12 hour power outage due to a big storm…Hot today…103F, 39.3C…

This is a new friend, named Father Brown, a praying mantis.

Last night, while dining on the veranda at Jabula with Kathy and Don, we were wrapped up in lively conversation when a storm rolled in. Dawn and her staff immediately went into action to bring everyone inside, including tables and chairs, to ensure there was room inside for everyone who’d been dining outdoors.

Lightning and thunder followed during the pouring rain. They were already operating on generator power since load shedding was happening, which began at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs. By the time we got home, the power was out. The house and bedroom were probably around 90F, 32C, too hot to sleep with the hot temperatures.

Broken Horn is trying to stay in the shade while we get the pellets. It’s awfully hot for them as well.

Somehow we knew it was more than load shedding, especially when the power never returned after the usual 2½ hour outage. Luckily, we have the inverter, which can run one fan in the bedroom, charge our phones and laptops, and maintain a WiFi signal.

It’s a rarity to see the bushbucks lying down, but it’s so hot today. They are seeking comfort in the bit of shade in our garden. This is Stringy.

But, we were mainly concerned about the US $214, ZAR 3219, we’d spent on groceries yesterday. How long would everything keep fresh in the refrigerator? When it didn’t come back on by 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs, we filled the big metal bowl with ice and set it inside the fridge, which was packed with dairy products, tons of fresh vegetables, and a massive package of ground beef I’d planned to use today to make meatloaf, enough to last for a few days.

We moved the ground beef to the freezer atop a few rows of ice cube trays and hoped for the best. I struggled to stay asleep in the heat during the night when thinking about the food in the fridge, hoping we wouldn’t lose much. This morning, after  12 hours, the power returned, much to our delight.

Medium Spikey, trying to rest in the shade.

We checked the fridge and the freezer, and most of the food was still cold. The meat in the freezer hadn’t defrosted, nor had the hamburger frozen overnight. But it was cold to the touch, and I feel confident using it today. Early this morning, I put together all the ingredients for the meatloaf I’m making for tonight, to be cooked on the braai, to avoid heating the house any more than it already is. Also, I made low carb, no sugar ketchup to go along with the meatloaf.

Two bushbucks were lying in the shade in the garden.

The meat is in the fridge, ready to be cooked at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs,  along with a big salad, fresh steamed green beans, broccoli, and white rice we’ll prepare for Tom 30 minutes before everything else is done.

With the food prep out of the way, I can relax the remainder of the day, except for doing laundry and exercises. When I say relax, I mean, I’ll hide away in the bedroom with the fan on high while I get back to work on the corrections. At the rate I am going now, I should finish this tedious task in four to five days!

Meet Gordon Ramsey. He likes to dig in the dirt with his horns, looking to dig up roots to eat.

Many animals are stopping by, even in this excessive heat. Most are drinking the fresh water in the birdbath. We’ve been chilling cabbage and carrots to serve to them. At the moment, the mongooses are here, enjoying Tom’s rib bones and Kathy’s prawn shells from last night’s dinner. Broken Horn is munching on pellets and carrots. He doesn’t care for cabbage, nor do the warthogs, which enable everyone to have a little something they like without sharing too much.

These prawns with heads which Kathy doesn’t care to eat, make an excellent treat for the mongoose. This pile will soon be gone.

Right now, it’s hot and sunny, but rain is expected in a few hours. Clouds must be rolling in. The temperature is expected to drop considerably, hopefully cooling us and the wildlife a little on this hot, humid day in the bush. But, in any case, we’re good. There are always workarounds during power outages, and over the years we’ve spent in Marloth Park, we have learned to make the best of the situation, especially when we’re blissfully distracted by our wildlife and human friends.

Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #228. The grocery store in Savusavu, Fiji, where we shop for a few items each week. There was only one aisle with food. The other two aisles consisted of cleaning supplies, Christmas decorations, and Diwali fireworks. For more photos, please click here.

A question posed by our readers…What will we do first when we move on?…

During an uncommonly heavy rainstorm in Sumbersari, Bali, I went out to the freezer in the garage to get some ice. I saw this long black thing, referred to as an omangomang in Balinese, moving along the garage floor. I called out to Tom to come to see it. He grabbed the camera and came running. Creepy. Was that an eye looking out at us? 

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

Today’s photos are from June 15, 2016, while in Sumbersari, Bali, Indonesia. See the link here for more details.


Many of our readers who are also on lockdown in many parts of the world posed an inquiry, “What will be the first things you’ll want to do once you arrive in another country, once free of a lockdown?”
A perfect sunny day at low tide.

It is possible once we leave Mumbai, we’ll end up in quarantine for our first two weeks. This may be a self-quarantine in a holiday home or a government-approved hotel. It will be disappointing to be required to spend the first 14 or 21 days of a 60 or 90-day visa in quarantine. But, we may have no choice.

Will this requirement deter us from visiting a specific country? No, not if it’s a location we feel confident we’ll enjoy once the quarantine has ended. It’s purely a by-product of the times of coronavirus.

Suddenly, the legs came out of the long black shell, and the crustacean dragged itself along the garage floor. 

In actuality, it would concern us if a country had no safety requirements for incoming international travelers. We’re totally fine with continuing social distancing, wearing face masks, and frequent hand-washing, which we, along with the rest of the world, as a requirement for years to come.

However, the question as to what we’ll want, what we’ll do, and how we will live in the future as other world travelers may do as well, in part, is subject to a see-how-it-goes scenario. 

An ocean view while the van was moving through traffic.

After we’ve done so well living in this small single hotel room, will we be less inclined to rent smaller holiday rentals in the future? Over the years, we’ve stayed in a few properties described as “studios” for short periods to full-sized four or five-bedroom houses/villas.

From now on, I am anticipating we’ll prefer to book a full-sized freestanding house. Having space is particularly appealing at this time, more than ever in the past.

On the left is a restaurant, and on the right is a data (SIM) card store.

A pleasant view is a must. The view out of our hotel room’s windows and the corridors consists of rundown abandoned building sites, apartments, and office buildings. We don’t plan to book property of any type in a crowded downtown area in any country.

However, as mentioned above, some countries may require international visitors to stay in government-approved hotels in downtown areas during a mandatory quarantine period at their own expense. This fact won’t deter us from visiting such a country, but we’ll be anxious to have the quarantine period end, allowing us to move to a holiday home in outlying areas.

Motorbike drivers stop at the beaches along the highway for a lunch break or purchase products from roadside stands.

Necessity and desire for me will be an excellent place to walk even if it’s limited to the property’s grounds in the event lockdown status prohibits outdoor exercise. Based on what we’ve been reading thus far, few countries prohibit outdoor exercise, unlike here in India, where it is strictly forbidden at this time.

As you’ve read here numerous times, shopping for groceries and supplies is high on our list of scheduled activities. Tom and I often discuss what we’d like to eat for dinner that first night or in weeks to come. Tom is particularly excited about eating beef again, which for me was not much of a sacrifice.
A few stretches of the highway can be less busy in the nearby town of Nagara.

That’s not to say. A big juicy steak wouldn’t be appealing during that first week. Although Tom has no problem eating chicken regularly, he prefers beef and pork for most meals. Often I make pork or beef for him while I have chicken or fish. 

As time goes by, I have less and less interest in eating pork with my passion for warthogs and pigs of all types. I’d never been able to be a vegetarian with my restrictive diet, nor would I want to give up all animal protein. As we age, animal protein may be a great source of strength, muscle retention, and healing. 

Commercial building along the highway.

The feel of a breeze on our faces, the sounds of birds singing, the rustling of leaves on trees, the views of a sunrise or sunset, the smells and sounds of the ocean, a countryside scene, savoring the magnificence of wildlife. Above all, the joy of companionship and lively chatter with other humans sounds good to us.

Freedom. It’s all about freedom, which for us has been the foundation of our desire to travel the world. For now, it has been stripped away, as it has been for people from all over the world. In the future, will we experience that powerful sense of freedom we so much relished in the past? Only time will tell.

The more each of us commits to aid in reducing the spread of Covid-19, the sooner our freedom will be restored to enjoy our beautiful planet and all the treasures it has to offer.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2019:

It was thrilling to see white sandy beaches with little to no debris in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.
IMG_2494

Beautiful flowers brighten our day from Kauai, Hawaii, five years ago…Building a comfortable routine…

The birth of an Alpaca “cria” while we had a fantastic opportunity to oversee the births while the farm owners were away. Please click here for the story with many photos, including the main image, one of our favorites.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Please click here for those who may have missed the post with SW News Media’s article on our story.

As we look back at posts from five years ago, our current source of photos since we, like you, are stuck indoors, we can’t help but smile over the beautiful experiences we’ve had in our travels over the past 7½ years.

It’s those very photos that we’re enjoying now, while in lockdown, more than ever before. They are a reminder of not only what we’ve cherished in the past but what we can anticipate for the future with enthusiasm and hope.

 I squealed when I spotted this gorgeous Rhododendron at the Princeville Botanical Gardens from this post five years ago. 

Thanks to our readers and Facebook friends for the many loving and encouraging messages we received yesterday on Easter and each day. Many have continued to suggest solutions to our situation, but we are pretty fine, both physically and emotionally.

With the number of cases rapidly rising in India, at 9240 cases with 331 deaths, we anticipate we could be here a long time. Even if the airport reopens, with more points here, we may be forced into quarantine anywhere we’ll go in the future unless we wait it out long enough.
In a shady area, we encountered these tiny mushrooms growing on the rocks.

No one knows for sure what the future holds and if we’ll be able to continue traveling for some time to come. Our hope and plan will continue to focus on leaving India at some point soon, whether it be in a month or four months. 

In the interim, we have no option but to patiently wait it out while doing everything we can to stay engaged, educated, and informed about what transpires throughout the world, not only inside our tiny world.

With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom, a soccer ball’s size. All of us on tour was in awe of this exquisite flower.

One thing we know for sure, our lives and yours, will never be the same as it was before the virus hit. Not a single country has avoided the virus entirely, although a few have had under 10 cases. But, at this point, their peak may be on the horizon. Only time will tell.

For us, staying busy while cooped up in a hotel room has been vital to maintaining a good state of mind and good health. We don’t overeat. We don’t drink alcohol (only because it’s not available!). We keep moving. We watch funny YouTube videos, including our own.
Jackfruit is known for its health benefits.  See this link for nutritional details. This photo was posted at this link on April 13, 2015.

We’ve developed a routine we find comforting. When we may become hungry in the afternoon, we drink the instant coffee in the room, no more than two cups each (mine is decaf), as somewhat of a ritual. 

We go to breakfast each day whenever we feel like it, sometimes as early as 8:00 am and others as late as 10:00 am. Each evening at 7:00 pm sharp, we head to the dining room for dinner. We’re often the only guests since most eat lunch and don’t have dinner until as late as 10:00 pm.

The Noni Fruit, known as one of the world’s most nutrient-rich fruits.  See here for details.

But, one of the most fun and enjoyable times of the day is after dinner when we get comfy on the bed with six fluffy pillows, and we set up my laptop on a tray to stream two episodes of our favorite shows. 

Usually, the two shows end by 10:15 pm, after which we play with our phones and then drift off to sleep. Most days, my Fitbit displays that I’ve slept seven to eight hours, which is better sleep than I’ve had in years, if ever. Tom sleeps less than I do, but on occasion will nap for 20 minutes during the day.
An Anthurium, gone wild.

This type of routine has brought us a sense of comfort and security as day after day, we awaken and repeat it. As of tomorrow, we’ll have been in this hotel room for three weeks. It feels like more. 

We’ll get through it. We’ll all get through it if we stay safe… If we social distance… If we avoid going out… If we wash our hands… If we wear face masks… If we take care of ourselves and our loved ones… If… If… If…

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

Four baby warthogs were taking a rest together. For more photos, please click here.

Closer to home than we think…A personal story…Five years ago, a little shop in Kauia, Hawaii…

We could watch and hear the church bells when we lived in Boveglio, Italy, in the summer of 2013. This particular video is viral on our YouTube page. Click here for the post on which we included this video.

As I wrote today’s post, starting with the headline, I smiled. “A personal story?” All of our stories are personal in one way or another. Today is no exception.

At times, people ask, “How do you feel comfortable revealing so much of your personal life online?”

My answer is always the same, “One of the reasons people all over the world read our posts is due to this very fact. If this were just a travel blog with photos of tourist locations, hotels, and restaurant reviews, we wouldn’t have kept the interest of readers for so many years.”

It’s the raw reality of our daily lives that inspires us to keep writing each day, that so quickly comes from the heart, enabling my fingers to fly across the keyboard with barely a moment of concentration or forethought. “Writer’s block” doesn’t dwell herein.

This is the only health food store, Healthy Hut, within a half-hour drive of our holiday home in Kauai, Hawaii. The inventory is ripe with fresh, locally grown organic produce, grass-fed meats, free-range chickens and eggs and food and health supplies one would find in a much larger location in a big city. Pricey? Yep! For the full story from five years ago today, please click here.

Yes, many of our prior posts suggested where to go and what to see in various parts of the world. We love sharing those tidbits of information with associated photos and links.

But, now, in isolation, without being “out there” sightseeing, shopping, socializing and feeling a “part of the world,” an entirely tunnel-vision-type approach has overcome me. It’s all about us and what we’re thinking, feeling and experiencing while locked down in a hotel room in Mumbai, India for an indefinite period.
Certainly, most of our readers can relate to our isolation when you, too, are literally trapped in your homes, facing the complexity of myriad problems, which include emotional, physical and financial concerns.
I was surprised to find many of the products I needed to make my recently posted recipe for Low Carb High Fat Protein Bars, my new favorite recipe. Click this link if you missed the recipe.

In many ways, it’s easier for us. Sure, I’d like to be able to cook a meal, have a glass of wine, do laundry and stay busy around the house. But, we have little responsibility other than staying active, eating two meals a day, and paying for our hotel and dinners (breakfast is included). 

Financially, this lockdown doesn’t impact us one way or another. We’d be paying rent for a holiday home, groceries, supplies and the occasional dinner out. Our hotel bill here is no more than we’d have paid for a holiday home and the dinners, not much more than we’d have paid for groceries and dining out.

But, for those of you out of work as you continue to incur household and living expenses, this dreadful time can only be worrisome and frightening, along with fears about the virus impacting your family and friends. Our hearts go out to all of you.

Of course, we worry about our family and friends, but based on frequent communication it seems everyone is hunkered down to the best of their ability, wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing their hands.

Although our situation is not dire at this point, we aren’t exempt from worry and concern. My dear sister Susan, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada who’s been bedridden for many years with various severe medical conditions, took an awful fall a few days ago, one of many she’s experienced over the years.

Seeing pumpkins and squash reminds us of crisp, cool fall in Minnesota as I stood admiring this at a comfortable 82 degrees.

She is now a coronavirus-free hospital after hany tests that determined she has been suffering numerous small strokes, causing her to fall over the years, often incurring brain bleeds and injuries. In addition, she has COPD, congestive heart failure, and severe chronic pain syndrome. (Bad genes in my family).

For the past nine months, she has been living in a lovely assisted living facility in Las Vegas, which, to date, hasn’t had any cases of COVID-19. I spent many delightful afternoons with her when we stayed in Nevada in November 2019. 

I baked a few of her favorite desserts (from our childhood) at son Richard’s house in Henderson and brought them to her when I visited each day. We laughed and told stories while cherishing every moment together. On December 9th, when we left Nevada it was hard to say goodbye, not sure we’d ever be together again.

Based on US Medicare requirements when a patient/senior is hospitalized and still a bit unstable, they require the patient to go to the rehabilitation center before they can return to their former living arrangements.

With all the news of COVID-19 impacting rehab and nursing facilities, my dear sister is terrified of being forced to go to one of these facilities before she can return to her assisted living facility where she’s been content and comfortable.

The shelves were packed with beauty products, snacks, and treat, none of which we purchase.

My sister Julie, my niece Kely, Susan’s adult daughter, both of whom live in California, and I, have been on the phone trying to attend to her care the best way we can. No visitors are allowed in the hospital to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. She was injured during the fall and is in considerable pain along with the chronic discomfort of her other medical conditions. This is heartbreaking.

We are trying to avoid her going to the rehab facility, which emotionally would be devastating for her. Although we are grateful she doesn’t have the virus, ishe wouldn’t survive f she did become infected  

Many of you are experiencing similar situations throughout the world with family members alone in the hospital without the possibility of visitors and other medical conditions that require care and treatment during this difficult time.

These are challenging times for all of us in our own ways. We pray for toursafety and well-being fnd all of our loved ones wherever they may be. May this devastation soon end.

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

This morning, this Hornbill stood on the top of the door to let Tom know it was time to eat. Tom came running outdoors to comply with his fervent request. For more photos, please click here.

Go figure…I did today’s post and it disappeared…Here we go again…Lockdown continues…

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks ago, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Now, it’s starting to look appetizing to both of us.

As each day passes, we become more and more hopeful that this stunning hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott (see photos) close to the Mumbai Airport, will remain open for the long haul.


Of course, under these difficult circumstances, there is no guaranty. The decision to close will be up to their upper management based on continuing loss of revenue with so few guests on the premises.

This building was shown in a scene from the movie, Life of Pi, filmed in Chennai, India.

As an international conglomerate of hotels, we’re thinking Marriott just may stay open since they are more well-capitalized than the small local hotels where we stayed over the past few weeks. Our fingers are crossed.


And, regardless of how difficult it becomes with limited services offered due to tightening their budget and government Covid-19 restrictions, we’re determined to stay here regardless of the circumstances, as long as we have air-con and WiFi.

The two statues of a revered couple who were highly instrumental in doing good works for the Indian people.

The biggest challenge we’re experiencing as guests is the lack of food inventory which continues to dwindle rapidly when suppliers simply aren’t delivering food to hotels right now. That may change down the road, but for now, the dining options are restricted.


Each night at dinner they hand us a newly printed menu with the number of options shrinking exponentially. Soon, there will be little either of us can or will eat.


In that case, we may just resort to eating one big meal a day, preferably having breakfast-type meals midday to hopefully hold us through the evening. For the sake of maintaining my health and keeping Tom’s sanity, this may end up being our best option.

This woman, on the side of the road, was shaking seeds out of a basket to be used in making vegetable oil.

Last night Tom was able to order a chicken and penne dish made with a white sauce. I ordered a paneer dish (which is a soft cheese, cut into cubes and referred to as “cottage cheese” in India, but doesn’t resemble cottage cheese as we know it, at all) mixed into a spicy starch-free tomato sauce. 


Since the bowl of sauce and paneer was small, I also ordered roasted chicken and received two tiny pieces of pale-looking unseasoned chicken. It wasn’t that appetizing. I have no doubt, this restaurant is wonderful under usual circumstances.


But, we are in difficult times and they are doing the very best they can with the products they have on hand to cook for these 20 rooms of guests. We have no doubt the options will continue to decline over the next many days. Somehow, we’ll manage. If we have to we both can eat eggs, lots of eggs to carry us through.

Tom’s meal from a few weeks ago, also looks appetizing.

We’re grateful we are safe and in air-conditioned comfort with a strong Wi-Fi signal. During the day we can each stream our favorite shows/podcasts without any issues which manage to help us get through the long day.

 
In the evenings, after dinner, we stream a favorite TV series until it’s time to go to sleep. Much to our surprise, both of us are sleeping well, as much as eight hours a night, odd for each of us. Maybe it’s nature’s way of helping us to tune out of this peculiar situation for a while. My nights are filled with wild dreams and convoluted stories.
 
As of today, since we received the cruise cancellation notice from Viking Cruise Lines, we’ve been self-isolating for two full weeks. The only times we’ve been out have been when going to at an ATM, traveling to various hotels, to the airport to fly from Madurai to Mumbai and again to the airport and back last Friday when we were turned away for our flight. 
An artfully designed temple built over 1000 years ago in Chennai.

In each instance, we wore face masks and sanitized/washed our hands obsessively. As each day passes, we continue to hope we haven’t been infected with both of us feeling well and energized. I continue to walk the hallways, never encountering any other guests, although all of us are situated on the fourth floor.


The pool, the bar, the health club, and another restaurant continue to stay closed, due to governmental order. We look forward to the day when all of this can change and all of us can continue on with our lives. When will that day come? No one knows. Except, logic dictates, that total lockdown is the answer.


Stay safe.

_______________________________________

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

This is my boy, Little. How does a person fall in love with a pig? For more photos, please click here.

Last post with Varanasi photos…Visit to a textile company…King of Brocade Weaving Centre…

                           Exquisite handmade silk brocade made on-site at Tiwari International.

 
We are experiencing awful Wi-Fi issues at the Ramada Hotel in Khajuraho, India. The town is considerably smaller than many we’ve visited over the past three weeks and without a doubt, this is the worse signal we’ve experienced.
The quality of the work is evident in every piece.

For the past several hours, I have been trying, off and on, to complete and upload today’s post about a fantastic silk-weaving facility we visited on our last day in Varanasi.

Neatly arranged shelves with countless fabrics in varying designs and colors.

From time to time, over the past seven-plus years we’ve been traveling, we’ve had an opportunity to describe and subsequently promote a small business we encounter along the way. 

Whether it is a barbershop, gift shop, street vendor, or luxury shop as we describe today, we’ve always enjoyed sharing details with our many worldwide readers.

Shelves are lined with stunning fabrics suitable for the wardrobe for Indian women and men, tourists, and many household goods such as draperies, furniture, bedspreads, pillows, etc.

Should any of you decide to visit Varanasi in the future, the stunning shop is worth a visit. I drooled over the gorgeous Pashmina shawls and scarves and only wished I’d had room in my luggage for one or two.

The staff was busy working with customers.

Unfortunately, after recently paying the airlines for overweight baggage, there was no way I could purchase even the lightest item and have it make sense. Plus, I cannot wear scarves often when I attempt to keep my clothing accessories to a minimum.

But, as we travel throughout India, we find most women, Indians, and tourists wearing scarves and shawls. Once women arrive in India from other countries, they immediately adopt the scarf concept to blend in with the population.

The shop also offered a wide array of ready-made clothing, including scarves and Pashmina shawls.

On the Maharajas Express, we all received no less than eight scarves as gifts at various stations as welcome gifts. I will have no choice but to give them away along the way. No doubt they contributed to my bag being overweight when some of them were pretty heavy.

But, few travelers have the same issue of “traveling light,” and many tourists come to India for shopping which is exceptionally exciting in this land of diversity and color.

The owner escorted us to the fabricating area, where a diligent weaver was hard at work.

Tiwari International appears to be a family-owned business. With the shop so busy when we arrived, we had little time to speak to the owner/manager Keshav Tiwari who was extremely kind and welcoming, even knowing we were “lookers,” not “shoppers.”

He was excited to share that actress Goldie Hawn had recently visited the shop, as he pointed to the framed photo on the wall as shown here in our photo. They were so proud to have a celebrity visit but equally enthused to welcome us.

This photo of actress Goldie Hawn hung on the wall in the shop. The staff was proud she’d come to visit and purchase several products.

We told Keshav about our visit to India and our site and promised him a story with today’s photos as a thank you for showing us around. He couldn’t have been more pleased, as were we.

The quality of their products is breathtaking, and we reveled in every category of cloth he showed us. Of course, we were in awe of the artistry he showed us by one of his workers, diligently at work on a loom. 

The finest of detail went into this lovely brocade, almost completed.

When he explained how time-consuming and deliberate the work is, we were all the more in awe of his massive inventory. Prices are reasonable, and support staff is available to assist in selections.

From their website, the following:


“Banarasi Brocades, as the world knows it, is called by the name kinkab in Varanasi. A high-quality weaving is done using gold and silver threads. Silk Threads are also used as well. The most common motifs include scroll patterns and butidars designs. The other designs are Jewelry designs, birds, animals, flowers, creepers, paisley motifs. Hindu religious and Mughal motifs also influenced brocade designs. When a Gold embellishment is done on a silver background, it is called Ganga-Jamuna in the local language.
This elderly weaver spent long days working at these looms.

The designs are first drawn on paper. The person who draws the layout is called Naqshbandi. The main weaver is assisted by a helper. This design is then woven on a small wooden frame to form a grid of warp and weft. 

The process is slow and painstaking, requiring intense concentration and expertise.

The requisite number of warp threads and the extra weft threads are woven on the loom. The famous tissue sari of Varanasi is unbelievably delicate, combining the use of gold and silver metallic threads.”

It was fascinating to observe the complicated and time-consuming process.
Finally, attention from Keshav was required, and we bid him thanks and good day with a typical Indian hands-together-bow, and we were on our way back out into the crazy traffic of Varanasi.
We had an opportunity to handle this finest of silk made by worms and of great value.

It was delightful, as always, to see how local products are made, adding even more substance and interest to sightseeing outings.

That’s it for today. Now, the challenge of uploading this post. Tomorrow, we’re embarking on an exciting road trip which begins at 8:30 am, taking us to one of our most sought-after adventures in India…eight days of safari in two distinct national parks where we’ll live in camps. Yeah!

Artistic design, coupled with great skill, produces such fine works as this.

Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes. Your kindness means the world to me!

Final expenses for 82 days in the USA!…We’re off for India today!…

At lunch, that day, two years ago, one of the chefs on our Antarctica cruise, on Ponant Le’Boreal, was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Last night, we played our final round of buck euchre with Gene and Eugene. As always, it was pretty enjoyable. Tom and I speculated over how fun it would be to find players in our future travels.

However, that’s highly unlikely. That particular card game is popular in the Midwest and is seldom played in other parts of the world. When we return to the US in about two years, we’ll play cards again with his family.

Tom’s sisters and brothers-in-law only spend their winters in Apache Junction, Arizona, and Minnesota’s balance of the year. Most likely, next time we visit Minnesota, it won’t be during the cold winter months, and we’ll see his family and our kids and grandchildren in Minnesota, once again.

This morning, as I sit here preparing today’s post, I’m feeling at ease. Most of our packing is complete, and all I have left to do is restock my 28-day pill case and empty the food in the refrigerator. 

We’re bringing all the remaining non-perishables and perishables over to the sisters to see if they can use anything. If not, their friend Margie (another Margie) will bring everything to the local Food Shelf where she volunteers. 

We’ve weighed all of our bags except for the supplies bag, which is always questionable in meeting the weight restrictions, in this case, 50 pounds (23 kg) per bag.

Assuming we won’t have easy access to a pharmacy for toiletries, I’ve had to pack enough to last for three months; two months in India and 29-days on the following cruise from Mumbai to London. Once we arrive in the UK, and then Europe, we’ll easily find the products we use.

Last night’s six hours of sleep was filled with crazy dreams and frequent periods of wakefulness. Tom experienced the same. But this morning, upon awakening, I felt fine and ready to tackle the remaining tasks for the day.

Our new friend, Jodi, kindly volunteered to take us to the airport. This is so appreciated, especially since we must leave during rush hour at 5:30 pm. With the traffic, we should arrive by 6:15 pm with our first flight departing at 8:40 PM.

We’ll fly all night for 10 hours, and as mentioned, we’ll spend 8 of the daytime hours at busy Heathrow Airport. We’ll attempt to find a place to plug in our equipment and busy ourselves online.

Here are our combined final expenses for our 82 days in the USA, beginning on November 8, 2019 and ending today:

Final Expenses USA  US Dollar 
Vacation Home  AZ   $ 3,626.00
Gifts & Misc.   $    325.00
Airfare    $    872.00
Rental Car  $    996.78
Groceries  $ 4,100.32
Dining Out   $ 2,082.00
Supplies & Pharmacy   $ 1,674.05
Total Cost (82 days)   $13,675.83
Average Daily Cost (82 days)   $    166.78

We did not include the cost of new digital equipment and clothing, but we did have the cost of supplies we purchased for the next three months.

Also, we paid no rent while staying with friends Karen and Rich for three weeks in Minnesota, nor did we pay rent during the 11 nights we spent with son Richard in Nevada. Of course, we hosted several dinners out in sincere thanks for their hospitality.

Here in Arizona, we paid the rent as mentioned above from 12/09/2019 to 1/31/2020. The property manager gave us a discount to compensate for our early departure, today on January 29th.

Most likely, we’ll upload a post tomorrow during our 8-hour layover, providing we have access to wifi and a place to plug in our equipment. If not, sit tight. As soon as we get settled in the hotel in a few days, we’ll prepare a new post.

Thanks for all the warm wishes from many of our loyal readers/friends. We so appreciate your kindness and words of encouragement.

We’ll be back at you soon! Take care and be well!

Photos from one year ago today, January 29, 2019:

We could only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating. For more photos, please click here.

Will today be a good day for sightseeing?…The consumption of animal products…

The first animal we encountered in the paddock was pigs. As our readers know, I love pigs.  However, as cute as they are, they can’t match the appeal of a handsome warthog.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About St. Teath, Cornwall*:

From this site: “The village has an interesting history. St Tetha, (from whom this village acquired its name) came over from Wales, with her sisters, to this area of Cornwall to bring Christianity to those living here. Since then, the village has seen much change with the rise and fall of both mining and the railway. There is plenty of evidence of both around the area.  The oldest part of the village surrounds the village square – the focal point of the annual summer carnival, Remembrance day, Christmas lights, and New Year Celebrations.”

So far this morning, the sun is shining, but we’re noticing dark clouds rolling in. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll be on the road to go sightseeing in a few hours. Taking photos on rainy days has become a source of frustration for me, and I am determined to avoid adding rainy day photos to our inventory.  
We were especially enthused to see the pygmy goats. Unfortunately, the grass was too mushy and wet for us to get closer for better photos.
Yesterday, as I’d promised myself, I finished our 2018 tax prep and forwarded the documents and worksheet to our accountant in Nevada. It was a tedious task, but somehow I managed to get through it when I already had a considerable amount of the information in place, ready to enter the form. What a sense of relief that was!
Adorable pygmy goat “baaaahing” at us as we admired him.
Now we wait to hear from the accountant with questions. We’ll probably chat with him in the next week and wrap this up, putting it behind us. We have until October 15th to file the return electronically, which he’ll handle for us.
 
A few mornings ago, after a rainy night, we decided to explore the various paddocks to see the farm animals. It was lightly misting and still quite cloudy, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. 
Beyond this bush are two wind turbines which are prevalent in England.
After a lengthy walk in thick grass, we had to wash our shoes, leaving them outdoors to dry when the sun finally peeked out. The shoes I wear most days when we’re going out are water shoes.  

With only five pairs of shoes, I can’t risk ruining a pair in rainy weather making water shoes perfect for our travels. They are ideal on rainy days and yet, are outrageously comfortable.  Tom’s tennis shoes were also a mess, but he waited until the grass dried and then brushed off the grass using a dustpan brush.  

The countryside beyond the farm is comparable to a patchwork quilt with varying shapes and colors.
As we walked through the paddocks, we realized we’d have to ask the owners, Lorraine or Graham, to escort us so we could take better photos on the next sunny day. Undoubtedly, over the next ten days, it will be bright once or twice.
Geese and ducks co-habitat peacefully in a paddock.
We love African animals, but we are also drawn to barnyard animals who have a unique charm of their own. Sadly, some of the animals we saw here will eventually be slaughtered. I doubt the goats or the ducks and geese, kept for their eggs, will be subject to that dreadful fate.

Yesterday, I wrote about how we eat meat, chicken, and pork, yet we have angst about slaughtering animals. Isn’t that hypocritical? I suppose some would say it is. But, the reality remains…we have emotions about this topic.
More beautiful scenery as seen from the farm.
Unfortunately, I can’t be a vegetarian/vegan based on my strict diet, nor would Tom, who doesn’t eat vegetables or fruit. The way I justify this in my mind, which I must do to make peace with it, is the concept that God, a higher power or whatever your beliefs, created an environment with a “pecking order.”  
Every morning and also during the day, we hear the roosters crowing.  It reminds us of living in Kauai, where there are thousands of feral chickens.
As a result, readily available protein sources (necessary for life itself) are provided to each creature on the planet, including humans. Living in Africa for two years during the past seven years placed us in a position to accept the hard facts about the animal hunt and subsequent consumption of the captured food source.

No, I won’t get further into a philosophical view of whether or not to consume animal products. We each have our reasons, rationalizations, and dietary needs.
The last time we had access to a clothes dryer was in Costa Rica over two years ago.  What a treat!  Our clothes were washed and dried in a mere two hours, compared to a day or two of hanging them in humid weather.
Now, as I wrap this up, we’re watching the weather to see if today will be a good day for a road trip.  

Have an excellent day filled with beautiful surprises!
Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2018:
Check out those long eyelashes. For more photos, please click here.

No worse for the wear…Amsterdam keeps giving and giving…Boarding the cruise today…

Me in front of soldier statues. It was a very windy day! ” Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square in central Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was cast in one piece, and it is Amsterdam’s oldest surviving statue in a public space.”

With many photos from Amsterdam yet to be posted, we may save them to share at a future time, perhaps on the cruise on a sea day. Today, we board the ship.  

Tom, arm-in-arm with the statues.

Checkout time is noon at the Eden Hotel (charming, canal view) when we’ll arrange a taxi to take us to the passenger cruise terminal, a short distance from here. We’ll be ready to go.

Diplomatic building with many flags.

Now, at 10:30 am, Tom is streaming a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game with one quarter remaining. Since we never unpacked, only opening the bags to get clean clothes and toiletries, it will take 10 minutes to close the bags and be on our way.

There are 1000 bridges over the canals in Amsterdam.

Last night we had a great meal at Rain Americana Grill, walking distance from the hotel, adding to our daily distance up to 3.5 km, 2.2 miles. It was a lot of walking for me. But I’m thrilled I was able to do it, however difficult it may have been, and suffer no ill effects today.

Many of the vast estate homes have been converted to offices, apartments, and condos.

Tom needed some American food, so we selected this spot. He had a burger and chips while I had a gluten-free, starch-free burrito that was delicious with lettuce leaves as wraps. I have been craving Mexican food for some time. What a treat!

Menu of marijuana and other such products are available for sale to any adults who desire to partake. We happened to walk down an alley to run into people smoking pot outside at the cafe. From this site: “Cannabis has been available for recreational use in coffee shops since 1976. Cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local “coffeeshops” and possession of up to 5 grams for personal use is decriminalized. However, the police may still confiscate it, which often happens in car checks near the border.[citation needed] Other types of sales and transportation are not permitted, although the general approach toward cannabis was lenient even before official decriminalization.”

This morning we decided to wait until we board the ship to eat since they have such great options in our fare. Until I meet with the maitre’d to review my printed food list, we’ll wing it in the buffet. There will be plenty of salad bar items that will work for me.  

The small park where this statue of Rembrandt is located is a popular gathering place.

During the day, I’ll drop off the food list and make a particular order for tonight’s dinner until they coordinate my restrictions with the chef. Most likely, it will be grilled salmon, veggies, and Caesar salad (minus the croutons) on this first night. Fine with me.

Today’s photos continue from yesterday’s sightseeing along and in the canals of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, as the boat moved along, I couldn’t recall the names of the structures in many of the photos.  

The Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant is located on one of the canals.

Also, I try to “live in the moment” and pay attention to the scenery before me rather than worry about identifying the buildings the next day when I prepare a post.  

And live in the moment we did. The unique scenery continually enthralled us. Everywhere one turns, there’s something magical to behold. We both agreed we’d like to return to the Netherlands at some point and see more of this unusual country with design elements unique to the country.  

There are approximately 2500 houseboats with permits to dock on the canals.  Utilities are made available for those houseboats. Illegal boats can’t access city services.

We’d yet to see tulips (wrong time of year), windmills (not in the city), and stores selling wooden shoes, all very touristy but fun to see. Yes, sometimes we behave just like tourists delighting in the all too familiar tourist traps and sightseeing expectations.

Various types of mallards paddle in the many canals.

So, off we go, folks. Our next post will be from the ship on a sea day. We’ll share all the photos and excitement we’ll experience along the way.

Have a lovely day filled with wonder.

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2018:

What a lovely scene on the Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

The simple life…Ireland elicits a slower pace…

This morning’s catch when John stopped by with fresh-caught Atlantic salmon, a container of crabmeat, and another container of prawns. The cost for the above was Euro 25, US $27.85. There’s enough salmon for three meals and a fourth meal with the crab and prawns on a lettuce salad. The average cost per serving is Euro 6.26, US $6.97. We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.60. We owed him from last week’s fish. I asked if he could bring salmon each week. Tom doesn’t care for fish, so I’ll happily enjoy every morsel.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Northern Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is an
independent nation.”

Living in Ireland is very different from anywhere we’ve lived after over 6½ years of world travel. The environment, the people, the chosen pace of peace, calm and good humor is present in every situation we encounter.

Today’s mist and clouds over the sea.

This is appealing. Thank goodness we have this website requiring new photos daily and a goal to research Tom’s ancestry. Otherwise, we’d be so content. We’d hardly go out other than to shop and dine out on occasion.

We’re far from many restaurants, but we’ll go out to dinner more often now that I’m beginning to feel better. Since our arrival on May 12th, we’ve only dined out once.

A gate to a private drive or boat launch.

We’ve so enjoyed the wide array of fantastic food products from the SuperValu supermarket in Clifden that cooking has become such a treat. We can now find ingredients we like to use that we never could find in the Spar Market in Komatipoort.

Now that I can cook again, we’re making a few more interesting dishes I didn’t burden Tom with when cooking all the meals by himself. That’s not to say he’s not helping.  

Many homes in the countryside have a similar look and are very old.

He’s right beside me in the kitchen doing all the “heavy lifting,” including washing dishes, hauling food and pots back and forth to the laundry room where the second refrigerator and another bigger sink are located.

This morning feels like a typical Irish day. Ann, the lovely house cleaner, arrived at 9:30 am informing me that she’d lit a candle at her church for my continuing recovery. How sweet is that?

Fishing boat in the bay.

Moments later, Eileen, the house owner who lives in the house next door, also stopped by. They both possess a wealth of fascinating information about Connemara and Ireland in general. We love their accents, warmth, easy smiles, and enthusiasm.

We’d planned to head out today, but it’s raining, not uncommon for Ireland. Also, Eileen called the fish guy, John, to determine if he was coming by today. He stopped by before noon. Note the above photo and caption for further explanation.

We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.59, from last week when he’d insisted we took some fish when the package had yet to arrive containing our new debit cards, leaving us with no cash (euros in Ireland).

A boat at the organic salmon station.

After the ATM cards had arrived, we immediately drove to Clifden to an ATM to get enough cash to last for quite a while. Weekly, we pay Ann Euro 60, US $66.82 for three hours of housecleaning, the highest we’ve ever paid. That’s not to say she isn’t worth it. She does a meticulous job.  

We’ve been spoiled. Housekeeping wasn’t included in the rent as it was in South Africa, where we had two cleaners, Zef and Vusi, each day of the week. But, knowing we have a cleaner only once a week, we’re diligent about keeping the house tidy and organized between Ann’s visits.

No, we don’t have a social life here yet and may not be able to make lifelong friends here as we did in Marloth Park, many of whom we are staying in touch, particularly Kathy and Don, Linda, and Ken (we spoke on the phone yesterday) and Louise and Danie.

Now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’re planning on getting out more. In the interim, this simple life is suiting us just fine.

Happy day!

                            Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2018:

This was our first sighting of a good-sized herd of cape buffalo we spotted from Marloth Park yesterday on the banks of the Crocodile River. There were from 24 to 30 in the herd. For more photos, please click here.