A sad event impacts our future travels…Changing plans…Changing lives…

We’re surprisingly getting a ton of visitors during the busy rainy holiday weekend.

It’s Sunday morning at 11:00. We’re going out to dinner on Tuesday with Alan and Fiona for her birthday. I just spent two hours in the kitchen making Tom’s favorite low-carb, grain-free pizza, which we’ll bake at dinnertime, and a three-night portion of sauteed chicken breast tenders with mushrooms, onions, and garlic for me. We’ll enjoy these main dishes Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. I won’t have to cook for days. I don’t eat the pizza when it’s too fattening for me, significantly since I drop a few more kilos.

But, of course, you don’t care to read about my morning in the kitchen, do you? Moreso, what the heck is going on with no post yesterday and some arbitrary change in plans?

On Friday afternoon, Minnesota-time, our dear brother-in-law, Gene, husband of Tom’s sister Colleen, sadly passed away after a long and challenging illness exacerbated by a brain injury that occurred years ago when he fell on ice and snow in Minnesota. We often hear of injuries seniors suffer from falling in the long winter months in Minnesota, certainly one reason we don’t want to visit Minnesota in the winter, especially with my unstable legs.

Everyone’s head is down eating pellets.

When Colleen wrote to tell Tom the sad news, it was 11:30 pm here and I was sound asleep. He didn’t want to awaken me, knowing this information could keep me awake all night, wondering what we’d do when we leave here on October 21st, less than three weeks away.

As it turned out, I awoke at 4:00 am, unable to go back to sleep, almost anticipating something had happened. At 5:30, Tom asked me if I was awake and proceeded to tell me the news. We were sad to hear about this, but also it had a significant impact on our upcoming plans.

Colleen is Tom’s sister, whose home we planned to stay in for three months in Apache Junction, Arizona. With Gene’s passing surely, Colleen would surely want to get out of Minnesota for the winter and spend time with her sisters in warm, sunny Arizona.

I ran out onto the road to take this giraffe photo.

She hadn’t been able to go to her home in Apache Junction due to Covid-19 and Gene’s poor health since 2019, when we were last there with them before we took off for India in January 2020. There was no way we would prevent her from going to her property by staying in it for three months during the winter.

Lying there in bed at 5:30 am, discussing this, we considered a few options. We could rent a holiday home somewhere in the US. But, recently, before deciding on Arizona, we’d done extensive searches for holiday homes in the US states with warm winters. Since the onset of Covid-19 and losses incurred by holiday homeowners, prices for long-term rentals have gone through the roof.

In suitable locations, even without being overly picky, any properties we may have considered were three times the cost of our rent here in South Africa. Of course, after India, we’re not willing to stay long-term in a hotel. The handwriting was on the wall. We needed to stay in Marloth Park and fly to a non-bordering country in Africa to get our visas stamped.

At a decent hour, I contacted Louise, who we know is an early bird, to see when we could stop by to discuss our possible living arrangements if we did decide to stay another three months. We met up with her at 10:00 am.

When I walked back up the driveway toward the house, Tom distract Broken Horn with pellets to ensure my safety. This huge animal could be startled and gore an unsuspecting human.

An important fact remained in our minds. Recently, we booked several cruises, a few of which are expensive compared to our average day-to-day expenses. We figured if we could live inexpensively for several months, we could stay within our budget for the year with the costs of these cruises.

But, if we had to pay enormous sums for rent over the following months, we may have to reconsider what we’ve booked. Let’s face it. We’re not getting any younger. I am fast approaching 74, and Tom will be 69 sooner than later. When we return to South Africa by a cruise in December  2022, we will celebrate Tom’s 70th and, two months later, my 75th birthday during those first three months we are here.

We’ve decided to budget to the best of our ability to ensure we can visit new places we’ve longed to see throughout the world for whatever time we have left that we can do so. Traveling like this isn’t easy. It requires a lot of careful planning and physical energy on travel days and a lot of work required to pack and move all the time. Many seniors would find this simply too exhausting and too much work, which we understand. But for now, we still have the stamina to do it. For us, it’s not a chore. It’s an adventure every single time.

Lots of kudus this morning, including Bad Eye, whose torn eyelid is looking much better.

It appears we can move our original flight to Arizona without penalty from Delta Airlines due to Covid-19 changes, and thus, we won’t incur any losses by changing our flights. Louise can let us stay in this same house until January 23, 2022, when we’ll leave for Florida, where we’ll stay with friends Karen and Rich before and after their February wedding.

We booked round-trip direct flights to Zambia on October 21st and returned on October 26th for our visa stamps. Louise is helping us book some events in Zambia, which we won’t wrap up for a few days when the tourist offices reopen on Monday.

We called Colleen, offering her our heartfelt sympathies, and told her she could now go to Arizona for the winter since we’ve made other plans and won’t tie up her one-bedroom property. She was so sweet and more than willing to let us stay. But we knew her going there would be good for her during this time of grief and sorrow.

In the next few days, we’ll report back with definitive plans for the Zambia stay, one of the few countries we can fly to on a direct flight from Nelspruit. There was no way we were interested in booking an expensive trip with long flights going through Johannesburg. Nelspruit is a 75-minute drive from here, and the flight is less than two hours to Livingstone.

We’re good. Not worried. Not stressed. It was the right thing to do.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #194. In Bali, a dragonfly was fluttering around the two koi ponds by either side of the front entryway. Much to my delight, it returned almost every day to the exact location. For more, please click here.

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