Rhino day!!!….Safari luck prevails once again…Kruger National Park didn’t disappoint…

When we first saw this dark mass from afar, sleeping under a tree, we weren’t quite sure what it was.  As we drove closer, we realized it was a rhino.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin, as is the case of this kudu.  We spotted this scenario in our yard.  Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse.

As mentioned in yesterday’s bushbaby post (click here to see it if you missed it), when the Wi-Fi went down in the area and unable to complete the post at that time, we decided to drive to Kruger National Park’s Crocodile Gate entrance.

Kruger is huge, as indicated here: “The largest game reserve in South Africa, the Kruger National Park is larger than Israel. Nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretch for 352 kilometers, 218 miles (20,000 square kilometers, 77 square miles) from north to south along the Mozambique border, is given over to an almost indescribable wildlife experience.”

We’d seen rhino while on safari in the past, but never lying down like this.  Our hearts were racing with excitement. Notice the two cattle egrets sitting atop the rhino.

As mentioned, many have stated it’s necessary to enter the park early in the morning to see much wildlife since many species seek shelter during the day’s heat. That makes a lot of sense.

This may generally be true, but on several occasions during our last self-drives in Kruger, we’d seen plenty of wildlife midday. Also, with the Wi-Fi out in Marloth Park, at least we could go to the entrance gate at the Crocodile River and sign up on-site for a one-year pass to the park, referred to as a Wild Card.

We were hopeful they would stand up.

There is a daily fee of ZAR 318 (US $27.02 per adult per day) for foreigners to enter Kruger National Park. At a combined cost for both of us at ZAR 636 (US $54.04), it would take only six day’s entrance fees to make purchasing the ZAR 3800 (US $322.92) a sensible situation. 

We spotted another big animal at a short distance and drove a little further down the dirt road, hoping she’d be standing when we returned.  Alas, safari luck kicked in and she was on her feet when we returned only five minutes later.

Undoubtedly, during our combined full year in South Africa, we’ll be in and out of the park more than six times, mainly based on yesterday’s incredible experience (not to be expected on each occasion). Also, the pass allows access to dozens of other parks in South Africa, some of which we may visit down the road.

We’d attempted to purchase the Wild Card online, but the website was very confusing. Usually, with patience and perseverance, I can figure out such a site, but it was nearly impossible in this case. 

This view was slightly obstructed by the brush, but we maneuvered the car for better views.

Instead, Louise explained we could buy the Wild Card at the gate which took about 20 minutes, including waiting time for our turn. Of course, it’s required to have passports on hand. Credit cards are accepted for payment. 

Nearby at another tree, we spotted a rhino mom and her baby, born this season and still closely attached to the mother.

Once the Wild Card’s “temporary” pass is issued, it’s required to complete the application online to have the permanent card mailed to the purchaser. Louise gave us her address since mail isn’t delivered to this holiday home.  

Based on what we’ve read online, the permanent card could take a few months to arrive. In the interim, we can use the temporary pass to enter at any time we so desire.

As often is the case, there’s a nearby warthog longing to be in the photo.  Upon closer inspection, it appears two warthogs were standing next to the rhino.

For those who may be attempting to complete the purchase of the Wild Card online (can’t be done in person), be aware that finding the page to enter the mailing address is tricky to find. Here’s the link to complete the purchase of the Wild Card.
With our temporary card on hand, we could enter the gate and proceed on our way. But first, we needed to buy a map at the rest stop/souvenir shop near the Crocodile Bridge entrance where there’s a petrol station, restrooms (no restrooms available further in the park) and a few campsites.

Rhino’s mom and baby lay back down in the shade.

We entered the souvenir shop and purchased a recent version of a comprehensive map booklet at the cost of ZAR 120 (US $10.23). While I bought the map, Tom borrowed a squeegee from the petrol station and washed the little car’s dirty windows. Next time, we’ll do this before we leave for the park.

Our expectations for the day were relatively low when we didn’t get on our way until 10:15 am, late for any significant sightings. We figured we’d spend a few hours driving on the paved roads, and if we didn’t see much after an hour or so, we’d turn around and plan to arrive another day, earlier in the morning.

Again, we waited patiently, and mom stood while the baby sat up on their hind end, nose touching mom.

With 150 mammals species and 500 birds in the park, indeed, we’d find a few photos ops to begin sharing with all of our readers. Little did we know, we’d have such a spectacular day that now we’re convinced we can visit Kruger at any time of the day as the mood strikes us and, when possible, go early in the morning.

Young rhinos typically stay with their mom until they’re three years old, after which they venture off on their own.

As we began the over two-hour self-drive in the park, we were stunned by how much we spotted.  We needed to get back before too late to do the day’s post, and by 1:30 pm, we were back at the house on quite a high from our experience and subsequent photos.

By dinner time, I’d uploaded yesterday’s post. After dinner, we reviewed our photos on the flat-screen TV using our new HDMI cord. It was quite a treat to see the images we’d excitedly taken during the relatively short period. Now, we’re anxious to return and may do so once a week in the future.

Back down, they went to finish their nap in the shade. Mom realized we weren’t a threat and relaxed with her beloved offspring.

Tomorrow, we’ll share more photos from our adventure, naming it _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ day. Can you guess what that may be?

Happy day to all!       

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

This is one of our favorite photos in Tasmania, taken through the glass of the living room window as the sun began to set. Please click here for more photos and final expenses for our six-week stay in the Huon Valley, Tasmania?.

Visiting the bushbaby rehab centre here in Marloth Park…The cutest little creatures in the world…

What a face!  Lisa and Doc, the tiniest of the rescue bushbabies.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Sweet Ms. Bushbuck stops by every day for a warm welcome and pellets eaten from my hand.  Its a treat for her and a bigger treat for us.

This morning awakening by 4:30 am, we were determined to get up and out the door early to head to Kruger National Park where we’d purchase an annual pass, called a “Wild Card” allowing us access at any time for a one-time annual fee.

Although we’d been to Kruger many times in the past, each occasion presented us with a wide array of new and unique experiences we’ve both longed to see once again; elephants on the road, crocs in the river; rhinos grazing in the savanna, giraffes lumbering through the trees, herds of cape buffalo and of course, the much sought after lion or leopard sighting and so much more.

Lisa makes little plates of food for the bushbabies which they nibble on for hours.  One of the less-well babies must be fed every three hours including during the night which Lisa doesn’t hesitate to do with unselfish love and concern.

A sighting of any one of the above and any others would provide for a highly successful day and we don’t hesitate in our desire to see these majestic animals in the wild.  But, after getting up and dressed and throwing open the massive wooden doors to the veranda, we found ourselves in a quandary…there were countless wild animals in our yard.  Should we stay or go?

Bushbabies like worms as well as soft foods.

Quickly, we loaded the yellow plastic container with pellets and grabbed a camera, finding ourselves entrenched in the scene before our eyes, we decided to wait until another day to visit Kruger National Park.

After taking countless photos and tossing and hand-feeding pellets to the many visitors that gradually wandered off to their next stop, we grabbed our coffee and tea sitting down at the big table on the veranda, ready to begin telling the story of last night’s visit to Lisa’s home a few kilometers from here.

The four bushbabies spend their quiet time together (they are nocturnal) inside this flannel bags in Lisa’s closet.  When we arrived, all four were awake and ready to see who’d arrived for a visit.

We’d heard so much about the tiny bushbabies Lisa’s been nursing to health as a part of hers and Deidre’s non-profit organization, Wild & Free Rehabilitation Centre based in Marloth Park and Hoedspruit.  We were anxious to see Lisa’s rescued bushbabies that she handles with the ultimate of love and care until they’re ready to be released into the wild.

This up close and personal experience was a treat!

Well, wouldn’t you know, no more than 10 minutes after we finally sat down to begin today’s post, the Internet went down.  After waiting 15 minutes, the message was clear, this would be a perfect time to head to Kruger, sign up for the Wild Card and spend a few hours driving through the park. 

Tomorrow, we’ll share our totally unexpected “safari luck” experience with some amazing photos we can hardly wait to post.  Who knew that late morning and midday self-drive photo safari would prove to be so exciting?  Perhaps, this purported morning window of opportunity doesn’t hold much water after all.

They are shy and yet curious little animals.

Anyway, back to the heartwarming visit to see the bushbabies and spend time with Lisa who graciously welcomed us into their home, serving snacks and wine. (Wow!  We’re always impressed with the hospitality of South Africans!!!)

They love for Lisa to massage and tickle them, moving around to accommodate her gentle touch.

As soon as we arrived at Lisa’s home (the same site where the bush movie and fundraiser for Wild & Free was held on Saturday night) she escorted us to her bedroom where she cares for four bushbabies who happen to reside in her bedroom closet, which by the way, was meticulously clean and tidy.

We simply could not believe our eyes!  We’ve seen bushbabies in both Kenya and South Africa, usually adults but never quite so close up.  With their big eyes, adorable faces and fluffy hair, they are quite a sight to behold.

The tiniest of the four needs a special tonic several times a day.

Watching Lisa interact with them while caring for their needs with special foods and medicines was indeed precious.  The dedication she has to this four little creatures is beyond reproach. 

Unfortunately, one of the bushbabies, aptly named, Special Needs,” suffers from a brain injury he received when negligently kept as a “pet” and later rescued by Lisa.  Sadly, he isn’t expected to survive much longer but Lisa is making his quality of life meaningful and loving in the interim.

Lisa shared a photo of this baby when he was the size of the end of her finger which may be found here on their Facebook page.

But, the remaining three are thriving and growing and, when fully prepared they will gradually be returned to the wild. There are few people who could so lovingly care for these tiny and magical creatures and Lisa, undoubtedly fits the bill.

They enjoy maneuvering around the various clothes in the closet.

After I fed Doc, the smallest of the three remaining (along with Apple and Bubba) I felt a unique affinity for these little creatures and plan to buy some bananas and yogurt for those that live in the trees near our veranda.

I had the opportunity to feed tiny Doc who slowly nibbled on the teaspoon.

Deidre, from Wild & Free whom we also met on Saturday night, stopped by last night while we all sipped on wine and snacked on biltong and chips while savoring the steady stream of visitors that freely come to their yard.  It was indeed magical.  Thanks to both Lisa and Deidre for making these past few evenings extra special for both of us.

We look forward to seeing them again in the near future and hearing when those precious bushbabies are able to fulfill their innate goals of living free in the wild in fabulous Marloth Park.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll all see them again peeking out from their den in a tree on a warm and balmy night.

What a special experience!

Please stop back tomorrow for more breathtaking photos and our visit to Kruger National Park!


Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2017:

Could it be more beautiful in Tasmania?  For more favorite photos of Tasmania as we wound down to our last day, please click here.

More exciting discoveries in the yard…Each day in the bush delivers…Boredom is out of the question…

We made this video four years ago when we had the unique opportunity to see the males fertilizing the white foam nest filled with thousands of eggs laid by the female tree frog. But, we missed the fertilization by the male, which must have occurred overnight. A few days ago, we saw a new white foam nest made overnight by the female above the pond in the yard., 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A foam tree frog nest, made overnight by the female frog awaiting up to one dozen males to fertilize it.  We’ve been watching for the males but have yet to see them.  In this post, four years ago, we had the opportunity to see the males fertilizing the nest. After an incubation period of a few weeks, the tadpoles will drop into the pool of water to complete their growth cycle.

It’s so easy to become caught up in the simple and yet outrageously entertaining life in the bush.   Both the human and animal friends provide a steady stream of exciting and somewhat unusual activities we never imagined in our old lives.

Each day brings new and exciting opportunities to learn more about nature. Even after the seminars and classes aboard the Antarctica cruise, where we expanded our knowledge about unique scenery and wildlife, we weren’t quite as challenged as we are here.

This morning upon close inspection, we realized the mating process had transpired during the night while we were sleeping. Our post from four years ago and the above video we made, show the process. Today, tiny frog footprints on the foam nest indicate the males had already been here. Fascinating!  Who’d ever think of this?

The mere 16 nights in the magnificent Antarctic wasn’t quite as comprehensive as the education we’re deriving now as we continue to discover new species, new scenarios, and animal behavior we never dreamed would roll out before our eyes.

We’ll post photos of the tadpoles and frogs as they mature. 

Sure, we witnessed exciting scenarios four years ago, but as we mentioned a few days ago, we do so now with new eyes and a new perspective. This week, we’ll head over to Kruger to discover its added wonders, much of which we may not experience here in Marloth Park.

A bushbuck in the yard considering a drink from the pond.

Is it possible we’ll ever be bored while we’re here? Sure, wherever we may live, there are always a few occasions where boredom may set in for short periods. But, our journey has never been about constantly being entertained. Its always been about the magnitude of our experiences superseding any insignificant moments of boredom.

The action became rather rambunctious while the baby held his own.

During the “movie in the bush” night, Louise was sitting next to me while Tom and Danie sat behind us before the movie started. Constantly thinking about the comfort and ease of others (Danie is this way, too), she turned to me and asked, “Are you bored? Are you comfortable?”

I giggled at her question, answering, “No, I’m not bored. I’m easily entertained!”

Could this be mom teaching the young warthog how to protect herself?

Later, when I reflected upon her question and my answer, I realized it’s much more than being entertained. One is not always considered when engaged in quiet contemplation.

One is not always entertained at any event or at “home,” and conversation quiets for a few minutes. The entertainment factor can dissipate to a low hum, hardly detectable in the realm of things. But boredom is a rare thing, for me, for Tom.

This Angulate tortoise that stopped by yesterday afternoon is one of many species of ground tortoises. We offered it some cabbage and carrots, but it was too fearful and wandered off.

Of course, when the power or Wi-Fi is out, which frequently occurs in most countries, we may experience a period of boredom while we wait for it to return. We don’t carry paper books with us when we travel, nor would we want to. 

During outages, we don’t use our phones or laptops to read if the power doesn’t return by dark. However, picking up a paper book during those periods of power outages might be helpful. By saving the batteries until dark, we are assured we’ll be able to read or watch a movie in the dark, should the need arise.

We were surprised by how quickly it moved away.

Otherwise, we’ll play cards or a board game to keep our minds occupied. We noticed there’s a giant puzzle here and, of course, a dartboard and pool table, all of which will keep us busy during outages. 

Although we don’t typically drink alcoholic beverages when it’s just the two of us, it’s not a bad idea to have a beer (for Tom) and a glass of wine (for me) during an outage, turning it into a “party for two.” At the same time, we play pool or darts, providing our form of entertainment. 

The tortoise had little interest in our veggie offerings.

Other than those scenarios, we don’t think about being bored, nor do we experience boredom.  There’s always a future booking to research, a country we’d like to see, a place we’ve longed to visit, providing us with a steady stream of conversation, thought, and research. Essentially, what could be more fun than that…making our dreams a reality?

May your dreams be realized, and you find yourself free of boredom, worry, or strife. Happy day to all! 

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2017:

Exterior view of the house on the Huon River in the Huon Valley in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

Movie night in the bush!!!…Many visitors wanted in on the action…

“Hmmm…” says Clive to Clove, “I wonder what these humans are up to now.  Are we invited?”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An apparently happy oxpecker on the hide of a kudu we spotted on yesterday afternoon’s drive in Marloth.  From this site: Oxpeckers graze exclusively on the bodies of large mammals. Certain species are seemingly preferred, whereas others, like the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest or Topi are generally avoided. Smaller antelope such as lechweduikers, and reedbuck are also avoided; the smallest regularly used species is the Impala, probably because of the heavy tick load and social nature of that species. In many parts of their range, they now feed on cattle but avoid camels. They feed on ectoparasites, particularly ticks, as well as insects infecting wounds and the flesh and blood of some wounds as well. They are sometimes classified as parasites because they open wounds on the animals’ backs.”

When Lousie and Danie invited us to a fundraiser, they did so with the thought in mind that our attending this might be ideal for a post for our worldwide readers.  The intent was clearly not in having us donate lots of money.

About 25 guests had arrived in the bush area for the wildlife rescue event, Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.  Within minutes there were about 50 guests who stayed for the meal, the presentation, the auction and eventually the movie, Out of Africa.

With the food hosted by local shop owners and the meat market, the US $8.66 (ZAR 100) per person donation for attendance was a mere pittance for the quality of the experience bestowed on the 50 attendees, most homeowners in Marloth Park or nearby surrounding areas.

We may have looked like idiots wearing our bug resistant “Africa” clothes while everyone else was wearing shorts, tee shirts, and flipflops. But, this time we aren’t taking malaria pills and feel it’s diligent to be careful especially with my weakened immune system after taking so many antibiotics.  The mozzies love me.

Louise and Danie showed up at 5:45 pm so we could follow them to the site.  They also brought chairs for us and sat with us for the entire event, although they were acquainted with almost everyone in attendance.  We had a great time at the entire event! Thanks, Louise and Danie!!!

The locals are used to applying repellent especially when out at dusk and into the evening when the mosquitos can be downright annoying and also, carrying many types of diseases besides malaria. 

The event took place on the grounds of a thoughtful homeowner who kindly cooked the fabulous food and hosted the event.

After contracting this awful gastrointestinal issue in Fiji which still plagues me today, we’d both decided that we can’t be too careful.  Illness is the only thing that will put a fast end to our travels and we’re simply not willing to take the risk.  So we look foolish?  Who cares?  We’re happy and continuing to travel the world.

Even now, as I’m posting from the veranda where we spend all of our days there’s a variety of bees and hornets buzzing us, let alone mozzies that find me, day or night.  A little caution can go a long way in protecting us.

Our first visitor to the event, a lone warthog who was curious and perhaps wondering, “Do you have any pellets?”

Anyway, back to the event…Louise and Danie graciously introduced us to many attendees which easily brought us into many interesting conversations about wildlife and Marloth Park.

She was on her knees eating some greens.

Each person we spoke to freely expressed their unbridled passion for this magical place.  Some had been living here for decades, others frequently visiting family who lives in the park.  All of the people we met are from one part of Africa or another although the majority are from South Africa.

At no point, did we or the other guests feel pressured for added donations.  The auctions provided more needed revenue and although Tom bid on a few items we lost to more enthusiastic bidders interested in various types of alcoholic beverages being offered in pretty baskets.

Deidre from Wild & Free Rescue Center in Marloth Park did a heartwarming presentation.

The food was superb as mentioned here, the movie Out of Africa, which we’d seen many times, was again entertaining. But most of all, the visitors who stopped by to check out the evening’s event, left us all in stitches with cell phone cameras flashing along with my camera.

A lookout tower on the property. Notice the kudu grazing beneath the structure.

Sometimes I could kick myself for not seeking the best possible scenes for taking photos.  I certainly have the ability to do so but in my enthusiasm, I get sidetracked by the scene in front of me and I forget to be more diligent.  I promise to work on this after it became especially evident to me this morning when I looked at last night’s photo.

We watched a heartwarming slide presentation of some of the baby animals rescued by Wild and Free Rehabilitation Centre.

Why in the heck didn’t I get the shots of the visitors with the crowd of humans in the background?  This would have created more humorous photos.  Thus, I must describe to you that the following animals came to call and hovered around the perimeter of our event: warthog, wildebeest, zebra, and ostrich.

Note the tiny bushbaby on the end of a finger.  Soon, we’ll visit the center and do a more comprehensive story on this exceptional facility.

In defense of myself to a small degree, based on the positioning of the wildlife when they hovered around our “camp,” I would have had to get behind them to get such a photo.  All of these animals weight 100’s of kilos (pounds) and doing so may have been risky.  One swift kick by an annoyed visitor could result in a tragedy.

The food was excellent; pulled pork, pulled chicken, homemade pickle slices, coleslaw, and buns.  I ate a little of everything but was concerned about the sugar in the delicious barbecue sauce.  Typically, barbecue sauce has a lot of sugar.

And so, I ask you to use your imagination and picture the animals shown in today’s photos, standing very close to us, smelling, snorting and making a variety of sounds and gestures wondering what we were all about.

I could have easily eaten twice as big a serving of the meat, it was so good but I refrained.  Tom had one bun filled with pork, coleslaw, and pickles on the side.  We noticed the locals putting the pickles in the bun with the meat.  That looked good!

Throughout the movie, we continued to hear the music-to-our-ears sounds us bush-dwellers continually strive to identify.  Tom and I are learning those sounds more this time in Marloth Park as opposed to four years ago. 

This delightful man sang a few times during the evening.  He is Etienne van der Nest also known as the “Cooking Tenor.”  What a voice and special unexpected treat!

Perhaps we’re a little wiser, a little more appreciative, and a little more in awe than we were four years ago.  A reader wrote to us a few days ago asking, “Since you’ve been in Marloth Park before, is it any less interesting and magical this second time around?”

The zebras were hovering around the perimeter of our group curious as to what was going on.

We wrote back to our reader, stating it like this, which we’ve said before, “Being here again is like having an “E” ticket to Disneyland…the anticipation of the “next ride” is almost as exciting as the ride itself.”  Even when “they” don’t visit us, our perpetual state of expectation is indescribable.

Louise explained that wild animals are often attracted to the noise of human activity and of course, like the other visitors at the event, curious as to what’s going on.

For example, the above photo featured in “Sighting of the Day in the Bush” of the oxpecker with its mouth agape while sitting atop a kudu is another of those bonuses we never seek or expect.  It’s sheer joy in the simplest of terms.

Please continue to enjoy the “ride” along with us!


Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2017:

Had we arrived a month or two earlier, the hilly countryside in the Huon Valley would have been a lush velvety green.  For more photos, please click here.

What?…Pirates of Penzance in the bush…Entertainment galore!…

The play was about, to begin with, Don on the left and Ken on the right.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After Josiah cleaned the pond in the yard, removing all the water and replacing it with freshwater, the animals have come regularly to drink, as is the case for this male impala.

What does the play the Pirates of Penzance have to do with Marloth Park? Last night, quite a bit, when our hosts Kathy and Don put on a taste-tempting spread for 13 of us, while Don and Ken performed their second annual theatrical performance for friends in Marloth Park.

The MP (Marloth Park) players present the Pirates of Penzance.

Their beautiful expansive home in the bush, overlooking the Crocodile River, looked as inviting as we recalled from our many previous visits four years ago. With a third-floor veranda with sprawling views of the river, high enough to deter mozzies, we all settled in at the arranged seating to enjoy the performance by our two brave thespians. It couldn’t have been more fun!

Don’s hysterical toilet plunger wooden leg had us roaring with laughter.

Here are a few details on this classic comedy production from this site:

“The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera’s official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, where the show was well-received by both audiences and critics.[1] Its London debut was on 3 April 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for 363 performances, having already played successfully for more than three months in New York.
The story concerns Frederic, who has completed his 21st year and is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. However, Frederic soon learns that he was born on the 29th of February, so technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year. His indenture specifies that he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday,” meaning that he must serve another 63 years. Bound by his sense of duty, Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.
Pirates were the fifth Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration and introduced the much-parodied “Major-General’s Song.” The opera was performed for over a century by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and by many other opera companies and repertory companies worldwide. Modernized productions include Joseph Papp‘s 1981 Broadway production, which ran for 787 performances, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and spawning many imitations and a 1983 film adaptation. Pirates remain popular today, taking their place along with The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore as one of the most frequently played Gilbert and Sullivan operas.”
They’d learned their lines and were ready to begin.
Don and Ken spared nothing in their gallant attempt to mimic the authenticity of this popular opera. From their homemade and clever attire to their accents, gestures, and acting abilities, without a doubt, these two could easily have been suitable for the “real deal” in major theatre in any big city throughout the world.
They’d even memorized a plethora of lines from the original production, leaving us all in awe of the time they must have spent in preparation. And yet, for such a small group, they never faltered in their enthusiasm and expertise in presenting the results of their hard work and obvious talent.
Don got the authenticity of the pirate down pat with a few clever handmade modifications.
We laughed, howled, and cheered, even exacting the often longed-for standing ovation sought by many live performers. Tom and I both felt honored to be among these fine friends with whom we find we have so much in common…less the thespian skills, of course.
After the performance ended, the food prep on the braai began. We were all seated at their huge table in no time, drinking wine and beer and continually toasting to the festivities, which continued throughout the evening.
Ken was sharp in his performance and also exhibited fine acting skills.
The platters of finely prepared meats, vegetables, and sides made it simple for me to dine with everyone else. The only items I avoided were the roasted potato dish and dessert. The rest worked out perfectly, and I appreciated our host’s thoughtfulness in preparing the food, avoiding starch, sugar, and grains. 
They had a hard time keeping a straight face on several occasions, and we laughed along with them.
We all stayed at the big table until finally, we started collecting our chill boxes with our remaining beer and wine. Linda and Ken are off on Sunday to Australia to visit family and embark on a cruise, so we won’t see them again for several months when they return to Marloth Park again. 
But, you get the drift.  Ken was standing behind Don, using his hands as if they were Don’s.  This was particularly hysterical! It was dark, and I was so entrenched in the activities I failed to adjust the camera settings for better photos in the dark.
Kathy and Don are heading to their other home in Pretoria, South Africa, to work on some projects, hopefully returning soon. Lynne and Mick will be around until March 31st, so we plan to spend time with them. Soon, we’ll see friends Hettie and Piet when they return to Marloth in the next few weeks.
The performance ended after about 30-minutes, and we cheered and clapped, ending in a standing ovation.

And, of course, Louise and Danie, with whom we’ll be tonight at yet another unique and exciting event in the bush, which we’ll be sharing in tomorrow’s post.

After the performance and the meats were being cooked on the braai, we mingled, chatting in small groups while snacking on appetizers.
Thanks to all of our readers/friends who “stay with us” on this seemingly never-ending journey as we not only thrive in our surroundings but also embrace the friendships we’ve made with all of our friends in Marloth Park. Thanks to all of our Marloth Park friends for including us in their social circle.
After the meal, the ritual “drinking from a shoe’ commenced, but we graciously declined to participate in drinking from Micheal’s shoe.  From this site:  “Drinking from a shoe has historically been performed as both a bringer of good fortune and as a hazing punishment. Drinking champagne from a lady’s slipper became a symbol of decadence in the early 20th century. Drinking beer out of one’s own shoe is a ritual sometimes undertaken at parties and events in Australia, where it is referred to as a “shoey.”[Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller celebrated his first premier class victory by drinking champagne out of his shoe, at the Dutch circuit of Assen, on 26 June 2016. Since then, Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, another Australian, has also performed shoeys on the podium.”
May your day be rich in friendship and love.
Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2017:
Wild vegetation growing along the riverbank in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. We were leaving in four days when we posted this photo.  For more details, please click here.

Coincidences…Hilarious video interaction…Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve…Busy weekend ahead…

For a good chuckle, watch this video.  At about halfway through
you see a funny interaction with this warthog and mongoose.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
These tusks on this female warthog that visited with babies are the largest we’ve seen since our arrival.
Upon entering Lionspruit, we had to sign a waiver stating, “Entering at our own risk.
Our lives are filled with coincidences, dates, people, and things. As we look back at the year-ago posts, we’re always amazed how often we encounter patterns of dates and events. I suppose with the diversity of our experiences. This can happen.

Today is February 23rd which brought to mind the coincidence of the 23rd of the prior several months. For example, on November 23rd, we embarked on the 30-night South America cruise. On December 23rd, Tom’s birthday, the cruise disembarked in Buenos Aires, where we stayed for 31 nights. Then, on January 23rd, we flew from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina, and embarked on the cruise to Antarctica. These are pretty coincidental dates filled with considerable adventure.

Today, we’ve posted a video you must watch if you’d like a chuckle. About halfway through (watch carefully), you’ll see interaction with a warthog and mongoose that we watched over and over again, laughing each time.

This sign, written in both Afrikaans and English, warns visitors about entering.  We had no intentions of getting out of the vehicle at any time.

While filming the video, we had no idea this happened. It wasn’t until we watched the video after uploading it to YouTube we realized this funny split-second-long event.

Yesterday morning Louise and Danie stopped by to leave a “cool box” (cooler) with us and a pass to get into Lionspruit Nature Reserve, contained within sprawling Marloth Park.

With very few visitors, it’s a long day for the guard that manages the gate.

With social events tonight and tomorrow night where we bring our beverages, it was thoughtful of them to loan us a cool box for our lengthy stay at “Orange…More Than Just a Color,” the name of this lovely home in the bush. 

Although the house is well-equipped, Louise has rousted up some additional items I needed; sharp knives, measuring spoons and cups (most tourists don’t cook much), mixing bowls, and other odds and ends.  Now, we have everything we need.

There were numerous impalas beyond the entrance gate, but we didn’t see much as we traveled on the dirt road.

As for the pass to Lionspruit…last time we were here, four years ago, we’d considered visiting this small (compared to Kruger National Park) wildlife reserve, but for some reason, we never got around to it. When Louise and Danie offered the pass, we decided to go.

Image result for map lionspruit
Map of Marloth Park and Lionspruit Nature Reserve.

Here’s a map of Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park. Lionspruit is 1500 hectares, equivalent to 3707 acres, or 5.8 square miles. In comparison, Marloth Park is 3000 hectares, equal to 7413 acres, or 11.6 miles.

We’d heard the roads inside Lionspruit were uneven with lots of rocks and potholes but thought we should finally give it a try. If we didn’t find it navigable, we’d turn around and leave.  Not so simple. 

Most of the roads are one-way. It proved to be like a maze, and although we were never lost, we found ourselves in a quagmire of never-ending mud holes, water holes (not knowing how deep they were), and rocky pits and ruts from rain and erosion.

As it turned out, this reserve is not the place for a regular, especially tiny car with small tires, like our rental. Indeed, a four-wheel drive would have been more appropriate.

The dirt road didn’t look bad when we started, but everything changed 10 minutes into it.  It had rained quite a bit lately. We probably should have waited for a drier spell to enter Lionspruit.

Once we got going, there was no turning back. At several points, we certainly anticipated getting stuck in the mud or ruts and having to call for help. Luckily, I’d brought my phone with the number for Field Security in the park that will come to the rescue in an emergency. We hoped “safari luck” would prevail and we’d see a lion but instead, “safari luck” saved us from getting stuck.

There are only two known lions in Lionspruit, but we could have done a number on ourselves, anticipating being stuck and spending the night in there or in attempting to walk back to the single entrance.  Oh, good grief. This could have been quite the story for an episode of 48 Hours, Dateline, or other such sensationalized TV programs in the US.

Luckily, we both stayed calm, even when we approached the scary huge water holes in the narrow dirt and rock road. Although we both were running the possibility of getting stuck in our minds, we avoided mentioning our concerns to one another.

“The southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a hornbill found in southern Africa. This hornbill species is a widespread resident of dry thornveld and broad-leafed woodlands. Yellow-billed hornbills feed mainly on the ground, forage for seeds, small insects, spiders, and scorpions. They can often be seen along roads and watercourses.”

Tom, a highly competent driver, was a little hesitant at times but maneuvered our way through some of the most challenging roads we’ve navigated in our travels. Each time he made it through another frightening patch, we both sighed in relief.

It was so tense. I failed to take photos of the water and mud holes, which I wished I had done now that it’s over. Just picture a water hole of unknown depth covering an entire dirt roadway…we made our way through many of these.

More impalas tucked away in the bush.

With a manual transmission, Tom used first gear during most of the entire long drive. It took us two hours to return to the entrance gate, after which we returned the plastic-encased map to the guard joyfully waving goodbye.

We never spotted either of the two lions in Lionspruit, nor did we see much wildlife, other than a few, as shown here today. We see more wildlife sitting at the big table on the veranda than we did there. 

Impalas are shy and tend to back off from humans.  Plus, they are huge targets for lions, leopards, and hyenas, so they’re always on the lookout.

Next week, we’re heading to Kruger National Park (25 minutes to the Crocodile Bridge entrance) on a self-drive on their easy-to-manage paved roads.  In comparison, Kruger is over 2,000,000 hectares, 4,942,108 acres, and 7,722 square miles. Having visited Kruger many times during our last stay, we’re looking forward to returning.

There are many hornbills in this area.

Tonight at 6:00 pm, we’re off to a musical party at friends Kathy and Don’s home here in Marloth, where Don and Ken (of Linda and Ken) have a performance planned, followed by food, drinks, and most certainly more lively chatter. 

What a fabulous social week for us with more excitement upcoming tomorrow night, which we’ll write about tomorrow. 

Have a blissful weekend, whatever you may do!

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

Caravans parking in Franklin, Tasmania for summer activities in the Huon Valley. For more photos, please click here.

Herbivores, omnivores and carnivores…More apparent in the wild…Lions in Marloth Park…

We drove down this bumpy dirt road to find several zebras while they grazed. This one stopped to look at us but didn’t seem to mind our presence.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Young zebra’s stripes appear more brown than black, and the hair on its neck is fluffier than on an adult.

After a fair amount of rain, it’s good to see the bush has become greener, providing more vegetation for the animals to forage. Most of the wildlife in Marloth Park are herbivores, as described here:

herbivore is an animal that gets its energy from eating plants and only plants. Omnivores can also eat parts of plants, but generally only the fruits and vegetables produced by fruit-bearing plants. Many herbivores have special digestive systems that let them digest all kinds of plants, including grasses.”

Zebras are such fascinating animals, especially when considering the uniqueness of their varied stripes. 

There are several omnivores in the park as well, described as follows here:

 “Omnivore /ˈɒmnivɔːr/ is a consumption classification for animals that can obtain chemical energy and nutrients from materials originating from plant and animal origin.”

Zebras often live in “harems” with a male and several females and their offspring.  This appeared to be the case here when we noticed this youngster in the group.

Many species of birds are omnivores, such as the local helmeted guinea fowl, rodents, frogs, and other bird species, known to eat carrion, the rotting flesh of dead animals. Many types of vultures and birds of prey are carnivores.

Of course, as we all know, a carnivore is a creature, both human and animal that consumes meat, of one variety or another. With no particular affinity or opinion as to veganism as a personal choice for diet, especially for those who eat a “clean” vegan diet, they often claim humans weren’t intended to eat the flesh of other animals.

The stripe patterns are fascinating, and there are various opinions on why they developed them. Zebras are herbivores.
For many wild animals hunting for meat are a very natural process and their only means of survival. Perhaps we humans evolved similarly. I won’t get into that controversial topic too much here.
But, being in Africa certainly gives us a different perspective of the “food chain” as opposed to living in a more developed part of the world where we may give less emphasis to the cycle of life for human and animal evolution.
The adult male in the harem.

Indeed, I’m no scientist or expert and our perspective may hinge entirely upon a lifetime of preconceived notions we’ve garnered over decades. Living in the bush opens our eyes to possibilities we’d never considered in the past.

There she is, Ms. Bushbok, climbing the steps looking for pellets.  Of course, we respond to her request, as we do for all visitors.

We do know for sure that whatever we thought we knew about wildlife, even after our prior six months living in Kenya and South Africa was infinitesimal compared to the knowledge that lifetime residents of these parts have gleaned from education, personal encounters, stories passed down from generations. Innate curiosity to understand their country and their environment.

Each day as we discover a new species, a unique encounter or behavior, we find ourselves grasping for knowledge to understand better the magnitude and power of this vast wildlife-rich continent. 

Several male impalas stopped by for a visit.

Fortunately, there’s considerable information online from reliable sources aiding us in our research and, like hungry vultures ourselves, we devour every morsel we can gather to enhance our perspective. Plus, our friends and landlords, Louise and Danie, native South African, are a valuable source in educating us.

There’s no way we can capture it all. This morning a half dozen vervet monkeys visited the marula tree in the yard which daily drops hundreds of the green fruit to the ground. As fast as they constantly moved, it was impossible for me to get a photo I would have loved to share here. 

There wasn’t a single female in the herd.

At times, a photo is just not meant to be although in no way does it diminish the quality of our experience.  We can tell you about it and eventually, we’ll be able to share a photo. It’s all a part of the joy of being here. It’s not always instant gratification. Often, patience and gentle determination will provide the outcome one desires.

Big Boy is on his knees eating pellets on the steps to the veranda.  His friend nibbles off to the side.

And so, we’ve heard from several reliable sources, there are lions that have entered Marloth Park via the fence and the Crocodile River between Kruger National Park and Marloth  Park. One was spotted a few days, only a few blocks from us.

Sure, we’d love to see it and the other lions that apparently have taken up residence in the park and of course, if “safari luck” prevails, we’ll be ultra-careful and never attempt to “push our luck.” 

This pretty young female stops by every few days for some pellets.

Today, as soon as we upload this post, we’re heading out for a drive, hoping to spot more of Mother Nature’s wonders in the veritable paradise for wildlife enthusiasts.

Be well. Be happy.

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

Throughout Tasmania and Australian states, there are many wood carvings
In honor of Australians throughout history. For more photos, please click here.

Birthday party photos…Oh, what a night!…

We’ll never forget this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrated life, health, our experiences, and the acceptable friends we’ve made along the way.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush

Colorful face shot of a helmeted guinea fowl, many of whom are frequent visitors to our bush house.

It’s after noon, and I’m just getting started on today’s post. There were a few diversions this morning, keeping me from getting a timely start. One delay was due to my sleeping in until 8:00 am after a long stretch of wakefulness during the night. I guess it was the two glasses of red wine I drank during my birthday party. 

Secondly, I had complicated computer problems this morning (I won’t bore you with the details) when I sat down at the big outdoor table to begin the post. After a few hours of working on it and staying calm, I created somewhat of a workaround, hopefully lasting until I fire up my new yet unused laptop. 

I‘ve been trying to use this three-plus-year-old Acer laptop until it’s on its last leg, and it appears that day may be imminent. Based on all the jousting around in our travels and excessive use, I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party.  Thanks, Dawn!  By the time we were all seated, it was dark, cozy, and romantic.

The second distraction was when our housekeeper Martha, who lives in a tiny house on the property, asked to help fix her TV. We walked to her little place and played with the remote, attempting to get a signal.  Finally, we got it working, and the dear woman hugged us with gratitude. 

We could only imagine how hard it would be for her to be without TV during her free time. Although she works for us and a few other properties for Louise and Danie, she has idle time that could be lonely and difficult without the ability to watch her favorite shows.

The third distraction was to run to the little market in Marloth to see if we could find mushrooms for a dish I’m making tonight. The mushrooms are an integral ingredient in the recipe, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. 

Wow! We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Janine even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand.

We didn’t feel like driving to Komatipoort for mushrooms since we didn’t need to do any other grocery shopping right now.  The round trip drive is over an hour and certainly not worth it for only one item.

There are two superette-type markets in Marloth Park, one with about 30% more inventory than the other. Alas, we headed to the larger of the two and found fresh mushrooms. That was surprising!

Back at the house, I settled into my usual spot on the veranda to finally get started on today’s post about last night’s birthday party. A few visitors stopped, and again I was distracted from the task at hand. Oh, well, here we are now, pushing 3:00 pm and anxious to share last night’s event.

Closeup of Tom and I in fondant standing atop the world!  So fun!

Tom and I arrived at Jabula shortly before 6:00 pm, where we met with Jannine, the cake lady, her husband Vincent, and their two kids while they waited for us in the rain tucked under an overhang. They’d arrived earlier than planned, and fortunately, we’d done the same.

Although it was pouring rain when we arrived, they’d already carried the cake up the steep stairs to the restaurant. As soon as we stepped into the bar and spotted the cake, we both smiled from ear to ear. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

As shown in our photos, the cake was made round into the shape of the world, with each of the continents added utilizing fondant. The two minor characters she’d made to represent us couldn’t have been more adorable and befitting. 

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

What a talent! Known as the “cake lady” in these parts, Jannine can be reached through Vincent’s email here should you live in Marloth Park or nearby and would like a unique and delicious cake.

Shortly after Jannine and Vincent left, our guests began to arrive. We mingled around the bar until it was time to be seated. We paid for our cake, reasonably priced at US $56.54 (ZAR 650), and hugged them both for their attention to detail and for delivering the cake to Jabula.

Dawn, the co-owner of Jabula with her husband Leon, set an exquisite table for our group and had the plastic-encased menus printed with the selections as well as the photo of us sipping champagne on the Zodiac boat only weeks ago in Antarctica. It couldn’t have been more perfect. (See image below).

Linda, Mick, and Louise, with Ken and Don standing.

The evening flowed with lively upbeat conversation, not only about the commonality we all share in our love for Marloth Park but also many other exciting topics. The time flew so quickly, when it was time to go, we felt as if we hadn’t had quite enough of this beautiful group of people.

The specially printed menu added a nice touch.

The food was exceptional.  We hosted the meal, and both red and white wine was served during the dinner. Afterward, I cut the cake, which tempted me to lick my fingers, but I didn’t taste a drop.  

I’d thought about making an appropriate cake for me, but I didn’t feel a need for it.  I try to avoid getting back into a taste for sweet foods, which I’ve all but conquered over these past few years.

I’d asked our guests not to bring gifts, but they couldn’t seem to avoid doing so. When doesn’t a girl love a 50 pound (23 kg) bag of pellets, a bag of almond flour, bars of scented soaps, and a bottle of fine South African wine in a lovely African cloth holder beside all the beautiful cards and messages? 

A few of the guys had “espetada,” which is well-seasoned meat of a hanging skewer.  Gee, I might try this sometime, but I always have the same meal at Jabula; peri-peri chicken livers with a Greek salad.

A heartfelt thanks to all of our friends for knowing exactly what I’d love, none of which I’ll have to add to my luggage next time we fly away after blissfully using up all of the items.

Back at our inviting holiday home, referred to as “Orange…More than Just a Color” I checked my computer to find more birthday wishes than I’d ever seen in the past; from our readers, our Facebook friends, our family, and friends. I must say I was reeling from the love I felt from all over the world. 

After the dinner plates were cleared, the cake was delivered to the table. Thanks, Kathy, for bringing the candles!

Thank you with all of my heart for making the 70th birthday one I’ll never forget, not for the celebration of the “number” but for the people who made it so special. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2017:

Views of the Huon River in Tasmania. For more photos, please click here.

My 70th birthday present, unwrapped and before my eyes…Nothing compares…

We’ve fallen in love with the female bushbuck who stops by for a visit almost every day. She doesn’t hesitate to eat from my hand and responds to my voice.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
This purple crested turaco or purple crested lourie stopped by for a visit yesterday. After waiting a while, we spotted a mate.

While swimming in the pool in Bali in October 2016, Tom presented me with an exciting gift for my 70th birthday, which was 16 months away. Here’s the post from that date.  

I had been longing to return to Africa one day but never expected it to be so soon. Tom felt this milestone birthday deserved something special, and besides, what can a guy buy his girl when her one clothing suitcase is filled to the brim with its allowable 23 kg (50 pounds)?

Forget jewelry; not safe to wear in some locations.  Forget a box of chocolates; she doesn’t consume sugar. Forget any clothing items; as mentioned above, there’s no room. Forget digital equipment; she already has everything she needs or wants. Forget a trip to a tropical climate; she already lives life on holiday, mostly in tropical climates. And, the list went on and on. 
“The purple-crested turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) is a species of bird in the Musophagidae family. It is the National Bird of the Kingdom of Swaziland. The crimson flight feathers of this and related turaco species are important in the ceremonial regalia of the Swazi royal family.”

Otherwise, he couldn’t think of a thing. If he’d asked me for suggestions, I’d have been at a loss. I have everything I could ever want. I never walk into a shop or store and wish I could make a purchase, not for a personal item nor a household item. 

I‘ve learned to “make do” with what I have. I am perfectly content as long as I can replenish my few cosmetic items that fit in a few ziplock bags and clothing and shoes as they wear out.

In our old lives, I had every kitchen gadget imaginable. Now, as long as I have two good knives, a paring knife, a large chopping knife, a few large bowls, and if possible, a mixer, a blender, or a coffee grinder, I can prepare any of our favorite meals.

So, when Tom told me we were returning to Africa after the Antarctica cruise we’d booked eight months earlier, I nearly wept with joy.  We’d never returned to any location we’d previously visited, except Bali for a second two-month stay when we took a two-month hiatus to head to Southeast Asia, visiting Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia with a cruise on the Mekong River.

“This bird has a purple-colored crest above a green head, a red ring around their eyes, and a black bill. The neck and chest are green and brown. The rest of the body is purple, with red flight feathers.”

We loved the second two-month stay in Bali and the first in the same exquisite holiday home in Sumbersari, a five-hour harrowing drive from the airport in Denpasar.

And now, back in Marloth Park with a plan to stay in Africa for 14 months, traveling in and out of South Africa with Marloth Park as somewhat of a base, we’ll visit many more exciting countries on the continent, which we’ll share in months to come.

The four years since we were last here went quickly, yet our memories of being here are so fresh in our minds. We recall every little nuance and almost every post we uploaded during those three short months. 

As we lounge on the veranda all day long, rain or shine, awaiting our next visitors, knowing full-well they will come as they have over these past nine days since our arrival, we’re at peace. For me, I feel like I am “home.” 

They live in moist woodland and evergreen forests. They eat mainly fruit.

This life here, albeit interlaced with certain challenges and discomforts, is truly where I belong. As a little girl, I dreamed of Africa, and to realize it took me 66 years to get here the first time and 70 years the second time, I am fulfilled.

And…when it’s time to go, I will accept it, hopefully with grace and ease, knowing a lifelong dream has been fulfilled, and it’s time to move on. Will we ever return? Who knows? Perhaps another four or more years will pass, and we’ll know we want to and are physically able to return. We’re good at planning two years out, but not much more than that.

Today will be a good day. This morning, I lay down the pellets on the soft dirt of the driveway after last night’s soaking rain, and within minutes, we had a female kudu, a male bushbuck, and a flock of helmeted guinea fowl. That was quite a treat! Before noon, friends Kathy and Linda unexpectedly stopped by to wish me a happy birthday.

This morning the bird, as shown here today, a purple crested turaco or purple crested lourie, stopped by the tree directly in front of us, displaying its beautiful plumage much too quickly for another photo. We’re grateful for the photos we captured yesterday afternoon.

Speaking of gratefulness, I must express my gratitude to my dear husband Tom. Without him and his never-ending desire to provide me with indescribable joy and fulfillment, life couldn’t possibly reach these heights. I never dreamed 70 years of age would be like this.

To all of our readers/friends/family…we thank you for traveling along with us.  We never imagined we’d have some many readers from all over the world. All of you mean the world to us, and your readership is a huge inspiration in every aspect of our travels. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2017:

While at the pharmacy in Geeveston, we noticed this antique wagon atop the bakery/restaurant. For more photos, please click here.

Malaria risks…Big Boy is back!…The excitement continues…We can’t get enough!…

Three-for-One….on the Crocodile River; a White Fronted Plover, a female impala, and a male waterbuck. We’d wish it had been a sunny day for this shot, but cloudy days can mean more rain, and rain is desperately needed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A vervet monkey was sitting atop a lion statue in the yard of a house.

No, we won’t be spending this entire next 12 months in Africa sitting on the veranda waiting for visitors and posting photos of the same species over and over again. We have many exciting plans on the horizon.

Big Boy is easy twice the size of this other adult male warthog. We’re assuming this may be the same “Big Boy” we saw four years ago, as shown at this link. Warthogs have a lifespan of 18 years.  Once males mate, they don’t hang out with females, nor are they involved in the care of their offspring.  However, who knows, perhaps another male with whom they wander and graze may be an offspring.

But, after the last few months having sailed on two major cruises (30-nights and 17-nights) and spending 33-nights in Buenos Aires, we’re both thoroughly enjoying this time doing exactly what we feel like doing; relishing the quiet, the never-ending stream of “visitors” and time with our friends in Marloth Park.
Part of the joys of traveling the world is spending time, just like all of you, settling into a comfortable and pleasurable routine with minor requirements of our time. We can go out. We can stay in, sitting on the veranda. Our time is our own.

“A face only a mother could love,” and yet I find them so adorable with their quirky personalities.

Marloth Park and much of South Africa are often hot, humid with plenty of mozzies and other insects. We have to reapply insect repellent several times a day, especially during this second stay in South Africa. We aren’t taking malaria pills. 

The high-risk malaria season is ending in March or April, depending on the rains. It made no sense to be taking the pills for over a year where there are side effects and hazards in doing so over the long haul. 

Up the steps he goes, to see what we’ve got in the way of pellets!

Taking the risk of getting malaria or taking the risk of possible side effects from taking the medication for an extended period was a toss-up.  With a diligent repellent application, primarily with DEET, the only sure-fire ingredient, there’s another round of risks.

Warthogs tend to eat on their knees due to their long legs and short necks, making foraging for food more accessible. They have special knee pads that make this possible.

We didn’t take these considerations lightly. After speaking to several of our local friends, we opted to do what they do…stay protected with strong repellent and don’t kid ourselves that “natural’ repellents are strong enough to prevent bites. We know this from experience after trying several natural repellents, and yet, we still got bit, Tom, less than me.

“Whew,” says Big Boy. “I need a rest after eating all those pellets.”  He has to comfortably position his head with those razor-sharp tusks used for digging up roots and for his personal defense.  Warthogs aren’t naturally aggressive but will defend themselves vigorously if need be.  Females will become very aggressive in protecting their young.

Plus, taking malaria pills is no guaranty one won’t contract malaria. They aren’t 100% effective. Many tourists coming to Africa for a few weeks begin taking the drugs a week or two before they arrive, during their stay, and a few weeks after leaving the area. Generally, this provides good protection.

After about 20 minutes, Big Boy perked up and was ready to continue his day with his male friend, who hung around waiting for him while he napped.

But, our circumstances are different. After considerable research and speaking with our friends here in Marloth, we feel comfortable with our decision not to take the pills with a few adaptations.

Roadside shop with potatoes, onions, and miscellaneous items.

One way to reduce the risk of mosquito bites is to remove these “tire chairs” from our proximity, as shown in the photo below.  These tires can easily hold water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.  Yesterday, after it rained, Tom tipped them all over to remove the water. Today, when our pool and groundskeeper Josiah arrives, we’re asking him to move these chairs in a distant area in the yard,

Visitors are checking the ground for pellets near the “tire” chairs.

As pointed out on Saturday night by our friend Don and longtime resident of Marloth Park, these tire chairs could easily provide an ideal hiding place for a deadly black mamba. Four years ago, Don told us a terrifying story about finding a black mamba in his storage room the last time we were here. 

Don escaped unharmed, but it was an incident he’ll never forget and a story we easily remembered after hearing it so long ago. One can’t ever be too careful in ensuring their safety from potential risks in specific environments, and there’s little room for foolhardiness.

This is the bush house we first rented when we arrived in Marloth in December 2013.  We prefer the house we’re in now due to its easier view of the yard indoors (for checking on visitors). However, we’re spending every hour of the day outside as we’d done at that property.

The weekend was spectacular for both human and wildlife visitors.  At one point on Sunday, we had eight large animals in front of us. We do not doubt as they become used to our presence, we’ll see more and more.

Today, we’re finalizing a few details for my upcoming birthday party at Jabula tomorrow night. We can’t wait to share photos from the party and the most unusual birthday cake prepared by the “cake lady” here in Marloth Park. 

Life is good, even better than we’d expected. We hope yours is as well!

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2017:

Huon River from the highway in Tasmania. We were nearing the end of our six-week stay. For more, please click here.