More than we expected of Vietnam, fascination, awe and wonder…It has it all…Where does familiarity fall into the mix?

This, dear readers, so much bespeaks Vietnam in today’s world.

Yesterday afternoon, when we took off on foot from the hotel, we were excited to be walking.  With the cruise officially starting tomorrow, I needed to get out walking to test how I’d do on the many upcoming treks over the next two weeks.

The street are packed with locals, drinking famous Vietnamese coffee, tea while happily commiserating among friends.

Determined to be able to participate fully, we decided to walk until I couldn’t take another step which lasted nearly two hours.  Not only was exercise my mission but capturing as many possible photos to share here was on my mind.

Vendor cooking on the street with the barest of essentials.

It was raining off and on during the entire walk although at no point were we soaked.  There were plenty of overhangs and trees to shelter us during the downpours.  We continued on when each block we explored provided its own unique flavor of Vietnam.

There are over 5 million motorbikes in Hanoi.  Walking across any road is challenging.

The sights, the sounds and the smells of lemongrass wafting through the air created a unique persona unlike any we’ve experience anywhere else in the world. 

Colorful lanterns, balls, balloons and toys line the streets.

As we’ve begun to explore Southeast Asia in our worldwide travels, no doubt these assaults to our senses will become more familiar and less intoxicating.  You know how it is…familiarity…well, in this case it doesn’t “breed contempt” as the saying goes. 

Folding cut paper art.

For us, it instills a familiarity that we incorporate into the vast experiences we glean in this special life we’ve chosen to live.  Now, that I’m  feeling better and hopeful again for the future, I’ve become philosophical in the enormity of it all. 

We stopped in a tiny shop to find grandma aka, Bà nội  (in Vietnames) asleep on the floor.

This morning after breakfast on the elevator back up to our floor, Tom picked a tiny bit of food out of my hair and said, “I can’t take you anywhere!”  In a flash, he added, “But I take you everywhere!”

Vegetable in the basket of a shopper’s bicycle.

We both laughed over his usual instantaneous wit and…the irony of it all.  We ask ourselves, “What are we doing in Vietnam in a five star hotel having the time of our lives…once again?”  We’ll never become too familiar with the excitement and adventure to ever take it for granted.

Eggs tied the a motorbike handle for a hopefully safe trip home.

Last night during happy hour/buffet dinner in the Club Lounge we met a fabulous couple, Sally and Richard and their lovely teenage daughter Isabel, originally from the UK, currently living in Singapore, also with vast world travel experience.  We joined them at their big booth for an outrageously delightful evening.

A Hoan Kiem lake and park across the road.

Within moments of engaging in light conversation, we all clicked and magic happened.  The complimentary cocktails flowed (iced tea for me) along with the laughter and endless animated chatter. 

Ho Chi Minh artistic piece on an office building

It couldn’t have been more fun!  We’re planning to do the same again this evening, if time allows for all of us.  If not, we leave behind one more memorable night in our ever growing repertoire of social interactions we’ll always treasure.

Many large beautiful trees remain in Hanoi.

Add what we’re finding so far during this short period in Hanoi and we’ll leave with a happy heart even before the cruise actually begins.  Tonight at 5 pm, we’ll attend a Viking cruise meeting to get our bearings including a description of the itinerary and activities over the next many days.  With a maximum of only 60 passengers on the entire cruise/tour, it should be enjoyable in many ways.

An old woman selling fruit on the street.

We’ll be back with more photos tomorrow with an update on the timing for future posts based on the upcoming cruise/tour schedule. 

May familiarity enhance your day in many ways.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2015:

A year ago today, we posted this photo of Nash’s remaining fuzz  which didn’t deter him from being ready to fledge out to sea.  Only five months old, he’d yet to shed his chick fluff but the dark lined eyes were very grown up.  Our friends in Kauai sent us videos of the  actual which we missed having left before the momentous events.  For more photos and videos, please click here.

One week from today…Leaving Kauai!…A long haul in Paradise…Tom’s funny expression…Thrills?

Our favorite bird aptly named Birdie, lives in our yard with his significant other, waiting for us when we open the blinds in the morning and looking at us as we have dinner each night.

It’s hard to believe that we’d make a comment about being in paradise for too long. How can that be?

Looking back, we could have spent less time in Hawaii.  Good grief, we’ve been here for eight months, certainly long enough. At the time we booked the long stay we had two reasons to be in Hawaii; one, our family coming to Big Island for Christmas, and two, taking the cruise to Australia on May 24th from Honolulu. 

The waning sun at the overlook.

Those two reasons resulted in these required extra months with the remainder on the front end in Honolulu/Waikiki, Maui, and Big Island.

For some odd reason, we assumed time in the US would be useful while doing US-type things; doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and some arbitrary paperwork which we’ve discovered we can easily do while living in other countries. We’ve never had the doctor appointments (other than my recent illness which is slightly improved again today) or the dentist appointments we’d planned. We hope to do this in Australia.

The overlook last evening.
We’ve learned a valuable lesson to never spend a straight, four months in any one location. It’s just too long for us.  We aren’t staying long enough in any one location to feel totally settled in and we aren’t leaving soon enough to give us that feeling of excitement and adventure we both so crave.

Not to contradict ourselves, we must admit that we’re booked in Bali for four months total but, in two separate two-month stints, separated by over two months. Hopefully, that will work out well for us. But, let’s face it, whatever the circumstances, overall we always have a good time, even if the only friends we made were the household help, the non-English speaking butcher at the meat market, or if available nearby, the property owner or manager.

A miniature orchid, smaller than a dime, growing along the railing at the overlook.

We’ve managed to do well without a living room only sitting outdoors all day in 100-degree heat (38C); living in countries where no one speaks English and we never made friends; living in Marrakech a year ago in the confines of the riad, the souk and the Big Square with little else to do and now this extended period in Hawaii. 

It’s like everything else in life, too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. Tom has an expression he uses from time to time: “The most beautiful woman you’ve ever laid eyes on, there’s some guy who’s sick and tired of her “sh_ _!” He always qualifies it by saying that it goes both ways when I eyeball an adorable muscular 20 something at the beach. 

This yellow flower is not much bigger to the eye than a pea. Zooming in to capture its beauty is exhilarating.

This always makes me laugh out loud including moments ago when I asked him to repeat it. This comment reminds me that no matter how beautiful and friendly Hawaii has been it’s not perfect for us for the long haul. 

Why are we living this crazy life anyway? We could say to enrich our knowledge and experience by exploring various parts of the world. We could say to expand our personal horizons in this final hurrah of our lives to become more well rounded. We could say it’s to stretch ourselves beyond the confines of our previously pleasant but mundane lifestyle.

A colorful sunset.
The reality? I say this with a little bit of trepidation over a possible backlash from the few naysayers and haters that lurk out there. WE DO IT FOR THE THRILL!

Yes, there is a thrill in stretching oneself beyond our limits; a 4×4 day-long adventure in the mountains of Iceland; cruising through pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden with specials forces on board; sitting in a tiny vehicle with 25 elephants blocking the road; dining at night in the bush with armed guards to protect us; standing outside for an hour and a half in the pouring rain in Versailles with no umbrella and yet a smile on our faces; taking the strenuous long trek to Petra to see The Treasury; chasing a fish truck up the steep road to ultimately catch it and buy an entire yellowfin tuna to watch the fisherman fillet it with a machete. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Although this bloom appears to be a future flower its actually a growing leaf.

And then, there’s the joy and satisfaction of promoting local artists and businesses with positive reviews, stories, and photos posted here hoping that our worldwide readers will consider partaking of their services should they travel to their locations. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Then, the other piece, however repetitive it may be for our less than interested readers, sharing our way of eating with information, links, books, and recipes, hoping that one person along the way may be able to make it work for themselves, relieving pain, improving health or eventually getting off or reducing the need for medications. We do it for these kinds of thrills.

Pretty flowers on a bush near the albatross.

We’re ready to move on from beautiful, magical, friendly Kauai. It’s been heavenly living on the Garden Island.  We’ve made many wonderful friends at social events we’ll always remember. We’ve loved watching the hatching and growth of the Laysan Albatross, a bonus we never expected. And, of course, we loved Birdie and the Redheads who’ve visited us several times a day singing their songs in an attempt to successfully gain our attention.

We move on with a sense of freedom and adventure knowing we gave Kauai everything we had to give and Kauai, in return, bestowed its wonder upon us.

Happy Saturday, worldwide friends! Thanks for hanging in there with us during this extended stay in Hawaii.  Soon, the thrills will escalate…

                                              Photo from one year ago today, May 16, 2014:

It was one year ago today that we were on the move from Marrakech, Morocco to Madeira, Portugal which resulted in a much more lengthy travel time than expected. Tom and Samir are shown in this photo wheeling our luggage at the airport. For details, please click here.

What, no oven?…We made an error in booking a future rental…

Two intertwined white Hibiscus flowers.

In this past week, amid all of our busy days and nights, we realized it was time to start preparing for the upcoming trip to Australia and the South Pacific. In the process, we reviewed the upcoming rentals over the next year to see if there were any issues we needed to address.

Kauai always presents a beautiful mountain view.

Disappointed that we missed it during the booking process, we discovered that there is no oven in the first house in Fiji. There’s only a built-in stove top. How did we fail to notice this when we carefully read every detail before booking any property?

I suppose it was not unlike when we booked the house in Kenya, we didn’t think of asking if there was an indoor living room or lounge area or indoor sofa (there was not). 

Hanalei Beach is seen from one of the wraparound lanais at the St. Regis Hotel, where we often walk.

As a result of our failure to ask if there was a living room, we spent three full months from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm sitting outdoors on the screen-less veranda, getting bitten by mosquitoes and other insects, carefully stepping over poisonous centipedes seven days a week in scorching humid heat. (This proved to be a good thing when it toughened us up for the remaining almost nine months In Africa).

Who ever thought of asking if there’s a living room? (It was so hot and humid that the zippers on our luggage turned green). We now ask or verify in photos that there’s an indoor lounge, salon or living room. Lesson learned.

There’s always something burning in that area.  We aren’t certain what it is.

We booked Fiji after the no-living-room-situation in Kenya. In the fuzzy photos we could barely see a modern kitchen with a built-in stovetop assuming that there was an oven below. We also observed a microwave on the countertop assuming if there’s a microwave, surely there’s an oven We’d never discussed anything about an oven.

Lo and behold, a few days ago upon further inspection on the website, and based on the fact we’ll be moving into that particular property on September 8th, a mere 4½ months from now, we carefully inspected the listing to discover that there’s no oven, no toaster oven, no convection oven.

Savusavu villa rental - very spacious living room with fully equipped kitchen and dining of Villa B.B.
The kitchen in Fiji is along the back wall.  Its easy to see how we could have missed noticing if there was an oven or not by looking at this fuzzy photo.  We’ve never been in a property with a stove top but no oven. As a result we “assumed” if there was a stovetop, surely there would be an oven. We learn as we go.

For some travelers, not having an oven would be no big deal. However, spending 89 days in a single location cooking most of our meals, we need an oven. Plain and simple. Our way of eating requires considerable cooking in an oven.

View to the sea over African Tulip trees.

First step, rather than panicking was to contact the property manager Mario, to ask a few questions about the lack of an oven:
1.  What would the on-site cook charge us (its a resort) to come get our prepared items, bake them for us in whatever kitchen she uses to prepare meals for guests and return it, ready to be eaten?
2.  Is there a portable convection oven anywhere on the grounds that we could  use or have in our house for the 89 days?

Mario, a most thoughtful and helpful property manager, immediately went to work on coming up with a solution when I kindly asked for his assistance or suggestions.

Within 12 hours, Mario got back to me. He went to town and purchased a full-sized stove/oven which will be hooked up awaiting our arrival in September! We were both shocked and extremely pleased by his generosity and thoughtfulness.

View from several stories above this beach at the St. Regis Hotel. Tom has verbal slips, often referring to this as the St. Frances Hotel. His sister Beth is a nun and her order is the St. Frances. How that trips up his brain makes me laugh!

We never expected this amazing solution, nor would we have backed out of our commitment to end up booking somewhere else with an oven. The deposit we’d paid to date was only $300 and if we were different people, we may have forfeited the $300 and moved on. There are other rentals in Fiji.

Backing out is not our style. Mario had locked up that property for us over a year ago for our three-month stay.  Leaving them in the lurch just isn’t our style. 

We would have learned to cook everything on the stove top. I even went as far as looking online to see if there was a way to bake a low carb pizza or low carb muffins atop the stove. A microwave just won’t cut it. 

A bit of ocean, mountain and vegetation create an exquisite view.

We use an oven almost everyday for something; baked eggs muffins, Tom’s blueberry scones, a roast, a whole chicken (all low carb, starch, sugar, and grain-free) and on and on. It would have been very limiting. Plus, there’s no grill available on the property which would have been a difficult but acceptable alternative.

This kind of attention to detail and desire to please the customer doesn’t occur without the utmost of appreciation and gratefulness on our part. He didn’t even ask for a portion of the balance of the rent in order to buy the oven which isn’t due for several weeks. Wow!

We stopped for a moment to savor the view as we wandered through St. Regis Hotel.

Did we learn a new lesson? Most certainly. Added to our list of other items to verify in the future is now an oven. Here’s are some of our considerations for all of our rentals:

1.  Wireless broadband, directly in the property. TV not required.
2.  A living room with sofa and/or comfortable chairs. 
3.  Ceiling fans or if not available, air conditioning in the bedroom for hot nights (we’ve never used it here in Kauai).
4.  A full kitchen with an oven and stove top.  Dishwasher not necessary.  Microwave optional. 
5.  Ideally, an ocean view or other significant view if the property is located in the interior.
6.  A table and chairs or counter top area for dining. 
7.  A coffee pot, a large bowl, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and knives.
8.  Bath towels. Believe it or not, some properties advertise to “bring your own linen.” This doesn’t work for us. 
9.  Easy access to a washing machine. We don’t need a dryer, only a drying rack or clothesline. We prefer to avoid taking our laundry to a Laundromat.
10. Access to a grocery store within a 30-minute drive.
11. A parking spot if we have a rental car. (In Fiji, we’ll use a driver).
12. An outdoor area of some sort. A pool preferred, not necessary.
13. Access to a safe area for walks or walks along the beach.
14. A comfortable bed, preferably larger than double. In the past, we’ve managed with a double bed provided it has adequate pillows and comfortable, clean bedding. There’s no way to determine this until the first night’s sleep.  In these past few years, we’ve adapted to some horribly uncomfortable beds. If a problem arises, we don’t hesitate to address it with the property owner. In December, on the Big Island, the owner immediately replaced an awful bed and threadbare linen upon at our request.

The chandelier at St. Regis Hotel is not necessarily befitting this tropical environment.

Anything included beyond the above, is considered a bonus and in many cases when we’ve walked in the door of a new property, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by some extras we hadn’t expected; a laundry basket, cleaning supplies, a vacuum, a blender or an ice machine (as opposed to using ice cube trays which is most often the case).

When we look back at all the abundance in our old lives such as possessing every kitchen gadget known to woman/man or TV’s with DVRs, high definition all access cable channels, or comfortable chaise lounges on a sunny patio or an outdoor table and chairs with an umbrella, it’s easy to see how much we have changed.

View across an indoor water display at St. Regis Hotel.

We’ve lowered our expectations, not only in what amenities we’ll expect in a vacation home that we rent for a period of time or, in a hotel for one night or, even at a restaurant. There’s nothing more satisfying than a pleasant surprise.

On the other hand, we make every effort to prepare ourselves for potential disappointments by figuring out workarounds rather than whining and complaining for two to three months. 

These commonly seen bright balls grow on various palm trees as future leaves, not always flowers.

I’ll send this post to Mario to ensure he realizes how much we appreciate what he’s done for us and how much it means to our level of enjoyment and comfort while in Fiji. Thank you, Mario. We look forward to meeting you and Tatjana in September.

Have a thought-provoking Tuesday filled with solutions for what may keep you awake at night. I only had to think about an oven in the middle for one night, thanks to Mario.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2014:

On the rooftop of our riad in Marrakech, a small area was designated for the washer. With Madame Zahra and Ouimama doing our laundry, we never had to use it. Of course, as is the case in many countries, wet clothes are hung outdoors. For details and more photos of the riad, please click here.

In the process of wrapping up rentals in Australia and the South Pacific…Photos coming soon…

The blooming season for flowers is fading at this time of the season.

Although, it may seem as if we’ve been searching for a home in Australia for only a short period, over the past month we actually spent many days wrapped up in intense research. There are literally tens of thousands of listings throughout Australia on numerous vacation rental websites.

The owners are sending us their photos this weekend when they are off work and we’ll post them as soon as they arrive.

A hibiscus.

With the poor real estate market worldwide, many frustrated homeowners have turned their homes that didn’t sell into vacation homes listing them with one or more of the many vacation rental sites.  

With our cruise ship at sea for 18 days sailing from Oahu, Hawaii to Sydney, Australia in less than a year, arriving on June 11, 2015, we’ve been determined to find an affordable home with an ocean view on what appears to be a very expensive Australia.

Most homes on the island have a view or a partial view of the ocean.

Not having a home booked a year out can be cause for concern when one has no home at all. By no means, do we panic. Knowing that we have a place to live in a year definitely provides a degree of peace of mind.

I realized I’ve mentioned this in the past, but some of our readers have inquired as to why we book properties so far in advance. Why not “wing it?” For us, the answer is clear: Would you wait to book a long term holiday/vacation at the last minute expecting to get what you want, where you want, during the season you want, and for a price you want? Probably not. That’s our reason. Plain and simple. 

Is this a papaya tree?

As we peruse properties booked on owner’s calendars, often kept up to date on the various websites, it’s easy to see how quickly the properties are snapped up. Waiting until a few months prior to the time we’d need it, results in slim pickings and overpriced “leftovers.” Even in this poor economy, people are still traveling.

Over the past few days, we’ve begun the process of firming up rental agreements, paying deposits, and logging all the information on our spreadsheets, backing everything up on the cloud, the hard drive, and both computers, one means of backing up after another.

A scene from our veranda at sunset.

By the end of this week, we’ll be booked out all the way to March 4, 2016, which sounds like a long way out but it’s in only 21 months, about the same amount of time since we left Minnesota. 

Some vacation rentals require payment in for the entire rental period, others require half and a few are content with a small token amount deposit. Since at this time, we’re booking for almost a year beginning in June 2015, the outlay is more than we would have liked at this time. 

Another view from the cliffs.

Of course, once we arrive at each location, it’s satisfying to be paid up but then, we begin paying deposits on future homes so it’s all a wash. The odd part is paying one’s rent a year in advance is required as we travel.

After these past several days, we have two definite rentals, one of which we’ll share over the weekend with photos and the other which we’ll share in a few days, once the deposit has been received. We’re awaiting the app the manager uses in which we can pay the deposit using a credit card

It’s not easy to identify some of the unfamiliar vegetation when we can’t ask to find anyone to ask that speaks English.

It is imperative to pay deposits and balances using a credit card.  If one of the rentals proves to be a scam, at least with a credit card, there are some means of recourse. Some property manager/owners require wire transfers of which we’d done a few at the beginning of booking our travels but no longer do under any circumstances.  

We were lucky not to experience any issues as a result of doing this but, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. If a property owner has no means of by which we can use a credit card, we’ll pay using PayPal. 

PayPal is simple. With one’s own account linked to credit cards, PayPal’s secure site, we simply send the payment to the manager’s email address. Once they receive it they open their own PayPal account (easy), entering their bank account number and the routing number of their bank. 

Surely, these must be grapes. 

Once completed, the funds go directly into their bank account, available to them in approximately three to four days. Once we send the payment through PayPal, the funds are immediately charged to our credit card on file with PayPal.

There are fees associated with PayPal. If the manager/owner has discounted the rent for us due to our long term rentals, we pay the fees. The house we booked in Trinity Beach, Australia is signed, sealed, and delivered and had PayPal fees of US $98 which we gladly paid.

A garden flourishing in the temperate weather and occasional rain.

Although we’d ideally like to share our negotiated rental amount on each property, we only do this if we paid “full price” which is listed anyway, online at the link we post for the rental. 

More times than not, we receive a good discount due to two factors: one, the length of our stay; two, the fact that we’ll be promoting their property over and over again through our posts. With our readership fast approaching 200,000 worldwide, this can provide them with future rentals.

A tiny house tucked away in the vegetation.

If we were to post our discounted price, this may have bearing on the manager/owner future, shorter-term rentals. If a prospective renter chooses to book it the property they may be expecting to pay the same amount that we negotiated based on these two unique factors.

In any case, once we leave a property, we always post our total costs for our entire period while living in the rental including; rent, the rental car or taxi fares, groceries, dining out, entertainment, tips, fees, and taxes. If you’re curious about any specific costs, please email me directly.

I was so excited to see this cute kitten on our stone wall that I failed to hold the camera steady when taking what could have been adorable.  Shucks!

Please check back for photos and details of our future rentals over the next week or so, as we continue to wrap up details. We’re very excited about finding these wonderful properties and equally excited to share them here with all of our readers!

Last night when Tom came to bed his head hit the pillow and he said, “Safari luck!”  I agreed, falling to sleep with a smile on my face.
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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2013:

We took a road trip from our home in Boveglio to the village of Bagni de Lucca driving across this narrow bridge to the town’s center. For details of the story with more photos, please click here.

Personal discovery…Impacts our future travels…More on the storm at sea…From one year ago at the end of today’s post…

Oh, please, would that I could partake of this scrumptious colorful confection?  Alas, a quick peek is all that’s in the cards for me. Tom said, “Red dye # whatever!  No loss!”  Food safety regulations so familiar to many of us from our home countries may be non-existent in some countries.

With 22 days left until we depart Morocco for the exquisite island of Madeira, Portugal, our activity level in Morocco has leveled off. We’ve settled into a comfortable routine with the acceptance that overly exciting experiences are not necessarily on the horizon over these remaining days.

Personal discovery becomes the adventure of the day as opposed to that of sightseeing. An important discovery, we’ve made this past almost eight weeks while living in Morocco, one that we suspected we each possessed, is that we are not “big city” people with crowds, honking horns, noise, and traffic.

These beautiful fresh roses were on a side table as we exited the restaurant.

In our old lives, we lived in a sleepy lake town definitely befitting our way of life.
A trip to the grocery store resulted in a friendly conversation with familiar faces, animated, and pleased to engage.

We had the blissful experience of this same type of familiarity while recently living in South Africa. Our expectations are high after those three months, a situation we may seldom encounter to that degree as we continue on.

There are newer areas in the souk that have been built or renovated as tourism in Marrakech increased in the past decades.

With several big cities looming in our near future with short stints in each location, we expect those visits to revolve around sightseeing which we anticipate with enthusiasm. After all, Paris and London for two weeks each? What’s not to love?

However, through personal discovery, we come to realize that we embrace culture when we have an opportunity to interact with the local people and their customs, which hasn’t been easy to do in this hustle and bustle tourist destination of Marrakech, Morocco. 

The momentum of the crowds in the souk leaves little opportunity for stopping for photos.

Most of the locals, hard working people, are entrenched in providing products and services to the tourist trade, which constitutes their livelihood, leaving no interest or time to interact with short term residents such as ourselves.

As we continue our search for the ongoing years of travel beyond May 15, 2015, we’ve learned a simple fact; that living in an area where we have an opportunity to meet locals and expats, is an integral part of the experience. 

Ceramic hand jeweled containers. We don’t ask for prices or we’d never get away with the shop owners determined to make a sale.

When one thinks of it, “sightseeing,” although pleasant during the process itself, is short-lived. Meeting people and making friends is a lifetime experience, we stay in close contact via email and Facebook with wonderful people we’ve met in our travels, a rich and fulfilling experience.

Of course, we’ll see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London in London during our upcoming visits. However, most likely, we won’t have an opportunity to make new friends while spending a mere two weeks in each location. We’ve found that most tourists, other than on a cruise, have little time in cultivating friendships while spending a week or two “packing it all in.”

The ancient exterior of buildings in the Medina provides architecturally interesting appeal.

Don’t get me wrong. Tom and I fully entertained ourselves and each other in the remote Boveglio, Italy where not a single English speaking person was to be found within an hour-long drive. And, we were fine in Kenya, where we had little opportunity to meet people when our neighborhood consisted mostly of unoccupied houses, their owners living elsewhere during the heat of summer. When dining out, we only encountered other tourists, busy with their own pursuits.

A reality of both of our personalities is that we are both social butterflies, easily entertained by a lively conversation whether in a large group or small. Both Belize and South Africa provided this beyond our wildest expectations, leaving lifelong friends in their wake. How fortunate we were!

Some shops in the souk offer second-hand merchandise.

Cruising, above all, is the easiest way to meet people when we’re all a captive audience dining at “shared” tables for eight or ten each night of the cruise. One would have to be comatose not to make friends in that environment. This fact, in itself, inspires us to book cruises well into the future, cost providing. (The prices have gone up, up, up).

At this point, we’ll continue to explore the souks and narrow alleys of the Medina with an occasional trip outside by taxi both of which we both thoroughly enjoy. 

This colorful ceramic store had several tourists taking photos so we joined in.

This morning when I came downstairs to the salon where Tom was listening to this favorite radio show, my hot water for tea awaiting me in my insulated mug, I said, “It’s good to see you!” This was an expression I used every time he walked in the door after work in our old lives or when I  greeted our dogs upon returning home.

We grabbed each other’s hands, as we often do when we laugh out loud, which is many times each day, realizing that my expression is a moot point in our 24/7 lifestyle these days. 

Steps leading to a furniture shop in the souk.  Of course, we’d love to enter to take photos. But, most shop owners don’t appreciate photos being taken of their wares.

Our greatest personal discovery throughout all of our travels is that we’ll never tire of each other’s smiling face, even when the location in which we temporarily live offers little in the way of social interaction. 
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Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2013:

This was the very beginning of the massive storm our ship encountered for three full days after dropping off an ill passenger in Bermuda taking us on a different course, taking us right into the eye of the storm. At first, we were told the waves were 30 feet, 9.14 meters, later to be described by the captain as 50 feet, 15.24 meters swells, an experience we’ll never forget. For details of the beginning of this story, please click here. This story will continue over the next three days at the end of each day’s post.

Tom’s haircut…A razor…A ritual…A rip off, so says Tom…Our own fault…

Tom, before his haircut.

On Tuesday late afternoon, we headed out with two missions in mind; one to find a barbershop for Tom to get a haircut and two; find a restaurant where we could have a suitable meal. Madame Zahra was still ill making dining at the riad, not an option.

As we nudged our way through the crowds in the souk, we worked our way to a less busy area where we’d previously seen a string of tiny barbershops. 

Tom, getting his haircut in the barbershop in the souk.

Each shop had one guy sitting on a stool outside trying to lure takers inside while the actual barber hung onto the doorway, hoping to see a passersby show interest in purchasing their wares, neatly stacked on an outdoor table. Neither of them hesitate to bark at prospective customers. 

In their minds, everyone is a possible customer, whether walking by quickly to avoid drawing attention to themselves, or those taking a leisurely stroll eyes flying from shop to shop, perpetually seeking the next great “deal.” Then there is everyone in between, like us, looking for something but trying desperately to appear not to be.

The barbershop was clean and seem to have all the necessary equipment, although no products were for sale.

The first barbershop we encountered, appearing clean and well kept, we entered as Tom immediately asked the price. “100 dirhams!” shouted the barber as we entered the small space.

Tom looked at me for a reaction. This was his deal. I was staying out of it. US $12.31 for a haircut? Is that so bad? Tom didn’t flinch, based on similar prices he’d paid in other countries. Tom said, “Yes, but are photos OK?” as he pointed to my camera. The barber agreed.

Tom accepted the offered cup of sweet tea, an apparent tradition in barbershops in Morocco.

I wondered why he didn’t bother to negotiate. But, knowing that if Tom was agreeable to a price, he wouldn’t try to negotiate.

Mohamed, the barber, spoke little English. The friendly little guy outside the door spoke some English. And the process began.

Clumps of Tom’s hair fell to the floor.

The first thing I noticed was that there was no sink in the shop, similar to what Tom experienced as a kid. At that point, I also realized that none of the equipment would be sanitary. I remember the haircut Tom had in Belize a year ago while he sat outdoors on a plastic chair under a tree, raised up to the proper height with cement blocks. I kept my mouth shut. 

As soon as Tom was seated in the barber chair, Mohamed carefully draped him, ensuring no hair would fall into the neck of his shirt or on his clothing. I sat mesmerized at his care in the draping. With boys of my own and attending haircuts with Tom since our travels began, I’d yet to see such attention to detail.

I was mesmerized by the speed of the haircut and forgot to take a photo during the process. By the time the shave began, I was back at it.

After Tom was draped, Mohamed moved to the back of the narrow room, pulling out what appeared to be sanitary wipes as he wiped his own face, neck, arms and hands. I wondered if he’d wiped off the equipment after the last customer but, again, I kept my mouth shut. Mohamed motioned to me to be seated in the few chairs that lined the wall.

Tom sat patiently as Mohamed busied himself with his back to us. We looked at each other wondering what was next. Moments later, he turned around, handing us each a small glass of tea. In Morocco, tea is typically consumed in small glasses, not cups. 

Tom seemed to enjoy the shave.  In any case, it was worth it.

As he handed a glass of tea to me, I asked in French to the best of my limited ability, “Est ce que le thé sucré?” asking if there was sugar in the tea. When he responded “Oui,” I responded, “Non merci,” gracefully declining his offer. I can’t have sugar. He seemed to understand by the apologetic look on my face. 

Tom, who never drinks hot tea graciously accepted the glass, taking a few sips, desperately trying to avoid a look of disdain on his face. I chuckled to myself.

Mohamed was also quick while shaving handling the straight razor with expertise.

So far, we’d been in the barbershop for ten minutes without a single hair from Tom’s head falling to the floor.  However, respectful of customs everywhere we travel and the fact that we weren’t in a hurry, we patiently waited as he performed his customary rituals, making no comments to one another.

Finally, Mohamed pulled out an electric hair clipper, plugging it in, approaching Tom and began buzzing away. I wondered if Tom was going to end up with a buzz cut but again kept my mouth shut. 

Haircut done. Almost done with the shave as Tom relaxed.

I’d never seen anyone so fast and so adept with an hair clipper. I wondered if scissors would ever come into play. A short time later, he grabbed a pair of scissors out of a wooden box and here, again, snipping with an expertise I’d never seen in any stylist or barber.

When done with the expertly done haircut which was not a buzz cut, much to my pleasure, he asked Tom if he wanted a shave to which Tom shook his head to a yes, never asking the price. Honestly, not familiar with the cost of a shave, we figured it would either be reflected in our generous tip or a reasonable add on to the 100 dirhams, perhaps in the 50 dirham range. How long could it take to shave him?

None the less, it was a good haircut. 

Tom later informed me he’d never had a shave in a barbershop, much to my surprise. After the meticulous shave and clean up, Mohamed unwrapped Tom, asking him if he was happy in broken English. Tom and I both nodded yes enthusiastically.

“What!” Tom said, thinking he meant 30 dirham additional for the shave which would have been a total bill of 130 dirhams, US $16.00, plus a tip for a total of US $20, a fair price based on local prices of products and services.

A short time later, we entered the restaurant for dinner.

Mohamed insisted on the 300 dirhams, showing us the amount on his cell phone at which point the little guy outside sitting on the stool came inside. We felt the total of US $36.89 was way too much. The look on Tom’s face was more one of disappointment than anger. What had been a pleasant experience turned into a manipulative rip off. How could the 8 minute shave cost twice as much as the 25 minute haircut?

Then, Tom’s ire kicked in and he said, “200 dirhams! No more.” Mohamed looked at me, then Tom and then accepted the 200 dirham as we walked out in somewhat of a huff.

The views from the restaurant rooftop.

It was our own fault. One of us should have chimed in when he suggested the shave, negotiating it at the time thus avoiding the feeling of being taken advantage of. Plain and simple.

All in all, the haircut and shave, well done for sure, came to US $24.63, not bad by US standards although high based on Moroccan pricing. With all of our travels, you’d think we’d have figured this out by now! 

More views from restaurant rooftop.

Good grief!  It’s not a lot of money in the realm of things but it was the principle more than anything. Tom was frustrated with himself less over the money and more over the fact that he failed to negotiate.

Later in the restaurant, his mood was one I’d seen before, one of self recrimination. “Let is go,” I assured him.  “It’s no big deal. You got a great haircut and a shave, well deserved with how little you ever spend on yourself.”
“Besides,” I continued, “now we’re even.”

Palm trees are occasionally seen in the Medina.

“Even for what?” he asked.

“I paid too much for the belt I purchased a few weeks ago when you grumbled that I didn’t negotiate.”

“Yep.,” he said, “We are even, aren’t we?”

We grabbed our menus contemplating what we’d order for dinner, smiles on our faces.

By the way, this morning we asked Adil how much is should have been for a haircut and shave. He told us the total should have been 70 dirhams, US $8.62. Oh.
________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2013:

We were waiting to clear immigration in order to get off the ship in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands where I was meeting up with an old friend, a former Minnesotan, who’d lived there for many years. Once cleared, Tom walked with me to our meeting point leaving me to visit with my friend. A few hours later, he met up with me for the long walk back to the ship. For details of this story, please click here.

Settling into a new life in Morocco…Lots of photos…

As we made our way into the Souk.
The Souk is a wealth of colorful displays. We’d expected the sales people to be more aggressive than they were, especially when we’re not stopping to look at the merchandise.
The narrow streets were apparently more crowded than usual with a school holiday bringing more tourists to Marrakesh. Today, we should find it less crowded, again to pick up during Easter and spring break with many non-Muslim tourists from all over the world.

The open courtyard in our little palace, Dar Aicha, made us laugh today. Here we are once again, mostly outdoors all day. We whined about it Kenya, we adapted in South Africa and now in Marrakesh, we feel right at home. 

The fresh vegetables from the farm make for colorful displays in the Souk.
 Most of the merchandise appeared to be of good quality. Knockoffs are typical as in many parts of the world that we’ve visited.
Beautiful fruit carts are abundant with fruit, nuts, and dried fruit popular in this part of the world.

Of course, the cool weather requiring an afghan on my lap and the lack of insects is a contributing factor. No mosquitoes. No flies. No snakes and centipedes. As I mentioned many times in the past, it’s all about trade-offs. 

There are cats everywhere, most at ease around the crowds.Many are homeless living off the crumbs and scraps of humans.
Ice cream is popular in Marrakesh.
Huge loads are hauled by the hand carts.

With little wildlife for our viewing other than the “tibbits,” the little birds that fly into the house, and the many birds we hear flying above the house, familiar to us from Kenya and South Africa, we place our focus on the many treasures that Marrakesh has to offer.

As we neared the entrance to the walled city, the Medina, the crowds thinned out.
Colorful displays are a feast for the eyes. 
If our luggage zippers break, we know where to purchase new bags.

Embracing the culture is our first goal as we strive to blend in rather than to appear as tourists. This morning, I donned a long khaki dress topped with a long-sleeved shirt to be less conspicuous when we venture out, with all of my skin covered except for my face. 

A French bakery drew us inside. I can look, can’t I? Tom wasn’t interested in any of these items. Had there been a plain cake donut, he’d have had a hard time resisting.
We stopped many times during our two-hour walk, checking the menus as various restaurants to determine the suitability for my way of eating. Samir explained that I’d have a tough time dining out since sugar, starch, and flour is used in most foods. 

Tom giggled saying that my camera exposes me more than my skin! That, my dear readers, I will not forgo.  The photos will continue. Luckily, I kept four such cotton dresses which will be well worn by the time we leave Morocco. My sense of fashion and wardrobe diversity was forfeited long ago. 

Often we’ve noticed that restaurants are located on the top floors of various buildings as in this case. Salespeople are on the streets encourage passersby to partake in their dining.
One outdoor café after another line the streets. We’ve decided to dine out a few nights a week when we noticed fresh egg omelets on most of the menus, an item I’ll gladly order for dinner (sans “pork” bacon, not readily available in Muslim countries).
Dried fruit displays are colorful and inviting, although neither of us eats them.

Trying to recall the French I learned 50 years ago is challenging. Yesterday, I surprised both Tom and me when suddenly I burst out in perfect French when asking Oumaima a question. Stymied, I looked at Tom as we both laughed. What we learned as kids is stored in our brains and with a bit of effort can be recalled.

Morocco is known for its fine spices, all reasonably priced. The smells were intoxicating.
The variety of spices available was astounding.
Horse and donkey-drawn carts are common in the Medina.

Since Morocco was a French colony, both French and Arabic are spoken. The challenge is discovering who speaks which language and making a concerted effort to communicate. 

At times, the narrow roads were almost unpassable due to the crowds. Patiently, we wait to pass.
The names of local vegetables escape us. But, Oumaima explained in French that these are raw figs (figue). In time we’ll learn.
Colorful handmade pottery and dishes are a common offering.

Luckily, Samir speaks excellent English and with the ability to communicate in part with Oumaima in French when Samir is out, we’re fine. Madame Zahra only speaks Arabic which apparently is spoken differently in Marrakesh, not unlike comparing an American from Boston with another form New Orleans. Typing a question into Google Translate may not suffice.

For a frame of reference, 25 of the Moroccan Dirham, hereafter referred to as the MAD, is equal to US $3.01. It looks as if most restaurant prices are commensurate with South Africa, making dining out easily affordable.
A plant and flower shop in the Medina.
In the walled Medina, there isn’t space for gardens, but many locals shopping in the Medina live outside the walled city or have window boxes.

Over the next week, most assuredly, we’ll learn the basic courtesies in Arabic as Okee Dokee so well taught us in Afrikaans. Tom continues to say “Buyadonkey,” (incorrect spelling but literal phonetics) for “thank you” here in Marrakesh. 

The vast array of products for sale in the Souk makes it a huge attraction for tourists and locals.
Bags, bags, and more bags, in all shapes. sizes and styles, although a few standouts as preferred by locals.
Cookies and confections.

When we arrived in South Africa, he was still saying “asante” in Swahili (spoken in Kenya), and before that, he said”, “grazie” in Kenya from our time in Italy. When in Italy, he was saying “gracias” from our time Belize.

The narrow walkway to our home for the next two and a half months, Dar Aicha, where,  we expect to be very happy.

He’s always one country behind in his language skills and not at all embarrassed. We laugh every time he does it. Perhaps, the people of Marrakesh will assume I married a South African. 

After months of never watching the news, this morning we’re seated in the beautiful draped and pillow adorned main “salon” with the TV on with BBC news, to keep us informed as to what’s happening outside of our own small world. How easy it is to become out of touch in our own world, so rich in varied experiences. 

Closer…

Tom, unlocking our door for the first time after returning from our outing.

After another fabulous Moroccan dinner last night, we hunkered down and watched another episode of The Bachelor, Juan Pablo, on my laptop, thoroughly enjoying the mindless enjoyment of a familiar TV show. We munched on the remaining nuts we’d brought with us finding comfort in old routines.

This is the pleasing view of the fountain, as we look out the open doorway of the salon, where we sit now as we write. Soon, we begin sharing more photos of Dar Aicha.

In the past, we’ve watched downloaded movies or TV shows when dining in, chatting all the while. Now, out of respect for the efforts of Madame Zahra’s fine cooking, we’ve let that habit waft away, savoring the food and each other’s company, chatting all the while.

Ah, once again, we freely say, “Life is good.” 

There’s nothing like a good laugh, a good meal and another night in the bush…Photos and a video today…

A first glance, these could be a fashion-forward pair of women’s black boots. Nope. They’re the hind legs of a Warthog. Actually, all four legs have these spiky heels. This made us laugh.
 We took this video a few minutes ago. Every time that we run water into the pool, due to a slow leak, the nocturnal bushbabies make lots of noise, making us laugh.
We laugh easily. Tom, over corny jokes and puns, befitting a situation and me, over the irony of daily life. Put us together and one will incite the other into a good chuckle many times a day. 
Warthogs are always on the lookout for a morsel.  Notice how they get on their front knees when discovering a morsel. We howled over this when on safari in the Masai Mara and now, again here.
Baby butts up on the air, on their knees, eating the vegetation around this tree.

Living in the bush, in a constant state of awe of our surroundings, we find humor in the most mundane of events or in the interesting activities of the wildlife surrounding us. 

Butting heads while the third baby stands by, awaiting a turn.
Moments later, he got his turn to butt heads while the former participant wandered away.
The determination of a dung beetle is laugh-worthy as its female counterpart stays atop the ball of dung, running feverishly as he anxiously moves it along using his back legs to push and his front legs to gain a foothold on the ground. Or, the face of a zebra that stands at our railing with what appears to be a smile on his face, inciting a comment and chuckle out of us.
When we first arrived, we noticed a baby warthog lying still on the driveway. Several of the others stopped by, sniffing it and walking away. The mother sniffed it and walked away. We panicked thinking the baby was dead. Suddenly, it jumped up, engaging in play with the others. Now, we observe this as a common occurrence, perhaps a behavior of dominance.
These two kissed and sniffed each other while lying down.

The vegetation stuffed cheeks of the giraffe when he takes a break from his treetop munching to check us out, making eye contact, not only warms our hearts but makes us laugh. Mother Nature has a sense of humor.  Surely us humans, are funny with our rituals, habits and, actions. 

This baby did the same as the others as if playing dead.
This mother stopped to look at me.  The way warthogs make eye contact and listen to my voice, makes me laugh every day.

We’re not laughing at them and, I won’t use the standard phrase that they are “laughing with us.” They aren’t.  But, why we’re laughing is due to the fact that they are like us in so many ways: stomping their feet when they want attention, snorting when dissatisfied or annoyed, reacting sexually when visually stimulated, constantly thinking about food, needing warmth, comfort, and love and for many, the desire for companionship with their family and friends.

The standing baby was trying to nurse the lying baby.

God, a Higher Power, or Mother Nature, whatever your beliefs, made us alike in many ways so that we cohabit in this world together. And, at times, that likeness, combined with our differences, can incite a bout of laughter, a smile on our faces, or merely a twinkle in our eye leaving us feeling a sense of happiness and fulfillment. 

Without cause, they’d finally had enough of us and began to take off onto one of the many animal worn paths at varying points in the yard.

How fortunate we are to embrace this? Whether we laugh from the antics of our dogs or cats which is one of the main motivators in including pets in our lives or, the playful shenanigans of an animal in the wild, it is the same warm, fuzzy feeling that brings us laughter, pleasure and a sense of belonging, if only for a moment, in their world.

Goodbye, warthog family of nine with a few yet to catch up. We’ll see you again soon. 

Today, we share with our readers, some laugh provoking moments with one of my favorites, the maligned warthog, whom by now many of our readers may say, “Enough already, with the Warthogs.” Humor me. They, by far, have made us laugh more than any creature in the bush, especially when these events shown in the included photos occurred a few days ago.

Some say that their ugliness is off-putting. Certainly, they are no more ugly than Elwood, the Chinese Crested Chihuahua, who warmed the hearts of millions as the World’s Ugliest Dog in 2007. We enjoyed Elwood because he was ugly. Thus, we enjoy warthogs for a similar reason. Add their playfulness, their intensity, their determination, their curiosity and they easily become a favorite.

We ended the delightful day with this meal. My plate is on the right with the Brussels Sprouts which, of course, Tom would never eat. At least he’ll eat the green beans and coleslaw.

After their lengthy visit, freely allowing us to take photos of their most intimate family fun, the heat of 100F, 38C weather drove us indoors to the AC, another delicious homemade meal, a movie, a good night’s sleep.This morning we awoke to a live bat in the kitchen sink.

Life in the bush is hot and humid, filled with unbelievable insects and critters (we’re adapting). But we find it to be exciting and often humorous. 

Do you know what is really funny? That two senior citizens, former homebodies, conservative and cautious, are sitting here in the bush to tell about it!  

“Small Things”…a world of miniature wildlife and vegetation…Finally we found a Dung Beetle with his “dung ball”…plus the biggest insect ever!

Zef, our houseman, held this monstrous insect Tom had fished out of the pool with the net.

It would be easy to sit back waiting for wildlife to visit us as we lounge on the veranda. But “easy” doesn’t always ensure the excitement and adventure of discovery. With our curiosity and passion to explore we’ve found a world of small things as intriguing as the big things.

It’s difficult from the photo to determine the enormous size of this insect swimming for its life. We may have saved its life getting it out of the water. It took a full day of hanging upside down on the tree limb to finally fly away. We might have thought it was a bird if we’d seen it in flight.

It all started with this photo of the most enormous insect we’d ever imagined possible that apparently fell into the pool after Tuesday night’s rain.

After Zef gently placed the monstrous insect on a limb on the tree, it grabbed hold of the branch, hanging on for nearly a full day.

Tom tapped me on the shoulder, saying, “Don’t be scared. I have to show you something.”  It was still in the pool, swimming feverishly for its life. Much to my surprise, when I saw it, I wasn’t scared, just curious, and anxious to take a photo.

A frog on the outside of a window.  Most frogs are active at night. We frequently heard them, but seldom saw them.

Zef, our hard-working houseman was here cleaning, prompting us to ask him what this huge thing was and if it was poisonous. He assured us it wasn’t poisonous, just huge. Tom then fished it out of the pool with the net. 

Not all small things are alive. Thank goodness, this Scorpion expired in the pool during the storm.

Without giving it a thought, Zef picked it out of the net, holding it up for these photos. After we’d taken a few photos, Zef placed it on a tree, where it hung for a full day (see above photo), perhaps recovering from its lengthy swim in the pool. We kept an eye on it, but 24 hours later it was gone. We haven’t seen it since. 

This blue flower, a less common color in the wild, caught our eye in our yard.

We must have spent hours researching information about this giant insect to no avail.  Perhaps, one of our worldwide readers will be familiar with it. If so, please post a comment at the end of today’s post.  We’d love to know more.

These tiny birds, the Red-billed Oxpecker (Tick Birds) eat insects off of the giraffes warning them of potential dangers. 

It was this discovery that prompted us to begin the process of finding “Small Things.” One could easily spend a lifetime, as some do, finding the many small curious creatures and plants in this wildlife and vegetation rich tropical climate. All we ever need to do in most cases is simply take the time to look.

Geckos are everywhere, both inside and outdoors.  Louise showed us how to identify their poop which contains a small white bead in the center, often found on stone floors, on countertops, and on furniture throughout the house.

Last night, we got this shot of the underside of a gecko as it crawled on the outside of the sliding glass door in one of the living rooms. (Gosh, in Diani Beach, Kenya we had no living room. In Marloth Park, South Africa we have two living rooms and we spend all day outside. 


We borrowed this photo (the remainder of the photos here are our own) from this website to illustrate the sticky nature of the gecko’s feet.

As the search for “Small Things” began, we were surprised to find many more interesting plants and creatures. 

This was our first photo of a dung beetle, yet to create his dung ball. 

My mission, since arriving in Africa, has been to find the dung beetle, an objective now fulfilled, as evidenced by these photos. They are everywhere. One need only look along the driveway where the animals enter our property where there’s plenty of dung and subsequently, plenty of dung beetles, such interesting creatures.

This was our first photo of the dung beetle in action. The female often sits atop the ball of dung while the male moves it along using his back feet while his front feet grasp the ground for stability. The female lays eggs in the ball so she tags along as he rolls as they search for an adequate hole in which to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them as well as the maturing larvae.
“Ah!” he says, “Let’s get this dung ball into this hole before someone decides to steal it from us.” Dung beetles have been studied and they are known to steal the dung balls from one another.

I know this is hard to believe but Dung Beetle navigate using the Milky Way. Here are some interesting facts about dung beetles. In addition, there’s this amazing fact about the dung beetle:  

The individual strength record goes to a male onthphagus taurus dung beetle, which pulled a load equivalent to 1,141 times its own body weight. In human terms, that would be comparable a 150 lb. person pulling 80 tons!” 

Another dung beetle couple aiming for a hole for their growing family.

In our research regarding the dung beetle, we discovered a fact that made us howl with laughter.  While in Italy and Kenya, we ran and hid whenever an enormous black hornet buzzed us, assuming it was in the hornet/wasp/bee family. With both of us allergic to bees, wasps, and hornets, we were terrified of being stung.

With no specific landscaping in our yard, it’s interesting to see an occasional flower. In Marloth Park, the homeowners are to keep the natural bush environment to ensure abundant vegetation for wildlife.

It’s loud buzzing noise alerted us several times a day that it was in the vicinity. We’d quickly take action to get out of its way. We’d researched without luck trying to find information about what we’d assumed to be an enormous black wasp.  

Millipedes are commonly seen in this area which are harmless to humans although they emit a poisonous secretion that when coming in contact with human skin may cause an itchy rash. For the various insects it eats, this venom proves deadly.

Last week, while visiting with Louise and Dani, they explained that the loud black buzzing thing is in fact a dung beetle in flight (without its dung ball in tow). What do we know? We’ve only been traveling the world for over a year. Now, when we hear that loud buzzing sound, we look and laugh, no longer fearful (although we’ll continue to keep a watchful eye for hornets, wasps, and bees).

These mushrooms are growing in our yard.  Of course, we won’t eat them without knowing if they’re safe for consumption.

With over two and a half months left for us to live in this wildlife and vegetation rich location, we’ll continue to gather information and photos of the “Small Things,” which we’ll share with our readers from time to time. We need only to remember to look down or around us for the “Small Things” that God/Mother Nature created, all with the purpose of nourishing the earth and its inhabitants.

As Tom would say, “At least we’re no longer like the dung beetles hauling all their sh_ _ with them everywhere we go!”

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our most extraordinary day yet in Marloth Park with visitors we’d find only in our dreams. Then again, every day has been magical.