We knew the risk, but it happened sooner than expected!…Terrifying visitor!..Exciting too!…

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, this is what I encountered. Tom was sitting very close to this snake eating a frog and had no idea the snake was there.

When we wrote about the challenges of living in Africa, we mentioned three areas of concern; excessive heat, venomous insects (non-venomous don’t concern us), and snakes. Since arriving in South Africa last Wednesday afternoon, we’ve experienced the heat (over 100F, 38C, a few scary insects and yesterday, wouldn’t you know, a highly venomous snake within 1 foot, 30 cm from me, and 3 feet, 3 1 meter, from Tom.

This was quite an opportunity, to catch a snake in the process of eating a frog.

I spotted it first when opening the push-out screen door to return from inside the house to the veranda. I didn’t make a sound other than to alert Tom, who was very close as well. The first thing we noticed was that he had a frog halfway down his throat. That was quite a sight to see, resulting in today’s included photos. This wasn’t our first up-close and personal experience with a venomous snake, a Mozambique Spitting Cobra, while here in 2014. Click here for that post.

Our hands weren’t as steady as we’d have liked when we spotted this so close to us.

Gingerly, we both backed away, still keeping an eye on it. Of course, adding to the excitement was the fact he was eating the frog and his mouth was preoccupied. Perhaps, that fact was our protection. With his mouth full, he couldn’t bite us. Yikes!

We knew we needed to call Juan (pronounced John), the young master snake handler whom we knew from our past 15 months in Marloth Park in 2018-2019. His family owns Daisy’s Den, the local feed and supply store. We’d attended snake-handling school with Juan in 2018. From that class and more, he became the skilled handler and we became the knees-knocking neophytes. All we could think of was contacting him as soon as possible.

After swallowing his meal, he slithered up the chair where Tom had previously been sitting, drinking his coffee.

Our snake school experience in 2018 and the subsequent story we posted at that time, here, made us suspect it was a highly venomous Boomslang based on its bright green appearance. We took a photo and sent it to Louise knowing she’d respond quickly to our request for Juan to come out as soon as possible. Now, we have his business card in our possession at all times and his number on both of our phones so we can call him directly in the future.

Here’s a photo from our snake school experience at this link on March 12, 2018:

Chris, the instructor in March 2018, from this post here, was handling the highly venomous snake, the Boomslang. Males are green and females are brown. However, it’s nearly impossible to determine the sex of most other snakes when both genders are typically identical in appearance. “The Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is an extremely dangerous, venomous snake species found in sub-Saharan Africa in the central and southern regions of the continent. The Boomslang is most abundant in Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, but the species has been reported as far north as southern Chad and Nigeria, and as far east as eastern Guinea. However, they are found here in South Africa as well.

Going forward, we’ll always keep at least one of our phones outside with us on the veranda at any given time, instead of charging in the house. Based on the fact the snake was hovering near the door to the house, it would have been impossible to get inside to get the phone without serious risk. He’d finally swallowed the frog whole and we could see it waiting to be digested in his body as a big bulge.

At one point, he crawled up the window but came back down to rest on the back of the chair.

(I am referring to the snake as a “he” when in fact, the male Boomslangs are green and the females are brown).

Louise immediately responded asking us that we take a photo which she’d forward it to Juan. In less than, two minutes, Louise informed us that Juan was on his way. It was the dreaded Boomslang, the third most venomous snake in Africa, the first being the Black Mamba, the second, the Puff adder, and the third, the Boomslang.

He preferred the chair over the window.

In a matter of minutes, Juan pulled into the driveway and headed directly to the back of the house to the veranda, where we still stood a distance keeping an eye on the snake to ensure it wouldn’t get away. Handlers never kill a snake.

Once he arrived, immediately confirming it was a Boomslang, he grabbed the snake several inches behind its head with the snake grabbers, and with his free hand, he grabbed the snake’s tail. He then placed it in a plastic container with air holes, and tightly positioned the lid to take the snake to an even more remote area than Marloth Park.

Mr. Boomslang was posing for the camera.

Juan’s service is complimentary, but like most, we insisted he accepts a generous tip for his professional efforts, so perfectly executed. In less than 10 minutes Juan was on his way with the snake firmly ensconced in the plastic bucket. Of course, we were a little startled by the presence of the snake, which reminded us to be all the more careful and observant going forward.

Juan is capturing the snake with his grabbers to later be relocated to another wildlife area.

A snake could lie in wait anywhere; on a wall, on the ceiling, on a railing or piece of furniture, under a bed, in a bed, or simply slivering across a floor. Nowhere in the house or in the garden is exempt from attracting a snake. Caution must be exercised at every turn, every moment, and upon entering a room.

Juan positioned it so we could take this photo before placing him in the plastic bucket.

Last night while on the veranda in the dark, we placed two rechargeable lanterns at different spots on the floor to ensure we could see all areas of the veranda. We are more mindful now than ever.

To contact Juan’s Reptile Rescue and Identification, call 060 665 5000 or email: debeer.juan@yahoo.com

“Our” visitor in a large plastic bucket ready to be relocated. Bye, snake.

This is Africa. This is to be expected here and when careful, it’s all a part of the adventure.  I must admit, we were excited to share this story and photos with all of you today!

Stay safe from whatever comes your way!

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2020:

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For the year-ago story, please click here.

 

 

 

It’s a wonderful life…

This is a thick-tailed bushbaby that visited us last night in the dark. It happened so quickly I had no time to set the camera for the nighttime view, but we were happy to see this special creature who usually makes an appearance at night.

If anyone owns a Chromebook you know how difficult it is to manipulate and edit photos. Oh, what I’d give to have my old Windows 8 laptop (we didn’t like Windows 10, either) with the ability to make folders on the desktop, to store and easily edit photos. To become proficient at these processes requires an entirely new learning curve. And, although I am a fairly quick study when it comes to digital equipment, my level of interest in learning this bulky process escapes me.

This male warthog is, by far, the largest warthog we have ever seen. This morning Tom named him, Tiny. He’s already become a regular.

At this point in time, I am only interested in savoring our surroundings, taking and sharing photos of our stunning discoveries, preparing our daily posts, and cooking a quick and easy meal on the gas grill (Tom does this part while I prep the food). With the wonderful help of Zef and Vusi, we don’t have to clean, make the bed, sweep, dust, clean bathrooms,  or even do laundry since they do it all.

Tiny is somewhat friendly, although a little scared since he’s only now getting to know us.

Right now, I have the washer going with one load of two I’ll do today to lessen the amount of wash they’ll be doing. Everything in our luggage, which we never unpacked in India, smells musty and must be washed. A few days ago, they did almost half of it. They fold so much better than I do, so it’s nice to hand it over.

Tiny posed for a photo.

It’s not as if we did much in those 10 months in the hotel, other than hand washing our clothing. Had we handed it over to the hotel to do, it would easily have cost us a fortune, as much as US $100, ZAR 1527, a week. Our clothing survived and we’re no worse for the wear (no pun intended).

It’s hard to resist the request for pellets from the bright-eyes kudus.

Speaking of “no worse for the wear,” when speaking with my friend Chere in Minnesota last night while Tom and I sat on the veranda, sipping an adult beverage and waiting for more wildlife, she suggested we write about how we feel about our India experience, what we learned in those 10 months and how we can use those lessons going forward. Great suggestions, Chere.

They venture right onto the veranda without hesitation but for safety reasons, we encourage them to back up. After all, these are huge wild animals.

However, at this point in time, having dwelled on the challenges of that long lockdown with our readers for months, we’re both ready to put it behind us, as we’re certain our readers prefer to do as well. The only thing we learned about ourselves (sorry, we aren’t more insightful) was that our level of determination to get back to our happy place far superseded our discomfort in that hotel room.

Wildebeest Willie is easily recognizable since he’s missing the tip of his right horn.

Now, we are pleased with ourselves for doing exactly what we wanted to do to ensure we’d get here, 59 hours of travel and all. No regrets. Not a one. For us, it just goes to prove if we want something bad enough, sheer will, determinations and careful planning can pave the way for us to achieve our goals.

Wildebeest Willie is so at home, he now naps here.

We aren’t heroes. We aren’t brave. There’s nothing special about us. We simply wanted something that was important to us and we were willing to wait for it. That’s what we learned. I suppose in a way, we knew this all along. After all, we gave up our familiar lives to fulfill a dream of a lifetime.

Is this my place at the table? What’s for dinner?

And now, here in Marloth Park, unencumbered with responsibility, other than to share our photos and stories with each of our worldwide readers on a daily basis, life is once again simple and uncomplicated. Of course, right now, we’re anxious for the 14-day self-quarantine to pass from those scary 59 hours with 9 days remaining of quarantine as of today.

Sharing among friends. There’s enough for everyone!

Once that ends, we’ll be even more excited to be here, of course, while continuing to exercise strict adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.

A very exciting post will be upcoming tomorrow when we had a terrifying visit from a predator!  Please check back then and brace yourself, as we did!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2020:

Two years ago today, we visited Kruger National Park to see this elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade. For more photos, please click here.

 

daya day assigned to a particular purpose or observanceMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

 

 

 

 

19 hour power outage due to electrical storm plus load shedding and no WiFi…The beat goes on…

Young male kudu reaching to grab some leaves off a tree.

As I began to prepare today’s post we’d been out of power for the past 19 hours starting at 4:30 pm Saturday. Last night, a storm came through and knocked out a transformer several kilometers from here. We have no WiFi after the inverter also quit working and subsequently no WiFi. The power finally came back on at  1:00 pm today.

Adorable female bushbuck.

I wrote most of today’s post off-line in an attempt to be ready to post shortly after the power returned,  Mostly, we were worried about the food in the refrigerator. This morning, Tom cooked the burgers we had planned for tonight’s dinner on the gas grill which we had for lunch instead of dinner. Louise suggested we put all the perishables in the freezer hoping they will survive until power was restored and it appears they did.

What a handsome face with young horns.

Are we upset about this? Not at all. This is the bush in Africa, not Palm Beach, and one must expect these situations to occur on a fairly consistent basis. In any case, this is a whole lot better than sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai, India. Right now, we’re situated on the veranda, enjoying various visitors, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Hornbill building their nest in a bushbaby house that they’ve taken over.

Kudus often visit in a family and/or social group, referred to as forkl

It’s cooler today after the rains, although still very humid, typical for the bush. But, we’re fine. It’s nice to see the bush is a little greener this morning after the downpour, creating more food for the wildlife. After all, it’s summer here now. January is equivalent to July in the Northern Hemisphere, so we have months to go until it cools down.

They certainly know how to grab at our hearts with their adorable faces and big eyes.

In the interim, we’re both handling the heat as well as we can, which is often as high as 108F, 42C, during daylight hours and dropping only slightly at night. After spending 10 months in air-conditioned comfort in that hotel room, it’s taken us a few days to adapt to the temperature differences. But, now, we’re good.

This male kudu was so bold he came up onto the veranda.

There is air conditioning in the two bedrooms here, none elsewhere in the house. Due to frequent power issues and the expense of running air-con, few, if any Marloth Park residents have or use full house air-con which is common in the US. Whether it’s power outages, load shedding, snakes, scary-looking insects, flies, ants, and bees, we’re prepared to handle it all.

Scratch that itch!

Certainly, being here wouldn’t be ideal for some nor may this lifestyle fulfill their objectives for holiday/vacation time. For us, it’s a way of life that is totally befitting our desires and interests. We thrive in this environment. Will we be able to do this as we age, making our way into our 80’s or more (God willing)? The answer to that will be entirely predicated by how well we care for our health, a goal we strive to achieve each and every day of our lives.

We took all of these photos at different times throughout a single day.

For now, we are grasping at every morsel Mother Nature tosses our way, whether it is Wildebeest Willie, who was here all morning and rested for hours in the bush near us, his big tail swishing every few minutes to bat off the flies, or a flower blooming among the thorns of the sickle bush trees, it all matters to us.

Now, totally off two blood pressure medications as of the past month, checking it today, as I do every so often, I was reassured by my state of relaxation and low stress, at a measly 114/60. Peace, pleasure, and purpose can bring each of us a state of being that is not only good for our health but also, our state of mind and spirit.

Kudus are determined to get what they want and will literally stare us down until we comply.

And our purpose? What is that? Are we doing this entirely for our own personal pleasure? Believe me, spending over half of each day writing and taking photos to share with all of you gives us tremendous purpose when hundreds, if not thousands, of readers worldwide, write to us explaining how the minutiae of our day-to-day lives somehow give them a moment to pause and enjoy nature, culture, people, and more, right along with us.

We never tire of spending time with kudus, from the antelope family. They don’t have antlers. Instead, they have horns which they do not shed.

Yes, selfishly, we revel in your kind comments as a wave of warmth passes over us each time we read such an expression. But we’ve found that, in some small way, we may contribute to a moment of joy for others as they “traveling along with us.” So today, we thank you for your kindness and support as we extend our love and caring for all of you.

Without all of you, we may never have lasted this long, over 8 years, on this seemingly never-ending journey which we blissfully continue here in Africa, once again. It calls to us. It calls to many of you. It’s grand to be “home.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2020:

Two years ago today, Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us as we celebrated Rita’s birthday at our place.! Fantastic! For more about the year-ago post, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

We made it to Marloth Park…Heavenly, as expected… Short post…One photo…

Miss Kudu

Only one image is shown on this post.

It’s after 7:15 pm on Wednesday night and we are out of steam. I’d hope to do a post tonight, but I just don’t have the energy necessary to put it together tonight We’ve already taken several amazing photos and tomorrow morning, coffee in hand, we’ll look forward to sharing details about our new home and new life at Lovebird’s Nest in Marloth Park, and some special wildlife photos from our garden. It’s heavenly, to say the least.

Please check back tomorrow while we get back into our usual rhythm of posting daily,

Thanks for your patience, kind words, and encouragement. We are so grateful!

Be well.

 

Day #243 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…New but vague information for India travelers!…How much are we spending to live in this hotel?…

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. See more photos from this scene below.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2018 while living in a bush home in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

Tom stays up much later than I. Usually, by 11:00 pm, I settle into my comfy spot on my left side and am making ZZZZs while Tom is fast and furiously clicking away on his laptop, reading news, Facebook, and Ancestry.com. Often, in the morning, I’ll have an email message about a topic he knows I’d like to read the next day.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-gray shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white-collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward-curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

This morning, from Tom, I opened this article from this site, figuring it would be of interest to me, to us. Upon seeing the topic in the headline, I see why he sent it.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The article states:

“India is predicting a return to pre-COVID passenger levels by the end of the year or early 2021. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted the impressive recovery of the domestic market and said he expects huge growth in the Indian aviation industry. India recently hit a post-COVID passenger record during Diwali.

Full recovery

At a press conference covered by Business Insider, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he expects air travel to make a full recovery by 31st December or early January 2021. This would mean reaching pre-pandemic levels across the board, a significant feat just months after flights resumed.

He added that domestic flights have now reached 70% capacity and there are talks about increasing the cap to 80% sometime soon. India currently has both capacity and fare caps for domestic flights. Passenger numbers have grown exponentially since May, rising from 30,000 daily travelers to over 225,000 during Diwali last week.

While domestic flights might be recovering, international flights remain considerably lower than pre-COVID levels. This is primarily due to border closures globally and India’s ban on scheduled international flights, limiting the total number of flights. Until a vaccine finds widespread use, India’s recovery will remain restricted to the domestic market.

Currently, only Air India operates flights to the US from India. However, more Indian airlines could be joining the route in the coming years.

For now, India can expect a significant domestic recovery in the coming months. International flights could take a while before recovering. However, news of a successful vaccine has many hopeful of a larger aviation recovery next year.”

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

There is nothing in this article that gives us any new hope or newly formed expectations as to when international flights will resume in India, other than those we mentioned in yesterday’s post here. Yes, there are flights to the US from India, which have been available for many months, but after 1,000,000 new cases of COVID-19 in less than a week, we see no benefit in heading to the US now or anytime soon.

If we have to be stuck inside, I’d rather stay put here for roughly 40% lower cost than staying in a holiday home or hotel in the US, where they are much more expensive than most other countries. If we were able to find an affordable holiday home, then we’d have to add a car, groceries, and US health insurance, upwards of several thousand dollars per month more than what we’re paying now.

Mom and young giraffe.

At this point, we’re spending approximately US $130, INR 9641 per night with meals, staying in a nice hotel close to the airport. Although we have encountered some annoying minor issues, overall, it’s been a very good experience and definitely, as safe as possible.

With more and more lockdowns resuming in the US based on these latest numbers, it makes no sense for us to trade this situation for another. None, whatsoever.

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

And so, we remain, tentatively hopeful while currently in an even emotional holding pattern, knowing full-well, someday we’ll get out of here.

Have a good weekend, wherever you may be.

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

We stayed with dear friends, Karen and Rich when we visited Minnesota last year. The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata Minnesota. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a safe, healthy, and fulfilling day!

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #224 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Hesitating to mention, a frustrating situation…

I love this look on Tom’s face as he’s learning how to handle the python. Like an infant, the python’s head must be held up to avoid injuring it.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while living in Diani Beach, Kenya during Tom’s first of two, snake-handling experiences. See the link here.

The purpose of today’s post is not to complain (well, maybe a little) as much as it is intended to alert those who may have dietary restrictions of varying types and can never be too careful. We haven’t been able to get it right after 224 days.

This African Chameleon, variety unknown, is winking her/his left eye for the photo! Neither of us hesitated to handle this non-poisonous creature. Check out the funny little mouth!

During these 224 days and nights, we’ve been ordering breakfast and dinner for that many days. They still don’t have it right! I’d also like to preface this post with this: the staff at this hotel are very kind, with the best intentions. Regardless of how frustrated we may become and how graciously or less graciously we express ourselves to them, there is a language barrier that will supersede today’s frustrated comments.

Although, I have been very clear and specific with the restaurant manager, chefs, and cook, as to what I can eat to maintain my health which is as follows:

  1. No sugar, starches, or grains
  2. No vegetable oils, no olive oil, only butter
  3. No fruit or fruit juices
  4. No rice, no beans, no lentils, no flour, no fillers, no potatoes, no bread

To further simplify this, I remind them of this:

“I can eat any animal products, fish or chicken, butter, cheese, eggs, salt, and mustard”

We were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. 

Lately, I stopped eating vegetables when I was trying to figure out why my stomach hurt all the time, which continued after I left out the vegetables a few weeks ago. Also, at times, some restaurants, from what we’ve discovered in our travels, cook their vegetables in the same pot of boiling water as the pasta they cook throughout the day. I’m just not going to risk eating vegetables and will avoid them for the remainder of our time here. I am extremely gluten intolerant.

My restrictions are posted in the kitchen for all cooks and staff to clearly see. I’ve been eating this way for 11 years and no doubt, I’ve struggled with this even on cruise ships where I felt ok eating vegetables when their cooks have a better understanding of gluten intolerance and didn’t cook vegetables in the pasta water.

Chameleon on my leg. Its legs were sticky grasping at the fabric of my pants.

But, here in Mumbai, where 90% of what the Indian people consume contains starches, grains, and sugars (including fruit and juices). Delicious? Yes! Suitable for me? No!

Over the past week when I quit the vegetables, I began eating a “plain” (as requested) ground chicken patty, topped with a butter-fried egg, Emmental cheese, and bacon, It was delicious. I was thrilled with my new option to have “mixed it up” a bit from my usual grilled boneless, skinless chicken parts (I don’t like chicken breasts since they are often too dry unless cooked on the bone with the skin which I can’t get here).

This is a grass snake, non-poisonous, slithering on Tom’s arm. 

In a post on October 27, 2020 (found here), I mentioned I’d experienced an 80% improvement in the pain in my legs while walking, which I’ve had since open-heart surgery in 2019 in South Africa. Somehow, I couldn’t get past that 80% improvement when I’d greatly reduced my carb load after I stopped eating those red sauces in Indian chicken curry and Makhani dishes in September.

Tomatoes and tomato sauces can have many carbs from the natural and added sugars in the sauce. I’d been a fool to eat those but did so in sheer desperation. I’d hoped by dropping these red sauces in early September, it would help reduce the inflammation in my legs, after the two separate leg surgeries I had six weeks after cardiac bypass surgery when both of my legs became seriously infected. Good grief. What a mess I am!

This semi-poisonous snake paralyzes its prey. If they bite a human, the area of the bite will feel numb for a few hours but poses no systemic risk.  We were told to keep the head away from us while handling it. This is me holding it, as Tom took the photo. In 2018, in South Africa, we both went to snake handling school with Tom doing more handling than me.

So, by eliminating the red sauces, I started experiencing improvement in the pain in my legs up to about 80% until I started eating the chicken burger (no bun) dinner. I knew I had no problem with any of the items on the plate. I’d spoken directly to the head chef asking him the ingredients in the chicken patty, He said, “Chicken, onions, garlic, and salt.”

“Great,” I said, “I can eat those and continued to do so for the past week. Then, my legs were getting worse by the day. The past several mornings I could only walk at a snail’s pace. What was wrong? Frustrated and of course, worried, I decided to check my blood sugar using my glucometer, which I’d been told to use when I started this way of eating to determine if a particular food was causing inflammation. High blood sugar an hour or two after eating? This means that particular food I’d eaten was too high in carbs for me.

Tom wound it around his hands, keeping the mouth at a distance.

Last night after dinner my blood sugar was 40% higher than after eating a usually very low carb meal. I hadn’t checked it in several months, but this made me rethink what I’d eaten. It wasn’t the bacon, the cheese, or the egg. I’ve never had a problem with these. Also, I hadn’t had any “pasta water” vegetables.

Immediately, I called the head chef whom I’d spoken to previously, asking once again, the ingredients in the burger. He explained it had bread crumbs to hold the chicken together. I knew I tasted something in those supposed plain chicken burgers, similar to the smell and taste of a loaf of store-bought whole wheat bread. I should have known better. Had I not told them over and over again, no bread, no flour, no starch, no grains?

For a small snake, this snake has a large head.

I do not have celiac disease, but I have a huge gluten response known as gluten intolerance. In essence, an almost lifelong history of eating a very low-fat diet of products containing starch, flour, sugars, and grains contributed to my having cardiovascular disease. By the time I stopped eating gluten in 2011, the damage was done to my arteries combined with a strong genetic predisposition to heart disease, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes.

The cardiologist in South Africa explained I’d had these bad arteries for 30 or 40 years. There was nothing I could do to reverse it, but perhaps the continuation of a low-inflammation, low carb/keto diet, and lots of exercise, along with a healthy lifestyle could prevent it from getting much worse giving me a few more years of life.

At last! He’s got python handling figured out! He couldn’t have looked more pleased! 

No wonder I’ve been suffering while walking since I started eating those ground chicken patties a week ago. May I say, I was enraged? I composed myself during the phone call. Today, I sent a message to management to ensure they post my restrictions, once again, in the kitchen for all to see. After all, we’ve been here for 224 days.

Now, with the likelihood of gluten remaining in the body for weeks, if not months, I have to start all over again, hoping to get my legs to work better while walking. I will still push myself to walk 10,000 steps (5 miles, 8 km) a day. I will no longer take the risk of eating that otherwise delicious chicken patty that most likely contained an entire slice of whole wheat bread.

Close up of the python Tom handled.

In closing this post, I’d like to stress that no matter how much we request special dietary considerations in dining establishments throughout the world, one can never be assured the food they are serving is safe for us. In any case, it’s best to order food prepared as plainly as possible in restaurants and save the interesting dishes for our own safe home cooking.

Food for thought (no pun intended). Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2019:

This photo illustrates how the gangway was jammed into the ship. For details, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #210 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Nothing has changed…

This is what I heard flying around in the empty second story of the house in Diani Beach, Kenya, which proved to be an owl, 

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 after returning from safari to Diani Beach, Kenya. For more from this date, please click here.

Nothing has changed. We’re still in this hotel room, attempting to make the best of it each and every day. This morning, Tom’s omelet was overcooked and his bacon was undercooked. He called the restaurant and asked for “crispy bacon,” a seemingly difficult food item for Indian cooks to get right who really don’t eat bacon. We try to be patient. They sent up a new batch.

The moon is a crescent on the bottom portion when this close to the equator. Who would have ever thought of this? No, we didn’t watch the toilet flush in the opposite direction as it does in the US. 

Each day, each evening the same items we’ve ordered, are different than the day before. Tom finally gave up ordering dinner. Instead, he eats a big breakfast.  I haven’t been having much in the way of breakfast after becoming tired of the same things, day after day. I focus on my dinner of grilled chicken parts, broccoli, and sauteed mushrooms, changing up the vegetables periodically for variety.

From time to time, I’ll order the grilled salmon, but the portion is so small I end up hungry after the meal, often ordering two hard-boiled eggs to round it out. We never realized how eating for pleasure was so important until this situation. We both long for variety to no avail. 

Diners at Madafoo, in Diani Beach, as well as most other resort properties are welcomed to sit outside, near the beach, and in some cases by their pool. 

This morning, I felt out-of-steam walking my first mile. Maybe today, I need to take a day off, the first time since I began in March. I slept well last night, but wonder if the repetitive nature of this same old, same old, walking path in the corridors, hour after hour, may finally be getting to me. I’ll continue on tomorrow, but need a change of pace today.

Often, I’m tempted to say this is comparable to being in prison, but I don’t, realizing prison would be much worse. The bed here is divinely comfortable and we have a private bath. We have a flat-screen TV and can stream shows, although they stop every seven or eight minutes for a few minutes, to the spinning red wheel, when the signal is poor.

While we sat near the ocean at Madafoo’s a few vendors approached us, relentlessly trying to encourage us to make a purchase. Watching the windsurfers was fun but seemed more befitting the younger crowd. We only observed one person possibly over 40 partaking in this activity.

Two days ago, I forgot to mention that when I left to get cash from an ATM for the package, it was the first time I’d been outside the hotel in seven months, except for a few occasions I stepped out the main door to collect an item from Amazon India when we’ve ordered basic toiletries and pharmacy items. Since that time, I’ve asked the hotel staff to please collect our packages and bring them up to our room. 

The sunbathers left as the sun began to set and we moved to the restaurant for dinner,

I would never have imagined not going to a market, a pharmacy, or any store for over seven months. How peculiar that is. During our last foray in the US, I stopped at a Walgreens at least once a week for an item or two. Now, not at all. Amazon India has many items but different quality, prices, and actual products. Also, each item is shipped individually, resulting in lots of monkeying around including:

  1. Sending me a text with an OPT (one-time password)
  2. The driver waits for me to respond and if I don’t respond immediately they cancel the shipment
  3. If I do respond immediately, I have to enter the OPT.
  4. Then, the package is left with the guard at the distant gate who calls the front desk staff to collect it
  5. Then, the front desk calls our room phone to inform us the package has arrived, asking if we want to get it or have it delivered to our room. We always request, “Deliver to our room, please.
  6. Within 30 minutes the item arrives at the room after the doorbell is rung. I get up to answer the door and take the package.
    This adorable guy, a part-time resort resident belonging to one of the windsurfing trainers, hung around with us during our dinner looking for morsels.  Once we gave him several bites and he saw our plates were clean, he moved over to the table of other diners with full plates.

Yesterday, my single bottle of TUMS antacids didn’t arrive, falling short at item #3 above. I didn’t see the text until it was too late. The item was canceled and now I have to reorder. Shucks! The nature of the beast. 

Ah, I don’t mean to sound down or morose. But, regardless of how busy we stay, how much we get done, how many shows we stream, and how many podcasts we listen to, this is not easy. Yes, it’s better than prison and for this we are grateful.

The moon at Madafoo’s second night we visited upon returning from the safari, then on October 15th, was almost full.

Ultimately, we are grateful to avoid becoming infected with the virus which is rampant here in India, especially in Mumbai. In no time at all, India will surpass the US in the number of cases, and probably already has, with the poverty here and the thousands, if not millions, of unreported cases and deaths.

We remain safe in this cocoon and for that, dear friends, we are grateful. Nothing has changed.

Thank you for being at our side, continually offering so much love and support which means the world to us. 

Stay healthy and hopeful.

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2019:

Ken and Linda set up our camera timers for this photo of the four of us in front of Raglan Castle in Wales. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

Day #209 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Package delivery from hell…

Moments before it rained in the Maasai Mara, Tom captured the clouds rolling in at precisely the right moment. Wow, Tom!

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

It all began in July when we’d ordered necessary supplies from the US to be sent from our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada to our hotel in Mumbai, India. Included in that box is our new second passports, which we’d applied for while in the US last November.

 Arriving at the landing strip, this tiny plane was the only one in sight.  Then I knew this was Edwin’s plane and we’d be flying in it once again.

Note: On Monday, for those of our readers finally receiving the daily posts, we are in the process of changing the look of these emails to be more consistent with the look of our site and reducing the number of posts in each email from five to one, as we had in the past when using Blogger as opposed to WordPress which we’re using now. It is only through your kind comments and support that we are able to make our site as user friendly and appealing as possible. Thank you for this, and of course, for continuing to share in our daily updates.

OK. Here goes. Another package from hell story and folks, as I’ve promised Tom, our last. We will no longer be ordering favorite items we need from the US, not now and not in our future travels, providing someday we can get out of here. The most recent and LAST package was sent from our mailing service on July 28, sent FedEx Express. 

Edwin prepared for takeoff while I was sitting behind the empty co-pilot’s seat. For the first leg of the flight, it was just Tom and me on the plane with Edwin. Tom sat behind me so he too could look out the window.

Since we had a number of items in the box of varying values, I insured the package for INR 73,443, US $1000, probably more than the value of its contents but I rounded it off. If it was lost, at least we could recover the INR 29377, US $400, shipping fees plus the contents. That was my second mistake, the first being sending the package in itself. I shouldn’t have insured it at all, which I will explain going forward.

FedEx in India is not like the dependable, efficient FedEx in the US and perhaps some other countries. Here, you can call for help and be on hold for hours, never to reach a human being. I am sure part of this was due to COVID-19 but from what we’ve discovered as businesses have now opened up here, the process for receiving a package is horrendous.

Approaching the landing strip to pick up seven more passengers, most complaining they hadn’t seen the Big Five. We kept our mouths shut when we’d seen the Big 5 in the first 10 hours on safari.

It was only about three weeks ago, after sending dozens of email messages, that we were informed we needed to submit a number of documents, including passport bio and back pages, a letter from the hotel, and our visa documents. Why all this to receive a package? It’s obvious, they certainly went through the box to view the contents. Why all this?

Then, while still in Delhi after 2½ months, it finally went through customs to determine a customs duty. Regardless of the contents, they assessed the contents for the insured US $1000, with a duty tax of INR 71364, US $974, including some arbitrary COVID-19 processing fee. In other words, we had to pay this horrific amount in order to receive the box based on my declaration of the insured contents. My faux pas, entirely.

         Control panel of the single-engine plane.

Then, on top of that, there was virtually nowhere online that we could pay this amount in advance. The only way to pay was to do a bank transfer. While sitting in the lobby yesterday, with the help of the wonderful hotel manager, Umesh, I was on the phone with our bank in the US trying to do the transfer but, FedEx India’s SWIFT number wouldn’t work through a US bank account. 

Oh, good grief, I was sitting down there for over an hour with no air con in the open lobby, temperature around 90F, 32C, wearing a mask and gloves and sweating up a storm while the FedEx guy had the package in his truck and wouldn’t deliver it until we paid.

 A breathtaking view from the plane.

Our amazing hotel manager offered to pay out of his bank account for which I could pay him, but that didn’t work either due to the SWIFT account issue. Frustrated, we both racked our brains. Basically, we needed INR 71364, US $974, in cash. Who carries that many rupees in their possession? Not us. That’s a lot of bills.

Finally, after multiple sweaty attempts to figure this out, I told Umesh we had no choice but to go to ATMs to get the cash. When we first arrived in India and tried to get cash, we had to go to several ATMs when, in India, they only dispense INR 10000 maximum per transaction. We have two debit cards and this would mean four different ATMs.

 As we flew over Diani Beach the smoke from fires burning, clouded the view. In Kenya, there’s no ban on burning often resulting in noxious fumes filling the air.

Plus, when we got here many moons ago, we tried five or six ATMs on a weekend and all of them were out of cash. I imagined yesterday, Saturday, we’d run into the same problem. Umesh and I took off in the hotel’s van heading to the closest bank ATM expecting more luck at an indoor bank facility and they were out of cash!!!

We drove to another bank ATM, five minutes away in dense, noisy, traffic. The walk up to the second bank’s ATM room was treacherous with uneven clumps of cement in an undefined walkway. I hung onto Umesh for dear life.

The miracle of all miracles, the two machines in that tiny room, allowed me to make eight transactions, each at a cost of INR 200, US $2.72. I used both mine and Tom’s debit cards four times each. With the Africa bag in my possession, including a plastic bag to hold the huge number of bills, a sense of relief washed over me as we made our way back to the hotel.

A final view of the King of Jungle. We were never disappointed, continually offering an opportunity for a close-up and the opportunity to observe his/her playful antics and instinctual behaviors. Thank you, lions.

Umesh called the FedEx guy to return to the hotel with the package at which point, I met him in the lobby while he counted out the money, gave me a receipt, and placed the 8.62 kg, 19-pound box onto the hotel luggage trolley. One of the staff members brought the package up to our room.

We’ve yet to open the box, after waiting 48 hours to handle it. If there is COVID-19 on the outside of the box or on the interior contents from inspection, a sufficient amount of time would have passed.

Enough about that! We won’t be writing any more posts about delayed packages in the future. We’re done ordering stuff from the US. 

Well, anyway, we’re emotionally recovered from that debacle and can now go back to the debacle on hand!

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 18, 2019:

In this case in Chepstow Castle ruins, the presence of vines created such a pleasing effect that it remained in place over the centuries.For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #206 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Auto email issues resolved!…Romantic Lion Couple…Rated “R”…

It was a perfect morning. The Romantic Lion Couple in the Maasai Mara in 2013, appeared casual and at ease under the shade of this tree. But, the air was filled with passionate tension.

Note: Many of our readers were not receiving the automatic daily email posts and have notified me accordingly. Our web developers have been working on this issue and a few minutes ago, I received an email that the issue has been resolved. Thank you for your patience. If you’d like to receive an auto-email daily with the newest post, please click the link at the top right of our homepage at SIGN UP TO NEWSLETTER where you can enter your email below that. You will receive a confirmation email to reply to. You can unsubscribe easily at any time.

The female lion occasionally opened an eye, checking out his next move.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

We’ll always remember the day while on safari in the Maasai Mara, of the mating lion couple we aptly named the Romantic Lion Couple. When our guide, Anderson, spotted this female and male lion lounging under a tree at a distance through his high-powered binoculars, he knew exactly what was going on and drove like a “bat out of hell” to get there in time for us to watch the rarely seen event.

“She likes me. She really likes me!” He looked at us as if seeking approval to move along.

We all waited patiently for an hour in order to get today’s repeated photos. It was amazing to see the cycle of life with these two majestic animals getting along so well, when often they are at odds with each other, often over food. Generally, in the wild, female lions hunt and nearby male lions steal their food.

Was this a precursor to women notoriously being the cooks and men eating the food we shopped for and cooked? Of course, in today’s world that has changed dramatically, for the better with men often cooking, and from what we understand becomes more and more prevalent in these times of more equality.

 Although he appeared relaxed, he was well aware of the task at hand, politely awaiting the perfect opportunity.

Right, now on day #206 in lockdown, while longing to do our own cooking, I’d be thrilled to cook a meal while Tom sat by and watched. He can steal my food anytime! But, for us, when preparing meals, he helps with the prep and does all the dishes. I love this arrangement and can’t wait for it to begin once again.

In the interim, I’m still working on the revisions on our almost 3000 past posts, one by one. Most days, I can complete one page of 20 posts out of a total of 150 pages. I am only on page 34 with 116 more pages left to do.

“I think it’s time to get this show on the road!”

Now that all five of the long 2000 word posts are done, I can focus on the corrections to ensure I can complete one page of 20 per day. At this rate, it will take approximately four more months for me to complete the task. A part of it has been enjoyable, rereading every post we’ve done while I search for errors to correct.

 Actively engaged in mating before our eyes.

By no means, is this an assurance that I didn’t miss some of the errors. But, it’s certainly a lot better than it was in the old Blogger format I was using as opposed to WordPress which allows for proper line spacing and font construction. Also, I am correcting all the double-spacing after a period for each sentence.

Afterward, he moved back to the tree in his usual spot, perhaps contemplating his next move.

During these past eight years, the use of double-spacing after a period has long been defined as unnecessary. Originally, this double spacing was established as important when typing on a typewriter. Old-timer that I am, I learned that old habit and didn’t start changing it until recently. I have no doubt, I am missing some of the corrections in this regard when editing each of the 3000 posts.

It takes about eight minutes of editing time per post resulting in almost three hours each day, beyond the time it takes to do the daily post plus stopping every ½ hour to walk in the corridors. These tasks keep me busy most of the day. What else do I have to do while in this hotel room? When I am done, I’ll be relieved and grateful I took the time for this daunting task.

Their tree on the left, we drove away, with those same smiles on our faces knowing that for some magical reason, we had a safari that couldn’t have been more perfect, more fulfilling, more life-changing than the 21 1/2 hours we spent with Anderson in that sturdy Land Cruiser, bouncing too high heaven, feeling lucky, so lucky!

May you have a pleasant day!

                                                                    _________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2019:

The view of the Wye River in Wales, we encountered on a drive in the area For more photos, please click here.