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 Kataks 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 for 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.
Its no wonder prepared meals are readily available in 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, its not a lot different for the cooks.  In perusing Part 2 of the menu posted today with choices of dinners and desserts, its 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 variety in time.
Dinner menu, Page 5.
Today, Monday, we devised the menu for the week, although the two Kataks don’t require 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. 
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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 nights 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 at 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…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 in to 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 Kataks, 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 Kataks 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 Kataks 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 gown 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 which 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.

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 pm to prepare dinner.

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 according 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. 

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, its working when I’ve had no ill effects. 

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.

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 top right side of any day’s post).

Lunch menu, Page 6.

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

Happy Mother’s Day today for all the mom in this part of the world where its 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!

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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.

 

Travel Tips for Wildlife Photographers around the World….

Maasai Mara in Kenya
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot?  We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Note: Today’s lengthy post is #4 of 5 required for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Today’s post is not intended to be a photographic instruction piece. Your personal equipment isn’t a point of discussion for our purposes here. Also, I will preface that I am not a photographic expert, by any means. Preparing 3000 posts over these past years has been our primary focus. As much as we’ve loved sharing our photos, becoming experts in photo-taking simply wasn’t a goal of ours. Others may say it should have been.

But, our worldwide journey has been wrapped around our goal of doing and being whoever we chose to be, at any given time, as we’ve scoured the world, not necessarily doing and being what is expected of us. Sure, great skills in photography would have been an asset, Somehow, my interest in acquiring those skills has not been at the forefront of my mind. We are merely typical travelers, who happen to hold a camera in our hands, excited to share what we see through our eyes, not a perfect, perhaps edited version of what treasures we behold.

More so, our somewhat simple goal has been to share with our family/readers/friends inspirations that which we’ve gleaned from our eight years of non-stop world travel (barring the over six months we’ve been stuck in a hotel room in Mumbai, India while in lockdown, due to COVID-19). Thus, our topic of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is more about the “where,” the “what,” and the “when” to take photos of wildlife, as opposed to the instructive mode of “how.”

older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk
In most cases, we were within 25 feet of any of the animals in our photos. Notice, this older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. Our guide assumed this old male to be around 60 years old, close to his life expectancy. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

No doubt, some of today’s travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world will include a portion of the “how” when positioning yourself and your subject for the ideal shot, not necessarily the perfect shot. It may be a shot that bespeaks your passion, as it has with us, for animals in the wild and then, those that may not be in the wild which are equally fascinating and photo-worthy.

Why write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?…

Unable to take photos these past many months, we’d decided early on in this confinement to take advantage of the thousands of photos we’ve posted throughout the past eight years and share them once again. This provided us with fodder for our daily uploads while fulfilling the expectation of our years-long reader throughout the world. Only early on in our journey in 2012, we failed to post photos, a time when we had virtually no experience in using a camera and little interest in learning to do so.

No more than a few days into our journey, we realized, a few shots here and there, taken using our phones, just wasn’t going to be sufficient. We purchased a small-sized Samsung point and shoot when I thought it was kind of “cute” since the exterior was pink. Over the years, we purchased a few upgrades from the first purchase we made while at a port of call on our first cruise at a Walmart store in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. .Oh, good grief! We had no clue how to use it!

Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites
Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin as is the case of this kudu. Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

Had other world travelers written such a post describing travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, we may have checked it out. But, in 2012, there were few people online doing what we have been doing; traveling the world for years to come, without a home, without storage, with only the items in our then overweight luggage (we’ve since improved that scenario), intent on finding appropriate wildlife subjects in most countries in their itinerary.

Had we discovered such a site that emphatically stated we had to learn all the features of a camera and how to use them, I may have looked the other way, Tom included. Comparable to our lack of interest in bungee jumping, learning the nuances of a camera wasn’t in our wheelhouse. We just weren’t interested.

So, today, for the first time ever in almost 3000 posts, which we’ll achieve in less than 30 days, (within two days of our eight-year travel anniversary), we’ll be delighted to share what we’ve learned for the where, the what, and the when, of taking photos that may not be perfect, but will hopefully fill your hearts with blissful memories of places you’ve been and wildlife you’ve been blessed to see and experience, both in the wild and elsewhere.

wildlife photographers around the world
Finding the rarely seen Colobus Monkey put me on a photo-taking frenzy. The photo was taken in Diani Beach, Kenya.

The “where” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

It’s been these very photos, that prompted us to write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, that may include the more experienced photographer and also those, who, like us at one point, could barely figure out how to use the flash or the zoom, let alone more complicated settings.

When we decided to travel the world early in 2012, ten months later we were ready to go, having sold every worldly possession while booking two years into the future to provide us with peace of mind in knowing we had a place to live wherever we traveled. In the process, we kept in mind our preferences, not only in regard to the type of life we wanted to live, the type of property we wanted to live in, but also the surroundings we craved.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park, South Africa
We waited patiently and mom stood while the baby sat up on her/his hind end, nose touching mom. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

What appealed most to our tastes and desires were a few vital factors:

  1. Beautiful surroundings and scenery, when possible
  2. An abundance of nature within easy reach
  3. Access to experiencing wildlife and other animals on a daily basis, if possible
    wildlife photographer in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
    This Laysan Albatross parent and chick sit close to one another until the chick becomes more confident and the parents feel more at ease. In time, the chick will be left behind on its own to fledge, most likely five to six months later. At five years of age, they will return with a mate and begin the life cycle all over again. The photo was taken in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.

Utmost in our travels, access to wildlife became more and more important to us, as time continued on. We’d seen all the historic buildings, churches, and structures, to satisfy a lifetime. We’d dined in excellent restaurants befitting my way of eating. We shopped in unique local markets, adapting to available foods and resources, We experienced the nuances of cultural differences from that which we’d known in our old lives and met countless people everywhere we traveled.

But, as far as travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, where one chooses to go is of the utmost importance. In Dubai, we were disappointed with little wildlife, other than camels, available for photo-taking, as well as in Morocco. We went wild with delight over the vast array of birds in Costa Rica. We loved shepherding sheep on a farm in England. And, we giggled at a pig farm in Tasmania, Australia.

wildlife photographer in New Plymouth New Zealand
Alpacas are excellent photo subjects. The photo was taken on an alpaca farm in New Plymouth New Zealand.

In Madeira, Portugal, we saw dolphins and whales while on a catamaran tour out to sea. In Hawaii, the birds, whales, and other sea creatures were in abundance. In Antarctica, we were in heaven with the sheer numbers of penguins, killer whales, elephant seals, and birds, let alone the scenery beyond our wildest dreams.

It all boils down to what you’d like to accomplish in your travels. If wildlife is your top priority, it’s important to conduct research to determine if the location you’re hoping to visit has an abundance of wildlife. Many countries we’d assumed would be rife with wild animals were not necessarily the case when the only means of taking photos of very elusive animals was while on a planned safari.

No doubt, we’ve been on safari no less than 100 times over the past years; some guided tours, some with a private guide, and many of our own as “self-drives” through national parks. In each of these cases, one must be prepared to be patient and accept the reality that, at times, you may not be able to take a single photo of the more elusive animals and only see the usual plentiful antelopes and birds.

wildlife photographer in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
We were in a Toyota Land Cruiser with open sides, 25 feet from the lion. Much to our surprise we never felt frightened or at risk at close-range to any of these big animals, including this massive male lion who gave us a great show. In the background in the carcass of a zebra, this lion savored for lunch. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

For birdwatching enthusiasts, almost every country has a plethora of birds presenting countless photo ops. Taking photos of birds in flight requires definitive camera skills, not every amateur photographer possesses as has been the case for me in most scenarios. However, some of our favorite photos are of the Laysan Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, and of course, in the millions of penguins in Antarctica, a photographer’s dream come true.

In researching possible destinations, important travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is to determine how important multitudes of photos are to you or if a select number will satisfy your needs and curiosity. For us, with our daily posts, taking tens of thousands of photos each year, the numbers of decent shots are important. For the average traveler, returning home with 100 good shots may be totally fulfilling. It’s important to decide where you are on the spectrum.

The “what” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

Amid all the decisions in deciding on locations, one must define what is most important for you to see and photograph. If lions are at the top of your list, Africa is by far, the most opportune continent to visit, especially if choosing to stay for a while. But, not every country in Africa is safe to visit, nor is there an abundance of lions easily accessed in some countries in Africa.

wildlife photographer in Atenas, Costa Rica
Tom’s photo. What a shot of the classic “Froot Loops” cereal (per Tom) Toucan, technically known as the Rainbow-billed Toucan, aka the Keel-billed Toucan. The photo was taken in Atenas, Costa Rica.

We chose Kenya and South Africa as one of our many goals in seeing lions. When it came to tigers we knew India was our best option. We were never disappointed in each of these countries. There are 13 countries where tigers may be spotted, but for us, India proved to have the best opportunities to encounter them in the wild.

At this point, we should mention, animals in zoos and wildlife facilities do not fulfill our objectives. If that were the case, one could simply visit a zoo in their hometown or home country. For us, the wild aspect has been a top priority when we have distinct opinions we won’t share here today about wild animals locked in cages or small enclosures.

That’s not to say, many rehabilitation centers throughout the world may have excellent open spaces for wildlife with the intent of eventually releasing them back into the wild, when possible. We have visited many of these, some of which we’ve found rewarding, providing excellent photo ops as shown in our past posts.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park
Impalas have exquisite markings on their faces and bodies. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park.

We’d never have seen a Tasmanian Devil in Tasmania if we hadn’t visited a rehab center, other than the sad roadkill we observed in the mornings. We’ve yet to see one of the more elusive nocturnal animals in the wild, the endangered pangolin. Hopefully, someday we’ll have that opportunity.

Each traveler(s) must decide for themselves, “the what” is most befitting their goals and objectives when returning home, or in continuing on a year’s long journey such as ours with a litany of photos exciting and memorable to savor over the years to come.

The “when” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world…

There are three important questions one may ask themselves in regard to the “when” of taking photos of wildlife. For most, they include:

  1. When is the best time in life to embark on such a journey? Only each individual, couple, or family can make that determination based on specific lifestyle, travel budget, work constraints, and worthy of mention, general health. It’s important to note, that embarking on a safari for hours at a time on bumpy dirt roads with potholes, with fast unanticipated turns could be difficult for some. Also, climbing in and out of the jeep-type vehicles may be extremely challenging for those with certain physical conditions, advanced age, or lack of mobility. This is not an experience for those who could become distressed during a “rough and tumble” experience. Also, individuals with severe back or neck problems could find a safari unbearable. If time is limited, the experience may equally be limited. Many choose a one or two-day safari, as part of a bigger trip and find themselves disappointed, unable to have seen, and taken photos of some of their personal favorites.
  2. When is the best time of the year to see and photograph wildlife? This varies by the area of each country you choose to visit. Research is imperative to determine the best seasons for viewing wildlife. Often rainy seasons are less desirable. Most often the best seasons are during the heat of the hottest time of the year. This is important to know if you are sensitive to the thought of sitting in an open-air vehicle while on safari. Although, there are many safari companies that have enclosed air-conditioned vehicles that may be more suitable for those individuals, although taking photos will be restricted in such vehicles. If you’re interested in the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, that eventful experience only occurs in the fall months and must be timed perfectly to witness the five million animals traversing the Serengeti and the Mara River over and over again. Here again, research is imperative.
  3. When is the best time to snap the shot to acquire the best possible photo? When it comes to taking photos of wildlife, timing is everything. This has been an area we both feel we have found most rewarding, as our skills increased over the years. Patience and perseverance are the keys to this aspect. At times, we’ve sat still quietly for 20 or 30 minutes to acquire the best photo. Also, being aware of when to click the shutter is vital for the best possible photo of your chosen subject.
    the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck
    Notice the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

In conclusion…

Many of our photos posted here today will illustrate, in part, our use of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world. They aren’t perfect, but for us, they have fulfilled our desire to create a memory that will easily endure through our lifetime and for those that follow us, for theirs.

If as a photographer, you’ve been able to learn and develop comprehensive photographic skills, it will only add to your pleasure and fulfillment. Perhaps, in time we may choose to fine-tune our skills, but for now, the spontaneous and heartfelt representations of those animals we’ve discovered in the wild, on farms, and in rescue facilities, has provided us both with exactly that which we hoped to achieve as we traveled the world over the past eight years.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2019:

ocean in Torquay, Devon
It was wonderful to see the ocean once again in Torquay, Devon. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #167 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Lots of commotion around here today…

Day #167 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Lots of commotion around here today…

The first day we met Nancy, one of the daytime support staff at our guarded gate. She was so sweet, holding my hand the entire time we chatted with her. She kindly took the photo of Tom and I. We’re loving being able to talk to the locals.

Today’s photos are from our first stay in Africa in Diani Beach, Kenya  in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

This morning when I commenced my first walk of the day, I found that a huge section of the corridor was roped off by one of the three elevators (lifts). I walked up to that point, curious as to why it was roped off. It took me seven times up and back from that point to our door, to walk ½ the distance I usually walk each hour.

There we were at last,  in Kenya, Africa, hot and sweaty as we embarked on our first walk outside the gated complex, onto the main road, definitely a daytime event only.

Respecting the ropes I continued back and forth until I completed my first mile (1.6 km) for the day, knowing I had four more such rounds to go to do my usual five miles, (8 km). It was more boring than ever. The usual full walk in the corridors is boring enough as is returning to our room to await the next hour’s walk.

Thus today, instead of walking non-stop for the full mile each hour, I’d walk twice an hour for the full mile, every 30-minutes, setting the timer on my phone as a reminder. This way, I am getting up and moving around more frequently rather than sitting in one position for the hour. Who knows? I might go back to the old way soon enough. But, boredom is dictating that I mix it up as well as increasing my hourly mobility.

The dirt road we walked in our gated community.

But, today, the shorter distance made the walk all the more tedious. While walking, a manager, dressed in a crisp white shirt, tie, and black suit approached, telling me he’d called our room, but we hadn’t answered. I explained Tom was in the shower while I was out walking.

As we began our walk within the gated complex, we saw and heard many local workers working on the house that had been destroyed by a fire in 2009. Hans, our landlord, told us that insurance companies didn’t pay fair claims for the losses so many homeowners endured, ultimately paying out of their own pockets for repairs which often took years to complete.

He’d come looking for us to let us know that the area beyond the theater-type red ropes with the brass stands is intended as a marker to prevent us from going further into the corridor. He explained that 20 guests from the outside world, all from various locations in India would be staying on our floor in the rooms beyond the ropes. All of the hotel’s other floors are booked with guests.

This wall was on our right as we walked along the dirt road within the gated community. Most houses were tucked away behind large stone walls, making it difficult to see the homes in the neighborhood.

As it turns out, these 20 guests will be staying on our floor for five or six nights. I just returned from one of my 10 daily walks to see some of those guests arriving, wheeling their bags, all wearing masks. Several cleaning staff members were down the corridor, from what I could see from my vantage point, along with several well-masked uniformed sanitization workers carrying stainless steel tanks with sprayers to sanitize the rooms.

A protected entrance to a neighboring home.

Of course, we’ll proceed with caution, but this scenario raises a few concerns, such as, how safe will our cleaner be when he arrives to clean our room around 10:40 each morning? And, how safe will our food and room service server be when our food arrives twice a day?

Perhaps, I’m being overly cautious, but I keep hearing stories of people we know and family members who’ve exercised the utmost of caution and still contracted the virus. We could just stay in our room for the next six days and nights, no longer walking the halls, but we haven’t worked this hard to lose some of our stamina from not working out for almost a week.

This statue was in the entryway of the neighboring home.

Also, as of late, I’ve been getting so tired of the dinners, I am considering going to one meal a day, just having breakfast. But, I can’t imagine missing that 30-minute period of dining around 6:00 pm each day. The routine is more important to me than the food. I know I’m eating way too many carbs with the red sauce with my chicken each night. But, without the sauce, the chicken is rubbery and dry.

This massive home was burned out, sold and yet to be repaired, now almost 4 years later.

Whew! We sure could go for a big juicy steak on the grill, cooked rare for me and medium rare for Tom. Can’t wait for that first meal along with a huge salad of fresh greens, and other diced vegetables, let alone a glass of dry red wine to savor along with it!  We haven’t had anything but chicken (and occasionally, salmon for me) in almost nine months! I haven’t cooked a meal in almost nine months!

The dense thatched rooftops, typical in Africa, can easily be seen as a fire hazard.
These would never be allowed in the US or many other countries.

Tonight, I’ll order the salmon which I do about once a week, but it’s only a small portion which with cooked vegetables on the side, doesn’t really fill me up. I need a salad! (Not safe to eat here!)

I wonder what those 20 guests will be eating? The last time they had a group here, a few months ago, they all dined in one of the conference rooms. They were all Indian people so most likely the food consisted of items we don’t eat. Tom is still ordering his penne pasta with chicken with a side of roasted potatoes, not a very healthy meal. We’ll worry about that later, when once again, we can cook our own meals.

Oh, this looks refreshing on the shared property between our holiday rental and the owner’s home. We never used it. We’ll have our own private pool in the next house in South Africa, where we’ll be in 3 months.

This article popped up online last night, implying that South Africa may open their borders sooner than we’d thought. Still, that won’t do us any good unless India resumes international flights.

Stay safe and healthy. Please wear a mask and social distance so we all can get out of this predicament!

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Photo from one year ago today, September 6, 2019:

This had been our view for the past two weeks in Falmouth, Cornwall, England. This has been an excellent place to stay! For more photos, please click here. (Please excuse incorrect paragraph spacing which is being resolved).

 

 

 

 

Day #127 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages meaning the world to us!…Answer to an important question…

Our photo of the Blood Moon on July 27, 2018, taken from our garden in Marloth Park, South Africa.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from the post from July 28, 2018, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more photos.



Yesterday, we received the following email message from a lovely couple we met in November 2017 on a back-to-back South American cruise, visiting many ports of call.

That night, there was a total eclipse of the moon.

We recall meeting this couple and were excited to post their message, leaving out their names and location for their privacy, as always.


Each day, we receive messages similar to this, from couples we’ve met on cruises or on our site, who may be newer or long-term readers. Each message means so much to us when I know, as a lurker myself, writing to other bloggers isn’t necessarily on the top of my priority list, when I already spend so much time writing and responding to our own valued readers.

It was exciting to watch the progression of the eclipse of the moon.

 the rare appearance of the ‘blood moon” and a total eclipse of the moon clearly (weather providing) visible in South Africa.

Here is the message:


“Hi, Jess & Tom,

Your 126th day of lockdown, whew! 

We enjoyed our visits with y’all on Celebrity  ‘around the horn’  South America cruise. That cruise, beginning in Fort Lauderdale and through the Panama Canal was a really great cruise.

Is the India hotel providing any financial incentive/discount considering you were mandatorily imprisoned?

Since March 2020 we have had to terminate/transfer 5 cruises scheduled in 2020. Have 1 cruise out of Galveston first week of Oct 2020 still on the books that will probably be canceled….we are waiting for word from Royal Caribbean.

COVID certainly presents us with a strange new world to live in.  At least we get out of the house for grocery shopping and essentials compared to your lockdown. This sheltering-in-place is terrible……hoping for a vaccine soon.

Regards,”

Almost complete.

Obviously, this couple is from the South in the USA when even their adorable writing reflects commonly used terms and expressions spoken by Southerners.
Friendly and lighthearted messages such as this mean the world to us, especially now in this long period of lockdown in Mumbai, India.


They posed an interesting question we’ve yet to address in prior posts, “Is the India hotel providing any financial incentive/discount considering you were mandatorily imprisoned?”


As members of Marriott’s Bonvoy Club, we receive a 30% discount on our meals which has saved us a considerable sum over these many months. If we booked our room directly through them each month, we’d receive additional credits toward future rooms

It was a beautiful clear night.

However, booking through Hotels.com on our site has proven to be more cost-effective when for every 10 nights we pay, we receive a credit for one free night at a comparable amount. 


When comparing the prices directly through Marriott’s site and Hotels.com, we’re ahead of the game in room rates and savings. However, we still receive the food discount of 30%.


At this point, we’ve accumulated 15 free nights, which we’ll use in September, in the event we’re allowed to fly away by the end of that month. Our nightly rates are approximately INR 7252, US $97 plus considerable taxes, plus the cost of our dinners each evening. Breakfast is included.

We were grateful for the experience.

The only other costs we incur while here are miscellaneous supplies we may order from Amazon India such as toiletries, my three prescriptions requiring refills from local pharmacies, and cash tips. 


Fortunately, we’ve had enough rupees on hand to pay for tips when we’d stopped at an ATM between our last hotel stay and this hotel stay. We have enough cash to last for several more months. With the virus on the rise here, it wouldn’t be wise to go to an ATM at this point.

Thanks again to our thoughtful “cruise friends” for taking the time to say hello and for all of our readers who continue to stay with us during this mundane and uneventful period.


Stay healthy!

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Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2019:

Late-blooming Bird of Paradise, aptly named. For more photos from one year ago today, please click here.

Our hotel is full!…Realities of the current worldwide situation impacts our lives…

This was the first bridge we drove across to arrive in the center of the town of Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from June 25, 2013, (Yesterday, in error, I posted June 26, 2013 photos so today, I am posting the 25th) while in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. See the link here for more details.


When I headed downstairs to reception to pick up a package from Amazon India, (a new battery-operated toothbrush after mine died, even after trying several new sets of batteries), I asked the staff how many rooms were occupied in the hotel.

The view as we approached Bagni di Lucca, not the same town as Lucca, itself, which we also visited a short time later.

Much to our shock, they stated their rooms were filled with workers soon departing to resume work on the oil platforms out at sea. With 334 rooms this was astounding. Once they leave in a few days, I’ll ask again, as to how many of us remain. 


Will it still be a small group of 10 or 20 guests since the onset of the lockdown began in March? We’ll report here soon.

Notice the “no honking” sign. 

It’s no wonder it’s taken almost an hour for us to receive our room service dinners in the past few days, although breakfasts have been arriving in the typical 30 minutes from the time we’ve placed the call.


We don’t see any of these other guests. They, too, are locked away on other floors as we have been on the fourth floor for the past three-plus months. It’s a rarity to see any of the guests on this floor when they, too, are staying in place in their respective rooms.

The vegetation was so thick as we drove along the Lima River while entering Bagni di Lucca, this was the best shot we could get until we arrived closer to the town.

Today, we made our online booking for the hotel from July 1 to August 2, 2020. But, we have no delusions of getting out of here by that date. Based on information coming down the pike from countries all over the world, no US passport holders will be allowed into the majority of countries.


Today, a notice came to my phone that Europe won’t be allowing any US citizens to enter any time in the future, which may prove to be well into 2021. 

The last portion of the road as we began the descent into Bagni di Lucca.

As we review options for other parts of the world and potential upcoming flights out of India, we won’t be allowed to enter the majority of the countries on the borders-opening list. How long we’ve been in India is irrelevant since Indians are also on the refusal lists.

Tom, at the park by the river. One of our readers commented that his white tennis shoes are a dead ringer for a tourist. Apparently, Europeans wear darker colored shoes. Although, we’re not ashamed to be tourists, spending money and savoring every moment in the current country in our journey.

At this point, we have no interest or are we welcomed to travel anywhere in such locations as Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand and, as we’ve mentioned many times in the past, in returning to the US.

The street was so narrow it only allowed for one way traffic at a time at the upcoming “T”. As a result, we sat at this light for no less than 7 minutes.

At this point, we’ve begun to know people in the US with the virus when for so long we didn’t personally know of a single case. We pray for their recovery and future well being. 

The footbridge leads to historical points of interest behind me, where we wandered around.

With over 2.5 million cases in the US, it’s pointless for us to return any time in the near future. We still await information for a variety of island nations that may eventually accept us and of course, various countries in Africa, hoping eventually to be allowed to enter South Africa.

Many of these buildings appear newer, although less interesting from the exterior. But many of them are hundreds of years old, built to last with the simple exterior design, common at different times.

National news consists of conflicting information on which countries will allow US citizens to enter. Each day, we conduct new research to see what our options may be down the road. 

Building a park around a historical structure is common from what we’ve seen of the world thus far. Hard to read signs prevented us from determining the origin of this structure.

The reality remains, however disappointing for us, is that even when India’s borders open for incoming and outgoing international flights, where we will be allowed to enter, may still be in question. There are dozens of possibilities we watch daily to see when US citizens will be allowed to enter.

Historic ruins along the banks of the river remain a part of the properties (circa the 1900s) built over the centuries.

Also, we have to consider the risk of spending hours in airports and on airplanes. Perhaps, ultimately, we may have to stay here for many months to come, in order to reduce those risks.

Danita Delimont Bridge was built in the 1700s. Walking across we were impressed by its strength and stability. 

In the interim, we are fine. Tom is now walking the corridors and doing the stairs and I continue to walk the corridors, 10 times a day. We’re eating fresh, healthy food, although repetitious and boring, sleeping well and our spirits are as good as can be expected, obviously impacted by family member’s health and well-being.

Outdoor cafes never cease to delight us, a novelty from whence we came in bitter cold Minnesota.

We hope all of our readers continue to exercise safety procedures to remain healthy as the world begins to open up many shops, restaurants, and businesses.
Take nothing for granted.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2019:

This is a stream in Oughterard Shrubbery near Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

What do we miss the most during the lockdown in Mumbai?…Mainly food…

Mosques and churches are abundant in Istanbul, Turkey which we visited in June 2013. 

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from June 11, 2013, while in Istanbul, Turkey. See the link here for more photos. Istanbul, Turkey is the only capital city in the world that is located on two separate continents, Europe and Asia.  Tom filled me in on this morsel, history buff that he is.

Today’s post topic was suggested by several of our readers when we requested input from our readers on future topics in this post a few days ago. Thank you to so many who’ve written to us with excellent suggestions which, over time, we’ll certainly utilize in future posts, especially while we’re still in lockdown in Mumbai, India.


Many inquired as to “What we’ve missed the most while in lockdown.” Mainly, as mentioned in the past, what we eat is a big source of importance, now more than ever. With the long days and nights, mealtime is a pleasant distraction and as a needed source of sustenance and nutrition.

What a view of Istanbul!


Of course, we can’t wait for the days when we will be in a new location when we’ll be able to go outdoors, sightseeing and visiting points of interest in and surrounding our everyday lives.


I can’t wait for those first photos of our “new” grocery store when we’ll have the exciting opportunity to shop for our meal preparation while living in a new temporary home. The thought of sharing photos of our new home and surroundings sends shivers up my spine. 

The contrast of old and new is breathtaking in Istanbul.


It’s even harder to envision taking photos of sightseeing venues when at this point, it’s been three months since we’ve done so, the same amount of time when we didn’t go out and about while I was recovering from open-heart surgery in the bush house in Marloth Park in 2019.


At least during those long three months, Tom was able to take plenty of photos of the visiting wildlife on a daily basis, often accompanied by interesting tidbits suitable for inclusion in the next day’s post.

We were able to zoom in on many historic sites from the deck of the ship.


Here, in lockdown, the biggest tidbit of the day might be something like this: last night’s Paneer Machkni was obviously made by a different cook using a different recipe and didn’t suit my taste. 


Now the question is, “Do I tell them it was awful and hope they use the former recipe or do I stop ordering it entirely?” I don’t know. It was a nice break from the grilled chicken breasts night after night with a side a cooked cabbage and spinach, both often too salty even when I’ve said over and over: “No salt, please.” I use salt but over-salting is unpleasant. We have our own Himalayan salt on hand, which I’d prefer to use at my discretion.

Google Maps
Taksim Square where there was political unrest in Istanbul, Turkey, at that time, is across the bridge from the Blue Mosque. The far-left point of the blue line is the Port of Istanbul. The endpoint of the blue line toward the right is the Blue Mosque and an area of most of the tourist attractions, a little too close for comfort by our commitment to safety.


With the language barrier, it’s hard to explain changes over the phone. We aren’t allowed to meet the cooks in person. When I’ve tried ordering the one other item I can eat, salmon, the portion is too small to fill me when my sides only consist of the two small portions of vegetables. 


If I ask for more, we’ll be charged twice as much and it’s just not worth paying INR 1818, US $24, for a 6 ounce, .17 kg,  serving of salmon. What I really need each dinner is a 6 ounce, .17 kg, serving of protein, two non-starchy vegetables, with a side salad. But, it’s not safe to eat raw vegetables in India, even in this nice hotel, making a fresh salad out of the question.

Here again, old and new intertwined in Istanbul, Turkey.


Don’t get me wrong, the staff at this hotel is great and in no way do I intend to negate the quality of their service or food. But, they are used to serving Indian food, not my low carb way of eating, let alone basis continental cuisine. 


If I could eat the Indian food I would since I do like most of it. But, I don’t need to suffer the unpleasant effects of changing my diet. Tom is doing well with his same dinner each night, which doesn’t seem to vary much in taste although the portions may vary in size.

We find this French style of architecture not only in parts of the US but also in many other cities throughout the world.


In a nutshell, we really miss our own homemade meals and yes, a nice big steak would serve us well. Neither of us has had any beef since prior to January 30, 2020, when we left the US to travel to India. 


We knew we wouldn’t have any beef in India during the originally planned two months of touring. That was anticipated and not a problem. Now, it has been five months and could be many more months until we can have a bun-less burger, meatloaf, pot roast, roast beef, steaks, or the many other cuts of beef we’ve regularly enjoyed in the past.

This simple church spire adds to the Istanbul skyline.


Nor, can we have pork here other than Tom’s over-cooked or under-cooked bacon each morning, which could include pork chops on the grill, a pork roast, pork tenderloin, and shredded pork, all of which is unavailable.


Even the chicken is different here. They do not serve dark meat as a protein source on a plate that I prefer. The dark meat is used in a variety of Indian dishes while the dry white meat is used to serve chicken as an entree. I’ve never really cared for chicken breasts unless they were roasted on the bone. 


Each night when I don’t order Paneer Mahkni, I get two small chicken breast halves. Fortunately, they aren’t as dry as they could be but it’s never quite filling enough. An hour or so later, the hunger subsides and I am fine for the evening. Tom’s portions are sufficient for him.

The Port of Istanbul where we sit today, a 20-minute walk from the unrest in Taksim Square.


What else do we miss besides food? Fresh outdoor air, shopping, space to move around, everyday household tasks, walking outdoors, happy hour, friends, conversations with others, birds singing, wildlife, flowers blooming, sunsets, trips to the market, and being able to purchase toiletries and odds and ends we need from time to time.


When I take my contacts out at night, I wear those cheap drugstore glasses while reading my phone or playing scrabble. Within a week, both of the “arms” (the part that goes over the ears) broke and there was no way to keep them on while lying on my side in bed. 


Tom broke off the head of a toothbrush provided by the hotel and handed me the handle which I used with an elastic hairband to fashion a new handle. See the photo below. It works. In normal times, I would have gone to a pharmacy to purchase a new pair. But, these are the times of Covid-19. Nothing is the same.

Revised eyeglasses using a toothbrush handle and an elastic hair band.

We manage. We improvise and we continue to have hope eventually all of this will change. Yesterday, Tom asked me, as Covid-19 cases rapidly escalate in India, if we could see ourselves still here a year from now. It’s entirely possible, but we’re praying, not likely. 


We are anticipating we’ll be able to leave in three months, perhaps not to South Africa but some other country, we choose as safe and palatable for our needs and desires. Under no circumstances will we choose a location that we deem to be unsafe in any manner. 


Are we unhappy? Not at all. We laugh, we chat, we tease, and are playful with one another. We analyze the state of our planet, other countries, India, our own country, our former home state of Minnesota, and the progression of the virus, for us, our loved ones, and for the future of the world to come.


May God keep us all healthy and able to withstand the challenges facing each of us, regardless of how big or small they may be. It’s all relative.


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2019:

A calf on a hill overlooking the sea in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Visited my sister for first time in over two years…The Las Vegas Strip for dinner…Food photos…

Chase, Susan’s adorable Yorkie.

Yesterday afternoon, I drove to Summerlin, Nevada to see my sister Susan, who moved into an assisted living facility on November 1st. This move was long overdue when she requires quite a bit of help in her day to day activities. I am hoping she’ll be able to manage there when she’ll no longer have as much support staff as she had in her apartment.


My sister has been bedridden for approximately 14 years from what I recall. She suffers numerous health conditions including COPD and pain syndrome which requires constant oxygen, many medications and frequent doctor visits.

Seafood salad.


Her spirits are good and always have been. She’s accepted her limitations with dignity and grace. As my older sister by four years, she’s always been an inspiration to me. How dare I ever complain when I am up and around traveling the world while she lingers in a bed around the clock?


But, as we know everything is relative. When we suffer, regardless of the cause, thinking of the suffering of others doesn’t necessarily bring us comfort. It may for a few moments when we contemplate the suffering of others but rarely does it make us become pillars of strength and resiliency. It the nature of the human spirit.

Fried chicken.


As I sat there with her for three hours, hacking and coughing, she was more concerned for me than for herself. I dismissed the annoying cough as a mere inconvenience that eventually will go away. 


And it will. This morning I noticed a slight improvement. On the other hand, Tom is in the throes of the worst of it, behind me by about two weeks. Hopefully, soon with his strong constitution, he’ll be on the mend. It’s unlike him to become ill.

Chicken Piccata.


I will return to see my sister on Monday, joining her for lunch at the facility. They allow visitors to have meals with residents for a $9 fee. I noticed they had a salad on Monday that will work for me. The food is irrelevant. It’s the interaction that bespeaks it all. I will be able to dine with her.


When I returned back to the house, we drove to New York, New York Hotel and Casino and walked through the casino to the Venetian Hotel to a restaurant Richard suggested The Grand Lux Cafe.

Guess who ordered the beef pot roast with mashed potatoes?


The offerings were primarily American fare which Tom prefers the most and we all had an excellent meal. Once again, I had salad, this time seafood salad but that is always the easy go-to for me.


Today will be low-key. Soon, I am going to Smith’s Market to buy some groceries. Today, I am making pumpkin pies, both regular and low carb which we all missed over the Thanksgiving period. It will be wonderful to be able to have a slice of low carb pie topped with real whipped cream.


Most likely tonight we’ll dine out and then tomorrow, I’ll do some cooking for a few days. Richard only eats chicken so it will surely be a “chicken fest” while attempting to make a few favorite chicken recipes. I haven’t cooked a meal in almost a month.


May you have a spectacular weekend!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2018:

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  For more, please click here.

Whoa!…2500 posts as of today…Food photo…Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Tom’s breakfast plate included scrambled eggs with red onion and cheese with thin slices of smoked salmon and tuna pate on the side.  I had the same meal but a smaller portion, all befitting my way of eating.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

“The Titanic was built in Belfast,
Northern Island.”


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When recently I happened to notice the number of posts we’d uploaded since our first post on March 14, 2012 (click here to read the first post), I was stunned.  It’s hard for us to believe we’ve actually done 2500 posts including today and how hard we’ve been striving to be consistent during this past almost seven years.  We’ve made every effort to post each day, other than a few times due to travel days, illness and power and WiFi outages.


In 2013, we began posting almost daily as indicated in our archives which show how many posts we uploaded each month including a total for each year. Many times we’ve mentioned how quickly the time has flown but it becomes all the more relevant when we see this 2500 number.


Is this comparable to 2500 chapters in a book?  Not quite, since our posts are shorter than one would find in a book.  However, as posted, it’s definitely a continuing story progressing similarly to a book.

Beautiful scenery on the way to the SmokeHouse located in The Pier, Ballyconneely, Co. Galway.



We’ve contemplated writing a book, particularly when we’ve been offered a few opportunities to do so over the years.  However, as we’ve always stated, we didn’t do this blog to make money and become commercialized, going to book signings and even appearing on TV shows, none of which appeals to either of us.



We write this ongoing series for love and we continue to do so for love; love of the world, its people, its wildlife, its places and the many who so kindly visit us time and time again to see what’s transpiring in our daily lives.


At times our stories and photos are exciting and filled with world adventures.  At other times, of which we are well aware, our posts are mundane and of little consequence.  

The SmokeHouse‘s interior was somewhat surprising when we expected glass counters contain rows of fish.  Everything is frozen for safety and lasting quality.  More on this in yesterday’s post.

And yet, our readers continue to return for more, pass our web address on to others for their viewing and stand along with us in support of this highly vulnerable and revealing expose of our daily lives.  


At times, I equate it to the content of the TV show Seinfeld, when for us, it can feel like a “story about nothing.”  Perhaps readers find some sense of comparison and comfort from the mundane aspects of our lives during those times when “nothing” is going on.


But, “nothing” may be frequently.  Isn’t that what life is like for most of us, especially those of us who are retired?  Some days, we’re busy and totally engaged in our daily activities when at other times, we find a certain level of contentment from doing very little; a load of laundry, making a meal and watching a favorite TV show in the evening.

Visitor’s vehicles were parked around the SmokeHouse’s building on the pier.

Do those quiet days make us feel any less alive?  For us, those days connect us to reality, provide us time to reflect, to plan for the future and look inside ourselves for ways in which we can grow.


When I think back to our 15 months in Marloth Park, South Africa, it was the quiet times we recall the most, the wildlife coming to call, a day’s drive into Kruger National Park, an evening at Jabula with friends, not necessarily indicative of a busy, fast-paced life.

And here in quiet, remote Connemara, unable to drive on long road trips due to my legs, we’re perfectly content.  As I write this now, Tom is taking a nap, I am sitting alone in the lounge, munching on a raw carrot.  How much more simple can that be?

Apparently, this horse has been fed by passersby when she got as close as she could when we stopped for a photo.

And yet, in a mere 54 days, we’ll be in Amsterdam for two nights awaiting a cruise in the Baltic Sea which will take us to Copenhagen and Skagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden. 


Certainly, this type of trip isn’t mundane and laidback.  Once the cruise ends, we’ll live in the countryside in England in four different locations, here again, hardly a mundane experience.

At this point, we’re contemplating staying shorter periods in most countries to vastly expand our horizons but we’ll never tire of the quiet days, like today; a delicious dinner already prepped and ready; a glass of wine savored, along with a favorite cocktail for Tom, as we lounge in two stuffed comfy chairs overlooking Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara, Ireland.  


For us, this is hardly mundane but at times, in this unusual life we live, it may be routine and predictable.


Friends…thank you for sharing 2500 posts with us…thank you for staying with us during mundane and quiet times and thank you for either writing, commenting or quietly lurking in the background.


Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out!  May this be a pleasing day for you, even if it’s a quiet and relatively uneventful.

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Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2018:

And, here are the girls!  Not much is “girlish” about female rhinos!  For more rhino photos, please click here.