New visitors to the garden appear on trail cam photos!!!…

Definitely, not as clear as we’d like. We were thrilled to see these two Meller’s Mongoose on the trail cam last night.

We had a relatively quiet day upon returning from Royal Kruger Lodge, where we slept on Saturday night after a pipe broke in the bathroom and flooded the house. The house was back in order. I’d already done the laundry the previous day, and nothing more than writing a new post, making dinner, and continuing with my exercise routine was required of me.

It was on my mind that we needed to go to Louise‘s office early in the morning to get clearer scanned copies of our passports and visa stamped pages from when we returned from Zambia in October with our current visas good until January 23, 2022. Now, the law firm has all of the necessary documents to begin processing our extensions. We wait.

When an application for an extension is submitted, the approval won’t be tendered until after the original visa extension dates have expired. We have to stay in the country until the approval comes through, or we’ll become “undesirables” if we leave earlier.

In other words, if the approval doesn’t come in until we need to leave for our April 8th cruise, we won’t have the benefit of the extension and will be banned from South Africa for five years. We don’t want that to happen. The usual processing time using a lawyer is under 60 days. On our own, it could easily have been much longer.

Immigration offices are poorly staffed right now due to the pandemic. It was worth paying the US $983, ZAR 15,366 for the legal fees. It is several thousand dollars less than we’d have paid to fly somewhere.

It is hard to get perfect shots from the trail cam, but we’d never been able to see these two Meller’s Mongoose in the garden without it.

If our transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Cruise Line is canceled, we’ll have no choice but to leave around April 23, when the new visa extensions expire. We can only wait and see what happens. Many cruises are canceling now, and ours could soon be on the chopping block.

We’d love to embark on this cruise, but the news isn’t promising. Instead, we’re keeping a positive attitude and loosely considering our options if we can’t sail away. No, we aren’t worried. This pandemic is now in its third year, and we’ve managed to figure out what to do, time after time.

We finally got our refund from Delta Airlines on the flight they canceled for what would have been our trip to friend Karen and Rich’s wedding, upcoming, on February 11. We’re disappointed we couldn’t attend the wedding but being stuck in a two-week quarantine in a hotel in Florida was particularly unappealing to us.

And yet there was no other way to fully provide peace of mind to the wedding party with us coming from South Africa. There are nearly 1,000,000 new cases a day in the US, and the misconception is that South Africa is worse. It is not. Now, 95% of all cases are the less dangerous Omicron variant. But, even if a bride or groom ended up with the cold-like symptoms, typical with Omicron, it could put quite a damper on their wedding. We understood the concern and chose to stay away.

Instead, this week we’re content in Marloth Park as always. It’s Rita’s 60th birthday week, and many fun activities are planned to which we’re included. Today, they are in Johannesburg, picking up Rita’s sister Petra and her husband, Fritz, from the airport, arriving from Germany and staying with them for a few weeks.

They will all be staying at the Khaya Umdani house starting today. On Wednesday, we’re going to that house for a dinner party celebrating Rita and Gerhard’s one-year US citizenship anniversary. On Friday, on the actual day of Rita’s birthday, we’re going on a night game drive with a guide into Kruger National Park, ending with a dinner in the bush, in the dark, with the wild animals surrounding us.  Then on Saturday evening, the six of us will head to Jabula for dinner.

Next week, we’ll invite the four of them for dinner at our house. It will be a fun and busy time. We’re happy to have an active social life with dear friends once again.

Vusi is here now cleaning the house, and we’re sitting at the table on the veranda as usual. Stingy is here along with Imposter Little, but we had many more animals a short time ago.  More and more holidaymakers are leaving the park after the school holidays have ended. Soon, we’ll see many more wildlife visitors, and I’ll be able to take more photos that have been sparse over the long holiday season.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #291. An owl we spotted in Kanha National Park in India. For more photos, please click here.

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