I am sitting at the big table on the veranda and can’t stop laughing. There are so many animals stopping by I can hardly type a word for today’s post. Between Little, Broken Horn, ThickNeck/BadLeg, Spikey, and his mom, 25 helmeted guinea fowls, Frank, Go-Away birds, and other warthogs and bushbucks, I can’t sit still long enough to type a word. I keep getting up for more pellets and seeds.
The sights and sounds of the bush grab my attention, especially knowing that in 59 days, we will be leaving South Africa, unsure as to when we’ll return. It could be one year. It could be two. It’s all subject to what transpires with Covid-19. We do know that beyond the end of February, after friends Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida, whether or not our cruises to Japan sail or not, we will be leaving the US to continue on our journey.
Of course, if Covid continues to rage throughout the world, and if there is nowhere safe or without restrictions for us to visit, we may have to rethink the possibility of plans outside the US. The alternative has been our long-range plan to travel to the US, and in the worst case, the time to do that may be coming sooner rather than later. At this point, we don’t have a clue.
As for most of us, Covid-19 determines our future fate, especially regarding travel. We’ve often thought about renting an RV to eventually travel the US when we were getting too old for long-distance travel, hauling heavy bags, and flying on countless red-eye flights. Is the handwriting on the wall and that time may be sooner than we’d hoped?
It will be less than two years ago that we stayed in Apache Junction with Tom’s sisters. We particularly loved the days and evenings we spent with them, socializing and having fun. Now, as the days tick away for us to leave Africa, where we’ll be soon, looms heavily on my mind.
But, the days in-between those delightfully fun social interactions were hard for me. It reminded me too much of what our lives would be like if we gave up our journey and settled somewhere in the US. After all, we’ve seen and done. Such a thought is far removed from our reality. The trips to the supermarket, Walgreens, Target, the bank, and more remind me of a life I struggle to embrace at this point.
We never imagined our life of world travel would end due to a pandemic. Who imagined they’d lose their jobs, work from home, home school their kids, and wear face masks every time they stepped out the door? Who imagined their social lives would be small and fraught with worry and concern over “catching” the virus?
Even those of us vaccinated are still proceeding with caution in everything we do, everywhere we go, when the media and even science continue to throw us curve balls on what we can and can’t do, what is safe for ourselves, and our family. Will a booster jab be necessary? No one seems to know for sure. When will the numbers come down? Are the numbers real or exaggerated? None of us knows for sure. We live in a constant state of limbo.
Many of our friends who usually spend time in Marloth Park never came here, frightened of their fate, their safety. Are we no different in deciding to leave when we don’t even know if it’s safer in the US or not? Based on the stats from Worldometer, the US is still in the #1 spot on the list of countries. Why would we assume it’s safer there?
Arizona, where we’re going in 59 days, is listed in the 12th position out of 56 states and US territories. There’s a large senior population in Arizona. From the web:
“The number of elderly (persons over the age of sixty years) in Arizona will grow from a current level of around 900,000 in 2000, representing some 18 percent of the population to 1.8 million and 24 percent in 2020 and almost three million and 26 percent of the population in 2050.”
If 24% of the current population in Arizona is senior citizens, what percentage of those are recent cases of Covid-19?
From this article:
Arizona’s older population could mean more COVID-19 deaths.
That’s a higher share of the elderly than some states that have so far seen more significant outbreaks than Arizona. About 18.6% of people in California are over age 60, 19.1% in Colorado, 20.6% in Washington, and 21.2% in New York.
“Those that are over the age of 60 or those that have other significant medical issues are the ones most likely to suffer that mortality rate from COVID-19,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, said. “The age of a country or a state or even a town will determine the death rate.”
No, we don’t dwell on this every day. Of course, we will continue to avoid a sense of doomsday and be optimistic for the future. But now, as the time to return to the US nears, it’s unavoidable to free ourselves of such thoughts when we are out in public and at gatherings, just as we’ve done here in Marloth Park.
And, as I sit here today, surrounded by our wildlife friends, I already feel the sense of loss I’ll feel leaving here. If it weren’t for the necessity of going every 90 days for a visa stamp, undoubtedly, we’d have stayed longer. But, without a doubt, we’ll have a good time in Apache Junction, Arizona, with Tom’s siblings and then on to Florida for the wedding.
Life goes on. Thank God for that!!!
Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2020: