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.

Final post from Marloth Park…Surprising news on our itinerary…Some of our favorite photos…

We always had a reason to celebrate. Here is Don (Kathy and Don) and Rita (Rita and Gerhard) at Jabula celebrating our friendships.

Note: Due to the high volume of tourists in Marloth Park right now, during school holidays, the WiFi is sketchy and inconsistent. Subsequently, I am unable to make formatting corrections including spacing and adding some links. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. After all, TIA (This is Africa)!

It’s Wednesday morning, and we’re almost totally packed and ready to go. All that’s left is to pack the everyday toiletries when Tom showers soon, and we’ll close our bags. We aren’t worried about overweight baggage this time since we’re allowed two 23 kg (50 pounds) bags each, and we only have three.

We packed one of the duffle bags into another suitcase since we’ll need extra room when we go on the cruises for the dressy clothes we’ll be packing for the Queen Mary 2. Once we get to Minnesota on May 1, we can send the formal attire to our mailing service to hold for us until we need them again.

A female kudu, in a daze from oxpeckers cleaning bugs off her ears and head. For this post, please click here.

I suppose you are curious about our itinerary news, and I should get on with it. After days of research and discussion, we’ve decided to return to Marloth Park on May 24, only 62 days from today. A few factors contributed to this decision, including the difficulty we encountered in traveling to many countries at this time. We considered increased costs, fuel shortages, and overall excessive cost of living due to the ravages of each economy as a result of the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine.

I.B. (Itchy Butt) laying in the wet, muddy cement pond, attempting to ease the itching. For this post, please click here.

There is so much unrest in many countries with poor economic conditions, political unrest, poor medical care, prohibitive medical costs, and the list goes on and on. We’ve decided, for now, making Marloth Park a base from which we’ll continue to travel and embark on cruises makes all the financial sense in the world.

We never figured out what this peculiar apparition that appeared on the night cam could possibly be. For that post, please click here.

Yes, we’ll have visa issues, but we know how to deal with these issues. We can travel to other countries in Africa for short stay safaris and expeditions and then return with a new 90-day visa stamp. Once back here in May, we won’t have to leave until August for a visa stamp. We can either fly to a non-bordering country or start a new visa extension. The new stamp will be good until November when we’re planning to leave anyway.

Our friend Frank, of Frank and The Misses francolins, had a self-tour of our house, including the kitchen. For that post, please click here.

In November, we’ll make our way to  Athens, Greece, for three back-to-back Azamara cruises for a total of 42 days, which brings us to Cape Town, South Africa, when we’ll make our way back to Marloth Park and begin the cruising booking process all over again, as new cruises are posted. These new cruises will take us to many new countries we’ve never visited in the past.

This was the third photo I got of the leopard, hoping for a  better shot, the best of which is the main photo. For that post, please click here.

We realize that spending one or two days on a ship excursion is not the same as living in a country for a few months as we’ve done in the past. But, our travels are an ever-changing adventure, and we have to do what feels right to us. In between adventures, we’ll enjoy our lives to the utmost in our favorite secluded place in the world. Undoubtedly, South Africa has its issues but is tucked away in the bush; we feel far removed from many issues. For now, this plan is precisely befitting our needs.

When thick-tailed bushbabies are around, the usual small bushbabies run for cover. The larger species will kill the little ones. For this post, please click here.

We have lots of wonderful friends here. We have a constant stream of entertainment as wildlife visits our garden. It’s only a 20-minute drive to enter Kruger National Park. We have access to excellent medical and dental care at affordable prices and insurance covering emergencies. Although smaller than Amazon, we can shop at markets that have all the food products we like to purchase and the excellent online shopping service, Takealot, although smaller than Amazon, carries most items we need to buy from time to time.

This adorable zebra was lounging in our garden. He must have spotted something interesting on the ground. For this post, please click here.

On top of it all, we will be moving into a different house when we return, as shown in photos in this post and in this post. We are excited about moving into this property when we return in May. It has everything we could want or need.

Mom, with the perfect curled tusks, whom we now call Tail-Less Mom, who lost her tail, also lost one of these babies, since then only returning with the fast-growing two piglets. For this post, please click here.

We realize and accept the reality that we may lose some of our readers from making this temporary decision. But, we hope those of you who decide to opt-out make a note of days we’ll be visiting other countries and will stop back to see our stories and photos.

The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn was taking a photo of Sindee and the serving table, a short time later filled with great food. For this post, please click here.

For now, the next two months will be exciting for us:

  • 15 nights in Apollo Beach, Florida
  • 13 nights on a transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Silhouette to Southampton, UK
  • 3 nights in Southampton, sightseeing
  • 7 nights on transatlantic return cruise on Queen Mary 2 to New York
  • 14 nights in Minnesota visiting family and friends
  • 7 nights in Henderson, Nevada, visiting family and friends
  • Return to Marloth Park
It was Rita’s birthday and she and Gerhard took all of us on a bush dinner and night game drive. For this post including great wildlife photos, please click here.
Louise and Danie hosted the best possible birthday gift for me, a visit to an in-the-wild elephant interaction. For this post, please click here.

The above number of nights doesn’t account for the 62 days we’ll be gone, but the long travel days to and from Africa make up the difference. There are many time zone changes in this period that, hopefully, we’ll adapt to with ease.

Today may be the last time we see Little since we’re moving to another house a few km from here. Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll find us once again. Little was thrilled we’d returned from Zambia in October 2021 when he stopped by at his usual 4:00 pm. Immediately, he positioned himself on the right side of the veranda, near where I sit, waiting for his treats and words of affection (from me only). For this post, please click here.

So there it is folks, Next time we write to you, most likely it will be from Apollo Beach, Florida, unless we have time on one of our layovers for a quick update.

Be well. Be happy. Live life to the fullest.

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2021:

A male bushbuck with a plant growing from his muddy hoof after a big storm. It made us laugh out loud. For more, please click here.

Four days and counting…Busy packing the house…

Look how swollen Big Daddy’s neck signifies he’s ready to mate. Amazing!!!

The only time since we began traveling in 2012 that we stayed in one property for over a year was here in Marloth Park when I had heart surgery, and we didn’t leave for 15 months, the final three of which I spent recovering to become well enough to travel.

Now, during times of the pandemic, we will have lived here for 14 months due to many travel restrictions in force all over the world. We would have left sooner had it been a little easier to travel. In the past 14 months, we left, once to Zambia for a week and another time to the US for a  month.

On another occasion, we’d booked an exciting trip to Kenya, which was canceled due to Covid-19. Is it any wonder we were hesitant to book anything when we’d already lost so much money due to the pandemic in the past two years? In many cases, we got most of the money back, but it required hours and hours of phone calls, documentation,  and applying pressure to the providers to give us a refund.

We became weary of all of these issues. We’re facing another possible cancellation on the cruise scheduled to travel to Ukraine. We’ve decided we won’t accept the Black Sea price to swap out for the Greek Islands. We’ve done that route in the past, and we’re not willing to pay twice as much as other such cruises are charging right now.

What a handsome animal!!!

We’ve been watching opinions from other passengers on that cruise via cruisecritic.com. They feel like us. They want their money back. If we apply for the refund now, we will get 100% of what we paid, applied to a future cruise which must be used by the end of 2022 or one year from the original cruise date, whichever is later. That may not work for us. We’d be happy to have them apply the funds to the other cruises we have booked with Azamara.

However, if enough passengers cancel, the cruise line will cancel the cruise. According to Azamara’s cancellation policy, if they cancel a cruise, we’d get 125% of the cost of the cruise as a future credit since it’s only a 600 passenger cruise with most likely only 500 passengers that would account for approximately 250 cabins.

Thus, instead of canceling now, we will wait a few weeks and see if the cruise line cancels. We’ll receive a 100% credit for everything we’ve already paid in advance to Costco Travel in the worst case. Whew!

As for the packing, after living in this house for so long, the packing is more complicated than usual. Since we are returning before too long, we are leaving the non-perishable kitchen items in a big tote. Also, we’re leaving some clothing that we won’t need on the cruises or in the US to lighten the load.

I fed him an entire bag of whole large carrots. He inhaled them in seconds. He was quite thrilled with the treat.

We are allowed two 23 kg (50 pounds) bags each. We will each bring our largest bag, the yellow supply bag, one duffle bag along with two carry-on bags for me, and the computer bag for Tom. We’ll have to pay baggage fees on the US flights (one to Minneapolis and the other to Las Vegas). There’s nothing we can do about that.

After all, we’ll be sailing on two very distinct cruises in the next six weeks, and we’ll need different clothes for each, although some everyday items will work for both voyages.

That’s it for today, folks. Enjoy your weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2021:

This is a monitor lizard that Tom spotted while driving. It happened so quickly I had to take the photo through the windshield. For more photos, please click here.

An apology for our readers…Newly posted photos from elephant encounter…

At Kwa Madwala, guests can opt for safaris on horseback.

It was almost two years ago that our hotel lockdown began in India. It’s been over 13 months since we arrived in Marloth Park. Overall, we’ve only been to these two places, other than a week-long visa-stamp trip to Zambia in April and then a one-month visit to the US in July. We’ve been contrary to our self-imposed nomenclature as “world travelers” since we began this years-long journey in 2012.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve enjoyed every moment in Marloth Park with our human and animal friends, of which there have been countless opportunities. But we are ready to move on. Our wanderlust has taken over! We’re chomping at the bit to get back “into the world.”

The pool from the veranda at Kwa Madwala is soon to be renovated and re-opening within a year.

We don’t mind staying put for extended periods, which accounts for the many times we’ve stayed two, three, and even four months in one location. Doing so has allowed us to learn about each country, its people, culture, nature, and fascinating points of interest.

Sure, we could have done more while we were here. We could have gone on road trips and stayed at various safari camps. But, it’s been hard to motivate ourselves to travel to see precisely what we can see here in our backyard and on a short drive to enter Kruger National Park.

The beautiful male elephant tossed his trunk back for the guide to place pellets inside.

Plus, with so many cruises booked, we needed to watch our spending. It’s only due to the low cost of living for us in the bush that we’ve been able to select a few more expensive cruises than we would have by living here than in other countries. where the cost of living is so much higher. In reality, our lowest cost of living has been in South Africa in partial years: 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021, and now in 2022.

In total, we’ve spent 32 months living in Marloth Park in the past nine years and hope to be back, if all goes well, returning next December, just before Tom’s birthday, the 23rd, and Christmas. We won’t be staying so long when we return, leaving no longer than six months after we arrive, requiring another visa extension, or a short trip away for a visa stamp.

Nonetheless, I should get to the point of our heading; an apology to our readers…

The property manager was familiar with the elephants allowing him to do a pull-out. Wow!

We are sorry for the redundancy of our posts, especially over the past two years since the onset of the pandemic, and now the endless stream of animal photos of wildlife we’ve surely posted time and time again. You’ve seen me walking in the corridors in India during the ten tedious months of repeated photos from past experiences. Now it is one or multiple bushbucks, one or multiple pigs, one or numerous kudus, and one band of mongooses after another.

We posted numerous photos from our night trail cam, most often of genets and porcupines and many elephants from the river, Kruger National Park, and our recent elephant experience on my birthday. Frank and The Misses and other francolin pairs have graced these pages repeatedly. Recently wildebeests Hal and Broken Horn have been shown and mentioned over and over again.

The veranda where we had brunch last Sunday at Kwa Madwala.

Occasional bush babies, hornbills, go-away birds, and other small creatures have been highlighted on countless posts. On top of all of that, we’ve prepared innumerable posts about Covid-19, lions in Marloth Park, cruises, and now, challenges in traveling due to the horrific war in Ukraine.

Don’t think for one minute that we haven’t been aware of the repetition, the redundancy of various topics and photos, ad nauseam. I justify the repetition because the concept of writing a new story 365 days a year is a daunting task. If someone had presented such a task for me to accomplish daily, I would have run the other way.

The sign for the property as we left after the beautiful experience.

But doing so has been of my own volition, and we’ve continued to do so with love and caring for our surroundings and our fine audience, who miraculously have stayed with us while it continued to grow over the years. For this, we are very grateful. Thank you, dear readers, for your commitment to reading our posts year after year. You amaze me! My attention span is not quite as good as yours!

Hopefully, soon as we reach out to the world before us, our stories and photos will be more exciting and varied. That’s our intention.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2021:

This photo was taken from the car window when we drove along the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Horrific war in Kyiv, Ukraine…Our upcoming cruise in June to Ukraine…

Our upcoming June 29 Azamara cruise to Ukraine’s scheduled itinerary raises significant concerns.

Our first concern is for the people of Ukraine and their families and friends throughout the world, who are impacted by this cruel and senseless attack on the citizens of Kiev, also known as Kyiv. From now on, I will refer to the city under attack as Kyiv since many may not be aware of this alternate spelling.

My great grandfather was the mayor of Kyiv in the late 1800s. Many of my ancestors immigrated from Kyiv in the early 1900s, which I was well aware of in my childhood. Tom has conducted considerable research in Ancestry.com and has confirmed the lineage as far back as Ancestry.com records display.

Of course, our concern for the people of Kyiv and Ukraine, in general, supersedes our interest in sailing on this itinerary in June. In no way do I minimize the importance of the safety of human lives over the prospect of a cruise for our pleasure. There’s no comparison. From that viewpoint, I proceed with this post discussing the travel relevance to this awful situation.

This morning, as I began typing this post, we received an email message from Azamara that reads as follows:

Brand

February 24, 2021

Dear Azamara Guest,

We have been monitoring the situation between Ukraine and Russia for the past several weeks. Based on the latest overnight developments, we have found it necessary to change our current voyages to visit either of these countries. As a result, your Black Sea Voyage, which is scheduled to depart on June 29, 2022, on Azamara Onward®, is one of the voyages we will be adjusting to remove Ukraine and/or Russia as a port of call.

We need a little time to ensure the changes we make still result in a memorable, deeply immersive cruise vacation, so we just wanted to inform you that these changes will be shared with you soon.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and thank you for your cooperation throughout our journey as we have worked to manage this fluid situation. We assure you that your upcoming Azamara vacation will deliver the highest standards of service and quality for which we are known.

Should you have any questions, please contact your Travel Advisor for more details or visit https://www.azamara.com/contact-us for your local Azamara call center number.

We look forward to welcoming you on board.

Sincerely,

AZAMARA®

For years, Tom always talked about sailing the Black Sea. I often hesitated to consider this possibility based on the outrageous cost of cruises to this magical area. When we first started traveling, we decided we both must be enthused about any future travel plans to make the bookings.

Recently, when we started booking cruises again, I knew we’d better fulfill Tom’s dream of the Black Sea after seeing how the pandemic impacted the world of travel to such a degree. As we age, we need to consider fulfilling the dreams of where we’d like to visit. No doubt, at some point, we’ll have to stop traveling.

Finally, a few months ago, we booked the Black Sea cruise on Azamara. As of yesterday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated the war against Ukraine, we wondered if yet another venue we’ve booked would be canceled. After all, countless plans we’ve made in the past few years have been canceled by the provider, or we had canceled due to concerns over Covid-19 when we weren’t vaccinated.

Based on the above letter, it will be interesting to see what alternatives Azamara makes for the above itinerary. Since we’ve sailed on 27 cruises since the onset of our travels over the past nine years ago, and we have several other cruises booked into 2023, there may be some redundancy.

Surely, if that’s the case, Azamara will give us an option for a full refund or a future cruise. Then, we could transfer the funds we already paid for the cruise mentioned above of US $9862, ZAR 150773, over to one of the other upcoming Azamara cruises we have booked into the future.

Once we sail on the Celebrity Cruise on April 8, the remaining six cruises are on Azamara, on which we’ve never sailed. Why did we book so many cruises on an unfamiliar cruise line? Their itineraries matched where we wanted to travel, their ships are much smaller at around 600 passengers instead of 3000, and the reviews were fantastic.

Sure, Azamara may not have many amenities that many cruisers insist upon, but we are less picky. We are content if we have a clean, well-appointed cabin, working WiFi, and a chef who will cook meat and veg for me. Tom is easy to please with food selections. Plus, we hear Azamara is superior in all these areas and more.

We continue with prayers for the people of Ukraine and their loved ones and hope this massacre will end quickly. But nothing Putin can do going forward will ease the sorrow and fear being felt by the Ukrainian people, now or in the future.

Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2021:

No doubt, giraffes like to get a load off their feet from time to time. Giraffes are the tallest land animals. “Female giraffes are up to 4.2 meters, 14 feet tall, and weigh up to 680 kg, 1,500 pounds. Meanwhile, males are up to 5.5 meters, 18 feet tall, and can weigh 1361 kg, 3,000 pounds.” For more photos, please click here.

Finally booked our flights and rental car for the USA in 32 days…Sailing across the sea in 48 days…

Big Daddy comes right up to the veranda to let us know he has arrived!

After spending the past 13 months in Marloth Park and the prior ten months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, we are ready to be on the move once again. Don’t get me wrong. We have enjoyed Marloth Park as much as ever, if not more than all of our prior visits to the bush. But, after feeling a little confined, we are ready to return to our lives of world travel.

I must admit we have procrastinated booking our flight and rental car, waiting to see if the upcoming transatlantic cruise on the Celebrity Silhouette would be canceled. Flights are booking up quickly, and we don’t want to lose the opportunity for the flights with the shortest duration. We can no longer wait.

Lots of girls and young ones in the garden.

It wasn’t easy finding a fair price. Car rentals are extremely high in the US, as much as seven times more than what we’ve been paying in South Africa. This time we got the best price we’ve seen in years in the US using the link on the right side of our home page with Auto Europe. We ended with a four-door Buick at US $688, ZAR 10400, a price we were thrilled to get for the 15-day rental, averaging at US $46, ZAR 695.

If you use this link on our site on the right side of the page, we receive a small commission. But you may get the benefit of a great price you may discover after shopping around online. Our goal is always to have our advertisers offer prices as good as you can get on your own and, on occasion, even better. Using our links makes us a little revenue that helps offset some of the cost of maintaining our site. Thank you to all of our readers who’ve been using our links.

Seigfried and Roy sharing pellets.

We booked the flight using our link for Expedia after shopping around for the best possible flight and pricing. Many flight apps don’t allow including the flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to be included in the package of flights. If it’s not included, we’d have to collect our bags in Johannesburg and check in a second time.

As it turned out, our flight on March 23 is a total of 27 hours, arriving in Tampa on March 24 at 1:55 pm, 1355 hrs. We’ll collect our bags and head to the Avis counter to get the car and then be on our way to newlywed friends Karen and Rich’s fabulous home in Apollo Beach, where we’ll stay until we leave for Fort Lauderdale on April 8 to board our cruise.

It will be wonderful to spend the two weeks with our friends. The four of us have great memories and so much in common. We are looking forward to being with them both.

A monitor lizard was scurrying off into the tall grass.

This morning I’ve been busy walking while stopping intermittently while we booked the flights and car. Louise loaned us some large totes to store items we would leave behind. Now we can relax for a while, having this out of the way. Soon, I’ll begin sorting and packing for the upcoming journey. After all, we will be back in Marloth Park in December, after arriving in Cape Town by cruise.

As mentioned earlier, we haven’t booked any holiday homes or hotels for the almost two months we’ll spend in the UK awaiting our next flight to Istanbul at the end of June. We won’t feel safe committing to holiday homes when the cruise could still be canceled last-minute, and we’ll have to make alternate plans as to how and where we’ll spend the time from April through June. We aren’t concerned about that now. It will all work out.

Today is a quiet day, spending lots of time with our furry friends who have been coming in droves all since early this morning. Now that I’m just about done with today’s post, almost completed today’s walking goal, and have most of tonight’s dinner for the braai ready to go, the remainder of the day will be easy and pleasant.

We hope your day is as easy and pleasant as ours.

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2021:

Tiny’s best begging pose for more pellets. We haven’t seen him since we returned from the US at the end of July. We continue to call for him. For more photos, please click here.