Aren’t we “The Traveling Lymans?”…Yes! We still are!!!…Photos from five years ago today…

At lunch today, one of the chefs was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook in the delicious offerings! It was a fantastic lunch! See the post here.

Every weekday Tom sends an article to the podcast Garage Logic, and they always mention Tom’s name. Joy Soucheray, the show’s main host, always refers to us as “The Traveling Lymans” with the link to our site. Tom has been sending in an article entitled, On This Date in Minnesota History,” which they share with their audience daily. Note; We were guests on the podcast on May 7, 2022. Please click here for the show.

One of their listeners recently wrote to the show and said, “The Lymans aren’t traveling. They’ve been in that one place (in Africa) for a long time.”

Joe chuckled and suggested they look at our site. We may have been staying in Africa for some time, but we have traveled worldwide. Thanks, Joe, for clarifying this with your listener.

It’s heartwarming to see how close they hang to one another. See the post here.

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Yes, we have “stayed put” quite a bit over the past two years since we arrived here in January 2021, after ten months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, due to the pandemic, when Tom first began sending Joe the article five days a week.

If we look back over the past two years, we have traveled, just not as much as usual, mainly due to conditions worldwide which impacted our travel plans on several occasions. Here’s what we’d planned, many of which were changed or canceled beyond our control due to Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, and other reasons:

2020: Canceled cruise by the cruise line due to Covid-19, for 28 nights from Mumbai to London via the Suez Canal and the Meditteranean.

2020: Canceled by cruise line; 22-night cruise from Lisbon to Capetown along the west coast of Africa. We rebooked the cruise for 2021, but the cruise line changed the number of days and the itinerary and eventually canceled that cruise.

2021: Ten days before our departure for an extensive tour of Kenya, their borders were closed, and we had to cancel all of our plans, struggling to get our money back, which we eventually recovered.

Macaroni Penguins in Stromness, South Georgia, are known for the pasta-like plumage atop their heads. See the post here.

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2021: Left for the US since we couldn’t get a Covid-19 vaccination in South Africa, which was only offered to citizens at the time.

2021: Traveled to Zambia and Botswana for a visa stamp and more safaris

2022: Canceled booked plans to attend friends Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida but canceled due to an increase of Omicron in South Africa with concerns over us infecting them and wedding guests

2022: Traveled to Florida to embark on a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton but got Covid-19; during the last two days of the cruise, required we quarantine on the ship and then again while we stayed in Southampton.

2022: Canceled cruise from Southampton to New York due to still testing positive for Covid-19.

2022: Once we tested negative, we booked a driver for a two-hour road trip from Southampton to Gatwick to board a new flight to Reykjavik, then on to Minnesota.

2022: Two cruise itineraries were significantly changed, which were scheduled to sail to the Black Sea, Russia, and Ukraine when the war broke out. We canceled the cruises when the cruise line didn’t lower their prices for the new, less costly itineraries to locations we’d already traveled to on past cruises.

2022: Traveled to Zambia and Botswana for a visa stamp and more safaris

2022: We had to cancel three back-to-back cruises booked for 42 nights, which due to new Covid restrictions, required applying for visas for some of the countries on the itinerary. These visa applications would require us to send our passports to the appropriate embassies, leaving us in South Africa for over a month without our passports in hand. This was too risky in light of unforeseen events that may require us to leave South Africa in a hurry. Also, many venues in South Africa require us to show our passports. What if a war broke out here, and we couldn’t leave?

2022: Three cruises scheduled for 2022 were canceled by the cruise lines due to Covid-19, sailing for 14 nights from Singapore with multiple Asia ports of call, ending up in Tokyo. We were scheduled to stay in Japan for two weeks to tour the country, followed by two more cruises; a 14-night cruise circumnavigating Japan (canceled by the cruise line due to Covid-19), scheduled for a stop on the east coast of Russia) and a 12-night cruise from Japan to Vancouver.

2022: We missed our booked cruise to Seychelles due to the failure of the Seychelles government to approve our entry applications in time to board the plane, in part our fault for not applying earlier and, in part theirs. We had 24 hours to leave South Africa due to our visas expiring. We missed the expensive cruise and lost our money.

2022: We flew to the US, our luggage was lost in Joburg, and we arrived in Minneapolis in snowy weather with no clothes, shoes, jackets, and only the clothes on our backs. Had to go shopping after no sleep during the 53-hour travel period.

2022: In December, we flew back to South Africa to our holiday home, knowing our newly stamped 90-day visas would run out on March 9. We had no interest in traveling back to the US or another distant country to acquire a new stamp. Currently working with a law firm in Cape Town, applying for a new 90-day extension which will end in June.

2023: In June, 4½ months from now, we are leaving South Africa for over a year to travel to the US to apply for new driver’s licenses in Nevada and visit family in Nevada and Minnesota. From there, we are traveling to South America for several exciting adventures.

The landscape is littered with remnants of the whaling history in the area. See the post here.

Commenters may say, “You aren’t “The Traveling Lymans” anymore. But we beg to differ. We still are…in our hearts…in our minds…and in reality and practical application.

On top of all of that, we lost thousands of dollars that were beyond our control. Is it any wonder we haven’t booked much lately? Nor have we been willing to book trips and cruises far in advance. It’s been a relief to spend time in the bush while we frequently try to figure out our next move.

This is one of the disinfecting solutions we must use to clean our ship-provided rubber boots to clean off any debris that may contaminate other areas. We also use rectangular buckets with long handles and scrub brushes to scrub the boots before walking through this solution. Tom continually cleans my boots for me. See the post here.

No, we have no regrets. Sure, as one reader wrote, we could buy an RV and travel the US without these hassles or settle somewhere and learn to be content with that lifestyle. But that’s not us. As we sit here this morning, surrounded by wildlife on a slightly cooler day after a fantastic breakfast on the veranda, we are grateful with our hearts full of memorable experiences that we’ve documented and shared with all of you.

After dropping us off back at the ship, a Zodiac boat heads out to collect more passengers after the expedition ends. See the post here.

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Please enjoy today’s photos from five years ago to the day while we were in Antarctica. Life is full. Life is rich, and life continues to be an adventure.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2022:

Hal has been stopping by each day. Now, we see less of Broken Horn. Could Hal have scared him off and claimed his territory? Only time will tell. For more photos, please click here.

One last shopping trip…Why can’t we find this item?…Received all of our items from Amazon but one…

Penguin statue on the beach made of a penguin dressed in Christmas clothes and various locally inspired pins and decorations. From our post here on December 6, 2016, while living in Penguin, Tasmania, one of Tom’s favorite places in the world.

With Christmas shopping evident in every store we visited, we thought we’d better hurry and buy the one piece of luggage we needed to pack the clothing we purchased while here in Minnesota after having our bags lost from the fiasco we experienced on November 24, explained in detail in Part 1 this post and Part 2 in this post.

There was no way we’d get a big enough bag for under $100, so we headed to TJ Maxx in Bloomington, where they have quality brand-name luggage at reasonable prices. We also needed to buy a luggage tag when they are rarely included with the purchase of a bag.

We lucked out and found the perfect large suitcase in an obvious color and design that may prevent thieves from taking off with it. As I packed it, I wondered if we’d ever get this bag when we’ll arrive at Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger airport on Saturday, let alone our two missing bags from the fiasco on November 24.

This morning we packed the bag, and my carry-on bag, only leaving out clothes and shoes for tomorrow’s departure and toiletries in travel-approved sizes. This time, I packed pajamas and clean underwear in the same carry-on bag since we knew we would spend one night in the City Lodge airport hotel in Joburg to avoid driving in the dark to Marloth Park from Nelspruit on the dangerous N4 highway.

Everything we’d purchased easily fit into the suitcase and I have no doubt we’ll be within the weight limits. This time, we don’t have the portable scale to ensure that fact but based on the contents, I feel confident it will be fine.

The following day, on Saturday, we’ll fly to Nelspruit, collect the rental car at the airport and commence the 90-minute drive to Marloth Park, arriving around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. We’ll stop at Louise’s Marloth Park Info Centre to pick up the house key we left with her and then drive down the dirt road to our holiday house.

If we’re up to it, we’ll go to Jabula for dinner since we won’t have anything defrosted to make for dinner. Of course, with all the Stage 6 load shedding over the past several days, all of our meat in the freezer could have gone bad. Stage 6 is as follows:

  • 5:00 am to 9:30 am (4.5 hours)
  • 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm (4.5 hours)
  • 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm (2.5 hours)

This is a total of 11.5 hours without electricity in 24 hours. Also, there are severe issues with the reservoir based on chronic power outages. We may not have any water when arriving since our JoJo tank doesn’t pump water when the power is out for extended periods.

Oh well, TIA, “This is Africa,” and that is what we expect upon returning after two weeks away. The temperature will be tolerable at a high of 94F, 34C, and increasing in days to come. At least we have the inverter to run to the bedroom’s fan and lamp and the WiFi router. When we cook by Sunday, we can use the gas burners on the stove, lighting it with a lighter, and also use of the braai on the veranda.

We likely won’t grocery shop until next week after we access the power situation to determine what perishables will survive these long load-shedding periods.

Although two male lions were darted in Marloth Park a few weeks ago and moved to Kruger National Park, two females and cubs have been sighted in the park in the past few days. Warnings continue for diligence and caution when outdoors, walking to and from vehicles, and walking and biking only in daylight hours with added attention to one’s surroundings.

Juan, the snake handler we use, has issued warnings that many snakes have come out of hiding over the cooler winter months and to exercise extreme caution outdoors and indoors. Snakes often enter houses during the warm spring and summer months through open doors and thatch roofs, both of which we have.

Nonetheless, we are excited to return to the bush to see our animal and human friends and return to the lifestyle we so much cherish living in the bush.

On another note, we have been searching for thick neoprene Koozies to hold cold canned beverages and glasses. With the heat and humidity in MP. Koozies are an ideal solution to avoid cans and glasses sweating and drinks getting warm on hot and humid days and nights. The mistake we made was not ordering them from Amazon in time for delivery to our hotel.

We searched far and wide to find these neoprene thick-walled Koozies. Most likely, winter-time in Minnesota is not the best time to find these for sale.

We stopped at several stores in the past few days, hoping to find them. We couldn’t find them anywhere, and finally, we gave up trying. They do not sell thick-walled models in South Africa. We’ve searched everywhere online to no avail. And Amazon can’t send us items to South Africa due to high shipping costs and customs issues. It would take months for us to receive them. We’ll be returning to Minnesota next September and buying them at that time.

So that’s it, folks. We’ll do a short post tomorrow, and then we may not post again until Sunday since Saturday will be a hectic day. But, as always, we shall see how it goes, and if we can post sooner, we will. Often, I write the post on my phone on the plane and can complete it on the long drive back to Marloth Park. Thus, Saturday is a possibility.

We hope all of our readers/friends are enjoying preparations for the holiday season. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, December 7, 2021:

Zoom in to note the difference in size between this massive elephant and the nearby male impala. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Saving more money on future cruises…Blood on the veranda…What could that be?…

We were shocked to see the blood on the veranda, but there was no evidence of its source.

We had a busy morning. We rushed off to the doctor at 9:15 am to get a few more prescriptions. This will be my third round of antibiotics for the acute sinusitis I got when I had Covid-19 in April. The other medications I am currently on have been adjusted, lowering some doses, and adding a nebulizer treatment. I tried to avoid taking more antibiotics but this needs to go away once and for all.

Once back at the house, Zef was here cleaning and changing the linen. There was a problem with the bathroom sink over the weekend and it was tricky trying to do six nasal flushing treatments a day in the bathroom sink when we knew it wouldn’t get fixed until Monday. We didn’t tell Louise about it until this morning since we didn’t want to disturb their short holiday in Mozambique. over the weekend.

We put a large bowl in the bathroom sink and used that each time I did the nasal treatments or washed our hands, dumping the water onto the shower floor and rinsing the bowl each time. That worked. TIA. This is Africa. Stuff happens. Then again, stuff happens wherever we’ve lived in the world, including back in the USA.

When Tom stepped onto the veranda this morning, he spotted this trail of blood with no indication of its source. There are a few leaves in the center but aren’t of importance.

The extra refrigerator we use that’s on the veranda died over the weekend. We emptied everything out and moved the items to the main refrigerator in the kitchen. I’m sure while we’re gone, Louise will arrange to have the refrigerator repaired since we use it often, especially when doing a two-week grocery run or having guests.

Tom is currently on his way to Komatipoort to get my prescriptions filled so we’ll be good to go on Thursday. Fortunately, he was willing to drive up and back on his own as he’d done last Friday for the same purpose. This enabled me to work on some projects around the house; folding laundry, prepping for dinner, and writing a schedule for all of the medications which require my attention every two hours.

I contacted Louise to send the link for our next three months’ rent due at the end of this month and immediately paid that, taking one more item off of the “to-do” list. Yesterday, I set up bill pay for upcoming credit card payments due in December in the event we have poor WiFi on the ship which we’re expecting. We entirely pay off our credit card balances each month unless we’ve charged a huge amount for a pricey cruise or trip, which we’ll pay over two months.

The animal (or human, for that matter) walked along the side of the house where the blood droplets continued.

Speaking of money, Tom discovered another price drop, a Black Friday special, on Cruise Critic, for our upcoming cruise next August. He called Costco Travel that evening and we received another price reduction of US $1100, ZAR 19175…plus an additional US $1000, ZAR 17432, cabin credit which added to our existing US $300 cabin credit, ZAR 5227 for a total of US $1300, ZAR 222652, that we can use for purchases of drinks, WiFi or purchases in the shops which are always fun for me when we have unused cabin credit. The cruise lines do not refund leftover cabin credit.

Our total benefit for that one call to Costco on November 18, resulted in us saving US $2100, ZAR 36588, less the reduction on the complimentary Costco gift card, which we can’t use until we get back to the states. The last such gift card we had, we used toward the purchase of this new Lenovo Windows 11 Ideapad Flex 5 which I am very happy with. Using a Chromebook, for all we do wasn’t ideal for me but works well for Tom.

A hornbill stopping by for some birdseed we place on the bushbaby ledge.

Of course, this price reduction reduced the amount of the gift card Costco provides for booking travel with them. Originally, before all the price reductions we’ve got on this cruise with credits for canceled cruises and price drops, we only owe US $2996, ZAR 52161 as compared to our original price for that cruise US $16275, ZAR 2834406.

It’s imperative that we stay on top of all of these posted price reductions. The cruise seller/agents don’t watch for the price drops on cruises. It’s up to us to keep an eye out and then ask for the benefit of the reductions and perks.

Earl stopped by last night for some pellets on the bench which he prefers to eating off of the ground.

This upcoming cruise in Seychelles didn’t offer any price reductions or perks. Once we set sail or at the end of the cruise, we’ll be posting the cruise fare and added expenses.

Today, the temperature and humidity are moderate and we’re quite comfortable which is a welcomed relief. There are many hours of load shedding but we are fine with that, as long as our inverter is working and provides WiFi, the ability to recharge our equipment, a fan in the bedroom, and the light from one lamp.

May you have a pleasant Monday! Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2021:

It was great to see this elephant from Amazing Kruger View restaurant while out to dinner with another couple the previous night. For more photos, please click here.

Where do we do laundry and hang it to dry?…What does our stove look like?…What do we use to grill meat?…

The portable clothes rack we use to hang laundry. It holds two loads, one white and one dark, which we do every three days.

A reader wrote a few days ago, asking to see photos of household items we frequently use, some similar to our old lives in the US and others not so much. Thus, I decided that from time to time, I would post a few photos of such items we deal with almost every day.

Since I was doing laundry today and the drying rack was up (Tom puts it up and takes it down each time we do laundry, so we don’t have to look at it when not in use), I thought today would be as good as any day to take a few photos and share them with our readers. Some may find this boring and unimportant.

When the new washer  on the left was installed a few months  ago, the old washer remained in its place. Recycling is tricky here for major appliances.

But, as world travelers, we’ve had to accustom ourselves to household items that may differ from what we used in our old lives. Doing laundry was at the top of our list of differences from our old lives for the following reasons:

  1. No hot water is available to the outdoor washer to keep costs down
  2. There is no clothes dryer. Without a dryer, some items end up wrinkled, which may not have been with the use of a dryer. I don’t iron, so I hang those items on hangers, smoothing the potential wrinkles with my hands.
  3. Hanging Clothes on a clothesline in Africa, may result in getting insect bites when close to the grass.
  4. Laundry pellets are less expensive here but don’t clean as well as Tide or other known brands
  5. The extreme humidity, at 82% right now, with a dew point of 72, and an overcast sky, prevents the clothes from drying for a few days. We have to bring the loaded rack indoors at night to avoid the risk of baboons tipping over the rack or taking some of the clothes, or flying away in high winds due to rainstorms.

    The clothesline in the garden which we don’t use other than for blankets and jeans. After having open-heart surgery I have difficulty raising my arms over my head. Tom hangs the heavy items.

As for the gas grill or braai, as it’s called in South Africa, they use propane tanks. Our gas grill was hooked up to the house’s gas supply in the US. Homes here in the bush have no gas piped to the house. Here are the differences:

  1. The water heater for the showers and bathroom sinks is pronounced “geezer,” spelled “geyser” in Afrikaans, a hot water storage tank with an electric heating element, to heat water for the showers and sinks.
  2. The gas for the stovetop and the gas for the braai has their own propane tanks. These tanks and their refills are included in our rent.
  3. If one of these tanks runs out, at times when we won’t contact Louise during off-hours. If we’re in the middle of cooking during “off hours,” Tom will swap out a tank from another source. Fortunately, we have a tank for the outdoor heater, and this is a good one to “borrow” until Vusi or Zef can bring us a newly filled tank. There’s nowhere to store extra tanks, and doing so may be a safety hazard.

Last week, when we were cooking Asian food for Leon and Dawn’s overnight visit, the stove ran out of gas in the middle of cooking. Fortunately, it was on a weekday during daylight hours, and within minutes after notifying Louise, Danie delivered a new tank to us and hooked it up.

The propane gas tank for the stovetop is located under the kitchen sink. The oven is electric.

As for the stovetop/oven, that’s very different from what we used in the past. As mentioned above, the stove top uses a propane tank, but the oven uses electricity. The differences are as follows:

  1. During load shedding, which has occurred daily lately, I have to plan to cook in the oven when the power is restored.
  2. When there is a non-load shedding outage, which happens pretty often, whatever I was cooking in the oven would then have to go onto the gas grill. I often do low-carb baking for us, and using the gas grill won’t work. At that point, I either have to toss what I was baking or see if I can finish it when the power is restored.
  3. Turning on the oven is more challenging than turning a dial. It requires pressing two buttons with two fingers and then turning on two dials, which took a lot of work to figure out when we first moved into this house. Louise came over and showed us how to do it. Go figure.
  4. Setting a timer for the oven is nearly impossible. After reading the instructions online, we gave up trying. Instead, we use my my Fitbit ‘s timer or the timer on my phone, for timing foods baking in the oven.
  5. Ovens’ temperatures are set in centigrade, not Fahrenheit.
The gas braai we often use to cook meat and poultry. Vusi or Zef clean it each time we use it.

I am adept at figuring out how to use household appliances, which is different from my past experiences. But, here and in many other countries, it’s more challenging than you’d think. We can often find instructions online, which are usually written in English.

After ten years of world travel, we’ve adapted to these differences, and when we are in the US, we are often in awe of how easy it is to use the conveniences we knew in the past. Nonetheless, we are grateful for what we have here.

Photo from one year ago today, November 6, 2021:

This is a new friend named Father Brown, a praying mantis. For more photos, please click here.

Today is our ten-year travel anniversary…

It was hard to believe we were there in 2013 at the Great Pyramids. See the post here.

When we received a notice from the provider that WiFi was out in the entirety of Marloth Park as of Sunday, I panicked, knowing I had to upload a short post and write a new post for today’s tenth anniversary.  There was no way I’d have time when our guests are arriving at noon today.

From our first anniversary in Kenya. I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. Look! You can see my shadow as I’m taking the photo. Too busy to edit photos right now! See the post here.

Mentioning my concern to Tom, he expressed the usual, “TIA, “This is Africa” and this is what happens here…no power, no water, no WiFi.”

Our first anniversary walking on the beach in Kenya on the Indian Ocean. Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. Actually, I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf. See the post here.

I nodded my head in acknowledgment. But I must admit I was frustrated thinking I wouldn’t be able to upload the tenth-anniversary post on the day of the anniversary, October 31. Thus, I decided to write the entire text offline on Sunday using Word and hoped that by today, I’d be able to load it into the WordPress editing section of our website.

Plumerias are often used in making leis. We spent our second anniversary in Maui, Hawaii. See the post here.

Initially, we’d planned for the anniversary post to include a new itinerary. But, after considerable research and a degree of uncertainty around what we’d like to do over the next few years, we have to forgo that thought which we’ll return to sometime in the future.

Inside the reception building, we asked a staff member to take our photo at Namale Resort & Spa in Fiji, as we celebrated our three year anniversary of traveling the world with a tour and lunch at the world renowned resort. See the post here. See the post here.

We know this…we’ll be here in Marloth Park, except for our upcoming trip to Seychelles on November 24, followed by the cruise of the islands beginning on November 26 until next June, one way or another. After the cruise, when we attempt to return to South Africa on December 4, we’ll hope to be able to receive a new 90-day visa stamp to  be able to stay.

Our ship is shown behind us off the top of the hotel on our fourth travel anniversary, See the post here.

This time, we are prepared if we aren’t allowed to re-enter the country when we get to Johannesburg. We’ll immediately book a flight back to the US and stay a few weeks visiting family in Minnesota, earlier than we’d intended.

October 31, 2017, our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. See our post here.

If we have to leave right away, even if they give us seven days to depart, we won’t bother to return to Marloth Park and, instead, leave from Joburg, arriving in Minnesota in cold weather with only summer clothes in our duffle bags. We’ll head to a discount store such as TJ Maxx and purchase jackets and a few cold-weather items to get us through the few weeks we’ll spend there.

After a few weeks, we’ll fly back to Marloth Park. By being in the US, our home country, we’ll be able to get another 90-day visa without an issue.

Saying goodbye, our final photo was taken this morning with Tom and Lois! It’s been a fabulous three weeks, we’ll always remember. It was our sixth travel anniversary. See the post here.

In any case, we’ll leave South Africa around June for our upcoming Azamara cruise on August 1, 2023, followed by another cruise a few days later, eventually returning to the US (Boston) on August 30. We have yet to decide where we’ll stay from June to August. We are still conducting research.

The New York skyline on a cloudy day, viewed from the ship on our seventh anniversary. See the post here.

It’s easy to see how so much is up in the air with the number of cruises canceled in the past few years. We hesitate to book too much since we’ve already lost a lot of money from pandemic-related cancellations.

Each morning, I listen to cruise podcasts, only to discover that some cruises require masks to be worn outside the cabin. As much as we’d like to believe the pandemic is over, it is not, based on behaviors on some cruise ships and some travel venues

Camels were walking along the beach along the Indian Ocean. During our eighth anniversary, we were in lockdown in Mumbai, India and had no new photos to share. See the post here.

We are not fearful of travel for that reason but face the pandemic’s impact on availability and pricing for ongoing journeys.

Once we leave here in June 2023, we won’t be keeping this house and will pack up entirely, leaving a few bins of kitchen items here with Louise in storage. Most likely, we won’t be returning to Marloth Park for nine months to a year, perhaps longer. We shall see.

The two of us, posted on our nine-year anniversary at Tom’s retirement party in 2012, about one week before we began our travels. See our post here.

The next country/continent visit will be South America. We still have several places we will visit, including Galapagos Islands, The Pantanal, and the Amazon River, both upper and lower regions. All of this will require cruising to some extent. We’re excited about these options.

Of course, good health is always the determining factor as to how much longer we’ll be able to travel. But for now, we’re feeling well and able to continue.

Photo of us at a cell phone store a few days ago, before our tenth travel anniversary. See the post here.

As for the past ten years, we have no regrets. Yes, we’ve experienced some ups and downs, but we’ve never questioned our decision to carry on. We’ve loved this life, its vast experiences, and the depth of the joy and love we experienced together and with the many people we’ve met along the way, let alone the vast array of wildlife and nature that have been blissfully bestowed upon us throughout the world.

We’ve considered doing a recap of each year, but that would be redundant. On many occasions, we’ve reiterated our travels, year after year, particularly when we were in lockdown in Mumbai, India for ten months in a hotel room. Instead, we’re posting some photos from prior anniversary years  and other dates from various locations including their links, which you may have already seen or not. If you have seen the photos, excuse our redundancy.

Yes, it’s been ten years, and we’ve aged in the process, but we are both grateful to be together and live this extraordinary life. Every day has tremendous meaning to us, and we joyfully continue to share it with our worldwide readers.

Thanks to many of our readers who’ve already extended our warmest wishes to us as this anniversary approached. Your kind words mean the world to us. Your continued readership and comments also mean the world to us. Ten years? Hard for us to believe. For those readers who’ve been with us since the beginning, we imagine its hard for you to believe its been ten years. Please keep reading. We’re not done yet!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2021:

Selfie of us in India in February 2020, before lockdown, excited to be on our way to the palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India. Little did we know what was ahead, at that point. For more, please click here.

Finally, Norman returned today…Streaming our favorite shows…

This is Marigold, resting comfortably in our garden. There were still uneaten pellets, but she was content to lounge rather than eat.

It’s Friday already. The week flew by in a blur. We haven’t done much since dinner at Marylin and Gary’s holiday rental on Monday evening other than research for future travels and “paperwork” and bookkeeping we needed to tackle. We’re hoping to go to Kruger National Park next week.

This annoying headache has made me not feel like doing much since we returned from our trip. On Monday, we’ll return to Doc Theo when he’ll up the dose of the medication I’m taking based on how I am feeling. There’s been no improvement yet, but I am on a low dose to see how I respond to the drug. Hopefully, a higher amount will cause the progress we’re seeking.

She’d look away from time to time when she heard a noise.

We’ll head to Jabula as we always do on Friday evenings. Although Rita and Gerhard don’t return until Monday, Lee has stayed at their holiday home while they are away. Tonight, Lee will join us at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., at the bar where we always sit until dinner, often ending up eating our meal at the bar as well. As you know, it’s an enjoyable ritual we repeat weekly.

This morning at 8:00 am, we called friends Kathy and Don, who live in Hawaii when they aren’t in Marloth Park, and had a great chat. They wanted to hear about our trip and visa situation, and we wanted to hear how they were doing. It’s always so wonderful to chat with them. Kathy and I stay in touch almost daily on WhatsApp. We are so fortunate to have such great friends all over the world.

Our boy Norman is always happy to see us and us, him.

While I was getting ready for the day, Tom popped his head into the bedroom to let me know Norman was in the garden. I couldn’t get dressed quickly enough to bolt outdoors to see his adorable face. When I called out his name while he was bent down eating pellets, his head snapped up to look at me. If a nyala could smile, Norman was smiling at me. It warmed my heart.

Hopefully, the drones will be gone after today, and all of our animal friends will return. We now have warthogs Mom and Babies who are almost fully grown. Also, bushbucks Tulip and Lilac are munching pellets in the side garden. It’s always a delight to see any of our bushbuck friends. They are so gentle and adorable.

We are always thrilled to see our favorite male bushbuck, Gordon Ramsey from the old house, whom we call Gordy.

This past week we’ve been streaming season eight of the series, The Blacklist. Wow! Has that show been exciting? Usually, after many seasons, some dramas lose their appeal when themes are repeated too frequently. But this show has ramped up to a fantastic eighth season. I looked online to see if there will be a season nine; much to our delight, it is showing in some countries.

Since we use a VPN, Express VPN (a virtual private network) set to the United States, we can watch Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services available in the US. After researching and reading some articles about the show online, it appears season nine has been streaming from different countries, including India. After resetting the VPN to show we’re watching from India, we can watch season nine now instead of waiting until it’s released in the US.

Mom Tulip, who always visits with her daughter, Lilac.

We pay an annual fee for Express VPN of about US $99, ZAR 1714, plus the monthly or annual fees for the above streaming service. This unique service blocks the location from which we’re browsing online to show we’re coming through from the city/country we designate. Plus, it provided an added layer of security and a secure tunnel between us and the internet, protecting us from online snooping, interference, and censorship.

You can use this link from Express VPN for coupons, promotions, and free trial periods. We do not benefit from your membership but are happy to share this information with our readers. When we consider how much we spent on cable TV in the US and how much less we pay now for the above-combined services, the costs are about 70% less.

Noah is getting much bigger than his mom Nina as shown on the right.

It’s pleasant that at night when we’re done spending time outdoors, we can hunker down in the bedroom and stream a few episodes of our favorite shows before we’re ready to fall asleep. The trick is staying awake while watching when either of us has been known to nod off now and then.

Have a great weekend! We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Photo from one year ago today, September 2, 2021:

Frank and his family give us so much joy every day. For more photos, please click here.

The tours have ended…Lots of photos to share…Tomorrow, our final expenses and back to Marloth Park…

The sun is setting on the horizon.

We have completed the last of our land and river adventures and are now spending our last day and night at the hotel in Livingstone. Tomorrow afternoon we fly back to Marloth Park, hopefully getting a new 90-day visa stamp and be able to relax for the next three months until we fly to Seychelles for a one-week cruise of the islands.

The upper deck of the Lion king sunset cruise boat.

This has been one of the most enjoyable times we’ve spent on a “visa run,” having planned many activities that kept us busy a part of each day. Of course, all of this costs money. But not nearly as much as we’d spend living in countries other than South Africa as our current base. By early June, we’ll be leaving South Africa for quite a while to explore other countries we’re considering.

There were only a few hippo photo ops during the cruise on the Zambezi River.

Most countries only allow us to stay for 90 days, many for less, so visa issues are always a consideration when we’d like to stay  for an extended period. The pandemic has changed everything for our world travel, but increased costs and lack of availability have made traveling freely more difficult.

Little plates were served on the boat, along with drinks. I ate the chicken leg, and Tom tried the rest.

Even this morning, when we entered the dining room for breakfast at this Marriott Hotel, we were told we had to wear masks while dining. We didn’t bring our masks after checking and discovering they weren’t required in the countries we were visiting on this trip. When we couldn’t eat breakfast without masks, and thus, we requested them from the front desk.

A crocodile is lounging on the Zambezi River bank.

Right now, we are sitting in our hotel room waiting for the cleaner to do our room since neither of us wants to wear a mask to sit in the lobby and work on today’s post. So we will sit here until the cleaner arrives and head out to the lobby wearing the masks.

There were many homes and resorts on the river.

We had a fantastic day yesterday. Chris picked us up at the resort by 11:30 am to make the drive back to Livingstone. There was much monkeying around to wrap up our exit visa for Botswana and entrance visa back into Zambia. But Chris was persistent, and eventually, we were on our way.  He dropped us at the Protea by Marriott in Livingstone, where we promptly checked in.

This appeared to be a setup for a wedding.

We were thrilled to see how warmly we were welcomed. Most of the staff remembered us from past visits and made a point of making us feel special. This is the fourth time we’ve stayed at this hotel. When we entered our room on the ground level, we were surprised by the noise coming from the room next door that was being renovated. There was a loud, ear-splitting drill that continued for a few hours.

This is a new luxury resort that will be opening soon.

We asked to be moved to another room but didn’t have time to pack up when the tour operator for the Lion King boat ride on the Zambezi River was coming to get us at 4:00 pm. The hotel manager approached me while we waited for our ride to explain they had stopped the construction work for the time we were here. That was so nice to hear and appreciated. Otherwise, we’d have been quite annoyed by this time today. Now, it’s as quiet as a mouse.

Our outdoor dining table at the Royal Livingstone Hotel at the Old Drift restaurant. We are returning tonight for another dinner.

The Lion King sunset cruise on the Zambezi River was packed. The last time we had done this cruise, we had the entire upper deck to ourselves. But, we were entertained by the antics of the other guests, mostly young tourists from Scandinavian countries, devouring the included drinks and having the time of their lives. It was actually as fun to watch them as it was to watch the scenery.

The savory, not sweet, crackers reminded us of Christmas sugar cookies. Tom ate all of them with delicious garlic butter.

We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, a few crocs on the river banks and a few gurgling hippos surfacing from time to time. But the live African music was a treat, and as always, Tom and I enjoyed ourselves whatever we may do. When the boat ride ended, a driver took us to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for our dinner reservation. Oh, my goodness, was that ever fun!

This was my side salad.
Tom enjoyed this pumpkin soup as a starter. Tomorrow, I will post a photo of Tom’s main dish. The image was too blurry to post.

It felt like a romantic date when we swooned over one another, as we often do, reveling in past experiences and hopes for the future. We laughed, we teased as we dined on the finest of gourmet foods in a fantastic atmosphere. It was dark dining outdoors, but the lighting was inviting, the seating comfortable, and the service over the top. While we sat at our outdoor table, we spotted three zebras and three warthogs wandering around the exquisite grounds of the luxury resort.

We’d had a long busy day and were content to be seated for a relaxing fine dinner.
My left eye is puffy from the headache and facial pain I’m still feeling. Maybe it’s an allergy.

Last night, we decided that the next time we come to Zambia, we’ll bite the bullet and spend a few nights at the expensive resort. The food was over-the-top, as shown in today’s photos. As planned, we’ll incorporate more food photos into our final post tomorrow when we add the final expenses. However, we still have many photos we’ve yet to share and will continue to post them in days to come.

This was an eggplant dish I ordered. The orange drops are mashed butternut squash. It was delicious, although it had small potato chunks, which I offered to Tom.

We’re returning to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for one more dinner tonight. We have lots of kwacha left that we need to spend, so what better way to spend it on than a repeat of last night’s outrageously wonderful dinner?

My prawn dish was also delicious.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. As much fun as we’ve had on this trip, we’re not dreading its end. It is delightful to return to Marloth Park for more unique experiences in the bush with our animal and human friends. We couldn’t ask for more.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 26, 2021:

Old Man wasn’t looking his best. For more photos, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your Saturday, wherever you may be.

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

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

We’re on the move…Travel day#1…Flight got canceled…

This was our limo this morning to the airport from Green Valley Ranch Resort.

We are at the United gate at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, waiting to board our new flight in a few hours. Yesterday afternoon, I got a text on my phone stating that our 7:00 am flight to Newark was canceled, and the new flight would depart at 10:28 am. We got excited about the change, which meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport three hours early, as required, by 4:00 am.

The message stated that we’d have to book different seats on the new flight. Immediately, we checked online, only to find two seats left, one a window and another a middle seat in different rows, both of which we don’t like. We both prefer aisle seats and had previously booked our seats across the aisle from one another. But, this leg of our journey is slightly less than five hours, and we can manage this situation.

Unbelievably, United doesn’t credit passengers for their previous seat purchases when flights change. We’d paid extra on the old flight for better seats but had to take the two lousy seats that were available without the possibility of a refund. Go figure. They get you coming and going, duh, literally.

This morning, another text arrived stating the flight would be departing until 10:55 am, a change that didn’t make a difference to us one way or another. We’d already arranged our ride to the airport, and it was too late to change it. We were scheduled to be picked up by the limo at 7:00 am, but then, at 6:25, I received a text from the driver that he had arrived and if we were ready to go.

The interior of the limo.

We figured we’d either be waiting in the hotel lobby or at the airport. That was fine. By 6:40, our bags were loaded, and we were in the limo on the short 12-minute drive to the airport. The cost for the limo with tip was US $100. But, with this big festival going on in Las Vegas, there were no Ubers, Lyfts, or taxis available. We had no choice but to take the limo at four times the cost of a taxi. We felt we were lucky to get a ride at all. We weren’t about to complain about that.

Little did we know the driver would arrive in a black stretch limo. Gosh, I can’t recall the last time I rode in one of those. Riding in a limo has never been important to either of us. But I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. At least I’d have something to add to today’s post when the photo ops were slim. It was a far cry from the small rental car we’ll be driving on the N4 from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport when we arrive in two days. As long as we have transportation, we don’t give it much thought.

Once we arrived at the airport, we discovered curbside check-in for United. But the rep explained that due to our international connection, we’d have to go to the ticket counter for United, using the kiosk to get our bags checked, receive our boarding passes, scan our passports and show our PCR test.

The kindly reps at the kiosk who assisted passengers were unaware that South Africa doesn’t allow entry from US passengers with only a CDC white vaccination card. When we showed them the comments on entry restrictions on their screen, which clearly stated that PCR or Antigen tests were required and CDC cards alone wouldn’t do, they were shocked. They had no idea. They said many passengers scheduled for flights for South Africa were in for a big surprise.

It was Tom who found this new requirement online. The reps were surprised we found the small print about the change in this requirement. What a nightmare that could have been.

Slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas.

Then, our bags were then whisked away to the check-in counter, where they were weighed. All four of our checked bags, none of which required payment for an international flight, were weighed and none were overweight. We had weighed all of them in our hotel room on our travel scale, which miraculously has lasted for over 9½ years.

We breezed through security and made our way to the gate, where we are still sitting with my phone plugged into the charger on the seat. By the time we get on the plane, my phone and this laptop will be 100% charged. Apparently, based on the new location of our seats on this first flight, there are no plug-ins for devices. Good grief.

With only a two-hour layover in Newark, based on the flight cancellation, we are grateful for, as opposed to the previous six-plus-hour layover, I wouldn’t have had time to do today’s post. Since we arrived at the Las Vegas airport so early, I had ample time to upload a post. There are slot machines about 20 feet from us, but we don’t play.

Tom offered to get me a cup of decaf coffee, but after waiting in line at a Starbucks, he discovered they didn’t sell decaf. That’s weird. I’ll wait and have coffee on the plane in about two hours.

Ah, dear readers, this has been one long and difficult time in the US. We saw son Greg and the three grandchildren in Minneapolis for about 20 minutes while seated in the rental car with masks on while they kept back about 10 feet from the vehicle. We never saw Richard in Las Vegas/Henderson since we were still coughing. We wonder if Covid-19 will ever go away and if the visiting family will be possible.

The next time we write will be when we arrive in Johannesburg on Monday, after the 15 hour red eye where we’ll spend part of the night at the airport hotel, trying to catch up on some sleep.

See you next time.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today. May 22. 2021:

The river is beautiful at sunset. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…The solution to our phone situation…Fabulous food!…

Rich was outside in the rain in the sideyard, preparing the chicken and ribs on the charcoal grill. He needed the umbrella.

The time has flown by. In only four days, we’re leaving for Fort Lauderdale early Friday morning and will arrive by noon, at which time we’ll check our bags, drop off the rental car at the airport, take a shuttle back to the cruise terminal and be on our way.

It’s been 29 months since we were last on a cruise when we sailed from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the same ship, the reverse transatlantic crossing we’re beginning on Friday. We had a great time then and hoped to do the same this time. We never mind a repeat of ocean crossings. They have many sea days with few ports of call, but we always have fun on sea days and when getting off the ship.

Tom hadn’t eaten baked beans in years. Along with the chicken and ribs, green beans, and salad, it was a perfect meal.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping on Amazon for odds and ends since once we return to Marloth Park, we’ll be staying there for a year, leaving from time to time for visa stamps but won’t have access to Amazon.com. For the first time in a few years, I can restock some of my favorite products which aren’t available in South Africa at the shops or on their version of Amazon, Takealot.

After considerable research and consideration, we decided to replace my almost three-year-old Google Pixel 4XL with the newer Google Pixel 6 Pro. The old phone couldn’t hold a charge for very long, and like many other smartphones, the batteries cannot easily be replaced. This, of course, motivates users to purchase a newer model. They get you coming and going, don’t they?

The new phone arrived yesterday, and in less than an hour, I had everything transferred over to the new phone, including the Google Fi phone service with my existing phone number. This was important to us since many of our financial accounts and others are set up with my phone number.

Rich didn’t put sauce on the ribs or chicken, which allowed me to enjoy them as well.

As for the temporary suspension through Google about us using too much roaming data, we solved that issue as well. We will insert a South Africa SIM card, which we already purchased for the old phone that we’ll use for data when we are out and about. When at a holiday house, hotel, restaurant, and many other locations, we can use the free WiFi on the new phone.

Having three phones between us is cumbersome, but this was our best and most cost-effective solution. We’ll seldom carry the third phone with us. For example, if we go into Kruger, we need WiFi in the event of an emergency or when using MAPS when on the road, and satellite is not effective enough for updates on road conditions, stoppages, and potential dangers.

Most South Africans use SIM cards for calling, texting, and data on their phones. Also, the third phone will be highly effective during travel days. On a day-to-day basis, we won’t need to bring it with us when out and about in Marloth Park when most local establishments have free WiFi we’ll be able to use. It was an easy solution to avoid signing up for a spendy contact from the US.

These chicken legs were the best we’d ever had, meaty and cooked to perfection. Tom, who usually only eats chicken breasts, enjoyed the legs as well. I guess I’ll be making these for once we get settled again. I won’t be cooking again until the end of May when we return to South Africa.

We will always be able to use the new phone for texts and phone calls. Texts are free inside and outside the US. Calling outside the US is typically 20 cents a minute but free inside the US for country-wide calls.

I was able to transfer all of my apps over to the new phone. The old phone will still be able to use WiFi at any accessible location but won’t receive texts and phone calls unless someone knows the phone number associated with the SIM card we’ll install. It all may sound confusing, but it’s clear to us. Few of our readers will ever need to implement such a plan, but if you do, feel free to ask for assistance if required.

Today’s photos are those we took when Rich was making his fantastic barbecue chicken and ribs. What a fine dinner we had on Saturday, followed by a delicious pot roast Karen made on Sunday. No shortage of good food around here!

Have a super day enjoying good health and peace of mind!

Photo from one year ago today, April 4, 2021:

Our boy Tiny, lounging in the garden after eating lots of pellets. As big as he is, he can consume lots of pellets. Note the cute pose. That’s our boy! We never saw him again after returning from the US at the end of July. For more photos, please click here.