What a fun day with friends and family!!!…

After our pedicures, my dear friend Chere and I went to lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar for a lovely breakfast of ground ribeye, topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions along with a side of green beans or asparagus. Delicious!

It was a lovely day with my friend Chere, the third time we got together since Tom and I arrived in Minnesota three weeks ago. Chere and I have been friends for 25 years and have often stayed in touch in the past 11 years since we’ve been traveling.

It was the last time I’d see her in our remaining 12 days when she and her husband Gary took off on a road trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a dietician convention and won’t return until we’re gone. Chere is a dietician who appeared many times on various TV news shows and conducted countless seminars for corporate clients nationwide. Also, as a Life Coach, she’s had a continuous stream of clients with varied needs that she so well fulfills, leaving them loyal to her ongoing services.

Her beliefs about food are similar to mine, that we each should eat a healthy, lower-carb diet of food in its natural state without pesticides, chemicals and additives, sugar, and starch. Of course, healthy fats are included in her suggested way of eating. As a result of this philosophy and others, she and I always had an indescribable sistership. We have so much to talk about!

This is Jada, who did an equally fine job on Chere’s pedicure at the beauty school. We had a good time together and with the two young women.

The pedicures were fun with the two girls, who will appreciate seeing their photos on our site today when particularly young women enjoy any exposure via social media. I couldn’t resist posting their photos.

After the pedicures, Chere and I headed to a nearby Goodwill store where she had to pick up a variety of hats for a display photo booth at the convention. We got a huge kick out of picking out the wild-looking hats readily available at the store with Halloween on the horizon a little over a month from now.

Halloween brings up special memories, as many of our long-term readers know, since it’s the anniversary of the date we left Minnesota to begin our journey in 2012. As a result, we’ll be celebrating our 11th anniversary in Ecuador at our new holiday home by the sea. What more could we ask for?

Chere dropped me off at the hotel before 2:30 pm, shortly before Tom and I had to drive to Anoka for his family’s usual get-together at Billy’s Bar and Grill. In the next month or so, three of his sisters will head to their winter homes in Apache Junction, Arizona, where we stayed in a holiday “park model” near them in December 2019 and January 2020. (Once the sisters leave for Arizona, the weekly get-togethers at Billy’s will end until next summer).

This is Hazyl, my nail technician at the beauty school in Hopkins. She, too, did a fine job!

We took off from Arizona for India when shortly later, Covid-19 hit. Most of our readers know that unbelievable story when we were stuck in a hotel room for ten months in Mumbai, India, only six weeks after we arrived. Was that ever a memorable experience!

We drove back to the hotel after drinks and dinner with the family (photos to be shared in tomorrow’s post). We watched a few more episodes of Formula 1, again savoring every episode. What a great show on Netflix!

Oddly, we have no plans with anyone for today or tonight, but we did make a reservation at the same restaurant Chere, and I enjoyed yesterday, Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar, for the two of us for tonight. When we return, we’ll hunker down to watch more of our current favorite show, which is soon ending. We are on season five after watching the first of ten remaining episodes.

We’ll be back again tomorrow with the family photos from last night!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 30, 2013:

My dinner at Le Cafe at Lantana Galu Beach, Kenya: Seasoned Grilled Red Snapper with sautéed non-starchy vegetables. For more photos, please click here.
Notice the lack of veggies on Tom’s plate? He requested they be placed on a separate plate to be handed to me. I did the same with my potatoes, handing them over to him. For more photos, please click here.

In a hurry…Busy day, ahead…Booking realities…

Yesterday’s lunch at Champps with my dear friend and former business partner, Theresa, a successful real estate agent, was delightful. We could have chatted all day long. What a treat to be with my friend! If you are in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area and need the services of a quality agent, feel free to reach Theresa here.

Soon, we’re heading out the door. Tom is dropping me off in Hopkins to meet my friend Chere where we’ll both have pedicures. We both feel more comfortable having pedicures at the beauty school due to increased sanitation processes. We’ve heard about patrons getting infections at some nail salons, and neither of us wanted to take a chance. At the school, the standards are high. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

After our pedicures, we headed to lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and Bar, where Tom and I had dinner with our dear friends from our old neighborhood. The food and service was impeccable. I tried to find a restaurant near the beauty school in Hopkins but all of them were basic pub food-type establishments with lots of fried foods and bad oils. Chere is like me. She only consumes healthy foods. Jimmy’s is a perfect option.

I love how easy it is to make reservations here. It’s just a few clicks on an app. Some countries utilize such a process, but many do not and require a phone call. Of course, in South Africa, we have a standing reservation at Jabula for every Friday and Saturday night. As for other restaurants in Marloth Park, few require a reservation.

After considerable research yesterday, we decided to wait to book a cruise on the Amazon while we’re in South America. Once we started calculating the actual costs for the cruise, we found that it ended up being twice as expensive as we thought, once we added taxes, port charges ($700 each), tips, and drinks, it priced us out of the market.

With the expensive upcoming cruise in The Galapagos, with only 16 passengers on basically an eight-cabin yacht, we are watching our budget with diligence. Since the pandemic, prices have risen considerably. Keep in mind we are on a perpetual “vacation/holiday,” and costs are of major consideration for each event we book.

Each time we research a new venue or location, we try to have it fit into our annual budget, not necessarily the monthly budget. Lately, we’re finding a number of expensive, relative to any venue, that doesn’t include many required “add-ons,” making the actual cost much more. It easy to miss some of those expenses, but we learned long ago to read the fine print.

Thus, right now, we won’t be booking anything after January 8, 2024, until we’re in South America and do more research. Right now, our days and nights are too busy to focus on research.

After lunch, Chere will drop me off at the hotel, and a short time later, Tom and I will head to Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka to meet up with his siblings and other family members for happy hour and dinner. Gosh, I’ll try not to eat two Cobb salads in one day, perhaps ordering something else at lunch since I like the salad at Billy’s.

Although everyone meets at Billy’s at 3:30 when happy hour begins, no one orders dinner until after 5:00 pm. I will have to eat a light lunch to be able to eat another meal so soon after lunch.

This morning while sleeping in, knowing I didn’t have to get to breakfast before it ended at 9:00 am, I could hear thunder clapping in the background. It’s still happening now at almost 10:00 am. Apparently, today will be a rainy day which I don’t mind a bit as long as we don’t get soaked going in and out of restaurants, etc.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s time to move on. Have a great weekend.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 29, 2013:

Last night, in Kenya, our waiter at Le Café at Lantana Galu Beach offered to take a photo of us. Gosh, we looked younger! We were younger! For more photos, please click here.

Tom’s outrageous meal at the stadium!…Fun times with son TJ at the Minnesota Twins baseball game…My lunch with son Greg…

TJ got tickets to the Minnesota Twins game for him and Tom. The tickets included all the food you can eat. Tom ate two hotdogs, one hamburger, fried chicken, popcorn, salted-in-the-shell peanuts, a Pepsi, and later two ice cream sandwiches. What a little piglet! This morning, he was still too full to eat breakfast.

Last night, Tom and TJ rode an Uber to the Minnesota Twins baseball game. With the cost of parking and traffic, this was an excellent option for them, especially if they drank beer during the game. But, as it turned out, Tom was too busy eating to drink beer when he was enjoying the food instead.

Once it started raining, they moved to different seats that were undercover.

TJ had special tickets that included “all-you-can-eat” stadium foods and drinks (except beer), and Tom, who particularly loves “free” food and beverages, had a field day (no pun intended). He was like a kid-in-a-candy-store. It was a good thing I hadn’t joined them. There wouldn’t have been anything I could have eaten.

Instead, I stayed at the hotel, dining on meat, cheese, and vegetables in the tiny refrigerator in the hotel room, which I “mono” ate over a few hours while watching a few shows on Hulu. I got into my pajamas early, hunkered down with a blanket on the sofa, and entertained myself for the entire evening.

Check out all the empty seats. The Twins had already won the division/pennant, so fewer fans attended this game as they finished the season.

By about 10:30, I headed off to bed, and Tom arrived a short time later, telling me how much fun he, TJ, and a friend of TJ’s had at the game, especially when the Twins won the game 11-3. It was a great way for father and son to spend another special evening together.

It had been a long time since I’d spent an entire evening alone, but I didn’t mind a bit, especially knowing Tom was having such a good time. After the prior night’s inadequate sleep, I made up for it last night, sleeping for eight hours.

The Twins won the game 11-3.

As for my day yesterday, my son Greg picked me up at noon, and we headed to People’s Organic restaurant in Eden Prairie, known for “healthy organic food,” when Greg asked if we could try a healthy location. What shocked me was that some of the menu items, including bad fats for preparations, were unhealthy. I asked for my grilled chicken (for my Cobb salad) to be cooked with butter in a separate pan since it is often cooked in harmful oils, which they did.

This children’s band played the National Anthem at the Twins game last night.

The restaurant’s food appeared fresh and well-prepared, but my way of eating (food in its natural state) wasn’t easy to accomplish with many sauces and toppings I always avoid. I didn’t make a fuss. Greg had a sandwich and salad.

However, I wasn’t thrilled that we had to order food at the counter instead of being served at the table. When dining out, I prefer to plop myself down in a comfy booth (if available) and not have to get up other than a quick trip to the loo if needed. This self-service concept usually doesn’t result in better pricing or reduced tips. Once our food was ready, the staff brought it to our table, which helped.

Target Field sign inside the park.

It was a delight to have Greg to myself for the 90 minutes we spent chatting. It was the first time in quite a few years we’d done this, and we’re both hoping to go to lunch by ourselves one more time before we depart two weeks from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 27, 2013:

This is where we’ll lounge in the chaises at Madafoo’s in Diani Beach, Kenya, in a guarded area overlooking the Indian Ocean each Wednesday. If it rains, we’ll either wait until it stops or go the next day. For more photos, please click here.

Cherished visit with an old friend…Info for new booking in Ecuador…But, not photos…Those coming later…

Tom and our dear friend, Sue.

This morning at 10:00 am, we drove a short distance to Friendship Village, a retirement community in Bloomington, Minnesota, to visit our dear long-term friend Sue, whom we hadn’t seen in a few years. No words can express how wonderful it was to spend time with her.

We thought we might stay for an hour or so, but it turned into three hours, and the time passed so quickly that we hardly noticed. Sue and Chip, her husband, whom we also dearly loved and adored, were our neighbors for many years when we lived in Minnesota. Chip sadly passed away in 2012 before we left, and we were heartbroken to lose our dear friend.

The two of them were an integral part of our lives, living four doors from us, and our lives were intertwined in many ways. Not only did Chip and Tom have a fantastic friendship on their own, but Sue and I did as well. And yet, when the four of us got together, which we did frequently, it was magical, with the lively conversations and laughs we enjoyed over the years.

Over the 11 years we’ve been gone, we’ve visited Sue many times, sharing our experiences while we’ve been traveling and sharing details of her life now without Chip and the many incredible experiences the four of us shared for 26 years. It was a delightful and emotional time.

This is only the beginning of many get-togethers we are planning while we are in Minnesota this month. Working out dates and times is tricky, with everyone living fast-paced lives with countless appointments and plans. In our peculiar life of world travel, we don’t experience this fast pace except on travel days when we have a tight schedule.

While we were away, Sue moved to Friendship Village, a lovely retirement complex with many amenities and beautiful decor.

But that’s life in the US and also in many countries throughout the world in the big cities. Tom just returned from an appointment he’d scheduled to get a haircut. He arrived early, and after waiting for 15 minutes, he canceled the appointment and left. I was shocked to see him back so early. When he explained how he was sitting there waiting and how frustrated he became, I understood. We’re not used to waiting for service in locations we’ve been visiting worldwide.

Life has been easy in many countries without crowds and people waiting for their turns. Perhaps we are spoiled. Even driving in traffic is frustrating for us when we haven’t done so for such a long time. We love the remote areas where we’ve lived, often for many months.

And…speaking of remote areas, in about six weeks, again, we’ll be living in a remote location, this time In Ecuador, away from crowds, traffic, noise, and commotion. It’s our kind of lifestyle.

Unfortunately, the photos of the new booking are in a format I cannot download, regardless of how hard I try. Thus, I am providing the link to the listing on VRBO, where, with only one click, you can see the property. Please click on the following link to see all the photos and information.


Me and dear friend Sue.

Please note when you go to this site, you only need to click in the photo area where it says +36 photos, and you will see all the photos. This property is a duplex but based on its remote location, we anticipate the other side-by-side unit won’t be rented often while we’re there. Most likely, we’ll have the pool and the property to ourselves. When we lived in Placencia, Belize, over ten years ago, we lived in a condo with other units attached on each side. It was never a problem for us.

In that case, we had an opportunity to meet and socialize with our neighbors in Belize. Hopefully, if other travelers arrive, we’ll be able to socialize with them as well. We always prefer a single house, but we think this will work out well for us this time. It’s an oceanfront property with a pool and a lovely property. What more could we ask for?

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks to all of you for your support and readership of our site. We’re always amazed by YOU!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago  today, September 12, 2013:

Hesborn referred to this as a millipede.  We didn’t bother to count the number of legs. These are harmless, although if walking on a person, they leave a trail of “itchy liquid.” For more details, please click here.

Part 4…last of the photos and info about our temporary home in The Villages, Florida…Socializing is beginning…

This table in the screened lanai has been the perfect spot for us in the morning with coffee and the late afternoons with sundowners (if we so choose). The umbrella provides shade on sunny afternoons.

We haven’t had a TV in the bedroom in so long; we can’t recall. I go to bed an hour or two before Tom but prefer not to watch anything on the TV since it keeps me awake if I find a good show. Instead, I play with my phone until dozing off. I can’t believe I slept over ten hours last night, according to my Fitbit. I’m still feeling tired after my recent heart crisis.

Sofa and extra chair on the lanai, perfect for when visitors come.

This morning, we went for our walk after breakfast, and as much as I struggled to walk very far, we could double the distance we did yesterday. Upon returning to the house, I got two loads of laundry started. It’s fantastic to do laundry indoors and use a dryer, although I prefer to hang up my tops on a rack in the laundry room that may quickly wear out in the dryer over time.

Our social life begins tonight when we head out to a live entertainment venue in one of the village areas, which also has several restaurants nearby so we can dine after the live music. We’re hoping to meet people at the music event, but it’s entirely possible we won’t, and we’ve prepared ourselves for that possibility.

We tend to reach out to strangers, especially after being in Marloth Park for so long, where it’s always welcomed. However, we don’t know the nature of people here yet and may be pleasantly surprised or not. We’ll play it by ear and hope for the best.

Storage area in the garage, well stocked for use, as needed.

On Monday next week, Tom’s nephew Kevin and his wife Kristi are visiting us in the early afternoon. They won’t be staying overnight but plan to stay for an early dinner and would prefer to dine out than dine in. We were more than willing to make a nice dinner, but they insisted eating out would be fine since they wanted to experience the area as well. That makes it a lot easier for me, which right now is a plus since I’m not entirely back to feeling like usual.

On Friday next week, Karen and Rich are coming and staying overnight, and I will be cooking dinner. It will be a lot easier to prepare a meal in the air-conditioned comfort of this house than in the heat of South Africa, always with the challenge of batting off the flies that love to hover over any protein source during food prep. I’ll pace myself and take it easy.

Washer and dryer with plenty of supplies in the house’s laundry room.

Ah, I am well aware of all the conveniences here, although it doesn’t temper my enthusiasm to return to Marloth Park in 14 months. Every location has its pluses and minuses, and over the past ten years, we have learned to adapt to the circumstances wherever we may be.

My en suite bathroom with a roomy walk-in shower and loads of storage space.

Right now, I am following the activities of mating birds. I’ve yet to discover what type of birds they are, although I looked online extensively. They have a nest in a bush in the garden, close to the house, and they have chicks sitting in the nest waiting to be fed. We watch the parents head into the bush with a worm in their mouths and then hear the chicks chirping loudly the moment the parent reappears, which is very often.

Closet in the hallway. The top two shelves are products supplied by the owner, and the bottom two shelves are food products we added.

With Tom’s lousy hearing, he doesn’t hear the chirping, but I love every moment. I doubt we’ll see much other wildlife here unless an alligator walks down the road, which is known to happen.

Speaking of alligators, or shall I say crocodiles, there was a croc walking down a dirt road in Marloth Park a few days ago, and someone posted a video on Facebook. That reminded us how much we love the bush and that no modern conveniences will keep us away.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 5, 2013:

No photo was posted on this date while we had a poor signal on a cruise. For the story posted, please click here.

New travel plans revealed….Leaving South Africa in 24 days, not returning for over a year…

Earl has been stopping by for the past several days.

We knew this time would come…that we’d be leaving Marloth Park for an extended period. We do this knowing we’ll be back in about 14 months after many adventures in between. It’s about time we get back out into the world! It’s been quite enjoyable spending the past few years, off and on, in Marloth Park, but the rest of the world awaits us.

When speaking with the immigration attorney, she emphatically stated we have to leave South Africa on or before April 30, or we will be considered “undesirables,” which would ban us from returning for five years. We wouldn’t qualify for another waiver after we’d already used that option after I had open heart surgery in 2019. We have no choice but to leave.

Baby nyala Natalie is so adorable. She’s growing up so fast.

The interpretation of the new dictates imposed by immigration for pending visa extension applications, like ours, is unclear, but we can’t take any chances. One never knows for certain what will happen when trying to leave the country.

Secondly, we have discovered we cannot apply for our new 10-year passports at the US Consulate in Pretoria, which we also planned to do while here. It was entirely doable before the pandemic, but now the phone at the US Consulate doesn’t get answered regardless of when we call and how long we let it ring. The website claims we can apply for an appointment online. This is impossible. The link doesn’t work. TIA.

Mom Nina is in the forefront with Natalie outside the little fence.

I called the US Embassy, and they refused to help, saying that a US passport applicant must go through the consulate. What a mess! We’d have to leave even if we could have stayed longer. Our 10-year passports expired in 2021, and now our 4-year passport expires in January 2024. The upcoming cruises we’ve booked require at least six months remaining until the passports expire to board the ships.

As a result of both of these scenarios, we knew we had no choice but to leave. Since it’s not easy getting US passports in foreign countries unless on a short-term emergency basis, which is not us, we also knew we needed to return to the US to renew the 10-year passports.

So the question became, where do we go in the US for three months? We’ll be spending time with family in Minnesota and Nevada in September after the completion of two of the cruises. Holiday homes are priced out of our budget in Minnesota and Nevada, and since we have three months to fill until the first cruise on August 1, we decided to step outside the box and try something entirely new.

Nina and Natalie usually visit together. From time to time, Natalie hangs out with her dad Norman.

A long time ago, we watched a documentary about The Villages in central Florida and were fascinated by all it offered seniors. Where could we go that would be fun socially, perhaps near other seniors? But, for us, this is merely a stop along the way to fill these three months and not a “look-see” for any potential plans for the future.

To stay in some arbitrary US location and try to meet people and have a social life right away it’s tough in the US and many other countries. It’s not as if strangers try to make new friends when they’re out and about. After living there all of our lives except the past 10-plus years, we know this. By leaving Marloth Park, we are leaving many wonderful friends behind.

Nina and Norman enjoying breakfast at our house.

We had a busy social life in the US, but it had taken years to build relationships, unlike when people were ultra-friendly and welcoming. We thought if we went to a retirement community with lots of activities, we might be able to enjoy a busy social life during those three months. The obvious answer was The Villages for the three-month stint.

We got to work researching at VRBO, our preferred holiday home site, and researched exclusively for The Villages, which was easy to do. When we started seeing very nice golf carts that were often included in the rental, we wondered…was it possible we could avoid the expense of a rental car? Every possible shopping and entertainment venue, restaurant, and more were within a short drive using the golf carts allowed on all streets within the community.

Ruffles has become quite a regular.

Yesterday, we signed up for a three-month rental of a three-bedroom, two-full-bath property with a golf cart that we’ll be moving into on April 30. We’ll be departing 90 days later to head to Scotland for the first of two upcoming cruises on August 1.As mentioned above, we’ll be back in the US in September to see family. Afterward, we’ll be off to South America for many months, including a cruise from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos Islands.

We booked our flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg to Atlanta to Orlando for April 29. The journey will take about 30 hours, with the long overnight flight of 16 hours and 50 minutes from Joburg to Atlanta, a flight we’ve become very familiar with. We no longer anticipate it with dread. We know what to expect…lots of movies, little sleep, and terrible food. We don’t like to eat in the middle of the night anyway. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of our posting objectives during the three months. This will be an entirely new perspective for our site that may be of particular interest to seniors, with many photos included.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2022:

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself. This is in front of our friends Karen and Rich’s Apollo Beach, Florida house. For more photos, please click here.

Tom is off to the US on Sunday…Our first time apart in 10½ years…

The view from friend’s Karen and Rich’s home one year ago when we stayed with them in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Note: We’ve been preoccupied and haven’t taken any new photos in several days. Today’s images are from Florida, where we were one year ago.

It will feel very strange for Tom and me to be apart for ten days when he leaves for the airport in Nelspruit to start the long journey to the US. On his way there, the flight and layovers will have 31 hours of travel time. On his return on March 13, arriving on March 15, it will be much longer when he has to stay overnight in Joburg at the airport hotel to avoid driving the dangerous N4 highway in the dark.

This will be the first time we have embarked on an international flight without the other. Not only was it imperative for him to be with his family for brother Jerome’s wake and funeral service in Minneapolis, but also to spend precious time with his kids,  grandkids, and siblings. I will feel a lot better when I hear that he has arrived safely and when he walks in the door a week from Wednesday, back with me once again.

Our dear friends Karen and Rich while we were all out to dinner in Florida.

As a blended family, we’re constantly juggling and allocating time between our families when we are together in the US. It has always worked out well, but this time, he won’t have to worry about carting me around, dropping me off, and picking me up after time with my son Greg and his family.

For a minute, we may have considered having me go with him, but the more we thought about it, this made the most sense. Plus, he can sleep at his daughter Tammy’s house, where I’ve never been able to stay since I am allergic to cats. The same is the case with staying at my son Greg’s house, where they have three cats.

When it’s the two of us, we prefer to stay in a hotel, especially when we consume so much WiFi and spend so much time online doing daily posts and other research. Also, as a couple, we prefer privacy and quiet when staying in a hotel when we travel.

View of the bay from Karen and Rich’s home in Apollo Beach.

The only exception to this has been when we stay with our dear friends Karen and Rich in their huge house in Florida. The four of us are so much alike, we don’t annoy one another, and it’s always been easy for a week or more. We all like the same kind of food, and our daily habits are oddly similar. This isn’t always the case with many friends who have generously offered us to stay with them.

Tom just finished packing, considering it’s still freezing in Minnesota. When our bags were lost on our last trip, we bought sweatshirts and flannel shirts to stay warm. He now has three flannel shirts, a few new zippered sweatshirts, and plenty of jeans to keep warm. He isn’t bringing a suit when few men at the service will be wearing suits. But he will wear a newer long-sleeved black shirt and pants to the services.

This morning, we headed to Komatipoort to grocery shop for whatever I’ll need in the next ten days. Mostly, I’ll prepare easy chicken and seafood meals while he’s away, along with a salad. When he returns, I’ll make a special dinner for us to celebrate our missed 28th wedding anniversary, which is on March 7.

Us, out to dinner with Rich and Karen.

These past ten years, we have always made a bigger fuss over our travel anniversary on October 31 each year. Still, we’ve always done something special on our wedding anniversary, often going out to dinner or making a fancy meal wherever we live.

This evening, we’ll return to Jabula, the second night in a row to be with our local friends at this entertaining establishment. Last night, we had an excellent time, reliving the fun we all had at my birthday party last Saturday. It’s hard to believe that it was almost a week ago.

That’s it for today. Next time I write, I will be alone for the first time in so long I can hardly remember; although we were apart at night when I was in hospital in 2019, Tom was with me every day, well into the evening. But this is different. I am not afraid of being alone. I’ll watch for lions when I am outdoors and those disgusting slimy black worms that are still falling on our heads. Yuck.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2022:

Once again, the porcupine returned to the garden at night. For more photos, please click here.

One last shopping trip…Why can’t we find this item?…Received all of our items from Amazon but one…

Penguin statue on the beach made of a penguin dressed in Christmas clothes and various locally inspired pins and decorations. From our post here on December 6, 2016, while living in Penguin, Tasmania, one of Tom’s favorite places in the world.

With Christmas shopping evident in every store we visited, we thought we’d better hurry and buy the one piece of luggage we needed to pack the clothing we purchased while here in Minnesota after having our bags lost from the fiasco we experienced on November 24, explained in detail in Part 1 this post and Part 2 in this post.

There was no way we’d get a big enough bag for under $100, so we headed to TJ Maxx in Bloomington, where they have quality brand-name luggage at reasonable prices. We also needed to buy a luggage tag when they are rarely included with the purchase of a bag.

We lucked out and found the perfect large suitcase in an obvious color and design that may prevent thieves from taking off with it. As I packed it, I wondered if we’d ever get this bag when we’ll arrive at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport on Saturday, let alone our two missing bags from the fiasco on November 24.

This morning we packed the bag, and my carry-on bag, only leaving out clothes and shoes for tomorrow’s departure and toiletries in travel-approved sizes. This time, I packed pajamas and clean underwear in the same carry-on bag since we knew we would spend one night in the City Lodge airport hotel in Joburg to avoid driving in the dark to Marloth Park from Nelspruit on the dangerous N4 highway.

Everything we’d purchased easily fit into the suitcase and I have no doubt we’ll be within the weight limits. This time, we don’t have the portable scale to ensure that fact but based on the contents, I feel confident it will be fine.

The following day, on Saturday, we’ll fly to Nelspruit, collect the rental car at the airport and commence the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park, arriving around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. We’ll stop at Louise’s Marloth Park Info Centre to pick up the house key we left with her and then drive down the dirt road to our holiday house.

If we’re up to it, we’ll go to Jabula for dinner since we won’t have anything defrosted to make for dinner. Of course, with all the Stage 6 load shedding over the past several days, all of our meat in the freezer could have gone bad. Stage 6 is as follows:

  • 5:00 am to 9:30 am (4.5 hours)
  • 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm (4.5 hours)
  • 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm (2.5 hours)

This is a total of 11.5 hours without electricity in 24 hours. Also, there are severe issues with the reservoir based on chronic power outages. We may not have any water when arriving since our JoJo tank doesn’t pump water when the power is out for extended periods.

Oh well, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that is what we expect upon returning after two weeks away. The temperature will be tolerable at a high of 94F, 34C, and increasing in days to come. At least we have the inverter to run to the bedroom’s fan and lamp and the WiFi router. When we cook by Sunday, we can use the gas burners on the stove, lighting it with a lighter, and also use of the braai on the veranda.

We likely won’t grocery shop until next week after we access the power situation to determine what perishables will survive these long load-shedding periods.

Although two male lions were darted in Marloth Park a few weeks ago and moved to Kruger National Park, two females and cubs have been sighted in the park in the past few days. Warnings continue for diligence and caution when outdoors, walking to and from vehicles, and walking and biking only in daylight hours with added attention to one’s surroundings.

Juan, the snake handler we use, has issued warnings that many snakes have come out of hiding over the cooler winter months and to exercise extreme caution outdoors and indoors. Snakes often enter houses during the warm spring and summer months through open doors and thatch roofs, both of which we have.

Nonetheless, we are excited to return to the bush to see our animal and human friends and return to the lifestyle we so much cherish living in the bush.

On another note, we have been searching for thick neoprene Koozies to hold cold canned beverages and glasses. With the heat and humidity in MP. Koozies are an ideal solution to avoid cans and glasses sweating and drinks getting warm on hot and humid days and nights. The mistake we made was not ordering them from Amazon in time for delivery to our hotel.

We searched far and wide to find these neoprene thick-walled Koozies. Most likely, winter-time in Minnesota is not the best time to find these for sale.

We stopped at several stores in the past few days, hoping to find them. We couldn’t find them anywhere, and finally, we gave up trying. They do not sell thick-walled models in South Africa. We’ve searched everywhere online to no avail. And Amazon can’t send us items to South Africa due to high shipping costs and customs issues. It would take months for us to receive them. We’ll be returning to Minnesota next September and buying them at that time.

So that’s it, folks. We’ll do a short post tomorrow, and then we may not post again until Sunday since Saturday will be a hectic day. But, as always, we shall see how it goes, and if we can post sooner, we will. Often, I write the post on my phone on the plane and can complete it on the long drive back to Marloth Park. Thus, Saturday is a possibility.

We hope all of our readers/friends are enjoying preparations for the holiday season. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 7, 2021:

Zoom in to note the difference in size between this massive elephant and the nearby male impala. For more photos, please click here.

Enjoyable Sunday…Family and football..

From our post on December 5, 2013…Down the road another block, several giraffes were hanging outside one of the houses in Marloth Park. This giraffe was eating, which accounts for the chubby cheeks. The food slides down her throat in a big lump, as shown. See the post here.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day at Greg’s home in Chaska, about a 20-minute drive from here. We stopped at Target to get some football-watching snacks. It was fun to watch the game with Greg and the kids, who wandered in and out of the family room during the three-hour game, chatting with us on each occasion.

When Camille returned from Christmas shopping, it was great to catch up with her. By about 4:00 pm, we were going back to the hotel to make a plan for dinner and put away all the laundry we’d washed and dried at their house. With the clothes we purchased at Target when we arrived last Saturday, we only had two loads of laundry.

It was great to use a clothes dryer. It had been a long time since we had access to a clothes dryer. Everything came out unwrinkled, and nothing shrank. We’d each bought a few flannel shirts to stay warm, and I was concerned they’d all shrink, but this morning I am wearing one of those shirts, and there was no shrinkage whatsoever. Even my flannel pajamas came out perfectly.

We begin thinking about any items we may need before leaving the US, knowing we won’t return for nine months. Saying goodbye this time will be a lot easier, knowing we’ll return next September at the end of two cruises. We’ll also head to Nevada to see Richard and renew our driver’s licenses in our state of residence.

While here, we’ve made several phone calls to see if we qualify for any refunds or credits due to our recent travel fiasco. But we’ll need to wait until we return to South Africa to get the wheels in motion. Ethiopian Air doesn’t consider our bags “lost” until 25 days have passed, so we can’t file a claim until then. Our credit card lost baggage benefit will also require documentation from the airline showing our bags are considered lost. We have no choice but to wait.

Now, my centipede fear has some competition. After a massive storm last night, our pool was filled with dead insects. This morning, Tom fished out this scorpion. Carefully, we tread.

It appears we won’t be able to recover any part of the loss of the cruise fare. This is frustrating, but they consider the obstacle we encountered “our fault.” We take full responsibility for the fiasco but are disappointed with the cruise company, and Intrepid Travel didn’t give us a heads-up when we inquired about any governmental documents we may have needed to enter Seychelles. There’s nothing more we can do. It’s frustrating.

But, as always, we must pick ourselves up and carry on and focus on the positives in our lives for which we feel grateful and fulfilled. Slowly, I am beginning to feel better, but the headache pops up every few days and the facial pain remains. I don’t know if I am going to seek further treatment. At this point, I feel like I have tried everything possible.

Perhaps, I have to resign myself to these lingering Omicron symptoms, and in time, they will improve. It is not debilitating in a manner that impacts our lives, but I am aware of it each day. I make a concerted effort to stay cheerful and take extra good care of myself. I am still using the various nasal treatments which, luckily, I had in my carry-on bag. When we fly on the 16-hour flight from Newark to Joburg, I won’t be able to use the products since it’s not sanitary in the plane’s restrooms.

In only three days, we’ll be on our way. Our first flight from Minneapolis to Newark is at 2:00 pm on Thursday. We have a long layover in Newark, 3 hours and 20 minutes, and then we’re off to Joburg on the 16-hour flight. Once we arrive in Joburg we’ll stay overnight at the City Lodge airport hotel to catch our flight on Airlink the following day. This way, we avoid driving to Marloth Park in the dark on the dangerous N4 Highway.

Soon, we head out to make one more stop at Target for a few items, and then Tom will drop me off at my friend Chere’s home in Eden Prairie for a few-hour visit with a dear old friend.

That’s it for today, friends. Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2021:

It’s only on the hottest days that Little sits in the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Whew!..Time in Minnesota moving quickly…

This morning view from the living room of our holiday home on this date in 2016 in Penguin, Tasmania. It’s a fantastic, sunny day.

Note: Today’s photos are from 2016, when we first arrived in Penguin, Tasmania. For more photos and the story, please click here.

In only four days, we’ll be on the move once again. Our flight to Newark on Thursday departs Minneapolis at 1:59 pm. We’ll be ready to go. The items we ordered from Amazon.com are arriving as planned, and the contact lenses I ordered from Vision Direct in the UK have also arrived earlier than expected.

Once everything arrives, we’ll know how big of a suitcase we need to purchase to fit all the replacement clothing. According to Ethiopian Air, we can’t consider our bags lost until 25 days after they’ve disappeared. We’ll have to deal with that claim when we return to Marloth Park.

Once we know the space we’ll need after all the packages arrive by Wednesday, we’ll head to TJ Maxx, where we’ve often purchased brand-name bags at great prices and bought a new bag for the new items. We keep everything folded in their original plastic bags for easy packing. We feel confident all of the things will fit and meet our needs.

We had to purchase items to replace some of the things that were in our missing baggage. Why not wait until we see if the bags are truly lost for good? We can’t find items like these in South Africa that we know will fit and work for us. If we ordered everything from the US and had it shipped to our mailing service in Nevada, we’d have to pay no less than US $500 in shipping fees plus customs fees, all of which is more than what we’ve spent on the items, buying them while here in the US from Amazon.

White sand beaches with rarely a human in sight.

It made more sense to assume the bags were gone and shop accordingly. So far, we’ve received about half of the items, with the remainder arriving. In any case, we have not purchased replacement items, for nearly half of which were in each of our bags. We’ll be well-equipped if we get the bags back after all. But we aren’t hopeful.

Yesterday, after a great breakfast with Greg, Maisie, and her boyfriend Nick, we returned to our hotel and hung out for the rest of the day. At dinner time, Tom went to Chipotle to pick up our dinner. I had a salad bowl, and he had tacos. It was hard to believe the cost of the takeaway meal was $48.

When we were here in May, the identical items would have been less than $30. It would have been in the $25 range a few years earlier. We recall making these same purchases when we lived in Minnesota over ten years ago, being no more than $18 to feed the two of us. Wow! Times have changed.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast included in our hotel booking, of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and a wide array of accompaniments. This breakfast holds us until dinner each evening, although Tom saved a few donut holes to enjoy in our room each day and evening. Tom has particularly enjoyed the donut holes but passed on the pancakes, toast, juice, and other breakfast side dishes. The coffee has been delicious.

From one area to the next, the scenery changed. With almost half of Tasmania’s entire population living in Hobart, most terrains were untouched areas of pure beauty.

Soon, we’ll be heading to Greg’s house to watch the Minnesota Vikings game with Greg and the family. We’ll do our two loads of laundry, washing the clothes we purchased at Target a week ago at their house. Doing so will avoid spending two hours sitting in a laundromat. (There are few laundromats in this suburban area). We’ll stay for the game and idle chatter afterward, then head back to our hotel for the evening. Most likely tonight, we’ll dine out.

As the time winds down until we depart, we’re making a point of seeing as many of our family members as we can before we leave. The time has gone quickly. We’ve made the very best of our time here and enjoyed every moment with family. But, we look forward to returning to Marloth Park to our animal and human friends. By Saturday afternoon, we’ll be back and settled into our house, hoping all of our favorites have been waiting for us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2021:

Look to the right of this tree in the center, and you’ll see our occasional visitor, a porcupine. For more photos, please click here.