If it goes to Stage 8, we may be looking at a total blackout. Right now, load shedding at Stage 6 results in 12 hours a day without power which we’re facing today. We can live with all this as long as we can keep our food fresh. Again, we just went shopping yesterday, purchasing lots of perishable food.
I suppose we need to stop shopping and buy what we need, one day at a time. This may be our only alternative if we can save what we have and go through it.
We’d planned to have Dawn and Leon for an Asian dinner on Thursday, but now I am wondering how I can do all the prep required by opening and closing the refrigerator over and over as needed in preparing such a meal. We purchased all the ingredients for the three entrees we’ll prepare but wonder if it will be possible to do without power. Our stove top is gas, but the oven is electric.
I’d planned to prep all the meats and vegetables ahead of time, but I am concerned about keeping the meats fresh in the process. We’ll have to see if anything changes between today and tomorrow. At this point, the power will be out on Thursday from:
- 1:00 – 3:30 am
- 9:00 – 11:30 am
- 1700 (5:00 pm) – 2130 (9:30 pm)
As inventive as I may attempt to be in the kitchen, I am not sure I can safely prepare three entrees and ultimately serve them in the dark. We’d planned a similar get-together with them a few weeks ago and canceled due to load shedding. Maybe we can figure out something different this time.
In any case, this is the way it is, and there is nothing we can do about it. If it weren’t for the issues with storing food, we wouldn’t be concerned at all. As mentioned in other posts, we do pretty well without electricity. That’s not to say we’d be comfortable living “off the grid” with no power. That’s not our style of world travel.
Tom will drive me to the little spa where Dawn will meet me in a little while, and we’re both having pedicures. I hadn’t had one since before we left in March, and it’s about time. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t drive here since we don’t pay extra to have me on the car rental contract, I don’t drive a stick shift with my left hand, and I am not used to driving on the opposite side of the road.
Never a good drive anyway; adding these three factors put me at high risk of causing an accident. Since I had open-heart surgery in 2019, my coordination is not ideal. Unless there is an emergency, I will no longer be driving although I will continue to renew my driver’s license in our resident state of Nevada. Many times in our travels, we’re asked to produce a driver’s license for identification, particularly on cruises and in the US.
Last evening the two of us celebrated the 31st anniversary of the day we met. We had a few drinks on the veranda with our JBL speaker playing oldies from our ‘heydays” via YouTube, and we had a lovely time. Since it was cold and rainy, we ate dinner indoors at the dining room table. The power didn’t go out until 1900 hrs., 7:00 pm, so it all worked out well.
We both had a good night’s sleep which has been the case this past week now that we are fully recovered. I can’t express enough how grateful we have made it through all of that after a very challenging couple of months.
Thank you to many of our readers who wrote to us, wishing us a happy anniversary and offering thoughtful comments about our recent challenges. Every single word means so much to us, and we try to reply to each one.
Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2021:
The aircon units used in bedrooms here can cool in the hottest weather and warm when it’s cold. We’ve never used the heating feature since we feel we don’t need to waste the electricity required to power the heating aspect of these units. Instead, we bundle up in warm clothes and, at night, sleep with layers of blankets we can strip off if necessary.
It’s incredible how much our body heat warms the bedroom at night. We noticed it when we left the bedroom at night to get something from the kitchen. We have never turned on the heat while in South Africa.
Last night at dinner, while seated at the dining room table (it was too cold to eat outdoors), my fingers were as cold as they would have been outdoors in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Holding them under warm water for a few minutes solved the problem.
Later, fully dressed, we got under the two top layers on the bed to watch a movie, one Tom hadn’t seen years ago, and now I know why. It was Armageddon, a movie I’d seen once and recalled, like the adventure of a disaster movie. The past few years are reminiscent of movies I watched about pandemics. Isn’t it ironic that those movies have come to us in the form of real life? I sure hope no massive asteroid start hurdling toward earth!
According to many news reports we read from time to time, we face disasters, right and left. Sometimes, I find it best not to read those articles. One can become anxious and depressed over such news. We both choose to embrace the positive aspects of life. Negative thinking can quickly impact one’s quality of life and health.
That doesn’t mean we are oblivious to what’s happening globally and even locally. We stay aware enough to tweak our lives as needed to consider the challenges such as using less fuel, not being wasteful, recycling, and being mindful of using products and services we don’t need. This also means tightening our budget as needed in tough economic times.
Last night, after two hours on hold with Costco Travel about finally receiving our over the US $5000, ZAR 79,318 credit from Azamara from us canceling the Black Sea cruise when the itinerary was changed due to the war in Ukraine. We intended to offset the final payment due at midnight for the first leg of the upcoming cruise in November for the triple back-to-back from Athens to Cape Town.
Why should we pay in advance when they owe us so much money? Luckily, after being on hold for two hours, the Costco rep finally got through to Azamara and resolved the issue. They credited us over US $5000. We’ll pay for the second leg in a few weeks and the third, weeks later.
This particular triple back-to-back is very expensive, much more than we’re usually willing to spend. But. It’s an almost entirely new itinerary for us, seeing countries we may never be able to see again, and we decided to bite the bullet and book them. Of course, we are concerned about getting Covid-19 again, based on our recent bad experience. But, we’ve chosen not to live our lives in fear, preventing us from new experiences.
We hear so much about people getting Covid-19 on cruise ships. But, if we were to research other venues and circumstances, people are still getting sick from different scenarios. That doesn’t mean we are careless and unconcerned. It simply means we’ve decided to move on and resume our world travels more expansively.
This evening, the two of us will celebrate the anniversary of the day we met 31 years ago, on June 28, 1991. We are grateful to be together after all these years, still in love and blissfully interested in one another.
Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2021:
It’s a cool windy day, heavily overcast. We’re bundled up in warm clothes but it’s unlikely we’ll be sitting outdoors this evening. Many of the animals are hunkered down when they don’t seem to feel comfortable in the wind. A sweet little female duiker, whom we’ve named Delilah, who usually hangs out with her partner, Derek, ran off when a huge gust of wind startled her.
Even Lollie is tucked away somewhere when we’ve only seen her for a few minutes earlier this morning. Several Big Daddies have visited and devoured the tops from the celery and outer leaves of the lettuce, which I cleaned for tonight’s salad. It’s funny they love the bitter celery tops.
We have celery in our dinner salad daily, along with purple onions, grape tomatoes, and crispy lettuce. I make an easy sour cream dressing we toss before serving it. I chop the vegetables daily and feed the scraps to the kudus and bushbucks, who love veggie chips. The warthogs don’t seem to like any leftovers other than carrots. They are more interested in higher carb vegetables which we don’t eat.
Last night, we finished The Godfather II and III and loved every moment of these good movies. Now, we’ll move on to other shows to stream at night. If you have any suggestions for newer series, please send them our way. We’ve already watched many of the popular series that were available during the pandemic. We’re now looking at the newer series that have been released since then.
Our simple lives of good food, wildlife watching and interacting, good music, good movies and TV series to stream, laughter, and fun among ourselves and others. It couldn’t be more pleasant. But, others often ask if we’d be happier in a home of our own, whether abroad or in the US.
Our answer is always the same, as long as we are healthy enough to move at our discretion to anywhere we choose outside the US, that provides us with enough adventure and stimulation, we will continue to strive to travel the world. As some new world travelers do for the first few years, the concept of being on the move all the time is unappealing to us.
Remember the number of flights, hotels, and venues we experienced going to the US over a month ago? Of course, it was more difficult having Covid most of the time, but even so, we’ve always preferred to live in a country for four months or more. We are kind of going overboard now, staying in South Africa for so long. Still, the pandemic has taught us a few lessons about losing money from canceled bookings, exposure to the virus, and the difficulty of travel until things improve.
When that happens, we’ll be excited to explore more. But, we certainly have some booked adventures on the horizon, including our upcoming trip in less than two months to Zambia and Botswana and, of course, the exciting 42-night cruise from Athens to Cape Town beginning in only a little over four months.
Indeed, these adventures are more than we’d ever considered in our own lives. But, the magic of our current daily lives, living in the bush, is compelling enough in itself. After all, people from all over the world come to Marloth Park for their one big holiday/vacation of the year, and we are blessed to be here, reveling in the wonders of the bush, its wildlife, its unusual experiences, and its people. All magical.
Since I began today’s post, it’s started raining. We moved the laundry rack further under the veranda and have moved indoors to sit at the dining room table. We’re at Stage 4 load shedding today, and the power was supposed to go out a half-hour ago, but it hasn’t happened. Go figure. It’s the nature of the beast. TIA.
Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2021:
We had fun last night, just the two of us, listening to oldies during sundowners on the veranda, greeting our regular wildlife visitors, and later savoring a delicious homemade low-carb meal. After the power went off due to load shedding, we headed to the bedroom to begin watching the 50-year-old movie, The Godfather.
In most cases, when we watch an old movie, I remember most of it, but for some odd reason, I couldn’t remember the details of The Godfather. Tom recalled seeing all of it, but he’d also read the book in 1972. It was a great movie we were inspired to watch again after watching the Prime Video series, The Offer. As mentioned in an earlier post, the incredible story of the making of The Godfather. It’s well worth watching all of this.
We’ll watch Part II of The Godfather tonight, and if done early enough, we’ll watch Part III. It’s fun to hunker down on a fantastic, cloudy evening and get wrapped up in some fine streaming. We finished watching the fabulous Outlander, so The Godfather is an excellent, engaging next step.
Many people in Marloth Park are significant users of Netflix, which we also have. We use Express VPN to enable us to stream the US and worldwide shows at our leisure. Without that, we’d be restricted to streaming only those shows available to South Africans, which is limited.
The WiFi works during power outages, enabling us to stream the movie from Amazon’s Prime Video at no extra charge. However, each time the power goes out and comes back on, the WiFi goes out for about five minutes, often requiring us to reboot our laptops to restore it. We are so grateful that we have WiFi during outages; we are certainly not complaining.
Today is another quiet cloudy day. Load shedding started a few minutes ago, but we are fine on the veranda, waiting to see who will visit us today. Through the next month, there will be plenty of tourists in Marloth Park, resulting in fewer animal visits. But, we are fine, knowing our regulars will surely stop by.
We currently have two Big Daddies, eight impalas, and our girl Lollie, a sweet lonely warthog. Tom tossed some pellets, which they were all enjoying, including the impala herd patriarch, who was anxious to get in on the action. Right now, one of the Big Daddies is tearing down branches on some dry trees with his massive horns. They often do this to reach the greener and tastier vegetation on the upper branches of trees.
When load shedding ends in about an hour, I will be able to finish the laundry. I’d forgotten about the outage, and wouldn’t you know; load shedding started during the wash cycle. The clothes won’t be dry by the time we go indoors for the night so Tom will pull the laundry rack into the house. Since it’s so cool, they won’t dry indoors overnight, and tomorrow morning, we will haul the clothes rack back outside to finish drying.
Yesterday, I made enough dinner for tonight as well. This morning, I made a big salad so dinner would be easy. There’s not much we have to do today other than handle the laundry situation, prepare the finishing touches on dinner and relax and enjoy ourselves. We love days and nights like this!
Enjoy the remainder of our decorator items photos from the house’s interior. Tomorrow, we’ll share pictures of the exterior items.
Have a great Sunday, wherever you may be!
Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2021:
A reality of living in holiday homes and hotels year-round is that the decor is not our own. In South Africa, a predominantly African set is commonplace, especially in homes in the bush. I suppose if we owned a home here, which we never will, there is no doubt we’d probably do the same.
It would look ridiculous to decorate a home in the bush with anything other than an African theme. However, some houses with early colonial and Dutch-influenced furnishings and fixtures were very appealing. The following historical facts influenced South African decor:
“The two European countries which occupied the land were the Netherlands (1652-1795 and 1803-1806) and Great Britain (1795-1803 and 1806-1961).”
“What is the Dutch style of interior design?”
Dutch design focuses on minimalism, functionalism, and innovative yet simplistic designs. But what truly sets Dutch design apart is its focus on the designers. The designers that create this beautiful and modern home decor are integral to the entire development and production process.”
Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2021:
I won’t get into all the convoluted particulars regarding the confusion on when and how we’ll get refunds and credits for canceled cruises we’ve booked in the past few years during the pandemic. Most travelers book one cruise, and it’s nowhere near as confusing as to when we’ve booked seven or eight, many of which have canceled after collecting our final payments.
Hmmm…I wonder why they don’t cancel them before we make the final payment. Are the cruise lines in such a dire financial situation that they need the “float” of our money for three or four months until they get on their feet? That’s a harsh reality and frustration for world travelers like us, who book several cruises over a year or two.
In almost ten years of world travel, we’ve sailed on 27 cruises, few of which we ever canceled. If there were cancellations, there were precipitated by the cruise line for one reason or another. In our case, we may have moved several bookings to future dates before the final payments were due to satisfy the needs of our upcoming itinerary. Still, none of these incurred any penalties or refunds.
With the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, we’re seeing some of the cruises we booked making changes we didn’t request, and now we’re struggling to get our money back consistently and seamlessly. Often, a small amount appears as a credit on a credit card we used to pay for a cruise. We never know which one it is without calling Costco, being on hold for an hour, and often holding on the line for another 45 minutes while Costco Travel calls the cruise line to get it figured out.
We don’t blame Costco Travel. The long hold is the only issue we have with them. But, the perks they offer as an incentive to their customers are well worth the inconvenience of continuing to work with them. The refund issues are not their doing. That’s entirely up to the cruise line.
When we think about how much money we’ve lost due to the pandemic, it’s in the thousands. This was no one’s fault. It was the nature of the dreadful virus, and many lost money on travel-related expenditures, wages, and business revenue. When we were in the US, we couldn’t believe how many small and medium-sized businesses have failed due to these tough economic times.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on most of us in one way or another. Now, we are all faced with rising fuel prices, let alone the cost of living in most areas worldwide.
At this point, we have a few airlines holding credits for us that won’t provide us with a refund. We have no idea if and when we’ll ever be able to use those credits. All of these losses certainly have impacted our budget, and we’ll proceed cautiously to ensure we remain vigilant and maintain control of our expenses.
In the interim, we’re happy to be in South Africa, where the cost of living is considerably less overall than in many countries. Tom just spent an hour in the dentist’s chair having dental surgery for his implants and the total bill for that hour was ZAR 1266, US $79.78, as shown in the statement below.
After the appointment, he headed to the pharmacy for three medications due to the surgery, including antibiotics, non-narcotic painkillers, and probiotics, which are always prescribed with antibiotics in South Africa. The total pharmacy bill was ZAR 424.05, US $26.71, as shown in another photo below. Where would we pay so little for this amount of service and products? Nowhere that we know.
As “they” say,…it all comes out in the wash. We’ll continue to stay on top of the credits we’re due for the cruises via more phone calls and diligence, ensuring everything is accurate.
Have a delightful weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2021:
.Our “comments” section at the end of each post is working again. We disabled it almost a year ago due to an excessive amount of pornographic spam we received each day. If this happens again, there are “plug-ins” our web people can implement on our site to avoid spam, and your comments will come through.
This feature is set, allowing me to see each comment before posting it. This does allow me to moderate any reader comments that we’d prefer not to post, such as unsuitable language, hater comments, and politically incorrect or racist comments. Thus, none of the spam will be published.
We won’t hesitate to post comments from our readers that may not agree with our point of view, and most certainly, we will respond. However, comments intended to denigrate, ridicule, or harass us in any manner will be passed by. Life is hard enough for all of us to be subject to hateful comments in these trying times.
Several days ago, before we went to Urgent Care for Tom, when we were sneezing a lot with tremendous nasal congestion, we started over-the-counter Flonase. This nasal allergy spray has dramatically improved those symptoms. (Please see your medical professional for any medications you may use for the treatment of Covid). As for today, although Tom is still coughing a lot, he is feeling a little better and less exhausted, with fewer headaches and nasal congestion.
Tom has stopped using liquid cough medicine and cough drops based on the prescribed gel caps, which seem to help. I’d anticipated he may have trouble sleeping after taking the first dose of Cortisone yesterday, which is used to treat the inflammation in his lungs, but he slept well last night.
As for my symptoms, I still feel sluggish, out-of-sorts, and tire easily. I have a few short periods of headaches off and on throughout the day and a fair amount of coughing with congestion. But, the dry cough is gone. It’s been 23 days since we both tested positive and developed symptoms. Fortunately, neither of us continues to test positive.
Tomorrow afternoon at 4:30, we will drive to son Greg and DIL Camille’s home to say hi to them and three of our grandchildren. We won’t be getting out of the car or hugging anyone. Grandson Miles is still testing positive. We can’t take any chances. The hard part will be not being able to hug anyone. We saw them last July, ten months ago, but a hug would have been nice.
We’ll do the same with Tom’s family and are setting that up today…a drive-by hello and goodbye. Gee, what is this world coming to? This pandemic has changed all of our lives in so many ways.
In two days, we’ll be flying out of Minneapolis to Las Vegas, arriving in the evening, hoping Tom is feeling well enough by then that we can see Richard. By then, next Monday, we shouldn’t be contagious anymore. But, we’ll leave it up to Richard if he is comfortable being around us. Here again, we can only play it by ear.
As for today, it’s another low-key day, mainly working on getting well. We’re eating healthy food and have enough on hand to last us until we check out this hotel on Sunday to head to the airport. We’ll be asking for a late checkout since our flight isn’t until 3:39 pm.
We won’t be required to produce a negative Covid-19 test since the flight is domestic, and none is required. While in Henderson, Nevada, we’ll need to get a negative test before we depart for South Africa, which hopefully won’t be a problem.
That’s it for today, folks. Take care and be well.
Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2021:
We’re pretty lucky. Like most people in South Africa, we could suffer the inconvenience during load shedding when the power company, Eskom, turns off the power nationwide during designated periods. But, we are grateful and fortunate to have many systems to alleviate the hassle.
There’s an app available at most download sites that informs the user when to expect power outages. But, this information is inaccurate about 25% of the time. It will say there is a scheduled outage in our area, and it doesn’t occur, or it will appear there are no anticipated outages, and we’re out all day. That was yesterday. The power went out about 11:00 am and didn’t return until about 1900 hrs., 7:00 pm, eight hours later.
After the first few hours passed and the power hadn’t returned, Tom loaded the big metal bowl with ice and placed it on the middle shelf in the refrigerator. This method keeps the perishables fresh as long as that ice doesn’t melt substantially. We buy ice and refill the bowl as needed during extended periods beyond one day. The refrigerator becomes a giant cool box (cooler).
There’s a difference between load shedding and power outages. Load shedding is a plan to shut down the power supply to save on resources. Different areas in the country experience other times and different levels, from one to eight, determining which times of day the power will be out and how many times in any upcoming 24-hour period how long the power will be out.
As for outages, they result from equipment issues at various power stations, often caused by theft, vandalism, and breakdowns. These happen many times each year. The general public has no say or control over when these are repaired. Calling to complain has no impact whatsoever. Often Eskom has trouble obtaining replacement parts which delays the repairs exponentially.
The fact that we have an inverter makes life easier during load shedding our outages. It’s not as powerful as a generator but is quiet, self-starting, and recharges off the electricity in the house when power is available. We can charge our equipment, stream shows since the WiFi router stays on, and keep a lamp on in the bedroom. Having something to do during outages is helpful. Watching a movie or streaming a series makes the time pass without us noticing the outage.
However, yesterday, for about an hour, there was no WiFi to the towers in the area due to the outage. There is nothing we can do about that. But, as mentioned a few days ago, we have over 1000 movies on an external hard drive allowing us to watch movies as long as our laptops are charged. Before and during outages, we pay special attention to how much battery life is left on our phones and laptops.
Now that we have a third laptop, my old Chromebook with 12-hour battery life, we make a point of keeping it charged, just in case.
Sure, the house is dark at night during outages. We prefer to be indoors at night during outages since we can’t see what’s going on in the garden anyway. Plus, it may not be safe to be outside in the dark in the case of a potential burglary or visit by a lion. Our security system works during outages since it is connected to long-lasting batteries, which give us peace of mind at night in the dark or not.
We have two handheld lanterns that we also keep charged. Last night, Tom did dishes in the dark, but the lantern helped make it possible. I use one of the lanterns before bed to take out and clean my contact lenses, wash my face and brush my teeth. That works.
The biggest concern is always that the power returns before we lose food in the refrigerator or freezer or if the inverter runs out of control, which can happen after a 24-hour outage. Otherwise, we make the best of the situation and are very grateful for the systems we have in place. After all, as “they” say, TIA, “This is Africa,” and accepting and managing the annoyances is a part of the reality of living in this unique environment.
Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2021:
Today, it’s raining. But, it’s a steady soaking rain which is ideal compared to heavy rains that would run off. The animals are hunkered down under the trees, waiting for it to end. Little do they know how crucial this rain is to provide them with much-needed nourishment.
We can’t possibly provide sufficient food to satisfy all their needs by offering pellets. Pellets are a treat, although healthy, made from vegetation suitable for varied species. All the wildlife eats them, except for the carnivores such as mongooses, genets, wild dogs, lions, leopards, etc., who continually search for meat in one form or another.
When I first stepped outside this morning, Lollie was sitting in her usual spot waiting for her pellet breakfast before the rain started. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to fill up the four-cup measuring cup with pellets and toss them her way. In only one or two minutes, 12 kudus joined the feast, including moms, babies, and a few Big Daddies.
Tom was taking a shower, and the five-gallon bucket of pellets we keep in the house was empty. The 40 kg, 88 pounds bags of pellets are located in the store room across the driveway and are too heavy for me to lift to refill the bucket. With no pellets left in the bucket to tender to the impatient kudus, I grabbed a few packages of celery, lettuce, and carrots from the fridge.
I quickly cut several carrots into bite-sized pieces and cleaned up a few heads of iceberg lettuce and two bunches of celery. They love the scraps. Within five minutes, I was back on the veranda, tossing all the goodies to them. They couldn’t have been more excited to see the vegetable scraps hit the ground.
Then, I remembered that a container of grape tomatoes had become too ripe for our liking, so I grabbed that container from the fridge and tossed the entire container. Wow! They sure loved them. Most vegetables except corn are acceptable for the animals to eat. The birds can eat corn. Nor can the animals eat bread, chips, sweets, and human snacks and treats.
Unfortunately, many tourists will feed the animals their leftovers. Sure, they like the taste of human food, but they are not healthy for them, even foods we may consider to be healthful. Most of the animals in Marloth Park are used to consuming the indigenous, naturally occurring vegetation typical in the African bush.
We’d considered going to Kruger National Park today, but with the rain and how most of the wildlife stay undercover when it’s raining, there was no point in going. Instead, we’ll stay in, working on various projects we’ve started online while enjoying this quiet day together, as we often do.
This morning, we received an email from the car rental company we’re using in Nelspruit for the little blue car. Tomorrow, the 30-day rental expires, and it was expected that Tom would return the vehicle to sign a new contract. With all the car-jackings, spiking, and crime on the N4 Highway, we were more concerned about driving on that road than we had to. The three-hour turnaround to return the car is worrisome.
Thus, today, we could extend the contract until July 23 over the phone, avoiding the necessity of the long drive. The price was a little less than we’d paid for the first month so that we couldn’t be more thrilled. They sent us a contract extension document with the adjusted lower price, and we’re good for now. Hopefully, in July, they will extend it until August 20 when we fly to Zambia.
Currently, we are without power. We have no way of knowing if it’s due to load shedding or a result of the rain. We had no WiFi for about an hour, but now that has resumed. We’re in good shape if the power doesn’t continue for a while since the inverter is running to keep our laptops and phones charged.
Since I have two laptops, both charged, and Tom has one, if the inverter runs out, we can use one of our laptops to watch movies on the external hard drive that Rita and Gerhard gave me for my birthday last February. Gerhard had installed over 1000 movies on the hard drive, so we’ll have plenty to keep us busy when and if we’re in the dark tonight.
Have a great day!
Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2022: