Travel day…Holding our breath…Three days until we’re back in Mumbai..Today is the 8th anniversary of when we began posting…

This is the grass left from harvesting rice. Note the horns on these buffalos. Indian ricegrass is highly palatable to livestock and wildlife. It is a preferred feed for cattle, horses, and elk in all seasons. In spring, it is considered a preferred feed for sheep, deer, and antelope and a desirable feed for sheep, deer, and antelope in late fall and winter.

Today, we were on the move again, a three-hour drive from Trichy to Madurai, from which, in three days, we’ll fly back to Mumbai. From there, two nights in the same hotel where we first stayed when we arrived in India on January 31st while awaiting the Maharajas Express weeklong train journey.

With so many flight cancellations, there’s no doubt we are a little apprehensive about our flight taking off and that we’re able to get into South Africa, whereas yet, there are no travel bans. A lot can happen in the next five days.
Festival in the street. “Meena Sankranti is an important Hindu festival observed on the auspicious occasion of the sun’s transition from Pisces to Aries. Known as Meena Sankramanam in South India, the festival will be celebrated on March 14 (Saturday), 2020, all over India. Celebrating a Sankranti is often marked with the donation of various things. According to specific personal needs, they people celebrate the event at the onset of every month. Some Indian states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala observe the occasion during the beginning of each month. In contrast, states like West Bengal celebrate the festival during the latter half of the month.”

The news throughout the world is alarming as more and more cases crop up. Now the US is listed as a “travel ban country’ along with Italy, UK, and many European countries. This is one of those scenarios where you can “run, but you can’t hide.” Few countries are free of this plight.

As an avid enthusiast of science fiction and futuristic movies, I easily recall many movies I’ve watched about pandemics, horrified by the prospects and yet curious to see how it rolled out. And, here we are now, it feels as if we’re living in one of those movies, and we’re the crazy travelers trying to figure out what to do.

We’re confident heading back to Marloth Park is an intelligent choice. But, getting there might be dicey. Lots of people and cramped quarters on three flights with people around us coughing and sneezing makes us a little nervous. 
The festival continued along the road.

Yes, while in Arizona, we did purchase heavy-duty military-grade face masks, not for Covid-19 at the time, but for the pollution in India. Now that we already have them, despite any criticism we may experience, we’ll be wearing them on the flights. 

At this point, we can’t care what other people think when seeing us in the masks. We care about our safety in crowded, potentially dangerous situations. Airports and airplanes are the worst offenders at any time, let alone during this pandemic.

At this point, we’re anxious to get back to Mumbai, repack our bags, and prepare for the long travel day. Once again, we’ll have to get up at 3:00 am to make the 6:30 am to make the first leg from Mumbai to Nairobi. The drive to the airport is usually only about 30 minutes, with traffic lighter than early in the day.

There were dozens of participants.

Upon awakening, Tom reminded me that today is the 8th anniversary since we began our first post on March 15, 2012. If you didn’t have an opportunity to read that first post, please click here.

It’s hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we have done this for eight years. In the beginning, there was only a new story every two or three days. By 2013, we’ve been preparing a report with photos every day since except power outages, WiFi connection issues, and when I was hospitalized.

Today’s post is #2774! If someone had asked me to commit to writing a new story every day during this period, I would have stated it wasn’t possible to commit to such a task. 

A small band was leading the procession.

But, dear readers, as the years have passed, it’s become more accessible and easier. Tom always jokes about my lack of “writer’s block,” but I must admit I never have a problem with the content of the new day’s story. The words seem to flow from my fingers as opposed to my brain.  

And yes, many times, our stories are mundane and boring and, our photos are blurry and of little significance, but somehow we continue. Yes, I make typos, spelling, and spacing errors, although I use an app to help make corrections. And Also, Tom proofreads every day as he “fact checks” everything I write.

He tends to remember finite details where I am often distracted by searching for good photo ops of our surroundings, trying to imagine which photos would most appeal to our readers. Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes we’re wrong. It’s always a work in progress.

As I write here now, we’ve arrived at the lovely Regency Hotel in Madurai where we’ll stay for the next three days. At this point, we have little interest in sightseeing with all the crowds everywhere. 

Indian music is quite beautiful.

Most likely, we’ll spend our days at the hotel working online and our evenings relaxing with a glass of wine for me or a cocktail for Tom and then off for what we hope will be a nice dinner. We’ll report back.

Beginning tomorrow and over the next four days, until we depart for South Africa, we’ll be posting many photos we’ve yet to share, along with some favorite photos.
 
Once we arrived in Marloth Park on Saturday, we’ll begin to share the many wonders of this magical place. We won’t be in the Orange house until it’s available on May 1 (or sooner if other bookings cancel), but we have no doubt plenty of “visitors” will stop by to say hello, both the human and animal kind.
 
We can’t wait to be there, feeling safer, with groceries stocked, plenty of pellets on hand, our bags unpacked, and a camera in hand ready to capture the wonder. And then, our friends…

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2019:

We were thrilled to see the return of a mating pair of hornbills. For more photos, please click here.

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