Conversation with immigration attorney…Not good news…

Little Johnny, again this morning.

Late yesterday afternoon, I received a return call from the Cape Town immigration lawyer we hired to assist with our extensions. Keeping in mind, Tom has a 90-day visa he received when returning from the US weeks ago after his brother’s funeral. He can stay until June 15 without incident.

After yesterday’s post about new rulings, which may be found here, a recent ruling from South Africa’s Home Affairs (immigration) stipulates entirely new guidelines for visitors who’ve applied for extensions, such as us. We requested we could stay until our planned departure date of June 8, 2023.

Big Daddy seems to appear each time we see Norman.

That’s out the window now with the new rulings, which are vague and unclear, as admitted by the lawyer who clearly understood our concerns and confusion. She, too, is confused by the lack of clarity regarding dates we need to exit the country. Unless some clarification comes through in the next ten days, we must Africa by April 30, 2023. That leaves us one month to make travel plans and to clear out of this house.

As it turns out, there are 7000 visa extension applications, such as ours, in the works. Based on staffing issues after the pandemic, there is no way they will be able to process all of the applications. Hence, we fall into the category of having to leave by April 30 or be considered “undesirables” if we go one day later.

Initially, when we filed, the rulings stated we could stay without issue until the extensions were granted. At that point,  three months ago, the lawyer felt confident we’d have our approval in plenty of time, based on history. Filing earlier wouldn’t have helped since they don’t allow earlier applications.

Our boy Norman waits for us every morning.

So now, we are facing April 30 as our departure date. As the lawyer explained, our only option is to leave the country, not to a bordering country, and try to get back in, as we’ve done many times. Right now, we are discussing our options and will report back here what we decide sometime in the next ten days; when we commit to each other, we’ll make a decision.

Last night, I contacted Louise and asked her if we left the country would this house be available for us upon return? No matter our plans, we have to be in Edinburgh, Scotland, by July 31, the day before we sail away.

Here we are once again, trying to figure out immigration issues when we’d settled into peace of mind that the extensions would work out well. I guess we were wrong. Unless the South African government clarifies its rulings in the next few weeks, no matter what, we are leaving here on April 30.

Gordy and Norman were sharing pellets peacefully.

The lawyer explained that if we continued to stay and wait to see if they ever get to our application, if we had to leave and it wasn’t approved, again, we’d be considered “undesirables.” We’re not willing to go through that again when it occurred when we overstayed after my heart surgery four years ago.

Many would say, “Why bother? It’s too complicated to stay for longer periods in South Africa.” The reasons are many. Those of you who have been reading our posts for years certainly understand, but I won’t get into that again today.

Soon, we’re off to Koomatipoort for our appointments with Doc Theo. This will be my first cardiac stress test since the surgery, and I will be glad when it’s over and done; praying for good results. Tom is having the same test, and we’ll receive his test results from the past week. We’ll report back tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, March 31, 2022:

A marina in Apollo Beach, Florida. For more, please click here.

Notice from attorneys…What???…Makes no sense…

Two hornbills take turns eating seeds from the feeder ledge.

Late yesterday, we received this letter from our attorney handling the visa extensions. It reads as follows:

We hope this finds you well.  

  1. “This email is to inform you of the attached Circular, which was published today.  
  2. The Circular as published does not appear to uniformly apply to all categories of applicants, nor is it clear with respect to the abandonment of applications on departure.
  3. Since the declaration of a national State of Disaster in 2020, various Directions, Directives, and Circulars have been published, often requiring careful interpretation of their language as applicable to individual circumstances.  In some instances, as in the current case, interpretation must be deferred until after we obtain specific clarifications from the DHA. 
  4. While we always invite all our clients to communicate with us directly should any query arise in terms of delays, their status and/or ability to travel out of SA rather than relying on hearsay and information distributed on social media and/or unverified sources we anticipate and acknowledge in advance that some questions will not be answerable by 31 March 2023.”

From there, the entire attached document from Home Affairs was included, which may be viewed by clicking the link below:

DHA Circular 29 March 2023

What we are supposed to do from here is vague. The question we have now is: Do we have to leave by April 30? Or can we stay until the day our extension may have been approved or longer? The answers are totally unclear. I copied and pasted the sections in question directly from the documents as follows:

“b) Applicants whose visa applications are still pending: Longterm visa holders (Work, Business, Study, Relative, and Accompany spouse) who form part of the 62692 visa backlog applications be granted a temporary extension until 31 December 2023 of the current visa status. Applicants are not allowed to engage in any activity other than what the visa conditions provide for. For those who wish to abandon their visa applications and depart from South Africa when able to do so, they should be allowed to exit at a port of entry before or on 31 December 2023 without being declared undesirable in terms of section 30(1)(h) the Immigration Act, read with regulation 27(3) of the Immigration Regulations. NonVisa exempted applicants who traveled out of the country with a receipt are required to apply for a visitor’s visa, which will allow them entry into the country to await the outcome of their visa extension. 

c) Short-term visa holders whose visa validity was issued for less than 90 days and who have not received their visa extension outcome by 31 March 2023 must please make the necessary arrangements to depart on or before 30 April 2023 to avoid being declared undesirable.”

Little Johnny is such an adorable young male bushbuck.

Leaving by April 30 creates unplanned added travel expenses along with any other issues relative to leaving early. Our rent and rental car are paid until June 8. It’s good that we haven’t prepaid any bookings yet and have been dragging our feet to see what happens before committing to anything.

So, all we do from here is wait to hear back from the law firm as to how this confusing situation applies to us and proceed from there. Whatever the outcome, we will figure out a plan that works for us. Sure, were could go to Scotland and wait it out until the cruise in August.

Little Johnny was standing by the veranda table, waiting for us to come outdoors.

But, we’ve found it to be so expensive there, we’d definitely be stretching our budget. Most tourists who go to the UK and Europe stay for short periods, not months. All we can do from here is “play it by ear” until we hear back from the law firm on their interpretation of these vague and uncertain requirements.

By no means are we stressed about this, but we would like to be able to know where we may be going 30 days from today if that’s the case. If we can stay until December, most likely, we’ll stay until July if Louise has a house for us. We won’t bother her with questions until we know exactly what we must do.

Lilac, of Tulip and Lilac, resting in the garden.

Today, I’m busy with laundry and prepping tonight’s dinner, along with both of us reviewing potential options once we know more about our timetable.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Komatipoort to Doc Theo for our cardiac stress tests. I’ll be glad when this is over, and hopefully, we both get good results, along with Tom’s test results.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2022:

Another beautiful sunny day in Florida! For more photos, please click here.

Lots of visitors in the garden…Second beautiful sunny day…

Four antelope species in the garden, impala, bushbuck, duiker (hidden behind the impala), and nyala (Norman). A fifth, a female kudu, was standing outside the fence (not shown in the photo).

No words can describe how enjoyable it is to experience these more comfortable days in South Africa. The sun is shining, and the high today will be 93F, 34C, but the humidity is low at 25%, although the dew point is high at 78. With the lower humidity, there seem to be fewer mosquitos buzzing around my head as I sit outside preparing today’s post. What a relief after all these months.

That’s not to say we won’t have many more hot and humid days in the near future, but for now, it’s ideal. This morning, we had our usual breakfast of bacon and eggs. The bacon here is excellent and turns out perfectly made in the microwave. This morning I made extra bacon for tonight’s dinner of bun-less burgers on the braai topped with purple onion, tomato, lettuce, and homemade keto ketchup, along with a side salad and rice for Tom.

We decided to make the same meal tomorrow since we’ll return to Jabula on Friday and Saturday evenings and didn’t need leftovers from Thursday.

African morning dove sitting atop the birdseed trolley.

On Friday, we go to Doc Theo, where both of us will have cardiac stress tests. I am a little nervous about having this test since I haven’t had any heart-related tests since surgery four years ago. I don’t have any heart symptoms, but I can’t help being apprehensive about having this test which Theo says is more accurate than most scans. So, we’ll see how it goes for both of us and report back on Saturday.

Tom had numerous blood tests and an aortic aneurysm screening test yesterday in Nelspruit. We’ll know the results of all the tests by the time we leave his office on Friday.

Two female kudus staring at us for pellets.

Yesterday and this morning, we had dozens of wildlife visitors, including the fun main photo of four different species of antelopes in the garden simultaneously. It was exciting to see them all together. Speaking of antelopes, Norman, often accompanied by his family, has been here no less than six times a day over the past several days. It’s always such a joy to see him and, of course, Nina and Natalie.

We realize we are taking a significant risk by not booking where we’ll be staying in a little over 60 days when we leave Marloth Park for a year. But we have so much to deal with before we go. Once we get my visa extension, we can apply online for our US passports. If anything goes wrong with applying in Pretoria, we may have to fly to the US to do the renewals.


Tom got his visa renewed for a new 90-day period when he left for the US for his brother Jerome’s funeral weeks ago. We can’t apply for the US passports until we get my visa extension; otherwise, it appears I am here illegally, and we’d have trouble getting the passports renewed in South Africa if I appear to be an illegal alien. Thus, we’re leaving everything up in the air until we have the visa extension.

In the worst-case scenario, if we can get the extension and the passports, we can easily plan a trip to a preferred location while we wait for the next cruise out of Edinburgh in August. We are confident it will all work out. We no longer feel we need to plan far in advance as we had in the past, especially since we don’t want to risk losing deposits or prepaid venues.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a fantastic Wednesday! We’re planning on it!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2022:

The sideyard view of Karen and Rich’s Apollo Beach, Florida property. For more photos, please click here.

Tom has left for Nelspruit for his medical tests…No results until Friday…

On Sunday, on our way back from the afternoon party, we were fortunate to see these giraffes on Olifant Rd. What a treat to see the young calf! Dad must be the darker, taller giraffe on the left.

Tom left for Nelspruit this morning at 8:45 for his 11:00 am appointments for two medical tests; a chest x-ray (he coughs) and an aortic aneurysm screening (heredity issues with men in his family). I just received a Whatsapp message that he’s arrived safely, and he’ll text me again to let me know when he’s on the way back.

We won’t get the results until Friday when we return to Doc Theo for test results and our two cardiac stress tests. I’ll be glad when all of this medical stuff is completed. Hopefully, we can have peace of mind with positive results. I’m still taking all the allergy meds and the Prednisone. My allergy symptoms are gone, and the head pain is less but not entirely gone.

It’s another cooler and beautiful sunny day. This morning, I baked Tom a double batch of keto blueberry cake, one of the few keto desserts he likes. I had to hurry and get it done since load shedding is starting soon, and I can’t use the oven during that period.

Both pans are done and out of the oven. It smells good here. Now I’ll wait for them to cool so I can cut them into individual servings and place them in ziplock sandwich bags. I wouldn’t say I like using so many plastic bags, so we save the old ones and reuse them for as long as possible. We place the empty used bags in the freezer so the crumbs in the bags don’t spoil, and then take them out for the next batch. We’re able to reuse them four or five times before tossing them.

With the latest holiday season in the works, vehicles blocked our view of the giraffes. We were lucky to get the shots that we did.

Sitting here at the dining room table preparing the post, I am reminded of Tom being in the US only a few weeks ago and how long and tedious that time was without him. I wanted to go with him this morning, but he knows how I dislike the drive to Nelspruit and insisted he’d be fine on his own.

This morning, up and dressed before he left, I said, “I am ready to walk out the door with you right now.” But, he insisted he’d return in no time and for me to stay behind, get today’s post done and enjoy quiet time in the kitchen prepping for tonight’s dinner and baking his blueberry bread.

Now, with all of that done, with the house cleaned after Vusi just left, once I am done here, I’m at a loss as to how to occupy myself without him here. Yesterday, I did all the financial stuff for the first of the month, sent our Nevada accountant a message for tax filing, and feel comfortable that everything is under control.

We use credit cards for everything since we haven’t had or used checks in almost two decades. Instead of saving receipts that the credit card companies have for our purchases. Every few weeks, I enter every purchase into our Excel spreadsheet. I look at the online statements to enter the correct amounts with the exchange rate based on how the banks debit us. We’ve found we pay less in exchange rates using our credit cards than we would by using cash.

The dad was keeping a watchful eye on the traffic.

We only get South African rands for tips and miscellaneous cash transactions, which are few. We tip Zef and Vusi on the same day each month and always keep enough cash to do this. We usually go to the ATM in Komatipoort once a month. Also, Louise arranges for three bags of pellets every few weeks, and we reimburse her almost ZAR (rand) 900, US $49.24 each time for the three bags.

The pellets last longer now than they did in the winter since the bush is lush and green, and the animals don’t need or eat as many pellets at this time. Of course, I’m always giving Norman and his family carrots, apples, and vegetable scraps which they love.

As a matter of fact, Norman has already been here three times this morning, standing in the garden, looking at me. I ask him, “Norman, do you want your lunch?” His ears flip back and forth, and his mouth quivers in sheer delight. There’s no doubt in my mind, after all of these months I have been talking to him, that he knows exactly what I am saying, not unlike a dog would after repeated human language. These animals are more intelligent than most people think.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2022:

Karen and Rich were married on February 11 when Omicron hit, and we stayed behind to avoid infecting the bride and groom. For more photos, please click here.

Entertaining party in the bush..

About a month ago, this kudu visited us with a very recent bloody wound from where his horn must have been lost in a fight. The injury looked bad, but today, when he returned, it appeared completely healed.

Today is the coolest day we’ve had in months at only 72F, 22C at 11:00 am. The humidity is somewhat high at 66% with a dew point of 65 which is still considered tropical. This will be the coolest day of the week with an expected high of only a few more degrees, although we can see the temperatures finally dropping as we get further into the Southern Hemisphere’s fall season.

With the black moths gradually disappearing to lay their eggs for more slimy black worms and the temp dropping, today, slightly overcast, is a perfect day. Vusi is here now, changing the bedding and cleaning the house. I already have tonight’s dinner made and ready to eat, leftover chicken salad with coleslaw on the side.

Today, I will update the month’s expenses and set up Bill Pay for the first of April. We are still waiting to hear about my visa extension, but we should hear something in the next 30 days. Once that comes in, we’ll apply to the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, for our new 10-year US passports, which, if it gets too late, we’ll have to do in person. We aren’t looking forward to the long drive, but we’ll stay overnight and make it fun.

It’s always amazing to see how quickly many injuries on wildlife heal so well.

The cortisone tablets are helping tremendously. I no longer have allergy symptoms, and the pain in my head is less each day. I still have another week to take the meds and am hoping, along with the other allergy meds Doc Theo prescribed, that once I finish the cortisone, I will still feel well. Much to my surprise, I can sleep at night when typically, Prednisone (cortisone) causes insomnia.

Tomorrow morning Tom leaves for Nelspruit to Mediclinic for his chest x-ray and aortic aneurysm screening, which must be done on an empty stomach, so he won’t have breakfast before he leaves. I continue to offer to go with him, but he says he’s fine making the three-hour round-trip drive on his own. If he needs any further tests, I plan to go with him. It’s a good day, and we are very grateful.

Yesterday afternoon’s party in the bush at a friend’s house was fun and laughter filled. We knew everyone in attendance, and it was fun to be included in this group of lively partygoers. South Africans sure know how to have a good time, and although we don’t keep up in the drinking department with my 5% light wine and Tom’s few beers, we certainly can get in on the lively chatter and good times.

It must have been painful at the time of the loss of the horn, but it appears he is pretty active and healthy now.

By 6:00 pm, we were back home and settled in. Tom cleaned the contents of the cooler box where we kept our chicken salad and coleslaw ultra cool, and since the bugs were getting bad outdoors, we decided to hunker down and stream a few shows. We’d eaten before 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., but neither of us ate another bite in the evening.

Now that Tom has been off sugar for a while, he’s losing the weight he gained from the 10 pounds, 4.5 kg, of jelly candy he purchased in the US and ate back here in less than a week; he’s losing the extra weight rapidly. I restarted my diet, which I’ve been struggling with for months, and now I am losing again also.

I realized I was eating too many low-carb foods and having some sweet keto desserts, keeping me from losing weight. I am committed to sticking with this, which includes eggs on small pieces of keto bread for breakfast and a normal keto dinner (reduced portions) with no keto snacks after dinner. This way, I can lose weight at the rate of about two pounds, 1 kg per week. This way all my old clothes will fit me. I plan to lose all I want by the time we leave on June 8.

Of course, we named him “One Horn.” Hopefully, he’ll revisit us. Note the two impalas in the background who’d like to eat some of those pellets but stayed far behind the Big Daddy.

Not feeling well with this allergy stuff these past months has been a poor excuse for not sticking with my diet when a healthy weight is instrumental in my good health. Feeling bloated in tight clothes never makes me feel healthy.

Today, after three busy social days, we’re laying low while I tackle the financial stuff, and Tom continues with more research for our upcoming travels. Now, if Tom’s tests all come out with positive results and I continue to improve my sinus and head thing, life will be on track as planned.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2022:

The air show was held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, as seen from friends Karen and Rich’s property in Apollo Beach, Florida. For more photos, please click here.

Photos from lockdown three years ago on this date…

When I initially took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks earlier while touring India, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” While in lockdown, this dish started looking appetizing to both of us. See the post here.

Three years ago, we went into lockdown in Mumbai, India. It seems like it was only yesterday. No, we haven’t forgotten about our ten-month lockdown in the hotel. We continue to be grateful it wasn’t any longer than it was. We made the best of it as a couple, working our way through it without any disharmony or negativism.

The hardest part of those ten long months was the food and the laundry. Washing all of our clothes by hand was tedious, especially since we both like to wear jeans. But, we chose to alternate with two pairs of jeans each since it would take three days for them to dry on the window sill after washing them in the shower.

We washed our underwear every day, but those, too, took days to dry. I wore the same three shirts repeatedly, washing one every other day. We didn’t sweat while in air conditioning day and night. After it was over, we kept the jeans, but I tossed the shirts. I didn’t want to see them ever again, even though they held up well.

The two statues of a revered couple who were highly instrumental in doing good works for the Indian people.

We placed a bath towel at the bottom of the closet and hung some of our wet clothes in there. We never unpacked our suitcases. What was the point? We had everything out of them that we wore, and toiletries, which were difficult to replace from the hotel room when we ran out. Luckily, there’s an Amazon in India from which we could buy some of the items we needed, such as shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste.

They’d deliver the boxed items from Amazon to security at the hotel entrance, where they’d spray the boxes with disinfectant and then bring them up to our room to set them on the little table outside our door. We were told not to open them for three days since there may still be germs on the outside of the cardboard boxes.

As for the food, which we wrote about in many posts, it wasn’t good. Tom doesn’t like Indian spices or sauce, so he ate Chicken Penne Pasta every night for the first eight months. He gained 10 kg, 22 pounds, and finally gave up eating dinner altogether for the last two months.

This woman was on the side of the road, shaking seeds out of a basket to be used in making vegetable oil.

Instead, he’d ordered a massive breakfast with four bananas, four hard-boiled eggs, four pieces of toast with jelly, and piles of bacon, the only pork item on the menu. He’d save some breakfast in the evening, such as two boiled eggs and a few bananas. That worked for him.

I ate a normal-sized breakfast of eggs and bacon. At dinner, I ordered grilled chicken breast with sauteed vegetables one night and salmon with sauteed vegetables the next night. I like Indian food, but I cannot have all the dishes laden with starch and sugar.

It wasn’t easy. At times, we longed for some type of snack, more due to boredom than hunger, but they didn’t have anything we’d eat. Plus, with my limited way of eating, snacks aren’t easy to figure out without a kitchen to do the necessary prep for low-carb items.

Tom’s meal from a few weeks prior looked appetizing from when we were touring India.

Fortunately, we were allowed to walk the corridors to get some exercise, or else we’d have been sitting all the time. I walked 8 km, 5 miles daily, while Tom did the stairs. I got a tooth abscess while we were there and was treated by an online dentist who never charged me for the help. I got antibiotics without a prescription, ordered through a pharmacy that delivered them to the front desk, on two occasions when they returned a few months later. Once we got to South Africa, I had the tooth pulled. It was a wisdom tooth, so there was no significant loss.

Obviously, like all of you, we learned a lot about ourselves during that stressful time. Our true colors came out under those harsh conditions. In our cases, we felt we became more tolerant and adaptive from that trying situations, and we have no regrets. Besides, it’s a great story to share when we’re with others, and they, too, share their lockdown experience. Who would have thought we’d all go through such an unbelievable experience?

An artfully designed temple built over 1000 years ago in Chennai.

In essence, it shaped us in more ways than we can describe. Sadly, many lost loved ones or experienced the ravages of the virus, some of whom still suffer today. I know this from personal experience as I am currently on more medication to treat the lingering effects.

Today, we’re off to a house party, bringing our dinner and drinks. Last night, we had a fantastic time at Jabula with Louise and Danie, with whom we always love sharing social time. With their busy schedules, it’s always a treat to be socializing with this fantastic couple whom we both adore.

Have a great Sunday, and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2022:

Our friend Rich and Tom were enjoying sundowners on their beach. The sun was setting over the water as we enjoyed our drinks and companionship. For more photos, please click here.

Fun social weekend…Results from our visit to Doc Theo…

This is Gordy, aka Gordon Ramsey. He is a frequent visitor and is often waiting for us early in the morning.

As mentioned in an earlier post, based on Tom’s family history and his age of 70, he felt it was time to have a screening for Aortic Aneurysm, resulting in several deaths, treatments, and surgeries for several of the men in his family. Also, he needs a chest x-ray since he coughs more than he should.

Doc Theo arranged for these tests for him at Mediclinic, where I had open heart surgery in 2019. I offered to go with him, but he insisted he was happy to make the drive on his own when he knows I don’t like that long drive through the gorge and don’t necessarily feel enthused to relive the memories of being in that hospital for four surgeries. I didn’t press the issue.

Obviously, if something were wrong, I’d go with him. But, he has no symptoms of heart or artery disease. This test is for preventive care and caution only. He should be done in a short period, other than the waiting time, which can be for hours at the busy hospital. His appointment is on Tuesday at 11:00 am, and he’ll leave around 9:00 am, hopefully returning mid-afternoon.

Tom takes no medication and has no known medical conditions. Theo said it was time for him to get checked out, and he ordered a plethora of blood tests and scheduled not only the two tests at Mediclinic but also next Friday, at Theo’s office, he’ll have him do a cardiac stress test on the treadmill, all of which is set up in his office.

Then, it was my turn, and of course, the big topic of conversation was the long-term Covid triggered headaches, itchy eyes, runny nose, and overall itching. He put me on a 10-day regime of Prednisone, tapering off gradually over this period, and prescribed three other allergy medications to help me get through this challenging period.

We then headed to the Komati pharmacy, where I got the prescription filled and then grocery-shopped for everything on my list. I was prescribed six-five mg. tablets as soon as we got home. By then, it was 1:30 pm, and within three hours, my eyes stopped itching and burning, my nose stopped running, and the pain in my left forehead was almost completely gone.

Norman seems to become used to seeing Big Daddy here. He doesn’t appear as fluffed up as he had weeks ago. They are often here at the same time.

I took the remaining meds as prescribed, and today, I feel much better. There’s still a little discomfort on the left side of my head but nowhere near as much as I had a few days ago. The pharmacist told me many people have been suffering from severe allergy symptoms over the past many months. Mine started with Covid and continued with the massive amount of allergens in the bush.

This issue has come and gone, as I described many times in past posts. There were times I thought it was gone and wrote about it here. Alas, a week later, the symptoms were back. But that’s how allergies are…they come and go when exposure to allergens changes with weather and circumstances.

Doc Theo explained that the more accurate and comprehensive treadmill street test would be a better assessment of how my heart and arteries are doing, so I am scheduled with Tom for next Friday morning. We’ll have the stress test results right away, along with the results of Tom’s blood tests, and we are praying all is well for us to continue. It will give us both peace of mind.

Of course, we’ll report the results here next Saturday, and hopefully, no further testing is required. As “they” say, “it’s hell to get old,” and such testing becomes necessary as we age, whether we have health conditions or not.

After returning from Komati, we put the groceries away, and both of us took a nap. It’s a rarity for me to nap, but after being awake sneezing the last night, the rest was refreshing before we got ready to go to Jabula for sundowners and dinner. As usual, we had a very fun evening and are returning with Louise and Danie tonight for another great evening.

On Sunday afternoon, we’re going to another party at a house overlooking the Crocodile River hosted by local friends, where we bring our meat to cook on the braai with sides prepared by the hosts. Since we don’t eat most South African side dishes since they rarely are low carb (Tom is back to healthy eating with me now that he wiped out the disgusting jelly candies he brought back from the US).

This morning we made a keto chicken salad which we’ll eat instead of bringing meat for the braai, which makes the party more relaxing for us when we don’t have to wait for a turn on the braai or watch some type of meat cooking. I like steak rare; it is often difficult to cook correctly when sharing a grill with multiple conversations occurring nearby. Invariably, when we’ve brought steaks to such events, they end up overcooked.

Tomorrow morning, I will make coleslaw and place them in two individual containers along with the two containers of chicken salad, which will also serve as plates. We’ll bring a few forks, napkins, and our beverage with glasses and ice. Easy peasy.

If we’re hungry later in the evening, after returning to the house, we can also have leftover chicken salad and coleslaw so we won’t have to cook. Many of these early afternoon parties end by 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs. when everyone goes home to continue their evening plans. We don’t mind these early parties.

As for today, we’ve had a busy morning feeding the wildlife, prepping food, and doing a few loads of laundry. Norman and Big Daddy have stopped by several times, and of course, after chopping vegetables, Norman had a nice bowl of “Norman’s Lunch,” including a few bananas and apples tossed in. He enjoyed every bite. When we got up this morning, he was the first visitor of the day waiting in the garden, as often is the case. We never tire of seeing him, Nina, and the baby.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Have a fantastic weekend.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2022:

The view of Karen and Rich’s pool and bay from our bedroom’s veranda! Amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Rushing to town…

Derek was sniffing Delila. Breeding is year-round; the female gives birth to one fawn after a gestation period of 6 to 7.5 months.

Whenever we’re heading to Komatipoort to shop and, on occasion, have a dental or doctor’s appointment, I feel rushed trying to get the post done before leaving. This morning is no exception. I tried getting up and ready for the day, but somehow, I got sidetracked by a few household tasks.

We both decided against having breakfast today, waiting to see if we’re hungry after the 11:00 am Doc Theo appointments for both of us. If so, we’ll walk over to Stoep Cafe and have a bite to eat. Recently, Lousie was sick for a day or two after eating there, and it made me wonder if all the load-shedding lately may have spoiled something they served.

Not every restaurant has inverters and generators, and they hope the food stays fresh during the load-shedding period of two to two and a half hours. There’s never been a problem at Jabula since they use generators for their fridges during outages. Speaking of Jabula, tonight we’ll be returning for sundowners and dinner at the bar, and tomorrow night, Louise and Danie will join us.

Busy morning in the bush. At that point, we counted nine antelope in the garden, not all shown in this photo.

The fact that we’re dining out tonight made me less interested in eating lunch out (instead of breakfast). It seems kind of weird to eat out twice in one day, which we only do when staying in hotels, and all meals must be eaten in restaurants.

When I checked last year’s post for a “year ago photo,” I noticed there was no post on this date last year. We were traveling to Florida to spend a few weeks with our friends Karen and Rich before sailing on a transatlantic cruise to Southampton, a voyage during which, on the last two days, we both tested positive for Omicron.

By contracting Covid-19, we had to cancel the following cruise, sailing away a few days later when we both became very ill. We lost the money for that cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to New Yrok when they only gave us an extension for ten months that we couldn’t use within that timeframe.

Norman and Big Daddy are trying to get along while eating pellets.

We had a good time in Florida, but unfortunately, our friend Karen became ill (not Covid) while we were there. Wow! How time flies! It’s hard to believe that was a year ago.

Also, today, after our appointments with Doc Theo, we’ll head to the pharmacy, where I’ll get some refills and a few toiletries. With no store like Target, we must purchase toiletries not carried at Spar supermarket, at the small pharmacy with limited brands. Somehow, for all the time we’ve been here, we’ve managed to get most of the items we use.

Norman, Nina, and the baby have been visiting several times a day. Look at how much the baby has grown!

After refilling my prescriptions, I’ll return to Doc Theo one more time before we leave. The pharmacist has agreed to give me one year’s worth of my medications after I get new prescriptions from Theo. That way, I’ll have enough of what I need to get me through until we return one year later. I don’t want to have to find a doctor to write prescriptions, wherever we may be during that year away.

We hadn’t grocery shopped in three weeks before Tom left for the US, other than picking up a few items in the local shops. Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are bare, and our two refrigerators are almost empty.

Time to head out. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2022:

There was no post one year ago today due to a travel day.

Meet Ruffles, an adorable female kudu…A fitful night with weird circumstances…

The female kudu facing the camera is Ruffles since her ears are ruffly, unlike the other kudus.

The days seem to pass quickly lately, but the nights sometimes drag on. Last night was one of those nights for me. I awoke at 2:00 am itching from mozzie and chigger bites. I got up and put on some numbing cream, the only product that seems to help me sleep when itchy.

After leaving the bathroom after applying the cream, I crawled back into bed, hoping I wouldn’t wake Tom. He stirred but seemed sound asleep, with a soft snore passing through his lips, which never bothered me. Wide awake after getting back into bed, I plugged my wired earpiece into my right ear so I could comfortably lay on my left side, figuring I’d watch an episode of Naked and Afraid to lull me back to sleep. With the earpiece plugged into the phone, Tom doesn’t hear the show.

Watching a show on my phone always helps me fall back to sleep. But, often, the show continues to play, wearing down the battery. If I awake a few hours later and can’t go back to sleep, my phone may be dead. There’s a power cord next to the bed, but it’s very short, and I have to lay close to the edge of the bed to have it charge while I am using it.

Our Big Daddy regularly stops to enjoy some pellets.

There’s a shortage of outlets in houses in Africa with no particular building and zoning laws requiring an outlet every so-many meters. As a result, charging our laptops and phones is sometimes challenging, and we have to share certain outlets with multiple pieces of equipment.

Sitting at the dining room table, there is nowhere to plug in my laptop (with an adapter and converter). I can plug my phone into my computer, but that drains the laptop’s battery more quickly. The only place in the house to plug in my laptop is next to my side of the bed, with a tangled mass of cords on the floor that I have to navigate every time I get up to avoid tripping.

So, anyway, last night, when I got back into bed planning to watch the show, my phone had gone into some peculiar “talk-back” mode. I could not manipulate any apps on the phone, let alone get into “settings” to figure out how this happened. After playing around with the phone for about 30 minutes, I decided the only way I could figure this out was to load my laptop and look up instructions to stop this weird feature.

Big Daddy is enormous,

When I got out of bed, I likely hit something on the phone that triggered the “talk-back” feature. I didn’t want to awaken Tom; I was cautious the screen wouldn’t be in his eyes. Luckily, he was facing the opposite way, and I was able to load the laptop.

In only a matter of 60 seconds, I found instructions on how to disable “talk back.” It was to double press both sides of the volume button on the right side of the phone, below the start button. It worked immediately. Of course, during the entire time I tried to resolve this situation, I kept the phone charging on the short cord, or else I may have had a dead battery by the time the issue was resolved.

Finally, the phone was charged sufficiently, and I could load Express VPN and then the Discovery app to bring up the show, Naked and Afraid, and I rolled over onto my left side to watch the show. Within minutes, I was back to sleep to find the show had automatically moved through two more episodes while I slept until 7:30 am, overall getting enough total sleep to feel OK. Next time I watch the show, I’ll return to where I left off when I fell asleep.

Again, Big Daddy and Norman face-off, but both stay calm.

Sure, I’d love to be one of those people who fall asleep after their head hits the pillow and then proceed to sleep through the night. That’s never been me. But, overall, I get enough sleep, usually seven to eight hours each night. My Fitbit seems pretty accurate in logging how much sleep I get each night and the quality of that sleep.

Today, we’re staying in and again cooking on the braai with pork chops for Tom, a lamb chop for me, rice for Tom, and salad for both of us. The weather is tolerable, humid but not too hot, but certainly, we’ll enjoy a lovely afternoon and evening with the wildlife and perhaps sundowners on the veranda.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Komatipoort for our appointments with Doc Theo, a trip to the pharmacy and grocery shop, and, if time allows, lunch at Stoep Cafe. Also, tomorrow evening, we’re off to Jabula for more fun at the bar and restaurant. It will be nice to get out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2022:

We always had a reason to celebrate. Here is Don (Kathy and Don) and Rita (Rita and Gerhard) at Jabula celebrating our friendships. For more photos, please click here.

Antelope altercation in the garden…The worms have turned into moths…They are everywhere…

Big Daddy and Norman engage in a dominance dance in the garden.

Antelopes are prevalent in Marloth Park. They include, based on size: kudu, nyala, impalas, bushbucks, and duikers. It’s a rare occasion to witness disharmony among these animals, other than pushing and shoving when jockeying for pellets, even common among family members of the same species.

It’s been a rarity for us to see fighting among the various species of antelopes when they visit the garden. However, since Norman has become such a regular here, we’ve noticed that he gets defensive when there are the Big Daddy kudus in the garden, whether close to the house or at a distance of fewer than 30 meters, which is, by his standards, too close for comfort.

As we’ve shown in past photos, Norman fluffs up his hair to make himself appear larger and hangs his head low. We aren’t sure if dropping down his head is to add to appearing larger or if it is a form of submission. Most would assume, by watching him, that its submission.

From time to time, they slowly move around the garden.

The massive Big Daddies respond to Norman’s sign of courage and strength. They certainly don’t run off frightened by Norman, but they recoil to a certain degree. If it was submission, it would be counterintuitive to appear larger, to make the male kudu with massive horns become frightened of him.

In any case, it’s interesting to observe. Of course, we’re a little concerned they could engage in a fight which would be disastrous, and there would be nothing we could do to stop it. In some instances, in the wild, these animals have fought to the death when protecting their territory, food source, or females and family members, although from what we’ve read, it’s very rare.

Norman with his head down during his “fluffing up” session.

As gentle animals, they aren’t explicitly looking for a fight. We proceed with caution when offering food when the other is nearby to avoid the remote possibility of an altercation.

Today, Tom observed these scenes shown in the photos while I was showering. A short time later, when I came out of the bedroom, they were both still in the garden, doing their dance of dominance, Norman more than Big Daddy.

It’s always interesting to watch the behavior of the wildlife in Marloth Park. Spending most of our daylight hours outdoors, it’s inevitable we’d often see how wildlife interact with one another. The most aggressive animals we’ve observed are warthogs who will fight with any other animal over food, territory, or mating rights.  The next most often we’ve seen is zebras among themselves when vying for pellets. They will kick and bite one another to get the next morsel into their mouths.

He doesn’t respond to my voice when he is in this position.

That awful invasion of slimy black worms continued for several weeks but ended about a week ago. The older worms have morphed into annoying giant black moths, flying around inside the house and the veranda. There is no way to escape them, although they are bothersome but harmless.

All we can do is keep the exterior doors open, hoping none will get into the bedroom (we keep that door closed at all times). If we shut the exterior doors, the house’s interior gets too hot, and there’s no aircon unit on the main floor other than in the bedroom. In time, these moths will disappear, and then some other annoying insect will take over. After all, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that’s what happens here.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2022:

Bossy’s baby suckles while another female looks for pellets. For more photos, please click here.