Considerable planning for the upcoming year…Health issue improving…

We had mozzarella balls stuffed meatballs with a sugar-free Italian seasoned tomato sauce with mushrooms for three nights, topped with grated mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. There’s also one ball inside each meatball, along with one on each top. On the side, steamed veggies and salad.
“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”
A new visitor to the tree by the veranda. It’s a Rufous-naped Wren, a common bird species in Costa Rica.

The thought of spending a year in Africa beginning in February 2018 can be daunting considering the number of supplies we’ll need to bring with us, many of which cannot be found locally or shipped.

Also, there’s a risk of theft of imported packages and also the possibility of lengthy delays. We learned this when we spent almost a year in Africa in 2013/2014 when shipments took months instead of weeks to arrive, including requesting upgraded shipping.

Many streets in business districts are one way, and it’s tricky to spot the warning sign that says, “Do Not Enter,” No Play Paso in Spanish.

I take three low-dose prescriptions, none of which are available over the counter here in Costa Rica (as mentioned in an earlier post) with the brand or generics names for the dosages I need. Also, Costa Rica doesn’t allow the import of any prescriptions, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.  

Many countries throughout the world have McDonald’s.  We never eat there.

Subsequently, I recently placed an order for the maximum supply allowable in one specific order (a six-month supply) from ProgressiveRx. I’m awaiting the package’s arrival at our mailing service.

We couldn’t determine what type of store this may be.

This morning I placed an order for contact lenses, enough to last until we returned to the US in 2019. A few days ago, we ordered Tom enough Crystal Light Ice Tea to last for the next six months, enough to get him to South Africa, after which he’ll order more to be shipped. 

Many apartment buildings throughout the area are similar to that one might find in other countries.

I gave up drinking Crystal Light when my gastrointestinal issues escalated, only drinking plain water.  As I continue to improve, I’ve been drinking a morning beverage which I hadn’t been able to do for months over these past several days.

To make the coffee drink, I use a ½ mug of brewed coffee with a ½ cup of organic cocoa, 3T. Unsweetened coconut cream, 1 tsp. Organic cinnamon,½ tsp organic powdered turmeric with a dash of fresh ground pepper (pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric) with a few drops of liquid Stevia. This drink tastes extraordinary and has no ill effects on my stomach.

A Lexus dealership in San Jose.  Cars are more expensive here than in the US.

Based on the lack of any negative effects of this morning beverage (after many months without drinking coffee), I’ll have to make sure I have all these ingredients on hand when we board the cruise on November 23rd. It will be inconvenient to bring the coconut cream, which I can replace with real cream, which should be available on the ship.

We were surprised to see this store in Costa Rica.

With our priority status as Elite Members on Celebrity Cruises, I’ll be able to order bottles of quality bottled water during the free happy hour to drink in the evening and throughout the day. I won’t be drinking wine or any alcoholic beverages on cruises or any time in the future. After years of not drinking alcohol, it’s simply too hard on my digestive tract.

There are numerous warehouse-type stores throughout the country of Costa Rica. This is the front entrance to PriceSmart. There’s a Pricesmart store opening near Atenas on October 6th we’ll visit soon.

Since I begrudgingly started taking daily 20 mg Prilosec (Omeprazole) about five weeks ago, my ulcers (resulting from having had Helicobacter Pylori for 18 months) have improved tremendously, finally able to eat without pain or experience burning pain when I don’t eat. I can’t tell you how excited I am as I continue to improve a little each day!

Small shops line the highway.

There are numerous other products we’ll be ordering over this next month, including clothing for Antarctica to be shipped to our hotel in Florida, where we’ll stay one night on November 22nd. The next day, we’ll board the chip.

A typical scene along the highway to San Jose, the capital city.

For now, with the vast storms we’re experiencing, we’re still staying put. Tomorrow, we have to head to town to make several stops, take photos and hopefully get Tom a much-needed haircut.  We’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy your day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2016:

View from the second-story veranda of a villa that was owned by our landlord in Sumbersari Bali. For more photos and details, please click here.

Where’s our shipment?…Sent International Express on October 4th…How we receive supplies via international shipping…

Silky flowers with soft petals.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Crab imprints on the sand.

When we asked for a shipment of supplies from our MaillinkPlus Mail Service in Nevada to Bali on October 4, we expected it to arrive within 7 days.    The cost to ship the 11.3 kg 25 lb box of essential products was US$185, or IDR 2,416,377.

We had asked Eric, our shipping service representative, to add insurance for no less than $1,000, IDR 13,061,497.  By adding up the cost of all the items we had purchased to be shipped to the postal service, this amount of insuance should have been adequate.

A larger villa 4 or 5 doors from our house.    The taller villa in the background is described in detail in part 1 here and part 2 here).

Eric suggested that we not insure on the basis of his route to Jakarta, Indonesia, then Denpasar, then Negara/Sumerbsari. The likelihood of theft was significantly increased when a label on the exterior of the package indicated it had been insured. 

We decided to take the risk knowing that whatever we did, there was a certain degree of risk. It may end up lost, stolen or with parts of the content taken away.  

Houses overlooking the beach.

Tom’s new phone was in the mailbox along with some letters that might lead to identity theft. In addition, a replacement credit card for an expired card appeared in the original envelope. This might be quite worrisome if stolen.

The tracking information on the parcel is vague and misleading:

Product & Tracking Information

Postal Product:

  • Priority Mail Express International          

Date & Time
Status of Item
October 11, 2016 , 9:05 am
Attempted Delivery Abroad

We attempted to deliver your item in INDONESIA at 9:05 am on October 11, 2016.
October 11, 2016 , 8:35 am
Arrival at Post Office
October 11, 2016 , 5:35 am
Customs clearance processing complete
October 9, 2016 , 10:02 am
Customs Clearance
October 9, 2016 , 9:32 am
Processed Through Facility
October 9, 2016 , 9:32 am
Customs Clearance
October 8, 2016 , 4:00 pm
October 8, 2016 , 10:35 am
October 8, 2016 , 7:27 am
October 7, 2016 , 12:54 am
October 6, 2016 , 6:38 pm
October 5, 2016 , 6:43 pm
Processed Through Facility
October 5, 2016 , 6:43 pm
Arrived at Facility
October 5, 2016 , 5:25 pm
Departed USPS Facility
October 5, 2016 , 3:53 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
October 5, 2016 , 4:53 am
Departed USPS Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89199 
October 4, 2016 , 10:02 pm
Arrived at USPS Origin Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89199 
October 4, 2016 , 9:24 pm
Arrived at USPS Origin Facility
LAS VEGAS, NV 89120 
October 4, 2016 , 2:37 pm
Picked Up

This leads us to believe that “attempted delivery abroad” meant they’d tried to deliver it to us. But,  this certainly didn’t occur here in Sumbersari. As a result of this particular notation, we decided to try to figure out where the package is in fact being held for shipment.

Why do we ship items to ourselves while living in foreign lands?  Can’t we wait until we’re somewhere we can purchase the same or similar items? In a perfect world that would be a great idea. 

Cool boxes/coolers for fishing are stored under this hut.

In the reality of this life, we can’t find most of these items in any local shops or online stores. If we could, we definitely would.   The items on our lists aren’t to be found in most countries, not at the shops, not at online resources.

Many assume that online shopping is similar in other countries as it is in the US. It’s not. We haven’t been able to find our favorite iced tea in any country other than the US. Also, there’s the unpredictability in purchasing clothing and/or shoes when sizing is different in other parts of the world. 

The cow is checking us out as we walk by.

It has always made sense to us make most purchases at Amazon in the US and other items from well known reputable online companies we’ve worked with in the past.  For us, returns aren’t possible. 

Whether we’re buying clothes which we’r unable to try on, large amounts of Crystal Light iced tea, electronics and a plethora of miscellaneous items, its always been easier, safer and with peace of mind that we’ve shopped for the familiar items in the US.

This same road was flooded last week.

As Amazon Prime members most items we purchase offer free shipping to our mailing service which then ships everything to us in one box. Avoiding any shipping costs on the purchase end reduces the overall cost.

Thus, it made sense for us to pay the annual fee of US $99, IDR 1,293,435 to be members of Amazon Prime for which we get some free video streams and Kindle books.

We kept an online list of all of the items we’d purchased checking them off as they arrived at the mailing service. Once we were confident all items had been received, we contacted Eric at MaillinkPlus with the appropriate address, asking him to remove and toss all packaging in which the individual items arrived. We utilize this same system a few times each year for all shipments.

Logs cut from local trees.

Eric tosses any accompanying sales slips, advertising and other useless packing materials. As mentioned above, we can’t return anything and won’t need the packing slips. Also, we have online receipts for all items. Why pay shipping for the weight for a pile of superfluous envelopes, catalogs and slips of paper?

After the box is neatly packed and taped, he researches the best means of shipping, based on our current location. We may have to guide him on the availability of receiving packages locally. For example, UPS, DHL and other popular shipping companies, don’t service Malaya Beach, Sumbersari.

The only possibility for this remote location was to have it shipped through the United States Postal Service (USPS) which is less expensive than many other services. In this case, per Gede’s research, having visited the local post office, the seeming best option was to send it directly to the local post/Western Union office located in Malaya, a 10 minute drive.

A beach shack.

In the process, the contents are checked by customs to ensure nothing illegal is being shipped and to access customs fees based on the contents. It’s during this process that a less-than-scrupulous party may slip something out of the box into their own hands. 

A few days ago, we became concerned the package may be lost based on notations on the tracking information. We gave it to Gede which he took to the post/Western Union office while they tracked it on their computer.

A small fishing boat with outriggers.

Based on the information Gede gleaned from the post office, the package is expected to arrive in Negara tomorrow. Gede has offered to drive the 35 minute distance to Negara to collect it, pay the custom fees (we’ll reimburse him), rather than wait a few more days until someone from the postal service decides to drive it to remote Malaya Beach. 

Are we optimistic we’ll actually receive the package? Yes. Are we optimistic the box will still contain everything we ordered to be shipped? Not so much. Then again, we could be out the entire US $1,000, IDR 13,061,497 if the package never arrived.

Sadly, there are trash piles where locals dispose of garbage.

Most likely, if anything is missing it will be Tom’s replacement unlocked smart phone. As for the credit card and snail mail…we’ll see how that goes. If and when the shipment arrives, we’ll take a photo of the contents, share the cost of the custom fees and describe in detail any missing items (if any).

In the realm of things, after we started researching the state of the package, we had to accept and face the reality that we may never receive the package. We’d be out the cost of the items and the shipping. It would be frustrating, but as we always say, “It’s the nature of the beast.” Life continues on.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2015:

How frustrating it must have been for sailors and tourists unable to partake in boating activities during a rainy period in Fiji. For more details, please click here.