Another excellent capture by Tom!…A video worth checking out!…A day in this life in Bali…

Last night as we exited the bedroom to make our cheese plate, we spotted this huge Nursery Web Spider. Although their bite may be painful apparently its not life threatening.Tom was able to scoot it outside with the broom.  No screaming.  Just photos.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Tom’s video taken yesterday at high tide. It’s hard to believe how close the water comes to the villa.

Lounging in the comfy chaises facing the ocean, watching the activity on the beach is rather entertaining. Who knew there would be so much to see? 

We have dozens of photos backed up for future “Sightings on the Beach in Bali,” the heading we’ve been posting since three days after arriving in Bali. One might say, “Don’t they have anything better to do?” 

There’s not a whole lot more we need to do to entertain ourselves when several times a day our mouths are agape in awe of a new sighting, unlike others we’ve observed on beaches in the past.  Then again, maybe we didn’t pay as much attention as we do now.

Elaborate temple near the beach.

Our first beachfront location was in Belize (in Central America, formerly known as British Honduras) beginning in February 2013 when we spent over two months at the Laru Beya Beach Resort in Placencia, a peninsula village that required yet another harrowing four-hour drive from the capital city of Belize City.

There, we spent most of our days outdoors as we do now. By 7:00 am each morning, sometimes earlier, we’re situated in the chaise lounges facing the beach while I begin to sort through photos for the day’s post while Tom starts his day checking through Facebook and his email.

A mosque in the village.

Rarely, do I ever respond to emails or engage in “pleasure browsing” until after I’ve completed the day’s post. It’s so easy to get sidetracked. Instead, I focus on the post most often able to have it uploaded by 11:00 am. Then, for the next hour, I read and reply to dozens of email messages from readers, friends, and family.

By noon, having stayed undercover in the shade all morning, we’re both ready to tackle an hour working out in the pool. After the pool, we each spend no more than 20 minutes in the sun. Oddly, with this short period of sunning each day, we’re both as tan as we’ve ever been. 

South of the equator by eight degrees the sun is a scorcher in Bali. We prefer not to use sunscreen based on its awful chemical structure instead, staying in full shade for the remainder of the day.  We get a huge dose of Vitamin D in those paltry 20 minutes, a nice bit of a tan with the pleasure of being outdoors most of the day.

Entrance to Bali’s largest water park.

After drying off it’s time to get some work done, most recently booking flights and preparing applications for the four visas we’ll need over the next few months. We’re almost done with this tedious work, but with yesterday’s poor wifi signal we’re left to complete the online Cambodia visa today.

By 3:0 or 4:00 pm, we head in to shower and dress for dinner as skimpily as possible, again wearing swimsuits. Tom always wears a tee-shirt while dining which I’ve always considered thoughtful. Why is that?

Entrance to unknown compound.

The two swimsuits I’ve been wearing are fast losing their elasticity although ideal when no one but the staff is around. Tom pulls up the back of my suit several times a day while I do my share of tugging and rearranging. I only have two relatively unused swimsuits left which I’m saving for upcoming cruises. 

I may have to order a few more swimsuits when these two soon become threadbare. I’d prefer not to have to purchase swimsuits online without trying them on but that’s necessary for this life. Sometime over the next four or five months, we’ll order a new shipment for which we’re now making the list which will include swimsuits and a few other clothing items we’ll need by that time.

Lifeboat used for training exercises in Negara.

Tom has five swim trunks he alternates which are holding up fairly well. Since guys don’t have much elasticity in their suits they seem to last longer. He’ll also need to replace a few pairs of swim trunks by the end of our second stay in Bali beginning in September. 

Unless we’re on an outing or a walk, we don’t wear street clothes or shoes. In Bali, shoes aren’t worn inside the house, a tradition we’ve always favored in our old lives. 

With only one load of laundry each week we only need to hand wash the swimsuits using laundry soap which, when purchased in Bali, comes in a stiff plastic bag to avoid the use of more plastic.  The bag is a bit tricky to handle, but the concept makes it worth the effort. Few grocery items in Bali are contained in typical plastic containers.

The owner’s residence next door also used as a vacation property which is similar to our villa but has three bedrooms as opposed to our four bedrooms and has a smaller pool. 

After we’ve finished dinner by 6:00 pm, discussed and planned the next day’s meal with the two Ketuts, we give them money in Indonesian rupiah for the necessary groceries, we head to our bedroom, turn on the AC and blissfully relax in cool comfort. By 7:00 pm, we’re ready to watch a few downloaded shows or a movie. 

By 10:00 pm, I’m drifting off while Tom’s busy checking the NYSE (stock market) which opens at 9:30 pm here and closes at 4:00 am, Tuesday through Saturday.  ‘m easily able to sleep while he’s busy clicking on his computer usually until 11:00 or midnight.

Restaurant on the beach.

It’s a simple existence, albeit the tasks we must accomplish in the process for future travels. While anticipating non-stop action for the upcoming two months when we leave here in three weeks, we’re quite content to lounge now.

Today, the staff is off. We have most of tonight’s dinner prepared and ready to be reheated. Other than the salad I’ve yet to toss with homemade dressing, there’s little food prep. Tom keeps our mugs filled with iced tea and we both keep our hearts filled with the joys of the moment and the joys that are yet to come.

May you find joy on a simple day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 5, 2015:

Tom, at the miniature golf course on the ship.  He won, much to my dismay. For photos of Bora Bora, please click here.

Happy Easter! A movie made in New Zealand…More to my liking than Tom’s…

Our favorite cow, a neighbor, whom we visit regularly on our “neighborhood” walks.  She’s always happy to see us.  This was the closest we could get to an Easter photo.

Happy Easter to all of our family, friend/readers who celebrate throughout the world.  May you have many blessings and a very fulfilling day!

As we travel we attempt to watch a movie that is either about and/or filmed in the country in which we’re living at any given time.  In reviewing all the movies filmed in New Zealand, we were in a quandary as to which movie we’d select.

Its not that New Zealand is short on options.  Nor are they lacking in producing many good movies and TV series, a few of which we’ve watched, particularly on Nat Geo, Discovery and the History Channel. 

What particularly caught my eye as I did the research were Peter Jackson’s movies.  He’s from Wellington on this North Island which we visited on a past cruise and plan to visit again on a future cruise in November.  Its a beautiful area.

Promo photo for King Kong 2005 remake.

Of course, many would suggest The Hobbit series of movies.  However, knowing Tom’s taste in movies, he’s hardly be interested in the subject matter, preferring reality to fantasy.  He also isn’t interested in science fiction or horror which are favorites of mine. 

We compromise. If I want to watch such a movie, he’ll stay busy on his laptop while I watch.  On occasion, he’ll suffer it out with me as he did last night when we watched Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong.

He was totally into the movie until it got to the part on “Skull Island” when the dinosaurs started fighting.  This was beyond his scope of “reality” and I could see he was rapidly losing interest. 

I stayed glued to the flat screen TV to which we’d plugged in the HDMI cord (a gift from daughter Tammy at Christmas 2014 which we use almost every evening.  Thanks, Tammy!). 

When giant octopus and dinosaurs appeared in the movie, Tom quickly lost interest.  He’s not into “monster” movies.

At a few points I found myself smiling non-stop as I reveled in the 11 year old technology and the quality remake of the classic movie originally made in 1933 (click here for video clip for the original movie). 

Tom’s eyes were glazed over.  I knew at any moment, he’d either doze off or pick up his laptop.  Once the dinosaurs started fighting he chose the later while I remained entranced until the end.

Of course, a highlight of the movie was the scenery which was filmed in New Zealand which had the flavor of this beautiful country especially close to the shore for the ocean scenes.  We weren’t readily able to identify certain locations but imagined many Kiwis would easily do so.

In any case, I enjoyed it immensely having never seen the remake in its entirety. Tom, not so much.

Here are a few mentions from this website on the filming locations:

Wellington locations

  • Skull Island / Shelly Bay and Lyall Bay: Filming for Skull Island took place at Lyall Bay. A second large-scale version, including the giant wall which separated Kong from the rest of the island, was built above the Massey Memorial near Shelly Bay. Skull Island was a key location in the original 1933 movie, and Jackson”s film follows the 1933 version faithfully, with a large portion of the film set on ”the island”.
  • New York / Seaview, Lower Hutt: 1930s New York came alive in New Zealand at Seaview in Wellington”s Hutt Valley as Jackson created a depression-era version of the Big Apple complete with Broadway, Times Square and Macy”s department store, as well as vintage cars and extras clad in period costume.
  • Venture ocean scenes / Kapiti Island and Cook Strait: Ocean scenes aboard the steamer Venture were filmed around Kapiti Island, a protected bird sanctuary off Wellington”s Kapiti Coast. Incidentally, Jackson and his crew made an unscheduled visit to Kapiti Island in March 2005 when they had to abandon the Venture because the boat began to take on water during filming, flooding the engine room.
  • Further ocean-going scenes were also shot on the Cook Strait, a stretch of water linking Wellington to Picton, at the tip of the South Island. The Strait is renowned for its rugged scenic beauty.
  • Venture pier scenes were shot at Miramar Wharf in Cobham Drive, Wellington.
Tom checked out when this guy appeared in the movie while I was excitedly reminded of the “Aliens” movies, one of my favorites.

Over the next five months we’ll be off to many other countries where we shouldn’t have any trouble finding appropriate movies to watch:  Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand.  Whether we’ll have a good enough wifi connection will determine our ability to download such movies along the way or thereafter.

Today, Monday, we’re heading to the mall to shop and for Tom’s first New Zealand haircut.  Of course, we’ll be back with photos tomorrow!

Carpe diem!


Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2015:

This Red Cardinal stopped by our condo in Kauai several times each day with his less similar female (smaller) partner, looking for a hand out which we generously provided several times each day. After only a few occasions, he’d sing a special song to get me to bring out the nuts.  Click here for more photos from that date.

Cruising…Lost in the minutia while out to sea…Late posting tomorrow due to morning tour in Moorea…

View of the sea before the seas became rough.

Today’s our fifth day at sea. It’s been easy to get lost in a pleasant routine of building relationships, eating reasonably good food, watching seminars, movies, and presentations, and lounging poolside for short stints.

The past few nights we’ve added the 9 pm live shows to our routine and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them.  By 11 pm, we’re ready to retire to our cabin for a hopefully good night’s sleep to begin again the next day.

We’re never bored or antsy. We spend little time in the cabin other than to sleep, shower, and change clothes for the evening. Since neither of us is able to nap, we never stop to lay down or snooze as some cruisers do.

Rough seas have precipitated the closing of the swimming pool.  Walking about the ship has been tricky the past 24 hours as the rough seas have increased.  Of course, neither of us suffers from any seasickness.

Overall, the majority of the passengers are over 50 and Australian, as I mentioned earlier, some of the most lively and animated people we’ve met anywhere. We’ve also spent time with equally fun Americans, we’ve met of the 200 onboard.

The overall Australian theme aboard the ship has been an excellent intro for us into Australian life and lingo.  Tom, who’s had a blast at the men’s club, the “Shed” will attend again today after missing yesterday when we attended a movie with our new friends, Pat and Charles.

After finally watching the highly acclaimed, “The Imitation Game,” we highly recommend seeing this superb movie, which particularly appealed to both of us, me for the technological aspects and Tom for its World War II era. 

The casino, which we continue to ignore preferring not to lose any money.

By the time the movie was over, we wandered about the ship, eventually heading back to our cabin to dress for the party we were invited to for all Crown and Anchor members, a priority points club comparable to “frequent flyers.” Oddly, the party was held in the theatre, not necessarily a good venue for a party. 

A smaller ship such as this, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, with a capacity of 2076 passengers is in the category we prefer. With fewer people, it’s actually easier to make and maintains friendships when it possible to find each other again, as opposed to the much larger ships where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.

Again last night, we had dinner at a 10 seat-sharing table sitting next to older travelers with much more experience than us. Hearing their stories encourages us to consider locations we may have dismissed in the past. How brave many of them are who are well into their 80’s and 90’s, giving us hope that we may be able to carry on for years to come.

View from an upper-level balcony overlooking the Centrum, the center area of the ship.

After dinner, we watched a fabulous comedian at the theatre. It was interesting to hear so much of the humor geared toward the Australians and how quickly we are picking up their humor. 

Although I prefer not to stereotype people, in general, the Australians are one fine bunch of people. Their sense of humor leaves us roaring with laughter and easily getting in on the fun with our own quips.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a fabulous tour on the island of Moorea with a marine biologist. After reading many reviews on TripAdvisor for suggested activities on this small island, this seemed most appropriate for us.  Many comments we read suggested we chose tours offered by the ship for safety reasons. Although we prefer small tours arranged on our own or with others, in this case, we feel this was a better decision.

Returning to our cabin, this pin was awaiting us.  We are now officially Platinum members with a long way to go on Royal Caribbean to reach a tier with many benefits.

As a result, we won’t be posting until after we return from the tour. Please be aware that tomorrow’s post won’t be available online until later in the day than usual. Good signal providing, we’ll be back with exciting photos and stories of our tour.

Also, if you do not see a post on a specific day, it is due to the fact that the ship’s Internet is down which we’ve been warned could but may not, transpire at some point between now and June 11th when we arrive in Sydney.

These mechanical devices are used for the aerial acrobats.

Thanks to all of our readers for following along with us on cruises. We realize our photos are not as exciting while out to sea as at other times, but as we come to several great ports of call over the next several days, we hope to amp up the adventure.

Happy Friday!

                                             Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2014:

Ironically, one year ago today we posted information on this cruise we are on at the present while we were living in Madeira, Portugal. For details from that post, please click here.

Part 2, Departure plan in place..Step by step process…Handling of leftover supplies…

It would be ideal if we could use all of the foodstuffs, cleaning supplies, and paper products that we acquired when spending up to three months at each location. Each time we move into a new location, we’ve found that we spend a fair sum to stock the new home with the basic necessities. 

Our goals are simple; don’t be wasteful and, don’t be wasteful with our money. However, we must admit that we’ll be leaving many items behind that are both impractical and costly to pack.

Although we try to gauge how much of any item we’ll use, it is frustrating to have purchased grocery items we never used, ingredients for a specific recipe that we never made but purchased with the best intentions. It is those very items that often filled our kitchen cabinets anyway, stuff we may never use, eventually to be donated or thrown away? Besides, no matter where we live, I’m not exempt from the occasional “impulse purchase.” 

When we arrived here, I jumped at the chance to purchase a large bottle of organic “real” vanilla extract for KES $520.50, US $5.76.  ‘d hoped to find unsweetened “real” chocolate so I could make our favorite sugar free, low carb fudge. Never found the chocolate. Never opened the bottle of vanilla. So it goes. I won’t bore you with several other such items we’ll be leaving behind. 

Then, there’s the bigger expense that we’ve incurred while in Kenya, the purchase of “scratch-off” cards for data to “top off” our Kenya SIM cards for our two MiFi devices for Internet connectivity. These are useless to us once we leave Kenya. They don’t work outside the country, typical for SIM cards in most countries, tricky for us world travelers. 

Another area of concern is the disposal of clothing that has either worn out or we’ve found to have no occasion to wear.

The question for today:  How will we dispose of leftover, unused, unwanted, and no longer relevant items which we have no desire or intention of packing?

The food items will be left behind informing Hesborn or Jeremiah to take any of the items they’ll use and either leave the balance for future renters or if they choose, for Hans and Jeri.

When we left Italy, we’d posted photos of a pile of clothing and shoes we’d left behind for Lisa and Luca, the kindly landlords, to either keep, give to family or friends, or to donate which they gladly offered when we mentioned this dilemma. 

The clothing, yet to be sorted, is much smaller now that we’ve narrowed our clothing down to one large suitcase each. Some worn items will be tossed. In a concerted effort to reduce the weight of our bags, we’ve decided to ship ahead a few boxes utilizing the Ukunda post office that will allow us to insure the contents of the boxes.  Alfred will drive us to Ukunda on Friday to ship them off.

At this point, we have no idea as to the cost to ship these boxes within the continent. The fact that we’re willing to ship them by the slowest possible method to save on the cost should result in our receiving them within a month or so, which is fine for us. 

Why not toss these items? The biggest issue is the difficulty in finding clothing to fit me. I’m tall and wear an odd size. My inseam is 35″ (88 cm). Do I want to take the time to find a pair of pants or dress long enough not to embarrass myself? No. In all of the countries we’ve visited thus far, the women are shorter than I (here’s a chart of the average heights of men and women worldwide).

In only nine months I’ll need the to-be-shipped clothing items and shoes for two upcoming cruises. One of the highlights of cruising for us is dining in the main dining areas which typically don’t allow jeans or shorts. 

We don’t want to be forced to eat at the buffet for dinner due to our lack of proper clothing, which we’ve only done twice on our eight prior cruises, each time, much to our dismay; once when returning late from an excursion with the main dining room closed and another, on the night of a Minnesota Vikings Playoff game when we loaded trays filled with food to take to our cabin to watch the game. (The TV signal was lost almost entirely throughout the game and, surprisingly, ha, Minnesota lost).

Yes, I know in a prior post, I’d mentioned my willingness to forgo style and selection in my attire. But when on cruises, one surely desires to get their money’s worth of the meals already included in the fare in the main dining areas. Were it not for this fact, I’d gladly dispose of my few remaining dresses, and matching sandals. In any case, we’re shipping all of those. 

We’d already ditched all of our “formal attire” for the dress-up nights, falling back on our basic inventory for those evenings since formal wear is not mandatory on most cruises. 

In essence, it’s clothing and shoes that we’re shipping. I have six pairs of shoes in my possession and my beloved safari boots. That’s all I own: one pair of Keds leather slip ons, one pair of tan 3″ heels, one pair of water shoes, plus three pairs of Clark’s sandals: black, beige and white. (I left my bulky workout shoes in Italy.  These can easily be replaced once we’re near a health club again).

Tom, on the other hand, has four pairs of shoes: one pair of tennis shoes, one pair of water shoes and two pairs of Cole Haan, one dressy, one casual, and of course, his safari boots. 

Start adding up shoes alone and they consume an entire carry on bag. Ah, the challenges of stuff, continues to play a role in our lives, although considerably less than it used to.

The end result of our clothing issues;  we’re shipping ahead enough weight in shoes and clothing, weighing everything on our portable scale, in order to avoid paying excess baggage fees when we fly to South Africa a week from today. Once these boxes are shipped, we’ll share how much we paid for the shipping.

The final items that we’ve contemplated over these past few weeks, was the remaining data left on our SIM cards on my MiFis. As of today, Tom has 8.7 gigabytes, remaining and I have 9.1 gigabytes remaining, more than enough for Tom to watch the Minnesota Vikings game and for me to download several TV shows and movies. 

We carefully tracked our data usage since arriving in Kenya, in an effort to ensure we didn’t leave the country with too much paid-for but unused data. 

We’ve determined, via our recordkeeping that our combined average daily usage is approximately .5 gigabytes resulting in our ability to save enough data for the layover at the Nairobi airport.  Once we arrive in Johannesburg our devices will no longer work containing the Kenya SIM cards.

We’re pleased that in the past month, it wasn’t necessary to purchase additional data by carefully monitoring our usage:  no videos other than downloaded TV shows for our evening entertainment and Tom’s Minnesota Vikings games. Avoiding the download of Facebook videos was most instrumental in us having ample data to get us through this next week. 

Yes, we still may have unused data remaining at the end, which we hope to use to download movies and TV shows.

So, there it is folks.  The process of winding down appears more complicated than it is. It requires careful thought and planning, neither of which is foreign to us.  As we maneuver our way to yet another country in our ongoing quest for exploration and wonder, we can smile, knowing that we’re doing everything we can to make the transition as stress-free as possible.

On to an improved and more cost effective WiFi option…We received a package in Kenya…At a whopping US $458 in shipping fees…

The moon over the Indian Ocean last night as we dined Nomad Restaurant at The Sand’s Resort. Photos will follow tomorrow of our two extraordinary dining experiences, the people we met, and the tour we were graciously provided of the“over the top” accommodations,  pricing included.

Once we’d discovered a newly opened DHL store in a local pharmacy in Diani Beach, we had two thoughts in mind, one; order supplies and two; return the XCom Global MiFi to begin using the two Mobile Hotspots we’d ordered to arrive with the supplies.

We figured that once the two Mobile Hotspots arrived, we’d quickly install them, ensuring they were both working and suited our needs, we made another trip back to the DHL/Pharmacy to return XCom Global’s US $395 a month device.

Let me explain what a Mobile Hotspot is for those of you that may not be aware of these devices or, if you prefer, you can click on the above link.  Simply stated, it’s not unlike the router you use in your home for wireless connectivity, either connected to your cable or satellite service. 

The difference it that when traveling, or living in a country such as Kenya, there is no cable TV or satellite service offering Internet services to homes, only to businesses.  Thus, local residents (and tourists), desiring a connection for their computers, devices, and cell phones must purchase SIM cards to install either into their cell phones, Hotspots or routers in order to receive a phone and data signal.

The end result for us is that we each needed one Mobile Hotspot and our own SIM card. Yes, we could have used one of each among us. The signal strength is diminished by each user simultaneously online. With the heavy data load, we use each day, it is practical for each of us to have our own device and SIM card.

The moon, 10 minutes before the above photo.  This shot was taken as we sat at our table overlooking the Indian Ocean.  More will follow tomorrow.

Who provides the data/phone signal to tap into?  In Kenya, it is Safaricom. By purchasing their specific SIM cards, registering it via cell phone, they provide us with a measured amount of data that we’ve purchased in advance. 

For example, we pay Kenya Shillings (KES) $1000, US $11.76, for 1.5 gigabytes of data, (purchasing larger amounts reduced the cost), enough to last us both for 3 days, provided we don’t download movies or TV shows. Our average total cost per month for 15 gigabytes of data is KES $10,000, US $117.58 (excluding big downloads) as opposed to the meager 4.39 gigabytes per month that we were allowed with XCom Global.

Don’t get me wrong, XCom Global is a great company and for the usual traveler its an excellent option. Most travelers read their email which uses a minimal amount of data and may check a few websites for restaurants and local points of interest.

But, XCom Globals’s allowed 150 megabytes of data per day (.146 gigabytes) wasn’t sufficient most days for me to download our daily posts and photos, not leaving any usage for Tom. It just wasn’t working well for us. We were cut off a few times for exceeding the allowed data usage, not by XCom Global but by their contracted providers in various places all over the world.

With our own Hotspots, when we run low on gigs, we purchase “scratch-offs” cards to load more data by entering the code on each card. We can check how much data we have left placing the SIM card in a cell phone and dialing code, seconds later receiving a response as to the remaining balance. 

Once we install the main SIM card into my phone, we can make local calls. Hans loaned us a cell phone with one of his SIM cards installed to use for local calls so we haven’t purchased a card for making calls on our own phones. The cost to call the US is outrageous comparable to them calling us using their cell phone. Not having the SIM card installed in our smartphones prevented us from incurring US $100’S per month in calls to our families, encouraging us and family members to use Skype which is free with a great signal.

With Hans and Jeri both gone for the Kenyan holiday this weekend, we are babysitting their two little dogs. This is Jessie, whom they inherited when a nearby homeowner didn’t want her. She is a completely outdoor dog, never sleeping indoors, spending all of her days and nights outside. It was hard to close the doors on her last night when we went to bed, leaving her looking at us. I wanted to pick her up and put her in the bed with us, bt we knew not to upset her routine. She’s a sturdy little dog and an excellent watchdog. For those, who knew us in our old lives, does this remind you of anyone?

I realize that this information may be boring to our non-geeky readers and mundane to our knowledgeable geeks who already have this concept in the bag. But, just in case there are a few potential travelers out there thinking of how to save on data while traveling, a Mobile Hotspot (around US $100) with SIM cards is the way to go, if and I say, if there is no free wireless data available at your hotel, resort or vacation home. 

Please keep in mind there are areas we’ve traveled, such as the Masai Mara, where the Hotspot wouldn’t pick up any signal and we were reliant upon the weak signal that they had in the lodge. Also, the signal we do receive in Kenya is often weak, making it impossible for me to edit the blog posts, particularly the photos and their captions.  I apologize for the difficulty in reading these at times.  It goes “with the territory.”

The moon over the Indian Ocean last night at 6:15 pm.

Honestly, until we arrived in Kenya, we had free wireless connectivity at every house we’ve rented thus far. This situation here in Kenya was new for us and although I love technical stuff (kind of a geek myself), Tom took a huge interest in handling the SIM card installation while I handled the installs of both Hotspots (a one-time thing).

A good feature of the Safaricom SIM card “scratch-offs” is the ability to have some free data to be used between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am during the first two weeks after downloading the new cards.  It is during this time, in the middle of the night, that we download TV shows and movies from Graboid (US $20 a month), a service that offers downloads of current TV shows and movies.

This is Gucci, whom we’re also taking care of this weekend one of the best watchdogs in Kenya.  He alerts the security guards to any activities beyond the gate. Known to viciously bite on occasion, he is gentle and loving with us, hanging out with us most days. When we return from going out, he is very cautious in determining it is really us, barking wildly, sniffing, only relaxing when he is confident that we are who he thinks we are. Gucci and Jessie are best friends, playful and protective of one another.  They love to chase the goats and the monkeys in the backyard.

If you have questions, suggestions or general comments, please feel free to comment at the end of this post or send me an email to which I will reply within 12 hours. 

As for the package we received last week. It contained the following supplies, all ordered through the US:
1.  Two Huawei Hotspots in their original boxes plus two extra batteries
2.  A few toiletry items of inconsequential weight
3.  Crystal Light Ice Tea – 18 packages that each containing a supply to make 32 quarts. This was for Tom only. I’m now content drinking real iced tea made with two teabags and one quart of purified water, having kicked my Crystal Light habit months ago.
4.  Mezzaluna Knife – We used one of these in Italy and it made life so much easier than using dull knives
5.  Coconut Oil, organic, extra virgin – one 16 ounce plastic bottle. We use this daily swishing it around in our mouths for 20 minutes which aids in the reduction of bacteria in the mouth and digestive tract. After swishing, we spit it out followed by a thorough brushing with toothpaste which results in a cleaner and healthier feeling mouth while reducing the incidence of bacterial infections. If interested in this concept, read Dr. Bruce Fife’s book, “Oil Pulling” available at all online booksellers.

That’s all folks! That was all that was in the box, weighing 13 pounds. We had all the above shipped to our mailing service in Nevada. We watched online daily as the items arrived in our mailbox.  Once all of them had arrived, we instructed the mailing service to place everything in one box, removing all the individual shipping boxes to reduce the weight. 

The 5.9 kg, 13-pound box and its contents that we had shipped from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA to Diani Beach Kenya, using DHL Express at a cost of KES $38,953, US $458 which arrived in four business days to the local DHL/Pharmacy.

The package had to be shipped through DHL for which our mailing service arranged a pickup. They are the only parcel service within hours of us and we were able to instruct them to phone us on Han’s phone when it arrived in Diani Beach.  The regular postal service in Kenya is unreliable and often packages disappear or if they do arrive, it may take months. We didn’t want to take the risk of not receiving it before we leave on December 1, 2013.

The end result of DHL’s only method of sending and receiving packages in this area is its three-day express. That’s it. No other options. The cost for the 13-pound box (5.9 kg) was Kenya Shillings $38,953, US $458!

Yes, we could have justified this in many ways.  But we chose the simple reality. Setting up the two Hotspots and sending back the XCom Global Mifi would save us a substantial monthly sum.    

These projected amounts will vary as we discover the cost of SIM cards in other countries. Plus, this is a compilation of our estimated costs for data for Kenya, not necessarily the same in other countries, although the Hotspots will work worldwide with the installation of any country’s SIM cards:

Cost reloading SIM cards using  scratch-off at US $117.58 per month =        US $ 1410.96
Cost of Hotspot devices: (one-time expense)   US $   200.00
Cost of Shipping (entire box):                        US $   458.00 
TOTAL COST                                                 US $ 2068.96
AVERAGE COST PER MONTH:                         US $   172.41

RENTAL OF XCOM GLOBAL DEVICE                 US $   395.00

MONTHLY SAVINGS                                       US $   222.59
ANNUAL SAVINGS                                         US $  2671.04

I supposed this is what they call a “no brainer.”  No guilt over the US $458 shipping fee with DHL. 

Tom enjoyed tracking the package’s route on the DHL website daily.  When it arrived in Nairobi, Kenya it passed through customs seamlessly continuing on its way.  It took 4 business days from Las Vegas, Nevada to Diani Beach Kenya, arriving at the DHL/Pharmacy who promptly called us to come to pick it up which we did that day on our way to Nakumatt Grocery for no additional cab fare.

As for returning the MIFi to XCom Global, we did the reverse, shipping the package out on this past Tuesday, Tom tracking it online daily, with it arriving in San Diego, California on Friday.  The cost for that small package under one pound was only US $33.00, much to our surprise.

There it is folks.  Our technology needs are forcing us to learn new ways to acquire the best possible service at the best possible price.  In reality, that will never change, as technology continues to change faster than we can keep up with no access to news reports (no TV) keeping us informed as in the past.

Each time we’ve face a challenge, we remind ourselves of the brave souls that traveled across the US (and other countries) in search of a new life, in a covered wagon with no roads, no water, no electricity, dangerous elements, no medical care, limited food and of course, no technology. 

But, everything is relative and this is “our time.” We strive to continue to embrace it, no matter our age or our interests, offering up a wealth of new knowledge that only can add to the quality of our lives as we all move into the future.

Visa day tomorrow…on the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi…

Contact Mr. Burgies and Get your ticket at the Placencia Terminal is locate at the water Taxi Gas Station

                                                 Hokey Pokey Captain (we think).

While still in Minnesota, we researched the possibility of getting our visas for Belize based on our extended stay of two and a half months. 

As indicated in the post regarding disembarking in Belize City on January 29, 2013, the immigration officer that boarded our ship would only provide us with a 30 day visa, ending on February 28, 2013. 

In Belize, it’s only possible to get one 30 day extension per personal visit to an immigration office, resulting in the necessity of our going twice to immigration, once good until March 30th and another good until April 9th, the date we depart on our upcoming cruise out of Belize City. 

From what we’ve heard from expats, they will not make an exception for the extra 10 days and give us a visa from February 28th to April 9th.  We understand the necessity of such rules applying to everyone and surely, we have no right to an exception.

Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am, our trusty cab driver, Estevan will arrive to take us the five mile drive to the village of Placencia to the pier to hop a ride at 10:00 am on the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi to take us the relatively short distance across the lagoon from Placencia to Mango Creek/Independence, located on the mainland.  The cost per person is US $3 per person each way.

Once we arrive in Mango Creek, it will be necessary to take another taxi for a ride to the immigration office at an unknown address which apparently is too far to walk.  Both Tom and I looked online for an hour for an address finally giving up looking.  From comments we’ve read online, most taxi drivers know where it is. 

In order to be granted a visa extension, a number of documents must accompany our passports.  Here’s the list copied directly from their form:

The application form  MUST  be FULLY completed, signed and dated, then submitted with the  following:  1. Your passport
2. One recent passport ­sized photograph
3. Proof of Travel Arrangements:  Copies of Tickets or a Confirmed Travel Itinerary
4. Proof of Accommodation: Copies of Confirmed Hotel Reservations or Full contact details of family/friends in Belize
5. Proof of Financial Means: Copies of most recent bank statement or Letter from Financial Officer (for Business travel  only)
6. Purpose for Trip: Educational – Letter of Introduction from University or Educational Institution Business – Letter of Introduction from Company or Organisation and supporting documents Tourism – see number 3 above.
7. Payment of Fees: Single Entry $50 per person, per extension

Our equally trusty Planon PrintStik, printed all of the above and we’re ready to go.  Providing a bank statement is a bit unnerving but, if asked (and we may not be) we’ll be prepared.  It would be a shame to go through this process and not have the necessary documents in one’s possession.

We could have applied to the immigration department in the UK.  However, we are unable to send or receive mail here in Placencia in a timely fashion to ensure we’d get our passports back in time for departure.  We have two US passports but, feared it would be returned long after we’ve left.

Another option was to rent a car and drive the two hour winding Hummingbird Highway to get to Belmopan, the capital city and apply in person.  This surely would be a full day’s outing. 

We opted for the trip to Mango Creek/Independence, hoping we can get done in time to return to Placencia Village on the 12:00 PM Hokey Pokey.  This would give us time to have lunch in Placencia at one of the highly recommended diners, grocery shop in the larger grocery store, the fresh fish market and the vegetable stands, having Estevan pick us up when we’re done around 2:30.

This choice gives us an opportunity for a fun outing as opposed to a long drive up and back.  It all made more sense to us.  If the time at the immigration moves quickly, all could go as planned.  We shall see how it goes, reporting back here tomorrow with photos and a rundown of our day.

Have an enjoyable evening watching the Academy Awards!  Much to our delight (mine more than Tom’s) we’ll be able to watch it in HD on the flat screen TV in our little villa.  Oh, we’re getting spoiled.  Expectations will be reduced considerably after we leave this fabulous spot! 

Technology updates…new items, photos, prices…

Note:  Please keep scrolling down to the end of the post as you read.  Copying photos and descriptions from other web sites prevents easy editing.   

Without a normal mailing address, other than our mailing service in Las Vegas Nevada, fulfilling our needs for specific equipment not generally found at local computer stores presented us in a quandary.

The best solution was to order our equipment now, head to Las Vegas next week as planned to visit family, and get to our mailing service’s office to pick up our awaiting equipment.  If, a few items don’t arrive by the time we return to Scottsdale, we can pick it up when we return to Las Vegas a month later for the holidays.

Before we arrived in Scottsdale, we contemplated a few options for receiving the items we wanted, not sure as to the situation until we actually arrived. There was a waiting list for a PO box at the Scottsdale post offices and we didn’t want to incur the cost of yet another mailing service for the short period in Arizona.

As a result, it was necessary to hustle to do the research in the past few days to determine which newer products have hit the market since researching months ago.  A few new item had in fact be released, much to our delight. (Ah, my delight.  Tom doesn’t seem to get so enthused over this stuff).

With the learning curve for Windows 8, transferring over all of our files we hadn’t placed in Dropbox (now to be transferred to Windows Sky Drive) and the difficulty I encountered getting all of my Outlook folders containing all of our travel information, confirmations and contracts, I was concerned. 

To facilitate the process, I made an appointment and brought my old and new laptops to the Microsoft Store in the Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale for a 15 minute $49 session.  Arriving on time, hauling both laptops through Nordstrom’s, I made it right at 10 am, when they opened. Tom had offered to go along and carry but, I insisted I could go alone. 

Waiting for my turn for over 20 minutes, the tech seemed annoyed when I told him my plight with Outlook.  He said if he couldn’t fix it in 15 minutes, I’d have to leave both laptops resulting in the price going up substantially.  

OK.  In a situation like this, after calculating the prospect of $196 hourly rate increasing “substantially,” I decided to recall the value of Minnesota nice with a dash of warmth and charm that I’ve called upon in the past to have a good end result in a win-win for everyone.

Fifty minutes later, after considerable chatter and chuckles the tech sent me on my way, both laptops in their respective bags, one on each shoulder ouch) and…he waived the bill!  No charge!  No bill!  No $49 fee! Thanks, tech! 

By the way, on my way out of the mall, I stopped in that Nordstrom’s store when a table of sale handbags caught my eye.  All of my bags were sold at the sale, except for a few smaller bags and the awful bag I had been using since leaving Minnesota.  I needed a huge fully zippered leather bag and had yet to have time to look for one suitable for travel. 

My new roomy, fully zippered leather handbag ideal for travel.

Ah, success!  Minutes later I walked out the door, a laptop bag on each shoulder and a Nordstrom’s shopping bag in my hand containing my new purse, on sale for $99, as opposed to its regular price of $249.  Designer name, I didn’t notice.  Quality and function, I did. 

Hurrying back to our “home,” Tom still sitting in the same spot as when I left him, he picked up his head from his new laptop long enough to say “Hi, Sweetie” with a big grin on his face when I told him about the $49…and the new purse.  He didn’t ask about the price of the new purse.  He never does. I never offer it. (Its a girl thing).

Immediately getting to work online to continue the search for a few more digital items for our world travels, most of which I have mentioned in the past in this blog, knowing precisely where and what to purchase:

1. Mini portable projector, purchased for $269 (no tax, no shipping) at B & H Photo, that we will plug into our laptops, find the external hard drive and project the TV show or movie on to a wall for up to an 80″ viewing area.

The manufacturer claims the resolution is so good that one can project a movie on the back of the seat in front of you while flying in an airplane.  We shall see about that.

(Please bear with the inconsistent editing on the photos and information from the three items below.  Copying and pasting from other websites is discouraged and thus, doing so is cumbersome).

Price: $248.00

Product Highlights

  • 50 Lumens
  • 1024 x 600 Resolution
  • 15,000 Hour LEDs
  • 60+ Minute Battery Charge
  • Full Function MP4 Player
  • Full Size HDMI Port
  • 1W Audio
  • USB Host Reader
  • Smaller than Two Stacked Smart Phones
  • Headphone Jack x 1

For the purpose of watching the  many movies and TV shows we’re downloading now from Graboid, a web site that, for $19.95 a month, allows downloads of unlimited movies, TVs, and Audiobooks.

We’ve begun the process of downloading videos onto our new “My Passport,” the two terabyte external hard drive we purchased a few days ago at Costco for $159.95 with tax at 9.5% totaled (as mentioned in a previous post), $175.19.

Our new external hard drive, My Passport.

If we download videos, as opposed to streaming, we can watch them without an Internet connection at our own pace.

2.  Mini Portable Scanner, purchased from for $196.27, no tax, free shipping.  We’ll be keeping records of all of our travel expenses.  Traveling with hundreds of receipts for every expense is bulky and ridiculous.  Every few days, we’ll wirelessly scan (Bluetooth) all of our receipts directly into the app Evernote on my computer where we’ll keep all of our travel records going forward. 

This app is also available on mobile phones.  Once we get our new phones, I will download Evernote and be able to scan receipts while sitting in restaurant, right to my smart phone while we’re sitting in the restaurant.  Cool, eh? (The printer and scanner will fit into my new purse!)

Doxie Go - Cordless / Mobile Paper Scanner

Doxie Go – Cordless / Mobile
Paper Scanner

by Doxie

List Price: $199.00
Price: $196.27 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.



Product Features

  • Doxie Go delivers smart and simple scanning you can take anywhere – no
    computer required
  • Doxie’s tiny size makes it easy to scan at your desk or on the go – just
    insert your paper. Scan full color pages in just 8 seconds
  • Scan up to 600 pages (2400 photos) with built-in memory, or insert an SD
    card or USB flash drive for additional storage
  • Award-winning ABBYY® OCR technology recognizes the text in your document and
    creates searchable PDFs
  • Doxie 2.0 included: Amazing scanners deserve amazing software. Doxie 2.0
    syncs scans, creates multi-page stacks, and sends directly to your favorite apps

3.  Portable mini printer, purchased at, for $176.51, with no tax and free shipping:  Since we won’t be staying in hotels very often (in between cruises for a night) we won’t have access to the hotels printer to print boarding passes, itinerary and copies of our legal documents that some countries require in order to gain entry at the time of arrival.  The thought of finding our way to a printer is outrageous both in cost and time.  We found a tiny paper storing mini printer that is amazing. 


by Planon

the first to review this item
Like (1)
Planon Printstik PS900 Portable Thermal Printer
  • Battery Powered
  • USB Interface & Charging
  • Compact & Durable Design
  • No Ink or Toner

List Price: $199.00
Price: $176.51
You Save: $22.49 (11%)

We’ll share our own photos once we receive the scanner and printer.  Now I am wondering if we’ll need some type of mini sound system since the external hard drive doesn’t have external speakers.  But then, maybe the sound will come out of the laptop while it plays.  Of course, we’ll test it all before we leave the US in 54 days. Any suggestions would be appreciated.   

Hummm…more on the “to do” list.