Photos of our new place…

I’m not sure of the square footage; I imagine it’s a little over 700 square feet…a tiny house.

We are currently living in what is called a “Park Model” in a 55+ RV park in Apache Junction, Arizona. We’d never heard of a “Park Model” until we stayed in 2020 to visit three of Tom’s sisters, Mary Ellen (husband Eugene), Margie, and Colleen, and stayed for a few months.

The dining table has two side extension flaps but only two chairs.

This time, we will only be here for one month. Again, wanting to be near three of his six sisters, we booked only one month since his “Minnesota Snowbirds” will return to Minnesota for the spring and summer. Mary and Eugene leave on April 18, and Margie and Colleen leave the first week of May. We are booked here until May 1. Then, we head to California to see my sister Julie.

The bed is a tight fit in the small bedroom. Making the bed is tricky.

We’d never have chosen a vacation/holiday home in an RV park, nor would we have been interested in living in a “Park Model,” which is basically a mobile home set-up to appear permanent when we usually prefer stand-alone houses and some condos. The limited space is a drawback for us when, without the “L” shaped kitchen, it wouldn’t be much larger than a cruise cabin.

The living room has a loveseat and a recliner.

For one month, we were OK with the limited storage space. More importantly, he spends more time with his family, primarily in their 80s. Tom is the youngest of 11 children, with only seven surviving, including Tom. He’s always been close to his family, and it’s a special time when they get together.

The kitchen is small but functional.

There will be more family get-togethers in Minnesota, including with his adult children, Tammy and TJ, and their children, when we arrive in Minnesota in May, including time with my son Greg and his three children. Family time in the US is always fun and thoroughly enjoyed by both of us. Everyone gets along beautifully, and being together once again is always delightful.

Having this pantry is helpful.

Today’s photos were taken this morning. There appears to be some type of halo in my phone’s camera, and later on, I will figure out how to fix it. You can see by these photos how small the space is, but, like on a cruise ship, we somehow manage to find a space for everything, although it may not appear as tidy and organized as we might be with more spacious living quarters.

The bathroom is so tiny that the floor has no room for the scale.

We were spoiled after spending the past 3½ months in the gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Lake Las Vegas. But, like the adaptable travelers that we are, we adjust to our new environment in a matter of a few days.

There was nowhere to store our bags other than this entryway. We’re using the sliding door in the living room for access.

Last night, after dinner, the family stopped by to visit, staying until after 9:00 pm. We’re invited to Mary and Eugene’s lovely and spacious “Park Model” for spaghetti dinner tonight. Since I don’t eat pasta, I’ll bring my dinner, a hearty tuna salad I made yesterday with hard-boiled eggs, celery, onions, and multiple spices to put atop a lettuce salad. We offered to bring a salad for everyone else, but Mary explained that none of them cares for salads. Tom will enjoy having spaghetti.

This old tiny TV monitor doesn’t have an HDMI plug-in. We’re streaming shows using my laptop.

Last night, I got to bed by 11:00 pm, and I didn’t sleep well. According to my Fitbit, I only slept a little over five hours. That will impact me tonight but I will do everything I can to stay awake and alert until my usual bedtime around 11:00 pm. I feel fine this morning and look forward to doing my exercises and continuing to organize a little more of our stuff.

Have a great “humpday,” and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 3, 2014:

Our bodies adapt not only to the varying climates and seasons in many parts of the world but also to areas where seasonal changes are less evident, such as tropical climates. For more, please click here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to our readers, friends, family…Have a lovely day!…

Photo of us in January 2018 while we were in Buenos Aires, Argentina, only days before we left for Antarctica.

We started our day lounging in bed, laughing, talking, and reminiscing. We have so many unforgettable memories over the past 12  Valentine’s Days we’ve celebrated since we began traveling the world.

The Valentine’s Days before traveling are but a blur of memories that all jumbled together in our minds; I recall baking a heart-shaped cake each year using a heart-shaped pan I purchased at a yard sale for $1 over 40 years ago. I always gave Tom some romantic-type gift, and he always appeared with a bouquet of flowers and a sweet card.

We were never disappointed, and when his work schedule allowed us to be together, we often went out to dinner at a fine restaurant, or, on a few occasions, I made a gourmet-type dinner to enjoy at home. Once we began traveling the world in October 2012, we both agreed to forego buying gifts and cards for one another. In many countries, there weren’t readily available shops with cards and gifts and…they took up room in our luggage.

Neither of us has ever been disappointed not to receive cards and gifts from one another. Instead, we made the special day all the more special in one way or another.

On this date, February 14, 2014, I wrote the following post found here. For today, I decided to repost some of the text from that day’s post, since ten years ago seems to have added significance. I wrote the following:

“So, today, I give this online card to my husband, lover, friend, and traveling companion. I offer these words, which is all I can give as we carry on with our travels. This will make sense for our readers who have followed along with us. For new readers, some of my corny poem may be confusing.

How We Share Our Love

Romantic notions, views of oceans, is how we share our love
Birds singing, church bells ringing, is how we share our love
Ships that sail, a stormy gale, is how we share our love
Security checks, broken steps is how we share our love

Power’s out, endless doubt, is how we share our love
Centipedes, constant needs, is how we share our love
Guards with guns, your silly puns, is how we share our love
Gluten free, a sight to see, is how we share our love

A flight delay, a humid day, is how we share our love
A lion roaring, a movie boring, is how we share our love
Outdoor living, kindness giving, is how we share our love
Broken PC, doesn’t blame me, is how we share our love

WiFi trouble, fees are double, is how we share our love
Memory making, pleasure taking, is how we share our love
Our stuff is gone, we continue on, is how we share our love
We don’t know when, it will ever end, is how we share our love

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love, our family, old and new friends, and all of you.”

Photo from ten years ago today, February 14, 2014:

Honey, if I can’t make your favorite butterscotch pie for Valentine’s Day to celebrate, I present you with this photo of one that I had made many moons ago when we ate sugar and flour. For more, please click here.

Two days and counting and stuff to do…Final evening with Greg, Heather, Madighan and Miles at a fantastic Mexican restaurant…Two game day…

Heather and Greg at the Mexican restaurant last night in Chanhassen. We are so happy they are together and enjoying their loving relationship.

Yep, in two days, we are leaving the US after many collective months since last April when we left South Africa, traveled to Florida, then to Norway and Greenland via cruises, and ended up in Nevada and Minnesota to visit family and friends. Now, we head to Ecuador, South America, to the second-highest city in the world, Quito.

Yesterday, we called Alamo car rental to extend the rental by two days. When we talked to one rep, he said he’d handle it with an email confirmation for the extra charges. The email never arrived. Several hours later, we called again, and another rep stated we couldn’t extend it without coming to the airport to sign a new two-day contract. Hogwash!

We decided to return the car today when we checked prices and discovered it would be $295 for the two more days. Instead, this morning, Tom is running a few last-minute errands and will return the car, taking an Uber back to the hotel. When we leave on Wednesday, it will be easier and quicker at the airport when we’ll be dropped off by another Uber and avoid returning the car at that time.

Miles, 15, and Mad,14, two of Greg’s children, and our grandchildren.

Tonight, we’ll walk over to Pizza Luce, across the parking lot from the hotel, to meet Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent for one final get-together for dinner and trivia before we leave. This afternoon, TJ will stop by to get help from Tom on setting up his trail cam and to say goodbye. From that point on, we will have seen everyone we wanted to see to say goodbye and will be on our way on Wednesday morning.

Without a doubt, this was the best visit we’ve had since we began our travels. No one was sick or unavailable, and we could easily set up times together, making sure each family got our undivided attention. Between Tom’s siblings, our kids and grandkids, and friends, we had a wonderful time on every occasion.

Tom and Heather.

We spent a lot of money dining out and for other activities, but it was worth every last cent. Now, we can leave with peace of mind that we spent quality time with those we love. When will we return to the US? At this point, we have no idea. We will post the plan here when we do know, which may not be for some time.

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived at Greg’s home in Chaska to spend time with him, Heather, and the kids while watching the Minnesota Vikings football game. Again, they lost, which was disappointing but not surprising. We did our laundry during the game while Madighan and I worked on crocheting. I completed a winter scarf using every last bit of yarn.

A taco salad is the only entree Tom ever orders in Mexican restaurants. He scooped up the guacamole, which he doesn’t like, and gave it to me.

Mad said, “Grandma, I will think of you whenever I wear this!” I smiled from ear to ear, happy that it meant so much. I crocheted as fast as I could, recalling stitches from 50 years ago, the last time I crocheted when it was popular in the 1970s. During that era, crocheted clothing, purses, afghans, and pillows kept many of us busy with patterns and yarns.

Without a pattern, I used a simple stitch that my fingers remembered more than my brain. Actually, it was pretty fun, especially when it meant so much to Mad.

After the game ended, we all drove to a Mexican restaurant we’d visited in the past, Rey Azteca in Chanhassen, in our neighborhood. As we recall, the food was fresh and delicious. Every one of the six of us enjoyed the food, the ambiance, and the lively conversation. After dinner, we all said our goodbyes and Tom and I left to return to the hotel to watch the next Minnesota Twins game, already in the 5th inning. They won. We were thrilled.

After their entrees, Mad and Miles shared a Tres Leche cake drizzled with chocolate syrup. They gobbled it up.

I just received a notification from Alamo with the bill for the rental car, so Tom must already be on his way back from the airport in the Uber. I texted him on WhatsApp, and he said he’ll be here soon. We always miss one another, even when apart for short periods. How fortunate we are.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow and, most likely, even a post in the morning on our travel day since I think I can get something done before we depart.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 9, 2013:

This is a different angle from the photo already shown in an earlier post, but one that we saw in our first 90-minute drive, along with Anderson, our guide, as we waited for others to arrive. This giant 15-foot croc had captured an impala. With Anderson’s walkie-talkie, he was alerted when their plane landed, and we flew off in the little plane to the Maasai Mara. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Packing has begun…

We took this photo on Volstruis Street. The word volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans. Sadly, in the past year, the lions killed all the ostriches in Marloth Park. For this post, please click here.

Note; Today’s photos are from a post on this date in 2018. For the story, please click here.

It’s been a long and enjoyable three months living in The Villages in Florida, but we are ready to move on. We never had a chance to look at any real estate for sale when neither of the agents we contacted returned our calls. They must be so busy they didn’t have time to deal with our curiosity.

Not only do they gravitate toward the river for food but also for water, where they drink, play, and swim.

We would have liked to peruse a few houses, but we had to let that option waft away with only the golf cart and the new construction very far from here. Besides, after three months here, we’ve decided we have no interest in ever living here permanently when and if this time comes that we must settle somewhere.

The summer weather is unbearable, and with the small backyards and gardens, there’s little chance or desire to be outdoors, which we’ve missed. It’s just not for us with the lack of wildlife and nature, although the scenery is quite lovely driving through the vast retirement community.

I am not a photographer by nature, but hopefully, over time, I will improve. Photo from 2018.

We loved seeing so many of our friends here, but we can and most likely will return to Florida for a visit sometime in the future and see them all again if it works out. We like that it’s an income-tax-free state, like Nevada, our state of residency, but that would never inspire us to live here.

We weren’t here during the busy winter season when many residents told us they couldn’t get a place to park when visiting any of the town squares for dinner, let alone getting a reservation for a meal. They said the traffic on the roads and golf cart paths is indescribable during winter when tourists and property owners return from colder climates for the excellent weather.

The green grasses along the river are pleasing to the elephants.

That’s not for us. We’re happier living in remote areas, away from crowds, long queues and traffic. Looking back at our almost 11 years of world travel, most of it was spent in remote locations.

You may ask, “Why would we enjoy cruising with the crowds on the various ships?”

The answer is simple. Sailing on a large ship with 500 to 2000 passengers doesn’t feel crowded to us. We can freely wander about the ship, find places to relax and socialize in the various areas and venues and really feel like we are in a small town. Plus, socialization on a cruise ship is ten times easier than it’s been while out and about here in The Villages.

Wildebeest Willie and a friend, along with some warthogs, at night.

We thought it would be more social, but we found many residents have their own little “cliqies” and don’t easily include “newbies” in the conversation. However, I must add we did meet several wonderfully friendly and interesting people while out and about in the town squares on several occasions.

I suppose my problem is comparing everywhere we go to Marloth Park, where strangers smile and stop to chat while at the market, the pharmacy, and then again…our favorite place, Jabula, “where everyone knows your name.” (Remember that line from the TV series, “Cheers?”

Trying out a few of the camera techniques I learned from our friend Ken, I still see that I have a long way to go.

Now, I must wrap this up and get to packing my stuff for the bag we’re shipping to the hotel in Minnesota, where we’ll arrive in less than seven weeks after the two cruises, one day in Boston with my cousin and the nine-day visit to Henderson, Nevada, to see Richard and renew our driver’s license. We’re looking forward to it all.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 24, 2013:

This was one of the many photos we took on the beach in Belize. As we’ve traveled, we’ve found that each beach has its breathtaking beauty, memorable in its way. For more, please click here.

Part 1…Photos and info about our temporary home in The Villages, Florida….

At certain points along the golf cart path in The Villages, the scenery was lovely.

The house photos will begin tomorrow, but today we’re sharing photos from our first drive using the golf cart that came with the house to the closest shopping area in our Fernandina neighborhood of The Villages. It was pretty fun.

I am a little tentative right now after the Afib bout on the plane, but since we arrived, all is well. My heart rate and blood pressure are normal, with no issues whatsoever. Hopefully, it was a fluke. It may have been too soon to travel on a plane so close to the time I was released from the hospital, only four days earlier. The cardiologist gave me the OK to travel. My fingers are crossed that was the case. I have no interest in going to more doctors and having more pointless tests.

The golf cart paths are easy to navigate.

We had never used a golf cart except in Belize in 2013 when rental cars were outrageously priced. We rented a golf cart to get around when we discovered the first holiday home we rented was infested with insects and had running water only a few hours a day. We used the golf cart to drive to other properties until we eventually found the excellent property where we stayed for our remaining time in the country.

If you’re interested in reading that story about Belize, please see our archives for the first few days of February 2013. It was quite a strange experience when we first started out, but it ultimately resulted in a wonderful experience when we settled into the lovely Laru Beya property in Placencia, Belize.

Zoom in to see the golf cart traffic jam.

We only used the golf cart for a few days at that time. While here at The Villages, the golf cart will be our only means of transportation for almost three months. At first, before we got it going, we were hesitant that this form of transportation would be sufficient for us. But, after yesterday’s first outing, we feel okay about it and will do well getting around. It just takes a little longer than driving a car.

As it turned out, I downloaded a free app, The Villages, which provides easy directions to all locations. What was most important to us was the golf cart paths permitted for driving to any site. This app made it very easy for us to find our way to the restaurant where we had breakfast yesterday and found a Publix grocery store across the road.

The only problem with this particular Yamaha brand of golf cart which is in excellent condition is there is little room for groceries for the ride back to our place. This limits the number of groceries we can purchase at any given time. Now, we understand why so many residents use InstaCart and order groceries online. We may decide to do the same since I prefer to pick out our food. mainly meat and produce.

We inched closer to the row of golf carts and were moving along only a few minutes later.

Today, I am posting photos from our first drive with the golf cart, and tomorrow and for the next few days will add photos I took this morning of the interior and exterior of this lovely three-bedroom home. We love this property since it is in perfect condition, has central air, and is more equipped with supplies and “stuff” than any holiday home we’ve rented in the past.

Tomorrow, we’ll share photos of various storage areas in the house so you can see how thorough this owner is. Wow! It’s mind-boggling, and she told us we don’t have to replace anything we use while we’re here. Sure, we may run out of paper products and laundry soap, but we won’t have to purchase cleaning supplies and many toiletries she’s provided.

Tom had his eyes on the road while driving the golf cart.

We love sharing extraordinary holiday/vacation homes with our readers. We couldn’t be more thrilled with this property. If you are interested in renting this property in the future, you can find the listing here on VRBO.

Last night, Tom was still full from his huge breakfast at Bob Evans Farmhouse, while I had a small breakfast with an omelet. We purchased a whole-cooked chicken at the market and ate the dark meat with a salad last night. Tonight, we’re having soft-shelled tacos stuffed with leftover chicken for me and ground taco meat I’ll make for Tom. We’ll be using keto cheese taco shells we found at the market. They are only one carb each, so seeing how good they are will be interesting. I’d read about these taco shells but couldn’t find them in South Africa.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 2, 2013:

Sagrada Familia…Why is the Sagrada Familia so famous? Image result for Sagrada Familia La Sagrada Familia is a building that Gaudí masterfully designed. Despite not being finished, UNESCO made it a World Heritage Site in 1984 because of its unique architecture and how Gaudí created something so artistic and innovative. For more photos, please click here.

Load-shedding nightmares…Its only going to get worse…Eskom is out of resources…Unwelcomed guests in our house…

This was the first time ever that Norman and Nina’s baby jumped the fence. Very skittish that even tossing some pellets made her/him run.

When a single electric company supplies a nation, its people are subject to its ups and downs, regardless of the inconvenient consequences. After decades of corruption, poor management, and neglectful maintenance resulting in endless breakdowns of systems countrywide, South Africa’s Eskom is dying fast, leaving its customers in the lurch.

Here is an article that simplifies the situation at Eskom.

How long this country can hang on with limited power supplies is baffling and uncertain. Already countless businesses have ceased to operate without much-needed power supplies. This has particularly impacted the small businesses that don’t have the resources to install solar power. In the next few years, solar energy will be necessary for businesses and private residences to function correctly.

Tulip was close by while Lilac was outside the little fence.

This morning I had laundry to do, but by the time I got up, there was barely enough time to do two loads, so we stuffed everything into the one washer, leaving our white socks. I have hardly been able to use the dryer with load-shedding up to 11½ hours a day,  But for us, it’s relatively easy. What about a household with six children or immobilized senior citizens?

What about the small businesses trying to function using a diesel-powered generator with the cost of fuel so high? Yesterday in this post, we wrote about the new system we’ll have by the end of January. But that’s just “lucky us” having fantastic landlords/friends that appreciate the daily challenges and are willing and able to provide us with solutions. What about
everyone else?

Bossy stops by several times a day. She is expecting another little one.

Every Friday and Saturday night at Jabula, we see their struggles running a generator to keep their food fresh and drinks cold for the never-ending stream of hungry and thirsty customers. Last night and Friday night, with Jabula closed for eight days for a holiday break for Dawn and Leon; we witnessed this same dilemma at Bos Restaurant and Giraffe. We sat at the bar in 90F, 32C weather with high humidity with no air-con to cool the customers and staff.

But it’s no different for us when we stay home and sit outside on the veranda. The heat is sweltering in the summer months, and the humidity only makes it worse. It’s challenging to get used to it, regardless of how much we try to be resilient and tough, like many locals.

A lot of senior citizens live in Marloth Park on a meager income, unable to afford to pay for air-con if they had it, let alone generators or solar power installations, which can range from ZAR 150,000, US $8,924 for a small house to as much as ZAR 300,000, US $17,848 or more for a larger home.

Three zebras stopped by.

Once that big chunk is paid for a solar installation, the operational costs are low, but expensive batteries must eventually be replaced. There’s no easy answer, and low-income households cannot afford the upfront expense.

On days like today, when it’s so hot and humid, preserving our food is the biggest concern. We grocery-shopped for two weeks, purchasing little meat and lots of vegetables since I’ll make various stir-fry dishes over the next week. These meals require less meat than a meat and vegetable dinner, making more sense during the load-shedding periods, often at dinner.

We are careful in keeping meat fresh and less concerned about the small amount of dairy we keep in the refrigerator, primarily sour cream, hard cheeses, and cream cheese which we keep on hand for making keto dishes and salad dressings. These all seem to survive the outages ok for far.

Bossy spends a lot of time looking at us. Hmmm…I wonder why?

As for the unwelcome guests in the house, this morning, Tom noticed three bee hives inside the house in the dining room on a lower baseboard, close to where I often sit. This morning, he sprayed them and removed the three nests, respraying them so they won’t return. It’s no wonder I was stung last Saturday. Also, on Friday night, Tom stepped on a bat in the kitchen and accidentally killed it. Fortunately, he was wearing shoes. He would never have killed it on purpose.

That’s our story for today, folks. Tom is entrenched in NFL playoff football games while I stay busy working on projects. Tomorrow, I will wrap up the insurance claim for Tom’s missing bag and begin working on the forms for the visa extension.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2022:

Couples from left to right, Gerhard and Rita, Tom and I, Danie and Louise, and Rita’s sister Petr and husband Fritz. The eight of us had gone on a night game drive ending in dinner in the dark in Kruger National Park. It was pretty fun! For more photos, please click here.

Summer solstice…The task has begun…Trying to recall every item in our missing bags…One video today…

It’s the first day of summer in Africa and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere.  Based on the hot weather this past month or more, one would think summer had already started here in the bush. When visitors come here from Cape Town, Johannesburg, or other big cities in South Africa they are often shocked by how much hotter it is here.

We’re often shocked by how cold it gets in Cape Town during the winter months. We hear visitors discuss the snow in the mountains and the chill in the city. It gets cool here in the winter which we always appreciate. Today is almost like a winter day with temps much lower at only 77F, 25C with humidity at 71%, and the dew point is 67, considered tropical. But, it feels good not to be sweating.

I’m seated at the dining room table with lots of “lost baggage” paperwork beside me with a clear view of the garden, just in case my favorites stop by. We had a busy morning but now midday, it’s settled down, and only a few visitors have stopped by. When sundowner time arrives, invariably, the animals wander out of the bush and parkland and come to see what we’re doing. It’s a delightful time of the day.

We both make a point of being done with tasks by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., each day so we can sip on our preferred beverages and enjoy idle chatter and the quiet solitude that bush so blissfully provides. But, tonight might be a little different. We need to list each item in each bag and submit it to Ethiopian Air for reimbursement if possible.

Today, I finally reached a rep, and they sent me a claim form that we asked Louise to print for us. Tom went to the busy Info Centre to pick up four copies of the form which, weirdly, have to be completed by hand, not online. How ridiculous is that? My handwriting is illegible and has been so for most of my life. Tom writes very slowly, but it’s possible to read what he’s written.

When we received the claim form I noticed their maximum payout is US $400 per bag. That doesn’t put a dent in the value of the items in those two bags. How frustrating. Now, we need to file a separate claim with our credit card company. We’ll see how that goes. The offer more reimbursement but the process is time-consuming and frustrating.

So this evening with the day’s tasks behind us, we’ll sit outdoors at the table on the veranda and begin compiling our lists of items in the lost bags. We’ve already shopped at the Bush Centre this morning for a few items from the meat market and the little grocery store. Now, we can make it until after Christmas for another run to Komatipoort to do the grocery shopping.

Since we’ll be at Jabula Friday and Saturday nights (Christmas Eve) we won’t have to cook anything until Christmas day. We’ve decided to make keto pizza for Tom with just the two of us, and I’ll have chicken breasts on the braai. I want to eat the pizza with him, but it’s just too fattening for me while I am doing so well losing weight. It tastes so good it’s impossible for me to eat only a tiny piece. I won’t even take a taste. To me, it’s as good as eating a gooey doughnut, an occasional treat I may have had in my old life before going keto in 2011.

Tom is currently at his lowest weight since we were in Belize in 2013. He has no health problems, is not pre-diabetic, and takes no meds. Right now, he is enjoying some treats I make for him and more when dining out. But, he avoids bread and desserts and doesn’t drink any sweet drinks.

Many times while we’re at the bar in Jabula, other patrons will offer to buy us each a “shot.” I’ve never done a shot in my life, and Tom isn’t interested in them either, regardless of what alcohol they may be. Neither of us cares to take such a quick intake of alcohol and potentially get drunk. We certainly don’t judge those who partake, but I doubt we ever will if we haven’t started doing them by now.

Surely on Christmas Eve, the drinks will flow, but we will both stick to our usual choices, not overdoing it, while sipping on our preferred beverages. Nonetheless, we’ll enjoy the merriment of the holiday season and the festivities. It’s a very special time in the bush.

My laptop’s battery is about to need a recharge, and I’ll need to plug it into the bedroom plugs near the one inverter-fed outlet by my bedside table. Several of our adapters were in the missing bags, and we now have a shortage of plug-in spots in the remainder of the house. Gosh, we lost a lot of stuff in those two bags!

We’ll be back with more tomorrow, folks. Have a fantastic day as many of you prepare for the holiday season.

Be well

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

Wildebeests were resting near Verhami Dam in Kruger National Park. For more, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May you have a pleasant Monday! Be well.

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

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

Last of the photos from our recent trip…Great evening at Jabula, as always…

I zoomed in for a closer look at the spray from Victoria Falls.

When I reviewed the photos from our recent trip that we had yet to post, I decided to post this last batch today. With the drones overhead all week, we had few wildlife visitors in the garden. Now, it’s the weekend, and again the animals stay away when holidaymakers fill the rentals in the park.

Speaking of weekends and holidays, this is Labor Day weekend in the US. We hope all of our family and friends in the US enjoy a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. In the US, many workers have Monday off, making this long weekend a time for travel, family visits, parties, picnics, and celebrations. Please be safe in all of your activities!

The scene from the veranda at the Royal Livingstone Hotel shows the spray from Victoria Falls, a short distance away.

Of course, we no longer celebrate US holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. With no family around and many friends who spend time in Marloth Park, back in their home countries, due to the heat here during the summer season (the opposite of summer in the northern hemisphere).

With air conditioning only in bedrooms here, daylight hours are often challenging when temps reach over 104F and 40 C. Does one stay inside where it’s usually hot, or sit outdoors in the dust and heat? After spending five summers in Marloth Park, which starts on December 21st. On September 21, spring starts here, but the heat has already begun, if not intermittently.

It’s a little hard to see, but this was an elephant in the trees, munching on leaves while we sat on the veranda at the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Zambia.

Today is another hot day with temps expected to top 93F and 34C, but much to our surprise, at almost 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs., it’s pretty tolerable. We are outside and not uncomfortable at all. Of course, raise the temperature to 40C, and we’ll feel it. But, it always cools down in the evening although air con is usually necessary for sleeping.

Sunset over the Zambezi River from the hotel veranda.

Last night, we were surprised to see the bar at Jabula packed. Every seat at the bar was taken. Luckily, a kindly local offered me his seat while Tom stood next to Lee, who’d arrived, until another barstool opened up a few minutes later. As a result, Tom and I sat apart for a few hours before our dinner was ready, and we, along with Lee, sat at a table to eat our dinner. Our food was predictably excellent as ever. We love the consistency at Jabula.

It was fun talking to the locals, looking over at Tom often to see him enjoying himself. We’d smile at one another with that knowing look on our faces, how lucky we are to be together and how much we enjoy life in the bush. Aside from frequently looking at our visa options, life is uncomplicated and blissfully simple. We always remain grateful.

Live music set the tone at the hotel.

We didn’t return to our house until after 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs. It was too late to start streaming a show, so we hunkered down for the night after completing a few tasks around the house. My new facial and head pain medication typically results in sound sleep. I fell asleep by about 10:30 pm, 2230 hrs., but awoke at 1:30 am and never went back to sleep until 4:30 am, awakening at 7:30 am.

Birds are highlighting the sunset scene.

My Fitbit reading states that I slept for over 7 hours, but I’d argue that isn’t accurate. But, the devices can record more sleep when one’s breathing and pulse rate are low. In any case, I don’t feel exhausted today. I busied myself in the kitchen making mozzarella stuffed meatballs and Italian red sauce for Tom’s dinner, enough to last for several days. I cooked chicken breasts for myself, which I’ll top with sauce and a big salad and vegetables.

A short time ago, seven giraffes appeared in our garden. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see them. We took several photos and a video which we’re excited to share in tomorrow’s post.

Wow! What a sunset!

We hope all of our readers in the US have a fantastic holiday weekend, and to everyone else worldwide, may your weekend be great as well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 3, 2021:

Detailed map of voyage route
The cruise itinerary, beginning in Leith, Scotland, in August 2023, will end in Amsterdam 16 days later. For more, please click here.

Confusion over our address in Marloth Park…Electrical issues being resolved…

A hornbill was enjoying herself on the birdseed trolley in the garden.

Recently, when Spar Market had some confusion over ordering my new favorite wine, Spiers 5.5% (very low alcohol) Chenin Blanc, I resorted to contacting the winery to ship 24 bottles from their website. The cost of the wine, with free shipping, was only US $108.80, ZAR 1765, which equates to US $4.53, ZAR 73.42 per bottle.

This tasty low alcohol wine is perfect for me since I get the “feeling” of enjoying a glass of wine without the effects; no tipsy feeling and no hangover. Typically I drink only two glasses in the evening. A regular white wine can have an alcohol content of 13.5% to 15%. This Spiers wine at 5.5% is ideal for me. We keep it in the outdoor fridge, where it stays ice cold.

A hornbill was eating seeds off the bushbaby perch.

I placed the online order last Friday, and it was scheduled to arrive at Louise’s office, the Info Centre, on Thursday. But as it turned out, Louise and Danie were out for part of the day, so I asked the winery to have the driver deliver it to our house nearby. For some odd reason, the driver couldn’t find our home and drove around Marloth Park for an hour.

Finally, he reached me by phone, and I suggested he return to the Info Centre, and Tom would meet him there to collect the wine, which worked out in the end. House numbers here are inconsistent and don’t necessarily run in sequential numerical order. A driver unfamiliar with that fact could easily get confused. For this reason, we have everything we order shipped to the Info Centre.

Trail cam photo of Norman, who stopped by early this morning to see if we were outside at 6:28. Not quite yet. But when Tom was on the veranda by 7:00, he was still here.

Yesterday morning when Vusi was cleaning, he replaced the ceiling light in the kitchen. He turned off the power to install the new fixture. When he tried to turn the power back on, it wouldn’t go back. Within a few hours, the electrician was here, looking for a solution. We were without power for about five hours. Tom placed the bowl of ice in the refrigerator, and our food survived. By afternoon, the power was back on.

The electrician is back again today, fine-tuning whatever he’d done to fix the power and working on a few other issues. The washer repairman was here to repair the washer, but it’s still not working right. TIA, This is Africa, and stuff happens. But Louise and Danie stay on top of all this, and we don’t have a complaint in the world. They couldn’t be more conscientious and thoughtful of our needs.

At one point, Noah was close to the camera.

Once the electrician is done, we’ll be off to Komatipoort to do our grocery shopping for the last time before we leave for Zambia and Botswana in eight days. Mainly, we’ll be getting food for Sunday night’s friends/readers sundowner party. Tomorrow, we’ll share the menu in the post.

The animals began to return to the garden after the holiday period ended on Tuesday.  Today, we’ve seen kudu, bushbucks, warthogs, wildebeests, nyala family, impalas, hornbills, and more. Last night, the mongoose stopped by at sunset for dinner. We gave them meat scraps, eggs, and paloney, which they devoured in seconds.

Son Noah was shortly behind Norman.

We had a lovely dinner of leftovers and hunkered down well after dark to stream a few shows and get outside our heads wrapped up in mindless drivel. We love each aspect of our everyday; breakfast on the veranda with good food and coffee,  later working on our post and financial projects, listening to podcasts while we work. At 4:00, we do sundowners, sometimes with my wine and a drink for Tom, and at other times, iced tea in our mugs. Then, we have dinner on the veranda or at the dining room table.

We never eat snacks at sundowner time unless we have guests, preferring to be hungry for our delicious dinners. Neither of us snacks during the day, preferring to avoid excess calories we don’t need.

We are taking off for Komatipoort for a quick stop at the pharmacy and then to Spar Market. It’s a perfect weather day at 84F, 29C, with a cooling breeze. Right now, one Big Daddy, bushbuck Gordon Ramsey, three impalas, and Norman are hovering in the dense bush. Lollie has been leaving in the afternoons to take a mud bath nearby. When she arrives here, she’s covered in mud. Photos will follow next time we see her.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2021:

Could this be Mom, Dad, and Baby hippos? For more photos, please click here.