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Everything Else Fabulous

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Inspire

    My Summer of Miscontent

    The Unexpected Summer of 2020

    Miscontent – adjective: annoying, obsolete, disgruntled, dissatisfied

    How to describe the unexpected, slightly annoying, and hopefully soon-to-be obsolete summer of 2020? I don’t think any of us will forget it soon. No sir, summer 2020 is branded on each of us forever; a somewhat sad, somewhat frightening, but often annoying period in history.

    I approached this time of my life as optimistically as I could muster, setting my sights on goals and activities to keep me from going crazy. I can’t remember another summer in my life with so few parties, not a single concert, and zero festivals. No family reunion, no weddings, no fair or rodeo. No summer blockbuster movies, organized runs or even Seafair hydroplanes. Ho hum.

    masks
    The family all masked up but nowhere to go.

    But most of all it’s been years since I haven’t had a vacation or trip looming on the horizon. The world according to Covid. So sad….

    I knew full well as we flew half way across the world back to the United States on April 30th (abruptly ending our world tour) that nothing was going to be the same this summer. Our two months locked down on the island of Cyprus had us fully prepared with a good understanding of the dangers and contagion of the virus. We weren’t however prepared for the way the USA handled the virus with lack of cohesion, lack of preparation, lack of equipment, lack of communication. That part blew my mind. And thanks to all of that, we as Americans can’t travel now…perhaps for a very long time. Annoying.

    mount rainier
    Hiking with the family

    Growth Mindset

    The term ‘growth mindset’ is a bit of mantra for me, and I, sometimes to my husband’s dismay, tackle each problem head on with belief I can make something good out of the situation. And do it today. Generally I am a positive person with a somewhat Pollyanna view and so I set out to make the most of the situation. I lead a quantified life, meaning quarantine and lockdown seemed like another opportunity to tackle and reach some goals. This isn’t for everyone, but it works for me and damn I get a lot done!

    So after four months stuck back in the USA it’s time to review my summer of miscontent, and consider what lies ahead.

    mount rainier
    Hiking with my hubby

    .

    Learning New Garden Skills

    hummingbird
    The Garden Project

    I didn’t do much work on my garden last summer because we were up to our eyeballs in remodeling our new villa. This year I set out to learn all I could about deer resistant gardening as well as gardening with woodland plants. Read Deer Resistant Gardening post here.

    I have learned so much this summer, mostly by trial and error and I can say a few things with confidence about deer resistant gardening. First, the deer will try anything at least once…even if it’s supposedly “deer resistant”. Second, the female deer eat like pigs in the spring when they are carrying their fawns. And finally, there really are some plants the deer don’t like…thankfully. My successes this summer include lavender and all herbs, canna, cone flowers, daises, peonies, most grasses, cotoneaster and most woody shrubs, day lilies, and mums. I won’t be planting much beyond this list in the years ahead.

    BTW my Master Gardener friend Kim (who helped me a lot) reminded me that no matter if the tag on the plant says “deer resistant” the deer can’t read.

    Getting My Glow Back

    the glow
    Glowing at sixty

    Something I wasn’t prepared for when we started our life of nearly full time travel more than four years ago is how hard travel is on your skin and hair. Yes, I said skin and hair. Sun and sand, chlorine and salt, dry airplanes, dehydration, humidity…you name it. I felt my skin looked ancient when I arrived back in the USA. So, since we were going to be staying close to home, it seemed like a good time to launch a much needed and long neglected anti-aging skin care routine. Within a week of arrival I was into it and here is the post I wrote about Skin Care at Sixty

    It’s now been 18 weeks since I took control of the future of my skin and I can’t tell you how much better I look and I feel. It is worth the effort and the money and I will never go back to neglecting my own self-care again. Whether you use the products I used or another brand or approach, just taking the time to put yourself first and take care of you is an important goal in life.

    While I’m At It – Let’s Get Skinny

    Noom
    Down 27 pounds

    The two months on lockdown in Cyprus was a time I taught myself all about Cypriot cuisine. It was fun to have the time to do that. We also had an amazing Airbnb host who brought us baked goods nearly everyday. Oh boy those were good.

    But on touchdown in the USA I was at least fifteen pounds heavier than when I had left, and my weight then wasn’t ideal either. One of the best things about travel is the wonderful food around the world – and I want to try it all. But, back in the USA it was time to take some serious measures and drop some serious pounds. And so I joined Noom and got to work within a week of arriving back home. Here is the post I wrote about Noom Weightloss.

    I also set out to make better choices of what I ate and Noom helped me with that. We joined a seafood club and began receiving delicious wild caught Alaska Seafood and I taught myself all kinds of delicious seafood recipes. Cooking fish has always been a bit daunting for me, but not anymore. See some of the recipes here for Alaska Wild Caught Fish.

    It’s now been four and half months and I have lost 27 pounds and I am currently maintaining my new weight. My god I feel so great! Noom is a great program. It might not be for everyone but it was just right for me and my growth mindset life and I am going to do everything I can to keep the weight off.

    Let’s Get Physical

    Half Marathon Running
    Training for a half marathon

    Noom was my motivation, but running really helped me kickstart a quick weight loss from the beginning. I set out to train for a half marathon, knowing full well the virus was causing all organized runs to be canceled. But I decided I could do my own half marathons and gave myself twelve weeks to be ready using Hal Higdon’s training program. See the post I wrote about Half Marathon Training

    The twelve weeks have come and gone and I have run my half marathon and plan to run my second one this coming weekend. And as long as this old sixty year old body will let me, I’ll just keep right on running. I love it and it helps me stay slim.

    Learning Something New

    golf
    Celebrating a Par shot

    We can’t travel but I live on a golf course…there it is right in my own front yard. So no time like the present to learn something new. I have golfed in the past but it had been at least 15 years since I picked up some clubs. So my summer of miscontent became my summer of learn to golf. I took 8 lessons and learned a great deal during that time. I got a new driver, new shoes and a whole new atititude and confidence to this game and I look forward to golfing through out the fall and even the winter as I work to feel natural with a club in my hand. Another great way to get my exercise in.

    Staycations and Road Trips

    Road Trip
    On the road in Utah

    Once I felt safe to be out and about on a limited basis, we planned some close-to-home two and three day getaways (see our Island Sanity Staycation #1 here and our Tree House #2 here). I also got outside to hike and cycle as often as possible, keeping social distancing top of mind. I was really grateful for those close to home activities with my husband, my grown sons and some of our close friends.

    In August we decided to venture a little farther from home and did a 13 day road trip through Idaho to Colorado and back through Oregon. It was a lot of driving and in hind sight we should have added a few more days, but the weather was excellent, the scenery sublime and the ability to play my “get out of jail free card” really helped my sanity. I felt safe the entire time and we were careful and social distanced everywhere we went.

    And Just Like That, Fall is Here

    Fall in Washington
    Fall is just around the corner

    The virus is here for a long while, and learning to deal with it has been the unexpected outcome of my summer of miscontent. So now I look forward. I’ve done a little soul searching through all of this. Learning to accept the fact I can’t travel and I am not in control of when I might be able to again. Learning to find peace with that and find other things to occupy my over active brain. Learning to socialize primarily with my closest family and keep most everyone at arms length. No hugs. That sucks.

    The weather will turn soon and I will turn to my arts and crafts and focus on healthy eating and working out. We might do another road trip…or even fly to the sunny parts of the USA if we decide it’s safe to do so. But learning to be kinder, quieter, more thoughtful has been good medicine for me. I’ve given up the news and refuse to engage in politics or hate. It’s not my way.

    I know well there are so many people who have it so much worse than I do. I have a home, a family and I am safe and so far healthy. There is nothing more that I need.

    dandelion
    Signs of fall

    I know a handful of people who have had the virus, all but one of them surviving. It’s real and it’s going to be around for a while…I am settling in for the long haul. Likely no travel for a while, but learning to live within the boundaries the virus has imposed. And do so with a positive attitude…as much as possible. Sometimes that means stepping away from the news, shutting down the social media, turning away from the screen.

    My goal – a fall and winter of contentment. Putting away the miscontent and finding acceptance and satisfaction in the solitude this virus has thrust on us, and the major change in lifestyle that is now my routine. My autumn of contentment. My winter of gratitude. My Fab Fifties Life.

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    At Home  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    Running on Empty – Hal Higdon’s Training Program

    Hal Higdon's training program

    This week I started training for a half marathon, using Hal Higdon’s training program. Ouch. I feel like I’m running on empty, as I still am settling back into my new chapter here in the Pacific Northwest.

    Even though I run regularly, it’s been about six years, maybe more, since I ran a half-marathon. Back then I was running one or two half-marathons a year, and finding it a great way to stay fit and healthy, and clear my mind.

    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Finish of the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

    But when traveling, finding time to run long distances, or even to run at all, has been difficult. But now here we are back home, waiting to see when and if we can travel again, so there are no more excuses. Time to train and get back in shape.

    My husband used Hal Higdon’s training program when he was running marathons. He has run 7 or 8 marathons, so when I was ready to try a half, he set me up with the program.

    Higdon, a life-long runner, accomplished marathoner and Olympic Trial alum currently is a contributing editor to Runners World Magazine. He developed his training programs to help both novice and experienced runners reach their training peak at the optimal time to be successful in a distance run.

    Hal Higdon's Training Program
    Finish of the Gig Harbor Race for a Soldier

    I’ve used this training program multiple times and have always felt prepared when the big day finally arrived. The training is a 12-week plan, and starts with a 3 mile run.

    I know you think you could never run a half-marathon – I thought that too. But with the right training, just about anyone can do it. In all the races I have run since I started running about 12 years ago, I have always crossed the finish line. And the finish line is my only goal. I don’t agonize over my time, I don’t chastise myself if I need to stop, stretch or walk for awhile. I set my sights on finishing the race. And that is what Hal Higdon’s training program has done for me.

    So for the next eleven and a half weeks, I’ll be running with Hal. Want to join me? Here is how you too can get started. Let’s spend our lockdown summer running and getting in shape! You will be amazed what it does for both your body and your mind and we all need that right now don’t we?

    I’d love to hear from you if you want encouragement or to run virtually with me this summer.

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    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training program
    Everything Else Fabulous

    Home and Other Adventures

    Flying During Covid-19 Pandemic

    What a ride it’s been. But here we are. Home. That word feels so good in my mouth. Sweet and full. But with it comes a bitter taste – it’s not what was supposed to happen. Home and other adventures is a story of acceptance of our fate. Despite all our planning; despite all our hopes; despite all our efforts – our travel life has come to an abrupt stop.

    Heathrow Airport
    Eeriely quiet London Heathreow

    Home and other adventures took me several weeks to wrap my head around. As each day passed, each week passed I kept adjusting my thinking. Believing we could pick up our itinerary at some point and continue. Eventually we came to the realization it wasn’t going to happen and if we are going to be sitting somewhere we might as well be sitting at home. At least it’s free and we could be working on projects and helping our family. And so we took the first flight that came available out of Cyprus.

    Cyprus Airport
    Empty Cyprus airport

    Getting here was nothing less than grueling. It took about 50 hours from bed to bed. Three flights, one hotel, lots of cold sandwiches. Airports have few services. Planes have few services. I brought food with us, as best I could. It wasn’t good but it was something.

    Aegean Airlines
    Onboard Aegean Air to London

    Leaving Cyprus

    Departing Cyprus we drove on a bus to the plane – seriously about 15 minutes. To an entirely different airport where the planes seem to be staging. I think it was the old airport. I have no idea why. Upon boarding the flight crew was dressed like they were assisting in surgery…disposable gowns, face masks, rubber gloves and eye protection. We were given rubber gloves and told we had to wear them the entire flight. Everyone on board was wearing a mask. We were given a bottle of water and nothing else on the five hour flight. All middle seats were empty. Even couples who wanted to sit side by side were told they could not. Without flight attendants going up and down the aisle the plane was so quiet. With everyone wearing masks no one was chatting and the plane was absolutely silent. Ghostly.

    London Tube
    Heathrow baggage claim

    We arrived in London to a eerily quiet Heathrow. No temperature checks -we breezed right through, got our bags, walked to our hotel in the adjoining terminal. Crashed on the bed in the itty bitty room.

    Heathrow Train
    Empty train in London

    Leaving London

    Early Wednesday off we went again. Empty tube ride to the terminal. Almost empty terminal. Signs everywhere to distance. But staff not wearing masks or any protection. We asked why and were told it’s not allowed. It’s astonishing to me how inconsistent the rules are between countries.

    Heathrow Airport
    Having Heathrow all to ourselves…weird.

    Security checks at Heathrow were normal and well carried out. There was no health screening on departure. It was strange the wide variety of preparedness in the handful of travelers. Some did not have anything. Most had masks, a few had gloves as well. And then some dressed head to toe in complete “contagion” outfits. It reminded me of Willy Wonka in the Wonkavison room.

    Willy Wonka
    Wonka Vision
    Heathrow Airport
    Heathrow social distancing

    I was pulled aside for additional security screening at the gate…that was just random, not due to Covid. Mostly swabbing for chemicals and explosives. On board the British Airways 787 there were 13 people and nine crew. Wow. Nine people in economy (including us), no one in Business and four in First Class. We were able to spread out and get comfortable. In fact, we were required to each have a full row and to sit next to the window in an effort to “distance” It actually was a nice flight…I love British Airways. We had a half a sandwich served early with some chocolates and later a pizza like thing. That with the food we brought was plenty. No alcohol available.

    One striking thing about all three of our flights was how when we pulled away from the gate, the plane headed to the runway and just took off! No waiting for the plane in front of you.

    British Airways
    Lots of legroom

    Hello USA

    Arriving in the USA was interesting. First we were met on the gangway by health screeners. No temperature taking, but they asked us questions dressed in full contagion gear. The LAX airport has way more activity than in London. Several shops open and kiosks with cold food and even Starbucks open. There was none of that in London. There seems to be more staff around as well. Most are wearing masks. We breezed through both passport control and border patrol. I wanted someone to say welcome home…geeze I’ve been gone for seven months. But they hardly batted an eye. Sigh….

    Los Angeles International Airport
    Waiting for our third and final flight

    Our flight to Seattle left late but other than that was uneventful. Arriving in Seattle we got our bags and changed into clean clothes before meeting our boys – just an effort to try to not spread anything we may have picked up. SeaTac was quiet with very few people. Most staff wearing masks. Starbucks was open but I didn’t see any restaurants open, but we were only in one terminal so possibly in departures there was more. I’m not sure.

    Home and Other Adventures

    Waking up in my bed, opening my eyes and knowing where I was. Nice but surreal. I can’t tell you how many times over the past four years I’ve had to let my brain take a moment to know where I was upon waking…so many hotels, Airbnb’s and beds. But waking up here, I knew. I am so grateful we made the decision to buy this house…it was a leap of faith to buy something sight unseen. But life in a pandemic without a home to come to would have been pretty rotten. But here we are.

    The Lund Family

    I’ll be in self-quarantine here now for two weeks. Only seeing my boys, who met us at the airport. It’s good. Our youngest has been working from our house and will continue to do so until his office reopens, which may be awhile.

    So what’s next? We don’t know… we will figure it out just like everyone else. We still have flights for the wedding in France in June…it’s unlikely to happen but we haven’t completely given up on it. We have a trip to Hawaii planned in October. We have a trip to Boston and New York planned in December. Will that happen? I don’t know. I do know eventually we will get out there again…just how long it will take remains to be seen.

    Home and Other Adventures. Unexpected but satisfying. Be safe. Be well. Stay tuned. The adventure continues just with a sharp right turn and a few bumps in the road… Home, sweet home.

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Inspire

    Travel & Staying Fit – Lockdown Creates Similar Challenges

    Travel and Staying Fit

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    When we started this life of full-time travel I imagined getting in awesome shape while we traveled.  But it hasn’t been that easy.  In fact, it’s one of the more difficult parts of this ongoing journey – getting and staying in shape.  Not at all what I was expecting.  Over the past few weeks as we have sat in lockdown in Cyprus, I’ve begun to see again how lack of routine can wreck havoc on travel and staying fit in My Fab Fifties Life.

    Keeping a healthy weight has never come easy for

    Staying fit while traveling
    Running in our neighborhood

    me.  I am not a tiny girl…a comfortable size 12 or 10 is my USA size.  But I fluctuate a lot and always have.

    A decade ago when I began running I found a wonderful new outlet for both stress release and weight control.  I love to run!.  But in that decade I have also experienced some severe injuries that kept me from running up to as long as a year.  Suffering from sciatic nerve damage and plantar fasciitis being two of the worst things that have sidelined me.

    But even when I am healthy, travel and staying fit, particularly running is not always feasible on this  travel journey.  I was surprised to find as we circled the globe how many destinations are unsafe for running; dangerous roads, uneven sidewalks, vicious dogs (remember the  dog bite?) not to mention many countries where a woman should not be out alone.  These surprises stymied my running for months at a time.

    trave and staying fit
    We cycle when we can

    We are currently in Argaka on the island of Cuprus, day 42 of lockdown.   I am really enjoying running here.  Rural Argaka offers a flat and easy routes direct from our villa.  I have regularly been running 4-5 miles daily.

    Swimming is another favorite work out of mine, but alas, in four years of travel I can only think of three places we have been where a swimming pool was large enough to swim laps.  Most pools are very small, and open ocean swimming isn’t something I’m comfortable with.

    My best tool in my travel and staying fit goal is I can do yoga just about anywhere, and I do.  I do it on my own nearly every day, and take classes when they are convenient and affordable.  Yoga builds strength and flexibility as well as clears the mind and helps focus, but I really need to have a good strong regular aerobic exercise to keep my weight down. I carry a travel yoga mat and styrofoam block and use them religiously.

    staying fit with yoga
    Yoga for body and mind

    And then of course there is the food.  And the alcohol.  I love to eat and cook and try lots of new foods in every country we visit.  Some countries the food is better than others, but I’ll try everything once (well

    travel fitness ideas
    We hike and walk a lot

    almost everything) and we enjoy food as a cultural experience wherever we are. Although I believe we are eating fresher and more organic and locally grown than in the USA, we still eat with pleasure and sometimes too much, despite the fact we usually only have two meals a day.

    During our first part of the Grand Adventure I drank alcohol every day, usually a gin and tonic or two, sometimes beer.  But this past winter I decided the caloric intake of alcohol just isn’t worth it to me, particularly when I am in countries where I feel like I’m not getting enough exercise.  So I cut way back on alcohol.  However, I have found being on lockdown has created a routine of drinking daily again…alas there are some vices we need to just accept right now, no?

    Hopefully we will be back in the USA in a week or two, where I have access to safe running roads

    Travel and staying fit
    Swimming in Thailand

    and trails. If the YMCA reopens, I’ll begin swimming again.  And yoga will continue daily on my own.

    It’s not easy right now to be motivated to do anything…I know.  I’m restless and not sleeping well.  But having some kind of a routine, especially a work out routine helps keep me stay sane.  I’m particularly thankful I can get out into nature each day. A definite blessing for travel and staying fit.

    Be well my friends.  Be healthy and be patient.

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    Travel and staying fit
    Everything Else Fabulous

    The Surprising Things You Learn From Full-Time Travel

    Location: Cyprus

    I never ever imagined the word pandemic or quarantine becoming a part of my daily vocabulary. And yet it is. Wow. So many surprising things you learn from full-time travel.

    A world pandemic is at the top of the list of surprising things you learn from full-time travel. I’ve said it many times, despite all the preparation and planning, reading and studying – there still are so many surprising things you see and learn and experience that you never ever imagined. Pandemic one of many.

    Planet in Pain

    So today I thought I would share some of these things, since we are still stuck indefinitely here on Cyprus (currently day four of a new three-week total lockdown), it’s a good time to write a blog about the things you don’t realize you will learn from full time travel. The lessons keep coming but here are a few that stand out for me;

    How the World Views America

    America view

    We try to be good ambassadors for our country, but it can be really hard. Because many people have a view of Americans as loud, selfish, gluttonous and most of all ignorant and misogynistic. The view also extends to American media as biased and unreliable.

    Where are you from?

    My hometown of Gig Harbor

    So we get this question a lot. Sometimes the question is phrased like this; “Where are you from? Australia? England?”

    This always cracks me up because anyone who is a native English speaker is very in tuned to the nuances of those who speak English in the USA vs England, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland etc. But for those whose first language is not English the subtleties are often lost. It’s rare that we get asked if we are from the USA. I believe that is because the countries we are visiting for the most part aren’t often visited by Americans. We are often surprised by how surprised people are to meet someone from the United States.

    But the other odd thing when we get asked this question is how the answer goes. We answer “From the United States”, and 95% of the time we get a blank uncomprehending stare. So we rephrase our answer and say “From America.” Ahhh light bulbs come on and faces light up, “Amerikah!”. Despite the fact there is no country called America…much of the world refers to the USA as America.

    Metric System

    Metric (Canva)

    The USA is only one of three countries in the entire WORLD still not using the metric system (Myanmar and Liberia are the other two). I mean honestly people this needs to change. I have no choice but to learn the metric system as we travel and although I don’t have it down perfectly, yet it is an integral part of everyday life from cooking to driving to filling up the car with petrol. We think in Celsius and kilometers, meters and liters. You should give it a try.

    Holy Days and Holidays

    I left my heart in Guatemala
    Semana Santa

    In the 110 countries we have now visited we have not visited anywhere that celebrates holy days and holidays by spending the amount of money Americans do on holidays. Most holidays are about family and church with minimal decorating and gift giving. One strange thing…they often leave the Christmas tree up (artificial) until spring.

    Airplane Etiquette

    Flying

    Here is a win for the USA. I have been horrified by how some cultures behave on airplanes – ignoring and harassing flight attendants, barging up the aisle on landing and not letting other people get out into the aisle, as well as other rude behavior. We have found this particularly the case in Asian and African countries. In the USA this would be almost unheard of.

    Dogs and Cats

    Dogs and Cats

    It never occurred to me before beginning our travels that we would witness often horrifying conditions for dogs and cats around the world. I can’t and won’t describe some of the things we have seen…things I try to put out of my mind.

    English Speakers

    Do you speak English? (Canva)

    Before embarking on this full-time travel we had visited many countries in the nearly 40 years we have been married. Some of those countries we found communicating easy and others not so much. But in the past decade most countries have begun teaching English in schools and I can’t think of anywhere we have been in the past four years where we have not been able to speak in English to just about anyone we encounter. English is definitely becoming the world language.

    Oh My God

    Sunrise over Rabanal

    This has become a travel joke for us. Everywhere we go, whether or not the place we are in speaks good English or not, the phrase “Oh my God” is used. It is sometimes the only English words some people know. It is used to express frustration and surprise. I’m not sure if most people even know what they are saying – it’s just a colloquial term used around the world similar to Uff Da or Oi Vey or Gesundheit. Oh my God.

    Water

    Drinking water

    Boy oh boy I sure don’t take clean drinking water for granted anymore. It is to me the biggest problem around the world, and it generates another gigantic problem – what to do with all that single use plastic?

    There are some countries and cities making a huge effort. In Antigua Guatemala there are free filtered water stations. In Thailand you can refill giant water jugs for just pennies. Good on ya. I’d love to see this expand.

    Germs and Hand Washing

    We are all now washing our hands more than ever before. But one thing I have witnessed in most countries is very consistent hand washing already…way more than what I see in public places in the USA. Particularly in Muslim countries but in most other places too people wash not just after using the bathroom but frequently throughout the day, before and after meals and in both public and private places.

    Green Africa

    Rwanda

    Hey guess what? Africa is really, really green. So many Hollywood movies and even NatGeo portray it as a barren brown place – and there are certainly some deserts and dry areas. But most of it is so beautiful and green and big and diverse. You really should go there. Any country…just choose one. They are all great.

    Risky Business

    Dangerous Hippos

    I find myself in situations often while traveling that make me pause…what the heck am I doing? Things like being in a sinking boat in a hippopotamus infested lake, swimming next to the edge of Victoria Falls, hiking on a snowy mountain without clampons, standing 4 meters from a wild Silverback gorilla …crazy stuff. Stuff I wouldn’t be allowed to do in the USA because of much tighter laws and a litigation culture that keeps us away from danger. In most of the world, that is not the case.

    Mangos

    So many mangoes (Canva)

    You might think this is a funny category…and it is. But how did I never know how many kinds of mangos, bananas and so many other kinds of tropical fruit were waiting out there for me? There are 500 kinds of mangos for heavens sake! There are 1000 different kinds of bananas! Have you ever eaten a custard apple? How about a dragon fruit? What about a pomelo or jackfruit or langsat? I’ve been living a sheltered life.

    Left or Right

    Left side driving (Canva)

    Although most countries of the world drive on the right hand side of the road, it still is surprising how many countries drive on the left (including here in Cyprus, a former British colony). Even more surprising is a country like Myanmar, which switched from left-hand driving to right-hand driving in 2015 BUT 90% of the cars still have the steering wheel on the right side. Talk about disconcerting.

    Toilet Paper

    What can I say?

    As toilet paper has become such a valuable commodity in the USA I’ve chuckled about how different Americans view the little white squares compared to the rest of the world. Many cultures don’t use paper…the sprayer attached to the toilet does the job. Many countries you must bring your own paper if you want it, and most countries you aren’t supposed to flush it. Including here on Cyprus where flushing is a no no. Systems are not designed to handle paper, and so it goes into the bin next to the toilet.

    It may seem very strange if you haven’t lived somewhere like this but just like anything else you get used to it. I always have TP in my suitcase (and paper towels too) and always have some kind of tissue in my purse.

    Have You Learned Anything

    Have you learned anything crazy and surprising on your travels? Have you learned anything crazy and surprising from this blog? I could go on and on because there is so much more (cheap medical care, free universities, corrupt governments, government supported community days) that most Americans can’t comprehend.

    For me it’s one of the absolutely best things about travel…an eyeopening experience to how the other 96.25% of the world lives. Because get over yourself…the USA is not the center of the universe and we should all try to be more neighborly and interested in our entire planet and the diverse peoples and cultures that make it such a wonderful place.

    Don’t give up on travel…we will all hopefully be back traveling again in a few months. Just wash your hands.

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    Many of the photos in this blog are from Canva.

    Africa Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    That’s a Wrap Mauritius

    Long term stay on Mauritius

    Location: Mauritius Island, Indian Ocean, Africa

    The Great Mauritius Experiment comes to an end, a long term stay on Mauritius. That’s a wrap Mauritius.

    Six weeks staying in one place. In one Airbnb. On one island. The longest we have stayed anywhere. Here is what we learned;

    Me: I didn’t feel island fever -the malady of feeling trapped – but I did feel a loss of purpose. I’m not sure how to explain it but six weeks of doing a lot of nothing was too much for me. Some things about a long term stay on Mauritius I loved; I loved unpacking and sleeping in the same bed and feeling at home…and yet…

    North Beach Mauritius

    When I am at home (in the USA I mean), for three or more months during each year I have tasks. Things that need to be accomplished. And although we might often complain about these things, feeling that sense of accomplishment is a good feeling for me.

    While on Mauritius for six weeks I set goals and created tasks to keep myself feeling accomplished. Even if it was laundry, meal planning, writing the blog, hiking, running or researching our next destinations. This provides me some sense of purpose.

    Sunset Flic en Flac Mauritius

    Don’t get me wrong…I had definite enjoyable days of doing nothing. Even though I can’t spend hours and hours in the sun like I used to, the six weeks here included a lot of relaxing, reading and quiet time. But for me, it was too long.

    My husband: He is much less in need of a sense of purpose. In fact, his life goal is no tasks. I’m not saying he is lazy. Far from it. But he prefers a life without a lot of deadlines or pressure. He was and is the driving force behind us moving forward with a travel lifestyle (although most people believe it was me) and continues to enjoy this quiet life without drama that is inevitable back in the USA.

    Sunrise Flic en Flac Mauritius

    You might also be surprised to learn that it is he who loves the heat. He can spend the entire day reading on a lounge chair in the sun. So a long term stay on Mauritius fit him perfectly.

    Me: Moving forward in our planning I think I would want to stay three or maybe four weeks in a place but not longer. We stayed three weeks in Kenya and it was perfect. We stayed three weeks in Antiparos Greece and it was incredible. Much longer I just get ants in my pants. That said, once we leave here we are on a rollercoaster of movement for more than a month (8 countries) and I know when we stop to take a two-week breather in Cyprus we will be ready, tired and irritable. Finding a balance between these two kinds of travel is my goal.

    Gris Gris Beach South Mauritius

    My husband: He would prefer staying in one place for even longer than six weeks. Schlepping the bags is a pain. Driving is a pain. Changing lodging is a pain. Airports and airplanes are a pain. But, he doesn’t want to be back in the USA for extended periods either. The fact we are going to spend the Christmas holidays in the USA in 2020 is all my doing…he would rather not. He doesn’t like the weather, he doesn’t like the chores associated with the holidays (or the house), he doesn’t like the drama and he definitely doesn’t like how much it costs.

    And so we plunge ahead. We have no plans to stop this travel life. It’s been good for our marriage. It’s been good for our health (physical and mental). It’s been good for our finances. We just continue to refine it as we go along…it’s a constant learning process.

    Ile aux Aigrettes Mauritius

    So where to next? We depart Mauritius February 15th and begin country hopping through six African countries. Two quick days in Johannesburg, six days in the Victoria Falls triangle (Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana) five days in Uganda (Gorilla tour), seven days in Rwanda.

    A rough picture of the next five weeks.

    In early March we say farewell for now to the African continent after two and a half months and head to Israel for 16 days (but in 6 different lodgings) before taking a breather in Cyprus in the end of March. In Cyprus we spend the majority of our time in one Airbnb so it should be relaxing and we will be ready.

    I won’t bore you with the details from there, but I will say there is a lot of countries to come as we move north into Europe as spring and summer arrive, culminating in France for a late June wedding and heading back to the USA June 30th.

    And I’m already planning 2021, using all the knowledge we have acquired in our travels so far. What a fabulous life indeed.

    That’s a wrap Mauritius. Thanks for following along. Read last week’s blog about the wonderful foods on this island.

    Everything Else Fabulous  --  Inspire

    Clean Water and the Issue of Single Use Plastic

    Traveling Issues I Want to Address

    Location: Mauritius

    Have you turned on your tap today and had a quick drink of pure delicious water? Do you spend your days thinking about clean water and the issue of single use plastic?

    I can count on both hands how many countries and regions we have visited where we can safely drink the tap water; New Zealand, Japan, most of Western Europe, most of the USA, Canada, Scandinavia.

    Even here in Mauritius, a fairly progressive and well run welfare state country, visitors are advised not to drink unfiltered tap water. Even though the locals drink it, a visitor will likely have issues due to microorganisms that could cause diarrhea if you don’t have a tolerance built up.

    Plastic Water bottle

    Water borne illnesses can cause a lot of trouble for travelers, including some serious and potentially fatal diseases. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Cholera, Giardias are some of the serious diseases that are transferred to humans through water. So thinking about clean water and the issue of single use plastic is something that occupies my mind a great deal.

    Unfortunately you should avoid tap water in all of Africa, South America, most of Asia and Eastern Europe, according to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC).

    We always research this issue before arrival and then on arrival reiterate the question of tap water with locals we can trust. Even if the question of water purity is a bit on the fence, we always side with safety first. We have both experienced the results of extreme dehydration and diarrhea and that’s not fun for anybody.

    Drinking water in plastic jugs

    And so what to do? Here in Mauritius like so many other countries, there is but one answer – bottled water.

    As a full-time traveler who REALLY wants to make less of an environmental impact and leave as small of a footprint as possible, the issue of water confounds me.

    We have yet to purchase and carry a filtration system with us, but I think we will be doing that soon, because we are really conflicted about the single-use plastic. We have two reusable water bottles that we fill frequently with filtered water, but it still calls for us to use plastic bottles way more often than I am comfortable with.

    water filter in kitchen
    The water filtration unit on the counter left of the sink in Langkawi Malaysia

    Here in Mauritius we are purchasing large plastic bottles of water at the grocery store and using it for washing all our fruits and vegetables, making coffee, drinking and brushing our teeth. The good news here on Mauritius is they have a well organized system for plastic bottle recycling. Strategically placed (and loyally used by locals and visitors alike) plastic bottle recycling stations are found around the island. We have seen very little trash here. As a side note they also have a glass bottle deposit system.

    We have been really excited to find some countries recently making a huge effort in this area. For instance in Antigua Guatemala the city has instigated a system of clay filtered water stations throughout the city. Free for public use. We also had a clay system filter in our Antigua Airbnb.

    clay water filter
    Clay filtration system in corner of Antigua Airbnb

    Our hotel on Inle Lake (Myanmar Treasure Resort) installed a water refill station for guests while we were staying there. As soon as that was installed we began using it several times a day, even though housekeeping continued to stock our room with single-use plastic water bottles.

    Our Airbnb in Cenang Beach Langkawi Malaysia had a wonderful filtration system hooked up to the tap in the kitchen. All water was run through the filtrataion system and we did not need to purchase any bottled water during our month there.

    plastic recycling station
    Plastic recycling in Mauritius

    In Hua Hin Thailand you could purchase a large five gallon jug of water, then refill it over and over again at a station on the sidewalk near the store for about .25 cents (USD).

    Yet in other places beaches are littered with plastic (Thailand, Vietnam) and children play in piles of plastic trash (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia), and locals burn plastic along side the road (Kenya).

    plastic recycling station
    Plastic recycling in Mauritius

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on water filtration options for travelers, and I think I am leaning towards the Steripen, although there are many versions available. We will be adding this to our collection of things we don’t leave home with soon…and I regret we haven’t done so yet. Here is a blog with great information about this.

    Meanwhile, more than half the world doesn’t have good, clean drinking water, while others never think twice about the availability of safe and abundant water to quench our thirst and go about our daily tasks.

    It’s one of a copious number of things our planet is lacking for the health and welfare of the people of the world.

    Do you use a travel water filter? I’d love to hear your comments about what you like and why.

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