Still sick…Friday deadline…My dreadful mistakes…

 

The moon as we dined across the way from a third-floor rooftop.

This morning after another dreadful night, I’m still ill. The raging case of some type of intestinal bug is playing hell with me. If I’m not better by Friday, I’ll begin a three to five day dose of Ciprofloxin, commonly referred to as Cipro which we have on hand.

As dusk fell, the brightness of the moon became more evident.

I despise the necessity of taking antibiotics and will do so only when in dire need. Now, perhaps the second time in less than a year, I do so hesitantly. So far, we haven’t been able to find an English speaking doctor. 

Tom pointed out this late afternoon moon.

If we did, I couldn’t make the long walk through the Medina to get out to the road to take a taxi. At the moment, I have trouble walking across the room, let alone dressing to go out and riding in a taxi.

A horse and buggy driver awaits his next customer. What a nice sky!

Home care is the only way to go at this time. I realize many will disagree with this idea, but for now we have no other options. I don’t know if this intestinal issue is related to my occasional fever, bouts of sweating and shivering, tiredness and general malaise. For now, I will assume they are related and begin to treat it as one.

The souk is filled with tourist over the weekends, thinning out by Tuesday.

Taking the Cipro will tell all. If after doing so for three to five days and if there’s no improvement, I’ll have no choice but to go to a doctor. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. 

These sparkly baskets were eye appealing but not practical in their small size and lack of an option for fully closing, making them a target for possible pickpockets. We’ve yet to see any interest in these as we walk past this display when we enter the souk.

Why wait until Friday? After reading what the CDC has to say, I should give it a little more time since in many cases it will resolve on its own but can take up 30 days. Actually, the intestinal thing started after we were here only a few days.

Late afternoon Saturday, before the arrival of the crowds for evening dining and shopping.

Here goes…it was all my fault. I ate all the wrong things when dining out the second day after our arrival.  Here’s what I did wrong:

1.  Salads in almost every occasion when dining out: Salads contain lettuce and raw vegetables washed in local tap water
2.  Salad on first time we ate out made with fresh seafood and uncooked calamari.
3.  First few times out, I ordered beverages with ice. Tap water used in making ice except in fine dining restaurants and nicest hotels.

What was I thinking? I knew better in each of these situations. Any one of these scenarios could be responsible for my illness, or all three. The bottom line, I must further curtail what I order. Why did I fall short of following our own guidelines?

This vendor combined the less popular baskets with spices and other items.

I can only equate my error in judgment to complacency. When dining out in Kenya we stayed with the restaurants at the nicer local resorts who were diligent in avoiding illness for their overnight guests. If guests were to get sick, reviewers would write negative online reviews, affecting future business. Only once, did we eat at a standalone restaurant when I ordered a steak and cooked vegetables and no ice.

In South Africa, the local water was relatively clean, although we drank bottled water, as we often do. When I cooked four or five meals a week I washed raw vegetables in a bowl of purified water. We always dined at local resorts rather than standalone restaurants. But, we were always able to eat salads with raw vegetables without incident.

Many vendors carry a variety of products.

By the time we arrived in Marrakech, I had become complacent. Also, there are some of us traveler that perceive, after a period of time traveling the world, that we become invincible. That was me, a mistaken rationale, so wrong in the assumption. Now, I pay the price.

With 58 more days in Morocco, I’ve promised myself to proceed with caution. No more salads, no raw seafood or cooked shellfish, no uncooked vegetables and no ice in my beverages when in restaurants, which I cut out two weeks ago. (We make our own ice from bottled water at home).

Hopefully, with Madame Zahra cooking, I can begin to heal. Tonight, we asked for cheese omelets, beef tagine and chips for Tom. No spices. 

When one isn’t feeling well, the strong Moroccan spices are especially overwhelming. In Madame Zahra’s meticulous desire to feed me well, she’s prepared three or four vegetables each night along with meat. Eating this much fiber in my current state has obviously been detrimental. For the next several days, I won’t consume any vegetables at all.

The use of these colorful glass bottles is a mystery to us.  In Morocco, many offered items are more decorative than functional.

After an entire day spent lounging and reading books on my phone, lying on the sofa in the salon with two of my bed pillows, another day of the same awaits me, as soon as I post for today.

The photos we posted yesterday and again today, are photos we’ve saved that we’d yet to share, all taken last week before I became immobilized. Hopefully, soon, we’ll be able to return to our regular lives, go on our previously cancelled outing and book our trek to the desert and Atlas Mountains. At this point, everything else is up in the air.

Thanks our family members, friends and reader friends who have written expressing their good wishes for renewed health. This means the world to both of us. And, thanks to all of you for continuing to read our less interesting posts while we’re housebound. 

Note: Samir stopped by as I wrote her this morning.  e suggested that when and if needed, he will arrange for a doctor to come here and he’ll translate. After reading from the CDC”s website an alternate drug is suggested if Cipro doesn’t work. Seeing the doctor will enable me to get the necessary prescription. If I start Cipro on Friday, by next Wednesday, after five days of dosing, we’ll know if the doctor is needed. As always, there’s comfort in knowing we have a plan in place.

 

Merry Christmas everyone…Power is out…Very little battery left….No generator…a Christmas poem I wrote many years ago…

 

This must be the tree frog mom or dad as it croaks atop this branch a few feet from the white foam nest that is rapidly disintegrating. We now doubt that they’ll mature into tadpoles since the environment in the pool is not conducive to their maturing.

Yep, the power goes out here as often as it does in Kenya.  With no generator for this house and one hour of battery left on my laptop, today I’ll post quickly wishing all of you a Merry Christmas with a few photos and a poem I wrote over 20 years ago, to read at our holiday table each year.

On our way to the Marloth Park Farmers Market, a few blocks from our home. We count the days until they return to our yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, there’s no holiday table. Leon, the owner of Jabula Lodge was so kind to introduce us to a lovely couple, Lynne and Mick, whom we so enjoyed on two occasions before they were scheduled to return to their second home in the UK. 

More on the way to the store…

Lynne and Mick, like Leon, have led us to meet yet another couple, good friends of theirs, Kathy and Donald, who also have a home in Marloth Park who have invited us for a happy hour tonight on Christmas Eve. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

We wish each and every one of our readers and their families a holiday season filled with a special meaning that fills your hearts with love. And to Tom’s brother, my brother-in-law, Jerry and his family: May this sorrowful holiday season be filled with great memories and storytelling of dear Lee, whom we lost only a few days ago. Her love and warmth will remain with us forever.

Here’s our poem that may be befitting for your holiday table:

OUR HOLIDAY TABLE
Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here
Family and friends, sharing holiday cheer
Our plates, all filled, with tasty delights
Our appetites whetted, to take the first bites
The candlelight glowing on each smiling face
As we look to each other, wondering who will say “grace”
The words are well-spoken, as hands are held tight
The meaning, so special, this holiday night
Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here
At this table we’ve gathered for many a’ year
We’ve enjoyed fancy dinners, some romantic for two
And squeezed in so many, as our family grew
And now, here are our children, adult and attached
In love with their partners and very well matched
With room at the table, their children are here
As we teach them the meaning of holiday cheer
A few are still missing, there always will be
Their gifts in the mail, not under the tree
We’re feeling their love, across all the miles
Holding back tears, remembering their smiles
Elbow to elbow, we’re all gathered here
Putting aside life’s trouble and fear
The food and the merriment, the taste of good wine
The joy and the happiness, knowing their mine.
Merry Christmas…

 

Here’s the shocker, folks!!!…Physically, emotionally, financially….

 

The four cardboard boxes we’d packed, were ready to get shipped at the local post office.

OK. The power is out and will continue to be out for the entire day today as it was last night beginning at 9:30 pm. The generator is a hit and miss, going off and on intermittently. It’s not on now. My computer indicated that I have 45 minutes of battery left so I must write quickly to get this posted.

I hope that our “shocker” didn’t appear as if it was a life-threatening situation. But, for us, it truly is a life-changing situation; physically, emotionally, and financially.

Here it is:  

I had looked far and wide for this pair of 3″ heels a few years ago, loving the neutral color.
This is my last pair of high heels.  Bye, bye, shoes.

This decision didn’t come easily. We’d already packed the four cardboard boxes with clothing, shoes, accessories with the intent of shipping them to our house in South Africa after I’d verified that we could receive packages and confirmed the address. 

Our intent was to have Alfred take us to the Ukunda post office, not to DHL, where we recently had spent KES $38,953, US $458 to have one box shipped from our mailing service in Nevada to the DHL store in Diani Beach, Kenya that weighed only 13 pounds (5.9 kg)! 

Instead, our plan this time was to box everything up that we wanted to ship and use the Ukunda post office, a 45 minute round trip drive from here. It was already set up with Alfred to take us on Friday morning at 10:00 am. 

Unaware of the potential mailing costs at the post office, we knew that we’d have to get a ton of shillings from the ATM with the post office only accepting cash. That in itself presented a dilemma.  f we got too much cash, how would we get it converted to Rand (ZAR), the money used in South Africa, without incurring exchange fees? 

Surprisingly, these long casual cotton dresses are heavy, especially when I purchased them to accommodate my height, 4″ taller than the average woman.  Look at those vitamins! Many of them are also already gone, tossed in the past week. These few bottles were unopened. We only kept those that are an absolute necessity, such as Probiotics for intestinal health, B6 vitamins to prevent kidney stones (has been working for Tom after three surgeries back in the US), and a few for me.

If we discovered that we were short of cash at the post office and didn’t have enough shillings on-hand, we’d have to find another bank or drive back to the original ATM. Talk about stress-inducing! Hot weather, no AC in the taxi, sweat pouring down our necks!  (There are five minutes left on my battery!)

Of course, we weighed the boxes and looked online fruitlessly attempting to find out the postal rates from Kenya to anywhere (to get an idea), let alone to South Africa. No such luck. Nor was there a phone number to call for information. Nor was there a website for the Ukunda post office. Nada. (The generator just came on)! Yippee!

This was going nowhere. Angst was setting in. Then, by chance, I stumbled upon restrictions for sending packages to South Africa. It was the “no shoes” restriction that put me over the edge. To verify this I called the local DHL store (which incidentally is inside a pharmacy, owned by the pharmacist) to discover if this was true. 

The store manager confirmed that only one (1) shoe may be sent in any package to South Africa. One shoe? When would one shoe ever be appropriate? I couldn’t imagine a scenario unless, God forbid, one had only one foot. The list of restrictions continued from there.

Tom has always been prepared to unload as much as possible of his belongings to avoid paying any more outrageous excess baggage fees. We’d already paid over KES $173,500, US $2000 in fees between the Dubai and Venice airports, our only flights thus far.  

The nights of me wearing these dresses are over.  They are all in this pile.

I, on the other hand, wondered what I’d do if I eliminated all my “go out to dinner clothing, shoes, and accessories” some of which I’ve worn in every country we’ve lived in and on every night on the cruises. 

This decision came on Monday night. I tossed and turned all night. This was the final straw in me letting go, narrowing everything in the world, I personally owned down to the maximum that airlines allow to avoid excess baggage fees, a hard reality. Who are they to dictate what I can and can’t take around the world with me?  Anger welled up inside of me. 

Many of you may think, so what? It’s just clothing and shoes. But, as a woman that always delighted in dressing nicely, it had become part of who I am. 

We all, in our own way, are a package. And at some point in our young lives, we develop into the person we choose to become; our demeanor, our persona, our style (or lack of style, if one so chooses), our integrity, our honor, our values, our intellectual pursuits, our business acumen or skill set, and our relationships. For me, it was a package, all pieces included.

Tom understood my angst.  He knows me well accepting all the pieces. He hasn’t pressed the issue. Never. Not after spending the US $2000 for excess baggage. Not recently as we tried to figure out this dilemma. He knew I had to come to this decision on my own.  He was right.

Yesterday morning I gave him the news. I was ready to let go. He hauled out the four packed cardboard boxes from the second bedroom to the glass table in the outdoor living room and I began going through them, keeping only a few items, adding many more. The more I went through the process, the more detached I became, knowing full well this was the right thing to do.

This doesn’t look like much, but it weighs over 40 pounds (18 kg).  In addition, we’ve tossed another 10 pounds in old and worn items (4.5 kg).  On our last flight, our overage was 44 pounds (20 kg).

Tom jumped in with both feet, pulling out newer “casual dressy” clothing, placing them in the boxes along with my items. We’ve literally eliminated 40% of our combined clothing, more mine than Tom’s since he’d already cut back as we’ve traveled, to allow room for my things.

Of course, not all of our belongings consist of clothing and shoes. Perhaps 25% is supplies, electronics, required paper records, cosmetics, and toiletries (of which we have the minimum). We don’t even have a bottle of body lotion using only coconut oil in its place. No perfume. No bubble bath. No soaps. 

Friday, we’ll seal the “space bags,” weigh everything, including the suitcases. Based on the allowed weight for the upcoming airlines, we expect to be within the limits subsequently avoiding excess baggage fees.

Hesborn and Jeremiah will be given the boxes of discarded men’s items to share among themselves with the women’s clothing and shoes to be shared among their wives and sisters.

Nothing we have left in our possession will be appropriate to wear to dinner on our next upcoming cruise in nine months.  We have no doubt that we’ll figure it out as the time approaches.

Physically, it will be easier to haul the bags. Emotionally, we’ll spend no time worrying about the luggage.  Financially, we’ll save US $1000’s each year on excess baggage fees. 

The angst is gone. Acceptance has been found in its place and finally, after 13 months, we’re truly free. 

 

Writing comments…Please do…

 

To the right, is Hesborn’s quarters where he lives until Saturdays at noon, returning early on Monday mornings.He boards the local matatu, a rickety old van bus service in order to visit his family in Mombasa. The 2-hour drive and ferry ride to Mombasa is Kenya Shillings $400, US $4.58 round trip, often breaks down en route. Although Hesborn is gone, we continue to have security on-site around the clock, as is always the case, 7 days a week.  

When we began writing this blog in March 2012, our intent was to keep a diary of our travel experiences to share with our family members and friends.  At any time they could type in our web address: www.worldwidewaftage.com to see what we’re doing today.  Today’s post is #411. We’ve been gone for almost a year!

The locked and guarded gate to ours and Jeri and Hans’ house.

After a few weeks of posting about the process of a retired couple planning to travel the world for years to come and the endless preparations, we discovered much to our surprise, that readers were reading our posts from all over the world, now at almost 100,000 and growing rapidly.

As readership continued to grow worldwide, we added advertisers to offset the continuing costs of maintaining a website and registered Worldwide Waftage as a business, enabling us a few benefits from time to time.  Now, we’ve found we’re able to receive small discounts on occasion as “travel writers.” 

As you can see, we often write reviews for places we’ve stayed, visited, and restaurants.

It makes sense with the tremendous amount of vegetation around us, that mosquitoes are impossible. With intermittent rains, the mosquito population continually thrives.

Only a handful of readers has signed up to receive the automatic email as shown on the right side of the page. These are a few folks who’d prefer to get the most recent post in an email, rather than go to their bookmark each day. Many prefer not to receive an additional email which is entirely up to you. 

Since the most recent post doesn’t usually arrive by email until the day after posting, many prefer not to sign up to receive it. Creating a bookmark is easy, allowing the reader to look for it within a minute of my posting it. Tom and I have tested this and it’s almost instantaneous. Either way you prefer is fine with us.

These pods are fascinating.  They look like pea pods but no one seems to know if they’re edible.  To be safe, we won’t use them in a stir fry.

Never, at any time will we take away the personal nature of our postings. After all, it’s very personal to us, often sharing the most minute details of our daily lives, our thoughts, our difficulties, and our dreams for the future. 

Yesterday, our post held a special meaning for us. Two of our regular readers, both of whom have posted comments at the end of posts in the past, both posted comments yesterday. 

Each of their observations meant so much to us. If you’ll go back to the post from yesterday, September 27th, you can read their much-appreciated comments and our response at the end of the post: Click here please and scroll to the end of that post.

These were often seen in pots in the US.  Here they are almost the size of a tree.

We encourage you to comment.  If you agree or disagree with us, if you have suggestions for us, if you have warnings for us, or if you simply want to say “hi,” share a recipe, share a travel experience or for that matter, share any experience, we’d love to hear from you.

We publish and respond to every comment we receive except those of a pornographic nature, those that may offend others for any reason, or those that are promoting unrelated websites that serve no use to our readers.  This will never be a place where we’ll “hound” our readers to buy something. 

Away from our family and friends, which may prove to be for extended periods, we have few interactions each day except with one another, while living in many remote areas.  Our world is not only that which surrounds us each day, but is also, every one of YOU.

If you don’t travel or can’t think of anything to say, tell us about a new TV show or movie we should download, or the weather where you live, or if nothing else, tell us your mindless drivel as we tell you ours almost each and every day.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of our outing tonight.  See you soon!

Our power is out today…

If it comes back in time before we head out to dinner tonight, we’ll certainly post as planned. If not, we’ll be back tomorrow (hopefully).

This is the fifth time the power has gone out in the past few weeks, usually lasting three to five hours. We shall see what transpires today.

Hope to be back later today!

 

A day in the life…Laundry and language challenges…

I’d expected to see more hanging laundry this morning, hoping to take photos.  But, it was early morning.  This was the only hanging item I found on my walk. Perhaps others have similar slow working front-loading washers with the first batch of the day still agitating.

It’s rather odd not to have a clothes dryer. Neither of us has hung clothes on a clothesline since the 1950s. We haven’t had access to a clothes dryer since we left the US in January 2013. 

Our small clothes “dryer.”

Who knew in our comfy lives in the US that a dryer was a hot commodity? I guess we always took it for granted. Today’s dilemma? With this small portable clothes drying rack, where do we hang the big sheets? This morning I ran around looking out the windows to see if a normal clothesline existed on the grounds.

Are the vine wires a clothesline option in the garden? Nope, too high to reach.

The only possibility of a clothesline that I could see were the bare wires hung in an area of the garden for growing vines, none of which were covered yet. Could we use those? Tom, insisting that we investigate before we assume the wires were acceptable for our use, we headed down the hilly walk to the garden. 

Harder to reach “wires” in the yard, again unsuitable for hanging clothes.

Walking around the yard, closest to the house, there was no clothesline to be found. The cables were too high to reach, leaving us stuck with the tiny rack or any possible railings. Having intended to wash two more loads today, my plans are dashed. Certainly, whatever spot we discover, won’t leave room for hanging addition wet laundry.

Early morning venture to the garden.  Cloudy day.

As we wandered around the world so far, we’ve observed that most people hang their laundry over window ledges, veranda railings, and across any appendages that may offer a holding place with sun, a breeze, or both.

As we walked to the garden we noticed these live vines over a doorway to another “attached house.  Tom grumbled, “You’d never catch me walking through those vines each time I went outside!”  I thought they were cute.

As we strive to adapt, we find ourselves in a quandary at times as to acceptable solutions (does it fit the local etiquette?) as well as practical solutions (does it work for us?). 

I took this unfamiliar walkway wondering what was on the other end.

At times, the answer seemed obvious, but we also ask, “Is this acceptable to the owner of the property?” After all, we are “renters,” a state of being neither of us has experienced in over 40 years, constantly striving to be considerate and careful with other people’s property.

With the front-loading washer it took over two hours to wash one load. The manual to the washer, of course, is in Italian. Making every effort to translate it using Google Translate, there appeared to be no shorter setting that produced a strong spin. 

This entrance appeared well maintained.

Our first few loads came out sopping wet before we translated the manual and figured out a spinning cycle. Not wanting to start over, it took two days for the items to dry. 

A moment later, I was walking on another narrow passageway. It was like a maze. Of course, I was concerned, I didn’t get lost which appears possible. I have no sense of direction, never have.  Tom’s good for that!

When we made our plans over a year ago I had fully intended to learn Italian using an online course I downloaded.  Time slipped away and it often does and I know only the minimum. In two months, we’ll leave Italy.  In a short time, I’ll have forgotten my desire to learn Italian, facing yet another language to fuss over. 

The entrances to many homes are particularly appealing to the eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never staying in one location for more than three months, inspires me to let go of the angst over not learning a country’s language. Instead, we focus on doing the best we can to communicate while enjoying our time enmeshed in the culture and its people.

This was the view over the railing, tile rooftops, green valleys, clouds rolling in over the hills.

Soaping up a few paper towels I headed to the veranda washing the railing which wasn’t as dirty as I’d expected. It will be a good place to hang the sheets. It’s not sunny but it is breezy, accomplishing two of our laundry hanging criteria.  Oh good grief, there’s a plan for everything!

Looking down as I take each careful step hopefully prevents clumsy me from falling on the uneven stone walkways.  On the way back up, I have the momentum of the climb to aid in sure-footedness.

Taking a break from writing this today, I ventured out on my walk, snapping a few photos, greeting a few neighbors with a hearty “buon giorno,” hoping not to sound like a fool, puffing and panting, all the while. 

What a morning!  What a view!

Today, I traveled further than in the past and found several narrow roads I’d yet to explore, with a renewed enthusiasm to venture further and further each time as my ability to climb these hills improves.

Some property owners cordon off their lawns and patios for privacy.

 

Dog, “cane” on my return walk.  No leash laws in Tuscany.

After all, the road of exploration never ceases to amaze me and…never seems to end. Now, off we go to hang the sheets! See the photos below.

Impeding our view for the day, if we decide to sit outside in the cool weather we’ve had since Monday.  But, well worth using this railing for the hanging.  Clouds hovering above may put a “damper” on our sheet drying. 
Its a guy thing.  I suggested using the rain gutter.  Tom ran to get the hangers to avoid getting the sheets dirty.  Then, he moved the table and chairs to ensure the sheets didn’t touch the tabletop.

 

 

Today’s outing….Back tomorrow with photos…

Shortly, at 8:00 am, Umer is picking us up for our day’s outing to see the sights.

Still under the weather after two days on the Z-Pak antibiotics and with much disappointment, I won’t be able to go to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. With my ears popping when we used the elevator to go to breakfast, going down and then back up to the 47th floor of our condo, it took all day to unplug my head.  I can only imagine 124 floors causing even more distress.

The minor consolation is the fact that we won’t be paying the $100 fee for two to go to the top to the building’s observation tower. 

If we’d had more time here, we would have waited longer to go sightseeing. Although many of the symptoms of the illness have diminished, I’m left with an awful headache and still feeling weak. 

But, leaving here in five days to fly away, I have a daunting packing job ahead of me; dispose of more clothing so we can get rid of two duffel bags and down to our ideal goal of one large suitcase, one carry on bag, one laptop  bag each and my handbag.  This way we’ll comply with the 66 pound maximum per person. Tomorrow, after sharing our story and photos, this process will begin.

By the way, we got the bid back from the shuttle company, after we’d already rented a car from Venice, to take us the four hour drive to Tuscany.  Ironically, the distance and time was about the same when we arrived and left Belize. The bid: US $849, one way. When we used the private shuttle in Belize it was $150 each way. Guess we are in for some pricey experiences in Italy over the summer.  The rental car was $868 per month.

It’s now time to go meet Umer outside near the parking ramp. There’s no way he can maneuver his vehicle through the construction zone to pick us up at the front of the building. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with hopefully, much to tell.

Passage through the Suez Canal…A profound revelation…Tom speaks!

Early this morning we arrived in Safaga, south of the red star as indicated on this map. On Tuesday, we’ll be in Aqaba, southeast of the red star on this map.

It wasn’t merely an experience of real estate, of a narrow waterway, maintained through continuous dredging for over 144 years to provide access for ships from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.  For us, it was so much more. Beginning Sunday morning at 5:00 am, our eyes were transfixed on the long canal, brought to life so long ago. 

Our first early morning view of a town along the Suez Canal, all partially built apartments whereby renters must installs windows and door as floors from the bottom up are rented.

 

Haze is everywhere from both blowing sand and pollution.
Shortly after stepping out on the balcony at 5:00, we passed under the Friendship Bridge.

Standing on our balcony at precisely the correct moment, amid busily getting dressed for the day, we were enthralled when the massive Friendship Bridge passed over our heads, our camera clicking wildly to get a good shot, none nearly as good as this link.

Please check the link below for details on the relationship between Japan and Egypt in building this suspension bridge, vital to the management of the Suez Canal.

As we witnessed 7 plus hours of the 13 hour transit, whether on our balcony for a few hours or in our perfect placement by the windows in the Windjammer Café, we were reminded of the awe inspiring experience only four months ago of our passage through the Panama Canal. 

Tugboats accompany each ship as it makes its way through the canal as a precautionary measure in the event of an emergency.  Fifty ships per day transit through the canal.

 

There were 14 tugboats in our immediate area.

 

These ramps are used for unloading equipment.

 

These ramps continued to appear at various locations, although we didn’t see any in use.

 

Al-Firdan Bridge, the largest swing, double-cantilever bridge in the world.

We took this shot of the bridge as it opened for us while having breakfast in the Windjammer Café.

At this point, I can’t say which I enjoyed more. Tom emphatically states, he preferred seeing the Panama Canal, due in part to the better seminars leading up to it on the Celebrity Century and, in his own previous knowledge. 

We assumed this must be military housing along the Suez Canal.

 

It appears that with the immense population in Middle eastern countries, many live in apartment buildings as opposed to single family homes.  The cost of living is very high in Egypt.

 

Although these may appear as single family homes, upon closer inspection, we felt certain they were upscale multiple unit dwellings.

 

Mosques were abundant in all the villages we past along the passage through the canal.

 

Many areas appeared modern and well developed.

For me, I went into both of them with little knowledge or interest, with only the intent of embracing a whole “new world” in the discovery of their wonder and significance as many ships, over many years made the passage.

A ferry, taking off into the canal.

Yesterday, a new element entered the picture, the literally hundreds of soldiers staggered along the 110 miles of the canal, rifles and machine guns in hand, protecting the rights of passage on the canal, vigorously waving to us as we passed by. 

Slightly more than halfway through the canal, we encountered Great Bitter Lake, a salt water lake a part of the Suez Canal that leads to Small Bitter Lake.

 

This interesting building was under construction in the Great Bitter Lake area.

They whistled, (Tom whistled back), they cheered, they jumped up and down, mile after mile, expressing sheer joy in seeing a passenger ship as opposed to the hundreds of freighters passing through each year, cold, stark and unfriendly. Many of the passengers stood on our balconies cheering and waving, surprised by the continually enthusiastic reception, milepost after milepost.

The peninsulas in the Bitter Lakes area were intriguing with armed soldiers standing on the shore waving at us.

 

More soldiers and citizens waving as we sailed by.

As we traveled the streets of Alexandria and Cairo, we experienced the same warm reception from people on the streets, little children in front of rundown hollow houses, and teenagers sitting on a fence by the road as our air conditioned bus flashed by. We couldn’t resist waving back.

Cheerful, friendly teenagers, waving at our bus a few days ago.

Our perception of this part of the world; fraught with fear, prejudice and preconceived notions, perpetrated by the sensationalized 24/7 news, evaporates at the wave of a hand, a friendly smile and a welcoming cheer. 

From time to time, we’d see luxury homes along the shores.

No, this doesn’t make us careless about our safety. It was only two days ago that we wandered about in the area of the Pyramids feeling paranoid and overly cautious with Mohammad, our loyal Uzi armed security guard at our side most of the day. Even us, finding ourselves momentarily afraid of him.

A large mosque on a peninsula in Great Bitter Lake.

No, we won’t let our guard down, not for a moment. But we will, relish in the commonality of the human spirit, to embrace others, to find joy in a simple act of kindness or acceptance wherever we may be, if only in a wave, if only in a smile.

In the poorest of areas, well maintained mosques were easy to spot.

This, is why. This, is why we took this risk, this journey, leaving everything and everyone we knew and loved behind.  We have so much to learn, to understand, and to accept about the world around us, about ourselves and about others.

The barren shore along the Suez Canal.
And perhaps, in a way, we were meant to share a piece of it, however small, with all of our worldwide readers.

 

During our transit, two other cruise ships were making the transit, but most of the ships were well-packed freighters. Later in the afternoon, around 2:30, we stood on our balcony as we began the final exit of the Suez Canal, an experience we will always remember.

Tom’s take on the above.. “There is evil in the world.  But, overall, 99% of the world’s population are good and law abiding. For example;  anywhere in the world, you can be driving down a two-lane highway at 50 MPH with oncoming traffic and all that is separating life and death is a single dotted white line. That same 99% of the people abide by that line. We’re no more at risk traveling the world than we were on that two-lane highway.”

 

No cooking for over two months, beginning in 11 days…

 

The sun reflecting on the sea created the white line of the horizon.

Something startling dawned on me yesterday as I responded to a sweet email message from my new friend Nancy, who left Placencia, Belize a week ago today. Gosh, I miss her. I wrote that when we’re leaving Belize on April 9th, we won’t be cooking another meal until after June 16 when we arrive in Tuscany, Italy.  We’ll be cruising most of the time.

It was around 7:30 am.

What an odd reality, especially for me, the proverbial foodie, ambitious cook, and hostess. It’s hard to wrap my brain around it. 

Cooking has always represented love to me; creating and preparing great recipes, considering the nuances of a loved one’s dietary needs and interests all the while presenting a mouth-watering array of selections at each meal.

We’ll miss this view that we awaken to each morning.

At the end of each day, I’ve padded around the kitchen, banging cabinet doors, leaving the refrigerator door open too long, dropping morsels of food on the floor, and more in my hair, enjoying every moment of the preparation of the next meal.

I’ve never tired of the grocery shopping, putting the groceries away, chopping and dicing, mixing and stirring, standing over the hot pan or oven to eventually plate the delectable meal, proudly handing it over to Tom to partake.

Yesterday afternoon, around 5:00 pm, there was another wedding here. We didn’t want to intrude, taking this photo from our veranda which was much further away than it appears.   

He seldom comments about the food.  Our routine is that I ask if he liked his dinner when he puts down his fork. He looks at me and smiles, “It was OK.”

If the sound of the “OK” is uplifting and cheerful, he liked it.  If the sound of the “OK” is a monotone, not so much.  I won’t make that dish for him again. Ah, the language of love. He never needs to criticize. He knows it may hurt my feelings. That, he wouldn’t do.

Yesterday, we hitched a ride to Placencia village for our final grocery shopping trip, taking a cab back when we were done.  I’d made a list, as usual, on the grocery app on my smartphone, reviewing it frequently as we hustle through the store. 

This view as well…

With the Easter holiday upon us, the shelves were well stocked.  There wasn’t an item I couldn’t find including fresh ricotta cheese for a new low carb zucchini recipe I’m making for Easter. I’ll post the menu tomorrow, the recipe after we tried it, to ensure it’s worth posting. You never know. Tom won’t eat zucchini, but perhaps our Easter dinner company (there will be four of us) will like it. I’ll test it on our guests.

After spending our usual $160 at the grocery store, plus another $15 at the vegetable stand and $15 for the cab, we found ourselves well stocked. With plans to dine out twice with new friends, tomorrow night and again next Tuesday, we’ll be left with nine more dinners to prepare. 

Then, I don’t cook again until June 17th, the day after we arrive in Tuscany, Italy, shopping within the first 24 hours of arrival. 

With the upcoming 13 days living in Dubai beginning May 21st, we may not cook.  Instead, we may choose to dine out in order to experience the vast array of extraordinary international cuisine within walking distance from our vacation property. 

It won’t be worth the expense of purchasing spices and other cooking supplies while in Dubai, the only “short stay” of under two months in our upcoming travels. Himalayan Salt, pure, unprocessed, chemical-free salt from the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, is the only seasoning that we pack in our bags, the only salt we use when cooking.

Letting go.  Letting go of people.  Letting go of “things.”  Letting go of that which we know and love is a part of our journey. It’s not all “vacation-like.”  It’s not all romance, sunrises, sunsets and smiling photos.  We miss our children and grandchildren, more than they will ever know. Do we even have a right to say we miss them?  We’re the ones that left. 

All the quotes espousing “living the dream,” all the life-enhancing seminars attended in one’s career, all the wish-fulfillment sayings one ponders in their lives have come to fruition for both of us.  So, we won’t cook. 

 

Six days to departure…more details…a little angst…

After a fitful night with my painful shoulder, I awoke with a sense of uncertainty. The departure date is looming.  Why am I feeling this way?  It should be a joyful time full of wonder and excitement and yet this morning I found Tom in the living room long before I ambled out of bed, not well rested at 7:30 am, quietly perusing his online newspaper. He, too, seems a little out of sorts.

This will pass.  When we’re standing on the deck of the ship waving goodbye to loving family members who insisted they are coming to see us off at the pier to hug and then wave a genuine “Bon Voyage,” we’ll feel better, I’m sure.  This is to be expected. 

After all, we are leaving everyone we know and love behind to selfishly go on the adventure of our lives, leaving us with a legacy of stories to tell our grandchildren while hopefully seeing them along the way, adding to their own life experiences. My emotions grasp at this morsel of wisdom filling my soul with hope and anticipation.

While on the return five-hour drive back to Scottsdale on Thursday, leaving the Henderson house spotless and in tip-top condition, we made a new ‘to-do” list of items we need to address in the few remaining days until we head for San Diego where on January 3, we’ll board the first cruise ship for our many year’s long adventures.

Having decided we wouldn’t do any further cooking with only four days to go we made our way to one of our favorite breakfast, restaurants, US EGG after I worked out at the local LA Fitness where I joined as a temporary member for the two months here. Lately, we’ve been eating one big healthy meal early in the day with a lighter meal in the evening.

Tom devoured his scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage while I feasted on their fluffy three egg, chicken, bacon, avocado, and cheese omelet. After several cups of coffee, we headed out to begin knocking off our long list of ‘to do’s”.

Our first task was yet another trip to our bank, one of many in preparing for our world travels.  We had opened two new “travel accounts” not linked to our regular accounts that our bank had suggested provides additional security.  Keeping lesser amounts in the travel accounts to use as needed, we keep our basic funds, secure in separate accounts. 

Then off to the tailor shop to pick up Tom’s three pairs of pants for the cruise, that were swimming on him after his recent weight loss. 

The day zoomed by as we made one stop after another, reveling in the satisfying feeling of getting the mundane tasks completed, including shopping for last-minute toiletries, a trip to the post office, a short visit to Costco. 

Back at the condo, Tom busily worked on insurance paperwork while I became preoccupied with sorting and consolidating our lofty two year supply of vitamins and supplements, all the while wondering how they’d all fit into our luggage. 

Today is the day to begin the repacking of all the clothing, shoes, swimwear, cruisewear including dressy clothes, formal nights, Africa clothing, boots, hats, special gear, gadgets, electronics, and every other item we’ve mentioned in this blog over the past 10 months as necessary for us homeless travelers. 

Our handy little suction vacuum in tow, the process will begin shortly.  The goal is to complete the packing today with our plans to leave Scottsdale on Tuesday, driving to San Diego for our final two days staying with family not far from the pier.  Tomorrow, Tom will find a sports bar so he can watch the Minnesota Vikings game, and later we’ll head to Apache Junction for Tom’s sister Colleen’s birthday party.

Once we close our bags in the next few days they won’t be opened again until we are aboard the Celebrity Century for our 15-day cruise through the Panama Canal.  We’ll keep aside two days of clothing to wear in San Diego in addition to that which we’ll wear on boarding day. 

Oh, it’s getting close, so close. It’s hard for us to believe after all the planning.  There’s still much to do before the 3rd.  We’ve made it this far. We’ll muddle our way through the rest. Stay tuned. More will follow.