Day 2, Change in a feature on our site started yesterday…Exciting trail cam photos….About us…

The genet and Earl had an encounter at the veranda railing during the night.

For those who may not have read yesterday’s post here, we have changed a feature on our site regarding the “Photo from one year ago today…” at the bottom of the page. We’ve now changed it to “Photo from ten years ago today…” Further explanation of this change is documented in yesterday’s post, as shown in the above link. Otherwise, all other aspects of our site will remain the same.

It’s hard to believe it was three years ago, while we were in lockdown in the hotel room in Mumbai, India, that we hired our current web developer to make major changes to the format of our site. It was a time-consuming and frustrating process.

The genet started out on the veranda rail where Tom had placed some cooked chicken.

There couldn’t have been a better time to update the site with so few distractions other than posting daily, finding sources for photos, washing all of our clothes by hand, walking in the corridors, and living a very peculiar life for ten months in a hotel room, unable to interact with the outside world.

We think of this often, wondering how in the world we got through it with the grace we did. We never fought with one another, nor were there ever angry or frustrated tones in our voices to each other. We had a strong and loving relationship going into this odd situation and a strong relationship coming out.

They engaged in a “stare-down” for quite a while.

We’re often asked if it made us stronger as a couple or as individuals. Ideally, we’d say yes. But the reality is that we used the adaptation skills and strengths we acquired throughout our world travels, at that time, over seven years into it. Nothing changed other than our personal affirmation of our resiliency, which both of us have developed over these years of world travel.

We’ve had our ups and downs, although none of them were in regard to the strength of our relationship, which somehow remains interesting, exciting, playful, and fun. We spend almost every day and night together, seldom apart, and we never tire of one another.

Part of that may be because we each do our own thing during daylight hours. Sure, we talk and laugh while reveling in our surroundings. But, once we’ve been in a location for a while and the sightseeing tapers off, those quiet days are easy for us. We never feel frustrated over what one of us is doing or not doing. There’s no judgment or criticism.

We saw Norman visit in the middle of the night. We can tell it’s him by the colors of his legs.

Ultimately, we make happiness a goal for ourselves and each other. With that in mind, we rarely have disagreements except when stressed over travel plans or circumstances. Even that is a rarity. We’re lucky, and we know it. Then again, is it luck? Probably not. It revolves around a sense of self-confidence and emotional security that we’ve chosen for ourselves.

Neither of us operated this way in past relationships, although we each extrapolated lessons we’ve learned from failed past relationships, choosing happiness over “always being right.” Being right doesn’t matter. Making smart decisions does.

Big Daddy at sunrise.

No, we’re not experts and have little advice for others. We’ve only allowed ourselves the privilege of making the most of every single day and night. Speaking of nights, this is when we come together after our daytime forays into activities that appeal to us individually. We listen to music, talk, laugh, tease, and often compliment one another, genuinely and from the heart. This is the glue that binds the quality of who we are together as a couple and as individuals.

As we spend days watching the behavior of wild animals, we often giggle over how much alike we are to them. They share pellets and loving nudges but then, at times, go off on their own, only to return later for more of the same. That’s us. Plain and simple.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 17, 2013:

My friend of 33 years, Colleen, had lived in St Thomas, USVI for many years. I was excited to see her when our ship docked at the Port of St. Thomas for a day. Sadly she passed away a few years ago from COPD. In this photo, she is shown with an oxygen tank, which was always at her side once she developed the awful condition. For more photos, please click here.

Will our means of protecting ourselves soon be changing?…Assessing the scenario…Bad news about South Africa…

Elephants on the Crocodile River as seen from the fence in Marloth Park. See the post here.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today’s photos are from our post one year ago today. Please click here for more details.

We knew this day would come. More guests have check-in the hotel. We’re only days or weeks away from Prime Minister Modi allows some businesses to reopen, although airports and public gatherings will still be in lockdown. We aren’t particular about hotel re-opening as yet.

A tree bark gecko in our garden.

Currently, some hotels only house people like us, along with a low number of Indian citizens who have no place to stay, like us. Other hotels are potential housing carriers of COVID-19 and those still in quarantine with confirmed cases requiring hospitalization. We’re grateful we didn’t have to stay in such a quarantine hotel.

Now, as we’ve noticed some staff members wearing masks that weren’t doing so a week ago, and in seeing a new group of four young Indians, we’re wondering if now is the time to ramp up our safety.

A massive bull elephant in Kruger.

Only yesterday, we noticed tape on the lift floor, designating where guests should stand when riding together. We refuse to enter the lift with any others, even staff we know.

This morning, we had a new server at breakfast. When we inquired, he stated he arrived at the hotel last night to take over for other servers who were allowed to return to their homes after a six-week stint during which they stayed overnight each night.

A rhino in Kruger.

We ask ourselves: Have new staff members been exposed to the outside world, and may they be the invisible carriers we hear so much about from the media? No symptoms. Highly contagious.

No, we’re not overly paranoid, but we are considering changes we may need to make, especially when servers may be carriers, touching our flatware, plates, glasses, and other food-serving apparatus.

Vultures are on the lookout for their next meal.

The government now requires any facilities that serve food to keep tables un-set until guests sit down to eat. No more linen napkins. No more salt and pepper shakers left on tables. This way, they can sanitize each table after guests have completed their meals.

But still, this is no guarantee of safety. Someone is handling all of these items. And isn’t that one of the many reasons so many passengers and crew became sick on all the cruises we hear so much about?

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger.

Last night, we discussed the following precautions. If we see more new staff and guests entering the hotel, we may have to begin eating our two meals a day in our room.

Today, another comfortable chair was delivered to our room, enabling Tom to stop sitting in bed. We made room for the extra padded chair without sacrificing any valuable space in the room. We turned the TV to watch the news and occasional episodes of Nat Geo, as we often have on in the background during the day.

Cautiously, they make their way across the road.

Besides, no room service is allowed during times of COVID-19. If and when we begin dining in our hotel room, we’ll have to pick up our meals from the kitchen, thus avoiding any servers handling our food. At that point, I think we’ll wash our forks and knives to prevent further handling.

As for the bad news about South Africa, several of our friends have informed us that incoming international travel won’t be allowed until at least December, six months or more from now. We expect India’s international flights will commence much sooner.

Intimidating mouthful of razor-sharp teeth.

We now accept the reality that we’ll need to fly somewhere else before we can plan on flying to South Africa. Our next booked cruise sails out of Lisbon, Portugal on November 10, ending up in Cape Town, South Africa, on December 2, which may or may not be canceled. We have no clue at this point.  

The final payment is due in July. We’ll have to wait and see what transpires with the Azamara cruise line in the interim and if that cruise will cancel down the road. 

Crocs don’t have sweat glands. They open their mouths at rest to cool off.

PS: After completing this post and preparing to upload it, I stopped to do my hourly walk. While in the corridor, I noticed a new couple with luggage entering a room. I spoke to Dash, a manager and also the main chef. The plan as mentioned above of eating in our room is now in effect as of this evening’s upcoming meal. Our dinner will be awaiting us at the service area, an open kitchen as seen from the restaurant, at 7:00 pm each evening. To avoid feeling rushed in the mornings, we’ll call 20 minutes ahead for our usual breakfast order. On each occasion, we’ll wear face masks, including the period during which we wait in the lobby while our room is being cleaned, where to date, we’ve never observed any other guests.

We all must be proactive in securing our safety and designing a plan that works for us, regardless of what others may think of our decisions. At this point, it appears social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently is a step in the right direction. For us, these added measures are a must.

Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2019:

The Crocodile Bridge, one of many entrance points that leads to Kruger National Park. For more from this post, please click here.

Making decisions while in lockdown…Photos from a tropical garden, five years ago in Kauai, Hawaii…

This video of Laysan Albatross antic in Kauai, Hawaii, always makes us laugh. They are such delightful and charming birds. See the link here for the date we posted this video.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word, “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Please click here for those who may have missed the post with SW News Media’s article on our story.

A few days ago, I inquired at the reception desk if there was a possibility of upgrading to a larger room in the hotel. I did so on a whim, hoping like some hotels in the past, they’ve given us a complimentary upgrade.

Last night, shortly before we headed the dinner, the friendly staff person called our room, suggesting a price for an upgrade to the suite next door to us. It was more than we wanted to pay, but we decided to look at it anyway.

Five years ago today, the drive on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience.

It was comparable to an apartment with a living room, two flat-screen TVs, a formal dining room, a large bedroom with a huge en suite bath, and a second bath near the living area. It was pleasant and decorated. 
When we did the math, converting from rupees to US dollars was too much considering how long we may be here. After a bit of negotiation back and forth, the best they could do was charge us an extra IDR 76,177, US $1,000 more per month over and above the IDR 226,626, US $2,975 per month we’re currently paying.

Everywhere we walked, the scenery was outstanding. Unlike many botanical gardens, the owners chose to leave some areas open with expansive green lawns, adding to its beauty.

My first reaction was that for that amount for such a substantial upgrade, this was a reasonable amount, especially since I was feeling a bit of “cabin fever.” But Tom, in his usual sensible and frugal way, convinced me it wasn’t worth it, even under these trying circumstances.

I rationalized it in my mind that along with food and tips, our total monthly expenses would still be less than we usually pay while living in a nice holiday home with a rental car, groceries, and dining out. 

Although Hawaii may not be the perfect climate for cactus to increase, many varieties of cactus seem to thrive, as this has that I spotted on tour.

As the family “numbers cruncher,” I tend to think in terms of totals rather than personal expenses as long as we stay within budget. But Tom, the more practical of the two of us, reminded me that, under so many unknowns, such a “frivolous expense” wasn’t necessary based on our current circumstances.

Sure, I grumbled a little under my breath, but overnight realized he was right. After watching the news this morning and reading yesterday’s speech by President Ramaphosa of South Africa, it’s conceivable we won’t get into South Africa for four months or more.
This red fruit caught my eye, although I was uncertain as to its identity.

As we mentioned, if the airport here in Mumbai reopens to outgoing international flights, we have some ideas about where we can go to stay, perhaps an island in the Indian Ocean, not too far from Africa. At the same time, we wait for South Africa to open its borders.

It would be a lot easier to live in a beach house overlooking the sea while we wait, as opposed to sitting in a hotel room for many more months to come. Then, of course, we’ll have the added expenses of flying to one of these islands, paying for a rental car and housing, and all the ancillary costs associated with such a location.

Lipstick bamboo.  Look at these colors!

We’re better off saving our funds for that trip than moving from one hotel room to another right now. I got over it. I’m fine. I can get sidetracked at times. Tom always steers me in the right direction.

This restaurant continues to add a few items from their regular menu, and tonight, I have salmon for the first time since we arrived here. This is quite a treat after eating two small chicken breasts every night for almost three weeks. 
Tonight, I’ll also pass on the paneer makhani and have a huge plate of steamed veggies. The chef came by and offered Tom Pasta Carbonara, which will be a nice change for him.
Shrimp plants are also known as Yellow Candles.

It’s funny how meals have become more important to us during this lockdown than ever in the past. By 4:00 pm each day, I start chomping at the bit, getting hungry and anxious to go to dinner at 7:00 pm. 

Boredom? Perhaps. I’ve read online that many are eating more during the lockdown. We aren’t eating more since we have no access to food other than the two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. But, we surely enjoy mealtimes which many of you may be experiencing now as well.

When we’re safe and have basic conveniences, it’s our thoughts that do a number on us. Keeping those in check, when possible, will help all of us get through these trying times.

Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2019:

Tiny and a mongoose getting along. Mongooses don’t eat pellets, so no competition for food. For more photos, please click here.

Newspaper story about our adventure…

We’ve got press!  The story below was published in the Chanhassen Villager and other western suburbs publications. Some of the facts aren’t accurate, such as Tom ha two sons and my having a son and daughter, when in fact, it is the opposite. Guess that’s how media works. We won’t fuss about the details. 

The story hits the major points.  Our readership has catapulted in the past few days since the story was published on January 3, 2013, the day we sailed on the Celebrity Century out of San Diego.  Thanks to all of our current readers and our new readers for following us!  Thanks to our wonderful friend Chere Bork who was highly instrumental in getting the story in the right hands and son Greg for finding the article and posting it.

 Here’s the link to see the article in the paper.  Please give it time to load. 
Former Chanhassen couple begins worldwide adventure

Tom and Jess Lyman

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 5:06 pm | Updated: 8:15 am, Sat Dec 29, 2012.

 Bon voyage. Today, Jan. 3, Tom and Jess Lyman, former Lake Minnewashta homeowners in Chanhassen, begin their worldwide wandering. They sail from San Diego today, go through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, then sail to Belize, then Africa, and Europe and beyond. They may be gone for five years or 10 years, depending on their health and other circumstances. They don’t plan to stop until they find the destination of their dreams or until one of them is tired of living out of a suitcase or just plain wants to stop.

The Lymans won’t be on the road constantly. Instead, they’ll use a series of cruises (already booked through 2015) to transport them to and from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, to South America, to Europe, to Africa, and then to Hawaii. In between they’ve booked rental homes where they’ll stay no less than one month and no longer than five months at a time. Their rentals include a condo in Dubai, a home in Tuscany, a beachside cottage in Kenya, a home in the Kruger National Park Reserve in South Africa, and a 16th-century stone house in Cajarc, France. They’ll plan on meeting their families on the Big Island in Hawaii for Christmas 2014 where they have a rental and plan to stay through March 31, 2015.
Looking toward retirement.
Nearly a year ago, as Tom Lyman looked forward to his retirement from Burlington Northern, Minneapolis, at the end of October 2012, he and Jess, his wife of 21 years, discussed what they might do once Tom retired. Jess had retired in 2010 after a career in real estate and professional management.
Tom is 60, Jess is 65. Each had been married before and divorced. When they met more than 20 years ago, they recognized kindred spirits and eventually married, blending their families. Tom has two adult sons. Jess has an adult son and daughter. Between the two, they have six grandchildren.
Like scores of other baby boomers, the Lymans considered renting a condo, townhome, or small home in Florida or Arizona in winter, spending their days golfing, socializing with similar snowbirds, relaxing, and enjoying a slower pace.
After 43 years working 14-hour days and enduring a daily two-hour commute, being able to spend more time at home with Jess and his genealogy hobby would be welcomed.
But as they talked, they realized that doing the same old, same old didn’t have much appeal. As a couple they’d spent most of their free time at their Lake Minnewashta home, working on home improvements and entertaining their circle of friends.
“It was time to step outside the box,” Jess said. “Tom and I had both married young and had children in our 20s. We always had to be responsible and our lives revolved around our families.”
Life change
As they looked at approaching retirement, they realized it would be more enjoyable if they were healthy. Although Jess was always slim and fit, she had chronic pain and had high blood sugar. Tom was 40 pounds overweight.
About a year and a half ago, the couple changed their diets to low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, wheat-free, and starch-free. Tom lost 40 pounds and Jess’s chronic pain went away.
“We’re in good health now,” Jess said. “That was our goal, to be in good health in our retirement. I could not have done this three years ago. The food thing is such a big thing. We don’t eat any grains, not oatmeal, quinoa, any beans, corn, or rice. It literally changed our lives.”
Can we afford it?
While their bodies became healthier, they had to do a similar checkup on their finances.
Jess and Tom ran the numbers. How much would it cost to do the typical retiree thing? They created spreadsheets of their cost of living if they did the typical retirement community life. They estimated their costs for housing, food, clothing, entertainment, and utilities, dental, medical and prescriptions, household goods, car upkeep and maintenance, and everything else they could think of.
And then they compiled spreadsheets of the costs of traveling. The cost of staying in rental homes, not only in the States but in Europe and Africa, food, transportation, special insurance, passports, visas, technology to keep them wired and in touch with family and friends.
“Our baseline was, ‘How much would it cost to rent a condo in a warm climate? How much would we spend a month in retirement?’ That was our magic number,” Jess explained in a phone interview two weeks before their January departure. “Could we make our travel number match that number and not tap into Tom’s pension? We didn’t want to do this and get into financial jeopardy.”
After a lot of research, number-crunching, and Internet research, the numbers worked.
But it would mean a drastic change to their lifestyle. Instead of settling into a warm climate condo to call home base, the Lymans decided they’d travel, trying out different locations and seeing the world until one of them didn’t want to travel anymore. No home, no car, few possessions except what they could pack in six pieces of luggage.
World Wide Waftage
Jess describes herself as a detail person. How detailed? Visit the Lyman’s website called World Wide Waftage at
It’s the culmination of online research “eight hours a day, seven days a week,” Jess explained. Their website is organized into categories: Tom and Jess’s blog posts, itinerary, travel documents, medical issues, health insurance, travel costs, smart decisions, planning mistakes, Internet access, products they like, vacation houses, cruises, retirees, baby boomers, and senior concerns.
It’s so complete it prompted the question, “Are you going to write a book about how to plan for a trip around the world?”
“I’ve always wanted to write,” Jess said. “I always thought that when I retired that I would write. But I needed to find a vehicle to inspire me. So I decided to do a blog for our family and friends to avoid constantly emailing.”
In addition to the emotional preparations the couple is experiencing — saying goodbye to children and grandchildren, selling their home, having an estate sale and the reality of living out of six suitcases, Jess writes about all the small details necessary to make such a trip as worry-free and efficient as possible; details like getting wills and living wills written and into the hands of a trusted family member, doing taxes while out of the country, explaining why a second passport is necessary for the type of traveling they’re doing, questions to ask when buying a mobile phone for international use, arranging for a year’s worth of prescription meds, what to know about health insurance, getting Wi-Fi in remote parts of the world.
“When we planned our retirement and our plans to travel, we asked ourselves, ‘How well can we do this?’” Jess said. “It’s predicated by our health. If we get tired, we’ll stop.”

Our final doctor appointments…

With a degree of angst we headed out yesterday afternoon with empty stomachs in preparation for blood tests to our last doctor appointments, Tom’s and mine scheduled together for a full hour.  I imagine that most people don’t enjoy going to the doctor, but for me it is a dreaded experience.

Doctor, dentist, Ob-Gyn and optometrist all fall into the same category. I don’t like it, don’t want it, don’t want to take my clothes off, don’t want anyone looking in my mouth or other such places and don’t want to stand on that disgusting scale. No, no, no!

We had to go. Yes, I know, it would be our last appointment for a long while (hopefully). Obviously, I have some type of “issues” around this, a mixed bag of good and bad.  That which makes me diligent, impatient, goal orientated and downright persistent adds to my ability to spend endless hours planning our year’s long world adventure. 

On the flip side, it makes me feel “out of control” to have a stranger poking and prodding at me, obviously looking for something wrong as opposed to something right.  Perhaps everyone feels the same way.  Perhaps the only difference is that I am more vocal about it.

So, off we went to our long time physician Dr. Dennis Showalter of Park Nicollet, a youngish (40″), kind, physically fit and smart man, for our final appointments (except for one more travel clinic appointment for each of us, Tom’s later this week, mine in early October).

Greeted with, “Do you have your insurance card and ID?” as opposed to  a cheerful “hello” never ceases to amaze me. I suppose the job of doctor office assistant is demanding, wrought with frustration.  Answering the endless array of the same questions over and over, accompanied by grumpy comments from ill patients (who also don’t want to be there), pushes them over the edge. 

When calling for an appointment they grumble their name immediately asking, “What’s your name and date of birth?”  I cringe while giving them my age, something I am otherwise not ashamed of, having posted it many times in this blog.  I literally cringe.  Knowing their job is thankless, I go overboard with kindness and thoughtfulness, complying with their every wish.

I refused to go on the scale.  Tom was standing right there, edging me on.  I have weighed myself in front of him at home.  I’m skinny, but still, as a woman, I have the same insecurity about “the number.” 

Tom jumps on the scale with an enthusiastic bounce.  I remind him to take off his “three pound tennis shoes.”  He laughs and says he doesn’t care. Oh, yeah, he’s a guy. His weight was five pounds more than at home naked on the digital scale; heavy jeans, tee shirt, keys in pockets, wallet and those shoes.  “OK, maybe the home scale is accurate after all,” I think.

We’re escorted to a room, blood pressures checked by another rushed assistant and left alone.  Tom squeezes my hand aware of my discomfort. He tells me a joke.  I didn’t get it, a guy joke but I laughed anyway. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

Moments later, a light knock on the door and in walks the tall, slender doctor, an example of robust health, warmth in his eyes, hand extended. 

An hour later, a year’s worth of prescriptions on hand to be mailed to (please see my post as to how we’ll handle prescriptions from afar) for the best pricing. (Tom went from four prescriptions down to one from our low carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free diet over the past year). Doc was impressed at his weight loss.  He didn’t ask me why I didn’t get on the scale.  He knows. 

We meandered off to the  lab down the hall to have “every blood test known to man” for one final check before we go on our year’s long worldwide adventure. One test that we determined to be crucial, in the event of an emergency, was blood typing. This information wasn’t in either of our charts.  Good information to know, just in case.Holding hands, Tom and I left the clinic, smiling from ear to ear, me relieved it was over, Tom was anxious to get home to enjoy the remainder of the day he had taken off work for this appointment.  

Thank you, Dr. S.  Hopefully, in a year, we’ll have our online Skype appointment with him to review of our health and refills. Perhaps, we’ll use our portable travel scale and maybe, just maybe, I’ll weigh myself on it!

A mass impacting travel in some parts of the world…

Not our photo. Only a tiny portion of the 5000-mile-wide (8047 km) seaweed mass is washing up on beaches. Sargassum is not a new problem. But the mass of floating seaweed in the Atlantic Ocean is getting bigger, according to scientists. Andre Seale / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty ImagesFor locations,

It’s important for us to pay attention to what’s happening in the world that may have an impact on travel. This morning, while listening to Garage Logic podcast episodes that we missed while Tom was in the US. We’re quickly catching up by listening to two podcasts a day, usually in the morning, while I prepare the posts.

It’s great listening to podcasts in the morning since we don’t have a TV on the main floor and rarely turn it on while in Africa or in other countries, for that matter. We’ve become so used to streaming news and shows. It’s a rare occasion we have any interest in turning on a TV, although we are informed of local and national events with frequent updates that pop up on our laptops.

When this story about the floating mass of seaweed came up today, I thought it was important to share it with our readers who may be considering travel to some of the popular resort areas that may be impacted the most by this anomaly, as described here by Smithsonian Magazine:

“A 5,000-mile-wide blob of brown seaweed is making its way toward North America and could soon wreak havoc on beaches throughout Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean reports NBC News’ Denise Chow.

The thick raft of seaweed—known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt—is not new, but scientists say it’s especially large now. What’s more, the giant sargassum blanket floating in the Atlantic Ocean appears to be making landfall several months earlier than normal this year, which “doesn’t bode well for a clean beach summer in 2023,” says Brian Lapointe, an ecologist at Florida Atlantic University, to the New York Times’ Livia Albeck-Ripka and Emily Schmall.

Sargassum typically makes landfall in May, then peaks in June and July. But already, the seaweed is starting to pile up on beaches in Florida’s Key West as well as in Mexico’s Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

“These blooms are getting bigger and bigger, and this year looks like it’s going to be the biggest year yet on record,” Lapointe tells the Times.

Generally, the sargassum mat bobs harmlessly between West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. Out in the middle of the Atlantic, it even provides some benefits, such as absorbing carbon dioxide and providing shelter for various marine creatures, including some fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles.

But when the tangle of seaweed washes ashore, it starts to cause problems. It piles up on beaches and begins to rot, releasing toxic hydrogen sulfide into the air. Also known as “sewer gas” or “swamp gas,” the colorless hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs and can cause respiratory and neurological issues in humans.

Person holding up clumps of seaweed in hands
Not our photo. Sargassum provides a habitat for marine wildlife in the ocean and absorbs carbon dioxide.

Sargassum is a big turnoff to tourists, so it can also lead to economic consequences for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on travelers for their livelihoods. This year, its early arrival adds to the problems of Florida’s Gulf Coast tourism industry, which is already grappling with the harmful effects of a toxic red tide.

“It’s unpleasant,” says Melinda Simmons, a marine scientist at Jacksonville University, to First Coast News’ Robert Speta. “Whether you are swimming or wading in it, it’s going to smell bad. And then people don’t want to come to the beach.”

Beyond that, sargassum can make it challenging for boats to navigate through coastal waters. It can block the intake valves of desalination plants and power plants, which can lead to water shortages and other issues. It can also block light from reaching the plants and animals below the water’s surface and make it difficult for sea turtles to crawl across the sand to their nesting habitats or to the ocean.

Though communities and resorts try to remove as much of the seaweed from the beach as possible, that process is expensive and labor-intensive. And once they remove the sargassum, they then must figure out what to do with it. Sargassum contains heavy metals, including arsenic, that can make it dangerous to compost or use as fertilizer. Entrepreneurs are trying to come up with novel solutions to the sargassum problem—such as sinking it to the bottom of the seafloor or using it for building materials—but have so far struggled to make them commercially viable.

Scientists have been tracking the Atlantic sargassum raft for years. But in 2011, they started to notice that it was ballooning in size annually. The brown blob is now so large that it can be seen from space, and researchers use satellite imagery to keep tabs on it.

They aren’t exactly sure what’s causing the growth, but they suspect that human activities may be at least partly to blame. They’ve noticed that the sargassum mass tends to expand seasonally, around the same time that major rivers like the Congo, the Mississippi, and the Amazon are discharging into the Atlantic. From this pattern, they’ve determined that runoff from fertilizers, deforestation, and biomass burning may be unintentionally feeding the seaweed. Increasing ocean temperatures, which stem from human-caused climate change, may also be contributing.

“I’ve replaced my climate change anxiety with sargassum anxiety,” says Patricia Estridge, co-founder and CEO of Seaweed Generation, a Scotland-based company that aims to use seaweed to remove carbon emissions, to the Guardian’s Zan Barberton.”

This information is entirely new to us, and we anticipated it may be unknown to many of our readers. It may be worthwhile if planning to travel to any of these locations for ocean-related activities to check online to see the status of this mass of seaweed.

Last night, we had a fabulous time at Jabula. Tom was welcomed back with open arms and considerable enthusiasm by our friends. Tonight, as always, we’ll return again for yet another fun evening.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2022:

Zebra’s tails appear braided, but obviously, they are not. For more photos, please click here.

Day #107 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Birds over mammals?…

This adorable kookaburra posed for me in the yard in Trinity Beach, Australia, while sitting on the fence next to the rain gauge. These birds are much larger than they appear in this photo.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 8, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

Yesterday’s post included a remembrance of our time spent in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015 and a little about the story of our exciting experiences with the Laysan Albatross on the Garden Island, as shown here

After a while, they relocated to the roof, looking down for a possible morsel of food.  They are known to snatch food off of plates when cooking on the “barbie.” More on kookaburras will be coming in a few days with our wildlife posts.

As I pursued past posts for today’s photos, I stumbled across photos of the ever-so-fascinating bird, the kookaburra, while spending time in Trinity Beach, Australia, in 2015. 

Contrary to our usual distaste for zoos, although we appreciate their existence as an opportunity for humans to learn about animals, while in Trinity Beach, we visited a local zoo when we didn’t see many animals in the wild, except for kangaroos and wombats.

These common Yellow Allamanda were growing like crazy in the garden of our holiday home.

It was hard to resist when we were welcomed to “do a story” on the Cairns Tropical Zoo, avoiding an entry fee and providing us with a personal tour with one of the zoo biologists.

Having an opportunity to learn about the indigenous animals the zoo housed exclusively certainly opened our eyes to possible future sightings of the birds and mammals we learned about on that particular day.

Bottlebrush blooming in the yard.

Three birds particularly caught our attention; cockatoos, pelicans, and kookaburras, of which we’ve included a few shots today. As we continue sharing photos from past posts, we’ll include photos of more of the stunning creatures we were fortunate to see on that tour in a few days.

In 2017, we stayed in Fairlight, Australia, close to Sydney, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with these special birds by hand-feeding visitors to the garden of our holiday home when they stopped by each day. Those photos will follow soon.

We drove up the mountain behind the market to Kuranda. When we began the steep and winding trek, it was sunny. When we arrived at the first overlook, it was cloudy, and rain had started to fall. We turned back with a plan to return to see the village at the top on a sunny day.

When we began our travels, we didn’t realize how significant birds would become in our constant search for wildlife. Not only in Africa and Australia, but we also had many memorable experiences with birds in many other locations, as many of our long-term readers have seen.

No, we aren’t expert bird watchers like our friends, Lynne and Mick from the UK with a home in Marloth Park, Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, and our friends Linda and Ken from the UK and South Africa. But we certainly are bird enthusiasts, spending time learning about those we particularly enjoy. 

We could imagine how beautiful this expansive view would be on a sunny day.

Often, I’ll post a photo of a bird we don’t recognize, and our friends will jump in and help us identify the specimen. Bird watching and savoring the beauty of birds can be quite a hobby and, at times, a lofty obsession, coupled with excellent camera skills. 

For us, we love seeing everything that walks, runs, flies swims, and slithers. If it’s moving, we are curious about it, including a wide array of insects we’ve spotted in our years of world travels. Some of our favorite experiences and photos include close-ups of insects and spiders.

The mountain and ocean view reminds us of Kauai, Hawaii.

Nothing new is on the horizon here at the moment. The hotel continues to be fully occupied. The monsoon season is in full force, with raging rain and floods almost daily. Covid-19 continues to infect more and more each day, and the prospects for leaving anytime soon diminish as the contamination escalates.

We’ve concluded that this is our life now and spend less time searching for travel options than we did in the past few months. We’ll know when we can leave and make decisions from there. All the speculation, expectation, and anticipation won’t change a thing. 

The sections of land always create such an exciting view both from the air and scenic overlooks at higher elevations.

The more we accept this as our fate, for now, the less stressful this scenario may be. It is entirely possible we could be here for a total of a year or even more. Laughter is our best panacea. Hope is our salvation.

Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2019:

A repeated photo of a few Gentoo penguins and me on Saunders Island, Antarctica, on January 26, 2018.  What an experience! For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

A step in the right direction…Domestic flights in India beginning on May 25…

Playful elephants on the Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today’s photos are from May 21, 2019, from Connemara, Ireland. Please click here for more details.

This morning’s news announced the reopening of some airports in India for domestic flights. This is a step in the direction for the same for international flights sometime down the road.

We love the reflection of clouds in the water as we drive through the countryside.

However, it’s impossible to predict when this may occur based on the original transmission of Covid-19 traced to passengers entering the country from other countries.

The US has allowed some domestic flights from the onset of the lockdown, but here again, it could be many months before international flights will begin. As for South Africa, our preferred next destination, there is no indication of its borders opening anytime soon.

As for Madagascar, it appears they may reopen their borders in the next 60 days. Tanzania will be opening its borders for international travelers within a week. This leaves us with a good option for staying in one of these countries, enjoying its vast array of wildlife while we await the reopening of borders in South Africa.

Yellow irises were growing wild in the countryside.  Please click here for information on the wild yellow irises in Ireland that often grow along the road. 

Madagascar and Tanzania allow a 90-day visa on arrival. Suppose South Africa’s borders aren’t open after 90-days or 180-days in these two countries (and others). In that case, we can visit other islands near Africa’s eastern border or other countries within Africa such as Namibia, Botswana, and Uganda, depending upon the degree of outbreaks in those countries.

In the interim, liquor shops have reopened in some areas in India for “home delivery” only. No pubs will be open, nor will bars available in hotels. Since we’ve gone so long without a drink, at this point, we won’t bother. 

Besides, having beer and wine delivered to the hotel in lockdown with a guard at a distant gate would be cumbersome. We’ve decided we’ll wait until we get to our following location, which could be many months from now. 

A little sheep family was resting near the road.

It’s interesting to read the comments our readers have sent. As we’ve mentioned in past posts, the most common word we receive is, “Why don’t you seek repatriation to the US and get out of this odd situation?”
We appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Another question we received yesterday was, “Can you fly to another city in India” while you wait?”

There would be no point in us considering either of these scenarios. No city in India would offer a safer, more comfortable environment than where we are staying now in this quality hotel. It would make no sense to fly any more than necessary to leave India when it’s allowed ultimately.

We anticipate the flight out of here with a certain sense of dread, as grateful as we’ll be to be on the move. The required five or six-hour early arrival at the airport, wearing a mask and gloves for such an extended period, the medical checks, the luggage fees, and of course, the long and laborious flight.

As we approached the town of Clifden, we noticed several apartments and townhouses on the inlet.  Clifden, our area to shop, only has a population of 1,597. “Clifden is a coastal town in County Galway, Ireland, in the region of Connemara, located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. As the largest town in the region, it is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara.” Frequented by tourists, Clifden is linked to Galway city by the N59.”

But, there doesn’t appear there will be any other options. We’ve got into the possibility of an upcoming cruise on a small ship sailing out of Mumbai at some point, but only if it brings us closer to a destination we prefer. This is highly unlikely.

It’s not as if we are overly picky about where we choose to go from here. The country has to have open borders, adequate incoming international flights, and not be a hotbed of Covid-19 at the time. 

We accept the reality that we may be required to be quarantined for 14-days (or more) once we arrive in any country significantly since India’s number of cases is rising rapidly and…we are US citizens, the biggest hotbed in the world.

Ah, by no means is this situation manageable, nor will it be when we have some serious decisions to make. But, the one thing we know for sure, it would have made no sense for us to return to the US when flights were offered for stranded citizens.

This precious photo was my favorite of the day.

Where would we have gone? We have no home. Many holiday homeowners are refusing to rent their properties during the times of Covid-19. Hotels and meals are twice as expensive as we’re paying here or will pay in other parts of the world.

I’m high risk. We have no insurance in the US except Part A Medicare, which isn’t nearly enough to cover costs if either of us were to become infected. Our international insurance covers everything with only a $250 deductible.

The reasons are apparent. But, we thank everyone who has taken the time to write and offer suggestions and will continue to respond to your requests.

Yesterday, we crossed this single-lane bridge on the way to Clifden. We can take a few different routes from here to Clifden and will change it up each week.

The weeks seem to fly by quickly, especially from weekend to weekend. Often, when we comment on what day of the week it is, we’re both surprised it’s Friday or Saturday once again.

Regardless of all of this, we continue to have hope for the world, India, our own country, fur readers/family/friends, and for ourselves that eventually this too shall pass and a new world will begin to emerge.

Stay safe. Stay hopeful.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2019:

Donkeys are highly regarded in Ireland to the point there are special programs available to adopt and a specialized Donkey Sanctuary in Cork, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Musings over the peculiarity of life in a lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India…

Dozens of mongooses are in our garden in Marloth Park. See the post here.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Today’s photos are from our post one year ago today. Please click here for more details.

At the end of yesterday’s post, we mentioned, we’ll be sharing what we’re missing the most during this time of COVID-19 besides the apparent aspects of missing family and friends. 

In speaking with our loved ones, we found that each person and family has their list of how lockdown has impacted their lives and what they are missing the most.

Two barn owls in the rafters at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie. For more on this year-ago post, please click here.

It has varied from socializing with family and friends to walks in the park, shopping in malls and local shops, dining in restaurants, to such basic needs as being unable to find favorite necessary foods and beverages.

For many business owners, they are sorely missing the much-needed revenue stream they typically see in their businesses, coupled with the fears as to how long they’ll survive financially if lockdown continues any longer.

For many, they miss the peace of mind they’ve experienced in the past and perhaps didn’t appreciate enough the freedom of not worrying about life-threatening illness befalling them and their family members and friends.

Female lions lounging in the shade

Regardless of what others have missed, our hearts go out to everyone during this difficult time. This is the first time in history that non-infected citizens have been quarantined. Sadly, this insidious virus cannot be detected in the healthy without a test. Taking temperatures is simply not enough. 

As more and more guests check in to our hotel (we’re now back up to about 20 guests), we wonder if they are carrying the virus, although their temperature was taken at the door when they entered. They could easily be carrying the virus without any symptoms at all.

What do we miss while living in this hotel in lockdown in Mumbai, India? Here’s our list, not necessarily in any particular order since it can change each day:

Dinner in Kruger National Park when friends Lois and Tom visited when we’d gone on a nighttime game drive.

1. The freedom to order products we need online, knowing a shipment may be on its way soon:
At this point, no international packages are being delivered in India, not through FEDEX, DHL, or any other service. Our mailing service rep, Eric at Maillinkplus in Las Vegas, Nevada, replied to our inquiry, stating that at this time, there isn’t a single shipping company in the world shipping parcels to India. However, oversized shipments from some companies are arriving. We have a package waiting to be shipped to us with essential supplies that we may not be able to receive for months to come.

2. Purchasing groceries and cooking our meals:
No doubt, I miss having a kitchen to create a week’s menu and shop and cook accordingly. As we mentioned many times, having the same meals over and over again is boring and unsatisfying. Thank goodness the hotel chefs are good cooks and the repetitious meals are flavorful. We both miss the variety.

Ms. Bushbuck is resting in the garden.

3. Beef, snacks, hard cheeses:
Neither of us has had any beef in over three months. This is a first for Tom, not so much for me. I’d love a grass-fed beef burger, minus the bun, with cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo. Tom mentions roast beef, beef taco salad, meatloaf, steak, and hamburger. Snacks would be excellent.

4.  Wine for me, beer, or cocktails for Tom:
This speaks for itself.

5.  Paper towels, Windex, and disinfectant cleaner:
I’ve always been a paper towel person. Although I was always careful in not using them excessively. Now, I’d love to be able to wipe things down, although our room is immaculate.

A cute bunny on the road in Kruger National Park.

6. Freedom:
To be unable to continue on our travels as we have over these past 7½ years is frustrating, along with the uncertainty of the future. Here, we cannot go outside for a walk or sit in the garden (yard) for some fresh air and sunshine. We’re taking big doses of Vitamin D3 to compensate for the lack of sun.  Being unable to jump into a car and drive somewhere will be significantly appreciated sometime in the future.

7. Socializing:
It’s true, in some countries we don’t have an opportunity to make friends and socialize. But it’s been such a joy to engage in lively conversations with others and on cruises. Now, we only speak casually to the courteous staff, but it’s not necessarily considered socializing.

A pair of hippos and a couple of cape buffaloes.

8. Cruising:
A big part of the joy in traveling the world has been the pure pleasure of cruising to many exotic locations and frequently conversing with travelers from all over the world. The entire ambiance of the cruise experience has been a vital part of our lives, also in getting us from location to location, enabling us to avoid flying as much as possible. Will this ever be possible again?

9. Living in a more spacious environment:
Living in one room, except for a few hours a day, isn’t easy. We keep our room tidy and relatively clutter-free, but even so, it’s a small space.

A Nyala, the first we’d spotted in Kruger National Park.

10. Doing laundry:
We’re sure you’ve heard about our laundry situation ad nauseam, but I do miss doing laundry, providing more options on what we wear.

11. Sightseeing and taking new photos for our posts:
It’s been about six weeks since we were sightseeing in India, taking and sharing many photos along the way. We look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. 

More Nyala in Kruger.

Sure, we miss all of the above-listed items and maybe a few more we don’t recall at the moment. However, we’re both holding up quite well. Our biggest goal through this entire process has been to maintain a good attitude with hope for times to come, regardless of the inconveniences we may be experiencing now.

We hope and pray for all of you as we each work our way through these difficult times. 

Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2019:

The only squirrel we’d ever seen in South Africa. For more photos, please click here.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Heartbreaking news for my sister…

Our favorite bird, Birdie, sang for us each day to give him nuts.
Please listen to this song all the way through!
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Please click here for those who may have missed the post with SW News Media’s article on our story.

Charles Dickens wrote in The Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief. It was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of light. It was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Five years ago, this adorable pair of Northern Cardinals visited us several times each day in Kauai, Hawaii.  He’s sharing the nuts we gave him with his mate that we leave on the railing each day.  How sweet is this! For that post on April 10, 2015, please click here.

And here we are, dear readers, in the worst of times as most of us are striving to survive with grace and dignity through this frightening pandemic. No one is exempt. No one is free from the fear, risk, and consequences of a world in lockdown for an indefinite period.

My sister, Susan’s situation is indicative of these stressful and unusual times. She’s back at the assisted living facility in much worse shape than she was before she fell. 
He’s so cute.  And he sings as nobody knows! See the above video of him belting out a tune for our attention for more nuts.
Not one nursing home, palliative or hospice care facility, or rehab center in Nevada would accept her as a patient due to COVID-19. Not one. Subsequently, she was sent back to her assisted living facility, which does not provide the type of palliative/hospice care she requires at this time. 
She literally cannot get into her wheelchair to get to the bathroom or attend to any of her personal needs. She can barely feed herself. She’s trapped. The assisted living facility has agreed to do what they can to help her, but they have many patients who require attention, especially when no family members can visit.
But, these facilities don’t offer the degree of help she requires now and most likely will require for the remainder of her life, which may be shorter thane anticipated under these dire circumstances. It breaks our hearts to know how she is struggling to get through each day.
Birdie, contemplating his day.
I call her every morning, which is nighttime in Nevada, USA, but I’m having trouble keeping the call from cutting off. Thank God, my sister Julie, niece Kely, and Susan’s ex-husband Tom are all also calling her frequently providing considerable emotional support and encouragement.

Based on lacunar infarctions, of which she’s had many, her memory is fading by the day. Lacunar infarction is described as follows: “Lacunar stroke or lacunar infarct (LACI) is the most common type of ischemic stroke, resulting from the occlusion of small penetrating arteries that provide blood to the brain’s deep structures.”

No doubt, many of you have experienced a similar diagnosis in your aging parents and family members. On top of this frequently occurring situation in her brain, as mentioned earlier, she has COPD, congestive heart failure, and a chronic pain condition. Also, she was injured in a recent fall. Oh, good grief, this is unbearable for her.
The male Red Crested Cardinal also came to visit each day, but he and Birdie didn’t get along well.
Susan was a brilliant and successful businesswoman for most of her life with an illustrious career. She, too, traveled the world and we often share stories of places we’ve been and the experiences we’ve had, especially while on safari in Africa and India. 
To lie in bed for 12 years withering away is unthinkable for any individual, as the quality of life fades away, day after day, as do the memories of a life well-lived. 
She asked me is she should “let go” and do what our mother had done at 81 years old in 2003, stopped eating and drinking, refusing all treatment until 17 days later she drifted away with all of us at her side. What could I say? Fight to live under these dreadful circumstances?
A showdown between Birdie and his competition.

I could only offer my love and support for whatever path she so chooses. Only she can make that decision. Many of us can make such a decision when and if the time comes, and if we hopefully still possess a modicum of mental resources to make such a dire decision.

The sorrow this virus has bestowed upon all of us worldwide has placed so many in the horrifying position of making life and death decisions for ourselves and for those we love.
Thank you to our readers for the love and support you send our way in thoughts, messages, and prayers. We extend the very same to every one of you.

Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2019:

Mr. Nyala likes it there. It was a delight for Tom to see him again that morning and to be able to take these photos. For more photos, please click here.