Special trail cam sighting…No water today…

Last night’s trail cam photo #1 of the porcupine visiting our garden.

Every morning Tom removes the data card from the trail cam and carefully goes through each photo, looking for something other than warthogs and bushbucks. We see plenty of them during daylight hours. The nocturnal wildlife piques our interest, which was the purpose of purchasing the trail cam many months ago.

Last night, once again, we were gifted with a visit from a porcupine, as shown in these two photos captured by the trail cam. No, they aren’t as clear or bright as we’d like. I tried editing them, but the result was less visible than those posted. Right now, we don’t see a wide variety of wildlife. Mostly, it’s those same warthogs, including Little, about eight bushbucks, Broken Horn, hornbills, and of course, Frank and The Misses.

Last night’s photo #2 of the porcupine.

Don’t get me wrong. We love seeing our “regulars” and respond to their visits with enthusiasm at every opportunity. But, we are limited right now on the number of photos we can offer on each days’ post. We will soon return to Kruger National Park, but we are busy making plans for the future this week, considering our visas expire at the end of October.

After booking flights and places to stay, we will post what we’ve decided to do in the next several days. With the state of the world now, we have many considerations as we watch the increase in Covid-19 cases in most countries, even as more and more become vaccinated. It’s crazy! Why are the numbers going the wrong way?

On occasion, we move Frank’s seeds to the table when other animals try to eat them. He’s content to jump onto the table even when we’re sitting there.

No doubt, we are in a quandary as to where to go next. At this point, we know for sure that we are heading to Howey-In-The- Hills, Florida, in February for dear friends Karen and Rich’s wedding on February 11th. Yesterday, we booked three nights at the resort where the wedding will be held.

At either end of the wedding, Karen and Rich have invited us to stay with them at their house In Apollo Beach, right on the water. It was hard to resist their invitation. After staying with them in 2019 for our three-week visit to Minnesota, we know the four of us have a great time together and can easily live under the same roof.

Handsome Big Daddy stopped by for a visit.

Yesterday, after considerable research, we managed to book a car with Budget in Tampa, Florida, for around ZAR 13411, US $900, which is reasonable for vehicles in the US. In this case, it paid to book as early as possible. Florida is a busy place in the winter months.

Staying with friends and family isn’t always easy. We each have our peculiarities and routines, Tom and I included. But somehow, Karen and Rich have similar routines and habits, making staying together easy and seamless. Plus, we have so much fun together. It’s irresistible! We’re looking forward to spending time with them once again. We plan to be in Florida for about a month.

Old Man also stopped by for a visit and a few pellets.

But, the dilemma now is what we will be doing when the end of October arrives, and our visas expire once again. The more and more research we do, the less confident we feel about traveling to other countries in Africa. Many African countries aren’t reporting Covid cases, nor have they since the onset of the pandemic. It’s a guess to determine which countries are safe and which are not.

Breakthrough cases of vaccinated individuals are rapidly rising worldwide, and the unavoidable reality is…where do we want to be if we become infected? What countries have adequate medical care? Also, we’re not well informed yet whether or not the one jab J & J vaccination was sufficient to provide ample protection. At this point, no medical organization has definitive answers about the necessity of boosters or the long efficacy of the various vaccines.

Hal likes to wander the park with his friend, Old Man.

It is no wonder that so many “vaccine objectors” exist worldwide when information is sketchy and uncertain, with endless exaggerations from social media impacting people’s views. However, we don’t judge others for refusing the vaccine. Each person has the right to choose what is appropriate for themselves and their loved ones.

We chose to be vaccinated based on our desire to continue to travel the world. Only time will tell if our five booked cruises will set sail in 2022 when such awful news is posted daily about Covid cases on cruise ships, even for the vaccinated.

There’s no water pressure today in Marloth Park. Apparently, some thieves ripped off electric cables to run the power for the water plant. As a result, we are without running water at this time. Thank goodness we have bottled water for drinking and hand washing. We’re using pool water to flush the toilets.

May our world become safer in months to come.

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2020:

One year ago, there was no post on this date while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #148, due to my dear sister Susan’s passing.

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 mentioned in a prior post. We might have done the same if we were “regular” tourists visiting Africa for a two-week holiday/vacation.

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.  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 on 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 that we should be re-vaccinated in 2022.

A proud giraffe standing in the bush as we drove past 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 purchased two EpiPens at the local pharmacy, requiring 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 several 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 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 every day that we’ve been able to continue, 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 really make miss morning coffee! 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.

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 reasonable 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.

On March 28, 2012, 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 began 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 infectious 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 primary disease during their time in South Africa.

We took a course on 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 of 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 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 doable 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 ten years or are suitable for life, according to Dr. Theo Stonkhorst. On Thursday, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for our vaccinations. 

The serene view from the restaurant often includes wildlife sightings.

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

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 is best left to your doctor and 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, is 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 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 have the balance of my injections.

This fast-moving bird made it challenging 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 “Amazing River View,” aka Serene Oasis, located on the Crocodile River, only five minutes away. 

An Egyptian goose was 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 entire 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!