Day #213 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Gentle musings on the simple things…

Tom’s gluten-free, low carb, starch, and sugar-free pizza with fresh mushrooms, green olives, onions, and Italian sausage, topped with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. This will last for three delicious nights. We never mind repeated dinners for three nights in a row. The crust is made with grated cheese and one egg. He’ll be drooling over this photo today.

Today’s food photos are from the post on this date in 2014 after grocery shopping in Maui, Hawaii. For more from this date, please click here.

When I checked out Kenya photos from this date in 2013, there were few photos worthy of posting today. Instead, I jumped forward to 2014 on this date, once again, while we were spending six weeks on the blissful island of Maui. We’d been out grocery shopping and were pleasantly surprised over our purchases in the nearby town of Kihei.

My pizza is made with free-range chicken sausage, anchovies, onions, olives, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, organic zucchini, eggplant with mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. This crust is also made with cheese and egg and is low carb and gluten, sugar, and starch-free. Love it!

Ironically, for the first time in almost two years since the onset of our travels, I drove the rental car, finding my way to the Safeway supermarket, a 20 minute drive from our condo, and the largest market we’d seen in so long. It felt great to be driving again after so long.

Yesterday, Tom and I were chuckling over this time in Mumbai as the longest period he’s gone as an adult without driving a car. Continuing in our world travels, there were plenty of times I didn’t drive for extended periods when I don’t feel comfortable driving a manual transmission with the stick on the left side. My left hand is useless.

As I entered the store, my eyes darted everywhere in awe of all of the “stuff” for sale.

On top of that, I don’t possess the ability to retrain myself to drive while managing the stick shift, while on the opposite side of the road from which I learned in the US at 16 years old. I suppose it’s a lack of coordination. Under familiar circumstances, I know how to drive a stick shift. At one point, as an adult, I purchased a vehicle with manual transmission.

Upon returning to the condo, I used the Ziploc bags to individually wrap each of the three steaks which Tom will eat while I’ll have the rack of lamb.

Well, anyway, that day in Maui, I was thrilled to once again be driving and totally loved the time I could spend meandering around the huge supermarket with nary a thought of how slow I was going, inspecting countless products along the way. Most often, Tom had been with me while grocery shopping, and although I enjoyed his participation, I loved it when he waited in the car reading a book on his phone.

Having not purchased meat at this store on our visit the prior week, I was pleased to see the prices on meats were no more than we paid in our old lives.

If and when we return to Africa, I’ll be in this same spot with most rental cars having manual transmissions and all driving in the left lane as opposed to the familiar right lane. Tom will drive me everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, he gets tired of being my chauffeur, but he freely acknowledges that I am a terrible driver even with an automatic transmission and driving in the right lane, as in the US. Hey, we all have our flaws and I certainly have my fair share.

I’d purchased this 3.32-pound package of three New York Steaks for $26.93 at $8.98 a serving. That was an excellent price!

So, shopping in Maui during those six blissful weeks was a treat for me. If I wanted to peruse the other shops in the strip mall, before grocery shopping I could easily do so. If I wanted to read the labels on every product I could do so at my leisure. If I wanted to stop and chat with another customer or staff member, nothing held me back. It was indescribable fun.

Ziploc freezer bags in the half gallon size surprised me at only $4.49.

Wow! At this point, this sounds to me like a trip to Disneyland for a kid. It’s not surprising that the simplest tasks I may have taken for granted in the past now rise to the forefront as absolutely desirable and delightful. Then again, I think of how fun it will be to be sitting with good friends in Africa, sipping on a glass of red wine, enjoying the sounds of nature, the consistent flow of “visitors” and I literally swoon.

I cut this free-range Rack of Lamb into three portions which I’ll have when Tom has the above steaks. At $20.15 for the entire package, it is $6.72 per serving. We’ll cook the lamb and the steaks on the outdoor grill that overlooks the ocean, which we’re anxious to use.

I’ve kept asking myself what we’ll learn from being in this hotel, possibly for one year, (now at seven months), and perhaps it will be as simple as the heart-pounding enthusiasm I’m feeling putting these thoughts to “paper.” During these peculiar circumstances, it’s imperative to glom onto hope, knowing full-well at some point in the future, these memories won’t be so far removed from current-day reality.

The gorgeous Maui scenery on the return drive to Maalaea Beach.

Hum, I think I’ll feel equally enthused to machine wash our clothes, eat some of the above-shown pizza, smell the fresh air, set the table, see a sunset, and of course, spend time with humans and animals. No doubt, we’re grateful we’re safe and, we’re equally grateful knowing at some point, this will all change.

This receipt is not easy to read resulting in my listing the items above for details and clarification.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 22, 2019:

Friends Linda and Ken with us in front of the Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #205 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Done…Done…Done…Consistency…

Tom, Anderson, and me, posing at the Kenya/Tanzania border marker, still smiling but not objecting when it was time to head back to the Masai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Finally, we were able to stand at the marker that separates Kenya from Tanzania, a pose worthy opportunity for all of us.

A popular expression, frequently used by Indian people is, “Done, done, done,” when asking them for assistance. They couldn’t be more eager to please. We appreciate them, their kindness, and their great service. Living in this hotel for so long with a frequent turnover of staff, leaving for a break for a few weeks to return to their homes to be with family, it’s no wonder consistency is not always possible.

I know I looked goofy with my Bugs Away hat, a scarf tied on my face. Honestly, I didn’t care. If I’d had a paper bag on hand, I’d have worn that. We did everything we could to keep the flies out of our noses, mouths, and ears.

Has anyone you know lived in a hotel for 205 days, unless of course, they are a celebrity and make a hotel their permanent residency? We are no celebrities. And, if we were, we’d probably be in a much different situation. But, it’s only from the same services over and over, often as a result of the rotating staff that inconsistencies become more prevalent and subsequently, more obvious after such a long stay.

Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain we did our best to zoom to get the following photos on the remaining wildebeests.

Tom says, “The only consistency is the inconsistency.” I’ve laughed each time he says this, always with the intent of dampening our momentary frustration.

They were increasing in numbers as we approached the border.

In many businesses throughout the world, consistency becomes a top priority. One can always count on the lettuce being in the same spot in the grocery store, the shoes in a specific area in a department store, the sunscreen on the same shelf in the pharmacy, and so on.

Although the sight of the two-plus million wildebeest would have been unbelievable, I began to wonder if doing so was as important to me as it had been in the past. It may sound as if it’s a rationalization for not having been able to see it, but, the flies were a huge deterrent for both of us. They were flying into our noses, mouths, and ears.  It was awful.

In the restaurant business, if you formerly dined at, for example, the Cheesecake Factory for their strawberry cheesecake, you’d expect the same flavor, the same sized portion, the same taste, and at least for a time, the same price.

No more than a few minutes into the return drive, on our way back to Kenya, we spotted a mom and baby elephant, tails swishing batting off the flies. They, too, must feel the effects of the dung of millions of animals.

In our almost eight years of world travel, we’ve found a profound lack of consistency in dining when returning to the same establishments for a repeated menu item or, as in the case here in our lovely Mumbai hotel, ordering the same breakfast items and the same dinner items, day after day, which are often different in portion size, taste, and appearance almost every time they arrive by room service.

But if I don’t repeat this exact same order each day, after 205 days, something won’t be right. I’d love to say, “The usual, please.” My order changes from time to time as I fine-tune my diet to keep the carb count to a minimum. So, I realize, I must be very specific in regard to my orders. It’s never the same two days in a row. Breakfast tends to be fairly consistent, although, we often have to remind the restaurant when we call to make the bacon crispy as opposed to it swimming in grease, when half done. Tom orders the exact same breakfast every single day; cheese omelet, eight pieces of crispy bacon, and bananas every day and the same dinner every night.

After about an hour into the return drive, we saw the last of the wildebeest stragglers, facing a long walk home to the Serengeti in Tanzania. (80% of the Serengeti is in Tanzania with the remaining 20% in Kenya).

It isn’t that they don’t want to please. They do more than anywhere we’ve been in the past. It boils down to the person taking the order which varies from time to time and the sous chefs preparing the food. Last night, only having ordered the same grilled boneless chicken legs, side orders of steamed broccoli, and spinach,  night after night, my dinner arrived with only half as much chicken as usual and twice as many vegetables. Go figure.

The giraffes walked along the hillside at our camp as we wearily sauntered to the restaurant at Camp Olonana for late lunch, cold beverages, and time to regroup for the upcoming afternoon drive.

Tonight, when I order the same dinner again, but this time I’ll mention “More chicken please.” I won’t say “Fewer vegetables, please.” If I do, I’ll get too tiny a portion of each of these two vegetables. Instead, I’ll eat whatever I get.

I’ve stopped requesting my vegetables to be sauteed with garlic. They know I don’t use any vegetable oils and I’ve asked that they only use only butter to prepare my food, but everything was always swimming in butter, maybe the equivalent of three or four tablespoons. Now, I order the butter on the side and use about one tablespoon between my two vegetables.

The Maasai gathered up their cows to return them to the security of the village, close to our camp, away from the risk of attack.

It’s the same thing when cleaning our room. The towel count became consistent after about two months, so we’re good there. I suggested they don’t change our sheets daily to every-other-three days which is fine with us, but they continue to change the sheets daily. I’ve stopped asking.

The “Retired Generals” lined up to welcome us back to the Maasai Mara.

We don’t use their lotion and ask they don’t leave tubes of lotion. The counter space in the bathroom is limited. With no drawers or a medicine cabinet, we leave all of the toiletries we use on the countertop. This will never be resolved.

But, more importantly, we’ve requested with hotel management, that all room cleaners have been staying overnight in the hotel for no less than three weeks. If they contracted the virus on their off days, they could easily infect us, when spending 30 minutes in our small room each day.

And then, there were elephants lumbering across the road only feet from our vehicle.

Invariably, even with their masks on, I’ve learned to recognize their hairstyles (all men), and over and over again, I end up asking, “How long have you been staying in the hotel?” Fifty percent of the time, they say considerably less than three weeks, many less than one week. We prevent those cleaners from entering our room, asking them to find someone who has been here for three weeks or longer. They always comply, eager to please.

Oddly, keeping tabs on all of this is practically a job in itself. We’re desperately trying, after all these months in lockdown, to ensure we don’t become infected. Over and over again, it’s repeated on the local news, that there are no available hospital beds or ICU beds available in any hospital in Mumbai. That certainly is a frightening thought.

As the landscape became less cluttered and the flies no longer nipped at us, we were happy to be returning to the Maasai Mara.

Today, listening on to a podcast with Minnesota’s well-known virologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm, he said Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin are only days away from running out of hospital beds, the main reason, along with the rising numbers of cases, we have no interest in returning to the US at this time.

Instead, we stay hunkered down in Mumbai, not in a state of angst, but in a state of acceptance, that we could be here for many more months to come. If somehow, we could pin down “consistency,” it might become a little easier…or not.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2019:

Tom’s lunch at a restaurant in Chepstow, Wales. He’d certainly enjoy this now! For more photos, please click here.

Day #203 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More exciting safari photos from Kenya into Tanzania…

Breakfast in the savanna, wild animals surrounding us. Presented by our guide Anderson, there were croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

A cool morning in the bush.

Today’s old post from this date in 2013, made me swoon with delight. Memories of our glorious experience in the Maasai Mara continued which, as shown in today’s photos, a stop for breakfast in the savanna, topped off the adventure in an indescribable manner.

A cool guy in the bush.

To be outdoors in the crisp morning air, in plain sight of lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more, while we both, and our safari-mates were in awe of this exquisite event, simple in its concept, magnificent in its enactment. The thought of being so exposed to nature, most of which were always on the hunt for the next morsel of food, there we were dining on human food befitting a fine Sunday brunch with its many choices.

As we left the area of Camp Olonana, cows were in abundance. In the Maasai, Mara. Cows serve as food for the Maasai tribes. (A story follows soon about their lifestyle and their low carb, grain-free, starch-free, sugar -free diet)!

Of course, my way of eating was considered in the chef’s preparation of breakfast with a few items I could eat, including scrambled eggs,  sausages, and real cream for our coffee. Seated on cloth camping stools, we all savored every morsel of our meal while sipping on the still-hot perfectly brewed coffee.

Hot air balloon rides are common in the Maasai Mara. We’d considered this option but decided we’d rather spend the time on the ground with better up-close photo opportunities with the wildlife.

Our surroundings were blissful, as we relaxed in the cool morning, knowing full-well that later in the day, the baking of the sun would heat the air along with the vegetation spewed humidity to accompany the heat, for yet another day of scorching temperatures.

The eland antelope, fairly common in the Maasai Mara, posed for us in the morning sun.

The six of us, determined adventurers, never complained about the outrageously bumpy rides across the savanna when Anderson spotted a point of interest at distance to race across the uneven terrain, crossing over rocks, potholes, and bushes of all heights and sizes. At the end of each day, we were surprised we weren’t achy and in pain having literally exercised rarely used muscles as we bounced about, on the morning and afternoon hours-long safaris each day, except for a lunch break back at the camp midday.

Mom and baby eland.

Later in the day, we made an exceptionally bumpy two-hour drive to Tanzania to hopefully see the tail-end of the Great Migration, as Anderson described, which presented some interesting challenges and surprises we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Anderson busied himself setting up our breakfast only allowing any of us to set up the camp stools. Notice his well-equipped picnic basket. The stainless steel containers were filled with our still-warm breakfast, thoughtfully prepared by Ambrose, the chef, very early in the morning.

As I write here now, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings game on NFL GamePass, the service he pays for each year to stream the games from any location in the world providing we have a decent WiFi signal. The game actually transpires during the night while we’re sleeping so each Monday morning, he’s excited to hook up his laptop to the TV using the HDMI. I do the post, looking at the game’s highlights as I prepare the post, while he’s glued to the screen.

Anderson took this next photo of us, a little blurry but worth keeping, the only shot we had of our group of safari mates.

He makes a point of avoiding the news and Facebook on Sunday nights since he doesn’t like to know the final score in advance of watching the game. It would take away the anticipation and excitement.

This hyena was curious as to our intentions.

Yesterday, I finished the fifth and final 2000 word post which ended up at over 3600 words. It was an article about how to travel long term with or without medical issues, insurance concerns, prescription refills, emergency solutions, and seeking medical care while abroad. It’s a comprehensive post, centered around our personal experiences after all these years. It will be available tomorrow or the following day.

Cheetah blocking the road.

Now I can get back to editing old posts which easily will take many more months. It’s become a part of my daily routine which honestly I don’t look forward to, but do nonetheless.

Such a relaxing day, lounging with the family!

As for the package, this morning I received an email from FedEx stating the package will be delivered by Wednesday. We’ll see if that will actually transpire.

Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.

Have a great day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2019:

We walked in the pouring rain under the Chepstow Town Gate in Chepstow Wales to a restaurant for lunch. We stayed for 11 nights in a holiday home in the nearby village of Shirenewton. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #201 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel… Recalling a dreamy adventure…

Upon our arrival at Camp Olonana, now renamed Sanctuary Olonana, we were greeted by a Maasai warrior playing a welcoming tune on his flute, while on the deck overlooking the Mara River. We knew we’d chosen the perfect environment to fulfill our dreams of safari combined with exquisite accommodations, service, and cultural experiences.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Reviewing the photos from seven years ago today from the luxury safari resort on the Mara River makes me swoon over the wonderful memories, open spaces, and cultural mind-blowing experiences. In the blissfully chilly mornings when we embarked on our first safari of the day, usually around 6:00 am, the air was crisp and fresh, free of pollution and free of sounds other than those in nature.

The fast flowing Mara River is muddy due to erosion and lack of man’s intervention. The local Masai tribes are dependent upon its waters as well as the wildlife and vegetation. It is this river that the Great Migration crosses over and again as it makes its way from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. We missed the crossing of the millions of wildebeest but we did travel to Tanzania in the safari vehicle to see the tail end. By the time we made that journey, we were so satisfied with our safari experience that we hardly gave it a thought.

At 5000 feet, 1524 meters, above sea level, we were embraced in a world unlike anywhere else we’d ever been at that point. This was without a doubt, “the bush,” “the savanna,” the place one who loves wildlife can dream of exploring, and exploring we did with a passion, a fervor with a sense of excitement unlike any other we’d ever known.

Ambrose, our well-trained chef, made meals perfect for me, an appropriate version of whatever Tom and the other guests were having. The food was fresh, hot, and delicious on every occasion.

The unfamiliarity of what was to come was tinged with a little fear and apprehensive which was easily surpassed by our enthusiasm. After the first early morning safari in the open-sided vehicle, all of our apprehension wafted away, replaced only by a hunger for more, more, more.

The all-inclusive camp consists of three meals daily, appetizers, snacks, beverages, high tea in the afternoon, and alcoholic drinks at any time of day or night. Glass bottles of purified water were presented at our table at all meals and in our tent for drinking and brushing teeth. I was so excited I failed to take a photo of our delicious GF chicken curry lunch.

The WiFi only worked in the camp’s main lounge room and the signal was weak, making uploading photos, let alone an entire post seem less of a concern than under normal circumstances. We hoped our readers would wait patiently for the time when we could begin sharing our photos, days later.

All produce at Camp Olonana was organically grown in their on-site garden. A certified ecologically friendly resort, the care was given to the food, and the use of water, fuel, and electricity was refreshing in this distant setting. For example, all electrical outlets were shut off (lights stayed on) from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm and off again during the night. In consideration of our need to recharge our equipment, we were given a power strip connected to the generator that was available 24 hours a day. Many more measures were implemented to maintain the ecological integrity of the camp, which consisted of 14 tents, a spa tent, the lodge, gift shop, offices, and housing for staff.

Somehow we managed to eke out a few posts while we there, by making our way to the lounge room immediately after dinner, while still wearing our dusty safari clothes for the day, which we had no time to change before dinner. We didn’t return from our afternoon safari until almost 7:00 pm each evening with no time to freshen up and change.

Our tent was #4 a short jaunt down this stone-paved walkway. Camp Olonana, was cool at night and had few mosquitoes and insects. The cool nights were heavenly, requiring a down comforter to keep us warm. That was a rather pleasant sensation!

But, this wasn’t an experience of “dressing for dinner,” looking fresh and perky in order to socialize with others. The only socializing we did at Camp Olonana was with the friendly staff, our guide, and our “safari-mates,” the four other people in the six-passenger vehicle we shared each time we ventured out.

The veranda to our tent.  Approaching, it took our breath away.

Anderson, our guide treated us to a hot breakfast in the bush, all prepared suitable for each passenger’s taste and desires. A cooler of canned and bottled beverages including beer was available at any time. During this period, I didn’t drink alcohol and stuck to small sips of bottled sparkling water in an attempt to avoid having to stop too often “to check the tire pressure,” as Anderson referred to as a bathroom break, behind a big rock or bush.

The comfy furnishings made is tempting to lay here and watch the wildlife to saunter or swim past from time to time. Actually, we only had time to sit here for one hour during the three day period.

It was there I learned to gingerly “go” knowing full-well a snake could be in close proximity. It’s so much more difficult for women wearing pants than men. But it was a task that presented itself in many other parts of the world, especially the Middle East, Asia, and Indonesia, where toilets are merely a hole in the floor, not the easiest scenario for women wearing pants.

Although we were escorted to our tent the first time, Tom wanted to handle the long, sturdy zipper to ensure we had no issues. Of course, it was a breeze, opening to a virtual paradise of tent interiors.

But, like everything else in our almost eight years of world travel, we adapted and embraced our surroundings, all the while cajoling ourselves that it all was a part of the adaptation we had to accept as we’ve continued to travel the world. Has that all changed now in light of Covid-19? Only time will tell.

We unpacked, with our equipment plugged in, anxious to write here to begin sharing the experience. With no Internet connection in the tent and neither of our WiFi devices able to connect, we comfortably sat in the lodge to go online to post. As we’d mentioned the connection was poor, preventing us from posting many photos until returning to Diani Beach, where still the connection wasn’t strong. We slept in the bed on the left, keeping our electronics plugged in on the bed on the right.

Certainly, the adaptation required for us to remain in lockdown in a hotel in India for 201 days, has been a true test in itself. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I am not certain as to the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown, but when and if we discover them, we’ll certainly share it here.

Stay safe and healthy.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2019:

John and Renate’s 500-year-old farmhouse in Witheridge, Devon, England has been appointed with authenticity in mind. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Day #196 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Photos from Kenya in 2013…

Anderson, our safari guide in the Maasai Mara, took us on an unplanned 90-minute safari rather than wait at the airstrip for another couple to arrive on a later flight. This was one of the first photos we took along the Mara River. Our tent was located on the banks of the river where the hippos awakened us with their hysterical morning calls. We couldn’t believe our eyes or ears.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Anderson referred to these ostracized male cape buffaloes (one of the Big Five) as Retired Generals. They’ve lost the battle for dominance and are forced out of the herd to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. Kind of sad. He gave us a nice pose, hungry not only for vegetation but also for attention.

It was seven years ago today, we embarked on our very first safari, in this case in the wildlife-rich Maasai Mara in Kenya. This life-changing adventure will always remain in our minds as the stepping stone into a world we only dreamed about, never imagining that safaris would become such an integral aspect of our world travels.

I love warthogs. Vegetarians, they amble around for the tiniest morsels. They are delightful to watch.

Also, included in today’s post, are photos from my first experience of flying in a small airplane. I was terrified, but our pilot, Edwin, who reassured me when he spotted the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro when I had an opportunity to take the photo shown here today. Ironically, this event cured me of my fear of flying in small planes.

I was nervous when I saw them, adding fuel to our small plane, which was fueled by using a hand crank, typically used in WW2, according to Tom’s recollection of history.

In our enthusiasm to share these experiences, we’ve probably posted many of these photos on many past posts. Yesterday I finished writing the fourth of the five 2000 word posts I had to do for our web developers who’ve been working on our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to provide us with a better presence in searches on the web, ultimately bringing more readers to our site.

View from the plane after leveling off.

When that particular 2000 word post is uploaded this coming week, I’ll be adding more of the same photos you’ll see over the next few days, as we re-share photos from the Maasai Mara experience as it occurred in 2013. Please bear with us for the repetition.

Seeing Mount Kilimanjaro changed everything for me. The inside of the plane was so small, it was difficult to get a good shot maneuvering around the other passengers since we were on the opposite side.

During these circumstances of COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not easy to avoid repetition, when we have nary a new photo to share of anything in our present-day lives, which for us, like many of you, consists of the routine and repetition of many functions and activities of daily life.

This appeared to be some type of horse farm. Look at the reflection of our plane on the ground! What a sight! I couldn’t believe we were inside that tiny thing!

This morning, I spoke to the hotel manager who has personally taken on the responsibility of getting our package situation resolved. We are so grateful for his help and kindness. He’s even got his wife, who doesn’t work for the hotel, involved in trying to figure a way for us to pay the customs taxes and fees. We’re hopeful.

At the moment as I type, Tom has his laptop plugged into the TV and is watching the Minnesota Vikings game from yesterday. With the huge time difference between the US and India, he can’t watch it until Monday mornings since the game plays while we’re sleeping. I enjoy watching the games so I keep an eye on it as it’s playing. But, the disappointment over their losing record, is discouraging, making me less interested.

After three takes off and three landings, we finally arrived to meet our guide, Anderson who’s lived in the Masai Mara region all of his life. What a guy!  We loved him the moment we met him, spending the next several days with him.

Last night, my dinner was a huge improvement. Most nights, except for the once-a-week tiny piece of salmon I order, I have chicken, usually chicken breasts which I don’t care for. I asked for other chicken parts since I prefer dark meat and they served me a good-sized plate of deboned dark meat in a decent-sized portion. Why didn’t I ask for this in the past?

Well, I tried. In the past, I’ve asked for the dark meat to include chicken thighs and chicken legs. They always stated they didn’t have them, just breasts. Last night when I ordered I said, “I’d like chicken but NO breasts.” Somehow, with the language barrier, this made sense to them, and a plate of deboned chicken thighs and legs arrived, well-roasted and moist, along with a good-sized portion of sauteed mushrooms.

My knees were still a little wobbly from the flights. I was thrilled to be on the ground, meeting our guide Anderson for our time in Onolana. At that point, I knew I’d be less fearful of the return flight.

I’ve been saving two hard-boiled eggs from my breakfast to eat with my dinner since it never was enough. Last night I didn’t eat the eggs when I was full for the first time since I gave up the curried chicken and paneer makhani, several weeks ago to reduce the number of carbohydrates I’d been consuming. The pain in my legs has improved but is not gone. ye. It could take another month or two until I get full relief.

Today, I’ll begin working on the 5th and final 2000 word post. It will be great to have this obligation behind me.

Have a good day filled with hope for the future!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2019:
That morning, at the farm in Devon, when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables and berries we used for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Day #194 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Package from hell…

We’d been thrilled to see the detailed beauty of a red dragonfly that visited each day in Bali.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2015 while staying in Sumbersari, Bali. For more on this date, please click here.

Over the past several days, we’ve gone back and forth with FedEx India about receiving our package from the US, which was shipped here in July and been sitting in New Delhi since then. With dozens of email messages back and forth, often waiting a week for a response, phone numbers on their website that don’t answer, don’t work, or the lines are always busy, we are at our wit’s end.

Bonfire on the river next to the beach.

The value of all of the items, which we insured was around US $800, INR 58658. As a result, we rounded it off and insured it for US $1000, INR 73322, as a precaution. Based on the insured amount, they are valuing the contents and we are being charged US $947, INR 69406 in customs taxes and fees. Oh, good grief. This is frustrating. We will never order another package from the US again! We’ve had our fill of these frustrating and stressful situations.

Even plain leaves may be symmetrical.and beautiful.

Today, we received a notice stating the package is delayed since we haven’t paid the customs fees. There is nowhere online at their site to pay the fees! They then suggested we pay in cash!  We don’t have that kind of money on hand in rupees. We’d have to go to seven ATMs to get enough cash which would expose us to the virus, seven times over. Why can’t we pay with a credit card?

The endless varieties of “growing things” Mother Nature bestows upon our earth is astounding.

This morning when I went downstairs to pay this past month’s bill with a slip of paper asking the front desk for their help which included the amount, the tracking number, and their phone number. The management staff emphatically stated they must take a credit card. They are working on resolving this for us.

When we first arrived for our second stay in Bali, I noticed this red dragonfly as shown in today’s main photo, fluttering around the two koi ponds by either side of the front entryway. Much to my delight, it returns almost every day to the exact same location.

When we’ve called, there is a language barrier making communication difficult. Hopefully, soon, the hotel staff will call us back with a resolution. This is so frustrating we both could scream.

Many varieties of coconut trees are found throughout the world. These are a different variety than we’d seen in other countries, with a softer flesh.

Also, in the past 24-48 hours, I’ve received zillions of email messages from our readers who haven’t been receiving our automatic daily email messages with the latest post. I’ve tried to respond to each one when finally as of this morning, our web developers had resolved the issue. What a relief! If you are not receiving the emails and have signed up to do so, please let me know by email. Thanks!

The tiniest and simplest of blooms can be breathtaking.

We’ve finished our US taxes with our accountant in Nevada, our home state, paid our tax bill, and can put that behind us until after January 30th pops up again. Also, yesterday I worked on #4 of the required five 2000 word posts for website optimization and will definitely be done by Monday. From there, I’ll have one left which I’ll complete next week. Only then, will I sigh with relief, especially if by then, we have received the package from FedEx.

This frog is not unlike the frog visitor we saw almost every day in South Africa over the years.

Today, the front desk informed me while I paid the recent bill, that the restaurant will be opening soon. This isn’t necessarily of interest to us. We have felt safe dining in our room these past many months. Not wearing a mask while eating doesn’t necessarily give us peace of mind when people we know have contracted the virus from dining in restaurants, as far as they could tell. We’ll continue to dine in our room for both breakfast and dinner each day.

Plumeria is often used to make leis in Hawaii. In Bali, they’re also used for religious offerings and decorations.

Could our level of frustration be higher than usual right now, due to our circumstances? Most assuredly. But, as always, we’ll pull ourselves “up by our bootstraps” and get it together. Receiving that package containing our new passports will surely let us relax while we continue to wait out our options.

From the bougainvillea in Kenya to these in Bali, we’ve found these pretty flowers throughout the world.

Have a peaceful day! We’re working on it!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2019:

 This photo of a lamb on the farm in Witheridge, Devon, England, sent us swooning with delight. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #193 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hawaii, almost seven years ago…

Here we are at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii in 2014. Sam, our friendly taxi driver, took the photo .

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, describing a port of call at Hilo, Hawaii, the Big Island, while on a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands. For more on this date, please click here.

One may wonder why, in 2014 we choose to embark on a cruise through the Hawaiian Islands, when in fact, we’d be staying on four islands for a total of seven months. We’d always been curious about the 9-night Hawaiian Islands cruise which sailed from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Honolulu, Oahu.

The scenery along the shores of this river in Hilo is lovely.

The decision proved to be worthwhile when we had an opportunity to see a few ports of call we wouldn’t necessarily visit while staying in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. We spent the first 13-nights staying in Waikiki Beach in a condo, one of few holiday homes we really didn’t enjoy. The photos on Homeaway looked good but the tiny, expensive suite was dated, worn and overall uncomfortable.

An enchanting footbridge in the gardens.

Another lesson was learned at that time…avoid taking property at face value, based only on its photos with only a few passable reviews. We’d faltered in that area when we booked our first holiday home in Placencia, Belize in early 2013, moving out a week later due to many inequities and issues with the property, undisclosed by the owners. We’d lost the rent money and didn’t feel like taking legal action, right at the beginning of our journey.

As we entered the Port of Hilo, Hawaii.

As time passed, we became more and more particular. Fortunately, the holiday homes on the other three islands were excellent and as stated in the online listings. With our kids and grandchildren coming for the holidays to the Big Island for Christmas, we were satisfied we’d made decent choices for the two houses we rented, next door to one another, with room for all of us.

The park was lovely.

But, today’s photos are only from that one-day port-of-call on The Big Island to the oceanfront city of Hilo, a modern metropolis of typical US demeanor; lots of malls, restaurants, tourist traps, hotels, and shops lining the boulevards. In our travels, our goal has always been to stay away from busy, crowded cities but at times, this was impossible to avoid.

The last time we went to a Walmart, a store we never visited in our old lives, was in Mexico on January 6, 2013, when we got off the ship, the Celebrity Century, to purchase our first camera. Here’s Tom in front of the Hilo, Hawaii Walmart.

That day in Hilo, we accidentally got on the wrong bus, (very much unlike us to make such an error), ending up at a Walmart store. We took advantage of the fact we needed some items, making a few purchases. Not usually Walmart customers, we found the prices to be good for Hawaii where most items are overpriced.

After our short shopping spree, we decided to take a taxi back to the ship but instead landed a great taxi driver in the Walmart parking lot, who took us on a tour of some of the highlights in Hilo. It proved to be a good decision when we enjoyed our unplanned tour as shown in today’s photos.

Leis for sale in a refrigerated case at the Walmart store.

Later on, staying on the Big Island with our family, we visited Hilo a few more times, mainly for food shopping for our big group at the two houses, and a trip to the big mall with one of our daughters-in-law. Gosh, that seems as if it was a long time ago when in fact it was almost six years ago. How the time has flown!

Today, I had a late start working on the post and find myself a little distracted. I spent the entire morning, after oversleeping to 9:00 am, going back and forth with our accountant in Nevada, working on our taxes for 2019, for which we’d filed an extension. When we were first in lockdown in this hotel, I just didn’t have it in me to tackle gathering the tax information to send to our accountant, so we asked him to file an extension. The filing is due on October 15th and now, thank goodness, we’re done.

Our ship is behind the Pacific Princess in the foreground.

On top of that, I am still working with our web developers on problems with some, not all, of our readers signing up to receive our daily posts but not receiving them. We’re working on a solution to figure out why. If this has happened to you, please check your spam folder and accept our incoming posts. Also, you will be sent a confirmation email which you must accept in order to receive the posts.

Please let me know if you aren’t receiving the emails within a week while we continued to try to figure out the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Have a great day. Be well. Be safe.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2019:

After considerable guidance, guided the sheep to the barn on the farm in Devon, England. He was a competent shephard. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #192 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Is Hawaii an option for us?….

This bleeding heart so well depicts Hawaii’s gorgeous colors.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014, while we were in Honolulu, Hawaii. For more on this date, please click here.

Today, a number of flights opened up that will be allowed to fly out of India. They include; Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, and Bahrain. None of these options are appealing to us for the following reasons:

  1. Singapore: We’ve been there twice, staying for a week the second time. Singapore is a clean and safe country, but offers no countryside and is basically all cement with tall buildings, although with considerable added trees and flowers. We saw what we wanted to see there and based on the population and crowded venues, we’d have no interest in returning.
  2. Malaysia: We’ve been there in the past. Very pretty in some areas. Very crowded. Low incidence of COVID-19. But, Malaysia doesn’t appeal to us at this time.
  3. Dubai: We spent two weeks in Dubai in 2013, living in a high rise condo complex, visiting most of the tourist hot spots. Lots of cement, high rise buildings, and no countryside. Not appealing to us for a return.
  4. Bahrain: We’ve never been there, but aren’t interested in visiting the Middle East at this time.
Wow! The greenery and flowers in Hawaii amazed us as we walked the streets of Honolulu taking these photos.

Also, yesterday, a newly published document from South Africa, has banned travelers from India and the US, a double whammy for us. Also, there are no flights out of India to Africa at this time. Otherwise, we’d visit other African countries and wait to enter South Africa.

We continue to receive thoughtful email messages from our readers stating they’ve read about the countries we may be able to visit that have opened their borders. However, if India, particularly Mumbai, doesn’t offer flights to those countries, we’re out of luck. The international airport is still officially closed in India. As of now, there’s no discussion as to when it will re-open.

Many exquisite flowers bloom year-round in Hawaii

If at some point, we get tired of waiting, we’ll always have the option to return to the US. But, until such time as there’s a viable vaccine or the numbers of cases drop considerably, we feel safer staying in the safety bubble of this hotel. If something comes up, we’d be ready to leave in 24 hours, although most countries are requiring a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival, in order to enter.

In that case, the hotel driver will take us to a drive-up testing center and we’ll receive our results by email, the same day. Now, we await our package from FedEx before we can consider leaving, regardless of possible flights becoming available.

We seldom find orange flowers but in Hawaii flowers are prevalent.

We’ve considered the possibility of returning to the US to stay in Kauai Hawaii until the virus issues settle down. Overall, Hawaii has had a low incidence of COVID-19. As US citizens we wouldn’t have to worry about visa restrictions. However, we’d need to get health insurance for me which would be very costly since I never signed up for Part B Medicare, and to do so now would be more costly than if we’d signed up seven years ago. There’s a penalty for not signing up at 65 years of age. Go figure.

Also, groceries and dining out is very expensive in Hawaii, as well as rental cars. At the moment we’re living here for approximately 40% less than it would be in Hawaii. In Hawaii, vacation home rentals usually result in taxes and fees of an additional US $1000, INR 73417, per month over and above the rental rates.

Tom is thrilled to be in Hawaii.

If we wait to travel to Africa, we can live there for approximately 20% less than we’re paying in this hotel in India with meals. At this point, we’re living well below our budgeted amount. Hawaii would exceed our budget. So, as appealing as this idea is, we have to shelve it.

I can’t recall seeing yellow hibiscus.

In other states in the US, holiday home rentals are very high, especially in warmer climates. We’re not interested in staying in a tiny condo in a snowy, icy location at this point in time. Few US states have warm weather in the winter months, at least none of which appeals to us right now. Plus, the lockdown and amount of COVID-19 in many states are also off-putting. We don’t want to trade this weird situation for another, not much better.

Beautiful!

Instead, we’ll continue to wait, dealing with our mountains of “paperwork,” website-related tasks, finalizing our taxes with our accountant in Nevada. And of course, dealing with FedEx on the still-undelivered-package from the USA. Nonetheless, we’re grateful for what we do have right now, as opposed to what we don’t. We’re safe, cool, partially entertained, fed with no housework. Plus, we have each other. That’s a huge benefit!

Stay well.

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Photos from one year ago today, October 1, 2019:

One year ago, we posted photos from 2015 while we were In Fiji. While there, we stopped on the road to take photos of the sea, but my eyes caught something moving at a distance. Getting out of the car where there was no fence to keep these piglets contained, we squealed with delight, as did this little white piglet who seemed happy to see us. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

Day #191 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…The US Presidential Debate???…

 

The flowers that lined the walkway from the main building at Lantana Galu Beach in Diani Beach to the outdoor path were absolutely breathtaking.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Note: Yesterday, when editing our 2000 word post on my chosen way of eating low carb/keto, I’d made a few errors on the links for the recipes. Last night, a few of our readers/friends brought this to our attention, when we made all the corrections. You may review the edited post here.

My dinner that night: Seasoned grilled red snapper with sautéed non-starchy vegetables

Currently, in the background, we’re listening to the US Presidential Debate. With the time difference between the US and India, it wasn’t available to us until this morning on YouTube. As always, we do not express political views on this site. Subsequently, we’re not expressing any comments or views. We respect each individual’s views and fully believe in a friendly, opinionated, and lively discussion. But, our site is not an arena for such conversations. Thank you for understanding.

I listen to countless podcasts unrelated to politics and often find myself annoyed by the podcasters using their podcasts to espouse their own views. Whether I agree with them or not, I switch to another podcast. If I want to listen to political pundits and often questionable news, I am free to do so, even while here in India.

Notice the lack of veggies on Tom’s plate? He requested they be placed on a separate plate to be handed over to me. I did the same with my potatoes, handing them over to him as shown at the far right of his plate..

Each time I walk the corridors I listen to a variety of podcasts, mainly centered around health and well-being. I can’t learn enough. After yesterday’s 2000 word post on the low carb/keto way of eating, we’ve adopted since 2011, we were thrilled and surprised at the positive response we received.

Times are changing, albeit slowly, over how the low fat, high carbohydrate, low protein way of eating has impacted the lives of people all over the world with more and more Type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory auto-immune diseases. It could be another decade until these changes are universally accepted. I continue to follow scientists, doctors, and other medical professionals who’ve realized the way “we were told to eat” may have been wrong.

After our walk back to the main building, once again, we were mesmerized by these gorgeous fresh flowers.

OK, on to the FedEx package. We received the replacement credit card in the letter envelope, two months later, after filing lots of personal information with FedEx in order to receive it. In the interim, the box of supplies we ordered from our mailing service in July had recently begun the custom fees assessment, after we sent in the same personal documents.

Last night, Tom received an email from FedEx, stating we owed.INR 69406, US $940.56 in custom fees! The value of the contents is only ½ this tax assessment! How can the tax be 200%? We replied by email and await a response, notifying them that there must be an error. I looked online and custom fees generally don’t run more than 28%. Now, this becomes another frustrating hassle we’re hardly in the mood to tackle. Hopefully, today this will be resolved.

The buds for the sweet-smelling flowers were intoxicating, as in a fine perfume.

It’s hard to believe how much we’ve had to handle these past few months. You’d think that being in lockdown would limit one’s responsibilities. Alas, our perceptions were wrong. The reality remains…”You can run but you can’t hide.” Regardless of where we are in the world, we have to deal with filing taxes, paying taxes, handling insurance, website updates, paying bills, and other personal and financial matters.

Wouldn’t this make a lovely bridal bouquet?

Often people presume our lives of world travel consist of simple living in beautiful places all over the world. In some ways, this may be true. Embarking on this lifestyle, we had no delusions that responsibilities would follow us. Lately, in light of COVID-19, and its lengthy lockdown, it’s been a time when we’ve been busier than ever. Perhaps, staying busy has been good for us and when we look back, once we’re back out in the world, wherever that may, we may reflect on this time as productive and worthwhile.

Time to go now. I need to look up our credit card balances to pay them all off on bill pay, on the first of the month, go for another walk, make yet another call to FedEx, get to work on the remaining two-2000 word posts I’ve yet to start and on and on…

Just as we began to exit the main door, this red plant caught Tom’s eye.

We’ll be back…

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Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2019:

These ducks and chickens are on a mission at the farm in Tiverton, Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #185 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Six months in confinement…Package hell…

Sunset reddened clouds reflecting in the pool at our Bali villa.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2016, while we were living in Sumbersari, Bali, Indonesia. For more on this date, please click here.

When there was no post on this date in 2013 in Kenya, I scoured each year on this date and landed on our time spent in Bali in 2016. Seeing the above photo of the exquisite infinity pool in the villa overlooking the sea sent my mind into a tailspin. Oh, would we appreciate that now!

Many passersby carry needed supplies along the beach.

The total four months we spent at this villa were divided into two separate stays;  after the first two months we left and headed to Singapore to visit three embassies to acquire much-needed visas;  then from Singapore to Vietnam and Cambodia on a Mekong River cruise and land tour. From there, we spent 42 days in Phuket, Thailand, returning to Bali for the second two months.

We loved the villa in Bali, especially the veranda, pool, and cabana where we spent the majority of our days, lounging, talking, laughing, swimming, and watching a wide array of activities transpiring on the beach. Each new day presented unique and interesting scenes, unlike anything we’d seen on any beach in the world.

Gede explained that these plastic coverings are to protect watermelon from the hot sun.

Whether it was buffalo walking along the shore guided by a child with rope, no more than 10 years old; white horses on a walk; locals dressed in local garb walking along the shore; people bathing in the sand and rinsing in the sea; and children playing naked in a river that meets the sea only a short distance from us;  We were amused, entertained and motivated to take photos.

Today is the six-month anniversary of the date we checked into this hotel on March 24, 2020. During the first month, we were able to have our meals in the hotel’s dining room. But, in no time at all, India’s government banned dining in restaurants and room service was our only option for our two daily meals which has continued through today.

A typical small business building found in a village.

Purchasing and serving alcohol was banned for several months. Now, alcohol may be purchased and delivered, but with taxes at 38% plus delivery fees, the cost is outrageous. The hotel cannot serve alcohol and, with their upcharges on drinks plus taxes and tips, it makes no sense for us to imbibe at all. Also, neither of us has ever enjoyed having drinks in a hotel room. We’ll wait until we get to our next location, wherever that may be.

On another note, we ordered a package of supplies from our mailing service in Nevada, which includes our new passports, contact lenses, snail-mail, and odds and ends we can’t get in India. The package, along with a second item, a replacement credit card (due to fraud) was shipped at the end of July 2020 and we’ve yet to receive either item.

Rice is a huge staple in the Balinese people’s diet and is exported to many parts of the world.

I desperately tried to reach a human at FedEx India’s multiple phone numbers, but either the line was busy or no one answered. We each sent no less than a dozen email messages asking for assistance, always including the two tracking numbers and the urgency of receiving these two items. The replies always stated the same thing, “We’re working on it” or some variation thereof.

Finally, a few days ago, Tom received a reply from an upper management person with instructions as to how to receive the packages. It required that we send in copies of our passports, both bio pages and back pages, and our e-visas.

Not so quick. The trick was to get their website to work in order to be able to upload the documents. Once I did everything as they suggested, the photos in small-sized jpegs wouldn’t upload. Only a few would. I kept having to take the photos over and over again, to finally get them to upload.

Crossing a bridge over a river.

A few hours later, we received two emails stating we hadn’t sent incomplete files. They needed two letters, signed and sealed by the hotel manager, one for each item, stating we are staying here and can receive the items. That became quite a challenge when by human error, the tracking numbers and “case” numbers somehow got mixed up. The letters had to be redone.

After spending the entire afternoon on this, the system wouldn’t let me in when entering the “captcha.” Actually, the captcha was easy, only four clear jiggly letters but their system wouldn’t accept the login after I entered it. After five tries I was kicked out for 24 hours. Today, at 4:00 pm, I will have to start over once again. Ah, frustrating. We’ll report back on how this goes.

A Muslim holiday celebrated on the beach.

Based on the above circumstances, yesterday I never finished my walking, only accomplishing 5000 steps instead of 10000. I hope to do better today. Also, I hope to get back to work on the 2000 word post #3 sometime today. Our entire routine has been turned topsy-turvy by this package business.

OK. That’s all there is today, folks! Have a good day!

Minutes before the sun descended from view. Before dark, the security guy visits our villa turning on outdoor lights, returning at sunrise to turn them off.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2019:

This was our holiday rental, Pond Cottage in Devon, England at night. For more photos, please click here.