Tentatively optimistic…For the first time in six months…Plus, 62 years ago today…

Zebras stopped by this morning to see what was on the menu. The lucerne delivered on Saturday was gone, but we’ll receive more tomorrow.

I am tempering myself from jumping for joy. This morning, for the first time in almost six months, my cheek and eye weren’t swollen on the left side. For the first time in months, it didn’t hurt to wash my face and dry it with a towel without sharp pain, making me cringe. I was able to put on some makeup without grimacing. I am hopeful the drugs are working.

Today is day four since I started the powerful antibiotics, Prednisone, nasal spray, and anti-mucosal meds. This morning I took the last 20 mg dose of Prednisone and will drop it down to 10 mg daily, starting tomorrow morning, for another five days. On Sunday, I will be off of all the meds, hoping none of these awful symptoms will return. If all goes well, I can return to living on my terms, not subject to these debilitating long-haul Covid-19 symptoms.

The zebras waited patiently today while we rousted up some pellets.

The outrageously itchy spots all over my body have almost completely stopped itching, and the redness is down by at least 75%. The Prednisone worked on the inflammation from the Covid-19 induced eczema that has kept me awake night after night over the past six months. Once entirely off the medication, I will begin sleeping better at night since it causes insomnia.

Last night, I didn’t fall asleep until 1:30 am, but I slept for almost six hours without waking up. I feel good today, especially with the improvement of the symptoms. Thanks to so many of our readers who’ve written offering love and support as I worked through these post-Omicron conditions. Now, I can stop writing about this rather than briefly mentioning my continued progress in the next few weeks.

Fortunately, they don’t jump in the garden closest to the veranda since they stir up quite a mess.

Today’s date, October 18, always is on my mind since it’s the anniversary of my father’s death in 1960 when I was 12 years old. Today, it was 62 years ago. It’s hard to believe anything was 62 years ago, and I’m still here to remember it. But memories of my dear father will always remain in my heart and mind. He was a kind and gentle man with a great sense of humor and a profound ability to show love in countless ways. Never a year passes that I don’t think of him on this date.

We’ve had a lot of visitors this morning; kudus including Broken Horn; nyalas Norman, Nina, and Noah; Lollie (our sweet little pig), duiker couple Derek and Delilah; bushbuck Marigold; starling Vega; impala Chevy; nasty warthog Trouble; and a dozen or so helmeted guinea fowls.

There are too many impalas to feed them regularly. Fortunately, Tom only needs to clap his hands, and they run off, and our favorites stay behind, knowing the clapping is not directed at them. They don’t want the impalas around either.

Don’t get me wrong, we like impalas, but we can’t justify feeding 20 or 30 impalas each day. All the animals, including the impalas, look healthy and fit, although the bush is sparse with good food sources. The bush desperately needs rain; hopefully, the rainy season will begin soon.

They ate pellets and remnants left from Saturday’s lucerne delivery.

We don’t mind the rain as long as the power stays on. Load shedding is at Stage Four this week, which means 7½ hours each day without power. Fortunately, lately, the power seems to return a half hour early, lessening the time the power is off for six hours a day, certainly enough to make us very mindful of the food in the refrigerator and freezer staying fresh.

We can no longer grocery shop for two weeks at a time since it’s too risky to keep the food safe with the frequent load shedding. On Thursday, we’ll head out to Komatipoort to the pharmacy to pick up the 1000 – 50 mg vitamin B6 tablets we ordered last week. Tom takes three tablets a day to prevent kidney stones, for which he had surgery three consecutive  years before starting the B6.

After the three surgeries, we asked the doctor in the US what Tom could do to prevent the stones, and flippantly he said some people have had success with Vitamin B6. Why didn’t he tell us about that earlier? Tom’s been taking it for 17 years and has not had a recurrence. Go figure. Here’s a study with detailed information about using B6 for kidney stone prevention. Please check with your medical professionals to see if this supplement can benefit you if you suffer from frequent kidney stones.

That’s it for today, folks. Next week, once I am done with the medications, we will head back into Kruger. We hadn’t been there in almost a month when friends Jeff, Connie, and Lindsey were here, and Jeff was able to see wildlife before he passed away at our house on September 21. Connie and the adult kids are doing well and busy with the two memorial services held for Jeff in Excelsior, Minnesota, and Howard, South Dakota. We are with them in our hearts and spirit during this painful time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2021:

It appears these chicks are blue waxbills common to this area. Right now, they are no larger than a pinky finger. For more photos, please click here.

Memories from long ago…Boat ride on Lake Minnetonka…

It was wonderful to spend time with my son Greg and daughter-in-law Camille on the dinner cruise on Lake Minnetonka.

However, we decided it would be best to split up, and Tom would go with Tammy, and I’d go with Camille and Greg. It’s the way it is when we visit family in the US. At times, we have to split up to be with our respective family members. Of course, it would have been fantastic for both of us to attend both events. But, with their schedules, doing so doesn’t always work out that way.

Tom dropped me off at 5:15 pm at the Port of Excelsior at the Excelsior Commons, a beautiful park in the town of Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka, our former downtown area when we lived in the area nine years ago. So many memories flooded my mind as we drove down Water Street in the sleepy, charming lake town. So much had changed and yet, so much was still the same.

Having lived in the area for 26 years and close by, in the city of Minnetonka for the prior 14 years, it was all so familiar. Years spent boating on the lake as a boat owner left me reeling at the thought that it was in 1977 when I purchased my first boat as a single mom and business owner, later upgrading to larger boats.

Camille’s sister, Penny, joined us on the dinner cruise.

I remember being one of very few women in those days that drove a “twin-screw” (twin engine) boat on huge Lake Minnetonka, able to easily maneuver in and out of tight docks without a problem. In those days, that was unusual. With numerous restaurants located on the lake, my sons and I and often friends spent many weekends over the years on that lake, having the time of our lives.

Later, in 1991, when I met Tom, he, too, was a boater. As of 1986, I owned a house and lived on another nearby lake, Lake Minnewashta, where he and I enjoyed many years boating on the smaller lake, again enjoying every moment. Those days are long behind us.

There are countless estates on Lake Minnetonka, often valued in the tens of millions.

When we “boat” now, it’s on massive cruise ships. We’ve been on 27 cruises since the onset of our world travels in 2012 and have dearly missed being on the water during the past 18 months or so due to Covid-19. Hopefully, we’ll get our “sea-legs” once again soon when we can cruise again.

On a newer-looking, well-maintained houseboat, yesterday’s boat ride brought back memories from that life long ago. But, as we always say, we have no regrets. We chose to implement our lives on an entirely different path over the past almost nine years, and we’ve never looked back and regretted our choices or wondered “why” we did such a crazy thing.

During the two-hour dinner cruise, it was fun chatting with Greg, Camille, and Penny, Camille’s sister (who took Tom’s place). As expected, the food was mediocre, but the experience was pleasant and worthwhile and filled with memories as we sailed past houses I’d sold on the lake many moons ago and houses that had been re-built into massive mansions.

We were busy chatting, and I failed to make an effort to take many photos through the boat’s windows.

Close to 8:00 pm, I called Tom to see if he could pick me up at Greg and Camille’s house when he was done with dinner with Tammy and Tracy. As it turned out, they were wrapping up their get-together. We visited with Camille, Greg, and the kids for a little while, and then we were on our way back to our hotel for what proved to be a good night’s sleep.

Today, we’re heading to Tom’s sister Patty’s home to play “dice” and stay for dinner. However, Tom will drive me to a local pub and drop me off to see my dear old friend and business partner, Theresa. I’ll spend a few hours with her, and Tom will pick me up later when I call him at Patty’s. We have to double up on a few events to see some of our friends and the family with our busy schedule.

There are many stunning properties on lakes in Minnesota.

We’ll then head back to Patty’s and finish the evening with his siblings, spouses, and other family members. No doubt, it will be another good day, filled with fun interactions with people we love and have missed over the years we’ve been gone.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more when we have another action-packed day as we celebrate Camille’s birthday at a favorite restaurant from our past.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2020:

In Queensland, Australia, Double Island made us curious about what it would be like to visit. Here are the details of visiting Double Island. We posted this photo on Day #111 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

Leap year then and now…Travel day tomorrow…We’ll post during layover…More tiger photos coming!…

A gaur was crossing the road. “The gaur (/ɡaʊər/, Bos gaurus), also called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. It is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population has been estimated at a maximum of 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations and is extinct in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In well-protected areas, it is stable and rebuilding.”

It’s leap year day. I don’t have a “year ago photo” since there was no post on February 29th last year. But we’ve added a photo from the previous leap year four years ago, on February 29, 2016.

I recalled last year at the end of February like it was yesterday. I’d been home from the hospital for only three days, and my legs had yet to become infected but were very sore from the incisions from my ankle bones to about eight inches above my knees.

A pair of gaur, a rare sighting in the national parks, was a thrill to see.

I’d been walking around the house every hour or so, hoping to speed my recovery but sensing I was making little progress.

The pain was excessive, my breathing sketchy and inconsistent, my wounds so raw I didn’t dare shower, doing sponge baths instead fearing infecting myself with the less than clean water in Marloth Park, South Africa. It happened anyway.

A black eagle.

Even the smallest of tasks required hours of recovery. Tom did it all along with the help of our fantastic household staff, Zef, and Vusi who handled all the housework. I languished in my awful state of being, wondering if it would ever end.

And now, one year later, I am in India, getting up and dressed for the day to head out on safari twice a day, beginning at 5:30 am.
A sambar deer. “Sambar deer is found in almost every corner of India, But it is mainly found in central India. They can easily be spotted at Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh (we’ve been to three of the aforementioned national parks in India) Gir, Dudhwa, Manas, Kaziranga, and Sariska. Habitat: Sambar deer prefers marshy and wooded areas to live.”

It’s 10 hours a day of bouncing so hard in a safari Jeep that my FitBit measures 10’s of thousands of steps and hundreds of flights of stairs from the violent jostling about on rough roads.

I love it all. I am alive. And I am grateful every morning when I awaken to face yet another day, braced for adventure, braced for excitement, expecting the most but accepting when it’s less.
Young wild boar. “The wild boar (Sus scrofa), also known as the wild swine, Common wild pig, or simply wild pig) is a suid native to much of the Palearctic, as well as introduced numbers in the Americas and Southeast Asia. Human intervention has spread its distribution further, making the species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread uniform. Its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability mean that it is classed as least concern by the IUCN, and it has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. The animal probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and out-competed other suid species as it spread throughout the Old World.”

What’s next? Another month and a few days more of India, the vibrant rush of colors, and its equal passion for life.

I feel at home here in this culturally and diametrically diverse notion of life from what we knew in the past, embracing that which I know now, from that which I’ve learned from adversity.
Kanha Nation Park is truly beautiful with a wide range of types of scenery, all exquisite.

Everything happens for a reason. I was already in awe and grateful. But I asked what I needed to learn—had I yet a new level of appreciation to discover, yet to conquer?

I am still trying to figure this out. Surely during whatever time I have left in this world, it will come to me. I wait patiently. I know it will go, and I know I have enough time to bring it to fruition for some odd reason.
A sambar deer on the side of the road.

At the moment, I am sitting outdoors in the resort in Kanha National Park, in India, with the sounds of nature surrounding me, her magical arms holding me close to her heart.

It’s not perfect. Like life, it is flawed. But I open my arms and welcome her in knowing full well that therein lies the answers to the mystery of life we all so long to learn. I am at peace.

Just like in Africa, the antelopes and pigs hang out together.
Tomorrow at 4:30 am, we’ll embark on yet another six-hour drive to a distant airport to head to an all-day flight with layovers to Udaipur. I will complete tomorrow’s post during our 3 1/2 hour layover. We’ll prepare tomorrow’s post during the layover.

See you then, my friends. We’ll see you then.

Photo from the last leap year, four years ago on February 29, 2016:

View of Mount Taranaki from a walk in the neighborhood while we lived on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand. For more photos, please click here.

The realities of daily photo sharing…A reminder of the USA in Alajuela Costa Rica…

Much of the produce at the Central Market in Atenas appears to be imported when it’s perfectly shaped and mostly clean. At the feria, the Friday Atenas Farmer’s Market, the produce seems to have been “just picked” with excess leaves and insects still on them. That’s the produce we prefer to buy.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

The gnarly trunk of a tree in the yard.

In a perfect world, we ‘d have new and exciting photos for each day’s post. But, in the “real” world that’s simply not possible for us. If we only posted once a week or once a month, it would be easy. 

Our commitment and desire to post daily make this type of objective ridiculous. We’d have to be out sightseeing every day to accomplish such a feat. And like many others, we embrace a pleasant day to day life, it just happens to be in different countries every few months or more frequently during specific periods.

Produce shop in the Central Market.

When locals encourage us to see “this and that” in their country, we smile and say we look forward to seeing many of their homeland’s unique features. We often say, “We are enjoying “living” in your country and relishing its customs, culture, and way of life, although it doesn’t necessarily mean we go sightseeing all the time.

As you live in your homeland, do you go sightseeing all the time…or ever, for that matter? I can’t recall the last time we went sightseeing in Minnesota where collectively we both spent most of our lives (Tom a native; me a transplant in my early 20’s). 

Various meats are hanging in the refrigerated window. In many countries, we’ve seen meat hanging in the window without any type of refrigeration.

Sure, a Minnesotan might take out-of-state visitors to see the Mall of America or Minnehaha Falls. But, once the visitors are gone, it’s back to the usual activities of everyday life.

For us, there are specific sites we’re anxious to see while taking photos to share—some much more than others. But, more so, it’s the serendipitous situations we encounter along the way that provide us with the most excitement and intrigue; the people, the wildlife, and jaw-dropping scenery and vegetation.

 There are a few butcher shops located in the Central Market.

A few days ago, having the rental car, we’d considered driving to the beach. However, with stormy days predicted for each of the five days we had the car, it made no sense to go for four hours (round trip) to get to a beach. 

How many photos of white sand beaches have been posted here over these past five years? Most likely well into the hundreds. Spending more time living in beach towns than anywhere else in the world, one sandy beach photo is not unlike another to our readers.

Costa Rica is getting ready for Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, and we love beach scenes. But, I also love living near a beach or on an oceanfront property as we have on many occasions, comparable to our time in Bali (four months total) living on the coast in a gorgeous villa such as here in Atenas.

Although Atenas doesn’t have ocean views we’re totally content with the lush views of the Central Valley, the rapidly changing weather conditions, the birds, the sounds of barnyard animals and the easy lifestyle.

In the center of “downtown” Atenas, another farmers-type market is open during the week and Saturdays. Again, there are shops, restaurants, and plenty of produce. We walked through the entire mart but didn’t purchase a thing.

Besides living in a gorgeous home with every possible needed or desired amenity, it is exceedingly comfortable to stay in on the days we don’t have transportation nor a desire to get out. But, isn’t that like all of us? 

Of course, we all know people who are constantly on the go, planning every moment of their day and evening when they’re not working or engaged in obligatory tasks. I often wonder if those people are running from quiet time and their headspace. But I could be wrong.

A discount store in the Atenas village.

We find those quiet times enriching, refueling us for our next out-and-about adventure, sightseeing tour, or drive to the countryside. For us, it’s about balancing our lives with that which we love to do at any given time, whether it’s a lazy afternoon rest on the veranda, a conversation laden hour in the pool, a tour of a popular venue, or watching another episode of Mad Men in the evening.

It all matters.  With so much on the horizon, we’re finding the slow lazy lifestyle in Costa Rica rather appealing. Two months from today, we’ll be boarding the Celebrity Infinity for yet another 30-night cruise which will be the beginning of a year of considerable excitement and photo ops.

As we entered the PriceSmart store, it reminded us of shopping in Costco in our old lives.

Please bear with us as we present the photos we have on hand at any given moment. Many will consist of the continuation of tours we’ve done while here which we may have already presented in part, yet to be posted thus far. They may be out of any particular order and may not match the story of the day. Plus, some days the “Sightings from the Veranda” are limited.  We make every effort to find something new and different, but that’s not always possible.

Yesterday, we drove to the town of Alajuela to find the PriceSmart store (there are six in Costa Rica), surprisingly owned by Costco. We didn’t realize we’d have to purchase a membership to shop, but we didn’t hesitate to spend the US $35 (CRC 20,133.46) when we saw how many items we wanted to buy.

Wow!  Christmas decorations were already on display in PriceSmart.

Although most Spanish labels and all pricing were in Costa Rica colones, we managed pretty well.  Mostly, we were able to find cuts of meat and cheeses we hadn’t been able to find in Atenas. We spent US $395 (CRC 227,226) with enough protein to last several weeks. Luckily, the freezer is large enough to accommodate all of our purchases.

Most of all, it felt especially fun for us to be in basically what appeared to be a Costco store, here in Costa Rica.  The Kirkland marked packages of items brought back memories of our Costco store in Eden Prairie Minnesota where we often shopped. It was pretty enjoyable.

Goodness folks!  It’s still only September!

We scurried about when we returned to the villa bringing in all the items, many that didn’t fit into our yellow Costco bag or our Africa bag we carry with us throughout the world.  I put everything away while Tom hauled it in from the car. Isabel was still cleaning the house, so we hurried and put the perishables away, allowing her space to finish her work.

Tonight, we’re making one of our favorite meals, unwich (bread-less Subway-type) sandwiches, with a side of coleslaw and cooked vegetables. We haven’t had these since we made them at Richard’s home in Henderson Nevada in July. He enjoyed them as much as we always have. Also, Pricesmart had the gluten/sugar-free Boarshead meats and Provolone cheese, something we’d never find in Atenas.

Today, at noon we’ll head to the cafe at Supermercado Coopeatenas to return the car, grab a few items inside the market and return by taxi. No doubt it will be another good day.

May your day be good as well!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2016:

Sunset reddened clouds are reflecting in our pool in Sumbersari Bali.  For more photos, please click here.

Its a small world after all…Aloha!…Our video history…Tom’s last night sunset photos!

This was our favorite sunset photo of the evening, taken last evening from our veranda in Fairlight. But, of course, I’m also partial to the Kookaburra sunset photo below.
Last night, I happened to check my email before heading to bed. Much to my surprise and delight, there was a message from YouTube stating there was a new comment on one of the many videos we’ve posted over these past years of travel.  

For all of our travel videos, please click here. Some are rather funny, which our newer readers may enjoy. We’ve received lots of “likes” on many of the videos. Please keep in mind; I’m not the best at taking videos, so we ask for your patience in viewing ours.

Quite a view of the sky during sunset last night.

The message we received last night read as follows, including my response:

Thx for videoing Sio and me, the quicker guy; I had the tree that you have to keep adjusting your gear because of the diameter of the truck. The climbing gear is called a Swiss tree gripper. We both got caught by our uncles and dad’s families to help provide its tough work, Aloha.
Wow! Great to hear from you. Your efforts attributed to one more story for our 5 years blog of traveling the world. Click here for the full story and more photos and…for being safe in your hard work. Here’s the link to our story on your hard-working day: https://www.worldwidewaftage.com/2014/11/high-in-treesobserving-unusal-tasklife.html 
Kindest regards, Jess & Tom.”

We couldn’t help but be thrilled to hear from one of the brave coconut tree trimmers we’d videotaped over two years ago in a post we’d uploaded while in Maui, Hawaii, from October 15 to December 1 2014.

Here are two videos we’d posted during that period and the link associated with that post dated November 22, 2014:

Video #1, coconut tree trimming in Maui

Video #2, coconut tree trimming in Maui

These two videos precipitated the above commenter writing to us when he must have stumbled across them while searching YouTube for coconut tree trimming videos.  Ha!  Small world, eh?
It’s the magic of technology that brings readers and viewers to us over the years that continues to enhance the quality of our own personal experiences. Whether we meet a future reader in person while living in distant places who later connect with us online or, in the case of most of our reader email and comments, it’s a result of their own perusal online when they stumble upon us.
The sun’s bright array rims these clouds on the horizon.
We do little online marketing and promotion for our site and over 1700 posts to date that we have well over 528,000 readers to date on our site.  
In the realm of the Internet, it’s a paltry number. In our world, it’s more than we ever imagined. We’re grateful for the opportunity to share even a morsel of our worldwide experiences with readers from all over the world as our site continues to grow year after year.
The sun’s ray peeking through the clouds creates quite a photo op.
If we intended to make a lot of money from our site, we’d approach it differently. But, that is not our goal. If we did so, it would change the nature of what we do exponentially.  

And, it’s the simplicity and ease with which we write to YOU each day that enhances our personal experiences in many ways. But, of course, this is greatly increased when we hear from our readers by commenting at the end of any day’s post or writing to us via email. We love it all.
We’re always looking for these sunset shots which Tom captured last night.
Yesterday, we took off on the bus to Manly to walk the long distance to the end of the outdoor mall, the Corso, to have a look and take photos of beautiful Shelly Beach.  
By the end of the day, my new Fitbit, the warranty replacement that arrived in the current shipment from the US, received on Tuesday, read a little over 10,000 steps. I was thrilled, to say the least. But, unfortunately, Tom, not an enthusiastic walker, didn’t give it much of a thought.
We don’t have a clear shot of the sun going down, but the sky offers quite a show.
We took tons of photos which we’ll share over the next several days. But, right now, we have more photos than we’ll be able to share during our remaining two weeks (as of today) in Fairlight.  
And yet, we’ll continue to explore and share the photos as we go. Today, we’re attending a viewing for the eventual auction on April 22nd for the multi-million dollar house next door. We’ll take plenty of photos which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  You’ll be shocked by pricing in Australia! Please check back.
Kookaburra on the power line while Tom took sunset photos.
Thanks to “AucklandHard” (whatever that means for a guy in Hawaii) for writing a comment on our video, and please, no matter what, stay safe climbing those tall coconut trees in Maui.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2016:

This post from one year ago today is the first leg of the “back to back” cruise on the Celebrity Infinity, which we’ll board after leaving Costa Rica (Central America) on November 22, 2017 (19 months from now). Then, we’ll fly to Fort Lauderdale, where we’ll spend one night boarding the cruise the next day. This will be our first foray into South America. We’re enthused about going through the Panama Canal a second time from the opposite direction, seeing the new locks for the first time. For more details, please click here.

News overload…Dreaded “red eye” flight upcoming…A cultural dining experience with photos and amazing prices continue…

This fish soup sounded delicious, but contained a small quantity of flour to thicken.

Finally, we have access to US and world news. Although by no means have we been out of the loop as to what’s transpiring in the US and around the globe. Voraciously, we read daily news online to stay abreast of what’s going on all over the world that could impact our lives as we continue to travel.

This fried soybean aperitif was served at our table. Tom didn’t like it and I don’t eat fried foods and soy.

Some may assume that our lifestyle may dictate an “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. We’re definitely not living “off the grid.” We may have been living outside North America for almost four years, except for a three day stay in Boston to see family two years ago, although we’ve never been out of touch with the state of affairs in the US and many other parts of the world.

The coconut water is served in the coconut with its tender meat. Tom and I haven’t ordered any.

Settled in this comfortable hotel in Kuta, Bali, we got active online while watching English language news on television in the background. After an hour or two, we’ll flip the channel to Nat Geo Wild, or another one of National Geographic series, many depicting places we have been thus far in our travels.  Less stress inducing, by far.

As the days quickly dwindle to our departure in three nights, I must admit I’ve had a little angst about the red eye flight, which departs around midnight Saturday (actually Sunday, at 12:05 am).

Tom’s and Egon’s lunch consisted of fried rice topped with bits of chicken, a fried egg and a few bites of vegetables. 

We’ll have to leave the hotel prior to 10:00 pm Saturday (we paid for an extra night for the late check out) to ensure we’re at the airport two hours in advance as required for international flights. Sometimes immigration may lead to lengthy delays.

Francoise’s grilled fish.

I suppose I wouldn’t feel any angst about the red eye flight if we could sleep well on a plane. It’s just doesn’t happen easily for either of us. We can dose for brief periods of time.  With my recent injury, sitting for long periods is most challenging at this time, as I experienced on the four hour drive from Sumbersari to Kuta.  With my recent injury, sitting for long periods is more difficult at this time, as I experienced on the four-hour drive from Sumbersari to Kuta. 

Searching online I found a few tips that may be helpful from this site. Regardless of tips and suggestions, the reality is, it’s only a six hour flight. In no time, we shall arrive in Sydney. 

Pioni and I shared this platter of boiled crabs, a little tricky to get out of the shells due to their small size but the flavor was good.

We certainly have had longer and more challenging flights, including many hours of stopover. At least Sunday’s flight is going to be non-stop, which is going to be a lot easier.

Continuing to think positive thoughts and focusing on the enthusiasm for the arrival in Sydney on Sunday morning with one hotel night in the hotel which is conveniently located across the street from the pier where our ship will await boarding passengers. 

Watermelon, a hearty crop in Bali was served at our table.

Watermelon, a bountiful harvest in Bali was served at our table. As “regulars” of this hotel and members of their priority club, I am certain they will welcome us.

From there, we’ll get a good night’s sleep and be ready to board the ship for our scheduled time at noon on Monday, October 31st, the day of our four year anniversary, certainly a day to celebrate.

Thanks Francoise and Egon for hosting our lunch. I asked that we take a picture of the bill and post it here. It was shocking that the five-person lunch was only IDR 198,000, US$15.22!

We’d hope to use this hotel’s pool over these several days.  The weather has yet to cooperate. Soon, I go to the hotel gym for my third workout, increasing the intensity a little every day. 

Sure, its quiet and low key for us over these several days, but we’re doing well, feeling cool and enjoying getting caught up on a number of tasks we weren’t able to accomplish over these past many months.

Please bear with us, dear readers. The action will pick up in only a few days! Take care!

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2015:

Typically in rainforests, we’ve observed insects and birds as more colorful than in less dense areas of vegetation. Tima, our guide to Vuodomo Falls, spotted this caterpillar we easily could have missed. For more details, please click here.

What is the cost of a typical hotel on the beach in Phuket…Why bother to travel? Astounding pricing!

Prior to entering the grounds of the Friendship Beach Waterfronof esort we asked permission to tour the property to take photos.

In light of the recent bombings in Phuket, it may seem ironic that we’re writing about how reasonable it is to stay in Phuket for a holiday/vacation for the cost conscience traveler.

The entrance to the spa on the opposite side of the parking lot at Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort.

It only takes watching a bit of news to see that murder, terrorism and other heinous crimes are occurring everywhere in the world, not just in Phuket, which statistically has had less murders than many major cities throughout the US.

With this knowledge one can easily say, “Why bother to travel?” 

The resort has a good sized pool and Jacuzzi facing the ocean.

The answer for those with the “travel bug” is clear, no where in the world is free of risk. If one is to fulfill their dreams of world travel, we can only anticipate that now may be better than later.

Alternate view of the pool.  It was a cloudy day, but plenty of guests lounged by the pool.

With soaring prices, airline rate and luggage hikes and failing economies worldwide, waiting for some magical period sometime in the future may leave those hungry for the adventure sorry they didn’t push themselves to do it now. Who knows what the future holds in this uncertainty surrounding us? 

When we traveled to certain parts of the world in 2013, 2014, we sensed an element of heightened risk at the time. We’d never have chosen to visit many of those countries at this time when so much has transpired over these past few years.

An outdoor Thai massage area.

And yet, looking back, we’re grateful for the experiences, many we discovered as life changing and enriching in ways we can hardly describe, having added an element to our world travels like none other that we’ll ever experience in the future.

A waterfall and pond on the grounds of the resort, next to the spa area.

Sure, at the time we were on alert and highly sensitive to the risks we faced, with such situations as a security guard on our bus in Egypt wearing a black Hugo Boss suit with a collapsible Uzi in a holster underneath his jacket. Now, we’d hardly consider such a trip.

We were excited to see a Koi pond.

Then again, here we are in Phuket, Thailand and the risks may be as many as where we’ve traveled in the past. Do these facts impact our future travels? Only in regard to specific areas in countries we’ll visit. We all know from the media, no place is safe. 

Even the most secluded of country villages fall prey to horrific crime and devastation. Sure, we felt safer living on an alpaca farm in New Zealand as opposed to riding on a bus in Egypt or Turkey. 

As we approached the pond, the fish swam close , mouths open, hoping for food.

As we’ve mentioned on many occasions, we prefer remote areas away from most big cities with a more  quiet life, reduced traffic and with less outrageous commotion in the streets. And yet, next March we’ll spend 40 days in Sydney, certainly a big city with little fear. Although even that seemingly safe city has also fallen prey to terrorism over these past years. We can’t live in a bubble.

Soon, as is the case for this resort guest, we’ll be lounging in a chaise by a pool and the ocean.

As for Phuket, we decided to do a little research about the area for anyone who may consider this location at some point in the future. The best way to do this was to select a popular resort in the area and check it out which we did a few days ago.

The spa lounge.

We chose what we thought was a mid-range resort located directly on the ocean, Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort when most of the more upscale resorts require a reservation and passports to get beyond the guarded gates, neither of which we had at the time.

We easily gained access to the property after we showed our business card and explained to the reception staff we were preparing a story about the property and would be taking photos. They happily obliged. Security was at a minimum as we perused the property. (Had the 11 bombings in Thailand not occurred recently, most likely, we’d never have noticed a lack of security).

Another decorative pool on the property.

The resort was packed when we later learned it was promoted as “Phuket’s lowest waterfront room rates” which after a little online research we discovered starts as low as US $25, THB 868 per night!

An exercise and lounge area by the spa.

Moments ago, I checked the link for Hotels.com on our website to find a rate for
Friendship Beach Waterfront Resort for only US $19, THB 659! That’s less than the cost of a low priced hostel!  (These rates may be seasonal and higher priced during peak holidays, etc.).

These rates include free WiFi free parking, air con, daily maid service and more. Had we not visited the property in person, we’d have thought the online photos were deceiving. But, after our visit, before we knew the prices, we both admitted we’d happily have stayed at such a property. It was a surprising experience, one we’re glad we took the time to investigate.

Walkway back to the reception area.

Today, Monday, we’re staying put as I continue in my recovery, some days up, some days down, each day providing us with enjoyment as we live our lives in appreciation for the present and ultimately, for the future.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, August 22, 2015:

The sign outside the huge permanent farmer’s market in downtown Cairns, Rusty’s Markets, a popular tourist attraction as well as a favorite shopping site for locals. For more photos, please click here.

Farmers Market Taranaki…a Sunday only visit…Eggs and other great things…

The tiny free-range eggs we purchased at the grocery store the day we arrived compared to the eggs we purchased at the Farmers Market Taranaki on Sunday. This morning, during the football game I made Tom nitrate-free local bacon and three of these jumbo eggs, scrambled with cheddar cheese (referred to as non-processed Tasty cheese in both AU and NZ).

We’d heard and read in a local paper that there’s a farmers market downtown on Sundays only from 9 am to noon. Busy posting each morning we weren’t certain we’d get done in time to visit.

However, after wakening very early yesterday, we uploaded the post by 10 am and headed out the door to the Farmers Market Taranaki. By the time we made the 20-minute drive to the quaint, charming, and easy to maneuver New Plymouth downtown, we found a convenient free Sunday parking spot and walked the short distance to the market.

The eggs are so big, the crates won’t close.  We’ll save the crates to return them to the farmer next week.

The Farmers Market Taranaki is located on a side street closed off on Sunday mornings only, with many bordering shops open, also hoping to sell their wares. Smaller than we’d expected with no more than 20 stalls, once we started perusing the products we realized two things; one, next time we’ll arrive at 9:00 am, when by 10:30 almost all of the produce was gone; two, many of the products they offered were right on target for our goal of a healthy lifestyle.

The market was unquestionably geared to unique health-type products with our greatest find, the free-range eggs. Over the years, we’ve become discriminating when buying eggs. Here’s a chart from the US Humane Society describing the differences in purchasing eggs:

Buying eggs may be confusing, even when fully aware of the details of this chart.  We feel most at ease when buying eggs in countries where food regulations are high, such as in Australia and New Zealand or in countries where we know the eggs are organic when buying from certain local farmers recommended by the locals.

Although a lot of plants were still available, most of the produce was already sold by the time we arrived, 90 minutes after opening.  Next time, we’ll arrive at 9 am.

Is consuming regular eggs from chickens squeezed into tiny spaces, fed chemicals, injected with drugs, ultimately dangerous? We can’t imagine it’s safe to eat chemically treated caged eggs, especially when eating as many eggs a week as we often do. 

A band was playing during the farmers market.

The USDA and FDA allow “regular” eggs and other food products to be sold which is no assurance of safety in today’s world when people are becoming ill (with many deaths) from listeria, salmonella, and other life-threatening conditions from poorly managed food processing and handling. (No, I won’t get out my soapbox on this topic). 

Of course, there’s no guaranty that buying organic eggs or other foods from local farmers is entirely safe. But, the odds are greatly improved without added chemicals and drugs and, with less handling and transporting.  We’ve opted on the safer side when possible.

Tom eyeballed the bread and pastries and as usual, was able to resist.

When we discover a friendly local egg farmer at the Farmers Market Taranaki with some of the finest looking eggs we’ve seen in a while, we couldn’t resist purchasing four dozen at NZ $6, US $3.89 each, an excellent price. 

Prices are reasonable for the baked goods when based on today’s rates the NZ $1 is equivalent to US $.65.

What surprised us the most was the size of the eggs after the tiny organic eggs we purchased at the supermarket when we first arrived when no other options were available at the time. Out of the first dozen of the store-bought “organic” eggs, four or five eggs were bad. Although able to handle seeing and touching gross things in general, I cringe and almost gag when cracking open a bad egg.

The organic guy was busy consulting with a customer taking time to handle our two purchases, Himalayan salt and raw walnuts.

These free-range organic eggs from the local Carpe Diem Farms were not only huge, as shown in the above photo, compared to the supermarket eggs but they were fresh after using several when making last night’s dinner and Tom’s breakfast this morning. We never encountered a single bad egg.

Excited over the eggs, knowing we’d return for all of all future egg purchases, we continued perusing and buying more products as we walked along the two rows of vendors.

We purchased finely ground Himalayan salt for cooking and brushing teeth at NZ $10, US $6.49. I couldn’t resist a 500 gram (over one pound) bag of raw organic unsalted walnuts at NZ $30, US $19.47. Plus, we bought two bags of tomatoes, one acid-free and another bag of regular tomatoes at NZ $5, US $3.25 each which we had with our homemade Asian burgers (no buns) last night.

A variety of vegetable and fruit plants and trees were offered for sale. Its summer here (comparable to July in the northern hemisphere).  Soon, more locally grown produce will be available.

With our yellow Costco bag almost filled to the brim, we stopped at the last vendor booth to find a treat I’d never expected to find; organic, flavored without sugar, coconut butter. Samples were provided and after tasting each of the four flavors offered, we purchased three flavors; toasted coconut, chocolate, and vanilla. Its texture is comparable to eating peanut butter out of the jar. What a treat! 

It’s a rare occasion that I can have something that naturally tastes like a dessert. Last night after dinner (a rare dessert-like dish) I filled a small bowl with a square of leftover homemade sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free coconut cake, topped with this amazing coconut butter, a dollop of full fat sour cream and a handful of the raw walnuts. 

To the left are the organic acid-free tomatoes with organic regular tomatoes to the right, all priced at NZ $5, US $3.25 per batch as shown. We purchased both for comparison for future purchases. So far, the acid-free are winning at the same price.

My after-dinner treat was comparable to eating a fine dessert!  Then again, this may not appeal to everyone when my taste buds have adjusted to living without much sweetness. Most nights, I don’t eat anything after dinner.

We spent a total of NZ $110, US $71.40 at the Farmers Market Taranaki, much more than we’ve ever spent at any farmers market when in most cases we only purchase produce and eggs. Prices are often higher for organic specialty foods. Next week, we’ll make a point of arriving by 9:00 am to ensure we can buy the fresh fish (our favorites were gone) and produce which was cleaned out by the time we arrived (except for the tomatoes).

These jars of coconut butter, priced at NZ $12, US $7.79 each, are delicious, low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, and starch-free with a texture similar to peanut butter. The Himalayan salt was NZ $10, US $6.49. The organic raw walnuts were NZ $30, US $19.47.

This isn’t a poor area by any means. Whereby in Fiji, the local farmers, desperate to earn a meager living, worked the farmer’s markets almost daily selling their products at very low prices. Most of the produce in the grocery stores is organic but prices are considerably higher, which we expected. 

With the help of the staff in the produce department, we’ve been able to determine which veggies to buy that are provided by larger local farms that don’t use pesticides/herbicides on their crops. We do the best we can, based on what is offered locally.

Four baby alpacas hanging out together close to our driveway, all born in the past week.

Tom’s busy watching NFL football which started at 9:00 am today. I’ll be busy making dinner and taking photos today. Last night, Trish and Neil moved the alpacas to our side yard to give the other paddock rest for a week.  Now, these adorable creatures are visible from where I’m sitting now only a few feet outside the sliding door to the wraparound veranda. Wow!

To all of you in the US have a great football day and to those in the rest of the world, enjoy your other forms of football (footy in Australia) which are equally popular if not more.

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2015:

One year ago, we were thrilled when we began to experience a social life, many thanks to our new friend Richard whom we’d met at the golf club. Here’s a view while crossing a bridge on our way to Hanalei Bay for more exquisite scenery in Kauai. For more details please click here.

Wow!..Six days and counting…Four months have already passed?…Now, switching gears and countries…

We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months.  I’m looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand.

It seems like yesterday we arrived in Fiji.  By our perception, four months in Fiji passed in the blink of an eye.  When we mention we’ll be in the US in less than 17 months, having fulfilled our goals for seeing many areas of the South Pacific it sounds far away. To us, it will transpire in no time at all.

All we have to do is look back 17 months ago to recall how quickly time has passed when we spent two weeks in Paris and then two more weeks in London.  Those memories are forefront in our minds, as if it was only a few months ago.

Dried leaves used for weaving rugs and other items.

It seems as if once we embarked on this journey time seemed to fly more quickly.  In our old lives when we took an occasional vacation (few, due to my then poor health), the days passed so quickly that all of a sudden it was Wednesday, the middle of a one week trip.  

As hard as one may attempt to live in the moment and enjoy each remaining day of a “vacation” the looming departure date is hard to ignore.  Most travelers have experienced that sensation while on vacation/holiday, especially when having a fabulous time.

Pineapple is a commonly grown fruit in Fiji, often available for the taking in many areas.  In the farmers market, they sell to visitors, not many locals.

In our lifestyle of perpetual travel we seldom feel a sense of dread in leaving a country (although I struggled leaving South Africa).  We don’t experience angst in anticipation of leaving, only a bit of discomfort over lengthy travel days where flying and waiting time exceeds eight or ten hours. 

Anything less, is a breeze.  These days, we don’t think about packing until one or two days before departure although I may start folding and organizing three of four days earlier always in an attempt to lighten the load for upcoming flights.

Pineapple leaves stripped from the pineapples are used for weaving and decorations.

Flying from Fiji’s Nausori Airport in Suva next Monday will definitely result in paying excess baggage fees.  With our luggage containing everything we own each bag is heavier than normally allowed.  Most airlines allow one checked bag each.  We have an extra third bag containing supplies, shoes, toiletries and first aid.

Each airline has its own varying weight restrictions and we’ve found we’ve paid more on multiple flights in this part of the world than in many others.

Unquestionably, our dislike of flying and its associated commotion, delays, tight quarters and baggage fees has been instrumental in our preferring cruising to flying whenever possible.  Cruising doesn’t include baggage fees, includes housing and meals and is an easy way to travel to many parts of the world in one fell swoop. 

Rows upon rows of pineapples for sale for one third the cost as in Hawaii.

After 11 cruises in the past three years, we’ve learned to avoid crowds and long queues associated with hundreds of people trying to gain access to tourist venues and getting on and off cruise-arranged buses.  We prefer to be included in small groups tours arranged by people Tom meets on the CruiseCritic website who are looking for participants in six or eight person charters. 

While on the ship, we tend to be observers of various activities rather than participants, organize meal and pool times when the crowds are lighter, instead spending time in small groups with people we meet.

The kid’s face is priceless as he checks out the big slices of locally grown watermelon at the farmers market in Suva.  Hope his dad made a purchase.

Of course, we’ll spend the better part of each morning preparing the day’s post, often sitting in a spot where we can easily chat with those around us, making the process all the more entertaining.

Need I say, we’re looking forward to being aboard the cruise a week from today.  No doubt, if available, Tom will participate in the daily “Shed,” an Australian inspired “men only” get together where they discuss “guy things.”  In some countries this gender specific gathering may be frowned upon as “sexist.”  But, in Australia, not the case.  Women are not welcomed and no one seems to care.

I’m thrilled when he’s has the opportunity for these two hours without me able to interact with other guys.  He says he enjoys it not as a means of being away from me for a few hours but for the camaraderie. How sweet, he is! Regardless of the reasons, I always find others to chat with in his absence, often other women who’s partner is also attending the “Shed.”

We stopped at a meat market in Suva but didn’t make a purchase when we had the long drive back to Pacific Harbour and had yet to grocery shop.

Today, we’re off to the Arts Village for a few final groceries to fill in the blanks for our remaining six meals, five of which we plan to have at home.  With careful planning, as always, we’ll be leaving behind only a few condiments and spices.

The sun is trying to peek out of an almost entirely cloud covered sky.  Whether today will be day 12 of rain is yet to be seen.  The hanging clothes from laundry of three days ago hasn’t fully dried.  The cool weather of New Zealand, where we’ll arrive on January 19th after the cruise, sounds rather appealing at this point.

Have a fabulous day as this holiday season winds down.


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

A whale’s back, spotted yesterday.  I took this whale photo from the lanai at one of the rental houses on the Big Island.  On this day, one year ago, family began leaving the islands to head back to the mainland.  At this point, we had no idea when we’d see everyone again but now its on the itinerary as mentioned above.  For more photos, please click here.

Collecting seashells…Returning them to nature…Is it legal to collected coral in Australia?

Here are the laws regarding collecting any pieces of coral in Australia.

Over these past few years, we’ve walked the sands of numerous beaches throughout the world looking forward to many more beach walks in years to come. As we’ve walked our eyes have wandered from dreamily looking out to the sea to watching our step when an occasional branch or stick obstructed the path.

The Aztec type lines in this shell are amazing.

As we’ve walked we often looked down for seashells, often disappointed in never finding a single shell of any particular interest. Most were broken and already picked over from decades of tourists and locals walking those same beaches.

We found this coral in the bowl in the house. 
This shell has a rough exterior.

Here in Australia, after visiting many beaches so far we’ve been amazed by the number of shells we’ve collected. Are the beaches here all that less populated and visited by tourists? Also, we discovered some exquisite shells in a bowl here in our home. 

This shell appears to have an eye looking at us.

When we think of collecting seashells we often think of children sifting through the sand for that special find.  But, with our passionate relationship with nature, we’ve found ourselves picking through the sand with the enthusiasm of a child as we slipped one shell after another into our pockets to share here with our readers today.

This, found in the bowl in the house is quite unusual.

Few of the shells we encountered were broken and as we’ve continued on we realized we could easily have gathered hundreds, if not thousands of beautiful shells during this short period of time on our frequent visits to the half dozen or so beaches in the immediate area.

This shell is an exciting find.

Growing up in California I spent many sunny days at the beach. Then, it was easy to take the shells on the beach for granted when often stepping one could result in a tiny yet painful cut. 

This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.

However, on occasion, a special shell would be kept as a memento of a good day at the beach often wishing I had a way to make a little hole in the shell to fashion it into a necklace with a thin gold chain.  n those days children were to “be seen but not heard” and asking my overworked father or angst-ridden mother for assistance was unthinkable. 

The smallest in this group is most intriguing.
The variance in color makes the shells, particularly interesting to find.

It remained a frivolous interest in the 1950s compared to my desire for a Barbie Doll which I never owned until girlfriends gave me one as a gift for my 40th birthday. I was thrilled as much then as I would have been at 10 years old. 

This is one of the larger shells we discovered.

Now, as we inspect the seashells we wonder what little creature dwelled therein, how long it survived, and why it left its shell behind. Below is the information, although simple, as to how seashells are created.

These three are definitely similar.
“Where do seashells come from? Seashells are the external skeletons of a class of marine animals called Mollusks. Where people have our skeletons on the inside of our bodies, mollusks have theirs on the outside of theirs. This way they help protect the creatures from predators, strong currents, and storms, help camouflage the animal and do many other things. Seashells are primarily made of calcium, a hard mineral, as our own bones are.
Speckled shell in varying shades of browns and gray.

“Marine” means having to do with the ocean — in this case, it means the animals live in seawater, in one of the world’s oceans.

When a mollusk dies, its shell is left behind, just as land animals leave their skeletons behind. Sometimes the shell is taken and used as a home by other sea creatures, such as hermit crabs. When a hermit crab outgrows the shell it has borrowed, it abandons it and finds a larger one to use.

Smoother exteriors on these shells.

Mollusks are divided into many types, but the two major ones are bivalves and univalves. These names are derived from Latin words, where “Bi” means “two” — which we see in words like “bicycles” (two wheels) and “bipeds” (animals that walk on two legs). “Uni” means “one” — for example the word “unicycle” which means it has just one wheel.

This shell appears to have a small round bead attached.

So bivalves are mollusks that have two shell halves that form a whole shell. Examples would be clams and oysters. Most mollusks are bivalves.

It’s colorful on the edges.

Univalves just have a one-piece shell, usually a spiral-type shell, often looking something like a larger, stronger, and more elaborate snail’s shell. Examples of univalves would be conch, whelks, nautilus, and similar shells.

Two of these shells had openings on the opposite side.

After the animal that created the seashell dies, the shell often washes up onto the shore or remains in the tide pool where the creature lived. Sometimes other creatures such as small hermit crabs then take the empty shell and use it as their home.”

This shell has a pearl or abalone type exterior.
These shells all had a  similar grayish tone.

Identifying all of the shells we collected and are showing today and their technical species names would take time sorting through hundreds of possibilities. We share them for their beauty and the possible story held therein that we can only imagine. For those of you interested in more technical details, please click here.

Most of the shells were smaller than a ping pong ball.

Today, we’ll return our shells to the beach where they belong, perhaps leaving them for someone else to find and treasure.

Plain white shells.
We grouped these together for their similar coloration.

Have a day filled with wonders!  We’re taking off for Cairns today and will be back with many new photos tomorrow.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2014:

One year ago today we were on our way for a boat ride in Funchal hoping to see whales up close and personal. Although we’ve been on several such boat rides, we’ve yet to see a whale up close. We’ll keep trying. These beautiful Alstroemeria were growing in our yard in Madeira. For details from that post, please click here.