Today’s the day!…Our guests arrive this afternoon…Breakfast in town…Tom’s short haircut…

It was a good idea to set up this bar and get the clutter off of the kitchen counter.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This dead beetle was lying on her back on the veranda.
We flipped it over for this photo. This is an African Black Beetle. We swept it over the edge of the veranda.  A few minutes later, a band of mongooses stopped by, and one of them immediately started devouring the beetle, savoring it so much, he made funny noises while crunching on its hard shell. Mongooses are carnivores. They don’t sting but have a powerful toxin they release when agitated that can feel like a sting and cause irritation.

A part of the fun of entertaining guests is the preparations to make their stay as pleasant as possible. We ran around the house, organizing and de-cluttering in an attempt to make everything as pleasant as possible. We outfitted their rooms and bath with soaps, towels, insect repellents, toilet paper, and tissues.

Our friend Kathy recommended this quaint café in Komatipoort, which we finally visited for the first yesterday.  We had a fantastic breakfast of bacon, eggs, veggies (Tom splurged on toast and jam, hot tea, and bottled water).  The total bill was a paltry ZAR 170 (US $11.61), including tax and tip.

We loved creating a nice bar area, as shown in today’s main photo, using everything we had on hand and adding some new items Tom and Lois indicated they liked to drink, and the result was quite pleasing.

Tom’s eggs and bacon.  He ate his two pieces of toast and mine also.

It’s not that we drink that much. But, we entertain fairly often. Tom likes a one-shot brandy and Sprite, while I occasionally have a sugar-free gin and tonic. But, more often, I drink low-alcohol wine, which has 30% less alcohol.  

I ordered this spinach omelet only to discover it had creamed spinach inside. I have to learn how to order better for my further restricted lactose-free diet. Next time, I’ll ask for plain spinach. This time I scraped off all of the spinach and ate the egg part. There was no way I would ask them to take it back when I failed to order properly.

Luckily, low alcohol wine is available, made by South African wineries, and is quite good. When we dine out as we did last night for an excellent dinner at Aamazing (spelled correctly) River View overlooking the Crocodile River, I was able to order Four Cousins Skinny White wine. I had two glasses during the evening while Tom had two-one shot glasses of Klipdrift brandy with Sprite Zero.

There is both indoor and outdoor dining at this delightful spot.

I ordered the grilled calamari steaks with salad (no dressing) while Tom had chicken Corden Bleu, rice, and salad. Our total bill, including the drinks, tax, and tip, was ZAR 414 (US $28.36). It’s almost more cost-effective to dine out than cook!

Many lovely gifts can be purchased here.

It was unusual for us to eat out twice in one day, but I didn’t want to make a mess after the house was cleaned so perfectly by Zef and Vusi. This morning I started the food prep for today’s lunch and dinner. 

A few minutes ago, they were both here, cleaning the floors, making the bed, taking out the trash, and cleaning the veranda, which must be cleaned daily with all the dust kicked up from the wildlife and the soot from the sugar cane fires.

The charming gift shop at the Stoep Café.

Josiah is now emptying, cleaning, and refilling the cement pond so the wildlife can have fresh water to drink. Plus, recently, Little Wart Face sat in the pond.  It is a good idea to keep this clean.

After breakfast at the Stoep Cafe, we headed to the dentist’s office. As it turned out, they’d moved to the same building as Dr. Theo at the Trio Centre. Tom has a sore spot on his gums that needs to be checked. He couldn’t get an appointment until next Tuesday, so he’s using warm salt water rinses in the interim.  We’ll see how that goes.

Bottles are used decoratively in the stone walkway at the Stoep Café.

At the dentist’s office, which shares the space with an optometrist, I purchased a really nice pair of sunglasses since those I’d purchased in Zambia fell apart a few days ago.  

From there, we headed to the pharmacy for a few toiletries and then off to Spar for a few more groceries items. We weren’t planning to return to the house until around 1400 hours (2:00 pm), but we’d purchased meat and needed to put it into the freezer. Fortunately, the boys were wrapping up the cleaning, and it all worked out well.

Tom before his haircut.  Scary!

A few hours later, we headed to the Aamazing River View in time to watch the sunset. We enjoyed a leisurely wait until our fresh, hot, and delicious food arrived. The wait was worth it.

Back home by 2100 hours (9:00 pm), we decided to watch the finale of Master Chef on my laptop. I fell asleep on the sofa for almost two hours and missed the finale. Once I got up and was ready for bed, I had an awful time falling back to sleep after the two-hour nap. Today, we’re both a little sluggish, but surely when our guests arrive, we’ll both become energized.

Tom, after his short haircut, is trim and neat.  A great improvement!

Over the next three weeks, our posting times will vary depending on the plans we’ve made with Tom and Lois. However, we will continue to post each day! We’ll keep you updated on the plans and experiences during this busy time for us in Marloth Park with friends! 

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2017:

Tom took this beautiful photo in the early morning in Costa Rica as the moon was setting. Nice job! For more photos, please click here.

“Getting our ducks in a row…”

Tom shot this photo from our veranda of a barge, the ferry and a tugboat passing by. Great shot, Honey!

With only 28 days until we depart this island, its time to begin planning our next month on the main island in Fiji, a short tiny prop plane flight away. It goes without saying that a one month holiday or vacation would require a certain amount of planning beyond the initial research and booking.

I try to imagine what it would have been like in our old lives if we were planning a one month vacation in a remote area of an island when we were only four weeks from departure.

In essence, that’s us each time we move. This morning I wrote to the owner asking the address of the property which generally owners don’t divulge until close to the rental period for the sake of some perceived security in waiting to do so. 

After recently watching a David Attenborough documentary on the in-depth life cycle of caterpillars, we had an entirely new perspective on these amazing creatures with two entirely different lifecycles as they eventually morph into butterflies.  We spotted this one on the veranda a few days ago.

Once the final payment is made in full which we paid a few months ago, most likely there’s little risk for an owner in the renter having the address. The bigger risk for the owner is once the renter moves in if they fail to be responsible. That’s never us.

As for a renter, there’s a degree of risk:
1.  The property could not be there. It could have been a scam for which we’re prepaid $1000’s. We take that risk each time we move. There’s insurance for this risk, for which we’ve evaluated the cost via risk factor and for us, it would be $1000’s per year, not worth the expense.
2.  The property could be different than as described in the listing.  his happened to us in January 2013, on our first vacation home outside the US in Belize. We left in a week, losing one month’s rent, but couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We found a fabulous resort where we lived for two remaining months with the ocean outside our door.  It was glorious.

Never again, did we suffer such disappointment. We have no doubt it will occur sometime in the future and stay mindful and prepared for that eventuality. We’ve budgeted for this type of potential loss. 

A Paul Gauguin cruise ship sailed by our view. It would have been fun to take a cruise in this area, but we’ve already done so and will do so again on our several upcoming cruises touring the perimeter and surrounding islands in Australia.

The best way for the average traveler to financially prepare for such an occurrence is to purchase the insurance, but the time and effort to find another location on short notice is an equally big risk, especially for us when we stay for extended periods in most locations.

We’ve come to accept that if we plan to stay for less than a month, it may be easier and more suitable to stay in a hotel, as we’d done over a year ago in Paris and London for a little over two weeks in each city. 

Dining out for every meal is the only obstacle of staying in a hotel and of course, the cost which is generally higher than a vacation home of some type. The space limitations of a hotel don’t bother us. After all, we easily spend weeks on a cruise in an under 200 square foot (19 square meters) cabin, managing fine without feeling confined.

Closer view of the cruise ship with passengers on their verandas. We always book a “veranda or balcony cabin” as opposed to those shown below the veranda levels which include “ocean view” and “inside cabins” none of which has appealed to us. Being able to stand outside day or night has been a highly enjoyable aspect of cruising.

As for “getting our ducks in a row,” preparing for the next location requires considerable online research along with many conversations by email with the owner or manager. 

In the case of the upcoming next house in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, we’ve already had numerous chats with Susan, the owner, who’s been very helpful and informative.

With the house 89 miles, 144 kilometers from the airport, prearranging transportation is vital. It’s not a “grab a taxi” kind of ride. Susan suggested an air-conditioned shuttle service which most likely is a van type vehicle.

A tug boat passing at a distance.

How easily we recall the shuttle service we used for the four-hour drive on rough roads with no AC from Belize City to Placencia in 90F, 32C. We assumed at that point that this would be our reality for the long haul and anything better would be a bonus. We assumed correctly. Anytime we have a vehicle with AC for long drives, we’re pleasantly pleased and surprised.

Also, in many taxis and shuttles, if we’re getting a “deal” for the transportation we don’t ask the driver to turn on the AC with the outrageous cost of fuel on many islands. For example, here in Savusavu with Rasnesh, our round trip cost to the village including helping us carry the groceries to the house totals USD $13.92, FJD $30.  We don’t ask him to turn on the AC.

Originally, he’d quoted us USD $9.28, FJD $20 for the round trip. But, after a few trips, we negotiated upwards if he’s helped carry our entire week’s groceries up the long, steep, and uneven path to the house. It takes him, young and strapping as he is, an extra five minutes and worth every penny of the extra USD $4.64, FJD $10 to us.

A barge passing at a distance.

As for transportation in the upcoming Pacific Harbour, Susan suggested it’s not worth renting a car when there’s plenty of equally low-cost drivers in the area and many markets and restaurants within walking distance. 

The thought of being able to walk to go out to lunch or dinner, if we can find a suitable restaurant for my diet, is exciting. Here, we don’t attempt an evening out when the walk to the house in the dark would surely be too treacherous along with the fact that we’d been unable to find suitable dining establishments for my needs. 

Don’t get me wrong, there appear to be some excellent restaurants in Savusavu as reviewed by tourists on TripAdvisor. It’s just the tricky diet that keeps us from trying, when this area is less populated by tourists than many others thus, most restaurants serve the local starchy, sugary sauces and foods I can’t eat, savored (rightfully so) by most tourists.

If I didn’t eat this way, surely I dragged Tom out to lunch for which he’d go kicking and screaming when he can’t stand the taste of the spices in typical tropical meals. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t season our food. I do so with gusto. Over the years I’ve learned how much he’ll tolerate while still enjoying the meal. Undoubtedly, his taste buds have branched out but, curry and/or Moroccan seasoning is not his thing. 

With the mosquitos on a rampage after dark,  as food for the bats, we’ve had difficultly standing outside to take photos of the flying bats we see through the windows as darkness falls. We took this photo through the glass door, excited it came out as well as it did.  Having had a fear of bats most of my life, I am no longer fearful of these important mammals, vital to the ecosystem.

Today, we’ll arrange the shuttle from the airport in Nadi (pronounced Nan-di in Fijian) to Pacific Harbour and once settled, a taxi to the market to purchase groceries and supplies for our first meal in the new location.  Much of this, we’ll figure out as we go. 

With our experience these past three years, we’ve been able to take many of the steps in these transitions in our stride. Moving and packing everything we own every few months has its challenges, more in the anticipation than in doing so. 

Packing takes no more than an hour at most, unpacking 30 minutes. “Getting our ducks in a row” in a new location seems to take a few days as we become familiar with the new property and its surroundings. 

For the most part, we enjoy the process, especially once we’ve arrived in the new location with all of our bags in tow and discover the property is what we’d expected.  We both sigh with relief knowing one more step in our journey has brought us to our “new home” wherever that may be.

Its been raining for the past three days and nights. The heat has lessened although the humidity is high. There are no ants or fruit flies in view. We’re content. May all of you be content as well!

Photo from one year ago today, November 8, 2014:

The Maui countryside took our breath away as we drove on roads far from the main highways. For more details, please click here.

Flight delayed in Lisbon by over three hours…Frustrating day…Details tomorrow…

It appears we won’t arrive in Madeira until well after 1:00 am. By the time we get our luggage and the rental car and find our way to the house, it will be 3:00 am or later.

We left the riad at 2:00 pm with only six hours of travel time, including two flights and one layover. As it turns out, it will be closer to 12 hours. Ah, the joys of flying. 

We’ll be back with details tomorrow. Please stand by.