Piecing it all together...Four days and counting...

Boat anchored on the Huon River with hazy mountain backdrop.
We've begun to think about packing, particularly me.  Yesterday, for the first time in many moons, I ironed two of my shirts and one of Tom's.  Why did we ever buy anything requiring ironing? At the time of purchase, we thought they were "wash and wear" based on the washing instructions.

I'm getting low on clothing with many items having worn out so I've resorted to ironing my two items to add to my limited wardrobe for the upcoming cruise in four days.

Vineyard in Tasmania.
Tom is down to six shirts, plus the one white dress shirt I ironed yesterday,  suitable to wear to dinner in the ship's main dining room.  During the day he wears tee shirts.  His wardrobe is also shrinking along with mine.

In three months we'll be back in the US with a plan to purchase a few new clothing items to replace those we're ready to toss. There are no clothing stores in Huonville other than two second hand shops and it makes no sense to replace our old clothing with someone else's old clothing.

Over this past six weeks, I haven't felt well enough to go shopping in Hobart which has a few malls and many shops.  For me its been tricky buying clothing in Australia when sizing is entirely different, pants are too short and styles suitable for travel aren't necessarily available. 

Typical country road.
We prefer solid colors since they may be worn with any of our pants, dressy or casual.  In most of the stores here, shirts are more colorfully patterned or flowery which has never been quite my style. Nor does Tom care to wear brightly colored or patterned shirts.

I've begun packing a little earlier than usual with this illness and during the heavy antibiotic dosing period which has made me feel a bit lethargic.  A little packing each day seems to make more sense right now.

Haze and humidity in the hills of the Huon Valley.
I've had some improvement (day four of seven on the medication) but I'm definitely not 100%.  Much to our enthusiasm, yesterday I was able to eat a normal sized portion of our entree and a small salad which I hadn't been able to do since early December.  So maybe it is improving.

Tom never packs until the day before we depart when its become necessary to weigh our luggage to ensure we don't exceed the 23 kg (51lbs) the airlines allows on the first checked bag (each) with a premium paid for our third bag containing necessary supplies. 

We're flying to Sydney on Virgin Australia which only charges AU $35, US $26.85 for the third bag, an amount we're thrilled to pay as opposed to considerably more on other airlines.

Wild vegetation growing along the river bank.
Tonight, we'll watch the final episode of season 6, Game of Thrones, having loved every single episode.  Its been a nice respite from thinking about my condition when each evening we've watched a few episodes.  Now, we can cancel our month-to-month HBO subscription (ending on the 26th) and will re-join to watch season 7 once we get to Costa Rica next August.

While in the US, with six weeks spent in Minnesota and three weeks in Henderson, Nevada, we won't have time or interest in watching any shows or movies, other than perhaps a movie or two with the grandchildren in MN.

Single lane bridge in the countryside.
Its hard to believe we'll arrive in the US mainland on May 15th, less than three months from now.  Two days later on May 17th we'll board the Alaskan cruise which ends on May 26th in Seattle.  From there we'll fly to Minneapolis.  We'll be arriving in MN on Friday evening of Memorial weekend, a busy travel period.

Once I upload this post, Tom will do the proof reading while I get ready to go out.  This will be the first time we've been out since Monday, very unusual for us.  We're heading to Huonville for a few grocery items and a new batch of probiotics to avoid running out on the cruise. 

Pasture on a sunny day.
But for now, we're anticipating the  less than two hour flight from Hobart to Syndey in a mere four days.  My prepping and packing will continue at a snail's pace over the next few days which this time, I don't mind a bit.

Have a lovely weekend, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2016:
This "piece of art" in New Plymouth is playfully typical of Kiwi's great sense of humor.  For more interesting New Plymouth, New Zealand photos, please click here.

Interesting and appreciated comment from a reader...Worries of risks when traveling...

Hillside scenery.
Over these past several years we've received many wonderful comments on a variety of our past posts.  Some readers may read our posts out of chronological order or start from the beginning on March 15, 2012 when we first began to write about our lives of world travel.

Now, 1674 daily posts later, we're often amazed by how readers from all over the world continue to read our old posts, often commenting on any given post or in sending us a thoughtful email.

Many of our readers write into the easy-to-use "comments" section at the bottom of each post, and may if chosen may stay anonymous.  However, we find many readers don't hesitate to leave a first name (and occasionally their full name) when they post a comment.

If you've never commented, please feel free to do so.  We always reply within 24 hours (at the latest) and your comment remains on that post for all of our readers to see for years to come.

Caravans parking in Franklin for Australia Day festivities which we attended last month.
For many, with more personal comments in mind, they prefer to email us at the links provided on our home page, on the right, above the photo of us in Petra,  Jordan.  Clicking either of these links takes you directly to the email app on your device and you can write as you would in writing any email message. We won't post your email message without your specific approval.

Most often your email will reach us promptly providing we have a good Internet connection.  We check our email throughout each day but a response may be delayed if it arrives while we're sleeping.

Before posting each day, I take a peek at my email but seldom respond until after I've completed the day's post.  I awake on a mission to get the "ball rolling" as soon as I'm showered and dressed for the day.

During these past almost three months since our arrival in Penguin, Tasmania on December 3, 2016, I've maintained my usual posting schedule regardless of how I may have been feeling during this period. 
Houses scattered throughout the countryside in the Huon Valley.
Of course, as mentioned in a post a few days ago, the exception to our posting and/or replying to comments and email may occur on specific travel days, especially when we don't have access to Wi-Fi while awaiting a particular means of transportation.

Yesterday, we received this lovely comment from one of our readers who's apparently begun reading our posts from the beginning. 

Laura wrote:

"Ah Jess....I know I am reading them years after the fact, but your posts and photos are breath-taking!! I love them! I've been trying for years to convince Ernie to agree to an African safari - he's too concerned with our safety to try it, but I'm still working on him!!"

Upon reading this short comment at the end of this post, I could hardly wait to write back to Laura to thank her for her kindness in complimenting our posts and photos. 
But, the comment Laura expressed over her husband's hesitation to go on an African safari reminded us of five years ago when Tom was equally concerned over the safety of a safari and even moreso, living in Africa for almost nine months.
Our family was even more worried that we were getting in over our heads when they'd read and heard of countless stories about horrific events occuring in many parts of Africa, some as a result of animal encounters and other incidents. But, they were more concerned as to our vulnerability of becoming victims of crime.

A neighborhood in the Huon Valley.

We've never taken these facts lightly but, as has been the case for most travelers there are always precautions and concerns over traveling beyond the comfort zone of their home environment. 

Nowadays, there is no place in the world that is entirely safe;  from the elements, terrorism, crime, accidents, illness and wildlife.  Back then, before we began traveling we'd discussed these concerns in depth. 
Mainly, I was trying to assure Tom that although the risks were higher in some parts of the world, such as Africa and the Middle East, we'd exercise the utmost of caution. For example, in Kenya, where carjackings are common, we used a local driver to take us wherever we desired thus reducing the risks.

Kayaker on Huon River near a moored sailboat.

As we look back at our old posts, we can't help but experience the most profound of emotions over the fact that we took those risks to see parts of the world previously only in our dreams.
When a year from now when we'll return to South Africa (with more other African countries on the horizon during our extended stay), our hearts thump with enthusiasm.
This will be the first time we've returned to a country for an extended stay hiatus in order to explore Southeast Asia.  As it turned out, we really enjoyed the second two months in Bali at the fabulous villa on the ocean.

Franks, a small cider restaurant and shop.

We had returned to Bali due to its close proximity and easy flights to Sydney, Australia from where we'd booked several cruises. Our return to Africa next February is for an entirely different reason...we wanted to return while we're still able, young enough and hopefully healthy enough to embrace the many exciting opportunities awaiting us. 
So, today, I thank Laura for writing and inspiring today's post which included to our own past concerns which ultimately ending with the gift of great memories that we gleaned from the extraordinary experiences.

Have a memorable day and be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2016:
Tom standing outside the shopping mall in New Plymouth, New Zealand last year.  For more photos, please click here.

Six days and counting...Posting during departure periods...Delicious low carb smoothie recipe...

Throughout Tasmania and Australian states, there are many wood carvings
in honor of Australians throughout history.
Today, its Thursday in this part of the world.  Early next Wednesday morning, we'll depart for the airport in Hobart, an approximate 45 minute drive depending on the morning traffic.

This is one of two plaques posted on the above memorial wood carving.
We'll be flying domestically from Hobart to Sydney which requires less advance arrival time at the airport than for international flights.  Tom always feels more comfortable leaving early to ensure we arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Recognition for the soldier of the Boer War.
As far as I'm concerned an arrival one hour prior to the flight is plenty of time to check our bags, get our boarding passes and head to the appropriate gate.  Invariably, we end up sitting in chairs for two hours prior to the flight.

Over the past almost 26 years, our goal is to compromise when we disagree. If one of us compromises to put the other at ease, the other doesn't argue or complain.  Ultimately, ensuring each of us is comfortable is of our utmost concern.

In the town of Franklin we walked along the riverbank enjoying the beautiful scenery.
We can sit at the airport as easily as at our home-of-the-moment while awaiting the upcoming flight.  Many airports offer free Wi-Fi and relatively comfortable seating in a variety of cafe's where we can order a bottled water and entertain ourselves online while waiting.

At times, when departing on an early morning flight, I'll post a short message that the day's post my be a little late which I'll upload from the airport while we wait.  On some occasions, I'll prepare and upload the day's post once we get settled upon boarding a cruise.

There are houses across a narrow road along the Huon River in Franklin, many of which have lovely flower gardens.
At other times, I'll prepare the post the prior day, along with that day's post as well. Preparing two posts in one day is time consuming when its completed in addition to wrapping up the packing.  Also, we always include our total expenses separately for each location.  These figures must be prepared well in advance since this process is also time consuming.

I continue to strive to take care of myself as I make my way through the one week antibiotic regime prescribed by the local doctor. Although the drug's side effects are preventing me from feeling up to going out or doing anything of significance, I'm making every effort to get well.

When we left the house, the sun was shining but by the time we reached Franklin, it was cloudy again.
Its a combination of rest with some mobility, avoiding spending time lying down or in bed and eating healthfully while making an attempt each day to consume sufficient nutrients.  I've continued to prepare most of our meals during this period of time, more with the intent of moving about, although Tom happily helps when I ask. 

During this illness I've been using a free app to calculate the day's nutritional components.  Here's the link to the free app. (Make sure to download the free edition which is easy to determine).

I've been feeling very hungry lately eating such small amounts.  But, over these past months I've only been able to eat small amounts in any six hour period.  Today, the beginning of day three on meds, I'll try adding a small salad to my midday meal. 

Flowers in a tree with the cloud sky backdrop.
We've been eating our main meal around 1 pm, giving me ample time to eventually digest the meal.  I concocted a healthy and delicious low carb smoothie that's easily digestible for both mornings and evenings, preventing me from having to eat again to deal with the consequence.

If any of our readers have digestive problems, a smoothie may be a good adjunct to light meals while recovering.  Here's my smoothie recipe that seems to abate my hunger for a few hours:

Jess's Low Carb Digestive Smoothie

1 ½  cups water or  unsweetened coconut milk or water
2 scoops unsweetened vanilla low carb protein powder (or appropriate servings size based listed serving size)

½ cup unsweetened, unflavored organic Greek yogurt
1 T. organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. organic ground flax seed (Don't use if diarrhea is an issue.  This natural product may be helpful for constipation and is non-habit forming)
½ tsp. powdered unsweetened Vitamin C with sodium ascorbic (See here for benefits of Vitamin C)
½ tsp. organic powdered cinnamon
Low carb sweetener to taste (a must in some form that works for you)

Blend all of these ingredients into a blender until lump free.  Pour over a large glass of ice and serve. This makes more than one serving but it tastes so good, I usually add the balance to my mug.  If you have a powerful blender, add ice to the blender after thoroughly blending ingredients.  Urgent: Please check with your doctor should any of these ingredients be an issue for you.

Many varieties of roses are found in Tasmania with suitable climate.

With six days remaining until we depart, I continue with optimism and enthusiasm for what is yet to come over these next months.

Happy day!
Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2016:
The unique architecturally interesting Te Kewa Kewa Bridge in New Plymouth, New Zealand was quite a sight to see.  For more photos, please click here.

We figured out how I became ill...See our many photos below in the second half of this post...

Views across the Huon River.
There's no doubt we're running low on photos.  Having been increasing ill over these three months, I wasn't feeling well enough to go sightseeing once we arrived in the Huon Valley, five weeks ago.  I've barely been well enough to do much of anything. 

Tom's makes the bed, does the laundry, washes the dishes and helps make dinner.  The cleaner comes once a week leaving us with not much more than tidying up after ourselves. 

I had mentioned that I wouldn't continue to discuss this health issue.  This was prior to having a diagnosis anticipating that our readers would tire of my whinging.  But, now that I have the diagnosis of Helicobactor Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers and gastritis, we both felt it was important to share this information for other travelers. 

These conditions may become prevalent for travelers to certain countries and after eating certain foods.  After all, to the best of my knowledge, I may only have exacerbated this condition while living in Bali for four months. 

These comments are by no means intended to criticize or berate the two lovely cooks, the property or the digligence of the owners or managers.  They were very conscientious to ensure our visit was safe and sanitary. 
Rolling hills in the Huon Valley which apprently were bright green in the spring, before we arrived.
However, certain climates with ultra high humidity and rampant insects and ants may be a breeding ground for illness.  Also, one never knows the handling conditions when purchasing produce, fish, meat, chicken and eggs from vendors in farmer's markets which we've done regularly.

We often hear of infectious disease as a result of bagged lettuce and other produce purchased in the US and other highly developed countries in traditional chain supermarkets where one may easily assume everything is safe to consume, only to discover it is not, in some circumstances. 

When looking back and discussing where we've been these past few years and when in fact this illness may have started we reviewed many of our past posts.  Most of us carry the H. Pylori bacteria which may be activated over a long period of time, often exacerbated by certain conditions.
Sailboat on the Huon River on a cloudy day.
When we received the disgnosis a few days ago, we both racked our brains trying to recall when, in fact, some of these symptoms began.  Without a doubt, the symptoms started with an outrageous and uncomfortable sense of fullness after eating a normal sized meal, once we arrived in New Zealand where we lived for three months on an alpaca farm.

Most of our meals consist of medium sized portions of protein, one or two cooked vegetables and a salad.  Eating none of this foods should or previously caused any intestinal distress. 

Previously while in Fiji, where we spent three months living on the island of Vanua Levu we literally cooked every meal.  During this period we didn't consume a single portion of seafood when we'd discovered all local fish was caught close to the shore.  See this photo below and our post from December 29, 2015 for our mention and fears of eating fish in Fiji.

Photo and caption from December 29, 2015:  "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 (in Fiji).  I'm looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand."  Eventually, I did eat the fish.  See text below for details.
At the end of the three months we left Vanua Levu to fly to Viti Levu where we stayed for one additional month.  This was during the busy holiday season that we dined out a few times, once on Tom's birthday on December 23rd and again on Christmas Day.  On each of these occasions I ate shell fish and/or squid both of which meals were consumed in a five star hotel. 

Here's my dinner on the night of Tom's birthday in this photo below with more seafood.  Here's the link to that meal:
My fresh plate of food on Tom's birthday on December 23, 2015.
But, here's the one that tops it all from Christmas brunch December 25, 2015:
This is what I ate for Christmas brunch at the five star hotel in Vanua Levu, Fiji; baby octopus all of which are caught close to the shore.  Please see this link for these facts.  Those heads were a bit tricky to chew.  I ended up eating four of them, less one head, never giving it a thought since we were dining in an upscale environment.
Once we left Fiji on January 4, 2016, we cruised from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand where we lived on the alpaca farm for three months. It was during this period the bloating symptoms began, most likely the onset of full blown H. Pylori.

On January 11, 2016, I posted this story with a seafood photo on a cruise, here again exacerbating my condition by eating bottom feeding, caught-close-to-the-shore seafood.
This is the entrée I ordered for four evening meals in a row on the cruise to new Zealand, seafood on a bed of cooked cabbage and vegetables.  Here again, more high risk seafood.
How many times did I mention the risks of eating seafood caught close to the shore which is often infected with a wide variety of bacteria, including Helicobactor Pylori?  More times than we can count. 

Any yet, foolishly, I continued to eat squid and bottom feeding fish which seems to be the biggest culprit in causing my illness as shown in these photos. At the time, I made the assumption that dining in upscale restaurants and aboard cruises would eliminate these risks.  How wrong I was!

Today, as I experience some side effects of the massive doses of two different antibiotics, one of which includes 2 grams  (2000 mg) of Amoxicillin per day, twice the recommended dose for strep throat or penumonia.   The other antibiotic is Clarithromycin at 1 gram (1000 mg) per day.  The third drug is a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) always taken in combination with these two antibiotics is intended to reduce the acidity of the intestinal tract during the treatment and for two months thereafter (by continuing the PPI).

The course of treatment ends next Monday at 7 pm.  Thirty six hours later we'll board the cruise in Sydney.  I can only hope I've learned something here:  that the cosumption of squid and other close-to-the-shore and bottom feeding fish will now be forbidden in my diet, eliminating one more of the foods I've enjoyed over the years. 

We're grateful for our almost 1700 daily posts.  Through researching our photos, we were able to piece together why, when and how I developed this bacterial infection.

However, no food(s) is ever worth a serious health condition of any type.  We hope this post may have provided some insight into what may be recommended to eliminate from one's diet while traveling.  One can never be too cautious, a lesson I've learned the hard way.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 22, 2016:

These foals in NZ were hard to get close for more detailed photos when they're very shy  If you click on this link, it will take you to last year's post where, if you scroll to the bottom on the page, you'll see a hysterical horse photo we'd taken in Hawaii.

Best birthday gift ever!...I got a diagnosis and hopefully good solution!...Happy day...

Tasmanians seem to place a variety of means of transportation atop buildings as shown in several of our past photos.
Yesterday morning, while working on the post, I stopped for a moment to check my email.  Since it was my birthday, it was fun to see how many email messages I received from family and friends along with a variety of adorable online cards.

When I noticed a message from the doctors office I visited in Geeveston as recommended by Anne, I was shocked to see another blood test result had come in indicating it was positive.  I was instructed to return to the office of Dr. Angela Retchford for a new prescription.

Yesterday, while at the pharmacy in Geeveston we noticed this antique wagon atop the bakery/restaurant.
Honesty, I was thrilled.  Who's ever thrilled to get a positive test result?  I was.  After almost three months of suffering with an awful gastrointestinal issue which didn't improve regardless of what I ate or what remedies I tried, I was excited to have a diagnosis.

Maybe now with the new medication I could improve.  Last Tuesday the doctor had prescribed a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) which I was to take for 60 days, stop, and if not improved head to a gastroenterologist in Sydney. 

It was raining with the sun shining.  In South Africa, Okee Dokee taught us the Afrikaans expression, "Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou." In Afrikaans, this phenomenon, i.e. when it rains and the sun shines is referred to as Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou, meaning 'Jackal marries wolf's wife."
With our plans to leave Sydney for the US on April 22nd, the 60 days will end about one week before we were scheduled to sail away leaving little time for more tests and doctor appointments.

When the prior blood tests came in only two days after blood was drawn, with only one anomoly I'll deal with later in the US when I have the test repeated, I assumed we were done until the doctor explained at my second visit that one test was outstanding.  After nearly a week had passed and I hadn't heard a word, I assumed all was well. 

Both the doctor and receptionist explained that "negative" results on a test wouldn't require communication with us, saving them time and money when avoiding contacting patients when all was well with tests.  Of course, with no local phone number, I asked for all communication to be accomplished via email.

The Pie Shoppe in Geeveston.  We avoided it.

As soon as I uploaded the post, Tom and I jumped in the rental car and headed directly to the doctor's office, Geeveston Medical Centre found at this link, to discover the blood test resulted in a "positive" diagnoses of Helicobactor Pylori, aka, H. Pylori is a gastrointestinal bacterial infection as follows from this site:

"What Is H. pylori

H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) are spiral shaped bacteria. H. pylori bacteria are unique because they produce the enzyme urease that allows the bacteria to live in the harsh environment of the stomach. The urease enzyme it produces reacts with urea to form ammonia that neutralizes enough of the stomach's acid to allow the organisms to survive in the tissues."

This is one of the possible conditions I'd researched online.  In speaking with Tom over and over again trying to figure out when in fact the symptoms may have begun, we realized it was in Bali when I'd complained of bloating which prompted me to stop drinking coffee, iced tea and hot tea.  Why was I getting bloated from drinking liquids?

In thinking back to our total four months in Bali, I'm now certain the symptoms began there.  Not in control over the most sanitary of conditions under which I prepare meals, and with ants crawling all over the kitchen counters and dishware, I could easily have picked up the condition while there. 

"The Bears Went Over the Mountain" is a Geeveston boutique hotel with a cafe and tapas bar.  Click here for details

I was often in the kitchen wiping up when the girls weren't there preparing meals, tossing out dirty looking sponges and rags, and often concerned when food was left out longer than safe.  During that period in Bali, I contracted an awful bacterial infection from eating squid.

Also, during this period I was taking Aleve daily for the back injury, only exacerbating a potential breeding ground for H. Pylori.  It was the right combination of circumstances to make me vulnerable for the full blown infection which was later exacerbated by drinking the wine on the ship.

After we left Bali the first time, after a two month stay, we headed to Vietnam and Cambodia for the Mekong River cruise including multiple hotel stays.  We never ate anything off the street but could easily have made the situation worse eating in a variety of restaurants/hotels along the way.  The bloating continued to worsen.

View of a farm on the Huon River.
I'd always joked that I had such a tough stomach that I could digest my shoe if I ate it.  No longer is that the case.  Traveling the world makes us all the more vulnerable to a wide variety of conditions and infections.  Also, over the past few years I contracted other infections requiring a few rounds of antibiotics.
By the time we got on the ship for the 33 night cruise, the infection must have been full blown when I suffered with worsening bloating and the associated discomfort day after day, never connecting it with anything I was doing other than perhaps drinking too much liquid. 

I'd never had this problem in the past.  Was it an "old age" thing I just didn't want to face?  I'd noticed a lot of people my age with a distended abdomen, both women and men. 

Even driving along the roads in Tasmania is scenic.
I'd never discussed this with a doctor or even a friend.  Wouldn't my "grain free" lifestyle prevent me from a "Wheat Belly" when most of my life I've had a relatively flat stomach.

Now I know.  What a relief!  H. Pylori, a bacteria most of us carry harmlessly in our intestinal tract was "brought to life" due to these myriad circumstances.  Now with a prescription pack to treat the condition which included two antibiotics and a smaller dose than I was taking of a PPI to be administered once every 12 hours. 

This morning I took the first dose as recommended by the pharmacist (since I'd already taken the PPI early yesterday morning).  One day prior to our leaving for Sydney, I will have completed the one week dosing.  In four weeks, its suggested I have another test to ensure the infection is gone.  We'll do this in Sydney during the 40 nights we'll spend in Manly.

River views through the trees on a sunny day.
Need I say, this was indeed a divine birthday gift.  Not knowing what was making it nearly impossible to eat without awful discomfort for the next five or six hours, I'd begun losing weight when finally I succumbed and started eating tiny meals, leaving me hungry all the time. 

It was a good birthday.  I've returned to my "old" (now older) cheerful self.  Now, I must be patient and give the medication time to work continuing to eat very small portions to avoid the discomfort in the interim.

So there it is folks, hopefully the culmination of my continuing health problems beginning this past June, almost eight months ago.  We hope this resolves the problem and I can become more active while embracing the many exciting adventures yet to come. 

Thank you for all the kind and thoughtful wishes for good health and my birthday.  You, our dear readers, be well, too!

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2016:

The cook at the Orangery in New Plymouth, NZ fired up Tom's Steak Diane Flambé using Pernot and white wine while I took this shot during my birthday dinner one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.