Spit tube and tracking necklace.
We have been on four prior cruises; one river and three ocean. This is our fifth and the first one in 2 years. Covid-19 has dictated the essence of the cruise. It is safety; for us, fellow passengers and the crew. We were reluctant to take the cruise, but, staying home at our age (79 & 81) seemed even worse. And, a cruise ship seemed like the safest place. But, we had to jump through a lot of hoops; the most important being not to forget to wear our masks and carry our tracking necklace.
Covid-19 has added a number of things to the ordinary cruise:
1. All passengers and crew must be completely vaccinated.
2. VeriFly is required to prove your vaccination status. No cheating.
3. Negative PCR test 72 hours in advance of various deadlines depending on destination.
4. Negative Antigen test 48 hours in advance of boarding the ship.
5. Second negative Antigen test 48 hours in advance of boarding the ship, because due to a flight delay, we thought it would be 50 hours.
6. Vaccination card.
7. Check in at the dock before boarding the ship with copies of all documents
8. Negative PCR test on boarding the ship. This ship has its own lab to do daily PCR tests.
9. Masks at all times when outside your stateroom except when eating.
10. Daily spitting in a tube which is collected at 9:00 AM for the daily PCR test – hard because we do not have enough spit early in the morning – collected by the room steward in a big bag.
11. Daily questionnaire as to your health.
12. Temp check at the entrance of each restaurant or cafe.
14. Separated seats in the theater.
15. Separeted tables in the dining areas.
16. Whirlpool and spa areas limited to 10 people and apointment required.
17. All crew masked, vaccinated and tested daily.
And, we have yet to get to our first port on this cruise.
Meals are a source of conflict. No two, or more, people can agree on what to have.
All the usual excuses apply: “it’s too early to decide, I don’t know, what would you like, what do we have in the refrigerator, do you want to go out? Where? And…
We take our guidance from the past several presidents; the Executive Order; or, in my case, the default meal.
This means that I come up with a meal plan, which we will have unless someone comes up with a better plan, which I will accept. I am not obnoxious about my plan, nor is it set in concrete; it is just a simple way of getting on with things.
We are staying with my in-laws for two weeks and everyone is being nice.
Two nights ago I came up with a local restaurant that I am fond of. No problem. Everyone enjoyed it, and seemed happy not to have to make a decision.
Last night it was chicken wings, coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob with tiramisu for dessert. Again, no problem and everyone liked it.
Tonight, I announced hamburgers, bean and salad. And, of course, wine. No objections.
I may have pushed it far enough that someone else comes up with a default meal. I hope so.
This has simplified my life; used up aging food in the refrigerator and made everyone happier.
Old age should be about stress free simplicity. Default meals are a nice start.
AFGHAN ALLIES – RESCUE FROM AFGHANISTAN!
I have been aware that the US was going to get out of Afghanistan for at least 8 months. I know that everyone seemed to be in agreement that our Afghan allies, translators, etc. had been promised rescue. As trusted allies of the US they were vetted, I hope.
Today, I turned on my I-phone and accessed my Bank of America account. I looked at the I-phone and got a “Face ID“ message, pressed continue, was sent a code number, pressed continue again, and was into all my Bank of America accounts, safely and with no problem.
If Bank of America and I-phone can do this, what is wrong with the military. Surely the military at the air base in Kabul is not so backward that they are not aware of facial recognition software.
Why weren’t all trusted allies and their families photographed with a facial recognition camera and their photos posted in the cloud and made available to the people at the gates of the air base in Kabul? Why wasn’t this done at the initial vetting or by the Americans that they worked with?
Any Afghan who gets a positive response at the gate should br put on a plane and sent to a safe place. They have already been vetted and we have trusted them with our lives.
What am I missing?
My hot dog.
Now that I have had my two Covid-19 vaccine shots; I am testing myself; including a trip to Tucson to see my grandchildren.
The trip included an airplane ride, contact with other people, eating in a restaurant, shopping, movie (Nomadland in a theater) etc. I was always masked and kept my distance.
The best part of the test was to go to my favorite pre-pandemic hot dog stand on Alvernon.
El Sinalvense Hot Dog Cart
1528 N. Alvernon Way
The result was worth it. The “chef” wore a mask, the food was tasty and I have not developed any symptoms beyond enjoyment.
El Sinalvense Hot Dog Cart.
The Chef in Action!
Three years age I attended the Matanza in Belen, NM where I ate my fill of roasted whole hog, beans, chile, and tortillas. This year it is scheduled for January 26, 2019 from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Eagle Park in Belen, NM, about 30 miles South of Albuquerque, NM.
You can read about the 2020 Matanza in the Albuquerque Journal – January 26, 2020.
The 2021 Matanza has been cancelled according to the Albuquerque Journal – January 19, 2021. We will have to wait until next year for this event as well as for a lot of other interesting celebrations in New Mexico.
Matanzas involve roasting a whole pig overnight in a pit dug in the ground. It is a celebration for all your family and friends. It involves a lot of home-made food and too much drinking. The first one I attended was when I came to Albuquerque over 50 years ago and was held on Thanksgiving Day. Lou had obtained a 300 pound hog and the night before it was placed in a pit in his backyard, wrapped in wet burlap, and laid on top of a huge bed of coals. The hog was then covered with coals and dirt and left to roast for twelve hours.
It was hoisted out of the pit, unwrapped, and the meat fell off the bones. More beer, pinto beans, tortillas, salad and pork made the Thanksgiving Dinner one that I remember to this day.
The one in Belen is more organized, raising money for charity. It costs $15 and is preceded by judges determining who made the best red chile, pork, tortillas and chicharrones. There are long lines and no shortage of beer. It is best to come early.
You can read about the “World’s Largest Matanza” in the January 2018 issue of New Mexico Magazine. The article, “Whole Hog” by Gwyneth Doland is worth reading. The article also contains recipes if you want to create your own Matanza, and tells you where to buy a whole hog. Go for it.
The 2017 Belen Matanza was the first I attended.
For instructions see the Weekly Alibi
LAS VEGAS, NM – 30 HOURS
After 6 months of Covid 19, and in anticipation of at least another. 6 months, we decided that we had to learn to live with it. Retired, we pretty much live a quiet life; however, travel plans have been interrupted, including a Family Alaska Cruise and a a cruise to the Caribbean. Alaska was cancelled, the Caribbean was reset for March 2021 and was then cancelled as Viking cancelled all cruises until at least March 31, 2021. We are betting on being able to go in June with our 125% deal, especially since the vaccines have arrived and being in the over 80 category, we expect to be high on the list.
We have mastered shopping, eating out on outdoor patios, exercise in small numbers at the YMCA and having friends over for outdoor drinks and dinners.
We have not been able to master travel, given our ages, 78 and 80 and various state and international restrictions. There is also a fear of flying.
So, we decided on a short train trip. Albuquerque to Las Vegas, NM is about 3 hours on Amtrak. Las Vegas has a renovated Harvey House Hotel, Castenada, next to the tracks, as well as an earlier one in Winslow, AZ which we have stayed at.
Train 4 was only 20% booked when I got tickets, $15 apiece each way. Leave at 11:45 and arrive about 3.
Castenada had rooms available for $130 including tax etc. and they claimed that they let a day lapse between guests and that the rooms were super clean. The restaurant was closed, but from Wed. Through Sat , 3-8 you could eat on the patio, first come, first served. A limited menu but it looks good.
No breakfast, but the hotel said that the Spic and Spam was just 3 blocks away. We have eaten there and they have great Mexican Food. The place also has an automatic Tortilla making machine which cranks out fresh tortillas.
We were still nervous, so we have gloves, masks, 90% alcohol handi wipes, and water proof pillow case covers, $25 from Amason. We could have gotten disposable hazmat but enough is enough is enough.
You have to balance the risk’s of Covid 19 with going crazy; and at 80 the choice was easy. Crazy is not my thing; caution is ok.
Fortunately, we can park in a city garage a block from the Amtrak station. We have had one Covid 19 test which came back negative, but that was a month ago. Since the trip we have had two more tests, both of which were negative. The tests were drive through and waiting in line took about two hours.
Before taking the trip, we considered what could go wrong.
If we are denied boarding on the train because of symptoms, no problem; we go home and are out $130 for the hotel. If we get toLas Vegas NM, and the hotel won’t let us in because of symptoms, or if the return Amtrak won’t let us on board, what do we do?
There seems to be only one bus a day, at the wrong time. Even if we could get to Santa Fe, The RailRnner is not running, and buses may be risky. Where do we spend the night. Car rentals seem to be non-existent in Las Vegas
It all worked out well. The trip was worth it and we are trying to think how we could do another.
At 79 I am in the “at risk” group for coronavirus. I have no real underlying problems, other than old age. However, like all of my neighbors, who are of a similar age, I am concerned.
I was able to get gloves early on. (The next blog is on gloves.) I stay away from other people – six feet, except for my wife. I walk 2 1/2 miles every day. I buy groceries during “senior hour” even though it is early in the morning and I am exposed to a bunch of old people. We have enough food for two weeks. Until today, I drove to a nearby store to get a copy of the New York Times. Today, I had it delivered. So, except for a couple of trips a week and my walks along the Rio Grande River, my wife and I are isolated, “sheltering in place.”
The lack of a face mask concerned me, especially since the Federal Government can’t decide if a face mask is helpful, or not. Even if it is helpful, there are no face masks available for old people. Amazon could not deliver before mid-May; Walgreens was sold out; I had no doctor appointments scheduled, so I couldn’t steal a mask. And, the process of going around looking for face masks is dangerous, in and of itself. Talk about exposure. Web pages do not accurately reflect stock in the stores.
What is an old man to do?
I have a wife of 45 years. In that time she has accumulated a number of bras. She gave me one. It was good for two face masks. The elastic straps could be attached to one side with Super Glue. Bras are washable.
I have yet to convince my wife to wear a bra in any but the ordinary way; however, I am working on her. It would be nice to keep her around a little longer.
In August 2019 while visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we ate at Sky Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant that featured a rice table, known in Amsterdam as rijsttafel.
There are several Indonesian restaurants in Philadelphia; but, none in Albuquerque or Tucson. Sky Cafe is authentic, small, and except for us everyone appeared to be Indonesian. It was crowded at 6:00 and we had to sit in the hall for 20 minutes until a table was ready. Sky Cafe was down a hall in an ethnic shopping center. It was full of uncrated furniture. The sign on the door said Sky was expanding.
There is an extensive menu, but only one “rice table (rijsttafel)” for $17.
The liquor laws in Pennsylvania are BYOB (bring your own bottle) for restaurants, so we took two bottles of wine. Sky Cafe provides glasses and cork screws. There is no corkage fee.
This part of Philadelphia is out of our comfort zone, but it was not problem. An ethnic neighborhood, with a safe and local feel.
We used LYFT and when we left the restaurant, our Lyft showed up in minutes, but we did not recognize it because a cop had pulled him over for a broken tail light, which did not result in a ticket. When we got the message that “your car is here,” we discovered it was the car the cop had stopped in front of us. A story to tell.
The trip back was without incident. He told us he was about to attend the police academy in New Jersey to become a police officer. Most Lyft drivers have an interesting story to tell.
For more information on rice tables in Amsterdam search Rijsttafel on Wikipedia, which has a bunch of pictures and a list of items in a typical Rijsttafel.
Maybe you want to prepare your own rice table (Rijsttafel) with a cookbook from Amazon.
THINK OLD! TRAVEL OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
We visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on May 15, 2014. We took the train from Paddington Station in London and the bus from the St. Austell station to the Eden Project.
The Eden Project, which opened in 2002, was built-in a 35 acre reclaimed, open clay pit, 180 feet deep. It was partially filled with soil and recycled waste. On top of this was built two enclosed biomes; one a Rainforest Biome and one a Mediterranean Biome.
The Rainforest Biome is about 750 feet long by 330 feet wide and 150 feet high. It contains over 1,100 different species of plants and has areas devoted to West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tropical Islands and Tropical South America.
The Mediterranean Biome is about 90 feet high and contains over 850 different species of plants. It represents the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
In addition to the two major Biomes, there is a Core educational, administration and museum building along with an Outdoor Biome. There is an outdoor stage, paths, parking and a land train.
There are several restaurants serving a variety of “responsibly sourced, fairly-traded, direct sourced, organic, seasonal, and/or local and freshly made” food.
We spent a day there and could have spent more time. They have a lot of special events during the year, including “The Art of Stories,” “Harvest,” and “Christmas at Eden.”
There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts” in St. Austell. We stayed for two nights at The Grange in St. Austell.
It is easy to get there, even if you are old. Take the train from Paddington to St. Austell; check into a bed and breakfast: take the free bus from the train station to the Eden Project. Enjoy.
You should compare this to Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ and Arcosanti in Cordes Junction, AZ. You should think about how old open-pit mines and remote places can be re-configured as educational, research and residential communities for the future. Maybe you would like to live in one. Maybe it is a partial solution to the aging problem.
If so, go to their web pages; they all allow for interns, visitors, and maybe a new career.
The Guide – Eden Project Books, revised edition 2016.
Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about
Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!