Another busy day on the horizon…Memorial dinner party tonight…Booking, booking and more booking…

Tomorrow, we’ll be busy listing Tom’s railroad memorabilia online for sale, including about 12 of these commemorative plates.

Last night, our plans with Madighan were dashed due to potential strep throat and flu. Neither of us could afford to get sick with plans to leave here in 20 days. Also, Tom is still on antibiotics and Prednisone, and getting sick on top of his awful cough would only worsen matters.

Instead, we’ll pick a date next week to get together and celebrate. Today, at 4:00 pm, we are heading to our friend Connie’s home for dinner at her home on Lake Minnetonka to commemorate her husband Jeff’s passing at our holiday home in Marloth Park one year ago today. It’s hard to believe that was a year ago. It seems so much longer.

After a while, we’ll go to the nearby liquor store and buy a bottle of wine to bring to Connie’s. We always feel it is essential to bring something when invited for dinner at a friend’s home. In South Africa, we only needed to bring our drinks, mix, ice, and possibly meat to cook on the braai. That tradition is not common in the US.

This morning, we spent almost two hours researching flights from Quito to Manta, a hotel for one night in Manta since we didn’t want to drive to the holiday home in the dark, and a rental car for three separate months. Tom will have to return to the airport twice while we’re at the house to get another vehicle.

As it turned out, each of the three rental car periods had much better pricing using three different companies rather than trying to book a car for the entire time at the house from October 24 to January 8. Plus, the rates had almost doubled over the Christmas holiday season.

As a result, Tom will have to make the one-hour drive from the holiday home to Manta twice during our stay; most likely, I will go with him each time to shop at the bigger grocery stores. I anticipate the remote location where we’ll stay won’t have any major grocery stores nearby.

Since our flight from Quito to Manta doesn’t arrive until after 8:00 pm, we planned to stay one night in Manta so that we can more easily find our way to the property in the morning. Also, it will allow us to do some food shopping in Manta before we head to the house.

No doubt, the small car won’t have a lot of room for lots of groceries, but at least we’ll be able to squeeze enough for a few days while we figure everything out from the house. Moving into a new remote location requires extensive research to see what’s available in the area.

In the worst case, we can buy coffee, cream, and staples for the first week. A few restaurants are near the house in case we have to eat out for several days. This part of our travels is fun for us when we find the best solutions for our needs while we’re there.

There weren’t a lot of options for flights from Quito to Manta. There were prices listed for half of what we ended up paying for the one-way flight, but those prices didn’t include any carry-on bags or checked bags. At the higher prices of $99 each, instead of $59, we saved over $200 for baggage fees. It made a lot of sense to go that way.

We found a highly-rated, inexpensive hotel near the airport so we wouldn’t have to drive far in the dark in unknown territory, which included breakfast. We’ll get up early, have coffee and breakfast at the hotel, and be on our way, as we mentioned, looking for a supermarket on the way.

It’s all becoming a reality now as we pin down our plans. Once settled in Ecuador, we researched where we wanted to go. Do we go to Brazil and Bolivia to the Pantanal or plan a cruise on the upper Amazon? Or both? Time will tell. Of course, this is all based on how we’re feeling at the time due to a few recent health concerns.

At 3:30 today, we’ll head out to the memorial dinner party at Connie’s for surely what will be a good experience.

Be well.

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

Moonbeams over the Indian Ocean last night at the Blue Marlin Restaurant in Kenya, reflecting off the ocean and lighting the sand. Tiny sand crabs were scurrying about at our feet as we stood in the sand. For more photos, please click here.

Booked flight and hotel for Quito, Ecuador…Spending time with our grandson today…

Here’s a map of the route of our flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Quito (UIO), not that far away compared to many of our other flights over the years.

We waited to book our flight to Quito, Ecuador, departing on October 11, until we were here in the US, watching prices drop. With costs dropping only a small amount, we booked the flight and one night in the hotel JW Marriott in Quito, arriving one day early for our cruise/tour to begin.

Celebrity Cruise Line contacted us a few days ago for our passport numbers and expiration dates, flight information, and hotel information. Since we booked an extra night at JW Marriott, they wanted to tie it to the portion of our cruise/tour that includes two nights on each end for five nights, including our extra-booked night. They wanted to ensure we wouldn’t have to move to another room, which we appreciated.

Between the two booked nights for the hotel on either end of the cruise/tour, we’ll be flying to The Galapagos for a seven-night tour on the 16-passenger ship, basically a yacht, as opposed to a traditional huge cruise ship. It should be interesting. We’ll be flying from MSP on United Airlines. The cost of the flight for both of us is $1283.40.

As for the cost for the hotel, JW Marriott, for our one night, not included in the cruise fare, was $150.28, including taxes and fees.

The JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador.

The next flight we’ll book in the next few weeks is the flight from Quito to our new holiday home in Manabi, Ecuador, about a one-hour flight, around $120 for the two of us, plus baggage fees. Our holiday home will be waiting for us, and we look forward to that part of our time in Ecuador as well as the cruise/tour. We’ll share more details later.

I’m a little concerned about the altitude in Quito at 9,350 feet above sea level, but hopefully, we’ll both be fine. I used to ski in the Colorado mountains in my younger years (before I met Tom) and never had a problem with elevations over 10,000 feet. I’m hoping it will be the same now. Tom has never experienced such a high altitude.

While we were at urgent care for Tom a few days ago, we got a prescription for Diamox (acetazolamide) to be used in advance for potential altitude sickness. With many possible side effects, we’ll wait and see how we do before taking the drug.

Later today, at 3:30, we’ll pick up grandson Vincent for skeet shooting and then for dinner. It will be great to spend time with him. He’s almost 18 years old, intelligent, and quite a conversationalist. No doubt, we’ll have a wonderful time with him.

Last night, we stayed in watching a few episodes of Formula One on Netflix and one episode of The Good Doctor, a delightful series we’ve watched intermittently, enjoying each episode. By 11:00 pm, we were both fast asleep and awoke feeling refreshed in the morning. Tom is taking his medications regularly and has started to see a slight improvement. Hopefully, soon, he’ll feel much better.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a good Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 16, 2013:

No photo was posted here ten years ago. To read the text for that post, please click here.

Leaving Las Vegas…Our trip to Minnesota…All is going great!!..

Our last view of the pool at the Green Valley Ranch Spa Casino Resort.
With today’s busy schedule, I wrote the text for the post while flying from Las Vegas to Minneapolis. There were only 60 passengers on the Southwest non-stop flight, and we were asked to choose our seats when we boarded rather than in advance.

That was unusual for us, although we’ve had a similar scenario when we have flown on small planes. But this plane has a capacity for about 175 passengers, so it was weird that so few were flying to MSP. We chose seats across the aisle from one another.

There were no entertainment screens on the flight, so I could play non-WiFi games on my phone, which I did for the first 45 minutes and got bored. At that point, I decided to write the post based on how little time we have tomorrow with one family event after another.

Leaving the hotel was seamless, and since we had to check out by noon, we decided to head directly to the airport. It’s a good thing we did. Tom dropped me and the three bags off at the airport at curbside check-in and drove off to return the rental car. We picked a spot where I’d wait for him. I waited and waited, and no Tom.

After a while, I became concerned when he didn’t show up—an hour had passed. Las Vegas airport is undoubtedly chaotic, but he should have returned sooner. I wasn’t sure if he’d turned on his phone after putting it on Do Not Disturb last night, but I called him on WhatsApp hoping he’d answer, but he did not.

I didn’t panic. Sooner or later, he would arrive. I needed to be patient. Finally, he appeared, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see him.

As it turned out, he’d accidentally left the computer bag in the rental car when he dropped it off. It had our passports, laptops, and essential documents. Also, it included his wallet with cash and credit cards. Oh, good grief. This could have been a major fiasco. Fortunately, the bus driver drove him back to the rental car return and the bag was still in the vehicle. Whew. He dodged a bullet.

He had to find his way back and forth on multiple bus rides to get the bag and make his way to the terminal to find me. I can only imagine how stressful that was for him. He surprised me by how calm he was when he finally arrived.

In no time, we made our way to the gate, where we waited for over 90 minutes to board our flight. Good thing we arrived so early.

As I wrote, when we were surprisingly comfortably situated on the plane, we appeared to be arriving in Minneapolis in no time at all. The flight was less than three hours long.

We got the rental car and headed to our hotel in Eden Prairie, where we will stay for the next month until we depart for South America.  All is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 10, 2013:
There was no post on this date ten years ago.

We made it to Scotland!…A few issues but we’re good!!!…

Please keep in mind this was us after no sleep since Thursday night. We were feeling a bit raggedy, but overall, OK. I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough for the photo, as shown.

Today’s photos were taken Yesterday at The Bay Hotel in Burntisland, Scotland, where we are staying until Tuesday morning.

It’s summer here, and the flowers bloom in the cool weather.

We didn’t care when booking the Bay Hotel in the suburb of Burntisland about how far it was from the airport. Instead, we focused on availability and pricing, which were tricky, with several festivals occurring while we were here. We didn’t want to spend $400 a night for a hotel, so as we often do, we booked a package for air and hotel through Expedia, which saved us about $1200.

The view of the ocean from the hotel veranda.

Yes, it was far from the airport, but the drive was pleasant, with lovely scenery along the way and our friendly Uber driver. The flight from Orlando was a little over seven hours, and compared to our often 17-hour flight from Joburg to the US, it was a breeze. Tom slept for about an hour. I dozed for 20 minutes.

Lovely view of the sea at low tide.

We surprised ourselves and felt fine, rolling into the local time once we arrived and having dinner around 6 pm. We managed to stay awake until 10:30 last night, and both slept until around 7:00 am. We feel fine today, getting up in time for our 8:30 breakfast reservation.

Cruise ships at a distance. That’s where we’ll go to board the ship on Tuesday.

It was fun seeing the setup for last night’s wedding, inspiring us to take photos which we have included today. The Master of Ceremonies encouraged us to take photos of the setup. He was so proud of their handiwork, and we enjoyed it with him when he showed us everything before the guests arrived.

This is the “LOVE” sign we stood before for the main photo.

Last night in bed, we could hear the vibration from the music from the wedding, but we didn’t mind a bit. We were pretty tired, and it didn’t matter. The main problem we are experiencing now is the fact that Tom packed all the converters and adapters in the extra suitcase we shipped to Minnesota. They were needed here. Now we can’t charge our laptops.

Wedding cake…very pretty!

My battery will run out by tomorrow. Although I am writing the post on my phone now, it’s nearly impossible to load photos for the post using my phone. So we will have another post tomorrow but won’t write again until after we get settled on the ship on Tuesday afternoon. So you will see a late post that day.

The tables were set up so beautifully for the wedding at the hotel.

Also the WiFi is also very tricky here. We are only allowed two devices at a time, and it takes 10 to 15 minutes to get back online each time. That’s frustrating. We won’t be streaming at night here because we lack the ability to plug in our laptop. Tom can recharge his laptop with the low voltage plugs we have. But mine won’t work that way. Once my battery runs out, that’s it. I can’t use Tom’s laptop to do the posts since his keyboard is much smaller than mine, and I can’t type on it.

What a lovely setting for a wedding!

My head has been a lot better since we left Florida. It’s not 100%, but it’s 75%, and I am hopeful it was due to allergy inflammation in both South Africa and Florida, where pollen count was through the roof, especially ragweed, which is my worst allergy. I am very hopeful.

The food in the hotel’s gorgeous restaurant is fantastic here. Most likely, we will have all of our meals here. Breakfast is included, and we only have two dinners left.

Gorgeous wedding flowers.

Today is High Tea at 3:30, and dinner won’t be served until 7:30, so we will wait until then to eat, which is fine. We don’t do High Tea since we don’t eat all those sweet treats. And if we could, we’d be too full for dinner later. I don’t know how people do both.

That’s it for today, folks. Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 30. 2013:

In the pouring rain, we drove around the walled city of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, looking for a parking spot. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move!!!…Final expenses for 89 days living in The Villages, Florida!!!…

As I walked through the gardens, the bees swarmed around me.

Note: Today”s photos are from a post on this date in 2013, while we lived in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, for three months in a 300-year-old stone house. For more, please click here.

We’re packed! All we have left to do is fold and pack the few items in the laundry when dry, the digital equipment, and the zillions of cords, adapters, and chargers. We had a lot of stuff here after this extended stay in the US, but we managed to eat almost all the food we’d purchased except for a few items left for the housekeeper.

The honey bees love the lavender, still in its full glory.

We tidied the house but didn’t clean since a final cleaning is included in our rent, which is always the case. As requested, we removed the bedding and placed it in the basket in the laundry room. We put back everything we’d moved to accommodate our needs. We didn’t break a thing, not a glass or plate, although we’d paid for the required breakage insurance policy along with the rent.

Now, between writing here and posting photos, I am making breakfast using ten eggs and one pound of bacon we had left, which we’ll eat in part soon, and save the rest for snacking later in the day. Most likely, we won’t have dinner at the airport until around 8:00 pm when we get checked in and go through immigration and security.

We always feel relaxed once we get through the check-in process and get close to our gate. Lately, we’ve seen horrific queues at airports in the US, with many cancellations and flight changes. We’re hoping this is less likely to occur with an international flight, but one never knows. Fortunately, our ship doesn’t sail until August 1, so we should make it despite delays.

The shade of the overhanging vines creates a pleasant patio area in the garden.

We just finished the huge breakfast, and finally, I can sit here and finish today’s post. In about 24 hours, we’ll be in Scotland and hope to upload at least a short post confirming we have arrived and are at our hotel. Hopefully, they will allow us an early check-in, a VIP status feature on Expedia, where we arranged the booking.

Last night, we both slept well, which is unusual for us. We usually don’t sleep well the night before we depart a location. But, magically, last night, we both slept through the night, feeling alert and awake today. I can’t say we’ll feel so good tomorrow morning after being awake most of the night on the plane, but we’ll undoubtedly be relieved the long journey is over, and we can recuperate and catch up after the next good night’s sleep.

How do we feel about leaving? No doubt, we’ve enjoyed the ease of living in The Villages with so little required of us other than to shop for and cook our meals five nights a week, do a little cleaning, take care of financial matters and future bookings, and prepare and upload a new post each day.

A good soaking rain would bring all of the vegetation back to life. It rains a few times a week but not enough during the summer heat in the 90s each of the past several days.

As our long-term readers know, quiet times like this made writing new posts challenging, but somehow we all got through it; me writing it and YOU reading it. We thank all of you for your readership and dedication! Hopefully, soon, we’ll have new photos and stories to share.

This will be our first time on an Azamara cruise. Tom has been communicating back and forth with their customer service department to ensure they provide us with credit for priority points for all the cruises we had booked with them that THEY CANCELED. It was a total of seven cruises!

After several email messages and some prodding from Tom, finally, yesterday, they confirmed they are giving us the full credit in rewards points for those canceled cruises.

We often post expenses for the time we spent in a location. For expediency, I am listing our major costs, taken directly from our spreadsheet since we arrived here three months ago:

  • Rent:              $9,072
  • Groceries:      $2,926
  • Dining Out:     $2,106
  • Fuel:               $     33
  • Total  $14,137*
  • Cost per day: (89 days) $159
  • Cost per month (average): $4,836
  • *These expenses do not include personal product purchases we made while here.

We are pleasantly surprised by how affordable it was to live here, even with us going out twice a week for dinner (Including drinks, taxes, and tips).

Well, folks, off we go. Keep an eye out for us sometime in the next 36 hours or so. If we’re too tired to write, we upload a short post, letting you know we’ve safely arrived.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 28, 2013:

With the midsummer heat, few flowers remain in the gardens. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…How’s my head?…Last trip to the store…

This giraffe was having a “bad hair day!” The hair on the female giraffe’s ossicones is usually short and straight up. From this post

Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. Please click here for the story.

With only a few hours until my pedicure appointment, I’m debating whether to get back to packing or do as much of today’s post as possible before we head out the door. My inclination is to work on this post so that when we return, I can focus entirely on packing.

Cape buffaloes on the Sabie River in Kruger.

I’ve organized but haven’t started loading items into my single clothing suitcase. I’ve packed most of the supplies into the big yellow bag that will contain my Tempur-Pedic pillow, our shoes, hoodies, and various jackets, which we’ll undoubtedly need in the cold weather we’ll surely experience in Norway, Greenland, and Iceland and other ports of call along the way on the upcoming two cruises.

Mom and baby hippos on the bank of the Sabie River.

My primary focus this past few weeks has been doing everything possible to reduce my left forehead and face pain. Regardless of whether it is an inflamed nerve, trigeminal neuralgia, or occipital neuralgia, the home care for these conditions is very similar.

A dazzle of zebras hanging out near the road in Kruger.

My small heating pad arrived, and it’s been helpful. Four or five times a day, I focus the heat on my cheek and then on my forehead. It seems I get the most improvement with the heat on my cheek which leads me to believe it might be trigeminal neuralgia, not occipital neuralgia, or in the worst case, a combination of both conditions, precipitated by my awful bout with Omicrom in April 2022.

The pain began on the day I tested positive for Covid-19, and it never went away except for short periods when I took Prednisone or a few days here and there for no apparent reason.

A crocodile was lounging on the bank of Sunset Dam.

Sometimes, I think the pain is sinus-related, but beginning last week, I noticed improvement when I started using a prescription steroid nasal spray Doc Theo gave me months ago, which hadn’t helped at the time. I still do the sinus rinse treatment twice daily, but now I add the nasal spray after that, and I am experiencing some relief.

On top of that, I have been doing several head and neck acupressure procedures at least twice a day, never missing a day. I am better between all of these processes, the heat, the meds, and the acupressure. The trick will be to take the time on the cruises to continue all of this. I won’t have any problem doing the acupressure treatments since I do it first thing in the morning and before bed.

Yellow-billed storks and other birds are not easily identifiable due to the distance when taking this photo across the lake at Sunset Dam.

During the day, I can always return to the cabin for 15 minutes a few times daily to use the heating pad. Hopefully, it will continue on this path of improvement. I can’t tell you how much better I feel when my head and face don’t hurt for periods. I am like a new person. As I am sitting here right now, typing on my laptop, I don’t have any pain.

With a thick pillow under my laptop, I don’t have to look down or have my head in an uncomfortable position. Good posture and avoiding bending over to use my laptop or phone also help significantly.

Several giraffes were attempting to drink at the Vurhami Dam.

Soon, we’ll head out the door. Tom will drop me off at the nail salon, run errands, and pick me up when I’m done. After that, we’ll head to the Publix market for a few items since we found we need meat of some sort for one more night, or we’d have to dine out. Being preoccupied with getting ready to go, neither of us feels like going to dinner.

We surmised this elephant might have been ancient because of its size and bright white tusks. Scientists can better gauge the age of an elephant by its teeth, as described on this site.

Two more days? It’s hard to believe. The three months here passed quickly, and we’re ready to be on the move again.

Be well.

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

Santina cleaned our house this morning, bringing this fabulous plate of “torte” she’d made. How thoughtful she is! With the pie crusts made with flour,  I won’t be able to taste them, but Tom will try all three of these. There’s no doubt they are delicious. I will savor them via my eyes, otherwise known as being a “food voyeur.” For more, please click here.

Getting more done..

Photo from the post from five years ago today on this date. Although we aren’t big fans of baboons, we got a kick out of this photo of mom and baby walking down the road in Kruger National Park. See the link here.

This morning, I booked transportation with Groome Transport from our holiday home to Orlando International Airport, which is over a one-hour drive (during rush hour). Our flight on July 28 isn’t until 10:30 pm, but they suggest they pick us up around 5:30 pm. We’ll most likely arrive at the airport at 7:00 pm, giving us more time than we’ll need to be processed for our international flight. We’re flying to Edinburgh, Scotland, on Virgin Atlantic.

The cost for the transportation, including a 15% tip, was $92. We used this same company when we arrived here at the end of April and were happy with the ride and the service. Thus, we saw no reason to shop around for this for a slightly better price. It may have been a little less with Uber, but the large van and the friendly local driver worked out well when we arrived.

Unfortunately, it’s often another red eye when we fly long distances, but no other options worked time-wise. The flight arrives at 11:30 am Scotland time. When we get from the airport to our hotel, we likely won’t check in until around 1:00 or 1:30 pm. As VIP members of Expedia, we are provided with early check-in and late check-out.

We’ll have breakfast on the flight and won’t eat again until that evening. We try not to sleep other than a short 20-minute nap after being awake all night. Otherwise, we could be subject to jet lag. Immediately upon arrival in different time zones, we adapt to the new time zone, including sleeping and eating. This has worked well for us.

The time difference between Florida and Scotland is five hours later, so this will be relatively easy. Due to being tired, we’ll most likely dine at the restaurant at The Bay Hotel. There’s a restaurant in the hotel, and after checking out their menu, we won’t have trouble finding something for each of us.

I noticed they have Chicken Penne Pasta on the dinner menu. Tom hasn’t had this since we spent ten months in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai. He ate it for dinner every night except for the last two months when he’d gained 22 pounds and was sick of it. We shall see if he’s ready to give it another try. I noticed several grilled items that will work for me.

Of course, curries are very popular in the UK, as we’ve observed with our British friends worldwide. Often, when we were invited to the homes of British friends in Marloth Park, they’d make curry. I love the taste, but often, it is made with flour to thicken the sauce. If flour is used, I can’t eat it. Plus, I don’t eat rice, and curry is often served over a bed of rice.

While dining at friends’ homes, I didn’t say anything and picked out a few pieces of chicken and vegetables, discreetly scraping off as much of the sauce as possible. No one ever noticed. On the other hand, Tom despises the taste of curry but somehow manages to get through it without comment.

Britain colonized India from 1858 to 1947. As a result of the Indian influence, curries became popular with the British, but even earlier than those dates. See below from this site:

“The British Curry
by Debabrata Mukherjee
The UK now celebrates National Curry Week every October. Although curry is an Indian dish modified for British tastes, it’s so popular that it contributes more than £5bn to the British economy. Hence it was hardly surprising when in 2001, Britain’s foreign secretary Robin Cook referred to Chicken Tikka Masala as a “true British national dish.”

If Britain taught India how to play cricket, India perhaps returned the favour by teaching the British how to enjoy a hot Indian curry. By the 18th century, East India Company men (popularly called ‘nabobs’, an English corruption of the Indian word ‘nawab’ meaning governors or viceroys) returning home wanted to recreate a slice of their time spent in India.

Those who couldn’t afford to bring back their Indian cooks satisfied their appetite at coffee houses. As early as 1733, curry was served in the Norris Street Coffee House in Haymarket. By 1784, curry and rice had become specialties in some popular restaurants in the area around London’s Piccadilly.

The first British cookery book containing an Indian recipe was ‘The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy’ by Hannah Glasse. The first edition, published in 1747, had three recipes of Indian pilau. Later editions included recipes for fowl or rabbit curry and Indian pickles.”

If you are a fan of curry, you may enjoy reading the balance of this site.

We had a glitch on this site this morning, and I lost everything I wrote. But my web guy, Mitali, in India, stepped in and resolved the issue. As a result, I am a little behind in getting today’s post uploaded since I had to do it all over again. I couldn’t remember everything I wrote, but I did my best.

Have a great day, and be well.

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

Tom was getting his haircut in Tuscany on this date ten years ago. For more photos, please click here.

Using perks and points from Expedia…Interesting photos from a very old house in 2013…Head banging?…

In Tuscany, this yet-to-be-baked homemade low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, and sugar-free pizza was made with “real” mozzarella (often referred to as buffalo mozzarella in the US) and locally grown ingredients. The stringiness factor was tripled from the pizza we’d made in the past using “manufactured” bagged shredded mozzarella, which we hope never to use again. It was our best pizza ever! I’d cut double the ingredients to make another freshly made pizza for tonight with no microwave for reheating. Nothing like two nights of freshly made pizza!

Today’s photos are from the date in 2013, in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, which we posted here.   

How quickly we forgot the nuances of the 300-year-old stone house in Italy. From today’s re-shared photos, you can easily see how much we had to adapt to living in this very old house. It was sometimes challenging, especially when the WiFi signal was so poor.

The electrical wiring throughout the house is exposed, using cloth instead of the conduit most of us are familiar with as a code requirement in the US and other countries. We doubt that building/code compliance inspectors travel around inspecting these centuries-old properties. As shown above, the primary lighting source in the kitchen is these two fixtures over the kitchen table, encased in glass globes. Energy-efficient as the “curly” energy-efficient bulbs we’d used in the US, this particular style takes approximately five minutes to light up the area, which can be a little tricky at night.

Ten years ago, we rented a device from a company in the US called MiFi. This company still exists but can’t do much business these days when good WiFi signals are available worldwide, even in some remote locations. Even in the bush in South Africa, we had no problem getting a good signal.

Sure, some parts of the world are so remote that a signal isn’t possible, but over the years, we haven’t continued to experience issues being online. When renting a hotel or holiday home, we always check to ensure they have free unlimited internet access.

Cloth-covered wiring over the sink in the kitchen.

Today, we rented a car for one day from the Expedia link on our site, found here. When our ship arrives in Boston on August 30, we needed a means of transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, where my cousin Phyllis lives, so we could all go out to dinner near her home.

Again, cloth-covered wiring near the shower in the main bathroom.

When researching transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, a 40-minute drive, we found the cost of taxis, Uber, or transportation companies to be as much as $400 for the round trip plus tips. Instead, with points we’ve accumulated and hadn’t used lately at Expedia, we could rent a car for a good price and drive ourselves to meet with Phyllis.

We both had to duck to go down the long hallway to the bedroom. We got used to saying, “Don’t bang your head.”

As it turned out, we had enough points left to use on Expedia to offset the cost of a car. This morning we booked the car, and all we had to pay after using our points was $9.88 for the one-day car rental. We couldn’t get this done quickly enough! once the details were paid and booked, we added the information to our free Cozi Calendar, as we do with all of our bookings.

Tom also had to duck his head when heading out to the tiny veranda from the guest bedroom.

We now have peace of mind knowing we completed one of the few remaining tasks necessary for our upcoming trip, as listed in a post two days ago here.

Also, we’d like to ask our readers to kindly consider using the links on our page to compare travel costs and perks. We make a small commission that helps cover a portion of the expenses for the maintenance of our site, and you’ll pay no more using the links than if you went to them on your own. Also, you may find you can save a lot of money using these links and accumulating perks and points.

This doorway to the main bathroom was cut to fit the low frame, requiring that we also duck when entering or leaving.

We figured out an easy plan to get the rental car when we’ll be coming from the port on August 30, not the airport, where we’ll have to go to pick up the car. We’ll get an Uber or taxi from the port to drive us to the airport.

Tom will jump out and leave me with the driver, who will drive me to the hotel with our bags. That way, we won’t have to take the bags to the airport. Then, Tom will pick up the car and drive to the hotel. Later in the day, we’ll make the drive to Stoughton to meet my cousin Phyllis for dinner.

This hole was cut on the outside of the house to allow for the water meter.

I asked Phyllis if she’d like us to pick her up. She’s about ten years older than me and may prefer to have us pick her up so she won’t have to drive home in the dark. If so, we won’t mind at all. It will be wonderful to see her. It’s been several years since we’ve seen Phyllis, and she and her two daughters are my only living relatives on the father’s side. As it turns out, I am the oldest living relative on my mother’s side of the family. How did that ever happen? Where did the time go?

Tonight, we’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square for the evening. It’s been raining off and on all morning, but it looks like it will be clearing by the time we leave at 5:00 pm.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 7, 2013:

The heating elements in the 300-year-old stone house in Tuscany. The radiators are behind these hanging curtains in the long hallway. Hmmm…For more, please click here.

Hysterical feedback from Garage Logic about our “Adults Only” post a few days ago…

At last! The Treasury! This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy! See below for the progression of this long walk to arrive at this magnificent event.

Note: Today’s photos are from the posts of May 15 and May 16, 2013, ten years ago, when we visited Petra, Jordan.  Here is the post from May 16, 2013.

The raw beauty of nature, coupled with artistic skills, made the walk exciting, moment by moment.

On May 12, we wrote about the myth about perceptions of The Villages as being a “swingers” retirement community. Please click here to read that post. We heard from the hosts at the Garage Logic podcast mentioned this perception when they realized where we are staying.

In response to that, in a light-hearted manner, I wrote the post entitled “Adults Only,” which may be found at the above link we rebutted the perception that The Villages is a “swingers community.” It is not. It’s a myth.

We thought we couldn’t make it through each time we encountered these narrow crevices, but we managed at each turn.

When Joe Soucheray, host of Garage Logic, read parts of our post on their show, we couldn’t stop laughing over their comments. If you’d like to hear what they had to say, please click here and have a chuckle with us. If you don’t want to listen to the entire podcast, scroll forward to 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 27 seconds, and their comments will begin. But listen all the way to the end of the podcast since they add more as they go. It’s very funny.

We love the connection we have with Garage Logic every day. If you enjoy their banter, click here for the full archives of their podcasts. We listen five days a week while Tom continues to submit daily, “On this date in Minnesota history.” It provides us with a fun connection to our original home state of Minnesota, along with our friends and family members who still live there.

Can you imagine the excitement of the Swiss adventurer that discovered this find in 1812?

As mentioned at 12:30 pm, Karen and Rich will arrive, and we’ll drop them off at the Orlando Airport for their trip to Minnesota for son Jack’s wedding, leaving their SUV with us to use for the next few weeks. In a few weeks, we’ll pick up Rich at the airport after Karen flew off to support an ailing friend and return the car at that time.

We don’t have a lot of plans for using the car other than to visit Karen’s mom, Donna, next week, a short drive from here, and to drive around The Villages, exploring and taking photos. That will be fun to do, and it will be nice to get out in a car as opposed to the golf cart.

Check out the intriguing details of theTreasury performed by craftsmen over 2000 years ago. The twelve pillars represent the twelve months of the year.

The golf cart is great, but it takes much longer to get from place to place. If we were to have been here any longer, we’d have needed to rent a car. When we checked on prices for rental cars in Florida, it was outrageous. We’d have spent over $3000 for the time we were staying here and felt it was an expense we didn’t want to bear with our expensive upcoming cruises.

It was a small sacrifice for the time we’re spending here since we can use the included golf cart to go anywhere in The Villages. With the handy app for approved golf cart paths, it’s relatively easy to get around, albeit slowly. Although, in the next few weeks, having a car to use will be great.

Actually, Tom was much happier than he looks in this photo!

After the long walk, sitting down for this not-so-smiley photo was a huge relief. The grates behind me at the front of the Treasury are protecting the more intricate design.

Today, I uploaded the Kroger online grocery order, which will arrive tomorrow morning. With company coming for dinner tomorrow evening and more houseguests again for three nights starting Saturday, we have plenty of meals to plan and prepare. Feeling so much better, I won’t have any trouble managing the upcoming visitors.

After the long walk, sitting down for this not-so-smiley photo was a huge relief. The grates behind me at the front of the Treasury are protecting the intricate design.

This morning we headed out on our walk and returned to make a lovely breakfast, and both get to work on our laptops. My hope was to upload this post before we leave at 12:30. Most likely, we’ll return by 3:30 or 4:00 pm and then get busy preparing tonight’s dinner of Italian meatballs, topped with sauce and shredded mozzarella and rice and salad on the side. I’m having grilled salmon and scallops with baked spaghetti squash and salad on the side for me.

Last night, we began watching “Dancing with the Stars” on Disney+, which we signed up long enough to binge-watch the show. Once we’re done, we’ll cancel the service. We often sign up for a streaming service long enough to watch a certain series and then cancel it thereafter. However, we keep Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime all the time. We thoroughly enjoy streaming shows in the evening when we don’t have other plans.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 16, 2013:

In Jordan, the camel owners proudly let us take photos. In Egypt, at the Great Pyramids, either they’d grab your camera and smash it or demand $50 to get it back. For the post, please click here.

Two funny things…Another fantastic goodbye with friends at Jabula!…Five hour layover in Johannesburg until 17-hour red-eye to Atlanta…

Norman, with his mouth open a little as if he’s talking back to me. He will be dearly missed.

We are seated in a restaurant with less than stellar food, the only place open at this hour close to our gate. We’re boarding the plane in 70 minutes, so I must rush through this.

A few funny things happened in the past 24 hours. One occurred when we were at Louise and Danie’s house before we headed to Jabula to say goodbye to more friends. We were seated at the bar in their lounge, and suddenly, I heard the funny squeaking noises that mongooses make.

I ran out the back door, and there they were, our usual band of mongooses. Now, I should say there are several bands of mongooses in Marloth Park. But, when they saw me, they stood up on their hind legs and stared at me. Out of context, they didn’t know what I was doing at this other house. I made our usual little clicking sound, and they got so excited they started coming into the house and running around.

We all laughed out loud. I didn’t have paloney for them, but this morning, when they reappeared while we were finishing the packing, I was thrilled to see them again. This time, they got little chunks of cheese and savored every bite. When we left several hours later, we left nine eggs in the garden that we hadn’t eaten. They will undoubtedly wonder where we went, won’t they?

Then, we hadn’t seen Norman since last Wednesday, before I went to the hospital. I was hoping to see him once more time before we left. But with the holidaymakers in the park, we doubted he’d return. He had surely been eating “people food” and had little interest in his healthy diet at our place.

Wouldn’t you know, about 30 minutes before we were to head out the door to drive to the airport, there stood Norman in the garden with that little smile on his face. I squealed with delight! I couldn’t have been more excited to see him. Immediately I ran to the kitchen to cut up the remaining apples and cabbage I’d left for him, just in case.

I tossed the food to him. but he didn’t seem interested in eating. Oh, he nibbled on a few pieces of apple I’d cut for him in his preferred small piece. But he only ate a few. Instead, he stood there looking at me, relishing every word I said, almost as if he knew exactly what I was trying to convey…plain and simple…love.

He stayed quite a while, and after I stopped chattering at him in my high-pitched voice, he finally wandered off. “Bye, Norman. I will miss you and hope to see you when we return in 14 months. Be safe from the lions and take good care of your little family. You’ve brought us both such joy for quite a long time.”

Then, there was last night when several couples stopped by Jabula to say goodbye one last time. The kindness and love couldn’t have meant more to us. Of course, Dawn, Leon, and David offered us an outpouring of love that’s hard to describe. It was all so unique.

This afternoon at 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs., we stopped at Louise and Danie’s to drop off the key to the house, and once more, the warm embrace of loving friends filled our hearts. How did we get so lucky?

Now, as we’re seated in this restaurant at the Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are ready to move on. The long flight is ahead of us, but as always, we’ll get through it with optimism and hope for the future.

Thank you for sharing this life with us, day after day, night after night, and country after country. It’s been quite a journey.

Be well.

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

There was no photo on this date as we sailed on a ship through the Strait of Gibraltar. For the story, please click here.