No word on the funeral date yet…Tom’s departure up in the air…What about his pending visa extension…

We spotted this leaf insect on the outdoor refrigerator door. The Phasmida (stick and leaf insects) are plant-eating insects, often resembling sticks or broad leaves. They do not have their hindlegs adapted for jumping as in the closely related order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets, and relatives). While there are about 3000 species, only about 30 are leaf insects.

Tom is still waiting to hear from his niece when her father and his brother Jerome’s funeral and memorial service will be held in order to book his round-trip flight to the US. He has to time it correctly to ensure he is still in the US on March 9. the expiration date on our current visas.

If he returns after March 9, which he will, he will receive a new 90-day stamp to reenter South Africa will cancel the requirement for his pending visa extension we did with the law firm in Cape Town. Since I am staying behind, the visa extension will continue as planned. At some point, I’ll have to go to Nelspruit to the immigration office to open the “secret” envelope to determine my new visa extension date.

This morning, I wrote to the law firm to explain the situation and ask if there are any issues we need to be aware of before Tom leaves to ensure there are no surprises. I just heard back from the law firm, and he is good to go. He only needs to bring the receipt we received when we submitted the visa extension a few weeks ago. I found his receipt, which he will place in his passport.

Hopefully, the required exit dates will coincide as to when we will be required to leave South Africa. If those dates are different, which we expect, we will leave together on the earliest date. Fortunately, we haven’t had to book a flight out yet and will do so once we know more. We don’t stress about not knowing. We’ve both become used to having travel plans “up in the air.”

Today in the US, Jerome’s family will meet with the funeral director to arrange the service. With the eight-hour time difference, Tom won’t hear anything until later this evening, most likely after we return home from Jabula. Tom still wants to go about our normal lives while he waits to make plans for his departure to the US.

Leaf mimicry often is elaborate among the leaf insects, with the insects’ wings and legs closely imitating leaf color and form. Female elytra typically resemble, in their vein pattern, the midrib and veins in a leaf. Some species are even adorned with markings that resemble spots of disease or damage, including holes. Nymphs may sway side to side as though mimicking the movement of a leaf in the wind. Leaf mimicry is thought to play an important role in defense against predators. Some species possess rows of tubercles on their antennae that, when rubbed together, produce sounds that may also serve to ward off predators.

Once we know and he books the flight, we’ll head to Komati for a few things I’ll need while he’s away. At this point, we don’t know how long he’ll be gone, but most likely, it will be for a week or more. We shopped last Thursday, and although I won’t fuss over meals for myself, I’ll need a few items to last while he’s away and also for the first few dinners after he returns.

I don’t want Tom to have to grocery shop with me as soon as he returns after over 36 hours of travel time. He always recovers quickly after no sleep on the plane, but we’ve rarely felt like embarking on a big shopping trip right after we return from a long travel period.

Am I concerned about being alone in the bush for eight or ten days and nights? The reason bush houses often have a security system using a security company in Marloth Park is due to several break-ins and attacks at times. But this house has a good alarm system connected to a local service, and a security vehicle could be here in about three minutes.

I will keep the house keys with the emergency key fob in the bedroom. If anything worries me, I’d only have to push the red button to immediately alert the security company to head this way. Plus, that button triggers a loud alarm that won’t shut off until disarmed by the alarm company or me.

As for the animals, I have no fear whatsoever. If the lions show up, I’ll go inside the house. The other animals pose no risk as long as I continue to respect their space as we always do.

I won’t have a car while Tom is away, but Louise and Danie will help as needed, and I’m sure friends at Jabula will ensure I have a ride both ways if I decide to go on Friday or Saturday nights if Tom is still; away. If I don’t need to go to the market, which I won’t, otherwise, I won’t need transportation.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll likely know more and report here accordingly. No words can express the gratitude Tom and I feel over the multitudes of thoughtful condolences expressed by our family, readers/friends on our site and Facebook. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and condolences over losing Tom’s dear brother Jerome.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2022:

Our resident tree frog lives atop this structural post on the veranda. She croaks intermittently during the day but ramps it up at night, communicating with other frogs. For more photos, please click here.

Car rental woes…Video..Wildebeest fighting in the garden…What will we do in 26 days?…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 warthogs – inc Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, One Wart, Narrow
  • 4 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Chewy, Bad Leg,
  •  4 kudus – Bossy, Notches, Mom, and Baby
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 4 Frank and The Misses
  • 1 impala
We were worried for Broken Horn, who was picked on by the three other wildebeests, including Crooked Face. Maybe now, that explains why he often visits alone instead of with “friends.”

It’s windy today. Many animals will hunker down on windy days, either fearful of the wind or anticipating further inclement weather. Does a sunny day like today reassure them that a rainstorm is not necessarily following the winds? Who’s to say how wildlife can determine upcoming temperature when we humans are not good at predicting coming storms with finite accuracy?

The high today will be in the range of 60F, 15.6C, not considered cold in many parts of the world, but for us, after years of hot climates, it feels cold us. It’s still reasonably cool, but we remain outdoors on the veranda. Tonight, we’ll be dining at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with Rita and Gerhard, most likely on the veranda, and will need to dress warmly. I suppose I’ll wear one of my two jackets and most likely, Tom will do the same.

Although the birdbath always has fresh water, some animals still prefer to drink from the pool.

I’m not totally over the recent sickness, still coughing and congested. Fortunately, I don’t feel too bad and don’t hesitate to go out tonight. We hadn’t been to Jabula in two weeks, while I was too ill to go out. So it will be good to get out at long last.

This morning, we called Thrifty Car Rental in Nelspruit to ask if we could keep the rental car until June 30th when we either have to leave the country for our visa stamps or rent another vehicle for 90 days, if President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa provides an additional 90-day visa extension for foreign nationals.

A young kudu suckling in the bush.

The condition under which we can avoid returning the car on June 11th for an inspection, one of Thrifty’s goofy rules, is to take photos and videos of the interior, the odometer, and the car’s exterior, date stamped and sent them to the manager in Nelspruit. If the manager approves the photos on that date, Tom won’t return the car until June 30th. That will save him half a day in both driving and time at the facility at the airport. Then, a week from today, we’ll take the photos and forward them to the manager. Hopefully, he’ll approve.

As our regular readers are aware, one of two scenarios has to transpire in 26 days. When Cyril extended visas last time, allowing us to stay until June 30th, the announcement wasn’t made until two days before our visa expiration date. If this happens again, we will be thrilled not to have to leave.

In any case, we will have to be prepared to leave South Africa on June 30th if the new extension is not issued and we have to high-tail out of here, fully packed. So we have made a decision, after weeks of contemplation and conversations, that if the visa extension is not issued, we will use our still-in-place flight to the US on June 30th.

It’s not unusual to see the hornbills eating Frank and Misses’ seeds and drinking their water while on the veranda.

We’ll stay for a total of approximately three weeks, including family visits in Minnesota, Wisconsin (Tom’s sister), and Nevada (son Richard). In the process, if we haven’t yet been vaccinated in South Africa, we will be immunized in Minnesota since two weeks must pass after vaccination to be allowed to visit Tom’s sister in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is currently in a nursing facility.

Regardless of this, we will have to completely pack up this house and move out on June 30th, allowing Louise to rent it to others while we’re gone. It makes no sense for us to pay for this house and hotels, meals, and car rentals in the US, which are expensive.

No doubt, it’s frustrating to have to entirely pack up this house toward the end of the month when we aren’t sure yet that we’ll be leaving until the visa announcement is made, if it is, at all. We are so organized and settled in here, I’m dreading the packing, but in reality, I could accomplish this in one day if I had to.

Two or three hornbills will loudly peck on the glass of the dining room window for hours. At times, they give up and go peck on the rental car windows. But, most likely, they are interacting with their reflection in the glass. It’s hilarious!

Days before the “big” packing, we’ll both pack bags with items we’ll need in the US. Then the filling of the balance will begin, including all our food, food supplies, toiletries, clothing, etc. Louise and Danie will store everything for us while we’re gone. We don’t see any other way to do this.

Last time, the visa extension occurred before we began packing, and then, when the visa extension announcement was made, we decided to stay. This time, we’ll be a little more proactive and get as much done ahead of time as possible. Of course, it will be easier for us to get the vaccine in the US, with many walk-in locations now available, even without an appointment.

No, I don’t like not knowing. I am a planner. But, in this case, this time, we may not have many options. We’d considered visiting other countries, but, bottom line…we need to get a vaccine. If we can get it here before June 30th, everything may change. But, it’s in our hands, hearts, and minds to decide what ultimately will be the best for us. We can decide, last minute, if we so choose.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2020:

Mumbai cyclone
This is the first such storm to hit Mumbai in over 100 years. Dark clouds hang over the city ahead of cyclone Nisarga making landfall in Mumbai. For more photos, please click here.

Life in the bush continues…It’s never dull…

Young kudu male scratching an itch.

As usual, we’re situated on the veranda. It’s surprisingly cool today, so cool a hoodie might be appropriate. It rained all night and is occasionally sprinkling now with very cloudy skies. We don’t mind a bit. Generally, this weather keeps the visitors away when they hunker down in the parklands undercover, often in large groups of their “own kind.”

So far this morning, the only visitors we’ve had were Frank and Friends and a single male bushbuck. Apparently, during the night, the thick-tailed bushbaby came by when one of the chairs at the big table was covered in bushbaby poop, as well as on the floor of the veranda. In bad weather, we don’t leave out any treats for her.

We were driving down Rissik St. In Komatipoort, a 20-minute drive from Marloth Park.

It doesn’t appear we’ll be able to take many photos today, although we still have many left from sunny and less-rainy days that we’ll continue to share until warm sunny days return. Based on the weather reports, it could be many days until this stormy period ends.

Last night, when Cyril Ramaphosa spoke during his weekly presidential talk regarding Covid-19, he lessened some restrictions taking South Africa from a Level 3 lockdown to Level 2. As a result of this change, the liquor ban has now been lifted, and liquor stores will be open in the next few days while restaurants will be able to serve alcohol to diners. We’ll be heading out to purchase our preferred beverages.

Farmers were offering their produce at an open market.

There are day and time restrictions that will remain in place regarding alcohol, such as liquor stores can only be open from Monday to Thursday, and restaurants will have to stop serving alcohol after 8:00 pm. That doesn’t necessarily make sense, but who’s to say what makes sense during times of Covid-19?

In addition, Cyril announced that millions of vaccine doses would arrive over the next several months. It appears we may be able to get the jab at some point within the next six to nine months. In the interim, we’ll continue to exercise caution when so few people are wearing masks, wearing masks properly as shown in the photo below, or making any effort to social distance.

There are numerous lower-cost markets in Komatipoort that many locals frequent. Note the typical mask-wearer with the mask below their nose.

With February here, it’s time for us to start thinking about where we’ll go when we leave South Africa for our visa stamps, allowing us another 90 days. At this point, we have to leave by April 9, 2021, a few days short of 90 days. We won’t be staying a full 90 days because the car rental places in Nelspruit at the airport are closed on the weekends.

Subsequently, we’ll have to arrange our comings and goings accordingly, never arriving at the NespruitMpumalanga/Kruger airport on the weekend. With our target departure date of April 9, we seriously need to start booking our departure plans. In reviewing options, only certain countries that will accept us arriving from South Africa, with its variant Covid-19 strains,

A young kudu male was wondering what was on the menu today.

Numerous countries have restrictions that won’t work for us. Thus, we’ve decided traveling to Tanzania non-stop from Johannesburg might be our best bet. All required is that we have a negative Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours of our arrival. This is doable.

Handsome young face.

As for where in Tanzania we’ll go, what we’ll do, and where we’ll stay, we are looking into our options now. Tanzania has numerous options that appeal to us. Once we pin something down, we’ll certainly share it here.

Female kudu checking on what we’re doing that might impact her.

When Zef came to clean the house, we headed out to pick up bananas for the wildlife. At no cost, a local woman at a lovely home on the river has piles of bananas delivered from the banana farms and freely shares them with locals interested in feeding the wildlife. Tomorrow, we’ll report with photos of who stopped by to partake in our bananas.

A forkl of kudus, including a few young males and several females, one of whom may be his mother.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2020:

One of the two dining cars on the Maharajas Express Train, which we boarded one year ago today. For more, please click here.

Ratcheting up the research…Holidaymakers moving in…Piglets in the pond!…

Mom and the piglet are enjoying the cement pond on a hot day.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is “Little” on his usual mission of getting our attention to come outside and give him some pellets. If we don’t respond, he enters the house. Very funny!

Our one year in Marloth Park is rapidly coming to a close. We’ve decided to spend one night, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, in Nelspruit to avoid early morning traffic on the 15th, the day we must exit South Africa. It’s hard to believe in 71 days, and we’ll be leaving Marloth Park to drive to Nelspruit for the flight to Nairobi, Kenya, departing early the following morning.

If you missed our story as to why we must leave on the 15th as opposed to the planned February 20th initially, please click here for yesterday’s post. It’s all clearly explained there.

As it turns out, we won’t have to travel on my birthday after all and will spend it doing something exceptional while in Kenya. Details will follow once we get everything booked.

Mom warthog gets into the cement pond to cool off.  Now, the piglets follow her.

Speaking of bookings, we need to get to work now that we have a definitive answer on our immigration status. We’d left many loose ends in the itinerary, and the time has come to get these items booked.

With the ongoing power outages, spending time online is tricky. By the time we manage photos and prepare and upload the day’s post, the power goes out again, usually for 2½ hours. During these periods, we have no internet access.

According to the Eskom load shedding schedule, the power should be out about 7½ hours every 24 hours. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, the schedule isn’t precise, and often a time slot for an outage is ignored, and we have full power and WiFi. Go figure.  

Piglets were climbing out of the cement pond.

We’re managing to work around it, as are other residents throughout this country, not just here in Marloth Park. With the continuing heat and humidity, it’s even more uncomfortable when we can’t use a fan, especially when our surroundings are still and windless, resulting in a long 2½ hours.

But this is Africa, and we’re making the best of it, planning social events, cooking our meals, dining out with friends (tonight with Uschi and Evan, tomorrow with Rita and Gerhard), and attempting to ignore the inconveniences.

The holidaymakers are beginning to filter into the park now as we see more and more vehicles on the roads each day. Soon, every holiday rental and most bush homes will be filled, the noise will ensue, underage kids will be driving vehicles in this relatively un-policed area, and maniacs will be driving fast on Olifant Street (the paved road), killing the precious wildlife.

With the heat evaporating the water in the pond, between cleanings, Tom refills it for easy access for wildlife being able to reach for a drink.  So far, the only animals we’ve seen enter the pond are the warthogs.

No pun intended…it’s the nature of the beast. Not everyone who comes to stay in Marloth Park possesses the love and respect for this magical place, its rules, and its wildlife. This is so sad and disheartening.

Among the rest of us dedicated to this paradise, we’ll continue to respect the laws and treat the wildlife with dignity and respect. We’ve heard tales of humans feeding wildlife marshmallows, potato chips, and other human junk food. If it’s not good for us, why would we assume it’s good for them?

During this Christmas season, as in the past six years, we don’t have a tree, wrap gifts, bake cookies, or plan holiday parties, although we’ll attend a few. I’ll bake some treats to share at Christmas and make a few special items for Tom’s upcoming birthday on December 23rd.

Back onto the dirt, everyone is cooler and refreshed.

I’d considered a party or get-together for his birthday, but he reminded me how busy a time it is for everyone else with their usual holiday festivities. To burden others with a party the day before Christmas Eve was unfair. I relented, and we decided to make it a party for two.

This leaves us plenty of time in December to get to work booking the following for our upcoming travels:

  • Hotel in Kenya for seven nights, arriving February 15, 2019, and departing for the booked photography tour on February 22, 2019  (tour ended on March 7, 2019
  • Flight from Nairobi to Santiago, Chile on March 8, 2019
  • Transportation from Santiago, Chile to San Antonio, Chile (the location of the cruise port) 
  • Hotel in Santiago, Chile from March 8, 2019, to March 24, 2019, when our 15-night cruise departs from San Antonio, Chile, and sails to San Diego, California
  • Flight from San Diego, California to Minneapolis, Minnesota* on April 8, 2019
  • Rental car in Minnesota from April 8, 2019, to April 25, 2019
  • Flight from Minnesota to Fort Lauderdale to board the next cruise to Copenhagen on April 25, 2019, cruise departed on April 26, 2019
  • Flight from Copenhagen to Dublin, Ireland on May 12, 2019
  • Rental car in Dublin, Ireland on May 12, 2019, and drive to Connemara, Ireland, where we’ll stay in a holiday home until August 9, 2019 (booked and deposit paid)
    Two giraffes were walking along a dirt path in the park.

*The hotel in Minnesota is already booked and partially paid, with the balance due upon arrival.

This covers our booking needs for the next eight months. Once we’ve put all of this together, we’ll update and fine-tune our spreadsheet with all the new expenses.
I hope you have a spectacular Wednesday!

Photo from one year ago today, December 5, 2017:

In Pisco, Peru, this pelican was trained to entertain tourists as the man passed around a cup. For more photos, please click here.

There’s always a recipe for a solution…Cost and convenience are often the vital ingredients…

This fluffy little one captured our hearts.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Baby zebra are sticking close to mom during nighttime activities.

I don’t know where to begin. It’s a convoluted story of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and rampant incompetency in one manner or another. My intent is not to bash South Africa’s governmental procedures. 

Instead, I reach out to you, our valued and loyal worldwide readers, to share our story and to alert those of you who may consider a long-term stay in this country.

Don’t get me wrong…we’re grateful for the exquisite almost 10 months we’ve spent in the country in this isolated little world of paradise in the bush, Marloth Park.  

It’s not like this everywhere in the country, animals roaming free as one might expect countrywide. There are conservancies, game reserves, national parks, and designated wildlife areas for that.  

The dry bush will brighten once the rainy season takes off.

The uniqueness of Marloth Park was the motivator for us to visit and subsequently return this past February. Our future itinerary has us returning in about two years from now, but only for the allowed 90 days, no more. We never want to deal with immigration issues again.

I won’t reiterate the beginning of the story and the massive pile of documents we prepared to accommodate a request for a visa extension to February 20, 2019, the day we’d been advised to book a flight out of here to Nairobi, Kenya, for our next adventure. If you’ll click this link here, that portion of the story is told in its entirety.

But, it was the culmination of the complicated process that hovered in our minds as we wondered as to the outcome since September when we first applied, as it turned out, way too early, upon advice from others and ended up starting all over again on October 24th when we returned to Nelspruit the second time to apply.

While there in September, a rep made a handwritten notation on our document copy that we were to return on October 24th (still have this document), giving ample time for the file to be reviewed and meeting our planned departure date of February 20, 2019.

Waterbucks grazing by the river’s edge.

Part of the application process required two departing South Africa-airline tickets for ZAR 15461 (US $1132) for that date which we purchased at the time of making the first application in September.

Stay with me. We’re getting there. When we returned on October 24th, going through all the forms with the reps at the VFS Immigration office, we were told everything was in order. We were told to start checking online after three weeks to see when the response would be ready.

For those of you who read the prior posts, we indicated we’d have to appear once again once the notification indicated we were ready to see the answer in a sealed envelope, which we’d open in front of the immigration rep.  

If we didn’t like the answer, the only available process was to reapply once again. This was not an option for us. Our visas had already expired on November 21st.  We weren’t in a particularly good position for “negotiating,” which, in any case, is not a part of the process regardless of circumstances.

A lone giraffe was munching on treetops.

We took off for Nelspruit yesterday morning, typically a 75 to 90 minutes drive where many trucks and vehicles jockey for space on the highway. We were told to arrive anywhere between 10:00 am and 1500 hours (3:00 pm).  

Once we were “scanned” by the security guard, we entered the waiting area, lined up several rows of chairs. All the seats were filled, and we had to wait, standing, in the back of the chairs section. As each person was called, everyone in the chairs moved over to the next available chair, kind of like a musical chairs thing.

Much to our surprise, the line moved more quickly than during our two other visits.  Within 40 minutes, we were standing at the counter awaiting our news.  Tom was handed his sealed envelope first. Gingerly, he opened the envelope and immediately we were bost aghast. He was granted an extension but only until February 15th.

We have paid our rent here to February 20th, paid for a rental car to February 20th, and paid for the two airline tickets for February 20th. We tried to explain that it was their manager who’d told us to return on October 24th, allowing us ample time for the requested February 20th departure date.

Waterbucks live close to the river, grazing on its green lusher vegetation than in other areas of the bush, where everything is dried up during this year’s low-rain period.

We even showed her the handwritten notes she’d made on the document telling us to return on October 24th. She dismissed this written statement saying what she wrote was irrelevant. The government’s decision is all that matters, regardless of the number of days.

Then the weirdest thing happened.  I opened my envelope and was given until February 21, 2019. Our files were linked as a married couple. Why the six-day difference? All kinds of thoughts ran through our heads. No matter what we said, the only option they suggested was to start all over.  

There was no way we were going to pay the fees ZAR 3500 (US $256) again and start over the lengthy and detailed paperwork process, all the while taking the risk that nothing would change.

We walked out the door, neither of us talking, and made our way to the parking ramp, thoughts racing through our heads. On the return drive, we reviewed our options, but Tom, bordering on “overly grumpy,” was more engrossed in his driving in traffic than a lengthy discussion over our options.

On Sunday night, while situated on the veranda, speaking on Skype with my dear friend Karen in Minnesota, a dazzle of zebras appeared.

Instead of pressing him, I wrote the text for yesterday’s post on an offline app on my phone, determined to get it uploaded before the power went out due to “load shedding” again at 1500 hours (3:00 om).  

As soon as we returned, I immediately got to work on the post, albeit with less than my usual enthusiastic demeanor. Miss Overly Bubby wasn’t in. I rushed to get it done, but the power went out earlier than expected, and I couldn’t upload it until after 1730 hours (5:30 pm). Sorry for the delay.

At 5:30, we set up the veranda for the evening, made ourselves a “sundowner,” and sat down to discuss our options. They included the following:

  • Reapply and start the entire process all over again with no guarantees. We tossed this idea out the window.
  • Tom could leave and go to Kenya on the 15th while I stayed alone in Marloth Park, using one of the two non-refundable flights from Nelspruit to Nairobi on February 20th (my birthday). This raised many questions: hotel for Tom, transportation for me to the airport, being alone for the five nights until February 20th when I could depart, traveling apart, handing luggage…and on and on.  We tossed this idea out the window.
  • The rep told us Tom could go to Mozambique by car and see if he could end up with the extra five days. This was a very risky idea. When would he go? He could easily have ended up with no more than what he has or even less, depending on what transpired at the border.  We tossed this idea out the window.
  • We could try to get some form of credit from the airline to change our travel day to February 15th, change our end-of-rental date to February 15th, change our car rental period to February 15 and clear out of South Africa. We decided this was our only option, with both departing on February 15th, regardless of the cost or inconvenience.
There was a total of nine zebras, including the baby.

Immediately, we got to work on on our website to see what we could first accomplish with the tickets. In all these six years of world travel, we’ve never canceled or changed a single flight. Somehow the preplanning has always worked for us.

We knew that flights were non-refundable but never encountered an opportunity or desire to change a flight.  The website offered such an opportunity, and for a total of ZAR 2156 (US $159), we changed our tickets to February 15th.  We were relieved.

We want to book hotel accommodations in Kenya which we’ll do this month. Not having done so was one more minor step to handle. From here, we’ll see about our rent and early return of the rental car, both of which should save us a little more to apply to the added cost of the extra five days in Kenya.
Whew! What a relief! Drama averted. Immigration issues are averted, and a massive lesson learned: When we return to South Africa in years to come, we’ll only stay 90 days. Period.
Preoccupied with my phone call, I couldn’t get a photo of all nine at once.

We skated through the first three 90-day periods by leaving the country twice to travel to Zambia to get another 90-day visa each time. We just weren’t able to pull it off the third time. These two one-week trips cost us upwards of ZAR 111628 (US $8232).  Surely if we’d tried traveling out the country once again, we’d have incurred similar costs with no guaranty on the ability to return.

And so it goes. We’re good again. Cheerful, but hot in the temps above 40C (104F). And, we’re back in sync with our otherwise pleasing lifestyle and of course, with one another.

Today, we’ll lay low in the heat and humidity, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Happy, healthy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, December 4, 2017:

Children were playing at the beach with views of colorful fishing vessels in Pisco, Peru. These boats remind us of the colorful fishing boats in Negara, Bali. (See that link here). For more details from the one year ago post, please click here.

Immigration day from hell…Solutions rolling around in our minds…More tomorrow…

She was reaching for the treetops.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Three very young impalas in the bush.

It would have been easy to sit down and pen today’s post if the South Africa immigration issue had been resolved as we’d hoped. The realities of world travel dictate that sometimes, things don’t go as we’d hoped. Attitude adjustments are in constant flux.

Unfortunately, this morning’s trip to the immigration office in Nelspruit didn’t go well after we’d received the online notice to appear, and we are in a quandary as to how to proceed from here. Our options are few. Our frustrations are many.
Giraffes are fortunate during the dry season.  There’s no competition for the leaves in the treetops.

Due to a myriad of ill advice, government incompetence, bureaucracy, and inconsistency, today’s visit to the immigration office was both frustrating and disappointing.

When we returned to the house a short time ago facing another power shutdown in the next half hour, I felt rushed and out-of-sorts to write an upbeat article about life in the bush.

Instead, I apologize for a less-than-cheerful rendition of where we’re at the moment and where we’ll be in months to come based on today’s outcome.

Cheeks filled with vegetation.

Inconvenience coupled with unexpected expenses is a bitch. My usual overly bubbly self continues to nudge me into settling down and seeing the bright side.  Isn’t there always some semblance of a bright side in these kinds of situations?

Good grief, I’m not implying there’s any modicum of a bright side in lousy health, injury, and personal loss, although some special people manage to find a means to rebound regardless of strife.

But, when it comes to business-type situations and functions of daily life, generally speaking, there are lessons to be learned that may prepare us for the “next time.” We need to hold on to those lessons!
Giraffe along the road.

I need to settle down for the remainder of the day as we discuss our options to come up with a suitable plan that we can live with. By no means is this situation untenable, nor a significant crisis. It’s more annoying than anything. We’ll get over it.

But, for today, I must reserve going into the details until such time in the next 24-hours that we’ve had an opportunity to review our options and come to a logical and practical solution.

We’ll be back with a much more enlightened demeanor by tomorrow’s post. For tonight, we’ll still enjoy another warm night on the veranda, loving our wildlife friends with their playful and entertaining antics.

Have a pleasant evening!

Photo from one year ago today, December 3, 2017:

It was an evening “chic” night, and we entered the elevator with other passengers. One of the passengers grabbed my camera off my shoulder and shot these “feet photos.”  We all howled when this occurred, and here’s the funny photo! For more photos, please click here.

Next trip planned for visa 90-day visa stamp…Off to Kruger to see old friends…

Mongooses stay close to one another, often seen grooming and cuddling one another.

“Sighting of the Day in The Bush”

We love all the wildlife in Marloth and Kruger Parks, but baboons are our least favorite. They are intelligent and destructive, as are the Vervet monkeys mentioned in yesterday’s post that entered our house. Baboons are much more robust and larger than Vervet monkeys.

Today’s post will be done quickly! At 9:00 am, we’re taking off for Kruger National Park to meet up with friends Cathi and Rick from Kauai, Hawaii. This will be the first time we’ll see them since early 2015 when we spent four months on the island making new friends over the extended period, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch with.

Waterbucks are often found along the Crocodile River, frequently accompanied by a cattle egret who feeds off their “leftovers.”

Our original plan was to meet Cathi and Rick in Lower Sabie at noon, but we received a message last night asking if we could make it by 11:00 am instead. As usual, getting up early, I felt determined to get today’s post done and uploaded before leaving at 9:00 am. 

As of this writing, I have about one hour to rush through and get it done. If you spot errors, please bear with us. We’ll correct them upon our return later in the day. 

One of our most frequent visitors is the bushbuck, more often females than males. The females, without antlers, are gentle and graceful. It has been reported that male bushbucks can attack hunters when provoked and cause severe injury or death.

One may ask, “Why not do the post when we return?” This makes sense, but we don’t expect to return until 4:00 pm or so, and at that point, we’ll have to make dinner and set up the veranda for  our usual “night-time watching.” 

Neither of us likes to rush. We’re always the early birds. Our friends Kathy and Don asked, “Why are you always the first ones to arrive?”

Male bushbucks are cautious around humans and seldom relax in our presence.  This particular male feels comfortable that we aren’t seen as a threat and often lounges in the yard.

The answer to this question easily falls into our continuing plan of avoiding stress in our lives of world travel. Rushing last minute creates stress. As a result, we make every effort, regardless of the circumstances, to either being right on time or a few minutes early, when possible.

Often, we arrive at airports a half-hour before necessary, which is an environment that can be wrought with stress and frustration. We’d rather quietly wait for an event to begin than be rushing, under stress, to get out the door. We’d instead grab a beverage at a Wi-Fi restaurant and relax waiting for our flight than staring at the clock, worrying we won’t be on time.

A wildebeest is a rare visitor to our yard. 

Speaking of airports, on Friday, we paid for and booked our next trip out of South Africa on August 16th, the last day of our 90-day visa, which we’ll need to renew to stay in South Africa.

As explained in prior posts, South Africa doesn’t allow foreigners to visit any surrounding countries to re-enter for a new visa stamp. It’s vague in the law if even leaving for a non-bordering country entitles a visitor to re-enter for a unique 90-day visa (for some passports, not all). 

The recent full moon.

A few weeks ago, we found we were able to re-enter immigration at the airport in Nelspruit for a new 90-day visa when we’d gone to Zambia for multiple tours (Victoria Falls, Chobe, Zambezi River) for a period of one week.

If we’d gone to another country requiring going through immigration in Johannesburg, we might not have been allowed to re-enter. Our best bet was the small airport in Nelspruit, which only has one direct international route to Zambia…was our best bet. 

Hornbills spend considerable time visiting especially when they love spending time feeding on our bird feeder. It appears she has a seed in her mouth.

Based on our particular circumstances, we decided we’d have no choice but to return to Zambia to fly out of and back into Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger Airport. We’ve accepted this reality along with the cost necessary for yet another similar trip.

We’re leaving on August 16th and returning on August 23rd. We got a  great deal on a package with Expedia on our site for a total cost of the roundtrip flight for both of us, including a week-long stay at the same hotel (which we found to be quite good) for a total of ZAR 21,946 (US $1680), less than we paid last time.

What will we do again in Zambia? More tours. When we only spent the morning in Chobe National Park, we were sorely disappointed when the safari ended. We longed to see more. This will be our opportunity to return to this special place which over 30,000 elephants make their home.

The mating season continues.  Warthogs hang around with females and their offspring with high hopes.  The males make a train-like sound when they feel particularly amorous.

We’ll have no shortage of ways to stay busy when four countries come together at the Zambezi River in Zambia. We’ll plan everything once we arrive.

For now, we can sit back and relax and continue to enjoy our next few months until we have to figure this out one more time in November. In February, after the next 90 days, we’ll be off to Kenya, not needing a visa extension again.

With time moving on here, I need to wrap this up. Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll have plenty of great photos to share from today’s self-drive through Kruger. Once again, we feel the anticipation and excitement of going into Kruger, especially when we have the opportunity to see old friends.

Have a fantastic day! 

Photo from one year ago today, June 10, 2017:

One year ago, tonight was Minnesota, “Meet & Greet,” where we had an opportunity to meet some of our Minnesota readers and other friends. It was a great night.  For that post: “Marie and Bill started following us at the beginning of our posts which started in March 2012. It was Marie who inspired the fabulous idea of the “Meet & Greet.” Thanks, Marie and Bill!  It was wonderful to meet you in person at long last and fun to meet another couple who are “glued at the hip” like us!” For more photos from the event, please click here.

Immigration status resolved…We’re flying out of the country…Check out our year ago photo!!!

This mom and her calf are our neighbors in this gated community of Roco Verde.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Great Kiskadees visit each day.

We knew we’d have an immigration issue to resolve once we’d decided to stay in Costa Rica until we fly to Miami, where we’ll spend one night to then board a 30-night cruise to South America on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017. 

Costa Rica allows US citizens 90 days in their country. The best solution for us based on the strict requirements for a visa extension, leaving the country and coming back in seemed like the best solution. However, we’d research other options while in the country.

Thus, we had to decide which country to visit for two nights, staying in a hotel not too far from the airport and yet in an excellent location to ensure we’d take advantage of the situation and have a great time.

Rooster in the neighborhood with several hens and chicks.

With October 31st, our fifth anniversary of traveling the world on the horizon, this short two-night “get-away” could easily be considered an opportunity to celebrate this special date. This won’t be the first time we booked a few nights away for our annual event.

When we flew from Nevada to Costa Rica on August 1st, immigration requires an exiting flight within 90 days. So at that time, we picked a “cheap” flying on the 89th day to Managua, Nicaragua, never sure we’d use it if we found other immigration options where we’d be able to extend the 90 days.

After considerable research, our best option was to use that flight we’d already booked to Managua, book a two-night stay in a hotel in Managua, and return to Atenas.

Last Saturday, there was a carnival at Supermercado Coopeatenas.

In addition, it was time to book the flight to Miami on November 22nd. Unfortunately, with all that’s tragically transpired in Florida this past week, it could be difficult, if not impossible, to book a flight to Miami the day before Thanksgiving.

We got to work. We research all our options using the links for Expedia and on our site simultaneously on each of our computers. We often find varying prices for flights and hotels when researching using our laptops, based on cookies that may have been set on previous searches. (Sometimes it pays to delete the cookies, and other times it does not).

Here’s what we found and subsequently booked (includes fares for both of us):

October 28, 2017 – US $128.70 (CRC 74,358) – Flight (nonstop) from San Jose Costa Rica to Managua Nicaragua
October 28, 2017 – US $199.84 (CRC 115,460) – Hotel – (Two nights including complimentary breakfast)) – Real Intercontinental Hotel Managua at MetroCenter Mall
October 30, 2017 – US $179.42 (CRC 103,662) Flight (nonstop) from Managua Nicaragua to San Jose Costa Rica
November 22, 2017 – US $246.42 (CRC 142,372) – Flight (nonstop) from San Jose Costa Rica to Miami, Florida (We’d already booked the hotel in Miami for one night some time ago).

Adults and kids were having a good time at the carnival.

We’re thrilled with the hotel and its pricing for this five-star property in Managua and also the fact it’s located in a popular upscale mall. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of great restaurants and enough to see over the two-night stay. 

We are equally pleased with the pricing on the flight to Miami in November, primarily based on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which often results in pumped-up airline pricing. 

Sure, meeting the immigration requirement of leaving Costa Rica will cost us a total of US $507.96 (CRC 293,479) plus meals and taxis estimated at another US $200 (CRC 115,552), but we’re OK with this. It was better than the alternative and provided us with a mini-vacation for our fifth anniversary in yet another country.

Baskets of food were being raffled for charity.

Suppose we hadn’t extended our stay in Costa Rica to accommodate the upcoming 30-night cruise on November 23rd. In that case, we’d have had to spend 25 extra days in Florida, which would have cost us a lot more than we’re paying for this outstanding villa and the two flights and hotel in Nicaragua. 

Today, a very cloudy and overcast day, we’re staying in, making a great dinner with enough for three nights while we’ll continue to research plans. The hummingbirds are going nuts over the sugar water, and we’re as content as we could be.

May your day bring you contentment as well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2016:

Big Buffalo was not happy to see Tom again, coming out of the water to show his displeasure. (He’d quickly went out of the water when he saw Tom standing up by the cabana at our villa). As soon as Tom sat back down, he backed up into the water and sat back down. This occurred several times. We have more photos here!

Is this life easy?…Not so much…Figuring out visas for Costa Rica…

Mountain views from every highway in Las Vegas and Henderson.

If anyone reading our site gets the impression that is traveling the world results in a life of leisure and the sensation of “always being on vacation/holiday,” we need to do a better job of describing our reality.

There’s nothing easy about it except for those special days we’re by the sea, aboard a ship, or lounging poolside in a tropical location.  And, even those days aren’t what one might construe as always easy.

Just like you, we shop, we cook, we wash dishes, we clean up after ourselves, we make the bed, do the laundry (more days of the year than not) and take care of banking and financial matters.

When one might imagine life on a desert island with the shore lapping at their toes, drinking blue cocktails with tiny umbrellas neatly situated on the rim of the tall iced glass, a local citizen fanning them with palm leaves, one may be dreaming.

Rolling hills and mountains surround the Las Vegas Valley.

Sure, from time to time, we’ve had such experiences, and even for us, they were fun and fleeting and unrealistic over the long haul.  But, that type of lifestyle was never our intent when we began this adventure so long ago. 

We longed for culture, nature, wildlife, and rich experiences that would shape who we are and the remainder of our years. For us, that wasn’t to be found in a blue drink or locals attending to our every need. 

Oh, we’ve enjoyed the meals cooked for us, the bed is made, the laundry is washed, hung to dry, and neatly folded. But, that type of lifestyle leaves us feeling immobile, inactive, and essentially bored with our lack of activity.

Performing daily household tasks adds a certain degree of focus upon which we both seem to thrive. Here in Henderson, Nevada, after months of not shopping for groceries, cooking meals, and cleaning, we’ve begun to meld back into the reality that both of us seem to need to thrive.

Golden Barrell Cactus, shared in this part of the US.

This morning at 8:00 am, I was out the door, driving to Smith’s Market for enough groceries to last for the next few days. Deciding on what to prepare for meals seems to provide me with a sense of purpose and connection to the “everyday” aspects of life that ultimately add to our universal experiences, even while here in the USA, in the land of abundance.

One need only conceive of an idea for a meal, peruse a recipe or conjure up a special meal to quickly find every possible required ingredient readily available at the local market. Even grass-fed meat and organic produce are at a finger’s reach.

In many countries, we had no choice but to alter recipes or decide on quick and easy meat and veg meals based on the available ingredients in local markets. 

In many cases, the small markets had only one aisle of possible options with no fresh meat (frozen only), questionable vegetables, and a mishmash of dairy items. Somehow, in each case, we never went hungry, always utilizing that which was available.

Beavertail Cactus is also ubiquitous in US deserts.

As our readers are well aware, we always figure out household tasks regardless of where we may be at any given time. Of course, there’s all the rest besides managing our day-to-day lives, including figuring out such items as visa requirements, currently on our minds, as we near the time to leave for Costa Rica in 16 days.

Costa Rica may provide a 90-day visa at the airport for US citizens if asked. We won’t forget to ask, I assure you. However, it’s of utmost concern to provide proof of a booked flight out of the country by the 90th day. 

Since we’re staying an additional 24 days while we await an upcoming cruise, once again, we have to figure out how we’ll get approved for the extra days. When calling the Costa Rica Embassy in Washington DC, we got the runaround. They said we need to apply at a local immigration office while in their country.

They won’t accept a booked flight as adequate at the airport if it’s scheduled for over 90 days out if the applicant doesn’t already have an extension. We can’t get an extension until we’re there. Do you see the dilemma?

Segura Cactus.

When inquiring to the property managers for the property we’re renting, they suggested we book a flight out of Costa Rica within 90 days and figure out the rest after we arrive. 

Yesterday, we did this. We booked a one-way flight to Managua, Nicaragua, for the 89th day. If we find we can stay out of the country for two or three days and come back to Costa Rica without incident, we’ll spend a few nights at a hotel in Managua and return to Costa Rica after that. 

Besides, this might be a fun side trip, especially when we may be there during our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, which is on October 31st. We’ll see how it all rolls out once we arrive. 

If we discover we can stay longer by applying at the local immigration office, we’re OK with losing the cost of the non-refundable one-way flight for both of us, which was $128.70. That’s considerably less than we’ll spend if we stay three or four nights in a hotel. We’ve already been to Nicaragua in the early days of our travel.

San Pedro Cactus…please correct me if wrong.

That’s it for today, folks.  It’s Sunday, already 100F (38C) with an expected high of only 108F (42C) with a cooling trend for the upcoming week with high temperatures expected to range from 98F (37C) to 106F (41C). Nice, eh?

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2016:

Tom, situated in his rickshaw as we meandered down the busy streets of Phnom Penh. It was a hot, humid, and a very bumpy ride. For more details, please click here.

Day 4…Circumnavigation of the Australian continent aboard RC Radiance of the Seas…Wine drinking…

The sun is setting over the industrial area at the port of Brisbane.

“Sighting on the Cruise in Australia”

Interesting metal “chair” art.

It’s already Day 4 on this Australian cruise. It’s a sea day today and tomorrow resulting in a flurry of activity in all areas of the ship as passengers mull around partaking in every possible activity and venue.

At the moment we’re situated in the Latte Tudes coffee shop overlooking the Centrum, a central area with lots of seating where passengers flock to listen to presentations, dance, drink, and commiserate.

We’d love to be able to sit in that area while preparing the post but the seating isn’t adequate for working on my laptop. In this café, there are tables and chairs along the railing overlooking the Centrum. Today, unlike other days, we were fortunate to find two available seats at a small table.

From the ship as we pulled away from Brisbane.

While I worked on today’s post Tom waited in line for the required onboard immigration processing. On many cruises it’s required to part with our passports for a few days, picking them up after they’ve been processed for upcoming ports of call.

Today’s particular immigration process is for Indonesia (here we go again, more Indonesian immigration) since we’ll be arriving in Benoa, Bali in a few days. Based on the four months we’ve already spent in Bali, we doubt we’ll get off the ship in this congested port and town. Most passengers do so for shopping based on Bali’s bargain pricing on many types of merchandise (mostly brand name knockoffs).

Last night we had yet another fine happy hour in the Diamond Club lounge and also during dinner in the dining room. For the first time in many years, I ordered a mixed cocktail, vodka, and Sprite Zero on the rocks. I rarely consume any types of soda so this was a stretch for me.

Freighter and tug boat in the bay.

Again after two drinks stretched over several hours, I was feeling it. Although I’ll admit having a cocktail was rather enjoyable especially while we were sitting with others doing the same. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of good times not drinking alcohol.   don’t need it to have a great experience. But, it’s fun to “step outside the box” and partake of the festivities after all these years of almost completely avoiding alcoholic beverages.

I’ve avoided drinking alcohol for health reasons although my way of eating allows it in moderation. I suppose two drinks a day during cruises only isn’t imbibing in excess and shouldn’t have a deleterious effect on my overall health in the long run.

We’re having no trouble getting in the 10,000 steps a day on the FitBit when we often walk down these long hallways.

After last night’s foray into drinking a mixed cocktail, I intend to stick to with wine. It affected me less than the cocktail and I can nurse a single glass for a few hours. 

White wines have slightly fewer carbohydrates and sugar than dry red wines although I’d always preferred reds in my old life. Twenty-plus years ago I loved having a tasty glass of red wine prior to and during dinner.

Here’s information on the carbohydrate content of red vs. white wine from this site:

“Dry wines contain minimal sugars. Choosing red or white doesn’t matter as much as opting for dry over sweet. Dry wines generally have less than 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates (sugars) per ounce while the carb content of sweet wines can be upwards of 1.5 to 2g per ounce. These sugars can add up quickly: Technically one serving of wine is five ounces, but six to nine ounces is generally more realistic, especially when you’re pouring a glass at home to unwind. However, it is impossible (and unnecessary) to avoid sugar completely, so just adjust your wine intake to fit your personal sugar guidelines.

Dry Reds
Pinot noir: 0.68g carbs per ounce
Cabernet franc: 0.71g
Merlot: 0.74g
Cabernet sauvignon: 0.75g
Shiraz/syrah: 0.76g
Zinfandel: 0.84g

Dry Whites
Pinot blanc: 0.57g carbs per ounce
Sauvignon blanc: 0.6g
Pinot grigio: 0.6g”

Shared puzzle making where anyone can pick up where others left off.

With the intent of keeping my daily carbohydrate count under 20 grams and the efforts I’ve made on this cruise to go a bit lower based on eating twice a day, as opposed to my usual once, I have sufficient room to factor in two glasses of wine each evening. 

The differences in carbs from white to red is relatively insignificant. I think I’ll give a glass of Cabernet or Pinot Noir a try sometimes in the next few days, maybe this evening if the mood strikes me. 

A few of our readers have thoughtfully inquired as to how my spinal injury is doing. It’s not 100% improved but at this date, five months later I’m feeling much better. Certain activities (or inactivity) seem to exacerbate the issue, mainly when sitting too long.

This morning’s breakfast table in the Cascades dining room.

This morning I worked out for the best session I’ve had since resuming nine days ago. Usually, I  find myself returning to a decent level of fitness after about three weeks of working out regularly. 

Today I began the HIIT (high-intensity interval training). I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to return to my highest performance but I’m carefully working on it with the intent of continuing after we arrive in Tasmania.

Tom is doing great after a smidgen of “overly grumpy” during the first day on the cruise as he became familiar with everything. The smallest inconsistencies and nuances may contribute to his angst-ridden state but now, he’s his otherwise usual chipper self and we’re having the time of our lives.

Tom, during this morning’s breakfast.

We’ll be back with more each and every day. If you don’t see a post in the usual time frame please keep in mind we’ll be posting a few or several hours later. A late posting will be due to our participation in activities, conversations, seminars, and tours.

Thanks to all of our readers for following along with us and a special thanks to all of you who have written. We always delight in hearing from YOU!


                                           Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2015:

A blowhole spouting in Fiji. For more photos please click here.