Just couldn’t take the itching anymore…Off to see the doc…


A kudu drinking out of the birdbath in the garden.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bushy-tailed bushbabies are huge compared to bushbabies in our garden.  We took this photo at Jabula a few weeks ago.

After over a month of itching unbearably especially during the night and rarely getting enough sleep, I was becoming frustrated with these awful pepper tick bites, mostly on my arms and neck where my skin was exposed when we wandered through the bush toward the river. 


In every case, I had on tons of repellent but apparently, it doesn’t work for ticks.  There are much harsher and toxic chemicals required to keep ticks at bay, including the tiny pepper ticks.  They’re called pepper ticks since they are as tiny as a single fleck of finely ground pepper, not visible to the human eye.
Each time we see flowers and plants we now wonder if they are invasive alien plants which are awful for the local ecosystem and wildlife.

Yesterday, when we returned to the eye doctor for Tom to select his new glasses (first replacement lenses in over six years) and for me to pick up my new contact lenses, we first decided to stop at the local pharmacy to see if the pharmacist had any suggestions for the itching.


I’d already tried several creams to no avail and even took sleep-inducing Benedryl during the day, after trying two other antihistamines, in a desperate attempt at some relief for a few hours.  Nothing, I mean nothing gave me any relief for more than an hour at most.

It appears pretty but does it belong here?

On a few occasions, I was hopeful the creams would help but they were so greasy and messy I was unable to wear repellent on top of them.  I didn’t want to take the risk of getting more bites from mosquitos which have begun increasingly populating the bush with the recent rains and warmer weather.


A few days this week I hid away in the bedroom, wearing my long-john type pajamas with the air-con on, in an attempt to avoid the necessity of wearing any repellent.  I still got a few more bites only adding to my discomfort.  

We call this pair of wildebeest, Dad & Son.  They aren’t frequent visitors like Wildebeest Willie but always welcome as are the zebras and warthogs.

Also, I didn’t want to have to spend our last three precious months in Marloth Park hiding in the bedroom.  I needed some relief and a long-term solution.  At the pharmacy when I showed the pharmacist my arms, she said I must go to the doctor immediately.


She explained I was at risk for tick-bite fever, a dreadful condition, and it appeared many of the bites were inflamed and on the verge of becoming infected.  That freaked me out enough to send us to the doctor’s office down the road to ask for their next available appointment. As it turned out, she was right.

Lion lying under a tree, as seen from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Dr. Theo scolded me a little for suffering for a month.  Why hadn’t I come in sooner?  I wish I knew the answer.  Perhaps I was trying to “tough it out” and no be a whiney tourist running to the doctor with every little complaint.  Hadn’t our six years of world travel toughened me up a bit?


In many ways, it has toughened me up but practicality must supersede pride and at 1630 hrs (4:30 pm) we returned to Komatipoort for the appointment with Dr. Theo.

Two male lions checking for possible dinner subjects.

In the interim, we’d planned dinner at Ngwenya with Rita and Gerhard which we had to cancel when we had no idea how long the appointment would take and the trip to the pharmacy to collect my three prescriptions.  Besides, I wasn’t feeling much like going out.


We haven’t seen them since they returned from Germany a few days ago and were disappointed to have to cancel.  But, we have plans for dinner reservations at Jabula tomorrow night with Kathy and Don as well for the six of us.  They’ve never met.  It’s quite wonderful to introduce old friends to new friends.

Two Big Daddies, horns entangled in a little scuffle over pellets.

This morning, after eating as required, I started the big dose of Prednisone to be tapered over a period of 12 days.  Hopefully, this will begin to reduce the severe itching which is by far the worst itching I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I’m feeling confident this will work.


Since Prednisone can cause insomnia (yikes) the doctor suggested I take it in the morning.  This morning, I took six pills as prescribed.  If lucky I may experience improvement by tonight since I’m literally exhausted from lack of sleep for over a month due to the worsening of the itching at night.

No harm was done…back to being friendly.

Today is a low key day.  It’s cloudy and cooler and we’ve had tons of amazing visitors we’ll be sharing in tomorrow’s post.


We hope all of our USA friends and family had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday.  Be well.  Be happy.

___________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2017:

We stopped to take this photo on the way to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.  This is a Northern Crested Caracara: “The northern crested caracara, also called the northern caracara and crested caracara, is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae.”  For more, please click here.

Preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner…A black mamba story unfolds…

 Here’s our previously shown video from the snake handling school 
we attended last March.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Our resident monitor lizard came out of his hovel for a drink from the cement pond.

Today is an outrageously busy day.  I started making the eight pumpkin pies early this morning and as I write, we’re just about ready to put the first few in the oven.  The oven only has one rack so I won’t be able to bake more than two or three pies at a time.


I made one low carb pie for Danie and Louise, who generally follow the banting (low carb) way of eating, as do many South Africans for various health reasons.  I didn’t make a low carb pie for me.  This time I will pass on a pie for myself based on the fact I’m still trying to lose the last few pounds on my diet and pumpkin pie, oh my, I could eat an entire pie in a day.  But, not these days.
 
There are many other items to prepare today with the balance to be completed tomorrow.  Thanksgiving dinner, although easy to prepare with recipes in my head, requires a tremendous amount of time to prepare.  

Also, Dawn and Leon (owners of Jabula Lodge & Restaurant) are coming for the dinner and bringing “take-away” containers so we can provide all of our guests with containers of leftovers for the next day along with their own pumpkin pie, another one of our traditions.  Everyone always enjoys leftover Thanksgiving dishes!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a turkey anywhere in this area.  Instead, we’re making one roasted stuffed chicken for each couple to enjoy as they’d like during the meal, taking home the remainder along with side dishes and their full-sized pumpkin pie.

Although there will only be 10 of us dining tomorrow evening I’m making enough for the equivalent of 20 people.  Then again, many of us Americans have made the festive meal for 20 or more people.

It would be a lot easier cooking today and tomorrow if it weren’t so hot.  Temperatures are expected to be a high of 38C (101F) or more including tomorrow.  With no AC in the kitchen area and having the oven on most of the day, it will surely be one hot sweaty day.
In March, at snake handling school, Chris, the snake handling trainer held this black mamba while Tom looked on.  For that post, please click here.

But, I’m not complaining.  This is a great group of people and we’re delighted to make this special traditional US meal which actually is celebrated in the US next Thursday, November 22.

We’d planned this date quite a while ago when we anticipated it might actually be the traditional “good-bye” party.  One way or another we’re hoping to stay until our scheduled flight to Kenya on February 20th if all goes well.  No word so far.

OK, enough about cooking.  On to our story about a black mamba that Louise shared with us a few days ago.  As for today’s photos (except for the “Sighting of the Day in the Bush” photo, we’d previously posted them in March.

However, based on today’s black mamba story, and my shortage of time we thought we’d repost these few previously shown photos and the links for these specific posts.

Recently, we’ve frequently mentioned our new friends, Rita and Gerhard, with whom we’ve been spending a lot of quality time.  World travelers themselves we find we have so much in common and we continually share our varied and interesting travel stories and more.

On Monday, this week, they left for a two-week visit to Germany to attend Gerhard’s brother’s 60th birthday party.  They’ll be returning before the end of this month.

Tom was handling a black mamba and did an excellent job although he’s not certain he’d want to do this in a real-life situation.

As mentioned in an earlier post, they’ve been living in the same house we rented when we first came to Marloth Park in December 2013, the house on Hornbill St. the house where a Mozambique spitting cobra fell from the ceiling of the veranda and landed within a few feet of Tom.  

He’s always classified that experience as the scariest of his life.  If you’d like to read that post, please click here for the photos of the venomous snake and story of what transpired on that fateful and memorable day.  

On Sunday, the day before their departure, Rita and Gerhard heard a plop on the floor of the veranda as we had on that fateful day in January 2014,  when they were sitting outside, as they do all day too, like us, waiting for wildlife to stop by.  This time the “plop” was a mouse perhaps being caught by the snake.

Although a black mamba doesn’t look that scary, a single bite can result in death within an hour, if not treated.

Rita and Gerhard were sitting on the veranda at that same Hornbill house where we’d lived, quietly enjoying the bush while reading, sipping cold beverages, without a care in the world.

Suddenly, they saw the snake, a black mamba.  Louise had given them a sheet with photos of various snakes in the event they’d have to identify one.  Here was their opportunity. They grabbed the sheet and were certain it was the outrageously venomous black mamba.


As I had done years ago, Rita couldn’t resist taking photos until the snake disappeared near the chimney.  What would be the point of calling the rangers if the snake was nowhere to be found?  They went about their day with a watchful eye knowing they were leaving the next morning for Germany.  

A video that Rita and Gerhard took of black mamba on the veranda.


On Tuesday, determined to get the darned thing out of that house, Louise contacted snake handler, Jaun, (20 something) who’d attended snake school with us.  He’s very active in the park conducting a tremendous number of services as an Honorary Ranger and all-around caring and good guy.

On Tuesday, he and Louise sat on the veranda waiting for the snake to appear so Jaun would capture it to return it to the wild.  By a stroke of luck after only a 10-minute wait, the black mamba made an appearance.

It was only 15 minutes later than Juan had captured the snake with his trusty snake grabber and his expert skill and placed it safely in a bucket with a lid.  The intent in capturing snakes is always to return them to the wild where they belong.  Mission accomplished, thanks to Louise‘s boundless determination and Juan’s excellent skills.

It sounded as if Rita and Gerhard stayed calm and under control when they spotted the snake which is vital to avoid agitating it resulting in an attack.  Black mambas can be very aggressive if provoked.

For residents of Marloth Park, here is Juan’s contact information.

So, there’s the snake story.  Most likely we won’t see too many snakes in this house.  Snakes generally don’t care to climb stairs up to a veranda when there’s plenty of fodder for them on ground level.  But, we always keep an eye out now that snake season has arrived with the warmer weather, especially at night when out and about.


We’d mentioned in yesterday’s post that we’d share the costs for the dentist and eye doctor appointments but we don’t have the final figures yet since Tom will choose his new eyeglasses next Thursday.  The optometrist didn’t have the style Tom prefer but he’ll be bringing several pairs from his other distant location for Tom to try.  Next Friday we’ll update this information.
Tonight, hot as it is and as busy as we’ve been, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner and relaxation.  Tomorrow will be another busy day but we’ll still be back with more.
___________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2017:

Once again, Tom captured another fabulous bird from the veranda in Costa Rica while I was busy indoors making dinner.  This Yellow-tailed Oriole, although at quite a distance, was a treasure to behold.  For more photos, please click here.

Stuff happens…The cost of medical care and prescriptions in South Africa…Astounding facts…

In South Africa, prescriptions are dispensed in plastic packs in these types of boxes, not in bottles.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Is this a white-crested seedeater?  Please correct me if wrong.

Over the past week, I had an odd discomfort in the front of my right shin but I didn’t notice any insect bites or injury.  It wasn’t itchy, just painful when I wore anything touching it.


Yesterday morning I awoke to added pain and noticed a raised red circle-like bump, the size of a small lemon.  I wondered if it was an infection or, more worrisome, some type of a blood clot.  One can’t be too careful when finding such a thing.

I didn’t give it much more of a thought until we were on our way to grocery shop in Komtipoort while wearing shorts and noticed the redness had increased in a few hours.  Since we were heading to Komatipoort anyway, Tom suggested we stop at Dr. Theo’s office and see if he could see me without an appointment.  It was close to noon.
This is the receipt for yesterday’s doctor appointment, total cost ZAR (rand) 565 (US $38.24).

After a wait of about only 20 minutes at most, Dr. Theo brought me into the exam room.  I so appreciated him squeezing me in.  Their office with several physicians is very busy with appointments booked as tight as possible. These quality physicians have quite a following.


After carefully and diligently checking my leg, he assured me it was definitely not a blood clot and most likely an infection, if treated early enough, could avoid the necessity of taking antibiotics.  He prescribed a cream what was to be applied twice daily.  


In the past 24 hours after only three applications of the cream, its already begun to improve although there still is some redness.  If it doesn’t continue to improve over the weekend, antibiotics may be necessary.


It’s dirty here…lots of dirt and dust constantly flying through the air especially when the wildlife kick up more and more dirt from the garden when they visit.  Even the slightest scratch could become infected under these conditions.

The ZAR 49.95 (US $3.38) listed on this receipt was for the two tubes of cortisone cream the doctor prescribed.  The balance, the ZAR 1224.49 (US $82,68) was for the entire batch of prescriptions, enough to last for four months.

While visiting with Dr. Theo, I asked for prescriptions for the three medications I take and have for years.  Here in South Africa, many medications can be purchased over the counter in small amounts.  But, for a several month supply, a prescription from a local doctor must accompany the purchase.



None of my three medications are narcotic thus making it relatively easy for a doctor to write a prescription.  As mentioned in yesterday’s post describing “what to bring for an African safari,” we breezed over prescriptions.  If you missed that post, please click here.


We were both thrilled over the low cost of the doctor’s appointment and the costs of the prescriptions.  Actually, next week we’ll return to the pharmacy for two more month’s supply for the three prescriptions.  They had to order them.  Then, I’ll have enough for six months.  

Itemization for the three prescriptions, sufficient for four months.

Before we leave South Africa, either in November or February, (depending on our immigration status) we’ll try for another six-month supply even if we I have to go back to the doctor for the required appointment.  At only ZAR 565 (US $38.24) for the appointment, it’s certainly worthwhile.


I become frustrated when medical issues arise and sometimes hesitate to mention them here.  But, I do. Many of our worldwide readers are traveling or contemplating traveling and any information we can provide when “things go wrong” may be useful information.  


Its all a part of our continuing transparency and commitment to our readers to “tell it like it is” with no fluff, no minimizing, no exaggerating…plain and simply, the facts, keeping in mind we do tend to get excited when nature unfolds before our eyes.


Speaking of nature unfolding before our eyes, I need to wrap this up.  We’re getting ready to head out for our daily drive to see what more treasures we can encounter in this magical place.


May events in your life bring you excitement and enthusiasm.

___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2017:

This mom and her calf are our neighbors in this gated community of Roco Verde in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Busy day in Komatipoort…Impressed with medical care, costs and prescriptions in small town in South Africa…

“To graze on that many leaves, giraffes usually spend 16 to 20 hours per day standing and walking. Amazingly, giraffes don’t need much sleep despite their long days of exercising and eating. They often only get 30 minutes to 2 hours of sleep every 24 hours from the short naps they take throughout the day.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This rather large gecko was a new visitor, spending most of the day and evening on the veranda.

Many tourists and part and full-time residents choose not to have vaccinations, other than the required Yellow Fever as mentioned in a prior post.  If we were “regular” tourists visiting Africa for a two-week holiday/vacation, we may have done the same.

Note the size of the gecko in relation to Tom’s water shoe.

However, as we continue to travel the world visiting many countries where certain diseases are rampantly escalating, we’d decided a long time ago to be cautious and keep vaccinations up-to-date as often as possible.

We’re thrilled to see birds stopping by our feeder.  According to our friend, Lynne these tiny birds are blue waxbills.

There were a few for which we’d fallen behind in getting boosters over this past almost six years.  When we met with Dr. Theo a few times over these past weeks (located at Rissik Medical Centre, 71 Rissik Street, Komatipoort, Komatiepoort, 1340, phone #27 013 793 7306), he diligently reviewed our vaccination records.

Each night I practice taking photos in the dark once the bushbabies arrive.

He made excellent suggestions as to how we can be up-to-date on all of those he deemed necessary based on our ages, health, and exposure through our travels and also that we should be re-vaccinated in 2022.

Proud giraffe standing in the bush as we drove past on one of our drives.

Yesterday was my turn for a grouping of vaccines compiled into two injections, one in each arm.  One of the injections was slightly more painful than the other and my arm was a little sore last night but is greatly improved today.  Tom experienced the same scenario when he had his injections last week.

Epipens cost in the US is ZAR 7531.07, (US $600) for a pack of two.  We purchased two yesterday for ZAR 2126.79 (US $169.44).  (In either case, these prices are based on out-of-pocket costs, not insurance paid).

As for any other medical issues we needed to address, with caution to avoid jinxing myself (slightly superstitious, I guess), my gastrointestinal issue is improving.  I am off all medication for this issue.  I feel discomfort if I eat too much at any one meal or drink too much liquid in any one setting.  But I am feeling better utilizing these limitations.

Yesterday, we purchase two EpiPens at the local pharmacy which did require a prescription from Dr. Theo.  See pricing on receipt posted here. 

Based on the improvement and Dr. Theo’s observation at this point there’s no need for a number of invasive tests.  Let’s face it, as we age, most of us find we must adapt to some changes in our lives to accommodate medical issues of one kind or another. 

Many of our readers have written describing how they’d love to travel the world but have, knee, hip and back problems that make travel difficult if not impossible.  Instead, they live vicariously through us which means so much to us both. 

My bill for multiple vaccines I had yesterday by Dr. Theo Stronkhorst in Kpmatipoort.  Tom’s bill was identical last week.  Our total cost for two office visits and vaccines for each of us was rand (ZAR) 1707.81 for a grand total of ZAR 3415.62 (US $272.12). 

We only wish everyone who desired to do so, could live this peculiar life, generally on the move.  We continue to be grateful each and every day that we’ve been able to continue on even with some issues along the way.  This gastro thing has plagued me for the past 2½ years. 

Now, this morning I can sip on my organic herbal tea and not suffer any ill effects.  This is a big deal.  I haven’t tried drinking coffee yet and have decided to give it several more months until I do working my way up to one or two cups a day, if possible.  I really do miss morning coffee!

Tom’s favorite bushbuck, “My Girl” is a frequent visitor.

During my doctor appointment, Tom went to Obara, the farm store in Komatipoort, to purchase two more bags of pellets.  Now, we have an inventory of three 40 kg bags, enough to last for weeks.  The animals continue to visit throughout the days and evenings.

This baby bushbuck has grown considerably over these past few months.

Today, the weather is perfect with clear skies with a cool and comfortable breeze wafting through the air.  We couldn’t be more content and at ease.  Later today, a drive through the park may be on the agenda!

May your day bring you contentment and ease as well! 

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2017:

Canadian geese are pretty birds but poop two pounds per day in the grass, a real nuisance for homeowners, particularly those living on a lake, as we did in our old lives.  For more Minnesota photos, please click here.

Plunge, twist and release…To vaccinate or not to vaccinate…A visit to a local river view restaurant…

 
Yesterday afternoon, the view from the restaurant, aptly named, Amazing River View located in Marloth Park.  They appear to have good food at decent prices along with free WiFi.  Guess we’ll be heading that way again one day or evening soon.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Beautiful sunset two evenings ago on our return drive from Komatipoort.

It was on March 28, 2012, that I started a series of many vaccinations as we prepared to travel the world.  The first dose I received is documented here on that long ago date.  Tom started his injections a few months later, work schedule permitting.

Many travelers come to Africa only receiving the required-for-entry Yellow Fever vaccine, preferring to take their chances on many other potentially communicable diseases. 

While seated at Amazing River View restaurant, we zoomed in for a few croc photos while they basked in the warm afternoon sun.

Many residents we’ve asked from South Africa, USA and other parts of the world, have stated they do not get any vaccines or take any malarial prophylactics.  None seem to have contracted any major disease during their time in South Africa.

We took a course of Malarone over the past few weeks (which goes by many different names in many countries) in preparation for our trip to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The final, one pill a day course ends today. 

Cattle egrets love to hang around with large mammals, eating their scrap and insects.

At that point, we’ll be winging it for malaria instead diligently applying repellent with DEET three times a day on all exposed skin. I know, many people object to the use of DEET and suggest we try many other non-chemical repellents.  Unfortunately, after trying many “natural” repellents, we still got mosquitos bites.


Are mosquitoes rampant here in Marloth Park?  Not so much.  Having been here since February which was still summer when we arrived, (summer ends on March 21st in this part of the world), the mozzies weren’t too bad. 

This croc was lounging in the tall grass along the river.

Wearing repellent day and night and by using a variety of candle-lit insect repellents near our feet at night, we seldom are bitten.  Overall in the three and a half months, we’ve been here, I’ve received no more than a dozen bites.  Zero bites would be ideal but not necessarily do-able in this type of climate.

Once we arrived in Africa we knew it was time for booster vaccinations although many, such as Yellow Fever, are only needed once every 10 years or according to Dr. Theo Stonkhorst, is good for life. On Thursday, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for our vaccinations. 

Serene view from the restaurant often includes wildlife sightings.

When I asked Dr. Theo if any of the vaccines contained the preservative Thimerosol to which I have an allergy, he read the accompanying literature but didn’t feel comfortable giving me the vaccines until he verified the ingredients with the drug company that Thimerosol wasn’t included in any of the shots I needed. 

He checked on Friday, leaving me a text message suggesting I return on Monday for my shots when he discovered none of the vaccines contained Thimerosol.

We could hear hippos from this location but they were hidden behind the vegetation.

We’ve decided not to list which vaccines we received other than the typhoid booster.  We feel that decision if best left to your doctor and/or travel clinic.  Age, potential exposure, the location of travels and health conditions play a role in determining which vaccines, if any, other than the required Yellow Fever are appropriate for you.

Tom went ahead and had his vaccines on Thursday. We left the doctor’s office waiting to determine my fate based on the Thimerosol allergy and if, in fact, it is a preservative used in the vaccines. As it turned out, it was not. On Monday at noon, we’ll return to Dr. Theo’s office when I’ll have the balance of my injections.

This fast moving bird made it difficult to get a good photo.  Thanks to our friend Louise in Kauai Hawaii for identifying this bird as an African jacana.

Tom had two injections (each containing a few different vaccines), one in each arm, with no ill effects.  Much to our shock, the bill for the office visit and the vaccines was only ZAR 1700 (US $136.01).  In the US, this cost could have been eight or nine times this amount.

A tiny island of blooming vegetation in the Crocodile River.

As mentioned in several of today’s captions, yesterday we had a great afternoon visiting the restaurant referred to as “Amazing River View” aka Serene Oasis, located on the Crocodile River only five minutes away. 

An Egyptian goose standing on a mossy rock in the river.

We’d intended to do our usual drive in Marloth Park, on which we embark every other day. But, when we drove into the beautiful park where the restaurant is located, looking for a working ATM (both machines at the two shopping centers were “out of service,” most likely out of cash on a Friday) and we saw the restaurant had an ATM, we decided to get cash and enjoy a beverage while overlooking the river.

Once we entered Marloth Park, we spotted a few giraffes close to the paved road.

It was a wise decision.  We had an excellent experience sitting in the outdoor bar where we had perfect views of the river.  By 4:00 pm we were back “home” to finish a few items for our dinner planned for 7:00 pm on the veranda.  It was a great day and evening.

Tonight, Louise, Danie and Louise’s parents are coming for dinner.  We were up early making preparations for the big evening meal, again on the veranda, enjoying the arrival of a wide array of visitors and of course, each other’s company.

Giraffes in the bush shortly before sunset.


To those in the US, have a safe and sound Memorial Day weekend and for everyone elsewhere, you do the same.

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2017:

A year ago today, we arrived in Minnesota for a six-week family visit and rented this SUV.  As a former owner of this model, Tom was thrilled with this new Ford Explorer.  We couldn’t believe all the technology in this rental car, more than any we’ve seen throughout the world. As it turned out we rented this car for the full six weeks for only $50 more than a tiny economy car from this site:  www.rentalcars.com  For more photos including the hotel where we stayed, please click here.

Health updates…Doctor appointment in Komatipoort, South Africa…

A giraffe against a blue sky in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A goose looking up at the sky while sitting on a tree stump in the Crocodile River.


Some mornings, when I sit down at the big table on the veranda to begin to prepare the day’s post, I’m at a loss for a few minutes.  What can I say and show today that will retain the interest of our readers all over the world?


Many of our readers are from countries where life is very different from our lives and from that which they know.  That fact in itself is sufficient to hold their attention for awhile but, over the long haul?  We hope so!

The marshes along the shore of the Crocodile River.

We never want our readers to grow tired of our stories and photos especially while we’re here during this extended period in Africa.  At the very least, every 90 days, we’ll be off to other African countries to ensure we can return to South Africa which we’re using as a base. 

In only 24 days, we’ll be leaving South Africa for Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe as we begin to round out our African experiences while complying with immigration laws.

Rapids on the Crocodile River.  No boats are allowed on this dangerous river, a habitat for crocs.

There’s no guaranty we’ll be allowed to leave and re-enter so many times in these remaining 10 months but we’re hoping to accomplish this lofty plan we set out from the get-go.

In the interim, these 90-day stints in between our travels are filled with such purpose and pleasure that we’re beside ourselves with sheer joy.  This morning as I write this at 8:15 am, we’ve already had two zebras, four bushbucks, four kudus and dozens of Helmeted Guinea Fowl hanging out in the dirt yard in our clear view from the veranda.

Had this branch not been obstructing this elephant she may have charged us when we suddenly came upon her while driving on the paved road in Kruger.

What a spectacular way to start the day!  The first thing I see after heading outdoors after showering and dressing for the day is the wide grin on Tom’s face as he looks back at me from his steady stance at the edge of the veranda with the yellow pellet container in his hand, happy, fulfilled and excited to share what he’s seen so far. 

He gets outdoors well before me each morning.  I have a tendency to lounge in bed until 7:00 am or so reading the world news on my phone.  Once I’m up I can get ready for the day in no time at all, highly motivated to see what’s going on.

Every night, we attempt to take photos of the bushbabies, eating from the cup of yogurt we place on their little stand in a tree.

In our posts, as you long-time readers so well know, we incorporate snippets of a more personal nature.  Some have asked, “Why post such personal matters?”

The answer to this is simple.  There are literally millions of travel related sites on the web, most extolling the virtues and downfalls of various tourist sites to visit throughout the world often while providing valuable information for travelers.

Tom took this photo that makes me laugh…Mutton Chops on the left and Scar Face on the right, already on his knees in prime position for eating pellets.  Of course, we complied.  We love it when these two stop by, often twice in a day.

We’re a little different.  We include information about places we’ve seen and our experiences, good and bad.  However, we include the realities of who we are, also good and bad, what we think and feel and how we relate to each other and the world around us. 

At times, that information is highly personal, information people don’t necessarily share even when in a group of close friends.  And, here we are, sharing it with the world.

This bushbuck seems a little large to be nursing.  No doubt, mom will send her on her way to fend for herself.

For example, yesterday, we both had doctor appointments with Dr. Theo in Komatipoort as mentioned in yesterday’s post here.  Our intent was to review our immunization records, which we had with us and begin the process of updating some vaccinations sooner rather than later.

Also, I wanted to further discuss my gastrointestinal issues with Dr. Theo since the problems had recently returned after a short-term reprieve.  I was so hopeful during the two-week period where the discomfort was minimal, thinking that perhaps, now that I was off the PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), which have a lot of side effects, things would improve.

These two male zebras are now regulars, visiting every few days.

Alas, they did not.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in terrible discomfort dreading the prospect of having to go to Nelspruit for invasive medical tests.  I’m one of those people who totally freak out having to have invasive tests.  I suppose most people feel the same way but are braver than I.

Dr. Theo examined me again and felt confident that I don’t need invasive tests when he suggested I try another medication, an H2 blocker (i.e. Pepsid, Tagamet) which has considerably fewer side effects and may be very helpful for what he considers to be gastritis.  My blood tests results were perfect much to our relief.

Zebra drinking from the pond after eating pellets.

He also suggested some dietary restrictions including foods high in acid, such as coffee, tea, chocolate (don’t eat these anyway) and anything carbonated (there go my sparkling water and diet tonic).  I’m busy checking online for highly acidic foods to ensure I avoid them, along with all the other foods and drinks I avoid anyway.

After reviewing our records, he insisted we follow through on several vaccines but only had one available in his office, the rabies vaccine which he injected in both of us.  He wanted us to wait three weeks and return for those that need to be updated, such as typhoid, hepatitis, and a few others he’s going to research for us.  I love a doctor who does research rather than sticks to the “old ways’ he already knows!

This morning in the bright sunlight, two females and two babies, regular visitors stopped by for pellets.  In the background is Wart Face who can be very bossy around the pellets.  Even the aggressive and territorial guinea fowl are scared of him.

Dr. Theo is expecting improvement for my condition within four to five days.  Once again, I’m hopeful. I took the first pill last night at bedtime and actually had a great night’s sleep.  Whether I can attribute this to the medication or not is questionable at this point.


Today, we’re heading out to lunch with our new neighbors Rina and Cees from The Netherlands to the same restaurant Louise and Danie had taken us on Easter Sunday, the Border Country Inn.  No doubt, we’ll have a pleasant afternoon with our next door neighbors.

May you have a pleasing day with those near you!

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2017:

With the sun shining in Fairlight, Australia, we opened the sliding glass door only to have a visitor come to see what I was cooking.  Three Magpies visit every day to see what morsels we have for the day.  Carnivorous scavengers Magpies are always on the hunt for a tidbit of meat. Please click here for more.

The saga continues…Doctor visit…Rules for feeding wildlife…

This flower is blooming from this greyish pod on a tree in the yard.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A Vervet monkey eating something rousted up in the trash in the neighborhood.  Due to the monkeys, there are caged bins in front of each property in which to enclose the garbage until the garbage truck arrives.

Soon, we’re heading to the doctor to update some of the vaccinations we’d had in Minnesota six years ago.  With several boosters needed, an excellent medical clinic was recommended to us by local friends.

These two zebras stop by occasionally along with Big Daddy Kudu.

We’ve been putting this off for some after failing to follow through with a plan we made to do this in January.  We’d changed our minds in going to a local clinic in Buenos Aires, feeling it would make more sense to have these done while in Africa, based on potential diseases one may acquire while here.

Yesterday, after the rain, we drove toward the river to find this scene.  Adorable baby hippo with mom.

Today, we both have appointments with Dr. Theo who’s located at the following phone and address: 

Telephone +27 13 793 7306
Address Rissik Medical Centre,
71 Rissik Street,
Komatipoort, 1340

A few weeks ago, I had an appointment to see Dr. Theo when it was time to have some blood tests.  Today, I’ll receive the results of those tests and will schedule my vaccinations as needed.  Tom will begin his vaccinations today.

As we drove along the Crocodile River we spotted three more hippos grazing along the shore.

After the noon appointment, we’ll head to the Spar supermarket for more groceries, the Butchery for a few items and the Obara hardware store to purchase a few more big bags of pellets. 

Typically, males wander the bush together while females and the young stay together.

It’s been so busy with visitors in our yard that we can barely keep up.  Never more than an hour passes that we don’t see any of the dozen or so species that frequently stop by.

Even the evenings are action-packed.  As it’s turned out, we have more visitors now than we did four years ago at the Hornbill property, which we loved for that very reason.  The house wasn’t ideal but the flow of visitors was exceptional.

Many local women are adept at carrying heavy loads atop their heads.

Now, we love this house and the steady stream of wildlife, many often returning several times a day topping the numbers we had at Hornbill.  Sure, they come for the food, not due to their “liking us” but we can dream, can’t we?  When they look into our eyes, we feel an affinity with each and every one.

Even, the silly mongoose, sit in the yard and stare right at us wondering when we’re getting the big green pie plate ready for them with the raw scrambled eggs.  Tom always makes the concoction and lays it in the dirt for them to devour, quickly running back up the veranda as they gather around the dish in the dozens.  These funny looking little creatures have come to know he’s the food source.

In Kruger, male impalas don’t seem concerned about staying close to elephants.

As soon as they see him, they begin watching his every move in anticipation of when the egg platter will be delivered.  Actually, it’s rather hilarious.  And, the same goes for various groups of animals each of us has come to know more readily.

Some homeowners and renters in Marloth Park don’t feed the wildlife.  They feel it domesticates them too much.  We understand this philosophy and appreciate their position.  We also struggle with this concept.

Bushbabies gently share the cup of strawberry yogurt we place on the stand for them each night.  They arrive every night when darkness falls.

But, knowing many of them desperately need nourishment and based on the quality of the vegetables, fruit, and pellets we provide, we feel we’re only supplementing their grazing in the bush.

As the leaves become more sparse as winter approaches, we’re particularly mindful of this dilemma.  Also, there’s the concern as to who will continue to feed them when we’re off to Zambia for a week next month.

It was almost dark and these five bushbuck arrives to enjoy some pellets together.  The only two we’ve seen together is the mom and baby who visit frequently.

These animals are smart.  If they don’t find food here, they’ll wander off to other homes where it’s available or rely upon the bush for whatever they can find.  There’s no easy answer for “to feed or not to feed.”

Here is an excellent article from the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers that reviews the feeding of various grazers in the park.  It clearly defines our theory of how and what to feed the wildlife.  Please click here for the article.

Scar Face and Mutton Chops now stop by several times a day, most often together.

We’ve heard stories of homeowners feeding the animals their human “leftovers.”  In most cases, these are not good for them, especially when it contains foods they don’t normally consume.  Kudus (and others) have died after eating corn and other human products. 

Also, it’s important to note that it’s totally unacceptable to feed wildlife old or rotting food.  Their bodies cannot safely process the bacteria and pathogens found in rotting food. 

A warthog mom and her fairly young piglet, a kudu and a Vervet monkey all on the road beyond our driveway.

We will continue to feed the wildlife pellets and fresh cut up veggies and fruit.  We’ll always pay special attention to how long its been since we cut up apples, carrots, and vegetables to ensure freshness and safety for our visitors.

That’s it for today, folks.  We’ll be back tomorrow with more including details of our visit to Dr. Theo in Komatipoort.
 

May you have an healthy and enriching day!  

________________________________________              

Photo from one year ago today, April 16, 2017:

After baking these roll-ups in a moderate oven for 25 minutes, they were perfectly cooked.  The leftovers are good served cold.  For more details and food photos, please click here.

Results from appointments with Dr. Candy in Atenas…

The clinic has an ambulance, ready to go in an emergency.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Once back at the villa, the clouds started rolling in from the mountains.

Yesterday afternoon, with a bit of trepidation, we took a taxi for our appointment with Dr. Candy Midence Noguera, Medico Cirijano Cod, 7620, Consulta Medica – Ninos – Adultos (for children and adults). Phone: 2446-7440 or 2727-6868.

We’re posting the above information if any of our readers visit Atenas and its surrounding areas in the Alajuela Valley, Costa Rica, and need to see a physician. The delightful, bi-lingual Dr. Candy was the perfect choice for our needs. 

The reception desk at Dr. Candy’s office, Linea Vital de CR.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with the quality of service we received from Dr. Candy. She brought both of us (on time) into her office, conducting an exam, and walked through each question on the detailed forms with us. 

The cruise line, Ponant, requires the exam and accompanying documents to be completed anywhere between 40 and 90 days before the cruise date. This worked out perfectly for us when we’re leaving Costa Rica in 19 days. 

The waiting room at the doctor’s office.  A patient came out of an appointment with the doctor with an IV bag attached to her arm.  She sat on this sofa while the IV bag was hung on a small hook attached to the bulletin board.

As of today, we’ll sail on the Antarctica cruise in 82 days. (The upcoming 30-night cruise to South America sails in 21 days, for which we needed no such documentation).

Fortunately, we passed the exams without any issues. Neither of us has any conditions that might prevent a traveler from embarking on such a cruise that travels well outside the scope of air ambulance service while in one of the most remote areas in the world, Antarctica.

As usual, the afternoon sky was cloudy, and rain had begun to fall when we arrived by taxi from the villa. The round trip taxi fare with tip was US $7.03 (CRC 4,000).

Our total doctor bill for both of us was US $120 (CRC 68,297), not covered by our major medical insurance.  Had we been in many other countries, the bill could have been considerably higher. We paid with a credit card and were on our way after big hugs from Dr. Candy.

We now have all the completed documents in hand. Today, we’ll scan and email the medical forms and other forms we had to complete in this time frame, including passport and additional general information. It will be a relief to have this out of the way today, along with all the other “paperwork” we mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Now, during these remaining 20 days in Costa Rica, we only have to scan a pile of receipts, make one more dental appointment for me (something’s wrong with another crown), grocery shop on two more occasions, and of course, pack.

View across the street from the doctor’s office.

We’ve accessed the food on hand and what we’ll need to purchase as we’ve scheduled meals on our calendar for each of the remaining days. After I make tomorrow’s pizza (enough for three nights), we’ll only cook dinners for two more weeks. 

This morning it dawned on me that we won’t be cooking for another long stretch, this time from November 23, 2017 (sail away date) until we arrive in South Africa (on or about February 10, 2018), for a total of 80 days. 

This won’t be the most extended period we haven’t cook. When we left New Zealand on April 15, 2016, and eventually ended in Phuket, Thailand, on July 23, 2016, we didn’t cook a single meal for a total of 100 days.

Cows grazing in our gated neighborhood on the return drive from the doctor.

These long stretches seem to trigger my enthusiasm for cooking once we’re settled in a new location and have begun thinking about some of our favorite meals. Years ago, I loved to cook, but once we left the US, my interest seemed to wane due to the difficulty in finding ingredients we use for our cooking style.

Today, we’re hoping the sun will continue to shine long enough for pool-time, after which I’ll get to work on scanning all the documents and receipts. It will be good to have this task off my mind.
Have a peaceful day.

Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2016:

View one of the 70 islands in the Cumberland group as we sailed by early in the morning. This is one of the main reasons we prefer a balcony cabin. For more photos, please click here.

Paperwork galore… Why so many errors?… Multitasking myths… More Managua photos…

A colorful collection of hammock slings in the Market Restaurant at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Managua.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Tom got this distant shot of the Montezuma Oropendola, which is a New World tropical icterid bird. It is a resident breeder in the Caribbean coastal lowlands from southeastern Mexico to central Panama but is absent from El Salvador and southern Guatemala.

We spent most of the day yesterday working on paperwork. I prepared a new food list for today’s appointment, which must be reviewed by the doctor for the upcoming Antarctica cruise. We completed all the forms necessary for the appointment, leaving the remainder required for the doctor to enter.

The lunch buffet at the Real Intercontinental Metrocentre Managua Hotel in Managua, Nicaragua, was tempting. But, after the complimentary breakfast, neither of us was interested in lunch, a meal we rarely consume.

We must always do some paperwork for various world travel and financial matters, including gobs of forms to print, sign, scan, and email. Some documents require faxing. Who still uses fax machines?  Aren’t they obsolete?

Most of the items in this buffet were suitable for my way of eating.

When we must fax a document, we can either email it to son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, during business hours or email it to our mailing service, where they can fax whatever we need. This is only concerning documents in the US, where all of our document processing is done with various businesses.

Seafood, chicken, and ham are great additions to salads. 

Often, mistakes are made on the other end; lost documentation, failure to complete processing, and the necessity of frequently making phone calls using our Skype phone number to confirm everything are correctly done. 

This is time-consuming and disappointing. We’ve learned never to assume the paperwork was handled properly, and we tend to check and re-check many times to discover the task wasn’t completed. We could quote dozens of such incidents over these past five years, but…we won’t bore our readers with this.

A sushi bar at the hotel.  Tom doesn’t care for sushi which I used to love in my old life.  Now, without the rice in the sushi rolls, I have no interest.  Plus, I’ve lost my taste for raw fish over these past years of travel.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’re not exempt from making errors. In our old lives, I recall having to call when cable and other utility bills had errors. What’s the deal with this?  

Even while in Minnesota, we discovered I’d booked our flight to Nevada on the wrong date, and it cost us over US $700 (CRC 398,574), never to be recouped. It was the first significant booking error I’d made that couldn’t be reversed or revised in some manner.

Comfortable seating in the sushi bar.

We, humans, are undoubtedly responsible for the words “human error.” It’s rampant. And, even the most meticulous of us can find ourselves in a pickle from our errors. Why does this happen?

After careful consideration of my own errors, I’ve come to realize it always occurs when I’m multitasking and not paying enough attention. There’s no excuse. 

The outdoor sports bar.

Since my flight booking error, this past summer occurred while we were so busy in Minnesota, I’ve carved out specific time without distractions to handle anything that could potentially cause us a problem. Tom and I now review bookings together, checking and re-checking each other’s work in booking events to ensure we have no errors.

In my youth, I was always proud of my ability to multitask. But, as we’ve aged, I’ve discovered doing so is not a benefit at all. Being able to focus on a critical task at a time is more fulfilling in the long run.

We sat in the lobby when we prepared the day’s post.

Recently, I’d read this article, The Myth of Multitasking, and completed the test shown in the report. There’s no doubt that multitasking doesn’t achieve one’s original intention of getting two or more tasks completed at one time in less time. 

Sure, I can multitask when cooking a meal; boil the water, stir fry the veggies and cook the bacon in the oven simultaneously. But, that’s cooking, not handling important financial and other matters that can result in chaos if not caught in time.

Bread items are offered at the complimentary breakfast buffet.

Today, we have tunnel-vision in getting our medical forms signed by the doctor, hopefully finding us both in good enough health to embark on the upcoming expedition cruise.

May you be able to focus on what must be completed in your life today! Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2016:

Tom, during breakfast in the main dining room on Radiance of the Seas 33-night cruise circumventing the Australian continent. For more details, please click here.

Warning to all tourists taking prescription drugs…Could result in a Costa Rica nightmare…

Yesterday we shared a photo of an Owl Eyed Butterfly, and today, we have a winking Barn Owl.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Ulysses was creating a perfect trim on the hedges at the villa.

After yesterday’s scathing tongue lashing on Monday’s less than a pleasant attempt at renting a car, we hesitated to go down a somewhat negative path two days in a row.

For the majority of tourists, today’s post will have little significance. You book a vacation/holiday in Costa Rica, staying at a resort for a week or two. If you take prescription meds, you bring along a sufficient amount for your entire stay. If innovative, you bring enough for an additional few weeks in the event of some mishap or delay in returning to your home country as initially planned.

Creatures in Costa Rica are colorful, including this massive spider in her web.

However, suppose travelers like us plan to stay for an extended period. In that case, it’s an entirely different scenario when no prescription drugs (including non-narcotic meds) may be shipped into the country. Also, no vitamins or supplements may be shipped into Costa Rica and will also be confiscated.

Why is this? These are stringent drug laws, coupled with Costa Rica’s intent to create a revenue source from selling their prescription medications in the local and chain pharmacies. As a result, other than prescribed narcotics, mood-altering, or brain function medications, most medicines are sold over the counter without a prescription.

I take low doses of three non-narcotic meds for the following conditions (bad genes); hypertension, thyroid, and a hormone…fairly innocuous items, all typically requiring prescriptions from a doctor in the US.  (Other country’s laws may vary).

It was frustrating, taking photos through the fences, but these birds weren’t ready to return to the wild after their rehabilitation.

When I noticed my supply dwindled these past months, I decided to purchase over these next few months from ProgressiveRX, where I’ve been buying refills regularly over these past five years through their online service, comparable to buying from any online pharmacy in Canada.  

Easy as always? So I thought. This has never been an issue in any country in which we’ve lived over these past years. So I’d make the online purchase well before I needed them (slow delivery times) and have them shipped to wherever we may be at any given time. 

Although one shipment was lost while we were in Italy, the company happily replaced the lost items at no additional charge. Luckily, I’d planned the shipments months before I needed the pills and never missed a dose through the lengthy process of replacing the lost items.

Three Barn Owls at Zoo Ave, the bird and animal rescue facility in the Alajuela Valley.

While in Australia, for the sake of convenience, I received new prescriptions from a doctor we’d visited for physical exams while in Trinity Beach. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t get more than a six-month supply, which is typical, even through online pharmacies. 

Thus, again with a several months supply on hand, I ordered more from ProgressiveRX, which we had shipped to us in a box of supplies from the US from our mailing service.

I’d also considered making the purchases of a few month’s supply while here in Costa Rica since both of us must have physical exams no more than 60 days before the upcoming cruise to Antarctica. So we’d have the necessary exams and purchase my meds while here at any pharmacy.

Three Barn Owls were sharing a tree branch.

On Monday, the day of the rental car fiasco, I’d brought along the pills in the bottles with clearly marked labels to the Walmart Pharmacy. As it turned out, I’ll run out of two of the meds before the time we leave on November 22nd, thinking they could easily be replaced by some Costa Rica versions of the same frequently prescribed drugs for these conditions, common throughout the world.

Oh, foolish me. Walmart could not supply me with any of the three meds without changing doses and brand name components. One of the meds required the brand name when I tried alternates to no avail in years past.

After the pharmacist and I counted what I had left, we discovered I’d run out before leaving. “Local pharmacies don’t carry what you need,” explained the kindly pharmacist. So it’s a lost cause. I contemplated my options which included taking wrong doses and wrong meds and decided against it.

These birds were too high up to get clear shots without a tripod.

During the last month, when I’ll run out of two of the three meds, I’ll take doses every other day.  Doing so should not be life-threatening, although it may create some unpleasant symptoms. I’ve experienced worse. I’ll be fine.

In the interim, I’ll place an order from ProgressiveRX to arrive at our mailing service in September or October (at the latest) and have them shipped in a box of other supplies we’ll be sending to our hotel in Miami, where we’ll stay one night before boarding the 30-night cruise to South America.

How will we ensure the proper timing? We’ll have the shipment arrive from Nevada to Florida at least two weeks before our arrival on November 22nd. The hotel will hold the package for us until we arrive. 

Parrot sitting atop a perch at Zoo Ave (Ave means “aviary” in Spanish).

At that point, I’ll have enough to hold me for a few months until I place another order for a shipment to South Africa. That will work. We received a shipment while we were in Marloth Park in 2014 without incident.

The result…bring enough medication with you when you come to Costa Rica unless you’re confident you can purchase refills from a local pharmacy of the products/brands/doses you typically use. You are allowed to bring a regular supply into the country commensurate with your stay, plus extra for unexpected events.

Did I learn a lesson? I suppose regarding Costa Rica, I sure did. And, of course, in the future, I will check if there will be an issue receiving medication by mail from countries where we aren’t quite sure. But, after five years of world travel, this is the first time we’ve run across such a situation. 

A bit blurry from afar but a pretty parrot nonetheless.

But, like the rental car situation (BTW, we did get a refund from rentalcars.com for which we’re relieved and pleased), one never knows what may be encountered in unfamiliar territory. Neither of these scenarios would be an issue for a typical short stay by most travelers. 

Our unique nomadic lifestyle can be challenging at times. And we continue to learn as we go.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 30, 2016:

Shorter than he’d usually prefer, Tom’s buzz cut in Phuket Thailand held through the 33-night cruise, which began on October 31st. For more details, please click here.