Finally, we researched and booked a stay…More photos from Kruger National Park…

Two hippos were playing in the Crocodile River.

No, it may not be the most exciting booking we’ve done, but we were pleased to finally get a booking done for our upcoming one-month trip to the US, beginning in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 30, 2023, when our two cruises come to an end, sailing into Boston Harbor.

We’ll spend one night in Stoughton, Massachusetts, visiting cousin Phyllis, and then head out on an early non-stop flight to Las Vegas, Nevada, where we’ll spend nine days in Henderson, Nevada, once again at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa, close to son Richard‘s home.

This was likely a “Go-Away” bird known for its go-away sounds.

We were able to get great pricing from Expedia on our site. The rate included our airfare (for the two of us) from Boston to Las Vegas and nine nights at the fabulous five-star resort for a total of US $2041.37, ZAR 377932, which includes all taxes, fees, and the nightly resort fee of US $51, ZAR 875.

We’d checked pricing at multiple sites and ended up booking this package which saved us almost US $1000, ZAR 17160! Plus, we get a 10% discount on all meals and non-alcoholic beverages as Expedia’s VIP members after considerable bookings with them over the years. This also entitles us to early and late check-out, which is helpful for us on many occasions.

Kudus, waterbucks, and impalas hang out in the dam’s green vegetation.

We are thrilled with this booking. We prepaid everything but the resort fee yesterday of US $1579.67, ZAR 27125, and will pay the resort fee of US $461.70, ZAR 79260, at the hotel when we check in, which totals the above US $2041.37, ZAR 377932. Now, we will work on booking the remaining time in the US in Minnesota from September 9 to September 23 for a total of two more weeks.

Next, we’ll book where we’ll stay in Scotland from June 8 until August 1, 2023, but we won’t do this until we know if we received our visa extensions. If we are rejected, we’ll have to leave next month in March. We hope to know within about four weeks. Once we see if we can stay, we’ll book this leg of our upcoming journey while we are away from South Africa for over a year. We have many bookings to set up but await the visa info before proceeding further.

Waterbuck at a distance. Excuse the blur.

As mentioned above, we’ll spend one night in Boston on August 30, but we have yet to book it. The hotel where we stayed last time in Boston after a cruise, the Four Points by Sheraton, is now priced at almost US $500, ZAR 8583 per night. No, thank you. There is no way we’d spend that much for one night in a hotel in the US. The other options were few to be near my cousin’s home in Stoughton, but we’ll figure it out in the next few days.

We’re having an easy day today. It’s cooler today than it’s been over the past several weeks, and we enjoy every moment. The laundry is done, and the clothes are put away. Our paperwork, for now, is under control. All I have to do today is finish this port, search for some photo ops in the garden, and do my nails which I usually do on Fridays.

Small elephant family crossing the road.

Tonight and tomorrow evenings, we’ll head out to Jabula for dinner, and as always, we’re looking forward to seeing Dawn, Leon, David, and other staff, along with any locals who may stop by for lively chatter. Each time we head out the door, we always say…”Gosh, that was fun, wasn’t it?” and “Watch for snakes!”

TIA.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2022:

Little was resting in the cement pond on a sweltering day. For more photos, please click here.

We are load shedding free!…

Bats hanging from the ceiling at Lower Sabie, outside the Mugg & Bean Restaurant and the gift shop.

Aside from not running the aircon when other power hogs are running, we don’t seem to have any limitations on what we can use during load shedding, other than the oven, now that we have this fantastic inverter system. This morning, during load shedding, I had light in the bathroom, I could use the teapot and the toaster for my keto bread, and the refrigerators and chest freezer were humming along as when the power was on.

This is amazing for us. We lost WiFi this morning for about 40 minutes, but this had nothing to do with us. When there is a 4½ period of load shedding, such as this morning, the batteries in the towers for WiFi and cell service run dry, and no one has WiFi, not just us. After a while, it came back on.

It was great to see a Cape buffalo when we hadn’t seen many recently.

This morning, during load shedding, I was able to do laundry. I won’t be using the dryer since I’ve found it uses too much power when we can just as easily hang the clothes on the portable rack. It takes about five minutes to hang a load onto the rack instead of running back and forth, checking to see if the dryer is done. Plus, our clothes last longer when line dried as opposed to using the dryer.

Last night, we cooked a boneless prime rib roast on the braai for dinner with whole mushrooms roasting in the pan. We have half of the roast left, which we’ll finish off tonight. It’s always a challenge to reheat rare beef to maintain its proper level of doneness. I will cut the meat into even-sized slices, wrap it in a foil pack, and then place it in a skillet with a bit of water in the pan, not touching any of the meat. This will heat it quickly and maintain its pink color.

Several birds were cooling off in the birdbath near the walkway to the Mugg & Bean.

I saved enough mushrooms to saute a new batch with butter, garlic, spices, and fresh ginger. Once again, we’ll have a delicious dinner, one that Tom particularly enjoys. He has always been a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but now, to avoid starchy carbs, he doesn’t eat potatoes. Instead, he eats white rice, which is considered to be a “resistant starch’ explained here:

“Rice is made up of digestible starch, and a special type of carbohydrate called resistant starch, which recent research suggests may be key for weight control. Humans don’t have the enzymes to digest resistant starch, so it isn’t transformed into sugar and absorbed quickly in the bloodstream like digestible starch.”

A yellow-billed stork and a crocodile at the Sunset Dam.

Unfortunately for me, this concept is useless. White rice raises my blood sugar, so I don’t eat it or any other starchy foods. But I’d love to be able to eat rice. It’s not worth having my blood sugar respond as if I’d just eaten a candy bar after consuming only a half cup of white rice. Instead, I eat non-starchy vegetables and salads.

Today, I’m wearing long pants, one of my “Bugs Away” long-sleeve shirts, and short socks to cover my ankles. After all of the rain, the mozzies are out in full force, and I have been getting lots of bites while attempting to wear short sleeve shirts while it’s been so hot. No more short sleeves for me during the summer months. It’s not worth being up all night when no cream can stop the extreme itchiness. I have tried every cream they have available at the pharmacy.

A crocodile was resting on the bank of Sunset Dam.

We’re hoping to return to Kruger National Park again on Monday. We had such a good time; it makes sense to do this as much as possible. If I plan ahead and get dinner prepped in advance and start the post before we leave, I can avoid being rushed when we return for dinner. Plus, it was fun having breakfast at the Mugg & Bean. Their meal options are limited for me, but a mushroom omelet always works for me with a side of avocado and sour cream.

It feels good the recent bulk of paperwork behind us. Next week, we’ll begin the process of applying online to renew our passports. We’ll see how that goes.

There was water from a pump feeding fresh water into Sunset Dam. This crocodile seemed to like the feel of the running water.

Have a fantastic day, and we’ll be back with you soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2022:

Mom appeared to want to show her offspring how to drink from the river. For more photos, please click here.

Calm amid the chaos…What a wonderful cool and rainy day…More Kruger photos…

We happily stopped to let this adorable, if turtles can be adorable, crossed the road.

The work to install the new inverter system has been a five-day process, with most of the work conducted over the past three days. Fortunately, we were out of the worker’s way on Monday when we went to Kruger National Park and again yesterday when we drove to Nelspruit to drop off our documents at the immigration office.

It’s always a thrill to see the majestic elephants close to the road.

The house has been an upside-down mess, but with Zef here this morning, cleaning around the chaos to somewhat return to normal. Slowly, everything will be back in order. Danie spent time with us explaining the nuances of the new system, which will prevent us from noticing load shedding except for a few things:

  • If we are running the aircon, we won’t be able to use power grabbers like the oven, the teapot, the toaster, the hair dryer, and the microwave. But, the only time we run the other appliances is during the day, when we don’t run the aircon, other than on a few occasions when we go in the bedroom to cool off for a few minutes when it’s above 42C, 104F. But, if we were in the bedroom to cool off, we wouldn’t use other appliances.
  • The two refrigerators, chest freezer,  lights, WiFi, and recharging of our equipment will always be available to us, regardless of load shedding. Mainly, for us, load shedding caused concern over food spoilage. Now we can grocery shop for two weeks and never worry we’ll lose food.
  • When there is an area-wide power outage, we will lose power after a day or two if we don’t use the aircon, which drains the most energy from the system. This only happens once or twice a year. In four months, we’ll leave for over a year and return to this same house in 2024.
  • We will still have water. We’ll have plenty of water using the pump for our JoJo tank, which is located outside. This makes a huge difference when the reservoir runs dry due to load shedding.

    Moments later, we spotted this elephant family grazing on the side of the road.

Now, the system is running smoothly, minus a few necessary tweaks over the next few weeks, and we will no longer experience any nuances whatsoever. We are content with this and appreciate the time and expense on Louise and Danie’s part. It’s a costly task. An, it’s set up for the eventual addition of solar panels, another considerable cost.

Last night, when we had no WiFi all evening, we wondered if it resulted from the work being done. Later, we discovered the outage was a fiber problem with the grid, and the entire area was out of WiFi all evening. But we didn’t want to bother Danie to come back once again.

This elephant continued walking on the road, preventing us from passing for over 30 minutes.

With no possibility of streaming, we ended up watching a bad Steven Seagal movie on the hard drive, most of which I slept through.

I mentioned yesterday’s post about a challenge we encountered at the immigration office. After the law firm sent us a detailed list of the documents we’d need to bring, in a specific order, to our appointment, we discovered they wanted two more documents, our flight out of South Africa by June 8, the day our visas expire and copies of the last three bank statements. The reason we didn’t have these documents on hand is that the law firm never explained we’d need to bring them.

Occasionally, she’d turn sideways, and we thought she’d enter the bush, but she only continued to graze from the road. She was missing her left tusk.

When we heard we’d need these documents, which I had on my phone, we headed downstairs to a packed Internet Cafe to make copies. The tiny space wasn’t airconditioned and was packed body to body with about five old computers for users who wanted something printed.

Then, she was on the move again, staying on the paved road.

Of course, I didn’t feel comfortable printing our bank statements, but we had no choice. We brought all the documents back upstairs to the immigration office and only had a short wait to submit the final documents.  After we were done, I watched the experienced owner/manager of the tiny shop delete them, one by one, from the computer. I didn’t feel 100% sure they were gone, but we had no choice. It had to be done.

Last night, we received confirmation that our documents had been submitted. In the next several weeks, I’ll receive an email stating that we have to return to Nelspruit to their office to open the sealed envelopes to determine if our applications have been approved. If so, we will most likely be able to stay until June 8, 2023. If not, we’ll have to leave on March 9. We’ll play it by ear.

After over 30 minutes, she turned and headed into the bush, and once again, we were on our way.

That’s it for today, folks. Enjoy our photos from Kruger National Park; we’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2022:

Hal stopped by for a visit as usual. For more photos, please click here.

Enjoy this amazing sighting in Kruger National Park with us!!!

The two females were enjoying their feast of a warthog they killed from the time we first spotted them until we returned a few hours later. More photos, below. 

Today, while driving on the paved road In Kruger National Park, a gigantic matriarch elephant was blocking the road for quite a while. We couldn’t go forward. We couldn’t back up with multiple vehicles behind us. We waited patiently. This is their home, not ours, and they lead the way on what they’d like us to do or not.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing lions on the road. There were two females.

Finally, after about 30 minutes, we could pass, but only after she wandered into the bush. Many vehicles were in front of and behind us, undoubtedly anxious to be on the move again.

Such beautiful animals. She wandered off on the road into the bush but was still visible.

We’d had so much safari luck today that we were patient and ready to move on only when it was made possible by the wildlife. We’d already seen and taken many photos, and if our day had to end there, we would have been content. But it didn’t end there, and more wonders awaited us as the day progressed.

This was the other female.

A short time later, we were holding our breath when the two female lions wandered on the road in front of us; we were squealing with delight over the much-revered sighting that tourists long to see and some never see. There were four or five cars near us jockeying for position, but we started in a perfect position, so the photos weren’t challenging to take.

Finally, we saw the two of them together.

We can drive through Kruger 20 times and never see a lion. Of course, we were excited, to say the least. This fantastic sighting only added to the joy of what we’d already spotted. Then again, we said, “If our day ends here, we are content with what we’ve seen so far.” But, how wrong we were. More safari luck was on the horizon.

We couldn’t take our eyes off of them.

We continued on the long drive to Lower Sabie, looking forward to breakfast at the Mugg & Bean and a quick restroom break. We both had delicious omelets, accompanying mine with a small pot of Rooibus tea while Tom added a strawberry shake to his breakfast. Now I know why Tom likes to eat breakfast at the Mugg & Bean. It’s all about the shake.

A pretty pose after settling down in the bush…
She looks sleepy.

The day was young, and after a quick trip to the Sunset Dam to check for more wildlife, we turned around and headed back the way we’d come in. I wanted to leave ample time to do today’s post when we returned, fold yesterday’s laundry hanging outside on the rack, and prep for dinner, none of which I’d started when we bolted out the door at 8:30 am.

The workers arrived to work on the new inverter system, which should be done by the end of the day tomorrow. We won’t notice load shedding with this new system in the future. Tomorrow morning we’ll head to the immigration office in Nelspruit to submit our documentation, again being out of the way of the workers since we expect to be gone for four or five hours. Besides, the post will be completed and uploaded later, such as today.

They both seemed to be enjoying their meal.

On the return drive to the Crocodile Bridge gate,  we were gifted with a sighting of these two same females eating their kill, which must have occurred between our first and second sighting. Wow! We couldn’t believe our eyes. As we often say to one another under these circumstances, “Who would have thunk?” Who gets to see this stuff in their lifetime? We feel so lucky!

Over the next few days, we will post more photos, but we decided to share the lions first, which were the most exceptional sightings in our minds and, certainly, the day’s favorites.

She’s certainly possessive of their kill.

We were gone less than six hours on a perfect weather day, cooler and overcast, ideal for sightings. Once we returned, at least a dozen animals were waiting for us. Since we stay home a lot, they couldn’t imagine where we were. Immediately, I started cutting vegetables and apples for Nina, Norman, their baby, and all the others. Even the mongooses were waiting for us. Quickly, while they waited, squeaking in their usual funny little tones, I chopped paloney for them. They couldn’t have been more enthused.

It was a good day all around, and it’s not over yet!

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, January 330, 2022:

Mom and Baby Bushbuck stopped by in the rain this morning. For more photos, please click here.

Today at 7:00 am, the missing bag was delivered…65 days later…

Bossy was taking a nap in the garden.

The lovely woman, Agnes, who works for BidAir who’d delivered the first of our two missing bags on New Year’s Day, was in touch with me all day yesterday as to when the second bag would arrive at the airport when “it” missed its first flight in the morning.

Finally, while we were sitting at the bar in Jabula, I got a text and a photo of the bag from Agnes. She’d collected the bag and would keep it safe overnight. We didn’t want her to drive in the dark on the N4 and suggested she bring it to us at her convenience. She said she could arrive in Marloth Park in the early morning when Tom would meet her outside at Louise’s Info Centre if she’d call when she was close.

Agnes called a few minutes before 7:00 am and said she’d arrived. Tom quickly headed out the door to meet her so we could give her a generous tip. A few minutes later, she wrote, thanking us profusely for the tip, explaining she’d be using the money to buy food for her family. Heartbreaking. Workers in South Africa are generally paid low wages.

Once Tom returned with the bag, with the tag missing, he started going through it. So far, it appears everything that had been packed in the bag was still there, including his two new pairs of Cole Haan shoes and several of my items. Over the next few days, we may realize something was missing, but it looks good now.

Bushbucks, kudus, duikers, and nyalas love cabbage.

As it turns out, I spent no less than 40 hours working on the insurance claim for all the items in the bag. On Monday, I will call the insurance company to find out if we are entitled to any compensation for the things we had to buy to replace many items in the bag or whatever compensation we may be entitled to. We shall see. I am not optimistic we’ll get any compensation.

Also, we submitted a claim with Ethiopian Air a few days after the incident but have yet to hear anything from them. I will also contact them on Monday. I don’t feel like spending hours talking about this over the weekend. I need a break from paperwork for a few days.

We’ll stay home tonight since tomorrow is Dawn’s birthday, and we’ll see her and Leon at Jabula on Sunday evening to celebrate with her. Last night, we had a lot of fun with both of them and David as we sat at the bar, as well as lovely conversations with other patrons such as our friends Patty Pan and her husband Sydney and another friend Wimpy (pronounced Vimpy). It couldn’t have been fun.

We got home in the dark to a sweltering house when the relentless heat and humidity has lasted for weeks. We might get a little reprieve on Monday when it is supposed to be slightly cooler with slightly lower humidity and dew point. That will be nice.

Mom and a young bushbuck.

With the number of mozzies flying around after lots of humidity and rain, I have to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts to avoid getting bit by them and other flying things. Wearing repellent on bare arms doesn’t seem to protect me, although I wear products with DEET. Sweati8ng wears off the product, leaving me vulnerable to getting bit. I don’t like applying DEET every hour. Right now, I m wearing long workout pants (to the ankle) with short socks and a long sleeve Bugs-Away khaki shirt. It’s hot.

Later today, the temperature will be a high of 99F, 37C, but fortunately, by around 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., the humidity is expected to be a low of 21%. When the humidity is low, the heat is quite bearable, even at night during 4½ hour stretches of load shedding.

It’s too much of a scorcher for a hot dinner tonight, so we’ll make “unwich” (breadless) sandwiches with a cold lettuce salad on the side.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2022:

It’s not easy to spot baby mongooses. They run very fast and stay close to their moms. For more photos, please click here.

Holding our breath!…Could it be?…

This is Torn Ear looking around the side of the house to see if we’re here. When he spotted us, he got in position to receive pellets.

Yesterday afternoon while I was in the bedroom folding laundry and Tom was taking a quick nap, I heard our South Africa phone ringing in the dining room. I didn’t want to wake him, so I let it ring since opening and closing the bedroom door is noisy. Often, we get robocalls on that phone, and I seldom answer it unless I recognize who’s calling.

When I checked the phone, I saw a call from Bidair Services in Johannesburg, which handles lost luggage. What do you think flashed through my mind? Of course, Tom’s missing bag! I called the number when no message was left, and it took me over an hour to find out who had called me and why?

Torn Ear was waiting for treats. Note that his right ear has healed nicely after being torn many months ago.

The information was not in their system, and only one person knew about the bag. I kept getting cut off with the call disconnected in the hour I spent calling, waiting on hold, only to get the message on the phone “call ended.” My frustration level was palpable. But, in my usual way, I didn’t give up and kept calling and calling until finally, I reached the person who’d called.

Yep, the bag was found and was going to be put on a flight this morning at 9:45 am. Immediately, by WhatsApp, I contacted the kind woman who works for BidAir in Nelspruit, who’d brought my bag out on New Year’s Day, and asked if she could help us again. She said she’d be happy to bring us the bag as soon as it arrived.

Five Big Daddies arrived simultaneously last night, with three shown in this photo.

This morning I got a call from BidAir once again, but this time I had the phone next to me to report the bag didn’t make the flight and would be on a flight arriving at 1655 hrs, 4:55 pm later today. Alas, Tom’s bag missed its flight this morning! It’s too late in the day for the driver to pick up and deliver the bag to us since driving on the N4 highway at night is very dangerous due to carjackings, spiking, and murders. We wouldn’t ask the driver to travel on that road at night!

As it turns out, she has a funeral to attend tomorrow morning. Since the airport in Nelspruit won’t hold the bag for more than 24 hours, I asked if she could pick up the bag within 24 hours, keeping it safe in the interim, and bring us the bag during daylight hours in the next several days. She was happy to comply.

We hadn’t seen Norman in days, but yesterday, he visited five or six times, once with Nina and their youngster.

If the airport would hold the bag until Tuesday, we could get it after our 10:45 am appointment at immigration to file our papers. But, I’d asked them this question when we were at the airport after the bags were lost, and they stated emphatically that they could not “hold” bags waiting for passengers to pick them up. They’d send it back to Joburg, which would be a nightmare of a similar situation.

So, we have no choice but to wait and see how it rolls out in the next few days. Once we get the bag in our possession, ensuring nothing is missing, we’ll contact the insurance company and see what has to be done with the claim we filed that I spent no less than 40 hours working on. Will they reimburse us for the items we had to purchase to replace those missing in the bag? We’ll see how that rolls out.

Baby nyala, gender yet to be determined, visited with dad Norman and mom Nina early this morning.

Why do we need someone else to pick up the bag? Simple answer. We both don’t like making the drive from Marloth Park to Nelspruit. I despise that drive, especially through the gorge area when the two-lane road is packed with trucks and recklessly speeding vehicles. It’s a nail-biting trip for about 75 minutes each way.

Plus, we are making that drive on Tuesday morning, and there’s no way we’d want to make that trip again. Once again, we’ll give the driver a nice tip which is well worth it.

As for today, we’re busy working on our laptops until it’s time to get ready to go to Jabula tonight. We have many bookings to research, and I have several email messages I need to respond to that have arrived over the last 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon, I caught up on all of the expense records for charges incurred since the first of January. Generally, I do this once a month. In the next 24 hours, I’ll set up “bill pay” for payments due around the first of the month. There’s always plenty to do to keep me busy.

Of course, we’ll report back on the status of the bag and if, in fact, we get it back.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic Friday, and be well!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2022:

Piglets suckling from Tail-Less Mom. The male is looking too big to keep suckling! Soon, the mom will wean them. For more photos, please click here.

Invitations to my 75th birthday party went out today…Done with our immigration documents…Tuesday we head to Nelspruit to deliver the docs in person, as required…

Norman and his friends stopped by today.

Gosh, we wish we could invite everyone we know and like in Marloth Park. But based on the venue, we can only manage 25 to 30 guests. This morning, Louise and I sent out all the invitations on WhatsApp. In a matter of minutes,  we had no less than 12 RSVPs and expect to see many more in days to come as our invitees check their calendars and get back to us.

It’s funny to be planning my own party, but it’s a whole lot easier for me and Louise to do it than leaving it to Tom. Yesterday, we ordered 12 bottles of Prosecco, 12 bottles each of red and white wines. All we have left to buy is dry roses, and we already have several cases of Tom’s favorite local beer, Lion, which is hard to find at local shops.

I am making two birthday cakes, one regular and one keto, on the day of the event. Louise and Danie are helping with all the food. They are experts at this, and we so appreciate the help. Their helper Martha will come and do all the dishes the next morning.

We named this male warthog, Tusker, for his giant tusks.

As stipulated on the invitations, I specified, “Please, no gifts!” which I mean sincerely. My luggage has absolutely no room for anything other than what I already have. Plus, finding gift items with limited shops with few selections here in the bush makes gift buying too challenging.

We look forward to our guests arriving in casual attire, and if they drink beer and wine, they don’t need to bring anything. If not, they can get their choice of drinks. The party starts at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and can easily go long into the night. This is no sundowner party. It could well go late into the night, which is OK with us.

It wasn’t easy creating the guest list. No doubt, we had to leave some people out that we would have invited if we’d had a different venue, but it all boiled down to one aspect: connections. It’s all about those unique connections with people whose hugs and conversations warm my heart, and in this magical place, unique connections can easily be made.

Tusker and a little bushbuck sharing pellets.

Sure, I’ll be missing many of the close friendships we’ve made here in Marloth Park, who may not be here now: Rita and Gerhard, Kathy and Don, Linda and Ken, Lynne and Mick, Janet and Steve, and dozens more we have mentioned in past posts whom we’ve come to know and love. We can’t possibly name everyone here, but please know that you are in our hearts and minds.

We’re looking forward to the date of the party, February 25, which is actually five days after my birthday. Still, we wanted it to be on a Saturday evening to accommodate those who may not be able to come during the week. On the 20th, the actual date of my birthday, most likely, we’ll have a quiet evening at home or out with a few friends. That we’ll play by ear, as we often do. There are no expectations for that day.

On another note, this morning, we headed to Louise’s office and wrapped up the documents required for next Tuesday’s 10:45 am appointment at the South African Immigration office in Nelspruit. We have all the documents neatly arranged, in the required order, and ready to submit.

Two male bushbucks, Gordy and Stringy, another female bushbuck, and our two usual duikers, Delilah and Derek, are enjoying pellets this morning.

We should have an answer on the extension in four to six weeks. Once they decide, we’ll return to Nelspruit to open the “secret” envelope with our extension approval. We may have only seven days to leave the country if they don’t approve it. We feel pretty confident it will be approved.

We’ve yet to hear anything about our insurance claim for the missing luggage. That, too, we’ll be waiting for a response.

Have a pleasant day!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2022:

Gordy is such a handsome specimen of the species (bushbuck). He visits us here almost daily. His full name is Gordon Ramsey, after the famous chef. For more photos, please click here.

It seems we always arrive in the US at a holiday time…Differences…

Mongooses with some babies stopped by this morning for paloney.

We’re trying to book a hotel for our time in Boston to see my cousin Phyllis at the end of August. From there, we’re flying to Nevada to see Richard and then flying to Minnesota to see the other three kids and grandchildren. But, the dates we’re getting off the ship, which embarked from Reykjavik, Iceland, arriving in Boston on August 30.

The Labor Day weekend begins a few days later when prices for flights and hotels go through the roof. A hotel we booked in September 2014 is now over double the price we paid at almost US $500 per night, ZAR 8620, more than we’re willing to pay. The other options are hotels with ratings that prevent us from booking them. We’ll have to figure this out in the next few days.

At other times, like when we visited the US most recently, it was the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, where again, prices were higher than usual. It’s not as if we plan to arrive at holiday times. It just coincidentally works out that way.

One of the forms Tom has to sign threw me for a loop. It states that he is also a signer on our bank accounts, and there are enough funds in the account to sustain me while we stay an extra 90 days in the country. There was no such form required for me to sign. No less than 20 years ago, women in South Africa were not allowed to open a bank account without a male signature.

Hmmm…life is different all over the world. I observed this distinctly yesterday when I was getting my prescriptions refilled after my visit to Doc Theo. The pharmacists are helpful and provide suggestions on over-the-counter products customers can use. When we were in the US and went to a pharmacy such as Walgreens or CVS, the pharmacists refused to assist with any suggestions for over-the-counter allergy medications.

This male and female dung beetle were rolling about on a tiny ball of dung. There was barely room for both of them!

Tom and I agreed that pharmacists in the US are especially careful when speaking to customers due to liability and lawsuits, which are much more common in the US than in South Africa or other countries. The pharmacists are kept behind what appears to be locked doors and windows with little access to them unless when submitting or picking up a prescription. They provide minimal information and answers to questions.

We also observed at pharmacies in the US that many of the shelves usually carrying over-the-counter items were practically empty in many cases. In the local pharmacy in Komatipoort, not a single shelf was empty with substantial supplies of most things. Apparently, the supply chain for many pharmaceutical products was severely impacted in the US due to the pandemic.

Also, when we stopped at various grocery stores for a few items as recently as November, there were also numerous empty shelves. Also, “help wanted” signs were at every store and restaurant, both eat-in and carry-out. We’ve yet to see a “help wanted” sign at any of these locations in South Africa.

This isn’t to say that the US or South Africa have figured out anything that makes them better or worse in these challenging economic times. But, what’s the deal with this? We try to stay on top of economic news throughout the world to provide us with a better understanding of countries we’d like to visit in the future.

Yesterday in my prescription refill order, Doc Theo had prescribed two Epipens, one for me and one for Tom, since both of us are allergic to certain bees, hornets, and wasps. They only had one in stock, but they will order the other for the next time we stop by. Below is the bill with the cost of the one EpiPen which we paid yesterday:

The cost of the EpiPen was ZAR 997.52, US $57.91. See below for the cost of EpiPens in the US.

Here’s a chart from the US on the cost of Epipens for 2023:

Cost of Epinephrine auto-injectors by Pharmacy from this site:

Pharmacy Cost of Brand Name EpiPen Cost of Generic Version
CVS $650 $340
Walgreens $735 $341
Stop n Shop $688 $662
Rite Aid $733 $530
Walmart $684 $320
Duane Reade $688 $341
Wegmans $688 $418
Kroger $730 $389
Price Chopper $688 $750

It’s hard to believe what we paid yesterday, ZAR 997.52, US $57.91 for the exact brand name product. Also, the pharmacist explained he’d be able to provide enough meds, based on the fact none of them are ‘scheduled” narcotics, for the year we’ll be out of South Africa, with a one-year prescription from Doc Theo. Then, I won’t have to worry about finding a doctor to prescribe my few medications while we are away.

Hmm…there are numerous financial benefits to spending time in South Africa and other African countries with similar pricing and policies. Some countries don’t require a prescription for any medications which we have discovered along the way.

There’s our news for today, folks. My laptop battery is about to die, so I need to head to the bedroom to recharge it and turn on the fan to cool off a bit in this scorching humid weather.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2022:

Stringy and Chevy, an impala, are getting along quite well. Usually, the impalas that visit for pellets don’t get close to the veranda. But, Chevy is becoming more comfortable with us sitting at the table. For more photos, please click here.

Redoing inadequate documents…

This male warthog has some seriously huge tusks. It looks like he recently enjoyed cooling off in a water hole.

After feeling satisfied that the majority of the documents required by the law firm were done, yesterday, I received an email from them stating we had to redo several of the documents. For example, the bank statements we’d sent in were screenshots of the main pages. Nope, this wouldn’t do. They wanted the complete bank statements, not just the main information pages, and screenshots wouldn’t do.

I contacted our bank, and they explained how to email the statements when I could not find a single click that would create a complete statement in PDF format. Then, I had to redo the passport bio and visa stamp pages, which weren’t clear enough. It’s not easy to scan passport pages when the passport book doesn’t lay flat, regardless of how hard one may try.

Zebra mom and baby drinking from the pool. Zebras never jump the little fence to drink from the birdbath.

As it turned out, I had to bend the specific pages far back to make them lay as flat as possible. Once I did this, I could get clear flat images of both pages on each of our passports which we’ll need anyway when we apply for new passports once we’re done with the visa extensions and the insurance claim for Tom’s missing bag. It’s too much paperwork at once.

Then, I had to ask Louise to reprint several of the letters required for the country since we’d written the dates wrong. In the US, dates are written, such as today, as 1/24/23. In South Africa and many other parts of the world, they are written as 24/1/23. Old habits die hard. We goofed up on these.

Soon, when Vusi or Zef arrives, they’ll be bringing fresh copies of the original documents to redo and scan, which I sent to Louise to print. Once done with all of these, I’ll send a new email to the law firm with the redone documents, hopefully fulfilling the requirements.

Female kudus stopped by for pellets and drinks from the birdbath.

So far, since the last document email was sent to the insurance company for Tom’s claim, we haven’t heard a word. Hopefully, they don’t require redoing those complicated forms and documents.

After these documents are submitted today, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to Doc Theo’s office for some refill prescriptions and then off to the pharmacy and Spar for grocery shopping. I expect we’ll be back at the house by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs or so, ample time for me to prep the food for tonight’s dinner.

Thus, this morning, I am typing fast and furiously to get today’s post completed and uploaded before we leave here at 11:30 am for my noon doctor appointment. It’s great that I don’t have any mysterious medical complaints this time. I am so grateful for this fact.

This was Tiny. We miss him. Each time a giant pig enters the garden, we check out this photo to see if it’s him. No luck so far.

Animal visits have been sparse in the past 24 hours, so we don’t have much in the way of new photos other than the few included here today. Sorry about that. But we’ve been so busy with tasks that it’s been challenging to focus on taking photos in the past few days.

We are anxious to be done with all of this paperwork so we can head to Kruger. Each morning, we think that we may be able to go, but something comes up that prevents us from taking an entire day in the park, usually something that pops up in my email, requiring more work to do.

Sorry, we are rushed today. By tomorrow, we should have some new photos and news to share.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2022:

It was good to see Broken Horn this morning after he’d had a busy weekend. For more photos, please click here.

Feeling great for the first time in a while…

We assume it is legal to puff on these huge bongs in public places which we saw at Bos when we had dinner last Friday night and again when two guys each had one while we were at the hotel bar in Zambia. We also assume there are no illegal drugs contained therein.

Sure, it’s allergy season in the bush right now, mid-summer, with pollen, dust, and animal dander filling the air. Gosh, I don’t mean to jinx myself by saying so, but right now is the best I’ve felt in a long time. No headache, minimal facial pain, hornet bite resolved, and absolutely nothing hurts.

We both sneeze and get runny noses quite a bit. I tend to get a lot of reactions from insect bites and rashes, but that’s handled reasonably well with frequent use of insect repellent, ridding our area of nests, and paying attention to standing water after significant rains. During dinner each night, Tom sprays the bedroom with Doom. We don’t enter until several hours later. But last night, a juicy bug ran over me, which I squashed into quite a mess with my fingers. Yuck. Tom said, “They always find you!.”

Short Tail has a wound on her right back leg which was dripping blood a week ago but is looking a little better now.

Currently, I am using an over-the-counter nasal spray called Nasonex, which takes several days to kick in, but it works amazingly well once it does. Plus, I still use the twice-a-day nasal rinse at different times than the Nasonex. The combination seems to work well.

By the end of this month, we will have a new system installed in the house that will provide us with electricity during load-shedding. It’s not solar but similar, using a more powerful inverter system with massive batteries that will recharge when we have electricity. This inverter will run the fridges, freezer, lights, fans, and some air-conditioning (enough for a few hours) during load-shedding periods.

Right now, at night during load-shedding, we do fine only using the big fan in our bedroom. Most likely, we won’t tax the system utilizing the air-con when the new inverter is running. The exception to this may be during periods when the heat and humidity are much higher than we’ve experienced lately. The fan has been sufficient so far

Kudus often stop eating to watch workers walking on the road.

Once the temperature reaches 104F, 40C, we may have to use the air-con during outages for a few hours at night, relying upon regular electricity once load-shedding has ended. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our well-being, especially during periods without water and power.

Last night, Tom sent me a news article stating that load-shedding will be permanent in South Africa, possibly for years. More and more property owners are opting for solar power, which is very expensive to install in an average-sized home, from ZAR 200,000, US $11672 to ZAR 300,000, US $17,495. Not everyone can afford this considerable expense.

Lots of kudus in the garden last night.

Installing the system that we’re getting is still around ZAR 100,000, US $5,829, but the wiring is set up for adding solar in the future, which cuts the cost at a later date. Louise and Danie are hoping to eventually install systems in their rental properties, an eventual must-do with holiday rentals.

Can you imagine how frustrating it is for international tourists excited to take their holiday anywhere in South Africa, let alone the bush, to discover they don’t have power for up to 12 hours a day? In most cases, there would also be no WiFi without an inverter like we’ve had. We’ve been fortunate to have a lesser-powered inverter provide sufficient power to run the router. But many others do not.

Zebras stopped by, including Short Tail.

Holidaymakers from South Africa who come to Marloth Park and other holiday locations are used to load-shedding; for them, it’s not as difficult. But property owners and managers are constantly fielding complaints from renters while the power is out.

Today, we’re staying put, but tomorrow we are off to Komati to see Doc Theo for my refills and grocery shop. Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is getting bare since we haven’t shopped in a few weeks.

May your day be filled with pleasant surprises and harmony.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2022:

This is Bossy, pregnant and contemplating a drink from the swimming pool. There are only small amounts of chlorine in collections to prevent the wildlife from illness. For more photos, please click here.