The falling leaves make us sad…Today is the first day of fall in South Africa…Socializing galore!!!…

I was indoors preparing dinner while Tom noticed this mongoose digging a hole in the yard.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A grasshopper we found on new friends Janet and Steve’s veranda. Four years ago, we’d written a story with photos of hundreds, if not thousands, of grasshoppers in our yard. For videos and details, please click here.
Today, south of the equator, it’s the first day of fall. This morning, out on the veranda as always, we both noticed leaves falling from the trees and low-lying brush. 

Perhaps we noticed the leaves falling to the ground in the gentle warm breeze simply due to our awareness that fall has arrived. As we mentioned in earlier posts, fall and winter may not be good times for the wildlife in Marloth Park, most of whom are dependent upon the green vegetation on the trees, plants, and bushes.

It appeared they might have found something.

We’ve never been here in the fall. Four years ago, we left on February 28th while summer was in full bloom. February is comparable to August in those countries located north of the equator.

Of course, today is the much revered first day of spring when those living in cold climates jump for joy at the prospect of warmer weather for our family and friends in Minnesota.
More digging.

There’s no shortage of warm weather here. Today is expected to reach 95F (35C), dropping to a high of 79F (26C) tomorrow for a huge weather change. That’s South Africa for you. But, it’s these big weather variations that affect foliage.

In our old lives, we’d never stay all day and evening outdoors with temperatures in the 90’s. But, here it’s the course of life in the African bush. The locals have adapted, and we have as well. The only air con we use is in the car (a must) and while sleeping.
Francolins are commonly found in the bush.  They don’t fly much but are fast walkers and very noisy.
We’ll watch and see how winter in the bush will be for the wildlife, hoping only for the best for them while praying for rain. Winter is the dry season in this part of the world.
This week has been and will continue to be a busy social time for us. Sunday, we visited Gail and Mark (their story will be posted on Friday). Last night, Wednesday, new friends and neighbors Sandra and Paul (two doors down on the right) came for 5:00 pm happy hour and stayed until almost 10:00 pm…we had a blast!
Helmeted Guinea Fowl often hang around the yard.

Today, Wednesday, our dear friends  Louise, and Danie, who happen to be our property managers, come for dinner. On Saturday,  Janet and Steve (whose home we visited for dinner a few weeks ago) and Lynn and Mick are coming for dinner, with both couples leaving Marloth Park at the end of March, who’ll be gone for a few months, later in the year. We’ll see them all again since we’ll be here (in and out for visa purposes) until March 24, 2019.

On April 2nd, we’re attending an Easter party at Kathy and Don’s MP home on the Crocodile River, after they’ll have been staying at one of their other homes located in Pretoria, South Africa, returning to Marloth Park for a while. Surely, we’ll socialize regularly with that wonderful couple as well.
It appears there are more ostriches in Marloth Park than four years ago when we were here. We’re enjoying everyone we encounter.

Friendly, fun, and welcoming people have taken us into the fold of their social lives as many come and go between other homes in other locales, often other countries. We’re looking forward to Linda and Ken returning in a few months for plenty of good times with the two of them.

When we look back at all the countries, we visited where it wasn’t easy to make friends. We’re so grateful to be here among our human and animal friends. Last night, during our fun evening. Big Boy (warthog) stopped by to check out the pellet situation. 
 At “our house,” the pellet situation is good and will remain so regardless of our social activities, the time of the day, and of course, the season of the year.
We spotted these two zebras on the side of the road on our way to the market.

Today’s heading reminded me of Nat King Cole’s song, “The Autumn Leaves,” a favorite song of many of his fans.  Here’s the link to the song on YouTube with the beautiful lyrics below:

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold

Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”
May you have an exceptional season, whether today is the beginning of spring or fall for you.
Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2017:
The sun peeked out for a few hours while we were in Manly, Australia making our way to the ferry to head to the immigration office regarding our “illegal” status. For more details, please click here.

The neighborhood in Marloth Park is even more charming than imagined…Our visit to Daisy’s Den…

The bird feeder with two sections, into which we placed the two different seeds. So far, no birds. But as they say with bird feeders, one must be patient. 
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
We visited Gail and Mark on Sunday to discuss a story we’ll be posting later this Friday about the stunning and heartwarming book Gail wrote, “Her Name is Missy,” of their time in Liberia during the worst of the Ebola epidemic and her heroic rescue of a chimpanzee named Missy.  Please check back on Friday for the story.  We loved seeing the birds they feed at their home and holiday lodges across a small river road.  The visit prompted us to purchase a bird feeder and seeds.
Yesterday afternoon, we decided to purchase a bird feeder after our Sunday afternoon visit to Gail and Mark Fox at their holiday lodge and a lovely home overlooking the Crocodile River in Marloth Park, as we flipped over all the birds that visited their property.
After our exceptional experience with birds at our holiday home in Costa Rica many months ago, we were thrilled with the idea of attracting birds to our Marloth Park holiday home.
This decorative fountain is outside the door of Daisy’s Den, a feed store in Marloth where we purchased the bird feeder and seeds.  The owner told us that some patrons would try to shut off the water!  Hahaha.
Once Josiah arrived to wash the veranda and clean the pool, during which we always get out of the way, it was a good time to hop in the little car to head to Daisy’s Den, where Mark and Gail purchase their seeds and supplies.
Daisy’s Den and Wildlife Centre carries a wide array of animal feed and outdoor and indoor products appropriate for life in Marloth Park.
Our lives aren’t always about the “big things.” We often find great interest and joy in the “small things,” such as in our visit to Daisy’s Den. Tucked away at the end of one of a few shopping areas in Marloth Park, we remembered this shop from four years ago where we purchased pellets during our three-month stay, which at the time had different owners.
Now with Mark (not Mark Fox) having purchased the property a few years ago, we were delighted to make purchases in the well-stocked and organized shop in an attempt to support local businesses. This is always very important to us.
Another Mark has owned the popular shop for the past few years with his son John working with him.
Sure, at times, prices may be higher in local shops than those in the bigger cities and towns. Still, when considering time, fuel and convenience is often a priority to us to play whatever small role we can in not only buying products from local shops but also in writing a little about them in the process, as in today’s story.
Marloth Park is a small town, a Conservancy, distinct in its wildlife, people, and politics. We chatted with owner Mark and his son John, both of whom we’d met at the snake handling course on March 10th. At the time, we had no idea they owned Daisy’s Den and were delighted to see them again.
Daisy’s Den also carried handmade crafts, many made by locals.  We spotted Gail’s book, “Her Name in Missy,” also for sale in the charming shop.

Yes, even in this remote natural setting, politics becomes a factor among many of the locals.  Opinions vary on how this unique environment should be managed and handled, and at times, like most townships, not everyone agrees.

The shop carries a few items found in a pharmacy (including a few souvenirs) since it’s a long drive to the pharmacy in Komatipoort.
However, during our overall year in the park, we choose to stay out of local government and its highly charged politics. We’re here to learn about the wildlife, enjoy the companionship of the local people and immerse ourselves in other areas of Africa we’ll visit from time to time.
There are household goods and a variety of lawn and garden chemicals and products.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Daisy’s Den but w we were anxious to get back to our holiday home to hang the bird feeder. Although there’s a ladder here, I discouraged Tom from using it.  Instead, he used a long pole he’s been using to scare off the baboons and gingerly placed the feeder on a branch, as shown in the above photo.
We purchased two types of seeds hoping to attract a variety of birds.
In no time at all, the feeder was situated on a tree close to the veranda with easy viewing from our usual spots at the big table. We won’t miss a thing. Hopefully, soon, we’ll be able to enjoy more bird visitors than we’ve seen flying through the bush thus far. We’ll see how it goes.
We purchased the wooden bird feeder and two bags of seed at the cost of ZAR 215 (US $17.94). We couldn’t wait to get back to set it up.
Sharing our stories and photos along with way enhances our experiences in a way no words can describe. We only hope our readers continue to enjoy the less-than-astounding aspects of life in the bush, the small stories, and the simple pleasures that we encounter almost every day.
Located immediately next door to Daisy’s Den is Mark’s wife Tracy’s sewing and embroidery shop.
May your day’s simple pleasures bring you much joy.

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

Painted performers at Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

Health update…Figuring out solutions…

A kudu was nursing her baby in our yard.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A White Helmetstrike perching near an unknown species of a blackbird.

Since we settled in South Africa, we’ve had many of our readers inquiring as to how I’ve been feeling after the awful knee injury in Buenos Aires and my continuing gastrointestinal issues. We both appreciate the inquiries and concern, constantly feeling our readers are so kind and in touch with what’s going on with us.

First off, I don’t particularly appreciate sounding like a medical mess. Who does? We all prefer to present a degree of health and wellness when we’ve made a concerted effort to be healthy, taking a certain amount of pride in good results.

One of many in the area, this termite mound s over 2 meters (6 feet) tall.  A variety of animals eat the termites from the mound.

In a perfect world, we can waft into “old age” with a modicum of good health. However, due to heredity, history and past injuries, many of us are plagued with certain conditions that, regardless of how hard we may try, continue to be a presence in our lives. Most of these “conditions” so to speak, only worsen as we age.

Since we began our travels almost 5½ years ago, I’ve been subject to three health situations, that regardless of how hard I tried, had to be dealt with the best way I could:  one, the problem with my gastrointestinal health from eating octopus in Fiji on Christmas Day, 2015; two, the injury to my spine in the pool in Bali which took five months to fully heal (no recurring problems); and three, the injury and subsequent infection in my knee from a fall in Buenos Aires in January, 2018, (since fully healed).

Ms. Warthog rolling around in the hay pile.

The only remaining issue has been gastrointestinal which initially became a case of H. Pylori (Helicobacter Pylori), gastritis and eventually ulcers which have plagued me consistently for over two years.   

The H. Pylori resolved after having had a blood test in Tasmania and being prescribed the usual “triple therapy” of significant doses of two types of antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor (PPI).  In many cases, even after this extensive treatment, one can end up with ulcers, which may require the continuation of a PPI indefinitely.

A  single mongoose gets an egg.  We purchased a container of 60 eggs for this purpose.

As a result, when I stopped taking the PPIs (omeprazole) while we were in Costa Rica I still was experiencing ulcer pain and knew I had to continue them for an extended period which is now over six months ago. 

After reading about serious side effects of taking PPIs long term, I’ve been determined to stop taking them when I wasn’t explicitly feeling any ulcer pain although I still had bouts of bloating, discomfort and other symptoms you can well imagine which can be a result of side effects of the pills. 

These tall cone-shaped structures act as scarecrows to keep birds away from banana trees.

Recently, I decided to stop the PPIs and see what happens. Now, that we’re settled here in South Africa and not traveling until May, this was a good time as any. 

As it turns out, stopping long-term (or short-term) treatment with PPIs causes a “rebound effect.”  The gastrointestinal tract has been signaled by the drugs to stop producing stomach acid. Without adequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, HCl) food is difficult to digest, causing bloating, pain and diarrhea,  constipation or both. It’s a catch 22.

With the grounds of our rental consisting mainly of low-lying bush, we don’t expect giraffes to come into the yard unless they wander down the dirt driveway. Giraffes prefer to graze where they don’t have to be continually ducking trees and branches. Subsequently, we drive around Marloth Park to find them.

Two weeks ago yesterday, on March 4th I abruptly stopped the pills. A week passed, no pain, no issues. During the second week, the burning started which I must admit has been almost unbearable. The reason for this is, without the drug, the stomach begins pumping excessive amounts of HCL to compensate for the lack of the drug. With the way the pills are made, there’s no way to taper the dose.  

Eventually, the amazing body will generally correct itself and a normal and adequate amount of acid will be produced, sufficient enough to handle the assimilation and digestion of food. Via comments on many medical sites, this process can take from two to six months to fully resolve.  I’m two weeks in.

Francolins often visit us.  They are shy, run very fast, fly very little and make lots of noise during the day and early evening.

It hasn’t been easy but I have to stick with this. After seeing three doctors for these issues in Tasmania, all with varying opinions and treatment options, I felt getting off this drug is of utmost importance, especially since I no longer feel any specific ulcer pain. 

The burning sensation of the excess acid my body is pumping to compensate for no longer shutting down acid production from the medication, comes and goes throughout the day and night. In the past week, I haven’t slept more than five hours at night and often find myself pacing in an attempt to stop the discomfort.

We may not see them each time we take a drive but we’re always thrilled when we do.

Nothing I eat or drink makes any difference although I am trying a low acid, bland diet within the framework of my usual way of eating. Last night, I had mildly seasoned sauteed liver, onions, mushrooms and steamed vegetables for dinner while Tom enjoyed homemade low carb pizza.  We’ll have leftovers tonight.

Hopefully each day it will become a little easier. I’m hoping it won’t require the two or more months to work itself out. In the interim, we’re staying upbeat and busy with many social events and activities, all of which are a good distraction. 

We’ve only had one wildebeest visitor to date but have seen others in Marloth and Kruger.

No words can describe how much I’m looking forward to being free of this. But there’s no better place to be during this time…loving life in Marloth Park, among our animal and human friends, all of whom provide a plethora of “feel good” hormones that certainly aid in the recovery.

So, there it is dear readers, the answer to the thoughtful inquiries many of you have kindly sent our way, the answers in one fell swoop. Tom, as usual, is lovingly supportive and has the uncanny ability to keep me laughing, living in the moment and looking optimistically to the future.

Vervet monkey are prolific in Marloth Park and are considerably less destructive than baboons.

May each of you enjoy good health and a sense of well-being. As we all know, above all else, nothing is more important than making every effort to maintain good health.

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

Cloudy night at the Sydney Opera House when we attended an opera we’d booked well in advance for excellent seats. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Harrowing, exciting and frustrating day in Kruger National Park…A staple gun dictated “safari luck!”

This baby zebra leaned into mom as we stopped for a photo. For all we knew, we could have been the first humans she’d ever seen.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Shortly after we returned, several kudus stopped by to say hello.

To make heads or tails of today’s story, it is essential to read yesterday’s post, which may be found here. Today’s post is a continuation of our harrowing and yet exciting day in Kruger National Park, and yesterday’s post explains the comment in the heading, “a staple gun dictated “safari luck…”

In one of yesterday’s closing paragraph’s we wrote: “But tomorrow, we’ll share the balance, a story of making mistakes, taking wrong roads and choosing a ridiculous shortcut that only cost us more time and frustration, all of which we must admit, was softened by this scene of the elephants…”,

Zebras and baby were wandering down the dirt road.

And mistakes we made that day, one of which was venturing out on those awful dirt roads in a highly unsuitable little car which was designed to take the battering of the washboard roads, not unlike its passengers during the harrowing drive.

At several points on the dirt roads, we heard a rattling in the car, even at the low speeds we were traveling, that sounded as if something was going to fall out or off of the vehicle. 

A male zebra posing for a photo.

We both stayed as calm as we could but were thinking the same thing…what if the older little car broke down and we were stranded on this remote road?  Yes, we had a SIM card in my phone, which was almost fully charged (the phone charger outlet in the car doesn’t work).  And there was an emergency phone number we could have called in the back in the park’s map book.

But, the thought of sitting in a broken-down rental car waiting to be rescued was not appealing to either of us.  Even while Tom slowed to a snail’s pace, the rattling continued. So we continued, stopping only when we finally made it to the gate after driving for hours, to travel the mere 60 km (37 miles) to reach the Malelane Gate. Turning in our paperwork and getting on a paved road couldn’t have been more of a relief.

After we spotted the elephants crossing the road after we’d decided to head to the Malelane Gate when the Crocodile Bridge was blocked for hours by a stuck boat trailer, we encountered this lone giraffe.

We’d never entered or exited Kruger at the Malelane Gate. We hadn’t been to Malelane since our arrival in South Africa over five weeks ago. Four years ago, we had a great dinner there while chickens wandered about the interior of the restaurant. We remembered that about Malelane. (See that link here from December 22, 2013)

Once outside the gate, we watched for roadsigns indicating how to return to Marloth. We saw one sign that read Komatipoort, and that seemed the right direction for us.  Somehow we missed the sign for N4.

A warthog family on the rough dirt road on the way to the Malelane Gate.

After the awful drive, we were exhausted and distracted.  Plus, there are very few road signs that point to Marloth Park. Why we stayed on the main highway R570, we’ll never know, when in fact, we needed N4.

We drove for over 32 km (20 miles) one way in error before we realized, in the pouring rain, that we didn’t recognize any of the names of upcoming towns such as Pig’s Peak and Jeppe’s Reef.  We’d driven almost to Swaziland! We had to backtrack the 32 km to return to Malelane to get to N4 and Marloth Park.

This warthog appears to have been rolling in mud as she hangs out with male impala.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that we did have a map in the glovebox. Oh, what a day! For some reason, we thought we only had maps for Marloth Park and Kruger. In checking out the map, we realized our error.

We noticed on the map that we’d pass Hectorspruit, a small town between Malelane and Marloth. Big mistake! Once on the road heading back N4, we encountered a sign indicating a route to Hectorspruit, a shortcut, according to the map.

The rough washboard road seemed as if it would never end. It took us hours to get out of the park.

If we thought the washboard dirt roads in Kruger were terrible, we were in for a big surprise. The road from R570 to Hectorspruit to N4 was, by far, the worst paved road we’d ever driven on of all of the above. 

Talk about potholes!  There were deep potholes every meter (every few feet), many we couldn’t see until a tire dropped into one after another, with nowhere else on the road or the shoulder to drive, and for us, after the harrowing day, no turning back.

More elephants were spotted at quite a distance.  We continued on the road.

During that horrific half-hour drive, we bounced, rattled, and practically rolled in the pothole clusters that occupied the entire road. Only our friends and readers in this area can grasp the severity of this road had they ever had the misfortune to travel on it.

Yes, we know this is Africa, and indeed, our comments aren’t tendered as complaints. However, they are tendered as to our failure to find our way back to Marloth Park more diligently.

A few more elephant photos we’d yet to share in yesterday’s post.

Finally, we reached N4 and easily found our way back to Marloth Park. By the time we pulled into the driveway, it was almost 4:30 pm. We’d yet to put a dent in the day’s post. We still had to shower again and clean up to go out to Jabula for dinner as intended.

We decided to ditch our dinner plans, stay in and make bacon and eggs for dinner (nothing was defrosted), and spend the evening on the veranda. At one point, the much-needed rain and wind drove us indoors. But a few hours later, we had finished and uploaded the post, cooked our feeble dinner, and were able to dine outdoors during the balance of the soaking rain.

We couldn’t believe how many there were, as many as 30 to 40.

Whew!  We were grateful we’d seen the elephants crossing the road, which most certainly softened the blow of the remainder of the day. We’re curious about when and how they got that boat and trailer stuck on the Crocodile Bridge moving again. If you’ve heard anything, please let us know.

Last night in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day (Tom is Irish), we headed to Jabula for an enjoyable evening, running into friends, making new friends, enjoying the chatter with owner Dawn and helper Lynn, suddenly finding ourselves retelling this story, only to find locals practically rolling on the floor in laughter over our mishaps on the road.

A hornbill in a tree.  We spotted dozens of hornbills in Kruger.

We’re both easily able to laugh at ourselves and laugh we did along with everyone else.  Could the complex parts of these scenarios have been prevented? Should we have waited at the Crocodile Bridge for what may have been hours to have been able to get through? We’ll never know.

Should we have paid more attention to where we were in the rainstorm when we exited the Malelane Gate? Sure. Should we have avoided the pothole detour and driven further back to Malelane to get to N4? Absolutely.

A lone male impala stares as we pass by.

So here’s our story, folks. Today at 2:00, we’ll visit the home of locals we’ve met that have quite an account to share, which we’ll be posting here in a few days. Tonight, on this perfect weather day, we’re making pizza and look forward to dining on the veranda while we wait for visitors to stop by.

Happy day!

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

Visitors were sitting on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, enjoying the view. We had taken the Manly Ferry to come to see the opera we’d booked but arrived one day too early. At that point, we were preoccupied with our illegal immigrant status, possibly attributing to the error. Thank goodness it wasn’t one day too late. For details, please click here.

Part 1…Harrowing, exciting and frustrating day in Kruger National Park…A staple gun dictated “safari luck!”

Upon approaching this scene, we weren’t quite sure what was going on.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Vultures in a tree in Kruger are on the lookout for a meal.
Vultures were relaxing after a meal in Kruger.
After working on yesterday’s post for only a short while and, with the sun shining on a cooler day, we said, “What the heck! Let’s head out to Kruger for a few hours and see what we can find! We’ll finish the post when we return by 1:00 pm or so.”
By 10:00 am, we were on the road. On our past entries into Kruger, we found two to three hours was plenty of time to see some wildlife, take photos, and return to our entrance point, known as the Crocodile Bridge Gate.
Upon closer inspection, it was apparent; the boat trailer couldn’t fit across the Crocodile Bridge, our means of exit after a day in the park.

There are nine entrance gates to Kruger, each of which is many kilometers from one another. If one enters one location, unless they have plans for another area, they generally exit from the same gates. 

However, like us four years ago, on our way to the Blyde River Canyon, we exited from a gate considerably further north than our entry point at the Crocodile River, which is close to Marloth Park. 

Lots of lookie-loos stopped to view and comment on the situation. Based on this scenario, there was no way anyone was getting in or out of Kruger via this bridge.

Based on our current location, it takes approximately eight minutes from Marloth Park and another 12 minutes to reach the Crocodile River gate. This 20-minute drive seems to pass quickly while we chatter with enthusiasm over entering Kruger once again.

Since we recently purchased an annual pass that pays for itself after six uses, we have no doubt it will have been a worthwhile purchase during our remaining 12 months (off and on) in Marloth Park.

This was the first of over 30 elephants we watched cross the road.  In the distance, difficult to see, was the most enormous matriarch we’d ever seen. Had we been 10 minutes earlier, we may have seen her. 

Why would we go to Kruger instead of staying in Marloth Park when we have so much wildlife right before our eyes?  If you’re one of our many newer readers, we’ll explain. In Marloth, generally, we don’t have the big five; elephant, lion, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhino.

Had we been 10 minutes later, we’d have missed the entire parade of elephants crossing the road.
However, from time to time, lions enter Marloth Park as they have most recently, so all residents must keep an eye and ear out to ensure their safety. There’s always been a ban on walking in Marloth after dark, which is particularly important right now. 
There were numerous babies of varying ages in the “parade” of elephants. We were so close, little to no zoom was required to capture these photos.

Based on the lion attack story we posted this past week on March 11th, about Jonas, who was attacked by a lion years ago, one can never be too cautious. Click here if you missed that post.

By 10:20, we presented our “documents” at the Crocodile entrance gate. After the usual five-minute processing time, including inspecting the trunk for guns, alcohol, or harmful substances, the bar was lifted, and we gained access to the park.

At first, we thought there might be a dozen, but they kept coming and coming.

There are many roads one can choose in the park, but there are only a few paved roads, which to complete in a full circle may require a full day of driving to end up back at the entrance. As a result, like many others, we choose to embark upon some of the bumpy dirt roads.

Is the viewing better on the dirt roads?  Not necessarily. The wildlife may be close to the paved road or any of the myriad bumpy dirt roads. It’s not as if the animals prefer one road or another when they are often on the roads for only a short period, preferring to head back into the bush for food, shelter, and safety.

Only one other car enjoyed the experience with us.  We were on a very bumpy dirt road many visitors to the park might have avoided.

By about noon, after we’d seen only a bit of wildlife, mostly impala, of which we have many in Marloth Park, we felt that our usual “safari luck” may not be present. We accepted this fact, acknowledging that sooner or later, such a day would occur. For once, we were about to experience less than a successful day.

With a map in hand, we planned our route to make a complete circle leading us back to the Crocodile Bridge gate with a plan to get back “home” in plenty of time to complete the day’s post and head to Jabula in time for happy hour and dinner. 

We practically held our breath as they made their way across the dirt road.

Little did we know what lay ahead. First off, the bumpy dirt road we’d chosen for the route was in poor shape with what Tom referred to as a “washboard” surface. Oh, good grief! It was bumpy indeed.

The little car rattled more than I’d ever heard a car rattle, at a few points, even amid Tom’s careful driving, sounded as it was ready to fall apart and leave itself on the road in a pile of cheap metal. 

This elephant to the left turned to look at us, wondering if we were a threat.  We were prepared to back up at any moment.

But, oh, this wasn’t the worst of it. The fact we hadn’t seen much in the way of wildlife to fuel our enthusiasm, the car’s five-speed transmission, coupled with the outrageous road, made for one unpleasant drive. Wait, more is yet to come.

Finally, once we exited the gate and neared the bridge, we couldn’t believe the scene before our eyes. The narrow one-way bridge was blocked by a car hauling a boat. The trailer became stuck between the low support posts, intended to keep vehicles from driving off the bridge into the dangerous Crocodile River (hence, its name). The trailer’s wheels were wider than the bridge itself.

After several had passed, she turned to look at us directly. Had she started moving toward us, we’d have high-tailed out of there.  Elephants have been known to topple over cars, crushing them in the process.

When we arrived at the scene, we were one of maybe three vehicles hoping to cross. Within about 10 minutes, 12 to 15 vehicles lined up with drivers and passengers getting out to check out the situation and perhaps, offer their two cents worth of advice, none of which would be effective without some major equipment coming to the scene.

We waited, waited, and waited. There was no way any of us would be getting across this bridge anytime soon. We had a decision to make…sit here and wait for what certainly would be hours or attempt to get out of the park via another route, the closest gate being Malelane Gate, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from our current location. 

She kept watching as more came across the road.

On the slow unpaved roads, we expected the drive would take an extra 90 minutes. Plus, when we exited through the Malelane Gate, we’d have another 49 kilometers (30.5 miles) to return to Marloth Park. Most likely, we’d be back at our place by 2:00 pm or so. We decided to leave rather than sit for hours at the blocked Crocodile Bridge.

Then, of course, we had to regain entrance into the park. The person handling documents didn’t speak English well and had trouble understanding why we needed to get back into the park to exit via Malelane. 

Although not the matriarch, she may have been second-in-command. When she saw this tiny elephant and another baby crossing, she focused even more.

Finally, the gate agent figured it out, and he dug out our original documents but needed to staple the paperwork together. There were no staples in his staple gun, nor the next booth, nor in the next booth, and after about five or six minutes, he rousted up some staples. It was this delay…staples…that influenced an upcoming next experience.

Little did we know or anticipate that the dirt roads we had to take to get to the Malelane Gate were considerably worse than the bumpy dirt roads we’d experienced earlier. I can honestly say we’ve never traveled on a “washboard” road to this extent. If I thought the car was falling apart earlier, this wasn’t good. We couldn’t wait for the long ride to end.

Once she saw they were safe, she backed off, joining the others on the left side of the road. We’d practically held our breath during the entire crossing, thrilled and excited for the experience.

But then…amid our frustration (no, Tom didn’t get overly grumpy, but then, I wasn’t necessarily “overly bubbly” although we both were staying on an even keel), safari luck kicked in. Before our eyes, a scene we’d experienced four years ago and had dreamed of seeing once again lie before our eyes…the dozens of elephants crossing the road as shown in today’s photos.

Had it not been for the delay in finding the staples, we would have missed it.  We couldn’t stop smiling while rapidly taking photos as we watched this magical scene transpire before us. Of course, the first thing we said was, “Safari luck” rewarded us for the harrowing drive and the delays at the Crocodile Bridge.”

Mom and baby wildebeest were walking along the road.

The story doesn’t end here. But tomorrow, we’ll share the balance, a story of making mistakes, taking wrong roads, and choosing a ridiculous shortcut that only cost us more time and frustration, all of which, we must admit, was softened by this scene of the elephants, all due to a staple gun’s missing staples. 

We never made it to Jabula for dinner last night. We’ll go tonight instead. After all, I’m married to an Irishman and today is St. Patrick’s Day (also son Richard‘s birthday. Happy b’day Richard!), and indeed we’ll have some fun at Jabula tonight!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate and be safe in the process!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2017:

This cockatoo stopped by for a visit, alighting atop Bob’s medicinal Papaw tree in the yard. For more photos, please click here.

The miracle of life in the bush…What a wonder!…

And, there she was, Ms. Bushbuck, on the bottom step of our veranda with her precious newborn, proudly showing her off.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This newspaper article appeared in yesterday’s local paper, definitely befitting a “Sighting of the Day in the Bush!

It’s 4:30 pm, and we just returned from Kruger National Park after an exciting and harrowing day which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. WoW! All I can say is…

We recognized this mom based on her “dots” formation and how readily she approached us. She’s been visiting us every day over the past several weeks.
As for today’s story, I wished I’d have prepared and posted it before leaving for Kruger since now, as the evening wafts in, I’m a little bit off-kilter by writing this late in the day. 
We opted for the latter when Tom and I discussed whether we’d go to Jabula for dinner tonight or stay in, get the post done, and cook something easy for dinner. After sitting in the car for hours, the thought of getting ready to go out after I finish here isn’t particularly appealing.
The baby wasn’t quite sure what to do when she had never seen a pellet before.   She didn’t partake, only watching her mom take them from my hand.
As we’re sitting on the veranda, lightning, and thunder filling the skies above us, after it finally cooled after days of excessive heat, we’re content, especially after we came “home” to nine kudus, four warthogs, and one male bushbuck all waiting for us. 
Now, for today’s little story…a story of love and a wonderment…a story of nature at its finest for us humble animal lovers who can’t miss an opportunity to share a tender story of a birth, a life, and devotion.
She was curious as to what was transpiring and showed no fear.
It all began about three weeks ago (we’ve been here almost five weeks) when the most beautiful and friendly female bushbuck came into the yard to introduce herself. Keeping in mind, most of the animals in Marloth Park of a species are hard to differentiate when they often have almost identical markings and features.
But, this lovely young lady has some specific “polka dots” on her body that has made it easy for us to know it was her each time she’s come to visit over these many weeks.
Another special aspect to “Ms. Bushbuck” has been her willingness and eagerness to eat the pellets from my hand even more readily than taking those we’ve tossed onto the ground, as we do for most species. She lifts her head and makes eye contact with me as if asking, “Will you feed me?” How can I possibly turn her down?
When we fed mom the pellets, the baby hung around but soon lost interest and wandered a few meters away.
Unlike some female animals, she welcomes Tom equally and doesn’t skitter away when he comes close. She relates to him feeding her pellets as well but not quite as up close and personal as I do. 
Several times each day, she’s stopped by, and each time, we’ve both smiles at one another, happy to see her return. About a week ago, we noticed she’s stopped by around the same time each early evening while we sit on the veranda winding down for the day with a glass of iced tea, wine, or beer (for Tom).
Mom stopped eating to check on the whereabouts of her infant.
I fed her a few pellets, which she accepted gingerly, but without the usual enthusiasm she exhibits during daylight hours. After a few handfuls, she moseys off to the same spot in the bush in our yard where she settles in for the night, nestling into what appears to be the same spot each night, almost as if she’s built a comfy spot to sleep.
Once darkness falls, we could no longer see her there, but we’ve sensed she still is. We haven’t wanted to startle her by taking a light out there to check. In the morning, when we’re finally outdoors by 6:00 and 6:30 am, she’s been standing near the veranda waiting for us to come out.
By 9:00 or 10:00 am, she returns to see us, enthused for more pellets and a sip of water from the cement pond in the yard, not far from where she nestles at night.
We were thrilled and surprised to see Ms. Bushbuck returned with her tiny newborn.
One morning, while I was getting ready for the day, Tom was outside with her, feeding her pellets.  The warthogs tried to drive her away. She nestled in, close to Tom’s legs while he sat on the edge of the veranda, looking for protection from the aggressiveness of the warthogs. He didn’t hesitate to make her feel safe.
Often, she returns a few more times during the day, only to repeat this same pattern in the evening over the past week. We assumed she’s become comfortable with us and sleeps nearby, most likely up and about in the mornings long before us.
We never saw her return for the night on Wednesday night but assumed we’d see her again soon. Last night, after a 24-hour absence, she returned, but this time…she wasn’t alone…our hearts melted…at her side was the tiniest and I mean tiniest…little bushbuck we’ve ever seen.
At first, as they approached, the baby was a little hesitant.  But, mom, knowing she needed to nurse, wanted all the sustenance she could get.  She ate her fair share of pellets.
Sure, we can make all the assumptions we’d like about wildlife and their patterns and behavior.  And most times, we’d be wrong. But, somehow, this time, we feel confident we are right. Ms. Bushbuck returned to show us her precious tiny newborn.
Of course, we oohed and aahed over her shy baby, which undoubtedly she’d given birth to in that 24-hour time span we hadn’t seen her and her response was to enthusiastically accept countless handfuls of pellets from me, all the while keeping a watchful eye on her little bundle of joy.
Periodically, the baby would wander a few meters away, but mom never failed to take note and gather her baby back into the fold. Together, they stayed with us for hours, mom nibbling, baby suckling, and us smiling from ear to ear.
She’s a proud and happy mom, very young herself.
Tonight, it’s blissfully raining in buckets, and we don’t expect to see them in this downpour. But I assure you, we have no doubt they’ll return while we have the joyous opportunity to watch this little one grow and this loving mom nurture her along the way. 

Safari luck? Perhaps. Or, maybe we happen to be in the right place at the right time. However, in our heart of hearts, we’d like to believe that somehow, just somehow, our love of nature has put us in these divine situations because we belong here.

Thank you, dear readers, for sharing this magical place with us. We couldn’t be more appreciative and humbled.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2017:

The Esplanade, a walkway along the shore in Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia. For more photos, please click here.

The Crocodile River rarely disappoints spectators but, may disappoint wildlife…

Four waterbucks are sunning on sandbars.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Big Daddy Kudu was resting in the shade on a hot day.

Every few days, we jump into the little car to drive to the Crocodile River. Along Seekoei Street ( I dare you to try to pronounce that street name), several stopping points offer views of the Crocodile River, which separates Marloth Park from Kruger National Park.

The river is a lifeline for wildlife that needs to drink and cool off in the often low water riverless rainy. Now, still in the rainy season, it isn’t nearly as prolific as we’d seen when we were here for years ago.

Here’s a photo we took yesterday of the Crocodile River (below). It’s been scorched these past few weeks:

In a good rainy season, these sandbars may be covered and the river may be flowing. We took this photo yesterday from a sheltered brick overlook on Seekeoi Street. Now it stands almost entirely still awaiting the next rains.

Here’s a photo we took four years ago of the Crocodile River from a similar location shown on our link here:

 We took this photo on December 28, 2012. Note how much more water there was in the Crocodile River than in yesterday’s picture above.

From this site“The Crocodile river is 1000km long and it spans over 4 provinces and through Botswana & Mozambique. It originates north of Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, in the Steenkampsberg Mountains Downstream of Kwena Dam, the Crocodile River winds through the Schoemanskloof and down the Montrose Falls. It then flows eastwards past Nelspruit and joins the Komati River at Komatipoort.The Crocodile River in Mpumalanga has a catchment area of 10,446 km2. Upstream it is a popular trout fishing place. It flows through the Nelspruit industrial area, the Lowveld agricultural area and borders the Kruger National Park. The decrease in the flow of the river is probably due to water abstractions for irrigated fruit farming.”

One male and two female waterbucks resting on a sandbar.
Before we know it we’ll be rolling into fall and winter here when it rains even less than in the current-soon-to-be-ending summer months. We can only pray for rain to keep the wildlife thriving and in good health. That’s why, here in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park (and other parts of Africa) locals rejoice when it rains.
Of course, tourists may be disappointed when they come here in the summer months for a mere three or four days to discover it raining almost every day. Fortunately, for us, we jump for joy along with the locals during a fruitful soaking rain.
Several oxpeckers are nearby as she lounges on the sandbar.

With the rains, comes the most valuable benefit of all…the growth and proliferation of green grasses, plants, and trees that many animals in this environment require for the sustenance of life itself.

For the first time, we’ll be in Marloth Park during the dry season which we hear can be devastating for the wildlife. Many homeowners in the area make a point of trying to feed the wildlife as much as possible during this period.  This is both good and bad.

A lone elephant at quite a distance.

Many homeowners in Marloth Park have homes in other parts of South Africa or other parts of the world. If they come for a few week holiday, feed the animals and then are gone for many months to come, the wildlife who’ve become accustomed to their generosity while they’re here, are left confused and deprived when their “supply” is no longer available.

With the best of intentions, we’ll be gone a year from now and hope there will have been plenty of rain for those dear creatures we also favored with food while we were here. There’s no perfect solution.

The elephant is eating the lush green vegetation on the sandbar.

Most animals here in the park are omnivores thriving on the vegetation of one sort or another. It’s with this knowledge that all of us provide some nourishment when we can. But, sadly its never enough and culling becomes a disheartening reality when there isn’t enough to go around.

Yesterday, as mentioned above, we made our usual jaunt to the Crocodile Rive every other day, always hopeful we’ll get a glimpse of the magnificent visitors to this scenic environment.

We always feel fortunate to see one of these stunning animals.

We stopped along the Seekeoi Street many times ending up at the brick lookout and for the first time since our return to Marloth, there were tourists there enjoying the scenery. It isn’t long before most visitors hear of this particular spot, and we’ve been surprised not to see others there before us, most recently.

A group of perhaps a total of 12 people, with iPads, tablets, phones, and binoculars in hand, busily took photos of the scenic surroundings which included a lone elephant and several waterbucks, who seem to frequent the river more regularly than many other species.

A female waterbuck stands to check her surroundings.

We stayed for awhile, chatting with the others people while taking several photos of our own. No doubt, we were at quite a distance from the wildlife but made every effort to keep a steady hand while shooting the images.

Back on the road, we spotted more wildlife, surprisingly out from under-cover on the extremely hot and humid day. Overall, as usual, it was a good outing in Marloth Park. 

A type of goose we spotted, too far to identify.  Any comments from our bird enthusiast friends?

Soon, we’ll be heading to Kruger again but we’re hoping to do so after this extreme heat passes. The AC in the little car isn’t that good and we’re more likely to see more wildlife on a day with more moderate temperatures.

Soon, we’re off to Komatipoort to shop which will require five stops at various shops; the Spar Market, the pharmacy, the biltong shop, the meat market and the liquor store. 

May YOU have a stupendous day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2017:One

e year ago today, we got together with dear friends Linda and Ken, from the UK and whom we met four years ago in Marloth Park. We’ve since seen them here again, much to our delight and will see them again when they return from a cruise and other travel. For more details, please click here.

A special day…It was 6 years ago today we wrote our first post…

Baby bushbuck is no more than a month old.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bushbuck mom drank from our pond after eating the dry pellets.

When we recall posting our first story on March 14, 2012, which was 7½ months before our leaving Minnesota on October 31, 2012, it seems much longer ago. Tom was still working on the railroad until the day we departed while I was entrenched in getting everything sold and making plans for our future lives of world travel.

At that point, we were totally committed and never faltered in that commitment, even when we encountered one obstacle after another. Leaving one’s home country for years to come proved to be a much more daunting task than we ever imagined when we conceived of the idea in January 2012.

Mrs. Warthog lays down to feed her two fast-growing piglets, most likely three or four months old.

My return to good health in November 2011, after a massive change of diet the prior August, prompted our decision a mere two months later. Traveling had never been a priority in our lives with my poor health and our stringent work schedules.

Oddly, neither of us had dreamed about traveling and rarely discussed anywhere we’d like to go if we did. Oh, we took a few trips, mostly shorter flights when I couldn’t sit for more than a few hours on a plane, but we were always anxious to get back home to family, pets, and friends. How did this happen? 

Big Daddy Kudu visits almost daily. Last night he stopped by while we were dining outdoors. We no longer have dinner indoors when dining outside is heavenly.

How were we able to leave everything and everyone we loved behind to embark on this peculiar and yet enchanting lifestyle? Besides the health aspect, I think both of us had a lot of responsibility at a very young age. 

Tom’s first child, Tammy, was born when he was 17, and my first son, Richard, was born when I had just turned 19 (his 51st birthday is this week). By the time we were each in our early 20’s, we had owned houses, worked long hours, and had responsibilities many don’t experience well into their 30’s in today’s world.

As the sun began to set, mom and baby bushbuck stopped by for a visit.

Our 20’s and our 30’s flew by in a blur. When Tom and I met, he was 38, and I was 43.  Like most parents, we were overworked and, at times, totally engrossed in our responsibilities. We made mistakes as parents, as spouses to others, and in life in general. 

Together, we formed a strong unit in continuing our sense of responsibility in helping in the care of aging parents and others. We never allowed ourselves to think of or conceive of an alternate plan for the remaining years of our lives.

And then, with my returning health, we both ironically and simultaneously had a powerful and unstoppable desire to “step outside the box” of our predictable lives. Of course, most of our family members weren’t thrilled we were leaving with no particular end in sight. We understood that then and fully understand that now.

Their eyes leaned into a sound they heard in the bush. Even the baby’s instinct to watch for predators has kicked in at an early age.  Fortunately, there are few predators in Marloth Park, except for a few lions roaming around.

But, as time has passed, we’ve become even happier and more fulfilled (if that’s at all possible) in this nomadic life;  free, unencumbered, and dedicated to embracing the world around us.

No, it’s not always easy. Today, the temperature will reach 98F (37C), and we’ll spend no less than 15 hours outdoors in the heat. With a bit of a hot breeze, the dry dirt roads scatter dust and dirt around us, making us sneeze and have itchy eyes. 

The mozzies bite day and night, and yet…reading our posts. You can easily see how happy we are, we have been, here in Marloth Park and many other countries throughout the world.

They both came right up to the edge of the veranda, looking for pellets.  Of course, we complied.

We’re living a dream, a dream neither of us ever had in our old lives, a dream one can barely imagine as becoming real, manageable, and fulfilling. So today, six years later, we thank every one of our loyal readers for sharing this dream with us.

Today is post #2052. That’s right. In these past six years, we’ve written 2,052 stories.  It wasn’t until 2013 that we began posting daily and more photos as time moved along. Documenting this journey has added more to our experiences than we ever dreamed possible.  

If seven years ago, someone told me I’d have to write a story every day of my life, I’d have said it was an impossible task. Now, if someone said I couldn’t write a story every day of my life, I’d say it was impossible not to.

A mongoose dosing on the bottom step after another wild frenzy over the sour cream in the cup.

As laborious or tedious as it may seem at times, particularly with such stories as the past several days, it’s always done with love.  When one is motivated to perform a task out of love, it’s much easier to do. Should the time ever come that we can no longer write here, it would be the time to stop traveling.

If anything, we almost feel as if we’ve just begun. Our enthusiasm, commitment, and desire to share our story are only enhanced as each day passes. Please share our story with others who may glean a morsel of pleasure from it, and please, dear readers, continue with us…there’s so much on the horizon.

Please click here for our original post on March 14, 2012.

May you find your joy and fulfillment.

Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2017:
We “borrowed” this photo from Bob, our landlord in Fairlight/Manly. The previous night, while dark and cloudy, we spotted two cruise ships leaving Sydney Harbour heading out to sea. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Yikes…We attended a full-day venomous snake handling course…Scary, but highly educational…

 Black Mambas are only black inside their mouths, not on their sleek skin. They are considered one of the most venomous and dangerous fast-moving snakes in the world. Tom handled one of these, as shown below.  No, thanks for me! Chris, our instructor, held the Black Mamba as we took this photo.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

During yesterday’s drive through Marloth Park searching for photo ops, we spotted this Hornbill, one of our favorite birds in the area. 

There are a known 184 species of snakes in South Africa. In years past, 151 species had been identified, but now, additional species have been discovered with the use of DNA.

Not all snakes are venomous. As for this area, referred to as the “Lowveld,” 60% of those species are found. The Lowveld is described as follows from this site: The Lowveld is the name given to two areas that lie at an elevation of between 500 and 2,000 feet (150 and 600 meters) above sea level. One area is in the South African provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Swaziland, and the other is in southeastern Zimbabwe. Both are underlain largely by the soft sediments and basaltic lavas of the Karoo System and loose gravels. They have been extensively intruded by granites. Other resistant metamorphic rocks also occur; these commonly appear as low ridges or what seem to be archipelagoes of island mountains. The higher western margins of both areas testify to the degree of erosion resulting from the flow of rivers running east or southeast.”

Tom was using the grabbers to grasp the highly venomous Snouted Cobra.

In South Africa, you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being bitten by a snake. Annually, between 24 and 37 out of 100,000 population are bitten by snakes. Nearly all bites are on the extremities. The mortality rate is between 1% and 2%, resulting in an approximate 98% survival rate.

With these statistics, it’s evident the likelihood of dying from a snake bite is rare. However, in most cases, bites occur by accident (stepping on a snake), a surprise encounter while hiking, walking on one’s property, and other chance encounters. 

 Tom was bending over to grasp the tail of the Snouted Cobra, keeping the head down in the grass, to place the snake in the container.

Many snake bites could be prevented by the proper response when they are discovered. First off, snakes have no ears resulting in total deafness.  Instead, they respond keenly to vibrations. That fact is why we’ve always heard when one has a close encounter with a snake, DON’T MOVE…STAND COMPLETELY STILL! That still holds today.

What would determine a close encounter? It may be different for many snakes, depending on their striking distance. To be safe, if a snake is found within your immediate space, don’t try to guess its striking distance. Instead, STAND PERFECTLY STILL and wait for it to slither away. 

When “capturing” the Black Mamba, it is imperative to immobilize the head close to the ground and raise the tail. Tom managed to do this while it was desperately attempting to escape.  The Black Mamba is the fastest snake on the planet.

If a snake doesn’t sense ANY vibration,  generally, it will move away. If a snake is in another room or a distant area, get away as quickly as possible, securing your space in a closed place where it can’t enter. Chris explained, “Don’t bother to stand still if the snake is in the living room and you are in the kitchen!  Just get away as quickly as possible away from the direction the snake is moving.

If a person resides in an area with many snakes, it’s wise to have an emergency number available to have the snake removed from inside your property. If it’s in your yard or another outdoor area, it will move on…steer clear in the interim.

In Marloth Park, we can call Snake Removal at the following numbers: John Webb, 079 778 5359 or 071 480 6453 or Daniel Louw, 082 574 0186 or Field Security at 082 828 1043.

After over 16 years of snake handling experience, Chris didn’t hesitate to handle the deadly Black Mamba.

In the event of a snake bite, there are several vital steps to consider:

1. Immediately call Field Security at 082 828 1043 to arrange for the quickest means of transportation to a medical facility with anti-venom, which may be by ambulance or helicopter. Also, if no response call, Securicor Lowveld at 082 567 2350 or 086 111 1728.
2.  Don’t attempt to “catch” or take a photo of the snake. This could result in being a bit additionally.  Immediate medical care is more important than the type of snake. 
3.  Don’t drive yourself or have others drive you to a medical facility. Typically, trained emergency response staff has means of treating your symptoms en route to an appropriate hospital which ultimately can keep you alive until you arrive. (continued below photo)

Through years of training and experience, Chris can only handle this dangerous snake with such skill.

4.  Do not “cut and suck” the bite wound. This has been proven to be ineffective.
5.  Don’t panic – Although it is impossible to stay emotionally calm, one must attempt to stay physically calm.  The more the bite victim moves about, the faster the venom moves throughout their bloodstream.
6.  There’s no benefit to using heat or ice.
7.  Do not use a tourniquet unless you are three or four hours from medical care, and then it’s done so as a last resort.

A Black Mamba doesn’t have black skin as most assume.  Only the interior of its mouth is pitch black.

There are two types of anti-venom used in South Africa today:

  • Polyvalent contains antibodies of several kinds of snakes and is effective for most venomous snake bites.
  • Monovalent, which contains antibodies for only one type of snake in South Africa – the Boomslang.
Chris and Tom were all smiles with the Black Mamba. I’m glad my job was to take photos and not handle the snakes, although I took the classroom course and the test. 

Often, once the patient is in the hospital, the medical staff will immediately start various life-extending procedures while they wait to determine if anti-venom is necessary. A small percentage of patients are allergic to the anti-venom, which may result in severe anaphylaxis, which can be more deadly than the snake venom itself and may lead to death.

A the end of the course, around 4:00 om, the Black Mamba was elongated while Chris held its mouth in place.

It’s easy to become terrified when reading this information, but in areas where snake bites are a possibility for all of us. As laypersons, we cannot guarantee that all of the information provided today and yesterday would ensure safety from venomous snake bites. 

Please seek further information or attempt to educate yourself to the best of your ability by attending a course such as we’ve presented over these past few days or other resources that may be available in your area. For the Lowveld, contact Lowveld Venom Suppliers at 082 372 3350, email at, or their website:

Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra took a Facebook “live” video during the “hands-on” portion of the course.

Our special thanks to Chris and his staff and Marloth Park Honorary Ranger Sandra. They facilitated an extraordinary experience we’ll never forget and have been excited to share with our worldwide readers.

In October 2013 in Kenya,  Tom handled several non-venomous snakes which may b found here.

In the event you missed yesterday’s Part 1 of this story, please click here.

Have a safe and bountiful day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2018:

Bob, our fantastic landlord, and a new friend came running to tell us the Kookarburros were on his veranda. We couldn’t believe our eyes for this up-close view of these vast, beautiful birds. Within a week, they were coming to visit us, eating ground beef out of my hand. For more photos as we settled into Fairlight, Australia, please click here.