What???…No rental car???…How are we managing that?…

Beautiful scenery on the Big Island, Hawaii, in January 2015.

When Tom returned from Chicago, Illinois, on January 10, he didn’t pick up another rental car. Instead, he took an Uber back to the condo in Lake Las Vegas. Before he left, we did some cost comparisons, considering traveling to Henderson for dinner with Richard, shopping, and any other trips we may need to make using Uber instead of renting a vehicle at the airport.

At an average total cost for 28 days of $800. The daily cost, including taxes and fees, plus fuel, is $29 per day. For the sake of ease, let’s say a rental car’s total daily cost is $30. The average round trip cost using Uber (including tax and tip) for anywhere we’d go is $60.

Most likely, with all the shops and restaurants down one flight of stairs from the corridor on our floor, it’s unlikely we’d go anywhere more than once a week, thus incurring a cost of $60 each time. Using Uber once a week for four weeks is $240 instead of the $800 rental fee, saving us $560 every four weeks.

With almost 12 weeks remaining since he dropped off the car on January 9, considering three four-week periods, we’ll save $1680 when we leave here on March 31, 2024. When we had a car for the first few weeks, it sat in the parking ramp, mostly unused.

Buying all of our groceries online from Smith’s Marketplace (using Instacart Boost shipping) and any other items we need online, and with the availability of the wonderful Season’s Market down those steps with a three-minute walk, we certainly don’t need a car for shopping.

Plus, the many restaurants within walking distance, one of which we’ll visit this weekend, located at the bottom of the steps, the only times we’ll need to go out is to join Richard and his significant other for dinner at another location. In those cases, if the restaurant is further away from his home, we’ll Uber to his home and ride with them. We don’t expect them to pick us up at this location; it’s about 20 minutes each way.

When we choose not to rent a car, we don’t do so, expecting others to “cart us around.” We always prefer to be as independent as possible, wherever we may be.

Yesterday, while working out in the fitness center down the corridor, I noticed my Sketchers shoes weren’t providing as much support as needed, as I’ve quickly increased my time on the treadmill. Once back at the condo, I ordered a brand of workout shoes from Amazon; I know from experience that they work for me. I ordered them using a no-cost feature they offer, allowing me to try them on and return them if they don’t work for me.

The shoes will work for me when I try them today when they arrive in a few hours. We are Amazon Prime members and get free overnight shipping. Between Smith’s and Amazon, we can receive anything we need. The only time we visited a pharmacy was when Tom needed a few medications when he went to Urgent Care with bronchitis. There’s an example of when we’d now use Uber, both for a visit to the clinic and then to Target Pharmacy for the prescriptions. We had a car at that time.

But still, if we’d used Uber for all of that, the most we’d have paid for the trip to the clinic, Target, and back to the condo would have been a total of $60 since they are only five miles from here, only the cost of two days of a rental car.

In any case, being frugal like this probably saves us thousands of dollars each year, allowing us to spend more on those things that mean more to us: nice hotels, holiday homes, and good food. Also, we can choose quality products and brand names when buying something, if preferred. At this point, we don’t feel trapped at all in this ideal location. If we change our minds, we can rent a car.

Last night, the low-carb enchiladas were excellent. I forgot to take a photo when we both were hungry and preoccupied with eating our lovely dinner. We’ll eat it again tonight and I wrapped the remainder for the freezer for two more nights. It’s always good to have pre-made meals in the freezer for those unexpected occasions when we prefer not to cook.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 16, 2014:

The Guineafowl parent gathered all their chicks together as we slowly drove by while in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…What an exciting location…

We are thrilled to be so close to the little grocery store, which is very well-stocked.

It’s 8:20 am, and I have been awake for a few hours. For the first night since we arrived, I finally slept for seven hours, feeling fantastic today. Tom should be here in the next hour since his flight took off a little early and is expected to land at 8:22 am. Since he has no luggage other than a small carry-on backpack, he should be able to grab an Uber in no time at all to make the 25-minute drive from the airport.

Although he’s been gone only a little over 24 hours, I missed him. Undoubtedly, he’ll be exhausted and may need to go to bed for a few hours. If he does, I’ll continue to work on today’s post and do the prep for tonight’s dinner. We’re having one of our favorite dinners: homemade “unwich,” breadless subway sandwiches with the quality, gluten-free meats we purchased at Costco and a crispy salad on the side.

Seasons Grocery is easy for us to access, only a few steps from the bottom of the stairs close to our unit.

With all the warnings on bagged lettuce and spinach, I hesitated to purchase romaine for the sandwiches. In the past week or so, I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Poisoned,” which is terrifying about getting sick from everyday groceries in US grocery stores. Since watching that movie, I have been washing and re-washing vegetables more than ever. Unfortunately, washing won’t remove much bacteria. Only cooking can do that, and I can’t imagine dunking lettuce in boiling water before eating.

When I turned on the news this morning, the first news story was about listeria found in bags of fresh spinach. Do we stop eating nutritious greens and salads altogether? I can’t imagine dinner without a salad on the side. Tom eats salad but doesn’t love it. But it’s a perfect side dish with many meals.

There are several streets in the VIllages. This is not the main street but a side street with fewer businesses.

While we were in Ecuador, the only salad I made was coleslaw. It was easy to wash cabbage and peel and wash carrots. But I wasn’t confident about other salad greens not being exposed to tap water and bacteria. I wasn’t so concerned about pesticides there since I found insects on the produce we purchased from Raphael. In the US, finding an insect on a lettuce or cabbage leaf is a rarity, even if it’s labeled as organic.

When shopping at a market in the US, the produce almost looks too perfect to eat. It’s that appearing perfection that may result in toxic situations. None of us can be too careful. I strongly recommend watching “Poisoned” on Netflix. It opened my eyes to be more cautious than ever when preparing produce; even then, there’s no certainty.

This is Mimi and Coco’s Bistro, which we’ll visit in the future.

Today, we’ve included more photos from our walk on the streets in The Village. One of the shops that we found most exciting was the “Seasons Grocery.” It’s a small market. but the ideal spot to stop in for a few items, such as wine, beer, spirits, produce, and a wide array of miscellaneous grocery items. They have a comprehensive deli with a seating area for eat-in breakfasts, coffees, and deli-type lunches.

To gain access to Seasons Grocery, we only need to walk down two flights of steps from the door down the corridor from our unit, and it’s right there, around the corner. This unique area reminds us of quaint shopping areas in Europe and other parts of the world we’ve visited over the past 11 years.

The marina on Lake Las Vegas has many boats, including a large yacht.

Tom is back! It was so good to see him. He had a good time seeing his family members at lunch. He enjoyed the party, returning to the airport shortly after 1:00 am. After dropping off the car, he found a spot to lie down and took a short nap. Security hadn’t opened yet, so he had to wait to check in for his flight.

His flight was full and uneventful. He arranged an Uber, and by 9:20, he was back in the building and on his way to our condo. It was great to see him. He’s not yet ready for a nap, but maybe later in the day. He’s chipper and in good spirits. Me, too.

Another restaurant on the main street in The Village.

We’ll be back with more new photos tomorrow. Have a fantastic day!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 20, 2013:

Yesterday morning, we spotted this white mass in a tree hanging over the pool, only 15 feet, 4.5 meters from where we sit each day, waiting for visitors. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s flying out tomorrow without me…Tom’s Irish Cream recipe once again…Exciting new photos coming tomorrow!

This is the ground floor lobby we hadn’t posted yet.

Note: Today, after completing the post, we ventured out on an exciting walk in the area and encountered one surprise after another. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share those photos and the story that goes with it. Please check back!

Tom decided to head to the annual United Transportation Union (UTU, Local 1000) Christmas party in Minneapolis. The last time he attended was in 2011 while he was still working, and we’d yet to plan our years-long world journey. At these parties that he always attended in our old lives, he had an opportunity to commiserate with retirees and current workers. It was always an enjoyable time for him, always hosted by law firms representing workers when injured or disabled.

For the past 11 years, he often talked about attending the party, but we were always too far away for him to make the trip. This time, while already in Nevada, he found a great flight with Sun Country Airlines, and the best price was if he returned around 24 hours later due to higher-priced holiday travel flights.

As a result, he’s flying out at 8:45 am tomorrow, December 19, and returns at 8:56 the following day, on December 20. Surprisingly, as a Platinum member at Expedia on our site, he arranged a rental car for that short period for only $1. That was a shocker! Having a car will allow him to see his kids for a few hours in the afternoon if they can work it out with their busy schedules.

Our current rental car contract doesn’t allow me to drive, which is probably for the best. I am not a good driver, nor did we want to pay an extra $30 daily to add me to the contract. It just wasn’t worth it. He’s taking an Uber to the airport and back on his outbound and return flight.

Sure, he could have left the rental car at overnight parking at the  Las Vegas airport for a lower cost than an Uber. But, at times, convenience supersedes cost. The party starts at 6:00 pm, and he’ll only have one or two drinks and stop drinking alcohol by 8:00 pm to ensure he’s safe to drive to the airport around 1:00 am. He’ll have a long wait at the airport until his flight at 7:15 am, but he’s used to that.

He’s bringing our portable phone charger to ensure he always has power for his phone, which he’ll surely use to entertain himself during the long wait.

I’ll be fine at the condo, working on tomorrow’s post and making phone calls to family and friends, which I haven’t done since we arrived three days ago. Most likely, I’ll see him on Wednesday morning around 10:30 am. He’ll most likely need a nap when he returns after being awake since Tuesday morning. We’ll plan for an easy, laid-back day.

This morning, I did our first load of laundry in the washer in our unit. Oddly, our unit has a washer but no dryer. Our floor has a huge laundry room with plenty of washers and dryers. But since we are used to drying our clothes on a line for less wear and tear, we didn’t want to haul wet clothing down the long hallway to the washroom. Yesterday, we received the clothes drying rack we ordered from Amazon for $20, and Tom quickly put it together.

The rack will pay for itself in two weeks since it costs $1.50 to dry each load in the washroom. We have about seven loads a week, which would have been $10.50 weekly. We’ll have recovered the cost in two weeks when we’ll be here for another 15 weeks.

Do we sound like tightwad? Perhaps, but we always make an effort to save every penny, especially when we’re in the US. This time, we’re paying more for this condo than any other holiday home in the past 11 years. We don’t mind penny-pinching to save a little here and there. It’s so much more expensive to be in the US than any other country we’ve visited in the past.

We can use plenty of coupons here and certainly take advantage of those opportunities when possible. Soon, we’ll drive to our mailing service to pick up my prescription and a few other items waiting for us there. I’m thrilled I was able to make the pills last long enough to receive the prescription. It all worked out well. I worried for nothing until I came upon a good solution to order the drug from ProgressiveRX to arrive when we got here, which it did after I reduced the dose to one pill a day for a week while we were in Ecuador.

That’s it for today, folks. More will follow tomorrow after Tom is on his way to Minnesota. See his Irish Cream recipe below:

Tom Lyman’s Irish Cream (Bailey’s)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 pint half and half cream

3 pasteurized eggs (important for safety)

1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

1 T. chocolate syrup

1 cup Irish (or other type) whiskey

Blend in a blender for 2 minutes, then add the 1 cup whiskey. Blend for another 30 seconds. 

Pour into a clean glass bottle with a tight-fitting cork. (Use your empty wine bottles after they’ve been washed in the dishwasher).

Make 1 1/2 wine bottles, enough for sipping while making. The recipe doubles easily.

It must be refrigerated. Keeps fresh for 30 days in the refrigerator.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 18, 2013:

With no Poinsettias for us this year, we revel in the beauty of this flower that we encountered in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Yeah!..Almost on our way!…

A giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands was heading back out to sea. Check out the pattern on the sand.

I’m done packing except for a few items we’ll use between now and tomorrow morning when we depart at 8:30 am. I feel organized and accomplished. It was relatively easy packing this time. Besides Tom needing to pack, which he’ll surely get started soon, we are in good shape.

I’ve gathered most of the things all over the house. A few minutes ago, Tom weighed my bag and the supplies bag, and it looks like the weight on those is within the 23 kg (50 pounds) maximum allowed by Copa Airlines. The laundry is done. Tonight’s light lunch and dinner are ready to go.

My new computer will be ready for pickup at Costco by Friday. I am looking forward to getting everything set up on the laptop. It should be ready to use after a few hours of work loading my files on the Windows 11 desktop. I’d used a Chromebook when my Windows laptop died in India, and I ordered a Chromebook for the first time. It was shipped to our hotel while we were in Udaipur, India.

When we left Marloth Park last April, I gave that laptop to Vusi, one of our excellent housekeepers in the bush. The only thing wrong was that the letter “t” wasn’t working. Vusi didn’t care about the “t.” He and his family would use it to stream Netflix shows.

Using Chrome, it took a long time for me to get used to not being able to place folders on the desktop and constantly subject to keeping folders on Google Drive. It was more work for me, and I was continually mindful of how I named and where I placed folders. It was cumbersome and time-consuming.

This current broken computer has served me well over the past two years. Our laptops generally last two years based on how much we’ve traveled and the subsequent wear and tear. Another hindrance to the life of our laptops has been determined by the humidity in any given location. Over the years, we’ve lived in many locations with extremely high humidity.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours assembling an online grocery order with Albertsons Market in Henderson, Nevada. We intend to pick up the order at the market on Friday afternoon after we pick up the laptop at Costco. However, after carefully going through their system and placing almost 100 items in the cart, I couldn’t process the order. (We needed many food products to start at a new location. Their system wouldn’t allow me to use our VPN, nor would they allow me to process the order without using the VPN.

Their system picked up that we were out of the country, and they assumed it was a fraud. Why would someone in Ecuador order 100 items from their market? This makes a lot of sense. Their staff could spend considerable time gathering almost 100 items, and no one shows up to pick up the order. Their system could have assumed we’d be using a stolen credit card.

One of my credit card numbers was stolen only a week ago, and now, a new card awaits me at the mail service in Nevada. A replacement card arrived in a few days. I was notified by the credit card company that they suspected fraud, and they were right. It was for a purchase I hadn’t made, and then the card was declined without using a proper PIN on the back.

This has happened to us almost a half dozen times over the years. I’m grateful we aren’t responsible for unauthorized charges and that the credit card companies are on top of detecting such issues and not making us accountable for those charges. However, they state that it’s also up to the customer to check their purchases to ensure there hasn’t been any fraud.

Due to this condition, I have it set up to get notified for most purchases on our cards. We only have to click “yes” when a text arrives asking if we made the purchase. This is not an inconvenience unless the card is declined if we don’t acknowledge the request for a “yes.” This has happened only a few times.

That’s why I have all of our credit cards, Tom’s and mine, set up for notifications to go to my phone since he doesn’t pay much attention to texts, let alone phone calls. Nor does he use his phone for email, shopping, or anything other than playing games. He explained that after 42½ years working on the railroad and having to be near a phone or getting beeped on a pager, he has little interest in using a phone other than for calls to and from family.

My phone dings when I get a text, so if we’re shopping, I can quickly say “yes” and proceed with the transaction. It may sound time-consuming, but given the difficulty of receiving a new card via snail mail, it is the best way to keep our cards secure. Nonetheless, fraud still happens every so often.

Tom just meandered upstairs to pack while I stayed on the main floor working on this post. He doesn’t need me to help him other than occasionally neatly folding his shirts in a closet. I’m not good at folding button-up shirts, but I am better at it than he is. He helps me by weighing and carrying the bags up and down. It is a joint effort in some ways.

As mentioned, I will write the post on my phone in the car tomorrow. When we get a signal, I will upload it. I may not get a signal until we reach the airport in Guayaquil sometime around noon, drop off the car, check our bags, go through immigration, and get settled at our gate with working WiFi.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 13, 2013:

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. They search for an adequate hole to bury the ball. The ball is used as sustenance for both of them and the maturing larvae. Nature is amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Six days and counting…

When we had dinner in the bush in Kruger National Park in 2013, and Louise and Danie presented an exquisite Christmas event with fabulous food and decor, a praying mantis landed on an empty plate. Amazing!

This morning, I awoke with a smile on my face…in six days, we’ll be heading to Las Vegas to our 107-day booked condo in lovely Lake Las Vegas. After this most recent disappointment, my expectations are in check, but being close to stores, restaurants, family, and friends certainly contributes to a positive state of mind.

If the condo isn’t perfect, so be it. Knowing we can enjoy ourselves otherwise, we’ll make the best of this. A good bed, strong WiFi, and reasonably comfortable living room furniture, coupled with the property being in good condition, is all we need to make it work.

With excellent reviews for the condo, we feel at ease knowing many tourists found it complete with many amenities and plenty of kitchen supplies. Often, like here in Ecuador, the kitchen supplies are limited. But, when many travelers only spend three or four days in a holiday home, eating out for most meals, they have little use for kitchen gadgets.

For instance, we’ve been functioning with only one medium-sized glass bowl. Instead, we’ve used various sizes of pots as bowls, and it worked fine. There is no can opener, so the tuna and coconut cream we purchased had pull-top tabs for opening. I have my own three little paring knives, which have helped with all the daily chopping and dicing I do, and they come in handy.

We’ve used one sizeable sharp knife to cut meat and large vegetables. The only bowls for serving coleslaw and other vegetables are small-sized side dish bowls that are a part of the basic set of dishes. There is no roasting pan or cookie sheet. But, we’ve used the four various-sized pots with stainless steel handles that can go into the oven for roasting meat and chicken.

There is one medium-sized square Pyrex pan that we’ve used on occasion, but it is hard to wash, and we couldn’t find parchment paper at the market. Instead, we purchased two rolls of tin foil, the best quality they had. But it was impossible to get any of it off the roll since it was so flimsy. We’ve managed without tin foil.

Over the years, we’ve learned to live without many kitchen utensils and gadgets. In our old lives, we had every kitchen gadget you can imagine. It’s been quite an adjustment adapting to using what’s available. If there’s no large bowl at the condo, I may buy one as I did in Florida. That’s the one item I miss the most. I make a mess trying to stir ingredients in the small bowl and pots.

The bed here is comfortable, and so is the living room furniture. We’ve never dined at the dining room table since we prefer to eat at the granite center island, with two barstools.

Since our HDMI cord broke and the one here is rusted from the humidity and doesn’t work, we’ve each entertained ourselves at night by reading the news and watching videos on our laptops. The nights have passed quickly, and with only a handful of nights to go, it hasn’t been as boring as I anticipated.

Every so often, we stop what we’re doing to chat while sitting across from one another. I usually go upstairs to bed about an hour before Tom, where I’ll finish watching a show on my phone, respond to our reader’s email messages that I hadn’t gotten to during the day, or play games on my phone.

Both of us are now relaxed and will soon begin thinking about packing. As mentioned, we could be packed in an hour or two if necessary. There’s no rush.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 8, 2013:

Nothing like a little brotherly love. Zebras are very affectionate with one another. For more, please click here.

Yeah, to sea level!…Instantly, feeling better…Now the interesting part begins…

The pool at Pikiera Hotel in Manta a quaint little cultural hotel owned by a most charming couple and their daughter, Crystal.

Right now, as I write this, we have been sitting in the little rental car, packed to the roof with our bags, outside the entrance gate to Mirador San Jose. We are waiting for Sylvie, the property manager, to arrive to let us into the gate and then to the house. Beyond these gates is our home for the next 79 days, which we hope has good WiFi and is as nice as the photos as represented in VRBO.

Early in our travels, we were sorely disappointed by a beach house in Placencia, Belize, with fraudulent reviews and no running water. We left in a week and never got our money back. In those days, the holiday rental business was different than it is now.

The bar is to the left of the kitchen, where the owners cooked our breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham.

Our only recourse at that time would have been to sue the owners, and we didn’t want the beginnings of our travels to revolve around dealing with a lawsuit. But now, as we are sitting at the entrance gate, Sylvie hadn’t shown up at 12:45 pm when the plan was 11:00 am, two hours earlier than our original arrival time of 1:00 pm.

This morning at the hotel in Manta, I contacted Igor, the owner, who lives out of the country, and he arranged for her to arrive at 11:00 instead. Sure, she may have had other plans, causing her only to be able to come at 1:00. We shall wait and see. At this point, we have no other option but to wait.

As for yesterday, our travel day, we were able to stay in our hotel room in Quito until 2:00 pm and then spent three hours waiting in the lobby for a Celebrity escort to the airport. We’d prepaid $60 for two extra bags and seamlessly moved toward our gate.

We encountered several roundabouts on the drive from Manta.

I felt so awful from altitude sickness after the second 48 hours in Quito that I couldn’t wait to get on the pressurized airplane. The wait at the gate was short, and the flight was even shorter at only 35 minutes to touchdown.

We ordered a wheelchair for me. In my weakened condition, my legs felt like lead, and I was short of breath, sitting and doing nothing. Within minutes of the airplane doors closing, I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I could breathe, and the lightheadedness immediately dissipated. What a relief!

Parts of the road were barren and desolate and other parts were like a rain forest. As always, taking photos in the fast-moving car wasn’t easy.

When we arrived at the small airport in Manta (population 300,000) in minutes, we had our luggage and exited the area where, for the first time ever, a man stood with an Avis sign waiting to escort us to the little rental car in the parking lot.

Moments later, we were on the road to the quaint Ecuadorian little hotel, Pikeiro Blue, where we have ever stayed, at a rate of $45 a night, cash only. We just needed a place to sleep. But, minimal, it was charming nonetheless. The owner sent his daughter to a little market to buy us two sodas and some cheese.

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and I was hungry, but Tom wasn’t. The lovely English-speaking daughter returned with the sodas and cheese in no time. We tipped her with gratitude. Her parents were so sweet and kind, and we conversed on Google Translate.

It was a joy to see the ocean about halfway through the drive.

The room was spotless, with only bright overhead lighting (no lamps) and two double beds perfectly made. But, the beds were comfortable, the WiFi excellent, and the aircon chilled as we needed.

After a fitful night’s sleep this morning, we showered (cold water only) and dressed to head down to the pool level while the hosts made us breakfast, which was included in the $45. It couldn’t have been a more pleasing cultural experience.

The one-hour drive from Manta was interesting and also cultural. Once we reached the ocean along the highway, we were in awe of the massive waves, ideal for the most experienced surfer, but no surfers were to be seen on the pristine beaches.

A little church along the way.

Today’s photos are from the above-described experiences. Tomorrow, we hope to be back with photos of the house, finding ourselves unpacked and with some groceries on hand.

Hmmm ..we have yet to see a market…what will transpire there? Again, we shall see and report back tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 24, 2013:

Last week in Diani Beach, Kenya, when dining at Sails Restaurant, the moon was in its full glory. A few months after we left Kenya, this restaurant where we ate most Saturday nights was bombed by terrorists on a Saturday evening. For more photos, please click here.

Flying away tonight…Can’t wait to get down to sea level…Final photos from Galapagos Islands…

Blue-footed booby on a walk, although they are excellent flyers.

Note: Our naturalist, Orlando, took today’s photos, which he sent me daily via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando!

Shockingly, I haven’t suffered with Afib while we’ve spent five days total at an altitude of 9350″, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly since we arrived in Quito on October 11, 12 days ago. During the five nights we’ve spent at the JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador, we’ve both felt the effects of the altitude in many ways, more for me than for Tom.

Tom gets out of breath during exertion, and my heart races when I walk or move about the hotel room. Fortunately, once I rest, it goes back down to normal. However, when we got off the boat on Saturday, my heart rate hovered between 85 and 100 all night, high for me. Last night, for the first time in 12 nights, we both slept well.

Salted lagoon, Floreana Island.

For the first of the five nights in Quito, my heart rate was normal, which allowed me to sleep. My Fitbit says I slept for a much-needed eight hours. But now, at noon, almost two full days since we returned from the boat and its frequent seasickness, I must admit, I am looking forward to getting down to sea level and situated in our new holiday home on the sea.

The smell of the fresh ocean air and the use of the infinity pool will be such a welcome relief which I hope to do daily, weather permitting, for exercising my legs, hoping for some improvement in walking. All of my whining is related to having had open heart surgery in 2019 and the lingering effects that have impacted my (our) lifestyle to a great degree. If I walk too much, I get Afib. If I don’t walk enough, you know what I mean.

Gorgeous scenery at Floreana Island, a millions-of-years-old volcano.

I apologize for whining. Once we get settled, I will be a new person. In 24 hours, we will go to Mirador San Jose, Manabi Province in Ecuador, a gated community with a beautiful property. Many photos will follow. It will be delightful to grocery shop at the nearby supermarket (supermercado) after we’ve seen how much space there is in the refrigerator and freezer.

Often, refrigerators in holiday homes are small. But, if so, we will manage and simply shop more frequently—no big deal. Also, there is often a lack of storage space for non-perishable food items, but here again, we’ll make do. We’ve hired a three-hour cleaning person every Tuesday morning at 8:00 for $20 per week. In the US a year ago, we paid $25 an hour, as we did when we had the cleaner once a month when we stayed in The Villages in Florida three months ago.

 A Galapagos flycatcher. Adorable.

Gee, I haven’t cooked a meal since then, and I look forward to making a special home-cooked meal at least five nights a week after we investigate to determine if dining out is a good option in that area. If so, we’ll dine out every Friday and Saturday night, which might allow us to socialize with locals and tourists.

It’s funny how I remember several Spanish words we learned when we spent four months in Costa Rica. I can easily read a menu and road signs and understand short sentences. I can’t necessarily speak it well in sentences, but with the help of Google Translate on my phone, we’ll be fine.

Speaking of my phone, I couldn’t get into our Google Fi account to access WiFi once we left the hotel after using their WiFi for five days, which was very good. I tried everything I could to get it to work, to no avail. I had no choice but to call Google Fi, which quickly responded, but when we were halfway through the troubleshooting process, the call dropped. I called back and again, and a rep responded quickly.

A wave albatross flying back to Espanola Island, the oldest island in The Galapagos.

We resolved the issue quickly when I had to select an arbitrary network Google Fi uses in Ecuador, Claro. I’d never have known this if I hadn’t called. Good thing I called, or we’d had a nightmare on our hands tonight when driving in the dark to the hotel and tomorrow, driving to the house without the ability to use Maps. Any time we’ve tried to use “Maps” in many countries without being able to connect to Google Fi,  depending on satellite conditions, we often hear “her’ say, “Make a U-turn,” over and over again. This drives us crazy.

Well, enough about all of that. In less than seven hours, we’ll be on the plane, pressurized for easy breathing, and God willing, all will be well. It’s only a 50-minute flight. We’ll most likely miss dinner again tonight since last night, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to the restaurant and couldn’t find anything on the room service menu. It will be close to 10 00 pm by the time we get to the hotel in Manta. So, well miss two dinners, two nights in a row. That’s no big deal, either.

After grocery shopping and unpacking a bit tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be back with a new post with some photos of our new home. Stay tuned for more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 23, 2013:

A bushbaby with a banana was next to us last night as we dined outdoors at the Leopard Beach Resort in Diani Beach, Kenya. A small platform was set up for the bushbabies, loaded with bananas to encourage them to visit the guests while dining. For more photos, please click here.

Day 8…Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…Disembarking day…Back up to Quito for two more nights!…

A pair of iguanas sharing a little love.

Note: our naturalist, Orlando, took all of today’s photos, which he sent to me each day via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando, for thinking of me!

In one hour, we are heading out on the Zodiac boat (the panga) to return to the pier in The Galapagos Islands. Our cruise has ended, and by 2:00 pm this afternoon, we’ll be on the return flight to Quito, where we’ll spend two more nights, and then fly to Manta, where we’ll spend one night to avoid driving in the dark.

From there, as mentioned, we’ll drive to the holiday home in Mirador, San Jose, in Manabi Province, on Tuesday. We’ll stop for groceries on the way, considering how much room we have in the rental car. By early afternoon on Tuesday, we’ll enter the gated community to make our way to the holiday home.

Black naked stil at Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island.

As much as we’ve enjoyed this spectacular cruise, even considering my limitations, we’re looking forward to the next step in our journey, spending 76 nights at the oceanfront property with a large pool and modern property. It even has a washer and dryer, which we desperately need to use at this point, after two weeks away from laundry facilities.

At the moment, all of us, 14 passengers, are waiting in the lounge after watching the fantastic video naturalists Juan Carlos and Orlanda made for us, handing out flash drives for all of us to keep as a memory. It may be too large to post on our site, but I will try to create a link we can use for those interested in watching it.

A great blue heron at Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island.

We still have photos from this journey and will post them over several days. With little time until we depart for the airport, we only upload a few photos today.

Although our flight back to Quito is only two hours long, we likely won’t get back to the hotel in Quito until about 5:30 tonight. Tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast are included in our cruise package, along with the one night in the hotel, and the following night, we’re on our own for dinner and breakfast the next day.

Fur seal at Rabida Island.

Our fight to Manta isn’t until Tuesday at 7:24 pm. We will make arrangements with the hotel for a late checkout, a benefit of being an Expedia VIP member, and then spend the remaining time in the hotel lobby awaiting our ride to the airport, arranged through the cruise line.

Last night was extraordinary when the 12 staff members arranged a special toast and presentation before our final dinner of giant prawns with many side dishes with wine flowing as it always has each evening since we boarded this ship a week ago. But, last night, when the seas got rough again, I headed off to bed, never finishing my glass of wine when the rocking and rolling made me queasy.

Baby flamingo at Rabida Island.

Most nights, I suffered from seasickness, which neither of us had ever had after 34 cruises until this one. We can only attribute it to the fact that a catamaran is known to cause seasickness in the most sturdy of sailors unused to this means of sailing in the ocean.

I’m looking forward to being on dry land, but hopefully, I won’t face much upset with the high altitude again. It hit me when we were there a week ago, improving after the second day. Surely, we’ll look forward to returning to sea level again by Tuesday night. Whew! Some of the ups and downs required on this cruise may not be suitable for some. I barely squeaked by.

Lava heron waiting for a little fish.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thank you for your thoughtful and supportive comments, most recently and always. You all mean the world to us.

Be well.

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

No, this was not a creature we found in our bathroom at night. It was my delectable entrée, delicately grilled calamari with an octopus topper at dinner a week ago Saturday at the divine The Sands at Nomad in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to South America today!…An unexpected surprise from an old friend…

Tom’s old friend Jerry, from his railroad days, stopped by to celebrate our departure, bearing gifts and good humor. Thanks, Jerry! How thoughtful you are!

We’re packed and ready to go. We just returned from breakfast, each eating a little more to hold us until we can eat again. I may not eat again for 24 hours when airplane food never works for me, and there’s too little time between the two flights to stop for a meal.

We have a 1-hour, 9-minute layover in Houston after the four-hour flight from Minneapolis and then another 5-hour flight to Quito, Ecuador, much shorter than most of our flights. We don’t arrive until 11:35 pm, the same time zone as Minnesota. The cruise line has arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport to take us to our hotel, JW Marriott. Hopefully, we’ll handle the altitude relatively easily and get a good night’s sleep.

We’ve already started drinking a lot of water, which is recommended to reduce altitude sickness at Quito’s 9350 ft. We have no idea how we’ll react to this, but time will tell.

Me and Tom are in the hotel lobby celebrating with Jerry.

Yesterday early evening, after the dreadful Minnesota Twins playoff baseball game loss, we ordered takeaway from Pizza Luce since we no longer have a rental car, which we returned on October 9, when the 30-day contract ended. When we were getting ready to pick up the food, our hotel room phone rang, and it was Tom’s old friend from the railroad, Jerry.

Our room was too messy to invite Jerry, so we met him downstairs in the lobby. We were shocked and in awe of everything Jerry had brought for us to celebrate our departure under the guise of our mutual “un-birthdays.” He had hilarious stuffed animals, decorations, a plate of delicious bars, zip drives with books, a cap for Tom, an adorable card, and more.

We couldn’t believe his thoughtfulness and generosity to come all this way to make us both feel so special before departing for South America. We kept the bars, the zip drives, and the cap and suggested Jerry keep the decorations for his next celebration for another recipient.

When it was time for all of us to go, we hugged Jerry goodbye, thanking him repeatedly for thinking of us and being so kind and generous. He’s been a regular reader of our site for years and seems to know everywhere we’ve been and everything we’ve done. It’s always fun to meet with people who’ve been following us for some time.

Jerry’s partner, Dot, made these delicious brownies and caramel bars. Tom said they were delicious. We wrapped up the balance and brought them with us so Tom could snack on the journey to Quito.

So, soon, in about an hour, we’ll take off for the airport. We’ll get the cart to bring our bags down to the lobby and then call Uber to take us to the Airport. Tom always likes to go much earlier than we need to, but I go along to avoid him feeling stressed. Yes, we should arrive two hours earlier for international flights, when we must go through immigration and the lengthy line at US security.

It takes much longer to go through security at US airports than in other countries, but we follow the flow and keep a good attitude. There’s no point in making a fuss about waiting in a queue. Thank goodness I am over 75 years old and no longer have to take my shoes off when going through security. Duh, a small perk for being this old.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We will be back tomorrow, hopefully feeling well and adapting to the altitude in the same manner as we adapt to most travel situations. We shall see.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 11, 2013:

Early in the morning in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, we spotted this mother warthog nudging her babies along. We squealed with delight along with them as they scurried along. Anderson stopped the vehicle so we could watch as we noted a few lions in wait in the direction of the little pigs, hoping they’d be lunch. For the full story, please click here.

One day and counting…Packing day…Ten years ago…

Ten years ago at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, we were unpacked with our equipment plugged in, anxious to write here to begin sharing the experience. With no Internet connection in the tent and neither of our WiFi devices able to connect, we comfortably sat in the lodge to go online to post. As we’d mentioned, the connection was poor, preventing us from posting many photos until we returned to Diani Beach, where the connection wasn’t strong. We slept in the bed on the left, keeping our electronics plugged in on the bed on the right. For the first time ever, my camera ran out of juice on safari forcing us to use the 2nd camera, which Tom used less often. For this post, please click here.

It’s finally here: packing day before we depart for Ecuador, South America, tomorrow. It’s relatively easy to do in this small room with only a tiny closet and a few drawers. Most of our belongings remained in our suitcases, to which we’re adding the excess today. The biggest project will be packing the supplies bag, which has enough supplies to last us until June, when we return to South Africa, where we can restock most items.

After considerable research, I discovered that many items we use won’t be available in South America. However, there is the popular Mercado Libre, where some items we use may be found at twice the cost in the US. So, we may or may have been wise to stock up.

Today, when I am done packing, I will finish this post. Tonight, we’ll order takeaway from Pizza Luce. We love their meatballs, sauce, and parmesan cheese dish, which we ordered last night when we met Tammy and Tracy for dinner and trivia. Tom’s nephew Kevin stopped by to hang out with us, and we had another great time, the last we’ll spend with family before we depart tomorrow.

We usually carry one clothing bag each and one supply bag, all of which we check. But, it looks like we might save money by taking a fourth bag, which we still have, and paying the $65 extra for it to avoid being overweight by five or ten pounds in our other bags when they charge much more for being overweight.

Once we arrive at the hotel in Quito, we’ll use the fourth bag to pack for the cruise since we won’t be able to bring everything with us on the small (16-passenger) ship. We’ll have the hotel hold the remaining bags for us until we return for the last two days in Quito at the end of the cruise. From there, two days later, we’ll fly to Manta to collect the rental car and drive to the holiday house.

On the way to the house on October 24, we’ll stop for groceries and water. We’ll provide our drinking water while at the house since the water, as expected, is unsafe to drink. The owner said he’d have a filtering device like Brita, but those filters do not eliminate bacteria and could result in serious illness. Instead, we’ll buy plenty of bottled water, which will hopefully be safe.

Also, we won’t buy fresh vegetables in Ecuador or eat raw vegetables or salads in restaurants. Most likely, the vegetables and fruits from the farms have been rinsed in tap water. If I buy avocados while there, which I eat almost daily, I will carefully wash the exterior before cutting. However, instead, I will look for prepared guacamole, which may be safer to consume.

I don’t eat fruit other than avocados and tomatoes (I won’t eat those there either). But Tom eats an occasional banana and must carefully wash it before peeling and eating. When we buy fresh vegetables, we’ll only use them for cooking, which kills the bacteria if cooked well enough after careful washing.

We are researching to determine if there are any other nuances about Ecuador that we need to know. We will continue to do so until we arrive and then after that. One can’t be too safe, especially when neither of us needs to get sick right now (or ever, for that matter).

It’s hard to believe that in 48 hours, we’ll be in Quito and know how we’re doing with the altitude. If all is well, we will be thrilled and enjoy our time in the second-highest city in the world.

Today, at 3:07 pm, the Minnesota Twins baseball game will be on TV. We plan to be done packing and able to relax, watch the game, and eat our takeaway meal after the game ends. Hopefully, tonight, we’ll get a good night’s sleep. Last night was not so good for me when I was awake for three hours.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 10, 2013:

Our tent’s veranda at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Approaching, it took our breath away. For more photos, please click here.