In awe of all of the love and birthday wishes…

Here we were with Doc Theo, who saved my life, and his lovely wife, Myrtah. We were so happy they came to my party along with the other two doctors in the practice, Doc Mel and Doc Philip, and their lovely wives.

Today’s photos (except the post from ten years ago) were from last year’s birthday party held on February 25, posted on the 26. More photos will be posted tomorrow.

What a day it has been so far, and it’s only close to noon! Family, friends, and readers have been flooding my inbox and on Facebook with heartwarming messages that mean the world to me! How did I get so lucky? Based on the number of wishes I receive, I doubt I will have time to walk today.

It’s okay to take a day off while responding to all of the warm wishes that surely will keep me busy. Exercise for the heart, in another way.

Delicious welcome drinks, including Bloody Marys, topped with a slice of crispy bacon and non-alcoholic vegetable juice. We caught a kudu eating off the wooden board.

Tom is off getting a haircut, and soon, I’ll head to the kitchen to make my favorite keto pancake, which I will thoroughly enjoy with sugar-free syrup. Then tonight, as mentioned, we’ll be off to dinner at Luna Rossa, which we’ve come to love, especially with it’s inviting ambiance and overall excellent food. Sure, there was one miss on one meal last week, but we are loyal fans and will continue to enjoy it during our remaining five-plus weeks in Lake Las Vegas.

Many people say they prefer to ignore their birthdays as they’ve gotten older, but I have always been a die-hard fan of celebrating mine and the people that I love on their special day. Just because one is older, it doesn’t mean that a birthday is less significant. One should celebrate each year of one’s life when they are young, for the growth and joys the new year can bring, and when old, for the opportunity to live yet another year, cherishing every morsel life has to offer.

A beautiful gin and vodka bar was set up in the dining room, where everyone could make their welcome drinks.

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself reveling in gratefulness for every gift bestowed upon me. These past years, physical gifts have not been a part of my birthdays, but the words and kindness of others have been cherished more than any gift-wrapped package.

Last year, when we had my 75th birthday in the bush, catered by Louise and Danie, and celebrated at their beautiful holiday home, Khaya Umdani, I was very specific that no one brings me gifts. A few couldn’t resist the temptation, and of course, I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

In the back row from left to right, Lorne and Sydney. and Tom. Sinndee, Leon, and Dawn are in the front row from left to right.

But the presence of those 25 guests celebrating the milestone year with me meant everything. And, although today will be a quiet day and evening, I feel equally blessed for the memories that fill my head, with more to come, celebrating tomorrow at an extraordinary event, details of which we’ll share in Thursday’s post.

Yesterday, I promised to re-post some of the photos from last year’s party, which some of you may have missed. or those that easily recall those photos, please excuse the redundancy.

Amid all the rain, Louise and Danie beautifully set up the house and the garden. It rained briefly but never caused issues with the guest’s enjoyment at the party.

Memories are the gifts that life bestows upon us to reflect upon as time passes that fill us with warm feelings of joy and gratefulness. My heart breaks for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease who are unable to recall events of their lives. All they have to reflect upon is the moment, however short and fleeting in their minds. That’s why it is so important to love, cherish, and visit those seniors (or younger) who are unable to recall the past. May we all take the time to make those precious moments for every person in our lives who cannot recall the precious moments of their lives.

Thank you, everyone, and be well.

Photos from ten years ago today, February 20, 2014:

We had a get-together at our bush house for my birthday in 2014. We were all thrilled when many zebras came to call in the dark. Our friend Kathy got up close and personal with him, hand-feeding him pellets. As a hostess gift for our dinner gathering, Kathy and Linda brought us a big bag of pellets instead of the usual wine, flowers, or candy. Nothing could have been more appropriate when we were running low. How did they know we needed pellets? For more photos, please click here.

Day 11…Norway Cruise…Last night’s fantastic “White Night”…Today…Alta, Norway…

Note: I cannot add a single photo today due to the poor WiFi signal aboard the ship. Once we arrive in Nevada in early September, we can post our photos from Edinburgh and this cruise. Of course, we’ll continue to try to add photos each day! We are sorry for the inconvenience. Perhaps, when this cruise ends, we can start posting photos while on the upcoming Celebrity cruise in 7 days. We’ll continue taking photos and writing text daily, if possible.

Ah, if only I could load last night’s photos of White Night! It was spectacular, most likely the most decorative, well-planned food, drink, and music event we’ve ever attended on a cruise ship. It truly was indescribable! It was incredible!

The evening began at 6:00 pm when the most extraordinary buffet was set up on Deck 9 poolside. It was amazing how the staff rearranged the entire pool area, removing all the chaise lounges and other poolside equipment to create a festive and decorative environment in white with balloons, lights and white tablecloths, and formal place settings on each of the many tables.

The area could easily accommodate all 567 passengers with plenty of space for the fantastic band, singers, and dancers and a sizeable dance floor. As soon as we arrived, dressed in our all-white outfits, we found many sharing tables already filled with passengers. We found an empty table for six, plunked ourselves down with drinks in hand, and prepared for the exciting night ahead.

In no time at all, our table filled up with two more couples, both of whom we’d met along the way, and lively conversation and laughter ensued through the remainder of the evening while we all dined on the epicurean delights and danced to our favorite tunes.

Nothing was spared in presenting a beautiful evening. The food was over-the-top, the most varied and delicious buffet we’d ever experienced, with tons of seafood, meats, and exotic dishes from many cultures. The vegetables and fruit were aplenty, and any way of eating could easily be accommodated.

At one point, early on in the evening., I approached the many stations of the buffet, happily taking many photos we’ll share in the future when we’re able to upload photos again.

After the festive outdoor party ended, during perfect warm weather, many of us gravitated to Deck 10’s  Living Room, where the party continued with live music and again enthusiastic dancing on the dance floor.

We approached the North Cape of Norway close to midnight, where we all witnessed the extraordinary “Land of the Midnight Sun,” where we couldn’t stop smiling while taking photos of this fantastic phenomenon of the light sky at midnight. It’s hard to believe how light the sky is at midnight in this part of the world.

BY 12:30 am, we wandered back to our cabin on Deck 7, giggling over our fun night, hoping we wouldn’t have trouble falling asleep with the excitement of the evening still flooding our minds. But, an hour later, we dozed off, not awakening until 9:00 am, ready to begin another new day.

With little to see in Alta, Norway, we decided to stay on the ship and feel less rushed in completing today’s post’s text. We have almost a week until this cruise ends, and surely, we’ll continue to enjoy every moment.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 11, 2013:

There was no post on this date ten years ago.

Three days and counting…Getting things done…

Locals were walking on the steep roads during the procession last night. The woman on the far left in navy blue is our own, Santina, our precious cleaning lady.

Note: Today’s photos are from this date in 2013 while living in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. For more details, please click here.

It is so busy around here. This morning we finished your order to have the suitcase shipped to the hotel in Minnesota, waiting for us when we arrive on September 9. I contacted the hotel’s general manager that the briefcase will arrive in a few days, asking him to store it for us until we arrive. I also included a photo of the bag with the message.

As we stood on the road outside our house, the procession stopped for a few minutes for prayer. There’s Santina again in navy blue. Notice the heels on her shoes!

Then, we headed to the postal station, but three items I ordered from Amazon weren’t in the mailbox, nor was anyone at the postal station, so I could inquire if they had the packages. Now, we’ll have to return later on Wednesday or Thursday. There’s a huge rainstorm occurring right now with lots of wind, thunder, and lightning. We’re not going out in the golf cart in this weather.

Tomorrow is my much-needed pedicure appointment at 11 00 am. While I’m busy with that, Tom will fill up the tank on the golf cart at Walmart and buy a dozen eggs to get us through the remainder of the week.

This patio is where we suntan a few times a week. These impatiens attract the bees, as do most flowering plants requiring us to pay special attention during our hour in the sun, quite close to the planters.

Once back at the house, I’ll finish the post, upload it, and then return to packing. We already arranged transportation through Groome from The Villages to the Orlando International Airport, which picks up for the international flight at 5:50 pm for our 10:30 pm international flight. It’s over an hour-long drive, especially with rush hour traffic at that time of day.

We’ve gone through all our remaining food, and we need one more dinner to wipe out everything we have. Thus, after my pedicure tomorrow, we’ll stop at the Mexican restaurant in Colony Plaza and order food for tomorrow night’s dinner.

The second of the two planters. As you can see, the giant leaves belong to the zucchini. We’ll see more zucchini over the remaining summer as well as the abundant herbs we’ve been using.

For Thursday evening, we have frozen burger patties for Tom with bacon, cheese, onion, and canned tuna for me, which I’ll make into tuna salad using the remaining eggs, onions, and celery, using sour cream for the salad dressing. This will be the best we’ve ever used up our remaining food. In the past, we were happy to leave food for the household staff but with no household staff here, there was no one to leave it with.

Speaking of household staff, yesterday I got a wonderful message from one of our housemen in Marloth Park, Vusi. When we left, I had reformatted my old laptop, which worked well except for one key on the keyboard. I cleaned the exterior, screen, and keyboard so it looked brand new. Vusi was thrilled, hugging me several times, saying, “Oh, thank you, Madam.”

A zucchini that grew in the garden box on the patio.

Thus, yesterday when checking my email, there was a sweet message from Vusi that warmed my heart. He wrote:

“Morning, madam, hope everything is good there, I just wanted to say we (the animal, us) miss you, have a great day🍹🙏may God bless you

And thanks for the laptop. It’s still working good. I really appreciate 🙏Vusi.”
Immediately, I wrote back to Vusi, thanking him for his thoughtful message and how much we’re looking forward to seeing him in less than 11 months from now. We have so much to look forward to.
That’s it for today, folks. We have lots to do and look forward to being on our way soon.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 25, 2013:

Here’s a Ziplock bag half-filled with water and a few Euros to ward off house flies. See the story for the results of using these well-placed bags over the past 48 hours. (BTW, it didn’t work). For more photos, please click here.

Winding down…Two fun videos…

This video was posted at this post on this date in 2018. It was such a joy to see this again! Also, see the video below from ten years ago today, in 2013.

In speaking with friends Linda and Ken yesterday (it was Linda’s birthday), she explained they are also going to be in Marloth Park in a few months; around the same time, Rita and Gerhard will also be visiting, who will be staying in our old house  It’s too bad we won’t be there to be with our friends  If it were one year later, we’d also be there.

Instead, we’ll enjoy the photos and experiences they will share with us during their time in Marloth Park. During that period, we’ll be in South America, having experiences of our own that we’ll share here in photos and posts with them and all of our worldwide readers.

With “White Night’ upcoming on the Azamara cruise beginning on August 1, I ordered a few items, including a pair of white jeans and a white top that fit without trying them on. I ordered the jeans directly from Levi’s since I have two pairs of Levi blue jeans, figuring if I purchased the same size, the white jeans would work, and they did, much to my relief. The shirt also worked, and I am ready for that special event.

Tom is all set, too. While in the US a few years ago, when we knew we’d be going on Azamara cruises, he also purchased a pair of white jeans.

Speaking of clothes, I went through the closet yesterday to see what items I could donate to the Salvation Army. Since I take good care of my stuff, I feel comfortable donating some of my used items. Going online to the Salvation Army’s local site, I was able to schedule a pick-up for this coming Friday. I am hoping to lighten my baggage weight substantially.

No longer, in this life, do I ever get attached to clothing items since most can be replaced. Although, in many foreign countries, I can’t find anything to fit me based on my height, I am much taller than most women. Here’s a small sampling of the average heights of women in various countries from this site.

“Country Average Height for Women

The Netherlands 5 ft  5.5 in. (168.7 cm)

Barbados 5 ft  4.2 in (165.5 cm)

United States 5 ft  3 in. (161.5 cm)

China 5 ft  2.4 in. (159.8 cm)

Iran 5 ft  2.3 in. (159.7 cm)

Nigeria 5 ft  1.3 in. (156.4 cm)

Guatemala 4 ft. 8.8 in. (149 cm).”

As a result, it’s difficult for me to find pants and tops that work for my frame. Most of the items I can fit into are from stores in the US that offer tall sizes. These items can often only be purchased online when most shops don’t carry tall sizes due to lack of need. Thus, I rarely have an opportunity to try something on, so I must buy the same brands over and over again to ensure they’ll fit.

Usually, while in the US making some purchases, I have no interest in buying things to try on and potentially return. Paying extra for return postage is foolish, so I am cautious about what I buy. For Tom, it’s a lot easier, as it often is for men.

In any case, I’m thinking about packing, although I am not putting anything into suitcases yet. That process will begin next week as we prepare the suitcase we plan to send to Minnesota to avoid taking everything with us and incurring added baggage fees, far exceeding the cost of shipping the bag.

This morning was stormy again. We haven’t walked in days due to inclement weather. Once we leave, we’ll get plenty of walking in, even when walking back and forth on the ship each day and going on excursions. I am considering working out in the fitness centers on the two upcoming cruises and again in the hotels in Nevada and Minnesota. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked out in a health club, and I will do so carefully.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 17, 2013:

A video (not ours) of a motorbike ride through Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, on this date ten years ago. For the text, please click here.

A look back to ten years ago today…Wow! What a great memory!…Company’s coming again!…

The further we walked toward “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan, the carved stone became more and more detailed and interesting. The balance of these photos will be shared in tomorrow’s post. See the post here.

Note: Today’s photos are from this date in 2013 when we embarked on the long walk to see “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan. It was a long walk in the heat but well worth it, and we wanted to share the photos with all of our newer readers who may have missed the original post ten years ago.

It was a lovely Mother’s Day. Hearing from my two sons with lively conversation and quality time spent with Tom made it a special day. Then again, most days are special. At sundowner time, for the first time in a few weeks, we enjoyed an adult beverage while seated at the table on the lanai.

It was hard to believe the two-thousand-year-old craftsmanship.

It was warm outdoors, but not as warm as we’d become accustomed to in South Africa, and we chatted for quite a while until it was time to go indoors and make dinner. Having prepped most of the meal ahead of time, in no time at all, we sat down for dinner.

After dinner, we lounged in the living room to stream a few shows, and by 9:45, I was off to bed while Tom stayed up watching Shark Tank. My Fitbit informed me this morning that I’d slept nine hours. Wow! I could tell I’d slept well when we walked as soon as I was up, showered, and dressed.

The passageway became narrower and narrower the further we walked.

Tom gets up earlier than I do but often naps at 2:00 each afternoon, only sleeping for a short time, if at all. I’m not much of a napper until at night in front of the show we’re streaming, usually around 7:30. I guess I need the sleep, especially after my recent health crisis. I am feeling much better.

We haven’t been out much lately to take photos, but today, we’re sharing photos of Petra from ten years ago. Tomorrow, Karen and Rich will return to pick us up to drop them off at Orlando Airport. They’d offered us the use of their car for the two weeks they’ll be gone for Karen’s son Jack’s wedding in Minnesota. This will allow us to drive around The Villages and take photos to share here.

The raw beauty of nature and artistic skills made the walk exciting moment by moment.

We don’t have any shopping other than a quick trip to a CVS for a few toiletry items I haven’t found at Kroger’s online shopping. Today, when placing a Kroger order, they had a problem with their website, and my order wouldn’t process. I called and am awaiting a response when they resolve it. Even in the US, not everything works as smoothly as expected.

We have been busy planning menus for our upcoming company, including dinner for new guests on Wednesday and meals for friends Carol and Mark, who arrive on Saturday and stay for three nights. While Carol and Mark are here, we’ll be going out to dinner on Sunday and dining in on Saturday and Monday. Having company’s undoubtedly enjoyable, and I am pacing myself to ensure I don’t run out of steam.

Tom carried our heavy bag with water and supplies during the entire three hours of the journey.

They leave to return to their home in Boca Raton on Tuesday. It’s almost a four-hour drive depending on traffic on the freeway. We haven’t seen Carol, a retired airline pilot with Delta, since we came to the US in November 2017 to board a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will be fun to see her again and meet her boyfriend Mark, whom we’ve never met.

It’s certainly been fun seeing friends while here in The Villages. As it turns out, we have many more opportunities to spend time with old and new friends while we’re here for the next few months. It will be a fun and busy time.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 15, 2013:

Here we were yesterday, in front of the world-renowned “Treasury” in Petra, Jordan—a fantastic day for both of us. For more photos, please click here.

Busy ambitious morning…

Nina and Norman are reunited. with their baby but she/he has yet to jump the little fence. This is a bushbuck that hangs out with Nina.

This morning, after breakfast of eggs and bacon, we headed to Komatipoort for groceries, wine, toiletries, over-the-counter products, and a few birthday cards for friends. The strip mall parking lot was packed, let alone the stores. We hadn’t shopped in a few weeks and needed quite a few items.

When we arrived at the pharmacy, generally our first stop, they were closed for another 40 minutes. We decided to do the other shopping and return. When we were done grocery shopping, amid the crowds at Spar Market, I walked down the outdoor mall to the pharmacy. I could barely open the door to enter. It was unbelievable.

We try not to purchase much frozen or perishable food but based on it requiring almost one hour of round-trip driving time to go to Komatipoort; we don’t like to go any more often than we have to. We can always make short trips to the local Marloth Park shops only five minutes from here, but they don’t always have the ingredients we use.

The baby is cute, but we still can’t determine the gender of the one-month old.

Somehow I managed to find the items I needed at the pharmacy with the help of a few helpful staff members and was out the door in about 20 minutes. Back at the house in the heat and high humidity, we sweated profusely while we put everything away. It’s a good thing we have the chest freezer and the outdoor refrigerator since the kitchen fridge doesn’t have much space, nor does the upper single-door freezer, which is mainly filled with ice cube trays and large zip-lock bags of ice.

Tom loved the chocolate cookies I made for him for Christmas, and I could tell he wanted more. Last week, I made a double batch which only resulted in 21 cookies, and we gave six of them to Louise and Danie, who also loved them. So I decided to make another double batch today and see if I can end up with 24 cookies, making them a little smaller. I never ate one of the cookies or tasted the dough. But I do remember them from years back and how good they are.

All the cooking I will do today is making the salad which is done, and baking the cookies in a few hours. The dough needs to chill in the refrigerator and will be ready around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., which is late to start baking, but the oven is big enough that I can bake them all at once.

This morning, the mongooses were here as soon as I went outdoors. Tom was in the bedroom while I chopped the paloney for them while in the kitchen. Suddenly, I noticed ten of them had followed me into the house. It didn’t take much to scoot them outside since I had the plate of paloney in my hands. Funny!

It feels good to have everything put away. The only project I have to complete this week is getting a call back from the insurance company to file the claim for our missing bags and make the food we’re bringing to Flo and JJ’s New Year’s Eve party. There’s enough pizza and uncooked, defrosted chicken breasts to get us to Friday when we’ll head to Jabula for dinner. The party on Saturday night is at a yet-to-be-determined location, but I’m sure we’ll hear soon.

I’ve managed to stay on track with my diet through the holidays and haven’t gained anything back from what I’ve lost so far. As mentioned in an earlier post, I made a keto cheese pie but only had a small piece each evening after dinner, which would last a few more days. Yes, we do indulge a little here and there during the holidays, but overall, we indulge very little. Rolling into the New Year with my diet will be easy, with no weight gain from the holidays. The same goes for Tom, who hasn’t gained weight, even eating the cookies.

A bushbuck. a kudu, and a duiker were all looking for pellets.

We just moved into the bedroom for some rest and some fan time. Some afternoons, around 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs., we try to nap for 20 minutes. I am only fortunate enough to fall asleep one out of 20 times, but Tom seems to do much better, never sleeping for more than 15 or 20 minutes. This is refreshing, especially on a scorching and humid day when we can cool off a little in the bedroom with the powerful fan sweeping over us.

As for my headache and facial pain, they are mostly gone. It only seems to bother me occasionally, and I can do nothing about it when it returns. Paracetamol/Tylenol doesn’t help, so I tough it out and go about my day. I have continued using the morning and evening Salex Nasal Rinse and four doses a day of Phytomer, all purchased over the counter. This combination has seemed to be the most helpful in keeping these horrible post-Omicron sinus issues at bay, 90% of the time.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a pleasant day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2021:

On a drive in Marloth Park, we encountered this giraffe munching on a tree. For more photos, please click here.

A different lifestyle for the next seven weeks…We try it all!…

The compact living room has everything we need.

Well, folks, we’ve lived in many houses throughout the world, but this experience here in Apache Junction will be different from anywhere we’ve lived in the past.

We will be living in an RV park in a permanently affixed house trailer that has everything we need, although small. Sure, it’s small, although much bigger than a ship’s balcony cabin.

The kitchen is small but without a dishwasher and has minimal cooking supplies.
Subsequently, we will keep meals simple, using the outdoor grill for most of our meals.

Our most extended cruise was for 33-nights when we circumvented Australia, which began on Halloween, October 31, 2017. We had no problem with living in that small space, nor will we here.

Three of Tom’s sisters and spouses, Mary Ellen and Eugene, Margie and Colleen and Gene, live in this same 55+ complex of trailer homes and RVs, only a stone’s throw from our unit. It appears that most afternoons around 4:00 or 5:00 pm, we’ll all get together for happy hour drinks and snacks. 
Convenient table-for-two.

Most days, we usually dine around 6:30 or 7:00 pm, but it makes sense if we now redo our thinking about when we’ll have our big meal of the day. Most likely, we’ll start having our big meal midday and not worry about dining in the evenings.

This morning, we headed to Fry’s Market, one of the largest supermarkets we’ve seen (not counting Costco or Sam’s Club), and were surprised at its size. It had 59 rows. By the time I finished shopping, I’d put over 5000 steps on my fitness device.

We spent over $300 on groceries and managed to find ample space for all the items we purchased. The storage in this unit is excellent, with more space than we’ve had in many holiday homes in the past.

This is the most comfortable bed we’ve had in our travels. It appears to be a memory foam bed.

The time went quickly. The five-hour drive from Las Vegas to Apache Junction was uneventful. Tom has seen some improvement with his back injury and cough, and he managed the long campaign easily without asking me to drive. We chatted about our experiences in the US thus far and our plans for the future.

Tonight there will be a Christmas parade in the neighborhood. We’ll all get together to watch the parade and celebrate Mary and Eugene’s daughter Laurie’s birthday. She and her husband Craig will be arriving at 5:30 for the festivities.

The WiFi signal and flat-screen TV are good.

We’re good. Although tempered by both of us being sick with this dreadful cough, the time we spent with family was precious and meaningful. Now, over these next weeks, we’ll spend time with Tom’s sisters. He’s the youngest in the family, and it’s essential we spend this time with all of them.

We’ll make every effort to continue to take photos to share here as we continue to post during our remaining time in the USA!
Have a fantastic day, and thanks for hanging in there with us!

Photo from one year ago today, December 10, 2018:

For the first time, this lizard approached the veranda, looking at us.  He didn’t seem to like pellets, so we tried to figure out what we could feed him. For more photos, please click here.

Is running out of new photos an issue?…What do we do in the event this occurs?…A trip to the local dump proved to be interesting…

At the Marloth Park dump, we found these Marabou Storks everywhere.  If photo ops don’t come to us, we’ll go to them.

Writing every day is challenging at times, especially when we’re kicking back and relaxing. Would one have photos and stories to share in their everyday lives? Hardly.

In our old lives, weeks could go by without a single thought of taking a photo. Also, we’d never learned to take photos. Life was too busy to take on another hobby. As a result, we only used a camera on special occasions, neither of us showing a propensity toward any skill. 

For me, no skill? No interest. That’s how perfectionist-types operate. That’s why I don’t play golf. For that matter, Tom, good at most sports, hasn’t played much golf either, getting easily frustrated when he doesn’t play well enough by his own standards.

From afar, these birds look pretty. Up close, not so cute in the face. These birds are carnivorous eating other birds, carrion scraps, small rodents and have a propensity for human garbage and can digest rotten animal matter.

Now, back to posting daily and it’s challenging…

Yesterday morning, after posting, today’s post was fast approaching as being one of those days that writing this blog left me stymied. I had no new photos to post. I could run around the yard to look for small things or interesting vegetation or even, if necessary, stand in the road waiting for a photo-worthy event.

The height of a Marabou Stork is approximately 152 cm, 60 inches; weight is 9 kg, 20 pounds; the wingspan is 3.7 m, 12 feet. They have the largest wingspan of any bird. The Marloth Park dump is thoroughly cleaned out every few weeks. It is where many of the locals bring their garbage with only a small percentage having pickup service. We haven’t observed any recycling in Kenya or South Africa.

To prepare for our upcoming dinner party on Monday, Okee Dokee picked me up at 11:00 am Saturday morning to go to Komatipoort for groceries. Having created a menu and a grocery list I was ready to tackle the weekend crowds at the strip mall. 

While waiting in line at the grocery store, I mentioned to Okee Dokee that in the past 16 months since leaving Minnesota I’d yet to purchase any underwear. Add the fact that we’d unloaded so many clothing items along the way, my inventory was sparse and worn to the point of ridiculousness. I’d never gone so long without purchasing undergarments or clothing for that matter. 

The Marabou Stork will eat anything it can swallow, including shoes, clothing, and tin cans. They can become aggressive if fed by humans when they are refused food. Although not vultures, their behavior exceeds the traits of vultures whose diet consists of animal remains.

Having whipped through the grocery store quickly, she led me to a local clothing shop. I was pleasantly surprised when we entered the store. Although a small shop, there was clothing for women, men, and children of all ages. We promptly headed to the women’s underwear department where, upon approaching, I squealed with delight. They had rather modern items and styles, all reasonably priced and of decent quality. I’d have to toss the old stuff, avoiding increasing our luggage weight.

Ten minutes later, a bra and eight pairs of panties were being rung up for a grand total of US $23.16, ZAR $259. What? In the US, I would easily have spent US $75, ZAR $838.67 for this type of quality. What’s wrong with this picture?

After making the purchase we headed to the ATM area with two machines, neither of which was working, prompting us to head back to the ATM at the Marloth Park Bush Center which once again worked with ease. 

This injured zebra was near the road when we drove by. It wasn’t enclosed in a fenced area. This fence happened to be on the edge of a property. This injury could easily have been a result of a kick from another zebra. The distended belly of a zebra is common. Their intestinal tract is such that they become bloated with gas from eating massive amounts of vegetation each day. They are prolific at passing gas, as we’ve heard fro time to time. Hopefully, this injury heals on its own.

Afterward, we drove down one of the two only paved roads in the park. Okee Dokee, aware of my photo dilemma quickly made a sharp left turn into the local dump. (As yet, we hadn’t seen any wildlife). Wouldn’t you know, the dump was not only littered with garbage (which is entirely removed every few weeks), but was also littered with what I’d originally thought were beautiful Marabou Storks. 

Thus, the photos we’re showing today are the storks we found at the dump. Leave it to Okee Dokee! As we slowly meandered down the road toward African Reunion House I chuckled. I don’t recall ever taking a camera to the grocery store in my old life.

This morning at 6:30 am while contemplating getting up I heard animal sounds outside. Quietly and slowly I exited to the bedroom to look out the full wall of glass to the garden. Scattered among the bush were no less than 50 impalas, 25 Helmeted Guinea-Fowls with chicks, and one large lone male warthog.

Male impalas along the side of the main road in Marloth Park on our return drive from grocery shopping.

Quickly I awoke Tom, and together as quietly as possible, we opened the door to the veranda, camera in hand.  Alas, the impalas scattered, but the warthog and the “guinea hens,” as Tom calls them, stayed behind. 

Mr.Warthog was very shy, as we’ve noticed in the lone males. He meandered about the garden for a half-hour finally checking out the pellets, deciding to partake. The guinea hens and chicks had a blast picking away at the large pellets, easily knocking them into smaller pieces. Even they are fun to watch.

The baby warthogs are getting huge. When the mom is ready to mate again, she’ll leave the babies to fen for themselves as their own maturing life cycle begins. This particular mom has been a favorite of mine.  She has no fear of me, makes eye contact that is endearing, and is such a good mom, holding back while the babies eat the pellets first. I always make a point of tossing several in front of her and only then does she eat them. Warthogs eat on their front knees which have tough pads from the day they’re born.

As for the rest of today, this morning after posting, we’re heading to the little house to pack all of our stuff to bring it here for packing. Originally, we’d planned to do it on Tuesday, the morning after the dinner party. But, we decided to get it done and off of our minds. 

We’ll put everything in the main floor guest room, shutting the door until Tuesday when we’re ready to begin the dreadful task of sorting and packing everything we own into two large suitcases, two overnight bags, one duffel bag, and two computer bags. Everything we own. More dwindling down. Letting go of more stuff due to increased weight restrictions over prior flights.

Izmir, Turkey excursion today…Off to see Ephesus…Rioting in the area…

For news on Izmir, Turkey, please click here.

Last evening, as our ship the Norwegian Spirit, pulled away from the pier in Istanbul, Turkey.
Turkey’s interesting architecture.

At 11:30 am this morning, Turkey time,  which is eight hours later than the US Midwest, ten hours later than the West Coast, our ship will dock in Izmir.

Feeling a bit concerned about visiting Istanbul, Turkey we stayed behind yesterday planning to visit Izmir, Turkey today on a prepaid excursion, feeling an organized excursion would be safer than wandering around on our own.
We took these photos facing the sun as it set yesterday in Istanbul.
Our new friends, Nicole and Gerry had called yesterday, asking if Nicole could join Tom and I since Gerry sprained his ankle and won’t be able to go on the tour to Ephesus after all. Of course, we’d love for Nicole to join us. We planned to meet at the designated meeting area at 11:45 this morning. 
The excursion is scheduled to depart around 12:15 pm, returning to the ship at 5:30 pm. 
A haze obstructed the view as the sun was setting, a combination of heat and pollution, a result of the big city along the sea.

Last night, after attending yet another Latitudes members cocktail party in the Galaxy of the Stars venue at 7:00 pm, later dining in Windows Dining Room, another wonderful evening was behind us. Dining alone for a change we chattered on about our experiences thus far and our dreams for the future, albeit some of which is uncertain which much to our surprise, is fine with us.

The spires of the many mosques dotted the skyline in Istanbul.
Returning to our cabin around 10:00 pm, typical for us since we awaken quite early, we found these two items on the bed:
This adorable frog was sitting on our bed last night when we returned from dinner, made from one of our beach towels and a few washcloths!
This letter was on our bed last night when we returned from dinner.

Feeling committed to our non-refundable tickets and our plan to meet up with Nicole for the excursion, we decided to forge ahead. When in the future with so much “world” left to see when would we ever return to Turkey?

Most likely we’ll be safe. Wouldn’t it be great if our Uzi welding, security guard, Mohammad from Egypt, was riding on our bus and following us around! 
Ironically, there I was writing yesterday, providing all the reasons to avoid risk and here we are today, walking right into it.  So off we go today, camera in hand, ready to shoot what we hope will be better photos of our expedition as we explore the ancient city of Ephesus.

It’s a one hour drive each way to Ephesus, where we’ll spend approximately three hours.  I’m hoping it’s as exciting as Petra minus the difficult three-hour walk uphill half of the way.  In any case, if we prove to be safe, I’ll crawl through mud to return without incident (and take photos of that as well).

We’ll be back tomorrow with our story, hopefully safe and sound and grateful for yet another enriching experience as we continue on in our worldwide adventures.

Ancient buildings at every juncture.
Goodbye Istanbul.  May your citizens (and visitors) be safe from harm.

Boots, illness updates and…figuring out our insurance needs…

Oh, the Clark’s boots!  I wanted to keep them so badly that I took them to a long established boot and shoe repair company in Wayzata, Minnesota, Bob’s Shoe Repair.  

Brian, a young, although highly skilled leather craftsmen at Bob’s was confident he could cut out three inches out of the calf of the boot, put them back together leaving me satisfied with the comfort, look and fit.  He succeeded.  Thanks Brian!

I picked them up yesterday and couldn’t be happier. The cost for the repairs: $100.  Total investment in the boots including repairs: $249.   With the promise of a great rating online, I offered the seller of the boots a five star rating, if he’d credit me the $14.95 I paid for shipping.  He immediately posted the credit to my PayPal account.

Why did I deserve a credit for the shipping? The online description of the boots indicated a 14″ calf circumference when in fact, it was 16″ resulting in the necessity of the repair. I would have been satisfied with 14″ circumference. (My outrageously skinny calves measures 12.5″).  Now, I’m beautifully repaired, I’m content.

The sinus infection I reported on two days ago is improving without seeing the doctor or taking antibiotics. The pulsating headache would have driven me to seek help had it not begun to dissipate later in the day yesterday. Today, I awakened with only a slight headache for the first time in eight days. It’s on its way out.  
Thanks, Neti Pot, Aleve, Tylenol PM at night (with acetaminophen and Benedryl), lots of water, less dairy and light activity, coupled with periods of rest, good food and the loving support and comfort from my hubby.  Now, I know I will most likely survive a sinus infection without antibiotics.

In the beginning stages of figuring out our insurance needs, I spent a few hours yesterday with our long time highly competent broker/owner of our local State Farm Insurance office, Chad Babcock.  Having worked with  State Farm for the past 40 years, we have never had a problem.  

Before we begin traveling we must address these three major insurance concerns:
1.  How will we insure our luggage, computers and equipment without the security of homeowners insurance or a permanent home?
2.  Will we be able to buy a policy to avoid the high cost of insurance when renting a car abroad, which may be as high as $30 a day in certain locations?
3.  Medicare doesn’t cover seniors traveling out of the US and its territories. What type of policy will cover me, turning 65 in six months, while out of the country?  

With Chad’s help and a few phone calls later at home, we came up with the following scenarios:
1.  Baggage Insurance:  Once we acquire our Nevada residency and address, we will be able to purchase “renter’s insurance” covering the value of our belongings traveling with us, attaching a “rider” for our computers and digital equipment.  
2. Car Rental Insurance:  Many have the perception that one’s own auto insurance will cover a vehicle and liability while traveling in a foreign country. Not the case!  Plus…we won’t be owning a car here in the US, if it did.  We’ll bite the bullet on this one  We’ll pay the insurance at the time of renting the vehicles throughout the world.
3.  Health Insurance:  Without Medicare, a senior cannot purchase a supplemental policy which usually covers most of the costs Medicare doesn’t pay. Thus, I will be required to apply for Medicare (Tom will have five years until he is 65), pay the monthly fees out of my monthly Social Security in order to receive the supplement.  
Plan A:  The cost of the supplement is $185 a  month at this time along with the required Medicare payment for a monthly total of approximately $285.  The hitch:  traveling out of the country allows a total lifetime benefit of $50,000, rather skimpy.  Our insurance guy gave us a quote for me for $432 a month for full coverage, with no limits but add the approximate $99 a month for Medicare, we’d be paying $531 a month, a huge chunk. Tom, obviously younger than me by five years, will be covered up to 94% with the policy offered to him by his employer plus the necessary supplement until he turns 65.  His total cost (for the next five years), $207 a month.   GRAND TOTAL FOR BOTH:  $738  (Yikes! I hadn’t budgeted for this amount)!

As of this writing, I had a light bulb moment!  Duh??? This is not rocket science!
Let’s look at the realities. Tom with better health than I (as hard as I have fought to win over my genes), rarely visits the doctor.  Would the 80/20 (OK out of the country) company provided policy be sufficient for him, saving us $207 a month on the supplement?  

Plan B:  The only difference is 14% (based on the 80/20 coverage without the supplement, as opposed to 94% coverage with the supplement). Then, we purchase the “big guns” policy for me with a $1000 max-a-year out-of-pocket policy with no limits?  GRAND TOTAL FOR BOTH: $531 a month!! 

The financial risk for me?? None! The financial risk for Tom? We’d have to pay a maximum of 20%. Sure, I did the math, the savings of $207 a month over let’s imagine five years, is $12,420.  If he had a $60,000 medical bill, we’d be even.

For now, until we get our feet wet on this adventure, its worth the risk.  In the meantime, this pays for the insurance on the rental cars.  (If a traveler has an accident in certain foreign countries and doesn’t have insurance, they can be detained until the bill is paid in full.

Tom just returned home.  We discussed the above options A and B and we choose B, freeing up the $207 a month to cover the insurance on the rental vehicles.  (We don’t plan to have a rental car more than half of each month to keep costs down, vital all month in some locations and seldom needed at all in others). 
Of course, all of this could be a moot point when Obamacare kicks in. Not intending to get into politics on this site, this uncertainty faces all of us income earning citizens.  Where will Medicare be in the next few years?  None of us know at this time and, probably won’t be able to figure it out in the future.