More social time in the bush…Will we be able to get the “jab?”…

Giraffes are such beautiful animals, especially in how they relate to one another. On occasion, there may be fighting by necking among males. But, overall, they get along well sharing the bounty of the bush.

What a wonderful anniversary we had! Not only did we receive countless warm wishes but we spent the evening again with dear friends Linda and Ken, who are leaving Marloth Park tomorrow to return to their home in Johannesburg. They are planning to return for other visits during the next several months.

Both parents are diligent in looking after their youngsters.

After almost a year of being unable to socialize, as has been the case for many throughout the world, it is fantastic to be able to spend time with Louise and Danie, Linda and Ken, and all of our other friends who are currently in Marloth Park with many more to arrive in the next several months after they are able to get their Covid-19 vaccinations.

They are often curious about humans but make a point of not getting too close. Of course, we don’t feed them when their diet mainly consists of vegetation from trees and plants.

When we may be able to get vaccinated is totally up in the air. As non-residents of South Africa and with a limited supply of the vaccine, we may not be able to get vaccinated for a long time to come. However, we found this encouraging article online that gives us hope that at some point we may be allowed to get the jab.

What an adorable face!

We’re hoping this country is able to provide some type of certificate stating we’ve been vaccinated when the time comes. It certainly wouldn’t make sense to be vaccinated without such a document to use going forward, especially when and if the time comes, that we can go on any of the cruises we currently have booked, well into the future. We are feeling certain that going forward cruise lines will require proof of vaccination for all passengers.

They manage to sustain themselves in areas with room for them to navigate. When the bush is too dense for freedom of movement, they’ll often forage from the roads.

This morning before posting for the day, we headed to Komatipoort for a few items. With Easter upcoming on April 4th, it’s entirely possible that President Ramaphosa may impose a new alcohol ban around that time. Thus, we decided to stock up on my wine and brandy for Tom.

Another adorable face!

My wine is ZAR 49, US $3.23 a bottle. Tom’s brandy, the popular liter of Klipdrift is ZAR 229.99, US $14.85. It’s no wonder South Africans enjoy “sundowners.” With prices like these, it doesn’t take much forethought to stay well stocked, especially during periods of lockdown when bans are possible.

They can be playful with one another.

While I visited the pharmacy, wearing a mask, a face shield, and rubber gloves, I was able to purchase a bottle of 1000 vitamin B6 tablets for Tom at a cost of ZAR 97.41, US $6.29 plus, an allergy medication for me along with a variety of odds and ends. A woman is stationed outside the shop, spraying hand sanitizers onto the hands of entering customers, and takes everyone’s temperature.

We took these photos a few days ago against the backdrop of a blue sky with white fluffy clouds.

As often is the case, my temperature was 36C, 96.8F, as opposed to 37C, the average temperature of 98.6F. I have always had a low temperature which is no big deal, one way or another. From the pharmacy, I walked to Spar Market where Tom met up with me. He had gone ahead on his own after dropping me off, to get petrol for the rental car, a bag of pellets from Obaro Hardware Store, and the wine and brandy from TOPS liquor store.

Their sense of hearing is acute and when another animal or human enters the scene they are quick to investigate.

In no time at all, we’d purchased the few items we needed from Spar to round out our groceries for the week. With social plans during five nights in a row, we still have plenty of food on hand, easily enough to last for another week.

One of the most delightful scenes in Marloth Park is when giraffes wander down the road.

Tonight, as mentioned, we’re meeting Linda and Ken for dinner at Amazing Kruger View restaurant that overlooks the Crocodile River. Hopefully, we’ll be able to take many good photos of wildlife while outdoors on their wide-open veranda. Of course, I’ll load up on plenty of insect repellent, hoping to keep the mozzies at bay while dining outdoors.

It’s very hot and humid again today. By 4:00 pm, 1600 hours, we’ll head indoors to shower for the second time today and get ready to go out once again for more social fun. We are certainly loving life in Marloth Park.

We hope that a reduction in Covid cases in your area is allowing opportunities for more visits with family and friends, while always taking necessary precautions to social distance, wear face masks and wash your hands. Regardless of vaccines, these precautions must be adhered to on a diligent basis with no margin for error.

Have a great Monday and thanks for all the well wishes for our anniversary. We appreciate each and every one of YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, March 8, 2020:

There are numerous temples in this one location. Many come to pray here every day. We weren’t allowed inside the temples since we aren’t Hindu. For more photos, please click here.

Stars in our eyes…Stripes in our garden…It’s our 26th wedding anniversary today…What does it cost us for food in South Africa?…

Tiny couldn’t resist being in the photo with the zebras.

As of today, we’ve been married for 26 years. Last year in India, we celebrated our 25th but now, that seems like so long ago. We are blessed to have this amazing union, two people of polar opposites, that somehow meet in the middle to find love, companionship, friendship, and harmony. Who knew we’d be able to travel the world together for over eight years and find so much joy in our everyday lives, regardless of where we may be at any given time?

We waited quite a while for them to pick up their heads for a photo but they were preoccupied.

If anyone had asked if we could spend 10 months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, we may have laughed, uncertain if our usual state of harmony and love would survive. And, it did. Not only did we survive, emotionally intact, but all the stronger for it. Happy anniversary, Tom Lyman! May our lives together continue to be enriched in years to come.

They often head-butt one another when the pellets get low.

Last night, we headed to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for our anniversary dinner, dining outside on the veranda and enjoying, as usual, a fine meal. It’s often surprising to us how affordable it is to dine out in Marloth Park. This week we dined at Jabula twice, on Thursday with Linda and Ken, and again last night.

The cost for each evening was approximately US $40, ZAR $615, which included taxes, tips, cocktails for Tom, and a bottle of my favorite Four Cousins Skinny Red Wine which I drank from on both occasions, with another glass or two left in the bottle that we brought home last night. There is nowhere in the world we’ve been able to enjoy such good food at such reasonable prices.

Zebras with their heads down only interested in the pellets.

Our total grocery bill since we arrived here on January 13th with enough food to last us for another week was US $1081, ZAR 16609. This averaged, US $136, ZAR 2074 per week. Our total dining out bill for these eight weeks was US $251, ZAR 3856. The grand total for food thus far was US 1332, ZAR 20465, averaged US $167, ZAR 2566 per week.

This was the first of the zebras to take a drink from the pool and the others followed suit.

When we lived in Minnesota, shopping for groceries in 2012, we spent an average of US $225, ZAR 3457 per week. Dining out, typically was US $100, ZAR 1536 and thus we didn’t go out to eat in the US as readily as we do here. As we’ve always said, it’s good for our budget to be living in South Africa, let alone all the other wonderful reasons.

As you can see from today’s photos, we were thrilled to finally see zebras in the garden. It was funny how it happened. One of the four zebras snuck up from the side of the house and peered out at us on the veranda, checking out the situation. Moments later, the four of them were busy munching on pellets, rarely taking a second to look up.

They seem to copy one another’s activities.

Zebras aren’t like kudus, wildebeest, warthogs, and bushbucks, who make eye contact and respond to our voices. They never look us in the eye. Although it’s quite enjoyable to watch them interact with one another, pushing and shoving one moment and cuddling the next, they have little interest in us humans. Nonetheless, a visit from them is always welcomed.

Tonight, we are getting together with Linda and Ken to celebrate our anniversary. Bubbly is on the menu for sure. And, tomorrow night, their last night in MP, we’re meeting for dinner at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as AAmazing River View. The restaurant overlooks the Crocodile River for some often exciting views.

Although there is chlorine in the pool, here, they use so little, it’s not harmful to the animals to drink from the pool.

Today, it is very hot and humid. It’s so much so that I decided to stay inside in the bedroom to cool off for a bit while I finish today’s post.

We hope you’ve been having a good weekend. We certainly have enjoyed this four-day run of social activities with our special friends in Marloth Park. We never tire of the people or the wildlife and can’t imagine, we ever will.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2020:

Us, in an old vehicle, located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.

Day #264 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Will we take the COVID-19 vaccine?…

We knew we had to be very cautious not only for our safety but for his as well when this adorable zebra climbed the slippery steps to see what we had for him. If we startled him or told him to get down, he could have broken a leg on the slippery tiles of the stairs to the veranda. Instead, we tossed pellets on the ground near the bottom of the steps.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2018 while living in Marloth Park, South Africa. We realize these photos may be redundant, but we couldn’t resist sharing these fun photos. For more, please click here.

Yesterday and again this morning, I had some work to do with one of our website’s advertisers and ran into a glitch on their site which kept me in a tizzy for two hours. I’ve contacted our web people to help but they aren’t available this weekend. It will have to wait until Monday. It’s the nature of the beast.

We were busy working on our laptops and didn’t realize what was happening until we saw this zebra climbing up the veranda steps.

Speaking of beasts, I was definitely in the mood for some more “feel good” hormones as mentioned in yesterday’s post here, smiling and laughing over old photos from Marloth Park in 2018. Yes, I’ve thought quite a bit about the possible redundancy of all the upcoming future photos when, again, we’ll be living in the bush among the wildlife.

Lately, while walking the corridors, I’ve been thinking of ways in which we can add more exciting photos of that which we encounter living in the bush. It’s the unusual shots such as today’s repeated photos, that add to the uniqueness and innovation. Regardless of how hot and “buggie” it is outdoors on the veranda at our new location, we plan to spend our days and nights outdoors, searching for photo ops such as those included today.

Just like that, he was on the veranda. The only reason we think this happened is due to the fact that many residents feed the zebras on their ground-level verandas. 

It’s those special occasions that add so much to our experiences. Then again, for us, the simple, less interesting visits by wildlife add to our experiences on a daily basis. Of course, we’ll be venturing into Kruger National Park at least once a week when again, we’ll purchase an annual entrance pass, taking many photos of the “Big Five” and more.

Also, from time to time we’ll head to the village of Komatipoort to shop but will avoid going more often than is absolutely necessary, due to COVID-19, which is more prevalent in the town than where we’ll live, which is 25 minutes away in the bush.

We gave him time to fulfill his curiosity, talking softly, and with confidence.

As of now, we’ve booked our required COVID-19 PCR test with a local lab that will come to our hotel on January 10, 2021, between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm. We’ll have the results in our email within eight hours, which we’ll have the hotel print and we’ll bring to the airport as required by Emirates Airlines and South Africa for entry without quarantine.

Several of our readers have written asking if we will be taking the COVID-19 vaccine. We are considering it, especially, if it’s going to be required in order for us to continue to travel. It won’t be available in India by the time we leave in January but, we expect we’ll be able to get it at some point in South Africa, either at Dr. Theo’s office or the pharmacy in Komatipoort. We’ll see how that rolls out.

It was definitely a shock to see him on the veranda, but we appreciated the photo op!

This plan will give us time to see if the vaccine is safe for our ages and my health conditions that include allergies, which, based on some news (true or not) that stated that those with allergies may not be good candidates. At least we’ll have time to figure it out when we observe what’s happening to recipients of the vaccines in the US and worldwide.

Yes, if it proves to be safe and effective, I’d enjoy the peace of mind after having the vaccine. After all, we’ve had numerous vaccines protecting us in our travels. One more won’t be much different if it is safe. However, it’s not an easy decision for any of us when many have opinions about the efficacy and safety of vaccines in general. Each of us can only choose a decision based on our own opinions and health, along with the opinions of our personal medical professionals.

He let out a loud whinny and took off for the pellets we tendered at the bottom of the steps. It was quite a nice visit, one we’ll always remember.

Tom awoke this morning and said, “Good morning, Sweetie. Guess what? It’s the weekend!” Duh?

Thirty-two days and counting.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2019:

It was fun to sit by the firepit with Tom’s sisters, spouses, and other residents in the RV park in Apache Junction, Arizona. For more, please click here.

Day #258 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Yikes!…Snakes, scary insects, heat, power outages and thefts…!…

Twig snake, also known as a vine snake was on the railing at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant as we walked up the steps to the restaurant. “Twig snakes are among the few rear-fanged colubrids whose bite is highly venomous and potentially fatal. The venom is hemotoxic, and although its effects are very slow, and bites are rare, no antivenom has been developed, and several fatalities have occurred.”

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2018 when we were walking up the steps to dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant in Marloth Park,  when a guest yelled out, “Look out! There’s a snake on the railing!” For that post, please click here.

By the time we arrive, (hopefully) in Marloth Park, it will have been 20 months since we departed South Africa in May 2019, when I was finally able to fly after heart surgery. It will have been long enough for us to put aside thoughts of encountering venomous snakes, insects, and the high temperatures in January which is summer in Africa. It can be as hot as 104F/40C or considerably higher from time to time.

Juan, a young and yet highly accomplished snake handler, captured the snake, placing it in this container and releasing it in Lionspruit where other captured venomous snakes are sent to live out their lives.

With air-con generally only available in the bedrooms in most bush houses and with our desire to be outdoors on the veranda all day long, waiting for wildlife to visit, it will be quite an adjustment from sitting in this cool, dark, temperature-controlled room for the prior 10 months (by the time we depart). I’m not complaining, just observing.

As mentioned in prior posts, we keep the darkening drapes in this hotel room closed all day with the lamps on, in order to keep the room cool throughout the day and night. Even the bright sunlight will require an adjustment after all this time, one we look forward to. In our prior two long stays in Marloth Park, in 2013/2014 and 2018/2019, on each occasion, we were there over the summer months and we fared well in the heat.

Young zebra in the garden.

I imagine we’ll do equally well once again. When we lived in the “Orange” house, I did ok after returning from the hospital after open-heart surgery at the tail end of February, lying on the sofa in the lounge room without any air-con.  If it became unbearable for a short period, Tom helped me maneuver to the bedroom for a break with the air-con on.

A day after I returned from the hospital, the power was out for a day. Danie brought over a generator for us to use. Bless their hearts, he and Louise were always thinking of us.

The frequent power outages were challenging at times. Eskom’s “load shedding,” when the power was turned off to reduce the grid load was especially annoying. That’s another story I won’t get into today, but it is a fact we must accept in returning to our otherwise favorite place in the world.

We wrote in 2018: “We’re treasuring every moment with the wildlife, knowing once the holiday-makers arrive, we’d have considerably fewer visitors until well into January.”

Also at times, there’s no water. And, of course, when the power is out, there is no WiFi. Now that we have our Google phones with built-in data hotspots, if necessary, we can use them during those periods. We won’t know if it will work in our location until we arrive.

Another precaution we must consider is the number of burglaries in the bush houses. Although the two entrance gates to Marloth Park are guarded, 24-hours a day, many burglaries transpire with losses of computers, phones, digital equipment, TVs, and other items. At no point, can we leave our laptops on the outdoor table if we run indoors to do something if one of us isn’t around to keep out a watchful eye.

When Little didn’t get my attention when he walked up the steps to the veranda, he knocked over this chair. Determined Little, trying to get my attention. It worked!

Last night, 12 hours ago, I saw this post on Facebook, “A lion has recently been seen on Butterfly Street towards Olifant.” From time to time, lions crawl under the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park to enter Marloth and may be heard and seen for days, if not weeks.

There’s plenty of food for lions in the park. When such a sighting is observed, everyone is notified through the various Facebook groups or email. It’s during these times that warnings are issued to avoid locals and guests from freely walking in the streets. Night-time curfews are instituted. Lions tend to hunt at night, but are often observed during daylight hours.

Of course, I made his antics worthwhile. I gave him pellets and ice-cold carrots on a very hot day.  He was so exhausted in the heat that he lay down to dine.

In those cases, I will have to consider where I’ll continue my regular walking routine each day. If necessary, I’ll walk indoors on the days when lions are spotted and outdoors for the remainder. The house we’ve booked appears to have a long driveway which I can walk many times each day to achieve my goal. Somehow, it will all work out.

You may ask, with all these potential issues, why in the world would we want to return? As our long-time readers know, the answer is easy, “Amid all of that, we love it there…the wildlife, the people, the access to Kruger National Park, the scenery and the simple pleasures of life in the bush,”

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit that morning. After he walked on the veranda table, he landed on Tom and then landed on me. Friendly little fellow.

Now, we wait, albeit as patiently as possible for the days to pass so we can once again return, in 38 days. Fingers crossed.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2019:

On this date in 2015, we were at the Arts Village in Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu, Fiji. For the year-ago story, please click here.

Day #229 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A commenter writes a criticism of me…Elephant close-ups…

It was a rarity for us to see impalas in the garden but several stopped by to partake of pellets. No doubt, they are hungry at that time of year and put aside their apprehension of humans and came to call. This adorable girl was chewing pellets when I shot this photo. Too cute for words!

Today’s photos are from this date while living in the bush in South Africa in 2018 and while visiting Kruger National Park. For the story from this date, please click here.

No words can express the joy we feel when our readers write to us via our comment section at the end of each post or by email. Many hesitate to post a comment, but please keep in mind you can do so anonymously if you prefer or even just leaving your first name.

We were saddened to see who we named, “Wounded.” Apparently, he was stabbed in his near eye by another animal’s horn or tusk.

This morning, I noticed there were hundreds of comments I’d yet to reply, after discovering that our new site wasn’t set up to send me a notification email informing me that a new comment was posted. This will be fixed by Monday. If you posted a comment and I haven’t replied, please be aware I am working on responding to all of these over the next few days and will soon be caught up.

As for the comments, we were thrilled to see the amount of kindness and support from so many of our readers. Although I recognized the names of a few long term readers, most were from readers, we’d never communicated with in the past, many of whom may have been new readers over the past many months in India.

We got as close as was safe while we waited for 40 minutes for him to move out of the road in Kruger National Park. He wasn’t about to move for us nor did we honk or bother him while we waited. After all, this is their territory, not ours.

Many commenters were from such countries as India, Indonesia, China, Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa, and more. Of course, like most blog sites we receive our fair share of spam, which includes advertisers for various products and services, and most annoyingly, pornographic spam to which I quickly report as “spam” and immediately remove from the system.

Oddly, one reader wrote on this post here, “You think too much.”  We both laughed out loud, no offense intended to the commenter. Nor am I offended. Yes, I admit, I do think too much. However, excessive thinking allows me to come up with a new post 365 days a year and today writing post #3009.

We got as close as was safe to take some close-up photos of him.

Believe me, it takes some serious thinking to be able to prepare, edit, and upload a new story with photos each and every day of my life over the past more than 8 years, only missing some days due to travel days, WiFi, and power outages and 2019s open-heart surgery and subsequent other surgeries due to complications, when I missed over two weeks.

When I’m not preparing posts, am I “thinking too much?” I try not to. While walking for over 90 minutes a day, I listen to podcasts and don’t do much thinking other than absorbing what I’m learning from the information on hand. Once I’ve finished the daily post, I spend the rest of my afternoon, working on the edits for the 3000 posts, leaving little time for thinking other than what’s in front of me.

We noticed as we waited, that he had a hole in his ear which could have been a result of a fight or damage from a tree or bush while grazing.

From 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm each day, we start streaming our favorite shows which doesn’t leave much time for excessive thinking, other than enjoying the shows on the screen and stopping in between shows to finish my walking for the day. My daily goal is to walk one mile, 1.6 km, five times a day.

Yesterday, we signed up for Hulu, which has tons of shows we haven’t seen such as “Dancing with the Stars,” The Bachelorette,” America’s Got Talent,” and “Shark Tank,” all of which are mindless drivel we can escape into during this challenging period of time. Not much thinking is going on then.

The diameter of his foot was astounding. An elephant’s foot can range from 40 to 50 cm (1.31 to 1.6 feet in length).  

In the evenings, we’re working our way through one of the most entertaining shows we’ve seen since, Amazon’s “Man in the High Castle,” which is “The Walking Dead.” We steered away from zombie shows for years never able to grasp the concept. But now, this 10 season show with 115 episodes has been exceedingly engrossing, oddly enough. Not much thinking there.

As for the middle of the night, years ago, I trained myself to not overthink and worry during the night when it has such a huge impact on quality sleep. If I awaken during the night and can’t return to sleep right away, I’ll read a few things on my phone with the screen dimmed or play Scrabble with others who may be online at the time, until I’m sleepy again. This works well for me, but may not for others.

The end of the elephant’s tail has hairs that act as a small brush, good for swatting flies, bees, and other insects.

So, yes, dear reader, at times, I do “think too much” but that too works for me, especially when striving to keep those thoughts positive and worthwhile to share here the following day. Please keep those comments coming and know, going forward, we’ll make every effort to reply to each one.

Have a safe, healthy, and fulfilling day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2019:

The world-famous Atlantis Hotel in Nassau, The Bahamas. For more photos, please click here.

Day #226 in lockdown in Mumbai, India…Election results day…Bubonic plague in Africa, two years ago…

More than 1,300 cases have now been reported in Madagascar, health chiefs have revealed, as nearby nations have been placed on high alert
This map of Africa in 2017, illustrates that there was a high-risk for bubonic plague. At that time we were planning to be in South Africa beginning in February 2018 and other countries, in order to renew our visa status. We, ultimately, stayed in Africa for 15 months at that time.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2017, during the news on the bubonic plague impacting the east coast of Africa  See the link here.

After a solid 5½ hours of uninterrupted sleep, I bolted out of bed at 5:00 am, anxious to shower, dress, and get ready to start the day, watching US news on the elections. While getting dressed I had the news on my phone in the bathroom, but the results were only dribbling in at that time.

Tom’s early morning view of the moon setting on the horizon, taken from the veranda.

Not wanting to awaken Tom, I decided against turning on the news on the TV to one of the few English-speaking channels in India. My phone is a perfect resource for news and at the moment at 6:00 am, I’m dressed for the day, sitting in my comfy chair, earbuds in my ears, listening to the news on my phone while I’m preparing today’s post.

My goal is to complete today’s post by the time Tom awakens and be able to plug in my laptop to the TV with live broadcasts of US news available to stream. I don’t mind not working on my laptop today, instead, using it to see what’s transpiring with the election.

We’ve often been asked if we pay attention to what is transpiring in the US as we’ve traveled the world and without a doubt, regardless of our fears and frustration over recent events, of course, we care deeply about our home country. We always stay in close touch via the news and reading a variety of publications online.

A boy covers his mouth as a council worker sprays disinfectant during the clean-up of the market in the Anosibe district, one of the most unsalubrious districts of Antananarivo.
Street scene in Madagascar during the plague. (Not our photo).

Over these many months in lockdown, we are paying special attention when we’ve had news on, in the background,  most days, switching between the few English speaking stations, most of which are international news which also has a big impact on our lives. There are one or two English-speaking Indian news channels which we also watch for updates on COVID-19 and the possibilities of the opening of international flights.

As for today’s photos, on this date in 2017, news broke about the bubonic plague (ironic, eh?) hitting the eastern coast of Africa. It caused us concern with our plans to head to South Africa in February, three months later. Fortunately, the virus was contained by the time we arrived in Africa as we headed to Marloth Park to celebrate my 70th birthday at Jabula with friends and to hopefully stay for an extended period.

By traveling in and out of South Africa by visiting other countries in Africa, we were able to stay for 12 months with only applying for one visa extension by traveling to other African countries and returning to South Africa for another 90-day visa stamp.

People queue at a pharmacy in downtown Antananarivo, Madagascar to buy protection masks against infections and medicines against plague on Monday, October 2.
Locals outside a pharmacy in Madagascar. (Not our photo).

When I had open-heart surgery in South Africa and couldn’t travel for three months, we overstayed our last visa by 90 days. Tom was too busy taking care of me to spend days working on another visa extension. When we left the country, we were told we couldn’t return for five years, described as “undesirables.” We had letters from doctors and proof of payment for medical bills to prove the reason why we’d overstayed. Still, we were banned.

While in Ireland after leaving SA, we hired a South Africa law firm to help us acquire a waiver to allow us to return sooner than in five years. It was granted months later, after considerable legal fees and now, ironically, we can’t get there. So much has changed for us and for people all over the world in 2020. I don’t believe this will be over with the new year.

Regardless of the results of today’s US election, we pray for the safety and well being of our fellow US citizens and for citizens of the world.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, November 4, 2019:

The travel anniversary cake hosted by Murano, a specialty restaurant on the ship. Tom didn’t eat any of it. We handed over to the neighbors from Minnesota in the next cabin for them to enjoy. For more photos, please click here.

Continue reading “Day #226 in lockdown in Mumbai, India…Election results day…Bubonic plague in Africa, two years ago…”

Day #197 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago today…


This is a Topi only found in the Maasai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari experiences in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Please bear with us as we share repeated photos as we work our way through October 2013. It was that single experience while on safari many times in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, living in a luxury tent (photos of the tent will follow in a few days), that everything changed for us.

We could sit for hours and watch the antics of the hippos. Their lethargic movement and playful personalities are a pleasure to behold.

In tomorrow’s fourth 2000 word post (only one more to go), we’ll explain this further in regard to taking photos of wildlife. It’s a long post to which we’ll be adding more repeated photos but will illustrate how being amateur photographers has enhanced our world journey.

It was seven years ago today that we were entrenched in the exquisite glory of being on safari twice a day, while never disappointed. Throughout my life, I swooned over photos of animals in the wild, wondering when and if I’d ever have the good fortune or be brave enough to embark on such a journey.

A lone hippo searching for a morsel on the ground.

Little did I know at the time that bravery wasn’t a necessary element in experiencing the joys of safari. Instead, it is definitely a sense of adventure, which with a professional guide and later on, as our own guides, presented little risk with a multitude of thrills. At one point in our posts, I equated it to having an “E” ticket at Disneyland (remember, old-timers, like me?) and the thrills were seemingly never-ending.

Looking back at the photos now, especially while outrageously confined in lockdown in a hotel in India for 6½ months, these photos still send a rush of endorphins through my bloodstream, making me realize how addicted I’ve become to this amazing rush after all of these years.

 We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept on our safaris as a reality of the life cycle. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle.

Each day on Facebook I peruse dozens of photos from various safaris in Africa and countless photos of wildlife in Marloth Park from the many friends we left behind. Many of us belong to various Marloth Park FB groups and the photos make me long to return in a way I can barely describe.

When I think that perhaps someday soon we can return to see our animal and human friends, shop in a grocery store, cook our own meals, savor a glass of red wine or cocktail at happy hour, and move about freely in open spaces, my heart skips a beat.

The Mara River. Our tent was located on the shore where sounds of hippos filled the air beginning around 4:00 am as they awoke.

On top of that, at any time we’d like, we can make the 20-minute drive to the Crocodile Gate to enter Kruger National Park to excitedly search for the next big rush; elephants, lions, cape buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, most of which we don’t see as readily in Marloth Park.

The well-rounded experiences of that location is all we could ever dream of and, without a doubt, was where we had the most exciting, enduring, and blissful experiences in our almost eight years of world travel (as of October 31st). Whether it was dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant or dinner at our own table or theirs, with friends, sitting by the braai (bonfire), or even those special times alone on the veranda, just the two of us, reveling in every visitor that graced our garden during the day or evening, it all was special.

 No swimming in this river!

Will we appreciate it more now than we did then, during the total 18 months we spent in Marloth Park, in 2013, 2018, 2019? I don’t think so. We treasured every single day and night, just like we’ll do once again, sometime in the future. When? We don’t have a clue. But, we wait patiently for news on the horizon when borders will open and we can be on our way.

It won’t be easy getting there. It’s a long flight and most likely with COVID-19 protocols, it will be 35 hours or more from airport to airport and then, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Apparently, the closer (one hour drive) airport of Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger won’t be opening for some time. Time will tell.

 “Please pinch me,” I told Tom at that time. “I must be dreaming!”

Right now, our biggest concern is getting that package delivered. The hotel manager is helping us and working directly with FedEx. Hopefully, today, we’ll hear something. In the meantime, it’s the status quo, same old, same old.

Have a peaceful day and please stay safe and healthy.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2019:

A goose with a knot on her head on the farm in Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

Day #182 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Making decisions…

Yes, I know. Photos of us in 2013 often show us wearing the same clothes over and over. After ditching most of our clothing to lighten our load, we have no choice but to do so. We try to wear the same items frequently in order to wear them out for disposal, saving the newer items for the future. So far, nothing has worn out. With no clothes dryers available, the thinnest tee shirts seem to “live” forever.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

We laughed over the night depicted in today’s historic photos of the night on this date seven years ago that we went out to dinner in Kenya and were the only diners in the entire restaurant.

Ah, moonlight!

It was a beautiful moonlit night and we recall it as if it was only yesterday. We made a reservation at the Blue Marlin Restaurant located on the beach on the Indian Ocean. It was a long walk from the security entrance to the actual restaurant on uneven pavers and we were grateful for our LED flashlights to guide us along the way.

This spot was ideal for relaxing after a guest drank too many Margaritas!

We arrived at 7:30 pm at TripAdvisor’s highly rated restaurant, surprised to find we were the only guests on the premises. The staff was plentiful and the service and food was excellent. At the time we couldn’t recall ever being the only guests in a restaurant during dinner hours, but we shrugged it off, assuming sooner or later, other guests would appear. It never happened, much to our surprise after experiencing the delicious meals, drinks and service.

The chalkboard at the Blue Marlin listed the daily specials.

As a result, we had an opportunity to take some photos with the staff who were thrilled to oblige. We handed out several of our business cards knowing full-well they’d be searching for their photos on the next day’s post, perhaps making them feel a little like celebrities. It was endearing.

We had a chance to interact with their two “house dogs” who couldn’t have been more friendly. Of course, when we returned back to our holiday home, Han’s two dogs, Gucci and Jessie, were waiting for our return. It’s always been a treat to be able to adopt a dog or two that resided near our vacation homes at the time.

The Blue Marlin offered a relaxed, comfortable outdoor environment for diners.Notice an actual blue marlin on the wall.

It was hot, humid and windy, when we returned to the house. By the time we reached our outdoor living room, the veranda, we both decided to change into as minimal clothes as possible, covering ourselves with repellent and staying outdoors until bedtime. It was another good night.

Zaa Zaa, our friendly companion for the evening, lying at our feet as we dined.

On another note, yesterday’s post was the first of the five 2000 word posts I wrote, to which our web developers will be editing in the background for purposes of website optimization. Yesterday, I wrote the second of five posts and that should be ready to post tomorrow. I apologize for any redundancy in these long posts since its imperative they contain the content represented in the keywords.

Tom drank two bottles of this local Tusker beer.

There’s only five such posts and we should be done with them within a few weeks. Otherwise, on all other days, our regular less-wordy posts will appear as usual. No worries. No impact on your regular reading. Thanks for your patience.

Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of skuttlebutt online about the possibility of South Africa’s borders opening soon. At this point, it appears US citizens and anyone entering from India will not be allowed to enter. Another reality is that the Kruger Mpumalanga Nelspruit Airport we usually fly to, won’t be open for some time.

The chef insisted we take a photo together!

When we can travel to South Africa, we’ll fly into Johannesburg, rent a car and drive for five hours to make our way to Marloth Park. None of this concerns us. What concerns us is when the borders of both South Africa and India open enabling us to leave.

Tom’s appetizer of bacon wrapped jumbo prawns. I pointed out the bulging eyes. He asked, “Why’d you tell me that?”

Yesterday, we had a much needed discussion, considering these facts and both have agreed we are willing to “wait it out’ here at this hotel in Mumbai, India. There’s no point in adding more COVID-19 exposure in flying to the US to wait it out, nor is hovering around various airports, as they are just beginning to open, many soon.

My appetizer was a delicious creamy crab salad.

By the time we’re allowed to leave, protocols for COVID-19 will be firmly in place, after more experience, and we’ll have a better chance of avoiding infection. Of course, if India opens to other countries we’d be willing to travel to, and South Africa isn’t open for us, we may opt to head somewhere else to wait, as long as its to a location we’d find worthwhile and interesting. Otherwise, we’ll stay put.

Tom’s dinner consisted of a sizable portion of Swahili Fish, most likely a type of snapper. Bone free and lightly seasoned with a rich buttery coconut sauce, he had no trouble devouring every morsel.

Nothing much has changed around here. The corridors are a little less crowded now. The staff is working on reducing the noise at night from our next door neighbors (ugh!). And, we’re fine. As I write here now, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings football game on the TV using the HDMI and his laptop. As usual, they aren’t doing well. So it goes.

Look at the size of these calamari rings! I, too, savored every morsel on my plate.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 21, 2019:

An otter lounging in the sun in Tiverton, Cornwall, UK. For more photos, please click here.

Day #177 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Two spaces or one at the end of sentence?…

Hans invited us up to his third level veranda in Kenya for “happy hour” and to watch the sunset. As we enjoyed the view from up high, we all noticed this animal’s butt sitting inside a window of a thatched roof. Definitely not a monkey with this type of tail, we anxiously waited for it to turn around. By the time it was totally dark, it hadn’t moved, leaving us all without a clue as to what type of animal it had been.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

The sunset is beautiful everywhere. From the third floor of Hans’ house, we were thrilled to take photos of the progression of the sun’s setting on the horizon.

As I muddle my way through our almost 3,000 archived posts to make corrections I continue to stumble across a dilemma…Do I remove two spaces after each sentence/paragraph and change it to one space or leave it as is, at two spaces? For us old-timers who learned to type on an old-fashioned typewriter, two spaces were the correct procedure.

Today, with the advent of digital means of typing, this simple dilemma may have changed. Subsequently, as I labor through post after post, barely able to get through 20 posts a day, I realize that the bulk of the corrections I am making in tightening up the space between two sentences.

Hans made Tom one of his special local concoctions while I sipped on my usual ice tea while chatting with Hans’ lovely wife Jerie.

Of course, I searched online for the answer, hoping to find a definitive solution. But, like many topics, the variations in opinions are overwhelming, Some dictionary sites say “one space” and others say “two-spaces” makes the text easier to read. Oh, good grief. I’ve already spent hours correcting thousands of these.

As the sun set, the lush greenery appeared brighter than during the day’s sun.

Here’s some information I found on this topic:

“Why you should or shouldn’t put two spaces after a period?
Hence the adoption of the twospace rule—on a typewriter, an extra space after a sentence makes text easier to read. … Because we‘ve all switched to modern fonts, adding two spaces after a period no longer enhances readability, typographers say. It diminishes it.”
Or,

“There was a time when every period, question mark, or exclamation point was followed by two spaces. These days, depending on what you’re reading, you can find either one or two spaces between the end of one sentence and the beginning of another.”

Look at these lush ferns, abundant in Kenya’s humid weather.

After reading further I came to the conclusion that in today’s world, one space after a sentence should, in fact, be one, not two. So, how does this impact my corrections on almost 3,000 posts going forward? I’ve opted for one space, thus doubling the time it takes to correct errors on each page.

And, what types of other errors am I encountering?

  1. Spelling: (I am using Grammarly and Ginger for assistance)
  2. Font size: Which I’ve decided to leave as is since it takes so long to correct.
  3. Punctuation
  4. Grammar: Many comma placement errors and sentence structure (I am using Grammarly and Ginger, two apps, for assistance)
  5. Paragraph and line spacing
  6. Missing or inadequate links
  7. Verbiage errors, restructuring sentences, etc.
  8. Photo placement/positioning
  9. Caption errors on all of the above
  10. Issues with headings
  11. Repetitive words reduction
    The haze, a result of both humidity and fires burning, leaves an eerie view over the horizon.

Well, as you can see, making these corrections is a lot more complicated than one might expect. Why am I doing this when the majority of our readers don’t really care one way or another? (Thanks for that!). Many of our posts were completed under time constraints, or days when I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been. Many other posts were completed when the WiFi signal was poor and making corrections was nearly impossible, let alone typing the text.

From high up on the veranda, these coconuts caught my eye. They are everywhere!

Excuses aside. Human nature. We make errors, especially me when 365 days a year I write the equivalent of an essay from 700 to 1000 words, mostly with photos which is a breeding ground for human error.

Now, as I go back through each post, one by one, I am certainly missing some corrections or, in fact, making new errors in the process. Also, I am making new errors in the new posts I am doing now. It’s not perfect, nor am I, nor is Tom’s daily proofreading. But, we continue to strive, each and every day to get this message to our loyal readers/friends/family to let you know what we’re doing, feeling, and thinking.

Soon, the sun would set and darkness would fall as the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife rings through the air throughout the night.

Hopefully, in the near future, we’ll have more to discuss than mere “dots.”

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2019:

As we approached St, Michaels and All Angels, Church of England in Michaelstone, Cornwall, we were in awe of its beauty. For more photos, please click here.

Day #175 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Amazing memories in frustrating times…

The lodge at Sanctuary Olonana where we’ll experience our first safari in October 2013.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Recalling the day we booked our first safari while sitting on the veranda/living room outdoors at the holiday home in Kenya, is as easy as if it was yesterday. Our enthusiasm coupled with a tinge of fear made our hearts race. One never knew what to expect going on safari. And watching YouTube videos wouldn’t be helpful at all when so many consist of dangers encountered while on safari.

Our hope was to see The Great Migration but once we arrived in Tanzania, the bulk of it had moved on, although we did see the tail end.

Now, seven years later, we’ve been on more safaris than we can count in several African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Morocco, and now, in India at three different national parks. We’re not trying to break any safari expedition’s count or race. We simply revel in the vast experiences we’ve had over the years.

Our first safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in  Kenya still remains our favorite of all the other experiences. A few times, we’ve been asked how many times we’ve been on safari and counting all the self-drives we’d done in Kruger National Park, most likely, we’re well over 100 safaris.

We went on two game drives each day, one in the morning from 6:30 am until lunchtime and another in the early evening from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Often, meals will be served in the bush, as we and the other guests feast our eyes on the surrounding wildlife.

The bouncing, the dust flying in our faces, the jolts, and fast turns make a safari as unusual adventure requiring a but of stamina and endurance. After each several hour-long safaris in the jeep-type vehicles with open sides, we felt as if we’d been exercising for hours.

Oddly, with my newer Fitbit, when we were on safari over 12 times in India, my readings showed I’d walked almost 30,000 steps each day from the mere rough ride in the vehicle. This made us laugh when we’d spent the majority of the day sitting in the vehicle.

Most of these photos were from the Sanctuary Olonana website. .

Getting in and out of a safari jeep can be challenging for those with mobility issues and unsteadiness. While we were on safari in India, it was only 11 months after my open-heart surgery. My legs weren’t stable after two surgeries only nine months earlier, and my breastbone felt as if it hadn’t entirely healed.

Even my arms were still weak and guarded. Riding in the vehicle was challenging when holding on tight which was imperative in many situations as our guide worked his/her way around rough roads, potholes, and uneven terrain. Somehow, the prospect of spotting tigers in the wild was sufficiently exciting to keep me from thinking of any potential discomfort.

In the event of rain or if we were able to be inside air-conditioned comfort. The lodge at the camp provides indoor activities, a bar, and a restaurant although as it turned out we were on safari for the bulk of the day. Our living quarters were lavish private tents on the banks of the Mara River, overlooking families of hippos splashing and snorting in the water. We could hear the hippo sounds starting around 3:00 am each morning.

Now after walking 5 miles a day (8 km) for so many months, I know I’d do a whole lot better. I continue to work my arms while walking to build up strength and resilience and staying mindful of good posture and stance.

As for the Maasai Mara, named after the Maasai people of Kenya, a tribe known for their colorful red garb and unusual diet consisting primarily of cow’s blood, it is also known for the Mara River which millions of wild animals, mainly wildebeest cross each year on their annual migration.

This is a typical interior of one of the permanent tents, outfitted with full bathrooms, electricity, free WiFi, and mosquito nets.  We always share one bed when there’s two, using the other for our “stuff.”  We brought our laptops, two cameras, binoculars, and other digital equipment, writing here each day with many photos.

Ah, my heart aches for such an experience now. The dust in my face, the jarring ride, and the challenge of getting in and out of the jeep are insignificant compared to the joy of being witness to this world of wonder once again.

As we continue over the next several weeks, sharing photos from that stunning expedition, we’ll be reminded once again of this exceptional adventure, unlike anything we’d ever done in our old lives. And now, who knows what the future has in store for us in months or years to come? We hold our breath in anticipation of leaving India to head to other lands with other joys, many of which are almost impossible to describe.

We were fortunate to see many Mr. or Ms. Rhino while in the Maasai Mara.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2019:

The Towne Centre Theatre in Wakebridge, Cornwall where we watched the Downton Abbey movie the day it was released in the UK. For more details, please click here.