Four days and counting…Disappointing error on my part…

We went to dinner in a town square at The Villages, Florida, every Friday and Saturday night. This was in June, 2023.

Today, I had almost finished the post, and somehow, most likely due to my hitting a delete key in error, the entire post was gone, and I had to rewrite the whole thing. I’m frustrated with myself. Here I am, starting again, trying to remember everything I wrote. I can’t recall the last time I did this, but this was not the first time.

Since writing posts is so spontaneous, which I often start without a topic in mind, it’s not easy to piece it together once again. I tried everything to find my trash in WordPress. It is nowhere to be found.

This morning, I continued packing, taking everything out of the cupboards in two of the three bedrooms. There are no drawers in the bedrooms of this house, and cupboards are often the only option in many holiday homes for storing clothes and other items. Using cupboards makes it challenging to find specific items and often makes a mess when digging through everything.

Few holiday homes have a chest or drawers or a dresser. That was something we loved about the well-equipped house in The Villages, in Florida, where we stayed last summer. That was the most well-equipped holiday home we’d rented in the past 11 years, and I think of it often for its ease of living.

We don’t expect owners of other holiday homes to go to the lengths that the Florida owner did to ensure we had every possible accouterment we could imagine. The only item I had to buy was a large stainless steel bowl, as mentioned in a prior post a few days ago. I left that bowl behind since it was too large to fit into a suitcase and carry on our travels.

I’m curious about what amenities we’ll find at the new location. Each time we enter a new holiday home, it’s of great interest to both of us to see what they have on hand. Most often, there’s almost everything we need. Since we stay for more extended periods than most travelers, there may be a few items we need to purchase.

Here in Mirador San Jose, we managed with everything on hand. However, there were no mixing bowls (other than one medium serving bowl), no grater, no can opener, no large stainer for washing vegetables, or an electric mixer, which comes in handy occasionally. Nonetheless, we managed quite well.

The bed pillows have black mold spots on their covers and were misshapen and uncomfortable. Luckily, I have my Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillow with two satin pillowcases. Tom slept well on the lumpy pillows. Enough about this place! We’re moving on in only four days.

Five days from now, I will sit in the living room in our new place, working on that day’s post for December 15 and getting ready to head to Costco to buy my new laptop and groceries. We’ll most likely be a little tired from the prior day’s long road trip and nine-hour flight, but we’ll be elated to be in our new home for the next 107 days.

Tom is cutting up the last watermelon in big chunks that he eats daily at lunch with ham and cheese rollups. We’ll finish most of the food and leave any extra unopened items for Maria when she cleans the house again after we leave on Thursday. Now, I’ll head to the kitchen to cut the large watermelon chunks into bite-sized pieces and be done prepping food for today.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 10, 2013:

We wrote a story about Vic’s Royal Kruger Lodge, and he invited us to dinner in his boma. The place settings for dinner were pleasing to the eye, and the food was excellent. For more, please click here.

The constant sound of the surf is soothing…The good, the bad, the ugly…

This is the little store located inside the gated community.

Wherever we are in this house, even at night when the aircon is on in the bedroom, we can hear the sound of the surf. It reminds me of my childhood in California and when I visited my aunt in Massachusetts, who lived across the road from the sea. The mystery and magic of the ocean is calming, and neither of us ever tire of the sounds.

This store reminds us of the little store where we shopped in Belize and Bali years ago.

In many ways, it is fine here. The house itself is comfortable, along with the bed and the furniture. When we stay in, a holiday home must have comfy sofas and chairs, and that’s not a problem here. Writing these comments made me realize that now would be a good time to share “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of what life is like in Mirador San Jose, especially for our readers who haven’t followed along daily.

On a positive note, let’s start with the “good.”

  1. Ocean frontage: Being situated on the ocean is always a huge perk for us, as mentioned above in the comments about the sounds of the surf. When the weather is nice, we can sit outdoors and enjoy the views and the sounds.
  2. The house is quite nice, although there’s some wear and tear from the salt air, which is typical and unavoidable for ocean-frontage properties.
  3. Safety: The gated community provides abundant security for the properties contained therein. The gate is managed 24/7, giving homeowners and visitors a sense of security and well-being.
  4. Restaurant: The only restaurant in the gated community is Kokomo, which is only open on Wednesdays from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.
  5. Little market: Although the little market located inside the gated community is only open on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, it has helped us avoid having to drive to Manta for groceries, which we will do on November 22, when we replace the rental car and go back to the cardiologist. We’ve managed to get by, but the inventory of foods I can eat is minimal.
  6. Raphael’s produce truck: He honks when he drives by on Tuesdays and Fridays with plenty of fresh organic produce from the farm. Prices are reasonable, and the selection is good.
  7. Locals are friendly: When we drive through the neighborhood, people are quick to wave, and on Wednesday nights at  Kokomo, we have felt welcomed.
  8. Washer and dryer: Having both of these appliances right off the living room has made doing laundry easy.
  9. Aircon on the main floor: Although it has rarely been hot enough to use the main floor aircon, we appreciate having this where we hang out most days. The ocean breezes cool the main floor. We use the aircon at night when we go to bed on the second floor.
  10. The owner is kind and responsive: This has always been important, especially when we have maintenance issues. Igor, the owner here, has been excellent, and we appreciate his prompt responses to our inquiries.
  11. Maria, the housekeeper on Tuesdays: Apparently, others in the neighborhood have also had Maria work for them. She does a thorough job at only $20 for three hours, and we couldn’t ask for more. We give her a tip each week.

    Quite a few bottled sauces, sauce mixes, and seasonings are used in Ecuadorian cooking.

Here is the “bad and the ugly:

  1. Distance to shopping: There are no supermarkets within an hour’s (to Manta) drive of this house. There are a few little markets, besides the small one here in Puerto Cayo, which is about a 25-minute drive, but when we checked them out, they had nothing we could use.
  2. Distance to restaurants: It’s also an hour’s drive to Manta to any restaurants where I could eat the food, and going out at night is foolhardy with dangers on the highway. There are numerous beachside dining establishments, but most use tap water in food prep and use grains, sugar, and starches in their dishes. We’ve yet to see a tourist stopping at these roadside stands.
  3. Power outages: We’d had our fill of load shedding in Marloth Park, but then Danie and Louise resolved that issue for us by installing a comprehensive inverter system that made outage unnoticeable to us other than being able to use the oven during load shedding. There is no such thing here, and when the power is out, there’s no WiFi either.
  4. No known socializing on any night other than Wednesdays at Kokomo.

    Tom was eyeballing some sweets but didn’t buy anything.

Since we arrived almost three weeks ago, we have been fine after many issues were resolved with the conscientious help of the owner, Igor. We are making the best of the above situations during our remaining time in Ecuador, less than two months from now.

Paper products, soaps, and cleaning supplies.

This morning, we headed over to the little store and purchased all the meat they had: two packages of ground beef, two packages of pork chops, and two packages of fish, which will get us through the next week, considering we’ll be eating out on Wednesday. At that point, it will only be two days until returning to Manta to try the MegaMaxi supermarket after the cardiologist appointment and the rental car exchange.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 13, 2013:

The Cave, a unique restaurant in Kenya, after the power went out and came back on promptly after the generators were started. For more photos, please click here.

Thoughtful update from reader/friend….Thanks, Bob!…What inspires expats to live in Ecuador…

On the few evenings when it hasn’t been cloudy, Tom has been able to take these sunset photos shown today.

Yesterday, we received the following email from reader/friend Bob, whom I’ve never met but who found our site on Tom’s Facebook page. He attended high school with Tom many moons ago. Bob has been a loyal and consistent reader for several years, and we certainly enjoy hearing from him now and then.

Bob either posts a comment on a particular post or sends us an email with questions or comments, all of which have been very kind and supportive of our world travels and lifestyle. Here is the message Bob sent yesterday, commenting about yesterday’s post found here.

I had written that I had no idea if the vegetables we’d purchased from Raphael’s truck were a good deal or not. With our intent to support local farmers and other local vendors, we weren’t worried about prices when we thought what we were purchasing was within a reasonable range of what we may have paid in the US. Plus, the produce is pesticide-free and organic, based on insects we’ve found on the products.

This shot looks somewhat like a question mark.

If, at any point, we feel a vendor is taking advantage of the fact that we’re foreigners, we’d either negotiate a better price or, in some cases, not purchase if we felt the item(s) were grossly overpriced. Most recently, when we stayed in the US for several months off and on, we didn’t go grocery shopping and had no idea how much prices had increased with recent inflation.

While in Florida for three months, from the end of April until July, we had groceries delivered From Kroger, when there is a possibility prices were slightly higher for delivered groceries. So again, our knowledge of prices wasn’t necessarily accurate.

When Bob wrote yesterday, he so kindly did the research for us, taking our list of items we purchased from Raphael’s truck to his local market, Cub, as described in his message below:

“I read your blog today, and since I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, I went shopping today. I went to Cub Foods.
I did a price shop for you.

Watermelon $5.99
Broccoli. Head $3.99
Whole cabbage $2.25
Med zucchini  $2.79 
Carrots $1.25 lb
Med Avocado $.77 ea (x 3)
Strawberries $3.99 lb on sale
So you got “fresh from the farm” for half what it was at Cub today.
I was thrilled to see this information from Bob. How thoughtful of him to take the time to check these prices and report back to us. Thanks, Bob! You inspired today’s post with this information and gave us peace of mind, knowing we weren’t overpaying, although in this case, for the convenience of Raphael showing up twice a week at our door, we may have been willing to pay more than US listed prices. Apparently, we did not overpay when Bob explained we spent about half of the current US prices.
Another stunning view.
Considering we’re currently buying food from Raphael and the little market in the gated community, we are only spending about half for groceries of what we’d have paid in the US or many other countries. When we return to Manta on November 22 to exchange the rental car and for my second cardiology appointment, we will grocery shop at a big market and have a better idea of prices in Ecuador.
Over the years, we’ve heard many expats have moved to Ecuador due to the low cost of living, including housing, products, and services. Most residents living in Mirador San Jose are French Canadians who chose to retire here, partly due to the lower cost of living here than in Canada.
The rays streaming down from the horizon are enchanting.
We’ve yet to discover the prices of the houses in this beachside neighborhood. Surely, we’ll hear about that and report back here. However, I found this one listing of a home currently on the market for $189,900s, not directly on the ocean as the holiday house we are renting. See here for details.
Also, here is a link for an oceanfront vacant lot for sale in Mirador, San Jose, priced at $34,000.
That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 12, 2013:

These huge pods have continued to dry out on a tree in the garden in Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

This is my reality…Hopefully dining out tonight at Kokomo….

A pelican on the hunt for food. Notice the fish he’s already caught.

Note: Sorry, there aren’t any new photos today. Here are a few from Galapagos, only weeks ago.

The weeks are starting to fly by. We make the best of it while enjoying good meals with available food items. Going out to dinner every Wednesday night at Kokomo has certainly added to our enjoyment. And with the suggestions from some of our readers, particularly Marylin, we are streaming some good shows. More suggestions are welcome for newer shows. We watched all the older shows in lockdown in India in a hotel for ten months.

We listen to many podcasts on various topics and services during the day, which helps as background noise. Even while preparing a post, I can pay attention to the majority of a podcast. It’s great entertainment. No, there aren’t any easy-to-access drive-by sites to visit from here, although we looked at every possible tourist venue within a two-hour drive.

Locals have told us not to drive the highway at night in the dark. Like many other countries, crimes are committed on the highways at night. We decided long ago not to go in the dark on the N4 from the airport in Nelspruit, South Africa, to Marloth Park. We were warned about this by many residents in Marloth Park, and now, the same warning is here in Ecuador.

A stork in Galapagos.

So here is my reality, which I write with considerable angst and frustration. I had to stop the walking schedule for now. It was causing me to be in Afib constantly and only stopped at night two hours after I took the single 100 mg. dose of Flecainide but started up again 12 hours later, shortly after I awoke.

Today, I am not walking any more steps than I must. In desperation, I took a second dose of the drug a few minutes ago, which worked for me about ten days ago for several days, but I knew I’d run out if I took two a day until I could get more. We visited three pharmacies, and none of them carried this antiarrhythmic drug. After considerable online research, it appears this drug isn’t available in Ecuador.

My only option is to see a cardiologist in Manta to help figure out what I need. With this much Afib, I may also require a blood thinner to prevent strokes. I don’t like taking so much medication, especially those with awful side effects. But, right now, I feel I have no choice at this location. This constant Afib has to stop.

Today, we have an appointment with a highly-reviewed cardiologist in Manta at 3:00 pm. We’ll leave here at 1:15 pm to ensure we arrive on time. They don’t speak English but communicate with me via WhatsApp, using its translator. I tried calling their phone number, but when no English was spoken, they immediately sent me a WhatsApp request, inquiring how they could help and how soon we needed an appointment.

A fur seal in the Galapagos.

Based on my racing heart, when they suggested 3:00 pm today, I was all over it. We don’t like going so late in the day, but we’re not being picky about the time at this point.

As mentioned above, I will not do the walking schedule today. I will ask the doctor if the walking schedule is OK during my appointment and go from there. I will report back tomorrow as to what transpires today.

We need groceries but won’t have time to shop after the appointment. We must figure something out from here until we return the car to Manta two weeks from today.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 8, 2013:

After days of rain last night, this ugly thing came for a visit only inches from Tom’s bare feet. We’d always heard that insects with red coloration indicated it is poisonous. This millipede is toxic to insects that it consumes, only leaving an itchy streak on a human if it walks over bare skin. No thanks. Tom picked it up with the dustpan and brush, tossing it well into the yard. For more photos, please click here.

It’s the simple things that give us joy!…Yesterday’s event was a perfect example…A new plan…

Raphael, our new vegetable guy. We were thrilled to meet him and buy his fresh produce. Check out that smile!

When we heard that a vegetable guy drives around the neighborhood every Tuesday, we kept the front door open all day, hoping we wouldn’t miss his honking. All we knew was that he could appear anywhere from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or…not appear.

At 5:30 pm, we heard a horn honking while I was upstairs changing, and Tom couldn’t move fast enough to try to explain to Raphael, who speaks no English, to wait a minute or two until I could come downstairs, put on my shoes and head out the door. I hadn’t moved that fast in a long time.

Once outside, I squealed with delight when I saw all the fresh-from-the-farm vegetables. I had to remember what we couldn’t eat that wouldn’t be cooked, but since we won’t be eating anything that may have been washed in the bad water here. It’s too risky. I did buy some carrots that I will parboil for a few minutes and then refrigerate, hoping they will be okay to snack on from time to time.

His truck was packed with produce in a somewhat disorganized manner, but we didn’t care.

With my way of eating, I avoid carrots, but while here, I am a little more lenient, and Tom likes to snack on carrots occasionally. We had been talking about how wonderful it would have been this past week if we’d been able to have green beans or broccoli. Tom won’t eat the cauliflower. It’s a favorite of mine due to its low-carb content.

As we use each item, I will wash it with bottled water and then cook it to ensure any bacteria is killed, perhaps a little longer than usual. Soon, I will cook the cauliflower for breakfast to have with a few hard-boiled eggs. Tom hasn’t been wanting breakfast lately. Instead, he’s been having toast and jelly each morning with his coffee, which seems to hold him all day.

After we purchased all the vegetables from Raphael, we managed to explain to him to come by every Tuesday so we could buy more. None of these vegetables were available in the grocery store except for the onions. Next time we go to Manta in three weeks, we’ll find a different market, hopefully with more options, but we will continue to buy produce from Raphael.

His truck was packed with a wide array of vegetables, many we don’t eat. However, we were able to find those we do eat and that are non-starchy.

We enthusiastically thanked Raphael, shaking his hand, and he seemed genuinely pleased to have provided his farm goods for us. I don’t think the price was a bargain, but at this point, there was no way we’d negotiate. After all, we only spent $8 and were happy to do so.

Once back inside with the vegetables, I found myself back in Afib. The result of moving so fast to get dressed, going down the steps from the bedroom, and putting on my shoes was enough activity to send me into a full-blown Afib event. Although my pulse never got over 103 beats per minute, I could feel the awful flutter in my chest that lasted for a few hours.

Resting and deep breathing after eating a light dinner, and eventually, it settled down. One can get Afib without a fast heartbeat. I wasn’t due to take the drug until 9:30 pm, so I waited patiently and calmly. I am not freaking out each time, as I had previously. We watched a few shows, but my mind was spinning on how much I needed to get some exercise. I have been sitting a lot over the past several months since this started again.

We’ll go through this batch in no time and look forward to Raphael’s return next Tuesday.

Today, I started a new, very slow, and easy exercise routine. Every 15 minutes, I stand up from the sofa or chair and step in place, vigorously swinging my arms for a step count of 25, not much but a beginning. Each day, I will increase the number of steps. In the interim, I test my heart every few hours to ensure I haven’t gone into Afib.

Doing this is a massive commitment since I plan to do it for 10 hours daily. This should contribute to improved cardiac health and potentially, eventually, improve the Afib. Also, I have set a goal to lose ten pounds, which I have carried for the past few years. I want to accomplish this before we leave here in 68 days, which is less than 1½ pounds a week. Losing even 10 pounds can significantly improve Afib.

I must thank Gary, one of our readers who said I should take advantage of the time here and get fit. I agreed with him but questioned if I could exercise with the problems with my legs and the Afib. Today is only Day 1, but those 68 days will pass anyway. Why not use them to improve my health?

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 1, 2013:

No, I didn’t edit the mouth on this camel, which appeared to be laughing. For more photos, please click here.

Life goes on and with it, a more positive attitude…Photos from the neighborhood…

This is Kokomo Restaurant in Mirador San Jose, which wasn’t open when we stopped by for dinner last night;

Gee…sorry we’re been so negative lately. We always promised to “tell it like it is,” which we’ve done, but we know we’ve been sounding negative. From here, we’re doing everything we can to be more upbeat and make the best of our situation wherever we may be. This was just a bump in the road.

Most of the houses in the gated community are boxes with flat roofs used as observation decks.

Last night, we showered and dressed to go out to dinner. We’d heard from Gilles, the grocery store owner, that the local restaurant Kokomo is open on Wednesday and Saturday nights. We knew they closed at 8:00 pm, so we arrived at 5:30, thinking they’d open the bar and restaurant. Nope.

There wasn’t a soul in sight, and when we peered in the windows, it didn’t appear that the restaurant would be open anytime soon. The chairs were askew, the floor was dirty, and it didn’t look as if it had been open for a very long time. We hopped back in the car and headed back to our holiday home.

Most of the houses in the gated community are boxes with flat roofs used as observation decks.

We hadn’t defrosted anything for dinner. However, we always have onion, mushroom, and cheese omelets or scrambled eggs as a backup plan. In no time at all, we were seated at the island in the kitchen, eating our breakfast-type dinner and watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen on my laptop with the portable Bluetooth speaker so Tom could hear.

Check out the exterior staircase on this house.

In the evening, we use our HDMI cord hooked up to the TV to watch a few streamed shows before heading to bed. By 11:00 pm, we were both sound asleep and slept well. I never woke up once during the night, which was wonderful. By 6:30 am, Tom was up and dressed, and an hour later, I had done the same.

It’s somewhat of a bright color for a house.

Right away, we got busy prepping tonight’s dinner, a cheesy hamburger mushroom bake that we both love. It would be nice to have green beans or broccoli with this dish, but none were to be found anywhere we shopped. It looks like I am mainly eating carnivore right now (except for garlic, mushrooms, and onions), which I don’t mind, and Tom would be also if it weren’t for adding rice to his dinner. It won’t hurt either of us to eat this way while we’re here.

Scenery at the edge of the gated community.

By the time we get to our next location, destination unknown at this time, we’ll be chomping at the bit for some veggies and salad and some restaurants where we can socialize and dine. For now, we’re managing with what’s available here. As a reader reminded us when we were whinging over the past several days, we have each other, and that in itself is everything. So true. Our best times are spent with just the two of us, entertaining ourselves and having fun.

We especially liked this house since it was wood, not stucco, and was more appealing.

We haven’t purchased any alcohol while here. Right now, I am avoiding wine entirely while getting used to the Afib medication, and Tom doesn’t care to drink when we aren’t socializing. This is no big deal to either of us, although I am looking forward to a glass of wine in the future when the time is right.

Many unfinished construction sites have been left unattended, most likely due to the owners running out of funds to complete it.

During the day, we often listen to podcasts, including Garage Logic in Minnesota and a variety of others. It’s been cloudy and rainy most days, so we haven’t tried the pool yet. When it warms up, we will.

We’re looking forward to that time.

There are a few single-story houses in the gated community, but not many. Most of the houses appear to be unoccupied, but it’s hard to tell.

Today is a quiet day. We aren’t going out today except to sit outside when the sun sets around 6:00 pm, hoping to take a few photos. Have a pleasant Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 29, 2013:

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window while we stayed at a resort in Kenya for our travel anniversary. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. They have become used to humans at the resort. For more, please click here.

Trying to settle in and adapt…

Look carefully at this photo of the gizzards and livers inside the two chickens. Notice the two chicken heads, one with eyes open. Oh, dear. We’d never made a chicken with heads and feet included, but I guess the Ecuadorian people use everything.

Note: Right now, with things getting done around the house and us getting organized, I haven’t taken any photos yet but will do so soon. Thanks for your patience.

As each day passes, we get a little more settled in. I’ve unpacked everything I need to use while here and left the remainder in the bags sitting open on the beds in both guest rooms. When it’s time to go, it will be easy to pack. Tom has done the same, only wearing a few different shirts and pants.

We haven’t been able to use the pool yet since it’s been cloudy and rainy. But once the sun appears, we certainly will. Start using it. The pool guy has been here twice since we arrived, and it looks cool and refreshing. It’s been warm and humid most days, and we’ve certainly used the aircon in the bedroom at night and the living room. We are conscientious about turning it off when we leave the room or go out and about.

Yesterday, the little store here in the gated community was open. It’s only open Monday, Thursday, and Friday, so we jumped in the car and stopped there to see about buying jugs of bottled water and to check out their inventory. We purchased a one-pound filet mignon that would be enough for one meal, a giant jug of water, and a few odds and ends. A small box of Kleenex was $4.50. The filet was $10, and the big 19-liter water jug was $1.40.

The owner of the store, Gilles, from Ontario, Canada now, after eight years living here, has a strong Spanish accent but speaks English, and we were able to ask him many questions about the area. He was very kind, and indeed, we’ll continue to stop there for eggs, water, and possibly meat since he has a small inventory.

Anything to avoid making that long drive to Manta for groceries, including the difficulty finding a parking spot and the commotion in the market. We were able to purchase most of the items we needed and may never be able to find them here. We’ll continue to stop at the little markets we encounter.

It was wonderful having a nice dinner last night. Without vegetables, I ate just the chicken. Tom had chicken and rice. When we head to Puerto Cayo in the next few days, we’ll look for the farm stand I read about online in the famous expat town. There’s no significant market there, but perhaps we can find a few things we’d like, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.

I have four avocadoes sitting on the kitchen window sill to ripen, but it could be a week before they are ready to eat. A half of a sliced avo is an excellent addition to any meal for me. Tom, not so much. I don’t enjoy just eating meat and no sides, and Tom always enjoys rice on the side.

Last night, we enjoyed speaking to our friends, Kathy and Don, in Hawaii. We are planning to meet up in Marloth Park next year. They have been such wonderful friends, as have many others, and we always feel blessed for our friends and family members. It was great spending so much time with everyone in Nevada and Minnesota.

Now that we’re in the same time zone as Minnesota, we’ll easily be able to talk to family members anytime. What a treat that is!

As for the house, we don’t have any hot water. I reported this to Igor, the property owner, and hope to hear back soon. It’s been challenging taking showers and doing dishes in cold water. We are still waiting for the WiFi solution for the upper level. We gave up trying to get the electric kettle to work, and I am using a small pot to boil water for my decaf coffee and tea. Adaptation always prevails. But, the cold showers and dishwater aren’t something we feel we can adapt to.

I still have Afib. Even taking the potent drug. In the next few days, we’ll head to a pharmacy to buy more of the drug in case I need to up the dose. At this point, I am at a moderate dose with an option to increase the dose if necessary. It makes me feel shaky and out of sorts, but it’s what I have to do now during this period. It was prescribed for me last April when I was in hospital for Afib, but I’d never taken it until now when I had fewer symptoms.

It is estimated that the prevalence of Afib in the US ranges from 2.7 million to 6.1 million. This number is expected to rise to 12.1 million by 2030. It’s become more prevalent since people have discovered it using their fitness watches when they get an alert on their device that it detects Afib. My Fitbit does this, but I can feel it when my sinus rhythm is abnormal. Some people don’t feel any symptoms at all. I am not unique with these symptoms, but I’d like to learn how to manage it better.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic Friday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today. October 27, 2013:

This photo was taken at Tom’s retirement party on October 27, 2012. At this point, we only used our smartphones to take photos. Little did we know then how much would change, how much we would change, how important clear photos would mean, and how much we had ahead of us. How does one unload their entire lives and travel the world for years to come? Now we know. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back in Quito…Good to be back on land, but again we’re high in altitude…Whew!…Wrapping up The Galapagos photos…

Giant tortoises at Isabela Island Breeding Center.

Note: our naturalist, Orlando, took all of today’s photos, which he sent to me each day via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando, for thinking of me!

The two-hour flight from Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, was almost a full-day journey. We disembarked the ship at 11:30 am and didn’t arrive at the JW Marriott Hotel in Quito until after 5:30 pm. We collected our stored luggage from the bellman and headed to a different room than we’d had over a week ago when we stayed here two nights before the cruise.

Tom was looking into the mailbox at Post Office Bay, where he found a postcard left by a visitor from South Africa, which he took, and we’ll ensure they receive it once we return to Marloth Park.

The only flight we could get to Manta was on Monday, so this time, we’ll spend another two nights at this high altitude. So far today, 18 hours after our arrival, we’re holding up OK in the 9350′ altitude. Our legs feel like lead when we walk, and my heart rate is 10 to 15 beats faster per minute than at sea level. The heart compensates for lack of oxygen at high elevations, and thus, one’s heart rate may increase until adapted two to three days after arrival. We will only be here for two days and won’t be adapted by then.

Tortoise heading out to sea.

But, in one way, the altitude right now is more tolerable than the seasickness we suffered on the ship, a 98′ long catamaran with eight passenger cabins for 16 guests. Feeling nauseous is worse than feeling out of breath and tired. I look forward to returning to sea level by tomorrow night after our 50-minute flight to Manta, leaving Quito at 7:25 pm.

Another green tortoise was heading out to sea.

Once in our room, we unpacked what we needed for the night and this morning and didn’t bother to unpack anything more. We never unpacked while on the cruise, making packing much easier when it was time to go, as will be the case here. When we were in lockdown in India in the Marriott Hotel for ten months, we never unpacked there either. We pulled out the three outfits we wore repeatedly and never touched anything.

A sea lion at the beach.

While staying in Nevada and Minnesota in the past few months, we never unpacked in either hotel. With 11 years of travel experience, we’ve gotten pretty good at “living out of a suitcase.” However, when we arrive in Ecuador for 79 days, we’ll unpack and wash everything since we’ll have a washer and a dryer. How unusual!

Sea turtles mating.

After we got situated in our room, we rested for a few minutes, never napping. At 7:30, we headed downstairs for dinner in the Botanica Restaurant, which cost was included in our cruise, along with this morning’s and tomorrow morning’s breakfast. Our hotel for the two nights was also included. But we’re on our own for dinner tonight.

A blue heron.

Most likely, after having a big breakfast, Tom won’t be hungry by dinner, so we’ll head down to Fogo De Chao, where, once again, I’ll have their salad bar with a vast array of foods I can eat. There’s no way I could eat the classic meats served tableside that they are known for. It’s just too much food.

A blue-footed booby and an iguana.

We have no plans for the next day and a half. We’ll have to sit in the lobby tomorrow afternoon when checkout is noon. But it’s more comfortable to sit in the lobby than get comfortable in the room. We could get a late checkout as VIP members with Expedia on our site here. But those few extra hours in the room make no difference to us.

Hood or espanola mockingbird, the largest on the island.

In 48 hours, we’ll be at our holiday home in Mirador, San Jose. I found a nearby market online, so we can bring our bags into the house and head to the market to shop. That’s quite fun for us since we love being able to check out local foods befitting our way of eating. Plus, we’ll need to stock up on bottled water since the tap water in Ecuador is not potable.

Floreana daisy.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Galapagos photos and Tom’s adventures. No doubt it would have been a lot more fun for him if we’d been able to experience the excursions together. In the future, we’ll keep this new adaptation in mind when we are booking plans for the future.

A yellow warbler.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 22, 2013:

Due to a WiFi issue, we cannot post a photo from ten years ago. For the story, please click here.

We’re off to South America today!…An unexpected surprise from an old friend…

Tom’s old friend Jerry, from his railroad days, stopped by to celebrate our departure, bearing gifts and good humor. Thanks, Jerry! How thoughtful you are!

We’re packed and ready to go. We just returned from breakfast, each eating a little more to hold us until we can eat again. I may not eat again for 24 hours when airplane food never works for me, and there’s too little time between the two flights to stop for a meal.

We have a 1-hour, 9-minute layover in Houston after the four-hour flight from Minneapolis and then another 5-hour flight to Quito, Ecuador, much shorter than most of our flights. We don’t arrive until 11:35 pm, the same time zone as Minnesota. The cruise line has arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport to take us to our hotel, JW Marriott. Hopefully, we’ll handle the altitude relatively easily and get a good night’s sleep.

We’ve already started drinking a lot of water, which is recommended to reduce altitude sickness at Quito’s 9350 ft. We have no idea how we’ll react to this, but time will tell.

Me and Tom are in the hotel lobby celebrating with Jerry.

Yesterday early evening, after the dreadful Minnesota Twins playoff baseball game loss, we ordered takeaway from Pizza Luce since we no longer have a rental car, which we returned on October 9, when the 30-day contract ended. When we were getting ready to pick up the food, our hotel room phone rang, and it was Tom’s old friend from the railroad, Jerry.

Our room was too messy to invite Jerry, so we met him downstairs in the lobby. We were shocked and in awe of everything Jerry had brought for us to celebrate our departure under the guise of our mutual “un-birthdays.” He had hilarious stuffed animals, decorations, a plate of delicious bars, zip drives with books, a cap for Tom, an adorable card, and more.

We couldn’t believe his thoughtfulness and generosity to come all this way to make us both feel so special before departing for South America. We kept the bars, the zip drives, and the cap and suggested Jerry keep the decorations for his next celebration for another recipient.

When it was time for all of us to go, we hugged Jerry goodbye, thanking him repeatedly for thinking of us and being so kind and generous. He’s been a regular reader of our site for years and seems to know everywhere we’ve been and everything we’ve done. It’s always fun to meet with people who’ve been following us for some time.

Jerry’s partner, Dot, made these delicious brownies and caramel bars. Tom said they were delicious. We wrapped up the balance and brought them with us so Tom could snack on the journey to Quito.

So, soon, in about an hour, we’ll take off for the airport. We’ll get the cart to bring our bags down to the lobby and then call Uber to take us to the Airport. Tom always likes to go much earlier than we need to, but I go along to avoid him feeling stressed. Yes, we should arrive two hours earlier for international flights, when we must go through immigration and the lengthy line at US security.

It takes much longer to go through security at US airports than in other countries, but we follow the flow and keep a good attitude. There’s no point in making a fuss about waiting in a queue. Thank goodness I am over 75 years old and no longer have to take my shoes off when going through security. Duh, a small perk for being this old.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We will be back tomorrow, hopefully feeling well and adapting to the altitude in the same manner as we adapt to most travel situations. We shall see.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 11, 2013:

Early in the morning in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, we spotted this mother warthog nudging her babies along. We squealed with delight along with them as they scurried along. Anderson stopped the vehicle so we could watch as we noted a few lions in wait in the direction of the little pigs, hoping they’d be lunch. For the full story, please click here.

Three days and counting…South America, here we come!…

Like all animals in the wild, this female lion is constantly looking for the next meal to feed her cubs. This photo is from ten years ago today, while on safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya.

In a few days, we’ll start packing, which won’t take much time. We’ve replaced many of our old clothes with new clothes. We donated our old clothes in good condition to Goodwill. All we have now are the folded items in the few drawers in our room and hanging in the closet. If we had to, we could pack in a couple of hours.

On Tuesday, we’ll start the process and be done by the end of the day. We’ve made no plans for Monday and Tuesday other than dinner and trivia at Pizza Luce with Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent, our final time together. And TJ will stop by here tomorrow afternoon to say goodbye. Today, we’re visiting Greg and the kids to watch the Minnesota Vikings football game.

Madighan and I will most likely work on our crocheting project during the game. After the game ends, Greg and his lovely girlfriend Heather, and grandchildren Madighan, and Miles will join us for dinner, most likely at a nearby Mexican restaurant they all like.

We don’t have a lot of expectations about the Vikings game. They’ve only won one game out of four. But it’s always fun to watch with hopefulness and enthusiasm that perhaps they may win. That’s how sports viewing works, anyway. It’s almost like fishing…the anticipation is nearly as exciting as the potential win.

Yesterday afternoon, we watched the Minnesota Twins playoff game, but sadly, they lost. However, they still have more games to play to see if they can progress in the playoffs for the remote possibility of making it to the World Series. It isn’t very likely, but it is worth dreaming about.

This morning, we bolted out of bed after a good night’s sleep, showered and dressed for the day, and headed downstairs to breakfast. We put together our plates of eggs and sausage and poured our coffee, hauling it back to our room on the fourth floor. We wanted to watch CBS’s Sunday Morning show one last time.

We’ve spent 4½ of the past six months in the US, including the three months we spent in Florida, and now, when we leave for South America, it could be quite a while before we return, especially when we’re heading back to Africa in eight months, for an undetermined amount of time. It’s one of those “play it by ear” situations.

We hope to stay in South Africa for at least six months, leaving after 90 days for a new 90-day visa stamp to perhaps head back to the Maasai Mara, Kenya, which we’d like to do again over ten years later. We have such unforgettable memories of that time in 2013. Maybe it won’t be quite as exciting after all the safaris we’ve done, but we expect that we’ll very much enjoy it.

Besides the above, we don’t have any plans as we prepare to leave on Wednesday. Our flight to Quito begins at 2:02 pm. We’ll most likely arrive at the airport around 11:30 am to drop off the rental car and begin waiting to board the United Airlines flight.

We’ll arrive in Quito at 11:35 pm. Celebrity Cruise Line has arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport and bring us to the hotel, all a part of our Galapagos cruise package. Hopefully, we won’t have any issues with the altitude and can get settled in our hotel room for a good night’s sleep.

There are some walking tours of Quito arranged during the days at the hotel, but our participation will be determined by how we’re doing with the altitude and if I can walk the distances. Again, we can only “play it by ear.”

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope all of you are enjoying your weekend.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 8, 2013:

Tom nudged me in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, to turn around when I had the camera pointed in the opposite direction. I gasped when I saw this, a gift from the heavens. Thank you, Kenya. For more photos, please click here.