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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fun night out with new friends…Friends of friends….

Us with Marty and Rick at City Fire Restaurant last night.

Last night for the first time, we drove the golf cart to Brownwood Paddock Square. We had to use The Villages app for directions since golf carts can’t go on many main roads, and there are many diversions to stay on the golf cart trails. Usually very adept at finding our way around many parts of the world, we were frustrated when the app sent us on a wild goose chase.

For the locals, knowing their way around the golf cart trails must be a breeze, but it can be challenging for us newcomers when the online app can’t keep up and keeps saying, “Make a U-turn.”  I bet everyone has experienced a similar message from a navigation app.

We’ve decided to stay in tonight with rain on the horizon. Our Kroger grocery order arrived this morning with two slabs of baby back ribs, which I’ll slow cook on the grill for tonight’s dinner with cheesy potatoes and green bean casserole for Tom with ribs and salad for me. We season our ribs well but don’t use barbecue sauce due to the high sugar content. We love ribs, well-seasoned without sauce, more than with sauce, although, for Tom, the exception may be the ribs at Jabula in Marloth Park.

So here’s what happened once we arrived at Brownwood Paddock Square with the intent of finding a great outdoor bar for socializing and good food for dining after that. We lucked out again and got a great parking spot which was a fluke. All we’d have to do is walk around the square and find a bar with two available seats.

The bar at the Blue Fin in Brownwood Paddock Square.

There are only about four restaurants with outdoor bars, but the one we found most fun, City Fire, didn’t have any available seats at the bar even after waiting a while. There was live music, and the place was packed. We walked over to Blue Fin, and they didn’t have the wine I liked. We left and tried another restaurant but didn’t like the food options.

We returned to City Fire when the band ended at 5:00 pm, found two seats, and had a good time talking to people sitting near us. Just before 6:00 pm, my phone rang, and it was Rita and Gerhard’s friends, Marty and Rick. We’d heard a lot about them and were anxious to meet them.

They asked where we were and suggested they meet us for dinner. We loved the idea and said we’d set a reservation for 6:30 inside the restaurant. Chatting with them standing at the bar wouldn’t have been easy. By 6:30, they arrived, and we took our reserved booth inside.

The conversation flowed with ease. They are great fun, as Gerhard described, and we found we had a lot of similar views on life in these challenging times. We enjoyed a pleasant dinner; although the food wasn’t spectacular, it was fresh and well-presented. So far, none of the food at the restaurants in The Villages has impressed us, as many of the locals have expressed. Everything here is about socializing and not necessarily about memorable food.

How fun is this 1940s-style Woody golf cart with a surfboard on the roof?

As time passed quickly, we sadly announced at 8:00 pm that we had to leave to find our way back before darkness fell. We programmed The Villages app on my phone and returned to our house. Luckily, this time we had no trouble at all. We said our goodbyes with warm hugs and hope to get together shortly.

In about 15 minutes, we were back at the house to unwind and relax for the remainder of the evening, streaming season four of Succession.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fantastic weekend. We’ll be back with more soon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 3, 2013:

This date in 2013 was a travel day, and no post was uploaded.