Paperwork galore… Why so many errors?… Multitasking myths… More Managua photos…

A colorful collection of hammock slings in the Market Restaurant at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Managua.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom got this distant shot of the Montezuma Oropendola, which is a New World tropical icterid bird. It is a resident breeder in the Caribbean coastal lowlands from southeastern Mexico to central Panama but is absent from El Salvador and southern Guatemala.

We spent most of the day yesterday working on paperwork. I prepared a new food list for today’s appointment, which must be reviewed by the doctor for the upcoming Antarctica cruise. We completed all the forms necessary for the appointment, leaving the remainder required for the doctor to enter.

The lunch buffet at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Managua Hotel in Managua, Nicaragua, was tempting. But, after the complimentary breakfast, neither of us was interested in lunch, a meal we rarely consume.

We must always do some paperwork for various world travel and financial matters, including gobs of forms to print, sign, scan, and email. Some documents require faxing. Who still uses fax machines?  Aren’t they obsolete?

Most of the items in this buffet were suitable for my way of eating.

When we must fax a document, we can either email it to son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, during business hours or email it to our mailing service, where they can fax whatever we need. This is only concerning documents in the US, where all of our document processing is done with various businesses.

Seafood, chicken, and ham are great additions to salads. 

Often, mistakes are made on the other end; lost documentation, failure to complete processing, and the necessity of frequently making phone calls using our Skype phone number to confirm everything are correctly done. 

This is time-consuming and disappointing. We’ve learned never to assume the paperwork was handled properly, and we tend to check and re-check many times to discover the task wasn’t completed. We could quote dozens of such incidents over these past five years, but…we won’t bore our readers with this.

A sushi bar at the hotel.  Tom doesn’t care for sushi which I used to love in my old life.  Now, without the rice in the sushi rolls, I have no interest.  Plus, I’ve lost my taste for raw fish over these past years of travel.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’re not exempt from making errors. In our old lives, I recall having to call when cable and other utility bills had errors. What’s the deal with this?  

Even while in Minnesota, we discovered I’d booked our flight to Nevada on the wrong date, and it cost us over US $700 (CRC 398,574), never to be recouped. It was the first significant booking error I’d made that couldn’t be reversed or revised in some manner.

Comfortable seating in the sushi bar.

We, humans, are undoubtedly responsible for the words “human error.” It’s rampant. And, even the most meticulous of us can find ourselves in a pickle from our errors. Why does this happen?

After careful consideration of my own errors, I’ve come to realize it always occurs when I’m multitasking and not paying enough attention. There’s no excuse. 

The outdoor sports bar.

Since my flight booking error, this past summer occurred while we were so busy in Minnesota, I’ve carved out specific time without distractions to handle anything that could potentially cause us a problem. Tom and I now review bookings together, checking and re-checking each other’s work in booking events to ensure we have no errors.

In my youth, I was always proud of my ability to multitask. But, as we’ve aged, I’ve discovered doing so is not a benefit at all. Being able to focus on a critical task at a time is more fulfilling in the long run.

We sat in the lobby when we prepared the day’s post.

Recently, I’d read this article, The Myth of Multitasking, and completed the test shown in the report. There’s no doubt that multitasking doesn’t achieve one’s original intention of getting two or more tasks completed at one time in less time. 

Sure, I can multitask when cooking a meal; boil the water, stir fry the veggies and cook the bacon in the oven simultaneously. But, that’s cooking, not handling important financial and other matters that can result in chaos if not caught in time.

Bread items are offered at the complimentary breakfast buffet.

Today, we have tunnel-vision in getting our medical forms signed by the doctor, hopefully finding us both in good enough health to embark on the upcoming expedition cruise.

May you be able to focus on what must be completed in your life today! Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2016:

Tom, during breakfast in the main dining room on Radiance of the Seas 33-night cruise circumventing the Australian continent. For more details, please click here.

Zika Virus…A bearing on our future travels? Photos from a trip to the beach…

Many signs and names of towns are based on the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, the Māori whose’s language has had official language status, with the right to use it in legal settings such as in court, since the Maori Language Act 1987. There are around 70,000 native speakers of Maori out of a population of over 500,000 Māori people, with 161,000 of the country’s 4 million residents claiming conversational ability in Māori.”

The Zika virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world with the majority of cases in South America, particularly in Brazil with over one million cases and growing out of control. 

Here’s more information on the Zika virus from the US’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

It’s easy to expect beaches throughout the world to be sandy, and pristine with blue waters.  Many beaches such as in New Zealand and Australia aren’t blue due to the interaction of light and particles present in the water. When there are mineral sediments lights from the blue spectrum are absorbed by the particles, thus the water appears to be brown.  Also, not all beaches have the soft, fine sand, we found in Belize and Hawaii.

No doubt this virus will spread to other countries in South America and throughout the world unless drastic measures are taken to control it. What those measures may be at this point are unknown and under research in many laboratories worldwide. 

Low tide is more evident on many beaches, but not all.

Will a vaccine, cure or remedy be available by 2017 when we head to South America? At this point, we have no idea, but continue to watch the news for updates. Will we change our plans to spend as much as two years in South America from 2017 to 2019?

As we’ve traveled continents, island nations, and many countries we’ve heard of a variety of viruses that may infect locals and travelers alike. We don’t take any of these illnesses lightly. That’s what precipitated our having as many as 18 vaccinations before we left the US which we’ll update as needed over time.

With many surfers attracted to this area, a lifeguard is on duty, well equipped for rescue.

However, new viruses continue to develop throughout the world and our exposure is no doubt enhanced as we traveled to potentially infected countries. We’ve already visited several of the countries on the currently “infected” list. 

Surfers awaiting an opportunity.

Now, as we’ve begun to book travel to South America, there’s no doubt we’ve given the Vika virus consideration as to the impact it may have on us visiting such countries as Brazil. 

How else might we travel the Amazon River in Brazil and eventually, the top priority on our list…the Pantanal, the most wildlife diverse wetlands areas in the world (talk about mosquitoes!). 

Pretty cloud formation on a very cloudy day.  Note distant airplane and boat in left of photo.

At this point, after considerable discussion and information gathering, we’ve decided to continue with our plans.  It’s not as if we can say, “Oh, let’s wait and go in 10 years?” In twelve years I’ll be 80 years old and Tom will be 75.  Will we have the health and stamina we now have to continue? There’s no way of knowing.

Campgrounds are located at the end of the road at Oakura Beach with an onsite office for booking space.

If we were young, putting off South America would be practical. We’re not. The clock is ticking, whether we like it or not, as it is for everyone. It just so happens we’re closer to the final hour along with all the others our age throughout the world, many of us who have “things to do” and “places to see” before it’s too late.

There are permanent and temporary sites for caravans (motorhomes) and travel trailer type homes.

Continuing with our desire of visiting each continent before it is too late, doesn’t dissipate with news of a virus that based on information to date, is not life threatening for adults who aren’t pregnant. 

If this virus was comparable to the deadly Ebola virus, we’d definitely change our plans. If at any point the virus is considered life threatening to older adults, we’ll certainly reassess our views, changing plans if necessary.

Small sleeping tent sites are available for a fee which includes multiple facilities.

For now, we trek on, with hope in our hearts for a resolution for those living in infected countries and for our ongoing safety as we continue our journey.

Have a lovely weekend.

Photos from one year ago today, January 30, 2015:

The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach were varied when we visited the Napali Coast in Kauai. For more details, please click here.

Doctor appointments and medical tests…Funny things in our neighborhood…

Mailbox in front of a house down the road from us.

We’re still busy with my medical appointments and tests. Our reader’s input encouraged us to make doctor appointments for each of us. We decided to do one of us at a time since mine is a bit more comprehensive than Tom’s. 

A sign in front of the house that is currently for sale.

Once my appointments are completed, we’ll get to work on his. The clinic, Apple Tree Medical is located a short distance down the road near the Smithfield shopping center, less than 10 minutes from our home. 

The young, highly competent Dr. Natasha Cress was thorough and took a tremendous amount of time with me answering many questions, pleased that I’d brought along a comprehensive list on an app on my phone. 

Statue of a horse, a cart, and a man in front of the house.

Why would we be any less detail orientated when it comes to our health than we are when preparing a post or planning a new location? The same detailed procedures and doctor will be used for Tom’s upcoming appointments.

Interesting vegetation growing in the yard.  Notice Fred Flintstone on the left in the photo. Wait, more is coming.

This morning at 8 am, we headed back to the clinic for my blood tests on an empty stomach. With one remaining appointment for me with the doctor on Monday at 3 pm, we’ll be back here with the costs. I can’t wait to share how much less expensive medical care is here in Australia as compared to the US.

In Australia, they have their own form of Medicare, which provides insurance for all citizens generally without a co-pay. When charging us for appointments and tests they’ve only charged us what their Medicare would have paid making it very affordable.

Fairly large statues of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone.  Brings back memories!

With our medical insurance only covering “major medical” (hospitalization), we’re responsible for paying for outpatient tests and appointments at the time of service. Once everything is completed, we’ll both have peace of mind and be ready to continue on in the more remote locations awaiting us in the months to come. 

Even Dino from the Flintstones was there. This statue is most likely as tall as an adult human.

Of course, after not having medical exams or tests for three years, we have a little concern that everything will be fine. However, if feeling well is an indicator all should be fine. We never take good health for granted, knowing that it all can change in a moment, feeling well or not. 

A different house on the same side of the street with pretty landscaping.

As we all are well aware, once we reach a certain age the likelihood of issues only escalates no matter how hard we may try to maintain a good level of health through lifestyle; exercise, low or well-managed stress, good sleep, healthy foods, and good relationships, all of which are vital to our well being.

Horses and a peacock in the front yard.

Continuing on, we’re still working on the Cairns Tropical Zoo stories and will upload them in the next several days. In the interim, we continue to drive and visit some of the many points of interest in this magical place. 

A peacock with another bird we couldn’t identify. Could it be some type of turkey?

On a whim, we drove down the road from our house and discovered these sights in the neighbor’s yard. One can never know what fun little treasures lurk only a short distance away. Enjoy our goofy photos!

The mailman coming down the road.  It appears most letter mail is delivered on a motorcycle.

It’s cloudy and rainy today. Most likely we’ll stay put handling some accounting, laundry, cooking, and completing the future posts. Whatever we chose to do each day, in or out, we find ourselves cherishing every moment of this life we’ve been given.

Another horse in the front yard of the second house. Even on cloudy and rainy days such as this, we easily find ways to entertain ourselves from the car.

Have a wild and wonderful Wednesday on that side of the International Dateline and a terrific Thursday on this side of the world!

                                                Photo from one year ago today, July 9, 2014:

This is our second house in Fiji on the main island that we booked one year ago today. Our first location in Fiji in on the smaller island, Vanua Levu. For details on this booking, please click here.

Health concerns for travelers of any age…Questions and answers applicable to all…

Sunday’s sunset from Jeri and Hans’ third-floor veranda, the last rain-free day.

The following comments are not intended in any manner to substitute for professional medical advice. This post is entirely based on our personal travel experiences regarding preparedness in the event of medical issues or emergencies.  Please seek the care of your medical professionals in regard to your personal healthcare.

Coupling our interest in health and well being with our worldwide travels has been important to us. Many seniors and younger travelers alike choose to address health concerns before traveling. Many others “wing it” hoping for the best, in many cases a poor decision or, simply a lack of a decision at all.

Checking online over the past almost two years, we have discovered a wealth of resources available that may be of assistance, too many to list here.

We’ve found that researching credible medical sites are crucial, not simply the opinions of a few travelers with a good or bad experience, often seeking a place to vent frustrations and unfortunate experiences.

Some of the questions we had and the answers we’ve discovered that have worked for us, that we’d asked ourselves when planning our world travels include and on an ongoing basis:

  • Will we get intestinal distress from eating uncooked fruits and vegetables? If so, how does one reduce that risk? Yes, illness is often a result of produce eaten raw. This risk does exist when non-purified water is used to rinse produce, which is then eaten raw, such as lettuce, celery, and fruit. Usually, cooking vegetables destroy most of the bacteria. We rinse all of our produce in a bowl of purified water, replacing the water as needed. Always remain mindful of cross-contamination of washed and unwashed produce. We washed all of our produce immediately before placing it in the refrigerator.  This may reduce shelf life, but our “shelf life” is more important.
  • Is it safe to drink the water? Before we arrive at each location we research to determine if the water is safe to drink.If not, we arrange for the property owner to have a several-day supply of purified water awaiting us to ensure we have ample time to get to a grocery store.
  • What about brushing our teeth? This is often a cause of illness. We keep small bottles of purified water in the bathroom for wetting the brush, rinsing our mouths after brushing and rinsing our toothbrushes. Daily, we brush with baking soda and then do a full 20-minute coconut oil gargle which kills bacteria in the mouth, spitting it out when done. Once a week we disinfect our toothbrushes (and my contact lens case) in hot boiled purified water.
  • What happens if get water into our mouths while taking a shower? Immediately, spit it out and promptly rinse the mouth with mouthwash, and brush our teeth following the above process using purified bottled water.
  • Can water be boiled to become safe to use? We don’t recommend this process. Considerable bacteria may remain if the water is not boiled long enough, 15 to 20 minutes, or more. This would only be done in the case of a dire emergency.
  • What about washing dishes?  Ideally, we could use purified water to wash dishes.  Unfortunately, the cost of bottled water is prohibitive and if done properly this isn’t necessary. Wash and rinse dishes, pans, and flatware in the hottest cleanest soapy water your hands can take. Drain on a clean cloth. Wipe dishes dry with another clean towel and leave out, not stacked, to further dry on the clean counter to ensure that no water molecules remain.  Wash your hand before handling dishes which we each do so often it’s ridiculous.
  • Do we need to take malaria pills or other prophylactic medications while traveling? Taking pills for the prevention of malaria depends on the location of your travels. Check with your local travel clinic for detailed maps and information for every country in the world. Other prophylactic medication? For us, we take a Bifidus Probiotic  (30 billion CFU minimum) supplement daily to keep the balance of good bacteria in the gut.  These may be purchased online or at any quality health store.  Research for a quality brand, most of which require refrigeration for freshness.  We have been taking multiple individual supplements for years.
  • What do we do if our luggage is lost or stolen containing all of our daily medications? Do we need to bring along copies of our current prescriptions, written letter explaining the use of medical syringes, if applicable, etc.? Yes! Yes! Yes! We have copies of all of our prescriptions and a doctor’s letter listing all of the supplements we use. Even so, we had trouble boarding a Carnival Ship in Belize (see the posts of April 9th and 10th, 2013 for details of our ordeal).  Also, we carry several Epipen syringes, in the event, we have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to stings from insects or other substances, including a doctor’s letter of authorization.
  • Will our insurance pay if we become ill?  Do we need to purchase emergency evacuation insurance?  Is it costly? Every policy is different.  Check with your policy benefit well in advance of travel to determine what will or won’t be paid. Generally, Medicare usually doesn’t pay outside the US, but check on your supplemental policy’s terms and conditions.  Emergency Evacuation insurance is a must if you’re traveling outside your home country unless your regular policy provides this coverage. Check for specific details well in advance of travel.  On its own, emergency evacuation insurance usually is US $200 to US $300 per person for a two-week vacation. Keep in mind, that “travel insurance” and “emergency evacuation insurance may be entirely different from one another; one if in case of cancellation on non-refundable fares, etc. and, the other is for medical purposes. A few policies have both features combined. Check carefully for details.
  • Do we need vaccinations to travel abroad?  Again, check with your local travel clinic, a highly valuable resource when planning a trip abroad.  Countries in Africa may require proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever and other communicable diseases.  We keep a copy of our entire vaccination record (we had around 18 separate vaccinations) on the inside flap of our passport holders. We haven’t been asked to produce these records yet , but entry into a country can be refused if not provided.
  • How much in advance must we plan for the vaccinations? We both began the vaccination process 6 months in advance of our departure from Minnesota.  Many vaccines require waiting periods between boosters.  Many vaccines may be given at one appointment, which is not detrimental to their efficacy.  The question becomes…how will you tolerate multiple vaccines in one appointment? If dubious, space them out as I did with no side effects.  Many vaccines such as Yellow Fever don’t require a booster for 10 years.
  • Did our insurance cover the cost of the vaccinations?  At the time we had the vaccines, both of us were covered under Tom’s policy from work which much to our surprise, paid 100% of the cost.  With the number of vaccines we chose to receive, the total cost would have been over $1500 each.  If you have Medicare or under the new guidelines, this may not be covered. Please check with your company to determine what, if any is now covered.
  • Will the tours and excursions in which we plan to partake fit within the confines of our current physical conditions and limitations?  Most tour operators specific the “difficulty level” of each of their tours and excursions.  However, these are often minimized, leaving participants gasping for air and exhausted or perhaps at severe risk.  Read reviews and comments online at travel websites such as Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor.  These comments are often a better resource of “factual” information as opposed to the sales orientated tour companies and cruise lines.
  • Did we bring along extra prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and supplies, (and hearing aid batteries, if applicable).  What if we lose any of these?  How do we plan to replace them?  We both have our optical prescriptions with us, even if they expire.  In the event of a loss, most prescription eyewear and contacts can be replaced locally or through the mail.  Tom has three pairs of backup prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. I brought along 24 boxes (6 packs) of contact lenses enough to last three years. I do purchase lens solution at a local pharmacy due to the added weight of the bottles which may be difficult to find in some locations (Belize and Italy).
  • If we use any particular medical supplies, what happens if they’re lost or quit working? Although Tom nor I use any particular devices, we suggest bringing a backup in the event of loss or failure.  We do have a thermometer, small blood pressure cuff, emergency suture kit, and emergency dental supplies (dental glue) in the event a crown or filling falls out or dislodges.
  • What over the counter medications did we include? We packed Aleve, Tylenol, Tylenol PM, aspirin, Milk of Magnesia and Benadryl, cortisone cream, antihistamine cream, antibacterial cream, and hydrogen peroxide.
  • What first aid supplies did we bring? Besides the above comments above, we have Bandaids, bandages, sterile gauze pads, sterile gauze wrap, ace bandage, liquid bandage, and Lidocaine patches.
  • Immediately upon arrival,l in a new location, what precautions do we take in the event we become ill or injured? Upon arrival at our new home, we ask the owner/landlord or property manager the location/phone of the best local hospital, medical clinic, physicians, and dentists in the event of any emergency. For example, here in Kenya, we have the phone number of a physician who will make a house call in the event of a non-life-threatening emergency.  Otherwise, there is a hospital within 10 minutes on the main road.

Yes, I know, this stuff is difficult to address. And for many of you who seldom travel it may be boring. But, for those who travel even short distances on a day-long road trip, being away from one’s home base can present challenging health concerns.

Years ago, I was meeting up with a bunch of girlfriends in Mexico for pre-arranged dinner plans. When they hadn’t arrived after a two-hour wait, I tried calling to no response. A day later, I received a call from one of the other friends in the group informing me that the friend had fallen into a hole under a “grate” on the sidewalk resulting in a serious compound fracture of the leg.

The only way to receive quality medical care was to return her to the US immediately.  With her not having emergency evacuation insurance and the requirement of payment in full in advance of the flight with the air ambulance service, the friend had no alternative but to ask family members for their credit card numbers to cover the then cost of US $25,000 when her own card had a US $5000 limit. Can you imagine the stress of returning home facing your own credit card bill, but also that of the cards of family members? That airfare was 30 years ago. Can you imagine how much it would be in this day and age?

This scenario remained stuck in my mind for 2 reasons; one, don’t walk on grates, wooden boards, or any potentially unstable surfaces on roads and sidewalks (in any location). Of course, Tom has adopted this practice also, as we’ve always alerted one another to possible hazards.  And, the second reason, always have an emergency evacuation policy in effect when traveling outside your home country.

Last night, we ventured out to dinner during a massive rainstorm that had started on Monday continuing all the way through today, Wednesday.  As is typical in Diani Beach restaurants, the walk from the taxi drop off area to the restaurant is long and treacherous with uneven steps, many often twice as steep as we’d expect, multiple tripping hazards, slippery surfaces, and the risk of falling tree limbs and coconuts.

Always carrying our LED mini flashlights has proven to be vital to our safety.  Last night, leaving the restaurant in torrential rains and gusty winds, luckily under an umbrella provided by the restaurant, I hung onto Tom for dear life.  If one of us went down, we both were going down. The long, steep outdoor steps were particularly hard to maneuver when their design was inconsistent and there was not a light or handrail at any point.

We both sighed with relief when we found Alfred, our trusty regular taxi driver, waiting for us and quickly jumping out to open the car doors as we handed off the umbrella to the restaurant server who escorted us. We were soaked all the way through to our underwear, but grateful to have made it to the taxi without incident.

No traveler can sit back and make the assumption that they are invincible and exempt from possible injury or illness when traveling.  With all the effort we’ve made, on a few occasions, we’ve fallen prey to unforeseen illness and injury. We can only hope and pray that we’ve exercised more than adequate foresight to guide us through those tough situations.

As they say on a mindless drivel TV show, Big Brother…” expect the unexpected.”  Doing so need not reduce the quality of our experiences or result in needless worrying.  But, preparedness, certainly minimizes the risks enhancing the quality of our experiences.

Raining for days…

A palm frond we discovered on the drive to Maya Beach

It’s rained almost nonstop the past three days.  With no screens on the windows, the humidity at 100%, the bugs are literally swarming around me biting every few minutes.  Trying not to scratch seems to reduce the longevity of the itching.

Both of us are making a concerted effort to stay cheerful and optimistic. We perceive this period of time as “training.”  Training to learn to live with the bites, the humidity, the inclement weather, the lack of hot water, often no water at all, and of course, the bugs. 

Beach at Maya Beach Hotel

It won’t be like this everywhere we’ve planned to visit, only a few.  In a little over 60 days, we’ll be aboard ship again for over a month.  That’s an easy life.

We had no delusions that this would be one long vacation. However, we hadn’t imagined we’d have this water issue.  Had we known, we would not have rented this small beach house.

Tom at Maya Beach

Apparently, the water problem is due to issues with the city trying to repair the lines.  They shut off the water frequently, not turning it back on for hours, sometimes days. When they finally do, its a mere trickle, not enough to flush the toilet. There is no hot water from any faucet. We showered, washing off our sweaty and bug spray covered skin under the cold trickle.

We have no options to move.  After days of looking, this being the high season, there isn’t a single habitable place for us in any of the decent areas.  Hotels are too expensive and have no vacancies as mentioned in a past post.  We have nine weeks to go.


The golf cart sits in the driveway unattended.  We can’t wait to get out again.  It cleared for a little while yesterday early afternoon enabling us to drive the three miles to Maya Beach to check out some restaurants.  We’ve decided to eat out three times a week. It helps. The Maya Beach Hotel has the top-rated restaurant in the country of Belize, the Bistro.

Making a reservation for dinner for last night we sat at the bar, ordering a soda while perusing their unique menus, anxious to return in four hours to enjoy not only their epicurean delights but the inviting ambiance as well.  There were numerous options befitting our way of eating.  Tom cheats when we dine out, but with apparently no repercussions other than weight gain.  The next day he eats healthy balancing it all out.

Me at the Maya Beach Hotel.  Pockets filled with stuff as usual. 

We stopped along the return drive exploring the side streets, other restaurants, and the lush unusual vegetation. We stopped at the grocery store, miraculously finding a nonstick pizza pan wrapped in plastic, dusty in the back of a shelf, which will travel the world with us. 

When we originally packed, we laughed at the idea of bringing along a pizza pan.  But now, with a desire for a decent homemade meal with the limitations at the grocery stores, we’re grateful we found a pan. Our pizza requires parchment paper or Reynold’s No Stick foil. Neither of these exists in this country. Hopefully, the nonstick pan will suffice. They don’t sell mushrooms in Belize. 

The nicest grocery store near us

There’s little meat in the grocery stores only a few clumps of freezer-burned, frozen packages and literally no fresh meat. The grass-fed meat is all frozen.  We made steak.  It was thin and tough.  We ate it anyway. 

Mostly, the people of Belize eat beans, rice, pork, plantains, fried tortillas, a combination of many cultures. I’ve yet to see any seafood, fresh, or frozen in any of the three biggest grocery stores in the area. Yet, the restaurant’s menus are filled with seafood options.

A house we passed on the road to Maya Beach

On the ride back to the little house, the clouds rapidly changed from fluffy white to dark barreling cylinders.  We barely made it inside the door when the pouring rain returned.  If we were to make our 6:30 dinner reservation, we’d need to leave at 6:10. 

The rain never stopped. Dressed and ready to go at 6:00 PM we decided that we couldn’t risk it. The roof over the golf cart would provide no protection from the high winds and sideways rain. I contacted the restaurant online and canceled the reservation, promising to try again soon.  Today, actually.

Neither of us had eaten all day, not hungry after our huge buffet dinner the night before. There we were, not only hungry but needing to eat.  The tiny freezer held two items, Italian sausage for the pizza (quite the find) and two one-pound packages of ground grass-fed steak in funny skinny rolled packages less than 2″ in diameter.  Taking out the meat, it took but a few minutes to begin to defrost.

The Bistro at the Maya Beach Hotel rated Belize’s Top Rated Restaurant of the Year in 2012.  We tried to keep our reservation last night at 6:30 driving our golf cart the three miles, but were ‘rained out.” Trying again tonight! 

Tom said as I sliced the meat into well-shaped rounds, “Now we know why they serve so many “sliders” here.  They use this same meat!” We laughed.

First, cooking eight slices of bacon in my trusty frying pan, I placed the nine tiny burgers, well seasoned, into the pan carefully cooking them until fully done, more important now than ever. When done, we covered each mini burger with a chunk of sharp cheddar cheese and the cooked bacon. On the side, we had canned green beans made by Goya, a product line familiar in the US. 

Travel Nurse Marsha suggested we eat canned brand name vegetables as opposed to fresh to avoid the risk of waterborne disease and parasites.  The upscale resort restaurants have reverse osmosis systems to protect their hotel guests and customers. We never fail to ask. If so, we feel comfortable eating their cooked vegetables, although we refuse the raw vegetables which may be subject to mishandling, water parasites, and the like.  No salad while here. 

The only sickness we’ve experienced since leaving the US was the flu/cough/colds we contracted on the last cruise. Everyone was coughing. Mine still lingers, improving a little each day. 

We continue to boil a huge pot of water each day for washing dishes, hands, and faces. We drink only purified bottled water, five-gallon jugs for $3 US. Tom pours them into our smaller used purified water bottles, making them easier to handle. Both of us are feeling our shoulders in this humidity.

We fill empty bottles with tap water, keeping three or four large jugs in the bathroom to use for flushing the toilet, being extra careful never to mix them up since they all look alike. 

This morning the water ran long enough to do a load of laundry. A few days ago, it took six hours for one load, today only two. With the rain pelting, we hung the clothes indoors on the surprisingly available indoor clothesline.  I wondered why it was there when we first walked in the door almost a week ago. It will take two days for them to dry. Seriously. Did you ever use a bath towel hung in humidity to dry?  It hurts to wipe oneself! Guess it’s a good way to exfoliate after a refreshing cold shower.

As I write this the rain has stopped, although the dark clouds hover.  Our hope is to leave here at 5:00 PM today to head to The Bistro for a much-anticipated dinner by the sea. Bug spray before we dash out the door. The no-see-ums arrive at 5:00 pm. They have Crystal Lite Martguerita’s.  Hum….

Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada check in…

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, to our vacation rental in Green Valley Ranch, a newer community with massive amounts of stores, restaurants, gated communities, and a  mere sprinkling of casinos. 

It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas with its slot machines in every gas station or public building.  Instead, it feels welcoming, safe, and low on tourists.

Entering the single-family home for the eight days we reserved over Tom’s birthday and Christmas, we knew immediately that we were “home.” A fresh smell wafted through the air (love that word!), welcoming us as we maneuvered through the door arms laden with “stuff.”

Unloading my arms onto the living room floor, I ran about from room to room squealing with delight. Each room had its own surprise to behold. 

From the stack of perfectly folded crisp white towels and washcloths in each of three bedrooms, two baths, and an ample linen closet, to the full-size bars of new soaps atop each stack, no stone was left unturned.  

The kitchen, fully stocked with every amenity, had a “working” ice machine, ground coffee, cream, some basic ingredients along with every small appliance we could possibly use.  Three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, stereo, and old fashioned boxed games were available for our entertainment.

The pool, although not heated and an extra $100 a day to heat (it’s too cold here now in the 30s!) has a free-use hot tub (forgot my suit) in a well-equipped yard with high top table, chairs, and a huge newer grill. Too bad it’s not 90 degrees!

The rent for the eight days, although much more than we’ll pay outside the US for most houses, was fair at $1500 which included a $250 cleaning deposit which we expect to get back.  We did the math.  Most likely we would have paid $165 a night for a hotel (including taxes) during the holidays, plus tips, valet parking, plus all meals in a restaurant, and how much lost with easy access to gambling.  Surely we would have spent at least $400 a day for an estimate of $3200.

Staying in this lovely home, cooking for Tom’s party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including our guests, our grocery and dining out budget is $1050, leaving us with a total of $2300 saving us $900 or more depending on how much we’d have lost gambling (we don’t usually gamble but when it’s at hand, it’s hard to resist). 

This is the first Christmas in my adult life that I won’t be shopping in a frenzy, wrapping gifts with elaborate hand made bows, baking a wide array of delectable cookies, and of course, decorating every corner of the house. In an odd way, it’s liberating.  We’ll miss family back in Minnesota and we’ll revel in family and friends here in Nevada.  Life is filled with trade-offs.

Soon, we’ll head to our two dentist appointments for our final cleanings, then off to the travel clinic for Tom’s final Twinrix vaccine.  Then, to the grocery store for the ingredients for the lesser amount of baking, I’ll do this year. 

It won’t be gluten-free, low carb, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free.  It will be delicious, fattening, gooey, filling up this lovely home with smells that remind us of “home.”  I won’t take a taste.  Tom will take off a few days for this special time, his 60th birthday, and some of his favorite treats.

Hum. There’s no rolling pin. What shall I use in its place?

P.S. After writing the above this morning, then rushing out the door to the dentist’s office, I had yet to post it. Upon returning a few minutes ago, it was imperative that I amend it.  We just had the most amazing dental appointment in our lives, a referral from son Richard at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office in Henderson, Nevada.

Walking into his plush, well-appointed office puts me, a dental phobic, instantly at ease. From the elegant, upscale furnishings to the artwork to the well-equipped beverage bar and, the service, impeccable!  Even the restroom was a sight to behold with every imaginable accouterment. 

It almost felt as if we should tip not only the receptionist, but also Terry, the knowledgeable, personable, and thoughtful hygienist.  Instead of the usual hand performed cleaning, scraping away at our gums and teeth, Terry used a laser implement as an adjunct to the traditional cleaning. She used “before and after” photos that were shocking. 

After the cleaning, she performed what she referred to as “sandblasting” the surface of our teeth with a high powered baking soda spray.  The taste was awful.  The result, mind-blowing. My teeth hadn’t been this white since I was a toddler. We couldn’t be happier. 

As we paid our reasonable bill of $226 (for both of us), they thanked us profusely handing us a giant apple pie! Who gets an apple pie from the dentist?  I was thrilled with the bag of dental supplies Terry loaded up for our travel. And then, this giant pie. Wow! 

Need I say that we were impressed?  If you live near or around Henderson or are visiting Las Vegas and a dental situation arises, Dr. Simone’s office is the place to call.

Gee, for the eight days we’re, here in Henderson over the holidays, this does feel like home, minus the grandkids, the grown kids, the friends, the beautifully decorated tree, the elegantly wrapped gifts, the oversized glass jars filled with home-baked cookies, the Santa Bears adorning every corner and on and on.

Life will be different going forward.  Good, but, different.

Photos of upcoming vacation home in Nevada!…

Pool and Spa
Pool and hot tub in Nevada house.
Living room
Living room.

Below are the photos of the Henderson, Nevada vacation rental we’ll be moving into this upcoming Wednesday after a five-hour drive across the desert. We posted these photos many months ago, doing so again today for our newer readers.

Master bedroom.
Second of three bedrooms.

A charming house with great reviews in located in the fabulous Green Valley Ranch area in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, will definitely serve our needs for eight days over the holidays with family and friends coming to visit for the three days between Tom’s 60th birthday on the 23rd and Christmas.  We couldn’t be more thrilled.

3rd bedroom
Third bedroom.

Over the next two days, we’ll busily pack for the eight days in Nevada, finish the balance of our paperwork, pack the food and cooking supplies we’ve accumulated while in Scottsdale, and the hardest part of all, decide what we’re leaving behind in one final bin we’ll leave at son Richard‘s house.

Kitchen, dining area.

This is the hardest part.  Once we leave the vacation house in Henderson on the 27th, we return to the vacation house in Scottsdale for our final packing before leaving on January 1st for San Diego to ultimately sail away on January 3rd.  Any items we don’t bring to Henderson now become a part of our luggage, an impossible scenario.

2nd Living room
Casual dining and lounge area off of the kitchen.

We have warm clothes that we aren’t bringing (Good thing we brought them along for the cold weather we’ve experienced lately), piles of papers to pass off to my sister Julie who’ll spend Tom’s birthday and Christmas with us as well. 

Pool Table
Pool table in the living area.

Julie will keep our medical files with test results, our health care directives, and stacks of legal documents that we completed on Friday.  We’ll leave our tax prep receipts in a banker’s box with Richard

The kitchen is dated, but serves our needs.

Oh, it goes on and on.  There’s so much to remember much of which I listed on a Nevada “to do” and others that require me walking around and “looking” at everything to further remind me. Thank goodness, my memory is serving me well. 

Living room
Main living room.

Not only will we move into the house below, but we’ll get ready for Christmas, baking (for guests), decorating (just a little), and go to our dentist appointments for final cleanings.  After the dentist, Tom has an appointment at a local travel clinic for his last TwinRix vaccine. 

Hot tub as part of the pool.

Plus, we’ll complete the arrangements for the sale of Tom’s car (prospective buyer in the works), hopefully, to transpire while we’re in San Diego over the last two days.  If that doesn’t work out for any reason, of course, we have a Plan B. 

On January 2, we’ll take the SUV to a local dealer and sell it for whatever they’ll give us.  Apparently, there’s a shortage of clean used vehicles. After pricing it at Edmunds, we feel confident that we will sell it for close to the dealer’s wholesale price. It’s a 2010 model and in perfect condition.  We’re already prepared for a low offer accepting this reality as part of the process, especially after doing so poorly at our estate sale. Ouch!  Nobody cares to pay what we feel “our stuff” is worth.  

Here’s the link to the details and photos about the Henderson home.  (Please excuse the formatting issues. It’s rather tricky copying and pasting photos from other web sites.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, web design is not my forte).

The continuing medical concerns…

When meeting with Nurse Marcia a month ago at the Park Nicollet Travel Clinic, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, we had discussed the rabies vaccine.  The cost is outrageous at $350 per person per injection, a series of three injections spread a month apart at a total cost of $2100 for both Tom and I. 

At the time, I suggested we hold off on rabies until further down the road. With only a little over five months left to departure date, the time had arrived to investigate this further.  I called our insurance company.  Much to my surprise, they will cover the cost in full! Thus, we decided to proceed with the rabies series.  My first rabies vaccine will begin on June 5th with Tom’s over the next few months.

We made this decision based on a few concerns; one; we will want to explore the bat filled caves in Belize (guano!) next February and two; while living among the animals in Kruger National Park in South Africa in December 2013 we will be exposed to a possible incident.  Surely, these two situations warrant a radical precaution such as the rabies vaccines.  

Is it likely a rabid bat will bite us while riding in an inner tube through the caves in Belize?  Highly, unlikely. Is it possible we will be bitten by a rabid wildebeest while lounging by the pool in South Africa?  Possible, yes. Likely, no.  

We have decided that any precautions we can take in the planning of our lengthy journey will be well spent both in time and in money. Unquestionably, situations will occur that we aren’t able to anticipate at this point, in regard to health and well being and their resulting costs.  

The more we prepare, the less likely we will experience angst and frustration. Remember, our journey…”wafting through our worldwide travels with joy, simplicity and ease,” requires as much preparation as possible.  Thank goodness, we’ve had the time and the determination to plan ahead to this extent.  

Yesterday, I had an appointment with our long time family practice physician, Dr. Dennis Showalter, a fine youthful doctor with a bright smile, kind and uplifting demeanor, sharp knowledge and a passion for his work.  

An advocate of main stream medicine, he and I have butt heads over the years with my penchant for alternative medicine and my obvious obsession with online research, (albeit reliable medical schools, universities and research institutes). All in all, Dr. S. always sought the best course available for any of our various ailments, real or imagined, and has provided the utmost of care.

Now, as our journey approaches, he and I discussed the challenges we may experience along he way, requiring medicine and/or medical care.  Here’s are a few of our concerns and possible solutions:

  1. Prescriptions:  Our insurance company only allows refills every three months with no regard to the willingness of the physician to write the prescriptions for longer periods.  With little access to mail as we flit about the world, receiving the prescription can be tricky.  Solution:  With our mailing service in the US, they can receive the prescriptions and forward them to us at the post office closest to our current location. We must ensure that we have an ample “extra supply of meds” to account for the extended mailing time. In the interim, I have requested a “travel waiver” from the insurance company which I will receive soon and process.
  2. Illness:  How often does one become ill at home in the US in 949 days?  For us, seldom, perhaps a cold or flu once every year for one of us.  Do we normally go to the doctor or get medication in these cases?  No. Tom and I seldom visit the doctor other than the required once a year exam in order to refill our medications. 
    Solution: Dr. S. can accommodate this requirement by conducting an online appointment with us as offered by our medical group. Should we require emergency medical care, we’ll seek out the closest, most highly recommended, medical facility within reach of our location.
  3. Emergency Illness:  Hopefully, we won’t require emergency medical treatment/surgery due to illness or injury. 
    Solution:  Many countries we will visit have excellent medical care and we’d go to the nearest hospital for care as one would here in the US.  If we are in a country with inferior medical care, we will use our then in-force Emergency Evacuation Insurance, a plan we have investigated and yet to purchase. (Many plans will not cover our extended period out of the US.  This particular company, requires an annual renewal.  However, they will provide coverage for us at about $100 a month per person, a cost we have budgeted).
  4. Preventive Medications:  As most of us, from time to time, we use over the counter medication that may provide temporary relief from annoying minor ailments which includes: antihistamines, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibacterial cream, cortisone cream, anti-itch cream, etc. 
    Solution:  Dr. S. and the travel clinic will provide us with prescriptions as preventive measures: Epipen (both allergic to bees), various antibiotics, allergy meds, anti-viral, ear patches (sea sickness, highly unlikely for either of us as long time boaters) cough medicine and other non-narcotic medications in the event we are far from medical treatment.   

In September, after having completed all of our vaccines with the travel clinic, we will book our final appointment with Dr. S. to review all of our medications, conduct last minute tests, perform our annual physicals, and send us off with his medical blessings for a safe and healthy adventure.  

They refused to give me the dreaded shots!

A weird thing happened to me yesterday. I usually write in this blog every other day but yesterday was a weird day, a very weird day and I didn’t post at all.

Upon awakening in a foggy blur, I felt unfamiliar in my own surroundings. The light filtering through the various window coverings in our home appeared eerie and muted.

As I mindlessly wandered off to the kitchen to perform a series of ritualistic tasks, a wave of uncertainty washed over me. As many of us old-timers, both Tom and I toss back a small handful of prescription meds each morning and a big handful of a variety of vitamins throughout the day. 

My routine was broken, when I didn’t put in my contact lenses before going into the kitchen, a habit I seldom break, now thrown off by the peculiar feel of the day.  Pouring a quarter cup of purified water into my usual plastic tumbler I emptied the dose of the Tuesday morning prescriptions, tossing my head back with one big gulp.

Something was wrong!  My brain had taken a quick snapshot of the handful of pills and in an instant, I realized that the chunky pills drifting down my throat didn’t feel like the usual sensation.  Eyes blurry with no contacts, I looked at the one week pill case and realized I had just taken Tom’s pill, not mine!

My heart began to race as I ran into the bathroom to insert my contacts, made difficult by my shaking hands.  I needed to look again to confirm I had taken the wrong pills.  I had.  Oh, dear.

Since I am the official pill case packer in our household, familiar with all of Tom’s meds, my mind raced through the possible consequences of having taken his medications and the possible side effects.

OK, nothing horrible will happen to me I deduced upon deciding against taking another single pill the remainder of the day, letting these medications work their way out of my system.

By the time I arrived at the Immunization Clinic, I was experiencing full-blown side effects:  dry mouth and gurgling stomach.  In jokingly explaining to the nurse what I had done, I was sent away.  No live vaccines on the day I was having side effects of Tom’s drugs.  Ha!  That confirms how dangerous this yellow fever vaccine really is.  I have not worried needlessly! 

I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.  This temporary relief was short-lived when they made another appointment for today at 10:45.  

As I sit here two hours before my appointment in my usual chair, writing this blog, surprisingly I am less terrified than I was yesterday.   

Most likely neither Tom nor I will become ill from our immunizations.  Most likely, we won’t get bit by malaria or yellow fever carrying mosquito.  Most likely, we won’t get mugged in Mombasa, Kenya, or anywhere else in the world.

Most likely, a warthog won’t attack us in our kitchen in Marloth Park in South Africa.  Most likely, we won’t have to pay $1400 for each of two extra bags when we fly on Emirates Airlines.  Most likely, all of the properties we’ve rented all over the world will actually exist when we arrive.

Most likely, I will still be writing this blog, 28 days from today, when the risk of reaction to the yellow fever vaccine has passed. Whew!