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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the green snake atop the post by the pool?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be well.

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

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

A little life is fading away…

Hoppy is trying to eat a little but is not thriving like the other piglets. The hair on her back stands up as a sign of defense since I stood nearby to take this photo.

There are no words to describe how sad it is to watch precious little warthog Hoppy slowly lose her life. Her mom brings her and her two siblings to see us at least once daily. But Hoppy’s broken leg prevents her from thriving, and she is losing weight and drifting away. Now, when they visit, she nuzzles the remnants of the lucerne into a little bed she makes for herself using her snout.

She no longer stands to eat pellets, even if we toss them near her. When it’s time to go after they stay for an hour or more; she hops along on her three legs, unable to put any pressure on her right front leg. It’s swollen. There is nothing the rangers can do. Some animals may be treated, such as bushbucks and other animals. In the wild, nature takes its course, however sad it may be.

Warthogs may proliferate with three or four piglets each season, while bushbucks, kudus, duikers, wildebeests, zebras, and others generally only have one offspring per season. As a result, less money is allocated to treat injured and ill warthogs, which, as you’ve seen in our past posts, often fall prey to severe injuries.

Hoppy doesn’t have much chance of survival with this severe leg injury. We don’t know how much longer she’ll be able to keep up with her mom and siblings.

Warthog’s protective nature of protecting their young, and their territory, coupled with their often feisty personalities, lead them to be easy targets for other prey, including lions and leopards, as illustrated a few days ago in this post. These types of injuries are hard to see when we have a particular affinity for warthogs with their intelligent and humorous nature.

But, Hoppy? What happened there? It’s unlikely it was an injury. The newborn’s bones are flexible, and it’s doubtful she incurred this severe injury after we saw her within hours of her birth when mom and babies stopped by, and we observed the leg problem immediately.

With all the inbreeding in wildlife in Marloth Park, other areas, and national parks, it’s possibly a congenital disability, but it could quickly have occurred during birth. We’ll never know for sure, but in the interim, we’re watching a fast path to her demise, which, based on how she is moaning when she lays in the lucerne, we expect it won’t be too long. She’s withering away.

On the right is the mom we called Wounded, who was attacked by a leopard or lion. She likely won’t survive either, although her injury looks a little better, as shown in the photo below.

We know that one day soon, her mom will arrive with only two piglets, and then we will know….unless she passes during the hour or two, they are in our garden each day. Yes, I know the words people always say., “It’s the nature of wildlife,” with the same logical sense that accompanies life in the wild.

The great joy of spending our days and nights in the bush leaves a propensity to feel deeply for these animals. It’s unavoidable. But, in this environment, unique from anything else we’ve ever known, it’s easy to become attached in a way similar to falling in love with a puppy in only a few days.

Last night, we canceled our reservation at Jabula and stayed home. I wasn’t up to going out again. One of the medications I am taking causes me to be sleepy, and I didn’t have the steam to go out. We took out a container of leftover stir-fry with fried rice for Tom, and I made a salad to go with us. We had a nice dinner in the dining room. Since the insects were so awful outdoors, we had no choice but to eat indoors.

Wounded’s injury still looks awful, and she will not survive when sepsis sets in.

This morning, when we got up, I washed all the insects off the kitchen counters before we made breakfast or prepped any food for tonight’s dinner of bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, fried rice (for Tom), green beans, and salad. We already had dozens of flying insects in the kitchen, which are attracted to hot food and meat when prepared and served. We had to shut the dining room doors during dinner. After dinner, we headed to the bedroom so Tom could spray the kitchen with Doom.

A few of today’s photos are repeated. There haven’t been many photo ops this weekend, with more tourists in the park and the awful heat on Saturday topping 103F, 39C. Fortunately, today is a fantastic and cloudy day with moderate temps and humidity. It certainly is appreciated by both of us.

Happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2021:

Gordon Ramsay, also known as Gordy, lounged in the garden after eating veg and pellets. He visits us at this house as well as the last. Each bushbuck has some distinguishable markings, making it possible to recognize past visitors using our past photos for reference. For more photos, please click here.

Did we get in on an outstanding, unanticipated windfall?…

What a cute bird. Friends Lynne and Mick identified this bird as a grey-headed bushshrike.

The only word I can think of to describe the bit of good fortune  was windfall or in our case “safari luck” that we experienced yesterday resulted from Tom reading what’s called a “roll call,” for which he was signed up to receive email messages each time a passenger posts a comment on CruiseCritic.com.

Yesterday’s comment from a passenger who’ll be sailing on the same cruise we’ll be on next August from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Amsterdam, Holland, stated prices for the cruise had dropped substantially. In the past 24 hours. In the cruise industry, most cruise lines allow those who booked early to take advantage of price drops before the final payment is made.

Tom took this photo of this colorful bird, albeit a little blurry.

With credits we received for canceling past cruises due to the pandemic and visa issues, we still owed a remaining US $8600, ZAR 149127 (roughly), for this expensive cruise to Norway. The price had dropped over US $4500, ZAR 78058!!!!

windfall
/ˈwɪn(d)fɔːl/
  1. an apple or other fruit blown down from a tree or bush by the wind
  2. a large amount of money is won or received unexpectedly

Promptly at 3:59 pm, 1559 hrs., Tom started dialing Costco Travel’s phone number. Often it can take us an hour or two on hold to get through to a live representative. We’ve found that dialing nonstop, minutes before their offices open in the US,  is the best and most efficient way to get a live rep on the phone right away. This has been our only frustration with Costco Travel.

A rep came on the line in less than a minute. Tom explained the price drop he found at Azamara’s site. It took 45 minutes on the line for the rep to confirm that we were entitled to the price drop. Only moments after Tom ended the call; we had a new cruise confirmation document with our vast price reduction of US $4520, ZAR 78286.

Bushbuck in the garden; Tulip, Lilac, and Johnny; and Delilah, one duiker.

All we’ll owe for the final payment to the US is due on March 20. When it’s due, we will pay the balance of US $4096.62, ZAR 71061.20. Costco keeps one of our credit cards on file for this purpose, so we don’t have to call to pay the balance.

The original cost of the cruise for two  passengers was $16274.62., ZAR 282,938. Our total price now is US $11754.62, ZAR 204302.35 before all the credits we received in the past year for canceled past cruises.

We’re thrilled! It isn’t often we’ve been able to benefit from this much of a price drop in one fell swoop. After the documents confirmed all this, Tom posted on CruiseCritic.com to alert other passengers to the price drop. Many have responded that they, too, have saved this substantial sum.

We couldn’t have been more delighted to see Norman, Nina, and Noah this morning. We gave them an apple, but they didn’t seem interested after sniffing it.

Today, we’re staying in on a cool cloudy day. We’ll make our “unwich” (bread-free) subway-type sandwiches tonight using good quality deli meats, Emmenthal cheese, avocado, red onions, tomatoes, and keto mayonnaise, wrapped in large lettuce leaves and finally in parchment paper. We hadn’t had this treat since we were stuck in a hotel in Minnesota, sick with Omicron, while Tom could still drive before pneumonia made it impossible for him to go out. That was in May.

As for my headache, I am delighted the medication has begun to work, and the pain has improved by 50%. Again, tonight I’ll double the dose from 10 mg to 20 mg as directed by Doc Theo. This should result in considerably more improvement over the next several days. I am hopeful. I’ve had two good nights’ sleep since I increased the dose on Monday night.

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Stoep Café in Komati for breakfast and “girl talk” with Rita. If I can, I’ll complete the post before we leave at 10:00 am; if not, I’ll finish it when we get home. Plan to see the new post, a few hours later than usual.

Enjoy your day!

Photos from one year ago today, September 7, 2021:

Broken Horn and Hal in a bit of scuffle over pellets this morning. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2….Two new exciting bookings…Update on the ailing little bushbuck…

This weekend is Women’s Day in South Africa, which is actually on Tuesday, August 9. For information on the holiday, please click here for last year’s post where we described details regarding this holiday.

Busy morning with ten zebras stopping by for drinks from the pool and pellets.

As for our injured/sick little bushbuck baby that we discovered in the garden yesterday, we received an audio message on WhatsApp regarding her condition. I tried to move the audio to today’s post so you could hear it, but it wasn’t possible to do with my version of WordPress.

As a result, the audio message explained that the issue with the young bushbuck was a hydration issue, resulting in her inability to get up. With the bush sparse in vegetation and the mother unable to eat sufficiently to produce milk, the baby was near starvation. They are bottle feeding her at Dr. Piet’s office, and it’s “touch and go” for now.

If she makes it through the next few days, they will move her to the boma, where she will be nursed to health by Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation Centre until the little one can return to the wild in Marloth Park. Will she find her mother at that point? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to say. But, by the time she’s released, she’ll be old enough to eat on her own.

“Why not eat some pellets and get off my feet?”

As for our next booking, we booked another cruise on the Celebrity Summit, which will sail one day after our Azamara cruise from Scotland to Amsterdam ends, which sails on Norway’s north and west coasts. The itinerary for the new cruise is as follows:

Friday, August 18 Reykjavik, Iceland 4:00pm
Saturday, August 19 Isafjordur, Iceland 8:00am 5:00pm
Sunday, August 20 Akureyri, Iceland 7:00am 4:00pm
Monday, August 21 At Sea
Tuesday, August 22 Prince Christian Sound, Greenland (Cruising)
Wednesday, August 23 Qaqortoq, Greenland 7:00am 5:00pm
Thursday, August 24 At Sea
Friday, August 25 At Sea
Saturday, August 26 St. John’s, NL, Canada 7:00am 6:00pm
Sunday, August 27 At Sea
Monday, August 28 Halifax, NS, Canada 7:00am 6:00pm
Tuesday, August 29 At Sea
Wednesday, August 30 Boston, MA 7:00am

The cost for this cruise is US $7280, ZAR 122162, for a two-person balcony cabin, including taxes, port fees, gratuities, drink packages, and WiFi for two. To receive these perks, we had to pay the additional US $1200, ZAR 20135, but overall we saved money doing it this way. We could use only a part of a credit we received from Celebrity when we contracted Covid-19 on the last two days of the most recent cruise from Florida to England.

The reason why we could use only half of the credits we received is due to the fact the credits would expire before the upcoming Celebrity cruise mentioned today. However, they had made a typo on my certificate and listed the expiration date as 2024. But Tom’s certificate stated it expired in 2023 before the sail date. There was nothing we could do. We were grateful we got half due to their typo, but we had to make a fuss about it.

When the cruise ends in Boston, we’ll visit my cousin Phyllis for a few days and then head to Minnesota and Nevada to see more family over a month. During that time, we’ll renew our driver’s licenses in Nevada, our state of residency. Sometime between now and then, we have to renew our passports. It may be required for us to travel to Cape Town or Johannesburg to visit the US Consulate to do so.

One thing at a time: we have plenty to figure out right now regarding getting new 90-day visa stamps to continue using South Africa as a base for this next year when we leave for other adventures.

There’s always so much for us to figure out. I looked at Tom and said, “Do you want to stop traveling?” Immediately, he answered an emphatic “no,” asking me how I felt. I don’t want to stop either. So the challenges of figuring out our travels continue.

Even when the others began to wander away, a few remained at rest.

When we had canceled the three back-to-back cruises due to our inability and unwillingness to mail our passports to a visa service or consulate and be without a key in a foreign country (very risky), to obtain a visa for various countries along the way, we had already paid in full for the first of the three cruises.

Last night, after a fantastic dinner and evening at Jabula with Rita, Gerhard and Lee, we received an email from Azamara. They will NOT give us a refund for the canceled cruise. Instead, they are giving us a future cruise credit that expires in June 2023.

We won’t be able to apply it for the cruise we have booked with Azamara for next August to Norway. We will lose almost US $5000, ZAR 83896, unless we book another cruise on Azamara by June 30, 2023. This infuriated us! We can’t call until Monday evening since their offices are closed over the weekend. We’re trying to figure out what we’ll do. Once we know, we’ll report it here.

We’ve decided not to make ourselves crazy worrying about this until Monday. We’ll still enjoy the blissful weather and visitors who may stop by on this busy holiday weekend. We are grateful we are safe, healthy, and doing well.

Enjoy our photos from the past few days, and have a lovely weekend as well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 6, 2021:

Helmeted guinea fowls were kicking up the soot in the firepit while taking a “soot bath.” For more photos, please click here.

Part 1….Two new exciting bookings…

We’re so excited to have booked another “visa run,” but this time, on November 26, 2022, we’re flying to Seychelles.

Image result for the seychelles
“Seychelles
Country in East Africa
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It’s home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, nature reserves, and rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to Victoria’s capital. It also has the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park and beaches, including Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka.”
The ship, the Pegasos, can accommodate 44 passengers. Basically, it’s a luxury yacht suited to this number of passengers. In light of Covid-19, they likely won’t be booked to capacity, as has been the case for many cruise ships, big and small, worldwide since the onset of the pandemic.
Passengers are tested twice daily during the seven-night cruise, which gives us peace of mind considering our last cruise experience of contracting Omicron and becoming very sick, especially Tom, who ended up with Covid-19 pneumonia. This smaller ship particularly appeals to us. Below is a photo of the ship:
Note: It appears they spelled both “Pegasus” and “Pegasos” based on English and Greek.
“M/Y Pegasos offers five- and eight-day cruises around beautiful Seychelles, with each option departing from Mahe. Both cruises visit the former leper of the colony of Curieuse, now uninhabited by humans and home to many giant tortoises, Cousin Island, known for its bird life, Aride, and St. Pierre Island. Swimming, snorkeling, guided walks, and an al fresco BBQ are all activities you can look forward to. The shorter cruise ends in Praslin, while the more extended voyage returns to Mahe via Felicite, the charming La Digue, and Moyenne Island.

Renovated in 2016, the M.Y. Pegasos has 21 cabins that can sleep a maximum of 44 people. The twin-hulled vessel has plenty of open space to enjoy the views, sea breezes, and sunshine, and the onboard leisure facilities make it easy to relax and unwind or mingle with other travelers. Sip a drink in the stylish lounge bar, select a book from the library, relax on the sundeck, and rejuvenate in the mini spa. The swimming platform makes it easy to enter the water for a swim. Paid internet access is available. When it comes to enjoying the chef’s tasty culinary creations, you can choose between indoor and outdoor dining areas. Special events, such as a Creole night and live music, add to the fun. Each spacious en suite cabin has a window, air-conditioning, satellite TV, centralized music, and a mini safe.”

A typical cabin aboard the Pegasus.

We won’t need special visas to enter the country but will require a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before arrival on the ship. This won’t be a problem since testing is still offered in Komatipoort at the lab across the street from Dr. Theo’s office.

This cruise wasn’t as expensive as we thought it could have been, considering the small size of the ship, but it was pricey nonetheless. But each time we leave for a new visa stamp in our passports to be able to return to South Africa, we realize there is a certain expense associated with it.
We selected the second category, not the highest since we spend little time in our cabin and prefer to spend our time mingling throughout the cruise with other passengers while enjoying the surroundings and amenities that appeal to us. The cost for the cruise, not including WiFi, is US $7280, ZAR 120861, about US $2000, ZAR 33260 less than many sites listed. We booked it directly through Intrepid Travel at this link. Airfare and tours are extra. We can decide while on the cruise which tours appeal to us.
The dates for this cruise are from November 26, 2022, to December 3, 2022. We paid a deposit of US $1200, ZAR 20099, and will pay the balance on October 1, 2022. Upon return, we’ll have another 90 days until we have to leave the country again, and most likely, we will do an extension at that time. After that, we’ll figure something out.
We are excited about visiting Seychelles which we’ve discussed over the years.  Also, we love being on the water.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with information on another booking we wrapped up last night. Tonight, Jabula with Rita, Gerhard and Lee!
Have a fantastic day and evening.
Photo from one year ago today, August 5, 2021:
The Imposter, a smaller version of Tiny, who’s yet to appear, is ingratiating himself with us, showing up several times a day. For more photos, please click here.

Ten things we don’t like about cruising…Funny warthog behavior…

A warthog named Busybody noticed the pellets we’d set on the railing for the kudus.

Each morning when I am getting ready for the day, I take my phone into the bathroom and listen to podcasts. Lately, with our interest in cruising, I have been listening to two podcasts; one is La Lido Loca, and two is Cruise News. The podcasters of both of these shows are highly knowledgeable, albeit a little goofy, and stay up to date on what’s going on in the cruise industry, including realistic and straightforward observations on the good and the bad of cruising.

Busybody made himself comfortable in the awkward position and devoured the pellets.

This morning, on La Lido Loca, the podcaster discussed ten things he hates about cruising which prompted today’s topic from our perspective, which may be different from his in some ways. Right now, we must admit, we’re a little apprehensive about cruising with constant changes in policies, pricing, and itineraries.

Untypical for warthogs, Busybody got up on his hind legs to reach the pellets.

Also, recently contracting Covid-19 on a cruise may have impacted our view of cruising, at least for the time being. Our recent cancellation of the 42-night triple back-to-back cruise left a bad taste in our mouths when we’d have had to snail mail our passports to a US company to get visas for various countries’ ports of call. This impossible situation gave us no alternative but to cancel the entire booking, losing more money in the process. We’re tired of losing money on cruises with policy changes, leading us to point #1.

TEN THINGS WE DON’T LIKE ABOUT CRUISING

  1. Cruise lines making changes regarding an itinerary, which may be beyond their control, such as the war in Ukraine but failing to provide full refunds for deposits and final payments.
  2. Cruise lines do not provide clear and concise visa requirements at the time of the booking.
  3. Inconsistent Covid-19 requirements and protocol. Poor treatment of infected passengers during their quarantine period in the cabin.
  4. Failure to compensate passengers for travel expenses when a cruise is canceled last minute. Travel insurance prices have increased since the pandemic, preventing many travelers from making a purchase.
  5. Mandatory tips added each day of the cruise. Why can’t passengers tip for good service at their discretion? How do we know how the mandatory tips are distributed? We have no problem tipping but employees should be paid sufficiently. We never remove the mandatory tips (which can be done). Some cruise lines include tips in the fare pricing as a perk, which is preferred.
  6. Constant promotion to passengers during the cruise to pay for additional services that aren’t included in the basic cruise fare.
  7. Outrageous WiFi fees for their poor quality connection. We need WiFi during cruises. We understand service may be slow at certain points. But, failure to upgrade their often antiquated systems and expect passengers to pay is frustrating.
  8. Pre-cruise long hold times on the phone when calling with questions. Slow response time from cruise lines when making email inquiries.
  9. Long waiting periods for refunds, when they are allowed
  10. Errors on bills. If we don’t check our TV bill daily, we miss incorrect charges. Customer service is good about reversing such charges when they are found. Passengers must take the responsibility for frequently checking their account charges.

When listening to the podcast today, he’d comment about things other passengers do that annoy him such as “cutting in line” and taking more food than they can eat in the buffet. We don’t pay much attention to what other cruisers are doing, finding most passengers to be friendly and likable and the staff who strive to provide excellent service.

Big Daddy said, “Where are those pellets waiting for me on this railing?” We gave him more, carefully staying back to avoid those massive horns.

We are more interested in how the cruise experience impacts our expectations of quality, seamless situations, safety, and financial equity.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2021:

Tom was not named after this grand uncle. This headstone is located at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin. For more photos, please click here.

Harsh reality…Big disappointment…

A hornbill was sitting on the barbwire fence overlooking the Crocodile River.

I don’t know how to begin today’s post other than getting right to the point. We are sorely disappointed to have had no choice but to cancel our triple back-to-back cruises for 42 nights, beginning on November 8 and ending in Cape Town on December 20, 2022.

Azamara Cruise Line was vague about how we were supposed to get visas for the cruise. After numerous calls and email messages, we were directed to Visa Central, which handles acquiring visas for cruise passengers. But, for us, we ran into a huge obstacle.

Another hornbill.

Passengers can use Visa Central, living in the US and other countries. Still, to acquire the several visas needed for this long journey, they must send in their actual passports, which will be snail-mailed back to them when the visas are issued, with the passports stamped by the various embassies.

After considerable research, we found the facts and how they would apply to us. We cannot mail our passports to the US while living in a foreign country, leaving us without passports in our possession. This is foolhardy and impossible for us, especially during these trying times. One never knows what could happen, and we’d be left without our passports for over a month. No way.

A hornbill with a left wing askew.

On top of that, the snail mail process from South Africa is cumbersome and unpredictable. Sure, we could use FedEx or DHL, but that wouldn’t solve the problem of being without passports in our possession while here. The only alternative is to return to the US and stay there while the visas are processed and the passports are returned to us.

We aren’t interested in returning to the US right now, especially when the average cost for us to stay there is about US $10,000, ZAR 167992, per month with airfare, hotels, car rentals, and dining out. Plus, with our recent bad experiences, we just aren’t ready to return at this time for this purpose.

Two giraffes on the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Thus, we had no choice but to cancel all three cruises. Last night we spent over three hours on the phone with Costco Travel, who called Azamara, and there was no solution for us other than to cancel. We’ll lose the US $300 for admin fees for the two cruises and nothing on the third, most recent upcoming cruise, which we already paid in full.

Getting the cash back for the cruise we paid in full is impossible. We have to apply it to a separate upcoming cruise in August 2023, which they’ll do without penalty. Even though Azamara’s website claims, “Cruise with Confidence,” it isn’t as confidence-inspiring as one might think when there are admin fees we have to pay.

This Cape buffalo was out like a light.

We had inquired about getting the visas a long time ago when we first booked the three back-to-back cruises. But, Covid-19 repercussions were still prevailing, and answers were vague and unsatisfactory. We figured we’d wait it out but never figured we’d ultimately have to cancel.

We are very disappointed. This was going to be one of the most exciting cruises out of the 27 cruises on which we’ve sailed over the years. Plus, we loved the idea of keeping this house for the six weeks we’d be gone and returning to Marloth Park on December 20, 2022, only three days before Tom’s 70th birthday.

Another Cape buffalo in deep repose.

Now, we’ll have to come up with a new plan to be able to get yet another visa stamp for that period. We’ve started researching other places in Africa we can visit when we need a new stamp in November. Also, we may decide to file for another extension using the law firm. We’ll see how things roll out. With so many flight cancellations right now, we have to give this some serious thought.

All of this can be directly attributed to Covid-19. Several countries we were scheduled to visit on the cruises previously had e-visa options for travelers. Now with all the issues due to the pandemic, many countries are reverting to more stringent requirements for tourists to acquire visas to visit their countries. Once again, we are caught up in the mess, costing us money and plans.

Two Cape buffalos were lounging on the bank of the river.

Looking on the bright side, we couldn’t be in a better place to figure this all out. We love our house, our friends and the amazing animals visiting us daily. We’ll continue to look to the future to see where and when we can travel. The challenges? Well, they just “go with the territory.”

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2021:

Tom’s new Samsonite leather computer backpack that he purchased a year ago while we were in the US. For more photos, please click here.

Coldest night so far…Another fun anniversary to celebrate!!!…New photos from nighttime trail cam and more…

Today, we celebrate 31 years since we met in 1991. This is our last selfie, taken at the silent disco on the cruise in April 2022, the night before we both developed symptoms of Omicron. We are grateful to have recovered and, of course, to be together through all the ups and downs of being home-free, storage-free world travelers for almost ten years. That special anniversary is upcoming on October 31!!!

The aircon units used in bedrooms here can cool in the hottest weather and warm when it’s cold. We’ve never used the heating feature since we feel we don’t need to waste the electricity required to power the heating aspect of these units. Instead, we bundle up in warm clothes and, at night, sleep with layers of blankets we can strip off if necessary.

It’s incredible how much our body heat warms the bedroom at night. We noticed it when we left the bedroom at night to get something from the kitchen. We have never turned on the heat while in South Africa.

Last night at dinner, while seated at the dining room table (it was too cold to eat outdoors), my fingers were as cold as they would have been outdoors in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Holding them under warm water for a few minutes solved the problem.

Later, fully dressed, we got under the two top layers on the bed to watch a movie, one Tom hadn’t seen years ago, and now I know why. It was Armageddon, a movie I’d seen once and recalled, like the adventure of a disaster movie. The past few years are reminiscent of movies I watched about pandemics. Isn’t it ironic that those movies have come to us in the form of real life? I sure hope no massive asteroid start hurdling toward earth!

According to many news reports we read from time to time, we face disasters, right and left. Sometimes, I find it best not to read those articles. One can become anxious and depressed over such news. We both choose to embrace the positive aspects of life. Negative thinking can quickly impact one’s quality of life and health.

That doesn’t mean we are oblivious to what’s happening globally and even locally. We stay aware enough to tweak our lives as needed to consider the challenges such as using less fuel, not being wasteful, recycling, and being mindful of using products and services we don’t need. This also means tightening our budget as needed in tough economic times.

Last night, after two hours on hold with Costco Travel about finally receiving our over the US $5000, ZAR 79,318 credit from Azamara from us canceling the Black Sea cruise when the itinerary was changed due to the war in Ukraine. We intended to offset the final payment due at midnight for the first leg of the upcoming cruise in November for the triple back-to-back from Athens to Cape Town.

Why should we pay in advance when they owe us so much money? Luckily, after being on hold for two hours, the Costco rep finally got through to Azamara and resolved the issue. They credited us over US $5000. We’ll pay for the second leg in a few weeks and the third, weeks later.

Big Daddy gracefully stepped over the fence with his long legs.

This particular triple back-to-back is very expensive, much more than we’re usually willing to spend. But. It’s an almost entirely new itinerary for us, seeing countries we may never be able to see again, and we decided to bite the bullet and book them. Of course, we are concerned about getting Covid-19 again, based on our recent bad experience. But, we’ve chosen not to live our lives in fear, preventing us from new experiences.

We hear so much about people getting Covid-19 on cruise ships. But, if we were to research other venues and circumstances, people are still getting sick from different scenarios. That doesn’t mean we are careless and unconcerned. It simply means we’ve decided to move on and resume our world travels more expansively.

This evening, the two of us will celebrate the anniversary of the day we met 31 years ago, on June 28, 1991. We are grateful to be together after all these years, still in love and blissfully interested in one another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2021:

Thick Neck stopped by frequently at our last house, but we’ve yet to see him here. Maybe one day, soon. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…Cruise coming to an end…

Note: Due to the ship’s poor WiFi signal, we cannot add captions to today’s photos of Lisbon.

It was another fun night aboard the ship as our days on the cruise ended. We disembark in only two days. This morning we arranged for our last load of laundry to be done, the second free bag of laundry based on our Elite priority club status.

We’ll be extra careful to avoid dirtying any clothes during the three nights at the hotel in Southampton to ensure we’ll have plenty to wear on the Queen Mary 2 cruise beginning on April 24th, sailing back to New York. Once we’re situated at the hotel in Minnesota, we’ll be able to use the hotel’s laundry facilities.

Tonight is a dressy night on this ship, but I have avoided wearing any clothes I designated as suitable for the Queen Mary 2. Tomorrow night, we have to pack as soon as the bag of clean laundry is delivered to our cabin around dinner time. It will all work out well.

The time has gone by so quickly, and of course, we’ve had a fabulous time. It couldn’t have been more rewarding and enjoyable. We’ve met more people than anticipated during the restrictions imposed due to Covid with no “table sharing” in the dining room. But the proximity of the many “tables for two” made conversations flow with ease.

Last night was the final “silent disco” event, and of course, we had another fun and festive evening with new friends we’ve made. We do not doubt that we’ll stay in touch with many of the beautiful people we’ve interacted with during this 13-night cruise. Soon, it’s time to move along.

With the awful WiFi signal, we need to get this post uploaded until the signal is gone entirely, which keeps happening off and on.

We’ll continue to post, but with improved accuracy and consistency, once we arrive at our hotel in Southampton on April 21. Please check back with us each day for updates.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 19, 2021:

Frank and The Misses stop by several times a day, messing with the seed container. They don’t like sunflower seeds, so they pick through the container to toss them aside. The next time we purchased seeds, they were without sunflower seeds. They were much happier. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…The cruise ends soon…Change to today’s port of call…

Inside a shop window in the Azores.

The time aboard the ship has passed so quickly. It’s hard to believe that in a mere three days, on Thursday, April 21, we’ll arrive in Southampton and disembark.

One of our long-time readers and her husband are meeting us for dinner at our hotel on Saturday. They had seen us do the seminar on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas in 2016. Here is the link to the story about the seminar. We appreciate that they have followed us, and it will be delightful to see them and hear their stories of cruising since they are also cruising enthusiasts.

These unusual-looking trees lined the streets.

I’m a little bit sluggish today. Last night, we had an early night, heading back to our cabin after dinner. I had a hard time falling asleep. I didn’t finally dose off until around 2:00 am and awoke less than five hours later. Perhaps a short nap might be on the agenda this afternoon, perking me up.

Cruising can be exhausting, mainly when we’ve stayed up so late having fun with other passengers in the Martini Ice Bar or the Ensemble Lounge. Frequently, lively music plays in the background, energizing the mood with songs from our long-ago past.

Gonçalo Velho Cabral was a Portuguese monk and Commander in the Order of Christ, explorer, and hereditary landowner responsible for administering Crown lands on the same islands during the Portuguese Age of Discovery. For more details, please click here.

Having friends throughout the world has been a highlight of our world travels. The conversations, the dancing in our seats and on the dance floor, and the engaging interactions with beautiful people we’ve come to know in these few short days leave lasting memories we’ll treasure in years to come. When we look back at all the friends we’ve made while cruising, we realize how vital cruising has been in enriching our lives.

Based on yesterday’s change, we’ll be arriving in Lisbon later than expected due to the necessity of a helicopter picking up an ill passenger who’d had a heart attack. We watched the helicopter approach the ship. Tom was able to take the photo below, but we didn’t see much else.

A decorative miniature train in the town.

The passenger was taken off the ship safely. We’ve witnessed such a scenario on several other cruises in our years of cruising, and it’s always heartbreaking to think of how hard this must be for the patient. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to be lifted into the helicopter by a metal basket.

The scheduled arrival time in Lisbon was 3:30 pm, but by 4:30, the ship was finally cleared. We will get off the ship to take some photos. We’ve been to Lisbon in the past and will be there again in seven months when we do the triple back-to-back cruises as we make our way back to Cape Town, arriving on December 20, when we’ll fly back to Marloth Park after the 42-nights of cruising. It will be the longest time we’ll have cruised since our first cruise on January 3, 2013.

A pretty boulevard in the town of Ponta Delgada.

We still have some cabin credit left which we need to “use or lose.” Today, I meander down the row of shops to see what appeals to me. I am not much of an enthusiastic shopper these days, knowing I haven’t got room in my bags for anything of any size. Most likely, I’ll purchase a few items for the grandkids.

Today’s photos are the balance of those we’d taken in the Azores a few days ago. We’ll be taking more photos over the next few days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 18, 2021:

Such cute little creatures who manage to kill venomous snakes. For more photos, please click here.