DESTINATIONS

Namibia! Our safari was super epic, especially considering we only went out for two days. We didn’t get to see all of the Big Five–we missed the Cape buffalo, but got to see elephants, lions, and the two toughest ones to see–leopard and rhino! We were wildly lucky to see these two as they’re incredibly rare. Leopards are just plain shy while rhinos have been hunted to near extinction.

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Our first day out we saw a leopard up close. I can’t even describe how incredibly rare this is–our guide whipped out his smart phone and was frantically taking pictures. I asked him how often this happens and he said never. Every few months they’ll see a leopard in a tree or far out, but this has never happened the entire time he’s been guiding.

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Our second day, we saw a male black rhino approach the watering hole. The guide said he sees them less than once per month.

HIGHS

Visas. We got our visa extensions! It was stressful not knowing what would happen but they came through with the dates we needed, whew. We entered South Africa on a 90 day tourist visa and applied to extend it by another 90 days for a total of 180, but there was a question of when we needed to file the paperwork. We made a decision, and took a gamble that we’d have to leave 2 months early. But lucky for us, we’re all good and we get to stay until September.

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Passports. We applied for duplicate passports so that we could apply for new South African visas while we were traveling. (The visa application has to be lodged in New York and it takes up to a month to process. Since we have to be out of the US for 330 days/year, this would have killed all our domestic travel plans) I’m super happy that our applications were approved and we can now travel without worrying about visa applications holding us up.

Fall 2016 Travel. We’ve finalized our plans for the fall, so excited! Four months of traveling and then back to Cape Town. While it’s exciting it just made it that much more real that we only have two more months in Cape Town until 2017. Here’s our rough itinerary:

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Layover in Dubai–Malta to visit family–Ireland for a work conference and a short holiday–wedding in NY–Panama for a month–wedding in Houston–Colombia for 6 weeks–Christmas in NY–wedding in Florida and a short holiday in Miami–NY–back to Cape Town

Frequent Flyer Miles. They’re so magically wonderful. We’ve been hoarding them for a while and finally cashed some in–265,000 of them. We paid US$475 for 14 one-way flights worth $6,400. Happy dance!

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Elephants. That is all.

LOWS

Getting sick. I didn’t think to pack my go-to cold remedy (freeze dried garlic!) because we were only going to be in Namibia for 5 days. Unfortunately I started to get a cold right after coming back from safari =( Our last day in Windhoek I was miserable, running around with a roll of toilet paper and my drippy nose. I had wanted to walk around and explore but we ended up sleeping in and eating at fancy restaurants instead. Not a terrible ending but we missed out on some cool history and architecture.

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Alan’s face when I’m getting sick and eating garlic round the clock

Bedbugs. When we first moved in, I saw that the sheets had tiny blood stains, so I immediately checked everywhere but there was no signs. With every bite, we wrote it off as a mosquito bite–we could see mosquitos flying around, so we assumed that was the issue. But as the weather cooled down and the mosquitos were fewer and far between, the bites continued. I always had bed bugs in the back of my head, so I had been checking constantly for the signs, but I didn’t see any evidence beyond the tiny blood specks.

After coming back from Namibia we knew that something was going on with the bug bites we were getting–we were getting eaten alive! Finally I was fed up enough to call an exterminator and ask and they told me that it was definitely bedbugs. Fortunately, they were able to come in that day and spray an eco-friendly spray that lasts 3 months for only 55 USD. All we had to do was wash everything in hot water (> 50 C) and we dried everything in the tumble dryer just to be safe. I wanted to get it done as soon as possible, so I rushed everything through, but I’ll probably give everything another go before we pack up to leave, since I don’t want to bring any of these buggers with us!

Technology fail. Note to self when you buy data for your phone: it would be more helpful to turn on your cellular data instead of running around trying to find a signal.

Hot water. The water geyser’s (now I know how to spell it thanks to A–it’s pronounced giza here) element broke and we didn’t have hot water for over a day =(

READING

Break It Down, by Lydia Davis. I was assigned a different collection of her short stories in a college lit class and fell in love with her style. I bought this in 2008 and it’s a shame it’s taken me so long to read it.

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COMING UP FOR July 2016

No travel plans, but I’m super excited to begin planning our fall adventure. We’ll be enjoying Cape Town and checking out some museums once the weather finally decides to turn and rain us in.