Yikes….Venomous snake at Jabula, as we walked up the steps!…Jaun, snake handler to the rescue…

Twig snake, also known as vine snake, was on the railing at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant as we walked up the steps to the restaurant. See the story below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A praying mantis stopped by for a visit this morning. After it walked on the veranda table, it landed on Tom and then landed on me. Friendly little fellow.

When Uschi and Evan suggested, the four of us got together for dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant last night. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to spend another evening with this lovely couple.

They suggested we meet at 6:30, but in our usual style, we planned to arrive by 1715 hours (5:15 pm) to have an opportunity to chat with owners Dawn, Leon, and assistant Lyn at the comfortable bar.  
Jaun, snake handler, captured the snake, placing it in this container and releasing it in Lionspruit, where other caught venomous snakes are sent to live out their lives.

We parked the red car in our usual spot, reasonably close to the stairway entrance to the restaurant. Clumsy me, I’m always a little tentative on the “open” wood staircase up to the restaurant and carefully watch my step with Tom behind me.  

When approaching the steps, a guest of the resort and one staff member hollered, “Look out! There’s a snake on the railing! Neither of us panicked.  Instead, we searched the railing for the culprit and waited to see what was going to transpire.

Young zebra in the garden.

Had no one alerted us, we easily would have been in striking distance of the deadly venomous snake, a twig, also known as a vine snake. Here’s some information on these dangerous creatures from this site:

“This perfectly camouflaged tree-living snake is seldom seen because of its excellent camouflage and habit of remaining very still in low shrubs, observing the ground below for passing lizards and snakes. Birds often mob this snake, inflating its neck with its bright orange tongue flickering – this leads to the incorrect assumption that they lure birds closer with their tongue. It is exceptionally placid but, if provoked, will inflate its neck and strike viciously. Bites are rare and most inflicted on snake handlers.

Like the Boomslang, this snake’s venom is haemotoxic, affecting the blood clotting mechanism and causing uncontrolled bleeding. There is no antivenom for the poison of this snake, and although a few fatalities have been reported, none were in South Africa.”

We’re treasuring every moment with the wildlife, knowing once the holidaymakers arrive, we’ll have considerably fewer visitors until well into January.

The hotel guest grabbed the swimming pool net and tried to capture the snake…not so bright. That didn’t work and was foolhardy. A degree of commotion ensued while Dawn contacted the young Juan, who’s fast becoming the best snake handler in Marloth Park.

In the interim, we gingerly climbed partway up the steps to take the above photo of the snake as it politely posed for us sticking out her pink forked tongue. Nice.

When I didn’t see Little on the veranda, he knocked over the chair where I sit when he visits—determined Little, trying to get my attention.  It worked!

Jaun arrived within 10 minutes and in moments captured the snake and safely placed it into a plastic container.  From there, he’d take it to Lionspruit (the game reserve within Marloth Park) and release it. There are no residences in Lionspruit, making this an ideal spot to transfer captured snakes or other venomous creatures.

We had a chance to congratulate Jaun on his excellent snake handling skills. He attended snake school with us many months ago, and now he is a volunteer snake handler. Glad we didn’t go down that road!

Pellets and ice-cold carrots were on the menu on a scorching day. He’s so exhausted in the heat he lays down to dine.

After the commotion died down and Juan was on his way, we entered the bar and engaged in enthusiastic discussions with staff and guests over the excitement we all experienced in seeing this scary snake.  

One might think that locals are used to venomous snakes, but many are equally apprehensive about them as us visitors. There’s no such thing as “getting used to” the risk of encountering a snake that may be deadly.
The evening commenced in its usual playful manner. We’ve seldom encountered such a fun bar anywhere in the world, even in our old lives. The African atmosphere, cozy lighting, friendly staff, good friends, great food and service, and our good friends Dawn and Leon make it an exceptional time for us.
Giraffe on the side of the road on our way to Jabula.

I sipped on one extra light wine cooler while Tom had his usual brandy and Sprite Zero. In no time at all, Uschi and Evan arrived, and they too were delighted to sit at the bar as the lively conversation ensued for the remainder of the evening.

Finally, we ordered our meals, and when the food was just about ready, we wandered outside to the veranda to dine. During our dinner and after Dawn and Leon joined us at different points, the four of us for more great chatter, laughter, and good times.

We didn’t walk out the door until close to 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), late for an evening out to dinner in this sleepy community. Within an hour, I was fast asleep, the cortisone no longer in my system, and slept no longer alluding to me.  

Another giraffe on the road in the evening.

When I awoke this morning and still had 80% battery left on my phone, I knew I’d slept well.  When I can’t sleep, I read books, play games, or read the news on my phone, which I’d avoiding last night. I feel like a new person today.

Tonight, we’re off to Ngwenya for river viewing and the buffet dinner. Rita and Gerhard won’t be returning for a few more days, so we’ll be off on our own. We always enjoy time with friends but being “just the two of us” isn’t bad either.

May your Thursday be pleasant, whatever you decide to do.

Today’s expected, high temp? 37C (98F)…A refreshing break from yesterday’s  
40C (104F).  

Photo from one year ago today, December 6, 2017:

A band was playing on the beach in Arica, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

Preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner…A black mamba story unfolds…

 Here’s our previously shown video from the snake-handling school 
we attended last March.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Our resident monitor lizard came out of his hovel for a drink from the cement pond.

Today is a hectic day. I started making the eight pumpkin pies early this morning, and as I write, we’re just about ready to put the first few in the oven. The oven only has one rack, so I won’t be able to bake more than two or three pies at a time.

I made one low-carb pie for Danie and Louise, who generally follow the banting (low-carb) way of eating, as do many South Africans for various health reasons.  I didn’t make a low-carb pie for me. This time I will pass on a pie for myself based on the fact I’m still trying to lose the last few pounds on my diet and pumpkin pie. Oh my, I could eat an entire pie in a day. But, not these days.
There are many other items to prepare today, with the balance to be completed tomorrow. Although easy to prepare with recipes in my head, Thanksgiving dinner requires a tremendous amount of time to prepare.  

Also, Dawn and Leon (owners of Jabula Lodge & Restaurant) are coming for dinner and bringing “take-away” containers to provide all of our guests with containers of leftovers for the next day along with their own pumpkin pie, another one of our traditions.  Everyone always enjoys leftover Thanksgiving dishes!

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a turkey anywhere in this area.  Instead, we’re making one roasted stuffed chicken for each couple to enjoy as they’d like during the meal, taking home the remainder along with side dishes and their full-sized pumpkin pie.

Although there will only be 10 of us dining tomorrow evening, I’m making enough for the equivalent of 20 people. Then again, many of us Americans have made the festive meal for 20 or more people.

It would be a lot easier cooking today and tomorrow if it weren’t so hot.  Temperatures are expected to be a high of 38C (101F) or more, including tomorrow.  With no AC in the kitchen area and having the oven on most of the day, it will surely be one hot, sweaty day.
In March, Chris, the snake-handling trainer, held this black mamba while Tom looked o at the snake-handling school.  For that post, please click here.

But I’m not complaining. This is a great group of people, and we’re delighted to make this special traditional US meal which is actually celebrated in the US next Thursday, November 22.

We’d planned this date quite a while ago when we anticipated it might actually be the traditional “good-bye” party. One way or another, we’re hoping to stay until our scheduled flight to Kenya on February 20th if all goes well. No word so far.

OK, enough about cooking. On to our story about a black mamba that Louise shared with us a few days ago. As for today’s photos (except for the “Sighting of the Day in the Bush” photo, we’d previously posted them in March.

However, based on today’s black mamba story and my shortage of time, we thought we’d repost these few previously shown photos and the links for these specific posts.

We’ve frequently mentioned our new friends, Rita and Gerhard, with whom we’ve been spending a lot of quality time. World travelers themselves, we find we have so much in common, and we continually share our varied and interesting travel stories and more.

On Monday, this week, they left for a two-week visit to Germany to attend Gerhard’s brother’s 60th birthday party. They’ll be returning before the end of this month.

Tom was handling a black mamba and did an excellent job, although he’s not certain he’d want to do this in a real-life situation.

As mentioned in an earlier post, they’ve been living in the same house we rented when we first came to Marloth Park in December 2013, the house on Hornbill St., the house where a Mozambique spitting cobra fell from the ceiling of the veranda and landed within a few feet of Tom.  

He’s always classified that experience as the scariest of his life. If you’d like to read that post, please click here for the photos of the venomous snake and the story of what transpired on that fateful and memorable day.  

On Sunday, the day before their departure, Rita and Gerhard heard a plop on the floor of the veranda as we had on that fateful day in January 2014,  when they were sitting outside, as they do all day too, like us, waiting for wildlife to stop by. This time the “plop” was a mouse perhaps being caught by the snake.

Although a black mamba doesn’t look scary, a single bite can result in death within an hour if not treated.

Rita and Gerhard were sitting on the veranda at that same Hornbill house where we’d lived, quietly enjoying the bush while reading, sipping cold beverages, without a care in the world.

Suddenly, they saw the snake, a black mamba. Louise had given them a sheet with photos of various snakes in the event they’d have to identify one. Here was their opportunity. They grabbed the sheet and were certain it was the outrageously venomous black mamba.

Rita couldn’t resist taking photos until the snake disappeared near the chimney as I had done years ago. What would be the point of calling the rangers if the snake was nowhere to be found? They went about their day with a watchful eye, knowing they were leaving the next morning for Germany.  

A video that Rita and Gerhard took of black mamba on the veranda.

On Tuesday, determined to get the darned thing out of that house, Louise contacted snake handler, Jaun (20 something), who’d attended snake school with us. He’s very active in the park, conducting many services as an Honorary Ranger and all-around caring and good guy.

On Tuesday, he and Louise sat on the veranda waiting for the snake to appear so Jaun would capture it to return it to the wild. By a stroke of luck, after only a 10-minute wait, the black mamba made an appearance.

It was only 15 minutes later than Juan had captured the snake with his trusty snake grabber and expert skill and placed it safely in a bucket with a lid. The intent in capturing snakes is always to return them to the wild where they belong. Mission accomplished, thanks to Louise‘s boundless determination and Juan’s excellent skills.

It sounded as if Rita and Gerhard stayed calm and under control when they spotted the snake, which is vital to avoid agitating it, resulting in an attack. Black mambas can be very aggressive if provoked.

For residents of Marloth Park, here is Juan’s contact information.

So, there’s the snake story. Most likely, we won’t see too many snakes in this house.  Snakes generally don’t care to climb stairs up to a veranda when there’s plenty of fodder for them on ground level. But, we always keep an eye out now that snake season has arrived with the warmer weather, especially at night when out and about.

We’d mentioned in yesterday’s post that we’d share the costs for the dentist and eye doctor appointments, but we don’t have the final figures yet since Tom will choose his new eyeglasses next Thursday. The optometrist didn’t have the style Tom prefer, but he’ll be bringing several pairs from his other distant location for Tom to try. Next Friday, we’ll update this information.

Tonight, hot as it is and as busy as we’ve been, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner and relaxation. Tomorrow will be another busy day, but we’ll still be back with more.

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

Once again, Tom captured another fabulous bird from the veranda in Costa Rica while I was busy indoors making dinner. This Yellow-tailed Oriole, although at quite a distance, was a treasure to behold. For more photos, please click here.

Attempting to avoid “whinging”…A tiny annoyance…

Ants carrying off a dead gecko.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Last night’s sunset.

Chere Bork, a dear friend of mine from Minnesota with whom I’ve stayed in touch by email on almost a daily basis over these past 44 months of travel, reads our daily posts reveling in our travels along with us. 

As a busy and much sought-after full-time registered dietician, national speaker, life coach, consultant, and blogger, Chere has all-encompassing experience and knowledge in the field of health and well-being. 

Our online conversations are lively and animated not only centered around our mutual beliefs in living a healthy life to the fullest, each with quality of life and husbands/family we love and adore. And, also we share in the challenges we all face regardless of any degree of joy we experience in everyday living.

Dragonfly on our chaise lounge.  These eat mosquitoes. 

Regardless of the gorgeous beaches, exquisite scenery, the interesting worldwide environment we explore and embrace, some days are better than others, some experiences not worth repeating, and others that grip our hearts and minds longing for more.

From time to time, my friend Chere suggests a subject for a story that we take seriously following suit within a few days on her suggestion. Other readers have suggested content through an email or a comment at the end of a post. 

We welcome such suggestions and if befitting our site we look forward to the next opportunity to incorporate their ideas into a post. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with us at any time.

Snake run over by a car or motorbike.

A few days ago, after a comment I made to Chere in an email, she suggested I be more explicit on this topic in a story for our readers. “Hogwash,” I said. Our readers don’t want to hear us whine (“whinge” in Aussie or British speak) anymore on this topic.

Chere went on to explain, that our readers may prefer to “Hear it like it is, the good, the bad and the ugly.” And, folks, at times, I’ll admit to avoiding mentioning a lot of the ugly because, a) I’m “overly bubbly” attempting to look on the bright side and, b) We’d prefer our site not to become a deterrent for future renters for our thoughtful landlords and property managers who make every effort to create as perfect an environment as possible during our often lengthy stays.

Chere‘s preferred topic for today? Ants. Yep, ants. Those measly annoying, crawling relentless worldwide buggers…ants. They’re everywhere, especially here in Bali. (We’ve included no photos of ants today. Everyone knows what they look like).

Some type of cocoon we spotted in the ceiling of the cabana. 

Perhaps you aren’t interested in hearing about ants. We had enough ants in Fiji to last a lifetime when on the first night of our arrival, zillions were living in the mattress and bedding.  Yikes! What a night that was!  Read here for details. There have been no ants in the bed in Bali, just everywhere else.

Its not as if we didn’t write about ants earlier.  However, we’ve been avoiding too much discussion on ants since our arrival in Bali, feeling as if our loyal readers may have had their “fill” during our four months in Fiji.

OK, Chere. Here’s our Bali ant story and then we’re done with ants until the next ant-infested society in which we’ll live. For easy reading of Bali ant experiences, I’m listing a few here in bullet points for your perusal, or not, whichever you prefer.  Here goes:

  • Although we don’t cook, nightly I toss our coleslaw salad with dressing I’ve made. When tossing the salad using the cut-up veggies the two Ketuts have prepared, I have to hurry to avoid ants crawling into the bowl. They don’t like cabbage and carrots but they love dressing. While I’m tossing the salad hundreds of ants are running all over the granite countertops. They crawl up my arms.   don’t scream.
  • When showering in the very clean en suite master bath, there are hundreds of ants running up and down the shower walls. Tom can’t see them when he’s showering while not wearing his glasses. I can and I do.   don’t scream.
  • Last night, when I opened my contact lens case there was a red ant inside. I didn’t scream although a little moan escaped my lips. I must have left the lid slightly ajar during the day. That won’t happen again.
  • On numerous occasions, while lounging in the chaises by the pool, it’s not uncommon for either of us to jump up and start brushing hundreds of ants off our legs. They crawl up the legs of the chaises and for some reason love nibbling on dead skin on our legs. Yuck. We don’t scream.
  • Ants on our keyboards and monitors which we clean daily.  They still come to call.
  • Ants crawling up the side of our plates while we’re eating (lots of flies too). Ants on our food. Flies on our food. If there’s more than one ant in on my food, I don’t eat that bite. We no longer comment during these incidences.
  • Red ants crawling around the cabana and the cushions.  Each day, we ask Ribud to spray the area but, by the time we use it in the afternoon after time in the pool, they’re back. 
  • Ribud cleans the pool six days a week. It’s impeccable. By the time we go swimming each day, there are lots of ants gathered along the edges and in the corners. We rescue the drowning grasshoppers but not the ants.

You get the drift, right?  Chere, here’s your ant story. Oh, there’s probably more we can tell but I need to get the disgusting scowl off my face and get back to staring at today’s high surf, blue sky, warm weather, pristine infinity pool, and the cool guy at my side, who for the moment is enjoying an ant-free zone.

We save several grasshoppers from drowning in the pool each day.

May your day not include ants and other such annoyances!

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

As we settled into our new home in Trinity Beach, Australia, we were thrilled to see the pool.  For more photos of our first home in Australia, please click here.

The value of creature comforts…

A resort in the area is in the process of renovation. This cute pool feature would certainly be fun for kids.

We often don’t realize how much some of the most basic amenities in a property can make life easier.  Let’s face it, we came from a life entrenched in creature comforts that when the least uncomfortable or annoying scenarios presented themselves there was usually a remedy that could it turn around.

Too hot? Turn on the AC. Bed uncomfortable? Buy a new bed or a foam mattress topper. Have a painful elbow?  Head to the doctor for an MRI, a diagnosis including a physical therapy plan along with a prescription for the pain. Bugs running across the floor? Call Terminex or Orkin for a full house treatment.

I could go on and on with the availability of solutions in our old lives, most of which we no longer have in the midst of this life. Bed uncomfortable? Suck it up. Bugs biting? Wear DEET. Bath towel scratchy after hanging outside? Use the towel to exfoliate the skin when drying off. No mushrooms at the market? Cook something else.

The specials menu at a local restaurant, the Water’s Edge. We’ll certainly visit this spot with many options that may work for me.

There’s always a workaround. Here in this well-equipped house, at 3:30 am I got up to go the bathroom to find an enormous cockroach running across the floor. Kill it? Nah, no shoes handy. Do my thing and head back to bed.

This morning while getting into the shower, an enormous gecko or lizard type creature ran up the wall.  Scream? No. Get into the shower and start my day.

Yesterday, midday, we had no water, not at any faucets throughout the house. Using the provided house phone I called Richard at the rental office. Moments later he called back to let us know the water was out all over the area and would eventually come back on. Did I  press him for “when?” No. We wait patiently. If we needed to flush the toilet we’d use a bucket of water from the pool. 

Most likely, with Tom’s recent buzz cut in Savusavu, he won’t need to visit this barbershop in Arts Village before we leave for the cruise.

An hour later the water was flowing once again, apparently a common occurrence in these parts, something to do with water pressure to the area. So far, there’s been no power outages but we expect it to occur during our remaining 25 days in Pacific Harbour.

No grocery store within an hour’s drive that has the basic ingredients we need? Pay the taxi fare of FJD $120, USD $56 to get to Suva to a market or make do with what we have on hand, which we’ll have done during the first third of our time in Pacific Harbour.

When the driver for the airport pickup took us to a market other than we’d  requested, we asked if this market had a lot of products. He insisted we’d find everything. Unable to find half the basic items on our list, we have to return to Suva once again. 

The interior of a shop with many locally made shirts, dresses and jewelry.

Did we complain? Nah, what’s the point? We were exhausted and didn’t make a enough of a fuss about going to the market Susan had recommended hoping this other market would have what we needed. It didn’t.  Next week, we’ll be more insistent on going to the correct market. Sometimes, we falter in our persistence and diligence.

In our old lives, if we stopped at a market that didn’t have what we needed, we hopped back in the car to drive to another market only a few minutes away.

This custom made deep bench is offered for sale for FJD $3,000, USD $1,396.

These past mornings, Tom’s been using an old French press for making our coffee. There are two in the house.  Neither works well when both are old and worn, yet he’s figured out how to make it work to the best of his ability. Our coffee is outstanding with few grounds remaining at the bottom of the cup.

Yesterday, we purchased this coffee filter online that will make perfect drip type coffee without an electric coffee machine. At US $16, FJD $34, it will serve us well. Thanks to sister Julie for her suggestions on using such a filter for making coffee that is easily portable.

Yesterday, we spent time by the pool. The plastic molded chaise lounges (in excellent condition) are meant to be topped with a cushy pad. Not the case here. We tossed a beach towel atop it, making ourselves as comfortable as possible. 

In our old lives, we’d have driven to the patio store to purchase thick pads for the two chairs, never feeling uncomfortable again by the pool. In most vacation homes, typically these pads aren’t included when many renters would fail to bring them indoors after use.

The Arts Village has a beautiful pond weaving in and out of the area.

With no baking pans, roasting pans or cookie sheets, we purchased flimsy throw away tinfoil pans that cause everything to stick. No parchment paper here. The flimsy tinfoil sticks. Heavily greasing the pans with ghee and coconut oil is the only solution. 

Yesterday, I baked our favorite low carb coconut cookies in two batches using one of the smallish tinfoil pans. We noticed the cookies were a greasy when we each ate two last night after dinner. We didn’t complain. We’ll figure it out.

With only a few adapters and two power strips in our possession, plugging in all of our digital equipment is tricky. Each time I use the flat iron, we have to unplug everything in one adapter so I can use it in the bathroom. We’ve had to do this everywhere we’ve traveled except in the US with 110V, as opposed to 220V in most other countries.

The natural habitat provides an environment for many species of birds. 

The kitchen has a double sink, a luxury, particularly for Tom who does the dishes after dinner. There’s even a dish rack for drying. We’re thrilled with these amenities.

With excellent wifi, a 32″ flat screen TV with Nat Geo Wild  or BBC news running in the background, our entertainment needs are met while we continue to watch our favorite shows on my laptop most nights after dinner. Next week, we’ll be sightseeing. Saturday night, we’re heading out for dinner.

Seeing these pink flower lily pads was a first. 

Lounging poolside on a sunny day reminded us of how fortunate we are. Swimming in the cool water in the pool, recently cleaned with only one hornet struggling to survive (we didn’t help since we’re both allergic), we both languished in the water. We hadn’t been in a pool since Kauai many moons ago after joining the local golf course for the fitness center and the pool. 

Are we content? Uncomfortable? Not at all. The bed is fabulous, the house is roomy and in meticulous condition.  The ants, gecko and cockroaches are all a part of life in the tropics. 

Sayings on the wall outside a restaurant in Arts Village.

Through the past 38 months since leaving our old lives behind workarounds have been a vital aspect of our lives. In many cases, we’ve simply forfeited the need or desire for certain comforts and amenities, never taking anything for granted or never making an assumption that the next house will be as good as or better than the last. 

In part, the anticipation of each new home adds to our adventures. As long as we continue to savor the positive, we can easily leave the less desirable in our wake. I won’t say its always easy but so far, we haven’t once said or even thought to ourselves, “Let’s pack it in.”

Instead, we say, “Let’s pack it up…to head to the next location.”

Photo from one year ago today, December 10, 2014:

Family day at Akaka Falls on the Big Island with Jayden, Sarah Nik and TJ.  For more details, please click here.

Extermination day…Much to prepare…A year ago…A rare endangered species…

Late yesterday afternoon, Tom spotted this partial rainbow, taking this great shot.  

In our old lives, the only time we’d call an exterminator would be in an extreme case of an infestation by any insects or creatures that we could not rid ourselves of after trying every natural method possible. 

The last time I got rid of a creature in our old lives I used a safety trap with cheese. In a short time, I had it trapped and let it go outside.

Living in OPH (other people’s homes) we don’t have the opportunity to decide on the maintenance they choose for their property. Other than a few biting flies and mosquitoes, we haven’t seen many insects since arriving at this Maui property two weeks ago. 

About a year before we left Minnesota, I spotted this Chipmunk on the bottom step in our house. I ran upstairs to the attic, getting the safety trap which I’d set with a chunk of cheddar cheese on the floor near the steps.

I imagine that on a regular basis, a part of the association dues paid by the owners every month is allocated to pest control. Most likely, the work is done every few months or so. 

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be exposed to such chemicals that we’re so adamantly opposed, except in urgent situations as was the case in Kenya where bugs were crawling all over the walls. It was this experience that broke us in part to an aversion to insects. As long as they wouldn’t bite or crawl all over us we could live with it.

It’s the biting insects that are hard to take when I’m an awaiting meal for any voracious biting insect who invariably thumb their noses at Tom when they see me.

An hour later the adorable chipmunk was chomping on the cheese. I brought the case outside, opened the door, and her/him out tossing the remaining cheese in her direction.

Today, an exterminator is coming to do this entire condo complex. With no room in the cabinets for any non-perishable foods, of which we purchased in bulk in preparation for Hurricane Ana, this morning we moved all the food to the bedroom, placing it on the bed and covering it with beach towels. 

Also, we cleaned off the countertops in the bathroom of all of our toiletries stuffing everything into the limited space cabinets and drawers. We removed the extra rolls of toilet paper and the tissues, fearful of the toxic stuff ending up in the most delicate of places.

We have no say in this or any other type of scheduled maintenance while we’re living in someone else’s property. Luckily, the owners of the homes we’ve rented these past two years (tomorrow’s our two year anniversary of leaving Minnesota).

I can’t recall the last time we put onions on the bed.  We covered them after taking this photo.

The kindly owner of this condo called and asked how we’d feel about the property being shown for sale while we’re living here. We, in turn, kindly asked that they wait until we leave. 

The house in Morocco was for sale during our stay. There were three showings while we were home, feeling we should be there to keep an eye on our stuff. We felt very uncomfortable with strangers coming into the house.  Having been in real estate for many years I know the risks associated with the possibility of perpetrators “scoping out” a home for digital equipment and other valuables.

Even the bottle water needed to be hidden from the exterminator’s toxins.

I also know that real estate people have no knowledge if a potential buyer is in fact a criminal. Background checks aren’t provided on prospective buyers. Anyone can get an appointment to see a house.  

After the experience in Morocco, we decided that we won’t rent a house that is actively for sale unless the owner agrees that no showings will occur during our occupancy.

Yea, that’s Spam. It’s low carb and gluten-free. Tom’s been eating a little each day as a snack. No thanks!

The bottom line, these aren’t our homes. Unless specified during the time of a rental agreement, we have no control over maintenance, and other owner arranged visits to the property.

I’m certain that if we’d asked the owner of this condo to keep the exterminator away, they would have complied. But, with the precautions we’ve taken today, we’re at ease, certain that we’ll be fine as will the items we’ve put out of harm’s way.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2013:

When we were on “vacation” for three days, one year ago today, we spotted the elusive and endangered Colobus Monkey. No words can express how overjoyed I was to have this one pose for me. We’d seen a few dash through the yard in Diani Beach, Kenya but hadn’t been able to get a photo until this one. For more photos of these monkeys and more, please click here.

Today, we’re heading out to explore…

The sun reflecting on the beach in the late afternoon. At the top of the hill, there are numerous windmills, a common sight in Hawaii.

We’ve been anxious to get out and about to check out Maui. Soon, we’ll be on the road heading toward the popular Lahaina and Whaler’s Village, places I’d visited over 26 years ago and have been excited to see once again.

We’ve been sitting in these chaise lounges with our backs to the pool enabling us to watch the beach during the daily 40-minutes we spend in the sun.

Most assuredly, this location is popular with tourists and will be crowded. Going earlier in the day will be to our advantage when later in the day on Friday, the weekend crowds will be daunting.

Tom’s head is shown in the bottom right of this photo.

Late yesterday afternoon, we walked along the shoreline at high tide taking these few photos and looking for Sea Turtles we’ve yet to spot. We’ll never tire of the view, the surf, and the sandy beaches.

These chairs set up outside the gated pool area were all occupied today. We prefer to stay in the pool area for easy access to a quick dunk in the pool to cool off.

We returned to the condo on time to watch the 5 pm Hawaii news with not so good news updates on the lava flow on the Big Island. We’ll keep updating as more information becomes available. 

The ocean looked less murky than a few days ago after Hurricane Ana breezed through the area. It was explained on the news that murky waters bring more sharks to the beach.

As of yesterday, the flow increased substantially, widening, and is moving at a considerably increased speed.  We continue to wait with bated breath as to what will transpire in the next few weeks and if this will have an impact on our holiday rental homes.

This is a path we used to walk further down Maalaea Beach but it ended and we had to turn around. Next time, we’ll follow the road to check out the beach beyond the cut-off point.

Gee…Hawaii is an exciting place. Between the lava flow, the shark attacks, and recent Hurricane Ana, we’ve been glued to the news.

Many of the condo complexes have steps such as these leading the sea with warning signs reminding bathers that the steps are slippery.

As our cough continues to improve a little each day, we find ourselves anxious for a full night’s sleep and the refreshed feeling that comes with good consistent sleep. It’s either Tom coughing and awakening me or vise versa. I suspect we haven’t had more than five hours of sleep in a single night since four nights before we left Waikiki when this virus began.

The perfect lawns along the beach look like carpet, perfectly trimmed and maintained. Although we prefer more “wild” natural areas, we’re definitely finding this location pleasing at this point.

It will feel good to get out and about especially when we’re confident that we are no longer contagious and at this point, only cough at night.

More flowers blooming near the beach.

We’re enjoying our home-cooked meals having little interest in dining out. All the tourist-packed restaurants in Lahaina will be jammed with little chance of getting an appropriate meal befitting my food restrictions or even getting a table.

Beautiful flowers are blooming in some areas.

Also, Tom has joined me in this diet and hasn’t had a morsel of anything not included in our way of eating.  We’re better off continuing to cook as we have since arriving in Maui eight days ago.

The foamy surf at high tide.

Although we’ve hardly been out, we’re loving Maui, fully understanding why so many people long to live in Hawaii, particularly in Maui, the most revered of the islands by travelers.

High tide at the base of the rocks on the shoreline.

We’ll be back tomorrow, looking forward to sharing many new photos of our day of exploration on this exquisite tropical island in paradise.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2013:

My nemesis while living in Kenya, the dreaded poisonous centipede. When stepping on them to kill them in our house, the sound of the crunching of their crustacean shell nauseated us both. Luckily, we were never bitten but we’d heard that a bite usually requires a trip to an emergency room.  For details from this date’s post, please click here.

Are we back in Belize or Kenya?…What’s going on?…

In between parts of the souk, there are outdoor areas where many locals may be offering their wares. We’ve seen boxes of products arriving from Bangladesh and China. Shopping tourists often assume that all of the offered products are made locally. Some are, but not all.

When we arrived in Belize over a year ago, our first week spent in the little cottage on the beach, (until we moved out a week later), I suffered from over 100 bites from what is referred to as “no-see-ums” commonly known as sandflies. 

Once we moved to the fabulous LaruBeya we’d only have to go indoors at dusk to avoid being bitten and wear repellent when outside at night. Later, in Italy, with no screens on the windows or AC, the flies dined on me day and night, eventually requiring me to wear the BugsAway clothing, leaving me hot as I was overly dressed in the heat of summer.

Shop owners and workers often play with their smartphones as they await the next customer.

In Kenya, it was mosquitoes, making it necessary for me to wear insect repellent 24 hours a day. In South Africa, it was mosquitoes, referred to as “mozzies,” again requiring me to wear repellent at all times that buzzed around my head but not nearly as bad as they had in Kenya.

When we arrived in Morocco two months ago, it was cool, mostly in the 60Fs during the day, cooler at night.  Without a bug in sight, I thought that for a while I was home free with no biting insects. I was kidding myself.

As spring arrived this past month, almost on queue with the weather warming more and more each day, I awoke 10 days ago with no less than 25 bites on my right arm and hand.

This appears to be an abandoned construction site.

I sleep on my left side with my right arm draped over an extra pillow placed perpendicular to my body. This pillow provides relief for my bad right shoulder. As a result, my right arm is outside the covers most of the night. I didn’t see a single insect fly by the screen of my phone as I’d read a book each night. What was biting me?

Itching like crazy with neither repellent nor itch relief on hand from when we’d lightened our load, I searched online for the source of my dismay…the lowly sandfly, aka “no-see-ums” commonly called the phlebotomine sandflies. Nasty little invisible buggers!

These are no simple bites. These are vicious bites leaving raised hot, red, swollen nodules that itch beyond belief, eventually to ooze if rubbed or scratched even in the slightest. Oh, good grief. Here we go again as I wondered, why me and not Tom?

Hundreds of years of wear and tear is evident in certain areas.

In finding this article from the Smithsonian Institute, the answer is clear. I am a Type-0 blood type, twice as likely as Tom’s Type-A. Plus, I must have a genetic factor. My two sisters suffer from the same tendency to be bitten.

After reading through the above article I feel confident the answer to the dilemma lies therein explaining my propensity to being bit in general, let alone attracting biters away from Tom. He often explains that when I leave the room, they flock around him in my absence until I return.

Unable to find repellent at the pharmacy we tried in the Medina, I’ve resorted to being totally covered in clothing around the clock. Sandflies, invisible to the eye are too small to bite through clothing or blankets. As a result, I’ve been wearing one of Tom’s white long-sleeved BugsAway shirts to bed at night with my arms well covered and during the day wearing my own BugsAway shirt, jeans, and socks.

This shop sells attractive tiles sinks and basins.

Now, completely covered they’ve resorted to biting my hands during the day and again during the night. A few days ago Adil brought a plug-in device for the bedroom that continually emits a repellent. We keep the drapes covering the doorway to the bedroom closed at all times, as I’ve instructed Madame and Oumaima to do the same each day after cleaning our bedroom.

These combined measures appear to have improved the situation. But, I’m still getting bites on my hands and fingers. Nothing is more itchy and annoying than bites on one’s knuckles or between the fingers. As I sit here in the salon at this moment, I can’t see them but they surely hover around me avoiding my bug repellent shirt instead, feasting on my hands. I no longer scratch after reading that scratching exacerbates the length of time the bites remain “active.” I knew this. I needed to be reminded.

After 10 days, the original bites continue to itch and the newer ones are revving up for days to come. In reading information about these nasty critters, the itching may last for weeks or months.

Off the beaten path, second-hand items are offered for sale on the ground as the local seller hunches on the ground, hoping for a sale.

Today, if necessary we’ll stop at every pharmacy in the Medina to find repellent and anti-itch cream. If we find the repellent I’ll wear it around the clock, reloading it on my hands each time I wash. Perhaps, if the repellent works well I’ll be able to stop wearing hot, bulky clothing as the weather is now into the scorching 90F degrees (32.3C) almost every day.

In the realm of things…no big deal!  But, for those prone to being bit, one must be prepared when traveling. How did we end up unprepared? When packing to leave South Africa, my tube of Cortisone cream was almost empty and expired so I tossed it, thinking I could easily buy another. When I used the last drop of repellent on the last day, again, I thought replacing it would be no issue.

Also, after reading about insects in Marrakech nothing was mentioned about these pesky critters. Once we arrived, not seeing a fly or bee anyway in the riad with the center courtyard open to the sky, I thought there would be no issue. Little did I know.

A few nights ago, my entire right arm was hot and swollen from all the bites. Using antibiotic ointment, I dabbed at each of the bites before putting on Tom’s shirt for bed.  In the morning it was better. These types of bites may become infected making it important to stay mindful as to their condition. Initially scratching them, even gently over my clothing, proved to result in further damage.

Caught up in the discomfort of itching results in losing valuable time better spent enjoying our surroundings and time together. I’ve learned my lesson to always have anti-itch cream and repellent on hand wherever we may go.

Is it any wonder that there would be sandflies in the desert…duh…the sand? Good thing I didn’t ride a camel on the desert sands as originally planned! Our change of plans turned out better than we’d expected!


Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2013. With no photos taken that particular day, below is a photo from the prior day:

A tourist boat made to look like an old pirate ship passed by our ship, the Norwegian Epic as we watched from our balcony. For details of the story posted on April 30, 2013, please click here.

A tough night…A rainy day…It’s not always easy…Spider bites!…

Tom, comfortably situated in the usual position reviewing his Ancestry.com files, a daily occurrence. Later in the day, he checks the stock market when it opens here at 4:30 pm.

On Tuesday night when I crawled into bed, a spider jumped into the air, landing on the back of my calf close to my ankle, biting me. Immediately, I washed the area and placed a plastic bag with ice on the spot.

The chicken wire fence is necessary to keep the Monkeys out of the house. If they enter, they are horribly destructive and poop everywhere, a veritable fiasco.

Although it stung like crazy, it didn’t seem to swell more than a mosquito bite so I didn’t give it much thought and went to sleep. Upon awakening, it was simply an annoying itch with a bit of a stinging sensation. More ice and I’d be done with it.

Tom’s view of the bush today in the rain from the upper-level veranda at the African Reunion House.

Last night when I went to bed, the itching and discomfort increased but still no major swelling. Tired, I went to sleep. Around 1:30 am I awoke to crazy itching in my left elbow and I mean crazy. I could have bit my arm off.  Jumping out of bed I looked for and found a first aid kit. But nothing inside the kit could alleviate that degree of itching. 

Louise and Danie brought us a power reel when we’d mentioned that we’d moved upstairs away from the rain to work on our laptops. As we’ve traveled, Tom has figured out the use of our various adapters, converters, and power strips, handling all the recharging duties each day.

Of course, at the same time, the back-of-the-ankle spider bite was also itching. like crazy. Apparently, in my sleep, another such or similar spider bit me on my elbow. It was definitely not a mosquito bite due to the pain and itching. Was I worried? Not at all. I just wanted to sleep.

The last of the four bedrooms we’ve shown at the African Reunion House. This particular room left us in a quandary as to what bedroom to chose when we moved in on Sunday.  We chose the bedroom shown previously, with its convenience on the main floor. Isn’t that what most seniors would do?

I took a bag of ice to bed, moving it back and forth between the two bites. After a few minutes of icing, it dawned on me to slug down a Tylenol PM which contains Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that diminishes itching and causes drowsiness. Forty minutes later I was in a fitful state of sleep, dreaming of itching. Both bites are better today.

The bedroom, as in the case of the other three, is beautifully decorated with the finest furnishings and amenities. Note the double sinks and corner soaking tub.

We’re living in the bush. I accept this, reminding myself the entire time I was fussing. But no one no matter how long they’ve lived here is exempt from occasional annoyances such as this. In some cases, a sting or a bite is more severe and requires medical care. I’m grateful that was not the case for me.

These two lounging chairs provide a private seating area for guests sharing the house with others.

This morning, we’re situated on the second-floor veranda at the African Reunion House. It’s raining too hard to sit on the first-floor veranda with all of our power cords. Up here, it’s comfortable and dry. 

We’ve yet to use this upper-level living room. We’ve discovered that living rooms in general are not important to most African homeowners when they build a house. They prefer to spend most of their free time outdoors experiencing nature, rather than indoors watching TV or playing video games.

They’ll be no visitors today. They too, prefer to be sheltered from the rain. This is the one place we’ve visited in the world thus far that we welcome the rain which is vital to growing more abundant vegetation for the animals. Also, the clouds and rain create a welcomed coolness compared to the usual sunny and humid heat typical in Africa’s summer months. 

A renowned local artist painted this picture for Louise and Danie, specifically for this house.

All that I say here is moot, based on my aching heart, knowing that in 15 days we’ll be leaving. No, I won’t miss the snakes and poisonous insects. But, they are such a small part of life in Marloth Park. 

This was the second piece of art painted by the renowned local artist.
As we written over the past two and a half months, life here feels comparable to having an “E” ticket to Disneyland (for those of us who remember). The options for thrills and excitement are endless. One only needs to glance around to find an interesting “attraction” to fill the heart with joy, curiosity, and wonder.
This handcrafted art piece is more beautiful in person, in its many details.

Hunkered down for the day, we are hopeful that tomorrow will be dry by late afternoon for our upcoming final game drive and bush braai in Kruger National Park neither of which are fruitful in the pouring rain.

The male version of the above artwork, equally appealing to the eye.

May your day be filled with joy, curiosity, and wonder as you embrace your surroundings, however cold, hot, snowy, or rainy as we attempt to do the same in ours.

“Small Things,” all new…A world of miniature vegetation and willife…All creatures today…Small things in life…

How perfect can nature be to create this symmetrical creature we captured on the sliding glass door at night?

It’s the small things in life that may be among our most dreaded experiences; an unkind word, a lump found on our body, an email with bad news, a wasp sting, a lost piece of jewelry or at times or hearing the simple word “no.”

Impossible to shield ourselves from these seemingly “small” scenarios, most of us live with the intent of accepting these possibilities, not allowing them to immobilize us, keeping us from the joy of living. 

And yes, the “big things” loom heavily in our hearts at times in our lives; a life threatening illness or injury, the loss of a loved one, a divorce or separation, the loss of a job or financial stability and more.

A butterfly catches my eye on the long walk down the driveway.

A recent first sighting of a baby tree frog. Could this be a result of an earlier foam nest over the pool? He’s sitting at the end of the hose that we use each day to add more water to the pool which has a leak.

The second showing of this photo for those who may have missed it, when we had dozens of grasshoppers hanging out in our driveway for almost a day.  They were munching on a piece of cabbage we’d left out.

It’s amazing that any of us can function at all with these possibilities facing us at any given moment. But, we do. Some of us with aplomb and a passion for living with nary a care in the world and others with a chronic sense of doom, stripping their lives of meaning and fulfillment.

Then, there’s the rest of us in the middle, gauging when worry and fear are necessary to inspire us to be cautious or occasionally being fearful when a situation is thrown in our faces.

For most of us at times “small things” monopolize our thoughts, more than the possibility of big catastrophes.  Awakening in the middle of the night for no reason at all, my mind wanders to a list I keep in my head of possible small worrisome things, ticking them off one by one.

This centipede has small insects living on it. Double the freakiness.
We discovered this colorful insect in the grass when we toured the Panorama Route a few weeks ago.
We found this bug in the house. We opened a window, sending her on her way.

“Is there a snake on the floor if I get up to go to the bathroom? Will the lightning hit the thatched roof while we fumble for the keys, left on the nightstand next to Tom in order to unlock the gates on every window and door to allow us to get outside? Did I forget to close the drain in the bathroom sink to prevent centipedes from coming in? When will I feel like doing the taxes for 2013?”

It goes on and on. But, somehow I fall back to sleep, awakening in the morning, full of energy, enthusiasm, and gratefulness for the opportunity to live yet another day. Bolting out of bed, I begin the familiar routine of preparing myself for the day all the while filled with a sense of lightness and anticipation. What pleasure and purpose will this new day bring?

The “one day at a time” philosophy adopted by many recovery groups easily applies to all of us, in recovery or not. In reality, we’re all “recovering” from something; a bad childhood, marriage or relationship, the death of a loved one, the loss of a dream or, the personal goals of letting go of anything that isn’t good for our bodies and souls. 

We discovered this insect on the veranda which was approximately 4 inches, 10 cm, long.

We’ve seen many varieties of geckos including this wider version. We ignore them when they’re inside the house. They leave white poop droplets everywhere.

Living one day at a time gives us peace and comfort, leaving behind our failings and mistakes from the past while embracing the possibility that tomorrow will be a better day.

Again today, we share more “small things.” Not insignificant. Not meaningless. It’s all a part of the life cycle that we share with endless generations of evolution, God (or whatever higher power you may believe or, not) and, Mother Nature.

“Small things,” whether in our environment or in our thoughts, are all a part of who we are, our purpose, and ultimately, who we choose to become at the end of the day. 

One morning, I discovered this live bat in the kitchen sink, perhaps injured. Tom scooped it up in the dustpan and let it outside. Bats no longer make me cringe. They eat mosquitoes.

“Small Things,” all new, a world of miniature vegetation and wildlife…More small creatures tomorrow…

It’s hard to believe that this is actually a flower on the Sickle Bush which we found in our garden a month ago. No longer do we see them “blooming” but we were grateful to have seen these two flowers.
Today, we’ll first share the “Small Things” in the vegetation category including some “Small Things” wildlife photos as you scroll down. Tomorrow, we’ll continue the most exciting of the all-new “Small Things,” wildlife photos. Please check back.
At first, I didn’t think these flowers on the Sickle Bush were real!

Since our first “Small Things” post on December 13, 2013, we’ve continued to search for wildlife and vegetation of the minuscule variety. With much excitement, we share these with you today, some beautiful, others frightening, and some merely curious.

After searching through no less than 1000 photos I could not find the name of this flower. If you look closely it appears to have a face toward the upper center. If anyone is aware of the name of this flower, please write.

There’s a miniature world that the human eye cannot see. If only we had access to the necessary equipment to explore that world freely. Perhaps, in time, technology will provide us with affordable digital equipment for the average user to see the smallest forms of life.

From research online, I believe this is a variety of the Aloe plant.
All of the photos we’ve posted here today were taken in our garden. Had I been brave enough to venture further into the dense bush without a trail, I’m certain I’d have found many more “Small Things” of interest. These were found in a short distance into the bush.
 Although I looked at hundreds of blue wildflowers growing in South Africa, here again, I wasn’t able to find the name of this wildflower.
As I take this walk often several times a day, my first consideration is to keep a watchful eye for snakes that may slither across the road. Once I feel assured that there are no snakes in the immediate area, I am able to stop to head into the tall grass to take photos.
These lilac puffs are gone now as of a month ago when summer arrived.  Now, that the heat of summer is here there are few flowers.
These past days, we had a considerable amount of much needed rain. This morning as we sit on the veranda, the sun peeked out shooting up the temperature in a dense layer of humidity.
 The simplest wild daisy stands out in the bush.

The heat from the single mug of coffee I have each morning, makes me feel all the hotter. But, at the moment we’re inclined to stay outside. Our current visitors consist of a mom and three fast-growing baby warthogs, a flock of 12 Helmeted Guinea-Fowl, another mom and four baby warthogs, all regulars. They co-exist rather well, as we often giggle over their innocuous interactions.

 This small aloe plant intrigued us with it’s “eye” in the center.

In the pouring rain on Sunday, the Helmeted Guinea-Fowl stopped by much to our surprise. Most of the wildlife stay undercover during severe weather. Their dripping wet blue faces and matted feathers elicited a sad moan from me. 

 Ms. Turtle scooting across the edge of the driveway. We’ve spotted her in the same general area of the garden on several occasions.

We humans are fortunate that we have the brain size to have overcome a life of living in the bush like animals. How we’ve evolved! Sadly, in the process of our evolution we’ve managed to reduce the available habitat for wildlife to continue to thrive. I could easily get out my soapbox on that topic but for today, I’ll remain quiet.

 Yikes!  What in the world is this?  We saw it while on the upstairs veranda on a nearby tree.
Watching it for several days without change, one day it was gone. Notice the tufts of hair growing
along some of the edges.

Today is an unusual day. At noon, Okee Dokee will pick me up for the almost half-hour drive to Komatipoort to purchase more data and a few odds and ends at the grocery store. This will be the longest time Tom and I have been apart since we left Minnesota almost fifteen months ago.

Gee…what will he do while I’m away?