Two years of hell?…

At first, we thought this was one centipede tangled around itself. But, when Tom moved it to safety in the grass, it proved to be two. Were they fighting, or were they mating? Centipede poop beside them. Did she squeeze the you-know-what out of him?

Without much of a social life these days after most of our friends have left the bush, our days and nights seem to roll into one another, and we easily lose track of time. Many Marlothians are concerned about Omicron and staying close to home rather than going out and about to socialize.

We haven’t heard of any new virus cases here in the park, But it’s entirely possible they aren’t being recorded. Today, I contacted the Marloth Park medical clinic to see if they’ll have the J & J boosters, and they will not. I am awaiting a response on if I can get a different booster which I’ve read is fine to “mix and match.”

This is One Tusk and who may have been his mate, Momm, and three piglets. The two warthogs in the background are hers from her last litter, Barbara and Lori. She chases them off now that she has the new piglets. Family dynamics. Funny.

At this point, I don’t think South Africa has authorized boosters for the general population, but finding accurate information online is tricky. Answers are vague and confusing. All we can do at this point is to continue watching the news for updates. Also, we continue checking the news to see if the President will do his “family meeting” to see if he will extend visas again for foreign nationals.

This was hilarious. One Tusk happily lounges on the ground while the three piglets are “giving him a bath.” He didn’t mind a bit. Surely, these must be his kids! Note: Barbara and Lori are looking on.

If he does not extend visas, we’ll have no choice but to return to Zambia again for the new visa stamps. Flights are still available to Livingstone, from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger. This time, we’ll bring a copy of our flight cancellation and a newly purchased ticket to the US. South Africa immigration doesn’t approve of “border jumping” for visa purposes, although it is legal. In this case, we won’t have a choice.

If our cruise cancels, will we attempt to stay here longer, or will we book a new location? Fortunately, United Airlines now has a free cancellation policy that makes bookings easier. If we find out that our cruise is canceled after we’ve booked it, we’ll be able to change or cancel the flight after deciding what we’d like to do.

It’s fun to see the three generations getting along.

At this point, a new location is more appealing, providing the various countries we investigate will accept passengers from South Africa, which is a real dilemma, especially since the onset of Omicron. But, at this early date, we have no idea. Everything could change between now and March or April.

If we go to Zambia on January 24, 2022, and get another 90 days, and if the cruise cancels, most likely, we’ll stay here until the end of the 90 days. We’d be able to stay in South Africa until April 24, 2022. Our next cruise, sailing from Istanbul, isn’t until June 29, 2022. Hopefully, we could find somewhere interesting to stay for a few months in that part of the world while we wait for the cruise.

The piglets are hilarious. We never tire of watching their antics. One Tusk is a very gentle guy, even with the one vicious-looking task.

So much is up in the air. But after spending ten months in lockdown in India in 2020, we are much more adept and patient in dealing with the unknown. As complex and challenging as those ten months were, we did learn a few things about ourselves and our ability to adapt and accept such a trying situation.

If anyone had told us that we’d experience such a difficult challenge for ten months during our first nine years of world travel, along with dealing with my open-heart surgery, all transpiring in a two-year period, we’d have wondered if we could handle this degree of strife. But, amid those difficulties, we had countless fantastic experiences. The two years weren’t, by any means, a total loss for us.

Eventually, Mom and the babies were left on their own, when of course, we tossed more pellets their way.

As those times have passed, we look back with gratitude for the personal growth and strength we gleaned, individually and as a couple, during those tough times.  It has only made us more resilient than we ever imagined. Waiting out this current scenario is a piece of cake,

We’re safe. We’re content. We have each other and the love from friends and family worldwide. What more could we ask for?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 9, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #261. After arriving in Nevada to visit family in 2019, we were on our way to the Vegas Golden Knights game, guest of son Richard, a super fan. For more, please click here.

Nearly landlocked due to storms and road washouts…Stunning photos of our area…Happy Valentine’s Day!…

First, I’d like to thank Marlothian, Thea Sander, for sharing today’s photos with us, which she took yesterday after the constant rains resulted in washouts on several roads in our area. If it weren’t for one short stretch of another road, we’d be landlocked until everything dries out. Road maintenance in Marloth Park is minimal at best.

With the bit of car we rented a month ago, there is no way we’d attempt to get out right now. With rain forecast through Monday with a short reprieve midweek, it appears it will pick up again next Saturday. We may not be going anywhere for days. After raining for at least three of the past four weeks, the ground and the roads are soaked and may not become passable again for weeks to come.

In any case, it’s certainly better than sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, for months. We can cook, do laundry, feed a few determined wildlife that comes to call when the rain stops in short bursts, and move about freely. This is quite an improvement. Hopefully, by following Monday, the 22nd, we’ll be able to drive to Komati for my next dentist appointment to see if the tooth abscess is gone. Hoping.

Marloth Park doesn’t have a stable infrastructure for utility services and road maintenance, although their emergency services, including fire, rescue, snake removal, rangers, security, and wildlife control, are exemplary. Cost is the determining factor as it is in most municipalities. The citizens and powers-that-be of Marloth Park chose correctly when they had to “pick and choose” their priorities.

Of course, the reliability of electrical services is predicated by the poorly managed national electric company, Eskom. This is the case throughout the entire country when load shedding is an ongoing fact of life in South Africa.  It’s impossible to determine when and if this will ever change. However, often their staff is quick to respond when there is damage to the lines, usually coming out in inclement weather and the middle of the night.

Many, if not most, African countries struggle with their infrastructure, resulting in many observers describing them as “third world countries.” In our travels, we often hear other travelers describe parts of the world as “third world.” But, this phrase has become derogatory and outdated in today’s modern world. We kindly offer a more appropriate phrase for such a country as a “developing nation.”  See more on this topic here at this link.

Without question, poverty, wars, unrest, and corruption are instrumental in a country’s slow progress in building a more robust infrastructure. But, as we scour the world, we see these factors play out and are prevalent in many countries, at times even in more modern countries like our own USA and many countries in Europe and other continents.

We live in difficult times, only made more so, due to the pandemic of the past year. Will we ever come out from the ravages and rubble that have ravaged the world during these challenging times? It’s hard to say. As much as we want to believe, we will, with this belief keeping us hopeful and sane as we struggle with “pandemic fatigue,” as described in part in this article.

“Humans have a remarkable capacity to conceive of a task they have never done before and plan and execute the actions needed to do it. For example, most of us probably didn’t have a routine of wearing a mask around other people before this year. But, once we understood that it stemmed from the spread of COVID-19, many of us started doing so. It didn’t take hundreds of trials of training to learn this behavior, or indeed, thousands of years of evolution. Rather, we incorporated mask-wearing into our daily lives almost immediately. Humans can link our abstract goals, ideas, rules, and knowledge to our behavior at speed and on a scale that no other species can match and no AI yet built can emulate. We can do this because of a class of function scientists term cognitive control, a function that is supported by several interacting systems and mechanisms that are uniquely elaborated in the human brain, including the prefrontal cortex.”

There’s no easy answer as to how we humans will get through this difficult time. Now, as I am situated in the bedroom since it’s raining too hard to be outdoors, we even question our ability to get through lesser times such as this on a much smaller scale.

But, as I learned decades ago in a Tony Robbins seminar, we must utilize our human ability to “reframe” a situation to enable ourselves to cope in the best possible manner with the best possible outcome. Here are a few of Tony’s quotes that have lingered in my mind over the years. See his link here.

The power of positive thinking is the ability to generate a feeling of certainty in yourself when nothing in the environment supports you.”

“Knowing you have failed to live up to your standards is the ultimate pain; knowing that you have fulfilled your highest vision is the ultimate pleasure.”

There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire a reality.”

What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”

That’s it for today, folks. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and hope for the future…

Photo from one year ago today,  February 14, 2020:

A gaur is crossing the road. “The gaur (/ɡaʊər/, Bos gaurus), also called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. It is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population has been estimated at a maximum of 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations and is extinct in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In a well-protected area, it is stable and rebuilding.” For more, please click here.

A day we’ll remember…Contact with the outside world…

We can only imagine how frustrating it must be for sailors and tourists hesitating to partake in boating activities during this rainy period.

Yesterday was unlike any other day we’ve experienced in our travels. No, it wasn’t a typhoon or a hurricane, but it could have been. The winds whipped around this house shaking it on its stilts that hold up the ocean side of the house, the balance wedged into the steep hill. 

The rain came down as hard as we’ve ever seen, steadily, hour after hour. At one point Tom said, “Gee, I hope there’s not a landslide!” I hadn’t thought of that. Then, after he said it, I did think of how possible it could be living on the side of this mountain, after rain falling day after day with only a few exceptions since we arrived 39 days ago. 

(After today, we’ll stop writing about rain for a while unless, of course, if there’s a typhoon or we do in fact, float away. We’re tired of it too, as most of you are into reading about it. You’ll see it’s ended when we post sunny day photos).

On the last partially sunny day, we drove through Yaroi, a small village further down the road from Savusavu.

It was a good thing we shopped a day earlier, avoiding the worst of it. This morning, still cloudy and outrageously humid, the rain is stopped at the moment, for however long we don’t know. For the first time in days, we can see across the bay through a shroud of haze and humidity.

If the sun appeared today, we’d still have to stay put for a few days to let the roads dry, never expecting Rasnesh to make it up the steep incline on the dirt road which by now, is all mud. 

Houses of the local villagers lined the highway.

The house is still intact with only a little water seeping in through the jalousie windows which we kept closed during the worst of it, wiping it up throughout the day. This morning, we were able to open the windows again for fresh air and yet the windows remain covered in raindrops unable to evaporate in the humid air.

Four days ago, I did some hand washing, and today it’s still damp. This morning, when I grabbed my pill case to swallow a few prescriptions and vitamins, most of them had disintegrated into powdery dust. I salvaged what I could and replaced the rest. Now our pill cases will remain in the refrigerator which is already packed to its limits as shown in yesterday’s post.

School for special education.

Two years ago, we thought the humidity in Kenya was the worst we’d ever seen. The zippers on our luggage turned green from the humidity. Since that period, we’ve become smarter and regularly zip and unzip the bags at least every few weeks whenever we’ve lived in humid climates.

Yesterday, Junior, soaked through and through, stopped by to see if we were OK. That’s the kind of service we get here. And later than usual, Shalote came with fresh towels and sheets to change the bed. She, too, was soaking wet. I wondered how her slim, lithe body would manage walking in the strong winds.

Entrance to the school which didn’t appear to be in session.

Sure, we’re looking forward to getting out to see more of this island’s beauty and to take many more photos.  But, we’re easily maintaining an upbeat attitude keeping ourselves busy. 

This rainy period of time has given us the opportunity to investigate future travel options and slowly, we’re coming to a place where we’ll be able to pin down some decisions. Once we do, we’ll certainly share them here.

We weren’t able to determine if this old structure is occupied.

During food prep yesterday, I couldn’t seem to get my hands or the wood countertops dry no matter how many paper or cloth towels I used. By the end of the day, my fingertips were wrinkly comparable to spending a long period in water. 

Even the cloth furniture and our clothing felt damp. Thank goodness the temperatures remained cool enough to make the humidity a little more tolerable.

Most houses are on some type of raised structure in the event of inclement weather.

As for today, we continue to be housebound. With a 70% chance of rain hopefully dwindling over the next week, we’re content with the current situation knowing eventually, we’ll be able to get out and about. 

Tom’s been busy with his favorite pastimes;, managing investments; connecting with his railroad cronies, family, and friends on Facebook; watching and reading US news; and listening to his favorite radio podcasts from Minnesota, KSTP 1500, “Garage Logic.” He used to wear earbuds when listening until recently when I’ve also enjoyed listening to the show.

Beaches are still eye-catching on cloudy days.

Yesterday, I downloaded 10 books in “Kindle Unlimited” at (USD $10, FJD $21 a month for all the books one can read, never having more than 10 “checked out” in any given time). In 24 hours, I’ll breeze through two books especially when my computer was busy downloading movies and TV shows on preventing me from doing anything else at the same time. In one day, I used five gigs of data, more than the average person may use in a month.

These online resources provide us with entertainment, information, and contact with the outside world. With our newly purchased Vodafone Internet dongles, we have a great connection, easily able to enjoy our pastime activities.

Have a peaceful or action-packed weekend, whichever suits your desires!

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2014:

A year ago today, we were settled into our new home in Maui, a beautiful condo overlooking the ocean with a pool and everything we could possibly need.  With the prospect of Hurricane Ana still looming, Tom decided he’d better check out the beach outside our condo before the deluge. For details, please click here.

Raining in buckets!…Touch of cabin fever?…Unreal video of another steep road…

Steep road to the house in Savusavu!

With our lifestyle geared toward making events less stressful when its within our control keeps us at “home” on rainy days. As of today, we’ve been in Savusavu for 15 days and its rained for 13 days.

My dish towels have been hanging outside on the ropes of the railing for days, partially drying during short dry periods and then becoming soaked a short time later. There’s not a single spot indoors to hang them.

These dish towels have been hanging outside for days unable to dry with the constant rain. We can’t throw them into the laundry when they’d be covered in ants by morning.  When necessary, I place the dirty towels in a bag in the freezer overnight.

Shalote will take the soaked towels along with our dirty laundry to the mysterious washer and dryer she and Usi use to do the laundry. I saw a clothesline in an obscure location on this five-acre property. I longingly think of those stand-up racks we’ve used in various countries throughout the world where we did our own wash, hanging the clothes to dry. This way I wouldn’t have this daily dish towel issue. 

We’d love to get out, me more than Tom. If we hardly ever went out and about, he’d be content. Somehow, he manages to entertain himself constantly reading online; looking for future cruises, airfares, and car rentals; listening to his favorite Minnesota podcast, Garage Logic (three hours daily); checking stock prices and financial matters; and, spending time spewing a variety of opines on Facebook, Cruise Critic and a few other choice newsy sites he fancies.

If we sat outside in the rain we’d be protected by the overhang. But, the mozzies are in full force during this rainy period.

I, on the other hand, prefer to be out exploring and taking photos. Good grief, I prepare a daily post and need photos! The great part is the enjoyment I derive from taking the photos and from posting them along with the story of an outing. It’s an indescribable pleasure. 

Fortunately, we’ve gone out during short dry periods able to take the many photos we’ve shared to date with still a stash in “inventory.” Our goal is to have no less than five or six days of yet un-posted photos on hand in the event of inclement weather. 

Tiny purple flowers with a tiny bee on the flower on the left.

At times, our photos may appear to be repeated, but we do not post repeats unless we mention in the caption they’ve been previously posted. Of course, there always will be the repeated “year ago” photo at the bottom of each post.

I’ll admit from time to time I have no choice but to wander about the yard looking for new photo ops to post over the next days if for whatever reason we haven’t been able to go anywhere of significance. 

Flowers are blooming with this excessive amount of rain.

Here in Fiji, with the slow wifi, we’re limited on how many photos will upload without taking hours. Once I start a post I usually stick with it until it’s online except for the time the photos take to load during which I usually chop and dice for the evening’s meal. Not one to sit and stare at the computer I can’t otherwise use, I find other ways to make use of the time.

Most days, it takes the entire morning to write, edit, and upload photos. Our post may not be editorially perfect by any means, but, we do make the effort. After it’s online Tom also proofreads it, often finding errors I missed after which I immediately return to the editing page to make the corrections.   

Another house in the area, down the hill from us.

Tom, whose grammar may be a result of growing up “in the hood” is actually an excellent proofreader. He waits to listen to his podcasts until after I’ve posted, offering considerable assistance in researching and fact-checking many aspects of each post. It truly is a team effort requiring our combined attention each morning.

The remainder of my days at “home,” referring to the afternoons, I spend searching for future locations and vacation rentals, working on the financials and our spreadsheet, and communicating with friends and family. I don’t spend more than 10 minutes daily on Facebook or other social media, preferring to spend time up and out of this chair when possible. 

Bougainvillea isn’t as prolific here as they were in Kenya.

With our limited way of eating, it’s always challenging coming up with new ways to prepare our food, creating and/or following new recipes I’ve found online at the zillions of low carb sites, many requiring tweaking here and there to make them suitably free of sugar, grains, and starch.

Last night, instead of plain steamed green beans with butter, I created a recipe for stir-fried, cooked in ghee and coconut oil, Asian seasoned green beans infused with bacon I’d first pre-cooked in the microwave. 

Baby palm fronds growing up on the sides of a larger frond.

We seldom have plain meat, veg, and salad.  In most cases, I make a “dish,” of some sort or other put together with a variety of ingredients making dining more interesting and varied. This requires a lot of work and time, of which I have had plenty, especially on these rainy days.

Thank goodness, we aren’t typical travelers on a two-week vacation/holiday to Fiji. We’d be sorely disappointed with the daily rain. Who wants to walk through a rainforest or visit a waterfall in the pouring rain? Maybe 20 year olds.  

The sun almost peeked out a few days ago.

It would be dangerous for us to walk from the house to the steep driveway in the rain, especially when we read online in a review for this property that a younger visitor had fallen on the road.  Why take a chance? The views easily make up for the potential risks so we’re not complaining, instead of being careful and appreciating the lovely home and location.

We can’t imagine driving in the rain on the steep driveway to the house as shown in the video we posted above.  There’s no doubt that the skies will eventually clear for many days in a row before too long. We had this same rainy early on in Trinity Beach with resulting sunny skies day after day when the rains finally died down.

These unusual flowers are blooming below the veranda.

Luckily, with the house on a hill with a solid tin roof, we’re not suffering any ill effects of the rain inside the house. So what about the soaked dish towels and being stuck indoors!

In our old lives, we wouldn’t have been doing much more when it rained with wild thunder and lightning, knocking out the power, a blizzard leaving snowdrifts taller than the tops of our heads, and with record temperatures in Minnesota dropping to -60F, -51C, with an estimated lowest record wind chill of -100F, -73C. 

We saw the same variety of beautiful yellow flowers in Trinity Beach.  As much as we’d like to post names of every flower posted, many we simply don’t recall and, are unable to use data to look to find them online.

Tom always says Minneapolis is as cold as Moscow. He spent 42 years working in that weather and remembers it well. A bit of rain in a tropical climate, even over a period of weeks is unimportant to us.

We hope our readers continue to enjoy our posts with the photos we do have available during this rainy spell. As soon as it clears we’ll be out and about, taking photos of this beautiful country. 

Instead of fussing over the weather, we find ourselves grateful for our lives, for good health, for being together, and for having this opportunity to stretch our wings and fly…and fly…and fly…

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2014:

One year ago, we posted our total expenses for six nights in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada as we prepared to board the ship to Hawaii the next day.  For more details and the listed expenses, please click here.