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    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
    Europe Travel  --  Inspire

    The Story of Easter in Cyprus

    Pascha in Orthodox Cyprus

    Easter in Cyprus

    Location: Cyprus

    It’s Orthodox Good Friday here in Cyprus…the start of a four-day holiday, the biggest holiday of the year – one week later than other Easter Celebrations. But not this year. Yes the dates are still the same, but the celebrations have all been called off. In 2020 the story of Easter in Cyprus is on pause.

    The President of Cyprus has declared the island people will celebrate a “postponed” Pascha in May. Let’s all hope it will happen. As Cyprus continues it’s lockdown, we all hold our breath and wait.

    Cyprus Easter Bon Fire
    Bon Fires are an Easter Tradition

    It’s disappointing not to be able to witness the faithful on this day here in Cyprus, a place I am beginning to feel is my home. Last April we were flabbergasted at the spectacle of Semana Santa in Antigua Guatemala…one of the most wonderful things I have every experienced. I have no doubt the Orthodox Easter Celebration would be just as amazing. Perhaps we will still be here in May when and if it happens.

    Cyprus Easter Lamb
    Lambs are a symbol of Pascha

    Meanwhile I’ve been in touch with the local website called Choose Cyprus and they have agreed to let me share this amazing blog that describes the story of Easter in Cyprus and how the people come together in their communities each Pascha.

    I hope you can take the time to read it in the link below.

    https://www.chooseyourcyprus.com/easter-customs-of-cyprus.html

    Cyprus Easter Story

    Kalo Pascha.

    καλό Πάσχα
    
    Happy Easter.
    Easter in Cyprus
    Easter in Cyprus
    Cyprus Easter
    Inspire

    Message From Cyprus Edition Five

    Blessings, Grief and Goals

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    The Numbers

    Day 34 on Cyprus – Day 30 in Quarantine/Lockdown

    April 11 th marked seven months since we left the USA

    Cyprus Virus Cases as of today 620 – Deaths 13

    See below for latest news and developments from the island under lockdown.

    Blessings

    It’s Easter Sunday and I’m determined to count my blessings all day…and especially in this message before I move on to the other details of our lockdown life. There are many blessings and I remind myself this when I am falling down the rabbit hole of too much news, too much worry and too much social media. I am blessed;

    • I’m healthy and safe
    • Although I know some people with the virus, they are all acquaintances of acquaintances and so far none of my family or close circle of friends have been afflicted. That I know of.
    • My husband is with me
    • I can talk to my family and friends regularly
    • Cyprus is beautiful
    • Our villa and hosts have been exceptional
    • I have been to 110 countries and if I never get to travel again, well I have been to 110 countries and I am blessed.

    It may be Easter in most of the world, but it’s not Easter here in Cyprus. We actually get to celebrate Easter twice. Small blessing. Today we celebrate on the day most of the Christian world celebrates and next Sunday the Orthodox Easter is celebrated. It’s something to look forward to, although we won’t leave the house for either of these holidays. Blessings.

    Easter Blessings
    Easter Blessings

    Grief Becomes Goals

    Like a big heavy wet blanket, grief is oppressive as it lays on our lives. I’m aware how many people have been feeling this way, and I have too. We are grieving for our past lives and for things familiar. Recognizing what this emotion is is definitely the healthiest step we can make, and recognizing the chapters and long road we face ahead is important.

    On my run this morning I was remembering my personal battle of grief when my brother died. I was highly functioning for months following his death, handling all the gruesome details of my brother’s sudden death, pushing my grief away. There was a very poignant moment for me, when, feeling sorry for myself I was thinking how much I wanted things to just go back to normal. Normal.

    What is normal after a loss, tragedy, crisis? It was that moment that I instinctively knew the answer to one of life’s most difficult questions. There never will be a normal of old. It’s gone, just like yesterday and two minutes ago. Can’t get it back. A new normal develops…and we gradually accept and live in it.

    I think I’m making positive steps towards the new normal, as I have found myself much more engaged in trying to keep busy and definitely looking at what life will look like going forward. Blessings.

    Goals
    Keepimg Busy

    Healthy Body and Mind

    The movie Wall-E keeps running through my mind, where the human race needs to leave planet earth to let it heal. Remember? And they all live on some kind of Starship Enterprise, getting fat, and lazy and stupid.

    Oh dear.

    I am still finding it difficult to focus on reading…of all things. I should be devouring books, but I’m not. But I have found something else to take my mind off of the bad news. I’ve never allowed myself the time to listen to podcasts, take webinars, or sign up for classes on line. This past week I have done all of those things. And I have learned so much and it feels great.

    Most of the learning I’m doing online is geared towards this blog (although I snuk in a cooking class)…how might this blog look in the months and years ahead with the changes in travel? How can I keep it viable and interesting, inspiring and fun? I took a class about Pinterest and Tailwind and am considering doing an online Tailwind consulting. Tailwind has always baffled me so I kind of ignore it. I also took a wonderful webinar about Instagram and learned some fun new things. Additionally I took a live online class with other bloggers about search engine optimization and affiliate options for bloggers. BTW check out my new and improved Pinterest account here. It’s pretty.

    These are all things I never paid much attention to…but now I am learning and finding it really fascinating. Keeping my mind open to learning. I’m doing yoga and have a new app for that too and I’ve begun training for a half marathon. No Wall-E for this girl. Blessings.

    Hiking on Mauritius
    Keeping Positive

    Latest Cyprus News

    A lot of things happened this week on the island. First, the stay home lockdown has been extended to April 30 th, same as the USA. Easter has been “postponed” until May, as the government tries to get the Church to agree to not hold Easter services. A big task in this very religious country.

    We still need to ask permission to leave the house, which we do via text. We went to the grocery store this week, and were stopped by the police at a road block. We had to show our “permission” to be out, and then we were flagged through. If we didn’t have that authorization, we would each be fined $300. Thousands of citations have been given over the past few weeks and one man has been arrested for some kind of fake SMS scheme he was running.

    There was a flight that left Cyprus this week to Stockholm. We considered taking it, but decided against it. We would have needed to stay the night in Stockholm, take a second flight to London, stay the night in London and then take a third flight to Seattle. This did not seem like a healthy or safe scenario so we decided to wait.

    We received a phone call from the Embassy checking on us. They were trying to determine the level of “need” each American has. This is good, the most interest they have shown in our welfare. We are aware that there are many people who have much more urgent reasons to get back to the USA (jobs, kids etc) than we do. We are also aware of some cases where people are running out of money and need to get out. We do not fall into those categories. We continue to be safe and comfortable. Blessings.

    You may have seen the interview that I did with Q13 News in Seattle this week. It was fun to tell our story, even if they did pronounce my name wrong. It’s okay – not the first time I’ve been called Loud. 🙂

    In our original itinerary we would have been touring the Caucasus right now; Armenia. Georgia and Azerbaijan. But we aren’t so no point in dwelling on it. It’s the new normal.

    Still waiting for Airbnb to make it right by us. Flights we had in May have now all been canceled. Unfortunately they are giving credit not cash. Ugh.

    My gut tells me we will be here until May…assuming the airport opens in early May. At that time we will determine a plan of action. But until then, we will certainly consider any possible flight that comes available, but more likely we will spend our days here, waiting like the rest of the world. Blessings.

    Stay safe my friends. Be good to each other. Happy Easter.

    Cyprus Lockdown
    Food & Drink  --  Inspire

    My Favorite Coffee Around the World

    Stop and Smell the Coffee

    Location: Around the World

    Lucky am I that I have tasted coffee all over the world, in fact, in 110 countries. Wow that is a lot of countries and a lot of coffee. I do love coffee and although there has been many countries where the coffee was downright lousy or non-existent, luckily there have been many countries where it was delicious and abundant.

    Enjoying Cyprus coffee

    Cyprus

    We are currently hunkered down on the island of Cyprus, where coffee rules. Cypriot coffee is much like the coffee of Turkey or Greece, and is usually made in a Cezva, a metal cooker with a long handle and a pouring lip. The coffee in Cyprus is arabica coffee and is ground so fine it is almost like a powder. Traditionally cooked in sand over an open fire, many traditional houses will still make the coffee in a machine that uses sand very hot, then place the Cezva into the sand and bring the coffee to boil twice.

    I had never seen coffee made in this manner and it was something fun and new to see.

    Brewing over the hot sand

    Cyprus is another of a long list of countries who know how to make good coffee, even though they don’t grow their own beans. Many countries with the best coffee don’t grow beans. It’s all in the way it’s prepared.

    So I thought today I would share with you all my favorite coffee around the world, in addition to Cyprus. Some of the worlds best and most delicious. Whatever you call it; java, joe, mud, cuppa, brew, cafe, octane, rocket fuel or juice – here is my favorite coffee around the world.

    Coffee in France
    Espresso in France 2007

    France

    I visited France in 2007 and despite the Starbucks phenom in the USA, France was the place I had my first and most memorable cup of real good espresso. And I didn’t have just one. I drank so many cups of espresso during my ten day visit to Paris and northern France. I learned how much I love a deep, dark rich cup and I have loved it ever since.

    Italian coffee
    My husband enjoying coffee in Italy

    Italy

    Most people think of espresso as Italian, and certainly they are credited with the invention of the espresso machine. I loved this amazing coffee here as well, and was a bit confused by the social etiquette surrounding your morning coffee. Most baristas were kind and assisted this silly American.

    Ethiopian coffee
    Ethiopian woman preparing the coffee

    Ethiopia

    My 2008 trip to Ethiopia remains one of the highlights of my travel life, and learning the complicated process the Ethiopia Coffee ceremony encompasses is one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Ethiopians strongly claim their country as the birthplace of coffee, and they take the ceremony of coffee very seriously. You can’t be in a hurry for your morning cuppa here…but it is very much worth the wait.

    Zanzibar Coffee

    Zanzibar

    The beautiful island country of Zanzibar (actually a self-governing island of Tanzania) has many coffee plantations as well as beautiful and interesting spice plantations. On a tour of one of these plantations we learned a lot about the coffee culture of Zanzibar and enjoyed drinking the rich dark brew at Zanzibar Coffee next to our hotel.

    Moroccan Coffee
    Coffee at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca

    Morocco

    There are so many things I love about Morocco, including the food, and the coffee is high up on that list of favorite things. We drank it in all parts of the country and it was rich and delicious no matter where we were. Moroccans could be found drinking it morning and night, but for me I had to stick to the morning, or I would have been awake all night long.

    Greek Coffee
    Coffee in Greece

    Greece

    Another country that really knows how to do coffee is Greece. Like other European countries coffee often comes with a “biscuit” for dipping, and a cup of beautiful dark coffee in the afternoon was my favorite mid-day treat.

    Breakfast in Qatar

    Qatar

    This photo does not do justice to the coffee we had in Qatar. We transited through Qatar and spent only one night, and enjoyed on the morning of our departure what I can say is hands down the best breakfast I have ever eaten…including a pot of delicious brewed dark coffee.

    Vietnam Coffee
    Almost always served in a glass cup in Vietnam

    Vietnam

    We spent a month in Vietnam and really grew to love the coffee there. Often served with sweet milk, but you could order it without, the local coffee was almost always served in a clear glass cup without a handle.

    Guatemalan Coffee
    Coffee in Guatemala

    Guatemala

    When we returned home after our month in Guatemala we brought with us six pounds of coffee…now one of my favorite coffee around the world. The production of coffee is big in many Central American countries, but of all the countries we visited we liked Guatemalan coffee the best.

    Vietnam Coffee
    A special latte made to look like me in Vietnam

    So there you have it, my favorite coffee around the world. I can’t wait to continue my coffee culture research when we can start traveling again and continue our ’round the world travel. Coffee makes me happy!

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    Inspire  --  Message From Cyprus Lockdown

    Message from Cyprus

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    Cyprus Day 19. Lockdown Day 5.

    Message from Cyprus Edition Two

    Note – this will now be a regular update, possibly weekly, in an effort to answer so many questions we are getting and the extreme fluid situation. Love you all.

    Cyprus Musings – things are happening quickly now and all indications from where I sit is the world is in this for a very long haul. We are now receiving notices of flight cancellations we have in the future. We are seeing a lot of activity and messages from the US State Department and embassies we have in our itinerary in the months ahead. We received a notice from the embassy of Cyprus that they are trying to secure a flight for US Citizens. I am normally very decisive but now vacillate over this issue because reports here say Cyprus is nearing its peak in virus cases (approaching 200 cases) and I feel safe here. I feel any movement right now, particularly to the USA; on planes; through airports; with other humans; puts us at high risk. But I also feel we might be in Cyprus for months….three, six, more if we don’t take the last plane out. What to do?

    Getting home would be a comfort…but if I get sick trying to get there it will create a burden for ourselves and those we love. But if we stay in Cyprus we are useless to my family if they need us. And if we get sick here it could be a financial nightmare (yes we have insurance but it still could be costly). 

    Mostly I’m no longer worried about the loss of travel money. It’s irrelevant at this point. 

    When I compare the governments responses between the USA and Cyprus starting when we arrived here 19 days ago I am convinced Cyprus’ quick, decisive and egalitarian approach has saved lives, even though the tight restrictions are causing strife. Nineteen days since we arrived in Cyprus and the USA is still chatting about what to do and state by state mandates are clearly not effective enough for a country the size of the USA. The freedom of assembly will kill us…

    Although surreal, watching the world melt down from here is like a giant movie screen. A horror film. With no end in sight and real people at risk. Any one read Station Eleven? It’s happening.

    Time to think long term my friends…it’s gonna be a long long time until we have anything resembling the old normalcy. Definitely not Easter. Acceptance of the new normal is the healthiest thing we can do now. It’s okay to grieve. But also prepare. Stay safe. Breathe. Don’t stick your head in the sand…we can be kind and compassionate and try to stay positive while distancing and being ready for a long journey.

    We wait.

    Read Cyprus Message Edition One Here.

    Canva

    Inspire  --  Message From Cyprus Lockdown

    My Fab Fifties Life on Cyprus Under Quarantine

    Location: Argaka Cyprus

    Message from Cyprus Edition One

    As I post this blog we have been self-quarantined on Cyprus for a week. Every day brings a new development. We are currently comfortable and healthy but unsure of how or if our world journey will continue. So for today I thought I would tell you a bit about life on Cyprus under quarantine.

    Some Background

    Some of you who follow my personal Facebook page might remember this post I made on January 23rd. I said “when people ask me if travel scares me it’s things like this (Corona) that scare me more than terrorism or crime. Luckily we aren’t flying for three more weeks but still its the kind of thing that can explode so quickly…”

    That was on January 23rd two months ago and we were in Mauritius. As soon as I read the first story about Wuhan I felt a strong foreboding. But also thought to myself that we had two months in Africa and it would possibly be gone by the time we headed towards Europe.

    Covid-19
    Wearing a mask on our flight out of Mauritius

    But the nagging in the back of my mind made me go to the pharmacy in Mauritius and buy some face masks. The pharmacists asked me if we were going to China? Even he wasn’t thinking about it spreading outside of Asia.

    It was late January when the first case was diagnosed in Washington State USA. But the US government did not react.

    Covid-19
    Carefree in Victoria Falls

    Fast Forward Late February

    We were carefree in Victoria Falls and in Uganda too as we continued with our planned itinerary. It wasn’t until our arrival in Rwanda on February 27th that we began to see significant changes in airports and hotels (as a matter of fact, Rwanda had the coolest hi-tech system in place for screening). This is when I began taking very strong measures such as washing hands more frequently, not touching railings or elevator buttons and scrubbing things in our room like remote controls and door knobs. I’ve always washed down my airplane space and now we began using a bleach product everywhere we go.

    Covid-19
    Still touching people in Rwanda

    In Kigali Rwanda we bought hand-sanitizer and more face masks, despite now hearing that face masks weren’t helpful. I still wanted to have some.

    By this point the virus was spreading in the USA and becoming epidemic in my home state of Washington but Trump continued to deny that it was a legitimate issue or take measures to protect his citizens or the US economy. He was not listening to Advisor’s and making statements like this one – “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”. As we watched from afar the virus take over entire countries we were flabbergasted at the lack of concern from the US President.

    Worries about family back home

    People I know back home were split over the issue and not surprisingly along party lines. One faction thinking it was all getting blown out of proportion (and actually blaming Democrats for causing the outbreak to take the focus away from the election) while the other faction was beginning to hoard food, toilet paper and scream that something needed to be done.

    Because of the malaria meds we took all through Africa I was suffering with some tummy issues and I was really worried about being flagged on the arrival in Israel since I wasn’t feeling 100%.

    Israel

    We touched down in Israel on March 4th and absolutely breezed through the airport. We were totally shocked that Israel’s entry was easier than Rwanda or Botswana and Israel seemed to not be doing ANYTHING to check visitors arriving in Tel Aviv. It sounded just like what was happening in the USA. Head in the sand. I was a bit disconcerted.

    Covid-19
    Unknowingly, this was our final dinner in Israel after only five days

    We enjoyed our first few days in Israel but on day four we began hearing that they may close the border to tourists and our planned day trip with a local tour company to Palestine was cancelled when Palestine closed its borders.

    We assumed we would be fine since we had arrived in Israel before the border closed, but when we woke up on day six (March 10), regular alerts we receive from the US State Department told us anyone who had arrived in the past week would be quarantined for at least two weeks from date of entry. Spot checks were going to be made and we would need to prove we had a place to stay for a 14-day quarantine. Since our planned itinerary in Israel did not include us staying in one place for 14 days we did not have lodging secured. We made a spur of the moment decision that it would be in our best interest to leave the country while the airport was open and we still could. We made this decision at 8:45 am and were on a flight to Cyprus at 1:45 pm. Never in our nearly four years of travel have we changed our plans so drastically. It was a stressful and heartbreaking decision but in hindsight the right one.

    Cyprus

    Before leaving Israel we had contacted the Airbnb in Cyprus to see if it might be available early. It was and they welcomed us 15 days early on March 10th. It’s a beautiful spot and perfect for a long stay. We currently have it booked until April 7th.

    Covid-19
    Cooking Class in Cyprus

    When we arrived in Cyprus ten days ago there were only three cases of Covid-19. We went to the grocery store, the pharmacy and stopped at a sporting goods store to buy sweatshirts. We had coffee in a coffee shop and visited the butcher. Our Airbnb host stopped by with cookies and citrus. Everything seemed normal and no one was panicking. We even did a cooking class and a winery tour and spent one day hiking.

    Covid-19
    Hiking in Cyprus

    But on the evening of March 15th we learned that Cyprus was limiting inbound flights and incoming tourists until April 10th. Schools were closing too and two of the island’s large hotels were closing. The island now had a total of 20 cases, all but one related to incoming visitors. Cyprus is a popular direct flight from London and many British expats live here.

    Covid-19
    Sunset in Cyprus

    This news also included the mandate that any visitor already on the island should self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of entry. So on March 15th we began a self-quarantine. We will stay quarantined until March 24th. For us that means we will still do our morning run, where we have no contact with other people, but spend the rest of the day at our villa.

    BUT THEN, on the morning of the 16th it was announced the island was closing all restaurants, hotels, malls, museums, archeology sights until April 30th. Even one hospital was closed for 48 hours for sanitizing. Cases now up to 39.

    We now realized that at the end of our 14-day quarantine, we still might not be able to enjoy the the sites of Cyprus because everything will be closed. But, it’s out of our hands.

    On March 17th they began turning away people, even residents, arriving on flights unless they had a medical statement of their wellness. And those who were allowed in, are going into a mandatory GOVERNMENT LOCATION quarantine. That’s big…we did not want to be in a government location quarantine.

    Today, March 20 th a big announcement. ALL FLIGHTS are to be terminated in and out of Cyprus beginning Sunday. All flights. Wowza. Even flights for Cypriots trying to return home. There is rumor of a possible curfew. Meanwhile today the US government declared a Level 4 Travel Advisory. Better late than never I guess. Hopefully the idiots partying in the Florida beaches aren’t carriers.

    Cyprus has very quickly, without a lot of politicizing, created a comprehensive economic assistance plan to help it’s citizens get through this. It’s impressive and quit thorough including such things as unemployment, childcare and elder care. I am impressed with their foresight and lack of political bickering.

    As of March 20th, Cyprus now has 81 cases of Covid-19. In the ten days we have been here it’s gone from 3 to 81, an exponential growth.

    Grocery stores remain open, but only a dozen people allowed in at a time. We went yesterday and were presented with hand sanitizer and rubber gloves before entering the store.

    So every day something new and foreboding.

    So Now What?

    So now what? I have no idea. Our next flight booked was to Ukraine on April 7th. But even if Cyprus reopens its airport by then, Ukraine’s borders are closed. Beyond that we are supposed to be in Malta in late April and May. As of today Malta’s borders remain open but anyone entering must self-quarantine for 14 days. No doubt that too will change shortly.

    Covid-19
    Quarantined breakfast in Cyprus

    We were planning to attend a wedding in France in late June and then head to the USA for a six month visit. Even if we forego France we are currently unable to get a flight home. We have a lot of money at stake, with little help from airlines or lodgings as far as refunds so far. We did get a refund from Airbnb for our place in Jerusalem, but lost the money for the other hotels and flight changes in Israel. We also got a full refund from our Kiev hotel after we contacted them with a personal email. We are currently waiting to hear from Ukraine airlines.

    Of course our health is more important than the money, but we actually might be safer staying put than going to the USA. And we honestly might not be able to get a flight for an indefinite amount of time. We just don’t know.

    Our world tour

    We feel we can’t make a decision now until the end of March at the earliest, when several countries who closed their borders on March 14th will make a decision as to what’s next. If borders and airports remain closed we may be able to get flight refunds or at least credit. Or we may have to cough up (no pun intended) the money to get back to the USA. Currently a flight from Cyprus through London to the USA will cost us nearly $2000 per person – that is if the Cyprus airport reopens…and if any flights to the USA are running.

    My Biggest Fears

    My biggest fear is not about coming down with the virus; although we are in our sixties we are healthy and strong. My biggest fear is the economy and how this might effect jobs and lives of people I care about back home. Already my friends and family who own small businesses and restaurants are in dire straits. Even since I began writing this blog several days ago the changing economic impact to the USA seems catastrophic. Frightening.

    Covid-19
    This is where we are

    My biggest fear is that my father (age 87 Alzheimer patient), my mom (age 81) and step-day (age 90 with many medical complications) and my mother-in-law (healthy but age 86) will get the virus. And of course I’m very fearful for my adult sons.

    My biggest fear is this thing will go on for months…years? And we may get trapped indefinitely.

    I am in no way a “sky is falling” kind of person. I am definitely “look at the bright side” girl. In fact I have been criticized in my life as a “Pollyanna” by people with a less positive outlook.

    HOWEVER I am also a realist and see this as a long-term scenario. And that is why the things I listed above scare me.

    Meanwhile

    Meanwhile we have no choice really but to wait and watch at least until mid April. Hopefully by then we will be armed with enough information to move forward in one way or another. There are few other options. The only silver lining is the weather here in Cyprus is finally beginning to warm up a bit.

    I’d love your comments on the blog about your situation wherever you are. I am genuinely concerned for each of you and I am thinking of all of you and sending love and best wishes. God speed.

    Not in my wildest dreams. Wow.

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    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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