Day #271 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Where will we go for visa stamps while in South Africa?…

“Puerto Madryn (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpweɾto ˈmaðɾin]Welsh: Porth Madryn) is a city in the province of Chubut in Argentina, Patagonia. It is the capital of the Biedma Department and has about 93,995 inhabitants according to the last census in 2010.”

We toured the oceanfront village on foot on this date in 2017.

Today’s photos are from this date in 2017 while visiting the port of call, Puerto Madryn, while on a South America cruise nearing the end. For more details, please click here.

Unfortunately, as many of our long time readers are well aware, we can only stay in South Africa for 90 consecutive days. With our desire to stay in Marloth Park as long as possible over the next year, this will require that we leave the country and/or apply for an extension as often as three times.

Another abandoned seafaring boat on the beach in Puerto Madryn.

We have a cruise booked for next November, sailing out of Lisbon, Portugal, that sails along the western coast of Africa, ending in Cape Town, South Africa, enabling us to return to Marloth Park once again. Will this cruise be canceled? At this point, we have no idea.

If it is, we may want to stay in Africa longer, visiting other countries every three months for the visa stamp, allowing us to stay another 90-day segment at a time. Our three months on this upcoming trip for which we depart on January 12, 2021, arriving in Johannesburg before midnight, leaves us with the requirement of departing again by April 10, 2021, 89 days later. We leave a day earlier than the 90 days, in the event of a potential layover in Johannesburg that may take us into the 90th day.

This could have been a street in any beach town.

The tricky part about flying out of South Africa and avoiding the five to six-hour drive to the airport in Johannesburg, an area with a certain risk of carjackings and corrupt police, is to fly from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport (an hour from Marloth Park), fly to Johannesburg and go anywhere in the world from there, often with multiple layovers.

Unfortunately, the tiny airport, which considers itself an “international” airport, actually only flies to two countries besides South Africa, including Zambia which we already visited twice in 2018 on two very enjoyable tours of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia and also Mozambique (which borders SA and won’t provide us with a usable visa stamp). At this point, returning to Zambia to drive to other countries holds little appeal to either of us when we’ve already visited the sightseeing highlights of Chobe National Park, Chobe River, Victoria Falls from Zambia, and also the Zimbabwe sides, Zambezi River cruise, and more.

Statue at Puerto Madryn Beach.

No doubt, we enjoyed the two trips, but returning doesn’t make sense. We don’t look forward to flying to Johannesburg to go anywhere else. However, we have no choice but to do so. One of those three above-mentioned visa stamp requirements will most likely result in us applying for one extension during this period which we’d done once in 2018. It’s all tricky, costly, and time-consuming. Traveling to a country bordering South Africa doesn’t count as “leaving the country.”

But, for us, the monkey business (no pun intended) is worth it. With the low cost of living in Africa, compared to most other parts of the world, we can comfortably budget the added costs for these side trips. Plus, it gives us an opportunity to visit other countries and expand our horizons.

A whale carving at the beach.

In the past few days, being hopeful that we’ll be able to leave India in 24 days, we’ve been researching flights for possible countries in Africa we’d like to visit. A few considerations are Zanzibar, (Tanzania), Madagascar, Reunion Island, and more, all of which require flying out of Johannesburg, which we finally accept as the only way we make this work.

The island of Zanzibar in Tanzania is probably our first choice since we don’t want to embark on any 24-hour travel times. Now, we begin the process of searching as to what’s available in the way of hotels or holiday homes, depending on how long we may decide to stay, which is up in the air at this point. We’ve accumulated quite a few free hotel nights by using on our site which we can save for such a trip.

Typical apartment building in Puerto Madryn.

A few years ago, we were determined to see the gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda. However, after the diagnosis of severe cardiovascular disease, it doesn’t make sense for us to go to such a remote location, which requires a challenging mountain trek. Sure, my stamina has greatly improved walking so much for the past nine months, but it hasn’t reversed my condition and such an expedition might be foolhardy.

There’s still plenty of world left for us to see, traveling to locations that won’t be outrageously physically challenging. Walking, we can do. Steep mountain treks may be out of the question. We both accept this reality.

Protesters marching on the beach boulevard.

Once we get situated in South Africa, we’ll book our plans for April and be able to rest easy for the remaining days of our stay in Marloth Park, until again, we’ll hopefully be able to return.

There was a big party in the hotel last night with a DJ resulting in loud thumping music until 11:15 pm. It settled down shortly thereafter when finally, we were able to sleep barring the sounds of doors slamming next door to our room for several hours, Oh, well. Soon enough.

Stay healthy, safe, and content amid the madness that continues to rage throughout the world.

Photo from one year ago today, December 19, 2019:


Photo from this date in 2013 which was reposted one year ago today: Of the nine members of this warthog family, there were two moms; one with four babies and the other with three babies. From watching this family almost daily over a period of 18 days, we believe the mom shown above is the mom of the three babies, which if you look closely are all nursing. (It was hard to see the third piglet). Thus, the baby on which she is resting her chin belongs to the other mom who is nearby and seems comfortable with this situation. We couldn’t have laughed more when the fourth baby, whether hers or not, provided this neck resting spot. For more photos from this date, one year ago, please click here.



Time flies…Emotions remain…Visa waiver attorney located…

One year ago today, we continued to have such a fantastic weekend celebrating Don’s birthday while staying at their gorgeous home in Pretoria. This photo was taken at a Mexican restaurant with 10 of us in attendance, again celebrating Don’s birthday. For more photos, please click here.

Time flies. It’s mind-boggling when we refer back to an event from one year ago when in actuality, it seems as if it was only yesterday. I often wonder if it felt the same years ago when we were younger. It’s easy to remember events. It’s not always easy to remember how we felt during “ordinary” times.

During periods of sorrow, worry and stress, we can easily recall our feelings many years back. During periods when life was relatively uneventful, we struggle to recall how we felt at the time. It’s ironic, isn’t it? 

It’s no wonder any of us can fall prey to becoming emotionally engaged in less desirable-times-past, carrying them as baggage into the future. This past year will be emblazoned in my mind for years to come regardless of how well I’m feeling, both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

The only baggage I want to carry with me into the future is our single suitcases filled with clothing and shoes, our third bag of supplies and miscellaneous three carry-on bags.

No doubt, my level of ease, comfort, and level of happiness has been tempered. Will I ever return to those carefree days? By no means, am I down or depressed. I feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. There’s so much ahead of us, bringing both of us a powerful sense of anticipation, joy, and contentment.

But, the facts remain. Can we visit some of the highly remote areas we’d considered in the past, far from quality medical care? Are we at risk during month-long cruises or during long periods in rural areas in countries where medical care is questionable?

We wish we had an easy answer. Now, as we plan the over six months we have to fill in and around Europe before the cruise ending in Cape Town, South Africa on December 2, 2020 we consider many facts.

Hanging over our heads is the visa waiver issue in South Africa (resulting from overstaying our visas due to my heart surgery in February, requiring us to stay an additional almost three months). 

If this issue isn’t resolved by the time the ship is ready to set sail, we won’t be able to board or, we’d have major issues at the end of the cruise. Of course, we won’t take that risk.

Instead, in the past 24 hours, we have contacted an immigration attorney in South Africa who is working on our file. The firm has a 98% success rate of resolving immigration issues such as these. The fee for services is ZAR (Rand) 30000 which translates to US $2,101. 

We’ve decided to move forward rather than be banned from South Africa until 2024. Plus, we don’t want an “undesirable” status to be a part of our passport records.

The law firm estimates it will take eight to twelve weeks to get the issue resolved. It will be fantastic to have this behind us. We’ve provided the law firm with all of the necessary documents and they will send us a contract with a statement for services which we’ll handle this week in order to proceed with the process.

There’s no such thing as a “free lunch” as the saying goes. Everything in life has its pluses and minuses, its rewards and its consequences. But, how we choose to handle the challenges ultimately determines the quality of our lives.

As we move forward into this next phase of our lives, of our world travels, we strive to do so with the determination, the hope and the joy we so much enjoyed in the past, long before we were faced with these challenges.

In a mere 22 days, we’ll continue on our long and fruitful journey, hopefully with many more years to come.

Be well.


Photo from one year ago today, January 7, 2019:

Last year on this date, our party of 10 consisted of (from left to right) Kathy, Linda, Tom,  Don, Keith, Ken, Cynthia, Robin and Karen with me taking the photo. For more photos, please click here.

Snow storm in Minnesota!…Dinner with kids…New photos!…One day and counting…

Last night at dinner with granddaughter Maisie at Pinstripes in Edina.

Last night we had a fabulous evening with son Greg and grandchildren Maisie, Miles, and Madighan at Pinstripes Restaurant in Edina. Unfortunately, Camille was unable to join us. We had little fun gifts for the kids and I’d brought a bag of clothes for Maisie. She’s still quite a bit smaller than I am but she’s embraced some of my things.

The snow had yet to fall at 6:00 PM although it was predicted to start earlier. The drive was slow at rush hour but in no time at all, we arrived at the restaurant.

It was a special time with the kids. Without the distractions at their home, we had their undivided attention allowing for plenty of playful and thoughtful conversation and laughter. We’re grateful we had this special time with them and Greg.

Last night, with granddaughter Madighan.

Afterward, we headed back to Karen and Rich’s home. Rich made room in the garage for Tom to park Camille’s minivan inside, a perfect decision after last night’s heavy snowfall.

The snow finally began to fall around 9:00 pm when we were all safely inside and off the slippery roads. When we went to bed the windows without shades reflected the ambient light from the falling snow eliciting many memories from our old lives.

Last night with grandson Miles.

As difficult as it was driving in the snow, there definitely is something magical about a fluffy snowfall, especially during the holiday season. No regrets…just reminiscent about past times.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Chere and I drove to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall in Eagan to shop for Tom at the Tommy Hilfiger store. We couldn’t have had more fun. Two lovely salespeople, Edina (her name is the same as the above-mentioned city) and Jill both helped in ways we never imagined possible.

Tom’s new clothes from Tommy Hilfiger. Over $700 in merchandise was purchased for $286 at the Twin Cities Outlet Mall in Eagan.

At the last minute when checking out, Jill helped with a 20% online discount coupon making the total sales amount all the more palatable. The store should be proud of these two dedicated staff members, so focused on customer satisfaction and service. It couldn’t have been a more enjoyable process.

As it turned out, every item I purchased fit Tom perfectly and he was pleased with his new items. Whew! This morning we put together a big bag of clothing and dropped it off at the Goodwill store. We’re moving forward with many new items in our luggage.

About 8 inches of snow fell in Eden Prairie overnight.

We’re almost completely packed for tomorrow’s departure for Las Vegas, this time flying out of Terminal 2 on Sun Country Airlines, our only nonstop option on Thanksgiving Day. Son Greg will drop us off around 2:30 pm for our 4:00 pm flight.

In the morning, Tom will load up the minivan with our bags and in the early afternoon, we’ll drive to Greg’s to say goodbye, drop off the coats we borrowed, deliver the pumpkin pie I baked today and be on our way.

Nothing is as pretty as the freshly fallen snow.

As soon as I upload this post I’ll be heading to the kitchen to bake the pumpkin pie I promised to make for their Thanksgiving dinner. We wish we could have stayed to have Thanksgiving with them but with my severe allergy to cats, it wasn’t possible. Thus, tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day we fly away.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the details of today’s cardiology appointment and our final goodbye from Minnesota.

This morning’s snow.

May those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving revel in the preparations and the ultimately, the fantastic meal. We’ll be sharing Thanksgiving dinner with son Richard in Henderson, Nevada tomorrow evening.

Be well.


Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2018:

A tower of giraffes crossing the paved road in Kruger. How magical? For more photos, please click here.

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 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.

Immigration “wild goose chase”…Frustrating experience…Fun zebra video…

Zebras often stop by to visit but usually with three, four of five.  This dazzle 
of 12 zebras was quite exciting.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two Ms. Bushbucks and the baby, waiting for the pellet delivery.

Nothing could have been more frustrating than yesterday’s trip to Nelspruit for our two appointments at the VFS Immigration office in an effort to extend our visas to February 20, 2019.

All of the required paperwork was in order and collated exactly as dictated by their website.  We had our required black pen with us and our two separate batches of papers, one for each of us, were in a plastic bag as stipulated.

Zebra visitors with babies.

We ran into a number of obstacles in getting to the appointments in a timely fashion, although we’d left 2½ in advance of the 11:00 and 11:15 am appointments for the less than the 90-minute drive.  Good thing, we left extra early.

The long drive on the N4 Highway was cluttered with semis and other trucks requiring a tremendous amount of passing on the mostly two-lane highway.  In South Africa, from what we’ve seen thus far, there is usually a shoulder on the road.  

This zebra tried coming up the steps but the tiles were too slippery for her hooves.  Speaking of coming up the steps, this morning there was a mongoose under the table on the veranda looking for eggs.

Most drivers, let’s say 90%, will move onto the shoulder to make way for those desiring to pass,, something we haven’t experienced to this degree in other countries.  Nice people.  Friendly drivers.  Also, often we’ll encounter passing lanes every so often providing drivers to pass long rows of vehicles during busy times.  This helps.

Since we have no wi-fi on my phone (only calling) we used a printed map of the location from google maps.  Well, wouldn’t you know, the directions were all wrong.  The road where we needed to exit the highway wasn’t marked and we ended up well passed Nelspruit, running into road construction that slowed us down by no less than 20-minutes.

Dad, baby, and mom drinking from the cement pond.  

Once we realized we’d gone too far, we turned around and headed to the area where we saw tall buildings. Surely, the immigration office would be in the center of town near the tall buildings. Plus, we called Louise and she walked us through it while looking at maps on her computer until we recognized where we should be.

You may ask, why don’t we have data on our phone?  Simple answer.  It disappears every 30 days and we were paying and paying for nothing.  We didn’t use it enough to justify the expense when we have great wi-fi in the house.  Yesterday, we wished we had it.  But, how often are we driving far from Marloth Park?  When in Kruger National Park, the signal is poor and it wouldn’t do us much good.

Baby zebra seeking shelter from the hot sun on a 40C (104F) very hot day.

Rather than designating a specific street name and number on the immigration website, it stated the location was at the corner of Brown St. and Paul Kruger St.  That should have been easy.  We parked in a ramp and searched for it on foot.  That was nearly impossible.

The immigration office is located in a convoluted mix of banks, offices, and shops with many ending up down long narrow passageways. An address would have been of no help whatsoever.

The zebras and other wildlife like cold moist, celery tops and lettuce on hot days.

Finally, with the help of a security guard in one of the bank buildings (there were a few), he pointed us to elevators to go to the fifth floor.  The only elevator of four that was working was the freight elevator.  We took it.

We arrived at the front door five minutes before our first appointment at 11:00 am.  We were wanded by a guard, who checked our papers and used a card to swipe the door look to let us enter.  We were told to sit in specific chairs based on our appointment times and told to keep moving to the “next” chair as people were called.

The zebras often fight when having to share pellets but these two were in perfect harmony.

No food, no beverages, no cell phones were allowed.  For two full hours, we sat there staring into space, often wondering why people went ahead of us and others, while we all waited.

I won’t go into details about the processing system.  In essence, the three-tiered process made sense.  The waiting did not.  After the two hours, we finally made it to system #1 and sat down to wait again in another grouping of chairs.  Thirty minutes later we made it to system #2.  

Big Daddy stopped by for pellets and a drink from the pond.

It was at system #2 that were told, they could not, would not accept our application for processing since we’d arrived weeks too early for an extension all the way to February 20th.  We’d have to return and start over..  Nothing we’d done that day would count.  

They sent us on our way after writing down a walk-in date and time of 8:00 am on October 24th.  There was nothing else we could do. We left frustrated and disappointed with little to say to one another.  We’d been given the wrong information.  But, then again, as we always say, this is Africa.  Perfection is not on the menu.

He likes eating off the edge of the veranda when he doesn’t have to bend down to the ground with that big heavy rack.

Fortunately, the return drive was uneventful.  We stopped on at Melalane to shop for a few grocery items and also to shop at the local Click Pharmacy so I could pick up a few cosmetic items which took about 40 minutes.  But, we dodged a bullet!  

Once we were on the highway, I asked Tom if we needed fuel.  He looked at the gauge and the “empty” light was flashing.  When we found the first petrol station, the little car took 30 liters.  Good thing we caught it or we’d have had an entirely new “situation!”  Whew!

The items I needed in Melalane (or similar thereof) are in the missing box, shipped from the US on May 28th and had yet to arrive due to a postal strike since resolved but leaving a mess in its wake.  Management claims the box in on a shipping container yet to be unloaded.  More on that later.

Mom and Baby stopped by as they often do.

We pulled up in the driveway around 1600 hours (4:00 pm), almost eight hours later.  We were hot (it was 39C, 102F), dehydrated and utterly exhausted.   We stopped to see Louise and Danie for a bit to explain what had transpired and headed home to eat dinner outdoors, feed a few animals and eventually go to bed early.  

I think I slept for eight hours, although not continuously.  Tom was up at 5:30 am feeding wildlife as usual.  We’re better today after having accepted the fact we’ll be returning on October 24th and then after that, one more time to find out if we’re approved.  

If not approved, we won’t know until we arrive the third time, when they open a sealed envelope in front of us with our results.  Tom said, “It’s like the Academy Awards.”

Mom and Baby happily munching pellets by the steps, where they prefer to dine!

Today, we headed to Komatipoort and Lebombo to shop for food and pellets.  All went smoothly.  It’s even hotter today at 40C (104F).  Currently, I’m finishing today’s post indoors with a fan blowing.  It gets sunny on the veranda this time of day and it’s hard to see the laptop screen.  

By 1700 hours (5:00 pm) we’ll set up the veranda for the evening, as usual, pour ourselves a cold beverage and enjoy yet another night in the bush.  How many such nights are remaining, we don’t know at this point.  But, we’ll continue to cherish each and every moment.

Have a lovely evening wherever you may be!


Photo from one year ago today, September 6, 2017:

The scenery was pretty while driving in the mountains of Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

The immigration story continues…Nighttime visitors…

Last night, Tom took this photo when he checked the thermometer to find a frog doing the same.  It was 25C, 77F at 2200 hours, 10 pm.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Hippo and cattle egret on the river’s edge.

I almost don’t know where to begin regarding the South Africa immigration story.  With a definitive response, when our passports were stamped when we re-entered at the airport in Nelspruit after a trip to Zambia, that we won’t be allowed to stay beyond November 21, 2018.

As mentioned in a few prior posts, our only solution was to find a holiday home where we could stay for three months while we await our big upcoming tour in Kenya beginning on February 22, 2019.  This was no easy task.  

In the dark, Tom also spotted a re-visit of giraffes in our garden.  I was already asleep so he took the photos.

Between us, we each spent no less than 40 hours in research trying to locate a holiday home for this extended period, for these specific dates, in any country we were interested in staying for three months.  On short notice, 95% of most properties were already booked.

Even if we stayed part of the time in a hotel and the remainder in a holiday home, we couldn’t match-up the dates and locations that would work for us.  Also, we had to consider airfare, rental cars (or other means of transportation), distance and expenses during this period.

Two giraffes munching on treetops near the little car.

Frustration kicked in after a few days of research but diligently we continued considered many alternatives that would have been less desirable such as staying in apartments or hotels during the entire period.  Living in a hotel for three months was certainly not an appealing prospect.

Considering there are a number of countries in Africa we’d prefer not to visit, our options were limited.  Louise and Danie were well aware of our frustration and in their usual thoughtful manner, connected us with a highly experienced and competent immigration specialist who walked us through, over the phone, how to complete the myriad documents in order to get an extension until February 20th.

A giraffe visiting in the dark.

I’m not exaggerating slightly when I say, it took the entirety of two days to get the paperwork completed, collated and stacked all of which Louise handled with her printer at her home office.  On both ends, we were at it for two days.  I don’t know how we can ever thank her and the kindly immigration specialist who supported us through this process.

I must add here, that no special consideration is given to us.  We are simply following the “letter of the law” in compliance in gathering the endless number of documents required to possibly receive an extension.  

She’s awfully close to the little car.  One swift “necking” and it could be totaled.

This included bank statements, financial documents, passport and visa documents and many peripheral forms to be completed, dated and signed at the time of the meeting.  Also, we paid a fee of ZAR 3550 (US $240.42) but weren’t allowed to use any of our credit cards. The fee had to be paid using a South Africa credit or debit card.  

Once again, Louise came to the rescue.  We used her card and gave her the cash we’d received from an ATM.  This added exponentially to the amount of paperwork in order to be able to confirm Louise authorized this transaction

Moms and babies at the Crocodile River.

During this process, using the complicated South Africa Immigration website, we were assigned an appointment date and time for a face to face meeting upcoming this Wednesday morning in Nelspruit to which we must bring all of the printed documents.  Complicated, to say the least. 

Part of the process required we include airline ticket showing we’re flying out of South Africa on February 20th (coincidentally, the date of my birthday).  The only tickets available were over ZAR 16243 (US $1000) and is non-refundable.  In other words, if we don’t get approved to stay until February 20th, we lose the money we paid for the tickets.  Oh, goodness.

A noisy hadeda bird flies overhead almost every night at dusk.

We decided we had to take the risk.  We understand the necessity of this complicated process for visa extensions when so many countries struggle with those overstaying their visas or entering illegally.  

So here we are, two days from taking the 90-minute drive back to Nelspruit, from which we returned only a few weeks ago after our flight, to enter our documents in person to see if we’ll eventually be approved.  It can take two to four weeks for a response.  Hopefully, we’ll know by the end of September or early October.

Bushbaby tongue sticking out and a head in the yogurt cup!

After Wednesday’s in-person meeting, we’ll include an update and will continue to update the news here as it becomes available.

Enjoy today’s photos, some of which Tom took last night in the dark while I was sleeping.  

For those in the US, today is Labor Day.  Have a safe and meaningful day whatever you may do!


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

This Giant Tortoise is located at the Zoo Ave location, although not indigenous to Costa Rica.  We suspect the facility imported some of its wildlife to attract more visitors to its rehab facility.  For more details, please click here.

We’re back in Marloth Park…Immigration shocker!…Recap of Victoria Falls…All new photos…

There were endless openings at Victoria Falls that excellent allowed viewing.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We shot this photo on the Chobe River.  We’d have preferred a better view of the inside of the hippo’s mouth.  Hippos open their mouths wide, to show how mean and powerful they are.  No doubt, we were spotted and told to take off.

It was a dark and dreary night as we drove to Jabula for dinner after arriving back in Marloth Park around 6:00 pm.  On the way, we encountered three giraffes, two zebras, two bush bucks and one dead puff adder snake on the paved road.  We were “home.”

The rushing water came up to the edge of the viewing area.

After weeks of me worrying about our immigration issue of having used all of the 90-days allowed in our visa and the possibility of not being let back into the country other than to pack and leave, no words can describe our elation when we arrived in Nelspruit/Mpumalanga airport and received a new 90-day stamp in our passports…no questions asked.

One might think that leaving the country for a week to a country that is not bordering South Africa, would be a sure bet we could return.  But, after considerable research, we discovered leaving to visit a non-bordering country doesn’t ensure a new 90-day visa.

Rainbows from the spray.

We could easily have been refused the visa and told we had to return to our “home country” in order to return to South Africa for another 90-days.  Arriving in Nelspruit helped.  Had we traveled through Johannesburg, there’s a strong possibility we’d have been refused.  The law states they can give us seven days to “clear out.”

In checking the cost of returning to the US, it would have been over ZAR 127,714, (US $10,000) to return to Minnesota, including round trip airfare between South Africa and the USA, a cheap hotel and a rental car for a paltry nine days.  During that period, we’d still have been paying for the house in Marloth Park. 

Adding in the cost of meals and expensive miscellaneous items in Minnesota and we’d have been looking at quite a chunk of money.  At this point, we have plans including cruises to take us back to the US in 2019 which ultimately is a lot less expensive.

The power of the falls left us is awe.

Our other option was considerably less expensive which was to fly to New York, stay two nights in a hotel and turn around and fly right back to South Africa.  We could have accomplished this for around  ZAR 38,314, (US $3,000) which we may have to consider in three or six months in the event we’re asked to leave.

The sound of the rushing water was deafening. 

In the meantime, we have the next 89-days to revel in our busy and happy lives in Marloth Park with the amazing wildlife and our equally amazing human friends, many of whom are coming back and forth from homes in other parts of the world.

When we arrived at the airport after the pleasant flight from Zambia, to head directly to the only immigration officer on duty, my heart was in my throat.  Tom was a cool as a cucumber not even slightly concerned.  Usually, it’s the other way around.

The magnificence of Victoria Falls.

But, I was the one that spent almost three hours in the middle of the night, reading everything I could find on South Africa’s immigration laws.  Based on our situation, the outcome didn’t look good.  It appeared we’d have to leave, return to the US and then, return to South Africa, not a good option.


Well, we have been approved to re-enter and we practically skipped to the rental car desk to get yet another long-term rental car that will see us through until August 15th, when the visa period ends once again.

We’re aren’t certain where we’ll go next time but most certainly it will be a non-bordering country on the continent of Africa.  We have a few ideas and will share them once we make a decision and book the next trip.

There were many rainbows at the falls.

Hertz gave us a free upgrade and we got a slightly larger car, a VW something, that has power door locks and windows.  What a treat that is!  The tires look good, the AC works well and it even has a clock.  (Some of the cheap cars we rent have none of the above). 

The return drive to Marloth Park was long when we encountered a bad accident in Malelane that tied up traffic for no less than 30-minutes.  Also, there were many trucks on the single lane N4 (highway) and Tom’s who’s an inpatient driver, insisted on passing every truck in our path.  It was great to get back into Marloth Park at the security gate and head to our bush home.

The charming shop is Big Hippo Love located at the Livingstone, Zambia airport.

While we were gone, Louise had arranged for a deep cleaning of the house.  When we walked in the door to find the TV working, lights left on for us and the house has been totally “spring cleaned” and beautifully “detailed” we couldn’t have been more appreciative.

One thing we’d like to mention is a wonderful experience we had with two lovely shopkeepers at a newly built tea shop at the Livingstone Zambia airport where we were able to sit comfortably while I sipped on exquisite organic herbal tea. (Tom surprised me and purchased two packages of the tea I loved, enough to last for a few months).

The girls were so kind and thoughtful.

We chatted with the two adorable shopkeepers and had a fabulous time.  If you ever get to Zambia, stop by and say hello for us.  We’ve included a few photos of our visit to the shop.

Soon, at around 11:00 am Tom will drop me off at Jabula for a special women’s “tea” event to watch the Royal Wedding on TV.  There will be about 12 of us girls in attendance and it should be fun.  I can’t recall the last time I did a “girls only” get together. 

Not only do they carry delicious healthful teas but also a wide array of interesting African inspired merchandise.

Tonight, just the two of us will do a braai while we set up our nighttime routine in hopes of seeing more visitors.  Since we’ve been gone a week it may take a few days for our usual group of visitors to realize we’ve returned.  Although so far this morning we’ve had two kudus, two bushbucks stop by and an ostrich walking down the dirt road. We’ll wait patiently.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue sharing more photos we’ve yet to present here from our outstanding trip to Zambia. 

Have a happy weekend!


Photo from one year ago today, May 19, 2017:

The Ketchikan sign over the boulevard as we wandered about the historic city.  For more Alaskan photos, please click here

Off we go…Managua Nicaragua, here we come!

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we’ll stay for two nights, arriving today and departing on Monday.

We’ve arrived at the Costa Rica’s San Jose Santamaria International Airport (SJO).  We have our boarding passes in hand with a relatively easy transition through immigration and security.  With no bags to check the check-in process is simple. 

In most countries checking in online 24 hours in advance and printing a boarding pass is pointless.  We gave up doing so long ago.  Since we usually have bags to check, we receive boarding passes at the same time as we check the bags after only presenting our passports.  No one ever asks us for printed proof of our tickets.

We’ve located our gate at the end of the long terminal.  At the moment, we’re seated in a cafe a short distance from the gate.  Tom didn’t order anything and I’m sipping on a Chamomile tea.

The airport in Costa Rica is quite nice with good signage in both Spanish and English.  The transition was smooth.  By the way, the taxi fare from the villa was US $32 (CRC 18,217) with a tip.  The taxi driver avoided the toll road and we arrived in about 35 minutes from Atenas.

In our old lives, the only time we knew much about Managua Nicaragua was the frequent mention of the city over and over again in the news in 1986 in regard to the Iran Contra affair.  We won’t get into that here but here’s a tidbit of information about the capital city:

“Managua, on the south shore of Lake Managua, is the capital city of Nicaragua. Its cathedral, a shell since a 1972 earthquake, is on the Plaza of the Revolution. Nearby is the tomb of Sandinista leader Carlos Fonseca. The 1935 National Palace of Culture houses the National Museum. Hilltop Parque Histórico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa is known for its crater lake and a huge statue of revolutionary Augusto Sandino.

Area210 mi²

Weather79°F (26°C), Wind SE at 5 mph (8 km/h), 84% Humidity

Local timeFriday 9:36 AM

Population2.206 million (2015)


We’re looking forward to the hotel we selected Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, one of the best in the city which may be found at this link at on our site.  Of course, we’ll take photos of the hotel, restaurants, meals and the places we visit while in Nicaragua. 

Most likely tonight, we’ll celebrate our anniversary at the hotel’s highly rated five-star restaurant, Factory Steak and Lobster.  Although a bit pricey, it’s for a special occasion well deserving a special evening. 

Besides, dining in the hotel’s famous restaurant might ensure an avoidance of foods I can’t typically eat found in Central American restaurants, delicious, I’m sure, but made with grains, sugar, and starchy ingredients. 

I won’t have any trouble ordering a juicy steak (rare, please) and a lobster tail with gobs of butter, a vegetable and a salad.  We’re both looking forward to the meal, to say the least.  I tried making a dinner reservation from Costa Rica to no avail but once we arrive, we’ll take care of it right away.

You can be assured we’ll be returning with many new photos and descriptions of our mini vacation in Managua Nicaragua (with the intent of getting our passports stamped allowing us to stay in Costa Rica the remaining three-plus weeks and to celebrate our 5-year world travel anniversary).

Have a lovely weekend.  We’ll be back soon!


Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2016:

The hotel chef at the Hilton Garden Inn Ngurah Airport in Denpasar Bali made a special spicy sauce to go with my chicken skewers. It was delicious!  For more photos, please click here.