Why did we decide to include home-free retirees world travel tips?

The Golden Temple Amritsar, India
The Golden Temple Amritsar, India, is seen through a decorative archway on the religious grounds of the historic Sikh location. Please click here to see more photos from Amritsar.

Note: This post is the second of the 2000 word posts required for SEO. Some of the verbiages may sound repetitive. We’ll be back to our usual post tomorrow. Only three more of these to go. Thanks for your patience. Feel free to read.

As Tom’s retirement was fast approaching and we’d made the outrageous decision to travel full-time, we searched online for travel tips that possibly could point us in the right direction, especially those applying to retirees. When many young people travel the world, even with children, they often stay in hostels, camp, rent or buy campers or caravans, and live very different lifestyles than we were seeking.

At that time in 2012, considerably fewer retirees had “given it all up” to do what we’d chosen to do, travel the world for years to come with minimal possessions with us, no storage facility anywhere in our home state or country, and find a way to make it work being home-free. We considered no condo, apartment, or studio-type living quarters as a base to return to should we so desire. We chose to make the “BIG commitment,” and for us, that only came when we sold everything we owned, leaving us little opportunity to change our minds if something went wrong, especially in the early days. Always a part of our mission was to include home-free retirees’ world travel tips.

Our friends and relatives bombarded us with suggestions and travel tips amid a plethora of travel warnings on all the potentially horrible situations we could encounter along the way, some even life-threatening. We chose not to take heed of their warnings when instead, we chose to research on our own.

Searching online was little help. We found countless travel tips from travelers who’d been “out there” on their own, as a couple of a family of three or more. But, few were retirees, and most had a place to call home to return to for a break or respite. Of course, today, eight years later, we’ve encountered other retirees, home-free and traveling the world. But after a fashion, most acquiesced and returned to their home country, recovered their belongings from storage, and began again. Not us. As retirees, we wanted to do it differently to truly experience the challenges and benefits of living life on the move, with no safety net.

What are the potential challenges facing home-free retirees’ world travel tips?…

The most frequent travel tip/question most travelers tossed our way revolved around these two topics:

1. What will you do if one of you becomes very ill when retirees are more likely to encounter health problems due to an advanced age?
2. What will you do if something goes wrong or you tire of traveling?

In the first over six years of our home-free world travel lifestyle, neither of these potential issues had any impact on our lives. As retirees, we were healthy, fit, and relatively active. We’d had extensive medical tests before we embarked on our journey, all required dental work completed. As we traveled the world, we each had basic health checks, blood tests, and dental appointments every few years. All was well until…

The “worse case” scenarios transpired…

While living in a holiday home in the bush in South Africa, in February 2019, I had to have emergency triple cardiac bypass surgery, which resulted in four total surgeries (due to complications) and over the US $150,000 in medical expenses, which our then international health insurance company refused to pay, claiming I had a preexisting condition (I had no idea).

The question many other retirees had asked, “Should such an event occur, what would you possibly do?” Would being home-free prevent us from quality medical care and a place to recover after such a frightening event? It did not. We extended our rental period for the holiday home or would have moved to another while I recovered.

At the time, many home-free retirees’ world travel tips came our way with suggestions for us to return to the US, but that tip was preposterous. I couldn’t travel on an airplane for at least three months. We stayed in the wonderful bush house while I recovered sufficiently to again begin our world travel journey. Nothing was holding us back. We continued for three months in an oceanfront house in Connemara, Ireland, as my recovery continued.

The second question above asks, “What will we do if something goes wrong or you tire of traveling?

Tom and I made a pact when we began traveling the world as home-free retirees. If either of us ever became tired or bored with traveling the world, we would stop. Even amid the challenges facing us these past few years, neither has suggested ending our journey to the other.

Another huge challenge that tested our durability and commitment as home-free retirees was the pandemic that hit the world in January and February 2020. At the time, we’d just completed a weeklong tour on the renowned Maharajas Express Train from Mumbai to Delhi. After the train, we embarked on a 55-night tour of India, which we had to cut short when COVID-19 presented us with a considerable risk of continuing. Most temples and tourist sites were packed with people, often crowding in small spaces. More, we considered home-free retirees’ world travel tips from other readers with similar experiences.

We decided the risk of being at crowded venues was too high and started self-isolation on or about March 12, 2020, when we were notified that our upcoming cruise on April 3, 2020, had been canceled due to the COVID-19. As of this writing, we have officially been in India’s government-mandated lockdown, which began on March 24, 2020, for a full six months. More and more of our readers write to us each day with tips and suggestions as to what we should do at this point. But, our particular circumstances and home-free lifestyle have guided us as to what works well for us.

Considering home-free retirees’ world travel tips weren’t a factor in preventing us from heading back to the US to hunker down in lockdown. Where would we stay? Ultimately, we decided to stay put in a lovely Marriott hotel until we could continue our travels. At this point, the pandemic has reached such proportions in the US, we have no desire or plan to return. Also, it would not be easy to decide where to stay without a home while we waited it out. We’ve been safe in this hotel, although India has been a hard hit as well. Only time will tell when we can continue.

We’ve received hundreds of tips geared toward our home-free status as to what we should do during this period. We’ve appreciated all the tips, suggestions, and updates sent by readers, family, and friends. Most of the retiree’s circumstances are very different from ours, and what they would choose to do in these circumstances may differ from our choices.

What do we do as home-free retirees if the lockdown/pandemic continues for more months to come?…

We are safe. This hotel has exercised diligent efforts to avoid a single case of COVID-19 since we arrived. All staff is required to wear face masks and gloves. All staff members live within the walls of the hotel. No one is allowed to clean our room or serve our meals via room service unless they’ve been living here for a minimum of three weeks. We are confined to the fourth floor except for those few times we’ll head downstairs to the reception desk to pay our bill. We haven’t been outdoors in six months.

But, when we think of retirees living in a retirement community, they most likely haven’t been outdoors much either. Perhaps, our situation isn’t so unique after all. We’re safe. We have everything we need. We’re relatively comfortable. We miss socializing and often think of how enjoyable it would be to get together with other retirees and commiserate over this challenging situation.

At most, the staff and any other guests appear to be mostly in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. But, it seems, as retirees, we’re the oldest people in the entire hotel. Every few days, we receive tips in our email with movies and TV series, we should binge-watch, and games we should play to alleviate the boredom we’re experiencing now. We take many of these tips to heart and find ourselves streaming many fun new series suggested by our readers. This means a lot to us.

How are we emotionally impacted by home-free living?…

Often, we’re asked, don’t you feel lost without “roots?” Our answer is simple from an adage, “Home is where the heart is.” And, although our hearts are filled with love for family and friends back in the US, as a couple, we have made anywhere we may be living, at any given time, our “home.” That premise prevents us from ever feeling lost and lonely in a home-free lifestyle.

Most home-free retirees’ world travel tips include comments from those who spent their lives and careers in Minnesota, often leaving to spend their retirement in warmer climates. In most cases, they’ll purchase or rent a condo, house, or apartment in such states as Arizona, Florida, Texas, or Hawaii. Often, they’ll keep their original home and deal with the maintenance of having two homes. This didn’t appeal to us at all.

Instead, as retirees, we chose to be home-free; no apartment somewhere; no bedroom in one of our adult kids’ homes with a closet full of clothes; no lease on a storage facility as a safety net to enable us to “set up housekeeping” once again. This was it, just the two of us and our luggage, the size of which has significantly diminished over the years.

In the beginning, Christmas was a time we had to make adjustments. We’d no longer have a Christmas tree, nor did we have decorations or a need to bake endless cookies and baked goods. We no longer sent Christmas cards and gifts instead of mailing gift cards to our grandchildren. This commitment required a lot of emotional changes experienced by many retirees who become ex-pats and world travelers.

The most challenging time we’ve experienced has been during my recovery from open-heart surgery and now, six months in lockdown in a single hotel room. But, somehow, these two home-free retirees have managed to maintain emotional strength and resilience in the knowledge that in time, we’ll be on the move again.

Will we ever settle down?…

This question has been asked of us over and over again. And, the reality is, we’ll have to at some point. With advancing age and potential health conditions, we may need to return to the US and find a place to live. Does this worry us? Not at this point. We’ve survived so much, we both feel confident that when the time comes, as has been the case in every other situation, we’ll figure it out.

Home-free retirees’ world travel tips often include ways to figure out significant life changes at some point or another. We are no exception. The fact we’ll have lived a home-free existence for so many years makes those decisions only a little more complicated, mainly revolving around: Where will we choose to live?

We’ve considered the possibility of staying in holiday homes in several parts of the US for three to six months, giving us a further opportunity to see more of our own country in our waning years. There’s also the possibility that we may find a country besides the USA where we’d like to live as retirees in the next few years, again with the principle of renting various, fully-equipped holiday/vacation homes.

In conclusion…

A home-free lifestyle is not for everyone, whether a young person was starting their lives, a young family, couple, or retiree. We each have our unique desires and emotional needs when it comes to our chosen lifestyle. If and when we have a need and a desire to be “rooted” to one location, we’ll do so.

World travel is not on everyone’s radar or in their dreams of what will ultimately be fulfilled and purpose-driven. We never knew we had a plan to travel the world as retirees, living a home-free lifestyle. It came upon us in a happenstance manner described in our first few posts and many more to go over the years.

As we’re fast approaching our eighth anniversary since we became home-free on October 31, 2012, we have no regrets from the most exciting adventures to this most recent mundane period, spending over six months in lockdown in Mumbai, India.

We’re hopeful for the future that we’ll be able to continue on our home-free journey to see the world in time. In the interim, we’ll continue to offer home-free retirees world travel tips as well as hearing from other world travelers. The world is a prominent place. We all have much more to see and to say.. Stay with us, dear reader. There’s more to come.

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

Pond Cottage, in Witheridge, Devon, UK
The pond next to our house, Pond Cottage, in Witheridge, Devon, UK,  with a few ducks and geese. For more photos, please click here.

Early morning routine…Life of retirees…More photos from cultural coffee farm tour…

Tom was holding the broom (escoba) made of vegetation at El Toledo Coffee Tour.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Layers of clouds rolling into the valley.

As candid as we are regarding how we live our daily lives, we’re also curious about how other retirees may spend their time. Is it so unusual it’s Tuesday at 8:00 am, and we’re sitting in the screening room while Tom is watching last night’s Minnesota Vikings game while I busily peck away at my laptop?

The items throughout the cafe each had their own story to tell.

Probably not. We haven’t spent any of our retirement years living near friends and family, which would give us a better perspective of what other retirees may be doing in their spare time, as compared to us.

The El Toledo Coffee Farm’s coffee is nicely packaged.

It’s not a desire to emulate the activities of others. More so, it’s simple curiosity, the same curiosity bringing some of you back, again and again, to see “what we’re up to” from one day to the next.

An old-fashioned cart.

A significant difference for us, besides living in a new country every few months, is the reality of living without a car at specific points, often without easy access to public transportation. It’s the price we pay for choosing to live in more remote locations.

Every corner of the area was filled with family treasures.

Many world travelers with whom we’ve communicated chose to live in apartments and condos in big cities, heading out each day for sightseeing, dining, and tours. 

Gabriel was educating us while we sat at the long table.  We were entranced by his manner of speaking and expertise.

The big city life is far removed from our reality, except on occasions such as our upcoming one-month stay in Buenos Aires beginning on December 23rd (Tom’s birthday). Indeed during those 31 days, we’ll be dining out (no kitchen), using public transportation for tours and sightseeing, and getting out of the hotel room each day to wander about.

Handmade wood boat.

Even us, who don’t mind staying in, don’t enjoy sitting in a hotel room all day and night.  This period will give us an excellent opportunity to get out walking, something we’ve missed here in the villa in Atenas. The hills are too steep to navigate for an enjoyable leisurely walk.

The coffee cafe, with its cultural decor, was fascinating.

Luckily, in the weeks we’ve had a car (every other at this point), we’ve chosen various types of sightseeing, all of which have required extensive walking. Although these “hikes” aren’t frequent enough to build the level of fitness we’d like to restore, at least these tours, thus far, have kept us on the move.

The clutter was oddly appealing.

As for a day like today…once the football game ends and I’ve uploaded the post, most likely, we’ll spend time out by the pool. The past three days have been cloudy and rainy by the time I’ve finished the post. We’re both anxious to get our token 20 to 30 minutes of sun time and spend time in the pool. Rain or shine, we spend the better part of each day on the veranda with the roof protecting us from the rain.

Once we embarked on the tour, we entered this working area.

We discuss our dreams for the future during those pool times, where we’d like to go after revisiting the US in 2019. At this point, we’re tossing around some ideas, considering which countries we’ve yet to visit and those we long to see.

Gabriel was explaining the use of the space.

Our typical day-to-day lives may not be too different than yours, except for a few factors; we don’t do any household repairs and maintenance; we don’t do yard work, and we don’t go to Home Depot. 

Wine-making area.

We don’t “jump in the car” to drive short distances to visit with friends and family; we rarely go to the doctor; we don’t go to Costco for a fun shopping trip loading up large quantities of food and supplies; we don’t head over the Walgreen’s or CVS for a few items, using these little rewards cards for discounts hanging on our keyring.

Drying racks for the coffee beans.

Then again, most peculiarly…we don’t have a keyring! How odd is that?

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 12, 2016:

When we watched this activity on the river, we had no idea what was transpiring until we saw they were cleaning the carcass of a cow in the river. Yikes! For more photos, please click here.

Adults only, please…Debunking a myth about The Villages…Fabulous time with visiting friends…Suez Canal photos…

Tugboats accompany each ship as it makes its way through the canal as a precautionary measure in an emergency—fifty ships per day transit through the channel.

Note: Today’s photos are from our sailing through the Suez Canal ten years ago today. See the post here. (Please excuse the spot on the upper right of each photo.

Last night after a homemade dinner of Cashew Chicken with Broccoli and Mushrooms, our friends Karen and Rich joined us in the living room while we engaged in lively conversation, having not seen them since a year ago in March. The conversation veered to the perception that the location where we’re staying at this time, in The Villages Florida, has a reputation as being the “STD capital of the world.”

This perception was created when an article mentioned that a doctor said The Villages had a high incidence of venereal diseases based on rampant sexual activities. It all started like this from this article:

Al-Firdan Bridge is the largest swing, double-cantilever bridge in the world.

Information abounds about how the STD rumor started…

Some say a disgruntled nurse hurled it as an insult. Others believe it began with a joke on a radio station. But most trace it to a 2006 television news story, “Doctors in Retirement Community Seeing Increase in STDs.”

“While statistics aren’t yet reflecting the trend, one physician at the Women’s Center of The Villages said, even in her years working in Miami, she has never seen so many cases,” the since-removed WFTV article reported.

The Women’s Center of The Villages is no longer open. And the doctor was never named.”

Yesterday, on the Garage Logic show on which Tom is mentioned daily when he contributes, “This day in Minnesota history,” the show’s host, Joe Soucheray, said this myth about The Villages, which the hosts of the show shared their opinions that this may be true. That’s how powerful this perception is that The Villages is a “real swinging place for people in their 60s and 70s.” We had no idea about this rumor when we booked the house here.

Mosques were abundant in all the villages we passed along through the canal.

Here’s the link to the podcast from Garage Logic on May 11. If you’d like to hear their hilarious comments, you can fast forward one hour, 15 minutes, and 26 seconds to the exact spot where this is discussed.

Countless myths are flying around the internet about The Village about this topic including:

What do loofahs in The Villages mean?

Residents from the Florida retirement complex the Villages, which The Post reported on in 2009 as being a “wild retirees getaway,” have been caught on video displaying loofahs on their golf carts, allegedly to distinguish their swinging sexual styles.
This is a myth: Residents use loofahs on their golf carts to more easily identify their golf cart when returning to a parking lot at one of the many venues. There are a reported 70,000 golf carts in The Villages.

A ferry was taking off into the canal.

What do gold shoes mean in The Villages?
According to multiple people, wearing gold shoes or letting your shirt tag stick out in the back signals you’re on the prowl.
This is a myth: Often, seniors choose to wear gold or silver shoes or sandals simply for fashion purposes. Besides, gold shoes often are appropriately worn with dress-up or dancing clothes, and such events may be prevalent in The Villages.
What do the colored scrunchies mean in The Villages?
This is a myth: People wear scrunchies to keep their hair out of their eyes and faces. Those with longer hair scrunchies may be worn to match one’s outfit and simply keep their hair out of their faces. While riding in a golf cart, one’s hair blows around (I know this from recent personal experience). Also, many seniors participate in sports in The Villages, particularly golf, and pickleball.

The peninsulas in the Bitter Lakes area were intriguing, with armed soldiers standing on the shore waving at us.

Does the pink flamingo mean a swinging lifestyle?

It used to be a symbol to show your hospitality and morphed from there. Today, the pink flamingo meaning is used as an indicator of a swinging lifestyle. This type of symbol is not as common as the others, but it does exist.
This is a myth: Florida and other tropical climates have used pink flamingos in their yards for decades, probably going back to the 50s. There’s never been a direct link between pink flamingos and a swindling lifestyle.
These are only a few of the misconceptions about life in The Villages. Many more exist. Sure, in any retirement community, coupled with the lack of concern over pregnancy, seniors may enjoy an active sex life among their neighbors and circle of friends and be subject to various STDs. But this is true anywhere in the world, not necessarily only in The Villages.
We’ve heard tales about nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other senior-age communities worldwide that STDs are a common occurrence. We take this information with a grain of salt, knowing regardless of the scenarios here in The Villages, we aren’t candidates for this type of lifestyle.

Two other cruise ships were making the transit during our transit, but most of the ships were well-packed freighters. Later in the afternoon, around 2:30, we stood on our balcony as we began the final exit of the Suez Canal, an experience we will never forget.

Our friends Karen and Rich arrived last evening, and we had a lovely time together. The time has gone so quickly, and soon they must leave to head to Karen’s mom’s house for Mother’s Day weekend. We hope to see them again before we leave Florida in 78 days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 12, 2013:

Shortly after stepping out on the balcony at 5:00 am, we passed under the Friendship Bridge as we sailed through the Suez Canal. For more photos, please click here.

Photos from 10 years ago…Comments from readers regarding yesterday’s whiney post…

Our ship, the Celebrity Century as it went under the Bridge of the Americas, soon to be demolished in 2014 when the new locks open in 2014. A newer bridge, the Centennial Bridge, will be considerably higher to accommodate huge ships.

Note: Today, we’re including photos from ten years ago in January 2013, of our transit through the Panama Canal, for the first time. See the post here.

When our readers read our posts, they often don’t see comments made by other readers on previous posts. Today, we’re sharing two comments posted after yesterday’s post here. When comments are posted at the end of any post, I can review them before posting them, adding our response.

Long ago, we wrote that we don’t care to post negative vitriol, bullying, and “hater-type” comments. Fortunately, over the past ten-plus years, we haven’t received more than a handful of such comments, a few of which we’ve mentioned here anonymously. We may reveal the first name of a commenter but never list last names, email addresses, or personal information.

A container freighter ahead of us in line to enter the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks.

After writing for so many years, we aren’t as sensitive about receiving negative comments. Still, we feel it is important to post comments that may not agree with our lifestyle or how we handle situations. Let’s face it, there’s no rule book on how to live as nomads, although thousands have written books and articles on their personal experiences.

When we read some of these articles and a few books, we found the author’s experiences are very similar to ours. Even recently when we met readers/friends Lisa and Sam (and their friends Karen and Stan, also world travelers), it was ironic how alike our experiences have been, including locations, joyful and meaningful events, and of course, an endless stream of trials and tribulations. Living this life is fantastic, but it, like everyday life, has its ups and downs.

Yes, yesterday’s post was whiney by any standards. I hesitated to take it to the degree I had, but once my fingers started flying over the keyboard, I couldn’t seem to change my attitude sufficiently to take a different turn.

The opening of one of the double set of gates at the locks.

Funny, today it’s even hotter with a high of 104F, 40C with constant high humidity. Yes, we still have all that “paperwork” hanging over our heads that we’re chipping away at bit by bit. But it is a new day, and with that often comes a new attitude and a new sense of getting through it all with grace and ease.

Below are two of the comments we received after uploading yesterday’s post:

  1. Our reader/friend Bob wrote:

“Whining is a much-needed release nothing wrong with it, especially the trial and tribulations you sometimes endure be safe, be happy, be healthy.”

Our response:

Bob, thanks for your support. Wherever one may live in the world, there are challenges. We empathize with all of you in Minnesota and many other states where residents are dealing with excessive amounts of snow, and frigid temperatures, creating hardships and risks for all. Our issues are not unlike yours, just a little different.

Thanks for writing once again.

2. Our reader/friend Karen wrote:

“Come back to the US. Buy an RV and wander Mexico and South America. Might be fun with less hassle.”

Our response:

“Karen, thanks for your input, and we appreciate your comment. Traveling through Mexico is not the safest place at this time, as is the case in many parts of South America as is the case in many countries, including our own US. Also, owning and maintaining an RV does not appeal to us. It’s a different lifestyle than ours. Like everyone else, there are challenges wherever they may live in the world. In our attempt to always “tell it like it is.” Yesterday’s post expressed the frustration that we freely shared with our readers. To pretend that all is ideal during challenging times would be unfair to our readers in painting an unrealistic picture of this nomadic and home-free lifestyle.”

Here I am perched atop our viewing area at the bow of the ship, in air-conditioned comfort. We reserved these excellent seats at 5:15 am!

Avoidance of discomfort and ease of living is impossible regardless of how hard we may try. For example, I apply insect repellent three to four times each day and again before going to bed, and yet, I awoke this morning with no less than 20 new bites, many of which will itch for two or three weeks. The same thing would happen when we lived in Minnesota and spent an evening outdoors in the summer wearing repellent.

Retirees living year-round in Arizona, unable to afford a separate home in a cooler climate in the summer, often experience temperatures much higher than we’re experiencing now. Summer in Nevada, our state of residence, is ultra hot in the summer months, comparable to the temps we have today. No, their humidity doesn’t compare to ours in the bush, but it still feels like stepping into an oven when heading outdoors.

We were exhausted after an early start on the long day of Panama Canal viewing, but joyful and grateful for the experience. All we needed was a good night’s sleep.

Then, we consider that 13% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to electricity. In South Africa, 11% of households don’t have electricity. Load-shedding is not an issue for any of these people. But, then again, it’s all relative. As much as we feel sad for those denied essential utilities, it doesn’t prevent those of us in South Africa, without power as many at 11½ hours a day, from complaining.

Yesterday, the water ran out when Tom was taking a shower. He was unable to wash the soap off his body. The reservoir runs dry when there is lots of load-shedding, as there’s been over the past many months.

Sure, we could spend a small fortune on a motorhome to tour the US. But in that case, we could also run out of water, fuel, WiFi, electricity, and modern conveniences. Plus, the maintenance, repairs, emptying the head, adding water, and frequent driving don’t appeal to us by any means, let alone the added cost of parking at campsites and paying for supplies, fuel, and groceries along the way. Our cost of living in South Africa, compared to an RV lifestyle, is about 60% less.

If our visa extensions are approved, we’ll leave the bush in a mere five months, not to return for about a year.

To sum it up, yes, we may whinge some more over these hot summer months in Africa, getting more bites, dealing with more annoying paperwork, more power and water outages, and whatever else might come our way. But, if we lived in a nice, cool senior high rise in any city in the US, surely we’d find something to whinge about there. Human nature.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2022:

Vultures, on the lookout, for possible prey for possible carrion. For more photos, please click here.

Not to party…cold, rainy…Had our fun last night!…

Zebras love to cuddle.

Last night could just as well have been New Year’s Eve. The bar was packed shortly after we arrived, mostly with people we know, making it a true “Cheers Bar” experience. The loud and lively conversations, many at one time, wafted through the air while Dawn, David, and the staff ran their butts off, serving the never-ending stream of drinkers and diners.

Our dinner was excellent as usual while we dined at the bar along with all the other guests who occupied the barstools. It couldn’t have been more fun. We arrived as always at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and were out the door at around 8:30, 2030 hrs. Once back at the house, after load shedding ended, we hunkered down in the bedroom and watched another episode of Tulsa King, another good Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone) series starring Sylvester Stallone. It’s entertaining and tongue-in-cheek, and he’s playing the role quite well.

Earl decided to check out the pellet situation.

We didn’t doze off until around midnight, but both slept well. When we awoke this morning, we decided not to attend tonight’s New Year’s Eve party. It’s raining now and very cool, and tonight the dress is all white clothes. All of our white clothes were in our lost bags. We’re quite content staying home.

This morning, I baked the smaller of the two hams and took out a package of slider-sized buns for Tom. I’ll use my low-carb bread, and we’ll both have ham and cheese sliders, salad, with rice for Tom. That will be a perfect New Year’s Eve dinner for the two of us. With all the ham and buns left, we may be eating this same meal for a few nights, which is OK with us.

They were checking out the side garden for any vegetation they may like.

I had sliced my keto bread very thin, so I could have two little sandwiches if I’d like. When making keto bread, the loaves are small, with slices about half the size of a regular piece of bread. Tom will have a few of his leftover chocolate cookies for dessert, and I won’t eat a thing. I’ve made a point of avoiding snacks, as mentioned, although many nights, it’s tempting, especially when I still feel a little hungry after dinner. But, if I wait about a half hour, I get over it.

Also, this morning we ran out to the liquor store to buy a few items in case Dawn and Leon decide to come tomorrow. We left the plans “loose” just in case they are exhausted after New Year’s Eve at the restaurant and need a quiet day. We’re OK with last-minute plans now that we have everything we’d need for a nice meal and drinks they like.

Zebras and a few impalas have been visiting regularly.

Usually, guests bring their own “drinkables” when visiting, but in this case, we wanted it to be ultra-easy for them to jump in their car and come here. We’ll see how it rolls out by tomorrow morning sometime.

Today, I did a few loads of laundry, and once I’m done with today’s post, I’ll get to work on logging the receipts from purchases in the last 15 days, which I’ve failed to do. I already paid the bills online for next month, relieved that this task is blissfully out of the way.

For a few minutes, I thought this might be Little. But no such luck. After comparing this photo to an old photo of Little, we decided it wasn’t him. That would have been a nice surprise!

It’s been a busy day in the bush so far. Our garden has been packed with kudus, zebras, duikers, warthogs, and even wildebeest Earl, whom we haven’t seen lately, stopped by for a quick hello and taste of pellets. We took as many photos as possible, hoping to have enough for the next few days.

I have to run, folks, to complete other tasks on today’s agenda. I often wonder how I managed to get everything done in my old life when I worked. It seems I have less free time now than I did back then. I’ve heard other retirees say the same thing. Go figure.

Happy New Year.

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

I stepped out the door to the veranda to discover this scene, a highly venomous boomslang with a frog in its mouth. It was already too preoccupied to bite us! Perhaps the frog in its mouth was a blessing. See our post here. For the last New Year’s Eve post, please click here.

Packing has begun…Two days and counting…Busy in our old lives…

Lilac took a drink from mom Tulip after eating lots of dry pellets.

This morning, I focused on getting lots of vegetables washed and cut to make Peanut Chicken Stir Fry for tonight’s dinner. I am making a huge batch and freezing the leftovers, so when we return from Zambia/Botswana, we’ll have dinner for the first few evenings and won’t have to shop right away.

We still have a few items in the chest freezer so that we may be good for the first week back. We return on Sunday, August 27th. It’s ironic that in our old life, before we began traveling, returning home was disappointing when we went on holiday for a week or more. There were piles of mail, bills to be paid, shopping to do, unpacking with piles of laundry and house cleaning.

Here’s Norman, all fluffed up when Big Daddy was nearby.

When we return from a trip,  we look forward to returning as much as we looked forward to going away. Our animals will be waiting for us, our human friends, and our delightful bush house will be clean and ready for us. While we’re away, Vusi and Zef will do a “spring clean” of the home, clearing out all of the dust in tucked away places that accumulate from animals in the garden as well as the general nature of the bush. We’ll return to a spotless dust-free environment

All we’ll have to do now when we return is unpack and laundry, with a new washing machine installed while we were away and ready to be used. How wonderful it will be not to run back and forth to the outdoor laundry area several times, resetting the washer, to get through one load. Louise did all of our laundry which is neatly folded and ready to pack.

It’s a rarity for a duiker to come close to humans. This is Delilah, on the right, the mate of Derek. He seldom jumps the fence, but she does almost daily.

Ah, the little things matter so much. I realize that we often write about the little nuances of our daily lives, and I hope it doesn’t bore our readers/friends worldwide. I’d also enjoy reading about the activities and challenges of another’s everyday life. It’s natural for you to compare your lives to ours, including the ups and downs, the illnesses, the unexpected events, and the excitement of world travel.

It’s especially interesting to hear how others living in Marloth Park spend their days and nights. We often wonder if other retirees spend their days outdoors on the veranda as we do and how they spend their free time. We’d love for any of you, our readers, to send us input on how you spend your days and nights, wherever you live.

All I recall from living in the US after retirement was that I was so busy each day with tasks, appointments, household chores, shopping, and financial responsibilities.  Sure we have some of that now, but once a month, I pay the credit card online (10 minutes), which we use for all of our expenses, and since we don’t have a checkbook, we never write a check. Is that so peculiar in today’s world of technology? Probably not.

Big Daddy Broken Horn, kudu with half of his left horn, which must have been lost in a battle with another male.

Often we went to Home Depot and the local hardware store for items we needed for household repairs and maintenance. We shopped for plants and flowers for our garden a few times a year. I spent hours in Target each month with a long list of items we somehow needed. Every so often, I went to the local mall or discount store to shop for clothes, shoes, and cosmetics.

Often, we had many activities centering around the family, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and we managed to make time for every possible event. The last few years, before we left, Tom often worked 12 hours days and was often exhausted. But that didn’t impede our desire to entertain, often making elaborate gourmet-type meals or in summer barbecues in the yard by the lake.

With only dinner to make for tonight with leftovers for when we return and packing, using a comprehensive list on an app on my phone to ensure we don’t forget a thing takes little time, especially when we have so few clothes and shoes.

I have to go now and cut up the chicken, and later on, I will stir fry the Asian spiced dish. There’s no more cooking for the next ten days since tomorrow night, 11 of us are going to Jabula for dinner. The following day, Saturday, we head to Nelspruit for our quick and easy flight.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 18, 2021:

The previous night’s trail cam photo of the porcupine visiting our garden. For more photos, please click here.

Rainy Sunday in the bush…New Crocodile River photos!…Food photos…


It was wonderful to see this elephant from the veranda at Amazing Kruger View Restaurant last night while dining with Dorthy and Arthur.

It was a good night. We met Dorthy and Arthur at Amazing Kruger View at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, for sundowners and dinner. The menu has a few items that work for my way of eating, and I managed to order two items befitting my special diet; a small starter plate of grilled squid tentacles and a grilled chicken salad. Both were the perfect amounts and rather good, but not necessarily great. Both are shown in the two photos below.

We spotted this hippo at quite a distance.

Tom ordered chicken schnitzel with chips, as shown in the photo below. Dorthy ordered the prawns (with the heads preferred by South African and creamed spinach and butternut squash) and two popular South Africa side dishes (often served at Jabula). Dorthy enjoyed her meal.

Arthur had the Chicken Curry Penne pasta, which he said was good, and the portion was large enough for him to take a “doggie bag” to enjoy for today’s lunch. We laughed when we saw he’d order Chicken Penne Pasta. That was what Tom ate for dinner (minus the curry sauce) every night for the first eight of ten months we spent in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai, India, until he was so sick of it, he quit eating dinner altogether.

Moments later, I spotted a second hippo and a waterbuck. It was getting dark, and the distance prevented clear photos.

Tom gained 10 kg, 22 pounds, from eating that pasta those eight months, along with breakfast and four bananas each day. No wonder he gained all that weight, most of which he’s lost since we’ve been here. Speaking of weight, he gained about 2 kg, 4.4 pounds, from eating the lemon poppyseed muffins I made for him as comfort food after having his dental surgery.

Storks on the river.

Now that the muffins are gone, he’s determined to eat only low-carb foods when we dine in, not necessarily when dining out. But Tom isn’t insulin resistant and by no means pre-diabetic, so treats for him when we dine out aren’t an issue like they are for me. My blood sugar and blood pressure will go through the roof if I eat bread, potatoes, starchy foods, or desserts which impacts my heart health. It’s not worth it to me.

Arthur’s dinner of Curry Chicken Penne Pasta.

So this morning, to add a little comfort food to our daily menu, I made a few treats, each very low-carb and to be eaten in moderation; Low Carb Chocolate Fudge and Low Carb Cream Cheese Clouds, both delicious and in the freezer now firming up to be cut into bite-sized pieces.  Each evening after dinner, I’ll make up a little plate for each of us to be savored in small portions.

Dorthy’s prawn dinner with heads, creamed spinach, and butternut squash, both popular South African side dishes.

While in the kitchen this morning, I worked on tonight’s dinner, and all of that is under control. With dishes piled up all over the kitchen, I made breakfast of “butt” bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese. After breakfast, Tom licked the beaters and the bowl from the Cream Cheese clouds and then proceeded to all the dishes. I don’t mind cooking and making special treats when I know he’ll do all the dishes.

My starter, a small plate of tiny squid tentacles.

Back to last night’s dinner with Dorthy and Arthur…while we sat at the big picnic-type table on the veranda, completely covered over with a tent-like roof as it drizzled off and on, the conversation was lively and animated. We have many common interests as retirees, and they can be more adventurous, although a bit older than us. It was delightful chatting with them.

As we enjoyed our drinks and food, we noticed several other customers standing at the railing overlooking the Crocodile River. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a table closest to the railing without a reservation, so each time we spotted something, I had to get up with the camera and scan the river for any possible sightings.

My grilled chicken salad. The chicken looked fried, but it wasn’t. Spices made it look like it was battered.

On one occasion, there was a snake in a tree that was hard to spot. I took a photo but found the result to be obscure and hard to visualize. But, as the sky darkened, the sightings of the photos we’re sharing today were satisfying and exciting.

Imagine being out to dinner and watching the activity in one of the most wildlife-rich national parks in the world. Imagine our delight when we have to stop on the road to let two giraffes pass on the way out to dinner. Imagine waking up in the morning, drawing open the shade covering the window to see a 227 kg, 500 pounds, wild animal, a kudu, looking in the window with an expression of anticipation on their face.

Tom’s Chicken Schnitzel topped with cheese sauce with chips on the side.

This is Marloth Park, the most unusual place we’ve found in the world that fills our hearts with joy and fulfillment, not only due to the exquisite abundance of nature but also the fine people we meet along the way.

We are grateful and never take it for granted. No, not for a moment.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #243. Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, a cooler day!…Load shedding continues…We’re losing water…Off to see old friends for dinner…

Gordon Ramsay, our newest bushbuck visitor, visits daily after discovering the goodies we offer.

Marloth Park is practically a disaster area right now. Some residents have been without power for four or five days. Many others have no phone service, TV service, and WiFi, especially if they have Vodacom (we do not). Tom, who usually takes a shower at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, each day, is taking one now at 10:00 am before our water runs out, as it has for many others in the park.

The electricity that services the pumps that run the water system is out, impacting everyone in the park. We can only imagine the frustration for those residents who’ve been without power for four or five days. Indeed, they’ve lost all their perishable food in the fridges and freezers by now.

Another view of Gorden Ramsay.

For those of us who still have electricity, load shedding is at Stage 4, which translates to 7½ hours per day without power, spread over three 2½ hour sessions. That’s nothing compared to those who haven’t had power since last Wednesday. Plus, being unable to be online or make a phone call is a terrible hardship for those residents.

Sure, an unsympathetic type could say, “If this was the mid-1800s and earlier, people had none of these services for the majority of their lives. They managed,” But, that isn’t comforting at all. Our lives are adapted to modern technology, and we shouldn’t have to be without that which has become an integral part of our lives in this day and age.

Here is Sylvia, named after my mother. She’s a loner, as are most bushbucks.

Imagine the frustration for those who continue to pay for the services and yet have none whatsoever. They’ll play hell trying to get credits for the periods they’ve been without the services. After all, TIA, “This is Africa,” and such infrastructure failures are expected as the norm.

And yet, for now, we choose to be here. No, we’ll never buy a house here, nor would we live here full-time if we decided to stop traveling and settle somewhere. Both of us agree to this without hesitation.

Sylvia loves cabbage.

Our holiday house uses a different WiFi company, Tech Connect, and we’ve had no issues recently. We have Google Fi on our phones and can easily make calls if necessary and access data. But, Google Fi shares towers with many of those that aren’t operational at times, and we may not have services.WiFi is out mainly because of the ongoing theft of the batteries at the stations that run services from the towers. Thieves come to the park in the middle of the night and steal the batteries.

Vodacom is sick and tired of replacing stolen batteries for its towers. They need to come up with another plan for those who are impacted. How about an impenetrable storage system for the batteries? It’s not rocket science. But again, TIA and things don’t get resolved like they do in many other parts of the world.

Our entire garden is now muddy due to the much-needed rain over the past week.

One might say, “Move away if you don’t like it.” But, in this and many other African countries, people can’t afford to leave when the cost of living is lower here than in many other parts of the world. Permanent residents, including retirees in Marloth Park, have no chance of moving away. With load shedding issues throughout the country, they’d have to move to another country that is not affordable or sensible for most.

For tourists, such as our friends, Rina and Cee, meeting today for sundowners and dinner at Amazing Kruger View. It is challenging. One spends money to come here for a holiday, enjoy the wildlife and end up without water, power, WiFi, and phone service. Such occurrences can easily impact tourists’ future decisions to come to Marloth Park. A lack of tourists affects property owners who need holiday rental income to cover their living costs. It’s a vicious cycle.

The cement pond, which we’ve kept free of water due to breeding mosquitoes, is now filled with water.

We accept the reality of the situation and must continue to do so for the next 74 days until we depart for Florida, US, where we’ll be spending 75 days, until our cruise sails across the Atlantic Ocean from Fort Lauderdale Southampton, England. No, we don’t wish time to fly by quickly. We are savoring every moment.

While we’re sitting on the veranda on a cooler, cloudy day, Froggie, who lives in the rafters above our heads, is entertaining us with his frequent croaks. Lori and Barbara (from Shark Tank) are sitting in the bush with an eye on us, waiting for the next visitor to our garden to whom we’ll toss some pellets. They’ll move in, scare them away with their bossy personalities and take over the eating of the pellets.

Our power just went out due to load shedding, but we’ll be fine during the 2½ hours. We’ll still have WiFi due to our inverter. Thanks to Louise and Danie for providing the valuable device for us during our year-long stay. Gordon Ramsey (bushbuck) just showed up for some pellets and cabbage. I’d better run and get his lunch!

Have a good day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 9, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #231. Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office in Savusavu, Fiji, while we waited outside with no indoor seating areas. The dental office was located on the hospital grounds. For more, please click here.

Four weeks from today…Savoring the moment…Food obsessions…

A new bushbuck to our garden, Short Horn. Notice the size difference between his right and left horns.

It’s hard to grasp the concept of us leaving Africa in a mere four weeks from today. Tom asks me why I keep track of how many days we go, especially when leaving is not my preference. Well, the answer for me is simple. As detail-oriented, I am a “numbers” person. I keep track of all kinds of numbers in my brain, some important, some useless.

But doing so doesn’t mean I am not savoring every last moment, capturing pictures in my mind and on the camera. Only moments ago, I was cutting up carrots, cabbage, and lettuce for the bushbucks and kudus. They love the cool crispness and moisture in the vegetables. It’s one of those daily tasks I do with love.

Warthogs don’t care for cabbage and lettuce. They prefer the sweetness of the carrots. Already this week, we’ve gone through 10 kg, 22 pounds of carrots. The most recently purchased huge bag contained many small and large carrots with many pieces that I didn’t have to cut for the smaller bushbucks, like Holy Moley, Big Spikey, Little Spikey, and Baby. They savor every morsel.

We’re always thrilled to see Torn Ear.

The wildebeests, kudus, and warthogs can easily chew an entire carrot, but a few in the bag were so large I cut them to avoid a possible choking hazard.

Yesterday, when I tossed carrots to Little and his new girlfriend, Mom and Babies, one carrot landed in the cement pond, now filled with sand, dirt, and rocks. The carrot landed in a tight spot. Last night, Little knocked off almost every large boulder surrounding the cement pond, intended as a border, but could not get to it.

This morning, he remembered that the carrot was there and again tried to get to it. Success! He managed to get the hard-to-reach carrot. I can imagine Little thinking about that carrot all night long. That’s Little for you! He’s quite the “pig.” I suppose at times in my old life, and I may have thought about a remaining piece of a pie in the fridge and finally got up in the morning to eat it with my cup of coffee. Did that make me a pig? I suppose. We all have our various food obsessions.

Helmeted guinea-fowl and four of her chicks.

Tom is on a salty, roasted peanut kick right now. We purchased good-sized bags of peanuts on Monday, and two are left. Indeed, by the end of the weekend, they will be gone. Since I began a low-carb way of eating in August 2011, improving my health so much that we decided to travel the world. I’ve only had a few occasions where I have “cheated.”

Please don’t give me credit for a tremendous amount of self-control and discipline. I have been highly motivated. If I went back to the typical  American low-fat, high-carb diet, undoubtedly in no time at all, I would be in pain and unable to continue on our journey. That’s how this significant change worked for me. It may not work for everyone. (However, I am not exempt from experiencing painful conditions, such as my current painful dry socket from a tooth extraction ten days ago. Nope, it’s not better yet).

With this degree of motivation, it’s been relatively easy for me to give up my old food addictions, such as; eating a big bowl of high-carb, fat-free, sugar-free ice cream at night after dinner or eating high carb, high sugar winter squash with dinner almost every night, which was an excellent way to get full, while eating piles of green vegetables with small amounts of lean protein. It kept my weight down but made me have high blood sugar and be pre-diabetic.

Benny, Henny, and Lenny stop by less frequently than many other warthog families. Where’s Penny?

If I ate like that now, I’d surely be diabetic based on a solid propensity from family genetics. My blood pressure and blood sugar spike if I eat too many vegetables, unsweetened Greek yogurt (which I love but don’t eat), and fruit.  I suppose I am one of few who checks these readings every week to ensure I am doing ok. After all, I have coronary artery disease, which is exacerbated by high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  I am trying to stay alive. No food is worth increasing my risk of a heart attack or stroke.

On the other hand, Tom naturally has shallow blood pressure and blood sugar. He can eat anything he wants with little impact on his blood sugar or blood pressure. His family history is primarily longevity and good health. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t gain weight when eating high carb and sugary foods. Like everyone else, he can easily suffer from the effects of excess weight and body fat, and other conditions commensurate with being overweight.

At 4:00 pm (1600 hrs), we’re heading over to Rita and Gerhard’s for sundowners. Their holiday home is located on Hornbill, a house we rented while here in 2013/2014. I won’t be drinking any wine today and haven’t for days since I am on pain medication for the dry socket. Hopefully, it will heal soon, and I can enjoy being pain-free and back to my  “old self” once again.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2020:

The Golden Temple Amritsar, India
We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #184. The Golden Temple Amritsar, India, is seen through a decorative archway on the religious grounds of the historic Sikh location. Please click here to see more photos from Amritsar. Please click here for more on the year-ago post.

Hahaha, it’s so busy in the garden, I can’t get anything done!!!…It was almost two years ago…Can’t stop thinking about it…

    Broken Horn is persistent about pellets, scaring off any intruders with his horns.

I am sitting at the big table on the veranda and can’t stop laughing. There are so many animals stopping by I can hardly type a word for today’s post. Between Little, Broken Horn, ThickNeck/BadLeg, Spikey, and his mom, 25 helmeted guinea fowls, Frank, Go-Away birds, and other warthogs and bushbucks, I can’t sit still long enough to type a word.  I keep getting up for more pellets and seeds.

The sights and sounds of the bush grab my attention, especially knowing that in 59 days, we will be leaving South Africa, unsure as to when we’ll return. It could be one year. It could be two. It’s all subject to what transpires with Covid-19. We do know that beyond the end of February, after friends Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida, whether or not our cruises to Japan sail or not, we will be leaving the US to continue on our journey.

A few Go-Away birds have been hanging around for days. We love their funny sounds.

Of course, if Covid continues to rage throughout the world, and if there is nowhere safe or without restrictions for us to visit, we may have to rethink the possibility of plans outside the US. The alternative has been our long-range plan to travel to the US, and in the worst case, the time to do that may be coming sooner rather than later. At this point, we don’t have a clue.

As for most of us, Covid-19 determines our future fate, especially regarding travel. We’ve often thought about renting an RV to eventually travel the US when we were getting too old for long-distance travel, hauling heavy bags, and flying on countless red-eye flights. Is the handwriting on the wall and that time may be sooner than we’d hoped?

This tiny bushbuck couldn’t have been more than a month old but already knew about pellets. Her mom is in the background.

It will be less than two years ago that we stayed in Apache Junction with Tom’s sisters. We particularly loved the days and evenings we spent with them, socializing and having fun. Now, as the days tick away for us to leave Africa, where we’ll be soon, looms heavily on my mind.

But, the days in-between those delightfully fun social interactions were hard for me. It reminded me too much of what our lives would be like if we gave up our journey and settled somewhere in the US. After all, we’ve seen and done. Such a thought is far removed from our reality. The trips to the supermarket, Walgreens, Target, the bank, and more remind me of a life I struggle to embrace at this point.

Bossy and Broken Horn, together in the garden.

We never imagined our life of world travel would end due to a pandemic. Who imagined they’d lose their jobs, work from home, home school their kids, and wear face masks every time they stepped out the door? Who imagined their social lives would be small and fraught with worry and concern over “catching” the virus?

Even those of us vaccinated are still proceeding with caution in everything we do, everywhere we go, when the media and even science continue to throw us curve balls on what we can and can’t do, what is safe for ourselves, and our family. Will a booster jab be necessary? No one seems to know for sure. When will the numbers come down? Are the numbers real or exaggerated? None of us knows for sure. We live in a constant state of limbo.

Lots of pigs in the garden!

Many of our friends who usually spend time in Marloth Park never came here, frightened of their fate, their safety. Are we no different in deciding to leave when we don’t even know if it’s safer in the US or not? Based on the stats from Worldometer, the US is still in the #1 spot on the list of countries. Why would we assume it’s safer there?

Arizona, where we’re going in 59 days, is listed in the 12th position out of 56 states and US territories. There’s a large senior population in Arizona.  From the web:

“The number of elderly (persons over the age of sixty years) in Arizona will grow from a current level of around 900,000 in 2000, representing some 18 percent of the population to 1.8 million and 24 percent in 2020 and almost three million and 26 percent of the population in 2050.”

If 24% of the current population in Arizona is senior citizens, what percentage of those are recent cases of Covid-19?

From this article:

Arizona’s older population could mean more COVID-19 deaths.

That’s a higher share of the elderly than some states that have so far seen more significant outbreaks than Arizona. About 18.6% of people in California are over age 60, 19.1% in Colorado, 20.6% in Washington, and 21.2% in New York.

“Those that are over the age of 60 or those that have other significant medical issues are the ones most likely to suffer that mortality rate from COVID-19,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, said. “The age of a country or a state or even a town will determine the death rate.”

One Wart, a regular visitor to the garden.

No, we don’t dwell on this every day. Of course, we will continue to avoid a sense of doomsday and be optimistic for the future. But now, as the time to return to the US nears, it’s unavoidable to free ourselves of such thoughts when we are out in public and at gatherings, just as we’ve done here in Marloth Park.

And, as I sit here today, surrounded by our wildlife friends, I already feel the sense of loss I’ll feel leaving here. If it weren’t for the necessity of going every 90 days for a visa stamp, undoubtedly, we’d have stayed longer.  But, without a doubt, we’ll have a good time in Apache Junction, Arizona, with Tom’s siblings and then on to Florida for the wedding.

Life goes on. Thank God for that!!!

Photo from one year ago today, August 23, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #153. This is St. Mary’s church in Bampton, known as Church of St. Michael of All Angels, as shown in the series Downton Abbey, where Mary married Matthew, Edith was jilted at the altar, and eventually, Matthew was buried. For more photos, please click here.