“It’s always somethin, Jane!”…Happy groundhog day”…to those who celebrate!…

The morning view from our condo in Placencia, Belize, in February 2013.

So, I was trying to get my start date for my Medicare Supplement, Plan G with Aflac, to March 1, when my enrollment for Medicare Part B hadn’t come through yet. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, after finally hearing from Railroad Retirement that it may take up to eight weeks to be in effect, I decided I wanted to change the supplement start date to March 1.

Why should I pay the $157 supplement when I wouldn’t have Part B in effect? It was as simple as signing a form, which the insurance agency explained I could do online, and sending it back to them by email. Easy peasy? Not so much.

First, I couldn’t open the form they sent me. It was in a format my computer didn’t recognize, nor could I convert it to an editable PDF using Adobe or any other apps I have. I went back and forth with the representative over several hours while she worked on sending it to me in an editable format—no such luck.

After about three hours of working on this, I asked the rep to investigate further with someone else in her company and devise a resolution. The end result? She explained I had to PRINT and SIGN the form and couldn’t do it all online. Her original plan was inaccurate.

With modern technology and the countless apps that allow signing legal documents online, I couldn’t believe I’d have to go to the UPS store, have them print the form for me to sign, and then…the most unthinkable…fax it to them. Who uses faxes anymore?

However, it was fun chatting with the two employees in the store. Looking out the window from their store, we could see the Hilton Lake Las Vegas, where the football team, the San Francisco 49ers, will be staying with their family members. Apparently, from what we heard, the players won’t be allowed to leave the hotel other than to go to practice at one of two locations. They will not be allowed to go to the Las Vegas Strip and casinos. Security will be extensive.

Even in South Africa, with many situations requiring documents for visa extensions and other matters, I never had to go through such hoopla to send a signed document.

It had been raining for the past two days (unusual for Las Vegas), and without a rental car, we’d have to walk in the rain (no umbrella, rarely needed in this desert climate) to the UPS store located in the Village, a decent walk from the “one flight of stairs.”

Nonetheless, we put on jackets this morning and headed down the stairs to walk to the USP store, a very nice modern facility. The UPS rep explained they’ve been having WiFI problems and informed me that their fax machine wasn’t working yesterday. I asked that rep to please try to get it going. He did. Thank goodness. Finally, this two-paragraph form with my signature was sent to Aflac. Now, I won’t have to spend $157 for February’s premium pointlessly.

I always say, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” Our nomadic lifestyle is by no means an escape from dealing with the everyday issues that pop up in most of our lives. We are certainly not exempt from dealing with such situations.

Then, this morning, our groceries were delivered but were missing the grass-fed ground beef I’d ordered. It wasn’t on the receipt, but I verified it was in my order. I needed the meat for Sunday when I planned to make Baretta mozzarella-stuffed meatballs with homemade mushroom Italian red sauce. (No pasta is included in this recipe).

I planned to make enough meatballs to last for three nights, saving some for the freezer for a future meal. Thus, I placed another order for the meat this morning but had to spend $35 to avoid paying a delivery fee. I managed to order a few more items, and by tomorrow, I’ll receive the newest order. All is good.

Stuff happens, but neither of us complains loudly, not even to each other. Regardless of how frustrating it may be, we go through the necessary processes and move on. We didn’t get too wet this morning, even though it rained the entire time on the walk.

Today is Groundhog Day. It would be fun to believe this had some significance in our lives, but from our realistic viewpoint, it does not. However, there’s humor associated with this, which most people rely upon when they hear and see attention applied to February 2 each year. Thus, if you find this a particular day, please enjoy it!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 2, 2014:

The bed in the master suite in Khaya Umdani is comfortable and appointed with plush bedding. It was a fantastic few weeks staying in that beautiful house. For more photos, please click here.

Feeling good…Enjoying life and each other…Are other patrons friendly in public venues in the US?…

Dawn and Leon are dear friends and owners of Jabula. This photo was taken on the day of my 75th birthday when the four of us went out to lunch when my birthday party, which they also attended, was a few days later.

With our coughs almost completely gone., we’re both feeling great and grateful at the same time. We had an excellent night’s sleep, and after a few cups of coffee, we are ready to tackle the day.

Today, I won’t be chopping and dicing for dinner since we’re heading out to a restaurant in The Village, down the one flight of stairs to the lovely area. We were heading to The Pub at the bottom of the steps when we found their menu appealing to both of us. We’re hoping it’s good since their prices are reasonable, and we may decide to dine there more often than once a week.

Tomorrow, we’ll report what we’ve discovered with photos and comments about the environment and the food. It appears to be somewhat of a sports bar, which we don’t mind at all. Hopefully, it will be a friendly place where we can chat with a few other locals and visitors to the area. But, our expectations regarding socializing in a restaurant in the US are in check. In all the years we lived in Minnesota (Tom, all of his life), we seldom chatted with other patrons in any public venue.

An occasional “hello” in passing while walking was all we could ever expect. On occasion, someone would talk to me at the supermarket, but never at the health club or any other public environment. I will always remember the time I met a lovely woman at a CVS pharmacy, and we chatted for 30 minutes.

And yet, we can recall during our world travels when we conversed with other patrons, and there were few countries where this transpired. You may say, “Do we make an effort to converse with others?”

And yes, we do. We are both friendly and approachable when we say hello and smile at other patrons, encouraging conversation. But our friendly approach is often ignored when the person turns away. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.

The number one most friendly environment we’ve experienced in our world travels has been on most cruises, with only three cruises we’ve found to be less so….the Mekong River cruise in 2016, the Antarctica cruise in 2018, and, again, most recently, on The Galapagos Islands cruise. In each case, the passenger count was low: 60 passengers, 160 passengers, and 14 passengers, respectively. (No offense intended for any of the few passengers on those three cruises with whom we may have interacted occasionally and thoroughly enjoyed).

Cruises with larger passenger counts seem the most friendly, perhaps mainly based on the numbers. However, we have had exceptional social experiences on cruises, making many friends with whom we remain close.

Then, of course, the most friendly of all has been at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant in Marloth Park. South Africa. I know we’ve mentioned this repeatedly, but there is nowhere like it in the world that we have seen during our over 11 years of travel or…even in our old lives. Is it any wonder that we are looking forward to our return?

The food, the ambiance, Dawn and Leon, the owners, and all of the locals whom we’ve come to know over the years we spent sitting at the most fun bar in the world. We often equate it to the same kind of bar many of us watched on the old TV show, Cheers, “Where everyone knows your name!”

So, we don’t expect the restaurant and pub where we’ll dine tonight to be anything like Jabula, but as we have in the past, we will thoroughly enjoy each other’s companionship, lively chatter, and hopefully good food.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 20, 2014:

Tom was thrilled once again to be back on the water since it was seven months since our last cruise. We were on the Blyde River on a tour of the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa. For more, please click here.

Part 3…What an exciting location…Weight loss update…

The bar at Luna Rossa, where drinks and dinners are served. This looks fun!

Tom reminded me to mention that the boulevard outside our building is not the same as, or associated with, the Villages in Florida. Instead, The Village in Lake Las Vegas is located outside our unit in this beautiful building, Viera, that we can easily access only steps away.

It’s not so far that it’s hard for me to walk to explore all the shops and restaurants. We walked to the UPS store five minutes from the building this morning. The longest walk was down the long hallway to the elevator to the main entrance, one level up, and then to the store. This morning, I had to mail an envelope, and it was a piece of cake when we didn’t have a stamp or envelope. Less than $2.00 later, the letter was on its way.

This is the interior of Luna Rossa, one of many restaurants in The Village.

Tomorrow, I’ll explain what I was mailing and how it impacts me in the future, which may provide some valuable information for other travelers like us. More and more seniors are choosing to live a lifestyle similar to ours by selling all their belongings and making the necessary changes to live a home-free life.

It has been great with Tom back here after his one-day trip to Minneapolis to attend the annual Railroad Union Christmas party. Much to my surprise, when he returned from his 26-hour time away, he only napped on the sofa for about 20 minutes, while I made a special effort to be quiet and not disturb him. Otherwise, he was his usual upbeat self, and we had a lovely afternoon and evening.

The patio at Luns Rossa which is surely frequented by locals in the warmer months.

Gosh, we love it here. It has everything we could need or want. We can order our groceries online with the order being delivered directly to our door; we can shop for essentials by walking out the door to this building; we can dine out at any of about ten restaurants only steps away, and we can handle anything we may need without using the car.

Today, we will look at the possibility of canceling the upcoming rental cars, after which we’ll Uber to any other locations we may need to visit while we’re here. We already paid for the next month using points accumulated on a credit card. So we’ll keep those reservations since getting the rewards points back is tricky, and we’ll make a point of using the car as much as possible.

It appears this company was no longer in business. We are surprised so many of the shops and restaurants are still in business after the pandemic.

Had we known how easy life is living here, we’d never have rented cars when they are so expensive in Nevada, especially during the holiday season. Since we don’t gamble, we won’t be going to the Las Vegas strip unless we plan anything special.

There are no words I can use to explain how different life is here at this fabulous location than it was only a little over a week ago when we were in Ecuador. We are both cheerful and upbeat, practically giddy, especially during the holiday season. We’ve both caught up on sleep. I now have my refill prescription, and the two meds I am taking for Afib are working well. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

In the past several days, I have been heading to the fitness center down the corridor and doing a short workout to improve my strength and stamina gradually. I do a little more each day and hope to regain my fitness level after failing to do much over the past few years.

This establishment looks fantastic, with a wonderful menu. We’ll try this place soon.

As for losing weight to improve my health, as of this morning, I am down 20 pounds with only five more pounds to go. It’s slow going, but if I can lose one pound a week, that’s fine with me. All I did was cut my portions of low-carb foods down by about 40%. Other than around meal times, at 11:00 am and 6:00; I am not hungry and don’t think about food.

I don’t snack during the day, but shortly after a somewhat light dinner, I have one cup of Greek yogurt mixed with ½ cup cultured cottage cheese and about ½ cup of unsweetened mixed berries. What a treat this is and a perfect way to end the day! I am doing everything I can to improve my health, and the results are already providing benefits.

Of course, good sleep and the low-stress lifestyle we enjoy now are factors in achieving my goals. I bet many of our readers are busy getting ready for the holiday season. Although we don’t decorate the house with a tree and other decorations or bake Christmas cookies and treats, the Christmas season is in our hearts, and we revel in this particular time of year.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 21, 2013:

On the way to Nelspruit with our driver, Okee Dokee, she stopped to buy lychee nuts from this adorable girl, who was selling them on the side of the road with her mom. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…What an exciting location!…Tom is on his way to Minneapolis…

Looking over our veranda one floor down to ground level, we can see shops and restaurants. It is referred to as “The Village” in Lake Las Vegas.

When the owner was here a few days ago,  Zoltan explained that our condo is located one floor above what is referred to as The Village, a series of roads (no cars allowed) with restaurants, shops, and various businesses. All we have to do is exit a nearby door to an outdoor stairway to take us down to The Village.

A bar and restaurant are directly below our unit, and rows of various other restaurants and establishments make this an ideal location for us. Tom was concerned it would be too hard of a walk for me to navigate. Yesterday afternoon, after returning from the mailing service, we decided to try it.

We’d expected restaurants but had no idea there would be clothing stores and other shops on the boulevard.

The smooth, even streets were easy for me, and I made it all around the area without thinking I couldn’t easily walk. The only tricky part was after we were done checking everything out, we walked up a very steep hill to make our way to the main entrance of our building.

After speaking to the reception desk staff member, we discovered an easily accessible door to reenter the building using a code on the keypad of an exterior door. This way, we could avoid the steep hill most people our age would struggle to navigate without getting out of breath.

It was an easy walk on the paved roads (no cars allowed) in The Village.

Over the next week, we’ll dine at one of the restaurants and have dinner. We’ll retake new photos at that time when the area is beautifully decorated with pretty lights and Christmas music playing in the background. We looked over our veranda at night to see the lights and hear the music. Lovely.

Although it is cold here now, requiring warm clothes both during the day and at night, we’ll each bundle up with the clothes we have on hand. Many don’t realize that the weather in the winter in Las Vegas is rather chilly. On a few occasions, it has snowed here, but it melted right away.

There were even some offices, a salon, and a spa along the boulevard.

As I write today’s post, I’m a little tired. I’d set the alarm on my phone to awaken Tom at 5:30 am. Tom’s hearing loss prevents him from hearing a phone’s alarm. I put the phone on my nightstand, thinking it would surely wake me in time to wake him—no such luck. At 3:30 am, we were both wide awake and got up for the day.

Neither of us slept much, but it will be much harder for Tom, who has to wait all night at the airport after he leaves the Christmas party around 1:00 am, waiting for his. I can always take a nap this afternoon. He won’t be so fortunate. Perhaps he’ll nod off a little on the outgoing and returning flights. It’s hard to nap while waiting at the airport. He’s flying in and out at Sun Country Airlines, a smaller, quieter airport a few miles from the main Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.

A beauty center is located in The Village.

As for me today, there’s not much on the agenda. I am working on health insurance stuff and other paperwork. I spent most of the morning ordering Christmas gifts online for the grandchildren and have completed that task.

It’s odd for me that Tom is gone. I will not pester him with texts or phone calls, leaving him to think only about his day and evening with his old friends from his railroad days and adult children.

We were surprised to see so many restaurants. We checked out the menus and will visit some soon.

That’s all for today, dear readers. I’ll be back with more news and photos of the beautiful Village here in Lake Las Vegas. We’re delighted we chose to stay in this lovely location.

This restaurant is located directly below us. We need only to take a stairway down to The Village.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 19, 2013:

Of nine members of this warthog family, there are two moms; one has four babies, and the other has three. From watching this family almost daily over 18 days, we believe the mom shown above is the mom of the three babies, who are all nursing if you look closely. (It’s hard to see the third). Thus, the baby on whose chin she rests belongs to the other nearby mom, who seems comfortable with this situation. We couldn’t have laughed more when the fourth baby, whether hers or not, provided this chin-resting spot. For more photos, please click here.

Photos from Tuscany, ten years ago today…Off on the golf cart soon…

It appeared that this dilapidated house in Boveglio, Tuscany, may have been occupied; photos today from this post.

Today’s photos were posted ten years ago while we lived in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, in a 300-year-old stone house, where most private dwellings were attached. Early on in our travels, staying in the house and the area was a particularly enriching experience.

The language barrier wasn’t much of an issue for us, although no one in the area spoke English. But, we managed to meet a few neighbors and were invited to a party in the square, where we were the only English-speaking attendees. Nonetheless, we had a great time at the party and during the three months living in the quaint little village of Boveglio.

More blooming flowers. A few days later, the many lavender bushes in our yard began to blossom. I wish we could do “scratch and sniff” online for Tuscany’s sweet smells.

The cultural differences were astounding, yet we found commonalities to make us feel right at home. People can be warm, friendly, and welcoming everywhere in the world, and we never felt like outsiders for a moment. Even our weekly housekeeper brought us delicious baked pies and goodies, none of which I could eat, but Tom savored.

We had two large rectangle garden boxes on the unusual veranda (photos to come later), where we could pick zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. It was worth it to do the treacherous climb to the veranda to care for and choose the vegetables that owners Lisa and Luca had started for our three-month stay in the summer months.

These hills were much steeper in person than they appear in the photos.

Wow! What an experience it was, one that we treasure over and over again as we recall many events that transpired while we were there, such as a sports car tour that drove through the winding roads, the parades on the steep hills with almost everyone in the area participating; Tom’s first experience in an earthquake; shopping from the weekly produce truck; walking the hills to the local Bar Ferrari; the frequent sound of the hundreds-years-old church bells ringing; visiting the village of Collodi (the “birthplace” of Pinocio) and on and on.

I could write a book on our experiences in that little village. (But, I won’t. I write enough here). What a joy it was! And when we talk about it, we can’t wipe the smile off our faces. But, then again, there were the windows without screens with horse flies and bees flying into the house; the summer heat with no fans or aircon; the lack of a reliable WiFi signal, and the long drive to the market on treacherous winding mountain roads.

This is my favorite hill (yea, right!)

But, as always, we adapted and were happy to be there every single day. We couldn’t stream shows with the poor WiFi signal, and the tiny TV was all in Italian. We played cards and read books we’d already downloaded on our phones. The kitchen was sparse of utensils and gadgets, but we made do and had beautiful dinners savoring the area’s bounty.

Would we return to Boveglio? No, but we cherish the memory of the experience as we do so many in this past almost 11 years of world travel.

An inviting doorway. Wonder what’s on the other side.

As for today, as soon as I upload today’s post, we’re heading out on the golf cart to the post office station, the petrol station, and Walmart. We haven’t been in a Walmart store since we were in Hawaii in 2014. Not a big fan of the store, but we need a few groceries and miscellaneous toiletries, and it will be fun to wander through the store. While we’re there, Tom will refuel the golf cart.

Otherwise, we won’t go out until we head to Brownwood on Wednesday afternoon to play bingo. Our daubers are waiting to be used. We’d planned to go last week, but a bad storm prevented us from doing so. There’s an 80% chance of rain again this Wednesday, but it will be mostly clear in the afternoon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 26, 2013:

Lisa and Luca presented us with this basket of cherries from the tree growing in our yard after they’d seen us admiring the tree. Lisa, speaking no English and us, no Italian, it was impossible to explain my restrictive diet that forbids any fruit sugars. Tom, fortunately, may have a few each day, while I’ve merely enjoyed their beauty. We thanked them profusely, impressed by their thoughtfulness each day since we arrived. For more photos, please click here.