Part 1…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A few first time sightings…So exciting!…

This was an exciting sighting for us, the elusive nyala which we’d never seen during this past year in South Africa.  From this site:  The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in colour. The rams have long inward curved horns 650 mm (26 inches) and a white chevroned face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 kg (254 pounds) and measures 1.05 m (41 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 kg (130 pounds) and stand 900 mm (35 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-shouldered kite.  From this siteThe black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.
Its late in the day, almost 1600 hours (4:30 pm) and I’m anxious to get today’s post uploaded to ensure we can begin wildlife watching on the veranda by our usual 1700 hours (5:00 pm).
At first, when we glimpsed at these three well-hidden animals we thought they were kudus based on the stripes on their bodies.  But, after further inspection, we realized these three antelopes were not kudus but, the elusive nyala.  

Thus, I’m rushing a little and only sharing a few of the highlights of today’s outing in Kruger National Park, leaving the balance of the exciting sightings for tomorrow.

It was a perfect day to enter the park. The weather was a moderate 26C, (79F), the sky was overcast and cloudy but there was no rain in sight.  These were ideal conditions for wildlife to be in plain view. We weren’t disappointed.
Known to be rather shy it was tricky taking a few photos.
On the hottest of days, the animals often stay undercover from the scorching sun or gravitate toward water holes we’re unable to see from the paved or dirt roads.  With the recent rains many formerly dry waterbeds now have some water to attract the animals.  Considerably more rain is desperately needed to have an impact on the river.  
The Crocodile River we cross upon entry into the park is practically bone dry.  Five years ago during this same time period, the river was practically overflowing as opposed to its current sparse sections of water leaving many animals seeking smaller bodies of water for sustenance.  

It was difficult to take a photo of the three of them together but we waited patiently for this shot.

We took off at 9:00 am, leaving the preparation of today’s post for our recent return. Subsequently, we’re breezing through as quickly as possible and will provide a more comprehensive post tomorrow.

I tried sitting outdoors on the veranda while preparing this but the biting black flies were so bad, I had no choice but to come indoors to finish here.  The sofas and chairs in the living room, although comfy for lounging, are not suitable for working on a laptop.
While we waited we were able to finally able to take a few photos of the individual nyalas.
So i apologize for this quick post but promise more for tomorrow especially since we have some stunning sightings to share that we’ve saving exactly for that purpose.
It was a shame they wouldn’t come out from the dense bush but we did the best we could.
Our plan today was to drive on the paved road all the way to Lower Sabie and to stop for breakfast at the popular Mugg & Bean, one of few restaurants in Kruger National Park. The food was hot, fresh and served quickly based on the fact that we were two of only about eight diners in the entire restaurant.  
After breakfast we were back on the road, taking a dirt road off the beaten path.  It was during this diversion that we saw the two bird photos were sharing today.  We’d previously posted photos of the European roller but never of the black-shouldered kite.
A wildebeest mom and her offspring.
As many of our readers are well aware, we aren’t necessarily “birders” in the truest sense of the word.  However, from time to time when we spot something unique we’re excited to share it with our readers.  Of course, we have a special affinity toward our resident francolins, Frank and The Mrs., and the mating hornbills.
The mom kept a watchful eye on us to ensure we were no risk to her young calf.
There were few tourists in Kruger although at a few sightings, four or five vehicles were stacked up making it difficult to get into a good position for easily taking photos.  

In these circumstances, our mutual patience and persistence pays off.  We picked a good spot and waited for a better position to open up.  Eventually, other observers lost interest and moved on, enabling us to move into a better location.  
This was the first photo we’d taken of a tree squirrel in Kruger National Park.
That’s what self-driving in a national park is all about, having the flexibility to do what’s necessary to take good photos while maintaining a degree of courteousness and kindness – a winning combination.
This evening we’ll stay in, cook dinner and look forward to darkness when the flies seem to disappear but then, the pesky mozzies appear.  Oh well, TIA (this is Africa) after all, isn’t it?
This a a European roller.  From this site:  The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco. They are migratory, wintering in Africa, mainly in the east and south.           

We hope you have a pleasant evening and that all is well in your world!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2018:

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking.  For more photos from Antarctica, please click here.

Torrential rains and gecko poop…Living on a tropical island minus the grass hut…The simple life…

 

These colorful flowers are growing close to the house.

It rained so hard, we had to yell to speak. While watching an episode of a favorite show, we had to turn the volume up to the maximum. The roof of this free-standing house is made of tile and the pounding rain made an earsplitting sound. We laughed as we walked about in wonder as to how it could rain so hard and make such noise.

We hadn’t seen rain like this since we began our travels. The closest was a few storms in Kenya two years ago. Luckily, the house is high on a hill with no water making its way inside during these downpours. We were able to keep the jalousie windows open during the storm to continue to feel the cooling breezes.

View from the veranda.

The weather in the Fijian Islands is fairly consistent making it an ideal holiday/vacation destination. Right now, we’re at the tail end of the low precipitation season. As long as we and others don’t lose power and resources, we don’t mind the rain.

Last night, the geckos must have sought shelter indoors from the pelting rain when this morning there was no less than 20 white dots of gecko poop scattered on the glass coffee table and floor. Walking around with a damp rag we cleaned up the powdery white residue.

A strip of beach on the way to the village.

Tom worked his way along the house using the ant repellent stick resembling a piece of chalk, scraping it along the baseboards and the kitchen countertops where the wood meets the wall. 

Each time I prepare food, I scrub the counters with hot soapy water before starting and after completing to keep the ants under control. It’s all a part of life in the tropics and we’ve easily gotten into the routine of taking measures to keep our house feeling clean and as free of insects as possible.

Ah, once again, we are able to observe the morphology of a bunch of bananas on this blooming pod, as we’d observed while in Madeira 16 months ago.

It’s a part of living in the tropics. Adapting to the environment in each country we visit is vastly different than our old lives.  Where we are now in Vanua Levu, Fiji, we are in one of the most remote areas we’ve visited to date. And yet, we feel at ease. Experience is a powerful teacher.

With the limited sites to see other than the beautiful natural terrain and vegetation, the fact that we don’t scuba dive or snorkel, our activities will be somewhat limited while living on the island. 

A common monarch butterfly.

With only 14 items listed in TripAdvisor for “things to do” in Savusavu, we anticipate that four will be on our agenda. All other activities appear to revolve around scuba diving. 

But, without scuba diving on our “to do” list, we are happy to be here, living this stress-free life with no traffic, no lines, extraordinary safety (according to the locals) and a level of simplicity we find particularly appealing. 

This is truly the place one would envision “living on a tropical island,” minus the grass hut, instead, living in a modest house overlooking the sea with electricity, running water, wifi (albeit rather slow), and a modicum of creature comforts. The enjoyment level is entirely up to us and so far, with a few glitches behind us, we’re comfortable and feeling stress-free.

A bloom, seen from the veranda.

Of course, I’m concerned we’ll have enough material to share during the simplicity of this life. However, with our weekly trips with Rashnesh to explore the island, taking no less than 100 photos on each occasion, we should be able to hold the interest of many of our loyal readers. Please stay with us sharing your stories, thoughts, and comments along the way.  If you’ve been to Savusavu, please comment and share your experiences.

Twice weekly, we’ll visit the village taking photos along the way. As yet, we hadn’t taken many photos in town, preoccupied with finding the items we needed to round out our stay: food, data, and a few household items. 

Now with a transportation and shopping routine in place, we’ll be able to focus on taking more interesting photos in the village while researching local stories to share.

Lush vegetation and flowers surround the property.

Kenya was the only other country without a TV. With no world news in the background, the sound of TV has been replaced by other sounds causing us to stop to listen several times each hour; the cows mooing, the lamb and goats baahing, the roosters crowing, the birds singing, the geckos chirping and the pleasant sounds of the gentle breeze through the trees. 

During the night, we hear rustling in the trees outside the bedroom window. Mario explained that flying foxes carry on a night. Gosh, how will we get a photo of that?

Perhaps being isolated from world news will prove to be good for us when we both are affected by the horror occurring in many areas of the world. Daily, we both check online, WiFi permitting, to get the highlights researching further if we have a strong enough signal. 

We spotted these same types of enormous palm fronds when we lived in Belize many moons ago.

Our awareness of what’s transpiring throughout the world is important to us as we continue to book vacation homes in various countries. There’s no country that’s free of strife, even in the US with natural disasters and frequent acts of violence. At this point, minimizing our risks by staying away from war-torn countries makes the most sense.

Today, we’re sharing a few outdoor photos we took on sunny days during the week.  We’ll be heading out tomorrow, weather permitting, hoping to be able to take many more photos to share in the upcoming days.

Have a wonderful Saturday or Sunday, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2014:

DSC03621
Photo of the indoor pool on the ship we sailed across the ocean, Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas as we worked our way toward Boston. For details, please click here.

 

 

What we’re missing so far in Australia…Guess we need to accept and adapt…

 

The seafood is offered by the kilo (2.2) pounds in AUD. As a result, these prices are not bad. For example AUD $20 is USD $15.51.

Every country has its nuances and its lifestyle commensurate with centuries of history and tradition. We try as much as we can to adapt to these differences that we find wherever we may travel.

As our long term readers know we’ve sacrificed many aspects of our lives in order to have the joy of traveling the world, few of which we ever find difficult to change after a few weeks have passed.

These sacrifices may include many items of which we become glaringly aware the first few weeks in a new location. Here in Australia, a few items stand out that may take some getting used to such as a lack of international news on TV (we’re news junkies). 

At first glance, these also look pricey when in reality, they are lower priced than we paid in many countries, especially in Hawaii. All the fish is wild-caught.

We like to stay abreast of international news, which keeps us in touch with the outside world as well as keeping us aware of where we shouldn’t travel due to intense political unrest.

On a lesser scale, Australians don’t drink much coffee. We can’t find an electric or appropriate stove top coffee pot. Arriving here last Thursday, we’ve scoured several stores, (no less than five) to discover that Australians don’t brew coffee as we know it, in a pot with or without a filter.

They do use a few pricey apparatus such as the French press machine which we did find at a pricey kitchen store for US $54.31, AUD $70, which based on its small size would be cumbersome when we each may drink three cups in the morning. Pressing for this amount of coffee would not be worth using the small press.

Some of the fish products are pre battered.  If we use a batter, we’ll make it using coconut or almond flour both of which I’d been able to purchase at the Woolworth’s grocery store.
We both like our coffee hot and this style of coffee making leaves it greatly cooled by the time it’s served. We used such a press in Morocco but found it made the coffee too strong and subsequently cold.  Neither of us wanted to spend that amount of money on a device we didn’t like using. Even K-mart didn’t have many possibilities. They didn’t have a coffee machine section nor could the rep suggest where we’d find such a thing.

We could send for a coffee maker from Amazon.com but, by the time we receive it after paying high shipping costs, we’ll be used to living without it and nearly be ready to move along. At the grocery store, there was a small coffee section with bags of beans, none of which works for us. We’ve decided not to drink coffee in Australia and may encounter the same scenario in other locations in the South Pacific.

As I scurried about K-mart, looking for an electric coffee machine, Tom reminded me to stop asking for an electric coffee pot. He assumed such questions and ancillary comments would make me appear as the “ugly American.” I stopped asking now that I understand that primarily, Australians drink tea. When we saw many Aussies drinking coffee on the ship, we assumed this was a popular morning beverage.

Next time, we shop for groceries, I’ll be purchasing some of this fresh fish from this local fish market located in the mall.

Since I like tea, giving up coffee won’t be too difficult for me. Although most mornings I like to drink coffee, I usually have tea at 4 pm each day, not unlike the British way. Maybe it’s harder for Tom, who doesn’t like tea as an alternative. For some reason, I can’t seem to get the coffee out of my head. Perhaps it due to the fact that we have one bag of delicious Kauai coffee with us and no way to brew it.

On the ship to Australia, I never had coffee when it was made too strong for my liking. Tom drank it using half decaf, half regular, adding real sugar and fake cream (no real cream was available). 

At least now he won’t be consuming six teaspoons of granulated sugar each day, hardly befitting our way of eating a low carb, starch-free, grain-free, and sugar-free diet. The lack of coffee for me is only psychological since I haven’t had a cup since we were in Hawaii, 24 days ago. “They,” say it takes three weeks to “break a habit.”

Speaking of “cruise food.” Tom has already lost all the weight he gained on the ship. In reality, he didn’t go overboard (no pun intended) eating starchy, sugary, carb-laden foods. He never had an ice cream cone and had few desserts. Instead, he ordered margaritas and Mai Tai’s which were included in his drink package. 

An indoor farmer’s market in the mall.

I didn’t gain an ounce and as a matter of fact lost a few pounds although I had a substantially large breakfast each morning along with a cup of homemade hollandaise sauce served with each dinner to keep my fat consumption at high levels which is a requirement of my diet, referred to as LCHF (low carb, high fat with moderate protein).

Cooking again has been good. Last night, we made organic burgers (no grass-fed ground beef available so far) with avocados, homemade ketchup, sautéed mushrooms, onions, organic sliced tomatoes topped with fine cheeses, and some of the best “streaky” bacon we’ve had in a long time. 

We haven’t seen bacon referred to as “streaky” bacon since living in Kenya, almost two years ago. Streaky or not, the deli is the only area in the grocery store the bacon can be purchased. There is none of the expected pre-packaged bacon. The streaky deli bacon is smoky flavored and delicious.

Yesterday’s grocery shopping trip worked out well. With only a tiny space in the freezer, we can’t purchase meat other than that which we’ll consume in a few days, another challenge and change from what we’ve done in the past.

Although I don’t eat fruit, this red dragon fruit certainly looks appealing.  Here again, prices are per kilo (2.2 pounds). 


Today returned to the Telstra phone store. The SIM card we purchased wouldn’t work on either of our hot spots devices. Much to my delight and surprised when they couldn’t get our devices to work, they gave us a loaner to use while here in Trinity Beach. 

The rep didn’t require me to pay a deposit or sign a form for the “loaner.” How unusual is that? He stated that he had no fear that I’d return it before we eventually leave.  Where in the world does this happen? We’re both in awe of the trust the rep exercised in letting us walk out the door with the pricey device.

That’s the nature of the Australian people; kind, friendly, and trusting. So, if we have a few inconveniences, they are more than balanced out by all the pluses of living in this wonderful country.

To sum up a few of the new sacrifices we’ve discovered for life in Australia:
1.  No morning coffee  (there are a few coffee shops but not something we’d spend money on each day).
2.  No purchasing protein beyond what we’ll use in a few days.
3.  No international news unless we watch news online.  With the poor wifi signal, this isn’t a good option.
4.  No screens on doors and windows.
5.  No grass-fed beef other than a few steaks offered at US $34.87, AUD $44.95 per kilo (2.2 pounds).  Mostly I’ll focus on the huge selection of wild-caught fish and free range chickens, having beef only occasionally.

This glorious life we live requires changing our needs and wants almost every few months, finding “workarounds” that suit us in the interim. Oh, one more workaround for Tom that he’s experienced many times in these past 32 months…he’s now driving on the opposite side of the road and shifting using his left hand (he’s right-handed).  

Now, my big challenge is walking up to the correct side of the car to open the passenger door and get in. In three months, I should be able to get this under control.

                                              Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2014:

The fog rolled in while Tom stood on our veranda in Madeira, Portugal. It was quite a sight to see. For details from that date, please click here.

 

 

Final day…Goodbye Belize…Thank you for a wonderful experience…

 

The sky and the sea offered us a pleasing goodbye this morning. 

Last night, full and content after a homemade meal, we lounged in the cozy living room of our villa with our two friends, Bill from Minnesota and Rene, a citizen of Belize, the general manager here at Laru Beya

While drinking local Belikin beer (I had tea) lively conversation ensued. It was fun learning more about Belize and our guests rounding out the last of new friendships made while here. Hopefully, in the future, our paths will cross again.

We’re relieved to be packed as of this morning, except for a few toiletries, for the morning.

All of our documents are in order. This morning we took care of our bill at the front desk, which was $502.50 for the two months. This includes tours, dinners in the restaurant, cocktails, car rental, beer purchased a few times at happy hour for US $2 each, laundry charges, and tips. Our winter heating bill in Minnesota was almost as much for one month.  We didn’t flinch. 

The simple beauty of the clouds and the sky left us breathless every morning. Today was no exception.

With everything packed a wave of excitement washed over me. Finally! I’ve been waiting for that feeling. Why not be excited with two months of cruising ahead of us, including 13 nights in Dubai? Why not start my usual “jumping up and down,” leaving behind any doubt or negative expectations?

Last night before bed at 11:00, we froze two-liter bottles with iced tea and one with water. With little time for breakfast tomorrow, we’ll stick to a piece of cheese along with a single cup of coffee each, hoping to keep the potty breaks to a minimum during the four-hour drive.  Last time, we only stopped once. 

This final day is ours to enjoy lounging by the pool, taking a final walk along the beach, saying our goodbyes to the staff, dining on tasty leftovers from last night, and finally letting our heads hit the pillows by 10:00 PM with pleasant dreams of our upcoming travels.

Shortly after arriving on the ship, we plan to take photos of our cabin prior to filling it with our stuff and, again a day later, after unpacking while Tom does his “magic” hiding the suitcases in the tiny space.  For the 11 days of our first leg, we’ll unpack two bags each, leaving the remainder untouched to be shipped on the 13th. 

We never tired of the view, especially when the clouds rolled by in many mornings.

Once we have signed up for access to the ship’s Internet service, we’ll be back here with photos and the story of the hopefully seamless transition from Placencia Belize to boarding the Carnival Liberty by tender in Belize City. 

Will we come back to Belize someday?  Perhaps. But, we have a lot of world to see ahead of us. We’ll carry memories of  Belize with us in our hearts and minds forever.

Stay tuned…

 

Adaptation…

ad·ap·ta·tion

noun ˌa-ˌdap-ˈtā-shən, -dəp-

Definition of ADAPTATION
1   : the act or process of adapting : the state of being adapted
2   : adjustment to environmental conditions: as
a : adjustment of a sense organ to the intensity or quality of stimulation

b : modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment  

We’re adapting.  It’s not easy.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy.  We loved our unique peninsula home, the breathtaking views, Mother Nature surrounding us, the ease of being together day after day, and the people in our lives. 

Yes, as most of us, we longed for more; more time, more money, more freedom.  The longing, in itself, became an elemental part of our existence, tucked away to draw upon when pensive or reflective, never quite certain what it was we wanted.
The familiarity of the enveloping environment created a cocoon from which we could so easily escape by simply stepping away.  We chose not to.  Instead we chose to stay entrenched in the soft folds of a life insulating us from the harsh wounds life often inflicts. 
It didn’t protect us.  The sorrow, the disappointment and the unfulfilled expectations, still came our way.  We drew closer to one another as we muddled our way through, always grateful to have survived yet another rising of the tide, all the while anxious to return to our comforting routine.
Letting go of it all, saying goodbye, wasn’t easy. Yes, we had this great future planned, full of wonder; travel the world together for years to come.  “Wouldn’t that prospect make the leaving easier?” they asked.
In a perfect world, it would. But we’re imperfect. If we fall and break our leg today does it hurt less when we know that next week our new car is being delivered? Life is lived in compartments; today is a tough day but tomorrow is easy.  Today we falter, weak and unsure, yet tomorrow we stand tall ready to face whatever is thrown our way. 

Its the nature of us humans.  We feel. We’re inconsistent in the process of feeling.  That’s what makes us wonderful.  That’s what makes us adaptable; the desire to recover, the desire to heal and the ultimate desire to begin again.And, we begin again, as the clock to the end of our lives begins to tick louder, we begin again, to savor every moment in a state of constant flux and challenge in unfamiliar surroundings, testing our strength, testing our will.

Yes, it was hard to leave “them” behind.  It was riddled with guilt and fear of losing their love. But they have their lives to experience, to learn, to grow.  They have their own raging seas and calming tides.  They have their own adaptation.

As the time draws near, we find peace.  In two unfamiliar homes in the past three weeks we’ve chosen to call wherever we may be, “home.” That, ultimately, in our own way… is adaptation.