The dreadful process of filling out forms…A zebra in a pool???…

We’ve yet to have a single visit, from a full-racked male kudu. The only way they can get into our garden is by walking on the driveway when the bush is too dense. This young male was able to make it through the bush to stop for a visit during sundowners on the veranda.

Each time we have to extend our visas, apply for visas or apply online for any government-mandated process, we dread it. Often, the forms are confusing, difficult to use, and don’t save partially completed forms, although, on their website, they clearly state that returning users can easily find their partially completed forms. Ha! Not always the case.

Yesterday, we started the necessary process of applying for our e-visas for entry into Kenya on April 9th. On January 1, 2021, Kenya switched from the easy visa-upon-arrival process with a mandatory online application. With many of the questions translated from other languages, often the questions in the form are ambiguous and confusing.

A female kudu and a male impala getting along well while eating pellets.

But, the worst part for us, mainly me, who will do both of our online applications, is now using a Chromebook instead of formerly using Windows. With Windows, all I had to do was find the appropriate travel documents in a folder on my desktop and we’d be good to go.

It’s not so easy with a Chromebook, regardless of how and where I save documents, to easily find them to grab and attach to an uploader in an online application. Believe me, I know how to do this. But when saving the documents needed such as airline tickets, hotel reservations, copies of passports, and proper headshot photos, those documents I properly saved are often missing and I can’t “grab” to upload them into the form.

Impalas are very shy around humans. We’ve been surprised to see so many visiting our garden.

Yesterday afternoon, I spent no less than two hours in dire frustration, in the 100F, 38C, heat, and humidity, and will have to go back and try again today. Just now, as we speak, I looked for the documents and found them where they should be in the “download” folder.

But, I have no doubt that when I start working on the form again, re-entering all I’ve already entered on 10 pages, they won’t be there. We often wonder how less experienced users could possibly get through this process. Often, they have to hire a company to do this for them at an additional cost over and above the US $102, ZAR 1558, fee (for both of us) charged by Kenya.

Impalas stay at a distance from the veranda.

Oh, I can’t wait to get this done and behind us. Tom, a less experienced user of Chromebook’s weird nuances, will be able to re-enter his personal information which was lost upon “save. Hopefully, after he re-enters it today it will all be there for me to log into his Kenya visa account and upload the documents from there also.

Talk about sweating in this weather! It’s only 10:30 right now in Marloth Park and it’s already 90F, 32C with high humidity, all of which is rising rapidly. It won’t be until after about 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, that we’ll feel the temperature drop slightly. Yesterday Tom read that the “wind chill” was 110F, 43.3C. We had no idea wind chill factors were considered for hot weather as well as for cold temperatures.

Adorable young male bushbuck checks out the grassy area in our garden waiting for Tom, in the red shirt, to toss him a few pellets.

Last night, the air-con in our bedroom simply couldn’t keep up with the heat. It was necessary to also use one of the two standing fans in our bedroom, aimed directly at us. It never really cooled down much during the night. Even our wildlife friends stay away during the heat. They hunker down in the shade of the bush, close to water holes. It must be so hard for them.

Yesterday there was a Facebook story under Marloth Park Sighting Group, that was mind-boggling as follows:

“ATTENTION POOL OWNERS: Last week Thursday, driving up Berghaan Rd, I was flagged down by a resident/visitor of a house with a newly built swimming pool. The gentleman was FRANTIC, and I soon learned that he was deaf, as is his partner, neither could speak either. Turning into the driveway, I was greeted by the sight of an adult zebra, in the pool, but totally exhausted, his neck and head out of the water, kind of hanging over the side, as the gentleman, who was EXHAUSTED, and two young builders from the next-door house, had managed to get zebra to the side of the pool. I don’t know how long it was going on before I arrived, but jumped into action, looped my bakkie (a pickup truck) tow strap around zebra’s neck, and with the help of the builders, directed zebra around to the shallow end where it could stand, and where we could lead it to the steps. This worked!! Three minutes after I arrived zebra was out of the water and on its feet…..
Firstly, the pool was too deep for adult zebra to stand, secondly, the pool should be fenced. Should it not just be common sense to fence a pool in a nature reserve?? Hate to think what would’ve happened had I not driven by when I did. Occupants of the house were inside, both deaf, no idea about the drama outside. Luckily the builders were awake…”
Bushbucks have such adorable faces!
Fortunately, the zebra was rescued by the kind and creative people who immediately went into action. The zebra seemed fine and dashed off. And yes, there are pools at most houses in the bush, mostly splash pools used to cool off in hot weather, days like today, and few, if any are fenced.
That’s a matter for another day. Fences are frowned upon in the bush, preventing the wildlife from freely foraging as they wander about the park. But, there are circumstances under which a fence may be sensible, providing safety for humans and animals alike.
Tiny sitting in front of his favorite tree stump.
Our pool, yet to be used by us, is shallow, above ground, encased, and surrounded by a cement wall. It would be unlikely an animal could fall in without climbing over the wall, tricky to do at best. Plus, it’s shallow, as is the case of most splash pools in the bush. We’re thrilled to hear the zebra was safely rescued. Life in the bush has always been interesting and often unusual.
Have a lovely day.
Photo from one year ago today, March 10, 2020:
“Krishna’s Butterball (also known as Vaan Irai Kal and Krishna’s Gigantic Butterball) is a gigantic granite boulder that rests on a short incline in the historical coastal resort town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu state of India. Since it is part of the Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during 7th- and 8th-century CE as Hindu religious monuments by the Pallava dynasty, it is a popular tourist attraction. It is listed as a protected national monument by the Archeological Survey of India. It is best viewed at sunrise from northwest to southeast or at sundown from northeast to southwest when the panorama is bathed in magical golden hues.” Our guide explained that at one time, centuries ago, the locals tried to move this boulder using elephants but it wouldn’t budge. For more photos, please click here.

Shredding a lifetime of papers…

As October looms nearer and nearer to our Halloween departure date, I lay awake at night prioritizing my tasks. With Tom gone to work Monday through Friday for 14 hours a day, the sorting and packing of a lifetime is logically in my hands. 

A portion of the most unbearable tasks has been started or completed, including the cleaning of our formerly junk laden attic, the messy top of my closet, many overstuffed drawers and hangers with outdated forgotten clothes, much of which I already hauled to Goodwill.  

We’ve scanned over 500 photos thus far with hundreds more to go.  A few months back, I removed every photo in a frame in our house, scanning the photo and saving an entire plastic tote filled with frames to be sold at our upcoming estate sale.

Looming in the back of my mind these past months have been the papers; boxes, drawers, file cabinets, banker’s boxes filled to the brim with receipts, tax records, legal documents, forms, medical files, certificates, insurance policies and on and on. 

Although not hoarders, we’ve kept that which we thought we’d need to keep, 90% of which we never referenced in all of these years. After assessing the paper inventory over the past months, I came to the realization that saving these documents would require no less than a 5′ x10″ storage facility, costing no less than $50 a month.  Goodbye, papers!

I called our accountant asking a few pertinent questions:

How long is one required to keep tax returns?

How long must one keep the supporting receipts for the tax returns? The answers to these questions are vague (Isn’t it surprising that the IRS would be vague?)  If you cheat on your taxes, you’ll need to keep your records indefinitely!  If you don’t, please see the IRS link for the vague answers.

Final question for the accountant:
Will he be able to do our taxes when we are no longer residents of Minnesota? Answer: Yes, as long as we have access to the internet.

The magic of the Internet with the availability of keeping digital personal records is steering us further and further away from the necessity of keeping paper copies of everything.  Our medical records, bank statements, income records, financial records, and other legal documents an now be kept online in a secure “cloud.”  
I made a list of the documents we’ll need to keep and subsequently store. (This list may be different for you depending on your personal circumstances).  

Documents to store:
  1. Original titles to cars (until we sell them both before we leave the US).
  2. Tax returns past 5 years (accountant has these also)
  3. Tax receipts for the past 7 years (per the advice of the accountant)
Documents to bring with us:
  1. Passports, upcoming visas, travel documents
  2. Originals of birth certificates, baptismal certificates, marriage certificate 
  3. New driver’s licenses for new state of residency
  4. Health: Insurance cards, current prescriptions, actual prescription bottles, immunization records, emergency contact information in states
  5. Checkbook (some property owners would like the balance of the rent paid via check) and recently renewed debit and credit cards
  6. Travel insurance documents
Today, after a brisk 45 minute walk on an otherwise lovely morning, I returned home with a certain sense of dread knowing that I must begin the sorting process.  When beginning a dreaded project I’ve always preferred to begin with the “worst first.”  

First, I attacked the old style wood two drawer file cabinet in our bedroom that loomed in my mind in the middle of the night. 
My next concern is the disposal of the papers, shredding and recycling as the only logical choices. After researching online I found a free shredding event which I put on my calendar with a plan to haul my two big bags of papers on June 23rd to the grocery store parking lot where Shredit will be offering the service to the community. 

After sorting for most of the day, I’ve discovered few simple steps to keep the amount to be shredded to a minimum:
  1. Place two plastic totes on either side of your chair, designating one bin for recycling, the other for shredding
  2. Place a cabinet, drawer, or box of papers in front of you on the floor
  3. Go through papers, removing envelopes, advertising, printed booklets and anything that doesn’t reference your name, address, social security number, bank account numbers, dollar amounts, etc., placing papers in appropriate tote; all personal items go into the shredding bin, all peripheral papers in the recycle bin.  (Tear off parts of forms with your personal information and save the rest for the recycle bin).
You’ll be amazed how much smaller your shredding pile is, as opposed to the recycle pile.  Place papers to be shredded into containers as suggested by your free recycle event into either bags or boxes.  Deliver them to the specified location on the specified date and time.  If one has additional shredding beyond that which the shredding event will accept, one can plan to repeat this process closer to the next arranged date in the area.  
Often, waiting for a free event is difficult when we so much want to get this cleaned up and out the door.  Most office supply stores have a shredding program (prices vary by locations and promotions).

Although I still have several more days of papers to toss, it’s less intimidating with this simple plan in place.  Hopefully, by week’s end this task will be completed, leaving me with little piles of the documents we will be taking with us on our journey.  I am looking forward to an enormous sense of relief.

Tomorrow is Round #3 of vaccinations which will include the first  of three rabies shots.  I’ll keep you posted!