Day #116 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages from readers make our days special!…Negative comments from readers?…

Day #116 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Messages from readers make our days special!…Negative comments from readers?…

Check out how many kudus we had in the garden on this date in 2018!

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Today’s photos are from July 17, 2018, while in Marloth Park, South Africa. See the link here for more details.



Today’s post is, by no means, intended to “toot our own horn.” Instead, it’s about the kindness of people, of our readers, so many of whom have taken the time to write to us to provide support and encouragement.

That morning’s 17 kudus in the garden. See the above video for details.

I don’t often share the actual email messages we receive, but somehow the following message that arrived in my inbox yesterday, (who’s name and email I’ve excluded, protecting her privacy), left us reeling with appreciation.


How well this reader understands our love for Marloth Park and the reasons we can’t wait to return someday when COVID-19 settles down. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to meet this couple in Marloth Park sometime in the future?

Wildebeest Willie and friends stopped by another night.

In her message, as shown below, she writes,” Thank you for the encouragement you bring to my life.” Our response is, “Thank you for the encouragement you bring to our lives.” Ironic, isn’t it?

Although not all are shown in this photo, for the first time, we had six bushbucks in the garden at one time.

Here’s her message received in yesterday’s email:                                                                                                   
“Good morning Jessica

I have been following you for quite a while and today just feel prompted to make contact.
I am so in awe of how well you are coping!!
My husband and I have lived in Cape Town all our lives and retired to Knysna for 10 lovely years

We decided to put stuff into storage a few years ago and explore South Africa after selling our home. It has been wonderful and we discovered Marloth in our travels!! We spent several months there last year.

Giraffes came through the parklands next to us. On foot, we rushed to see them up close to take photos. But, dad wasn’t too happy with us with his young calf nearby.  We carefully backed away.
It truly is just the most amazing place. We found a passion which we share.
We had to come to Cape Town due to health reasons in Dec last year… with every intention of returning there. BUT by the time things got sorted, we went into lockdown and we are stuck in Cape Town.
We are staying in a lovely home with all we could need but are just so longing to get back to Marloth!!
Some days I feel so frustrated at the limits on our lives..especially socially and the boredom of every day and then I read one of your posts and realize how blessed we are. Thank you for the encouragement you bring to my life.
Keep well. God bless you both
Hope to meet you one day in Marloth”
We knew better than to get too close.

Wow! This message couldn’t have meant more to us. I will write back to her today, asking her and her husband to read today’s post so they see how much their message meant to us.

It was nearly dark when they visited.

Going forward, especially during this quiet time of COVID-19 lockdown, we will be posting more comments we receive from our readers. We welcome any of you to write as well.


You may ask, do we receive negative comments? Much to our surprise and delight, we do not. It’s a rarity for a “hater” to write to us. I suppose if haters don’t like us or our site, they certainly have the option not to read the posts. 

A young zebra in the garden of a house on the river road.

We are working hard at staying positive under these difficult circumstances, and engaging in heated discussions is not conducive to our mental wellbeing at this time. Neither of us finds such discussions uplifting in any manner especially when there is nothing we can say to change their minds or ours.

This must have been the above baby’s mom resting nearby.

On another note, in the past few days, I tried a different dinner option after speaking with the head chef. He now prepares a delicious, spicy chicken curry for me, made without starch (potatoes, peas, etc.), sugar, or flour and it is such a welcome change. 


Tom says the curry looks like cat puke, but it doesn’t bother me. I have no idea what cat puke tastes like, but this version of curry sure tastes good to me. Tonight, I will take a photo and share it tomorrow.

We spotted two rangers on the road with rifles. We assumed it had something to do with poachers.

“They” are saying if everyone wore a face mask, socially distanced and washed their hands, in two months the virus could be over. Let’s all strive for this goal! Please pass this post on to others and hopefully, they too will get on board with those of us making this commitment!


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2019:

The view across Lough Pollaacapull as seen from the castle’s veranda at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

We made it to Mumbai…13 hours until we return to the airport…Broken suitcase dilemma…

While traveling on the historic Toy Train through the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains, the train stopped for a food break at this quaint station.

It’s Thursday, March 19th. In 14 hours, at 3:00 am, we’ll be picked up by a driver to return to the Mumbai Airport, which we left only hours ago. We barely slept last night after the late arrival at our hotel and tonight after dinner, we’ll try to get some sleep before the 2:15 am wake-up call.


When we’d originally arrived in Mumbai, security at the airport has broken the zipper on our third checked bag. With no way to repair it, we left it behind crammed with “stuff” for the hotel to hold for us until we returned. 

We couldn’t purchase a new bag until after we arrived in Mumbai since we’d have to pay excess baggage fees to bring it with us. We’ve had no choice but to go out today to purchase a new bag. 
The first palace we visited on a tour from the Maharajas Express was the City Palace, also known as the Shiv Niwas Palace.


The hotel manager told us some luggage shops are still open in the area in light of the Covid-19 fears and soon we’ll get a tuk-tuk to take us to a few nearby luggage shops.


We’d make an effort to unload most of our rupees but now, if they don’t accept a credit card, we’ll also have to go to an ATM to pay for the bag. But first, we’ll see if we can locate a bag and the cost. We don’t want to be left with rupees when we soon depart.

What an unusual seat!

The two flights from Madurai to Mumbai (via Chennai) were packed with face-masked travelers. For the first time, we both wore masks throughout the flights although we realize its not a 100% guarantee of safety from the virus.


We wiped down the armrests, tray table, and seat belt buckles with the Clorox wipes I’ve been carrying in a plastic bag. They sure have come in handy. Every hour or so, we used hand sanitizer and a few times, went to the bathroom and washed our hands with soap and water. What more could we have done?
View of the city from the palace in Udaipur.

Basically, once we have the new bag, we’ll need to repack to distribute the weight properly to comply with Kenya Airways baggage restrictions. They allow two-23 kg (50 pounds) bags each which we can manage easily once we have the new bag.


I can’t wait to have this new bag thing over with to allow a little time to relax before tonight and tomorrow’s big travel challenge. We’re still uncertain if we’ll be able to get into South Africa, let alone change planes in Nairobi, before we even arrive in SA.
Gold was often used in creating artifacts in palaces.

Update:  It’s now almost 2:00 pm and we recently returned from a 20-minute tuk-tuk ride through traffic to a Luggage World store (go figure). We easily found a “Swiss (army knife people) 26” bag in bright yellow for IDR 7000, US $93.25. We prefer unusual colors in bags making them easier to spot on the carousel. They accepted a credit card and we didn’t have to go to an ATM.


We took everything out of the old supply bag, throwing out a number of items and packed the new bag which now meets baggage regulations. Our other bags are packed for leaving in the middle of the night tonight after leaving out comfortable clothes and shoes for the long journey. 
At the nightly closing of the border ceremony between India and Pakistan, the Border Security Force members were aligned and ready to perform.

Whew! That was labor-intensive after only a few hours of sleep! The rest of the day, we can chill, avoiding any naps so we’ll be able to fall asleep after dinner. I’d intended to do the final expenses for our time in India, but I think I’ll save it for the 12-hour layover in Kenya, during which I’ll prepare and upload tomorrow’s post. 


Well, folks, the next time you hear from us, (tomorrow) hopefully, will be from the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. And after that, may safari luck be with us, from Marloth Park, South Africa. If you first see a pig as the main photo on March 22nd, you’ll know we’ve arrived!!!

The 108 foot Lord Hanuman at the Jakhoo Temple, in Shimla.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch surfaces. Stay far away from others, if you can. And somehow, enjoy this quiet time doing things you may have wanted to do for a long time but never had the time.


Thanks, again for all of the well wishes. We’ll be thinking of all of you!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2019:

Mom and three babies.  The fourth baby who’d been missing for several days never reappeared. For more photos, please click here.

Eight hour car ride from Shimla to Amritsar…No delusions, rose coloured glasses…

My spectacular dinner made by the thoughtful chef at the Amritsar Ramada where we’ll stay for three nights.

It was quite a day. Our good driver Prince drove perfectly on the treacherous roads as we made our way down the Himalayas. The traffic, the horn honking, the weaving in and out between cars, trucks and motorbikes was quite a sight to see as well as many other stunning scenes along the way.

As we entered Amritsar after an eight-hour car ride.

India is known for its pollution, skinny stray dogs and rundown structures as a part of life in many parts of country.

A herd of sheep moving on down the road.

Sure, we tend to sugarcoat these rampant realities with our often rose colored glasses in an attempt to paint a colorful view of our nonstop world travels. But what shall we do? Whinge about the fact we’ve yet to see a bright blue sky or totally clear day? Hardly.

Historic building as we drove through crowded town after another.

This country of over 1.3 billion people belongs to its people and they are proud and grateful for what they do have as opposed to what they don’t. We are humbled by their acceptance and their kindness, no, not by everyone, but by most.

It’s easy to see how India had 1.3 billion people. They are everywhere and little land is reserved for countryside or farming.

And, what do we gain by exposing ourselves to these challenges? Exactly what we intended seven years and almost four months ago when we left Minnesota to explore the world.

Color is everywhere.

It was never about hedonistic pleasures pumping our veins with luxurious comforts. It was always about filling out hearts and minds with a new appreciation, a new perspective of life outside the box we so freely occupied all of our lives.

Every area, every town is congested with people and “stuff.”

The meaning, the purpose and the scope of our past experiences was limited to a tight circle around us. Today, it’s the world.

Shops are packed with colorful dresses worn by the Hindu women.

Why, “they” may ask? Originally, curiosity. Now, this blissful opportunity has become about sharing this adventure with all of you; for those who traveled, for those who dreamed of travel and for those who continue with their own goals of exploring the world.

People, cars and more shops.

Each and every day we plot, we plan and we share the peculiarities, the nuances, the joys and the challenges we encounter along the way. Not always pretty. Not always heartwarming and enchanting. But always, as real and concise as we can be from this long acquired perspective.

On a rare occasion did we encounter a more modern building.

Yes, in time it will come to a close. In six days I will be 72 years old with a precarious heart condition. Tom, five years younger will only be able to haul the bags for so many years to come.

As we came down the mountains, we encountered snow.

But we’ll carry on, slipping on those rose colored glasses from time to time to soften the blows of the many harsh realities we encounter in the world to share each perspective with all of you.

Dirty snow piled up on the side of the road.

We just returned from a fantastic dinner on Valentine’s night sans alcohol. No alcoholic beverages are served in Amritsar in the close proximity of the golden temple which we’ll see tomorrow morning with our new guide. We don’t mind forgoing happy hour for three nights in order to savor the local treasures of Amritsar.

Town after town became a picturesque view as we wound our way down the mountains.


Tomorrow evening holds quite an adventure, we’ll share the following day.


Thank you dear reader/friends, for your inspiration and your loyalty. You are always with us.


Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there…

A few issues with our new location…

Gorgeous estates overlooking the bay.

We haven’t had any issues with a vacation/holiday home since we rented our first home outside the US in Belize.  The city water only came on for a few hours a day and we needed to stay around to fill buckets with water. Also, with no bugs screens on the windows and scorching heat, I had no less than 100 no-see-ums (sand fleas) bites making me miserable and unable to sleep.

We have breakfast in the tiny kitchen but dinners will be at the larger dining room table.


Crazy! We found another place and moved out in a week but the owners refused to refund our money.  Now, years later, the rental website, HomeAway would have been helpful to resolve this and get us a refund.  

I don’t know how we managed to fit all the perishables in this tiny refrigerator.  This is the only refrigerator in the property.  We’ll have to shop with this small space in mind.


This property in Falmouth certainly doesn’t have nearly as many nor severe issues as that house in Placencia, Belize.  Overall, the issues are minor, except for one…we still don’t have a single towel in the house except for two kitchen towels.  


We weren’t able to shower without towels although this morning I used one of our own dish towels to dry off.  Weird!  That was a first for me. Tom will wait until the towels hopefully arrive today.

The living room (lounge) has everything we need.  We each sit on one of the two sofas when working on our laptops.  


In addition, the shower leaks onto the floor even when not in use due to a poor plumbing connection.  The owner warned us to make sure the shower faucet is fully turned off when we’re done.  However, there’s obviously something wrong with the connection when we never used the shower yesterday.


The house wasn’t entirely clean or organized when we checked it.  It wasn’t outrageously dirty but things like messy bed-making, dirty rags lying around, etc. made us a bit frustrated.  Since that time in Belize in 2013, we’d never encountered any issues.  The holiday rentals were meticulous.

A little messy with our stuff cluttering the dining room table but this space will work well for dinners after we’ve since removed everything.

Some owners leave us a variety of converters and adapters to use for plugging in our digital equipment.  Alas, none were here and we headed out to town to buy what we needed.  As it turned out, the grocery store, Tesco, had everything the appropriate converted and we were able to recharge all of our equipment.

This seagull perched on the fence post asking, “Ya got any pellets?”  We did not and he later flew away.

While we were at Tesco we decided to grocery shop to be able to eat dinner in.  We were both exhausted, needed showers and didn’t feel up to going out.  Instead, we made a quick and easy dinner, as mentioned in yesterday’s post found here.

As it turns out, the house has an odd configuration of steps on the second level where the three bedrooms are location requiring us to be extra careful when going from the bedroom to the bathroom.  

The oceanfront houses, some large and others small present an eclectic look along the coastline.

The steps leading to the second level are otherwise straight up and not excessively steep, compared to the spiral staircase in the house in Ireland.  Also, there’s only one bathroom located on the second level, requiring us both to go up and down several times a day.

Rolling greens hills at a distance.

My feeling at this point is the steps to the bathroom will be a good form of exercise and so far, I’m doing ok with it.  But, the parking situation, with no assigned parking requires we scramble to find a spot and then once we do, the hilly roads present a challenging walk to get to the terraced house overlooking the bay.  Tom suggests he drop me off at the gate to the house, but I insist on walking with him.


From there, we have to walk up or down 25 uneven stone steps to get to and from the back of the house to the terraced level where the house is located.  I’ll certainly be getting much-needed exercise while here which ultimately is a good thing.  See the photo below for these steps, taken from the bottom.  There is a handrail which helps.

Twenty-five uneven stone steps to get from the house to the road and then on to where Tom’s been able to find a parking spot.

Otherwise, it is beautiful here with stunning views of the bay, the smell of fresh sea air, and access to many restaurants, pubs and shopping only minutes away.  The downtown area is absolutely unbelievable.  I can’t wait to take photos and share them with all of you.


The bed and bedding are comfortable and last night we both had a good night’s sleep.  Today, Tom is catching up on missed Minnesota Vikings preseason games while I work on some financial tasks, leaving us free to embrace this exquisite town and all that it has to offer.

The view is astounding in each direction.

A special thanks to our friend/reader Liz, from Bristol, England whom we met in person in London in 2014 when we stayed in South Kensington for two weeks and she came to meet us.  She took the train, two hours each way to meet us and we both had a fabulous day with her, staying in touch all these years.

This view takes our breath away!

Yesterday, when we arrived at the house there was a piece of snail mail for us.  Liz had handwritten a welcoming letter on a pretty card, making suggestions on what to do while we’re here in her ancestral town.  


Whoever handwrites letters these days?  We couldn’t have been more appreciative and impressed.  Hopefully, we’ll see Liz again when we move up the coast for these four properties as we get nearer and nearer to her home in Bristol.


Have a beautiful day!  We’ll be back with more tomorrow!

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Photo from one year ago today, August 24, 2018:
This young male’s horns have started to sprout.  He was mature and experienced enough to know that looking into our eyes would reap some rewards.  How right, he is!  For more photos, please click here.


Final expenses for 89 nights in Ireland…Highlights of our stay in Connemara…One day until departure…Last favorite photos…

It was fantastic to have friends Lisa and Barry and friend Chuck visit us in Connemara for a few days!  We met Lisa and Barry on a cruise in November 2017.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland 
“There are around 82,600 speakers of Irish who use the language at home on a daily basis. Contrast this with Polish, where 119,526 speak the language at home, making it the second most spoken language on the island!”

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Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do everything we’d planned while in Connemara, Ireland.  Perhaps someday we’ll return and stay in another area with a better opportunity to explore and see the sites.

What an adorable sheep with his budding horns.

But overall, we felt our time here was enjoyable and worthwhile as we came to understand the culture, the terrain, and the unique personality of this special location.  

The views across the bay were stunning, even on cloudy days.

Also, we experienced visits to a few museums, a history center, a castle, a famous fish shop, a world-renowned food truck, an interesting visit to the quaint town of Oughterard, a famous craft shop, and a tour of the popular Roundstone area.


We spent endless hours driving through the countryside reveling in the stunning views including seeing a vast number of adorable barnyard animals including sheep, goats, donkeys, cattle, horses.  

Various ruins of homes, barns, and castles pepper the landscape.

Each evening we took time to relax while gazing out the big picture window to scan the sea for boats, people, birds, and wildlife.  A few days ago, we spotted two otters close to the shore.  

We visited a museum in Clifden, the Station House Museum.

On many evenings we giggled over the cattle in our side yard.  For those growing up in this area, none of this would be exciting.  But for us, we loved every moment.


We dined in only a few restaurants but thoroughly enjoyed cooking our meals at “home” with the vast array of foodstuffs we hadn’t had access to in a long time.  Even a trip to the supermarket was a delightful experience.

The museum has a wide array of well-preserved antiques indigenous to the area.

This stay provided the best access we ever had to outrageously good fish and seafood, most of which we purchased at our front door from dear friend and fish guy, John.  Tom had a chance to have the finest fish and chips he’d ever had by a short drive to John and wife Theresa’s takeaway seafood shop in Carna, Flaherty’s Seafood.

A Connemara pony, unique to the area.

We ate authentic scallops sauteed with butter, olive oil and garlic for a taste-tempting treat like non-other.   I sauteed the finest calamari rings I’ve ever had in the same manner as the scallops.


We met wonderful people everywhere we went, including Eileen, our property owner, Ann, our house cleaner, and the fine people at every shop, restaurant and stop along the way.

We couldn’t help but love this pretty cow’s horns.
We lived in a comfortable house which may be found here that provided every amenity we required and then some.  When I asked about a blender for my daily protein smoothies, it was waiting for us when we arrived.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.


Yes, I’ve struggled with the steep spiral staircase to the bedroom level which ultimately proved to be a good exercise for me.  Although I still push myself to get upstairs, once there, my heart rate recovers quickly.
Cute little rabbit stopping by on a sunny morning.

Tomorrow morning, at 10:00 am we’re leaving the house to drive to Dublin where we’ll spend the night.  Once we arrived and get settled into our hotel, I’ll prepare a short post, the last from Ireland.  


The next post from there will be prepared in Amsterdam where we’ll stay for two nights awaiting the 12-night Baltic cruise.  From there, we’re off to England to fulfill a dream of living in the English countryside, in this case in four different locations over two months. 
At the bar in the restaurant Tigh Mheach.  (I dare you to pronounce this!)

From there, we’re off to the US for a two-plus months stay in several locations in three states; Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona.


Watch for a post tomorrow, a few hours later then usual allowing us ample time to drive to Dublin.


Below is the total expenses for the three months we spent in Connemara with one night in Dublin:

Final Expenses – 89 nights*
Ireland 5/11/19 to 8/8/19 
                                       US Dollar             Euro   
Rent + Hotel                   $ 7500.36           6700.70
Air, Train, Ferry                  3853.17           3442.56
Taxi, Car Rental, Fuel         2967.03            2650.37
Entertainment                     275.00              245.68
Dining Out                          378.35              338.01
Groceries                          3434.90            3068.68
Misc., Tips, Cleaning           1046.81             935.20


TOTAL                             $19955.62         17381.00
Monthly Average                  6651.87           5967.95
Daily Average                        224.22             200.27


*In this particular case, the expenses were higher than originally budgeted due to the cost of the business class airfare for me for the long flight from South Africa to Ireland.  In the majority of cases, we both fly coach.


Enjoy the day and evening!
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Photo from one year ago today, August 7, 2018:
Four hornbills loving our birdfeeder.  For more photos, please click here.

Happy Easter…A typical Easter Day in our old lives…What will we do today?…More favorite photos…

 
An elephant in the bush watching us take photos. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An adorable duiker resting in the bush.
In our old lives, Easter was a big deal for our family, along with the spiritual significance of this special holiday.  On Saturday, we’d attend church in the little town of Victoria where we were members for many years.
Lounging lions.


We’d leave Sunday for the festivities with our kids and grandkids.  I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss the fun times we all had together; the filled and decorated Easter baskets for each family member and their pets; the monstrous bunny rabbit cake (Tammy always wanted the bunny’s tail) covered in fluffy frosting and coconut; the games we played to find the plastic eggs with varying amounts of money in them (Greg always won the most); the Easter Egg hunt for the little ones and of course, the incessant laughter.

A tower of giraffes crossing the paved road in Kruger.

As the years passed and our kids had kids of their own and often “the other side of the family” to also spend time with, we spent the morning and early afternoon together, enjoying a great brunch I’d prepared ahead of time to avoid being rushed during all the fun events.

A parade of elephants on the move.

After they left, Tom and I did the dishes, tidied the house and put everything back in its place.  For Easter dinner, we often ate brunch leftovers, just the two of us.  It was a good day.


Now, we don’t engage in any of these activities, other than today, Tom baked a loaf of homemade coconut banana bread and made one of my low carb favorites, almond flour coffee cake, not made with coffee but with many wonderful low carb ingredients.

Oxpecker on giraffe’s leg.

Tonight, our dinner will be a repeat of last night dinner of Low Carb Costco Copycat Stuffed Chicken loaves, a favorite of both of us.  With a side salad and pile of fresh green beans, we’re content.

Tonight, after dinner we’ll watch a few of our favorite TV shows:  Billions, Ray Donovan and Homeland since today we’re signing up with Showtime for a few months.  We do this a few times each year with various streaming services, watching the shows we love until we’ve completed the season’s series.

Elephants playing in the water.

Then, we cancel the first service and move on to another.  Once we’re done with Showtime, we’ll switch to HBO for a month to watch the remaining episodes of Game of Thrones.

It’s not possible to watch certain streaming services outside of the US, UK or Australia, etc.  Thus, we use a VPN, virtual private network, that we can set to the country in which the shows are being broadcast and we avoid the message that says, “You cannot view this show outside of US (for example).

Taking a muddy break.

Whenever one is attempting to stream, the service picks up the country in which you’re currently residing.  By using the VPN, we can set it to appear we’re steaming from the appropriate country.  Recently, we switched from HotSpot Shield to Express VPN which provides us with more options although it’s more expensive.


Hotspot Shield was ZAR 422, US $29.95 a year and Express VPN is ZAR 1392, US $99 a year.  Some may consider this a huge expense but since we don’t pay for cable, WiFi or TV services, we find it is worthwhile.  Also, for example, we’ll pay for Showtime at ZAR 154, US $10.99 a month.  

We had to wait quite a while for this elephant to move to continue on down the road. 

We continue to use Graboid, at ZAR 280, US $19.95 a month, a service from which we can download shows and we’ve used since the onset of our travels.  Our maximum total monthly expense including the VPN which also adds another layer of security is ZAR 436, US $30.99 plus, the expenses for paying for any special shows we can’t get at any of these streaming services.

In our old lives, almost seven years ago, our month cable bill was ZAR 3303, US $235.  We don’t flinch at the ZAR 436, US $30.99, comparatively.

The size of an elephant’s foot is astounding.

We never turn on the TV at any of the holiday homes we rent, during the day or evening. We find watching a few shows at night on my laptop which is relaxing and enjoyable, especially lately as I convalesce from surgery while requires me to keep my feet up around the clock. 


If I wasn’t having to be off my feet we’d be dining on the veranda, often staying outdoors to watch and feed the wildlife until 2100 hours, 9:00 pm, then going indoors to watch one or two favorite shows on my laptop. 

A tower of giraffes in the bush in Kruger.

Of course, we have a few nights each week when we’re socializing with friends, which came to an abrupt end when I could no longer sit in a chair.  It’s been almost three weeks without much socializing other than dear friends who’ve stopped by for a visit as was the case this morning, a delightfully pleasant surprise.


In a few weeks, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken will be back, close to the time we’re supposed to fly away.  Fun activities and gatherings are already planned during that last week, health providing.


Regardless of how you spent your Easter Sunday, we wish you the very best. Thanks for sharing it with us!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2018:

Can you imagine having this photo op? (Photo was taken at Giraffe Manor in Kenya).  It was one year ago today, we booked the exciting tour to Kenya which included a visit to Giraffe Manor.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel due to my heart surgery.  Perhaps someday??  For more photos of what we missed, please click here.

The power outages continue…No power for many hours…Trying to stay positive…

This is a younger wildebeest who visits on occasion with what appears to be his dad.  We call them, “Dad & Son.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Little’s stopped by a few times today including during the pouring rain.

We love this house in the bush.  We love living in the bush.  The wildlife, the people, it’s all beyond our greatest aspirations of spending time in Africa.  But, with it, there are some challenges, for which we’re making every effort to stay upbeat and positive.



The hardest part has been not sleeping for the past two nights when the power was out for 12 hours each night, the first night beginning at 2100 hours (9:00 pm) and the second-night beginning at 1930 hours (7:30 pm).  In the past 18 hours, we’ve only had power for less than three hours.

If it hadn’t been so hot, it wouldn’t have been so difficult. But with no screens on the windows, no breeze whatsoever and daytime temps in the 42C (107.6) with high humidity with nighttime temps only slightly less, sleeping was out of the question.
Big Daddy eating pellets off the veranda’s edge.

Twice during the past two nights, we each took cold showers but even the water temperature wasn’t cool enough to do any good.  Within minutes, we were soaking wet in sweat once again.  I don’t recall any time in my entire life that I sweated so much.


After each shower, I had to load up again on insect repellent that works great without DEET but is sticky and smells awful.  It almost wasn’t worth taking the showers.

It’s easier for male kudus to eat this way as opposed to bending down with those giant horns.  Wildebeest Willie waits in the background for his turn.

I’d considered the possibility of our leaving to stay at a hotel until the crowds in Marloth Park thin out and less power is needed to accommodate the additional power usage. 

Tom wasn’t enthused about the costs for spending on two rental properties simultaneously when we have huge payments upcoming in the next two weeks for future cruises and the final payment on the Kenya tour.  I get that and didn’t press the issue.

Finally, Willie inches his way into the pellets on the ground.

For the heck of it, I checked online and there wasn’t a single room available outside Marloth Park during the next week or two.  After all, it’s still the holiday season which here in South Africa doesn’t officially end until well into January.  My research was pointless.

The aircon in our main floor bedroom has officially died.  No matter what we do, it won’t turn on – new batteries in the remote – resetting the electric switch when the power is back on temporarily – nothing works.

At times, there are scuffles over dominance.

If we have power tonight and it’s still so hot, we’ll have to sleep upstairs for working aircon.  But, that’s not the problem.  Most likely, we won’t have power. As soon as everyone in Marloth Park turns on their aircon, the power goes out.  There’s just too many people here.

We’ve heard that some holidaymakers have left due to the power outages and the heat.  Whether or not their landlords/property managers have given them any type of refund or credit remains to be seen.  

It rained for a few hours today bit not long enough.

I suppose all Marloth Park rental agreements should have a clause stating, “It is possible, if not likely, that during your occupancy, the power, Wi-Fi services, and/or water services may be interrupted from time to time.  No refunds will be provided in the event of such occurrences.”

After all, this is Africa (known as TIA) and stuff happens here which may rarely occur in one’s home country.  Its the price one pays to partake of the many wonders this continent has to offer, experiences that dreams are made of.

Each time it rains the bush gets greener with life-saving vegetation for the wildlife.

And, as hard as it is right now to sleep and to bear the heat during the days, we have the time to look forward to when the holidaymakers leave and everything is right with the world once again.

Instead of counting the days until we leave, I’m counting the days until they leave.  If predictions are accurate this should be around January 9th – 12 days and counting.

Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2017:

Orange.....more than just a colour!
This is exactly what we posted one year ago today: “The entrance to our new vacation/holiday home we’ll be renting in Marloth Park beginning on February 11th, aptly named “Orange…More Than Just a Colour.”  For the link to this listing, please click here.”  For the entire post, please click here.

Remembering Tom’s birthday over our years of world travel….Happy birthday, Tom!!!…

December 23, 2013:  We were so preoccupied from a “safari luck” day in Kruger, we didn’t take photos of Tom on his birthday.  Instead, here’s a favorite hippo photo we took on the sunset game drive.  Click here for details.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We were thrilled to see Wildebeest Willie stop by for a bit of hay, some pellets and a nap in the shade.

Looking back at posts on Tom’s birthday since 2012, after we’d left Minnesota to begin our journey, we’re reminded of how few photos we’ve taken of us over the years. 

It’s not as if we’re particularly camera shy.  It’s more about the fact that we’re preoccupied with our surroundings, finding using the camera’s timer to take a photo of us a bit cumbersome, and preferring not to disturb other travelers to take our photo.


December 23, 2012:  At that time, we rarely posted photos unaware of how big the commitment to posting would eventually become and all the worldwide readers we’d eventually have.  Click here for the text from the post on Tom’s birthday in 2012.


Also, I guess I wasn’t diligent enough over the years to take photos of Tom on his birthdays as often as I could have.  Tonight, at Rita and Gerhard’s temporary home at Ngwenya where they’re making a special birthday dinner for him, I promise to take photos.

December 23, 2014:  Click here for a video taken on Tom’s birthday while in the Pahoa, on the Big Island in Hawaii with our kids and grandkids.


Last night, we did take photos at Kathy and Don’s party but once again, none of us, as we were preoccupied chatting with everyone, dining on excellent starters, appetizers or PuPu platters as Kathy and Don, who also live in Hawaii, refer to a variety of platters of delicious foodstuffs suitable for nibbling or dining.  We’ll post those photos soon.

But, today, Tom’s birthday is my primary focus.  I know, I could go on and on extolling his virtues as a husband, lover, travel companion and best friend but you’ve heard it all before.
December 23, 2015:   Tom’s birthday dinner in Fiji my rumpled lobster juice soiled clothes were a sight to see after dinner.  Click here for details.

Recently, I read some review from another travel writer’s post and the wife was severely criticized for raving on and on about how wonderful her husband is.  I cringed thinking, “Oh, good grief, that could be me.”

We don’t get many “haters” and are extremely grateful we don’t have to deal with the emotional upheaval that can be precipitated by negative comments from readers.  

Thus, I learned a lesson from someone else’s experience and will temper my enthusiasm in describing Tom’s fine qualities.  Above all, on this day of his, I’ll simply say I am grateful…for him…for our lives together…for the friends we’ve made along the way and for this magical world we live in.

December 23, 2016:  Mersey Beach bluff in Tasmania where we dined on Tom’s birthday.  The outdoor food wasn’t exceptional, the live band was festive and ocean views were exquisite. But, again I failed to take photos of him that night.  Click here for details.

It’s not just Marloth Park.  It’s also all the other places we’ve visited in the past six years.  It’s all the other experiences we’ve had along the way.  And, we can’t forget the joys of our “old lives” so many moons ago that linger as distant memories that flood our hearts and minds when we stop for a moment to recall.


Tonight we’ll celebrate with friends.  Today, we’ll revel in the day and whatever morsels of nature wander our way.  We’ve already been greeted by Ms. Bushbuck and Baby and of course, our friend “Little” who loved eating the apple peels from the birthday dessert Tom requested for tonight – homemade gluten-free apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  



We have no doubt tonight will be wonderful at Rita and Gerhard’s birthday dinner.  We’re bringing all the ingredients to make sugar free Lemon Drop Martinis for this special occasion and his non-traditional birthday cake of apple crisp.
December 23, 2017:  Happy 65th birthday to my darling husband, lover,  travel companion and forever friend who has made this special and unique life of world travel possible.  Click here for details.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from last night’s party and tonight including photos of us and our friends.


Christmas is almost here.  May the blessings of the holiday season (for those who celebrate) fill your hearts and homes with love.

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2017:

Panamanian hats for sale in Manta, Ecuador.  This was the last post with favorite photos from the 30-night South America cruise which ended on this date, one year ago.  Click here for details.

Oh, what a night!!!…Thanksgiving nirvana…See our menu at the end of the post…

From left to right around the table:  Kathy, Janet, Steve, Don, Louise, Danie, Leon, Dawn, Uschi, Evan while Tom and I shared the end of the table.  Total in attendance: 12.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Good-sized turtle crossing the road at quite a pace.

It was definitely a night to remember.  Marloth Park friends, all who love the bush and its wildlife, enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal for the first time, except for Americans Kathy and Don.

Thanksgiving dinner on the veranda with friends.

Tom and I worked hard in the heat for two full days to get it all pulled together.  No doubt, I did the bulk of the cooking but he washes the cooking dishes; peeled two types of potatoes; helped with the pies; the veranda setup and so much more.  We’re quite a team at times like this.

The wine and cocktails flowed along with the lively conversation.

I can’t recall the last time we did a dinner for 12.  Surely, it was in our old lives sometime in 2012 before we left Minnesota on October 31st.  I’d forgotten how much work it is but the joy of sharing food, wine and conversation with great friends made it all worth it.

On the right, Evan, Uschi, Dawn and Leon.

Fortunately, everything came out well, although, at the last minute with a few items to reheat in the new microwave, we couldn’t get it to work.  With time running out to meet the 1930 hrs (7:30 pm) goal of sitting down to eat, I improvised and reheated the items on the stove and all was fine.


We were only off the dining time by 10 minutes.  It was wonderful to finally sit down and enjoy the enthusiasm of our guests over the unique flavors of the foods.

Each couple got their own roast stuffed chicken.

We’d given each couple an entire stuffed chicken with the many side dishes. After dinner, with all the leftovers still on the countertop, we handed each couple two takeaway containers to fill with their leftover chicken and any sides they wanted to take home for Sunday’s lunch or dinner.


It was fun and playful to see everyone partake in filling their takeaway containers (brought to us from Jabula by Dawn and Leon).  It reminded us of the many years we did the same with our family…take home leftovers and a pie.

Homemade cranberry sauce.

The full-sized pumpkin pies were lined up on the pool table ready for them to load up to take home along with their containers.  We served a separate larger pie after the meal so each couple could take home a complete full-sized pie.  We served whipped cream in the can with the pies.


It was hard for me not to take a taste of everything not only to ensure it all tasted good but, let’s face it, my resolve faded for the night and I actually ate a few items I’d never eat under normal circumstances.  At the end of the evening, I even went as far as having a small piece of the regular pumpkin pie.

On the left, a pan of extra stuffing, in the center, sweet potatoes (they are light colored here, not orange).

Today, with no leftover chicken but plenty of all the other sides, we’ll be roasting a “flattie” chicken, chicken livers and a couple of bone-in chicken breasts.  This will allow us to have full meals for the next few night’s dinners.  I don’t feel like cooking for a few days.


Of course, today, I’m back to my healthy way of eating and will only have chicken, lettuce salad and steamed spinach for tonight’s dinner while Tom will tackle the stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and the homemade dinner rolls (he sure loves these!).  He’ll have pie for dessert and I’ve promised myself I will abstain.  

More stuffing.

Oh my gosh, there were so many dishes.  But, leave it to Louise to have arranged for Vusi to come this morning to do the dishes, clean the house and the veranda, putting everything back to its usual tidy and clean state.  


Tom had a hard time leaving the dishes overnight.  We always totally clean up after dinner.  But, after the two days of 40C (102F) temps and how busy we’d been, he loaded the dishwasher twice after awakening at 5:30 am this morning, lightening the work for Vusi.

Low carb mashed cauliflower.

This morning, I washed all the linen napkins, cleaned the countertops, did two loads of laundry and organized the refrigerator.   All we have to do for the rest of today is to make a salad and vegetables, cook the new chicken and have another excellent evening on the veranda.  A nap may be on the agenda since we didn’t get to bed until 1:30 am and both were awake before 5:00 am.


Last night, we had several visitors in the garden but were so preoccupied with our guests we didn’t pay as much attention to them as usual.  Tusker made an appearance along with our favorite warthog pair, two males, glued at the hip, Sigfreid and Roy.  We can’t tell them apart since they look identical (must be brothers) so we call each of them “Sigfreid and Roy.”  They both respond and did so last night during the party. 

Traditional green bean casserole.  Kathy brought the fried onions back from the US!  Thanks, Kathy!

On Friday night when we returned from Jabula, they were both cuddled up in the garden fast asleep.  They perked up when we arrived but waited patiently to see if we’d offer some pellets.  Of course, we did as we will again tonight.


As promised, here’s last night’s Thanksgiving dinner menu which we’d decorated and printed a copy of the menu for each couple to review in order to pace themselves:

Menu

Thanksgiving Dinner in the Bush

Sundowners with Light Snacks

Roasted chickens
Stuffing with Sausage, Mushrooms, Onions
Mashed Potatoes with Creamy Gravy
Buttery Mashed Cauliflower
Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Pineapple and Cinnamon
Broccoli Salad with Crunchy Almonds and Sultanas
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion Rings
Cranberry Sauce
Homemade dinner rolls
Pumpkin Pies
Whipped Cream Topping, if desired

Have a superb day!

__________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, November 18, 2017:

A fluffed up version on an unknown bird Tom captured in Costa Rica.  For more details, please click here.

Mongoose mania in the morning…Delightful litter critters we’re coming to know..What’s our weekly expense for is feeding the wildlife?…

The mongoose now comes up the steps to let us know they’d like some eggs.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Tree Frog has become a regular fixture hanging out on this light fixture every night after dark.  Most likely he’s attracted to the possibility of eating many insects around the light.

Mongooses fascinate us.  (Yes, the plural of mongoose is most often mongooses, not necessarily mongeese).  There is no biological connection between mongooses and geese.

The mongooses get along well with Ms. Bushbuck and Baby.

A group of mongooses ranging from 20 to 50 participants is called a band.  In our area in Marloth Park, most often we see the banded (striped) mongoose.  Most often they visit us in small groups of 20 or so but we’ve definitely had visits from as many as 60 or 70 of the funny little creatures 

“Only one more step to go,” says one mongoose to another.

In Africa, there are 34 species of mongooses but there are also these and other species in parts of Asia and Europe.  In many countries, they are highly revered for their ability to fight with a venomous snake, surviving many bites.  

Mongooses are adept at killing snakes due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom.  Thus, we welcome them as visitors hoping their presence, which is daily, keeps the snake population at bay during the upcoming spring and summer months.

“I made it all the way to the top.  Now, let’s see if the humans notice me!”

Some mongooses are strictly carnivores but those that visit us, the banded mongooses, seem to enjoy eating the small apple chunks that we toss to a wide variety of visitors although not with the enthusiasm as when we provide the bowl of scrambled eggs as shown in today’s photo with a mongoose lying in it.

“I’ll hide under the braai so they don’t see me.”

Each week, while I shop for groceries in Komatipoort Tom heads to the market in Lebombo where he purchases five dozen eggs for the mongooses and carrots and apples for the remaining wildlife which we “serve'” along with the pellets.

Our weekly cost for feeding wildlife is as follows:
Carrots 5 kg:  ZAR 34.90  (US $2.44)
Apples 2 bags: ZAR  39.80 (US $2.78)
Eggs 5 dozen:  ZAR 79.80  (US $5.57)
Pellets 60 kg:  ZAR 329.29 (US $23.00)
Total: ZAR 488.79 (US $33.79) 

“Hmm…should I try it too?”

We also eat the carrots in the 5 kg bag since they are of exceptional quality.  However, we don’t consume apples with our way of eating and prefer buying “free-range organic eggs” which we purchase weekly at Spar for our own use.

The total weekly/month cost may seem like to big number to be tossing out to wildlife but the amount of enjoyment we get derive while providing wildlife with added sustenance is well worth the money.



“Gee…the eggs are all gone but I think I’ll lay in the bowl to let them know we want more.”

We never go to a movie, dine out only once per week on average, don’t have the cost of upkeep and home maintenance (including cable bills, lawn service, utilities and trips to Home Depot) results in the most exquisite entertainment found anywhere in the world as far as we’re concerned.  

In our old lives, it was nothing unusual to drop ZAR 7159 (US $500) during a single trip to Costco, considered in itself to be quite entertaining, while loading up on massive sizes of household goods and food.  Those days are long past.


“Trying a different position.  Maybe this will work.”

We do not feed the wildlife our leftover food.  We plan our meals carefully and rarely have leftover food to toss.  Nor would we feel it is safe for the wildlife to be fed human food.  Their digestive systems are developed to consume vegetation and for the carnivores, like the banded mongooses that visit us, they consume insects, small rodents, frogs, lizards, snakes, and eggs. 

We often hear stories of holidaymakers and some local residents feeding the wildlife totally inappropriate foods, such as potato chips and fries, pasta and desserts and other sugary, starchy foods that aren’t befitting their physical makeup.

“That didn’t work.  Maybe I’ll take a nap.”

In a perfect world, the bush would be rife with greenery, vegetation, and water sufficient to feed the wildlife.  But, the reality is such that it’s not always possible and the sustenance we provide is only a tiny portion of what they need to be well nourished.

Soon, when the rains come, we’ll be excited to see the wildlife thrive in a richer greener environment. Even so, we have no doubt they’ll continue to visit us whether or not they’re hungry as they are now in this parched dry terrain.


May your day be rich in experience and purpose.

___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2017:

After many inquiries as to these low carb chicken stuffed loaves, this recipe is included in the link below.  Food is a big part of our world travels as we’re sure it is for most of you when traveling, whether homemade or dining in restaurants.  We tripled the recipe in order to result in four meals, freezing part of it.  For recipe and instructions, please click here.