Interesting article on the most dangerous countries in the world… How many have we visited?

A turtle we spotted in a pond in Zarcera, Costa Rica.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Bottlebrush flowers blooming in the yard.

Business Insider online magazine/newspaper published an article this past June listing the 20 most dangerous countries for tourists in the world. I hadn’t stumbled across this story until this morning while reading the news on my phone when I awakened way too early to get up.

Information of this type is of considerable interest to us, and I was surprised we missed this particular article. Both of us are often on the lookout for information related to travel.

In May 2013, this boat came alongside our ship in the Gulf of Aden when two mercenaries boarded the vessel with “black boxes” and stayed on board for three days and nights protecting our ship from pirates. Here’s the link to that story with more photos.

Here’s the list of Business Insider 20 most dangerous countries from the least dangerous (#20) to the most dangerous (#1). We’ve been to those marked in red. More details may be found in the actual article listed here.
20.  The Republic of Congo
19.  Thailand (6 weeks)
18.  Jamaica
17.  South Africa (3 months)
16.  Guatemala
15.  Chad
14.  Bangladesh
13.  Mali
12.  Lebanon
11. the Philippines
10.  Ukraine
 9.   Honduras (cruise tour)
 8.   Kenya (3 months)
 7.   Egypt (cruise tour)
 6.   Venezuela
 5.   Nigeria
 4.   Pakistan
 3.   El Salvador
 2.   Yemen
 1.   Columbia (cruise tour)

The chaos in the streets in Egypt was comparable to what we’ve seen in movies. Often these types of areas are targets of attacks.

Although cruise tours may seem safer, and in many ways, they may be, we’ve often read stories of cruise passengers under attack at shopping centers, restaurants, public transportation, and on tour buses. 

As for the above listed six out of 20 which we visited and lived in, there is only one, South Africa, which we’ll visit (in this case a second time), where we’ll be living for many months beginning in February 2018. 

Not all areas of South Africa and these other countries are dangerous. Many remote locations have lower incidences of crime and terrorism. But, most tourists, generally staying only a short period, tend to prefer to visit the larger cities, where most crimes occur.

The stone wall at the property in Kenya not only inspired the goats to stop by to say hello but had broken bottle glass set into the mortar at the top of the wall to keep intruders out.  Here’s the link for this photo.

With primarily non-English speaking news on TV where we’ve lived over these past years, we can easily miss such an article as the above. However, whenever we begin research for future travels, we first investigate the political climate and crime rates and search the US Department of State Travel warnings.

Many of our readers have contacted us stating that they are in the process of changing their lives to travel the world and often ask us for advice and suggestions, which we’re always happy to provide. 

In many ways, our site is intended to be of assistance to both short and long-term travelers and those who’ve traveled in the past and dream of traveling in the future. 

Then, of course, we have those loyal readers who don’t necessarily care about traveling but enjoy seeing our photos and reading about what life is like “living in the world.” (We appreciate all of you, regardless of your motivation to visit us here).

We can’t stress more the importance of doing your research for those travelers considering future travel. And, as we all so well know, there isn’t any country in the world that is entirely safe, including our homeland, wherever that may be.

If seeing the Pyramids in Egypt is on your “bucket list,” you may decide to trade that dream for another, safer location. When we visited the Pyramids in 2013, even then, it was listed as unsafe and has become more so over the years. Without a doubt, we realized the risk when booking the cruise, which was further confirmed when we had a security guard on our bus with an Uzi in a holster beneath his black Hugo Boss suit coat.

Mohamed, our security guard, stayed with us the entire time we toured the pyramids. Here’s the link to that story with more photos.

Once we arrived at the pyramids, we felt fortunate when the above security guard, Mohamed, had taken a liking to us and suggested we stay close to him during the trek to the pyramids and back. 

We’d heard stories of horrifying tourist experiences at the pyramids but felt safer going on the cruise ship’s arranged tour, which many cruise passengers have experienced. Although, as mentioned above, these tours still may pose a serious risk.  

It was scorching and dusty. We wore our breathable and insect-resistant Africa clothing during this tour and others.  Here’s the link to this photo.

Please be careful when arranging private tours through local tour companies in any of the above countries. Reading reviews and doing extensive research is a must. Failure to do so may greatly increase the likelihood of danger, with many unscrupulous operators taking advantage of tourists.

We continue to strive to be safe and realize that we’ve taken certain risks in some cases. As the world becomes more and more dangerous, we’re seriously thinking twice before planning to visit many countries throughout the world. 

Our continuing goal to stay in more remote locations continues to provide us with a layer of safety that generally provides us with peace of mind. Only you can decide how much you’re willing to risk your safety to “step outside the box” in your world travels.

In each of our lives, wherever we may live or visit, we all have the opportunity to reach for our interpretation of “stepping outside the box,” whether it’s reading a book of a genre we’re never tried, tasting a new food we’ve previously avoided or in making the first step to meet someone new.

May your day present you with opportunities to try something new!

Photo from one year ago, September 25, 2016:

Private outdoor massage area at neighbor’s Piia and Thomas’ home in Sumbersari Bali, often used when a massage therapist visits the house several times a week. For more photos of this beautiful home, please click here.

Socializing under the cabana…Paradise with new friends…Friendship…

Our new friends, Pia and Thomas, live just steps away from the beach. They too have had tremendous global experiences and adventures.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Sunset from the veranda.

First, yesterday’s water situation has been solved. The villa was cleaned, dried with furnishings and decoration items in their usual places. The only remaining challenge is repairs to the TV  and sound system having been soaked from the water flow pouring down to the lower level of the broken pipe in the hot water heater located on the roof.

Then, last night when we were settling in for the night, turning on the AC in our bedroom, water started pouring out of the air con in front of the bathroom door. We swiftly turned it off and called Gede. 

Within minutes, he arrived on his motorcycle, suggesting we slept in the bedroom on the second main floor in the comfort of air conditioning. Having been awake since 4:00 am, that seemed like a logical solution since we were pooped and anxious for a good night’s sleep. Having been awake since 4:00 in the morning, it seemed a logical solution since we were pooped and anxious for a good night’s sleep. 

That recycler stopped at our villa.    Notice the motorcycles carrying the trailer.

Gede thought the unit had jammed with ice during the awful high humidity when we’d stayed indoors for a few hours earlier in the day while the work was being completed. The high humidity of all the water in the villa from the broken pipe could easily have contributed to the unit working overtime.

Gede asked us to leave it on all day to determine if the problem is resolved. Poor Gede.    He woke up early and came back early in the evening. Hopefully, tonight we’ll be able to sleep in, the more familiar master bedroom.

Yesterday the workers were here most of the day. By 4:00 pm, the water heater was fully repaired and once again we had running water. We couldn’t wait to get into the shower.

We’ve seen these flowers in most tropical climates.

Our new friends Pia and Thomas, originally from Germany, arrived promptly at 2 pm as planned. They’re currently residing in Thailand, with two houses in Bali, one down the beach from us and the other located in a planned community on the way to Lovina which soon we’ll pass on our upcoming road trip on Monday. 

We were so excited to spend time with Pia and Thomas. It had been since July, on the Mekong River cruise, where we socialized with other travelers, all possessing the commonality of interests in seeing amazing parts of the world. 

We didn’t have any cocktail fixings or wine to offer, instead pouring them each a frosty glass of iced tea, refilled often on the hot humid day. We all lounged under the shade of the cabana enjoying the cooling ocean breezes, engaged in delightful chatter, sharing mutual stories of world travel and the wide variety of adventures we’d all experienced over the years.

Shrine in the neighborhood.

Spending time with Pia and Thomas reminded us of how much we enjoy socializing. In a little over a month, we’ll be back on a ship for 33 nights, which most likely will entail non-stop socialization and making new friends.

In our old lives, we both reveled in our active social lives, both individually and as a couple.  We’ve been able to stay in touch with many of our friends through Facebook and email. To many, its almost a daily interaction in one form or another.

Having always been a part of a social group of “girls” I’ve certainly missed the face to face aspect of these special relationships; the long lunches; the shopping trips and the often lengthy phone conversations when we shared a personal joy or tribulation, analyzing every possible resolution. 

A boy and a buffalo.

Now, when faced with a challenge, I can easily “chat” via email to a friend, but it’s never the same as sitting across a table in a restaurant sipping an iced tea while dining on cooked-rare, sliced on the diagonal, yellow fin tuna atop a bed of fresh greens, drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette. Of course, I miss the conversation, the ambiance and the food.

Tom is now my “girlfriend” along with being my husband, lover and travel companion. He’s actually a good close second when over these past four years, we’ve grown so much, it’s easy to share any topic with one another, including topics I’d previously reserved for “girl time.”

We do see a large number of birds in Bali, although we hear them singing all day.  This white bird was sitting atop a satellite dish.

And he behaves similarly with me discussing “guy stuff” including railroad stories, gross “guys only” kinds of jokes and stories he’d have shared with his friends on a fishing trip, with a beer in hand at the bar, or at work. We’ve certainly made use of the reality that we each truly need to be each other’s best friend.

We often hear those in relationships refer to their significant other as their best friend.  And yet, when they have an issue with one another, they may discuss solutions with their “other” friends. 

For us, being together 24/7 with no opportunity to socialize in person with our old friends, we only have one another with whom to discuss any worries, concerns or issues, especially those related to one another. 

Mosque along the highway.  There are more Muslims in Indonesia than any other country in the world, with only approximately 5% of the island of Bali, a fact we only recently discovered:  “Indonesia has a larger Muslim, population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identifying themselves as Muslim (87.2% of Indonesia’s total population in 2011).”

Subsequently, we “talk it out” with each other. The end result? We problem solve handling all issues quickly face to face. Perhaps, in the long run this has contributed to our getting along as well as we do.

Sure, on occasion, Mr. Overall Grumpy rears his ugly head, and I, Miss Overly Bubbly, maintain a stance of low stress, peace and harmony.  Last night, “water, water, everywhere,” he appeared for only a moment to magically disappear after a few choice words were spewed, by no means directed at me. I don’t take it personally. Only minutes later, we were laughing and teasing in our usual playful manner.

Colorful dome of the above mosque.

Friendship, whether short term or long, people we’ve met on the beach or on a cruise ship, or in daily interactions with one another, all add an element to life that provides a richness and depth to which nothing else can compare. 

May your day bring new friends into your life!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2015:

In Fiji, our dish towels had been hanging outside for days unable to dry with the constant rain. We couldn’t throw them in the dirty laundry (done weekly by staff) when they’d be covered in ants by morning. When necessary, I placed them into a bag in the freezer until laundry day in order to avoid the ants.  For more details, please click here.

Water pipe broke…Minor inconveniences in the realm of things…

This morning, a few hours after we were up and about, the flexible cold water connection under the bathroom sink fell apart and water was spewing everywhere.

Immediately, we called Lee, who called Boo, the maintenance guy, and within 5 minutes he arrived by motorcycle, tools in hand to shut off the water after there was over 2″, 5 cm, of water on the bathroom floor which luckily had a drain in the floor. Tom had grabbed the travel scale off the bathroom floor before it was ruined.

Now, as I write here, a plumber has arrived and is in the process of repairing the broken water line while a few of the cleaners followed behind to clean up the mess when he’s done.

In the realm of things, this minor incident, responded to quickly, reminded us of the insignificance of our rapidly spewing water when people all over the world are suffering in recent flooding from storms. 

As quickly as the water flooded the bathroom floor, we could barely imagine the horror of the residents in many parts of the world where fast flowing water has caused such devastation and loss of lives.

It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of the horror experienced in many parts of the world including the horrific flooding and loss of life in Louisiana in the US with 1000s of residents living in shelters after their homes were destroyed by fast moving water as a result of relentless storms.

For today’s news on this storm and others, please click here.

Are natural disasters on the rise? Or, are we hearing about them more due to 24 hour news cycles from around the globe having become more readily broadcast over these past three decades?

Its hard to say. When attempting to research this topic, “Are natural disasters on the rise?” one will find thousands of varying “opinions” on the topic from a wide array of “news” related sources and agencies. 

This morning as I researched this topic (which I’ve done before) I was shocked by how statistics are skewed based on the intent of the source of information. What are we to believe?

I supposed its not unlike other “theories” in today’s world. Everyone has an opinion they’d like to express and would like to be revered for their views. In reality, if the focus stayed on providing relief and support to the victims of natural disasters and finding solutions to lessen the impact in future events, the sensationalism in the news could be lessened.

That won’t ever happen. As the news escalates to entice and titillate the public to read and watch more and more, we often get the perception that the world is on its way to total collapse as a result of natural disasters, let alone the effects of human intervention, wars and disharmony.

But, what do I know? Whom am I to speculate? I can only observe, pray for the future and hope along with the rest of us, that our planet is here to stay. 

With news of meteorites heading our way, black holes gobbling up our planet, and gloom and doom for the future, our little lives become insignificant and meaningless.

What can we do in the interim, if anything? Oh, I’d like to say if we all treated one another with love and kindness, an altruist view and subsequent behavior could change the world. 

But, we’re past the ability to do that on a worldwide scope. We can only do it within the small framework in which we live. And perhaps, those bite sized pieces can eventually unblur the lines and we can see beyond our often narrow views of what’s right and what’s wrong.

We can’t live in fear. Fear has the ability to incite anger and dangerous behavior. Exercising caution, sensible reactions and thoughtful personal introspection are some of the tools we’ve been provided as humans. If only we all could use these tools to make the world a safer and better place.

In the interim, us two grains of sands on the vast beach of Life, attempt to keep everything in perspective, a broken pipe, a small household flood, a recovery from an injury, in the realm of things, it’s but a minor inconvenience. 

We remain grateful for the gifts bestowed upon us as we continue on our path of experience and knowledge, as we pray for the well-being of those suffering in the world.

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2015:

One year ago we walked into this park for awhile eventually turning back when we realized the trails weren’t as suitable for walking as opposed to use by fast moving mountain bikers. Ironically, in our post one year ago today, we mentioned bombings in Thailand. Please see here for details.

Its never easy…Then again, nothing worthwhile ever is…One year ago, a precious photo from a friend…

Last night’s waning moon with clouds.

Every morning as I prepare for my day, I begin the process of thinking of the post I’ll soon sit down to write. I have no angst around these thoughts. They’re just thoughts.

Clouds obscuring a pie slice of last night’s moon.

I check the camera for the previous day’s photos looking for inspiration often finding an answer on the viewfinder. After downloading the photos, inspiration comes, however small, however simple and I’m at peace that the words will come.

Now, the opposite side is blocked by clouds.

Honestly, it’s particularly challenging as we near the end of a stay in each location after writing many posts, day after day. I never tire of sitting down with my cup of coffee or tea (either will do), placing a pillow under my right elbow to support the bad shoulder, as the words flow from the tips of my fingers as they type, more in a physical than mental manner. 

Every morning this view takes our breath away.

Sure, we have stats to indicate how many readers, we have which we’ll share here in the next several days as we reach a milestone. But even so, I often wonder if some of our readers simply check out the photos as opposed to the words.

If they do, it still makes me happy. Knowing that even one person finds a moment of pleasure in our posts, makes it all worthwhile. Besides, with our six grandchildren here over the holidays, it reminded us of the legacy we leave for our grandchildren, their grandchildren, and generations to come when they can look back at years of posts of their kooky ancestors who traveled the world in their old age. 

After looking through hundreds of photos, I’ve yet to find the name of this tree in our neighborhood. Its leaves appear to be velvet.  Any ideas?

Oh, would that we’d have loved to be able to reference the travels, the thoughts, the photos, and the experiences of our ancestors on such a medium as the worldwide web. My grandmother Ethel, lived an amazing life. What I’d give to read her story, page by page, photo by photo, over a period of years of her life.

As the numbers of our readership grow day by day, year by year, we find great comfort in the driving force writing here provides.

The name of this street in our neighborhood makes us chuckle. Many Hawaiian names and words are difficult to pronounce, but this one seems relatedly easy.

More than anything, it makes us take notice of our surroundings more than either of us had ever done in the past; a sunrise, a sunset, a rising moon, a breaching whale, a blooming flower, or the simplicity of water running gently along a creek. We notice it all. For this, we are grateful. 

And…for our readers, we are grateful. Without your readership, comments, questions, and support, it would be hard to continue writing each day.

The Tsunami and hurricane warning horns, and various signs at the local park.

Some time ago we heard from Jody, a reader in Minnesota, explaining how she rides the metro to work in downtown Minneapolis each day. On the way, she reads our story of the day on her tablet, lessening the boring long ride.

The local park without signs hindering the view.

If on a rare occasion, I feel like “taking a day off” for lack of adequate fodder, I think of her and her disappointment to find the same post from the prior day with nary an inkling of any new material. With that thought, my laptop lid flies open and I begin again, determined to nudge my fingers into action once more.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2013:

I wasn’t the only person in Marloth Park that was in love with warthogs. Ken (wife, Linda) shared this photo with us to post one year ago today. Thanks, Ken! For details from that day’s post, please click here.

The cost of booking rental cars in Hawaii for almost 7 months…Two days until we “sail away”…

This is a Pangolin, one of the most elusive animals on the planet, seen by very few.  Perhaps, someday when we return to Africa, we’ll have a chance to see one. These animals are poached for their scales believed by certain cultures in Asia to have medicinal properties which, after intense scientific research, do not provide any benefit to health. And yet poachers kill these interesting animals in the anteater family for-profits compared to the senseless slaughter of rhinos and elephants for their tusks. It’s heartbreaking. Soon, they, too, will become extinct.

When we first began planning our worldwide travels, we flinched over the cost of rental cars with all of the pumped-up fees, charges, and taxes. At the time, we anticipated it would feel weird not owning a car.  Now, it’s second nature. 

The Dodo bird, extinct for over 350 years.  Sadly, what’s next?

The points we consider for each specific location, each time we book a rental car are simple:
1. Is taxi fare reasonably priced and is it readily available making renting a car unneccesary?
2.  Will we feel trapped in a remote location without a car?
3.  Are there many places we’d like to visit in a specific area making a rental car worthwhile?
4.  Is the car large enough to fit our four suitcases, one duffel bag, one rolling cart, one laptop bag, and handbag?
5.  How safe is driving (in regard to crime, not road conditions) in a specific country?

This is the largest seed in the world from Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

For example, in Kenya, was safer to travel in affordable taxis than it was to drive on our own with the high rate of carjacking and theft, than in many other parts of the world. 

We saw live insects of this size while in Africa. 

In Belize, we used taxis. On an occasion, we rented a golf cart for a week, taking taxis the remainder of the time. The cost of a rental car for 30 days was more than US $3000,1809 pounds per month. The cost of a taxi to a grocery store or restaurant was US $5, 3 pounds each way. It was a no brainer for the two and a half months we spent in Placencia.

Over 100 scientists work full time at London’s Natural History Museum. 

In Morocco, we could walk to most locations. The grocery shopping and cooking were done by Madame Zahra (I think of her often) and the few times we dined outside of the Medina and the souks, the cab fare was fairly reasonable. Also, there was no available parking where we lived in the souk.

A scientist at work in the research area of the museum.  What a fascinating field.

In the remote Tuscan location of Boveglio, Italy we had no choice but to rent a car for the two and a half months we spent in the mountains.

In the Charles Darwin wing of the Natural History Museum, there were many interesting displays of insects, butterflies, and small creatures.

In South Africa, we had a rental car for a month, with Okee Dokee driving us everywhere for the remaining two months. No rental car could possibly replace the pleasure and laughter of riding with her day after day.

Photos through the glass are less vivid.

In that particular case, we chose to forgo the rental car simply since we loved being with Okee Dokee, constantly laughing as we bounced around on the bumpy roads in Marloth Park. It was an emotional decision when none of the above points fell into play.

After many car rental experiences, we’d yet to book rental cars for three of the four islands on which we’ll be living in Hawaii over a total period of seven months. 

This is an actual bee and its size as shown.

Excluding the necessity of a car in Waikiki (Honolulu) for the first 11 days when everything is within walking distance, we knew we’d need cars in Maui for six weeks, the Big Island for six-plus weeks, and Kauai for four months.

Insect displays in the Charles Darwin research area of the museum.

Having budgeted for each of the three islands where we’ll need a rental car, both of us were worried that the actual cost would far exceed the amounts we budgeted. Yesterday, we finalized the bookings for each of the three islands, expecting the cost to average at approximately US $2000, 1206 pounds a month. 

Hawaii is often considered one of the most expensive places to visit in the world when everything other than the fruits and nuts grown in the islands, must be imported as is the case on other islands throughout the world.

Flying insects.

After reviewing many online sites for the best rates in Hawaii (which we’d browsed many times over the past few years), we were able to confirm rates for each of the islands as follows:

6 weeks  Maui          US $1,124, 678 pounds (economy car)
6 weeks  Big Island  US $1,526, 920 pounds (full-sized car)
17 weeks Kauai        US $2,886, 1741 pounds (economy car)
Grand total –          US $5,536, 3339 pounds
(over a period of 120 days at the US $46, 28 pounds, per day). 

There were numerous paintings of animals from artists throughout the world.

We’re thrilled with these prices, expecting to spend thousands more, and relieved to have this piece out of the way at long last. Our flights between the four islands are the only items we’ve yet to book for Hawaii. With frequent flights between islands each day, we can easily wait to book the flights a month before departure in each case.

Had it been 10 months from now, when we’ll be in Australia, we’d already have seen kangaroos!  We can hardly wait!

As soon as we upload today’s post, we’ll be heading out for our final trip to Bobo’s Bubbles to do the laundry. It will be a full two weeks until we can do our laundry again in Boston. In Madeira, I purchased what appears to be a bar of soap which in fact is a bar of laundry soap, used for handwashing. Surely, that will come in handy on the two cruises in September.

In 10 months when we’ll be in Australia, we hope to see koala bears.

Last night, we returned to Byron, a burger restaurant we’ve found to be good with reasonable portions. Although it was over US $50, 30 pounds for a burger and fries for Tom and a salad for me, the salad portion is ample leaving me feeling as if I’ve actually had a meal. 

This is a Genet which we saw in South Africa in the bush.

When we see the price for a burger and fries is US $25, 15 pound, and a Cobb salad is also at US $25, 15 pounds, one can easily understand why we’re “chomping at the bit” to get on board the cruise and dine at our leisure without the added expense of having eaten out every meal for a month.

The fossils from prehistoric times were interesting.  But, we expected these as shown above were also manmade.

It’s hard to believe we’re only two days from sail day. In many ways, it seems as if those past eight cruises were so long ago when the last cruise ended on June 16, 2013. Here we go, another transatlantic crossing. How exciting!

In a way, it left us cold, seeing the manmade animals when we’d seen so many in the wild.

Have a lovely weekend as summer winds down in the northern hemisphere and winter winds crank up in the southern hemisphere. 

The museum itself was worthy of note in its exquisite design.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2013:

As we busied ourselves getting ready to depart for Kenya and with ongoing WiFi issues in Boveglio Italy, we didn’t post on this date. However, we did a post on the following date. Please check back tomorrow.

Exciting news!…Living on an alpaca farm in New Zealand!…Kiwi lifestyle…Here we come!…

Pinch me! These are the alpacas that live on the farm we’ll be renting in New Zealand. We’ll be arriving at the time of the year when the babies are born. Could this be more fun?  The owner explained that they are very friendly and will hang out with us as they freely roam about the farm.

After an exhausting search over a period of weeks, we’re delighted to have finally found a home for 83 days in New Zealand. Our original plan was to stay for 89 days which has since changed to accommodate an upcoming cruise.

There were many factors that made the search painstaking with price and location topping the list. Partway through, we decided to reconsider our desire for an ocean view. That in itself was pricey and limiting.

The farmhouse is a saltbox style unassuming but perfect for our needs especially when these friendly occupants hover in the yard.

Renting a house in a subdivision or a condo in the center of a town is definitely not our cup of tea. In reality, it all boils down to having a photo-worthy experience for us and for our readers. We weren’t having much luck finding anything that appealed to us.

As we finally changed directions, we searched through the filters offered in as to the “type” of property. The options were many, such as villa, castle, barn style, townhouse, condo, apartment, etc.

The living room is ideal for our needs with a fireplace, flat-screen TV and what appears to be comfy furniture.

Something caught my eye, a “farm.” What if we lived on a farm in New Zealand? How exciting that could be!  There were only two possibilities; both expensive and, over our budget. Perhaps a compromise would work.  Both had a lot of appeal to us but for me, one in particular. We appealed to both owners.

One came back at a proposal that was higher than we’d like to pay at US $4500 a month, EU $3296. We always strive to keep our monthly rent under US $3000, EU $2197. Here in Portugal in this gorgeous home, the rent was well under US $5000, EU $3662 total for the full 75 days! This type of reasonable pricing has been the norm for us as we’ve traveled the world.

The second farm came back at a more reasonable price, here again, based on our long term stay, from a kind and generous owner who may have predicted through our email communication, that we’d be decent renters who’d take care of their lovely farmhouse. 

Wonderful kitchen with cozy breakfast bar, modern stainless appliances and all the kitchen items we’ll need.  There’s a dining room table and chairs as shown to the left.

This farm has a magical quality that particularly grabs my heart…it’s an alpaca farm. And, when I saw the photo, although somewhat blurry, of the alpacas staring into a camera, my heart melted, my pulse quickened and I was in love.

Yes, I know dear readers, I’ll try not to bore you with endless photos of every possible pose an alpaca can make. I attempted to control myself with the rather homely warthogs in Marloth Park. Although early on in our arrival, I had a difficult time refraining when I literally fell in love with their adorable personalities.

If the warthog’s homeliness may have tempered my photo-taking enthusiasm how will I manage to contain myself with these adorable alpacas? Luckily, the area in which the farm is conveniently located is close to many attractions allowing us many photo opportunities of a variety of subjects besides the alpacas.

This the master bedroom with an en suite bathroom. There’s a second bedroom which I’ll use for my clothing and dressing room.

Views of Mount Taranaki provide an excellent backdrop to our upcoming farm living as mentioned on the Homeaway site, as “Just 10 km, 6.2 miles, from New Plymouth, the many attractions Taranaki has to offer are close by such as such as beaches, mountains, gardens, golf courses, parks, museums, art galleries and more.” There are 100 restaurants rated for New Plymouth on TripAdvisor making dining out close and convenient.

We are grateful to have found this setting for the upcoming 83 days from January 19, 2016, to April 11, 2016, when we’ll fly back to Sydney, Australia on a less than four-hour flight to board another cruise that sails on April 12th. Once booked over the next several days, we’ll share the details.

Today, we’re posting photos from the Homeaway listing of the alpaca farm which are a bit blurry. I can only imagine how fun it will be to post our own photos in the future.

We realize that this booking seems so far away at this point in order to garner this level of enthusiasm but, it’s actually we’ll be there in only 18½ months. We left the US 18 months ago today. How quickly that time has passed. Of course, we’re not wishing time to fly by. We have the moment, Paris, London, cruises, Hawaii, family visiting, Australia, Fiji, and now New Zealand ahead of us, all eliciting enthusiasm and excitement.

Even today, as we venture out once again to further explore this magical island posting new photos tomorrow and in days to come, we feel the same sense of excitement we’ve experienced in most places we’ve lived, as we continue to revel in the wonder and beauty in the world around us. 

We’ll be back tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2013:

We walked through the narrow alleys of Boveglio on our way to Bar Ferrari, where the locals gathered weekly for a party. For details of that story, please click here.

A special photo…A memorable couple long ago…An inspiration to continue on…A year ago, a little village in Toscana…

Need I say, I went nuts when we saw these huge hanging Angel’s Trumpets, while on a drive a few days ago? As Tom maneuvered through a narrow winding road, I squealed when I saw these, hollering, “Stop!  Back up!” The road was too narrow for me to get out of the car so I took this photo with the window down. Wow!

It was the halfway mark of our time in Madeira as we mentioned in our yesterday’s heading. It’s hard for us to believe that we’re on the downhill now of living in this wonderful home in Campanario on this exquisite island.

At a distance, we saw a boat. Could it be a local fisherman?

We’ve determined that it usually takes about a month for us to decide if we’d ever considered returning to a location. As for having the time to return to a location, that in itself is a question for us to consider. There’s so much world left to see.

The shoreline is exquisite around the island. We wondered how the residents of the homes on this cliff could possibly get to their houses. That would be a fun outing to tackle.

We’ve contemplated that, down the road, perhaps we’ll choose four favorite locations and revisit them throughout the year at the same “perfect weather” times of the year, for example; South Africa during their winter months of June, July, and August. We were there during December, January, and February when it was a scorcher. 

Another creek under a bridge.

In years to come, in a perfect world, I could easily spend half of the year in Marloth Park, South Africa, and the other half here in Madeira. But, speaking of “half’s,” my “other half” would have to be on board. At this point, he can’t contemplate such a plan and I totally agree with him when so much excitement awaits us.

Yesterday, on our way to the supermarket, a cloud cover created this amazing view.

It’s not that I’m thinking of slowing down. By no means! As the perpetual dreamer and romantic, my mind tends to get ahead of me and I love to plan “way ahead.” Let’s face it, I’m 66 years old. Tom is 61. At some point, we’ll run out of steam.

However, when we were on our first and favorite cruise on the Celebrity Century on our way through the Panama Canal, one night an older couple sitting next to us, joyfully told us their stories of traveling the world, living in Africa, going on safari, and seeing much of the world.

As it began to rain, little puffs of clouds dotted the hills. 

We were both in awe as they excitedly told one exciting story after another. They were in their 90’s and still traveling! At this point, we were on our first foray outside the US at the beginning of our journey together, although both of us had traveled internationally before we met.

We had only a few stories to share with the delightful elderly couple and we encouraged them to go on and on.  With a captive audience, they enjoyed retelling their tales easily recalling details with each of them with a sharp memory, still intact after all their years.

It’s always interesting to see the homes nestled in the hills as shown here.

They inspired us and continue to do so as our journey continues. It’s hard to believe that we spoke to that couple in January 2013, a mere 18 months ago. How we’ve changed! We’ve learned so much. 

Another view of the valley on our way to the supermarket.

Our learning curve is literally at the “tip of the iceberg” based on the parts of the world we’ve already visited.  There’s so much more to learn. However, as experienced as we think we are now, it’s nothing compared to where we’ll be in a few years.

Mud running in a creek in Ribeira Brava.

I must admit that this traveling business has been a huge boon for our memory as has a strict diet which, BTW, Tom is finally following with me. He gave up the sweets, gluten, and starch a few days ago on his own, without prodding from me. 

His motivation is more inclined toward his frugal nature. He wants to fit into the clothes he already has and not have to replace everything in larger sizes.

It was cloudy yesterday, but a ray of sunlight reflected in the area to the left-center of this photo creating a pretty scene. Utility lines often obstruct our photos. With modern conveniences in Madeira, they are impossible to avoid.

Whatever his motivation, I’m happy. It means we’ll have more time together, he won’t have trouble hauling our bags and the quality of his life will be greatly improved. I can’t guarantee he’ll do this forever but for now, I’m thrilled. All I want is for him to be healthy so we can continue this life together for as long as possible.

Maybe we’ll be fortunate with good health to be able to continue our journey well into our 90’s like the couple on the Celebrity Century.  In any case, if we cannot, we’ll strive to find a joyful alternative of staying in one place for longer periods, like six months in Marloth Park???  With Ms. Warthog at our door each morning or Mr. Kudu stopping by the veranda for some pellets?  Heaven on earth.

Photo from one year ago, June 24, 2013:

This restaurant was located in the town of Benabbio, Tuscany, Italy, and was the closest to us, a 30-minute drive on the treacherous roads from our home in Boveglio. Although the food was wonderful and the prices fair, neither of us felt safe driving back at night in the dark, especially if Tom had a beer or two with the crazy drivers whipping around the road. As a result, we seldom dined out while living in the remote mountain village of Boveglio. We learned a valuable lesson after we left Boveglio…that we shouldn’t live in such remote locations, especially where no spoke English was spoken, adding to our sense of isolation. Although, once we got into a routine, we ended up enjoying the 75-day stay. For details of that date, please click here.

Local shopping…Only one tunnel…A year ago in Dubai….

This is the gorgeous rose that Gina picked for me from her Mother’s garden. Her thoughtfulness warmed my heart.

Yesterday morning, anxious to get out for a few minutes, we made our way through a local tunnel to a quaint local grocer. Saturday morning, a flurry of activity surrounded the store with locals and tourists sipping coffee and eating at the outdoor café.

The local bakery and market are next door to one another, a short distance from our home.

The bakery next door to the grocer was packed with tourists who’d arrived on a small bus, most of which were drooling over one of the most delicious looking bakery displays I’ve ever seen. Wanting to ogle the myriad forbidden-to-me delights, we opted to hit the grocery store first to avoid the crowd swarming the bakery.

Would that I could. Oh, how we find comfort and pleasure in such treats!  It’s funny that eggs are also sold in this case.

Upon entering the small market, we didn’t expect much. At first, it reminded us of the tiny markets we frequented in Belize with limited options meeting our needs. The further we entered the store, we realized it was “L” shaped with a reasonably complete produce area and fresh meat counter. 

The smells in the bakery were heavenly as well as the sights!

Always preferring to support local businesses we quickly realized we could easily get many of the items we use in this little market with an occasional trip to the larger supermarket in Ribeira Brava. Other than bottled water, paper, and cleaning supplies (which we provide) prices at the little store were comparable to the supermarket.

All we needed were tomatoes, lettuce, and cabbage. The ripe red tomatoes proved to be the most flavorful we’ve ever had, all locally grown. The tomatoes we’d purchased in the US were mostly imported from Mexico, pale and flavorless. These were a rare treat.

The chocolate muffins and those below looked particularly appealing.

Tom grabbed some not-so-healthy snacks for himself (I kept my mouth shut) and shortly we were on our way to check out the bakery, now cleared of the tourists. 

After our “no photos” rules in Morocco, I hesitated when approached the bakery counter tentatively asking if I could take a few photos of the gorgeous confections. The baker spoke English. Smiling warmly he invited me to take all the photos I wanted. I explained that I was “gluten and sugar-free” but, if I hadn’t had these restrictions, I’d have been a good regular customer.

Looks as if the tourists arriving before us partook of these delights.

Over and again, much to my surprise, Tom prefers “junk” processed and packaged treats to a chemical free freshly baked confection. He says, “It’s what I’m used to.”

I don’t get that. I didn’t buy that “junk” in our old lives. I’d baked all the treats that I packed into his lunch each day or served on his days off. In later years, he confessed to stopping at the SuperAmerica (food and fuel) to purchase donuts and bismarcks when I wasn’t around, eating them in the car on the way to work. 

Close up of one of the muffins in the above photo.  Yes, I do miss this stuff although my health is a greater priority than my taste buds.

Our family members always called me “the food police.” Why did I do this? I only wanted them to live long and healthy lives free of the ravages of a poor diet.  In time, I did lighten up.  But, as our children well know, from time to time, I toss out a stern but loving warning about eating “junk.” 

Gina stopped to visit after picking spinach from the garden located on our property. She reminded us to take what we’d like. Her father tends to it, requiring no time from us at all. We won’t take advantage of this, leaving the bulk of it for his family and of course, offering to pay for anything we take. In any case, it’s enjoyable to watch the produce grow over these next months.

Look at the cream-filled items on the left.  I couldn’t believe Tom didn’t want any of these as opposed to processed packaged “junk.”

Later in the day, Gina appeared at the door with this beautiful rose she’d plucked from her Mother’s garden.  Once again, we’ve been fortunate to have found yet another kind and generous landlord, overseeing our comfort and pleasure for our entire stay in their properties.

As we sit here now, writing for today, we can hear the Sunday morning mass which is broadcast through loudspeakers through the entire village. Perhaps next weekend, we’ll be able to attend the mass.

Tom got a kick of the names of some of the alcohol offered for sale in the well-stocked market.

Later in the day, we’ll hear the loud music blaring from the speakers on the little white vans that drive through the area selling produce and fresh fish caught early in the morning. Gina suggested we stand on the road when we hear the sound and the driver will stop when he sees us. 

The spinach that Gina plucked out of the garden in our yard.

I can hardly wait to purchase freshly caught fish! She explained that negotiating was not typical in Madeira and that prices are reasonable avoiding the necessity of haggling, which neither of us enjoys.

This was everything we purchased after a visit to the local market.  I purchase vanilla and baking soda to make a coconut flour flan for me. Coconut, almond flour, and other nut flours are acceptable for my way of eating, only in moderation.

Still recovering we’ll spend another day at home, jumping up every hour or so to enjoy the views, the sights, and the sounds of this exquisite island. 

Photo from one year ago today, May 25, 2013:

This photo was from the prior date due to a lack of photos on that date.

The tan building toward the right was the building in which we’d rented a unit for the 13 days we spent in Dubai. It was beautiful, the unit was located on the 47th floor of a 91 story building and was modern with all possible amenities including a pool. Dubai was interesting to see but, we’re not city people. On a few occasions, we put on our swimsuits heading to the pool, only to last a short time due to the extreme heat. For details of the story we posted on May 25, 2013, please click here.

Part 2…Sightseeing in Marrakech outside the Medina..A baby…

This camel calf is one month old.  Mom looked proud of her offspring, not seeming to mind when we moved around her to take photos.

As we drove through the beautiful Palmeraie area, it was obvious we were in an upscale area, although all the residences had high walls preventing us from seeing anything but the second floors and rooftops.

Tom and I, near the baby and her mom with the herd owner in blue in the background.
The herd owner couldn’t have been more pleased to share his camels with us. He suggested this photo for which we’d had no intention of asking. Most followers of the Muslim faith refuse to be photographed.

As I’d mentioned yesterday, there were areas along the side of the side of the road, with several herds of camel, every few blocks. With herd owners in attendance patiently waiting for customers seeking a camel ride or an opportunity to take photos.

These appear to be of a different breed as opposed to those we’d seen in Kenya. These single-humped camels are referred to as Dromedary Camels. For more information, please click here.

In a way, it was sad to see, the diligent camel owners waiting day after day for customers in a relatively quiet area while having the responsibility of feeding, caring for, and housing their camels at night. Surely, there is a considerable expense in caring for the camels, leaving these owners at the mercy of the inconsistent tourist trade.

The camels are used to being near humans and are known to be gentle and non-aggressive.

As we drove through the area, I kept pointing to the camels along the road, desperately wanting to stop and see them.  Samir reminded me to be patient. Shortly down the road, he’d arranged for an owner, friend to accommodate us who was awaiting our arrival.

Much to our delight, we got more than we’d expected, a one-month-old calf that warmed our hearts, bringing memories back to all the babies in Marloth Park.

We noticed the “pads” camels are born with to protect their knees and body when laying or kneeling. We’d noticed this same amazing feature in zebras with the dark spots on the inside of each leg, to protect their body when lying down.

I felt that same calm wash over me that I’d left behind when we said our goodbyes to Marloth Park, that same calming effect that a love of animals can bring when in their presence. Even Tom, a less obvious enthusiastic than I, became engaged in the baby camel, as well as the mature camels as we wandered around their designated area.

They all seemed content as they lounged in the warm sun. Camels of this variety rarely live in the wild in Morocco, as they tend to live well in herds owned by humans.

The kindly herd owner guided us to the best vantage points for our photos as shown here today. It was evident that he took great pride in his herd. We let him know how much it meant to us that he willingly shared them with us. The token tip we gave him was nothing compared to the obvious pleasure he derived from our appreciation of his herd.

A short time later, we were back on the road for our final stop in our sightseeing day concluding at the Menara Gardens and Pavilion.

Tom called me to come to see the baby nursing when I was busily taking photos of the other camels. It was delightful to see this.

For those seeking a quiet long stroll around a manmade pool and a walk through the orchards (not in bloom at this time), this site would be ideal. The quiet contemplative location held little interest for us during the hour and a half period we had until we were to meet up with Mohamed and Samir.

Even the one-month-old baby had a rope around him/her to keep from wandering off. With the attention paid by the mother, it appeared unlikely the baby would take off.

Many tourists seeking a quiet spot to walk, unwind, meditate, and reflect would find this site somewhat appealing. With both of us as Type A personalities, it fell short of our expectations and we took no photos during this period.

Nursing, up close. 

With one more stop at the pharmacy before heading to the restaurant, we paid Mohamed for driving and they dropped us off at our chosen restaurant for dinner. By 5:00 pm, we entered the quaint restaurant, Amaia, a cozy, highly rated French restaurant in Marrakech, a #8 in where we search for reviews of restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

The baby was nuzzling another adult female. As we’ve often seen in nature, the dads have little to no presence in the upbringing of the offspring, although this baby’s dad was in this herd. This may have been an aunt, a grown cousin, or a grandmother.

The reviews wouldn’t have been more on target. We enjoyed a leisurely quiet delicious meal, easily adapted to my dietary restrictions, and befitting Tom’s picky taste buds. The service was impeccable with a lovely French woman speaking perfect English. 

The mom was to the right of the baby while the playful kissing occurred.

To be safe, we didn’t order ice for our drinks or eat any raw vegetables. We’ll definitely put Amaia on our favorites list as we work our way around Marrakech in search of French or other international restaurants. We grabbed a taxi after dinner, getting a ride back to the entrance to the Medina, to begin the long trek back home through the Big Square and the souk.

Mom is on the right, as the baby plays with the other female adult.

Reading online at we saw that many tourists also, after a few weeks in Morocco, had difficulty continuing to eat the spicy, although tasty, Moroccan food, especially when they originated from a culture of less seasoned foods, such as us.

The baby, a Dromedary Camel, was stretching after playing.  he single hump seems to be growing more quickly than the remainder of the body.

Overall, we had a very good day. The sun was shining, the temperature was moderate, we took many photos and we had an opportunity to experience Marrakech outside the wall.  It is an amazing city; modern, progressive, clean, and filled with culture. The locals take much pride in their city, its diversity, and its history.  And, so far, this has been the best smelling place in the world!

Camel’s teeth appear to be more pronounced on the lower jaw.

Last night, Madame Zahra made us another spice-free meal that makes my mouth water mentioning it. Today, we’ll dine out mid-day, and tomorrow we’ll dine in, as we seem to have adopted every other day, dining out and dining in pattern. In either case, we look forward to another great meal, now that we’ve worked out the kinks.

Tom’s dinner on Monday night at Amaia, a pork chop (first pork we’ve seen in Marrakesh, other than on a bacon cheeseburger Tom ordered a few weeks ago) and a serving of “chips” as French fries are called in Africa.
Fresh flowers at our table at Amaia.
My dinner at Amaia, a chicken, and vegetable stir fry, without soy sauce which contains wheat, unless its the special gluten-free variety. The meal was wonderful.

Tomorrow, we’ll share our story of the “trials and tribulations” of taking prescription medication while traveling the world. 

The first beer Tom drank since arriving in Morocco almost four weeks ago. He said the brand, Casablanca, was good enough to order a second. Cocktails and beer are expensive in Morocco. This local beer was priced at US $5.55, MAD $45. 
I don’t drink alcohol due to my way of eating. Instead, I savored these pretty flowers.

Thanks to all of our readers worldwide for sharing our ongoing tales and photos of two seniors traveling the world, doing it “our way,” learning as we go.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2013:

There’s my guy, on the beach outside of our previous home n Belize, one year ago to the date. We had a glorious time in Belize once we moved out of the less than desirable first house after one week to this fabulous location. For the post from that date, please click here.

Is running out of new photos an issue?…What do we do in the event this occurs?…A trip to the local dump proved to be interesting…

At the Marloth Park dump, we found these Marabou Storks everywhere.  If photo ops don’t come to us, we’ll go to them.

Writing every day is challenging at times, especially when we’re kicking back and relaxing. Would one have photos and stories to share in their everyday lives? Hardly.

In our old lives, weeks could go by without a single thought of taking a photo. Also, we’d never learned to take photos. Life was too busy to take on another hobby. As a result, we only used a camera on special occasions, neither of us showing a propensity toward any skill. 

For me, no skill? No interest. That’s how perfectionist-types operate. That’s why I don’t play golf. For that matter, Tom, good at most sports, hasn’t played much golf either, getting easily frustrated when he doesn’t play well enough by his own standards.

From afar, these birds look pretty. Up close, not so cute in the face. These birds are carnivorous eating other birds, carrion scraps, small rodents and have a propensity for human garbage and can digest rotten animal matter.

Now, back to posting daily and it’s challenging…

Yesterday morning, after posting, today’s post was fast approaching as being one of those days that writing this blog left me stymied. I had no new photos to post. I could run around the yard to look for small things or interesting vegetation or even, if necessary, stand in the road waiting for a photo-worthy event.

The height of a Marabou Stork is approximately 152 cm, 60 inches; weight is 9 kg, 20 pounds; the wingspan is 3.7 m, 12 feet. They have the largest wingspan of any bird. The Marloth Park dump is thoroughly cleaned out every few weeks. It is where many of the locals bring their garbage with only a small percentage having pickup service. We haven’t observed any recycling in Kenya or South Africa.

To prepare for our upcoming dinner party on Monday, Okee Dokee picked me up at 11:00 am Saturday morning to go to Komatipoort for groceries. Having created a menu and a grocery list I was ready to tackle the weekend crowds at the strip mall. 

While waiting in line at the grocery store, I mentioned to Okee Dokee that in the past 16 months since leaving Minnesota I’d yet to purchase any underwear. Add the fact that we’d unloaded so many clothing items along the way, my inventory was sparse and worn to the point of ridiculousness. I’d never gone so long without purchasing undergarments or clothing for that matter. 

The Marabou Stork will eat anything it can swallow, including shoes, clothing, and tin cans. They can become aggressive if fed by humans when they are refused food. Although not vultures, their behavior exceeds the traits of vultures whose diet consists of animal remains.

Having whipped through the grocery store quickly, she led me to a local clothing shop. I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the store. Although a small shop, there was clothing for women, men, and children of all ages. We promptly headed to the women’s underwear department where, upon approaching, I squealed with delight. They had rather modern items and styles, all reasonably priced and of decent quality. I’d have to toss the old stuff, avoiding increasing our luggage weight.

Ten minutes later, a bra and eight pairs of panties were being rung up for a grand total of US $23.16, ZAR $259. What? In the US, I would easily have spent US $75, ZAR $838.67 for this type of quality. What’s wrong with this picture?

After making the purchase we headed to the ATM area with two machines, neither of which was working, prompting us to head back to the ATM at the Marloth Park Bush Center which once again worked with ease. 

This injured zebra was near the road when we drove by. It wasn’t enclosed in a fenced area. This fence happened to be on the edge of a property. This injury could easily have been a result of a kick from another zebra. The distended belly of a zebra is common. Their intestinal tract is such that they become bloated with gas from eating massive amounts of vegetation each day. They are prolific at passing gas, as we’ve heard fro time to time. Hopefully, this injury heals on its own.

Afterward, we drove down one of the two only paved roads in the park. Okee Dokee, aware of my photo dilemma quickly made a sharp left turn into the local dump. (As yet, we hadn’t seen any wildlife). Wouldn’t you know, the dump was not only littered with garbage (which is entirely removed every few weeks), but was also littered with what I’d originally thought were beautiful Marabou Storks. 

Thus, the photos we’re showing today are the storks we found at the dump. Leave it to Okee Dokee! As we slowly meandered down the road toward African Reunion House I chuckled. I don’t recall ever taking a camera to the grocery store in my old life.

This morning at 6:30 am while contemplating getting up I heard animal sounds outside. Quietly and slowly I exited to the bedroom to look out the full wall of glass to the garden. Scattered among the bush were no less than 50 impalas, 25 Helmeted Guinea-Fowls with chicks, and one large lone male warthog.

Male impalas along the side of the main road in Marloth Park on our return drive from grocery shopping.

Quickly I awoke Tom, and together as quietly as possible, we opened the door to the veranda, camera in hand.  Alas, the impalas scattered, but the warthog and the “guinea hens,” as Tom calls them, stayed behind. 

Mr.Warthog was very shy, as we’ve noticed in the lone males. He meandered about the garden for a half-hour finally checking out the pellets, deciding to partake. The guinea hens and chicks had a blast picking away at the large pellets, easily knocking them into smaller pieces. Even they are fun to watch.

The baby warthogs are getting huge. When the mom is ready to mate again, she’ll leave the babies to fen for themselves as their own maturing life cycle begins. This particular mom has been a favorite of mine.  She has no fear of me, makes eye contact that is endearing, and is such a good mom, holding back while the babies eat the pellets first. I always make a point of tossing several in front of her and only then does she eat them. Warthogs eat on their front knees which have tough pads from the day they’re born.

As for the rest of today, this morning after posting, we’re heading to the little house to pack all of our stuff to bring it here for packing. Originally, we’d planned to do it on Tuesday, the morning after the dinner party. But, we decided to get it done and off of our minds. 

We’ll put everything in the main floor guest room, shutting the door until Tuesday when we’re ready to begin the dreadful task of sorting and packing everything we own into two large suitcases, two overnight bags, one duffel bag, and two computer bags. Everything we own. More dwindling down. Letting go of more stuff due to increased weight restrictions over prior flights.