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Five Days

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Senegal – What I Experienced in My Short Visit

    Why Senegal? I’m not exactly sure why, except I had heard it was one of the more progressive nations on the African continent. Having visited Burkina Faso in West Africa as well as several other nations in North, South and East Africa, I was curious about Senegal. It was an easy hop from Morocco where we had been to attend a wedding, so why not? We spent five days. Senegal – What I Experienced in My Short Visit.

    Dakar

    The country of Senegal is home to 16 million people, and more than three million live in Dakar. Dakar, though more cosmopolitan than many African cities, is fraught with traffic and air pollution. Although a brand new international airport opened last year, other infrastructure is lacking and traffic is a mess. An incredible amount of construction of apartments and condominiums is going on. Our guide told us these are all privately funded and very expensive so not intended for the local people, who on average earn about $600 a month.

    Presidential House Dakar
    Dakar Beach

    I don’t pretend to understand the government in Senegal (see Wikipedia on Senegal here), but from my brief observations there seems to be a disconnect between leadership and the people. Of course this is not uncommon in many nations, and especially developing countries. Although Senegal has never had a civil war or a coup, it’s not hard to imagine a ticking time bomb. During our visit teachers were on strike and had been on strike for several months. School children have nothing to occupy their days and…trouble ensues. Bored teenagers with no focus are the same around the world. Unemployment is 40%. Young men out of work wander aimlessly looking for fun and trouble.

    How will this end? It was something on my mind as I pondered Senegal – What I Experienced in My Short Visit.

    Goree Island

    We hired a guide from Senegal Odyssey Tours to help us explore the area. On our second day, Omour met us at our hotel and we spent a couple hours in the morning touring the city of Dakar, seeing colonial sites (Senegal was a French colony until 1960), and learning some history.

    Next we headed to Goree Island via ferry, the most significant site in Dakar as far as history. The Portuguese arrived in the 1400’s to Goree and quickly secured it due to it’s strategic location for protection.

    Goree Island Cell
    The door of no return where slaves loaded ships
    Slave block where slaves were bought and sold
    Goree Island

    But in 1536 the Portuguese launched the slave trade, realizing the immense profitability awaiting them by trading human beings rather than goods. For the next 312 years, more than 20 million African people – men, women and children – were brutally captured, detained, raped, beaten, imprisoned and THEN loaded by the hundreds on tiny ships and sailed off to points west. Many would die before arriving. Many would survive but never see their families or children again.

    Horrific.

    Goree Island tells this story for the visitor by allowing visitors to see and feel the tiny prisons. Goree Island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. Learn more here.

    Kayar

    We took a day off between tours and just relaxed and did some catch up work on the computer, as well as a short walk around our neighborhood of Almadies near our hotel called La Residence. This neighborhood is “upscale” and home to several embassies including the US Embassy.

    But then the next day bright and early Omour was there to pick us up again as we began the nearly two hour drive to the fishing village of Kayar. The drive was long and slow and Senegal was experiencing a significant desert dust storm and I was wondering if this would be worth it. Oh yes it was.

    Kayar
    Kayar
    Kayar
    Kayar

    Kayar was an astonishing site, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is the most important fishing village in Senegal and we luckily arrived at the height of the morning catch frenzy. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Hundreds of boats. Thousands of people. Millions of fish. Highly competitive, a bit frantic and a bit frightening. The catch of the day included tuna, snapper, herring and barracuda. Fish were being pulled out of the boats by the thousands, no bad smell as they were completely fresh. Some of the fish is used in payment to the workers, some goes to local regional restaurants while much of it is frozen for the Asian market.

    Fascinating.

    Kayar

    Lac Rose

    I had heard about the Pink Lake, but Omour didn’t want me to be disappointed so he made sure I understood the lake was not always pink. In fact the pink/rose color, which is created by algae, is most prominent on clear sunny days. And honestly due to the air pollution and sand pollution a clear sunny day is rare.

    On arrival we found more of a dirty brown lake, in some places a blood red color. We took a small boat out to see the salt being collected. Salt mining in the lake is what most the local people do for a living in this region. We learned that only men do the salt collecting because it was determined a few years ago that women were having miscarriages from the salt.

    Lac Rose
    Salt harvest Lac Rose

    The men cover themselves in Shea butter and only spend four hours in the four foot deep water. Here they scoop the salt from the bottom with a shovel, into a basket they hold down with their feet. Then they dump the heavy load into a boat. The salt can be a grey color, but once exposed to the sun it turns white.

    Dune Buggy Lac Rose

    Until 1978 this spot was the culmination point of the Paris to Dakar car rally. We took a dune buggy ride to see some of what remains of that route, and to see the crashing Atlantic ocean as it breaks onto Senegal’s western shores.

    Senegal – What I Experienced in My Short Visit

    Senegal is one of the most developed African nations and I hope for the people here who need jobs and education to help catapult them forward. There is so much untapped human potential. I hope the government and the people can make it happen. I am glad I came. Thank you for reading my post Senegal – What I Experienced in My Short Visit.

    Read last week’s post Morocco Three Day Tour Marrakesh to Fez

    Next week I’ll share about Malta.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    Africa & The Middle East Travel

    Morocco Three Day Tour Marrakesh to Fez

    Amazing Morocco

    It’s my second visit to the amazing country of Morocco, one of my favorite countries in the world. When I visited five years ago (pre-pandamit) we did a five day guided tour with desert camel night from Fez to Marrakesh. We loved it. This time, we only had three days available but we found a wonderful company Marrakesh Camel Trips who created an amazing Morocco Three Day Tour Marrakesh to Fez.

    Marrakesh

    Our quick visit to Marrakesh was really fun, especially the Marrakesh Food Tour we did on our second night. I love this city, and wished for more time, but alas our tour began early in the morning. Our guide Lhoucine came all the way to our hidden Riad and met us right at the door, assisting with our luggage and taking us to his vehicle.

    Marrakesh

    Day One

    Because we only had three days (instead of the five for the same route when we did this before), we spent a lot of time in the car. But it’s a beautiful country and there is a lot of area between sites. The car we were in was comfortable and had plenty of space for the four of us and our luggage. We stopped multiple times to enjoy the remarkable views and scenery before arriving at the ancient city of Ksar Ait Ben Haddou.

    Scenic views
    Ancient Villages

    Ksar Ait Ben Haddou

    This amazing and ancient Moroccan village is one of my favorite things in all of Morocco. I highly recommend you visit here, even if you aren’t on a tour. It’s astonishing. Ksar Aït Benhaddou is a historic ksar (loosely translates to castle) along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakesh in Morocco. It is considered a great example of Moroccan earthen clay architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Morocco is home to nine UNESCO sites…Ait Ben Haddou is one of the amazing ones.

    Ait Ben Haddou
    Our guide who was raised in Ait Ben Haddou
    Our family at Ait Ben Haddou

    Ouarzazate

    This beautiful region of the Berber people is both ancient and modern. We made a brief stop to learn about the industry here of rose agriculture and rose oil and other rose products. During the rose season (now) people stand on the side of the road and give visitors wreaths of roses.

    Rose wreath
    Making Rose Oil

    It had been a long day of driving and we headed to our hotel called the Sultan Dades near Ourazazate where we had very comfortable rooms with a beautiful view and a great meal too.

    Sultan Dades
    Chicken and lemon tajine

    Day Two

    This day will end with a sunset camel ride into a desert camp. But first we have a whole lot to see and do as our guide Lhoucine expertly takes us through this region. First, he has a special surprise for us. We go off road looking for nomads who live in caves. Not something I’ve ever done. Unfortunately nobody was home…LOL. Seriously, their campfire was still warm. Out tending the goats I guess. It was fun to see where they live during certain times of the year.

    Nomad Cave
    Nomad cave

    Todras Canyon

    This amazing long narrow canyon is a must stop on your Morocco tour. I was here five years ago in the winter and it was chilly. But on this day my family and I had a lovely walk in the warm morning. You can stop and have a Moroccan tea and just sit enjoying the beauty of this unique geography.

    Todras Canyon
    Women with donkeys, Todras Canyon
    Todras Canyon

    Lhoucine took us on a little hike up the side of the Todras Canyon to see some more nomad caves and the view was great. Moving on we stopped at a Fossil museum and shop where we learned about how this entire region used to be under the ocean.

    Hiking up to caves
    Hard to imagine Morocco under water…

    Erg Chebbi

    After a few hours drive, stop for lunch and a few other sites, we ended up in the area known as Erg Chebbi. We are now near the place we will ride the camels, Merzouga, but first we will visit an amazing market. I love it when I can go to a local market, with a local. There was nothing touristy about this market. And this is the hometown of our guide Lhoucine. He knew everyone. It was a wonderful way to experience an authentic Moroccan Market.

    Amazing Moroccan spices
    Goats for sale

    Merzouga

    When I did the overnight camel ride before, I thought it was never going to happen again. I was a little worried I would be disappointed on my second trip. No need to worry. The second time was even better than the first. It was a beautiful evening, I was with my family AND our camp was outstanding.

    First, Lhoucine made sure we stopped to get our Berber scarfs for the camel ride, before meeting our camels.

    The family in our Berber scarfs. This is the Berber flag.
    Meeting my camel. Hello.

    Luxury Desert Camp

    The camel ride takes about two hours, which includes a stop to watch the sunset. It’s a remarkable experience, stunning scenery in it’s simplicity. A bit magical. I think the photos describe it best.

    That’s the Lund Family. Looks like our next Christmas card perhaps?
    That’s me – the hubs took this photo from a top an adjacent dune
    Off we go
    A lucky shot – took this over my shoulder while I was on my camel moving. Beautiful.

    Arriving in camp I was overjoyed at how much nicer it was than the rough camp we stayed in before. The accommodations were comfortable, there was electricity and wifi and both breakfast and dinner were great. The evening was spent with music around the campfire before we all retired for a good night’s sleep.

    Our beautiful tent with bathroom!
    Lamb and prune tajine
    Welcome cuppa first thing

    Day Three

    We had the option of either riding the camels back or having Lhoucine come out in the 4WD and pick us up in the morning. We chose to do the 4WD because we wanted to arrive in Fez in time to meet our friends for dinner. So after breakfast and lots of good Moroccan coffee, we began our final day, a very long drive to Fez.

    Lhoucine made sure we stopped to enjoy as many panoramic views as possible, to break up the long day in the car. As a very special treat, we stopped in the Atlas Mountains at a beautiful pine tree park where Lhoucine made us Berber tea over an open fire and we enjoyed Berber Pizza. Lhoucine had bought the pizza in the morning and like a magician pulled it out at lunch to enjoy with the hot mint tea. What a nice way to end our amazing tour with our amazing guide.

    Lhoucine making hot tea in the woods
    A local speciality Berber Pizza

    Marrakesh Camel Trips

    A special thank you to our guide Lhoucine and to Marrakesh Camel Trips for taking such good care of us and helping my family experience both the tourist and the hidden sites of Morocco on our journey.

    Our pine tree picnic in the mountains

    Morocco Three Day Tour Marrakesh to Fez

    If you have the time to do this trip in four or five days it would mean not such long days in the car. But it is doable in three days and we enjoyed it so very much. We highly recommend this tour company, who have many different tours, and I hope you too can enjoy Morocco Three Day Tour Marrakesh to Fez someday soon.

    Read last week’s post about our Marrakesh Food Tour here.

    Next week we will share about our visit to Senegal. Meanwhile, we love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you for reading.

    Africa & The Middle East Travel  --  Europe Travel  --  Inspire  --  Island Life  --  North America Travel

    And The Grand Adventure Continues

    Travel is Back for My Fab Fifties Life

    When we went to Iceland in June 2021 I thought travel was back. But then the Greek alphabet started to wreak havoc on our travel life. First Delta hit in the summer and then Omicron almost shut us down when we were in Mexico. That Pandamit refused to loose it’s grip. Now, more than two years since it started, we once again are cautiously dipping our toes into travel with a ten week tour. We are ready and The Grand Adventure Continues.

    And the Grand Adventure Continues (Canva)

    My word of the year for 2022 is caution. And although we always travel with caution, navigating a travel life today requires a great deal more preparation and caution than in the past. Changing rules for testing and entry requirements require constant monitoring. It requires patience. It requires time. And it also requires being a bit of a gambler.

    Off We Go

    So with all that in mind, we have spent the past several months planning, studying the CDC information and reading the US State Department guidelines. We have put hundreds of hours into our preparation to embark on this tour. The destinations listed below each are chosen for a specific reason – personal and cautionary…and the Grand Adventure continues.

    New York City

    New York City (Canva)

    Twice we have canceled a week long winter visit to NYC due to the Pandamit. When we decided to try again for a spring visit, it was because we were headed to Boston for a college reunion. But alas, the college reunion was canceled (sigh). So we added the days we were going to be in Boston to the days we had already booked for New York…giving us a nice long stay of eleven days.

    We have been to New York at least a half a dozen times, but each time has always been only 2-3 days. Having eleven days gives us time to slowly see the city and all it’s fabulous museums, restaurants, neighborhoods and history. We have a full itinerary and are really looking forward to it. April 21-May 2.

    Caribbean

    Caribean
    Antigua (Canva)

    When we first decided to head to the Caribbean after New York the other countries on our itinerary (see below) hadn’t totally opened up. So we decided to head to the turquoise waters of two islands we had never been to before. It’s been a long time since we spent time in the Caribbean and we are looking forward to ten days in Antigua (in an Airbnb with a car) and ten days in Turks & Caicos (a resort with no car). For us it’s incredibly rare that we stay in a resort, so this should be interesting. It’s not a super fancy all-inclusive, but it is nice and we expect it to be very relaxing and within our budget. May 2-May 21

    Morocco

    Morocco
    Morocco (Canva)

    From the Caribbean we fly to Washington DC for a one night stay, where we will also do a Covid test for entry into Morocco. This is also where we will rendezvous with our two adult sons, who are joining us for the Morocco portion of this itinerary. We are off to Morocco to attend a wedding reception of a friend of our family…a party that has been canceled three previous times since the Pandamit hit. Before the wedding in Fes, our family will spend a week touring Morocco. This is my second visit to Morocco and I am really looking forward to seeing this beautiful country again, sharing it with my two adult children and attending a traditional Moroccan wedding. It should be an incredible experience. May 23-May 31.

    Senegal

    Senegal
    Senegal (Canva)

    The West Africa nation of Senegal has been on my list for a long time due to it’s fascinating history, but we have never been able to squeeze it in. But it’s a short flight from Casablanca to Dakar so we will check Senegal off the bucket list. We have a brief visit (five days) and have hired a tour guide for two days to take us to some of the major sites. May 31 – June 5.

    Paris

    Paris France
    Paris (Canva)

    From Senegal we are headed to the island of Malta, but to get to Malta requires a flight and an overnight in Paris. Well Paris is always a good idea, right? Fingers crossed for good weather to spend one full day strolling around my favorite arrondissements of the city of lights and eating everything I can. June 5-6

    Malta

    Malta
    Malta (Canva)

    The next three stops on this tour are three places Covid shut us down in, and we have been counting the days until we could return. So we begin with Malta.

    We were supposed to spend three weeks on Malta in May of 2020…of course that didn’t happen. It’s a destination I have wanted to visit for years. Full of beauty and history and fascinating geography…if you don’t know much about Malta you would probably recognize it from the role it plays in many movies and TV shows including Game of Thrones. We are staying in the historic town of Valletta in an Airbnb and we will not have a car except for one day when we have a car to see the ancient city of M’dina. I’ve booked a food tour and a one day tour to the island of Gozo. The rest of the time we will explore on foot. June 6-15th

    Israel

    Israel
    Israel (Canva)

    In March of 2020 after only five days of our 17 day itinerary in Israel we fled the country to avoid being put into a two week quarantine. We fled to Cyprus (more on that below) and I cried in the car as we drove to the airport. We had seen some amazing sites in Israel, but no where near all, including Jerusalem and Masada. I had waited to visit Israel since I was a child and learned about it from a Girl Scout leader. My heart was broken.

    So let’s try it again. This time we will spend our entire 7 day visit in Jerusalem in an Airbnb. We have a Jerusalem tour one day, another tour to Bethlehem in Palestine one day, and we will rent a car and drive to Masada one day. We also have booked a Shabat dinner with a local family. These are all high on my wishlist. I love the food of this region too, and I can’t wait to eat all of it! June 15 – 22

    Cyprus

    Cyprus
    Cyprus (Canva)

    Dear sweet Cyprus. It holds such a special place in my heart, after we spent two months in lockdown on this gorgeous island. But during that two months we did not see any of the amazing historic sites, enjoy any of it’s stunning beaches or eat in any of it’s amazing restaurants. Covid had everything shut down. We have vowed to return and now we will.

    Unfortunately we only have seven days, but we know exactly what we want to see and do, and we can make it happen. Looking forward to staying in the same Airbnb we were trapped in for two months and we can’t wait to see our hosts who were so kind to us. We also hope to see our friend Leza who we met and spent a day with in a cooking class – the only thing we got to do before we went into lockdown.

    Cyprus is a fascinating tiny country with a disputed border, fantastic food, ancient history (supposedly the birthplace of Aphrodite), mountains and beaches and so much more. Dear sweet Cyprus. We are coming. June 23-30

    Ten Weeks and The Grand Adventure Continues

    This itinerary is busy…much busier than we usually pursue. But we are taking a deep breath and tackling it, because life is short and due to the Pandamit we have some catching up to do! We will arrive back in the USA June 30th for the summer months before we go again.

    We hope you will follow along on this blog and all of our social media sites (Facebook Group, Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram) and of course here on the blog where I hope to have a post almost every Friday.

    Be brave and get out there! Travel is back! And the Grand Adventure continues. Away we go.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See last week’s post Travel Wardrobe for Multiple Climates.

    See this week’s top performing pin here My Favorite Things Ogunquit Maine

    All photos in this post by CANVA

    Asia & Oceana Travel  --  Island Life

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    How to Visit This Beautiful Island Without Breaking the Bank

    Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    Air Tahiti is budget friendly
    Air Tahiti is the island to island option

    Our two month visit to French Polynesia is now into it’s fifth week, and we recently hopped over to Bora Bora for five days. Despite how much we are loving living on the island of Mo’orea, we felt we needed to see what the fuss is all about on Bora Bora. But we travel on a pretty strict budget, so we approached this excursion in a thrifty way. Here are our Bora Bora on a Budget recommendations.

    The island and motus
    Bora Bora

    Why We Travel Budget Friendly

    Because we have designed a life for ourselves that includes long-term travel, staying on budget is critical. The only way we can sustain long term travel on our retired income is to travel inexpensively. Although it looks attractive to spend a night in a $1200 over the water bungalow, we know through experience and research, we can spend twenty nights in our Airbnb on Mo’orea for the same price.

    Blue Bora Bora Budget friendly beach
    Bora Bora

    To some people, a once in a life time visit to an over the water bungalow might be a dream come true, but I would like to convince more people to recognize how traveling in a budget friendly way will give you deep, authentic and meaningful travel experiences. I am living proof of that.

    So, if your goal is that Instagram selfie on an over priced over the water bungalow, then this blog is not for you. Otherwise, please read on…

    When to Travel

    We always try to travel to popular destinations in the low or shoulder season. Our two months in French Polynesia is the low season, also called the rainy season. Although it poured rain for the first four days we were here in mid-January, the weather has been great ever since.

    Bora Bora off season is budget friendly
    Great weather

    This is also one of the reasons we love Hawaii in September and October; no crowds, great rates and good weather. Off peak travel is the way to go when you are on a budget.

    Where to Stay

    We researched, for purposes of this blog, costs at a few of the over the water bungalows on Bora Bora. They range from $800 to more than $2000 a night, depending on the resort, the season and the location.

    Bora Bora has a nice selection of Airbnbs under $200, and if you stay long term you can even find some closer to $100.

    Budget friendly hotels
    Hotel Royal Bora Bora

    We spent four nights at the Royal Bora Bora, a really nice and comfortable hotel in the Matira Beach area on the south part of the main island. We paid $180 per night (off peak) for this property that included a fantastic private beach, pool and breakfast included. Our room was big and clean and comfortable with a nice lanai that overlooked a garden. And the staff was fantastic. We highly recommend this property, which was also within walking distance to a grocery store and four restaurants.

    Breakfast included helps with budget
    Omelet for breakfast at Royal Bora Bora

    Things to Do

    On Land

    Touring the island by land requires a vehicle of some kind. Here are some options for your consideration as you think about Bora Bora on a Budget;

    Guided Private Tour 4WD Land Tour $650

    Guided Group Tour 4WD Half Day $75

    ATV Private Tour $1100

    Avis Rental Car – many options starting at about $120 per day

    Scooter Rental available from many locations including Avis about $40 per day

    Bike our choice. For $17 per person we rented bikes from our hotel and spent half a day riding.

    Budget friendly cycling
    Cycling on Bora Bora

    On Sea

    Getting wet is one of the top things visitors to Bora Bora like to do. Here are some options so you can compare costs;

    Whale Watching (seasonal)$200

    Full Day Snorkle with Lunch $140

    Rent Your Own Boat – multiple options of boats and prices starting at $180 for half day

    Sunset Sail $300

    Snorkle at Public Beach with your own gearour choice. We brought our snorkel set with us that we purchased on Mo’orea for $60 and we have already gotten our money’s worth.

    Self serve snorkeling is budget friendly
    Snorkling at the public beach

    And Way Up High

    Birdseye view of Mo'orea
    Our view from Air Tahiti as we left Mo’orea

    If you want to see it from above…well if you flew here on Air Tahiti, which you probably did, you have already had the best point of view. But for your consideration, here are a few more;

    Parasailing starting at $250 per couple

    Helicopter Tour $200 per person

    Hike to the top of the mountainour choice. There are several hikes on the island, and depending where you are staying many are accessible from resorts and hotels. We enjoyed our hike and it was free!

    Hiking is free and good for you
    On the mountain top

    Things to Eat

    To save money, Airbnb is a great option for the ability to cook your own meals. There are only a handful of grocery stores on the island, the biggest on is a Super U in Vaitape. Other ways to eat on a budget include;

    Hotel with Breakfast included – our choice. The Hotel Royal Bora Bora offered an incredible full breakfast every morning included in our room. It kept us full throughout the day and then we went out to dinner in the evening.

    Take Out food from Grocery and Gas Station

    “Snack” which is French Polynesia Fast Food

    One splurge meal not budget friendly
    We had one delicious dinner out
    And a couple less expensive options.

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    Before visiting the beautiful Polynesian islands take some time to consider what is the most important for you, and create a budget to make it happen. Whatever your budget is, Bora Bora is available to you, with a little pre-planning and prioritizing. Bora Bora on a Budget – enjoy the beautiful South Pacific.

    Sealife spotting can be free
    Stingray

    Thanks for reading Bora Bora on a Budget. We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See our blog about The Flavors of French Polynesia

    See this week’s top performing pin Mo’orea Musings Week One

    Inspire

    What is Diverticulosis

    My Diagnosis, Symptoms, Surgery & Recovery

    Location: USA

    Note – thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers. I am doing well.

    It was six years ago that I ended up in the emergency room due to extreme pain in my abdomen and was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a flareup of the large intestine due to a disease called diverticulosis. The intestine creates pockets that become inflamed. This is different than polyps often discussed in the colon. The pockets occur for reasons unknown, usually in people over 50 years old. Most develop the pockets in the lower left quadrant of the large intestine. Diverticulosis is the name of the disease, and diverticulitis is what the flareups are called. A flareup can happen at any time and no one knows why.

    Some studies have shown obesity as a cause as well as a low fiber diet. Diets in the Western world that are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates create a high number of cases. Usually people who are fit and do physical exercise don’t suffer from this disease. And then there is me.

    My Diagnosis

    Diverticulitis

    The day I was rushed into the emergency room I had spent the entire day in bed unable to move or even get up. I couldn’t even walk. It was a horrible pain and it frightened me. On that day I had no idea what diverticulosis was. I was grateful to get a quick diagnosis and begin to understand some of the things my body was saying to me.

    After diagnosis I realized that I had suffered from at least two, and possibly three diverticulitis flareups in the past. I had powered through those, but the one that sent me to the hospital was the worst.

    Multiple “Episodes” Since

    Over the past six years I have had seven additional attacks (episodes) of diverticulitis. Many of these while I was traveling abroad. An attack puts me to bed, makes me constipated, creates a loss of appetite and makes it difficult to move or even walk. The pain is that extreme – it feels like a knife to the gut, over and over. While traveling I carried Ciproflaxin, an antibiotic, and diagnosed and treated myself when necessary.

    New Information

    Diverticulosis

    This past summer while we are on travel pause in the USA we got a new doctor. He provided me some new insight into this disease and showed a deep concern for my future health. He told me that most people require surgery after just two attacks and I can count 8-9. He also talked to me in-depth about the danger of continuing to throw antibiotics at the problem.

    No one had discussed surgery with me before. I thought this was a disease I just had to live with. I clearly had more to learn about what is diverticulosis. So on receiving this new information I began some extensive research and met with two more doctors for more opinions.

    Surgery

    Although there is much information out there about treating diverticulosis with dietary cleanses and changes, I knew my diet to be very healthy and high fiber. My research provided me a clear picture that my current diet and my lifestyle was not the problem. I lead a healthy life.

    So following all my study I decided it was time to do the surgery. It made sense to do the surgery while I was stuck here in the USA, even though I was not very excited about spending time in the hospital during the time of Covid. I originally scheduled the surgery for last December, but again Covid was raging. So I postponed until this week.

    Over the past months I have made sure I continued to eat healthy, exercise and keep my weight down to be at my optimal health for surgery. Even so, while traveling in the American Southwest over the past two months I have suffered from almost constant pain. So, no more waiting to deal with this problem. And now that I have been vaccinated, I am more confident about spending five days in the hospital.

    I had the surgery earlier this week. I am extremely tired but feeling ok. My doctor tells me I will feel totally normal by end of May, although I can’t start running again until June at the earliest.

    Making the Decision

    If we had not been forced into travel pause due to the PanDammit, I probably would have put this surgery off a few more years. My doctor worried that a future flareup could result in a dangerous perforation of the colon and spreading bacteria to surrounding tissue, which would require emergency surgery. I definitely did not want to find myself in that situation in a foreign country. And the emergency surgery can be much more invasive than the laparoscopic elective surgery. It can also be more dangerous.

    I think I made the right decision for me. But each person needs to review their own situation, do the research and talk to multiple doctors. Each case is unique. If you suffer from this ailment I am happy to tell you more of my story if it can be useful to you. But most importantly, talk to your doctor.

    I expect a full recovery, although it will take some time. Thanks for your concern.

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    Island Life

    My Favorite Islands Around the World

    Just Call Me Island Girl

    Enjoying my time on Maui I’ve been thinking about all the island’s I have been blessed to visit. It’s a long list. My favorite islands around the world are usually remote and small. But I have also loved some larger, populated and sometimes touristy islands. We are doubtful we will travel international in 2021, but as soon as we can we will be heading to some of the world’s best islands. So many islands, so little time.

    Langkawi Malaysia
    Langkawi Malaysia

    Our sudden disruption to our 2020 Grand Adventure last spring due to the virus, eliminated our visit to many islands we have long desired to see; Malta, Guernsey, Jersey and the archipelogos of Finland. We spent seven unexpected weeks on the beautiful island of Cyprus, but in total lockdown and so nothing more than our tiny neighborhood in the village of Argaka. So each of these islands remain on our to visit list.

    Maui
    Maui

    Over the past five weeks we have been living on the island of Maui, and have just extended our stay another four weeks. So in 2020 we spent six weeks on Mauritius, seven weeks on Cyprus and will have a total of nine weeks on Maui. A total of 22 weeks on islands in 2020. It’s one of the few good things about 2020.

    Prince Edward Island Canada
    Prince Edward Island Canada

    So in today’s blog I thought I would share some of my favorite islands around the world, and a brief description of why they make my fav list. There are several other islands we have visited I don’t mention here…I had to narrow it down. But if you have ever considered traveling to any of these – here are my recommendations;

    Langkawi Malaysia

    • Visited in October 2019 for 26 days
    • Average Temperature 84 F
    • 25 miles long by 12 miles wide
    • Population 65,000
    • Best time to visit November -February
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • Quiet and super inexpensive. Beautiful, clean beaches, lots of restaurants and great sunsets. Grocery accessibility is average. Very friendly people.
    • Don’t miss sunset at Cenang Beach
    • Learn more
    Langkawi Malaysia
    Langkawi Malaysia

    Praslin Seychelles

    • Visited in May 2017 for 33 days
    • What we wrote
    • Average temperature 80 F
    • 15 miles long and 7 miles wide
    • Population 7500
    • Best time to visit April, May, October, November
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • Very quiet but also expensive. Beaches are nice but having a car at least part of the time is a must if you need to shop. Groceries are very expensive and produce is difficult to get. The people are quiet but nice and it is just beautiful. Boats available to visit other islands.
    • Don’t miss swimming at Gold Beach Anse Volbert-Côte D’Or,
    • Learn more
    Seychelle Islands
    Praslin Seychelles

    Antiparos Greece

    • Visited in October 2018 for 21 days
    • What we wrote
    • Average temperature 70 F
    • Size 23 mi diameter
    • Population 1190
    • Best time to visit April to October
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • In October Antiparos was really quiet as the season ends in September. But we had exceptional weather. Some restaurants and businesses in the tiny town were closed for the season but we found everything we needed at reasonable prices. Ferries available to surrounding islands.
    • Don’t miss hiking out to Panagia beach
    • Learn more
    Antiparos Greece
    Antiparos Greece

    Huraa Maldives

    • Visited in February 2018 for 21 days
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 85 F
    • Size 1 mile by 0.5 mile
    • Population 550
    • Best time to visit November to April
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • By far the tiniest island we have been on, this very low lying Maldivian island is actually an atoll, made up of coral. The weather was incredible and we had the most relaxing three weeks of our life here. Best one day snorkeling of my life off of Huraa. Very little to do, and nearly no shopping. Note that there is no alcohol on this Muslim island!
    • Don’t miss snorkeling at Sand Island
    • Learn more
    Huraa Maldives
    Huraa Maldives

    South Island New Zealand

    • Visited in February 2017 for three weeks
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 55 F
    • Size 150 X 500 miles (12th largest island in the world)
    • Population 1.3 million
    • Best time to visit December to May
    • Where we stayed – we rented a caravan and traveled around
    • New Zealand is downright amazing. We loved both the North and South Island and we would really love to go back and visit again. This is not a laying in the sun island. Rather it is an island for all things recreational: hiking, walking, cycling, bird watching and more. Absolutely stunning. And ridiculously expensive.
    • Don’t miss hiking the Abel Tasman Trail
    • Learn more
    South Island New Zealand
    South Island New Zealand

    Mackinac Island, Michigan USA

    • Visited twice in the late 1990’s
    • Average Temperature 60 F
    • Size 2 x 3 mile
    • Population 500
    • Best time to visit May through September
    • Where we stayed Hotel
    • It’s been a long time since I visited magical Mackinac and I sure would love to go again. It is so unique, especially in the USA, to find a place with no motor vehicles. Both times I was there in the summer with beautiful weather. Renting bikes and riding around the island is a highlight.
    • Don’t miss a romantic horse drawn carriage ride
    • Learn more
    Mackinac Island Michigan
    Mackinac Island Michigan USA (photo from Canva)

    Maui Hawaii USA

    • Visited more times than I can count, and currently spending nine weeks here
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 80 F
    • Size 25 x 50 miles
    • Population 145,000
    • Best time to visit Year Around
    • Where we stayed Condo
    • I’m lucky to count myself as one who has visited every Hawaiian Island that isn’t privately owned, and hands down Maui is the best. It is expensive but beyond that everything about it is perfect – the weather, the water, the beach, the food, the activities and the fact for people who live on the west coast of the USA, it’s really easy to get to.
    • Don’t miss whale watching for humpback whales in the winter months
    • Learn more
    Maui Hawaii USA

    Lombok and Bali Indonesia

    • Visited in March and April 2018 – two weeks on Bali and one week on Lombok
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 80 F
    • Size Bali 40 x 90 miles Lombok 50 x 50 miles
    • Population Bali 4.2 million Lombok 3.1 million
    • Best time to visit May through September
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • We loved our time on both of these beautiful islands. Bali is very popular with tourists for its beauty, beaches and vibe. Lombok on the other hand is a unique, tiny and non-touristy island where we spent six glorious days doing nothing but laying in a hammock.
    • Don’t miss an authentic Balinese Cultural performance in Ubud
    • Learn more
    Lombok Indonesia
    Lombok Indonesia

    Zanzibar Tanzania

    • Visited in September 2009 for five days
    • Average Temperature 90 F
    • Size 20 x 50 miles
    • Population 1.3 million
    • Best time to visit June through December
    • Where we stayed Lodge
    • I visited Zanzibar with my sister after spending a week on a safari in mainland Tanzania. It remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It is also the second worst sunburn I have got. The white sand beaches are amazing. The people are quiet and kind. The seafood delicious.
    • Don’t miss a ride in an authentic Zanzibar Dhow Boat
    • Learn more
    Zanzibar Tanzania
    Zanzibar Tanzania

    Rapa Nui, Chile (Easter Island)

    • Visited in January 2015 for six days
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 75 F
    • Size 7 x 15 miles
    • Population 5761
    • Best time to visit April to June or October to December
    • Where we stayed Lodge
    • Definitely one of the most interesting places I have ever been. This tiny island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is difficult to get to and expensive but worth it. We loved our time here learning about the Moai and the history of Rapa Nui. I highly recommend.
    • Don’t miss touring with an authorized tour guide to understand the amazing statues and history of this island
    • Learn more
    Rapanui Easter Island Chile
    Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Chile

    Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

    • Visited in January 2018 for three weeks
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 81 F
    • Size 120 x 250 miles
    • Population 21.44 million
    • Best time to visit December to March
    • Where we stayed Airbnb
    • We did a five day tour with a guide around the major sites of Sri Lanka seeing some of the most amazing things including the astonishing Sigiriya ancient mountain fortress. Then we kicked back for more than two weeks in a tiny hut on the beach in Hikkadua, which ended up being “interesting” but super fun and the weather and the beach were perfect. The Sri Lankan people are some of the kindest on the planet.
    • Don’t miss Sigiriya Fortress one of the most incredible things I have ever seen
    • Learn more
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    • Visited in May 2010 for one week
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 75 F
    • Size 50 x 80 miles (Isla Isabela, the largest of the archipelago)
    • Population 25,000
    • Best time to visit January to June
    • Where we stayed – we were on a small 12 person cruise
    • My first dip into my bucket list was this trip to the Galapagos Islands to celebrate my 50th birthday. Living on a boat for five nights we saw many islands and the most amazing collection of wildlife and sea life. We loved every minute of it and although it’s expensive, we recommend it to anyone!
    • Don’t miss swimming with sea lions
    • Learn more
    Galapogos Islands
    Wildlife is abundant on the Galapagos Islands

    Singapore, Singapore

    • Visited in February 2018 for three days
    • What we wrote
    • Average Temperature 81 F
    • Size 721.5 km
    • Population 5.6 million
    • Best time to visit February through May
    • We only had a couple of days in Singapore, the teeny island city/state that is one of the most expensive places in the world. It is also one of the cleanest and most colorful, particularly at night. I hope to return.
    • Don’t miss the Singapore Gardens by the Bay at night and the amazing Singapore Botanic Garden
    • Learn more
    Singapore
    Singapore Singapore

    Nantucket Island, Massachusetts USA

    • Visited in April 2002
    • Average Temperature 55 F
    • Size 5 x 12 miles
    • Population 11,229
    • Best time to visit May through October
    • We only had a couple of day on Nantucket but we were traveling with our young children at the time and it was a great little place for a family vacation. We were there in spring before the hoard of tourists descend in the summer and it was peaceful and beautiful and historic.
    • Don’t miss a Clam Bake and riding bikes around the island
    • Learn more
    Nantucket Island
    Nantucket Island USA (Photo from Canva)

    Prince Edward Island, Canada

    • Visited in July 2007
    • Average Temperature 50 F
    • Size 30 x 100 miles
    • Population 157,000
    • Best time to visit July and August
    • We drove up to the Maritimes from Boston and enjoyed the drive as much as the islands. Prince Edward Island was still at that time very quiet and we enjoyed riding bikes, eating lobster and learning about history.
    • Don’t miss searching for sea glass at Souris Beaches
    • Learn more
    Prince Edward Island Canada
    Prince Edward Island Canada

    Honshu Japan

    • Visited in 1999 for five weeks
    • Average temperature – Honshu is a big island with multiple climates but Tokyo average summer high is 80 F
    • Size 150 x 500 miles
    • Population 104 million (2nd most populous island after Java Indonesia)
    • Best time to visit – March to May and September to November
    • We spent five weeks exploring the island of Honshu. Our kids were little and it was a magical time for us as a family. Japan is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world. I hope to go back some day.
    • Don’t miss Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka
    • Learn more
    Japan
    Honshu Japan (photo from Canva)

    San Juan Island, Washington USA

    • I have visited these islands many times as they are in the backyard of where I grew up
    • Average Temperature 55 F
    • Size – there are nine islands in varying sizes. The two largest are Orcas and San Juan
    • Population 6900
    • Best time to visit – Summer months
    • We have traveled to nearly all of the islands over my lifetime growing up in the Pacific Northwest. The islands are a great place for family camping or romantic getaways. Hiking, cycling and kayaking are popular.
    • Don’t miss getting up close and personal with the famous J-Pod of Orca Whales on a whale watching tour.
    • Learn More
    San Juan Islands USA
    San Juan Islands Washington USA (photo from Canva)

    And that’s our list! We hope you have been inspired to find your own “island time” adventure. You might enjoy this article about The 26 Largest Islands Around the World.

    We thank you for reading and for sharing our blog! You might enjoy our post about our favorite things on each Hawaiian Island.

    Also check out our YouTube video about Take Out Food on Maui.

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    Maldives
    Inspire  --  Island Life

    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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