Are we concerned about returning to South Africa during political unrest?…Photos from Tom’s cemetery visits…

Tom was not named after this grand uncle. This headstone is located at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

One year ago today, it was day #116 while we were in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, for almost ten months. The last post that we wrote from that hotel room was day #291. It’s hard to believe when we think back over 2020 while living in such unusual circumstances.

And yet, now, in the US, we feel far removed from that reality.  Oddly, we feel far removed from South Africa right now with its riots, killings, carjackings, and political unrest that we see all over the news. Many are shocked that we plan to return, leaving in a mere seven days to our temporary house in the bush in Marloth Park.

Tom’s ancestor, Thomas F. Lyman, was a grand uncle, brother to Tom’s grandfather, who passed away in 1931.

On yesterday’s five-plus-hour road trip from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, I spoke to my dear friend Karen who, along with her fiance Rich have been considering visiting us at some point in the next year. But, their logical concern over what’s transpiring in South Africa right now is undoubtedly justified.

To alleviate some of our family and friend’s concerns about our returning to South Africa, we explain that the political unrest transpires the equivalent of a “state away,” comparable to Wisconsin and Minnesota. This five-plus-hour drive is the distance from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. The horrifying riots and looting occur in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Nata provinces, not in Mpumalanga, where Marloth Park is located.

The top portion of the headstone for Thomas F. Lyman.

Our dear friend Kathy just arrived in Johannesburg a few days ago and her husband Don picked her up at the airport. From there, they made the five-hour drive to Marloth Park without incident. She mentioned that security was over-the-top on the N4 highway.  We’ll travel from the closer Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport on July 26th, and then commence the 90-minute drive to the park.

Of course, we feel a little apprehension about returning during this difficult time. Who wouldn’t be? But, then again, as we’ve mentioned in the past, there was rioting and looting in Minneapolis only 20 to 25 minutes from our family members and friends living in the area, only months ago.

St. Mary’s Cemetery is located in Hales Corner, Wisconsin, where many of his ancestors were buried.

There is nowhere on the planet that is entirely safe. We always proceed with as much caution as possible. We’ve encountered some of those risks along the way, some heart-pounding, some less problematic, but have come out on the other side. We knew these risks were real when we originally planned to travel the world.

As for our drive from Minneapolis to Milwaukee, the time flew by, mainly when I talked on the phone to Karen for 90 minutes. We had so much catching up to do. Then, I read a few interesting articles on my phone to Tom, contributing to the time flying quickly.

Before we knew it, we arrived at the first cemetery in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where Tom wanted to find cemetery plots for his ancestors and take photos to add to his substantial file in Ancestry.com. We both wandered through the wet grass at the cemetery and finally found a few plots. However, Tom was disappointed to discover that many of his ancestor’s plots were unmarked.

We arrived at the hotel in Milwaukee by 4:00 pm, did a little unpacking, and headed out the door for dinner by 5:30. With mostly fast-food restaurants nearby, we settled for a Chili’s restaurant for a quick bite to eat. The restaurant was dated and run down, but the food and service were fine. Our goal for Milwaukee was to see Sister Beth, not experience fine dining. Once we arrive in La Vegas, we’ll undoubtedly have an opportunity to enjoy better meals.

Back at the hotel by 7:00 pm, we streamed a few shows while we were shocked by the loud music in the room next to us. By 10:00 pm, we’d called the front desk twice to ask them to address the loud noise. It was frustrating. At this point, all we wanted was a good night’s sleep. By 11:00, it settled down, and we were able to accomplish our goal.

This morning, Tom took off to the second cemetery he wanted to visit in a nearby suburb, 17 miles from our hotel. I stayed behind to shower, dress and begin working on today’s post. Above are a few photos of the headstones Tom found at the cemeteries.

In a few hours, we’ll head out to visit Sister Beth and hopefully, if she’s up to it, spend the afternoon with her at the nursing home. Tomorrow, after one more visit with his sister, we’ll head back to Minneapolis to the airport, where, in the evening, we’ll fly to Las Vegas for five nights to visit son, Richard.

May your day be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2020:

There were 17 kudus in the garden that morning. See the video at this post for details.