Thanks for all the positive comments about yesterday’s posts…Not much going on right now, but our readers remain…

On January 19, 2021, we had a highly venomous boomslang snake with a frog in its mouth; visit us on the veranda, very close to us. It was good for us since he was preoccupied with the frog in his mouth. See the story and how we handled it in this post here.

We were flooded with many messages and comments about yesterday’s post, a topic we’ve covered in past posts. One reader wrote that we may have haters, but we don’t. We have some highly opinionated readers, but none that are hateful and toxic, aimed at us or our site. We appreciate that more than we can say.

Our biggest concern regarding our readers is that they become bored with our posts when we don’t have much going on, such as right now. Much to our delight, we don’t lose readers during our quiet times. It will be pretty quiet for us during the next few months. We won’t be traveling outside the US until June.

However, we will be making the first of the road trips beginning on April 1,  as follows:

  1. 4/1/2024 – Las Vegas, Nevada to Apache Junction, Arizona – 5 hr 19 min (336.3 mi) via US-93 S
  2. 5/15//2024 – Apache Junction, Arizona to Los Angeles, California – 6 hr 42 min (407.9 mi) via I-10 W
  3. 5/18/2024 – Los Angeles, California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin –  30 hr (2,057.1 mi) via I-80 E
  4. 5/20/2023 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Minneapolis, Minnesota – 4 hr 52 min (337.1 mi) via I-94 W

As you can see, three of the above road trips won’t require an overnight stay in a hotel, based on the short duration.

From there, on June 14, 2024, the average flight time from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Nelspruit, to South Africa – is 30 hours and 10 minutes. The exact time will be determined by the length of layovers along the way. The flight covers a distance of 14,514.61 miles.

While traveling across the US on these road trips, we’ll stop to take photos and make every moment of our road trips enjoyable for both of us. We’re definitely looking forward to these four trips. Perhaps this will be a foray into what we may do in the future when health may limit our traveling the world as much as we’ve done in the past. We’ve often discussed traveling in the US at some point.

As our readers know. We came to the US for several months to get me signed up for Medicare Part B and a supplement. We needed to be here for Tom’s pulmonology appointment in Chicago on January 10. In the months to come, I’ll go to the Mayo Clinic to have more tests on my heart to determine if further treatment is crucial in the next year.

Of course, spending time with family is also a huge motivator in spending time in the US. During this trip, we’ll see more family than we have in the past in any single stay. We’ll have accomplished a lot by leaving in June and feel at ease returning to South Africa.

Today is cleaning day. This morning, I did laundry and my share of the cleaning, and now Tom is vacuuming and will wash the floors. We’ll dine in tonight, and tomorrow, on Saturday, we’ll head down the one flight of stairs to the Village to go out to dinner.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 19, 2014:

Tom volunteered to feed the vultures raw meat at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit, South Africa. He wore a leather sleeve on his right arm from fingertips to shoulder. As soon as our guide put the raw meat into his hand, several vultures flew at him to grab it, leaving two to fight over it. It’s exciting! For more photos, please click here.

Day 2…The Galapagos Islands…Celebrity Xploration…The staff, the ship, the food, the guests…amazing, along with the wildlife…The hard reality we’ve had to face…

The skeleton of a washed ashore whale.

Note: With this many photos today, the paragraph spacing is off and unable to be corrected. But, we thought the photos were more important than line and paragraph spacing.

The Galapagos Islands are, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating places we’ve visited in the world. The magic and mystery of these islands leave one breathless with awe and wonder. Speaking of breathlessness, it is wonderful to be back at sea level and able to move about while struggling for air. In a matter of minutes after we landed in Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, all the altitude sickness symptoms were gone, and we were so relieved.

A sea lion hovering atop rocks.

In less than a week, we’ll be returning to Quito for the last few days until we fly to Manta and drive to our new home in Ecuador for the next few months. We’ll have to face the altitude issues again, but perhaps it won’t be so bad after our recent exposure. We’ll think about that later.

Sea lions at the rocky shore.

The ship is a catamaran built in 2017, with spacious cabins, dining room, bar, and lounge areas that make socializing easy. The dining room has two large tables for eight, which is perfect for our group of 16. The food is spectacular. The “hotel manager,” Augustin, and the chef met with me yesterday to review my food list. After a short conversation, they understood my requirements and seamlessly followed through.

An iguana was basking in the sun on a rock. The Galápagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) is a very large species of lizard in the family Iguanidae. It is one of three species of the genus Conolophus. It is endemic to the Galápagos Islands in the dry lowlands of the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Baltra, and South Plaza.
A sea lion and pup.

Due to this cruise’s small group of passengers, we’ll eat three times a day, like everyone else. We felt it was rude not to dine with everyone during the three meals and will eat a small amount at lunch to hold us for dinner, which is served at 7:00 pm.

The pup was suckling from its mother.
Beautiful scenery. The shape of this island reminded us of a crocodile.

Last night, at dinner, we had a great time and later made our way up the steep steps (almost a ladder) to the bar area. Tom hung onto me to ensure I didn’t fall, and we did fine. It’s good that we don’t drink a lot, or those steps would be hazardous. Luckily, our cabin is located on the main level, where the dining room and lounge are located, one deck below the bar. We have what is referred to as a junior suite, smaller than a hotel room but comfortable with everything we need.

More seal lions at the shore.
Another sea lion and pup.

Oddly, we aren’t allowed to put used loo paper into the loo. This is a first for us. There is a trash can near the loo. It took a few times to get used to that, but now we are OK with complying. The pristine nature of these islands, owned, loved, and protected by the Ecuadorian country, is observed with strict rules and regulations.

This bird is contemplating eating this pelican’s catch.
The pelican with its catch.
The bird and pelican contemplate who gets the fish.

We fully appreciate their commitment to protecting the environment and its outstanding wildlife population and vegetation, unlike anywhere else besides Antarctica, which we visited in 2018 to discover the same attention to detail in protecting the wildlife and environment.

The pelican with his catch of the day. Then, the little bird grabbed the fish, and the pelican swam away.

Now for the hard-to-write news, I’ve been putting off for over a week… A week ago Friday, in our hotel room in Eden Prairie, my legs gave out, and I fell, tripping over my own feet and landing on my face, a typical “face plant.” My nose bled profusely for an hour, and I had rug burns on my nose, under my eye, and my cheek. Immediately, Tom made ice packs for me, which prevented me from getting two black eyes. Fortunately, we had no plans the next day, and I could continue to ice it.

Sea lions like to sleep next to one another or against a structure.
Zoom in to see the expression on this sea lion’s face.

When we finally went out, I was able to cover up the injuries with makeup, so it wasn’t obvious. Gosh, someone could have thought Tom and I got into a fistfight. We are the least likely couple to do so, neither of us ever behaving violently, let alone fighting.

The Sally Lightfoot Crab is an unmistakably vibrant Galapagos character. Their striking colors make them extremely photogenic against the black lava rocks they call home and popular with visitors. Sally Lightfoot crabs boast a wonderful ability to walk on water – with just a quick hop, skip and jump to escape from danger. They are also one of the most frequently spotted creatures on Galapagos shores. Crabs may not sound especially exciting, but check out the photos below in this blog, and we think you’ll change your mind!
A cute little sea lion resting on the beach.

I didn’t want to write about this since I realize I’m often whinging about my medical issues here and didn’t want to “complain” further. But now, the harsh reality is before us on this ship, impacting both of us immensely.

It is forbidden to take a single shell from the beach.

The two surgeries on each of my legs left me with nerve damage in both legs. Over time and with aging, this has only worsened to the point where I am having tremendous difficulty walking long distances, on uneven terrain, and on occasion, even on the carpet in a hotel room.

Sea lions at the shore.

We had booked this cruise before this situation worsened to the degree it is now. I have trouble walking, maneuvering around furniture, and any obstacles that may be in my way. Subsequently, after considerable discussions, there is no way I can go out on the excursions on the Zodiac boats to the various islands with the terrain consisting of volcanic rock, small rocks, pebbles, and up and downhill climbs. It’s just not possible.

Sea lions can sleep up to 12 hours at a time. They can also stay underwater for days at a time before coming up for air. They are thigmotactic, meaning they love to lie all over each other — their natural state on K-Dock. And they love to nuzzle each other.
A sea lion family was hanging out on the beach.

As a result, Tom will go out on all the excursions and take photos of the wildlife, vegetation, and scenery. When he returns, he shares the photos and details for me to share with all of you here. Am I miserable about this? No, it’s been coming gradually over the past few years, and as always, I’ve adapted as we always do.

It is thought that the magnificent frigatebirds found in the Galapagos are an endemic subspecies in the islands. Characteristics of the Galapagos Frigate …

Sure, I can maneuver about the ship, but it is tentatively so, especially when the ship is moving in rough waters. Sure, I’ll be able to grocery shop, cook, and be active about the house when we move along in nine days. Yes, I can do short walks wherever we may be to get some exercise, but only on flat surfaces. This is my reality. I can live with it. Nor does it impede our desire to continue on. We’ll have to make some adjustments—enough about that.

Sunset in The Galapagos last night.

Starting tomorrow, we will begin posting information about The Galapagos Islands and stop focusing on my issues. Thank you for your ongoing understanding, warm wishes, and patience as we begin a new way of traveling considering these disabilities.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 15, 2013:

A mating couple of lions in the Maasai Mara. We were thrilled to see nature at its finest. For more, please click here.

Part 1…Boating day, Lake Harris and Dora Canal…The differences between an alligator and a crocodile…

After years of spotting crocodiles, seeing alligators in the Dora Canal was exciting.

Boating with Burt and Linda and Linda’s friend Claudette and Burt’s neighbor Jay was exhilarating. No more than 10 minutes into the boat ride on Burt’s newer pontoon boat, we spotted numerous alligators, which were very exciting. It was easy to see the difference between alligators in Florida and crocodiles in Africa.

But, for those unfamiliar with both of these scary-looking and dangerous creatures, we thought it was important to share the differences.

A young alligator was resting on a log.

The differences are listed below between an alligator and a crocodile from this site:

“Although they may look similar at first glance, the most significant differences between alligators and crocodiles are their overall size, snouts, jaws, coloring, feet, and teeth. Take a quick look at how you can differentiate between the two reptiles. The comparison between the American alligator and the American crocodile shows the unique qualities of adults from each species.

Alligator Crocodile
Size 8.2 feet to 11.2 feet long
400lbs to 800lbs
10 feet to 20 feet long
300lbs to 2,000lbs
Snout U-shaped snout V-shaped snout
Jaws A wide upper jaw hides the
lower teeth and overlaps the
lower jaw
The upper and lower jaw are roughly
the same size, allowing the teeth to
Feet Webbed feet allow for better
Feet are not webbed but possess
a jagged fringe
Teeth Roughly 80 teeth 66 teeth
Colors Dark gray or black, with a cream underside Olive green or light brown with a mottled pattern

These differences make it easy to identify an alligator and a crocodile. As with many other creatures, the males are larger in both the alligator and the crocodile, but the crocodile is a much larger reptile overall.”

Linda and one of her two dogs, Havana and Luna, who joined us for the day.

After we boated past the first canal, where we spotted the alligators, we headed out to the open expanse of Lake Harris, as shown in the photo below.

Once we exited the canal closest to Burt’s home, we reached the vast expanse of Lake Harris. “Lake Harris Lake in Florida 4.5 60 Google reviews Lake Harris is a lake in Lake County, Florida, United States, 31 miles northwest of Orlando. It is part of the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin, a sub-watershed of the St. Johns River. It is one of seven lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes or “Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes.” Wikipedia Area: 21.54 mi² Surface elevation: 62′ Fish: Northern pike, Largemouth bass, Channel catfish, Blue catfish, White perch.”

We always enjoyed boating, and when Tom and I met almost 32 years ago, we both had boats, and each of us had owned boats for years. It had been a long time since we’d been on a boat on a lake. The last time was on Lake Minnewashta in Minnesota with friends/neighbors Jamie and Doug in 2017. For that post, please click here.

Our captain, Burt who, joyfully hosted us for the day.

Being out on the water on a perfect weather day was ideal. Mother Nature was kind to us to provide a sunny day without high temperatures and a gentle breeze. We couldn’t have asked for more. Burt’s newer boat was comfortable. We each got a slight sunburn but not severe, and we felt no discomfort today.

Claudette and Jay chatted while comfortably seated on the back bench.

We stopped at a lovely Lake Harris park for a lunch picnic. We found a great picnic table sheltered from the sun, and all six of us took out the various items we shared. We brought homemade chicken salad and coleslaw. Claudette had a big package of croissants to share, and the four of them added the chicken salad to make sandwiches, except Tom and I, who went bun-less, as usual.

There’s my guy, Tom, wearing the hat we got on the Maharajas Express Train in India in 2020, shortly before the pandemic hit.

After lunch, we continued on the journey to see the famous and impressive Dora Canal. We had no idea how gorgeous it would be and we will share photos in the next few days. We took dozens of photos, many of which we still have to share.

Me, wearing my African hat.

A special thanks to new friends Linda and Burt for the beautiful day boating and for sharing your favorite spots with us in the exquisite chain of lakes in central Florida.

Be well.

This map illustrates the chain of lakes where we motor-boated in part yesterday, starting at Harrie Lake and heading to Lake Dora, including the famous Dora Canal.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 28, 2013:

Figuring a little warmth and sun might benefit us; we could only stay outside for 30 minutes in Dubai’s windless, scorching heat. For more photos, please click here.

Tender story from Marloth Park…We’re still paying attention to what’s going on!!!…

This young giraffe was saved from certain death by Marloth Park Rangers, who cleared the way for the youngsters to escape. Photo Maureen Oxlee Jarratt
“A young giraffe fell into a gully opposite Naboom/Seekoei and was trapped. Thank you to all our rangers and Mark de Beer for coming to its rescue. They cut away exposed roots and branches, allowing the exhausted giraffe to pull itself out independently. After a short rest, it came up close to us, almost as if saying “thank you” before it galloped off down Seekoei.”
Even though we’re no longer living in the bush in Marloth Park, South Africa, surrounded by wildlife, we’ve managed to stay up-to-date on everything happening while we’re away. It’s easy to do with friends sending messages and photos and the availability of photos and stories on Facebook under the “Marloth Park Sighting Page.”
Each day, Tom and I peruse Facebook, him for all his communication with friends and family and me to know what’s going on in our absence in my favorite place in the world. No, we do not wish the time to pass quickly to return there in a little over a year. We enjoy each day here in The Villages while living in the moment.
Last night, we drove to Lake Sumter Landing, a 15-minute drive, intending to watch the Thursday night movie. Once we arrived at the movie theatre, we looked at each other and almost said simultaneously, “I don’t feel like going to a movie.” We hadn’t eaten all day and felt having a bite to eat was more important than waiting until after 8:00 pm when the movie started at 6:00 pm.
No photo description available.
The young giraffe resting and recovering after the ordeal. Photo Maureen Oxlee Jarratt
We moseyed across the street to find a restaurant from the theatre and picked the first restaurant we spotted, grabbed two seats at the bar, had a drink, and munched on some appetizers. Afterward, we were too full for dinner, and by 8:00 pm, we headed back to the house to relax and unwind, watch the semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars, and eventually have a snack an hour later. Tom had popcorn, and I had Fage Greek yogurt. It was a lovely evening.
I didn’t sleep well for some odd reason, but I slept almost seven hours, according to my Fitbit. When I got up, it felt as if it was only three or four hours, but once I was up and moving about, my energy level picked up, and now I feel fine.
In a few hours, we’ll be heading to the Sunrise Asian Restaurant to pick up lunch to bring to Karen’s mom Donna, who’ll we visit for a few hours. She lives about 20 minutes from here. I haven’t seen Donna in over ten years, and it will be fun to see her again. She and I have always had a special relationship, just like I have with her lovely daughter Karen.
After the visit with Donna, we’ll make a quick trip to the market to pick up a few items and then head back home. We plan to go to Spanish Springs Town Square tonight, where we found a great-looking restaurant, Amerikanos Grille, that serves one of Tom’s favorites…Rueben Sandwiches. Several items on the menu are befitting my way of eating.
Spanish Springs Town Square is 20 minutes from the house, so we should go while we have the car. Otherwise, to go on the golf cart would take twice as long, and we may not appreciate a 40-minute return drive back at night in the dark.
Tomorrow we’re going out on the river on Burt and Linda’s boat. We’ll be bringing the camera and taking photos throughout the day. In the morning, I’ll make chicken salad and coleslaw for our picnic lunch on the boat. No doubt, it will be a nice day.
Be well.
Photo from ten years ago today, May 26, 2013:
There was no photo posted ten years ago on this date. For the story without photos, please click here.

Day 2, Change in a feature on our site started yesterday…Exciting trail cam photos….About us…

The genet and Earl had an encounter at the veranda railing during the night.

For those who may not have read yesterday’s post here, we have changed a feature on our site regarding the “Photo from one year ago today…” at the bottom of the page. We’ve now changed it to “Photo from ten years ago today…” Further explanation of this change is documented in yesterday’s post, as shown in the above link. Otherwise, all other aspects of our site will remain the same.

It’s hard to believe it was three years ago, while we were in lockdown in the hotel room in Mumbai, India, that we hired our current web developer to make major changes to the format of our site. It was a time-consuming and frustrating process.

The genet started out on the veranda rail where Tom had placed some cooked chicken.

There couldn’t have been a better time to update the site with so few distractions other than posting daily, finding sources for photos, washing all of our clothes by hand, walking in the corridors, and living a very peculiar life for ten months in a hotel room, unable to interact with the outside world.

We think of this often, wondering how in the world we got through it with the grace we did. We never fought with one another, nor were there ever angry or frustrated tones in our voices to each other. We had a strong and loving relationship going into this odd situation and a strong relationship coming out.

They engaged in a “stare-down” for quite a while.

We’re often asked if it made us stronger as a couple or as individuals. Ideally, we’d say yes. But the reality is that we used the adaptation skills and strengths we acquired throughout our world travels, at that time, over seven years into it. Nothing changed other than our personal affirmation of our resiliency, which both of us have developed over these years of world travel.

We’ve had our ups and downs, although none of them were in regard to the strength of our relationship, which somehow remains interesting, exciting, playful, and fun. We spend almost every day and night together, seldom apart, and we never tire of one another.

Part of that may be because we each do our own thing during daylight hours. Sure, we talk and laugh while reveling in our surroundings. But, once we’ve been in a location for a while and the sightseeing tapers off, those quiet days are easy for us. We never feel frustrated over what one of us is doing or not doing. There’s no judgment or criticism.

We saw Norman visit in the middle of the night. We can tell it’s him by the colors of his legs.

Ultimately, we make happiness a goal for ourselves and each other. With that in mind, we rarely have disagreements except when stressed over travel plans or circumstances. Even that is a rarity. We’re lucky, and we know it. Then again, is it luck? Probably not. It revolves around a sense of self-confidence and emotional security that we’ve chosen for ourselves.

Neither of us operated this way in past relationships, although we each extrapolated lessons we’ve learned from failed past relationships, choosing happiness over “always being right.” Being right doesn’t matter. Making smart decisions does.

Big Daddy at sunrise.

No, we’re not experts and have little advice for others. We’ve only allowed ourselves the privilege of making the most of every single day and night. Speaking of nights, this is when we come together after our daytime forays into activities that appeal to us individually. We listen to music, talk, laugh, tease, and often compliment one another, genuinely and from the heart. This is the glue that binds the quality of who we are together as a couple and as individuals.

As we spend days watching the behavior of wild animals, we often giggle over how much alike we are to them. They share pellets and loving nudges but then, at times, go off on their own, only to return later for more of the same. That’s us. Plain and simple.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 17, 2013:

My friend of 33 years, Colleen, had lived in St Thomas, USVI for many years. I was excited to see her when our ship docked at the Port of St. Thomas for a day. Sadly she passed away a few years ago from COPD. In this photo, she is shown with an oxygen tank, which was always at her side once she developed the awful condition. For more photos, please click here.

Attention: Residents of The Villages, Florida!…Please contact us to get together!…

Yesterday, a band of mongooses was in a frenzy climbing this tree. Could they have smelled a snake residing there? Very possibly, when a mongoose’s favorite meal is a snake of any type. They are immune to snake venom.

Gosh, we’re receiving lots of email messages and comments regarding residents of The Villages who may want to get together during the three months we’ll be renting a holiday home in the Barrineau Neighborhood, from April 30 to July 29. We’re hoping many of our readers in the area will also contact us for social events, including happy hour get-togethers, lunches, and dinners out and hosting at our place.

If you know of anyone living in The Villages in Florida that may want to meet, contact us via either of our email addresses listed under our banner on our home page. How exciting that will be! Based on the comments we’re getting so far, we expect to be very busy.

But you never know. Sometimes, people are shy and hesitate to make new friends, especially those who are content with their current circle of friends, and also hesitate to make friends with “transient types” such as us. It’s similar to making friends on cruise ships, which we’ve done many times, and many of those beautiful relationships continue today. We are grateful for all the friendships we’ve made along the way.

When they calmed down, we gave them a good-sized portion of paloney, cut into bite-sized pieces, which they devoured in seconds.

Perhaps, our expectations are too high after living here, on and off, over the past 2½ years. Residents of Marloth Park are extremely friendly, and we’ve even cultivated friendly get-togethers with other short-term visitors with whom we stay in touch via social media. It’s been so easy here, easier than anywhere we visited worldwide, even easier than in our old lives in Minnesota.

As much time as we’ve spent in Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada, in the past over ten years we’ve been residents of the state, we’ve yet to make any new friends, although we have a few old friends and family who live there. In the four months we spent in Bali and Costa Rica, we never made new friends, although we had a few social interactions on a few occasions.

On many occasions, we’ve socialized with our landlord and property managers, such as Hans and Geri in Kenya; Gina in Madeira; Sylvie and Andy in Trinity Beach, Queensland;  Mario in Fiji, Australia; Trish and Neal in New Zealand; Françoise and Egon in Bali; Fran and Terry in Penguin, Tasmania; Anne and Rob in Huon Valley, Tasmania; Bob in New South Wales, Australia; Bev and Sam, Atenas, Costa Rica (met them in Kauai in 2015 and later rented their holiday home in Costa Rica); Linda and Bill in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Eileen in Connemara, Ireland; Lorraine and Graham in Cornwall, England; and finally Renate and John in Cornwall, England.

This zebra foursome visits often for pellets and a sip in the pool.

And, of course, the closest friendships we’ve made with property owners/managers have been Louise and Danie, who, after ten years of fabulous friendship, are like family to us and will remain so in our hearts forever. How lucky we have met so many lovely people along the way!

We are hopeful we will have a full and enriching social experience while we are in The Villages, Florida, hoping many of our readers will contact us to meet and share stories of our life experiences, travels, and more. Undoubtedly, we’re looking forward to this new location as we continue our world journey.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. April 10, 2022:

Port Everglades as the ship began to journey out to sea. For more photos, please click here.

Planning a party at a party…Oh, oh…is this a good idea?…

Not quite a Big Daddy with his horns still growing, this male sipped from the pool.

Danie always jokes when he says, “Don’t plan a party at a party.” Invariably, this often happens to us. It’s hard to avoid planning other social events while at a social event. One is more relaxed after a glass of something while hugs and lively conversations ensue, creating a party-inducing scenario.

Last night while at Jabula with the bar filled with many patrons who’d attended my 75th birthday party in February, Dawn and Leon suggested we have a farewell party poolside at their place. We resisted at first, but everyone said they’d attend and that having a farewell party was a must-do when we’ll be gone so long.

As of 11:00 am, the invitations have been sent, and although some of our friends have left the bush for a while, we’re expecting about 20 guests. As always, we could have invited more, but the space is limited, and we don’t want it to be too much work for Dawn, Leon, and the staff.

A young male kudu on the left and a female on the right.

We chose Thursday, April 20, at 1600 hrs., 4:00  pm, and asked everyone to bring meat to braai and their drinks while Dawn had her kitchen staff make salads and sides, including the ever-popular South African dish, pap and Sheeba. Here’s a link for details on how to prepare this staple dish served at most social events.

Neither Tom nor I eat pap and Sheeba. Tom won’t like it (I never tried it), and I can’t eat it with the sugar and corn in the recipe. I’d love this if I could eat these ingredients, but I’ve never tried it. (When it comes to living a keto lifestyle, even a bite is too much).

The other sides will be vegetables in one form or another. People in South Africa are used to bringing their drinks to parties. It is more the “norm” than not, and we’ve become quite accustomed to doing this. When in the US over the past several years, we’ve noticed that most often, the hosts provide drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

This forkl of kudus entered the garden looking for pellets. Due to the Easter holiday weekend, there are few visitors right now. It will pick up again on Tuesday.

With the high cost of alcoholic beverages in the US, I believe more people would entertain at their homes if they didn’t always provide ample wine, beer, and other drinks. Also, asking guests to bring their meat is as popular as it gets. When getting people together for socializing, it makes sense to let guests bring their meat and drinks.

Traditional, old-fashioned roles are observed here, more than we’ve seen in the US and other countries, especially today. Also, it seems that in South Africa, men gather around the braai, drinking beer and carrying on lively conversations. At the same time, the women often spend time together at picnic tables and hovering in the kitchen.

When the food is ready, typically in South Africa, the couples sit together while everyone dines on the delicious braai meats and side dishes.

We often see kudus when no other wildlife is around.

One of the reasons I prefer not to bring meat to a braai is because Tom often overcooks my meat when he’s having such a good time talking with the “guys” while hovering over the braai. At the last “bring your meat” party we attended a few weeks ago, I made chicken salad and coleslaw ahead of time for both of us, which worked out perfectly for us. Tom could still chat at the braai and didn’t have to worry about cooking our meat.

Even here at the house, he doesn’t love cooking meat on the braai. Often, he puts the meat on while I keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t get overcooked. It works out better if the meat is the type to slow cook. Let’s face it; Tom doesn’t care to do the cooking. But he does all the dishes, and I’ll cook anytime to avoid doing dishes.

We’ll have a dishwasher when we get to Florida and won’t have to worry so much about using electricity without load-shedding impacting electric costs. It will be great to use a clothes dryer once again. Also, it will be fun to shop at grocery stores where we can get some of the grocery items we can’t find here. It’s been a while since we had such conveniences.

Hmmm…We’re both OK about leaving at the end of the month and capping off our wonderful time here in the bush with friends at our farewell party. We couldn’t ask for more of a send-off. As of the completion of today’s post, almost everyone we’ve invited to our farewell party has RSVP’d.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2022:

Celebrity Silhouette Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper
One year ago today, we boarded Celebrity Silhouette for a transatlantic cruise. We got Covid-19 during the last two days of the cruise and had to cancel our next cruise while still testing positive and being very ill. For more, please click here.

Figuring solutions for potential obstacles…

Earl has been visiting each evening. Wildebeests are the only animals that poop in our garden. The rest go out into the bush.

The most imminent topic on our minds right now is getting our passports renewed as soon as we arrive in the US. We’ll arrive at our holiday home in the evening on April 30, hoping to get a good night’s sleep so we’ll be refreshed when we awake on Monday, May 1.

Once we get unpacked and settled that morning, we’ll begin applying for our new 10-year passports. We’ve decided to use a company in Washington, DC, since passport applications are also running behind in the US, again blaming the pandemic for this problem.

One of our kind readers, Cheryl, wrote to remind us by submitting a USA Today article about how the US is behind in processing applications. Although we were aware of this, which contributed to our concern about getting the passports on time for our cruise on August 1, we did considerable research.

Earl and Hal together in the garden.

We decided we needed to bite the bullet and pay for a passport/visa processing company to get them back on time. We will choose to receive the passports in 8 to 10 business days. The cost for this speedy service will be around US $1500, ZAR 27347 for both of us. We know this is an outrageous amount of money for this service.

You may ask, why did we wait so long? We’ve certainly known this date was coming up. If we don’t have the new passports on the sailing date, we wouldn’t be allowed to board the ship. We were informed we could apply in South Africa at the US Consulate. When their website wasn’t working to process our applications, we knew we had to devise another plan.

Then, suddenly, we were informed we had to leave early due to visa extension issues in South Africa, and everything changed. We should have done it while we were in the US in November, but we weren’t there long enough to receive them in time to fly back to South Africa. Ah, the dilemmas of world travel. We accept these realities and our responsibility for sometimes not being on the ball quite enough. Stuff happens.

Ruffles on the right side of the garden.

I can’t believe I managed to do the posts daily, let alone complicated paperwork. Most likely, I blame myself the most since I had a headache for 11 months since we got Covid-19 last April 20, and I couldn’t discipline myself sufficiently to get this done. I spent most days inactive and unmotivated.

The headache now? It’s gone! After a ten-day cycle of Prednisone and ingesting multiple allergy medications, I finally feel free of the headache. However, I am still feeling some allergy symptoms once I tapered off the drug while still taking all of the other meds. I feel confident once we leave the bush, my symptoms will improve significantly when free of all the dust, pollen, grasses, and dust mites prevalent in this area.

When we return in 14 months, it will be winter here when allergies aren’t quite as bad. We’ll see how that goes at that time. Once we return, we don’t plan to stay longer than six months simply when we aren’t interested in dealing with these immigration issues. We’ll do one visa “run” to get a new 90-day visa stamp, but we aren’t interested in doing more.

We’ve been taking our walks each morning after breakfast and are pleased we can increase the distance a little each day. Tom does fine and could walk for hours, but I still have problems with my legs hurting, making long distances an issue. Hopefully, as we walk more and more, this will improve. It feels good to be moving around once again.

Tonight, we’re off to Jabula for dinner. Tomorrow, we’ll have three weeks remaining until we depart, and we’ll continue to go right up until the last night since we leave on a Saturday. It will be unusual when dining out in Florida. Most likely, we’ll dine out twice a week while we’re there with over 100 restaurants from which to choose, all a golf cart drive away. That should be fun.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2022:

The new watch face on my Fitbit Sense. How appropriate is that? I didn’t walk much yesterday when I took this photo, and we were too busy with other tasks. For more, please click here.

New travel plans revealed….Leaving South Africa in 24 days, not returning for over a year…

Earl has been stopping by for the past several days.

We knew this time would come…that we’d be leaving Marloth Park for an extended period. We do this knowing we’ll be back in about 14 months after many adventures in between. It’s about time we get back out into the world! It’s been quite enjoyable spending the past few years, off and on, in Marloth Park, but the rest of the world awaits us.

When speaking with the immigration attorney, she emphatically stated we have to leave South Africa on or before April 30, or we will be considered “undesirables,” which would ban us from returning for five years. We wouldn’t qualify for another waiver after we’d already used that option after I had open heart surgery in 2019. We have no choice but to leave.

Baby nyala Natalie is so adorable. She’s growing up so fast.

The interpretation of the new dictates imposed by immigration for pending visa extension applications, like ours, is unclear, but we can’t take any chances. One never knows for certain what will happen when trying to leave the country.

Secondly, we have discovered we cannot apply for our new 10-year passports at the US Consulate in Pretoria, which we also planned to do while here. It was entirely doable before the pandemic, but now the phone at the US Consulate doesn’t get answered regardless of when we call and how long we let it ring. The website claims we can apply for an appointment online. This is impossible. The link doesn’t work. TIA.

Mom Nina is in the forefront with Natalie outside the little fence.

I called the US Embassy, and they refused to help, saying that a US passport applicant must go through the consulate. What a mess! We’d have to leave even if we could have stayed longer. Our 10-year passports expired in 2021, and now our 4-year passport expires in January 2024. The upcoming cruises we’ve booked require at least six months remaining until the passports expire to board the ships.

As a result of both of these scenarios, we knew we had no choice but to leave. Since it’s not easy getting US passports in foreign countries unless on a short-term emergency basis, which is not us, we also knew we needed to return to the US to renew the 10-year passports.

So the question became, where do we go in the US for three months? We’ll be spending time with family in Minnesota and Nevada in September after the completion of two of the cruises. Holiday homes are priced out of our budget in Minnesota and Nevada, and since we have three months to fill until the first cruise on August 1, we decided to step outside the box and try something entirely new.

Nina and Natalie usually visit together. From time to time, Natalie hangs out with her dad Norman.

A long time ago, we watched a documentary about The Villages in central Florida and were fascinated by all it offered seniors. Where could we go that would be fun socially, perhaps near other seniors? But, for us, this is merely a stop along the way to fill these three months and not a “look-see” for any potential plans for the future.

To stay in some arbitrary US location and try to meet people and have a social life right away it’s tough in the US and many other countries. It’s not as if strangers try to make new friends when they’re out and about. After living there all of our lives except the past 10-plus years, we know this. By leaving Marloth Park, we are leaving many wonderful friends behind.

Nina and Norman enjoying breakfast at our house.

We had a busy social life in the US, but it had taken years to build relationships, unlike when people were ultra-friendly and welcoming. We thought if we went to a retirement community with lots of activities, we might be able to enjoy a busy social life during those three months. The obvious answer was The Villages for the three-month stint.

We got to work researching at VRBO, our preferred holiday home site, and researched exclusively for The Villages, which was easy to do. When we started seeing very nice golf carts that were often included in the rental, we wondered…was it possible we could avoid the expense of a rental car? Every possible shopping and entertainment venue, restaurant, and more were within a short drive using the golf carts allowed on all streets within the community.

Ruffles has become quite a regular.

Yesterday, we signed up for a three-month rental of a three-bedroom, two-full-bath property with a golf cart that we’ll be moving into on April 30. We’ll be departing 90 days later to head to Scotland for the first of two upcoming cruises on August 1.As mentioned above, we’ll be back in the US in September to see family. Afterward, we’ll be off to South America for many months, including a cruise from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos Islands.

We booked our flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg to Atlanta to Orlando for April 29. The journey will take about 30 hours, with the long overnight flight of 16 hours and 50 minutes from Joburg to Atlanta, a flight we’ve become very familiar with. We no longer anticipate it with dread. We know what to expect…lots of movies, little sleep, and terrible food. We don’t like to eat in the middle of the night anyway. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of our posting objectives during the three months. This will be an entirely new perspective for our site that may be of particular interest to seniors, with many photos included.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2022:

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself. This is in front of our friends Karen and Rich’s Apollo Beach, Florida house. For more photos, please click here.

A new day, a new dawn…Great relief and peace of mind…

This is Chevy, an impala who spends most of his time in our garden. We try to avoid giving pellets to impalas since there are too many to feed. But Chevy often gets in on the action with the other wildlife.

Waking this morning with a smile on my face made me realize how important it was to have those medical tests done and receive such good results for both of us. Then, I thought of the new immigration ruling that allows us to stay in South Africa until we leave for the cruise at the end of July, almost four months from now.

Of course, we’ll confirm this with the lawyer tomorrow, but based on the wording in the new document, it appears to be accurate information. Knowing these two unique aspects of our lives, we’re able to sit back and relax for the remainder of the time we’ll be here.

Sure, we could leave early and go to Scotland a few months before sailing out of Edinburgh. Still, after considerable research, we were dismayed over the high cost of spending the summer months in Scotland, a country with a short summer season of warm weather.

This is bushbuck, Tulip. Tulip is probably pregnant again. Her calf, Lilac, now visits on her own without her mom.

It would have been fun to spend time there, but we always like to live in a lovely house, and we’d have had to sacrifice too much to do so. Since the onset of our travels, and after a few holiday decisions we later regretted, we’ve come to a place where the property we rent must fulfill our objectives.

As a result, we have to consider the cost of holiday homes before we start booking flights and other events. It was the same reason we decided against staying in England in the past few years…the UK, in general, is pricey these days, much more than when we visited in the past.

This has been the case with many holiday rentals worldwide since the pandemic. Yes, if a tourist takes a one- or two-week trip to anywhere in the world, they can typically find suitable holiday homes via companies such as VRBO and AirBnB or even affordable hotels.

Big Daddy, on a mad dash to catch up with a female he’s been sniffing.

At this point, after our extended stay in Mumbai in lockdown for ten months, we have little interest in long-term hotel stays. Although, we’ll always stay in hotels in the US when we visit family in Nevada and Minnesota and during short stays in specific countries as part of our ongoing itinerary.

When we arrive in Scotland at the end of July, we’ll be staying in a hotel for a few nights, preferably close to the cruise terminal. After checking hotel prices in Edinburgh during that time frame, it appears that hotel prices close to the terminal average of around US $300 per night, not a price we’d be willing to pay for longer than one or two nights.

We’d love to share new adventures from our original departure date of June 8, leaving us about seven weeks until embarking on the cruise. But, based on the cruises we’ve booked for the future and those increased costs, it makes a lot of financial sense for us to stay in Marloth Park during those additional weeks.

He can’t help himself. Nature calls.

Last night was another fun night at Jabula. This morning, I am focused on making a special Sunday dinner; roasted lamb neck for me and short ribs for Tom with whole carrots, whole mushrooms, and onions, all well seasoned. We have everything roasting in the oven until no later than 3:00 pm,1500 hrs. We are unable to use the oven during load-shedding.

Before load-shedding begins, everything will be done, and I’ll take the pans out of the oven to eat later on. Most likely, as hot as it is today, the pans will retain the heat, and we won’t have to reheat our plates to eat our meal, with rice for Tom and salad for both of us.

Have a great Sunday, and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2022:

A small buoy must have been attached to the tail of the frequent manatee visitors, making it easier for the tourists to spot. For more photos, please click here.