Wonderful evening with friends…More socializing ramping up soon…

Tom opened the side burner lid of the braai to find this frog residing in there. He moved her to a safer location before using the burner to heat water for coffee when the power was out.

With friends, Rita and Gerhard arriving in Marloth Park in less than a month and friends Don and Kathy arriving respectively in June and July, our social life will certainly be ramping up over the next several months. Covid-19 certainly has taken its toll on social activities since we arrived almost three months ago and we’re looking forward to the change.

As always, we’ve had loads of good times with Louise and Danie and last night was no exception. We so much love spending time with them and never miss an opportunity to do so. Last night was no exception. We all sat outside on the veranda until 10:00 pm entrenched in lively conversation with many stories to share, making it difficult to end the night.

A few hours later we spotted her sitting atop the edge of the extra tank of gas for the braai.

As it turned out we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and as I often do, I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to return to sleep. Finally, after a few hours, I drifted off and slept until 10:15 am, something I never do. By the time I showered and dressed, and tidied up a bit, it felt as if half the day had passed. It was 11:00 am by the time I finally made my coffee.

Now, with two male bushbucks in the garden, while Frank dines on his seeds on the veranda, it’s fairly hot with the sun shining and high humidity. Tom did all the dishes last night and put everything away this morning. I’ve washed and hung two loads of laundry on the indoor clothes rack. With plenty of leftovers, today will be an easy day.

Ms. Bushbuck was wondering if pellets were coming her way. She wasn’t disappointed.

My only task is getting today’s post uploaded. While in India, I spent the better part of each day going through old posts and making much-needed corrections, I haven’t done any more of these since we arrived in South Africa. I must admit that I’m having a hard time getting back to this daunting task when doing so reminds me of sitting in that hotel room for 10 months in India.

At some point, I will get back to it. At this point, I don’t feel like putting any pressure on myself to get back to this. It’s an amazing feeling to feel unencumbered and free until we have to decide again by June 30th, where we’ll go if President Ramaphosa doesn’t extend visas again for another 90 days, which we’re hoping. It all depends on the scope of Covid-19 at that time. During this pandemic, everything can change on a dime.

We were happy to see bushbuck Torn Ear return to the garden.

We’ve decided to wait until the last minute to make a decision. So far, vaccine distribution is extremely poor in South Africa as cases continue to rise. At some point, if we ever want to cruise again, we will have to return to the US for the vaccine since the likelihood of getting it here is remote.

After careful consideration, most likely we’ll return to our state of residency, Nevada first, get the vaccine, and then head to Minnesota to visit family. But, right now, after checking the availability of the vaccine in Nevada, appointments also appear to be impossible to book. We simply have to wait it out.

Two adorable females. The lower jaw of a buckbuck gyrates in a circular motion when chewing pellets.

Today will be a quiet day, which is always easy to enjoy in the bush. The sights and sounds of nature continue to provide us with considerable entertainment and curiosity. Several times each day, we investigate the facts surrounding some type of sighting or another that happens to appear before us. Each day, in its own way, is a new day rich in experience, full of wonder.

Tomorrow morning, after Tom has the rental car washed, we’ll head to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to return the car we currently have and pick up the next one. It will be about a four-hour turnaround plus any additional time we may spend stopping to shop in Malelane. We’ll certainly make the most out of the outing, later returning to Marloth Park, happy to be back in our favorite place.

Have a fantastic day filled with wonders.

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2020:

Six years ago today, the drive on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Serious travel dilemma…What shall we do?…

Narrow and The Imposter, who imitates Tiny, but Tiny overpowers him, hence the name.

As we approached the seven-day countdown of leaving Marloth Park, we’ve encountered a serious problem. After spending hours online, we cannot find a location in Minnesota where we can get the Covid-19 vaccine, including any-type let alone the Johnson and Johnson single dose, which we’d prefer, that we’ve heard is more effective against the South African variants.

Peter, Paul, and Mary visit us often.

Since Minnesota recently opened up the vaccine for those over 16 years old, including seniors, we didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get the vaccine when we arrived in Minnesota. It looks a little easier in Nevada but that doesn’t help us for the time we’d hoped to spend with family in Minnesota.

Plus, we noticed that Covid tests in the US are US $385, ZAR 5664, per person since we don’t have US insurance. We only have international insurance, which won’t pay in the US. We’d hoped to get tested every few days while in Minnesota visiting family. We’d also hoped to get the vaccine and be tested every few days to be safe when visiting family. But at these prices, it makes no sense to get tested three times a week. That’s outrageous!

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit.

After checking dozens of sites with varying information, we found that the best time to book appointments in Minnesota is between midnight and 4:00 am, their time. This morning, we bolted out of bed in plenty of time to begin the search during their suggested time frame based on the time difference. Nothing was available anywhere in Minnesota

Some sites stated that appointments aren’t booking out any further than April 7th, but even in that case, no appointments were available for any upcoming dates. It’s not looking good.

Encountering giraffes on our way to Jabula for dinner.

Our concerns about infecting our family and/or being quarantined for 10 days after we arrive, make this a very difficult scenario. We’d only planned to stay for 15 days. We are in a tough situation. Many of Tom’s family members, whom we’d see, the majority of which are in their 80s and 90s years. We cannot risk infecting them or even other family members.

Of course, our risks of getting the virus are exponentially higher after traveling for 37 hours, spending over 12 hours waiting in airports, and the remainder of the time spent in flight than one would spend during a one-leg flight. When we arrived in South Africa on January 13th, we’d spent 59 hours in transit.

Zebras prefer to drink from the pool as opposed to the birdbath.

We’d hoped to visit Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, who is a nun in a nursing home, in Milwaukee during our stay. Now, that is entirely off the table. Also, Tom’s eldest brother Jerome is in a nursing facility and the same requirements for visitors are in place. We’d be unable to visit either of these siblings, let alone the others who, as mentioned, are senior citizens as well.

Sure, we should have done more research before booking a return to the US. But, who knew we wouldn’t be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine and also have no choice but to pay these outrageous sums for frequent tests. A test here in South Africa is US $50, ZAR 735.

Tiny, searching along the perimeter of the garden for a possible stray pellet.

Of course, we are in a quandary, unsure, at this point of our next step. We will report back tomorrow, which, by then, definitively, we will have made a more comprehensive decision, safe for all of our family members and ourselves.

These are times of Covid-19. Everything we knew is different than in our old lives. We must proceed with caution and concern for others and for ourselves. As for the visa issue, we are less concerned in that area. The South Africa immigration department has extended all recent visas to June 30, 2021. But, that wouldn’t be an issue beneficial to us since our intent has been to get the vaccine in Minnesota and see family.

Please check back tomorrow!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2020:

There was always a chicken on the beach in Kauai. For more year ago photos, please click here.