Last night’s change in plans…What’s a confusion?…

It’s a joy to see the nyala family stop by for pellets. Here’s dad on the right, son on the left.

Yesterday, we decided to go out to dinner, even though we’d be out on Friday night, as always, at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. Since we returned almost a month ago, we hadn’t been to any other restaurants and thought a meal at Giraffe would hit the spot.

Their food isn’t as good as Jabula’s delicious dishes. Also, they only have one option on the menu that works for me, a salad with chicken and vegetables, which is tasty but not very filling. For an occasional bite to eat, it’s an excellent place to eat and drink for most locals and visitors.

They are muscular and appear to be in good physical condition.

We left the house at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., thinking we’d better get there early due to the holiday weekend. We didn’t plan to eat until 6:00 om, 1800 hrs., but it can be fun to sit at the long bar at that restaurant, too, especially when we run into people we know. Immediately upon entry, we found seats at the bar.

I ordered a glass of low-alcohol white wine, and Tom ordered a Castle beer. He prefers Lion beer, but it hasn’t been available locally in the past several months, most likely due to the after-effects of the pandemic. There were several TVs, and they all were tuned to a cricket game. It was a little loud. The environment didn’t fit our socializing goals, and an hour later, we were on our way to Jabula, where we knew we’d have a good time.

They tend to “eat and run.”

Well, of course, we did!  We were warmly welcomed by Dawn and David and felt as comfortable as we could be. The bar quickly became packed with every seat taken, and as always, we were included in multiple lively conversations. The evening flew by in a flurry of delightful interactions.

Around 6:30, 1830 hrs., we ordered our meals but gladly ate at the bar. It was too cool for our liking to eat on the veranda, and we often enjoyed continuing the banter while we ate our dinner at the bar, which many customers do. After dinner and more chatter, we decided to head back to our house to stream a few more episodes of Outlanders. We’re well into season five with only one more season to go. The final season seven is in the works to be released in six to eight months.

Nyala’s mom, Nina, wanders into the bush rather than partake of the pellets with dad and son.

By 10:15, 2215 hrs., we turned off our JBL speaker and the laptop and hunkered down for the night. We both slept well. Thank goodness, the nighttime coughing from having had Omicron has ended, and we’re both able to sleep much better. Overall, we’re both feeling great, a massive relief after being sick for over a month. In a few days, it will be two months since we first tested positive. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed.

Inside Giraffe Bar with hundreds of donated hats on display.

With the holiday weekend, we’re seeing fewer animals in the garden today. But, we did get a lovely visit from the nyala family, with mom, Nina, Dad Norman, and baby Noah. It’s so sweet the way the three of them are always together. This is not the case with bushbucks, duikers, and other species when we seldom see a dad with the mom and baby. But the nyala family is a unit. It’s fun to see.

Often kudu moms and babies visit on their own, but occasionally we may see a group of kudus, known as a forkl, with moms, dads, and babies. We never see zebras or wildebeests with moms, dads, and babies, who group into a “dazzle.” Warthog dads don’t stay with the mom and babies. But, it’s fun to see impalas, known as a herd, with moms, dads, babies, and more family members in large herds. This morning a large family stopped by. They bark. It’s funny to hear.

Herd of impalas stopped by this morning.

Oddly, a group of wildebeest is called a ‘confusion” which may include both parents for some time. Then, the young males wander off into male bachelor groups, not unlike male Cape buffalos.

Ah, nature, it’s a wonderful thing. We feel blessed to be among it and all the wonderful people we meet along the way. And yes, although we went to Jabula last night, we’ll be going again tonight per our usual schedule. More fun to be had.

Have a fantastic weekend.

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

The sun began disappearing on the horizon while we were at Amazing River View for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…You can run, but you can’t hide…We couldn’t escape it!…

The chef was generous with my lobster portions, considering that’s all I ate, no starters, no salad, no starchy sides, and no dessert. It was delicious.

No, we didn’t wear a mask while aboard the ship. But, we never went into an elevator with more than a few people. We never attended the nightly entertainment shows or daily seminars. We sat at the dining tables for two. However, we did converse with other passengers nearby.

We made many friends and sat next to them at night in the bars, often deep in conversation. We danced, laughed, and engaged in fascinating and often lengthy discussions. We had a fantastic time. We were about to classify this cruise on Celebrity Silhouette from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton as one of our most socially fun and memorable cruises in the past 9½ years since we began our world travels.

It was cruise #25, indeed a worthy milestone, but now, with great disappointment, we’ll remember it as our first cruise as the pandemic was losing ground. Would you believe that we tested positive for Covid on the final day at sea yesterday?

We had a few warning signs but dismissed them, thinking, “Oh no, we don’t have Covid.” First, Tom was eating a lot of bread and often gets acid reflux when eating any foods with gluten. At night, his coughing would stop when he took an antacid, so we never associated it with Covid. He quit eating bread and seemed to improve significantly. We never gave it another thought.

We both often get allergy symptoms with repeated sneezing and occasional runny noses. Again, we thought nothing of it. We felt fine otherwise, especially when it would stop after a few minutes, as it often did.

After dancing at the silent disco on Monday night, we headed to our cabin around 1:00 am. I felt shaky, as if I had high blood pressure. Most people don’t get symptoms when their blood pressure is high, but I do. Plus, recently, Dr. Theo in Komatipoort, South Africa, put me on a newer medication that didn’t keep it as low as my prior medication, which I’d taken for 20 years.

I shouldn’t have switched to the new drug until after we returned. I started it about a month before we left, and all seemed fine, but I was experiencing occasional spikes and planned to discuss this with him upon our return. When I checked my blood pressure on Monday night, it was through the roof, and my pulse was very high.

I tried to relax to get the numbers down, but they were too high for comfort, even after a few hours. Luckily, I’d packed my old medication and took my old dose. Everything was normal again a few hours later, but I didn’t feel like myself. I barely slept a wink that night.

Of course, I was anxious about this weird event and attributed it to an excess of dancing and the two glasses of red wine I’d had that night. In South Africa, I only drink very-low alcohol wine produced in South Africa, none of which they had on the ship. But I’d spaced myself and hoped it would be ok. Apparently not, I surmised. Later, I read that Covid can cause a spike in blood pressure and pulse rate in those with cardiovascular diseases, such as me.

Tom’s Baked Alaska made my mouth water, but I didn’t taste it. He enjoyed every morsel. I am always content to “look at it,” so Tom calls me a “food voyeur.”

I awoke early after the awful night, feeling exhausted from not sleeping, attributing my lackluster demeanor to sleep deprivation. On Tuesday evening, I only drank Sprite Zero, and we headed straight to our cabin after enjoying dinner with a lovely couple at the following table, three feet (one meter) from us.

My Fitbit indicated I slept for eight hours on Tuesday night which generally would be sufficient to make me feel great. Wednesday morning, I awoke with a horrific sore throat. It was then that I told Tom I needed to get tested for Covid since the sore throat was a red flag. I headed to the doctor’s clinic on deck 2 wearing my mask.  When the nurse spotted me and asked what my issue was, I explained I needed a Covid test. She sent me back to our cabin and told me to wait until the doctor contacted me by phone.

A short time later, Tom arrived, and I explained we both needed to be tested. Shortly after, the doctor called, asking how we were feeling and our vaccination and booster status. Since July, we’d had both when we returned to the US for a month to see family and be vaccinated.

A few months ago, we were able to get boosted in Komatipoort at the booster station outside the Spar Market. We both felt at ease that we were well protected. But were we?

The doctor arrived at our cabin, fully decked out in PPE, and took the painful swabs of our nasal passages. Tom had the antigen test, and I had the PCR test. At this point, Tom had no symptoms, but I was feeling quite unwell. The doctor called to tell us we were both positive and stay in the cabin an hour later. Guest relations would contact us next with instructions.

They called, telling us to pack everything in our cabin within the hour. We were moved to quarantine level six with all the other Covid patients. I was feeling awful. Packing wasn’t easy, but I muddled my way through it, and an hour later, three fully protected attendants arrived and moved us to another balcony cabin. We walked through the “bowels” of the ship to avoid being near any passengers. It felt weird.

Once situated in the new cabin, which was sparse with the usual toiletries and items we enjoyed using in our prior cabin, the challenge of food and beverages began. It was a total fiasco. They said they didn’t have any Sprite Zero left on the ship. We even had trouble getting sufficient water bottles and ice to get us through the night.

This morning, the coffee and food orders were wrong. Room service couldn’t get our food orders right, and we were sorely disappointed. I wasn’t hungry but knew I needed to eat. Tom was feeling fine. His food order was also a mess. We were ready to get off the ship and to our hotel in Southampton.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll share what we plan to do if we still test positive on Saturday, the day we’re required to take a Covid test before boarding the Queen Mary 2. If that’s the case, it will be quite the challenge to see if and how we can change everything. Oh, dear. This situation is indeed a challenge.

We plan to spend the next few days in our hotel room in Southampton (hmmm…sound familiar?) while working on our recovery, eating good food, drinking lots of water, resting, and staying in touch with all of you. We are sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for a possible four hours to get checked into our room. Almost two hours have passed so far. But, as always, we are hopeful.

I am looking forward to lying down. But I put the time to good use, writing today’s post.

We avoided Covid for over two years. Considering the amount of travel we’ve done, we’re lucky it didn’t get us when it was the Delta variant. Now, with Omicron, whichever variant we may have, we hope to recover soon.

Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2021:

Many zebra butts were facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden. For more photos, please click here.

WiFi outage announcement…Covid on the ship…Greatly improved dinner!…

My NY strip steak was cooked perfectly rare and was flavorful.

Two important notices today:

  1. We could not upload a new post for the past few days due to a WiFi outage on the ship. This morning it was working again.
  2. The automatic email messages may not work, and due to the poor WiFi connection, there is no way I can focus on this while cruising. We may not be able to work on this until we return to South Africa after May 25th. In the interim, to see the new daily post, please set a bookmark for: www.worldwidewaftage.com and click on it daily. Once I complete and upload each new day’s post, it will be there.

    My generous portion of shrimp cocktail minus the sauce.

After Tom checked out the various posts on Cruisecritic.com, he noticed that a passenger on this cruise wrote there was one case of a passenger with Covid on the ship. Also, the pastry chef and his sous chefs all have COVID and are in isolation.

At this point, there’s been no mention if it’s Omicron or another variant. Nor have we heard anything about Covid during the Captain’s daily announcements. We can only wait and see what happens and continue to exercise caution to our ability.

Delicious salad with cheese.

I was enthused to post new food photos since the dining room manager, and the chef promised to improve the quality of my meals. They have done so with considerable aplomb. The past three nights since my conversations with them, they have taken it up themselves to ensure I have consistently good hot, fresh, well-seasoned, and well-prepared entrees suitable for my way of eating.

My steak was indeed prepared rare three nights ago, and the last two night’s grilled seafood platters atop a bed of lightly buttered cooked cabbage were delightful, so much so that I ordered the same meal for three consecutive nights.

Last night was a dress-up night, but I didn’t wear any of my new dresses. I’ve decided to “save them” for Queen Mary 2 when every night is dressed up to some degree. Tom did the same, avoiding wearing his new suit and shirts until the upcoming Queen Mary 2 cruise.

My delectable seafood dinner the past two nights.

Have we been having a good time? Absolutely! Not only are we enjoying every moment together, but we have also met so many people it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. I am slightly better at remembering names than Tom but still struggle to recall the names of everyone we meet.

It’s embarrassing to forget the names of the many lovely passengers we’ve met, and we feel bad when we see them later and are at a loss to recall their names. But, one group stands out in our minds: Ceara, Laura, and Jos, adult daughter and husband, and wife. They are lovely people whose company we’ve thoroughly on many occasions.

Tom’s Bananas Foster wasn’t prepared properly because the pastry staff is in quarantine due to Covid.

A few nights ago, we met two more great couples, all from Boston, near where I was born. The “boys” sat in a huddle and chatted while us three “girls” did the same. We didn’t head up to our cabin until 1:00 am.

The past few mornings, we slept in, missing breakfast entirely. Instead, we went to the buffet for lunch, but neither of us enjoyed the items we selected. With a one-hour-forward time change, by the time we got ready for bed the past few nights and finally dozed off, it was going on to 3:00 am, the new time.

We are scheduled to arrive in the Azores and Portugal over the next few days, hoping to get off the ship in each location, depending on weather conditions.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2021:

Another kudu with three oxpeckers on her back and neck. They often manage to photobomb our shots. See the warthog checking out the action for the photo. For more photos, please click here.

Day 4, transatlantic cruise…My food aboard the ship…Weird food photos…

Chef Gordon Ramsay would have been horrified if he was served such a dish.

We have no delusions about me being served suitable, tasty, and appealing meals on a cruise. All I expect is a nice-looking plate of protein prepared with seasonings, a few non-starchy green vegetables lightly seasoned and buttered, and perhaps a side or starter made with protein and dairy of some sort.

I am not picky. I will eat any of the above-mentioned foods prepared appropriately but also enjoy the visual aspect of a pleasingly prepared meal. In the past three nights, I have been shocked by the unappetizing appearance and taste of the dishes I ordered, hoping the chefs would appealingly prepare them. But, it has not been the case.

On the first night, I received a bland small boneless chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Yes, this was what I ordered on the first night, but it could have looked and tasted much better. On the second night, they offered a seafood pasta dish on the menu.

I asked if they could make me a plate of shredded, sauteed green cabbage topped with the same seafood used in the pasta dish. Instead, I received what is shown below in the photo…a plate of greasy cabbage with no meat.

This was the cabbage dinner I received minus the seafood I’d expected.

This was all that was served as my entree. Gently, I reminded the waiter that I’d ordered the dish with seafood on top of the cabbage. Ten minutes later, he brought me a little plate with two tiny scallops, two prawns, and two minuscule mussels in the shell. I placed the dry unseasoned seafood atop the cabbage and ate it.

When the waiter returned asking how my dinner was, I explained there wasn’t enough protein to fill me up. Another 15 minutes passed when he brought a second tiny plate of seafood. By then, Tom and our two dinner companions were enjoying their dessert.

After my plate was removed, I was brought a lemony dessert. It looked wonderful but was filled with banana slices, topped with sweetened whipped cream, and was made with rice flour. The dessert may have worked for a gluten-free passenger. But, I can’t eat fruit, sugar, or rice flour. I offered it to Tom, who tasted it and made a face, pushing it away. I explained to the waiter that I couldn’t eat that…politely, of course. I suggested they don’t bring me any dessert since nothing they’d have would work for me.

I was confused by this tiny appetizer plate. The items were so small it wasn’t more than two bites combined.

Then, the next night, after I’d ordered the branzini fish, a favorite fish of TV Chef Gordon Ramsay, but asked for a sufficient portion to get me full, I received the plate of fish as shown in today’s main photo. It looked like it had just come out of the ocean and was thrown onto the plate atop a few overcooked asparagus. Chef Ramsay would have been horrified and committed to some serious swearing over the appearance of that plate of fish.

In desperation, I ate the three tasteless pieces of unseasoned fish. It filled me up sufficiently to allay my hunger, and I didn’t think of food for the night’s remainder.

This morning I awoke, determined to get better meals, and while we were situated at Cafe al Bacio, I headed to the customer service desk to ask to speak to the dining room manager, who appeared promptly. He was appalled and embarrassed by the photos. I showed him the photos, and he immediately called the main chef to join us in conversation.

The lettuce wedge salad was nice. I ordered this again for tonight.

Together I shared my concerns, simply asking for seasoned food with palatable appearances and befitting my eating method. He assured me that today, everything would change and that my future meals would be entirely different, delicious, and appealing.

I will post photos so our readers can see the anticipated improvement, which I feel confident will transpire.

I am looking forward to posting photos from tonight’s dinner to share with you in tomorrow’s post. We always say, “We are the customers and pay for good food and service. It’s OK to ask for it to be better instead of writing endless bad reviews.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2021:

Female kudu resting in our garden. 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.

Night out for dinner at popular Apollo Beach oceanfront restaurant…

We made a toast to our friendship and to being two happy couples.

Shortly, we are heading out to Brandon, a nearby town about 30 minutes from here, where a mall and many other stores are located. First, we’ll head to Men’s Wearhouse to purchase Tom a suit for the upcoming dressy Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, only weeks away.

Tom hasn’t had a suit since we began our travels in 2012, but with baggage weight restrictions, we had no choice but to donate it along the way. With several Azamara cruises upcoming and some dressy nights on those cruises, having the suit and my dressy dresses will come in handy. The trick for both of us will be getting rid of some items in our bags to make room for all of our new clothes.

Karen and Rich were married on February 11, when Omicron hit, and we stayed behind to avoid infecting the bride and groom.

We brought along an extra piece of luggage, and in the worst case, we will load it up and pay any extra charge for the additional bag when we fly. The cruise lines don’t charge for the number of bags or the weight of the bags. Thank goodness for that.

So, for today, we start at Men’s Wearhouse, DSW shoes, TJ Maxx (for odds and ends), and Costco, where we’ll upgrade our membership card to get petrol saving when using a Costco credit card to fuel up throughout the world. All the little details of our lives keep us jumping, especially when we spend time in the US between our world travels.

We enjoyed dining outdoors with Karen and Rich at Circle’s Restaurant in Apollo Beach.

Last night, as shown in today’s few photos, we went out to dinner, having a fantastic time. The food was good but not great, but we were shocked by the bill in a casual restaurant such as Circles. For the four of us with drink, tax, and tip, the total bill was US $290, ZAR 4257. Sure, we each had two drinks, but that amount surprised us when, of course, Tom picked up the bill.

When we returned to the house, we watched the end of the Academy Awards. All were shocked over the events of the night when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for tastelessly using his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical issue as the brunt of the joke. The controversy is all over the internet.

I’d planned to walk out to the beach to take photos, but time got away from me.

Tonight, we’ll dine in after Tom, and I pick up some groceries at Costco for our taco salad dinner. It works out well being here with Karen and Rich since mostly they eat like us. I can easily maintain my low-carb way of eating, and Tom is doing the same, now that we found out we can’t get his favorite plain old-fashioned cake donut. These days, customers aren’t interested in eating simple cake donuts when so many more appealing types are available.

It’s time to head out, so I am cutting it short today. We hope you have a fantastic Monday and everything goes your way.

Be well.

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

The seed solution for Frank and The Misses. Now they both eat out of the little container. Once they’re done, we take away the container, so the pigs and bushbucks don’t eat the seeds. For more, please click here.

Photos from dinner out with friends…Food photos, too!…Happy St.Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate!…Six days and counting…

The six of us at Giraffe bar for dinner on Tuesday evening. From left to right: Lynne, Jan, me, Tom Mick and Steve.

Most likely, Tuesday evenings dinner out with friends, Lynne and Mick and Janet and Steve was the last time we gathered with local friends in Marloth Park, except for dinner on Friday night at Jabula with Dawn and Leon, owners of the beautiful establishment, with whom we’ve become good friends over the years.

Dawn and I had our pedicures done at our favorite local spa here in the park while Tom and Leon got together at Jabula to do “guy talk.” I rode back to Jabula with Dawn to find Tom and Leon enjoying uninterrupted guy time when we were done. I joined in on the conversation while Dawn went about some work for the restaurant. It was a pleasant start to the day.

It’s hard to say goodbye to everyone we’ve come to know and love since we first began coming to Marloth Park in 2013, the only place in the world to which we continually return. If someone had asked us years ago if we’d be willing to live without power and water at least several times a month and the occasional failure of WiFi, we would have emphatically stated a resounding “NO!!!”

Lynne and Jan had the chicken schnitzel with creamed spinach and topped with cheese.

But, here we are after over a year of load shedding, most months, with several days without water, and still, we’re coming back for more, a mere nine months from now.

If someone asked if we could spend our days in 100 F, 36C heat with no air-con except in the bedroom, spending daylight hours in the sweltering heat and humidity, we would have again said a resounding, “NO WAY!!! But, here we are in the hot, sticky, tropical climate of summer in Africa, spending our days dripping in sweat, rarely whining over the annoyances and discomforts typical of living in the rugged bush. Who knew that would appeal to us to this degree?

If some asked if we could live with insects, mozzies, and the constant prospect of a snake popping up out of nowhere, we would have flatly refused to visit such a place. But, here we are, 14 months later with all of this, and we’ve been quite content as we were on all of the other occasions we’ve lived in Marloth Park over the past nine years.

My grilled chicken salad with feta cheese and lots of vegetables.

Whether its spending time with the fantastic friends we’ve made or reveling in the exquisite nature of the bush, we’ve genuinely become bush people, not so much in the cruder sense, but in the mind of those who come to Africa and become entrenched in its magic.

It’s not easy to leave, even now, when we are excited about the prospects of the next few months, visiting friends in Florida, family in Minnesota and Nevada, and of course, embarking on two very different types of cruises; one, the first transatlantic on a Celebrity ship, familiar to us in its ambiance, style, food, entertainment, and people and two; sailing back across the Atlantic Ocean on a more formal British cruise line, Cunard on the famous Queen Mary 2. What an adventure after these past few years of relative confinement!

Surely, we’ll miss the animals. And there’s undoubted, a slight hesitation knowing when we return it will be to a different house, a few kilometers from here, where those animals we’ve come to know and love may never find us again such as Little, Broken Horn, Hal, Gordy, Thick Neck, Bossy, The Imposter, Holey Moley, Frank, and The Misses, Chevy, Mom and Babies, Lori and Barbara, One Tusk, Bad Eye, One Wart, Wounded, and the list goes on and on.

Tom, Mick, and Steve had this steak topped with an egg, chips, onion rings, and a small salad.

We may never see them again. But, new relationships with these fantastic beasts will develop in our new location, and we’ll have names for all of them in no time at all.

Many of our human friends won’t be here when we return in December. Some prefer to stay away during the heat and humidity of the summer months with all the above challenges as mentioned above. We can only play it by ear and see who can return.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate and special birthday wishes to RL!

Be well.

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

Tiny often lay down while I talked to him and listened attentively, his ears flipping back and forth. When we returned from the US visit n July, he never returned. He could have died of old age or injury, could have been culled, or moved on to another territory when he discovered we were no longer here. For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s favorite dinner!…Check out this photo…Gagging over food?…

Yesterday, I made Tom’s favorite dinner, low-carb pizza, made with a cheese and egg crust, sausage, onions, green olives, and mushrooms. It was delicious!

Making homemade pizza is time-consuming. Not only does all the quality cheese have to be hand grated, both cheddar for the crust and mozzarella for the topping, but also, the sausages must be pre-cooked, sliced, and drained. Chopping the yellow onion and making the pizza sauce from tomato sauce and Italian spices is quick and easy. Then, if lucky, we can find sliced olives at the market along with sliced mushrooms (which we did), both of which save a lot of time.

From time to time, I eat offal due to its nutritional benefits. In all, making two pizzas like the one shown above easily took me 90 minutes in the kitchen. Then, I made a big tossed salad and my dinner of sauteed chicken livers, chicken hearts, and chicken gizzards with onion, garlic, seasonings, and a splash of red wine.

Why don’t I eat the pizza? I do, but only a tiny portion since it’s just too fattening for my tastes. Although I always eat low carb, calories do count, regardless of the perception that one on a keto diet can eat all they want. It’s just not true. A person can gain weight on keto, which I do from time to time when I overindulge and then have to struggle to lose it. It’s just not worth it to me.

I didn’t include a photo of my food since it doesn’t look very attractive and might make some of our readers gag. Many people despise liver and offal from any animal. Tom used to get nauseous from the smell of liver cooking, but he’s gotten over it after all these years of smelling it when I cook it for myself. He won’t even give it a try.

Often I make separate dinners for us. I don’t care to eat pork chops or pork roasts. Wonder why? When I make those for Tom, I usually have fish or chicken on those nights. Recently I’ve been buying big bags of frozen prawns available at the meat market at the bush center. They are cleaned, deveined, headless, and slightly blanched, although I always cook them to be safe. Having these prawns on hand is perfect for those times when Tom has something I am not interested in eating.

Shrimp scampi is one option. But, most often, I prepare a shrimp salad with avocado or stuff avocado halves with shrimp salad made with onions, celery, hard-boiled eggs, and homemade sour cream dressing. Now that I mention this, I think that’s what I’ll make for tomorrow’s dinner for myself. Tom will have pizza for three nights which he’s thrilled to do.

Let’s face it. Food is a big part of most of our lives. When we celebrate an occasion food is always a part of the celebration. When we gather with friends, food is incorporated into the event. Every meal may become a special event if a bit of time is spent putting something special together, many of which only take short periods to prepare.

But, making Tom’s pizza is quite an undertaking, especially in the humid weather. I stopped what I was doing several times to walk and spend a few minutes in the bedroom cooling off. The temperature wasn’t high, but the humidity and dew point was over the top, leaving me sweating in the process.

Today, I have leftover offal and only need to make the salad for tonight’s dinner. That’s a welcome relief! So yesterday’s hard work is rewarded by not having to cook for a few nights.

As for the walking, as of yesterday, the end of my most exercise-intense week, I managed to get in over 51,000 steps. Since I am only walking indoors, often in place at a high pace, I am pleased and strive for this amount each week. The only difference will be the speed at which I get this accomplished. My Fitbit is highly instrumental in helping me to achieve these goals.

That’s it for today, folks. Sorry, no new wildlife photos. It rained, and few stopped by.

Be well.

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

A tiny baby mongoose with mom or dad on the pool steps. For more photos, please click here.

Fun times continue…

Mom and Baby Bushbuck stopped by in the rain this morning.

When Tom suggested we return to Jabula for dinner last night, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, although we’d been there on Friday night with friends. It would be just the two of us, and we always enjoy hanging out at the bar. Since returning to South Africa in January 2021, we find we could be described as “barflies” when we enjoy hanging out with the locals at the famous establishment.

It’s not that we drink so much. We don’t. But the banter at the bar is always engaging and lively. We often say it’s like the bar in the Cheers TV series, which aired for 11 seasons between 1982 and 1993 and was a huge hit. I didn’t watch much TV in those days, although I managed to see it a few times and found it to be quite entertaining.

We always arrive right at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, when they open again after a mid-afternoon break. We grab our two favorite seats at the bar, order our drinks, and in only minutes, the fun begins as locals join us, many whom we know and others we’ll come to know over time.

We’ll never forget these fun times, unlike any others we’ve had anywhere in the world. Years ago, in the early 1990s when Tom and I first met, we’d often meet at a bar, Old Chicago in Minnetonka, Minnesota, on Friday nights when Tom got off work early.

Spikey didn’t want to interfere with Mom and Baby’s visit, so he stayed undercover in the bush.

My sister Susan, who lived with me at the time, and she and I would head over to Old Chicago around 5:00 pm to get a good seat at the bar and play the game “Net Trivia” on a big TV screen. We played hard and fast with a device in our hands while sipping on wine and eating buffalo chicken wings.

As mentioned in earlier posts, when we were stuck in lockdown in the hotel in India for ten months, my dear Susan passed away in August 2020 from a combination of comorbidities and possibly Covid-19. I never knew for sure if Tom would show.

Newly in love, I was on pins and needles waiting for him to appear but managed to stay engaged in the game nonetheless. Susan and I had lots of fun as we always did, laughing all the while.

We never knew for sure if she died from Covid-19, but Julie, my younger sister, who’d been with her for days when she passed, ended up with a severe case of Covid-19, three days later. It was a difficult time and still brings tears to my eyes. I will always miss her and felt so helpless at the time, unable to do anything to help. We live in sorrowful times.

Our goal is to think happy thoughts and be optimistic for the future. Hanging out with friends at Jabula is highly instrumental in achieving this goal.

Last night was no exception. We hung out with Leon, Lyn, and David at first. (Dawn was in Cape Town with her family celebrating her 70th birthday). Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see dear friends Janet and Steve, who we hadn’t seen since our stay in Marloth Park in 2018/2019. We all squealed with delight to see one another.

We knew they were returning to Marloth Park, at long last, after a hiatus due to the pandemic. We knew we’d hear from them soon. They’d just arrived the previous day and decided to head out to dinner at Jabula for a good meal and also to enjoy time at the fun establishment.

We chatted on endlessly, enjoying every moment. Our mutual friends Lynne and Mick will also be here soon when they wrap up their unforgettable birding cruise at the southern tip of Africa. It will be significant to all be together again soon with many amazing stories to share.

We feel fortunate to have such wonderful friends here and be a part of this fantastic life in the bush.

Be well. Be happy.

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

Our new friend, “One-Wart,” is missing a full-sized wart on the right side of his face. He was likely “born this way.,” possibly due to inbreeding. We no doubt one year ago that he’d be a regular, and he has been. For more, please click here.