Playful night in Belize despite “24/7″…



 Tom and I enjoyed the balmy evening, sitting on the beach in front of our villa.

I’ve never cared for the expression, “24/7,” thinking it sounded as if it were a lazy way of saying, “all the time,” “around the clock,” or “every minute of the day.”
 

The words “24/7” never crossed my lips until a few days ago while lounging at the pool, chatting with a guest at Laru Beya, it fell out of my mouth when she asked me, “Now that you both are retired, how does it feel to be together all of the time?”

Without hesitation, I blurted, “Being together 24/7 has worked well for us.  We don’t whine, snip or pick on each other. It works!”  I let out a little gasp, shocked at myself for having said the dreadful expression.  24/7?  Yep, that’s us. 24/7?  Yep, that’s most retired people. 

A few hours later, while again lounging, this time in the comfy chaise on our veranda, I allowed my mind to wander to the conversation with the woman.  After 22 years of being together with busy work schedules and personal lives, we’re finally together.


We shot this coconut tree photo in the dark on the beach in front of our veranda. 

How do couples make it work?  Over the years we observed many couples on their way to, and eventually into retirement.  Some made it work.  Some didn’t. 

Early on in our relationship and in many years to come, Tom and I surrounded ourselves with a role model couple we adored, Sue and Chip, our dear friends and neighbors four doors from us with whom we spent many enjoyable hours. 

Entrenched in lively conversations on countless occasions we discussed every possible topic, over fabulous food and drink, during holidays, special events, as well as on Chip and Tom’s shared birthdays on December 23rd. 


Hold it steady, Honey.  Its a little blurry!

As a couple, Sue and Chip personified the ideal of retirement.  Chip, retired as an orthopedic surgeon, used the finite hand skills he’d acquired as a surgeon to fulfill his artistic bent busying himself as a sculptor, artist and singer.  Sue, a charming hostess and friend to many, played tennis and entertained guests, surrounding herself with meaningful social and academic adventures.

Well rounded as individuals, they came together fulfilled and content, lovingly and unselfishly reveling in each other’s interests and activities.  Observing them during our countless times spent together, we knew we needed to follow suit into our own retirement with caveats we learned from Sue and Chip (never spoken but observed):

1.  No nagging, no complaining, no snipping and no negative tone of voice when asking or responding to anything at all.
2.  Expand on or develop new interests to fill a portion of your time in gratifying endeavors, sharing what you’ve learned with your spouse opening new avenues for conversation.
3.  Spend time with friends and family building relationships of your own.
4.  Socialize together always speaking well of one another with a twinkle in your eye.  Never complain about your partner’s bad habits (which seem to worsen as we age) to others, including family.
5.  Share financial status with one another on an ongoing basis especially if one handles the money more than the other.
6.  Discuss life’s concerns in a productive manner, inspiring solutions and resolutions together as a couple.
7.  Compliment each other, always seeking new ways to express your interest and attraction to many aspects of your partner, not merely complimenting their outfit for the evening (which in itself always earns brownie points!). 
8. Always give one another credit for accomplishments even if only one of you did most of the work.  After all, it is a partnership.
9.  Have fun!  (This can be achieved in many ways, if you know what I mean!)
10. Have more fun!

This is what we learned from Sue and Chip.  This is what we strive to achieve every single day.  It’s a choice, isn’t it?  It’s not a matter of circumstance one falls into via good or bad luck.  Do we accomplish it “24/7?”  No, but like any good habit, its easier to fall back into the goodness, if one so chooses.

We lost our dear Chip the end of May last year (see blog post in archives for June 1, 2012).  We miss him.  We’ll always miss him.  But, in us (and in Sue and many others who knew him and easily loved him) his legacy of love, laughter and passion for life continues on,  along with the fine example of a happy and fulfilling retirement as an individual and as a couple.

Last night we had fun, as we so often do, prompting our silly pictures posted on Facebook and again here in this blog today.  May it serve as a reminder that this, dear friends, is what retirement means to us, not traveling the world on one adventure after another but, being together living our lives to the fullest, living in the moment, with a “twinkle in our eyes” of what is yet to come.

Be well.

Sometimes it hurts…

Awakening at 5:50 am after a fitful night, feeling exhausted from “running” in one confusing dream upon another, a wave of sorrow ran through me.  

This past Sunday was the memorial service for our beloved friend Chip. I wrote about him in my June 1, 2012 post (please see the archives) and was honored to be asked by his wife and our friend, Sue, to share that post during the service, with the many devoted family members and friends in attendance to say their last goodbyes to this very fine man. 

Lying in bed, thinking about Chip no longer being four doors away, that involuntary rush of tears filled my eyes. Deciding to distract myself, I ventured to “read my phone,” a habit I’ve acquired since first owning a smart phone; read my email, peruse last night’s texts arriving after we’d gone to bed, check out my newest Facebook blurbs and scan through Engadget‘s daily updates for the latest advances in technology.

Spotting a lengthy text from my dear younger sister Julie, a Hollywood TV producer, I breezed through the usual, saving her message for last. She plans to make her last visit here soon to once again celebrate her birthday. I was touched by her words, “Your home has been my haven, my peaceful place to go to recoup, to recover, to celebrate so many times in my life.” The tears flowed freely.

I was reminded how hard it must be, not only for us, but for all of our loved ones, to no longer have access to this comfortable home, surrounded by water, abounding with the gifts from Mother Nature and often overpowered by the aroma of loving prepared home cooked food.

It wasn’t perfect. It never is. But, it was our home for many years. We did our best to make it “home” for a little while to whomever graced our door, to send them home with returnable containers filled with food, always hoping they’d return soon to fill them once again. And they did.

While I allowed a little sob to escape my lips, determinedly I jumped out of bed, anxious to tackle the day’s tasks, so many of which lately revolved around the “preparations,” a seemingly endless list that must be accomplished in 3 months and 8 days from today, the day we leave.

WorldWideWille, a fine dog 

Scurrying around the house, bath water running, I emptied the dishwasher, filled and fired up the tea pot (still not drinking coffee!), neatly made the bed, and stopped to take a deep breath while staring out the window.  

My eyes fixated on the tiny headstone, a gift from a dog loving friend, where our little Australian Terrier WorldWideWillie was laid to rest only 15 long months ago. 

(If you are a dog lover, click the above link to his blog, written from his perspective, over the last days of his life. Please scroll the archives to get to the beginning). 

The tears, not quite gone, reappeared with a sob, for a moment, sucking the air out of my lungs.  Willie was named for our interest and love for the wealth of information provided by the Internet so long ago, as this blog was named as a tribute to him, for our interest and love for him. 

Ah, life is so complex, yet so simple, so joyful, yet so sad. We lose the ones we love, both human and animal, maybe now, maybe later, grasping each moment as a gift, as a memory that we behold wherever we may go for however long we may have.

The house and the things in it, the ambiance created by its warmth and charm, the breathtaking views surrounding it, is merely the tools that we used to build the memories. When the tools are gone, the memories will remain, forever in our hearts and minds.

A half hour later, ready for the day, my tears dried, a second cup of tea in hand, I heard a knock at the door. There stood my next door neighbor and friend, smiling from ear to ear, just in time for me to whip up a low carb breakfast of gluten free, Portobello mushroom, Vidalia onion, and spicy pepperoni omelets laced with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Life is good.

 

No bed bugs for us!…

These ideas just pop into our heads.  We research.  We discuss the options.  We consider price, shipping costs, quality, weight, and most of all, how badly do we need it.

Both Tom and I cringe at the thought of bed bugs.  Who doesn’t?  

We currently have a dual king Sleep Number bed, for us, the most comfortable bed in the world.  The fact that the head and foot of each side of bed raise up by two individual remote controls (as well as adjusting the degree of firmness), resulting in the necessity of two separate mattresses and box springs. 

The only drawback has been the difficulty of the cuddling, being divided by a crack between the two mattresses.  We have managed to compensate for this quite well, thank you.  Use your imagination. 

Giving up our bed is not easy for me.  It is the only piece of furniture to which I will sadly say goodbye. Suffering with a painful spine condition, the bed has been a lifesaver for me over the past 9 years since we made the pricey purchase.  Tom could sleep on a bed of nails!  He won’t miss the bed.

As we wind down here, the topic of bed bugs has come to the surface. Will our vacation homes have more or less risk of bed bugs as opposed to a hotel?  We’ve decided that we would rather haul around a solution than haul around several thousand bed bugs in our luggage.  

As a result, we will need zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers!  Yes, we’ll now be hauling an extra 9 pounds (approximate weight. We will weigh them when they arrive).  This may sound foolish and overly paranoid.  But, I ask, have you seen photos of bed bugs or the risks to one’s health?  Yikes!  

Yesterday at noon, laptop in hand, frosty iced tea beside me and parked in my comfy chair, the online search began for the zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers.

A new dilemma, entered the picture.  What size do we buy? A few of the houses we are renting, have a king sized bed, some are queen while others are simply old fashioned double beds (talk about cuddling).  It would be impossible to haul varying sizes.  

Most king-sized beds have a split box spring.  After much research, we discovered the importance of covering the box springs as well as the mattress.   

Solution: purchase two zippered queen-sized box spring covers in the event of double box springs on the king beds and, purchase one zippered king-sized mattress cover, although too big for the smaller beds, can be tucked in under the mattress.  

After searching through ten various bedding sites, to determine full retail price, quality brands that we also allergy proof, bed bug proof and comfortable to sleep on (no vinyl, no latex), I found my way back to eBay for some serious bed bug free shopping.

This was not the easiest item to find. The quality and pricing was all over the place. After a good hour and a half of searching, I finally found what we needed, the king mattress, the two queen box spring and the two king pillow covers, all meeting our criteria. Grand total $173.17.  

Each time we will arrive at a property, before unpacking our bags, we will have to cover the mattress, box spring and pillows of the bed we will sleep in.  We may be exhausted from traveling, may have been flying for 24 hours or more, may want to fall on our faces on the bed.  

Then again, when we leave for the next location, we’ll have to remember to take them off of the bed early enough to wash and dry them, and fold them properly to fit into our luggage.  Not an easy task.  If we have an early departure with no time for laundry, we will be bringing an airtight sealed bag that we will carry on in order to keep it separate from our luggage until we can launder them when arrive at the next spot.  Not an easy task.

We console ourselves for this daunting task by reminding ourselves: no more lawn to mow, no weeds to pull, no windows to wash, no hauling patio furniture, inside and out, no carpet to shampoo, no cars to wash, no hatches to batten down in winter, no more utility bills and on and on and on.  

Life is filled with trade-offs.  Yes, we are trading one load of tasks for a whole new world of tasks, in a new environment, with new people around us, with new scenery to enjoy.  But one thing remains the same, we will have each other. And that, dear readers, is how and why we do this; to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with our lover, our best friend and our favorite companion with whom dreams are made and ultimately realized. 

So, one more item is knocked off the list, that will give us peace of mind, reduce stress and add to the enjoyment of “living in the world” for no less than three years and maybe, health providing, many more years to come.

Be well.

Sunday Morning…

Ceramic tea set our granddaughter used to serve us “tea.”  I saved this set for her as we made totes for our grandchildren filled with memorabilia.
As we sat in our comfy chairs this morning, a rerun of Sunday Morning playing in the background, our precious little granddaughter almost three years old, served us “pretend” tea from this tea set which had gone unnoticed on the bookcase for almost 26 years.
Where I found this miniature tea set fails me. Was it an arts and crafts fair, an antique shop, Apple Days in Excelsior, or merely a local garage sale? In any case, most likely I didn’t pay more than $10 for it. 

But this morning when our tiny overnight visitor served us the tiny cups of “pretend” tea, it was priceless. When she leaves later today to return home, I will carefully wrap and place this little treasure in the bins we are saving for each of our grandchildren, little treasures from our past for our treasured young loved ones. Ouch!

Wiping tears from my eyes, Tom suggested I look at the TV for a moment to see a story on Sunday Morning about Fiesta of which we have main dinner service for 25 plus a wide array of plates, serving pieces, bowls and glasses. 

In 2004, we remodeled our kitchen combining three rooms into one large space. Due to our close proximity to the lake, zoning restrictions prevented us from “building out.”

With seating for 12 at the giant wood island, eight at the 60″ square table, three at the corner banquet and two more in comfy chairs for a total of 25.

River rock granite and stones on side of fireplace.
Our Fiestaware dishes brought out the colors.

Thus, began our (mostly mine) fixation on dinnerware for 25. Searching for months online for style, function and price, we finally decided on Fiesta for several reasons:

1. We were able to choose four base colors all of which matched our river rock granite counter tops and hand picked river rock boulders in the fireplace. This resulted in either a mix and match place setting for smaller groups or one or two color place settings at any time.

2. Timeless style – Fiesta was introduced over 80 years ago

3.  Durable – I am constantly dropping things (or, as Tom would say,  I’m “a bull in a China shop.”

4.  Easy to find replacement pieces on eBay and other web sites.

5.  Playful or elegant depending upon the selection of our many matching linen napkins and place mats and, of course, the manner of folding the napkins.  Yes, I have been using linen napkins all of my adult life, folded in a style befitting the occasion along with other decorative accouterments including flowers, candles, flatware, etc.

Sample of the colors in our Fiesta dinnerware.

This was fun! Tom wasn’t into cloth napkins when I met him. In time, he came over to the other side, leaving me chuckling when he occasionally helped set the table, gingerly placing the folded napkin in the correct spot. That’s my man!

Let’s not forget for a moment that we met halfway on the multitude of differences we immediately observed when we started dating. (Those will be a point of discussion in a future post). Adapting to each other’s taste and differences is part of the reason we will be able to continue to be happy when we’re together 24/7, beginning this October 31st! We are continually challenged and intrigued by these differences while being delighted by the accommodations we each make to please each other.

Needless to say, Fiesta… in its entirety will be sold at our upcoming estate sale or sooner. Bye, bye dishes! Any takers?P.S. If its hard to say goodbye to dishes, how can one fathom saying goodbye to family and friends? Stuffing that for now. Will deal later.

He liked his shoes!…He liked my shoes!…

Buying gifts for Tom has always been a dilemma.  His hobby is ancestry.  What does one buy for a person obsessed with their ancestry?  He recently purchased another year of his annual dues for Ancestry.com.  Only a week ago, he purchased his DNA test from Ancestry.com to discover yet more about his roots. 

I could have presented him with a trip to Ireland to look for his ancestors, but duh, our travel plans are set for the next three years or more and, he’s already traveled to Ireland twice, BJ (before Jess).  

In the past, I have presented him with books, tools, electronic gadgets and household “fix-it” paraphernalia and, every other year, swim shorts with matching, colorful tee-shirts. This year I was at a loss. I couldn’t buy him anything other than that which he could put into his suitcases.

In an effort to ensure he had a nicely wrapped gift to open for Father’s Day, I reviewed the remaining items he needed for our adventure, deciding on the double duty aspect of giving him gifts while fine tuning his packing. Ah!

Yesterday morning after a breakfast of low carb, gluten free coconut flour pancakes, eggs and meaty bacon, I presented him with his gift, neatly wrapped in one big box with Happy Birthday paper (have to use that up) adorned with a matching black “guy” bow.  We were celebrating the last Father’s Day we’ll spend in our Minnesota home.

For Father’s Day I purchased three swim short sets for our travels.

When Tom left for a few hours yesterday morning for a traditional Father’s Day activity with some of our kids and grandchildren, I decided to do the unthinkable;  go to a mall!! His enthusiasm over his water shoes piqued my interest while I had visions of fancy high heels floating around my head for the many formal nights on the seven (so far) cruises we have booked.  

Tom has always loved seeing me wear high heels, mainly pumps, no toes showing. Over the years, I have worn them less and less, fearful of falling and injuring myself.  As the fashion trend to wear high heels (over 3″) has escalated (no pun intended) these past several years, I kept convincing myself that wearing high heeled shoes is bad. 

One pair “water” shoes on left, dress sandals on the right and “insect guard” long sleeve shirt and, what Tom refers to as the “French Foreign Legion” type hat with a neck protector that also has been treated with insect guard” 

Generally speaking, high heels aren’t comfortable. They pinch. They cause blisters. They cause corns and bunions neither of which I surprisingly don’t have, after years of wearing heels in the 70’s and 80’s. 

Adventuresome spirit possessing me lately (zip line still a maybe), I decided to do whatever I could to find a few comfortable pairs of three or four inch heels to wear with my dressy dresses on the formal nights aboard ship.  Comfortable heels? Oxymoron?

I decided to put my shoe size vanity aside (81/2) and buy a wider width of my otherwise normal width feet to see if this would reduce the discomfort.  Don’t get me wrong, I can easily walk in high heels after much experience, but comfort seems to be more of a need than a want once a person hits their 60’s.

While at the shoe store, I only grabbed the 81/2 W.  Amazing!  I found these two pairs of perfect styled shoes, albeit not the pumps Tom prefers, that will be divine matches for two of my three fancy dresses, but I had to order the third pair when they didn’t have them in stock.  Not only were they comfortable, I could almost jog in these heels.

Rather pleased with myself after the successful trip to the mall, I reveled in spending a grand total of only $73 for the four comfortable pairs of shoes.

Note that my new “water” shoes on the right are almost identical to Tom’s (although mine were less than 1/2 the price of his)!  Imagine, we’ll match!

Returning home in the early afternoon, I began preparing his choice of dinner, a repeat from only two weeks ago: low carb, gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free homemade pizza. 

When Tom arrived home, I rushed him off to the bedroom to see the shoes.  He giggled that the water shoes matched his and he liked the bargain price of $73. But his eyes narrowed as he contemplated the strappy high heels sitting on the bed, as opposed to a closed, no-toes-showing, pump.  

One solution to those narrowed eyes; I put on the most strappy of the two pairs and began prancing around the room awaiting a reaction. He waited for me to wobble.  I didn’t.  He breathed a little sigh of relief.

And then, that appealing toothy smile came across his face along with the crinkling of the little lines around his blue eyes.  He liked the shoes.  

The continuing prescriptions saga…

On May 17, 2012, I posted concerns about our prescription refills when we are out of the US. As is the case with most insurance plans, the servicing mail-order pharmacy will not send more than three month’s of medications at any time.

Writing that post prompted me to contact the mail order pharmacy to request an exception, due to our unusual circumstances of our being out of the country for years as opposed to months.

Here was the conversation with them: 

“We’d like to request that we receive 12 months of prescriptions in October 2012 before we depart for our journey. A year later, we will ensure we are at a location with an address and have you mail them to us for another year. Our doctor has approved this.”

“Oh, we don’t send the prescriptions outside of the US,” he said with authority in his voice.

Hum…I mused to myself. My choice was either to alienate him by complaining about their policy which was surely futile or, give him a proposal. Here’s what I proposed:

“Sir, we will be getting a new address in the US when we establish residency in another state in December 2012.  Also, we will be obtaining the services of mail handling company in the same state.  Could you send the prescriptions, 12 months at a time, directly to that address?”

“Gee, I don’t know,” he quips, question marks flying around his head.

“Can you find out?”  I asked.  This was like pulling teeth!

“Uh, yea. Can you hold?”  The authority was gone from his voice.

On hold for 15 minutes, he returns with his answers. “Thank you for holding. We’ll be sending you forms in the (snail) mail with instructions.” 

“Oh, I have poor handwriting (true).  Can you email them to me or are they available online?”  I asked with the utmost of sincerity.

“No, they have to be snail mailed and completed by hand,” he says, sounding annoyed with me.

Good grief! Where’s my old typewriter?

Within days of my inquiry, we received a packet of complicated forms, stating not only our standard identification information (OK, I get this) including every word on our ID cards (they have this). We were asked to list one prescription per page, reasons for the prescriptions, how long we’d had the illness, the diagnosis and the prescribing physician’s information.  

With our regular daily prescriptions plus an additional prescriptions for preventive and emergency travel conditions, this would result in completing 20 pages!  It would take days.  

Yes, I could manually enter the repeated information, for example; ID information, addresses and prescribing physician information, etc. and then proceed to copy and print the 20 pages, subsequently, manually entering the requested lengthy medical information.  This still would take days!

Yesterday, I called asking to speak to a supervisor, asking that our conversation be recorded (it was) and documented (hopefully, it was) and here was my proposal:
1. Complete one page with the pertinent basic information.
2. Print all of our prescriptions directly out of their system. (They could have done this!)
3. Write a letter, signed by both Tom and I, explaining our circumstances, reasons for the request, including our itinerary for the next 949 days thus far.
4.  Staple this together.
5.  Snail mail.

The supervisor agreed to my proposal.  I reminded him to post it in the system as to his agreement with my proposal.  Otherwise, they will receive the packet, send it back to me, complaining I didn’t fill it out correctly and this entire process would begin again.  Of course, I made copies of everything.

Does this scenario sound familiar?   I’ll keep you posted on the end result.

Changed the look of our WorldWideWaftage blog…

Web design is not my forte. Last night I changed the design of this blog more out of my boredom with the prior design, than anything. 

If you find this is difficult to read, please comment here.  Our readership is growing rapidly…where are all of you coming from???   We want this blog to be reader friendly so please offer any suggestions.

In time, when we move along on our travels, I will have more time to work on the design and maybe, once and for all, learn web design. Duh, while I am learning to speak Italian and Spanish?  

Thank you all so much for sharing this experience with us.  Have a happy day!

Fitful night..Worrying…

Worrying is an enormous waste of time, especially during the night when restorative sleep is so vital to our well being. Each morning I am able to see how well I slept the previous night by plugging in my fitness armband to my computer.

As a lifelong fitness fanatic (“nut,” as Tom would say) I have been wearing a fitness armband for the past two years made by BodyMedia which tracks all my activities, calorie burn and sleep patterns which I can view on 
either my Android smartphone or laptop throughout the day to see how I am doing. My goal is take 10,000 steps per day, a tough goal lately while spending considerable time online these past months researching for our future travels.  

Each morning I plug the Bluetooth enabled device into my computer to recharge. As the data is uploaded, I can view how well I’ve slept the previous night. Invariably, my sleep pattern is totally dependent upon how much worrying I’ve done during the night. Last night my sleep efficiency was 81% indicating that approximately 19% of my lying in bed was spent worrying.
Sure, I may have spent 5% of the 9 hours lying in bedthinking pleasant thoughts, chatting with Tom, planning my day, wondering about the weather, and contemplating getting up. Subsequently, I actually slept about 7.5 hours, certainly plenty on an average night.
Why spend any time worrying? My theory has always been that worrying is only beneficial when the avoidance of it is so powerful that it inspires one to change that which they worrying about. Otherwise, it is wasted energy, time, and health. Years ago, my eldest son Richard, reminded me of this quote: 
“Worry is interest paid on a loan that never comes due.”
 
Tom has reminded me of Richard stating this quote many times over the years. Oddly, for most of us, we worry at night. As we busy ourselves with the activities of our day, our worry dissipates, only to be revived in the middle of the night. Years ago, I made a pact with myself: if worry appears during the night, do whatever I must during the day, to make it go away.  
 
Today, I have a bit of a dilemma. What task is necessary to stop worrying about one small part of our travels that kept me awake last night? Here is the source of my worrying, that started last night while reading online about traveling to Belize this upcoming January 29, 2013, a mere 9 months away: 
 
We will take the cruise from Miami, disembarking in Belize City, one day before its final destination. We were able to get permission from the cruise line to disembark early at Belize City, it’s second to last port. There are no cruises that actually “end”  or “begin” in Belize City with the reverse occurring when we leave on 4/9/2013, in both cases, missing out a few days of the cruise. The pricing both ways was less than the cost of a hotel, airfare and meals and thus we have been thrilled with this plan.
 
So, what am I worrying about? When we arrive in Belize City on January 29th, we must find a way to get to Placencia, Belize, a 17-mile long peninsula, a four-hour drive from Belize City! This map illustrates the location of our rental property. Toward the right side of the page is item #69, listed as “Decked Out House.”  I was worried…how do we get there? Here are the options:
1.  Rent a car in Belize City for the entire two and a half month period at the cost of $3000+. They don’t allow other “drop off” locations leaving us stuck with a car the entire period, barely using it with so much within walking distance as indicated on the map.
 
The popular means of transportation in Placencia is a nearby (walking distance) golf cart rental for about $10 hour, handy for grocery shopping, and nearby sightseeing. We anticipate that we’ll rent a golf cart for 8 hours a week.
 
2.  Fly from Belize City to Placencia at a cost of approximately $400 round trip for both of us plus cab fare from the airport to property about $40 plus the cost of the golf cart. Little prop plane. No thank you. Golf cart rental plus airfare for a total of $1240
 
3.   Shuttle: $175 each way for an air-conditioned shuttle, leaving at specific times each day (may require some waiting) plus the cost of a golf cart for 8 hours a week for a total for entire period = $1150
 
Writing this down today, calculating the costs, realizing we won’t fly in the little plane, the solution is clear…we will use the shuttle and rent the golf carts for 8 hours a week. If we decide we want to wander further away from Placencia, we’ll rent a car in Placencia, for one day at a time. Worry dismissed!
 
What will I worry about tonight? Our Placencia rental is from February 1 to March 31, 2013.  Our cruise drops us off on January 29th and our picks us up on April 9th. Where do we stay on January 29, 30, and 31st? Where do we stay from March 31 to April 9th?  
 
In checking out hotels on either end, it appears the average night in a decent hotel will be no less than $200 a night, plus transportation for 11 days, plus meals for 11 days (requiring us to eat every meal in a restaurant), plus taxes, plus tips may total $4000 or more, the usual cost of an 11-day vacation in Belize. This doesn’t comply with our budget and can throw off our numbers.
 
Time to get back to work on the Internet to find a solution for this dilemma, get that sleep efficiency number up to 95% tonight, and get in my 10,000 steps! Once this is done, I can start worrying about the zip line in Belize! Ha!

 

We don’t like flying…

It’s not that we’re fearful of flying. We’re not. We both say a prayer upon take-off and landing, asking God to take us to our destination safely and praising God for the minds and skills of those individuals instrumental in creating and flying these beasts of the sky.

In our earlier discussions of the possibility of world travel upon retirement, we had this brilliant idea (so we thought) that we could avoid flying and cruise from location to location. In the planning of our first year, we are able to avoid stepping foot in an airport from October 31, 2012 (retirement/departure date) to September 1, 2013, when we will depart from Rome to arrive in Diani Beach in Mombasa, Kenya for our upcoming three-month stay.

In looking at a world map, it’s easy to ascertain that cruising from Italy to Kenya is challenging, if not impossible. The trip through the Suez Canal is wrought with dangers of political strife and rampant piracy, which prevent many cruise lines from sailing through these areas.  

Also, the seaports in Kenya are shallow as described in this link about the difficulty China has in importing goods to African seaports, not only due to its shallow ports, but also due to a lack of an adequate river system to transport the goods throughout the continent. As a result, smaller ships travel to Kenya, vulnerable to piracy.  Not an ideal scenario for cruising.

There are a number of cruises that travel through the Mediterranean to Egypt, but only a rare few that continue on into the Red Sea to Kenya. The cruise we have booked for June 4, 2013, doesn’t sail to Egypt. In the future, we will experience a cruise to Egypt. After all, we will have all the time in the world provided good health prevails.  

We selected this cruise which departs from Barcelona, Spain, after our one-month stay in Majorca, Spain, to fill a two-week lag we had to fill prior to the availability of our rental in Tuscany on June 16, 2013.  The cruise ends in Venice where we’ll either take a train to Florence or rent a car and drive to the Tuscany Region to our rental.  

When analyzing the cost of this cruise to the costs of two weeks of transportation through Italy, car rental, hotels, and meals, it proved to be slightly more economical. We’ll have plenty of time to tour Italy while staying in Tuscany for almost three months. 

12 nights departing June 4, 2013, on
Norwegian’s Norwegian Spirit
Brochure Inside $2,399
Our Inside $1,249
You Save 48%
Brochure Oceanview $2,599
Our Oceanview $1,499
You Save 42%
Brochure Balcony $3,299
Our Balcony $1,929
You Save 42%
Brochure Suite $6,399
Our Suite $3,929
You Save 39%
$$$ Early booking bonus! Book now and receive a FREE $100 per cabin onboard credit and a FREE bottle of wine on select categories. Book select penthouse suite or villa categories and receive a FREE $300 per cabin onboard credit (call for pricing).
Promotions may not be combinable with all fares.
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
Important Note: Visas are required for this itinerary.
ITINERARY
DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Tue Jun 4 Barcelona, Spain 7:00 pm
Wed Jun 5 Toulon, France 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Thu Jun 6 Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy 8:00 am 7:00 pm
Fri Jun 7 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 8:00 am 7:00 pm
Sat Jun 8 Naples (Capri), Italy 8:00 am 7:00 am
Sun Jun 9 At Sea
Mon Jun 10 Mykonos, Greece 7:00 am 3:00 pm
Tue Jun 11 Istanbul, Turkey 9:00 am 6:00 pm
Wed Jun 12 Izmir, Turkey 11:30 am 7:00 pm
Thu Jun 13 Athens (Piraeus), Greece 8:00 am 6:00 pm
Fri Jun 14 At Sea
Sat Jun 15 Venice, Italy 2:00pm
Sun Jun 16 Venice, Italy Disembark

As always, we have booked a Balcony cabin.

And thus, we are limited by our transportation to Kenya. Train travel through Africa appears interesting and varied, but the uncertainty of train schedules and creature comforts didn’t quite fit our goal of “wafting through our worldwide travels with ease, joy, and simplicity.”  

Simplicity and ease would not include dragging our bags through various train stations, often waiting overnight while sitting on a bench awaiting the next train. That, definitely would not be “joyful.” After all, we aren’t in our 20’s any longer. 

We’ve discovered that careful planning, well in advance, better prepares us to handle the “unknowns” we will encounter along the way.  

Flying to Kenya and three months later to South Africa could result in sleeping on the floor in an airport with our heads on our carry-on luggage due to a delayed or canceled flight.  It could also result in delays at custom checks or as a result of overweight checked baggage. It may result in our being unable to sit together on the flight. We’ll take these risks, albeit hesitantly, and book the flights as the time nears.

Once we arrive in Diani Beach, unpacked our bags, and get situated on the veranda, we’ll be quite content.

 

Giving up habits..Wean me slowly!…

 

Bye, bye tea!

“They,” say it takes three weeks to break a habit. Yes, we still have six months and fourteen days until we leave for our adventure, but I feel compelled to start weaning myself off of some of my habits and routines. Most likely, Tom will bring his habits with us! 

We often chuckle over our routines and habits, as written in the first entry in this blog on March 14, 2012, describing in painstaking detail how we jointly manage to change clocks twice a year for daylight savings. That bi-annual event is but the tip of the iceberg!

Creatures of habit, we are! As we anticipate the homes we will occupy in the countries we will visit, many of our familiar and comforting routines will be tossed aside. Never staying long enough in any location to firmly establish new routines, we will strive to find ways to feel at ease and comfortable in someone else’s space.

The master bath in our home has a sink with brass fixtures, a bit outdated, but still attractive and befitting our lodge-like home on a lake here in Minnesota. The faucet in the pedestal sink drips. Over the years we’ve had several plumbers looking at it, telling us that the faucet cannot be repaired and must be replaced with a more current design. It still looks quite nice.

The faucet leaks when not shut off tightly (mostly by me). It drips onto the brass ring and stopper at the drain. This annoys me. Two to three times a day, I get out the Barkeeper’s Friend with a little sponge kept at the bottom of the closet (have to bend over each time), wet the sponge, sprinkle the Barkeepers, and scrub the drain until it sparkles, drying off every last drop of water with a piece of toilet paper. 

Good riddance!

Throwing the t.p. in the toilet, I consider flushing it but don’t. Why waste water?  Why don’t I throw it in the little plastic bag inside the little decorative brash trimmed, off-white porcelain trash can? Simple, I don’t want to have to feel compelled to empty the trash! (Now you can see why the details of planning this extended many years life of world travel, make me feel right at home as if you didn’t already know)! Two or three times a day, I do this! Twenty-six years!!!

Will I immediately go to a grocery store upon arriving in Belize, buy a Barkeeper’s Friend equivalent, and a small scrubby sponge to run back to our little ocean side house and start scrubbing the sparkly stainless steel drain two to three times a day? I don’t think so. Some habits will die on their own. Good riddance!  

However, other habits will be harder to break. This morning, as usual (another habit) I awaken at 5:30 am. I get up, hit the loo (Ha! Look, I am already getting more familiar with foreign expressions!), brush my teeth, wash my face and put in my contacts in order to see and go back to bed to look at my phone, an AndroidX loaded with 100’s of apps, but only a few I habitually use: Gmail, Facebook, Pulse, and Amazon Kindle Free App (containing my latest reading obsession).  

This morning I realized that this may not be possible once we are no longer on US soil. Yes, we will have access to the Internet on our laptops, many times provided as wireless broadband by the property owners. During these periods, we will be unable to use the Internet on our phones unless we are willing to pay outrageous fees. 

When I calculated the possible fees, it would be about $5000 a month for playing with our phones, considering our current megabyte usage, utilizing our current service provider! No thank you! (We will get into this in more depth on this topic as we move along here and discuss XCOMGLOBAL and SIM card options). Thus, another habit to break! Playing with our phones! Yikes!

We have three flat-screen TV’s as do many Americans, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and one in the kitchen. From the moment we are up and about, until going to bed, the TV is on in the background, quietly or off when talking or loudly when watching due to Tom’s hearing loss (42 years on the railroad).  

Although recently distracted with our laptops; Tom with ancestry, me with travel stuff, we usually spend most evenings together watching shows we programmed during the week. This “getting outside your head” form of entertainment is a delightful respite from the stresses of everyday life.   

Most of the vacation rentals will have tiny hard to watch old TVs with shows in foreign languages. No more piling up our plates with tasty homemade dinners to sit and watch yet another episode of “Downton Abbey”, “Dexter” or one of our favorite mindless, sinfully deliciously reality shows.  

Guess we’ll watch TV on our computers when we have Internet access or watch the many movies we plan to download to a yet-to-be-purchased portable four terabyte external hard drive.  

Here’s another habit, hard to break. Every afternoon at 4:00 PM, I brew tea, one cup at a time, at exactly the correct temperature, with precisely the same pot, for exactly three minutes, with a certain strainer, a special timer, a sterling silver spoon, in a pale green cup, with 3 drops of liquid Stevia, my own version of Happy Hour.  
I only like one type of tea, Pouchong, a hard to find, buy-online-only tea grown in the spring in Taiwan. I have tried numerous other teas to no avail. Oh, no! The bag of tea, the strainer, the cup, the timer, the Splenda, the pot, the spoon all weigh 2.7 pounds which equals 3.85% of our allowable luggage when we fly. Bye, bye tea!