Today, a social day and evening in the bush…

Wildebeest Willie has now become a regular visitor, stopping by a few times each day.

Today, at 4:00 pm, a small group of us will be meeting at one Marloth Park’s favorite Crocodile River overlooks, known at Two Tree for sundowners. Doing so, requires the participants bring lawn chairs. Without a single such chair in our bush home, we were able to borrow two chairs.

Linda and Ken, who will participate with us in the Two Trees gathering, have invited us for dinner following the event. No doubt, it will be a fun and entertaining late afternoon and evening. We so much appreciate being able to socialize after such a long dry spell months ago in India.

He doesn’t take a guff from the pushy warthogs who jockey for pellets.

It certainly has been a social dry spell for citizens throughout the world over the past 14 months since Covid-19 precipitated lockdowns in almost every country. At this point, we can’t help but wonder how safe the lessening of lockdown will impact the new cases of the virus as more and more private and public gatherings pick up the pace after all this time.

Surely, what’s transpiring in India now, with almost 400,000 new cases daily, has something to do with the lack of protective measures exercised by the masses of people attending political, social and religious gatherings. It saddens us, when we especially recall hotel guests wandering the corridors in the hotel in Mumbai, talking loudly and gathering in groups without wearing masks or social distancing.

Willie, in the morning shadows, drinking from the top section of the birdbath.

On several occasions, we were shocked by the hotel hosting weddings, conventions and other events with little regard for the risks of Covid-19. This mentality, obviously carried through the entire country and now, India is paying the price with these outrageous numbers of cases and subsequent deaths.

On the occasions where I went downstairs to pay the hotel bill, which later we had them bring the bill to us, again, I was shocked by the resistance to wearing masks, wearing masks properly and lack of social distancing. The hotel staff tried desperately to get the guests to comply to no avail.

Willie spends a lot of time staring at us, in an attempt to get us to give him more pellets.

But, the desperation by the privately owned hotel to recoup some of their losses prompted them to allow social events to transpire during the worst months of the pandemic which surely continued long after we left. Now, we wonder if the hotel, or any other hotels in India are still open for non-Covid guests.

Gosh, we’re grateful we were able to leave India. It’s so much safer here in Marloth Park. We often wonder about the accuracy of the stats here in South Africa when it appears cases are dropping at this point. And yet, just yesterday, we read a news article from what appears to be a reputable source, stating a potentially new lockdown on the horizon.

These two wildebeest were new to the garden, an adult and a younger male.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, the uncertainty during these times of Covid-19 is palpable for all of us. Many are frustrated over being unable to visit loved ones and many are missing traveling to their favorite locations. Of course, cruising has been out of the question and may continue to be so for a few more years to come.

Currently we have four cruises booked all the way to April 2022, most of which we expect will be canceled. One of our cruises will require a payment in full in July which is scheduled to set sail in November, 2021. We feel compelled to pay the final payment since we got such a great price on it, which is now priced 50% higher. So, just in case, it isn’t canceled, we’ll pay the final payment to lock in our price. It’s all up in the air.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks for hanging in there with us during these peculiar times. Hopefully, as restrictions lessen, (or not) we can still provide ample fodder to please our readers.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2020:

Tom and I at Amazing River View in October 2018, when friends Lois and Tom were visiting for three weeks. For more photos, please click here.

We didn’t come all this way to leave and not get back in..

Check out Torn Ear’s horns covered in mud. He may have been showing off his digging skills for the females during the rutting season.

Flight schedules are changing rapidly. We watch for information daily noting any changes. A friend in the US, planning on coming to South Africa in a few weeks, found his flight was canceled. Will he be able to rebook another flight? It’s hard to say if these types of scenarios will impact us going forward..

But, we stay well informed of the issues. We’re also aware that wherever we may go, if we have to leave on June 30th for a visa stamp, we may not be able to get back into South Africa. We experienced this when we were in India. It may not be any different in the next almost two months, when on June 30th, we have to hightail out of South Africa for a visa stamp.

We still have a booked flight to the US on June 30th but most likely we’ll change it unless we have no choice but to return due to Covid-19 conditions worldwide.

Handsome male impala.

As we’ve reiterated, we do not want to travel the outrageous distance to the US, with flights and layovers lasting over 24 hours. At this point, with Covid-19 still raging throughout the world, we don’t want to take the risk. It’s possible, but unlikely, we’ll have been able to get the vaccine here in South Africa by June 30th.

But, even so, with the vaccine, it appears there are still risks associated with Covid-19. The question becomes, do we want to take those risks on such a long travel day and then, risk not being able to get back into South Africa?

Two male wildebeest stopped by for pellets.

When we think of and discuss what we went through to get out of India unscathed, for which we are very grateful, based on what’s happening in India now with almost 400,000 new cases a day, we don’t want to be in a similar position once again, filled with a sense of uncertainty coupled with a degree of apprehension and fear.

In general, the uncertainty of travel leaves us in a precarious position. We don’t want to “throw in the towel” and give up this life we’ve become so accustomed to, which has brought us great joy and contentment. Even now that the 10 months in lockdown in India ended almost four months ago, we don’t feel traumatized by that experience. We learned a lot about ourselves, one another and us as a couple, a knowledge we will carry with us into the future.

Another male impala watching the action in the garden.

As we consider that we spent those 10 months in that hotel room in Mumbai, it’s difficult to comprehend that those 10 months constituted 9.9% of the entire time we’ve been traveling the world. However, like all of our experiences, good and bad, we have incorporated them into the realm of our full experience and to date, we have no regrets.

When we embarked on this journey on October 31, 2012, we didn’t consider it would be easy. But anyone can look back at their prior nine years and surely there have been “ups and downs.” That’s the nature of life itself. Some of the hardships and heartbreaks we’ve experienced during this time, would have presented themselves, regardless of where we lived at any given moment.

He stayed around for quite a while looking for pellets.

It’s been no harder, nor any easier for us than for anyone: sorrow, illness, loss of loved ones, and substantial unexpected expenses, Covid-19 hasn’t made it easier for any of us. And yet, we as a race, as humans, strive to make our way through these difficult times with grace, with dignity and with compassion.

And, we can’t forget gratefulness. For those of us who by chance or not, have escaped becoming deathly ill from the virus, gratefulness must remain our state of being, to get us through this next phase, whatever that may be. None of us knows what the future holds. We can only speculate based on historical data, speculation and our personal beliefs.

Tiny and Mrs. Tiny nose to nose, kissing while Lonely Boy is looking on.

Ultimately, we carry on, with love, and hope in our hearts that our family members, friends, and readers stay safe; free from illness, free from harm and free from the many dangers facing us in these precarious times. Upon reflection, sometimes it feels as if we are living in a dystopian movie. At times, none of this seems real. On occasion, we shake our heads in dire wonder if this is really our world today. Sadly, dear readers, it is.

We’d hoped to go to Kruger National Park today but, it was so busy in the garden with dozens of visitors, we decided to wait until another day.

May we all stay strong, healthy and in touch with our surroundings.

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2020:

Giraffes in the bush in the neighborhood. For more, please click here.

An important message from a dear reader…

This is One Wart. As shown, he only has one wart on the left side of his face and none on the right. Hence, his name.

Pam, a longtime reader of our site, wrote:

“Was thinking of you and Tom today after watching the tragic news on the Covid-19 situation in India. I’m so glad you were able to leave when you did! I was just amazed at your skill in arranging those flights just at the right time while there was that small window of opportunity. I attached a brief news clip showing the 5-star hotels in Mumbai that are being used for Covid patients. Who knows if the hotel you were in would have been next? What an unsettling thought, but thankfully that is all behind you now.”

Here is the link to the video Pam attached to her email message https://youtu.be/FmqFTIJ-Uxk.

Wildebeest Willie in the garden.

No doubt, the Covid-19 news from India, which we’ve followed since we left over three months ago is disheartening and alarming, not only for the Indian people but for all of the world. Will this hotbed of Covid keep the world from ever recovering? It’s hard to say. Even scientific and medical experts aren’t able to predict!

Thank you, Pam, for writing and your kind and thoughtful message. It wasn’t so much skill that got us out of India when we did. It was totally based on the sheer terror of what was yet to come, which proved to be a huge motivator. When each day we spotted dozens of guests in the corridors, talking loudly in close proximity groups, not wearing masks or social distancing while continuing to have parties and weddings at the hotel, we knew India was in big trouble.

A number of impalas stopped by, all the while “barking” over the pellets.

When I left the hotel midway through our stay to go to an ATM with the hotel’s driver, the numbers of people in the streets, in crowds, in groups and entering shops without masks or social distancing, it was easy to see, there was no way, their previously low numbers of cases and deaths would ultimately last.

Statistics, such as those shown in the Covid-19 world tracker, Worldometer, found here with over 319,000 new cases yesterday, far surpassing any country’s number of cases in one day, are alarming. Sure, India has almost 1.4 billion people, four times the population of the US, for example, which had 47,456 new cases yesterday, still an outrageously high number.

Impalas are skittish around humans. Thus, I took this photo while seated or they’d have run off if I’d stood.

It’s also easy to surmise that India’s numbers aren’t as accurate as many other countries, with their medical infrastructure rapidly failing due to a serious lack of support equipment, staff, and space for victims. Now, they are housing non-ICU patients in hotels when hospitals are full of ICU patients, dying from lack of available sources of oxygen and medicines.

Yes, this is morbid and surely considered to be less than ideal fodder for our post. But, as upbeat as we strive to be, we can’t and won’t put our heads in the sand and deny what is transpiring in the country from whence we came only a few months ago where we spent over one year of our eight years of world travel. Our hearts are breaking for those patients, their families, and the  overwhelmed medical professionals.

Kudus are used to hanging around with impalas and they all get along well.

We can only hope that other countries with surplus supplies can continue to step in and help. We read this article regarding participation by other countries in providing supplies and aid to India. How do you vaccinate 1.4 billion people? How many cases aren’t being reported? How do you treat millions currently in the throes of the virus? It’s heartwrenching.

Yes, dear reader Jan, thank you for writing to us. No words can express how grateful we are to have been able to leave India and now be in this paradise-like environment, relatively safe from the virus if we remain diligent, Now, we are on a list of 500,000 in South Africa who have signed up for the vaccine. But, with a population of 58.6 million that a half million is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s less than 1%.

There’s a warthog in almost every shot, hoping to steal pellets from others.

Any speculation by “experts” that this pandemic may be over in 2022 or 2023 is deluding themselves. Each and every one of us can choose to take responsibility for doing our part to stay safe as we possibly can, even after receiving a vaccine, even after having had the virus, even after taking every possible precaution we can muster.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and pray along with us for the world’s recovery.

Photo from one year ago today, April 27, 2020:

These tropical island musicians and dancers greeted us in Noumea, New Caledonia. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Is this enough?…

Big Daddies in the garden, getting along well with a female while they eat pellets.

A few days ago, Tom asked me, “Are you bored or antsy?” Is this enough?”

I giggled when I answered. “With the world still in some form of lockdown or another, there is nowhere I’d rather be.”

Without question, I have a short attention span and can easily become bored or antsy. Throughout my life, I’ve learned to find ways to entertain myself to avoid boredom or discontent. As Tom and I have discussed on many occasions, if we were living in a condo somewhere right now, waiting out the hopeful end of the pandemic, I could easily be climbing the walls in search of mental stimulation. He doesn’t experience such an issue.

Helmeted Guinea-fowls stopped for another visit. Their chicks are getting big but no blue heads quite yet.

How in the world did I ever maintain my sanity during the 10 months in that awful lockdown in India? The only way it was possible was to develop a consistent routine and stick to it. This may sound counterproductive. But, in that peculiar situation, the routine saved me; the daily posts, the 8 km walk in the corridors, working on the new website along with endless hours in research on many of my favorite topics.

Another shot of guinea-fowls and chicks.

Tom was content to be on his laptop researching ancestry.com and other websites that appeal to him. We both enjoyed when it was 3:00 pm, when we began streaming favorite series with multiple seasons. That time wrapped in mindless drivel helped us both so much. We don’t need to do that now, although we may stream a few shows when we go to bed.

Of course, being with Tom helps me considerably. He constantly makes me laugh and brings up topics he knows I’ll enjoy contemplating and discussing. We never run out of conversation. Even here in Marloth Park, we’ve developed a routine that only adds to our sense of fulfillment and lack of boredom.

Mongoose waiting for Tom to come out with a pan of scrambled eggs.

As it turns out, we do most of our chatting in the late afternoon when we may decide to have a beverage, referred to as “sundowners” here in South Africa. These may be iced tea, hot tea, or a glass of wine for me or a cocktail for Tom, depending on what feels right at the moment.

Tom lights the various citronella candles and coils to keep the mosquitos at bay while I put last-minute touches on what we’ll be having for dinner. Then, for the first time all day, we totally relax and unwind, engaged in lively chatter, sharing thoughts, dreams, and hopes for the future.

This is our boy, Torn Ear. Enlarge the photo to see his left ear is torn.

Often, we relive travel experiences of the past almost nine years of world travel. At times, we look at old posts and recall the magic moments along the way. It’s never dull. It’s never boring. At other times, we discuss plans for the future. Right now, we consider where we’ll go when our visa stamps are needed by June 30th. At times, we grab my phone and look up the Covid-19 restrictions for various countries which may change daily.

Little and guinea-fowl, getting along nicely.

Then, of course, we have the exquisite opportunity to engage with the wildlife that enters the garden throughout the evening. Regardless of the fact that most wildlife comes to visit us for the pellets or whatever species-appropriate morsels we may have to offer, we can’t help but consider they may be visiting since it “fun” here. We can dream, can’t we?

The concept of living in the moment and dreaming of the future seems to work for us. We can’t help but embrace both of these.  It was through that belief that got us both through those challenges 10 months in India and now, more than ever, we appreciate our sheer determination to get out of India, just in time when Covid-19 has grown to horrific levels.

Big Daddy, politely sharing pellets with the girls.

Need I say, how grateful we are? Never a day passes that we don’t take time to reiterate how happy we are to be here, leaving no thoughts or time for boredom.

It’s always wonderful to see them all sharing the pellets as opposed to headbutting.

Stay safe and continue to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

Photo from one year ago today, April 26, 2020:

Two Big Daddies head butting for dominance. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Tom’s vaccine registration went through…Mine did not…Good food, striving for good health…

Such cute little creatures who manage to kill venomous snakes.

After using Louise‘s phone number yesterday to re-register Tom and me for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, Louise received a confirmation for Tom’s registration. However, she did not receive one for me. When 24 hours soon pass, once again, I will re-register.

Obviously, we won’t be getting the vaccine on the same date and time or even the same locations, which I expect has been the case for couples all over the world. We’re anticipating the jabs will transpire in Komatipoort or Malalane, the closest two cities to Marloth Park. We’ll see how and when this rolls out.

Mongoose clamoring for the raw scrambled eggs in the pan.

I’ve been in communication with friends Linda and Ken in Johannesburg who also signed up the day after we did. They have already re-registered once and may have to do so again when neither of them has received the confirmation text to their South Africa phone numbers. Go figure.

Today is another glorious day, comfortable without clouds or humidity. When I was up and dressed I began cooking a few things; one, a large egg and cheese sausage casserole which is a great staple for us when hunger hits, and the other, part of my dinner tonight, liver.

Mongoose lined up eating from the pan of eggs.

Tom will be having pork chops on the braai, which I am not a big fan of but he really enjoys. Of course, he would never consider trying liver when the smell alone makes him cringe. It’s not unusual for us to eat different protein sources at any given meal. He loves having white rice with each dinner, but due to the high carb count, rice doesn’t work for me. Most likely I’ll have a slice of the egg casserole with the liver, a nice combination.

I don’t miss eating vegetables at all when my blood pressure and blood sugar numbers are normal  (without medication) for the first time in 30 years and my years-long stomach ache is totally gone. Who knew this would happen? I never expected vegetables to be an issue for me. But, everyone is different and what has worked for me, may not work for others.

After they finish the eggs, they stare at us wanting more.

It’s odd, but I don’t enjoy cooking as much as I did in years past. The sooner I can get out of the kitchen, the better. In the past, I could spend several hours a day chopping and dicing and preparing entrees and side dishes, Now, with our new way of eating since we arrived in South Africa over three months ago, the most time I ever spend in the kitchen is no more than 30 minutes and yet, we’re thoroughly our meals.

At most, we eat two meals a day, but more often only one. Lately, Tom’s been having a slice of the egg casserole in the morning, but I’m rarely hungry until at least 18 to 20 hours since my last meal when I may have something to hold me until dinner.

Warthog males, often groom one another, even when they aren’t specifically “friends.”

A few days ago, when Louise headed to Nelspruit to shop, she picked up eight packages of delicious trout salmon for me. They are 200 grams, 7 ounces and I’ve been capping off my dinner with a 100 gram, 3½ ounce serving with a dollop of cream cheese. It’s almost as good as a dessert.

While in India all those months, we lost our taste for sweets, and no longer do I bake low-carb desserts, bread, or muffins. In each of these cases, the carb count was simply too high for me to maintain my normal levels of blood pressure and blood sugar. If either of us craves something after dinner, a few slices of quality cheese will do the trick.

We call him “Medium Daddy,” not quite a Big Daddy yet.

We both feel better, our weight is easily controlled without effort and we’re still able to enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail at our leisure. Of course, I only drink small amounts of low sugar/low alcohol red wine and Tom has his brandy with Sprite Zero.

I am still working out on the rented treadmill, but have changed my routine now to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) every three days as opposed to just fast walking on the treadmill. I hesitated to do my old familiar HIIT workout since I had heart surgery over two years ago.

This hornbill stopped by for some seeds but didn’t stay long.

But my fitness level is such that I feel comfortable working out this way again. I continue to monitor my heart rate in the process, using the following as a guide for my maximum heart rate. I don’t experience feeling light-headed, out of breath, or any pain or discomfort during or after the workout. My resting heart rate is 58, blood pressure is usually around 110/68, without medication.

As for today, we’re totally engaged with all of our visitors. We just gave a pan of raw scrambled eggs to about 40 mongoose, endless pellets to visiting warthogs, kudus, and bushbucks, and of course, fresh water in a little container and seeds for Frank and The Misses who stop by several times a day. Life in the bush is great!

Be well.

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

Closeup of a hippo’s face. Charming. For more photos from the year-ago post please click here.

Wonderful evening with friends…More socializing ramping up soon…

Tom opened the side burner lid of the braai to find this frog residing in there. He moved her to a safer location before using the burner to heat water for coffee when the power was out.

With friends, Rita and Gerhard arriving in Marloth Park in less than a month and friends Don and Kathy arriving respectively in June and July, our social life will certainly be ramping up over the next several months. Covid-19 certainly has taken its toll on social activities since we arrived almost three months ago and we’re looking forward to the change.

As always, we’ve had loads of good times with Louise and Danie and last night was no exception. We so much love spending time with them and never miss an opportunity to do so. Last night was no exception. We all sat outside on the veranda until 10:00 pm entrenched in lively conversation with many stories to share, making it difficult to end the night.

A few hours later we spotted her sitting atop the edge of the extra tank of gas for the braai.

As it turned out we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and as I often do, I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to return to sleep. Finally, after a few hours, I drifted off and slept until 10:15 am, something I never do. By the time I showered and dressed, and tidied up a bit, it felt as if half the day had passed. It was 11:00 am by the time I finally made my coffee.

Now, with two male bushbucks in the garden, while Frank dines on his seeds on the veranda, it’s fairly hot with the sun shining and high humidity. Tom did all the dishes last night and put everything away this morning. I’ve washed and hung two loads of laundry on the indoor clothes rack. With plenty of leftovers, today will be an easy day.

Ms. Bushbuck was wondering if pellets were coming her way. She wasn’t disappointed.

My only task is getting today’s post uploaded. While in India, I spent the better part of each day going through old posts and making much-needed corrections, I haven’t done any more of these since we arrived in South Africa. I must admit that I’m having a hard time getting back to this daunting task when doing so reminds me of sitting in that hotel room for 10 months in India.

At some point, I will get back to it. At this point, I don’t feel like putting any pressure on myself to get back to this. It’s an amazing feeling to feel unencumbered and free until we have to decide again by June 30th, where we’ll go if President Ramaphosa doesn’t extend visas again for another 90 days, which we’re hoping. It all depends on the scope of Covid-19 at that time. During this pandemic, everything can change on a dime.

We were happy to see bushbuck Torn Ear return to the garden.

We’ve decided to wait until the last minute to make a decision. So far, vaccine distribution is extremely poor in South Africa as cases continue to rise. At some point, if we ever want to cruise again, we will have to return to the US for the vaccine since the likelihood of getting it here is remote.

After careful consideration, most likely we’ll return to our state of residency, Nevada first, get the vaccine, and then head to Minnesota to visit family. But, right now, after checking the availability of the vaccine in Nevada, appointments also appear to be impossible to book. We simply have to wait it out.

Two adorable females. The lower jaw of a buckbuck gyrates in a circular motion when chewing pellets.

Today will be a quiet day, which is always easy to enjoy in the bush. The sights and sounds of nature continue to provide us with considerable entertainment and curiosity. Several times each day, we investigate the facts surrounding some type of sighting or another that happens to appear before us. Each day, in its own way, is a new day rich in experience, full of wonder.

Tomorrow morning, after Tom has the rental car washed, we’ll head to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to return the car we currently have and pick up the next one. It will be about a four-hour turnaround plus any additional time we may spend stopping to shop in Malelane. We’ll certainly make the most out of the outing, later returning to Marloth Park, happy to be back in our favorite place.

Have a fantastic day filled with wonders.

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2020:

Six years ago today, the drive on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Serious travel dilemma…What shall we do?…

Narrow and The Imposter, who imitates Tiny, but Tiny overpowers him, hence the name.

As we approached the seven-day countdown of leaving Marloth Park, we’ve encountered a serious problem. After spending hours online, we cannot find a location in Minnesota where we can get the Covid-19 vaccine, including any-type let alone the Johnson and Johnson single dose, which we’d prefer, that we’ve heard is more effective against the South African variants.

Peter, Paul, and Mary visit us often.

Since Minnesota recently opened up the vaccine for those over 16 years old, including seniors, we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the vaccine when we arrived in Minnesota. It looks a little easier in Nevada but that doesn’t help us for the time we’d hoped to spend with family in Minnesota.

Plus, we noticed that Covid tests in the US are US $385, ZAR 5664, per person since we don’t have US insurance. We only have international insurance, which won’t pay in the US. We’d hoped to get tested every few days while in Minnesota visiting family. We’d also hoped to get the vaccine and be tested every few days to be safe when visiting family. But at these prices, it makes no sense to get tested three times a week. That’s outrageous!

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit.

After checking dozens of sites with varying information, we found that the best time to book appointments in Minnesota is between midnight and 4:00 am, their time. This morning, we bolted out of bed in plenty of time to begin the search during their suggested time frame based on the time difference. Nothing was available anywhere in Minnesota

Some sites stated that appointments aren’t booking out any further than April 7th, but even in that case, no appointments were available for any upcoming dates. It’s not looking good.

Encountering giraffes on our way to Jabula for dinner.

Our concerns about infecting our family and/or being quarantined for 10 days after we arrive, make this a very difficult scenario. We’d only planned to stay for 15 days. We are in a tough situation. Many of Tom’s family members, whom we’d see, the majority of which are in their 80s and 90s years. We cannot risk infecting them or even other family members.

Of course, our risks of getting the virus are exponentially higher after traveling for 37 hours, spending over 12 hours waiting in airports, and the remainder of the time spent in flight than one would spend during a one-leg flight. When we arrived in South Africa on January 13th, we’d spent 59 hours in transit.

Zebras prefer to drink from the pool as opposed to the birdbath.

We’d hoped to visit Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, who is a nun in a nursing home, in Milwaukee during our stay. Now, that is entirely off the table. Also, Tom’s eldest brother Jerome is in a nursing facility and the same requirements for visitors are in place. We’d be unable to visit either of these siblings, let alone the others who, as mentioned, are senior citizens as well.

Sure, we should have done more research before booking a return to the US. But, who knew we wouldn’t be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine and also have no choice but to pay these outrageous sums for frequent tests. A test here in South Africa is US $50, ZAR 735.

Tiny, searching along the perimeter of the garden for a possible stray pellet.

Of course, we are in a quandary, unsure, at this point of our next step. We will report back tomorrow, which, by then, definitively, we will have made a more comprehensive decision, safe for all of our family members and ourselves.

These are times of Covid-19. Everything we knew is different than in our old lives. We must proceed with caution and concern for others and for ourselves. As for the visa issue, we are less concerned in that area. The South Africa immigration department has extended all recent visas to June 30, 2021. But, that wouldn’t be an issue beneficial to us since our intent has been to get the vaccine in Minnesota and see family.

Please check back tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2020:

There was always a chicken on the beach in Kauai. For more year ago photos, please click here.

The countdown has begun…10 days and we’re off on our big change of plans…

An oxpecker on the back of a young male kudu, eating the bugs and debris off his body.

Yesterday was a highly accomplished day for a Sunday. Then again, any day of the week is a day that may require us to “pull up our bootstraps” to figure out a solution to an imminent situation, such as we encountered regarding the new lockdown in Kenya, which started on Friday, preventing us from going on our planned and paid trip to Little Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara.

If you missed yesterday’s post with the details, here is the link.

It was quite a daunting task, undoing all the bookings for Kenya and creating new bookings for the USA. But now we feel at ease that we’ve got a handle on it.  Now, we wait for refunds and credits to be applied to our credit card. In all, we discovered we’ll lose a total of US $400, ZAR 6007 from the Kenya online Kenyan visa, and cancellation fees of US $100, ZAR 1502 per traveler for canceling the flight with Kenya Airways.

Mr. Young Kuda staring at himself in the glass window to the second bedroom.

Many of the credits will take 30 days to process. At this point, we have the cash layout for the expensive Kenya trip and the upcoming trip to the US. We look forward to all of the credits coming through soon.

This morning we visited Louise to explain our situation. Since it makes no sense to pay for two holiday rentals simultaneously, we have no choice but to totally clear out of this house, leaving it available for Louise to rent it to other potential tourists, while we’re away, especially when our return date is uncertain at this point.

Overall, we anticipate we will return in approximately six weeks from our arrival on April 10, 2021, which would take us to the end of May at the latest. We can only speculate at this point. As soon as we know more, we’ll let Louise know what date we’ll be returning.

More kudus with oxpeckers on their backs.

Last night we informed our kids and grandchildren that we’ll be coming and they, along with us, are enthused for our return. It will be wonderful to see all of them once again after the long haul in India. It will be around 18 months since we were in the US to see everyone, so the timing is perfect.

Next week, we’ll start packing. We’ll only bring a minimal amount of clothing and supplies with us, especially since we’ll need room in our luggage for the items we’ll be picking up at our mailing service in Las Vegas. We’re certainly grateful, we didn’t pay the huge fees to send that package to us plus the associated hassle with insurance and customs fees.

We’ve decided to go to Nevada at the end of our US stay so we won’t have to haul around the extra 20 pounds, 9 kg, paying for overweight luggage while flying in the US. We’ll fly back to South Africa from Las Vegas, when at that point, it will be an international flight, allowing more weight in our bags.

Medium Daddy waits while Tom refills the pellet container.

The packing will be challenging, separating what we’ll need for the US with varying weather conditions in each location and what we’ll leave behind in South Africa. But, as always, we’ll figure it out. Most likely, while in the US we’ll purchase some new clothing for both of us. We each need a number of items which we can only find there.

For now, we’ll continue to enjoy our bush home and the dozen or so warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, and wildebeest who’ve become very familiar to us and us to them. Mostly, I’m concerned about Frank and The Misses who’ve really enjoyed eating the seeds we’ve offered several times a day.

Surely, none of them will starve without our constant supply of pellets and seeds. The vegetation is lush and green and most likely they’ll visit other houses for treats such as those we offer. Once we return, within a few weeks, they’ll all be back. For Frank and The Misses, they find berries, seeds, and bugs readily available in the park. Hopefully, they’ll remain in this territory while we’re gone.

We’ve done an inventory of how much food we have left. If we head to Komati tomorrow for a few odds and ends, we won’t need to purchase any more groceries before we depart. Louise will give us a plastic tote to store our non-perishable food items and of course, they will store that along with the baggage we’re leaving behind when we depart Marloth Park in 10 days to head to Nelspruit for an overnight stay for the next day’s long journey ahead.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2020:

The casual dining room where we had breakfast and dinner the first few weeks in the hotel in Mumbai, India. A few weeks later they closed the restaurant and started serving us room service only. It was a long 10 months. For more, please click here.

Oh, oh, alarming news!…Everything could change!…

Bossy in the garden, posing for a photo.

Last night while out to dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, having our usual great time, commiserating with owners Dawn and Leon, and other guests, and also savoring a predictably fabulous dinner, I heard a notification ding on my phone. Although I have only a few app notifications set up to alert me, I took a peek to find this article:

“Kenya imposes new lockdown – What are the restrictions?

Kenya has imposed a new lockdown to combat a surge in coronavirus infections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a ban on all inland travel in the capital Nairobi and out four other counties.

Kenya’s Covid-19 positivity rate has jumped from 2% to 22% between January and March and Nairobi accounts for nearly 60% of the cases- Kenyatta said that hospital admissions had increased 52% in the past two weeks and that at least seven people are dying every day from coronavirus.

This is Tiny searching in the garden for more pellets. He has a tendency to scare off all of the other animals.

What do the new measures mean?

No road, rail, or air transport will be permitted in Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos, and Nakuru.

In-person, meetings will also be banned.

As for curfew, hours now start at 20:00 until 04:00 am (instead of 22:00 until 04:00 am`) in the five counties. Special passes that allowed people to travel during curfew hours have also been revoked.

Alcohol sales in the areas have also been banned and restaurants can only provide takeaway services.

The president also ordered “an immediate suspension of all face-to-face teaching, which includes universities”, with the exception of students currently taking exams.

Kenya reopened its schools and colleges in early January, which had been closed for ten months.

All sporting events are also suspended.

International travel is permitted, but subject to a negative coronavirus test.

The new measures begin on Friday at midnight.

These two warthogs are Narrow and The Imposter. A brave impala invaded the scene.

Coronavirus in Kenya

This week Kenya recorded between 1,000 and 1,500 cases per day.

“According to our health experts, our third wave started to gain strength in early March,” said Kenyatta.

The peak of this wave is expected in the next 30 days, with more than 2,500 to 3,000 cases per day,” he added.

Recognizing the impact these decisions will have on the economy, Kenyatta added that these “measures are temporary and necessary to contain the spread of the disease and therefore to stop further loss of life.”

“I am convinced that the cost of inaction would be much worse,” he said

At least it says that international travel is still allowed but the question becomes;  Will Little Governor’s Camp still be able to serve guests when restaurants and bars must be closed? A big part of the charm of the camp is the frequent arrival of elephants to the restaurant during mealtime.

This is Bossy and an unknown kudu. She usually waits for us in the driveway or the garden when we go out at night.

Will we, as guests, want a takeaway meal when part of the safari experience is delightful meal times, socialization, and good food, all of which are factored into the high daily cost. Would we even want to go if that’s the case? Probably not.

This morning, Saturday, I called two phone numbers for Little Governor’s Camp, but no management staff was available to answer our questions. Also, in both cases, the staff members answering the phones stated that on Monday, more news will be reported and they’ll know more about the restrictions and how they will impact the camp and the camp’s guests.

So what is Plan B, if, in fact, we cannot go on this planned adventure? I’m assuming we’ll be able to get a refund for the camp and flights. It will be trickier to get refunds for the flights, but in light of Covid, we may not have a problem. We can easily cancel all of the hotel bookings without an issue since they all had free cancellation policies. I’m not certain if we’ll be able to get a refund on the flights to and from Nelspruit to Johannesburg and back, which were booked separately, We shall see.

But, all of this hinges on what we find out on Monday or even as late as Tuesday. If we don’t go, we won’t have time to plan and book a trip to another location, apply for an online visa, etc. Honestly, neither of us feels like going through that again right now. Our only option with our South Africa visas expiring on April 12th, we’ll have no choice but to return to the US for a short stay.

Such a handsome male bushbuck.

In doing so, we’ll stay long enough to get our Covid-19 vaccines and then head back here. Depending on which vaccines we can arrange, we may be gone a month or more. It is during this time, we’ll see our family and take care of any business we need to address. We’ll go to Minnesota to see part of the family and then head to our state of residence, Nevada, where we’ll see eldest son Richard.

Once again, our lives are up-in-the-air due to Covid, uncertain of what the immediate future holds. At this point, neither of us is losing any sleep over this and will wait patiently for what transpires next week. We knew at some point, we’d have to return to the US to get the vaccine.

With upcoming cruises on the distant horizon and requirements for vaccines for all cruises, this may be as good a time as any to get it done. The likelihood of us getting a vaccine in South Africa is unlikely in the next few years. We’ll certainly keep you well-informed of the situation as it rolls out.

Note: In the past few minutes we received an email from Little Governor’s Camp. They are holding a managers meeting this afternoon to decide if they will close during the 60 day lockdown period or if they will stay open. We will report the results in tomorrow’s post.

Have a peaceful and fulfilling day, dear readers.

Photo from one year ago today, March 27, 2020:

Beautiful statue at the beach in Pondicherry. For more photos, please click here.

It’s been a long and hard year for all of us…

The mongoose went on a frenzy taking the whole eggs out of the pan, cracking them on rocks, and eating the contents.

It’s easy to sit here in relative bliss in the bush, reveling in the endless treasures Mother Nature doles out day after day, combined with a pleasing social life, financial stability, and hopefully, improving good health. Tom takes no prescription medication and I’m down to two little tablets a day plus a baby aspirin and a small handful of supplements recommended as useful during the pandemic.

There’s little reason for us to worry or feel stressed. Sure, we’re concerned about the safety of leaving for Kenya in a mere 13 days and if we’ll be able to continue to avoid contracting Covid during the upcoming travel days and proximity to others on game drives.

Sure, we’re thinking about how we’ll be able to be vaccinated when more and more travel venues are requiring vaccinations to be able to cruise, fly, and use other means of transportation. But, this type of concern is no different from the concerns of many who are anxious to get back out there and travel once again. It’s been a hard year for all of us.

This morning’s mongoose mania in the garden. Tiny is in the background. He wasn’t thrilled to see the mongoose and headed out into the bush and waited for them to eventually leave.

When we look back at the past year, which is hard to avoid, my heart is heavy over the loss of my dear sister Susan in August 2020, with whom I shared a lifetime bond that was precious and meaningful. Through all these years of world travel, we spoke frequently, often every week, sharing stories, laughing, and dreaming for the future. I miss her.

Three other family members contracted Covid-19 and their recovery was frightening and worrisome. My other sister Julie still suffers from “long-haul” Covid symptoms. No doubt, many of you have lost loved ones and friends during the pandemic, leaving each of us saddened and heartbroken over the ravages of this relentless virus.

During that 10 months in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, it was easy to let my mind play tricks on me when even the slightest pain or discomfort made me concerned about how I’d be able to see a doctor with the poor conditions in India. It wasn’t safe to go out when doctors weren’t seeing patients, other than those with Covid in special facilities, often in a makeshift parking lot or tented areas.

The mongooses also like to drink out of the birdbath’s lower section. It’s comforting to be providing clean water for our visitors.

Most heart surgery patients are particularly sensitive about a moment of chest pain, breathlessness, or other potential heart attack or stroke symptoms. I’m no exception. It only takes a slight case of indigestion to make us worry it’s something more. Even at times, when Tom had an ache or pain, we wondered what we’d do, if seeing a doctor was necessary. Need I say, these situations were stressful.

The thought that I had an abscessed tooth weighed heavily on me during that period, wondering how serious it could get if left untreated for too long. As it turned out, as mentioned in a prior post, it wasn’t an abscess. It was a sinus infection or allergy as determined by a recent visit to a well-regarded oral surgeon in Malelane.

Then, there was the worry during the first five or six months that the hotel would close and we’d have nowhere to go. When our supplies ran low, we ordered a package of items from the US, which we couldn’t buy in India, only to spend months attempting to get the package delivered to us at the hotel, via FedEx.

The mongoose quickly gathered around the pan of whole eggs Tom placed on the ground. Also, we give them scraps of meat and fat since they are omnivores.

It was a nightmare when India had endless requirements with complicated forms and documents to complete in order to receive a package. It was a source of worry for months and especially, more so when we had to pay almost US $300, ZAR 4499, in customs fees.

Without a doubt, the circumstances could have been much worse. However, we humans may think that a situation could be more challenging, but find ourselves caught up in the situation at hand. It doesn’t help a person who’s broken their leg to say, “Well, you could have lost your leg.” It’s no different if someone said to me, “Get over the bites that itch all night long and keep you awake. You could have been bitten by a snake.” Everything is relative.

When we think of all the people who’ve lost their jobs, their businesses, their financial security, their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, we are saddened. None of us have been untouched by this in one way or another. These are difficult times.

This Mr. Bushbuck has longer horns than some males.

Today, not necessarily a special day, we reflect on the past year and celebrate the abundance and fulfillment we’re experiencing now. But, we’ll never forget this past year, nor should we. It’s a frame of reference that will always remind us to be grateful for what we have and how we’ve come out on the other side.

No, it’s not over yet, and the future is uncertain and frightening at times, but we carry on with hope in our hearts and optimism for the future.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2020:

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks earlier, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Later, in lockdown in Mumbai, it starting to look appetizing to both of us. For more, please click here.