Shopping malls throughout the world….Final photos from Managua Nicaragua…

The adorable costumed girl waved when she spotted us with a camera at the Metrocentre Mall in Managua, Nicaragua.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Sun setting behind the mountain

We’ve learned a lot visiting shopping malls throughout the world.  Neither of us cares to shop. In our old lives, I couldn’t drag Tom to a mall for anything. Now that shopping is generally off our radar, he seems to find it interesting from a cultural basis.

The Metrocentre Mall in Managua is a popular destination for tourists.  It was located across the street from our hotel and a convenient spot to tour. We didn’t buy a thing.

What are we looking for?  It’s fascinating to see products and pricing in each country and shopping to purchase the various items. Often, we find what may be local middle-income shoppers and a wide array of tourists from all over the world.

These smaller stoves are found in many vacation homes throughout the world.

In our travels, we’ve discovered that tourists love shopping. Many have a mentality that shopping is one of the motivators for visiting certain parts of the world, especially those known for great bargains.

Prices are high in electronics stores in Nicaragua and Costa Rica instead of what we’ve paid for such items in the US.

A faction of tourists isn’t aware (or perhaps they are aware) that many products sold at tourist shopping venues are often “knock-offs,” which may or may not be quality versions of the pricier originals. But, even these are snapped up by tourists. Locals are seldom seen making purchases at knock-off shops.

We giggled when we enter the store, “As Seen on TV.”  I guess Costa Rica isn’t that far away after all.

We’ve often noticed cruise passengers disembarking the ship at various ports of call, wheeling empty suitcases ready to be filled with locally designed and made wares, trinkets, clothing, and art. 

Here are a few of our links to shopping in a few countries:

3/6/14  Shopping in the souks in Marrakech Morocco Shopping malls in Paris

7/21/15  Shopping mall in Trinity Beach Australia

Years ago, when we occasionally traveled, I suppose I wasn’t much different than other tourists. It was fun to purchase gifts for family and friends and odds and end clothing and household items for myself. Tom would have nothing to do with any of it.
A tall Christmas tree was being decorated in the mall.

When we decided to travel the world in 2012, we explained to our family members that we wouldn’t be purchasing trinkets for them or our grandchildren that we discovered throughout the world. None of our adult children had room in their homes for useless decorative items. Nor did we want our children purchasing gifts for us at Christmas and our birthdays.

This store was packed with Halloween products.  We were there on October 29th with only two days to go for the big event.

Thus, we mutually agreed we’d only buy gifts for our six grandchildren, all purchased and shipped in the US. Our grandchildren especially enjoy gift cards to be able to buy digital equipment and games. As they get older (the eldest is 17), gift cards are the only sensible purchase.

Visitors standing in a long queue to get into the Western Union store.  Inside the store, dozens were seated in chairs awaiting their turn.

Since we’ve recently replaced all of our clothing while in the US this past summer and recently purchased all of the required attire for Antarctica from Amazon, we’re set until we return to the US for a visit in 2019.

The mall has two primary levels, which included a movie theatre.

When we return to the US, we’ll replace any worn items. In the interim, we have enough to last until that time.  We’re very cautious in laundering clothing to ensure nothing is ruined or shrunk in the wash. We prefer to hang many items outdoors to dry and, in most vacation homes throughout the world. We seldom have a clothes dryer.

This is a robot-type ride for kids.  Note the popular global clothing store in the background, originating from Italy.

Wandering through the Metrocentre Mall in Nicaragua was reminiscent of malls in the US with many familiar store brands, kiosks, and food courts. Although these types of malls are less attractive to us than the shopping areas in remote parts of the world, it’s always interesting to peruse the products offered in other countries.

We stopped to drool over baked goods, purchasing none.

As for grasping the pricing, as soon as we arrive in any country, we quickly learn the foreign exchange rate in comparison to US dollars, allowing us to make sensible decisions when grocery shopping or making any other types of purchases. 

Several small Halloween kiosks were set up for kids.

This morning we were both up and out of bed by 5:30 am. I’ve already made most of tonight’s dinner, one of our favorites, Low Carb Chicken Pot Pie. Over these past weeks, we’ve made a point of cooking our favorites when we know we won’t be cooking for 80 days once we leave Costa Rica in 15 days. 

Wow! The departure date is coming up quickly. We’re savoring every moment in Atenas, Costa Rica.

May you savor your day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2016:

Our ship docked in Darwin, Australia, for the day. Here is the downtown area of Darwin with office buildings, restaurants, and shopping. For more details, please click here.

Shopping done… Not always easy from afar… The big balance is now due for the Antarctica cruise…Ouch!

*Please see our comments below as to these included photos.

Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Museum in Atenas.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This pudgy blue and gray bird was the first sighting for us.  This may be a Blue-Gray Tanager. 

The online shopping hasn’t been easy.  Some items weren’t available in correct colors and sizes. Tom ordered an item and received an email stating it had been shipped and only moments later, received a second email stating it wasn’t available in his preferred color.  We contacted Amazon requesting further information.

I ordered a few items and received a message stating the package was lost in the mail and I had to reorder elsewhere. The multiple items don’t arrive in one package.  Often there are many packages arriving over a series of days.

Railway photos from decades past.

One has to be careful items aren’t shipped from China or other international locations which may take weeks, if not months, to arrive.  Shopping online requires checking and re-checking.  We’ve each ordered at least a dozen items.  It can be tricky.

We’re hoping everything will arrive before November 12th when we’ll have the package shipped to the hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  Timing is everything in this case. 

If any item is missing, we’d have to purchase it in Buenos Aires during our one month stay prior to the cruise.  We don’t want this hanging over our heads during a time we’ll prefer to be sightseeing and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of this big city.

Various paper money over the years.

Yesterday, I made our doctor appointments for complete physical exams by November 2nd, a few days after we return from Nicaragua.  Ponant, the cruise line, requires several medical forms be completed and sent to them between 45 and 90 days prior to the cruise. 

This is to ensure passengers are in sufficiently good health to embark upon this expedition cruise.  There will be a doctor-on-board but based on the location, deep in Antarctica, emergency evacuation isn’t possible.  Of course, having such an exam is by no means a guaranty a passenger won’t have a medical emergency, as we so well know. 

Telegraph machine.

Apparently, the local doctor we chose speaks English so we’ll be readily able to explain what we need and provide a medical history as required with her signature.  Doctor Candy is highly regarded in Atenas and we anticipate this process will go smoothly.

Speaking of this cruise, the final payment is due on Monday, October 16th.  This morning I wrote to our rep at Vacations to Go as to which credit card to use for the balance of US $13,875 (CRC 7,964,736). 

We’re relieved we’d already paid US $20,625 (CRC 11839472) over this past year toward the grand total of US $34,500 (CRC 19,804,208) fare for the two of us.  We’ve never paid so much for any cruise or venue of any type.  This is a huge chunk out of our budget.

Old photos of the train station.

This was one of those items on our preferred locations list to visit as we travel the world.  This seemed to be one of those items one must accomplish “sooner, rather than later” when medical issues might prohibit such an expedition, especially in getting off the ship onto the Zodiak boats to spend two to three hours standing outdoors in the cold on an island or ice floe.  This may not be possible for the average 80-year-old.

One additional motivator (among many others) in deciding to return to Africa after this cruise is to “lick our wounds” to recover this huge expense when the cost of living is much less in Africa than in many other parts of the world.  Then again, there are those amazing animals, those amazing friends we left behind and an endless array of unique experiences awaiting us.

The train was a big point of interest for the community.

During our remaining time in Costa Rica, as we’ve done so far, is to maintain as tight a budget as possible.  No more rental cars, no more tours or outings requiring an outlay of cash. 

Its only with this careful planning and budgeting that we can and will continue on these adventures which ultimately require some sacrifices along the way.  It’s not as if we can stay “home” and save for a big trip.  We have to do it as we go wherever we may be at any given time. 

Going forward over these next 41 days, until we finally leave Costa Rica, our belts are tightened.  As a result, we won’t be getting out much over these next weeks, other than the round trip to Managua Nicaragua on October 28th staying for two nights.  Of course, we’ll continue to make weekly trips to Atenas for shopping and taking photos.

Juan Ramon was thrilled to show us old photos.

*Subsequently, over these next six weeks we’ll be posting photos we’ve already taken (no repeats, although they may be similar to photos we’d posted earlier) from our various sightseeing outings up to this point.  We apologize for this and hope you’ll continue on with us until once again we’re on our way to yet another cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires over 30-nights. 

We’ll be getting off the ship at every port and much to our delight going through the Panama Canal one more time.  Talk about new photos!  When the cruise ends in Buenos Aires we’ll be staying there for another 31-nights while awaiting the 16-night Antarctica cruise.  Surely, Buenos Aires will inspire many new photos of the fabulous city.

Please stay tuned.  There’s so much more on the horizon!  Happy day to all!


Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2016:

It was easy to spend lazy afternoons lounging on the cabana in Bali, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Is Tom procrastinating?…Shopping, his nemesis…

Pelican resting on a log on a pond at Zoo Ave, the bird sanctuary.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

It was pouring rain when I took this photo from the veranda.  These two little Tropical Kingbirds didn’t seem to mind the rain.

There’s never been a time where I’ve seen Tom enjoying shopping, not in a store, not grocery shopping, and certainly not shopping online for clothing.  In most cases, I’ve purchased everything for him such as was the case when we replaced our entire wardrobes while we were in Minnesota.

We’ve known this daunting task of deciding on clothing for Antarctica was facing us and we’ve both procrastinated for some time.  Now, we’re down to the wire.
Spending only one night in a Fort Lauderdale Florida hotel on November 22nd, (US Thanksgiving eve), and the necessity of having of having everything arrive in one box, we’re having everything sent to our mailing service.

A police building in a small town on the mountain road.

Once it all arrives, the mailing service will pack it into one large box and ship it to the hotel with a plan for it to arrive about a week before our arrival, in the event of any mailing delays.  We’ll purchase insurance for the package and send it USP for a fast arrival. 

If anything does go wrong, we’ll have time to reorder everything to have it shipped to Buenos Aires where we’ll be for one month prior to the Antarctica cruise…backup plan in place.  We always have to consider contingencies when we’ve experienced plenty of shipping issues throughout the world over these past five years. 

Even some of the newer homes don’t have clothes dryers and hang their laundry outdoors. 

We both committed to getting the shopping done this week allowing plenty of time to receive it all in time.  None of the items required shipping fees.  The only shipping fees we’ll have to pay is for sending the box from Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale which will be a lot less than we’ve paid for international shipping.

Having added other supplies and products we’ll need for our year in Africa, this will be one large package of supplies.  We’re hoping to avoid having anything shipped to Africa if possible.  No matter how hard we’ve tried, it’s not possible for us to exist with products offered in many countries.

Many homes are small single story styles.

In Australia which is a shopping haven, we couldn’t find a replacement laptop for Tom suitable for his needs.  We ended up paying US $400 (CRC 229,814) for shipping fees for the laptop from the US to Australia.  

I’ve been using my laptop since January 2015.  It’s still working with only one issue with the touchscreen.  I can’t swipe from the right to the left to access the “networks” screen.  With an easy workaround, this hasn’t been a problem for me.

Gated villa in Roca Verde, our neighborhood.

Tom is worried, we’ll be in South Africa and my computer will crash and I’ll experience the same frustrating situation as when I dropped it and broke the screen in in January 2014.

Okee Dokee and I drove the long distance to Nelspruit to purchase another laptop.  It was a disaster when my only option was an inferior HP which proved to be a dud. 

Here’s the post from the date I dropped it and here’s the post from the date Okee Dokee and I drove to Nelspruit to find another.

Many homes located outside of the planned communities aren’t gated.

I certainly don’t want to go through that again. But, I hesitate to replace this laptop that is working so well for me at this point.  It’s a decision I’ll have to make within a week or two prior to the shipment being sent to Fort Lauderdale. 

At the moment, Tom is finishing his order on Amazon spending a little less than I did.  By the end of today, he too will have it completed and we can put one more task behind us.

Corn growing along the road.

With the sun shining this morning, we’re hoping to spend time by the pool.  Yesterday was sunny and warm during which we stayed in the pool until our fingers were wrinkled. 

As always we swam, we laughed, we talked, and we shared stories of our lives long before we knew one another. We’re so grateful for this unusual life we live and the ways in which we spend it together.  Life is good.

May your live be good as well.


Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2016:

In Bali, these smaller buffaloes than the scarier big males, present a huge task for these young boys as they walk them to the river and back.  For more photos, please click here.

Shopping online for Antarctica…Quite a challenge…

Ulysses dropped off these tangerines. Tom will eat them when they ripen.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom took this beautiful photo in the early morning as the moon was setting. Nice job!

It’s been nagging at us to get to work to purchase the clothing we’ll need for the upcoming Antarctica cruise.  These days, neither of us cares to shop especially considering we’re stuck with whatever we buy. Returning items that don’t fit isn’t an option due to our lifestyle.

On Friday, we talked on Skype to a lovely couple Tom had communicated with on CruiseCritic who’d already done a similar cruise. Al and his wife Donna gave us a list of everything we’d need for the many hours we’ll spend outdoors on the Zodiak boats and standing on ice floes and ice-covered islands.

A quiet side street in the center of town in Atenas.

They suggested the following items:

1.  Waterproof pants
2.  Waterproof gloves with liners
3.  Warm hat
4.  Gator (neck wrap)
5.  Warm socks
6.  Ski goggles
7.  Sweatshirts
8.  Sweaters
9.  Trekking poles 
10. Waterproof backpack
11. Long underwear

There are numerous one-way streets in town.

The cruise line provides a waterproof parka for all guests and boots sized upon boarding the ship. We can keep the parkas but return the boots at the end of the cruise.

We’ve decided to ship all the cold weather clothing back to our mailing service while we’re in Buenos Aires.  They’ll hold these items in our large box until we embark upon some adventures to the Arctic or other cold climates in years to come.

Kids are playing at the central park.

We were grateful for Al and Donna’s suggestions. They also mentioned long underwear, but instead, I’m purchasing a tall-sized pair of yoga pants to wear under the waterproof pants. This will keep me warm and be less bulky than wearing jeans underneath the pants. 

Tom never wore long underwear when working outdoors on the railroad for over 42 years, even when temperatures were as low as forty degrees below zero. Instead, he stayed comfortable with jeans on the bottom and sweatshirts and a jacket on the top. After all, we’re from Minnesota and know how to dress appropriately for cold weather.

As we walked through the park on a cloudy day.

The coldest periods in Antarctica will be the Zodiac boat rides out to the islands and ice floes due to the added wind chill factor from the fast-moving boats. However, once we’re situated, we should be comfortable when the temperature is typically in the “freezing” range, but not much less, based on the islands we’ll be visiting. (We’ve looked up each stop along to way to confirm this fact).

Over the past few days, I finally got to work making my purchases. Unfortunately, the only pair of women’s tall waterproof pants in my size (considering the bulk of the yoga pants underneath) was at Eddie Bauer at the cost of US $179 (CRC 102,853), much more than I wanted to spend. 

Grafitti on a wall on the way to town.

For the remainder of my items, I made most of my purchases at Amazon (here on our site at this link) with a few brand-new labeled items on eBay. So, besides the cost of the pants, I spent an additional US $250 (CRC 143,650) for a total of US $429 (CRC 246,504). 

Had I made the purchases through Ponant’s online shop, I’d easily have spent over US $1,200 (CRC 689,520).  The prices for the remaining items include all of the above-listed items except the poles and backpack (Tom is buying the backpack since we only need one) and the long underwear, which I replaced with yoga pants I’ll keep on hand and wear in the future.

More graffiti on the wall.

Today, as I write this, Tom clicks away on his computer and just purchased two much-needed dress shirts for the upcoming cruises. Once I’m done here, I’ll get to work with him to help him find his remaining items.

Hopefully, by the end of today, this task will be completed.  Once we receive the package with our clothing in Miami on November 22nd, we’ll take a photo of everything and post it here.

May your day be filled with accomplishments providing you with peace of mind. That’s what we’re striving for!

 Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2016:

In Bali, while on a walk, we encountered this cow. She said, “What are you looking at?” “Your beauty and charm,” we replied. She smiled, and we continued on our way. For more photos, please click here.

Five days until we’re off to Maui…Two days until Pearl Harbor tour…Shopping online…A year ago…Close up Lion photos…

We walk along the busy streets of Waikiki seeking shade from time to time.

We’re excited about moving to Maui, more than we anticipated. Without a car in Honolulu, unable to cook meals with no nearby grocery store and longing for more space to maneuver, we’re anticipating the six weeks in Maui with much enthusiasm.

This is the cutest store!  They custom make flip flops while the customer waits.

As we mentioned in several past posts, it will have been 77 days that we haven’t cooked a single meal.  Honestly, I’m chomping at the bit for some home cooking. Tom is also looking forward to our favorite meals, although he’ll be joining me in my usual restrictive diet. 

The Pualeilani Atrium Shops at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort.

We’ve learned to make fabulous dinners and the planning, grocery shopping and even putting the food away, are tasks that we both enjoy. Learning a new grocery store is not difficult. Usually, within a week or two, we’ll breeze through with ease finding all the items on our list.

Beautiful gardens and fountains at the Hyatt mall.

We’re especially intrigued by food prices in Hawaii wondering if, in fact, they’ll be as high as others have reported. Last night, we purchased a four-pack of toilet paper at a local ABC convenience store for $2.86 which didn’t seem higher than we often pay. Of course, once we shop in Maui next Thursday or Friday, we’ll certainly share the prices we discover. 

Entrance to the King’s Village Shopping Center in Waikiki.

Often, we’ve heard others say they’d love to live in Hawaii wondering if it’s possible with the higher cost of living. After all, it is rated with the most expensive cost of living than any other state in the US. We shall see how that rolls out for us over the next several months.

The clock tower at the King’s Village Shopping Center. Once inside this boutique type mall, we walked along with an upper-level hearing someone calling out to us. It was a couple we’d met on the slot pull on the most recent cruise, dining in a sidewalk café in the mall. We sat with them for quite a while engaged in an interesting conversation.

On Monday morning at 6:55 am, we’re scheduled to be picked up outside the Aston Waikiki for the seven-hour Pearl Harbor tour. Tom’s been chomping at the bit for the opportunity to see this historic site. 

Pearl Harbor, not unlike Normandy, with its powerful and emotional significance, no doubt will be meaningful for both of us, taking photos every step of the way which we’ll share the photos the next day or at the latest on Wednesday.

We would have tried this scale if we hadn’t used all of our change doing laundry which, by the way, was only $7 for two loads in the coin-operated laundry in the hotel as opposed to $28 for the same amount in Paris and London.

As for my shopping online…oh, it would be nice if I could walk into a shop and find things that fit me, that were practical, durable, and cool in hot climates, I’d be thrilled. But, it’s not the case. Plus, the thought of browsing through numerous stores at the largest mall in Honolulu, the Ala Moana Mall, looking for these specific items is pointless. 

This was my Cobb salad at our new favorite restaurant, Cheeseburger Paradise in Waikiki. We love this very busy place serving over 1400 guests per day, planning to return again tonight. It’s imperative to arrive by 6 pm to ensure getting a table. I ordered extra avocado for $2 and loved the Blue Cheese dressing which they assured me was gluten, sugar, and starch free.

I prefer tee shirts that are made with 5% spandex for durability (they don’t get stretched out) that are somewhat fitted. Wearing more fitted tees appears more dressed up (to me) than a typical baggy tee shirt. This way if I add a skirt, a pair of jeans, or longer shorts, I feel acceptable in public.

Currently, I own only one pair of shorts which just won’t cut it for a long-term stay in Hawaii. I’d intended to “cut off” two of the last three pairs of jeans I ordered, received in a box of supplies in Madeira five months ago.  But, having worn those three pairs of jeans so often these past several months, I realized that I didn’t want to reduce my inventory down to one pair of jeans.

Tom was smiling when he read the menu with multiple options appealing to him. There were 16 TV screens in the sports bar area of Cheeseburger Paradise.  I offered to sit where he was sitting so he could watch the screen but if it’s not the Minnesota Vikings he has no interest.

Yesterday, I placed an order for six tee shirts and two pairs of 11″ long shorts also with 5% spandex for comfort from two of my favorite online stores, knowing their sizes will fit me without trying them on. 

With free shipping, I had them sent to our mailing service, where they’ll box them up and ship them and a few other supplies to a local UPS store in Maui that I noticed on google maps is not far from our condo. 

Tom ordered a Reuben Sandwich on white rye with onion rings.

Now, that I know these items will be on their way to Maui within a few weeks, I’ll throw away the old worn-out tee shirts that these new items will replace. “Buy new, throw away old.” No room in our luggage for added weight. 

In an effort to save on spending in Honolulu we’d decided to avoid the high cost of taxis and walk everywhere.  There are numerous buses and trolleys that run along the boulevard but, with endless restaurants and points of interest in Waikiki Beach, we’ve been content traveling on foot.

Hibiscus in the mall.

When we return to Oahu for nine days at the end of May, we’ll stay in Honolulu to have an opportunity to explore that end of the city and to be near the pier for the upcoming cruise to Sydney, Australia on May 24th. At this point, that seems long away. In no time, it will be here. 

Time flies when we’re having fun.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2013:

This male lion was waiting for a meal of baby warthogs which he hoped the nearby female lion would capture from a nearby hole where their mother placed them when she spotted the lions. For more details on this story and many more of our close up lion photos, please click here.

Tom is sick…No repellent anywhere…Two weeks and counting…A scary story from one year ago today…

As mentioned on prior posts, most of the vendors don’t allow photos of their wares. All the photos of products in the souks have been taken while on the move, rarely stopping and never being able to focus the camera, often shooting without looking into the lens. As a result, many of our photos taken in the souk are blurry.

Tom is rarely ill. Yesterday morning, he awoke with a horrible sore throat. Within hours he was coughing, feverish, and feeling miserable. 

Having already told Adil that we’d be dining out, we had no option but to do just that. The thought of the long walk to a restaurant was daunting when one is so ill. On top of that, stubborn man that he is, Tom insisted that we find insect repellent for me by checking out every pharmacy in the Medina.

A less crowded spot in a souk.

Although I kept telling him to forget about the repellent, he insisted we continue to walk in one direction and then off to another to each of the four pharmacies we’ve seen in the Medina. I wasn’t sick, but even I didn’t want to walk that far in the heat.

With the necessity of me staying covered wearing BugsAway clothing to avoid being bit by sand flies, it was scorching in the sun in the Big Square, wearing the jeans, long sleeve shirt and heavy socks.   

Tom, not feeling well, led the way as I followed behind. Usually, we hold hands as he drags me through the crowds. We agreed that hand holding made no sense with his illness.

His constant sniffing, coughing, and wheezing were not only hard to hear but also somewhat annoying. His determination to find repellent was equally annoying. What were sandfly bites compared to his current state of health? We were quite a pair.

This was one of those situations where a couple could easily become snappy and irritable. Somehow we made the hour-long search tolerable except for the hard reality…insect repellent doesn’t exist in Marrakech. 

It’s not unusual to see popular clothing styles in the souks when many items are imported.

Finally, we gave up looking and began the long walk back toward the restaurant. Oh, that we could find a place for carryout food to bring back in order to avoid his constant coughing, sneezing, sighing, and moaning in the restaurant. We picked a table in the darkened back room. I felt so badly for him, wishing there was something that I could do.

Returning to the riad after dinner after endless “barksters” trying to get us to buy something, we were more than relieved to be back. We hunkered down, watched a few shows, and for the first time since we left the US, we slept in separate bedrooms in an attempt to keep me from catching it. Oh, please. I’d better not catch this illness!

It’s odd to see these blue jeans in the souk. Many of the locals wear this style.

He slept in the yellow room in a twin bed, leaving the master bedroom which was already set up to reduce the infestation of the sand flies. Feeling hot from wearing Tom’s long sleeve shirt to bed, I didn’t sleep more than three or four hours. 

Also, easily able to hear him coughing and choking in the other room, I was frequently awakened by his sounds, all the while worrying about him. He doesn’t do “sick” very well, as is the case with most men (no gender discrimination intended).

The stands in the Big Square. On a relatively quiet mid-week late afternoon, the vendors waited for customers.

The rooster living next door didn’t start crowing quite as early this morning so I managed to sneak in extra 45 minutes of sleep until the pigeons began their usual wing-flapping into the open courtyard, cooing all the while.  Rooster crowing, wings flapping, cooing, rooster crowing, wings, flapping, call to prayer, rooster crowing…I lumbered out of bed more exhausted than when I went to bed last night. Tom was still sleeping.

Sadly, he’s feeling no better today but he’s not worse which is encouraging. Hopefully, in a few days, he’ll be on the mend.

These dried fruits and nuts create an eye-appealing display. Most of the nuts are unsalted. On the right is a tray of essential oils, quality undetermined.

Of course, we’ll dine in tonight continuing to do so until he returns to health. As for the repellent, forget about it! I’ll buy it when we get to Madeira where hopefully more products will be available. In the interim, the long sleeve bug repellent shirts, jeans, and socks with be my daily attire, heat, and all. Getting more bites on my hands is unavoidable. I have to live with this.

Two weeks from today, we’ll be leaving Morocco, ready to embrace our new home for the next two and a half months. OK. We’ll be ready.


Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2013:

Not our photo. It was this type of knife that was slipped onto one of our plastic trays as they went through security in Barcelona. We were on a back-to-back cruise and had to get off the ship to later re-board. Of course, security pounced all over us, assuming it was our knife. Very scary situation. For details of Part 1 of the story, please click here.

Preparing for tomorrow’s expedition, weather permitting…

Our water shoes, Swarovski binoculars, sunglasses, shorts, bathing suits, tee shirts, sunscreen and of course, bug spray and the camera.

Tomorrow morning at 7:45 we’ll be taking off for an expedition, subject to good weather.  Upon returning later in the day, we’ll describe our experience and hopefully post many photos.  Above is a photo of the “stuff” we plan  to wear and bring along.
We’ll take photos of us, before, after, and during our greatly anticipated exploration.  No, we won’t be bungee jumping or, much to my dismay, zip lining.  My hope, at the time we booked our travels was to experience the zip line.

As we’ve treasured the opportunity to travel the world, we ‘ve recently made a decision to avoid potentially injurious situations.  Let’s face it, on Wednesday this week, I’ll turn 65. Tom, who doesn’t exercise, other than walking vigorously (as of late) is 60. 

Yeah, we know, travelers older than us take monumental risks.  That’s not us. Although, throughout the world, we’re definitely exposed to many risks traveling in certain lands.

View from beach outside our veranda of Robert’s Grove pier bar.

Not athletic but generally fit and now in good health, no experience is worth risking damage to my delicate spine.  After being totally pain free for over 18 months based on the benefits of my strict anti-inflammation diet, we’ve decided that no adventure is worth ruining the remainder of the world travels awaiting us. 

Without a doubt, now that we’re settled, relaxed and… our 2012 prep spreadsheet is in the hands of our accountant (as of this morning), we’re anxious to venture out to further explore the amazing country of Belize, learning about it’s people, wildlife, geography, vegetation and history, all of which we’ll share here.

The past few days the weather’s been unpredictable with a combination of high winds, fast moving clouds and some drizzles resulting in rough seas.  Yesterday, we avoided our usual lengthy walk along the beach.  It was cold!  Tom laughed at me shivering in 70 degrees but, after days of 86 degrees with 80% or more humidity, it felt chilly. 

Windy and cloudy on the beach today.

This afternoon, the clouds moved out.  Minutes later we were ensconced in our favorite lawn chairs, our phones loaded with multiple books on Kindle apps,  in order to lazily lounge for our usual one-hour of sun worshipping ending with a dunk in the pristine unheated infinity pool. 

I hadn’t read a novel in years, never taking the time to “get out of my head” in a novel.  Instead, I read volumes of informational, educational non-fiction books.  Having completed an entire  mindless novel in the past few days, I felt refreshed and content to have allowed myself to relax to this degree.

Tonight, we’ll dine in.  With a whole leftover roasted chicken, onions and carrots and homemade coleslaw (made with a tiny head of cabbage and a few giant carrots that I shredded with a knife) we’ll partake in a pleasure from our past, watching  the TV show, The Bachelor.  Much to our surprise, in Belize, we have full access to US television shows broadcasting all major networks and cable channels from New York. 

Seldom watching TV since leaving the US, tonight’s the night.  Freshly showered, in comfy clothes, we’ll soon park ourselves in front of the flat screen TV, trays on our laps, great food on our plates, doing what we love the most, simply being together.  Gee…it’s fun to be retired!

Check back tomorrow for details of our outing. 

X-Ray views of our travel jackets…

It would be no exaggeration to say that I have spent no less than 20 hours searching online for travel jackets for both Tom and me.  Our goals were simple: functional, all weather, comfortable, affordable and attractive. 

After the first 10 hours, I threw “affordable” and possibly “attractive” out the window.  When buying coats and jackets for us over the years, I’ve always relished in the search for the $500 jacket on sale for $195, throwing a 20% coupon in the mix for a great jacket purchased for a grand total of $156. 
With no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota, we’d be thrilled with the total acquisition cost, wearing the jacket over several years.  As a good “laundress” I’d be able to wash and dry them each year in order for them to look like new for the following year.  

Tiring of our jacket years later, long before they’d wear out, we’d donate them pleased to know that the recipient could enjoy many more years of wear. On occasion, a treasured well-fitting, good looking jacket would remain in the closet for years to come. We struggled to let it go. Would we ever wear it again? Probably not. But the attachment remained.

In frigid Minnesota, one becomes particularly attracted to warm, comfortable, functional jackets that when donned, provide us with a feeling of who we really are, or in some cases, who we’d really like to be.  Funny how an article of clothing, an inanimate object, can do that.
When the search for jackets began months ago, I took it quite seriously.  Tom poo pooed jacket after jacket that I had sent to his inbox.  At night after work, as he’d peruse upwards of 100 email jokes that had filtered in throughout the day, he’d see a subject line from me, reading, “Honey, I found your jacket! Look at this one!”

My heart sank each time he shook his head saying, “Naw, not this one.”  After awhile, I gave up asking why he didn’t like my most recent find. His answer never brought me one step closer to finding what he would like.  

I suppose it’s not unlike falling in love we just do. It’s the way that wispy chunk of silky hair falls over their right eye, the flash of white teeth in a winsome smile, or the laugh, so frequent, so sincere, that makes us fall in love. Over time, the wisp of hair becomes dull and gray, the teeth yellowed but that laugh endures, and we stay in love. I speak from experience.

Finding him a jacket he’d love “matters” to me, as he “matters” to me. Patiently the search continued.  Somehow I felt that once I found a jacket for Tom, one for me would naturally follow.   
Early on in the search, I discovered Scottevest, a travel wear company dedicated to quality and function, offering jackets with “zillions” of hidden pockets.  This concept appealed to both of us, especially during the times we have no alternative but to fly. 

With multiple pockets suited to technological gear, there are hidden plackets for headsets, chargers and devices. Very interesting!
Tom didn’t like the “look” of the available lightweight options for him, although I was drawn to The Molly in black. From time to time I’d send him information about the Standard Jacket to no response. 

Signing up at the Scottevest website to receive daily email on discounted items, last month he reluctantly agreed to the Windbreaker. I purchased a size large for him in olive along with a size small for me in blue.  With the then 20% off discount, these unisex 17 pocket jackets would serve us well most of the time, at only $60 each.  

Folding inside themselves for easy packing was an appealing feature that unfortunately requires an engineering degree. At this point we haven’t taken the time to figure this out.  Other fish to fry.  
Thus remained the task of finding a slightly heavier jacket for those cool days at sea and chilly mornings in Africa on safari.

As the search continued off and on, often days in between, an email popped into my inbox last week, offering a number of jackets at 40% off. (If interested in this sale click this link which was extended until midnight tonight but doesn’t allow for returns. BTW, we have nothing to do with the promotion or marketing of this company or their products).

And wouldn’t you know, The Molly and the Standard Jacket were both included in the sale. At last, Tom relented, finally realizing that the look may not be perfect, but the function of this 20 pocket jacket would serve him well in many ways. I ordered black for both of us in each of our chosen styles.  

Fearful they wouldn’t fit, resulting in having to resell them on eBay, I anxiously awaited their arrival.  Two days later, the package arrived.  Tom, exhausted from work and distracted, didn’t try his on until Friday night when I did the same. His recent weight loss made the size consideration tricky as this was a more fitted jacket than the Windbreaker that we had previously purchased.

Alas!  We were both thrilled with the perfect fit in each of our jackets and at last, Tom seemed content with this decision, partially due to price, partly due to practicality, partly due to the 20 pockets and perhaps, a tiny piece, to end my relentless search freeing me to attend to other tasks, only one month and six days from departure.

Orange luggage & boots update…

You can tell by the little bulging muscle on the right side of my calf that I have tried to no avail, exercising my calves to build them up. If a scorpion or other such creature sees this gap in the boots, they may find it an appealing hiding place.This may warrant a visit to the shoe repair store.

Orange luggage, yes!  Fabulous!  Top quality!  Lightweight! The four giant boxes and two smaller boxes arrived on Friday afternoon.  How easily I lifted them into the house!  The Fed Ex guy even commented on the lightweight big boxes, curious as to the contents, amazed when I told him it was luggage.

Carefully, a little knife in hand, I slit the tape off the over sized boxes to easily pull out the orange bags.  Squealing like a kid, I couldn’t open them quickly enough, tossing one on the bed to unzip and inspect further.

The orange isn’t a Halloween pumpkin orange or the color of a naval orange.  It is subtle, definitely orange, comparable to the color of the mashed sweet potatoes, under the fluffy pillow of melted marshmallows to be devoured on Thanksgiving day. (We don’t eat that dish anymore…or even the sweet potatoes for that matter; too much sugar, too many carbs, too much starch.)

The bags are deep, well constructed, easy to zip.  Within minutes I loaded up one of the luggage carts with three of the 30″ Antler Bags, topped off with one of  the new orange carry on bags.  Yes, I knew they were empty. I wanted to see how well the four items would fit on the luggage cart.  Perfect!

Of course, when they are loaded to the brim with our “stuff” it will be different but…it will be manageable. I was thrilled.  Last night, I ordered two more of the 30″ orange bags after I sheepishly told Tom we’d each need three, not two of the bags.  

I’d expected him to flinch when he heard we’d need three 30″ bags.  He didn’t. He smiled at me, reminded of our somewhat preposterous situation, leaving everything behind, taking everything we need with us for the next three years, five years, ten years.  Who knows?  

We’ll manage. We’ll manage with a grin on our faces.  And when the bags feel really heavy, toppling off the cart, landing on a well-booted foot, we will smile, stop, help each other and keep moving on. This we know for sure.

And, my Clark lace up boots arrived on Thursday during the jewelry sale.  I didn’t open the box right away.  I had spent so much time looking online, that I wanted to prolong the anticipation a little longer, preferring to stay preoccupied with the sale.  

Returning home from taking down the hot pink “for sale” signs, I opened the box, feeling giddy over the great find, only to be sorely disappointed when I tried them on.  

The foot, a perfect fit, the calf, a fiasco!  I had measured my skinny calves before buying the boots, checking the detailed description of each possibility to ensure a good fit.  They called it “shaft circumference.”  The description stated a 14″ shaft circumference.  My calves measured 12.5″ leaving adequate room to tuck in pants to keep out 6″ scorpions.  They lied.

The shaft circumference measured 16.5″, leaving room for both of my hands to reach inside.  An entire scorpion family could reside in there.  No thank you. Now what?  Back to the computer, searching “skinny calf boots,  thin calf boots, narrow calf boots, skinny leg boots?  No!!!

Friday morning, before friends were arriving for breakfast I started calling local shoe repair store.  Yes, most likely, it can be done…the shaft can be made smaller, for a price, of course. 

“Bring them in for an estimate. It could be $70 or more,” says Bob of Bob’s Shoe Repair in Wayzata, Minnesota, where 30 years ago, maybe 40, I’d go to get shoes repaired.  Who repairs shoes these days?  Gosh, I sound old.

Monday morning, off to Wayzata I’ll go with the Clark boots.  Thus far, I’ve invested $149.98 plus shipping for a total of $161.98.  This could translate into a total investment of $250.  But, the end result may be a perfectly fitted, well constructed, long lasting, timelessly stylish, safe from scorpions, sure footed pair of comfortable boots, lasting for years,  that I will be wearing as we dash down the concourse to our gate.

Next to my sweetie, I’ll be wheeling one of our 250 pound capacity two wheeled carts, loaded up with three 30″ orange Antler bags, an orange Antler carry on bag, a laptop backpack, a handbag for me, a man purse for Tom (called a murse) heading to our next adventure. Homeless?  Yep!  Harried?  For sure! Happy?  Undoubtedly!

Scorpions?…Boots, please!…

Scorpions in Africa may be from 6″-8″

After reading numerous articles about appropriate clothing to wear while on safari, it only took a few sentences for me to be convinced that proper boots are a must in the bush.

Some websites recommended a short boot and others suggested a taller boot. Although only slightly concerned about creatures crawling up our pant legs, I have opted for the “long BugsAway pants tucked into the boot concept” with a lace up boot. 

This will allow me to tighten the boot at the top to prevent Mr. Scorpion from running up the boot and slithering down the inside of the boot. Oh, please, no.

Tom, who’s used to heavy steel toe boot required by his 42 year railroad job, doesn’t like the idea of boots at all, hoping to toss them out with his watch on retirement day, this upcoming Halloween.  With Mr. Scorpion in mind, I’ll continue to get him on board.  Perhaps, he’ll come around when he sees this photo!

Over the past several weeks while enthusiastically researching boots I had a litany of requirements in mind:

Functional:  Must keep creatures out.  Must be sturdy, providing sure footing.
Must have a thick sole to prevent puncture by thorny brush or snake bite.  
Water resistant: Waterproof, not necessary, but they must be able to withstand a rainy day, subsequently drying without damage.
Comfortable:  My feet are picky.  My feet insist on comfortable shoes.  There is nothing wrong with my feet.  I don’t have bunions or protrusions. I have a high instep which is manageable. For some goofy reason, shoes hurt my feet.  Most of the shoes I’ll be selling at the estate sale will be newer shoes I’ve worn only once, blistering my feet, never to be worn again.  The remainder will be comfortable, overly worn shoes, for which no one would want to pay $1. 
Proper fit:  Comfortable could cover this aspect, but boots may be somewhat comfortable in the foot with a poor fit around the ankle and particularly, the calf.  I have skinny calves.  Yes, I have skinny, muscular calves after years of working out and running around doing my 10,000 steps a day for most of my adult life.  My calves are small, measuring only 12″.  Most boots have a shaft circumference of 14″-15″ leaving me with a huge gap, large enough to fit my hand.  A  lace-up boot may compensate for this anomaly.
Attractive, stylish:  Yea, yea, yea, I know. Cute boots are not necessary.  If all of the above can be accomplished and, the boots are stylish, I will consider it a bonus.  After we leave Africa, the boots, if stylish will be worn and enjoyed for years to come.  
Lightweight: The pair of boots I purchased last night, weight 1.4 pounds.  This is the nature of the beast (no pun intended).  Boots take up vital space in the suitcase.  Solution: wear the boots while traveling by air when weight is an issue. (All bags, regardless of the number are acceptable on cruises, provided any one bag doesn’t exceed 70 pounds.)  If the boots are comfortable, wearing them for long periods will be possible.  Wearing socks, I can remove them on the plane if necessary. Yes, I know, the security check at airports requires the removal of boots.  OK, let’s see.  Scorpion?  Boots?  Scorpion?  Boots? Boots win!!!
Price:  This was tough.  How does one find all the above at a great price?  Well made boots are expensive.  For weeks, I watched boot sales on eBay to no avail. I checked out endless boot resellers, discount wholesale stores and sales at major retailers. On eBay most were offered at BUY IT NOW prices resulting in little opportunity to negotiate, although I did contact a few sellers with lower offers, with no results.  

Last night, I decided to return to my normal process; find the product I like, then price shop.  The Olympics on TV in the background, Tom at my side, contentedly in his comfy chair, playing with, his favorite pastime activity, I finally found the perfect boot from a manufacturer I know is comfortable and fits me well.  

Excited by this find, the price and size search began.  Two hours later, frustrated with little results, I wandered over to, my favorite online store where I often buy everyday products at great prices, with free shipping, avoiding a trip to a store.  

When I had searched for the boots on Google, a link to Amazon came up on the 2nd page indicating a “weak reference” to the product which drove me away. Usually an item comes up if the search includes the brand, the model and the size.  In this case, it did not.  

Although not hopeful, I pulled up the link to find my boots!!  My size, to boot (no pun intended)!  Yeah!

The total price with shipping was $161.98. Of course, I would have loved to buy these boots for less. Originally, they were offered for $174.98 + shipping. The $25 savings provided a small consolation, but then again, Mr. Scorpion definitely provided the final motivation.

Clark’s Women’s Orinoco Jump Boot


Clark’s Women’s Orinoco Jump Boot


Suggested price: $175.00
Price: $149.98 
Color: Stone Leather
Rubber sole
Shaft measures approximately 16″ from arch
Heel measures approximately 1.25″
Supple Leather Upper
OrthoLite Footbed
Full Inside Zip Entry
Rubber Sole
Steel Shank