Sloths in Cartagena

One of my favorite critters in the entire world is the sloth.  They are just as cool as can be.  (Robert thinks they are kind of creepy.  He is so wrong….)  So, imagine my excitement when I learned there were sloths in the heart of Cartagena.  And, imagine my squeal when I actually saw one….


Sloth hanging out in a tree in Cartagena.

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Communa 13 graffiti tour

You know that saying, “you can never go back”?


Street art in Communa 13.

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Medellin Botanical Garden

One of our favorite places in all of Medellin is the Medellin Botanical Garden (or, in Spanish, Jardin Botanico de Medellin).

The botanical gardens are free to enter and are a great place to spend a couple of hours away from the noise and traffic that is ubiquitous in Medellin.  Supposedly, the gardens cover about 34 acres of land, but they didn’t seem that large to us — we walked the path around the gardens twice in one afternoon.  The gardens consist of a tropical forest (with a raised walkway through the forest), a small lake, a desert garden, a bamboo forest, a butterfly house, and a few other things.


These orchids were growing everywhere.  And, the iguanas were eating them like they were candy.  Must be an iguana delicacy.

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Bogota graffiti tour

We love street art so, when we read about the Bogota graffiti tour, we knew we had to sign up.  The Bogota graffiti tour is one of those free tours where you are expected to tip at the end of the tour — we were told the going rate is about $10 per person — and the tour was worth every penny.


A boy selling lemonade.  This is apparently a real boy who lives in Lima.  Check out the pineapple grenades in the background.  The idea is to make you think about whether you would prefer grenades or pineapples (you know, the whole guns or butter thing).

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Final Thoughts on 2019

Year two of retirement is in the books (and has been for some time but, as previously noted, we post things in order and we are way behind schedule).  But, boy, it sure wasn’t the year we were anticipating.  And, not in a good way.  So, as you can well-imagine, we were glad to see the end of 2019.  Anyway.  Enough of that.


Street scene in Saigon, Vietnam.

Let’s start by answering the same questions we asked ourselves last year.


Borobudur temple in Indonesia.

Do we regret retiring, selling everything and traveling the world?  No, not even a teeny, tiny bit.  It was and still is the right decision for us.  We are happy and healthier than we ever were in Chicago.  That said, we do find ourselves wanting to slow down a bit.  So, going forward, we are planning on spending slightly longer time periods in some of the cities we visit.  We hope to find a few places to stay for a full month, and we don’t intend to spend less than a week hardly anywhere.

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Island off of Ao Nang, Thailand.

Did we manage to stay on budget this year?  Um, no, not even close — we were about 6% over what we anticipated.  We chalk most of that up to our extended time in the U.S. and, in particular, the month plus we spent touring the country and visiting our friends and parents.  That said, it isn’t the end of the world as our budget is very conservative and the market did well in 2019, so we aren’t too worried.


Squirrel in Kentucky.

Where did our money go this year?  Although last year we were hoping that our housing budget would decrease in 2019, that wasn’t the case.  In fact, in 2019, our housing budget ate up an entire 25% of our budget.  We really aren’t sure how that happened, but I’m guessing it was due to our many expensive hotel stays in the United States and Europe.  Another 23% went to food and beverages.  Another large chunk — 22% — went to health care costs.  And, 15% went to transport — this was extremely high as we had to rent cars while we were in the U.S.  We also had some “fun” expenses that can’t be overlooked.  For example, we paid 64 cents in elevator fees, due to an apartment in Italy that charged 0.05 Euros each time we took the elevator.  We paid $33 dollars in late check-in fees, due to an apartment in France that charged a fee if you checked in after 6 pm.  We paid $4 in bathroom fees — and the bathrooms often weren’t even clean.  And, we paid a whopping $92 in ATM fees (charged by the local banks, not our banks).


Donuts in Nashville.

What did we miss the most this year?  In a word, dogs.  We missed dogs.  We try to pet dogs whenever we can, but dogs are going to be our downfall.  We also really missed going to live concerts.  We managed to sneak in a day at Riot Fest while we were in Chicago and it really made us remember how much we miss listening to random bands at Chicago street fairs.


Spam museum in Minnesota.

What’s on tap for 2020?  Plans are still a bit up in the air, but definitely Colombia (which is where we have been since January 1) and Ecuador (we fly there February 24).  We are then hoping to meet some friends in Mexico, then head to Central America, then head to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, and then back to South America to see Argentina and Uruguay.  But, don’t count on that, as I’m sure things will change.


Statue at Minehaha Park in Minneapolis.

And, now, on to our final thoughts for 2019.

We really wish we knew when it became socially acceptable to watch tv and video games without headphones while on public transportation.  I can’t tell you how many times we had to bite our tongues to stop ourselves from saying something we would regret as we listened to bad music at outrageously loud volumes….

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Puffer fish in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

We were astounded to see so many NBA jerseys being worn outside the U.S.  Most of them are still Jordan jerseys, even though he hasn’t played in decades.


Shrimp for sale in Cadiz, Spain.

Robert says that coffee in SE Asia is barely coffee — it is really just a coffee-flavored milk and sugar concoction.


Arch in Marseilles, France.

We — ok I, — ate far too many Snickers this year.  They are an affordable snack choice in SE Asia.  Oddly, the Reese’s peanut butter cups are way more expensive than the Snickers.  If anyone knows why, please feel free to share.


The river in Florence, Italy.

We are still sleeping 9-10 hours a night most nights.  It is a thing of beauty.


Gator in Florida.

When you are a budget, small luxuries are sometimes worth every single penny.  For example, in Mexico, we could have easily hung out on the beach for free.  But, for $10, we got a comfy beach chair, clean beach towels, a shower, a clean bathroom, and wifi.  Worth.  Every.  Penny.


Hanging out in Indonesia.

We still don’t have our packing down.  This year, we added the following things to our bags (ok, fine, these all went into Robert’s bag):  a Koozie, chip clips, a spatula, and a pepper grinder.


Lisa in Saigon, Vietnam.

The Euro currency is far too reliant on coins.  We both had pockets full of coins.  No doubt that is why the French often just leave their change behind as a type of tip.

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Robert walking a shelter dog in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

Europeans still smoke way too much.  Ugh.


The view from Sunshine Hill in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

The last few months of 2019 we were frequently switching between French, Spanish, and Italian.  I can’t tell you how many times we said “please” or “thank you” or “white wine” in the wrong language.  First world problems, right?


A duck and some fish in Seville, Spain.

Electric scooters are a scourge on the earth.


Prambanan Temple in Indonesia.

We both love the signs in Europe that say “all directions” are straight ahead.


Hams hanging in Seville, Spain.

When we finally settle down again, we need a place with the bread and pastries of France, the coffee and wine of Italy, the ham of Spain, and the spices of Thailand.  If anyone knows where that is, let us know….


Statue in Florence, Italy.

And, finally, if there is anything you would like to see us focus on more (or less) in the blog, let us know.  Feel free to leave a reply to any of our blogs or shoot us an email at  You can also “like” posts if you like them, which will help us know what people are interested in reading.  Sadly, there is no “hate” button if you hate our posts so you will just have to keep that sentiment to yourselves….

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Final Thoughts on the U.S. (2019)

So….we spent far too much time in the U.S. in 2019.  We started with about three months in Kentucky (including quick weekends in Nashville and Louisville).  As some of you know, Robert’s brother was diagnosed with cancer and we moved into his house for three months to help care for him.  Then, we took a road trip through Iowa and Minnesota (where we saw some good friends) and Wisconsin (where we visited my parents) and finally back to Chicago (to see doctors and visit friends).  After the road trip, we made a quick visit to Arizona to see Robert’s parents.  Then, after a month out of the U.S., we returned to Chicago for a couple of days.  And, at the end of the year, we returned to the U.S. to visit doctors in Chicago and to see my parents in Florida and Robert’s parents in Arizona, with a brief stop in between to visit Vegas for Christmas.  When 2019 started, we never dreamed we would spend so much time in the U.S.  And, as you can imagine, our perspectives on the U.S. were really marred by the reason we came back in the first place.  That said, outside of seeing friends and family, we can’t say we really enjoyed our time back in the U.S. in 2019  And the tone of this post reflects that.  Sadly, nothing too funny to see here.  Hang on, this is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.


An adorable squirrel in Cadiz, KY.

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Christmas in Vegas

I know, I know, you are thinking “why on earth is she talking about Christmas in February?”  Well, the answer is because we post our blogs in order and we are way, way behind schedule.  So, without further ado.


Decorations at the Bellagio.

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Final thoughts on France (2019)

It is that time again…

The hot chocolate in France is seriously delicious.  I almost never drink hot chocolate.  Then, I land in France, and it is hot chocolate nearly every single day.  (Robert reports that the espresso is miserable).


Statue and a bird at Versailles.

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A day trip to Versailles

We didn’t do much in Paris due to the transit strike and the nasty weather, but before the strike got going we made our way to Versailles for a day.  Here is what we learned (a bit tongue in cheek).


A small bit of detail on the roof of Versailles.

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Final thoughts on Italy (2019)

It is that time again….but we have surprisingly few final thoughts on Italy.


One of Robert’s favorite snacks in Florence.

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