Thank you for the positivity!!!…

Medium Daddy, not quite full grown but on his way to being a Big Daddy in years to come. Notice his musculature. Wow!

It was a year ago yesterday, that I uploaded a post with a heading that read:

“Please “unfriend me” if…Social media during lockdown…”

The purpose of that post may be found at this link, was accomplished. Throughout the lockdown period and continuing today the positivity we’ve experienced from our worldwide readers and social media friends has been nothing but upbeat and positive.

Even now, as we’ve reported our upcoming return to the US to visit family, get the vaccine and get our passports stamped, allowing us to reenter South Africa when we’d adamantly stated, we wouldn’t be returning to the US during the pandemic, has been supportive and encouraging.

Frank standing on the veranda railing.

Well, who knew what this pandemic would bring? Who knew it would be impossible to get the vaccine in South Africa anytime soon? Who knew, a planned trip to Kenya would be canceled due to more lockdown measures implemented by its government? Who knew it would make so much sense for us to change our minds?

Our change of mind could easily have been fodder for criticism and negative feedback. But, not a single reader of our site or on social media wrote a negative word or comment, instead, encouraging us all the way. For this, we are very grateful.

Whether or not, our “Please unfriends me if…” had an impact will never be known. Primarily, that particular post was intended for our social media contacts, not so much our readers, who have always been outrageously kind and supportive with a few rare exceptions.

Lots of kudus stopped by this morning.

But, at times, Facebook, although not necessarily directed to us specifically, was rife with negativity. We’ve seen a dramatic change for the better in the past year. Did the pandemic do this?

One could say, we could easily leave Facebook if we don’t like the majority of the content. But, for us, it’s a convenient and useful way to stay in touch with friends and family when often we are isolated, such as while in lockdown in India. And even here, now, we don’t have the usual numbers of social interactions we experienced in our previous stays in Marloth Park. People are careful to avoid social contact in most cases.

When we were in Marloth Park in 2018/2019, we saw friends several times a week. Now, with Covid-19 on everyone’s mind, it’s been less frequent, leaving us feeling a little isolated at times. Of course, the wildlife visitors continually entertain us and, no doubt, we thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and, that of the friends we’ve been able to see. Thank goodness for that!

He, like, everyone else, loves the pellets which we offered freely.

Many have written to us over the past few days with heartfelt empathy over the cancelation of our trip to Kenya. As we’ve written back, we appreciate the generous messages, but in actuality, we are quite fine with the change, especially when we receive all of our money back. We’re still waiting for a few bigger sums to be refunded, almost US $4000, ZAR 59424, from both Little Governor’s Camp and Kenya Airways. Hopefully, we’ll see these refunds coming through soon.

Getting our passports stamped for another 90 days in South Africa and the opportunity to receive the vaccine have been huge motivators in returning to the US. The bonus is the opportunity to see our family members after an 18-month hiatus, which has been typical of many family members who haven’t been able to travel to see one another, due to the pandemic.

Quite handsome.

Thus, this change in our itinerary will ultimately prove to have been the most sensible and beneficial change in our past many years of world travel. We thank all of our thoughtful readers for their thoughtful comments, email, and WhatsApp messages and look forward to continuing to share our story for years to come, health providing.

    He stayed around for quite a while, posing for the camera.

Stay healthy and embrace life as many of us mourn the loss of loved ones during this dreadful pandemic and attempt to accept a new way of life in times yet to come.

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2020:

An owl we spotted at Kanha National Park in India. For more, please click here.

How do we perceive the current situation?…Returning to the US…Nine days and counting…

Last night, we had another visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby.

It’s somewhat of a weird feeling, knowing we’re leaving for the US in a mere nine days. In the past, we knew well in advance, that we were returning to our home country for a visit, often many months or even a year before our pending arrival. Those periods of time gave us an opportunity to plan our re-entry and mentally prepare ourselves for the temporary return to our former way of life.

Everyday life in a big city has been absent in our lives for over a year when we left for India in January, 2020 and ended up in a lockdown. Spending those 10 months in the hotel in India left us free of the day-to-day annoyances when we were so isolated. Returning to the US now will be an entirely different scenario in light of Covid-19. We don’t quite know what to expect.

She was a little tentative about jumping down to the floor of the veranda. The lure of the treat was irresistible.

I suppose that’s been the case for people all over the world during the past year of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown in many countries. Many have totally isolated themselves from the day-to-day commotion associated with “normal” life as opposed to the lives we’ve all experienced during the pandemic. Will we ever live those lives again? It’s hard to say.

While we were in India, we flatly refused to return to the US. No matter what, we were going to stick it out. There were too many cases of the virus and an obvious lack of precautions by many who believed they were exempt from its wrath. Now, here we are returning, contrary to our former beliefs.

We put a little bit of sour cream down for her and she loved it.

What drives us to change our minds at this point? One simple reason…the vaccine. We need to get it done if we intend to continue to travel as opposed to isolating ourselves in a lifestyle we aren’t interested in experiencing  Sure, we’re looking forward to seeing our family members. That’s a given.

In any case, we’d planned to be back in the US in May, 2022, a little over a year from now, when we would have been entering the US via cruise ship to Seattle, Washington. Now, that’s totally up-in-the-air. Who knows if any of our booked four cruises while actually transpire beginning on November 30, 2021 and ending on May 7, 2022? None of these may actually sail.

Ms Bossy, who’s pregnant, which doesn’t show in this photo, is so “in-our-faces. She’s outrageously persistent. But, we thoroughly enjoy her daily visits.

However, if any of these cruises do, in fact, sail as planned, there is no doubt in our minds that we’ll need to be vaccinated in order to board any or all of them. That’s the way traveling into the future is rolling out, whether we like it or not. We realize the vaccine is not a 100% guarantee we’ll be safe or if we’ll need boosters down the road. Science has yet to determine how long the vaccines will last.

In any case, whatever transpires, we’ll continue to stay well informed to ensure we know exactly what we need to do to carry on. Often family and friends write to us with news about Covid-19, in a thoughtful way, assuming we don’t have access to the latest news and science. But, we do, as readily and as frequently as any of you in any countries throughout the world, including in the USA.

We always say to the pigs, “Don’t eat the seeds.” Some listen, others do not.

We’ve learned, as many of you have, how to filter out “fake news” and controversies that have continually surrounded this seeming politicized pandemic. To us, good science, often difficult to decipher, is all we have to go on. Of course, we consider sources of information above all, when making any decisions for our lives. We avoid politically charged sources of information, preferring to lean toward solid science from sources we’ve come to trust.

We don’t consider Facebook and other social media as reliable sources of medical information. So much of that can be manipulated as scare tactics to appeal to certain groups. If we read an article that peaks our interest in Facebook, we immediately search for reliable studies and information which is generally available to the public.

We each have the option to choose how we receive and decipher that which we read online, including all of you when reading our posts. We make every effort to provide clear and concise information here in each day’s post But, we too, aren’t exempt from making an error or misstating something we’ve discovered. It’s up to each one of us to do our own research to bring us to a point of feeling well-informed and educated. It’s a work in progress, potentially imperfect.

Ms. Bossy and Mary, of Peter, Paul and Mary, are getting along as they share the pellets.

This morning we headed to Komatipoort for our last shopping trip and to purchase our last bag of pellets. We purchased very few groceries, after taking a careful inventory of what we have on hand. We’ll be dining one last time at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant on Friday night, leaving us with only seven meals ahead of us that we’ll prepare. Tonight, we have it covered with bacon wrapped fillet mignon. We have one more big hunk of delicious tenderloin in the freezer that will get us through two more nights. We don’t mind a bit.

If we get low on something we can always run to the local meat market to pick something up. In the interim, we’re focused on eating everything we have on hand with no perishable food remaining when we leave on April 8th.

All is good. We have peace of mind and don’t feel stressed at all. Of course, once we’ve accomplished the long journey and receive our vaccines, we’ll have even more peace of mind.

Be well. Continue to be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2020:

The wonderful staff serving us at the Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport. They couldn’t have been more attentive and concerned about our needs and those of the other stranded foreign nationals staying at the hotel during this difficult time. Thank you, dear staff members, for taking such good care of us, including taking everyone’s temperature this morning. For more, please click here.

The countdown has begun…10 days and we’re off on our big change of plans…

An oxpecker on the back of a young male kudu, eating the bugs and debris off his body.

Yesterday was a highly accomplished day for a Sunday. Then again, any day of the week is a day that may require us to “pull up our bootstraps” to figure out a solution to an imminent situation, such as we encountered regarding the new lockdown in Kenya, which started on Friday, preventing us from going on our planned and paid trip to Little Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara.

If you missed yesterday’s post with the details, here is the link.

It was quite a daunting task, undoing all the bookings for Kenya and creating new bookings for the USA. But now we feel at ease that we’ve got a handle on it.  Now, we wait for refunds and credits to be applied to our credit card. In all, we discovered we’ll lose a total of US $400, ZAR 6007 from the Kenya online Kenyan visa, and cancellation fees of US $100, ZAR 1502 per traveler for canceling the flight with Kenya Airways.

Mr. Young Kuda staring at himself in the glass window to the second bedroom.

Many of the credits will take 30 days to process. At this point, we have the cash layout for the expensive Kenya trip and the upcoming trip to the US. We look forward to all of the credits coming through soon.

This morning we visited Louise to explain our situation. Since it makes no sense to pay for two holiday rentals simultaneously, we have no choice but to totally clear out of this house, leaving it available for Louise to rent it to other potential tourists, while we’re away, especially when our return date is uncertain at this point.

Overall, we anticipate we will return in approximately six weeks from our arrival on April 10, 2021, which would take us to the end of May at the latest. We can only speculate at this point. As soon as we know more, we’ll let Louise know what date we’ll be returning.

More kudus with oxpeckers on their backs.

Last night we informed our kids and grandchildren that we’ll be coming and they, along with us, are enthused for our return. It will be wonderful to see all of them once again after the long haul in India. It will be around 18 months since we were in the US to see everyone, so the timing is perfect.

Next week, we’ll start packing. We’ll only bring a minimal amount of clothing and supplies with us, especially since we’ll need room in our luggage for the items we’ll be picking up at our mailing service in Las Vegas. We’re certainly grateful, we didn’t pay the huge fees to send that package to us plus the associated hassle with insurance and customs fees.

We’ve decided to go to Nevada at the end of our US stay so we won’t have to haul around the extra 20 pounds, 9 kg, paying for overweight luggage while flying in the US. We’ll fly back to South Africa from Las Vegas, when at that point, it will be an international flight, allowing more weight in our bags.

Medium Daddy waits while Tom refills the pellet container.

The packing will be challenging, separating what we’ll need for the US with varying weather conditions in each location and what we’ll leave behind in South Africa. But, as always, we’ll figure it out. Most likely, while in the US we’ll purchase some new clothing for both of us. We each need a number of items which we can only find there.

For now, we’ll continue to enjoy our bush home and the dozen or so warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, and wildebeest who’ve become very familiar to us and us to them. Mostly, I’m concerned about Frank and The Misses who’ve really enjoyed eating the seeds we’ve offered several times a day.

Surely, none of them will starve without our constant supply of pellets and seeds. The vegetation is lush and green and most likely they’ll visit other houses for treats such as those we offer. Once we return, within a few weeks, they’ll all be back. For Frank and The Misses, they find berries, seeds, and bugs readily available in the park. Hopefully, they’ll remain in this territory while we’re gone.

We’ve done an inventory of how much food we have left. If we head to Komati tomorrow for a few odds and ends, we won’t need to purchase any more groceries before we depart. Louise will give us a plastic tote to store our non-perishable food items and of course, they will store that along with the baggage we’re leaving behind when we depart Marloth Park in 10 days to head to Nelspruit for an overnight stay for the next day’s long journey ahead.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2020:

The casual dining room where we had breakfast and dinner the first few weeks in the hotel in Mumbai, India. A few weeks later they closed the restaurant and started serving us room service only. It was a long 10 months. For more, please click here.

Yesterday’s post heading stated, “Everything could change.”…Everything did change!!!…What’s next?…

The seed solution for Frank and The Misses. Now they both eat out of the little container. Once they’re done, we take away the container.

In an attempt to stay calm, bit by bit, we’re piecing together what our plans will be going forward now that it’s confirmed by Little Governor’s Camp that they will be closed during the new Kenyan 60 day lockdown. This morning we received an email from the rep to inform us of the news.

Now the process of planning our next move begins today. We’ve definitely decided we’ll be returning to the US to see family and get our Covid-19 vaccines, preferably, the one jab, so we can carry on with our plans. Since we don’t know the exact dates we’ll be able to get the one jab, we’re not booking any flights beyond getting to Minnesota where we’ll be vaccinated. South Africa won’t have a sufficient supply of the vaccine for us as non-citizens to eventually be vaccinated.

From there, we’ll head to Nevada, where we’ll spend another week or two visiting son Richard, take care of any necessary business tasks, and then carry on. We’ll return to South Africa in about four to six weeks. At this point, we are ok not knowing the date we’ll return when it is entirely based on the dates and type of vaccine we’ll be able to get.

This warthog has blood coming from his left eye.

I’d like to emphatically state at this point: We are not stopping our world travels by returning to the US for the vaccines and family visits. This was the most logical way to get a new 90-day visa stamp for South Africa, see family, and also get the vaccines, a multi-purpose trip now that we cannot go to Kenya due to their new Covid-19 lockdown.

Also, while we are in the US, we will continue to post daily, as we always have, hopefully adding photos along the way. Before we know it, we’ll be back in Marloth Park, hopefully to this same house in the bush, and once again, seeing our favorite wildlife and human friends.

A pile of mongooses after enjoying nap time after eating the treats we’d offered, eggs and meat.

As of this moment, we have canceled all the hotels we had booked except the one near the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport. Also, we’ll still take the same flight we’d already booked to Johannesburg, But won’t be making the return flight from Johannesburg on April 14th. We’ll try for a refund for the return portion of the flight, but doubt we’ll get that.

Bushbucks eating pellets in the bush. Tom tossed them far out to them so the warthogs wouldn’t scare them away.

I already spent 30 minutes on hold with Kenya Airways to cancel our flight to Kenya and back, due to the Kenyan lockdown. Their website isn’t user-friendly and there are 404 messages on the refund page. We’ll try calling again later today and continue to work on attempting to get a refund.

If Kenya Airways doesn’t provide the refund, we’ll have no choice but to contact our credit card company who will assist in processing the refund. We had to do this in 2019 and they were very helpful, providing us with the refund promptly, especially now in light of Covid-19.

Kudu in the bush watching for the pellet situation.

As of this moment, we have canceled two hotel bookings, Little Governor’s Camp and the car rental we’d booked for April 14th when we were scheduled to return to South Africa. We’ll have lost the cost we paid for our Kenya visas for which paid over US $200, ZAR 3005. There is nothing we can do about that. If that is all the losses we incur due to the cancellation of the trip to Kenya, we can accept that.

Male bushbuck in the garden.

Today, we’ll book the hotel in Minneapolis but wait to book a hotel in Las Vegas until we know what date we can leave Minnesota to head to Nevada. Right now, we are working on booking the flight, which is all over the place with pricing and hidden charges, extra charges for basic seats, and baggage in some cases.

Tom just finished booking the flights which comprised of three flights with a 28 hour travel time. We’ll have to wait at the airport in Johannesburg for almost 8 hours before the first leg takes off, resulting in a 36 hour travel time with nowhere to sleep in between. We’ve done this before.

The pigs eat the seeds we put out for Frank and The Misses. We had to come up with another plan.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll visit Louise and Danie to tell them what’s happening and that we may not be back until May. No doubt, all of this is disappointing, but it’s the way it is, especially in times of Covid-19. We are both doing ok and we’ll be relieved when all the bookings and refunds are resolved.

Whew! Life goes on.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2020:

One year ago today, we posted this photo from 2018 taken in Kruger National Park. For more details, please click here.

Oh, oh, alarming news!…Everything could change!…

Bossy in the garden, posing for a photo.

Last night while out to dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, having our usual great time, commiserating with owners Dawn and Leon, and other guests, and also savoring a predictably fabulous dinner, I heard a notification ding on my phone. Although I have only a few app notifications set up to alert me, I took a peek to find this article:

“Kenya imposes new lockdown – What are the restrictions?

Kenya has imposed a new lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a ban on all inland travel in the capital Nairobi and out four other counties.

Kenya’s Covid-19 positivity rate has jumped from 2% to 22% between January and March and Nairobi accounts for nearly 60% of the cases- Kenyatta said that hospital admissions had increased 52% in the past two weeks and that at least seven people are dying every day from coronavirus.

This is Tiny searching in the garden for more pellets. He has a tendency to scare off all of the other animals.

What do the new measures mean?

No road, rail, or air transport will be permitted in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos, and Nakuru.

In-person, meetings will also be banned.

As for curfew, hours now start at 20:00 until 04:00 am (instead of 22:00 until 04:00 am`) in the five counties. Special passes that allowed people to travel during curfew hours have also been revoked.

Alcohol sales in the areas have also been banned and restaurants can only provide takeaway services.

The president also ordered “an immediate suspension of all face-to-face teaching, which includes universities”, with the exception of students currently taking exams.

Kenya reopened its schools and colleges in early January, which had been closed for ten months.

All sporting events are also suspended.

International travel is permitted, but subject to a negative coronavirus test.

The new measures begin on Friday at midnight.

These two warthogs are Narrow and The Imposter. A brave impala invaded the scene.

Coronavirus in Kenya

This week Kenya recorded between 1,000 and 1,500 cases per day.

“According to our health experts, our third wave started to gain strength in early March,” said Kenyatta.

The peak of this wave is expected in the next 30 days, with more than 2,500 to 3,000 cases per day,” he added.

Recognizing the impact these decisions will have on the economy, Kenyatta added that these “measures are temporary and necessary to contain the spread of the disease and therefore to stop further loss of life.”

“I am convinced that the cost of inaction would be much worse,” he said

At least it says that international travel is still allowed but the question becomes;  Will Little Governor’s Camp still be able to serve guests when restaurants and bars must be closed? A big part of the charm of the camp is the frequent arrival of elephants to the restaurant during mealtime.

This is Bossy and an unknown kudu. She usually waits for us in the driveway or the garden when we go out at night.

Will we, as guests, want a takeaway meal when part of the safari experience is delightful meal times, socialization, and good food, all of which are factored into the high daily cost. Would we even want to go if that’s the case? Probably not.

This morning, Saturday, I called two phone numbers for Little Governor’s Camp, but no management staff was available to answer our questions. Also, in both cases, the staff members answering the phones stated that on Monday, more news will be reported and they’ll know more about the restrictions and how they will impact the camp and the camp’s guests.

So what is Plan B, if, in fact, we cannot go on this planned adventure? I’m assuming we’ll be able to get a refund for the camp and flights. It will be trickier to get refunds for the flights, but in light of Covid, we may not have a problem. We can easily cancel all of the hotel bookings without an issue since they all had free cancellation policies. I’m not certain if we’ll be able to get a refund on the flights to and from Nelspruit to Johannesburg and back, which were booked separately, We shall see.

But, all of this hinges on what we find out on Monday or even as late as Tuesday. If we don’t go, we won’t have time to plan and book a trip to another location, apply for an online visa, etc. Honestly, neither of us feels like going through that again right now. Our only option with our South Africa visas expiring on April 12th, we’ll have no choice but to return to the US for a short stay.

Such a handsome male bushbuck.

In doing so, we’ll stay long enough to get our Covid-19 vaccines and then head back here. Depending on which vaccines we can arrange, we may be gone a month or more. It is during this time, we’ll see our family and take care of any business we need to address. We’ll go to Minnesota to see part of the family and then head to our state of residence, Nevada, where we’ll see eldest son Richard.

Once again, our lives are up-in-the-air due to Covid, uncertain of what the immediate future holds. At this point, neither of us is losing any sleep over this and will wait patiently for what transpires next week. We knew at some point, we’d have to return to the US to get the vaccine.

With upcoming cruises on the distant horizon and requirements for vaccines for all cruises, this may be as good a time as any to get it done. The likelihood of us getting a vaccine in South Africa is unlikely in the next few years. We’ll certainly keep you well-informed of the situation as it rolls out.

Note: In the past few minutes we received an email from Little Governor’s Camp. They are holding a managers meeting this afternoon to decide if they will close during the 60 day lockdown period or if they will stay open. We will report the results in tomorrow’s post.

Have a peaceful and fulfilling day, dear readers.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2020:

Beautiful statue at the beach in Pondicherry. For more photos, please click here.

It’s been a long and hard year for all of us…

The mongoose went on a frenzy taking the whole eggs out of the pan, cracking them on rocks, and eating the contents.

It’s easy to sit here in relative bliss in the bush, reveling in the endless treasures Mother Nature doles out day after day, combined with a pleasing social life, financial stability, and hopefully, improving good health. Tom takes no prescription medication and I’m down to two little tablets a day plus a baby aspirin and a small handful of supplements recommended as useful during the pandemic.

There’s little reason for us to worry or feel stressed. Sure, we’re concerned about the safety of leaving for Kenya in a mere 13 days and if we’ll be able to continue to avoid contracting Covid during the upcoming travel days and proximity to others on game drives.

Sure, we’re thinking about how we’ll be able to be vaccinated when more and more travel venues are requiring vaccinations to be able to cruise, fly, and use other means of transportation. But, this type of concern is no different from the concerns of many who are anxious to get back out there and travel once again. It’s been a hard year for all of us.

This morning’s mongoose mania in the garden. Tiny is in the background. He wasn’t thrilled to see the mongoose and headed out into the bush and waited for them to eventually leave.

When we look back at the past year, which is hard to avoid, my heart is heavy over the loss of my dear sister Susan in August 2020, with whom I shared a lifetime bond that was precious and meaningful. Through all these years of world travel, we spoke frequently, often every week, sharing stories, laughing, and dreaming for the future. I miss her.

Three other family members contracted Covid-19 and their recovery was frightening and worrisome. My other sister Julie still suffers from “long-haul” Covid symptoms. No doubt, many of you have lost loved ones and friends during the pandemic, leaving each of us saddened and heartbroken over the ravages of this relentless virus.

During that 10 months in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, it was easy to let my mind play tricks on me when even the slightest pain or discomfort made me concerned about how I’d be able to see a doctor with the poor conditions in India. It wasn’t safe to go out when doctors weren’t seeing patients, other than those with Covid in special facilities, often in a makeshift parking lot or tented areas.

The mongooses also like to drink out of the birdbath’s lower section. It’s comforting to be providing clean water for our visitors.

Most heart surgery patients are particularly sensitive about a moment of chest pain, breathlessness, or other potential heart attack or stroke symptoms. I’m no exception. It only takes a slight case of indigestion to make us worry it’s something more. Even at times, when Tom had an ache or pain, we wondered what we’d do, if seeing a doctor was necessary. Need I say, these situations were stressful.

The thought that I had an abscessed tooth weighed heavily on me during that period, wondering how serious it could get if left untreated for too long. As it turned out, as mentioned in a prior post, it wasn’t an abscess. It was a sinus infection or allergy as determined by a recent visit to a well-regarded oral surgeon in Malelane.

Then, there was the worry during the first five or six months that the hotel would close and we’d have nowhere to go. When our supplies ran low, we ordered a package of items from the US, which we couldn’t buy in India, only to spend months attempting to get the package delivered to us at the hotel, via FedEx.

The mongoose quickly gathered around the pan of whole eggs Tom placed on the ground. Also, we give them scraps of meat and fat since they are omnivores.

It was a nightmare when India had endless requirements with complicated forms and documents to complete in order to receive a package. It was a source of worry for months and especially, more so when we had to pay almost US $300, ZAR 4499, in customs fees.

Without a doubt, the circumstances could have been much worse. However, we humans may think that a situation could be more challenging, but find ourselves caught up in the situation at hand. It doesn’t help a person who’s broken their leg to say, “Well, you could have lost your leg.” It’s no different if someone said to me, “Get over the bites that itch all night long and keep you awake. You could have been bitten by a snake.” Everything is relative.

When we think of all the people who’ve lost their jobs, their businesses, their financial security, their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, we are saddened. None of us have been untouched by this in one way or another. These are difficult times.

This Mr. Bushbuck has longer horns than some males.

Today, not necessarily a special day, we reflect on the past year and celebrate the abundance and fulfillment we’re experiencing now. But, we’ll never forget this past year, nor should we. It’s a frame of reference that will always remind us to be grateful for what we have and how we’ve come out on the other side.

No, it’s not over yet, and the future is uncertain and frightening at times, but we carry on with hope in our hearts and optimism for the future.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2020:

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks earlier, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Later, in lockdown in Mumbai, it starting to look appetizing to both of us. For more, please click here.

Sleep…Vital…Elusive, at times…24 different beds…

Ms. and Young Mr. Kudu wait around knowing that the warthogs will prevent them from getting a single pellet.

Let’s face it. After uploading 3,144 posts in the past nine years, it’s highly likely some of our past post topics may be repeated from time to time. It’s inevitable. Oddly, I recall old post topics and am fully aware when we’re being repetitive. But, I also realize that many of our readers are newer and may not have read those past posts.

Is today’s repeated topic of sleep relevant to our world-travel-lifestyle warranting discussion on this site? I believe so for the following reasons:

They moved to another spot hoping their luck would change. Pigs won’t share with other species, although other species will often share with the pigs.

Adjusting to a different bed and location while traveling…

Many of us become accustomed to our own bed, having difficulty sleeping in a different bed from time to time. For us, sleeping in different beds is commonplace. In the past 14 months, most of which was during the pandemic, we’ve slept in 24 different beds, including hotels, on a train, near airports, on our private tours in India, and two here in Marloth Park, all the while considering the 10 months we spent in one hotel in Mumbai.

Until Tom did a thorough count this morning, we had no idea how many different beds we had to adjust to during this period of time. It’s no wonder sleep is elusive for us at times, which may be the case for other travelers as well.

Who would have thought that during the pandemic, we’d stay in 24 different hotels and subsequently different beds? Is there anything we could have done to lessen the requirement adaptation?  Here they are:

  1. Asking for a sufficient number of pillows and any special pillows and bedding we’ve found can aid us in sleeping better. Tom needs three pillows. I need two flat pillows and a third used under my laptop while sitting on the bed working. Be careful if your laptop gets hot on the bottom. Ours do not. Instead, ask the hotel staff for a tray.

    Nature isn’t always harmonious.

  2. Untucking the sheets at the foot of the bed. Neither of us can tolerate the tight bedding, which may prevent a good night’s sleep.
  3. Keeping a light on in the bathroom with the door closed or partially closed helps avoid that feeling of unfamiliarity that comes when awakening in the middle of the night in a strange location.
  4. Temperature control. We need a cool room in order to sleep. If air-con is not available, a fan is a must.
  5. Darkening the room to prevent awakening earlier than necessary.
  6. Noise control. If the room and/or surrounding area is noisy and you can’t sleep, ask to be moved to another room. Most facilities will comply with this request without an extra charge or hassle.
  7. Sticking to a regular bedtime schedule if possible. No, this is not always the case. At times, we’ve arrived at a hotel in the middle of the night, feeling wide awake from the travel commotion. Settling in after attempting to accomplish as many of these tasks as possible may be helpful.

    Finally, Tom managed to toss a few pellets their way.

  8. Sleep aids. There’s varying opinion on whether one should take any prescription or over-the-counter medications to aid in sleep. On occasion, we will use a local over-the-counter product, Somnil, when sleep is elusive, which in some countries is called Unisom. For those where there are Costco stores, the product is called Kirkland Sleep Aid. It’s also available on Amazon. Please check with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you, your health, and your lifestyle. Dr. Theo, here in SA, recommended this product to us. We don’t take Somnil if we aren’t able to sleep for eight hours, since it can cause morning drowsiness if an early flight or appointment is upcoming. We have never used any prescription sleep aids, nor will we.
  9. Camomile tea and other herbal teas. Last night, before bed, I drank a cup of Chamomile tea that I steeped for three minutes. I slept almost nine hours last night. Wow! I feel great today.

    Daily, Tom refills both the top and bottom sections of the peculiar Greek birdbath enabling all of the wildlife to drink fresh water.

  10. Relaxation and breathing techniques/videos/music may be helpful. Usually, when we have a lot on our minds, we have trouble sleeping. Being able to “turn off your brain” is crucial for getting a good night’s sleep. This breathing technique, 4-7-8 has been helpful for me on many occasions. For details and instructions, please see here.
  11. Not worrying about not sleeping. Generally, losing one night’s sleep isn’t going to cause any long-term health issues. Many times, we have flown on overnight flights, never sleeping more than one or two hours. Sure, we felt tired the next day. But after one good night’s sleep, we never give it another thought. Worrying about it only exacerbates the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

    At first, Tom didn’t think it was a good idea to put water in the bottom section, fearing the warthogs would break the structure. But, now, he sees how happy the animals are to get a drink of fresh water. Now he is convinced and refills it.

  12. Doing everything possible to treat medical conditions that may inhibit sleep. Lately, I have been covered in bites, like many others here in Marloth Park. I have tried dozens of remedies to avoid staying awake itching all night. The past few nights I wore long sleeve pajamas with tight-fitting leggings. I didn’t get any new bites and the fabric close to my skin seems to keep the itching at bay. I can’t say this will work for others, but it has helped me. Go figure. Whatever works. Now I’ve had two good night’s sleep in a row.
  13. Turn off digital equipment if possible a few hours before bed. I say this, but I don’t do it! I look at my phone, reading the news, and playing games when I can’t sleep. For me, I get bored and fall asleep. Doing this may be too stimulating for some and may contribute to poor sleep. Each of us is different. We continually strive to find what works best for us.
Tiny, who’s quite the loner has a new friend, we call Narrow, due to his narrow face. Narrow used to hang out with The Imposter  (who imitates Tiny) but now Narrow has gravitated to Tiny. We’ll see how this works out when The Imposter returns tonight when these two are most likely cuddled up.

Of course, countless books are written on this topic and we all may benefit from learning more and more about sleep from the experts. But, for us world travelers, sleeping in 24 different beds in 14 months, the above is what has worked for us. Yes, we have many nights when sleep is elusive. We both try not to worry about it and look forward to the next good night’s sleep.

For frequent travelers, there is an endless stream of adjustments we must make in order to enjoy our chosen lifestyle to the fullest. Each and every day we do our best to ensure we’re feeling our best. Sometimes we succeed and other times, we do not. But, isn’t that how life is about anyway, regardless of whether you travel or not?

Have a great day and a great night’s sleep tonight and always.

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2020:

The scene we traveled in India on the Toy Train. For more photos, please click here.

Back on top of the world…Memory of a terrifying morning, one year ago today…

It’s such a treat and a pleasure to enjoy a glass of red wine on the veranda at sundown.

While out-of-sorts yesterday after little sleep the prior night, somehow I managed to reset my phone to the factory settings, re-installing all of my favorite apps and restoring it in a manner to my liking. What a relief! Now, it’s working as it did when it was new. It’s a good feeling when all of our digital equipment is working properly.

Much to my disappointment, I noticed a spelling error on our site which mysteriously appeared after the most recent crash and restoration which I failed to notice. The word “Archive” in relation to our historic posts, is spelled “Archieve” an easy error to make when an India-Hindu/English-speaking company created and restored our site after the most recent crash several weeks ago.

I reported it to the web people and I imagine by the end of today, it will be corrected. Also, we lost the dates in front of each and every archived post which we had previously. This was extremely helpful for us, let alone our readers who may be going through each post from the beginning and would like to easily recall where they left off.

Last night, I managed to sleep almost eight hours. I wore my long-sleeve, winter PJs with long leggings keeping all my skin covered except my hands and feet. Before I went to bed, I slathered repellent on my hands and feet and around my neck and face.

We are thrilled to see so many animals drinking from the birdbath. It’s too close to the house to get birds, other than Frank but he and his family fulfill most of our birding aspirations right now.

In addition, late in the day, Tom sprayed the bedroom with Doom, leaving the door closed and the room unattended while the smell and chemicals dissipated sufficiently for us to eventually go to bed. I never got a single new bite overnight. Many of our readers have written with suggestions for my itching, which I thoroughly appreciate. But I’d already tried all of them already.

Plus, this isn’t a skin condition generated by my own body, such as dermatitis, eczema, or another such condition. It’s none of those. It’s bites of some sort. Thank you for all of your concerns and suggestions. Also, many other residents in Marloth Park are suffering from the exact same issue. It could be sand fleas, sandflies, chiggers, no-see-ums, or dust mites. It’s not mosquitos. Mosquito bites stop itching after four or five days. These bites continue to itch for weeks.

Anyway, a good night’s sleep has left me on top of the world today. Today is another cooler day. Right now it is only 77F, 25C. It’s very humid, but a far cry from what we’ve experienced over the past few months. The high today will be 81F, 22C, around noon, dropping from there. Wow! What a difference cooler weather makes in how we feel both mentally and physically.

On another note, It was one year ago today that we experienced that stressful morning when we were “kicked out” of the SunNSand Hotel in Mumbai, and sent to the Orchid Hotel where we were assured we had a reservation. Once we arrived at the Orchid, they had no idea who we were and were also closing the following morning.

Their amazing manager/concierge got to work on his phone and called one hotel after another looking for a safe place for us to stay. Without his help, the only option was for us to stay at a Covid-19 hotel packed with sick guests to stay while they recovered from the virus. There was no way we would have stayed in such a hotel.

Another enthusiastic drinker.

We wrote the following from that post:

“They had no record, whatsoever, of any reservation in our name, not for one night, let alone one month. Nor were they able to book us a room when they are closing tomorrow. Sun-n-Sand had pulled the wool over our eyes to get us out the door so they could close.

There we were hotels closing like dominoes falling, all over Mumbai along with owners of holiday homes not responding to our inquiries and literally nowhere for us to go. My heart was pounding in my chest. Tom kept reminding me to stay calm while we figured something out.

As much as the staff at The Orchid wanted to help us there was little they could do. The amazing hotel manager/concierge, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, immediately got to work trying with the utmost effort to find a solution for us.

I had visions of us standing outside the US Embassy in Mumbai with all of our baggage, pounding on the door trying to get help.”

Need a toothpick?

The heading of our post that day stated, “A morning from hell… OMG…OMG.” It was a terrifying morning when every hotel in the city of Mumbai was forced to close by the government, except for one… The Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport.

The kind man, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, arranged a taxi to take us to the Marriott. But even after we arrived, we were worried they, too, would close in a few days. It was months later that we could finally relax knowing they’d stay open during the 10 months we lived there in the lockdown. We will be eternally grateful they stayed open when at one point, there were only four rooms occupied by guests (including us) in the 330 room hotel.

Anytime in the future that we have an opportunity to stay at a Marriott Hotel we will, out of sheer loyalty to the fine company. Obviously, they lost huge sums of money staying open during the pandemic and hopefully will recover their losses in times to come, along with all the other business owners, and private parties, worldwide who have so dearly suffered during these challenging times.

And here we are, 70 days later, content to be in the bush and determined to stay until our next cruise after we’ve somehow managed to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Hopefully, we’ll be able to accomplish all of this in this upcoming year.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2020:

Gorgeous leis of flowers offered for sale for religious offerings. For more, please click here.

A lovely evening with friends in the bush…Technology issues…

Tom’s photo! Mr. Bushbuck sitting in the bush waiting for the warthogs to leave so he can have a few pellets.

We had such a great evening last night with Linda and Ken at our home for dinner. With no time constraints, a meal I’d mostly prepared ahead of time, the four of us sat out on the veranda, well into the evening, The bugs seemed to be repelled by the repellent candles and coils Tom placed in key spots on the veranda before they arrived. The weather was pleasant, warm and not at all uncomfortable.

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, while they were here, but enough to entertain us when peering out into the garden. A tiny frog, noisy as could be, made us laugh as she/he enjoyed the new birdbath, now filled with water from the rain. Since it’s close to the house for our easy viewing, few, if any birds will stop by. But, we’re certainly enjoying the wildlife, stopping for a drink of the freshwater.

A male bushbuck with a plant growing from his muddy hoof after a big storm. This makes us laugh.

At the moment as I write, Bennie, Hennie, and Lennie are resting in the garden within three meters of us. Periodically, one will groom another, a common practice among warthog family/friend groups. We’re assuming they’re related based on their similar characteristics, with tiny tusks and good-sized warts.

A female they seemed to know stopped by to join them in the past few days. Actually, she could also be a family member. Warthogs generally give birth to four or fewer piglets based on the fact they have four teats. It’s amazing how nature takes care of itself.

Last night, I didn’t get much sleep. In the past several days, I have been bitten by something that left me itching all over again, all night long. My arms and legs are covered in red, swollen, itchy bites that were itching more and more throughout the night. I’d taken an antihistamine which provided no relief and used every anti-itch cream I had on hand, trying to get some relief.

Although she looks small in this photo she is a good-sized kudu. Known as the Greater Kudu, females can weigh up to 400 pounds, 181 kg, while males may weigh up to 620 pounds 181 kg.

As a result, I didn’t sleep more than four hours, according to my Fitbit. I managed to use Crazy Glue to glue the parts to my Fitbit together to keep the band together, until my new one arrives sometime in the future in the package we’re ordering from the US in the next few days, once the night trail cam arrives at our mailing service in the next few days.

I am definitely not my spunky self today. Hopefully, this afternoon a short nap will revive me a little. Last night, I only drank two small glasses of my low-alcohol wine and by 6:00 pm, (1800 hours), I switched over to iced tea for the remainder of the evening, so that didn’t keep me awake.

For red wine enthusiasts, you know how easily one glass too many at a social function can impede a good night’s sleep. I’m always very mindful of this for that very reason and with consideration of long-term health. A good night’s sleep is vital to the quality of how one feels the following day and also the overall well-being into the future.

A young male kudu, with Bossy in the background. He could easily be her son from several seasons ago. She stood still for almost an hour watching him out of the corner of her eye while he ate pellets.

The past few days I noticed my phone was acting up. We purchased two pricey Google Pixel 4XL phones in December 2019 before we left the US for India the following month. So far we’ve been thrilled with the performance of our phones until about three days ago I began having trouble opening some of my apps, but not all of them. This was frustrating.

This morning, after the fitful night’s sleep, during which I wasn’t able to play one of my favorite games to lull me back to sleep, I knew I had to do something. I had no choice after trying many options but to do an entire factory reset. Since I didn’t have an old phone from which to copy all the files, I am now, as I write here, stopping every few minutes to download yet another app to restore my phone to its original apps and settings.

I took a photo of all of my apps to refer to when downloading many of my favorites, knowing I could have taken screenshots. But, as cumbersome as Chromebook is, I preferred to take the photos as opposed to downloading screenshots to my drive. I still miss the convenience and ease of Windows 8 with easy access to folders on the desktop.

Check out the length of the horns on this male bushbuck. These seeming sweet animals could inflict serious harm or a fatality if frightened into protecting themselves. Otherwise, they appear very gentle.

Those days are long gone based on new operating systems available in the marketplace today. More and more systems will go to the use of a drive/cloud for storage as opposed to locally stored files on our own system, which I always preferred, being responsible for saving my data as I preferred. Oh well.

By the end of today, tired as I am, I’ll have everything set up on my phone as I prefer and can put this small inconvenience behind me. For the remainder of today, a nap, and maybe watch another episode of “Fear of the Walking Dead” which I’m streaming during the day when Tom is busy with Ancestry.com and Facebook, his two favorite pastimes. Of course, at night, when we’re done sitting on the veranda and well after dinner, we always watch an episode or two of a streamed show together, of a favorite show we’re binge-watching.  For today, that’s all the energy I have.

Have a fantastic day, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2020:

The two dining cars on the train, The Maharajas Express, were tastefully appointed with the finest dinnerware and table settings. For more photos, please click here.

A storm unlike any other…Power stayed on!…Yeah!..Wet, humid and muddy terrain…

Wildebeest Willie, also known as a gnu, gave us quite a thrill when he arrived. In no time at all, two more Willies stopped by. It’s nice to see the animals drinking from the bird bath.

Last night, our dinner reservation at Jabula was canceled via text, due to the outrageous storm that started around 4:00 pm (1600 hours). We hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner, not anticipating we’d be dining at home. With the prospect and the likelihood of the power going out due to the thunder, lightning, winds, and rain, we were at a loss as to what to eat for dinner.

It’s not as if we have a freezer filled with prepared store-bought frozen foods. We only consume fresh, non-processed meals with the exception of a few canned fish, zero-carb condiments such as mustard, and a few spices. We were at a loss as to what we’d prepare. With all the meat frozen it would have taken hours for anything to defrost.

But, they say, “A drink from the pool is quite acceptable.”

The stovetop and oven are electric and with the lights blinking off and on during the storm, Tom suggested we have tuna salad with hard-boiled eggs. The trick would be to get the eggs boiled before the power went out. We hurried and placed six eggs in a saucepan of purified water and put it on high.

If we were able to get a strong boil, we could turn off the burner and let the eggs finish cooking in the pan with its lid on, the method we typically use to make hard-boiled eggs. Thirty-minutes after turning off the burner with the lid on the pan, the eggs would be cooked perfectly. We held our breath while the pan of eggs came to a boil. As soon as the strong boil started, the power went out and we immediately covered the eggs. Whew! We’d have tuna salad after all.

And then, there were three.

We made a huge batch, dividing it between two plates, and enjoyed our dinner inside the house. There was no way we could sit outdoors while the pouring rain continued. Shortly, before we ate, the power resumed and much to our surprise, we had electricity all night. We’d heard several homes in Marloth Park are still without power, yet to be restored. We dodged a bullet.

Tom just read me a message on Facebook from the Marloth Park Municipality stating there’s a water shortage. Apparently, it was a busy weekend with holidaymakers staying at many bush homes in the park, using water resources. We’ve all been asked to reduce our water consumption over the next several days.

They shared the pellets harmoniously.

The property owners and managers have struggled during the pandemic with few tourists booking any of the properties. Many bush homes have sat empty for over a year. It’s been a tough time here as well as all over the world. With Easter weekend coming up soon, there will be more activity in Marloth Park, not many foreigners, but more likely South African citizens.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner arriving at 4:00 pm (1600 hours) for sundowners and starters (appetizers). This morning, while it was still cool and before working on today’s post, I spent time in the kitchen prepping most of the meal. We’ll start with a wide array of starters and finish a few hours later, cooking lemon pepper seasoned flatties (flat cut whole chickens) which Tom will prepare on the braai, along with rice, roasted vegetables, and a green salad with fresh feta and grape tomatoes. We won’t be having a dessert after such a hearty meal.

Other wildlife was on the sidelines, but thought twice before entering the space of this trio.

We’ve had a number of visitors this morning, including more wildebeest which stopped by yesterday before the storm, as shown in today’s photos, Several bushbucks, kudus, and an endless stream of warthogs, commonly seen most days, made a visit. Frank and The Misses have been hanging around regularly, often right at our feet asking for seeds. We don’t waste a moment offering them a good-sized portion.

Speaking of sightings in the garden, last night for the fourth time, Tom spotted the porcupine run across the garden. I have yet to see it, although I look for it many times during the evening. They are nocturnal. We’re considering purchasing a waterproof night-vision trail cam before our shipment goes out in the next few days. Amazon will deliver it to our mailing service in 24 hours in time for the shipment to go out to us. We’ll check this out today and decide on which model to purchase.

A new female warthog we don’t recognize. If she continues to return, we’ll give her a name.

Now I need to get back to work on the treadmill which I avoided this morning while busy in the kitchen and also finish some tasks for tonight’s dinner guests.

We hope you’ll have as good a day as we expect to have. It’s cooler today after the rain, although very muddy and humid. But, that won’t keep us from having a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2020:

What beautiful sunsets over the Arabian Sea while we sat outdoors by the pool awaiting our fate as Mumbai began to shut down. For more, please click here.