Wednesday was a travel day…Now amid more safaris at Kanha National Park…

Note: All of today’s photos were taken from the car on yesterday’s road trip. No captions needed.

Yesterday, as I wrote this post we were in a crisp clean white SUV with air-con comparable to other vehicles that have been transporting us from one location to another.

It was travel day once again with an expected 5½ hours drive time until we’d reach our destination and yet another safari camp, Tuli Tiger Resort, this time to Kanha National Park where we’d be spending another four nights with two game drives each day.

The drive is interrupted every three or four kilometers by small towns lined with shops and vendors selling fruit and vegetables, clothing, and a variety of tourist goods and household goods for the locals.

Cows, dogs, and goats wander through the streets aimlessly in search of the next meal and women walk with baskets of food and other items atop their heads, while men congregate in small groups discussing the events of the day.
The women wear colorful Hindu costumes impeccably draped and pleated regardless of their income level of poverty. The beautiful garb us unlike any other we’ve seen in the world. Although each town may have its own personality the premise of the Hindu philosophy is evident in every aspect of creating a certain familiarity from town to town.

Once back out on the highway, the landscape is brown and somewhat desolate, scattered with trees and vegetation of one sort or another.
It’s winter time here and until the monsoon season arrives everything the grasses remain brown and less hearty for the cows and other animals in search of good grazing fields.

With nary a patch of green for meandering cows and sheep, they often seek out public areas in hopes of food donations from the locals who appear at times to be very generous with their sacred cows. Hindus have a love of all creatures, both human and animals.

People often smile and wave as we pass through. School children in freshly pressed school uniforms play together in the streets without a toy or a ball and yet seem happy and content in their lives.

Their simple life is accepted with a powerful faith not so much as a religion but as a way of life leaving them grateful and accepting of whatever lifestyle they’ve been provided.

We are humbled and in awe of their dedication and their strength as they work their way through any obstacles life presents them. Many have no access to medical care, modern conveniences, clean water, and in many cases such taken for granted commodities such as electricity.

These individuals and families work together however they can to create the best life possible without complaint, without disharmony and without a longing for what could have been.

I often think of all the times I’d grumbled when making a call for customer service to end up with a heavily-accented Indian person on the line, often working in a hot uncomfortable boiler room taking calls for various digital and computer equipment companies all the way from India to provide customer service for companies in the US. Now, I have an entirely different perspective.

In a land of 1.3 billion people there’s is little to no government subsidies such as welfare, food stamps or government assistance. Overall, Indian people are on their own.

We’ve seen fewer homeless people here in India in the almost month we have been here than we saw in an equal time in the US. That speaks for itself and the powerful work ethic and life values imposed by their Hindu strength and principles.

This morning at 5:30 am we began our first morning safari from the resort. We didn’t see any tigers yet but we have five more safaris scheduled at this location, including another today at 2:30 pm. 

By the time we return for the afternoon game drive at 6:30 pm, we’ll freshen up for dinner, dine at 8:00 pm and head to bed shortly thereafter. It’s a busy and exhausting day but typical in the lives of wildlife enthusiasts like ourselves.

Have a fantastic day and night!

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2019:

The kudus give us “the look,” which means “more pellets please.” For more photos, please click here.

Day #203 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More exciting safari photos from Kenya into Tanzania…

Breakfast in the savanna, wild animals surrounding us. Presented by our guide Anderson, there were croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

A cool morning in the bush.

Today’s old post from this date in 2013, made me swoon with delight. Memories of our glorious experience in the Maasai Mara continued which, as shown in today’s photos, a stop for breakfast in the savanna, topped off the adventure in an indescribable manner.

A cool guy in the bush.

To be outdoors in the crisp morning air, in plain sight of lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more, while we both, and our safari-mates were in awe of this exquisite event, simple in its concept, magnificent in its enactment. The thought of being so exposed to nature, most of which were always on the hunt for the next morsel of food, there we were dining on human food befitting a fine Sunday brunch with its many choices.

As we left the area of Camp Olonana, cows were in abundance. In the Maasai, Mara. Cows serve as food for the Maasai tribes. (A story follows soon about their lifestyle and their low carb, grain-free, starch-free, sugar -free diet)!

Of course, my way of eating was considered in the chef’s preparation of breakfast with a few items I could eat, including scrambled eggs,  sausages, and real cream for our coffee. Seated on cloth camping stools, we all savored every morsel of our meal while sipping on the still-hot perfectly brewed coffee.

Hot air balloon rides are common in the Maasai Mara. We’d considered this option but decided we’d rather spend the time on the ground with better up-close photo opportunities with the wildlife.

Our surroundings were blissful, as we relaxed in the cool morning, knowing full-well that later in the day, the baking of the sun would heat the air along with the vegetation spewed humidity to accompany the heat, for yet another day of scorching temperatures.

The eland antelope, fairly common in the Maasai Mara, posed for us in the morning sun.

The six of us, determined adventurers, never complained about the outrageously bumpy rides across the savanna when Anderson spotted a point of interest at distance to race across the uneven terrain, crossing over rocks, potholes, and bushes of all heights and sizes. At the end of each day, we were surprised we weren’t achy and in pain having literally exercised rarely used muscles as we bounced about, on the morning and afternoon hours-long safaris each day, except for a lunch break back at the camp midday.

Mom and baby eland.

Later in the day, we made an exceptionally bumpy two-hour drive to Tanzania to hopefully see the tail-end of the Great Migration, as Anderson described, which presented some interesting challenges and surprises we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Anderson busied himself setting up our breakfast only allowing any of us to set up the camp stools. Notice his well-equipped picnic basket. The stainless steel containers were filled with our still-warm breakfast, thoughtfully prepared by Ambrose, the chef, very early in the morning.

As I write here now, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings game on NFL GamePass, the service he pays for each year to stream the games from any location in the world providing we have a decent WiFi signal. The game actually transpires during the night while we’re sleeping so each Monday morning, he’s excited to hook up his laptop to the TV using the HDMI. I do the post, looking at the game’s highlights as I prepare the post, while he’s glued to the screen.

Anderson took this next photo of us, a little blurry but worth keeping, the only shot we had of our group of safari mates.

He makes a point of avoiding the news and Facebook on Sunday nights since he doesn’t like to know the final score in advance of watching the game. It would take away the anticipation and excitement.

This hyena was curious as to our intentions.

Yesterday, I finished the fifth and final 2000 word post which ended up at over 3600 words. It was an article about how to travel long term with or without medical issues, insurance concerns, prescription refills, emergency solutions, and seeking medical care while abroad. It’s a comprehensive post, centered around our personal experiences after all these years. It will be available tomorrow or the following day.

Cheetah blocking the road.

Now I can get back to editing old posts which easily will take many more months. It’s become a part of my daily routine which honestly I don’t look forward to, but do nonetheless.

Such a relaxing day, lounging with the family!

As for the package, this morning I received an email from FedEx stating the package will be delivered by Wednesday. We’ll see if that will actually transpire.

Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.

Have a great day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2019:

We walked in the pouring rain under the Chepstow Town Gate in Chepstow Wales to a restaurant for lunch. We stayed for 11 nights in a holiday home in the nearby village of Shirenewton. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #202 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Lovely lions…

Mom growled over her successful hunting day, without a single male in view, confiscating her kill.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Seeing lions in the wild will always be magical for us. Having the opportunity to take photos of these majestic animals in their natural habitat only exemplifies this blissful sensation. Some of the most exciting moments while on safari over the past seven years, since our first safari in 2013, left us reeling with excitement with a divine sense of satisfaction.

Life is good for this female.

After all, isn’t the safari enthusiast, especially in Africa, on the hunt for that specific opportunity? This is not intended to negate the exquisite joy in watching a herd of elephants cross the road in the wild or a pair of rhinos lounging under the shade of a tree on a hot sultry summer day.

It all matters. It all elicits a rush of endorphins that few sightings in nature are capable of providing. Right now as I write here we have NatGeo playing Destination Wild in the background with penguins in CapeTown, South Africa, and I can’t help but stop to look, that same rush of enthusiasm washing over me.

The cubs took a break to relax.

Thoughts of Antarctica flood my mind every time I see or hear anything about penguins, elephant seals, killer whales, and seals, reminiscent of our stunning experiences in 2018, never to be forgotten. But, observing lions, more readily accessible in Africa will always remain an objective when we return to Africa, hopefully sometime in the near future.

The lion photos we share today, each of which were taken and posted in one day on this same date seven years ago. Each shot is easily recalled, my arms tired from holding up the camera for hours at a time, and my enthusiasm tempered to avoid making any sounds of excitement that could easily distract our subjects.

Moments later they were back at their meal again.

As time goes by, we both learned more and more about taking advantage of the opportune moments for taking good photos. As explained in our recent 2000+ word post of a few days ago, found here. No, we aren’t technologically advanced and expert photographers but we did learn to capture shots that appealed to us as shown here today.

For any of our new readers, we must emphasize that we DO NOT go on “hunting” safaris where wild animals are brutally murdered for “trophies.” I have no problem with hunting for food especially when animals need to be culled to save the remaining population. But, hunting and killing endangered animals is far beyond my comprehension.

The cubs enjoyed the meal while mom stayed back keeping an eye out for danger.

In Africa, there are countless such safaris for “trophy” hunters and many so-called “farms” that breed wildlife for this very purpose. Who are these people that get a thrill from these killings? Who would want to shoot and kill an elephant, a giraffe, or a lion? Honestly, I couldn’t befriend such a person, especially after all of our joyful photo safaris over the years.

While here in India, we had the opportunity to see tigers in the wild while on safari. Of course, this was thrilling and fulfilling. But, somehow lions remain in our hearts as one of our favorite sightings and subsequent photos, perhaps due to the fact that they will be more readily available for our viewing in times to come.

Tom, on safari, drinking a beer in the late afternoon, in awe of what we’ve experienced, having never expected it to be so rewarding and fulfilling in many aspects.

We won’t be returning to India in our future travels. During the first seven weeks that we were here, we scoured important sites throughout the country, satisfying our desire to learn as much as possible in a short time, only cut short by COVID-19. Had we been able to continue on, we would have had an additional almost three weeks which we forfeited when lockdown began.

This morning, I received an email from FedEx stating our package cleared customs and will be on the move. We’ll see how that rolls out.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2019:

While in Torquay, England we spotted this impressive design being made by a skilled sand sculptor. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

Day #197 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago today…


This is a Topi only found in the Maasai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari experiences in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Please bear with us as we share repeated photos as we work our way through October 2013. It was that single experience while on safari many times in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, living in a luxury tent (photos of the tent will follow in a few days), that everything changed for us.

We could sit for hours and watch the antics of the hippos. Their lethargic movement and playful personalities are a pleasure to behold.

In tomorrow’s fourth 2000 word post (only one more to go), we’ll explain this further in regard to taking photos of wildlife. It’s a long post to which we’ll be adding more repeated photos but will illustrate how being amateur photographers has enhanced our world journey.

It was seven years ago today that we were entrenched in the exquisite glory of being on safari twice a day, while never disappointed. Throughout my life, I swooned over photos of animals in the wild, wondering when and if I’d ever have the good fortune or be brave enough to embark on such a journey.

A lone hippo searching for a morsel on the ground.

Little did I know at the time that bravery wasn’t a necessary element in experiencing the joys of safari. Instead, it is definitely a sense of adventure, which with a professional guide and later on, as our own guides, presented little risk with a multitude of thrills. At one point in our posts, I equated it to having an “E” ticket at Disneyland (remember, old-timers, like me?) and the thrills were seemingly never-ending.

Looking back at the photos now, especially while outrageously confined in lockdown in a hotel in India for 6½ months, these photos still send a rush of endorphins through my bloodstream, making me realize how addicted I’ve become to this amazing rush after all of these years.

 We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept on our safaris as a reality of the life cycle. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle.

Each day on Facebook I peruse dozens of photos from various safaris in Africa and countless photos of wildlife in Marloth Park from the many friends we left behind. Many of us belong to various Marloth Park FB groups and the photos make me long to return in a way I can barely describe.

When I think that perhaps someday soon we can return to see our animal and human friends, shop in a grocery store, cook our own meals, savor a glass of red wine or cocktail at happy hour, and move about freely in open spaces, my heart skips a beat.

The Mara River. Our tent was located on the shore where sounds of hippos filled the air beginning around 4:00 am as they awoke.

On top of that, at any time we’d like, we can make the 20-minute drive to the Crocodile Gate to enter Kruger National Park to excitedly search for the next big rush; elephants, lions, cape buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, most of which we don’t see as readily in Marloth Park.

The well-rounded experiences of that location is all we could ever dream of and, without a doubt, was where we had the most exciting, enduring, and blissful experiences in our almost eight years of world travel (as of October 31st). Whether it was dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant or dinner at our own table or theirs, with friends, sitting by the braai (bonfire), or even those special times alone on the veranda, just the two of us, reveling in every visitor that graced our garden during the day or evening, it all was special.

 No swimming in this river!

Will we appreciate it more now than we did then, during the total 18 months we spent in Marloth Park, in 2013, 2018, 2019? I don’t think so. We treasured every single day and night, just like we’ll do once again, sometime in the future. When? We don’t have a clue. But, we wait patiently for news on the horizon when borders will open and we can be on our way.

It won’t be easy getting there. It’s a long flight and most likely with COVID-19 protocols, it will be 35 hours or more from airport to airport and then, a five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. Apparently, the closer (one hour drive) airport of Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger won’t be opening for some time. Time will tell.

 “Please pinch me,” I told Tom at that time. “I must be dreaming!”

Right now, our biggest concern is getting that package delivered. The hotel manager is helping us and working directly with FedEx. Hopefully, today, we’ll hear something. In the meantime, it’s the status quo, same old, same old.

Have a peaceful day and please stay safe and healthy.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2019:

A goose with a knot on her head on the farm in Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day #196 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Photos from Kenya in 2013…

Anderson, our safari guide in the Maasai Mara, took us on an unplanned 90-minute safari rather than wait at the airstrip for another couple to arrive on a later flight. This was one of the first photos we took along the Mara River. Our tent was located on the banks of the river where the hippos awakened us with their hysterical morning calls. We couldn’t believe our eyes or ears.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Anderson referred to these ostracized male cape buffaloes (one of the Big Five) as Retired Generals. They’ve lost the battle for dominance and are forced out of the herd to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. Kind of sad. He gave us a nice pose, hungry not only for vegetation but also for attention.

It was seven years ago today, we embarked on our very first safari, in this case in the wildlife-rich Maasai Mara in Kenya. This life-changing adventure will always remain in our minds as the stepping stone into a world we only dreamed about, never imagining that safaris would become such an integral aspect of our world travels.

I love warthogs. Vegetarians, they amble around for the tiniest morsels. They are delightful to watch.

Also, included in today’s post, are photos from my first experience of flying in a small airplane. I was terrified, but our pilot, Edwin, who reassured me when he spotted the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro when I had an opportunity to take the photo shown here today. Ironically, this event cured me of my fear of flying in small planes.

I was nervous when I saw them, adding fuel to our small plane, which was fueled by using a hand crank, typically used in WW2, according to Tom’s recollection of history.

In our enthusiasm to share these experiences, we’ve probably posted many of these photos on many past posts. Yesterday I finished writing the fourth of the five 2000 word posts I had to do for our web developers who’ve been working on our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to provide us with a better presence in searches on the web, ultimately bringing more readers to our site.

View from the plane after leveling off.

When that particular 2000 word post is uploaded this coming week, I’ll be adding more of the same photos you’ll see over the next few days, as we re-share photos from the Maasai Mara experience as it occurred in 2013. Please bear with us for the repetition.

Seeing Mount Kilimanjaro changed everything for me. The inside of the plane was so small, it was difficult to get a good shot maneuvering around the other passengers since we were on the opposite side.

During these circumstances of COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not easy to avoid repetition, when we have nary a new photo to share of anything in our present-day lives, which for us, like many of you, consists of the routine and repetition of many functions and activities of daily life.

This appeared to be some type of horse farm. Look at the reflection of our plane on the ground! What a sight! I couldn’t believe we were inside that tiny thing!

This morning, I spoke to the hotel manager who has personally taken on the responsibility of getting our package situation resolved. We are so grateful for his help and kindness. He’s even got his wife, who doesn’t work for the hotel, involved in trying to figure a way for us to pay the customs taxes and fees. We’re hopeful.

At the moment as I type, Tom has his laptop plugged into the TV and is watching the Minnesota Vikings game from yesterday. With the huge time difference between the US and India, he can’t watch it until Monday mornings since the game plays while we’re sleeping. I enjoy watching the games so I keep an eye on it as it’s playing. But, the disappointment over their losing record, is discouraging, making me less interested.

After three takes off and three landings, we finally arrived to meet our guide, Anderson who’s lived in the Masai Mara region all of his life. What a guy!  We loved him the moment we met him, spending the next several days with him.

Last night, my dinner was a huge improvement. Most nights, except for the once-a-week tiny piece of salmon I order, I have chicken, usually chicken breasts which I don’t care for. I asked for other chicken parts since I prefer dark meat and they served me a good-sized plate of deboned dark meat in a decent-sized portion. Why didn’t I ask for this in the past?

Well, I tried. In the past, I’ve asked for the dark meat to include chicken thighs and chicken legs. They always stated they didn’t have them, just breasts. Last night when I ordered I said, “I’d like chicken but NO breasts.” Somehow, with the language barrier, this made sense to them, and a plate of deboned chicken thighs and legs arrived, well-roasted and moist, along with a good-sized portion of sauteed mushrooms.

My knees were still a little wobbly from the flights. I was thrilled to be on the ground, meeting our guide Anderson for our time in Onolana. At that point, I knew I’d be less fearful of the return flight.

I’ve been saving two hard-boiled eggs from my breakfast to eat with my dinner since it never was enough. Last night I didn’t eat the eggs when I was full for the first time since I gave up the curried chicken and paneer makhani, several weeks ago to reduce the number of carbohydrates I’d been consuming. The pain in my legs has improved but is not gone. ye. It could take another month or two until I get full relief.

Today, I’ll begin working on the 5th and final 2000 word post. It will be great to have this obligation behind me.

Have a good day filled with hope for the future!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2019:
That morning, at the farm in Devon, when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables and berries we used for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Day #175 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Amazing memories in frustrating times…

The lodge at Sanctuary Olonana where we’ll experience our first safari in October 2013.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Recalling the day we booked our first safari while sitting on the veranda/living room outdoors at the holiday home in Kenya, is as easy as if it was yesterday. Our enthusiasm coupled with a tinge of fear made our hearts race. One never knew what to expect going on safari. And watching YouTube videos wouldn’t be helpful at all when so many consist of dangers encountered while on safari.

Our hope was to see The Great Migration but once we arrived in Tanzania, the bulk of it had moved on, although we did see the tail end.

Now, seven years later, we’ve been on more safaris than we can count in several African countries including Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Morocco, and now, in India at three different national parks. We’re not trying to break any safari expedition’s count or race. We simply revel in the vast experiences we’ve had over the years.

Our first safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in  Kenya still remains our favorite of all the other experiences. A few times, we’ve been asked how many times we’ve been on safari and counting all the self-drives we’d done in Kruger National Park, most likely, we’re well over 100 safaris.

We went on two game drives each day, one in the morning from 6:30 am until lunchtime and another in the early evening from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Often, meals will be served in the bush, as we and the other guests feast our eyes on the surrounding wildlife.

The bouncing, the dust flying in our faces, the jolts, and fast turns make a safari as unusual adventure requiring a but of stamina and endurance. After each several hour-long safaris in the jeep-type vehicles with open sides, we felt as if we’d been exercising for hours.

Oddly, with my newer Fitbit, when we were on safari over 12 times in India, my readings showed I’d walked almost 30,000 steps each day from the mere rough ride in the vehicle. This made us laugh when we’d spent the majority of the day sitting in the vehicle.

Most of these photos were from the Sanctuary Olonana website. .

Getting in and out of a safari jeep can be challenging for those with mobility issues and unsteadiness. While we were on safari in India, it was only 11 months after my open-heart surgery. My legs weren’t stable after two surgeries only nine months earlier, and my breastbone felt as if it hadn’t entirely healed.

Even my arms were still weak and guarded. Riding in the vehicle was challenging when holding on tight which was imperative in many situations as our guide worked his/her way around rough roads, potholes, and uneven terrain. Somehow, the prospect of spotting tigers in the wild was sufficiently exciting to keep me from thinking of any potential discomfort.

In the event of rain or if we were able to be inside air-conditioned comfort. The lodge at the camp provides indoor activities, a bar, and a restaurant although as it turned out we were on safari for the bulk of the day. Our living quarters were lavish private tents on the banks of the Mara River, overlooking families of hippos splashing and snorting in the water. We could hear the hippo sounds starting around 3:00 am each morning.

Now after walking 5 miles a day (8 km) for so many months, I know I’d do a whole lot better. I continue to work my arms while walking to build up strength and resilience and staying mindful of good posture and stance.

As for the Maasai Mara, named after the Maasai people of Kenya, a tribe known for their colorful red garb and unusual diet consisting primarily of cow’s blood, it is also known for the Mara River which millions of wild animals, mainly wildebeest cross each year on their annual migration.

This is a typical interior of one of the permanent tents, outfitted with full bathrooms, electricity, free WiFi, and mosquito nets.  We always share one bed when there’s two, using the other for our “stuff.”  We brought our laptops, two cameras, binoculars, and other digital equipment, writing here each day with many photos.

Ah, my heart aches for such an experience now. The dust in my face, the jarring ride, and the challenge of getting in and out of the jeep are insignificant compared to the joy of being witness to this world of wonder once again.

As we continue over the next several weeks, sharing photos from that stunning expedition, we’ll be reminded once again of this exceptional adventure, unlike anything we’d ever done in our old lives. And now, who knows what the future has in store for us in months or years to come? We hold our breath in anticipation of leaving India to head to other lands with other joys, many of which are almost impossible to describe.

We were fortunate to see many Mr. or Ms. Rhino while in the Maasai Mara.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2019:

The Towne Centre Theatre in Wakebridge, Cornwall where we watched the Downton Abbey movie the day it was released in the UK. For more details, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Day #173 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…A learning experience in Kenya…

Hesborn, our houseman, in Kenya stopped by Wednesday morning, after a full night of rain, showed us this carnivorous, stinging, dangerous creature which actually has less than 100 legs, and yet is still referred to as a centipede.  He warned us not to walk in the grass after rain. A sting from this ugly creature will require a trip to an emergency room. These not only walk but also are known to climb up bedposts. Oh.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya for three months. For more details from that post, please click here.

Living in Kenya for three months beginning in September 2013 was the best possible introduction we could have asked for in order to adapt to life in Africa. As many of us are well-aware Africa is an entirely different and unique environment from that we were used to, spending the majority of our lives living in the US. This may well be the case for many citizens of the world who are living in modern-day, developed countries with infrastructure and lifestyle commensurate to that in the US.

Non-venomous. This good-sized lizard came to call as we lounged in our outdoor living room. Thanks for the nice pose, Ms. or Mr. Lizard.

Arriving in Kenya on September 2, 2013, we were in for a rude awakening and culture shock while we riding for an hour, in a well-worn van from the Mombasa Airport to Diani Beach, the location of our holiday home we’d booked for three months. We chose to visit Kenya in order to eventually make our way to the Maasai Mara National Reserve to embark on our first of many wildlife photography safaris.

In the next several days, we’ll share the photos and the stories of how and where we decided to stay for this big adventure, one I’d dreamed of all my life. Of course, the exciting photos of our many safaris in the Maasai Mara, an experience we’ll never forget, will be re-posted soon as we continue to share our past experiences while in lockdown.

Mildly venomous. Hesborn referred to this as a millipede. We didn’t bother to count the number of legs. Apparently, these are harmless, although if walking on a person, they leave a trail of “itchy liquid.”

During that hour-long drive to the holiday home, I was practically hanging out the window of the vehicle in the sheer wonder of what my eyes beheld, scenes of which neither of us had ever witnessed in the past. The people, the cows, the buffalo, the goats, the pigs, and the chickens walking along the crowded pot-hole ridden highway, sent me into an awe-stricken state unlike any other in my life.

Often tourists comment that they felt uncomfortable seeing the poverty, the way of life, the commotion, and the traffic in what was formerly referred to as “third world countries.” Witnessing these scenes sent me into a jaw-dropping state of curiosity and wonder. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s heartbreaking to see the poverty up close and personal.

A millipede in relation to the tip of my shoe. One wouldn’t want to snuff this out with their foot if discovered in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

For me, it represented the strength and resiliency of a people who were making the best of a seemingly impossible situation with many thriving in the best manner possible. Perhaps, that was my overly optimistic viewpoint, but it served me well when over these past eight years, we experienced many similar scenarios, not unlike much of which we’d seen in India during the two-month tour.

On that day, the shutter on the camera was clicking nonstop. I shot hundreds of photos in that first hour and thousands more during the three months we spent in the country along with the precious time spent in the fantastic Maasai Mara National Reserve, one of the most pristine and wildlife-rich places in the world. I’d go there again if we could.

As Alfred, our driver for the three months drove us to the stores, we passed many similar buildings.,

Those challenging days and nights in Diani Beach primed us for the harsh realities of Africa along with its life-changing wonders we beheld in one way or another almost every day. Whether it was the curious facts about a venomous insect as shown in today’s main photo or the exquisite heart-pounding experience of taking a photo of a lion enjoying his zebra-lunch a mere 3 meters from our vehicle. It had it all.

It’s these run-down lean-to type shacks that depict the aspect of a third world country, many without running water and electricity. And there we were in what was considered an upscale resort community of Diani Beach.

Once a person gets Africa in their blood, especially those who are deeply moved by its magic, it’s hard to shake. And now, as we remain in lockdown, just eight days short of six months, the only place I long to be is, back there in Africa, amid the wildlife, the vegetation, and it’s amazing people.

The Nakumatt grocery store is guarded by armed military security who, for security reasons, refused to be photographed. The car was thoroughly examined by armed guards, including using a mirror on the long pole to search for explosives. We were searched and wanded before entering the market. This was the day I tossed my handbag, never to be used again in Kenya. From that day, Tom carried my lipstick and passport in his pockets.

Perhaps, in time, we’ll be able to return to the heat, the bugs, the snakes, the excitement interspersed with a tinge of danger in the wild, and the blissful experience of seeing nature in its finest form, both human and animal.

Stay safe. Stay healthy and have hope…

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Photo from one year ago today, September 12, 2019:

Blue sky, blue sea, and craggy cliffs in Port Isaac, known as Port Wen in the TV series, Doc Martin. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where in the world will we go when the Mumbai airport opens to international travel and possibly other airports?…

Zebra Day in the garden in Marloth Park.

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 May 12, 2016. Please click here for more details.

Our friends in South Africa continue to send us reports that indicate the possibility of the airport opening are very slim in the foreseeable future. Based on a report out yesterday, it could be as long as a year away from now.

Not only does this prevent us from traveling to SA when the airports open in India, but this totally destroys tourism in a country that desperately needs the billions of dollars generated by international visitors.

We’re frequently touching base with friends in South Africa who are extremely frustrated over the severe restrictions imposed on citizens and the lack of encouragement for the future from a failing government and economy.

This is a Blue Kingfisher we spotted on this date in 2016 in Sumbersari, Bali. Click here for the post.

The likelihood of us making it to South Africa in the next 12 months is relatively slim. Perhaps, I’m ahead of myself here on this topic. There’s no word on airports in India opening for international travel nor are there many countries we may consider staying while we continue to wait it out.

In any case, we’d like to go somewhere we’d particularly enjoy in the interim. Right now, islands in the Indian Ocean seem to pique our interest the most. The thought of an ocean view, the ability to shop and cook our own meals, even if we have to stay away from others, is especially appealing at this point.
We never had an opportunity to socialize in many locations and yet we still had wonderful experiences, reveling in our surroundings, particularly when we had an ocean view, a must wherever we go next.

If you watched yesterday’s boring video of my walk in the corridors (click the link here) with the view out the window, it’s easy to understand how important a view will be to us going forward.

Yes, we have creature comforts while in lockdown in this hotel room in Mumbai; air-con; comfortable bed and seating (we now have two comfy chairs); boring, although repetitious, fresh-tasting meals; cleaning service; kindly staff and above all, relatively good safety from COVID-19 if we stay in our room and our cleaners and room service staff stay free of the virus.

With mountains in Java obstructing the final setting of the sun, we relished every sunset scene.

As we all know, one’s state of mind is the essence of our perceived quality of life regardless of our circumstances. And, being in lockdown for us, for you, isn’t necessarily an upbeat set of circumstances.

Here’s a list of the islands in the Indian Ocean at this link. Obviously, the majority of the islands are too small for us to visit with limited services, WiFi, access to shopping, etc.

However, among this list there are a few possibilities;
1. Madagascar (six-month visa)
2. Maldives (30-day visa, extendable to 90-days)
3. Mauritius (60-day visa)
4. Reunion Island (90-day visa)
5. Seychelles (90-day visa, extendable up to one year)

In checking information for each of these locations, it appears Seychelles is out of the question due to the high cost of holiday homes on the luxury island. We couldn’t find any possibilities within our budget other than hotels. After this long hotel stay in Mumbai, we have no interest in staying in a hotel for any length of time.

The Maldives, with its 30-day visa and also highly-priced holiday homes with a few exceptions may be a short term possibility. Mauritius may be a possibility with good holiday home options, but with a 60-day visa.

Tom took this distant photo when he spotted this peculiar boat that appears “sunken” in the middle. At the time we had no idea what type of boat this was.  Later, we discovered it was the design of a typical fishing boat in Bali.

The best option based on the availability of reasonably priced oceanview holiday homes and a lengthy visa allowance leaves us with Madagascar on our mind. Plus, after watching David Attenborough’s story on Madagascar with its abundant and unusual wildlife, the handwriting may be on the wall for this location.

Madagascar is located slightly northeast of South Africa. We could stay there until South Africa reopens their borders, all the while free from crowds, on the beach, and able to prepare our own meals in addition to opportunities for a wide array of safaris during our stay.

Well, we can dream, can’t we? We’d love to hear from some of you by commenting at the bottom of any post as to what you are dreaming of at this point. Feel free to comment anonymously if you’d prefer.

May your day be peaceful and filled with dreams for the future.

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Photo from two years ago today, May 12, 2018:

There was no photo one year ago as we traveled to Ireland. Instead, the following: In the shallow area of the Victoria Falls, we were gifted with a rainbow but this was the first of many we saw throughout the day. Please see here for more photos from that date, two years ago.


“Paradise on Earth” back to its roots… A haven for travelers after the storm…

Where else in the world could you get a photos like this of a giraffe, taken in Marloth Park in 2019? Only Marloth Park offers such wonders on a daily basis, often referred to as Paradise on Earth.

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.


Videos will resume in tomorrow’s post.

During times of Covid-19, we have been communicating back and forth with our dear friend, Louise Thiart with whom we became special friends after meeting her on December 2, 2013, when we first arrived in Marloth Park to rent a holiday home for three months.
As owners/property managers of multiple properties in the stunning wildlife conservancy, literally a traveler’s “paradise on Earth,” Louise exhibited the most customer-service-orientated and welcoming encounter one could imagine possible. 

From that first encounter, our relationship grew into what has become a treasured lifelong friendship with both Louise and husband Danie. On day two after our arrival, Danie arrived at our door with an invitation to meet Jabula Restaurant and Lodge owner, Leon.
Danie had arranged for Leon to pick us up at 5:00 pm that evening for a safari-type tour of Marloth Park and take us to dinner afterward at his restaurant. During that three-month period, we hadn’t rented a car. 

Instead, we used the services of a local driver Louise had recommended, nicknamed Okie Dokie, with whom, we’ve also stayed still in touch and absolutely adore. Good friends are made in Marloth Park.
We’d rented the bush house at 677 Hornbill, found at this link as one of many properties described on Louise’s site at this link. The three-month experience was indescribable with myriad experiences we could hardly believe possible amid the wildlife in Marloth Park and also in Kruger National Park, a 20-minute drive down the road. 

(For photos and stories during this period if using a cell phone, please see our archives at the right side of our page, beginning December 2, 2013, after following the above steps at the beginning of this post, entitled “Note.” If using an iPad, or computer, the archives are easily available by year and month by clicking on the small arrow next to the year and month to see the myriad photos and experiences during those three months).
When we left Marloth Park in February 2014, we were sad to leave. Without a doubt, visiting Marloth Park was the most exciting, inspiring, and heartwarming experiences of our lives of world travel and have remained so as we’ve continued to explore the world.

In 2018, we returned, almost four years later, to celebrate my 70th birthday with Louise and Danie and the many wonderful friends we’d made in the park and to once again experienced the awe and wonder of the wildlife that roam among the bush houses in the park. At that time we stayed for 15 months (including several visa extensions). 

We were never disappointed. Each day presented a new surprise, whether it was 25 kudus stopping by the veranda for pellets, 60 mongooses pleading for raw eggs, or the humorous antics of warthogs who are masterful at gaining our attention.
I often commented to Tom and others how each time “they” (the wildlife) appeared in our garden we felt of rush of good hormones rushing through us, with the sheer joy of their presence.

And now, sadly, Covid-19 with its many travel restrictions in South Africa and throughout the world, these stunning holiday homes sit empty awaiting a time when travelers can be on the move once again.

What better a place to visit when the restrictions are lifted? Living in a holiday home will continue to provide avoidance of crowds that typical travel accommodations don’t offer. But, living in a typical holiday home in a neighborhood may not be a lot different than lockdown.
Khaya Umdani
Khaya Umdani

Adding the joy of daily visits from wildlife, the ease of shopping at small local shops and dining in bush restaurants, a stay in a bush home in Marloth Park is one of the best travel experiences on the planet, safe from crowds, safe from crowded public tourist venues, and a stunning respite after months in lockdown. 


This, dear readers, is why we constantly watch the news about both South Africa and India re-opening airports to international travelers in order to travel to our favorite place in the world. 

If, in fact, Covid-19 is around for some time and with me being high risk, there is no better a place in the world for us to travel from lockdown in India. Even if, the South African government requires we stay in voluntary quarantine for 30- days, we won’t mind a bit, as long as we’re in Marloth Park, where each and every day, we’ll be entertained from the veranda.
Giraffe Crossing/Pan African Safaris
Giraffe Crossing/Pan American Safaris

Please visit Louise’s site here for more properties than those shown here in today’s photos and contact Louise at info@marlothkruger.com or by phone listed on the site. Also, you can freely click on the links in the caption of each of the above photos for more details with additional properties listed on the site.


We encourage all of our readers, wondering where they”ll take their much-needed holiday after the end of Covid-19 lockdown throughout the world to contact Louise for the once-in-a-lifetime experience or one you may repeat year after year. 

Please contact Louise for Covid-19 booking discounts (made directly through her) and of course, all 10% booking deposits are fully refundable during times of Covid-19.

Stay safe. Follow the guidelines for safety and of course, like us, dream of the future, and the joys yet to come.


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Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2019:

Lots of mongooses in the garden in Marloth Park. For more photos from this date, please click here.

Photos of Tuli Tiger Resort inside Kanha Tiger Reserve…

 
The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite.

We’re having some technical issues. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and purchased another Windows laptop instead of a Chromebook. As it turned out in my haste to order, the HP Chromebook I ordered doesn’t have a slot for an SD camera card.

A small, casual bar in the dining area.

Subsequently, I’ve had to use my phone to take photos and although many come out well, using zoom is a missing aspect of using a smartphone as a camera. Now that we’re in the midst of another nine safaris after nine at the last location in the Bandhavgarh National Park, today I broke down and used the camera, getting many better shots than ever possible using the phone.

Now, I’m left with no way to load them. A few minutes ago I purchased an adapter from Amazon India with a proposed receipt date of Monday, March 1st, the date we arrive at our hotel in Udaipur. Hopefully, once again a shipment within India will work out as well as the last.

The spacious pool is near the dining and bar area.

As a result, in the interim, I will be uploaded only those photos we’d taken on our phone while continuing to use the camera. Once the adapter arrives on Monday when we’ll have more time, I’ll be able to share the many fine photos we took at Kanha Tiger Reserve.

After going out on four safaris as of today, with two more remaining tomorrow that encompass 10 hours of each day, we decided to split up today with me taking the 5:30 am session and Tom out right now on the afternoon session.

The grounds are filled with named indigenous vegetation befitting this type of resort.

Doing so left me with time to post today’s story and photos and to work on the Amazon order which is trickier than compared to ordering supplies from the US.

The bathroom is small but nicely appointed.

Since we don’t have a tremendous number of tours during our three nights in Udaipur, we’ll have time to upload the camera’s photos and get more caught up posting.

Plus, the WiFi in both safari resorts has been sketchy at best, in each case, off and on all day and only accessible from the reception office. Not being able to put up my feet and relax while preparing a post is a bit annoying, but soon we’ll be in a hotel with good service in our room (so says the online information).

There are several seating areas in our suite.

This resort is beautiful and well-appointed otherwise. Besides Tom’s disappointment with the food, we’re enjoying our time in this premium property.

So far, our 55-night tour of India is going quite well and we have a fabulous company, Tailormade Journeys continuing to work with us for any questions or concerns. We’ve been very pleased with their service working with rep Rajiv and his support staff in making this a seamless series of events, a highly complicated scenario for this extended period. They can be reached as follows:

Rajiv Wahie
Tailormade Journeys Limited
25 Grangewood , WEXHAM , SLOUGH , SL3 6LP , South Bucks. United Kingdom.
United Kingdom Tel : 01753 577330, 01753 201201 Mobile: 07739716978.
USA & Canada Toll Free : 1 – 855- 9 – 526526 , Canada :416-619-7795
Australia : 61-2-86078986Emailgreat-vacation@btconnect.com
The king-sized bed is very comfortable.
Well, that’s it for today folks. We’ve included photos of the lovely Tuli Tiger Resort. We’re looking forward to sharing more photos soon.
 
Be well.

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

Mom and Babies hanging out by the recently cleaned cement pond. For more photos, please click here.