pieces, wine and beverage glasses along with many utensils.  Gina lives across the street and offered to bring us anything else we may need.  Of course, we’ll invite her and her husband Carlos for dinner. Carlos speaks no English, but perhaps by then, we’ll speak a little Portuguese.
Nook area off the dining room.

Somehow, we managed to communicate well enough to enjoy the hours we spent together in and out of her Citroen, touring the 35 mile long island, crossing its many bridges, traveling through its multiple narrow tunnels, all the while reveling in the unique design of its homes and buildings, entrenched in rich history and tradition.

Didn’t see too many of these in the US, although quite common in other countries. The home has three full bathrooms. Perhaps, I will select one exclusively for me, the one with the Jacuzzi!
Oversized bath with Jacuzzi. 
With three bedrooms, either of two could be the master with two en suite bathrooms as well as a third guest bathroom.
All areas are modern and well equipped.

As we maneuvered through the narrow winding roads on a 20 minutes drive, Gina took us to see “your house” as she frequently referred to the awe inspiring home we’ll be renting next year. 

Plenty of room for guests!
View from the veranda.
Third bedroom with king bed, private veranda and Jacuzzi bath.

Pulling into the tiny driveway, she steered us to the wooden front door to reveal the home exactly as it had been pictured on the rental website, that in person, illustrated a warmth commensurate with her charming demeanor. 

Intriguing stairway to second level.
Every turn presented an interesting view, The opposite side of the island was less desirable with cloudy and rainy weather.
The colorful narrow roads held one interesting view after another.
We’ll never tire of the quaint neighborhoods.
An outdoor restaurant in Funchal, known for its fresh local seafood was recommended by Gina.
We walked along the boardwalk in the town of Capanario, near “our house” as described by Gina.
More narrow roads, lined with upscale homes on the road to Funchal.
Many of the road were one-way and driving was on the US standard on the right side of the road.  There were many round-abouts, tunnels and bridges throughout the island.
The road, as we neared the Port of Funchal.
Our future home.  Perfect for us. I wanted to move in today, but we cheerfully tucked it away for yet a year to come with so much to anticipate in the interim;  a cruise to Dubai including a 13 night stay, a Mediterranean cruise, two to three month stays in homes in Tuscany, Kenya, South Africa and Morocco, all before we return to Madeira.
Colorful buses and tourist vehicles busily moved through traffic.

Ah, please pinch me.  Tom, on the other hand, easily settles into the reality of our lives on the move, while I engage in childlike wonder at the prospect of it all.  Together, we make a good pair of world travelers, filling in the blanks for one another while tempering the excitement to a manageable level.

View of our awaiting ship, the Norwegian Epic. 

Yes, obrigada, Madiera, for welcoming us to your little piece of the world.  Next year, we’ll share our stories with our loyal readers from all over the world. Obrigada dear readers, for sharing this journey with us.

Back to our current home, the Norwegian Epic, for seven more nights.Then, one night in a hotel in Barcelona. Then on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
For more information on this wonderful vacation home, please visit Gina at her Facebook page.  She’s quick to respond to email inquiries and uses Google Translate for English translations.

Photos of our new adventure!…Unbelievable location!…

The open courtyard of our small palace (good grief!) in Marrakesh, Morocco.
View from upper level overlooking courtyard.

It’s a “done deal,” our new vacation home named, Dar Aicha, the former residence and art studio owned by a renowned artist in the Medina district, walking distance to sites, smells, markets, and local entertainment. 

One of the dining areas.

(This song is an “earworm” I can’t get out of my head. To listen, click here).

The documents are signed and returned to the owner using our portable Prinstix printer and Doxie scanner.  Our deposit is paid via PayPal from which we’ve received a confirmation along with an email receipt from the manager of the property.

The traditional meal prepared by Madame Zahra.  An adjustment will be made to accommodate our diet, although, several items here will work for us.

The dates booked: March 1, 2014, to May 15, 2014, a total of 2 1/2 months, a little over 11 months from now.  We found the property at HomeAway, a vacation home rental site we’ve used for most of our bookings. 

Dining on the veranda.

For the full listing on Homeaway, click here. Please note, pricing is “per person” on the website, not per couple.  Although this pricing was higher than our vacation home rental average, we made adjustments in our budget. By flying as opposed to funds for cruising that we had already included in the budget, we were able to compensate for the difference, which ironically proved to be only an additional $150 total. 

The reading area overlooking the courtyard.

Yesterday, we made a few adjustments, a day here and there, with property owners on either side, leaving us with flying time, but no lags in the schedule that subsequently could have required us to stay overnight in a hotel, an unnecessary added expense. 

This meal would work for us, minus the bread.

We read all the reviews.  They were some of the best we’ve seen so far.  We checked the web for negative comments.  There were none.  Our minds are at ease.

The TV lounge. We’re not anticipating many familiar TV shows, but on quiet nights we’ll use our movies we downloaded.

The salon/living room.  We can each lounge on our own sofa.

We want to enmesh ourselves in new cultures.  Well, we’re getting a full-blown dose of cultural differences which we’ll embrace, which we’ll welcome with open arms, willing to adapt, willing to accept and to try to blend in as much as possible respecting and observing their clothing morays and customs.

The pink bedroom.

No tank tops, no low cut bosom revealing tops, no legs showing above the knee.  Thank goodness the weather will be in the ’60s during our visit.  I’m your basis “cold a_ _ and won’t mind wearing skin covering clothing at that temperature.

Off we go to Marrakesh, Morocco, a city, a country rich in culture, history, winding streets with an endless array of colorful outdoor markets, shops, and vendors. Tripadvisor listed it as Travelers’ Choice®, 2012 Winner.

 The pink bedroom’s en-suite bath.

Why did we choose Morocco?  Note the proximity to Madeira, Portugal, our location after leaving Morocco. There are direct flights from Morocco to Madeira, making this an easy transition.  The airport is a mere 2 miles from the property, with a staff member driving us each way.

Beginning on September 1, 2013, we’ll spend 3 months in Kenya on the east coast of Africa until December 1, 2013, when we’ll fly to South Africa, staying until March 1, 2014, at which time we fly to Morocco. From there, we’re off to Madeira, Portugal, approximately 1200 miles west of Lisbon.  This new location was a logical “on the way” next stop.  See map here.

The property which will be ours exclusively includes a full staff, house manager, and full-time cook, Madame Zahra.  Speaking no English, the house manager, Samir, will translate our dietary needs to Madame Zahra.  On average for the two meals we eat each day (breakfast and dinners) it will be roughly $38 per day. 

The turquoise bedroom.

The many reviews indicated that MadameZahra’s cooking excelled as well as the local gourmet restaurants leaving many to prefer dining in rather than go out. This cost fits within our combined budget for dining in and dining out, still leaving us ample funds to dine out a few times per week to further add to our enjoyment.

Our laundry will be done for us, the property cleaned daily, towels and soaps provided and the utmost service at our disposal at any time. This will be interesting for us since neither Tom nor I are used to being waited upon, other than by one another. We will adapt.

The turquoise bedroom’s en-suite bath.

Due to Dar Aicha’s insurance regulations, we won’t be allowed to do our own cooking.  Most likely, we’ll dine out a few times per week.  We will be able to serve ourselves snacks, beverages, and prepared foods in the refrigerator as desired.

The third bedroom with an en suite bathroom.

As much as we enjoy our own home-cooked meals, this will be an enormous learning experience for us. Of course, we’ll share details and photos of the meals prepared for us.

The third bedroom’s en-suite bath.

The practicality of this location is only superseded by our excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunity to experience yet another culture so far removed from our way of life. Through this, we’ll learn and grow, sharing the stories along the way, enriching our travels, enriching our lives. 

Photos from a walk…Living life on our terms…Our anniversary was yesterday on the 7th…

Our waiter took our anniversary photo last night after dinner. 

As we’ve mentioned in past posts, we don’t have transportation while in Placencia Belize. We made a hard decision when we moved to Laru Beya on February 5, 2013. With the cost of our rental doubling for two remaining months that we’re here and a budget staring us in the face, we opted to only rent a vehicle as needed.

Palm fronds we discovered on a walk yesterday.
So far, other than the one week in early February that we buzzed around in a rented golf cart at $350 per week, we’ve managed just fine much to our mutual surprise. We thought we’d feel trapped. We don’t.
These are obviously fake cactus used to light the road at night. See the orange one on the left.
Our resort has golf carts, motorbikes and cars available if we need one on a moment’s notice. Most likely, later in the month, we’ll rent a car to explore some of the surrounding villages after heading to the capital city of Belmopan where we’ll extend our visas for the final time.  Its an hour and a half drive north of us.
Local sculpture.  We often see variations of this style.
Without a doubt, there is a huge temptation as one travels the world (from our limited experience thus far) to splurge to fuel one’s perception of what a “vacation” looks like with frequent siteseeing expeditions.  Most of these outings in this remote area require guides resulting in fees upwards of $300 for the two us for a five to six hour day trip.  Some are more.
Another lighted fake cactus next to another local sculpture.
We’re not on vacation. We’re living in foreign lands. When we lived in Minnesota, we seldom visited any of the local “tourist” attractions after our kids grew up. Who does unless one has out of town company or on an outing with grandchildren?
Sculpture of cactus plant.
When we designed our budget, a process that continued over a period of many months, we created a plan that, health providing could last us for the remainder of our lives leaving our investments and savings in tact.  Should we vary from the plan, everything changes.  Suddenly, we could begin depleting our resources. 
Locally crafted painted working fountain.
Remembering our motto, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity” we carefully map out our finances to stay within the budget, compensating from one month to the next should we unintentionally vary as we did when making a decision to move to Laru Beya
Locally painted sign advertising Sweet Mama’s Restaurant.  Notice the wood French fries
in the in the wood basket on the upper left side of the sign.  Cute.
We only dine out twice a week now (ordering whatever we’d like), cooking in the remainder of the time.  We don’t get massages and spa treatments.  I do my own manicures and pedicures and now Tom is considering having me cut his hair. Yikes. We don’t have to go that far!
We’ve learned to re-use items we may have tossed in our old lives.  We hand wash our underwear, bathing suits and tee shirts.  We don’t order beverages when we sit by the pool.  When cooking we increase our bang for the buck by making enough to last another night, thus reducing our cost.
We don’t dine in the “extra charge” restaurants while on cruises or purchase beverage packages that can run up to $800 per person per cruise.  The only beverages we purchased aboard ship are those with our dinner, one or two cocktails for Tom, iced tea for me (for which there’s no charge). 
We had a small 3″ cactus plant like this in Minnesota in a south window. 
grew 1″ in 26 years. This plant is about 3-4 feet in diameter. 
If we purchased the cruise beverage packages with an average of eight cruises per year, we’d spend an extra $10,000 per year or more.  If we purchased the excursions on the cruises, we’d spend another $10,000 per year.  It changes everything.  It takes out the “ease, joy and simplicity” we so much relish in our new way of living.  We’d rather spend our money on no less than a balcony stateroom for extra space and comfort than on extra charges we don’t really need.
Is this mindfulness difficult?  Do we feel deprived?  Not at all. Especially when its attached to the reality that we can go on forever if our health holds up and if we so choose. 
We’d rather generously tip our maid Gloria, our server, our cab driver and all the Gloria’s and Estevan’s we’ve yet to meet than take a one day outing where all the tourists rightfully go while on their much deserved once or twice a year vacation.
Living our lives on our terms. Everyday may not be an exciting adventure. It may be only a walk along the road, enjoying the local art and culture.
It truly is a splendid life.