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

Mom and piglet 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!

Its hard to believe in 71 days we’ll be leaving Marloth Park to drive to Nelspruit for the flight to Nairobi, Kenya, departing early the following morning.  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.


If you missed our story as to why we must leave on the 15th as opposed to the originally planned February 20th, 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 very special 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 during each 24-hour period.  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 wi-fi.  Go figure.  

Piglets 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 the month of 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 ends of 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 departs 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 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 be updating and fine-tuning our spreadsheet with all the new expenses.

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 sticking close to mom during nighttime activities.

I really 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 Septemeber.


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 passed 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 munching on treetops.

Yesterday morning we took off for Nelspruit, 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 where several rows of chairs are lined up.  All the seats were filled and we had to wait, standing, in the back of the section of chairs.  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 matter, 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 painstaking 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 wasn’t able to 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 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…me being alone for the five nights until February 20th when I could depart…traveling apart…handing luggage…and on an 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 of us 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 Expedia.com 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 grand total of ZAR 2156 (US $159) we changed our tickets to February 15th.  We were relieved.

At this point, we’d yet to book hotel accommodations in Kenya which we’ll do this month.  Not having done so was one less 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 averted and 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 wasn’t able to 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 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…

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, to say the least.

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 bad 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.

What I need to do now is settle down for the remainder of the day as we discuss our options in order to come up with a suitable plan that we can live with.  By no means is this situation untenable, nor a major 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 passenger grabbed my camera off my shoulder and shot these “feet photo.”  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 smart and destructive as are the Vervet monkeys mentioned in yesterday’s post that entered our house.  Baboons are much stronger 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.

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.  Getting up early, as usual, I felt determined to get today’s post done and uploaded prior to our 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.  It has been reported that male bushbucks can attack hunters when provoked and cause serious injury or death.  The females, without antlers, are gentle and graceful.

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 friend 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, of either being right on time or a few minutes early, when possible.

We’d rather quietly wait for an event to begin than be rushing, under stress, to get out the door.  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, 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 in order to stay in South Africa.

As explained in prior posts, South Africa doesn’t allow foreigners to visit any of the surrounding countries in order 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 new 90-day visa (for some passports, not all). 

The recent full moon.

A few weeks ago, we found we were able to re-enter at 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 may not have been allowed to re-enter.  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.

We decided, based on our special circumstances, we’d have no choice but to return to Zambia in order 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 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 grand 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 there are four countries that 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.  After that next 90 days, in February, 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 and especially this time 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 we’d visit for two nights staying in a hotel not too far from the airport and yet in a good 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 five year 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 we have an exiting flight within the 90 day period.  At that time, we picked a “cheap” flight on the 89th day to Managua, Nicaragua never certain we’d actually 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 a return back 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.  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 Hotels.com on our site at the same time on each of our computers.  We often find varying prices for flights and hotels when each of us is researching using our own laptops, based on cookies that may have been set on earlier 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 its 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, especially 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 at total of US $507.96 (CRC 293,479) plus meals and taxis estimated at another US $200 (CRC 115,552) but we’re fine with this.  It was better than the alternative and also provides us with a mini vacation for our five-year anniversary in yet another country.


Baskets of food were being raffled for charity.

If we hadn’t extended our stay in Costa Rica to accommodate the upcoming 30-night cruise on November 23rd, 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 future 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 once again, coming out of the water to show his displeasure. ( He’d quickly came 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 traveling the world results in a life of leisure and sensation of “always being on vacation/holiday,” then we need to do a better job of describing our reality.

There’s nothing easy about it except for those treasured 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 a 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 but also 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 in 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 own lack of activity.

Being able to perform 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 in order to thrive.

Golden Barrell Cactus, common 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 easily 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 availability of ingredients available in local markets. 

In many cases, the tiny 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 very common 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 beside managing our day to day lives which include 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 kind of got the runaround.  They said we need to apply at a local immigration office while in their country.

At the airport, they won’t accept a booked flight as adequate, if its 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 the 90 day period 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 thereafter. 

Besides, this might be a fun side trip, especially when we may be there during our five year 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!

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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 and humid and a very bumpy ride.  For more details, please click here.

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

Sun setting over industrial area at the port of Brisbane..

“Sighting on the Cruise in Australia”

Interesting metal “chair” art.

Its already Day 4 on this Australian cruise.  Its 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 its 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.  I don’t need it to have a great experience.  But, its 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 effected me less than the cocktail and I can nurse a single glass for a few hours. 

White wines have slightly less 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.  Its 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 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 be 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!

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

A blow hole spouting in Fiji.  For more photos please click here.

Paperwork time…A reality and responsibility of traveling the world…



This is a working well at the home of a local in our neighborhood.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Buffaloes swimming together in the river next to the villa.

Currently, we have three batches of paperwork to complete and process:
1.  Absentee ballots for the upcoming election on November 8th in the US
2.  Visa extension for Indonesia
3.  Tom’s driver license renewal

In a little over two weeks we’ll have to leave for Lovina for the immigration office.  The forms we used previously must be redone with the correct dates and information.

We’ll continue to post photos from the harrowing four or five hour drive.  This is a glass shop which surely had glas blowers in a back room making these items for sale.

This time when we apply for the visa extension we’ll be driving to Lovina on our own without Gede with us.  He’ll have to create a somewhat complicated letter as our sponsor which is written in Indonesian.  He was with us last time we visited the immigration office and processed the sponsorship in person.

This time, since we’re going on our own, Gede will have to sit beside me while I type the information into a document  while he translates the form which we’ll print and bring along when we apply. 

We weren’t near the airport.  This is a display of a jet engine atop a building behind many power lines.

Tom’s driver’s license expires on December 23rd.  Nevada DMV doesn’t allow an applicant to submit the paperwork sooner than 60 days prior to the expiration date. The paperwork can be submitted by fax so we’ll prepare it all, email it to son Richard in Nevada and he’ll fax it from his office.

Once the renewal license is issued it can’t be mailed to our address in Nevada per their regulations.  It can only be mailed to an outside Nevada address.  Daughter Tammy will handle this for us; receiving the license at her home address and placing the license into another envelope with a stamp.  She’ll immediately mail it to our mailing service in Nevada.

Vegetation growing on the roof of a restaurant in Denpasar.

Once the mailing service receives it, they’ll ship it to us wherever we are at the time to arrive within 3 to 5 days by expedited international shipping.  If we don’t receive the license in time for the rental car we’ll need in Tasmania, we’ll rent the car in my name since my license doesn’t expire until February 20, 2017.

I’ll have to go through the same process 60 days prior to my license expiration.  At least, this one time, we’re allowed to do this by mail and fax.  Next time, in four more years, we’ll have to appear in person.  We’ll certainly keep this in mind when we begin to plan far into the future for 2020.  Gosh, that sounds like a long time away but its only four years.


This is a modern furniture store in Denpasar.

The next item, the absentee ballots, must be processed by this upcoming Monday in order for us to actually receive the ballots on time. for the election.  That’s a little tricky as well with regulations varying from US state to state.  I won’t bore you with the details.

All of these tasks require a huge amount of printing, scanning, copying and preparation.  The printer here isn’t so good although we can manage to get it to spew out what we need for all three of these transactions. The rest we’ll figure out.


An upscale Italian restaurant, likely visited by tourists in Denpasar.

There’s no doubt that preparing all of these document is cumbersome and time consuming.  To a degree they weigh on our minds.  When we work on these types of tasks we do it together making it a lot easier than doing it solo.

Thank goodness we still have our trusty portable scanner which proves invaluable for many aspects of these types of processes.  A camera just doesn’t do a good enough scanning job on letter or legal sized documents.

Colorful display of shop on the main highway.

Once we have these tasks completed, we’ll be relieved and able to spend the remaining days in Bali with our minds free of any big responsibilities other than taking good care of ourselves and continuing to enjoy the balmy breezes, sunshine and exquisite scenery before us.

Take good care of YOURSELF and have a good day!

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Photo from one year ago today, September 8, 2015:

We shot this photo from the air on our way to Savusavu.  Fiji is comprised of approximately 330 islands of which one third are inhabited. The two major islands are Viti Levu, the most commonly visited and Vanua Levu where we are staying for the next three months.  When boarding this flight we had to be publicly weighed along with our baggage, an experience we’d had in the past.  For more details, please click here.
 

Exploring the area on a sunny day…Humidity…Plans for Bali…

Motorbikes parked at the beach.

It rains a lot in the tropics and there are plenty of cloudy days.  Since our arrival in Phuket over two weeks ago, at least 75% of the days have been cloudy with rain no less than 40% of the days and nights.

Many years ago (around 30) BT (before Tom) I vacationed in Thailand, staying in Phuket at two different resorts, one week each and if I recall, it was cloudy and rainy many of those days as well.  When the sun is shining, its a scorcher. 

Its so hot, people often walk with umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat of the sun as opposed to using umbrellas in the rain.  Yesterday, we compared weather conditions for both Phuket and Bali which overall are quite similar. 

Tourists dining under thatched roofs drinking cocktails with umbrellas and pineapple slices.

We don’t remember feeling this hot in Bali although it was hot each day with high humidity similar to Phuket.  Islands typically have high levels of humidity but after a little research we discovered many inland countries/cities have levels of humidity in excess of what may be the case on a tropical island.

Our old fashioned thinking seems to more readily relate to the readings for humidity and actual temperature (than for dew point )which this morning at 9:45 am is a paltry 85F, 29C with the humidity is 92%.  Needless to say it will be another uncomfortable day with a 70% likelihood of thunderstorms.
 
In Bali, we were situated directly on the ocean with nearly constant breezes to cool the moisture on our skin.  Here, living in a residential neighborhood, a kilometer to the beach, we feel nary a breeze except when storms seem to come from nowhere and wild winds waft through the air.

Fruit and fruit drink stands are popular in Phuket.
As much as we find this house to fulfill our needs and certainly having the most amazing customer service from its owner and support staff, in an odd way, we’re both looking forward to returning to Bali. 
 
Perhaps, we miss the sea or the two Katuks cooking our meals or chatting with Gede or as mentioned over the past several days, the lack of English speaking news channels, avoiding the constant barrage of bad news unless we search for it online. 
 
We can’t help but look forward to dining at the big square table for eight staring out at the sea as the buffalo walk along the beach on their way to or from the neighboring river.

There are many restaurants located near the beaches.

The only apprehension we’ve had, particularly Tom, has been the prospect of the required three days of four hour round trip drives to Lovina, Bali to renew our visas toward the end of the first of our two month stay. 

 
These three separate visits are a requirement of the Indonesian government and there’s no way around it when staying in the country over 30 days.  The fact that we’re so far away from the immigration office in Lovina while living in Sumbersari only adds to the difficulty.

Many tourists use money exchange facilities such as this.  We’ve found its more economical to use ATMs for local currency.
As many of our regular readers are aware we never had ample time to apply for the Indonesian visa extensions while in Singapore or Vietnam last month.  We’d considered breaking our own rule and mailing in our passports to VisaHQ or CIBT in the US by overnight mail while they process it for us in Washington, DC at the Indonesian embassy. 
 
Conceivably, we could have the visa extensions back by overnight mail within seven to ten days.  But, with my recent injury, we decided that in the event of a emergency situation that required we leave the country in a hurry, we couldn’t take the risk.  Not that we expect this to happen as I continue to improve a little each day.

Many hostels and “rooms for rent” are seen along the highway.  Many young tourists come to Phuket for water activities and stay in lower cost facilities.
So, we were back to “square one,” the three days of driving to Lovina with the required one day in between required by the immigration department.  This results in starting on a Monday, returning on Wednesday and returning the third time of a Friday to collect the passports and visa extensions.
 
Yesterday, I had a thought that I ran by Tom.  Why don’t we go to Lovina and stay in a hotel both Monday and Tuesday nights, going to the immigration office on both Monday and Wednesday?  We’ll have Gede drop us off on Monday and pick us up on Wednesday after the second trip to immigration and then have Gede return to Lovina on Friday on our behalf to pick up our passports and visa extensions.

Last time we had to get the visa extensions, Gede made the third trip without us when we’d authorized him in writing to do this on our behalf.  This avoided us making the third four hour round trip drive.  By staying in a hotel, we’ll have only two hours to get to Lovina and another two hours to return to Sumbersari on Wednesday afternoon having completed the second trip to the immigration office.  Tom liked this idea.

Taking photos through the car’s windows and windscreen in tricky with some sort of worn film is covering the glass.

In checking prices on hotels in Lovina, Bali, rated at least four star we can easily stay at a very nice location for an outrageously low price under US $75, IDR $984,225, THB  $2,631 per night plus the cost of a few meals and low cost taxi. 

 
Its a plan!  We’re relieved to have made this logical decision which ultimately turns what may have been a stressful situation into a fun “holiday” within the framework of our time in Bali.  The extra transportation cost by avoiding the one day’s drive will cover at least one night’s hotel bill.  Hope this all makes sense.
 
Yesterday, when the sun made an appearance for a few hours, we took off on another drive in the area.  We can’t go too far for two reasons; one, I can’t sit for too long in the low seats in the less-than-stellar rental car especially on bumpy roads; and two, the less-than-stellar rental car is old and could easily break down. 
Road construction is prevalent in most countries, slowing down the flow of traffic.
The car’s windows have some type of darkening film on the windows that is severely distorted making driving difficult in busy traffic.  Tom, an excellent driver, who never complains about conditions, hesitates to do much driving for all these reasons.  I concur. 
 
And yet, considering these obstacles we were still able to take some photos we happily share here each day while we continue to explore as we can during our remaining 26 days on the island. 

It can’t always be perfect.  We don’t expect it to be.  We accept the limitations we currently have in our midst while continuing to make the very best of each and every day.  We laugh, we smile, we find ways to entertain ourselves and each other.  What more could we ask for?  Not a thing.  Not a single thing.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 6, 2015:

Amazing sunrise over Trinity Beach, Australia where we lived one year ago today.  For more photos, please click here.

Time to extend our Indonesian visas…Four hour round trip to Lovina…Photos while we’re away…Back with more tomorrow…

One of the narrow roads we walk in the area.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”



The midday sun reflecting in the river running along the neighboring property.

At 9 am this morning Gede is picking us up for the two hour drive (each way) to his hometown of Lovina Beach where we’ll visit the local immigration office to extend our visas an additional 30 days.  As mentioned in an earlier post, we weren’t able to extend the visas at the airport upon our arrival.

The details we share today will have to be repeated midway through our second stay on this island beginning on September 1st when most likely again, we’ll be unable to get more than the 30 day visa at the airport. 

So it goes.  We knew this well in advance, when we’d investigated the visa requirements for Bali as we do before booking each new location.

Each house’s style is quite different from others with the most common feature, the Hindu statues in the front yard.

The odd aspect in Bali is that extending the visa for an additional 30 days requires three and yes, I mean three, visits to Lovina to accomplish this for each of the 60 day periods we’re here:

Trip 1:  Apply for visas
Wait one day
Trip 2:  Return to Lovina, get fingerprinted and have photos taken.  Pay the fees.
Wait one day.
Trip 3:  Return to Lovina, pick up visas

Each of these three days and the days in between are required with no exception.  Gede explained that Trip 3 can be accomplished by hiring one of the workers to make the drive for us to pick them up.  We’ll choose this option. 

Blue Gecko is the name of a neighboring villa.

We don’t want to have to return three times if we can avoid it.  Much to our dismay, we have to leave our passports at the immigration office for pickup on Trip 3.  Neither of us is thrilled to be without our passports in our possession during this five day period.  We’ve made copies in the interim.

Trip 1 and Trip 2 require that we are personally in attendance.  Guess we’ll be on a road a bit this week. Luckily, there are a few good sights to see along the way and we’ve decided to spread them out over each of the few days.

Here’s a map of Bali we found at this site. Lovina is located in the north:

We’re currently located 35 minutes north/northwest of Negara as shown in the southwest. Lovina is almost center in the north.  Denpasar, the four hour harrowing road trip is located in the south.  Luckily, we don’t have to drive all the way back to Denpasar until we eventually leave the villa for the airport in approximately five weeks.

“Lovina Beach is a laid back 12 km stretch of coast to the West of Singaraja in North Bali. It is a welcome break from the bustle of the South. These days the mix of tourists is mainly families and couples rather than the backpackers of yesteryear. It is comprised of several narrow stretches of black volcanic sand. Lovina, like most of Bali, fills up with tourists from all over the world in August and Australians at Christmas.

Kalibukbuk is the largest and most developed village but it is just two streets of hotels, bars, restaurants, and dive shops running down to the beach. There is a wide range of accommodation and restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes. There are two clubs and several bars, but the nightlife is generally low key and easy going.”



Although sardine factories may appear run down on the exterior, apparently they are run safely and efficiently supplying sardines to many parts of the world.
Realizing the necessity of this trip, we prepared today’s post in advance to ensure we wouldn’t fall behind in posting. Consistency is very important to us and as we’ve seen, many of our worldwide readers may stop by each day to see what’s going on.  We wouldn’t want to disappoint a single reader’s expectations if we can help it. 

We certainly appreciate the value to being able to bring up our favorite sites to read the latest posts, especially when we’re in locations such as Bali where we can’t understand the language on the TV resulting in no news updates, no entertainment and no channel surfing.  Reading news and the posts of others is a good alternative for those quiet times.

Sardine factories line the beach in a few areas.

I suppose in a way its not unlike this three day visa application process. There are no alternatives.  Instead of grumbling, we’ve decided to take it in our stride as one more opportunity to take photos and visit a few points of interest on the way.

Of course, we’ll be back tomorrow with another new post and the story of Day 1 on our trip to Lovina and back.  Hopefully, all goes as planned and we don’t encounter any issues.  This reminds us of when we also had to renew our visas while living in Belize in January 2013. 

A local mosque.  We can hear the call-to-prayer from a mosque near the villa several times a day. 

In Belize we had to go on a very small boat packed with people, called the “Hokey Pokey,” to get to the mainland to apply for the visas.  For the humorous details of that outing, please click here.

We hope you find your day bring you humor in recalling your past experiences!

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Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2015:

Another breathtaking sunset in Kauai when we’d posted some of our favorite photos with only one day until departure.  For more favorite Kauai photos, please click here.