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.

An outpouring of love from around the world…

This has been the best test kit we’ve used. They retail for about $25 at most worldwide pharmacies. To perform the test, you download an app, Navica, to your phone and a live rep will walk you through the test to ensure it’s done correctly. DO NOT OPEN THE BOX PRIOR TO FACE-TIMING WITH THE REP OR THE KIT WILL BE INVALIDATED.

We cannot express our appreciation for the response and outpouring of love after the Garage Logic podcast last Friday and now continuing with well-wishes for Tom after his Covid pneumonia diagnosis described in yesterday’s post here.

We have been so fortunate to receive such positive feedback from our readers. There have been only a few occasions where a reader may send us the equivalent of “hater” emails about our travels and life events. Why read about our story or the stories of others if one finds the content objectionable in one way or another?

However, those scenarios are far and few between. Instead, as we enter one phase of our world travels to another, many loyal readers write to us expressing their concern and prayers for our well-being. At times, there are more email messages than we can respond to.  We try to respond to each one, but we sincerely apologize if we’ve missed you.

With little else to do, we’ve been able to stay on top of it. But, now, with Tom’s busy medication schedule, it may become more difficult. On the free family calendar app we both use, Cozi Calendar, which may be found here, today I entered ten events regarding Tom’s medication dosing schedule, starting at 8:00 am and ending at 10:00 pm.

I am so grateful that I am feeling so much better. My only symptoms now are a loose cough, an occasional headache, and a stuffy nose from time to time. My energy level has returned, and I no longer feel tired and lethargic. Hopefully, Tom will reach this state of improvement soon. We both continue to test negative.

Today, we have to go out to get food for dinner. The Cub Foods, less than a mile away, has some chicken wild rice soup Tom finds he can eat. Otherwise, he has had little interest in food. I’ll find something for my dinner in the market as well. I don’t feel like cooking in the small kitchen, but surely, I’ll find something easy to put together.

Our grandson Miles is still testing positive for Covid. Next Sunday, we are scheduled to leave Minneapolis only five days from today. We have no idea if we’ll be able to see any of our family members before we depart Minnesota or if we’ll be able to see our son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, where we will be for one more week until we leave for South Africa on May 22nd.

It will be good to be back in South Africa in two weeks. Our new house will be ready for us, which we know Louise will have “perfect,” awaiting our arrival. She’s insisted on grocery shopping for us. How much of a list we’ll make is based on how Tom feels in two weeks. If he’s well, we’ll only ask Louise to get enough groceries to last for a few days, longer if necessary. If he’s better, we can head to Komatipoort to grocery shop.

We’d like to have Dr. Theo check us both after this big ordeal with Covid. His office is down the road from the Spar Market, and we’ll schedule appointments to coincide with our shopping trip. It will be lovely to get back into our usual routine of wildlife watching, taking photos, cooking fabulous meals on the braai, and eventually, socializing.

We’re looking forward to feeling well enough to sit on the veranda, sipping on sundowners, and watching “visitors” stop by to see if pellets are on the happy hour menu. Most assuredly, they will be.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2021:

Seeing the porcupines on the trail cam gives us a strong incentive to continue to check out the garden at night. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…We’ve accumulated too much “stuff!”…

This is Bossy’s baby who may be a boy with a lumpy structured forehead that will eventually have a full set of horns that last a lifetime.

I am busy sorting and packing, deciding what to leave behind for when we return, what to throw away, what to pack in our bags, and carry-on. Tom packs all of his clothes and digital equipment, and zillions of power cords. But, as always, which he prefers, he doesn’t start until the day before we leave.

Since I am the cook, I prefer to pack all the kitchen items we’re leaving behind since we aren’t taking any of those items with us. Also, Louise provided us with many household goods from her inventory,  and we are sorting and keeping those separate to return to her. It’s been a daunting task.

Bossy arrived with three young calves. She was on babysitting duty.

Usually, when we’re moving out of a holiday home, we only have to pack our clothes, toiletries, and equipment. But, this time, it feels like another time in my life, many moons ago, when moving from one house to another. Every cupboard, drawer, and cabinet in this house has our “stuff” in it.

It’s not as if we did a monthly run to Costco, loading up on inventory of household goods. But, over the 14 months, we’ve spent in this house, we accumulated enough to make packing more challenging this time. I have run out of room in the two plastic totes I borrowed from Louise, and she, too, is also out of empty containers. Soon, we are heading to the hardware store to see if we can find a few more bins.

Two youngsters were fussing over one another.

As for leftover food, we are in great shape. We will have used every frozen item and all meats by tomorrow night. Tuesday, we’re dining out with Louise and Danie on our last night. Tonight and tomorrow night, we’ll be eating grilled chicken breasts with sausages, green beans, rice (for Tom), and salad. We’re using all of our eggs and bacon. Since we don’t snack, we don’t have leftover chips and other snack bags to toss.

The few things left in the fridge, such as unopened butter, cheese, sour cream, and a few condiments, we’ll give to Zef and Vusi. Plus, I have accumulated a pile of clothing for their wives and daughters in good condition, which they may or may not be able to use.

It was tricky getting the three young kudus in one photo.

Shortly after returning from the local hardware store, unable to find any large plastic containers, Vusi showed up at the door with another large empty tote. Louise emptied it so we could use it. That’s her! She’s always thinking of everyone else. They are such great friends and the best property managers in the world. We know from experience!

We enjoy our wildlife friends in the garden even though it’s a school holiday and the park is packed with tourists. We couldn’t believe the number of tourists at the shops, the water park at the Bush Centre, and the restaurants. At these holiday times, we don’t often see many animals. But these boys and girls know, after 14 months, which “side their bread is buttered on.” Pellets are still offered in abundance.

Here’s all three of them together. Kudus are very social animals.

We have over two 40 kg, 88 pounds bags of pellets left to use before we go in three days. Certainly, we’ll have no trouble getting them tossed into the garden in the next few days.

Our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport is at 6:30 pm, 1830 hrs, so we don’t have to leave here on Wednesday until about 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, leaving us plenty of time to drive the problematic N4 highway, in the event of any unforeseen slowdowns.

Are we excited about our upcoming visit with Karen and Rich in Apollo Beach, Florida? Absolutely! We missed their wedding due to Omicron, and it will be fantastic to spend time with them at their oceanfront home. As for the two cruises, we’re very excited to be cruising again and surely will enjoy both Atlantic crossings on two very different ships.

Bossy and the three babies.

Then, of course, we’re excited to spend time with our adult kids, grandchildren, Tom’s siblings, and hopefully, my sister Julie (who may come from LA) in Minnesota and then off to Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada, to see son Richard and his girlfriend. If time allows, we hope to see some of the many friends we left behind in 2012 when we began to travel.

Thanks to many of our readers who have written to wish us safe travels. Finally, you’ll be able to read and see photos of something other than wild animals in our garden! They never bore us, but they may have become “old news” to all of you.

We hope you have a pleasant Sunday. We’ll be back tomorrow with more!

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

These three warthogs, whom we’ve named Bennie, Hennie, and Lennie, visit several times a day. But in the past several months we haven’t seen them together. For more photos, please click here.

Off to Nelspruit today for news on our visa extensions…

“Pig in a pond.” Little was having a spa day in the green algae.

In a little while, we’ll be heading to Nelspruit once again to collect the results from sealed envelopes to determine if our requests for visa extensions have been approved. Once again, the long and arduous drive is ahead of us. Knowing we had to leave early this morning prevented me from getting a good night’s sleep. I didn’t nod off until 2:00 am, awakening at 5:15.

I’m feeling raggedy today and will be happy to return to Marloth Park by noon with, hopefully, good news. So far, there’s no word on our April 8 cruise canceling. In a few more weeks, we’ll book our flight to Florida and begin thinking about sorting our stuff and starting to pack. We’ve been here almost 13 months. We were away for less than six weeks during that period, once to the US for a month to get vaccinated and another time to Zambia, getting new visa stamps in the process.

During these 13 months, on one occasion, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended foreign national’s visas for 90 days due to the pandemic, which certainly helped us. Today, we look forward to good news so we can stay until the end of March. That’s not very far away. If all goes well today, we could be leaving here in a little over six weeks.

Yesterday morning at Stoep Cafe, Rita and I ate one of these delicious veggie omelets.

Yesterday was another scorcher with high temps, high humidity, and subsequently, a high dew point. When we returned from Komati, put away all the groceries, and finished and uploaded the post, I was in no mood for cooking dinner. We decided to eat out.

We left the house about 5:15, heading to Bos Restaurant in the Bush Centre. But first, we had to stop at the Field Security Office to get a new battery for the house key fob they provide at the office across the parking lot from Bos. From there we went to Bos. But, after carefully reviewing their menu, I couldn’t find anything I could eat. Everything was soaked in sweet sauces.

What a funny-looking grasshopper!

There wasn’t a plain piece of fish or chicken to be had. We had one drink at the bar and left, driving the short distance to Giraffe Restaurant, where I knew they had a decent grilled chicken salad. Tom ordered the chicken schnitzel with chips (fries). The meal was good, the service excellent, and the ambiance was pleasant.

Although doors are always wide open at restaurants in Marloth Park, they keep their air-con on in hot weather, which seems to keep the establishment relatively comfortable on sweltering days and night. We ran into some people we knew, chatted for a bit, and then sat at a table and enjoyed our meal.

Hal with Siegfried and Roy in the background.

We are now back from Nelspruit. Our visa extensions were approved, giving us until April 30 to leave the country. We aren’t surprised it worked out this way. Had it not been for Omicron terrifying the world, we’d be in Florida today at Karen and Rich’s wedding. It was disappointing to have to change our plans. But now, we’re OK with the new plan, as much as we’d have preferred to be at their wedding.

Tonight will surely be a fun night at Jabula with eight of us for dinner at a big table on the veranda. It will be wonderful to catch up with old friends we haven’t seen since 2019.

I am wrapping it up a little short today. Although now much of a napper, I think a quick nap is on the agenda today. With the detour of my walking goals due to this morning’s trip to Nelspruit, I will still try to walk as much as possible before we leave for dinner later today.

Have a pleasant weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2021

A gray Lourie is checking out the action on the ground. For more photos, please click here.

Many photos from our fabulous Christmas Day dinner in the bush…

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

Not having an idea of the type of dinner party at Sindee and Bruce’s home in the bush, we kept our expectations in check. We’d anticipated a buffet with guests sitting around the braai in the garden on chairs and benches with their plates of food on their laps.

A starter of prawns, sauce, and greens along with Christmas crackers with treats.

There were eleven of us, five of their family members, and six friends, including us. We were pleasantly surprised and delighted to see the beautiful table setting, adorned with gorgeous Christmas decorations including candles, miniature lights, crackers, colorful napkins, sparkling wine, along an array of crystal wine glasses. It couldn’t have been prettier.

There were many items on the menu that worked for me. I focused on meats and salads. I’d sliced avocados to go with the salad.

The six friends had brought various meats, salads, and side dishes. We’d brought the cooked, sliced prime rib and a large walnut, avocado lettuce salad. It was beautiful. The atmosphere and conversation were casual and engaging, and the hours flew by.

The meats included chicken, our prime rib, gammon (ham), and lamb, all delicious.

We rarely drink alcohol during the day, so I brought along my lowest alcohol-reduced wine with only 5% alcohol (when most wine is typically 13.5% to 14%). Tom brought a few cans of beer, and we sipped on our beverages throughout the day and early evening. We arrived at 11:30 and didn’t head for home until after 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs.

I couldn’t get enough of the lamb on the left in this photo. Tom doesn’t care for lamb, so I never make it.

Once back at our bush house, we put away all of our stuff, got into comfy clothes, and settled in for the evening. Later in the evening, Tom talked to his family members in the bedroom while I sat in the living room, talking to mine. It was beautiful to hear everyone’s voices, including our grandchildren.

Our dear friends and owners of Jabula, Dawn, and Leon.

While I was on my phone in the living room, I couldn’t help but notice hundreds of little bugs and ants all over the floor. At the moment, Tom is spraying the house while we are outdoors on the veranda, tossing pellets to Gordy (short for bushbuck Gordon Ramsey) and giant warthog One Tusk.

The animals aren’t as hungry as a month ago, with the bush now filled with lush green vegetation. They still stop by staring at us for some pellets out of habit. But, once we toss some their way, they eat slowly, often walking away with some pellets still on the ground. However, that’s not the case with warthogs. They’d eat until they burst if they had a chance. After all, they are pigs.

Sindee and Bruce’s two daughters, Mornay and Cyndy.

Today is a quiet day. Yesterday, as mentioned, I made an extra prime rib for us for tonight’s dinner. All we have to do for dinner is make Tom’s white rice and toss the salad with homemade salad dressing. I’m not big on reheating cooked beef, so we may eat it cold, which neither of us minds at all.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods to warm cooked beef to maintain the level of doneness. But none of those methods seem to work to our liking, getting too well done in the process. We’d rather eat it cold than overdone.

Sindee and Bruce only married a few years, are a delightful couple, and so thoughtful to include us!

After dinner, we each have our cakes. As it turned out, Tom thoroughly enjoyed his German Chocolate birthday cake, saying it wasn’t dry after all. I don’t know if he’s saying this to make me happy. He’d do that rather than have me feel bad that the cake was dry.

Tom plate of desserts; lemon meringue pie and chocolate cherry milk tart. He went back for seconds. Not surprising.

We hope all of our readers/friends, and family members had a fantastic Christmas as we look forward to the upcoming end of this challenging year.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #276. The countryside in Tasmania certainly reminded us of New Zealand, where we stayed for three months in 2016. For more photos, please click here.