Only a short time until we’re back in the bush…

On our way out of the Nelspruit airport, we spotted the dark brown impala we’d seen during past trips to the airport from last time he was a little calf. Now he’s fast growing to adulthood. There was also a female but we weren’t able to take a good photo of her.

We are seated on the final flight of this long journey from Las Vegas, Nevada, the USA, to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger. Within the next two hours, we will arrive in Marloth Park. We will be more at ease when done with the 90-minute drive on the dangerous N4 highway, which is rife with car jackings. 

We stayed at the  Tambo Airport City Lodge Hotel in Joburg to avoid driving that road at night. The 15-hour flight from Newark was relatively smooth, with little turbulence over the ocean. 

Gosh, we have crossed the Atlantic Ocean four times in the past two months since we left South Africa two months ago. So much happened in the past two months. We won’t reiterate them here, ad nauseam. We have said enough already.

But even this morning at the airport, we stumbled upon another example of human error when we checked our bags at the Airlink counter. They couldn’t find the information that we paid for our bags in Las Vegas and wanted to charge us again. 

We showed them our all-the-way-through itinerary that included our baggage purchases at the beginning. After a 25-minute delay, they finally figured it out, and they let us go through without additional payment.  We always book the entire trip, including short flights, to avoid extra baggage fees. But it was just “one more thing” we encountered on this trip.

We had a great time in Florida with friends Karen and Rich at their lovely waterfront home in Apollo Beach. Plus, we had an absolute blast during the first eight days of the cruise, and it was downhill from there. On disembarkation day, we found ourselves on the “COVID bus” to our hotel with dozens of other sick passengers.

Last night, after the 15-hour flight, we could finally get to our hotel room. It was so cold in the hotel and our room that we couldn’t warm up, partly due to our exhaustion and the low temps in Joburg.  We didn’t sleep much. My feet were so cold. We went to bed at 9:30, but it was early morning to us. We each dozed about an hour on the plane, certainly not enough to ease the tiredness, and perhaps another two or three hours during the night at the hotel.

We just were informed by the pilot to prepare for landing. We will be on the ground and anxious to be on our way in moments. We’ll pick up yet small, affordable rental car and be on our way.

In a few hours, we will be at our new holiday home in the bush, a colorful, African-themed, unique house with everything we could need or want. Louise never misses a beat in ensuring that the property suits our taste and desires wherever we rent.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our house, the garden, and our new animal friends. In no time at all, we’ll be reconnecting with our human friends as well.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2021:

This mongoose must have been injured and lost hers/his lips. Possibly, due to inbreeding, it could have been a congenital disability. But they were as rowdy as the others for some paloney and eggs. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move…Travel day#1…Flight got canceled…

This was our limo this morning to the airport from Green Valley Ranch Resort.

We are at the United gate at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, waiting to board our new flight in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon, I got a text on my phone stating that our 7:00 am flight to Newark was canceled, and the new flight would depart at 10:28 am. We got excited about the change, which meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport three hours early, as required, by 4:00 am.

The message stated that we’d have to book different seats on the new flight. Immediately, we checked online, only to find two seats left, one a window and another a middle seat in different rows, both of which we don’t like. We both prefer aisle seats and had previously booked our seats across the aisle from one another. But, this leg of our journey is slightly less than five hours, and we can manage this situation.

Unbelievably, United doesn’t credit passengers for their previous seat purchases when flights change. We’d paid extra on the old flight for better seats but had to take the two lousy seats that were available without the possibility of a refund. Go figure. They get you coming and going, duh, literally.

This morning, another text arrived stating the flight would be departing until 10:55 am, a change that didn’t make a difference to us one way or another. We’d already arranged our ride to the airport, and it was too late to change it. We were scheduled to be picked up by the limo at 7:00 am, but then, at 6:25, I received a text from the driver that he had arrived and if we were ready to go.

The interior of the limo.

We figured we’d either be waiting in the hotel lobby or at the airport. That was fine. By 6:40, our bags were loaded, and we were in the limo on the short 12-minute drive to the airport. The cost for the limo with tip was US $100. But, with this big festival going on in Las Vegas, there were no Ubers, Lyfts, or taxis available. We had no choice but to take the limo at four times the cost of a taxi. We felt we were lucky to get a ride at all. We weren’t about to complain about that.

Little did we know the driver would arrive in a black stretch limo. Gosh, I can’t recall the last time I rode in one of those. Riding in a limo has never been important to either of us. But I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. At least I’d have something to add to today’s post when the photo ops were slim. It was a far cry from the small rental car we’ll be driving on the N4 from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when we arrive in two days. As long as we have transportation, we don’t give it much thought.

Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered curbside check-in for United. But the rep explained that due to our international connection, we’d have to go to the ticket counter for United, using the kiosk to get our bags checked, receive our boarding passes, scan our passports and show our PCR test.

The kindly reps at the kiosk who assisted passengers were unaware that South Africa doesn’t allow entry from US passengers with only a CDC white vaccination card. When we showed them the comments on entry restrictions on their screen, which clearly stated that PCR or Antigen tests were required and CDC cards alone wouldn’t do, they were shocked. They had no idea. They said many passengers scheduled for flights for South Africa were in for a big surprise.

It was Tom who found this new requirement online. The reps were surprised we found the small print about the change in this requirement. What a nightmare that could have been.

Slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas.

Then, our bags were then whisked away to the check-in counter, where they were weighed. All four of our checked bags, none of which required payment for an international flight, were weighed and none were overweight. We had weighed all of them in our hotel room on our travel scale, which miraculously has lasted for over 9½ years.

We breezed through security and made our way to the gate, where we are still sitting with my phone plugged into the charger on the seat. By the time we get on the plane, my phone and this laptop will be 100% charged. Apparently, based on the new location of our seats on this first flight, there are no plug-ins for devices. Good grief.

With only a two-hour layover in Newark, based on the flight cancellation, we are grateful for, as opposed to the previous six-plus-hour layover, I wouldn’t have had time to do today’s post. Since we arrived at the Las Vegas airport so early, I had ample time to upload a post. There are slot machines about 20 feet from us, but we don’t play.

Tom offered to get me a cup of decaf coffee, but after waiting in line at a Starbucks, he discovered they didn’t sell decaf. That’s weird. I’ll wait and have coffee on the plane in about two hours.

Ah, dear readers, this has been one long and difficult time in the US. We saw son Greg and the three grandchildren in Minneapolis for about 20 minutes while seated in the rental car with masks on while they kept back about 10 feet from the vehicle. We never saw Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson since we were still coughing. We wonder if Covid-19 will ever go away and if the visiting family will be possible.

The next time we write will be when we arrive in Johannesburg on Monday, after the 15 hour red eye where we’ll spend part of the night at the airport hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.

See you next time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. May 22. 2021:

The river is beautiful at sunset. For more photos, please click here.

On the move again…We’re off to Las Vegas…

The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa where we’ll arrive later today.

The thought of the upcoming trip to Las Vegas is a bit intimidating. Neither of us is feeling as well as we’d like to be able to travel. Knowing that in one week from today, the two travel days to Marloth Park are even more intimidating, but hopefully, we’ll have recovered all the more by then.

Tom is still coughing, considerably more than me, but I have the fierce Covid headache that comes and goes along with a lesser cough and lots of congestion. We are not our usual “travel-ready” selves. We have no idea how the airplane’s cabin pressure will feel right now.

But, it was only two weeks ago that we flew the long distance from the UK to Minnesota when our symptoms were worse (we tested negative), and the journey was over 12 hours from airport to airport. I barely remember that trip except for the several movies we watched during the flight.

There are rarely entertainment screens on these shorter US domestic flights, so the 3½ hours will drag on. There’s no point in upgrading to business class for this short flight. We’ll check into upgrading when we fly back to South Africa a week from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

We would have flown back to South Africa from the UK two weeks ago in a perfect world. But, we’d already paid for all of our flights and hotels in advance and wouldn’t get refunds, only credits which we may or may not be able to use in the future with time restrictions on them. We assumed we’d feel better at some point and be able to continue with our plans to see family, but it just didn’t work out that way.

As it turned out, yesterday afternoon, we drove out to son Greg’s house and saw the three grandkids and Greg, who greeted us outside while we stayed in the car wearing masks. Miles had yet to get a negative Covid test, and we couldn’t take any chances. That’s not to say we won’t have risks flying on an airplane when the US doesn’t require Covid tests to fly on domestic flights. Ah, you can run, but you can’t hide from this pandemic. It’s everywhere.

It was wonderful to see the sweet smiling faces, all wearing braces, of the three teenagers and Greg. Camille wasn’t feeling well and was sick in bed, so we didn’t see her. It was only for a few minutes with no hugs and kisses, but we were glad we saw them.

  • It didn’t work out to see Tom’s family members. We can only look forward to the next time we visit the USA when that is up for grabs. We don’t have a clue when we will return. When we can start booking again, we’ll have a better idea.

We asked for and received a late check out from our hotel today. We’ll head out around 1:00 pm, drop off the rental car, and head to the gate to wait for the flight. Last night, Tom checked us in for the Delta flight and paid for our bags, US $140 for all of our checked bags. We had more bags this time due to the extra dressy clothes for the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, on which we never sailed due to contracting Covid-19 on the last two days on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise.

Ah, this wasn’t the ideal travel experience we usually encounter. But, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one is exempt from this virus regardless of how hard we’ve tried to stay safe over the past few years.

We’ll make the best of this last week in the US and then be on our way back to the safe haven we’ve found in the bush. The thought of being back in Marloth Park by May 24th is comforting.

Next time we write, we’ll be doing so from the comfort of our lovely hotel room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2021:

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house, and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver. For more photos, please click here.

We’re on the move…USA, here we come…

A children’s play area in the Azores during the cruise.

Whew! It’s been a tough last ten days since we first tested positive for Covid-19. It’s been quite an ordeal. After testing negative two days in a row, we’re ready to be on our way. We are still experiencing symptoms of the virus with severe coughing and my red, bloodshot eyes, but we are hopeful that we will continue to improve as each day passes.

We didn’t intend to whine so much in our posts, but we’ve always promised to “tell it like it is” rather than paint a fluffy picture with an exaggerated version of optimism. Sure, it could have been worse. But, as they say, “everything is relative” to our situation at any given time.

Certainly, this hasn’t been the worst health challenge we’ve faced in the past 9½ years. But, it plays a close second considering the uncertainty of where this dreadful virus would take us. We could barely get out of bed for a few days with worsening symptoms. But by the seventh day, we became hopeful, as the worst of it felt as if it was over.

The added symptom of my grossly irritated eyes was a setback. But today, it’s better, and I am confident this symptom will dissipate before too long. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be able to go to a pharmacy in Minnesota to get Nyquil cough medicine, cough drops, and eye drops, all of which should help us feel better.

We can’t wait to get situated in the hotel in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, close to many restaurants and markets with items we need and want. Hopefully, the two weeks we’ll spend there will allow us to fully recover before we head to Nevada two weeks from today.

Before we headed to breakfast in the hotel, we packed everything, weighed our bags, and prepped for the shuttle leaving for Gatwick Airport at 9:52 am, a half-hour from now.  Thus, today’s post is short and to the point.

We only have 11 hours of travel time to arrive in the US, which is nothing compared to other fights we experience from time to time. By the time we arrive, it will be midnight for us but only 6:30 pm Minnesota time. In our usual attempt to maintain a schedule commensurate with our location at the time, most likely, we’ll check in to the hotel, drop off our bags and head out to dinner if we’re hungry.

We’ll be back with you tomorrow! Thanks for all the supportive comments from so many readers, including Janet, who wrote with assurances about Icelandair. We’re good to go.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2021:

This female arrived in the bush in our garden, sitting a short distance away, an example of a subtle and gentle approach to the rutting season. For more photos, please click here.

Test results…Covid is insidious…On the move in 24 hours…

This was where I stood waiting for my dinner delivery. The hotel doesn’t allow drivers to enter the parking lot. I waited outside for 30 minutes in the cold when the driver was late.

I am sitting on the bed propped up with pillows. I’m showered and dressed, but I am somewhat surprised I got that far considering how I feel. Yesterday, we both tested negative, but the virus is not over for us by far.

By the way, the letter “L” on my keyboard isn’t working, and each time I type a word with an “L,” I have to bang the key as hard as possible. It has been a task these past many days since we tested positive, and our strength was severely impacted. I’ve tried using words that don’t contain an “L,” but thinking of those words is more of an effort than banging on the key. It’s having other issues as well. Once we get to the US, I will be getting a new aptop, (oops, laptop).

I purchased this HP Chromebook from Amazon India when we were in Udaipur, India in 2020, while on a private tour staying in a hotel. It arrived in one day, so I didn’t complain when everything wasn’t perfect, although it was supposedly new. I’ve been doing workarounds for the past two-plus years, and I am ready to start anew,

So, yesterday afternoon, the PCR tests were negative, although we both have many lingering symptoms, mainly weakness, a lack of energy, and a relentless cough. Yesterday afternoon, I noticed an irritation in my eyes which, as a contact lens wearer, can happen when the pollen count is high, which right now in London is at its highest.

My eyes have never been so red, swollen, and oozing. I took out my contacts, used Visine, and applied warm compresses throughout the evening, including every few hours during the night. I’ve been taking Benadryl, but I’d never experienced anything like this. At one point, I read that Covid can cause eye irritation, and it was impossible not to attribute it to that. This morning, it was a little better but still scary-looking. I look like a zombie. Hopefully, by tomorrow when we leave the UK, it will be better.

We made a plan to get out of here tomorrow. Today, we’ll take the final two PCR tests we have left to use for flying. The US requires negative tests to enter the country, regardless of where we are coming from. We chose an oddball airline, Iceland Air, to get us to Minnesota. It was the only airline that could get us there in the shortest time…11 hours and, at the best price we found of US $1470 for the two of us.

Tom did extensive research and found this flight which flies to Reykjavik, Iceland, where we’ll transfer to another flight heading to Minneapolis. Many flight options consisted of 30 to 40 hours of travel time, priced at US $4800 for two! This peculiar route saves us hours on layovers since Minnesota is so far north near Canada.

The only tricky part of this route will be when we reach Iceland, we’ll have to collect our bags and go through immigration and security to make the next flight 90 minutes later. This was a risky decision, but we preferred the risk of spending 30 to 40 hours getting to the US, considering our present condition.

If all goes as planned, we’ll arrive in Minneapolis by about 6:30 pm, get our rental car, and head to our hotel. We can’t wait until all of this is over, and we’re situated in the hotel with a kitchen where we can make breakfast and keep our ice tea cold. We won’t miss a night’s sleep, which was essential to us.

Since we’ve been in a hotel room the past ten days, with no fridge, we relied on hotel food and Deliveroo, which delivered peri-peri chicken and broccoli to me the past few nights, while Tom walked the short distance to a McDonald’s to get some things for himself. It will be great to have more options and be able to eat healthier meals.

We’ll be back with a post before we leave for the airport tomorrow and then, yeah, from our hotel in Minnesota on Monday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2021:

The previous night’s trail cam photos picked up this porcupine! We are so excited to see this! The prospect of getting this photo prompted us to purchase the trail cam. For more photos, please click here.

Pleasant drive to London Gatwick…Finger crossed, hoping to head to the US in 48 hours…

I forgot to post this photo of Tom sunning by the pool at friends Karen and Rich’s home in Apollo Beach, Florida while we wait for our cruise to Southampton.

Yesterday morning, promptly at 11:00 am, the driver, AJ Shafik from Aero Taxis, arrived at our Southampton Hotel. I was dreading the long drive based on how we were still feeling, But our driver was a delightful, conversationalist, and competent that the 90 minutes flew by in a blur.

If you are coming to Southampton, London, or anywhere in between, this is the person/company to call. He can be reached at:
Aero Taxis Southampton Ltd iPhone
Mr. AJ Shafik
Company Director
Phone: 44 02380 010203, Email:
aj.shafik@aerotaxis.co.uk

We are always delighted to share information regarding service providers we encounter throughout the world, and this was no exception.

Once we arrived at the Marriott Hotel, around 12:45 pm, we’d anticipated we’d have to wait a while to be provided access to our room. It was quite a relief when our room was ready as Tom hauled our bags up one level to our room. We only had to access a few of our bags for toiletries and clothes to get us through the next few days.

Immediately, Tom made a batch of our Crystal Lite Iced Tea and filled our mugs with ice. The cold drink was so refreshing after the long drive, and in minutes we settled down to relax. Still exhausted and coughing, there was no way either of us could see our way through making this a “fun” hotel stay, but we did our best to stay upbeat and hopeful that we’ll be able to fly to Minnesota as initially planned on May 1.

Since we’d already booked a rental car and hotel in Minnesota, it would be so much easier if we could get there as planned, avoiding the necessity of changing our reservation. The only reservation we have to change, which we’ll do today, is to cancel the flight from New York to Minneapolis since we couldn’t sail on the Queen Mary 2 as hoped before we got sick.

I just went into the Expedia.com site and canceled the flight. We will receive full credit of US $737.20 for the airfare from New York to MSP that we must use by March 2023. We’ll probably get some future credit from American Airlines for the canceled flight, but there’s no guarantee. Plus, it’s a rare occasion that we’d fly on a route used by American Airlines.

This flight was intended as our means of getting to Minneapolis after sailing on the Queen Mary 2 from Southampton, which, as you know, we had to cancel on the day of embarkation due to both of us contracting Covid-19 while on the ship. Now  11 days after our first symptoms, we’ll take the certified tests we bought on the Celebrity Cruise to determine if we’ll be able to fly out.

As for this Marriott hotel near the Gatwick Airport, it’s nowhere near as pleasant as the Marriott where we spent ten months in lockdown in India in 2020. But, it’s clean, a decent Engish breakfast is included in our room rate, and we get points on Hotels.com for the bookings for three nights. Every ten nights we book with Hotels.com on our website, we get one night free of a similar value. For us, this is a huge benefit.

We’d returned from breakfast over 90 minutes ago, and our room hadn’t been cleaned while we were in the restaurant. We asked the housekeeper to clean our room while waiting downstairs in the lobby. We waited 50 minutes only to discover when we walked back to our room. It still wasn’t done. Under normal circumstances, this would be no big deal.

But now, when we both need to lie down so badly from sheer exhaustion as lingering effects of the virus and lack of sleep from non-stop coughing all night, it’s’ taking everything I have to keep my head up. It’s hard to imagine being on an airplane for hours in a few days, walking through airports, changing planes, collecting our luggage at the layover, etc.

We’ll be very relieved when we make it to Minnesota and get situated in our room. Of course, we’ll have been tested negative on two consecutive days, so there is no chance of us infecting our family members when we see them. It’s unlikely we’d get Covid again for several months since, in most cases, the immunity, coupled with vaccination and boosters, will provide added immunity for at least a while.

Many people have stated that Omicron had been comparable to a bad cold. For them, this may have been the case. But, for us, it’s been worse than any cold we’ve had in the past. We will get through this. We always do!

It’s time to take the Covid test now. We’ll be back with the results in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2021:

Two hungry hornbills were pecking at the kitchen window, hoping for some seeds. We complied. For more photos, please click here.

Hanging in…Hanging on…

Unusual artwork that was for sale on the ship.

No, this is not easy. But whoever said being long-term nomads would be easy? Who would have known when the concept of permanent home-free world travel only came into the limelight in the past decade? No one could have anticipated a worldwide pandemic that has changed everything for people like us.

Stuck in this hotel room in Southampton, England, with the exact room configuration in the hotel in Mumbai, India, where we spent ten months in lockdown in 2020, gives us the creeps. But, what can we do? It’s the way it is, and we’ve chosen to make the best of it.

We’re busy determining what we’ll do if we get negative Covid tests by Thursday. Can we make the fight scheduled from New York to Minneapolis on May 1? Can we get a flight from London to New York to catch that flight? In our research, it appears we’ll have to fly from London to New York one day earlier, spend the night in a hotel, and fly from New York to Minneapolis on May 1 as originally planned.

However, as Tom is conducting research online as I write here, it may be best to forfeit that flight from New York and book an entirely new flight to Minneapolis from London. If that’s the case, regardless of how we test, we could leave for London on Thursday when our reservation at this hotel ends.

Once we test negative, we can book a last-minute flight and be on our way to Minneapolis, perhaps even making it there on our initially planned date of May 1. The rates at this hotel are doubling this weekend because it is a “bank holiday.” We’d be better off paying for a hotel in London close to the airport.

Of course, everything will remain up in the air until we take those two Covid tests on Thursday. We are both feeling a little better today, although we are coughing a lot. The headache and body aches are gone, but I still have a sore throat. I have the feeling I won’t test negative until the sore throat is gone. It’s 50% better than when I was first tested as positive and getting better each day.

In any case, we’d like to leave this hotel by Thursday. It makes sense to get closer to London, near the airport, than to wait here. We are 90 minutes by car from London. We’ll arrange a private shuttle.

Hopefully, we will be feeling well enough to manage the long drive and handle our bags as necessary by Thursday. We are both optimistic in this regard.

As for today, we’ll continue to research our options but based on the progress we’ve made thus far today; we’ll have a plan in place by tomorrow’s post.

Have an excellent day. We’ll be back with you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, April 25, 2021:

Two duikers at night. For more photos, please click here.

We made it!!!…A longer than expected flight from Joburg…Now rested and feeling great!…

The view of Karen and Rich’s pool and bay from our bedroom’s veranda! Amazing!

Wow! What a long day and night. Our connecting flights worked out, but the most challenging flight was from Joburg to Newark. The plane was having mechanical issues, and we sat in our seats for two hours until it finally took off. It took us over 30 hours from door to door.

The remaining 16-hour flight was painstaking. My Fitbit showed I never slept since it only registers one hour or more. Once I laid down on the two seats between Tom and me, I couldn’t fall asleep when my legs hung into the aisle, and people walked by, bumping into them. A few times, I dozed off but woke myself up when my head dropped down to my chest.

We have two comfy chairs on our veranda at their lovely oceanfront home.

Instead, I watched parts of or the entirety of eight movies, none of which were any good. Most of the movies were old, and we’d watched them at some point, and many were genres I didn’t like. Tom watched a few as well but didn’t care for any of them either. The battery on my phone was dying, and the USB plug-in on the seat didn’t work, so I couldn’t play games on my phone. It was a long 16 hours.

We both wore compression stockings and got up to walk around every few hours. They served food three times, but I ate very little when there was no option for low-carb meals. Most of the food was awful, sugary, and carb-laden. It didn’t matter to me since I knew Karen and Rich would have some fantastic foods awaiting us, and they did.

Another view of the bay.

By the time we were in the air, we were concerned about making our connecting flight in Newark with only a 2 ½ hour layover ahead of us. We had to rush through immigration, collect our bags to go through customs and security, recheck our bags and make it to the gate a few minutes before boarding. Miraculously, it all worked out well.

On the last flight from Newark to Tampa, a lovely man in his 30s sat between Tom and me, and we chatted during the entire three-hour flight, which was also late taking off. We didn’t arrive in Tampa until almost 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, picked up our bags and rental car, and made our way through rush-hour traffic to Karen’s and Rich’s beautiful home in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Their dock and beautiful new boat.

It was such a joy to see them both. It had been over two years since we stayed with them in November 2019. It was exciting to see our dear newlywed friends, their gorgeous home, and finally eat some fantastic food, including smoked salmon, deviled eggs, artichoke dip, baby tomatoes, and roasted chicken wings and legs. They’d planned a filet mignon dinner, but after eating the great starters, we were all full and will have the steaks on the braai tonight.

We decided to stay awake as late as possible, but I was done by 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs. Tom stayed up a little longer chatting with Karen and Rich and joined me an hour later. Much to our amazement, we slept like logs, only each getting up once to hit the bathroom but each going right back to sleep.

This morning we awoke alert and energized, feeling as good as ever. We have no remnants of jet lag whatsoever, but following the new time zone we’d entered yesterday afternoon, we bypassed any chance of jet lag.

Another gorgeous view. It couldn’t be more perfect than to be here with them both.

Once we upload today’s post and a few photos (more will follow in days to come), Karen and I will head to her favorite grocery store soon, and we’ll get a few things to last for a few days. When we return and put everything away, Karen and I will take a  walk in the neighborhood.

While we’re here, our posts will continue daily, and we’ll add photos of our surroundings, our friends, and anything we decide to do. A lot of sightseeing isn’t our intent while here in Florida, but we have plenty of sightseeing ahead of us over the next few nights.

Thank you, dear readers, for all the well wishes and encouragement. Well back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2021:

Tiny, who’s quite the loner, has a new friend, we called Narrow, due to his narrow face. Narrow used to hang out with The Imposter  (who imitates Tiny), but now Narrow has gravitated to Tiny. We’ll see how this works out when The Imposter returns tonight when these two are most likely cuddled up. For more photos, please click here.

Finally booked our flights and rental car for the USA in 32 days…Sailing across the sea in 48 days…

Big Daddy comes right up to the veranda to let us know he has arrived!

After spending the past 13 months in Marloth Park and the prior ten months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, we are ready to be on the move once again. Don’t get me wrong. We have enjoyed Marloth Park as much as ever, if not more than all of our prior visits to the bush. But, after feeling a little confined, we are ready to return to our lives of world travel.

I must admit we have procrastinated booking our flight and rental car, waiting to see if the upcoming transatlantic cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette would be canceled. Flights are booking up quickly, and we don’t want to lose the opportunity for the flights with the shortest duration. We can no longer wait.

Lots of girls and young ones in the garden.

It wasn’t easy finding a fair price. Car rentals are extremely high in the US, as much as seven times more than what we’ve been paying in South Africa. This time we got the best price we’ve seen in years in the US using the link on the right side of our home page with Auto Europe. We ended with a four-door Buick at US $688, ZAR 10400, a price we were thrilled to get for the 15-day rental, averaging at US $46, ZAR 695.

If you use this link on our site on the right side of the page, we receive a small commission. But you may get the benefit of a great price you may discover after shopping around online. Our goal is always to have our advertisers offer prices as good as you can get on your own and, on occasion, even better. Using our links makes us a little revenue that helps offset some of the cost of maintaining our site. Thank you to all of our readers who’ve been using our links.

Seigfried and Roy sharing pellets.

We booked the flight using our link for Expedia after shopping around for the best possible flight and pricing. Many flight apps don’t allow including the flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to be included in the package of flights. If it’s not included, we’d have to collect our bags in Johannesburg and check in a second time.

As it turned out, our flight on March 23 is a total of 27 hours, arriving in Tampa on March 24 at 1:55 pm, 1355 hrs. We’ll collect our bags and head to the Avis counter to get the car and then be on our way to newlywed friends Karen and Rich’s fabulous home in Apollo Beach, where we’ll stay until we leave for Fort Lauderdale on April 8 to board our cruise.

It will be wonderful to spend the two weeks with our friends. The four of us have great memories and so much in common. We are looking forward to being with them both.

A monitor lizard was scurrying off into the tall grass.

This morning I’ve been busy walking while stopping intermittently while we booked the flights and car. Louise loaned us some large totes to store items we would leave behind. Now we can relax for a while, having this out of the way. Soon, I’ll begin sorting and packing for the upcoming journey. After all, we will be back in Marloth Park in December, after arriving in Cape Town by cruise.

As mentioned earlier, we haven’t booked any holiday homes or hotels for the almost two months we’ll spend in the UK awaiting our next flight to Istanbul at the end of June. We won’t feel safe committing to holiday homes when the cruise could still be canceled last-minute, and we’ll have to make alternate plans as to how and where we’ll spend the time from April through June. We aren’t concerned about that now. It will all work out.

Today is a quiet day, spending lots of time with our furry friends who have been coming in droves all since early this morning. Now that I’m just about done with today’s post, almost completed today’s walking goal, and have most of tonight’s dinner for the braai ready to go, the remainder of the day will be easy and pleasant.

We hope your day is as easy and pleasant as ours.

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2021:

Tiny’s best begging pose for more pellets. We haven’t seen him since we returned from the US at the end of July. We continue to call for him. For more photos, please click here.

Lions still in Marloth Park…Flights, canceling to and from South Africa…What shall we do?

When Melissa Grobler of Dubai, currently staying in  Marloth Park with her mom, a resident, captured these lion photos, this morning we were enthralled. Melissa managed to witness this fantastic sighting of one of the female lions known to roam the streets of Marloth Park.

Finally, this morning, photos were taken of one of the lions that have been spotted in Marloth Park over the past few months and subsequently, posted on Facebook. These are the first photos we’ve seen of the lions. I contacted the photographer, Melissa Grobler, who is currently staying in the park for a few months, visiting her mom, a resident, asking if we could use her photos. She was thrilled to share.

After all the comments we’ve read about numerous sightings since the lions were originally spotted, with no supporting photos, we began to wonder if these elusive carnivore beasts were actually staying here. Often, at night, humans perceive certain animals to be roaming the bush, other than those we see regularly, At times, at night, we’ve often thought we’ve seen something when perhaps the light and the night tricked our eyes.

Melissa did this drawing to outline the shape of the lion she spotted in the bush.

In this day and age, with the advent of rampant cellphone and camera use, we longed to see an actual photo of a lion in the park. It’s not that we doubted their existence here, especially when, in this day and age, rangers and many locals have spotted them, over and over again. But, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and Melissa hit the jackpot this morning.

So, for all the naysayers, here are some good photos of the lions, keeping in mind they don’t care to be around humans and may be extremely poor subjects when hiding in the bush, and mostly making appearances at night in the dark when they are on the hunt for their next meal. Obviously, the pickings are good in Marloth Park with so many animals a part of this unusual wildlife conservancy,

You may have to squint your eyes to see the lion in this photo.

On to other matters…This morning at 6:00 am, I received an email from Expedia, that our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Tampa, Florida had been canceled by Delta Airlines. Apparently, Delta isn’t interested in flying to and from South Africa, in light of Omicron, the newest Covid-19 variant.

Although, so far, reports are showing this variant is no more lethal than other variants, a worldwide panic ensued and many countries locked their borders to South Africa as well as airlines suspending flights. In this prior post, we commented how we’ve canceled our plans to attend our dear friends, Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida on February 11th.

We were sad and disappointed to be missing this event, which after the wedding, we’d planned to stay in Florida for an upcoming cruise sailing out of Fort Lauderdale on April 8, 2022. After a month-long stay with Karen and Rich at their oceanfront home, we’d also planned to spend time driving through Florida, visiting friends that have relocated to various oceanside areas in the warm weather state.

It’s been a thrill to see these photos. We can only thank Melissa for capturing these photos.

With everyone’s justified concerns about Omicron, we won’t be seeing our friends after all. If the trans-Atlantic cruise actually sails, we’ll come to Florida two weeks earlier and self-quarantine, not seeing any of our friends during this period. From there, we’ll board the cruise. But, by the end of March, new rules may be in place about mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from South Africa, whether US citizens or not. Only time will tell.

When we decided to cancel our trip to the wedding, we left our flight, departing on January 22, 2022, in place. With Delta, we had until the end of December to move the flight to a different ending point and date without penalty. A few days ago, when I’d made a to-do list on this post, it included moving this flight. Now, this has been taken care of by Delta canceling the flight and offering us a full refund.

This morning after receiving the email, I requested a refund for the flight and we’ll book our exit out of here when we know more. Is the cruise going to sail in April? Will there be flights out of South Africa by then? What will we do about our visas expiring on January 24th? This all remains to be seen.

In the interim, we’ll be contacting all of our friends in Florida, telling them not to worry about being near us since we won’t be seeing them after all. Our biggest concern beyond that is what we’ll do about our expiring visas in January? We may have no choice but to return to Zambia for another short stay and another visa stamp. Will immigration allow us to make this trip once again? Or, will President Cyril Ramaphosa issue another visa extension for foreign nationals based on this Omicron situation?

Only time will tell. In the interim, we will stay positive and aren’t as worried as one may think. We’ll continue to enjoy our time in the bush and see how it all rolls out.

Today, we’re reveling in the lion photos and the excitement each day of wildlife visiting our garden.

Happy day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #260. We were with friends Lisa and Barry, enjoying one last night together on the ship in a private sitting in the wine room. For more photos, please click here.