Visa documents finally submitted…Hotels booked…Carjackings…

Female bushbucks are so shy.

Note: Late posting due to power and WiFi outage.

In only 27 days, we’ll be leaving Marloth Park to make our way to Nelspruit where we’ll stay overnight for our early morning flight to Johannesburg from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport. Based on the fact our flight is so early, we preferred not to be on the N4 highway in the dark.

Many carjackings occur on highways in South Africa at night (less so during the day) prevents us from ever driving to Nelspruit in the dark. As a matter of fact, there has been a 537% increase in carjackings in Minneapolis, Minnesota (our former home state) as seen in this news article.

Tiny and a friend, getting along well while sharing pellets.

This is alarming in the US and even more alarming in South Africa as described in this article. In this province of Gauteng,where Johannesburg is located, there were 9025 carjackings in 2020. This is sufficient to make road trips of any type during the night, considerably more dangerous.

As a result, whenever we have an early morning flight out of the small Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, we prefer to stay overnight in a nearby hotel. Also, when leaving Little Governors Camp in the Maasai Mara on April 13th, we’ll fly out from the Maasai Mara in a small plane landing at Wilson Airport, not too far from the major airport in Johannesburg where we’ll fly out on the next available flight back to Nelspruit the following day. This requires another hotel stay.

Tiny loves to nap in the garden.

Having accumulated so many “free nights” using Hotels.com on our site for those 10 months in Mumbai, India, we were able to use three of those many accumulated “free” nights for the three one-night hotel stays. The dollar value of the free night is based on the price we paid for each of those nights.

At many points during those 10 months, we paid less than US $100, ZAR 1496, per night, requiring us to pay the difference when using our free nights, for hotels priced above that amount. Thus, between the three hotels on all ends of the stay in Little Governors Camp, we had to pay an additional almost US $180.

Ms. Hornbill abandoned her nest in the bushbaby house, but returns often. We wonder where her new nest is located.

Why three hotels for a six-night departure from Marloth Park?

  1. April 8, 2021 – Nelspruit, South Africa overnight awaiting the early morning flight
  2. April 9, 2021 – Nairobi, Kenya overnight awaiting the net morning’s early morning flight from Wilson Airport, a short distance from Jomo Kenyatta International in  Nairobi
  3. April 10, 2021, to April 13, 2021 – Little Governors Camp (3 nights)
  4. April 13, 2021 – One overnight in Nairobi before the early morning flight back to Nelspruit followed by the return drive to Marloth Park upon arrival.

As much as we tried to reduce the number of required overnight stays, in order to avoid driving in the dark, this was our only option. Others may have been able to eliminate some of this “monkey business.” But also, delays due to Covid-19 could result in delays or cancellations of flights. This way we protect ourselves in more than one way, reducing potential travel stress.

Cute bushbuck walks daintily.

No, we don’t like all the additional exposure at three airports (both coming and returning) and three hotels and one camp stay. But, we had to carefully weigh our options and make choices that work for us. As you can see, booking all of this is time-consuming and at times, frustrating.

As of yesterday morning, we hadn’t booked any of the hotels. When we began the e-visa process with yet another company, after the company in Washington, DC, required the e-visa to be snail-mailed which didn’t work for us, through considerable research, Tom found yet another company we could use, that is reputable that will email our e-visa within the next five days.

Tiny and a friend.

While again, while filling out the application, and submitting our documents, their system stated our dates didn’t match up from the dates at Little Governors Camp with our entry and exit dates. This prompted us to realize we’d better get to work booking the two hotels in Nairobi so the dates would match up.

Finally, after hours in the bedroom with the fan on, (load shedding occurred during this period while we used the inverter to run the fan), sweating like pigs in the heat and humidity, our documents were accepted from IVisa and our five-day wait began.

Whew! That was challenging. Now, all we have left to do which we’ll take care of over the weekend is booking a rental car for three more months which we’ll pick-up upon our return to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga on April 14, 2021, for our return drive to Marloth Park.

Little, attempting to get on the veranda. He’s so bossy!

Then, perhaps, we can relax for another 90 days in South Africa until July when the visas will expire once more. Next time, we’re hoping to apply for an extension which will take us to October, at which point we’ll have to leave South Africa for an upcoming cruise (which may or may not happen) in November. That is up in the air, as is so much due to Covid-19 and immigration laws.

Tonight, our friend Alan and his adult niece Kristen will be joining us for sundowners and appetizers. Thank goodness, it’s a little cooler today, although not cool enough for my liking with the high humidity. But soon, we’ll begin to head toward winter and eventual cooler temps.

May you have a pleasant and healthy day! Oh, oh, load shedding just started again! No power for the next 2½ hours. Oh, well.

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

Lakshmi was so sweet and welcoming. I patted her thick trunk and looked deep into her eye. More here: “This Ganesh Chaturthi, you can visit the extraordinary Manakula Vinayagar Temple situated approximately 400 metres away from the Bay of Bengal in White Town, Pondicherry. Read on to know why devotees, photo fanatics and experience seekers flock to this special temple of Lord Ganesha.” For more, please click here.

We made the right decision…Documents to handle…Difficult to send on slow WiFi…Three days and counting…

This pretty barnacle covered coconut, washed ashore.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

We found that beautiful shell on the beach.

We certainly made the right decision when we left the villa on Monday. With Tom’s driver’s licence renewal application and our absenteeism bulletins, we were unable to process the large attachments to be e-mailed. However, as I continued to work on this position, we were eventually able to get online long enough to send out email and attachments.
 
Tom’s license renewal is due to arrive no more than 60 days prior to the expiration date according to Nevada’s laws for those out of the state when the renewal is due. Tom’s birthday is December 23rd.

This out-of-state renewal is only permitted every other time you have to renew. Next time, we’ll need to appear in person. I will go through the same process two months from now when mine renews on my birthday, February 20, 2017. 

The view changes dramatically as the tide rolls in.

We would be in a terrible position if for some reason the renewal did not go through. We would not be able to rent cars and be subject to returning to Nevada in person sooner than planned in order to be able to do so. 

It would be quite a dilemma when we rent a car in Tasmania in December and return to the United States in May for over two months. You can only apply for their state, as we do in Nevada.

After we finally got online, we emailed the completed documents to son Richard in Nevada who will in turn snail mail them to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.Hopefully, in doing so within 60 days, we’ll receive the license on time.

This cute little dog is always with the buffaloes when they’re walking along the shore to the river.

This cute little dog is still with the buffaloes when they walk along the bank to the river.

Thus, we’re having it mailed to daughter, Tammy in Minnesota who will then mail it to our mailing service in NV, who in turn will overnight express mail it to us in Tasmania. Once again, it’s the nature of our lives that makes processing required documents cumbersome. 

We’re unable to avoid asking our kids for help from time to time. They’re usually not tasks that require more than a fax, a copy or placing an item into an envelope and mailing it.  We certainly appreciate the assistance.  How else would we do these things? We wonder how other long term travelers or expats handle such tasks. Any comments would be welcome.

Another interesting crab pattern in the sand.  How artistic!

Tonight, we’ll complete our absentee ballots and have that task out of the way as well. Recently, we used the villa’s old printer to print a few copies of my food list for the upcoming cruise (in 10 days!). The ink is running out and copies aren’t as clear as we’d prefer, but for now it will have to do.

We could wait the 10 days until we board the ship or even print them at the hotel in three or four days.  However, our nature and intent is to have everything done up front in plenty of time to avoid thinking about it more than necessary. By the time we arrive in the hotel in Kuta on Monday, we’ll have nothing specific to process.

As we’ve indicated as our slogan, “Wafting Through Our Worldwide Travels with Ease, Joy and Simplicity” we make every effort to keep our lives as uncomplicated as possible; no drama, low stress and no surprises we could have avoided had we been more diligent. 

The government in Bali stocks this contraption with fish to provide sources of income for the locals.

This isn’t always an easy task and at times, avoiding stress requires spending more money, such as in our leaving the villa five days earlier, losing the rent we paid for the remaining days. Had the cost for the hotel been higher than it was, we may have decided otherwise. 

Also, recently booking the hotel in Lovina for the visa extensions was another example of reducing stress again costing additional unplanned expenses. We often stay in hotels for one night (or more, if necessary) to reduce the exhaustion and stress between long and uncomfortable flights and, to avoid missing a cruise departure when a flight may be delayed for one reason or another.

These types of decisions are usually factored into the budget when we establish new line items in the Excel spreadsheet for estimated expenses for a new location. As for the unexpected items as indicated above, we always maintain a “miscellaneous” category which covers most unanticipated expenses. Without doing so, we could end up with many surprises at the end of our stay.

These young boys arrived by motorbike to play with their boat in the river. It always surprises us how 7 and 8 year olds drive motorbikes and hang out alone at the beach, often for hours at a time.

There’s no doubt that avoiding stress is costly, but in doing so we’re more able to maintain our sense of control over those situations we can control as opposed to those beyond our control such as cancelled flights, delays, unexpected layovers, etc. 

Isn’t it ironic that most of our potentially stressful inducing events revolve around flights? If it were possible and if we could afford it, we’d cruise from location to location when generally the only major, potentially stressful events include embarkation and debarkation, each of which may require hours of waiting. 

The boy’s boat brought them hours of entertainment.

After 14 cruises and traveling to 54 countries we’ve become experienced enough to avoid being stressed when having to wait in long queues for cruises and the often lengthy waiting periods at airports for customs and immigration processes.

Today, slightly cooler and less humid (less flies too), we’ll continue to enjoy every last minute at the villa, write the online reviews for the villa (depending on the signal) as we continue to revel in the loving and kind people surrounding us, along with the exquisite scenery.

May your day find you appreciating loving and kind people surrounding you.

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

View of the coral reef in Fiji.  For more photos, please click here.

Paperwork time…A reality and responsibility of traveling the world…

It’s a well operating out of a local’s house in our neighborhood.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Buffaloes swimming together in the river alongside the villa.

There are currently three batches of documents to complete and process:
1.  Absentee ballots for the upcoming election on November 8th in the US
2.  Visa extension for Indonesia
3.  Tom’s driver license renewal

In just over two weeks, we’ll have to go to Lovina’s immigration office. The forms we used previously must be redone with the correct dates and information.

We’ll continue to post photos from the harrowing four or five hour drive. This is a glass shop which surely had glasa blowers in a back room making these items for sale.

This time when we apply for the visa extension we’ll be driving to Lovina on our own without Gede with us. He’ll have to create a somewhat complicated letter as our sponsor which is written in Indonesian. He was with us last time we visited the immigration office and processed the sponsorship in person.

This time, since we’re going on our own, Gede will have to sit beside me while I type the information into a document  while he translates the form which we’ll print and bring along when we apply. 

We weren’t near the airport.  This is a display of a jet engine atop a building behind many power lines.

Tom’s driver’s license expires on December 23rd. Nevada DMV doesn’t allow an applicant to submit the paperwork sooner than 60 days prior to the expiration date. The paperwork can be submitted by fax so we’ll prepare it all, email it to son Richard in Nevada and he’ll fax it from his office.

Once the renewal license is issued it can’t be mailed to our address in Nevada per their regulations.  It can only be mailed to an outside Nevada address. Daughter Tammy will handle this for us; receiving the license at her home address and placing the license into another envelope with a stamp. She’ll immediately mail it to our mailing service in Nevada.

Vegetation growing on the roof of a restaurant in Denpasar.

Once the mailing service receives it, they’ll ship it to us wherever we are at the time to arrive within 3 to 5 days by expedited international shipping. If we don’t receive the license in time for the rental car we’ll need in Tasmania, we’ll rent the car in my name since my license doesn’t expire until February 20, 2017.

I’ll have to go through the same process 60 days prior to my license expired.  At least, this one time, we’re allowed to do this by mail and fax. Next time, in four more years, we’ll have to appear in person. We’ll certainly keep this in mind when we begin to plan far into the future for 2020.  Gosh, that sounds like a long time away, but it’s only four years.

This is a modern furniture store in Denpasar.

The next item, the absentee ballots, must be processed by this upcoming Monday in order for us to actually receive the ballots in time for the election. That’s a little tricky as well with regulations varying from US state to state. I won’t bore you with the details.

All of these tasks require a huge amount of printing, scanning, copying and preparation. The printer here isn’t so good, although we can manage to get it to spew out what we need for all three of these transactions.The rest we’ll figure out.

An upscale Italian restaurant, likely visited by tourists in Denpasar.

There’s no doubt that preparing all of these documents is cumbersome and time consuming. To a degree they weigh on our minds. When we work on these types of tasks we do it together, making it a lot easier than doing it solo.

Thank goodness we still have our trusty portable scanner which proves invaluable for many aspects of these types of processes. A camera just doesn’t do a good enough scanning job on letter or legal sized documents.

Colorful display of shop on the main highway.

Once we have these tasks completed, we’ll be relieved and able to spend the remaining days in Bali with our minds free of some big responsibilities other than taking good care of ourselves and continuing to enjoy the balmy breezes, sunshine and exquisite scenery before us.

Take good care of YOURSELF and have a good day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 8, 2015:

We shot this photo from the air on our way to Savusavu. Fiji is comprised of approximately 330 islands, of which one third are inhabited. The two major islands are Viti Levu, the most commonly visited and Vanua Levu where we are staying for the next three months. When boarding this flight we had to be publicly weighed along with our baggage, an experience we’d had in the past.  For more details, please click here.

Cambodia visas arrived by email!…Vital passport information, a must see for long term or world travelers! A second passport?

A temple on the busy main street in Negara.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Most mornings we see one of the local workers walking on the beach to a nearby temple with a platter of colorful flower offerings. At first, we thought she was bringing food to a neighbor, but when we asked Gede he explained this ritual. 

Many countries don’t require an actual passport to be sent to a visa procuring company or an embassy. For those in their home countries who must apply for visas, which requires they snail mail their actual passport, and with ample time to do so, (preferably by registered mail) it’s no big deal.

A less crowded road while on the way to Negara.

By snail mailing all the required documents, a week or two later, passports are returned to your mailbox along with the required visas. For us, this prospect is impossible when living outside the US. “Why not?” you may ask? Why not send in our passports as required in ample time requesting a rush return? For us, the answer is clear. 

The closer we got to Negara, the traffic picked up.

What if one of us became ill and had to fly out of the country for more appropriate medical care and, we didn’t have our actual passports in our possession while they were in transit, instead, having only copies? The potential delays in dealing with such a situation could be life-threatening.

Also, if there was political unrest in a country (entirely possible in today’s world) in which we were living and the embassy had to assist us in getting out of the country. Here again, a possible life-threatening situation without the actual passport in our possession.

We’re located in Melaya Beach as shown in western Bali. Negara is south of Melaya with a population of approximately 220,000.

When we first started traveling we had two passports; our main 10-year passports and second two-year passports. This would allow us to feel at ease if we needed to send in the second passports in order to apply for a visa. If an emergency arose, we’d still have the 10-year passport in our possession.

Once we arrive in Negara, the traffic crawls.  

As it turned out during our first few years of travel we never needed to use the second passport for such a purpose. Instead, during the first two years, we used the second passports to get visa stamps at airports, while on cruises, and at cruise ship terminals as opposed to using up pages in our 10-year passports. When the two-year passport expired we began using the 10-year passport.

We thought about continuing to apply for two-year passports, but based on the fact that we never used it for the intended purpose of applying and mailing in documents for visas, we decided against incurring the additional cost of US $340, IDR 4,488,850 every two years for the two of us. 

With only two lanes roads and little to no shoulder, passing could be frightening. But, these drivers on motorbikes, in cars and trucks seem fairly adept at passing on the narrow roads.

Also, if we had the second passports we could use for snail mail, for example through VisaHQ, who just completed our online Cambodia visas (all of which we were able to do online without any snail mail), we’d still have to find post offices, pay for taxi services to and from post offices, and pay for pricey shipping fees both ways. It would still be a “pain-in-the-butt.”

A traditional daytime wedding celebration outdoors at a restaurant.

Based on the fact that we’ve been traveling for almost 44 months and only recently had to address visa issues of any major degree, we’ve accepted the reality of applying for visas at embassies in other countries or, if necessary at immigration offices in the country in which we’re residing at any given time if an extension is required. 

Dozens of trucks were lined up on the highway in the town of Gilimanuk where it required they stop at a weighing station. 

It’s the “nature of the beast.” No one ever said it would be easy.  Then again, no one ever said anything.  Every step of the way in our world travels we’ve been on our own, figuring it out step by step, piece by piece. 

Thank goodness for the Internet. Without it, this amount of travel would have been difficult, if not impossible for us, when quickly our interest would have waned over the challenges of figuring out the endless tasks (and costs) by phone call and snail-mail. 

With as slow as this lineup was moving we imagined the truckers could easily wait all day or overnight for the weigh-in.

We so admire the travelers before us, decades ago, whose sheer determination and desire to see the world took them on a laborious adventure we can only imagine. We’re grateful for our ability to use computers and the Internet with ease which we acquired long before we ever conceived of traveling the world. 

Another decorative archway wishing good fortune to those departing the village.

We have somewhat of an unusual story to share, one we’ve never told here before, of how we developed such an interest in the internet so long ago, for me, beginning in the early 1970s. Please check back tomorrow as we share our story.

Do you have an Internet story to tell? Please share in our comments section at the end of any post. You may do so anonymously if you’d prefer.

Photo from one year ago today, June 9, 2015:

Beautiful sea and mountain view as our ship sailed away from Fiji, one year ago. For more photos and details, please click here.

Paying for health insurance from abroad…Signing documents online?…A credit card compromised again!

View from our area.

I love technology. Without it, our lives would be much more complicated. As an example, our health insurance policy’s annual single premium is due on March 1, 2016, and we’re able to sign online and provide credit card information as securely as possible. The ability to sign online has been available for approximately the past 10 years but many have never used it and are hesitant to do so. Today’s post may ease your mind.

Preferring to pay the insurance bill a bit early, this morning I worked on sending the payment. A few days ago we destroyed the credit card that Healthcare International had on file for us when we received a notice that charges were made on the card in Texas, USA.

Country view.

We’d hardly purchased fuel and spent NZ $281, US $186 at a Walmart store in Houston, Texas. Every few days, I check all of our credit cards online to ensure everything is accurate without any suspicious charges.

As it turned out, on a day I hadn’t checked, I received an email from the credit card company inquiring as to suspicious charges on the card. Their files indicate we’re in New Zealand at this time and it was unlikely we’d flown to Houston overnight to shop at Walmart.

We keep “travel notifications” updated for each of the credit cards we use, requiring updating every 60 days. To remind me to do so, I have it marked on my online calendar with a pop-up reminder. When we first began traveling, we were annoyed with having to log the travel notifications on the credit card company’s online site for every country we’ll be visiting over the next 60 days. 

View of downtown New Plymouth.

Now, with our third incident of fraud in the past 40 months, we understand the benefit and necessity of updating these notifications. Also, updating the travel notification prevents a “decline” at the register when the card’s system doesn’t recognize the current location for which the charges are attempted.

In each case, a new card has been sent to us wherever we may be at the time. The credit card company pays the fees to mail it. Since we don’t need the card quickly with other cards we can use in the interim, we don’t incur any overnight shipping fees. 

Credit card companies may charge when a new card is shipped overnight internationally.Thus, we didn’t request an overnight shipment when the fees can easily top NZ $151, US $100. The new card will arrive here at the farm in NZ within three weeks.

Trees along the rocky shore in the town.

When a credit card is compromised, in some cases the credit card company will pick up the fraud when most theft systems charge $1 as a test to see if the card will work. Once that works, the process of making additional illegal charges begins which may result in thousands of dollars in charges.

It’s imperative for the customer to check their charges on a regular basis and report any suspicious charges immediately and report them promptly. If the charges are made in your home country while you’re residing in your home country, these charges are all the more difficult for the credit card company to catch. You may be using the card while on a local weekend away.

For those outside their home country, this is all the more likely to occur when devices are set up at fuel stations, restaurants, shops, and other establishments where one uses a card. 

Lava rock along the shoreline.

Note:  You will not be charged for any of the unauthorized (illegal) charges providing that you notify the company in a timely manner. Waiting months to do so could result in the customer’s responsibility for the charges.

The new “computer chips” offer no protection in avoiding theft. In each case we’ve experienced theft, we always had the card in our possession. Often, it isn’t the physical card that is compromised, only the number

The rocky beach in New Plymouth.

Now, on to our annual health insurance bill…Each year, when the annual premium is due,  Healthcare International (in the UK) has used the credit card on file to pay our bill. 

I’d contacted them by email asking for the last four digits on the card they had on file to pay our premium.  When the email arrived this morning with the information, I realized it was the “stolen” card that had been canceled a few days ago.

Sugarloaf in downtown New Plymouth.

It’s important to avoid sending a credit card number, social security number, or any other pertinent ID information via email without special security measures in place. Email isn’t secure as much as one may assume. Scammers have equipment breezing through email worldwide attempting to “pick up” such information for illegal purposes. 

Luckily modern technology has provided for secure options but only when certain the message you’ve received is valid from the source you requested. This can be tricky. If uncertain, contact the company on an approved phone number and provide the information in that manner.

Mount Taranaki after more snow on a cool day.

Our bill for the upcoming year including air ambulance, major medical, and other benefits is NZ $5855, US $3745. Luckily, this year, Healthcare International provided an app via Adobe ID to securely assist in entering a new credit card number and to be able to accept an online signature. 

Familiar with this app which we’ve used in the past when an online signature is required, I was comfortable using it again to send via a secure link the app easily provided to be sent by email to Healthcare International.

Yesterday, we posted a photo with eight baby alpacas. This morning, we took this photo with nine babies, although there appears to be eight. Can you find the ninth?

It seems as if I’m contradicting myself by sending this information by email. However, Adobe ID is as secure as any other “secure” site but, let’s face it, any website can be compromised and data were stolen. I completed the necessary information and forwarded it to Healthcare International via a “secure” email through their account with Adobe.

The reason I bring up credit card fraud and this insurance bill together is simple. Paying this amount of money using a credit card is safe for the consumer if any fraud is reported promptly. We were not responsible for any portion of the illegal charges on our credit card, nor would we be for future such charges. This gives us peace of mind.

A moment later a head plopped down on a playmate.

Having one’s identity stolen is another entirely different matter which we won’t get into here today.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the benefits of the policy along with any of the negative aspects of buying health insurance while traveling for extended periods when one doesn’t have other health insurance or has limited coverage outside their home country, as is in our case.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2015:

The residents of Hawaiian are very proud of their love and preservation of wildlife and their land.  For more photos, please click here.

Checking for best prices for future bookings…Do we use a travel agent?…What’s the deal with Australian egg yolks?…

While on the ship, several Australian mentioned the light color of the ship’s egg yolks. Back on land, Aussie eggs come from free-range chickens and when not fed grains the yolks are dark and dense. Lovely.

After the fun cruise from which we just departed, we look forward to future cruises around Australia with a new found enthusiasm. Tom, the cruise person in the family, makes an effort to frequently check for new postings and price changes.

Nitrate free bacon purchased at Woolie’s in the deli section. This is some of the finest bacon we’dd had in a long time. This morning we made bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese. None of the cheeses here are dyed with orange or yellow dyes. Thus, cheddar cheese is all white, and shredded cheeses for Mexican food is also white. We like that.

The cruises we’ve already booked of which there are four at this time may have price reductions that we can take advantage of between the time of booking and up to 90 days before sailing when the final payment is due.

Variety of meats offered at a meat market in the mall.

If there’s a price drop, all we have to do is notify our booking rep at Vacationstogo.com that there’s been a price drop and we’ll be given the benefit of the reduced prices. Our entire cruise documents package is reissued at the new price.

The tricky part of this is that it’s our responsibility to check for price changes. No cruise agency is going to check for price reductions every day for thousands of upcoming cruises. As the consumer, that’s our task.

The lamb chops were considerably more at the meat market than at the Woolworth’s store, AUD $38.99, USD $30.22 vs. AUD $23.99, USD $18.59 per kilo (2.2 pounds). Yesterday, we purchased an ample dinner-sized portion for me with six chops for AUD $7.19, USD $5.57. To be able to enjoy lamb for this price per meal will keep me coming back for more. Tom doesn’t care for lamb.

Most travelers have one cruise booked at any given time, making this checking fairly quick and easy. This can be done daily. Price changes can be posted and an hour later they’re back up again. It’s important to notify the booking agent quickly, making a copy of the price change and sending it by email.

After Tom caught a reduction last night, this morning our new confirmation came through saving us over US $500, AUD $645.29. This was certainly worth taking a few minutes to check once a day. If the price returns to a higher rate, we’re locked in at the lowest price on the most recent cruise documents.

A well-stocked Asian grocery store in the mall.

For those who cruise, this is definitely worth the undertaking. Since we began cruising we’ve literally saved several thousand dollars taking advantage of these changes. 

Of course, we’ve been on 11 cruises in the past 32 months, more than most cruisers for this period. But, even if one cruise once in three years, it’s certainly worth checking prices for reductions after paying the initial deposit. Also, it’s important to have a price guaranty in writing from your chosen cruise travel agent.

Bakery in the mall near “Woolie’s” the name Australians use for their popular Woolworth’s grocery store. We won’t be buying anything from this case but it’s fun to look at.

Using a travel agent for cruising is the only travel agent/agency that we use. Many have suggested names of friends or agents they recommend we use in an attempt to make our travels easier. 

We appreciate the thoughtful suggestions but based on the nature of our travels and having complete control over every step of the way, we wouldn’t be able to use an agent, picking out vacation homes, flights, and venues for us. 

This is the indoor Farmer’s Market where we were able to buy fresh daily organic vegetables at very reasonable prices. Woolie’s is in the background, making it easy to stop for produce after buying protein and essentials.

We look at 100’s of possible vacation homes in each possible future location, a task no agent would have time or inclination to consider tackling. Also, we like the freedom of negotiating the best possible prices, terms and conditions, and of course, schedules. Leaving this in the hands of another could potentially be a fiasco.

Our goal remains the same…” wafting through our worldwide travels with ease, joy, and simplicity,” as stated as our motto at the top of our changing-daily-homepage. 

We are not a “travel log.” We are a “daily life log” of two crazy retirees who wanted to step outside the box to spread their wings to live a different kind of life in our later years, a life of change, adventure, and wonder. 

The locally grown produce was abundant in quality and selection.

On top of it all, we love the freedom we have to live each day exactly as we choose whether exploring an area, out on an adventure or simply lounging at home doing exactly what many retirees do each day; a trip to the store, a walk in the neighborhood, preparing a special meal, and maintaining a comfortable home environment.  We love it all.

And, we love all of our readers for sharing it with us. Today, we’ll venture out for a drive to check out the area and hopefully report back with good photos tomorrow.

Thanks to friend and reader Staci for her coffee-making suggestions including “cowboy coffee” and checking thrift stores for a “coffee perc.” Thanks to our many other readers who sent emails with other suggestions.

Have a wonderful day. Back at you soon with more new photos.

                                                Photo from one year ago today, June 17, 2014:

The view from our veranda in Campanario, Madeira on a clear day. For details from that date, please click here.

“Down Under,” here we come!…New booking photos!…Keeping records of our travels…Quite the task…

The living room is always a crucial area for us for relaxing and enjoying the view. There’s no shortage of either in this wonderful location.

This week, we’ve managed to book two properties for well into the future:

  • June 11, 2015 – September 8, 2015 – Trinity Beach, Australia – which we’ll share here today with photos
  • September 8, 2015 – December 6, 2015 – Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji- which we shared yesterday with photos
Another angle of the main living area.

We’re excited as we enter these two firmed up locations to our ever-growing itinerary which, by the way, we’ll be posting in its entirety once we firm up a place in New Zealand.

Once we settle the details of a new booking there are many steps to enter it into our Excel spreadsheet with many tabs. One worksheet in our spreadsheet is the “Itinerary and Costs” tab whereby we enter information into columns; the dates, location, rental amount, car rental, transportation, entertainment, dining out, groceries, tips, and fees. and miscellaneous.

Although the ocean views are at a distance, we’re looking forward to amazing sunsets. With a pool on the 3-acre property, we’ll be content this far from the ocean. Rental cars are affordable in this area and we can easily drive to a nearby beach to walk along the shore.

Another worksheet in the spreadsheet is “Deposits and Balances” which include: dates, location, total rent, hotel or cruise rate, the deposit paid, date paid, balance due, date(s) balance due (at times, payable in one or more installments).

For cruises, there is an additional worksheet with details of the cruise including dates, name of the ship, total cost including tips and taxes (usually paid at the time of booking the cruise), cabin number and class, balance due, date due, credits, and extras.

We can hardly wait to lounge by this pool in the backyard.

Once these numbers are entered, we make a folder with all documents relative to a particular property, hotel, or cruise and save it on our cloud and external hard drive. Without a doubt, there are numerous steps to logging future travels but we’ve found that this works well.

Of course, I do all of this data entry and oddly, enjoy doing it. Each time I make changes to the workbook, I send a copy to Tom to “save over” his last copy for easy reference for him.  This prevents me from having to look up info anytime he has questions. Each of us references this form frequently, especially these past few weeks as we figure out new dates and locations

Well equipped kitchen with all we’ll need.

When a new reader pops into our site, their immediate perception maybe, “Cool. These old-timers are having an easy life.” Little do they realize until reading further that the planning, recording, and preparation for our travels is a complex undertaking requiring painstaking effort and diligence. 

For us, it’s simply a part of the experience and we make every effort to enjoy it along with everything else

The bedroom with queen bed and doors to patio.

Now, let’s get into Trinity Beach, Australia new booking. I must admit, this was one of the most difficult countries/continents in which we’ve searched thus far.  Prices were high, especially with ocean views. It was impossible to find something affordable located directly on the beach that was nice enough for our liking.

We aren’t willing to live in a dumpy little house, even for a view. In the end, we compromised in a few ways; one, the ocean view is at a distance but a beach is nearby; two, we’re renting a full windowed/glass door home with private access on the ground level “situated on 3-acres of a tropical rain forest with 180˚ views of the Coral Sea and Cairns beautiful northern beaches.”

This hot tub will be used frequently.

How could we resist?  Certainly, it’s more private than a condo or apartment and with full access to the grounds and pool, we’ll be totally at ease. The owners although younger than us, live in a separate property on the grounds and are still working and gone most of the day. They are well-traveled, outgoing, warm, and friendly.  Most likely, we’ll all become friends! 

Roomy shower compared to many smaller showers we’d had in the past.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have this wrapped up. Now, between this property and Fiji following, we are currently booked out until December 6, 2015. Over the next few months, we’ll continue booking out another six months in order to have bookings through June 2016, almost two years.  Then, we can relax (so to speak) for a year, living in the moment.

The rain forest setting should bring us some visitors!

I must admit, it’s hard to believe that we’ll be in Paris in 32 days. How did this come up so quickly? For now, we continue to stay in tune with our remaining time and surroundings here on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Have a warm and sunny weekend!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2013:

This was the veranda where we hung laundry in Boveglo, Italy. This was the second country in which there was no clothes dryer available to us, the first being the United Arab Emirates where we stayed in Dubai for 13 nights the prior month. Now here in Madeira, we use such a drying rack which frequently tips over in the strong winds. For details from that date, please click here.

On high alert…Traveler’s warnings…What’s our plan?…In 30 days, off to Kenya…

A kindly reader of our blog posted a comment that we received overnight, inquiring as to our concern over traveling to Kenya with the recent embassy and consulate closings in countries all over the weekend. For the full article, please click here.

Yes, we’re concerned. How could we not be? It’s this level of concern that prompts us to do all we can to ensure our safety to the best of our ability. There are always unknowns.

Looking up stats on various countries worldwide, we see that Belize had a higher homicide rate per capita than Kenya. After spending almost three months living in Belize, aware of the risks, we never let our guard down, never taking our safety for granted.

Such will be the case when living in Kenya for a few days short of three months from September 3, 2013, to November 30, 2013, when we depart for South Africa. We’ll be exercising extreme caution, none of which is a guaranty of our safety but reduces the risks.

Having registered for the Smart Traveler Program at the US Department of State we’ll be receiving any warnings via email that may require us to leave Kenya or later South Africa if the tension in our area escalates.

A few portions of our travel plans to Kenya give rise to added concern; our arrival at the Mombasa Airport in the middle of the night and, the subsequent over one hour ride to our vacation rental in the middle of the night.  Most crime occurs in the dark in these high-risk areas.  Yes, we’ll be nervous until firmly ensconced in our new location. 

Have we considered changing our plans?  Yes, we have. But we’ll continue to carefully watch the world news, reports from the State Department, online posts and comments. Should these next few weeks bring rise to added concerns in the areas we plan to travel with warnings from the State Department to cancel travel plans, we’ll do so. 

We realize that doing so will cost us around $6000 from loss of paid-in-advance rent and non-refundable airfare. This is a big loss to incur but our safety supersedes money, doesn’t it?

What plans do we have in place to ensure our safety, the reader inquired?  Here are what we have thus far:

1.  Destination contact:  We’ve established a plan with my sister that we will notify her by email when we depart any area and immediately when we arrive, having provided her with the address, contact person’s name, phone, and email plus travel arrangement information for our destination. If she doesn’t hear from us within 12 hours of our estimated arrival time, she is to begin the process of finding out what’s happened to us, contacting the embassy, state department, etc.  (if we have airport delays we will contact her as they occur).
2.  No rental car. We’ve been made well aware that driving in Kenya can be risky, even in the tourist area we’ll be living. Once arriving, we’ll make arrangements with a driver for weekly trips for shopping, daytime dining out and any touring.
3.  Deciding on safari trips based on safety in a specific area, airports, etc.  The property owner suggested we wait until we arrive to decide on safaris as he will assist us in making arrangements with people he knows and trusts.
4.  News updates: With no TV at the property (as we have here in Italy with a few English speaking news stations:  BBC, France 24, and CNBC, we’ll be watching news updates on our computers on a daily basis.
5.  No venturing out after dark. Period. 
6.  No wearing of jewelry, watches, any items that may attract attention. 
7.  Dressing “down” when out during the day, jeans, shorts, tee shirts, no clothing that attracts attention.
8.  Keeping money and documents secure at all times. We carry very little cash, mostly using credit cards.
9.  Staying together at all times when out and about.
10. Never, ever, loosening our guidelines for what appears to be “special circumstances.” Neither of us is naïve.  It is unlikely that we’d fall prey to some “scammer” attempting to divert our attention. Keep walking, don’t make eye contact, be guarded with confidence and astuteness.

There is nothing anyone can do to be exempt from danger. Where we lived in Minnesota it was only a 30-minute drive to an area where one wouldn’t dare get out of their car at night, let alone during the day.  Tom’s mother’s home in a less desirable area in North Minneapolis had bullet holes in it when it was finally taken by the city by eminent domain. 

Over the years, while she still lived in the house, he and the family worried that she could fall prey to drive-by shootings occurring all over the neighborhood. Luckily, she got out in time, living to be a healthy 98 years old. 

There are risks wherever one may be at any given moment; a movie theatre in Colorado, a train in France, or running a marathon in Boston, MA.  We can only hope and pray for safety, exercising caution to the best of our ability while allowing ourselves the privilege of reveling in every moment of our world travels

Responsibility travels well…

Life is filled with responsibility.  There’s no escaping it.  It goes wherever we may go.  Self discipline is the driving force to commit us to responsibility.  

Some have asked if we will have a sense of freedom, leaving behind work, finally both retired, of the day to day responsibilities of the upkeep and maintenance of a home, a lifestyle we have clung to for decades and the love-centered responsibilities that come with the care and feeding of family and friends. 

Will we feel free and unencumbered by “stuff” that for us, as for most, dictates the tone of our daily lives?

The answers to these questions are yet to come from the upcoming experiences in our near future. It’s easy to speculate as to “how” one will feel when a certain scenario transpires. Anticipation in itself is often fodder for disappointment. How do we temper it?

Perhaps, by facing the responsibilities that will follow us around the world. These thoughts are not in an effort to dampen our enthusiasm. It is to maintain a level of reality that essentially will give us peace of mind that will ultimately enhance our experience.

Loaded with tasks to complete before we leave, we must gather the list of that which will carry with us, not in our overloaded luggage but in our minds and on secure Internet storage. Here are some of these:

  1. File income taxes each year in the same manner we have done while in the US.  Our long time accountant is prepared to do our taxes all via email and documents forwarded to him by our upcoming mail service with our direction.  He will file electronically (as we’ve done for years) and our refund will be deposited in our bank account.
  2. Handle all snail mail through our mailing service.  They will send us a daily list of mail and will scan and email anything of importance.  They will snail mail replacements debit/credit cards and packages for a small fee plus postage.
  3. Apply for necessary visas and maintain second passports. Second passports are necessary in order to submit a passport with each application for a visa.  We don’t want to be in a foreign country without passports in our possession at all times. Second passports must be renewed every two years in the US.
  4. File insurance claims and stay updated on policy changes as to coverage while out of the US.
  5. Handle prescription refills.  We are still awaiting a response for our prescription plan as to providing us with one year of refills at a time. 
  6. Stay updated on both business and personal email/Skype. Email and Skype will be the primary sources of communication with our family and friends. Tom and I are both diligent checking email and will continue to do so provided we are able to receive an adequate connection.  If we have a problem, we will seek out other local Internet resources frequently.
  7. Seek out health clubs at each location.  In Placencia, Belize, there isn’t a health club!  There are hotels with adequate facilities and also private trainers.  As soon as our bags are unpacked, I will be on a mission to establish a relationship with a facility to ensure I can maintain my current level of fitness.  The walking we will surely be engaging in will not be a strenuous enough activity for me, although it may be adequate for Tom.  
  8. Find a dentist every 6 months. Tom and I are diligent about daily flossing and having our teeth cleaned every six months.  As the time nears, we will ask the locals for reliable dentists in the area, paying out of our pockets. Our dental plan will be useless abroad.
  9. Arrange vision exams every two years.  Tom’s family history of serious eye disease and blindness require exams by an ophthalmologist every two years.  Overall, we will be living in remote areas around the world.   Taking the time and bearing the expense to seek out quality care will be a prerequisite.  My vision issues are typical age-related, remedied by mono vision contact lenses.  I have packed a two year’s supply.  Tom will have eye exams and new glasses before we leave the US.
  10. Family members birthdays. All these years we have given gifts to our grown children and grandchildren at the time of their birthdays.  For the future, our gift to our adult children will be occasional plane tickets to visit us for a “free” vacation.  As for the grandchildren, Amazon will be our friend and theirs, where we can purchase gift cards, allowing them to choose something fun from Grandma and Grandpa each year on their birthdays. 
  11. Trip planning.  We have yet to book beyond the arranged 949 days from October 31, 2012.  As the time nears, it will be necessary to book airfare, train travel, ferries and auto rentals. There are some holes in our itinerary that we are holding for the five cruises we want to book that are not posted as yet. Once we are a year out, we will be able to complete some of these bookings, sooner rather than later. Neither of us are “last minute” planners. (As you can see)!
  12. Food shopping. Our special dietary needs will be a challenge wherever we travel.  Finding gluten free, sugar free, wheat free, grain free, starch free, low carb foods will surely be a challenge. Here is another mission for us as soon as we unpack.  If we can find grass fed beef and pork, free range chicken and eggs, wild caught fish and organic vegetables, we will be able to enjoy our meals. We use Greek yogurt, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut milk, real butter, spices and Stevia. If these items are available, we will be delighted!  
  13. The constant tracking of all of our expenses. Every receipt and all cash purchases will be logged daily in our expenses spreadsheet to ensure we are staying within our budget.  If necessary, adjustments will be made if we are over the budget to cut back and cover the shortage over a period of months if necessary.  If we are “under” we may choose to dine out more often or upgrade to first class when we have no alternative but to fly. (We are bringing a tiny portable scanner and printer in order to scan receipts, making it unnecessary to haul the receipts with us for years. The printer will provide boarding passes and other documents as needed).
Yes, this list could be overwhelming.  Here in the US, its familiar and a part of our everyday life. From afar? Maybe not. We can only look at these responsibilities with optimism and a sense of challenge, rolling it all into the adventure, chipping away at it, as we go.

As they say, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Hum…

The dreadful process of filling out forms…A zebra in a pool???…

We’ve yet to have a single visit, from a full-racked male kudu. The only way they can get into our garden is by walking on the driveway when the bush is too dense. This young male was able to make it through the bush to stop for a visit during sundowners on the veranda.

Each time we have to extend our visas, apply for visas or apply online for any government-mandated process, we dread it. Often, the forms are confusing, difficult to use, and don’t save partially completed forms, although, on their website, they clearly state that returning users can easily find their partially completed forms. Ha! Not always the case.

Yesterday, we started the necessary process of applying for our e-visas for entry into Kenya on April 9th. On January 1, 2021, Kenya switched from the easy visa-upon-arrival process with a mandatory online application. With many of the questions translated from other languages, often the questions in the form are ambiguous and confusing.

A female kudu and a male impala getting along well while eating pellets.

But, the worst part for us, mainly me, who will do both of our online applications, is now using a Chromebook instead of formerly using Windows. With Windows, all I had to do was find the appropriate travel documents in a folder on my desktop and we’d be good to go.

It’s not so easy with a Chromebook, regardless of how and where I save documents, to easily find them to grab and attach to an uploader in an online application. Believe me, I know how to do this. But when saving the documents needed such as airline tickets, hotel reservations, copies of passports, and proper headshot photos, those documents I properly saved are often missing and I can’t “grab” to upload them into the form.

Impalas are very shy around humans. We’ve been surprised to see so many visiting our garden.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent no less than two hours in dire frustration, in the 100F, 38C, heat, and humidity, and will have to go back and try again today. Just now, as we speak, I looked for the documents and found them where they should be in the “download” folder.

But, I have no doubt that when I start working on the form again, re-entering all I’ve already entered on 10 pages, they won’t be there. We often wonder how less experienced users could possibly get through this process. Often, they have to hire a company to do this for them at an additional cost over and above the US $102, ZAR 1558, fee (for both of us) charged by Kenya.

Impalas stay at a distance from the veranda.

Oh, I can’t wait to get this done and behind us. Tom, a less experienced user of Chromebook’s weird nuances, will be able to re-enter his personal information which was lost upon “save. Hopefully, after he re-enters it today it will all be there for me to log into his Kenya visa account and upload the documents from there also.

Talk about sweating in this weather! It’s only 10:30 right now in Marloth Park and it’s already 90F, 32C with high humidity, all of which is rising rapidly. It won’t be until after about 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, that we’ll feel the temperature drop slightly. Yesterday Tom read that the “wind chill” was 110F, 43.3C. We had no idea wind chill factors were considered for hot weather as well as for cold temperatures.

Adorable young male bushbuck checks out the grassy area in our garden waiting for Tom, in the red shirt, to toss him a few pellets.

Last night, the air-con in our bedroom simply couldn’t keep up with the heat. It was necessary to also use one of the two standing fans in our bedroom, aimed directly at us. It never really cooled down much during the night. Even our wildlife friends stay away during the heat. They hunker down in the shade of the bush, close to water holes. It must be so hard for them.

Yesterday there was a Facebook story under Marloth Park Sighting Group, that was mind-boggling as follows:

“ATTENTION POOL OWNERS: Last week Thursday, driving up Berghaan Rd, I was flagged down by a resident/visitor of a house with a newly built swimming pool. The gentleman was FRANTIC, and I soon learned that he was deaf, as is his partner, neither could speak either. Turning into the driveway, I was greeted by the sight of an adult zebra, in the pool, but totally exhausted, his neck and head out of the water, kind of hanging over the side, as the gentleman, who was EXHAUSTED, and two young builders from the next-door house, had managed to get zebra to the side of the pool. I don’t know how long it was going on before I arrived, but jumped into action, looped my bakkie (a pickup truck) tow strap around zebra’s neck, and with the help of the builders, directed zebra around to the shallow end where it could stand, and where we could lead it to the steps. This worked!! Three minutes after I arrived zebra was out of the water and on its feet…..
Firstly, the pool was too deep for adult zebra to stand, secondly, the pool should be fenced. Should it not just be common sense to fence a pool in a nature reserve?? Hate to think what would’ve happened had I not driven by when I did. Occupants of the house were inside, both deaf, no idea about the drama outside. Luckily the builders were awake…”
Bushbucks have such adorable faces!
Fortunately, the zebra was rescued by the kind and creative people who immediately went into action. The zebra seemed fine and dashed off. And yes, there are pools at most houses in the bush, mostly splash pools used to cool off in hot weather, days like today, and few, if any are fenced.
That’s a matter for another day. Fences are frowned upon in the bush, preventing the wildlife from freely foraging as they wander about the park. But, there are circumstances under which a fence may be sensible, providing safety for humans and animals alike.
Tiny sitting in front of his favorite tree stump.
Our pool, yet to be used by us, is shallow, above ground, encased, and surrounded by a cement wall. It would be unlikely an animal could fall in without climbing over the wall, tricky to do at best. Plus, it’s shallow, as is the case of most splash pools in the bush. We’re thrilled to hear the zebra was safely rescued. Life in the bush has always been interesting and often unusual.
Have a lovely day.
Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2020:
“Krishna’s Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal and Krishna’s Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic granite boulder that rests on a short incline in the historical coastal resort town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu state of India. Since it is part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during 7th- and 8th-century CE as Hindu religious monuments by the Pallava dynasty, it is a popular tourist attraction. It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India. It is best viewed at sunrise from northwest to southeast or at sundown from northeast to southwest when the panorama is bathed in magical golden hues.” Our guide explained that at one time, centuries ago, the locals tried to move this boulder using elephants but it wouldn’t budge. For more photos, please click here.