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.

Los Angeles is another world…The traffic is outrageous!…Fun dinner out with Julie…

We encountered hundreds of wind turbines as we entered California.

It was a perfect road trip. We decided we’d be OK with burning some data on Google Fi at $10 a gig and would listen to podcasts while on this long road trip, ending in Minnesota around May 10. While here, we won’t listen to any Garage Logic and other podcasts as we do daily and save the episodes for the remainder of the drive across part of the US.

For our friends and readers who live outside the US, here is a map of the country showing how far we’ll be driving from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, with a stop in Salt Lake City.

United States political map

Road trips across the entire US can be made by car in about five days without having to drive 12-hour days. We prefer to drive about six hours daily since I have to be mindful of not getting swollen feet and legs on longer drives due to my heart condition.

Yesterday, we drove for about 6½ hours, and that was plenty. We stopped every few hours to get out of the vehicle and walk around. Plus, we stopped for breakfast at the beginning of our trip and then for fuel partway through.

But the magic of yesterday’s trip was using our new Bluetooth speaker, paired with Tom’s phone, to listen to the podcasts. Tom’s lousy hearing, especially when driving due to road noise, makes it easy for him to hear the podcasts. This made a world of difference to him, and I also enjoyed listening.

The hours flew by, and before we knew it, we checked into our hotel, the Comfort Inn in Santa Monica. We have never booked a Comfort Inn in the past and were concerned it wouldn’t be a good hotel. We didn’t expect much at $216 a night in this expensive area. But it’s OK with comfortable bedding, good parking, and clean rooms and facilities.

The traffic started picking up about one hour before we reached Los Angeles.

After all, this isn’t a “vacation.” This is a part of our daily travels concerning where we’ll rest our heads at night, and although in most cases, it’s lovely locations, hotels such as this are OK from time to time. We slept well and welcomed the larger bathroom and sleeping area over the tiny spaces in Apache Junction, living in a park model.

Fortunately, we could use some credits we’d accumulated with Expedia as VIP members, bringing the cost down by over $250 for the three nights. Dining out for the three of us will run an average of $175 per night. Breakfast is included with our hotel reservation. It’s the usually processed eggs, ham, and a few odds and ends, most of which I don’t eat. I had a small container of cream cheese, a dollop of processed eggs, and a few thin slices of Canadian bacon. That was fine. It will hold us until dinner tonight.

Snow on the mountains in California.

Speaking of dinner, we went to a fantastic restaurant in Brentwood, the Wood Ranch. The only odd thing both Julie and I observed was that the red wine was served too cold for our liking. We asked for room-temperature red wine, but the waiter informed us all the red wine was kept cold. These were good wines. I didn’t understand why they kept them so cold.

The waiter was happy to oblige and swapped our glasses for white wines, which are best chilled, and we were content. The smoky open-fire grilled food was delicious. Tom had the beef brisket with mashed potatoes, beans, and all three buns served at the table, which neither Julie nor I would eat. See the photo below.

These rolls looked and smelled delicious. My guy ate all three of them. He sure likes his bread, doesn’t he?

I failed to take other food photos, but the conversation was lively and animated, and I completely forgot to take food photos. Nonetheless, the meal was divine and well worth the $140 bill for us.

We will try another of Julie’s favorite restaurants closer to the beach tonight. Julie and I will look up menus today and see what works for all three of us. Tomorrow, the “cousins” lunch is in Los Alamitos, about 45 minutes from here in traffic. There will be nine of us.

I’m looking forward to seeing my cousins, whom I have seen in about 60 years. Oh, good grief, I must be old.

Tom will drive Julie and me to her doctor’s appointment at UCLA Medical this morning and pick us up when we’re done. Then, he’ll drop us off at her house, where she and I will stay and chat until he returns to pick us up around 4:00 pm to head to the beach and then dinner. He’ll gladly spend some quiet time alone in the hotel in the afternoon. It will be another good day.

This trip to California will certainly be worth the detour of our route to Minnesota, and of course, seeing my sister after four years is lovely.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 2, 2014:

It was odd to see these blue jeans in the souk. For more photos, please click here.

Dinner out with family at a fun restaurant…Food photos…Cooking for family today…

Tom enjoyed his Reuben sandwich with onion rings.

It was a lovely afternoon. The family wanted to leave for Fat Willie’s for dinner at 3:00 pm. That was a little early for us, but Tom hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I’d only had Greek yogurt with berries early in the morning, so it all worked out well. Plus, it was “happy hour,” and drinks were mostly $5 or less. Tom ordered a beer, and I had one small glass of Pinot Grigio.

We were surprised when our bill was only $56.78 with tax and tip (the service was excellent). That was the lowest bill we’ve had dining out since we arrived in the US in December. We will return to Fat Willie’s at least once more before leaving Apache Junction in ten days.

My steak salad at Fat Willy’s. It was delicious!

When we returned to the park model, we relaxed for a while, then decided to stay in for the remainder of the evening. We watched a good show, A Gentleman in Moscow (on Showtime), which entertained us throughout the evening. Finally, I headed to bed around 10:00 pm. The night’s sleep was excellent, and I awoke feeling rested and ready to start the day.

I deliberated over what food to bring to Collen’s late this afternoon and decided on making a recipe I found online, Keto Tuna Melt Patties. If the recipe is good, I’ll post it tomorrow. It was easy to make. I put together all of the ingredients in a bowl with a lid and place it in the refrigerator. Before we head over, I’ll bake the patties in the oven and toss the already-prepped salad with homemade dressing. While the patties are baking, I’ll make a mustard dipping sauce.

Colleen and Margie each ordered the Berry Chicken Salad. They both loved it.

Later today, Tom will head to Colleen’s home to pick up uncooked ground beef that he’ll cook on the gas grill, another item for the afternoon meal. As Colleen and Margie approach their departure date, they try using their frozen and perishable food. We are doing the same with many ingredients still in the refrigerator. We’ll only grocery shop for a few needed items here and there as time approaches for our departure.

As for the rest of today, we don’t have any plans until we leave for Colleen’s around 3:30. Tom is working on his new laptop, content with the set-up and the new device. We’ve already watched CBS Sunday morning, and I am halfway through my daily walking.

Rita ordered this “small” pizza, comparable to a medium pizza.

In about an hour, I’ll do the yoga exercise I’ve done daily for almost two months while also walking. On the days I wasn’t feeling well, I still did the exercises, not wanting to miss a beat. The walking hasn’t improved much, but I’m noticing some added strength in my arms and legs.

Yesterday, I got an email from my sister Julie. She’s been able to coordinate a “cousins reunion” for our last day before departure in Los Angeles. We’re meeting at their favorite restaurant in Los Alamitos for lunch on May 3. It will be exciting to see my cousins after so many years. As mentioned, I am the matriarch of that side of the family. When I think of matriarchs, I can’t help but think of elephants we’ve often enjoyed, seeing the matriarchs in Kruger National Park helping their herd cross the road.

Brother-in-law Tom ordered potato skins, taking three in a doggie bag.

Of course, I am disappointed we won’t be going to South Africa in June. At this point, I have no idea when we’ll get there, but hopefully, no later than next April, May, or June 2025. It all depends on when I have the surgery in Cleveland.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a lovely Sunday!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 21, 2014:

That’s our laundry on the clothesline, which Madame Zahra washed every few days. For more photos, please click here.

Our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, are enjoying their nine month world cruise…Would we do that?…

May be an image of map and text

When our friends, Lea Ann and Chuck, whom we met on a cruise in 2017 sailing from Sydney to Seattle, came to visit us while we were staying in The Villages in Florida, they were excited to share their enthusiasm about booking Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas Ultimate World Cruise.

While we were in Florida last summer, Lea Ann and Chuck visited us. It was wonderful to see them and hear about their upcoming world cruise.

Our mouths were agape when we heard they’d decided to embark on the nine-month cruise. We asked them endless questions while wondering if we’d ever want to commit to such an extended period on a cruise ship.

Although we revel in their enthusiasm, after they left, we talked, and both agreed we’d never be interested in such a long cruise. Nine months is a huge commitment, and for the following reasons, we wouldn’t be interested now or in the future:

  1. Cruising for so long could easily diminish our enthusiasm for cruising in the future. We love the anticipation of booking a cruise and the days and months before sailing when the excitement is at the forefront of our minds. For us, it would take away the mystery and magic of cruising.
  2. Living in such tight quarters for so long would not be easy for us. No, we don’t always use all the space available in a holiday home, usually only spending time in the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. But, being able to move around with ease and enjoying spaciousness is a huge part of our enjoyment. Cruise cabin space, even the balcony we always book, is limited and confining.
  3. Many of the ports world cruises visit are ports we’ve visited in the past. After all, we’ve been on 33 cruises, most with new and unfamiliar ports of call, many of which we wouldn’t be interested in visiting again.
  4. The food can become tedious and repetitious, besides often being fattening and unhealthy.
  5. The risk of getting sick when a captive audience for such an extended period is an issue for us. On at least half of our cruises, at least one of us, if not both, picked up a cold or virus, many lingering for weeks. Now, with COVID-19 and all its variants, we’d hesitate to embark on such a large ship for so many months. Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 2476 plus 832 crew, is a breeding ground for many illnesses, especially when new passengers embark for the next leg of the journey at some ports, disembarking at the end of that leg. Plus, passengers can pick up an illness when they get off the ship for activities at various ports of call. When we were on the small boat in August 2023, Azamara Journey, with only a capacity of 702 passengers and a crew of 408, neither of us became ill.
  6. Cost: One would pay well over $117,599 (per person) for a balcony cabin. We wouldn’t be interested in an interior cabin with no windows, and those prices start at $59,900 (per person). Based on the above five points, it wouldn’t be worth paying such a sum for a long-term cruise.

Here’s an article from the New York Post about the cruise Lea Ann and Chuck are on right now, focusing on how many Gen Z passengers are participating:

“It’s been three years, and Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise has finally set sail.

The epic nine-month-long holiday is a first-of-its-kind for the cruise liner, and they’re not surprised it’s gone viral on TikTok despite having hit the shores just over a week ago. (RelatedBest cruise lines review).

“Many guests booked their tickets over two to three years ago during the pandemic, and we are thrilled to be hosting a range of guests from young solo travelers to couples and families,” Dave Humphreys, director of sales at Royal Caribbean International AUNZ, told

“We have an impressive number of Gen Z and millennial cruisers, with a significant number of guests between the ages of 18-30 joining us on various legs of this cruise.”

As the name suggests, it’s a pretty ‘ultimate’ experience, with the cruise traveling to more than 60 countries and 11 world wonders in 274 days.

The cruise is broken into four segments — Ultimate Americas Cruise, Ultimate Asia Pacific Cruise, Ultimate Middle East & Med Cruise, and Ultimate Europe & Beyond Cruise.

Depending on the destination and room you choose, prices can vary from $19,895 to $37,268 (per person)

But, if you want to do nine months, the price tag is much heftier. The cheapest is $88,000 for an interior stateroom and up to $1.2 million per person for a Royal Suite.

“Each guest who has booked the Ultimate World Cruise Package received business class airfare, premium transportation, and a pre-cruise hotel in their package up to $5892 per person,” Mr Humphreys said.

“The business class airfare applies to specific getaway cities. The package includes a beverage package, laundry services, inclusive gratuities, and a VOOM Surf and Stream package.”

TikTok has become inundated with passengers sharing their experiences, from the meals they’re eating, restaurants they’re visiting, and gym classes to glimpses of what their rooms look like and the entertainment and performances they’re attending.

“I am LIVING for your videos. Please, pretty, please don’t stop. Greedily. I will beg you to post more,” one viewer commented on a passenger’s ‘sea day in my life’ clip.

Mr. Humpreys said they also can’t wait to join some of these guests virtually along with the wider TikTok community.

“There will be 27,000 passengers on the various legs, of which over 600 are sailing for the full nine months,” he told

“We have almost 2,000 Australians joining us along the way, including 30 Aussies doing the full nine-month world cruise.”

He said guests were offered the flexibility to book one or more of the four expedition packages.

Mr. Humphreys described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience where guests can traverse the globe in one incredible journey.”It’s going to be epic.”

It’s fascinating to read about this and see Lea Ann and Chuck’s blog, which may be found here. We continue to see their updates and the sheer joy they are experiencing on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 3, 2014:

Louise suggested we put out some yogurt at night for the nocturnal bush babies. We placed a small bowl in a hanging wood birdhouse near a tree. Unfortunately, we were distracted yesterday morning and forgot to remove the little plastic bowl of yogurt. Going inside to get beverages, we returned to find these Vervet Monkeys lapping up the yogurt with the little bowl in hand. Tom scared them off (they can be destructive), and they dropped the bowl and ran off. For more photos, please click here.

The TV is not fixed…Using a workaround…We stumbled on a way to save on groceries and eat like royalty…Who knew it could be done?…

A thick-tailed bush baby enjoying yogurt we left out for her. These larger bush babies aren’t as cute as the little species.

Late yesterday afternoon, the owner of this condo, Zoltan, stopped by to help us get the sound to work when plugging my laptop into the HDMI cord. Zoltan brought a new HDMI cord to see if that was the problem. It was not. We spent at least an hour trying to find a setting or solution to keep us from having to use our JBL Bluetooth portable speaker.

Alas, we didn’t find a solution. However, after making many changes to the settings on the TV, we found ourselves unable to revert to our initial workaround using our speaker. We had no sound using any method. Determined as I was working with Zoltan, I asked him if we could retrace our steps and get our original workaround working once again. That took another half hour.

Finally, we resolved the issue and returned to the original setup we’d been using. Whew! Once we leave here on March 31, Zoltan will have to find a way for other renters to stream shows using their laptops. However, the Samsung TV is a Smart TV, and if I had known all the passwords for the multiple streaming services we use, we could have used the various links offered on the TV.

In most countries, the TV monitors are not Smart TVs, and we haven’t ever used the features provided to get into Netflix, Prime, and Hula, for example. But we are also currently using Paramount+, Peacock, and others. I didn’t feel like going in to change all the passwords, many of which we’d had for years. Many of our passwords are automatically set up by Google, and the system remembers them when we try to log in.

Oh well, we’re back to our initial setup, and we’re okay with that for the remainder of the time we are here another two months. We leave here on March 31. Gosh, the time is flying by quickly.

Tonight, Richard and his girlfriend are coming here to see our place, and then the four of us will walk down the one flight of stairs for the short walk to Luna Rossa, where we’ll have dinner. I made the reservations for 6:45, so we’ll eat later than usual, as we did last night. We are excited to share this lovely condo and its location with our first visitors since we arrived almost six weeks ago.

I wanted to share what we consider somewhat of a phenomenon, although on a small scale, of how we’re saving hundreds of dollars on groceries each month. I know we’ve mentioned this in the past. But this morning, I submitted this week’s online order from Smith’s Marketplace, delivered by Instacart using our Boost membership as described below. (Kroger owns Smith’s):

“Kroger Boost membership fees are $59 per year for next-day delivery or $99 per year for same-day delivery. Both options require a minimum order of $35. 

Boost is part of Kroger’s Kroger Plus loyalty program. Kroger Loyalty program members can enroll in Boost online and pay the fee with a credit or debit card. Members can cancel their Boost membership before the end of their first year by visiting their membership page.”
When we arrived here, we shopped a few times in person to get essential supplies, most of which we’ve since used, except for about $30 in various spices I ordered on Amazon. As shown above, we selected the annual fee of $59 since we plan ahead enough not to need same-day delivery.
As the weeks marched on, I noticed that our weekly/monthly grocery bill now averages about $150 weekly. This is about $75 less per week than we’d spend if we shopped in person at the market. How is this possible? See our list below:

1. The elimination of impulse buying. Also, when preparing the online order, I don’t do so when I’m hungry, which is often suggested for those who suffer from impulse buying.

2. Planning a menu for the week, most often using recipes, and only buying the times needed as indicated on the recipes(s)

3. When running low or out of an item, instead of writing it down, go to the app and enter the item(s) immediately on the list of other items to be ordered.

4. Be willing to eat leftovers not only to save money but also to save time. I often make a recipe we love to last for three nights.

5. Submit the order based on your selected program, either next-day or same-day delivery, to avoid paying extra fees.

6. Pay special attention to coupons offered in the app. We often save $10 to $15 on needed coupon items, but… if the item is not required, don’t add it. Most often, it’s a one-click process to use the coupon, which will automatically be reflected in the total bill.

7. Tips are automatically included in the total price. Stick with the tips suggested by the system instead of paying an additional amount. If you pay more, pay it in cash when the delivery is ordered to avoid the system automatically filtering the higher amount for subsequent orders.

8. Use up your perishables to avoid food waste. It is a rare occasion that we’ll throw out any food. The only exception to that was when we were in South Africa during lengthy power outages (load shedding). We have no food waste with the inverter system in the house we usually rent.

9. Be willing to freeze uneaten leftovers. Each time I make a more time-consuming recipe, I purposely store a fourth portion in the freezer. Those are when we may have planned to go out to dinner and changed our minds, preferring to eat at home. Also, frozen leftovers are ideal for busy days when there isn’t ample time to make a new meal. Often, on those occasions, all I have to do is make a fresh salad and cook the frozen entree in the oven or microwave, whichever you prefer.

Our food bill may be less than others since we don’t buy unhealthy snack items such as chips, cookies, cakes, and candy. However, if you are trying to save money in these tough economic times with increased costs, it might be a good time to rethink such purchases and put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.

When we were in the US on past visits, spending up to $250 a week was easy, considering we ate high-quality meats and vegetables. Right now, we are spending an average of $150 a week, although, on occasion, we may purchase some staples from Amazon. Yesterday, I saw Amazon had a great price on garbage bags and zippered gallons for storage bags. I had both items on the grocery app but removed them to ensure no duplicates were purchased. I ordered the two items and received them in less than 24 hours without a shipping fee since we also belong to Prime.

In most countries and other US cities, you can set up a regular online grocery order app that works for you. It’s not exclusively through Kroger/Smith’s, delivered by Instacart.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic “hump day.”

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 24, 2014:

A pair of waterbucks, posing from afar, across the Crocodile River. Waterbucks do not live in Marloth Park. But they can be seen on the banks of the river on the Kruger National Park side. For more, please click here.

Part 2 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…Happy New Year!…

In May, when staying at The Villages, we spent a day on Lake Harris, boating with reader/friends Linda and Burt. We stopped at a campsite for lunch. It was a fun day!
It was a delightful day on Lake Harris and the Dora Canal.

May, June, and part of July 2023 – The Villages, Florida, USA

Tom’s cold isn’t going away. He doesn’t feel awful and has no new symptoms, but he’s not himself. We thought that after a week, it would be gone by today since we’d made plans for tomorrow that we’ve since canceled. Fortunately, I feel fine.

Our dear friends Rich and Karen came to visit us twice while we were in The Villages Florida.
Kristi and Kevin, Tom’s nephew, thoughtfully drove the eight-hour round-trip to see us. We had a fantastic day!

We had planned to clean the condo on Friday. When he awoke this morning, he was still not feeling well. For the first time in a very long time, I cleaned by myself. We’d purchased a Swiffer from Amazon with dry and wet pads, and I ran around doing one project after another, washing, wiping, dusting, and floors. It took me about an hour.

Our friends from Boca Raton, Mark and Carol. They are visiting us for three nights. We’re having an excellent time with them. See the post here.

After struggling for almost a year, I surprised myself with how energetic I am. Today, I will be up to 20 minutes on the exercise bike, adding one minute daily. I can’t believe how quickly I was able to increase the duration. Now, I will stop increasing time and instead increase the difficulty. Doing this has changed everything for me.

When they visited, we had a great time with friends Lea Ann and Chuck. Right now, they are on a nine-month world cruise. How fun!

Note: we’re waiting for one more photo from our dear friends in Florida, Karen and Rich, who visited us twice while staying at The Villages. We were so busy yakking we forgot to take photos!!!

Our dear friend Lisa is on the left, and her friend Vicki is on the right. We had a fantastic day and evening!

Soon, I will begin doing resistance exercises using light weights using the equipment in the Fitness Center in this condo complex. I know how to pace myself since I worked out six days a week before traveling the world 11 years ago for most of my adult life. I was always fit and ate healthy. But even so, I fell prey to heart disease due to heredity. There is little one can do to override our genes.

Fortunately, I don’t need to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve lost 21 pounds, am working out again, eating as healthfully as possible, and have reduced my occasional red wine consumption from two glasses to one. I considered giving up wine, but I love a glass of red, and it doesn’t seem to affect my heart or pulse rate; I decided to reduce the amount.

A few days ago, we stopped at Liquor World near the petrol station when Tom needed to refill the fuel in the rental car before returning it to the airport for another car. At that store, I found the brand Black Box, Cabernet Sauvignon, with only 5% alcohol, as opposed to the usual 12% to 14%. With this wine low in carbs, calories, and alcohol, I could drink a second glass, which still would be less alcohol than one glass of regular wine.

I realize low-alcohol wines don’t taste as good as regular wine, but it’s a tradeoff I am willing to make for my health, like the tradeoffs I’ve made with food. I haven’t opened it yet, but I think I will tonight, it’s New Year’s Eve. Tom won’t be celebrating with me but will once he’s feeling better.

Last night, we did a Grubhub order with a Henderson Asian restaurant. We purchased enough to last us for two nights. Tom had his usual sweet and sour pork with pork fried rice, and I had steamed shrimp and vegetables. It was delicious. We get Grubhub with no one-year delivery fees through our Amazon Prime membership. But still, the two-night order was $105, including Grubhub’s service fee, taxes, and tip. We rationalized the cost, realizing we’d spend more than this to go out to dinner one night. Once in a while, this is fun to do.

On another note, today’s post is to share what transpired in our world travels in 2023. There wasn’t much traveling in today’s second segment since we spent May, June, and part of July at The Villages in Florida while we waited to go on a few cruises, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s final segment. Although, we had a wonderful time when friends came to visit us.

However, in August, included in the second segment, we went on two cruises, and thus, the cruise-related photos continue in today’s “year in review” post.

July (end of the month) and August 2023 – Edinburgh, Scotland, and two cruises, one to Norway, the second to Greenland

We couldn’t post photos while we spent three days in Edinburgh. The WiFi connection at the hotel was too slow to add pictures. Then, when the three days ended, we immediately boarded the first of two cruises: the first on the Azamara Journey, with horrible WiFi preventing us from posting more than a few photos to Norway, and the second on Celebrity. Summit to Greenland, 17 days later. For detailed photos from these two cruises, please check our archives for August 2023. But here are a few. Please scroll down to see.

A few nights into the Norway cruise, we got off the ship to a theatre with local dancers and musicians performing. See the post here.
Tom’s photo today of the town of Isafjordur, Iceland, while on the Greenland cruise. See the post here.
Tom was squinting his eyes after he took off his glasses for a selfie. We had so much fun at the” Silent Disco.” From the post here.
Deep-sea sediment cores from northeast Greenland, the Fram Strait, and the south of Greenland suggest that the Greenland Ice Sheet has continuously existed since 18 million years ago. See the post here.
Cape Spear Lighthouse in Newfoundland. See the post here.

Running out of space with all of these photos, we will continue tomorrow with September through to the end of the year here in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. Thanks for sharing this year with us. It wasn’t as exciting as some years ago, but we visited nine countries in 2023!

Happy New Year everyone. Have a safe and enjoyable segue into 2024!

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

On New Year’s Eve, after returning to the house in Marloth Park, this centipede on the wall by the bathroom door made us cringe. Tom, as always, disposed of it. Sleep didn’t come easy the remainder of the night, fearful that the rains of the past few days may have brought more of these inside the house. For more, please click here.

Part 1 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…

It was a great time celebrating my 75th birthday in February at Tamborina Restaurant in Komatipoort with Dawn and Leon, before our party five days later.

We haven’t always done our “Year in Review.” I’ve hesitated to do it each year because I’m unwilling to take the extra time necessary to go back over each month’s post and list the significant aspects of each month. Often we have plans at that time and spending extra hours hasn’t appealed to me. Often, I am busy preparing a special meal to celebrate the occasion.

This year,  with our two-day GrubHub Chinese dinner order for tonight and tomorrow night, I have no excuse. We planned to clean the house today, but with Tom still not feeling well and after his late night when he had to return the rental car to swap it out for another at 1:00 am this morning, I have no plans for today other than to head to the fitness center to work out around 2:00 pm.

Last night, when Tom left for the airport, I started coughing, wondering if I caught whatever cold he had the past three days. But when I got up this morning, I felt better and haven’t coughed since. Maybe I dodged a bullet and won’t get sick.

My plan for today’s post is to list each month, describing where we were at the time, with a photo we’d posted during that month with a link to go with it of our favorite experiences. Of course, if you’re interested in more details of any specific month, please peruse the archives on the right side of our home page and click any date. So here we go, beginning with January, 2023:

January 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Octomom’s eight piglets, four of them her own, Lollie’s three, and another she adopted that she found alone in our garden. See the story below and the post here.

When we moved into the Ratel house in May 2022, after a cruise while we were still recovering from COVID-19, we came to know a number of animals that frequently visited our garden. One of our favorites, besides Norman and his family, was Lollie, a female warthog who decided our garden was her permanent home. Each morning and night, she parked herself near the veranda and occasionally wandered away for a few hours during the day. to roll around in a mud hole or search for food. We fed her plenty of pellets, carrots, and apples, but warthogs require a lot of food.

One day, we noticed she wasn’t there when we first wandered outdoors, and we didn’t see her for three days and nights. On the fourth day, she arrived with three piglets she birthed in her time away and couldn’t have been more proud to show them off to us. We fussed over all of them. Knowing she was feeding those little ones, we fed her plenty of food while the piglets were too young for pellets.

After about a week passed, we noticed something was hanging out of her backside. I took a photo and sent it to a ranger, only to discover it was most likely the afterbirth that she hadn’t released. Jaco explained that she would become infected and die if the afterbirth didn’t drop out. Each day, she looked weaker and weaker, and finally, about a week later, she arrived on her own without the piglets. She was dying and couldn’t care for them. We were heartbroken.  A few days later, the piglets arrived without her, and we knew then that she had passed away.

There were the three little pigs, squealing for their mom. They were hungry and too young to fend for themselves. Immediately, I called Deidre, Wild and Free Rehabilitation’s director, and asked her how we could feed the young piglets. At that point, they were about three weeks old. She explained we could start giving them pellets and bits of fruit and vegetables. Plus, we put out a shallow bowl of fresh water for them each day. The likelihood of them surviving at such a young age was remote but we were determined to try and save them.

A few days later, another mom with four piglets arrived in the garden with her young at the same time as Lollie’s orphaned three piglets. Miracle of all miracles, over the next few days, we saw she had adopted Lollie’s three piglets, and she was nursing them along with her four.  What a joy it was to see this miracle of nature.

A few days later, we spotted a lone piglet leaning up against a tree, crying and looking lost and forlorn. This same mom also adopted this eighth piglet. At this point, we named the mom Octomom, and in no time at all she responded to her name. On our last day in Marloth Park in April 2023, they were all in our garden, as if to say goodbye. What a beautiful experience we were gifted to have unfolded before our eyes.

February 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Here we are with Doc Theo, who saved my life, and his lovely wife, Myrtah, on my 75th birthday in the bush. We were so happy they came to my party along with the other two doctors in the practice, Doc Mel and Doc Philip, and their lovely wives.

It couldn’t have been more exciting than to share my 75th birthday in the bush with many of our friends who attended my party hosted and catered by our dear friends Louise at Danie at their lovely Khaya Umdani house. See the post here for photos of the exquisite food and guests.

In January, we created a guest list and sent out invitations via WhatsApp. Every person we invited joined us on my special day. The party was held on February 25, and my birthday was on February 20th. But we wanted to hold the party on a weekend when Doc Theo, his associates, and their wives could attend rather than on a weekday. It worked out well for all of the attendees.

We had a fantastic time and laughed out loud when a male kudu stopped by to nibble on the starters (appetizers). The party didn’t end until almost 2:00 am. It was an evening I will always cherish and remember. The food, the friends and the ambiance couldn’t have been more perfect.

March 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa

Tom’s brother Jerry and his lovely wife Lee, his favorite Norwegian. Jerry passed away in March, and Tom left the bush to fly to Minneapolis, US, for the funeral and to be with family. See the post here.

Tom’s eldest brother (by 24 years), Jerome, 94, also known as Jerry, passed away on March 1st. Tom immediately decided to fly to Minneapolis for the funeral and spend time with his family. It was my first time alone in the bush, but friends gathered around to ensure I wasn’t bored or lonely without him.

Jerome was totally blind, and shortly after we left for our world travels, he listened to our posts daily. using his “talking” computer. He always said that we “were his eyes as we traveled the world,” and it meant so much to know he was following along with us. It was a sad day when he passed. In 2013, his beloved wife Lee, passed away. In his resilience and strength, Jerry managed to live for ten years after losing Lee, in the family home. He was quite a special man.

I never felt fearful of being alone at the house. I kept the emergency button on the keyring on my nightstand at night and by my side during daylight hours. He was gone for two weeks, and it was wonderful to have him return. When we’ve returned to the US since Jerry’s passing, we always feel a sense of loss, knowing he is no longer there.

Over the past years of world travel, I lost my dear sister Susan while we were in lockdown in India for ten months, and then Tom lost Jerome. Our hearts were and still are heavy after each of us lost a sibling as we traveled. Sadly, I wasn’t able to return to the US when Susan passed due to our lockdown status in India and when the international airport was closed.

April 2023 – Marloth Park, South Africa and The Villages, Florida

Tom and Danie were in a huddle chatting up a storm, as always, at our going away party in the bush. See the post here.

At the end of April, our friends Dawn and Leon, owners of Jabula, hosted a going-away party for us. It was a fantastic party. We’ve become like most South Africans; we all love a good party, and most parties when friends get together are fantastic. Much to my disappointment, it was a few days later that I experienced the first bout of Afib and ended up in the hospital in Nelspruit for three nights, having lots of tests to determine the cause, which, at that time, was never determined.

Only four days before our flight to the US to stay in a lovely house in The Villages, Florida, was I released from the hospital feeling better but very weak. I don’t know how I managed to pack, but I somehow got through it. On the 15-hour flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta, Georgia, I had another bout of Afib that lasted for hours. To avoid worrying Tom, who was seated a few rows behind me, I waited it out, and finally, it stopped, and I was able to sleep a little.

While we spent almost three months in Florida, we had a wonderful time. Many of our friends came to visit, some staying overnight. Every Friday and Saturday night, we took off in the golf cart and went out to one of the village squares to enjoy dinner in a few excellent restaurants we found.

During the first four months of the year, we didn’t travel much, other than the above-mentioned occasions. We thoroughly enjoyed the first third of 2023 and looked forward to more travels to come, which will be shared in the next two posts on December 31 and January 1, 2024.

Please stay tuned for more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 30, 2013:

Kudu closeup was taken while I stood directly before him, behind the veranda railing. For more photos, please click here.

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.