Twenty days…Leaving Boveglio…Future travel plans…

The archway in our yard that ventures out to the winding, hilly roads, kept locked for privacy.   these small villages in Tuscany it is difficult to determine where a house and yard begins and ends with most houses “stuck together.”

It’s hard to believe in less than three weeks we’ll be leaving Boveglio to drive to Venice to fly to Kenya the next day, the 3rd. 

We’re reminded that fall is near, by the pumpkins and gourds in our yard.

It will be the beginning of almost a year of living in Africa, ending with two and a half months in Madeira, Portugal, an island located off the northwestern coast of Africa.

A pepper plant growing in the lower garden. These are most likely too hot for our taste buds.
With an open space in time from August 1, 2014, until November 30, 2014, Tom has been busy searching as to how we’ll fill this gap in our travels. At this point, the biggest challenge we have in booking this gap period is the result of a few crucial factors:

1.  What are the most enjoyable and sensible means of us traveling back across the Atlantic Ocean toward Hawaii when we’ll be getting together with our adult kids and grandchildren at our upcoming rental house in Kona, Hawaii at Christmas time in 2014?
2.  With the added expense of airfare for 13 family members, how can we spend this period most economically to perhaps offset a portion of the cost?
3.  Do we want to stay in Europe until December 1st when our rental begins in Hawaii, as we end the upcoming one year stint from Portugal?
4.  Are there cruises available to use as a means of travel, which we prefer?

The doorway and patio of a house below us where we heard cheerful Italian chatter last night.

Tom has been spending considerable time at Vacations to Go and Cruise Critic in an effort to determine our best options. Once we pin down possible cruises, we’ll contact our representative, Joaquin at Vacations to Go to book our chosen cruises. 

How dry and brown the yard is becoming with a lack of regular rain.

The further we continue into our world travels, we’ve determined that we love cruising for several reasons:
1.  Cost-effective in many cases with housing and meals included.
2.  No enforced luggage restrictions.
3.  Ease of living:  no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry (although it does pile up)
4.  Meeting new people almost every day while meandering on the ship and during meals.
5.  Date night every night with the option of ordering included room service. (After eight cruises, we’ve yet to order room service).
6.  Opportunity to visit many countries in a short period of time with the numerous scheduled ports of call.
7.  Movies on board. 
8.  Exercise facilities on board.
9.  Often interesting classes on board.
10. Chefs on cruise ships make every effort to accommodate my restrictive diet. Although boring and bland at times, it’s much easier than trying to communicate my restrictions in a new restaurant with possible language barriers.

The herb garden in the yard, separate from our patio garden.

After extensive research these past days, we’ve finally come to the conclusion that we’ll wait until the 90-day ticker begins (until sail date) with discounted cruise fares for 2014. In reviewing the ticker for cruises in the next 90 days we’ve seen how beneficial it is to wait with discounts as high as 82%. 

Impatiens growing in an old wooden barrel in the yard.

Yes, by waiting we run the risk of a particular cruise being sold out. Willing to take this risk, we accept the reality that if our means of transportation by cruise is sold out, we can always fly to our next preferred location.  In a rare position for this flexibility, it makes sense for us to proceed in this manner.

A cozy corner of one of the covered garden areas.

With most of our first two and a half years traveling well planned in advance, we now feel experienced and confident enough, after almost a year to attempt last-minute planning. Doing so opens the opportunity for us to experience cruises normally priced beyond our budget, at suddenly lower pricing.

The morning sun filtered through the covered garden.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Vacations to Go has a policy whereby they will honor price reductions on cruises up to 90 days before sailing. If one watches the pricing on their pre-booked cruises, one can request the reduction which becomes effective immediately which will be guaranteed through sailing. However, neither the cruise lines nor Vacations to Go will watch this for a customer.  One must do this on their own.

Few roses remain as summer winds down.  Often, I wanted to make a bouquet for the kitchen table, deciding against it, knowing it would attract bees indoors.

Learning the nuances of enhancing the quality of our travels is an ongoing process. Many have asked us why we booked so much in advance for the first two and a half years. The answer is simple. 

Last year, we left Minnesota to begin our travels on Halloween.  It seems so long ago.

As neophytes, if we weren’t able to find and book the next desired leg in our travels, we may have become frustrated questioning why we ever took this enormous life-changing challenge.  With bookings planned and deposits paid, we were committed which proved to bring us comfort, excitement, and peace of mind as we learned the ropes.

These variegated green and white leaves are vinca vine, always a favorite of mine when planted to hang over a rock wall.

This planted shoe could easily have been in this yard for over 100 years.

Now, it is becoming clear to us that we can patiently wait.  Unless, of course, some amazing opportunity presents itself that we cannot turn down. 

After all, the world is a big place.

A sad event impacts our future travels…Changing plans…Changing lives…

It’s Sunday morning at 11:00. We’re going out to dinner on Tuesday with Alan and Fiona for her birthday. I just spent two hours in the kitchen making Tom’s favorite low-carb, grain-free pizza, which we’ll bake at dinnertime, and a three-night portion of sauteed chicken breast tenders with mushrooms, onions, and garlic for me. We’ll enjoy these main dishes Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. I won’t have to cook for days. I don’t eat the pizza when it’s too fattening for me since I dropped a few more kilos.

But, of course, you don’t care to read about my morning in the kitchen, do you? What is happening with no post yesterday and some arbitrary change in plans?

On Friday afternoon, Minnesota-time, our dear brother-in-law, Gene, husband of Tom’s sister Colleen, sadly passed away after a long and challenging illness exacerbated by a brain injury that occurred years ago when he fell on ice and snow in Minnesota. We often hear of injuries seniors suffer from falling in the long winter months in Minnesota, which is certainly one reason we don’t want to visit Minnesota in the winter, especially with my unstable legs.

Multiple species in the garden.

When Colleen wrote to tell Tom the sad news, it was 11:30 pm here, and I was sound asleep. He didn’t want to awaken me, knowing this information could keep me awake all night, wondering what we’d do when we leave here on October 21st, less than three weeks away.

As it turned out, I awoke at 4:00 am, unable to go back to sleep, almost anticipating something had happened. At 5:30, Tom asked me if I was awake and told me the news. We were sad to hear about this, but it also significantly impacted our upcoming plans.

Colleen is Tom’s sister, whose home we planned to stay in for three months in Apache Junction, Arizona. With Gene’s passing, Colleen wanted to get out of Minnesota for the winter and spend time with her sisters in warm, sunny Arizona.

I ran out onto the road to take this giraffe photo.

She hadn’t been able to go to her home in Apache Junction due to Covid-19 and Gene’s poor health since 2019, when we were last there with them before we took off for India in January 2020. We could not prevent her from going to her property by staying in it for three months during the winter.

Lying there in bed at 5:30 am, discussing this, we considered a few options. We could rent a holiday home somewhere in the US. But, before deciding on Arizona, we’d extensively searched for holiday homes in the US states with warm winters. Since the onset of Covid-19 and losses incurred by holiday homeowners, prices for long-term rentals have gone through the roof.

In suitable locations, even without being overly picky, any properties we may have considered were three times the cost of our rent here in South Africa. Of course, after India, we’re not willing to stay long-term in a hotel. The handwriting was on the wall. We needed to stay in Marloth Park and fly to a non-bordering country in Africa to get our visas stamped.

At a decent hour, I contacted Louise, who we know is an early bird, to see when we could stop by to discuss our possible living arrangements if we did decide to stay another three months. We met up with her at 10:00 am.

When I walked back up the driveway toward the house, Tom distracted Broken Horn with pellets to ensure my safety. This vast animal could be startled and gore an unsuspecting human.

An important fact remained in our minds. Recently, we booked several cruises, a few of which are expensive compared to our average day-to-day expenses. We figured if we could live inexpensively for several months, we could stay within our budget for the year with the costs of these cruises.

But, if we had to pay enormous rent over the following months, we may have to reconsider what we’ve booked. Let’s face it. We’re not getting any younger. I am approaching 74, and Tom will be 69 sooner than later. When we return to South Africa by a cruise in December  2022, we will celebrate Tom’s 70th and, two months later, my 75th birthday during those first three months we are here.

We’ve decided to budget to the best of our ability to ensure we can visit new places we’ve longed to see throughout the world for whatever time we have left that we can do so. Traveling like this isn’t easy. It requires a lot of careful planning and physical energy on travel days and a lot of work necessary to pack and move all the time. Many seniors would find this simply too exhausting and too much work, which we understand. But for now, we still have the stamina to do it. For us, it’s not a chore. It’s an adventure every single time.

Lots of kudus this morning, including Bad Eye, whose torn eyelid looks much better.

It appears we can move our original flight to Arizona without penalty from Delta Airlines due to Covid-19 changes, and thus, we won’t incur any losses by changing our flights. Louise can let us stay in this same house until January 23, 2022, when we’ll leave for Florida, where we’ll stay with friends Karen and Rich before and after their February wedding.

We booked round-trip direct flights to Zambia on October 21st and returned on October 26th for our visa stamps. Louise is helping us book some events in Zambia, which we won’t wrap up for a few days when the tourist offices reopen on Monday.

We called Colleen, offering her our heartfelt sympathies, and told her she could now go to Arizona for the winter since we’ve made other plans and won’t tie up her one-bedroom property. She was so sweet and more than willing to let us stay. But we knew her going there would suit her during this grief and sorrow.

We’ll report with definitive plans for Zambia to stay in the next few days, one of the few countries we can fly to on a direct flight from Nelspruit. There was no way we were interested in booking an expensive trip with long flights going through Johannesburg. Nelspruit is a 75-minute drive from here, and the flight is less than two hours to Livingstone.

We’re good. We were not worried. Not stressed. It was the right thing to do.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #194. In Bali, a dragonfly fluttered around the two koi ponds by either side of the front entryway. Much to my delight, it returned almost every day to the exact location. For more, please click here.

We understand that many seniors would find this simply too exhausting and too much work

, physical energy on travel days, and a lot of work necessary to pack and move

We’re not willing to stay long-term in a hotel after India

Changes of our future plans…Covid-19 rules the travel industry…

A helmeted guinea-fowl and her chick, looking for pellets at the edge of the veranda.

This morning we received email notifications from Celebrity Cruise Lines that two booked cruises in and around Japan in 2022 have been canceled. The first sailing and the third of these three cruises we’d booked in this area will be canceled shortly. Now, we are down to five booked cruises instead of eight, all due to Covid-19.

We had planned to fly from Florida to Singapore a few weeks after our friends Karen and Rich’s wedding on February 11th. With all three of these cruises canceled, we’ll need to find where we’ll go when we leave Florida. Tom is currently researching our options., considering other potential cruises to fill the gap.

A giraffe was taking a rest.

Here again, Covid-19 is the determining factor on where we’ll go and what we’ll do. With the Schengen visa, we can only stay in most European countries for 90 out of 180 days. Also, we’ve already spent a lot of time in Europe in our past travels. Our current interests don’t necessarily lead us in that direction.

For now, our inclination is to travel by sea as much as possible, so that is the path we are researching at this point. But, due to Covid-19, many countries have instituted many restrictions impacting ports of call during cruises. There’s no doubt in our mind that the Japan cruises were canceled due to fears of infection in and around a country of such a vast population.

A male duiker, photo taken during the summer when the vegetation was lush and green.

Are we worried if continuing our world travels makes sense at this time? Not, However, we must consider the risks each country presents whenever and wherever we travel, including our upcoming trip to the US, which has the worst Covid-19 statistics of any country in the world.

As of yesterday, here are the stats for the US from this site:

Total Cases: 42,479,780

New cases: 164,509

Total Deaths: 685,023

New Deaths: 2282

A dung beetle pushing his ball of dung on his search for a mate to join him.

Statistics show that 54.7% of Americans are fully vaccinated, the highest globally. Yet, they have the newest cases and deaths of any country globally, based on information from this site.

You may ask, why are we going back to the US right now? For several reasons. But our biggest motivator is attending our friend’s small wedding in February. Since we were going back for that, we decided to spend more time with Tom’s siblings in Arizona and meet up with my sister Julie who lives in Los Angeles, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A few months ago, a mom and baby bushbuck was still some green vegetation in the bush.

During this US visit, we won’t be visiting Minnesota. It will be winter there, and neither of us cares to tackle the cold, the ice, and the snow. Once we know more about upcoming cruises, we’ll plan another time to be in Minnesota and Nevada to visit mine and Tom’s family, which surely will be during fall, spring or summer.

For now, we continue to consider where in the world we long to visit and how and when it will be possible based on current travel restrictions due to the pandemic. We’ll have plenty of time while in Arizona to work on this further.

Enjoy the day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day # 177. Sunset view from the third floor of Hans’ house (owner of the house we rented next door) in Diani Beach, Kenya, in 2013. We were thrilled to take photos of the progression of the sun’s setting on the horizon. For more photos, please click here.

New travel plans revealed….Leaving South Africa in 24 days, not returning for over a year…

Earl has been stopping by for the past several days.

We knew this time would come…that we’d be leaving Marloth Park for an extended period. We do this knowing we’ll be back in about 14 months after many adventures in between. It’s about time we get back out into the world! It’s been quite enjoyable spending the past few years, off and on, in Marloth Park, but the rest of the world awaits us.

When speaking with the immigration attorney, she emphatically stated we have to leave South Africa on or before April 30, or we will be considered “undesirables,” which would ban us from returning for five years. We wouldn’t qualify for another waiver after we’d already used that option after I had open heart surgery in 2019. We have no choice but to leave.

Baby nyala Natalie is so adorable. She’s growing up so fast.

The interpretation of the new dictates imposed by immigration for pending visa extension applications, like ours, is unclear, but we can’t take any chances. One never knows for certain what will happen when trying to leave the country.

Secondly, we have discovered we cannot apply for our new 10-year passports at the US Consulate in Pretoria, which we also planned to do while here. It was entirely doable before the pandemic, but now the phone at the US Consulate doesn’t get answered regardless of when we call and how long we let it ring. The website claims we can apply for an appointment online. This is impossible. The link doesn’t work. TIA.

Mom Nina is in the forefront with Natalie outside the little fence.

I called the US Embassy, and they refused to help, saying that a US passport applicant must go through the consulate. What a mess! We’d have to leave even if we could have stayed longer. Our 10-year passports expired in 2021, and now our 4-year passport expires in January 2024. The upcoming cruises we’ve booked require at least six months remaining until the passports expire to board the ships.

As a result of both of these scenarios, we knew we had no choice but to leave. Since it’s not easy getting US passports in foreign countries unless on a short-term emergency basis, which is not us, we also knew we needed to return to the US to renew the 10-year passports.

So the question became, where do we go in the US for three months? We’ll be spending time with family in Minnesota and Nevada in September after the completion of two of the cruises. Holiday homes are priced out of our budget in Minnesota and Nevada, and since we have three months to fill until the first cruise on August 1, we decided to step outside the box and try something entirely new.

Nina and Natalie usually visit together. From time to time, Natalie hangs out with her dad Norman.

A long time ago, we watched a documentary about The Villages in central Florida and were fascinated by all it offered seniors. Where could we go that would be fun socially, perhaps near other seniors? But, for us, this is merely a stop along the way to fill these three months and not a “look-see” for any potential plans for the future.

To stay in some arbitrary US location and try to meet people and have a social life right away it’s tough in the US and many other countries. It’s not as if strangers try to make new friends when they’re out and about. After living there all of our lives except the past 10-plus years, we know this. By leaving Marloth Park, we are leaving many wonderful friends behind.

Nina and Norman enjoying breakfast at our house.

We had a busy social life in the US, but it had taken years to build relationships, unlike when people were ultra-friendly and welcoming. We thought if we went to a retirement community with lots of activities, we might be able to enjoy a busy social life during those three months. The obvious answer was The Villages for the three-month stint.

We got to work researching at VRBO, our preferred holiday home site, and researched exclusively for The Villages, which was easy to do. When we started seeing very nice golf carts that were often included in the rental, we wondered…was it possible we could avoid the expense of a rental car? Every possible shopping and entertainment venue, restaurant, and more were within a short drive using the golf carts allowed on all streets within the community.

Ruffles has become quite a regular.

Yesterday, we signed up for a three-month rental of a three-bedroom, two-full-bath property with a golf cart that we’ll be moving into on April 30. We’ll be departing 90 days later to head to Scotland for the first of two upcoming cruises on August 1.As mentioned above, we’ll be back in the US in September to see family. Afterward, we’ll be off to South America for many months, including a cruise from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos Islands.

We booked our flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg to Atlanta to Orlando for April 29. The journey will take about 30 hours, with the long overnight flight of 16 hours and 50 minutes from Joburg to Atlanta, a flight we’ve become very familiar with. We no longer anticipate it with dread. We know what to expect…lots of movies, little sleep, and terrible food. We don’t like to eat in the middle of the night anyway. Oh well.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of our posting objectives during the three months. This will be an entirely new perspective for our site that may be of particular interest to seniors, with many photos included.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 5, 2022:

Not a lot has to be said about a beautiful sunset. It speaks for itself. This is in front of our friends Karen and Rich’s Apollo Beach, Florida house. For more photos, please click here.

Where are we going in 2023?…Planning for the future…More of Tom’s great photos…

“The Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) is the most widespread species of the genus Upupa. It is a distinctive cinnamon-colored bird with black and white wings, a tall erectile crest, a broad white band across a black tail, and a long narrow downcurved bill. Its call is a soft “oop-oop-oop.” It is native to Europe, Asia, and the northern half of Africa. It is migratory in the northern part of its range. It spends most of the time on the ground probing for grubs and insects. The clutch of seven to eight eggs is laid in an existing cavity. The eggs are incubated by the female and hatch asynchronously. Some ornithologists treat the African and Madagascar hoopoes as subspecies of the Eurasian hoopoe.”

We will leave Marloth Park in approximately eight months and may be gone for a year. We’ve decided we need to pick up the pace and visit those locations we’ve had on our minds for a long time. It’s been easy to settle into an easy routine in this blissful environment, this land of wonder, wildlife, and ever-expanding friendships.

Plus, the low cost of living for us in this country can’t be matched anywhere we’ve visited in the past ten years of world travel. (Yes, this is our tenth anniversary month which we’ll celebrate. We left Minnesota to travel the world on October 31, 2012).

Once again, Tom took some fantastic photos of this Eurasian hoopoe.

Of course, we’re considering what we’ll write about on that special day, four weeks from today. Instead of repeating places we’ve been in the past years, which we’ve mentioned repeatedly, we’ve decided to post a new itinerary and the most significant highlight of each of the ten years with photos, if available.

We are building the itinerary, something we haven’t done in a long time. So much has changed due to the pandemic, which has prevented us from booking venues beyond a few months in front of us, except for a few cruises, some of which have been canceled over the past two years.

Tom was excited to take photos of the woophoe.

At this point, engaged in research, we’ll avoid mentioning where we’ll be going until we are able to pin down some venues, pricing, and dates. By the end of this month, we’ll have an idea of what will work for us. As always, the cost of these preferred locations is a significant factor.

We lost a lot of money on bookings during the pandemic, and we don’t want to risk that happening again. Also, after paying entirely out-of-pocket for my heart surgery and subsequent surgeries in 2019, we’ve had to tighten our belts and be very selective about what we choose to book.

Several Big Daddies have been eating the leaves from this bright green tree in our garden.

Plus, we must renew our passports since most countries require a passport with at least six months left until it expires. We’ll have to start this process soon to be able to go on a few of our upcoming cruises in 2023. We’ll start that process soon. Since we began traveling in 2012, we’ve used up our ten-year passport, a two-year passport, and a four-year passport. We’ll explain why we had so many US passports in tomorrow’s post. Please check back for that information tomorrow.

It’s been a long time since we allowed ourselves to become engrossed in travel planning, other than going on those trips to obtain a new visa stamp for South Africa. As much as we’re enjoying our time in this country, we realize it’s time we can think about the future and fulfill some of our objectives to visit unique locations that have always been on our minds.

A female kudu was eating a potato we’d tossed into the garden. We had potatoes left from our recent friend’s visit. Many antelopes dig for roots and thus enjoy eating most root vegetables.

With the school holiday in full force right now with many holidaymakers in Marloth Park, we plan to stay put most of the week, except for a memorial service for our friend Bruce tomorrow at 11:00 am at Jabula, whom we visited a few weeks ago, before Connie, Jeff and Lindsey arrived, when sadly, Jeff passed away at our home. Bruce was suffering from COPD, a life-ending pulmonary disease.

It’s hard to digest that yet another dear friend has passed away in a mere ten days. We offer our love and prayers for the loved ones left behind in their time of great sorrow and sadness.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2021:

Multiple species in the garden. For more photos, please click here.

We’ve arrived in Botswana…A relatively easy travel day…

Chobe River from the air. Check out those green circles.

I am writing most of this post while on the Airlink flight from Nelspruit/Kruger/Mpumalanga Airport in South Africa to Livingstone, Zambia. The flight is full, with 37 passengers and three crew members. It’s an hour, 50-minute flight that hopefully is smooth and uneventful. Lunch and beverages, including wine and beer, will be served soon at no charge once the plane is airborne and leveled off.

Tom surprised me and had a beer, but I passed on the wine. It’s too early in the day, and besides, it has too much alcohol for me. While on this trip, I will have white wine spritzers with Sprite Zero since, most likely, they won’t have low-alcohol wine.

The Zambezi River from the plane…

The drive this morning from Marloth Park to the airport was uninterrupted. It took us slightly over an hour to arrive at the airport.
The anticipated protests won’t occur until next Wednesday while we are still away. We hope the protests will have ended by the time we return on Sunday, August 27th.

Last night. 11 of us had dinner together at Jabula, including new readers/friends Marylin and Gary and their friends Jolyn and Brian from Utah, Rita, Gerhard and Lee, Louise and Danie, and the two of us. We started the evening on the veranda but had to move indoors when the weather changed. Suddenly, it was windy, rainy, and cold.

Dawn and David were accommodating to ensure we were all seated in the bar area. The boys sat at one end of the table and the girls at the other. It’s funny how that always happens, and no one seems to mind. As expected, the laughter and animated conversations flowed with ease. The night sailed by. Before we knew it, it was time to go. We all had safari plans over the weekend and needed a good night’s rest.

The Chobe River in Botswana.

Once back at the house, we did a bit more packing and settled in the bedroom to stream a show before going to sleep. I dozed off a few times during the show while sitting straight up. Tom always waves his hand in front of my face when he sees me fall asleep when we are streaming a show.

Even if I am doing, I respond to his gesture and say, “I am awake,” even if I wasn’t. He knows I will have trouble sleeping later if I sleep during a show. So true. The night was fitful. We planned to leave the house at 8:30 am but didn’t set the alarm. We always awake early enough; we don’t need one.

As soon as we opened the bedroom door, we saw Norman in the garden waiting for us. My heart did a little flip flop, wondering if he’ll return after we do in eight days. He’s become such a part of our everyday life. It’s hard to imagine life in the bush without him. It was the same with Little, whom we haven’t seen since we moved into the current house on May 24 this year. I will always miss him.

Beautiful river views from the air.

Once we arrive in Livingstone in a little over an hour, as I write this now, our usual tour guide and driver, Chris, will greet us and drive us to the Botswana border. This is the fourth time we’ve made this trip for a visa stamp, and we have enjoyed ourselves each time. Most likely, this time will be equally enjoyable.

Today I am including a few photos I took from the air. South Africa is very unpopulated in many areas and is exquisitely beautiful.

The mountains, the bush, the plains, and the sea all offer incredible experiences we are considering, perhaps for some future travels. Who knows what the future holds?

Soon, our flight lands, and we will travel from Livingstone to the Botswana border. It should take about three or four hours until we arrive at the Chobe Safari Lodge and can settle into our room and begin our evening overlooking the Chobe River.


We’ve arrived at the lovely Chobe Safari Lodge. Fifi, the staff member at the reception,  greeted us warmly and provided us with a riverfront view on the ground level, conveniently located to everything. As soon as I upload this post, we’ll head out with the camera for sundowners on the veranda overlooking the Chobe River. Hmm…nice.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back to share the details of getting through the border between Zambia and Botswana, an entirely new experience from those on our last visits to the country. Plus, we’ll share details of confusing money changes when we stay in two countries during this one week away.

We’ll walk up the hill tonight to the gourmet restaurant, remembering all too well the fantastic meals we had there in the past. Food photos will follow.

Thanks for coming along with us on this journey…this short one and all the journeys in the past. You all mean the world to us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 20, 2021:

Frank eats his seeds at the old house from the veranda railing where no warthogs or bushbucks will bother him. I miss Frank, or any francolins for that matter. Maybe soon, we’ll get one. For more photos, please click here.

Anxious to travel again?…Many of our plans are dashed…

Sometimes Nina and her son Noah come to visit without dad Norman.

When I searched for the year-ago photo below in this post, I was sorely reminded of all the plans we’d begun to make a year ago with excitement and hope for the future. Here we are a year later, with most plans canceled due to visa issues, the war in Ukraine, and the after-effects of Covid-19.

We see many of our traveling friends on cruises and spending time in Europe and islands worldwide. After almost ten years of world travel, we’ve visited all the islands we wanted to see and the European countries that appealed to us. With Schengen visa restrictions (click here for details) in Europe for travelers like us, who’d prefer to stay in a country for months, not a two-week holiday/vacation, the conditions of Schengen leave little to be desired for us.

Dad nyala, Norman is becoming more and more at ease around us. We notice cars stop when they see the nyala family in our garden, often taking photos.

This may sound weird to those who’ve never been to Europe, but we’ve seen all the historic buildings and churches we care to see in this lifetime. Yes, we loved the countries we visited in Europe at the time, but our tastes have changed. Plus, it’s costly for us to stay for two or three months in Switzerland, Sweden, or the Netherlands (we’ve been there), all of which would be exciting to visit but unable to fulfill our expectations of comfortable living.

Bushbuck girls; Marigold, Mom and Baby, Tulip and Lilac.

At this point, our interests lie in affordable locations with reasonably priced holiday homes and rental cars. But, above all, our current interests are wrapped around further wildlife exploration. We long to return to South America to visit the Pantanal, as described on this site:

“Wetlands—where the land is covered by water, either salt, fresh, or somewhere in between—cover just over 6% of the Earth’s land surface. Sprinkled throughout every continent except Antarctica, they provide food, clean drinking water, and refuge for countless people and animals worldwide. Despite their global significance, an estimated one-half of all wetlands on the planet have disappeared.

Amid the loss, one specific wetland stands out: the Pantanal. At more than 42 million acres, the Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland and one of the most pristine in the world. It sprawls across three South American countries—Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay—and supports millions of people there and communities in the lower Rio de la Plata Basin.

WWF is working on the ground to conserve the region through the creation of protected areas and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.”

Two female kudus were lying in our garden with a few impalas nearby.

Yes, this area is offering tours and cruises but when we check into it further, the after-effects of Covid-19 have left many of such expeditions short of staff. We need to wait another year, as is the case for the Amazon and other such ecologically rich areas in the world. They just aren’t ready yet for tourists. We don’t care to spend a lot of money on a disappointing experience or canceled flights, cruises and tours, plenty of which we’ve already experienced.

We’ve lost thousands of dollars due to the pandemic, and we’re not interested in losing more. Are we being too cautious? Perhaps. But, if we listed all we’ve lost including the recent two months we spent in the US and on a cruise, getting Covid-19 and becoming very ill, it’s to be expected that we are cautious in what we decide to do going forward.

Nina, the female nyala, has completely different markings than dad Norman and son Noah.

No, we don’t plan to stay in South Africa longer than a year. While here, we’ll have an opportunity for more adventures on the continent. In a little over a month, we’ll be on the move for a short but exciting trip to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Before departing that trip, we will be planning another trip for the following 90 days, again, outside South Africa. We’ll keep you updated.

In the interim, we are enjoying our time in the bush, surrounded by wildlife and friends, grateful for each day as it comes. What more could we ask for?

Enjoy your Saturday, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2021:

Azamara Onward, with a capacity of 692 passengers. We booked several Azamara cruises, with most of them canceled due to post-Covid-19 issues and the war in Ukraine. For more, please click here.

Making plans for England…Yesterday…a fun and varied day!…Photos of Komatipoort…

Rita and I each had this fantastic smoked trout salad at Stoep Cafe. I can’t wait to return to order it once again.

Yesterday, the plan was for Rita and me to go to lunch while Tom and Gerhard drove to Nelspruit to return the last rental car before we depart Marloth Park in 27 days. Yesterday, knowing that Rita was picking me up to go to lunch at 11:30, I was determined to get in as much walking before we headed out. I managed to do 6000 steps before Rita and Gerhard pulled into the driveway.

It was great for Tom to have company for the over three-hour trip, and of course, Rita and I enjoyed the quiet time together, when in a few weeks, they will be leaving Marloth Park for a while. They aren’t sure when they’ll return, but hopefully, we’ll see them sometime after we return in December.

Tom stopped at Mohammed Moussa shop to get his Cole Haan shoes repaired. The total cost was ZAR 80, US $5.26.

Initially, we’d planned to go to lunch in Malalane, but Rita changed her appointment, so we decided to head to Komati, which is half the distance. It’s an excellent little restaurant where we’ve had many breakfasts, but I’d never been there for lunch. We decided on lunch at Stoep Cafe, a favorite haunt of ours and other locals.

Kathy got us all excited about Stoep when she often stopped there for coffee and a light breakfast a few times a week. In 2013/2014 and again in 2018, Tom and I often had breakfast there before grocery shopping. But, this time around, he and I hadn’t been there at all.

The shoe repair guys sit outside the general store waiting for customers who may need repairs.

However, before Rita and Gerhard returned to Marloth Park on New Year’s Eve, Kathy and I often got together at Stoep for breakfast and lively chatter. Once Rita arrived, the three of us would go, and she and I continued the ritual once Kathy and Don returned to the US a few months ago. We all miss them terribly. We are fortunate to have such good friends all around.

The lunch continued longer than we’d expected, and finally, by 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, we were back at the house. A short time later, Gerhard and Tom arrived in the same car we had rented earlier. Budget Car Rental was low on vehicles and based on our excellent pricing. Tom didn’t hesitate to re-rent the exact vehicle.

Another strip of shops with vegetable stands in the parking lot.

With much for Rita and Gerhard to do back at their house, as they prepared for friends from the US visiting in a few days, they took off. It was too hot to be standing in the kitchen prepping for a meal. With nothing chopped and diced for dinner and the awful heat, I suggested we go out to dinner at Giraffe Cafe, a short distance down the road, and Tom agreed.

Before we headed out the door, friends Linda and Ken called, and we wrapped up plans as to when we’ll be seeing them in England around the first of May when they return from visiting the tulips in Holland. Gee, we should do that someday! That sounds like something we’d love to do as well. Most of our friends are world travelers in one way or another. They may not be homeless like us, but they do get around the world!

There are countless vegetable stands on the side of the road.

By 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, we reached Giraffe, running into a few locals we know and making our way to the bar where we chatted endlessly, sharing the details of our partial day apart and discussing plans for the future. Based on the information we’ve read online, it appears all of our cruises should sail as planned.

I ordered a small salad with grilled chicken, and Tom had the chicken schnitzel, which he’d ordered there in the past. The food isn’t as good as Jabula, nor is the atmosphere quite as lively. But, we had a pleasant evening and returned home to get into comfortable clothes and watch an episode of Billions on Showtime and “1883” (my new latest favorite show) on Paramount Plus on Amazon Prime,

Huge bags of onions are sold at cheap prices.

After a reasonably good night’s sleep, we were both ready to tackle another day. Time is flying so quickly right now; it’s astounding.

Yeah, the power just came back on! That certainly changes my attitude about walking today. At least I can turn on the air-con from time to time to cool off.

Many locals’ only source of income is from selling vegetables and fruit from local farms.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2021:

There were no photos on the post from one year ago today, but there was a video from Garage Logic, a podcast Tom has listened to for years on which he is mentioned every day! To listen to the video, we posted one year ago, please click this link. Now, one year later, Tom continues to be mentioned each day. They usually mention him toward the end of the podcast. If you’d like to hear more mentions of Tom, please click here.

Tom made an exciting discovery!!!…Can we start feeling enthused about traveling again?…

Has Hal taken over for Broken Horn whom we haven’t seen in a few weeks?

It’s been easy to get out of the state of mind about traveling during the pandemic. Almost every day, news hits the wires that make us wonder when and if we’ll be able to return to our years-long journey to see more and more of this magnificent world we live in.

The clock is ticking faster now, more than ever, as we age, regardless of how hard we try to reduce the impact of aging. Neither of us feels any less agile or capable of continuing to travel than we did when we began in 2012. Yes, we’ve experienced some bumps in the road, literally and figuratively, mainly for me with some health issues.

But, our desire and determination to continue had only waned during the past two years of the pandemic when none of us knew what the future holds. Even now, there’s a degree of uncertainty hanging over all of our heads regarding travel. Many have changed their lives, excluding vacations/holidays to relax and unwind, instead looking at other avenues to accomplish these objectives.

Hal likes to rub his muddy face on the trees to get cleaned off.

Each day, we hear about cruise disasters, at times making us tentative, but we aren’t hearing about the successful cruises sailing all over the world. Many are incident-free, with many safety protocols in place to protect the passengers and crew. No, cruising won’t be as fun as it was for us in the past, when we socialized day and night, mask-free, enjoying lively conversation and dinners with six or eight other guests at big round tables. Those days may be gone, for now, and into the future. Only time will tell.

Knowing our first cruise, a transatlantic cruise with Celebrity Cruise line is sailing in only 66 days from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has left us wondering if it will cancel. At this point, we’re beginning to believe it will sail after all as planned. It’s a repositioning cruise at an excellent price to get the ship back to the UK and Europe, so it will sail as planned, most likely from what we can determine thus far.

Our goal is to stay in the UK with easy visa requirements until our next cruise sails in June from Istanbul, Turkey. It’s an easy flight in less than four hours. We plan to move around the UK during those two months, as we did in 2019, to experience more quaint and charming holiday rentals and hotels.

Bossy looks more and more pregnant each day.

Of course, we plan to see friends Linda and Ken who live in Buckinghamshire, another attractive English countryside location, which we love more than the big cities. At this point, we can’t book anything until we are on our way across the Atlantic Ocean to ensure nothing impacts the cruise.

We have no concern whatsoever making plans at this late date, only days before our arrival in Southampton, England, on April 21. We don’t want to risk losing deposits and full payments if something happens beyond our control. It’s one of those scenarios where we’re comfortable “playing it by ear.” If we can’t wrap up a holiday rental, we find a historic hotel, of which there are many.

All of this “cruise talk” brings us to the exciting news about Tom’s discovery in the past few days. In researching pricing for our currently booked cruises to 2023, he found three cruises with substantial price drops. To enjoy the benefits of a price drop, it’s up to the passengers to check pricing regularly, not the travel agency or cruise line. Such price drop benefits can only be gleaned before the final payment date, not after.

Hal does a nice job of trimming the grass in the garden.

Upon discovering recent price drops on three of our seven booked cruises for which we’d yet to pay the final balances, two of which are payable this month, Tom got to work. Last night, he managed to get in touch with Costco Travel after being on hold for over an hour and requested the following prices to be dropped on those three cruises as follows:

  • Sail Date: July 10, savings amount:           US $2600,  ZAR 39761*
  • Sail Date: November 8, savings amount:   US $1680,  ZAR 25697
  • Sail Date: November 19, savings amount: US 1280,    ZAR 19578

Total savings for 2022:  US $5560, ZAR 85036

No doubt, it was worth staying on hold for such a long time. We were in bed and put down the phone while Tom worked on his laptop, and I played with my phone until a rep came on the line.

Saving this amount of money furthered our enthusiasm going forward. If these three cruises have further price drops, we’ll be able to start the process all over again. Of course, Tom will continue to watch the prices, as he always does before final payments are due on the remainder of the cruise. or any of the remaining cruises and go even lower.

So, that’s our news of the day.

Have a rewarding day, too!

Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2021:

This was an excellent profile of one of our favorite animals, a giraffe. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…We’re back to booking future travels!!!…Building a new itinerary…

Yesterday, we not only booked the cruise on the Black Sea but also booked the “back-to-back” (the next cruise, on the day of arrival), which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Tomorrow is a travel day for us as we make our way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to see Tom’s sister, Sister Beth, where we’ll spend two days in a hotel.

I will undoubtedly use the workout facility.

As for the itinerary for this ship, see below:


11 Nights – Azamara (Istanbul – Round Trip)

Cruise Line: Azamara

Ship Name: Azamara Onward Not Yet Rated

Cruise Length: 11 Nights

Departure Date: 06/29/2022

Embarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Return Date: 07/10/2022

Disembarkation Port: Istanbul, Turkey

Sailing Itinerary

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure

06/29/2022 Istanbul 06:00 PM

06/30/2022 Varna/Bulgaria 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/01/2022 Burgas 08:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/02/2022 Constanta 07:00 AM 08:00 PM

07/03/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 09:30 AM

07/04/2022 Odesa/Ukraine 08:00 PM

07/05/2022 Cruising

07/06/2022 Sochi 08:00 AM 09:00 PM

07/07/2022 Batumi 08:00 AM 05:00 PM

07/08/2022 Cruising

07/09/2022 Istanbul 08:00 AM

07/10/2022 Istanbul

Once we arrive back in Istanbul, Turkey, we’ll move to another cabin on the same deck but on the opposite side of the ship for better viewing for the upcoming itinerary on this ship’s next leg for another ten days, July 10 to July 20, 2022, ending in Athens, Greece. We’ll include our costs for the balcony cabins for both cruises and the second leg’s itinerary in tomorrow’s post.

The theatre for nightly shows.

As for today, our last family day in Minnesota, Tom will be joining his family for the Thursday barbecue at his sister Mary’s home, while tonight, I’m going to a movie with Greg’s family. At 11:00 am this morning, we’re heading to visit our dear friend Sue, former neighbor and widow of our beloved, since deceased friend Chip, who passed away five months before we left in 2012. We hadn’t seen Sue since we were here in 2017 since she spent the winters in Florida. It will be wonderful to see her again.

This morning, Tom took our vaccination certificates to Office Max and had them make copies to be laminated and kept the originals to be amended for boosters in the future if required. Oddly, Office Max didn’t charge to do this. Go figure.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow, perhaps later in the day, completed after arriving at our hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2020:

Some flowers continue to bloom through the summer season, as is the case in this Alstroemeria. For more photos, please click here.