Early morning trip to Nelspruit…

    Our guide was prepared to begin backing up as this male elephant in musth moved closer and closer to us. Musth or must is a periodic condition in bull elephants characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be on average 60 times greater than in the same elephant at other times.

Yesterday afternoon we got a message from the lawyer informing us we had an appointment at the immigration office at 8:30 this morning to submit our 50 pages of documents for our visa extensions. We thought we were bypassing this step by using the law firm to assist us for some odd reason.

Had we known this, we may have done the process independently. Although, they helped ensure we had everything in order. Now we wait for about 60 days for the approval. If granted, we will have to return to Nelspruit again to get out passports stamped with the new 90-day extension. It’s quite a confusing and time-consuming process.

Elephant carrying her trunk on her tusk. Early elephants had tusks, and one idea is that as tusks became longer, it was harder and harder for elephants to get their mouths to the ground to reach the grass. The trunk on their tusk helps them to reach more food and to eat more in a shorter time.

Going through this painstaking process and avoiding flying to another country with many Covid restrictions right now saved us about US $3000, ZAR 4642. In the realm of things, it will have been worth it. Once approved, we’ll be able to stay until April 22. But if our April 8 cruise doesn’t cancel, we will be on our way by April 1 or sooner.

Our eventual departure date will depend on the cruise line’s requirements based on our coming out of South Africa.The ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The US has more Covid/Omicron cases per capita than South Africa. It will be interesting to see how that rolls out.

Elephant crossing the dirt road, trunk high in the air, sniffing for food or threats.

Our appointment at the immigration office was scheduled for 10:45 am. We arrived an hour earlier than the appointment time when Tom suggested we go right up to the fifth floor to VSF Immigration anyway, rather than kill time walking around downtown Nelspruit. That decision proved to be a great idea. We were the only applicants at the check-in point outside the door or inside the facility when we arrived.

As I write this post in the car, we expect to be back in Marloth Park by noon. We expected to be waiting in chairs for hours as we had in 2018 when we applied for an extension at that time.

Only one tusk was showing from this view. Our guide explained that when the elephant’s ears are flapped over, as shown above, it indicates an older elephant, as the ear cartilage has aged.

All and all, it wasn’t too bad. Before we left this morning, I prepped all the veggies for dinner. Once I add photos to today’s post upon returning to the house, I’ll do some laundry and catch up on my walking for the day.

We were happy to see Frank and The Misses at the veranda door at the house. We hadn’t seen either of them in almost a week, and we’ve been wondering if they’ve been busy sitting on some eggs out in the bush. It would be delightful to see little Franks and The Misses sometime soon.

The sky cleared after pelting rain when we first started.

Tom is sitting at the table on the veranda watching US football on his laptop, and I’m indoors finishing up today’s post. My timer is set to remind me to walk every 20 minutes. It’s a good day, after all.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2021:

This was Tiny. We haven’t seen him since we returned from the US at the end of July. We miss him but have focused on energy on Little and other animals. For more photos, please click here.

Finally a diagnosis and..we don’t like it…Oh, my!..

Ms. Bushbuck always appears to have a smile on her face.  I love her and her offspring!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The four piglets certainly have grown over the past six months.  They are so fun to watch.

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. With the news from the doctor on Thursday after the angiogram, I didn’t have it in me to sit down and write on my phone’s small screen. My laptop was in a repair shop in Nelspruit while I stayed overnight in the hospital. There was an issue with the electrical plug-in. Thankfully, they got it working again.

I’ll get to the bad news first to avoid drama and anticipation. I have three 100% blocked coronary arteries, including the “Widow Maker” (in this case, the ‘Widower Maker). Basically, I am a walking time bomb. I need coronary bypass surgery, and I need it fast.

It’s scheduled at the hospital with a thoracic surgeon that works with the cardiologist I’ve been seeing. They both will perform with the surgery. I feel as if I’m in good hands based on the number of positive comments from locals who know them well. I have no choice. At this point, I cannot fly on an airplane or even be active, for that matter…too risky.

We are both shocked. How did this happen? The doctors say there was nothing I could have done to prevent this situation. Heredity is the driving force, and as hard as I’ve tried to stay healthy my entire life, there was no way I could have prevented this outcome.

Of course, we are very grateful a diligent doctor, Dr. Theo Stonkquist, a GP in the tiny town of Komatipoort, had the insight and expertise to insist I have an exercise stress test at his office last Saturday when I complained of intermittent jaw pain, which was later described as angina. 

Although I breezed through the stress test with relative ease, barely out of breath, the printout didn’t look good. Dr. Theo immediately contacted Dr. Fanie in Nelspruit on “Whatsapp” and sent him the report. He was adamant we get to Nelspruit to the Mediclinic first thing Monday morning for more tests.

For the early morning appointment, we booked a hotel near the hospital and stayed two nights. On Tuesday, I had a CAT scan of my arteries and failed that test and others miserably. An angiogram was scheduled for Thursday. 

We returned to Marloth Park, spent one night, and called Dr. Fanie the following morning at 9:00 am. He was short and to the point. I needed an angiogram promptly when the CAT scan showed one artery had a 100% blockage.

In the cath lab the next afternoon, after a many-hour wait for my turn, I was told I’d be awake for the angiogram with only a mild sedative placed under my tongue. It was pretty interesting watching all the monitors showing my heart and its arteries. The doctor, anesthesiologist, and about seven support staff were informative and supportive.

Ms. Bushbuck’s baby has sure grown over the past many months as well.

We’d hope he’d insert a stent, and I’d be done. But, not the case. Before my own eyes, the angiogram revealed that three of my coronary arteries are 100% blocked. If I’d had a heart attack, he explained, I wouldn’t survive it. I’m so grateful this was discovered before we left for Kenya, known for not-so-good medical care.

Toward the end of the hour-long angiogram, the doctor explained (and showed me) why stents were impossible to place. The only alternative was a triple coronary bypass scheduled for Tuesday next week, a mere three days from now.

I’m on medication in the interim and was told to avoid anything strenuous or stressful. The strenuous part is a breeze. The stressful? Well, I can’t imagine anyone on the planet not feeling a bit stressed over such a thing as open-heart surgery, including striping arteries from their legs to replace those blocked in the heart. 

However, we are both so grateful this was discovered in time and pray for a safe and good outcome and speedy recovery.  As they say, “we may be down, but we’re not out.”  Hopefully, six weeks from the time of the surgery, we’ll be boarding our ship from San Antonio, Chile.  No pressure, just wishful thinking. 

No doubt, I will be a good patient and do everything I can to recover as prescribed, and we’ll continue with our world travels.

As for the posts??? We will continue tomorrow, Sunday, and again on Monday while staying overnight in the hospital for Tuesday’s surgery. I can’t wait for that day! As of Tuesday, February 12th, the posts will cease for five to seven days until I’m well enough to report.

Tom will be regularly posting updates on my Facebook page, which is open to the public. Please start checking back here by next Sunday.

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing the news on how this situation has been handled by our annual international health insurance company, which information may be helpful for those traveling the world, ex-pats, and those contemplating traveling.

No words can describe how grateful we are for the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, and readers from all over the world. We can’t keep up with the email messages, comments, and texts. We’d love to respond to every one of you, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. We can only be humbled by your love, prayers, and kindness.

A special thanks to friends Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for inviting us for dinner last night (which was the initially planned night of our going away party – since canceled) and making the evening so filled with caring conversation, love and laughter. Tonight, we all meet up again at Jabula, our usual Saturday night out.

Thank you…from the bottom of my “heart.”

Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2018:

A sea of penguins. For more details and final photos, please click here.

Part 2…Bookings for South Africa…The “adventure” and it’s “paperwork” never ends…

Orange.....more than just a colour!
The entrance to our new vacation/holiday home we’ll be renting in Marloth Park beginning on February 11th, aptly named “Orange…More Than Just a Colour.”  For the link to this listing, please click here.

Yesterday, much to our delight, we wrapped up the first 89-day vacation/holiday rental for Marloth Park. Louise had promised she’d find us a great property that would work for our budget and yet meet our criteria.

This property she chose for us more than met our criteria. It’s a virtual dream house in the South African bush, possessing all the features that make a living in the rugged terrain more comfortable and experiential.

In Africa, many houses have a name, especially in the Conservancy of Marloth Park. The house on which we paid a 50% deposit yesterday is peculiarly and perhaps aptly called “Orange…More Than Just a Colour.”

Fully equipped self catering kitchen
We’re looking forward to cooking again in this modern kitchen after an 80-day hiatus.

The exterior orange-based color certainly prompted the house’s name, but there is nothing gaudy or outlandish in its appearance or design. It is pure bliss by our standards, and we gratefully thank Louise, our friend, and property manager for Marloth Park, for making this happen for us.

Not only did she make this outstanding property affordable for us, but she also locked up our time slot from February 11, 2018, to May 11, 2018, a total of 89 days.  Once we arrive, we’ll work with Louise to wrap up this or other properties we’ll rent during our one-year stay in Africa.

We’ll travel in and out of the country to satisfy the immigration requirements of a maximum of 90 days while we visit many other countries on the continent to fulfill our goals of expanding our African horizons.

Outside pool under roof
Most of the pools in Marloth are plunge pools intended for cooling off instead of swimming laps.

Of course, we’ll share many more photos of this spectacular property located in our dream location during our lengthy upcoming stay, along with photos of our daily “visitors.”

Our inspiration to return to Marloth Park was precipitated by two aspects. One was the bush setting with wild animals walking around the house, and two, the amazing friends we made while there in 2013/2014, all of whom we’ll see when we’re there and have stayed in contact with during the four years since we left.

Today, here in Palermo, Soho area of Buenos Aires, once again, we’ll take off on foot and walk the streets of this fascinating area. Once the holidays end, we’ll do a bit of sightseeing.

Tomorrow, we’ll share most of our dining experiences over these past few days and more photos of life and culture in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 Have a blissful day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2016:

On a walk across the street in Penguin, Tasmania, which is lined with a wide variety of blooming flowers, we spotted this unusual plant. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Bookings for South Africa…The “adventure” and it’s “paperwork” never ends…

We find these colorfully painted buildings interesting and befitting the somewhat flamboyant nature of Buenos Aires.

Where do we begin and end? This outrageous lifestyle only knows an end when we “can’t do it anymore.”  Surely, someday this will come. But, for now, we keep planning and booking one adventure after another.

I used the word “adventure” based on our perception of what adventure may be. To many, experience connotes white water rafting, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, and other physically related risk-taking events.

There are many designer-type furniture shops in the area.

For us, an adventure may be defined as follows from the dictionary:

  1. 1.
    an unusual and exciting or daring experience.
    “her recent adventures in Italy”
    synonyms: exploitescapadedeedfeattrialexperienceincidentoccurrence,
    the eventhappeningepisodeaffair;

Well, not totally. We focus more on the above-stated, “an unusual and exciting” experience and less on the “daring.” Couldn’t “daring” be described as selling everything we owned, leaving our family and friends, as traveling the world for years to come; homeless, without a car, with no storage anywhere, no apartment/condo to return to, to repack and take care of things?  I guess so. 

Perhaps, for us, all of it is an adventure. We’ve never considered we must put our physical beings in harm’s way for our lives to qualify as an adventure. 

Colorfully painted buildings are a common trend in Buenos Aires.

Along that path is the future planning for what we consider the ultimate adventure…re-visiting Africa (we were there four years ago), which will transpire in a mere 46 days (with the cruise to Antarctica in between in only 27 days.) Good grief! Could it get more exciting for us in this short period?

Finally, yesterday, after checking prices for a few months, we booked our flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Nelspruit, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga,  South Africa, a location other “adventurers” fly to embark on their journey on an insatiable quest for adventure.

Another colorfully painted building.

The cost for the one-way economy flight for two was shocking. We’ve never paid this high a fare for a one-way flight.

Here are the details:

Price summary
Traveler 1: Adult $1,754.66 Flight $1,301.00 Taxes & Fees $453.66
Traveler 2: Adult              $1,754.66 Flight $1,301.00 Taxes & Fees $453.66
Expedia Booking Fee $14.00
Total US $3,523.3
(ARS 64,934)
All prices are quoted in USD.

705 points
for this trip

Travel time:           16 hours total (3 flights)
Depart:                  12:50 PM, February 10, 2018
Arrive in Nelspruit:    9:50 AM, February 11, 2018
Layovers:       2 hours in Sao Paulo, Brazil,
1 hour 40 minutes in Johannesburg, South Africa

Airlines:         GOL Linhas Aereas S.A
                          South African Airways (last two flights)

We flinched paying this high a fare for coach but, we made up for it a little when we were able to rent a car at the Nelspruit Airport for a total of 89 days for only the US $1,750 (ARS 32,252), including all taxes, fees, and insurance which averages at US $583 (ARS 10,745) per month.

We plan to stay in Africa for up to 13 months and share more details as we book further into the future, much of which will be outside South Africa. But, we’ll continue to return to Marloth Park after satisfying visa requirements for a maximum of 90 days as required in most African countries.

There isn’t an abundance of flowers blooming at this time in the Palermo area.

Today, we’re finalizing our vacation/holiday rental details with our dear property manager friends, Louise and Danie Thiart, who can be reached at this site. We’re so appreciative of their friendship and assistance in finding us more outstanding accommodations in Marloth Park.

Tomorrow, we share details of what will be our new home beginning on February 11, 2018.

Thanks for stopping by!

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2016:

This was the view from our holiday home from an elevated road in Penguin, Tasmania. For more details, please click here.

Minimal post today!…Computer crashed…Heading to Nelspruit tomorrow morning to make a purchase…Back on Wednesday afternoon…

Nothing gets me more riled up than computer problems. It crashed, most likely as a result of recently dropping it. I spent the entire morning trying to find a way to purchase a new laptop or a tablet befitting my needs, only to become totally frustrated.

Ordering a device online is tricky for several reasons.  Fast shipping from the US is expensive. Last 13 pound, 5.9 kg box cost US $458, ZAR $5121.50. Plus, the computer would have to go through customs upon arrival for more fees.

My only alternative, if we’re not willing to spend the above and more, is to make a purchase in South Africa. It’s impossible to order online since all online in-country purchases require a name matching South Africa ID#, comparable to a US social security number. One cannot “borrow” a number.

The handwriting is on the wall. Calling the largest computer store in Nelspruit this morning they confirmed there is no alternative but to make the purchase in person.

Tomorrow morning at 10 am, Okee Dokee will drive me on a long trip to the store. Tom will remain behind at Khaya Umdani. With massive amounts of road construction, the former 90-minute drive may take upwards of three hours each way.

Upon returning from Nelspruit, I’ll post an update as to whether I have time to post tomorrow or if it will have to wait until Thursday.

I have managed to save all of our photos and files in Dropbox and have some amazing new photos of our recent Vervet Monkey raid!

Back soon.

A grand solitary visitor…Planning our upcoming departure…A goal of low stress travel…A funny photo…

Yesterday morning while writing on the veranda, I heard a “thump, thump” and alerted Tom, to look up, and once again, we had the most exciting visitor, a solitary giraffe. We’d assumed he’d stopped to munch on the treetops enabling us to take some photos. Alas, he dashed out of the yard so fast that we weren’t able to take another photo. It was the third time we’ve had giraffes in our yard. Heavenly.

It’s hard to believe that in 30 days, we’ll be leaving South Africa, heading to Marrakesh, Morocco, where we’ll live for 2½ months. Unquestionably, it won’t be easy to leave Marloth Park, to say goodbye to all of our friends both human and animals. 

These three baby warthogs, our familiar “Three Little Pigs” anxiously needed some liquid sustenance from mom after we shared some pellets with them.  Thirsty, they nursed with the one shown sucking a nipple from behind her butt.  We laughed at this tender sight.

Life in the bush with all of its challenges provided us both with a unique experience, one we’ll treasure forever.  But, “moving on” is the lifestyle choice we’ve made and we do so with excitement and anticipation of that which is yet to come. We have absolutely no regrets. 

On our way out to dinner last night at dusk. Wildebeest and zebra, who often hang out together.

The preparations to move on aren’t overwhelming by any means, but must be accomplished in an orderly and concise manner. Our motto remains forefront in our minds, “Wafting through our worldwide travels with ease, joy, and simplicity.” 

Stringent advance planning results in lower levels of stress, always our objective. Besides, the airlines create enough problems of their own without us adding more due to a lack of careful planning. 

We diligently prepare for the following, none of which is particularly time-consuming or difficult once the flights have been booked:

  • Flight arrangements/baggage restrictions
  • Packing, while complying with all baggage restrictions
  • Airport transportation arrangements at both ends, including the necessity of going to an ATM at the final destination for cash in the local currency
  • Online discussions with the owner/property manager to ensure everything we need upon arrival will be awaiting us: access/keys to the property, bedding, towels, bar soap, toilet paper, and bottled water. We require enough basic “hotel” supplies to get us through the first several days.
  • How do we arrange for meals and snacks as we settle in? Assessing nearby restaurants and grocery stores with a ready means of transportation.
  • Visa requirements. All of our previous visa requirements have been met at immigration upon entry to our final destinations with the exception of Belize, which required renewal every 30 days. Morocco doesn’t require a visa for US citizens entering the country for under 90 days. We’ll be staying for 75 days.   

Having booked our flight from Johannesburg to Morocco, a convoluted red-eye mess of multiple stops and layovers, today we’ll book the short flight from Mpumalanga/Nelspruit to Johannesburg, a portion of the flight that must be booked separately.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the details of the complicated and the only means of getting to Morocco from South Africa. It’s not comparable to the US, Europe, and other parts of the world where one can book a single flight from one big city to another big city.

It’s another scorcher today. We only lasted five hours on the veranda seeing no less the four Warthog families.  Plus, we had about 25 Helmeted Guinea-fowls hanging out with the warthogs. Lots of laughing over all of their playful antics. 

Tonight, we’re off to a birthday party in Marloth Park. Should be fun!

Happy day to all.