Why did we decide to include home-free retirees world travel tips?

The Golden Temple Amritsar, India
The Golden Temple Amritsar, India, is seen through a decorative archway on the religious grounds of the historic Sikh location. Please click here to see more photos from Amritsar.

Note: This post is the second of the 2000 word posts required for SEO. Some of the verbiages may sound repetitive. We’ll be back to our usual post tomorrow. Only three more of these to go. Thanks for your patience. Feel free to read.

As Tom’s retirement was fast approaching and we’d made the outrageous decision to travel full-time, we searched online for travel tips that possibly could point us in the right direction, especially those applying to retirees. When many young people travel the world, even with children, they often stay in hostels, camp, rent or buy campers or caravans, and live very different lifestyles than we were seeking.

At that time in 2012, considerably fewer retirees had “given it all up” to do what we’d chosen to do, travel the world for years to come with minimal possessions with us, no storage facility anywhere in our home state or country, and find a way to make it work being home-free. We considered no condo, apartment, or studio-type living quarters as a base to return to should we so desire. We chose to make the “BIG commitment,” and for us, that only came when we sold everything we owned, leaving us little opportunity to change our minds if something went wrong, especially in the early days. Always a part of our mission was to include home-free retirees’ world travel tips.

Our friends and relatives bombarded us with suggestions and travel tips amid a plethora of travel warnings on all the potentially horrible situations we could encounter along the way, some even life-threatening. We chose not to take heed of their warnings when instead, we chose to research on our own.

Searching online was little help. We found countless travel tips from travelers who’d been “out there” on their own, as a couple of a family of three or more. But, few were retirees, and most had a place to call home to return to for a break or respite. Of course, today, eight years later, we’ve encountered other retirees, home-free and traveling the world. But after a fashion, most acquiesced and returned to their home country, recovered their belongings from storage, and began again. Not us. As retirees, we wanted to do it differently to truly experience the challenges and benefits of living life on the move, with no safety net.

What are the potential challenges facing home-free retirees’ world travel tips?…

The most frequent travel tip/question most travelers tossed our way revolved around these two topics:

1. What will you do if one of you becomes very ill when retirees are more likely to encounter health problems due to an advanced age?
2. What will you do if something goes wrong or you tire of traveling?

In the first over six years of our home-free world travel lifestyle, neither of these potential issues had any impact on our lives. As retirees, we were healthy, fit, and relatively active. We’d had extensive medical tests before we embarked on our journey, all required dental work completed. As we traveled the world, we each had basic health checks, blood tests, and dental appointments every few years. All was well until…

The “worse case” scenarios transpired…

While living in a holiday home in the bush in South Africa, in February 2019, I had to have emergency triple cardiac bypass surgery, which resulted in four total surgeries (due to complications) and over the US $150,000 in medical expenses, which our then international health insurance company refused to pay, claiming I had a preexisting condition (I had no idea).

The question many other retirees had asked, “Should such an event occur, what would you possibly do?” Would being home-free prevent us from quality medical care and a place to recover after such a frightening event? It did not. We extended our rental period for the holiday home or would have moved to another while I recovered.

At the time, many home-free retirees’ world travel tips came our way with suggestions for us to return to the US, but that tip was preposterous. I couldn’t travel on an airplane for at least three months. We stayed in the wonderful bush house while I recovered sufficiently to again begin our world travel journey. Nothing was holding us back. We continued for three months in an oceanfront house in Connemara, Ireland, as my recovery continued.

The second question above asks, “What will we do if something goes wrong or you tire of traveling?

Tom and I made a pact when we began traveling the world as home-free retirees. If either of us ever became tired or bored with traveling the world, we would stop. Even amid the challenges facing us these past few years, neither has suggested ending our journey to the other.

Another huge challenge that tested our durability and commitment as home-free retirees was the pandemic that hit the world in January and February 2020. At the time, we’d just completed a weeklong tour on the renowned Maharajas Express Train from Mumbai to Delhi. After the train, we embarked on a 55-night tour of India, which we had to cut short when COVID-19 presented us with a considerable risk of continuing. Most temples and tourist sites were packed with people, often crowding in small spaces. More, we considered home-free retirees’ world travel tips from other readers with similar experiences.

We decided the risk of being at crowded venues was too high and started self-isolation on or about March 12, 2020, when we were notified that our upcoming cruise on April 3, 2020, had been canceled due to the COVID-19. As of this writing, we have officially been in India’s government-mandated lockdown, which began on March 24, 2020, for a full six months. More and more of our readers write to us each day with tips and suggestions as to what we should do at this point. But, our particular circumstances and home-free lifestyle have guided us as to what works well for us.

Considering home-free retirees’ world travel tips weren’t a factor in preventing us from heading back to the US to hunker down in lockdown. Where would we stay? Ultimately, we decided to stay put in a lovely Marriott hotel until we could continue our travels. At this point, the pandemic has reached such proportions in the US, we have no desire or plan to return. Also, it would not be easy to decide where to stay without a home while we waited it out. We’ve been safe in this hotel, although India has been a hard hit as well. Only time will tell when we can continue.

We’ve received hundreds of tips geared toward our home-free status as to what we should do during this period. We’ve appreciated all the tips, suggestions, and updates sent by readers, family, and friends. Most of the retiree’s circumstances are very different from ours, and what they would choose to do in these circumstances may differ from our choices.

What do we do as home-free retirees if the lockdown/pandemic continues for more months to come?…

We are safe. This hotel has exercised diligent efforts to avoid a single case of COVID-19 since we arrived. All staff is required to wear face masks and gloves. All staff members live within the walls of the hotel. No one is allowed to clean our room or serve our meals via room service unless they’ve been living here for a minimum of three weeks. We are confined to the fourth floor except for those few times we’ll head downstairs to the reception desk to pay our bill. We haven’t been outdoors in six months.

But, when we think of retirees living in a retirement community, they most likely haven’t been outdoors much either. Perhaps, our situation isn’t so unique after all. We’re safe. We have everything we need. We’re relatively comfortable. We miss socializing and often think of how enjoyable it would be to get together with other retirees and commiserate over this challenging situation.

At most, the staff and any other guests appear to be mostly in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. But, it seems, as retirees, we’re the oldest people in the entire hotel. Every few days, we receive tips in our email with movies and TV series, we should binge-watch, and games we should play to alleviate the boredom we’re experiencing now. We take many of these tips to heart and find ourselves streaming many fun new series suggested by our readers. This means a lot to us.

How are we emotionally impacted by home-free living?…

Often, we’re asked, don’t you feel lost without “roots?” Our answer is simple from an adage, “Home is where the heart is.” And, although our hearts are filled with love for family and friends back in the US, as a couple, we have made anywhere we may be living, at any given time, our “home.” That premise prevents us from ever feeling lost and lonely in a home-free lifestyle.

Most home-free retirees’ world travel tips include comments from those who spent their lives and careers in Minnesota, often leaving to spend their retirement in warmer climates. In most cases, they’ll purchase or rent a condo, house, or apartment in such states as Arizona, Florida, Texas, or Hawaii. Often, they’ll keep their original home and deal with the maintenance of having two homes. This didn’t appeal to us at all.

Instead, as retirees, we chose to be home-free; no apartment somewhere; no bedroom in one of our adult kids’ homes with a closet full of clothes; no lease on a storage facility as a safety net to enable us to “set up housekeeping” once again. This was it, just the two of us and our luggage, the size of which has significantly diminished over the years.

In the beginning, Christmas was a time we had to make adjustments. We’d no longer have a Christmas tree, nor did we have decorations or a need to bake endless cookies and baked goods. We no longer sent Christmas cards and gifts instead of mailing gift cards to our grandchildren. This commitment required a lot of emotional changes experienced by many retirees who become ex-pats and world travelers.

The most challenging time we’ve experienced has been during my recovery from open-heart surgery and now, six months in lockdown in a single hotel room. But, somehow, these two home-free retirees have managed to maintain emotional strength and resilience in the knowledge that in time, we’ll be on the move again.

Will we ever settle down?…

This question has been asked of us over and over again. And, the reality is, we’ll have to at some point. With advancing age and potential health conditions, we may need to return to the US and find a place to live. Does this worry us? Not at this point. We’ve survived so much, we both feel confident that when the time comes, as has been the case in every other situation, we’ll figure it out.

Home-free retirees’ world travel tips often include ways to figure out significant life changes at some point or another. We are no exception. The fact we’ll have lived a home-free existence for so many years makes those decisions only a little more complicated, mainly revolving around: Where will we choose to live?

We’ve considered the possibility of staying in holiday homes in several parts of the US for three to six months, giving us a further opportunity to see more of our own country in our waning years. There’s also the possibility that we may find a country besides the USA where we’d like to live as retirees in the next few years, again with the principle of renting various, fully-equipped holiday/vacation homes.

In conclusion…

A home-free lifestyle is not for everyone, whether a young person was starting their lives, a young family, couple, or retiree. We each have our unique desires and emotional needs when it comes to our chosen lifestyle. If and when we have a need and a desire to be “rooted” to one location, we’ll do so.

World travel is not on everyone’s radar or in their dreams of what will ultimately be fulfilled and purpose-driven. We never knew we had a plan to travel the world as retirees, living a home-free lifestyle. It came upon us in a happenstance manner described in our first few posts and many more to go over the years.

As we’re fast approaching our eighth anniversary since we became home-free on October 31, 2012, we have no regrets from the most exciting adventures to this most recent mundane period, spending over six months in lockdown in Mumbai, India.

We’re hopeful for the future that we’ll be able to continue on our home-free journey to see the world in time. In the interim, we’ll continue to offer home-free retirees world travel tips as well as hearing from other world travelers. The world is a prominent place. We all have much more to see and to say.. Stay with us, dear reader. There’s more to come.

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2019:

Pond Cottage, in Witheridge, Devon, UK
The pond next to our house, Pond Cottage, in Witheridge, Devon, UK,  with a few ducks and geese. For more photos, please click here.

Early morning routine…Life of retirees…More photos from cultural coffee farm tour…

Tom was holding the broom (escoba) made of vegetation at El Toledo Coffee Tour.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Layers of clouds rolling into the valley.

As candid as we are regarding how we live our daily lives, we’re also curious about how other retirees may spend their time. Is it so unusual it’s Tuesday at 8:00 am, and we’re sitting in the screening room while Tom is watching last night’s Minnesota Vikings game while I busily peck away at my laptop?

The items throughout the cafe each had their own story to tell.

Probably not. We haven’t spent any of our retirement years living near friends and family, which would give us a better perspective of what other retirees may be doing in their spare time, as compared to us.

The El Toledo Coffee Farm’s coffee is nicely packaged.

It’s not a desire to emulate the activities of others. More so, it’s simple curiosity, the same curiosity bringing some of you back, again and again, to see “what we’re up to” from one day to the next.

An old-fashioned cart.

A significant difference for us, besides living in a new country every few months, is the reality of living without a car at specific points, often without easy access to public transportation. It’s the price we pay for choosing to live in more remote locations.

Every corner of the area was filled with family treasures.

Many world travelers with whom we’ve communicated chose to live in apartments and condos in big cities, heading out each day for sightseeing, dining, and tours. 

Gabriel was educating us while we sat at the long table.  We were entranced by his manner of speaking and expertise.

The big city life is far removed from our reality, except on occasions such as our upcoming one-month stay in Buenos Aires beginning on December 23rd (Tom’s birthday). Indeed during those 31 days, we’ll be dining out (no kitchen), using public transportation for tours and sightseeing, and getting out of the hotel room each day to wander about.

Handmade wood boat.

Even us, who don’t mind staying in, don’t enjoy sitting in a hotel room all day and night.  This period will give us an excellent opportunity to get out walking, something we’ve missed here in the villa in Atenas. The hills are too steep to navigate for an enjoyable leisurely walk.

The coffee cafe, with its cultural decor, was fascinating.

Luckily, in the weeks we’ve had a car (every other at this point), we’ve chosen various types of sightseeing, all of which have required extensive walking. Although these “hikes” aren’t frequent enough to build the level of fitness we’d like to restore, at least these tours, thus far, have kept us on the move.

The clutter was oddly appealing.

As for a day like today…once the football game ends and I’ve uploaded the post, most likely, we’ll spend time out by the pool. The past three days have been cloudy and rainy by the time I’ve finished the post. We’re both anxious to get our token 20 to 30 minutes of sun time and spend time in the pool. Rain or shine, we spend the better part of each day on the veranda with the roof protecting us from the rain.

Once we embarked on the tour, we entered this working area.

We discuss our dreams for the future during those pool times, where we’d like to go after revisiting the US in 2019. At this point, we’re tossing around some ideas, considering which countries we’ve yet to visit and those we long to see.

Gabriel was explaining the use of the space.

Our typical day-to-day lives may not be too different than yours, except for a few factors; we don’t do any household repairs and maintenance; we don’t do yard work, and we don’t go to Home Depot. 

Wine-making area.

We don’t “jump in the car” to drive short distances to visit with friends and family; we rarely go to the doctor; we don’t go to Costco for a fun shopping trip loading up large quantities of food and supplies; we don’t head over the Walgreen’s or CVS for a few items, using these little rewards cards for discounts hanging on our keyring.

Drying racks for the coffee beans.

Then again, most peculiarly…we don’t have a keyring! How odd is that?

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 12, 2016:

When we watched this activity on the river, we had no idea what was transpiring until we saw they were cleaning the carcass of a cow in the river. Yikes! For more photos, please click here.

Rainy Sunday in the bush…New Crocodile River photos!…Food photos…

Θ

It was wonderful to see this elephant from the veranda at Amazing Kruger View Restaurant last night while dining with Dorthy and Arthur.

It was a good night. We met Dorthy and Arthur at Amazing Kruger View at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, for sundowners and dinner. The menu has a few items that work for my way of eating, and I managed to order two items befitting my special diet; a small starter plate of grilled squid tentacles and a grilled chicken salad. Both were the perfect amounts and rather good, but not necessarily great. Both are shown in the two photos below.

We spotted this hippo at quite a distance.

Tom ordered chicken schnitzel with chips, as shown in the photo below. Dorthy ordered the prawns (with the heads preferred by South African and creamed spinach and butternut squash) and two popular South Africa side dishes (often served at Jabula). Dorthy enjoyed her meal.

Arthur had the Chicken Curry Penne pasta, which he said was good, and the portion was large enough for him to take a “doggie bag” to enjoy for today’s lunch. We laughed when we saw he’d order Chicken Penne Pasta. That was what Tom ate for dinner (minus the curry sauce) every night for the first eight of ten months we spent in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai, India, until he was so sick of it, he quit eating dinner altogether.

Moments later, I spotted a second hippo and a waterbuck. It was getting dark, and the distance prevented clear photos.

Tom gained 10 kg, 22 pounds, from eating that pasta those eight months, along with breakfast and four bananas each day. No wonder he gained all that weight, most of which he’s lost since we’ve been here. Speaking of weight, he gained about 2 kg, 4.4 pounds, from eating the lemon poppyseed muffins I made for him as comfort food after having his dental surgery.

Storks on the river.

Now that the muffins are gone, he’s determined to eat only low-carb foods when we dine in, not necessarily when dining out. But Tom isn’t insulin resistant and by no means pre-diabetic, so treats for him when we dine out aren’t an issue like they are for me. My blood sugar and blood pressure will go through the roof if I eat bread, potatoes, starchy foods, or desserts which impacts my heart health. It’s not worth it to me.

Arthur’s dinner of Curry Chicken Penne Pasta.

So this morning, to add a little comfort food to our daily menu, I made a few treats, each very low-carb and to be eaten in moderation; Low Carb Chocolate Fudge and Low Carb Cream Cheese Clouds, both delicious and in the freezer now firming up to be cut into bite-sized pieces.  Each evening after dinner, I’ll make up a little plate for each of us to be savored in small portions.

Dorthy’s prawn dinner with heads, creamed spinach, and butternut squash, both popular South African side dishes.

While in the kitchen this morning, I worked on tonight’s dinner, and all of that is under control. With dishes piled up all over the kitchen, I made breakfast of “butt” bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese. After breakfast, Tom licked the beaters and the bowl from the Cream Cheese clouds and then proceeded to all the dishes. I don’t mind cooking and making special treats when I know he’ll do all the dishes.

My starter, a small plate of tiny squid tentacles.

Back to last night’s dinner with Dorthy and Arthur…while we sat at the big picnic-type table on the veranda, completely covered over with a tent-like roof as it drizzled off and on, the conversation was lively and animated. We have many common interests as retirees, and they can be more adventurous, although a bit older than us. It was delightful chatting with them.

As we enjoyed our drinks and food, we noticed several other customers standing at the railing overlooking the Crocodile River. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a table closest to the railing without a reservation, so each time we spotted something, I had to get up with the camera and scan the river for any possible sightings.

My grilled chicken salad. The chicken looked fried, but it wasn’t. Spices made it look like it was battered.

On one occasion, there was a snake in a tree that was hard to spot. I took a photo but found the result to be obscure and hard to visualize. But, as the sky darkened, the sightings of the photos we’re sharing today were satisfying and exciting.

Imagine being out to dinner and watching the activity in one of the most wildlife-rich national parks in the world. Imagine our delight when we have to stop on the road to let two giraffes pass on the way out to dinner. Imagine waking up in the morning, drawing open the shade covering the window to see a 227 kg, 500 pounds, wild animal, a kudu, looking in the window with an expression of anticipation on their face.

Tom’s Chicken Schnitzel topped with cheese sauce with chips on the side.

This is Marloth Park, the most unusual place we’ve found in the world that fills our hearts with joy and fulfillment, not only due to the exquisite abundance of nature but also the fine people we meet along the way.

We are grateful and never take it for granted. No, not for a moment.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #243. Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, a cooler day!…Load shedding continues…We’re losing water…Off to see old friends for dinner…

Gordon Ramsay, our newest bushbuck visitor, visits daily after discovering the goodies we offer.

Marloth Park is practically a disaster area right now. Some residents have been without power for four or five days. Many others have no phone service, TV service, and WiFi, especially if they have Vodacom (we do not). Tom, who usually takes a shower at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, each day, is taking one now at 10:00 am before our water runs out, as it has for many others in the park.

The electricity that services the pumps that run the water system is out, impacting everyone in the park. We can only imagine the frustration for those residents who’ve been without power for four or five days. Indeed, they’ve lost all their perishable food in the fridges and freezers by now.

Another view of Gorden Ramsay.

For those of us who still have electricity, load shedding is at Stage 4, which translates to 7½ hours per day without power, spread over three 2½ hour sessions. That’s nothing compared to those who haven’t had power since last Wednesday. Plus, being unable to be online or make a phone call is a terrible hardship for those residents.

Sure, an unsympathetic type could say, “If this was the mid-1800s and earlier, people had none of these services for the majority of their lives. They managed,” But, that isn’t comforting at all. Our lives are adapted to modern technology, and we shouldn’t have to be without that which has become an integral part of our lives in this day and age.

Here is Sylvia, named after my mother. She’s a loner, as are most bushbucks.

Imagine the frustration for those who continue to pay for the services and yet have none whatsoever. They’ll play hell trying to get credits for the periods they’ve been without the services. After all, TIA, “This is Africa,” and such infrastructure failures are expected as the norm.

And yet, for now, we choose to be here. No, we’ll never buy a house here, nor would we live here full-time if we decided to stop traveling and settle somewhere. Both of us agree to this without hesitation.

Sylvia loves cabbage.

Our holiday house uses a different WiFi company, Tech Connect, and we’ve had no issues recently. We have Google Fi on our phones and can easily make calls if necessary and access data. But, Google Fi shares towers with many of those that aren’t operational at times, and we may not have services.WiFi is out mainly because of the ongoing theft of the batteries at the stations that run services from the towers. Thieves come to the park in the middle of the night and steal the batteries.

Vodacom is sick and tired of replacing stolen batteries for its towers. They need to come up with another plan for those who are impacted. How about an impenetrable storage system for the batteries? It’s not rocket science. But again, TIA and things don’t get resolved like they do in many other parts of the world.

Our entire garden is now muddy due to the much-needed rain over the past week.

One might say, “Move away if you don’t like it.” But, in this and many other African countries, people can’t afford to leave when the cost of living is lower here than in many other parts of the world. Permanent residents, including retirees in Marloth Park, have no chance of moving away. With load shedding issues throughout the country, they’d have to move to another country that is not affordable or sensible for most.

For tourists, such as our friends, Rina and Cee, meeting today for sundowners and dinner at Amazing Kruger View. It is challenging. One spends money to come here for a holiday, enjoy the wildlife and end up without water, power, WiFi, and phone service. Such occurrences can easily impact tourists’ future decisions to come to Marloth Park. A lack of tourists affects property owners who need holiday rental income to cover their living costs. It’s a vicious cycle.

The cement pond, which we’ve kept free of water due to breeding mosquitoes, is now filled with water.

We accept the reality of the situation and must continue to do so for the next 74 days until we depart for Florida, US, where we’ll be spending 75 days, until our cruise sails across the Atlantic Ocean from Fort Lauderdale Southampton, England. No, we don’t wish time to fly by quickly. We are savoring every moment.

While we’re sitting on the veranda on a cooler, cloudy day, Froggie, who lives in the rafters above our heads, is entertaining us with his frequent croaks. Lori and Barbara (from Shark Tank) are sitting in the bush with an eye on us, waiting for the next visitor to our garden to whom we’ll toss some pellets. They’ll move in, scare them away with their bossy personalities and take over the eating of the pellets.

Our power just went out due to load shedding, but we’ll be fine during the 2½ hours. We’ll still have WiFi due to our inverter. Thanks to Louise and Danie for providing the valuable device for us during our year-long stay. Gordon Ramsey (bushbuck) just showed up for some pellets and cabbage. I’d better run and get his lunch!

Have a good day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #231. Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office in Savusavu, Fiji, while we waited outside with no indoor seating areas. The dental office was located on the hospital grounds. For more, please click here.

Four weeks from today…Savoring the moment…Food obsessions…

A new bushbuck to our garden, Short Horn. Notice the size difference between his right and left horns.

It’s hard to grasp the concept of us leaving Africa in a mere four weeks from today. Tom asks me why I keep track of how many days we go, especially when leaving is not my preference. Well, the answer for me is simple. As detail-oriented, I am a “numbers” person. I keep track of all kinds of numbers in my brain, some important, some useless.

But doing so doesn’t mean I am not savoring every last moment, capturing pictures in my mind and on the camera. Only moments ago, I was cutting up carrots, cabbage, and lettuce for the bushbucks and kudus. They love the cool crispness and moisture in the vegetables. It’s one of those daily tasks I do with love.

Warthogs don’t care for cabbage and lettuce. They prefer the sweetness of the carrots. Already this week, we’ve gone through 10 kg, 22 pounds of carrots. The most recently purchased huge bag contained many small and large carrots with many pieces that I didn’t have to cut for the smaller bushbucks, like Holy Moley, Big Spikey, Little Spikey, and Baby. They savor every morsel.

We’re always thrilled to see Torn Ear.

The wildebeests, kudus, and warthogs can easily chew an entire carrot, but a few in the bag were so large I cut them to avoid a possible choking hazard.

Yesterday, when I tossed carrots to Little and his new girlfriend, Mom and Babies, one carrot landed in the cement pond, now filled with sand, dirt, and rocks. The carrot landed in a tight spot. Last night, Little knocked off almost every large boulder surrounding the cement pond, intended as a border, but could not get to it.

This morning, he remembered that the carrot was there and again tried to get to it. Success! He managed to get the hard-to-reach carrot. I can imagine Little thinking about that carrot all night long. That’s Little for you! He’s quite the “pig.” I suppose at times in my old life, and I may have thought about a remaining piece of a pie in the fridge and finally got up in the morning to eat it with my cup of coffee. Did that make me a pig? I suppose. We all have our various food obsessions.

Helmeted guinea-fowl and four of her chicks.

Tom is on a salty, roasted peanut kick right now. We purchased good-sized bags of peanuts on Monday, and two are left. Indeed, by the end of the weekend, they will be gone. Since I began a low-carb way of eating in August 2011, improving my health so much that we decided to travel the world. I’ve only had a few occasions where I have “cheated.”

Please don’t give me credit for a tremendous amount of self-control and discipline. I have been highly motivated. If I went back to the typical  American low-fat, high-carb diet, undoubtedly in no time at all, I would be in pain and unable to continue on our journey. That’s how this significant change worked for me. It may not work for everyone. (However, I am not exempt from experiencing painful conditions, such as my current painful dry socket from a tooth extraction ten days ago. Nope, it’s not better yet).

With this degree of motivation, it’s been relatively easy for me to give up my old food addictions, such as; eating a big bowl of high-carb, fat-free, sugar-free ice cream at night after dinner or eating high carb, high sugar winter squash with dinner almost every night, which was an excellent way to get full, while eating piles of green vegetables with small amounts of lean protein. It kept my weight down but made me have high blood sugar and be pre-diabetic.

Benny, Henny, and Lenny stop by less frequently than many other warthog families. Where’s Penny?

If I ate like that now, I’d surely be diabetic based on a solid propensity from family genetics. My blood pressure and blood sugar spike if I eat too many vegetables, unsweetened Greek yogurt (which I love but don’t eat), and fruit.  I suppose I am one of few who checks these readings every week to ensure I am doing ok. After all, I have coronary artery disease, which is exacerbated by high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  I am trying to stay alive. No food is worth increasing my risk of a heart attack or stroke.

On the other hand, Tom naturally has shallow blood pressure and blood sugar. He can eat anything he wants with little impact on his blood sugar or blood pressure. His family history is primarily longevity and good health. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t gain weight when eating high carb and sugary foods. Like everyone else, he can easily suffer from the effects of excess weight and body fat, and other conditions commensurate with being overweight.

At 4:00 pm (1600 hrs), we’re heading over to Rita and Gerhard’s for sundowners. Their holiday home is located on Hornbill, a house we rented while here in 2013/2014. I won’t be drinking any wine today and haven’t for days since I am on pain medication for the dry socket. Hopefully, it will heal soon, and I can enjoy being pain-free and back to my  “old self” once again.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2020:

The Golden Temple Amritsar, India
We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #184. The Golden Temple Amritsar, India, is seen through a decorative archway on the religious grounds of the historic Sikh location. Please click here to see more photos from Amritsar. Please click here for more on the year-ago post.

Hahaha, it’s so busy in the garden, I can’t get anything done!!!…It was almost two years ago…Can’t stop thinking about it…

    Broken Horn is persistent about pellets, scaring off any intruders with his horns.

I am sitting at the big table on the veranda and can’t stop laughing. There are so many animals stopping by I can hardly type a word for today’s post. Between Little, Broken Horn, ThickNeck/BadLeg, Spikey, and his mom, 25 helmeted guinea fowls, Frank, Go-Away birds, and other warthogs and bushbucks, I can’t sit still long enough to type a word.  I keep getting up for more pellets and seeds.

The sights and sounds of the bush grab my attention, especially knowing that in 59 days, we will be leaving South Africa, unsure as to when we’ll return. It could be one year. It could be two. It’s all subject to what transpires with Covid-19. We do know that beyond the end of February, after friends Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida, whether or not our cruises to Japan sail or not, we will be leaving the US to continue on our journey.

A few Go-Away birds have been hanging around for days. We love their funny sounds.

Of course, if Covid continues to rage throughout the world, and if there is nowhere safe or without restrictions for us to visit, we may have to rethink the possibility of plans outside the US. The alternative has been our long-range plan to travel to the US, and in the worst case, the time to do that may be coming sooner rather than later. At this point, we don’t have a clue.

As for most of us, Covid-19 determines our future fate, especially regarding travel. We’ve often thought about renting an RV to eventually travel the US when we were getting too old for long-distance travel, hauling heavy bags, and flying on countless red-eye flights. Is the handwriting on the wall and that time may be sooner than we’d hoped?

This tiny bushbuck couldn’t have been more than a month old but already knew about pellets. Her mom is in the background.

It will be less than two years ago that we stayed in Apache Junction with Tom’s sisters. We particularly loved the days and evenings we spent with them, socializing and having fun. Now, as the days tick away for us to leave Africa, where we’ll be soon, looms heavily on my mind.

But, the days in-between those delightfully fun social interactions were hard for me. It reminded me too much of what our lives would be like if we gave up our journey and settled somewhere in the US. After all, we’ve seen and done. Such a thought is far removed from our reality. The trips to the supermarket, Walgreens, Target, the bank, and more remind me of a life I struggle to embrace at this point.

Bossy and Broken Horn, together in the garden.

We never imagined our life of world travel would end due to a pandemic. Who imagined they’d lose their jobs, work from home, home school their kids, and wear face masks every time they stepped out the door? Who imagined their social lives would be small and fraught with worry and concern over “catching” the virus?

Even those of us vaccinated are still proceeding with caution in everything we do, everywhere we go, when the media and even science continue to throw us curve balls on what we can and can’t do, what is safe for ourselves, and our family. Will a booster jab be necessary? No one seems to know for sure. When will the numbers come down? Are the numbers real or exaggerated? None of us knows for sure. We live in a constant state of limbo.

Lots of pigs in the garden!

Many of our friends who usually spend time in Marloth Park never came here, frightened of their fate, their safety. Are we no different in deciding to leave when we don’t even know if it’s safer in the US or not? Based on the stats from Worldometer, the US is still in the #1 spot on the list of countries. Why would we assume it’s safer there?

Arizona, where we’re going in 59 days, is listed in the 12th position out of 56 states and US territories. There’s a large senior population in Arizona.  From the web:

“The number of elderly (persons over the age of sixty years) in Arizona will grow from a current level of around 900,000 in 2000, representing some 18 percent of the population to 1.8 million and 24 percent in 2020 and almost three million and 26 percent of the population in 2050.”

If 24% of the current population in Arizona is senior citizens, what percentage of those are recent cases of Covid-19?

From this article:

Arizona’s older population could mean more COVID-19 deaths.

That’s a higher share of the elderly than some states that have so far seen more significant outbreaks than Arizona. About 18.6% of people in California are over age 60, 19.1% in Colorado, 20.6% in Washington, and 21.2% in New York.

“Those that are over the age of 60 or those that have other significant medical issues are the ones most likely to suffer that mortality rate from COVID-19,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, said. “The age of a country or a state or even a town will determine the death rate.”

One Wart, a regular visitor to the garden.

No, we don’t dwell on this every day. Of course, we will continue to avoid a sense of doomsday and be optimistic for the future. But now, as the time to return to the US nears, it’s unavoidable to free ourselves of such thoughts when we are out in public and at gatherings, just as we’ve done here in Marloth Park.

And, as I sit here today, surrounded by our wildlife friends, I already feel the sense of loss I’ll feel leaving here. If it weren’t for the necessity of going every 90 days for a visa stamp, undoubtedly, we’d have stayed longer.  But, without a doubt, we’ll have a good time in Apache Junction, Arizona, with Tom’s siblings and then on to Florida for the wedding.

Life goes on. Thank God for that!!!

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #153. This is St. Mary’s church in Bampton, known as Church of St. Michael of All Angels, as shown in the series Downton Abbey, where Mary married Matthew, Edith was jilted at the altar, and eventually, Matthew was buried. For more photos, please click here.

“It’s always somethin’ Jane!”…

Six years ago today, on November 19, 2013, we posted this photo when we visited the Swahili Beach Resort for dinner at Diani Beach, Kenya.

We can live anywhere in the world, and wherever we may be at any given time, life isn’t free from worries and concerns for ourselves and our loved ones. As we spend more time with family while in Minnesota, we have a first-hand opportunity to witness the trials and tribulations of those we love, often centered around health problems commonly found due to aging and other causes.

With our dear DIL dealing with cancer and similarly one of Tom’s sisters and with Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, in the hospital with some unknown illness, we find ourselves worried. Tom spent the better part of the day at a local hospital with DIL Tracy, who tests for a problematic condition, yet unknown, we feel like health issues are everywhere. We hope and pray Tracy will be OK.

No one is exempt from the risks of acquiring health conditions. When Tom met for lunch with several railroad retirees last week, more than half of the group was suffering from one serious illness or another. Railroad workers are often exposed to toxic chemicals in their line of work which may result in severe health conditions later in life.

When we’ve met with his family over these past several days, it’s evident that many are in the throes of recovery from surgery or illness or in the manifestation of a new condition in itself.

What’s happened in this world? Why are so many people getting cancer, heart disease, and a wide array of other life-threatening illnesses? When I think of my situation, I can hardly blame it on lifestyle or pesticides. I’ve spent a lifetime eating healthy, fresh foods, avoiding sugars, starches, and now in the past eight years, grains.

Of course, there’s no easy answer. For many, illnesses may be age-related, lifestyle-related, environmental, and as in my case, genetic, the most difficult causal factor to change. 

As research, unbiased of course, not funded by Big Pharma, continues in many of these areas, “they” are discovering more on the role genetics play in our health throughout of lives. Perhaps, not in our lifetime, but down the road, more discoveries will be made to attempt to avert some of these seemingly inevitable scenarios.

On this topic…as each day passes, I begin to feel a little better. My cough is about 20% better than yesterday, now day 4 of antibiotics and Prednisone. I can’t wait to be able to breathe more easily and sleep better at night.

They provided us with discount coupons for the meds! Amazing! Still, I remain grateful for the quality of care I had at the local Medexpress Clinic and, of course, the reasonable fees of $189, plus the cost of the various medications that weren’t too bad.

Next week on Wednesday, when I see the cardiologist for my early one-year heart check, it will be much more expensive, and we’re bracing ourselves for that. Since my heart feels good, I see no reason for a plethora of tests.

As one of the world’s worst patients, I tend to pick and choose what I feel is appropriate for me, not necessarily what the doctor may order. Many may disagree with this type of thinking, but we each have to be our advocates and do what we feel is suitable.

Taking drugs that cause me to be exhausted, in pain, and feeling ill is not on the horizon for me. Quality of life is of the utmost importance, and I continually strive to build and maintain such a lifestyle to enhance that possibility.

That’s it for today, folks. Please stay tuned for more mundane updates on family matters. In nine days, we’ll be in Las Vegas. Certainly, there will be a few more photos ops and forms of entertainment to share with our readers.

May you be well, healthy and content.

Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2018:
Kudus in the garden. It was always important to feed the animals during the dry summer months in South Africa, during a drought. Vegetation was at a minimum, and they often depended on offerings from the visitors living in the bush. For more, please click here.

Southampton, England…A great hotel for two nights…

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The Leonardo Southampton Royal Grand Harbour hotel. (Not our photos).
Fascinating Fact of the Day About Southampton, England:

From this site:

“Southampton is a port city on England’s south coast. It’s home to the SeaCity Museum, with an interactive model of the Titanic, which departed from Southampton in 1912. Nearby, Southampton City Art Gallery specializes in modern British art. Solent Sky Museum features vintage aircraft like the iconic Spitfire. Tudor House & Garden displays artifacts covering over 800 years of history, including a penny-farthing bike.”
The hotel we selected in Southampton for two nights is the Leonardo Royal  Southampton Grand Harbour is located only minutes from the cruise terminal. For these dates, the nightly rate is GBP 180, US $231.  
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
The hotel at night.

We used accumulated points in Expedia and only paid GBP 145.50, US $187.06 for both nights in a king room with breakfast included, which we prepaid at booking.

Yesterday, taking our time on the drive and stopping for a light lunch, we arrived at the hotel later than expected. Subsequently, we dined in the hotel’s restaurant.  Unfortunately, the lovely couple, Kim and Keith, whom we’d planned to meet for dinner, canceled due to Kim’s lousy cold. They didn’t want us to catch it, which we appreciated. There are plenty of germs on cruises as it is.
Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
One of the many seating areas in the hotel.

As typical for hotels, the meal in the restaurant was good, not great, with prices commensurate with what we’ve observed in the UK these past few months. Tonight, we may go out or dine in the bar, which has an excellent menu for my way of eating.  


Food is not so important to us when we have the cruise ahead of us where they’ll make everything befitting my restricted diet. In any case, we don’t make cruising about the food.  

For us, it’s the opportunity to socialize with other travelers from all over the world that make cruising unique—now, situated in the hotel bar preparing today’s post at a table close to an electric outlet without much social interaction. We’ll make up for it soon enough. 

My fast dying laptop (almost five years old) requires that I work with it plugged in with the battery on its last leg. On the upcoming cruise, we’ll have to find a spot close to an outlet. 

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Typical English breakfast served buffet-style in the main dining room.

We’ve been able to find an excellent place to sit near an outlet on several past cruises. Cruising on this particular ship, Celebrity Silhouette is new to us, and we’re hopeful we’ll find a spot close to all the action. 

We prefer not to be isolated when working on the post, especially when other passengers stop by to chat. It may take six or seven hours for me to complete one post with all the interruptions, but we love the interactions with other passengers and, from time to time, crew members.

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Cruise ships are often waiting in this harbor for enthusiastic cruise passengers.

It’s funny how passengers will say when they see us working on our laptops, “Couldn’t you have left the work at home?”  

We laugh and often say, “This is “home” at the moment.”

Yes, we continue with our daily tasks, handling photos, the posts, financial matters, banking, and so forth wherever we may be at any given time. It’s the nature of our peculiar lifestyle.

I don’t have anything in the way of photos today. It’s raining, and we don’t care to walk in the rain, nor do we want to pay a taxi to take us around when we’ve already returned the rental car.  

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
This is where we’re seated now as we prepare today’s post.

Yesterday, when we arrived and couldn’t get a signal on the phone and thus we drove around Southampton (population 253,651) and had a good look. After these quiet months in the English (and Wales) countryside, it’s a lovely city with too much traffic and commotion for us.

The cruise will be the perfect segue back to a crowded environment. Afterward, we’ll be on Minnesota highways with plenty of traffic, horn honking, and impatient drivers, typical for any large city.

Image result for leonardo royal southampton grand harbour
Map of our hotel and its proximity to the harbor. Regardless of the weather, we’ll still have to take a taxi to the cruise terminal.

We always say the most courteous drivers in the world are in South Africa. The slower vehicles always move to the shoulder to let others pass on both highways and dirt roads. We’ve never ceased to be amazed by this phenomenon.  

(Yeah, I know…I miss it, and every day I wonder if immigration will allow us to return and if we can rent the Orange house again…and then if “you know who” will return to see me.)

Well, folks, tomorrow is another “day-in-the-life” of these two nomads as we board yet another cruise, this time a transatlantic crossing. 

Happy hump day to all the working people, and happy any day to the retirees!

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

Single file, from matriarch to baby.  For more photos, please click here.

Life on a farm…An experience like none other…Once again, adapting…

John, our exciting and attentive host farmer, has beautiful stories to tell. A former physician and world traveler, he’s a wealth of information. He took us on a partial tour of the 150 acres farm. On another day, we’ll see more.

Fascinating Fact of the Day about Devon, Cornwall:
Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of road – the longest network in the country. The county is home to everything from single track rural lanes across Dartmoor and Exmoor to major highways like the A38 and A30 – as well as the M5.”

There are chickens, ducks, and geese on the property, along with many Dorset sheep.  (Photos coming soon of these adorable sheep which are kept for their wool, not for slaughter.

Many of us have ancestors that farmed. In Tom’s case, it’s undoubtedly true when both of his parents, grandparents, and some of his siblings were born on a farm. I would have no idea if any of my ancestors were farmers.

We both love living on a farm. It must be in our DNA. It’s hard to imagine living in a typical city when over the past weeks, we’ve lived on two farms, reveling in every aspect. Of course, part of the enjoyment is based on the fact that we don’t do any of the work.

The acreage is diverse and beautiful.

People we’ve met along the way have asked if we “house sit” or work on farms as compensation for living quarters. As much as they may be appropriate for some travelers, it is just not quite our thing.  

We travel as retirees, although we spend hours preparing and working on our posts, taking photos, and conducting research. As we mentioned many times in past posts, we don’t feel our site is a “job” based on the enjoyment and benefit we derive from writing our stories each day.  

If the weather were warm, we’d certainly use this pool, but it is very calm and frequent rains, as it is today.

Should our level of enthusiasm or interest in continuing to post each day ever changes, we may have to reconsider. But, for now, we can no more imagine ending this process than we can in ending our world travels. 

We can only strive to be healthy, diligently watch our budget and be adaptable to the many nuances properties and locations present to us along the way. Nonetheless, we’ll always encounter situations that aren’t ideal.

A small pond near their house and the barns.  Soon, we’ll share photos of the pond outside our door of the “Pond Cottage.”

In this new location, a well-built former barn renovated to perfection still has some nuances which we must adjust to, primarily small things such as a difficult-to-navigate stairway to the second floor where the bedrooms and bathrooms are located.

There’s a tiny under-counter refrigerator that requires bending over to access (although there is, much to our delight, a separate under-counter freezer). The bed is somewhat low and not as comfortable as we’d like. To avoid being nitpicky, there are other small things not worthy of mentioning here.

John planted 600 sequoia seeds many years ago, and now there are over 400 trees.

But, we’re living on a gorgeous farm and in a beautiful house, and we appreciate being here more than we can say. The owners are over-the-top wonderful, and the nearby villagers are kind, welcoming, and friendly. We couldn’t ask for more.

Funnily, neither of us feel compelled to get out sightseeing right now as we’re immersed in the quiet solitude on this gorgeous property. Tomorrow we’ll head to Tiverton to check out the bigger of the villages in the area.

No doubt during our three weeks here, we’ll get out to see the local points of interest, most of which is beautiful scenery. There is so much to explore here at the farm that we can stay busy for days. Also, the hills and rolling terrain are ideal for me to build strength in my legs.

This is a young sequoia tree, but it may become as massive as many seen in Northern California in generations to come.  

Yesterday, our tour with John was exciting and informational. His and his lovely wife’s love of their farm is evident in every acre of land, the well-kept nature of every building, and the loving care of their barnyard animals. We’re honored to have the opportunity to be here, with them only a short distance away and all the beauty and wonder surrounding us.

Soon, we’re off to Exeter Airport to return the rental car and get another. We’re hoping the rain stops and the sun comes out so we can explore on the return drive.

May your Sunday be blessed with joy and wonder!

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2018:
“Gee…the eggs are all gone, but I think I’ll lay in the bowl to let them know we want more.” Bands of mongooses came to see us almost every day. Tom would scramble raw eggs for them and serve them in this bowl. When the eggs were gone, lying in the bowl was an excellent way to express their enthusiasm. For more details, please click here.

 

Dealing with a lack of motivation…

A sailing regatta near Roundstone at dusk.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland 

“One of the most well-known facts about Ireland is that Dublin is home to
the world-famous Guinness Brewery. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year
lease for the land.”
________________________________________

From time to time we all feel unmotivated to tackle tasks that must be completed, whether or not we have a timeline.  Lately, these past five months, I’ve been seriously lacking in motivation to do paperwork that is piling up.


Throughout our years of world travel, I’ve never failed to scan receipts and log expenses into our spreadsheet.  When we left South Africa almost three months ago, I had logged everything from our time there but I’d failed to mention the total numbers in a post.


At this point in time, I doubt I’ll ever get to that.  For those of you anxious to see what we spent during our 15 months in South Africa, I can say it averaged about Euro 4457, US $5000 a month, including rent, rental car, fuel, groceries, dining out, tours and safaris, travel and miscellaneous.  

There was no less than a dozen sailboats we could see.


These figures exclude massive medical expenses and lost deposits and payments for future travel we had to cancel.  However, the totals include the two trips we made to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana to safari and tour, in order to renew our visas and, have more fantastic experiences.  


When 2018 tax filing was due on April 15th, I’d only been out of the hospital for a short time and literally could not even conceive of gathering the information for the tax prep necessary to send to our accountant in Nevada.  He filed an extension for us, good until October 15th, 2019.


I’d promised myself I’d tackle this big task before we left Ireland but I think I will hold off until we get to the UK in August.  Hopefully, by then I’ll feel up to tackling this daunting task.  Most likely I can complete this task in two days.

Most of the sails were dark red.


This week I’ve promised myself to scan the receipts we’ve accumulated for Ireland and enter them into the spreadsheets.  Our scanner died but the camera takes decent photos of receipts.  


What makes this task more time consuming is converting from Euros to US dollars.  Of course, we have an app for that on my laptop but it still takes time to do each one. I do all of the currency conversion first, writing the US dollars on the receipt, separate the receipts by category and then enter them.  I will do this task in the next few days.


Why am I so lacking in motivation?  For those readers following our posts on a consistent basis, the answer is clear.  For new readers, the reasons are easily found here beginning on our posts from the later part of February.  This post explains it all along with all the posts that follow to present day.


What do I do all day?  I spend the better part of each day walking in the house.  It requires an enormous effort to walk 5,000 to 10,000 inside on the main floor.
Recently, I added climbing the steps as many times a day as possible, not necessarily consecutively.  It’s getting a little easier each day.

The wind speed seemed suitable for the race.


Spending all morning researching and preparing the daily post, dealing with photos, cooking dinner and taking care of laundry every other day takes up the better portion of the day.  Incorporating the walking and step climbing into the daily routine also monopolizes a good portion of each day.


By the end of the day, I’m done.  After dinner, all I can do is sit in my comfy chair and watch a few shows on my laptop, sent to the flat screen TV via our HDMI cable.  It’s my favorite time of the day when I allow myself to totally relax and unwind.  


Every so often we sign up for various streaming services for a period of time.  Right now we have CBS All Access through Amazon Prime for Euro 2.63, US $2.95 a month, other free shows available through Amazon Prime and Graboid, a for-pay streaming/downloading service we’ve used for years.


Some nights it takes everything I have to stay awake.  But, Tom is good at saying, “Are you awake?” He’s well aware that sleeping in front of the TV can seriously impede a good night’s sleep.  With daylight lasting so long in Ireland, we often don’t head upstairs until after 2300 hours, 11:00 pm.

A nicely horned sheep with a dark face with a white body.


And you may ask, what does Tom do?  He cooks breakfast each day, helps with dinner, does all the dishes and kitchen clean up, all the heavy lifting, vacuuming floors, booking travel-related venues, and checking daily to see if any our booked cruises have had a price reduction.  


A few days ago, he saved us Euro 401, US $450 the day before the final payment was due on the upcoming cruise from the UK to the US at the end of October.  Once final payment is paid on a specific cruise, the cruise lines won’t honor the benefit of a price reduction. Tom is able to get these reductions on many of our booked cruises by watching daily pricing and informing Vacations to Go to lower our price for the same cabin cate.


In addition, he literally waits on me without an attitude or complaint.  If he sees my glass of water or ice tea is low, he’ll refill it for me.  If I didn’t do all the exercise and other tasks, it would be wise for me to turn down his help to force myself to perform more tasks.  At this point, I’m doing all I can.  His help is greatly appreciated and I’ve had to learn to graciously accept it.


Most people have ultra-busy days and nights in this world we live in.  Whoever thought retirement would be relaxing was kidding themselves.  As we’ve heard endless retirees say, they are busier now than when they worked.  How did this happen?


Hope you find time to relax, get in a little exercise, enjoy a great meal, good companionship and appreciate every day of life.  Join me in this, dear readers.

___________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 22, 2018:

Male bushbuck can be dangerous with their sharp horns.  See this article where a farmer was gored to death by a male bushbuck. We loved for them to visit but we kept a sensible distance. For more photos, please click here.