Part 2, the villa’s menu options…Food around the world…

Tom’s plate with Blue Fin tuna made with a tomato, lemongrass sauce, spicy vegetables with a side of coleslaw.

“Bali Sightings on the Beach”

Each day when the tide comes in before noon, the sea is as close as 10 meters to the edge of our pool. When it recedes, it leaves behind ocean refuse and trash. Each day but Sunday our pool and landscape guy, Ribud, cleans the beach in front of the house. Yesterday, (Sunday), we captured these three dogs playing after the tide had gone back out, leaving a muddy play area for dogs.
Yesterday, we enjoyed the quiet Sunday at home with the staff off for the day. I made the bed. Tom made coffee (as always) and did the dinner dishes. The only food prep necessary was to make the salad, heat the veggies and fish and we were good to go. Swimming in the pool and doing research while lounging  in the cabana, out of the scorching sun, has totally entertained us.
My plate with fish and veggies.
Of course, food made fresh that day is always the most desirable. The precooked tuna was a little dry after we reheated it in the microwave, but, we ate it anyway, happy to have a good meal without much effort. I think I’ll become spoiled with the thought of not cooking until July, only reheating a meal for Sundays when the staff is off.
The daily stir fried veggie platter laden with Balinese spices, is a dish we both love.

In a way, the heat, humidity and ants have made cooking less interesting for me over these past years of living on several tropical islands where these three factors are always to be expected. Add the difficulty of finding some ingredients we use in cooking “our way,” it makes the process even less appealing. 

Each day, the Ketuts present us with this itemized list of the cost of the ingredients to make  the meal(s).  The “petrol” at the bottom of the list is the daily cost of fuel for their motorbikes, IDR 10,000, US $.75.  For two meals for both Saturday and Sunday the total cost was IRD 185,000, US $13.87  Unreal, eh?
Over these past many moons of travel, we’ve talked to more and more people who prefer not to cook.  Either they’re busy while still working, often with young mouths to feed or, like me, simply have lost interest in spending long periods in the kitchen. 
Dinner menu, Page 1.
It’s no wonder prepared meals are readily available in the markets, along roadside stands (in many countries) and a wide variety of fast food and other dining establishments to suit the needs of most diners. Unfortunately, such meals aren’t an option for us, other than occasional pre-cooked organic chickens made without wheat, sugar or starch.
Dinner menu, Page 2.
My lack of interest provides me with little excuse not to cook. Our way of eating requires homemade meals while we’re living in most countries. I have no excuses. Always on a mission to spend as little time cooking as possible, when we’re preparing our meals, we have a few dozen options we tend to repeat over and over again.
Dinner menu, Page 3.
Here in the villa in Bali, it’s not a lot different for the cooks. In perusing Part 2 of the menu, posted today with choices of dinners and desserts, it’s easy to determine the options suitable for us are few. As a result, we’ve all been creative in designing the perfect meals. None of the desserts are adaptable.
Dinner menu, Page 4.
Thank goodness we purchased the mince (ground beef) that Gede picked up in Denpasar this past week or we’d be alternating chicken and fish, night after night. That could get boring for these two months. So far, it appears the only fresh fish available is Blue Fin tuna and small prawns.  Perhaps, there will be more variation in time.
Dinner menu, Page 5.
Today, Monday, we devised the menu for the week, although the two Ketuts don’t require that we do so. Monday and Tuesday, it will be chicken, veggies, salad; Wednesday and Thursday it will be hamburger patties with bacon, cheese, onion, salad and veggies; Friday and Saturday it will be prawns with veggies and salad; Sunday we’ll have our pre-made leftover ground beef dish which is in the freezer along with sides of veggies and salad. 
Dinner menu, Page 6.
In actuality, we’d be happy to repeat this weekly menu over and over. As long as the meals are befitting my way of eating, more variety is hardly necessary. The cooks seem fine with our repeats understanding the degree of limitations.
Dinner menu, Page 7.
There are no restaurants or resorts nearby and if there were, we doubt we’d be able to dine out when most Balinese meals contain lots of carbs, starches and sugar.
Dessert menu, Page 1.
Tom’s sunburned feet are healing and soon we’ll get out to take more varied photos and get more cash. In the interim, we’re having so much fun watching the activity on the beach in front of us and swimming in the pristine pool, we’re supremely content. 
Dessert menu, Page 2.
During these past few days, we’ve been busy applying for visas for our upcoming Mekong River cruise and booking many flights necessary over the next several months.
With the slow signal, this is a time consuming process.
Dessert menu, Page 3.
Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there. May your day be filled with love and wonderful surprises.
Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2015:
View of the drive to the Kilauea Lighthouse in Kauai when it was closed on a Sunday. For more photos of this popular historic location, please click here.

Part 1, the villa’s menu options…Food around the world…

The two Kataks and Ribud (the pool and landscape guy) holding up the three kilo Blue Fin tuna for last night’s and tonight’s meal. After it was cleaned and filleted there were two huge portions which we’re sharing each night.  Such wonderful people!  Such fabulous fish!

“Bali Sightings of the Beach”

Crab trail and buffalo footprints in the sand.

Today is the first day we’ve been entirely alone in the villa. The staff hung around last Sunday to make sure we had everything we needed to settle in including a nice Sunday dinner. The fact they gave up their regular day off meant a lot to us. 

We could have easily figured out everything on our own as we often do when the owner, the manager, or other staff isn’t handy to show us “the ropes.” Somehow we always manage.

The two cleaned fillets.  Hard to imagine we could eat one of these between us, each of two nights, but after picking out bones, and the less than desirable darker flesh commonly found in fresh tuna, it was the perfect amount. Adding the fabulous vegetables and coleslaw, it makes a perfect meal. The cost of this fish was only IDR $145,000, US $10.85. There’s no cost for the cooks preparing our meals other than IDR $10,000, US $.75 daily for fuel for their motorbikes. We’ll provide tips at the end of our stay.

In a previous post, we mentioned, we wouldn’t be cooking until July 23rd when we settle into the house in Phuket, Thailand for almost six weeks. We were wrong. We’re on our own on Sundays going forward for the remaining seven weeks in Bali, this time around.

Breakfast menu, Page 1.

Actually, I don’t feel like cooking. As mentioned, the kitchen is the domain of the two Ketuts, not mine, and with the number of ants roaming around the counters, the less I prepare the better. Oh, I’m used to ants, even those crawling on me but they’re annoying when preparing food when all they want to do is crawl inside the dish I’m preparing.

As a result, yesterday I asked the two Ketuts to make the second portion of the fish and another plate of vegetables for us for tonight’s meal. Today, I’ll make a fresh batch of coleslaw which I can complete in less than 10 minutes, most of which time is spent fine slicing the cabbage. 

Breakfast menu, Page 2.

Last night, before the Ketuts left for the evening we gave them money for Monday and Tuesday’s roasted chicken and vegetable dinner. Each day before they arrive at the villa they visit the early morning markets where they purchase locally grown vegetables, meat, and fish. They bring us change or ask for more cash if they were short. Daily, they provide us with an itemized price list of items they’ve purchased.

If necessary, they stop at the tiny market for grocery items such as soaps and paper products. From what we’ve seen so far, these little markets also carry a wide array of “junk” snack foods that are purchased by tourists and locals alike. Obesity and type two diabetes are as prevalent in Bali and the mainland of Indonesia as in many other parts of the world.

The lunch menu, Page 1.

Yesterday, they visited the fish market and again picked up a huge Blue Fin tuna as shown in today’s main photo. After thoroughly cleaning and deboning it (mostly) we were left with two huge filets, enough for last night and tonight’s meal.

They’ve explained that most guests chose from the menu requesting three meals a day, each with two or three-course, all of which they prepare six days a week. With our one meal a day, they’re able to spend less time here in the villa with us, mostly cleaning in the mornings, leaving midday, and returning per our request at 4:00 pm to prepare dinner.

The lunch menu, Page 2.

We requested our dinner be ready at 5 pm each night, a little early for us.  In doing so, they can be out the door earlier to return home to their families. They clear the table after we’ve eaten, wash the dishes, bring in the chaise lounge cushions and beach towels and close the huge accordion glass doors for the evening before the rampage of mozzies begins. 

By 6:30 pm, we have the evening to ourselves. We avoid opening the exterior doors or stepping outside until after dark when the mozzies are less frenzied. There’s a nighttime security guard that sits on a chair all night a few doors from our villa, guarding the few villas along this narrow road. 

The lunch menu, Page 3.

Today, we’ve included a portion of the villa’s menu options from which we’d choose if we could eat the items listed. Tomorrow, we’ll show the dinner and dessert menus.  

Instead of choosing items on the menu, we pick and choose adaptations of the items offered, ensuring they don’t include any sugar, starches, or grains, all with minimal carbs. So far, it’s working when I’ve had no ill effects. 

The lunch menu, Page 4.

We thought it might be interesting to share Part 1 of 2 of the menu today and tomorrow for our “foodie” readers. For those of you with less interest in food, soon we’ll be back with more of “your type” of stories and photos.

The lunch menu, Page 5.

We want to thank all of our new readers we met on the most recent cruise (and past cruises, of course) for stopping by and checking us out. Our stats have indicated a huge increase in hits over the past several days. 

We’d love your input via comments at the end of each day’s post or, by email (see links to both of our email addresses on the top right side of any day’s post).

The lunch menu, Page 6.

As for our regular readers, wow! You continue to hang with us, many of who’s been with us since the beginning of 2012. Thank you for making us feel as if you’re right beside us, day after day, more friends than one could ever expect in a lifetime. The journey continues.

Happy Mother’s Day today for all the moms in this part of the world where it’s Sunday and again tomorrow for all the moms on the other side of the world where you’ll celebrate tomorrow.  May your day be as special as YOU!

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

Beautiful purple flowers we encountered on a walk in Kauai. For more photos, please click here.  (Error correction from yesterday when I mistakenly posted this photo which was meant for today. A new photo for the appropriate date has been replaced on yesterday’s post. Click here to see the correction..

The maze like environmant of the souk…So confusing…Food around the world…

Yesterday, this was my meal at Le Jardin;  fillet of Dover sole with a spinach sauce made with a flour-less cream reduction sauce. In the center, is an array of cooked vegetables, including carrots, zucchini and eggplant. The chef prepared this meal for me after the server showed the him the restriction list on my phone. It was fabulous. Now, I can’t wait to have this again! See how tempting it is to return to favorite restaurant when I can order a dish as amazing as this?

Firstly, again thanks for the many well wishers, for my improving health.  Now with only one more day on Cipro, I am feeling completely well, having decided to continue and do the full five day regime.  All symptoms have subsided and I’m back to my energized self, chomping at the bit to get out and explore.

Tom ordered the same dish he’d had at Le Jardin the last time we visited, fearful he wouldn’t like other options. Next time, he’ll try a different dish.

Yesterday, we did exactly that!  Explore. On Friday, the holy day for those of the Muslim faith, many of the shops are closed in the souk. As a result, the narrow roads and passageways of the souk are relatively free of foot traffic. Since we aren’t interested in shopping, this is an ideal time for us to get around and explore the area and search for new restaurants to try.

During the long walk, as we searched for Le Jardin we discovered this interesting door in the Jemaa el Fna in the souk..

Here’s the dilemma. We’ve decided we can no longer dine at most Moroccan food restaurants. Having decided I will no longer eat raw vegetables after this dreadful illness there are few foods that I can eat in a Moroccan restaurants with any assurance that there will be none of the ingredients that I can’t have. Many dishes have flour, sugar, grains, fruit and starches, all which I must avoid.

Continuing on through the narrow roads, we looked for any familiar landmarks that would assist us in our search for Le Jardin.

A few days ago, Tom suggested I write about food too much. I agree that it is a frequent topic of conversation.  But, let’s face it, people usually travel for a few reasons other than to “get away from it all.” They travel for the shopping, the sights and for the food and wine. 

We thought we were close when a few weeks ago, we’d spotted these same two kittens playing at perhaps the same spot.
Many of the homeless cats hang out in pairs.

When travelers board a long flight, one of their first questions asked is, “Do we get a meal?” One of the major reasons travelers enjoy cruising is for the food, the “all you can eat” aspect, with many courses with an endless array of desserts. When travelers arrive at a new location, they immediately get to work to find out where to eat using the Internet, the concierge or by inquiring to other travelers.

From time to time we’ll see what appears to be a traditional home furnishings shop. 

We live in a “food” orientated society. Our holidays and celebrations consist of big meals with many desserts.  Sporting events appeal to many for the food and drinks that seem to go along the frenzy. A trip to a movie theatre results in a desire for popcorn, candy and drinks. 

Ever go to Las Vegas and not discuss a plan as to where to have the biggest and best buffets, maybe “comped” if one is a serious gambler, or to immediately return to a favorite haunt for a special dish?  Its our nature.

If we go back to the caveman/cavewomen, most likely the first thing they thought about upon wakening, is where and how they’ll get their next meal. In the animal world, we observed both on safari and in living in Marloth Park, that animals lives revolve around the constant hunt or forage for food.

What an interesting door!

Its in our DNA whether its out of the need to feed our bodies or for sheer pleasure. We can’t help but think and talk of our desires for food in various the forms in which we’ve become familiar. A huge part of traveling is the excitement of seeking the new food experiences, the new flavors.

Here we are in Morocco, dealing with my major food restrictions (which I don’t resent at all) and Tom’s picky taste buds, in one  of the “foodie” capitals in the world! Food is a major point of discussion in our lives perhaps in a slightly different manner than for most travelers.

A few decisions have been determined by my recent illness coupled with Tom’s taste buds:
1.  No more dining in Moroccan restaurants
2.  All dining is to be in French, Italian or other suitable international restaurants
3.  When dining in, Madame Zahra will make all meals without the traditional Moroccan spices which at this point, neither of us cares to eat.

Finally, we spotted the green sign at the top of this photo, assuring us at long last, that we were heading in the right direction.

Our lifelong taste preferences can be changed for a few days or even a few weeks. But, none of us, prefer to eat the strong flavors of another culture’s food for months. For example, I love Szechuan Chinese food. Could I eat it everyday for over two months? No. Could one eat foods with Italian spices everyday unless  you were Italian, used to eating those flavors at each meal? No.

Ingrained in all of us, are the tastes most familiar in our lives and from our upbringing. Deviating for a period of time is acceptable but, not so much for the long term.  When Madame Zahra made our meal on Thursday without spices other than salt and pepper, we both moaned in appreciation not only for her fine cooking but for the familiarity of the simple flavors.

With French spoken in Morocco by many of its citizens and the fair number of French restaurants, we’ll have no difficulty finding French restaurants. The bigger problem is, “finding” those in the souk, many of which appear to be tucked away.

The fresh organic produce offered for sale at Le Jardin.

Yesterday, we decided to do a “repeat” and go back to Le Jardin, a French restaurant offering a combination of Moroccan and French influenced options. Having dined there recently, greatly enjoying the food and the ambiance, we decided to return. 

The first time we’d dined at Le Jardin, we stumbled across it during one of our many walks through the maze-like souks. We thought searching and finding it on one of the many online map programs would make returning a breeze. We encountered a few problems. 

They didn’t appear in any of the map programs. The map on their website was confusing and when I tried to call them to email directions, there was no answer. When I tried sending an email to their posted address, it was returned. We were on our own.

Today, we’ll return to the same general area to dine at this French restaurant we stumbled across when looking for Le Jardin.

Tom has the best sense of direction of anyone I’ve ever known. When we left there weeks ago, he had no trouble finding our way back to our home. Time having passed with many outings in the souks, he wasn’t 100% certain as to the course to take.

Needless to say, we wandered around the souks for 45 minutes until we found Le Jardin. We’ve discovered it makes no sense to ask shop workers for directions.  Invariably, the salesperson drags us inside their shop or to another shop, hoping we’ll make purchases.  We’ve learned that we must figure it out on our own. I suppose the shop workers have grown tired of giving directions to confused tourists.

Yesterday, we had another excellent meal while enjoying the birds and turtles roaming freely in the courtyard.  Hence, a few of today’s photos.

Here is one of the two resident turtles at Le Jardin. The staff carefully maneuvers past them when serving guests. It was hard to believe how fast these turtles move. They moved so quickly that I had a hard time taking the photo.  he turtles are on a constant “crumb patrol” mission.

Today, we’ll venture out again to a French restaurant we found along the way yesterday. Again, the souk will be packed with tourists especially as Spring Break becomes relevant in many parts of the world. However, we’ve yet had to wait for a table at any dining establishment.

At Le Jardin we were given two larger maps that hopefully will assist us in the future. The hostess, speaking excellent English, explained that tourists have trouble finding their restaurant which is tucked away at an unexpected location.

Madame Zahra made us this Moroccan spice-free meal which wasn’t bland at all with her use of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. From left to right, starting at the bread for Tom; sautéed carrots,  chips (fries) for Tom, egg battered sautéed cauliflower (my favorite), sautéed fresh green beans and fried mashed potato puffs for Tom. In the center is the rooftop grilled chicken with both white and dark meat which works well for us; Tom likes the white meat while I prefer the dark. As always, there is more food than we can eat. But, homemade Moroccan cooking consists of many items. 

In two days, on Monday, we’ll go out on a day of sightseeing which we both anticipate with enthusiasm, ending the day at a new-to-us, upscale French restaurant. See… even sightseeing is laced with concerns about FOOD.

Today is our 11 year anniversary of traveling the world…Happy Travel Anniversary, my love…

View of the houses on the oceanfront in Mirador San Jose, Ecuador, one hour from Manta.

It was 11 years ago today that we began this journey. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. Now, as we research where we are headed next, we wonder, based on health limitations at this point, what is our best move. There is the whole world in front of us, but we’ve already been to those places that appealed to us the most, and now, we must pin down options for the future that meet our current criteria.

The ocean is closer to the house during high tide.

Times have changed over the years. Prices have rapidly escalated for flights, hotels, and holiday homes since the pandemic, and searching for options has become an entirely new ballgame, requiring diligence and patience. In the past few days, we’ve done a lot of research and eventually have to take a break when flying out of Manta is a real challenge. But we carry on, trying off and on until we’re able to pin something down.

A kind, well-intentioned reader wrote that it may make sense for me to focus on getting fit while here, and I appreciate the sentiment. But, with rainy, cloudy weather, I am not motivated to use the pool. My walking ability is limited, as mentioned, and I cannot walk even short distances. Once the weather improves, I will walk in the pool and see if that helps.

The chaise lounges for a sunny day for some vitamin D.

He also suggested I write a cookbook using the locally available foods, and again, I appreciate the good intention. Still, I have no desire to write a book after writing 4085 posts in the past 11 years. I spend enough time sitting at my computer, and spending more time writing a book, especially when we have an imminent need to research, doesn’t appeal to me.

But I appreciate our reader, who’s simply coming up with suggestions on how to enjoy our time better here. In the past few days, as we’ve become more settled, we’ve overcome the hurdle of how we’ll spend our time, and now, as we plan for the future, we are content and finding ways to enjoy our surroundings. No more angst, thanks to the help from our owner/landlord, Igor, who addressed our issues with speed and diligence.

The house is on a steep rocky hill. To get down to this sidewalk, one must walk about 1/2 mile to a stairway going down.

I think I freaked out once we arrived. I was stuck in a state of Afib for the first four days. In this state, it’s easy to panic and feel stressed, which, of course, only makes matters worse, but it is challenging to psyche oneself out of it when it feels like birds are flying around in your chest. Plus, it wasn’t very comforting to think it might never stop, which happens to many with the condition.

Now, after a week on the miraculous drug, I am Afib-free and was able to reduce the dose in half in the past two days, which I take at night, and it just so happens to make me sleep better. Whew! I am hopeful. I have enough pills left to make it through our remaining time in Ecuador, with about ten doses remaining until we get somewhere where I can buy more. So far, we haven’t found a pharmacy that carries them, but we will try a few when we get to Manta in about three weeks.

It’s unlikely we’ll use this brick charcoal grill on the right in this photo. The interior is in rough condition and would require some work to make it usable.

Once we get to Manta, we’ll also swap out the rental car for another and do our grocery shopping, this time away from downtown. Loading the groceries was a hassle for Tom while in the center of town.

Today, the cleaning person was here. I failed to buy cleaning supplies when we shopped, but fortunately, I had a bottle of plain vinegar that Maria used. She just left and did an excellent job. It is such a relief we don’t have to do the cleaning ourselves. The fact that we are tidy helps keep the place clean in the interim.

A tree in the pool area.

As for our anniversary today, there’s nothing on the agenda other than our filet mignon dinner tonight. Tom, as always, will have rice with his steak tonight; I’ll have sliced avocado on the side. Perfect. We don’t have any wine, beer, or cognac (Tom’s favorite) to share a toast. But that’s OK. Maybe tomorrow night, when we head to Kokomo again (they are supposed to be open on Wednesdays for $5 burger night), we can share a toast. We’ll see how that goes.

Have a fantastic Tuesday. We plan to.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 31, 2013:

Walking on the beach on the Indian Ocean yesterday afternoon, Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf.
I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. Look! You can see shadows as I’m taking the photo. I’m too busy to edit photos right now! For more photos, please click here.

Day 2…The Galapagos Islands…Celebrity Xploration…The staff, the ship, the food, the guests…amazing, along with the wildlife…The hard reality we’ve had to face…

The skeleton of a washed ashore whale.

Note: With this many photos today, the paragraph spacing is off and unable to be corrected. But, we thought the photos were more important than line and paragraph spacing.

The Galapagos Islands are, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating places we’ve visited in the world. The magic and mystery of these islands leave one breathless with awe and wonder. Speaking of breathlessness, it is wonderful to be back at sea level and able to move about while struggling for air. In a matter of minutes after we landed in Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, all the altitude sickness symptoms were gone, and we were so relieved.

A sea lion hovering atop rocks.

In less than a week, we’ll be returning to Quito for the last few days until we fly to Manta and drive to our new home in Ecuador for the next few months. We’ll have to face the altitude issues again, but perhaps it won’t be so bad after our recent exposure. We’ll think about that later.

Sea lions at the rocky shore.

The ship is a catamaran built in 2017, with spacious cabins, dining room, bar, and lounge areas that make socializing easy. The dining room has two large tables for eight, which is perfect for our group of 16. The food is spectacular. The “hotel manager,” Augustin, and the chef met with me yesterday to review my food list. After a short conversation, they understood my requirements and seamlessly followed through.

An iguana was basking in the sun on a rock. The Galápagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) is a very large species of lizard in the family Iguanidae. It is one of three species of the genus Conolophus. It is endemic to the Galápagos Islands in the dry lowlands of the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Baltra, and South Plaza.
A sea lion and pup.

Due to this cruise’s small group of passengers, we’ll eat three times a day, like everyone else. We felt it was rude not to dine with everyone during the three meals and will eat a small amount at lunch to hold us for dinner, which is served at 7:00 pm.

The pup was suckling from its mother.
Beautiful scenery. The shape of this island reminded us of a crocodile.

Last night, at dinner, we had a great time and later made our way up the steep steps (almost a ladder) to the bar area. Tom hung onto me to ensure I didn’t fall, and we did fine. It’s good that we don’t drink a lot, or those steps would be hazardous. Luckily, our cabin is located on the main level, where the dining room and lounge are located, one deck below the bar. We have what is referred to as a junior suite, smaller than a hotel room but comfortable with everything we need.

More seal lions at the shore.
Another sea lion and pup.

Oddly, we aren’t allowed to put used loo paper into the loo. This is a first for us. There is a trash can near the loo. It took a few times to get used to that, but now we are OK with complying. The pristine nature of these islands, owned, loved, and protected by the Ecuadorian country, is observed with strict rules and regulations.

This bird is contemplating eating this pelican’s catch.
The pelican with its catch.
The bird and pelican contemplate who gets the fish.

We fully appreciate their commitment to protecting the environment and its outstanding wildlife population and vegetation, unlike anywhere else besides Antarctica, which we visited in 2018 to discover the same attention to detail in protecting the wildlife and environment.

The pelican with his catch of the day. Then, the little bird grabbed the fish, and the pelican swam away.

Now for the hard-to-write news, I’ve been putting off for over a week… A week ago Friday, in our hotel room in Eden Prairie, my legs gave out, and I fell, tripping over my own feet and landing on my face, a typical “face plant.” My nose bled profusely for an hour, and I had rug burns on my nose, under my eye, and my cheek. Immediately, Tom made ice packs for me, which prevented me from getting two black eyes. Fortunately, we had no plans the next day, and I could continue to ice it.

Sea lions like to sleep next to one another or against a structure.
Zoom in to see the expression on this sea lion’s face.

When we finally went out, I was able to cover up the injuries with makeup, so it wasn’t obvious. Gosh, someone could have thought Tom and I got into a fistfight. We are the least likely couple to do so, neither of us ever behaving violently, let alone fighting.

The Sally Lightfoot Crab is an unmistakably vibrant Galapagos character. Their striking colors make them extremely photogenic against the black lava rocks they call home and popular with visitors. Sally Lightfoot crabs boast a wonderful ability to walk on water – with just a quick hop, skip and jump to escape from danger. They are also one of the most frequently spotted creatures on Galapagos shores. Crabs may not sound especially exciting, but check out the photos below in this blog, and we think you’ll change your mind!
A cute little sea lion resting on the beach.

I didn’t want to write about this since I realize I’m often whinging about my medical issues here and didn’t want to “complain” further. But now, the harsh reality is before us on this ship, impacting both of us immensely.

It is forbidden to take a single shell from the beach.

The two surgeries on each of my legs left me with nerve damage in both legs. Over time and with aging, this has only worsened to the point where I am having tremendous difficulty walking long distances, on uneven terrain, and on occasion, even on the carpet in a hotel room.

Sea lions at the shore.

We had booked this cruise before this situation worsened to the degree it is now. I have trouble walking, maneuvering around furniture, and any obstacles that may be in my way. Subsequently, after considerable discussions, there is no way I can go out on the excursions on the Zodiac boats to the various islands with the terrain consisting of volcanic rock, small rocks, pebbles, and up and downhill climbs. It’s just not possible.

Sea lions can sleep up to 12 hours at a time. They can also stay underwater for days at a time before coming up for air. They are thigmotactic, meaning they love to lie all over each other — their natural state on K-Dock. And they love to nuzzle each other.
A sea lion family was hanging out on the beach.

As a result, Tom will go out on all the excursions and take photos of the wildlife, vegetation, and scenery. When he returns, he shares the photos and details for me to share with all of you here. Am I miserable about this? No, it’s been coming gradually over the past few years, and as always, I’ve adapted as we always do.

It is thought that the magnificent frigatebirds found in the Galapagos are an endemic subspecies in the islands. Characteristics of the Galapagos Frigate …

Sure, I can maneuver about the ship, but it is tentatively so, especially when the ship is moving in rough waters. Sure, I’ll be able to grocery shop, cook, and be active about the house when we move along in nine days. Yes, I can do short walks wherever we may be to get some exercise, but only on flat surfaces. This is my reality. I can live with it. Nor does it impede our desire to continue on. We’ll have to make some adjustments—enough about that.

Sunset in The Galapagos last night.

Starting tomorrow, we will begin posting information about The Galapagos Islands and stop focusing on my issues. Thank you for your ongoing understanding, warm wishes, and patience as we begin a new way of traveling considering these disabilities.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 15, 2013:

A mating couple of lions in the Maasai Mara. We were thrilled to see nature at its finest. For more, please click here.

Day 4…Greenland Cruise…Sea day…Unusual events on the ship…Cruise food photos

My dish from two nights ago consisted of various seafood on a bed of steamed cabbage.

This morning, the ship’s captain announced that an ill passenger was being airlifted off the ship by a helicopter. Since the helipad was located at the bow of the ship but from our cabin’s location, we couldn’t see it and take a photo. Sadly, a passenger would have to go through such a frightening ordeal.

It’s a terrifying thought to be lifted from a basket (Tom heard the basket was used in this case) onto the helicopter to be airlifted to a hospital somewhere in Iceland. Hopefully, such patients will have suitable travel insurance. Otherwise, the cost can be prohibitive, often hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Next story…a man aboard the ship stole another passenger’s “sea pass” card, which is linked to a credit card in every case. The thief used the woman’s card to make massive purchases in the jewelry shop aboard the ship. When the woman encountered the man she was told was the perpetrator, a fight ensued, and she slapped him.

Cobb salad was made for me on the Azamara cruise only days ago.

The thief and the woman who hit him were removed from the ship. We don’t know what happened after that. But what an odd thing to transpire on a cruise. It’s been interesting to hear the varying opinions on how this occurred and the subsequent results.

Last night, again, we dined at a “sharing” table by heading into the main dining room by 6:00 pm. That’s a bit early for us to eat, but we love sitting at a shared table with other passengers, some we may have met and others new to us. Invariably, In most cases, the conversation is entertaining and lively.

The food on this ship isn’t as spectacular as it was on Azamara, but it’s been fine, and we have no complaints. The menu is less comprehensive than Azamara, but the taste and presentation are good, and the restaurant manager pays special attention to ensure my food is prepared correctly.

The issues I often experience are too much butter on everything and not enough seasoning. For some odd reason, the cooks think seasoning is out of the question for my way of eating, which is hardly the case. Last night, I stressed the importance of reducing the amount of butter I don’t need or want and the addition of seasonings, as long as they don’t contain starch, fillers, or wheat. That simply means spices are in their natural state, not highly processed.

Tom’s chicken rigatoni pasta was reminiscent of his lockdown dinners in India of chicken penne pasta in 2020. He said this version wasn’t as creamy and good as he’d had then.

Today is a sea day. Seating around the ship is limited right now, but we got a good seat at Cafe al Bacio and enjoyed a few cups of their fantastic coffee drinks, sugar-free for me and regular for Tom. It’s a pleasure to sit there when passengers often join us at our table for four minutes to engage in lively chatter. It’s pretty enjoyable.

We are having a great time. We are undoubtedly enjoying this cruise as much as the Azamara. I asked Tom which one he preferred, and he said they are equal in the amount of fun we’re having and the amenities we’re experiencing. I agree. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 21, 2013:

Three-legged lizard in the house. For more photos, please click here.

Five days and counting…A food favorite once again…What?…Ironing clothes?…

Making the layers of the bread-free subway sandwich while in Italy in 2013. More details are below in other photos

Note: Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2013. Please click here.

Yes, I know. We’ve written about these bread-free sandwiches, over and over again, which we call an “unwhich,” as they do at Jimmy John’s restaurants in the US. But here we are, bringing it up again today with preparation instructions in photos with captions. We frequently have new readers and thought they might enjoy seeing the photos. Sorry about that to our long-term readers.

Slice fresh tomatoes, purple (or yellow) onions, and washed and dried romaine lettuce as you prepare the sandwich.

It came up again when I researched the “ten-year-ago photo” at the end of today’s post. Lacking any new photos, I decided to post the details of how to make these bread-free sandwiches based on our positive feedback over the years. Most countries have bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, mayo, and deli meat of one sort or another.

This sliced Emmental cheese or sliced Provolone cheese seems to add more flavor to the sandwich. Try to avoid using overly processed American or cheddar cheese. Italy has no orange-colored cheddar cheese due to the dyes used to color it. That’s impressive!

However, during our most recent 2½ years in South Africa, we never found full-leaf romaine lettuce, only small pieces of the lettuce in ready-to-use bags. Instead, we used head lettuce, carefully removing, washing, and drying the large exterior leaves to make the sandwiches. That worked ok for us.

Place the meats on a plate in preparation for assembling the sandwich. This mayonnaise is the best mayo we’ve ever used, with no chemicals and few ingredients.

As for deli meats which may not be available in some countries, we used thinly sliced, cooked chicken breasts and sliced cooked roast beef without a bone. In some countries, the ingredients in deli meat may be less than desirable for the health conscience, so it was essential for us to read all the ingredients when buying deli meats, even in the US.

Italy has the best bacon we’ve had anywhere in the world.

Although there isn’t a nearby Costco store with excellent quality deli meat without fillers, wheat, or gluten, we could purchase quality deli meats from Kroger delivery. As a result, when we made these “unwiches” last week, we were pleased with the quality of the ingredients. But, we do not buy highly processed meats such as Oscar Meyer, etc., often sold at low prices with dozens of ingredients on the label.

Place the turkey or chicken slices atop the lettuce, and cover with tomatoes, onion, bacon, and mayo. Then add other preferred meats and cheeses.

It has been a busy day so far today. As I write here, it’s almost 2:00 pm, and I’ve been running around the house doing more laundry and ironing some of Tom’s shirts. Most of his short sleeve button-up shirts are wash and wear, but he has three Tommy Hilfiger shirts that require ironing, regardless of how I washed and dried them.

Tom set up the iron and ironing board from the laundry room, and I proceeded to iron and attempt to neatly fold the three shirts, placing each shirt in a large Ziplock bag. Hopefully, they’ll stay wrinkle-free after being packed for the cruises. As for the remainder of his shirts, which are pretty much wrinkle-free, I will neatly fold them without too much fuss, and then he’ll do the rest of his packing.

Place the cheese atop the tomatoes, adding the mayonnaise using a spatula or wide knife.

I hadn’t ironed anything in years and wasn’t as good at it as I once was. While I was at it, I ironed one of my shirts which I set aside for when we’re at the upcoming hotel in Edinburgh or on the cruise, and hopefully, they’ll have one of those little sewing kits.

One of my favorites; it has a hole in the side seam. I had one of those little sewing kits, but it didn’t have the right thread color to make the repair. I am not much of a seamstress and never have been. Occasionally, I’ve repaired a few of our clothing items. Last month, Tom lost a button on his favorite shorts. After finding it, he asked if I could sew it back on. I did, and it’s holding so far.

Ham slices in Italy are different than deli ham slices in other countries, fattier, have no nitrates, and are less flavorful than ham slices in the US. In our sandwiches, we don’t use Italian salami. It was too fatty for our taste buds and greasy on the tongue. One can add or delete any items in this sandwich. But the most important for maximum flavor is bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise. Sliced roast beef also works well when available. We would have purchased it yesterday, but it was US $42 a pound, so we were content with the ham and sliced chicken.

It sounds as if we have very distinct gender roles in our lives. But, we both decided long ago we’ll each perform tasks we find we have the most ability and experience. I cook. Tom does the dishes. Tom does all the heavy lifting, and I do the laundry. Neither of us feels the tasks aren’t divided equitably, nor do we hesitate to ask if we need help with one of our regular tasks.

Also, today, I cooked and diced a huge bag of frozen chicken breasts and diced onions and celery for tomorrow’s dinner of chicken salad, to which we’ll add a big mixed greens salad on the side. Soon the boiled eggs will be cooled enough, and Tom will peel all the eggs, which he always does to help. Tomorrow, I’ll make the dressings for both salads, tossing them right before dinner, and we’ll be good to go for the next few nights.

Cover everything with large romaine lettuce leaves and wrap tightly with parchment paper. We have been wrapping the sandwiches in heavy-duty tin foil, which seems easier to handle and stay together while eating.

Tomorrow, the packing begins, so we can ship the extra bag to Minnesota. We’ll have plenty of clothes and supplies for when we leave Minnesota and head to South America in October. All is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 23, 2013:

The final product is tightly wrapped, ready to chill and enjoy with a side salad and steamed vegetables. For more, please click here.

Six days and counting…Ordering food delivered by Grubhub…

Difficult to distinguish in this distant photo…two male lions were sleeping.

Note: Today’s photos are from Marloth Park on this date in 2018. Please see the link here.

Last night, after a pleasant dinner at Cody’s, we headed back home and discussed that it was our last night dining out in The Villages. Instead, we’d order takeaway Chinese food for tonight and tomorrow and then cook our remaining food in the freezer Monday through Thursday.

This morning, I perused Grubhub for options that work for us. As most of us know, delivery food can be sketchy at best, especially when ordering from restaurants we don’t know. In The Villages, our best bet has been ordering Asian food, but we’ve been frustrated with the prices through Grubhub.

When we ordered Asian food through Grubhub for two nights, the cost was around $100. Considering it’s less than what we’d pay to dine out for two nights, we went ahead and placed our orders on three or four occasions, never disappointed with the food, only the cost, which seemed high to us.

This morning, I decided to compare costs if we ordered from the  China Gourmet Asian Restaurant in Colony Plaza, which supposedly has equally good food as Sunrise Asian, which we can’t get to by golf cart. But it’s about 10 minutes to Colony Plaza by golf cart.

Tom spotted this lion napping across the Crocodile River as we peered through the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

We placed our usual order for enough food for both nights, and the total bill was $55 (after a $5 coupon offered by the restaurant) instead of the usual $100 we’ve paid in the past. Grubhub charges a service fee as shown below:

Grubhub Order Sunrise Asian (no delivery fee due to a one-year coupon we received).

Delivery fee $0.00
Service fee $8.95
Tax $6.27
Driver tip $10.00
Total $114.74
China Gourmet pickup order 
Same items ordered as Grubhub order
TOTAL $55.00

Good grief. We should have checked this out earlier and saved over $200 based on several prior delivery orders through Grubhub. The ordering process wasn’t quite as easy at China Gourmet, and Tom will go pick up the food soon, but it’s certainly worth saving $59.74 to drive the cart for about 20 minutes round trip. It will make us think twice about placing online orders through Grubhub and other such services, especially when we are in the US, where prices are higher.

When we were stuck in two hotels for two weeks, one in Southampton and another in Gatwick, England when we had Covid-19 in 2022, we had no choice but to order through Grubhub and Ubereats. The prices were high there, but the food was good, considering what we could eat while sick.

Today, I am washing all of Tom’s shirts since many have been sitting in a closet for a long time, even as far back as when we were in South Africa. He wears a favorite few repeatedly, leaving the others gathering dust in the closet. Hopefully, they’ll come out of the dryer without wrinkles, but I’ll use the wrinkle-free setting and see how that goes. I’ll only dry three shirts at a time to see how it goes, folding them neatly when done so they’ll be ready for his suitcase.

A female bushbuck was preparing to take a drink from the cement pond.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thank you for your continued support and readership!

Be well

Photo from ten years ago today, July 22, 2013:

There was no photo posted on this date in 2013. For the story about getting stung by a potentially dangerous flying insect, please click here.

US conveniences…More houseguests coming…More food photos…

Tom has been enjoying the food in the US. Look at his breakfast at Bob Evans yesterday morning! He was so full; he didn’t have dinner.

For some odd reason, I feel lazy today. Perhaps, it’s a result of a lack of sleep. I awoke at 3:15 am and had an awful time getting back to sleep. Finally, around 5:00 am, I dozed off for another hour, and that was it for the day. Once up, showered, and dressed for the day, we embarked on our usual walk. Upon our return, I worked on this post before I eventually made scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon for breakfast.

Now, I am sitting on the leather loveseat in the living room while Tom works on his computer on the matching leather sofa. It’s all very comfortable. The house is cool since the owner told us we could leave the central aircon running day and night. It is preset for days at 78° and 72° at night.

I forgot to tell the waitress to cook my omelet in butter instead of gobs of oil. I didn’t enjoy it.

These preset temps are perfect for us. As it heats up as the summer progresses, we may have to change it. But, for now, it’s working well. Also, there are ceiling fans in the bedroom and living room which, when added to the aircon, provide additional cooling.

It’s so easy here. The clothes dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, and big TV in the living room, where we can stream shows from my laptop using our HDMI cord, make life convenient. Having a chest of drawers for each of us and a large walk-in closet is a bonus. It’s nice being able to hang all of our clothes in the roomy closet, whereas in the past, in many holiday homes, we had small closets with only enough room to hang jackets.

The drive to Colony Plaza was pleasant riding in the golf cart. It’s the closest shopping area to us and takes about 15 minutes.

Many holiday homes have “cubbies” to keep clothes, but they tend to get messy when digging through them looking for something specific. The abundance of electric outlets we can use with our digital equipment is also a huge plus. Most often, in other countries, we’re using converters and adapters.

It’s easy dining out. The US is familiar with keto diets, and they have several options on the menus that can work for me. Also, it’s easy in the grocery stores to find most products we use for my way of eating. Plus, the wine options are many, and now that I can drink regular wine, it’s easy to choose a favorite at each location.

We entered two tunnels via golf cart to Colony Plaza, where we dropped off the packet of documents for the passport agent to complete our file and went to breakfast.

Right now, I am thoroughly enjoying William Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not experiencing any Afib issues drinking a maximum of two glasses on any evening when we’re out and about. Once I got off the allergy meds, I haven’t had any signs of Afib, which has been an enormous relief. I check my blood pressure every few days and can see my pulse on my Fitbit at any time. Whew!

We heard from friends Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met on a cruise from Sydney to Seattle in 2017 and hit it off the moment we met. They own a home in Florida over five hours from here. They will be staying with us for one night on June 19. They’ve been traveling extensively since we met, and it will be fun to hear about their travels.

Tom and I laugh that riding in the golf carts is similar to driving those noisy cars at Disneyland and Disney World.

We’ve all agreed to go out to dinner when Lea Ann and Chuck arrive since going to one of the restaurants in the unique town squares will be fun. This way, I won’t have to cook a big meal but will make a dessert when we return to the house. It will be lovely, we’re sure, as it’s been with all of the other houseguests we’ve had so far.

Today, we’re working on projects on our laptops. With the house cleaned yesterday, it’s a breeze today. All we had to do was make the bed, cook breakfast, and clean up afterward. Later today, we’ll freshen up and get ready to go out tonight. We’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square around 4:00 pm for drinks and dinner, returning to the house while it’s still light outside.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 2, 2013:

No photos were posted on this date ten years ago. At that point in time, we weren’t as diligent in posting photos as we are now. A post was uploaded on this date. In a short period, you’ll see more photos in this feature. Please click here.

Our last visit to Kruger National Park, this time around…

Finally, one of the hippos exited the Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

With time flying by quickly toward our departure date on April 29, and finally, with the holidaymakers gone and crowds thinning out, we decided to head to Kruger National Park today when we awoke to perfect weather. The sun was shining with a few clouds, low humidity, and no rain predicted.

By 8:30 am, we were out the door and on our way to the Crocodile Bridge entrance, an easy 20-minute drive. Since the school holidays had ended on Tuesday, we expected to see few vehicles in the park but were surprised by the number of vehicles accumulating whenever there was a sighting of any wildlife.

Hippos are always fun to watch, but waiting for that open-mouth shot can mean hours of waiting. Tom isn’t patient enough to wait for such an event.

Our expectations were low to avoid disappointment, and we were wise with that state of mind. We didn’t experience a single outrageously exciting sighting, but we were content with what we saw, taking photos of simple and familiar scenes we’ve encountered many times in the past.

However, the drive was lovely, and the breakfast at Mugg & Bean was predictable, with its usual less-than-stellar service. We each ordered omelets, and Tom had his usual strawberry shake with two pieces of white toast (his one slice plus mine), the thinnest slices of bread we’d ever seen, to which he added butter and strawberry jam. I had decaf coffee with real cream. Again, our expectations weren’t high, and we weren’t disappointed.

This fish eagle posed for this photo.

After breakfast, we headed to Sunset Dam, where we encountered a few good sightings but nothing spectacular. So please bear with our less-than-exciting photos of scenes along the way during the four hours we spent in Kruger National Park.

Back at the house by 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs., we had only a few tasks on hand for the remainder of the day. I’d already made tonight’s salad before we left the house and had defrosted tonight’s chicken in the refrigerator overnight. At dinnertime, I will cook the chicken, to which we’ll add the salad and Tom’s white rice. After dinner, we’ll have a piece of the keto strawberry cake I made yesterday, which was delightful.

We encountered several zebras on the move.

Besides making the rest of dinner, I only had to do today’s post and update our expense reports after uploading the post. This evening’s time on the veranda will be comfortable with the temperature so tolerable. This morning, Nina and Natalie stopped by before we left, but nowhere was Norman in sight. We haven’t seen him since last Friday, although we saw that many photos had been posted on Facebook with his image.

The holidaymakers were feeding him something extraordinary to keep him away from the mundane healthy vegetables, fruit, and pellets we offer. Hopefully, later today, he’ll stop by. Many other animals have visited in the past 24 hours as the holidaymakers left Marloth Park.

The first wildlife we spotted was a solitary giraffe hidden behind a bush.

I haven’t started packing yet, feeling I don’t need to start making a mess until next week, although I have been paying a lot of attention to our food supply and analyzing items we’ll take and other items we’ll leave behind. I could pack everything in one day if I had to, but I always like to prepare well before our departure date.

Next week, I will begin. Tom only needs to pack his clothes and the digital equipment, while I will figure out what to take and what to leave in the totes for our return in 14 months. I am not stressed by this at all. I never get stressed about packing and unpacking. My only concern is that we remain within the airlines’ weight restrictions on any particular flight.

More Kruger photos will follow in days to come. That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2022:

They brought me this when I asked for some grilled fish for dinner on the cruise. Chef Gordon Ramsay would have been horrified if he had been served such a dish. For more photos, please click here.