The waiting game continues…Tomorrow, we fly out of Madurai to Mumbai…Three days and counting…

We took a detour to see this temple in Tanjore known as the “Big Temple” since the name is long and difficult for people to remember…”Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Dedicated to one of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s forms, Arulmigu Kapleeswar, and Karpagambal, respectively.

Tomorrow, at 1:30 pm, we check out the lovely Regency Hotel in Madurai to head to the airport for our 4:05 flight to Mumbai. It’s only a two-hour flight, and finally, after a one-hour drive from the airport, we’ll arrive at our last destination in India, again the beautiful beachside hotel, the Sun-N-Sand, where we’ll spend two nights.

Today, the hotel printed our tickets and visa waivers for South Africa, allowing us to re-enter the country after our previous overstay after I had surgery last February. But, the question remains, will they let us, US citizens, enter the country, even though we’re arriving from the extended stay in India?

This temple is over 1000 years old.

South Africa now has a ban prohibiting entry from the US along with other countries as follows:

  • China
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Iran
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

We’ll only know the answer to that once we arrive at the immigration station in Johannesburg as we await the next leg of our journey, the flight to Nelspruit, our final stop before driving to Marloth Park, the following day.

This pandemic is taking its toll on people worldwide, as evidenced by one awful news report after another. Sure, a portion may be highly sensationalized. But, the reality remains, this has an impact on people and economies throughout the world. 

No place, no one, is exempt from feeling the impact of the changes that will transpire in the days, weeks, and months to come. We ask ourselves how it will impact our continuing travels, and at this point, we aren’t sure. 

This view reminded us a little about entering the Lost City of Petra in 2013.

All we know at this point is that we’ll make every effort to stay safe, avoiding crowds and following strict sanitation protocols every day of our lives, not only now but in time to come.

In heading to one of our favorite places globally, with no cases of the virus in Marloth Park, we aren’t prepared to avoid seeing our friends in small groups. They are some of the most considerate people globally and wouldn’t go out if they felt unwell or exhibited any symptoms that could indicate Covid-19.
The beautiful beach scene at the Ideal Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram. We particularly enjoyed this resort.

After our arrival, we’ve already made some social plans and will continue to use good judgment for each social occasion. In any case, we won’t be attending any large functions, which all appear to have been canceled.

Our biggest outing will be grocery shopping, and we’re bringing along hand sanitizer to use for the grocery cart and making a point of staying at least 10 feet from any other shoppers if possible. This may require shopping at odd hours of the day and night, which we’ll do.
The colorful temples in Chennai were breathtaking to see. “Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati that is Arulmigu Kapleeswar and Karpagambal respectively, the temple should be on the top position of your list of temples to visit.”

When driving from Nelspruit to Marloth Park on Saturday morning, we will have to stop in Malalane to purchase some grocery items from the local Spar Market. There’s no way we can avoid this step along the way.

The newly added pool area at Ravla Khempur is known as the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where the popular movie was filmed. This was a favorite tour during our travels in India.

Also, it’s summer in Africa, and the most important purchase will be mosquito repellent to protect us from malaria. Last year, the wife of a lovely couple passed away from a rare type of malaria in Marloth Park. We will be especially cautious.

The nightly evening ceremony on the Ganges River (known as the Ganga to Hindus).

As winter begins, the temperatures will cool in a few months, and there will be fewer mosquitoes. However, we’ll continue to use repellent, especially since we’ll spend most of our days and nights outdoors on the veranda waiting for animal friends to stop by.

All of my fantasizing could be a moot point if we run into trouble entering South Africa in three days. We promise to update all of our readers as soon as we arrive in Nelspruit on Friday night with a short post. We’ll be exhausted from getting up at 3:00 am for our flight so indeed it won’t contain all the details until the next day.
The leading cremation site on the Ganges River, seen while on an old wood rowboat on the river during the early morning ceremonies.

Today, we continue with some new and favorite photos, and tomorrow’s post will only include favorite images. We’ll post the final expenses for our entire tour of India, including the Maharajas Express Train, in Thursday’s post.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. We pray for the recovery of those with the virus and their loved ones. For those who’ve lost the battle, we offer our heartfelt sympathy to their loved ones.

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2019:

Mom and Baby bushbuck searching for pellets Tom tossed into the garden. For more photos, please click here.

On pins and needles…Are we going to be able to get out of India and enter South Africa in 4 days?

  • This dinner and fireworks at Hanwant Mahal located in the Umaid Palace, also known as the Khaas Bagh, were extra special in Jodhpur while touring during the Maharajas Express.

    Over these past weeks, we’ve mentioned our concerns over Covid-19 and why a few days ago, we had to change our travel plans when the 29-night cruise from Mumbai, India to Greenwich, England, was canceled.

    Subsequently, we booked a flight to South Africa, where there are fewer cases (total of 51 so far as of today, with a population of 59 million) and 110 cases in India (with a population of 1.3 billion), as opposed to the almost 3000 cases in the US (with a population of 329 million). There’s a travel ban for anyone entering South Africa from the US, not from India.

    We spotted five tigers while on safari in two national parks, Bandvargarh and Kanha.

    Will that have an impact on us? We’ll have been in India for 11 days short of two months. So far, there’s no ban for travelers coming into South Africa from India. But, we don’t know what will happen when we get to immigration at the airport in Johannesburg on March 20th, only four days from today. 

    Will we be allowed entry into the country, be quarantined, or, worst-case scenario, be forced to leave? We are going on blind faith. As a result of the risk of this worst-case scenario, we’ve had to discuss some options as to where we could go to “wait it out” and yet continue to live our lives as usual as possible.

    A pair of “owlets” (as referred to by our safari guide) captured our hearts.

    There are several African countries with no virus cases, such as Namibia and Madagascar, and others, all countries we’d consider visiting, if necessary.

    As for waiting it out? Is that a possibility? Or is this pandemic going to continue for months to come? None of us know the answer.

    You may ask, why don’t we go back to the US? For a few reasons:

    1. We don’t have adequate US health insurance, but we do have excellent international insurance
    2. Risks are high if we have to travel through hectic US airports
    3. Cost of living is high in the US as opposed to African nations (two times higher based on our experience)
    4. I am at high risk due to having cardiovascular disease, asthma, and my age. For me, getting this virus could be fatal.
    5. Apparently, the US is the only country globally with all five strains of the virus.

    Spotted deer in India are as prevalent as impalas in Africa.

    Staying away from countries with vast numbers of cases makes the most sense to us both. Yes, it’s possible. Should we be able to land in South Africa, the virus will continue to spread in vast numbers, as in the US. In that case, we’d hightail out of there to yet another country. 

    I never imagined that if such a virus would manifest in the world that we’d have the flexibility to travel as much as we do, as much as we can. Most likely, we can’t outrun it, but if we can, we will.

    No doubt, this isn’t very comforting, for all of you, for us. None of us are exempt from the fear and concern for ourselves, our loved ones, and our friends.  The frenzy over food and paper products in the US baffles us. The frenzy, in general, provides no benefit for anyone. We don’t want to be around it if we can avoid it.

    Another favorite tiger photo.

    We’ll see how all of this rolls out in the next four days. A lot can happen in four days. In two days, we’ll leave Madurai to fly to Mumbai. We can only look at one step at a time as this process continues.

    In the interim, we are avoiding any future tours in India, preferring to avoid crowded areas. Driving around in the traffic attempting to take photos is fruitless as well, and honestly, we’ve lost our enthusiasm for sightseeing at this point. 

    A nighttime view of the restaurant where we dined in Udaipur on several occasions.

    We’re safely cooped up in the Regency Hotel in Madurai, where they checked our temperatures when we checked in. We appreciated it, but they need to check guests’ temperatures daily since they’ve been transmitting the virus for a day by the time one has a temperature.

    Thank you to our readers for such positive reinforcement, prayers, and well wishes. We offer the same to every one of you. Stay safe! Stay healthy!

    Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2019:

    Little came up on the veranda looking for me, already positioned on his knees for some treats.
    For more photos, please click here. (It was one year ago, my legs were severely infected from the grafts taken for the bypass surgery. I hadn’t been outdoors much, and Little came looking for me once again).