One day and counting…Packing is almost done…

A Great White Heron stood in the water at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park.

Note: Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. For the post, please click here.

As of now, noon on Thursday, and we have a good handle on the packing. I just finished folding Tom’s shirts into a neat stack he’s putting into his suitcase. He is currently in the bedroom packing his clothes, shoes, and miscellaneous items.

Tomorrow morning after I do our last load of laundry, we’ll add the remaining items, including the clothes we are wearing now. By early afternoon, we should be completely packed and ready to go for the arrival of the shuttle company between 5:05 and 5:50 pm.

This was our friend Tusker. He was the sweetest guy who visits several times daily, particularly after 1600 hours (4:00 pm). He was so comfortable that he often took a short nap.

Once we get settled at the airport, we’ll have dinner at one of the restaurants (not fast food) and relax until our red-eye boards around 9:30 pm for our 10:30 pm flight. I checked online, and Virgin Airlines has a slew of movies we haven’t seen, with few repeats from United and Delta, on which we’ve flown several times in the past few years.

Most likely, neither of us will sleep much on the flight, so we’ll spend most of the time playing games on our phones and watching movies, hopefully dozing occasionally.

We never tire of seeing these wondrous animals in Kruger and Marloth Parks.

This morning I made breakfast and got everything ready for tonight’s dinner of burgers, salad, and rice for Tom. We cooked bacon to top the burgers and sliced red onion. Tom will cook the burgers on the grill, and we’ll enjoy our final evening in this lovely property.

Last night, I received a message from the hotel in Edinburgh asking for payment. We had booked the reservation through Expedia on the premise that we’d pay for the hotel after we arrived. We’d never had this happen when the booking stated, “Pay at the hotel.” We didn’t want to spend time or effort disputing this, so I went ahead and paid for it.

A bloat of hippos at Sunset Dam.

I suppose they may have had a lot of cancellations in the past, especially during the pandemic and after, that prompted them to require this advance payment. They even stated in the email that they’d cancel our reservation if we didn’t pay now. Weird. But many things have been different since the pandemic, as we’ve witnessed repeatedly.

Tonight, Tom will check us in for our flight once we reach the 24 hours before. Apparently, Virgin Airlines doesn’t require prepayment for excess luggage until we check in at the airport, nor do they increase the fees if doing so at the airport. That’s one less thing to do now.

Crocs on the bank of Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park.

What do we have left to do? We’ll have to pack the toiletries we’ll be using in the morning while getting ready; Pack my pillow and a few items from the laundry we’ll do in the morning; Tidy up around the house, take the bedding off the bed, and toss towels in the laundry basket, and pack the cords (including the HDMI), chargers, and adapters from various spots in the house.

A few days ago, I signed up for travel insurance for both of us through United Health Care’s SafeTrip for a policy only lasting until we return to the US on August 31. The insurance doesn’t cover us while we’re in the US. We’re on our own until we leave again around October 12.

We’ll be back with one more post for tomorrow, and then, you may not hear from us until we arrive in Scotland on July 29th or 30th. Once we arrive, sleep will be most important, and getting ourselves into a regular schedule. Once we do so,  we’ll post right away.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 27, 2013:

Lisa, the owner. stapled most of the edges of this “mosquito” netting as screens for the windows. This kitchen window attracted many flies and bees, with frequent cooking going on each day. We will monitor it to ensure no gaps leave an opening for insects to enter. We removed the Ziplock bag to keep flies at bay, moving it to another screen-less window we often keep open. For more photos, please click here.

Four friend day…

Saying goodbye to family will be tearful.  We will hug.  We will kiss.  Sobs will catch in our throats.  No doubt. We will see one another, each week on Skype, communicate through email and see their faces in photos on Facebook.  They will be “with us” in our hearts and minds each day, counting down the days until they come to visit us from afar.  This we know for sure.

Saying goodbye to friends will be different. We all dream that once a friend, a friend forever.  Not the case.  It’s no one’s fault.  It’s nature which intended us to gather around our core family for love, support and companionship. 

In the wild, animals form a family group welcoming “outsiders” of their species. In humans, we welcome “outsiders” on our own terms:  knock before you enter, respects their family times, don’t call during dinner, don’t expect to be together on holidays.  In essence, make an appointment to see one another.  That’s a learned behavior in our human society, not a part of our nature.

Thus, as we prepare to go away, we do so with this certainty:  we will see our family again, we may not see our friends. It’s a reality.  It still hurts.

Yesterday, in one single day, a dear friend Chere, an amazing friend, came for a low-carb, gluten- -free breakfast. With many common interests and years as friends, we simply couldn’t get enough of one another; sharing, smiling and laughing.  

When she was leaving, I hesitated, “Will I see you before we go,” I asked.  

She squeezed my hand while we hugged, “Of course.  I’ll be back several times before you go.”  I wanted to believe this.  I wasn’t sure.

Second friend of the day, our delightful next door neighbor Nelleke, from whom we’ll be renting her home in Majorca, Spain next May. Most days, she and I walk the neighborhood with her little white Westie, Max, chatting on endlessly about our dreams, our hopes and our disappointments. She’s a strong and sturdy senior, a fitness aficionado, like me and young for her age.  She’s leaving today for a week to visit family.  I will now know what it is like without her. 

Later in the day, the third friend of the day, our precious neighbor Sue, showed up at our door for happy hour, staying until 9:00 pm, when we walked her home, bellies full, still giggling over our enjoyable evening together, the three of us.  She lost her beloved husband and our friend Chip, whom I wrote about here on June 1, 2012. I was given the honor of speaking about him at his memorial service only a month ago.  We miss him.  We will miss her.

As we walked Sue home at a little after 9:00 pm, reveling in the starry night sky, so bright away from the city lights, we ran into our friend Jamie, another amazing neighbor and friend, stopping to chat.  Only days ago, she discovered that her little dog Bella, has cancer.  I was reminded of losing our Willie such a short time ago and can only hope that little Bella experiences a better outcome. I will miss Jamie and her family.

More friends will come to visit, to say goodbye before we go.  Each time I will wonder, will we see them again, before we go, 74 days from today?  Will they email?  Will they stay in touch? Will they read this blog from time to time for an update on where we are, perhaps considering a visit?  

Friends have  moved away and we have stayed in touch.  My friend Carol, a friend for 27 years, an airline pilot, moved away over 25 years ago. We text, we email, we visit one another, we talk on the phone never losing touch.  

There are more all over the country that don’t let it slip away, that are still “part of the pack” kind of friends.  Then there are the friends with whom we talked with almost every day, that left, never to return, never to talk, never to write.  Suddenly, they appear on Facebook.  We smile.  We are happy to “see” them again, not angry we lost touch.  In most cases, we both failed to stay in touch.

It’s all a part of this life we live.  We love, we lose.  We lose, we rediscover. Whichever way it goes, we accept it, still loving them, still holding on to the memories. This, dear friends, we know for sure.