Today’s the day!…Our guests arrive this afternoon…Breakfast in town…Tom’s short haircut…

It was a good idea to set up this bar and get the clutter off of the kitchen counter.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This dead beetle was lying on her back on the veranda.

We flipped it over for this photo.  This is an African Black Beetle.  They don’t sting but have a powerful toxin they release when agitated that can feel like a sting and cause irritation.  We swept it over the edge of the veranda.  A few minutes later a band of mongooses stopped by and one of them immediately started devouring the beetle, savoring it so much, he made funny noises while crunching on its hard shell.  Mongooses are carnivores.

A part of the fun of entertaining guests is the preparations to make their stay as pleasant as possible.  We ran around the house, organizing and de-cluttering in an attempt to make everything as pleasant as possible.  We outfitted their rooms and bath with soaps, towels, insect repellents, toilet paper, and tissues.

Our friend Kathy recommended this quaint café in Komatipoort which we finally visited for the first yesterday.  We had a fantastic breakfast of bacon, eggs, veggies (Tom splurged on toast and jam, hot tea and bottled water).  Total bill was a paltry ZAR 170 (US $11.61) including tax and tip.

We loved creating a nice bar area as shown in today’s main photo using everything we had on hand and adding some new items Tom and Lois indicated they liked to drink and the end result was quite pleasing.

Tom’s eggs and bacon.  He ate his two pieces of toast and mine also.

It’s not that we drink that much. But, we entertain fairly often.  Tom likes a one-shot brandy and Sprite while I occasionally have a sugar-free gin and tonic.  But, more often I drink low alcohol wine which has 30% less alcohol.  

I ordered this spinach omelet only to discover it had creamed spinach inside.  I have to learn how to order better for my further restricted lactose-free diet.  Next time, I’ll ask for plain spinach.  This time I scraped off all of the spinach and ate the egg part.  There was no way I was going to ask them to take it back when I failed to order properly.

Luckily, low alcohol wine is available, made by South African wineries and is quite good.  When we dine out as we did last night for an excellent dinner at Aamazing (spelled correctly) River View overlooking the Crocodile River, I was able to order Four Cousins Skinny White wine.  I had two glasses during the entire evening while Tom had two-one shot glasses of Klipdrift brandy with Sprite Zero.

There is both indoor and outdoor dining at this delightful spot.

I ordered the grilled calamari steaks with salad (no dressing) while Tom had chicken Corden Bleu, rice, and salad.  Our total bill including the drinks, tax, and tip was ZAR 414 (US $28.36). It’s almost more cost effective to dine out than cook!

Many lovely gifts can be purchased here.

It was unusual for us to eat out twice in one day but after the house was cleaned so perfectly by Zef and Vusi, I didn’t want to make a mess.  This morning I started the food prep for today’s lunch and dinner. 

A few minutes ago, they were both here, cleaning the floors, making the bed, taking out the trash and cleaning the veranda which must be cleaned daily with all the dust kicked up from the wildlife and the soot from the sugar cane fires.

The charming gift shop at the Stoep Café.

Josiah is here now emptying, cleaning and refilling the cement pond so the wildlife can have fresh water to drink.  Plus, recently, Little Wart Face sat in the pond.  It is a good idea to keep this clean.

After breakfast at the Stoep Cafe, we headed to the dentist’s office.  Tom has a sore spot on his gums that needs to be checked.  As it turned out they’d moved to the same building as Dr. Theo at the Trio Centre.  He couldn’t get an appointment until next Tuesday so he’s using warm salt water rinses in the interim.  We’ll see how that goes.

Bottles used decoratively in the stone walkway at the Stoep Café.

At the dentist office, which shares the space with an optometrist, I purchased a really nice pair of sunglasses since those I’d purchased in Zambia fell apart a few days ago.  

From there we headed to the pharmacy for a few toiletries and then off to Spar for a few more groceries items.  We weren’t planning to return to the house until around 1400 hours (2:00 pm) but we’d purchased meat and needed to put it into the freezer.  Fortunately, the boys were wrapping up the cleaning and it all worked out well.

Tom before his haircut.  Scary!

A few hours later we headed to the Aamazing River View in time to watch the sunset.  We enjoyed a leisurely wait until our fresh, hot and delicious food arrived.  The wait was worth it.


Back home by 2100 hours, (9:00 pm), we decided to watch the finale of Master Chef on my laptop.  I fell asleep on the sofa for almost two hours and missed the finale. Once I got up and was ready for bed, I had an awful time falling back to sleep after the two-hour nap.  Today, we’re both a little sluggish but surely when our guests arrive, we’ll both become energized.

Tom after his short haircut, trim and neat.  A great improvement!

Over the next three weeks, our posting times will vary depending on the plans we’ve made with Tom and Lois. We’ll keep you updated on the plans and experiences during this busy time for us in Marloth Park with friends!  However, we will continue to post each day! 


Have a spectacular day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2017:

Tom took this beautiful photo in an early morning in Costa Rica as the moon was setting.  Nice job!  For more photos, please click here.



Tom’s latest haircut…A new look and…A new smartphone purchase in South Africa…

Tom’s excellent new haircut.  She cut his hair this time as opposed to using the electric clippers.  Cost with a tip?  ZAR 130, US $9.35 (includes tip).  Wow!  I love the beard!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A band of mongoose stopped by for raw scrambled eggs. Note green dish in the right center of the photo.

When Tom grew a beard in Bali, he quickly became frustrated with it when he said it was “scratchy” on the pillowcase when he was trying to sleep. As light sleepers, any type of distraction can prevent a good night’s sleep.


Recently, when he hadn’t shaved for a day or two I raved about the stubble, he decided to give it another try.  So far, so good.  We all enjoy seeing our beloved significant other with a new look from time to time, don’t we?

I can’t say I shake it up much, living this lifestyle but as I continue to work on my weight loss, albeit slowly but successfully, that’s all the new look he’s getting out of me. 

Tom’s wild hair before the haircut.

Later, I’ll disclose how much I’ve lost and how I’ve done it.  It may be another two months until I reach my goal.  I’m only losing about .5 kg (one pound) a week at this point although I never “cheat.”

Yesterday, we decided to head to Komatipoort a little early and left before I’d finished the day’s post as mentioned in yesterday’s post.  On the way to Spar Center, we stopped at the Pep Cell Phone Store first to no avail.  There wasn’t a single phone in that store that appealed to me.

Realizing I probably wouldn’t keep a new phone for more than a year or so, the price was a major consideration.  As it turned out, I left the Vodacom store a few doors from the market with one of the most expensive phones in the inventory price at ZAR $2500, US $179.86.

Within an hour another band of mongoose came by for eggs or…was it the same group that was here earlier?  These animals and others are very tricky in making us think they are a new batch of visitors!

Of course, there’s no required contract when buying “unlocked” phones to which one can add two separate SIM cards, one for voice, another for data.  Once I selected the phone I wanted as shown in the photo, the salesperson put my existing voice SIM card in the new phone and I was ready to pay.

Not unexpectedly, their credit card machine didn’t work (this happened years ago at this same location when we tried to buy data) so Tom headed to the neighboring bank’s ATM for the cash. 


In the interim, the store’s tech guy showed up and got the handheld credit card processing device to finally process my credit card purchase.  We can always use the extra Tom got from the ATM, so it was no big deal.

My new smartphone purchased yesterday at the Vodacom store in Komatipoort.

Actually, this happens a lot here.  After all, this is Africa, not the USA and services don’t always work as expected, seamlessly and without complications.  Networks are often down, electricity is often down and packages don’t arrive as anticipated.

Our package containing hundreds of dollars of supplies, shipped from the US on May 28th has yet to arrive.  Dear Louise has taken over the daunting task of getting the package sent to Marloth Park. 

The postal service has acknowledged it has arrived in Pretoria after successfully going through customs.  We’ve called no less than 10 times seeking an answer.  But the language barrier has been an obstacle that seems to have impeded the conversations when we did manage to get someone on the line.  We’ll see how it rolls out, posting the results here.

Last night, our next door neighbors, staying in the house for two, stopped by for happy hour.  We had a great time with Lydia and her son Jody from Amsterdam.

When we returned to the house, we put away the groceries after which I finished and uploaded the day’s post.  I was anxious to get my new phone up and running with all my favorite apps.

The process went as smoothly as I hoped and within a few hours, the new phone was loaded with all my information and apps.  Although I rarely make a phone call on the smartphone, I usually use it for the same types of mindless drivel most people do. It was a relief to have this handled.

Last night, tourists from Amsterdam who are renting the house next door, joined us for sundowners on our veranda.  With the outdoor heater on low, we were able to stay comfortable at the big table.  We had a great time with Lydia and Jordy and have already connected in Facebook.

There’s a tinge of green developing in the bush after on and off drizzling over the past few days.  This little bit of rain can be so beneficial for the grazing wildlife.

Tonight, we’re invited to dinner at friend’s Uschi and Evan’s home.  We have no doubt this will be another enjoyable evening in the bush.  Still, the wildlife visitor count is low and we’re looking forward to Monday when the tourist traffic thins out and our animals friends return to our garden.

Have a fabulous summer weekend for some and winter weekend for those of us in this side of the world!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2017:

One year ago today we booked the Protea Hotel in Buenos Aires where we stayed while awaiting the cruise to Antarctica.  The nightly rate included this breakfast.  We ate the eggs, cheese and meats only, no cereals, milk, pastries or fruit.  For more details, please click here.

My boys…What can I say?…It’s a glorious day in the bush!”…A few more Kruger photos…

We waited patiently as the giraffe made her way across the dirt road in Kruger.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

There he is…Scar Face has returned after a three-week hiatus. 

 With Louise, Danie and her parents coming for dinner tomorrow night, I decided to work on a bit of food prep this morning.  I had a late start after actually sleeping until 7:30 am, a rarity for me.  Tom was up at 5:30, as usual, unable to sleep any longer.

Greeting the balmy day couldn’t have been more perfect.  The sun was shining, the temperature was ideal and a slight breeze wafted through the air every so often.  Now, at noon, the perfect weather continues.

It’s looking better but it may take awhile longer for his injury to completely heal.

Of course, our day has been brightened further by the arrival of one group of visitors after another; Miss Kudu and baby; Mrs. Warthog, auntie and two babies; a couple of dozen helmeted guinea fowl; and then…pure delight.
 
At around 9:30 am, Tom called out to me while I was busy in the kitchen, to immediately come outside.  I was anxious to get out any way to begin working on today’s overdue post which I always do sitting at the big table on the veranda enjoying the sights and sounds of nature along with whatever visitors come to grace us with their presence.  Mornings are particularly busy.

Often, when animals in the wild are injured, they seem to know how to take care of themselves without intervention from humans.
I wiped my wet hands on the legs of my jeans, as I rushed outdoors, unsure of what to expect, anticipating that Tom was summoning me to see birds at the old bushbaby stand which we’re now using as a bird feeder, since we purchased a new bushbaby stand a few days ago from Daisy’s Den.

My heart stopped in my chest when there stood Scar Face, as Tom said, “Your boy is back!”  I literally squealed like a pig myself when I saw him.  He and I made our usual penetrating eye contact.  Oh, how I’d love to know what he’s thinking.

Its always a joy to see zebras whether here in Marloth Park or in Kruger.

Most likely he was hungry and was looking for apples, pellets and perhaps a few carrots.  (Warthogs are finicky about carrots.  Some like them, others do not).  Scar Face will eat a few. 


Luckily, yesterday after a shopping trip to Komatipoort and Lebombo (where there’s a market with the best carrots anywhere) we purchased plenty of carrots and apples some of which I’d already cut up. (Thanks, Louise for your help in the carrot matter). I grabbed the bowl from the refrigerator anxious to get back out to him.

A face only a mother could love!

Tom and I stood on the veranda tossing handfuls of apples and pellets to Scar Face while he voraciously devoured them as quickly as we could toss them out.  With the holiday season over for now and many homeowners off to other lands, it could have been days since he’d had much food other than his usual foraging.

With winter approaching and little rain, the pickings are slim for many of the animals and they surely appreciate a hand out of pellets, fruits, and veggies from whoever happens to be around.

Each time we enter Kruger we see at least one elephant, oftentimes many more.  We never tire of seeing the magnificent beasts or another other wildlife for that matter.


Why we hadn’t seen him since a week before we left for Zambia (we were gone one week) and now back a full week as of today, we’ll never know.  Maybe he came by while we were gone and gave up when we weren’t here.

Its impossible to read the minds of wildlife and although they’re “creatures of habit” like us humans, their patterns may be inconsistent as they wander through the 3000 hectares (11.58 square miles) that consist of this unique and magical conservancy where animals roam free.

Cape buffalo resting in the vegetation in Kruger.

He looked better although it will take many more months for his injury to fully heal.  He seemed otherwise healthy and when he was done eating and heard a noise in the bush, he took off an amazing pace. (Warthogs can run at a pace of 55 km, 35 miles per hour when chased by a lion).

Hopefully, now that he sees we’re here, he’ll return as regularly as he had the first months we were here.  Gosh, it’s so easy to become attached to these animals even when we don’t touch them or interact with them as we would a pet in our home. 

This is a female giraffe based on the hair on her ossicones which males do not have.

These are not pets.  They’re wild animals and although some have become used to humans in “their” territory, they still behave as wild animals.  It would be unwise and unfair to them to attempt to “domestic them.”  Doing so could ultimately result in their eventual demise.

Some disagree with feeding the wildlife.  We understand this concept.  However, many residents of Marloth Park have been providing pellets and/or vegetables and fruit to them for decades and they’re continued to thrive.  We’ve followed suit especially when we see the vegetation drying up as winter rolls in.

Tom’s hair had become unruly prompting him to get another haircut sooner than usual.

On Wednesday, Tom had his hair cut and is thrilled with the result.  Yesterday, as mentioned above, we headed to Lebombo and Komatipoort to shop for groceries, buy pellets at Obaro, stop at the pharmacy for a few items and see Dr. Theo for our appointment for more vaccinations.  More on this in tomorrow’s post.

He had it cut right here in Marloth Park at a busy salon near Daisy’s Den where we buy birdseed and other items.

Today, we’ll stay put while we continue to prep for tomorrow evening’s dinner party.  It will be fun to meet Louise’s parents and to share great conversation and good food and wine!

May your day be filled with happy surprises!

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Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2017:

Sun filtering through the tall trees at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s haircut in Costa Rica…

Tom prior to his haircut on Friday.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Yesterday, this pair of Inca Doves landed on the veranda railing and posed for our liking.  These pretty birds mate for life and spending considerable time preening one another’s gorgeous feathers that appear to be small scales.

Tom often calculates when he’ll need his next haircut based on the date of the next cruise rather than the length of his hair.  It makes me laugh.  Of course, he prefers to look “tidy” when we’ll be around other people, in the same way, I always do my nails and pedicure prior to cruising.

He was seated in a chair moments after we arrived.

In this particular case, with slightly over six weeks until we board the ship, his timing may have been off slightly.  He won’t need another haircut for another three months.  His haircut in Costa Rica was a palty US $6.97 (CRC 4000) including a 25% tip..

In Spanish, we explained what number adapter to use on the electric clippers.

As we’ve traveled the world over this past five years (anniversary upcoming on October 31st), we’ve found his haircut appointment to be a thing of great amusement, for us anyway.  From his first haircut in Placencia Belize in early 2013 where he sat under a tree as shown in the photo below:

In  Placencia Belize, the barbershop was outdoors when Tom had his first haircut outside the US in 2013.  The cost of this haircut was US $12.50 (CRC 7172).  See the full story here.

Another haircut we easily recall was in November 2015 in Savusavu Fiji as shown in this photo below  including the cost:

In Savusavu Fiji, Tom explained his haircut preference to Kumar, who listened intently to ensure he got it right. The cost of this haircut excluding the tip was US $1.85 (CRC 1061.41) but Tom added an almost 50% tip at US $.93 (CRC 533.59) for a grand total of US $2.78 (CRC 1505).  Tipping is not expected or required in Fiji but Kumar was thrilled over the tiny tip.  Click here for this post.

From time to time I look down at my toes and long for a professional pedicure.  However, I’ve found bending and stretching to do my own is not only cost-effective but also good for one’s flexibility.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue to do my own pedicures for a very long time

The stylist used scissors to fine tune the cut.

While in Kauai Hawaii in 2015, I tried cutting Tom’s hair with the electric trimmer but he wasn’t thrilled with the result.  We laughed through the entire process which surely contributed to my not-so-steady hand.  I’m good at cutting my own hair but not so much for him.  Based on the low cost in most countries it makes no sense for him to have a botched job like my feeble attempt.

In no time at all, he was done, happy with the result.  She used a #6 adapter.

Yesterday, for the first time in many days we were able to get some sun and tentatively use the pool.  When there’s a power outage the timer for the pool shuts off and comes back on when the power is restored. In this case it was off for ten hours resulting in the most ice-cold pool we’ve ever used. 

There was a steady stream of customers while we were there.

Tom dove into the pool while I walked in.  The ice cold water was too much for him and he got out immediately. I walked in staying for only five minutes when a cloud cover made me shiver all the more.  A short time later Marian showed up with maintenance guy, Julio who reset the pool’s heating system so it would run during the day.

The salon is Aberto Pase Adelante located next door to the Macrobiotica (health food) store.  It’s owned by a Columbian family, many of whom work on site.

Marian was here to go over some maintenance with Julio and to inspect the tree trimming process.  It’s always amazing to us to the high-level maintenance for this lovely property in order to keep it in pristine condition.  We don’t have a complaint in the world.

We hope you have a complaint-free day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2016:

While in Sumbersari Bali, one year ago, at that point we hadn’t seen such flooding since we lived in Minnesota many moons ago.  We took this shot from the front of the villa.  For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s US haircut…Disappointing?..Prices throughout the world….Another family outing today and fun evening tonight with friends…

Maisie and Tom in front of Cost Cutters.  We arrived at 10:30 am but had to wait for the late arriving employee.

Tom’s had haircuts all over the world, from his first in Belize in 2013 to his most recent in Fairlight, (Sydney) Australia with another a few days ago here at a Cost Cutters located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. 

He’s paid from a low of US $1.85  (plus a $.93 tip) in Savusavu, Fiji in 2015 (as shown in the photo below) to a high of US $32.74 (plus a $5.00 tip) in Singapore in 2016.  The price for Cost Cutter’s was US $15.50 (plus a $3.00 tip).

As indicated in the photos, the cost of the cut seems to have little bearing on the quality of the haircut.  Honestly, with much trepidation, I think the Cost Cutter’s cut was the least desirable in appearance. 

The recent cutting accuracy was fine but the styling was lacking and Tom’s having a heck of a time keeping me from teasing him about it.  I try to keep my trap shut but it’s nearly impossible every time we get under the bright lights of the elevator in the hotel.

In Fiji, the hot, humid weather inspired Tom to go for the shortest cut he’d ever had. Here’s the odd part…the cost…for the haircut taking almost 20 minutes, it cost a paltry FJD $4, USD $1.85!  Tom left another FJD $2, USD $.93 tip which Kumar greatly appreciated. See this link from November 5, 2015.

He politely reminded me that he never teases about my hair or wardrobe.  Although on occasion, if my lipstick is smudged or something else is askew, he’ll kindly point it out that it needs immediate attention.  I appreciate his observations.

When we were on a cruise ship early in the year and he pointed out that a piece of TP was hanging out of the bottom of my shorts, I certainly appreciated it, while turning around and wondering how many people had noticed that.

Years ago, my friend Lynda and I were at a wedding and a man in a lime green leisure suit came out of the restroom with a long stream of toilet paper attached to his shoe.  Lynda and I had to leave the area due to our uncontrollable laughter. 

At the time, after I mentioned his embarrassment, she said: “No one will ever remember this.”  But, here I am 40 years later and I still remember his lime green suit and stream of toilet paper.  Now, more mature, I’d have pointed it out to him rather than let him return to the reception hall in such a state.

In Singapore, a cut by a stylist in a pricey salon was the only option.  The haircut was SGD $44, US $32.74 which included a 20% discount and was more than he’s paid anywhere in the world thus far. Click here for the link from that post. 

However, Tom’s haircut is certainly not comparable to the TP incidents.  Although, each time I look his way, I can’t help but giggle.  He keeps “giving me the look” reminding me to cease the relentless observations along with the comments.  I’ll see what I can do.  Sometimes, we just have to laugh.


As for activities over the past 24 hours…Tom, Tammy, and Vincent attended Vincent’s gun safety certification ceremony at his camp after which the three of them took off for lunch at Chipotle (Vincent’s favorite) and then to see the movie, Wonder Woman.  As mentioned, I’d already seen it with Maisie and stayed behind to work on a few things.

 
When Tammy offered to drive and return Tom to the hotel at the end of their day, Tom tossed me the keys to the red SUV and there I was without any specific plans and an afternoon to myself.  How odd.
 
After uploading the post, I dropped off my laptop in our room, filled my mug with Crystal Light iced tea and ice (I can now drink more liquids as my gastrointestinal issues have improved) and headed out the door.  Forget the idea of staying in the room to work on Tom’s clothes.  I was a woman-on-a-mission.

Tom, before his haircut on Thursday.

First, I headed to one of my favorite store from my old life, Old Navy, to find a few tank tops, knowing that the skimpier the better would be ideal for heat in Marloth Park upcoming in eight months. 

I remember sitting on the veranda in the scorching heat and humidity all day waiting for “visitors” wearing tee shirts with short sleeves wishing I had tank tops.  Although I don’t wear tank tops in public (too old for such skimpiness), they’re useful when we’re by ourselves in hot weather. 

Well, not surprisingly, I was able to purchase seven good quality tanks for a total of $46.  Wow!  What a deal!  I’d never find such a bargain outside the US.
Next, I headed to TJ Maxx to purchase some type of cover-up for the cool evenings on upcoming cruises. 

The modern salon finally opened while we waited.

I didn’t want to buy a bulky space-hogging sweater but found a lightweight roll-in-a-ball cover up that will help keep me warm in the chilly AC on ships.  At $15, I was thrilled to have found the perfect solution. Then I was off to my final destination, a quick stop at a Lunds/Byerly’s grocery store (they merged since we left) to buy more heavy cream for my coffee and an appetizer to bring to tonight’s party at friend Sue’s home.


Before entering the market, I called my sister Susan in Las Vegas to tell her we’d be arriving in a mere three weeks.  As always, it was wonderful to hear her voice.  Speaking through the navigation system in the red SUV, we chatted for over an hour, anticipating seeing one another soon with sheer delight.

Finally, we said goodbye and I headed into the market for the few items I needed.  I couldn’t recall the last time I shopped in a grocery store without being concerned that Tom was waiting for me outside while sitting on a bench or in a rental car. 

Tom didn’t want a buzz cut this time.  With temps predicted at 120F (48.8C) in Las Vegas this upcoming week, a buzz cut may have been ideal.

He’s never rushed me when I’ve shopped but I’ve always been mindful and considerate that he was waiting.  Most recently, in Fairlight, Australia, not only was Tom waiting but so was Bob, our delightful landlord, who always insisted on taking us grocery shopping during our six weeks in his holiday home.  During that period,  I had two kindly men waiting for me to get done, with nary a complaint.

As I was nearing the hotel, I rang Tom to discover he’d returned to the hotel after his day with Tammy and Vincent.  Upon hearing he and Vincent shared one of those giant popcorn buckets during the movie, I didn’t say a word about when we’d go out to eat.  I knew he wouldn’t feel hungry for quite awhile.

The final product resulted in a neat trim but the styling wasn’t quite as good as usual.

By 6:30 pm, we were back in the red SUV heading to the same restaurant we’d visited several nights ago, Avenida, a fusion Mexican/Asian establishment with very good food.  Tom had the Asian and I had the Mexican, modified to my diet.

Back at the hotel, we lounged and watched two episodes of Scandal.  By 10:45 we dosed off for a good night’s sleep.  Today, at noon, we’re meeting Greg and the grandkids at the annual St. Louis Park Parktacular event.  Later in the day, at 4:00 pm, we’re off to friend Sue’s new home and the gathering she’s put together for our benefit. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of this busy day.  Enjoy your weekend as well!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2016:
This group of cute Balinese kids stopped for a photo with their white horse.  For more details please click here.

Tom’s haircut in Penguin…A visit to yesteryear in a historical barbershop…



Linda, the barbershop owner and sole employee and Tom, before his haircut.

Tom hadn’t had a haircut since August while we were in Phuket, Thailand over four months ago.  His hair was unruly and difficult to manage.  It was time for another buzz cut.

The front entrance to Zvoni’s Barbershop, owned by Terry’s sister Linda.

Of course, we decided to visit the shop in downtown Penguin owned by friend/landlord Terry’s sister Linda who’d purchased the historical shop eleven years ago from the former owner Zvoni, who’d owned it for 40 years.

Although the shop was filled with supplies and memorabilia, it was spotlessly clean, well prepared for men’s, women’s and children’s haircuts.

Not surprisingly, the shop was filled with memorabilia each with a story, most of which Linda was well acquainted after her years of ownership as the sole proprietor and employee. 

Postcards, letters and articles received over the years.

If Linda’s out, the shop is closed which is seldom.  Other than Sunday’s and holidays, Linda is always on hand to tend to the haircutting and styling needs of local residents and visitors.

The shop has uses two antique barber chairs, over 80 years old, made in America.

Its ironic how each barbershop we’ve visited throughout the world, whether a traditional shop in Singapore as in this post or a haircut outside under a tree, long ago in Belize as shown in this post and photo below, has its own unique history and we’ve looked forward to each experience.

Tom’s haircut under a tree in Belize in March, 2013.  The barber had no official shop but had access to a electric outlet in a nearby building.  For the rest of this story, please click here.
Each barbershop or salon has had its own story to tell as did Linda’s which proved to be interesting enough to be included in a Time Magazine article about Australia’s hidden treasures, presented about 10 years ago during a publication highlighting Australia.

Linda has several glass enclosed displays of various antique barber tools and equipment.

We can only imagine how excited Linda must have been to have a story about her and her shop published in this well known magazine and what a boon for business and tourism in this quaint town of Penguin.

The Time Magazine issue about Australia included the story as shown below of Linda’s barbershop, Zvonie (named after the former owner).


Time Magazine’s article about Linda and the barbershop published approximately 10 years ago. 

I wish we’d had more time to talk to Linda but business comes first.  She had another customer waiting for his haircut.  Beside the excellent haircut, we both reveled in the simplicity of the experience which was rich in its 80 year history and originality offered by diligent owners both in the past and today, with Linda in charge.

When Linda directed me to this photo, I gasped to see her with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip asking how she managed to get this photo.  I got suckered!  This photo was taken at the London wax museum!

If you plan to visit Penguin or its surrounding towns, waiting to get a haircut until you arrive in Penguin will add one more memorable event to your experience at this special little shop, owned, managed and run by one more special individual we’ve been fortunate to meet in Penguin, Linda Murphy.


Tom, with a new buzz cut.
Soon, we’re off and about for an exciting adventure.  We’ll be back tomorrow with photos and details.  Have a beautiful day!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 5, 2016:


One year ago, we stayed at a hotel across the street from the pier where our ship awaited us.  It was raining hard and we decided to talk a taxi rather than haul our bags in the rain.  For two other cruises later in the year, Tom hauled to bags to the pier and we simply walked across the street and down these steps to check in.  For more details, please click here.

Today, Tom talks…To mustache or not to mustache?

Tom with the beard and mustache.

When I asked Tom if he’d write a post, he declined. Its just not his thing.  Oh sure, he writes wordy quips at Cruise Critic asking and answering questions about particular cruises, having built himself quite a reputation as an active contributor on their boards.

Clean shaven for the first time since we were in Barcelona Spain, sitting in a café across from Segrada Familia.  See photo below.

Then, of course, he spews endless comments and observations on Facebook, often keeping him busy for hours.  But, write a post?  That’s not so much in his wheelhouse, so he says.


Tom, the last time he didn’t have a mustache in May, 2013.  We were at a café across the street from Segrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s an active participant in what I have to say in our daily posts by  researching, fact checking and proof reading each post immediately after its uploaded.  Then, upon his suggestions, I edit each inconsistency he catches to reload the post once again. 

Its a good system.  Writing a post every day, at times rushing through it to get on with our plans, is a breeding ground for errors and I certainly make my fair share.  Its a rare occasion that he doesn’t catch at least one mistake. 

We dined in a traditional Italian restaurant in the walled city of Lucca in July, 2013.  Note Tom’s Fu Manchu mustache.  I still laugh over this photo when I know this look was all about the fact that he wasn’t thrilled about the pizza menu that didn’t have all of his favorite toppings.

There are numerous situations when neither of us has noticed an error and a year later one of us stumbles across it.  Immediately, I take action to make the corrections.  Its an ongoing process that will never end as long as we continue with our story.

As for Tom’s story, in person, you’d have no trouble getting it out of him as any of his/our friends out there can attest.  He’s a great conversationalist and fun to engage in conversation.  He’s well read with an opinion on almost any topic that comes to light.

After unsuccessfully prodding him to tell me what he’d like to say here, I decided my only option would be to interview him and post his answers, in his words, exactly as he responded.  Here we go:

Pretty carvings in the hotel in Kuta.

Are you enjoying traveling the world? 
“Yes, it’s even better than I’d anticipated”

What is your least favorite aspect of traveling?
“Airports; arriving many hours early, the long lines, the schedules with layovers, the delays and all the other BS.”

What part of traveling the world do you enjoy the most?
“The weather…being away from ice and snow.”

When you look back over the experiences of these past four years, what has been your favorite?
“The next one.”

Of your upcoming plans, which do look forward with the greatest enthusiasm?
“Of course, seeing family and friends in Minnesota.  As for our continuing journey, experiencing places we’ve never seen and, meeting the locals.”

Flower arrangement in the hotel in Kuta.

You often mention how much you love cruising?  What is it about cruising that appeals to you?
“Relaxing.  Its a greats means of transportation.  Meeting new people , making new friends and the bread.  I can eat like a normal person on a cruise!”

What do you like least about cruising?
“The muster drill on embarkation day.”

How do you feel when getting settled into a new vacation home?
“Pleasantly surprised when there’s comfortable furniture and bed.  Happy if we don’t have to purchase bottled water.  Looking forward to checking out the area.”

What food concerns do you have in a new location?
“Will they have the ingredients to make our pizza?  Do they have streaky pork bacon?”

Flowers in standing bowl in hotel.

What items do you find lacking in a vacation home that you wished were always available?
“Good Wi-Fi, an electric coffee maker and a flat screen TV we can use to plug in the HDMI cord.”

How long does it take you to pack?
“It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to pack.  I seldom unpack my entire suitcase.  I take out underwear, shorts, tee shirts and swimming trunks.  The rest stays in the bag.”

How do you feel about renting cars and driving in other countries?
“The turn signal and wipers are on the opposite side of the steering column than I’m used to.  Every time I go to use the turn signal, I turn on the wipers.  We laugh every time!”

What booked plans for the future are the most exciting to you?
“The upcoming Alaskan cruise in May, 2017; a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Chile in November, 2017 when we’ll traverse the Panama Canal, a second time (since 2013) to see the new locks; a cruise we’ve booked that sails around the southern tip of South America (Cape Horn) in December, 2017: and of course, the Antarctica cruise in January, 2018.

Precious statue near the hotel pool.

Is there anywhere you’ve lived in these past four years that you didn’t enjoy?
“Marrakech, Morocco, two weeks would have been plenty, not two and a half months.  The house and staff were great but we felt trapped living inside the souks.  Didn’t like the spicy food.”

Do you ever think about stopping this year’s long journey?..
“No, it never enters my mind.  In this crazy world, we’d better hurry to see everything we want to see.  Who knows what the future holds?”

Why did you shave the beard and the mustache?
“The beard was just a fluke to see if I could grow one. I found out I could.  At night it was irritating on the pillow. When it needed a trim it was too difficult to do so I shaved off the beard and also the mustache. Jess likes me either way.”

There it is folks, all Tom has to say for now.  Perhaps we can do this more often.  I know many of our readers are curious as to what he thinks about living this peculiar life.  Feel free to inquire by email or via comments at the end of any post.

Have a great day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2015:

Rasnesh took this photo of us in from of the Vuadomo Waterfall.  We were hot and sweaty but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

 

Tom’s short haircut in Phuket…Winding down for tomorrow’s departure…Final Phuket expenses tomorrow…



Shorter than he’d normally prefer, Tom’s latest buzz cut will hold him through the 33 night cruise beginning on October 31st.

Tom needed a haircut before we left Phuket.  There’s a little salon at the end of the road where it meets the major highway.  We’d driven passed it many times and he thought that might be a good spot for his much needed haircut.

The plan was to have a buzz cut that would be perfect by the time we were ready to board the 33 night cruise upcoming on October 31st.  Little did we know he’d get the best buzz cut he’s had since the onset of our travels.

When we drove up to the tiny salon we asked if someone was available.  A young woman, named Seven, was ready to get to work on his hair.  We asked for the price of the haircut in advance. Her associate Maw, spoke very little English but she understood when we asked about “how many bahts.”

The exterior of the nearby tiny spa and salon.

Maw explained the cost of a men’s haircut is THB $150, US $4.34.  In Singapore, where he had his last haircut, the cost was considerably higher at US $32.74, THB $1,134 (after a 20% discount for new customers) and the quality of the cut was only a fraction of the quality as compared to yesterday’s meticulous cut. 

The attention to detail was flawless as Seven spent no less than 40 minutes cutting his hair using both scissors and an electric hair trimmer.  She was gracious when he included a 35% tip.  (Tipping isn’t common in Thailand and any amount tendered is appreciated with a hands-pressed-together-bow-of-the-head).

After the haircut we took off for the pharmacy which can be found in Phuket  every five or six blocks when driving along the main roads.  We decided to stop at the same tiny store we’d visited a few times in the past for hydrogen peroxide, Tylenol and contact lens solution.

Tom removed his glasses, closed his eyes and the 40 minute cut began.

This could prevent us from having to make yet another stop (beside the supermarket) on the four or five hour harrowing drive from the hotel in Bali to the villa in Sumbersari. 

Pharmacies in most countries are just that…they carry medicinal items only; no mascara, no shampoo and no razor blades.  Most supermarkets don’t carry most of these items either requiring travelers must be well stocked  with such toiletries and supplies when staying in the more remote areas.

During the cut, I asked him to open his eyes and smile for a photo.

Also, we should mention that pharmacies in many countries do not carry commonly prescribed medications one easily finds in the US, Australia, Europe and other parts of the world.  Its best to bring enough of any necessary medications in one’s carry on bags (along with a copy of prescriptions) in the event of lost luggage.

Having found each of the three items we needed, we made our way back to our villa.  It was raining hard and we saw no reason to be driving any further than necessary with the poorly working windshield wipers in the less-than-stellar rental car. 

Seven analyzes Tom’s hair for his buzz cut.

We giggled over how little fuel we’ve used in the rental car when we filled it upon arrival.  Of course, my desire to stay close to “home” while recovering contributed to this fact.

Today, we’ll finish packing with only a few items we’re still using yet to be added to the bags.  Tom will place everything by the front door so we’ll be ready to head out first thing in the morning. 

The interior of the salon area was no larger than a medium sized RV or caravan.  A massage area was located in a back room we didn’t see.

Hopefully, we’ll both sleep well tonight.  We have a tendency to toss and turn on nights before departure, especially when we have to use an alarm to ensure we’re up on time.  Invariably, I awaken before the alarm goes off.

Tomorrow, the post with our final expenses for the 41 days in Phuket which we’re preparing today will automatically upload in time for your usual viewing.  Please keep in mind that these total expenses are lower than we’d expected when we spent little during my convalescence.  Dining out, boat tours and other tourist activities would have increased the total costs. 

Coconut shells stored on the side of this building near the salon.  Coconut shells may be used to make charcoal which is used as fuel.  See here for details.

When we commence the long drive to the villa another new post will upload.  As a result, no daily posts will be missed during the two day’s of traveling.

We’re looking forward to the dinner the two Katuks which will have waiting for us upon our arrival around 5 or 6 pm.  We’re both anticipating their happy faces, their fine food and again seeing Gede, the house man and Ribud, the pool guy. Of course, seeing the buffaloes walking along the beach during dinner makes us smile as well.

Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2015:

The view of Double Island and Scout Island are a pleasant beginning to any day in Trinity Beach.  For more photos as we began our final week in Australia please click here.