Frustrating day attempting to resolve issues…

Last night we took this blurry photo of our visiting porcupine through the glass and the screen doors to the veranda. If we’d opened either door it would have run away.

It was hot and humid. The dew point was 73, and the temperature was 93F, 34C. It felt as if it was much higher due to the thick and stifling air. Knowing I still had to do the walking, I struggled to follow my usual routine throughout the day. I set the alarm on my phone to remind me to walk every 15 minutes.

On less hot days, I set the alarm for every 20 minutes. Cook, walk, do post, walk, do laundry, walk, feed animals, walk. But yesterday was different. I spent the entire day on the phone, on hold cumulatively for hours, trying to figure out a solution for our cellphone situation. When they put me on hold, I’d walk, stopping when they came back online.

It was hopeless with Google Fi. They are suspending our service due to overuse of roaming data and phone, on or about March 12, which is 30 days from their original notification letter. We leave here on or about March 24. Most likely, today we’ll book our flight and rental car.

What a rare occasion! Broken Horn and Hal sharing pellets! We were thrilled to see them getting along so well.

From March 12th until we enter the US, we will be without phone service, when Google Fi service may or may not be restored automatically. If it is, it’s not a solution for us. Once we leave the country on April 8 to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the UK, the service may be suspended once again.

Our only option is to sign up for a service such as T-Mobile with their senior international plan, which requires we call them once a month to “reactivate our service.” The cost for such a plan will be a little more than we’re paying now, but their international data is unlimited, which would enable us to make calls on Whatsapp, Skype, or other such online calling services.

When I spent an hour on the phone with T-Mobile yesterday, I concluded this would be our best option. I set a notice on my calendar to call them once a month on, let’s say, the first of each month to ensure our international service continues seamlessly. This calling requirement is weird, but it will provide service worldwide.

This was the first time we’d ever seen them together. They even politely sniffed each other’s butts, not unlike dogs would do.

In the interim, next time we go to Komatipoort for groceries, we’ll purchase SIM cards for our phones and will be able to talk and text. However, all our accounts are set up to send us texts at our current phone number. We may or may not lose our phone numbers.

If the service is restored once on US soil, we can quickly get to a T-Mobile store to get their SIM cards installed (our phones can’t sign up remotely to T-Mobile’s network), and we will be able to keep our current phone numbers. If the service is not restored with Google Fi, we will lose our phone numbers and reset our new numbers into each online app that texts us to verify transactions.

During the gap from March 12th on, we will have to make sure we request verification through email, if possible, or enter the SIM card phone number into each account. This could take quite some time to complete and then would have to be redone once we are in the US, one way or another, whether we can use our old numbers or have new phone numbers. It’s all a lot of extra work.

This adorable male impala whom we’ve named Chevy has been stopping by frequently.

A thoughtful reader and world traveler wrote to us last night explaining she is using T-Mobile’s international plan and is working for them with a few adjustments here and there. Thanks for writing, Lisa. We appreciate your input. We always value our readers sharing solutions for similar situations we encounter and sharing our solutions in our posts.

I made it through the day, managing to get all the information we needed and get in all but 500 steps of my usual routine. Today, I will make up for it. On Sunday, the day of my birthday, I doubt I will be able to get in all the steps. Louise and Danie have a surprise for us for my birthday and are picking us up at 9:15 am. We don’t have a clue what it will be. Whatever it is, I’m sure we will like it. They know me very well.

I hope you have a fantastic day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, February 17, 2021:

Helmeted Guinea-fowl and their four chicks stop by daily for seeds. They are so shy it’s difficult to take a good photo when they don’t stay still for a moment. For more, please click here.

Delta, the demon, day from hell…Finally, we’ve arrived…New phones…

This morning’s view from the backyard of Karen’s home in Eden Prairie, where we’ll be staying while here in Minnesota.

With the best intentions, I’d planned to post this yesterday. But, once we arrived at son Greg’s house and the fun activity began, I had no time whatsoever to wrap it up and upload the post.

Also, Tom’s new Google phone had arrived, and I had to spend no less than two hours setting it up. I am usually adept at this, but the process wasn’t as clear-cut as it could have been, and I spent at least an hour on the phone with tech support, finally getting everything resolved.
This issue centered around the fact that we’d purchased two Google phones and mine had yet to arrive (it arrived at Karen’s home last yesterday), making it difficult to set up a joint account for pay as you go phone and data with only one of the phones in our possession.

We are ridding ourselves of our Skype phone number and will use Whatsapp, Skype, or Facebook Messenger for future out-of-the-country calls. Our new phones have reasonable international call rates (as a global phone), but there’s no point in paying when no cost options are available via the web.

We’ll never have to repurchase a SIM card when these global phones work anywhere. Today, I’ll finish setting mine up, and we’ll be good to go. Ironically, Tom forgot to bring his with him when he left to see his family this morning. Ha! I guess now. We’ll become more phone conscientious with these new devices.

On to our trip from the pier in Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis:

Without a doubt, we are always grateful to any airline for getting us safely to our location. I wish we were tolerant enough to feel that was enough. A certain semblance of organization and flow is also required to provide anything beyond a one-star rating.

Delta Airlines, masterful advertisers, appealing to all of our senses, evidenced at Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, and Minneapolis airports with the most pleasing graphics posters at every turn, leave a traveler with high expectations.

We were sorely disappointed. Both flights were seriously late with few updates offering their passengers little comfort and remained in a perpetual state of confusion. Let’s face it, we’re fairly savvy travelers, and yet we were constantly scratching our heads, wondering what was next.

As it turned out, an expected arrival time in Minneapolis was at 6:30 pm when in fact, we didn’t arrive until almost 8:30 pm, not the worst delay but indeed the most confusing. 

With the necessity of picking up the rental car and a horrendous walk to the car rental area, we weren’t on our way to Karen’s home until well after 9:00 pm. We’d been on the move for 14 hours since we disembarked the ship in Fort Lauderdale when we arrived at Karen’s home.

Surprisingly, to both of us, we felt relieved and energized, ending up enjoying the remainder of the evening with Karen and Rich, in their comfy living room, in their gorgeous home, sipping on wine, and catching up.

With Tom off to spend part of the day with his family and the evening with mine watching the Minnesota Vikings game, it will be another good family day for both of us.

This morning, son Greg is picking me up to attend a brunch at a restaurant with Camille, his wife, my three grandkids, and other family members and friends. She has been going through a complex medical crisis, and we are all here to love and support her.

My younger sister Julie is also visiting from California, so it’s all special to be together once again. It has been two years and three months since we were here.

We’ll continue to post each day during our two-plus months in the USA. Photos may not be prevalent during this period, but we’ll do our best. I have several for tomorrow’s post. Please check back.

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2018:

Wildebeest Willie looks into my eyes when I talk to him in a goofy high pitched voice. In this photo, he was sharing pellets with impalas. For more photos, please click here.

Internet issues continue…Unedited post was uploaded…Yikes!…Final mountain photos…Great photo from one year ago!

Corner shops we passed on the mountain road.

Late last night, when the Internet appeared to have improved I reread yesterday’s post finding numerous errors I thought I’d already corrected. Usually, when writing a new post, I write directly into, reviewing each line and making any corrections before uploading it. After I’ve reviewed it making corrections, Tom also checks it for errors. At times, we both miss errors that neither of us nor spell-check spotted.

The handmade wares offered by the locals are a common sight along the highway.

Due to the poor signal yesterday, none of my corrections were saved resulting in my uploading the unedited version. All-day, I was unable to get back into the site to verify its status to ensure the corrections took. Imagine my frustrations when I discovered that all of my errors were uploaded which may have created some difficulty for our readers. 

A more elaborate housing style pops up in the landscape. It appears there’s a river beyond these homes.

Hopefully, whatever precipitated the vastly slowed Internet connection appears to have improved to some extent last night, enabling me to go back into the site and make the corrections as originally intended. I apologize for this annoying inconvenience.

Once again, the blue sky appeared as a backdrop to the colorful hills.

Frustrating. If during the next 31 days, you don’t see a post on any given day, most likely it is due to the fact that we cannot get online. A few times on Sunday, I was able to get into Facebook, but not on into many of my other most frequently viewed sites. 

Wrought with motion sickness, I took all of these photos through the closed window in the vehicle.  It was too much effort to open the power window.

Of course, email requires less bandwidth and is readily available with the weakest of signals. Feel free to email me with questions or comments if you don’t see a post.

The landscape is lined with power lines.

With future plans in the works, we’ve had difficulty getting into the specific sites at certain times in order to look up cruises, flights, and vacation rentals. Booking the flights for our family for Hawaii in December has also been a challenge with this same issue as well.

The scenery was desolate at times.

Today, we’ll be booking our flights and rental car for Madeira. How dependent we’ve become on the Internet!  Without it, we’d have had little interest in traveling the world. How did travelers manage in the past? Or, a hundred years ago? I can’t imagine.

The red color of the earth is seen throughout Morocco is due to the high iron content.

As an avid reader, I’ve often had to try for days to upload a book I’ve ordered for the Kindle app on my phone.  Also, with only two English speaking news channels on the TV, we are dependent on the Internet to provide our entertainment during quieter times. 

Uploading shows from Graboid may take an hour to upload a single one-hour TV show requiring that we upload them during the night when the Internet traffic is low.

Another housing development.

Unquestionably, the thick walls of the Medina and in the riad have a bearing on the ability to get a clear signal.  I have no doubt that outside the Medina there’s a tremendous improvement.

Breathtaking scenery.

However, as we’ve written in the past, we’ve had issues with the strength of the signal all over the world, some countries more than others. The strongest signals we’ve had have been using XCOM Global’s MiFi rental. 

More breathtaking scenery.

Unfortunately, there are two limitations in using XCOM Global that are limiting for us; the allowance of only 250 megabytes per day, not nearly enough for our combined usage which is upwards of one gigabyte (1000 Mb) per day and, the cost at US $395 a month which is high considering the limited usage.

With the rainy spring season, the grass was green and crisp against the iron-rich soils.

We each have our own hotspots that we can’t use in some countries, including Morocco. By purchasing SIM cards that we install into the hotspots, we were able to get a good signal for example in Kenya. However, when we first arrived in Morocco, we visited several cell stores none of which carried the necessary SIM cards. With a router and service provided in the riad utilizing local Internet service, our only option has been to use it.

When we looked across this railing, it was hard to imagine that we were on that section of the road only a few minutes earlier.

Many homes we’ve rented have routers that are included in the rent. When inquiring about a prospective rental, our first question is about the availability and quality of the signal. So far, everyone has been straight with us, explaining the occasional outages and periods of poor signals that occur during the high traffic periods.

I’d wish I hadn’t had motion sickness which prevented me from fully embracing the beauty of the scenery. However, I’m grateful to have taken the photos I did since we’re enjoying seeing them now.

Luckily, this morning I was easily able to get into our site, hopefully catching my errors before uploading today’s post to the Internet. There’s no doubt that on occasion, we’ll have posting issues along with errors that we fail to catch. Although it’s somewhat embarrassing to leave errors in our wake, I accept that its a reality of posting every day.

Moving quickly while I shot this photo of what I believe to be sheep.

Writing every day is comparable to writing a school essay each and every day, hoping to get a passing grade.  Add the cumbersome task of adding photos and it can take time. It’s a case of errors waiting to happen, both mine and those predicted by the strength of the Internet. 

Another case of the road we’d traveled minutes ago.

I try not to stress about any of it. The sheer pleasure of documenting our lives during this exciting time and sharing it with readers all over the world is motivating and never feels as if its a task. Except perhaps, yesterday and other days when the signal is too poor to post or make corrections.

It amazed us how well these roads were made through these steep mountains with elevations up to over 14,000 feet, 4267 meters. At one point we were at 10,000 feet, 3048 meters suffering no ill effect from the altitude. 

Thanks for reading. Thanks for returning to read. Our lives are all the more meaningful with our readers traveling along with us.

Photo from one year ago today, April 14, 2013:

Still on a back-to-back cruise on the Carnival Liberty as it left Miami, we giggled as we spotted the Norwegian Epic ahead of us, the ship we’d be boarding in Barcelona, Spain one week later. The story from that date describes how we managed to move to another cabin after not sleeping for several nights due to the loud noise from the disco one floor below us making our bed shake until 3:00 am. For details of that story, please click here.

Memorial weekend thoughts…

As we are lounging in the comfy chairs, Indy 500 on the TV in the background, an odd sensation washed over me.  This will be the last Memorial weekend we’ll spend in this house. 

While anticipating the necessary chopping and dicing in order to prepare the shish kabob dinner we’ll cook on the grill tonight, my mind is not so much on the race and chopping as it is on the realities facing us moving forward.
Today is Day #7 with no coffee for me.  Our Miele coffee machine died last week requiring a $1000 repair.  We decided to quit drinking coffee rather than invest in the repairs or purchase a new coffee machine at this late a date.  

I love coffee.  Tom is ambivalent.  For me, a proper cup of coffee requires the requisite two tablespoons of real cream, two packs of Stevia and two drops of liquid Splenda (my vice) to ensure it is tasteful and also low carb.  Tom prefers powdered cream and real sugar, which he forfeited nine months ago when we committed to the gluten free, low carb, sugar free, wheat, grain and starch free lifestyle.  

The question becomes: “Is it worth continuing to drink coffee when we each require specific “add-ins” that may not be readily available throughout the world.” So seven days ago, I said: “Bye, bye coffee” and “Hello, tea.” Tom doesn’t drink tea, except when iced. Tom also gave it up. Luckily, no headaches or cravings for either of us.

Many of these situations arise, causing us to question the continuation of a particular habit by using products that may be impossible to find abroad. Do we really want to haul large quantities of certain items in our  overloaded bags? Probably not.

So, I started making a list (how unusual of me!), of the items we have used and loved all these years.  Here are only a few of the many habits we must break:
  1. US TV:  We currently have three multi-room DVRs.  We have dozens of shows taping around the clock (many we never have an opportunity to watch) to ensure we are entertained upon deciding to lounge in these comfy chairs in the evening or on a weekend. No more watching!
  2. US Radio:  We each have our favorite radio shows we enjoy while driving. No more listening!  It uses too much data to listen on our laptops.
  3. Smart Phones: We’ve had unlimited service for talk, text and internet.  In the middle of any night, when I can’t sleep, I listen to Dr. Joy Brown‘s most recent podcast to lull me back to sleep. And, what about talking freely to family and friends on the phone?  It will be Skype in the future.
  4. eBay Shopping.  Want to buy something?  I look online at retail stores and buy it from eBay or Amazon, or through a multitude of other discount sellers. We won’t be able to receive packages along the way considering the delivery time and shipping fees to wherever we may be. No more online shopping!
  5. No Cars: It would be foolish to bear the expense of owning cars, paying for insurance, licensing and storage.  We calculated this expense at about $1500 a month. We will rent OPC (other people’s cars). No more driving one’s own car!
  6. King-sized Sleep Number Bed:  We have the over-sized Sleep Number California King Sleep Number bed whereby the head and foot rises upon command from a remote.  Oh, we sure will miss our bed when sleeping in OPB (other people’s beds) with possible bed bugs, dust mites, uncomfortable mattresses and who know what else? Yikes! We will be packing our own hypo-allergenic mattress and box springs covers. No more comfy bed!
  7. Fresh Produce: We have salad every night with dinner. It’s often my favorite part of dinner with our limited diet; adding low carb veggies, nuts, grated cheeses and fresh bacon bits. Marcia, the travel nurse at Park Nicollet Travel Clinic advised against consuming any fresh produce, except in the US, Canada and Europe.  The risk of disease is high. Salads, fresh fruit, raw veggies?  No more raw veggies or salad!
  8. Toiletries, Sonic Toothbrush (too heavy) and Cosmetics:  Oh, no!  This is tricky for me as a daily user of a wide array of cosmetic items, all paraben-free and mostly organic products (when possible).  Many of these items will not be readily available and, many of which I usually purchase online.  I’ll pack as much as possible purchasing whatever is available in other countries.
  9. Favorite Foods: Will they have sugar free items, almond meal, coconut flour (gluten free flour we can use), coconut oil, unsweetened Greek yogurt, Crystal Lite Iced Tea, Himalayan Salt, unsweetened coconut milk,   protein powder?  Grass fed meat?  Free range eggs?  No more familiar foods!
  10. English: Will anyone understand us? Or will we understand them? Perhaps, no English in some countries!
  11. Newspaper: Tom reads the StarTribune newspaper seven days a week from front to back, practically memorizing every word that he reads. He is my go-to person for local and world news updates.  I always joke that he reads the paper so thoroughly that he even reads the page numbers! No more paper, Tom!
  12. Working Out:  It’s highly unlikely there will be a health club within the three familiar miles I have traveled several times a week for many years. It appears there are no health clubs within an hour’s drive of many of our vacation rental homes. I guess I will start doing lunges and pushups at home.  No more health clubs!
Without a doubt, we will say “goodbye” to many of the familiar items and rituals we’ve enjoyed over the years.  But then, we’ll be saying “hello” over and over and over again!