Twenty days…Leaving Boveglio…Future travel plans…

 

The archway in our yard that ventures out to the winding, hilly roads, kept locked for privacy.   these small villages in Tuscany it is difficult to determine where a house and yard begins and ends with most houses “stuck together.”

It’s hard to believe in less than three weeks we’ll be leaving Boveglio to drive to Venice to fly to Kenya the next day, the 3rd. 

We’re reminded that fall is near, by the pumpkins and gourds in our yard.

It will be the beginning of almost a year of living in Africa, ending with two and a half months in Madeira, Portugal, an island located off the northwestern coast of Africa.

A pepper plant growing in the lower garden. These are most likely too hot for our taste buds.
With an open space in time from August 1, 2014, until November 30, 2014, Tom has been busy searching as to how we’ll fill this gap in our travels. At this point, the biggest challenge we have in booking this gap period is the result of a few crucial factors:

1.  What are the most enjoyable and sensible means of us traveling back across the Atlantic Ocean toward Hawaii when we’ll be getting together with our adult kids and grandchildren at our upcoming rental house in Kona, Hawaii at Christmas time in 2014?
2.  With the added expense of airfare for 13 family members, how can we spend this period most economically to perhaps offset a portion of the cost?
3.  Do we want to stay in Europe until December 1st when our rental begins in Hawaii, as we end the upcoming one year stint from Portugal?
4.  Are there cruises available to use as a means of travel, which we prefer?

The doorway and patio of a house below us where we heard cheerful Italian chatter last night.

Tom has been spending considerable time at Vacations to Go and Cruise Critic in an effort to determine our best options. Once we pin down possible cruises, we’ll contact our representative, Joaquin at Vacations to Go to book our chosen cruises. 

How dry and brown the yard is becoming with a lack of regular rain.

The further we continue into our world travels, we’ve determined that we love cruising for several reasons:
1.  Cost-effective in many cases with housing and meals included.
2.  No enforced luggage restrictions.
3.  Ease of living:  no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry (although it does pile up)
4.  Meeting new people almost every day while meandering on the ship and during meals.
5.  Date night every night with the option of ordering included room service. (After eight cruises, we’ve yet to order room service).
6.  Opportunity to visit many countries in a short period of time with the numerous scheduled ports of call.
7.  Movies on board. 
8.  Exercise facilities on board.
9.  Often interesting classes on board.
10. Chefs on cruise ships make every effort to accommodate my restrictive diet. Although boring and bland at times, it’s much easier than trying to communicate my restrictions in a new restaurant with possible language barriers.

The herb garden in the yard, separate from our patio garden.

After extensive research these past days, we’ve finally come to the conclusion that we’ll wait until the 90-day ticker begins (until sail date) with discounted cruise fares for 2014. In reviewing the ticker for cruises in the next 90 days we’ve seen how beneficial it is to wait with discounts as high as 82%. 

Impatiens growing in an old wooden barrel in the yard.

Yes, by waiting we run the risk of a particular cruise being sold out. Willing to take this risk, we accept the reality that if our means of transportation by cruise is sold out, we can always fly to our next preferred location.  In a rare position for this flexibility, it makes sense for us to proceed in this manner.

A cozy corner of one of the covered garden areas.

With most of our first two and a half years traveling well planned in advance, we now feel experienced and confident enough, after almost a year to attempt last-minute planning. Doing so opens the opportunity for us to experience cruises normally priced beyond our budget, at suddenly lower pricing.

The morning sun filtered through the covered garden.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Vacations to Go has a policy whereby they will honor price reductions on cruises up to 90 days before sailing. If one watches the pricing on their pre-booked cruises, one can request the reduction which becomes effective immediately which will be guaranteed through sailing. However, neither the cruise lines nor Vacations to Go will watch this for a customer.  One must do this on their own.

Few roses remain as summer winds down.  Often, I wanted to make a bouquet for the kitchen table, deciding against it, knowing it would attract bees indoors.

Learning the nuances of enhancing the quality of our travels is an ongoing process. Many have asked us why we booked so much in advance for the first two and a half years. The answer is simple. 

Last year, we left Minnesota to begin our travels on Halloween.  It seems so long ago.

As neophytes, if we weren’t able to find and book the next desired leg in our travels, we may have become frustrated questioning why we ever took this enormous life-changing challenge.  With bookings planned and deposits paid, we were committed which proved to bring us comfort, excitement, and peace of mind as we learned the ropes.

These variegated green and white leaves are vinca vine, always a favorite of mine when planted to hang over a rock wall.


This planted shoe could easily have been in this yard for over 100 years.

Now, it is becoming clear to us that we can patiently wait.  Unless, of course, some amazing opportunity presents itself that we cannot turn down. 

After all, the world is a big place.

 

Medical Issues for World Travelers…A Comprehensive Synopsis…

 

This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.
This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.

Traveling for extended periods always raises concerns over medical issues for world travelers. Particularly, seniors and those with existing health conditions, regardless of age, have asked themselves if traveling for months or years makes sense when at any time, especially in remote locations, a flare-up of any underlying condition or injury can elicit worry, concern over a life-altering illness, or even death, let alone panic in some situations.

Today’s 2000 word post entitled, “Medical Issues for World Travelers” will include suggestions as to how we’ve managed such circumstances, as world travelers for the past eight years. Below are the most commonly asked questions when discussing medical issues for world travelers for those considering long-term world travel:

  1. How will I receive my prescription refills and also, for some, “store insulin and other medications that require refrigeration?”
  2. What do I do if I run out of medication while traveling?
  3. How will I be able to receive my necessary prescriptions?
  4. What immunizations/vaccines will I need in order to travel the world?
  5. How do I handle everyday aches, pains, injuries, and illnesses, that in my old life, may have prompted me to visit my doctor?
  6. What do I do about dental care, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other recurring medical tests?
  7. What shall I do for medical travel insurance?
  8. How often should I seek a physical exam if my health is good and I’m feeling well?
  9. What do I do if a serious illness or injury occurs while I’m traveling? Do I return to my home country for surgery or treatment?
  10. How will I handle my personal protection in avoiding contracting COVID-19 and other such viruses that may be or become prevalent while I’m traveling?

During our past years of world travel, each of the above questions has been forefront in our minds at one point, or another. Today, following in the above questions as highlighted headings below, we will address each of these questions. As time passes, some of our suggestions along with solutions for our own personal situations may change as more and more travelers consider long-term travel, once COVID-19 is more under control.

Regardless of our past experiences and observations, it’s imperative to discuss your health conditions or potential age-related conditions with your physician and/or medical professionals before embarking on any trip, if for a week, a month, a year, or longer.

We also suggest you assign a family member or close friend as your medical advocate, in the event you as an individual or a couple are in an accident that may leave you unable to manage your care during serious medical treatment and recovery. It makes sense for couples to leave easily accessible notes on a smartphone with any medical particulars that may be crucial in their partner’s care (such as allergies, medications, conditions, etc.).

It’s surprising how often a spouse, companion, or partner may be totally oblivious to the health issues of their traveling companion. This may be one of the most important medical issues of world travelers. So, let’s start working our way through the above 10 questions. If, at any time, you have questions on topics we haven’t covered, please feel free to comment at the end of any post. You may do so anonymously if you’d prefer. Here we go:

How will I receive my prescription refills and also, for some, “store insulin and other medications that require refrigeration?”

One of the most frequent medical issues for world travelers is the ability to not only carry sufficient supplies of necessary prescription medicine but also in getting prescriptions refilled in other countries. Of course, the ideal scenario is to determine how long you’ll be gone and carry all of those prescriptions with you in a secure carry-on bag with copies of the prescriptions from your doctor.

Unfortunately, many traveler’s health plans do not allow a prescription for longer than three months. The workaround that we chose when we first left the US, was to pay for the prescriptions ourselves without making a claim on our insurance. We’d even be able to negotiate the costs of my three prescriptions from a few pharmacies, who were happy to give us a year’s supply at negotiated rates. We’d asked our doctor to write the three non-narcotic prescriptions for one year each.

As it turned out, our cost of the prescriptions was compared to the co-pays we’d have paid for the medications using our health plan. However, even if it had required more money out of pocket, we’d been willing to pay considering the convenience. If you plan to return to your home country for a visit, once a year, you can repeat the same process. Since we didn’t return to the US more frequently than once every two years, we had to come up with another plan.

At the beginning of our travels, while in Belize, we met a couple and the wife suggested we contact ProgressiveRX, a company we’ve worked with these past eight years, except for those times, we could purchase my medication at a pharmacy without a prescription, which is possible in many countries. This information is available online. For example, here in India, where many US medications are manufactured, we don’t need a prescription for any non-narcotic drugs, none of which we use. One needs only to write down their medication, dose, and quantity they’d like to receive for most prescription medications.

As for storing medications that require refrigeration, the most logical solution is to carry a long-lasting cooler block and a small cooler bag to keep the medication cold during long flights. Since most hotels and holiday homes include a refrigerator, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s imperative, regardless of the medication, not to leave them in your checked baggage. We have what we call a carry-on “pill bag” which includes copies of original or recent prescriptions and pills in their original packaging which we don’t let out of our sight.

What do I do if I run out of medication while traveling?

First off, if you plan ahead, you can avoid this situation while on longer trips by ensuring you have an adequate supply of medications you’ll need, including a few weeks of extra doses in the event of unforeseen delays. If you’re traveling for years as opposed to weeks or months, it is imperative you decide on how you will renew your prescriptions when most countries that require prescriptions will not allow you to use your home country physician’s prescriptions. It’s important to check this information in advance of traveling.

In the worst-case scenario, which we’ve accepted as a part of our travel responsibilities, is to make an appointment with a local doctor, bringing along your existing prescriptions and/or containers, and ask the doctor to write new prescriptions for you, for at least six months, a year if possible. Doing so is not as inconvenient as you may think.

Ask your landlord or hotel staff for the name and number of a local clinic to arrange your appointment and subsequent filling of your new prescription. Keep in mind, in many countries prescription drugs are named differently than in your home country. Sure, this becomes a part of medical Issues for world travelers but doesn’t usually require more than a few hours of your time.

If you are on a cruise ship (hopefully possible again in the future), the ship’s doctor generally has the most common medications on hand. However, the cost to see her/him can be expensive. Being prepared before embarking on a cruise is imperative.

How will I be able to receive my necessary prescriptions?

Using such prescription services as ProgressiveRX may end up taking months to receive in regular mail. If you are staying in one location for many months, this may be possible. Also in some countries, depending on mail services available you can request expedited service in some countries for an additional fee. This may be the case for most online pharmacies that are willing to use an old prescription as proof. In no cases, will narcotic drugs be mailed in any country?

For those with chronic pain issues, traveling long term may be a part of substantial medical Issues for world travelers. The only way you’d be able to receive such medications would be from a visit to a hospital, urgent care facility of a doctor with you providing accompanying paperwork from your home physician describing your condition in detail, and your need for narcotic medication. Since we don’t use pain medications, other than those over-the-counter, that’s our best suggestion.

What immunizations/vaccines will I need in order to travel the world?

One of the many concerns over medical issues for world travelers is the necessity of immunizations before embarking on a journey that will include countries where certain diseases are rampant. Most medical clinics or groups have a travel clinic you can visit. It’s imperative to bring a list of the countries you’ll be visiting, illnesses, medications, allergies, and previous inoculations to your first appointment.

From there, a nurse practitioner along with a doctor will determine what immunizations are recommended for your upcoming travel. We arranged for this appointment a few months before we left to ensure there was ample time for any necessary spacing of the inoculations. In all, we each had about 15 immunizations in total. I won’t mention them here simply based on the fact your locations and personal health may be entirely different than ours. Also, the fact we planned to be gone for years, not months, we needed additional inoculations.

The travel clinic will know exactly what you need, but it’s your final decision as to which, if any, you are willing to accept. We accepted all recommendations. While in South Africa in 2018, we presented our immunization record to our local Dr. Theo and we had boosters as needed. Our only reactions were from the yellow fever vaccine, leaving me feeling flu-ish for a few hours and Tom, lightly, over a weekend.

It is during this appointment, you may choose to get prescriptions for malaria pills. There are two types of these. The more expensive have fewer side effects. See your doctor for recommendations.

How do I handle everyday aches, pains, injuries, and illnesses, that in my old life, may have prompted me to visit my doctor?

Another major concern over medical issues for world travelers is for those who may have visited their family practitioner on a regular basis, often monthly, for blood tests, exams, medications, and treatment protocols. If this process has been prevalent in your personal care, long term travel may not be ideal for you. Perhaps, shorter trips would be more appropriate.

Otherwise, we have learned to self-treat minor injuries, aches, and pains with ice and hot packs and over the counter medication. We’ve had flu, bad coughs, and viruses throughout this period, but in most cases, managed on our own. This may not be appropriate for many travelers, requiring visits to local doctors. I’ve had a few injuries become infected. In those cases, we sought medical care.

What do I do about dental care, colonoscopies, mammograms, and other recurring medical tests?

In the beginning, before we left the US we had many medical tests to ensure we were good to go. Once we started traveling, it was almost 2½ years before either of us made an appointment for a check-up and blood tests. Contrary to most medical advice, we decided to forgo colonoscopies, instead, conducting the home fecal monitoring tests checked by a lab. I haven’t had a mammogram since we left, but do self-exams regularly.

As for dental appointments, in our old lives, we each had our teeth cleaned every six months. Now, we’re lucky to have this done every two years. Not every country is suitable for dental appointments. Of course, normally in the case of an infection or abscess, dental care would be necessary.

Based on having had emergency major open-heart surgery in South Africa in February 2019, dental care was ill-advised during the 12 months after the surgery. Once we return to South Africa, we will visit our favorite dentist in Komatipoort for cleaning and other dental care as needed.

While we were in Minnesota in November 2019, I visited a highly regarded cardiac facility to be checked after heart surgery. It was recommended I return next time we visit the US which I’ll surely do. Of course, if any heart-related issues presented I’d immediately seek appropriate medical care.

What shall I do for medical travel insurance?

Overall, the most frequent question regarding medical issues for world travelers is travel insurance. We have written dozens of posts on this topic which can easily be accessed by typing “travel insurance” in our search field on our home page. For purposes here today, I’ll briefly review our experiences.

When we began our world travels, we signed up with a worldwide travel insurance company, Healthcare International, based in London.  As typically the case, worldwide travel insurance doesn’t cover the traveler while in their home country unless willing to pay a much higher rate.

We had opted out of Medicare Part B since it nor its supplemental policies at the time covered medical issues for world travelers, like us. There was no point in paying for Medicare Part B or a supplement, as much as an additional several hundred dollars more each month, to cover us outside the US or even while in the US, when we were visiting for such short periods. If we needed medical care while in the US, which we have on a few occasions, we paid out of pocket.

We paid US $4000, INR 291,844, per year for the policy and never made a claim until in February 2019 while in South Africa, I had to have emergency triple coronary by-pass surgery. To make a long story short, the insurance company refused to pay and we had no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for the expensive four surgeries, including three weeks in the hospital, that was ultimately necessary.

They claimed I had a preexisting condition. I had no idea I had heart disease. But to force them to pay would have required years of legal expenses and time, with the possibility of losing the case. We had no desire to make our lives all about a lawsuit, especially if we could lose the case.

From there we researched online for a US company and found UnitedHealthcareGlobal that has no pre-existing conditions policy other than no major medical treatment in the past six months, for which we qualified by the time we purchased the policy. There are more nuances of the policy, but I won’t get into that here. Click this link for more details. (Due to COVID-19, one must call for a quote, but recently, from here in India, we were able to renew our policy without a problem.

Since we travel full time, our needs are different from short-term travel policies. Also, now as time has passed, there are supplemental travel policies available to US citizens, but not applicable to us since we don’t have Medicare other than Part A.

Often, your travel agency, cruise company, or other travel-related businesses offer short term travel policies. In light of COVID-19, we encourage you to do your own research for such policies for short term travel. Plus, many of the travel business policies are more expensive than you may find on your own.

How often should I seek a physical exam if my health is good and I’m feeling well?

It is important to discuss your medical issues for world travelers with your physician before embarking on a year’s long journey. They will recommend, based on your current conditions, or lack thereof, how often you should arrange a check-up from a qualified medical professional in the countries you will be visiting. Also, they may suggest tests that are important for your state of health.

For us, every few years has prompted us to have a basic exam. It was only in South Africa that I had jaw pain precipitating an additional visit to Dr. Theo, whom we had already seen for exams and vaccination boosters, which under normal circumstances would never have predicted my cardiovascular issues when I had a normal EKG and heart sounds during the basic exam.

It was months later that I visited Dr. Theo, who suggested I have an exercise stress test when I was experiencing weird jaw pain. If he hadn’t done that test on me, I may not be here today to tell the story. It was his determination that sent me to a cardiologist and thoracic surgeon only days later for immediate open-heart surgery. We are so grateful to him for “catching this.”

What do I do if a serious illness or injury occurs while I’m traveling? Do I return to my home country for surgery or treatment?

This is a common concern and medical issues for world travelers. I suppose my case was a perfect example. There was no time for me to return to the US for emergency surgery, nor would it have been safe for me to fly back to the US in my dire condition.

Also, if we returned to the US, the cost of the four procedures would have been around the US $1,000,000, INR 72,961,200. Medicare would only have paid a portion and we’d have been left with much more out-of-pocket expense than the entire bill we’ve had to pay in South Africa. In the end, it all worked out for the best.

However, many less serious conditions can make a traveler worried and stressed as to appropriate action for a travel-related illness or injury, not requiring urgent medical care that may be available by quality professionals in some, not all countries. One must access the situation carefully and make a determination as to the safety of treatment in their current condition.

If anyone would have asked me if I could have recovered from open-heart surgery and three other procedures, for three months in a holiday home in the bush in South Africa with no air-con in the living areas with temperatures in the 104F, 40C range, day after day, I would have said emphatically “NO!!!” But, with Tom’s attentive and loving care, we made it through. One never knows their strength and resiliency until faced with situations beyond their control. I wasn’t allowed to travel for three months and could not have returned to the US to recover.

How will I handle my personal protection in avoiding contracting COVID-19 and other such viruses that may be or become prevalent while I’m traveling?

There are monumental medical issues for world travelers in today’s world is COVID-19. What do I do if I become infected while traveling? Based on the infectious nature of COVID-19, returning to one’s home country would be impossible and risky for others if somehow you managed to get through the priority checking procedures at most airports.

If one becomes infected, it is imperative to immediately arrange for a test to confirm infection and to contact the local health authorities for contact tracing if you are indeed positive. At that point, you’ll be advised as to treatment based on the severity of your symptoms. If you are only a carrier without symptoms or very mild symptoms, you will be required to quarantine for a definite period of time, most often for two weeks.

Some countries may require quarantine at a specific location, although the majority will allow quarantine to transpire at a holiday home or hotel, never leaving the facility during the required period. If symptoms are escalating, a hospital or urgent care visit may be necessary. The local health authorities will advise you in either case.

It’s important to notify the property manager so the holiday home can be properly sanitized after you leave if leaving immediately after the quarantine ends. If you are staying for an additional, extended period, it may be possible for you to sanitize the location upon full recovery since the virus only lives so long after the infection has ended.

Here again, investigate this with the health authorities and the property owner. Hotels do this type of cleaning after quarantined parties are able to vacate. We see the special cleaners in the corridors every day, although we aren’t aware of any cases in this hotel.  But, it is imperative you let them know once you discover you are infected so they can commence proper protection for their staff and other guests.

Taking a test after recovery is equally important to ensure you are no longer infectious. In some cases, a positive test may be present longer than the two week period. As always, wearing an appropriate face mask, social distancing, and washing hands frequently always remain good safety measures.

In conclusion, regarding medical issues for world travelers…

It would be possible to write an entire book on this topic. I have well surpassed the 2000 word requirement at well over 3500 words. In each case, we suggest you contact your doctor(s), your pharmacist, and a family member as an advocate before embarking on a years-long world journey.

Even those, in the seemingly best of health, may fall prey to a serious, and often life-threatening condition while traveling, especially for those in later years. No one is exempt from such issues, regardless of great health at the beginning of their travels.

Of course, living a healthful life while traveling, although no guarantee of avoidance of medical issues for world travelers, it certainly is an important adjunct in predictive outcome in many cases.

Avoiding worry and concern is certainly an important aspect of enjoying world travel. Being educated on all of these topics, carrying appropriate medical information for health and prescriptions, and researching medical care in each country before visiting can play a vital role in ensuring a safe outcome in the event of an unforeseen injury or illness while traveling.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2019:

Shirenewton, Chepstow, Wales, the holiday property
In Shirenewton, Chepstow, Wales, the holiday property, we rented is called The Studio, but is larger than a studio apartment. The main floor consists of a living room, kitchen, dining area, and bathroom. The master bedroom is upstairs on a mezzanine level, a small loft room with a futon bed. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The engrossing work in planning for the future…Do we use a travel agent?…

Oughterard Shrubbery is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy nature.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“A
law was enacted in 2009 that makes it illegal to be drunk in public in Ireland.”

                         _____________________________________
As we conduct research for visiting our next country, we’re amazed over how much more work it is now compared to almost seven years ago when we first began traveling.

This is a stream in Oughterard Shrubbery.

Why is this the case?  It appears there is 10 times the number of websites advertising the same information for the same venue.  Sorting through them to ensure we’re in the correct place with the best pricing, requires diligent efforts by both of us.


Once we get on a specific site simultaneously from each of our laptops and carefully peruse it, we’re more able to determine if we should seek out another site.  

Steps to the stone footbridge over the stream.

It’s a time-consuming process, often taking several hours a day for a week or more, to decide on what we’d like to do, which site we’ll use, reviews from other users, and the details of the booking, it’s only then, we’ll go ahead and book the venue.


It’s not as if we have a travel agent.  With the complication of the nature of our lives, it wouldn’t be prudent to leave the many facets of our travel in the hands of a stranger.  

As in most areas of Ireland, there is a tremendous number of stones.

Yes, we use Vacations-to-Go for most of our cruise bookings after having worked with them since mid-2012 when we booked our first cruise.  We’ve been shifted from one rep to another over the years, as they’ve come and gone or been promoted in the company.


In a few cases, we felt the rep assigned to us couldn’t handle our needs leaving us to diplomatically contact a manager for a suggestion for another more experienced rep.  Right now, we’re very happy with Heather at Vacations-to-Go, our knowledgeable rep with years of experience.

Pretty flowers in the park.

Now, as we research plans for early 2020, we’re finding the best route is to use a travel agency when we know so little about the country and the places within that country that appeal to our tastes.  Even so, this still is a complicated process.


At times, particularly on cruises, other passengers have described how much work they put into booking a single cruise, considering transportation to and from the airport or pier, public or private transportation while in the country, tipping policies, hotel bookings, and the many nuances of the cruise itself.

It’s interesting how most of us are drawn to water scenes.

When booking a cruise, the cabin number and its location within the ship can require hours of research and contemplation, let alone the choice for dining times; excursions either through the ship or privately; WiFi availability and costs; drink packages and the various pricing;  pre-booked spa services, if desired; and specialty restaurant packages often offered before sailing.


For an inexperienced traveler, this task can be daunting, if not overwhelming.  For us, it was a trial and error process since we were traveling non-stop. For many travelers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-a-year trip, for which they expect relative perfection.

An onlooker on the bridge over the stream.


Nothing is more frustrating than discovering a cabin is located above or below the disco (this happened to us once and they moved us after three days of requesting a change).  I could hear and feel the vibration of the music in my pillow at 1:00 am.  (The disco often stays open until 3:00 am).  Early on, we certainly learned a lesson after this experience.


But, these particulars are often unknown to the average traveler and we often see long lines at the ship’s customer service desk with disgruntled passengers wanted to change to a different cabin.  Additionally, more experienced cruisers will wait in this queue for hours to request a free upgrade.

Sheep running away when we stopped for photos.

There’s no way we’re interested in standing in line for two hours to upgrade our cabin.  We strive to book the best possible cabin for our budget, thus far always with a balcony (this could change down the road) and if everything is working, clean and safe, we’re happy to stay put.


So now, as we work to book the next country we’ll visit, we do so with the utmost of care and consideration.  Soon, we have some details to share.

May your day be filled with wonders.

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2018:

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle.  It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park.  It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact same vehicle at this exact same property, looking at himself in the window of the vehicle.  Click here for that post. Please click here for the one year ago post.




Filling in the gaps…It was about time to start booking for the future…

Louise and her adventurous son Jandre (who recently returned from an exciting two months in Thailand) stopped by for a visit and sundowners last night.  There was a bowl of nuts for the humans and a bigger bowl of carrots and apples for the wildlife.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After Louise had seen our photos of Little coming up the steps to the veranda, we all laughed out loud when he did it again while they were here.  

In years past, six to be exact, we always stayed on top of filling in gaps in our itinerary.  As a matter of fact, during the first few years, we were always completely booked for two years in advance.


As time has marched on we’ve found it isn’t necessary to have every gap, every hotel, every vacation rental, every car rental, and every flight booked so far in advance. 

However, we’ve found it necessary to know where we’d prefer to be in the upcoming two years, enabling us to research.  Also, we never show up in a country without reservations for a hotel or holiday home.  We have no interest in “winging it.”
We’re always thrilled to see giraffes in Marloth Park.

Traveling the world has been a learning process.  When we started in 2012, there wasn’t a training manual on how to do this.  Over the years many travelers have asked us for advice and we’ve been delighted to share our best tips for those considering embarking on this lifestyle.

Recently, we read that over 1,000,000 Americans are traveling full-time.  There were so few when we started six years ago.  At this point, we often wonder how many have been traveling, without a home or apartment or motorhome, without storage, or without a car, who’ve been traveling for six years or more.

If you’ve been “out there” for longer than five or six years, we’d love to hear from you and compare notes.  We’ve met many who’ve traveled in a motorhome for decades.  To us, that’s a home of sorts and generally, those who’ve made this choice, generally stay on one continent, most often their home country to avoid immigration issues.

They often stop eating to check us out.  Once realizing we’re aren’t a threat, they return to eating the leaves on the treetops.

Many years ago long before we ever decided to travel the world, we discussed the idea of owning a motorhome and traveling the US but dismissed it entirely when the discussion came up in January 2012, of traveling the world.  

We didn’t want the responsibility of owning “stuff” packed into a “moving home” nor did we care for the idea of the upkeep, maintenance, and daily management a motorhome requires.  For many, they do this with ease and enthusiasm.  It just wasn’t right for us.

Oddly, as world travelers, we aren’t that big on long road trips.  We never have been.  This fact has inspired us to find countries, towns, villages we’d like to visit and stay put for a month or more as we make every effort to learn the culture, adapt and blend in.

At quite a distance, a hippo we spotted yesterday on our usual drive.

From this perspective, we’ve gleaned the best experiences we could ever expect and we look forward to the future as much now as we did in the beginning.  Plus, in the process, we’ve learned to “live in the moment” wherever that may be.

This one year stint in Marloth Park will be our last long-term stay (beyond three months).  It was only this magical place that inspired us to stay for such an extended period.  When we return in December 2020, we’ll only stay in South Africa for 90 days, avoiding any potential immigration hassles.

It wasn’t that we haven’t loved every moment in Marloth Park.  We’ve had a fantastic experience that ends in a mere 61 days.  It will be hard to leave our human and animal friends.  
But, it will be time to move on and resume our continuing travels throughout the world, not staying too long in any one location.  There’s still so much world left to experience.  Health provided, we’ll continue for as long as we can.

Recently, we’d considered going to Rwanda to see the gorillas.  But after careful review of our budget and upcoming expenses (many flights, two cruises and the balance on the amazing Kenya tour in February), we decided we needed to hold off on that adventure until we return to Africa in 2020.

A pair of cape buffalos grazing at the river’s edge.

These decisions aren’t always easy but practicality must prevail in our lifestyle if we intend to be able to continue on indefinitely at this point.  We are not wealthy people, as some world travelers, we’ve encountered along the way.  We must remain frugal and sensible at all times.


But, in the process, we’ve learned how to find great holiday rentals, at prices affordable for our budget.  Of course, pricing is often subject to how long one stays and of course, the good exposure the landlords acquire from our online promotion of their rental properties.  These two facts alone have played a big role in making this work for us without sacrificing living in nice properties.

With the Kenya tour beginning on February 22, 2019, and the South Africa visa requirement that we depart on February 15, 2019, suddenly we were looking at a week we had to fill between these two dates.

The question became, how expensive could we make this week and still stay within the budget.  Hotels and resorts in Kenya are expensive considering the quality we prefer.  

A four elephant family spending time together at the river.

Since we’ll be embarking on the extensive and expensive Greg Harvey safari photographic tour (click here for details) for 15 nights beginning on February 22nd and after all the safari and wildlife experiences we’ve had in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana over the past year, we decided to keep costs down and spend a quiet week in Nairobi, Kenya.


We won’t be sitting around the hotel day and night.  There are several sightseeing venues we’ll explore while there which we’ll share with photos along the way.

Last night, we booked the hotel, close to the airport where we’ll leave the bulk of our luggage when we take off on the 22nd and return to on the last day, according to the itinerary of the tour.  This way, we won’t have to move all of our stuff leaving us more time to do what we’d like during the one week stay.

We booked the Four Points by Sheraton near the airport at a cost for seven nights of ZAR 22764 (US $1582) which includes breakfast, wi-fi, and a king deluxe room.  Our additional expenses will be tours, transportation, tips, and the evening meal. (Neither of us eats lunch or snacks during the day based on our way of eating that totally eliminates daytime hunger).

A mom and youngster at the Crocodile River.

We also booked a hotel in Nelspruit, fairly close to the airport, for one night on February 14th since our flight to Kenya departs early in the morning.  With the over an hour drive from Marloth Park to the airport with potential road delays we’ve experienced in the past, we decided to take no risks and stay overnight in Nelspruit.  

Next, we’ll be getting to work on booking our flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Santiago, Chile on March 7th or 8th.  The Kenya tour ends on March 7th, (which is the date of our wedding anniversary) and we haven’t decided if we’ll stay one more night in Kenya or head directly to South America the same day.  We’ll know once we check out flights in the next few days.

So there it is folks.  The beginnings of filling in the gaps in our itinerary over the two years, all of which we’ll continue to post here as we go along.

Tonight, we’re dining at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with Rita and Gerhard and Kathy and Don, who are returning to Marloth Park for the holidays.  We have lots of exciting plans with our friends over the holiday season and for Tom’s birthday as well on December 23rd.

Have a fabulous weekend!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2017:

Note the snow-covered pointed peaks in the Chilean Fiords.  For more photos, please click here.

Dealing with “stuff.”…Can’t escape certain issues while traveling…More astounding visitor numbers!…

After our recent record-breaking 20 kudus in the garden, we were flabbergasted when 25 showed up all at once a few days later!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

I believe this is a hadeda bird who makes exquisite sounds flying overhead at dusk.

There’s the issue of our package.  It was sent by US Postal Service on May 28th and has yet to arrive.  The cost for insurance for the contents was over ZAR 5754 (US $400).  We didn’t want to pay this added amount and decided to take the risk.  Never again.  Not doing so was a big mistake on our part.

We must have gone through 10 kg (22lbs) of pellets while they visited.

In the future, all packages we ship from the US will have to be sent via UPS, FED EX, and DHL while we succumb to paying the outrageous costs for expediency.  In the interim, we continue to track the package which last arrived in Johannesburg where it’s been stuck since June 6th.

After waiting a while for more pellets which we wanted to save until Thursday when we shop, they began to wander off.

Louise, who’s an absolute miracle worker in all areas, hasn’t been able to pin it down to get it here.  I called Louise’s contact again this morning pleading for help and offering to pay a fee to have the package brought to us.  This may work.  We shall see.

“No more food?  We’re off to the next bush house!”

Apparently, there was a post office strike months ago and they still aren’t caught up at the processing center.  The box could easily be in a shipping container, yet to be unpacked.  Oh, good grief.  

When wildlife, such as these wildebeests lie down in the garden like this, it may indicate they feel comfortable and safe enough to rest for a bit.

Life on the move is often a mishmash of extraordinary experiences interspersed with problematic situations and challenges, some of which can be resolved with persistence, coupled with a degree of patience.  

These could be a mating pair.

This sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not.  Kindly persistence is crucial…there’s no room for angry outbursts or threatening tones in one’s voice.  As for being patient, once we’ve done all we can do, we must wait.  

A young wildebeest made himself at home in the garden resting after a pellet frenzy.

We remind ourselves…this is Africa, not the US where even there one can encounter endless cases of incompetence and lack of desire to get the job done proficiently.  Not every worker is like many of us in our fields of endeavor as we strived to “get the job done” as seamlessly and quickly as possible.

But, expecting such degrees of competence and motivation is not always easy to find and when we do, it’s more glaring than those who aren’t competent.  The competent become the anomaly.

Wildebeest Willie hung around for several hours, resting and eating a few pellets from time to time.  He makes good eye contact, letting us know exactly what he wants.  Do I detect a morsel of love in those looks?  Could be.

Now, as we struggle with our immigration issues we can only hope and pray that as we finalize future plans we can count on the people at the other end who will ultimately be responsible for our comfort and convenience.  That’s a big bill to fill.


We often comment to one another how fortunate we’ve been during this past almost six years (upcoming anniversary of travels in 63 days) when each time we’ve paid for and arrived to rent a holiday home, its been mostly as described.  

The kudus and the wildebeests get along well.

The only exception to this was the very first house we rented in Belize which turned out to be a fiasco.  There was only running water a few hours each day and many more issues. We left in seven days and lost our money. To this day, we don’t know how we didn’t turn back and say we didn’t want to do this after all.

However, without complaining to one another, we carried on as we do now, with the postal service issue, immigration issues and whatever transpires from here.  Whoever may think that traveling the world full-time is easy is kidding themselves.  Like everyday life, wherever you may live in the world, life isn’t easy.

We can choose to embrace it all, figuring out solutions along the way, always striving for resolutions and also preparing for disappointments.


May your day be filled with happy solutions!

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 29, 2017:

From this website: “The owl butterflies, the genus Caligo, are known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls‘ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly at dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods; caligo means darkness.” For more photos, please click here.

Here we go again!…Booking and planning for the future…

Image result for azamara journey photo
The Azamara Journey, smaller than most cruise ships, has a maximum passenger capacity of 690.  Our recent Antarctica cruise on Ponant’s Soleal has a passenger capacity of 264 (only 200 or less allowed to sail in the Antarctic).  Most of the cruise ships on which we’ve sailed in the past have a capacity from 264 to 4100, although some ships are larger and continue to be built for more and more capacity.  We prefer smaller ships such as this.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Frank, our resident Francolin, who’s decided to make our yard his permanent residence.  Francolins are highly territorial and extremely noisy when other francolins invade his space, except of course, for Mrs. Frank.  They’ve been building a nest.  Francolins are monogamous and mate for life.  They nest in grass-lined low lying shallows.  The incubation period is from 18 to 21 days carried out by the female.  Once the eggs hatch both parents tend to the chicks until their first winter.  We’re looking forward to Frank’s and the Mrs.’ chicks.

Last night, after dinner, while sitting at the big table on the veranda we called Vacations to Go on Skype and booked the furthest-out cruise we’ve booked to date.  With good new-listing pricing only available until June 3rd at midnight in the US, we knew if we wanted to sail on this particular cruise, we’d best book in now to ensure we could choose a good cabin.

The cruise embarks on November 10, 2020, almost 2½  years from now, a very long time away.  But, in this life of world travel, with our desires for certain itineraries, on occasion it makes sense to book a cruise, a holiday home or a tour well in advance to ensure a good spot and pricing.

This is the furthest out we’ve booked a cruise since we began booking cruises in early 2012, shortly after we decided to travel the world.  We weren’t thrilled about the ZAR 13,874, (US $1,100) deposit required so far in advance but we had no options if we wanted to secure our preferred cabin. 

This cruise was almost sold out after only being posted online for the past week.  It’s a good thing Tom stays on top of what’s transpiring in the cruise world on almost a daily basis.  He’s the “cruise booking” enthusiast in this family.  I’m too impatient to spend the time researching cruises as Tom does so regularly.

Why was this cruise so important to us?  It brings us back to Africa, 22 months after we leave the continent this upcoming February 2019.  We’ve finally come to the reality and acceptance of the fact that we can’t get this continent out of our hearts and minds to stay away too long.

The cruise embarks from Lisbon and ends 22 days later in Cape Town, South Africa.  Finally, we’ll see Cape Town after Louise and Danie have enthusiastically encouraged us that we “must” see the stunning city and surrounding areas. 

Finally, when the cruise ends, we’ll be able to spend a few days in the sprawling tourist-popular city.  We’re planning to meet up with Louise’s parents, Estelle and Jonas, who live in a nearby suburb.  We certainly enjoyed meeting them here in Marloth Park during their recent visit and would love to see them again.

After a few days in Cape Town, we’ll fly to Nelspruit, rent a car and once again make our way to Marloth Park, but this time for only a 90-day visit.  The visa requirement of leaving South Africa to a non-bordering country can get expensive and again, we’ll have to consider our budget.

We selected this cruise not only to return to South Africa but also it will give us an opportunity to visit many other countries on the west coast of Africa where fewer tourists are inclined to visit.  Here’s the map of the itinerary:

These are the port-of-calls for the countries we’ll visit on this cruise.

We’ve never sailed on Azamara in the past.  Owned by the same corporation that owns Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, our loyalty program will carry over to this cruise, enabling us to partake of several perks we’ve enjoyed on past cruises.
As always, we booked a balcony cabin with cabins both above and below us to avoid noise from various venues on the ship.  Here are some details about the ship:

Azamara Journey

Ship Rating:
The Azamara Journey has all the modern conveniences that the discerning traveler demands. The Journey has an intimate atmosphere with only 690 passengers. With nearly 400 crew members, the staff is always there to offer a drink or a fresh towel. Azamara’s concept of Destination Immersion means that you’ll spend more time in ports, and when you’re on board, you’ll be able to sample the culinary classics of the ports you’re visiting. There’s plenty to do when you’re still on the ship as well, like gambling at the casino, enjoying live entertainment in the Cabaret Lounge, getting a work-out in at the fitness center or kicking back in any of the ship’s many bars. When you’re ready for some well-deserved pampering, the spa is waiting with several signature treatments. You can visit your own private spa deck, indulge in Facial Glow services, get a massage or even relax in an all-day spa ritual. The cruise may not last forever, but the memories will last a lifetime. Azamara Journey

 Ship Statistics 
Year Built 2000
Refurbished 2016
Tonnage 30,277 tons
Registry Malta
Length 593 feet
Beam 84 feet
Passenger Capacity 690
Crew Size 408
Total Inside Cabins 26
Total Outside Cabins 320
Cabins & Suites w/ verandas 247
Suites 42
Maximum Occupancy per room 4
Age Restrictions One person must be 21 or older
Dinner Seatings 2
Seating Assignments
in Main Dining Room
Open
Dining Hours Dining
Dining Room Dress Code Dining
Tipping Expected? No
Tipping Guidelines Azamara includes the gratuities in your cruise fare.
Onboard Currency US Dollar
   
Services & Amenities
Spa Yes
Video Arcade No
Bars/Lounges Yes
Casino Yes
Elevators Yes
Cell Phone Service Yes
Laundromats (self service) Yes
Movie Theatre No
Outdoor Movie Screen No
Onboard Weddings No
Shops Yes
Showroom Yes
Beauty Salon/Barber Shop Yes
Chapel No
Disco/Dancing No
Hot Tub Yes
Internet Center Yes
Wireless Internet Access Yes
Note: Available throughout the ship
Laundry/Dry Cleaning Yes
Library Yes
Fitness & Sports Facilities
Basketball Court No
Fitness Center Yes
Golf Driving Net No
Golf Simulator No
Ice Skating Rink No
Jogging Track Yes
Mini-Golf Course No
Rock Climbing Wall No
Swimming Pool Yes
Tennis Court No
Water Slide No
Water Sports Platform No
Cabin Features & Amenities
24-Hour Room Service Yes
Hair Dryer Yes
Safe Yes
Telephone Yes
Television Yes
Kids Facilities
Babysitting No
Children’s Playroom No
Kiddie Pool No
Supervised Youth Program No
Teen Center No
Water Playground/Splash Park No
Special Needs & Requests
Adjoining Cabins
     (private connecting doors)
Yes
Kosher Meals Yes
Single Occupancy Cabins No
Single Share Program No
Wheelchair-Accessible Cabins 6

For details on pricing for this 22-night cruise, please click here. Cruises around the African continent are always pricey.  With this much advance notice, we’ll have plenty of time to budget for this higher priced cruise.

Its a long way off, but we’re still excited knowing this cruise is on the horizon along with all of the other plans we have for the future.  We haven’t posted a new itinerary since we were in Buenos Aires in which may be found here.  Please scroll to the bottom of this post to see the itinerary.

We still have many gaps in our schedule to fill in and we may be changing some other cruises we have booked into the future.  But this cruise we booked last night, bringing us back to Africa, will definitely stand in place.

Today, we’re updating our spreadsheets with this new booking and tonight we’re heading out to dinner with friends Linda and Ken who returned yesterday to Marloth Park.  Tomorrow evening, we’re making “pizza night” for Kathy, Don, Linda and Ken for another great evening with friends.

Have a great weekend! 

_________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, June 1, 2017:

Last year at this time we were in Minnesota for six weeks visiting family.  At this point, we continued to share more photos from Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, our last stop before departing Canada for the US.  For more photos, please click here.

A new future booking…A change in our itinerary…It pays to be frugal…

Are these poppies?

Its great that we can make itinerary changes whenever we deem it necessary, for cost saving or befits our desires.  The exception in doing so is often predicated by the fact that we may have already paid non-refundable deposits or full payments such as for flights, vacation homes with a no-refund policy and cruises after paying the final payment 90 days prior to sail date (partial refunds may be applicable).

For the remainder of our itinerary, we have the option of changing our minds, finding better deals and instituting price reductions, particularly on cruises. So far in our travels, we haven’t made any major changes, other than for a few cruises.

As Tom continually peruses our existing booked cruises, of which we currently have seven (with more to come), he’s always hoping to find price reductions that may suit our needs.  After considerable research over these past few days, he found a change for a cruise we’d considered changing at some point anyway.

We spotted these flowers in many areas of Tasmania.

We’d booked a cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile while aboard a prior cruise in order to lock up the offered low down payment of AU $274, US $200 (for two), including several perks and cabin credit. 

When booking onboard a ship, our cruise rep still gets “credit” for the transaction and continues to handle the booking.  At any time prior to final payment we can transfer the low down payment to any future cruise, with the same cruise line.

When we booked the above mentioned cruise, at the time we anticipated we’d never keep the booking for two reasons; one, it was the reverse of an itinerary on which we’ll have already sailed; two, the total cost for the cruise was more expensive than we preferred.  Tom watched and waited.


Wildflowers along a country road.

Finally, in the past few days, as more and more cruises became posted, Tom found a replacement for the more expensive, “reverse repeat” cruise that will be much more suited to our future plans to try to visit family in the US every two years.

The fare for the cruise we cancelled yesterday was AU $10,960, US $8,005, as mentioned, way more than we prefer to pay for a 14 night cruise (the exception to this is the upcoming pricey cruise to Antarctica in less than 13 months).

Instead, after speaking with our cruise rep Shanon, aka Brooklyn, at Vacations to Go, we moved our deposit over to the following cruise in its place (see below for itinerary):

Charges

Cruise (includes port charges) 3,198.00
Price Match – 200.00
Government Taxes*    452.68
Pre-Paid Gratuities    405.00  
Total Sale (US$) $ 3,855.68             
 


*subject to change by the cruise line.

Payments

Paid To Type Amount



Celebrity Paid Direct 200.00

Total Payments (US$) $ 200.00
Balance Due (US$) $ 3,655.68
 


Final payment due January 1, 2019.


The total fare for this new cruise, including prepaid gratuities and taxes is AU $5,278.90, US $3,855.61 which based on the above other cruise, constitutes a savings of AU $5,681.16, US $4.149.39. 

We didn’t have to think twice about this, especially when this new cruise is an easy means for us for return to the US for a visit slightly less than two years from our upcoming visit in May, 2017. 

Here’s the itinerary for the new cruise:

Celebrity – Celebrity Eclipse, departs 3/24/19, 15 nights

Day Date Port or Activity Arrive Depart
Sun Mar 24 Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile 9:00pm
Mon Mar 25 La Serena, Chile 10:00am 6:00pm
Tue Mar 26 At Sea
Wed Mar 27 At Sea
Thu Mar 28 Lima (Callao), Peru 7:00am 5:00pm
Fri Mar 29 At Sea
Sat Mar 30 Manta, Ecuador 10:00am 6:00pm
Sun Mar 31 At Sea
Mon Apr 1 Puntarenas, Costa Rica 7:00am 4:00pm
Tue Apr 2 At Sea
Wed Apr 3 Huatulco, Mexico 10:00am 8:00pm
Thu Apr 4 At Sea
Fri Apr 5 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm
Sat Apr 6 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm
Sun Apr 7 At Sea
Mon Apr 8 San Diego, CA 7:00am



Once we arrive in San Diego, we’ll begin the process of visiting family in San Diego and Los Angeles, California; Henderson, Nevada and then on again to Minnesota.

We noticed these wildflowers on the roads from Hobart to Penguin.

Those of you familiar with our upcoming itinerary may ask, “Why are you going back to South America, after spending many months in Africa?”  The answer is clear for us…we’ll return from Africa to head to South America since the proximity makes sense (although its still very far away).

This plan provides us with about a combined year to spend in Africa and South America (during the second visit to the continent) which we’ll continue to plan as we go along.  While in Tasmania at this time we don’t feel any pressure to pin down specific details. 

Once we have pinned down more of the above plan, we’ll update our itinerary and post it here accordingly.  Overall the last itinerary we posted while in Bali, still is accurate except for the change of cruise and time spent in Africa and South America.  Please click here for the link to our most recent itinerary which was posted on October 14, 2016.

Bushy looking plants.

In any case, we haven’t booked this new cruise a lot earlier than many other cruises we’ve booked in the past.  Using cruises for transportation has always been our objective when neither of us cares for the commotion at airports, baggage issues and uncomfortable seating on flights.

This morning, as we reviewed the figures we’re posting today, Tom discovered price reductions on other upcoming cruises.  Once our rep returns to work on Monday in the US, Tuesday here in Australia, we’ll call her and update our pricing to save even more. 

So maybe today, we aren’t out sightseeing on this cool and windy day (8.3C, 47F) but instead we’re staying indoor saving money.  That’s not a bad way to spend a day!

Happy day to all!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2015:

TappooCity, the four story mall in Suva, Fiji, surprised us with its familiar brands.  For more Suva, (the capital city of Fiji), please click here.

Crabby?…Pillowcases and clothing…Change in plans effective in four days…What was the cost?

Large visitor came to call after high tide during the night.  Check out those eyes!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This tiny white sail was able to pull this boat in high winds.

Why we decided to leave the villa five days earlier than planned wasn’t made easily.  We’ve loved it here.  However, practicality came into play inspiring us to consider how to handle the upcoming days  with limited Wi-Fi access, until we fly from Bali after midnight on October 30th.

We’ll arrive in Sydney on October 30th, (the red eye), spend one night in our usual hotel in Sydney located across the street from the port and sail away on the day of our fourth anniversary of traveling the world, October 31st.  What a day to celebrate which we’ll happily do aboard the ship! 

After the overnight stay in the Sydney hotel we’ll have recovered from the red eye (who sleeps well on a plane?) and be excited to embark on the 33 night cruise circumventing the continent of Australia on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas.

Our original plan was to take off from the villa for the four or five hour harrowing drive on Saturday where we’d stay for several hours, not a full night, before heading to airport as required at 10 pm to board the midnight flight to Sydney.  With this plan, we wouldn’t have to hang out at the airport for hours.

A friend of Ketut’s made these two pillowcases to fit my new pillow that arrived in the recent package.  The cost for both of these was only US $3.07, IDR 40,000!

We could have planned a later departure from the villa to head directly to the airport but with the long drive, the physical stress of sitting so long and the outrageous traffic, we decided several quiet hours at the hotel was certainly worth the low cost for the hotel.

As a result, we booked a room at at the exceptional Hilton Garden Inn in Kuta which is close the airport.  We’d use the room as a resting point until 10 pm, to then depart for the airport for the nighttime flight.  This made all the sense in the world when neither of us wanted to spend eight hours hanging around the airport. 

We’ve stayed at this hotel twice in these past months and with their low rates, it was a no-brainer.  Then, a few days ago something dawned on me.  Why not go one day earlier to ensure we’ve had at least one good night’s rest before the red eye? 

Neither of us ever sleeps much the night before departure from a vacation home when are minds are preoccupied with getting up on time, finishing last minute packing and getting on our way  Overall, our lives consist of few time constraints, other than departure dates. Its easy to get caught up in the particulars when unable to sleep during the last night.

After wearing a beautiful top like this when we dressed in Hindu attire as shown in this post, I decided to buy a few of these lace tops realizing these would be perfect on formal nights on cruises.  Ketut brought several colors for me to try on.  I ended up purchasing five colors at only US $12.29, IDR 160,000 each!  Now I’ll have to toss five items from my luggage to maintain the proper weight.

This conversation while in the pool yesterday changed to the prospect of leaving for the hotel next Friday instead of Saturday. Then everything changed.  We got out of the pool, showered and changed and tried over and over again to get online to add the one more night’s hotel stay.

Unable to get online for several hours even when rebooting the router, we came to the conclusion that we should actually leave earlier than we’d discussed in the pool.  With the owners next door having arrived on Tuesday and their use of the shared Wi-Fi router located between the two villas on a massive pole, we had a difficult time getting online.

We certainly don’t blame the owners of this wonderful property.  The property listing was clear that the shared signal was sketchy.  Over these past almost four months we’ve somehow managed but now, with them sharing, its become all the more problematic. 

Ribut and the new guy who works next door, were raking the grass in front of the pool after a very high tide brought in debris overnight.

The weak signal is simply not strong enough to suit our needs while they’re  using it as well.  Nor would we ask them to do anything differently.  After all, this is their property and they’re here only a few weeks.  Like us, they also need to be online.

After waiting a few hours, entertaining ourselves otherwise, (neither of us complaining), we made the decision to leave for Denpasar (Kuta) five days earlier than planned.

Finally, around 6 pm, we managed to get online and book the hotel at the same unbelievable rate of US $50, IDR 649,149 per night for five more nights.  (We’d already paid the same amount for Saturday’s non-overnight booking).  This rate includes the buffet breakfast.  See below for the five night total:

 

Payment details

Price for room 1
Monday, October 24, 2016 $50.47
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 $50.47
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 $50.47
Thursday, October 27, 2016 $50.47
 
Tax recovery charges and service fees $42.40
Total amount paid $244.28


Click here for photos and amenities for this excellent hotel.

The hotel has a free airport shuttle, a coin operated laundry, an enormous pool and a beautiful affordable dinner menu.  Last time we dined at this hotel was on June 28th, (click here for the post with photos) when the chef had come to our table to confirm that I’d been happy with the special meal he’d made for me. 

We don’t leave here early flippantly.  We’ve paid for these final days and won’t be getting our money back nor would we ask for it. We appreciate all the kindness and attentive care we’ve received each and every day by the beautiful and gentle Balinese people and our household staff of four.


Guy in the ocean at sunset.

Over the weekend, we’ll pack to prepare for Monday morning’s departure from Sumbersari at 9 am for the four or five hour harrowing drive.  Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll be happy the long drive is behind us. 

We’ll have time to get caught up on some future booking tasks we’ve had trouble completing while here with the slow Internet and of course, on Monday once we arrive, Tom will be able to watch the Minnesota Vikings football game.

Prior to leaving the villa on Monday we’ll post our final expenses for the time we spent in Sumbersari.  Then, on the final day at the hotel , we’ll do the post for the expenses incurred for the six booked nights at the hotel, meals, drinks, tips, and transportation.

Regardless of the difficulty of getting online we’ll continue to post over these next three days as we wrap up our time at this lovely villa.

Be well.

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2015:



Fiji’s version of a “quick and easy,” or superette.  Please click here for the year ago post.
 

The prospect of a scary change in plans?…Five days and counting…Photos at a premium…

Chalong Bay in Phuket.

While living in most locations when we get low on photos its not a problem.  We jump in the rental car for a drive searching for interesting scenes to capture.  If we don’t have a rental car and are using a driver, we get out often enough each week to get all the photos we need for the posts.

Now, down to five days until departure, with my ongoing recovery process and the less-than-stellar rental car, I’ve had little desire to get out to take photos.  With the blurry film on the windows it requires I get out of the low seat in the car to avoid taking photos through the glass which in itself in my current condition feels like an athletic event.

If you’ve ever owned or gone for a ride in a Corvette, it kind of feels like the same thing…not necessary the right vehicle for getting it and out of when suffering from a spinal condition.  Under normal circumstances, this would be less of a challenge.

Its not as if I can’t get in and out of the less-than-stellar rental car.  Its that I don’t want to re-injure myself subsequently staring the healing process all over again.

Boats stored at the shore as opposed to a marina.

Only days away from a full three months of recovering, I’ve only spent half of this period over these past almost six weeks in Phuket actually “working on” getting better, I’ve finally begun to turn the corner.  

On many occasions over these past weeks, I’d mentioned improvement in our posts although it was in such small increments it was barely noticeable.  Frustration easily set in when I’d awaken each day only to find the pain was basically still the same.

A few times, as recently as in the past two weeks, we considered a visit to a hospital. After reading many negative online reviews about local medical care, we decided against it.  Instead, we made a plan that if I didn’t improve close to our scheduled time to leave Phuket, we might head directly to Sydney and drop out of our airfare and booking for Bali. 

As we seriously considered such a plan we had to accept the reality that we’d lose rent for the two month booking in Bali (on such short notice) and also the non-refundable airfare.  This change would ultimately cost us thousands of dollars.  Tom, as worried as he’s been about me, never flinched over this prospect while I cringed over the prospect.

Yard of a house in the neighborhood with motorbikes and clothes drying on a line.

As soon as this possibility came to light, I decided I had to do something different to escalate the healing process to ensure we could continue with our future plans. 

I began reading volumes of books on the topic of healing compression fractures, speeding recovery for back, neck and spinal injuries and came to a few new conclusions:

1.  Started a light exercise program…very light and gentle following recommendations in a great book I read.
2.  Changed the pillow I was sleeping on from flat to slightly fuller, creating an indentation for my head.
3.  Changed from using mostly ice to using mostly heat on and off throughout the day and evening. (Using a microwaveable gel pack).  At bedtime I positioned an ice pack close to my spine using a rolled towel to hold it in place while lying on my side.
4.  Have Tom massage pressure points on my back twice a day.
5.  Only lie down for 10 minutes at a time instead of longer periods during the day.  Spend more time standing and walking around the house.
6.  No bending at all, which seems to be the most harmful at this point.
7.  Sleep with a medium sized pillow between evenly placed bent legs, again lying on my side.
8.  Focus on having perfect posture when walking and sitting.
9.  Using the speech recognition software for better ergonomics when typing.

With only five days until departure I can definitely say I’ve improved by no less than 75% in these past weeks, no longer feeling as if we must change our plans to get me to a major accredited hospital.

Oh, maybe it was “safari luck” and the implementation of the above changes or a combination of both.  That’s the thing about medical care, when one begins implementing multiple modalities, its difficult to determine which measures most contributed to the improvement.

The mix of the old and the new is commonly found in Phuket.

I’ll continue with all of the above even after we arrive in Bali.  With no required cooking, cleaning , laundry or tidying necessary with the daily household staff, I’ll spend more time focusing on continuing to improve on this remaining 25%.

By far, these past three months have been the most challenging since we began our travels on October 31, 2012.  Surely many of our readers can look back over the past four years to recall periods of time when life wasn’t exactly as you might have liked it to be.

Tom comments about how I overall maintained a good attitude through this. Each day I’ve struggled to stay optimistic. I was scared to death, to be honest, scared our travels were over, scared our lives would have to change to accommodate my limited range of motion, my ability to walk long distances and my overall interest in getting out.

Yesterday, I packed my single clothing suitcase which in doing so gave me hope, leaving out clothing for the next few days.  I sat on the bed folding everything and then standing straight I placed them into my open bag which is situated on a tall luggage rack.  The rest will be easy. 

This simple act added to my optimism removing a sense of dread I had about packing.  Tom would happily have packed for me but I needed to know I could do it.

Many homes are raised above ground in the event of flooding.

As we continue over these next few days, we apologize for the lack of interesting photos.  Its the way it is for now.  And, once we arrive in Bali, we may be posting similar photos to those we’d taken during our last stay, although all photos we’ll share in future posts will be new. 

Halfway through our second round in Bali we plan to stay in a hotel in Lovina for five days to complete the every-other-day-three-step required visa extension process.  During that mini vacation/holiday, we’ll explore taking many photos we’ll excitedly share in posts to come. 

Once we leave Bali at the end of October for the 33 night cruise to circumvent Australia, we’ll have many months of exciting cruises and tours, along with the stay in Tasmania at two separate locations for six weeks each and a 40 night stay in the exquisite city of Sydney.

So, loyal readers…on we go to continue in our world travels with a renewed hope for the future, as always striving for good health as we share all of our steps along the way.

Have a healthful, productive day!

________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2015:

The colorful views around us was only a small section of the Great Barrier Reef which we visited by boat one year ago today.  For more photos, please click here.

Excitement over future US plans…An unexpected oops in the villa…Fabulous food photos

 
Yes, I ate this entire plate of spicy Balinese chicken atop a bed of stir fried vegetables along with a salad.  This is one of our favorite meals.  Yes, this is an entirely sugar free, grain free, starch free, gluten free meal with under 10 grams of carbs (carbs coming from vegetables only).  See Tom’s plate below.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This group of cute Balinese kids stopped for a photo with their white horse who also wanted to be get in the photo.

We’re thrilled to have worked out the details for our upcoming stay in the US
in 11 months.  As mentioned in a previous post, we ditched the RV plan for a
hotel and have since negotiated the particulars with Country Inn and Suites in Plymouth, Minnesota from May 26 to July 7, 2017 for a 42 night stay.
 

Our link for Hotels.com here on our site led us to their corporate division for “group rates” when we entered the information for the extended stay. Although we’re hardly a group, the longer stay put us into the group pricing category enabling us to save almost US $100, IDR $1,333,750 per night.

A few mornings ago when Tom was opening the accordion doors as he does each mornings, suddenly wood and plaster fell to the floor.  Constant humidity certainly attributed to this occurrence in the four year old villa.

Over a period of the past week the corporate site rep sent us numerous possibilities
that would accept a corporate discount.  We’d hoped to stay closer to Highways
100 and 394 in Minneapolis but the options were few, resulting in costs at least
50% higher.

Also, an aspect we found especially exciting was the fact that we negotiated
a price to include three children in our reservation.  With our six
grandchildren, if any would like to stay overnight, swim in the two huge pools while
hanging out with us, there will be no questions asked. 

Within an hour Ribud was on a ladder making temporary repairs allowing the doors to be fully operational until the plaster repair can transpire, most likely after we leave.


The hotel offers the following services and amenities:

  • 24-hour business center
  • 24-hour coffee, cookies and candy (complimentary)
  • Adjacent to Grizzly’s Grill & Bar (room service also provided)
  • Airport shuttle services for individuals and groups from SuperShuttle, based at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Transportation Level (fees apply)
  • Dry cleaning
  • Electronic room locks
  • Fax, copier and computer services
  • Fitness center
  • Forgotten items service
  • Free high-speed Internet access
  • Free weekday newspaper
  • Group rates available
  • Hot Be Our Guest Breakfast (complimentary)
  • On-site parking (complimentary)
  • Read It & Return Lending LibrarySM
  • TourStop® amenities for groups
  • Two laundry rooms, located in the hotel
  • Two indoor pools and whirlpool tubs
  • Weekday local area shuttle service within a five-mile radius (complimentary)
  • Weekend contracted shuttle services to designated venues; reserve with the Sales Department 


When Country Inn and Suites offered us an upgraded King Suite with a living
room, mini kitchen and free wifi, all of which included a free hot breakfast for five,
any given morning and much more, it was hard to resist. 

In no time at all, Ribud had the door folding properly for our continued use during our remaining nine days in the villa.

Prices are high to stay in the US for six weeks.  Rental cars, city and state
taxes, dining out and groceries are much higher than we’re used to paying throughout the world.  Currently we’re researching the remainder of the other expenses although its
still a little too soon to book our flight from Seattle to Minneapolis. 

Within
a few weeks we’ll fall into the 330 day advance flight booking window.
An interesting aspect of a long term hotel stay we hadn’t considered earlier
is that in the State of Minnesota, any hotel stays over 31 days are considered tax exempt
for a long term rental/leased property. 

Our meals are always hot, fresh and delicious.

The corporate account manager at Country Inn & Suites explained
in email that we’ll be credited the full amount of the sales tax at the end of
our stay to include the entire 42 nights at a savings of over 7.25% per day.
 For the purposes of illustration we won’t include the sales tax in today’s
total of US $4,494, IDR $59,938,725 for the 42 nights plus the cost of
incidentals. 

Adding the ancillary costs for flights, rental car, fuel, meals
(groceries and dining out), entertainment (activities with kids and grandkids)
and whatever miscellaneous costs we may incur, we’re anticipating the total cost
for the six weeks will be in the range of US $12,000, IDR $160,050,000.

Had we stuck with the original RV rental plan, we’d easily have incurred
almost twice the above amount. Gee…we don’t like it always to have to be about
money but, living this lifestyle or any lifestyle for that matter, requires one
to consider all the potential costs. 

Tom seems to be able to tolerate eating white rice a few times per week while continuing to maintain his newly acquired 20 pound, 9 kg weight loss (since our arrival in Bali.

Since we pay off (in full) all of our credit cards every month, incurring no short or
long term debt, being frugal and sensible is the only way this life is
possible.  If we “used up” all of our “available credit” on our cards, we’d be
in deep trouble.  

If we used all of our available credit on our cards how would we pay for the
next three months for a vacation home or an upcoming cruise or flight?  We’ve
found such tight budgetary diligence has made our travels as stress free as
possible barring any unforeseen events over which we have no control.

Over the past few days, its rained all afternoon forcing us indoors due to
thunder and lightening.  Today, the sky is clear, the sea is blue, there’s the expected heat
and humidity and…of course, there’s tons of flies and ants which seem to thrive after heavy rains. But, we’re as content
as we can be, especially with these new US plans in place. 

We hope your day brings you contentment as well!

______________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2015:

Our second kangaroo sighting of the day at a nearby field in Trinity Beach.  The first, we saw in a flash while walking in the rain forest, unable to take a photo in time.  It was exciting to finally see kangaroos in the wild.  For more, please click here.