Day #283 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…9 days and counting…No delusions…

This kind man, Mr. Ganapthay of Cholan Art Village, made the experience of visiting his nine generation family bronzing business all the more special to both of us.

Today’s photos are a continuation of those we posted during our first few months in India on tour, in today’s case on March 14, 2020. See the post here. We’ll continue on this path, sharing more tour photos until it’s time for us to leave on January 11, 2021. From there, God willing, it will be an entirely new world!

We have no delusions about getting out of here in nine days. We both have accepted the reality that we could be returning to this hotel, hours after heading for the airport in the early morning, to book it once again. We have definitely decided we would return to this particular hotel, on the premise, “love the one you’re with.”

Mr. Ganapthay warm smile won our hearts. He showed us the items at varying stages in the production.

One may ask, why not go for new scenery or the option to be outdoors? We’ll have spent 10 months here and didn’t contract Covid-19. That’s all the assurance we need. Plus, to start over, with all of our food requirements, cleaning protocol and safety concerns would only add more stress and confusion, which if we can’t leave, we don’t want.

So that aspect of our potential inability to depart India, in itself, gives us peace of mind, knowing what to expect. Most likely, international flights would resume in two or three months and we’d start over again. At any point, we have the option to “throw in the towel” and return to the US since repatriation flights are still available in small numbers.

Wax and sand are used in making molds.

However, as our long time readers know, that is not our objective. With the rampant rise in cases of Covid-19 daily and the lack of coordination on the flow of the vaccine, we feel better off making other plans at this point. If we were going to be stuck here another nine or ten months, we may have no choice but to do so. For now, that’s not on our radar.

Instead, we’re trying to be proactive as to our choices over the next few weeks and going forward. Also, we are bracing ourselves for the upcoming realities of Marloth Park, which for many travelers may be difficult and inconvenient.

The wax mold for the bronze head of a God that his brother sculps, soon to be completed.

Since we belong to many Marloth Park Facebook groups, each day, we read what’s going on in the park. At times, it’s disheartening and may cause many travelers to think twice before booking a bush home in the wild. Such challenges at this time include:

  • Heat: It is summertime in SA upon our arrival, and the temperatures can easily rise well into the 100F, 40C, or more. It’s hot and sticky, often with not much of a breeze, if any at all. This is Africa, not Palm Beach.
  • Power: Due to Eskom, the electric power company, there are almost daily power outages, referred to as “load shedding” to reduce usage. This results in sleepless nights when temperatures are over 100F, 40C, during the day when we can’t use a fan or air-con. Most bush houses don’t have air-con in the living areas so residents must bear the daytime heat regardless. Besides, we prefer to spend the majority of each day outdoors to see the visiting wildlife, rather than sitting indoors in an air-conditioned room.
    The brother, in the process of manufacturing an item.
  • WiFi: Without power, we won’t have WiFi in the house. Fortunately, this time, we have WiFi on our phones and although it can be pricey when they are used as hotspots if used excessively, it’s worthwhile for uploading posts and conducting online searches.
  • Water outages: The water in MP is not safe to drink or use for brushing teeth. From time to time, the water supply is cut off for hours, or even days. We’ll deal with this on a case by case basis and improvise as needed. We’ll always have plenty of bottled water on hand.
  • Mosquitoes: We decided against taking prophylactic malaria medication. Once again, we plan to stay in Africa for an extended period and it’s not recommended to be taking the drugs long term. The last time I took them was while we were in Botswana in 2018. I had an uncomfortable reaction, some weird headache, and stopped them after a few days. As it turned out we spent 15 months in Africa in 2018-2019 and diligently used roll-on repellent for full protection, which we re-applied every six hours. With regular use of the repellent, we were able to avoid being bitten.
    They work in their bare feet next to the very hot items.
  • Snakes: They are everywhere during the hot summer months, often in the house and gardens, many of which are highly venomous, and life-threatening. It’s imperative to constantly be on the lookout for snakes, immediately reporting their presence to one of the many professionals in Marloth Park. We will contact Juan, whom we know and is an expert handler. They will not be killed but will be relocated to other safer locations, such as in Lionspruit, another conservancy with wildlife, located within Marloth Park.
  • Grocery shopping: Although there are a few shops in Marloth Park, most of them offer only grocery items applicable for short-term tourists. Most likely, once a week we will travel the 22 minutes to Komatipoort to shop at the big market, Spar, and the larger meat market. There is a small meat market in MP that served us well for many items, owned by the same larger company in Komati. With frequent power outages, we don’t want to worry about meat and other groceries spoiling. We’ll have to shop frequently, increasing exposure to Covid-19 in the busy town.
    Rows upon rows of shelves filled with bronze figures for sale.

Yes, many tourists would shy away from such challenges. But, after a total of 18 months of experience, living in the bush since the onset of our travels, we feel comfortable that we can handle it. After all, when I returned from the hospital after open-heart surgery, in awful pain and discomfort, and again more than a month later, after two surgeries on both legs, I managed then and we’ll manage now.

For us, the experience is worth it, as it is for many who visit and many who own bush houses. I can’t say we’ll never whinge a little about such inconveniences since as we’ll always, “tell it like it is” but, in any case, it will be a lot more enjoyable than sitting in this hotel room for 10 months. This morning, again, our bacon was burned. Hum, bacon every day, 10 months. Go figure.

Now, let’s get through these next nine days and be on our way!!!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2020:

At the New Year’s Eve party a few nights earlier. For more, see here.

 

 

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