New travel plans revealed….Leaving South Africa in 24 days, not returning for over a year…

Earl has been stopping by for the past several days.

We knew this time would come…that we’d be leaving Marloth Park for an extended period. We do this knowing we’ll be back in about 14 months after many adventures in between. It’s about time we get back out into the world! It’s been quite enjoyable spending the past few years, off and on, in Marloth Park, but the rest of the world awaits us.

When speaking with the immigration attorney, she emphatically stated we have to leave South Africa on or before April 30, or we will be considered “undesirables,” which would ban us from returning for five years. We wouldn’t qualify for another waiver after we’d already used that option after I had open heart surgery in 2019. We have no choice but to leave.

Baby nyala Natalie is so adorable. She’s growing up so fast.

The interpretation of the new dictates imposed by immigration for pending visa extension applications, like ours, is unclear, but we can’t take any chances. One never knows for certain what will happen when trying to leave the country.

Secondly, we have discovered we cannot apply for our new 10-year passports at the US Consulate in Pretoria, which we also planned to do while here. It was entirely doable before the pandemic, but now the phone at the US Consulate doesn’t get answered regardless of when we call and how long we let it ring. The website claims we can apply for an appointment online. This is impossible. The link doesn’t work. TIA.

Mom Nina is in the forefront with Natalie outside the little fence.

I called the US Embassy, and they refused to help, saying that a US passport applicant must go through the consulate. What a mess! We’d have to leave even if we could have stayed longer. Our 10-year passports expired in 2021, and now our 4-year passport expires in January 2024. The upcoming cruises we’ve booked require at least six months remaining until the passports expire to board the ships.

As a result of both of these scenarios, we knew we had no choice but to leave. Since it’s not easy getting US passports in foreign countries unless on a short-term emergency basis, which is not us, we also knew we needed to return to the US to renew the 10-year passports.

So the question became, where do we go in the US for three months? We’ll be spending time with family in Minnesota and Nevada in September after the completion of two of the cruises. Holiday homes are priced out of our budget in Minnesota and Nevada, and since we have three months to fill until the first cruise on August 1, we decided to step outside the box and try something entirely new.

Nina and Natalie usually visit together. From time to time, Natalie hangs out with her dad Norman.

A long time ago, we watched a documentary about The Villages in central Florida and were fascinated by all it offered seniors. Where could we go that would be fun socially, perhaps near other seniors? But, for us, this is merely a stop along the way to fill these three months and not a “look-see” for any potential plans for the future.

To stay in some arbitrary US location and try to meet people and have a social life right away it’s tough in the US and many other countries. It’s not as if strangers try to make new friends when they’re out and about. After living there all of our lives except the past 10-plus years, we know this. By leaving Marloth Park, we are leaving many wonderful friends behind.

Nina and Norman enjoying breakfast at our house.

We had a busy social life in the US, but it had taken years to build relationships, unlike when people were ultra-friendly and welcoming. We thought if we went to a retirement community with lots of activities, we might be able to enjoy a busy social life during those three months. The obvious answer was The Villages for the three-month stint.

We got to work researching at VRBO, our preferred holiday home site, and researched exclusively for The Villages, which was easy to do. When we started seeing very nice golf carts that were often included in the rental, we wondered…was it possible we could avoid the expense of a rental car? Every possible shopping and entertainment venue, restaurant, and more were within a short drive using the golf carts allowed on all streets within the community.

Ruffles has become quite a regular.

Yesterday, we signed up for a three-month rental of a three-bedroom, two-full-bath property with a golf cart that we’ll be moving into on April 30. We’ll be departing 90 days later to head to Scotland for the first of two upcoming cruises on August 1.As mentioned above, we’ll be back in the US in September to see family. Afterward, we’ll be off to South America for many months, including a cruise from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos Islands.

We booked our flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg to Atlanta to Orlando for April 29. The journey will take about 30 hours, with the long overnight flight of 16 hours and 50 minutes from Joburg to Atlanta, a flight we’ve become very familiar with. We no longer anticipate it with dread. We know what to expect…lots of movies, little sleep, and terrible food. We don’t like to eat in the middle of the night anyway. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of our posting objectives during the three months. This will be an entirely new perspective for our site that may be of particular interest to seniors, with many photos included.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2022:

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself. This is in front of our friends Karen and Rich’s Apollo Beach, Florida house. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses New travel plans revealed….Leaving South Africa in 24 days, not returning for over a year…

  1. Susan Anderson Reply

    You will be spending 3 months in my ol neck of the Florida neighborhood! Small world indeed.
    Are you aware that the Villages offers transportation for a nominal fee to and from the Orlando airport? It is the means of transportation I always used, it is about a 90 minute ride in very nice vehicles.
    Looking forward to reading about your Villages experience. We lived nearby in Florida for 40+ years and it was nice to visit the Villages but we’d not choose to live there, too many people, too expensive. Now we are full time RVers traveling the great USA since 2015 and we love spending our time out west over the east coast.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Susan, so nice to hear from you! Glad you are still enjoying your RV lifestyle. We often talk of doing that in the US someday. There is so much to see in the US.
      We’ll certainly keep you updated on our views on The Villages as time progresses. It should be interesting.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  2. Michelle Burger Reply

    Congratulations! My aunt and uncle own a place in the Villages and love it! Plus with all the snow in Minnesota still you might even have family and friends from MN still wanting to visit in May!

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Michelle, we are certain we will enjoy it. It’s good to hear your aunt and uncle love it there. It’s a short three-month stay but we will make use of its many amenities. Thanks for writing and lots of love to you and your family.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

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