Getting organized in the house…Many new visitors…

This Big Daddy jumped over the fence to see what treats we may have for him while his brothers grazed beyond the fence.

Since we’ve been sick for two days after we arrived last Tuesday, other than unpacking, we haven’t had time to get organized in the house. We’ve finally worked out a sound system for doing laundry. Danie delivered the clothes rack, making it easier for me to hang clothes. After having open-heart surgery in 2019, I can’t easily raise my arms over my head. Using an outdoor clothesline is impossible for me. This was an easy solution with a good-sized clothes rack in the outside laundry area.

With that problem solved, Louise brought over some items to make life easier for us, including some kitchen items. The spice drawer in the kitchen was already stocked with our spices. All I need to purchase when we go to Spar next is garlic and chili powder to make the spice mix for taco salad which we’ll make some time in the future when we’re feeling better and can eat spicy food.

This morning, we made a good-sized bowl of chicken salad with the leftover chicken breasts from last night’s dinner. We boiled a dozen eggs, peeled and chopped them when they cooled, and chopped celery and purple onion while I made the delicious sour cream dressing. We tossed it all together and placed it in the refrigerator to chill for tonight’s dinner. There should be enough left for tomorrow’s dinner too.

A warthog we don’t recognize. Once we get to know them better, we’ll begin assigning names.

It took everything we had to make the salad when we both were weak and out of sorts. Diarrhea has stopped, but we both still have a long way to be our old selves. Hopefully, we’ll feel well enough to go to Jabula for our usual Friday night dinner by Friday evening. We’ll play that by ear. Right now, it would be impossible. Neither can stand for long, let alone keep our heads up to sit at the bar.

Somehow, I managed to get the laundry done, doing a little bit at a time. When it is so cool outside, it takes two or three days for everything to dry outdoors when not in direct sunlight. Tom has stayed on top of all the dishes and kitchen clean-up. So, the house is orderly and ready for our needs right now.

Vusi just arrived to clean the house and change the bedding. He and Zef don’t clean on the weekends, and the floors get very dusty with the doors wide open. With no screens on the doors and the dusty terrain, it’s no wonder the house gets dusty in a hurry. But, we’re used to this fact and take it in our stride. We are so grateful to have Zef and Vusi taking care of us.

Since we haven’t been outdoors much, fewer animals have stopped by, but we notice that more visitors come to call each time we sit out there. This morning, we saw duikers, bushbucks, warthogs, kudus, and many helmeted guinea fowl who like to get in on the pellet offerings.

More Big Daddies in the garden.

The remainder of the week will be spent taking care of our health. We hadn’t had a sundowner since the first night we arrived when we dined at Jabula. There’s no way a drink sounded good when suffering from gastrointestinal distress, and even yet, I can’t imagine sipping on a glass of light red wine. It makes my stomach turn. Friends Linda and Ken in the UK, who got Covid a week after us, still avoid happy hour when they don’t feel right either.

Do we have lingering effects from Covid? Right now, it’s hard to tell the difference if we’re sick from the residue from Covid or the gastro infections. We feel wiped out and lethargic. Last night after dinner, I was feeling awful. I drank a glass of water with electrolytes, which helped a little. I can’t get any water down today, but I am drinking a Sprite Zero. It seems as if the bubbles offer some relief like 7-Up, which seems to help when sick.

We are looking forward to being excited, upbeat, and positive once again as we embrace the usual pleasant life in the bush. We are anxious to get back to Kruger National Park to see what we can find in the way of big game and, of course, to see our human friends as well.

Take care, and have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2021:

Crooked Face, a unique and handsome devil. For more photos, please click here.

Light at the end of the tunnel…Hopefully, we’re on the mend…A doctor, like none other…

A baby duiker with her mom was the first sighting for us.

I awoke at 1:30 am and never went back to sleep. Surely, that’s a result of napping on and off all day which with this bacterial infection it’s hard for us not to do. Yesterday, Tom napped for three hours straight, but he could sleep during the night, although he woke up several times while I mindlessly played scrabble with strangers on my phone.

Yeah, I know the deal about “screen time” at night, but after countless tries without it, I still couldn’t get to sleep and just gave up trying. Worrying about not sleeping doesn’t help. I resigned myself to this reality and beat the heck out of several players, one after another. At least if I was going to be awake, I might as well enjoy some lively competition.

Before bed, we continue to watch Outlander on Netflix. We are on Season 3 with two more seasons to go. What a show! But in our weakened state the past several nights, we had an awful time staying awake, later re-watching the portions we’d missed. Tonight, I’ll have a heck of a time staying awake after dinner. If I take a nap today, I’ll ask Tom to wake me up after 20 minutes.

Last night, Tom drove to Jabula to get takeaway food for us. Doc Theo suggested I eat lean meat and pumpkin which is easy on the digestive tract, so I ordered roasted chicken, and butternut which is comparable to pumpkin. It tasted so good after not eating for a few days. For the first time in days, I was hungry. Tom enjoyed his chicken, rice, and creamed spinach, and the meal sat well with both of us.

In the past, we couldn’t get this close to shy duikers. It’s such a pleasure to see them get so close to the house.

As we were placing our food on plates since we don’t like to eat out of styrofoam containers, Danie showed up at the door. He said, “Hey, man, are you guys ok? Doc Theo was trying to call you Friday night and he’s worried that you didn’t answer”  I had left the phone on, next to me Friday night. He didn’t have the correct phone number for me.

He told Danie if we weren’t feeling better, please go to the hospital for IV solutions and more treatment and not wait until Monday when we could see him again. But, we were feeling better, drinking plenty of fluids, and felt like we were turning the corner. Danie called Theo back to tell him we were alive, improving, and thanks for worrying about us. It was almost 7:00 pm, 1900 hrs, on Saturday night, and Theo was worrying about us. Bless his heart.

Where in the world would we ever find such a doctor who cared this much? Nowhere we’ve ever been. After all, Theo diagnosed my painful jaw as a dangerous indication of heart disease and a potential immediate heart attack or stroke. Good grief! The man saved my life, and here he was, once again, providing a level of care that is rarely found anywhere. We are very grateful.

Mom and Babies and another female arrived early this morning. Most likely, the extra female is from Mom’s last litter.

Feeling a little better today, although we still have a way to go tonight; we’ll make chicken breasts on the braai with rice for Tom and sauteed mushrooms we have on hand. It will be an easy meal to make. All I will do is season the chicken, after which Tom will place it on the grilling rack, then cook the rice and the mushrooms in garlic and butter. It’s great we have a gas stove and oven in this house. When there’s load shedding, we can still use the stove.

Louise offered to cook for us, but we insisted we’ll figure it out, and we have. Here again, is it any wonder we love being in Marloth Park? Our friend’s and medical professionals’ love and kindness are enough motivation to be here.

We haven’t seen many animals the past several days since we’ve been hunkered down in the bedroom resting day and night. However, this morning, Mom and Baby warthogs returned, along with a first for us, a Mom and Baby duiker. What a sweet sighting.  Of course, we took a few photos we’ll share here soon.

Every so often, we check outdoors as we continue to rest and recover. We won’t hesitate to offer pellets to any of our visiting new friends. Many more visitors will stop by once we are better and can spend all of our time on the veranda.

Have a safe and healthy day.

Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2021:

Hal and Crooked Face were standing at the veranda railing that morning, awaiting their pellets. For more photos, please click here.

We’re baaaack!!!…You won’t believe this…Why we’ve been away…

Mom and Babies…

I wish we’d never have to write about being sick. But, with our commitment to always “tell it like it is,” we feel compelled to share every aspect of our lives of world travels with our readers. Even if we didn’t travel, we’d be sick from time to time. Would it be so unusual for a senior citizen to get sick once or twice a year with a cold, flu, or a virus? Certainly not.

Of course, some people never become ill, and we surely envy their sturdiness. But, we aren’t quite so fortunate. Why? We don’t know. We certainly strive to live a healthy lifestyle. Tom is considerably less likely to become ill than I am. He takes no medication and has no known conditions in his almost 70 years.

But, I don’t see him doing anything more diligently than I do, yet I fall prey to various illnesses throughout the year. This frustrates me, the person who has strived for good health all of my life through a healthy diet, exercise, and positive attitude. I guess I am missing something, or perhaps, genetics plays a more significant role than I’d thought.

Soon, the scary processionary caterpillars will arrive.

Our recent bad bout of Omicron left us both reeling with exhaustion and lingering effects, most of which continue to subside day by day. Tom had fully recovered from Covid pneumonia. We both only have a tickle of cough on occasion.

When we arrived in Marloth Park on Tuesday, although exhausted from the long journey but we both knew a few good night’s sleep, we’d recover from the two-day trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, back to South Africa, the last leg of which was a 15-hour red-eye in the coach. We each only slept an hour or two, sitting straight up in our seats. The remainder of the time was spent watching movies on the entertainment screens at our seats.

Once in Marloth Park, we were excited to complete the recovery of Covid while resting from the long journey and being fit and chipper to cherish our time back in the bush. But that was not the case.

On Wednesday, we both started experiencing severe diarrhea and stomach pain. I was feeling nauseous and very ill, Tom less so. By Wednesday evening, I had a fever and lay under four blankets on the bed, shivering all night. I took two Paracetamol (Tylenol) every six hours to keep the temperature down but never slept a wink due to the constant need to run to the bathroom and the awful feeling of having a fever.

Big Daddy stopped by to check out the action in the garden.

Thursday, I never left the bed other than to shower and run to the bathroom. Tom was struggling as well, but not quite as bad. I couldn’t eat, knowing the result would be more trips to the bathroom, but I didn’t have an appetite. By Thursday night, we acknowledged that we needed to see Doc Theo as soon as we could get an appointment, hopefully on Friday with the weekend coming.

Our appointment was scheduled for 2:30 pm, 1430 hrs, but we arrived 30 minutes earlier, and he could see us. At that point, I could barely keep my head up. We told Theo about our awful bouts of Covid and Tom’s pneumonia. He explained that Covid weakens the immune system, which is most likely why we’d both become sick at this time.

He diligently examined each of us. He ordered blood tests just for me since, most likely, we had the same affliction. He noted my case was much worse than Tom’s since he’d been on antibiotics for pneumonia only a week or two earlier, which provided him some lingering protection.

The testing lab is across the street from the doctor’s office. There was no way I could have walked, so we drove. We went back to Theo’s office to await the results. In no time at all, he called us back into his office and said I had a severe gastrointestinal infection, either e-coli or salmonella. Tom has a lighter version. How did he know Tom’s was less? From palpating our stomachs. Mine was tender to the touch where Tom’s was not. Plus, Tom’s symptoms were less severe.

He prescribed a litany of medications for each of us. Tom didn’t need antibiotics which was good since he’d recently been on two. But, he prescribed Cipro and other meds for me. Cipro is commonly used in Africa to treat bacterial infections which is what I have.

When we arrived at the pharmacy i brought the prescriptions inside and handed them to the pharmacist. But moments later I could no longer stand and went back to the car, asking Tom to go inside and collect them when they were ready. By 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., we were back at the house, began taking our meds while I headed back to bed. We had scrambled eggs for dinner, the first food we had eaten all day. But, within minutes of eating, the rushing to the bathroom began again.

This morning I am a little better, and so is Tom. We are hopeful we are on the mend. How we got this dreadful infection is unknown to us. We went over everything we ate and drank, and there is nothing we ate the same except for the dinner we made at the house, salad (unbagged), rice (for Tom), and meat, nothing that should have caused an issue. But one never knows. It could have been either the salad or the beef, which was fresh when we cooked them.

So, that, dear readers, is why we didn’t do a post yesterday, nor did we take any new photos. I’m still not up to sitting outdoors and watching our animal friends visit. But that will come in time, and for that, we can hardly wait.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2021:

Tiny never disappointed us. His gentle nature and interest in us was delightful. Of course, he enjoyed pellets, carrots, apples, and bird seeds from time to time. We never saw him again after we returned from the US at the end of July. For more photos, please click here.

Adaptation is the name of the game…

Tom was feeding eggs to a large band of mongooses. We were happy to see them since they can keep the snake population at bay around the house.

As much as we love being back in Marloth Park, we realize we need to adapt once again after being in the US for almost two months. No, it’s not as if we were out and about much while there, but we quickly rolled back into our old ways of the conveniences offered in the US. Of course, prices on everything are reflected in the significant price differential.

Mom and Babies!

But the differences aren’t all wrapped up in making purchases. They are mainly centered around the nuances of daily life. Here are some examples:

  1. Each time we go inside the house from the veranda, we have to bring our laptops and phones inside with us, even if we are going to the bathroom or getting a coffee cup and closing and closing the doors. There are two reasons for this. Some thieves watch the bush houses to see if anything valuable is left outside. Two, the baboons and monkeys could get into the house or damage the equipment outdoors.
  2. It’s a long drive to the market, about 25 minutes. The little local markets have very few items. Yesterday I needed sour cream to make salad dressing. There was none to be found anywhere in Marloth Park or any salad dressing other than Greek which neither of us likes.
  3. Extra care must be taken when using the septic system and hot water.  Generally, the water pressure is low.
  4. Load shedding: This occurred (power outage) last night from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm and can occur twice to four times a day. It will happen again tonight at the same time as last night. We ensure we’ve had dinner, are doing the dishes, and have battery-operated lights handy.
  5. WiFi can go out during load shedding or other times. Since Louise and Danie installed inverters for us, we’ll have WiFi on most occasions to stream our shows at night.
  6. There is no dishwasher at this house and never a clothes dryer. Zef and Vusi will do our laundry, but we’ll do our own once it’s busy here.
  7. Extra caution must be exercised when driving to avoid hitting the animals crossing the road. This includes watching for snakes, rodents, dung beetles, and mongooses.
  8. No TV on the main floor. It’s not that we spend time watching TV; we don’t. But we may check out news from time to time. Instead, we use our phones and laptops for news updates.
  9. We must drive small, inexpensive cars due to recent increases in car rental prices. These car types don’t handle the pot-hole-ridden dirt roads very well in Marloth Park.
  10. Insects, mosquitoes, snakes, and other “creepy crawlers” are in the bush year-round, although they are considerably less right now since winter is approaching. (We are in the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite the Northern Hemisphere). It’s necessary to use powerful insect repellent at all times of the year on all exposed skin.
  11. Limited shopping. If we need a clothing item, there isn’t a local shop that will carry the products we’d be interested in buying. Online stores have inconsistent sizing, making it difficult to order anything online and feel assured it will fit. If we need non-clothing items, brand names are expensive since they are imported.
  12. Shipping items from the US is costly. A typical 20-pound, 9 kg package can cost around the US $400, ZAR 6277 when it’s necessary to use fast shipping through DHL or FedEx and pay customs fees when the items arrive.
  13. Problems using ATMs. If an ATM is not associated with a specific bank and is located at a bank, it’s challenging to get the machines to work to obtain cash. When we arrived in Johannesburg, we had to go to four ATMs to get one to work. This is common.
  14. Due to Covid and employee shortages, it isn’t easy to get responses from many service-orientated businesses.

    An adorable male duiker stopped by.

Well, I suppose I could go on and on. But, what it boils down to is that we so appreciate the wildlife, the scenery, and the people, items such as the above are a small price to pay. In no time at all, we get into the groove, finding ourselves comfortable and fitting into the environment.

This morning we had no less than 25 impalas in the garden with one male and the rest females and babies. It’s called a harem.

Last night’s dinner of well-seasoned bacon-wrapped filet mignon, rice (for Tom), and a big salad was all we needed. We cooked on the braai whilel it was dark outside, and we still had electricity for lights. It was terrific dining at the outdoor table amid the night sounds of the bush.

Our first wildebeest visitor ate some pellets and took a nap outside our bedroom window.

Yesterday, I made the terrible mistake of taking a two-hour nap during the day, which I never do. As a result, sleep was elusive last night. Today, I’ll be more careful and not sleep until bedtime. Since we were infected with Covid, we both have been napping on and off during the day. Hopefully, soon, the need to do that will pass.

Our wildebeest stopped for a drink from the pool before he left with a female impala looking on.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2021:

Frank and The Misses share their seeds with two hornbills. They all got along quite well. We haven’t seen any francolins here yet. But, we set up the bird feeder and shall see what happens. For more photos, please click here.

It’s great to be back…It’s heavenly!!!…

This is Nina, the nyala mom, who Louise named.

We are unpacked and sitting on the veranda, drinking coffee on a perfect weather day. We couldn’t stay awake when we went to bed at 9:00 pm to watch another episode of Outlander on my new laptop. We turned off the computer and the portable speaker that helps Tom hear the shows we’re streaming and drifted off.

We both woke up for a few minutes during the night but fell back to sleep after chatting a little. Today, we feel great. There is no jet lag, and most of the Covid symptoms are almost entirely gone except for an occasional cough, runny nose, and headache. Tom has fully recovered from pneumonia.

This is dad nyala, whom we named Norm.

Last night we arrived at Jabula for dinner to a warm welcome from Dawn and assistant David, and other staff. We sat at the bar and had an adult beverage for the first time in over a month. I slowly sipped on two small glasses of Skinny Red wine that Dawn keeps stocked for me, and Tom had his usual Klipdrift brandy and Sprite Zero.

The food was perfect as always, but by 8:00 pm, we were on our way back to the house. We needed to sleep more than we needed to socialize. On Friday evening, we’ll return to Jabula for dinner, and being rested; we’ll enjoy the social time all the more.

As it turned out we lost several non-perishable food items we’d stored in the storeroom of this house while we were gone, including one bottle of perfume, when baboons had broken a window and got into the single cabinet and had gone through our stuff. They went through all four plastic bins looking for food but destroyed many items.

This is son nyala, whom we named Noah with dad Norm in the background..

Zef and Vusi went through everything, tossed the damaged items, and cleaned off the salvageable items. Louise warned us to be very careful with doors open since baboons getting inside the house and wreaking havoc have been a real issue at this house. We can’t ever go inside without closing all the doors, and all windows must be locked and closed when we leave.

We have been careful with this potential problem in the past and will be so again in this house. Speaking of the house, we love it here. We’ve managed to make to find a place for everything. Zef took our laundry today and will return it washed and dried tomorrow. For the first time in the bush, we’ll have them do our laundry, which we’d always done ourselves in the past. There is a washer out in the back of the garden, and if we want to, we can wash a few items ourselves as needed.

Noah,, is already bigger than his mom, Nina.

Tonight, we will stay here and enjoy dining on the veranda. We’ve had several visitors so far, but it will take a few days for them to know we are here. So far, this morning, we’ve had impala, bushbucks, duikers, and warthogs. Yesterday, we had a massive band of mongoose stop by, but since we didn’t have any paloney yet, we gave them some of our eggs until we went to Komati and shop sometime next week.

Soon, we drive to the little local market for a few items. I forgot to tell Louise when I made the grocery list I’d given her when I still had brain fog from Covid, which is improving each day.

Nina and Noah grazing on the grass and pellets. They have stripes similar to kudus.

We are excited to share some photos finally. But, they were taken at a distance. I’ll start using the camera and my phone since the camera has a better ability to zoom in. We’re trying to keep the animals from coming up onto the veranda at this house based on the layout, the pool’s wood surface, and the plants we’re trying to protect in the garden.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Of course, we will be back with much more in days, weeks, and months. Soon, we will start working on where we’ll go when our 90-day visa is up and report what we decide here.

Be well.

Photo from one day ago today, May 25, 2021:

This is a Thick Neck. He’s an older bushbuck with long horns and an oversized girth to his neck. He stops by daily. For more photos, please click here.

Only a short time until we’re back in the bush…

On our way out of the Nelspruit airport, we spotted the dark brown impala we’d seen during past trips to the airport from last time he was a little calf. Now he’s fast growing to adulthood. There was also a female but we weren’t able to take a good photo of her.

We are seated on the final flight of this long journey from Las Vegas, Nevada, the USA, to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger. Within the next two hours, we will arrive in Marloth Park. We will be more at ease when done with the 90-minute drive on the dangerous N4 highway, which is rife with car jackings. 

We stayed at the  Tambo Airport City Lodge Hotel in Joburg to avoid driving that road at night. The 15-hour flight from Newark was relatively smooth, with little turbulence over the ocean. 

Gosh, we have crossed the Atlantic Ocean four times in the past two months since we left South Africa two months ago. So much happened in the past two months. We won’t reiterate them here, ad nauseam. We have said enough already.

But even this morning at the airport, we stumbled upon another example of human error when we checked our bags at the Airlink counter. They couldn’t find the information that we paid for our bags in Las Vegas and wanted to charge us again. 

We showed them our all-the-way-through itinerary that included our baggage purchases at the beginning. After a 25-minute delay, they finally figured it out, and they let us go through without additional payment.  We always book the entire trip, including short flights, to avoid extra baggage fees. But it was just “one more thing” we encountered on this trip.

We had a great time in Florida with friends Karen and Rich at their lovely waterfront home in Apollo Beach. Plus, we had an absolute blast during the first eight days of the cruise, and it was downhill from there. On disembarkation day, we found ourselves on the “COVID bus” to our hotel with dozens of other sick passengers.

Last night, after the 15-hour flight, we could finally get to our hotel room. It was so cold in the hotel and our room that we couldn’t warm up, partly due to our exhaustion and the low temps in Joburg.  We didn’t sleep much. My feet were so cold. We went to bed at 9:30, but it was early morning to us. We each dozed about an hour on the plane, certainly not enough to ease the tiredness, and perhaps another two or three hours during the night at the hotel.

We just were informed by the pilot to prepare for landing. We will be on the ground and anxious to be on our way in moments. We’ll pick up yet small, affordable rental car and be on our way.

In a few hours, we will be at our new holiday home in the bush, a colorful, African-themed, unique house with everything we could need or want. Louise never misses a beat in ensuring that the property suits our taste and desires wherever we rent.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our house, the garden, and our new animal friends. In no time at all, we’ll be reconnecting with our human friends as well.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2021:

This mongoose must have been injured and lost hers/his lips. Possibly, due to inbreeding, it could have been a congenital disability. But they were as rowdy as the others for some paloney and eggs. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move…Travel day#1…Flight got canceled…

This was our limo this morning to the airport from Green Valley Ranch Resort.

We are at the United gate at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, waiting to board our new flight in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon, I got a text on my phone stating that our 7:00 am flight to Newark was canceled, and the new flight would depart at 10:28 am. We got excited about the change, which meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport three hours early, as required, by 4:00 am.

The message stated that we’d have to book different seats on the new flight. Immediately, we checked online, only to find two seats left, one a window and another a middle seat in different rows, both of which we don’t like. We both prefer aisle seats and had previously booked our seats across the aisle from one another. But, this leg of our journey is slightly less than five hours, and we can manage this situation.

Unbelievably, United doesn’t credit passengers for their previous seat purchases when flights change. We’d paid extra on the old flight for better seats but had to take the two lousy seats that were available without the possibility of a refund. Go figure. They get you coming and going, duh, literally.

This morning, another text arrived stating the flight would be departing until 10:55 am, a change that didn’t make a difference to us one way or another. We’d already arranged our ride to the airport, and it was too late to change it. We were scheduled to be picked up by the limo at 7:00 am, but then, at 6:25, I received a text from the driver that he had arrived and if we were ready to go.

The interior of the limo.

We figured we’d either be waiting in the hotel lobby or at the airport. That was fine. By 6:40, our bags were loaded, and we were in the limo on the short 12-minute drive to the airport. The cost for the limo with tip was US $100. But, with this big festival going on in Las Vegas, there were no Ubers, Lyfts, or taxis available. We had no choice but to take the limo at four times the cost of a taxi. We felt we were lucky to get a ride at all. We weren’t about to complain about that.

Little did we know the driver would arrive in a black stretch limo. Gosh, I can’t recall the last time I rode in one of those. Riding in a limo has never been important to either of us. But I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. At least I’d have something to add to today’s post when the photo ops were slim. It was a far cry from the small rental car we’ll be driving on the N4 from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when we arrive in two days. As long as we have transportation, we don’t give it much thought.

Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered curbside check-in for United. But the rep explained that due to our international connection, we’d have to go to the ticket counter for United, using the kiosk to get our bags checked, receive our boarding passes, scan our passports and show our PCR test.

The kindly reps at the kiosk who assisted passengers were unaware that South Africa doesn’t allow entry from US passengers with only a CDC white vaccination card. When we showed them the comments on entry restrictions on their screen, which clearly stated that PCR or Antigen tests were required and CDC cards alone wouldn’t do, they were shocked. They had no idea. They said many passengers scheduled for flights for South Africa were in for a big surprise.

It was Tom who found this new requirement online. The reps were surprised we found the small print about the change in this requirement. What a nightmare that could have been.

Slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas.

Then, our bags were then whisked away to the check-in counter, where they were weighed. All four of our checked bags, none of which required payment for an international flight, were weighed and none were overweight. We had weighed all of them in our hotel room on our travel scale, which miraculously has lasted for over 9½ years.

We breezed through security and made our way to the gate, where we are still sitting with my phone plugged into the charger on the seat. By the time we get on the plane, my phone and this laptop will be 100% charged. Apparently, based on the new location of our seats on this first flight, there are no plug-ins for devices. Good grief.

With only a two-hour layover in Newark, based on the flight cancellation, we are grateful for, as opposed to the previous six-plus-hour layover, I wouldn’t have had time to do today’s post. Since we arrived at the Las Vegas airport so early, I had ample time to upload a post. There are slot machines about 20 feet from us, but we don’t play.

Tom offered to get me a cup of decaf coffee, but after waiting in line at a Starbucks, he discovered they didn’t sell decaf. That’s weird. I’ll wait and have coffee on the plane in about two hours.

Ah, dear readers, this has been one long and difficult time in the US. We saw son Greg and the three grandchildren in Minneapolis for about 20 minutes while seated in the rental car with masks on while they kept back about 10 feet from the vehicle. We never saw Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson since we were still coughing. We wonder if Covid-19 will ever go away and if the visiting family will be possible.

The next time we write will be when we arrive in Johannesburg on Monday, after the 15 hour red eye where we’ll spend part of the night at the airport hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.

See you next time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. May 22. 2021:

The river is beautiful at sunset. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move in less than 15 hours…Happy to be heading back to our “happy place.” after all of the challenges…

On Tuesday, we will arrive back in Marloth Park. We’re excited to see some new and old animal friends and human friends at our new location.

We are so done with this trip; we can’t wait to be on the move. However, the two-day journey will be exhausting. A sense of enthusiasm and excitement will surely guide us through the two long days and nights until, once again, we are driving up to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre to pick up the keys to our new house. Then, a two-minute drive to the house, around the corner from where they live.

If all goes as planned, we should be seeing their warm, smiling faces by 10:30 Tuesday morning. South Africa is nine hours later than here in Nevada. It will feel like 1:30 am Tuesday to us, but immediately, we adapt to the local time zones. We may have lost two nights of sleep at that point, but we’ll stay awake until bedtime on Tuesday night, desperately trying to avoid taking a nap.

Hopefully, on Wednesday morning, we’ll wake up to a sunny day with mild temperatures since it’s almost winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Our favorite time in the bush was with the cooler temps, fewer mosquitos and other insects, and fewer snakes slithering around the garden. The nights will be very cool, and the days will be comparable to winter weather in Florida and Arizona in the US. Lovely.

I’ll still wear repellent on exposed skin since we don’t take any malaria prophylactics. But Tom, who never gets bit, doesn’t have to give it a thought.

We’d packed our dry goods in plastic bins before we left on March 23, and they will be waiting in the house for us to unpack. Most likely, by Wednesday afternoon, we’ll be entirely unpacked and can then settle into the beautiful routine of “life in the bush” we so much love; animals, friends, drives in the park to look for more wildlife, trips to nearby Kruger National Park to see the bigger game and weekly trips to the town of Komatipoort to grocery shop.

Once settled, we’ll book appointments with Doc Theo to have him check us out as we continue to recover from Covid-19, which we contracted, as you know, on the last few days on Celebrity Silhouette, spending those two-day quarantined in a different balcony cabin on a specific deck where others who’d tested positive were also in isolation. It was a tough few days.

Not only were we served less than ideal room service meals, but when it was time to disembark, we were shuttled like cattle to the “Covid bus” to be dropped off at our respective hotels in Southampton, UK. We saw many other passengers with whom we’d conversed on that bus where we were all well masked (moot point). Did we give it to them or them to us? It didn’t matter. No blaming is allowed in this scenario.

Since we arrived at the Leonardo Grand Harbour Hotel, where we stayed for seven nights, the time seems to have passed in a blur. I barely remember our trip to Marriott Hotel in Gatwick (close to London), where we stayed for another three days waiting for negative PCR tests so we could fly to Minnesota.

We had to cancel the cruise back across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2 and the flight from the disembarkation point in New York. We received a partial credit from Cunard for the cruise (which we’ll deal with once back in SA) and credit with American Airlines for the missed flight from New York to Minnesota. We doubt we’ll ever use the American Airlines credit since we seldom fly their routes, and there is a time limit on using the credit.

Gosh, we purchased all those dressy clothes for the Queen Mary 2 cruise, and now they hang in the closet, wondering when we’ll ever wear them.

Amid all this madness, numerous situations occurred, all of which we posted here, which created more stress and frustration. Many resulted from “human error,” mostly “theirs” and a little of ours. After all, one of the significant symptoms we both experienced was brain fog, which is finally beginning to recede a month later.

Fortunately, last night, the two Covid-19 PCR tests we had taken at CVS Pharmacy were negative. But, last night, before the results arrived, their website was down, and I was worried we wouldn’t get the test results on time. I lost a few hours of sleep thinking about this. I needed the night’s sleep since it was the last full night’s sleep before Tuesday.

Now, I’m a bit tired, but I don’t dare nap when we have to get up at 3:00 am, in a mere 15 hours. since it’s around noon here now. We plan to have dinner early and try to sleep early, but we’ll see how that goes. We rarely fall asleep before 11:00 pm.

We’ve already printed our negative Covid-19 test results and a copy of our 90-day rental agreement with Louise, which we may have to produce if asked why we want to stay for 90 days in South Africa. All we have left is to pack the toiletries we’ll use tonight and tomorrow morning and our laptops with various cables and adapters into Tom’s backpack.

Tonight, we’ll eat in our room after picking up dinner in the resort’s food court, where we both found items to our liking and suitable for my way of eating.

Hopefully, we are looking forward to the next few days being as stress-free as possible. Tomorrow, we’ll prepare a new post during the six-plus hour layover in Newark before boarding the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg. We’ll be back with you then! Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2021:

A playful pair of elephants across the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Resolving the Las Vegas car rental issue…Challenges continue…Two days and counting…

We are thrilled with the quality of the photos using my new Google Pixel Pro XL6 phone. They appear to be more precise than those using our camera.

This morning, a kindly Uber driver picked us up from our hotel and took us to the nearby CVS pharmacy for our Covid-19 PCR tests, which we’ll use to fly to South Africa in two days. The driver picked us up at 10:30 and returned after one more stop at Smith’s market to pick up our curbside order of Crystal Light iced tea.

We couldn’t purchase enough iced tea to last for the next year, but it was enough to get us through the next few months until we placed an order on Ubuy, an online service that ships to South Africa. Crystal Light is not sold at any of the markets in the country. We’ll pay a premium price for the product, but it still will be less than shipping it from the US.

The walkway over the main pool at the resort.

Although we’ve given up many of our favorite products since we began traveling almost ten years ago, there are some items that we haven’t been willing to stop using, and this is one of them. Finding alternatives to many grocery items has been easy overall with our limited way of eating. Still, we search for a specific item and have trouble finding it from time to time.

The past 24 hours have been somewhat wacky. We’ve been busy taking care of phone calls necessary to ensure we’ve received proper credits for multiple scenarios, including the charges still showing on a credit card for the rental car we weren’t able to obtain from ACE car rentals on Sunday when we couldn’t produce a Nevada utility bill.

A portion of the attractive grounds at the resort.

The credit card company’s service rep was accommodating. After about 40 minutes on the phone, they credited our card the US $366 and will contact us if there are any future issues in processing the credit from the company, Wise Cars, which we’ll never use again. All of their phone numbers were disconnected. Is it any wonder?

This morning, we stopped at the concierge desk to speak to kindly Douglas once again. Could he arrange for a ride for us to the airport on Sunday at 4:00 am? As it turns out, there’s this huge event going on now, EDC, Electric Daisy Carnival, which brings hundreds of thousands of visitors worldwide to participate in the 24-hour-a-day partying event.

With it around 100F, 43C, outside, we had no interest in sitting by the pool at the resort.

Subsequently, getting an Uber or a taxi at this time in the morning is impossible since many of the shows on the strip end in the middle of the night. Douglas said he’d start calling around to see what he could find. The only option was a private limo at three times the cost of a taxi at US $74.26. With a tip, the cost will be close to US $100. We authorized Douglas to book this for us.

Then, when the confirmation document arrived from the limo company, we noticed it said 4:00 pm not 4:00 am. That resulted in another phone call and email. We have the corrected confirmation and can plan to be downstairs with our luggage at 4:00 am on Sunday. We will have to get up at 3:00 am to shower and dress to get downstairs on time.

The next time it is 4:00 to us, we’ll be on the flight from Newark to Johannesburg. The next 4:00 am after that; we’ll be getting up again from the partial overnight stay in the airport hotel in Joburg to ensure we get to the gate on time for our final leg on the flight to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport to pick up the rental car to begin the 90-minute drive on the N4 to Marloth Park.

The cabanas are appealing, but the suffocating heat is unappealing at this time.

This crazy schedule means getting up at 3:00 or 4:00 am for three nights in a row, considering the only sleeping time we’ll have once it begins when we’re at the airport hotel in Johannesburg, where we’ll try to get some sleep for a few hours. It’s hard to get much sleep when we know we have to wake up in the middle of the night.

Still feeling weak and tired from Covid-19, this schedule won’t be easy. The key will be to get through the 6½ hour layover in Newark and be able to sleep a little on the flight. The plane will be full, but we won’t know for sure until we board. Then, if either of us can end up with two empty seats beside us, we may be able to lay down and get some rest.

This makes me exhausted just writing about it. If we weren’t recovering from Covid-19, this would be easier. And although we are making every effort to be optimistic, we aren’t foolhardy. We’ve traveled on long flight itineraries for many years, and we are well aware of the challenges.

Today, we’ll continue with more tasks we need to accomplish and hopefully get a good night’s sleep tonight; the last night we’ll have until next Tuesday when we arrive in Marloth Park and move into our new house. Since we’ll arrive before noon, we’ll have time to start unpacking, perhaps take a nap and head out to Jabula for dinner. Gee…that would be nice.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 20, 2021:

These two wildebeests visit often. The one on the left is CF, for Crooked Face, and his loyal friend is Hal. For more photos, please click here.

Vague and confusing rules to re-enter South Africa…Three days and counting…

If I could eat sweets, most likely I’d choose some of these. We wondered what they did with the items that didn’t sell and how many days they stayed in the case.

As it turned out, the two Covid-19 antigen tests we purchased at Walgreens are not suitable for travel. In my state of COVID brain fog, along with a long queue in the pharmacy that day, I failed to ask the question to the pharmacist before I purchased the kits.

We’d used the same brand name kit to enter the US, but apparently, the tests I purchased in the US don’t have the red stripe across the box. It is the brand name, but it didn’t say it couldn’t be used for travel. Upon further investigation online, Tom discovered these test kits wouldn’t work.

These baked goods for sale at the Lucky Penny are much larger than they appear in this photo.

The next point was the confusion over whether South Africa requires a PCR or antigen test. According to several government sites, on March 22, 2022, it was no longer necessary to have a PCR test to enter the country if a person had a valid vaccination card.

The tricky part is they won’t accept the CDC white vaccination cards, which we have. They will only accept a vaccination certificate with a QR code.

These baked goods are twice the size of those you’d find in a bakery. Everything in Las Vegas is vast!

Yesterday afternoon, we spent hours finding out where and how we could get such a certificate. If we had weeks to spare, we could request it and get it in the mail at our “home” address. Well, that doesn’t work for us. Our only option is to get a new PCR test at a drive-through at CVS pharmacy. We don’t have a car. We’ll have to pay for a taxi to take us to CVS’s drive-through to get the test.

But that expense is a lot less than having a company come to the hotel to do our tests. After checking with the concierge, we discovered the cost is US $199 per person. Our taxi bill will be a lot less than the US $398.

These macaroons were the size of a man’s fist and stuffed with something creamy.

This is a bit frustrating, especially after all we’ve been through the past four-plus weeks. Our two tests are booked at a nearby CVS for 11:00, and 11:10 am tomorrow. We should have the results by Saturday, which we’ll print at the hotel, along with our rental agreement with Louise, which is required to enter the country for three months.

The next hurdle we had to handle was that we couldn’t find confirmation for the 90-day car rental for the vehicle we’re picking up at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport (MQP). Indeed the issue was more about Covid brain fog and our lack of ability to locate the booking information easily. This has never been an issue for us. I always enter the booking details on our Cozi travel calendar. There was nothing there.

These massive chocolate cream puffs made my mouth water. The brownies on the far right were at least 4″ squares.

We spent at least two hours figuring out which car rental company we’d used and which company was supplying the car. We went through past credit card statements and finally found three small deposits we’d paid in March. Finally, we figured it out, after calling the company..

This error occurred when we were rushed to book this entire trip to the US, one hotel and flight after another. When we returned to South Africa, the records for that one rental car fell through the cracks when we were swamped booking flights and vehicles for Florida, Minnesota, and Nevada.

Yes, we love bacon, but I’m not sure about chocolate-covered bacon. Thank goodness I can’t have sugar. I’d have been tempted to try it. I encouraged Tom to try one of these fantastic items, but he prefers plain old-fashioned doughnuts, which weren’t available.

Thankfully, all is fine now, and the car will be waiting for us at the airport next Tuesday. However, we weren’t able to secure a straight 90-day booking. Every 30 days, we’ll have to return the car to Nelspruit (a three-hour turnaround) to sign another 30-day contract. However, we will make every effort to convince them to let us send them photos of the car and odometer readings to allow us to keep it the entire time. We shall see how that goes.

Whew! Lots of challenges this time around. Fortunately, with sheer determination, I managed to set up my new laptop completely, finishing early this morning. That’s a relief to have out of the way. In the next few days, we’ll reorganize the contents of our luggage, weighing everything to ensure we comply. Then, at 4:00 am Sunday, we’ll leave the hotel for the airport.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 19, 2021:

This photo astounded us. See the post for details of the unusual phenomenon from our trail cam in Marloth Park. For more information, please click here.