We’re off!!!…Sail day has arrived…The road trip to Fort Lauderdale begins…

Celebrity Silhouette Itinerary, Current Position, Ship Review | CruiseMapper
Our ship, Celebrity Silhouette, which we’ll be boarding later today.

The two weeks in Florida passed in a blur of good times, good food, great weather, and gorgeous scenery with our thoughtful hosts, Karen and Rich, who were married in February. We were sad to miss their wedding due to Omicron, but they shared many details and photos, almost making us feel like we’d attended.

Their lovely home on the waterway, known as Flamingo Canal, was the perfect soothing and pleasant experience we were seeking before all the commotion begins for our next several weeks of cruising, visiting family, and then returning on the long and exhausting flight back to South Africa starting on May 22, arriving on May 23.

This trip is not like a typical vacation/holiday for us. It’s simply another leg in our continuing world travels, this time, once again, returning us to our favorite place in the world. But, don’t get me wrong…we’ll be on the move several times during our one-year booking of the new house we’re moving into upon our arrival.

One never knows what the future holds. At one point, we’ll be gone for about 45 days, and another time, for a few one-week trips for visa reasons. Also, we may add even more cruises to our itinerary as more cruise options are posted online.

We’re excited to board the ship this afternoon and then the next cruise on the Queen Mary 2. But we are also excited to see family members and then return to live in our newly remodeled house in Marloth Park.

Surely. Louise will have everything perfect awaiting us. We will give her a short grocery list so we won’t have to leave to grocery shop for a few days. (This morning I got a message from Louise that the lions were seen near our upcoming new house. How exciting!)

Once we unpack our bags and the boxes we left behind, we will settle in for a few months until we need to get a new 90-day visa stamp. We may travel or apply for an extension. We can decide on that in the months to come.

Funny thing. While I was preparing today’s post while still in Florida, the power went out during an electrical storm. They hadn’t lost power here for a long time, and it was only for 30 minutes. It was out for about two hours, and we were all happy to see it restored by 3:15 pm. Ironic, eh? Ironic, eh?

We stayed in for dinner, deciding against going out on a rainy day when most restaurants are outdoors. The remainder of the day and evening was lovely with Karen and Rich. We are sad to say goodbye, but we’ll see them again soon. They are planning to visit us in Marloth Park in August this year. How wonderful it will be to return the hospitality to our dear friends.

The next time you hear from us, it will be on Saturday, long after the ship set sail on Friday evening. We’ll have plenty of photos and stories to share about how the embarkation and check-in process worked during times of Covid with an outrageous number of precautions. It could prove to be very chaotic.

Thanks for staying with us, dear readers, through this waiting period. Your continued interest and support mean the world to both of us. We will be back with you soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2021:

Zebra traffic on the main road in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…A busy day preparing for departure…A great new recipe!…

Tom’s photos of this morning’s sunrise from the veranda of our bedroom at Karen and Rich’s home in Florida.

Note: The issue with the automatic email posts arriving in your inbox continues. It began once we arrived in the U.S., almost two weeks ago. That should not have caused the problem. Our web people in India are still trying to figure it out. Until they do, I will send the posts manually with a few clicks in the back admin area. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Good morning, everyone! In only two days, we’re off to Fort Lauderdale to board our cruise, Celebrity Silhouette, for the transatlantic crossing. Of course, we are very excited to be out to sea once again after a 29-month hiatus, all due to the pandemic.

What a lovely way to start the day!

I am in a bit of a rush this morning since we need to be out the door this morning in a little over an hour. Tom took today’s sunrise photos from the veranda off our bedroom this morning, making the photo portion of today’s post easy. I should mention that yesterday’s sunset photos were all taken by Karen. We’ve all been so busy yakking at sunset we’ve hardly noticed to take photos. It’s been quite fun being here with Karen and Rich.

Last night we all had homemade pizza using a new crust recipe Karen found made with ground chicken, although the recipe below suggests shredded chicken. It seems ground chicken is easier to use. It was delicious. We used our favorite toppings, not those listed in the recipe. See here for details.

We made enough pizza to last two nights, so tonight we can have it again after Tom, and I have been out most of the day wrapping up items we need for the cruises and getting our Covid tests this morning at CVS Pharmacy. My appointment is coming up in 40 minutes, so we need to be on the move shortly.

Another photo of the beautiful sunrise.

Also, today, we’re picking up Tom’s suit, making a trip to Target and Skechers for another pair of their comfy walking shoes. I purchased one pair so far but will need another to last me through the year we’ll spend in Africa. I am purchasing many items I can’t find there. It all adds to our luggage weight which will only be an issue when we fly from New York to Minneapolis and then to Las Vegas beginning on May 1st.

We will have to pay for additional bags since those two flights are domestic. But once we head back to South Africa, we won’t have to pay for added bags since we are each allowed two -23 kg (50-pound bags) due to international flights.

Tom just came downstairs after showering. We need to hurry at this point. Back at you soon! Have a great day!

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

I.B. (Itchy Butt) is lying in the wet, muddy cement pond, attempting to ease the itching on his butt. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…Wrapping it up here…Busy days…Sunsets to savor…

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself.

There have been more tasks for the upcoming two cruises than we listed earlier. They include:

  1. Applying for a visa for both of us for Bermuda, the first port of call in our itinerary which is required to board the ship, which we weren’t aware of until a few days ago: DONE
  2. Get Covid tests – scheduled for tomorrow morning
  3. Enter negative Covid test results into the Bermuda website to complete the visa process
  4. Applying for an additional $100 cabin credit for the Queen Mary 2 since we own stock in the parent cruise company, Carnival, which offers this credit for stockholders: DONE
  5. Complete health questionnaires for both cruises a few days before sailing
  6. Pick up Tom’s suit, stop at Target and Skechers store in Brandon, Florida
  7. Contact Costco about a considerable price reduction on Azamara’s website for our upcoming cruise in November. Tom is on hold now to see if the credit will be applied.

Our friend Karen made quite an observation over the past several days. She said, “Traveling the world is a lot of work! You two are busy all the time!”

This observation has dawned on us repeatedly throughout the past 9½ years. We are always busy planning, booking, filing documents, scanning, and preparing forms, applications, documents, and more to stay on top of our tasks. No doubt, it’s a daunting task. Whoever thought that traveling the world was one big holiday was kidding themselves. This is work.

Couple those tasks with the blog each day. Is it any wonder we need downtime to get through it all? On Friday, we’ll see passengers at the port cruise check-in, figuring out how to do all the paperwork and prep work they failed to do in advance. Surely, this will slow the check-in process to a snail’s pace. Hopefully, they will allow those of us who were well-prepared to move on through and board the ship.

The process will be slowed down even further with all the new Covid restrictions and protocol. It will be interesting to see what transpires at check-in for both upcoming cruises. Before the pandemic, the process was often cumbersome and time-consuming. I can only imagine what it will be like now. Of course, we’ll be sharing these details as they occur for our interested readers.

We’ll do our last load of laundry on Thursday, pack our bags and do my nails, and touch up my polish from my last pedicure. I’ll fill my pill case with my three little prescription pills and various vitamin supplements today. Tonight, Karen and I are making homemade pizza, two different types for each couple.

This morning, Tom and I headed to the grocery store for ingredients to make the pizzas. It’s so enjoyable to shop in the grocery stores in the US. There is every possible ingredient you can imagine, many of which we cannot buy in South Africa. Of course, I wish I could bring back some items with us, but with our new clothes and shoes, we won’t have any room to spare or weight allowance.

A few nights ago, the four of us sat outside poolside until after dark. I noticed I was itchy when we went indoors to eat dinner. It turned out, typical close to the sea, I was attacked by no-see-ums, resulting in hundreds of bites through my clothes. I had used repellent, but it has little effect on these pesky creatures as described here:

“Ceratopogonidae is a family of flies commonly known as no-see-ums or biting midges, generally 1–3 mm long. The family includes more than 5,000 species, distributed worldwide, apart from the Antarctic and the Arctic.”

We’ve lived in many seaside or desert locations during our world travels. Only in Belize, Morocco, and now, here in Florida, have they bothered me. And bother me, they did. I was awake all night long, itching, trying various creams I had on hand, and basically, being miserable and unable to sleep.

I am allergic to dust mites and no-see-ums, which is quite common for those with allergies. In an attempt not to be a “party pooper,” last night, I put on my compression socks, jeans, and a long-sleeve, tightly fitting tee shirt. I generously applied repellent on any exposed skin, my hands, face, and neck. Fortunately, that worked, and I never was bitten again. The old bites are still itching, but that should improve in a few days.

Well, at least we know now that if we ever thought of eventually settling down in Florida, that won’t work for me. No, we’re not thinking of “settling down.” We’re just getting ramped up again after this darned pandemic.

Tomorrow, I will prepare a short post in the early morning since we plan to be out most of the day wrapping up some of these last-minute details and completing the above as indicated by no later than Friday.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2021:

Notice the puffed-up cheek on this giraffe. They eat vegetation and store it in their cheeks for short periods. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…The solution to our phone situation…Fabulous food!…

Rich was outside in the rain in the sideyard, preparing the chicken and ribs on the charcoal grill. He needed the umbrella.

The time has flown by. In only four days, we’re leaving for Fort Lauderdale early Friday morning and will arrive by noon, at which time we’ll check our bags, drop off the rental car at the airport, take a shuttle back to the cruise terminal and be on our way.

It’s been 29 months since we were last on a cruise when we sailed from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the same ship, the reverse transatlantic crossing we’re beginning on Friday. We had a great time then and hoped to do the same this time. We never mind a repeat of ocean crossings. They have many sea days with few ports of call, but we always have fun on sea days and when getting off the ship.

Tom hadn’t eaten baked beans in years. Along with the chicken and ribs, green beans, and salad, it was a perfect meal.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping on Amazon for odds and ends since once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be staying there for a year, leaving from time to time for visa stamps but won’t have access to Amazon.com. For the first time in a few years, I can restock some of my favorite products which aren’t available in South Africa at the shops or on their version of Amazon, Takealot.

After considerable research and consideration, we decided to replace my almost three-year-old Google Pixel 4XL with the newer Google Pixel 6 Pro. The old phone couldn’t hold a charge for very long, and like many other smartphones, the batteries cannot easily be replaced. This, of course, motivates users to purchase a newer model. They get you coming and going, don’t they?

The new phone arrived yesterday, and in less than an hour, I had everything transferred over to the new phone, including the Google Fi phone service with my existing phone number. This was important to us since many of our financial accounts and others are set up with my phone number.

Rich didn’t put sauce on the ribs or chicken, which allowed me to enjoy them as well.

As for the temporary suspension through Google about us using too much roaming data, we solved that issue as well. We will insert a South Africa SIM card, which we already purchased for the old phone that we’ll use for data when we are out and about. When at a holiday house, hotel, restaurant, and many other locations, we can use the free WiFi on the new phone.

Having three phones between us is cumbersome, but this was our best and most cost-effective solution. We’ll seldom carry the third phone with us. For example, if we go into Kruger, we need WiFi in the event of an emergency or when using MAPS when on the road, and satellite is not effective enough for updates on road conditions, stoppages, and potential dangers.

Most South Africans use SIM cards for calling, texting, and data on their phones. Also, the third phone will be highly effective during travel days. On a day-to-day basis, we won’t need to bring it with us when out and about in Marloth Park when most local establishments have free WiFi we’ll be able to use. It was an easy solution to avoid signing up for a spendy contact from the US.

These chicken legs were the best we’d ever had, meaty and cooked to perfection. Tom, who usually only eats chicken breasts, enjoyed the legs as well. I guess I’ll be making these for once we get settled again. I won’t be cooking again until the end of May when we return to South Africa.

We will always be able to use the new phone for texts and phone calls. Texts are free inside and outside the US. Calling outside the US is typically 20 cents a minute but free inside the US for country-wide calls.

I was able to transfer all of my apps over to the new phone. The old phone will still be able to use WiFi at any accessible location but won’t receive texts and phone calls unless someone knows the phone number associated with the SIM card we’ll install. It all may sound confusing, but it’s clear to us. Few of our readers will ever need to implement such a plan, but if you do, feel free to ask for assistance if required.

Today’s photos are those we took when Rich was making his fantastic barbecue chicken and ribs. What a fine dinner we had on Saturday, followed by a delicious pot roast Karen made on Sunday. No shortage of good food around here!

Have a super day enjoying good health and peace of mind!

Photo from one year ago today, April 4, 2021:

Our boy Tiny, lounging in the garden after eating lots of pellets. As big as he is, he can consume lots of pellets. Note the cute pose. That’s our boy! We never saw him again after returning from the US at the end of July. For more photos, please click here.

Reconnecting with old friends…Lois and Tom who visited us in Marloth Park in 2018…

Tom and Lois and the two of us at the biker bar, Nav-A-Gator Bar and Grill in Arcadia, Florida.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, our original plan was to come to Florida in February and travel through the state to visit many friends and some of Tom’s family members who are here over the winter months. When Omicron hit South Africa, and the world freaked out about South Africans showing up at their doorstep, we changed our plans.

The other Tom!

We didn’t want to risk infecting our friends, the bride, and the groom, nor did we want to spend two weeks in quarantine in a hotel room before attending the wedding. Thus, we changed our plans and are spending two weeks here now after Omicron has mostly passed and cases are at a minimum here in Florida.

We couldn’t stop smiling!

As it turned out, we didn’t have the time to drive to the various cities in Florida where our friends live with the shopping and tasks we had to accomplish before embarking on our upcoming two transatlantic cruises beginning on April 8.

My Tom and Lois.

However, our friends Lois and Tom, whom we met on a 33-night cruise circumnavigation of the Australian continent, with whom we spent almost every evening together during the cruise. Two years later, they flew to South Africa from New Jersey to spend three weeks with us in Marloth Park, during which we had a fantastic time. It was non-stop safari luck while they were with us, and we all had an amazing experience day after day.

Lois and I both had the Cobb Salad topped with sliced Ahi tuna. It was delicious.

Lois and Tom were with us when we experienced the “Ridiculous Nine,” an odd phenomenon of seeing the Big Five plus four more elusive animals while on a safari. For details on that experience, see our post here, which is followed by many posts with photos of this outstanding event. Please visit the archives for additional photos of this special time.

When we touched base with Lois and Tom, we decided we could each drive halfway from our current locations and meet in the middle. As ardent motorcyclists and owners of one of those big fancy Harley Davidsons, they suggested we meet at a “bikers’ restaurant. What a fun and unique idea for us!

Tom hadn’t had a Rueben sandwich in years, most likely since we began traveling the world. He was thrilled to finally have his favorite sandwich.

Shortly before noon, we all arrived at Nav-A-Gator Bar & Grill in Arcadia, Florida, hugging with enthusiasm, love, and warmth over finally seeing each other again. Lois said, “I never thought we’d ever see each other again!” It was so sweet, but somehow I knew we would, and there we were.

Tom had the fried shrimp sandwich with onion rings.

We hardly noticed our food and drinks as we chatted endlessly, reminiscing our past experiences together and hoping to get together again sometime in the future.

It was hard to say goodbye. We texted after we left, saying how fun it was to see each other as we drove back to Karen and Rich’s house in time for the fantastic chicken and ribs dinner Rich had been preparing on their second grill, which is charcoal fired. The dinner was fabulous, and once again, we had a lovely evening with the two of them.

The place was packed with bikers and non-bikers.

While here and when we are alone, Tom does the dishes. I make the salad and Tom’s usual breakfast of meat and cheese roll-ups using the delicious natural gluten-free, chemical-free sliced deli meats and delicious cheddar cheese, aged three years, that we’d purchased at Costco.

There was live music and a lively ambiance at the restaurant.

Today, Karen is making pot roast while we’re doing laundry and having a relatively low-key day. In a mere five days, we’ll be driving to Fort Lauderdale to board Celebrity Silhouette to begin the first of our two cruises across the Atlantic Ocean.

Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2021:

Most of the animals like to eat Frank’s seed. In this case, a zebra is awaiting his turn. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…The manatee story…Safari luck in Florida!…We’re off to Arcadia…

There may have been a small buoy attached to the tail of the frequent manatee visitors, making it easier for the tourists to spot.

This morning, we are off to Arcadia, Florida, to meet our friends, Tom and Lois, who visited us in Marloth Park, South Africa, in October 2018. It’s a 90-minute drive for us and a little more for them, and we appreciate them driving to meet us for lunch at a popular inland restaurant.

We’d hoped to see many more friends and family members while in Florida but after we changed our trip to come to Karen and Rich’s wedding due to Omicron, our timing changed considerably and there just hasn’t been enough time. We apologize to all those special people we won’t have an opportunity to see this time around but with our passion for cruising, surely we’ll be back in Florida at some point in the future. Also, after the pandemic, car rental prices are outrageous in Florida with limitations on mileage, something we haven’t experienced in the past. Driving all over the state would have cost thousands extra.

Thus, today, for time’s sake, we’ve included Part 2 of the manatee story, which I mostly prepared yesterday, to ensure we are on the road promptly at 10:15 am to meet them by noon, leaving a little extra time for traffic. We plan to return to Karen and Rich’s by 5:00 pm for a barbecue rib dinner Rich is making. It will undoubtedly be a busy and fun day with friends.

A manatee is lifting hers/his nose from the water for a dose of air. They do this about every five minutes or so.

We found this excellent information about manatees from the Smithsonian’s website here:

14 Fun Facts About Manatees

These roly-poly herbivores, just maybe the teddy bears of the sea. But keep an eye out when boating; they don’t move so fast. Emily Frost

Despite their size and stubbly snout, manatees seem cute and cuddly to many ocean visitors. These large, slow-moving marine mammals hang out in coastal areas and rivers where Florida spring-breakers can easily see them and think it is good to hop on for a ride. Not only is this and other forms of harassment such as hugging the sea creatures illegal (the West Indian manatee is listed as endangered in the United States), but it can also impact manatees’ natural behavior, changing the way they interact with humans.

Stingrays at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida

All three species of manatee—the Amazonian manatee, West Indian manatee, and West African manatee—and the related dugong are considered vulnerable (defined as facing a high risk of extinction in the wild) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This is due to a variety of threats, including boat collisions, hunting, habitat destruction, and toxic red tides.

Expansive views of Tampa Bay from the center.
This one decided to lay down in the shade. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…The manatee story…Safari luck in Florida!…

This was the first shot we got of one of the manatees that appeared in the warm waters by the Tampa Electric Company.

Note: Some of our readers are not receiving the daily email updates of our post. Some readers have reported that the post has gone to their spam folder which we suggest you check and unmark the post as spam. Our web people are working on this issue today. It should be resolved in the next 24 hours. In the interim, please continue to find us at www.worldwidewaftage.com.

When Karen and Rich told us about the nearby Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida, we were interested. But, when they explained that it might be difficult to actually spot any manatees near the Tampa Electric Company, where the warm waters from the plant attract manatees, we hesitated to check it out.

When we took off for the grocery store, we decided to visit the center and see if we’d have safari luck. Since the manatees are not confined and may come and go at their leisure, we felt comfortable giving it a try. We avoid visiting caged and confined animals that should be in the wild. Although, on occasion, we visit rehabilitation centers, which is an entirely different scenario. especially when the intent is to return the wildlife to the wild, where they belong.

It would have been nice to get better photos but we were happy to see them.

Not to be negative, but we anticipated a pricey entrance fee and the possibility of never seeing a manatee. Much to our surprise, entrance into the oceanfront setting was free to the public. As shown in our photos, the tourist-like location across the bay from the Tampa Electric Company, somewhat offset the eyesore of the massive power plant (not nuclear).

Many homes in the area have extensive views of the power plant. Perhaps those homeowners feel less intruded upon by this haven for manatees that has been generated (no pun intended) by such an intrusive structural complex so close to their homes.

The entrance to the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida.

On the Manatee Viewing Center’s website, they write:

“Manatees love warm water. And by a stroke of POWERful luck, Tampa Electric can provide it to them! Our Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay. The manatees leave colder waters to return to this warm and welcoming refuge in the winter months.

Because of this uniquely unusual migration, we’ve built the Manatee Viewing Center so everyone could have a chance to see manatees gather. Our discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.

Location: 6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Hours: Open daily from November 1 – April 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. We are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter. Have questions? Call us at 813-228-4289.

Tampa Electric is proud to offer free parking and admission to all who visit!”

Manatees are such unusual-looking animals.

Tom, impatient fellow that he is, seemed ready to leave when we didn’t see anything. When we arrived at the center to find the parking lot full, we persisted and found a good spot. After a short walk up a ramp, we made our way to the major viewing area, wondering if we’d get lucky.

But, knowing me, riddled with persistence and determination, I wanted to wait it out. Within five minutes, we saw manatees. I was almost squealing with delight. My high-pitched talking-to-animals-voice kicked in while my camera clicked feverishly to get a good photo.

Manatees don’t rise above the waterline. Only their noses protrude for a quick moment to collect a good dose of air every five minutes or so. As long as we could see their blubbery bodies under the water, we knew at some point they’d come up for air. And they did.

Tampa Electric Company processing plant in Apollo Beach Florida.

In reality, it would take a scuba diver or snorkeler’s underwater camera to get good shots of these peculiar massive creatures. We did the best we could under the circumstances and were thrilled to get the shots we did. Of course, I was thrilled, as always, to add yet another wonder of nature to our repertoire of online photos on our posts, and we’re delighted to share them with our readers today.

We’re sharing the photos we took between today and tomorrow’s Part 2, a continuation of this story. We decided to break this up into two stories since we have to hurry to get out the door tomorrow to meet with friends Tom and Lois for lunch in Arcadia, Florida.

Ancillary structures at the Tampa Electric Company.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2021:

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit. For more photos, please click here.

A new plan for the next year…

A marina in Apollo Beach.

As it turned out, we’re booking the new house in Marloth Park for one full year, during which we’ll leave from time to time for new visa stamps. We plan to do one more visa extension through the law firm, and we’ll be going for cruises at other times. Subsequently, we’ll only have to leave once for a visa run during the 12 months. This works out well for us.

Are we settling down in Marloth Park? No. We’re using it as a base until after we return from the Lisbon to Cape Town cruise in December, leaving us six more months of the one-year rental contract from which we’ll embark on more cruises. After that year ends, we will leave South Africa for new and different horizons. But, for this particular period, it works for us.

Are we done with staying in holiday homes for two or three months in various countries? Not necessarily. In the interim, we can live well below our budget to offset the cost of the cruises. But with the cost of holiday homes skyrocketing worldwide due to the pandemic, we’ve had no choice but to reconsider what works best for us.

We have seen an increase in holiday rents, not only in the UK and Europe but also worldwide. We are not wealthy people who can spend thousands of dollars a month on rentals. Nor are we willing to forgo our criteria of living in nice properties in safe neighborhoods, in excellent condition, with utilities included and unlimited WiFi. We can’t justify forfeiting any of these critical requirements.

For those of our readers who have grown weary of wildlife photos, we apologize when we say there will be plenty more to come once we return to Marloth Park on May 24. The difference will be an entirely new batch of animals, with new names, new behavior, and the plethora of peculiarities we find in the bush.

If we named our site Worldwide Wildlife Adventures, a steady stream of animal photos would be expected. So, from that point forward during the upcoming year, you may ask yourself, would I read such a daily blog? Would I become bored with one wild animal after another?

If your answer is that you would be bored, then please check back from time to time to see what adventures are upcoming or perhaps wait until we are on the move again. On November 8, 2022, we’re sailing through the Middle East, including visiting Israel and many other countries.

On August 1, 2023, we will finally be sailing to Norway, a new experience for us. Thus, during this one year, we won’t be sitting on the veranda the entire time, tossing pellets to our newly named animal friends and heading to Jabula every Friday night. There definitely will be some adventures along the way.

Our lives are not long-term vacation/holiday. It is a compilation of experiences in many cultures, focused on nature, building relationships we make along the way, and learning about the world’s ways. Our goal is to remain intrigued while continuing to grow and flourish in many environments. Staying stimulated by our surroundings is a fantastic means of maintaining a youthful outlook and demeanor.

As long as our health remains good, we will continue on this path. When that changes, which it ultimately will, we will make another plan. Also, based on great medical care, we feel incredibly at ease in Marloth Park.

So, there it is, dear readers, our plan for the upcoming year. It begins when we return to South Africa on May 24; after our two upcoming cruises, a two-week visit to Minnesota with another one-week visit to Nevada. From there, we’ll embark on the long journey to return to South Africa.

We are content with our plans and hope most of our readers will continue to share this peculiar life with us. We’ll be back tomorrow with some exciting photos of “safari luck” in Florida after sightseeing.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2021:

Frank was standing on the veranda railing. For more photos, please click here.

So much to do…So little time…

Another beautiful sunny day in Florida!

We didn’t realize until we arrived back in the US how much work we had to do when we got here. Perhaps, we were trying to keep our time in Florida easy and uncomplicated. But, once we arrived, we realized all the tasks facing us had to be completed before we will leave on April 8. They include:

  1. Purchase travel insurance for upcoming cruises – DONE
  2. Upgrading Costco membership to Executive and applying for the Costco Visa card. (As it turns out, we ended up having to provide extra proof of our identity due to “South Africa” popping up on our credit reports) – DONE
  3. Get a fraud flag off one of our best credit cards since we used it for multiple purchases worldwide, and it was flagged as “possible fraud.” Tom has provided all the documents except for an original social security card he doesn’t have. All social security offices are temporarily closed due to Covid, and applying online is a mess. We are still working on this.
  4. Purchase clothing and shoes for Tom for the upcoming Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise – DONE (picking everything up next Wednesday, April 6, for our April 8 departure).
  5. Purchasing odds and ends and shoes for me to complete my clothing for the Queen Mary 2 cruise – DONE.
  6. Purchase various cosmetic items and costume jewelry for upcoming cruises – Almost done.
  7. Apply for renewal of our passports that expire in 20 months. (Most likely, we’ll save this task for Minnesota when we arrive on May 1)
  8. Cancel the changed cruise to Russia and Ukraine to ensure the credits go to our future booked cruises. Tom was on the phone for at least 90 minutes. Once the credits show up in our email in 30 to 45 days, we can go back in and transfer the credits to the future cruise. Azamara refused to make the funds transfer from one cruise to another. We have to call again when the credits appear to have this done.
  9. Order a new phone for me. DONE (More on that in tomorrow’s post with the solution to our Google Fi dilemma)
  10. Arrange for Covid PCR test at nearby CVS pharmacy – DONE

Of course, other situations might arise in the next several days, but we’re ready to tackle them as they occur. Karen commented on how much work it is for us to travel. She is so right. The mountains of documents and processes never cease to amaze us.

Whoever thinks traveling the world is a constant vacation/holiday is kidding themselves. The work required to book venues, stay on top of pricing, and take advantage of price drops, plus book flights, hotels, holiday homes, can be daunting.

Imagine how much time you spend planning one vacation, let alone where we’ll be for a year at a time or more. Record keeping is vital during these processes to ensure we don’t forget a thing. We keep detailed notes online on our travel calendar we can easily refer to at any time.

Staying calm and friendly when speaking to representatives is an integral part of all of these transactions, whether they’ve made an error or if we missed something. It’s not unusual for us to sit side by side, planning and handling obstacles for an entire day. Keeping an upbeat attitude is vital to this process, and after over nine years of doing this, we’ve learned the true meaning of “patience is a virtue.”

No, we haven’t had time to drive around and take photos of this lovely area. By the time we have completed our tasks for the day, helped Karen make dinner, do our laundry, shopped for groceries and other things, including preparing the post, and responded to countless email messages we get each day, we feel it’s important to spend valuable time with our generous hosts.

This leaves us little time to run around taking photos. Once we get on the cruises when all of our needs are included, we’ll have time to take photos since all we’ll have to do the daily post (WiFI signal permitting), take photos throughout the ships, and enjoy ourselves.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 30, 2021:

The previous night, we had a visit from a thick-tailed bushbaby. They are a threat to the smaller bushbabies. For more photos, please click here.

Shopping for Tom’s suit…Gee…I don’t like shopping…

More beautiful views of the canal.

While traveling the world, we have been unable to purchase many items we need at any given time. I’d often think of how nice it would be to shop as quickly as possible in the US. But, we were disillusioned. Yesterday, when we visited no less than five stores, I experienced a feeling I rarely experience…feeling overwhelmed.

The DSW shoe store was the worst. I needed two pairs of shoes, one for the upcoming dressy cruise and another pair of walking shoes. Walking into the store, I scoured the aisles for less than 10 minutes. Nothing appealed to me, and the prices were so high. I wasn’t about to pay over US $100 for each pair of shoes.

Gorgeous pool in Karen and Rich’s garden.

Tom had found a pair of black Cole Haan shoes, his favorite brand, at the Men’s Wearhouse, but when I looked online while in the store, I found them online for US $50 less. Once back at the house, he found the exact pair at Amazon and made the purchase. At that point, I found two pairs of shoes totaling less than US $100 and ordered them along with Tom’s.

With that part out of the way, now we can focus on the few odds and ends we need to complete our dressy attire for the Queen Mary 2 cruise while replacing some things that we could only find here in the US. We will be well-stocked with supplies by the time we return to Marloth Park on May 24.

Lovely flowers from a walk.

While at Costco, we extended our Costco membership to Executive to apply for a special rewards Visa card through them with Citibank. We’ll get tons of cashback for petrol worldwide and extras for the cruises we book through Costco Travel with this card. This will account for savings for us we hadn’t anticipated. Thanks to Gerhard for telling us about this benefit. The card will be waiting for us at our mailing service in Nevada when we arrive on May 15.

Costco gave us a fantastic cold storage bag for upgrading our membership. Since we were already paid up through July, we only had to pay the additional US $20 to upgrade the membership card. After handling all of this, we shopped for groceries to bring back to Karen and Rich’s, including some of the best deli meats and cheeses for Tom’s daily meat and cheese roll-ups that lately he likes having for breakfast.

Today, Karen and Rich had a tree cut down on their property, blocking some extraordinary views.

We continue to enjoy time spent with Karen and Rich. Soon, Karen and I will take another long walk on yet another gorgeous day with temperatures in the mid-70s and a gentle breeze. It couldn’t be more beautiful. We certainly came to Florida at the right time of year.

Yesterday, by the end of the day, we had the bulk of our shopping done, both in person for Tom’s suit and online. We were finally able to relax for the evening. Karen and I made sides and salad for dinner while Rich cooked pork tenderloins and zucchini on the braai. Once again, it was a lovely dinner and evening.

Removing the tree from the side yard opened up some excellent views.

On Wednesday next week, we will pick up his suit after completing the alterations. He was happy with everything he purchased, and the suit should fit him well.

For the next few days, we have nothing special planned on the horizon while we’re thoroughly enjoying fun and lively conversations with Karen and Rich. It’s very easy being here with them, as it’s always been on past visits.

The side yard now has a better view of the water.

Have a fabulous day while we revel in Florida’s warm and sunny days.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 29, 2021:

An oxpecker was on the back of a young male kudu, eating the bugs and debris off his body. For more photos, please click here.