The booking process has changed over the years…The itinerary for our US visit in 3 weeks…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 13 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, The Imposter, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others
  • 6 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 10 kudus – inc. Little Daddy, Bossy, Baby Daddy, Medium Daddy
  • 2 wildebeest – inc Broken Horn, Old Face,
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Note: Included above is our video mentioned in yesterday’s post. As it turned out, only a few minutes after making this video, two more bushbucks appeared for a total of 10. What a fantastic start to a chilly morning in the bush!

On our way to the river, we encountered a dazzle of zebras.

At the beginning of our world travels in 2012, when we first started booking holiday homes, flights, and rental cars, the process was very different than it is now. At times, it was slow and cumbersome with inconsistent methods, including sketchy confirmations when we were done booking.

It’s a whole new world now. Websites are working more efficiently, and the booking process is easier than ever in the past. That’s not to say we don’t encounter problems. We do. But they are minimal and often quickly resolved,

Great message on this sign on the fence at Two Trees Crocodile River viewing location.

Over the past three days, we’ve been busy planning and booking the following for our trip to the US, leaving in a mere three weeks from today.

  • June 29, 2021 – Flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • June 29, 2021 – Hotel in Johannesburg (awaiting next day’s flight)
  • June 30, 2021 – Flight from Johannesburg to Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
  • July 1, 2021 – Rental car upon arrival in Minnesota
  • July 1, 2021 – Hotel in Eden Prairie, Minnesota
  • July 16, 2021 –  Drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Hotel yet to be booked
  • July 18, 2021 – Return Drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for an upcoming flight
  • July 18, 2021 – Flight to Las Vegas, McCarran Airport
  • July 18, 2021 – Hotel at Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada
  • July 24, 2021 – Flight from Las Vegas to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • July 26, 2021 – Flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger
  • July 26, 2021 – Return Drive to Marloth Park, arriving late afternoon

    More elephant photos from our visit to the Crocodile River.

As mentioned above, we’ve found that booking all of these flights, cars and venues are considerably easier than they were in the past. In some cases, the payment process may require a few steps to verify the use of a credit card which we don’t mind. Our credit card numbers have been stolen on several occasions, requiring that we find a way to receive a new card, which is tricky in some locations.

For most of our travels, we’ve used either of two credit cards, one of Tom’s and one of mine, that both accumulate tons of points for travel, which we often use to pay down a new balance, rather than specify it for a particular event. So for us, it’s the best way to take advantage of accrued points.

The majestic elephant never disappoints.

After our extended stay in the hotel in India, using Hotels.com on our site, we accumulated many credits we’re using for the hotels in the US. Every ten nights that we stayed in that hotel which we booked through Hotels.com, we earned one free night, which is limited to the average dollar amount spent for previous hotel rooms. Based on the fact that the hotel in Mumbai averaged around US $100, ZAR 1359 per night, our credits are limited based on the high cost of hotels in the US.

After totaling all of our expenses, including still paying rent for this house in Marloth Park, we’ll easily spend US $10,000, ZAR 135942, for the 28 days, averaging US $357, ZAR 4853, per day. Of course, we will be keeping track of all of our expenses and include them here at the end of our stay.

No doubt, birds are used to being fed while humans watch the action on the river.

Meals will be a considerable expense during the trip. Fortunately, our hotel in Minnesota has a kitchen. That’s not to say I will be cooking all of our meals. Breakfast is included in the hotel. But, I can easily see us heading to Costco to purchase a few dinners from time to time.

In Las Vegas/Henderson, we’ll be staying at the fabulous Green Valley Ranch Hotel, Spa, and Casino, where breakfast is not included. With numerous restaurants within walking distance, we will indeed have trouble finding a good spot for breakfast. Most likely, we’ll be dining out most nights with Richard and friends. It will all work out.

More entertaining us in hopes of being fed. Next time, we’ll bring birdseed.

As for today, we’re staying put. There is an endless stream of wildlife to entertain us. We’re making a big pot of slow-cooked short ribs for dinner. And, after the past few days, busy booking for the trip, I need to spend some serious time getting caught up doing post corrections. Unfortunately, I doubt I will have time to be doing edits while we’re in the US, so I’d like to double up for the next three weeks until we depart.

We hope you have a fantastic day!

P.S. I have been inside trying to stay warm for the past hour, in the bedroom, with the door closed. I opened the bedroom door to check out the action in the garden, to find Frank wandering around inside the house. LMAO!!! Frank, what a guy!

Photo from one year ago today, June 8, 2020:

While on a walk in the neighborhood in Sumbersari, Bali, in 2016, we spotted this friendly neighbor (she spoke no English) making bowls as shown that are used for offerings at the Hindu temples. For more photos, please click here.

Rainy Sunday morning…Will our plans for the river be dashed?…A decision is made…

Wildebeests in the driveway near the rental car.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg,
  • 6 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 kudu- inc. Medium Daddy
  • 3 hornbills – banging on the kitchen window for hours
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

With plans for river sightings with Rita and Gerhard today at 3:00 pm, a rainy morning may indicate that we won’t be heading out today. Anxious for new photos to share here, after a steady stream of regulars in the garden, day after day (which we love but our readers may not), we have been looking forward to seeing our friends again with an opportunity to take big game photos.

The wildlife tends to hunker down on rainy and windy days, so if we go, regardless of the weather, we may not see much action on the river today. However, right now and last night, we could hear lions Fluffy and Desi roaring in Lionspruit, which abuts the end of our back garden. We’ve listened to that roar over and over again, and it always makes us smile. What an exquisite sound!

Hornbills next to the veranda enjoying Frank’s seeds.

It’s not only the photos and videos we take that make this experience so delightful. The sounds, day and night, are thrilling and at the same time heartwarming; whether it’s birds or animals, it all sends a chill down our spines. So many of these sounds may be heard when viewing any of our videos, over and above my endless chatter describing the current scene in view.

Of course, our big concern is that our readers will become bored with photos of warthogs, bushbucks, and kudus and lose interest in our site. So we always strive to “shake it up,” but with the limitations for travel due to Covid-19, we’re fast running out of new and exciting photos.

Then again, I have been under the weather for almost three weeks, continuing to cough, and haven’t felt like doing much of anything other than sitting on the veranda watching our furry friends stop by for a warm “hello” and, of course, pellets, carrots, apples, and cabbage.

A dark-capped bulbul. Sorry for the blurry photo. They don’t stay still for a good shot.

Well, folks, maybe it will get more interesting coming up here in 23 days when we are finally leaving South Africa for about a little over three weeks to return to the US for several reasons; 1. to see our family members in Minnesota, Nevada ad Wisconsin; 2. to get the Covid-19 J & J  vaccine, which is readily available at many locations in the Twin Cities; and 3. to get that darned visa stamp we so much need, when our visas expire on June 30th.

It doesn’t seem realistic that SA President Cyril Ramaphosa will be extending visas for foreign nationals again in the next 24 days. He extended visas last time at the beginning of a month to June 30th, not at the end, as we need at this point. So it’s doubtful the dates will coincide with our needs.

Thus, yesterday afternoon, we began booking rental cars and hotels for our already-in-place flight from Johannesburg to Minneapolis on June 30th with Lufthansa Airlines. So all we have left to book is:

  1. A round trip flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Joburg
  2. A one-way flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas to visit to son Richard
  3. A return flight from Las Vegas to Joburg

    Warthogs and mongoose get along well, paying little attention to one another.

We have yet to book the Las Vegas/Henderson hotel, which we’ll do today, planning on staying at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino in Henderson, which is close to Richard‘s home. Unfortunately, we will be in Las Vegas during the hottest month of the year, so we won’t spend much time outdoors if we can help it.

As for visiting Tom’s dear sister, Sister Beth, a nun in a nursing home in Milwaukee, we will drive from Minneapolis, returning a few days later to fly to Las Vegas from there. We’ll see Sister Beth, and then Tom wants to visit a few cemeteries for his Ancestry stuff.

It will be a busy time, and we hope to take many photos along the way. But, of course, we’ll continue to post each day, even during the long travel days while on long layovers.

At this point, regardless of the visa scenario changing again for foreign nationals in South Africa, we’re committed to leaving Marloth Park on June 29th to begin the long journey to the US. We hope to get our J & J vaccine on July 2, which we plan to book before leaving here.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow, including what we’ll be doing with our vacation home during our absence. Also, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. It looks like we’ll be able to go to the river today, after all!

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2020:

While in Campanaria, Madeira, Portugal, we heard the music coming from the fish guy’s truck and raced up the hill to meet him. He held up a tuna for us to inspect. It was smaller than some of the others but this size was perfect. It weighed 7.7 kg, 17 pounds, and the cost was INR 2569, US $34. He cut them into portion-sized pieces, wrapping each piece individually. For more photos, please click here.

Stars in our eyes…Stripes in our garden…It’s our 26th wedding anniversary today…What does it cost us for food in South Africa?…

Tiny couldn’t resist being in the photo with the zebras.

As of today, we’ve been married for 26 years. Last year in India, we celebrated our 25th but now, that seems like so long ago. We are blessed to have this amazing union, two people of polar opposites, that somehow meet in the middle to find love, companionship, friendship, and harmony. Who knew we’d be able to travel the world together for over eight years and find so much joy in our everyday lives, regardless of where we may be at any given time?

We waited quite a while for them to pick up their heads for a photo but they were preoccupied.

If anyone had asked if we could spend 10 months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, we may have laughed, uncertain if our usual state of harmony and love would survive. And, it did. Not only did we survive, emotionally intact, but all the stronger for it. Happy anniversary, Tom Lyman! May our lives together continue to be enriched in years to come.

They often head-butt one another when the pellets get low.

Last night, we headed to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for our anniversary dinner, dining outside on the veranda and enjoying, as usual, a fine meal. It’s often surprising to us how affordable it is to dine out in Marloth Park. This week we dined at Jabula twice, on Thursday with Linda and Ken, and again last night.

The cost for each evening was approximately US $40, ZAR $615, which included taxes, tips, cocktails for Tom, and a bottle of my favorite Four Cousins Skinny Red Wine which I drank from on both occasions, with another glass or two left in the bottle that we brought home last night. There is nowhere in the world we’ve been able to enjoy such good food at such reasonable prices.

Zebras with their heads down only interested in the pellets.

Our total grocery bill since we arrived here on January 13th with enough food to last us for another week was US $1081, ZAR 16609. This averaged, US $136, ZAR 2074 per week. Our total dining out bill for these eight weeks was US $251, ZAR 3856. The grand total for food thus far was US 1332, ZAR 20465, averaged US $167, ZAR 2566 per week.

This was the first of the zebras to take a drink from the pool and the others followed suit.

When we lived in Minnesota, shopping for groceries in 2012, we spent an average of US $225, ZAR 3457 per week. Dining out, typically was US $100, ZAR 1536 and thus we didn’t go out to eat in the US as readily as we do here. As we’ve always said, it’s good for our budget to be living in South Africa, let alone all the other wonderful reasons.

As you can see from today’s photos, we were thrilled to finally see zebras in the garden. It was funny how it happened. One of the four zebras snuck up from the side of the house and peered out at us on the veranda, checking out the situation. Moments later, the four of them were busy munching on pellets, rarely taking a second to look up.

They seem to copy one another’s activities.

Zebras aren’t like kudus, wildebeest, warthogs, and bushbucks, who make eye contact and respond to our voices. They never look us in the eye. Although it’s quite enjoyable to watch them interact with one another, pushing and shoving one moment and cuddling the next, they have little interest in us humans. Nonetheless, a visit from them is always welcomed.

Tonight, we are getting together with Linda and Ken to celebrate our anniversary. Bubbly is on the menu for sure. And, tomorrow night, their last night in MP, we’re meeting for dinner at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as AAmazing River View. The restaurant overlooks the Crocodile River for some often exciting views.

Although there is chlorine in the pool, here, they use so little, it’s not harmful to the animals to drink from the pool.

Today, it is very hot and humid. It’s so much so that I decided to stay inside in the bedroom to cool off for a bit while I finish today’s post.

We hope you’ve been having a good weekend. We certainly have enjoyed this four-day run of social activities with our special friends in Marloth Park. We never tire of the people or the wildlife and can’t imagine, we ever will.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2020:

Us, in an old vehicle, located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.

Nearly landlocked due to storms and road washouts…Stunning photos of our area…Happy Valentine’s Day!…

May be an image of outdoors

First, I’d like to thank Marlothian, Thea Sander, for sharing today’s photos with us, which she took yesterday after the constant rains resulted in washouts on several of the roads in our area. If it weren’t for one short stretch of another road, we’d literally be landlocked until everything dries out. Road maintenance in Marloth Park is minimal at best.

With the little car we rented a month ago, there is no way we’d attempt to get out right now. With rain forecast through Monday with a short reprieve midweek, it appears it will pick up again next Saturday. We may not be going anywhere for days. After raining for at least three of the past four weeks, the ground and the roads are so soaked, and may not become passable again for weeks to come.

In any case, it’s certainly better than sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai, India for months. We can cook, do laundry, feed a few determined wildlife that comes to call when the rain stops in short bursts, and also move about freely. This is quite an improvement. Hopefully, by next Monday, the 22nd, we’ll be able to drive to Komati for my next dentist appointment to see if the tooth abscess is gone. Hoping.

It’s hard to believe how seriously the roads near us washed-out due to the rain.

Marloth Park doesn’t have a stable infrastructure for utility services and road maintenance, although their emergency services, including fire, rescue, snake removal, rangers, security, and wildlife control are exemplary. Cost is the determining factor as it is in most municipalities. The citizens and powers-that-be of Marloth Park chose correctly when they had to “pick and choose” their priorities.

Of course, the reliability of electrical services is predicated by the poorly managed national electric company, Eskom. This is the case throughout the entire country when load shedding is an ongoing fact of life in South Africa.  It’s impossible to determine when and if this will ever change. However, often their staff is quick to respond when there is damage to the lines, often coming out in inclement weather and the middle of the night.

Many, if not most, African countries struggle in their infrastructure resulting in many observers describing them as “third world countries.” But, this phrase has become derogatory and out-dated in today’s modern world. In our travels, we often hear other travelers describe parts of the world as “third world.”  We kindly prefer to offer a more appropriate phrase for such a country as a “developing nation.”  See more on this topic here at this link.

Many long term Maroth Park residents have stated they’ve never seen rain like this.

Without question, poverty, wars, unrest, and corruption are instrumental in a country’s slow progress in building a stronger infrastructure. But, as we scour the world we see these factors play out and are prevalent in many countries, at times even in more modern countries like our own USA and many countries in Europe and on other continents.

We live in difficult times, only made more so, due to the pandemic of the past year. Will we ever come out from the ravages and rubble that have ravaged the world during these challenging times? It’s hard to say. As much as we want to believe we will, with this belief keeping us hopeful and sane as we struggle with “pandemic fatigue” as described in part, in this article.

“Humans have a remarkable capacity to conceive of a task they have never done before and plan and execute the actions needed to do it. For example, most of us probably didn’t have a routine of wearing a mask around other people before this year. But, once we understood that it stemmed the spread of COVID-19, many of us started doing so. It didn’t take hundreds of trials of training to learn this behavior, or indeed, thousands of years of evolution. Rather, we incorporated mask-wearing into our daily lives almost immediately. Humans can link our abstract goals, ideas, rules, and knowledge to our behavior at a speed and on a scale that no other species can match and no AI yet built can emulate. We can do this because of a class of function scientists term cognitive control, a function that is supported by several interacting systems and mechanisms that are uniquely elaborated in the human brain, including the prefrontal cortex.”

May be an image of road and tree
Without a four-wheeled vehicle, we don’t’ dare tackle any of these roads right now. We’ll continue to stay put until it improves.

There’s no easy answer as to how we humans will get through this difficult time. Now, as I am situated in the bedroom since it’s raining too hard to be outdoors, we even question our ability to get through lesser times such as this, on a much smaller scale.

But, as I learned decades ago in a Tony Robbins seminar, we must utilize our human ability to “reframe” a situation to enable ourselves to cope in the best possible manner with the best possible outcome. Here are a few of Tony’s quotes that have lingered in my mind over the years. See his link here.

The power of positive thinking is the ability to generate a feeling of certainty in yourself when nothing in the environment supports you.”


“Knowing you have failed to live up to your own standards is the ultimate pain, knowing that you have fulfilled your highest vision is the ultimate pleasure.”


There is a powerful driving force inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire a reality.”


What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”

That’s it for today, folks. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and hope for the future…

Photo from one year ago today,  February 14, 2020:

A gaur crossing the road. “The gaur (/ɡaʊər/, Bos gaurus), also called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. It is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population has been estimated at a maximum of 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka and probably also in Bangladesh. In a well-protected area, it is stable and rebuilding.” For more, please click here.

Day #289 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…3 days and counting…Are we worried about exposure while traveling?…

Beautiful statue at the beach in Pondicherry.

Today’s photos are a continuation of those we posted during our first few months in India on tour, in today’s case on March 27, 2020, See the post here. We’ll continue on this path, sharing more tour photos until it’s time for us to hopefully depart on January 11, 2021. From there, God willing, it will be an entirely new world!

We can’t believe we’re three days from departure and still, our flight remains in place. We can’t totally relax at this point, after our experience of being turned away at the airport on March 20, 2020, to then begin this awfully long lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India.

A church we visited in Pondicherry. 

Peace of mind will only come once we’re in the air on the flight from Dubai to Johannesburg on January 12th. From there, an overnight stay in Joburg and then on to our flight to the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, where we’ll pick up our rental car, to commence the one hour drive in daylight hours to Marloth Park.

The journey will consist of considerable exposure to people, at airports, hotels, and planes. Are we worried about the added exposure to Covid-19 compared to minimal exposure all these months in the hotel in Mumbai? We’d be foolish to say we’re not concerned.

The stunning interior of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Pondicherry.

No doubt, Emirates Airlines have instituted extensive measures to protect its passengers while flying. We have less concern about being on the plane, other than if we have to use the restroom. We plan to be careful with our fluid consumption while traveling. Of course, we won’t partake in their complimentary cocktails during the two flights, only drinking minimal amounts of water as needed.

Our bigger concern is for safety at the airports, waiting in queues, and at the two hotels where we’ll be staying along the way, one in Dubai, the next in Joburg. At this point, we have no idea as to where and when we will eat along the way. Most likely, I won’t eat anything on the flights since they won’t have anything suitable for me.

Entrance to the cemetery in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.

Our current hotel chef stated he’d have breakfast delivered to our room on departure morning. We need to allow three hours at the airport for our 10:25 am flight, which is only a 3¼ hour flight until we reach Dubai. We won’t need to eat again until we’re at the hotel in Dubai near the airport. I looked up the menu and they have beef!

I’m certain Tom will order a burger and fries. I’ll order two beef patties without the bun with lettuce and cheese. Most likely, we won’t dine in the restaurant which may be packed with travelers and may be less safe than dining in our room. We’ll play that by ear. But, all of these factors are important to consider.

This morning, we packed and weighed our bags. We are within 2 kg of the maximum weight of 40 kg each. With Emirates Airlines, the total weight is the issue, not the number of bags. We have three checked bags between us and one carry-on we’d like to check, leaving us with the laptop bag for Tom and the yellow Costco bag and handbag for me.

A shrine on the interior of a temple in Pondicherry.

If for some reason, we are over on the weight, we’ll take the small purple bag with us as an additional carry-on which contains our heavy jeans, pants, and shorts. All we have left to do is pack the clothes we’re wearing, the laptops, cords, adapters, power strips, and the final batch of the few toiletries we’ll be using over the next few days and a few odds and ends.

I wish I could say we’re excited at this point, but until we get to Marloth Park and enough time passes when we’re at ease that we didn’t contract the virus during our two travel days, it’s only then we can fully relax and embrace our glorious surroundings in the bush.

Thank you to so many of you who continue to write and send well wishes for our departure and safety. It means the world to us, as all of you do as well.

Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2020:

This was the photo we posted, one year ago today. When we visited friends Kathy and Don in Pretoria, South Africa, two years ago, we visited this monument, the Voortrekker Monument, which is an unusual-looking structure located in Pretoria, South Africa. At the time I walked up all these steps (not all steps we tackled are shown in the photo) without getting out of breath or having any health issues. It was a little over a month later, I had open-heart surgery with three main arteries 100% blocked. Who knew? For more photos from this date, one year ago, please click here.

Day #279 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Yikes!…Our flight got canceled!…

Simple, yet lovely.

There are no photos from a prior post to share today other than the above from this date in 2016 while in Penguin, Tasmania, Australia due to other “fish to fry” today as you’ll see below. Please click here for the post.

Yesterday, afternoon, while settling in for our lazy second half of the day, I noticed an email from Emirates Airlines. Our flight scheduled for January 12, 2021, has been canceled. No explanation. No refund included. Just canceled. We spent the remainder of the afternoon searching for and booking another flight.

Fortunately, we were able to book another flight on Emirates Airlines one day earlier. However, this new flight, on January 11th, not the 12th, includes a 16-hour layover in Dubai. There were no other shorter-flight options. Frustrated and fearing this will happen again, last night I stayed up late to listen to Cyril Ramphosa, president of South Africa, speech about re-instituted Level 3 lockdown measures.

Much to our relief, at this point, South Africa’s borders won’t be closing, hopefully, not over the next few weeks anyway. However, this doesn’t mean this new flight won’t also get canceled. Based on fewer tourists and business flyers traveling at this time, these airlines will cancel flights if they aren’t full enough.

While booking the January 11th flight, we noticed that the business class was sold out. This might be a good sign that this flight may be more fully occupied, increasing the odds that it will stay in place. We’d considered upgrading to business class at one point, but the extra cost of US $2000, INR 146741, per person wasn’t worth it.

The only good part of this flight is that we won’t have to leave this hotel in the middle of the night. By 7:00 am, we’ll head for the nearby Mumbai Airport for the 10:30 am flight. The hotel has rescheduled our COVID-19 test for January 9th since it takes a full 24-hours for the results. We couldn’t risk having the test on the 10th for this reason.

Based on the new flight details, our overnight stay in Johannesburg still works out along with the flight on January 13th from Johannesburg Tambo Airport to Nelspruit/Mpumulanga/Kruger Airport and the booking for our pre-arranged rental car. All said and done, we’ll arrive in Marloth Park on the same day and time on January 13th, after a two-day travel period.

Thank goodness, we’ll have the overnight in Johannesburg and be able to catch up on some sleep and food. But, alas, much to our dismay, President Ramaphosa banned all alcohol sales in South Africa until January 14th or perhaps longer. “No, worries,” says dear friend Louise last night amid the madness. She’s got wine and brandy for the night we arrive. That’s our Louise and Danie!!!

We aren’t “lushes” by any means, having had no problem going without drinks the past 10 months, but settling in with a big steak and a glass of red wine for me and brandy for Tom was definitely in our minds as part of our arrival festivities. In more news today’s, I’ve been reading that the alcohol ban may be overturned since it severely impacts South Africa’s economy and jobs. We shall see how that goes.

To top it off, we took a peek at India’s visa status and the previous statement that all foreign travelers visas would automatically be provided with an extension if they leave within 30 days of the re-opening of all International flights has been reversed. Well, that went away and now, much to our chagrin, we have to apply for an extension after all.

You wouldn’t believe how complicated this process is! That’s why I haven’t included more photos today and am wrapping up this post as quickly as possible. There’s a 14-day window to accomplish this and when our flight changed from the 12th to the 11th, this places us on the 13th day today. As soon as I wrap this up, we’ll start the process which, most likely will take the remainder of the day.

Needless to say, I won’t be finishing my walks today and will be sitting at my computer filling out forms for the remainder of the day. Lots of small-sized documents have to be attached so I will have to make adjustments accordingly. Oh, good grief. Kind of stressful.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2019:

We often encountered beautiful flowers when we walked the neighborhood in Pacific Harbor, Fiji on this date in 2015. For more on the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #250 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Our 2013 hotel criteria…Has it changed?…

Out for a drive in Maui, we stopped to walk along the beach.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while we were staying at Maalaea Beach, Maui. For more photos and details, please click here.

As the long days and nights continue in this long-term confinement, we tend to dream about places we’ve visited in the past and places we’d like to visit in the future. Have our criteria changed much over the years? From this post on November 11, 2013, we had outlined our criteria for staying in hotel rooms throughout the world.

Maui has one beautiful beach after another.

Now, on day #250 of living in a hotel room, we thought it would be interesting to see if our criteria have changed in the past seven years since we originally uploaded this post. Here they are:

  • Free WiFi
  • Laundry options in the room or in the building
  • A sofa in the room (it’s tough to sit on the bed typing on my laptop for hours posting photos and writing)
  • Convenient location: to our next destination (when possible), for sightseeing, (if time allows), and for local modes of transportation for dining out, grocery shopping, etc. (Not applicable now).
  • Kitchenette or full kitchen for longer stays (Not applicable now)
  • Reasonable cost (in most cities a decent hotel room will run from US $175, INR 12941, to US $200, 14790, per night or more with city taxes and fees. (Prices have increased in the past seven years from this original amount as mentioned)
  • Air conditioning (we seldom, if ever, will travel in cold climates)
  • A safe in the room
  • Good view. For us, this is important. If we’re to pay US $200 a night, we want a good, if not great view. (Not applicable now)
  • Great reviews from recent guests for a 4.0 rating or higher. Tom will read from 30 to 50 recent reviews to satisfy our objectives.
    Many beaches are left in a natural state with vegetation growing along the shoreline.

Newly added to this list based on our past and recent experiences include:

  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Complimentary coffee and tea
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Comfortable bed
  • Sufficient plug-ins for our equipment
    The colors in these hills look more like a painting than real life.

At this point, we feel we’ve had enough hotel experience to last us a lifetime but, not knowing when we can depart Mumbai, staying put in this hotel provides us with the fulfillment of most of the above criteria. Going forward, if and when we’re able to freely travel in the future, these same criteria will be applicable and to our standards.

For the time being, we have booked this hotel room until January 3, 2021, when by happenstance, we checked for future pricing and found, on our site at Hotels.com to discover this hotel was selling rooms for US $50, INR 3698 per night for the bulk of December and US $57, INR 4215 per night for the balance of December, all the way to January 3, 2021. We couldn’t get these prices booked quickly enough.

In a matter of minutes, the clouds began to disperse for a better view of the mountaintop. Notice the buildings at the top of the mountain.

Now, we continue to watch prices to extend our reservations further as needed as we wait this out. As always, especially lately, we’ll play it by ear.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2019:

Upon arrival in Mombasa on Thanksgiving Day in 2013, we took this photo from the ferry, as another ferry was taking off. Notice the crowds. For more photos from that day in 2013,  please click here. For more of the year-ago post, please click here.

Day #245 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Golfing for travelers…

A manmade pond on the Kahili Golf Course in Maui, Hawaii, created a pretty scene.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2014 while living in Maui, Hawaii. Please see here for more details.

Neither of us ever took up the sport of golf mainly due to the fact neither of us is very good at it. After a few tries over the years, each separately, the frustration factor was simply too much to overcome, nor did either of us have enough interest in the sport to take lessons.

In a way, when we began traveling the world, we were glad we had no interest in playing golf. Hauling clubs all over the world made little sense considering how much we travel. The added costs for flying with two sets of golf clubs, plus fees and expenses would have far surpassed our budget, requiring we sacrifice something more important to us such as quality holiday homes, rental cars, and dining out.

The lush lawns at the Kahili Golf Club in Maui were similar to the gorgeous lawns at our condo in Maalaea Beach

Many avid golfer travelers rent clubs as they travel but then again, that may have been for a few trips a year, not non-stop world travel. Nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed the beauty of many golf courses throughout the world and have either driven through them to revel in their carpet-like lawns and at times, dine in the clubhouse.

In Princeville, Kauai in 2015, where we lived for four months, we acquired a social membership to the Makai Golf Course which allowed us access to the pool, fitness center, dining, and social activities. We certainly took advantage of that membership at US $250, INR 18,547, per month for the two of us. In reviewing their site, we weren’t able to determine the cost of that same social membership now, particularly in light of COVID-19, when everything has changed.

A gazebo and footbridge on the course with the ocean at a distance.

It’s difficult to determine costs for any travel-related expenses at this time when so much has changed due to COVID-19, but in reviewing costs to travel with golf clubs, the added cost will vary from airline to airline, depending upon their included and extra baggage fees. It could range from US $35, INR 2595, to US $150, INR 11122, per bag or more.

Adding the cost of greens fees, cart, taxes, tips, and beverages can easily be as much as US $1000, INR INR 74139 for two players at an upscale course, and 30% this amount at a modestly priced course. If we were golfers, hauling our bags with us, we’d feel committed to playing at each new location, spending thousands more each year.

We were tempted to try either of these buffets offered at the Kahili Golf Course. But, as usual, buffets in the US seem to offer less acceptable options for my way of eating.

No, doubt, for an avid golfer with ample funds allocated for the sport, golfing throughout the world would be quite an adventurous and fun experience, especially if done so as a couple, avoiding the necessity of finding others to play with at each location, who may not suit your level of play.

As mentioned in the above-posted link for today’s photos, we both were literally addicted to playing Wii Golf in our old lives, eventually resulting in what our family doctor referred to as “Wiinjuries,” injured incurred due to excessive play of the very fun video game, played on a flat-screen TV. Of course, this was nothing like playing “real” golf but certainly was fun until we both had to quit due to shoulder injuries acquired from playing this “small” version of golf.

Although there was a road sign warning of “crossing by the Nene birds (Hawaiian geese), only these Cattle Egrets ran back and forth across the road.

For those interested in traveling with their golf clubs, here are some tips from the PGA’s website here:

  • Try to get a non-stop flight, if possible. The fewer times baggage handlers need to move your clubs from plane to plane in a short amount of time, the better.
  • Get a durable, well-made travel bag. Hardshell bags are more expensive and the best will run around $250. But Schmidt said they’ll give you more protection if you want that peace of mind.
  • If you use a soft-sided bag, don’t forget to pack a golf club protection device. It looks like an adjustable aluminum crutch that’s taller than your driver and keeps your shafts from being damaged in case the bag is dropped upside down.
  • Don’t forget that golf bags are considered “oversized check-in”. If you don’t know where to find check-in or pick up at a particular airport, Schmidt said make sure you ask someone as soon as you get there. And if you’re unsure about the cost or weight allowance, check with the airline or your travel agent. Be aware that some airports will send your golf bag through the regular baggage belt (with all of the other luggage) but others (such as Atlanta Hartsfield) will leave at a different location for oversized bags.
  • Add some personal ID marking to your bag. Miller said adding some bright-colored string or a pom-pom will help you identify it quickly. Many bags have places for business cards as well. Don’t forget to include your cell phone number. If possible, include the name of the hotel where you’re staying.
This lush greenery outlined the entrance to the golf tunnel. What a beautiful way to mask an otherwise less appealing entrance and exit!

PGA.COM COURSE FINDER: Locate a course near you by distance, price, or type

  • Don’t wind up with more luggage than you need. “Never travel with more bags than you can manage alone,” Miller said.
  • Think about a cab or car service (or ride to the airport). Drops you off closer to the gate than parking, which means a long haul at times with a large bag to roll.
  • Pack your clubs so they won’t move around in the travel bag. “If you’re going to Scotland or Ireland, it’s easy because you’re going to be throwing extra sweaters or a windbreaker in there to give it extra protection,” Schmidt said.
  • Tip: Use your travel bag for additional storage. “You can put gifts and other things you’re bringing back home in that golf bag,” Schmidt said.
  • Don’t leave your expensive electronics in your golf bag. Rangefinder? GPS? Treat it just like your computer – carry it on with you.
  • If you’re still leery of putting your equipment on a plane, do use a shipping service. “It’s not necessarily the most affordable way to transport them,” Schmidt said. “But if you want the peace of mind, they do a good job with that.”
    As we ended our visit to the golf course, one more panoramic view was in order.

Well, at this point in lockdown, 245 days later, simply walking through or dining at a golf course would be delightful. Even, if we could play Wii now, that would also be a good way to spend time in this hotel room.

At the moment, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Viking football game on his laptop. I didn’t care to see it since I accidentally stumbled (no pun intended) across the outcome.

Otherwise, all is fine. Another day…

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2019:

One year ago on this date, I’d forgotten to take photos while visiting family in Minnesota. Instead, I posted this photo from this same date in Maui in 2014 which we’ve highlighted above. For the story from one year ago, please click here.

Day #243 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…New but vague information for India travelers!…How much are we spending to live in this hotel?…

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. See more photos from this scene below.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2018 while living in a bush home in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

Tom stays up much later than I. Usually, by 11:00 pm, I settle into my comfy spot on my left side and am making ZZZZs while Tom is fast and furiously clicking away on his laptop, reading news, Facebook, and Ancestry.com. Often, in the morning, I’ll have an email message about a topic he knows I’d like to read the next day.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-gray shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white-collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward-curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

This morning, from Tom, I opened this article from this site, figuring it would be of interest to me, to us. Upon seeing the topic in the headline, I see why he sent it.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The article states:

“India is predicting a return to pre-COVID passenger levels by the end of the year or early 2021. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri noted the impressive recovery of the domestic market and said he expects huge growth in the Indian aviation industry. India recently hit a post-COVID passenger record during Diwali.

Full recovery

At a press conference covered by Business Insider, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he expects air travel to make a full recovery by 31st December or early January 2021. This would mean reaching pre-pandemic levels across the board, a significant feat just months after flights resumed.

He added that domestic flights have now reached 70% capacity and there are talks about increasing the cap to 80% sometime soon. India currently has both capacity and fare caps for domestic flights. Passenger numbers have grown exponentially since May, rising from 30,000 daily travelers to over 225,000 during Diwali last week.

While domestic flights might be recovering, international flights remain considerably lower than pre-COVID levels. This is primarily due to border closures globally and India’s ban on scheduled international flights, limiting the total number of flights. Until a vaccine finds widespread use, India’s recovery will remain restricted to the domestic market.

Currently, only Air India operates flights to the US from India. However, more Indian airlines could be joining the route in the coming years.

For now, India can expect a significant domestic recovery in the coming months. International flights could take a while before recovering. However, news of a successful vaccine has many hopeful of a larger aviation recovery next year.”

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

There is nothing in this article that gives us any new hope or newly formed expectations as to when international flights will resume in India, other than those we mentioned in yesterday’s post here. Yes, there are flights to the US from India, which have been available for many months, but after 1,000,000 new cases of COVID-19 in less than a week, we see no benefit in heading to the US now or anytime soon.

If we have to be stuck inside, I’d rather stay put here for roughly 40% lower cost than staying in a holiday home or hotel in the US, where they are much more expensive than most other countries. If we were able to find an affordable holiday home, then we’d have to add a car, groceries, and US health insurance, upwards of several thousand dollars per month more than what we’re paying now.

Mom and young giraffe.

At this point, we’re spending approximately US $130, INR 9641 per night with meals, staying in a nice hotel close to the airport. Although we have encountered some annoying minor issues, overall, it’s been a very good experience and definitely, as safe as possible.

With more and more lockdowns resuming in the US based on these latest numbers, it makes no sense for us to trade this situation for another. None, whatsoever.

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

And so, we remain, tentatively hopeful while currently in an even emotional holding pattern, knowing full-well, someday we’ll get out of here.

Have a good weekend, wherever you may be.

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

We stayed with dear friends, Karen and Rich when we visited Minnesota last year. The four of us were ready for dinner at the fabulous Gianni’s Steakhouse in Wayzata Minnesota. For more photos, please click here.

Day #242 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Where else could we go?…Favorite Costa Rica photos…

View of Atenas from our veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2017 while living in a gorgeous home in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more details, please click here.

While reviewing photos from past posts on this date, I stopped looking when I found these from 2017 while we spent four months at the luxurious villa, La Perla, in the sleepy little town of Atenas, Costa Rica. The still-active listing for this fabulous holiday home may be found here.

This is a Rufous-naped Wren sitting atop the African Tulip Tree, captured from the veranda.

Recently, we contacted our friends, the owners, Bev and Sam out of sheer curiosity. Could we return to this property for 90 days to wait while more borders opened up, allowing us to continue on our travels thereafter? Surely, it would be a much better situation than we’re in now!

Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to commit to a property at this point when we have no idea when we’d be able to fly out of India when international flights out of here limited to only a few locations, all of which, at this point are other locations in India and a few countries we aren’t interested in visiting. That doesn’t do us any good.

Frog visitor on the bumper of the rental car while at Supermercado Coopeatenas.

From this news story, flights that are available at this time, are as follows:

“India has entered into “bilateral air bubble agreements” with 18 countries. Under these agreements, two countries agree to operate direct passenger flights both ways in order to operate normal flights between them once things get back to normal after the pandemic.

Giant iguana at Zoo Ave.

The list of countries India has a travel bubble with is the US, the UK, Germany, France, the UAE, Maldives, Canada, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Bhutan, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Ukraine.

Traveling to Afghanistan from India can be done by Afghan nationals, Indian and foreign nationals with valid visas and passports, and the same for those traveling to India as mentioned by guidelines under the MHA. Similar criteria lie for Bahrain, Kenya, and Bhutan, Iraq, Japan, Maldives, Qatar, UK, USA, and Oman. The airline will have to finally ensure that there are no other travel restrictions for the people traveling under the particular visa permit before issuing their tickets and boarding passes.”

Stunning blooms, Pine Cone Ginger.

We could travel to Kenya but medical care there is horrific, making it unrealistic for us to return during the pandemic. We considered the Maldives but it wasn’t a good possibility due to poor medical care, only 30-day visas, and also very high prices for hotels and holiday homes, far beyond our budget.

The other countries don’t appeal to us due to political unrest, massive cases of COVID-19, poor medical care, and/or a lack of availability of the type of holiday homes we’d be interested in renting. We aren’t interested in traveling to Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Bhutan, and Bahrain.

An Owl Butterfly we spotted in the courtyard with what appears to be a large eye to scare off predators.

We have three cruises booked in and around Japan in 2022 and would prefer to wait until that time when we’ll visit various ports of call and possibly stay in a holiday home for a period of time. Hopefully, by that time, we’ll be able to cruise again and the pandemic will be under control.

Mom and calf in the neighborhood.

This is the way that it is. We wait.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2019:

While in Minnesota last year, we stayed with friends Karen and Rich when their beautiful property was listed for sale and has since sold. They are moving to a warmer climate. For more photos, please click here.