Busy day in Komatipoort…Impressed with medical care, costs and prescriptions in small town in South Africa…

“To graze on that many leaves, giraffes usually spend 16 to 20 hours per day standing and walking. Amazingly, giraffes don’t need much sleep despite their long days of exercising and eating. They often only get 30 minutes to 2 hours of sleep every 24 hours from the short naps they take throughout the day.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This rather large gecko was a new visitor, spending most of the day and evening on the veranda.

Many tourists and part and full-time residents choose not to have vaccinations, other than the required Yellow Fever as mentioned in a prior post.  If we were “regular” tourists visiting Africa for a two-week holiday/vacation, we may have done the same.

Note the size of the gecko in relation to Tom’s water shoe.

However, as we continue to travel the world visiting many countries where certain diseases are rampantly escalating, we’d decided a long time ago to be cautious and keep vaccinations up-to-date as often as possible.

We’re thrilled to see birds stopping by our feeder.  According to our friend, Lynne these tiny birds are blue waxbills.

There were a few for which we’d fallen behind in getting boosters over this past almost six years.  When we met with Dr. Theo a few times over these past weeks (located at Rissik Medical Centre, 71 Rissik Street, Komatipoort, Komatiepoort, 1340, phone #27 013 793 7306), he diligently reviewed our vaccination records.

Each night I practice taking photos in the dark once the bushbabies arrive.

He made excellent suggestions as to how we can be up-to-date on all of those he deemed necessary based on our ages, health, and exposure through our travels and also that we should be re-vaccinated in 2022.

Proud giraffe standing in the bush as we drove past on one of our drives.

Yesterday was my turn for a grouping of vaccines compiled into two injections, one in each arm.  One of the injections was slightly more painful than the other and my arm was a little sore last night but is greatly improved today.  Tom experienced the same scenario when he had his injections last week.

Epipens cost in the US is ZAR 7531.07, (US $600) for a pack of two.  We purchased two yesterday for ZAR 2126.79 (US $169.44).  (In either case, these prices are based on out-of-pocket costs, not insurance paid).

As for any other medical issues we needed to address, with caution to avoid jinxing myself (slightly superstitious, I guess), my gastrointestinal issue is improving.  I am off all medication for this issue.  I feel discomfort if I eat too much at any one meal or drink too much liquid in any one setting.  But I am feeling better utilizing these limitations.

Yesterday, we purchase two EpiPens at the local pharmacy which did require a prescription from Dr. Theo.  See pricing on receipt posted here. 

Based on the improvement and Dr. Theo’s observation at this point there’s no need for a number of invasive tests.  Let’s face it, as we age, most of us find we must adapt to some changes in our lives to accommodate medical issues of one kind or another. 

Many of our readers have written describing how they’d love to travel the world but have, knee, hip and back problems that make travel difficult if not impossible.  Instead, they live vicariously through us which means so much to us both. 

My bill for multiple vaccines I had yesterday by Dr. Theo Stronkhorst in Kpmatipoort.  Tom’s bill was identical last week.  Our total cost for two office visits and vaccines for each of us was rand (ZAR) 1707.81 for a grand total of ZAR 3415.62 (US $272.12). 

We only wish everyone who desired to do so, could live this peculiar life, generally on the move.  We continue to be grateful each and every day that we’ve been able to continue on even with some issues along the way.  This gastro thing has plagued me for the past 2½ years. 

Now, this morning I can sip on my organic herbal tea and not suffer any ill effects.  This is a big deal.  I haven’t tried drinking coffee yet and have decided to give it several more months until I do working my way up to one or two cups a day, if possible.  I really do miss morning coffee!

Tom’s favorite bushbuck, “My Girl” is a frequent visitor.

During my doctor appointment, Tom went to Obara, the farm store in Komatipoort, to purchase two more bags of pellets.  Now, we have an inventory of three 40 kg bags, enough to last for weeks.  The animals continue to visit throughout the days and evenings.

This baby bushbuck has grown considerably over these past few months.

Today, the weather is perfect with clear skies with a cool and comfortable breeze wafting through the air.  We couldn’t be more content and at ease.  Later today, a drive through the park may be on the agenda!

May your day bring you contentment and ease as well! 


Photo from one year ago today, May 29, 2017:

Canadian geese are pretty birds but poop two pounds per day in the grass, a real nuisance for homeowners, particularly those living on a lake, as we did in our old lives.  For more Minnesota photos, please click here.

Plunge, twist and release…To vaccinate or not to vaccinate…A visit to a local river view restaurant…

Yesterday afternoon, the view from the restaurant, aptly named, Amazing River View located in Marloth Park.  They appear to have good food at decent prices along with free WiFi.  Guess we’ll be heading that way again one day or evening soon.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Beautiful sunset two evenings ago on our return drive from Komatipoort.

It was on March 28, 2012, that I started a series of many vaccinations as we prepared to travel the world.  The first dose I received is documented here on that long ago date.  Tom started his injections a few months later, work schedule permitting.

Many travelers come to Africa only receiving the required-for-entry Yellow Fever vaccine, preferring to take their chances on many other potentially communicable diseases. 

While seated at Amazing River View restaurant, we zoomed in for a few croc photos while they basked in the warm afternoon sun.

Many residents we’ve asked from South Africa, USA and other parts of the world, have stated they do not get any vaccines or take any malarial prophylactics.  None seem to have contracted any major disease during their time in South Africa.

We took a course of Malarone over the past few weeks (which goes by many different names in many countries) in preparation for our trip to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The final, one pill a day course ends today. 

Cattle egrets love to hang around with large mammals, eating their scrap and insects.

At that point, we’ll be winging it for malaria instead diligently applying repellent with DEET three times a day on all exposed skin. I know, many people object to the use of DEET and suggest we try many other non-chemical repellents.  Unfortunately, after trying many “natural” repellents, we still got mosquitos bites.

Are mosquitoes rampant here in Marloth Park?  Not so much.  Having been here since February which was still summer when we arrived, (summer ends on March 21st in this part of the world), the mozzies weren’t too bad. 

This croc was lounging in the tall grass along the river.

Wearing repellent day and night and by using a variety of candle-lit insect repellents near our feet at night, we seldom are bitten.  Overall in the three and a half months, we’ve been here, I’ve received no more than a dozen bites.  Zero bites would be ideal but not necessarily do-able in this type of climate.

Once we arrived in Africa we knew it was time for booster vaccinations although many, such as Yellow Fever, are only needed once every 10 years or according to Dr. Theo Stonkhorst, is good for life. On Thursday, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for our vaccinations. 

Serene view from the restaurant often includes wildlife sightings.

When I asked Dr. Theo if any of the vaccines contained the preservative Thimerosol to which I have an allergy, he read the accompanying literature but didn’t feel comfortable giving me the vaccines until he verified the ingredients with the drug company that Thimerosol wasn’t included in any of the shots I needed. 

He checked on Friday, leaving me a text message suggesting I return on Monday for my shots when he discovered none of the vaccines contained Thimerosol.

We could hear hippos from this location but they were hidden behind the vegetation.

We’ve decided not to list which vaccines we received other than the typhoid booster.  We feel that decision if best left to your doctor and/or travel clinic.  Age, potential exposure, the location of travels and health conditions play a role in determining which vaccines, if any, other than the required Yellow Fever are appropriate for you.

Tom went ahead and had his vaccines on Thursday. We left the doctor’s office waiting to determine my fate based on the Thimerosol allergy and if, in fact, it is a preservative used in the vaccines. As it turned out, it was not. On Monday at noon, we’ll return to Dr. Theo’s office when I’ll have the balance of my injections.

This fast moving bird made it difficult to get a good photo.  Thanks to our friend Louise in Kauai Hawaii for identifying this bird as an African jacana.

Tom had two injections (each containing a few different vaccines), one in each arm, with no ill effects.  Much to our shock, the bill for the office visit and the vaccines was only ZAR 1700 (US $136.01).  In the US, this cost could have been eight or nine times this amount.

A tiny island of blooming vegetation in the Crocodile River.

As mentioned in several of today’s captions, yesterday we had a great afternoon visiting the restaurant referred to as “Amazing River View” aka Serene Oasis, located on the Crocodile River only five minutes away. 

An Egyptian goose standing on a mossy rock in the river.

We’d intended to do our usual drive in Marloth Park, on which we embark every other day. But, when we drove into the beautiful park where the restaurant is located, looking for a working ATM (both machines at the two shopping centers were “out of service,” most likely out of cash on a Friday) and we saw the restaurant had an ATM, we decided to get cash and enjoy a beverage while overlooking the river.

Once we entered Marloth Park, we spotted a few giraffes close to the paved road.

It was a wise decision.  We had an excellent experience sitting in the outdoor bar where we had perfect views of the river.  By 4:00 pm we were back “home” to finish a few items for our dinner planned for 7:00 pm on the veranda.  It was a great day and evening.

Tonight, Louise, Danie and Louise’s parents are coming for dinner.  We were up early making preparations for the big evening meal, again on the veranda, enjoying the arrival of a wide array of visitors and of course, each other’s company.

Giraffes in the bush shortly before sunset.

To those in the US, have a safe and sound Memorial Day weekend and for everyone elsewhere, you do the same.


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2017:

A year ago today, we arrived in Minnesota for a six-week family visit and rented this SUV.  As a former owner of this model, Tom was thrilled with this new Ford Explorer.  We couldn’t believe all the technology in this rental car, more than any we’ve seen throughout the world. As it turned out we rented this car for the full six weeks for only $50 more than a tiny economy car from this site:  www.rentalcars.com  For more photos including the hotel where we stayed, please click here.

Worrying about ice cubes…

As I hauled out one box after another to our overflowing garbage and recycling bins today, a powerful sense of determination drove me to keep up the pace I had started on Monday.  

Yesterday, I had two more vaccinations; the first in a series of three rabies shot and a single Meningococcal vaccine.  The risks of serious side effects from either of these vaccines are fairly low, although approximately 50% of the population experience mild side effects, including flu like symptoms with a fever and/or redness and itching at the site of injection.

After Tom had these same vaccinations last Friday, he felt lethargic, achy and “out of sorts” (his words) over the weekend.  I guess I feel somewhat the same today.

In any case, I kept myself busy all day, making a trip to the auto repair shop to have a valve stem replaced on a tire, followed by a quick trip to Kohl’s to return an item I’d purchased online. While browsing the store, which I seldom do, I happened across a nifty item for our travels, buying two in the process.  Here it is:

Nifty 32 oz. BPH free drink holder
In looking on the inside of the bottle, there is a  1½” cylinder that holds a gel-like non-toxic item, that can be frozen to keep drinks cold.  While worrying about “safe” ice last weekend, I ordered four ice cube trays with lids to ensure we’d be able to make ice from purified water.  
In discussing our endless list of “habits” we’ll need to break living outside the US, we had struggled with the reality that clean, “safe” ice may be a commodity that we will be forced to include on the “goodbye” list.  

By bringing our own ice cube trays and getting settled at a vacation rental, we will fill them with bottled/purified water to make our own ice.  Every property has a freezer and bottled water for our use.

Also, the ice cube trays with lids will function as jewelry boxes for my earrings, bracelets and necklaces, preventing them from tangling. Since customs in some countries require prescriptions to be in the original bottles, we can each use a tray while situated to contain our weekly medications and supplements, thus preventing the necessity of bringing those bulky 28-day pill cases. 
When I had ordered the ice cube trays online last weekend, I had no idea I’d find these sports bottles that will serve us well for our daily doses of iced tea and water. The iced cube trays will be perfect for Tom’s cocktails.  I couldn’t get home from Kohl’s quickly enough to put the cylinders in the freezer so we could test them tonight with our iced tea.  It took about three hours for them to fully freeze.
Here we sit this evening, enjoying our new bottles of iced tea, knowing that we’ll need two more of these bottles allowing another to freeze while we are using one.  Back to Kohl’s in a few days.

The bottles originally cost $12.99 each.  They were on sale today for $5.99 each.  Today, Wednesday, is Senior Discount Day at 15% off, resulting in paying $10.18 + tax for two, as opposed to what would have been $25.95 + tax.  

While at Kohl’s today I also bought a pair of white KEDs and brown slide sandals.  The KEDs worked out great. But, when I walked around the house in the sandals, they hurt my feet and I will return them. 

The total bill for the bottles and the two pairs of shoes was $51.  Kohl’s was offering their “Kohl’s Cash” today, giving me back a $10 gift certificate that may be used for any purchase within a certain date range that happens to fall into next Wednesday.  

I will return to the store next Wednesday to return the sandals and, while there, use the $10 “Kohl’s Cash,” to purchase the two additional bottles for $5.99 each at a total of $10.18 + tax (once again using the Wednesday Senior Discount), use the “Kohl’s Cash,” pay the remaining $.18 + tax and bring home the additional two bottles.  That’s my kind of deal!

Saturday, feeling better..

Fluish?  Yes. Better? Yes. If I can make it until Monday without the flu-like symptoms worsening, I may be out of the woods from my recent Yellow Fever Vaccine.  

Most side effects of the Yellow Fever Vaccine statistically occur by the 5th day, Monday in my case. The vaccine definitely is doing its job of forcing the body to produce antibodies to Yellow Fever. Experiencing some side effects appears to be good indicator that the vaccine will be effective based on the literature I’ve read over the past month.  

Those with a compromised immune system may not be protected after receiving the vaccine and also run a higher risk of a more serious reaction.

Now, if it doesn’t worsen, I will dispense with any further discussion of my physical state and get back to the discussion of the planning of our upcoming world wide travels. Thanks for “listening.” Happy Saturday night!