Vague and confusing rules to re-enter South Africa…Three days and counting…

If I could eat sweets, most likely I’d choose some of these. We wondered what they did with the items that didn’t sell and how many days they stayed in the case.

As it turned out, the two Covid-19 antigen tests we purchased at Walgreens are not suitable for travel. In my state of COVID brain fog, along with a long queue in the pharmacy that day, I failed to ask the question to the pharmacist before I purchased the kits.

We’d used the same brand name kit to enter the US, but apparently, the tests I purchased in the US don’t have the red stripe across the box. It is the brand name, but it didn’t say it couldn’t be used for travel. Upon further investigation online, Tom discovered these test kits wouldn’t work.

These baked goods for sale at the Lucky Penny are much larger than they appear in this photo.

The next point was the confusion over whether South Africa requires a PCR or antigen test. According to several government sites, on March 22, 2022, it was no longer necessary to have a PCR test to enter the country if a person had a valid vaccination card.

The tricky part is they won’t accept the CDC white vaccination cards, which we have. They will only accept a vaccination certificate with a QR code.

These baked goods are twice the size of those you’d find in a bakery. Everything in Las Vegas is vast!

Yesterday afternoon, we spent hours finding out where and how we could get such a certificate. If we had weeks to spare, we could request it and get it in the mail at our “home” address. Well, that doesn’t work for us. Our only option is to get a new PCR test at a drive-through at CVS pharmacy. We don’t have a car. We’ll have to pay for a taxi to take us to CVS’s drive-through to get the test.

But that expense is a lot less than having a company come to the hotel to do our tests. After checking with the concierge, we discovered the cost is US $199 per person. Our taxi bill will be a lot less than the US $398.

These macaroons were the size of a man’s fist and stuffed with something creamy.

This is a bit frustrating, especially after all we’ve been through the past four-plus weeks. Our two tests are booked at a nearby CVS for 11:00, and 11:10 am tomorrow. We should have the results by Saturday, which we’ll print at the hotel, along with our rental agreement with Louise, which is required to enter the country for three months.

The next hurdle we had to handle was that we couldn’t find confirmation for the 90-day car rental for the vehicle we’re picking up at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport (MQP). Indeed the issue was more about Covid brain fog and our lack of ability to locate the booking information easily. This has never been an issue for us. I always enter the booking details on our Cozi travel calendar. There was nothing there.

These massive chocolate cream puffs made my mouth water. The brownies on the far right were at least 4″ squares.

We spent at least two hours figuring out which car rental company we’d used and which company was supplying the car. We went through past credit card statements and finally found three small deposits we’d paid in March. Finally, we figured it out, after calling the company..

This error occurred when we were rushed to book this entire trip to the US, one hotel and flight after another. When we returned to South Africa, the records for that one rental car fell through the cracks when we were swamped booking flights and vehicles for Florida, Minnesota, and Nevada.

Yes, we love bacon, but I’m not sure about chocolate-covered bacon. Thank goodness I can’t have sugar. I’d have been tempted to try it. I encouraged Tom to try one of these fantastic items, but he prefers plain old-fashioned doughnuts, which weren’t available.

Thankfully, all is fine now, and the car will be waiting for us at the airport next Tuesday. However, we weren’t able to secure a straight 90-day booking. Every 30 days, we’ll have to return the car to Nelspruit (a three-hour turnaround) to sign another 30-day contract. However, we will make every effort to convince them to let us send them photos of the car and odometer readings to allow us to keep it the entire time. We shall see how that goes.

Whew! Lots of challenges this time around. Fortunately, with sheer determination, I managed to set up my new laptop completely, finishing early this morning. That’s a relief to have out of the way. In the next few days, we’ll reorganize the contents of our luggage, weighing everything to ensure we comply. Then, at 4:00 am Sunday, we’ll leave the hotel for the airport.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 19, 2021:

This photo astounded us. See the post for details of the unusual phenomenon from our trail cam in Marloth Park. For more information, please click here.

What an undertaking!…Switching from Chromebook to Windows 11…

Tom’s dinner consisted of a fresh turkey club sandwich and chips (fries) when we dined once again in the Lucky Penny restaurant in the resort.

In the “old” days switching from one Windows computer to another was implemented by using a cable between the old and new computers. Some apps and data could be transferred wirelessly or using a flash drive or external hard drive as time progressed.

But now, after using a Chromebook for the past two-plus years, and storing all my saved files on the cloud, Google Drive, I need to rethink how I store and use the information we need to keep. I saved all my old files on an external hard drive and the cloud from the time I last used Windows in early 2020, but I don’t want to clutter this laptop with all those unnecessary files. This time, I am starting anew.

Our old posts and photos are stored online, so there’s no issue there. The old posts and included photos can easily be accessed via our archives. There is no need for me to save any of those offline. New bookings, photos, and financial information will be easier to access via files and folders saved on my desktop, which I missed with the Chromebook. There is no way to save folders on the desktop on a Chromebook, at least not by any means by which I was familiar.

Gosh, when I think of people who are not computer savvy and find it necessary to make a change such as this, it baffles me how they’d get through this process. Indeed, it would be daunting and overwhelming.  Then again, those who are very active on and offline already know how to do this stuff. For those who use email and Facebook and browse online, it could be relatively easy.

Tom’s daily breakfast in the Lucky Penny; eggs, hash browns, ham and toast with jelly. He’s certainly enjoying this big meal.

But, for those seeking to participate in advanced tasks, such as keeping detailed and accurate records for business and personal use, making such a change could be time-consuming and difficult. I am not finding it difficult. But, starting from scratch  it will take some time.

So far, as I’m preparing today’s post, I keep encountering the necessity of adding apps I use in preparing each day’s post, some of which are Google-related (Chromebook), not Microsoft-related (Windows). I have found it necessary to continue to use some Google features I like, such as Google Photos, Google Keep, and… I may keep using the Gmail app instead of Outlook. I was never a big fan of Outlook, even in the early days when I used it exclusively.

In any case, I won’t continue to bore our readers with this massive change after today’s mention. Each day, I’ll add more and more apps and files, and perhaps in the next week or so, I’ll have it done. I am looking forward to being done, although I must admit, I enjoy doing this for some odd reason.

As I prepare today’s post, I’m thrilled about how much easier it is to type. When I started working on this Lenovo Flex 5 yesterday afternoon, I automatically banged extra hard on the letter “L,” which motivated me to purchase a new laptop. Other keys and the spacebar required me to bang on the keys to get a result.

My breakfast of three egg white gluten free tortillas, with chicken, guacamole, salsa and onions. It is low carb and very delicious.

What a pleasure it is now. I can type easily, although I am learning to use a different keyboard with numerical keys on the far right that I didn’t have on the old Chromebook. Thus, I need to position my hands toward the left to avoid accidentally hitting numbers instead of letters. In no time at all, I’ll get used to this change.

How are we feeling today”? Tom says he is 75% to 80% better than a week ago. I am, too, but I am still experiencing a lot of congestion, a sinus-type headache, and a degree of lethargy. Although not a napper like Tom, I am getting well over eight hours of sleep each night, according to my Fitbit. It seems sleep is the most beneficial aspect for the recovery of Omicron. We tested positive four weeks ago today.

In four days, we’ll depart for South Africa on a two day journey, spending one night in Johannesburg to avoid driving on the dangerous Highway N4 at night. There have been countless car-jackings using a device called spiking which tear up a car’s tires and causes drivers to stop and get out of their vehicles. At that point, the drivers and passengers are often killed and robbed of their belongings. This is scary. There is no way we’d drive on that highway in the dark.

Well, folks, that’s it for today. Sorry for the lack of interesting photos. Neither of us feels up to looking for photos ops right now. We’ll have plenty of opportunities when we’ll be back in Marloth Park in less than a week.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 18, 2021:

Mongoose waited at the door for food before we’d even gone outside in the morning. For more photos, please click here.

Tasks, done and dusted…Setting up my new laptop…

My new laptop. See the specs below.

This morning, we picked up the hotel arranged rental, a new BMW, a lovely car, much more upscale than many we rent while living in different countries. It was an easy process. We arrived at the concierge desk, and within 10 minutes, the car was delivered to the valet area, where we jumped in and were on our way.

Well, I shouldn’t say “jumped in.” I am recovering more slowly. We’re still somewhat weak and lethargic, me more so than Tom. He’s rapidly on the mend, off of all medication, and regaining daily strength and stamina. The headache over my left eye is relentless, making me wonder if I may have developed a sinus infection from having Covid.

I’m not going to a doctor here in Nevada. Once we return to Marloth Park a week from today, I will make an appointment with Dr. Theo, as will Tom, to be checked after the dreadful round of Omicron, lasting a month so far. I can’t wait to feel like my energized self, as I had when we left Marloth Park on March 23, after I’d been vigorously walking 7000 to 8000 steps a day.

We’re getting in about 5000 steps a day in this vast property, but I am exhausted after each walk through the property. This is a typical after-effect of having a more extreme case of Omicron, not significant enough to require hospitalization but dramatic enough to impact the quality of our lives over the past many weeks.

Tom’s new Samsonite suitcase.

The thought of heading out shopping for a new laptop for me and a large suitcase for Tom intimidated me. How would I feel walking around Costco feeling as weak as I do? But, somehow, once inside the giant store, with the prospect of buying a new laptop, a burst of adrenaline and enthusiasm got me through selecting a computer that would serve my heavy use needs.

I selected a Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 with an Intel i7 processor, a lighted keyboard, and a touchscreen with Windows 11, including these specs:

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 15IIL05 81X3000VUS (Intel i7-1065G7 4-Core, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Plus, 15.6″ Touch Full HD (1920×1080), Fingerprint, Win 11 Home) Graphite Grey Convertible Laptop

This same laptop is for sale on Amazon for US $999. The Costco price was US $799, but we had a shop card from Costco for US $310 plus a $80 credit from our prior use of our Costco Premium membership. We only had to pay the difference with tax. We feel comfortable that we got a good deal.

It was nice to ride in an excellent car like this BMW that we rented through the hotel for US $79 a day. We’ll turn it back in tomorrow morning.

I am still typing on my old Chromebook with the bad letter “L.” As it turned out, this cheap HP Chromebook wasn’t sophisticated enough for my heavy use. This new computer has a larger monitor, better for our regular streaming of various services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. The screen’s better resolution will be a big bonus as well.

Two of my favorite features are the built-in card reader for my camera and the lighted keyboard. Although I don’t type much in the dark, I’ve always loved a lighted keyboard and haven’t been able to get this feature on my last few laptops. I am thrilled to have this now.

I encouraged Tom to get a new one like mine, but his Chromebook still works well, and he has no interest in replacing it right now. By tomorrow morning, I will have everything set up on the new machine and be able to post using it. We will keep this old laptop for streaming news broadcasts, sports, and other background shows while working on our regular laptops.

After the trip to Costco, where Tom had no luck finding a new large suitcase, we headed to TJ Maxx and within minutes found Tom a fantastic black Samsonite bag, easy to identify with two tan stripes running down the black surface. He’s already moved his clothes into the new bag and is content with his purchase.

The car has an elaborate console.

Then, we stopped at Walgreens Pharmacy to pick up a few Covid-19 antigen test kits we’ll use the day we depart for South Africa on Sunday.

That’s it for today, folks. I am anxious to wrap this up to continue setting up my new laptop. Switching from Chromebook to Windows 11 will be time-consuming, but I am looking forward to working on it. I won’t be carrying over all the junk files from the past by doing a manual update so that I can start with a clean slate. All of my old files are on Google Drive, which I will easily be able to access on this new device.

It may take me weeks to get everything set up to my liking since I’m not feeling 100%, but I have all the time in the world.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2021:

Kudus stopped by for pellets at sundowner time. While watching wildlife, it will be fun to be back in the bush, feeling better and sipping on an adult beverage, such as my favorite Skinny (ow alcohol) red wine. We haven’t had a drink in almost a month. For more photos, please click here.

On the move again…We’re off to Las Vegas…

The pool at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa where we’ll arrive later today.

The thought of the upcoming trip to Las Vegas is a bit intimidating. Neither of us is feeling as well as we’d like to be able to travel. Knowing that in one week from today, the two travel days to Marloth Park are even more intimidating, but hopefully, we’ll have recovered all the more by then.

Tom is still coughing, considerably more than me, but I have the fierce Covid headache that comes and goes along with a lesser cough and lots of congestion. We are not our usual “travel-ready” selves. We have no idea how the airplane’s cabin pressure will feel right now.

But, it was only two weeks ago that we flew the long distance from the UK to Minnesota when our symptoms were worse (we tested negative), and the journey was over 12 hours from airport to airport. I barely remember that trip except for the several movies we watched during the flight.

There are rarely entertainment screens on these shorter US domestic flights, so the 3½ hours will drag on. There’s no point in upgrading to business class for this short flight. We’ll check into upgrading when we fly back to South Africa a week from today. Gosh, that’s coming up quickly.

We would have flown back to South Africa from the UK two weeks ago in a perfect world. But, we’d already paid for all of our flights and hotels in advance and wouldn’t get refunds, only credits which we may or may not be able to use in the future with time restrictions on them. We assumed we’d feel better at some point and be able to continue with our plans to see family, but it just didn’t work out that way.

As it turned out, yesterday afternoon, we drove out to son Greg’s house and saw the three grandkids and Greg, who greeted us outside while we stayed in the car wearing masks. Miles had yet to get a negative Covid test, and we couldn’t take any chances. That’s not to say we won’t have risks flying on an airplane when the US doesn’t require Covid tests to fly on domestic flights. Ah, you can run, but you can’t hide from this pandemic. It’s everywhere.

It was wonderful to see the sweet smiling faces, all wearing braces, of the three teenagers and Greg. Camille wasn’t feeling well and was sick in bed, so we didn’t see her. It was only for a few minutes with no hugs and kisses, but we were glad we saw them.

  • It didn’t work out to see Tom’s family members. We can only look forward to the next time we visit the USA when that is up for grabs. We don’t have a clue when we will return. When we can start booking again, we’ll have a better idea.

We asked for and received a late check out from our hotel today. We’ll head out around 1:00 pm, drop off the rental car, and head to the gate to wait for the flight. Last night, Tom checked us in for the Delta flight and paid for our bags, US $140 for all of our checked bags. We had more bags this time due to the extra dressy clothes for the Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, on which we never sailed due to contracting Covid-19 on the last two days on the Celebrity Silhouette cruise.

Ah, this wasn’t the ideal travel experience we usually encounter. But, this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, at any time. No one is exempt from this virus regardless of how hard we’ve tried to stay safe over the past few years.

We’ll make the best of this last week in the US and then be on our way back to the safe haven we’ve found in the bush. The thought of being back in Marloth Park by May 24th is comforting.

Next time we write, we’ll be doing so from the comfort of our lovely hotel room at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2021:

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house, and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver. For more photos, please click here.

One day and counting…Tom is on the mend…Maybe seeing family today…

Last July out to dinner on Camille’s birthday with my son Greg, wife Camille, and three grandchildren, Madighan, Miles, and Maisie. I wish we could have done something like this while we were here this time.

Tomorrow afternoon at 3:45, our flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas takes off. Hauling all of our bags at the confusing and overly busy airport in Las Vegas is daunting. It’s not as simple as deboarding the plane and making our way to baggage claim.

We have to take a train with our bags to a waiting area to take a shuttle to the car rental area. The last time we arrived in Las Vegas, we had to stand in line for almost an hour to board the shuttle to get to the rental car area and then wait another 30 minutes to get the car.

At this point in our Covid-19 recovery, I can’t imagine either of us standing for so long, especially while handing the bags without a trolley which isn’t allowed in the queue. Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of leaving me at the pickup level with all of the bags while Tom does this part on his own.

I wish I could do this for him, but the rental car is in his name as the only driver, and they’d never turn the car over to me. It’s the nature of the beast. But, it will be a whole lot easier for him without the bags in tow. Once he gets the car, he’ll drive to the area where I’ll be waiting for him. He’ll call me when he arrives. I’ll have the bags with me on the trolley.

Once we load the bags, we’ll be on our way to the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, about a 20-minute drive from the airport. Then, we’ll begin to focus on our recovery. We haven’t made plans with Richard yet, but we probably won’t see him and his girlfriend until Monday night for dinner.

There are numerous restaurants in the resort. We are never happy with room service food, preferring to have more control over what we’ll have for dinner. On Monday morning, for the first time in almost four weeks, we’ll have breakfast in a restaurant, the lovely Lucky Penny restaurant in the casino. It will be easy for us to do another night of takeaway, which we’ll have in our room.

Tom is feeling well enough he doesn’t see any benefit to returning to Urgent Care. Once we return to Marloth Park in 10 days, we’ll book appointments with Dr. Theo to be checked for any residual symptoms we may be experiencing at that time. We’re hoping by that time, we’ll be fully recovered but based on how slow improvement has been,

I’m not entirely sure we’ll be free of symptoms. We will be very grateful if we are free of the annoying and uncomfortable symptoms that have lingered for 3½ weeks since we initially tested positive on April 20 while still on the ship.

This morning, I am doing our final loads of laundry. It’s taking everything I have in me to manage these two loads of laundry. This may be the last time we’ll do laundry until we arrive in South Africa on May 24. Everything we do is in slow motion right now.

This afternoon, we plan to drive over to Greg and Camille’s house and see everyone from the car. No kissing. No hugging. Just quick hellos and goodbyes from the vehicle with our masks on. With us still coughing, it’s too risky for them to be too close to us, and with Miles’ recent positive tests, any of them could be asymptomatic, carrying a variant different from our recent infection.

Too much is still unknown about Covid. With conflicting opinions online on the length of contagion while still experiencing active symptoms, it’s vague about the potential of us infecting anyone else. We are most likely safe, but we are also concerned about getting reinfected by others.

So there it is folks. We are very grateful that getting Covid wasn’t worse than it was, requiring hospitalization. Our two weeks in Minnesota were spent in isolation in a hotel room once again.  We are anxious to get on with our lives, hopefully soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2021:

Three wildebeests were lying in the driveway shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived for sundowners. For more photos, please click here.

Hiding in the bathroom during tornado warnings!…A delightful surprise from a local reader/friend!!!…Three days and counting…

What a fantastic surprise and treat. I couldn’t be more grateful to friend/reader Joanette for her thoughtfulness.

We were watching another episode of Outlander. With Tom’s bad hearing and now stuffy head, we had the streaming show on the TV loud. Surprisingly, these rooms in the hotel are fairly sound-proof. But I heard some strange noises outside,  sounding like a train.

Immediately, I jumped up from the bed, and then we heard the sirens. Tornadoes had been sighted in Eden Prairie, exactly where we are located. Indeed, we were in the midst of a severe weather warning, requiring everyone to take shelter. We turned off the streaming show to get to the news.

This container is filled with delicious low-carb chocolate muffins. Note the recipe on top by zooming in.

Opening the door when I heard noises in the hallway, I saw no less than 20 people sitting on the corridor floor, their backs to the wall, waiting out the storm. We decided to stay in the room but moved all the “important” stuff into the windowless bathroom where we’d be safe from flying glass or worse if this hotel complex were to be hit directly.

We couldn’t get a good stream on our phones or laptops with weather reports. When the sirens ended, we returned to the room and checked the TV for weather reports which continued for hours. Winds in the range of 80 to 90 mph (128 km to 145 kph) came through along with some “touching down,” but fortunately not enough to do much damage other than to roofs and trees).

We sighed with relief. It had been a while since we encountered such a tornado-producing storm. It had been almost ten years ago when we still lived in Minnesota. Severe spring and summer storms are common in Minnesota and the midwest. Entire towns are wiped out due to significant tornadoes.

The bag of sugar-free chocolate chips will come in handy when we return to Marloth Park.

In any case, last night’s storm died down, and we could finish watching our show until we were ready to go to sleep. More of the same caliber storms are predicted for today, so we’ll keep an eye out and take shelter again if necessary.

Yesterday, Joanette, a long-time reader/friend who lives in the Minneapolis area, sent me an email stating she was stopping by with a container of low-carb chocolate muffins she’d made. I was blown away by her generosity and thoughtfulness. We’ve been sitting in this hotel room for the past 11 days, and a treat like this means the world to me.

Joanette had included this lovely card with a special message on the inside and the back. See below.

I explained we wouldn’t see her when she and her hubby came to the hotel. We didn’t want to take any chances whatsoever, for them, for us. But, when the front desk called at noon, saying a package had been delivered for me, I swooned with delight.  Joanette included a good-sized container of the most delicious low carb (2 grams each) chocolate muffin, but she included a thoughtful card, a bag of sugar-free chocolate chips, and a beautiful card, photos of which I’ve included here today.

It was hard for me not to try the muffins all day, but I resisted and waited until after dinner, when I made a dessert-like ritual of putting two muffins on the glass plate and savoring every bite. Tom doesn’t do well eating dark chocolate, so he won’t eat any of the muffins, which is a plus for me.

In 2017, we met Joanette for the first time when we had a get-together here in Minneapolis for our local readers. She brought me one of those muffins on that occasion, knowing I followed a low carb/keto way of eating. Since I can’t get all of the ingredients in most countries, I never made them, although I often thought about that muffin when craving something chocolate. I devoured that single muffin that night, and she remembered how much I loved it.

This message, on the back of the card, reminded us of our lives, always on a mission to adapt to circumstances, regardless of how hard they may be. We’ve used pool water on many occasions to flush the toilet!

Now in the tiny kitchen is a container stocked with the chocolate muffins (minus the two I ate last night), and it’s such a treat for me. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, Joanette!!! You are a kind and generous soul!!!

Now, Thursday, we are only three days from departing for Las Vegas. Tom started the Cortisone today, as prescribed, in addition to day three of two antibiotics, along with the other medications. Hopefully, this medication will escalate his recovery to another level, making it possible for us to fly to Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon. He says if we were leaving today, he could do it. But, I am happy it’s not for another three days, giving him more time to recover. He’s got a long way to go to recover.

When the housekeeper cleans our room today, we’ll head back to Cub Foods for a few more items to get us through the next three days so we won’t have to go out to eat or do takeaway. We haven’t had a single meal in a restaurant since we got off the ship infected with Covid-19, on April 21, over three weeks ago.

Since we can’t see family, I can’t wait to return to Marloth Park to make a tasty, healthy dinner with a big side salad to savor while seated on the veranda overlooking the garden, watching an entirely new batch of wildlife stopping by to check us out. New wildlife friends will be made, new names will be introduced, and if “safari luck” prevails, we may see a few familiar wildlife friends from our last house in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 12, 2021:

What an interesting bird! It’s a spooned-billed stork we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more, please click here.

Late post…Tom had to go to Urgent Care…Not a good diagnosis…

My guy, only a few days before Covid hit on the ship.

When we rent a car,  the rate doesn’t include the spouse or family member as permitted to drive the vehicle. Last year, we decided it wasn’t worth thousands of extra dollars a year to pay for me to be able to drive rental cars, so basically, I stopped driving. I can’t drive a stick shift vehicle with my left hand or drive safely on the opposite side of the road I was used to in the US.

Besides, I am a lousy driver. If there is an emergency, I can drive.  I will keep my driver’s license up to date when it’s often used for ID in our travels. If I were to drive the rental vehicle when I wasn’t included in the contract, the insurance would be negated. It’s not worth the risk. Thus, around the time of my 73rd birthday, I gave up driving.

In the US, with a car rental contract not including me, Tom, while sick, has had to drive us to Urgent Care. I felt so bad about this when he was “coughing up a lung.” On Sunday, we made the 10-minute drive to an Urgent Care facility, MedExpress, which we had used when visiting the US in 2017, and found the care and service good. But there was no x-ray tech on duty so we had to return today.

Well, a lot has changed since 2017. One doesn’t simply walk in the door of an Urgent Care with a mask on and meander over to the reception area to check in. Each prospective patient must do the following to be seen:

  1. Using one’s smartphone, scan the QR code on the notice on the front door
  2. Gain access to the clinic’s WiFi system to register for the appointment
  3. Complete about ten pages of questions
  4. Read all the HIPAA documents (patient privacy) and sign multiple documents in the box that appears on the phone.
  5. Submit the documents
  6. Wait for a phone call from the reception area, asking more questions. 10 to 15-minute wait
  7. Provide credit card number, expiration, and PIN for them to process the basic US $149.99 fee. Additional fees may apply.
  8. Hang up and wait for a call back to be allowed to enter the facility. 30 to 45-minute wait or longer if they are very busy
  9. Receive the call asking for detailed symptoms and the reason for the visit. Then, get informed to enter the building. Sit in “chairs” socially distanced while waiting to be escorted to a treatment room.
  10. Wait in the treatment room for 10 to 15-minutes for a medical professional to enter and examine the patient.

After all this and Tom’s detailed description of his symptoms, x-rays were ordered. Then, we waited for about 40 minutes for the x-rays to be read by a radiologist at another location. The PA came back into the treatment room to explain that Tom has Covid Pneumonia and would need a considerable treatment regime including six medications; two antibiotics, two different inhalers using the electric nebulizer we purchased in India in 2020, a cough medicine in a capsule form and cortisone tablets, not to be started until May 12, having given the antibiotics time to kick in.

Covid pneumonia appears as honeycombs in x-rays, a rare phenomenon of the many peculiar symptoms of the dreaded virus. He is supposed to return to the clinic for a check-up before leaving for Nevada next Sunday. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better, and we’ll be able to fly out.

We were given a stack of papers with written instructions and Covid precautions, much of which we already knew. Of course, during the entire duration of Covid, I spent hours researching how and why Tom’s case manifested as Covid pneumonia. It happens to more people than you’d think, and the recovery can take weeks, if not months.

The PA called in the six prescriptions to the Walgreen Pharmacy across the street from the clinic. We checked out of the clinic after paying the extra US $50 for the x-ray. In moments, we were at the drive-through window at Walgreens, only to be told to return in an hour. The prescriptions weren’t ready.

We returned to the hotel, and Tom jumped under the covers for a 45-minute nap. He awoke in time for the hour to have passed, and once again, we headed back to Walgreens. It was at least a 45 minutes wait once I checked in with the pharmacist. I wanted to speak to the pharmacist personally to review the drugs, ensure we had everything prescribed, and ask a few questions.

The drive back to the hotel was hard for Tom with his constant coughing. Again, I begged him to let me drive, but he refused, knowing we didn’t need any added stress if something happened. We returned to the hotel to find the cleaners had yet to clean our room. We waited in the lobby for 30 minutes while the room was serviced.

Finally, we made it back to the room, and again Tom got under the covers. I went through each medication and gave him everything he needed, including his first breathing treatment, which required set-up and subsequent cleaning. The total cost for all of the meds was US $300.24. I set up reminders on my phone for each of the medications, ensuring we don’t miss a dose.

At that point, I took a huge plastic bowl to the building across the driveway to an ice machine on the second floor. The ice machine in this building hasn’t been working since we arrived eight days ago. I filled the ice cube trays with water, and between the big bowl of ice from the machine and the trays, that should get us through a day or two.

Then, the toilet overflowed. I don’t need to get into details, but you know how that happens. I then went to the front desk and got a plunger and extra towels. I wanted Tom to be able to sleep and not have to worry about maintenance coming to the door. In minutes, I unplugged the toilet, cleaned up the floor, returned the plunger, and bagged up the wet towels.

We had no idea, but our former next-door neighbor and friend, Nelleke, is the x-ray tech in the facility. We have stayed in touch, and she reads our posts regularly. It was wonderful to see her but sad under the circumstances. We hope to see her and Dave and our other old neighbors/friends when we return next time. We’ve all stayed in close touch.

So there it is folks. It hasn’t been fun since we disembarked the ship in Southampton, missed our next cruise on the Queen Mary 2, spent ten days in England trying to recover, and now over a week here with ongoing symptoms of Covid, Tom’s case has been much worse than mine. I feel pretty good except for an annoying cough now and then. Good thing I am well enough to help him get through this.

Sometimes, being nomads is not fun. But, if we had a home somewhere, we could still be in the same situation. Except under these circumstances, I don’t have to clean, vacuum the floor, take out the trash or mow the lawn. We can focus on getting well and soon be on our way.

Please continue to do everything you can to avoid getting Covid. For us, it’s been a lot worse than a “bad cold.”

Take care.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2021:

This male must have been the dominant male. He came right up to the table to ask for more pellets. For more photos, please click here.

WoW! WoW! WoW! The response has been terrific!!!. Thanks, Everyone!!!…Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!!!…

Not only was the excitement of the interview at KSTP studios on Friday with the cast of Garage Logic fulfilling and energizing, but the response from current readers and new readers sent us swooning with delight. The endless stream of email messages and texts made the experience more meaningful and profound.

We have no doubt that our readership catapulted after Friday’s airing of the podcast with Joe Soucheray, Chris Reevers, and Kenny Olson. With their following of over 2,000,000 listeners, it’s not surprising we’d hear from a few of them. But, along with our reader’s wonderful comments, the comments from those who have never seen our site were an added joy to the experience.

We spent the better part of the afternoon replying to messages and again this morning. I didn’t even get a chance to start the post until 11:00 am.

This morning, I started another two loads of laundry. Since we haven’t been out to see family, dine out and socialize, we’ve only worn the most basic clothes; tee shirts, leggings, pants, and sweatshirts. Thank goodness we brought along very casual items as well as all those dressy clothes we never got to wear when we had to cancel the Queen Mary 2 cruise, due to Covid. We didn’t know we’d be sick, lying around in casual attire for the past 18 days and nights.

It feels as if I am “out-of-the woods” from Covid. My cough doesn’t warrant cough medicine, except at night. The sore throat and tired feeling are gone, although I am a bit weak, have a headache off and on, and need to move around more. Last night, I slept almost nine hours without waking up during the night. Sleep has such amazing healing powers.

On the other hand, Tom is as sick as he was initially. If he isn’t better by tomorrow morning, we are going to Urgent Care again to which he had finally agreed. We went this morning but their x-ray tech didn’t show up for work so we have to return tomorrow morning. There’s no point in him seeing a doctor without an x-ray at this point.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that he’s agreed to return tomorrow. I’m assuming having Covid has resulted in bronchitis or pneumonia. He may need antibiotics and stronger cough medicine, perhaps with codeine, which seems to have worked well for him in the past. We’ll have to pay out-of-pocket since we have no US health insurance. But, that is a non-issue when it comes to our health.

I can’t believe how well he did on Friday during the interview. Other than the sound of his voice, there was no way to tell he was feeling so awful. He didn’t cough once during the interview, but we had each loaded up on cough medicine and cough drops before leaving the hotel.

But, now we are having another sick day in this hotel room. It is 2:30 pm on Mother’s Day, and my ill hubby is sound asleep under the covers, trying to find some relief. My heart goes out to him, and of course, I am very worried.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, we send the warmest wishes to all moms worldwide who celebrate this notable day of recognition. We hope your loved ones make it extra special in many ways.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2021:

Our friend Patty Pan in Marloth Park had a python under her car’s hood. Not our photo. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic interview at Garage Logic’s studio…

Please click on the above video for a shortened version of our Garage Logic interview. See below for the full interview.

5/6 We finally get to meet the traveling Lymans, Tom and Jessica, who were so spellbinding that they became today's episode

Please click on the above bold type to access the audio version of our interview with Joe Soucheray of Garage Logic.

After a difficult night for both of us, coughing and sneezing, we wondered how we got ready to head to St. Paul to the KSTP studio for our interview with Joe Soucheray and his co-hosts Chris Reuvers and Kenny Olson.

The idea of the 30-minute drive in traffic was daunting in itself, let alone being able to sit in the studio and tell our story as questions were posed to us. Once, we were greeted in the lobby by co-host Chris, who walked us down a long hallway to the Garage Logic studio.

Once we entered the studio, we forgot about our lingering coughs, and magic happened. Joe is an exceptional interviewer, and his two co-hosts frequently jumped in with thouhgt provoking comments and questions. Our interview was planned for 15 minutes, and it ended up taking up the entire show. We had so much fun it could easily have gone longer.

We’d both taken 12-hour doses of cough medicine a few hours before the event, hoping we’d make it through. Tom did well, although listening to the podcast later, it was easy to determine he was very stuffed up. I had to hold back a coughing jag on one instance. Also, the sound of my voice was unfamiliar when later listening to the podcast.

Our answers flowed with ease, along with Tom interspersing tidbits of humor, which he often does in general conversation. We all laughed with gusto on many occasions.

Over the past 9½ years of traveling the world, we’ve easily developed a way of sharing morsels of our experiences where we each take turns adding highlights of our experiences. Joe, Chris, and Kenny easily made this familiar banter flow with all the more fluidity than ever.

We couldn’t stop smiling throughout the entire interview. Telling our story only reminds us of how fortunate we are to live this unique lifestyle, be together as this well-matched couple during these experiences, and have developed a financial plan that allows us to continue traveling indefinitely.

Sometimes, it takes a scenario like this to remind us how grateful we are, especially after suffering from Covid-19 since April 20, when we first tested positive aboard the transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Southampton, England. Due to our positive diagnosis, we had to cancel our scheduled Queen Mary 2 cruise, sailing on April 24, arriving in New York on May 1, when we’d planned to fly to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to see family.

Not only were we too sick to go on the return cruise, but we continued to test positive until April 28, 29, and 30th, when we felt safe booking the flight from Gatwick Airport in London to Minneapolis for May 1, our original date of arrival after the Queen Mary 2 cruise.

Unfortunately, we purchased dressy clothes for the upscale cruise, which we won’t be able to wear when until we can use the full-fare credit for a future cruise on Cunard. We’ve had to haul those clothes with us this past month.

We couldn’t get a refund based on canceling last minute due to Covid. Hopefully, by the end of 2024, when the future cruise credit expires, we can book another cruise with this cruise line and use the credit. If not, it becomes another loss we’ve incurred due to the worldwide pandemic. Our losses over the past two years are in the $1000s.

Once we said our goodbyes to our hosts and thanked them for inviting us to the show, we headed back to our hotel. In the interim, we had a fantastic break from our current situation to revel in being guests of the Garage Logic show/podcast. We felt temporarily rejuvenated, but the reality remained that we had a way to go to recover from this dreadful virus.

With their over 2,000,000 listeners, we’ve received countless email messages, warm greetings, and hits on our website after the podcast aired yesterday afternoon. Thank you, everyone!  What a boost for us!

Thanks to Joe, Chris, and Kenny for inviting us to this special experience, one we’ll never forget.

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2021:

We later named this young male bushbuck, Spikey. For more photos, please click here.

Did we come to Minnesota only to be disappointed?…

MINNEAPOLIS – JUNE 14: The Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on June 14, 2014, in Minneapolis, MN. It is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. Not our photo.

We were hoping to see family tonight. But when, yesterday morning, DIL Camille wrote that grandson Miles tested positive for Covid-19, we knew that wasn’t possible. Sure, we may not be contagious anymore. But, there is too much unknown data about contracting one variant after another.

Miles was infected here in Minnesota. We were infected on the cruise. Is there a chance we could become infected with a different variant? After doing considerable research, it’s unlikely but…it is possible. Also, are we contagious after testing negative three days in a row, over a week ago? Probably not.

My cough is considerably better, and I no longer need cough medicine. But, our big concern is the residual coughing from which both of us are suffering after most of the other Omicron symptoms have dissipated. Could it be contagious and only provide added risk for our family members? But not Tom. He is still sick.

We had a plan to meet up with Tom’s siblings on Friday, but now we won’t. Since Omicron variants are causing many infections in Minnesota.  We’d feel terrible if one of his siblings became ill after being around us. Is it best to stay away? We aren’t sure.

Yes, we’ve stayed in enough hotel rooms in the past few years. Besides, Tom isn’t up to going out right now and the long drive to Anoka, 40 minutes from our hotel. Instead, we stay hunkered down in ongoing isolation, reminiscent of bygone days in India in 2020.

Last night, we ordered enough dinner for two nights, so we won’t have to head out this evening during rush hour. We ordered online from Jimmy John’s, where they make the delicious “unwich,” the large subway-type sandwiches we love using large romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread. As previously mentioned in past posts, we often make these tasty sandwiches when we have access to quality gluten-free meats.

You may ask, why don’t we use a delivery service? We recently used England’s Deliveroo food delivery service when we didn’t have a car. But the hassle of waiting for the delivery outside the hotel in the cold was annoying, and each time the food and delivery were different.

When you’re sick and have an appetite as we have, the big highlight of the day is the next meal. Here, with a rental car, it’s easier to order our food online, inspect it when it’s ready, and then be on our way. Tonight will be a breeze.

This morning, we went to Walgreen’s pharmacy to get Tom more cough medicine and mentholated cough drops. We’d purchased several bags of sugar-free cough drops, but none were mentholated, which seems to be more helpful. Also, we bought daytime cough medicine, which is supposed to last for 12 hours. We’ll see how that goes.

It’s interesting to observe how pharmacists are less helpful in the US than in South Africa. In the US, liability is a huge concern for pharmacists (and other medical professionals), so they are less inclined to be aggressive with their suggestions. Mostly, their answers to questions are vague.

We’ve purchased many medications in other countries not requiring a doctor’s prescription. That’s not the case here. The pharmacists we use in Komatipoort are incredibly straightforward with their suggestions and don’t hesitate to “prescribe” what they think is safe and suitable for the patient.

Our current dilemma is: Will we be able to see family while we’re here? The answer is uncertain. Ultimately, our visit to the US may prove pointless if we cannot see those we love.

We apologize for the lack of photos. We’re hardly in a position to be taking photos right now.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2021:

Wildebeest Willie, whom we later renamed Broken Horn, became a regular visitor, stopping by a few times each day. For more photos, please click here.