Returned to Khaya Umdani from Nelspruit with new laptop...Vervet Monkey invasion photos...Great trip with only a few scary moments...


Many times we've seen Vervet Monkeys holding their babies, most often from a distance.  Rarely staying still long enough for a photo we were so excited to get these shots at Khaya Umdani.  We'd left yogurt out overnight for the bush babies, forgetting to bring it back inside in the morning.  Suddenly, we were surrounded by over a dozen monkeys only feet from us.  I asked Tom to avoid scaring them off until I got a few photos which we share with our readers today.
Becoming familiar with a new keyboard is tricky as I write today's post.  I'm not manually adept, as we so well know from my dropping habits. As a senior in high school my typing class teacher suggested I drop out after three weeks to avoid ruining an otherwise excellent grade point average.  I was on the verge of flunking typing.
Check out that pink ear which later changes to black as they mature.  Many of these photos were taken while I stayed put in my chair at the table on the veranda for fear of scaring them off.
I'd still flunk today.  After working on computers since the 1970's when at that time, they filled a room, I've yet to master the skill of typing without often looking at the keys.
They were as fascinated in us as we were in them.  However, if one of these gets inside the house, they are horribly destructive.  We chose not to eat anything outside to keep them at bay.  All windows and doors must be closed or guarded to keep them outside.
The problem now revolves around the fact that my new laptop (keep in mind I had few options at the Incredible Connection store n Nelspruit), doesn't have a lighted keyboard, as did the broken laptop.  Plus the placement of the keys is different enough to make me struggle as I type here now.
Sitting on a log, thinking about plans for the day!
But, we have proven that you can "teach an old dog new tricks" and soon I'll do at least as well as I did on the old laptop.  Do I like the new one?  Other than the lack of the lighted keyboard it has everything I need.  What did I get?  An HP (not my first brand choice) Pavilion 15-n213si Intel TouchSmart Notebook PC (Energy Star).  I'm OK with it.
"Shall I eat this or not?"
How's my installation going? Good so far, except I'm having trouble downloading MS Office.  I had the discs but lost the Product Key...thought I had it.  Alas, I have no choice but to repurchase. I had a very old version anyway, seven years old.  I guess it is time to bite the bullet and upgrade.  With all of our Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and email folders in Outlook with all of our future reservations, Office is a must.
This character jumped up on the fence around a first floor storage area.  At this point, Tom was determined to scoot them on their way.  It only took a few waves of his hands and loud noises to send them on their way.  For several hours, they hung around the yard, watching us.
Unfortunately, its not as easy as downloading Office and getting a new Product Key. When trying to do so over a period of several hours last night,  Microsoft picked up that I'm in South Africa and won't let me change the location to enable me the use a credit card to make the purchase.  The address used for billing on the credit card needs to match up with our US address.  It defaults to SA.  I tried everything to change it.
Once we arrived back in Marloth Park, it didn't take long to spot this mom and baby Zebra on the side of the road.
Today, using Skype I'll call to get it resolved.  I'd thought of using a VPN (virtual private network) so that it will always appear my entry into websites in from the US, but they slow down the WiFi signal which is not acceptable with the already slow connections in most locations.
Notice the little dark spot on the interior of the baby's left leg.  These dark spots grow as they grow and provide a cushion for the hooves when lying down to sleep.  Oh, Mother Nature, you didn't miss a beat!
Overall, the trip to Nelspruit went better than expected.  We encountered only one major construction delay where we didn't move for 30 minutes.  Many drivers had shut off their vehicles, getting out to move their legs with several peeing in the tall grass. 
Soon, they were on there way and so were we, anxious to return to Khaya Umdani.
I asked Okee Dokee if it was illegal to pee on the side of the road. You know, "indecent exposure" in many counties could result in going to jail and/or fines. She looked at me as if I was nuts saying, "Of course not!  Where would one go during frequent delays on the roads?"  Had I been wearing my Africa boots, I may have done the same. 
A wildebeest on the side of the road refused to pick up her head for a good photo. Both male and female wildebeest have horns.
Oddly, once we arrived at the Riverside Mall where the store was located, the power was off in the entire mall, the stores all dark.  For a moment, I allowed myself to think the worst, mentioning my apprehension to Okee Dokee.  I couldn't help but remember the mall bombing in Nairobi, Kenya while we were living there, imaging that the power may have been shut down by the evil perpetrators before setting off the horrifying explosives that killed many.

Tentatively, we continued on, searching for the store.  How would I purchase a computer in the dark and, how would I pay for it, if the POS stations weren't working in the power outage? Alas, moments before reaching the store, the power returned as we both sighed in relief.

Our helpful and knowledgeable rep at Incredible Connection, Borgani Mbuyane, (Ph:0829368182), whom I'd spoken to the prior day on the phone, was not only warm and welcoming when we arrived but quick to respond to my inquiries. 

With only two choices fulfilling my objectives of one terabyte memory, a 15.6 touch screen and hopefully Intel CORE i5, no more than 20 minutes later, we were out the door, laptop box in hand.

The cost was only slightly higher than that which we'd paid in the US. With the tax included the total cost was US $983.61, ZAR $10999.  Avoiding shipping and customs fees made this a bargain.  This unexpected expense was softened by the fact that we are well under budget for our time in South Africa.

On the return drive we stopped for the vendors on the side of the road, shortly outside of Nelspruit to purchase macadamia nuts and a bag of 10 beautiful huge avocadoes for US $3.58, ZAR $40 for the entire bag!

It was only 2:45 pm when we returned to Khaya Umdani.  Gone less than five hours, it was the longest Tom and I have been apart in 16 months!  It was good to see him!

Now, Thursday morning, we're situated on the veranda for the day until Okee Dokee returns to take us to Ngwenya for dinner tonight to watch the wildlife and sunset over the Crocodile River.  Hopefully, tomorrow we'll return with exciting photos.

Although without a computer for only two days, it feels good to be back!
Have a great day!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jessica,
Take a look at Apache Open Office as an alternative to Microsoft Office. It's free and will open Excel spreadsheets. Don't use Windows Explorer to open the file. Open Apache, select spreadsheet, select file, select open, then find your file. It should load. My spreadsheets are pretty simple so I don't know if it will work with lots of formulas and sheets. Good Luck.
Annie

Jessica said...

Annie, thanks for your suggestion. How thoughtful of you to write!

I checked into Apache and it doesn't quite do the trick. I also desperately need Outlook, where I've stored all of our upcoming reservation in folders. Plus, all of our documents are in Word and big Excel files so I doubt Apache would work for us.

I just called the local PC store to ask them to order Office for which I'm sure we'll pay a high price. But at this point, I don't have any other options. Luckily, I was able to get into my dead laptop long enough to recover all of my photos and files, most of which I already had in Dropbox anyway.

Thanks for reading our posts and for writing. We both appreciate it so much.

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom

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