A fantastic Mother’s Day…A special treat on the trail cam!!!…

It gives us a strong incentive to continue to check at night.

Yesterday morning I rushed through the post preparation and in no time, we were outside the door, on our way to Kruger National Park. Thirty minutes later, we crossed the Crocodile Bridge in search of all possible sightings in the river. We spotted a few crocodiles on each side, but with cars behind us on the single-lane bridge there was no way we could stop for pictures. We were prepared, as usual, not to see anything.

However, the theory is that getting there right after sunrise was the best time to see wildlife.

We hadn’t noticed this as critical when we frequently entered the park after downloading a post, when it can be as late as 10:00 or 11:00 am. But we often see so much. Even at times, as we enter the early afternoon, we still see a lot of wildlife.

At first, we noticed two pairs of eyes on the trail cam photo.

Here in Marloth Park, after watching the trail cam photos each day, the only difference we’ve noticed from what we’ve seen day and night, is what we’re sharing today, our exciting photos of a pair of porcupines that the camera picked up at 9:00 pm, 2100 hours, not necessarily a time most visitors would be on a game drive in Kruger. The exception to this would be during the hottest times of the year when wildlife hunkers down in the bush undercover on hot days.

Thus, today, we’re sharing the trail cam photos and tomorrow, we’ll be back sharing the beginning of a series of wildlife photos from yesterday’s visit to Kruger. No, we didn’t see big cats, which most visitors make a priority, but for us, we’re happy to see whatever nature bestows upon us.

As for Mother’s Day, Tom made it very special for me. Generally, we don’t buy gifts for one another when space in our luggage is limited. While at Lower Sabie in the park, Tom bought me a beautiful bag I can carry when we go out to dinner or visiting instead of the huge oversized heavy black bag I use on travel days.

With caution, the porcupine pair moved into the open area of the garden.

On another note… Over the years, I’ve been carrying the Africa printed fabric grocery bag we purchased in Kenya for US $2.00, ZAR 28, in 2013. It shows no sign of wear and tear whatsoever. I was tired of carrying a grocery bag for a handbag. Yesterday, Tom purchased a new bag for me, at the shop near the Mugg & Bean which is a black and white printed South Africa shoulder bag, ideal for going out to dinner or visiting friends.

It had been so long since I had something new like this, I felt like a “kid in a candy store.” Oh, how the little things in life mean so much. In my old life, if I purchased such a bag, I wouldn’t have given it another thought once I brought it home. Now, the simplest things are appreciated and handled with care, hoping they will last a long time.

By coincidence while we were at Lower Sabie, we ran into Linda and Ken. We knew they were also going to Kruger yesterday, but the odds of running into them were remote. We giggled about seeing them outside the shop and once again, hugged goodbye, not certain when we’ll see them again.

Finally, they wandered back into the bush.

Once back home, we made a nice dinner and enjoyed a quiet evening in the bush, with many animal friends stopping by to round out the special day.

Today, our dear friend Alan is coming for sundowners and dinner. Tom had been chomping at the bit for our homemade low-carb pizza for some time and today I’m making it for both of them. Alan also eats a low-carb diet. Since I don’t eat vegetables I will have my leftover beef liver and chicken breast for dinner. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, but actually it is quite good.

I’d better pick up the pace here and finish this post. Once Zef and Vusi arrive to clean the house, we’d like to head out the door to Komatipoort. I’ve already cooked the cheesy sausages and made the cheese based pizza crusts. When we return and put everything away, I’ll top the pizzas with sauce, mushrooms, onions, cooked sausage, and hand-grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and place them in the fridge to be cooked for dinner. Tom loves leftover pizza so I’m making enough for three nights. I’ll figure out something for me for the remaining nights.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you have a pleasant Monday.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2020:

Closeup of our toad peeking out from a hole in a decorative mask when we were in Marloth Park in 2018. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms throughout the world…Nine zebras came by this morning as a Mother’s Day surprise!…

This morning, Tom had two surprises for me, one consisting of nine zebras in the garden that he kept feeding as I showered and dressed. I rushed as fast as I could in order to watch the friendly visit of our striped friends. Fortunately, I made it in time before they left and was able to take some photos and a video which we’ve posted above. I did this in time before their departure and I was able to take some pictures and a video we posted above.

Sorry, but the second surprise is a tease. We’ll post it tomorrow with photos we’re excited to share. There’s a bit of editing necessary to present this second surprise and this morning, I’m rushing since we plan to go to Kruger National Park as soon as I get the zebra video uploaded, edited and posted in today’s story. It’s uploaded at this time on YouTube and is expected to be ready soon.

Zebras on the side of the veranda, begging for pellets.

I stopped typing to check and found the video was done, allowing me to continue on with this post which I will be rushing a bit in order for us to get on the road to Kruger National Park and see what treasures we’ll be able to behold while there. Sometimes, it’s a total bust and we don’t see much. Sometimes we are amazed at what is happening before our eyes.

We no longer worry about whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day to visit Kruger when in both cases we can take some decent pictures. Today is partially cloudy and it will be fine for us. It’s been very busy in Kruger the past few weeks, which prevented us from taking a chance and going.

This male must have been the dominant male. He came right up to the table to ask for more pellets.

Nothing is more disappointing than cars backed up, bumper-to-bumper when a sighting is being observed, which often times is wildlife we’ve seen regularly in our garden. For us, after all these years, as a rule, we do not stop at the impalas, warthogs, kudus and wildebeest that we frequently see in our garden.

Most often, we’re on a mission to see cats, elephants, Cape buffalo, rhinos, crocodiles, interesting birds and whatever other treasures and/or surprises the park may have to offer on any given day. As I mentioned a few days ago, it’s somewhat like fishing when patience and perseverance are necessary in order to “catch” anything, in this case, taking photos of some of our favorites.

The others watched him to see if he was successful, but we’d already given them so much, we had to stop.

We often stop at Lower Sabie on the Sabie River for a bathroom break and to take a few photos from the veranda at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant.

Speaking of dinner… Last night, we met Linda and Ken in a new restaurant that we hadn’t tried since our arrival nearly four months ago. The restaurant, Bos, is now in the space formerly occupied by Watergat, in the Bush Centre, just down the road. We’d dined  at Watergat  a few times in year’s past, but we were always disappointed.

Bos was a significant improvement. The service was fine and the food was decent. There were only a few items on the menu I could eat so I opted for roasted chicken and fried eggs. Tom had the ribs and the fries, but he said they’re not comparable to Jabula’s. For us, Jabula will always remain our favorite, but occasionally we can try other options. Our Friday night reservation at Jabula is always in place and always will be.

Then he made eye contact and I melted.

Tom just completed the forms/papers for us to enter Kruger, necessary for anyone, including those like us with an annual Wild Card. We always have to bring the forms and our passports with us in order to gain access.

I will conclude now since we are anxious to get on the road. It takes less than 30 minutes to get to the entrance of the Crocodile Bridge, then the fun begins.

To all the Mothers out there, may your day be filled with wonderful surprises. Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2020:

The sights and sounds of Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides were unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. For more year-ago photos, (which were “repeats” while in lockdown in Mumbai), please click here.

Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas…This is Africa…Python in a car!…

Last night, as we often do on Fridays, we headed to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner, arriving a few hours earlier to enjoy social time at the bar. With Covid-19 currently non-existent in Marloth Park, it feels safe to socialize with the locals. Last night proved to be an exceptionally interesting evening, not only from the lively banter, but from running into our friends Patty Pan and her husband Sydney, a lovely couple we’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years.

We all sat at the bar commiserating over our wildlife sightings and events of the week, but nothing could top the story, Patty Pan had to tell and subsequently, share in photos and videos on her phone. Tom and I couldn’t have been more excited to see her exciting videos and photos, some of which we’re sharing here today, with her permission, of course.

Python under hood #1

Where to begin? Patty Pan explained that a few weeks ago, she noticed a number of mongoose, hanging around her driveway underneath her car. No doubt, they were making their little chirping sounds, making Patty wonder what was going on. She looked under the car, but didn’t find a thing. Sometimes nature throws a curve ball and we can’t easily figure out what was  going on.

Inevitably, in time, the “reasons why” will pop up before our eyes and we are astounded by the wonders Mother Nature presents to us humans. And that’s exactly what happened to Patty. Several days later at the petrol station, when the attendant lifted the hood (the bonnet, here in South Africa) and shouted, “SNAKE!” immediately slamming down the hood, in sheer terror.

Python under hood #2

A commotion ensued as Patty Pan, the attendant and a few onlookers were excited by this outrageous and once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Patty Pan, a highly regarded, experienced and knowledgeable Honorary Ranger, didn’t panic. If she’d had the proper equipment with her she could have readily removed the massive python from under her hood.

Immediately, she contacted Nadine, another Honorary Ranger and trained snake handler to come to the petrol station, bringing her tongs and a bucket to place the snake in once it was retrieved. In a matter of minutes,  In no time at all, Nadine arrived, captured the snake and carefully placed it in a proper snake container.

Python under hood #3.

The python was returned to the bush in Marloth Park, its natural habitat, properly rescued and allowed to continue its life as one of the many wildlife in this exquisite wildlife-rich environment. What a story, Patty Pan (and that petrol station attendant) will have to tell for years to come, let alone the stunning stories she’s accumulated over the years.

We couldn’t be more appreciative and thrilled that Patty Pan was willing to share her video and photo with us to share with all of you today. First thing, this morning, I uploaded the video on YouTube, the social media platform we use to upload videos to our site.

If the video appeals to you, please forward the link (click on the video and the link will appear) to your friends and family and let’s see how many hits we can get. Surely, this could result in a viral response.

So, as we say in the heading with the Wizard of Oz in mind, “Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas. This is Africa!” and this, dear readers, is what happens here!

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2020:

Where else in the world could you get a photo like this of a giraffe, taken in Marloth Park in 2019? Only Marloth Park offers such wonders on a daily basis, often referred to as “Paradise on Earth.” For more photos, please click here.

A mini spa day…The simple sights, sounds and smell in the bush…

Young male bushbuck with sprouting little horns.

It may be strange, but all those years of travelling around the world, fast approaching nine years, I never once had a professional pedicure or a spa service of any kind. For whatever reason, lately I’ve been thinking about getting a pedicure. I mentioned this to Linda and she suggested we could go together.

Louise had suggested a woman in Marloth Park who has a spa in the park, giving me a brochure with prices and her contact information. Today at 11:30, Linda and I meet at the spa for the pedicures. Since I don’t drive in South Africa, Tom will drop me off and pick me up when I call and let him know I’m ready to go.

Mom and five babies. Tiny took a liking to the mom.

In the United States and many other countries, spa pedicures range in cost from US $35 to US $80, from ZAR 498 to ZAR 1139, depending on location. Here in South Africa, the average price for the 60-minute service is US$14, ZAR 200, plus tip. This is an enormous difference! If the prices here had been compared to those in the United States, I don’t think I would have been motivated to make an appointment.

Again, prices for many goods and services are considerably lower in South Africa than in many regions of the world. The cost of living here is lower than any other country we have lived in, about half of the cost of living in the United States. Adding the enjoyment of the many friendships we’ve made while here, let alone the joy we derive from living in the bush among the wildlife, this couldn’t be more ideal for us.

Tiny and the five piglets got along fine since he was pursuing their mom.

Right now, situated on the veranda, the regular band of mongoose is here, three warthogs are looking for more pellets, as well as two bushbucks, along with a few stray impalas. In a matter of minutes everything could change. I often equate our outdoor life in Marloth Park, comparable to fishing.

Fishing, which we both enjoyed in Minnesota years ago, consists of patience and anticipation. There’s no difference here. We sit, wait, watch, and all of a sudden, magic happens. Luckily, we are not catching or eating what we find here. Instead, we “catch” a photo while revelling in the snorts of warthogs, the sweet chirping sounds of the mongoose, the thundering vibrations of the hooves of the zebra on the dry ground, and the endless melodic sounds of a variety of birds in the dense bush.

Wildebeest Willie, lounging in the garden.

Occasionally, we’re “gifted” with the heart-pounding roar of Dezi and Fluffy, the two lions in Lionspruit which borders our back garden. Nothing, anywhere in the world where we could live, compares to the barrage on our senses of the sights, sounds and smells of the bush.

You don’t often hear about scents in the bush. Recently, a reader inquired, asking if we smelled poop from the animals in the bush. We do not. But, the smell of seasonal blooming flowers, the smells emitting from the low lying brush in the bush, a neighboring roaring fire or braai, and the occasional smell of an animal’s hormonal permeating the air, is intoxicating at times.

And then, in the evening, the wonderful scents of our next meal of well-seasoned meat cooked on the braai, leaves a “souvenir of perfume” that we will always carry with us. Even, in the evenings,  the smell of citronella in our various candles and lanterns and the repellent on our skin, all intended to keep the mosquitos at bay, leave a smell we’ve come to recognize as pleasant and familiar.

More zebras in the garden.

No, we can’t stay here forever. No, we have no interest in buying a home or a vacation rental in Marloth Park or anywhere for that matter. We stand firm in our desire to remain free from the rigors of home ownership and responsibility. At some point in the future, when age forces us to stop or lessen our travels, we may have to implement a new philosophy and finally settle down.

Until then, we embrace the life which has been given to us for the moment and cherish every day and every evening. Obviously, what we will do in 54 days remains a mystery and a challenge. But, in our usual way, we will find a solution and in the interim, we’ll allow ourselves the privilege of experiencing the “present moment” for as long as possible.

Be well. Be safe. Remain diligent.

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2020:

The ostrich has the biggest eyes of any animal in the world. The giant squid possesses the biggest eyes of a sea animal. For more photos, please click here.

Today, a social day and evening in the bush…

Wildebeest Willie has now become a regular visitor, stopping by a few times each day.

Today, at 4:00 pm, a small group of us will be meeting at one Marloth Park’s favorite Crocodile River overlooks, known at Two Tree for sundowners. Doing so, requires the participants bring lawn chairs. Without a single such chair in our bush home, we were able to borrow two chairs.

Linda and Ken, who will participate with us in the Two Trees gathering, have invited us for dinner following the event. No doubt, it will be a fun and entertaining late afternoon and evening. We so much appreciate being able to socialize after such a long dry spell months ago in India.

He doesn’t take a guff from the pushy warthogs who jockey for pellets.

It certainly has been a social dry spell for citizens throughout the world over the past 14 months since Covid-19 precipitated lockdowns in almost every country. At this point, we can’t help but wonder how safe the lessening of lockdown will impact the new cases of the virus as more and more private and public gatherings pick up the pace after all this time.

Surely, what’s transpiring in India now, with almost 400,000 new cases daily, has something to do with the lack of protective measures exercised by the masses of people attending political, social and religious gatherings. It saddens us, when we especially recall hotel guests wandering the corridors in the hotel in Mumbai, talking loudly and gathering in groups without wearing masks or social distancing.

Willie, in the morning shadows, drinking from the top section of the birdbath.

On several occasions, we were shocked by the hotel hosting weddings, conventions and other events with little regard for the risks of Covid-19. This mentality, obviously carried through the entire country and now, India is paying the price with these outrageous numbers of cases and subsequent deaths.

On the occasions where I went downstairs to pay the hotel bill, which later we had them bring the bill to us, again, I was shocked by the resistance to wearing masks, wearing masks properly and lack of social distancing. The hotel staff tried desperately to get the guests to comply to no avail.

Willie spends a lot of time staring at us, in an attempt to get us to give him more pellets.

But, the desperation by the privately owned hotel to recoup some of their losses prompted them to allow social events to transpire during the worst months of the pandemic which surely continued long after we left. Now, we wonder if the hotel, or any other hotels in India are still open for non-Covid guests.

Gosh, we’re grateful we were able to leave India. It’s so much safer here in Marloth Park. We often wonder about the accuracy of the stats here in South Africa when it appears cases are dropping at this point. And yet, just yesterday, we read a news article from what appears to be a reputable source, stating a potentially new lockdown on the horizon.

These two wildebeest were new to the garden, an adult and a younger male.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, the uncertainty during these times of Covid-19 is palpable for all of us. Many are frustrated over being unable to visit loved ones and many are missing traveling to their favorite locations. Of course, cruising has been out of the question and may continue to be so for a few more years to come.

Currently we have four cruises booked all the way to April 2022, most of which we expect will be canceled. One of our cruises will require a payment in full in July which is scheduled to set sail in November, 2021. We feel compelled to pay the final payment since we got such a great price on it, which is now priced 50% higher. So, just in case, it isn’t canceled, we’ll pay the final payment to lock in our price. It’s all up in the air.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks for hanging in there with us during these peculiar times. Hopefully, as restrictions lessen, (or not) we can still provide ample fodder to please our readers.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2020:

Tom and I at Amazing River View in October 2018, when friends Lois and Tom were visiting for three weeks. For more photos, please click here.

We didn’t come all this way to leave and not get back in..

Check out Torn Ear’s horns covered in mud. He may have been showing off his digging skills for the females during the rutting season.

Flight schedules are changing rapidly. We watch for information daily noting any changes. A friend in the US, planning on coming to South Africa in a few weeks, found his flight was canceled. Will he be able to rebook another flight? It’s hard to say if these types of scenarios will impact us going forward..

But, we stay well informed of the issues. We’re also aware that wherever we may go, if we have to leave on June 30th for a visa stamp, we may not be able to get back into South Africa. We experienced this when we were in India. It may not be any different in the next almost two months, when on June 30th, we have to hightail out of South Africa for a visa stamp.

We still have a booked flight to the US on June 30th but most likely we’ll change it unless we have no choice but to return due to Covid-19 conditions worldwide.

Handsome male impala.

As we’ve reiterated, we do not want to travel the outrageous distance to the US, with flights and layovers lasting over 24 hours. At this point, with Covid-19 still raging throughout the world, we don’t want to take the risk. It’s possible, but unlikely, we’ll have been able to get the vaccine here in South Africa by June 30th.

But, even so, with the vaccine, it appears there are still risks associated with Covid-19. The question becomes, do we want to take those risks on such a long travel day and then, risk not being able to get back into South Africa?

Two male wildebeest stopped by for pellets.

When we think of and discuss what we went through to get out of India unscathed, for which we are very grateful, based on what’s happening in India now with almost 400,000 new cases a day, we don’t want to be in a similar position once again, filled with a sense of uncertainty coupled with a degree of apprehension and fear.

In general, the uncertainty of travel leaves us in a precarious position. We don’t want to “throw in the towel” and give up this life we’ve become so accustomed to, which has brought us great joy and contentment. Even now that the 10 months in lockdown in India ended almost four months ago, we don’t feel traumatized by that experience. We learned a lot about ourselves, one another and us as a couple, a knowledge we will carry with us into the future.

Another male impala watching the action in the garden.

As we consider that we spent those 10 months in that hotel room in Mumbai, it’s difficult to comprehend that those 10 months constituted 9.9% of the entire time we’ve been traveling the world. However, like all of our experiences, good and bad, we have incorporated them into the realm of our full experience and to date, we have no regrets.

When we embarked on this journey on October 31, 2012, we didn’t consider it would be easy. But anyone can look back at their prior nine years and surely there have been “ups and downs.” That’s the nature of life itself. Some of the hardships and heartbreaks we’ve experienced during this time, would have presented themselves, regardless of where we lived at any given moment.

He stayed around for quite a while looking for pellets.

It’s been no harder, nor any easier for us than for anyone: sorrow, illness, loss of loved ones, and substantial unexpected expenses, Covid-19 hasn’t made it easier for any of us. And yet, we as a race, as humans, strive to make our way through these difficult times with grace, with dignity and with compassion.

And, we can’t forget gratefulness. For those of us who by chance or not, have escaped becoming deathly ill from the virus, gratefulness must remain our state of being, to get us through this next phase, whatever that may be. None of us knows what the future holds. We can only speculate based on historical data, speculation and our personal beliefs.

Tiny and Mrs. Tiny nose to nose, kissing while Lonely Boy is looking on.

Ultimately, we carry on, with love, and hope in our hearts that our family members, friends, and readers stay safe; free from illness, free from harm and free from the many dangers facing us in these precarious times. Upon reflection, sometimes it feels as if we are living in a dystopian movie. At times, none of this seems real. On occasion, we shake our heads in dire wonder if this is really our world today. Sadly, dear readers, it is.

We’d hoped to go to Kruger National Park today but, it was so busy in the garden with dozens of visitors, we decided to wait until another day.

May we all stay strong, healthy and in touch with our surroundings.

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2020:

Giraffes in the bush in the neighborhood. For more, please click here.

Zebra day!…A delightful visit by nine of these wonderful animals…

A little cuddle among the dazzle of zebras.

Almost daily, warthogs, bushbucks, kudus, mongoose, francolins and other birds stop by for a visit. However, zebras are less frequent visitors. Since arriving here over 3½ months ago, zebras have only graced us with their presence on two occasions. Yesterday, was one of those occasions and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When Tom happened to look out the kitchen window, he saw the zebras in the driveway. He tossed them some pellets. In no time at all, they came around to the back garden.

From this site, here are 25 amazing facts about zebras:

“Zebras are one of the many beautiful creatures inhabiting Africa. Many people know them for their iconic stripes and the never ending riddle about them being black with white stripes, or white with black stripes.

Here are a handful of facts you might or might not know about these striped horses.

  1. The zebra is actually mostly covered in white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but underneath their coat is black skin.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra normally has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal strips cover their legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for the predator to run after them.
  4. The pattern of a zebras stripes is different for each individual zebra, making them each as unique snowflakes!
  5. The black & white striped pattern of their coats is a good bug repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsuckers at bay.
  6. A group of zebras is called a ‘zeal” or “dazzle.”

    It was fun to see two zebras drinking simultaneously.

  7. The Native American culture refers to the zebra as a symbol of balance and sureness of the path.
  8. The Swahili name for the zebra is ‘Punda Milia’.
  9. Romans used Grévy’s zebras to pull two wheeled carts for their circuses.
  10. In Roman Circuses the zebra was usually called a ‘Tiger-Horse’ or a ‘Horse-Tiger’.
  11. When faced by predators, zebras will form a semi-circle and bit, nip or attack the predators if they come too close to them. They will also encircle an injured family member to protect it from further attack if the need arises.
  12. A mother zebra will keep her foal away from all other zebras for two or three days until the foal can recognize her scent, voice, and appearance.

    There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour.

  13. Zebras form hierarchies with a Stallion (male) in the lead, followed by his Harem (group of females) behind him.
  14. When traveling with his harem, the stallion will lead them with his head low and his ears laid back.
  15. Zebra’s bunch together to confuse colorblind predators, such as lions, which mistake the pattern as grass.
  16. Zebras are one of the few mammals that we believe can see in color.
  17. Zebras are actually pretty short and can be 3.5-5 feet tall.
  18. The Grévy’s zebra is named after Jules Grévy, president of France (in 1882) who received a zebra as a present from the emperor of Abyssinia.
  19. Another name for Grévy’s Zebras are Imperial Zebras.
  20. A zebra can run up to 65 km/h or 40 mph.
  21. To sleep, generally zebras don’t lie down – instead they usually sleep standing up.

    We’re so enjoying seeing wildlife drinking from the bird bath where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability is used to communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A species of zebra are called ‘Asinus Burchelli’ after a conflict between William John Burchell and John Edward Gray sparked. Burchell brought specimens from Africa to The British Museum and the specimens died. Gray felt the need to Embarrass Burchell because of the incident; the name means “Burchelli’s Ass”.”

    They drink from the top section and often drop down and drink from the bottom section as well.

We’ve researched a number of facts about zebras over the years and each source provides new and interesting information about these stunning animals.

The sounds of their hooves pounding on the ground, the whinnying amongst themselves over pellets and jockeying for position in the garden leaves us smiling over their demeanor, rambunctious and determined. Each time we drive on Olifant Road, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we are in awe, when spotting them at the side of the road or crossing.

They waited in a queue, taking turns drinking the fresh water.

We seldom see a solitary zebra. They are social animals who travel together covering many kilometers in a single day. Even here in Marloth Park, which is only 3000 hectares, 6.7 square miles, they find plenty of space to wander, whether it’s in the parklands or in the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be found running fast together, or casually grazing on the grass and vegetation.

Residents of Marloth Park certainly appreciate the zebras offering them carrots, apples and pellets when they stop by for a visit.

At this point, we haven’t been offering apples and carrots, but once the winter comes, when the vegetation is sparse, we’ll begin offering these to our friendly visitors.

They were busy eating pellets for quite some time.

Today, we’ll be working on some research for the future and afterward head over to Louise and Danie‘s Info Centre for a short visit. The school holiday period has ended and now, they have more time for a little social interaction. It will be good to see them once again.

If all goes as planned over the next 24 hours, we’ll be off to Kruger National Park tomorrow for a much desired self drive, hopefully returning with many good photos to share here.

A pretty female profile.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3 2020:

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening with friends…Little annoyances with credit cards…

One Tusk with his hair all fluffed up during the rutting reason.

On Friday night, when we had dinner with Linda and Ken, Tom asked me to bring my credit card that has a substantial credit on it as a result of refunds for trips we’d canceled due to Covid-19 issues we mentioned in prior posts. Unusual for me, I forgot to bring my “phone/wallet” and since I’d planned to pay, Tom didn’t bring his wallet.

As a result, this morning, Tom drove to Jabula to pay our bill using my credit card to further reduce the credit on it. Dawn, knowing we’d certainly return to pay our bill, didn’t hesitate to let us out the door without paying. This morning, Tom drove to Jabula and paid the bill, using my card with the credit on it.

The four babies will soon be on their own, often staying together until they find a mate. Once they mate, they have no involvement with the piglets and wander about on their own, on occasion in same sex groups, called sounders

When there’s a big credit on a credit card, we’ve found that most credit card companies eventually send a check to the address on file. They don’t like customers having credits on a card. I suppose, it means they don’t make any money from us, unable to charge us interest on debit balances. We pay off our credit cards every month to prepare for any possible travel related expenses which may arise.

This wouldn’t work for us. Our billing address is in Nevada. If a check was sent to our mailing service in Nevada, we’d have to pay extra fees to have it sent to our bank in the US. We called the credit card company and asked them to keep the credit on file for three months while we’ll use the card as often as possible to reduce the credit to zero.

Big Daddy and Bossy hanging out together.

We prefer not to use that particular card, in local shops, a favorite card offering many travel benefits and rewards. When out and about, in the past, the card had been used fraudulently, requiring canceling the card and ordering a new one. To get a replacement credit card here to us in South Africa, could take upwards of three months since they send them via USPS snail mail which is a disaster on the receiving end in SA.

During Covid-19, we’ve hardly been on the move, incurring new charges other than rental fees, car rental, food and entertainment. In the pre-Covid past, we’d have considerable sums to charge on credit cards when we were often cruising, flying and staying in hotels. We often accumulated many rewards points. It’s certainly not so much now.

Big Daddy has been enjoying lounging in the garden.

There’s often “little things” like this that we must pay attention to, often by-products of this unusual life we live.. Surely, most of you experience similar issues from time to time and they can be frustrating, however small. We try to stay on top of such things to ensure they “don’t get away from us.”

In our old lives, we frequently had to call utility companies, cable TV and other services for errors in billing or service. Now, with our relatively simple lives, with no bills to pay other than credit cards and insurance, it’s considerably easier.

Two boys in the bush engaged in a little scuffle

Last night, we had another fantastic evening with Linda and Ken. We didn’t get to bed until almost midnight, but managed to get a good night’s sleep. This morning, I couldn’t help but linger for a while when Tom was up and already outdoors. But finally, always afraid I’ll miss something, I bolted out of bed to begin my day.

Recently, I signed up for a free week of AMC in order to watch season 10 of The Walking Dead. I can’t believe I actually love this zombie show. Zombies have never been on my radar. Tom had watched season one through nine with me in India, but finally lost interest with the snarling. I wondered how I’d manage to watch 20 episodes in one week. But I came up with a plan.

Mom and four babies soon to be set off on their own without their mom.

If I could multi-task and do old-post corrections on one screen on my laptop and have the show running on a spit screen, I could get the 20 episodes completed by the end of the seven days. I have until midnight tomorrow, May 3rd. So each afternoon, while I worked on the corrections, I found I had no trouble doing both. By the end of today, I should be able to complete and season and then cancel AMC.

As a matter of fact, I’ve now discovered based on the above scenario, doing the corrections is made easier, if simultaneously, I watch something on the split screen. Tom made fun of me for two reasons; my love of the show and two, my weird ability to do both activities at the same time. He always says, “I don’t multi-task, like you.”

Two impalas in the garden. They are very shy and we’re always surprised to see them stop by.

So there’s our past 24 hours, nothing earth shattering, but nonetheless quite enjoyable. At the moment, we’re both sitting at the table on the veranda on a blissfully cool and sunny day, watching Mother Nature present one of her precious beasts after another, to bring us more joy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2020:

A mom and her calf cooling off in the river. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Adults only, please…Rutting season in full bloom in Marloth Park…Love is in the air!…

The above video is intended for “adults only.” We consider it a part of the wonder of nature, offering us a front row seat on how wildlife find their mates, court their potential mates, and ultimately propagate in the wild. Certainly, some may feel that this is inappropriate. We kindly ask, you do not write to us in this regard.

This is nature at its finest and for us, it is fascinating in providing us with an opportunity to witness the relationships among wildlife as they seek to preserve their species. Although warthogs do not appear on the list of endangered species, like all wild species, they have their place and their raison d’être on this beautiful Earth.

Whether it’s love or purely instinct of the more intelligent animals, like warthogs, is irrelevant. Watching them interact during this busy mating season in Africa is educational and we must admit, at times, highly entertaining, when their behaviors are so unlike our own as humans, with some similarities in regard to “the chase.”

Big Daddy Kudu resting in the bush awaiting the arrival of a female.

No, most of us weren’t courted by our significant others making “train noises.” But, it’s easy for most of us in relationships to recall the methods implemented by members of our species to express an interest. Whether it was a feature of one’s appearance, their scent, often referred to as pheromones, words spoken, or a plethora of other signals humans utilize, knowingly or not, to let the other person become aware of their interest and intent,

Animals in the wild are no different. Their language among one another may not be known to us in most cases, but it’s easy to detect, as we observe them in the wild, that they have no difficulty communicating with one another. Today’s video and a few photos illustrate this point.

Shortly thereafter, this female arrived, sitting a short distance away, an example of a subtle and gentle approach.

Who are we to say it’s purely instinctual when the process can be so complex, as we currently observe each day? Living in the bush, day after day, we are gifted with the opportunity to observe these interactions, often subtle and gentle, and at other times, brazen and forthright as shown in the above warthog video.

We hope in many months to come, we’ll see the “fruits of their labor” and be able to revel in the newborns nature has born to these precious animals. Only time will tell, if we will be able to stay. The warthog gestation period is from 152 to 183 days; the kudu is 240 days; and the bushbuck is 182 days.

On another note, last night, we had dinner with Linda and Ken at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and had a fantastic evening. The food, as usual, was delicious, the service was beyond reproach and the four of us, as always, never had a lull in delightful conversation. Tom and I often arrive an hour before a planned meeting time with friends, to have fun sitting at the bar, chatting with owners Dawn and Leon and their trusty, warm and efficient manager, Lyn.

This is The Imposter, rubbing his scent on a tree We’ve seen a lot of this “marking” on a few chosen trees in the garden.

There were few guests when we arrived at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, but after we took our table an hour later when Linda and Ken arrived, more and more diners filtered in. It feels safe there with the employees well masked and the tables sensibly socially distanced. Hand sanitizer is readily available in all areas.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner with sundowners with snacks beginning at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours. Dinner, suitable for all of our “ways of eating” will be served a few hours later. Today, it’s surprisingly cool and windy, If it becomes any cooler, and stays this windy, we may have to dine indoors at the dining room table, which we did on another occasion when they were here, when it was raining in buckets.

The reason we’ve recently seen two Big Daddies, certainly has to do with the fact that several females frequent our garden.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as the adventures in the bush, nature at its finest, continue.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2020:

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger. For more photos, please click here.

This morning’s events in the bush…Mating season is in full bloom…

Tom noticed this dung beetle rolling his ball in the garden at quite a distance. We were thrilled to get these shots.

We only need to pay close attention to what’s transpiring around us to witness the behavior of the wildlife that is not only funny but astounding at times. This morning was no exception after we finally finished our tasks and were able to sit outdoors on the veranda with our coffee.

This morning around 7:00 am, I got out of bed to open the rolling shade in the bedroom for a peek at what was transpiring in the garden. When I didn’t see any visitors I rolled back into bed figuring I could read the daily news on my phone before getting up.

A few minutes later, I heard a sound on the window’s glass. Bossy, my favorite female kudu, was nudging the window in an attempt to get me up to deliver her some pellets. Of course, I bolted out of the bedroom to ensure she had plenty of her morning pellets. As Tom always says, “They have “us” trained.”

Moments later, he was on top of his dung ball.

Once I’m up, showered, and dressed for the day, the time seems to get away from me. I can’t believe how busy I am some days considering I don’t have to clean the house. With folding and putting away laundry from the portable rack, prepping a few items for dinner, and tidying up before Zef and Vusi arrive to clean, my mornings are full

It’s no different for Tom. First, he empties the dishwasher and puts everything away. Next, he empties the four frozen ice cube trays placing the ice into freezer Ziplock bags, and then into two drawers in the tiny freezer and fills two pitchers of water from the water machine, which is a slow process, and then, refills the trays with the purified water. He does this two or three times a day. We use a lot of ice.

When I think back to those 10 months in lockdown in India, we didn’t use any ice. It would have cost us a fortune in tips to get a sufficient amount of ice delivered to our room each day in their tiny ice buckets when there was no available ice machine for the guests to use.  We simply gave it up along with other familiar comforts during that period.

Two hungry hornbills pecking at the kitchen window, hoping for some seeds. We complied.

Then, he makes a big pitcher of Crystal Lite Iced Tea which arrived in our recent DHL package from the US, just days before we ran out. Louise loaned us a giant spouted jug for the ice tea so he doesn’t have to make the iced tea more often than every three days. That helps.

After most of our tasks are completed, finally, we can sit outdoors while I manage photos, prepare the post, handle financial matters keeping track of all of our spending, often requiring attention daily. Amid all of this, we’re continually watching what’s happening in the bush. Recently, I’ve been back at work on the corrections on old posts and have diligently stuck to my schedule which takes about two hours a day.

Tom grabs the garden hose and refills the water in the birdfeeder. It’s become a daily task when “everyone” is drinking from it now, including birds and Big Daddies. This morning, Tom had yet to refill the birdfeeder with water. Tiny was busy chasing Lonely Girl around the garden, making the mating “train noise” during a series of intermittent advances on this female warthog.

Ms. Duiker has one tiny horn in the center of her head, as opposed to the male’s two horns.

Apparently, he wore himself out and walked over to the birdfeeder for a drink of water. When he couldn’t access the remaining water with his giant tusks, he looked at us, and then, in a frustrated flurry of activity, he tried to topple over the huge ceramic feeder. It teetered back and forth but thankfully didn’t fall over. Obviously, he was mad there wasn’t enough water in there for him to reach.

Tom waited until Tiny moved away and refilled the birdfeeder with fresh water. Moments later, Tiny returned for a series of generous gulps. Caution must always prevail when wild animals are unpredictable and humans can easily be injured.  We always exercise the utmost of caution, coupled with common sense.

Big Daddy was in and out of the garden this morning chasing after the “girls.” Right now, rutting season is in full bloom! Mating pairs are everywhere. We will be sharing some of the mating antics as the days roll on, including a few interesting videos. We’re hoping none of our readers are offended by our photos and videos.

This male duiker has been accompanying her for days.

This is “life,” regenerating in the bush. It’s all a part of the magic and wonder of the wild animals surrounding us each day. When we post some mating photos or videos, we will note this in the post’s heading as “Adults only please” leaving you to decide if you’ll share the post with children and grandchildren. It’s entirely up to you.

Big Daddy, wondering what’s on the menu.

Later this afternoon, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to shop for groceries. With Linda and Ken coming for dinner on Saturday night and the school holidays, not ending until Sunday, we decided to shop today instead of waiting until tomorrow when it will be even more crowded as the last day of the month. We’ll be well masked, gloved and I’ll be wearing a face shield as an added precaution.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, April 29, 2020:

Tree frog foam nest, made overnight above the cement pond. For more photos, please click here.