Today, we are on the move!…Back to the bush…

New friends Barry and Lisa, enjoying one last night together on the ship, on this date in 2017, during a cruise to South America. See the post here.

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We’re packed and ready to leave the hotel to return the rental car at Ace, take their shuttle to the airport, check our bags and begin the long wait until our flight at 2:00 pm. The first flight to Newark is easy, less than three hours,, but the typical five-hour layover is to be expected.

During the layover, we’ll have dinner at an airport restaurant and spend time on our laptops to kill time while we wait for the 16-hour flight to Johannesburg.

This morning, Louise and I texted back and forth on Whatsapp. Apparently, things are not good in Marloth Park right now. It’s very hot and humid, the power has been out for almost a day, and there’s no water from the reservoir due to the 11½ hours of load shedding each day. But now, the power is out due to some type of fault or damage to equipment, and they can’t get the power back on.

We feel bad for Louise. All of her houses are rented with dozens and dozens of guests for a golf tournament in Komatipoort and holidaymakers. Can you imagine the complaints from the holiday renters who don’t have power…or water.  There’s no news on when both of these will be restored.

That night, Tom was having a great time, dining in the private “wine room” in the Tuscan Grill with Lisa and Barry.

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We hope things are resolved by the time we return in a few days, but as we always say, “TIA, This is Africa!” What do we expect? In any case, we’ll be fine. We’ll definitely have to throw away all of the perishables in the refrigerator but hopefully not everything in the freezer. When shopping next, we’ll only buy enough for a few days, knowing power outages are even worse during December.

With all the holidaymakers in the park, we don’t expect to see many animals in the garden when we return. But mostly, we can’t wait to see Norman and Nina’s new baby, born a few days after we left. No news yet on the gender of the baby, but we have a few names in mind, of course beginning with an “N.” Noah has wandered off in search of a mate for himself, but there are no other nyalas in Marloth Park other than their family of four. Wild animals generally do not mate with species other than their own.

Hopefully, the rangers can find another female to bring to the conservancy for Noah. We hope to hear this has been done at some point. He’s certainly entitled to having a mate, now that Norman and Nina are preoccupied with their new baby.

It was easy packing the new suitcase that had plenty of room, and we filled it to the brim. We have no way to weigh it and will wing it hoping it meets the maximum 23 kg. limit. Of course, we have no idea if our missing bags will be waiting for us when we get to Joburg or Nelspruit. Only time will tell.

Last night, we had dinner with Greg and granddaughter Madighan at Champps. We’d hoped to see the other grandkids one more time, but we managed to have some quality time with everyone while we were here.

An antipasto board was served to each couple before our other courses were served.

This morning, I spoke to our friend Connie, whose husband and our dear friend Jeff passed away at our house in the bush, when they’d come to Marloth Park to fulfill Jeff’s dream of seeing Africa. We are so grateful he was able to fulfill that dream with us during the time he, Connie, and their adult daughter Lindsey were with us.  It was good to hear her voice. Next time we come to Minnesota, we will make a point of getting together with Connie and Lindsey.

This unexpected trip to Minnesota was such a flurry of activity with the family, leaving little time to see friends. We’re hoping for better planning next time to make time to see some of our dear old friends, too.

Well, it’s time to load the one bag and our carry-on bags into the rental car and make our way to the car rental facility. We are dressed warmly but without jackets, since we don’t want to carry extra clothes through all the airports. I don’t know when we’ll write again. It could possibly not be until Sunday after we arrive on Saturday, in time to shower, change and hopefully head to Jabula for dinner. It will be nice to see our friends once again and to share the latest news with all of you.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2021:

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 witnessed this fantastic sighting of one of the female lions known to roam the streets of Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

Exciting news from the bush with short video…Trying to find our missing bags…

Louise sent us this short video of Nina’s new baby, born only a few days ago. Once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be excited to see dad Norman, son Noah, Nina, and the yet-to-be unnamed baby, whom we’ll name once we know the sex. Of course, her or his name will begin with the letter “N.”

It will be interesting to see how Norman and his son Noah react to the little one. We’ll post videos, and photos and write about the exciting new life in the bush. What a magical experience! It will certainly be fun to see the now family of four when we return in about ten days.

We’re still experiencing a bit of angst over our lost baggage. Tom wasn’t able to get the required claim form during the three hours he spent at the Johannesburg Tambo Airport on Friday. The actual claim numbers on the two tickets were illegible. The printer must have been running out of ink. No one was able to read the numbers. Now we’re trying to call Airlink but keep getting disconnected or the call doesn’t go through.

It’s frustrating, to say the least. I think we need to wait to deal with this until we return to Joburg airport next Friday, conduct another search for our bags and get the proper claim form completed and processed. We have zero confidence that the claim Tom made while he spent three hours at the airport will be attended to without the numbers being legible. What a mess! We are trying to reach Airlink where the tags were issued but they don’t answer their phone or the line is busy.

In the meanwhile, we need to apply for a new ten-year passport. Our ten-year passport expired which we replaced with a four-year passport a few years ago. Since Covid, the handling of passport renewals is tricky and cumbersome especially when we are living outside the US. It appears, our only option will be to fly or drive to the US embassy in Joburg, Pretoria, or Cape Town once we get back to South Africa to handle this.

As for today, we are picking up Tammy and grandson Vincent at their home at 1:15 pm to drive to Tom’s brother Jerome’s home where we’ll meet up with Tom’s sisters Patty and Colleen. We’ll all stay for a long visit and later head out to dinner. It will be wonderful to spend time with them, as it has been with other family members.

On another note, Tom has been unable to use his laptop or set up his new Google Pixel 6a phone since he was cut off from his Google account the day after we arrived, for no known reason. It’s been frustrating for him to be without the use of his laptop since Sunday. Hopefully, when we have our appointment tomorrow morning at the Geek Squad at Best Buy we will get this resolved.

At the moment, I am on hold with Ethiopian Air’s lost baggage department. They are trying to locate our bags. Hopefully, we will get some good news. The important thing is to get the bags back to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport so we don’t have to pay for excess baggage fees when we return. We had to book and pay for another flight from Joburg to Nelspruit which is a domestic flight and has strict weight restrictions. If the bags are returned to Nelspruit we can pick them up there when we arrive on December 10.

Ah, I got disconnected. It’s all a series of errors that is almost laughable. I’ll be glad to get out today and away from all of this confusion and disharmony. It’s always a welcomed relief and pleasure to be with our loved ones and escape from all this paperwork and forms.

I just got off the phone with the Ethiopian Air baggage claim department. Our bags are in Addis Ababa. Hopefully, they will forward them to Joburg and then on to Nelspruit. We can only wait and see what transpires.

Be well.

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

Such pretty animals. The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. Irish naturalist William Ogilby first described it in 1833. Its 13 subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck. For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to Seychelles…A few important points for our readers…Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends in the USA!…

Starting on the 26th, we’ll be cruising to these islands in Seychelles.

First, let’s start by wishing our US family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving day with fantastic food, love, and friendship. It was always a fun holiday for our family, with lots of stories to share and delicious leftovers for a few days while we began decorating for Christmas the following day and weekend.

There will be no Thanksgiving celebrations for us. Today is a travel day for us on our next visa run, hopefully allowing us another 90-day visa for South Africa. We’ll certainly report the results once we know when we try to re-enter the country on December 4, a mere ten days from now.

Our packing is just about done, with only digital equipment, power cords, converters, and adapters to be added, plus the medication I’ll still need to use as we travel. That’s a bit tricky since the nasal rinses and treatments I do every few hours will have to be postponed until we arrive in Mahe for one night in a hotel which will be about 24 hours after we leave here this afternoon.

Once boarding the first flight in Nelspruit, the travel time is 19 hours, including as many layover hours as flight times. But, we still have to drive to Nelspruit around 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, with many road delays and then wait at the airport for the 6:30 pm, 1830 hrs, flight to Joburg with an upcoming 11:30 pm, 2330 hrs, departure. This trip will consist of three long layovers.

Tom spotted a snake trying to take a drink from the splash pool. I missed the shot but got another after instead, as shown below. We’ve been so busy getting ready the past few days I’ve been too preoccupied to take photos. But surely, on our upcoming trip, we’ll be taking plenty.

See the green snake atop the post by the pool?

This morning I awoke feeling a little better and hope to continue to improve over the next several days as I continue the medications and treatments. I felt tentative about going on this cruise, not feeling up to par, but there were no other options. Once we paid the final payment for the cruise and the flights, we were committed. Plus, our visas expire on the 26th, and we had to go somewhere.

This morning, Vusi washed the little rental car, which we’ll return to the airport when we arrive. We’d rather give the money to Zef or Vusi to wash the car each time we leave instead of giving it to the carwash while Tom stands and waits for an hour or more. They do a perfect job. Once we return on December 4, another car will be ready, likely similar to what we’ve had.

The animals kick up a lot of dust and dander each day. While we’re away, Louise will arrange for the outdoor refrigerator to be repaired, and Zef and Vusi will do a deep clean of the house, which, even with their diligent daily cleaning, still gets dusty in tucked-away places. When we return, all will be fresh and clean.

An important point to share with our readers as we head to what will eventually be a remote location…we may not have WiFi for many periods during the cruise. If you do not see a post from us, please consider that as a day lost in our consecutive uploads. We won’t try to “make up” lost days while without internet access by doubling up.

Once we have a signal or, in the worst case, once we return, I will post the stories and pictures consecutively for many days to come. Please do not be alarmed if you don’t see any new posts during this period. Instead, I will document our activities offline as each day passes, taking photos.

However, we will be able to post from the hotel in Mahe tomorrow and most likely the first day/night on the boat while we’re still in port. You may check daily to see if there’s a new post. For sure, we’ll be back on December 5. We might get lucky and be able to post each day since there is WiFi on the boat, and for all we know, it may work well. We will be purchasing the best WiFi package they have available.

So, we’re signing off for the next 24 hours and hope to be back with you soon.

Be well.

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

This was the total size of the foam tree frog nest before it rained. After it rained hard for hours, it was half its original size. We aren’t sure if the rain destroyed it or if the male tree frogs will fertilize it. For more photos, please click here.

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.