Figuring solutions for potential obstacles…

Earl has been visiting each evening. Wildebeests are the only animals that poop in our garden. The rest go out into the bush.

The most imminent topic on our minds right now is getting our passports renewed as soon as we arrive in the US. We’ll arrive at our holiday home in the evening on April 30, hoping to get a good night’s sleep so we’ll be refreshed when we awake on Monday, May 1.

Once we get unpacked and settled that morning, we’ll begin applying for our new 10-year passports. We’ve decided to use a company in Washington, DC, since passport applications are also running behind in the US, again blaming the pandemic for this problem.

One of our kind readers, Cheryl, wrote to remind us by submitting a USA Today article about how the US is behind in processing applications. Although we were aware of this, which contributed to our concern about getting the passports on time for our cruise on August 1, we did considerable research.

Earl and Hal together in the garden.

We decided we needed to bite the bullet and pay for a passport/visa processing company to get them back on time. We will choose to receive the passports in 8 to 10 business days. The cost for this speedy service will be around US $1500, ZAR 27347 for both of us. We know this is an outrageous amount of money for this service.

You may ask, why did we wait so long? We’ve certainly known this date was coming up. If we don’t have the new passports on the sailing date, we wouldn’t be allowed to board the ship. We were informed we could apply in South Africa at the US Consulate. When their website wasn’t working to process our applications, we knew we had to devise another plan.

Then, suddenly, we were informed we had to leave early due to visa extension issues in South Africa, and everything changed. We should have done it while we were in the US in November, but we weren’t there long enough to receive them in time to fly back to South Africa. Ah, the dilemmas of world travel. We accept these realities and our responsibility for sometimes not being on the ball quite enough. Stuff happens.

Ruffles on the right side of the garden.

I can’t believe I managed to do the posts daily, let alone complicated paperwork. Most likely, I blame myself the most since I had a headache for 11 months since we got Covid-19 last April 20, and I couldn’t discipline myself sufficiently to get this done. I spent most days inactive and unmotivated.

The headache now? It’s gone! After a ten-day cycle of Prednisone and ingesting multiple allergy medications, I finally feel free of the headache. However, I am still feeling some allergy symptoms once I tapered off the drug while still taking all of the other meds. I feel confident once we leave the bush, my symptoms will improve significantly when free of all the dust, pollen, grasses, and dust mites prevalent in this area.

When we return in 14 months, it will be winter here when allergies aren’t quite as bad. We’ll see how that goes at that time. Once we return, we don’t plan to stay longer than six months simply when we aren’t interested in dealing with these immigration issues. We’ll do one visa “run” to get a new 90-day visa stamp, but we aren’t interested in doing more.

We’ve been taking our walks each morning after breakfast and are pleased we can increase the distance a little each day. Tom does fine and could walk for hours, but I still have problems with my legs hurting, making long distances an issue. Hopefully, as we walk more and more, this will improve. It feels good to be moving around once again.

Tonight, we’re off to Jabula for dinner. Tomorrow, we’ll have three weeks remaining until we depart, and we’ll continue to go right up until the last night since we leave on a Saturday. It will be unusual when dining out in Florida. Most likely, we’ll dine out twice a week while we’re there with over 100 restaurants from which to choose, all a golf cart drive away. That should be fun.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2022:

The new watch face on my Fitbit Sense. How appropriate is that? I didn’t walk much yesterday when I took this photo, and we were too busy with other tasks. For more, please click here.

Busy Monday…Time to do passport renewals…

An adorable young male kudu was resting in the shade. Notice his tiny spikes of budding horns. Cute, eh?

We have a lot of work to do today. Today’s post will be short and to the point, as opposed to my usual chattering on and on. We’ve already had breakfast, gone for our walk, and I’ve made a fresh salad for tonight’s dinner. Last night, we thoroughly enjoyed my slow-cooked lamb neck (I ate half of it) and Tom’s separate big pot of roasted short ribs; it was all finger-licking good.

It’s not easy to eat those two types of meat without using one’s fingers when the meat is tender and falling off the bone. When meat in South Africa is butchered, they leave on a lot of fat that locals savor as a specialty. As Americans, we’re used to well-trimmed meat with little fat and don’t quite have a taste for the fatty portions.

As a result, as we ate, we used our fingers, me more than Tom, to ensure we got every delectable portion of the meat minus the fatty parts. It was one of the tastiest dinners we’ve had lately, although many have been quite good. Louise and Danie introduced me to lamb neck when they invited me for dinner at their home while Tom was away. I loved it!

When Tom returned from the US, we went to the local meat market in the Bush Centre, and I was able to buy a lamb neck. It was ZAR 150, US $8.38, enough to feed me for two nights, unlike when I dined with Louise and Danie, and I ate the entire thing in one sitting! For me, it was like eating candy.

After dinner, we sat outdoors for a while until the mozzies got bad and then headed indoors to stream a few shows and call it a night. Since today, I took the last dose of Prednisone; my sleep has been fitful the past ten days since I started the medication. It tends to cause insomnia. Last night, I slept through the night for a total of 7 hours and 38 minutes, according to my Fitbit. This is the most sleep I’ve had in weeks.

Nina, Norman, and Natalie have been in the garden several times each day. Note the two kudus in the background.

This morning on our walk, I noticed I had more stamina for the first time, and we went a little further. After being immobile this past year with this head and sinus thing, I spent too much time lounging, never getting much exercise. I feel more confident walking fast and getting my heart rate up after knowing my cardiac condition is excellent after Friday’s stress test. Gosh, peace of mind is worth everything.

For many, a spiritual aspect of our lives is vital to our sense of well-being. We always say if one has their health, they have everything, but as seniors who’ve lived long and full lives, we know this is only true in part. Many other life circumstances make us feel like we have everything; good relationships, financial stability, an active social life, mental health, physical health, and well-being.

If one of these above areas is lacking, we can find ourselves unhappy and distraught, even if we have good health. Occasionally, any of us may be wrought with sorrow associated with the loss of any of the above. As resilient human beings, we have it within our power through love, support, spiritual resources, and sheer will and determination to overcome such sorrows in time.

It’s not easy, by no means, but we all possess the ability to learn, to grow, to recover. and eventually, to move on. When I think back to times when the challenges felt like they were too many to conquer, somehow, most often out of a sense of responsibility, I muddled my way through, as all of you have done at different times in your lives as well.

Now, we’re off to work on the passports, and we’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2022:

Tom and Lois (who visited us in Marloth Park in October 2018) and the two of us at the biker bar, Nav-A-Gator Bar and Grill, in Arcadia, Florida. For more photos, please click here.

Exciting news from the bush with short video…Trying to find our missing bags…

Louise sent us this short video of Nina’s new baby, born only a few days ago. Once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be excited to see dad Norman, son Noah, Nina, and the yet-to-be unnamed baby, whom we’ll name once we know the sex. Of course, her or his name will begin with the letter “N.”

It will be interesting to see how Norman and his son Noah react to the little one. We’ll post videos, and photos and write about the exciting new life in the bush. What a magical experience! It will certainly be fun to see the now family of four when we return in about ten days.

We’re still experiencing a bit of angst over our lost baggage. Tom wasn’t able to get the required claim form during the three hours he spent at the Johannesburg Tambo Airport on Friday. The actual claim numbers on the two tickets were illegible. The printer must have been running out of ink. No one was able to read the numbers. Now we’re trying to call Airlink but keep getting disconnected or the call doesn’t go through.

It’s frustrating, to say the least. I think we need to wait to deal with this until we return to Joburg airport next Friday, conduct another search for our bags and get the proper claim form completed and processed. We have zero confidence that the claim Tom made while he spent three hours at the airport will be attended to without the numbers being legible. What a mess! We are trying to reach Airlink where the tags were issued but they don’t answer their phone or the line is busy.

In the meanwhile, we need to apply for a new ten-year passport. Our ten-year passport expired which we replaced with a four-year passport a few years ago. Since Covid, the handling of passport renewals is tricky and cumbersome especially when we are living outside the US. It appears, our only option will be to fly or drive to the US embassy in Joburg, Pretoria, or Cape Town once we get back to South Africa to handle this.

As for today, we are picking up Tammy and grandson Vincent at their home at 1:15 pm to drive to Tom’s brother Jerome’s home where we’ll meet up with Tom’s sisters Patty and Colleen. We’ll all stay for a long visit and later head out to dinner. It will be wonderful to spend time with them, as it has been with other family members.

On another note, Tom has been unable to use his laptop or set up his new Google Pixel 6a phone since he was cut off from his Google account the day after we arrived, for no known reason. It’s been frustrating for him to be without the use of his laptop since Sunday. Hopefully, when we have our appointment tomorrow morning at the Geek Squad at Best Buy we will get this resolved.

At the moment, I am on hold with Ethiopian Air’s lost baggage department. They are trying to locate our bags. Hopefully, we will get some good news. The important thing is to get the bags back to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport so we don’t have to pay for excess baggage fees when we return. We had to book and pay for another flight from Joburg to Nelspruit which is a domestic flight and has strict weight restrictions. If the bags are returned to Nelspruit we can pick them up there when we arrive on December 10.

Ah, I got disconnected. It’s all a series of errors that is almost laughable. I’ll be glad to get out today and away from all of this confusion and disharmony. It’s always a welcomed relief and pleasure to be with our loved ones and escape from all this paperwork and forms.

I just got off the phone with the Ethiopian Air baggage claim department. Our bags are in Addis Ababa. Hopefully, they will forward them to Joburg and then on to Nelspruit. We can only wait and see what transpires.

Be well.

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

Such pretty animals. The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. Irish naturalist William Ogilby first described it in 1833. Its 13 subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the defassa waterbuck. For more photos, please click here.