A final letting go of “stuff”…15 days and we’re off again…

Most likely, playgrounds aren’t used in the summer when it’s just too hot for kids to play outdoors.

As the days wind down toward our leaving the USA again on August 1st, we find ourselves beginning to switch mental gears. This past almost two months in the US catapulted us both into a state of mind far removed from our now familiar reality, nearly five years since its inception.

The time has been well spent with family and friends, rekindling relationships in entirely new ways as we’ve all matured and changed as the years have rolled on. 

Landscaping in housing development.

Our grandchildren have grown and,  our children have settled into their lives as they’ve worked their way into “middle age” with grace and dignity. It’s hard enough to believe how old we are, but then, even more so when we consider the ages of our children ranging from 42 to 50 years old. 

Gosh, it only seemed like yesterday that we were 50 years old. And now, as I’m fast approaching 70 (seven months) and Tom 65 (five months), we continue to strive to maintain a youthful persona, vibrancy, and outlook along with the optimum of good health commensurate with younger years.

Empty basketball and tennis courts in the heat of summer in Las Vegas/Henderson.

We’ve come to accept the reality that for us, good health is by far the most critical aspect to feeling young while providing the stamina and endurance to continuing in our world travels.

In some ways, this past year was challenging for me. With the spinal injury in June in the pool in Bali followed by the effects of contracting h. pylori, along with its frustrating and lingering effects, was a long year. 

The upkeep on this green grass must be outrageous in this heat.

Now, with a pain-free spine once again and the aftereffects of the gastrointestinal condition wafting away day by day, I’m returning to my optimistic, if not “overly bubbly” self. In the process, I find myself all the more enthusiastic about returning to our nomadic lives of world travel.

Tom, on the other hand, never faltered in his determination and mindset as a world traveler. He’d continued with research for the future, searching for new locations, cruises, and points of interest.  Also, as always, in snippets of spare time while in the US, he continues with his never-ending hobby, ancestry.com.

Today, we’re both heading to North Las Vegas to visit my sister Susan who’s looking forward to seeing the updates Tom has discovered these past years in our family’s history. 

Surprisingly, there are some birds in the desert.

We’re bringing our HDMI cord, and Tom will hook up his laptop to her TV so she can easily see the updates on the TV, rather than trying to peek at the screen on his laptop. 

As mentioned in the past, my dear sister has been lying in bed for the past 12 years suffering from the same hereditary spinal condition I’ve also been plagued with for most of my adult life. Had it not been for my strict anti-inflammation diet over these past six years, most likely, I’d have suffered the same fate.   

Zooming in for a close-up of this bird as it quickly flew away, I cut off the top of her/his head. 

On our way back from Susan’s home, we’ll stop at our mailing service located about halfway between Henderson and North Las Vegas and collect our awaiting mail and mail the bins of Christmas decorations to Greg and Camille that I’d left at Richard’s home five years ago. 

When we stored the Christmas memorabilia, I had no idea we’d never have our own home again and subsequently never decorate a Christmas tree again. 

As time has passed, we’ve come to accept that we’ll never need those decorations again. They’re better in the hands of Greg’s family with our three grandchildren, who many appreciate them in years to come, perhaps for their own families someday.

This entrance to a housing development with a waterfall.  With the dry heat, the amount of evaporation must result in a massive loss of water.  Isn’t water at a premium in this valley?

By the time we leave Henderson to fly to Costa Rica in 16 days, we leave behind not a single bin of “stuff.” Thanks, Richard, for storing them for us while we decided our future lives and returned to Nevada to dispose of these totes. 

With no basements in homes in this part of the US, every bit of garage space is needed, and he’ll now have more room for his own “stuff,” although he’s not much of a packrat and keeps his home as tidy as it could be. Even we’ve had to be mindful of not cluttering his meticulous space while we’re here.

May your life and minds be free of clutter, allowing you the space you need to fulfill your desires.

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2016:

Tom, me, Captain Han, and new friend Bob in the wheelhouse. We thoroughly enjoyed the Viking Mekong River Cruise.  For more photos, please click here.

Shopping and haircut at the mall…How to roll-up shirt sleeves with ease…

Tom’s hair had grown unruly since his last haircut in Savusavu, Fiji in early November, almost five months ago.

After uploading yesterday’s post we headed to the Centre City Mall in downtown New Plymouth for clothes shopping for me and a haircut for Tom. 

The thought of shopping while Tom waited outside the stores I perused was a little concerning when I knew I’d want to hurry (by my own design, not his) with him waiting on a bench outside.

I’d suggested he drop me off at the mall, picking me back up a few hours later.  Since he needed a haircut and the “Just Cuts Salon” was located in the mall it made sense for us to do both on this same occasion. 

Often, when we rent cars for two or three months at a time, we avoid adding me as a driver when there are additional fees.  I don’t do so well driving on the opposite side of the road, as is the case in some countries.  As a result, I can’t shop without Tom with me during these periods.  As much as he doesn’t care to shop, he doesn’t complain or seem to mind waiting for me.

When we arrived hair salon at 11:30 am, he was told to return at noon for his haircut.  Several other customers were ahead of him.  He waited on chairs outside the shop while I quickly darted from store to store searching for a few shops that appealed to my taste and needs.

The stylist was concerned about cutting his hair the correct length at the Just Cuts salon in the mall.

I wanted to purchase wrinkle free shirts/tops for the upcoming cruises over the next 15 months.  Deciding against any dressy items for cruise formal nights for practicality reasons, buying wash and wear items such as dressy tee shirts and button shirts was all I wanted to purchase.

At first, I panicked when all the shops were offering warm winter inventory including sweaters, jackets and layered clothing.  Hoping for a touch of color in my otherwise drab wardrobe, my hopes were dashed as I went from rack to rack only finding navy blue, varying shades of grey, black and brown. 

Rather than bring sweaters and cover-ups for the cool air conditioned evenings aboard ship I decided on all long sleeved items with sleeves that could be rolled or pushed up.  

A while ago I found this J. Crew website with instructions for the easiest way to roll shirts which can be implemented for men’s or women’s long sleeve buttoned shirts.  This way, I could toss my stretched out cover-ups I’ve been wearing for warmth at night in the air conditioned spaces.

Always considering the weight of items in our luggage, this is a good remedy to reduce the number of items in my singular clothing suitcase subsequently having an effect on the total weight. 

It all seemed to be going well with little coaching from me on how to cut the sides and back.

Joining Tom when it was time for his haircut, I showed the stylist a photo of him with his hair at his preferred length. (As it turned out she was from Texas, USA with a cute southern US and Kiwi accent after living here 18 years).  I decided to hang around to ensure the sides and back were trimmed properly finding it wise to do so.

Tom had brought along a NZ $5 coupon to use but when it was time to pay (oddly they didn’t accept credit cards) he didn’t need to use the coupon when she discounted the price to NZ $18, US $12, a certainly reasonable price. 

He was happy with the cut, commenting to the stylist how all his life he didn’t need me to accompany him on haircut appointments.  I explained that I didn’t have to look at him 24/7 at that time either.  We all giggled.

By the time his haircut was done at 12:30 I’d yet to purchase the first item on my list. However, while he waited on the chairs reading a book on his phone, I’d perused a few stores with items that may work for me. All I’d have to do was try on a few items to ensure a proper fit.

In an one hour period, I purchased three button up long sleeve shirts, five dressy tee shirts, six pairs of earrings and eight pairs of cotton panties, all in three separate stores.  An hour later, we were leaving the mall with my bags in tow. I was content with my haul.

We were both happy with the finished product.

Once back home as I busily removed  the tags I folded the items neatly for packing in the next few weeks. After totaling all the receipts, I was surprised I’d only spent a total of NZ $242, US $163 for the entire haul, all of which appeared to be good quality.

With a recent purchase of a pair of somewhat pricey black pants, I was set with clothing until we’ll arrive in the US in summer of 2017.  I teased Tom as I totaled the receipts as to how odd it was that for under NZ $446, US $300 (including the black pants) I’d purchased all the clothes I’d need for a year or more here in New Zealand.

He laughed, saying, “That’s $300 more than I spend in a year.”  Pausing while making eye contact with me, “Just kidding, Sweetie!” 

Yea, well.  He has no interest in clothing (although he does need a few items) and has decided to wait to make any purchases until we arrive in the US.

On the way home, we made a few detours for photos happy to be out on a sunny day, a rarity most recently.  It was a good day.  We’re anticipating today should be equally good.

We hope you have a good day as well.


Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2015:

This spot at Hanalei Beach in Kauai looks out to a sleeping dragon shaped mountain that inspired Peter, Paul and Mary to interpret the song written by a friend, “Puff the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalei.”  There’s considerable speculation that the words to the song were mainly centered around smoking marijuana which grew prolifically in Hanalei.  Here’s a video that further explains the shape of the dragon.  For more details on this year-ago post, please click here.

Perfect day with friends…More rain predicted…Nothing like a comfy chair and friends…

It’s no wonder the chicken proliferates and hang out at the beaches when surfers and bathers can’t resist feeding them their lunch. No one seems to mind the chickens and roosters, instead finding humor in their presence, as we do.

Yesterday, we spent the entire afternoon at friend’s Elaine and Richard’s home meeting a new couple, Carol and David. Oh, good grief, we all had so much in common and many stories to share.

We told Richard he was the best matchmaker of people in the world, a true proverbial social director and people connector. It requires tremendous self-confidence to be able to step back from the limelight in a friendship to introduce one’s friends to new people. Not everyone can do this. Richard is an expert in this area and we appreciate both he and Elaine.

At times, on clear days, a perfect stretch of beach is unoccupied such as shown here.

They set a beautiful table and their gorgeous home was, as always, impeccably appointed and inviting. Sitting in the beautiful living room after our delicious meal all of us relaxed while the animated conversation continued.  Richard insisted I sit in a comfy chair next to his favorite chair.

As I reclined, finding the soothing comfort in the chair, I was reminded of my comfy chair in our old life, a chair that offered cocoon-like ease that allowed my mind to flow with thoughts, plans, and ideas as I sat there for 11 months, day after day, planning our worldwide travels. 

Alternate view of a section of Anina Beach.

I‘d stop only long enough to head to the health club for my workout, a quick trip to the grocery store, a fast meal preparation, or a visit with family or friends. 

Day after day, I sat in that beautiful Flexsteel chair, two of which we’d had made specifically for that room many years prior, each slightly different. Writing here, documenting, calculating, and planning every possible element of the first two years of our travels, now since the past was spent in that chair. 

Bathers continue to visit the sandy beaches on overcast days.

I know I’ve mentioned this in past posts but, for those who’ve come in partway in reading our over 900 posts to date, that chair held a special meaning for me, far more than any item we had in our home that we’d acquired together over the years. That chair.

In October 2012, when the estate sale professionals came to our house for four days, (we’d moved out to live with my friend Karen) in order to sell our belongings, my heart ached over the eventual sale of the chair.

Anini Beach shoreline on a cloudy day. 

At the end of the first day of the sale, the estate sale company owner asked me to stop by to see how the first day had gone and to discuss price reductions for the next day. I arrived too early. The sale was still in progress.

As I walked around the house, I saw my chair in the dumpster. That chair. Apparently, someone had purchased it and when moving it out a leg broke. It was placed into the dumpster. Who’d buy a chair that couldn’t stand on four legs?

One of our favorite dinners consists of meatloaf stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, wrapped in bacon, green beans, coleslaw, and our homemade coconut biscuits, all low carb, grain-free,  gluten-free, starch-free, and sugar-free.

My heart ached as I stood at the dumpster looking at that chair and for the first time, asking myself, “What in the world are we doing, selling all of our worldly possessions, leaving everyone we know and love for some elusive dream?”

Not one to cry easily, I returned to my car parked out of sight and cried my heart out. “Let go!” I reminded myself, “Just let go!”

There’s another grocery store in Hanalei, Big Save. Unfortunately, their inventory is less robust than the Foodland in Princeville which is lacking in some products we use frequently, requiring us to drive 30 minutes to Kapaa where there’s a health food grocer and a larger Safeway.

After 20 years of pain and poor health, totally at bay due to the dietary changes for over a year at that point, we could finally travel, see the world, spread our wings, and stretch ourselves beyond the self-imposed limits of a lifetime. 

“Don’t cry over “stuff.” I told myself. I “pulled myself up by my bootstraps” as they say and went back to meet with the estate sale guy. I can’t say I never cried again before we left. After all, leaving everything and above all, everyone, wasn’t easy.

We continue to encounter one-lane bridges in Kauai. A posted sign states, “No more than seven cars may pass at one time.” Drivers are courteous in complying, counting the cars as they pass.

But, like the fulfillment of all dreams, sacrifice is a necessary element. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, a painful lesson we all learn in life as we mature into adults.

Agave plants can grow these snake-like protrusions.

So, yesterday, as I nuzzled into Elaine and Richard’s comfy chair, surrounded by friendship and love, a wave of divine happiness washed over my heart in such a way, it almost felt as if it rolled over in my chest. 

These types of signs prevent lifeguards from answering endless questions.

No, we don’t own a house or have an apartment somewhere. We don’t have a car tucked away in a friend’s garage. We don’t have storage space with “stuff” awaiting a time we’ll settle down. And, we don’t have a comfy chair we call our own.

A sign posted at Tunnels Beach.

What we do have travels well, isn’t heavy, and doesn’t require any special handling. Its passion, enthusiasm, optimism, and hope. Its curiosity, a sense of adventure, awe, and wonder. For this, we are grateful. With this, we are “home.”

                                                Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2014: 

No photos were posted on this date one year ago. Finally, after an overnight and day of travel, we’d made it to Morocco and we busy getting situated. Tomorrow, we’ll share our first photos of our arrival in Marrakech. Please check back

Here’s the shocker, folks!!!…Physically, emotionally, financially….

The four cardboard boxes we’d packed, were ready to get shipped at the local post office.

OK. The power is out and will continue to be out for the entire day today as it was last night beginning at 9:30 pm. The generator is a hit and miss, going off and on intermittently. It’s not on now. My computer indicated that I have 45 minutes of battery left so I must write quickly to get this posted.

I hope that our “shocker” didn’t appear as if it was a life-threatening situation. But, for us, it truly is a life-changing situation; physically, emotionally, and financially.

Here it is:  

I had looked far and wide for this pair of 3″ heels a few years ago, loving the neutral color.
This is my last pair of high heels.  Bye, bye, shoes.

This decision didn’t come easily. We’d already packed the four cardboard boxes with clothing, shoes, accessories with the intent of shipping them to our house in South Africa after I’d verified that we could receive packages and confirmed the address. 

Our intent was to have Alfred take us to the Ukunda post office, not to DHL, where we recently had spent KES $38,953, US $458 to have one box shipped from our mailing service in Nevada to the DHL store in Diani Beach, Kenya that weighed only 13 pounds (5.9 kg)! 

Instead, our plan this time was to box everything up that we wanted to ship and use the Ukunda post office, a 45 minute round trip drive from here. It was already set up with Alfred to take us on Friday morning at 10:00 am. 

Unaware of the potential mailing costs at the post office, we knew that we’d have to get a ton of shillings from the ATM with the post office only accepting cash. That in itself presented a dilemma.  f we got too much cash, how would we get it converted to Rand (ZAR), the money used in South Africa, without incurring exchange fees? 

Surprisingly, these long casual cotton dresses are heavy, especially when I purchased them to accommodate my height, 4″ taller than the average woman.  Look at those vitamins! Many of them are also already gone, tossed in the past week. These few bottles were unopened. We only kept those that are an absolute necessity, such as Probiotics for intestinal health, B6 vitamins to prevent kidney stones (has been working for Tom after three surgeries back in the US), and a few for me.

If we discovered that we were short of cash at the post office and didn’t have enough shillings on-hand, we’d have to find another bank or drive back to the original ATM. Talk about stress-inducing! Hot weather, no AC in the taxi, sweat pouring down our necks!  (There are five minutes left on my battery!)

Of course, we weighed the boxes and looked online fruitlessly attempting to find out the postal rates from Kenya to anywhere (to get an idea), let alone to South Africa. No such luck. Nor was there a phone number to call for information. Nor was there a website for the Ukunda post office. Nada. (The generator just came on)! Yippee!

This was going nowhere. Angst was setting in. Then, by chance, I stumbled upon restrictions for sending packages to South Africa. It was the “no shoes” restriction that put me over the edge. To verify this I called the local DHL store (which incidentally is inside a pharmacy, owned by the pharmacist) to discover if this was true. 

The store manager confirmed that only one (1) shoe may be sent in any package to South Africa. One shoe? When would one shoe ever be appropriate? I couldn’t imagine a scenario unless, God forbid, one had only one foot. The list of restrictions continued from there.

Tom has always been prepared to unload as much as possible of his belongings to avoid paying any more outrageous excess baggage fees. We’d already paid over KES $173,500, US $2000 in fees between the Dubai and Venice airports, our only flights thus far.  

The nights of me wearing these dresses are over.  They are all in this pile.

I, on the other hand, wondered what I’d do if I eliminated all my “go out to dinner clothing, shoes, and accessories” some of which I’ve worn in every country we’ve lived in and on every night on the cruises. 

This decision came on Monday night. I tossed and turned all night. This was the final straw in me letting go, narrowing everything in the world, I personally owned down to the maximum that airlines allow to avoid excess baggage fees, a hard reality. Who are they to dictate what I can and can’t take around the world with me?  Anger welled up inside of me. 

Many of you may think, so what? It’s just clothing and shoes. But, as a woman that always delighted in dressing nicely, it had become part of who I am. 

We all, in our own way, are a package. And at some point in our young lives, we develop into the person we choose to become; our demeanor, our persona, our style (or lack of style, if one so chooses), our integrity, our honor, our values, our intellectual pursuits, our business acumen or skill set, and our relationships. For me, it was a package, all pieces included.

Tom understood my angst.  He knows me well accepting all the pieces. He hasn’t pressed the issue. Never. Not after spending the US $2000 for excess baggage. Not recently as we tried to figure out this dilemma. He knew I had to come to this decision on my own.  He was right.

Yesterday morning I gave him the news. I was ready to let go. He hauled out the four packed cardboard boxes from the second bedroom to the glass table in the outdoor living room and I began going through them, keeping only a few items, adding many more. The more I went through the process, the more detached I became, knowing full well this was the right thing to do.

This doesn’t look like much, but it weighs over 40 pounds (18 kg).  In addition, we’ve tossed another 10 pounds in old and worn items (4.5 kg).  On our last flight, our overage was 44 pounds (20 kg).

Tom jumped in with both feet, pulling out newer “casual dressy” clothing, placing them in the boxes along with my items. We’ve literally eliminated 40% of our combined clothing, more mine than Tom’s since he’d already cut back as we’ve traveled, to allow room for my things.

Of course, not all of our belongings consist of clothing and shoes. Perhaps 25% is supplies, electronics, required paper records, cosmetics, and toiletries (of which we have the minimum). We don’t even have a bottle of body lotion using only coconut oil in its place. No perfume. No bubble bath. No soaps. 

Friday, we’ll seal the “space bags,” weigh everything, including the suitcases. Based on the allowed weight for the upcoming airlines, we expect to be within the limits subsequently avoiding excess baggage fees.

Hesborn and Jeremiah will be given the boxes of discarded men’s items to share among themselves with the women’s clothing and shoes to be shared among their wives and sisters.

Nothing we have left in our possession will be appropriate to wear to dinner on our next upcoming cruise in nine months.  We have no doubt that we’ll figure it out as the time approaches.

Physically, it will be easier to haul the bags. Emotionally, we’ll spend no time worrying about the luggage.  Financially, we’ll save US $1000’s each year on excess baggage fees. 

The angst is gone. Acceptance has been found in its place and finally, after 13 months, we’re truly free. 

Part 2, Departure plan in place..Step by step process…Handling of leftover supplies…

It would be ideal if we could use all of the foodstuffs, cleaning supplies, and paper products that we acquired when spending up to three months at each location. Each time we move into a new location, we’ve found that we spend a fair sum to stock the new home with the basic necessities. 

Our goals are simple; don’t be wasteful and, don’t be wasteful with our money. However, we must admit that we’ll be leaving many items behind that are both impractical and costly to pack.

Although we try to gauge how much of any item we’ll use, it is frustrating to have purchased grocery items we never used, ingredients for a specific recipe that we never made but purchased with the best intentions. It is those very items that often filled our kitchen cabinets anyway, stuff we may never use, eventually to be donated or thrown away? Besides, no matter where we live, I’m not exempt from the occasional “impulse purchase.” 

When we arrived here, I jumped at the chance to purchase a large bottle of organic “real” vanilla extract for KES $520.50, US $5.76.  ‘d hoped to find unsweetened “real” chocolate so I could make our favorite sugar free, low carb fudge. Never found the chocolate. Never opened the bottle of vanilla. So it goes. I won’t bore you with several other such items we’ll be leaving behind. 

Then, there’s the bigger expense that we’ve incurred while in Kenya, the purchase of “scratch-off” cards for data to “top off” our Kenya SIM cards for our two MiFi devices for Internet connectivity. These are useless to us once we leave Kenya. They don’t work outside the country, typical for SIM cards in most countries, tricky for us world travelers. 

Another area of concern is the disposal of clothing that has either worn out or we’ve found to have no occasion to wear.

The question for today:  How will we dispose of leftover, unused, unwanted, and no longer relevant items which we have no desire or intention of packing?

The food items will be left behind informing Hesborn or Jeremiah to take any of the items they’ll use and either leave the balance for future renters or if they choose, for Hans and Jeri.

When we left Italy, we’d posted photos of a pile of clothing and shoes we’d left behind for Lisa and Luca, the kindly landlords, to either keep, give to family or friends, or to donate which they gladly offered when we mentioned this dilemma. 

The clothing, yet to be sorted, is much smaller now that we’ve narrowed our clothing down to one large suitcase each. Some worn items will be tossed. In a concerted effort to reduce the weight of our bags, we’ve decided to ship ahead a few boxes utilizing the Ukunda post office that will allow us to insure the contents of the boxes.  Alfred will drive us to Ukunda on Friday to ship them off.

At this point, we have no idea as to the cost to ship these boxes within the continent. The fact that we’re willing to ship them by the slowest possible method to save on the cost should result in our receiving them within a month or so, which is fine for us. 

Why not toss these items? The biggest issue is the difficulty in finding clothing to fit me. I’m tall and wear an odd size. My inseam is 35″ (88 cm). Do I want to take the time to find a pair of pants or dress long enough not to embarrass myself? No. In all of the countries we’ve visited thus far, the women are shorter than I (here’s a chart of the average heights of men and women worldwide).

In only nine months I’ll need the to-be-shipped clothing items and shoes for two upcoming cruises. One of the highlights of cruising for us is dining in the main dining areas which typically don’t allow jeans or shorts. 

We don’t want to be forced to eat at the buffet for dinner due to our lack of proper clothing, which we’ve only done twice on our eight prior cruises, each time, much to our dismay; once when returning late from an excursion with the main dining room closed and another, on the night of a Minnesota Vikings Playoff game when we loaded trays filled with food to take to our cabin to watch the game. (The TV signal was lost almost entirely throughout the game and, surprisingly, ha, Minnesota lost).

Yes, I know in a prior post, I’d mentioned my willingness to forgo style and selection in my attire. But when on cruises, one surely desires to get their money’s worth of the meals already included in the fare in the main dining areas. Were it not for this fact, I’d gladly dispose of my few remaining dresses, and matching sandals. In any case, we’re shipping all of those. 

We’d already ditched all of our “formal attire” for the dress-up nights, falling back on our basic inventory for those evenings since formal wear is not mandatory on most cruises. 

In essence, it’s clothing and shoes that we’re shipping. I have six pairs of shoes in my possession and my beloved safari boots. That’s all I own: one pair of Keds leather slip ons, one pair of tan 3″ heels, one pair of water shoes, plus three pairs of Clark’s sandals: black, beige and white. (I left my bulky workout shoes in Italy.  These can easily be replaced once we’re near a health club again).

Tom, on the other hand, has four pairs of shoes: one pair of tennis shoes, one pair of water shoes and two pairs of Cole Haan, one dressy, one casual, and of course, his safari boots. 

Start adding up shoes alone and they consume an entire carry on bag. Ah, the challenges of stuff, continues to play a role in our lives, although considerably less than it used to.

The end result of our clothing issues;  we’re shipping ahead enough weight in shoes and clothing, weighing everything on our portable scale, in order to avoid paying excess baggage fees when we fly to South Africa a week from today. Once these boxes are shipped, we’ll share how much we paid for the shipping.

The final items that we’ve contemplated over these past few weeks, was the remaining data left on our SIM cards on my MiFis. As of today, Tom has 8.7 gigabytes, remaining and I have 9.1 gigabytes remaining, more than enough for Tom to watch the Minnesota Vikings game and for me to download several TV shows and movies. 

We carefully tracked our data usage since arriving in Kenya, in an effort to ensure we didn’t leave the country with too much paid-for but unused data. 

We’ve determined, via our recordkeeping that our combined average daily usage is approximately .5 gigabytes resulting in our ability to save enough data for the layover at the Nairobi airport.  Once we arrive in Johannesburg our devices will no longer work containing the Kenya SIM cards.

We’re pleased that in the past month, it wasn’t necessary to purchase additional data by carefully monitoring our usage:  no videos other than downloaded TV shows for our evening entertainment and Tom’s Minnesota Vikings games. Avoiding the download of Facebook videos was most instrumental in us having ample data to get us through this next week. 

Yes, we still may have unused data remaining at the end, which we hope to use to download movies and TV shows.

So, there it is folks.  The process of winding down appears more complicated than it is. It requires careful thought and planning, neither of which is foreign to us.  As we maneuver our way to yet another country in our ongoing quest for exploration and wonder, we can smile, knowing that we’re doing everything we can to make the transition as stress-free as possible.

Arrived in Venice…Flying away tomorrow morning…

Last night, our last night in Boveglio, there was a wedding in the centuries-old church across the road. The smoke is a result of a short fireworks display set off to celebrate the newlywed couple.

The four-hour drive to Venice was relatively uneventful although the traffic on the toll road was intense at times, moving fast with crazy driving typical for Italy weaving in and out of lanes with little regard for safety.

The dissipating smoke from the fireworks set off for a wedding.  Both set of bells in the bell tower rang simultaneously.  Tom timed the bell ringing at 20 minutes!  We giggled when saying that the bells were ringing as a goodbye to us!

Tom is a good driver, but his level of patience in traffic is lacking. From time to time, it was a nail biter. In charge of navigation, my task, in itself was daunting.

As we drove away from Boveglio.

With a serious lack of road signs, driving long distances in Italy is a challenge. During several stretches, we’d driven for miles unsure if we were on the correct road. How we managed to get here without ever taking a wrong turn baffles me. 

Our final view of Boveglio from the winding road in the mountains of Tuscany.

Although we have no phone service on our smartphones, we can access navigation.  However, in the mountainous and hilly roads, the signal would occasionally be lost, requiring a little monkeying around to keep the directions readily available.

Yesterday, we printed a map with line by line directions which were different from the navigation we pulled up on the phone. There are only so many ways to get from Boveglio to Venice. 

It was a busy morning on the road down the mountain, making each hairpin turn challenging.

Once we checked into our hotel, our luggage in our room, Tom took off to return the rental car, the sold rental car. Much to my delight, he returned in only 15 minutes, the task accomplished. Whew! Based on the two hours it took to pick up the car on June 16th when we arrived at the same Marco Polo Airport in Venice, we anticipated an equally long return. 

The hotel shuttle picked him up at the car rental drop off area, returning him to the hotel. Oddly, they didn’t ask Tom to pay when he dropped off the car. We owed a balance of approximately Euro $1300 which most likely will appear on our credit card in a few days. 

While I was busy navigating our road trip, Tom counted tunnels we entered for a grand total of 25.

Packing and moving out of the Boveglio house was not without challenges. Now down to only one large suitcase, one smaller wheelie each, plus one shared duffel bag and, one computer bag each, our load is considerably less heavy. The packing of these bags requires an enormous amount of planning with the contents consisting of everything we own.

Yesterday, we accomplished most of the packing, but saved the final “sucking” of the Space Bags until this morning. With numerous items drying on the clothes rack during the day along with the clothing we wore yesterday, we thought it would be no big deal to seal everything up this morning. 

Many tunnels were short, but a few may have been almost a mile long.

We won’t do that again. As it turned out, I made a dumb error placing several of my belts in one of the plastic bags. Once the bag was sucked, one of the belt’s sharp clasps tore a hole into the carefully packed bag, leaving us short one bag for my clothing.  

This required me to remove all of my clothes from 4 already sealed bags to rearrange everything, repacking it to fit into 3 bags.  Needless to say, I had to say goodbye to my tennis shoes, a swimsuit, a pair of white pants, and a few more shirts, all left for Lisa or whoever she may donate it to.  Tom also, had to repack his bags now that we had less luggage, leaving several items behind.

Goodbye to the lush hillside of Italy.  We’ve certainly enjoyed the views.

With the 220-wiring in Europe, the little Shark portable vacuum can only suck one bag in a 30=minute period before becoming overheated. In Dubai, we’d thought we’d burned out the vacuum’s motor to later discover that once it cools. it works again, provided an ample resting period exists between uses. Without that vacuum, we’d literally have to get rid of another 35% of our clothing.

The bright end to one of the 25 tunnels we navigated today on our road trip to Venice.

This morning our plan was to leave by 9:00 am. We didn’t walk out the door until 10:45 am.  We arrived in Venice with time to spare with another travel lesson learned: pack and close all bags the day prior to leaving, using the duffel bag for overflow. 

Another important task we decided to take on when we rented our first vacation home in Scottsdale. Arizona last November, is to leave the property in the same condition as when it was presented to us. With the spaciousness of the Boveglio house and the multiple rooms, we’d used to store “our stuff,” leaving it as it was when we arrived required more work than we’d anticipated.

The fast-moving highways without shoulders prevent good photo-taking opportunities. 

Although Santina cleaned the house on Friday morning, we had our share of work to be completed in the last 24 hours: wash all the kitchen and bath towels, tablecloth, and linen napkins. Return furnishings we’d moved to accommodate our needs.  Defrost the freezer and clean the refrigerator, throwing out any leftover food into the organic bins, washing out plastic and glass containers for recycling.  Clean the stove, sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, and on and on. 

By the time we left this morning, we were confident that we’d left the house in excellent condition. With more time, we’d have washed and dried the sheets. The necessity of outdoor drying made it impossible, although we did remove the bedding, leaving it in a laundry basket with the few towels we’d used to shower this morning.

Certainly, we aren’t this tidy when staying in a hotel.  Living in a rented home, especially when we’ve been charged fair rates, leaves us feeling compelled to return it to its original state.

As we drove away from Boveglio, we saw Luca and his daughter on the road. With their several rental houses in Boveglio, they spend considerable time maintaining the homes and the grounds on the weekends. Once again, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude for the 2 1/2 month stay in their 300-year-old stone house, as we’d done yesterday when they stopped to say goodbye with multiple rounds of double cheek kissing.

Tonight, the hotel shuttle will take us out to a local restaurant for dinner, returning us when we’re done, which we’re both anticipating with enthusiasm. Once we were moving along the road at a good pace, neither of us wanted to stop to eat. With nary a morsel all day, I could eat my shoe if it was covered with a few slices of melted Italian cheese.

Tomorrow morning, off we go on our 15 plus hours,  three flights, two layover jaunt ending in the middle of the night. Most likely we’ll be exhausted, requiring a full night’s sleep to recover. Neither of us does well staying up all night as when we were younger.  

Stay tuned, folks.  We’ll be back by on Tuesday with photos and stories of our ongoing travels.  Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

Getting our ducks in a row…

Each day its cooler than the prior day.  More of these puffy clouds surrounded us yesterday morning. With the cool weather, we kept the windows closed all day.  The laundry on the drying rack required the entire day to dry.  It appears Tuscany’s days of hot weather are over.

The packing has begun. I’ve decided to use one of the unused guest rooms to lay out all of my clothing in neat piles, setting aside clothing for the one-day road trip to Venice and another set for the 17-hour flight.

Comfort is key in both cases including the half-day car ride to Venice. Dark clothing is vital for the many hours in the air and waiting in three airports in the event we spill something on ourselves. We’ll wear comfortable shoes and the compression socks intended for long flights and cramped spaces.

More low lying clouds with blue skies peeking through.

Ah, the preparations, so many. Attempting to communicate with a person at Turkish airlines who didn’t speak English on Skype was challenging to say the least. I believe we were able to arrange our seat assignments for the three flights in order to be able to sit together. I couldn’t understand the seat numbers and the aisle numbers. I don’t know any Turkish. We weren’t charged.

I had wanted to discuss my food restrictions with the airline for the meals that will be provided. If what they serve proves to be a problem we can eat at one of our two layovers. I plan to bring nuts just in case.

The thoughtful owner of the house in Kenya has arranged a driver to pick us up at the airport in a newer air-conditioned vehicle who’s already aware of our flight number and time of arrival. The driver will be carrying a sign with our name upon our arrival in the middle of the night. He’ll know where to take us.

The security guard at the house, Jeremia, has been instructed to let us in the gate and the house. The houseboy, Hesborn, is aware that he shouldn’t arrive at the house until after 12:00 pm the day we arrive. We’ll attempt to sleep for a few hours upon arrival. 

Upon awakening, we’ll need to arrange transportation to a grocery store, our first task in our new home. They’ll be no food awaiting us at the house, although the owner kindly offered to leave fruit and crackers, neither of which we can eat. I declined his considerate offer which he usually, provides for his guests, graciously explaining that I have a peculiar diet. 

This photo was taken from the veranda yesterday morning.  We spend most mornings on the veranda it was too damp and cool to venture outside. Today, its warmer and we’re sitting outside now as we write this.

We’ll be fine if we don’t eat until we return from the grocer loaded with a week’s supply.  The grocery stores appear to be larger than we are used to and seemingly well stocked from what we read online.  It will be fun to shop, especially the first time.

The packing? I should have most of mine in order and ready for the “suck bags” (as we call them) by Wednesday. This week, we’ll wash and wear the same tee shirts and shorts over and over to avoid disturbing the packed items. My 25-pound pile of shoes and clothing is ready to be donated. It’s hard to believe I can exist with so little clothing.  

View over the church.

At this point, I’ve let go of my desire to have a “mix and match” wardrobe with many outfits from which to choose. Those days are over. Although I’m keeping two pairs of high heels, each shoe is neatly stuffed with vitamin bottles.

As a matter of fact, our Africa boots are also stuffed with vitamin pills, all of which will be in checked baggage. We’d originally planned to wear the boots on the plane, but I can’t imagine wearing knee-high boots for almost 24 hours. 

I tried on two pairs of jeans in order to decide which would be more comfortable for the flight. It turned out that the lighter colored denim feels more pliable, although they aren’t “stretchy” at all. I wish I’d kept a few pairs of stretchy well-worn jeans. 

Last night’s meatball yet uncooked dinner, which was topped with homemade marinara sauce and locally made combination of finely grated cheeses. Before cooking, we also topped Santina’s tomatoes with the grated cheeses. The black spots are the peppers and herbs from the patio.

One more of the two missing prescription boxes arrived yesterday. Hopefully, the one remaining box will miraculously appear this week, but we’re not optimistic. Plan B will go into effect, have the missing box replaced at no charge (to which the online pharmacy agreed) to be shipped to our mailing service in Nevada. As mentioned in a past post, at some time in the future we’ll figure out a way to have it mailed to us.

Still, we have time to relax on the veranda again this morning. The weather is warmer than yesterday, although very cool. With socks on my feet, I’m comfortable, looking forward to another great day of getting whipped at Gin, watching the last third of the original Iron Man with Parts 2 and 3 already downloaded for our future viewing.

We’ll have another great dinner of leftovers, a fresh pan of the above photo. With no microwave, I always divide the meal in two, cooking one batch fresh each of two nights. This avoids using the oven to reheat already cooked food.

Life is good. Not a complaint in the world.  Looking forward to soon being settled into our new home. 

Creatures of habit…Are we willing to change?…Queen of routine?…

Its funny how we stumble across interesting articles on the web when we’re researching another topic, often leaving our original search in the lurch. It’s easy to forget our original thought as we become entranced by a new topic.

Today, while searching for information about “creatures living in Tuscany” I was taken to a great article about “creatures of habit.”

Laughing while getting sidetracked is normal for me when its a topic I’m drawn to regarding our habits which have become so obvious to us as we’ve left our old lives behind to begin anew. 

Bringing along our old habits didn’t surprise us.  They occupy no space in our luggage whether big or small, useless or useful, beneficial or harmful, annoying to one another or not, we brought along all of them.

Unfortunately, or not, we’ve discovered that our environment as we’ve moved from country to country, is not conducive to maintaining many of our old habits. The question for us has been.Shall we replace one habit with another more befitting our environment or,ilet it go entirely?

Without a doubt, we’ve reshaped many of our old habits, most of which are simple daily tasks that we adopted such as preparing the coffee pot at night to easily turn on in the morning, a task many of us habitually perform. Most likely, most of us have 100’s of such rituals we exercise each day, finding comfort in the routine, often performing these tasks without conscious thought.

Then, there are the others, the habits we believed we’d never change, never need to change as being harmless and insignificant in the realm of our daily lives. 

Suddenly, almost nine months after leaving Minnesota, those we’ve surrendered are glaring, as places we live force us to strip more and more habits away.  I must admit with a bit of trepidation, that I was the “queen of routine.”  I wasn’t bored by any means but kind of “stuck in my ways,” a state in which many of us see ourselves. 

Few of my habits were particularly harmful to myself or others, albeit annoying at times to my family and friends, less so to Tom. He’s always considered my quirks as mildly entertaining.

One cannot travel the world and find joy in the process while “being stuck in one’s ways.” Ultimately, it would create angst, frustration and unhappiness. What would be the point?

So, beside saying goodbye to the people we love and a lifetime of “stuff,” we’ve both had to say “goodbye” to many of the routines and habits that we thoroughly enjoyed, often looked forward to on any given day in our lives.

Here are a few of the habits each of us have forfeited in our travels:

For Tom:
1.  Reading the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper every day of the week. Based on poor quality of the download service by the few companies that offered the daily paper, he was forced to quit, not replacing it with any other daily publication.
2.  Sunflower seeds, salted in the shell. Quitting smoking last Halloween when we left Minnesota, he’d taken up a replacement habit of eating sunflower seeds. Now, as we travel the world, we’re unable to find them at any of the local grocery stores.
3.  Turning on the TV, remote in hand, able to “flick” to his favorite TV shows at leisure, all spoken in English. There are two financial news show, BBC news and France News, here in Italy spoken in English plus, reruns of Jimmy Kimmel. 

For Jess:
1.  Eating dessert every night. With easy access to low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, starch-free, grain-free products, I was able to make desserts we’d enjoy every night after dinner during our last year in the US; the perfect plate of dessert, a special fork and a neatly folded linen napkin eaten while watching a favorite pre-recorded TV show provided great comfort. This habit is gone. Ingredients to make any type of dessert are not available.  If I find myself hungry a few hours after dinner, I may have a piece of hard cheese. Habit gone. That was the hardest one for me. 
2.  Crystal Light Ice Tea:  for no less than the past 10 years, I had my insulated mug filled with this ice tea with lots of ice at my side most days and night, out and about, in my car, visiting family and friends. I gave it up a week ago.  ts not available here and we were running low on our supply. The ice tea is 99% caffeine free. It was habit. Its over now. I’m free, instead drinking bubbly water with lemon. Its OK. After a few days, I stopped thinking about it.
3.  Watching Dr. Oz (with whom I didn’t always agree with his many mixed messages but enjoyed none the less) and also, Dr. Phil, every afternoon, since retiring, I turned on these two shows while chopping and dicing for dinner, folding laundry, baking desserts or other productive tasks, never sitting down  just to watch. These shows are unavailable for downloading or streaming outside the US. We could pay for a service but choose not at this point.

They say, “old habits die hard.”  Yes, they do. For us, new habits replaced them such as with the bubbly water and lemon, watching downloaded shows and reading books on our phones. 

In the past, we’d dine at 6:30 each night. Now, we try for 7:00 pm. We used to awaken the same time each morning, going to bed the same time at night. Now it changes from day to day. I used to do laundry every day. With no dryer, the weather is a factor for hanging clothes. I used to go to the health club on the same days each week. Now there’s no health club within an hour and a half drive on the mountain roads. I work out in the neighborhood, walking the hills.

Looking at the clock on my laptop as I write this, I see that’s it close to 4:00 pm.  It’s tea (hot) time. That habit, I’ll never break. Although I’ve decided that when I run out of my favorite Taiwan Pouchon in the next month or so, I’ll start drinking Earl Grey which appears to be available everywhere we’ve been. So far, that is.

Supplies needed to carry on…More sacrifices…Happy 4th of July everyone in the US!…

Sorry folks, no photos today except this one I’d failed to post when we visited Petra, Jordan in May 2013. 

Staying inside all day today due to rainy weather, we felt lazy, as one may feel on a holiday, watching downloaded movies. Tomorrow, with sunshine predicted, we’ll have more to share.  We hope that our readers in the US have enjoyed the 4th of July. 

Last week I found this photo from when we walked to Petra in May. I’d saved in the wrong location realizing it was never posted (to the best of my knowledge). These steps were much steeper than appearing in this photo.  To see this horse gingerly tackle them in the scorching heat was both heartbreaking and awe inspiring. 

Planning ahead is never far from our thoughts. 

Prescriptions, medical supplies, toiletries, office supplies, batteries for digital equipment, copies of travel documents must be replaced along with any other items that pop into our heads as we continue to use what we have on hand.

Many expat travelers such as ourselves choose to live in large cities with easy access to most of these items.  For us, having chosen to live in more remote areas, we must plan in advance. 

With less than two months until we leave for Africa, we’ve begun to evaluate what we may need for the nine months we’ll live between Kenya, South Africa and Morocco.

Early this morning, I found myself counting malaria pills to determine if we are short.  While still in the US, I’d ordered enough to last for our almost six-month while in Kenya and South Africa. While in Belize, we ended up booking almost three more months in Morocco. 

Today, looking online at the CDC’s website it appears there’s no known risk of malaria in Morocco, leaving us with the correct number of pills we’ll need for Kenya and South Africa, one per day for each of us for the almost six months.

However, with our current prescriptions scheduled to run out in October, we find it necessary to order enough for another year. Receiving mail in Africa in the remote areas we’ll reside in Kenya and South Africa is sketchy at best. 

Early next week, we’ll place our order online hoping to receive the package well in advance of leaving here.  Although, now not covered by insurance, the prices for our prescriptions are reasonable.

While in Dubai, I had no alternative but to use one of the two Z-Pak antibiotic prescriptions we had on hand while I was ill with a raging sinus infection as a result of an awful flu we both contracted on the Middle East cruise from Barcelona to Dubai.  Hoping to replace the used prescription, I am requesting one five day dose online. 

The weight of our bags, at this point continues to be a major concern. Learning from experience these past eight months, overstocking in a poor strategy.  But remaining mindful of crucial items we know we’ll need is a vital part of our everyday lives.

So far in our travels, we hauled a supply of Crystal Light ice tea, our daily  beverage of choice. Although the pitcher sized packets are lightweight, including a 100 packet three month supply adds an extra two to three pounds. Plus, with the product unavailable in Italy, we’d have no alternative but to have it shipped, incurring international shipping fees.

A few days ago, we both made a commitment to give up Crystal Light ice tea entirely, unless by chance we find it to be available at any local grocery stores where we’re living at any given time, purchasing only enough to use, not to carry.

Giving up the insulated mug of ice tea that I’ve carried everywhere for years, will not be easy.  Is it an addiction? I suppose there are some who may feel that anything we “have to have” may be construed as an addiction. 

With the ice tea 99% caffeine free, surely it must be more of a habit than an addiction. It doesn’t matter what we call it.  We have to stop drinking it.  The weaning process began a few days ago, diluting it by 30% until our current supply is gone in the next few weeks.

Tom’s powdered creamer is another item we’ve been unable to find. We recently considered buying it online, but there again it would result in more to pack.   While shopping last week, we purchased three possible alternatives, three liquid creamers used for latte here in Italy, a very common beverage.   

Much to our surprise, the liquid creamer had an acceptable taste, a product we will no doubt be able to find at our future destinations. I prefer real cream, but with few preservatives used in Italy (and many other countries) it tends to spoil in about five days. 

Interestingly, many foods spoil quickly here, including deli meats and cheeses, again made without nitrates and other preservatives. This fact is pleasing for one’s health, but requires rethinking storage of these perishable items. The freezer, although small, serves that purpose for most products.

Surprisingly, vegetables also spoil quickly here leaving us to wonder what spray chemical products, the local Italian farmers are NOT using on their produce. 

Shopping for two weeks in advance as we’ve done here thus far, requires we eat all the fresh produce as quickly as possible. Soon, the vegetables in the gardens in our yard will be ready to pick, eliminating a portion of this issue over the summer.

All of our luggage is currently atop a bed in a  guest room, except for the items we’d placed in cupboards and drawers. Each day, I peruse through the items, considering which items I am willing to let go. 

In the past several days, I’ve eliminated no less than five pounds.  Minus the ice tea, we’ll be down approximately eight pounds. This process must continue. We’re highly motivated to board our upcoming flight to Africa on September 2nd without paying any excess baggage fees.

Saying goodbye to stuff?  For us, it’s been a process. After a lifetime of stuff, surrounded by stuff, replacing stuff, trips to Costco, stockpiling stuff and surrounding ourselves with stuff we like, love and treasure, it definitely has been a challenge. 

At this point, it’s only practicality and function that drives our sense of attachment to an item(s). No longer do I look at an item of clothing with a smile, looking forward to wearing it again. Those days are long gone.

Above all, its the sacrifices we’ve chosen to make for the opportunity to travel the world are many. We find ourselves instead, loving the views of Mother Nature’s rich treasures, the smells that freely represent a culture, the tastes of the local foods, the sounds of the languages unfamiliar to our ears, the music so passionately represented by its citizens and most of all the people, none of which we’ll be required to place in our bags. 

These, we’ll carry in our hearts and minds forever.

Teaching an old dog…disembarking the Norwegian Epic soon…

Disembarking Day.  We’re getting off the Norwegian Epic, at long last.

It was is with much pleasure that we’re leaving this ship. The
crowds, the lines, the noise and the chaos over the past four days since
departing from Barcelona on May 1st has been unnerving for both of us.
This ship, although modern, clean and attractive leaves much
to be desired.  The food, the service, the
entertainment and the floor plan are severely lacking. The service staff is
exhausted, overworked, all of which is evidenced by the fake smiles plastered
on most of their faces in a futile, although well intentioned, effort to seem cheerful.
Our sweet cabin steward, to whom we gave $60 tip, started
out cheery and animated.  Halfway into
our 15 day cruise, he started going downhill, forgetting towels, ice, and other
amenities.  Many of the crew members
became ill during the three days of 50 foot swells, never seeming to get back
on track.  Most of them were used to the
calm seas of the Caribbean Sea as opposed to this rough transatlantic crossing.

The food: frightful.  The only item I found
delicious, other than the dinner in the “pay for” restaurant, was the
“real eggs” omelet I had every morning, especially after I told them
to stop adding the 1/3 cup of oil to the pan and to use the spray instead.  Tom said nothing was memorable including the
specialty restaurant. 

Their compliance to my low carb, grain free, starch free,
and sugar free diet was a gallant effort but the resulting food was dry, bland
and unseasoned.  Every night, my “steamed”
vegetables, a staple of my meals, were either undercooked or sautéed in gobs of
butter, making them inedible. 
Whether I
had fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or beef, it was a miniscule overcooked

Our final bill for the 15 days was $1021, including $200 in Internet fees for days out to sea, cocktails, beverages and tips charged on our bill daily of $24 (totaling $360), one night in the specialty restaurant plus $150 for the excursion to Marseilles, France.  This proves to be around $400 for all beverage and tips for beverages for this extended period. 

Hopefully, tomorrow when we board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner
of the Seas for a 15 day cruise to Dubai, we’ll find the food and service more
to our liking.  Based on conversations
with many passengers, they’ve particularly enjoyed this older ship’s attention
to detail, something we found to be the case on the older Celebrity Century,
our favorite ship thus far.

At the moment, we’re sitting in our favorite booth in the
Garden Cafe as passenger’s colors of their luggage tags are called to proceed
to disembark the ship, go through customs and find their way to their next

It’s now 8:00 am.  Our
color has already been called but we’ve chosen to disembark “last” since our
hotel room won’t be ready until 2:00 PM. 
We’ve done this on each of our last cruises which resulted in a shorter line
going through customs.  Hopefully, this
will be the case today as well.

Once outside, we’ll grab a cab for the short ride to Hotel
Grums, where we’ll have them store our luggage until our room is ready while we
wait in the lobby for our check in for the one night.  With books to read on our phones and our MiFi
we’ll busy ourselves reading and writing.

Speaking of luggage…OK, here’s the final tally.  After donating the three 30″ orange
Antler bags, we’re down to one 30″ orange bag for Tom and one slightly
larger black Samsonite bag for me, one carry on, one computer bag plus…two
duffel bags with our dirty clothes that we couldn’t fit into the suitcases and a
small bag with the cords for our digital equipment and a small doctor bag with
our toiletries.

As for the vitamins, I took 80% of them out of the bottles
placing the pills in Ziplock bags and scattering them throughout the luggage.  I should have done this to begin with but
then again, who knew we’d be held up for 24 hours by security over
vitamins?  Live and learn.  It’s all a part of the process.
Our goal, at the end of the upcoming cruise as we pack for
our 13 night stay in Dubai, is to be rid of the two duffel bags, the doctor bag
and the other overflow bag.  It will
require us donating more “stuff” or throwing it away.  After the disposition of the three bags,
we’re ready to let go of more of our favorite items.

The clothes we’re wearing today are the same clothes
we’ll wear to dinner tonight and again tomorrow since we don’t plan to open any bags
other than the computer bags and the doctor bag with overnight toiletries while
we stay in the hotel tonight. 

In my old life, I wouldn’t have imagined wearing the same
clothing two days in a row, let alone the same clothing during the day as when
going out to dinner in the evening. 
Alas, we keep adapting and somehow, in the process, we find these
adaptations to be liberating and to a degree, life changing.

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Learn enough new
tricks and perhaps the old dog isn’t so old anymore.