Part 2…Five years ago in South Africa…The Panorama Route…Wildlife in Hoedspirit at the Moholoholo Rehab Centre…

The small Serval cat is a vicious hunter in the wild.  We were not allowed inside her habitat.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mongooses waiting patiently for Tom to place the bowl of raw scrambled eggs on the ground.

It was on January 19, 2014, we posted the photos we’re sharing in today’s story of our visit to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit, South Africa, about a four-hour drive from Marloth Park.

This handsome cheetah was recovering from poisoning, as the result of an attempt to kill him for his hide.  He won’t be able to return to the wild due to the risk of being killed by his own species.  He’s been made an “ambassador” to represent the rehab center in saving his and other species from becoming endangered.  Watching him through the electrified fencing, we were anxious to get inside for “hands-on.”

In reviewing the photos, it boggles our minds to think this was a full five years ago.  It seems like only yesterday we embarked on a three-day getaway to see the Panorama Route as reiterated in yesterday’s post here.

Here is the link from our visit to Moholoholo so many moons ago.

This mating pair of honey badgers were kept together when one was injured.  It was delightful to watch their playful antics.  In the wild, they are dangerous animals known to be able to rip the genitalia from any animal in a single bite. Yikes.

As mentioned in a few recent posts, we may be sharing a few repeated posts as we wind down our time in Marloth Park, now only 22 days until departure.  Mainly, we decided on this occasional repeat to share past experiences in South Africa in 2013/2014 for our readers who may have begun following us long after this time.

We weren’t allowed to get face to face with this vulture.  He offers tourists a stick with the appearance of being generous when in reality, if the gift is accepted through the fence, he’ll bite their fingers off!

Another obvious reason is the fact we’ve been here for so long (a few weeks short of one year as of today) we felt we needed to “shake it up a bit. ”  How many warthogs, kudu, giraffe and zebra photos can we post in our remaining time?  We realize that it’s become redundant and perhaps boring after so many of the “same old, same old.”

Of course, we’ve yet to become bored with a forkl of kudus, a band of mongoose, a dazzle of zebras or a tower of giraffes in our garden or on the bumpy dirt roads in Marloth Park or even in Kruger National Park.  It’s been a constant stream of that which we love, over and over again.

This adorable, yet deadly eagle was more than willing to lower her head for me to pet her.

And yet, it’s about to change very soon and we will bombard our readers with new experiences, new photos, and new adventures unlike many others we may have shared in the past.

Tom volunteered to feed the vultures raw meat.  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.  Exciting, to say the least!

Yes, we’re excited for the future; the upcoming photography tour in Kenya; the March cruise from San Antonio, Chili to San Diego, California; seeing our family once again in Minnesota in April; the cruise in the latter part of April from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Copenhagen, Denmark; and then in May, flying to Dublin and then driving to Connemara, Ireland where we’ll stay for three months until August.  And, it goes on and on…The Baltic, St. Petersburg and more.

At times, I feel melancholy about leaving the bush, the wildlife, and friends.  But then, I remind myself I’m continuing to travel the world with my husband, lover, companion and best friend and we’ll never run out of the lively conversation, magic moments, and memorable experiences along the way.

This male lion recovering from an injury leisurely walked our way as we approached the electrified fence.  I was able to take this photo through an open small space in the fence, using a bit of zoom.  Of course, we weren’t allowed inside his area.

Today, as we share photos from five years ago, we anticipate five years into the future, wellness, and good health providing, when we may share some of our magic moments from this heart-pounding year in the bush.  

In 22 days, I’ll be emotionally prepared to move on, however sad it may be to say goodbye to Little, Ms. Bushbuck, Basket, Tusker, Mom and Babies, Wildebeest Willie, Frank, and the Mrs. and many more.  No doubt, a few tears will be shed on those last days.  

Other wildlife meandered the open areas of the rehab center, which is located in the bush including many vultures, eagles, impalas, and other species.  This young impala was enjoying a quiet time in the shade.

Then, of course, is saying goodbye to our many friends in Marloth Park who have welcomed us, once again, with open arms, open hearts and more loving friendship than we ever could have imagined.  

Never a day passes without us acknowledging how we’ve been blessed to live this unusual life, filled with riches that can’t be bought.  We are grateful.

May you have blessings in your life!


Here are the expenses we incurred one year ago today, for the 31-night stay in the Prodeo Hotel in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina: 

 Expense   US Dollar   Argentine Pesos 
 Hotel – 31 nights $                  2,480.00 47,076.69
Flight – Round trip- inc. cruise                   –               –
 Taxi   $                       65.31 1,239.75
 Groceries & Dining out   $                     987.87                     18.752.28
 Laundry  $                        56.00 1,063.02
 Tips for hotel staff   $                     158.05 3,000.19
 Pharmacy & Misc.   $                     477.52 7,157.48
 Total   $                  4,224.75 59,537.13
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     136.28 1,920.55

Please click here for more details.

Part 1…Five years ago in South Africa…Stunning scenery that didn’t include wildlife…the Panorama Route

Wow! Bourke’s Luck Potholes was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Basket the Bully was feeling sad after his right ear was nearly torn off in what must have been as a result of a fight he most likely provoked.  We comforted him with pellets, apples, and carrots before he took his nap in the hay.

Each day, after we upload the new post, Tom reviews the posts of the same date going back over the years reading aloud to me reciting the places we visited and lived during each of the prior years since we began posting in 2012.

The colorful rock formations, coupled with the water from the Blyde and Treur Rivers at Bourke’s Luck Potholes were breathtaking.

Yesterday, when he mentioned we’d done the Panorama Route around this time five years ago, we figured it would be a good new post to review the experiences with our new readers that we’d had in January 2014.

The waterfalls were a highlight at Bourke’s Luck Potholes as well as the interesting rock formations.

The majority of our readers joined us partway into our journey and may have missed the photos from one of the most stunning experiences for visitors to South Africa, the Panorama Route.

The water was so inviting.  Can you imagine the day that Bourke, an unsuccessful gold miner discovered these? Essentially, they are a result of decades of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River, the tumult of which has caused extensive water erosion over time. The result is a series of cylindrical rock sculptures that look as though they would be more comfortable on the moon.

From this site, the Panorama Route is described as follows:

“One of the country’s most scenic self-drives, the Panorama Route, explores the Mpumalanga Highlands, or the north-eastern section of the Great Escarpment of the Drakensberg. In these rugged mountains, the plateau comes to an abrupt and dramatic halt, falling steeply away into the Lowveld accompanied by incredible views out over the grasslands of Africa.”
As we made our way out of the Potholes, we were sad to leave. But, we needed to get back on the road in order to make the best use of our time.

To embark upon this route and gain the full depth and beauty of the experience, one must plan for a two to three-day trip with lots of driving and many stops along the way.

The Three Rondavels viewing point was shrouded in haze which prevented a clear shot.  In South Africa, a Rondavel is a traditional beehive-shaped hut built by the indigenous people as their homes.

Weather is a big factor in ensuring the quality of the self-driven tour along with having a full tank of petrol when taking off which we hadn’t done at the time. Since we visited five years ago now there may be more petrol stations along the route.

A lovely couple from South Africa took this photo of us as we did the same for them.

At the time we ended up low on fuel and barely made it to a petrol station before running out. The situation may have put somewhat of a damper on the experience for a few hours until we finally found a petrol station.

The haze had an impact on our view from God’s Window. We could easily imagine its beauty on a totally clear day.  

However, as we stopped at each point of interest along the long route, we forgot about our fuel needs and embraced the magnificence of that which lay before our eyes and the lens of our camera.

 Berlin Falls presented an impressive view.

If you would like to read the post from January 21, 2014, from which we copied these photos please click here.

Another aspect of this three-day road trip was our stay at the exquisite Blyde River Canyon Lodge. The rooms were well-equipped and gorgeously appointed along with the joy of seeing wildlife wandering about the lush property.  

 This was Wonderview.  What appears to be smoke is low-lying clouds on a hazy day.

The owner Vicky went out of her way to ensure we had an exceptional stay as she did for all of her guests. We couldn’t have been more pleased by the choice we’d made in booking this lodge in the Blyde River area.

Lisbon Falls was one of many exquisite waterfalls in the area.

Another part of the tour was a boat ride in the Blyde River Canyon for some of the most gorgeous scenery we’d seen along the way. Sadly, the rain and dark clouds had an impact on our photos which didn’t stop us from having a good time.

The day was cloudy, the air thick was thick with a mist and low clouds obstructed our views of the mountain tops at times.  However, we found the Blyde River Canyon breathtaking for the two full hours we spent on a pontoon with 20 other tourists.

Please click here for more photos of the scenery from our boat ride in the Blyde River Canyon.  

The excitement of the three-day trip didn’t end here.  Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 2 with photos from our visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehab Centre with some outrageous photos and experiences we’ll always remember. Please check back for more.

May your day be filled with memories of the wonders you have experienced over the years!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2018:

An adorable little parrot sitting atop a birdbath in Buenos Aires, as we ended our time in the  Palermo district.  For more photos, please click here.

Trip to Hobart on a perfect day in Tasmania…Noctunal awakening…Clarification on our “one year ago posts”…

A perfect yellow rose from the flower garden in the yard.

During the night I awoke at 2:00 am, wide eyed and bushy tailed. Finally, by 4:00 am I drifted off, awakening at 6:30. As a whole, I slept about five hours. As a result, I lounged in bed this morning unable to fall back to sleep, instead reading the news on my phone. 

The main street in Huonville as we drove along our way to Hobart, approximately 45 minutes from our holiday home.

In the past year I’d read several articles stating that it’s in our human DNA to awaken during the night such as explained at this website as follows:

In the past year I have read several articles stating that it is in our human DNA to wake up during the night as explained on this website as follows: “Humans slept in two four-hour blocks, which were separated by a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night lasting an hour or more. During this time some might stay in bed, pray, think about their dreams, or talk with their spouses. Others might get up and do tasks or even visit neighbors before going back to sleep.”

While we were driving down the road to Hunonville, the scenery was exquisite.

It is heartening to know that waking up at night is neither unusual nor harmful at the end of the day. The trick is to get enough sleep to function well in the daytime. 

There is no shoulder on the road from our vacation home to Huonville. As a result, we’ve had to take photos while moving, always a tricky proposition.

Last night I didn’t get enough sleep, leaving me to lounge in bed this morning longer than I’d prefer. Subsequently, I didn’t sit down to begin today’s post until two hours after my usual starting time. 

Huon River.

Preferring to upload the day’s post prior to noon (our time) I’ve decided to postpone the time consuming story I prepared and upload tomorrow regarding yesterday’s visit to a worthwhile historical visit in Hobart where we spent most the afternoon.

Huon River through the trees.

After the enjoyable trip to Hobart we’re determined to return once a week, weather providing, to explore more of its wonders. It’s quite a city, unlike any other we’ve visited in the past. 

Cloudy and overcast views of a few boats moored on the Huon River.

As a matter of fact, Tasmania is unlike any location, we’ve visited in our 51 months of travel. It will be hard to leave in five weeks, but then, we have so much to look forward to in the future.

More sailboats moored on the river.

A point we wanted to discuss today, is the “year ago post” at the bottom of the page of each day’s post. Most of our posts reference a particular activity on which we’ve embarked as a result of an experience of a prior day. Thus, when we display the “year ago photo,” it was actually taken the prior day.

The Huon River is very wide in certain areas.

As an example, today’s “year ago photo” as shown below was taken on January 19, 2016, not on January 20th which it is today on this side of the International Dateline. This further adds to the confusion for our readers in the North America, Europe and South America where today’s date is January 19th, not the 20th as it is here.

Calla Lily grows in Anne and Rob’s flower garden.

To sum this up, the “year ago photos” are generally taken the prior day or during the prior few days. We attempt to stay as current as possible in all of our posts. If you have any questions regarding the time frame (or any other topic) for any of our posts, please feel free to contact us.

This flock of pelicans and other birds appear to be standing atop of the water when they’re actually standing in shallow water.

Today, it’s raining again and we’ll stay indoors simply enjoying this lovely property, our gorgeous surroundings and each other’s companionship. It’s a good day!

May you have a good day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 20, 2016:

Although far and few between, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain on the drive from Auckland to New Plymouth, New Zealand, where we stayed for three months on an alpaca farm. For more details of our arrive and a few kinks we had to adjust to, please click here.

Maui countryside photos…

Entrance to a private ranch.

Yesterday afternoon, we jumped into the car and took off. Earlier, we’d noticed a narrow road leading off the highway toward the hills and wanted to check it out.  We weren’t disappointed as shown in photos over the next few days.

I‘m still busy every afternoon working on the revisions on all of our past posts. With over 800 downloaded posts so far, I’ve put a good dent in it, now with only about 300 to go. At this time, I’m trying hard to get done so I’m free of this task when the first of our family members begin to arrive on the Big Island on December 6th.

A bit of blue sky was trying to peek through.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll be done within a few weeks, a week before we leave Maui in plenty of time to pack and get ready for the next move, the big move to the Big Island to be with our family members for the holidays and more.

Need I say, we’re very excited. I must admit I was a little concerned about cooking big meals every night for so many of us. But, everyone has chimed in and will cook as well, reducing the load, leaving us more time for fun time together. Who could ask for more? 

Hills in Maui on a cloudy day.

It looks as if the lava flow has stalled. It could start back up on a dime, but we’re proceeding at this time as if will be OK. Hopefully, we’ll be able to maneuver the roads in and out of the area. If not, we’ll find an alternative. We’re not worried at all.

We contacted both owners of the two houses this morning explaining we are ready to pay the balances for the rentals today. We’re all in.

Even in more remote areas, the scenery is impeded by power lines.

As for now, I’m excited at the prospect of speaking to one of our readers today, Staci from Texas. She’s going to call soon so I can walk her through, step by step, of how to make the low carb, starch, grain and sugar free pizza crust. How fun it will be to speak live to yet another of our readers!

Having had the wonderful opportunity to meet and subsequently stay in touch with Liz of Bristol, UK when we were in London in August, we look forward to speaking to Staci and to later meeting her and her husband in person on an upcoming cruise in Australia in 2016. 

Amid the arid hills, flowers bloom in Hawaii.

We’ve been fortunate to meet many people as a result of this site and always welcome hearing from YOU!!!  Please don’t hesitate to email or comment at the end of any of our posts. You can do so anonymously if you’d like. I used to be a “lurker” and surely appreciate that some readers prefer to remain in the background and yet, may want to share thoughts and ideas. Feel free.

Within a month the whales will return to Hawaii. Believe me, we’ll be posting photos and videos as soon as we capture their presence. Seeing the sea turtles sent us to the moon. I can only imagine our enthusiasm in seeing the whales.

Another view of the ranch entrance.

Today, we’ll spend our usual hour at the pool enjoying the warm sunshine and an occasional splash in the pool.  When we’re situated in the chaise lounges which face the ocean a mere 25 feet from us, our eyes are peeled on the sea in hopes of seeing more wildlife.

Tonight, again we’ll check out the moonlight. I’ve yet to learn to take good photos of the moon but I’m working on it, especially when last night’s haze impeded the view.

We wished we could have driven down the road to see the ranch. Although with no ocean view, the scenery is breathtaking.

For tonight’s dinner, we’re making coconut chicken tenders, roasted vegetables, green beans and salad. We haven’t had this particular meal since we were in Madeira almost three and a half months ago. 

As always, it will be a wonderful day and evening. Gosh, we love this life!

                                         Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2013:

Tom was doing well in the heat in Kenya. The mosquitos and flies didn’t bother him. Most often, they were too busy dining on me to pay attention to him.  For details from that date, please click here.

Today, we’re heading out to explore…

The sun reflecting on the beach in the late afternoon. At the top of the hill, there are numerous windmills, a common sight in Hawaii.

We’ve been anxious to get out and about to check out Maui. Soon, we’ll be on the road heading toward the popular Lahaina and Whaler’s Village, places I’d visited over 26 years ago and have been excited to see once again.

We’ve been sitting in these chaise lounges with our backs to the pool enabling us to watch the beach during the daily 40-minutes we spend in the sun.

Most assuredly, this location is popular with tourists and will be crowded. Going earlier in the day will be to our advantage when later in the day on Friday, the weekend crowds will be daunting.

Tom’s head is shown in the bottom right of this photo.

Late yesterday afternoon, we walked along the shoreline at high tide taking these few photos and looking for Sea Turtles we’ve yet to spot. We’ll never tire of the view, the surf, and the sandy beaches.

These chairs set up outside the gated pool area were all occupied today. We prefer to stay in the pool area for easy access to a quick dunk in the pool to cool off.

We returned to the condo on time to watch the 5 pm Hawaii news with not so good news updates on the lava flow on the Big Island. We’ll keep updating as more information becomes available. 

The ocean looked less murky than a few days ago after Hurricane Ana breezed through the area. It was explained on the news that murky waters bring more sharks to the beach.

As of yesterday, the flow increased substantially, widening, and is moving at a considerably increased speed.  We continue to wait with bated breath as to what will transpire in the next few weeks and if this will have an impact on our holiday rental homes.

This is a path we used to walk further down Maalaea Beach but it ended and we had to turn around. Next time, we’ll follow the road to check out the beach beyond the cut-off point.

Gee…Hawaii is an exciting place. Between the lava flow, the shark attacks, and recent Hurricane Ana, we’ve been glued to the news.

Many of the condo complexes have steps such as these leading the sea with warning signs reminding bathers that the steps are slippery.

As our cough continues to improve a little each day, we find ourselves anxious for a full night’s sleep and the refreshed feeling that comes with good consistent sleep. It’s either Tom coughing and awakening me or vise versa. I suspect we haven’t had more than five hours of sleep in a single night since four nights before we left Waikiki when this virus began.

The perfect lawns along the beach look like carpet, perfectly trimmed and maintained. Although we prefer more “wild” natural areas, we’re definitely finding this location pleasing at this point.

It will feel good to get out and about especially when we’re confident that we are no longer contagious and at this point, only cough at night.

More flowers blooming near the beach.

We’re enjoying our home-cooked meals having little interest in dining out. All the tourist-packed restaurants in Lahaina will be jammed with little chance of getting an appropriate meal befitting my food restrictions or even getting a table.

Beautiful flowers are blooming in some areas.

Also, Tom has joined me in this diet and hasn’t had a morsel of anything not included in our way of eating.  We’re better off continuing to cook as we have since arriving in Maui eight days ago.

The foamy surf at high tide.

Although we’ve hardly been out, we’re loving Maui, fully understanding why so many people long to live in Hawaii, particularly in Maui, the most revered of the islands by travelers.

High tide at the base of the rocks on the shoreline.

We’ll be back tomorrow, looking forward to sharing many new photos of our day of exploration on this exquisite tropical island in paradise.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2013:

My nemesis while living in Kenya, the dreaded poisonous centipede. When stepping on them to kill them in our house, the sound of the crunching of their crustacean shell nauseated us both. Luckily, we were never bitten but we’d heard that a bite usually requires a trip to an emergency room.  For details from this date’s post, please click here.

Honolulu and Waikiki Beach is a photographer’s dream…Photo of our tent, one year ago…

Last night’s sunset at 6:15 pm.

I’ll never profess to be an experienced photographer. After less than two years of passionately taking photos, I still have a lot to learn. Perhaps, in another two years, I’ll be able to consider myself in a class of an experienced amateur photographer. 

The Waikiki Trolley.

For now, I’m reveling in the pure joy of capturing moments as we see them, Tom with his keen eye for the perfect scene, sunset or moon, and me, with my curiosity for the less common scenes. Together, we find ourselves constantly holding a camera when out and about, scanning our surroundings for the next shot.

A fountain and surfer statue at Waikiki Beach.

Based on our current equipment and my inability to hold a heavy SLR camera, we make do with the camera we recently purchased, an inexpensive Canon SX50 HS. As mentioned in an earlier post, if this camera lasts for two years, we’ll be thrilled. By that time, newer technology will aid my accumulated skills.

Another surfer statue at the beach.

Some of our distant photos aren’t as clear as we’d like. Although at times, we choose to share them for their content, as opposed to their acuity. I can’t imagine hauling a tripod and multiple lenses around the world with us. The weight restrictions are a constant source of concern.

A sign describing the beaches at Waikiki.

Each night on our way to dinner, we head out early to ensure we have a chance to capture the sunset in Waikiki from the perfect location across the street from our condo-hotel. Each night is different.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  Long BT (before Tom) I stayed at this hotel on a few occasions.  Now, the rooms start at over $400 a night

Other than a daily walk in the area and again going out at 5:30 for the evening, we’ve tended to stay inside the little condo in air-conditioned comfort. Each sunny day we head up to the 10th-floor veranda where there are chaise lounges for a quick 40-minute dose of Vitamin D and a little tanning.

The breakwaters at Waikiki to protect the bathers.

There’s a pool on the property but, it’s entirely shaded by trees making it useless for our occasional sun tanning. What do we do for the remainder of our time? We do what others do in their homes; laundry, cleaning up, checking Facebook and our email, banking, and financial tasks, talking and laughing. Tom often listens to his favorite radio podcast, Garage Logic, using his earpieces while I listen to the news in the background.

The surf at the breakwater should be increasing with the upcoming trade winds.

Also, we spend considerable time each day taking and preparing our photos and stories which easily fill a morning or afternoon. Preferably, the next day’s post is completed by late afternoon, leaving our evenings free to go to dinner and later relax watching a movie or favorite TV show. 

Tom thought that Spam was a popular item in Hawaii which was confirmed by this Spam sandwiches to go display at an ABC store, of which there is one at almost every block.

In many ways, it’s a simple life when one is free of “stuff,” household maintenance, and social obligations. We do miss the social interactions but after two fabulously social cruises, we’re good for a while. 

On the pier in Waikiki Beach.

In six days, we’ll leave Honolulu, heading to Maui for a six-week stay in a condo with more space where we’ll feel more comfortable. Our 40-minute flight is booked and we’ve checked our baggage restrictions consisting of a maximum of 50 pounds per bag at $35 per bag. We’ll use our travel scale to get this right hopefully, avoiding excess baggage fees.

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you may do. We plan to.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2013:

This was the interior of our tent at Sanctuary Retreat’s Camp Olonana in the Masai Mara where we went on safari. It was quite a tent with AC, indoor plumbing, and electrical. The WiFi didn’t work in the tent requiring us to work in the lobby of the main building. We were so happy to be there, we didn’t mind a bit. Plus, they turned off the electrical power during the day to save on power. But, they left ours on to recharge our equipment. For details of that post with more photos of the camp, please click here.

A road trip turning into an unexpected adventure…A year ago…A neighborhood party…

It was on the return drive that Tom prompted me to make a video of driving under the waterfall, a necessary feat in order to continue on the road. Excuse my verbal flubs on the video. We were having so much fun I could hardly speak coherently.
Once again on Thursday at noon, we decided on a road trip with the intent of getting out the way of Judite as she cleaned our house. There are plenty of places to drive on this island. If one so chose, they could drive the perimeter of the island to the east or west (right or left) on the highway or into the core of the island.
As we approached the waterfall we were astounded as we watched this van drive under it.

Since we’d already made a long drive to Sao Vincente a few weeks ago by driving through the core of the island to the opposite side and, we’d driven to the airport on a few occasions, our logical choice was to head west to an area we hadn’t seen.

The van stopped as we’d also done, to enjoy the downpour on the vehicle.  Fun!

There’s nowhere on this island, whether by following the shoreline or driving through villages, where one doesn’t drive on narrow winding roads with hairpin turns. The major highway around the island often veers into the villages for part of the way to create the challenge of finding one’s way back to the highway. On the map it looks as if it’s a clear shot. Driving it is another matter.

Of course, its hard to see running water in a photo, so please check out the above video for the full experience.

As we worked our way past the familiar Ribeira Brava, the closest larger village where we shop for groceries, we knew we were on new terrain, as unfamiliar scenery came into view. 

Our windshield as we drove under the waterfall. There was no other way to continue on the road than to drive directly under the flow of water.

We had no fear of getting lost when all we’d need to do is look for the ocean which seems to magically appear regardless of the direction we travel. After all, the island of Madeira is only 309 square miles, 801 km, 35 miles, 57 km long from east to west, 14 miles, 22 km from north to south.

We traveled through many tunnels, long and short, the longest on Thursday was the Ponta do Sol.  See this link for details. It’s the third on the list at 8858 feet, 2700 meters long.

Driving the 35 mile, 57 km length of the island is a day-long outing based on the winding hilly roads.

A quaint village along the shore.

On Thursday, our goal was not unlike other outings, not a competition to see if we could drive around the entire island but, instead an opportunity to seek out interesting scenery we’d yet to see. Madeira is a wealth of such scenery, never to disappoint, as was the case on Thursday as shown in our photos.

We’d stopped the car to check out where this set of step led to. As we got closer, we noticed that the steps were small, rocky, not level and “rounded” creating a possible “tripping hazard” making it not worth the risk of a fall.

We’d have stayed out longer than we did but, decided to return when droplets of rain fell on the windshield.  It was another cloudy day of which there have been many in the past 30 days. Gina recently explained that the sun usually shines most days in the summer. Other than clouds impeding the quality of our photos, the clouds didn’t bother us.

A restaurant overlooking the sea on a craggy cliff.

However, it makes no sense to be driving on these roads in the rain if we didn’t have to. We’d returned home by 4:00 pm, satisfied that we’d have another worthwhile outing as we whittle down our time on the lush island of Madeira.

Almost every home or hotel on the island takes advantage of the exquisite views of the ocean.

Of course, the highlight of our day was the waterfall that we drove under. We had no idea we’d encounter this although we’d heard about such a waterfall on the island. We experienced it both coming and going along our drive making is all the more fun the second time.

Many hotels and condo complexes lined the roads along the shoreline.

Today, we’re staying home for a relatively quiet Sunday except for the sound of the goats baaing, the roosters crowing, the birds singing, the church bells ringing and an occasional horn honking as drivers maneuver their way around a hairpin turn.

We stopped in the villages we past through on our drive, often finding tourists on the rocky beaches sitting on provided wood planks.

We’re cooking a Sunday dinner of low carb, gluten-free coconut chicken tenders, grilled veggies and a giant salad. With 11 days remaining until we’re on our way to Paris, we’re content and grateful as we enjoy every last moment on the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2013:

Every Friday night, in the village of Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, there was a gathering of locals at the Bar Ferrari, a bar that had been in the area for generations. For more photos and details of the local history, please click here.

The Panorama Route…Natural wonders one after another along the highway…God’s Window…

Wow! Bourke’s Luck Potholes was definitely our favorite.
The scenery at Bourke’s Luck Potholes was captivating.
The colorful rock formations, coupled with the water from the Blyde and Treur Rivers at Bourke’s Luck Potholes were breathtaking.

Our three days at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge were so busy, we had little time to relax. I guess that’s what being a tourist is all about, being fearful of missing something one will later regret.

The waterfalls were a highlight at Bourke’s Luck Potholes as well as the unreal rock formations.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes are too beautiful for words.
We hiked the rocky trail to this bridge at Bourke’s Luck Potholes, crossed to the opposite side to take this photo.

We often talk about how we aren’t tourists. We’re travelers, temporary residents in a location in which we’ve traveled.  However, from time to time we don’t mind jumping into the tourist mode to see the sites.

Note:  The photos shown here are not necessarily in the order in which they occur along the Panorama Route.

The sun had peeked out when we visited Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The water was so inviting. Can you imagine the day that Bourke, an unsuccessful gold miner discovered these?  “Essentially, they’re the result of decades of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River, the tumult of which has caused extensive water erosion over time. The result is a series of cylindrical rock sculptures that look as though they would be more comfortable on the moon.”
As we made our way out of the Potholes, we were disappointed to leave. But, we needed to get back on the road in order to make the best use of our time.

The crowds, the commercialism, the endless array of hawking vendors, and the waiting behind impatience tourists is definitely annoying. If anything, that’s what may have been instrumental in keeping us away from touristy sites while living in some locations. 

Overcast and hazy when we arrived at God’s Window, we were disappointed that our view would be impeded. This long nicely groomed walkway led to the vantage point. The smell of herbs growing wild in this area was intoxicating. South Africa takes good care of some of its natural resources.
Yes, the haze had an impact on our view from God’s Window.  We could easily imagine it on a totally clear day. 

Luckily, the varied points of interest along South Africa’s Panorama Route were less commercial and crowded than many other tourist locations we’ve visited. With the holiday season over we encountered only a handful of tourists on Friday as we made our way through the various sites.

Darn the haze but, it still was worth seeing God’s Window from several viewing points, this one different from the previous photo.

The vendors had many interesting items, none of which we could justify adding to our baggage load. They weren’t as aggressive as vendors in other countries that we’ve visited

Colorful fabrics are often the focus of vendors in Africa.

At some of the sites, a fee was required to enter. In total, we spent only ZAR $130, US $12.21 which included a few at only ZAR $10, US $.94. Where can one see anything for US $.94 which was the cost to see God’s Window?  Our favorite along the route, Bourke’s Luck Potholes in the main photo and others posted today was the most costly at ZAR $80, US $7.51 for both of us.  It was worth every penny. 

The Three Rondavels viewing point was shrouded in haze which prevented a clear shot. In South Africa, a Rondavel is a traditional beehive-shaped hut built by the indigenous people as their homes.
The river views at the Three Rondavels added to the beauty. 

Several of the sites required strenuous walking on rocks, up and down uneven steps and long hilly walkways.  Although some were wheelchair accessible, we couldn’t imagine how a tourist in a wheelchair could manage the steep incline, for example at Bourke’s Luck Potholes.and, God’s Window.

We’d been warned by many locals that it’s disappointing to visit God’s Window on anything but a perfectly clear day. The day we visited was cloudy, and misty with an occasional breakthrough of the sun. We were grateful that it wasn’t exceedingly hot.

 Berlin Falls, along the Panorama Route, presented an impressive view.

Unable to see all of the sites on the Panorama Route due to time constraints (wanting to get back to the Blyde River Canyon Lodge before dark) we chose those that were grouped together. One could easily spend two full days seeing everything unless starting at 7:00 am and ending at 6:00 pm, a schedule that didn’t appeal to us. 

 This was a wonderful view.  What appears to be smoke is low lying clouds on a hazy day.


Another viewing point from Wonderview.  Although not as astounding as some of the other sites of interest, it was close to the car and easy to access.

Our goal is “stress-free” traveling when we have control over the events of the day. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t quite as stress-free as we’d like when the steep mountains we’d traveled in order to arrive at the Panorama Route. The long drive uphill used so much gas in the little pink car that we were nearing “empty” halfway through the Panorama Route. There wasn’t a single “petrol” station until we reached the town of Graskop where we began our return drive.

 The larger of these two waterfalls, Lisbon Falls was an impressive site.
Lisbon Falls, more exquisite waterfalls in the area.

Over a period of two hours, we anxiously watched the fuel gauge, hoping we’d somehow make it through the sites we wanted to see to avoid the necessity of backtracking. “Safari luck” prevailed and we made it in time with the empty light flashing on the dashboard.  Whew!

Returning to the lodge at 4:00 pm, we had ample time to download our photos and begin writing the next day’s post, all outdoors while enjoying the gorgeous grounds and wildlife visitors playing in the vast expanse of green lawn, running in open spaces.

A lovely couple from South Africa took this photo of us together and we did the same with their camera. We had a great day, minus the low fuel level in the pink car.

With the dense bush here in Marloth Park, we hadn’t had an opportunity to see the Impalas leap through the air or the Zebras running fast as they played together as we dined on the included daily made to order breakfast.

Saturday morning, we checked out of the lodge after yet another chatty visit with the world traveling owner, Vicky, who’d graciously ensured that every aspect of our too-short stay at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge was pleasurable. 

Nearing our lodge the surrounding scenery continued to leave us in awe of the beautiful Blyde River Canyon.
A hazy day, we still had a great time seeing many of these majestic wonders in South Africa.

We’d only wished we’d had more time to relax at the lodge. During the candlelight outdoor dinner each night we were entertained by bushbabies flying about while we had the opportunity to unwind from yet another busy day. It was a heavenly day to say the least. All of it!

Tomorrow, we’ll share the cost of our three-day road trip, photos of the lodge, its lush surroundings, fabulous meals and service, and the wildlife that came to call including a mating zebra couple, a first for us to see. 

Feeling a little guilty…Though not too much…More photos tomorrow…

Today, on an exploring and invigorating walk, we found ourselves closer to the larger of the two clock towers, for a better view of the cemetery on the grounds of the church.

Sunday started out cool and sunny.  As the day progressed a warmth blanketed the area finally making it possible for us to lounge on the veranda without wearing excess clothing.  It’s been a week of cool, cloudy weather.

At noon, while outside preparing to make another video of the second clock tower, the one outside our bedroom window, Lisa, Luca and a friend appeared precisely at the moment as the tower was to begin its rhythmic 12 clangs, which we’d hope to catch for the video.  Their appearance interrupted the 12 clangs occurring only once during daylight hours (or not).

Our enchanting neighborhood, far removed from neighborhoods in the US and many other countries.  Our temporary home is next door to the clock tower in the upper right.  It was fun to see it from this vantage point.

Our goal was to post it yesterday, as we ultimately did unfortunately with less clangs, along with the louder and church bell tower that we’d first posted. 

After a series of several gracious “buon giourno” (good day) and a few fleeting “come stai?” (how are you?), they explained in Italian that they were here for the day to work on the gardens and the expansive yard.  We smiled, vigorously nodding in understanding.

This is no easy job.  With most of the yard consisting of a series of steep terraces, mowing and trimming is quite the daunting task.  Our rental contract clearly stated, we wouldn’t be responsible for any tasks other than cleaning up after ourselves on the interior of the house, sorting the garbage for recycling and doing our own sheets and laundry.

This view of the yard is from our kitchen window. When we arrived, this plant holder was filled with blooming flowers attracting tons of bees.  Both of us allergic to bees, plus with no screens on the windows as a safety precaution Tom moved the window box to the patio where the herb garden is located.  This allows us to enjoy having the kitchen window open, weather providing, although a few horse flies and bees made an appearance.

The stone floors stay clean with a sweeping every few days; the kitchen and bathrooms, we clean as we go; and soon, we’ll dust everything in sight which surprisingly collects minimal dust. We wash the limited supply of bath and kitchen towels every three days; sheets, once a week and our clothing as needed. That’s it. 

There’s no fixing, no repairing, no hardware store to visit returning with an array of little plastic bags filled with items we may never use that remain in the basement on a shelf to be discovered years later. Without any guilt-inducing tasks to be accomplished, nagging in one’s mind, life has taken on a new meaning. 

We don’t walk by the dotted paint spill on the stone floor and think, “Oh, when will we ever get that cleaned up?” Or, “When will we replace the broken lock on the guest room door?” How about never?

On Sunday, as we lounged on the veranda overlooking the gorgeous yard, the occasional sound of the weed whacker whirring, the shuffling of the broom as it swept at the hands of the ambitious homeowners, for a moment, only a moment, a wave of guilt washed over me. “Shouldn’t we be helping?”

Another view of the manicured grounds that extend far down the hill toward the road near the church.

No, we shouldn’t. It’s the way of our lives now. OPM, often referred to in business, as “other people’s money” now refers to “other people’s maintenance” in our lives. We like that. We like that a lot.

By 5:00 pm on Sunday, the three of them left, the grounds trim and deftly manicured to maintain the lush and green foliage enhanced by the recent rains.

The birds were singing their harmonious songs, the bells clanged periodically in their inconsistent manner while we had only to contemplate the preparation of yet another pleasant homemade dinner, most of which was already chopped and diced earlier this morning.  Washing dishes follow, to be left to dry overnight. 

More than the scenery. More than the historic buildings. More than the upfront experience of seeing that which we only read about in history books. More than the anticipation of the next adventure, s the simplicity.

The simplicity of these days, this summer, this place, this life.