Yesterday, over 12 hours without power…The security alarm woke us this morning, set up by ugly animals!…Scary looking visitor in the garden with photos…

Juan, the snake handler, informed us this is a spotted bush snake which, until we knew what it was, concerned us that it is venomous. Luckily, it is not!

A truck hit a power pole in Marloth Park, resulting in several hours without power. Then, load shedding kicked in, and we spent almost 12 hours without power. We put the metal bowl filled with ice in the fridge, so I believe all those perishables survived. But, numerous packages of meat defrosted in the freezer, and we’re wondering if we should toss them. They stayed cold but not frozen. I’m always uncertain under those conditions.

Then, there was a load of dark clothes in the washer that stopped working when the pole was hit, and we were never able to restart it. It was not worth going outside to the laundry area in the dark, so we waited until this morning. Load shedding was supposed to start again at 9:00 am, so I am busy trying to get the two loads done before we lose power again.

We ate dinner at the dining room table in the dark with the rechargeable lanterns on the table. Tom did the dishes by lantern light, after which we headed to the bedroom with the one lamp connected to the inverter outlet, allowing us to charge equipment and use the one lamp on my bedside table.

We streamed a few shows and finally headed off to sleep only to be awakened, hearts pounding, when the security alarm went off. We both jumped up and led to the glass doors to the veranda. Baboon invasion!!! They tried to get into the house by jiggling the door handles and triggering the alarm.

Tom noticed this snake climbing up this tree and chasing a rodent.

They got into everything we had on the veranda, mainly repellent products. After finding no food in any container, they were about to give up when Tom opened the doors and scared them off. I had to call the alarm company to let them know we were safe, or they’d send out a security vehicle to check on us. There’s a fee for false alarms. We reached them in time. They’d be here in five minutes if we hadn’t called.

Yesterday afternoon while I was inside the house recharging my laptop, Tom asked me to come outside to show me something. He had just taken a few photos, which he showed me on the camera. First, he heard a “plop” on the ground after the snake had fallen from one tree, trying to get to another tree to chase the rodent. Quickly the snake slithered up the tree, barely giving Tom enough time to get the camera and take the two shots he got.

How exciting! I was sorry I missed it but happy he got the photos. There are several bright green snakes here in the bush: a green mamba (highly venomous), the green tree snake (mildly venomous),  the boomslang (highly venomous), and more, as listed below from this site:

This is the third snake that visited us at a holiday home in Marloth Park. A venomous Mozambique spitting cobra at the Hornbill house in 2014, the boomslang at the Lovebird’s nest house in 2021, and now at the Ratel house, a yet-to-be-identified green snake. I sent the two photos to a local expert snake handler, Juan de Beer, and I’m waiting to hear back from him on which snake this is.

We didn’t see any point in contacting Juan to remove the snake. We weren’t in danger since the tree was less than four meters from the veranda. However, we must keep a watchful eye out in the event the snake decides to come onto the veranda or get into the house, which is a common scenario.

The veranda and the entrance to the house is at ground level with only a small step to enter the house, a step a snake could easily maneuver. Snakes commonly climb full flights of stairs. “Snakes are flexible movers with between 200 and 400 vertebrae with just as many ribs connected.”

We are watching for the snake, easy to spot with its bright green color, but we will feel better once we know what type it is…or will we feel better?

I just heard back from Juan. Yeah! It’s a spotted bush snake…. nonvenomous!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2021:

Our waiter took the family photo at Maynard’s in Excelsior, Minnesota, last year on this date. For more, please click here.

A warm and sultry day in the bush….Before we know it, winter will end…Baby zebra…

What an adorable visitor, a baby zebra!

Winter is short in South Africa. It begins on June 21 and ends on September 21. Then, the heat, humidity, and the insects return with fervor.  The mozzies come with warmer weather, rain, and moisture, while every puddle becomes a breeding ground for more.

Zebras and Lollie share pellets peacefully.

Lately, I have still been using insect repellent to keep the chiggers, sand fleas, and other minuscule winter insects from biting me. Finally, I have got it under control. I have fewer bites right now than I’ve had since we arrived almost two months ago. Every evening, while we are on the veranda, Tom sprays the bedroom and bathroom, alternating three different products daily; Doom, Peaceful Sleep, and a dust mite spray. We don’t enter the room for several hours after he sprays.

An adult zebra was walking around to the veranda edge for pellets.

We have an automatic Doom sprayer that shoots a burst every 35 minutes. This alone won’t work. It takes all the products, plus wearing Tabard roll-on repellent before bed to keep me from getting bit.  Also, I am wearing a long-sleeved cotton hoodie and long pajama bottoms to have as much skin covered as possible.

The baby hovers close to his mom.

During the day, I use Tabard on all exposed skin and repeat the application every six to eight hours, more often on my hands which I wash frequently. Itchy bites on my knuckles can keep me awake at night.  The past four or five nights, I’ve slept through the night now that we have this under control. Hopefully, these same precautions will work when the mosquitoes appear soon.

It’s always delightful to see the little ones. They are often shy and skittish.

Yes, we are exposed to several chemicals, but for now, the concern over malaria and other insect-borne diseases is the bigger concern. Our friend Jim (married to Carrie, US citizens who came here from reading our posts) ended up getting Tick Bite Fever which can become a severe illness without proper treatment. But even with appropriate treatment, he suffered dearly for a few weeks. Even during the winter months, there are risks from insects and snakes.

Today, the high will be 81F, 27C. The humidity is 61%, and there’s a cloud cover. The holidaymakers are still in the park, but the school holidays are ending this coming Sunday. The number of animals we’re seeing is considerably less than we’ll see next week. We’re looking forward to that! With as many animals as we’ve seen during the holiday, we can only anticipate many more will be coming.

Notice the little one close to his mom at the end of the splash pool.

Load shedding continues an average of three times per day for 7½ hours without power. As I write here, it has been out for two hours and should be returning soon. Sometimes, it goes back on in slightly less than two hours. I plan on doing laundry today, but I must wait until the power is restored. It’s such an inconvenience with no end in sight.

But, for us, the inconvenience of load shedding is considerably less than it is for others. We have WiFi during those periods and pay little attention to it while outside on the veranda, where we spend most of our days and evenings. Once it’s hot again, it will be tough without aircon for those 2½ hours in the bedroom at night. We have a fan we can use via the inverter during those periods, but the heat can be unbearable at night.

Zebras stop by and eat and then head out. They aren’t like many other species who will hang around to beg for more pellets.

We’ll be staying put today. This evening we’ll cook on the braai and enjoy more quality time on the veranda. Oh, the power just returned a few minutes earlier than expected. I can do the laundry and prep some of the food for tonight’s dinner. All is good. We try not to open the refrigerator when the power is out.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2021:

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For more photos, please click here.

Now, we’re having problems with the washing machine!…Load shedding damages appliances!!!..

A couple of female kudus are checking us out.

In the past few weeks, since load shedding escalated to Stage 4 and Stage 6, resulting in added hours without power and increased events per day, we noticed problems with the kitchen refrigerator, as described in yesterday’s post here, and the washing machine.

We didn’t connect the issues between the two major appliances until I tried again to get the washer to run a complete cycle. I’d often run back and forth to the laundry area outside five or six times to reset it, taking several hours for one load to wash, rinse and spin.

This is Bossy from our old bush house, 2 km from here.

This morning it dawned on me that the process we’re going through with the refrigerator of shutting off the power for 24 hours may be the same process we need to do with the washer. Once we somehow complete the must-do two loads, we’ll unplug the washer and wait a few days to plug it back in. Maybe it will also reset.

Here is an interesting article about how load shedding damaged appliances. It makes all the sense in the world. From this website:

“THE IMPACT OF LOAD SHEDDING ON ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

ECA(SA) Associate Member, Major Tech, says South Africans are adapting to continual rolling blackouts, more politely known as load shedding. But, says Major Tech’s Rhodam Evans, while everyone is cursing Eskom for being left in the dark or stuck in traffic for hours at a time, the damage caused by load shedding is far more than lost time and the macro impact on the economy.

A new LED driver.

The financial problems caused by load shedding will also impact individuals in their homes and businesses as they are faced with electrical products that seemingly stop working for no reason. This will naturally also affect suppliers and installers of electrical equipment, who will be accused of either selling poor quality products or doing an inferior installation job.

Burnt LED driver due to voltage spikes.

The reality is that, while poor quality products and bad installations can cause problems, load shedding will damage even the best electronic products on the market, eventually leaving them broken beyond repair. The reason for this is not the loss of power, but the surge of current and voltage spikes when the electricity is switched on again, says Evans.

While many think switching the power on or off is a simple task, the way load shedding works means that every time the power comes back, some technician has flipped the switch at a substation, suddenly sending a stream of around 11 000 Volts back into the circuit.

Single-phase power in the average home runs on 230 V. Therefore, when the lights come on again, all the appliances in that particular suburb suddenly get a surge and voltage spike much more potent than 230 V. This only lasts for a microsecond. Still, it is enough to damage electrical equipment, from your television to your lights.

Electronics can’t last against voltage spikes.

“Even the most well-designed equipment of the highest quality can not handle these surges. Many electrical devices are built with some form of protection against voltage spikes, but these are designed to handle surges that happen occasionally, not daily, or even multiple times daily. For example, many circuits have metal oxide varistors (MOV) to protect against occasional surges. Still, even these wear out and can’t protect the circuits after the constant spikes due to load shedding.

“Major Tech has seen lights which have actually exploded after one spike too many,” adds Evans, “as well as USB ports that are black shells of what they once were. Thankfully, these results are not common, but damage to electrical equipment is.”

Surges and voltage spikes cause damage every time, although most often, the equipment carries on working. Eventually, the equipment will fail, and it may seem illogical when considering which particular device or LED light fails or what path the current takes (it looks for the shortest path to the earth), but the damage is a given

What can be done to protect yourself?

Since electricity users in South Africa are at the mercy of Eskom and can do nothing to resolve the problem, the only solution is to take precautions and protect your electronics. These precautions cost money, but they will save money in the long term because few suppliers are willing to constantly replace devices that electrical surges have damaged. A warranty does not cover malicious damage to the system, and it does not cover surges and voltage spikes.

“Surge protectors have therefore become vital necessities in a world with load shedding,” explains Evans.

Level 3 surge protection happens at the wall sockets. These surge protectors plug into the wall socket and your equipment is then plugged into the protectors. This will protect your equipment from all surges. Level 2 protection is the ideal as this is added to the circuit board by a qualified professional to protect the whole premises.

Evans warns that surge protectors don’t last forever either and while they will protect the electronic equipment you use every day, they will also eventually need to be replaced. He also advises that there is an “enormous difference” between a surge protector and lightning protection. “A lightning strike in your vicinity can release far more power than Eskom, and a surge protector will not stand up to the pressure.”

Best remedy

“Dealing with load shedding is a challenge, and we should all take responsibility for the equipment in our houses and businesses,” concludes Evans. “Suppliers will not simply continue to replace equipment damaged by load shedding as this practice will devastate their businesses.

The best remedy is to unplug as many electrical devices as possible during load shedding and install surge protection on those that are not or cannot be unplugged.”

For more information on how to handle surges and voltage spikes, please view Dan Moyane’s interview with SAIA Insurance Technical Adviser Susan Walls about how load-shedding can cause damage to electronic devices and appliances, which has led to more frequent insurance claims https://www.enca.com/news/impact-load-shedding-appliances”

The kudus certainly enjoy jumping over the fence.

If unplugging the washer for a day doesn’t work, we may have to go back to having Zef and Vusi do our laundry. The problem with that is the fact that it takes about three days for them to be able to return the items to us. With our limited supply of clothing, three days is a long time. We are hoping we don’t have to go that route. It’s extra work for Zef and Vusi, and they are busy enough as it is.

This morning we had more wildlife visitors than we imagined possible during this school holiday period when visits are usually less frequent. But, our wildlife friends are enjoying it here, especially Lollie, our resident warthog, and now the nyala family of three who visits several times a day; Norman, Nina, and Noah.

Big Daddies are so handsome.

The nyalas aren’t big eaters; they nibble a little. But we think since nyala is so rare in Marloth Park (they are the only family), everyone feeds them. By the time they get to us, they’re full. They all jump over the little fence quite easily and seem to like the fussing we do them over. Here and there, I toss them a little cabbage and carrots. They certainly love those, as do all the antelopes.

At 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., today, we are meeting up with reader/friends Carrie and Jim at Two Trees, overlooking the Crocodile River, whom we met here about six months ago. They found Marloth Park from our site and bought a fantastic house here! It will be fun to see them again and hear about their home-buying experience. Hopefully, we’ll also see some wildlife along the river.

Nyala Norman and his son, Noah, visit twice a day. Check out Norman’s tongue.

Have a fantastic day, and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 5, 2021:

What a beautiful view and landscape in my son Greg’s back garden where we spent the 4th of July last year. For more photos, please click here.

Eye exams and costs for eyewear in South Africa…We got our boosters in the most unlikely place…

When I tossed leftover salad into the garden, the “Go-Away” birds arrived within minutes. They loved the grape tomatoes. Who knew? It was fun to watch them. The grey go-away bird feeds on leaves, flowers, fruit, buds, and the occasional small invertebrates. They are agile birds and run along tree branches when feeding. The grey go-away bird is an important seed disperser for many fruit trees. This bird will practice geophagia, eating soil, to get the nutrients lacking in its diet.

Yesterday at noon, we were both scheduled for eye exam appointments with the same optometrist in Komatipoort we’d used in 2018. I knew my prescription had changed when I’d been having trouble reading small print in the past year or so, but Tom hadn’t noticed any changes.

As it turned out, Tom’s prescription had changed in his left eye only as did mine also in the left eye. When Dr. Dawie sent me home with test contacts for the new prescription to try out, I was able to reduce the font size on my phone and my laptop. What a thrill! I won’t have to bring “cheaters” to the supermarket with me when trying to read labels for carb counts on certain products.

The sounds from the Go-Away birds sound like go-away from time to time.

With Tom’s frames getting loose, he was ready for a change on both his clear and sunglasses. He picked out another rimless “designer” frame for both new pairs, and I ordered a 12-month supply of Air Optix contact lenses. With everything so slow due to Covid and now Omicron, it could be a month or more until our new products arrive.

We were pleased with the cost of the new eyewear. The total for Tom’s two pairs of glasses in identical frames is ZAR 9026, US $589. And my year’s supply of contacts is ZAR 6432  US $419 for a total for both of us is ZAR 15458, US $1008. If I remember correctly, the last time Tom purchased glasses at Costco in the US, he paid almost twice as much, and that was nearly ten years ago.

Suddenly, there were five Go-Away birds. The grey go-away-bird (Crinifer concolor), also known as grey lourie, grey loerie, or kwêvoël, is a bold and common bird of the southern Afrotropics.

My contact lenses are a little more than I’ve paid in the past, but we were willing to pay a little more for these good rates and the convenience of getting them here. Mine won’t arrive for at least six weeks. Tom will have his sooner. It was a relief to get this done.

Next, we headed to the Spar Supermarket, where we could get the J & J vaccine boosters outside the door to the store, sponsored by Tonga Hospital in Tonga, Mpumalanga. We brought along our passports and paper vaccination cards. Louise just so happens to have a laminating machine so we can laminate the final paper copies to fit in our wallets, keeping the original paper copies for any future add-ons.

The grey go-away bird gets its common English name from its call, which sounds like the bird is telling you to go away. It is a nasal call “g’wa-ay, g’wa-ay.” This is a highly vocal bird and will call whenever it is disturbed. These birds are gregarious and move in groups of up to 20 birds. Go-away birds need to drink regularly and will flock to water sources. The grey go-away bird roosts in small groups at night. The grey go-away bird can often be seen laying on the ground with its wings and tail spread, also having dust “baths.”

There was no queue for the boosters. They processed our papers and sent us over to the nurse to get the shots. We weren’t asked to wait afterward as we’d done when we were vaccinated at the airport in Minneapolis in July. If anything went wrong, Dr. Theo’s office was down the road, no more than five minutes from there.

We went straight into the supermarket and did our shopping, entirely forgetting we’d had it done. Since we had no ill effects after the first vaccine, we didn’t give it much of a thought. By the time we paid for our groceries and loaded up the little car, an hour had passed, and both of us were fine. Our arms aren’t tender today, or are we experiencing any issues whatsoever. There was no charge for the boosters. We’re both glad this is finally out of the way.

They often tilt their heads to listen when we talk to them.

Back at the house by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, after putting everything away, I had time to upload the post and do my walking. By 4:15 pm, 1615 hrs, we were situated at the table on the veranda. As usual, Little stopped by, ate some pellets, scared away all the other pigs, and enjoyed some carrots I sent his way. He swallows them whole with his powerful jaw and teeth.

Today, I am chopping, dicing, and doing some prep work for tomorrow’s dinner party, which will be for six or eight depending on whether Danie is feeling well again. We’ll play it by ear and see how he does.

We were surprised when she stood on the veranda railing, but even more so when we jumped onto the table while we sat there.

We hope you have a pleasant day.

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

We couldn’t believe how brazen she was. She had no fear of us. “The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Thick-tailed bushbabies are three times the size of the smaller bushbabies. This is probably due to its diet and larger body size. This is the most social of all known bushbabies.” For more photos, please click here.

12 hour power outage due to a big storm…Hot today…103F, 39.3C…

This is a new friend, named Father Brown, a praying mantis.

Last night, while dining on the veranda at Jabula with Kathy and Don, we were wrapped up in lively conversation when a storm rolled in. Dawn and her staff immediately went into action to bring everyone inside, including tables and chairs, to ensure there was room inside for everyone who’d been dining outdoors.

Lightning and thunder followed during the pouring rain. They were already operating on generator power since load shedding was happening, which began at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs. By the time we got home, the power was out. The house and bedroom were probably around 90F, 32C, too hot to sleep with the hot temperatures.

Broken Horn is trying to stay in the shade while we get the pellets. It’s awfully hot for them as well.

Somehow we knew it was more than load shedding, especially when the power never returned after the usual 2½ hour outage. Luckily, we have the inverter, which can run one fan in the bedroom, charge our phones and laptops, and maintain a WiFi signal.

It’s a rarity to see the bushbucks lying down, but it’s so hot today. They are seeking comfort in the bit of shade in our garden. This is Stringy.

But, we were mainly concerned about the US $214, ZAR 3219, we’d spent on groceries yesterday. How long would everything keep fresh in the refrigerator? When it didn’t come back on by 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs, we filled the big metal bowl with ice and set it inside the fridge, which was packed with dairy products, tons of fresh vegetables, and a massive package of ground beef I’d planned to use today to make meatloaf, enough to last for a few days.

We moved the ground beef to the freezer atop a few rows of ice cube trays and hoped for the best. I struggled to stay asleep in the heat during the night when thinking about the food in the fridge, hoping we wouldn’t lose much. This morning, after  12 hours, the power returned, much to our delight.

Medium Spikey, trying to rest in the shade.

We checked the fridge and the freezer, and most of the food was still cold. The meat in the freezer hadn’t defrosted, nor had the hamburger frozen overnight. But it was cold to the touch, and I feel confident using it today. Early this morning, I put together all the ingredients for the meatloaf I’m making for tonight, to be cooked on the braai, to avoid heating the house any more than it already is. Also, I made low carb, no sugar ketchup to go along with the meatloaf.

Two bushbucks were lying in the shade in the garden.

The meat is in the fridge, ready to be cooked at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs,  along with a big salad, fresh steamed green beans, broccoli, and white rice we’ll prepare for Tom 30 minutes before everything else is done.

With the food prep out of the way, I can relax the remainder of the day, except for doing laundry and exercises. When I say relax, I mean, I’ll hide away in the bedroom with the fan on high while I get back to work on the corrections. At the rate I am going now, I should finish this tedious task in four to five days!

Meet Gordon Ramsey. He likes to dig in the dirt with his horns, looking to dig up roots to eat.

Many animals are stopping by, even in this excessive heat. Most are drinking the fresh water in the birdbath. We’ve been chilling cabbage and carrots to serve to them. At the moment, the mongooses are here, enjoying Tom’s rib bones and Kathy’s prawn shells from last night’s dinner. Broken Horn is munching on pellets and carrots. He doesn’t care for cabbage, nor do the warthogs, which enable everyone to have a little something they like without sharing too much.

These prawns with heads which Kathy doesn’t care to eat, make an excellent treat for the mongoose. This pile will soon be gone.

Right now, it’s hot and sunny, but rain is expected in a few hours. Clouds must be rolling in. The temperature is expected to drop considerably, hopefully cooling us and the wildlife a little on this hot, humid day in the bush. But, in any case, we’re good. There are always workarounds during power outages, and over the years we’ve spent in Marloth Park, we have learned to make the best of the situation, especially when we’re blissfully distracted by our wildlife and human friends.

Happy day to all.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #228. The grocery store in Savusavu, Fiji, where we shop for a few items each week. There was only one aisle with food. The other two aisles consisted of cleaning supplies, Christmas decorations, and Diwali fireworks. For more photos, please click here.

A question posed by our readers…What will we do first when we move on?…

During an uncommonly heavy rainstorm in Sumbersari, Bali, I went out to the freezer in the garage to get some ice. I saw this long black thing, referred to as an omangomang in Balinese, moving along the garage floor. I called out to Tom to come to see it. He grabbed the camera and came running. Creepy. Was that an eye looking out at us? 

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

Today’s photos are from June 15, 2016, while in Sumbersari, Bali, Indonesia. See the link here for more details.


Many of our readers who are also on lockdown in many parts of the world posed an inquiry, “What will be the first things you’ll want to do once you arrive in another country, once free of a lockdown?”
A perfect sunny day at low tide.

It is possible once we leave Mumbai, we’ll end up in quarantine for our first two weeks. This may be a self-quarantine in a holiday home or a government-approved hotel. It will be disappointing to be required to spend the first 14 or 21 days of a 60 or 90-day visa in quarantine. But, we may have no choice.

Will this requirement deter us from visiting a specific country? No, not if it’s a location we feel confident we’ll enjoy once the quarantine has ended. It’s purely a by-product of the times of coronavirus.

Suddenly, the legs came out of the long black shell, and the crustacean dragged itself along the garage floor. 

In actuality, it would concern us if a country had no safety requirements for incoming international travelers. We’re totally fine with continuing social distancing, wearing face masks, and frequent hand-washing, which we, along with the rest of the world, as a requirement for years to come.

However, the question as to what we’ll want, what we’ll do, and how we will live in the future as other world travelers may do as well, in part, is subject to a see-how-it-goes scenario. 

An ocean view while the van was moving through traffic.

After we’ve done so well living in this small single hotel room, will we be less inclined to rent smaller holiday rentals in the future? Over the years, we’ve stayed in a few properties described as “studios” for short periods to full-sized four or five-bedroom houses/villas.

From now on, I am anticipating we’ll prefer to book a full-sized freestanding house. Having space is particularly appealing at this time, more than ever in the past.

On the left is a restaurant, and on the right is a data (SIM) card store.

A pleasant view is a must. The view out of our hotel room’s windows and the corridors consists of rundown abandoned building sites, apartments, and office buildings. We don’t plan to book property of any type in a crowded downtown area in any country.

However, as mentioned above, some countries may require international visitors to stay in government-approved hotels in downtown areas during a mandatory quarantine period at their own expense. This fact won’t deter us from visiting such a country, but we’ll be anxious to have the quarantine period end, allowing us to move to a holiday home in outlying areas.

Motorbike drivers stop at the beaches along the highway for a lunch break or purchase products from roadside stands.

Necessity and desire for me will be an excellent place to walk even if it’s limited to the property’s grounds in the event lockdown status prohibits outdoor exercise. Based on what we’ve been reading thus far, few countries prohibit outdoor exercise, unlike here in India, where it is strictly forbidden at this time.

As you’ve read here numerous times, shopping for groceries and supplies is high on our list of scheduled activities. Tom and I often discuss what we’d like to eat for dinner that first night or in weeks to come. Tom is particularly excited about eating beef again, which for me was not much of a sacrifice.
A few stretches of the highway can be less busy in the nearby town of Nagara.

That’s not to say. A big juicy steak wouldn’t be appealing during that first week. Although Tom has no problem eating chicken regularly, he prefers beef and pork for most meals. Often I make pork or beef for him while I have chicken or fish. 

As time goes by, I have less and less interest in eating pork with my passion for warthogs and pigs of all types. I’d never been able to be a vegetarian with my restrictive diet, nor would I want to give up all animal protein. As we age, animal protein may be a great source of strength, muscle retention, and healing. 

Commercial building along the highway.

The feel of a breeze on our faces, the sounds of birds singing, the rustling of leaves on trees, the views of a sunrise or sunset, the smells and sounds of the ocean, a countryside scene, savoring the magnificence of wildlife. Above all, the joy of companionship and lively chatter with other humans sounds good to us.

Freedom. It’s all about freedom, which for us has been the foundation of our desire to travel the world. For now, it has been stripped away, as it has been for people from all over the world. In the future, will we experience that powerful sense of freedom we so much relished in the past? Only time will tell.

The more each of us commits to aid in reducing the spread of Covid-19, the sooner our freedom will be restored to enjoy our beautiful planet and all the treasures it has to offer.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2019:

It was thrilling to see white sandy beaches with little to no debris in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.
IMG_2494

Beautiful flowers brighten our day from Kauai, Hawaii, five years ago…Building a comfortable routine…

The birth of an Alpaca “cria” while we had a fantastic opportunity to oversee the births while the farm owners were away. Please click here for the story with many photos, including the main image, one of our favorites.
Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

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

As we look back at posts from five years ago, our current source of photos since we, like you, are stuck indoors, we can’t help but smile over the beautiful experiences we’ve had in our travels over the past 7½ years.

It’s those very photos that we’re enjoying now, while in lockdown, more than ever before. They are a reminder of not only what we’ve cherished in the past but what we can anticipate for the future with enthusiasm and hope.

 I squealed when I spotted this gorgeous Rhododendron at the Princeville Botanical Gardens from this post five years ago. 

Thanks to our readers and Facebook friends for the many loving and encouraging messages we received yesterday on Easter and each day. Many have continued to suggest solutions to our situation, but we are pretty fine, both physically and emotionally.

With the number of cases rapidly rising in India, at 9240 cases with 331 deaths, we anticipate we could be here a long time. Even if the airport reopens, with more points here, we may be forced into quarantine anywhere we’ll go in the future unless we wait it out long enough.
In a shady area, we encountered these tiny mushrooms growing on the rocks.

No one knows for sure what the future holds and if we’ll be able to continue traveling for some time to come. Our hope and plan will continue to focus on leaving India at some point soon, whether it be in a month or four months. 

In the interim, we have no option but to patiently wait it out while doing everything we can to stay engaged, educated, and informed about what transpires throughout the world, not only inside our tiny world.

With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom, a soccer ball’s size. All of us on tour was in awe of this exquisite flower.

One thing we know for sure, our lives and yours, will never be the same as it was before the virus hit. Not a single country has avoided the virus entirely, although a few have had under 10 cases. But, at this point, their peak may be on the horizon. Only time will tell.

For us, staying busy while cooped up in a hotel room has been vital to maintaining a good state of mind and good health. We don’t overeat. We don’t drink alcohol (only because it’s not available!). We keep moving. We watch funny YouTube videos, including our own.
Jackfruit is known for its health benefits.  See this link for nutritional details. This photo was posted at this link on April 13, 2015.

We’ve developed a routine we find comforting. When we may become hungry in the afternoon, we drink the instant coffee in the room, no more than two cups each (mine is decaf), as somewhat of a ritual. 

We go to breakfast each day whenever we feel like it, sometimes as early as 8:00 am and others as late as 10:00 am. Each evening at 7:00 pm sharp, we head to the dining room for dinner. We’re often the only guests since most eat lunch and don’t have dinner until as late as 10:00 pm.

The Noni Fruit, known as one of the world’s most nutrient-rich fruits.  See here for details.

But, one of the most fun and enjoyable times of the day is after dinner when we get comfy on the bed with six fluffy pillows, and we set up my laptop on a tray to stream two episodes of our favorite shows. 

Usually, the two shows end by 10:15 pm, after which we play with our phones and then drift off to sleep. Most days, my Fitbit displays that I’ve slept seven to eight hours, which is better sleep than I’ve had in years, if ever. Tom sleeps less than I do, but on occasion will nap for 20 minutes during the day.
An Anthurium, gone wild.

This type of routine has brought us a sense of comfort and security as day after day, we awaken and repeat it. As of tomorrow, we’ll have been in this hotel room for three weeks. It feels like more. 

We’ll get through it. We’ll all get through it if we stay safe… If we social distance… If we avoid going out… If we wash our hands… If we wear face masks… If we take care of ourselves and our loved ones… If… If… If…

Photo from one year ago today, April 13, 2019:

Four baby warthogs were taking a rest together. For more photos, please click here.

Closer to home than we think…A personal story…Five years ago, a little shop in Kauia, Hawaii…

We could watch and hear the church bells when we lived in Boveglio, Italy, in the summer of 2013. This particular video is viral on our YouTube page. Click here for the post on which we included this video.

As I wrote today’s post, starting with the headline, I smiled. “A personal story?” All of our stories are personal in one way or another. Today is no exception.

At times, people ask, “How do you feel comfortable revealing so much of your personal life online?”

My answer is always the same, “One of the reasons people all over the world read our posts is due to this very fact. If this were just a travel blog with photos of tourist locations, hotels, and restaurant reviews, we wouldn’t have kept the interest of readers for so many years.”

It’s the raw reality of our daily lives that inspires us to keep writing each day, that so quickly comes from the heart, enabling my fingers to fly across the keyboard with barely a moment of concentration or forethought. “Writer’s block” doesn’t dwell herein.

This is the only health food store, Healthy Hut, within a half-hour drive of our holiday home in Kauai, Hawaii. The inventory is ripe with fresh, locally grown organic produce, grass-fed meats, free-range chickens and eggs and food and health supplies one would find in a much larger location in a big city. Pricey? Yep! For the full story from five years ago today, please click here.

Yes, many of our prior posts suggested where to go and what to see in various parts of the world. We love sharing those tidbits of information with associated photos and links.

But, now, in isolation, without being “out there” sightseeing, shopping, socializing and feeling a “part of the world,” an entirely tunnel-vision-type approach has overcome me. It’s all about us and what we’re thinking, feeling and experiencing while locked down in a hotel room in Mumbai, India for an indefinite period.
Certainly, most of our readers can relate to our isolation when you, too, are literally trapped in your homes, facing the complexity of myriad problems, which include emotional, physical and financial concerns.
I was surprised to find many of the products I needed to make my recently posted recipe for Low Carb High Fat Protein Bars, my new favorite recipe. Click this link if you missed the recipe.

In many ways, it’s easier for us. Sure, I’d like to be able to cook a meal, have a glass of wine, do laundry and stay busy around the house. But, we have little responsibility other than staying active, eating two meals a day, and paying for our hotel and dinners (breakfast is included). 

Financially, this lockdown doesn’t impact us one way or another. We’d be paying rent for a holiday home, groceries, supplies and the occasional dinner out. Our hotel bill here is no more than we’d have paid for a holiday home and the dinners, not much more than we’d have paid for groceries and dining out.

But, for those of you out of work as you continue to incur household and living expenses, this dreadful time can only be worrisome and frightening, along with fears about the virus impacting your family and friends. Our hearts go out to all of you.

Of course, we worry about our family and friends, but based on frequent communication it seems everyone is hunkered down to the best of their ability, wearing masks, social distancing and frequently washing their hands.

Although our situation is not dire at this point, we aren’t exempt from worry and concern. My dear sister Susan, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada who’s been bedridden for many years with various severe medical conditions, took an awful fall a few days ago, one of many she’s experienced over the years.

Seeing pumpkins and squash reminds us of crisp, cool fall in Minnesota as I stood admiring this at a comfortable 82 degrees.

She is now a coronavirus-free hospital after hany tests that determined she has been suffering numerous small strokes, causing her to fall over the years, often incurring brain bleeds and injuries. In addition, she has COPD, congestive heart failure, and severe chronic pain syndrome. (Bad genes in my family).

For the past nine months, she has been living in a lovely assisted living facility in Las Vegas, which, to date, hasn’t had any cases of COVID-19. I spent many delightful afternoons with her when we stayed in Nevada in November 2019. 

I baked a few of her favorite desserts (from our childhood) at son Richard’s house in Henderson and brought them to her when I visited each day. We laughed and told stories while cherishing every moment together. On December 9th, when we left Nevada it was hard to say goodbye, not sure we’d ever be together again.

Based on US Medicare requirements when a patient/senior is hospitalized and still a bit unstable, they require the patient to go to the rehabilitation center before they can return to their former living arrangements.

With all the news of COVID-19 impacting rehab and nursing facilities, my dear sister is terrified of being forced to go to one of these facilities before she can return to her assisted living facility where she’s been content and comfortable.

The shelves were packed with beauty products, snacks, and treat, none of which we purchase.

My sister Julie, my niece Kely, Susan’s adult daughter, both of whom live in California, and I, have been on the phone trying to attend to her care the best way we can. No visitors are allowed in the hospital to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. She was injured during the fall and is in considerable pain along with the chronic discomfort of her other medical conditions. This is heartbreaking.

We are trying to avoid her going to the rehab facility, which emotionally would be devastating for her. Although we are grateful she doesn’t have the virus, ishe wouldn’t survive f she did become infected  

Many of you are experiencing similar situations throughout the world with family members alone in the hospital without the possibility of visitors and other medical conditions that require care and treatment during this difficult time.

These are challenging times for all of us in our own ways. We pray for toursafety and well-being fnd all of our loved ones wherever they may be. May this devastation soon end.

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2019:

This morning, this Hornbill stood on the top of the door to let Tom know it was time to eat. Tom came running outdoors to comply with his fervent request. For more photos, please click here.

Go figure…I did today’s post and it disappeared…Here we go again…Lockdown continues…

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks ago, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Now, it’s starting to look appetizing to both of us.

As each day passes, we become more and more hopeful that this stunning hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott (see photos) close to the Mumbai Airport, will remain open for the long haul.


Of course, under these difficult circumstances, there is no guaranty. The decision to close will be up to their upper management based on continuing loss of revenue with so few guests on the premises.

This building was shown in a scene from the movie, Life of Pi, filmed in Chennai, India.

As an international conglomerate of hotels, we’re thinking Marriott just may stay open since they are more well-capitalized than the small local hotels where we stayed over the past few weeks. Our fingers are crossed.


And, regardless of how difficult it becomes with limited services offered due to tightening their budget and government Covid-19 restrictions, we’re determined to stay here regardless of the circumstances, as long as we have air-con and WiFi.

The two statues of a revered couple who were highly instrumental in doing good works for the Indian people.

The biggest challenge we’re experiencing as guests is the lack of food inventory which continues to dwindle rapidly when suppliers simply aren’t delivering food to hotels right now. That may change down the road, but for now, the dining options are restricted.


Each night at dinner they hand us a newly printed menu with the number of options shrinking exponentially. Soon, there will be little either of us can or will eat.


In that case, we may just resort to eating one big meal a day, preferably having breakfast-type meals midday to hopefully hold us through the evening. For the sake of maintaining my health and keeping Tom’s sanity, this may end up being our best option.

This woman, on the side of the road, was shaking seeds out of a basket to be used in making vegetable oil.

Last night Tom was able to order a chicken and penne dish made with a white sauce. I ordered a paneer dish (which is a soft cheese, cut into cubes and referred to as “cottage cheese” in India, but doesn’t resemble cottage cheese as we know it, at all) mixed into a spicy starch-free tomato sauce. 


Since the bowl of sauce and paneer was small, I also ordered roasted chicken and received two tiny pieces of pale-looking unseasoned chicken. It wasn’t that appetizing. I have no doubt, this restaurant is wonderful under usual circumstances.


But, we are in difficult times and they are doing the very best they can with the products they have on hand to cook for these 20 rooms of guests. We have no doubt the options will continue to decline over the next many days. Somehow, we’ll manage. If we have to we both can eat eggs, lots of eggs to carry us through.

Tom’s meal from a few weeks ago, also looks appetizing.

We’re grateful we are safe and in air-conditioned comfort with a strong Wi-Fi signal. During the day we can each stream our favorite shows/podcasts without any issues which manage to help us get through the long day.

 
In the evenings, after dinner, we stream a favorite TV series until it’s time to go to sleep. Much to our surprise, both of us are sleeping well, as much as eight hours a night, odd for each of us. Maybe it’s nature’s way of helping us to tune out of this peculiar situation for a while. My nights are filled with wild dreams and convoluted stories.
 
As of today, since we received the cruise cancellation notice from Viking Cruise Lines, we’ve been self-isolating for two full weeks. The only times we’ve been out have been when going to at an ATM, traveling to various hotels, to the airport to fly from Madurai to Mumbai and again to the airport and back last Friday when we were turned away for our flight. 
An artfully designed temple built over 1000 years ago in Chennai.

In each instance, we wore face masks and sanitized/washed our hands obsessively. As each day passes, we continue to hope we haven’t been infected with both of us feeling well and energized. I continue to walk the hallways, never encountering any other guests, although all of us are situated on the fourth floor.


The pool, the bar, the health club, and another restaurant continue to stay closed, due to governmental order. We look forward to the day when all of this can change and all of us can continue on with our lives. When will that day come? No one knows. Except, logic dictates, that total lockdown is the answer.


Stay safe.

_______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2019:

This is my boy, Little. How does a person fall in love with a pig? For more photos, please click here.

Last post with Varanasi photos…Visit to a textile company…King of Brocade Weaving Centre…

                           Exquisite handmade silk brocade made on-site at Tiwari International.

 
We are experiencing awful Wi-Fi issues at the Ramada Hotel in Khajuraho, India. The town is considerably smaller than many we’ve visited over the past three weeks and without a doubt, this is the worse signal we’ve experienced.
The quality of the work is evident in every piece.

For the past several hours, I have been trying, off and on, to complete and upload today’s post about a fantastic silk-weaving facility we visited on our last day in Varanasi.

Neatly arranged shelves with countless fabrics in varying designs and colors.

From time to time, over the past seven-plus years we’ve been traveling, we’ve had an opportunity to describe and subsequently promote a small business we encounter along the way. 

Whether it is a barbershop, gift shop, street vendor, or luxury shop as we describe today, we’ve always enjoyed sharing details with our many worldwide readers.

Shelves are lined with stunning fabrics suitable for the wardrobe for Indian women and men, tourists, and many household goods such as draperies, furniture, bedspreads, pillows, etc.

Should any of you decide to visit Varanasi in the future, the stunning shop is worth a visit. I drooled over the gorgeous Pashmina shawls and scarves and only wished I’d had room in my luggage for one or two.

The staff was busy working with customers.

Unfortunately, after recently paying the airlines for overweight baggage, there was no way I could purchase even the lightest item and have it make sense. Plus, I cannot wear scarves often when I attempt to keep my clothing accessories to a minimum.

But, as we travel throughout India, we find most women, Indians, and tourists wearing scarves and shawls. Once women arrive in India from other countries, they immediately adopt the scarf concept to blend in with the population.

The shop also offered a wide array of ready-made clothing, including scarves and Pashmina shawls.

On the Maharajas Express, we all received no less than eight scarves as gifts at various stations as welcome gifts. I will have no choice but to give them away along the way. No doubt they contributed to my bag being overweight when some of them were pretty heavy.

But, few travelers have the same issue of “traveling light,” and many tourists come to India for shopping which is exceptionally exciting in this land of diversity and color.

The owner escorted us to the fabricating area, where a diligent weaver was hard at work.

Tiwari International appears to be a family-owned business. With the shop so busy when we arrived, we had little time to speak to the owner/manager Keshav Tiwari who was extremely kind and welcoming, even knowing we were “lookers,” not “shoppers.”

He was excited to share that actress Goldie Hawn had recently visited the shop, as he pointed to the framed photo on the wall as shown here in our photo. They were so proud to have a celebrity visit but equally enthused to welcome us.

This photo of actress Goldie Hawn hung on the wall in the shop. The staff was proud she’d come to visit and purchase several products.

We told Keshav about our visit to India and our site and promised him a story with today’s photos as a thank you for showing us around. He couldn’t have been more pleased, as were we.

The quality of their products is breathtaking, and we reveled in every category of cloth he showed us. Of course, we were in awe of the artistry he showed us by one of his workers, diligently at work on a loom. 

The finest of detail went into this lovely brocade, almost completed.

When he explained how time-consuming and deliberate the work is, we were all the more in awe of his massive inventory. Prices are reasonable, and support staff is available to assist in selections.

From their website, the following:


“Banarasi Brocades, as the world knows it, is called by the name kinkab in Varanasi. A high-quality weaving is done using gold and silver threads. Silk Threads are also used as well. The most common motifs include scroll patterns and butidars designs. The other designs are Jewelry designs, birds, animals, flowers, creepers, paisley motifs. Hindu religious and Mughal motifs also influenced brocade designs. When a Gold embellishment is done on a silver background, it is called Ganga-Jamuna in the local language.
This elderly weaver spent long days working at these looms.

The designs are first drawn on paper. The person who draws the layout is called Naqshbandi. The main weaver is assisted by a helper. This design is then woven on a small wooden frame to form a grid of warp and weft. 

The process is slow and painstaking, requiring intense concentration and expertise.

The requisite number of warp threads and the extra weft threads are woven on the loom. The famous tissue sari of Varanasi is unbelievably delicate, combining the use of gold and silver metallic threads.”

It was fascinating to observe the complicated and time-consuming process.
Finally, attention from Keshav was required, and we bid him thanks and good day with a typical Indian hands-together-bow, and we were on our way back out into the crazy traffic of Varanasi.
We had an opportunity to handle this finest of silk made by worms and of great value.

It was delightful, as always, to see how local products are made, adding even more substance and interest to sightseeing outings.

That’s it for today. Now, the challenge of uploading this post. Tomorrow, we’re embarking on an exciting road trip which begins at 8:30 am, taking us to one of our most sought-after adventures in India…eight days of safari in two distinct national parks where we’ll live in camps. Yeah!

Artistic design, coupled with great skill, produces such fine works as this.

Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes. Your kindness means the world to me!