The challenges continue but we stay strong….

This is one of our favorite photos while in India. We were touring and having dinner outdoors at the Khaas  Bagh during our train tour on the Maharajas Express over a month before we had to go into lockdown for ten months in a hotel room in Mumbai due to Covid-19. For more details, please click here.

Yesterday, as I began to write today’s post, we’d been without power for over 4 hours. We headed to the little store for a jug of water as we do every few days, hoping the owner, Gilles, had some idea when the power would be restored.

Gilles didn’t have a clue or the other people in the store. This is getting ridiculous. I am beyond frustrated today about how anxious I am to leave.

I was concerned that if the power wasn’t restored before too long, we would lose the balance of our food in the refrigerator. There’s no way I’d be interested in driving back to Manta for more groceries. We’d eat eggs for dinner every night until we leave, which is 13 days as of today. Raphael sells eggs and produce, which we can always get from him if we have to toss our food.

Everything for last night’s dinner was prepped and in the fridge, waiting to be cooked. We were having roasted bone-in chicken breasts, which we had to put in the gas oven before they spoiled. Lighting the oven without power would be difficult since we didn’t have a long lighter.

We have kept the refrigerator extra cold for such an event. Normally, within two hours the power has been restored. I will update this post to reflect what transpired.

I hadn’t uploaded yesterday’s post before the power went out. So, as I wrote this post for today, I was hoping it would come back on so I could upload it. Otherwise, I will receive countless email messages inquiring if we are okay. Thank you for thinking of us. We will try to reply to those messages if that’s the case.

I was looking forward to today, December 1, knowing it would be our departure month. Ah, Henderson, Nevada, sounds awfully good to me right now. Our simple life in a condo in Lake Las Vegas holds a lot of appeal right now.

It’s quite cool there now, especially in the mornings, but it warms up nicely during most days in the winter months. Being in a less humid climate in only 13 days will be great. The humidity is so high here in Ecuador by the sea that we must wear non-slip rubber-soled shoes to avoid slipping on the shiny tiled floors which always feel wet in bare feet.

Thank goodness there haven’t been loads of insects here since we keep the doors open all day and close them at night when we sit in the living room, stream our shows, and turn on the nearby aircon, which dries everything up quite well.

Tom is upstairs taking his 2:00 pm, 20-minute nap (if lucky). Since I have been taking the drugs for the past several weeks. I’ve been sleepy during the day and nod off sometimes, too. It’s quite refreshing.

That’s all I have to say today, dear readers. I will update this post tomorrow before uploading it if…we have power.

Note: As it turned out, the power was restored five hours after it went out. The food was fine; moments later, we were again our usual selves anxious to get on with our day.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 1, 2013:

Some of our views were obstructed when we were seated over the wing on our flight from Kenya to South Africa. But the Heavens offered up this cloudy view. For more, please click here.

All day power outage…Making the best of an annoying situation…

When Medium Daddy saw that Tom had placed pellets on the railing instead of on the ground and didn’t want to eat them with the pigs at his heels, he jumped over the fence onto the veranda to eat in peace. Clever animals.

We’re pretty lucky. Like most people in South Africa, we could suffer the inconvenience during load shedding when the power company, Eskom, turns off the power nationwide during designated periods. But, we are grateful and fortunate to have many systems to alleviate the hassle.

There’s an app available at most download sites that informs the user when to expect power outages. But, this information is inaccurate about 25% of the time. It will say there is a scheduled outage in our area, and it doesn’t occur, or it will appear there are no anticipated outages, and we’re out all day. That was yesterday. The power went out about 11:00 am and didn’t return until about 1900 hrs., 7:00 pm, eight hours later.

We named this male warthog Tusker due to his large tusks, a name we’d given to another male with big tusks years ago.

After the first few hours passed and the power hadn’t returned, Tom loaded the big metal bowl with ice and placed it on the middle shelf in the refrigerator. This method keeps the perishables fresh as long as that ice doesn’t melt substantially. We buy ice and refill the bowl as needed during extended periods beyond one day. The refrigerator becomes a giant cool box (cooler).

There’s a difference between load shedding and power outages. Load shedding is a plan to shut down the power supply to save on resources. Different areas in the country experience other times and different levels, from one to eight, determining which times of day the power will be out and how many times in any upcoming 24-hour period how long the power will be out.

Six warthogs in the garden including Lollie, Mom and Babies, and others. No Little yet.

As for outages, they result from equipment issues at various power stations, often caused by theft, vandalism, and breakdowns. These happen many times each year. The general public has no say or control over when these are repaired. Calling to complain has no impact whatsoever. Often Eskom has trouble obtaining replacement parts which delays the repairs exponentially.

The fact that we have an inverter makes life easier during load shedding our outages. It’s not as powerful as a generator but is quiet, self-starting, and recharges off the electricity in the house when power is available.  We can charge our equipment, stream shows since the WiFi router stays on, and keep a lamp on in the bedroom. Having something to do during outages is helpful. Watching a movie or streaming a series makes the time pass without us noticing the outage.

Big Daddy stopped by at sunset.

However, yesterday, for about an hour, there was no WiFi to the towers in the area due to the outage. There is nothing we can do about that. But, as mentioned a few days ago, we have over 1000 movies on an external hard drive allowing us to watch movies as long as our laptops are charged. Before and during outages, we pay special attention to how much battery life is left on our phones and laptops.

Now that we have a third laptop, my old Chromebook with 12-hour battery life, we make a point of keeping it charged, just in case.

Sure, the house is dark at night during outages. We prefer to be indoors at night during outages since we can’t see what’s going on in the garden anyway. Plus, it may not be safe to be outside in the dark in the case of a potential burglary or visit by a lion. Our security system works during outages since it is connected to long-lasting batteries, which give us peace of mind at night in the dark or not.

Bossy is too pretty for words and loves to get close to us.

We have two handheld lanterns that we also keep charged. Last night, Tom did dishes in the dark, but the lantern helped make it possible. I use one of the lanterns before bed to take out and clean my contact lenses, wash my face and brush my teeth. That works.

The biggest concern is always that the power returns before we lose food in the refrigerator or freezer or if the inverter runs out of control, which can happen after a 24-hour outage. Otherwise, we make the best of the situation and are very grateful for the systems we have in place. After all, as “they” say, TIA, “This is Africa,” and accepting and managing the annoyances is a part of the reality of living in this unique environment.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2021:

We spotted this giraffe on our way to Two Trees to meet up with friends. For more photos, please click here.

Yesterday, no water, plus load shedding…TIS, This is Africa…Live with it!…

We purchased these giant cabbages for the kudus, bushbucks, and duikers, which love cabbage, for about US $0.70, ZAR 10.69 each. We tear off the leaves, break them in half and toss them their way.

There’s no doubt, living in Africa has its share of problems; outrageous weather, mozzies, crime, corruption, conservation issues, and ongoing issues due to a poor infrastructure resulting in power, water, fuel, and WiFi outages. Also, wild animals can harm humans and property, including attacks by snakes and venomous creatures. More people are killed by hippos than any other animals in the wild.

What do visitors expect? Locals often say “TIF,” which means “This is Africa,” when visitors complain about the inconveniences caused by any of the above. These conveniences may be found in many of their home countries. In reviewing many of the issues mentioned above, our own USA is not exempt from any of these problems and is based on locations and circumstances.

Many of the animals like carrots. Due to the warm, humid weather and lack of room in the fridge, we leave them out, and they spoil quickly. This large bag sells for US $0.98, ZAR 14.90.

Complaining doesn’t help. Proactive responses and behavior when these situations occur are the best and most logical solutions during tricky times. As I write here now, the power is out. Yesterday, Tom hauled buckets of pool water into both bathrooms for flushing the toilet.

Sure, I asked Louise when the water would return, and last night, it did, exactly as she stated. As for the power, I have an app on my phone to alert me to upcoming outages. Tomorrow, at sundowner time, we have guests coming, as mentioned in our prior post, who came to Marloth Park after reading our posts. The power will be out when they arrive at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs.

Holey Moley was munching on a cabbage leaf.

Any cooking using the electric stove must be completed before the power goes out at 5:00 pm, 1700hrs. One of the appetizers we’re making requires 30 minutes in the oven. This will be done before the power outage. With a bit of planning, working around load shedding isn’t too tricky.

Another example regarding our awareness of rampant crime in South Africa was when we returned from the airport on Tuesday, after our trip to Zambia to make the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park on the two-lane N4 highway, known for carjackings, especially after dark. Thus, we planned accordingly, totally prepared to stay overnight if we couldn’t make it back to our holiday home before darkness fell.

A thick Neck was involved in some scuffle, which resulted in a new injury. It doesn’t look too deep and should heal soon.

Shortly after we entered the house, load shedding began. Fortunately, we made it in plenty of time. We had the portable lights ready to be used if necessary. It all worked out fine.

Do we appreciate less of these issues while in the US or other countries? I suppose for a moment. But, it’s not unlike being in sweltering weather and going inside to air conditioning…immediately, we forget about how hot we were only minutes earlier.

As I sit here now, using the WiFi to prepare and post today’s story, Tom is watching US  football on his laptop, which lately has kept him busy for several hours each day. WiFi is a must for us. For us, a WiFi outage is harder to adapt to than power or water outages. When it’s out, we are at a loss about how to perform our usual daily tasks, conduct research, and escape into a bit of entertainment, especially in the evening after dark, when the wildlife hunkers down for the night.

Thick Neck also has a scratch on his nose. He was enjoying the cold, crisp cabbage leaves along with the other bushbucks.

When we have an endless stream of wildlife during busy times in the garden, we are easily entertained and preoccupied. It’s our favorite pastime! Plus, I can stay busy preparing meals, doing laundry, and tidying projects around the house. Next week, during a load shedding session, we plan to go to Kruger National Park, which keeps us thoroughly entertained and enlightened for an entire day spent driving through the park while searching for wildlife.

In many old posts, we discuss “adaptation” and how vital it is to enjoy where we’re living at any given time. Even during the lockdown in the hotel in India for ten months, we found ways to enjoy ourselves and make the most of the situation.

Traveling the world without a home is not necessarily easy. It requires an abundance of patience and resiliency, along with the ability to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances at every turn. We both have been and will continue to be committed to this lifestyle for as long as our health holds out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2020;

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #220. When we arrived at The Sands at Nomad Resort in Kenya, we were welcomed with flower leis and orange mango juice for our anniversary weekend. (I politely declined, but Tom enjoyed his). For more photos, please click here.

No power…No WiFi…It was a long, hot night…

This is a monitor lizard that Tom spotted while driving. It happened so quickly, I had to take the photo through the windshield.

Although the inverter in the house allows a fan to work in our bedroom, it was a hot night and we had little sleep. There had been a short moderate-intensity rain storm around 10:00 pm (2200 hours). It doesn’t take much for the power to go out here. The WiFi towers revert to their battery power to keep the WiFi signal going, but after an hour or so, that too will run out of juice leaving all of us without internet access.

According to a message Louise got from Eskom, supposedly all will be restored sometime this morning, which could be in the next two hours as I write offline waiting for it to return. If that’s the case, we’ll have been without power or Wifi for 12 or 14 hours. In the realm of things, that’s not too long. But, in the middle of the night when the heat and humidity are high and sleep is elusive, it seems like an eternity.

Right now, at 10:30 am, it’s hot and humid on the veranda. I can feel my clothes sticking to me. I stay more covered than most to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. I usually wear Capri-length jeans, heavy-duty white socks, and a closely fitted tee-shirt, all of which prevents me from any bites other than on the exposed skin on my arms, face, and neck. I use Tabard DEET repellent around the clock on any exposed skin.

Playful zebras on the side of the road.

Last night, with no air-con due to the power outage, a few mosquitoes were buzzing around me all night. I was bitten no less than 10 times when I was unwilling to cover myself with a sheet due to the heat. I usually wear one of Tom’s tee shirts to bed since I don’t have any summer-type pajamas.

I ordered a few such items that will arrive in the package we’ll have sent to us on Monday. I know. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t order stuff from the US and have it shipped to us, but we had a few replacement credit cards (due to fraud) at our mailing service and decided we may as well order whatever else we needed. My Fitbit band broke a few days ago and I’ve since ordered a new Fitbit with even more features.

A zebra crossing the road.

This morning at 8:00, Tom headed to the little market in Marloth Park to purchase four bags of ice for our perishables until the power returned. Wouldn’t you know, we grocery shopped yesterday and the refrigerator was stocked full of items? I don’t know yet if anything was spoiled, but will be extra careful when restocking the refrigerator from the cool box where we placed the food and two bags of ice. We placed two more bags of ice in a metal bowl in the refrigerator, which cooled it down considerably while we waited.

Ironically, as I write here now, the power has been restored and moments later, so has the WiFi. Whew! What a relief. Tom turned on the fan on the veranda and aimed it directly at me. The breeze helps substantially. While Vusi was busy washing floors, we made our way to the bedroom with the air-con on, hoping to cool off for a bit. Another much-appreciated relief!!

We don’t have many zebras visit us. Seeing them when out and about is a treat.

Before Vusi arrived, I’d decided to make a pan of our favorite egg casserole with cheese and bacon and get it into the oven to bake before it gets even hotter during the day. It’s odd, but electric ovens here cook more slowly than in some other countries. We always have to plan ahead when baking anything in the oven.

Tonight, Tom will have pork chops on the braai while I have two small chicken breasts. Tom will have his chops with white rice and we’ll both have some of the delicious egg casserole as a side dish. Neither of us cared for any breakfast this morning after the fitful night so a nice Friday night dinner on the veranda will be enjoyed. Later, this afternoon it will cool down and we’ll be fine sitting outdoors, watching our wildlife friends stop by for a visit.

A male impala posed for a photo. Such handsome animals.

Sorry for the mundane post. I’m too hot and tired to be creative today. But, thanks for stopping by anyway!

Have a peaceful day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2020:

View of the city from the palace in Udaipur. For more photos, please click here.

Day #283 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…9 days and counting…No delusions…

This kind man, Mr. Ganapthay of Cholan Art Village, made the experience of visiting his nine generation family bronzing business all the more special to both of us.

Today’s photos are a continuation of those we posted during our first few months in India on tour, in today’s case on March 14, 2020. See the post here. We’ll continue on this path, sharing more tour photos until it’s time for us to leave on January 11, 2021. From there, God willing, it will be an entirely new world!

We have no delusions about getting out of here in nine days. We both have accepted the reality that we could be returning to this hotel, hours after heading for the airport in the early morning, to book it once again. We have definitely decided we would return to this particular hotel, on the premise, “love the one you’re with.”

Mr. Ganapthay warm smile won our hearts. He showed us the items at varying stages in the production.

One may ask, why not go for new scenery or the option to be outdoors? We’ll have spent 10 months here and didn’t contract Covid-19. That’s all the assurance we need. Plus, to start over, with all of our food requirements, cleaning protocol and safety concerns would only add more stress and confusion, which if we can’t leave, we don’t want.

So that aspect of our potential inability to depart India, in itself, gives us peace of mind, knowing what to expect. Most likely, international flights would resume in two or three months and we’d start over again. At any point, we have the option to “throw in the towel” and return to the US since repatriation flights are still available in small numbers.

Wax and sand are used in making molds.

However, as our long time readers know, that is not our objective. With the rampant rise in cases of Covid-19 daily and the lack of coordination on the flow of the vaccine, we feel better off making other plans at this point. If we were going to be stuck here another nine or ten months, we may have no choice but to do so. For now, that’s not on our radar.

Instead, we’re trying to be proactive as to our choices over the next few weeks and going forward. Also, we are bracing ourselves for the upcoming realities of Marloth Park, which for many travelers may be difficult and inconvenient.

The wax mold for the bronze head of a God that his brother sculps, soon to be completed.

Since we belong to many Marloth Park Facebook groups, each day, we read what’s going on in the park. At times, it’s disheartening and may cause many travelers to think twice before booking a bush home in the wild. Such challenges at this time include:

  • Heat: It is summertime in SA upon our arrival, and the temperatures can easily rise well into the 100F, 40C, or more. It’s hot and sticky, often with not much of a breeze, if any at all. This is Africa, not Palm Beach.
  • Power: Due to Eskom, the electric power company, there are almost daily power outages, referred to as “load shedding” to reduce usage. This results in sleepless nights when temperatures are over 100F, 40C, during the day when we can’t use a fan or air-con. Most bush houses don’t have air-con in the living areas so residents must bear the daytime heat regardless. Besides, we prefer to spend the majority of each day outdoors to see the visiting wildlife, rather than sitting indoors in an air-conditioned room.
    The brother, in the process of manufacturing an item.
  • WiFi: Without power, we won’t have WiFi in the house. Fortunately, this time, we have WiFi on our phones and although it can be pricey when they are used as hotspots if used excessively, it’s worthwhile for uploading posts and conducting online searches.
  • Water outages: The water in MP is not safe to drink or use for brushing teeth. From time to time, the water supply is cut off for hours, or even days. We’ll deal with this on a case by case basis and improvise as needed. We’ll always have plenty of bottled water on hand.
  • Mosquitoes: We decided against taking prophylactic malaria medication. Once again, we plan to stay in Africa for an extended period and it’s not recommended to be taking the drugs long term. The last time I took them was while we were in Botswana in 2018. I had an uncomfortable reaction, some weird headache, and stopped them after a few days. As it turned out we spent 15 months in Africa in 2018-2019 and diligently used roll-on repellent for full protection, which we re-applied every six hours. With regular use of the repellent, we were able to avoid being bitten.
    They work in their bare feet next to the very hot items.
  • Snakes: They are everywhere during the hot summer months, often in the house and gardens, many of which are highly venomous, and life-threatening. It’s imperative to constantly be on the lookout for snakes, immediately reporting their presence to one of the many professionals in Marloth Park. We will contact Juan, whom we know and is an expert handler. They will not be killed but will be relocated to other safer locations, such as in Lionspruit, another conservancy with wildlife, located within Marloth Park.
  • Grocery shopping: Although there are a few shops in Marloth Park, most of them offer only grocery items applicable for short-term tourists. Most likely, once a week we will travel the 22 minutes to Komatipoort to shop at the big market, Spar, and the larger meat market. There is a small meat market in MP that served us well for many items, owned by the same larger company in Komati. With frequent power outages, we don’t want to worry about meat and other groceries spoiling. We’ll have to shop frequently, increasing exposure to Covid-19 in the busy town.
    Rows upon rows of shelves filled with bronze figures for sale.

Yes, many tourists would shy away from such challenges. But, after a total of 18 months of experience, living in the bush since the onset of our travels, we feel comfortable that we can handle it. After all, when I returned from the hospital after open-heart surgery, in awful pain and discomfort, and again more than a month later, after two surgeries on both legs, I managed then and we’ll manage now.

For us, the experience is worth it, as it is for many who visit and many who own bush houses. I can’t say we’ll never whinge a little about such inconveniences since as we’ll always, “tell it like it is” but, in any case, it will be a lot more enjoyable than sitting in this hotel room for 10 months. This morning, again, our bacon was burned. Hum, bacon every day, 10 months. Go figure.

Now, let’s get through these next nine days and be on our way!!!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2020:

At the New Year’s Eve party a few nights earlier. For more, see here.

Pig on the porch…Pig in the parlor…Warthog “Little” comes to call…

This is “Little” entering the parlor looking for the bags of pellets! Funny!
Little decided to check out the inside of the house. I was in the kitchen chopping vegetables when he entered and looked up to see this! We both couldn’t stop laughing.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Adorable young duiker has become more at ease approaching the veranda for pellets. As the smallest in the antelope family, they are often the last to be able to eat when the larger animals chase them off. Whenever we see them alone, we make sure they have plenty on their own.

As our long-time readers are well aware, I love pigs. They are intelligent and readily make eye contact with deep expression and, they appear to have an excellent memory:
Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps! They also have excellent object-location memory.”

Yesterday, Little gingerly climbed the several steps up to the veranda, looking for pellets.

We can’t underestimate their ability to interact with us, not unlike a dog or other domesticated animal. No doubt, warthogs are not domesticated, and nor are we purporting they should be especially warthogs who thrive in a life in the wild foraging for food, mating, and raising piglets to adulthood.

Once he was situated, we brought him some fruit and veg.

With the recent visits of the mom and four piglets, we’ve witnessed a loving and attentive mother, concerned for the well-being of her young, to the point of putting her own life at risk. We’ve watched her chase off bigger and stronger male warthogs to ensure her piglets get in on the pellet action.

I sat quietly in the chair next to him, wanting to make him feel at ease.

But today’s story is about Little, a warthog who’s been visiting us for the past six months. His gentle soul and good nature with other animals, while sharing the pellets has astounded us, making him hold a special place in our hearts.

This was yesterday afternoon after he’d climbed the steps to the veranda.  He ate some pellets and left. But today, was an entirely new scenario as shown in our video and photos.

When we first saw him enter the cement pond a few months ago, he endeared himself to us further. He splashes around in the tiny pond cooling off on a very hot day, often putting his face underwater while taking a big gulp of the water we keep clean. Well, as clean as you can keep a pond clean that a pig swims in. Our pond is emptied and cleaned once a week. 

Little doesn’t care for lettuce, but likes pellets, carrots, apples, and pears.

Since that time, he’s visited many times on hot days to do the same. He easily knows his name and looks up at us when we call him. His expressions are of great interest and curiosity. We have no doubt he is the same when he visits other bush homes in Marloth Park.

What originally inspired me in 2012, to convince Tom, we needed to come to Marloth Park was a photo Louise had on her website of a pig, napping in front of a fireplace in a bush home.  

Today, he was determined when he climbed the steps, feeling more at “home.” He’s come up the steps to the veranda a few times in the past weeks but now, it’s been two consecutive days. Maybe this will become a regular part of his almost daily visits.

That single photo inspired me so much, I literally had to plead with Tom to “step outside the box” in our upcoming travels and stay in this wildlife conservancy for at least three months.  

As warthogs do, he was on his knees eating.  They have long snouts so nature provided tough knee pads to allow them to scoot around on the knees gathering morsels of food.

Coincidentally, we arrived in Marloth Park on December 2, 2013, five years ago today. See that post here. Our first official visit at the Hornbill house was a warthog as shown in this photo below.

At the Hornbill house less than a half-hour after we arrived, this warthog stopped by to welcome us to the neighborhood. He was our first official visitor. For all we know, we’ve seen this warthog during these past many months since our return. They may live as long as 17 years.

Returning to Marloth Park this past February, my greatest enthusiasm surrounded the opportunity to interact with these funny creatures once again. And, have we ever. There are many warthogs, we recognize and who know us as the generous pellet providers.  

When the pellets are consumed, he waits patiently for more.  Although, a few times, he nudged me with his nose.

Sure, they visit for the food.  We have no delusions that the single biggest motivator for them, including Little, is to regularly return to our garden.  But, in our heart of hearts, we see their continuing interest in us, curious to as to what us humans are all about and possibly gleaning some form of emotional attachment similar to that we experience from dogs.

There’s always time in his busy schedule for a pellet break.

This morning, when Little wandered into the house, this behavior confirmed his curiosity which made us swoon with laughter.  And yes, his powerful sense of smell directed him to bags of pellets resting again the wall in the parlor.  

Little is not so little.  Hee may weigh up to 136 kg, (300 pounds).

Had we left him to his own resources we are certain he’d have torn open the bags and had himself the feast of a lifetime. We cut the video short and sent him back outdoors. He didn’t go easily. This doesn’t imply he was aggressive. He was not.

Little contemplating a nap after his big meal.

But, he hesitated to leave and we had to toss some pellets to the garden to encourage him to make his way back down the steps for one last bowl of pellets until we cut him off…not for good…but for a “Little” while until he returns again.

We can’t stop smiling. Personally, I’m in “pig heaven” today reeling from the wonderful experience.

May your day leave you reeling with wonderfulness!

                                            Photo from one year ago today, December 2, 2017:

Tom is getting to be quite the photographer. But, when I compliment him he says, “Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day!” He’s too modest! For more photos, please click here.

Oh, oh…Frequent power outages scheduled for December…A challenge in our lives…

We didn’t see much on the river yesterday, but we were thrilled with our other sightings, including this young zebra and mom.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is our boy Wildebeest Willie, who stops by most afternoons for pellets and several naps. He waits for other wildlife to appear then gets up to join in on the pellet frenzy. He isn’t interested in carrots, celery tops, apples, or pears.  He responds enthusiastically to his name and most likely responds to names other residents have given him. Smart guy, that Willie!

It was a shocker yesterday when there was a notice on Marloth Park’s Facebook page about power company Eskom’s scheduled power outages, referred to as “load shedding.” 

What is load shedding?  Here’s a description from Eskom’s website here:

“As South Africa’s primary electricity supplier, Eskom’s mandate is to ensure the security of supply to service the South African economy and society.

Eskom, therefore, generates, transports, and distributes electricity – and this is managed predominantly by Eskom for the entire country; however, Eskom only directly supplies more than 5 million households which means that most of us are provided by municipalities.
At all times, there must be sufficient supply to meet demand, but electricity demand is not consistent because of:

  • peak periods when demand is higher
  • and continuous growth in the number of customers requiring electricity services.

This means that the power system requires constant and prudent management of supply to meet demand, but, today, Eskom faces the challenge of a constrained power system that will affect us until substantial new power capacity is available. In the meantime, to meet demand, our older power stations and infrastructure are being used to total capacity. In addition, routine and necessary maintenance of plant and infrastructure are carefully scheduled to limit compromising supply capacity during periods of high demand. We have also strengthened the distribution network to reduce localized outages when the power trips because of overload in local areas such as suburbs.

Localized outages should not be confused with load shedding. Local outages can occur when there is either a technical fault in the transmission or distribution network, or when electrical equipment has been tampered with, such as theft of cables, or when there is an overload of the local system because of irregular high usage due to electricity theft as well as normal faults.

Five years ago, we saw ostriches at this bush house, and they continue to visit almost every day. The owner can walk freely among them and distribute pellets. We’ve yet to have an ostrich at the Orange house but had one at the Hornbill house in 2014.

Load shedding, or load reduction, is done countrywide as a controlled option to respond to unplanned events to protect the electric power system from a total blackout. While we generally use the word blackout loosely to mean “no lights” in our local area, a country-wide blackout has much more severe consequences, which can occur when there is too much demand and too little supply, bringing the power system into an imbalance – tripping the power system in its entirety.

Many countries and cities in other parts of the world have experienced complete blackouts. To re-start their system, they can tap into a power system from a neighbor who can take a few hours or days, but we have to rely on ourselves to start the system from scratch – energizing one power plant at a time and one section of the country at a time. It could take up to two weeks to restore full power, which would severely impact our country! This is why we use load shedding, or load reduction, to effectively manage our power system and assist in protecting it from such an event.”

This is one of the chicks we’ve been following for the past several months. They certainly have grown. One of the fantastic attributes of the ostrich is the fact that they will grow to adulthood in 18 months. They weigh about 1kg when born and, in the space of 18 months, grow to an incredible size of about 140kg. The female ostrich will start laying eggs when she is about two years old.

There’s nothing we can do. This is the way it is and will be, especially over the busy holiday month of December. The holidaymakers will begin arriving this upcoming week, and it will be relentless throughout the entire month of December and part of January.

When reviewing the schedule for outages, we realize in many ways this will be a challenge for our daily needs as well as that of other residents and tourists in Marloth Park. Our biggest concern is being able to upload our posts with new photos daily. 

Of course, we found them on Volstruis St., which means ostrich in Afrikaans, where they are often found.

We want to assure our readers that we will continue to post every day regardless of this challenging schedule. The exception will be in the event of a total power outage lasting more than a day.  

Here’s the proud mom still fussing over her growing brood.

Thus, if you do not see a post by the end of 24 hours, you can be assured we have no power and cannot do a thing until the power is restored. At first, we were shocked and disappointed.

But now, after reviewing the schedule, we’ve discussed ways in which we’ll make it work. For us, lousy sleepers that we are, the most challenging times will be on hot nights when we won’t be able to use a fan or aircon. The windows have no screens, so we’ll be in the equivalent of a “hot box” during the two to three-hour outage.

Here’s the family altogether; mom, dad, and growing chicks.

For example, here are the scheduled power outages for us in Stage 2 over the next week:

Sat, 01 Dec
07:00 – 09:30                                         2.5 hours
15:00 – 17:30  (3:00 pm to 5:30 pm)      2.5 hours       TOTAL OUTAGES IN 24 HOURS – 7.5 HOURS
23:00 – 01:30  (11:00 pm to 1:30 am)    2.5 hours
Sun, 02 Dec
Mon, 03 Dec
Tue, 04 Dec
Wed, 05 Dec
Thu, 06 Dec
Fri, 07 Dec

The load shedding schedule varies by week when many of the outages will be during dinner time from 1700 to 1930 hours (5:00 pm to 7:30 pm). Last night was the first evening we experienced this particular schedule.  

For the first time yesterday, we spotted giraffes at a particular overlook we often visit but rarely see any wildlife on the Marloth Park side of the fence.

Knowing in advance, while the power was still on, we prepared everything we needed for our dinner. We usually start putting the dinner together around 1830 (6:30 pm) with ease with lights on. Last night we got everything out and ready to prepare while it was still light (it gets dark about 30-minutes later). We ate by candlelight.  

However, the most challenging part for us at this time of day is not the meal.  We’ll manage that just fine. It’s the fact that it’s our prime wildlife viewing time from the veranda when our evenings are so unique, is from 1700 hours (5:00 PM) to 2100 hours (9:00 pm).

We’re always in awe of giraffes, especially those in the neighborhood.

The remaining schedule includes outages for most of these hours in 2.5-hour increments. This changes everything. We won’t be able to see a thing. This is a big disappointment for us and our lifestyle.

There is nothing we can do but adapt to this situation to the best of our ability.  Next Thursday, when we go to Komatipoort to shop, we’ll stop at the hardware store to see if we can locate an excellent solar-powered light we can see the garden at night.  

We spotted five giraffes in this area, including a youngster.

As it turns out, the power issues during the prime evening hours don’t begin until December 9th.  This will work out well if we can find a solution. In reality, this is always the case; finding solutions to situations we find discomforting.

Traveling the world isn’t always convenient. It isn’t always comfortable, as we’ve seen by the outrageous over 40C (104F) heat we’ve had with much hotter temps ahead of us.  

It wasn’t easy when I was attacked by pepper ticks from walking in the bush at the river resulting in over 100 awful bites lasting for over a month, requiring medical intervention and a 12-day course of cortisone (only three days of meds remaining – situation greatly improved) when I’ve hardly been able to sleep as a side effect of the drug.

For the time being, to avoid getting more tick bites, I’ve taken photos from the car while on the daily drive in the park.  I only get out where I don’t have to walk through the bush to get to the fence to avoid taking photos of the wall. These gorgeous waterbucks males typically weigh 198–262 kg (437–578 lb) and females 161–214 kg (355–472 lb).

We never have to ask ourselves, “Is it worth it?”

Without a doubt, we rest easy in the knowledge that we love this life we’ve chosen, even with its ups and downs. No life is free from challenges, medical concerns, inconveniences, and for us, immigration issues.

We carry on with joy, love, and happiness that somehow supersedes the hardships, knowing full well, this is what and where we’re meant to be…in the world.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 1, 2017:

Slurpy mouthed iguana posing for a photo at the park in Manta, Ecuador, as seen one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

We made it to Zambia…Settling in for another week…

The matriarch blasts a sound, “Come on kids, back up the hill. Playtime is over.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mom and baby making their way back up the hill, as they follow the matriarch who’d signaled it was time to go.

Around 4:30 am I awoke with a start. Something was off. It took a few minutes for me to realize the power was out. I checked my new phone to see we didn’t have wi-fi which goes down when the power is out.

Driving down a dirt road, we spotted this male ostrich fluffing his feathers in this pile of bush debris. At one point, he spread his wings and did some mating ritual-type dancing.
Oh, no, I thought, we’re getting up at 6:00 am and there won’t be hot water for showers or lights to put ourselves together for today’s trip to Zambia for our second visa-stamp exit from South Africa in the past six months.
When he noticed us at a distance, he stood up to watch what we were going to do.

As many of our readers are well aware, South Africa only allows US citizens a visa for 90 days in their country. The laws dictate that we cannot exit and re-enter from any of the many countries bordering South Africa. Plus, if we fly in and out of Johannesburg, the hub, we may not be able to get back in.

The cape buffalos don’t seem to mind the presence of the elephants.

Subsequently, our safest bet has been to fly from the tiny airport in Nelspruit (an over one hour drive from Marloth Park), fly to the only country to which that particular airport flies non-stop without stopping in Johannesburg, where immigration laws are considerably more stringent.  

Our fingers are crossed this will work out again (and one more time in November) when we return from Zambia on August 23rd through the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport.  

A massive matriarch elephant with a herd of cape buffalos.

Now that I’ve explained this necessity one more time (sorry to our readers who’ve heard this many times), our immediate concern this morning was getting ready to leave with no power. The house was dark when we got out of bed.  

More cape buffalos and an elephant, two of the Big Five in one scene.

Determined to shower even if it was in cold water, I was shocked to discover some hot water remained in the pipes, long enough for me to take a quick shower and for Tom to do the same.

Tossing mud and water to stay cool on a very hot day.

Somehow, using a flashlight and a small hand mirror, I was able to get myself looking presentable enough to tackle the day. About 30 minutes before we left to begin the drive, the power came back on, giving us time to recharge our digital equipment, pack it up and be on our way.

The drive to the airport during which we encounter road construction took 90 minutes this time but we arrived in plenty of time for our 11:35 am flight. From there, everything went smoothly.

Lessons in rough play.

Our driver from Chris Tours, Steve was waiting for us at the curb with a sign with my name and he whisked us off to the Protea Hotel Livingstone with a stop at an ATM for cash, Zambian kwacha, and a quick trip to a pharmacy.  

A mom and a maturing offspring.

Tom felt like a cold or hayfever was coming on and he needed a nasal spray and antihistamine, just in case. Once we checked into the hotel and got situated in our lovely hotel room, he seems to be doing better. We have no time for colds and being sick!

The last time we stayed at this same hotel, we had a second-floor room with no elevator in the complex. This time, upon our request, we’re located on the main floor close to everything. Perfect.

This one-tusk elephant was sitting down in the vegetation.

Tonight, we’ll head to our favorite restaurant in Livingstone, Cafe Zambezi, as we’re both contemplating the fabulous food we enjoyed last time we were here, a mere three months ago.

Tomorrow, we’ll explore the town of Livingstone which we hadn’t done much last time we were here. We were too busy with the tours we’d arranged at the time.  

More elephants on the bank of the Crocodile River in Marloth Park.

Now with only two days and one overnight booked to go to Chobe National Park and stay at the Chobe Safari Lodge, we’ll have more free time to check out the historic town, known for its gateway to Victoria Falls. Last time we visited the falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides which resulted in a full day.

Thanks to Louise and Danie for stopping by for a “sundowner” last night and the treasured handmade gift of a jar of 90% dark chocolate-covered coffee beans.  What a treat when the sweet tooth hits after dinner! Such good friends!

Truly a large parade of elephants on the river.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with new photos of Zambia we’ll be sharing along the way. Today, we’re finishing posting a few Marloth Park photos we’d taken earlier in the week.  Our posts over this next week will be uploading at varying times of the day based on the tours we’re planning. But, there will be a new post daily.

May your day be filled with new adventures, big and small, regardless of where you may be.

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

We’d been anxious to get photos of unusual frogs in Costa Rica, especially the colorful species. That will have to wait until we get out soon. We’d yet to see a colorful frog at the villa. But, this plain frog attached to Henry’s left rear bumper satisfied me for now. Check out those toes!  For more, please click here.

Its a better day…Yesterday can easily be forgotten…Power outage adding to the frustration level…

This scary looking carving is located on the iron fence of the house next door.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

We did a double take when we saw these two young guys walking their inner tube type boats along the beach. Later, we saw them fishing from these tiny watercraft.

Let’s face it, living in less developed countries presents issues many don’t find in their home country. We accepted this reality long ago when the first country in which we lived outside the US, Belize in Central America, formerly known as British Honduras, taught us that lesson hard and fast.

It’s not as if we expected a life of world travel to be as easy as life in the US. We knew there’d be challenges, and sacrifices and we’ve faced them with as much grace and dignity as we’ve been able.

The house next door to us is at the end of this narrow road of this private villa neighborhood.

Sure, we’ve whined a bit and sure, we still cringe when there’s flies on our food as we dine (in excess amounts over these past few days) and, sure, we gave each other “the look” when the power went out shortly after dinner last night. You know, the look that says, “Here we go again.”

But we didn’t say much about it.  Instead, we made a plan. The two Ketuts found candles but no candle holders. We opted for saucers. There were no flashlights or torches, in the house, no screens on the bedroom windows if the outage lasted through the night as we’d be without AC or a fan to keep us cool.

We easily both recalled living in Kenya almost three years ago (for a full three months) when there was no AC and the power would often be out all night. It happened over and over again. We had no living room, only a veranda where we sat in the dark by candlelight, bugs swarming around us until we gave up and went to bed to the protection of the mosquitos netting. We survived. 

Spiky branches of this flowering plant.

Not only did we survive, we became tougher, more resilient, more tolerant. But all of that doesn’t mean the sting of a fly bite or other insect or, the heat of a breeze-less night doesn’t impact our comfort level. We’re human, after all.

In part, the frustration level during outages revolves around the fact that we don’t know how long it will last.  Will it be hours? Days? What about the food? What about being out of touch without Skype or a working phone when the WiFi signal is also non-existent during a power outage? (We’ve yet to find SIM cards for our phones in this remote location).

Pretty flowers growing along the wall lining the neighborhood.

What about a medical emergency? The next door neighbor died 18 months ago when he couldn’t get to a proper hospital in time for treatment when he was having a heart attack. The doctor “was out” not returning for several hours. He lay on a gurney and passed away without treatment. (Tomorrow, when we head to Negara, we’ll find a SIM card).

The two Ketuts left after bringing us the candles, saucers and matches. At least we’d already had dinner. At least, my laptop was fully charged and we could watch shows until the battery died. At least, we had already cooled down the bedroom a little for after dinner lounging where we now go to relax in the evening, free from the flies and mozzies. 

Hindu statue along the wall in the neighborhood.

Luckily, it wasn’t a all night affair. A few hours later, shortly before total darkness, the power came back on.  “Whew,” we both said simultaneously. We’ve said this many times in the past. And, we have no doubt, we’ll say it many times in the future, not only here in Bali but in many other countries along the way.

Now, as we bat off about half as many flies as yesterday, with a clear blue sky, power back on and the humidity a touch lower, we look forward to the later part of the morning when the sun and the day reduces the flies dive bombing antics and once again we can experience another sunny day in Paradise.

May your day be sunny and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2015:

The morning view from our lanai in Kauai as it rained off and on. We were counting off the day until our departure after a blissful four month stay. For more details, please click here.

Nuances of life in a developing country…Managing tech issues…

Tom was engrossed in watching the ski movie on the projection screen in Baka Blues bar/restaurant in the Arts Village.

With another power outage last night shortly after dinner continuing well into the night after we’d gone to be, we lay there feeling hot and sticky with no cooling fan to lighten the air’s thickness, counting how many days we’ve been without electricity.

We’ll have spent a total of 119 days living on two islands in Fiji since arriving by prop plane on September 8, 2015 and soon to depart on January 4, 2016, only one week from today.

Running through all the days and nights we spent without power in Vanua Levu and now again in Viti Levu, in all we counted 11 days of our time in this developing country.

In the past, I’ve tactlessly referred to a few countries as “third world” and for that, I apologize to all the citizens of many countries for using this archaic expression.

In today’s world the term “developing” country is more appropriate in describing countries that may not have access to funds to provide the utmost in consistent, reliable utility and wifi services with Fiji falling into that category.

There were few diners at Baka Blues in Arts Village at our early arrival time.

Fiji, in its desire and intent in providing free medical care, good schools, and low taxes finds itself forfeiting some other aspects to life in their country; good roads, programs for the elderly, and certain assistance programs often found in other parts of the world in more “developed” countries, resulting in higher tax rates and costs of living.

I won’t get into the political climate of Fiji or other countries. Bottom line, the power has gone out on 11 different days since our arrival…10% of the time. We experienced a similar situation while living in Kenya a few years ago, frequent power outages at times lasting for over 24 hours.

Then again, living in the US, we experienced a few days of power outages every few years as a result of downed power lines from intense spring and summer storms, resulting in our eventual purchase of a gas-powered generator wired to the whole house. Those reasons for the outages may be different, although they were nonetheless annoying and inconvenient.

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator and the power not being restored in time to salvage our entire cold food supply. Secondly, our concerns for running down the batteries on our phones and laptops to the point where we can no longer read or entertain ourselves, instead, sitting in the dark twiddling our thumbs, are not pleasing by any means.

The lack of fans to keep the air moving is the next concern when often the heat and humidity have contributed to the power outage when those with air-con are running their units and others, like us, running multiple floor and ceiling fans constantly.

Most diners don’t head out to bar/restaurants until later in the evening. It was quiet while we were there around 6:45 pm.

Of course, we’ve been thrilled to have screens in this more modern house in Pacific Harbour, a rarity in most developing countries. The locals seem to become immune to the bites of the mozzies and more comfortable allowing a wide array of insects and other creatures free access into their homes when leaving doors wide open. 

We’re not quite there yet and may never be. For us, it’s the mozzies more than other creatures that prevent us from leaving doors and windows without screens open all day to allow for more airflow.

When the power returned during the night, we were thrilled. We’ve learned to prepare before going to bed when the power is out; unplug the TV so it doesn’t come back on with the power; turn off lights and fans in living areas and turn on the fans in the bedroom to avoid the necessity of getting out of bed if the power is restored during the night.

There was that.  Then, over the past several days, my Windows 8.1 touchscreen laptop, purchased in Hawaii last year, developed some issues. I won’t bore our less-interested-in-technology readers as to the extent of the issues which were wide in scope. 

The only solution was to “refresh” my PC which always results in a loss of many apps and downloaded programs I use (such as MS Office) with the necessity of spending an entire day to restore these programs and apps. 

Tom enjoyed his fries and onion rings but said the beef had a spicy flavor he didn’t care for. We were in a restaurant that had a Cajun flavor most likely resulting in the use of a grill seasoned with the spices which he doesn’t like.  It was bo fault of the restaurant.

Over these years I’ve sweat bullets when either of us had what may have proven to be irreparable computer issues. Now, with more experience in repairing issues and with the experience of purchasing a new (inferior brand) laptop a few years ago in South Africa (I’d dropped and broke the screen making it unusable), I take these issues in stride. No longer do my palms sweat and no longer does my heart race while attempting to figure out a solution.

Using a cloud service to store all of our important files and documents and with our external two terabytes hard drive which we use frequently to back up our data, the bigger concern revolves around where and how to purchase a replacement if necessary.

If a new computer is to be shipped to us, there’s no way to avoid paying customs fees or such potential fees when exiting the country. In any case, yesterday, before the power went out, I was able to restore my laptop to 95% efficiency leaving only one touchscreen issue preventing me from performing the frequently used right to left-hand gesture swipe.

Need I say, I looked online for hours to find a solution for this remaining issue. Either the suggestions didn’t work or were impractical for my system. I even contacted Acer, the manufacturer, and “spoke” to one of their tech reps via a chat, requesting a solution to no avail. She said, “Do a refresh of the system,” which I’d already done.

I’ve decided to live with the remaining issues instead implementing a few extra clicks to perform a similar task, with a “workaround” for the rest. It will do for now. When we’ll be able to purchase new equipment remains a mystery at this point, most likely waiting until it’s absolutely a must resulting in our paying customs and shipping fees for a replacement for one, if not both of us.

My salad was fabulous with smoky flavored chicken and extra hard-boiled eggs. There was no dressing on the menu that worked for me so I ordered a side of sour cream, usually a good alternative.

On the agenda today?  It’s been raining 11 days in a row, soaking bursts, making walking and going out unappealing. The laundry I’d washed and hung two days ago is still damp. I may have to bring it indoors to hang it around the house, hoping it will soon dry from the airflow of the fans. 

Life in the tropics as we’ve known it over this past year including a tremendous number of rainy days, coupled with many days without power, leaves us feeling good about the next leg of our journey; easy days cruising; cool, sunny, and less humid 89 days in New Zealand; and then off to another tropical climate in Bali which by April, we’ll be ready to enjoy once again.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2014:

This was one of our favorite photos while on the Big Island. The entire family took an evening trip to Mount Kilauea to see the erupting volcano and we captured this shot more by a fluke than anything. It was exciting for our kids and grandkids to see an erupting volcano with us. Who has ever had an opportunity to see an erupting volcano in a lifetime? For more volcano photos, please click here.