Rainy Sunday morning…Will our plans for the river be dashed?…A decision is made…

Wildebeests in the driveway near the rental car.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Thick Neck, Bad Leg,
  • 6 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 kudu- inc. Medium Daddy
  • 3 hornbills – banging on the kitchen window for hours
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

With plans for river sightings with Rita and Gerhard today at 3:00 pm, a rainy morning may indicate that we won’t be heading out today. Anxious for new photos to share here, after a steady stream of regulars in the garden, day after day (which we love but our readers may not), we have been looking forward to seeing our friends again with an opportunity to take big game photos.

The wildlife tends to hunker down on rainy and windy days, so if we go, regardless of the weather, we may not see much action on the river today. However, right now and last night, we could hear lions Fluffy and Desi roaring in Lionspruit, which abuts the end of our back garden. We’ve listened to that roar over and over again, and it always makes us smile. What an exquisite sound!

Hornbills next to the veranda enjoying Frank’s seeds.

It’s not only the photos and videos we take that make this experience so delightful. The sounds, day and night, are thrilling and, at the same time, heartwarming; whether it’s birds or animals, it all sends a chill down our spines. So many of these sounds may be heard when viewing any of our videos, over and above my endless chatter describing the current scene in view.

Of course, our big concern is that our readers will become bored with photos of warthogs, bushbucks, and kudus and lose interest in our site. So we always strive to “shake it up,” but with the limitations for travel due to Covid-19, we’re fast running out of new and exciting photos.

Then again, I have been under the weather for almost three weeks, continuing to cough, and haven’t felt like doing much of anything other than sitting on the veranda watching our furry friends stop by for a warm “hello” and, of course, pellets, carrots, apples, and cabbage.

A dark-capped bulbul. Sorry for the blurry photo. They don’t stay still for a good shot.

Well, folks, maybe it will get more interesting coming up here in 23 days when we are finally leaving South Africa for about a little over three weeks to return to the US for several reasons; 1. to see our family members in Minnesota, Nevada ad Wisconsin; 2. to get the Covid-19 J & J  vaccine, which is readily available at many locations in the Twin Cities; and 3. to get that darned visa stamp we so much need, when our visas expire on June 30th.

It doesn’t seem realistic that SA President Cyril Ramaphosa will be extending visas for foreign nationals again in the next 24 days. He opened visas last time at the beginning of a month to June 30th, not at the end, as we need at this point. So it’s doubtful the dates will coincide with our needs.

Thus, yesterday afternoon, we began booking rental cars and hotels for our already-in-place flight from Johannesburg to Minneapolis on June 30th with Lufthansa Airlines. So all we have left to book is:

  1. A round trip flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Joburg
  2. A one-way flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas to visit son Richard
  3. A return flight from Las Vegas to Joburg

    Warthogs and mongoose get along well, paying little attention to one another.

We have yet to book the Las Vegas/Henderson hotel, which we’ll do today, planning on staying at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino in Henderson, which is close to Richard‘s home. Unfortunately, we will be in Las Vegas during the hottest month of the year, so we won’t spend much time outdoors if we can help it.

As for visiting Tom’s dear sister, Sister Beth, a nun in a nursing home in Milwaukee, we will drive from Minneapolis, returning a few days later to fly to Las Vegas from there. We’ll see Sister Beth, and then Tom wants to visit a few cemeteries for his Ancestry stuff.

It will be a busy time, and we hope to take many photos along the way. But, of course, we’ll continue to post each day, even during the long travel days while on long layovers.

At this point, regardless of the visa scenario changing again for foreign nationals in South Africa, we’re committed to leaving Marloth Park on June 29th to begin the long journey to the US. We hope to get our J & J vaccine on July 2, which we plan to book before leaving here.

Also, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. It looks like we’ll be able to go to the river today, after all! We’ll be back with more tomorrow, including what we’ll be doing with our vacation home during our absence.

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2020:

While in Campanaria, Madeira, Portugal, we heard the music coming from the fish guy’s truck and raced up the hill to meet him. He held up a tuna for us to inspect. It was smaller than some of the others, but this size was perfect. It weighed 7.7 kg, 17 pounds, and the cost was INR 2569, US $34. He cut them into portion-sized pieces, wrapping each piece individually. For more photos, please click here.

Today, is our 9 year anniversary of posting…Will we make it to the 10-year milestone?

This is where we’ll sleep tonight. We won’t even have to change the bedding when Zef and Vusi take care of everything tomorrow. We appreciate them too, as we do Louise and Danie, for always making everything perfect for us.

Today is the ninth anniversary of our first post being uploaded, which may be found at this link. It’s a little hard for us to wrap our brains around how much time has passed since we began posting. At that time, we infrequently wrote, only as often as three times a week at most. But, a year later, as reader interest grew, we began posting daily and have continued doing so as long as we had access to the internet.

Speaking of the internet, we have no WiFi at the moment. Load shedding is happening, and often WiFi goes out simultaneously.

Will we make it to the ten-year mark? We’re hoping so. Of course, it’s always predicated by our health a year from now. All we can do is continue to make every effort to stay as healthy as possible for as long as we can.

The view toward the braai from where we are seated now.

This morning we’ve moved into Louise and Danie‘s beautiful home while they are fumigating our house and living in one of their gorgeous rental properties with some of their visiting family members. It’s almost as if this is a mini one-day holiday for us, with different surroundings and the finest of amenities one would only find in such a luxury property. We are quite content, although we do enjoy our little house on Luiperd Street. (Translates to Leopard).

As we were packing to leave this morning, Little stopped by, sitting in his favorite spot next to my chair off the edge of the veranda, waiting for me to come outside to see him. Tom gave him some pellets while he waited while I was showering.

Last night, we cooked extra mozzarella stuffed, bacon-wrapped chicken breasts, enough for us for tonight’s dinner. All we’ll need to do is reheat the chicken and Tom’s white rice in their microwave. We didn’t want to make a big mess in Louise’s kitchen and decided leftovers would be fine.

Tonight we’ll sit at this lovely bar and enjoy sundowners in  Louise and Danie’s home.

Over the weekend, Louise and Danie visited Daisy’s Den to purchase some mite control spray. They discovered I’m not the only one who’s been suffering from dust mite allergies. Many residents of Marloth Park have been trying to figure out ways to eliminate these pesky, impossible-to-see insects. Even Louise’s arms were covered in itchy spots like mine.

In a way, it is comforting to know that I’m not the only one suffering from dust mite allergies. Of course, dust mites will no longer be a problem once the winter comes in a few months and temperatures cool. They increase in hot, humid climates. Today is a little cooler than yesterday at only 87F, 31C, with an expected high of 90F, 32C. Tomorrow will be hotter and more humid once again and continue throughout the remainder of the week.

Yesterday, Tom got to work on finding a good deal for a rental car for our next three months beginning the day we return to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport on April 14th. Since we don’t have a car of our own, with coverage for rental cars, we’ve been renting cars, one month at a time, when our credit cards offer complimentary insurance, good for only 30 days. Thus, when we’ve rented for three months, we have to make three separate contracts.

Tom is situated at the end of this big table on the veranda.

This time, based on higher rates in South Africa during Easter, we had difficulty finding fair pricing, month by month. By an odd bit of luck, he found a car through Thrifty at the airport for three months, including full insurance coverage for the entire period for US $1207, ZAR 17958, making our monthly rate US $402, ZAR 5981, as good a price as we could as for with the insurance is included. We usually select the smaller, less expensive cars, which work well for us.

Now that we have all the bookings we need for the next three-month period in South Africa, we have peace of mind and can rest easy except for our need for the Covid-19 vaccine. It appears that non-citizens of South Africa will not qualify for the vaccine. We’ll have to consider what our other options may be. We’ll need a new Covid-19 test before we leave for Kenya in 24 days, which we can get at the lab in Komatipoort a few days before we depart.

At the moment, the power and WiFi have resumed. It’s almost 1:00 pm, and as soon as we finish here, we’ll have the remainder of the day ahead of us to relax and do as we please, free of any pertinent paperwork or research for bookings. This is a first for a while. We’ll certainly take advantage of it.

Have a pleasant, peaceful day.

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2020:

This is the grass left from harvesting rice. Note the horns on these buffalos. Indian ricegrass is highly palatable to livestock and wildlife. It is a preferred feed for cattle, horses, and elk in all seasons. In spring, it is considered a preferred feed for sheep, deer, and antelope and a desirable feed for sheep, deer, and antelope in late fall and winter. For more photos, please click here.
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!

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

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.

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

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

I have been following you for quite a while and today 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 ten 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 were stuck in Cape Town.
We are staying in a lovely home with all we could need but are just 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.

In the future, 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, I tried a different dinner option in the past few days 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 will get on board with those of us making this commitment!

Be well.

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

The view across Lough Pollaacapull is 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 had 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 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 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.

But first, we’ll see if we can locate a bag and the cost. 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. 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. We both wore masks throughout the flights for the first time, although we realized it’s 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.

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 pack.

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, threw several items, and packed the new one, 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 primary 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 good wishes. We’ll be thinking of all of you.

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 was 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.

A herd of sheep moving on down the road.

Sure, we tend to sugarcoat these rampant realities with 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 a totally clear day? Hardly.

A 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 instead of what they don’t. We are humbled by their acceptance and kindness, 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 the 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 unique 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 were limited to a tight circle around us. Today, it’s the world.

Shops are packed with colorful dresses worn by 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.

Every day we plot, plan, and 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 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 to savor the local treasures of Amritsar.

Town after the 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…

Recycling pleasures…Four days and counting…

On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings. Ah, the beauty of the wild! A photo from six years ago today at this link.

When none of Tom’s sisters required a used computer, when they each had well-working devices of their own, their friend Jodi (and now ours) volunteered to take it off my hands rather than dropping it off at a recycling facility.

Subsequently, I reformatted the drive, and it’s now running like a brand new laptop. This may be more of a thrill for me than for Jodi! At noon, I’m heading over to Jodi’s park model to set it up for her.

Recycling any personal possessions provides a great sense of satisfaction for the donor and the recipient, not only for environmental reasons but also for the joy of transferring your treasured items to someone who will enjoy the use of the thing. 

Perhaps for sentimental reasons, it’s gratifying to know the recipient will carry on the legacy of a particular item that may have been a big part of the donor’s history. 

Whoa! My old laptop has been around the world! I’ve pounded out millions of words on that keyboard after using it since January 2015, when I purchased it while in Big Island, Hawaii, at a Costco store.

And I’ve uploaded 2725 posts (as of today), done so with our passion for the world, our ability to continue to travel, and the fantastic people and wildlife we’ve been blessed to meet along the way.

Of course, all remnants of the past have been deleted, and only a fresh palate remains. It’s not so much that I’ve been emotionally attached to it. More so, it symbolizes all the experiences we’ve gleaned along the way since we purchased it five years ago.

As we donate clothing to Goodwill, mainly when it was a favorite item, it makes us wonder who may one day own that item and hoping they will enjoy it as much as we did.

We live in a “throw-away society” described as follows: “The throwaway society” is a human society strongly influenced by consumerism. The term describes a critical view of overconsumption and excessive production of short-lived or disposable items over durable goods that can be repaired.”

We observe this throughout the world. It’s not exclusive only to the USA. Even in some of the most remote areas of the world, we’ve witnessed rampant disregard for our planet and its future.

Each of us has the opportunity to play a small role in passing on our used items that we’ve since replaced, especially when we take a little time to bring them up to a usable condition for the recipient. 

No, we aren’t perfect in this area, nor will we ever be. But we began to appreciate it more when in 2012, we sold or gave away everything we owned to travel the world. 

At this crucial time in our lives, we began to understand this concept of letting go of “stuff” we didn’t need and, hopefully, putting it into the hands of those who may.

Soon, we’ll begin packing. We’ve discovered we need further to lighten our load for the constant traveling in India. We’ll donate some items, and those we’ll need down the road, we’ll send to our mailing service to be held until we can use them again. 

Trying to figure out how to handle “stuff” is a fact of our peculiar lives. We do our best to do so in a manner that befits our appreciation of our world and the many gifts it has to offer…those we cannot hold in our hands but only in our hearts and minds.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2019:

We spotted a giraffe with two male impalas in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

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 bug 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 on 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 problems are minor, except for one…we still don’t have a single towel in the house except for two kitchen towels.  

We couldn’t shower without towels, although I used one of our dish towels to dry off this morning. 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 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 filthy 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 always meticulous.

A little messy with our stuff cluttering the dining room table, but this space will work well for dinners after we’ve 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 we needed, 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 go grocery shop for dinner. 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 on the second level, requiring us both to go up and down several times a day.

Rolling greens hills at a distance.

I feel that 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 undoubtedly 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 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 were 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!

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 daily. Contrast this with Polish, where 119,526 speak the language at home, making it the second most spoken language on the island!”

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 particular 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 exciting visit to the quaint town of Oughterard, a renowned 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 delicious 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 beautiful 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 arrive and get settled into our hotel, I’ll prepare a short post, the last from Ireland.  

The following post 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-month stay in several locations in three states; Minnesota, Nevada, and Arizona.

Watch for a post tomorrow, a few hours later than 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 case, the expenses were higher than initially 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!
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 was watching us take photos. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An adorable duiker was resting in the bush.
Easter was a big deal for our family in our old lives, along with the spiritual significance of this memorable holiday. On Saturday, we’d attend church in the tiny 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 continuous 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 excellent common 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, a virtual private network, that we can set to the country where the shows are being broadcast, and we avoid the message that says, “You cannot view this show outside of the US (for example).

I was taking a muddy break.

Recently, we switched from HotSpot Shield to Express VPN, which provides us with more options, although it’s more expensive. 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.

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, adds another layer of security, is ZAR 436, US $30.99 plus. The costs 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 relaxing and enjoyable, especially lately as I convalesce from surgery while it requires me to keep my feet up around the clock. 

If I didn’t have 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!
               

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…

Here 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.

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 starting 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 was eating pellets off the veranda’s edge.

We each took cold showers twice during the past two nights, 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 instead of 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 of spending on two rental properties simultaneously when we have huge payments upcoming in the next two weeks for future cruises and the final balance on the Kenya tour. I got 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 that doesn’t officially end here in South Africa 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 a 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 are 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 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, WiFi services, and 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.  It’s the price one pays to partake of the many wonders this continent offers, 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 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.

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.